Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bioshock: First Impressions

Today I finally chucked Bioshock into my 360's disc drive for the first time.

I know, I know...like a year after it first came out...in fact, almost a year since I received it, which was last Christmas, but I've barely had time to game at all this year so it just sat on my shelf squished in between a couple of Avril Lavigne CDs and Viva Pinata.

Also, in case I haven't mentioned this enough, I suck at shooters. In fact, I am still on level two of Gears of War. My manager bought a 360 console three days ago with Gears and in less than 72 hours he's ALMOST FINISHED IT.

This is how much I suck.

Anyway...so I popped it in and sat through the opening bit, and was quite uninspired by the blocky cartoony graphics in the first five seconds in the plane...and then the plane crashed and there was fire on the water everywhere and I was blown away by the sparkles and the light dancing off the water surface.

And then I heard a pained scream as I accidentally swam my character into a wall of fire.

I only played for an hour so I'm still only at the Medical Pavilion- which I suppose is Level Two, or The-Level-After-the-Introductory-Level. The whole concept is just fascinating and the artwork and advertising is really really amazing but I am very very freaked out.

I haven't battled a Big Daddy and a Little Sister yet but I've seen them harvesting from the safety of a high beam.

And yup...still freaked out.

Favourite moment so far is finding a pool of water with two Splicers standing in it and using my electroshocky plasmid and frying everything in it.

Childish giggling ensued.

But not the kind of creepy Little Sister giggling...*shudder*

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What a Difference a Cable Makes...

Several months ago, I lost my precious little auxiliary cable.

I liked this cable. It was unique, and it was really pretty, because it was black with pretty red piping...and how many other auxiliary cables are that cute?

But then it went missing.

And instead of paying $6 to get another one, like any normal person would have done, I tried to hunt for a cheap one in the house. And so, as per usual, I ransacked my Dad's study to search for one.

My Dad's study is awesome. It's like a little tiny Bunnings. Whenever I need to find a screwdriver- of any size, shape or variety- he's got it. Whenever I need to use his multimeter, he's got like three of them. Plus AC adaptors. And international adaptors. And soldering stations. Oh, and lots and lots of cables.

On this occasion, I found two aux cables. The first one had this weird ridge and so I couldn't actually fit it in properly. The second one was flimsy, and cheap, and looked like it would break if I even thought about looking at it, but I used it anyway (my car has an aux/MP3 jack...all the better to hear Jigga with.)

And it worked. Up until recently, when I was listening to Flo Rida and one of the sound channels seemed to drop out in my car.

Resulting in:


"She's stuck on....*static*....my...*static*...my elevatoooor...."

For a horrible moment, I thought my iPod had finally lost it- it's been on the blink recently- but I jiggled the cable and Flo Rida's voice boomed out, then faded.

This made me sad. Because I'm one of those people who can't stand silence in the car...or stand hearing commercial radio play Miley Cyrus for the umpteenth time...even if the journey is only seven minutes.

So I decided to get a nice premium cable from work instead.

Among other things, this cable- in its stupid, STUPID VACUUM PACKAGING WHICH TOOK FIFTEEN MINUTES TO SLICE OPEN- claims to have 'strain relief', 'gold plated tips' and 'easy grip metal connectors'.

So roughly, you'd pay $14 more* just to have a bigger pluggy thing, gold tips and the assurance that it won't kink when tossed around in your handbag. (Yes, I keep a lot of random things in my handbag. Including cables.)

But...when I actually hooked it up...

...the sound quality was GOOD.


I was shocked.

You actually DO get what you pay for.

Either that, or I'm just experiencing the technological version of the placebo effect.

*I didn't pay full price, but I guess there's some justification to the price difference if you do...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Self-Made Net Nanny

Procrastination has risen to an all-time high, so I have taken drastic measures.

After some deep soul-searching that took all of twenty seconds, I have finally whittled my procrastination methods down to five main categories:

1. Raiding the pantry
2. Piano
4. DVDs (I have abandoned this practice after watching an episode of Supernatural the other night which featured a ghost with her throat slit open. Not a good idea at 1:00 a.m when you're about to go to sleep.)

But the worst, worst, WORST category is:


Thus, I have taken drastic action.

Even though I'm probably the only person who actually prefers IE7 over Firefox, I have set Firefox as my default browser, and installed a nifty little add-on called LeechBlock.

basically blocks you from sites that you waste time on. It's like saving you from yourself and the worthless minutes of total unproductivity that stem from surfing the web. With LeechBlock, you can nominate sites that you waste time on and block them completely. You can also cause certain sites to shut down access after a nominated period of time- for example, I've set Facebook to shut off after 5 minutes. You can even set an option that will stop yourself from changing the blocking settings during that period (so if you crack and attempt to reset LeechBlock, you're blocked from doing that too.)

Only problem is that most of the time I access the internet from Live Messenger, which is of course affiliated with IE7 as part of Microsoft, and I'd rather not mess with those settings. I have, however, unpinned IE7 from the Start menu (or whatever the stupid Vista icon thing is now).

Luckily I only have two browsers, to the temptation to circumvent myself is lessened somewhat.

Now let's just see how long it takes me to crack.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Daphne's Wish List

1. Star Wars: Force Unleashed
2. Rise of the Argonauts
3. Mortal Kombat v DC Universe
4. Lips
5. Guitar Hero IV: World Tour
6. Spore

Now to print it out and stick it on the fridge before Christmas :D

Friday, September 19, 2008

Ode to My 360

On the 7th of April, 2007 at 7:01 p.m, I bought my Xbox 360.

This was a momentous occasion for me as it was basically the most money I had ever ever spent on anything.

(The financial magnitude of this was squished rather dramatically when I purchased my first car four months later.)

I tend to wax lyrical about my 360, which I'm sure must get very, very annoying to my long-suffering peers, but oh, the love I have for that little piece of plastic hardware. Warm summer nights at 12 a.m playing Assassins Creed. Late-night missions in Mass Effect with giant scorpion alien things that shoot acid. Clutching the controller to my chest and going, "Awwwww...." my Commander Shepard finally declared her love for Kaidan Alenko (followed by a very visual consummation of that love which certainly earned the MA15+ rating). Weekends with my Scene It! controllers in fierce competition with my cousins. Sweating in the summer heat while jumping around maniacally on a Dance Dance Revolution mat. Hitting brightly coloured pinatas over the head with a shovel with Kris, then feeling immediately guilty at their helplessness.

And the funny thing is, what spurred my decision to buy a next-gen console was that fact that The Force Unleashed had been announced- on every platform but PC.

So if the mountain won't come to Mohammed, Mohammed will...buy the mountain.

And IN A CRUEL TWIST OF IRONY, when The Force Unleashed comes out, what does my XBox do?



I rang Microsoft today. Microsoft apparently seem to enjoy employing Indian consultants with really really bad American accents.

Nevertheless, 'Nancy' was happy to process my repair, although my heart did sink when she said, "I'm just going to take you through some troubleshooting..."

She told me to turn the console on, wait ten seconds, and turn it off. I politely explained that I had done three test runs the night before doing exactly that, had checked both the status of the power supply and the AV cables, removed the hard drive and retested it, and totally confirmed that it had RROD'ed.

She said, "Oh."

Then she said, "How did you know how to do all that? Did you visit the website?"

I mentioned that I sell 360s at work. What I didn't tell her was that I'd spent part of my afternoon clutching my Xbox to my chest, rocking it back and forth telling it everything would be fine. I probably shouldn't have done this while I had a guest in the house- Sarah looked positively fearful- but she's used to my madness.

So I'm sending my little one to Chullora. Hopefully they can fix the fault, although this is what happens when you designate manufacturing to three shoddy Chinese factories and use crappy heatsinks. Hopefully I'll get it back just in time for after-exams.

To quote Ned Flanders..."God speed, little doodle."

Monday, August 18, 2008

Things You Don't Expect To Hear When Talking About Networks...

Customer: I'm looking to get an ethernet cable, maybe 20 metres long.
Me: Sorry, we've only got up to 15.
Customer: That's okay, I can join two of them together with one of those- what do you call those little things?
Me: An RJ45 coupler?
Customer: Yeah, that's it- hmm, that sounds really kinky doesn't it? 'Coupler' sounds like it's some kind of weird sex toy.
Me: Yeah, we don't really sell sex toys in the store...

In future, remind me to call those things 'joiners' and not 'couplers'...

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Toner is IN the printer...?

Today, I had another one of those terrific phone conversations where people treat me as technical support.

News flash: I am not.

Whenever I buy something, I don't generally ring up the place I bought it from and make them walk me through the process of what is clearly laid out in the instruction manual. Surely, you would actually ring the manufacturer who pays people to act as specialised tech support, rather than a store that has only four staff working per day? It's like buying bedsheets, then ringing up Target asking for washing instructions.

Seems harsh? Quite a few of the queries I get could be solved with a simple search in Google or a look at the troubleshooting manual. I don't mind it when customers come in with mild troubleshooting questions, or if they bring in their instruction manuals wanting to know the best way to connect their equipment. But making me act as your tech support on the phone? No. I have better things to do with my $13/hr. Like spray isopropyl on everything.

This is what transpired today:

"Hi. We purchased a printer from your store this morning."
"Oh, okay. And?"

"We can't get it to work."
"What seems to be the problem?"
"It's just not printing."
"Okay. Have you inserted the toner?"
"The what?"
"The toner. That big black thing that came in the packaging."

"What's a toner?"

Five minutes later...

"Look at the top of the box where it says CONTENTS. THERE SHOULD BE A PICTURE OF THE TONER."
"I don't see it."
"Okay....there's a picture of the printer. And a picture of the manual. And two cables. And next to it there's this great ugly thing that is a picture of the toner cartridge."

Five minutes later...

"Can you open the lid for me?"
"How do I do that?"
"Just...open the top. Pretend the laser printer is a top-loading washing machine. Just open the top."
"I can't see it."

Five minutes later...

"I can't get the lid shut."
"Have you snapped the toner in place?"
"Which bit is the toner?"


Five minutes later...

"Please stop thinking of this printer as an inkjet printer. THE TONER IS LIKE ONE FOOT LONG. IT IS NOT A LITTLE CARTRIDGE. BIG. BLACK. PLASTIC. THING."

Two minutes later...

"Look, I really cannot act as technical support for 20 minutes on the phone- I have customers to serve and HP have a support line that should be open tomorrow."
"But I need to print today."
"Well, if you give me your number I can call you back in 15 minutes when the store isn't quite so busy."
"But I'm going out in the afternoon. I won't be home."

Oh, gee. Sorry I can't fit into your schedule, ma'am.

Two minutes later, I had managed to extract myself from the gruelling conversation, during which I tried to stab myself with a blue biro in front of my colleague.

After I'd put the phone down, I turned to face the next customer who had caught the last five minutes of my barely repressed laser toner rage.

The customer looked at me, and smiled a little sheepishly before he said:

"Um, I know this is the last thing you want to hear...but I need help with a printer."