Year: 2008

Sueetie

All I can say is, SUEET! It is a project that integrates best of breed Open Source .NET software to produce an online community suite. That makes it a direct competitor to Community Server and, to a smaller extent, mojoPortal.

I’ll be looking at the possibility of migrating That Stupid Club which is currently running on CS to Sueetie. CS was nice, and for a while was the only choice, but it is just too big and too complex to customise easily.

Ip Man

07459091

3 out of 5 stars

I left the cinema with a strange feeling of dissatisfaction after watching Ip Man, Donnie Yen’s latest kung fu flick.

The film talks about the life (and brief) times of the title character, a practitioner of Wing Chun Martial Arts whom was considered the most highly skilled martial artist whose disciples would include the legendary Bruce Lee.

The movie, if you excuse the cheesy pun, literally packs a punch. Donnie Yen portrays Ip Man as a modest family man who is always ready to offer a helping hand but would never asks for any in return. The opening fight scene between Ip and a fellow master is a masterpiece showcase in this genre. The viewer has no doubt that the challenger is out to probably humiliate Ip, but instead, he was offered hospitality by Ip. And strangely, this increases my curiosity of how good Ip really is. And the fight does not disappoint. While most fighting movies aims for the absurdity these days, the opening fight scene demonstrates how control and discipline can be even more impressive. Ip whom easily outmatched his opponent could have easily beaten him to a pulp not only held back most of his punches; he modestly thanks the opponent for doing the same afterwards.

It was at this time, when my friend turned and told me “I love this movie!” I eagerly concur, but once again I spoke too soon.

The second to third act of this movie unfortunately derailed from the intial set up. The Japanese invasion came along and all in Fo Shan goes to hell. And all these eventually led to a series of ‘misunderstandings’ which results in some meaningless over the top fight scenes which turned Ip turn from the humble kungfu master into a one man Mortal Kombat-ish fighting machine. All these of course are an overly elaborate lead to the final showdown between Ip and the Japanese General Miura, whom surprise surprise, happens to be a highly skilled kung fu Master in his own right.

Oddly enough, I was more than ready to ‘forgive’ all that went wrong with the movie if this last fight was played out … respectfully. And I humbly offer my thoughts on what totally went wrong with the third act.

The scene that personally I feel could have saved the movie was when General Miura came in to offer Ip a meal on the night before the big fight; a mirror of the opening scene of the show don’t you think? I would rather have Miura and Ip use the scene to state their respect for each other’s skills in Martial arts and I would imagine that the two are opposite sides of the same coin entwined in the middle of WW2. But alas, Ip sprouted some speech on Jap bashing, and later on, bashed up the Japanese General. *YAWN!*

You probably think I’ve put too much thought into a simple kungfu movie, but what I’m trying to say is what should have been a great film on the spirit of wushu, ends up as another generic chop-socky flick, and to that, I lament.

Irregular Oblivioning: The Essentials

The Elder Scrolls IV - Oblivion

I’ve been a fan of the Elder Scrolls series since the Arena days and apart from the action adventure Redguard I’ve played them all (never did finish Arena or Daggerfall though, pesky bugs…).

The series really took off with Morrowind. While the main quest was OK, if a bit formulaic, the excellent plugins feature and the Construction Set were what really made the game shine, and almost instantly a huge community sprung up around Morrowind modding.

Oblivion continued the fine tradition of extensibility. I started playing it earlier this year, as I did not have a PC capable of running it. I did not even bother to finish the main quest as I did with Morrowind before downloading and using user-created mods.

I’ll be writing about a series of posts about the Oblivion mods I’m using mostly for my future reference, but I’m hoping somebody else will find them useful too.

And remember, whatever you want to change in-game, somebody’s probably already done it.

In this first post, I’ll be doing through files that I consider musts for every Oblivion on PC player (Xbox 360 and PS3 Oblivion can’t use user-created content, sorry).

Before everything else, make sure you have the last official patch (v1.2.0416 at the time of writing). You should ideally get the Shivering Isles expansion as it adds a few scripting functions. Well you should get it anyway, as the quest is actually more interesting than the Main Quest.

First up, you want, nay, need Timeslip’s Oblivion Mod Manager. As its name imples, it manages your mods. But more than that, it handles OMOD files which are specially packed mods. This utility can easily add or remove mods, warn of file conflicts and most importantly, mod authors can provide an installation script which allows one to, say, install optional parts of the mod. Always prefer OMOD if that option is available from the author or perhaps a third-party, and its usually worth it to make your own OMOD if not. And for the mod authors who are not yet providing OMODs officially, what are you waiting for? Get to it. Follow the instructions!

Even fully patched up, Oblivion has bugs. Modders to the rescue though. Grab the Unofficial Oblivion Patch. You will want the Shivering Isles and Official Mods patches too if you have them. Bethsoft should be paying these guys for what they do. OMODs are available.

You will want one of the UI mods too Out of the box Oblivion looks like a console game. Everything’s just so…big. And clumsy. Modders to the rescue, again. BTmod was the gold standard for a long time, but its been superseded by the excellent DarNified UI. It’s what Oblivion PC should have been. Personally I’m using DarkUI’d DarN. Both DarN UIs comes in delectable OMODs.

Now grab the Better Oblivion Sorting Software, fomerly known as the FCOMhelper. Official description: ‘A simple program for mod users to quickly optimise load ordering of ESP/ESM files in their Oblivion load-order.’ MS Visual C++ Runtime 2008 is a requirement.

With these mods you will still be getting the Vanilla Oblivion experience. Next up, foundations.

Goodnight, Quinnware

Looks like its lights out at quinnware.com, home of QCD and QMP. I’ve still not found a suitable replacement for QMP yet and I probably was still hoping for that one last release despite the months of silence from the developer, but I guess the search is that much more urgent now.

Thanks for the years of aural pleasure.

Update 23-Nov: Looks like its a server hardware failure, whew…

Update 3-Jan: Happy New Year! Looks like quinnware.com is kind of back… at test.quinnware.com, with a new design to boot! Let’s hope we’ll get more news soon.

Sakamoto Ryuichi – Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence

I remember watching Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence when I was a wee lad, back when I didn’t even know who David Bowie was. I remember hardly anything about the movie itself, but I’ve never forgotten the beautiful theme song.

This is a live performance, off Mr Sakamoto’s Ryuichi Sakamoto Trio: World Tour 1996 – Complete Version DVD.

Comodo Internet Security Released

I’ve mentioned that I’m using Comodo Firewall as my software firewall solution. Version 3 was even better than version 2, with low CPU utilisation (even while engaging in heavy P2P sessions) and secure (ranked consistently near the top in the Matousec firewall tests).

And now version 3.5 (renamed the Comodo Internet Security) has been released and featuring an optional anti-virus component. I cannot speak for the efficacy of the anti-virus component, but the engine feels very light, and the definitions get three or four updates a day. If the quality of the firewall is anything to go by, the anti-virus engine is one to keep an eye on.

Best of all? Its free (as in beer).

The final build is available in the forums, but the public facing sites have not been updated yet.

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