PC Gaming and me

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

It's funny. I've always thought I'd really be into gaming. Recently however, I've started to lose a lot of passion for this once extremely addictive past time.

It all started back a year or two ago. I've always tried playing a lot of cool games, and I enjoyed them even if I'm probably not as strong in any of them. Games like Warcraft 3 and Ragnarok Online seem to be the only two games I can remember in the past 2-3 years that ever really caught my attention. Till this day, I still do not see much attraction from most PC games on the market. There isn't a SINGLE game that I'm looking forward to release save one, and I'm not particularly worried about it.

It's either I've outgrown games, or the games that are released nowadays are totally unappealing to me.

I understand that a lot of focus have shifted to console gaming, which I'm really quite fine with. Final Fantasy is still one of the BEST series out there, and regardless of what anyone tells you, it's best enjoyed on a console. For the PC however, I've yet to find a game that can truly catch my attention with either its plot or gameplay. I gave C&C3 a try, but lost interest in it barely a week after. First Person Shooters (FPS) have been lost since Half-Life (although HL2 was not bad, multiplayability was an issue). I gave Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion a try only to also give up not too long after. Never Winter Nights 2 was riddled with problems from the release, and Heroes 5 lost it's charm to me. Halo for the PC didn't appeal to me much as I felt it was a souped-up, repackaged, Unreal Tournament. Bioshock, which was just released, seemed to gain a lot of good ratings, but I've yet to try it out, so I can't say much about it.

The point is, I tried to get back into gaming, but I ended up being disappointed and giving up half-way through just about all of them. There just wasn't enough 'pull' to keep me playing till the end. It might just be me being extremely picky or fickle, but I don't remember being this way when I used to play games. Moreover, I STILL don't feel that way even when I replay FF7 for the 8th or 9th time.

I must admit, the direction that gaming is going, both on the PC and on the console, isn't very appealing to me. I'm not a big fan of war games, so Medal of Honor and all the 'war' games including those console ones have ZERO appeal to me. Maybe I've just grown sick and tired of all the mindless shoot shoot shoot reflex games. Maybe I'm just looking for more intellectual stimulation instead of mindless violence. I'm also not very inclined to 'Sims' style games. I could sleep through playing Civilization, so those are out too.

So I tried re-playing old classics. I got a hold of really good old games, like LucasArts adventure games, and Prince of Persia. Surprisingly, those games seemed refreshing and addictive, but they ended pretty quickly because I sort of knew how to finish it already. That's the problem with point and click adventure games... there's simply very little replay value.

Fortunately, there's a brand new game coming to town. It's a remake of a LucasArts classic, and it comes in various episodes. Yes, I'm finally looking forward to ONE game, and it's none other than Sam n Max! I'm hoping it doesn't disappoint.

In the mean time, I'm keeping occupied with the occasional DotA game. PerfectWorld seemed like a good choice too, but it had better be released soon or risk losing a lot of potential players. All in all, perhaps it's a good thing gaming has become so tedious and uninteresting... at least I can concentrate on studying. Maybe my grades will improve...


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Posted by Gerald at 8/29/2007 03:25:00 PM

Motorola V3X Memory Card issue

Monday, August 20, 2007

So after using my 1 gig card on my phone for a while, I seem to encounter a slight problem with its usage. Every time I tried to copy a file into the phone / card, it complains with some 'writing' error. I was wondering if that card had a "write protect" button or setting I accidentally tripped.

Thankfully, I did a quick Google and found the source of the problem. It seems that 1 gig Sandisk MicroSD card can't accommodate more than a certain number of file names in the root. I formated the card to FAT32 (I believe the original was FAT) and transferred the files into folders, which made it easier to organise anyway.

Result: I can fully utilise my 1 gig card!

Things I wanted to put in? Indiana Jones theme in anticipation for the latest Indy movie coming out soon. It somehow amazed me a little that some people just don't know WHO or WHAT Indiana Jones is. Perhaps I AM getting just a bit older... either that or the young-ens are deprived. They couldn't even recognise R2-D2's beeps, calling it "Teletubbies".

Or perhaps it's just because I'm too geeky.

Anyway, my phone is working fine now, so I won't be complaining anymore.

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Posted by Gerald at 8/20/2007 02:02:00 PM

How Piracy is keeping Windows alive

Friday, August 17, 2007

There was a very interesting article I read today. It seems to explain a little about piracy, Microsoft and Linux.

I'm very inclined to agree with what's said.

Check it out here.

Not much to say except I more or less totally agree with the author.

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Posted by Gerald at 8/17/2007 01:34:00 AM

Web 2.0 social issues

Monday, August 13, 2007

I was at a bookstore a couple of days back and saw this little book which caught my attention. I don't remember exactly the title, but it was basically about the possible flaws and problems with Web 2.0. While I believe Web 2.0 isn't perfect, something about the book just didn't seem to add up for me. It concentrated on the social aspect of Web 2.0 rather than the technological aspect so I'm not looking at it from that perspective. The problems stated are 'social' or 'ethical' issues which I somewhat disagree with.

For starters, Web 2.0 refers to a change in the internet scene. Previously, it was all about content providers which supplied data in one direction; regular people accessing the internet for data got it from the 'source'. Web 2.0 however, places the ball in the court of the average internet user. It's a community based approach, and 'content' can be provided by any user. While Web 2.0 is referring specifically to the internet and the web-based communities as well as hosted services that surround it, there's also a 'broader perspective' with which one can view this strange phenomenon.

In the beginning, end users had to wait for the source to produce something before they could use or consume it. This happened just about everywhere, because unless manufacturers produced a brand new product, end users or consumers would not be able to see it. Let's say that as an end user I suddenly have this brilliant idea, but unlike the established manufacturers, do not have the ability to produce it. I could try to sell the idea to the manufacturer, but even then, it was technically still a one way flow of the ideas, with the manufacturer again being the one having the responsibility to produce better ideas and products. With this new community based approach, the end user or consumer community can effectively contribute towards an idea or project. This is the core for which Web 2.0 based software and products work on. Websites like Digg and Wikipedia rely on the collective community intelligence instead of just one person or entity.

The book I read basically focussed on one important aspect of Web 2.0 and expounds on why it is potentially problematic. The book gives an example of blogging, where every end user is now a journalist, without qualifications possibly, writing whatever they want about any topic out there. The problem is that with so many sub-standard blogs out there, one has to crawl through all the garbage in order to find the one or two rare gems that are actually good blogs worth the time reading, or so the book claims. It equates this to giving an infinite number of monkeys an infinite number of typewriters, and finding, finally, a Shakespearean piece somewhere.

While I can see where the author's coming from, there is a very significant difference that Web 2.0 has from that analogy. The main complaint seems to be that a very high percentage of those who contribute content in a Web 2.0 platform contribute rubbish. Substandard journalism or ideas without any verification plague the sea of information and without a body to determine the quality or validity of this content, it is inherently garbage. This seems like a valid complaint, until one takes into account the fact that this 'body' which determines whether or not the content is of a certain standard, consists ALSO of monkeys. Putting it into the monkey analogy, whether or not a 'product' is of Shakespearean standard would be determined by a monkey, or an entity comprising of monkeys as well. Furthermore, the only reason Shakespeare's pieces are recognised to be of high quality, is because the MAJORITY of consumers deem it to be so.

The fallacy here is to assume that group intelligence, that is the collective thoughts of the community, is lower than that of an exceptional individual, or group of individuals. While this may appear to be true, the Web 2.0 communities are by and large, scientific, inquisitive people who question everything critically and analytically. This very important trait makes the group intelligence actually much better than what any individual or smaller group can achieve.

This group intelligence is NOT the same as the mindless 'herd mentality' projected by certain groups. Ignorance is at the heart of this apparent stupidity of the group; They accept everything shared wholesale without critically thinking through each and every issue involved. When group intelligence is coupled with this kind of thinking, a robust platform for quality content is established.

The book expounds further about how Wikipedia is essentially a huge fallacy because there is no neutral governing body determining what goes in and what doesn't. The claim is that since any average user can make changes to it, it is therefore unreliable and 'garbage'. This is not quite true, because the MAJORITY of people listen to facts and reasons, not blatantly accept what is shown. Having millions of people patrol it makes it more reliable than any quality control 'body' can ever establish. Sure, you could try to change an entry in Wikipedia, which may be motivated by biasness, but who is to say that having a 'governing body' determine content would absolutely ensure that there would be no partiality or fallacies in the content? In the end, any unproven 'fact' would be viewed skeptically, and any verifiable fact would be accepted as mainstream, further increasing the collective intelligence.

Assuming in the worst case that collectively, people believed the 'wrong' thing, and evidence proving the contrary is found, then collectively, the community would 'learn' and adapt, because again, it's not about the size of the group, but the level of critical thinking that determines the intelligence level of a community.

Web 2.0 is an online realisation of democracy, where the majority has the right to determine and share content. The truth is, low quality content would be largely maligned and forgotten in the huge mass of other more interesting, quality content, contrary to what some people would like to believe. Sure, there are asinine content which interest a lot of people and become popular, but end users are not as stupid as to believe that every popular news or story or content is one with significance or of great quality. Sure, there are some important content which may slip through the cracks of the democratic system and remain buried never to be found. However, it is by and large a better system which promotes more quality content than a singular directional system. Plenty of established content providers have produced crap content before, and there's no doubt that plenty of average users managed to produce quality content.

Undoubtedly, having a governing body would impose responsibilities on them which need to be taken seriously, something that is largely ignored in the Web 2.0 platforms. This issue however, can be looked at from a different perspective. It is now throwing the responsibility of accepting or using content onto the end user's lap. This gives the consumer the prerogative to determine what he/she wants to accept / use. They have the right to ignore those things which they deem wrong or fallacious. It also helps when the reputation of any content provider in the community who contributes content which are 'garbage' drop drastically in the eyes of the community itself.

The long and short of it, is that the community takes care of itself, with democracy having the final say. You can't really force everyone to believe you're right when the whole world accepts that you're not, and you wouldn't be very wise to try.

So, is there really a big problem with Web 2.0? Perhaps my views are a little too optimistic or I might be overlooking some other aspect of it. I would be the first to admit that Web 2.0 isn't perfect. However, it seems to be a very solid platform and I'm more inclined to believe that in it. Like it or not though, it's here to stay, at least for a couple of years.

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Posted by Gerald at 8/13/2007 04:26:00 PM

Rag & Flag Day ~ Orientation 3

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Today is flag day, where all the NUS students go throughout the nation collecting donations for charity. Noble intentions indeed, until I realised that NUSSU happens to be one of the beneficiaries.

I have nothing against charitable acts, but it appalls me how completely ignorant and selfish NUSSU really is. Yes, they're the highest student body in the whole of NUS, but one really wonders whether they understand ALL aspects of university life to be making certain decisions. Don't they realise that deciding to hold an event externally is an undue strain financially on other student bodies? Do they not also realise that as much as they want to go 'outside' they should at least have rendered some form of help to the struggling student bodies that are forced to follow their whims?

I'm pretty sure they don't.

Accusations of my credentials would surely ensue. Criticism, however, should be noted constructively. To put it plainly:


Rag and flag is one of the most important events in NUS, though many will fail to see why. It may have started out with very good intentions, goals and visions, and I applaud the founders for such an event. Unfortunately, in recent years, it's become a debacle. Instead of the noble causes it stands for, it's now considered a hassle of a tradition in which STUDENTS largely couldn't care less for the things they're doing. Ask them the night before flagging if they can name even 3 of the beneficiaries for which they will be working hard for, and I'd bet 99 out of 100 would fail. They simply don't care.

It's about prestige and money. To NUSSU, a successful event like this would mean a good resume for their members, and lots of funding for their union. To the halls of residences, it's a way to show just how 'great' the hall is, ignoring the fact that thousands of dollars are thrown into the event and causing huge losses. The money would've been better off somewhere else. While there may be a few who actually still believe in the spirit of Rag and Flag, it's lost on the huge majority of students.

Students nowadays are selfish and narcissistic. A blatant generalisation perhaps, but by and large true nonetheless. Show me a student who cares for more than solely their own future or their own things and I'll show you a student with a vision for great things. They work hard, true, but only to improve their chances of 'success', defined in whatever way they want. I've met countless of people who couldn't give 2 hoots about helping others unless it's convenient and doesn't stretch beyond dropping that 10 cents into a tin can. There have been way too many articles about this issue so I won't embark on it.

I really wonder what rag and flag stands for to the students of NUS, and especially to the committee members of NUSSU. Prove me wrong, please, and show me that you're all actually DOING all this because you REALLY CARE for all those people in need, and not for some selfish reason. Prove me wrong by showing you actually want to help ALL student bodies, including halls and faculty clubs, to be able to put up excellent floats and performances for the public. Prove me wrong by doing SOMETHING apart from sitting on your high horse, telling everyone else what to do and ignoring cries for help financially or logistically. Most of all, show EVERYONE that you guys are not narcissistic blockheads looking for a good resume which reads "The one who brought Rag day out to Padang was me, me, ME, ME, ME! ME! ME!!!!111"

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Posted by Gerald at 8/07/2007 01:53:00 PM

Orientation 2

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Ok, it's not exactly the slew of posts I thought it'd be. It's been way to hectic to actually have the time to sit down and write something decent.

As usual, a lot of interesting freshmen stories. Some nick names have cropped up, including banana / 'hor hor girl' and 'plaster', which seems kinda familiar IMHO. *shrug* There are also siblings, but they're all sisters, which explains why we don't bully them as much this year, or perhaps it's just that we're not that mean.

Orientation has been tiring, from Initiation to Courtroom Games, to Raffles Day. At this point, I've got a sunburn so bad, it would rival Dr Zoidberg. I guess being in the water is really bad since it washes off the sunblock and amplifies the damage done. =(

In any case, Raffles Day yesterday was uber fun, and rightfully so, because we worked for it. WWW and RHOC slam turned out pretty well, or at least much better than what we've seen previously. Interestingly enough, the freshmen seem quite enthusiastic about everything, often taking the initiative to go and hype themselves up, instead of waiting to be hyped. You could go as far as saying they're a tad bit crazy. Island princess turned out a tad bit scary. The 'crazy' year ones got too much into it that they did some things which cannot be mentioned up here. The drag queens turned out to be either a dominatrix, or an over-enthusiastic 'partner' to their 'ka kia'. A little disgusting, but as long as they enjoy themselves...

So keeping this post a little short, we're all recovering from the long day yesterday, and thankfully all made it back in once piece. Now the only problem is to survive the pain for the next few days...

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Posted by Gerald at 8/05/2007 12:06:00 PM