Jun 17, 2013
Jun 17, 2013
The designs are essentially the same for North America and Europe, aside from the local ratings boxes. Which one do you intend to pick up — Pokémon ElkSwag or Pokémon Come At Me Bro?
Cannot wait for Pokémon X and Y. Thinking I’ll skip Black/White and go straight to X and Y (also, the first time the name of a Pokémon game hasn’t been based on a colour).
And yeah, totally getting Pokémon ElkSwag.
Jun 16, 2013
Alternate title: I think I would have made a good Arts student. Maybe not a great one, but at least a good one.
It all started when I realised that there weren’t enough Computing units this year for me to do that I hadn’t already done, or didn’t have the prerequisites for, or just plain wasn’t eligible for, in order for me to graduate this semester. A quick email to my degree coordinator revealed that I was allowed to do units outside the School of Computing and Information Systems, and that was that: I started looking for something a little different, something that I would actually enjoy.
And truth be told, I’m interested in a lot of things, but wouldn’t necessarily want to do a course at Uni on them. Take statistics, for example: I like knowing how statistics are derived and an intrigued by the whole numbers side of things, but from what I’ve heard, statistics at Uni is more of a mathematical nightmare than it is “fun stuff to do with numbers”. With that in mind, it was basically a toss up between some photography-based unit, and some writing-based one.
Photography would have been cool. I’ve been wanting to get into the whole darkroom development side of photography, and I’d like some kind of formal training rather than just reading PetaPixel posts on how to be a better photographer. Then I read something in the unit outline which said that you needed to do a certain number of hours of photography per week, and that kind of turned me off. Reason being, most, if not all, of my photography is done for my own enjoyment, not so I can impress someone else with my compositional technique. Forcing myself to get out there and shoot might have turned me off photography altogether, and I’m a little scared by the prospect of someone else critiquing my work, as much as I might want them to.
With photography out of the picture (so to speak), I looked towards a writing-based subject. Of those, it was a choice between some journalism based unit or a writing-one — not having the prerequisites for a more advanced unit, I chose English 1A for two reasons. One, I thought I’d be able to get feedback on my writing process, and two, it would be something a little different. Plus, I thought I’d be able to get decent enough grades without really having to try. Sue me for being lazy.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect going in, but honestly, it all turned out pretty great. I always looked forward to the tutorials, even if they were at the end of a long Monday of other classes, and even though I couldn’t go to lectures due it a clash with another subject, I was there in spirit whenever I listened to the recorded lectures at home. But that wasn’t the same as the real thing, as I soon discovered…
About two-thirds through the semester, I realised that it was probably time to start blowing off the other class (which wasn’t really worth going to anyway, seeing as all the material was given to us online), and start going to English lectures. Starting around week 9 of the 13 weeks in a semester, I went to my first ever English lecture, and just like the tutorials, they were an entirely different experience than the Computing lectures I was used to.
I mean, they still had someone who delivered the lectures, obviously, and they still used PowerPoint presentations, but the kind of lecture delivered was so much different. There was interaction! The lecturer asked people questions to do with their opinion on certain ideas, certain aspects of whichever text we were studying at the time — something that is pretty much unheard of in Computing lectures. The atmosphere of an English lecture was just so different — people seemed more engaged, attendance always seemed great (although this was a first-year Arts unit, so not entirely unexpected), and yeah, there were heaps of cute girls. Again, not entirely unexpected — although welcome — for a first year Arts unit.
Jun 14, 2013
Don’t you hate it when you can’t remember the name of something? Of course you do. Everyone does.
I’ve been looking for the name of a book for a number of years now. Every now and again, I Google a few things about a plot in the vain hope that I’ll be able to find something that will point me in the right direction, but because I can’t remember anything specific such as names of characters or places, or anything that would lead me to a title or ISBN, I don’t ever find anything.
Still, I Google.
What’s even more frustrating is that even though I can describe the plot is great detail, everywhere I’ve asked hasn’t been able to name the book that I’m talking about.
I don’t really care about the book itself. Even if I did find the title I probably wouldn’t be able to buy a copy. The only physical copy that I did read was probably destroyed, or exists in a place I no longer have access to. But still, it grates that I can remember everything about the plot, but nothing about the actual book.
I’ve included a detailed plot description of the book below. If you’ve read the book, recognise the plot, and remember the title, get in touch.
Jun 12, 2013
I had an exam so I couldn’t really get up to watch the keynote, but I did watch it earlier today. Since I didn’t get to live-tweet it with a few of my best buddies, I put together a few random thoughts — there’s a great summary of the event over at MacTalk, written by Rémy Numa, but this just what I came up with while watched the keynote earlier today. In somewhat chronological order, but still mostly just Things I Would Have Tweeted If I Was Watching It Live…
May 23, 2013
I am all kinds of confused and conflicted about my photography right now.
I’ve long since reached the point where I have to go out and force myself to finish rolls of film just so I don’t have half-finished rolls of film sitting in my camera. Not only that, but somewhere along the line, I lost the ability to tell which of my photos are good anymore, and which ones are bad.
It’s gotten to the point where no photo I take with my rangefinder is bad. Literally, none. They might not be “perfect” examples of photography, but every photo that comes out of my Bessa these days is good, perhaps even great, and the worst thing is, I’m not sure if that’s me, or if it’s just the camera that’s doing all the work.
When I first started out with my Bessa, I really had no idea what I was doing. My first rolls were nothing short of sloppy — missed focus, totally-off exposures, you name it. But over time I’ve learnt the ins-and-outs of shooting with a rangefinder, and in particular, the ins-and-outs of taking photos with the combination of lens and film that I have. I’ve probably done upwards of twenty rolls of the same film now, and it’s getting to the point where I’m not sure if I’m improving, or if I’m just getting so comfortable that it means even the most average shots turn out to be pretty decent. There’s far less out of focus shots and far less wacky exposures, but again — is that because I’ve gotten better at photography, or just because the camera, lens, and film combination I’m used to shooting with do all the hard work for me?
I like shooting film, I really do. It’s just that I’ve reached the stage where I can’t find fault with my own work. The colours are taken care of for me thanks to the brilliance of Ektar 100, and the camera and lens pretty much takes care of the rest. Even the most mundane photos that show now photographic spark turn out to be good, if not great, all thanks to film and camera.
So I’ve been asking myself: if I can’t find anything wrong with my photography, is it actually all that good? It’s like that question of when someone takes a photo of a particularly photogenic subject: is the resulting image a good photo because the photographer is a master of composition, lighting, and has the vision to see his creativity realised in picture format, or is it a good photo because the model is particularly beautiful? I mean, even an average photo of a pretty girl is still going to turn out pretty well, but where’s the line? What defines a good photo from a bad one?
In my case, do I think my photos are good because I’ve consistently improved at taking the kinds of images I do, or is it just that I’m getting lazy with my composition and subjects, not challenging myself enough or pushing the boundaries of what I take photos of, therefore taking these “safe” images that aren’t particularly great, but always turn out to be at least good?
I think what I really need is someone to look at my photos and say: “they’re shit”. I’d even accept “you’re shit”, if it means I have to throw things out and start from scratch. Because as much as that would hurt my feelings in the short-term, I know it’d make me a better photographer, long term.
Or at least, that’s what I’d hope would happen. In reality, I’d probably just stop taking photos for a while.
But if that’s what it takes, then that’s what it takes.
May 14, 2013
Chris Hadfield is an amazing human being.
May 5, 2013
Alternative title: “that’s not what she said!”
I’ve been thinking about buying a 3DS XL for Fire Emblem Awakening, but Nintendo’s decision to region lock their hardware is making it harder than it should be.
In an ideal world, I’d be able to walk in to any good gaming retailer in Australia, pick up a 3DS, and be on my merry way. And in theory, I can totally do that — provided I’m happy with missing out on a massive (okay, decent) selection of games.
Thanks to a combination of region locked 3DS hardware, strange decisions by publishers, and the very nature of a Japan-centric games company, if I buy an Australian 3DS it means I might not ever get to play titles that are released in the US. That’s crazy.
To be fair, this has always been an issue for Nintendo. I completely understand when games are released for the Japanese market that aren’t available in other regions, as much as I want to play the latest Phoenix Wright or Professor Layton title at the same time Japanese folks get to. I get that titles need to be localised for non-Asian markets, voices need to be re-done, etc. But when titles suffer lengthy delays or aren’t released for other markets outside the US, then that’s when I start to take notice and get angry. Fire Emblem, for example, was released in the US back in February. Europe and Australia, however, didn’t get it until late April — why? What possible reason could the publishers have to delay a title that was already localised for English markets an entire two months after the US release?
No possible reason that makes any kind of sense.
I already own a PS Vita, and for the record, Sony does a lot better on the region locking front for the simple reason that the console and its games aren’t region locked. At all. The US and Australian PlayStation Stores are different regions as you might expect, but I’m no stranger to that — the iTunes Store is exactly the same. If you buy a Vita, you can set it up with the US PSN store pretty easily, and your console will buy and download games no problems. Switching between the two stores can be done, but doing so frequently isn’t practical as it involves a device reset every time. In the year or so I’ve owned a Vita, I’ve never wanted to switch to the Australian PSN, and I can’t see this changing anytime sooner — the game selection on the US PSN is far superior to the titles offered on the Australian PSN, games are released earlier, and they’re usually cheaper, too.
If I want to access a larger selection of games and games released months earlier (and, not to mention, cheaper), then it seems the obvious solution is to import a 3DS XL from the US, right?
Nintendo, in their infinite wisdom, also region-lock their games. A US Vita can play Australian-bought games just fine, but a US 3DS will only be able to play games bought from the US. No problem, I can just download them directly from the eShop and call it a day, right? Wrong — I don’t know whether it’s a publisher thing or just a Nintendo one, but for some crazy, insane reason, about half of 3DS titles sold at retail can’t be bought from the eShop. Again, don’t ask me why, because I just don’t know.
In contrast, the PSN offers a much wider selection of games than are offered at retail: not only Vita-exclusive titles, but also PSP ones, PS One classics, “minis”, and the best thing about it is that every title released at retail is available for direct download on the PSN. Like it should be.
So if I do buy a 3DS from the US, here’s how it stands. I won’t be able to buy local titles. No big loss, but it does kill off that instant-gratification factor that comes with buying from a brick-and-mortar. Any game I do want to buy which can’t be bought from the eShop (about half of all the titles available), I’ll have to import from the US — although given the lead times for Australian games so far, any delays in getting the game due to shipping will still mean I get the game before it’s released locally.
My point in all this is that it shouldn’t be this hard. The Vita and its games aren’t region locked in any way, and that’s a massive plus in my book. Anything else is making it harder than it really should be.
Now, if only Amazon had the colour 3DS XL that I want in stock, and if only they would ship it to Australia. But that’s a tale for another time.
May 3, 2013
I’m pretty sick of complete noobs trying to do Gold and Platinum difficulty in Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer and failing on early waves, so I thought I’d write a short guide on a few general tips and strategies. In no particular order…
Be at least level 18 for Gold, level 20 for Platinum. Anything else and you’re asking for a bad time. You might not think too much of those extra points, but those tier 6 evolutions of your powers can make all the difference in the world.
For crying out loud, take gear and equipment. At the very least, take gear — that’s the square in the bottom right corner of the equipment screen, for those who have never done so (also, shame on you). Gear isn’t a consumable, so it lasts for more than just one game.
When you’re taking gear, take gear that will help out your character. If your character is a biotic/heavy pistol person, then take the Commando Package. If you’re a Krogan Warlord and like doing damage with melee and shotguns, take the Beserker Package. You’d think some of this stuff is common sense, but you’d be surprised…
Equipment is also a must. You can get by without it, but you can do some pretty cool things with ammo and weapon bonuses, such as Warp ammo for increased Biotic damage on targets, or setting up biotic/tech combos with Disruptor ammo and Tech Burst, or Warp Ammo and Warp. Again, take ammo and weapon bonuses that complement your character.
The extra damage that some ammo bonuses applies helps out more than you’d think — 35% more damage is about twice as much damage as a maxed passive skill tree can afford you in terms of weapon damage, for example.
Don’t waste your Medkits in the heat of battle. Mash that spacebar until the little line is almost gone, then use the Medkit — and only if the situation calls for it. I wouldn’t use a Medkit on Wave 1-5, because if you’ve flatlined and no-one revives you on those earlier waves, chances are you won’t make it to the later waves anyway. Might as well save that Medkit for when you actually need it.
Medkits are best used in a last-gasp, I’m-the-last-man-standing-and-it’s-the-last-enemy-on-wave-10 situtaions, where the difference between using a Medkit and not using the Medkit is winning the round, and not winning the round. If there’s no immediate danger around you, you might as well sit out that little countdown until your knight in shining armour comes to rescue you, or you bleed out.
There’s no dishonour in bleeding out, either — if it’s a particularly early wave, you really have nothing to lose (unless you’re carrying the team, which is a different kettle of fish).
Similarly, use those Cobra Missiles properly. Look, I hate Phantoms as much as you do, and as tempting as it is to pull out your launcher and blast that Phantom back to the depths of hell from whence it came… don’t. But two Phantoms? Maybe. Three Phantoms or more, though, and you’ll have to get in line. Try not to waste those missiles on a single enemy of any kind — like Medkits, they’re best used in a oh-crap-everyone-is-down-right-next-to-me-and-there’s-two-Brutes-here-with-two-Banshees-on-the-way kind of a situation. In those kinds of cases, go nuts.
Oh, and it’s generally a good idea to aim your missiles at the ground. Many a person has been mocked in-game because their woefully-aimed Missile missed the group of three Banshees and sailed clear off the map — get close, aim your Missile at the ground, and watch those suckers drop. The splash damage on the Missile is around 3-4m, and anything within a 2 meter radius is dead, so there’s no reason you shouldn’t be aiming at the ground — long range missile launchers? Generally a bad idea for the same reason that you might miss (unless you’re planning for the missile to hit a wall or something, but the invisible walls and whatnot might put a spanner in that particular plan).
That’s pretty much it. Your own gear/loadouts/characters will determine how effective these few tips are, but they should work for pretty much everyone. If you don’t have any Medkits or Missiles, then what I like to do with the Store is save up all my credits until I’m done playing for the night/day/whatever, then buy all the 99000 credit packs I want, leaving the last set of 99,000 credits for three Jumbo Equipment Packs, which replenishes my stores of Cobras/Medkits as well as ammo/weapon bonuses.
May 2, 2013
Wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t feel pressured to take photos all the time? Because digital is cheap, it means we have this idea that we have to capture everything. It’s terrible if you even have the smallest of compulsive tendencies, because you’re probably taking photos of the most random things possible in your never-ending quest to document anything and everything.
I’ve felt this pressure myself, too. I’ve often found myself saying: “hey, this costs you nothing and means you can remember every detail of this moment every time you look at this photo in the future” on more than one occasion, and you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that. As humans our memories aren’t perfect, so if we need a little help remembering our kids’ first steps, or that time when bird poo landed spontaneously on our friend, or that time we saw our friend at that place, what’s the harm in taking a photo to remember the occasion?
Enter film photography, stage left.
Paul Miller returned to the internet yesterday after a year of no internet, and a lot of what he talked about was how the internet has trained us to give us that instant hit. Click a link, get a webpage. Google something, become enlightened. Hit a keyboard shortcut, send a tweet. Of course, a lot of other stuff happens behind the scenes to make those things happen, but this instantaneous feedback loop that the internet provides is something we should be more cautious of, in my opinion. I mean, It’s probably why people get burnt out more than they used to — in fact, it’s probably why burn out is a even a thing. No-one got burnt out before the 20th century, and you know why? Because they didn’t have the internet. They didn’t have the internet to give them that instant information hit they so badly craved.
Film photography is kind of like that. Not like the world without the internet or anything, but a world where photography teaches you patience. You’re not crimping every shot to see if the lighting was right, to see if the focus was okay, or because you didn’t expose to the right. You’re not re-taking shots because you didn’t like the direction the wind was blowing, or because a car got in the way of that building. Well, maybe you are — but you’re not doing it over and over again, just so you can make sure at least one of your shots is useable. You’re not firing off bursts of shots just to make sure you get that one shot that you can actually use.
And when it does come time to finish off a roll of film, you’re waiting for the development process. If you develop your own film, I tip my hat to you; I don’t think I could without going insane waiting for all the various steps. I’d much rather just give it to someone else to handle, forget about it for a day or two, then come back and grab the processed film and the scans, which I can then just load into my computer.
No mess, no fuss.
It seems that a good 85% of my photography these days is film. In a world where digital SLRs can shoot crazy numbers of frames per second (seriously, have you heard the burst rate on the 1Dx?), it’s even crazier that at times, 36 frames is too many. Having to shoot random frames to finish off a roll of film that I’m itching to be developed isn’t exactly uncommon. I’m not sure whether this is poor planning on my part or just a reality of film photography, but I do it all the time.
I find it nothing short of weird that 36 frames is at the same time too many frames, and yet, not enough.
Too many frames because film teaches you this idea that every frame counts. You only have so many shots before you have to reload your camera with another roll of film, so you make every one count. But then you finish shooting whatever you’re taking photos of, and what happens? You’ve still got a handful of shots remaining on the roll. So what do you do? Do you shoot a few fun ones just to finish it off, or do you wait until you actually have something worth taking photos of? Because I’m impatient and have more rolls of film stockpiled than I know what to do with, I usually opt for the latter. Being able to see my eagerly-taken photos is also a plus.
But at the same time, 36 frames are not enough. It’s nothing compared to any recent-ish DSLR. My 60D, for example, can do 5.3fps quite happily — whereas I can probably manage perhaps one frame a second on my manually-advanced film rangefinder. Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand where a high burst rate comes in handy. Sports photography, for example, or if you’re an amateur like me and want to make sure that you’ll get at least one photo worth using, and the more shots you take, the larger chance that has of happening. And if you happen to capture more than one frame that is usable, well, what’s the big deal? Digital is cheap, remember?
Revolvers are described as six shooters. Film rangefinders, then, are thirty-six shooters.
May 1, 2013
Wow. Wow, wow, wow.