Archive for February, 2010

Natural order

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Being a parent is an awesome responsibility. The choices and guidance I provide to my kids now can have a huge impact on the adults they become. Sometimes this can be daunting, especially when you realize you only have one shot at some elements.

One such element is something I’ve been wondering about for a while now. I’ve asked a couple of people for input, and for the most part, they just laughed. I don’t think they realize the magnitude of the issue. So here it is:

In what order should we watch the Star Wars films?

Should we go for released order, i.e. New Hope, Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi (the original trilogy), then episodes¬† 1-3? This was the order I grew up with. This way, you get the surprise that Darth Vader is Luke’s father. This is what I’m familiar with.

Alternatively, we could go in story order, with episodes 1-3 first.¬† It’s impossible for me to truly understand how the original trilogy will be interpreted already having the back story of episodes 1-3, beyond superficial observances like half way through the story, the effects are toned way down and suddenly there are characters running around the films.

You’re laughing at me now, aren’t you?

Binary Thumbs

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

I tried playing Halo 3 the other night. Oh dear.

I thought I’d start off gradually and selected difficulty mode “Easy”. “The game practically plays itself”, claimed the description of the easy mode setting. Nevertheless, I still managed to die.

Now, ok, I should have been wearing my glasses. My original comfy seat on the sofa, about 10′ away from my 40″ tv, was quickly replaced by perching on the edge of a seat about 3′ away, but still my right eye was tearing from trying to make sense of all the detail. But never mind all that. The ultimately frustrating thing about the game I found was the controls.

For those who have never played, it seems that the left analogue stick controls movement left/right/forward/back, while the right analogue stick turns you left/right and causes you to look up and down. These are all pretty crucial when trying to shoot some alien creature ducking behind a tree, 20 yards in front of you. That’s kind of what the game is about.

I’m afflicted with the terrible physical disability thumbus binaris – possibly as a result of hundreds of keyboard based games and over exposure to Playstation 1 games. My thumbs don’t do analogue. It’s left or right or nothing. There’s no slightly-little-bit-to-the-left-but-not-too-much, often required to nudge the sights just past the edge of the tree ready for the alien. No, I swing around at full force like a drunken muppet on ice. And usually while staring at the sky or the ground, leaving me wondering where the heck I am now.

This isn’t a new discovery. I seem to remember having the same kind of “fun” with Goldeneye on N64. This may also explain why I’ve been less inclined to invest in PS2, PS3 or XBOX gaming, compared to PC games. I’m ok with a keyboard and mouse.

Am I getting too old for these games? Maybe I should just quit whining and try it again.

I’m certainly not going to venture online in this game just yet!

Groundhog Day

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Last week was Groundhog Day, and almost inevitably, Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day movie was showing on TV. It reminded me of articles I’d read last year, where the author attempted to work out how long Mr Murray spent repeating the same day over and over, by estimating the time required to learn to play a piano, speak French, etc. Opinions differ, ranging from 8 to 40 years. Either way, this is a seriously long time.

Even at the low end of the scale, I imagine 8 years would be enough time to get over the horror of the situation and accept the new lifestyle. It has it’s advantages for sure. Most importantly, you’re presented with potentially unlimited free time to spend doing whatever you want. Although you can’t take anything physical along with you day to day, knowledge and skills persist, so you can learn to play instruments, speak new languages, learn how to paint. I guess if you can get to an airport, you could learn to fly, too – especially as any fatal crashes are resolved at 6am the following morning.

There’s a ton of things you no longer have to worry about. You don’t have to worry about going to work any more. You don’t have to worry about money – your bank account replenishes every morning and you can always rack up credit cards without worrying about repayments. You don’t have to worry about mortgage payments or utilities. You can eat or drink whatever you want, seeing as your body also resets every morning – yay, no hangovers! You don’t have to worry about illnesses or crime, and you can be secure in the knowledge that everyone you care about is safe because the world resets every morning.

Sounds appealing* when you think of it like that.

Now imagine you’ve spent 8, 10, 20, or 40 years like that, and suddenly you get snapped out of it into a normal timeline. All those worries come back in a flash, and you’re not ready for it. Suddenly, you have no idea what’s going to happen that day, and now your actions have consequences.

I think that’d scare the life out of me. I picture Bill Murray wandering out into the snow covered street after the end of the movie and suddenly realizing, potentially for the first time in decades, that he has no idea what it going on in the town around him.


* Ok, the downsides might balance this out a bit. It must get pretty lonely after a while when no-one remembers the previous day’s interactions and you can’t talk about anything you’ve been doing without them thinking you’re crazy.

Caprica, disbelief unsuspended.

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

I watched the second episode of Caprica last night. This is the prequel to Battlestar Galactica, tracing the development of the Cylons. So far, I’m enjoying it, but in this episode I noticed something that kind of broke the suspension of disbelief.

It wasn’t the appearance of the Cylon prototype. There is something that’s not quite right about the CG animated Cylon; it doesn’t seem to settle in the scene like it’s actually there. I can’t put my finger on what’s wrong, though. Maybe it’s rendered too shiny? Maybe it’s too sharp in contrast to the rest of the scene? Maybe there’s something wrong with the animation – not weighted correctly, perhaps? Maybe the appearance of an eight foot tall battle robot sitting in a teenager’s bedroom is just not right to start with.

But no. The thing that caught my eye was this:

A VGA cable in the back of a monitor in the lab where they’re working on the Cylon.

Elsewhere in the show they have video playing on the interior surface of house windows. They have video playing on a sheet of paper. Super hi-tech stuff. But down in the lab, they have a monitor with a familiar blue VGA connector plugged in the back. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a Dell logo on the front.

It brought me right back down to Earth, in all senses of the phrase!

Alright, I’m a nerd.