Guide Books →

I'm fast becoming an expert on guide books to Rome. So far, my favourite is "City Secrets: Rome". I like it because it lists the things to see and places to eat followed by a short anecdote by someone who knows the place well, and explains why they recommend it in real, human terms.

For example, this is what Virginia L. Bush says about the Colosseum:

"A new visitor to Rome should go first to the Colosseum. Since it is said that Rome will stand as long as the Colosseum stands, and the world will last as long as Rome stands, it would be good to check first that everything is in order with the universe"

Guitar Hero 2 and OS X

I think my previous post on Guitar Hero 2 gave some idea of how disappointed I was by this game. So why the hell did I go out and re-buy it for the Xbox 360?

Well, apart from the high-definition graphics (very important in a game like this) and the way it's an easy 500 achievement points, there's one very big reason why I got it: the Guitar. It plays beautifully, it's based on an Explorer and it's USB.

Guitar Hero X-Plorer on OS X

Naturally, I plugged it into my Macbook before it even went near the 360. OS X recognised it, but the 360 controller drivers from Pref360 didn't work. No worries, it was only a matter of time. Well, the new version of the Pref360 drivers adds support for the Guitar Hero controller.

So now I can play Frets on Fire on my Macbook, which is fantastic. But I really want to see if this can be used as an input controller for Max/MSP or Processing. Then the fun can really begin.

Evenings in Rome

Statues

Ah, Roma.

Despite my tragic Italian vocabulary and the fact that, in a land of thin, tan people, I stick out like a sore thumb, our trip was largely successful. We managed to get some sense of what our life in Rome would be like.

The City Itself

An image that keeps popping into my head is of the entire Roman Empire rolling around on the ground saying "Help! I've fallen, and I can't get up!" It's a beautiful city, but it's not coping very well with modern life. Aside from the copious levels of really, really shitty graffiti, the heritage doesn't seem to be respected. There's a lot of history scattered around, at the sides of roads, but this is neglected and uncared for. For example, I can't help but feel that, in any other country, the ruins at Viale Argentine with its beautiful, two-thousand-year old frescos would be treated as a national landmark. In Rome, however, the ruins are used as a cat sanctuary. I guess you could look at this as simple pragmatism but it still feels slightly tragic.

Driving in Rome

I also have a new-found respect for Italian drivers. The motto over there seems to be "keep it moving". Which means that if someone cuts you off, you honk your horn, you wave your fist, you give them a mean glare, but you keep it moving. I saw things over there that would have drivers jumping out of the car with rage, but the Italians just get on with it.

And this means that there are very few traffic lights in Rome. Near our hotel in Gianicolo, traffic from four different directions merge into one lane. I spent an hour just watching this intersection. Despite the lack of traffic lights, noone slowed below 30kph and noone got into an accident. It was beautiful. Balletic.

But it reaffirmed for me that I will never, ever be able to drive in Rome. Just driving home from my mom's house yesterday, I noticed I was starting to drive like an Italian. And it scared the living shit out of me.

And the food

Do you really need another person going on about how great the food is in Italy?

Apartment-hunting

Finding a place to live in Rome is going to be a pain, I can tell.

While I was there, we saw two places. One of them was a beautiful house. Four bedrooms, three bathrooms, two outside areas. Oh, it was beautiful. But it was in a really sketchy area of the town. I live in Stoneybatter and work on Thomas Street, I know what sketchy is. And even I was put off by the area. And besides my own personal problems with the area, it just isn't suitable for entertaining or Embassy work.

The other was a lot smaller; one bedroom, two bathrooms, with not a lot of storage. But it's in a much better neighbourhood. And despite the lack of space, it's a much more beautiful place. And we want to live there. And so begins the dance.

You see, over here, it's a much more simple affair. You like the look of an apartment, it's in your budget, the landlord likes the look of you and, boom, the apartment is yours. Over there, it's a lot more like a mating ritual, with a lot more bum-sniffing before anyone actually gets mounted.

"We'll pay _$amount_ per month"

"Ah, but it's worth $amount*3 per month"

"That's on a short-term lease, we're offering a guaranteed $amount per month for a 3-year lease with a 3 month security deposit"

"I won't do anything less than $amount*2 per month, 6 month security deposit and a bank bond"

...etc...

So God only knows when we'll actually have somewhere to live.

Roman Holiday →

The quiet trend 'round these parts is set to continue because I'm heading off tomorrow for a few days in Rome. This isn't actually a holiday though. More of a reccy. It's basically an opportunity to check out a couple of apartments, get a feel for the place, see if it's the kind of place we can see ourselves living for the next few years.

I'm sure you'll be able to follow the progress on Flickr.

Getting ready to say goodbye

When we were told that H. was being posted abroad, I got scared. Actually, let me rephrase that. I'm not ashamed to admit that I was terrified. I knew it was coming, but I'd hoped that... I dunno... they'd forget about her. Forget to tell her to move. Or they'd say that they wouldn't need her to start until August.

August 2010.

It was not to be. We got word last week that she's due to start on May 7th. Barely a month from now. So time is against us.

Last week, I handed in my notice. I've worked in this company for five years now, and it was such a surreal feeling to be finally saying the words "I quit." I'd wanted to say them for a long time now. I'd almost said them a few times, when things got really tough, when I desperately wanted a change of scenery. But something always had held me back. Stability? You can't really call this place 'stable.' Job satisfaction? Best skip that one. Security? Maybe - a steady pay cheque is a thing of beauty. Most likely, I stayed because of two things: the prestige of working for this company, and the people I work with.

As a geek, especially a games geek, this is a very prestigious company to work for. The sense of geek pride is enormous, especially given its reputation within the Irish software industry. It might not be as big as Google, but sometimes it feels like this is a good thing. With a small team, it feels more select: the elite of the elite, the ubermensch.

And as for the people, well... I'll miss them more than the job.

It feels like it's coming close to the last day of school. Weird, mixed feelings of relief and regret. The door of opportunity has been flung open! I am master of my own destiny once again! There is nothing I can't do!

Nothing, that is, except work with my friends like this again.

Kaspersky Lab discovers the first virus for iPod →

Needs Linux installed on your iPod, and also needs you to run the exectuable manually. Is it technically still a virus when you have to jump through a bunch of hoops to run it yourself? Kaspersky spent ACTUAL money researching this thing? boggle

Show, don't tell.

When I was doing the screenwriting course, we were constantly being reminded of one of the golden rules of writing: Show, don't tell - describe the scene through actions, rather than words.

And this is why I love The Wire so much. Everything is shown, not told. The writers assume the audience is smart enough to figure out what the characters are doing, without resorting to have the characters ask each other what they are doing.

There's a perfect example of this in Episode 4 of Season One, "Old Cases". This is the entire dialogue (taken from the subtitles on the DVD) between McNulty and Bunk as they dig through an old crime scene. Gold star if you can figure out their actions from their dialogue.

16
  • This is the one?

  • Yup. Hasn't been rented since.

17

Fuck.

18

Motherfucker.

19

Fucking fuck.

20

Fuck.

21

Fuck.

22

What the fuck?

23

Fuck.

24

Fuck.

25

  • No.

  • Fuck.

26

Fuck it.

27

Oh, the fuck.

28

Motherfuck.

29

Aw, fuck.

30

Fuckity, fuck, fuck.

31

Fucker.

32

Oh, fuck.

33

Fuck.

34

Motherfucker.

35

Fuckin' A.

36

Fuck.

37

Check this.

38

Motherfucker.

39

Fuck me.

Sonic and Mario... together?

If we weren't but a few days off from April Fool's day, I probably wouldn't have such a hard time believing this. This is the video equivalent of the Beatles teaming up with the Rolling Stones to form the world's greatest band. Why, there's no way this could not be awesome!

Uh...

TOKYO (March 28, 2007) - SEGA® Corporation and Nintendo Co. Ltd. today made a historical announcement that two of the biggest icons in the entertainment industry, Mario™ and Sonic™, are joining forces to star in Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games. Developed for the Wii™ video game system and the Nintendo DS™ system, this momentous agreement marks the first time these two renowned stars have appeared together in a game.

Published by SEGA across Europe and North America, and published by Nintendo in the Japanese market, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games will be available for Christmas 2007 and is licensed through a worldwide partnership with International Sports Multimedia (ISM), the exclusive interactive entertainment software licensee of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

In Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games, players will compete in events that take place in environments based on the official venues of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Using a supporting cast of characters from the amazing worlds of both Mario and Sonic, gamers will be able to compete as or against a range of lovable personalities including Mario, Sonic, Luigi™, Knuckles™, Yoshi®, Tails™ and more. Innovative usage of the Wii and DS control systems to maneuver a favourite character will allow players to race the likes of Mario and Sonic down the 100m track, engage in exhilarating rallies in table tennis and churn water in a swimming heat, all while competing for the much sought after gold medal.

"We are thrilled to partner with Nintendo and ISM on this groundbreaking title," said Hisao Oguchi, President and Chief Operating Officer, SEGA Corporation. "For the first time, two of the world's greatest games' characters come together to compete in the world's greatest sporting event and we couldn't be more excited."

"Mario and Sonic have been respectful rivals since the early days of video games," says Shigeru Miyamoto, Senior Managing Director and General Manager, Entertainment Analysis and Development Division, Nintendo Co., Ltd.. "In fact, for a long time they have been discussing the possibility of one day competing against each other. Now that they have been given the perfect opportunity to meet at the Olympic Games, we may finally learn who is actually faster, Mario or Sonic?"

"The Olympic Games represent the true spirit of competition and passion," said Raymond Goldsmith, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of ISM. "Bringing together intensely competitive and fun characters like Mario and Sonic in an Olympic setting helps showcase the sports of the Olympic Games in a new and compelling way for all generations."