18 November 2009

This post is a day late...

... but that's to be expected, since I've had about 8 hours sleep in the past 67 hours.

Any how, the news: our son Logan was born at 1:30 am, 17 November, 24 days earlier than his due date. Full details are here.

12 November 2009

Christmas Coffees

Starbucks have brought back their Christmas-themed coffees! The only time I ever get anything other than a hazelnut latte! Had a yummy dark cherry mocha today -- the last time I had one of these was just after visiting the Jorvik Viking Centre in York last year.

09 November 2009


It's over. Last exam sat, course work archived, studies are over.

Unless I'm mad enough to do post-grad....

29 October 2009

Manners Mall

I don't know what all the fuss over the plans for Manners Mall is about. The number of courier vans, delivery vehicles and bicycles that charge up and down there, it's like there's already a road through it.

16 October 2009

Easily entertained

This post isn't about anything new or amazing, but I had a bit of a geek-out moment. I was reading a blog post by one of the D&D developers, who happened to mention he went on holiday with this family, and how the scenery at Chinook Pass in Washington state was awesome. I sauntered over to Google Maps, and looked up Chinook Pass. On a whim, I decided to see if Street View was available on I410... and it was. I must have traveled several miles along the road -- thoroughly agreeing with Rich Baker's assessment of the scenery -- before my boss told me my tea break was over...

Nothing new. Nothing earth-shattering. But I couldn't help marveling at the information tools available to us today.

15 October 2009


Had my final university lecture at 4pm today. Just gotta get past two 3-hour exams in early November, and then I'll graduate. Still haven't decided about going to the capping ceremony. My wife, sister-in-law and mother-in-law want me to do it, but I'm not big on public displays.

12 October 2009

Ugh... feeling old.

GameSpy has published a list of their 25 Top Games of the '90s. Of the 25 on the list, I've played 20, and some of those are still games I love playing now (or would, if I still had a working copy).

06 September 2009

Bank directors' bonuses

True/Slant is an interesting website, and I like Laurie Essig's column. A recent one is on the ridiculous bonuses paid to bankers, despite their proven ineptitude culminating in the current financial crisis (okay, I know it's not as simple as that). One particular paragraph stands out (especially since it keeps getting trotted out by the State Services Commission):

Furthermore, the absolutely insane propaganda coming from the likes of [Wall St insider Timothy] Geithner that these salaries are “good” for America because they attract the “best and the brightest” is not true. Insanely high salaries attract the greediest. Period. Work that doesn’t involve screwing other people and is fairly compensated attracts the best and the brightest since the best, by definition, are motivated by more than money.
Read the whole column. Then go read some other articles.

05 September 2009


Just got back from a fabulous dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Lower Hutt, Las Margaritas (a surprise birthday party for one of my D&D players). Good food, great atmosphere, and a rousing rendition of the Spanish Happy Birthday for Cam.

28 August 2009


That was a bit of a shake. Still, no damage (except for startled missus). Back to sleep.

15 August 2009

Been a while

Urg, been busy -- painting baby's room, work, study -- and we've been without internet at home for nearly a month. Must do better. :-P

Anyhoo, thanks to GameSpy, here's a video to go "wow" to:--

07 June 2009

And now, the big news

My wife and I are expecting a baby! He or she isn't due until December, but we've just come out of the first trimester, and everything looks great, so now we're telling everyone.

Latest news on the pregnancy can be found here (yes, another blog).

09 May 2009

Duke Nukem Never?

News is floating around the 'Net that the long-awaited Duke Nukem Forever's studio, 3D Realms, has shut down (or been shut down) due to a lack of funding. Their website, which was up-and-running last time I looked (less than a week ago), is now coming up with a "This webpage is not available" message, though the forums still seem to be up.

DNF has been in development hell for the past 12 years, and has become the poster boy of vapourware, and the gaming world's longest running jokes (for example, linking the games initials with the status of a race car that fails to complete a race). 3D Realms has long stated (rather petulantly, I thought) its release date as "when it's done". Aside from some screenshots in the early days, the only news was a trailer released in late 2007 (which was also the topic of the first post in this blog).

Part of the problem has been the chopping and changing of technology midstream. Starting with the Quake II engine, 3D Realms switched to the Unreal engine in 1998, a newer version of the Unreal engine in 1999, Unreal 2.0 in 2001. The physics engine changed from Karma to Meqon. There was a very public spat between 3D Realms and their publisher, Take Two, and repeated no-shows at various tradeshows.

Is this necessarily a bad thing? With its long development cycle, DNF would have to have been something awesome, otherwise it would have been one of the most pilloried video games in history (though maybe not as much as Daikatana...). Duke Nukem 3D is widely considered a landmark game in the FPS genre, and much was expected of its successor, especially from its early screenshots. It's entirely possible that the game would have been released to poor reviews, which would have spelt the death knell of 3DR anyway.

But it could have been a good game, too. It looks like we'll never know.
Update: The 3D Realms website is back up, only to say goodbye (complete with staff photo).

29 April 2009

The franchise is safe

We were lucky enough to get tickets to an advance screening of the new Star Trek movie (sister-in-law's husband won tickets, but it's on the night of said sister-in-law's birthday). It totally rocks (although one thing did bother me: [spoiler alert] Kirk goes from Iowa farmboy to starship captain in three years?!). It was also nice to see that Leonard Nimoy had a proper part in the movie, not a Leonard's-still-alive-and-we-got-him-in-the-movie part.

22 April 2009

Fantastic short movie

Thanks to blue cat for the heads-up on this, here's an absolutely fantastic short movie:

18 April 2009


And thanks to Bezerk Raccoon putting up a post about her weekly ritual of checking up PostSecret. I've added it to my "blogs I follow" list, and I reckon it'll become part of my weekly ritual.

You may have noticed...

... that there are a couple of tattoo blogs listed in the "blogs I follow" list. Both the missus and I have tattoos. Well, it's actually the same tattoo: a Celtic infinity knot that Juliette found on Teh Interweb (which, unfortunately, I can't seem to find again). It apparently symbolises two lives coming together as one, which was why we had them done when we got back from our honeymoon. Juliette's is on her right shoulderblade, mine on my left (normally when walking together, Juliette's on my left).

But we're not stopping there. Juliette's got some ideas for more tattoos, primarily ones that'll she have done when we have kids (at some point), as well as ones showing her love of animals.

Me? I've kicked around some vague ideas of tigers (I was born in the Year of the Tiger), wolves ('cos I love 'em), and eagles ('cos I love 'em and they can fly), but today I stumbled across the Geeky Tattoos website. Now, I'm kicking around geek tattoo ideas....

16 April 2009

We have to wait how long?

Watched the new Doctor Who adventure, Planet of the Dead the other night. Thought it was a bit Pitch Black-ish, and Lady Christina was a bit Lara Croft-ish, but that didn't stop it from being a really good episode.

Naturally enough, I hopped on Teh Interweb to find when the next episode will be.


Aaargh, don't know if I can last that long. Still, Torchwood season 3 in June/July, so that'll break up the wait a bit.

12 April 2009

Cool new game

Downloaded a demo from Xbox Live tonight for a game called Flock! Seriously fun.

04 April 2009

Armageddon '09

I spent most of today at the Armageddon Expo at Wellington's TSB Arena. It opened at 9, but Shane and I got there around 7:45 (with Eric showing up around 8).  The queue wasn't very long when we got there, but grew in the 30 minutes before opening. 

About 20 minutes before opening, the lines were split into two: one for those who already had their tickets, and those who had pre-ordered but not received their tickets or (like us) were buying their tickets at the door.

Of course, the doors opened, and line #1 head straight in. But the Ticketek computers weren't cooperating, so we were in line for another 20-odd minutes. None of the staff seemed to know what was going on, or how to fix it, or what to do in the meantime for the hundreds of people queuing up out the door waiting to give them money. Honestly, I've seen traffic jams that were better organised.

Eventually -- about 30 minutes after the doors were opened -- we got into the hall (and we were near the front of the queue). This was my first time at Armageddon, and I have to see, first impressions weren't too good. Several big names weren't there -- like Weta Studios, or Sony Playstation -- and the rest just felt like a third-rate country fair.

We wandered around a bit -- Shane and Eric buying DVDs, and me being very unimpressed. There were a couple of things that looked nice -- a miniature X-wing pilot's helmet, but at $129, it was a bit too expensive -- and the 501st Legion (Outpost 42) representatives looked impressive (Stormtroopers, Boba Fett, and a rather portly Garindan), although stormies with female breastplates are less impressive than the Emperor would possibly hope (at least the one I saw didn't have an exposed midriff).

Of course, being a pulp expo, there were plenty of people dressed in costumes. The influence of the new movie Twilight was evident: lots of teenage girls dressed as vampires, although somehow I doubt that vampires have problems with acne.

The only reason I had gone to Armageddon was for the guest stars, specifically, Peter Davison and Mark Strickson who had played the Fifth Doctor and Turlough (one of the Fifth Doctor's companions) on Doctor Who. To quote David Tennant in Time Crash, Peter Davison was "my Doctor" -- the only one who I remember from his first appearance in Castrovalva to his final one in Caves of Androzani. Both gave very interesting talks, recounting stories from their time on the show, as well as what they're up to now, and was worth the price of admission all on their own.

Overall, though, Armageddon was disappointing: poorly organised, short on big-card draws (apart from Davison and Strickson). Unless another Doctor or Companion turns up next year (or somebody just as interesting, like Peter Molyneux), I won't be going again.

11 March 2009

Why I will never deal with EB Games again.

Seven weeks ago, I went into EB Games in Cuba Mall, Wellington, looking for a copy of Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation. They only had a pre-owned copy, so I asked if they could get a new copy in. They looked in their computer, and found that the only new copies in all New Zealand were in Invercargill and Johnsonville. The bloke behind the counter called Johnsonville, and found that their copy was scratched. So he called Invercargill and asked for their copy to be transferred to Wellington. That done, I was told it might be a week or two because they were "in the middle of their stocktake".

Two weeks later, having not heard anything, I went back to Cuba Mall EB and ask what was happening. Without even looking at the computer, the bloke behind the counter (the same one who took my original order) told me it would be a week or two because they were "in the middle of stocktaking."

Another two weeks pass, and I go in again. This time, there's a different chap behind the counter, who helpfully tells me there's no record of my order. Annoyed, I ordered the game again, and once again, it'll "be a week or two".

Two weeks later, I go in. The order is in the computer, and the game is in transit -- should be in "next week".

Finally, I get a call yesterday saying that my game has arrived. When I went in to pick it up, it's a pre-owned copy (remember, I went through all this because I didn't want a pre-owned copy) with a battered case. Admittedly, they only wanted $85 for it (plus another $5 for "scratch insurance"), while it's selling for $120 new.

I did buy it -- and the damn scratch insurance -- because (a) I had a $25 voucher for EB, courtesy of my sister-in-law, and (b) I want to play the game, and didn't want to wait any longer. But I will never, ever again buy a game from Electronics Boutique, or even visit any of their stores.

My recommendation for buying games: MightyApe. We've had nothing but brilliant service from them, and their prices are usually on par -- or better -- with bricks-'n'-mortar stores. They also do books (the Watchmen comic for under $50.00? cool!), DVDs, and other odds and ends. And free delivery within New Zealand if your order is more than $50.00.

06 March 2009


As we were leaving Johnsonville tonight, we got on the motorway and accelerated up to 100 km/h. Just past the J'ville on-ramp, bright orange flash.

I'll be seriously annoyed if I get a ticket -- it was a 100 km/h zone, my speedometer was reading 100 km/h, and the Tomtom GPS was reading only 94 km/h. (When I go past those little info boxes that tell you how fast you're going, they always say I'm travelling around 5 km/h slower than what my speedo says.)


Wandered into the Electronics Boutique in Cuba Mall at lunchtime to see where a game I'd ordered 6 weeks ago was. Hasn't arrived yet -- will hopefully be here next week -- but at least they haven't lost the order like they had two weeks ago.

They also had posters up for the red X-box 360 (a limited edition bundled with Resident Evil 5), and it looks revolting. The Xbox looks really nice in black or white, but this is just plain icky.

05 March 2009

24 February 2009

Pixellated violence can be educational, too

Neat story on BoingBoing about a dad allowing his son to play Call of Duty on the condition that he adheres to the Geneva Convention. Really warms the cockles of my heart (what the heck are those, anyway?) to see a parent finding out what the game is about, and using it to educate his son -- much better than a kneejerk "no-it's-too-violent" reaction.

23 February 2009

Stop the press! Common sense breaking out!

So the infamous Section 92A of the Copyright Amendment Act is having its implementation "delayed". I didn't vote for National -- I don't trust them -- but I'm delighted to see John Key et al take a step back from implementing a poorly thought out law that (a) won't do what it's supposed to do, (b) breaches the fundamental innocent-until-proven-guilty principle that underpins our entire justice system, and (c) props up an irrelevant business model for the recording and movie industries, who seem to be led by people too lazy or too stupid (or both) to find an alternative.

And who's to blame for this? The former minister, the "Hon." Judith Tizard, who put Section 92A back in, even though the select committee had taken it out, and lectured anybody who dared suggest it might be a bad law, and generally looks like the recording industry's stool pigeon.

And here's an interesting factoid. According to TorrentFreak, here are the top 10 most downloaded movies of 2008, along with their worldwide grosses (from Wikipedia):

1. The Dark Knight (US$1,001,082,160)
2. The Incredible Hulk (US$263,427,064)
3. The Bank Job (US$63,754,550)
4. You Don't Mess With The Zohan (US$201,780,186)
5. National Treasure: Book of Secrets (US$457,363,168)
6. Juno (US$229,911,304)
7. Tropic Thunder (US$188,056,525)
8. I Am Legend (US$585,349,010)
9. Forgetting Sarah Marshall (US$105,173,115)
10. Horton Hears A Who! (US$297,041,149)

Yup, piracy's killing the movie industry....

28 January 2009

And off we go again...

Two more days, and then it's off to Bali. If at all possible, we'll keep this blog updated again.

24 January 2009

Bloody Pachelbel...

Ever wondered why some pieces of music sound the same. Rob Paravonian has a theory...

20 January 2009

Longer than Windows...

So I rebuilt my PC over the weekend, and I now have a new appreciation of the number of expansions and stuff packs for The Sims 2. One base game, eight expansion packs, nine stuff packs, and three hours it took me to reinstall everything! Even Windows didn't take that long!

Oh well, it was worth it. Without all the rubbish cluttering the system, it runs quite smoothly now. Even loading takes a lot less time than before.

13 January 2009


Had my first Warhammer battle in many years on Sunday, against my mate James: my Tomb Kings vs his Skaven (skeletons vs ratmen), 2200 points a side.

It was quite a slow game, with constant references to the rulebook to figure out how to do one thing or another, but in the end it was a minor victory to me (I won by 347 victory points -- if I had won by less than 300, it would have been a draw).

Much mirth and merriment had by me and James (and looks of bemusement from Juliette and James' partner Sarah), especially when:
  • My piddly little unit of 10 skeleton archers wiped the floor with James' Rat Ogres, which he'd sent down my left flank in an attempt to chew through the archers and get behind my army. Admittedly, the archers had poisoned weapons....
  • James forgot to ring his Screaming Bell in rounds 1 and 2.
  • Ringing said Screaming Bell in round 5 lead to James losing his Grey Seer general, the Bell, and two clanrats for good measure.
  • My Ushabti smashed through his slave unit, and overran into a clanrat unit.
  • James' warp lightning cannon doing little more than painting green light on various units.
  • Heavy cavalry skeletal steeds did more damage than their riders.
  • Chariot-pulling skeletal steeds did more damage than the chariot crew.
  • James forgot to deploy his plague censer bearers.
  • My chariots got slaughtered by James' giant rats.
  • Both my heavy cavalry and James' stormvermin got caught up in the terrain, and didn't contribute a lot to the battle.
Lots to think about for the next battle. My chariots have never been particularly effective, so I might replace them with a bone giant....

08 January 2009

It's been how long?!

Just had a look at my profile on Battletracker: the last time I played Battlefield 2 was 17 May 2008.

Almost as bad for Battlefield 2142: last played on-line on 19 May 2008.

It was about that time that Juliette discovered Facebook. Since then, darn near every waking moment, Facebook's been hogging our bandwidth. Kind of hard to make a sniper shot when you're stuttering along at 2fps!

03 January 2009

Happy New Year!

2009, eh? What can we expect?
  • Hopefully, I'll finish my undergrad studies at VUW.
  • Mafia II!
  • Possibly start thinking about trying for kids...
  • More D&D rulebooks...
  • Idiot right-wing policies from the National-led government (you know, like fixing the economic crisis by giving more money to the twats that caused the problems in the first place).
  • Mafia II!
I'm sure there's more, but that's all I can think of now.

Edit: Add "many more games of Warhammer" to the list.


gaming (32) youtube (12) internet (11) academia (7) xbox (7) gamedev (6) politics (6) Dungeons and Dragons (5) aviation (5) driving (5) family (5) law (5) movies (5) retro (5) star wars (5) RPG (4) health (4) holiday (4) books (3) copyright (3) doctor who (3) music (3) PC (2) flight sim (2) food and drink (2) journalism (2) armageddon (1) earthquake (1) football (1) language (1) parenting (1) pets (1) tattoos (1)