17 December 2009

Video Review of Phantom Menace

/Film posted someone's 70-minute video review of the disappointing disaster that was the Phantom Menace. Whenever someone asks whether I like Star Wars (the topic doesn't really arise that often these days, but when it does...) I always have to qualify my positive response by saying I only like the original trilogy, and not the prequels. Well, the creator of this video review of feels the same way and offers some salient reasons as to why Episode I is so terrible.

Quite well done, actually. The review is divided into seven parts. Warning for mild profanity.

Part 1/7

Part 2/7

Part 3/7

Part 4/7

Part 5/7

Part 6/7

Part 7/7

16 December 2009

Does Rogers Think I'm Stupid?

As glad as I was to return to Canada after several years of living in the United States, there are a few things I find severely lacking north of the 49th parallel.

One, amazon.ca is an extremely pitiful, pathetic cousin to amazon.com in terms of variety of products offered. I'd grown accustomed to the one-stop-shop nature of amazon.com -- a characteristic the Canadian iteration doesn't even come close to matching.

Two, is the lack of competition and poor service in some industries compared to the United States. In the case of the telecom industry not only is service relatively poor in Canada, but Canadians for larcenous reasons are forced to pay more for less. A few mobiles have caught my eye over the past few years, but I never want to be stuck with a contract, again. Besides, my s620 still serves me well.

Anywhoo, I digress. This post was meant originally to relate an inane text message I received from Rogers, recently (I use Rogers Pay As You Go). Rogers periodically sends me text messages offering various services and options. This one said in effect, "you've had x number of text messages in the past 7 days. Pay $3 per month for 30 free text messages!"

As with all others from Rogers, this one was deleted. But in the midst of deletion it occurred to me that I really don't use text messages often, and certainly not the x number Rogers says I had in the past week.

My first thought was that somehow someone else was using my mobile number. A second after that, though, I realized the more likely scenario was that in calculating the number of text messages per week, Rogers must be including the texts Rogers themselves were sending me.

Not only does Rogers insist on spamming me, they want me to pay for the dubious privilege. Idiots.

25 November 2009

Lego Matrix

Found these youtube videos posted on /Film. The filmers recreated the roof-top bullet-time scene from the original Matrix, using Lego. 440 hours to film 1 minute 24 seconds.

This second video is a side by side comparison of the original with the Lego Matrix version:

16 November 2009

Swimming and an Autonomic Reflex

Once upon a time I watched part of a BBC documentary on the human body, in which they revealed that babies, under a certain age, will automatically hold their breath when dunked under water. As the babies get older, however, they lose this reflex. The video of babies "swimming" by themselves was kind of neat. Cute, too.

Being too cheap to purchase prescription swim goggles, I haven't as much as dipped a toe in a swimming pool for decades. Nevertheless, I still remember that I never required a nose clip to prevent water from flowing up my nasal passages. I just held my breath, and that was it.

As a young child I vaguely remember wondering, upon first viewing some competitive swimmers wearing nose clips, why they bothered. After the split second I considered this weighty conundrum, I concluded that as they obviously swim much faster so water must as a consequence threaten to go up their nose with greater force... thus nose clips as a preventive measure. Kids, eh?

Anywhoo, I never thought about it again, until recently (hence, this post). Apparently the use of nose clips is all dependent on how people were trained. In the beginning, everyone's nasal passage will close off and prevent water from going up their nose -- assuming they hold their breath underwater, obviously. However, those who first learn to swim with nose clips lose this autonomic reflex.

So this is an ability acquired in the womb... still possessed in young babies... then lost... then regained... and then, perhaps, lost again.

Interesting, eh? Well... I think it's interesting.

09 November 2009

Just Say No?

On CTV local news tonight there was a news report about a woman missing in Toronto area for the past two months or so. In the report, police stated that they would be asking all tenants of the missing woman's apartment building to let them enter their homes to take a look for any possible clues (aside: the report said that was 6 000 units which, if accurate, is one huge apartment building). Apparently this is the second time the police would be making a search of this kind in this case.

My first thought was that the police must be fishing. My second thought was that perhaps the police have a suspect, but not enough evidence for a warrant, so to avoid unduly forewarning the suspect plan to search all residents' homes, perhaps in the hope the suspect won't decline police entry in order to not appear suspicious.

This led me to wonder how I'd react if I was placed in a similar situation, with police knocking on my door, asking to search my home without a warrant on the off chance they'd find something to help solve a case.

My rational self thinks if it's the former, fishing, then it's idiotic, unreasonable, and given a world with no repercussions I'd say a definite, "no". If it's the latter, part subterfuge, then the police wouldn't really care about searching my place, anyway, so that's another, "no".

But then there's the inevitable fear, guilt, and resentment because, realistically, I'd find it difficult to say no, even though I'd probably want to. Fear of appearing guilty by declining. Guilt because if searching my home would help the police solve a case -- no matter how fantastical a possibility -- how would I possibly say no? Resentment at having to let police search my home for fear of appearing suspicious, resentment at being made to feel guilty, resentment at the loss of privacy, and guilty for feeling resentment.

Another not so involved thought popped in to my mind after the CTV broadcast about police asking to enter homes without warrants. I wonder if there will be any criminals trying to take advantage of the news report, impersonating police to gain access to apartments and stuff to steal, pretending to be looking for clues to the missing woman.

Finally, a question: what's the protocol for something like this? Would it be appropriate to ask police to first take off their shoes?

03 November 2009

PS3: Playstation Network

I've never used my PS3 to browse the web or purchase anything, but recently I inadvertently discovered what I consider to be a major bug in how Playstation Network accounts are managed. I say 'bug' but I suspect it's intentional, another example of some proprietary protection overkill by Sony.

What am I talking about? I purchased my PS3 when I was living in the United States so when I set up my PS3 user account I used my U.S. address. Now having relocated to Canada, I recently tried to update my information -- inexplicably, I am unable to update my address because Sony doesn't allow you to update the country of residence. Eh!?

After some cursory research, as far as I can gather Sony - unlike Nintendo with Nintendo Club - has no intention whatsoever of changing this policy.

Hmm... any work arounds? First I tried creating a new account/user with my current Canadian address. This worked fine. I could then transfer all my save games to my new user and delete the old account, right?

Not quite.

In this case a little paranoia paid off. Fortunately, prior to deleting my old account I decided to verify that I could use the save games with my new account. Kudos to Valkyria Chronicles, Assassin's Creed, Fallout 3, and Oblivion for letting gamers do this. A big disgusted boo to EA Sports NHL10 for not.

So... in order to not lose three completed seasons and the start of a fourth in NHL10 Be A Pro, I am forced to keep two user accounts on my PS3, one with my current address in Canada and the other with my previous address in the United States. Not a major fiasco by far, but definitely a major irritation for someone who very much prefers to avoid opening multiple accounts to the same service.

Anywhoo, I find myself blaming Sony more than EA Sports. All this hassle could have been easily avoided if Sony merely allowed people to update their country of residence.

I can only assume Sony designed it this way because different countries/regions have access to different content on the PS3, and Sony doesn't want PS3 owners changing their country of residence willy-nilly in order to access other regions' content.

Which is odd when I think about it, because I'd have thought more people purchasing downloads would result in more money for Sony. It's also odd because it seems a very crude and inadequate method. People can still create as many PS3 user accounts with international addresses as they have e-mail addresses.

This oddness, then, begs the question, "What's the point?" The only answer I can come up with is that this is merely another example of Sony being anal.

29 October 2009

United Airlines Breaks Guitars

I wonder if a different airline would have accepted liability. I'd hope so, but with airlines I've found 'hope for the best, expect the worst' to be the best attitude to have when traveling. A way to manage expectations and mitigate frustration.

United Breaks Guitars, by Dave Carroll.

United Breaks Guitars 2

Now it seems United has lost, temporarily, at least, Dave Carroll's luggage, too:

After famously breaking his guitar, United Airlines has managed to cause further trouble for David Carroll by losing his luggage — just as the Canadian singer-songwriter was en route to deliver a speech about customer service [...] --cbc.ca

24 October 2009

PS3: NHL10 as Therapy

Normally after watching the Vancouver Canucks lose I don't want to even think about hockey, at least not until the disappointment fades away. So I wouldn't have thought playing NHL10 right after was in the cards. It doesn't turn out that way, however. It's especially after a Canucks' loss that I need to sit down and play NHL10 to ease my wounded soul.

23 October 2009

A Matter of Opinion?

I'm not an ambulance driver, but I can say that when I see an ambulance -- light flashing, sirens blaring -- slow down as it approaches an intersection I assume it's for the obvious safety reasons.

I don't assume, as did a beige sedan in the opposing direction, that the ambulance is politely slowing down to let the sedan make a left turn.

22 October 2009

A Matter of Experience

Tonight I was witness once again to the all too familiar sight of a vehicle on the right lane of two right-turn lanes swing purposely wide -- cutting off the vehicle on its left, also turning right -- and enter the left lane. The sight is so common these days I no longer gape in disbelief; I shake my head and let it go.

Then why this post? Tonight I witnessed a van, in the right lane of two right-turn lanes, turn wide across the adjacent right turn lane on its left and into the far left lane of a three-lane one-way street. The vehicle adjacent was forced to slam on its brakes since, you know, by virtue of the van cutting across two lanes it couldn't even swing wide itself.

This incident made me aware that for the longest time whenever I make a turn, whether in two-right or two-left turn lanes, I never position myself so I'm next to an adjacent vehicle -- let alone in its blind-spot -- in the too often fulfilled expectation that the adjacent vehicle is going to have a desperate desire to swing wide into my lane.

This thought led me to wonder for how long I'd driven in this fashion. I don't remember, but I do remember that in my first one or two years of driving it never occurred to my law-abiding, logical self that anyone would even consider purposely swinging wide in such a situation.

Ah hah! I thought. Stuff like this is why young drivers get in so many accidents. It's not a new thought, by far. I know the statistics, teenage belief in immortality. Nevertheless, tonight was the visceral knowledge that, yes, experience does matter.

30 September 2009

Balsillie Loses Coyotes Bid

Oh well. As time went on it looked increasingly unlikely Balsillie would succeed in purchasing the bankrupt Phoenix Coyotes; today, bankruptcy court judge Baum rejected both the NHL and Balsillie's bid, the latter with prejudice. The NHL is welcome to make an improved bid.

Perhaps it's just me, but it feels like all Baum did was ice the puck, avoiding making a decision for fear of ramifications far beyond the purview of a bankruptcy court. Which begs the question why the heck it took Baum so long to simply decide to not make a decision.

At the beginning of this court process I thought the purpose of bankruptcy court was to get the most money possible for the most creditors. It's not that simple, as it turned out, or as I'd wished. I suppose it was naive of me to hope that a bankruptcy court would not let fear of setting a new precedence, and its potential ramifications, as a consequence of getting the most money for creditors affect getting the most money for creditors.

So... Bettman and the NHL are the winners, Balsillie, southern Ontario and Canada the losers. Oh yeah, I suspect Glendale will be losers, too, one or two years down the road when the NHL finds a new owner-that's-not-Balsillie who relocates the money pit Coyotes elsewhere.

The city of Glendale threw the dice on this one -- lose out on Balsillie's guaranteed $25 million, ($50 million if Balsillie had ended up moving the Coyotes) in the faint hope that someone somewhere will keep the Coyotes in Glendale long term. Especially as Bettman would only guarantee to keep the Coyotes in Glendale for the 2009-2010 season. It's all in hindsight, but just think... what if Glendale had supported Balsillie's bid? Right now Glendale would be $25 million richer and Balsillie would still have lost his bid.

Finally, let's not forget The Great One. Was Gretzky a good coach of a bad team? Vice versa? All of the above? I don't know. I do think the NHL could have treated him better, though, after all Gretzky's done for the NHL. I suppose it's a case of what have you done for me lately.

27 September 2009

Second Cup

I have to thank Second Cup; I've been drinking less coffee because of them. There's a Second Cup coffee shop at my workplace which I patronized once or twice a week in the recent past. Nothing wrong with their coffee... but the till at this location never accepts my credit cards or debit cards. The past few instances the cashier was as visibly irritated as I felt. No idea why that one location has problems; as I dislike carrying coins -- and I don't like being blamed for holding up the line when trying to use an accepted payment method -- I decided to stop going there completely.

26 September 2009

PS3: NHL 10, Part III

Another bug has made its appearance in NHL 10 for the PS3. Twice, perhaps thrice, now, in the middle of a game the graphics have gone all Cubist. Sound effects, announcers, the game goes on except that it's impossible to see anything. Fortunately, it's an easy fix. Hit the pause/start button to open the game menu and go to instant replay to refresh the screen. Resume game and you're good to go.

A Matter of Trust

On my commute to work I walk by a medium-sized grocery store.
Fairly convenient if I don't buy anything heavy; at least, it would be
convenient if I ever shopped there. I've never even entered.

What stops me? A prominent sign outlining store policy that all
customer bags be left with the cashier upon entering. Reasonable,
right? A measured deterrent against shoplifters and

My initial response upon seeing the sign for the first time? If they
don't trust me why should I trust them? Not that the cashier is going
to have a burning desire to rifle through customers' bags; the issue
is whether I trust them not to give my bag to a thief by mistake.

I don't, as it happens, which is why I never shop there.

25 September 2009

Descaling an Electric Kettle

I wanted to descale my electric kettle and decided to use white vinegar for the first time. Impressive. I was both surprised and pleased at how well it does the job. I let a mixture of 1:1 (v/v) white vinegar and water sit in the kettle. A couple hours at room temperature and descaling was complete! After rinsing with water 4-5 times my kettle is once more back in active service.

24 September 2009

PS3: NHL 10, Part II

Well, looks like there's a fairly significant bug in NHL 10 for the PS3. I'm not referring to the AI, which as always can still use some improvement, but to something I consider relatively easier to solve and as such even more disappointing.

One of the changes with NHL 10 over NHL 09, and one of NHL 10's advertised selling points, was the inclusion of unlockable player equipment upgrades (pads, sticks, helmets, etc.) that boost your player's stats in various categories. I was initially resistant to equipping these items once they were unlocked but I soon overcame my disgust with the often ugly designs and always ill-matched colours.

What's the problem, then? As soon as my Be A Pro goalie won 25 games all the previously unlocked equipment returned to their initial locked and unusable status. What's up with that? That this issue is something I would think easily caught in any reasonable quality control regime just makes it all the more disappointing.

Oh well. At least my goalie no longer has to pretend to be colour blind.

20 September 2009

PS3: NHL 10

I wasn't sure if I should buy NHL '10 for the PS3 as all I read stated that NHL '10 wasn't a drastic improvement over NHL '09. The inclusion of a "Be a GM" mode doesn't immediately appeal to me, and including 'board play' doesn't do too much for me as I tend to play goal in "Be a Pro" mode -- thankfully retained for NHL '10.

Anywhoo, I purchased NHL '10 mentally prepared to admit it was a waste of my money; not because it's a bad game, far from it, but NHL '09 is already a great game so why bother with a minor upgrade?

To my delight my fears were misplaced. The fact that NHL '10 fixes several minor annoyances with NHL '09 makes buying NHL '10 worthwhile in itself. I say minor annoyances, but really as a person who likes to play goal they more often than not were quite irritating and detracted from NHL '09.

The most notable fixes are with the announcers. One, announcers in NHL '10 no longer describe a defenseman's own goal as the result of an amazing shot by the opposing team or as the poor play of the goalie. In NHL '09 the incongruity between the announcers' words and my emotions resulted in even more aggravation. No longer in NHL '10. Second, in NHL '09 injuries in-game were virtually ignored. I might see a player on the ice during play, but all too frequently a very brief close-up of the injured player was too brief to identify before play resumed. It's not like I know the jersey number of every single player on every single team. Of course, that's when the game even bothered to show the injury clip. I'd have no idea which player was injured or whether he was out for the duration. Thankfully, in NHL '10 this is remedied. The injury clip is enough to identify the player, and afterward the announcers even say whether the player will be returning. Nice.

Descriptions of breakaways in NHL '09 were a tad too inclusive. The announcers would describe a rebound as a breakaway. Stationary, open players and one-timers were too often called breakaways, as well. To date, none of that has cropped up in NHL '10.

In NHL '09, I'd always been disappointed that the game didn't provide some pre-game information on the opposing team, beyond the current win-loss record. No more in NHL '10. NHL '10 summarizes information like starting line ups, goalies, and stat summaries like PP, GF and GA.

Goalie animations have been added to in NHL '10, and there's much more manual control available. Overall an improvement, and it will even be more of an improvement when my use of the new controls becomes more automatic.

"Be a Pro" mode has been updated. My Be a Pro goalie had the option to play a prospect game prior to draft day to help determine draft position. Neat. Unfortunately, this leads to a minor annoyance with NHL '10. My goalie played well enough in the prospect game to be 1st pick on draft day. Huzzah! Too bad in the player stats page for my goalie under "Draft position" it still says "N/A". Eh?

Random points:

  • GM and coach updates could be more timely. I went from the prospect game, the draft, contract, then directly to my 1st NHL game. What happened to the AHL? It was only after I finished the 1st game that the GM thoughtfully informed me that they were having me play in the bigs first prior to deciding whether I neeeded seasoning in the AHL. The coach didn't talk to me until after my 1st NHL game, too.
  • In NHL '09 I thought goalie post-game evaluation was too tough. The game appeared to penalize goalie "grades" for circumstances not under the goalie's control. Poor grades adversely affect his number of starts. NHL '10 looks to have remedied this. A goalie can play well but still lose the game, and NHL '10 recognizes this. I might get fewer XP, but at least my grade average stays up and won't negatively impact my number of starts.
  • I was leary of loading the game multiple times until being drafted by the Vancouver Canucks. I still have no idea if Luongo's 12-year deal made it into NHL '10. Oh well, if Luongo's still with the Canucks after my 3-yr, $0.85M entry contract expires perhaps I'll consider other teams.
  • I wish in Be a Pro mode the game allowed you to see what the players' current contracts are.
  • NHL '10 does a nice job with playable injury graphics. Demitra played with a fractured jaw for a couple games and you could see the additional plastic guard he wore for added protection.

20 August 2009

Linksys Wireless-G Broadband Router, WRT54G2

So far I'm fairly impressed by how much difference changing a router can make. For the past eight months I'd been living with an inconsistent wireless home network, mostly evident with my Nintendo Wii.

My Nintendo would connect via wireless one day, and then with the identical settings throw up an error message the following day. I'd change my router to channel 11, and the Nintendo connected... and then it wouldn't next time I tried. Channel 1? Eureka -- but, no. I finally gave up and decided to try a new router.

Why did it take me so long to make the decision? I'd always thought that different routers differed in strength, speed, and area of coverage, and that's about it. Based on this erroneous assumption I wasn't optimistic a new router would change anything. After all, my Nintendo connected fine... sometimes. PS3, no problems.

Anywhoo, I started reading up on routers and my error quickly became evident. Most routers work at a 2.4 GHz which apparently is a frequency prone to interference from microwaves, cordless phones and the like. Living in an apartment building I can easily imagine my locale being full of potentially interfering devices.

So... I considered purchasing a "N" (or pre-"N") router with simultaneous dual band ability (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz). Dual band, because much fewer devices use 5 GHz so there's less chance of interference. Simultaneous, because the mere thought of having to manually switch between 2.4 and 5 GHz depending on what device I'm currently using annoys me to no end.

After all this, as you may have guessed from the post title, I decided to buy a Linksys Wireless-G Broadband Router (WRT54G2), broadcasting at a frequency of 2.4 GHz.


Unfortunately, all the simultaneous dual band N routers reviewed in my price range were lacking in some manner -- mostly poor efficiency/speed data transfer while in simultaneous mode. Still, this wouldn't have held me back from buying one, but I began to wonder whether any of my electronics were even compatible with this latest and greatest 5 GHz wireless "N" router technology, let alone being capable of taking advantage of it.

Anywhoo, my primary uses of a wireless router is to connect my Nintendo Wii and PS3, which I learned, after further reading, both operate at 2.4 GHz using "G" protocols/technology. Interesting.

The WRT54G2 is an older router, but the reviews I read were mostly positive; I decided to go with a proven performer rather than a router with all the latest bells and whistles. So far I haven't regretted my decision. Not only has my Nintendo Wii been connecting without fail, but another issue, one I had thought was unrelated to the router, has also been fixed. Thunderbird software on my desktop frequently failed to check/download POP3 e-mail, giving out "unable to connect" error messages for some or all of my e-mail accounts. No more.

The only negative of the WRT54G2 I've experienced is with its MAC filtering. My previous router allowed me to label each MAC address I added eg. "PS3" or "Nintendo" . With the Linksys... no. There's no way I'm going to be able to remember which MAC address is associated with each device. Still, all in all a minor quibble.

07 August 2009

Elections Canada

How novel. I phoned the 1-800 number for Elections Canada and it was picked up on the second ring by a... real, live person. I'd been expecting the typical automated menus, perhaps inputting my SIN to see whether I was still registered, or pressing a number dependent on the nature of my call, to determine whether Elections Canada had updated my previous U.S. address of six years to my new Canadian one (as an aside, apparently there's a five year limit to voting by mail for Canadian expats. No longer sufficiently Canadian, eh?).

Truthfully, I was so shocked a live person answered that I missed their initial greeting, and actually thought I had dialed the wrong number. In retrospect, perhaps I'd been a mite naive to assume Elections Canada would receive call volumes necessitating an automated answering service; who knows, maybe they do, but simply have refused to succumb to the dark temptation. How pleasant.

04 August 2009

PS3: Assassins Creed

I've always read good things about Assassins Creed for the PS3, so when I saw it at Best Buy for $30 I decided to pick it up. It's definitely worth $30, but I'm glad I didn't buy it for $50-60 when it was first released.

It's not that the game is poor; the game is quite good, actually. The story is interesting, the graphics and music are wonderful. Assassins Creed, unfortunately, has some fairly significant drawbacks in addition to all its positives.

The first issue... interesting story, I said, which is totally true. It left me wanting to learn the fate of Desmond (the character you play, and in an obvious lead-up for a sequel). Unfortunately, the game's in-story scientific premise sounded like just so much nonsense. Past memories inherited via genes? Lamarckism at work? Uh, no.

Gameplay was also another issue. Most of the time it was fine, but when moving quickly, ie. running from guards, it often became a headache. The automatic movement of the camera angle made controlling the character difficult, and gave me headaches requiring frequent breaks. The moving camera angle would obstruct my view of what I really wanted to see, and depending on where the character stood in relation to other objects difficult if not impossible to fix.

Assassins Creed is also short. Very short. Extrememly short. But ironically, its shortness turned out to be a mixed blessing; the missions quickly became quite repetitive and tedious so in part I was relieved the game was finished so quickly.

In-game beggars and crazy people? -- I really wish they wouldn't respawn, the latter more than the former. I have to admit the urge to break one of the assassins' rules regarding innocents was sometimes too much for me to resist.

I give Assassins Creed for the PS3 3.5 out of 5 stars.

01 July 2009

Animated Short: Alarm

Found this posted at /Film. Funny! 9 min. Click for details.

Pets in the Passenger Cabin

So... I've read that Air Canada is now allowing pets (cats and dogs) on to passenger cabins during flights. I presume they'll arrange seats to accommodate anyone with allergies. While I accept having to sit beside crying babies and toddlers, as a non-pet person I'm much less willing to accept pets and potentially barking dogs.

There was a time when the mere thought of having to make trans-Atlantic or -Pacific flights twice a year would not have irritated me. That time is long gone, squeezed out of my system by cramped seats, security, and airport delays. Traveling by plane used to be an adventure... when I was eight. Since then it's been more something needing to be endured and suffered in order to get to my destination. The single best thing about moving back to North America? Not having to endure more than five hours per flight.

I could make a list of all the things that irritate and annoy me about flying but they all can be distilled in to the same issue, stress. Flying is stressful. I've posted before about some of my pitiful experiences with various airlines. The cost of a ticket, overbooking, missed transfers, long lines, security, immigration, cramped quarters and more, all contribute. I wish airlines would do more to alleviate that stress, in the name of humanitarianism if nothing else.

I've read that British Airways recently asked its employees to volunteer to work for a month without pay, and I gather many airlines are still having trouble staying out of the red after 9/11 and the more recent increase in fuel prices last (?) year. So... it's not easy for everyone involved, airlines included. I just wish that the airlines' solution to all their financial woes didn't feel so much like trying to stuff ever more sardines into a tin can.

15 June 2009

Balsillie's Coyotes Bid Rejected

Ugh. Looks like the judge rejected Balsillie's bid for the Phoenix Coyotes.

I just don't understand the business sense of the NHL not wanting to move a team from the American desert to Canada, where hockey is the sport and not the 3rd or even 4th wheel as in the USA. Well, not strictly true. I can see why Toronto and Buffalo wouldn't want another team in the area, but at the same time I think that's a selfish POV and short-sighted in terms of what's beneficial for the NHL.

In this economy you'd think the NHL would shore up its fan base rather than alienate it. Though, as I posted before, that's probably part of the problem. Canadians are hockey fanatics, at least relative to the U.S., so the NHL feels free to support an American bankrupt team over relocation to Canada. It's funny... funny in a sad and depressing way... I don't remember the NHL kicking up such a battle to prevent the Winnipeg Jets or Quebec Nordiques relocating to the USA.

But who knows, if the NHL can come up with a group willing to buy the Phoenix Coyotes, and to keep them in Glendale, Arizona, for $212 million or more, I'll admit I'm wrong.

So... I wonder what happens next? I guess the bankruptcy case and auction goes on as scheduled. I wonder if Balsillie will still bid, perhaps if he could move the team in two years rather than the next.

I want to see some dollar figures on these offers Bettman says he's lined up. Will any of them really do as much for creditors as Balsillie's $212 million? If so, great, I guess. I just can't get over the fact that the NHL is in a conflict of interest -- it's both a creditor and NHL ruler. As creditor the NHL should be trying to get the most possible of its money back from a new owner. But as NHL ruler it wants to keep a bankrupt team in Glendale, Arizona, perhaps taking a lower offer to do so. Fine for the NHL, but not so fine for all the other creditors. All this would be solved, of course, if Bettman can cough up a group to offer $212 million or more and still keep the team in Glendale.

What happened to Balsillie's $17 million bridge financing to the Coyotes? I hope Balsillie hasn't already paid it.

The amount of the relocation fee is another issue. Can the NHL stick an owner with an astronomical relocation fee -- essentially preventing a move?

Right now, a part of me wants the NHL to keep the Coyotes in Phoenix, just to see how much money the NHL will sink into the desert sands.

12 June 2009

Traffic Accident

Today I walked past the aftermath of a traffic accident. One car was still in the intersection, it's entire front bumper missing. A second car was perpendicular, on the sidewalk, with a snapped off traffic light pole lying on top of it. My guess is that someone tried to beat or ignored a red light. I overheard someone say there had been a pedestrian at that corner and that it didn't look good.

Condolences to friends and family of anyone involved.

I think driving is so common place that drivers often forget they're controlling 3-ton metal objects traveling at speed. As I continued my way past the accident it occurred to me that both drivers and pedestrians place a tremendous amount of trust in one another. Each driver is trusting that each of the hundreds of drivers (s)he himself meets is driving in a safe manner and not going to do anything dangerous. Each pedestrian is trusting that the multiple 3-ton moving objects zooming by mere meters away, any one of which could be fatal, won't lose control. We're essentially placing our lives in the hands of hundreds of complete strangers.

Of course, even if everyone is doing their best to act in a safe manner accidents happen. Sobering thought. I stand at that corner every day on the way to work.

11 June 2009

Fiasco at Bank of America

I never thought I'd say this, but fraud protection is not necessarily a good thing. In the past I would have solemnly sworn that people scoffing at the need for fraud protection were naïve at best. This ended last week when I ran head first into the idiotic brick wall of Bank of America ATM Fraud Protection.

I've posted before that I recently relocated from the state of Manly Deeds, Womanly Words (it's okay, you can laugh, I did) to The Land of Tim Hortons in the Great White North. Prior to moving I -- conscientiously I thought -- went to my Bank of America branch and notified them of my change in address. For half a year all seemed fine until I actually tried to withdraw my money from an ATM in the Great White North using my BoA check card.

On Day1, I first learned there's a limit to the amount of money per transaction that can be withdrawn from an ATM. I admit it took me a few tries to figure out exactly what the limit was. Nevertheless, no problem, right? I was still well below my daily withdrawal limit. I just needed to make multiple withdrawals. Actually... no. Ugh. I phoned Bank of America and was put on hold for at least ten minutes. I say at least because at that point I hung up. Hey, no way was I spending more than $2.50 to listen to elevator music. Later in the day I called Bank of America, again, and finally managed to speak to an associate (the human kind). The associate considerately explained BoA's ATM Fraud Protection and considerately cleared my BoA card for use. After all this I was still thinking of ATM fraud protection in a positive light.

On Day 2, I went to the ATM again (as I still hadn't withdrawn all the money I wanted in Day 1) and to my disgust my card was again rejected at the second attempted transaction. Eh? This time the call cost me $3.75 and the BoA associate considerately explained BoA's ATM Fraud Protection. This time I confirmed with the associate that yes, BoA records do say I am residing in The Land of Tim Hortons. I even informed them of the number of transactions, given the ATM withdrawal limit, I would be making this day and the following. And yes, I also confirmed that the total of my daily withdrawals were still within my pre-established daily ATM withdrawal limit. The associate considerately cleared my card for use.

On Day 3, my BoA card was rejected at the first transaction attempt. This time I spent $5.00 and 15 minutes on hold to call BoA, whereupon the associate considerately explained BoA Fraud Protection. The associate, also considerately, informed me that due to BoA's considerate ATM Fraud Protection I now had to travel IN PERSON to a BoA branch and show two accepted forms of identification. Until I did so not only was my card not cleared but I wouldn't even be able to use BoA online banking. Eh!? Can I do this over the phone, like the previous two days? No. Can I fax you the documents? No. Your records show I'm living in Canada, right? Yes. Do I still have to go in person to a BoA branch, crossing an international border en route? Yes. Don't you see how completely unreasonable that is? [Pause]... You have to go to a branch in person and show identification. Well, that's how that call went.

Also on Day 3 I made a second call to BoA in the hopes a different associate would be more reasonable. This second associate first considerately explained BoA ATM Fraud Protection and the conversation essentially followed the first, verbatim.

Somewhere in the midst of Day 3 any remaining positive feelings about ATM fraud protection, and Bank of America, had turned massively negative.

Still on Day 3, after having driven over an hour, crossing the international border, I presented IN PERSON two forms of identification at a BoA branch all the while wondering if I'd been living further from the border whether BoA would expect me to pay for an international flight (I wasn't optimistic). The branch associate looked at my identification and considerately put me on the phone with the BoA ATM Fraud Protection office – after one disconnected call and 10 minutes on hold (at least it doesn't happen to only me). The phone associate considerately explained BoA Fraud Protection and cleared my card. What needs to be done so this fiasco never happens again, since, you know, I'm living in Canada, now? [Pause]... I'll make a note in your file that you're living in Canada.

I didn't tell the phone associate what I really wanted to say in response to that enormously depressing statement.

After the call ended, I wondered aloud what would have happened if I'd lived somewhere like Thunder Bay where I would have had to take an international flight. The branch associate considerately recommended that next time I raise more of a stink; perhaps in that case BoA would reimburse money for gas. That the branch associate apparently assumed that this fiasco would occur in the future didn't leave me exactly brimming with confidence.

So here I am, stuck with an “okay-to-use” Bank of America check card but too afraid to use it for fear of being forced to travel to the USA, again.

Problem solved? Me thinks I've been duped. I'm back where I started in a depressingly circular fashion.

10 June 2009

SFX Performance

UPDATE (04AUG2009): Never say never, I guess. SFX Performance sent me my order -- insured, this time -- at their cost. It actually arrived a couple (few?) weeks ago. Much appreciated. As far as I'm concerned this event has come to an unexpected but positive conclusion.

UPDATE (07APR2010): Updated post title.

UPDATE (21JUN2010):  As this issue has been resolved (see above) I decided to delete the original post that was below.


25 May 2009

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

A little later than most, I'd guess, but this past weekend I finally went up and watched X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I liked it, with a few caveats, and I don't regret spending my money to watch it in the theaters.

SPOILERS follow....

Wolverine aka Logan is one of my two favourite comic book heros, on par with Peter Parker. As the movie's title suggests, X-Men Origins: Wolverine delves into the history of Logan prior to the X-Men trilogy. None of Logan's history is surprising if you've followed the comics. My familiarity with Logan's past may have contributed to the slow pacing of the earlier portions of the movie. Fortunately, once Logan is bent on revenge the pace picks up.

Random thoughts:
  • As I said above, I think they spent too much time on Logan's happy days. It made the film feel slow at the start.
  • Are the admantium bullets still rattling around inside Logan's skull?
  • Wait, so Logan's mutant ability can not only heal biological injuries, but can also repaire adamantium?
  • The bit about Logan's memory loss could have been better done. Sure, two bullets in the brain will cause appreciable damage, but how could Stryker have known it would cause memory loss? In the movie, Stryker explicitly went out to cause Logan's memory loss by shooting Logan in the head. I can't fathom how Stryker could have been so certain. How could Stryker have known that the memories he wanted lost would be lost? Puzzling. The movie would have been better served if the memory loss was consequential but not deliberate.
  • Many different mutants appear in the movie. Some I recognized from the comics.
  • Xavier makes a not so surprising appearance near the end. I wonder how much make-up they had to put on Patrick Stewart to make him look younger.
  • This is another movie where you should stay until the end of the credit roll. Apparently there are actually two different endings after the credits. I saw the one with Deadpool. I would much rather have seen the ending I've read about – Logan in a bar in Japan.
  • Speaking of... if Logan in Japan is a preview of a Wolverine 2 movie then I'm happy. The Logan-in-Japan stories in the comics have always been interesting, what with the dichotomy of Japanese honour and behaviour along with Logan trying to tame his berserker nature.

    • I give X-Men Origins: Wolverine 3.5 out of 5 stars.

      20 May 2009

      What's G? An Empty Claim to Fame

      Recently I've seen a Gatorade commercial during the NHL playoffs, though I guess it's probably used for other televised sports. The explicit message of of this 'What's G' commercial is that Gatorade is "the heart, and soul, of the game".


      My immediate thought was if that's true then why do they bother playing? Stick a bottle of Gatorade at center ice and call it a day. Great game, everyone! I'm sure the thousands who paid $100 a ticket will be satisfied -- Gatorade is, after all, the heart and soul of the game. Why even bother with anything else?

      Upon a second viewing and some further thought I've decided this particular commercial irritates me because of its hubris. It's like claiming I conceived of, designed, and built the automobile just because I put gasoline in one.

      06 May 2009

      Balsillie, the NHL, and money

      In my previous post I wondered what fiscal or other reasons explain why Bettman and the NHL refuse to let a bankrupt team relocate to Canada. Upon further thought, I remember a time when many Canadian NHL teams were in danger of failing and I would have hated it if the NHL had relocated them to the U.S. But then I remember the Winnipeg Jets, which relocated to Phoenix on Bettman's watch in 1996.

      On CBC I heard the best reason why Bettman and the NHL will likely do everything in their power to prevent the Coyotes from relocating to southern Ontario. They want Balsillie, or anyone else, to pay $$ for an expansion team in southern Ontario. The NHL owners could get $400 million (according to the person CBC interviewed) for an expansion team while if Basillie has his way the $212 million offer will only go to the Coyotes' creditors.

      Anywhoo, it's not my money. I just can't shake the belief that Bettman and the NHL owners are giving faithful Canadians the financial finger in their ofttimes quixotic quest to expand NHL U.S. viewership, just because they can. Let's face it. Bettman and the NHL would have to do a lot more than this to make Canadians stop watching hockey.

      05 May 2009

      Canucks 3, Blackhawks 1

      How do you spell relief? The Vancouver Canucks finally put in a 60 minute effort in this series. Tonight the Canucks took a 2-1 series lead in the Western Conference Semi-finals, versus the Chicago Blackhawks.

      Despite leaving Vancouver with the series tied 1-1 I was pretty depressed because of the way the Canucks collapsed with the lead in the first two games. If the Canucks play the rest of the series like they played tonight I'll be happy.

      Sometimes I think some hockey god has it in for the Canucks, or has some cosmic sense of irony. The Canucks came in to this series with a long layoff to heal. In the first 3 games of this series Salo, Demitra, and now perhaps Ohlund are injured such that the former two at least aren't able to play.

      On a related note regarding the Phoenix Coyotes entering banckruptcy and Jim Balsillie's $212.5 million offer contingent on the team relocating to southern Ontario, I hope it happens. I really hope it happens... but I'm not optimistic. For some reason Bettman and whoever else makes these decisions hate the idea of more Canadian NHL teams. Canadian teams relocating to the USA -- fine and dandy. USA teams relocating to Canada -- not until hell freezes over.

      It has to be the money, I guess, but I just don't get it. Do they think the market in Canada is too small? Southern Ontario can definitely support two NHL franchises, I don't know why they think otherwise. Meanwhile they stick teams in southern U.S. locales with no significant fan base. No such problem in Canada.

      I can see that if the NHL is to up its profile/profit it needs to expand in to the U.S. but I don't understand why they can't do that without forsaking Canada. Get more U.S. teams via expansion, but don't prevent a bankrupt team from relocating to Canada.

      30 April 2009

      Blackhawks 3, Canucks 5

      Whew. When Chicago tied it up at 3 in the third I had visions of past Canucks collapses, but the Canucks survived the first game of the Western Conference semi-finals.

      The Canucks will need to improve their powerplay and stop taking stupid penalties.

      I wonder if GM paid up front to name GM Place, or if there's some sort of annual payment; I ask because if the latter I wonder if they would consider dropping sponsorship because of GM's current financial woes.

      21 April 2009

      Canucks Sweep Blues

      Hurrah! The Vancouver Canucks defeated the St. Louis Blues 3-2 in the dieing seconds of the first OT to sweep the Blues in their best of seven series.

      I can hardly believe it -- I can't remember, literally, the last time the Canucks ever won a series 4-0. It's a huge relief from all the 6 game, 7 game series I remember.

      The Blues went for 0-7 on the powerplay in the sudden death OT, alone. Whew.

      CBC cut off the Canucks game after regulation to broadcast the start of the Sharks - Ducks game. Idiots. It was sudden death elimination OT versus the first period of a non-elimination game. I would have thought the decision obvious, but CBC must have different ideas on what constitutes excitement and drama. Weak sauce, CBC. Weak sauce.

      Edit. I just heard Shorty on the radio say the Canucks have never previously swept a 7 game series. Woohoo! To boldly go where no Canucks team has ever gone before...

      17 April 2009

      Blues 0, Canucks 3

      Hurrah! The Canucks take a 2-0 lead in the best of seven against St. Louis, by beating the Blues 3-0.

      I'm becoming increasingly optimistic about the Canucks' chances to go deep, or at least make it past the first round. The Canucks need to finish this series early to gain an opportunity to rest; don't drag it out to seven.

      Sundin scored! The game winner, no less! I guess he's still useful even though he's as slow as a turtle.

      Luongo made some incredible saves, although a few pucks went off the post.

      15 April 2009

      Blues 1, Canucks 2

      Whew. Way too many penalties -- but at least the Vancouver Canucks survived and took game one of their series against the St. Louis Blues, in the Western Conference quarter-finals.

      I hope now that the first game is under their belt the Canucks will be more disciplined for the rest of the games.

      I watched the game on CBC and I was struck by the many commercials that made use of hockey and the NHL. It's good to be back in Canada. :o)

      I think the funniest commercial tonight was one for a beer (?) company -- in it announcers worked a table hockey game and when the puck was stuck in the neutral zone, unreachable for any two-dimensional player, they described it as the "neutral zone trap". :o)

      Anywhoo, on to game two!

      Oh yeah, what's up with Sundin? Is he still out of shape or has Sundin always been that slow?

      12 April 2009

      NHL09: another bug

      I've discovered two new related bugs in NHL09 for the Playstation 3. It's happened to me three times, now, and it's very irritating. If goalie McLean wins in a shoot-out it's not added to his win total statistically. eg. 37 games played, 36 wins, 0 losses. To rub even more salt in the wound, if McLean earns a shut-out -- in regulation, in OT, and in the shoot-out -- it isn't added to his career SO total.


      10 April 2009

      Quantum of Solace

      Well... it looks like I've finally gotten over the loss of Pierce Brosnan as James Bond. After watching both the updated Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace on blue-ray, I have to admit that Daniel Craig portrays quite a respectable and interesting 007. Perhaps not as good as a young Sean Connery, but still much better than Moore, Latzenby, or Dalton. Though Clive Owen was my preferred choice and I still think Owen would have made a great Bond.

      Aside: I first saw Clive Owen in the PC game, Wing Commander: Privateer. I knew him when....

      I might be one of the last to see this movie, but what the heck... SPOILERS MAY FOLLOW.

      • Anywhoo, back to Quantum of Solace... am I wrong but did they not play the James Bond Theme until the ending credits?! I really hope I'm wrong, because if so then that is just plain... wrong.
      • It was kind of refreshing that there wasn't a powerful henchmen for Bond to fight before taking on the villain-in-charge. They're mixing up the James Bond movie formula a bit but I like it (except for not including the James Bond Theme -- they need to put that back in to the movie).
      • I like how the producers have restarted the inclusion of an over-arcing plot -- SPECTRE in the first movies, and now Quantum.
      • The hotel in the climax -- what the heck?! Did the colonel's jeep crash into a fuel cell, is that what caused the initial explosion? Because what kind of idiot would leave something that potentially explosive sitting exposed in a garage.
      • This initial explosion then causes a chain reaction in the entire building complex. What, the architects placed fuel cells in every room? They lined the walls and rooms with them?! Are water sprinklers not mandatory in Bolivia? This wasn't some ancient tenement, this was an ultra-modern state of the art hotel. You'd think they'd at least have the most basic safety precautions.
      • I wonder how many hotel employees died off-screen in the climax. The hotel looked huge -- it must have required a significant number of staff.
      • Woohoo, a shout-out to CSIS!

      22 March 2009

      PS3 NHL09: Success in Net

      Playing goalie is finally fun in NHL09. It's probably taken me much longer than most, but with #30 Kirk McLean (ver. 3.0) I've finally realized success and ended the endless frustration. Having said that, gaining goalie xp is still agonizingly slow.

      McLean 3.0 has a GAA of 1.40 and save percentage of 96.7. McLean 3.0 is a hybrid and glove-left -- though I doubt these changes are the main reason for his marked improvement.

      After each game your goalie is graded in three areas: Positioning, Team Play, and Statistics. The better your grades the more xp you gain and the more starts you get.

      Positioning is simple... A+ all the way. Accomplishing this is easy since a blue arrow indicates the direction and distance of the puck making positioning just a matter of centering your goalie on the arrow. Back to the arrow later.

      Team play for a goalie, for me, varies from game to game. As far as I can tell success in this area depends entirely on whether or not you pass the puck at appropriate times, with team mates conveniently telling you to freeze or play the puck as the situation warrants. Unfortunately, often when they tell me to pass the puck I think they're crazy. So... some games Team Play is better than others. If could figure out how to leave my net as far as computer controlled goalies can I might be more consistent in this category.

      Statistics is stopping the puck, and the area I had been having headaches with. In retrospect, my obstinacy played a role in my misfortunes in net but I don't think I was completely to blame. It's that darn arrow.
      • Being obstinate: McLean 1.0 played the entire regular season and the playoffs steadfast in the belief that it was his teammates' responsibility to clear out rebounds or to at least tie up opposing players in front. This led to McLean challenging the shooter, taking an extra step forward when he would have been better served taking a step back. Taking that step forward left McLean vulnerable to lateral passes and rebounds.
      • That darn arrow: squaring yourself perfectly against the puck is good when the shooter is straight out in front, but doing so at an angle other than perpendicular meant McLean 1.0 (and short-lived 2.0) played too much over on the short side.
      Some other tactics I've learned that have helped McLean 3.0:
      • You don't need to completely follow the shooter or pass when it moves laterally in front of the net -- if you do it's often easy for McLean to move too far and leave the open side uncovered. Instead, center yourself in the net. You have a shorter distance to move and you can still cover both sides of the net.
      • When a winger comes down the boards keep the short side covered but moving too much over will leave a gap on the far side (cheat a little and don't completely center yourself on the arrow).
      • Poke-check whenever they skate out from behind the goal line (and they're in range, of course). It will more often than not save you heartache.
      • Some computer-controlled goalies (eg. Luongo) move far beyond the crease when challenging the point even with the opposing team already set-up in the zone, and can still make it back in position if they pass rather than shoot. Slowpoke McLean is better off deeper in net than out too far.
      • Learn to at least accept good shots, bad goals, turn-overs, and malfunctioning D-men, if not your own D scoring on you.

      17 March 2009

      PS3 NHL09: Reboot

      After Picard and McLean both won the Stanley Cup for their respective teams I decided to start all over rather than continue with a 2nd season for these players.

      I've already noticed that Picard 2.0, at 6'3" and 208 lbs., doesn't get knocked off his feet as often as version 1.0 at 6' and 185lbs. Picard 2.0 as before is playing for the Manitoba Moose, at the "Rookie" level to make it easier to boost his stats for the first season.

      As for McLean 2.0, after trying a couple different teams and different styles McLean 2.0 began his career with the Moose, as well, at the "Pro" difficulty. I've pretty much resigned myself to the snail's pace goalies gain xp, no matter how well they play.

      I'd originally avoided having my goalie play for the Canucks' AHL affiliate because of... well... Luongo. But hey, I get extra motivated playing for my home team; so there you go.

      Anywhoo, McLean 2.0 was called up after only 5-6 games with the Moose, is 7-0 with the Canucks, and preparing for his 4th consecutive start. Luongo (10 games, 6 wins) has the better GPA, but McLean 2.0 the better save percentage. Certainly, I'd be very surprised if human players weren't given an advantage when EA Sports was programming NHL09.

      08 March 2009


      I rented Passchendaele on BD the other day. It reminded me of why I originally purchased a PS3 in the first place -- to watch BDs. I guess it's been a while since I viewed a BD; once again I was impressed by the graphics.

      Anywhoo, it's always a treat to watch Paul Gross, an actor/director I've always liked and try to make a point of watching. It's set in WWI, with events leading up to and including part of a battle at Passchendaele. Frankly, I'd never heard of Passchendaele and the role of the Canadian Corps there before this movie. I wish they taught this portion of Canadian history in class.

      Passchendaele's first half is mostly romance with the latter half moving to the battlefield.

      Personally, I think this movie is better than Saving Private Ryan, for reasons I won't say to avoid any spoilage. I will say that it's in part because after watching Passchendaele I didn't feel like walking in front of a bus like I did after watching Saving Private Ryan. Don't mistake me, I wasn't jumping for joy at the end, but nevertheless Passchendaele manages to be solemn and sad without force feeding extreme depression.

      I'll leave it at that, and give Passchendaele 3.5 out of 5 stars.

      07 February 2009

      PS3: Valkyria Chronicles

      Valkyria Chronicles for the PS3 is both turn-based and action-oriented at the same time. The game takes place on a fictional continent, Europa, geographically similar to Europe. The protagonist is a militia soldier of a small, politically neutral country (think Switzerland) with rich resources stuck between an Empire and a Federation going at it tooth and nail for multi-continental conquest.

      So… music is good; in some games the music feels repetitive and distracting -- none of that with Valkyria Chronicles. I'd buy the soundtrack.

      I like the art (sort of like animated water colours), it has interesting characters and the story is great: within the backdrop of war there is love and loss, friendship and betrayal.

      What happens during missions is that game play is turn-based. You complete all your moves within a turn and then the computer goes next. Where the action comes in is when you pick one of your soldiers/tanks to move -- the game switches to a third person view of the selected unit and you move and shoot in real-time action-mode.

      The game lets you replay particular skirmishes for XP and money, which is great because you’ll need to level up your soldiers and fund R&D of weapons and tank parts, but I’d really like to be able to replay all of the battles.

      Battle scenarios are well done, and not always straight forward. Mission goals can change unexpectedly.

      In one particular battle mid-way through a powerful, legendary being showed up on the enemy’s side – the despair as critical soldiers were quickly and spectacularly put out of action, and the urgency to adapt and complete the mission before all my troops were decimated, was quite real.

      Some random thoughts:
      1. Now that I’ve made it through a significant part of the story, I wonder what would have happened if I had let one or two characters critical to the story perish on the battlefield at an earlier point.
      2. Some scenarios are quite tough, even after the first attempt and you have some idea of what’s happening -- you can save during your turn!
      3. If you can spare unit movements don’t waste them – they're tacked on next turn to the normal complement (up to a point).
      4. Having said that, keep moving forward. Both sides can summon reinforcements so it makes things much easier if you can take their base camps before they arrive.
      5. Taking enemy base camps is also a good way to move your troops quickly up the field. You can have a unit “retreat” at your original base camp and summon that unit up the field at the recently captured camp. This is often a quicker and less risky way of getting a lagging unit in to position.
      6. I haven’t seriously used any of Welkin’s available orders except “retreat”. Maybe I just don’t know how to use them properly but it always seems more useful to use the movement points to actually move a unit rather than use them on an order.
      7. When I go to the Cemetery I’d like to be able to actually, you know, visit fallen comrades rather than talk to the Old Man who teaches you orders, for a price.
      8. Once you see the enemy has "elite” soldiers, and you don’t have any of your own, play skirmishes to gain xp to level up your soldiers until you do.
      9. Frontal assaults have their place, but it’s better to flank when possible.
      10. For the longest time I thought the grade “A” was actually an “H”. What the beeping font are they using?!
      The Valkyria Chronicles earns a 5 out of 5 stars.

      06 February 2009

      PS3: NHL09 Stanley Cup Playoffs

      Goalie Kirk McLean of the Montreal Canadiens backstopped the team all the way to the Stanley Cup (16-0), defeating the San Jose Sharks in the final. Unfortunately, the Vancouver Canucks were taken out by the Sharks in seven in the Western Conference Final.

      During the off-season McLean had several offers and opted for a 1 year deal with the Canadiens for $925k.

      McLean’s career is on hiatus while I finish the alternate NHL-verse where LW Jean-Luc Picard is still in the regular season. After 66 games the Canucks have also clinched the division title with 113 points.

      I’ve found one major bug with NHL09 for the PS3. Whenever a player reaches a +/- of 255 this stat automatically changes to negative 255. That’s right, if you play well in this stat you can expect to be punished. Picard has less than 20 games to make it back to the positive side of things.

      At least Picard hasn’t been singled out. His entire line, (H. Sedin, Demitra), will soon be punished in the same manner, along with the first defensive line.

      They better fix this bug, particularly as one of the skater goals is to have a +/- of 350.

      05 February 2009

      PS3: Fallout 3

      I had some games waiting so I decided to finish Fallout 3 by focusing on the main quest – it went by quite quickly.


      Fallout 3 for the PS3 is a great game (read my previous post for details). The ending takes the shine off slightly, unfortunately; the ending production matched the greatness of the rest of the game but personally it ruins any replay value.

      SPOILER. Taking a step back, the ending feels very apt and flows well. Your father gives up on his life’s work to protect the baby you but 18 years later he takes up his Quixotic quest once again and perishes in the process. The son (you), alive only because of your father’s original abandonment of his life’s work, sacrifice your own life in turn to complete it.

      So why does the ending destroy any replay value? I can garner no enthusiasm for playing a game, and even more so when re-playing one, where I’ll die at the end of it.

      04 February 2009

      PS3: Bioshock

      I received Bioshock for the PS3 as a gift and so far it looks to be another worthwhile game. I haven’t made it very far, yet, but there are already some things I’m thankful for: the easy difficulty level and auto aim.

      Bioshock is very spooky. Your plane crashes into the sea and you swim onto an island leading to an underwater city, Rapture, filled with people having taken self-genetic manipulation a step, or several steps, too far.

      Bioshock is another FPS so I’ll be taking this one slowly.

      No star rating until I’ve played it more.

      03 February 2009

      Happy Belated New Year

      I haven't posted as much recently -- holidays and a relocation -- but I've pretty much settled down, now, at my new place and I've just about assembled all the IKEA furniture I can handle.