NITWISPS, 23-10-07 | Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

Now that I got my camera back, I'm going to start posting more photos, and one neat way I've found to encourage myself to do so is by committing to a weekly-ish posting schedule.

I give you the first edition of NITWISPS - New Images This Week In Superb Photos by Steven!

My dad and my nephew Matthew, Matthew, Matthew, My Sisters, Marianne and Matthew, Marianne's apt., Marianne and Joseph, Joseph and Donut, Dominic and Donut, Kids, Vahe and his Mom, Vahe's sister and her friend, Rose's cake, playing Halo 3, I'm owning as usual.

Portal - Best End Credit Song Ever | Saturday, October 20th, 2007

/*Spoiler Disclaimer

If you are planning to buy / play portal on either the PC or the Xbox 360, then don't play the audio file or follow the link to the lyrics.

Spoiler Disclaimer*/

Valve's latest offering in The Orange Box has been hailed as one of the most innovative ever. But perhaps the most innovative thing about it is Portal, a devious - and devilishly hilarious - mind-twister puzzle / 3D platform game that is probably the first game I'd recommend to my non-gamer friends. The premise is simple, the graphics are attractive, the game is [somewhat...] non-violent, and it poses some fascinating questions. Any game that tests your understanding of physics, geometry, momentum and puzzle-solving while being taunted by a deranged AI entity is a winner in my book.

From Wikipedia:

The game consists primarily of a series of puzzles which must be solved by teleporting the player's character and other simple objects using the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device. The goal of each puzzle is to reach an exit point. The "portal gun" and the unusual physics it creates are the emphasis of this game.

The song attached to this post is the credit song that plays at the end of the game, and like the rest of the game, the tone is completely deadpan. The song's so much funnier when you understand the references in it after playing the game, but even without them, it's a riot. Lyrics are here.

Whether you're into PC games or not, I wholeheartedly recommend picking up a copy of The Orange Box even if it's just for Portal and not the other 4 games that are included in the package. The puzzles are thorny, the gameplay is addictive, and the comedy alone is worth the price of admission.

We do what me must
because we can.

I'd like to end by saying that I will never forgive myself for what they made me do to you, weighted companion cube. :(

Paint it black, please | Wednesday, October 17th, 2007

As noted, an all white web page uses about 74 watts to display, while an all black page uses only 59 watts.

- The energy lowdown on black vs. white webpages.

While the debate rages on about whether how much more energy-efficient it is for web pages to be served on a black background instead of a white one (eg, "Black Google would save 3000 megawatts"), there is still little doubt that some energy savings would occur across the board.

Harbinger of free time | Tuesday, October 16th, 2007

Oh my God is Halo 3 ever fun. I recently finished the awesome single player campaign, and am toying around in mutliplayer.

Those 14 year old kids on the west coast are, like, crazy good.

Slingshot Around Autumn. | Tuesday, October 9th, 2007

Apologies for this slightly chaotic / 'en rafale' update...

You've gotta admit that we had a pretty great summer here. I was still ambulating around in a T-Shirt and shorts until just a couple days ago, and my sister was still swimming with my nephews in her backyard pool. Winter's right on our doorstep, and that's cool with me.

I've been enjoying all the work I'm doing right now; the projects I have lined up for the next few months are challenging, interesting, and promising. I long ago weened myself off my Drupal / Joomla / Wordpress dependency and the work I'm doing now reflects that evolution: more project management, more speaking, writing, more multimedia video / audio production, and less web stuff.

I also finally got my camera back from repair at Pentax Canada, and have been pretty shutter-happy as of late. I'm not posting many here, but there are some at the bottom of this entry. I'll hopefully also pick up a couple new lenses before embarking on some travel plans I'm making for November, December and January.

Other than that, I started watching, for the first time ever, japanese anime. I'd never been a fan of the form, but after reluctantly watching Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle (in English, so sue me!), I can really appreciate the genius that goes into Hayao Miyazaki's animation. There's something surreal about the artwork in these movies that I could never imagine being replicated using real-world or CGI effects, much like an oil-painting has a special quality that photographs can't match.

The other art form I've been getting back into (far too much, most likely) is gaming. I've realized that I'm a sucker for good interactive storytelling; as a kid I liked sitting around the campfire and listen to people take turns filling in part of a story, or reading fantasy or sci-fi novels and building worlds in my mind's eye with nothing more than the author's words to go on. In that sense, good games are closer to books than to movies – they all tell a story, but movies don't let you fill in the blanks yourself. They don't challenge or dare you to construct parts of the tale like books, or, more obviously, games do... but that will be a post in itself.

PC and console games are the new books.

New HP PC Computer for sale | Sunday, October 7th, 2007

I just received a brand new computer from a client for a project I'm working on but I don't need it, so if you know anyone who's interested (Montreal area only please), hit me up! :)

Specs are here on the HP site.

In addition to those specs, they've added another 512mb of RAM (for a total of 1gb), a firewire card (I can't find the driver disk, but you can get it easily off the net), and a 17" NEC CRT monitor. It's registered with HP and still has almost 3 years of onsite warranty.

It comes in the original box with all original documentation, including recovery CDs and manuals, optical mouse and keyboard, and all cables.

It runs Windows XP, Symantec Anti Virus - I've also installed Adobe Photoshop CS 3 and Adobe Lightroom, and will leave them installed (no CDs).

The price for the computer itself as you can see on the HP site is $579 USD plus tax and S&H - without the added memory, firewire card and monitor.

I'm asking $500 all included.

Train Crash in Cuba | Sunday, October 7th, 2007

BBC NEWS | Americas | Many killed in Cuban train crash At least 28 people have been killed and more than 70 injured in Cuba after a train collided with a bus at a level crossing, official media say.The accident - which is the worst in Cuba for years - happened in Granma province [...]