Friday 30 July 2010

Frankie and Benny's

Carrie, Chris, Vix and myself had planned to go to the all-you-can eat Chinese, however we got there and found it was closed - D'oh! Infact it wasn't just closed, it looked like it was out of business, which was really weird considering all the tables had cutlery laid out! After some debating about what to do, we decided to go in the nearby Frankie and Benny's instead (Italian-American restaurant) and it was great!

Chris and Vix

We ordered a combo-platter as a starter so we all had a bit of everything and that arrived fairly quickly... however we had to wait absolutely ages for our main meal. Still, I don't think anyone at our table was that bothered although it wasn't just us and there were problems all round the restaurant. For example they ran out of ice because the ice making machine broke down which meant no cocktails for anyone... but hey I was drinking Diet Coke from a glass bottle which was chilled so I didn't really care :)

Check out my double BBQ burger - Yum!

I hadn't eaten all day as I was expecting to be going to an all-you-can-eat Chinese so naturally I picked the biggest meat product on the menu. It was worth the wait and filled me up completely. Before leaving a few of us visited the restroom which was a source of a major amusement as there's a "voice" in there teaching you phrases in Italian. After Chris came back from there he bought each of us a portable toothbrush which were on sale from the machine in there:

Bizarre eh?! We all tried them out and you sort of hook it over your teeth and then just start chewing and there's like a minty flavour thing and it's weird, but I actually think it sort of worked... until the point I started eating the plastic itself - Oops! :)

It was about 11pm by now, but we weren't ready to go home so we went into the nearby Bowlplex to see what arcade games they had and found Mario Kart GP 2!

The Mario Kart arcade games are great because aside from the usual Mario Kart characters, it's the same chaos where player positions change in the blink of an eye and it combines it with taking your picture at the start so you can laugh at everyones photos!

Whilst playing air hockey with Chris I got a bit carried away and I sent the puck flying off the table not once... but twice and the second time it whizzed past some guys. As we retrieved it I apologised for making them jump thinking they'd find it amusing too, but one of them started shouting about how I was very lucky that it hadn't hit him in the head or he'd have sued me and kept repeating this... we retrieved the puck, ignored them and carried on with our game. Chris won, boo :P

Next we played on "Guitar Hero":

I've never actually seen one in an arcade and I had no idea they even existed, but we had a go on it and tried "Paranoid" by "Black Sabbeth". I haven't played in absolutely ages so insisted that we play on easy and soon regreted it as it it was a bit too easy:

I was player 2 and didn't miss a single note, but I think Chris probably only missed the one so it was actually a lot closer than it looks (by just missing one note his multiplier would have dropped requiring him to build it back up giving me a clear gap). After this Chris had a go on the pinball machine before we went outside, said our goodbyes and headed home. A fantastic evening out! :)

Tuesday 27 July 2010

Scanimation: Star Wars

This is so unbelievably cool the video will not do it justice, but it's just... wow! Rob at work had told me about this book he'd seen where the pages "moved", yet there was no technology involved. I knew that I needed to see this so I set out on a mission to find it... and thankfully this proved quite easy and I am now the proud owner of the Star Wars saga, in Scanimation form:

As you turn the pages you can see the pictures "moving" and the speed you turn the page controls how fast that movement is. How it works is actually really simple and each page is more like a card sleeve with black vertical lines. Behind it you can see part of a separate bit of card which is fixed to the binding and as you turn the page the inside card is pulled and because of the black lines covering part of that inside card, you see an image that looks like it's changing. I'm probably not explaining it very well am I? Just marvel at the imagery!

I know it's not amazing quality, but it impressed the hell out of me and everyone that's seen it goes "oh wow!" (or words to that effect!) Oh and yes, the 1st and 10th one are the same, it's because the cards are in story order and I guess they thought that made a decent cover!

Sunday 25 July 2010

Location, Location, Location

Does anyone watch Location, Location, Location? It's a reality TV show where they try to find the ideal home for some prospective buyers and I found out that my friends Vicky and Andy were on it this week!

I won't upload the actual video as it's like 174Mb big and I'm not sure anyone that doesn't know them will actually be interested in it, but if you are (and you're in the UK) then you can click here to watch it on the 4OD website - That link will probably only work for a few more days though!

Ultimate nachos

I already put this on my Twitter, but I thought they turned out so well they deserved additional sharing! I used to use those nachos "kits" that you can buy, but then I saw my friend Leah make them using Doritos and so with some experimenting I think I've made the ultimate nachos :)

That's a jar of salsa, a jar of jalapenos and about half a block of cheese, but my god it tasted good! :) It probably also helped that I hadn't eaten all day so I was starving... :)

Saturday 24 July 2010

Final Fantasy XIV beta

I was able to properly get on to the Final Fantasy XIV beta for the first time since I found out that I had access to the beta. The server has been down a lot so we've simply not been able to connect :(

However, I was able to play today, run around a bit, kill some things and generally work out how the game works and it's pretty cool! Visually it's amazing too:

The low-resolution screenshots don't do it justice, it looks wonderful. I've blurred out my name though because I'm not entirely sure we're supposed to be showing people screenshots (although there are others all over the web and videos all over YouTube so I don't think it matters too much?).

It's very different from FFXI in many ways and you can tell it's designed primarily for a console (PS3), but I think I can get used to it! :)

IT Crowd

Did anyone else see the IT Crowd last night? I think it was probably the best episode of this season and I just had to share what I thought was the funniest bit:

Poor Roy, he was having a really bad day :) I just love Jen's complete lack of any sort of computer skills! :)

Thursday 22 July 2010

The Fog

I left work today to this:

Woah! It might not be obviously from the pictures, but that's actually looking into a bit of a valley and the hill the other side of it. Okay so it's just fog... but I thought it looked pretty cool! :)

Sunday 18 July 2010

Creationary, Labyrinth, Fluxx and Chili

I spent Sunday at Laura, Leah and Emma's house and I had a great day although it wasn't without a bit of a chaotic start:

I was asked to bring dessert (mainly because I'd gone so overboard last time that I was asked to bring dessert lol!), but there was a specific request to make sure there was at least a chocolate gateau and double cream and it turned out this wasn't quite as straight forward as I thought it would be! The first shop that I went to which usually has such things didn't have any, but I bought a trifle and some eclairs and then went to another local shop. This shop had a chocolate gateau and a cheesecake and a chocolate torte, but no double cream. Argh! So I got all those and went back to the original shop just to get the double cream. Let me clarify, I turned up with: Trifle, 4 eclairs, gateau, torte, cheesecake and cream! There was only 4 of us in total, but in my defence, I wasn't sure who was going as it could have been as high as 7 people :)

Soon after getting there we all settled down to play my Lego Creationary game. It's essentially similar to Pictionary (where you have to draw the item), but instead with this version you have to BUILD it out of Lego. Fun!

Do you like the dune buggy?

Leah and I were on a team and worked really well together and amazingly we somehow managed to build/guess "periscope", "chainsaw", "submarine", "segway" (I kid you not!), "ski lift", the above "dune buggy" and loads more! Laura and Emma played really well too, but we were just on a roll :)

After this we had a game of Labyrinth:

I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but it's a bit of a favourite in my family because it's so simplistic, yet also very challenging at the same time. Essentially you are dealt some cards and you have to reach all the goals to win, but the board/maze is constantly changing shape so it's harder to do this than it sounds. The more people that are playing means that by the time it gets back round to your go it looks completely different!

Talking of things constantly changing, that's like our next game:

Although it doesn't look it, Fluxx is a brilliant game and as they say themselves: "The Card game with ever changing rules!". It's hard to describe, but you have to draw cards from a deck and then play cards on the table and then the first person to reach the goal wins. However, the amount of cards you can hold in your hand, the amount you draw, the amount you play each turn AND even the goal are constantly changing depending on what cards are played. It's BRILLIANT! And also shockingly expensive... for what's really just a pack of cards it's insane that they charge over £10!

Leah made us all dinner and it was fantastic. Nachos (using Doritos!), Chili and rice - Yum! And then for dessert I had some of the torte and a large chunk of cheesecake! :)

We played some Mario Kart Wii and a few more games of Fluxx and then it was getting late so I headed home. Great day! :)

Tuesday 13 July 2010

Super Cario World

My friend Carrie came over for the weekend for another gaming, DVD and junk food session and as you might imagine, we had a ton of fun like always! The name of this post is because it's obviously a pun of Super Mario World on the Super Nintendo (the BEST Mario game!) and to further this we've created a Foursquare event not far from my house called "Super Cario World" so whenever she comes over we check into it etc.

Okay enough explaining, the rest of the this is going to be mostly pictures. They're more exciting than my ramblings anyway :)

We ordered Chinese food - Yummy chow mein for me!

Went shopping for extra weekend supplies and bought these on offer...
18p for the lot! Bargainous!

Bought Star Mix Haribo purely because it advertised a new alien figure.
I was disappointed it wasn't bigger.

Watch "Black Sheep", a horror comedy.
It was truely awful.

Thankfully this one turned out to be much better,
pretty gruesome stuff!

I ran a small poll on my Twitter asking people which bolognese sauce we should use.

Ended up going with the Carrie-friendly regular flavour, but still tasted great!

And we also played a lot of Mario Kart Wii (which was very frustrating as Nintendo WFC was rubbish all day/kept disconnecting us a lot), Carnival Games (also Wii) and even wired up my old PS2 so we could play Tony Hawk's Underground 1 and 2 as we used to be awesome at that and we haven't played in years. Good times.

Friday 2 July 2010

Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse

I've just had a really fanastic evening watching all 3 Twilight films back to back, including the new "Eclipse" movie at the midnight showing. My friend Helen was actually off work ill that day, but still managed to drag herself to come because in her words "There was no way I was missing this, I've been waiting for weeks!" so we were both buzzing with excitement! We got there about 6.30pm (first film started at 7pm) and loaded up with popcorn. I'd booked VIP seats for all the showings and it was one of the best decisions that I've ever made. Aside from obviously being the best location in the cinema and incredibly comfortable, it meant we didn't have to rush around like lunatics to get good seats and I'm not exagerrating, but that really did happen and other people seemed to be nearly fighting to get inside as fast as possible!

We walked into the "Twilight" showing at about 6.45pm and already found it heaving with people so I have no idea what time they all got there, but I was glad we didn't have to worry about it. I'd only seen "Twilight" once a while back, but I hadn't seen "New Moon" at all so I was really excited (and probably the only person in there who hadn't seen it!) and obviously I hadn't seen "Eclipse" so it was sort of like 2 and a half new films for me! :) (I've read all the books though).

The first two films were in the same room with about 15 minutes gap between them and I swear that there were some teenage girls counting how many guys were in there (not many!) because as I walked past them in the break one of them said "There's another one!" and that's the only thing I can think of and likewise Helen and myself had commented to each other on this too. "Eclipse" was a lot more balanced, but I swear that for the first two films there was probably only 15 guys AT MOST in there... and there must have been 200-300 people in there! Ha.

During the breaks between the films I was teasing Helen because everytime Edward came on the screen she would audibly inhale and everytime someones shirt came off (basically Jacob for pretty much the entire of New Moon) there was the same noise, except she wasn't alone... the entire cinema seemed be doing it and I found 200+ swooning people quite amusing! :)

10 minutes from the end of end of "New Moon" about 25-30 people got up and exited the cinema (making quite a lot of noise in the process), except it was only 11.20pm, "Eclipse" wasn't starting for another 40 minutes... I guess they REALLY wanted good seats! However, at the point the movie DID finish, it was like a stampede. People charged for the exit to get to the other screen to see the midnight showing of "Eclipse" even though we had just over 30 minutes before it started... We waited until pretty much everyone had charged out and their we leisurely sauntered back to the main lobby, visited the bathroom, queued up to get some more drinks whilst giggling at the people who were visibly and audibly panicing because there was "only" 20 minutes left until the film started and they weren't in the right place! I know I've already used the verb sauntered in this paragraph, but that's really the best word to describe how we were moving. "Don't really care, our seats will be there". In fact, I even went back out to the main lobby to get some extra supplies and got back to my seat with "only" 2 minutes to go! (the time is clearly shown on all the LCD monitors around the building so I knew exactly how long I had to walk 20 metres back to my seat!)

But back to "Eclipse" itself... brilliant! Although lots of people clapped and cheered at the end which did surprise me. I mean I thought it was good, but it certainly wasn't the best film I've ever seen! It was very enjoyable and I loved all the little in jokes from the books that weren't fully explained in the movie, but as a reader you understood/laughed at them as a little bonus. I thought it was a fair representation of the book (I think they all were) and to me everything that needed to be the films, has been, however I was little disappointed with the "battle" scene, namely that the action wasn't longer. The time from the Cullen's engaging the enemy to Edward killing "you-know-who" (no spoilers here!) is ONLY *6 minutes* long. And that includes lots of extra filler non-action scenes. The BIG battle is less than 2 minutes... I know that's still 2 minutes, but given the magnitude of what it was... I just expected it to be "longer", but it really did make it look like it was a piece of cake and there was no real challenge involved. Heck even the entire actual fight between Edward and "you-know-who" was only 90 seconds long... am I being too unreasonable expecting the conclusion to be... longer?!

But yeh, fantastic evening even if I didn't get home until 4am!!

Thursday 1 July 2010

Mobile surgeon required

If you wondered about my title, I'm not looking for a surgeon who is mobile, but rather a surgeon to operate on my mobile (although I suppose that's also "mobile" now I think about it...). I almost called this the "The Curse of the Micro-SIM", although wasn't sure if that sounded funny or not! Back on topic though, sadly my lovely HTC Touch Pro2 has had a bit of a mishap and I'm debating what to do about it. With the new micro-SIMs coming out instead of the "usual" mini-SIM I thought perhaps I should get one in advance because at some point another phone I get will likely need one so it'll save time waiting for one to arrive:

I think everyone on the planet probably recognises that, it's a SIM card! Technically though only the entire big thing is a SIM card, the smaller punch out bit (the one that's used in pretty much all mobile phones these days) is a mini-SIM and the TINY one in the centre, that's a micro-SIM that the iPhone 4 uses and I'm guessing so will a lot of other phones in the future since it's smaller still.

My new SIM card came like that, but I punched it all the way down to the micro-SIM as there was a plastic adapter with it too... bad move. I put that plastic adapter in my phone and all was fine until I tried to remove it. On the way out it snagged/broke some of the connecting pins and left this horrible mess:

There should be 8 pins there, but as you can see there's only 3 in the top row and 1 in the bottom row (and 2 halves). Ick. As you might imagine the phone no longer sees a SIM card and simply says "Insert SIM". Very helpful for a phone...

Unfortunately being able to even see that much wasn't that easy as it all sealed over so armed with my trusty T5 screwdriver and lots of mobile disassembly tools I had to dismantle the phone, not quite so easy considering the slide/tilt mechanism! Thankfully 20 minutes later I had ended up with:

It's really not as complicated as it looks, it's just a matter of going slowly and not forcing anything unless you're sure it's supposed to open. One thing I did find quite amazing was how much double sided tape was in the phone. It's not holding it together or anything, but it is being used as extra adhesive to stop things moving around.

I've ordered a fine soldering iron which will arrive sometime next week and I'll attempt to either make some new pins (!) or I'll directly solder the SIM card to the phone. No I'm not joking :) The other option is to simply buy a working Touch Pro2 with a broken screen off eBay or somewhere like that and just swap over what I need. I guess we can call that "Plan B". OR I could just wait about 2 months as there's supposed to be a Touch Pro3 coming out although there's no details yet and knowing my luck it'll be running Android or even worse Windows Phone 7 (I love 6.5.5 because can use 10+ years worth of applications, but WP7 changes everything and isn't backwards compatible!). For the meantime though, I'm using my previous phone, the HTC TyTN II, which (as you might expect considering it's mine) has also been pimped to run Windows Mobile 6.5.5 even though officially 6.1 was supposed to be the last version for it :)