May 312005

So, the three proverbial cats are now long out of the bag, the E3 being over a good while ago. There’s ample linkage to information about the next generation consoles at the usual suspects, and the newest magazines provide facts as well.

And while each and every one of the new consoles seems to have its saving graces, it’s ultimately the games that decide the future. And the game may be over quite rapidly, as the first wave of release games is bound to be buggy, expensive, technically inadequate and ultimately disappointing – if the previous big roll-outs are any indication. The snazzy graphics will suffice for a while, but soon or even much sooner, the shallow nature of the initial bunch will be apparent.

And in that respect, it’s the backwards compatibility that can make or break a console (unless a miracoulous truly kick-ass launch game is discovered somewhere).

Nintendo Revolution seems to hold the lead in this category.
With the long tail of the company’s sizable ludography, this product has immediate access to countless classics from day one. Distribution mechanisms and prices are, of course, still up in the air, but the potential is very much present.

A good number two is Sony Playstation 3. With backwards compatibility to PS2 (and supposedly the original Playstation as well). But unless some on-line mechanism for purchasing ancient games is launched to mimic Nintendo’s, the forgotten classics will remain so.

Microsoft Xbox360 remains firmly in the last place.
Switching CPU architectures (x86 to PPC) does not bode well for backward compatibility. And the company has been wisely silent of the topic. Perhaps they’re just counting on the newest instances of the Halo and Gotham Racing franchises being available just in time.

Of course, the preceding list is nothing but hype, based on more hype. But it at least looks beyond the looming big-hair era of games. And it is indeed pleasant to note that a mainfesto about bad things in games has been drafted. Unfortunately, the odds given for the elimination of the listed annoyances with the inbound seventh generation are not promising at all. Nintendo, again, seems to have a mesage about its consoles being reachable by small teams, even individual coders, rather than the blockbuster-class budgets demanded by modern games. After all, I’d much rather have a new Tetris, than sixteen indistinguishably photorealistic firstperson-shooters.

Me? Plans to purchase any? Wait and see, definitely. But it’ll be a while before the actual tide rolls in.

May 312005

Supposedly yesterday’s color scheme was headache-inducing.

Hope this is more to readers liking. And yeah, it is named version two, but the count, of course, starts from zero…

May 292005

Fact of life #216: you invariably end up supporting something stupid, sooner or later.

Scott Berkun has taken the trouble to discover why, and what to do about it. Good schtuff, and the other essays on the site seem interesting as well.

May 282005

New Gorillaz was finally out, nabbed the two-disc version. Haven’t yet checked the dvd, but the record itself is pretty much what I expected an eclectic mix of catchy songs (though nothing as hooky as Clint Eastwood on the debut album) and weird beats.

As was the last album of Sentenced. Last in the sense that they’e decided to quit while on top of their game. Based on a single trip through the record, it’s good indeed, and a nice capstone for a decade-spanning career. The very last song on the record, End of the Road, even includes a semi-pompous childern’s choir to underline the fact that this is it. Will make an effort to catch them live before they bow out – the two previous gigs (Ruisrock ’99 and Tavastia ’01 [I think]) were worthy indeed.

Missed Jonna Tervomaa at the Maailma Kylässä-occasion due to a scheduling conflict. Don’t think her set was that different from the gig a month ago.

May 282005

Nokia announced its first pseudo-nonphone-PDA, or “Internet Tablet” as the press release calls it (specs are already public).

What makes the release very important is the fact that this is not a Symbian-based product (like the ubiquitous Series 60 phones). Nope, this baby uses Linux as its operating system.

Which means that producing software for this leverages existing developer base and existing tools. Which should bring lots of interesting applications in short order. Especially when a full-scale development environment is already available.

And the price is on the sweet side as well, first estimates hover around $350.

And at the same time the company also announces that it will not enforce patents in the Linux kernel. A good start in a very controversial field.

[Mandatory disclaimer time: And no, despite yours truly working for Nokia, this is a product of a whole different business unit. And I had no part in designing it. But am quite interested in playing with
it and porting stuff.]

May 282005

Helped Pekka carry in his newest acquisition. Not too much of trouble, the non-widebody machine moved nicely with four bearers. Which cannot really be said of the ST:TNG that needed to be moved during the rearrangement of machinery.

And a pretty sweet machine the Cirqus Voltaire is, indeed. Lots of things to do, and a rubber ball on the playing field to add to the chaos. And how could you not love a game that gives a score-replay on the very first game. And twice more during half a dozen tries. Either I was very good, or the thresholds were set very low. My money’s on the latter alternative.

May 272005

Saw Hawkwind. Another precision-timed gig, band began their set almost immediately after I’d gotten then first and only beer.

Played for about 90 minutes. Setlist consisted of both old (and mostly recognizable) classics as well as of newer songs. Started with Spirit of the Age, did a re-imagined version of Psychedelic Warlords, and missed both Motorhead and Silver Machine.

The concert was very subdued, mellow lightshow, no professional dancers – couldn’t afford them, and any amateurs were shooed off the stage in short order. Raps between songs were on the short side, but entertaining – and yeah, the meaning of Assassins of Allah/Hassan I Sahba can be interpreted in that way too…

The average age of the audience was probably the highest I’ve ever seen at Tavastia – lots of old hippies milling around.

Was entertaining, a very good show, but not enough to entice me to see them again in Tampere today.

May 242005

Warmest day thus far. +23 or thereabouts. Did the “afterwork beer on the cliffs overlooking Tali”. And noted that a lot of people have already passed by, if the glass shards and dachshund-skins are any indication. Taking cans into wider use would, of course, lessen the impact, but clearly that’s not a desirable solution for the local breweries.

Also claimed the third room of the flat for permanent use. Recharged the electric lantern and took it to the balcony, along with a bunch of plants (time to buy basil and rosemary soon), and a couple of magazines.

Was supposed to get thundersome today, but haven’t yet seen any promising clouds.

May 242005

Saw the last part of the second (chronologically first) Star Wars trilogy.

And it’s pretty bad. However, it’s nowhere as bad as the two previous parts. Phantom Menace was totally void of any real sense of wonder, and introduced midichlorians and Jar-Jar Binks. For those two sins George Lucas has a lot to account for. Attack of the Clones was not much better, and featured the worst romantic subplot this side of Tom Clancy novels. Hence, the bar was pretty low for this movie.

And to be honest, it wouldn’t have cleared if it had been any higher. The characters are wooden, acting doubly so – and Lucas manages to make even Ewan McGregor and the ever-cool Samuel L. Jackson to give perplexing wooden dummy impersonations. Maybe they just loaded up on horse tranquilizers upon reading the script. After all, it worked wonders with Keith Moon. And yeah, the script sucks royally – with dialogue that would not look out of place in a Bulwer-Lytton contest.

The story has epic overtones, but the much-touted Fall of the Chosen One never really convinces. But that’s mostly due to the utter disdain to reality that the story keeps carrying on. Of course, a certain amount of suspense of disbelief is expected in a fantasy movie, but my suspenders can only take so much stress before violently snapping.

The movie is on the violent side, bloodless of course, with damage mainly confined to droid opponents. However, there’s occasional maimings and slayings of humans as well – leading to the higher than
expected rating (11 years+ in Finland). The only really disturbing images are at the very end – a well-roasted Anakin and his Vaderization and the return of Jar-Jar (fortunately silent).

However, despite the criticism, there are good aspects to the movie – space scenes are evocative, and the Coruscant background nothing short of beautiful. However, they really do not outweigh the bad parts, but make the experience reasionably painless on the eyes. And it’s weird how each planet is known by a singular feature (cold world, volcanic one, blah blah blah).

On the definitely positive side, the plot about the emperor seizing power has obvious counterparts in the current dispersal of civil rights, and this has given the bloodhounds an amusing hissy fit. Hence a bonus half-a-star.

And for a dissenting opinion, New Yorker’s Anthony Lane utterly massacres the movie in his review. And don’t forget the inspired rant
by another unsatisfied customer.

May 222005

Seems that a followup for the glorious Troops-spoof (Star Wars meets Cops in a gritty rendition of the everyday life of
the ubiquitous troopers in white) is out. And either Bittorrent in general or just my instance of Azureus is acting up (and very slow).

Bugger. Not going to try to fix it now.

May 222005

And despite spring being barely officially noticed, it seems that summer is definitely rolling in.

  • Daytime temperature >20C. Check.
  • First visit to a beach.
  • “I definitely need new canvas tops”. Check.
  • First beer drunk on the cliffs near work.
  • First visit to Suomenlinna. Check.
  • Plants taken out to balcony. Check.
  • Official summer songs (Blackfoot’s Fly Away and Seals & Crofts’ Summer Breeze for starters) percolate to the top of the pod. Check.

So nope, despite a strong appearance, it is not yet summer. But I’m happy with it, no matter how the current season is classified.

May 212005

Sure, I’d love some three-chord punk, just not tonight

Despite being firmly a nike-man, I gave Converse-kerho serious thought.

But decided against it. Somewhat early morning wakeup call and general lameness (had to catch this week’s 24 on the rebound on subtv) were too much of a gluing factor.

Next time, then.

EDIT 21.8.2008: Link’s not dead but the site seems to be.

May 212005

Records: new Dickinson, Itäväylä‘s debut, new System of a Down, FantomasSuspended Animation (calendar edition, of course). And the Cult‘s 5-disc box borrowed from library.

Books: new Soininvaara (now out in paperback), old Bryson (Mother Tongue – never even seen it before). Sin City parts 2 and 3 (Dame to Kill for and Big Fat Kill), that I missed when being a poor student. New Dark Horse editions are nifty and done on decent paper.

Dvds: Raging Bull, last instance of Band of Brothers in the metal box.

Other entertainment: Pigging out with delicious sushi at Koto, cursing self for having forgotten ipod at home and being forced to listen to more-than-usually inane banter on the bus on the way back (and no, being tipsy is no excuse for singing – thankyouverymuch).

Curiously absent: noticeable hangover, updates to tv or stereo, no DS. Their time will come. Forgot the new NIN, and Gorillaz was not out yet.

May 172005

More tour guidance.

Visited the ice bar at Uniq. Nice experience. Chilly, as expected. And you’re forced to put on this Romulan-Inuit coat that certainly nullifies anybody’s street cred in a moment.

Ate at Belge for the first time. Good food. Plentiful portions. Decided that three days of finnish food is torture enough for anybody.

Torni had been de-scaffolded, and the view from the Ateljee-bar on the 11th floor was still mighty good.

Souvernir t-shirts are surprisingly expensive.

And there’s a lot of image-filled books about Finland. And some manage to hit all the clichés along the way. But some don’t, thankfully.

So, another reunion draws to a close. Thanks guys. And see you in Bavaria, next year.

May 162005

British post-progressives The Coral seem to release a new album on my birthday. Their site is definitely not the greatest thing in the web, but seems functional apart from the store-pages.

Didn’t much like their previous record, Nightfreak & The Sons Of Becker, but that probably could have been rectified by more thorough exposure to it. Still prefer their eponymous debut album to their later output.

And since the new singles (two versions of In the Morning) don’t seem to be on sale locally, have to scrounge them from the usual suspects at ebay.

And both Audioslave (no idea which direction they have turned to) and Gorillaz (Feel Good Inc. seems decent continuation from the first album) release their second albums on the very same day. Bruce Dickinson’s new solo work should be released this wednesday, as should the first part of the System of a Down double-header. And I still haven’t seen the new Nine Inch Nails’ With Teeth either. So, it’ll be a busy season for recordstores…

May 162005

Played host for a bunch of visiting friends over the weekend (a non-sanctioned Utah European Alumni event).

Weather was nothing short of excellent, and sunshine was much
appreciated. Especially when it’s been raining rather severely today.

So, what’s there to do:

  • Reindeer and other finnish delicacies at Lasipalatsi.
  • Boat-tour of the Helsinki harbor and environs. On the chilly side, but definitely worthy.
  • Day trip to Porvoo.
  • More finnish specialties at Zetor. Elk sauté
    (riistankäristys) is definitely worth a visit.
  • Temppeliaukio
    never fails.
  • Mandatory nightcaps in U.Kaleva & Torni
  • Suomenlinna in the evening, in high winds and bright sunshine. And before the summer crowds swallow up the islands.
  • Listening to some non-descript up and coming band pound their instruments from Kappeli patio.
  • Weird recycled-materials art show behind Kiasma.
  • Just generally rambling around, pointing out buildings, statues and things as they are passed.

All in all an enjoyable weekend. Pictures will be posted somewhere once I wrangle them out of the camera. Don’t hold your collective breaths (and anyway, I took only a few).

And I’m definitely looking forward to the upcoming one in Munich next year.

May 132005

Bah. Couldn’t find this in anything but finnish. Sorry.

Seems that there’s a move underway to update the euro coins soon.

Mainly to reflect the upgraded EU map, but some member states have a pretty good reason to update their coins altogether. Vatican has a new pope, and the Begian coins are just boring. And probably some of the new member states are looking for membership in the euro-zone as well. UK and Sweden probably will resists that till the bitter end.