Extraordinary

Discerning elucidations regarding whatever comes to mind.

Consoles and Updates 18 October, 2009

Filed under: Games,Rambling — bonzairob @ 11:49 am

I’m going to see if I can squeeze out a post a week for a while. We’ve been managing it at P&R so without limiting myself to developing info, it might be easier.

Having just read a destructoid post highlighting fanboys, I thought I’d weigh in on consoles:

Either they’re all good, or all rubbish.

They all have their pros and cons. In fact, I shall list them here.

Console Pros Cons
Wii
  • Fun party games
  • nostalgic exclusives
  • Innovation
  • Free online service
  • Waggle
  • Shovelware
  • Nintendo hates you
Xbox360
  • Huge range of good games
  • Current market leader, huge support
  • RROD
  • Online costs $$$
  • Obfuscating menus
PS3
  • Best graphics of home consoles
  • Interesting exclusives (Katamari Damacy, Flower)
  • Expensive
  • Not many top-tier games
  • PS Home
PC
  • Hugely flexible
  • Thousands of Indie games
  • Best for FPS
  • upgrade a bit at a time rather than whole lot every 5ish years
  • Compatibility issues
  • No gurantee games will work
  • Finite storage (games must be installed rather than read from CD)
  • Constant upgrades, never just good for 5 years

I have a confession: I was once a fanboy. I was young, it was for Nintendo, last generation. But, even when I was a fanboy, I was never so far gone as to claim mine was the best console. I was mostly a fanboy to annoy a friend who WAS that far gone for the PS2. With a third friend, who had an XBox, we would poke fun at the PS2’s graphics (from the Xbox side) and the gameplay (from the Gamecube side).
Now, however, after being shafted by Nintendo for being in Europe (6 months delay on SSBB, Pokemon games, you name it), for not having all that much money (£35 for a game when it’s $35 in America?), for wanting more good games and less rehashes, I’m not a fanboy of anything in particular.
I used to be a strident fanboy of Apple products, but their walled garden approach completely turns me off (less of a problem in Unix-based OS X, but I have to jailbreak my iPod Touch to get a terminal? Really?), as well as the lack of games.

And, to be honest, I don’t see the point any more. If you let a product of some sort define you, in the way I did and many others do, you’re only going to get hurt one way or another. It’s really not worth it.

Seems like it’s part of our culture, purely because it’s what the makers (or rather, sellers) of products want us to do. If you define yourself by use of a product, you’re a guaranteed recurring sale and advertisement rolled into one. Apple is most deft at this; so many people have iPods, they must be awesome. That guy’s cool, he has a Macbook. And so on.

Fanboys may take the “holier than thine” road, but it’s somehing they should be attempting to transcend. You don’t have to be defined by a product to enjoy it.
I have a Wii that is currently on loan to a friend, an iPod Touch that I had to jailbreak to reach its full potential, an iMac that I dual-boot into Windows XP to enjoy gaming. While I still prefer OS X to Windows or Unix, I’m not sure I still prefer Nintendo to other platforms, purely because it seems their best games are behind them. But maybe if I used a more polished Unix like ubuntu, or a later version of Windows, I would change my mind.

After all, it’s just a console/game/platform/OS/band/product/company/few hundred pounds…

 

Music, Part 2 20 June, 2009

Filed under: Life,Music — bonzairob @ 9:02 am

Well, it seems to have worked!

Last post, I said I was going to listen to the music to see where it wanted to go, for my coursework. I did, and the result is up on TurnShip’s site, here.

TurnShip, by the way, is part of Propellor and Ratchet Games, a studio founded by me and Pete with, so far, one other member and a website coming soon. However, for all that we’re small, we have 95% of a working demo of TurnShip! All it needs is menus, because to play it, you need to be able to connect to someone else over LAN or internet. This is brilliant because we can intercept it and get a reading of how many people are playing TurnShip at a time.
TurnShip itself is a game set in (ambiguously) either a post-apocalyptic future or an alternate past. Society is roughly concurrent with the 17-1800s, but there are some technological advances. It is a war game, and you are fighting off an invasion, with both sides using airships.

It started off as me and Pete having an ideas session (for we have something like six other games planned, one of which is also in production). Then Pete started making it and we’d have meetings dedicated to TurnShip. And now Pete has been overtaken with enthusiasm for the second game and has left m, pretty much, to make TurnShip as I see fit, and he’ll code it.

I’ll make sure it’s awesome.

Thought I’d tie up some loose ends from other posts:
Monitors and Things: I managed to solder the connector back in place but the monitor is stil bork. I’ve obviously broken it while fixing something else so I’m giving up on it and getting another broken backlight monitor from ebay.
Active and Passive: I started getting up earlier and letting ideas flow rather than trying to force them out; the creativity fairy seems to be enjoying itself more. Now it’s a matter of organising myself to do work every day.

 

Music 5 May, 2009

Filed under: Life,Music,Rambling — bonzairob @ 4:16 pm

I’ve whinged a bit about me and music on here before, so time oto do it again! HURRAH!

I’ve just spent an enlightening half an hour searching for and listening to the pieces of music I wrote for my AS and A2 levels. I don’t feel like I’ve written anything better, so I wanted to have a listen. And then, of course, it hit me.

Nowadays, I know a lot more music theory than I used to; I’m a bit out of practice but I can work out what time signature, key, tempo a piece of music is in. just recently for some exercise, suggested by Luke, I transcribed the opening bit of 19 Days by Gavin Harrison (Spoiler: swaps between 7/8 and 12/8).
Yes, now I’m more technically skilled than I was. But, back when I wrote music that I couldn’t write today, it just flowed. I didn’t know what the chord sequences were that I wrote, I wrote them because they sounded good; because that, in my head, was where the music wanted to go. I’m attempting to write some battle music for TurnShip and I spent some minutes (displacement activity) writing out what chords I’d used, what relations they had, and the other chords in this key.

That was wrong of me. I should be listening to the music, not telling it what to do.

I’m going to try to write how I used to, and see if itflows easier; if it does, I might have cracked it. If not, I haven’t really lost anything.

There’s an mp3 up here of my AS piece; the A2 pieces weren’t put together in a long piece like this so I haven’t bothered. The recording is simply my computer’s midi instruments; there are one or two little skips. It’s still better than the midi itself.

 

Monitors and Things 4 April, 2009

Filed under: Life — bonzairob @ 6:58 pm

Borrowing an adaptor from Pete, I now have two monitors set up.
This sounds simpler than it was. I have no problems now it’s sorted, I really, really like it. It’s extrememly useful. It was getting the second monitor running which has been giving me problems.

I had a pool of three monitors to choose from:
1) A cheap Belinea monitor from ebay, which has a broken backlight. Bought originally to make a DIY projector, canned after it was too dim.
2) Ruth’s old monitor that is pretty much just broken. The screen displays odd grey lines.
3) Our TV, a tiny flatscreen thing that hasn’t got very good resolution.
I am currently using 3, because the quality isn’t brilliant. Let me regail you with how this came to be:

I started with the intention of using 1, having a dim memory of teh backlight working when I tested it after it frist arrived. It was still in pieces after being used for the projector, so I laboriously reassembled it for 45 mintues, and then tested it. The backlight flicked on for a second, then died.
So I decided to try Ruth’s old one, 2, shelving 1 to fix later. 2 was still broken, of course, and I’m currently looking into fixing it (since, often, only one piece is at fault in dead electronics. Example to follow.) After digging this one out, I was getting annoyed that two hadn’t worked.
So, now, I had to find all the bits for 3, the TV. I found them after another half an hour or so. So after 2 hour, I could finally set up my monitors.

3, as mentioned above, works, but looks quite bad. The picture is fuzzy, and there doesn’t seem to be anything I can do about it. It automatically switches to PC mode, so it’s definitely not untuned or anything like that. So I decided to go back and start fixing 1 adn 2, whichever worked.
First I tested the backlight of 1 with the power supply of 2. This worked, but the two main circuit-boards in the monitors weren’t compatible with each other.
I began to wonder if the screen connectors were, though, so I managed to wedge the screen connector of 2 into 1 to see if 2’s screen was the problem, or the driver. Without a backlight I couldn’t tell, so I had to sort of stick the two monitors back-to-back and then test them. The connectors for the screens didnt match after all, and I’d bent the monitor connection a bit doing this.
At this point I had to give up for the night, since I’d been working on it for four hours. I made a mental note to google the monitor problems, and check sites like Instructables.

Next day, I checked the sites, tried a few different things in the morning (looking for shorts, dry soldering, bulging capacitors). Eventually, during a break in the afternoon after badly shocking myself, I hit on a possible solution: this thread. I ordered some capacitors from ebay, and then realised it said in the article I could substitute 35v for 25v. Monitor 2 had a 35v to use, so I swapped them. The first monitor’s backlight worked! Hurrah! Minus the £1.60 of those capacitors, I seemed to be on the right track. I could always swap them later and try to get 2 working.
I put the monitor mostly back together and tested it: no picture. Looking closer at the monitor connections, I realised when I forced 2’s cable into 1’s slot, it had broken it, and some of the teeny tiny soldered contactshad come loose. These things are like a single millimetre across.

So, now I need to get a very fine tip for my soldering iron, basically. I’m nearly there. Unfortunately, this process of trial and error with very little payload seems to be my modus operandi. Perhaps one day I’ll fix something first-time and won’t have to keep going through different possibilities like this. I’ll update when eitehr the monitor breaks, works, or with the result of my post-mortem posted by someone else.

 

Active and Passive 6 March, 2009

Filed under: Rambling — bonzairob @ 11:37 pm

I think sometimes that there is a big difference between various types of entertainment, and that it’s best described as active vs. passive.
Speaking for myself, I am a creative person. Active entertainment for me includes drawing, making music, occasionally writing, coding, and simpler things like playing video games (PC more than console as of late. Stupid Nintendo). Passive entertainment is something I want more when I’m sleepy, or otherwise drained: reading, watching videos, listening to music. However, I usually end up feeling bad because I’m not doing anything active, as I should aim to constantly improve my skills (or feel like I should).
Perhaps this is when I blame the Creativity Fairy. After reading this post on Wired, I’ve started blaming my Creativity Fairy for creativity coming, as it has with the inception of this post, when I can’t really do anything useful with it. It’s useful in some ways (I don’t feel so bad for not having any sparks) but less so in others. It usually makes me wonder if the fairy is ever going to bother me, for instance, when the sun is up, or when I have pencil poised over paper, finger over key or fret, etc.

My to do list:
Draw a thing a day for a week (two so far over three days… need to make it up tomorrow :C )
Make a simple clip-on mic for Ruth (I have the parts, just need to glue them together)
Uni work including making a musical instrument and jazzing up some retro game tunes (need to email people things…)

Ongoing:
Work on the Sauce site and try to free it of bugs
Art for TurnShip and TuRnPG (on hold until I feel like I can draw worth a damn)
General university and personal work.

I’m worried regarding my Fairy visiting me at the right moment because, in high schol, it often did. But since I left for university, I honestly don’t feel I’ve written better music or can draw any better. I can perhaps get to the same point faster, but that’s a case of technical skill improving marginally, not the talent itself. Is this as good as I will ever be, stuck being a quarter good at coding, music, art, writing? Should I focus on one thing to be fully good at it, and even if I did, which one should it be? Will I ever achieve the potential people said, and I thought, that I had?
I’m not doing very well at university; it seems like even though I can feel music in me, I can’t access it as readily as I did once. It doesn’t force it’s way out like it used to, either. I don’t care about famous/popular bands or musicians. I don’t get lost in sound like I once could. I don’t really feel it. Have I lost something I never understood?

Anyway, it’s about time I gave up on this post. To finally sum up, in a TL;DR fashion:
FUCKING CREATIVITY FAIRY STOP BEING SUCH A BITCH GOD

 

Fanny and Alexander 8 December, 2008

Filed under: Rambling — bonzairob @ 10:35 pm

Yes, I know. Hurr.

This is another piece for university. The assignment was to pick a clip out of a range, and put some suitable music to it. I thought I’d try out some new things while I did.

The Instruments:
In order of application:
Ikea Blanda: A tiny metal bowl that goes \’ding\’ when held properly and flicked. It doesn’t resonate pefectly to a pitch, I suspect because the inside and outside resonate seperately, so it sounds like there are two notes at the same time.
Ikea Pralin: A nice, large glass with a stem. I flicked this one too, for a more mellow sond than the Blanda.
Ikea Pralin Again: I made it sing (water and a finger).
My Cello: I’ve never tried recording it before. It probably would have sounded better if my celling skills weren’t so rusty.

I’m quite happy with how this has turned out. If you’ve never heard Saint-Saens’ Dance Macabre, give it a listen. I’d love to be half as good.

My piece can be listened to/downloaded here, and there’s a video here.

 

One A Day 5 November, 2008

Filed under: Rambling — bonzairob @ 2:34 pm

The week’s been over, but I’ve only jsut got around to updating this. Politics at teh student radio, among other things, slowed me down.

Anyway!

One piece a day, for a week. Some are better than others, but they’re all at least starts on larger pieces. Where are they, you ask? In my Portfolio.