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The second migration!! March 21, 2008

Posted by Tim in Uncategorized.
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wild_geese.jpg

Have finally got my own domain and migrated to timthinksthat.net. To all my loyal readers (yes all 5 of you!) please update your links!

For all Grabble fans :( March 18, 2008

Posted by Tim in Personal, Uncategorized.
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Apparently it should be called Anagrams :(. I still think Grabble is a better name!

I miss those days…

Tip for Linking Newspaper Articles May 29, 2007

Posted by Tim in Malaysia, Uncategorized.
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Linking to newspaper articles in a blog entry is very common, and encouraged – it shows you have done research.

Problem is that some newspapers and magazines “archive” their online articles. The practice varies from one publication to another. I’ve managed to find archived articles from TIME.com from all the way back in 1969 (!), for example.

For Malaysian papers, the Sun seems to keep its articles online indefinitely (at least for now). The Star archives articles after a year. The New Straits Times takes articles down after 2 months.

Just something to keep in mind. If you want to quote an article, you want to get a link from Sun if possible, otherwise the Star. For NST, after you find the article, search its headline on Google, then link the Google cache as a backup. Sure, if you’re out of your mind you’ll subscribe to the NSTP archive for RM300/year, but don’t expect your readers to do the same.

My Cowell Moment May 28, 2007

Posted by Tim in Entertainment, Uncategorized.
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Nothing quite like the sweet smell of being right, is there?

I have to admit that I was half-rooting for Blake towards the end – rooting for the underdog and all that sort of thing. What’s absurd is the winning entry for the songwriter’s contest – This is My Now? Well whatever the criteria for the contest were, grammar wasn’t one of them. And to be fair, shouldn’t there have been a fourth song that required Jordin to beatbox? Oh well.

Is it just me or are we having an Entertainment 2.0 revolution, just like the Web? Idol was a brilliant next step after “reality” shows like Survivor, Apprentice, etc. It’s proof of the saying “if every person in China gave you one cent, you’d be a millionaire many times over”. No one loses – you spend a few dollars on SMS and you get your entertainment fix. Ford gives Jordin and Blake two Mustangs and in return it gets 15 seconds of product placement. And while the initial selection process for the Hollywood round is a little dubious, every Idol winner is essentially a rags-to-riches story.

People who hate the concept of Idol are just jealous they didn’t think of it.

Starcraft II! May 19, 2007

Posted by Tim in Science/Tech, Uncategorized.
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Yes no kidding.

Link to official trailer torrents
Gameplay footage on Youtube
Main site (Careful, the site is huge: 5mb+)
Press release at IGN
Gamespy article

Finally wrote a profile May 5, 2007

Posted by Tim in Uncategorized.
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Yeah.

Bomb Scare on Penang Bridge April 4, 2007

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Apparently it was closed down for about three hours today after police received a tip-off. The International Herald Tribune has a story on it.

Prank or near-miss? …

BJ Cinema Closes March 23, 2007

Posted by Tim in Uncategorized.
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Found this in today’s Sun, p21:

After a decade of bringing blockbuster movies to people staying on the south west side of the island, Cathay Cineplex in Bukit Jambul Complex will be closed from 5pm next Monday. The closure is in line with the company’s plans to consolidate all its services under one roof at Prangin Mall in George Town. The company’s upgrading work for the cineplex in Prangin Mall is scheduled to be completed in May.

Well… not unexpected (note to self: If you ever open a shopping mall, don’t put shops selling pirated CDs on the 4th floor and the cinema on the 5th). I’ll miss all those times I indignantly say “We could just watch it in BJ!! GSC/Island Plaza is so far away!” when asked to watch movies.

Mega Pavillion – sorry, Cathay Cineplex – used to give out those cards where you get one stamp for every movie ticket and after about 15 or so stamps you get a “free” movie – that is, after no one wants to watch the movie any more, they put it on the free list and you can use your card. Oddly enough, I went to the cinema regularly but can remember getting only one such freebie. The only show on the free list was Love on a Diet starring Sammi Cheng. I sat down in the cinema; there were fewer than 10 people there. I was early because I like to watch cinema advertisements. But nadda. They didn’t even dim the lights. 10 minutes after the show was supposed to have started, the usher came in and told us to choose another show instead – in my case, Jurassic Park 3. Which wasn’t on the free list. Yay.

Is the GSC juggernaut destined to overwhelm all the other players with their caramel popcorn? At least they opened one practically opposite my house…

DiGi’s Not So Smart Choice March 21, 2007

Posted by Tim in Personal, Uncategorized.
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If you’re a subscriber to DiGi – although this should apply to other lines – you’ve probably been receiving spam daily promotional SMSes from DiGi. I can’t give examples because I immediately delete them. But they’re still highly annoying, especially when you’re expecting an important SMS.

Today it got worse though. When I was walking to class (in the rain, I might add) I actually got a call.

A female voice announced that it was a promotional message from DiGi. I was about to complain when she continued:

Press 1 for English, tekan 2 untuk Bahasa Melayu…” – damn automated calls. I hung up then but was still pretty pissed.

Pissed enough to go to DiGi’s website for the first time. Fortunately they have an opt-out solution:

If you wish to opt out from DiGi’s SMS and MMS Promotional Messages, please send either one of the keywords OUT or KELUAR to 1994.

Talk about fine print…they should have included this in every unsolicited SMS. I hope this stops the calls.

[Update]

It may not have. I got a missed call while out jogging at 7:30ish pm. 2 calls in 3 hours! Same number as before: 016-0160160. Is anyone else getting these calls from DiGi?

Time Crisis 4 in Midlands! July 22, 2006

Posted by Tim in Reviews, Uncategorized.
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Some people I know from KL came down to Penang today and I was supposed to meet them for dinner. Thing is I was going there straight from work, and on the way I got a call telling me they were still on Penang Hill – which left me stranded for an hour or two.

At first I was going to go to kill time in Gurney. Anyone who knows me well knows I’m a fan of arcade light-gun games, and Gurney has the newest machines in Penang, with House of the Dead 3 and 4. But as I was going there I remembered the massive jam that plugs Kelawai road and Gurney drive during the weekends… so I opted for Midlands (1-Stop) instead. Midlands’ arcade is ageing, but they have a good deal which lets you play unlimited games for 4 bucks an hour.

But low and behold as I walked into the Midlands arcade… a spanking new Time Crisis 4 machine! How new is TC4, you might ask? It’s so new that I can’t even find a review for it, let alone an FAQ! So let me be the first:

Time Crisis 4

Namco’s original Time Crisis revolutionized the shooter genre with it’s hide-and-shoot gameplay. Time Crisis II was pretty bad. It didn’t add anything new other than multiplayer capability, which games like Virtua Cop and House of the Dead already had, and TC II was also much easier, with generous time allotments (taking the “crisis” out of the name), as well as a horrible case layout which positioned the player way too near the screen.

The series then took a detour with Crisis Zone, another forgettable shooter which a machine-gun instead of the standard pistol. Time Crisis III then brought the franchise back to the forefront with a weapon-switching system and PS2-standard graphics.

Crisis Critique

However with other competing shooters like House of the Dead 3/4 featuring more frenzied gameplay and much better graphics, or the underplayed (but good) Virtua Cop 3 which sported Max-Payne style bullet time, it was high time Namco shipped a new Time Crisis. How does it measure up?

My first impression wasn’t good: the graphics weren’t noticeably much better than TC III and definitely not on par with House of the Dead. It didn’t help either that Midlands opted for the small-screen cabinet. I started the game, and noticed it still had the same weapon choices. Didn’t look good!

But the complaints pretty much ended there. For one thing the story is slightly better, and the NPCs actually do take part in the action – this adds more challenge, since you have to take care not to hit them. The game also suggests the guns to use at key points (much needed, it was hilarious seeing people trying to take down choppers with a pistol in TC III).

While the graphics aren’t absolutely cutting edge, the game makes the most of them. Smoke, glass shards, sprinkler systems, and even bugs sometimes block your field of vision, and there wasn’t any lag, unlike certain scenes in TC III.

Some of the best improvements were the features and scenes adapted from other games. NPCs communicate to you via radio like in Virtua Cop, and the sound even comes through the individual gun stands, not through the screen. There was a scene straight out of the classic LA Machineguns, which placed you in a helicopter raining down rockets on helicopters and anti-air vehicles below. There was a short sniper portion a la the Silent Scope games, and in the beginning of second stage there was even a tribute to Doom III, placing you in a dark cave and attaching a flashlight to your gun to spot the enemies! Coupled with the well-scripted shootouts, TC 4 definitely had the most memorable scenes compared to its predecessors – typically had one or two good ones per game and then turning into a mindless shoot-fest at the end.

Multitasking Your Shooting

The newest feature that has everyone talking is the multi-screen battle. At many points in the game you need to hold and defend a certain position, during which enemies will come at you from all directions. By pointing your gun to the edge of your current screen, you “scroll” to a different screen, with a different set of enemies. Very challenging, especially in solo mode, but also very innovative.

Gameplay-wise, it’s definitely the best of the series. Accuracy is worth many more points now (1000 for each percentile), and the bullet combo system is much less brainless – there’s a gauge on top which increases as you hit enemies, but quickly goes down as you start missing. Although the weapon selection is the same, they are more balanced – the shotgun has a cooldown between each shot, and the machine gun does much less damage, making it unsuitable for bosses. Reloading seems slightly stricter, no more “duck-and-shoot” techniques. Much more challenge now, for better or worse. I couldn’t get past the first stage on one credit!

Anyone reading this who’s a fan or whose name is Benjamin or Khay Soon, I need kaki for TC 4 !!