Tuesday, 31 August 2010

A Link to the past

Over the last few weekends, Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess has really absorbed my time. I had started playing this game a while ago, but I was frustrating stuck at a point in the game and abandoned it (put down to some poor Wii controlling on my part).   But as the old adage goes, practise makes perfect and so after another 2hrs evaporated (and countless in-game deaths), I was finally through!
Sure, the graphics may not be the most realistic, but the playability is what shines through.  
It is a rather engrossing game, with a quest objective throughout the game.  As the dungeons are defeated and new weapons/tools are added to the armory, previously inaccessible areas are opened up - which really adds to the exploration element of the game.  These also add to future complexity of puzzle solving as it requires observation and the ability to integrate and apply prior knowledge and skill.  I still have yet to finish the game, but hopefully I can work my way through it soon!

I remember playing the original Zelda game on the NES back in the 1990's.  It was a great game that stretched the limits of an 8-Bit gaming system.  The maps were huge and the dungeons were tricky.  The odd game for me was the Zelda II which had a top down and side scrolling element.  Zelda III was one of my favorites as it was the only incarnation on the SNES but really had incorporated some new elements while returning to the true top-down perspective.  Unfortunately, no N64 or GameCube meant I missed out on a few episodes!

In all the Zelda games I have played, the underlying theme/formula was largely in common - starting off as an average joe and after helping someone out (and picking up a sword no doubt) end up on a large quest (ahhh, how simple life can be!).  The process of slowly upgrading, listening to villagers speak of rumours or legends can lead to some real rewards which ends up transforming the character into a warrior who eventually has enough at his disposal to send off the evil enemy.  (Hmm, come to think of it, there are a lot of games which use this thematic...).

Playing these games at a young age, I really enjoyed the way in which the characters matured.  Looking back over the years, I wondered whether I had followed a similar trajectory to the in-game hero.  I remember starting out at uni and work rather eager to conquer the world....yet here I am so much more "mature" and still playing games with the same thematic some many years later!  Although it's so easy to just keep pressing "Continue", perhaps I just need to get out some more!

Monday, 16 August 2010

Conforming to success

The bus ride going in to work is a rather mundane affair - the place is filled with people keeping to themselves and heading off to making their living. It was therefore a stark contrast to see a group of three young students. All of them couldn't be more than 16yrs old. Their school bags were slung over their shoulder, shirts untucked and they were joking and laughing with one another. One of them even had a rat's tail for a hair cut! (I thought those were LONG gone). It reminded me of times gone past, but I had little time to reminisce on a bus full of ambition. Rather sadly, I looked at everyone on the bus - busy maximising their free time to check emails/listen to music/facebook before going to work. Everyone was smartly dressed - though admittedly, some more than others. Shirts were certainly tucked in and pressed; ties were, symmetry aside, largely done up. Certainly nobody I saw was sporting a rats tail, dreadlocks or a head of hair that Sideshow Bob would have been dwarfed by.

Then I stopped. Why wasn't anybody showcasing that individuality so overtly? Why were we all conforming to dressing neatly and being so clean cut? It was as though that rebellious stage in our life was left behind. Certainly how a person dresses or presents themselves has no true bearing on their abilities. Perhaps our perception of what comes across as success is built around those who are successful in the field and how they dress and act. In all my corporate life, it has been largely defined by the suit (power suit in some instances) and having conservative style - as most photo shoots of CEOs would suggest. So to emulate such a powerful formula of success one imitates those one deems to be successful. This idea perpetuates itself until this point - whereby we are a bus full of people striving for success.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Hardware reset

Living in a house means that the wireless connectivity can be rather temperamental at times. My four year old Billion 7300 coupled with a wireless Netgear router (WGT624 v2) suffered from regular dropouts and a wireless signal which couldn't quite reach my room 100% of the time. Updating the firmware only made things worse - resulting in me frequently storming downstairs to reset the router! I was ready to either (a) buy a new router or (b) buy a signal repeater/extender and hence more dollars spent! However, lo and behold, my sis pulls through and somehow scores a relatively new modem/router with Wireless-N capabilities (Netgear DGN2000)! After some quick setup.....Stability - tick. Range - tick (finally get a healthy signal in my room). Speed - tick, tick, tick! The broadband speed tests were improved and Wireless-N at 130Mbps vs a mere 54Mbps on the old technology. Woohoo!

So it has been a while since I got my Macbook. To be honest, I only use it to run a few spreadsheets, surf the web - nothing too strenuous. In between the first day of ownership and now, I have only had a HDD failure and that's it.

Recently, trying to download my photos from my new camera and manipulate a few photos had left me rather frustrated as it was S-L-O-W and clunky. Being a laptop, they are notorious for lack of upgradeability, but the two things which Apple seemed to have gotten right was the ability to add more RAM and add a new HDD which can be done by the owner. Checking the Apple store resulting in me navigating to page requesting some $300+ for 4GB. hmmm.

So I set myself off to find some aftermarket parts. Finding the parts wasn't too hard, as I just used staticice to find some RAM. I even ordered the goods online, so that was a real first for me! After adding some Corsair Value RAM to my Macbook, I have to say, it has run a bit faster and appears to be quite stable! I am suitably impressed...especially since the total cost was way less than half of what the Apple Store were hoping to charge!

100GB HDD just doesn't cut it these days, so that's next on the list of things to upgrade, so hopefully, I can get that up and running by next week. Looks like a 500GB drive is just the thing to fully pimp out my Macbook! Fully sic!