Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I thought it was funny, but it seemed to miss its own point.

At the beginning, Brooker seemed to complain that TV's traditional portrayal of games as unnecessarily violent or pointlessly boring was unfair; he then went on to spend the next 45 minutes showing how unnecessarily violent and pointlessly boring games have become, despite the technological improvements.

The target audience is a mystery as well - the beginners guide to genres was obviously to pull in casual or non-gamers, but then it's intercut with a frankly horrific couple of scenes from Wolfenstein where the player brutally dismembers Nazis with an axe.

I know that Charlie Brooker delights in pointing out the contradictions of media (which is what made Screen- and Newswipe so good), but it just seemed to confuse the show's message - assuming it had one. Personally, I'd have preferred to see a comparison between the mainstream assumption of what games are, the common denominator stuff that encourages that perception, and the stuff that shows what videogames can do to properly engage the player. Where was Shadow of the Colossus? Okami? For all the talk about violence, why was there no mention of games where avoiding conflict is more desirable and rewarding than direct confrontation with your opponent - like Arkham Asylum, or the MGS series?

Maybe it was too much to expect from Charlie Brooker*, but I was hoping for a show that I could give to game-skeptics to say, "Here's what gaming is really like" - instead, it would probably just confirm their suspicions.

*I like Brooker, don't get me wrong. But he has a penchant for the melodramatic and hyperbole, which is already in plentiful supply when it comes to the discussion of videogames and their content.

I found this quote about Gameswipe in the comments section on another blog, and thought it was quite good:
One of the things Rab and Ryan used to get absolutely spot on with Consolevania and VideoGaiden was trying to show the viewer what their experience of playing a game was like. That’s what you need to get across in a TV show about games, the other stuff is windowdressing, or bullshit. Playing games is all about the experience.
I think that is what was missing - it was too much about the public perception, and not about the gamer's perception. An explanation of why we love games, in my opinion, would have done a much better job of getting a positive point across than a series of people complaining about the worst bits of the games they play.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pre on October 16th!

The press release that finally confirms the UK release date and pricing of the Palm Pre came out this morning; these long months of speculation and guesswork from every gadget blog and forum with European members are finally over.

Friday, October 16th - just three weeks away - is Pre day!

The tariffs and pricing are more or less the same as for the recently-release iPhone 3GS, which is potentially a mistake; the Pre has half the memory of the low-end 3GS (8GB vs. the iPhone's 16), and is missing a lot of the multimedia features that have made the iPhone such a success among casual smartphone buyers.

Nevertheless, I will be picking one up, on the 24-month £35 contract (which nets me a "free" Pre) on launch day. I just need to figure out when to contact Vodafone to get my number ported to O2. I'm planning on heading into the O2 store here in Dundee this lunchtime to ask them some questions; I imagine they'll be more eager to give me answers on changing providers than the network I'm leaving.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

About bloody time

The announcement was made this morning that O2 are going to get the Palm Pre in the UK, Ireland and Germany, with fellow Telefonica subsidiary Movistar getting it in Spain.

But while this confirmation is nice to have, the carrier information was already more or less a given - very few people doubted, especially in the last few weeks or months, that O2 would be the one to take the Pre to market here. The arguably more important information about pricing and the release date - which was also rumoured to be getting a reveal this week - hasn't materialised yet.

I'm still hoping to get a Pre on release - and in fact the later it lands, then the easier it should be to get out of my current Vodafone contract - but it's frustrating to have so little firm information. They'll apparently be bringing the phone to market before the end of the year (in time for Christmas, allegedly), which is certainly pointing towards the end of November or start of December, if the verbiage used to describe the US release is anything to go by. Palm spent the first five months of 2009 telling people that the Pre would be out "in the first half of the year", and released it in early June - so it's a fair bet that a "second half of 2009" release won't materialize until early December.

(I realise this is turning into a bit of a one-track posting habit, but hopefully I'll stop talking about the bloody thing once I finally get it.)

Monday, June 08, 2009

Pre, post-launch

palm prē
So, the Palm Pre is out now in the US. Anybody got one (or tried one out) yet? I've read a whole bunch of reviews and forum posts, but the opinions of people I know online are always much better than random blogs and forum idiots.

I'm dying to get my hands on a device to try it out for myself; even just so I can try out the keyboard, which seems to be the main area of complaints, and the only part of the phone I have any significant concerns about. There have been a few reports of overheating, bricking and screens being warped, but this is a first-gen device and I don't think anybody was expecting a perfect machine straight out of the gate. Sprint and Palm seem to be doing a good job of replacing faulty devices, but that can't be doing wonders for their already-low stock levels.

I've got it on good authority that the UK release for the Pre will be in October (pending supply; December if things fall through), on O2. Presumably we won't hear any official announcements until the stock situation calms down enough that they can forecast availability for the UK launch, but it's frustrating to have to rely on third-hand information and rumours for so long.

In any case, I'm hoping that the hardware and software issues that have been encountered during the American launch will be largely ironed out by the time we see the Pre arrive on this side of the pond.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


There's an online geek radio station called otaSCOTIA that I recently put together a WordPress skin for - it's just gone live, so check it out and let me know what you think (of the site, not the show - that's @otascotia's side of things).

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pre in September?

All current rumours point to the Palm Pre getting a UK release sometime around September, which is pretty good, I guess. The American release is, according to the same speculation, coming out early July, so it hopefully won't be too unbearable a wait.

Most rumours still seem to be pointing to Vodafone as the carrier here, so hopefully that one will pan out too, and I can keep my number and won't have to change my contract too much.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I don't know how to express how the news from Northern Ireland over the last few days makes me feel. The cynic in me wants to roll my eyes and think "it was only a matter of time", but Goddamn it I thought we were past all this shit.

What exactly does this accomplish for anybody?

Excuse me while I despair for my country and the people still living there.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Palm Pre: Can Has?

palm prē
Since it was announced at CES in January, I've been following the new Palm Prē very closely. I don't think I've ever been this excited about a piece of gadgetry.

(In case you've not seen it yet, here's a pretty decent 26-minute demo.)

At CES, it was mentioned (probably in passing) that information about the UK launch of the device would be announced at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which has been running since Monday. I'm checking the "gadgets" folder in my Google Reader feeds every 20 minutes to see if anything new has been announced, but so far there's been nothing substantial; a few new features, some clarification on what it can and can't do (so far), and the first chapter of the textbook on developing new applications for its webOS operating system.

Rumours abound about the carrier that it'll eventually land on in the UK. The American version of the phone will be on Sprint, while a lot people seem to think that Vodafone will get the UK contract. The strongest evidence is that the phones at the MWC were running on Vodafone's network, but I thought that they would be too concerned about the impact on Blackberry Storm sales (and now, the HTC Magic) from the Palm Prē - which seems to have a buzz about it bigger than any I can remember other than the iPhone.

The MWC ends today, so there's only a few hours for them to announce the UK carrier - if it doesn't come out of the congress, chances are it'll be long after the (still un-dated) American launch before I get any idea of when I'll be able to pick one up.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Too much time on their hands...

Some joker here at work (I'm pretty sure I know who) has started a Twitter feed for our cat.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


We got our new cat just over a week ago (on the 9th). She's settled in very well, and took much less time to get comfortable in the house than I thought she would. Then again, she's already six years old so we probably shouldn't have expected her to be as jittery in a new place as a kitten might have been.

She looks fairly grumpy in most photos, though: