General Updates

A long time has passed since the last update – pretty slack, eh! A lot has happened since then; I’ve seen many things that deserve writing about; maybe I’ll get around to it, maybe I won’t. Probably the most important thing is that I have finished working at WebCentral and have moved onto AusGamers work full-time. This is due primarily to the takeover of the Wireplay services, Wireplay of course being Telstra’s gaming division. This promises to be fun, exciting, and a lot of hard work.

Something else that has occured since was CPL Pacific, the biggest and most expensive gaming event to happen on Australian shores. This was a pseudo-success, most gamers had a blast but there were a few issues that cropped up that caused some grief to some people. All a learning experience for LAN organisers of Australia though.

I’ve just made a few updates to the site; cleaned out a lot of extraneous pictures from my SF trip and uploaded a few other interesting tidbits around the place. More content will be forthcoming shortly!

The Watcher

The Watcher, starring Keanu Reeves, James Spader, Marisa Tomei, and Ernie Hudson. I was a bit dubious about it and only saw it due to external outside influences (stagrrr).

The plot opens in a massively cliched style, ye olde burnt-out cop living life on the edge, all alone in a dirty apartement, his only friend a gun. He’s not alcoholic, BUT is addicted to painkillers or migraine pills or something, so basically, he’s just like every other burnt out cop, except not cool like Bruce Willis or Arnie.

Of course, he can’t be a burnt-out suicidal cop without something in his life that had gone horribly wrong. Extremely predictably, its the old “bad guys killed his girlfriend” plot, which then develops into the “serial killer haunting the one cop” plot. There’s the obligatory deaths of a few characters to throw the cops into a hunting frenzy.

Marisa Tomei, who stars as a Plot Device, is crudely dragged into the movie as the typical New Girlfriend, and as you might expect ends up in danger.

In fact, I thought this movie was so bad, I couldn’t be bothered writing anything else except half-assed little snipes.

Keanu Reeves was pretty boring; his character was shallow and just.. boring – at no time was there any sort of terror inspired by his performance or character. Something else that bugged me was the starting theme with Keanu dancing around with some guns – Dragula, by Rob Zombie. Straight away I got the impression of Matrix-ness, which was further enhanced with Keanu’s frequent black leather trenchcoat appareil and a chase across a dark rooftop.

Overall, the whole thing was just too stupid – my taste in movies is pretty simple and I usually like movies that stick to the same sort of formula, but there was really nothing good at all to say about this. No good effects, no good acting, boring plot, uninspiring and totally unoriginal characters and a weak ending made this pretty much a waste of money.

Men of Honor

Went and saw Men of Honor the other day, mainly because I was bored rather than a genuine desire to actually see this movie.

Starring Robert de Niro (yeh, he’s still alive!) and Cuba Gooding, Jr, Men of Honor is the Hollywood-ised version of the story of Carl Brashear, the first African-American US Navy Diver, and the first black guy to make it to the rank of Master Chief.

It starts out fairly predictably, with Cuba being smacked around in an old-school racist way, a theme which perpetuates throughout the entire movie. Its amazing to see how much bullshit that non-white people had to absorb way back before (most of) humanity evolved to the point where they started treating people equally. I basically spent the first part of the movie going, “man, all these people are racist assholes”, which is obviously what I was supposed to be doing.

The story itself is pretty interesting – considering it iss true, its good testament to the human spirit and how much ass-kicking people can do when they’re motivated, even when they’re surrounded by the harshest of conditions. The US Naval Institute has a brief overview of his life, as well as an excerpt from a book (I think).

Being a true story, its pretty easy to guess how the plot goes. I thought the execution of the story was a little clumsy; it seemed to be a bit disjointed with different bits segmented and glued together. I guess that might have been the aim though; its not really a normal story but rather a type of documentary to cover the more interesting bits of Brashear’s life. If you’ve got Foxtel, you’ll see on the movie channel the dude actually interviewing Brashear, who gives out some tidbits of what he thought of the movie.

If you’re after a good story of the triumph of the human spirit in the face of adversity, this is a good thing to see. I thought the ‘Men of Honor’ title was somewhat misplaced; at MOST there were three guys in that movie with any sort of honor, the rest of them being portrayed primarily as racist lusers.

The Sixth Day

Its been a while between movies for the Big A lately, with his last effort being End of Days, which if I recall correctly came shortly after he’d just had some heart surgery or something like that. End of Days was given a pretty lukewarm reception despite being Arnie’s big comeback movie, but I still enjoyed it (Arnie kicking the devil’s ass? Awesome!).

The Sixth Day is an pseudo-sci-fi action flick set in the near future. As an aside, there’s some cool examples of networked technology which would be awesome to start seeing in common appliances (like a fridge that tells you when you’re running low on something and allows you to order more from a panel on the front).

Uh, anyway, the world is a different place (as usual). Apparently the world was on the brink of starvation, or something, before some combination of ninja genetic engineer Dr Weir and entrepreneur richman Michael Drucker were able to figure out how to make good, reliable and safe clones. From here, I assume that Drucker, being a capitalist pig, was able to turn the scientific advances of Weir into a giant fortune, which he used to build a bigger fortune, and, inevitably, became Evil.

After some early cloning of humans went horribly wrong (apparently), a multitude of laws were passed to make cloning a human extremely illegal, and had ramifications which would have you dropping soap for forty years. Despite this, Drucker was doing it anyway. This, of course, opens up a whole kettle of philosophical fish for the characters, AND the audience, as they have to grapple with the theory of ‘does a clone have a soul?’

Enter Arnie – a helicopter pilot who has been happily living out his family life with loving wife and daughter (aka, plot accessories) until he becomes embroiled in Drucker’s cloning conspiracy when anti-cloning activists start messing with Drucker’s plans. The writer cleverly put in a reference to the hypocrisy of the anti-cloning people by having Drucker denounce them.. uh.. as hypocrites… pointing out that his cloning technology has saved millions of lives by providing food (after all the fish in the oceans died or something, which obviously had the snowballing effect of wiping out all the cows and bananas), and then pointing out how cloning humans could improve people’s lives. This left the activists with nothing to stand on but the soapbox of God, so I’d say the writer/director was an advocate of Darwinian theory, at least to some degree. Oh yeh, the plot. Anyway, as is evident in the trailer, this leads to a brief bit of confusion whilst Arnie tries to figure out what the hell is going on – eventually, of course, someone starts trying to kill him (to erase the evidence of the cloning) and before you know it, we’re bumper-deep in a chase scene with laser bolts flying all over the place, a steadily increasing body count, and several witty Schwarzenegger-esque lines.

Like just about every movie that is ever made, its full of disgusting plot holes. Arnie was pretty boring in it; there was way too much hilarity and Arnie being jovial at the start instead of walking around laying down the smack like I wanted to see. They need to stop him being happy and get him mad earlier on.

Now, I’m going to run the risk of a spoiler here and throw in a very brief bit of the ending that might SHOCK and SURPRISE you – Arnie triumphs over the bad guys and wins.

The bad guys, in this case, were Drucker and his cronies. Drucker, you see, is a multi-uber-billionaire after developing, patenting and selling his quality cloning techniques, and has more money than (I would imagine) anyone else in the world in this particular story. Every scene with Drucker in it, and his wealth is displayed in lavish ostentatiousness, just in case you missed the fact that the main building the thing is set in is a technological gold mine.

Despite all this money, and setup, and sound business planning, apparently Drucker is a bit clueless when it comes to a) choice of employees and b) planning ahead. The main cronies are just the typical Hired Goons, which are somewhat out of place in the surroundings. I would have been expecting some sort of vat-grown, genetically customised and optimised killing machines (like the ninjas that come out of William Gibson’s Chiba City). Instead, he chose a mildly good-looking chick, who didn’t really do anything that useful, and this total tool of a guy who had nothing better to do than die repeatedly in a manner very reminiscent of comic relief.

Of course, after Arnie dispatches the simple guards, he has no problems in defeating Evil and Saving The Day. The 450,000 other security guards that were wandering around the building were apparently too busy to bother coming to battle Arnie until it was way too late to save the Evil Boss. I took very careful notes on the downfall process, so one day when I’m a Good (or Evil, or whatever) uber billionaire like Drecker, I don’t make the same idiot mistakes that he does and get taken out by some punk ass pilot.

Overall, I must confess I was pretty unimpressed. I’ve always been (and still remain) a big Arnie fan, but I thought this movie was pretty lacklustre. The surroundings were good, the futuristic technology was cool (but integrated a little awkwardly, I thought). The laser gun things were sorta boring, which resulted in the gun fighting scenes being average as well. Arnie did pop out a couple of good calls though, which I giggled at (big fan of stupid bravado movie calls). Special effects were boring and barely noticable (which I guess means they were good?); I’d go so far as to say you could live without seeing this on the big screen.

Summary: Make more Terminator movies, or only accept roles in James Cameron movies from now on, please Arnie! I BEG YOU!

Ahhhh, Its Holiday Time!

Well, not really, but close enough. Today I ended working fulltime at WebCentral. I’ve been there since something like March 2000, working full time in the technical department as a senior tech sorta dude. It was good fun, but I decided I wanted some more time to follow up other interests, and go to the beach more, and try and get fit again, and actually start playing computer games again (since Quake came out, all I have is a big FPS blur).

So, now, I’m kicking back to 2 days a week working (still at WebCentral), which gives me 5 glorious days of doing my own thang. Naturally, the dark side of my destiny decided to slap me in the face on the day I finished by bringing in non-stop rain, thus puncturing all my plans to go to the coast in the near future.

Bedazzled

Went and saw Bedazzled the other night, expecting it to be few mildly pleasant and amusing antics as Brendan Fraser bumbled around in his typical gumby manner. Instead, I was basically treated to what was a non-stop visual rollercoaster which demonstrated in precise detail EXACTLY how hot Elizabeth Hurley is.

Simply put, she spends most of the time strutting around in costumes that have been designed from the ground up to prove that English chicks can be hot, despite their horribly flawed accent (and country’s current cricket team).

The movie, directed by Harold Ramis (aka Egon from Ghostbusters) is based on the first movie from a way long time ago back when movies were black and white or something. OK, so I don’t know anything about the earlier movie, but suffice to say it sure as hell didn’t have Ms Hurley in it. Anyway, being by Harold Ramis, you might think it is going to be quite the funny story (as I did). Basically, the plot goes something like this: Brendan Fraser (loser, nerd, and hated by all) runs into the Devil in a bar – Liz Hurley. She offers him seven wishes, whatever he wants, in return for his soul.

What follows then is a 7 different iterations of Brendan Fraser turning into a rich, or athletic, or compassionate, or super-intelligent, or suave, or various combinations of the above, whilst at the same time trying to make the object of his affection fall in love with him. None of these had me rofl’ing, but at the end of each adventure he runs back into Elizabeth again, wearing some different outfit that makes her look ever spootier than the one before.

Oh, and its set in San Francisco – they could have redeemed some of the boring story bits with some awesome scenery shots, but they didn’t.

To summarise, in case you haven’t read between the lines, Elizabeth Hurley is hot in this movie. There is really no other excuse for wanting to see it. Don’t delude yourself. Ramis, what were you thinking!@#

More Neal Stephenson: Mother Earth, Mother Board

Another article that a friend sent me by Neal Stephenson: Mother Earth, Mother Board. It’s about the FLAG, a fiber-optic cable being built from England to Japan. It “is a skinny little cuss (about an inch in diameter), but it is 28,000 kilometers long”. It touches on the history of laying submarine cables and is (as usual) an excellently written, well-researched document that is worthy of reading.

Integral Trees

On the way back from the USA, I read the Integral Trees, by Larry Niven. Niven is a well-respected SF writer who’s written a stack of other acclaimed books. The Mote in God’s Eye and Footfall are books he’s co-authored with Jerry Pournelle, both of which are awesome reading.

Integral Trees is a pretty short novel; its basically a story of evolved humans that live in primitive societies without gravity in a gas cloud around a neutron star. Its a pretty cool world; very different from the normal fare about invasions on Earth. Its weird having to remind yourself that the story is set in a predominantly zero-g environment, which has been meticulously detailed by Niven.

Its a pretty short read, so therefore: a short review. But definitely something that’s worth picking up if you’re into SF for something differnet.

CTFi Practice Round

Well, we had our CTFi practice round. Me, Storm, FactorX, BadKarma, Limpz, Harkonnen, and Wog all kicked some ass against Team D, who I couldn’t be bothered to name here. Had some server problems towards the end of the game, but they were resolved. And continued problems during the game, because I’d cleverly forgotten how to put a password on the server, so cluepon-worthy people kept joining the server.

The first game in q3wctf2 was a draw, 2 all. We only got our 2nd cap because Kuffs dropped out, so they played damn well to come back and finish the game in a draw. Some awesome plays all over the place, especially by our team in defense, executing a stack of great movies to get our flag back when I thought it was lost for sure.

Second game was q3ctf3, which is a damn defensive one. Fortunately, we somehow managed to sneak through like damn legends and took it out 1-0 with some awesome teamwork co-ordination to cap.

Last game took a while to get going, and we ended up a player down, but fortunately scoob was playing like an child and only using his keyboard or something lame like that. In any case, we played like legends while the other team floundered around whinging about lag and generally trying to see if they could play better through tears. Next game is on Thursday – looking forward to it.