Thursday, 9 December 2010

Black Ops... disappointing

Call of Duty: Black Ops, a disappointment. One game I've actually been quite looking forward to playing was Black Ops. The predecessor; Modern Warfare 2, was an awesome experience from start to finish. Single player, multiplayer and co-op play where hugely polished. I guess this was a big ask for another developer to follow up and create another game on the same level.

The Bad
In general Black Ops has been a very buggy and poor experience. The single player story doesn't make any sense from start to finish, it's incoherent and actually discouraged me from playing the game. 
Once you're in the game it doesn't really get any better. With the friendly AI randomly running off where they hell they like and without the enemy AI even firing a shot at them. Then you follow them thinking its safe to do so and get shot square in the head by an enemy standing next to (and ignoring) the friendlies.
I played the game to the end hoping upon hope that it would get better and the story would finally make sense. It didn't.

The Zombies mode is fun, but after a couple of hours play gets a bit boring. It doesn't help that there are only 2 maps to play. Lets face it though, if one wants to play a zombie game then I recommend playing Left 4 Dead.

The Good
Black Ops has a great little feature where you can break out of the chair and jump on a UNIX terminal. Here you can unlock goodies, the best of which being Dead Ops Arcade. A fun arcade top down style zombie shooter with powerups etc. Great fun and can be played with up to four co-op players.

The multiplayer is really good, especially with a group of good friends and a beer. They've taken it straight out of MW2 and tweaked it a bit. They've changed the way you gain new weapons, making you buy weapons and gadgets rather than getting them as you level up. This gives you a bit more freedom to what you get. You can then gain extra cash through contracts with objectives to attain. Overall an enjoyable experience. 
The problem for me is, I get bored too easy with the small maps and once my friends go off the boil playing it... which they have now.

So back to Bad Company 2 for me! Vietnam DLC arriving at the end of the month :D

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Acer Revo 3610

I've been thinking about getting a small low power PC to run as a home server for a while. At the weekend I decided to bite the bullet and spend £200 on an Acer Revo 3610. It has an Intel Atom 330 processor, 2GB of RAM and a 160GB hard disk. Consuming 65 watts of power, it's exactly what I've been looking for. The cost of the device seems to have been kept down by the fact it is pre-installed with Linpus linux.

So the Revo arrived on Monday. It's a small box that comes with an upright stand or it can be attached to the back of a monitor. There are six USB ports, an eSATA port, a SD card reader, on board wifi, ethernet and video out is covered by VGA and HDMI. The Linpus linux pre-installed on the box was a total waste of space, I gave it about 10 minutes before I had to remove it and install Ubuntu. It really begs the question as to why they decided on this distro over Ubuntu. Ubuntu is clearly much, much better.

Anyhow, Ubuntu is now loaded and running very nicely. I've attached the box to my TV via the HDMI socket and have sound and video working perfectly. I'm running the box as a home server, so right now it hosts an FTP server and a Ventrilo server. For the future I'm planning on setting up a ZNC IRC bouncer and perhaps a web server.

The other thing I'd been planning to use the box for, was as a media centre. After some researching on Monday I found Boxee. Boxee is a media centre that streams online content and internet radio. It is also able to view pictures and play music and videos that are already on the hard disk. The user interface is visually appealing and it's easy to navigate. There seems to be tons of TV shows and movies to watch, as well as stand alone applications such as iPlayer and YouTube.

I had Boxee fully setup Tuesday night, connected to the TV and streaming well. The next issue for me was controlling the interface. My wireless mouse cuts out from the other side of the room and I really don't want to be using a keyboard to control it. Today I did some searching and soon found that on the Android Market, there is a Boxee remote control app, sorted. The app does what it says on the tin and navigates flawlessly over wifi.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

DTM 2010 Brands Hatch

Gro & Kie reviewing photos on iPad
Made my first ever trip to Brands Hatch last weekend to watch the DTM. I'd been planning to go for weeks and I was to meet Gro there as he was going as well. On Firday we both asked Kie to join us for a day out to all meet up for once rather than just sitting in IRC. After a bit of deliberation and a few "I didn't know you were going" stories, Kie eventually caved in and decided to join us. So I managed to grab a ride down to Kent with Kie, getting up at silly'o'clock™ (5:30am) in the process. We met Gro and his mate Nick there at 8:30am. Gro and Nick had set off at 2am to get down to Brands, the silly northerners.

It was a great day out in all fairness, even better than what I had hoped for. The DTM touring cars are mean beasts to say the very least, kicking out a roaring 470bhp from their fire spitting V8's. The sound of them coming down paddock hill corner on the first lap of the race was absolutely immense. They are not too far off F1 for noise in my opinion. Nearly 100 laps of the Brands Hatch Indy circuit was quite something. It's a great track to spectate at, as you can see a lot of track from most areas. Overall it was a good race, with Paul Di Resta winning and managing to pull out 0.5 sec per lap lead from the start. Coulthard managed to jump start which put him pretty much last after he served his drive through penalty. I thought he had a really competitive pace and was much better than the 12th position he ended the race in. Got to see a bit of carnage too as Susie Stoddart went into the back of Ekström on the second lap, putting them both out of the race. I managed to get a few pictures of the crash too!


I took some good photos while I was there, over 800 snaps in total. A fair chunk were a little out of focus, but there are some gems in there. I've just started sorting all of the good ones and cropping them down, gonna take ages though. I'm uploading all of the good photos to Picasa in a public gallery. Then I want to get a couple of the photos developed as canvases or framed so that I can put them up in my study. I'll be ace at it :)

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Samsung Galaxy Tab

I've been looking forward to the release of the Samsung Galaxy Tab for a while now. Today was the official announcement day and what can I say? Very nice looking hardware, a high resolution 7" screen, the Android 2.2 Froyo OS (which will be updated to Gingerbread), internet enabled with HSDPA and 16GB of flash storage which is expandable by MircoSD. All good stuff, until I discovered the price... £679.99.

I really cannot believe that they are entering the market with such a huge asking price. They may yet prove me wrong, but I can only see this product being a total flop at that price. It's more expensive than the already overpriced (and market leader) iPad. I was honestly expecting the Tab to retail at around the £200 to £300 mark, at which my pre-order would already be in.

I believe that the problem is that they've tried to make it a phone / video phone as well as an internet tablet. The idea of using it as a phone is ridiculous, who the hell is going to walk around with a slab against their faces? And lets face it, video calling has never taken off. Two things they should have given a second thought to, in order to take on the church of Apple.

I guess I will just have to wait for a reasonably priced tablet PC to arrive. Perhaps HTC have something up their sleeves?

Saturday, 28 August 2010

No more water leak.. I hope

I went out yesterday and bought some clear silicone to plug the hole in the boot of my five. It seems to have done the trick, we had a rain shower earlier today and the boot has remained water free. I've since put the dried carpet back in and I'm glad to say, the boot is back to normal. Still thinking of giving it more of a test with a bucket of water, so lets hope it passes with flying colours. :)

Sadly, not such good news on the tyre front. I had the tyre examined yesterday and there is a nail through the tyre in a place that can't be patched up. After speaking to the guys at the tyre fitters they say I won't need to replace both of the front tyres, as the other one is pretty new. So for a replacement Michelin Pilot Exalto PE2 it's going to cost £160. Got the tyre ordered for fitting on Wednesday.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Car problems

Having a couple of issues with the MX-5 at the moment, tyre and boot.

We've had heavy rain this week and found my boot to be flooded with water. I've seen a few splashes of water in there a few times before, but I've thought nothing of it up to now as that's all they were, splashes. What I've come across this week is a good soaking of the carpet the boot.

This morning I found where the water was coming from. It's coming from the joints where the centre brake light cluster is attached to the top of the boot. There are some plastic grommets that hold the light cluster to the car and these don't appear to be water tight, especially on the drivers side. I've spoken to a few people and they've all suggested that I seal the hole with silicone sealant. I wanted to get it done tonight, but as it's still wet outside I've not been able to do it. It's best to apply the sealant to a dry surface.

In the mean time I've taken the soaking carpet out of the boot. I really do mean soaking, it was dripping wet as I took it out and a large puddle of water was left in the boot area. So I've dried out the boot with a towel and let the water run out of the carpet. I've now got the carpet sitting in my airing cupboard with the heater on to dry.

The other problem I've got is that I've found out that I have a slow puncture in the front drivers side tyre. I filled it with air two or three weeks ago after I noticed it was low. Checked the tire again today and it's gone down from 29psi to 21psi... A trip out to get the puncture repaired is in order after work tomorrow. That'll be a boring hour sitting and waiting for them to repair it. Gutted.

Hope these are both quick and easy to get fixed, I don't want to spend another £250 replacing tyres. God only knows how much it would be to fix the leak if the silicone doesn't do the job too.

Wish me luck :)

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

It has been a while...

I haven't updated this blog since I signed up to blogger. After looking over the site a little more I've changed things around. First off I've re-directed the blog to my domain. Then I've updated the page template and used my own photo as the background.

The current photo is from Silverstone two weeks ago. I was there with the MX-5 Owners Club and the photo is of all the owners cars. Had a good day out with my nephew Harry. It was his first motorsport event and he really enjoyed it, especially seeing loads of supercars!

We were supposed to be able to go out on track with the other owners MX-5s, but the event organisers stopped us. Harry didn't meet the age requirements for going out on track. It's really stupid as doing 40mph around a track with single file traffic isn't exactly dangerous. Put a bit of a downer on a really good day out.

Monday, 29 March 2010

HTC Desire

My current phone (HTC Touch Diamond2) is really starting to annoy me. A couple of weeks ago it decided that it doesn't want to play the loudspeaker while plugged into the power. Major issue when I was about to go on a trip in my car using the GPS software! In the end I had to run it on battery power and "just" made it to my destination. The other issue I've had is that it randomly will not play my ring tone when someone calls. It's not every time, just every now and again. I updated the ROM last week and it didn't solve either issue.

So I've just gone and pre-ordered myself a HTC Desire Android 2.1 phone from handtec. Due for release on April 7th, I'm very much looking forwards to getting my hands on it. The reviews that I've read so far have been very good. I'm really surprised that the price is under £400, especially when the phone is basically the same as the Nexus One that is retailing for over £500. Bargain!

New weblog

I'm just testing out blogger as a blogging service. Tempted to put out my musings about various things here. We'll see.