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A Man in the Sky Told Me to Mutilate Little Boys and Girls Genitals

Catchy title hey? But be realistic, 1/3rd of the worlds population are saying this when following their faith and consider it ACCEPTABLE.

I thought I’d introduce you all to a podcast on iTunes I have been listening to recently; it breaks from the normal boring preachy atheist that causes me to troll them and call atheism a religion.

In one edition it even touches on female genital mutilation, although falls short of male genital mutilation which to date has very few scientific arguments (less in this century than any other), but is more a culture of “If I am, my son should be,” thus passing on an abusive act which somewhere stemmed from pseudoscience, paranoia, or a pact with some fictional deity.

That being said, I want to go on record to Jews and Muslims out there. Any ‘god’ that says hey to follow me you have to live by a lifestyle akin to a bunch of old wives tails, oh, and you have to slice half your knob off … dude, you just run, ok?

You do not stay and chat, you do not humor it, you run because clearly it’s batshit insane and evil.

If your god created us perfect, why would you take a scalpel to little boys and girls? Fuck mutilators, fuck religious zealots.

So, take a moment to sit down and have a listen through:

Reasonable Doubts Podcast
doubtcast.org
Other
40 Ratings

(Live link broke, WordPress of iPad lacks HTML support, will update live later.)

iTunes for Mac and Windows
Copyright © 2011 Apple Pty Ltd. All rights reserved

Posted: July 7th, 2011
Categories: consumer reviews, critical thought, op ed, podcasts, rant, reviews, science
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New WoW ‘free trial’ So Restricted It May Doom New Sales @blizzardcs

(Addendum: If you’re a Blizzard customer service rep reading this, as I’m unsure if you guys DO read public relations issues like you should given that you’re a faceless American corporation where consumer rights are considered a mamby pamby thought experiment like communism, I wish to inform you my reader demographic broke 9 million yesterday, with 100k cascading viewers across all social networks. Keep this in mind when realising what a PR kick to the balls this issue is from my keyboard to my viewers eyes alone. So seriously, pick your fucking game up guys.)

Below is an article from Fairfax outlining the changes to WoW’s 14 day free trial becoming unlimited. I was chatting to a journalist about it, when we discovered the restrictions on accounts was … well, patently absurd.

The 14 day free trial restrictions were moronic, as you REALLY couldn’t experience anything that most of us consider main reasons to play as it was.

The new system, while it sounds good (unlimited free play) has the most absurd restrictions I’ve ever imagined could be imposed. You can’t even /tell, or participate in general chat, or /say apparently. You can’t join a guild, or parties unless they’re lowbier than you. You can’t do much of anything.

The reason this is so bothersome I’m posting about it is, WoW needs new blood. EVERY expansion their membership growth rate has HALVED, and player retention is unspectacular.

I run an extremely large guild (follow us @malleusvindicta or take a peek at our website and ask for an add if you play on US-Moon Guard), I’m an objective play by numbers kind of guy. I’ve seen more people leave the game of age and lifestyle enough to fund ongoing play than join which means one eternal thing.

Blizzard’s World of Warcraft is bleeding both cash and players.

What does this mean to players? It likely means they’ll find ways to make the game more of a grind, so everything takes longer. They’ll likely break a demographic class beyond repair for a few months causing you to rage and roll a new character (ie: hunters broken during every expansion to date, druids … well, always crap) to escape the horrors.

As it is you grind to end game, grind all your faction rep up, grab that gear to grind a charity tier, use that to grind a full tier, then bam, new tier, grind grind grind grind bloody grind. It’s like a twisted Skinner box experiment without cheese as a reward.

My recommendation to Blizzard is, pick up your game, let them experience WoW properly, perhaps limit trading and partying with people too high a level above. For the instigating article, read below.

Ps: It’d be nice if you allowed us to PURCHASE level 85 status with in game stuff or even bloody cash, I don’t have the time to level a new 85 every time you ruin my classes in question, and you can kill the power-leveling industry you so seem to hate (even though it causes longer player duration, and gold sales balance your very VERY poor concept of an economy) and will allow us to not have to spend several months of the year just grinding through the same boring crap grinds.

 

THAT impenetrable fortress of online gaming, World of Warcraft, has made a concession to the free-to-play hordes that gather in an effort to chip away at the empire – it’s also free.

At least, WoW‘s new Starter Edition is free.

Replacing a more customary 14-day trial and scrubbing its time limit, the Starter Edition nonetheless carries over the trial’s restrictions.

In place of a time limit is instead a cap that halts character progression at level 20 out of a possible 85.

Coincidentally, it takes about two weeks playing a couple of hours each day to reach level 20, but on the other hand, those with the Starter Edition can grind out as many sub-20 characters as they like.

So what can’t they do? Well, the social experience is significantly diminished: there’s no voice or public chat, no guilds, no item trading (a key part of WoW‘s internal economy), and Starter users are prevented from creating or joining parties that contain members over the level 20 threshold.

Oh, and there’s a wealth limit of 10 gold – but that’s actually a decent amount in WoW terms.

For now at least, WoW remains steadfastly focused on converting new players into paid subscribers, bundling in the Burning Crusade expansion for those that pony up.

Other massively multiplayer games (MMOs) that become free-to-play – Lord of the Rings Online, Champions Online, and (soon) LEGO Universe and City of Heroesmake money by means of an in-game shop that offers extra items and quests, with optional premium memberships taking the place of a subscription tier.

Some, like Allods Online and Vindictus, launch as free-to-play from the off.

Guild Wars 2 will require a one-time retail purchase only; and then there are the brave few, such as RIFT, that pursue a fully fledged subscription model in an effort to beat the 12-million subscriber WoW at its own game.

Read more: http://www.news.com.au/technology/gaming/world-of-warcraft-finally-hitcches-a-ride-on-the-free-to-play-bandwagon/story-e6frfrt9-1226084867336#ixzz1QjtHYUde
Posted: June 30th, 2011
Categories: game reviews, games, rant, reviews, warcraft economics, world of warcraft
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iTunes U, Education in the Digital Age

Most of you know I’m a bit on the nerdy side, my academic peen is huge and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t actively seek to learn a few new things. From the arts to sciences, from landscaping to mechanics, or aeronautics to gaming I proactively seek to hone my skills in every field that catches my interest.

That being said, I can also be a bit of a dolt and in this case was entirely slow of faculty. I discovered iTunes U, I entirely forgot Americans abbreviate university to U (outside the US the common abbreviation is ‘uni’) and expected the U to be oriented around the selfishness of Web 2.0 with everything being self centered, my, u, etc included.

I was surprised to find that it has a mass of lecturers from various uni’s around the globe! My days will no longer have lulls of boredom within them, it really has a mass of interesting lectures to download and listen to from all around the world.

I can’t help but be amazed that I can gain insight from uni lecturers from the middle east, or listen to student workgroups from Russia discussing and covering any number of topics.

So, if you have an iPhone or iPad, I highly recommend cashing in on this free cache of information and wealth of knowledge. This is what the Internet was designed and meant for, it is absolutely brilliant and humbling in a way to see the milestone if where it has, with the help of the sage like prophets of technology and the digital church of awesome, come full circle.

Get downloading and get educated. It’s cool to be smart now, when the dumb kids realized all us nerds are what makes the world go around and that they bask in the technology and science brought about by their victims of bullying and the shunned geeky types in the world.

Expand your mind and you will also expand your future and potential as a human being.

Travel Tips Every Traveler Should Know

I found a twee little article by the ironically named Doc Holiday in relation to holiday tips everyone should know before they’re 40. It brough a smile to my face, so I figured I should share it with you guys. <3

DESPITE our relative geographic isolation, Australians are among the best travelled race on earth.

With Asia on our doorstep, we are a relatively easy half-day, overnight and jet-lag free flight away. And the strength of the Australian dollar means than more of us can travel to more places.

There’s also no more experienced a group of travellers than the intrepid Generation X, many of whom are now approaching 40, with half-a-lifetime of globe-trotting behind them.

It made me wonder what you should know by the time you’ve reached that milestone, now that you have all that experience under your money-belt.

Australia is not the centre of the universe
Some people still don’t even know where it is. You know to presume ignorance.

Not risking getting sick
You’ve stared into enough toilet bowls by now. Follow the tenets of healthy eating and drinking when travelling, especially in the third world: boil it, peel it, cook it – or forget it.

Never enter an Australian-themed pub
Anywhere.

The best Irish theme pubs are in Ireland
The Irish will appreciate you visiting them considering the dire state of their economy.

Knowing how to use chopsticks
You’d be surprised how impressed the Asians (especially the Japanese) are when you display real skill with these eating utensils (and how pitying they can be when you ask for cutlery).

How not to be fleeced
By now you’ve probably been victim to at least one scam in your travelling life and can spot a fraudster from a mile away.

Dressing appropriately
Leave your shirt on at all times on when not on a beach or near a swimming pool. The locals will appreciate it, and may even expect it.

Not looking like a tourist
You’ll be taken more seriously and melt into the crowd. Remember that most people dislike, even despise, tourists, particularly in places where the annual number of visitors can out-number the local actual population.

Not behaving like a tourist
See above. Every country has it loud-mouthed, drunken tourists. Don’t be one of Australia’s representatives.

Knowing that you shouldn’t travel without travel insurance
You’ve heard all of the horror stories and know you’d be mad to risk your luck.

Remembering not to eat and drink too much on a plane
You’ve already had enough jet-lag in your life and realise you don’t need to eat and/or drink everything offered to you or put in front of you.

BYO toilet paper
You never want to get caught out again after that horror Indian/Chinese/Russian train carriage toilet experience.

You don’t need to see everything
Tear up the checklist. Rome wasn’t seen in a day.

Travel is never really a waste of money
Even when you get the credit card bill when you get home (though watch those global roaming charges).

Getting lost is not a bad thing
In fact, in can be fun, illuminating and by now you’re experienced enough as a traveller to find your way back.

How to pack
Your clothes are better now than when you were 21. Be kind to them.

Not trying to be the first person off the plane
Relax, no one’s ever been imprisoned for life on a plane.

Be considerate
You are a guest in another country. Behave like one, unless badly and unreasonably provoked.

Not to queue interminably
Madame Tussauds was never really worth the wait.

Know when to stop haggling
Arguing over the equivalent of 50 cents is not a good look for someone from a nation as rich as Australia, even if you’re on a budget holiday.

Look beyond the tourist zone
Some of the most rewarding travel experiences can be as close as a street or two from the crowded main tourist drag (example: the streets immediately surrounding Barcelona’s Las Ramblas).

Immunisations before travel can save your life
Boring but true. Keep a record of them and keep them up to date for every trip.

Consider government travel warnings
… but you weigh them up based on your own judgement, knowledge and experience

Do your research
You owe it to yourself and the destination you’ve visiting

You wear a motor-cycle helmet
You wouldn’t go without one at home so why do it in another country? Brain-surgery in Laos is to be avoided.

Not to worry/panic when things go wrong
By now you’re a seasoned traveller and can handle pretty much anything and realise that it all adds to your experience (except if a jet engine explodes mid-flight when you’re allowed to panic).

How to tip
It’s really not worth being chased down a street by an irate American waiter just because you don’t believe in tipping.

Learn at least a little of the local lingo
It’s always appreciated, and a good ice-breaker.

That a smile goes a long way
Except in countries such as Russia where they’ll just think you’re crazy

Not to give money to beggars
Hard as it can be to ignore them, it just perpetuates the practice.

Knowing that you don’t need a photo of everything
Who cares if the traffic lights are different than back at home?

You still have more than 40 years to perfect yourself as a traveller
Chances are you’ll be living to 80, and may well beyond, with a whole rest of the world left to see.

Read Doc Holiday’s weekly travel advice column Escape lift-out in all News Ltd Sunday papers. Send Doc Holiday questions to doc@docholiday.com.au

Read more: http://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-advisor/things-every-traveller-should-know-before-theyre-40/story-fn6sg2rl-1226061066555#ixzz1N8oLF6gO

Posted: May 23rd, 2011
Categories: general, lifestyle, pop culture, reviews
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Real Life Functional AT-AT Walker

AUSTRALIA’S status as the world capital of Big Things is under attack.

In February, the citizens of Detroit successfully lobbied for a giant statue of RoboCop to keep its crims in line.

In the same week, news broke that a three-metre tall Arnold Schwarzenegger statue will stand guard outside the Governator’s former home in Thal, Austria.

Both of which kick Robertson’s giant poo-tato and Ballina’s prawn to the kerb when it comes to cool icons for your country.

And now you can add — possibly, unless George Lucas hears of it — a lifesize, fully-functioning replica of a Galactic Empire AT-AT walker to the countryside somewhere in Oklahoma, if Mike Koehler gets his way.

Note fully-functioning — not like that static tat at Disneyland’s Hollywood theme park.

The 16m tall (some nerds experts put them at 23m) All Terrain Armoured Transports featured most famously in the attack on the Rebel forces’ secret base on Hoth in Empire Strikes Back, where one tripped over a bit of rope and exploded.

Another one makes a cameo in Return of the Jedi after a smaller version — an AT-ST — gets smashed by monkeys with logs.

But they look fearsome enough and Mr Koehler has been given the green light by online fundraiser Kickstarter to begin collecting cash to realise his dream.

It’s called AT-AT for America and Mr Koehler’s welcoming any offers of help or donations.

We chatted to him about why his country needs it…

Why did you choose a symbol of the Empire’s destructive capabilities to represent the US?

The AT-AT is not so much a representation of the US as it is a monument to what geek culture and its know-how has done for people in the country and, as I am quickly learning, folks all over the world. The can-do and cooperative spirit that nerdy pop culture has inspired can’t be overlooked in the past 30, 40, 50 years.

I wanted to make something that was: A) Doable. Fast-than-light and force field technology made many options unrealistic. B) Big enough to be awe-inspiring. Many people have made R2 units and Back to the Future Deloreans. The AT-AT is 50-feet tall.

If it proves too difficult, do you have any smaller scale Star Wars projects in mind?

I guess we could do one of the smaller scout walkers, but that seems like copping out.

If it proves easy, would you consider building a Death Star?

The Death Star would involve too much red tape I’m afraid, unless I could get Richard Branson on board.

The original AT-ATs had some notable design flaws. How will you Ewok-proof it?

No Ewoks will be allowed around the build sites. Sharpened logs will also be strictly prohibited. We are working towards some strong anti-log technology.

Have you had any interest from Mythbusters et al?

No word yet from the Mythbusters, though I hope as we continue to build momentum that we will get a lot of help from some of our geek heroes. When I first thought of this, my ideal project managers were Adam and Jamie.

If Detroit can get a RoboCop statue, maybe you should pitch your AT-AT for a permanent public space…

Once we’re done, I would like for the AT-AT to find some place nice to be housed and admired as a monument. Since it will be fully operational, people will be able to ride it. It would be an art piece on par with the Statue of Liberty, but with the ability to mosey around the block.

Have you had any cease and desist orders from George Lucas yet?

We have not heard from Lucasfilm yet, though there is that expectation. All I can say is that we won’t be making any money off this project, we consider it a public work of art and we would gladly locate it where ever Mr Lucas would like us to. This is a testament to how many dreams his work and other work like his has inspired in people my age and younger.

Will you live in it once it’s finished?

No, I won’t live in it.

Can I?

You can’t live inside it, though you are welcome to string a hammock between its knees.

Is there ever a chance that such a monolithic, relentless corporate machine could ever be seen in Australia?

Given enough support and volunteers, the AT-AT, like Oprah, would be happy to visit Australia.

 

Related Coverage

Duke Nukem Forever Review

Duke Nukem Forever is coming. The long argued vaporware game has had it’s ups and downs to the point of becoming almost memetic by reputation alone. But it’s recent application for classification in Australia has led to a nice juicy leak of information that we can use to sum up what’s in store for us as gamers! And you guessed right if you guessed more sex, drugs, violence and toilet humour.

Below are the moments of most interest to Australian classifications censor dicks, spoiler alert btw. If you want to read the full review, you can find the report here (PDF).

Themes

An example of crude humour includes playable elements which enable Duke to “piss” and “throw” faeces.

In various bathroom locations throughout the game, the player can have Duke “piss” in urinals and on occasion, in these same venues can also pick up faecal matter from a toilet bowl and throw it about.

Dialogue contains various crude reference to “pissing” and when throwing faecal matter Duke is heard to utter “what sick motherf—er picks up wet faeces” and “what am I? A monkey?”

The Board also notes the player ability, in a final climactic scene when Duke kills the alien general, to implicitly urinate into the defeated creature’s eye socket.

Violence

The game contains violence that is strong in impact and justified by context. Constant battle with robot-like alien creatures is present throughout the game and is therefore strong in viewing impact.

Battles incorporate the use of futuristic weapons such as a Freeze Ray, Shrink Ray, other super-sized guns, grenade launchers and hand-to-hand combat.

In one of the game levels, Duke enters an alien lair to “rescue” kidnapped Earth women who have been implicitly impregnated by the alien enemy.

These women are rendered with a mannequin-like appearance, and appear torso nude and partially cocooned either suspected from a cave-like roof or against walls.

In order to “spare” the women’s suffering Duke has the ability to shoot the women resulting in small blood bursts. Those he does not shoot are seen implicitly exploding as the alien “baby” matures.

Sex

The game contains implied sexual activity that is strong in impact.

In the level Duke Lives, the player sees a first person perspective of Duke’s lounge room, as he implicitly sits on a couch, playing a computer game on a big screen TV.

Off-screen, sexual noises are heard and the shot widens to reveal two women rising up from a kneeling position just below Duke’s waist line. Fellatio is implied as the women wipe their mouths and giggle.

In the level Titty City, Duke enters a strip club where he meets a stripper who invites him to locate (among other items) a vibrator and a condom.

In the men’s toilet, Duke can enter a toilet cubicle with what appears to be a “glory hole” in the cubicle wall. A cartoon image of a woman’s face is on the wall with a hole evident in the drawing’s mouth and the word “Yum” beside it.

Upon the successful completion of this level, Duke is given a “special” lap-dance by the stripper. The breast nude female is depicted in a first person perspective implicitly gyrating on Duke’s lap.

The Board notes a facility also exists for the player to “jiggle” the stripper’s breasts during this scene.

Posted: March 31st, 2011
Categories: consumer reviews, game reviews, games, nsfw, pop culture, reviews, sci-fi
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Shut @iPhone Dictionary Ducking with Your Words? (Workaround for the Secret Blacklist!)

For quite some time I’ve been nerdraging about the epic fail of the iPhone dictionary, it’s so prolific it’s a ducking meme, there’s entire sites devoted to how shit it is. Apple seem to flat out disregard user complaints on the subject. Earlier versions of iOS would learn after three declined word suggestions, or by re-writing the red underlined word.

After iOS 4ish, I noticed a distinct lack of it’s ability or willingness to learn new words, be they profanity or otherwise. You’d have to re-write a word and decline auto-suggests dozens of times for it to learn something SIMPLE but profanity, nope. No go. It just WOULD NOT work.

After extensive research (see: my legs went numb so I got off the toilet) on the subject, I discovered many ‘work around’ suggestions, most were dated and for older versions. I messed around with several and found the one sure way to duck that iPhone shut right off once and for all, and found TWO very good ways, one a solid performer and the other an INSTANT WIN.

ADD the profanity as a CONTACT in your contacts section. It’s irritating and frustrating but it finally let’s you use naughty words. (Edit: After typing in a metric fucktonne of words, I only just tested adding multiple words to one entry. It works effectively. However, you WILL get strange looks when people see your contact list!)

HOWEVER! There are some words it will still not recognise. It appears as though there’s a black list tier level, black listed words when added as contacts and / or retyped a gazillion times are still b& from your iPhone.

I added every profanity and pseudo-profanity I could think of, it still red underlines ‘cunt’ but the rest are fine. On racial epithets however it will force change ‘nigger’ to ‘bigger’ yet is an equal opportunity racist, it auto-changes ‘kyke’ to Kyle and ‘kike’ to like, it also red-underlines ‘cracka’ even if stored as a contact. I actually had to hit the wiki article of racial epithets to find more creative varying ones to test and EVERY single racial slur in existence is double blacklisted even when added as a contact.

Apple are not so kind to people of non-straight persuasions, with ‘faggot’ or ‘poof’ working, ‘dyke’ and various others all work, however GAY does not work. The one NON-offensive thing gets changed to ‘gag’ half the time.

I decided to tinker with the inner workings of my iPhone to look into this a bit more, so I took a peek at in/private/var/mobile/Library/Keyboard, there’s a file called dynamic-text.dat which has most of the plain text words it has to give special attention to and tells the auto-correct to lay off being a dick with or even suggest or accept the spelling. To test the manual update I tried the notes application instead, and started trying to add random words (nonsensical ones) to see how long it took to learn. I found that it wouldn’t. After typing pages of shit, the last modified date of my dynamic-text.dat file was my earlier edit.

-rw------- 1 mobile mobile 1244 Mar 19 20:30 dynamic-text.dat

I gave it a shot in safari, this instantly updated the dynamic-text.dat file on one attempt without repetition. The words added also appeared IN the file itself in plain text.

-rw------- 1 mobile mobile 1359 Mar 19 21:34 dynamic-text.dat

Testing this again in notes showed the words taught through safari were universally added and accepted in all other forms of addition. This means not every iPhone program will learn words or add them to your special dictionary, the data processing program Notes is completely non-functional in that way, and as we saw above the Contacts section has limited success. Safari, however, is the answer. I’d honestly expect the learning algorithym to be far less shit than this, but it appears that this is the only way to force learn things.

Go figure. Either way, this is clear proof that Apple have some deep seated issues! Not to mention they love to cramp my style, not that I tout out hate words, but I’m an Australian, every second word out my mouth (or fingers in this case) is a profanity. 🙁

Posted: March 19th, 2011
Categories: consumer reviews, gadget, general, hack, oddities, reviews, technology
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(Not So) Final Fantasy XIV (Online!)

Many of you may have missed my review of Final Fantasy XIXIVUXCHGGG in all it’s absolutel crapness, one thing I noted was that it felt like it was trying to be an MMO, a single player MMO, with all the elements of World of Warcraft, except if such a project was executed by a mildly retarded chimp on mesculine. Well, sure enough, Final Fantasy XIV was announced as ‘Final Fantasy Online’. It’ll probably be subscription only and take 80,000 hours game play before letting you meet another human being, but they’re sticking with their fantasy roots instead of physics defying stupidly thought out and animated future-tech spin on the franchise.

Square Enix fans (aka: franchise bitches) will buy this and love it, but because most Square Enix fans are 40 year old virgins they’ve never played WoW and won’t appreciate just how comical Final Fantasy Online is compared to it. You have the Horde, you have giant steampunk creations, you have a pretty bad knock off of Stormwind, complete with harbour and lame boats, there’s implied naval combat in FFO but this is probably only a cut scene because we all know that aside from cut scenes all you have to do it mosh the green button to play the game. From lame racial dance moves through to gnome asshats, from Stitches rendered green to their very own take of the Dark Portal, you’ve got plainstriders, and even a dodgy attempt at the Horde, oh wait, I already said that.

Click here to see the latest trailer of Final Fantasy XIV Online and remember to keep an eye out at 1:57 for the elven Harry Potter. Either way, my guess is this will suck as much as every other FF game I’ve played, but they seem to have developed the perfect method of making their games suck more as the franchise matures.

Posted: July 1st, 2010
Categories: game reviews, games, reviews
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Assassins Creed 3 Destined for Win

Posted: June 17th, 2010
Categories: assassins creed 2, game reviews, games, news, reviews, sci-fi
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Xbox Review: Alan Wake @ Quarantine Station, Spooky?

In short, the answer is no. But I just watched a cute little review through Xbox Live Australia reviewing Alan Wake, they set up a group of people at the old Quarantine Station, spooking them about how it’s the ‘most haunted site in Australia’ yadda yadda before letting them play Alan Wake.

It was interesting to see how high peoples heart rate got, I think that gaming should count as a cardio work out with those kind of figures. For the record, the Quarantine Station is about as haunted as my outhouse, many years ago I broke into it with some mates which involved some stealthy ninja pissbolting past the guard house everytime the guard was watching TV.

Our adventure into the Q-Station as it’s colloqueally known was uneventful, aside from walking out the door into a patrol car and walking back inside quickly without the guard stopping (unsure whether he saw us, or assumed we were ghosts and shat brix), and stumbling upon a homeless dude sleeping in one of the huts.

It is very atmospheric, but if you’re after spooky sites, it’s far from it, and this was all in pitch black with a thick fog in winter mind you. Maybe we just had higher testicular fortitude than those chosen by XBL AU for their ‘project’.

For more info on their review, go check out ‘the project‘ on XBL, or turn your Xbox on and check out Spotlight if you’re in AU, first cab off the rank.

Man Kills Gods; Creates Life in Lab

“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him…”
Friedrich Nietzsche. The Gay Science (1882), s126.

Long have we theorised the above line by a madman bearing a labtern not to be talking about the literal God believed in by so many theists. Instead, we interpret, he is talking about what this god represented for European culture, the shared cultural belief in God which had once been its defining and uniting characteristic.

So to has man thrown off the yolk of theism, every element of the divine has been replicated at large through science, trickery, art, illusionism except one final element; the creation of life.

Until yesterday when flamboyant geneticist Craig Venter held true to the pledge he made nearly 15 years ago, unveiling his magnum opus. This landmark of scientific progress, published in the Journal of Science, stands on the shoulders of his race to decode the human genome in his own laboratory, egotistically his own DNA I might add.

The madman carrying this lantern has indeed created the first instance of purely synthetic life, opening the doors nanoscience falter at with the potential to create designer microbes for special jobs such as production of biofuels, pharmaceuticals, through to filtering contaminents from air and water.

“This is the first synthetic life that has been made, and we call it synthetic because the cell is totally derived from a synthetic chromasome, made with four bottles of chemcals on a synthesizer from information on a computer,” Dr Venter said.

Lauded as a tour de force by Prof. Mattick from the Australian Research Council, Dr. Venters work is as ground breaking as science gets these days, the applications for man made life are phenominal and limited only by our imagination. That being said, mans imagination can often be self destructive, so think of all the fantastic synthesized zombie viruses the US military will make with this!

The bacterium used decoded DNA from Mycoplasma mycoides imprinting the synthetic DNA and inserting it into living bacterium, in this case Mycoplasma capricolum, allowing the bacterium to flourish with both it’s own and the synthetic DNA within, then finally using an antibiotic designed to kill all but the synthetic DNA allowing only the synthesized organism to proliferate and produce protein strands from the original Mycoplasma mycoides creating, simply, artificial life.

Klatu barada neck-tie?

TV Review: The Colony, Survival Horror Reality TV

The Colony was shot in an abandoned industrial estate in New York in February, 2009, airing in July, 2009 in the US. We’re only just getting it here in Australia, the entire first season is complete, so in true (YARR!) pirate fashion I leeched the entire first season (take that Discovery AU), and watched it back to back. It’s set in a post-appocalyptic environment where a viral outbreak has killed the majority of the worlds people and throws random people into a factory to set up shop, make a home, and survive. Throughout this there are people coming, people going, people vanishing, simulating a real end-world scenario, including marauders!

I promised I won’t go into too much depth reviewing this because a lot of people who read my crap want to watch it for themselves, but I just want to go on record saying, all sexism aside, if this situation occured I would NOT let a single female into my encampment. SO MUCH DRAMA. Omfg. There’s a few guys who are utter dickheads, but one of those dickheads is behind 99% of everything that kept their camp alive, lit, heated, fed, and mobile, but every five seconds this fat he-bitch 22 year old ‘aeronautic engineer’ who ‘makes canals’ (IN THE SKY?!?) keeps raging at him, along with a couple of other lippy motherfuckers who turn every possibly tense scenario into an over the top broiling emotional rage argument packed with dramu that would make the internet double handed facepalm.

So, Morgan Hooker, Leilani Smith, Amy West, Allison White I’m calling you guys out. You’re a pack of fucking bawwing dicks.

One thing that I didn’t quite like, however, is that all of the people involved (whether true or not) had a heap of real world credentials, lots of engineers, scientists, etc. The most likeable of the characters is the handyman, Mike, and the ex-convict guy. They have tempers, and act a bit over the top at times, but they’re the most grounded characters.

There’s a second season in the making to be aired in the US in August, so it’ll probably get to Australia in 2012, but by then we’ll be living in factories post-appocalyptica, mirite? 🙂

Lisa Williams (@lwmedium) Charlatan ‘Psychic’

Lisa, Lisa, Lisa. Where do I begin? I recently saw an advert for her upcoming show, that was filmed by the Lifetime channel. She opens with her common pitch line, “Do you want to know everything?” What you won’t hear her telling you is that she is merely a charlatan who exploits the pain and suffering of people grieving using cold reading. Let’s set one thing straight, psychics and mediums do not exist. Conmen and women do. There has not been, in thousands of years of scientific documentation, one SINGLE example of the supernatural or paranormal existing under ANY scrutiny by learned and educated persons. It’s not because academics are closed minded, or have it in for the little guy, or have ANY other motivation other than pushing forward common sense, critical thought, and legitimate honesty of fact. Many deluded people out there honestly think it goes as far as there being complex conspiracies to conceal the ‘truth’ about ‘human psychic potential’, et cetera. In 1988 the U.S. National Academy of Sciences gave a report on the subject that concluded there is “no scientific justification from research conducted over a period of 130 years for the existence of parapsychological phenomena.”[1]

Let’s examine this critically: Not a scrap of evidence ever put forwards that can stand up to scrutiny, or giant illuminati plot to enslave and opress humanity. You tell me which one comes up in that fight.

Cold reading, combined with warm or hot reading, is the method by which all ‘psychics’ operate. Many people do this for a living as mentalists, or magicians; these people when asked will usually be outright honest about their art and it’s complete lack of supernatural or paranormal involvement. In 2004, Williams gave a reading to a senior staff member of TV host Merv Griffin. As a result, Griffin worked with her to host a show of her own. The proverbial path to ruin is laid with good intent.  Lisa Williams: Life Among the Dead aired for two seasons on the Lifetime network 2006-2007 and is set to air in Australia shortly. Her show Lisa Williams: Voices From the Other Side ran for five consecutive nights on the network in October 2008. The shows followed Williams on a typical day, as she claims to have ‘communicated with the dead,’ ‘investigates haunted houses,’ and conducts other ‘spirit-seeking activities.’ She claims she has spoken to Bob Hope, Princess Diana, Natalie Wood, Marilyn Monroe and Ray Charles after they died.

Let’s examine a well known psychic critically: A 2001 Time article reported that psychic John Edward allegedly utilized hot reading on his television show, Crossing Over, where an audience member who received a reading was suspicious of prior behavior from Edward’s aides, who had struck up conversations with audience members and asked them to fill out cards detailing their family trees.[2] In December 2001, Edward was alleged to have used foreknowledge to hot read in an interview on the television show Dateline, where a reading for a cameraman was based on knowledge gained in conversation some hours previously, yet presented as if he was unaware of the cameraman’s background.[3] In his 2001 book, John Edward denied ever using foreknowledge, cold or hot reading.[4]

I am VERY familiar with these methods and have used them out of the blue on random people in the streets of Sydney to illustrate the power of commonality to friends, and I know a close friend of mine, mentalist and stage magician Ryle Hilton, is exceptional at his art and absolutely blows peoples minds. I am not detracting from the SKILL involved in these acts, merely that using it to con and exploit people into believing only YOU can give them closure with their dead loved ones is abhorrent.

The following is sourced under fair use from Same Same, a publication for the Australian Gay and Lesbian Community that addresses some of the core elements of fail that is applied when handling ‘psychics’ in the press, with my comments in brackets.

Over the years Lisa has been challenged by many skeptics, including her own father. “He’s one of the biggest skeptics around!” she laughs. “But Dad has also seen first hand what I can do, and he’s seen how I give people a feeling of closure, and he says ‘you know what Lisa, I can’t take that away from you’.” [The closure given is fair enough, but the financial exploitation is unforgivable.]

One of the most public challenges Lisa has faced was with a skeptic named Laura on an episode of ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’. Lisa said that during the reading she kept offering Laura details that should have resonated – like her father’s name, or that he was a ballroom dancer – but Laura remained unconvinced, and was intent on getting cold, hard facts. [Note the use of negative terms such as ‘skeptic’ just because someone was unconvinced.]

“I gave her the name John, but she wanted his full name, that kind of thing. I told her ‘I am only telling you what he is giving me, I can’t make it change’. I almost got up and walked away. I said, ‘if you’re not open to this then there’s no point in me being here’.” [Ie: Dummy spit.]

Lisa says that she often reads comments about her in online forums, where people dispute her authenticity. “People say ‘oh Lisa Williams gets all the ticket data and uses that to do background checks on people who come to her show’. Well hello, it’s just me. I don’t have a team of researchers. I certainly don’t put microphones in the bathrooms or under the seats. I laugh at it. Of course, when it comes to TV, the producers get given a certain story. The talent tells them ‘I want to communicate with my mum because of…’ but often there’s another story that comes out or that I bring out. [Lol.]

The last paragraph was the best, she admits that–like John Edwards–she has access to the core information, the ‘other story’ that ‘comes out’ is where the cold/warm/hot reading elements come into this.

I figured I would take these channels publishing her crap to bat and sent an email, given that the Lifestyle Channel and W are sponsors of my online life and commonly compensate me for critical evaluation (public or otherwise) of their programs or services, and considering I have a larger demographic reach than Lisa it will be interesting to see if they make a stoic legitimate call or just kowtow to a fast easy buck like a heroin dealer down a dark alley.

Here is a copy of one of my emails in it’s entirety: –

I am writing as a blogger who [details of financial arragements excised]. I write specifically to request that–in an effort to maintain fairness, legitimacy, honesty and integrity–that you cease publication of Lisa Williams, the ‘medium’ and other such charlatans.

Sure, you get viewers, sure you make a quick buck; but these people are exploiting the ignorance and idiocy of the masses, much like a drug dealer who peddles his wares amongst the foolish. These lecherous conmen and women exploit the pain and suffering of people by lying through their teeth, and there are avenues to be pursued for large financial and fame rewards if any individual can prove ANY element of the supernatural or paranormal exists through JREF, however most of these scum refuse to claiming they don’t want ‘wealth’ (even though they charge extortionate fees to fundamentally give people a pat on the back and tell them their dead family still love them), and none of these people pursue this proof of their talents for obvious reasons.

I am posting this letter on my blog, which will be replicated throughout my social networks and blogs demographic reach meaning over half a million people will view this within 24 hours. I would like a reply to this, and I advise you now it will be published as will your choice to continue to air these exploitative shows or otherwise. I hope you make the right decision.

So for now, I advise all of you to pass this on to your wanky airy fairy friends who believe in the supernatural and like a suppository of testicular fortitude it should thwart their idiocy, and stay tuned for the results of my correspondence to these networks, if they even dare reply. Oh, and Lisa, and I know your PR agent has shown you this because with my reach they wouldn’t be worth a pinch of shit if they haven’t, this isn’t a PR nightmare for you honey; it’s just a wake up call that you should get a day job that DOESN’T involve exploitation. In 50 years people like you will be locked up in prison for these crimes you perpetrate on innocent and vulnerable people.

And people like me, who’re probably only in for a night stay due to drunk and disorderly in public, will make sure you drop the soap. 😉

References:

  1. ^ Druckman, D. and Swets, J. A. eds. (1988). Enhancing Human Performance: Issues, Theories and Techniques. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.. p. 22. ISBN 0-309-07465-7.
  2. ^ Leon Jaroff (2001-02-25). “Talking to the Dead”. Time Magazine. http://www.time.com/time/columnist/jaroff/article/0,9565,100555,00.html. Retrieved 2006-06-14.
  3. ^ Joe Nickell. “John Edward: Hustling the Bereaved”. CSICOP. http://www.csicop.org/si/2001-11/i-files.html. Retrieved 2006-06-14.
  4. ^ Edward, John (2001). Crossing Over. Jodere Group. ISBN 1-58872-002-0.

Game Review: Final Fantasy XVIII!1cvIEXWLOL

For quite a while I’ve been trying to think of how to review Final Fantasy XIII without spamming random letters by smashing my keyboard into my face whilst shouting profanities that aren’t even invented yet. I found a video that summarises how I feel. Out of all the games I’ve ever played, this was, by far, the worst gaming experience of my life; it was a corny weaboo video disc with a unidirectional linier pseudo-interactive DVD menu system where you have to repeatedly most the green button to see the next cut scene. It earned my first, and probably my only: 0/10.

I hope this REALLY is the FINAL Final Fantasy ever.

TV Review: Generation Kill

Generation Kill is a warts-and-all series that has just launched it’s pilot over here in Australia on Foxtel showcase, we’re two years behind so I recommend pirating this one if you’re in Australia (Eztv.it haven’t picked it up yet, so use piratebay). It’s a very unapologetic examination of the first 40 days of the firt invasion of Iraq based on the book of the same name by Evan Wright. It indirectly follows his experience as an embedded reporter with the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion‎ of the United States Marine Corps during the 2003 invasion.

It was adapted for television by David Simon, Ed Burns and Wright. The series premiered on July 13, 2008 and spanned seven episodes. It doesn’t look like it’ll be up for more seasons any time soon but the realistic feel of the series makes it compelling viewing. From bigoted red necks, to ethnic rows intents through to the ‘shooting dogs’ fanatacism that the US military are notorious for this seems to be shaping up less of a propaganda piece like most US military related things and more like a show it as it is series.

I’ll probably review it once I’ve finished the series, but in the interim, grab the first few eps and tell me if you like it.

Posted: May 16th, 2010
Categories: reviews, television
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Xbox Natal set for October 2010 Release

A Microsoft employee may have inadvertently given away the biggest secret in gaming this year.

Project Natal is Microsoft’s attempt to revolutionise motion-control in video games.

An add-on for the XBox 360, it does away with handheld controllers altogether, relying solely on body motion and gestures caught on camera to control the on-screen action.

In a slow year for game fans – at least when it comes to hardware – Natal’s release couldn’t come soon enough.

And thanks to Microsoft marketing manager Syed Bilal Tarig, it may be coming sooner than expected.

In an interview with GamerTag radio, Tariq revealed Natal would get a worldwide release in October – a full two months before the end-of-year date that Microsoft had been peddling.

“I do have great news to share with everybody that Project Natal will be launched in Saudi Arabia at the same time it will be launched in the rest of the world, that is to be sometime in October,” he said.

“Definitely it is going to be October 2010, we will have it in Saudi Arabia for sure.”

He also confirmed that it would be unveiled at the E3 games expo in June, as rumoured.

Project Natal is one of a series of updates to the console that Microsoft claims will enable it to remain relevant for gamers until at least 2015.

It first appeared in public at last year’s E3 expo, where a basic unit showed it was capable of motion-tracking up to four players at once.

A notice sent out by Microsoft earlier this year suggests the exact date for the completed unit’s unveiling will be June 13, a day before the start of E3 2010.

Posted: May 13th, 2010
Categories: consumer reviews, game reviews, games, general, lifestyle, pop culture, reviews, technology, xbox
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Twitter Client Reviews: My New Weapon of Choice

Most of you have probably seen me evangelize the wonders of API functional clients for Twitter, I have several very large Twitter accounts, @bashpr0mpt is just the one you know me as, the rest are for business, and some for pleasure. Some are just to blow off steam anonymously even. But all are pretty bloody big. So when it comes to clients, I don’t have time to fuck around with various trialware, shareware, etc. Many of you know I’m a no nonsense kind of guy and I’m not some cash strapped welfare twit either, so I’m willing to fork out some dosh for a good product. I previously threw $10 at my first API client, it was (well, later named) MyPostButler, I used it for quite some time effectively but also used several other mass-managers for Facebook and MySpace.
Ideally I eventually want to make a good multiple-network manager software, I’ve thrown up a few adverts on Freelancer to hire me some code monkeys to make this happen but unfortunately that’s a project that’s in the medium-term goals as of yet (and no you can’t have it free, but I’ll make sure it’s as near ‘at cost’ as I can make it depending on how much out of pocket I’ll be). In the interim I’m still using the dodgy mass managers for my other networks, but MPB is sadly closing it’s doors. Well, no, the owner is selling it off. The downside is there’s no assurance that the new owner will honour previous clients by providing free updates everytime Twitter change their API. Future-proofing is integral to any marketing campaign, even if you’re only marketing yourself, with your name being a brand and your product being your words, views, opinions.

Thus it became time to review Twitter managers. I tried about six in total, only one seemed to be what I needed. TweetAttack came close but it’s license fees are too steep ($200ish), TweetAdder is near identical however it lacks a few ‘spammer’ tools TweetAttack has. It should be noted that ‘spammer tools’ when used in every day life for a non-profit entity just makes managing huge bloody friends lists easier for the most part. TweetAdder does all the mass-management I need though.

5 of the main selling features for me: –

  1. I can dump a heap of tweets and let it tweet while I’m asleep so I can keep in touch with my friends across the big puddle.
  2. It manages who I add, and removes them if they don’t follow back within X days (I set it to a fortnight, try before you buy style.)
  3. It remembers who you remove so you don’t add them again.
  4. It let’s me target followers by adding people by niche interest so I -am- finding friends and not just numerics for epeen.
  5. It keeps track of … well, EVERYTHING, and can automate everything so my life is much easier.

As many of you know, and are probably waiting for, I’m putting together a tome of the arcane magic of social networking (for fun or profit) based on my encounters with tens of thousands of fellow net socialites, so expect an entire bloody chapter on this beautiful little piece of software. I forked out $188 for my license for it, but I’ve signed up as an affiliate so I can get a discount for friends, family and followers alike, the link for it for $50 is: – http://tinyurl.com/264hl8m

Even if you’re a tight arse and never want to pay a cent for a Twitter client, hit it up and at least play with the demo and enjoy a day of power-user Twittering for the lullz. There’s no catch, no con, no sign up, no … well, nothing, just a sweet little API accessing client that’ll make your daunting user list seem easy, or make your scrawny userlist grow. 🙂

The downsides of this client, I might add, is the fact it’s for PC and Mac only and thus isn’t for portable devices. Which I tend to use 99% of the time. But bleh, horses for courses.

Woke Up Dead, Spammy Zombies

The SciFiTv channel in Australia has been airing a lot of crappy infomercial-disguised-as-edgy-hipster-shows of late, the most recent shows the advertising heavyweight of the ‘zombie’ genre mixed with allusions to viral marketing. First, here’s what wiki has to say:

“Woke Up Dead is an American horror/comedy web series starring Jon Heder (best known for Napoleon Dynamite) as a young man who awakes in a full bathtub after ‘drowning’ and has no heartbeat, prompting his friends to believe him to be a zombie.

The show premiered on Sony Pictures Entertainment owned Crackle on October 5, 2009. Woke Up Dead is a production of Electric Farm Entertainment, a company that produced Afterworld, which currently runs on Crackle, along with Gemini Division and Valemont.

The show is executive produced by Brent V. Friedman, Stan Rogow, and Jeff Sagansky. Heder’s co-stars are Krysten Ritter, Josh Gad, and Wayne Knight. New episodes streamed weekdays through the end of October 2009.

The first episode was included on the Zombieland DVD. A season one DVD is in production. It is currently unknown if there will be a second season.”

Those familiar with Afterworld will remember it was a good concept wrecked by bad production and so intermittant you’d never follow the plot, not to mention unless you were in the US you couldn’t view episodes online.

Gemini Devision went one step further into the bowels of Internet fail by portraying it’s narrative as the vlog of some silly bitch on some urgent super mission being leaked. It was PACKED with promotional advertising which left you boggling at how they squeezed ten seconds of trashy hack narrative into four minutes of epilepsy inducing sub and paraliminal marketing gaffes.

So to does this next ‘feature’ from Electronic Farm disappoint. With blatent advertising segues in dialogue disengaging the viewer it forcibly pimps Kodal, Jeep, Ford, Doritos and Motorola. Many items are changed to have their logo physically in view, where logos aren’t found on the items in the real world.

Electric Farm breeds a lot of cows, because they sure as fuck shovel out more bullshit than any other ‘production company’ at present. Maybe film makers will take note of it’s limited success even with horrible advertising, or that of Dead Set (a zombie serial aired on BBC) and bring us a REAL zombie series?

Got ADAM? Amazing Little Sister Bioshock Prop!

I’ve been linked by a few people to some pics floating about of a Big Brother suit that some prop guy made, but recently came across this little wonder, also made by the same guy and included in the photo shoots of the Big Brother suit with his girlfriend playing the Little Sister weilding this: –

Got ADAM?

The creator, Harrison Krix, is a ‘graphic designer’ yet seems to be making a tidy profit doing commission work producing props. Including a bloody awesome Daft Punk helmet amongst other things.

Click here to check out the blow by blow of the ADAM bottle and synringe prop.

Posted: May 4th, 2010
Categories: design, gadget, game reviews, games, oddities, pop culture, reviews, technology
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Sims 3 for Xbox, PS3, Wii

In February, Electronic Arts laid out its release slate for the coming year. At the end of the list of games scheduled as coming in the October-December quarter was “The Sims 3 on Console Title TBA (consoles, handhelds).” The schedule backed up reports that initially surfaced in 2006 that the Sims series was coming to consoles. It also made perfect business sense, as the Sims 3 has sold over 4.5 million units to date on the PC and Mac, making it the top PC game of 2009. Today, EA officially announced that the Sims 3 will ship for the DS, Wii, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 this fall. Published under the EA Play label, the game will sport many of the same customization and character creation options as the PC edition of the game, as well as some new features. These include karma powers, which players can use to give their in-game incarnations instant luck–be it good or bad.

Sims 3 is already cross platform as it is with iPhone / iPod extended expansions allowing your favorite sims to be exported to come with you anywhere for unlimited adventures around the world, so these expansions will make it the most platform open game engine developed.

Posted: April 28th, 2010
Categories: game reviews, games, news, reviews, xbox
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