Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Behind You, A Three-Headed Monkey!

Just as we mention about The Secret Of Monkey Island: Special Edition for the PC, and had the thought to just download the game for keeps until we get a PC powerful enough to run the game (and all other games like Starcraft 2, Diablo III, Red Alert 3, Street Fighter 4 and Command & Conquer 4, oh the list goes on and on), the following day we hopped onto the iTunes Store to check for freebies and updates.

...and find The Secret Of Monkey Island: Special Edition as a featured app in the App Store. USD7.99 for 351MB with all the goodness: voice acting, new and old versions, in a custom iPod Touch/iPhone interface. We do wonder why the vast difference between the PC version of USD9.99 for 2.5GB. But still, it wasn't written that the app was only for half of the game or anything, and so it was a spontaneous click on the 'Buy App' button and watching Poirot's 'The Mysterious Affair At Styles' while waiting for it to download.

On the iPod Touch controls are slightly clunky, as we had to slide the cursor wherever we wanted to go and the cursor moves and a unforgivably slow rate, but now that we've gotten used to the controls (our finger doesn't have to be positioned on the cursor to move it wherever we want to, which makes it easier to navigate now!), all we plan to do with the game is enjoy all the voice acting. Insult swordfighting, here we come!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Signs Of Aging

"...quoting old stories/situations," said lad on GChat. We actually did feel that way too although not at that moment ranting about how, er, pirated games aren't so easy to install anymore. There are other things we'd thought on about how different it was then and now.

Basically it's like this.

Back then when original PC games probably were in the vicinity of RM100-150, and CD games were on the rise making diskette games slowly obsolete, anti-piracy measures went from password authentication every time you would start the game (how we enjoyed Prince Of Persia's password dungeon, where you've to check the manual for the requested letter, then find the potion with the corresponding letter and drink it to continue the game) to CD-Key authorization upon installation.

Now...back then in the DOS days of diskette games we had manuals for looking up passwords (and understanding how the game we love poring over the manual of a game sometimes), or in the case of a game that somehow lacked a manual, photocopied or otherwise, or because it was from somebody else (original games didn't come easy or cheap but did have whacky box sizes and shapes), there used to be a .BAT or .EXE file that will help bypass the password or other security thingamabobs on the game.

Oh, and viruses were quite obvious in what they do. We remember our early 386 getting infected before by some virus that had the letters 'SW' appearing on our screen before every game loads. Then again it's because there was no internet or world wide web to get connected to and 'malicious software that allows other people to take control of your computer' and all that.

Back then CD games didn't need much to bypass security save a provided CD-Key and a patch file (ahem).

Then came a point when Civilization 4 came out and there was all this need to install some program first, or install the game then install this other program then launch this game from there, or copy the entire DVD to the hard drive then run a program to create an image of it so that instead of a directory it's treated as a DVD instead...

Just isn't as simple any more.

Fact is, games still aren't cheap enough to buy without, er, trying it out first to see if it can work on our 6 year old desktop, as well to make sure the game was worth coughing out RM100 or so.

Even when it's a game like The Secret Of Monkey Island Special Edition, with new graphics and voice-acting but still essentially the original game with no changes, new system requirements means we can't buy on a whim except probably as for keeps (until we get a new PC, and we wonder if we shall buy Street Fighter 4 for the PC instead of a console too). Still, it would be a pleasant surprise to find that the game could work on our desktop.

Would have been a pleasant surprise.

From what we read online, not only installation would unpack some near 3 gigs onto our hard drive but we would also need to install some version of DirectX and probably some file under a directory called DotNet95 too. The fact that a commentor mention something about "Installing a dodgy version of DirectX," doesn't sit well with us. Someone else also mentioned about making an image of the directory, which seems a lot of unnecessary hassle for old fuddy duddy us. And we don't like the idea of installing any more programs we have no idea does what (we mean generally, not the DirectX), if it isn't a 'malicious software' it would just pretty much slow down our PC.

Perhaps it's time to just pay full price and download the entire 2.5GB. And with the original there shouldn't be any hassle. At USD10 it's pretty much paying for a premium app from the iTunes App Store.

Forget the fact that we actually do own the original Secret Of Monkey Island game CD that came together with our Soundblaster some what, 14-15 years ago?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Come On Let's Play Monopoly

And so it was a Sunday night at the Gentlemen's Club (well it is now modern times and ladies are members too) and in the Vin Room a group of members consisting of nouveau riches and old money sat down to discuss matters on trading and properties.

As the hour was already late with Sir Soldat arriving last after a family gathering, and thus discussions started quickly with everyone showing forth some properties rather than starting from scratch. Lady Lin, CEO of Lin Enterprises took the aggressive front and brought out..., had hotels built and proclaimed them ready to accomodate our needs. It's no surprise that Lin Enterprises is very focused on profit, and their company logo of a Sack Of Gold shows that just as much.

Much as Lady Lin calls the hotels the 'Mediterranean Avenue Hotel' and the 'Baltic Avenue Hotel', we all saw it for what it really was - accomodations for the ladies of the night. And to our shame a few of us were caught in Mediterranean Av. Hotel a fair number of times.

Soon enough negotiations began when all properties were revealed to belong to different members. Lord Lad and Viscount Vin settled into partnership for the development of Park Place and Broadwalk, negotiating on shares and development costs. At last a deal was struck with Viscount Vin managing the properties and Lord Lad taking a 40% cut from profits.

Sir Soldat suffered in the early stages as he owned the least properties and did not bargained well, but eventually struck a deal with Lady Lin when she gave him the rights to manage the Water Works in addition to the Electric Company which he already owns for a 50-50 partnership in the utilities monopoly.

Later then, in order to survive the upcoming influx of hotels, Sir Soldat agreed to join forces with Earl Otousan to build up St. James Place, Tenesee Av. and New York Av. Sir Soldat was given management for the properties as well, as Earl Avenue busied himself playing with trains, especially since he owned all the stations.

Datuk Shelton (pronounced 'Shell-Tan') Esteban also brokered a deal with Viscount Vin, predicting that Viscount Vin's properties would bring in good profits and it wasn't long before Kentucky Av., Indiana Av. and Illinois Av. (aka the Red Zone) sprouted hotels to lure the unwary. You could have imagine the scandal when Lady Lin was spotted in Hotel Indiana Avenue and unable to pay her rent!

You can see how the game is now played at the Gentlemen's Club. Gone are the days where the game is more on exclusive ownership - now the game has partners and shared ownership with the objective of bankrupting someone to end the game, haha.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Janvier Soldat And The Half Blood Prince

Ever since Prisoner Of Azkaban, we'd come to accept the fact that the Harry Potter movies weren't going to faithfully follow the book word-for-word. And that was okay, because the first two movies did a good job at that and also point out the fact that if they did used the book as script, we'll be already watching Goblet Of Fire in 4 hours or more, or as a two-parter like how Deathly Hallows is going to be.

So we did a expectation shift and thought that, so long as they get the storyline in with nothing to drastic a deviation, we should be able to accept the show.

And with that, we got to enjoy the Harry Potter universe from a different angle. School uniforms, their dress suits (which look snazzier with the robe), admittedly werewolves didn't look as scary as the Grim (heh), spells you never heard mentioned before ("Bombarda Maxima!"), see lots of picturesque views of the castle and the surrounding landscape, the way wizards duel (forget about Snape vs Lockhart, see how the Death Eaters and Order Of The Phoenix all hold their wands and their stances as they fought in the Department Of Mysteries), the Daily Prophet's newspaper format and fonts, the way they speak to each other.

It's like Lord Of The Rings in a sense - if everyone spoke exactly as how Tolkien had wrote in the book, most people would be lost or falling asleep.

Only now that it's already the sixth movie, and it's quite a given that you should be somewhat familiar with the backstory in order to fully appreciate what's going on in the movie. And more importantly, we feel, is to NOT READ THE BOOK just before the movie. Otherwise we'd be busy looking for all the missing bits than paying attention to how the movie's going. A quick summary of what the Half-Blood Prince is all about if you need, and then read the book after the movie to fill in the gaps.

As we remember Half-Blood Prince focused a lot on school life once more and the exploration of Dumbledore's memories regarding Voldemort's history, and everyone was worked up over the Potions textbook that once belonged to the Half-Blood Prince that Harry's currently using for Year 6. The novel focused quite a lot on these bits that it wasn't really a gripping read until the last part of the book.

That the movie kept straight to the storyline with only a few diversions and still took two and a half hours? Yes, we can see why Deathly Hallows is going to be a two-parter rather than a straight 4-hour movie. The flow of the movie was certainly much better than the book and it's much easier to understand what Dumbledore was up to with muddling around with memories. And the blossoming relationships were a hoot to watch.

And we think that if the movie was not called 'Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince', they wouldn't even bother so much with explaining about the Half-Blood Prince. The movie didn't emphasized a lot on it, after all.

Now only if they don't take too long to show the Deathly Hallows.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

$(13|\|(3 & ^^@+|-|$

So it seems that Science and Maths will soon be thought back in BM. Well in our view it's a bit like taking a step back to where we were in the start. After all, when we were in school all this was thought in BM, no?

Then again, we do remember back in our Form 4 and 5 days where we'd actually looked up the English translation of whatever we'd learned (yes, we were pro-English back then already). Not as if there was anywhere we could have used English terminology - we would have thought that answering a Chemistry Paper 2 in English back then would have automatically earned us a duck's egg, or severely low marks because the examiner would have thought us incapable of spelling as he circles every electrons and corrects them as elektron among other things.

Physics and Maths wasn't so bad as it was all mainly formulas. Of course, we can't remember what was the Malay term for differentiation and integration now, although admittedly even doing an integration problem might take some time now since it's all so rusty. Of course for Physics it's more than just formulas as there were quite a fair bit of terminologies too, and more explainations such like how sound can be viewed as waves and how these waves move both horizontally and vertically and the likes...

It's not as if we're such a snob that we support English all the way. It's just that, somehow, whatever we hear in a different language, be it Malay or a Chinese dialect, gets translated into English as we register it. Honest! Which is why sometimes when someone speaks to us in Chinese we can interpret it wrongly (what more our deplorable Chinese vocabulary).

Already we had the Chief correct our Cantonese at one point when we told the Chief's mum that we were leaving, and the Chief said that us saying, "Ngor hui xin," (which, to us, translates directly to "I'm going first,") was used in context of passing away, and that we should have used, "Ngor zhau xin," ("We're running away first," to us, which we thought less polite somehow) which was more appropriate.

Anyways, back to the topic at hand. There's the argument that, "We've studied Maths and Science in BM back in our days and we'd no problems what," and we could say the same for us, except in our case we did look up the English terms and translations and so when it came to our college and university years things were smooth sailing. We guess it's only when you're fair fluent in only one language when this becomes an issue, otherwise we'll think the move to switch teaching a subject from one language to another would be shrugged off.

And in our parents' time they were still studying everything in English!

And there's stuff like this to make you wonder.

We're not sure how it goes but if tertiary education and universities will be teaching said subjects in English, having the subject taught in English at an earlier level would be much more useful, no? And you'll be practising your English at the same time too. We just think it more important that we build up our proficiency of English so that others don't make fun of us and we'll stop getting foreigners telling us that their surprised we speak rather good English.

Oh well we would have suggested the subject be thought in both languages (and the exam papers to be in both languages where the students can answer in whichever language) but we think teachers all around would kill us for the extra work.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Clear Disrespect: Who Do You Think You Are?

We first read about this on someone's status update on Facebook. Tried to follow the tinyurl link but it didn't load. Then when minishorts posted about it we got to read a bit more on what it was about, and even see the article scan.

In a gist, Muslim reporters have gone undercover to spy in a Catholic church and even participated in the Holy Communion.

Total. Disrespect. For. Others.

Now we're not getting riled up because it's an attack on our religion. God knows how we are with regards to our faith, but faith is always a personal matter. Plus it's a Catholic church here, and we're not Catholic. Still, it's the idea of you, of one religion, entering incognito into another religion's place of worship, participating in their ceremonies and rites that not all would participate in unless they were ready, leaving only to write an article that is both disrespectful and insulting.

Yes, you've also been told already that, if the roles were switched and that if another religion would enter your place of worship and do the same, you would have caused an uproar and your followers would be out on the streets creating a ruckus. We remember how you got uptight over the use of the name of your god in another religion's magazine.

We wouldn't have minded the intrusion much if all you did was go in and look around without participating much. There's no need for you to act like a Catholic and participate in the Holy Communion even when there are Christians who aren't prepared for it.

We wouldn't have minded if you've acted decently and upon receiving a 'tip' that there's been Malay teenagers going to Church, you had gone to request permission to send someone to investigate during service one fine Sunday? After all, people do bring their friends to church and they are not expected to do things a Christian would do. You don't have to sing hymnals just because everyone else is singing them. You don't have to join in the ceremonies or feel forced to because everyone around you is doing it. After all, you'll be a guest and you're not coerced into it. You just have to respect your hosts and the things that they do.

We're also put off by the way you treated the accusations bought to you - you've heard of Muslim youths forsaking Islam and embracing Christianity, and better still, that the cause for this is that Christians get paid to 'recruit' believers? And get paid more should they get Malays to convert? And that should people convert, they are offered incentives or rewards like a cash allowance? This is a serious accusation indeed - an accusation that a religious establishment of being a multi-level marketing organization.

And we don't see how your sneaking into a church would help matters. Yes, you might probably find out if there were Muslim apostates (and you did not). Are you hoping to see, in some room, members of the church being paid money along with verbal communication of how they have brought others into the fold?

But no, you didn't stop there. You can write about how impressed you may be at how the congregation treated each other with respect and goodwill, but clearly in your article you don't do the same when it comes to the Christian traditions and ceremonies. Instead, you choose to write your article in an offensive style, twisting things such that to say, "They do this and this which which is correct, as it is how we do it and is how it should be done, but they do this and this which is wrong and deviant and misleading!"

Is this how you write your articles? Push that your religion is better than others? Make fun of another's religion? Couldn't you just report your observations without comparison?

In what is suppose to be a multiracial, multicultural nation, you're grossly disrespectfully spitting in someone's face in front of everyone.

And we gather you know that what you are doing is wrong, because as you write, you feared discovery while in the church.

Again, what we're ranting here is the sheer disrespect you've treated another establishment. You've painted a bad name for yourself.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Labours For Poirot

Now we are admittedly big into Agatha Christie, and thankfully our school library had quite a number of her books for us to go through. Like many others we love Hercule Poirot and Ms Marple! It was sometime then too when we caught an episode of Poirot on TV3 one Saturday afternoon, but it didn't hit us then that we were actually watching a Hercule Poirot tv adaptation, even when David Suchet was the most accurate adaptation of Poirot!

Took us a while after that episode (since we happened onto that episode halfway through) when it all registered in. Moustache. French portly feller. Murder mystery.

Only...either we weren't free on Saturdays to watch it, or TV3 finished its run. Never did get to watch it entirely. Sigh.

Of course, we've been hunting about for the DVDs everytime we're shopping (even if we never do buy anything) and we've even seen the series selling at La Ramblas in Barcelona last year. Unfortunately the price tag of 30 Euros per season stopped us from making an impulse buy of all seasons we could get our grubby hands on (because we know, we just know that we won't stop at the Poirots but snag ever Ms Marple series we could find too!) and four seasons of both Poirot and Ms Marple would set us back an estimate 240 Euros.

We're not rich enough to do that. Plus it was likely to be bootlegs so we didn't dare trust the quality unless we happen to be going back there pretty soon.

...Come to think of it, we keep forgetting to check HMV when at Sporeland. But even then a price tag of SGD100 would mean we need to exercise control when buying.

But in any case, we've been checking out the, ah, local DVD entrepreneurs should they happen to stock them, seeing how they can keep all sorts from BBC documentaries to National Geographic specials. Yes we totally bypassed Speedy and the likes because they be pricey and Poirot doesn't seem like a title easily available (not to mention all the store assistants, even the entrepreneurs, would give us a puzzled look when we mention the name Poirot).

So came a time early this year when we were checking out titles at the DVD entrepreneur near our place, when we came across a DVD of Poirot! Can't remember which season but we were surprised to find that yes, we could find Poirot here!

Thing was, we already getting some other DVDs (can't recall, was it Battlestar Galactica?) so we decided to put the Poirot on hold till another day. The Chief was with us, and knowing how we were interested, helped by hiding the DVD somewhere at the back of the stack where we found it so we could grab it another day without having to hunt for it. Only when we got back to the store another time the DVD was gone. Searched through all the stacks to no avail and even the fler manning the store told us that stuff in those stacks, if you see them you better grab them, gone means gone.

'Course, we were plenty disappointed. Also resolved to just grab it next time we saw it. And that's how we ended up snagging both Season 1 and 2 when we saw it in another store today!

Pure happiness. And to top it, while still browsing the store we overheard some girls saying, "The Colour Of Magic," and we gravitated straight to them to find Sky's take on Terry Pratchett's The Colour Of Magic! We thought the movie was still in the works! We were looking more for Hogfather rather than Colour Of Magic, even though we're quite apprehensive of how Hogfather will turn out based on how reviews tag it as a 'love it or hate it' show (the Illustrated Screenplay doesn't calm our fears either).

Admittedly a closer look on the cover it says 'Terry Pratchett's The Colour Of Magic Part 1' but since we're on a roll why stop...and the first 10 minutes of the show gives us the impression that it's gonna be something like the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy movie - slightly different but still humourous.

So now we have a telly series to continue now that Battlestar Galactica's done with. Gossip Girls, get to the back seat.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Push It, Push It Some More

It starts off with us trailing our fingers over the skin, using the tips rather than our fingerpads as we wanted the tactile feel of it to be very sensitive. Narcissism and necessity makes this something that we would prefer to have done in front of a mirror, so we can fully see everything that we were doing.

We'll begin slowly, gently. Circling the bump before we start applying some pressure. No, not squeeze it straightaway. That would just be painful and off-putting. Not long there will be a small white dot affirming us that we're doing it right.

Then we apply a bit more pressure. Bit by bit.

Admittedly after a while it gets harder to breathe. And thankfully we're in the comforts of an air-conditioned room, so we don't end up sweating.

It comes to a point when we know we're close and it'll burst through. And it does. The relief when it finally comes out and we can breathe easy once again, no describing that.

Except that we might just end up with an effing scar on our nose for a while if the whitehead turns out to be a rather large one.

Friday, July 03, 2009

So Say We All

It is finished.

Battlestar Galactica, that is. All four five four seasons (bloody Season 2.0, 2.5, 4.0 and 4.5...) of it.

We've not been one to really follow tv serials much post-uni due to a few reasons, and we must say that we find it liberating to have kicked the tv habit. Gives us more time to do other stuff. The only show we'd watched (asides our Sailormoon) was Heroes, and that was because lad and Joery was kind enough to pass us all the episodes to devour one after another without waiting an entire week for the next episode. And even for Heroes we've yet to start on Season 3.

So why the sudden urge to watch Battlestar Galactica?

Not sure really.

Probably 'cos every time sis comes back we both end up at the local DVD store picking out movies and tv series.

Probably 'cos the iTunes Store was featuring Season 4 sometime back early this year. Also with free webisodes that we'd downloaded.

Probably 'cos we'd stumbled onto the Battlestar Wiki and started checking up what's the difference between the old series and this new one.

Probably because there was that episode where Xena, Warrior Princess first show up.

Probably because it was only four seasons long and that it has just finished, so we wouldn't be caught halfway in some cliffhanger, and the general reviews said that the show ended with a good finale.

Whatever it was, we finally decided to pick up Season 1 in April and work out way from there.

What we weren't prepared for was the first two episodes to be 2 hours long each. Seriously. We picked up Season 1 on Saturday, popped Disc 1 at night, and next thing you know it was morning before we even see the credits, and mum coming down to the living room stating that we're going to church soon. For a moment we thought that they intentionally made the DVD version sans opening and credits between episodes, but it turns out that the first two episodes were miniseries to build up the storyline. Episodes 3 onwards were the regular 45 minute fare.

Plus it wasn't easy finding time after midnight just to catch an episode. Especially on some episodes where it ends in a cliffhanger - once you start you can't stop.

And now we've finally finished the entire series! Now to store the boxsets somewhere, and figure if we shall take a break from nighttime DVDs or to start on Gossip Girls, since we're curious as to why some people are so worked up over this series.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Stomach Sorrows

Music Director: Janvier, can stand straight?
Janvier: Cannot.
Music Director: Why?
Janvier: Stomach ache.
Music Director: When? Since you come to the front or earlier?
Janvier: This whole week already.
(Tenor two members on back row shuffle away from standing directly behind Janvier)

Above scenario was very much akin to a teacher in class talking to a primary school kid. Really.

It's been six days now that our stomach has been acting up, in that way which suggests that we either 1) took some milk or dairy product that caused our lactose intolerance to kick a fuss; or 2) have some sort of stomach bug thriving on our stomach flora; or 3) we're under some antibiotic therapy that's wiped out stomach flora and thus it's open season.

Since we don't recall taking any milk the last week (unless coconut milk in our curry laksa is the new thing in lactose intolerance), and the fact that it's been going on for over 5 days, it's hardly likely to be (1). Since we're not on (3), we think it's (2). Which would lead to (3). Only, since our last experience with (2) at a serious level was sometime last year, this time it was rather bearable and so we figured it was rather a mild stomach bug.

Still, whatwith us being the finicky person when it comes to toilet hygeine, our quality of life did take a slight dip, because there's really no place like home when it comes to taking a dump. Soft tissue papers, a quick shower off and once again smelling of Dettol Cool, and the air-conditioned room to chill until we've the strength to face the outside world again. All right, we'd also settle for four- or five-star hotel rooms and bathrooms.

And we've yet to pay a visit to the clinic, nor have we started popping the antispasmodics. We've really never liked taking meds to stop diarrhoea, because, we'd end up feeling like we need to go, that even passing gas would be disastrous, but come showtime it'll be a no-go because of the meds. But in all those times we took it anyways because it was really, really bad. This one, we can ride out. The Chief accurately observes that we would only drag ourself to the clinic if it gets worse.

And things seem to be on the mend now! Much joy and relief!