Dec 18 2014

Apple-ized

Adel Gabot

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I was walking out of the house yesterday when I realized how much of an Apple fanboy I’ve become.

I was carrying my 3rd generation iPad, clipped to my shirt was a 6th generation iPod nano, and had an iPhone 5s in my pocket. In the house, I had left behind my decked-out 27″ iMac with its trackpad, mouse and keyboard. I also have an iPad shuffle, and I had a Macbook Air, but gave it to my brother when I realized I really had no use for it, but now with the Manila Standard job, I think I might need one again and am thinking of getting a new one. Maybe a Macbook Pro this time. A 15″ one. I’m also thinking of upgrading my phone to an iPhone 6 Plus, my iPad 3 to an iPad Air 2 and pretty soon I think I might have an Apple Watch strapped to my wrist.

In the past, I’ve had a whole bunch of previous iterations of the Apple computer, beginning with the Apple II Plus in college, all the way to the original Mac, MacBooks, Mac Pros, and all manner of Apple accessories. I’ve also had an Apple Quicktake, an Apple Newton Messenger, and was president of the local Apple User’s group, PhilMUG, for several years. Am still a moderator there, and I’m still pretty active.

My whole life revolves around my Apple products, in particular my Mac. It’s on the whole day and night, and it’s the first thing I check on in the morning, checking my email, my Twitter feed, checking and updating my sites and doing my writing on it, and everything else I can think of.

And I’m pretty happy being enmeshed in my Apple world. To hell with Windows and PCs. Gimme a Mac any day.

Apple forever!


Dec 15 2014

Soundbar

Adel Gabot

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Bought myself my Christmas gift today.

I got s soundbar and subwoofer package from my favorite thrift-tech store, CDR King. It was relatively expensive (for them—but still very inexpensive if you look at the big picture), and I struggled to take it home, but it’s installed in my room now, and everything’s all right with the world.

I’d been eyeing this for a while now, and it’s gotten so that there was just one unit left—and it was the one on display. Serves me right for waiting so long.

Then again, I didn’t really see the virtues of getting a new sound system for my TV. But my TV’s sound has degenerated to a point where I can only raise the volume just a little bit before it’s garbled and hums and buzzes unbearably. I had to replace it sometime. I figured, it being the holidays, I deserved a treat.

Being a display unit, I asked for a discount, and they surprisingly gave it to me for a good price!

It’s basically speakers built into a long wooden console, with a separate, big bass subwoofer unit. There’s a simple LED readout in the middle of the bar. I’ll tell you, it’s pretty loud, and it looks like I’ll just use the low end of the soundbar’s capacity, given that I have a humble, small room. But better to buy more than what I need, just in case. It has several inputs, including microSD and USB ports for your digital music, and a built-in FM radio. It also comes with a remote control (great, another one to worry about).

I installed it on the wall on top of my old TV with two simple screws, put the subwoofer on the floor near it, and there you have go. Instant head-banging audio system,

Unfortunately, it also shows the shortcomings of the TV’s cable audio signal, and it sounds fairly terrible still. But it’s loud, and it doesn’t buzz or get garbled. The soundbar works great on FM radio and the microSD and USB inputs, though. I sometimes think I bought a lemon when listening to the audio fed through the TV, but I realize that’s the cable provider’s fault; when listening to other sources, it sounds perfect.

I’m happy.


Dec 13 2014

Driveclub is pure gaming pleasure

Adel Gabot

I can’t get how wonderful a game Driveclub has turned out to be. It’s catching up with all the hype. Not quite there yet, but it’s making great progress.

Been playing it since I got it yesterday (well, whenever I can steal the time), and now I’m currently at Level 12. The club I formed, The Burrowers, now has three other members other than myself, and is at Level 3. Granted, I don’t if the other members of my new club have been playing, but it’s just been a few hours since its formation.

I’m amazed at how nice the progression is in Driveclub, and why it doesn’t feel forced. The game presents events within your level in convenient batches within batches, and it’s really a pleasure to go through them.

I’ve tried several other driving games on my PS4, like Need For Speed: Rivals and The Crew, and neither of them can match up to Driveclub in terms of graphics and gameplay. Knowing its unfortunate history since it was released, the game has now improved to the point where it is where it should have been when it first came out.

What I can’t get over is how realistic it all feels (more than the other games, anyway), and how much care for detail the developers had.

I had a game where I unfortunately spun out, and as I made my way around and back to that point in the track where I spun out, I discovered the rubber donuts I made, in that distinct and singular pattern of skidding that I made.

And it’s so finely detailed, you can actually see the fireworks that shoot up sometimes near the tracks reflected on the dashboard of the cars you’re driving. In Photo Mode, you can pause the game in mid-face and zoom in and marvel at the water patterns created by the rain on the surface of the car.

When I was a kid, I played one of those Night Driver games at the arcade that was basically moving squares of light against a black screen. Driveclub, with forty years of technological advancement, takes night driving to the extreme, and one of the best things about it is setting the time of the race during the evening and racing with your headlights on. Man!

It’s still got a few kinks—the servers can’t keep up, and it usually bumps me off. But it’s much better now than when it first came out.

I know a lot of video gamers might find this game repetitive and boring, preferring instead the complexity of their new RPGs or PFSes, but me, I’m pretty happy with it. I’ll be playing this game for a while.

Driveclub deserves a spot on my Instant Classic shelf.


Dec 12 2014

Driveclub, finally

Adel Gabot

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I finally got over my fear of buying a dud game, and took the plunge and bought Driveclub (for a big discount too).

Been wanting to get it because of all the hype, but was disappointed when it came out stillborn. Was waiting to try out the free version for PS Plus members, but we all know what happened to that.

Sure, it’s gotten plenty of knocks for coming out of the gate half-baked, but after weeks of tweaking, revising and repairing by the developer, it’s finally come of age, and finally robust and stable enough for me to take a risk on it. I’m a real sucker for driving games.

Driveclub is now the game it should have been when it was launched weeks ago.

The graphics are tremendous. Before I got it, I was looking at websites praising the game (after weeks of bashing it) for its new weather effects, and the wonder that is night driving in the game.

I’m still new at it, but man, this game is great.


Dec 9 2014

San Francisco

Adel Gabot

On a very rainy day like this, when you really have nothing much to do that I found something that was, at face value, just a little tweak, an adjustment to my computer system, but something that was so inherently fundamental as to change my whole experience.

I came across a site this morning that urged me to change the default system font of my Yosemite system to the new Apple-made San Francisco typeface. The site said I wouldn’t regret it.

So I tried it out.

The site directed me to a page that gave instructions, with a manual step-by-step that began with downloading the font package off their site.

Unzipping the package, I found the font files, and some other stuff that included an install package. The instructions were a little involved and complicated, and had some Terminal mumbo-jumbo that I had to do, but the Install package seemed an intriguing option. So I clicked on it first, and it launched.

And lo and behold, it did everything the manual instructions told me to do all automatically, without any intervention on my part! It took a while, because it included a System Permissions verification and fix, but when it was over, all I had to do was restart the computer.

When I did, it opened up the computer to a whole new level.

The typeface was fantastic. It changed my whole computer experience.

I’d show you in screenshots, but it was really subtle and very subdued, and you wouldn’t even notice something had changed at first glance.

But it changed my system’s whole look and feel.

You’d see it in the text underneath the icons on the desktop, in the menu bars, on application windows, on long text fields. It brought a leaner, clearer, more professional look to the system. More business-like, yet still playful.

I’m a big fan of Helvetica, particularly Helvetica Neue, the previous system font, but it was getting long in the tooth, and was looking for an improvement. It was great of Apple to make it the default system font for their new version of the operating system, but we didn’t know we were all screaming deep down for a change.  San Francisco seemed to be it.

It was originally designed for the forthcoming Apple Watch, a cleaner, clearer font that was made for a small system, but looked even better in a bigger format. I honestly didn’t know why Apple didn’t put it in Yosemite in the first place.

It feels like I’m working on a whole new computer system. Well, not really a whole new one. Like I said, the change is really very very subtle, but big enough for me.

I like my new system font.

 


Dec 7 2014

Uncharted 4!

Adel Gabot

My God.

I just watched 15 minutes of gameplay of Uncharted 4 from the ongoing Playstation Experience in Las Vegas, and I am blown away. It’s like watching a 15-min long cutscene, but a cutscene that you can actually play.

Man.

uncharted4sml

 


Nov 28 2014

Playing pretend

Adel Gabot

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Following my Seagate Central movie drive disaster this week, I’ve slowly been collecting a choice few of my favorite movies again, and watching a few of them as I do it.

I’ve always loved Dawn of The Dead since it premiered in 1978 (which I caught in a theater—I was in 3rd year High School then, and Cubao was in its heyday, and I saw it in Diamond Theater, I think; the remake is good too, but too slick for my taste). In my past viewings, I’ve always noticed a guy near the beginning of the film which suspiciously looked like the film’s director, George R. Romero.

I’ve always wondered if it was really him, and decided to find out. In my endless prowling of the net, I haven’t come any mention of the fact. So I did the easiest thing—I finally Googled it this afternoon.

I typed in “George Romero cameo in Dawn of The Dead”, and got an immediate response. It was him!

That’s Romero up left in the picture above, a movie director playing, uh, a TV director.

Shades of Hitchcock!


Nov 27 2014

Ah well…

Adel Gabot

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All right.

Time to come clean and admit it, and maybe finally accept it.

Two days ago, my 4TB Seagate Central drive crashed, and with it, lost over two thousand of my meticulously downloaded movies.

It just stopped working. It disappeared from my desktop, and found that it refused to turn on. I tried everything—replaced the power supply, let it rest for a few hours before plugging it back in, everything!

But nothing worked.

I’ve been despondent since.

Nearly two years of collecting them, all gone.

All the Star Wars and Star Trek movies. All those exquisite horror classics, and those Oscar winning films. All the little films with little quirks that I liked. Documentaries, musicals, concerts, standup acts. All those Anime.

Dammit.

I figure it served me right for keeping all my eggs in one basket, and not even reproducing them in another medium, maybe DVDs, or another drive. But how do you easily backup almost 3TB of data? It would have been punishing, and economically unfeasible.

It was a good thing I transferred my TV shows to another drive several months ago, otherwise I would have lost those too.

I copied the titles over to my system (Plex hadn’t updated yet, so they were still there) by screen capping the catalog pages (over 35 full-page photos), so I remember and don’t forget what I once had.

On the plus side, I took a long hard look at the titles, and selected movies I couldn’t live without in order to download them again, and found that they numbered a little over a couple of dozen. Thirty of the very best. At least MY very best.

It’s funny to think that, when the chips are down, you CAN narrow the titles down to just a select few.

I’m downloading them as we speak, in batches of ten.

Someday, I’ll have them all again.

But for now, these’ll have to do.

Sigh.


Nov 24 2014

Defiance indeed

Adel Gabot

Goddamn it. I’ve been downloading this game for days, and it’s still not friggin finished.

First, it downloaded the main game, and I thought, Defiance, now free-to-play on the Xbox 360, nice. But it took two whole days to download.

For something barely 6GB big, that’s really something. It normally would take maybe a couple of hours at most. But the servers must be really bogged down, or maybe they only had the one server to service the entire planet.

So it’s finished, so I decided to play it… and then came across another downloading screen.

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It’s been like that for four days.

Patch after patch after patch. Dammit, how many patches are there?

I’m starting to think, is it worth it? They made it free, after all, and I know I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

But it’s become an obsession. A long, trying, long-winded obsession.

It may be a horrible game, or the best thing since sliced bread. But I gotta find out. I have to.

So dammit, bring it on!


Nov 16 2014

Call of Resale

Adel Gabot

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Finished the single-player campaign of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare the other day, and as usual, I was surprised that it ended so soon.

I have a hard time finishing most games, but all of the Call of Duty games have been relatively easy, and relatively fast to complete. You wouldn’t have known it from the hype they gave the game. I went, that’s it? I could have gone on for several more missions still.

Yet, there I was, hanging half-off a balcony of the Atlas HQ, with evil mogul Kevin Spacey dangling from the prosthetic arm he gave me years ago, and me slicing my arm off with a knife so Spacey would fall to his fiery death, saying, “You gave me a second chance. I am giving it back.”

And just like that, the game was over.

Dang.

I tried playing multiplayer, but it really wasn’t for me.

During the week, in the middle of my playing the game, I got a message from a friend of mine from PhilMUG, and he had heard that I bought COD:AW from another PhilMUGger, and would I consider selling it to him when I was through with it? I said sure, but not realizing that I was on the brink of actually finishing it.

So I texted him last night and told him it was his if he still wanted it. I’m meeting up with him next weekend.

So what’s next? Far Cry 4, which is coming out on Tuesday? (I just saw a way to finish it in less than 15 minutes, and it sort of soured it for me.) Dragon Age: Inquisition? (Don’t normally go for RPGs, but the reviews are phenomenal and I’m willing to take the risk.) Grand Theft Auto V (which has a new first person POV which makes me reconsider my long-running aversion to GTA games)? Forget about the new Assassin’s Creed Unity game, I hate that junk. Or should I save my money and wait for a game I really like next year? Maybe The Order: 1886? Or Uncharted 4?

Gotta think about this hard.