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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Drivenik, Licences and E3.

Wow! I can't believe how I've neglected my blog over the last two weeks! Well I suppose I'd better make it up with a worthwhile post ;) Today's post includes a honeymoon commentary (at last), a bit of a rant, and some geek stuff as well-a real bumper edition!

Honeymoon in Croatia: Another long drive, and Drivenik
Having had a bit of a fitful night's sleep (the room alternated between uncomfortably hot and bloody cold), we were less than enthusiastic about getting up. At least we had a nice big breakfast awaiting us downstairs (where we managed to get kak'd out for sitting at a 'non-breakfast table and had to move.. whoops). After taking our time with breakfast, we packed up our little car and hit the road again, heading more-or-less north towards Rijeka. Once again the highways were a pleasure, and we saw more amazing in-construction bridges and passed through a couple of tunnels, but for the most part the drive was uneventful. Natz cought up on some of the sleep she'd missed the night before, which left me to enjoy the sights (and the speed). A couple of kilmoeters before Rijeka we passed an offramp to Drivenik, and I seriously considered taking it to drop off our luggage, but the distance didn't seem to be much less than to Rijeka itself, so I rather gave it a skip.
Once we got into Rijeka we drove around a bit to get our bearings to see where we'd need to go. We parked in the public parking area just off the old center, and headed into the center to organize our bus tickets and find out where our car rental dropoff point was (having phoned them, and had very little luck other than to establish that they were still open). We stopped for a bite of McDonalds in the square (yummy!) and I headed over to a tourist info spot to find the info we needed.They sorted us out in no time, complete with marking directions on a map of the city, and we went off to book our tickets. From that point we had to rush a bit, since we had under an hour to drop off our car, get back to the bus station and catch our bus. The spiteful buggers at the car rental co wouldn't drop us off at the bus station, despite it being quite clear we had a lot of luggage to haul with us, so we had to hoof it. It's not far, just a mission with all that stuff.

There really wasn't much worth mentioning about the bus trip, except the guy with a cold sitting behind me and sneezing on my neck. Gross! We got off at Crikvenica, where Stanko and Ruza (family friends) were waiting to drive us to Drivenik. It's justa ten minute drive, so we were soon unpacking our stuff and sharing a bottle of wine (and MORE Napolitanke!) with them. We joined them at their place for a welcome supper, and to pick up our new transport-my grandfather's old Yugo. It's definitely not nearly as luxurious as the Citroen, and it guzzles fuel, but hey its a car. Back at the house, we set up for the night (no double bed.. just two singles to push together). Let me tell you, that house was COLD. Not as in 'put on a jersey' cold either. More like have two electric heaters running all night and scavage evry blanket you can find cold! Anyway, that was our first evening in Drivenik, and we were both exhausted so we were soon in dreamland.
The next day we went to church in the village church, which was lovely, but we obviously didn't understand a word of it ;) Afterwards, we were treated to a wonderful lunch at Stanko and Ruza's place which carried on far longer than expected (partially because with the language barruer we couldn't really figure out when it was appropriate to leave!), and from there we headed off to Crikvenica and spent a couple of hours walking on the beach and in the town-and enjoying some good old Croatian ice-cream. It may not sound like we did much that day, but the time certainly flew! That's it for this update-next time, Rijeka :)

Moan, groan, licence renewal time..
On Sunday I realised that my driver's licence would be expiring today, so I decided to go on Tuesday (yesterday) to have it renewed. My head was filled with images of having to redo the damned K53 test! I headed off to the Irene testing grounds early yesterday morning, getting there just before 8. I only realised when I got there that I had taken a REALLY roundabout route. When the doors opened, I requested a renewal form, and realised I'd left my ID book at home. I asked them if I needed my ID to complete the process, and they told me yes, so I had no choice but to head home and pick it up (taking the shorter route this time). When I got back in the queue and started filling out the form, one of the officials informed me that they were not yet equipped to do renewals.. surely something they could have told me when they gave me the damned form!? I asked where the nearest place to get it done was and they directed me to the Midrand testing grounds. Now, while the Irene grounds seemed organised and neat, Midrand is a joke! It takes up two buildings across the road from each other. Enquiries is in the one, and sent me to the other to get my eyes tested and fingerprints taken, I then had to return to the first building and wait in a 40-minute queue to pay, after which I was again sent across the road to sign and fingerprint the form. Now could this not all be done by one individual in one place? Bloody rediculous system they have there.
I thought about it on the way to work (by then it was already 11:15! And all the tasks done there could be done with a single hi-tech kiosk:
-fill in details
-scan barcoded ID
-read fingerprints
-take photos
-test eyesight
One of these kiosks would initially cost quite a bit, but would pay for themselves in six months. Put three or four in each licence department, and everything could be done in 10 minutes! And if that's what I came up with on a 25 minute drive, what great solutions could a room full of gearheads dream up in a day?

E3 Baby!!
It's that time of year again, time for the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), arguably the biggest videogame event of the year. This year's Expo (the 11th) has been highly anticipated due to the many questions still surrounding Sony's PS3 and the Nintendo Wii (and of course because we all want to see what Microsoft has in store). The Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft conferences are now over, and there have certainly been some interesting results. For one the Release date and pricing details of the PS3 are now public-the system will come in two flavours retailing at $499 and $599 respectively-$200 more than the equivalent Xbox 360 configurations! The system will hit all major territories in November of this year. The widely despised 'boomerang' controller design showed at last year's E3 has been dropped, and the new system's controller will now look much like the PS2's dual shock controller, with the L2 and R2 buttons moved and reshaped to be more like triggers (this is interesting considering the 360 controller has removed the black and white face buttons and replaced them with dualshock like shoulder buttons, compared with the original Xbox S controller). The controller will also include motion sensing capabilies similar in some ways to the Wii controller, but to accomodate this behavior rumble has been dropped. Overall it seems that Sony has failed to impress, and it will be interesting to see if they hit their target of 6 million units sold by the end of March 2007, I suspect there are enough early adopters in the US alone that will be prepared to pay that price, so I suspect they will.
Nintendo's conference was apparently a lot more colourful and interesting and seemed to focus on how the Wii controller would be used in games. No major news was released regarding pricing and release dates, but a fairly long list of games was announced for the system. In retrospect, I think they should have kept the motion sensitive nature of the Wii controller for this year's E3, as I am more than a little suspicious that Sony's motion sensing controller was only in response to this feature in the Wii. One wonders where this leaves Microsoft in the 'controller wars'.
Which brings us to the MS conference. Since their machine has already been on store shelves for six months, there wasn't really much mystery surrounding it. Their focus this year was on the HD-DVD addon (which I am not too interested in to be honest), new software for the 360 and the introduction of a 'Live Anywhere' system which would bring versions of the much-applauded Xbox live community functionality to players on the PC and on mobiles. In software terms, Halo 3 made an appearance (as was expected by many) and it turns out that Sony has lost it's early launch for GTA games, with GTA4 appearing simultaneously on the 360 and PS3 next year.
All in all, I can't say it's turned out to be the most exciting E3, I suppose because the major players already bared their big cards last year. I'm particularly underwhelmed by what Sony's got on offer-at this stage it looks as if the X360 will still be my first console, and the Wii may follow as my second sometime down the line.


Andre Odendaal said...

Do you know if there are any Wii demo video laying around? The best I could get was the animated movie of the Wii letters playing tennis (hardly a demo)!

Flint said...

There's a composite here of people playing with the controller and various game shots. It's more of an ad than anything else, but it gives an idea of what we can expect..

Justin Paver said...

[quote]Natz cought up on some of the sleep she'd missed the night before,[/quote]

You sly dog you!

Flint said...

Gaaargh! I knew someone would say something about that.
Like I said, neither of us slept well because of the damned room that alternated between furnace heat and ice cold. Not that I need to defend anything, it was a honeymoon after all.. you think we sat and played card games in our room every night? :p


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