Month: March 2011

Will the REAL Wonder Woman please stand up?

Just a small followup to my fellow blogger’s post on this, it seems NBC has a slight functional sense of shame and has revamped the costume, somewhat. Still this is all just turd polishing when the basic work of finding the right actress has been screwed up so horribly, because there is no way Palicki resembles the Rucka-era Wonder Woman, probably the sole reason the character picked up popularity this decade.

The original costume was so ridiculous that it got massively panned by anyone with vaguely functional eyes, but it’s made even sadder when the problems could have been mitigated if they had given any thought at all to the costume during the brainstorming process. It had the worst of both worlds, basically taking the current alternative costume used now on JMS’ run in the comic (which to be fair, had a mixed reaction too, but it was nowhere near the kerfuffle NBC received for their attempt), but changing the costume in terms of coloring and highlights to try to appeal to classic fans. As usual, it pleased no one.

After the shock at seeing the costume for the first time died down, fans consoled themselves with thought exercises in trying to find an optimal design, where the most promising ideas usually came from cosplayers and convention folks. Others lamented on what could be with various other actresses in the role, such as Cobie Smulders, who clearly is a better fit for the Adam Hughes ideal than Palicki.

Needless to say, all this ranting is rather academic, and serves only to allow the fandom to blow off steam. The show is almost assured of bombing, since they can neither get the costume, main character casting nor the choice of director right. Still NBC is desperate, and more importantly, committed at this late stage, which just serves to give the coming trainwreck a tragicomic quality.

Turns out things are much worse in Libya than thought possible

It seems like my analysis here has been a tad optimistic, judging from the coverage here by Time:

“The loyalists’ rapid advance on Benghazi last week before the coalition air strikes began also shook the fledgling rebel movement. Much of Benghazi’s civilian population has fled to towns farther east, and some of the previously prominent rebel leaders and defecting military commanders appear to have gone to ground. Amid rising fears of fifth columnists and Gaddafi sniper cells amid the loyalist push on the city last Friday and Saturday, some have also grown more suspicious of the soldiers who defected. “The big problem here is that most of the revolutionary guys don’t trust the military people because a lot of military guys were with Gaddafi from the start,” says Najla Elmangoush, a criminal-law professor at Benghazi’s Garyounis University and an activist at council headquarters. “We welcomed them when they joined,” she adds. “But people are concerned that maybe they’ll try anytime to change sides.” The regime is trying to encourage that fear, spreading false rumors last weekend that rebel commander Younis had returned to the regime’s camp.”

That’s not even considering such basic issues as the rebels using the mobile phone network to relay orders (they probably haven’t imposed any control on the chain of communication, so there’s no way it’s not a complete gaggle geese effect), and if that fails, they use motorized runners in medieval 2011. Short of the Western infidels hijacking their precious picnic war, which the rebels manifestly reject, there’s nothing here Gaddafi needs to worry about short of assassination.

Grapevines are completely overrated these days

So, any of you “old birds” remember a wee little site going by the name of Tom’s Hardware Guide? No? Then gather around the fire, all ye young ‘injuns, for we are about to speak of The Years Not Beginning With Two. A certain Doktor Tom Pabst started what was possibly the first of its kind to hit the enthusiast mainstream. Back then, it WAS something relatively new, a forefather of sorts for the IT hardware review sites that are common today. Which is not to say it was an exemplar of tech journalism, but it was at least somewhat respectable. Then the bubble burst, and the site subsequently entered the Void of Dubious Quality and hasn’t looked back since as it plunged gleefully into the stygian depths. So why bring up all this tl:dr stuff, you might ask?

Why….

This. Taken on its own, the hilarity is already pretty obvious, but this shooting of the foot makes it far more delicious. That’s not even taking in account the irony that it jumped the gun on Firefox 4’s release by pointing to non-final builds of the browser, which is emblematic of the sorry levels of tech journalism these days.

What next, a pyramid of skulls?

After nine years, hardly anyone is surprised by this anymore. What struck me was the comment by the defence lawyer:

“His court martial hearing begins this week. Morlock has already agreed to plead guilty to murder, conspiracy and other charges, and to testify against his co-defendants in return for a maximum sentence of 24 years in jail.

His lawyers have said that while he might be “physically responsible” for his crimes, “the people who are morally responsible are the American leaders who have us in the wrong war at the wrong time”.”

Ah, the Americans, once more demonstrating to the world their peerless ability to take responsibility for personal failings.

EDIT: Well, well well……what have we here…

Air strikes, Day 3. Much ado about nothing?

All too predictably, this happens after the long-delayed vaunted airpower finally arrived. This people’s uprising is just that, a people’s uprising, which means it’s essentially a mob. The problem has been exacerbated by three main factors:

  1. There’s now a permanent fear in the mindset of the rebel forces after that immense asskicking they received all the way from Bin Jawad back to the outskirts of Benghazi. In fact, for all the talk of months of hard urban fighting in Benghazi the city nearly fell in a few days when Gaddafi’s forces went for broke and tried to replicate the Misurata situation where they were entrenched within the city itself. Short of having a hard-fought major victory for new recruits, nothing is going to break that mentality, and it’s not possible to have that kind of victory when you have no command and control to speak of and rout at the slightest setback. It’s becoming a chicken and egg issue.
  2. Most of the civilian veterans are either dead in that long retreat or have become stuck behind enemy lines essentially, forming the small but generally ineffectual pockets of resistance within captured cities, possibly due to having families in them. Without those as the core of the rebel force the militia approach has to start from scratch using the smaller Benghazi manpower pool.
  3. That civilian pool of the rebel recruits is a major part of the problem, because once they have been armed they showed little sign of obeying any kind of central orders and will hare down the road west in little groups, with predictable outcomes. The only way this can be rectified is to hold them in Benghazi for a month of training before doing the major offensive, because dribbling green recruits out as soon as you get them is complete suicide against a proper military. There’s the added bonus that the Western air powers will start hitting the logistics chain of the Gaddafi in the weeks ahead, and it’s possible most of the mercenaries will think twice about sticking around once ammunition (and more importantly, the pay) starts running out.

If the international forces expect the rebels to topple Gaddafi as things stand now, the best they’re going to get is a partitioned Libya east of Sirte. They could reload this saved games a million times and the outcome will stay the same. Considering the political pressure internationally with just three days gone, this operation is unlikely to last a month. Either a cruise missile has to find Gaddafi as he’s sitting on the crapper, or the “advisors” on the ground for the West has to run the whole show for the Libyans. Nothing else is going to work, unless the US is willing to commit ground troops, and that’s just not going to happen.

top spin 4 review

Vintage Agassi
Image is (still) Everything.

I confess. I don’t think I had ever been more eager to buy a game than Top Spin 4.   Considering the fact that I had played every installment of the series (from it’s Microsoft roots to the current Sports2K publisher) I had a lot of high hopes riding on the latest incarnation.

First the bad :  The game has definitely been ‘tweaked’  in an attempt to attract new fans to the game.  It is not exactly being dumbed down as I had read on game sites, but you’ll notice a lot of ‘tips’ during gameplay.

The game now has a lot of indicators such as where the ball will land, ‘powerbars’ to let you know how to gauge one’s shot and even a comment to tell you about how the timing of the shot had been after executing the shot.  Personally, I think these are great additions…in theory. But fails as a whole because you would end up becoming obsessed to hitting that perfect shot and start wondering what the hell went wrong when you hit anything less than perfect.  Also, it’s fucking distracting when you are playing on the opposite court.

Yes. You can now play on the opposite court.  This is a really important feature that I’m not entirely sure Top Spin 3 had.  Case in point, when playing the game with four players, the two at the near court would have such a huge advantage over the players on the far end. Depth perception is a total bummer in all tennis games…but it is also what makes tennis games so fun to play, in my humble opinion.

Another thing that reeaaaaaallllly bugged the hell outta me is this irritating sound *tuk* sound made during option selection.  Then again, it could be my lousy TV causing this though.

Phew, with all that is being said…now, lets look at the positives of the game.

I love this game.  No, I fucking love this game.

The most immediate thing you’d notice (that is if you play a lot of Top Spin) is that the game is so much smoother now. Game loading is a fraction of what TS3 had been and the graphics… in the words of The Lonely Island, I jizzed in my pants.

Casual fans may not notice the little things, but hot damn…they have outdone themselves this time by capturing the little quirks of individual tennis players.  Roger Federer’s stance is so uncanny to what he does in real life to Nadal’s way of holding his racquet when he waits for the ball to be served….mind-blowing.

There is even a  triva box to tell you how long the rally was, and how long had it had been since I lost a point (Yes, I am awesome in normal mode) A huge kudos to the game developers on this.  (That being said, how come they remove a simple action gesture like…bouncing the ball before serving, I cannot  understand..but that’s the fanboy in me being paranoid about the game.)

Speaking of players, while the fantasy of getting to have every single famous player in one game remains as such, the game does boast of an impressive roster of Tennis legends such as Ivan Lendel, Boris “Boom Boom” Becker, Pete Sampras and not one, but TWO Andre Agassi (who’s my personal idol..all two of them)

The flamboyant Las Vegas Showman is in the game as the current baldie as well as the mullet haired luminous self.  A big shame is that due to sponsorship issues, we won’t get to see his vintage Nike outfits (he currently dons Adidas)

And while we’re on the topic of outfits, being the Nike Slut as I am, I am sooooo amazed by the details of the players.  Although I had only played two games, I was actually drooling over Federer’s 2009 US Open top which is so realistic in its details.

(And while we’re on the topic of details. Fuck Me sideways.  They even had Nadal’s $427,000 Richard Mille in the game.)

Great Details: check out the Richard Mille on Nada's right wrist!!!

But, the developers should really follow the way of PES/Winning 11 and include updates for player’s outfits. Now, THAT would really make the game really awesome.

IF you realise I’ve only been focusing on the asthetics of the game, it’s really because the gameplay may need further improvement in the AI department.  At my first attempt at playing the game on Normal mode, my Agassi demolished Lendel with a white wash (6-0,6-0) on Clay (which I must say, looks even more awesome than its already impressive prequel)

My second game using Federer vs Sampras was much more interesting. While I am still playing at normal mode, Sampras clearly was way more aggressive than Lendel’s baseline tactics.  I even lost a game. *gasp!*

I can’t wait to get back to playing more of the game right now, and the only reason why I even had time to type this lengthy review is only because I had to let my mum watch TV.

All in all, Top Spin 4 has retained the crown of the best tennis game out there in the market.  I cannot wait to test it out with human players, where the gameplay would be completely different.

Who knows, I may even write out another review for this awesome game.

So, watch this space, folks.

My rating (if you still can’t tell) : 9 out of 10. Almost perfect.

(Note : I do not have the Playstation Move, so I would have zero idea what gameplay that would be possibly like)

Please donate to the Japan tsunami disaster relief

Hello, this is the owner of the blog. Regular readers of our blog (all three and a half of you, you know who you are) know we are just a bunch with no agenda beyond writing whatever we want to write about and having fun doing it. This would be the first time I’m writing about something serious.

I presume every one of you who might see this post knows about the situation in Japan. On the 11st of March, Japan was struck by a massive 8.9/9 magnitude earthquake and the resulting tsunami was devastating.

We have all seen the videos and the horrifying photographs of the aftermath, and if you have been keeping up, you know the news getting out to us is worse by the day.

I’m asking you as a fellow citizen of the world, please donate to the relief efforts.

Fellow Singaporeans, as of now (6:20pm UTC +08:00, 14th March 2011) our local Red Cross has finally gotten their permit to raise funds. I will be updating this post with information as it becomes available.

EDIT: all links removed in favour of Google’s crisis response page. Proceeds go directly to the Japanese Red Cross.

This is no static Hokusai

Scene of almost complete devastation at Minamisanriku, Miyagi

Japan has now upgraded the quake to magnitude 9.0 on the Richter, which would tie it for the 4th largest quake since 1900. The township of Minamisanriku depicted above is probably the hardest hit, with nearly half the population missing and most of the buildings near-obliterated.

EDIT: There is a donation banner for the Red Cross in the sidebar. Please help whatever you can, readers…

The West, found wanting when it really matters

This is just a very grim indication of the fate of the rest of the uprising when Gaddafi is through with them. As stated succinctly by Ranj Alaaldin for the Torygraph, “he has bided his time, tested the West’s resolve and is ready to take Libya back“. Given that Gaddafi is highly unlikely to run out of cash and it’s even less likely to run out of bullets/mortar rounds (all sitting prettily in his desert depots that are safely away from rebel regions) before the rebels run out of warm bodies, it’s very likely that even if any sort of limited international military action was agreed upon, it would be far too late by the time of implementation to really matter.

With the tide turning it will also see the end of any potential defections from Gaddafi’s military units, which means the status quo is overwhelmingly in his favour. The rebels will only weaken over time, even above their depressing logistical, command and technological inferiority issues, and the rate at which Gaddafi advances will increasingly pick up. With the EU/NATO paralyzed in disagreement over any sort of action beyond vague recrimination and seizing of liquid assets, much less push anything through the UN Security Council with Russia/China playing their usual spoiler role, it would not be surprising to me if his troops were outside Benghazi in a week, clearly a strategic objective if Tobruk is to be recaptured.

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