lørdag, april 28, 2007

Wine Tasting

I went with some friends for a wine tasting event at Hotel Contenintal. It was 350 wines in 4 hours. To be honest that is quite a race. Of course you don't get time to taste them all as you need to take the time to really taste the wines and make notes.

I was pleasantly surprised that the general quality of wines where quite good and there where some really interesting wines to taste. It felt like being in France, Germany, Italy and Spain all together. I really enjoyed the evening and afterwards had a lovley dinner at Teatercafeen.

Deja Vu (movie)

Tony Scott is behind some of the best movies ever (read: True Romance, The Last Boy scout and Top Gun) and this is of course something to keep in mind. Deja Vu takes a quite serious Sci-Fi theme and turns it into a pretty good movie - half serious, half entertaining. Denzel plays his role really well. However the movie is filled with trivial things and action sequences that is there only to "keep us going" and is not really needed for the story. While this is quite ok, it does take the movie down from being a classic.

The general feel that the movie gives us is a good thrilling feeling and we can't really know if things will be good or not (if you didn't watch the trailer that is... bummer). When looking through the triviality we are presented with a deeper story about love and about changing the future and past for the better. Even if the obvious glitches like the "time machine" and the projection of items are totally unrealistic I think that this is what the triviality cover up - so that it feels like the "time-machine" a totally sane idea.

In the end I must say I enjoyed this movie and so will you.

Perfect Stranger (Movie)

This movie has gotten some mediocre reviews. I however think that this is wrong because this is in fact quite an enjoyable movie. The fact that Halle Berry is not a very good actress adds up to the realism in the movie. Her nervous not so very played movements are quite realistic in how her role would be. Said in a different matter: Halle Berry is such a bad actor she fits perfect in the role. This adds up to the thrilling sensation of the movie. Bruce is of course playing better than in a long time, unfortunatly he is not allowed to have a really big role in the movie.

While Perfect Stranger is no: 6th Sense, it is quite a good thriller and against some others believes has all the ingredients to a good thriller - it even puts it in a little different way for pleasure.

First Impressions - Nokia 95 (Hardware)

Ahh, finally the all purpose phone in my hands. Its like the butter(fly) in me is totally in .........

To begin with I have tried several smart phones lately. I am the kind of guy that tries all programs and possibilities of a system to see how it works. The high end SonyEricsson phones are pretty good all around, however as Neonde(behind the P8/9xx series) decided to produce their own phones SE has had problems following up the success. well partly they have but I know many are looking for something like a P1000.

Then we have the Windows smart phones. The first edition of Windows CE I find to be pretty good. Light and flexible with an impressive pack of compatible software thanks to the IPAQs success. Also there is little of the overhead and the fuzz (vaporware). Seems to me for every later version of this portable Microsoft OS it gets worse and worse. The latest version I tried is 5.0 which in theory can do everything you want but in practice is just a major pain and you end up with nothing working. Another problem is that we already have version 6.0 and the software has problem to be compatible and this means you will always have a limited bag of software that you need.

Of course I have had a extreme usage pattern of phones so I decided to go for a second hand Nokia 6680 to save some cash. While this is strictly maybe not a smart phone, it runs Symbian S60 and I was just so relieved to finally have a OS that works and still have fairly good software support. But what is even more important is the OS is efficient to use and has what you and I need both as a power user as well as a light user. While I think there is still room for massive improvement in user friendliness in the GUI - it still gives me pleasure when compared with the others on the marked. iphone will probably show us later how to make something better.

So here we are at the stand with the Nokia N95 which runs S60 3rd edition, making it incompatible with a lot of the software. I really hope a lot will be ported over soon.

Now what does this phone offer?

A 5 MP camera. As we all know its not the number of MP that makes a good camera but the lens what is behind the lens. The sensor is not good enough to support the 5 MPs and one should probably think of it as a decent 3 MP camera. Maybe not to impressive for some of us but I firmly believe that there are to categories of photographs. The normal one; usually called the amateur. Which means about all of us that enjoy to take photos at parties, holidays and so on but does not take much interest and time into creating beautiful pictures. For us this phone-cam will do! The other kind is the (semi)pro photographer that will need a better camera anyway - a much better one. If I am going to purchase a better camera it will be one of those - but not until I have the time and the urge to go into the semi-pro business. Meaning: that a Nokia N95 can save you the bucks and hassle of an extra camera.

Other thing to say is that the current firmware is not fully optimized for the camera so the quality will improve with future firmware releases. A camera that grows better with time - how cool is that?

A GPS. No this is something to say. Its built in and several 3rd party software does not support it yet (come on TomTom!!) and this can be a drag as it forces you to use the Nokia built in application. Basically this is a service that gathers the info needed through a online service, meaning it will cost you both a subscription and GPRS data packets. The application itself is quite neat but has to little features to offer to satisfy most of us. There has been a lot said about the GPS antennas sensitivity. While it takes a bit time to initiate satellites, it does perform quite nice when driving :) Wayfinder 7 is also compatible with N95. It works quite like the Nokia one. But gives you more juice - options. The firmware also hasn't optimized fully for the GPS so the sensitivity will increase with time... Again this is nice.

A SIP phone. I really like hooking up to WLAN and have my IP phone service on my cell phone. No need to have a separated phone at home anymore. (ok for families this might not be the ultimate choice?? - but maybe I will look into the possibilities to engineer a solution for this later on)

3D accelerator. I am wondering if this phone actually gives better 3D than the Nintendo DS lite, I have to wait for some new games to compare. It is very promising indeed.

Mediacenter - I am not so much for using a cell phone as a media player, I still prefer the ipod. But for those lighter users this phone has all you need.

Radio - Again I don't think I will need it much, but some people might find it useful

Everything else you need - N95 does about anything you'll ever want.

The negative sides: Its a sucker for battery. It is fully possible to make the battery last a long time if you don't use the phone much. Problem: if you buy this phone you will be a power user, which means you will use the options the phone gives you, which means battery life is a joke. Nokia should go back and give everybody that purchased this phone a free battery upgrade (yeah, like that would ever happen).

First Impression - Nintendo DS lite (hardware)

Supposedly I needed to get some new toys. It became a Nintendo DS which I am totally in love with. Its hard to say what it is, but this little device has everything it needs to become an ultimate playing device. Is it the touch screen? Is it the built in mic and WLAN?

I think of all it is Nintendo. Nintendo has years on the back of tuning in the gameplay experience. The target Nintendo player is a lot younger than those of PSP and therefore the games available usually are a bit more childish than on its competitor.

This is where Nintendo does it things best. Nintendo "lends" (to put it in a nice way )its expertise to the game developers to make sure that every game released on a Nintendo system will give us the ultimate experience. Overall this works pretty well.

Come to think of it, back in the days when Nintendo released Gameboy with a dull monochrome screen, Atari gave us the Lynx with 4096 colors (just as many as on a Amiga system). While many people still remember Atari with good memories, truth is whatever games are sold as Atari Classics today - they are just mostly a bunch of crap. Lynx games was crap and people preferred to play Mario on a monochrome screen - for a long time. Even the GB color was not a such a improvement and it was not until the GBA that we got some decent color handheld gaming.

And this is why Nintendo can release so called inferior HW systems and still win our hearths. For the first the Nintendo DS Lite is quite ultimate in many ways, the ways Nintendo reinvent the gaming experience for us. For an old time gaming Mongol like me it makes my heart soft as butter(flies) and I hardly can put my DS away at all.

I defiantly want to write some more about the games later, but for now.....

We will finish up with the downside: As I kind of mentioned earlier the lack of propher adult games, meaning fighting, beating is a bit weak. Yes there is a few but they are lacking. The other thing is that 3D gfx can be a bit dull.

But as we know - gaming is all about the pleasure and that’s what it is


Upcoming Stuff

Beside the fact that spring is here and all the joys of the upcoming summer - whatever enjoyable surprises it will bring; I have a few "nerdy" things that are thrilling me.

First up is a few things from Bioware. After finishing the excellent Jade Empire (without a doubt one of the best games ever!) I found out that the game Mass Effect is coming pretty soon. (Something to play on rainy days??) Mass Effect is said to be a KOTOR style game with all the Star Wars association removed - so defiantly a winner.

Then we have KOTOR 3. There are mostly rumors and no verified info about this. Some people thinks that Mass Effect is what was supposed to be KOTOR 3. Some says that it will be made after Mass Effect either by Bioware or Obsidian. I don't really know, but after Jade Empire I can not wait!

NWN2 expansion - The first expansion to Never Winter Nights 2 is also something to look forward to. This expansion will continue where NWN2 finished and let us do all that high level D&D stuff.

Zelda on DS - Finally the DS will get its own Zelda game, expect it to be: awesome.

Smashing Pumpkins with a new record. 7. July we expect to get a new record from Smashing Pumpkins. While I am not expecting a new "Siamese Dream" - this can be the beginning of something nice.

Live Free or Die Hard - I just hope the forth Die Hard movie will be awesome and conclude the series with a BANG.

Spiderman 3 - I expect this one to be even better than number 2. Or so I hope.

mandag, april 02, 2007

Vote for Yoyoyo Acapulco to play at Norwegian Wood Festival

My friends Yoyoyo Acapulco are among 20 bands of which 8 of them gets the chance for a live performance at the festival.

To get in the top 8 they need your votes: Send a SMS simply saying “Wood 20” to number 1987. From abroad it will be: +47 1987

(This is of course another lame way to earn SMS money – but in this case it is for a good cause! ;D )

Links for more information:
Yoyoyo Acapulco Page: http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendID=105348553
The Contest: http://www.nrk.no/musikk/1.2157808
Norwegian Wood Music Festival: http://www.norwegianwood.no/
Blog entries: http://blog.eardrumsmusic.com/2006/09/yoyoyo-acapulco-fantastic-fun-american.html and http://milkmilk-lemonade.blogspot.com/2006/10/yoyoyo-acapulco.html

Vote now! Spread the word ;)

Jade Empire (game)

Just as I was talking about the perfect beat-em-up - something quite close to it arrives in my hands. I am impressed with Bioware - they deliver quality games almost all the time. They have ripped out the D&D backbone of the engine and swapped it out with a lovely arcade style Martial Arts.

It works so well - I honestly have to admit I am hooked. It is not like the ultimate beat-em-up with Tekken 5 as described earlier but this is as close as you can get. It is almost like heaven ;) And with the RPG element on top of that - this is a game you simply gotta love.

Not any bad sides? Well in one it reminds me a lot of KOTOR, but that’s just good. Other than that I think he fighting should have been more sophisticated with a lot more moves and such - and maybe given us more health so that we could have had longer fights - (best of 3 anyone??)

One can hardly understand what kind of work it is to put together a game like this. Then again to imagine all the testing that is needed to make a game like this flow like the wind. Luckily this has been converted to PC from console so we know we don’t have to deal with all the bugs – as it still is so that console games has to be almost bug-free before release. With all the live-content of nowadays consoles that might not last for long.

I really hope Bioware will continue to improve this formula and make a Jade Empire 2 very soon - and why not a KOTOR 3 at the same time???

Demon Stone (game)

I actually find this game fun. I do like beat-em ups and this slash-em up is quite enjoyable. It is much like the Lord Of The Rings one and I think that is its biggest weakness - that it doesn’t feel unique enough.

I think of the prefect beat-em up this way: You take Tekken 5 and give you the possible to walk around and explore and beat up whoever comes your way. Why doesn't anyone make anything like this.

Compared to this Demon Stone can not reach up. There simply is to many monster and to much push the same button over and over again. So it shortly falls down in the pit. The game is also quite short and I understand why - you simply can't enjoy it any longer than that.

Probably not worth any cash - better do the Lord Of The Rings one.

The Good Shepherd (movie)

I have watched a lot of crap lately and this one is another one.

Who was it that decided that the rules of personal development doesn’t apply for movies anymore and that you (and me) actually find it interesting to spend 3 hours watching a person using having only one facial expression.

The only thing interesting I find with this movie is that the morale seems to be: if you sleep with a woman you are guaranteed it will be a spy. Nice...

BTW: Matt Damon suck!

Eragon (movie)

This is a fantasy tale that tries to be different? At least it tries to introduce a new magical system. Nothing wrong with that really - but it takes the movie apart because it somewhat childishly tires to teach us this system incorporated with the thin story line.

I think the main problem is that no one really took the time to quality assure the system and the story and so there we are. Then again I guess this is a children movie - so I shouldn't expect too much?

Babel (movie)

This is another big movie that receives great scores. I think you can put in somewhere in the same place as Haven and Traffic while Babel is for sure the best one of these when it comes to photography, acting and music. In fact it is so well done all over that it is to cry over - because the story is nothing.

The story gives me nothing but wasting my time. The story tried to be interesting, to hint about hidden deeper meanings and so on. But all in all - even if there is some interesting points here and there - the story just doesn't give anything, and then this movie really has very little to show. Except of course the parts the movie excels in.

The Da Vinci Code Extended Version (movie)

I didn't read the book and I have no plans to do so either. But this means that I have no real idea whether Dan Brown actually writes any good or not.

This movie however is a sad affair, unless you are about 6 years old, you will not find much tension or drive in the story.

Come on. Secret societies using unscrambled cell phones? And not tracing others using cell phones? Naaaah.

The main problem with this movie is however that the most interesting moments is when the mystery of Leonardo Da Vinci’s picture is explained. The actors are not allowed to portrait the rolls with any personality, which turns Tom Hanks into a dull and boring character. Even the policeman Fache has no personality and the only one that keeps us a bit entertained is Silas.

Basically the story and the drive is not really there and I just feel like I have been wasting my time.

Ed Wood (movie)

A friend of mine recommended this movie to me, in the belief that this was fiction. When I told him that this was based on the real life of The Worlds worst director ever - he freaked a bit as he thought it was just: too far out.

This movie is made by the Burton/Depp team. We already know that it will be brilliant. Quite different, funny and very well done as expected. After this you might actually want to see "Plan 9 from outer space" and "Bridge of the Monster" just for the laugh.

Reunion party

The old(???) guys from children school came together the other weekend and celebrated some kind of reunion party. At that time we where only 6 people so it wasn't too much a hassle to organize.

And yet it became a hit. A good time to remember the old times when one was childish (because I am not childish at all nowadays ;) naaaah) and did a lot of strange stuff that children does.

It in turn lead to a friend coming over on Monday after to put up come C64s and played some of the old games that we used to play. Quite amazing how bad these games really are, but they kept us playing for hours and hours back then.

We went through the old classics: World Games - The weight lifting is a real classic. Winter Games - The Biathlon is pretty cool. Not to forget the Epyx song. My oh my.

It also lead to this habit to eat IFA pastilles again at least for that week.

Later I installed a C64 emulator by another friend and we had a shot at some other classics like: Terry's Big Adventure, Hopping Mad and the crazy Olympic Skier. Nice fun!