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Tag Archives: xbox

  • San Francisco’s Big Seismic Gamble
    The West Coast and the Big One is another one of my pet interests. Here’s another article on some information about how SF is (not) being prepared.

    Right now the code says a structure must be engineered to have a 90 percent chance of avoiding total collapse. But many experts believe that is not enough.

    “Ten percent of buildings will collapse,” said Lucy Jones, the former leader of natural hazards research at the United States Geological Survey who is leading a campaign to make building codes in California stronger. “I don’t understand why that’s acceptable.”

    The code also does not specify that a building be fit for occupancy after an earthquake. Many buildings might not collapse completely, but they could be damaged beyond repair. The interior walls, the plumbing, elevators — all could be wrecked or damaged.

    “When I tell people what the current building code gives them most people are shocked,” Dr. Jones said. “Enough buildings will be so badly damaged that people are going to find it too hard to live in L.A. or San Francisco.”

  • The Chinese Workers Who Assemble Designer Bags in Tuscany
    In order to slap a “Made In Italy” label on their bags, fashion houses are employing Chinese people in Italy to assemble their bags. Fortunately, the Chinese are getting rich from it.

    Just outside the city walls, in Prato’s Chinatown, well-to-do Chinese families were carrying their own wrapped parcels of sweets: mashed-taro buns, red-bean cakes. Suburbanites, coming into town to see relatives, drove BMWs, Audis, and Mercedeses. (In a telling remark, more than one Italian insisted to me that no Chinese person would be caught in a Fiat Panda, one of the Italian company’s most modest cars.) According to a 2015 study by a regional economic agency, Chinese residents contribute more than seven hundred million euros to Prato’s provincial economy, about eleven per cent of its total.

  • The Young and the Reckless
    Headline story in Wired about how a U of T student and a bunch of US co-conspirators operated in the XBox hacking scene.

    By 2009 the pair was using PartnerNet not only to play their modded versions of Halo 3 but also to swipe unreleased software that was still being tested. There was one Halo 3 map that Pokora snapped a picture of and then shared too liberally with friends; the screenshot wound up getting passed around among Halo fans. When Pokora and Clark next returned to PartnerNet to play Halo 3, they encountered a message on the game’s main screen that Bungie engineers had expressly left for them: “Winners Don’t Break Into PartnerNet.”

  • How to get rich quick in Silicon Valley
    A satirical article about the culture in Silicon Valley. I guess this would be more funny and illuminating if I wasn’t as close to the culture.

    Indeed, to overhear the baby-faced billionaire wannabes exchanging boastful inanities in public could be enraging. Their inevitable first question was: “What’s your space?” Not “How’s it going?” Not “Where are you from?” But: “What’s your space?”

    This was perhaps the most insufferable bit of tech jargon I heard. “What’s your space?” meant “What does your company do?” This was not quite the same as asking: “What do you do for a living?” because one’s company may well produce no living at all. A “space” had an aspirational quality a day job never would. If you were a writer, you would never say “I’m a writer”. You would say “I’m in the content space”, or, if you were more ambitious, “I’m in the media space”. But if you were really ambitious you would know that “media” was out and “platforms” were in, and that the measure – excuse me, the “metric” – that investors used to judge platform companies was attention, because this ephemeral thing, attention, could be sold to advertisers for cash. So if someone asked “What’s your space?” and you had a deeply unfashionable job like, say, writer, it behooved you to say “I deliver eyeballs like a fucking ninja”.

  • Body Con Job
    This is one of those articles that wouldn’t have made sense 3 years ago but now, seems to be quite plausible and true. It takes about an Instagram influencer who has a million followers, but is actually fake. She’s AI – not her commentary, but her looks. As in, she’s computer generated. Yet people really follow her, and not just for novelty’s sake. Then she got into a war with another AI and, people kept showing loyalty to her. I’m not quite sure whether this article is about AI being human or AI being accepted.

    When Miquela first appeared on Instagram two years ago, her features were less idealized. Her skin was pale, her hair less styled. Now she looks like every other Instagram influencer. She’ll rest her unsmiling face in her hands to convey nonchalance, or look away from the camera as though she’s been caught in the act. The effect is twisted: Miquela seems more real by mimicking the body language that renders models less so.

Last week, I turned on my XBOX360 for the first time in oh probably almost 2 years. I’m not sure why it’s even connected to my TV; I should just archive it because it (and the game boxes) take up a lot of space. Anyways, the reason I turned it on wasn’t even to play games, it was to run media center so I could access the shared media on my computer!

So my XBOX360 is pretty much useless to me.

But in better news, I don’t need it to be my media extender anymore, because I just moved my old computer into the living room as a HTPC. It’s kind of noisy, and doesn’t have HDMI out (my TV has VGA-in), lags on 1080p content (more or less depending on the encoding format) but it works and it’s cheap! I was only able to free up about 150GB on its 250GB HD for media, so I’m still sharing/streaming a lot from my desktop.

This was also a good excuse to put my air mouse to work – I bought that awhile ago but had no reason to use it. This also ended up solving my living room issue as I no longer need to use my Chinese tablet. Although I can’t surf and watch TV at the same time, it’s not actually as big of a problem as it could be since I don’t really watch TV anymore.

Today I was thinking of assembling together a Home Theatre PC. I’ve avoided trying to do this for a long time because my XBOX actually serves this purpose quite well; I can stream media from my PC on to my TV. But I’m looking for more flexibility so that I can transfer arbitrary media and run Windows programs on my TV.

Surprisingly, there are a lot of lower power, slim devices available now and you don’t have to build them yourself. The ones I were looking at are kits that come with a case, motherboard and processor. All that you have to add is some RAM ($30-$40) and a 2.5″ HD ($130?). Unfortunately, this pushes the price to almost $400.

That’s still a bit expensive unfortunately, especially for a device that may not work as expected. Particularly, I’m worried about 1080p playback on a low power CPU. I don’t want to spend $400 for stuttering.

On the last Black Friday XBox sale (not this year’s, but 2010’s), Greed Corp was on sale for 240MSP or about $3 in real money. I had never heard of this game before, although apparently it is on iPad and PSN as well, but seeing as it was a board game and it wasn’t too expensive, I took a chance and bought it.

We had been playing Catan fairly often on the XBox, and frankly that was a very decent port (the only thing that is lacking was local multiplayer). Perhaps that encouraged us to buy a couple of other board games on XBLA, such as this one and Risk: Factions. Risk wasn’t that fun (and definitely not worth the 800MSP I paid, even if it didn’t go on sale for 200MSP). I didn’t play Greed Corp after I bought it until last week, more than one year later!

The mechanics are a bit difficult to understand, mostly because they don’t explain it too well and because they tried to put a (useless, non-sensical) story around the game that distracts from the experience. The goal of the game is to destroy as much land as you can for resources, until you get to the end game, when you try and outmaneuver your opponent(s) and destroy all of their troops and buildings.

Now that I have played a bit and understand how the game works, I think that the design is missing one key factor that makes it enjoyable – luck. Most of the board games that I play have some form of luck, such as rolling dice or drawing cards. In Greed Corp, there is no luck at all. You move your troops and choose what actions you want to take. The only variables are what your opponents do and a 60s time limit on your turn. I think it is possible to play perfect games and attain a stalemate; but luckily, the expert AI will purposely make dumb moves so that you have a chance of winning.

November saw the weather get cold and the start of winter hibernation. The OWS occupation was cleared out in Toronto and various cities around North America and then the news on it kind of died out from the headlines. Something else that is dying out is me playing Glitch. I have pretty much done every thing in the game and leveled my character on the key skills. I have the most expensive house and at a level where it is mostly grinding and learning skills that are 7 days long. So now I’m just logging on quickly to collect resources that have piled up. I will probably stop playing it entirely soon (and it looks like a lot of people already have).

I started playing a bit of XBOX again this month. It all started out because I wanted to try out a free Pinball table that they were giving out around Hallowe’en. The table is pretty fun, for being free, and it’s not a huge investment in time to play a few balls. I almost thought about buying some more tables too (so they’re strategy almost worked).

One of the reasons is because I have a bunch of points sitting around on my account. I originally stocked up to export my Rock Band 2 songs, but that doesn’t seem like it will happen so I have some extras. Plus, there were several deals for MSP (25% off at Walmart, 50% off at RCSS) and although I didn’t buy any, it seems like I don’t need to hoard the points since they will be on sale again. I was hoping that I would spend some of my points on the XBLA fan appreciation sale around US Thanksgiving, but they didn’t have much in terms of deals (I did buy Outrun as it is going to be removed shortly due to the expiring Ferarri license).

There were a lot of fan appreciation sales this month, and a lot of shopping opportunities with Black Friday. We didn’t buy much though, except for some pre-emptive Christmas shopping.

I started working on a game based on the mechanics of Monopoly Deal and completed work on Condado. I even made some updates to my VIVA Android app, even though the YRT is still on strike – up to 40 days now with no end in sight. There was an attempt to bring back-to-work legislation but that motion failed and it looks like we still have the status quo – namely no buses.

The summer is over, both in my mind and in the weather, which signals to me, for one reason or another, that it’s time to restart or pick up new hobbies that have been on vacation.

This week, I have already started one, which is to continue my NHL09 (released in 2008 so I’m 3 years behind now) season. In NHL09 there is a “Be A Player” mode where you can create a player to develop through juniors and into the NHL. I had stopped halfway through my second year (where I had already graduated into the NHL with the Leafs) but am not continuing my season. My version of the Leafs are horrible (way worse than real life, and some other teams have made amazing trades to stack themselves) but they called up a star prospect from AHL so they should make it into the playoffs! I forget why I stopped playing previously, but hopefully my return to it is not due to excitement about the upcoming hockey season and I will be able to complete a season or two this year.

I’m also going to start working on my Android apps again (soon, probably). I am up to 6 apps now so I don’t think I should start new ones, although two of them (UDA and Yummy Chinese) aren’t really beyond alpha stage. Right now, I’m more inclined to improve my existing apps, and I think I will work a bit on my VIVA Next Bus app. I rather like this one, perhaps it is because it was my first app, but also maybe because it is a constrained problem.

In a fit of nostalgia, I bought Street Fighter II for XBOX360 a few years ago (it wasn’t even on sale, so I had to pay a cool 400msp for it – $5). It turns out, it was a good choice because I’ve been playing it on-and-off for awhile; although there are two achievements that are basically impossible due to my skill level and the AI’s computer-assist.

I enjoy playing it, but I don’t think it is solely because I played it as a kid. I like that it is constrained and not an expansive game (there are only 10 characters, but some of them are dups) so the figuring out the limits of the AI/game is feasible, although not overly simple (I guess what I mean to say is that it is easy to understand but difficult to master). For example if I were to be playing SSF2 instead, or one of the later ones, I would be overwhelmed with the number of characters I would have to further learn. Aside: Although perhaps this is an artifact of growing up with SF2. That is, if you were new to SF2 now, you would think there are too many characters; but if you continued playing each successful SF2 sequel (or prequel), you would be familiar with the characters and not think there are too many

Another major factor is because the game is balanced (perhaps only at my skill level). Ryu/Ken are popular and seemingly everyone plays them, but all the other characters are still fun to play and competitive if you’re willing to invest the quarters time to learn them well. In fact, I have a suspicion that they made the damage inflicted by Ryu/Ken lower to balance things better. In the end, I think it is a lot like Smash Bros., except that you can only involve 2 people at one time.

My XBOX360 has been complaining a lot on my front page because I haven’t been spending time with it. It’s true that I have been neglecting it a lot, but that’s really because I’m kind of bored with it and lazy about playing it.

The problem is there aren’t any games I’m interested in playing on it. I haven’t hooked up my Rock Band instruments for quite awhile, nor do we have enough space to setup Kinect. I’m too lazy to switch discs around so I’ve gradually moved to downloading XBOX Live Arcade games (although that might also be because I have a surplus of MS points). I also think another reason is because I’m too lazy to get into a disc game that requires 10+ hours.

I also don’t use my XBOX for the media centre capabilities; I don’t subscribe to NetFlix, nor rent movies on Zune nor stream music via Last.FM (since it’s not available in Canada) nor use Twitter/Facebook on there.

So as a result, my XBOX has just been sitting around lately waiting for me to find a good use for it. I think the only way I use it now is to use it to up-convert DVDs!

I went to Dollarama early this month and bought…a couple of XBOX360 games! Yeah that’s pretty crazy, and they were a luxury item – I had to pay $2 for each. The games that I bought were Sneak King and some dirt bike racing game (haven’t tried it yet). They are both games that you previously were able to get at Burger King for 0.99¢ as part of a promotion, so i guess I paid a premium for these rare and collectible games on the secondary market.

Sneak King has been reviewed and universally panned as one of the worse Xbox360 games of all time, although it doesn’t do too bad on Metacritic (54 and 4.7 user score). It involves you being the burger Sneak King and you have to use stealth to surprise various people with coffee, french fries, whoppers and other Burger King items. There are 4 different settings and 20 missions in each, so a healthy amount of gameplay if you don’t get bored with it.

It has problems, the gameplay is not entirely inventive. Actually it gets quite repetitive after awhile. The look controls are reverse of what you would expect, and the graphics seem XBOX-esque (and there is a XBOX version of the game on the disc too). But you know what, it’s actually fun to play!

I think the reason is because there are a lot of reward opportunities, and they consistently come (rather than getting exponentially longer). You can keep delivering surprising food to hungry people and they will always be happy! This scope of this game is more inline with the Doritos-sponsored games (and I would like it even more if I could have it on my HD) but I think the simplicity works for it. There’s no pressure of trying to figure out some weird puzzle to unlock the next stage. So while this is someone’s trash for $2, I think it’s almost a treasure for me (at least until I get 150GS – I think the last 50GS achievement is too tedious)

Doritos runs a promotion where people submit game ideas and then they hire a studio to make them and offer the games for free. Their first game was Dash of Destruction, which involved driving around as a Doritos delivery person while dinosaurs are chasing you around. It wasn’t a great game, but it was free, fun and easy to get achievements so I thought it was a good deal.

This year, Doritos offered two more free games, in a fight to the death (well to win a $50k game consultant position). Surprisingly, both games are even better value than Dash of Destruction. The first is Crash Course which is like the tv show Wipeout. You control your avatar and run through a padded (not that it matters) course with jumps, ledges, hammers, water balloons etc. The goal is to make it to the end in as fast a time as possible. It doesn’t sound like much, but just as how the Wipeout tv show is funny and popular, this game ends up being hilarious (until you try and get through a section for 10 minutes).

The second is Harm’s Way which is a racing/shooting game. The racing part is a combination of Mario Kart (powerups on the road), Burnout (barrel roll for specials), and some game where you race in the desert. The twist is that there are also gun turrets which shoot at you. If you’re playing coop, then your teammate would use the turrets to stop the other racers. If you’re playing single player, you can just play to stop the cars. This game is not as thought out as Crash Course as it is too complex and short; but is still fun, plus it looks much more impressive (i.e., not cartoony).


After not playing any games on my XBOX for awhile (at least not any real games that come on disc), I finally bought a new game and starting playing again. I was encouraged to buy a game because EBGames is having its annual daily doorcrashers in July. This year’s sales have been very lame and the only thing that I bought is Wet.

Wet didn’t get that great of a review (69 on MetaCritic) but I was interested because of the design. The game is in the style of a Quentin Tarantino movie, lots of cussing, blood, and Mexico/Texas influence. Not only that, the game play is in the Chow Yun Fat, jump sideways and shoot with dual-wielded, unlimited ammo pistols. It makes no sense, but it’s fun to play and experience!

There is some platforming that is reminiscent of Mirror’s Edge (although I have limited frame of reference, maybe it’s because it involves jumping and your character is a female) and then a lot of 10000 vs 1 gun fights. You have the ability to do acrobatics; such as jumping in various directions, or sliding, or running up along walls, and when you do so time slows down for you to pull off some headshots. It ends up playing like the 4th quarter of a basketball game and eventually becomes a bit tedious/repetitive; but fortunately, the game is not THAT long.

One project that I never really worked on was to write a RSS reader on Eclipse. I think I never got working on it because the task always seemed so big; there is a big hill to climb before I could’ve gotten anything working, and I didn’t have patience for that. So I’ve been using Feedreader for my feeds instead and it has worked admirably.

The one problem I have with Feedreader is that it is tied to my desktop. That has always been a characteristic of an app that is not web-enabled, and it’s usually fine, but I expect that I am going to be moving away from using my desktop in the near future. In preparation, I’ve been getting acclimated to being desktop-independent, and so I needed a replacement for Feedreader.

I took a look at the usual suspects, Bloglines and Google Reader. Bloglines hasn’t changed in 5 years! Google Reader seemed to have improved a bit, but it still wasn’t what I wanted. Specifically, I wanted a three-pane interface, and there was no way to quickly mark an item as read without using some special keyboard shortcut key. But it wasn’t all bad so I made the switch.

And actually, I found a way that GReader improved my experience. I use to visit Joystiq to catch up on Xbox360 news, but I hated the site. It is very obviously driven by publisher’s marketing budget; a title would get constant coverage weeks before its release, and then after release, they would never talk about it again. But unfortunately, it was still the best place to get the news. With GReader, I don’t feel compelled to read their posts, I just scan the headlines, read the ones that seem interesting and then mark-all-as-read. I guess that’s how you’re supposed to use RSS anyways.


I’ve been playing Chime a lot, trying to get the last few achievements. It’s addicting in a Tetris sort of way, but the more I play the more I notice that the controls are a bit off and not responsive enough. I haven’t been watching as much hockey although that’s because in the last two weeks I was preparing to travel, blogging, and then taking care of some business prior to our move.

Over the Victoria day long weekend, we took a road trip to Chicago with some shopping along the way. During that time, the Midwest and even Toronto had a hot spell where temperatures were above 30°C. I swear it was also snowing at the beginning of May.

In the news, America was talking about a potential attack on Times Square by an inept terrorist for the first part of the month, and then the markets tanked because of the economy in Greece, which the EU bailed out; but the markets still didn’t recover well. There were a lot of red shirt protests in Bangkok and there were concerns that it would escalate into a civil war, but things seemed to have died down.

Being a big spender that I am, I bought yet another Indie Game from the XBLA. This time the price again was 80MSP (which, if you’ve forgotten, is ahem $1). Much like Your Doodles Are Bugged, I think this was a great value for a polished game.

The game I bought was Ace Gal’s which is kind of a cross between Dead Or Alive Extreme Volleyball and Virtua Tennis. Maybe it’ll make more sense if you watch the video.

The gameplay is not as tight as Virtua Tennis, and I wish there was more control flexibility (i.e., sometimes I want to lob); but it’s still fun. Plus you get to play as yourself! Plus it was only a dollar! That’s a lot of pluses so check it out if you have some spare points.

After breaking the seal on my MSP, I picked up another XBLA game with my points. This one is called Chime and is a puzzle game related to Tetris and Lumines.

You have to make “quads” which are squares or rectangles larger than 3×3 by putting odd shapes together on the board. It’s a bit different from Tetris in that you can put pieces over other pieces in some instances. There is a music aspect to it because the soundtrack is embellished depending what pieces are on the board.

To me it’s like a spiritual successor to Rez in that it is a simple concept where you can really get into the music. I played the demo a few times and bought it since it was only 400 MSP (about $5). And really, it’s not even that much because something like 60% of it goes to charity.

Now, if I only end up powering up my 360 to play it…

Last year, XBOX Live introduce a concept called Indie Games which was seen as complementary to their regular (disc) releases and Arcade games (games you download directly onto your XBOX 360). You also download the Indie Games but the difference was that these games weren’t published or rated by Microsoft. Any old joe (actually probably young kid) can create their own game and sell it to make money Microsoft Points.

As you can expect, the first little while there were a lot of homework projects appearing under Indie Games and frankly they were quite disappointing. However, lately I have been noticing that there have been more Indie Games released that are pretty good, they look a lot better (i.e., have an arts budget) and have a narrow (but fun) scope.

The bonus with Indie Games is that they often are cheap. Instead of the 400 ($5 USD), 800, 1200 or even 1600 Microsoft Points for an XBLA game, some of the best selling (and most fun) Indie games are only 80 ($1 USD) MSP! That’s at the Steam-sale level!

I just recently bought my first Indie Game (for 80 MSP) called Your Doodles Are Bugged. It’s a concept similar to Lemmings, although instead of tools you have to doodle lines for your bugs to walk and jump along. It’s a simple concept, but the game play can get complex. The art is great, and looks like a little kid drew it (in a good way). There is also a story that ties all the puzzle stages together. But best of all, it’s only a $1! Check out the trailer:

Continuing my list of what I blogs I read:

  • The Superficial – Everyone needs to read one celebrity gossip site, otherwise how would you know what’s going on in the world?? I think they’re all pretty much the same but this is the one I follow.
  • Torontoist – Likewise, it’s useful to know what’s happening and what people are talking about in the city that you live in. And so we have Torontoist (although I am getting the feeling that BlogTO may be better…)
  • Hockey – I couldn’t find one single site that provides enough (not-retarded) commentary on the TML and the NHL so I end up reading 4: TSN, Bitter Leaf Fan, Raking Leafs, and Puck Update.
  • Nikon Watch – This is the only gear site that I follow, and you know I’m not even that interested in new Nikon gear. But I like to have specific sites for brands that I follow (which rarely update) instead of following one of the big players like Engadget or Gizmodo.
  • Joystiq [Xbox] – This is the Xbox360 channel of Joystiq, where I get all of my gaming news. I tried finding a good Xbox blog, but they are all marketing shills! Including this one!

This past weekend, Xbox Canada held an event at the Better Living Centre in the CNE to promote the upcoming release of Forza Motorsport 3. The had some stations setup to play the game (including 3-TV setups), a few of the cars from the game on display, and an artist who was painting a custom Toronto skin onto a car. There was also an autocross track where you can take rides as people race around the circuit for the best time (which ended up being 18.88s), or race your own car around. Here were our VIP Pit Passes to the event.

Pretty cool eh? It looks like we were all special and all that, being VIP and having pit access; but in reality everyone who filled in the entrance survey received one of these (and you had to to get in).

The had various Audis (a couple of TTs, and a R8) a Ferarri, a Lamborghini and a Mercedes McLaren SLR on display. Did you know the SLR goes for half a million? Someone in Ontario actually owned the SLR and while we were there let some (real) VIPs sit in it. Normal VIPs like us were only able to sit in the Audi TTS and the Ferrari.

The autocross track was a bit lame since it was just in a parking lot (compared to Montreal’s F1 circuit), but we did watch for awhile. It was fun watching people’s cars actually slide around in real life. There were some normal cars like a Golf, souped up Civic; some sports cars like the S2000, GT-R, Fairlady-Z (aka not the NA 350z) and some real rally cars. Here’s a run of the track by a Lotus Elan S3 from the 60s:

It was a bit too chilly for us to stand around in line waiting for a 20 second ride around the track, but that is a neat option. You had to wear a helmet and everything – I guess the air bag is not safe enough.

I didn’t actually try Forza3 because I am not really a fan of simulation racing (and I tried Forza2 which was too hard to be worth the effort), but it was fun to go to this event. I hope it was worth it for Microsoft to put their marketing money into this effort rather than buying more billboards!

Microsoft started working on an online version of the British game 1 vs 100 for the Xbox last year. It’s a push in the casual gamer direction for the Xbox since this is just a general trivia game you can play with four friends locally or online. Aside from the peer competition, there is an competition against the score in order to be part of the prestigious mob (100 people out of 1000s) or the One!

I played for a bit in its (beta) first season. It was fun for a few hours, but eventually trivia gets boring. Last weekend, there was a season two preview (still beta) which I tried; they updated the graphics and UI as well as added a leveling system for score – all welcome additions. All of that is mildly interesting, but the not worthy of a blog; the reason I bring this game up is because I made it into the mob!

It happened a bit weirdly. The round before I was head-to-head with another person in my 4-person group. We both had a great round (lots of instant answers and perfect streak) and she was in the top 10 due to a slightly faster instant answer response time. But both her and the One got a question wrong (while I was correct) and the round ended since the One lost. The statistics went up and even though my score was the highest, I was 2nd in our group and didn’t get a top 10 medal (but my group mate did). The next round loaded, and I thought it messed up since my name didn’t load properly, but it turns out I was in the mob!

I did great in the mob, the round lasted 6 questions and most of the questions were focused around Ontario. The One screwed up a question asking which time zone Yellowknife, Northwest Territories is in. The One and some of my groupmates answered Pacific, but I guess they were confused with Whitehorse, Yukon. I answered Moutain because I had the impression that it is north of Manitoba, which its not, but that’s ok because I was still correct!

I ended up “winning” 160 MS Points and a Xbox Live Arcade Game. I put win in brackets though because since this was a preview, they weren’t awarding any prizes. Unfortunate, since I don’t think I’ll ever make it into the mob again in a real game!

One of the Xbox360 games we bought in HK was Tiger Woods 09. After conversion, it worked out to about $7CDN! What a steal. It is surprisingly fun, and Pauline plays even more than me.

Like most EA Sports games, there is an ability to “Be The Pro”. You can create a golfer with your name and go through a career and be the best (or better than Tiger). In addition to your name, TW09 lets you customize the golfer to be in your image. There are a lot of features to adjust before you can make a mirror image of yourself. Here is what Pauline came up with:

Accurate? Well at least her virtual persona looks Asian.

There is also a feature where you can take pictures of yourself with the Xbox Live Camera and have it generate a face for you. I tried that out and this is how I ended up:

It’s kind of accurate, although they messed up my skin color. In a few years, it might actually look like me in the games!

This arrived in the mail today. I’ve been waiting to get it instead of lining up the first day. Instead I grabbed it for $49.99 at Dell ($10 off). The caveat is that they estimate 5 to 7 days before they ship it out. Well lo and behold, I ordered it yesterday and it arrived today! Now I don’t know what to do since I have this, NHL (which I finally figured out how to play) and Scribblenauts to play. Woe is me.

* moblogged from my phone. How cool is that?

This year, my August was a tad more filled with work than last year. I again took my vacation at the start of August, and we travelled to Asia to visit family and do some tourist stuff. We came back on Sunday evening and it was off to work on the following Monday for me.

Because there weren’t really any breaks, August felt really hectic. I brought my netbook with me on vacation so fortunately I didn’t have to go through my photos, but instead I did some research and shopping to buy a new phone. Then on Saturday, we went to a wedding of a high school friend, on Sunday we went down to Buffalo, and went to Fan Expo for the final Saturday.

At home, I was fiddling around with my new phone and finally got around to playing XBox again. I’ve been playing the new (to me) control scheme NHL09 (I suck) and also Tiger Woods 09 (I suck even more at golf).

Since I was away for most of the month, I haven’t been keeping up with news that much. So I know that Bill Clinton was in town to speak at the CNE, but few people attended. A former Ontario Attorney General dragged and killed a cyclist on Bloor St (I don’t know how dragging someone from Church to Avenue is not premeditated). The big news while I was in Asia was that there was a typhoon which embargoed Taiwan and caused some hotels and houses to wash away. We had our share of rain in Toronto, causing a tornado to touch down in Vaughan and my own experience of driving through a swimming pool of water.

This July was a bit weird. It wasn’t hot, it was rainy, the garbage wasn’t picked up, we had to go to to two weddings, and we didn’t have to prepare for our own.

It was also weird because it felt like summer. Pauline doesn’t need to go to school, at least in the traditional sense, so my schedule is all different. I don’t need to sleep early and when I work from home, I’m not alone. But Pauline has been busy “in school” so I’ve been working through a couple of things including playing through The Simpsons Game that Nelson lent me.

We’ve also been preparing for our vacation, not so much the packing since it’s quick to pack a couple of backpacks, but figuring out the logistics and the plan. I think we have a good system now:

  1. Decide on a list of potential cities.
  2. Figure out what interesting places there are to visit in each city.
  3. Decide on a cities.
  4. Book flights.
  5. List out places to visit in the city
  6. Map things to visit in cities.
  7. Book hotel to make things logistically work.
  8. Figure out scheduling.
  9. Get there and have fun!

At least it sounds like it works in theory.

I’ll remember June for all the events in the news. The biggest news was probably the (most likely) fraudulent Iranian general election. There were many civilian protests and some deaths, ironically reminiscent of Tiananmen Square (which occurred 20 years ago on the 5th). This event was noteworthy because the Iranian government suppressed the media and Internet, but they failed to stop Twitter. Twitter even delayed its maintenance at the request of the US government (who may have other nefarious reasons for doing so)!

In addition to that, there were four celebrity deaths: David Carradine, Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. The MJ saga will stay in the news for quite a long time though.

Aside from that, my life has been pretty normal. I started 12 months of Xbox Live Gold so I’ve been trying to complete online challenges in Burnout Paradise, and I’ve been working on my resume and my work contacts through LinkedIn.

Update: Wow, I totally forgot the Toronto garbage strike and how New York’s Senate flipped over to the Republicans after a couple of Democrats were convinced to flip sides.

The Apple WWDC was this week, and there was a keynote to announce all sorts of Cool Stuff. For previous keynotes, I would follow on a site that was live blogging it, like Mac Rumors or Gizmodo. But this year, I didn’t follow it and the announcements weren’t interesting to me (new iPhone, OS, Macs blah blah).

I’m just not interested in Apple stuff anymore, they were so mid-00s and it’s passé now. Which G iPods are then on anyways?

E3 was also last week, and even though I normally don’t pay attention to it, there were a lot of really cool things announced there. There was Project Natal, Microsoft’s controller-less controller, various NXE integration with online sites (Twitter, Facebook,, and The Beatles: Rock Band.

I have to stop watching that video, because I get so excited every time I watch it. I’m surprised that I don’t see Sony/PS3 in these announcements (sure TB:RB is multi-platform, but Xbox is getting exclusive songs)? I didn’t hear anything cool come out for the PS3 camp. And yes, I’m a Xbox360 fanboy now.