Posts from 15th January 2004

15
Jan 04

Chelsea 4 – 0 Watford.

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Chelsea 4 – 0 Watford.
The reason why holding the big team to a draw at your home ground can never be seen to anything but a slightly delayed result to the big club. Still you make a bob or two. But just don’t even think about calling it giant killing – more giant rousing.

“It was all going well and then you mucked it up. Trust a geologist!”

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“It was all going well and then you mucked it up. Trust a geologist!” Excerpt from the new series of Rough Science in which our host Kate Humble shows consternation at the new boy geologist getting the wrong kind of rocks to make Plaster Of Paris with (he needed Gypsum, they got Calcium Carbonate). It all seemed real enough, Humble moaned about how much of a pain it was chipping this supposedly very soft rock out, and her annoyance was too good to be feigned. However since this then lead to the additional BONUS SCIENCE fix of using the Sulphuric Acid in car batteries to chemically change it to Calcium Sulphate it all started to look like a bit of a fix.

Rough Science fits nicely into Mark’s bunch of rogue science shows which seem to be popping up at the moment (tuesday night followed by Crafty Tricks of WWII with exploding camel shit!). It is an Open University off shoot which along with Hollywood Science and Science Shack seem more about prolytising for how fun science is than engaging with any systematic discussion of the state of science. It posits the idea that working scientists are constantly thinking of ways to use their science knowledge to get them out of scrapes. However the scrapes in this show was inventing a gravity proof pen (aka a felt tip), make a plaque and send a verbal message over a long distance (the last one was the most iompressive as it involved the much more compicated than necessary light beams). They are merely science verisons of Scrapheap Challenge/Junkyard Wars where science is some of the stuff left lying around. And because it is science, despite the pseudo-competitiveness of the challenges, they will not be allowed to fail = the failure of science.

Like its sister programmes Rough Science is the Open University version of an open evening, or even a foundation course for potential students. In which case don’t expect to see too many applicants for Geology. Everyone knows that they’re untrustworthy.

Load “” Screen$

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Load “” Screen$
Waiting the three long minutes for a 16K Spectrum to load from tape was relieved by the loading screen. For the longer games (there is no real ZX Spectrum worthy of the name larger than 48K) there had better be an interesting or occassionaly animated screen using a clever loading routine. In the age of the interweb with Speccy Emulators you (usually) miss out on these screens which, to my mind, is a good thing ‘ the retinal burn of that purple ghost from AticAtac still blurs my vision 20 years later.

Litle did I know that this problem still dogs most gaming experiences. The wonders of other platforms were revealed to me recently with the all-platforms-ever Simpsons Hit and Run. It’s an OK game, a little repetitive, very Simpsons-y, I’d give it a B–. It would be a straight B except for the “Loading…” screens.

I didn’t play console games until about 1998/99 when I bought a 2nd hand N64 just to play Zelda, and I haven’t since been tempted by any games not available on Nintendo ‘ well Rez would be nice. The N64s, and previous Ninty, games were cartridge based ‘ a fact that arguably contributed to the N64’s failure with 3rd party developers, but also equally stopped widespread piracy. Whatever. Either way, from the gamer’s perspective it meant no “Loading…” screens, and somehow it’s only now that I’ve noticed the loading times on the Gamecube. (old IGN article)

Moving from the N64 cartridge system to the mini-DVD (1.5GB!) media of the Cube was traumatic for Nintendo but it was definitely the right decision given the technology available at the time. Come the next generation console, maybe multi-gigabyte cartridges will be feasible but the experience on the Cube is that it hasn’t effected gameplay enough to matter on well developed games. Most Cube games have put in the effort to make such times psychologically slip past you without noticing or at least caring. Metroid Prime did this in a number of ways, noticeably with cut scenes at major jumps across the map, and more sneakily with long corridors that allowed the machine to load the next bit of map before you ran to the other end. (There is one corridor where if you run the whole way, you can’t open the door at the end for a couple of seconds. hmmm.) I didn’t notice these times at all in Windwaker, and at least the simple fade in Rogue Leader was only when you clicked to skip the cut scene.

“Loading…” screens are totally aggravating, and a progress bar is even worse when it speeds up and down at random. The minimal effort to spice up the experience in Simpsons H&R was laughable ‘ at first the Itchy&Scratchy animations (a fuse on dynamite, Itchy sawing Scratchy’s head) were cute. That lasted two screens. Worst Loading Screen Ever

Five Thoughts About The Last Samurai: 5

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Five Thoughts About The Last Samurai: 5

Premise no.1: Battles are chaotic places
Premise no.2: Chaos is by its very nature unstructured
Conclusion: As long as you jerk the camera, constantly change the p.ov., put lots of gruesome special effects on the soundtrack and do not have an edit over two seconds you will be able to accurately reproduce what it is like to be in a battle fought with swords and bayonets.

There are a couple of lines of reasoning missing from this argument , and if you have them send them to director Ed Zwick. Because it doesn’t work on screen.

Five Thoughts About The Last Samurai: 4

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Five Thoughts About The Last Samurai: 4

I know villains are suppose to twirl their moustaches, but surely it is too much of a signal to the audience to have a villain whose moustache comes pre-twirled?

Five Thoughts About The Last Samurai: 3

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Five Thoughts About The Last Samurai: 3

Fans of Liquid Swords by the GZA/Genius will thrill at the moment when the Emporor sends his ninja spies to the Samurai village to kill everybody. Unfortunately fans of decent martial arts movies will note that, once the initial shock of the attack has past, how poorly handled the fight is. Obviously there is no realism involved, and the combat is all leaned to highlight the prowess and all round heroism of one Mr T.Cruise, but any Ninja spies worth their salt, given a mission to assasinate an entire village is much more likely to do it when they are asleep.

Five Thoughts About The Last Samurai: 2

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Five Thoughts About The Last Samurai: 2

The totality of Tom Cruise’s characters involvement in the politics of the Japanese situation seems to be, these people seem quite nice and are a bit like the savage Indians wot I killed lotsin the States and feel bad about. The fact that the samurai culture is entire based on fuedal warring and killing seems unproblematic, nor does leading most of his new mates in to certain death. Cheers!

Five Thoughts About The Last Samurai: 1

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Five Thoughts About The Last Samurai: 1

How much fun is it to watch Tom Cruise get tthe snot beat out of him with a stick. In the rain.
Answer: Lots and lots. Unfortunately it only happens once.