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Friday, April 28, 2006

More photos, some exciting news, and a quick Wii

Wedding shots!
Cornelia, the lovely wife of my ex-colleague from I-Imagine and good buddy, gave us the photos she took at our wedding. Now this lady is a photography student, and she has some serious skills, so they're well worth a look ;) Thanks a stack Cornelia, and Happy Birthday for Sunday!

I-Imagine's new publishing deal
I-Imagine has announced a publishing deal with Spanish Publisher Virgin Play which will see the release of their new title Final Armada released on the PS2 and PSP in all European territories in Q3 2006. I-Imagine is one of my former employers, where I worked on the Xbox game Chase: Hollywood stunt driver as well as on the technology used in Final Armada.

Well done guys, and good luck for the hard work ahead. I can't wait to pick up a copy of Final Armada and bring it around for a manual signing ;-)

PSP Firmware update 2.7 includes some nifty stuff
Sony released a new firmware update for the PSP this week, bringing the system software up to version 2.7. As well as AAC audio support (which makes copying of podcasts easier) and some other minor changes, this version adds support for Macromedia Flash to the PSP’s web browser. Besides the obvious benefit of being able to view flash-heavy websites, this makes it possible to run flash games on the system by copying them onto the memory stick and accessing them locally. I am sure this will open up a whole new world to PSP homebrew developers, as well as a new target platform for flash developers. It turns out that the update also enables the system to run signed code off the memory stick. Sony previously stated they would not allow this sort of functionality, for fear of piracy, but they have obviously realized that pirates have found other methods anyway so they may as well make use of potentially great functionality.

Nintendo takes the piss
Nintendo have announced the new name of their upcoming console. The next-gen console, previously known as the Revolution, and widely anticipated for it's unique new approach to game controls, is to be known in future as the Wii.

This announcement has of course led to huge discussion on the web, as people speculate on the reasoning behind the new name. Nintendo's choice is partially driven by the phonetic similarity to the word 'we', which is meant to emphasize the social nature of the machine. Of course the similarity to the slang for urine has definitely not been missed by the internet community, and is sure to be the subject of many jokes and cartoons for weeks to come.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I'm selling stuff!

Against my hoarding instinct, I've decided to sell off some of the stuff that's taking up space and not getting used. For now the following is it, I'll add more books and some Xbox games in a later post. Help me find good homes for my precious goodies please (and while you're at id contribute to the Xbox 360 fund) :)

1. Box 'O' Mags

Not to be mistaken for the NAG survey's Box 'O' stuff, this is a box of about 80 gaming mags from the 90s (everything from Sega Pro to Edge to OPM). I'll also throw in about 10 comics from the early 90s when marvel made an attempt to publish in SA. Make an offer for this little piece of gaming history and take a walk down memory lane ;)

2. Books

All paperback, all in excellent condition.

-Terry Pratchett: Thief of Time

-Kim Stanly Robinson: Antarctica

-Dan Simmons: Ilium

3. PC Games

All in original packaging and in mint condition. In the case of older games this obviously means cardboard boxes, newer stuff is in DVD cases. All manuals, key sheets, etc still in the boxes.

-Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

-Black and White 2


-Deus Ex

-Command and Conquer: Generals

-BattleZone 2

-Empire Earth

-Syndicate Wars

-The Sims

-Aliens vs Predator

-Homeworld Cataclysm

-Emporer: Battle for Dune

-Metal Gear Solid

-Theme Park World

-Crusader: No Regret

-X: Beyond the frontier

-Black and White

Monday, April 24, 2006

Deep in the magical forests of Plitvice

Honeymoon in Croatia: Plitvice

(And today's shots are all HERE)

We slept a bit later on Friday, enjoyed another bread and cereal breakfast (with some tea, of course) and set off inland for Plitvice. Our first challenge of the day was trying to find the highway. A highway isn't something you'd expect to be difficult to find, however there's the little matter of a mountain range separating Trogir from the inland highway, so we spent a good 45 minutes negotiating what could have been mistaken for tarred goat trails crossing the mountains. In retrospect it would probably have made more sense to backtrack to Split and get on the highway from there. In the end we made it onto the highway intact, and what a highway! Croatia has apparently been on a massive infrastructure construction spree over the last five years, and that includes massive six-lane highways connecting most of the country's major cities and points of interest. There are automatic boomed ticket booths at every onramp, which present you with a ticket to be handed over at a toll booth when you get off the highway. It turns out the government is recouping a fair amount of their construction cost with tolls, a trip on the highway from Dubrovnik to Zagreb would cost in excess of R300!

Thanks to the highway, most of the drive to Plitvice was a pleasure, cruising along at just over 130km/h most of the way. When we did finally get off the highway, the little roads through the country were far less pleasant to traverse. Once again we spent some time climbing and descending winding little goat trails, and at some points these roads ran through ghost towns obviously evacuated in the war in the 90's. Homes and church walls alike were riddled with bullet holes and damaged from fire and combat. This was a very somber and saddening experience, and can only be likened to walking through catacombs or mass graves-very sad.

Of course it wasn't all doom and gloom; we made it to the park and to our hotel, Jezera. There was obviously something very important happening there, as we drove past countless military and police vehicles parked along the road, and the hotel itself was full of uniformed men, mostly very senior looking. We never did figure out what was going on. We checked in, dropped off our stuff in our room and, after a quick lunch at the bar, headed into the park. We decided to take the ferry down to the lower parts of the series of lakes, and walk from there.

The park was so quiet (being out of season) that we had the ferry all to ourselves, which was great. It was quite nippy and there was a chilly wind blowing as well, so we were bundled up as warmly as we could be, watching the scenery go by as we munched on Kras chocolate. We arrived at the drop off point, which I remembered from my previous visit to Plitvice (though this time it was deserted-no vendors or visitors) and set off on foot. As luck would have it, the viewing point route which Natalie suggested we take led us up to the top of a canyon headed by the largest waterfall in the park: Veliku Slap (literally 'Big Waterfall'). The walk along the top of the canyon and then down into it by the waterfall was magical, as was crossing over the too-blue water to the other side and climbing up through a water-carved cave. While the trees were mostly bare, the first flowers of spring were poking up all over the place, and the forests are wonderfully peaceful. The waterfalls and lakes are indescribable, it's astonishing how much water there is flowing through that area, and when one is near the waterfalls the air is so full of mist that it's as if you're walking through a cloud! A bit further on we found ourselves at a bus pickup point and waited for a group of German old fogies also waiting for a lift. the hike had taken us a good 3 hours or so.

After a quick visit to our room to 're-supply' we headed back out to the park to enjoy a bit more of it before sunset. We were treated to a bit of snow-well, ice by that stage actually-and froze our hands making snowballs and generally acting like little kids! As the sun started to set over the trees we headed back. A shower and general 'guss-up' was followed by a delicious meal of stuffed salmon for me and chicken breasts for Natalie at the hotel restaurant. After our too-short visit to one of the most beautiful parks in the world, it was bedtime again.

Next update: Benici house!

In other news..

Well, there isn't really any worth mentioning. The SNO has warned people not to 'expect miracles' and insisted that it has 'no intention to start a price war with Telkom', so it looks like we're in for the same-old same-old on the telecoms side of things, despite the much anticipated 'competition' in the country.

Gaming-wise, i got hold of "Worms" for the PSP, and it's as great as it's predecessors. I'll put a mini-review up on Desconocido sometime soon. I'm still being wishful about the Xbox 360, and keeping my eye out for a good deal on one, though I'm slowly starting to accept that there's no way I'll get away with less than R4000 for a Premium pack, and the Core just isn't worth it!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

More honeymoon shots - Trogir and Sibenik

Honeymoon in Croatia: Up the coast, Trogir and Sibenik

(As always, more pics on Flickr)

Wednesday 29 April, we'd had a good rest, and taken advantage of the hotel's big breakfast again by stocking up on some extra 'supplies' for the day. We packed up our little red Citroen and waved goodbye to Dubrovnik and 5 star luxury. We wasted a bit of time getting mildly lost in Dubrovnik (and filling up at a gas station-self service), and then hit the road for Trogir-about a 250km drive if I remember correctly. We really took our time, besides the coastal road being very narrow and winding, we made quite a few stops. The drive was lovely, very scenic and generally quite enjoyable, with the exception of the section between Split and Trogir, when we hit rush hour traffic (the part of Split that we passed through was also quite ugly and industrial, which didn't help very much).

We eventually got to Trogir late that afternoon and hunted down our hotel, which was hidden away in the 'old town' of Trogir on a little island joined to the 'mainland' by two bridges. The streets between the old buildings are very narrow, so one has no choice but to park in a parkade next to the old part of town and walk a couple hundred meters with your luggage. The southern 'shore' of the island is a lovely boardwalk with cafe's and benches and a few palm trees, so the short trek to the hotel was quite enjoyable. The hotel itself (Hotel Fontana) is in one of the old buildings and is extremely quant and cozy. We settled in for a bit of a rest (read nap), and then headed down to the Fontana Restaurant-obviously affiliated with the hotel but not actually joined to it. After a good meal (no, not pasta this time) in the smoky little 'joint' we went for a walk to look around. Natz bought some socks.. yay! :) We headed back to the hotel, desperate for some good old fashioned tea (which is a rarity in that part of the world, they drink herbal teas, obviously without milk), thankfully part of our 'haul' from breakfast included some Twinings 'English Breakfast' tea bags, so we got some hot water and milk from reception and had a good old English cuppa' in our room. Tally Ho!

So, on to day 4: we had an early breakfast, of course being in a three star place it was a 'continental' breakfast, no eggs or bacon or anything; just bread, croissants and cereal. We headed out into the streets of Trogir to have a look around. This didn't take too long, while old Trogir is interesting and has it's fair share of sights it's not very big, so by about midday we'd seen pretty much everything (including the fort, tower, four or five churches, cathedral and entrances to the town) and decided to cross the bridge to the market and have a quick look there. Again this didn't take long, and by about 1 we were back at the hotel. Since we still had the entire afternoon we decided to head off to Sibenik, since our guidebook (the excellent Eyewitness Croatia) indicated lots of great sights there.

The drive took us about an hour, excluding a stop at Primosten (once again a town on an island joined to the mainland by a short bridge), where we literally walked around the island and took some time to relax on a stony beach and finally visited the church at the top of the hill.

When we finally reached Sibenik it took us some time to find the old town (it turned out that it was down by the harbor) and when we did we parked our car and headed out on foot again. This is one stop where we REALLY did a lot of walking. Heading in through the huge gate in the imposing city walls, we found the cathedral, on the main square opposite a once-palace that is now a restaurant. The cathedral is huge, and besides the main alter, and six flanking alters, includes a little baptistery with incredible gothic work on it's ceiling. We headed away from the square and were seduced by the smell of pizza coming from a restaurant not too far from the cathedral and stopped for an early supper. With our stomachs once again full, we hit the streets, and happened upon a sign for the castle of St. Stephan. The hike up to the old, dilapidated castle turned out to be quite a long, strenuous one, but well worth it for the view alone. We spent quite a bit of time up there just enjoying the high vantage point, and looking out on the city, sea and islands. Eventually we headed back down to earth and our car, and hit the road. We didn't make any stops this time, but despite that it was dark by the time we got 'home'. Once again we settled in with a nice cuppa, and spent some time mulling over what we'd seen-and what we would see at our next stop, the Plitvice National Park.

No tech news for this post, sorry. You'll just have to make do with staring at these photos and pretending you're there :)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

More wedding shots!

Courtesy of my cousin Julia, who leeched them off uncle Gerry's camera, I have a few more wedding photos on flickr. Of course they're mostly of that part of the family (my Mom's side, the Brobergs) so it's like a collection of photos from a giants' convention! Thanks a stack Jules.. it's your turn soon ;)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Some honeymoon stuff.. and Google challenges Exchange

Honeymoon in Croatia: Frankfurt, Dubrovnik

(All photos are HERE)

As promised, here is the first ‘place-by-place’ commentary on our honeymoon in Croatia. Ok, so Frankfurt isn't in Croatia, but we did spend a fair amount of time there, waiting for our connecting flight. I have to say, I have gained new respect for the poor sod that inspired the movie The Terminal. We killed about 6 hours in the terminal at Frankfurt Airport, and they were extremely painful hours. Duty free shopping (and window shopping) only managed to chew up about one-and-a-half of those hours, and then it was a case of hanging out in McDonalds until ‘our time’. At least the McD’s there has a nice view of the apron and we could watch the planes. Pity I didn’t have a PSP at that stage.

Anyway, we landed in Dubrovnik at about 4 in the afternoon on Monday the 27th of April and picked up our little Citroen 4-door diesel. What a nice little car to drive! It was far easier driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road than I expected, and even having to change gears with my right hand didn’t take too long to get used to. We drove down to our hotel (the Dubrovnik Palace Hotel-we got a free upgrade to it from the Uvala hotel since it was closed out of season) which took about 15 minutes. Our hotel room was magnificent, and the view over the sea and eyelands breathtaking! We relaxed a bit (we had been traveling for almost 24 hours after all) and then went to hunt down supper-which was a challenge since most places in the area we looked were closed out of season. We ended up going for pasta at a little restaurant we had all to ourselves-and after complementing his food the owner insisted on ‘treating’ us to some complementary rakija-yuck!

The next day, after a good night’s rest and a massive and satisfying breakfast, we hit the ‘old town’ of Dubrovnik. It was magnificent, we had wonderful weather and exploring the old city -with its impressive maritime defense walls (the most ‘complete’ on the Mediterranean) and numerous noteworthy monuments was a great way to spend our first day! Among other things we saw the Big Onofrio’s fountain just inside the Pile Gate (the main entrance into the old city), the Ploce gate, Orlando’s column, the Sponza Palace and many more. We also spent some time just walking amongst the little alleyways and along the city walls-Natalie was amazed at the tiny spaces people lived in and it’s a real eye-opener as to how spoiled we are space wise in South Africa. The little shops hidden away in the alleyways are lovely, and a totally different and refreshing experience to our busy shopping malls that protect you from the elements. We headed back to the hotel for a rest and to fetch our car (we’d used the bus to get to the old town), and then headed back to a restaurant we’d seen while walking around the city for supper. We had pasta again, and again it was great, the place had a very cozy, homey feel to it-which was a pleasant change from the icy wind that was blowing outside. Back at the hotel we settled in for our last ‘5-star’ night, and got a good nights rest in preparation for the next day’s drive..

And Google takes on another MS product

It’s starting to look as if companies with unlimited, quick internet access could happily forgo MS Exchange in favor of an all-web Google product suite instead. Google has released the beta of its calendar product which, unsurprisingly, works in tandem with GMail to offer a feature-rich online contact, communication and time management system. Besides being able to add and edit events on the calendar as expected, and receive notification of events, Google calendar allows linking to other calendars (both public and those of friends), invitation of others to organize events, creation of additional calendars and importing of existing event detail from Outlook (through CSV export files). As with its other products, the system is incredibly intuitive and includes handy little bonuses such as predictive text and so on. The Google machine marches on..

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Back in the habit

Some honeymoon photos

Ok, so I promised a day-by-day account.. I’ll get there, but right now you’ll just have to settle for the few photos I uploaded to my Flickr account. This is just a tiny selection of the huge number of photos I had developed from the trip (yes, I’m still using an analog camera, so sue me). We’re also getting our official wedding photos back today, so this is going to be a serious photo review weekend ;)

And some tech stuff

I have been looking for a convenient way to copy music to my PSP for ages now, with now luck. Samuel recommended I try iTunes Agent, and I have to say it does a great job. I’ve never really given iTunes a second thought, being a Windows Media Player fan (shut up all you WinAmp fanbois-I used WinAmp ubtil they introduced version 3 and lost the plot, now WMP has all those functions anyway!). IA however has given me a good reason to switch players, and in doing so I have discovered the wonders of podcasts-particularly video podcasts. Now I’m not new to the idea by any means, but it’s amazing how convenient and easy iTunes makes it to find and subscribe to podcasts. My only gripe is that I still end up having to use PSP video 9 to convert the video podcasts and rename them for copying to my PSP. I have requested renaming and moving functionality from the nice chap responsible for IA, but it’s a big change to his app, so I don’t expect to see it added any time soon, if at all. I wish I had the time to write my own PSP utility application.

Happy Easter everyone, and may the Good Lord’s blessings be upon you all at this amazing and special time!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

I Do..

Or at least 'I will'. As the Pastor said to us jokingly at our wedding rehearsal: 'Only the Americans do that "I Do" stuff'. On 25th March 2006 (at about 4:45pm) I joined the married men club. We had an absolutely awesome wedding, which everyone appeared to enjoy. We had loads of our friends and family with us on the day and both the ceremony and reception were fantastic. I have always felt that sincerity and happiness are far more important elements on a wedding day than the pomp and ceremony that seems to dominate so many these days, and the love and warmth was tangible in the air that day.. Thanks to everyone that made it, as well as those that offered their thoughts and kinds words-more than the flowers and music and pressies and everything, you lot are what made the day special for us. Here are a couple of pics from the day, courtesy of our good friends Gideon (aka SomeNoOne) and Roy:

Free Image Hosting at Free Image Hosting at

I'll get more images up when I have some, unfortunately you wait a while for the official photo's so I'll be depending on friends and family before we get those-which doesn't bother me since I prefer those impromptu shots anyway ;)
The honeymoon was also fantastic, we spent two weeks in Croatia touring the sights. I won't say too much about it here, I'll rather do a few followup posts with photos and stuff, I really couldn't do it justice in one post (besides, you'd get really bored). On the down side, my hopes of returning with an Xbox 360 were dashed, it turns out that Croatia is as neglected by MS in the console department as we are. I replaced my PSP at a slightly lower price than I would pay in SA though (and I'll be claiming the tax back as well, which should help). Strangely the PS2 games there were dirt cheap, but PSP games were at about the same price point as here, if not more.
So now Nats and I have moved into our new place as hubby and whiff, and are slowly discovering exactly what we're still missing in terms of household implements (such as a bread board..). We're still honeymoon happy, and I hope we'll stay that way, it will of course take a lot of effort on our parts-work is already starting to dictate our routines again and it's easy to fall into the trap of neglecting one another. To Nats: I love you grondboonjie! (don't ask)


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