Apr 302008

It’s pleasantly dry, sunny and warm outside. As a contrast to many other mayday eves that have been celebrated in horizontally zooming sleet.

Time to head back out. Not downtown though, that level of chaos is not appreciated.

Apr 292008

Purchased GTA IV last night (shops started selling the game at midnight).

And finished the first mission before going to bed.

Based on a sleep-addled ten minutes – the game is pretty, the soundscape once again magnificently realized.

Should consume quite a few hours in the immediate future.

Apr 282008

In an unexpected turn of events, Psystar, the alleged supplier of cloned Macintosh computers has been proven legit.

Legit in the sense that someone’s been able to capture a machine on video, not to the extent of being legal in any way.

Bets on Apple suing the proverbial socks off the company are taken at the usual bookies.

Apr 272008

TypeRacer LogoBeen playing a couple of games of TypeRacer, and politely reminded that learning the 10-finger system is not a mandatory part of the finnish curriculum.

My rather unorthodox typing style does not lend itself well to scoring high in the game. Though let it be known that the incredibly low score in the first game was due to capitalization confusion (blatantly missed the immediate and pointed feedback provided by the game).

But it can only improve with practice.

And the act of racing a car with your wpm (to lyrics of random songs and many other sources) is actually rather a pleasant way of getting typing exercise.

Apr 262008

Two entries from wikipedia took me back to the early eighties earlier this week.

One of the very first (if not even the first) Lucky Luke albums I ever owned was The Rivals of Painful Gulch. The story concerned itself with two families on the warpath due to alleged slights committed way lower on the branches of the respective family trees. I thought that this was yet another neat idea brought forward by the script-writing machine known as René Goscinny, until a casual reference during a game a couple of weeks ago alluded that the plot might have been based on a real-life incident. True enough, with a bit of gentle prodding, the wikipedia spilled its guts on the long-ranging Hatfield-McCoy feud waged in the eastern backcountry for a dozen years.

The other nostalgia-inducing article was on Sunfish, the biggest bony fish known to science, and known as möhkäkala in finnish. Back when I was an ten-year old and avid borrower of animal-books in the Helsinki libraries, I was pretty sure this critter (and especially its supposed size) was just a joke on readers – no fish could be of that unearthly shape, and especially not at that weight class. Turns out that no joke was involved, and that the ichthyologists of the world are not truly aware of the life cycle of this docile beast.

Apr 252008

It’s easy to say that it’s not been a very good week thus far, when you catch yourself smiling uncontrollably at an innocent typo on a slide.

But I couldn’t help it – the concept of order of staring processes just caught me off guard in the first meeting of the day.

Apr 242008

Usually my morning walk to to work takes about 22 minutes, from door to desk.

This morning was a bit more hurried, the very same 22 minutes, from bed to meeting room. Shower included, but breakfast omitted.

And only then noted that the meeting started half an hour later.

Not nice, ought to remember to sync the phone at least on a weekly basis.

Apr 232008

#87:  Domestic

This week’s photo thursday challenge is domestic – something typically finnish.

I’m sure this week’s collection will be filled with images on flags, forests and snow. Among other things. My take is a very common scene in Ostrobothnia, an lush emerald-green field sliced in half by a powerline, topped with a roiling sky. The photograph is taken in Nivala, on the edge of just such a field, and despite appearances it did not rain that day.

Even more typical image would have been one of a lopsided barn, weathered by scores of winters, but in the era of effective agriculture, such buildings are becoming rarer every year.

Apr 222008

A List Apart began a nifty-looking series of articles on getting started with Ruby on Rails.

Been intrigued by the concept for a while, and looking for a therapy project – will definitely look into this.

EDIT: OK, so it’s not a series, really… Just two articles in a row on the very same subject. Fooled me for a while.

Apr 222008

By far the biggest news in recent times in the interactive fiction community is Andy Baio’s uncovering of the unpublished sequel to the 1984 game published by Infocom.

That’s right. A whole unpublished game. Or actually just a duo of prototypes with very limited functionality.

But it’s not really the game (playable on the page with an embedded Z-machine interpreter) that’s the highlight of the show, but the story of the game – told both in the blog entry, and the long string of comments to it.

The comments are worthwhile indeed, as the writers include several Infocom implementors (and also quite a bit of extended flaming). The game spent a long time in pre-production, including a stint when it was to be co-developed by their worst rivals, Magnetic Scrolls. But in the end it did not really go far, as Infocom was scuttled by Activision’s closing of the Cambridge office in 1989.

The game design is also featured on the page, detailed to a level on which a programmer could easily take the basic plot and whip it to a shape in a couple of evenings. Obviously, filling out the details and otherwise productizing the game would consume a whole lot more. And there would be the nasty issue of copyrights to consider…

Apr 222008

Well, I alluded to my utter inexperience with World of Warcraft (and actually all Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games altogether) yesterday.

That’s not my only omission, another significant chunk of games that has gone almost entirely unplayed are Japanese role-playing games.

I tried out Final Fantasy VII back in the original playstation days, but found it not too interesting. The story was a total railroad, the random battles far too frequent and time-consuming and all in all the game just rubbed me the wrong way. Any semblance of actually playing a “role” and making meaningful choices was very limited, and the proceedings seemed to be nothing more than visually exquisite number-cruncher’s dream. With bucketfuls of teen angst piled on.

However, despite my misgivings, I’m still interested in the genre, and the recent Lost Odyssey seems to be a possible entrypoint. After all, a game that uses a similar entrypoint to the almighty Planescape: Torment can’t be all bad.

On the other hand, my backlog so does not need yet another long game, and reading the Gamasutra article on the top 20 japanese RPGs is a far easier way to get better acquainted with the history.

Apr 212008

The analysis series of Guardian’s list of top 50 blogs concludes here. Hopefully the fifth batch might bring some fresh faces.

The F-Word
The tagline, Contemporary UK Feminism, proves it – this is not a blog I was meant to read.
Jonny B’s private secret diary
Haircut (including a healthy relationship with barnyard animals) from UK. Yet another on the “to skip, like, forever”-stack.
Pop Justice
Somewhat thoroughly UK-specific pop music blog. Which completes a hat trick of blogs to forget originating from the Blighty.
Waiter rant
The outbursts of a well-writing cynical waiter have been a guilty pleasure in the past (I’ve once even linked to the guy). Definitely time to put this back where it belongs (and that’s Google Reader for those keeping score at home). The forthcoming book might be just the thing to read in a pretentious wine bar (or when bored to death at an airport).
Low grade celebrity gossip interspersed with occasional movie trivia (that usually ends up abusing some has-been celebrity). To avoid, in two words.
In a completely game journalist-career shattering move, I’ve got a confession to make: I’ve never played World of Warcraft. The ongoing Rookie-series might be a good thing to catch up on if I ever get bitten (and I inevitably will).
Angry Black Bitch
More feminist diatribes. Another blog for the deadbook.
Styleblog for the fairer sex. If I cannot enjoy the far more topical Sartorialist, this is so out of contention.
Just say no.
If I were a copywriter or even pretended to be one, this would be invaluable. Now, it’s just a curiosity passed by on the unending trawl for interesting bits to read.

Read-ratio: 10% (with a possibility of occasionally checking out the WoW-action).

The last episode thus concludes with a happy reunion with the Ranting Waiter, so the exercise was by no means futile. Next up: Time Magazine’s take on the same subject.

Apr 212008

Moody Monday 21.4.2008:  Incomplete

Today’s Moody Monday photography challenge is incomplete.

I don’t think that there’s anything in my collection that’s more blatantly incomplete than Antoni Gaudi’s Sagrada Família in Barcelona. The church, under construction since 1882, is projected to be completed in 2026 on the 100th anniversary of the architect’s death.

A visit to the church is heavily recommended – the gigantic building is full of odd details, made even more strange by the state of the construction (as evidenced by the flock of cranes surrounding and covering the area). Some parts have been ready for decades and show appropriate weathering, whereas signifcant parts exist only on paper. The crypt of the church has an interesting museum that describes the long history of the construction effort.

As usual, the full-size image is available by clicking the photograph.

Apr 202008

Mission: Metallica promises to allow users to “experience” the ninth studio album from the band already in may.

I’ll give it a shot. The worst they can do is to strain the spam-filters of gmail a bit further.

Sadly, it would appear that Metallica will not be seen nearer than Riga St. Petersburg, unless the preliminary tour schedule published in Roklintu is significantly extended.

EDIT: Assumptions about distance were incorrect.