28 September 2010

Two Spaces after a Full Stop

One of the things that bothers me whenever I read and/or edit a manuscript, or any text at all, is when the author doesn't use two spaces after a full stop, or end of a sentence.  That goes for colons, too.  When did the standard change to a single space?  Why?

Hmm... now that I think about it, maybe I was taught to put two spaces after full stops and colons in typing class.  Typing was an elective in high school, so perhaps most students weren't taught the correct spacing.  Then when word processing software became more mainstream in school the sheer number of students using single spacing became the norm.  Sad, if true.

I think Microsoft Word would do the world -- okay, me -- a lot of good if they made a tool/option to automatically add two spaces after each full stop in a document. Perhaps in the grammar checker or something.

27 September 2010

PS3: F1 2010

Despite my initial plan to delay purchasing F1 2010 for the PS3 I ended up buying it the day after it was released.  The previews and early reviews were reasonable, and I had always wanted a decent Formula One game.

I hope F1 2010 sells well in North America, though I get the impression that stores don't expect it to.  The Best Buy location I went to told me they only received six copies.  Six copies on the day of release.  I don't know how that compares to other new releases, but to me that sounds like Best Buy doesn't expect very much demand.   A shame, really, because I think F1 2010 is pretty good and worth its price.

I've been playing career mode on the easiest setting, though when I get more races under my belt I might try turning off some of the driving aids.  In career mode you start off as a new F1 driver for one of the three new F1 teams in 2010, and can last for up to 7 seasons, which is quite a lot if you play the full race weekend (3 practice sessions, 3 qualifying sessions, race day) for all 19 races per season, and especially if you drive the full-length race.

Practice sessions are quite useful for familiarizing yourself with the track and testing different vehicle set-ups, if you want.  The number of changes you can make in regards to set-up is quite daunting, but the game does offer a couple "quick" set-ups you can use.

The short term objective is to out perform your team mate and take his position as number one driver.  Different teams have different objectives.  A team like Ferrari, for example, has much different expectations than a team like Virgin Racing.  As your career progresses, you may receive contract offers from other teams.

Anywhoo, back to the racing.  I liked it a lot.  As I said, I haven't tried turning off any driving aids, yet, but I was surprised by how much time I spent driving in practice sessions.  It's all too easy to get sucked in by "just one more lap" in order to improve your time.   Sometimes I was only able to stop because I didn't want to wear down my limited number of engines (according to official F1 regulations, you only get 8 engines per season).

The sense of speed and driving feels very good, and the graphics are amazing.  I had one qualifying session in the rain and it looked spectacular.  I have a simple two speaker set up and it still sounds great.  You can distinguish between engine sounds in front or from the car approaching behind you.

Off the track you deal with the occasional media interview.  It's neat and immerses you in the life of a F1 driver, but it's still relatively simplistic.  You have three possible answers for each question, and it's fairly obvious which choices would make your team happy, or not.

Random thoughts:
  • On the track the only voice you hear is that of your race engineer, as he comments on tire/engine temperature, or what other racers are doing, when to pit.  I like it.  Having television commentary would be distracting.
  • If something catastrophic (or not) happens on track, you have a limited number of chances to have a "do over", resuming play from shortly before your spin-out or what ever.  Of course, you can always restart an entire session from the beginning, but if you've already played 40+ laps in a 49-lap race that may not be your first choice.
  • The sound set up options was a little odd.  In the manual it describes a "two speaker" setting, but in-game the only option I had was "headphones"-- which still sounds great coming out of my two speakers, but still... odd.
  • The driving HUD could use some improvement.  It displays drivers' lap times, but equally useful, or even more so, would be how many seconds behind or ahead you are in relation to the drivers around you.  It's distracting trying to chase down the position ahead of you when you don't know how many seconds ahead he is, or how many seconds the driver immediately behind you is.
  • Your race engineer isn't perfect.  In the beginning he would always say my team mate was faster so I should check his set-up.  First, the engineer would say this even when it wasn't true.  Second, as far as I can find there is no way to see what your team mate's set-up actually is.
  • In the paddock you can see how fast you and other drivers are lapping through each sector of the track.  However, it only shows the times from the most current/recent lap.   This is annoying because I can never see my time for the 3rd sector because, of course, on my most recent lap I have to pit to enter the paddock, which is prior to finishing the 3rd sector.  So all I see for sector 3 is a blank space and there's no way to determine how it compares to other drivers' sector 3, or how much time I'm losing/gaining there.
  • Another curious thing.  I was able to change my car set-up after final qualification and before the race -- something I'd always thought against official F1 rules.  I wonder if the non-player teams are able to do the same, because if not then that may explain why I suddenly had a competitive car on race day (I was able to change from a wet set-up during final qualification to a dry set-up for the race).
  • I wonder if the game deliberately makes your team mate a poor driver to make it easier for the player.  So far my team mate has consistently been near or at the bottom of the time sheets.  Perhaps it's just the nature of the driver/team I'm currently on, or that I'm playing the easy setting.

22 September 2010

A Tale of Two Idiots

Two unrelated pedestrians, separated by seconds, jay-walking at one of the busiest downtown intersections in the middle of rush hour, brazenly ignoring the honking vehicles.  The second pedestrian even crossed the intersection diagonally.

Made me wish Stephen King's Christine was around to help demonstrate natural selection.  I jest, of course, but wow.  Someday those two are going to get themselves run over, and you know what?  The only sympathy I'll feel is for the unfortunate driver.

20 September 2010

Something Odd

There was an article in a local paper about the tragic death of a young man.  One paragraph in the article immediately struck me as odd.

"The pedestrian has been identified, but his family has requested to not release his name. Friends have identified the man killed by a train early Sunday as Brendan Swanson." -- thespec.com

Perhaps odd isn't the most accurate description, but these two sentences definitely felt dichotomous or incongruous.

For now, ignore the question of whether the identity of this particular individual was of sufficient newsworthiness that the release of his name overrode his family's request for anonymity.  Why even mention that the family had requested to not release his name if in the following sentence you identify him by name?

It feels like the author is flaunting the fact that he has ignored the family's wishes.  That probably wasn't the author's intention, but that was the impression I had while reading it.  Maybe I'm thinking too much.

Still, it's... odd.

17 September 2010

Garmin GPS: nüvi Battery PCB Recall

I was concerned when I read that Garmin is recalling certain Garmin GPS models (nüvi 200W, 250W, 260W, 7xx, 7xxT) because of battery over-heating posing a fire hazard, as I purchased a 755T a couple years ago.  Fortunately, when I visited the Garmin website directly I learned that only those models falling within a certain date range were actually affected.

Here's what Garmin had to say on their website:

Garmin is voluntarily recalling certain nüvi devices that contain a specific battery that was manufactured by the battery supplier within a limited date code range. Garmin has identified potential overheating issues when certain batteries manufactured by the third-party battery supplier within a limited date code range are used in certain Garmin nüvi models with a specific printed circuit board (PCB) design. It appears that the interaction of these factors can, in rare circumstances, increase the possibility of overheating, which may lead to a fire hazard. Although there have been no injuries or significant property damage caused by this issue, Garmin is taking this action out of an abundance of caution.

The recalled devices include a small subset of the following nüvi model numbers:

  • nüvi 200W, 250W, & 260W
  • nüvi 7xx (where xx is a two-digit number)
Conveniently, Garmin lets you check whether a specific unit is affected by the recall by checking the unit's serial number.

Luckily mine is fine... at least in regards to posing a fire hazard -- I've posted previously about some of the issues I've had with my Garmin  nüvi 755T.

15 September 2010

PS3: NHL 11

I'm still debating whether NHL 11 for the PS3 is worth purchasing.  So far NHL 11 is
definitely an improvement over NHL 10, but is it enough of an improvement to merit its
price?  In my case, I'd have to say "yes", but not by much.

NHL 11 addresses and fixes some issues I've mentioned before that irritated me with NHL
10.  I've only started NHL 11, recently, so it's still wait and see for some longer term
issues, but here's what has been immediately noticeable (to me) in NHL 11, both good and
bad, compared to NHL 10.
  • The garish, colour-blind and ugly upgrade equipment is gone in NHL 11.  You can still earn and use boosts to your player's attributes, but the terribly awful-looking equipment in NHL 10 is no where to be found in NHL 11, thank the hockey gods.
  • It remains to be seen whether NHL 11 fixed the bug where unlocked attribute boosts spontaneously re-locked.  This next point requires some context.  One of the selling points EA Sports has been pushing strongly, to convince NHL 10 owners that it's still worth purchasing NHL 11, is a new physics engine.  I won't get in to too much detail here other than to say that it does make the game look more interesting and realistic, perhaps most noticeable with body checks.  My issue is that it feels like EA Sports has fell a little too much in love with it.  What do I mean?  Well, during stops in play the game plays short video replays of recent on ice action.  Theoretically this is a good idea, though even in NHL 10 the game often didn't show the play I actually wanted to see.  In NHL 11 it's even worse.  NHL 11 just loooves to replay body checks.  Goalie just make a save that necessitated a face-off?  Forget replaying that.  Replay a body check.
    • Also on the naughty list:  home goalie make a spectacular glove save?  Instead of playing that, let's see a video of the other goalie drinking out of his water bottle.
  • NHL 11 has shortened the video where you watch your player skate on to the ice prior to the start of each game.  I miss the longer version in NHL 10.  If you didn't want to watch it you could end it at any time by pressing a button so I'm not sure why they decided to short change it.
  • NHL 11 has stopped providing the seating capacity and name of the arena prior to each game.  Not a biggie, but something I appreciated in NHL 10.
  • I've just started a career as a goalie in Be a Pro mode and I'm already wondering what the GM AI has been smoking.  After a 4-0 record in the pre-season, with a save percentage of 0.947, 2 SO, and a 0.500 GAA, what does the GM say to McLean?  "The only reason you're not going down to the AHL is because you were drafted 9th overall".  Eh?
  • It's early days in the season, but I'm already worried McLean's Wild won't even make the playoffs.  Why?  Because to date the Wild have never managed to win a game McLean did not start, and the Wild coach insists on giving Backstrom, who has yet to win a game and has much poorer stats than McLean (in NHL11, obviously), the majority of starts.
UPDATE 2:  Over-reaction over.  With calm, clear mind, I realized my issue with the inability to turn off the auto-save feature is easily solved.  Start with two game saves pre-draft.  Take saved game #1 through the draft.  If I get drafted by one of my unacceptable teams, then quit the game and load saved game #2.  Save over saved game #1.  Then take saved game #1 through the draft again.  Repeat as necessary.

This way saved game #2 is always maintained at the pre-draft point.  Once I load saved game #2, it's critical to remember to save over saved game #1 before going through the draft.  Else the auto-save will re-write over #2 and I'd no longer have a save point prior to the draft.

UPDATE: I've just discovered what I think is a major disappointment with NHL11.  Unlike NHL10, in NHL11 apparently there's no way to turn off the auto-save feature.  Majorly frustrating.  In my futile search for method to turn it off, I read in some forums that EA Sports did this to prevent cheating of some kind for online play.  I never play online so I can't confirm it, but it sounds reasonable.

Unfortunately, this inability to turn auto-save off is a source of major irritation for someone like me who doesn't play online.  I would like the ability to re-do drafts in Be a Pro mode just in case my player gets drafted by a team I out right refuse to play for.  The way NHL11 is set up now, any save game prior to the draft is automatically overwritten with post-draft data.  Ugh.  I really do not want to have to play through the Memorial Cup tournament over and over again just because I get drafted by one of the handful of NHL teams I dislike.  Which just happened, now.  Ugh. 

I'm going to put NHL11 back on the shelf until I recover from the frustration.  What a waste of my time.