Unleash the Beast

Hilarious article on energy drinks from Gourmet.com:

Measuring up the prose of energy drinks against daily life will lead to all sorts of absurdities:

“Julia, can I get you a coffee?” “No, I have a ton of editing to do, I need the venom of a Death Adder which has the power to strike back.” “How about an espresso then?” “I will bite you in your neck if you do not leave me immediately to the challenges of my intense life.” “Look, we all have a lot of work to do.” “You may have a lot of work to do. I have a lot of work to penetrate with my face, inject with poison, and kill.” “Is that your heart visibly beating through your sternum?” “Yes, it is. Jealous?”

Reality Overlay

Now that high end "Smart Phones" are being released with all sorts of built-in doo-dads, like a camera, GPS unit and compass, it means that phones know exactly where they are and what you're pointing them at. Which leads to some interesting applications:

It works as follows: Starting up the Layar application automatically activates the camera. The embedded GPS automatically knows the location of the phone and the compass determines in which direction the phone is facing. Each [commercial] partner provides a set of location coordinates with relevant information which forms a digital layer. By tapping the side of the screen the user easily switches between layers.

This is all kind of difficult to explain in words - check out the video of Wikitude in action to see what is going on...

In other words, your phone gives you a Terminator-style real-time Heads Up Display for whatever you're looking at. Imagine the possibilities - cross it with Wikipedia/Wikitravel to give you the most amazing guide book ever. Cross it with an application that "calls" your phone and you've got the most immersive Alternate Reality Game ever. Heck, if it knows your demographic, then you've got some Minority Report-style personalized ads beamed directly from what you're looking at. Which might sound annoying and intrustive, but when it's this futuristic, who cares?

Wait, Scratch That, Reverse it

Notice anything different?

My blog was drowning under almost five years of cruft and unfocused babbling, so I've decided to do an old etch-a-sketch revamp. Shake it up, start again. This time, less bullshit, I promise. I want to use this blog for writing. Not as a link-dump, or a Youtube proxy (although I'm sure there will be the occasional link and youtube video). Those things will be on my twitter. The old version of the site is still available, but really, where's the fun in that? We can't keep looking back. Got to move forward. Onward and upward.

And with that, on with the show.

Trailer for 'Get Smart' →

There's some inspired casting here - Steve Carrell as Maxwell Smart, Ann Hathaway as Agent 99, Alan Arkin as the Chief.

Edge's 100 Greatest Videogames

Edge Magazine (still the best videogame magazine out there) recently published its top 100 videogames of all time. It's pretty interesting reading and, being Edge, there are a few questionable decisions. But this is what I love about Edge - they occasionally do some wild stuff, but always back it up with good, solid explanations.

Here's the list along with my statistics.

Legend

Bold - Played, finished Italic - Played, didn't finish Normal - Didn't play.

The List

  1. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

  2. Resident Evil 4

  3. Super Mario 64

  4. Half Life 2

  5. Super Mario World

  6. Zelda: A Link to the Past

  7. Halo: Combat Evolved

  8. Final Fantasy XII

  9. Tetris

  10. Super Metroid

  11. Yoshi's Island

  12. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

  13. Ico

  14. Super Mario Kart

  15. Pro Evolution Soccer 6

  16. Street Fighter Anniversary

  17. GoldenEye 007

  18. Final Fantasy VII

  19. Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

  20. Civilization IV

  21. Okami

  22. World Of WarCraft

  23. Metroid Prime

  24. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

  25. Sim City 2000

  26. Advance Wars

  27. Rez

  28. Perfect Dark

  29. Deus Ex

  30. Shadow Of The Colossus

  31. Katamari Damacy

  32. Project Gotham Racing 2

  33. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

  34. R-Type Final

  35. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty

  36. Battlefield 2

  37. StarCraft

  38. Virtua Fighter 5

  39. Secret Of Mana

  40. Wario Ware Inc: Minigame Mania

  41. Gran Turismo 4

  42. Rome: Total War

  43. Bomberman

  44. Super Monkey Ball

  45. Company Of Heroes

  46. Quake III

  47. Far Cry

  48. Puyo Pop Fever

  49. Animal Crossing

  50. Shenmue

  51. Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire

  52. Disgaea: Hour Of Darkness

  53. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2

  54. Chrono Trigger

  55. Counter-Strike

  56. Guitar Hero

  57. Soul Calibur

  58. Tempest 2000

  59. StarFox 64

  60. Pac-Man Vs

  61. Manhunt

  62. Jet Set Radio Future

  63. Lumines

  64. System Shock 2

  65. Darwinia

  66. F-Zero GX

  67. Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved

  68. GTR2

  69. PilotWings 64

  70. Ridge Racers 2

  71. Ninja Gaiden Black

  72. Killer7

  73. Puzzle Bobble (aka Bust-a-Move)

  74. Thief: The Dark Project

  75. Burnout 2

  76. Ikaruga

  77. Football Manager 2007

  78. Doom II

  79. Secret of Monkey Island

  80. Virtua Tennis 3

  81. Robotron 2084

  82. Lemmings

  83. Nights

  84. Phantasy Star Online

  85. Silent Hill 2

  86. Outrun 2006: Coast 2 Coast

  87. Mr Driller

  88. Sega Rally Championship

  89. Tomb Raider

  90. Devil May Cry

  91. Super Smash Bros Melee

  92. Resident Evil

  93. Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door

  94. Gitaroo Man

  95. God of War

  96. Wipeout

  97. Tekken 3

  98. Sensible Soccer

  99. Psychonauts

  100. Crackdown

Statistics

Total played: 72 Total finished: 44

Number of sequels: 55

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Secret of the Incas

I don't think anyone actually understands how psyched I am for the release of the new Indiana Jones film next year. When I was younger and my age was still in single digits, I used to wake up extra early so I could go downstairs and watch all of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom before school. Every day. For about a year. And if I had my copy here with me now, I'd probably be watching it now.

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I came across a film called "Secret of the Incas", a low-budget adventure movie from 1954 starring Charlton Heston which seems to be Indiana Jones' most obvious inspiration. Heston plays Harry Steele (fucking awesome name), a square-jawed treasure-hunter who is determined to find the treasure of Machu Picchu in Peru. Like Indiana Jones, Steele walks around in a big brown fedora and leather jacket.

The similarities aren't accidental either. Rumour has it that before production of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Senor Spielbergo and George Lucas screened this movie (along with China, starring Alan Ladd) for the cast and crew, to give them an idea of the kind of movie they were trying to create.

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Youtube - Secret of the Incas (I) Youtube - Secret of the Incas (II) Youtube - Secret of the Incas (III)

These clips from Secret of the Incas should give you a good idea of how well Spielberg & co. managed to recreate the tone of the earlier movie. In fact, you could go further and point out specific sequences in Raiders that were influenced even by these three clips.

I'd love to see this movie completely, but it's impossible to buy Secret of the Incas. Nothing on Amazon, nothing on eBay. Even nothing on Bittorrent. Some conspiracy theorists reckon the movie is being 'suppressed' by Paramount because of the similarities to Indiana Jones, reckoning that people would be up in arms if they could see how much this film influenced Raiders of the Lost Ark (although I personally think this is ridiculous: if people can't that the Indiana Jones movies are nothing but a distillation of classic action movie staples, then these people should be banished to the wilderness immediately).

Whatever the reason, I can't get a hold of it on the internet. Anyone got a copy of this lying around? I'd be willing to pay good (read: not ridiculous) money for it.

We've come a long, long way together

My idea of heaven - 1991

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My idea of heaven - July 7th, 2007

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Slowly making my way through all of these in roughly chronological order. Monkey Island 2 next. I don't think there's a bad game in here.

BONUS CONTENT Press Play on Tape perform the Monkey Island theme live. If the first 30 seconds don't make you smile, I guarantee the last minute definitely will.

New J.J. Abrams movie →

This awesome teaser trailer is sometimes running in front of screenings of Transformers in the States. Now, as good as Transformers was, it would be hard to keep my attention after that trailer.

It's probably a movie codenamed "Cloverfield", which J.J. Abrams is supposed to have been working on for a while now. No real details exist except that it's a big, dumb monster movie. Hooray! 'Round these parts, we loves us some big, dumb monster movies. Even the Godzilla remake, but only for that one scene where Jean Reno's does his Elvis impression.

Cute thing - the official site, which isn't referenced anywhere in that trailer, or on any other official sources, is tracking visitors using Google Analytics. This word-of-mouth campaign is being dissected, one visitor at a time.

Update: High-res trailer on apple.com (including HD)

Collecting or clutter?

DVDs, books and games, post-purge

An article over on Unclutterer caught my eye - Is collecting a form of creative hoarding?

As I type this, virtually all of my worldly possessions are sitting in a storage container, waiting for me to pick them up. This includes my DVD collection. I've always thought of it as a 'DVD collection', never as 'clutter'. H. has always thought the opposite. Now, I'm beginning to wonder - who's right here?

For two months now, I've been getting by with the stuff I brought with me in my suitcases. And the only thing that I miss is my Xbox 360. I really wish I'd brought that instead of my PlayStation 2. I could be playing Forza 2 and boosting my achievement score right now instead of playing through Kingdom Hearts 2 and hanging out with Ariel from the Little Mermaid. Which, let's be honest, is pretty fucking fruity.

I tell you what I don't miss though: my DVDs. I brought a handful in a CD folder -- things like 2001, Idiocracy, Spaced -- things I could watch again and again. And I'd say I would miss those if I hadn't brought them with me, but what about the other 1,175?

Let's pick an extreme example: The Tao of Steve. Will I ever watch it again? I seriously doubt it. It was a bad movie and I didn't enjoy it when I watched it. I think the only reason I hold onto it is because I had myself convinced that my DVD collection was like some shiny communist state and every disc was equal. So I would no sooner get rid of 'The Tao of Steve' than my three-disc Criterion Collection edition of 'Brazil'.

But they're not equal. Not even close.

Filling in the insurance forms for the moving company was also pretty eye-opening. Averaging a value of €10 per disc, the insurance on the DVDs alone came to €12,000. And considering the final value of everything was under €15,000, it got me thinking - is this still a collection? Or did it cease to be a collection the minute I started buying things like The Tao of Steve, or Jack Frost, owning them just to own them?

Of the DVDs I own, I reckon there are about 200 that I love. Really love. And I'd be upset if I didn't have these. That leaves, what... 1,000 DVDs I could afford to let go of?

Anyway, it's left me with this food for thought. Would I rather: **A: ** keep convincing myself that it's worth holding onto films like The Tao of Steve, just in case Donal Logue dies a tragic death and its value suddenly skyrockets and I can retire early. or **B: ** sell the cruft on eBay and use the proceeds to buy myself a Macbook Pro and maybe even a nice new Cinema Display.

So - any offers on 1,000 DVDs?

Manhunt 2 and Censorship

I've been pretty busy for the past few days and I'm still catching up with the stuff that happened last week. Like the Manhunt 2 furore.

For those of you that don't know/care, last week, the Irish Film Censor's Office decided to make a prohibition order against the upcoming game, Manhunt 2, making it the first videogame ever banned in Ireland. A moot point, since over in the US, the Entertainment Software Ratings Board gave Manhunt 2 an Adults Only (AO) rating and the three console manufacturers have said that they will not allow AO-rated games to be released for their systems.

”Civil Liberties”

Anyway, you can can imagine the the reactions the the IFCO's decision. An anonymous commenter on IT Law Ireland:

So lets ban any story, film, news report which contains violence and go about life in ignorance, as they want us to. God help us all, next thing banned will be the great sculpture of David done by Michelangelo because it contains nudity.

. And naturally, boards.ie went into hysterics. My favourite quote from the 7-page long Manhunt 2 thread being:

Personally, I think the idea of completely banning any game from a country is an outrage, and a blatant infringement of civil liberty.

That still makes me giggle.

Strangely, I find myself agreeing with the censor. In their statement regarding the prohibition order, they said

IFCO recognizes that in certain films, DVDs and video games, strong graphic violence may be a justifiable element within the overall context of the work. However, in the case of Manhunt 2, IFCO believes that there is no such context, and the level of gross, unrelenting and gratuitous violence is unacceptable.

And you know what? This all sounds perfectly reasonable to me. John Kelleher has proven himself to be an extremely liberal censor, and prohibition orders are typically reserved for the most hardcore porno. Think about it like this - this is the film censor that let Hostel through. This means that Hostel, one of the most brutal exercises in Gorenography I have ever seen, has more of a context for its violence than Manhunt 2. (For reference, here is their ruling - 'strong' across the board.)

I also agree with the censor because I am not convinced that, on its own, classification of movies or games is an effective way of preventing children from being exposed to indecent material - I just don't think it actually works. As someone who was exposed to a ridiculous amount of horror films as a child (thanks, Gar, for letting me watch the Exorcist at age 5), I believe that if you don't want children being exposed to something, you should make it as difficult as possible for them to get their hands on it. In most cases, by banning it.

This goes double for videogames, where lazy parents often dismiss the graphic content of games simply because they are 'games' and will happily buy Grand Theft Auto for their 10-year old just to keep him quiet for a few hours.

Hardware Solution

The big “however” at the end of all this is that all this could be easily avoided if the rating system was used in conjunction with parental controls. These days, most media-playing devices (including modern games consoles) have parental controls built in. If you want to watch a movie or play a game above a certain age-rating, you have to enter a password. But the problem here is that hardly anyone uses these parental controls because hardly anyone knows about them.

Maybe it's time they were turned on by default, and bugger the inconvenience?