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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Miracles do happen

Three working days. That’s all it has taken Telkom to activate my ADSL connection on my line. I could hardly believe it when they called me to let me know it was activated. Ok I didn’t believe it at all, I called Natz and got her to turn on the router and see if the ‘Internet’ light came on, and it did. So now I’ve ordered my ISP account from WebAfrica (what an awesome, awesome site they have, that is how simple things should be to do online), and tonight I should be connecting my 360 to Live from home-just to check connectivity of course :p


It seems all this scary price competition from MTN, Sentech and iBurst –each of whom made their broadband offerings more attractive in some way in the last two weeks- has lit a fire under the evil monopoly’s ass. They also now offer a free ‘modem’ (actually a four port router with a build in WiFi AP) with the self install option, saving those who self install a sum total of a little over a grand. Let’s hope they drop wholesale bandwidth prices sometime soon as well-then I might even be able to sign in to second life at home J

Monday, February 26, 2007

In game advertising

FlintBeikaSmallfryMobile1_004, originally uploaded by FlintZA.

While signed in to Second Life on Friday, I met a guy called Tenebrous Pau (in game that is) who is busy learning the SL creation tools, and makes himself custom T shirts as part of that. He agree do make a T with the smallfry logo and colours from the website, and here is the outstanding result.
Thanks to Tenebrous (sitting on the left) for the shirt, and the lovely Peyton Bailey (middle, leaning on the bar) who agreed to model with us. Behind her in the funky alien avatar, playing bartender is Brin Leigh. I have no idea who the guy is in the hat and scarf, he snuck into the photo ;)

(for better front and back views of the shirt, lick the link to my flickr page)

Thursday, February 22, 2007


FlintBeika, originally uploaded by FlintZA.

I don't know what it is about Second Life that fascinates em so much. Our lousy broadband here kind of prevents me from enjoying it fully, but I can't help be interested. I signed in again yesterday for the first time in ages, and took a different approach, finding some decent places that actually had new people willing to help and cat a bit. I really wish I could get into it properly.
Anyway, here is a shot of my in game avatar, Flint Beika. Despite the flexibility SL allows, I haven't gone for a very unusual look at all (except for the wings-I always wanted to have wings).

Monday, February 19, 2007


Our new game PlikPla is finally available! The files have actually been good to go for ages, but since OP wanted to wait a while to release in time for Easter (check the screenshot to the right, you’ll see why :) ), I dragged my feet about getting it up on ClickGamer as well. Anyway, we now have the demo and the full version available from them. This game is pretty much 100% Krusty’s doing, I did little more than help with the look and feel decisions and a few gameplay suggestions. Check out the links and try it!


In other news, I am about ready to throw my ‘360 controller at something or someone.. preferably causing major bodily harm in the process. I got the Gears of War collectors edition last year at the press launch as a freebie, and just before my 360 packed up and had to be swapped out, the disk started giving issues. It took me until January to take the thing in for resurfacing, after which I restarted the game on hardcore. Well, it turns out the problem is more serious than just some scratches that could be solved by resurfacing (which makes sense since I treat my disks like gold, and I just don’t understand how it could have become scratched). I have now reached a point in the game where I simply can’t progress because the 360 keeps complaining that the disk is unreadable. It really is frustrating since I so badly want to finish the game. Out of sheer desperation yesterday I gave up and decided to play some Perfect Dark instead-bad idea. PDZ was never the best looking 360 launch title, and after playing Gears of War it is simply horrendous by comparison, not just in the looks department, but in terms of sound, gameplay, voice acting, presentation, everything. Grrr. Freaking GRRRRRR!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Rebuilding All Projects..

Well it’s Monday, and I’m sitting here waiting for a massive solution to build after getting latest from Source(un)Safe for the first time in over a week (for fear of someone changing something that would break the build of my app that was working fine for client testing). Needless to say it’s quite a long wait, so I thought a blog post might be in order.


Please Mr. Google Man

The PortableApps obsession I mentioned last week led me to try SunBird for the first time. Sunbird is, in a way, the calendar equivalent of FireFox and ThunderBird in that it is the free and open source Mozilla answer to time management. Besides being able to locally manage your schedule and appointments, Sunbird allows you to subscribe to external calendar feeds in the iCal format. I thought this would be pretty nifty, since Google Calendars allows you to publish both your public and private calendar views as an iCal feed (among other formats). I was quite disappointed to discover that an iCal feed is exactly that-a one way feed. For me this limits the usability of Sunbird’s usability somewhat, as it’s all good and well to be able to use it to view my google calendar(s), but I can’t use it to add or edit events, so I still end up having to visit the website.

Now I realize that this is no fault of Sunbird’s authors, nor necessarily of the creators of the iCal format.. but I’d really like to see the ability to use the app as more than just a viewer for my online calendars. After doing a small amount of digging it seems that there is a bit of a hacky way to get this kind of behavior out of the latest version of Sunbird, but unfortunately the PortableApps version isn’t quite so recent, so for now it would appear I’m out of luck.


Whack that piñata

No, this isn’t another Viva Piñata obsessed rant.. ok so maybe it is a little. I had the interesting experience of playing Samurai Warriors 2 last week for review, and damn it makes the enemy AI in just about every other title in the long history of games look good. That includes the ghosts in Pac-Man and the slowly strafing spacecraft in Space Invaders-they at least managed to dodge your attacks on occasion by means of their slow sideways crawl. Except for the commander characters in SW2, the enemy AI (and for that matter,  the ally AI as well) is basically nonexistent. They pretty much just stand there and let you hit them over and over and over again. Hence the piñata reference-in fact I suspect a piñata might just give up more of a fight-and I’m not even talking about the animated ones created by Rare. The game is pretty damned ugly too. It would appear that it is a direct PS2 port though, so I’m not entirely surprised. EA and some of the other publishers have come under fire for some of their earlier games of this generation being cheap ports from the PS2 and Xbox with some shinier graphics and a few extra features (or even fewer features in some cases), however at least they bothered to add to the graphics. SW2 has, at best, some upgraded textures on the character models. It doesn’t even manage to look like a modern PS2 game.. it appears to be a few generations old. Very sad, and to top it all off, it plays about as well as it looks..

(yup, still building..)

Mind Quiz also doesn’t look like much, but it does the job considering it’s basically just a PSP IQ test. It’s actually quite fun in small doses (which is what it is intended for anyway) and daily Brain Age tests have quickly become a part of my and Natz’ routines.


Ok, the build is finally done, that’s it for today.. go on, nothing more to see here..

Monday, February 05, 2007

No more excuses..

They’re kind of pointless at this stage. Just be happy I’m posting, ok! I went past an old colleague of mine’s blog, and felt much better about mine-he hasn’t posted in months :)


I haven’t really been keeping an eye on much in the tech world lately, what with the fun and games (notice the dripping sarcasm) of project tests at work, so I don’t have much there. Then again, considering everyone who’s anyone in the tech world showed their wares a few weeks ago at CES, so there’s bound to be a short supply of news for the next month or so anyway.



In Xbox Land, I completed my review of Lost Planet this weekend, and the game certainly is worth checking out-even if the controls are horrible and the plot seems like it was thought up during a corporate drug testing session. The bosses in the game are amazing; they really feel like something out of a classic 2D game, dwarfing the main character and even the mechs that you use. It’s like someone watched too much Starship Troopers and (rightfully) determined that it was about time someone created a game with those bugs in it that didn’t totally suck.

I finally managed to get my Gears disk sorted out, so I’m playing that again as well (restarted on Hardcore though) and we played some awesome 6 player system link at a friend’s place last weekend. It really is incredible how much easier a 360 LAN is than a PC one-even with the game patches.

I also managed to get a lot of my old Xbox games traded in for some credit and bought copies of PGR and Kameo; and traded Star Trek Legacy for Table Tennis (which is an awesome game-even Natz is loving it). So right now I have way more games than I have time for-I need a sabbatical just to catch up!


Plug and Play

Some of us at work managed to organize USB sticks at a killer price, so we developed a renewed interest in stuff that could be used to fill the sticks up last week. In our search we uncovered, which hosts an open source launcher that runs a selection of apps straight from any portable drive. The format is pretty simple, so in no time at all we had some cool extras like our favorite calculators and sysinternals tools running off our new devices-along with some of the PortableApps standards like Miranda, Firefox and Open Office. Running apps straight off an external device really highlights how crappy it is to have to install things in Windows and have them infect multiple folders and your registry, helping in every way possible to retard overall system performance. With a couple of low level exceptions like your firewall, with PortableApps you could be running almost all of your day to day tools off your trusty thumb drive. Besides keeping your hard drive and start bar uncluttered, this saves you from having to reinstall all this stuff when the inevitable Windows reinstall comes along.


That’s it, short and sweet. I hope I’ll get back into routine again soon, but considering I have been hoping that for the past two months, I’m not betting on it :)


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