Not a scene from The Da Vinci code

Alex has a lot of Hotwheels and Matchbox cars, it’s hard to resist buying them because they are so cheap and provide a little surge of nostalgia for me whenever I get a chance to play with them…errr..I  mean watch him play with them.

Anyway, I didn’t have a real appreciation for how many he has until Kristie took this picture and sent it to me on my mobile (hence the shoddy quality).

Not a human sacrifice to the Hotwheels gods

For the record, that’s 124 cars.

Looking for info on Post Logistics for your XBOX repair?

I seem to be getting a lot of hits from Google on my post about  my XBOX and Post Logistics but Google doesn’t appear to have indexed the correct page.

Unfortunately, all the hits are coming to the front page, not the specific post on tracking your xbox and since that post is about to drop off the front page, I’m posting this so you can find what you’re looking for.

If you’re here from a Google search and need info on how to track your XBOX which has shipped back via Post Logistics, click here.

Desktop Tower Defence

Jeremy mentioned this game in a post a while ago and I didn’t take much notice, but after hearing Justin McElroy on the Joystiq podcast carry on about Kongregate at length I finally caved and took a look, there I stumbed upon Desktop Tower Defence and bunch of other pretty amazing browser based games.

From the DTF Wiki:

Like other games in its genre, the game’s basic premise is simple. The game is played on a set map, in this case one resembling an office desktop. The player must stop a set number of enemies, known in the genre as creeps, from reaching a set point on the playing field. This is accomplished by building and upgrading towers that shoot at, damage or somehow hinder the enemy creeps before they are able to reach their objective. Unlike many tower defense games the path of the creeps themselves is not set; instead, they take the shortest path they can find to the exit, with the towers you can build blocking their way. (The game will prevent you from making an exit inaccessible.)

Desktop Tower Defence Screenshot

Very simple, very fun, very addictive.

Waterless urinal, ugh.

A while back they switched the urinals at work from the normal gushing water type to a waterless system where they leave some lovely green toilet lollies apparently laced with friendly bacteria which is supposed to eat up the pee and leave no odour without using any water whatsoever.

Wrong.

The whole bathroom now smells like dick cheese, it’s disgusting.

If the future of the planet relies on the whole place smelling like dick cheese I say take the planet for all it’s worth and get the hell off it, Mars looks nice.

Hellgate: London is not an MMO

Hellgate: London was touted as the “spiritual successor to Diablo II” ((Hellgate is ‘spiritual successor to Diablo II” – Roper)), but it had a horrible launch, it copped a lot of flack for game killing bugs which drove people away in, well, droves.

Six months after launch I thought I’d dig out the dusty copy I have (which I bought really cheap from a disgruntled player about 3 weeks after he bought it on launch) which I had put away after playing for about an hour for the same reasons he sold it, the game was horribly fun-killingly buggy.

Six months later a lot has changed, multiple patches to fix the bugs and add content have brought this game out of the ranks of failures in to a perfectly playable and fun game, for me anyway. If the server population is any guide people have stuck around and are returning/starting fresh, not in droves but in numbers enough to sustain the game, but who knows for how long (what is critical mass for a game which is free to play anyway?).

Some reasons I like Hellgate: London:

  • The graphics are stunning and it runs very smooth on my PC, there are some areas where the framerate drops below 20 but they’re not common enough to bother me.
  • I am getting a very Diablo-like feel so far. The monsters are plentiful and easy to kill, drop loot like rain, the play mechanics are similar and grouping/partying is very similar.
  • It’s not an MMO. While there are guilds and grouping mechanics the game can be played entirely as if it is single player, in fact, there is a single player version of the game you can play completely offline if you want. This is similar to Diablo, but you can’t bring your Single Player character to an online server/game.
  • Like Diablo, there are different difficulties. You have to complete the game on the normal level before unlocking higher difficulties which are harder (duh) but also give better rewards.
  • It’s FREE to play, sort of. You can pay for a subscription ($10 per month) but from what I gather most of the benefits of subscribing are only worth it in the end-game (creating guilds, the highest difficulty level, some new content, unique items, larger inventory).

There are still some issues:

  • Occasionally the framerate drops below 5 and the game almost locks up, in most case this only last for a few seconds but in those few seconds if you have a horde of demons trying to suck your brain through your nose, it can get annoying.
  • Even though there are no MMO elements to the game, I have been playing later than I normally do, not much later, just later. This is normal when I find a game which holds my attention for more than 5 minutes so it will get better.
  • It can be a bit of a grind, but no more than I remember Diablo being. You enter an area, kill everything, take the loot and return to town. There is a arching storyline, but most of the quests are “Collect X items”.

I think it’s a shame that this game crashed (literally and figuratively) as hard as it did when it was first launched because there was a lot of well earned hype which was overshadowed by launch issues. The fact that I’m still playing after a week and haven’t touched GTA4 since my XBOX came back is a sign that the game is worth a try.

CatchOfTheDay

Real quick, CatchOfTheDay has a special deal on something every day, the prices are usually insanely good (see my future post on the Asus eee PC).

Today’s caught my eye, Risk Star Wars Clone Wars Edition for $9.95? What could go wrong? I ordered one (and also grabbed some of the others as Christmas presents, so check under your tree in December). Today they are also selling a Sudoku board game and Shrek Junior Monopoly, all for $9.95..

Catch Of The Day

(this will only be the Star Wars Risk game on 21 June, others days, who knows).

Also, CatchOfTheDay participates in MoneyBackCo, if you sign up with MoneyBackCo (link) and click through the CatchOfTheDay link on that site you will get 5.5% of your purchase price back, which is nothing to sneeze at. ((NOTE: You must enter the Catch site through the merchant page on MoneyBackCo to get the refund))

XBOX Repair

I feel kind of special, I sent my XBOX 360 in for repair for a non-RROD related problem.

My DVD drive has been noisy since I got the 360 but I’d just been putting up with it, it would occasionally make horrible “I’m eating your game DVDs” noises but up until recently didn’t actually cause any damage. However, in recent months it had scratch two games beyond playabiliy and I figured it was time to send it in before the normal 12 month warranty ran out.

The registration process was easy (fully online, no calls to India) and they sent me a reply paid shipping label via email, I package up the unit and sent it off. Less than a week later I get an email saying the unit has been repaired and is on it’s way back to me, that’s pretty good service! (assuming they actually fixed it, I’m not cynical). According to the tracking site, it’s going to be delivered today.

The only complaint I have so far (remember, I haven’t got it yet, they may have replaced the whole thing with a lump of coal for all I know) is that the tracking information provided in the emails after the 360 was sent back was not much help, it provided a tracking number but not a way to use that number anywhere and finding the proper site to plug the number in was surprisingly hard.

The original email went something like this:

Xbox Customer Support Service Request ID #: 106XXX7709

Great news, your Xbox console has been shipped and is on its way back to you!  You should receive this within the next 7 days.

For your convenience, your shipping information is provided below:  

Carrier Name : POST LOGISTICS – AUSTRALIA
Carrier Tracking Number : 249XXX6580 

You may track the status of your package using the POST LOGISTICS – AUSTRALIA website and the tracking number provided above.  There is also a direct link to the carrier tracking at our Repair Status Page.  The tracking number may take up to 24 hours to activate.

Unfortunately, it didn’t give a link to the POST LOGISTICS website so I googled and found http://www.postlogisticsinternational.com/Login/Login.aspx, nope, that’s not it. Then I tried again and found, http://www.auspost.com.au/postlogistics/home/, also nada. No sign of my package there either.

Concerned that the system had eaten my XBOX I pushed on and finally found:

http://www.ausposttracking.com.au/

…which is the correct site. All I’m saying is that a simple hyperlink in the email would have saved me (and everyone else who wants to track their repaired 360), in reality, less time than it took me to type this post , oh shut up!

Omega Drivers

I recently had to help a friend (hey Chris AKA Buzz) update the drivers on his laptop, an Asus F3JP, the same model as we have. The problem is/was that Asus no longer supports the unit with new drivers, even though it’s not that old and Buzz wanted to play a game which didn’t work for shit on the old drivers.

After much reading and dispair from people with similar problems and several hours on MSN with Buzz, I remembered the Omega drivers which are produced by a clever dude who modifies existing nVidia and ATI drivers to add extra features, performance and in this case, graphics chipsets.

Long story short, the drivers worked great but it was lucky Buzz had not yet upgraded his laptop to Vista since Omega hasn’t yet added Vista support, so unfortunately i’m out of luck until he does.

Click here to see the OMEGA drivers

The moral of this story is either to not buy a laptop from Asus (he says, as he types this on an eee PC 701) or simply not to buy a laptop with a wierd obscure almost proprietary GPU which isn’t supported by the laptop or GPU manufacturer (the X1700 for some reason doesn’t exist according to ATI).

Fringe pilot

So, I obtained this 90 minute pilot episode for the new show by the co-creator of LOST, here’s a synopsis:

Fringe is the fourth TV Series co-created by J. J. Abrams (Felicity, Alias, Lost) and also his fourth collaboration with co-creators Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (Alias, Mission Impossible III, Star Trek). It is produced by Warner Bros./Bad Robot, and deals with a research scientist named Walter Bishop (who Orci describes as “Frankenstein mixed with Albert Einstein”), his son, and a female FBI agent who brings them back together. The show is being described as a cross between The X-Files, Altered States and The Twilight Zone.[citation needed] Like Abrams’ previous TV shows, it will have an overarching mythology. A two-hour, $10,000,000 pilot is being produced,[citation needed] where Walter is in a mental hospital. Jeff Pinkner will serve as executive producer/showrunner.[1] The Fringe series premiere is scheduled for August 26, 2008 at 8:00 p.m. ET.

I liked it, but it’s no X-Files/LOST. Fans of massive (pun intended, you’ll get it when you see the show) conspiracies will love it, fans of gore and horror and pseudo science will like it, fans of procedural crime shows will hate it (you have enough shows already, so go watch CSI: The moon re-runs or something).

The bad news is that it’s a FOX show and I like it, so the chances of it being picked up or making it past about 7 episodes are pretty slim (see The Inside, Journeyman, Day Break among others)

New Gallery (and some other features)

I’ve added a gallery using the WPG2 plug-in for wordpress in combination with the freeware php gallery2 application. It took some serious wrangling and config but I think it looks good and works really well.

There is supposed to be a way for guest to make comments on the pictures but it doesn’t seem to be working through WordPress (only if you view the gallery natively using this link)

I’ve also added a subscription feature so if you enter your email address in the box in the sidebar you’ll get an email when I make a new post on the site.

Gallery2 info here.

WPG2 info here.