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Thursday, August 29, 2002

The latest hit poetry-cum-photo-blog

As I've noted before, Confessionalism went down some months ago. But recently it seems Bin is back up and writing, to quote a comment. Writing poetry.

Read the comments. They are all going gaga over him. One says he has a knack for connecting to people... I quite agree, I confess (dumb pun). His journal, before it was shut down, was one of my favorite reads. How does he do it.

| 8/29/2002 11:12:00 PM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Die <a target="_blank">!

Not opening new windows. I wish everyone with a website could read this.

Some people think that by opening a new window for users when they click on a out-site link, they won't leave their site. The truth is if users get a good surfing experience from your site, they'll want to come back for more.

| 8/29/2002 11:06:00 PM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

DOS batch files for home convenience

It's been so many years since I last wrote a batch file. Nearly forgot how. I wrote this one just yesterday.

@echo off
echo Move all files from drive A to current folder.
choice/n Proceed? (If yes, ensure diskette is inserted.) [Y,N]
if errorlevel 2 goto end

move a:* .
choice/n Proceed with another diskette? (If yes, ensure diskette is inserted.) [Y,N]
if errorlevel 2 goto end
goto run


I have no Internet access on my computer, so I often copy downloaded files from computers with. Especially with MP3s, I split large files into floppy-sized parts, and for emptying the floppies to my PC this batch file helps to simplify the process and ease the pains of repetitive click-dragging files in Windows Explorer. (And it really pisses when you accidentally copy instead of move.)

If you think this can be useful to you, copy and paste the code above into a text file saved as "Empty diskette to this folder.bat" or something like that (must have the .bat extension) and put it in a folder where you usually plop your downloaded files, say "c:\downloads". Then all you have to do is click on the batch file, follow the instructions and voila! your diskettes purge themselves right there. Nifty eh?

I used to experiment with batch files during the Windows 3.x era. I learned the stuff from my uncle's old learn-MS DOS 5.0-or-something book. Ah, those were the days.

| 8/28/2002 02:01:00 AM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Sunday, August 25, 2002

Thank you for financing global terrorism

Stickers for petrol pumps. I wonder what impact would they really make. (via kottke)

| 8/25/2002 09:42:00 PM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

American McGee's Alice: a review

Finished Alice. With a walkthrough, I confess. It was literally nauseating going round and round the levels for hours looking for a way out.

Alice is a rather simple 3D third-person shooter with unsophisticated gameplay and weak enemy AI, but that don't stop it from getting lots of attention. Alice scores in the graphics and music departments—I'm sure it won awards for those. And there are plans made for a movie based on the game, rumored to be out in a couple of years soon. You the ignoramus may scoff, "why the fuss with a kiddie computer game?" but that's where you're wrong; Alice is absolutely NOT for kids.

The story goes: Alice lost her family in a fire, and the tragedy had her forever grieving, driven mad with guilt and cooped up in an asylum. She soon returns to Wonderland, which has become distorted into a sick nightmare. You get it now? The game is full of horror and dementia. Wonderland characters have become grotesquely mutated versions of themselves. Those that she probably didn't get along with in the original story have become vile monsters that want your head off (the Queen especially). The friendlier ones that help her along the way (such as the anorexic, ear-pierced Cheshire Cat) appear as shabby victims of either starvation, torture or dismemberment. Card guards, chess pieces, ghosts, robots and other creatures are all out to get her. And the Insane Children, perhaps from what Alice thinks of her asylum, are some of the more disturbing encounters in the game, being there just to haunt you with their macabre antics. And finally, that well brought-up English girl herself is now a killing machine. (I must remind you that Alice is rated "Mature" for graphic violence.)

Gameplay is pretty simple. Kill, solve a few puzzles, don't get lost, otherwise go mad yourself. Alice's weapons come in the form of "toys" such as cards, jacks, jack-in-the-boxes (grenade-cum-flamethrower really) and dice (that summon demons to fight for you). Her life bar is actually her "sanity" bar, and energy is indicated by her "will" bar. Alice is fragile, her "sanity" being easily depleted, but she survives on "meta-essence" (stuff of dreams, supposedly) powerups which she obtains from freshly slain enemies. These powerups—as well as others such as the toys, cricket tea (bestows the powers of an Alice-sized grasshopper), rageboxes (turns Alice, literally, into a more terrifying killing machine) and many more—are pretty easy to see floating and glowing, as if like in an arcade game if it were in 3D.

The landscapes and furnishings of Wonderland are gorgeous and breathtaking in all its weirdness. Locations that induce vertigo will make your palms and mouse damp with sweat. Depending on how it looks, the vast skies, ravines and voids will inspire either awe or gloom. Or even genuine nausea. The graphics here gets A's all the way. Really makes you want to stop and look around. It's truly one of the best reasons to check this game out.

The beautiful, childlike background music woven with haunting melodies and eerily innocent instruments adds to the dark and depressing atmosphere. Alice doesn't really scare; if you're looking for fear, don't count on it. Unless of course you have a fear that the game can play with: fear of spiders, fear of heights, fear of drowning, fear of open spaces, fear of closed spaces... the game strangely seems to use your possible phobias against you. For those who think they're completely unphobic and look forward to an adrenaline rush, Alice offers instead something more uncomfortable than what you seek: dread. Something along the lines of cold sweat scary... but without the fright factor. Sounds more core-ish, doesn't it? Nah, you'll live through.

Immerse yourself in the game and, with the way Wonderland looks (which is supposed to be all in her mind), you'll really start to feel Alice's painful torment. I actually don't like the happy ending. I believe the game would be better off without it... Then it will really scar you.

| 8/25/2002 08:46:00 PM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Boredom saved me

Thanks for your emails of concern. Don't worry, I don't intend to let the computer kill me. Be relieved to know that I've eased up on my 'prime time' with the machine. And that I've come to terms with the fact that it's loyal (not counting crashes) and won't run away. And that it has stepped back to a place where it's still a part of my life, but only as an accessory, like a cell phone. And that I can now sleep when I'm sleepy.

Perhaps I'm burnt out after that mad gaming stint spanning the past few weeks. Maybe it had sucked away enough of my juvenility. Completing WarCraft III rewarded with a feeling of acomplishment and detente that effectively exorcised my addiction with it. American McGee's Alice actually discouraged me from playing long hours (what good game could do that?); otherwise I'd face headaches and nausea. Emperor: Battle for Dune was... punishingly boring.

Now I spend more of my PC time doing things that are a little bit more solid: ripping CDs (I have another 10GB partition for MP3s) and organising the already hundreds of photos taken with my new digital camera.

Now playing: Just A Phase, Incubus. (How coincidentally appropriate.)

| 8/25/2002 08:40:00 PM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Dissing in physics

A sour physics student rants: "Electron band structure in germanium, my ass." Read it all if you can, but do take in the conclusion. (via Wannabe)

| 8/21/2002 07:07:00 PM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Monday, August 19, 2002

Open letter to America

Read this. I'm sure a LOT of people want to add some to the letter.

On the side: the letter reminds actor-turned-celebblogger Wil Wheaton of one he got in the past from a chick who dumped him.

| 8/19/2002 09:22:00 PM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

Computer bad for you

Contrary to what most think, I've never owned a computer before. I only hogged the family PC, a lowly Pentium with 64MB RAM and 4GB hard drive. Among siblings, time online was a coveted resource; fought, cried and bribed for.

I think now that I have my own computer, I still have that old attitude. I hog my own computer. There are consequences. I already foresaw how getting a computer would change my life, for better and for worse.

I consider myself a true gamer, and possibly the only one around here—while others scratch surfaces with Tiberian Sun and Counterstrike, I observe. I've dedicated a 10GB partition to games alone, and currently have five big-titles installed (WarCraft III, Diablo II, American McGee's Alice, FIFA World Cup 2002, and Emperor: Battle for Dune). I usually sleep a luxurious ten hours a day. Not anymore. I don't take my regular afternoon naps anymore, and I just about don't sleep anymore.

I expected a slight dwindle in my social life... but nothing really happened that I noticed. I just luuuve locking myself in my room. And I'm so glad my roomie isn't at all into tech — zero botherance. But other friends, especially Donny, has been knocking on my door like never before. What, is this thing improving my social relations? Knowing the gamer that I am (and the role of my PC), Don's eager to take advantage and join in (He plays FIFA, which I frankly hardly play). Annoying.

In more ways than one (e.g. insomnia), owning a computer is detrimental to health. And if someone ever said playing computer games knocks IQ points off you, I swear it's be true. I've experienced awkward millisecond-delays when replying in everyday conversations. From my dance sessions, I noticed that my motor coordination has blunted some. And if I were a skeeter bit less careful than I've consciously been, I could've missed lectures and even meals a few times. I think it's gonna kill me one day.

Ironically I never got crankier (considering my consequent physiological condition). I'm happier, actually. (I have a computer now, remember?)

| 8/06/2002 01:53:00 AM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

WarCraft III... check.

Finished WarCraft III. I was surprised at myself because I couldn't finish ol' WarCraft II (the last mission for both Orc and Human campaigns were impossibly tough). Oh well, I did finish StarCraft, didn't I. I believe I done off WarCraft III in a lot fewer days. Blotted out my social life for awhile.

WC3 is not your usual cup of RTS (realtime strategy). It combines with RPG (role-playing game) elements, and it's what Blizzard christens as an RPS (role-playing strategy), a genre they'd call theirs to invent. Unlike its predecessor and StarCraft, the hero units in WC3 are an integral part of combat, and not just to be baby-sat. Heroes can gain experience, pick up items, radiate auras and more. I think newbies might find taking care of both the RTS and RPG aspects of the game simultaneously a little taxing, especially if you've never played one or either of the two types of games. Needs getting used to.

WC3 naturally adopted StarCraft's bottom-panel interface and in-game storytelling style (units on the map talk to each other, piss each other off, further unravelling the plot). Though being fully 3D is awfully cool, I wasn't comfortable with the camera dropping to the units' eye level whenever a scripted action/conversation kicks in, turning it into some awkward, not-even-at-par-with-Toy-Story cinematic. I'd prefer it as it was in StarCraft where you remain in god-view, looking down at events as they unfolded and leaving the minor visual details to your imagination. It's kind of like liking the book better than the movie, numsayin? See, the world of WarCraft isn't exactly Hollywood CGI, and objects look somewhat cartoonish and unnaturally chunky-big (especially feet, weapons and breasts) close up. Some things always look better from a distance.

There are four races to play: Humans, Orcs, Night Elves and the Undead. The bad guys may be obvious, but it's never always that way. The Humans are your average good-cop types but are ambitious and corruptible — one of their heroes predictably falls to "the dark side." The Orcs, now a noble people, are short tempered and no one likes them cuz they're ugly (kidding) — one of theirs too succumbs to rage and consequent damnation. The Night Elves are a reserved and self-righteous lot — but they have a sour, power-mad outcast set loose. The Undead are no doubt the villains, but not the worst it seems — they are a tool of a greater force, and face a future threat of redundancy, I suppose.

This good/evil ambiguity is common in Blizzard games, and makes for perfect plot twists — remember that unsuspecting lieutenant who turned into the Queen of the Zerg? Or how the hero who defeated Diablo returned as the archdemon himself in the sequel? I'll tell you how I feel about all this. When I finished WC3's Human campaign, after which the hero turned bad, a name immediately snorted to mind: "Kerrigan." Later similar scenarios happen for the heroes of the other races. Blizzard seems to be recycling old ideas.

Plus I can't resist mentioning this: that Human hero is called Arthas, who pulls out a Runeblade out of a block of ice. Now what was it that just went though your head?

The story hangs out in several places. I smell an expansion coming round the corner.

And I think the ending sucks.

| 8/06/2002 01:52:00 AM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Monday, August 05, 2002

PC aquired

Hello everyone! (In a very good mood.) I'm happy to announce that I've bought a Pentium IV 1.5GHz computer last Saturday. Ordered and assembled. Bargain price, just under RM2300. Before this, I couldn't understand why people bother to put up their computer specs on their websites, but today I know how it feels having a need to brag. Here are the important details:

Pentium IV 1.5GHz (couldn't go higher; on a budget)
40GB 7200rpm HHD
CD Writer 32x10x40
Plain old 15' monitor (like I said)
HP Deskjet 656c Printer
Digital camera with 8MB flash memory
and the usual speakers, keyboard, mouse, etc.

Great deal, huh?

| 8/05/2002 02:06:00 AM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Another wedding dinner

Last Friday we did another commercial gig (traditional dance) at another posh wedding dinner. This one was even posher, you can say. The newlyweds were this English guy and a Malay daughter of a rich somebody. Gotta love the five star hotel food. Heehee.

I screwed up that day though. Broke the number one rule: look confident. I actually (cringe!) glanced several times at the others as we performed our dances. I probably looked like a loser, to anyone who noticed.

| 8/05/2002 01:48:00 AM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!