Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Swing Girls has too much overacting, too much effort to wring laughs from stock characters and a dull storyline. No conflict, no drama whatsoever. The only thing that kept me from walking out was lead actress Ueno Juri. The lip-synching at the end was better than everything before it.

Should've watched The Spongebob Squarepants Movie instead.

Monday, March 28, 2005

The power of intellectual property rights! (or maybe just the American legal system) --

Sony ordered to pay Playstation 2 damages

Japanese electronics giant Sony Corp.'s video game unit has been ordered to pay $90.7 million in damages over a patent infringement lawsuit in the United States related to the PlayStation2 console, the company said Monday.

More severely:
The district court decision included an order to suspend PlayStation sales but that order does not hold while an appeal is being heard.

Sony is planning to appeal of course, but they should've followed Microsoft's lead and made a licensing deal, rather than risk the massive U.S. market.
I didn't know Dave had written a book (a novella, actually) -- Gone Case.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Every time I walk into a bookstore, I am beset by temptation from all sides.

Picked up Malcolm Gladwell's Blink: The Power Of Thinking Without Thinking on Thursday. I enjoyed reading his first book, the famous The Tipping Point. His writing is clear and simple, and he's great at describing and explaining. When it comes to analysis and making claims however, his reasoning falls short. He tends to make broad sweeping statements based on case studies, interviews and personal experience. Readers expecting concrete lessons from the phenomena he describes would probably be frustrated. Look instead for a framework or a general model.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Hey, I'm on leave from tomorrow onwards.

Avoiding all work
Because there's none available
Like battery thinkers
Count your thoughts on 1 2 3 4 5 fingers
Nothing is wasted
Only reproduced
Get nasty blisters
Du bist sehr schon
But we haven't been introduced

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The concept behind SeventhSky is simple: choose from 1 of 4 mecha, then fly around and blow stuff up. There're only three types of enemies and one background track, but it's a pleasant light beat overlaid with strings and voice. The graphics are decent and there're lots of features. Transformable mecha, secondary weapons, a (crude) radar, multiple play modes and customisable controls. Ambitious amateur Flash game. Just turn the volume down so your boss doesn't catch you.
The selection at SIFF is overwhelming as usual, but here's what I'm thinking of catching:

The Brief Point
Buffalo Boy
The Josef Trilogy
(with Karim Patwa's Spaceship)
Peep "TV" Show
Samaritan Girl

Watching movies alone is no fun, so if anyone would like to catch them together with me, let me know please!

Monday, March 21, 2005

Here's one more for the xenophobes: foreigners stealing our jobs, our women, and now our voices? From Reuters: Singapore prefers foreign protesters over its own

The organisers of next year's event, Singapore's central bank, have said that some 300 authorised foreign NGOs may be allowed to hold peaceful protests.

The government would strictly enforce its zero-tolerance policy towards public protests, organisers said. But protesters affiliated with NGOs participating in the meetings might be allowed to demonstrate if they went through the proper channels.

"Our domestic law is not at odds with this. If they are properly registered and subject to certain conditions, we will allow the demonstrations to take place," said Goh Chye Boon, co-chairman of the planning committee.

Public protests are rare in Singapore, where public gatherings of more than four people require a police permit. A person convicted of unlawful assembly can be fined up to S$1,000 ($615).

Probably not false reporting (even if exaggerated), since an earlier Channel News Asia report has:

The IMF World Bank annual meetings have seen their share of demonstrations in recent years - and the committee says it is fully prepared to handle them.

Police said they would allow assemblies and processions if organisers apply for a permit, but will clamp down on unlawful demonstrations.

Saturday night: My musical (re)education began with a Tortoise album -- It's All Around You -- and then games of hangman, while waiting for Poptart to begin at RNDM (which is supported by the NAC, interestingly enough).

Nostalgia everywhere: blasting out the speakers, vibrating through the body, making people jump like pogo sticks as they cry out the lyrics.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Ah well. So much for my optimism.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

For computer and video games, competing solely on processing power and other technical aspects is leading to diminishing returns. Larger armies of programmers and higher costs don't translate into higher profits than from previous games. And squeezing the lifeblood out of programmers should never be an option -- shame that certain large companies are abusing their staff now.

How about giving players as much ownership and control in the game as possible, but without requiring hard-coding? How about software that reacts to the player's decisions on its own instead of having instructions preprogrammed?

Now, suddenly, his creature could walk. And he did so -- he walked right out of the sea and onto the land. This incredible moment in the history of evolution was made even more remarkable by the technology behind it: the game had figured out, procedurally, how a creature would walk if it had three legs (it was a kind of lopsided gait, if you're curious, with three steps: left, right, then middle.) No 3D modeler created the creature, and no 3D animator was required to make it move around -- it was all created out of a gamer's whim and a computer program smart enough to make it work.

Will Wright Presents Spore... and a New Way to Think About Games

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

On that day, my inheritance began to form -- the blue of Kashmiri sky which dripped into my grandfather's eyes; the long sufferings of my great-grandmother which would become the forebearance of my own mother and the late steeliness of Naseem Aziz; my great-grandfather's gift of conversing with birds which would descend through meandering bloodlines into the veins of my sister the Brass Monkey; the conflict between grandpaternal scepticism and grandmaternal credulity; and above all the ghostly essence of that perforated sheet, which doomed my mother to love a man in segments, and which condemned me to see my own life -- its meaning, its structures -- in fragments also; so that by the time I understood it, it was far too late.

-- Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children
My alma mater's anime club held a mini anime-convention on campus last month. If any of you guys are reading this, I hope UChi-Con went well. I'm ashamed at how easily you have come to eclipse us old blokes.


And I don't know how you managed to get Student Government to give you money for a video games club, but long live The Order of the Blistered Thumb!

Monday, March 14, 2005

No longer is my ORD just a number I rattle off to strangers, but something that causes ripples of anticipation inside me now. I have to go for a very minor operation, which should give me 2 weeks MC, around which I will wrap the rest of my leave. I should be able to effectively leave the army at the end of the month.

Most people I know still find work a chore, but one of my friends has made a career switch. She's now bursting with the energy and enthusiasm that was once bottled up inside an office suit. Her joy is infectious.

I finally landed the job I wanted.

Programming for the Fantastic Film Festival (24 -30 June 2005 -- don't forget it folks!) seems to be doing well. That's just the beginning, but it bodes well.

I'm discovering new music, films and books every week. I still cannot wring the words to write adequately about them, but the thrill of discovery is its own reward for now.

And best of all -- I believe the one I like, likes me too.

It's been a while since I felt this happy. Of course I wonder what will happen next, but I figure there will be time later to mope or laugh. For now just let me soak, soak in the sheer potential of it all.
Here's an article from The New York Times (which, unlike a certain Southeast Asian newspaper, offers their well-written articles for free) about how Woody Allen's new films are unfairly compared to the ones that made him an icon.

While it's hard to deny that Mr. Allen's output has been uneven of late, his failures and near-misses seem to provoke a disproportionate - even a neurotic - reaction precisely among those most disposed to admiration. What if we - and by "we" I mean the legions (or at least dozens) of young (or at least gracefully middle-aged) intellectuals (or at least newspaper readers) with battered used-bookstore copies of "Getting Even" and "Without Feathers" at their bedside and long passages of dialogue from "Sleeper" and "Love and Death" in their heads - go to the new Woody Allen movie because we want to feel let down, abandoned, betrayed? We are all aware that the man has problems of his own, but what if the dissatisfaction we feel with his work is, at bottom, our problem?

-- from Why We Won't Let Woody Allen Grow Up

Speaking of which, I finally managed to watch Annie Hall last Friday. Liked it a lot.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Have some New Order! Krafty music video.

The Straits Times will soon charge for access to their online edition. Wonder whose bright idea that was. Anyway, have removed all the links that led there.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

And the weather forecast for today: scorching sunshine as usual, with clips from Daft Punk's new album Human After All and a chance of young-at-heart senior citizens in Basement Jaxx's Oh My Gosh.

Friday, March 04, 2005