Angry Robot

Media Diary Day 4

Again, what with the busy, cosmopolitan life I lead, there’s not much to report. Only the latest episode of HOLY SHIT HOLY SHIT HOLY SHIT Lost. I keep on drafting posts about how awesome Lost is lately, and I shelve them because they get fanboyishly long without ever feeling like they’ve done the show justice. Suffice it to say this is some of the most complex storytelling I’ve ever experienced. If you’re not watching, you’re missing out – but tragically, I can’t even recommend you start watching, because you’d have to go through a hundred-hour boot camp that contains some headnoddingly dull passages (end of season two, beginning of three – that’s where I stopped watching for a bit there). Just know that the end of three through to season five have been headblowingly awesometastic.

Note to self and/or anyone else: a great service to Lost fans-to-be would be to compile a list of which episodes to watch and which to skip. When I tried to get into Buffy after the fact I yearned for such a thing, too. Get it down to 20 hours for season one two and three, and you could have a winner.

Anyway, fuckit, about this last ep. (SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER etc.) I believe, as many at the AV Club do as well, that Farraday’s theory is wrong, and they cannot change the past. Indeed, he must have realized this during the ep’s final scene. If they were able to, they would prevent the crash of their plane, which would prevent them from going back in time and changing the past. Moreover, it’s a disaster for dramatic tension – if anything can then be gone back on and changed, no actions are permanent, and nothing has any stakes. And it’s hella confusing. No, I’m pretty sure that (as things played out with Sayid and Ben) their actions taken to prevent the Incident will turn out to cause the Incident.

Another Lostie note: let’s not forget the “Adam and Eve” skeletons in the cave. The cave by the beach, where Sawyer and Juliet plan to go. Note the closeup of hand-holding. Also, while I get the sense that despite this season’s extant resurrections, Farraday’s death is permanent, there’s much more of his story to tell, including a) what his previous, brain-frying experiments entailed, b) what he got up to in Ann Arbor, and c) what reason his mother would have for sending him to the island, despite knowing it will cost him his life.

Finally, I think the greatest tribute to Lost is that a group of us can gather a day or two after an episode and spend longer than the episode’s run time discussing it. And not in a “Picard is better than Kirk” kind of way – although perhaps such things are equivalent from the point of view of someone who hasn’t printed out Dharma labels for things.

Media Diary Day 3

Hm. The media diary is getting pretty dull here. Perhaps a daily frequency is overkill. What do I have for ya today? More Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. So I’ve already mentioned that. One thing I like: there’s a title screen for each episode, and on that screen, the episode is labeled either ‘stand alone episode’ or ‘complex episode’, the latter being what we might call a mythology episode. It’s very user-friendly; I’d love it if Fringe had this. There’s always a tension between these two types of episodes, with the standalones favoured by the networks and first-time viewers, and the mythology episodes – the ones that serve the show’s overall story – the choice of faithful viewers and in most cases, the writers. I vastly prefer mythology episodes and don’t much like shows like CSI that are mostly standalones. However, the Ghost in the Shell stand alone episodes are really quite good. They really don’t fuck around with exposition, instead sometimes a character basically ‘briefs’ the audience as to what case they’re following. Then the rest of the ep follows a thriller structure, with a chase or infiltration, and the reveal at the end having to do with a technological possibility you hadn’t imagined before, like the tank whose creator downloaded his brain into it; or the Che Guevara-alike surviving assassination attempts with multiple clones.

I played no games. I read a bit of my book, which is Matter by Iain M. Banks. It’s killing it. His scifi books are swashbuckling space operas; their only ‘flaw’ in the past were that they could take hundreds of pages to get going. This one starts with a couple of battles and keeps the pace up. So far, anyway.

Fallujah Game Canceled

Konami cancels Six Days in Fallujah video game. “Despite the active involvement of dozens of Marines in creating the game, critics said that Konami was capitalizing on a war whose wounds were still fresh.” This is a big shame. People still see video games through the lens of escapist-exploitative-money-making, and not as a medium with a lot of potential to teach about the real world. I still remember playing Balance of Power) as a kid.

We need more documentary games!

Media Diary Day 2

Not much to report. Watched 24 and like ten minutes of Holmes on Homes, which I have developed a taste for after watching the Holmes in Katrina special. There is something elemental about it. The houses’ cracks always belie massive structural problems, which ALWAYS require a sweeping teardown, in which the house must be destroyed in order to be saved. I’m not sure if it’s a mythological retelling of the Bush administration, or a wish-fulfillment fantasy in which kind Canadians restore order and righteousness to the world.

24, well, you either like it or you don’t. (And talk about your Bush retellings. Is torture America’s greatest export or what? In today’s economic climate, can Obama really afford to close Guantanamo and stop extraordinary renditions?) Anyway, I’m certainly enjoying Evil Tony, but it seems inevitable that Jack will flip his Evil switch back to Good at some point.

Jack said “Right now, he’s our only lead.” Take a drink.

Other than that, I played about 10 minutes of Crisis Core. I know it has a more elaborate name than that. Now I loved Final Fantasy VII, and I loved Zelda (A Link to the Past). Why is it that I can’t seem to get into any jRPGs anymore? My suspicion is that I’ve simply grown tired of their mechanics. However, I still have a tolerance for Western RPGs, so perhaps the linearity of the Japanese games has grown tiresome. If all you get is the same story, having to press “A” over and over again for half an hour to get the next five minutes of it seems like a scammy way to have it delivered. Just render me off the cutscenes and call it a day, yo.

Panasonic Lumix GH1 Has a Price and a Ship Date

According to this video, which is to say according to a Panasonic spokesman, it will arrive in late May, for $1899 CDN. Ouch!

Media Diary Day 1

Hello, website. Here, I owe you a post. I’ve been meaning to experiment with a game diary. Hell, why not make it a ‘media’ diary, i.e. not just games – in case I don’t actually play any games. Which doesn’t seem very likely right now. Anyway, who knows, this may be even more boring and self-absorbed than normal. Or, it could be handy to refer back to later.

I’m casting around for a game to get into. I’ve tried many things, but nothing is sticking. I believe what I’m after is that feeling of absorption, which presumes that I absolutely love the game. Last time it happened was Fable 2, I believe.

Anyway, tried Far Cry 2 as I hear it is almost completely open, which seems to appeal to me these days. Unfortunately, it causes me motion sickness. Too bad – seems like a great game, and a refreshingly different setting.

Also managed to get past the level that was causing me grief in UniWar on the iPhone (mission 7). Not sure why they put such a hard one so early on, as the following mission is a cakewalk.

I watched a couple more episodes of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. It’s surprisingly good. You see the credit sequence with its barely-clothed girl prancing and shooting and you assume it’s going to be adolescent action bullshit. And then you get the plot where the sex androids are committing suicide en masse.

Finally watched Who Killed the Electric Car. Wouldn’t call it inspired, but it’s a fascinating story. The answer is of course ‘freemasons.’

In A Moment of Glorious Retrospection

I just finished importing most of the archives of d/blog. It was my blog before this one. My personal publishing history goes like this:

Until then, I’m certainly happy to have the archives back. It’s really more for personal symbolic reasons than an expectation that people will find them useful. I know there are tons of dead links and so forth, and the lack of an archive page makes navigation challenging. But this is where it starts, or this – in the backwards logic of weblogs, on page 126.

Jesus Christ, I’ve written a book.

Comments Closed

I’ve had to turn off comments. I’m totally bombarded by spam comment notifications, and it’s driving me insane. At the same time, no humans are commenting, so there’s not much of a loss.

I’m of two minds about comments in general: while I like the democratic ideal of everyone being able to weigh in, I also admire sites that concentrate on doing the thing they want to do, without too much concern for other people’s opinions. We’ll see how this thing shakes out, I guess.

Bell Tries to Punch the Internet in the Face, Again

Received a letter from the CEO of my ISP, Teksavvy. It states:

Bell has been directed by the CRTC to provide matching speeds which would allow us all to have more flexibility in our day to day online requirements. Instead of adhering to these directives, Bell decided to take this issue to the federal Cabinet and at the same time file a tariff application with the CRTC proposing to introduce Usage Based Billing (UBB) on its wholesale customer accounts.


If Bell were to be allowed to introduce UBB on this service, a cap of 60GB would be imposed on all of its users, with very heavy penalties per Gigabyte afterwards (multiple times more than our current per Gigabyte rate of $0.25/GB on
overages). This would inherently all but remove Unlimited internet services in Ontario/Quebec and potentially cause large increases in internet costs from month to month.

This is a total disaster, like most of Bell’s policies with regard to internet access lately. Anyway, he (Rocky Gaudrault) gives details about how to protest:

If you’d like to make your comments/concerns known about what Bell is
attempting to do, please do so here

Select the word “Tariff” from the drop down list.

Add the following in Subject Line “File Number # 8740-B2-200904989 – Bell Canada – TN 7181” and make your thoughts known!

This is what I wrote by way of complaint:

Please, do not allow Bell to apply UBB to wholesale accounts. I switched to Teksavvy precisely to avoid Bell’s backwards policies. We should not allow our internet service to get worse with time as every other technological measure gets better. The only reasons for it are the Bell / Rogers duopoly on internet service and their related failure to build infrastructure for the (totally predictable) growth of internet video; real competition must be allowed or we will fall even further behind other countries. Please ensure that Bell cannot force regressive billing practices upon wholesalers like my ISP. Instead, force them to invest in their infrastructure so we need not see bandwidth as a scarce resource.

The deadline is midnight tonight, so if you care about this, please submit a message.

The Panasonic Lumix GH1, and Some Accompanying Camera Porn

So I own a film SLR and a tiny, shitty Casio EXILIM digital point & shoot, which I have more or less ceded to my girlfriend as I was hating the pictures I was getting with it. My iPhone is a much worse camera, but at least I always have it with me, and I’ve taken a few decent pics with it. On the video side, last year I bought a Canon HV20 – quite a piece of kit. For $800, it offers 24p HD video.


I was looking for two things. One was a new still camera, and the second was a 35mm lens adapter for the HV20. Like many film dudes, I’m looking for a film-like look from my video camera. Those 24 frames a second are part of the look, but the other is film’s shallow depth of field, something video cameras never offer because of their small sensors. So you can get these adapters for cameras like the HV20 that allow you to mount 35mm lenses, and achieve a shallow DOF. At the low end, the kits are $400 – $500.

As for still cameras, I was torn between the Panasonic Lumix G1, which is more or less a DSLR except smaller, and the Canon G10, a top-of-the-line compact. I preferred the features of the G1, like the interchangeable lenses and lens-mounted focus and zoom. But the Canon is smaller and cheaper, and I had settled on that. It’s $450 in Canada.


Then I heard about Panasonic’s GH1.

It’s the same body as the G1, but it enables 1080p, and has a mic in. It’s better than a camcorder because of the SLR-sized sensor and the interchangeable lenses. And it’s better at video than more expensive SLRs, as it offers full manual control while shooting, somthing crippled in the Canon 5D, presumably to protect their video division. The lens it will be bundled with is a 28-280mm equivalent – allowing a great deal more versatility than the 50mm prime I would have bought for my HV20.


This shit is a big deal. It will be about $1500 (as far as I can tell), expensive for a still camera, and more than the HV20. But if it successfully serves both purposes, there will be a lot of people like myself who will be kinda-sorta saving money by only having one device instead of two. Here is a sample gallery from Panasonic’s site.

Now, it won’t be out for a month or two, and there are some questions and downsides – pulldown removal is still required for full 1080p, the lens may not quite be as fast as one might hope, and really, until the tests and reviews are in, who knows? It could turn out to suck horribly for some completely unforeseen reason.

But has that ever stopped film geeks like myself from getting excited about this shit? Hell no.

It’s an amazing time. With Moore’s Law now applied to just about everything but orange juicers, I knew that the day would come where we’d have film power like this in our Joe Sixpack hands. But I’m old enough to remember Hi-8 and editing off VHS tapes, so it feels crazy to have that day actually here. It’s like getting a Lamborghini for $500.

Undoubtedly in two years this camera will look like kid stuff, and I’ll be shooting IMAX from each of the thousands of swarm cameras that hover about me in a fine, invisible mist. Or, more realistically, the RED scarlet will push prices down all over the place. And you know what? Bring it on. Better-looking footage for more people is never a bad thing.

Raw Shit

SHE: Oh Shit, Dog shit
Suck my dick, bitch

HE: No, its:
Raw shit, aw shit
Slapped in the face with dog shit
I see some haters
Get on the ground and shine my balls, bitch

No, that’s the second half. The first is… What is it?

IPOD: Raw shit, raw kicks
Get in the way, might get your jaw split
Aw shit, I see some haters
Don’t step to me until you get some balls, bitch
Raw shit, raw spit
Get smacked in the face with dog shit
Aw shit, I see some bitches
Get on the floor and shine my balls, bitch

HE: Pretty hard to remember.

We Used To Make Shit

“We used to make shit in this country, build shit. Now we just put our hand in the next guy’s pocket.”


“Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.”

Some recent iPhone Games

Zen Bound


If Bandai Toy Company can cease & desist anyone who even so much as thinks “Godzilla,” it would only be fair if Bodhidharma was granted trademark in perpetuity for the term “Zen”. It’s used to grant instant connotations of spiritual high-mindedness to many items that may or may not deserve it, which is a most un-zen word game. Such is the case with “Zen Bound,” the $5 iPhone game being greeted with surprising accolades from game reviewers.

Zen Bound is a puzzle game in which you wrap wooden objects with rope. As rope touches wood, paint spreads, and the game keeps track of the surface you have covered. When you have achieved 70% coverage, you can move on to the next object, and they get increasingly complicated. I will say that this makes perfect use of the touch screen. It takes about five seconds to get used to rotating objects with your fingers, and then you’re in the game. It couldn’t be done on anything but the iPhone (okay, possibly the DS). Also, the design is absolutely beautiful. What I will also say is that this is basically a tech demo. There are no variations in gameplay to speak of, and it fails to ignite the sort of compulsive addiction that makes simple games like Pac-Man infinitely replayable. I suppose you don’t expect much from a $5 puzzle game, but then again, $5 buys a lot of game on the App Store, and I hesitate to recommend something that may only last you an hour or two.

Zen Bound – iTunes Store link



This thing has been tearing up the charts, squatting atop the App Store sales list like a vampire on his prey – and rightly so. Even with the price up to $3 from $1, it’s still a crazy steal. It’s basically a dual-stick shooter like Geometry Wars or Everyday Shooter, except that you control a gun-crazy monster fighter, as if John Rambo was crushed into a fine powder and injected into the arm of Dr. van Helsing. It controls via two virtual pads at the bottom of the screen, which works surprisingly well. Wave after wave of new species of horror creature comes at you, and you fend them off by upgrading your guns and redeeming ‘perks’ (move faster, do more damage, etc.). It offers three different maps and four different game modes. The downsides: 1. that’s a pretty stupid name too, and 2. it’s possible to work your dude into a corner where he’s obscured by your thumbs on the virtual pads. Not a deal-breaker though; this is an excellent little game.

iDracula – iTunes Store link



Similar to Zen Bound, this is a puzzle game with artistic merit and some clever use of the iPhone’s technology. Unlike Zen Bound, it introduces new gameplay elements to keep play fresh. It’s also more action-ey, more addicting, and fiendishly hard.

Eliss makes use of multitouch – it requires you to get more than one finger involved. The general idea is you have to keep different-coloured planets separate, while joining or splitting them with those of their own hue until you can match them with a similarly-sized supernova and clear them from the board. This holds true until stage three, when vortexes appear that exert gravity upon the poor unsuspecting planets, and require a huge finger commitment to keep them from colliding. That’s as far as I’ve gotten.

The art style is retro-fantastic, with jagged, simple shapes and an 8-bit score. I would heartily recommend this game were it not for the brutal difficulty. Multiple fingers requires dividing up your attention multiple ways, and we only each get one brain, after all. However, if you’re the masochistic sort who doesn’t mind failing a level multiple times before finally prevailing, then this is a good game for you.

Eliss is currently $4.

Eliss – iTunes Store link

Galaxy on Fire


This promises to be a 3D space adventure, in which you play a mercenary, performing missions, shooting bad guys, trading goods, and upgrading your ship. In other words, it’s the sort of game my brain plays when it’s thinking of what heaven must be like. Except – EXCEPT! – the control is terrible. TERRIBLE! (Okay, I’ll stop doing that now. NOW! Sorry, that was it.)

Where was I? Right, shaking my fist at the control on this biznitch. You have a choice between touch and accelerometer control, which is like a choice between vomit soup and turd cake. The calibration is all out of whack on either – you’ll feel like the world’s shittiest space captain, calling out “sorry! I can’t steer this thing!” as the guy who paid you to protect him goes down in flames. You try to adjust the sensitivity, and even that is hard to do accurately. Yup, score this one as Hurried Mobile Ports 1, iPhone 0. Hopefully the controls can be tweaked in a later update, as I’m pretty sure there’s a decent game here somewhere.

Galaxy on Fire is currently $6.

Galaxy on Fire – iTunes Store link