Archive for October, 2007

Guitar Hero 3

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

Picked up Guitar Hero 3 (on PS2) today. I got it with the (wireless) guitar since I have one wireless guitar already, and it supports co-op play apparently.

It’s not bad. But discounting for a moment the song list, it’s not quite as good as the first two. Just in little ways, everything about it is slightly, if not worse, then different enough to jar the familiarity. For example, the boot time and the load and save times seem slightly longer. Legal screens and brand movies seem to have multiplied. In a move reminiscent of Microsoft, the in-game graphics have changed, not for the better, but seemingly just to be different. It now shows the number of notes in your current streak, which is nice, but it also changes the rock meter to discrete bulbs, so I’m not sure now how much effect my whammy bar has during held star notes. The beat and measure lines are less distinguishable, which makes it harder for me to read/intuit the timing.

The guitar itself is good, with just a small amount of wobble in the neck (this guitar is in two parts – the neck snaps into the body) which is unnoticeable during gameplay. The wail tilt switch seems more sensitive than my other one. And for some reason, the start and select buttons have been moved under the whammy bar, making them difficult to hit when a quick pause is needed.

All this is by the wayside of course: the main thing is the song list. And the song list is, once more, solid. Not stellar, but solid. It’s fun, even if Sunshine of Your Love is a cover, and someone thought Paint It Black was a better idea than Jumping Jack Flash, and there’s still no AC/DC or Led Zeppelin.

The other thing that Neversoft added was the boss battles with Tom Morello and Slash. Frankly, they needn’t have bothered. This game isn’t about boss battles. It’s about the songs. Once completed, the boss battles are discarded to my memory card.

I’m currently about 15 songs through campaign mode on Medium.

Wrap party

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

Friday night was the wrap party for the latest game we put out, so after a pre-party relaxation hour we headed down to Santa Monica for an evening of socialising. The usual snack fare and open bar was there; also karaoke. This was run by a couple of girls who I guess have a regular thing there; they had the laptop and sound system hookup and they were pretty good singers, filling in to keep the party going when other folks were too shy to sing. My friend Doox was first up to the mic and turned out to be quite the karaoke phenomenon. My mind went blank, of course, as the book of 10,000 songs was pressed into my hand: it doesn’t help that all the songs I really score well on on Karaoke Revolution are by Britney Spears.

So I allowed myself to be persuaded to start with White Wedding. I say start, because once you start, you can’t stop, and I was up a few more times (likewise multiple songs were done by the rest of the small crew of people prepared to sing in front of their co-workers). I felt I had to do some British bands, so I chose I’ve Just Seen a Face by the Beatles, I duetted with my friend Jimmy on Under Pressure (he was quite drunk by then and made an excellent F. Mercury) and I finished my lot with Madness’ It Must Be Love.

Crept in at around 11.30 and managed not to wake up mini-Elbeno and the memsahib.

Building a MAME cabinet 14

Saturday, October 27th, 2007

I have three things left to do before I start assembly:

  • Fit ledgers for the monitor shelf
  • Fit the keyboard tray runners
  • Stain and varnish the sides

Although I ordered the monitor last Saturday, it hasn’t arrived yet. I’ll probably get it early next week. So for the moment I’m holding back on the precise positioning of the monitor shelf. Today I did some staining with Danish Oil.

Staining one side

Although Danish Oil is a complete finishing solution, I’m going to varnish on top because it will better disguise splintery parts, I think it will be harder-wearing, and it will be a better finish for applying decals, should I want to.

For the keyboard tray height problem, I’m going to fit the new ultra-slim apple keyboard. A friend at work has one; the whole thing is under 3/4″ high.

Wildfires in Socal again

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

Well, I’ve had a few emails and IMs from friends and family asking if we were OK and everything, what with the coverage that the wildfires seem to be getting. So let me put your minds at rest and say that the fires are not really near us. That’s not to say that they haven’t affected us – the hot Santa Ana winds kicked in last weekend and the humidity plunged. Saturday was a nice high 60s Fahrenheit, and Sunday was more like mid 80s. On top of that, of course the air quality has been terrible the last few days, so in addition to the sudden oppressive heat, an orange haze has covered everything, and I’ve been waking up in the morning feeling a bit like I was in a smoky bar the previous night.

I think the Santa Anas have slackened off now, and the radio reports are that the fires are getting contained, so hopefully the tide has turned and by next week things will have, literally, blown over.

Building a MAME cabinet 13

Sunday, October 21st, 2007

Did a bit more today. I clamped the sides together again and sanded the corners round, so that the t-molding will follow a nice contour. Then I pre-drilled the monitor ledgers. I haven’t actually positioned them yet because I just ordered the monitor yesterday: a Samsung 204B will be the display for this cabinet.

I am pondering my keyboard tray arrangement: it seems like I don’t have a lot of room under the control panel to slide the keyboard. So I may have to make adjustments to figure that out. What I need is a very low profile keyboard, perhaps.

I also cut some boards: the top, the speaker board, and the monitor shelf. Because I’m opting to make my cabinet 28″ wide for extra control panel space and a square footprint, I have to be a little careful about my choice of cuts. I only bought 3 4’x8′ sheets of oak ply, and two of them already had the sides cut from them. Allowing the two 3/4″ sides, the other boards are 26-1/2″ wide, which means (unlike a smaller width cabinet, say 2′) they don’t fit 2 side-by-side on a 48″ wide sheet. So I have a bit of a knapsack problem going on to make sure I can get the sizes I need from the remaining wood. But luckily it’s not too hard of a problem, because I only really have 3 “big” boards: the lower front, the back angle and the back. And the lower back of the cabinet will be open.

Next step is to stain and varnish the sides (which are now complete otherwise) and wait for the monitor to arrive.

I’m not with Comcast…

Saturday, October 20th, 2007

…but apparently they sent RSTs both ways. And I wouldn’t put it past my ISP to forcibly reset Bittorrent connections either. So I’ve told my firewall to drop BIttorrent TCP packets with the RST bit set. The question is, when will ISPs understand the two fundamentals of the situation, viz. 1) I’ve paid for my bandwidth and I’m entitled to use it, 2) Bittorrent traffic isn’t all about teenagers downloading copyrighted material – what about Linux distributions, game patches, etc?

The library project continues

Friday, October 19th, 2007

Another bookshelf done. I’m up to 1209 books by 142 authors, spanning 53 distinct years.

Gutsified

Wednesday, October 17th, 2007

Well, I decided to beat the crowd and go ahead and install Gutsy Gibbon before the official release (tomorrow). Everything is fine, nothing is ruined. Some fonts changed in a minor way, and the default desktop background changed, and now I have a whole lot of updated packages. For instance, Gaim is now finally Pidgin.

Games Library

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007

My games library (excluding stuff in the basement) is now online, thanks to Tellico.

Excessive damages

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007

I read that Jammie Thomas has appealed against the punishment (a $220,000 fine) in her case vs. Sony BMG, Arista Records LLC, Interscope Records, UMG Recordings Inc., Capitol Records Inc. and Warner Bros. Records Inc. It seems to me there is a simple way to compute the actual damages in this case: simply do the bandwidth calculation. Assume some figures: a 256Kb/s upload, average mp3 file size of 5MB. Then take the ISP logs to show how long she had that IP address lease (let’s say a week). This puts an upper bound on the number of songs she can possibly have distributed. According to my calculations this is:

(256*1024 * 7*60*60*24) / (8*5*1024*1024) = 3780.

And at a dollar per song on (pick your download service) that brings the maximum actual damages to $3780.