Of Questionable Merit

Ok, let’s be clear - Rez HD coming to the 360 on XBLA is a good thing, I’m sure I’ll end up adding it to my growing XBLA collection - Pac Man Championship Edition is one of my favourite I’ve-got-15-minutes-spare games of all time, and Marie can’t seem to ever stop playing Zuma. If we’re really, really lucky, it might be the free game Microsoft will toss our way in recompense for the shaky Live service recently (which has gotten better, but it’s still pretty sluggish at peak times here), although that’s probably military-grade wishful thinking on my part.

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Suddenly I’m even more glad I chose a 360 for my current HD console purchase - I just watched the latest Little Big Planet demo from CES 2008, where it looks cute and interesting as ever (even if they didn’t have time / inclination to show anything we haven’t seen before really), but the guy doing the presentation was talking about a public beta in late Summer, with an intention of a ‘Fall’ release (2008).

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Home Media Server

I had an ‘incident’ over the weekend (which I won’t go into, suffice to say that it was somewhat down to my own carelessness) which resulted in me needing to restore a bunch of files from backup for my local Linux server - luckily I back up my server every day on a typical full/incremental backup cycle so all I lost was a few hours worth of spam (I’m 99% sure I haven’t lost any genuine correspondence, but if you think I’ve missed you, let me know).

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Mass Effect Review

A couple of people expressed an interest in what my opinion of Mass Effect would end up being, as a previous KOTOR fan, so now that I’ve had it for a while, and am about 10 hours into the game (according to my last save), I felt I had enough information to deliver on this request. For the time-poor among you who are tired of my wordy postings, here’s the skinny version:

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Posted on Major Nelson: Dear Xbox LIVE Members:     During this past holiday season you helped us break a number of Xbox LIVE records.  This included our largest sign-up of new members to Xbox LIVE in our 5 year history and just yesterday you broke the record for the single biggest day of concurrent members ever on the service. As a result of this massive increase in usage we know that some of you experienced intermittent Xbox LIVE issues over the holiday break.

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I heard today that, unbeknownst to people downloading it, Office 2003 SP3 drops support for loading a number of older Office formats, including Word 6.0 and Word 97. Now, it’s fair to say that these formats are as old as the hills, but here’s the thing - businesses will have lots of archived documents that they probably haven’t converted to newer formats that they don’t want to lose access to. To just drop support for opening this archived material is ridiculous and is understandably ruffling a few feathers.

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You might remember the problem that my wife had with a corrupted gamertag thanks to problems with the Live registration & recovery service just before Xmas, but that hasn’t been the end of our problems with the service. Since a few days after xmas, we’ve found that in the evenings logging onto Live takes an absolute age, sometimes long enough that we just give up. The story - apparantly too many people bought or received 360’s over Xmas and the Live servers are getting swamped at peak times, or so the ever reliable Internet tells me here, and here.

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So, 2007 is going the way of Donny Osmond’s career at midnight, and I feel I should say something at its passing. It’s been an eventful year but still it feels like it’s flown past - it’s the first full year that I’ve been my own boss, and I’ve learned a lot from it, in both the positive and negative poles - but mostly positive, luckily. I’ve had customers in 6 countries, and they’ve ranged from small start-ups right up to multinational corporations.

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Ok, rant time. I’m a multiplatform gamer, and my PC is still a key platform for me. Every time a new console comes out people predict the death of the PC as a gaming platform, but it never happens - sure, the traditional retail model continues to favour the consoles, on account of them having the marketing muscle of the console manufacturers behind them, plus the ‘idiot proof’ nature of the devices means that there are less issues with support (although the advent of patching on consoles does appear to be engendering more of a ‘release it and patch it later’ attitude in some quarters that we used to only see on PC).

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Near the end of 2006 I was bitching that games were getting dull, repetitive, and far too obsessed with how best to graphically represent war, big guns, fast cars and loose women (preferably all at once). It was the very worst of Hollywood banality regurgitated  - only the Wii seemed to be flying in the face of it, and even it failed to deliver a lasting riposte to the trend, suffering from the all-too-familiar condition of only Nintendo being able to make good games for their own console.

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