University Power

Monday, October 8 2012 at 00:00 (Daily Life, Games, Trips)

Not sure why ‘power’. But I figured that just ‘University’ would be a boring title.

To start off with, unfinished business. obviously I never cleared up how things ended up in Japan, mostly because I was busy in Tokyo and then as soon as I got home a lot of things happened, then I had a lot of free time but was feeling lazy. Sendai was wonderful and extremely nice and one of my favourite places I visited in Japan. Tokyo was very nice as well, but somewhat bigger and scarier than Sendai (though no Japanese cities ever really feel scary because it’s such a safe country). I met up with Marie and Daniel and we did exciting things and I went to Comiket and it was awesome and I went up Tokyo Tower (though not Tokyo Skytree) and did some other things that slip my mind right now.

Basically the whole trip was a stunningly fantastic experience. I met fantastic people that I hope I’ll be able to keep in contact with for years to come and did amazing things that I won’t ever forget. I can’t wait until I get the chance to go back.
So when I got home I found out that I’d got into Nottingham university, which was surprising but rather nice overall. After that I spent around a month and a half gradually accruing university things and failing to do much in the way of packing. I did some more work on the Mid Suffolk Light Railway but overall I was rather unfocused and not exactly working on anything. There was one Head-Fi meet on the 15th of September which was pretty awesome apart from the fact that I got rather lost in Cambridge on the way back after kindly dropping someone off at the train station. I heard an SR-009 and Blue Hawaii SE combo and it was pretty good, but still not leaps and bounds ahead of my rig.

On the 22nd of September I made the journey up to Nottingham with two rather full rucksacks on a pathetically short two-hour train journey (it would probably have been about half an hour by Shinkansen) and spent a night on the floor of a friend who’s at Nottingham Trent. His parents, one of whom is my godmother, had kindly brought up the majority of their stuff in their car.
The actual excitement started on the 23rd, when roads were locked with traffic and confused students had seemingly taken over the universe – I was obviously not one of them, moving around confidently and only feigning confusion. After arriving relatively painlessly, getting my keys and moving in all my stuff we discovered that my hall wasn’t providing pillows and duvets – the hall information had very specifically said ‘bring bed linen (pillow and duvet covers and sheets)’ but didn’t mention the actual bedding itself. We went off to the nearby gigantic Tesco but the aforementioned students had raided the bedding hard and all that remained was king size duvets and a few other scraps. I managed to get an extremely cheap ‘extra-thin keep-you-cool’ duvet and a Tesco Value pillow. Both were pretty shit, but I figured that they’d work temporarily and I could replace them later on.
On the way back from Tesco the traffic was so bad that I ended up jumping/getting pushed out of the car, abandoned in Nottingham to fend for myself. I made my way back to the campus and my hall and then got to work assembling my bedside table using my exciting new tools (hammer, both types of screwdriver, needle-nose pliers, tape measure – everything necessary for 94% of problems) and then there were some speechy introduction things and some more things and food. I ended up talking with a group of three girls on the way to the big speech thing and then later I somehow ended up in one of their rooms…
Watching Doctor Who. Aw yeah. This is exactly what I hoped for in university.

The first week was pretty uneventful for me – I managed to go to an excessive number of pub quizzes but got struck with Fresher’s Flu very early on because of excessive rain and lack of an umbrella and so spent much of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday curled up after dosing up on ibuprofen rather than going out and having fun. I had a variety of struggles with the university network, which requires one to have Windows 7 SP1 installed to connect, something that I have had problems with in the past. I tried a lot of things and talked to an exceptionally unhelpful IT guy and his crony, who suggested that I might try looking online for the solution to my problem. Obviously. I would never have thought of that one. I later found out that most of the reason that I wanted to get off the guest internet and use the main network was moot because I wanted to be able to use Steam and play League of Legends and use IRC… all of which are blocked by the firewall anyway. Oh well, there are workarounds.

Lectures have been fairly interesting so far, involving quite a bit of maths but with a few modules having more of a focus on structure. I think the trickiest module will be engineering maths, which is essentially just a pure maths module with no application to real problems and covers lots of Further Maths things like complex numbers and matrices. I still have no idea how either of them are relevant to civil engineering.
Probably my favourite lecture/lesson is interfaculty Japanese, which I somehow managed to get timetabled for me as a credited module instead of a optional (and uninteresting) engineering module after a bit of wiggling. Sure all we’ve learned so far is ten Hiragana and how to introduce ourselves (something I’m well up on) but I’m sure that I’ll get to something new in the next few weeks.

Socially I’ve been doing my best but haven’t exactly been partying hard. I’ve avoided any and all clubbing so far and most heavy drinking sessions, though I have joined the people in my block a few times for corridor parties. I seem to be getting on well with most people, though I haven’t found any single person that I’ve become particularly good friends with yet.
In other news… OH MAN THAT GODDAMN CLG EU VS WORLD ELITE GAME. I was up until 4am watching that and it still didn’t manage to conclude. Thank the benevolent gods for Jatt and Deman casting like bosses for 8 hours straight. Oh, and the finish to that CLG NA vs SK game was pretty intense.

That is all.


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The Rolling Western: Synopsis

Wednesday, February 22 2012 at 23:24 (Games)

I am a silent armadillo cowboy who saves the villages of southern American animals from having their Scrogs (which look like nikuman with legs) eaten by evil Grocks (giant rocks with legs) and also helping them breed more Scrogs by collecting Scruffles for them to eat. I defend villages through a combination of rolling into things and killing them and using strategically placed towers with comedically gigantic guns mounted on them to blow shit up.

This game is the balls.

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Some Thoughts on Super Mario 3D Land

Friday, November 25 2011 at 02:18 (Anime, Games, Music, Reviews) (, , )

So I got my copy of Super Mario 3D Land last Friday and completed it with all the star coins some time around Wednesday. Here are some thoughts:

  • The name is dumb. Yes Super Mario 3D Land is technically more correct than Super Mario Land 3D, but everyone wants to call it the latter and it’s just a much easier name to say.
  • Okay, the opening sucks. Yeah there was some wind blowing on a tree, but really nothing to get you pumped for playing the game. After Mario Galaxy came out I kind of hoped that a cinematic opening would become the standard for the flagship Mario titles. As it is, no Mario games since have come close. I mean seriously, Galaxy 1 had two whole cinematic sequences (at the beginning and the end) and it was enough to make the whole experience that much more epic. I’m not talking about story here either; I just want like one set piece per game.
  • Hub worlds. They’re awesome, and have been a feature in pretty much every 3D Mario game. Sure they’ve diminished over the years, going from castles to just flying space observatories to just planetoids shaped like Mario’s head, but they’re a space to mess around in and hide neat little secrets. There was a surprising amount packed in to that head-planet in Galaxy 2. Another feature of a hubworld is that it lets you try out and find moves. I didn’t even know that I had a forward roll until about 80% of the way through the game.
  • The difficulty is slightly wonky. Given that there is a map system that forces you to play levels in sequence rather than being able to skip certain star challenges, having a sudden harder level amidst some easier ones could be really offputting for some people. Then again, I probably made it significantly harder for myself by trying to get every star coin first time around. Even then…
  • It’s not easy. At least, some of the later levels in the special worlds aren’t easy. When I finished the regular worlds I had accumulated ~100 lives, which I then beefed up to ~600 lives using a Koopa shell trick. By the time I finished Bowser for the last time, I had less than 500 lives. If I hadn’t used the extra lives trick, I’m not even sure I would have broken even. It’s probably easier than SMG2 and NSMB Wii, but it’s harder than those games’ predecessors.
  • No. 1 cause of death. This might cause a smirk for you anti-3DS types out there, but here it is: depth perception. I think this is more to do with the size of the screen than anything. I can’t remember the number of times I accidentally jumped forward or behind a platform and tumbled to my demise. Arguably this might have more to do with the sensitivity of the slide pad than the 3D effect, but there you go.
  • Time limits. Yeah, the levels are more linear and there’s less to explore than in other 3D Mario games and I never ran out of time whilst playing (even on the time trial levels) but having a time limit ticking down still bugs me.
  • The run button. This is a particular annoyance brought over from the 2D Mario games, where (since they are normally played with a d-pad) it’s kind of necessary. But the 3DS has an analogue slide pad! So now I have to hold down a button in order to do something I want to be doing pretty much all the time. This hits the long jump (one of my personal favourite moves) pretty hard because it only goes a decent distance if you’re running. So to pull off a long jump you have to hold down X/Y, move the slide pad and then press a shoulder button and then A/B straight after. It’s a lot trickier than it might sound, and pretty much useless when you can get just as far by simply running and jumping.
  • The backflip. It’s been nerfed too. You have to charge it for a few seconds now.
  • The music. It’s decent, but nothing memorable. Quite a few tracks are ripped wholesale from the Galaxy games, and it’s none of the sweet orchestral ones. The most prominent new music is the main theme, and that sucks.
  • The Tanooki suit. It’s pretty much broken. It’s like Dixie Kong in DKC2, you can just glide over anything and everything. Once you get the silver leaf version it gets even better, because you can just turn into a statue any time anything comes near you.
  • It’s all the same. It’s not, of course. The levels are often wildly different. But it lacks the sort of bonus levels that have been in previous games like bird flying, skate racing and balancing on a ball. Arguably those all revolved around Wii motion controls, but it’s sad not to see a single crazy oddball level.
  • It’s not the best Mario. Probably no shock after reading the above. In a questionnaire Nintendo sent me they asked if I liked SM3DL more, the same or less than previous Mario platformers. I had to say less. Galaxy 2 strong.
  • I like the game. It’s a damn fun game. I haven’t even mentioned the good bits of the game because they’re so sublime that you almost don’t notice them. It’s worth begging, borrowing or stealing a 3DS just to play this game, and if you own a 3DS you owe yourself to get this game. The new features are great, and the variety of level designs and puzzles is pretty awe-inspiring.
  • To the guy who decided there should be time trial levels where you get chased by a giant shadow Mario: Fuck you. Seriously.

TL;DR – Super Mario Galaxy is my favourite Mario game ever and everything else is inferior.

In other news, I also have my copy of Skyward Sword. I can’t play it because I don’t have access to my Wii, but I can say that the gold Wiimote+ is pretty sweet and the concert CD is surprisingly well mastered. Not quite the same as being there in the concert, but having experienced both I can say that the CD gets pretty close. Lately I tend to just skip to the bit with the Dark World theme and then headbang a bit. Yeah I headbang to a symphony. What of it?

Daiz finally released the last 7 episodes of Hanasaku Iroha. Hot dang it’s amazing. I had to stop on episode 24 because I can’t watch the last episode until someone finishes downloading and watching them and I can’t watch episode 25 because I know I’ll end up watching 26 too. Oh well.

30 days ’till Christmas. I don’t know what I want yet, but I may ask my parents to buy me some microchips and an expensive metal box so I can finally build my C.H.AMP and put it next to my Panda. No point in asking for video games because I already have all the ones I want. I might ask for a copy of The Sacrifice and Other Steam-Powered Stories because I’ve enjoyed all of the Valve comics I’ve read so far, and a bound copy would be nice. A pair of RE-262s wouldn’t go amiss either…


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School, Amps and Other Things

Sunday, November 28 2010 at 19:51 (Anime, Games, Music, Projects, School) (, , , )

Long time, no see (write?) huh?

I’d like to say that a bunch of stuff has changed since I was last writing, but that’d be a lie. Pretty much I got addicted to CoD then had to become a hardcore audiophile to fill the void once I went cold turkey.
At school things have been up and down – I’ve recently dropped Further Maths, meaning that I’m now doing the standard 3 subjects a week and so I have a LOT of free time to spare now. Hopefully I’ll get so bored that I’ll work and get up my grades, which have been a bit craptastic as of late. I’m on an A in Classics (although after the last mock – eurgh), a C in Stats, a C in Physics (1 mark off a B) and a U in both other Mathsy things, one of which is now dropped.
Basically I need to pull my finger out of my arse and do well in the January exams, which I’m hoping I can do with the aforementioned spare time. Oh, I also sent of my UCAS form. I’m applying for engineering at Durham, Sheffield, Nottingham and Herriot-Watt with a Classics course at Royal Holloway.

About the audiophilia (yeah I’m gonna talk about that) I got my second half of moneys from teh scholarshipz so I’m blowing it all on audio equipment… projects. Yeah, I’m actually going to build it myself.
I’ve ordered one of these and one of these to put it in, along with all this stuff too:


Except that’s a lie, the order was more like £50 by the time I was actually finished. Protip: never just leave an order sitting there for four days before ordering it, especially for components. The price is likely to double.
Anyway, I’m going to build this amplifier (it’s called a ‘Panda) and then after that I’m going to build an AMB γ1 DAC. ’cause my current source is wack, yo. I’ll post some progress pictures too! ’cause you guys are really interested, right? Right?

Anyway, enough of that. Here are some things you ought to watch RIGHT NOW (all at once)

  • K-On!(!)
  • Angel Beats!
  • Star Driver: Takuto of the Radiance
  • Panty and Stocking
  • The Social Network
  • Merlin series 3

Also LISTEN to the following music:

  • Rie Fu – Rie Fu (decay, Shine)
  • school food punishment – amp-reflection (4:59, Percentage)
  • Ayana – Last regrets
  • Hitomi Kuroishi – Various Code Geass OSTs (Stories, Sensibility,Masquerade)
  • Hokago Tea Time – Hokago Tea Time II (U&I, Tokimeki Sugar)
  • Jun Maeda/Anant-Garde Eyes – Angel Beats! OST (theme of SSS, kanade, Brave Song)

Play these:

  • Tatsunoko vs. Capcom
  • Metroid: Other M
  • Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale
  • Kanon
  • Fate/stay night


  • Percy Jackson 1-5
  • Chobits (allofit)
  • Kobato 1-3
  • Don’t read Biomega, it’s got bears with guns but is actually shit

Congratulations, you are now a better person.

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Raison d’etre

Sunday, April 25 2010 at 23:31 (Books, Games, Home, Music, Projects, School)

It’s a song, fool. You don’t know where from? Sucks to be you.

So after a weekend alone, I really can’t be arsed to do my Physics homework, so instead I’m using my time wisely, crafting a catacomb of textual device with which to muster a full force of emotional response from you, my dear, dear reader. Or I’ll just make cock jokes.

So three weeks ago it was Easter Sunday, two days into the Easter holidays. For a change, my family were NOT going anywhere this Easter, so I had the two week break to myself to sit back, relax, relapse and not subconsciously quote Panic[!] at the Disco. The Sunday of life and shit itself was fairly uneventful – a small bowl of foil-wrapped chocolate eggs and mandarin leaves awaited me when I went to get my breakfast, and after that I just wasted the days away playing Call of Duty. I had a lot of schoolwork to do over the holiday, but that could wait until after the actual Easter bit, right?

On Monday I went out on the Broads with my mother, who as you might recall (if you have a terrifyingly good memory) is a volunteer ranger there. This basically means that you drive around in a launch that can go at 20 knots and has a blue flashing light on top… except you have to abide by the speed limits (usually about 5mph) and volunteer’s can’t actually use the blue light. In fact, you can’t even technically tell people what to do, only advise them strongly.
It all seems a bit useless sometimes, but I did my best to remove myself from it by reading ‘The Last Olympian’, the final book in the Percy Jackson quintology. Having read the first two books in relatively quick succession, I had stopped reading the series and read another book to try to maximise my enjoyment of the series by not reading it too quickly. Unfortunately that other book was fairly drivelly, so after some time attempting to read it, I gave up and went back to good old PJ. Overall the series was pretty darn good. The first book was awesome, the second was better, the third was better still, the fourth had a little downtime in places but was still up to standard, and the fifth? Eh… it was pretty good. Its main issue was with the battles. Not the action itself, that was depicted extremely well, but the structure of battles: Fighting, winning, reinforcements from the other side, losing, reinforcements from our side, winning, their side, losing etcetera, etcetera. It goes on like that for half the bloody book. At least the ending was satisfying and conclusive, even if one character did receive a last-minute Snape-esque deus-ex-machina (I’m going for the hyphen record) redemption. Actually scrap that, NOTHING is as ridiculous as Snape’s redemption.

The rest of the week passed by with little in the way of excitement, but on the following Saturday Peter and Elliot came to my house for a bit of sweet-lovin’. Or possibly just video games. As I recall, probably inaccurately, much of our time was spent in my bedroom watching someone play something on my laptop. The games included MW2, Bioshock (Elliot had never played the opening sequence), Left 4 Dead 2 (possibly) and Unreal Tournament 3 with massively ridiculous mutators. That was probably the most fun part – can you spell ‘MMMMMMMMONSTER KILL!’ ? That’s right Lady Gaga, UT did it first.
We also played a bit of TvC, along with the obligatory friendly (unfriendly) Brawl match. During the day, Elliot said to me ‘So Ben, where’s your manga collection?’ I pointed grudgingly at a single volume of Tsubasa. That stung. Something would have to be done…

After that, I had just the Sunday before I began a six week journey.  A life without video games. So what did I do? A number of really stupid things. I read wistfully about the upcoming Left 4 Dead 2 DLC, I played the first hour or so of Half-Life 2: Episode One and in the hours nearing midnight I even played Mass Effect to the point when I was just about getting into it. When I woke up on Monday, the feeling SUCKED. Well, at least I’d be able to get that work done now, hm?

Three days and perhaps one Maths paper later, Thursday came. On Thursday the plan was epic – go into Ipswich with Max AND Chris, see Clash of the Titans then go into Ipswich and glare at everyone to assert our collective manliness. Of course it didn’t work out like that, what with Max being ill and not telling us, Clash of the Titans being overall quite cool but very ‘meh’ and being terrified of everyone in Ipswich. However, I did what I came to do… which was buy The Fame Monster. Buying it reminded me of buying Twilight – it was a leap into the unfamiliar contemporary for me and also made me feel that everyone would look at me or make comments as I bought it. As it happened, neither of those things happened on either occasion; the only funny looks and criticisms came from Chris and later Calum, who had been in Ipswich with his brand-new woman.
So after the comic book shop, CEX and all the usual suspects, Chris got on his train and flew away, leaving me to catch my train at quarter past… twenty past… twenty-five past… twenty-six… twenty-nine…
Trains fucking hate me. Srsly.

So I had Friday and the weekend to finish all my work. It was okay, that was plenty of time; I could do it. What’s that? We’re going to be away for most of the weekend sailing and then at my grandparent’s house? Shhhhhhhit.
So sailing was sailing-y, and the grandparents weren’t as bad as I had imagined, with an extra really old dude who was one of those awesome old people who wear straw hats and could probably still knock a six at 90+, y’know? I also spent a lot of time sitting in the steel-lined ‘saferoom’ (which I didn’t know even existed) of my grandparent’s house looking through a bunch of assorted stuff. I found an old tape deck, an embossing press, a whole bunch of gold and jewel-encrusted necklaces, and wedged right in a dusty corner, so that you probably wouldn’t even notice it was there, my grandmother’s OBE (that’s like an Order of Merlin, Second Class). Not a showy-offy person, my grandmother.

Fortunately Monday was a PD day, so I had a last-ditch effort and actually got some work done. I’m as surprised as you are.

Back at school things are much the same as before, only with a slight edge of panic as the exams draw steadily nearer. It shows in the students and teachers, and it’s one of those malignant things that spreads and grows as time goes by. Did I mention that I think I’m screwed in Further Maths?

On Tuesday evening, having been absent-mindedly browsing Amazon, I compelled my mother into buying me this, which arrived last Thursday:


This, as you might have guessed, is only the beginning of my campaign against Elliot’s diminuitive and abrasive comment mentioned earlier on. Since Dark Horse (who publish a bunch of CLAMP manga) are in the business of releasing omnibuses lately, I plan on also getting the first CCS omnibus, the second Chobits omnibus and also perhaps Kobato volume 1 and 2. Maybe I’ll even find a damned copy of Tsubabsa volume 2. That’d be nice…

So yes, the Chobits manga is awesome and probably marginally better than the anime due to the further possibilities for style and tight storytelling. The last two chapters of this book are pretty heart-rending.

So this weekend I’ve been home alone. My parents went to Paris (I, apparently, am not important enough to go with them) and so I’ve been running the joint solo. The internet was down for most of Saturday and so I actually ended up mowing the lawn and doing a fair hunk of schoolwork… after I finished reading Chobits. I cooked Reggae-Reggae chicken and had a salad, and wanted to watch Spider-Man but can’t find our magical DVD case anywhere. Some niggling feeling tells me that my brother (currently in Australia, will be for some time) has it. If so, I is not happy. I settled for Tropic Thunder, which is awesome, but less so.

Today I washed my mother’s car and vacuumed the corridor, my lazy brain making the connection between completing all of the three allotted tasks left to me and ‘cher-ching’ noise followed by a shower of gloriously illustrated book pages. I milled around after that, made food, ate food and then foolishly decided to write a blog entry.

Mmm… I forgot to talk about driving lessons and Lady Gaga, but you don’t really give a shit, do you? Unlike most of my music, chances are that you’ve heard some Lady Gaga before and my experience with driving is not dissimilar to that of most learners.

Sleep now, little one.

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Oimoi, Pheu Pheu

Sunday, March 14 2010 at 23:53 (Games, Home, Music, Rants, Reviews, School, Writing) (, , , , )

You know that poll, two posts ago? Yeah? You all had the chance to vote. Therefore you have only yourselves to blame.

So a few weeks ago now I got up and caught a train to the great metropolis of Ipswich to see my great amigo Chris so that we could frolic to the camp end of town and buy each other flowers and rub oils into each other. It seems we got a tad lost, ’cause we actually ended up in a cinema watching ASTRO BOY (the most manly thing since Chuck Norris) and definitely neither of us nearly or slightly or did actually cry a little bit at the end. Defo.
I decided that for Astro I’d go to see it without any predispositions put upon me by reviews, so that I could enjoy it entirely on its merits, or lack thereof. For the record it may have had some very slight flaws in terms of blahblahblah – WHO CARES? There’s an anime robot boy KICKING ARSE! The acting was good as well, and the animation was very good. It’s the same guys who did the TMNT movie and who are also doing the upcoming Science Ninja Team Gatchaman movie… at some point, hopefully.
After the immense doses of awesome we inhaled, Chris and I wandered around Ipswich in a dreamy haze, wandering here and there amongst the dispersed video game, manga and comic book retailers. We also stopped in Subway – an interesting experience for me since the last and only Subway I had been in to previously was in Brest, four years ago. The guy at the counter apparently hadn’t been trained to deal with people who didn’t know what to do, so he just sat there gormlessly.
All too soon it was over, and I trained my way back to Diss and was driven back home.

Oh, some time before that again, there was the Classics trip to the British museum. It was a good experience overall, but I’ll break it down into the most interesting parts (the ones I can remember, anyway):

  • Getting on to the coach, Amber asked me if I would sit next to her… to which I mumbled some kind of non-committal reply. For a minute I thought it would actually happen, but then Mrs Stephenson moved the year 11s (who were on a separate art trip) to the front of the coach so that we could have the back half we were promised. There was a space next to Jagger! Seat get! … Chaos averted.
  • Walking around in the morning, there were some very cool and some questionable things. An Erechtheion Caryatid is just dandy, but a depiction on a vase of some guy balancing a wine cup on his penis is just plain scary.
  • Lunch was interesting – a roll with chicken tikka sandwich filler and garlic mayonnaise. I asked Chloé and Eliza about this combination but decided that it was edible – little knowing that it was this very filler that would cause me horrific stomach cramps and emergency evacuations of my insides over the next few days.
  • The Parthenon sculptures need to be seen to be believed. Chloé was taking notes whilst we listened to the audio guide, but I was content just to sit and absorb them. Seriously, if you ever have a spare hour or so in central London, go see them. Even the smashed-up half of Poseidon’s torso is amazing, and that’s basically just a huge hunk of rock with a tiny patch of detail.
  • I spent rather a lot of money on books, but I don’t care. Haven’t got around to reading them yet, mind.

The past few weeks have been a bit… well, shitty. The last week particularly – the work I’m being given is just starting to overwhelm me, I got back my grades for my January A-level exams and Charity day was on Friday.
In terms of grades, I ACEd it; I got an A in Physics (HOW?), a C in regular maths (one mark off a B) and an E in Further Maths. The E has been the main source of my worry and insomnia over the past few days. The Physics is obviously great – even if my marker was apparently on crack at the time (seriously, I wasn’t expecting grade at all), the Maths is all right because I’m confident that with my Core 2 and Mechanics skillez I can even out my overall mark for this year and retake Core 1 next year as need be. See, you have to apply to universities with AS grades, so they have to be pretty darn good if you want to get anywhere pretty darn good. Since my crazy ambition is to go to Imperial College, I’ma need to get pretty much straight As to have any chance. This is why the Further Maths is a worry – Discrete 1 is the easiest Further Maths module, so even if I retake it and do okay I’m now seriously lacking confidence about my prospective grades in Pure 1 and Discrete 2.

On Charity day the main school has a non-uniform day, but since the Sixth Form wear their own clothes every day there is a theme and they dress up. This year the theme was groups and duos. Guess what I went as? That’s right… nothing. I’d racked my brains for an idea (it had to be an original idea) and there had even been several well-laid plans that had fallen through. So I felt decidely dejected for most of the day, brooding on my grades and observing everyone else who had ‘made the effort’. There were some people, who… well, they could only be described by the last two lines of page 56 of Breaking Dawn. That’s right, cryptic messages, bitches!
Fridays are never a particularly good day anyway, but this one was served with extra hot sauce, so to speak. I don’t like hot sauce.

In terms of miscellaneous activities, I’ve obviously been dedicating exorbitant amounts of time to certain games, my favourite of which to play at the moment is Left 4 Dead 2… but only when Max and Peter are simultaneously available. Which is rarely – even on the special day at the special time we arranged. My cries of frustration were akin to those of when Max startles the witch, methinks.

Musically-wise, I’ve been jamming to quite a few tunes lately, not least because I’m now using my mother’s old 80GB iPod Classic and can actually fit all of mah tunes on there. I’ve been properly listening to Project Chaos and the regular Sonic 3 & Knuckles OSV a lot, and also I’ve been listening to Scandal’s finally-released proper album, ‘Best★Scandal’. Well, they proclaim themselves as ‘The Most Powerful Japanese Girlie Pop Rock’ and I’d say that still holds up pretty well. I’ve had some doubts about their music in the past, but this album just really kicks arse.

You’ve got tracks like the catchy and exciting ‘Scandal Baby’ (they do really like their own name), the sublime Yumemiru Tsubasa, Hitotsu Dake, which sounds like it should be the opening for some kickass anime, and also a new mix of Kagerou. Since each of the girls in the band take it in turns to sing you also get some nice variety that keeps tracks feeling fresh. What more could you ask for? Well, you might ask for it to be in English and not suck, but fuck you all.
My blog, my music, my rules, bitches.

Oh, a quick tip, music wise. If you ever need to sync something to an iPod but it doesn’t play or skips when it reaches a certain point in a track, try having iTunes convert the MP3 to an AAC or vice-versa. Make sure your sampling rates for conversion are set high, so you don’t lose sound quality. After that it should play fine. It worked for Scandal anyway.

I came up with an idea for a story that Peter seemed to want to steal quite badly, so I figured it must be pretty good. I won’t write what it is, because then you’ll probably steal it and sell a million copies, you evil internet-based bastard.

I do believe that’s it. I tried not to be too emo about it all, even with my mood as what it is recently. Tell me how I did, will ya?

Max, your turn 😛

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Oh Schäde…

Sunday, January 24 2010 at 14:22 (Games, Home, Rants, Reviews) (, , )

Author’s note: It’s not particularly up to date or finished, but I’m tired of having it sitting and festering. Imagine that you were reading this on the 4th of January.

Well, bugger me. A blog.

Since someone said at some point that spending your whole blog-time apologising for not having written a blog in so long is rather self-aggravating (a sentiment I agree with) I will give it none of my valuably unvalued space beyond this miserly excuse for a paragraph.

So, why have I not written? I’ve done two vlogs, both eminently cringeworthy and completely worthy of deletion if I was the kind of pussy that decides to delete videos off YouTube that they are embarrassed about. You know the people I mean. Maybe I’ll dabble in vloggery in future, but since the response I received was largely negative, I shall postpone their production.

This is, in fact, the first blog that I have written on my new laptop (Dell XPS M1530 w/ 2.0GHz dual-core processor, 4 GB RAM, 320 GB HDD and nVidia GeForce 8600m graphics chipset), which brings with it a host of other reasons for my absence. One reason, and I suppose a fairly decent one, is that the keyboard just isn’t as good as on my old laptop. It just isn’t. It’s not as firm, the keys aren’t as tactile and the strength of them is questionable, seeing as I’ve already broken my Tab key. However, for you, dear blog reader, I shall bear it.

The other factor brought out by the laptop is that the higher specs mean higher ability, and higher ability means… well… lots of games. I told the bloke in GAME that I was going on a binge, and I guess I have been, to a certain extent. I am now the (legal) owner of The Orange Box, Fallout 3, Left 4 Dead 2, Oblivion, Bioshock and Modern Warfare 2. Of those, I have yet to play Oblivion and Bioshock as they require internet and are in German anyway, but I have played Half-Life 2, Portal And Modern Warfare 2 in-depth. Yes, yes I am that guy from XKCD. Portal… Bah, it’s Portal, of course it’s bloody amazing and funny and terrifying and heart-warming and confusing and all those other weird and wonderful emotions. Half-Life 2, on the other hand, is more like that stretched out aver about 14 more hours. It says something about the Source engine that sometimes in HL2 I just had to stop and say ‘That’s a really good-looking texture’. I really hope I’m not the only person who did that. Overall, it was just awesome; particularly the bit in the Citadel right at the end. Oh yeah.

As for MW2, I think GameTrailers got it right when they said it personifies the phrase ‘short, but sweet’. The game really isn’t that long, only taking just slightly longer that its predecessor to complete on standard difficulty… whatever that’s called in the game’s impermeable army lingo. However, what you do get is a rollercoaster ride of really quite amazing set pieces and intense firefights except when some stupid kid with an AK-47 shoots you through some tiny window and then you die and have to do the whole damned fight all over again… I hate those stupid Rio de Janeiro levels.

A few musings, though:

-Sometimes the game does overstep the bound and really just seems to laugh at you. It’s not even nice.

-What the FUCK did they do to Soap’s hair?

-Although the story did a pretty good job of carrying you along, it really didn’t make any sense at all. You basically just follow the objectives.

-Seriously, the character is just ruined now. I did NOT play the whole of the first game as a guy with some retarded Mohawk thing.

-Making a sequel will be an interesting task, seeing how they left the story. Also the fact that half the US has been shot to buggery.

-Why, Infinity Ward? WHY?

The multiplayer is another matter entirely. Apparently it’s been made ‘more accessible’ to n00bs. I disagree.

Well, now that I’ve cleared that out of my system, there are a few more onions to bite, namely some recent events worth me plumbing the depths of my memories to write about for your pleasure.

First comes the late lamented school-based sixth-form Christmas party. Even a concealed hip-flask of Polish vodka couldn’t make that fun. I spent the whole night trying to get Max to talk to a certain other individual, with mixed results. Overall it was kinda shitty. (The music was in this ‘Drum and Base’ style. I couldn’t see the appeal, myself.)

After that came Max’s birthday party, held a week after originally planned due to otherwise engaged peoples and a general lack of enthusiasm on anyone’s part. This Sunday, however, had snow. And in a pretty big way. The snow we got (actually fell on Thursday evening, mostly) was some of the most persistent I’ve  ever seen, remaining in place for about a week and thoroughly screwing many people’s travel arrangements. I did, however, elect to travel to Ipswich on that fateful day by train, cuz I’m well’ard and use public transport, innit.

The train was a little bit late, but I arrived in plenty of time for my 2:20 deadline. Unfortunately this was the twenty minutes (originally a half-hour) that I had elected to use to find a GAME and buy The Orange Box. In the end I did find it, and also found the box and handed it to the woman. Unfortunately, her training had apparently not extended to finding the disc and manual to put in boxes, so I had to wait around for about ten minutes whilst she flustered before running back the cinema. Remember that there was several-day old snow on the ground, so these pavements were icy and deadly enough at walking speed. Running, they were slippery slides of imminent death in front of the evil scythe-cars that were going by. Lucky for me, my balance sustained and I reached the cinema only five minutes late, already having made excuses and apologies in my head. I met Eliza and Chloé (whom I am now forced to admit is not a robot), who had also been shopping, and said hello. Max, Chris and Lauren had not yet arrived.

We talked for a bit about things, I forget which, but after I while Eliza concede that the rest of our party was no longer ‘on the drag’ as I has been, but were officially late. The others eventually turned up about ten minutes after the film was meant to have started and twenty minutes after the meeting time, and we all went in to the cinema. Now by this point it was about 2:45 and there was a showing of Avatar (in MIND-POPPING 3D!!!) at 3:00, which i thought might be a better choice seeing as how I wanted to see Avatar, Eliza had already seen New Moon and wanted to see Avatar, Chloé wanted to see Avatar and I’m pretty sure that Lauren wanted to see Avatar too. But no, we were going to see New bloody Moon.

I suppose it wasn’t so bad, after all. I mean, the acting was still pretty pants in places, any action scenes made waaaay too much use of slow-motion and the cinematography at time made me feel queasy because it was so hacked together and barbaric, but there was 700% less Robert Pattison than the first film, and that made all the difference in the world. I’ve always been a bit of a Jacobist (Jacobite?) and by the end of the film several of the girls agreed with me. He’s just less of a prick that Mr Shiny-Vampire-Emo-Bitch. Overall… eh. Two, two and half stars? We’ll make it two and a quarter.

After the film we decided to go and find a Costa or something, but seeing as how it was a past five on the Sunday before Christmas everything was shut. Unperturbed, we wandered around the town looking at the lights and eating of my oversized Large popcorn tub. This was probably the nicest part of the day.

Afterwards Max’s dad picked us up and we went to a Pizza Hut, where we all stood around not deciding until Eliza decided to decide. If you follow me. We then went back to Max’s abode and ate pizza and watched The Hangover. After a while I turned to Max and said ‘We’re what, fifteen minutes into this? It’s already better than New Moon’. The whole vibe was basically a ‘Dude, Where’s my Doug?’ as a number of guys try to find their misplaced friend after the mother of all stag parties. It takes the theme of a kind of comedy-detective story as they try to find clues to exactly what happened to them. Actually, screw that. It sounds really boring. Anyway, it’s much funnier than I can feebly describe and it comes with a Ben Brown seal of approval.

Then I went home. I was sad, but it had been a good day.

The next day I had to go to Cambridge to see my sponsors for the Arkwright Scholarship. The talks in the morning were supremely boring, but in the afternoon we were shown around the facility including the Scanning Electron Microscopes used to find impurities in metals, the huge vacuum chambers used for electron welding and the Lotus Elise chassis they helped design in the foyer. It was an interesting enough experience, but how much I actually gained from it remains to be seen.

The next event after that was, uh… Christmas, I suppose. It started with me completing Half-Life 2 at 2am after realising that I wasn’t going to get any sleep. Then I tried to get to sleep, couldn’t and so started to play HL2 Episode 1 instead. I did actually get some sleeping done at around about 5, but it was short-lived as I had to get up to receive gifts from Father Christmas. He comes through our village on a sled pulled by a Land Rover, doncha’ know. He gave me some books which I didn’t want to read particularly, so I went back to sleep until it was time to present the presents. Main gifts were Modern Warfare 2 and Left 4 Dead 2, but I also obtained a nice new shirt and some other crazy shit that I have completely forgotten about.

Then came the trek to my grandparents’ house, interrupting the patching of Left 4 Dead 2. This left me annoyed, as I had nothing to play in the car. Fortunately my grandmother installed WiFi, so I used that to finish Left 4 Dead 2 and also to make a start on installing Modern Warfare 2, a behemoth apparently requiring 2 DVDs to merely exist.

Then we ate food. Half the family was away this year, so I actually only had one set of retarded cousins to deal with, and the added bonus of my brother being away. This proved a double-edged sword, however, as boredom quickly took me due to the fact that I didn’t have a proper mouse to play any of my new games with. I managed to hold out for the whole day and then went home to get some CoDage on until the wee hours of the morning.

Boxing Day was fairly standard, mostly involving me getting to the end of MW2, but towards the end of the day I started packing and sorting things out for the imminent trip to Germany that was to depart that evening. We left at about 9pm to get the 11-ish ferry from Harwich to the Hoek, and then we all got on board and found our respective cabins. Present were me, my brother and his girlfriend, my parents and another family of friends including Henry and Tom Gibbons, their parents and Tom’s girlfriend. This made a total party of ten.

Throughout the week we went on walks, ate beef and yoghurt, played table tennis, went to Nüremberg (where I got Oblivion and Bioshock… in German), played games with bouncing ping-pong balls off pots and pans into cups for many, MANY hours, went sledging when there was snow and woed the forgottness of my laptop power cable. The only one I had was one for use in the car, so any time I wanted to charge my laptop I had to take it out to the car and plug it in. And since any vaguely fun application can drain my laptop in about an hour, my gaming position was pretty limited in terms of zombie-killing and the like. Really there hasn’t been much else to it. Oh, the New Year came, and went. I guess I ought to sort out some New Year’s Resolutions and also review the previous year’s, so let’s do that now:

Last year’s

  1. Read at least one book a month. I’ve been getting seriously lax in my reading, and as a result my vocabulary has suffered. Currently lined up I have The Amulet of Samarkand.
  2. Try and go to more social events outside of school.
  3. Ask someone to the year 11 prom.
  4. Play less videogames. Not give them up, but try and be less dependent on them for escapism and entertainment. In addition, find other forms of entertainment. Listen to the radio.
  5. Rather conversely, get Portal to work on a computer I own. This either means getting a new laptop (which would be nice; my current one, much as I love it, is dying) or stripping apart my old one and doing thoroughly dangerous things.
  6. Do something more radical, and more exciting than last year.

Review of those:

  1. Erm… no. I read at least twelve books, easy, but I don’t think I read one every month.
  2. Mmmm… kinda. I went to fewer parties, in fact.
  3. FAIL’D
  4. FAIL’D
  5. OWN’T. Portal is awesome.
  6. Unsure.

And this year’s new ones

  1. Do more exercise – for health, rather than any abject weight loss.
  2. Learn to own at Tatsunoko vs. Capcom.
  3. Work on getting all my RS essays done.
  4. Get all A grades in my AS levels.
  5. Prove that a photon has mass.
  6. Refrain from buying an extortionate smartphone.

There are also a few miscellaneous things to fill out space. Not that it needs any more filling out; this is already looking ridiculously long.

I spent Christmas Eve turning my old laptop into a server. This I did with the help of a certain Mr Hicks. Installing Ubuntu Server Edition I could handle, but dealing with the command line required some aid. A ‘sudo makethisserverworkdammit’ command would have been useful, but it seemed to work and allowed me to stream the new Family Guy Star Wars thing to other computers in the house via magic.

I’ve decided that I like the temple of Apollo Epikouros at Bassae. It’s simple, but it’s also simply awesome, brand-spanking just-invented Corinthian columns and everyfink. It’s just cool.

I also finally finished reading ‘Watchmen’. God it was weird. It was still really good and brilliantly written, but… I suppose it can just be summed up by saying that all of the main characters are psychopaths.

I also sat through Transformers 2. Honestly, they don’t make head-bashing walls hard enough.

I think that’s all that doesn’t just consist of further nerdiness about my laptop. So I’ll leave it there, and add to it later.

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Poll Results! (Bitches)

Friday, December 4 2009 at 20:11 (Games) (, , )

So, in third place with no votes at all:

The Demon Blade

Muramasa: The Demon Blade

In second place, with two votes:

Left 4 Dead 2

In first place, with 3 votes:

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Fortunately, epic motherly love caused me to be getting both #1 and #2. So hell yeah.

Although that did make this whole poll thing kind of redundant…

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