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The Honour List 09

January24

I played a lot more than 5 games last year, unfortunately some great games were on the cut list so here we’re going to have lots of mentions. I also want to take the time to mention other titles that I played that weren’t bed either as well as the titles that I disliked for one reason or another. So lets kick off this list with the honorable mentions.

Honorable Mentions:
Red Faction: Guerrilla [2009]A little bit of shooting and a little bit of destruction, what more could you ask for?
Braid (PSN) [2009]The manipulation of time to create fun, yet challenging puzzles, this game is really something else.
Trine (PSN) [2009]There are many unique elements in this game, and there is no one way to complete this game.
Shatter (PSN) [2009]Breakout on steroids, the concept isn’t new but Sidhe was definitely onto a winner here.

Mentions:
Assassin’s Creed [2007]This game had so much potential but unfortunately they missed the ball with the repetitive missions.
Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction [2007]The welcomed entry into the next-generation, finally bringing Ratchet in High Definition.
Resident Evil 5 [2009]Not normally a fan of these games, but the co-op story was a winner for me.
Uncharted: Drakes Fortune [2007]The story was interesting, but unfortunately there was too much gun battle for my liking.
Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom [2007]Enjoyed the series on the PSP, unfortunately the PS3 version just doesn’t feel right.
Flower (PSN) [2009]I don’t know if you could really classify this as a game, it’s more of a relaxation exercise.
Uno (PSN) [2009]Uno is probably one of my favourite family games, if only there were more people online to play it.

Dishonorable Mentions:
Bionic Commando [2009]Controls seemed really janky, made the game unnecessarily frustrating.
LittleBigPlanet [2008]This game builds itself around creating content, something which I don’t have a knack for.
Ratchet & Clank: A Quest for Booty [2008]It’s a shame Insomniac were forced to make this, worst title out of all the series.
Resistance: Fall of Man [2007]I just don’t like FPS’, and I’m not that great at them either.
Tony Hawk’s Project 8 [2007]First time the series is HD, doesn’t make the game any better though.
Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground [2007]This game series is becoming stale, each game since Underground 2 is progressively worse than the last.
Noby Noby Boy (PSN) [2009]There is no objective to this game, you just eat everything and then poop it out.
Pain (PSN) [2008]This game is so repetitive it gets boring, and they charge you extra for extras.
Rag Doll Kung Foo (PSN) [2009]This game is really basic, it also doesn’t help that I don’t care for the genre.

I know there may be some people that disagree with where I’ve placed some of the titles, but remember that this is my opinion and it reflects what I look for and what I enjoy in video games. If you haven’t already, you should at least rent some of the titles I have high on the list, they are well worth checking out.

Top 5 PS3 Games Of 2009

January23

It’s been nearly a year since I got my PS3. I bought a lot of games, some I loved, some I enjoyed and some I regret purchasing. While the rest of the internet have already published their top 2009 game lists, I have decided to do the same, although with a few differences. My list is the top games I played in 2009, not necessarily released last year. Here goes my top 5 PS3 games played in 2009.

Burnout Paradise [2008]
Before last year, if you asked me what my favourite game of all time is, I would have told you Burnout 3. This game takes the Burnout series to the next level with an open world game. That idea can be daunting for a Burnout fan but after playing it for a while, it’s the best next step the series could have taken. Online is this game is great along with a solid single player experience. Not only is there competitive play, the main focus is on co-operative challenges. One thing that I have come to appreciate from this game are no in-game loading screens. I also can’t forget to mention the amazing DLC that came along for this game, increasing the gameplay by an extra 30+ hours each. This cocktail has awarded this game as my favourite of all time (until something comes to knock it off, that is.)

Assassin’s Creed 2 [2009]
When I saw the videos for the original Assassin’s Creed, the game looks stunning. It was a game I was excited about being able to play one day. Unfortunately, everything but the actual gameplay was great, which is a big problem for a game. Thankfully Ubisoft took note of the criticisms of their first title and released this sequel. This is exactly what I wanted from the Assassin’s Creed series. With an immersive story and a wider variety of mission types, this game makes me feel like an assassin, which is it’s primary goal.

Ratchet & Clank: A Crack In Time [2009]
I’ve been a huge fan of this game series right from the beginning, when it was on the PS2. While keeping the main gameplay formula the same, they also added some new interesting and enjoyable aspects to the game, such as the space travel, planet side missions and Clank puzzles. I couldn’t have asked for more, for what could be the final game in this series. Well they have been doing this for over 7 years so I would expect them to perfect the system, and they did just that.

God of War Collection [2009]
This shouldn’t really count since the two games that come in the God of War Collection are PS2 titles, but it was remastered for the PS3 and it was great to play these titles so it qualifies to be on this list. There is not much I can say about this series, because both God of War I & II are high on the list of top PS2 games ever released. I had a blast playing it the second time round on the PS3. I really think that the whole trilogy will be one that doesn’t age for a very long time, in ten years or so, you’ll still be able to play it without it feeling that dated.

inFamous [2009]
Sucker Punch is most well known for their Sly Cooper series, so it’s great for them to come out with a new IP. One aspect this game focuses on is good verses evil, there choices you make throughout the game determine how major parts of the story progress and how this effects you as a character. Unfortunately the game is very 2 railroads, throughout the game, you either pick the good actions, or you pick the bad, so you progress as one or the other. This requires you to play the game twice, which to me seems like a cheap way to increase longevity. Other than that, the story was great, and presented an a unique comic book style rather than cutscenes. The gameplay was good and the powers interesting, they did well to make you feel powerful in this city. I’m looking forward to improvements in a sequel.

So that was my top 5 games, in order, of 2009. This year brings a slew of new titles such as God of War III, Heavy Rain, Dante’s Inferno, ModNation Racers and White Knight Chronicles, and that’s just in the first quarter. There were also 2 big titles of 2009, Batman: Arkham Asylum and Uncharted 2, that I never got round to. Hopefully I can this year and they may be on my top list for 2010.

Want Firefox 3.6?

October31

I have been using beta builds of future Firefox versions for ages. They have always been stable enough to use as my primary browser. The problem is, there are some downsides to using non-release versions of Firefox. One of those is add-ons not working, another is some new features that you may not like, and sometimes there are new features that you cannot access in an early beta because they have been disabled. Well here is some information, and tips and tricks for if you want to use Firefox 3.6 beta 1.

This is a minor upgrade from 3.5 so you shouldn’t expect too many changes. I’m sure there are many changes underneath the hood and hidden from the user. There are 3 major differences that may be experienced by the user. The first is Personas, which once was accessible through an extension but is now built in. This is a lightweight theming system. To try it, go to the Personas section of the Firefox add-ons site and hover over one to preview it on your browser and click “Wear It” to install it. The next change is currently disabled by default but will probably be enabled in a later beta. This is the new ctrl-tab previews. When you press ctrl-tab, it will show you full screenshot previews of some of the tabs you have open. You can also press ctrl-shift-tab to view a windows inside the browser that shows you all your currently loaded tabs. The last change is the way Firefox manages tabs opened through another page. When you click a link on a web page which launches it in another tab, this new tab will launch beside the current tab, and not at the end of the tab bar as the very last tab. As I said, there are not many new features in this version.

One of the problems with using a beta is that there will be extensions that will not function. A few of the popular extensions like Adblock Plus and Gmail Notifier will function in the latest beta but if you’re anything like me, there will be extensions that you need that just don’t work. Well luckily there’s an extension for that. Nightly Tester Tools has a great feature that allows you to overwrite compatibility to get the add-on to install on your current version of Firefox. For a lot of extensions, this is all that is needed to get it to work. For those, it’s great. Unfortunately, sometimes there are extensions that this won’t work exactly right for and may cause the browser to become unstable and/or crash. This may be a little risky but it’s worth a try. If you find you have something that doesn’t work with this fix and you must have the extension, then you’ll have to wait until the developer updates it for compatibility, which may not be until the final release. If that is your case, then beta software is definitely not for you.

So now you’ve installed Firefox 3.6 beta 1, had a quick play around with personas but you’d also like to check out the new ctrl-tab feature that’s disabled. To enabled that feature, go to about:config, accept the prompt then search for browser.ctrlTab.previews, right click and select toggle (to true) to enable. Now you can ctrl-tab to switch between you tabs with previews and also ctrl-shift-tab to access the window that shows all your tab previews. Now I wasn’t to happy with the new way Firefox handled the opening on new tabs from links in other tabs. I prefer it to open them as the last tab on my tab bar. To disable this new feature, in about:config, search for browser.tabs.insertRelatedAfterCurrent, right click and select toggle (to false). Now it handles these tabs just like it does in earlier versions of Firefox.

Now this last set of tips is for Mac owners with a MacBook (Pro) with one of the multitouch trackpads. The first one can be done in Firefox 3.5 and 3.6. To enable rotate gestures to switch between the tabs, in the about:config page, search for browser.gestures. Here you will find 2 gestures without a value, twist.left and twist.right. Right click on them and type in the field Browser:PrevTab for twist.left and Browser:NextTab for twist.right to enable these gestures for navigating through tabs on your browser window. It may seem a bit weird for the start but eventually it will become second nature. One more thing that I also found was a way to make the new ctrl-shift-tab window to come up with a gesture. To set that, right click on a gesture and in the field type Browser:ShowAllTabs. You can set it for any one of the gestures in browser.gestures. I set it for swipe.down to make it more like the 4-finger swipe down for Exposé so to access my tab previews, it’s just a simple 3-finger swipe down.

Now that you know what’s new in Firefox 3.6, go out an give this thing a run. You now have enough knowledge to get this thing working and to enable and disable new features added in this version. The extensions tip can be applied to pretty much any alpha and beta version of Firefox out there in the wild and the multitouch for the MacBooks can be applied to any version after 3.5 (excluding the tab preview one since it doesn’t exist prior to 3.6.) Here is the link for Firefox 3.6 Beta so now you have no excuse for trying it out.

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Upgrading To Snow Leopard

September5

I have only been a Mac User for just over half a year. I have never been through a Mac OS upgrade before, although I knew from the moment before I purchased my MacBook, I would take the jump to Snow Leopard as soon as it comes out. Previous to that, I had only been through one OS transition and that was from Windows XP to Windows Vista. If I had a Windows machine, I would have upgraded from Vista to Windows 7. As soon as Snow Leopard was available to preorder on the Apple Store website, I immediately bought it. Launch day came, no Snow Leopard for me. After the weekend, Snow Leopard was go.

Before my disc arrived, I set up my machine for the upgrade. I arranged all the clutter into directories. I deleted or moved any files that weren’t necessary to have on the hard drive. All this was for a smaller amount of data to backup in case anything went horribly wrong. I had never been through a big upgrade like this so I didn’t know what to expect so I took all the precautions. After all that was done, I set up Time Machine on my old 500GB External HDD. After all the cleaning, I only had 100GB to be backed up which only took a couple of hours.

A quick note here. First, I picked Time Machine because the tools were already built in. I had heard around the Internet that Time Machine isn’t that great, but I hadn’t heard any bad experiences from the OS X users I know. I don’t know how reliable this software is because I most likely, well at least I hope I’d never use it. For this upgrade, it was a precaution and wasn’t expecting to have to use it, it was there just in case and also ave me piece of mind.

All that was going well until a disc got stuck in my drive. This was one of the worst things that could happen because that component, the least used one on many notebooks or computer, is required to upgrade the OS. I tried all the tricks in the book from all the help sites. Nothing worked. I pretty much gave up and decided it was going to have to go get repaired. In desperation, I shut it down and shook it around a few times. Maybe something in the drive got stuck or the disc was doing something weird and needed to be nudged. Lucky for me, this actually worked. When I booted it up and ejected the disc from in OS X, the disc came flying out. Saved by the shake.

When the disc arrived the following morning, I put it in. By this stage, the rest of the world had got their copies and there were a few complains about software not working in Snow Leopard but that was basically it. The software I use was either supported by Snow Leopard before launch, or an update came out over the weekend to fix incompatibility issues. I was willing to take the leap of faith. As you know, I have always been an early adopter of alpha and beta software. I popped the disc in, launched the installer from within Leopard and then left it for an hour to do its thing.

Upon return, there it was, Leopard… I mean Snow Leopard. I didn’t have any compatibility issues with any of my software. All software ran as it did before. Everything seemed fine. Over the past week, the only issues I’ve had are with a small glitch in the OS and one program that crashed once out of the blue. This has been a pretty smooth OS upgrade. Of course there are going to be a few small issues but none have really effected me. I’m more than happy with the upgrade process.

In contrast with my last OS upgrade with Windows, it resulted in me getting a new machine. For a lot of Windows users, that is when they upgrade their OS, they don’t buy and install it on their old hardware. Also switching from XP SP2 to Windows Vista RTM was a nightmare in comparison. System crashes and software not working for weeks, if not months after the OS release. And then, it wasn’t really until SP1 came out 12 months later that Vista was really stable.

Upgrading is going to be less problematic going from XP or Vista to 7. Windows 7 is a pretty solid OS, well at least from the limited early usage I had with it and from the experiences friends that have used the Beta and Release Candidate versions. But that will never be enough to put it on par with simple and seamless experience of an OS X upgrade. The many different versions of Windows makes it difficult to do an “upgrade” but instead requires a fresh new install and then you migrate your data over. A lot more steps and a lot more work than the simple Mac upgrade. Just another aspect of Macs that “just work.” :)

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Predictably Irrational

August31

This is going to be strange coming from me, but I have a book recommendation. I don’t read books. I dislike books and find them boring and a waste of my time. But last month, I actually purchased a book from Mighty Ape. For someone that doesn’t read books, doesn’t borrow any books and doesn’t own a book, that is very unusual thing to do. After hearing this book being mentioned many times on the podcasts I listen to, i finally decided to grab this book because it seemed like something I would be interested in and it did sound quite interesting.

Predictably Irrational is a book about some of the illogical decisions we make everyday. The book is filled with experiments to highlight specific situations in which we make irrational decisions and how predicable these choices are. I thought this book was amazing and loved it. I recommend everyone find a copy (maybe buy it from Mighty Ape) and read it. Below is a description of the book and if it sounds like something you would be interested in even just the slightest, definitely seek this book out by all means. 5 out of 5 stars.

Why do smart people make irrational decisions every day? The answers will surprise you. Predictably Irrational is an intriguing, witty and utterly original look at why we all make illogical decisions. Why can a 50p aspirin do what a 5p aspirin can’t? If an item is “free” it must be a bargain, right? Why is everything relative, even when it shouldn’t be? How do our expectations influence our actual opinions and decisions?

My Firefox Extensions

July26

I have been a Firefox user for many years, ever since 1.0 in fact. I have had my fair share of different extensions over the years as time went on, that number increased and decreased as I installed extensions I had come across or ones that others had recommended and as I uninstalled ones that were no longer of any use to me. Well now I have a few extensions and these are some of the only reasons I wouldn’t switch to another browser. Here are my must have Firefox extensions.

Faviconize Tab – I have so many tabs open at one time. When I open my browser, the same 16 tabs open up for me. That would take up a lot of room on the tab bar. Fortunately Faviconize Tab shrinks the size of selected tabs to the size of their favicon. I go to the site so frequently I am able to recognize the website by that small icon they have. I don’t need a big title wasting space so that extra room is able to be used on other links I open.

Net Usage Item (with New Zealand ISP Definitions) – It’s been forever since I actually have Internet allowance but even with unlimited, I still find it interesting to see how much data I’ve used (and slow down if I need to.) This extension is probably one of the most useful ones I’ve ever used. It displays your current usage from your ISP and displays it in the Firefox window with a nice graphical bar showing your progress. This is a must have for all Firefox users, assuming your ISP is supported.

Nighty Tester Tools – I have always been an early adopter of the alpha and beta builds of future versions of Firefox. I enjoy using and playing around with new features before most “normal” users get their hands on them. Unfortunately one of the problems with doing so is you lose add-on support. For a lot of people, this is enough to hold out people from jumping on the latest beta. Well thankfully for me, this extension can overwrite compatibility constraints and force extensions to install on these pre-Firefox builds. The extension can do a lot more than that, but the force capability feature is the best and most useful one for me. It gives me the best of both worlds, pre-Firefox builds and my 2 great extensions.

Wow, wasn’t that a short list. I remember when I use to have over a dozen extensions and now I only have 3 (4 if you count the extra definitions pack.) These few extensions give me the functionality I want and need from my browser and that is one of the reasons that Firefox is so awesome. You can add on bit and pieces to enhance your browsing experience. If you haven’t got these extensions already, go get them if the sound like something you could do with. I live by these extensions and recommend them greatly!

VodiPhone 3GS

July8

Today VodafoneNZ finally announced the iPhone 3GS plans, or should I say re-announced the iPhone 3G plans? They are exactly the same as the current plans. Disappointing still. I would have loved to go on the iPhone 40 plan if it was any good, but $40/m would get me 20 minutes, 100 SMS and 250MB of data. I require more SMS than that, 100 is a joke. That also would have taken the 32GB iPhone 3GS down to $899 dollars, from the regular $1379.

I would like to know why the price of the phones went up. Is the recession to blame? Were Vodafone selling the 3G at lower prices but since it can now be taken over to other carriers they’ve increased it to cost price? I was hoping that it would be at the $1199 price point like the highest model 3G was but no, they’ve jacked the price of the highest iPhone model up further.

What am I going to do then? Initially I wanted to switch to XT, I still do, but I am going to stay on Vodafone so those poor people that can only SMS other Vodafone people can still SMS me, unlike those lucky Telecom people that can SMS everyone. I need a national SMS plan (TXT600) which is not available on Vodafone Prepaid so for that I need to go on a plan. I am thinking the Starter 600 would be a decent one for me. It includes 30 minutes, 600 SMS and 1 Bestmate. That costs $29.95 a month, and with the Broadband Lite add-on (100MB,) that brings it up to $40 a month. We’ll see what I do on Friday. Hopefully I’ll be the proud owner of a 32GB Black iPhone 3GS. :)

mobile phone deals

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