All entries for March 2007

March 29, 2007

Yay! Free Lunch!

I've often wondered about these refer-a-friend-and-get-free-stuff things; such as what do they get out of it? But one of my mother's friends and her accountant friend have looked into them, and they do seem to be a viable business, and therefore probably legit.

Apparently they work out a deal with established services for payment for referrals; we sign up to the service, and they pay the get-free-stuff people a little bit for it - which, of course, adds up to the value (and no doubt some profit, too) over the course of the n referrals.

If you're interested, my mother's friend found this one of Apple stuff. She also recommended choosing one of the free services (such as Lovefilm, which has a free trial and is also good in itself (my mother uses them already)).


March 26, 2007

"BBC defends early Easter filming

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/6494831.stm

I've just come across an article on BBC News about the BBC receiving criticism for filming their Easter Special of Songs of Praise at Christmas. I mean, come on! Do these people really think they film everything at the time?

Several newspapers have accused the BBC of "tricking" fans of Songs of Praise, just weeks after Blue Peter apologised for faking the result of a competition in November.

Because, of course, those two events are exactly the same - on the one hand, you have standard industry practice that is economical, harmless and an intelligent use of resources; and on the other hand, you have people lying about the very nature of a competition. I certainly can't see a difference between them...

I feel, as a public service, that I need to point out a few things to these people that are up in arms about the fact the show was filmed months ago:

  • The TARDIS doesn't really travel through time - it's just a box, it doesn't even had the console inside it; that's a set.
  • When game show hosts say "See you next week", 'next week' is probably filmed a few minutes later.
  • KITT from Knight Rider couldn't really drive himself - it was a man hidden in the modified driver's seat, which was a clever way to do it because 'Michael' (who is really David Hasselhoff) could just jump in the car and take over without anything fancy happening.
  • Crop Circles aren't aliens; they're guys with planks and too much time on their hands. I mean what kind of stupid alien race would design ships with such complicated undersides? They'd all have "teleporters" anyway...
  • A scene from (I believe) Attack of the Clones was actually filmed during Phantom Menace because it would save them having to go back out the the location. (Maybe you should complain to them, too?)
  • The Lord of the Rings films weren't actually in Middle Earth - they were in New Zealand.
  • I'm not actually writing this - I have a small team of an infinite number of monkeys to whom I dictate. Eventually they come up with the blog entry...

I could go on, but I won't...


March 23, 2007

Come again?

I've just been reminded of sentences that are really confusing if they don't have any punctuation and which feature the same word many times. Two notable examples of which I am aware are:

Smith where Jones had had had had had had had had had had had the examiner's approval.

Which makes a lot more sense with some punctuation:

Smith, where Jones had had "had", had had "had had". "Had had" had had the examiner's approval.

If you're still confused: Jones wrote "had", Smith wrote "had had", and in the context of whatever sentence they were both writing the examiner decided that "had had" was the correct choice.

The second sentence is one I came across more recently, and is:

Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo.

which refers to the animal I am now going to refer to (possibly incorrectly, I've never been sure) as "bison" to avoid confusion, the American city of Buffalo, and the verb "to buffalo" which means to intimidate, to deceive, or to confuse. Some clarity can be gleaned by adding a bit of punctuation and general grammar (i.e. capitalising the city name):

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo, buffalo Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo.

Which becomes even clearer if you rephrase it:

Bison from Buffalo that other Buffalo bison intimidate, in turn intimidate Buffalo bison already intimidated by yet more Buffalo bison.

That's assuming, of course, that there are any buffalo in Buffalo...


March 20, 2007

€750,000

(No, don't get excited; it's from a spam email.)

I've just recieved spam saying I've won €750,000, which is really stupid...

What would I do with 750,000 Euros? I can't spend Euros here...


Phone Book

I can't remember the last time I used The Phone Book; most of the people I need to contact have email, and any businesses I need to contact have their details on their website.

Lots of people probably rarely use the phone book, but BT probably still sends them one. They could save a fortune by having either a PDF of the final proof available to download or a good online search on their website, and having an opt-out of the physical book in favour of this for anyone that wants it.

Admittedly they may already have this - I don't use the phone book so I haven't looked into it...


March 19, 2007

Speaking of Voice Acting…

Follow-up to Sonic and the Secret Rings from The randomness of tomorrow, today!

It's a fairly old discussion (around the time of the US Wii launch, funnily enough) but I'm glad Twilight Princess didn't have voice acting - all the voice acting I've come across in games is absolutely atrocious.

Admittedly the only voice acting in games I can think of is the Sonic games for the GameCube and Wii - oh, and Red Steel, which wasn't perfect but it wasn't too bad because I didn't have expectations - but, from what I've read elsewhere on the Web, I'm not alone in thinking a majority of voice acting is crap.

Getting back to Zelda. The problem they would have is that Link has never spoken, as far as I'm aware, and if he has, then it wasn't in the more recent games. If they did have voice acting, then Link would theoretically still have no lines. This would make the conversations very bizarre, because it would really emphasise the fact that Link doesn't say anything if the people are actually saying things and he isn't, but they're still having a conversation with him.

Finlay, there's the fact that Link is supposed to be the player, the person reading his lines wouldn't sound like the player, and it would be impossible to find a voice that everyone liked.

So, to sum up; it is a Good Thing that Twilight Princess didn't have voice acting because:

  • A large majority of voice acting I have encountered in games is atrocious.
  • Link doesn't speak (well, more accurately he does, it just isn't shown in the text - how else could people have conversations with him?) which would be very strange next to voice acting.
  • Probably a majority of players would be unhappy with Link's voice anyway.

March 15, 2007

Sonic and the Secret Rings

Follow-up to Excite Truck from The randomness of tomorrow, today!

Sonic and the Secret Rings arrived a couple of days after my last post, and I've got sufficiently far though it now to give more than first impressions:

  • The stages are beatuiful and the graphics are very impressive for a console that didn't set out to have amazing graphics.
  • The voice acting is, as you'd probably expect, aweful.
  • The "worlds most dramatic pinky swear"* scene is painful.
  • It's annoying that it's an RPG - Sonic starts out with an acceleration of 0ms-2 and you have to gain experience to unlock skills and increase his speed.
  • Constantly running forwards automatically makes it harder to deal with sudden enemies.
  • The Wiimote-thrust for dashing is awkward - a button would be better.
  • The "steering" is only just responsive enough to cope with quick movements (and then only after you get the add-on to make side-to-side better) so you're likely to hit things if you're timing is off by less than with normal controls.
  • Apparently the Red-Steel-esq cut scenes are styled that way to show it's technically a book, unfortunately it makes it seem like they were lazy...
  • On a positive note, it's certainly a step in the right direction - the primary goal of the 2D games of getting to the end in as little time with as many rings is certainly present, but there's still a long way to go.
  • And finally: HOW YOU JUMP IS ONE OF THE WORST IDEAS IN THE WHOLE HISTORY OF VIDEO GAMES. Seriously. The person who though of it should be dragged out into the street and hit with something; possibly a Wiimote, since they're suprisingly sturdy and it would be appropriate...
* Gametrailers' video review, if I remember correctly

March 03, 2007

Excite Truck

I've just bought Excite Truck (well, I say just; it was a few days ago) for the Wii. I don't know how much replay value it'll have once I complete it, but it's a lot of fun - certainly enough to justify buying it.

I haven't had a chance to try the two-player mode, but single-player is certainly entretaining; plus, I like steering with the Wiimote - for years I've been leaning into the corners on racing games, and it's nice that it's finally achieving something...

Speaking of steering with the Wiimote: Sonic and the Secret Rings should be here from Play.com in a few days. Apparently it's a step in the right direction, but still disappointing; so hopefully low expectations will make it more fun...


March 2007

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