Friday, May 27, 2011

R18 games - vote... again

Australia still lacks an R18 classifications for games--it's pathetic.

But the government is running another survey to get public opinion. If you are an Australian please vote for your preference.

Naturally I'm hoping everyone will vote to support R18. I don't want to be treated like a criminal when I import games like Mortal Kombat.

I voted for R18 but against the proposed guidelines.

I felt that sex as a reward should be suitable for M15+, rather being restricted to R18. Why must sex be treated as such a taboo.

I also feel that drug use as a reward should be acceptable in both R18 and M15+ when in context and it clearly does not promote illegal activities. For example, Fallout 3 should not have been refused classification for refering to it's health packs as 'morphine'.

Read the draft guidelines.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Assassin’s Creed II – A tourists guide to Venice

In a few weeks time I’m going to be in Venice, Italy, where I’ll be staying just a couple of blocks down from Basilica di San Marco.  I’m already geeking-out as I pan around the city in Google Maps, because I know these streets and landmarks like the back of my hand—thanks to Assassin’s Creed II.  I can’t imagine how tempting it will be to climb buildings and jump across rooftop once I arrive there.

If it wasn’t for Assassin’s Creed II, I wouldn’t know anything about the sites in Venice.  I think that’s a credit to games and how they can be educational, even if they weren’t trying to be.  I now have a passionate interest in seeing key sites whilst I’m there.  I may play through the game again to brush up my knowledge and plan some activities.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A non-perverted use for private browsing

Opera (my browser of choice) only recently introduced a “private” browsing feature.  For if you don’t know, private browsing allows you to browse websites without leaving evidence of it on the PC.  Firefox and Chrome have had this for a while.

Opera justifies the feature by using the example of being able to plan a surprise vacation without your other half knowing.  But we all know it’s probably not vacation sites your trying to stop you partner finding out you’ve been looking at.

Having said, private browsing does allow you to do things you couldn’t do before with a browser—namely log into the same website with two different accounts at the same time.

I frequently use private browsing to access a different Gmail account without logging out of my usual one.  Also, for my work, I have to access content via HTTP Auth with many different accounts, and the authenticated session lasts until you close the browser.  Whilst previously I would have to use multiple different browsers, now I can open multiple private tabs to access the same HTTP Authenticated resource with different accounts.

So now you don’t need to feel so guilty about appreciating private browsing—there is a non-perverted purpose for it :)

Friday, May 21, 2010

My new favourite colour scheme chooser

I now have a new favourite colour scheme chooser - Color Scheme Designer

I don’t remember which tool used before this one, but I do know Color Scheme Designer is an improvement.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Questionably Journalism by ABC’s Hungry Beast

Hungry Beast is a TV programme that jumps between journalism and parodies of journalism.  I watched a few episodes last season and found it to be relatively informative.  I hoped it would be confronting and challenging.

Last weeks they aired the first episode for the season with stories about the proposed mandatory Internet filter for Australia.  They surveyed 1000 “demographically balanced” Australians to find out what their opinion was on this matter.

They said some of the results might surprise you, and the first one did surprise me.  They said 80% of people were in favour of automatically blocking material that has been refused classification in Australia.

What they revealed on the website, but not in the programme was that material that is defined as “refused classifications” was:

  • child sexual abuse
  • bestiality
  • sexual violence
  • gratuitous, exploitative or offensive sexual fetishes; and
  • detailed instructions on or promotion of crime, violence or use of illegal drugs

Throw that list at me over the phone and I would have said, “absolutely, yes.  Keep this out of the country,” before actually thinking about what they mean.  Whilst the first three items are illegal, the last two are not illegal.  I wonder how many of the surveyed understood this.

To clarify the latter point on refusing classification on crime, I quote Aasher Moses from the Sydney Morning Herald:

But the RC classification extends further to more controversial content such as information on euthanasia, material about safer drug use and material on how to commit more minor crimes such as painting graffiti.

If this information cannot be accessed, then it cannot be debated.  (Strangely enough, you can walk into any government founded youth center in Australia and find printed material on how to take drugs safely.)

As for fetishes, you can do it but you can’t view it!?  Crazy!

But most frustrating was the extended interview Dan Ilic had with Senator Conroy available on their website.  Dan raised all the appropriate issues and challenged none of the responses.  Conroy laughed and played dumb about how small breasted (and therefore young appearing) girls would be banned.  He accused the EFF of scare-mongering.  He admitted the filter was easily circumvented but suggested it was ok, because people still speed and underagers still buy alcohol despite the laws—no challenge.  I’m pretty sure, preventing alcohol purchases from minors does not cost the Australian tax payers $125.8 million.

My point in the end is that I thought Hungry Beast would be a reputable resource for information.  I’m not bothered if the facts differ to what I believe, but I am bothered when they don’t present the facts clearly and do not challenge our leaders.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

How I found Stargazer Demoscene

Stargazer Browsing on the Playstation 3 store I see a software named Linger in Shadows.  I downloaded the video and didn’t see game but a rather neat visual experience.

There were no reviews for Linger in Shadows on IGN, so I wiki searched it to find what it was.  It’s  a Demoscene.  I don’t know what a Demoscene is.  The wiki page lead me to lead me to Scene Awards which lead me to the Stargazer download.

Now I know what a Demoscene is, and Stargazer is pretty sweet and I recommend you download it.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Checklist for an iPod killer

I don’t want an iPod, but unfortunately most other portable music players don’t offer the right features to properly compete with it.  I am currently still using a 4th generation iPod brick, but it runs the RockBox firmware, which makes it hard to replace because RockBox makes it a much better device.

So here’s my checklist of features a portable music player requires to satisfy me.

More screen than controls
The iPod Touch is a clear winner here where it’s all screen for viewing videos, but I would also accept the Creative Zen X-Fi.  The iPod Classic is an example of too much controls and too little screen. 
Support for Open formats
The device should support both OGG and FLAC.  There is no licensing fees for these formats, OGG is superior to MP3, and OGG is now a much more relevant format with Mozilla and Opera supporting it in their web browsers.
Minimum 32GB storage
My entire CD collection takes up over 20GB of space.  To adopt a device that also plays videos will require much more space if I don’t want to swap and change videos on daily basis.  Preferably, it would include an SDHC slot so I could load videos separately.
No lock-in to proprietary software.
This is an epic fail for the iPod.  I don’t want to have to use iTunes to manage my portable music player.  Other software can do it better, if it wasn’t for Apple making it intentionally problematic to do so.  Apple wants you locked into iTunes because they want your money—they’re not doing you a favour.
Digital Radio
This is probably a little too hopeful since I don’t think there’s a single player that supports this.  The Zune HD (not available in Australia) support HD Radio, which is better than normal radio.
Support for advanced tagging
Tagging offers a really powerful database of information for your music and ID3v2 has had support everything you could think of.  And yet most players stop at support for album/artist/track.
  • It should understand the difference between album artists and track artists
  • It should understand that two albums with the same name are not the same album if the album artist differs.
  • It should store track ratings in the track rating tag so ratings are available to other software and devices.
  • It should support multiple artist tags per track so Cypress Hill & Pearl Jam’s “Real Thing” appears for each artist.
  • It should understand disc numbers so we don’t need to change the album name to include which disc it is.
  • It should support multiple genres per track.  Most tracks or albums do not fit just one genre.  Organising your collection with just one genre makes it very fragmented and unlikely to be useful.
Add tracks to playlists as listening
Something I like about RockBox is that I can put my entire iPod on random and as I listen to a song, I can add it to various playlists.  It would be nice if you could correct track genres as I’m listening also.
Crossfeed audio
Crossfeed is the process of blending the left and right channels of stereo audio to simulate a more natural listening experience.  For example sound coming from the left will only be heard by the left ear with headphones, but when listening in an open room with speakers you hear it with both ears.  Crossfeed simulates open room listening and is a feature of RockBox I really like.

So are there any contenders?  Yes. 

Creative Zen X-Fi come very close.  Their X-Fi technology sounds like the crossfeeding I desire.  They come with 32GB of storage and include an SD expansion slot.  The Zen X-Fi has support for FLAC, but not OGG, and whilst I like FLAC, I really do need to use lossy compression.

The Samsung P3 sounds very good.  It’s 32GB but doesn’t include a memory expansion slot, so I may be constantly connecting the device to swap videos.  But it does support OGG and it’s DNSe 3.0 feature may be a form of crossfeeding.  It can also connect to your mobile phone via bluetooth.

And then there’s the Cowon S9, which could be the one.  It’s reputation for audio quality is above all others.  It’s BBE sound feature is superior to the Samsungs DNSe 3.0 and Creatives X-Fi.  It doesn’t include memory expansion, so again I may need to swap videos often.  It’s supports OGG and FLAC and even APE audio formats.  And it has a 3.3 inch sexy OLED screen.

The S9 and P3 prices are comparable to the iPod Touch, whilst the Zen X-Fi is almost half the price since it has a smaller, non-touch screen.  But screen size isn’t such a concern for me, so long as it’s still practical.  And I’m not yet informed on how well they all handle tagging.  I’ll be heading to the forums at Anything But iPod to get that information.