So, my back has been getting slowly better over the last month since my hospitalisation experience; I occasionally have a small relapse, like just after I picked up my new guitar - you wouldn’t think that shifting a small practice amp would be a big deal, but I certainly felt it for the next few days - but overall steady improvement. Part of my rehab is to take more regular gentle exercise, and to mix up my routine a bit so I’m not hunched at the desk in ‘work posture’ for such long periods of time, which means, among other things, daily walks of a few miles, daily guitar practice and plenty more gaming time (hence more game-related posts on this blog).

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This has bugged me on and off for a while - very, very occasionally I’d be working away in Visual Studio and suddenly my @ symbols would start coming out as double-quotes, a symptom of the condition known as ‘crazy Yankee keyboard syndrome’. I hadn’t figured out what triggered this, especially as all other applications were unaffected, and it happened little enough, and when I was busy enough, that I didn’t take time to find the cause and just lived with it until I restarted VS.

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I just happened to see some PSN DLC track prices for both Rock Band and GHWT on a Kotaku article, and they left me rather puzzled. You would have thought that these prices would be fairly homogenised by now, but bizarrely enough I found no fewer than 3 different prices, depending on what system and game you were looking at. Here we go: “Police Truck” by the Dead Kennedys (Rock Band)

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Short answer: I really like the new dash for the 360. The old ‘blades’ system was efficient (excluding Marketplace, which got hugely unwieldy due to the amount of content) but about as attractive as the back-end of a donkey, and pretty confusing for a newcomer. The new, clearly coverflow-inspired aproach is infinitely more attractive and welcoming. Navigation is in essence the same as the XMB on the PS3, only transposed - i.

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I’ve said for a while that I don’t think individual game review scores are particularly useful, on account of the fact that an individual’s taste varies. It’s always important to read the detail of a review rather than to take the score on face value, where (hopefully) a decent reviewer will explain the reasoning behind the aspects he/she did and did not like, so you can judge how much they apply to you.

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My new guitar arrived this weekend 😀 It’s a Pacifica 112V, and I picked the Old Violin Sunburst finish. I’m really impressed by the quality of it, considering this is a beginner / intermediate guitar and will leave you with change out of £200. Everything feels really solid, and there are nice little touches like the polished fretboard and the chunky, satisfying chrome tone & volume knobs. Even the guy in our local guitar shop (who has a ton more experience than I do, obviously, and is a high-end Strat user) commented on how impressed he was with the quality, since this was the first of the newer model they’d had in.

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I finally got chance to play Left 4 Dead co-op with my wife rather than single player with all AI teammates, and it’s an entirely different experience. I’d heard this of course, but even so I found it surprising just how much difference it makes. Having a real person yelling for help as they get jumped by a hunter after hanging back behind the others, running scared from a marauding tank together, or frantically trying to help a team-mate up so you can get back up into a defensive choke point before the wall of dead flesh that’s charging down the abandoned subway track crashes over you, it’s simply enormous fun.

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I read today that it’s estimated 90% of people playing the full PC version of World Of Goo have a pirated copy (note: the authors 2Dboy chose not to include any copy protection). Edit: For those being pedantic about this figure, here’s how it was estimated; but arguing the exact number is chronically missing the point. You see, this is why PC gamers can’t have nice things anymore. It’s why desperate publishers reach for horrible, broken DRM measures to try to stamp out piracy, universally failing of course and often upsetting the small minority of paying customers they have left into the bargain.

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Serious games are big these days. Whether it’s training firefighters, soldiers, plant operators or surgeons, the benefits of a simulated environment in which people can hone their real-world skills is widely recognised. Now, with the impending release of Left 4 Dead, we have the necessary training environment to prepare ourselves for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. You’ll be thanking those foresighted chaps at Valve in due time, mark my words. I just picked up the demo today - on PC, because if there’s one thing that’s going to increase the likelihood of the recently dead opening your skull and spreading your grey matter on water biscuits, it’s being limited to a fixed turning speed.

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This is kind of interesting, because I’ve certainly noticed the noise that Fable 2’s data streaming causes: I only have a regular old-skool 20GB HDD in my 360, but I seem to constantly have around 12GB free anyway so I’d be willing to burn 6.8GB on this kind of noise reduction.

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