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Archive for March, 2008

Car = Mine

Posted by captainbeaky on March 29, 2008

mazda.jpgYay! I own a new car. And this one, I will actually get to drive! Yes, I went to the Mazda garage today and bought an MX5. For those that arent aware, it a little 2 seater convertible mini-sports car type thing, as you can see in teh photo. Pretty tasty eh? Unfortunately I had to do the whole “how much can you do it for…no thats not enough….meet you halfway” haggling bullshit, but it was worth it. On the road price was knocking on $39k, but I managed to get the car for….well…I dont want to really be posting money stuff on a public blog, but lets say it was significantly cheaper than the advertised price. My old man would have been proud of my sheer bloody mindedness and refusal to accept the salesmans pleas of “well, I cant really go lower than that” talk. He DID go lower than that, and I got a bargain – jobs a good ‘un. Next step is an RACV check, which is just like an MOT, to see if its all in order. If that goes through with no hitches, then I will go back to the garage next Saturday and pick it up! Marvellous, eh? Kind of a late birthday present….to myself! Im so excited it makes me ill just thinking about it. I can drive, Ive got a damn nice car, and got a great deal on it. Ace!

 

While we were over the car dealership neck-of-the-woods, we popped into the Fiat garage to see about Becca’s new 500. Top and bottom of it is, that if she were to order one especially for her requirements now, it would be well into September before she would get it, so it looks like the best bet would be to reserve on the the 500’s already being delivered to the showroom in the next month or so, and just go with that. Comes with a few bells and whistles that she didnt really want, but for the sake of an extra $500, its worth getting one now and doing away with the bus and train combo she has to put up with to get to work now. 

 

Not really done much else. Weather is still rainy and the temperature is still about 17 degrees….so we’ve bought a little fan heater. Wimps eh? When I think of all the single figure temperatures we put up with in the UK, and now were in sweaters as soon as the sun goes in, Im pretty disgusted! But everyone else is the same so we’re not weird or anything.

 

No great plans for tomorrow, apart from maybe going to Target to buy some more Wintery clothes, and going to look at a nice house on the seafront (the one we thought was viewing last week). Other than that, we’ll probably be resting up and I for one will be playing a ton more of Battlefield Beta. And I’ll be thinking of where we can go for a drive in my new car! Ive put a few more pictures up on Facebook, and Im going to give Photoshop Express a go instead of my webspace for now. So for those without Facebook, or for those that just want a nose, go here instead. If there are any problems, or it doesnt work for you, let me know and I’ll do what I can to get it fixed. 

Posted in Cars, weather | Leave a Comment »

Battlefield Bad Company

Posted by captainbeaky on March 28, 2008

battlefield-bad-company-2.jpgSorry, but this post is mostly as the title says. Its all Ive been playing for 2 days now. I have probably put more hours into this beta than COD 4 and Halo 3 combined….and I have the full games of those! this is just a fantastic game – Im not sure if its just me, loving the Battlefield series as I do, but it just feels more of a team game than COD 4. Less snapshot kills, in the way that whoever see’s who first in COD is generally the winner. Its slower, more methodical, and you get rewarded well if you move in groups. A medic to heal, a support guy to drop ammo, a special ops guy to “paint” heavy targets, anda  recon guy to call in an airstrike. When it works, and people decide not to rambo it, but team up, its a joy to play. Got 2 knifey knifey kills too, with the nice touch being when you knife somebody, you collect their dogtags, which can be viewed like a trophy room in the awards section. Has some really good stats tracking and medals behind the scenes too, which sounds kind of corny, but it acts like achievements – you end up REALLY trying to get specific medals and rewards. 

 

Granted it doest look as slick as COD, but you can blow up buildings with your grenades in COD. Most other FPS’s are good, but once you try and play them after BFBC (as it shall henceforth be known) they seem static and rubbish. Like playing Half Life 2, then going to play, I dunno, something where everything is glued to the floor and you cant interact with the environment at all. It ends up feeling like half an experience. I had a great moment today, when I was trying to shoot a guy hiding in a building today, failing, so I dropped off my sniping point, bought out my nade launcher, fired a couple in the enemy buildings general direction, then ran towards his position with the nades still in the air. As I ran against the wall of the building he was hiding in, the nades hit and his corpse flew out of the building onto he floor in front of me, still with ragdoll limbs flailing. Cant wait to unlock some new weaponry and equipment. ANd I cant wait until June, when it should come out. 

 

Other things Ive been up to today……messing around with the recently released Photoshop Express, which is an entirely online photo album and editing package. I am mightily impressed with it, as it read Facebook albums, is quick at uploading your own and for a Flash program is quite adept and basic photo manipulation. Is all I will ever need anyway. If you use any image editing software, or subscribe to one of these online photo hosting sites, I would certainly give PSE a try. At the moment its in Beta (like most good things right now!) and is totally free, so what have you got to loose!

 

Plans for tomorrow – go over to Brighton to have a butchers at this car Im after. Scary as I am going to have to haggle, and take it out for a test drive, which is scary as it will be the first time Ive been out in a car without somebody shouting instructions at me. And I dont know the area! Shoudl be…….interesting. If I can get him down to the right price, I may even put a deposit down on it, until my money comes through from the UK. Is all very exciting, and scary at the same time.

 

Weather was still cold (18 degrees cold anyway) and Im sitting here with my fleece on and the aircon on “Heat” mode! We’ve turned intolerant of anything below 20 degrees since being here….wimps! Oh well, I see its about 10 degrees in Birmingham so we’re still warmer than the UK – god knows how I would be coming if we were still in Kings Heath!

Posted in Cars, Games, weather | 2 Comments »

Short and Sweet….Not at all like me then!

Posted by captainbeaky on March 27, 2008

15586_normal.jpgJust a short, brief post to let you know what Ive been up to, but not in much detail. Its 11.37pm, which means its precisely 17 minutes past my bedtime. But a promise is a promise and I said I wouldnt leave it more than a couple of days in between posts, so here I am.

 Been to see 2 comedians tonight – Reginald D Hunter, and Kristen Schaal, both of them excellent, and both with totally different styles of comedy. Hunter was a straight talking, very funny American dude with traditional observational comedy, whilst Schaal did a kind of geeky, nerd like performance and the humour was very odd. Definitely an acquired taste, and definitely to OUR taste!

Before that, I downloaded and was playing the hell out of the Battlefield Bad Company beta for Xbox 360. Damn….what a fantastic beta – its invites only, multiplayer only but it gives a really good impression of what the final product will be like. Best thing about the game……you actually can blow up, pretty much anything. No cover (bar the fortress on the 2nd map) is impenetrable. Pesky sniper in the barn? Blow a hole in the side wall or roof! Enemies the other side of a very large, very long wall? Punch a hole in it and stroll through. It adds SO much to a very crowded, tired genre. Plus the fact its classic Battlefield at its best. Helo’s, tanks, jeeps, boats…. Its also stolen some of the niceties from COD 4 such as the whole ranking and unlock system. Increases in score/rank allow you access to new weapons and equipment. I’ll post more details after I have a proper sit down with it tomorrow.

Oh, I bought a sat nav before going to the town hall tonight too – TomTom XL – got a good deal on it. Planing on going to see the car Im after this Saturday and dont want to get lost. Been getting tips at work, on how to handle the guys at car dealerships too, in order to get myself the best possible price. I dont particularly like or relish the thought of haggling, so its going to require a lot of effort on my behalf. Still….if its gets me a few $1k off the price, it will be worth the discomfort.

Not much else to say…in detail anyway. Except the worm has finally turned here and the weather is pants. Raining all day, and despite it being 18 degrees, it feels like its -10 – bloody freezing. You really do become accustomed to the heat. We’re both sitting here in thick jumpers and drinking lots of tea. Have to keep reminding ourselves that at least its not UK cold…….yet! I’ll do a more in depth post either tomorrow or on Saturday. Ciao for now, you big fat cow!

Posted in Cars, comedy, Gadgets, Games, weather | Leave a Comment »

I PASSED!!!!!!!!

Posted by captainbeaky on March 25, 2008

ripped-l-plates.jpgSo have you guessed what this post is about yet? As you may have gleaned, I did indeed pass my driving test. WOOOO HOOOOOOO! Was a bag of nerves all day, but the moment I got in the car, I became strangely calm. Drove for half of the journey to the test centre, as I didn’t want to be exhausted by the time I got there. Had a really nice female driving examiner, and started off great. I know I messed up on rushing a lane change, and I stopped at a light when it was on green, but it was  weird road layout thing that confused me. Did a 3 point turn no problem then drove back. Like I say, I knew I stuffed the lane change and the lights up, and my instructor, who was next to me during the test, said I would loose marks for taking my hands off the wheel while we were stopped at the lights ( they were icy cold from the air con!), so I went back into the test centre thinking I had already failed, so imagine my surprise when she handed me my test results and told me I had passed! Bearing in mind, youre marked out of 100 and are allowed to fail on 15 areas only. I was marked down 1 on lane change, 2 on road position (?) and 1 on leaving a safe gap, so I still managed to get myself in the top 90+ marks bracket – awesome!!! I am so pleased and relieved! Yet another thing crossed off my list of major accomplishments.

  • Get a job
  • Becca get a job
  • Learn to drive
  • Buy a house

3 down, 1 to go! Not done much else today, so am going for some tea and cakes in St Kilda, and hear about Becc’a first day at work, then back here for curry and beer! Weathers taken a turn for the worse here as its dropped to 23 degrees and last night was thunderstorms. Rain forecast on and off for the rest of the week too, but I cant complain. We NEED rain at the moment. Anyhow, Im off to do more driving, but on Burnout Paradise. The perfect way to get it out of my system – time to drive on the wrong side of the road, on the pavement and bash into other road users! I’ll just have to remember NOT to do that when Im on the actual road now! T’raaa-a-bit!

Posted in driving, weather | Leave a Comment »

Where the Grass is Green and the Girls are Pretty…..

Posted by captainbeaky on March 23, 2008

burnpar.jpgHowdy. Firstly, apologies for the no post over the past few days. Thursday I was tired from badminton, Friday I was lazy and Saturday…well……we’ll come to that. Either way, I should have posted soemthing, but its beginning to dawn on me that I may not post everyday from now on. On a routine day, not a fat lot happens other than I go to work, and come home, which doesnt really make for good reading. As a consequence, If I dont post on a set day, I’ll post on the next one from now on. I dont want to let the blog slide, but I dont want to bore everyone (even more!) with talk of nothing. Anyway, I digress.

 So Thursday we played badminton, and I lost every game, mainly because of the lack of sleep the night before. My heart wasnt really in it so I hope for better results next week. Friday….I went to work despite it being a public holiday but got a shitload done so it was well worth it. The overtime loading will be nice in next weeks paycheck too!

On Saturday we went to Chadstone shopping centre and came back with quite a lot of new stuff. Becca got a couple of tops and some girls stuff, while I came away with a portable mouse for my notebook (more later), an ipod speaker dock, a new ninja fast, ninja quiet kettle (sounds stupid but you could hardly hear yourself talk over our last kettle!) and I traded in 3 games (Rainbow 6, Conan and Command & Conquer) to get……..

……Burnout Paradise…..and while I was sceptical at the time, seeing that I was trading in so many quality games for “just another Burnout Game”, after several hours of play I feel totally justified in my choice. Burnout Paradise is one of THE best arcade style racing games Ive ever played. The sense of speed is incredible and when you crash it really does make you wince. There is great feeling of the kinetics of the world in the sense that you really do feel like you have a tangible physical prescence within the city. The new open world format, while annoying to some is pleasing to me. The fact that you cant just retry a race if youve just failed doesnt bother me as it was the same in Test Drive Unlimited. It feels like there is a huge amount of things to do, as well as the “main missions” within the game, there are a multitude of other sidelines to keep you busy. Each stretch of road has its own time trial and crash mode target to beat. You can find all of the car parks, ramps, jumps, and billboards to smash through all over the map. There really is a lot to get on with and Im only just scratching the surface with what I tell you here. Its also pretty tasty using the wheel instead of a controller too – I feel a lot more in touch with the car than I ever did with the pad. In short, if you like racing games of any variety , you owe it to yourself to check out Burnout. 

The only reason I got the mouse was to help me with Adobe Illustrator. Ive taken to having a play around with it on the strenght of a DIY t-shirt website. Ive not seen any purchase-worthy T shirts around for a few months and its been annoying me that all tee’s seem to be either flouro related, or crappy vintage prints, none of which I go for. So the website in question allows you to make your own tee, with your own designs, as long as you send them a decent image to put on it. And since you need a decent dpi jpeg file for it to appear unpixellated, a vector image is prefered. Now I wont go into the pro’s and cons of vector and raster images but Ive never produced any before, and today Ive had quite a bit of fun with Illustrator and got some pretty decent results. It was just impossible to get a decent amount of control with a trackpad, so this mouse was essential. I wont show you anything Ive done yet as it still work in progress, but I’ll let you know how it pans out. For all I know, that site may just print your picture onto a rubbish iron on transfer!

Today we’ve done nowt (well, ive played my game and messed around with Illustrator) and we’ve gone for a walk around as its been a nice 27 degrees kinda day. We went to a new ice cream place thats opened up on Fitzroy St and got some very ….different…ice creams. Its gimmick is to let you pick your ice cream of which there are all sorts of fancy flavours (peanut butter, ferrero roche, strawberry trifle, etc…) then you pick some bits and pieces to smush into your ice cream (smarties, gummi bears, bounty bars, M & M’s, etc…). I had a cone and it was fupping huge! I plummed for white chocolate ice cream, and had a snickers bar, and some peanut M & M’s mashed into it – bloody lovely. You leave with all kinds of crazy combinations and flavours popping around your mind and I cant wait to go back. In the evening we went to see Stephen K Amos as being part of the comedy festival – a very funny guy. We have a lot more tickets booked, but I cant remember all of their names for now, but I’ll post about them just before we see them. We also bought tickets today to see Architecture in Helsinki and CSS at a local venue in St Kilda – should be good!

 Right, thats more than enough typing/reading for 1 day. I’ll post next when something exciting happens. May not be tomorrow but I will DEFINITELY post on Tuesday, to let you know how my driving test went.  

Posted in Clothes, comedy, Food, Gadgets, Games | Leave a Comment »

Funny and Sleepy

Posted by captainbeaky on March 20, 2008

0880-sid-james-laughingsid-james-laughing-posters.jpgJust a short post to let you know I am still alive and to give you a brief rundown of whats been happening. Yesterday, we went to the Melbounre International Comedey Festival Gala show at the Vodafone Arena in town, and had a really good night. Some brilliant comedians, but also some piss poor ones too. Nearly all of the female comediens just wanted to talk about pap smears, or periods, or the menopause, instantly alienating half of the audience. One guy even came out and did the whole ” have you noticed how white guys do this………and black guys do this” routine! Straight out of the Simpsons (white men drive like this doot, doot-de-doo…!) However the majority were funny and we’re buying tickets for their individual shows. On the walk back to the tram stop, it was possum city – nearly every tree had one or 2 in the tree or sitting on the ground, staring at you. They didnt even move when you approached them and you could get within a metre before they bolted. Ive got a couple of pictures I need to upload that I’ll sort out for next post.

I would like to write more, but at the moment Im very tired. The late start/late finish of the Gala meant we didnt get back home until 12.45, so I only eded up getting 4.5 hours kip, AND Ive just come back from badminton, which I got hammered in (my heart wasnt really in it) and Im fit for bed now. I’ll get a bite to eat first then think about sleep. Im in work tomorrow (got a lot of stuff to do, and the money will be nice) and on Monday too, but Ive got Tuesday off for my test.

 So thats it…..Oh, before I forget….Mom, we got your birthday cards yesterday. I dont know when you sent them but theyre here now. We got one from Lyn too so thank you, and her very much! I’ll open them on the day in question! 

Posted in comedy, Work | Leave a Comment »

More evil than a pound of mashed up Dundee cake!

Posted by captainbeaky on March 18, 2008

toilet-llqq-001.jpg

No post yesterday as :-
  •  We didnt do anything spectacular
  •  We were both ill

We both ate a frozen quiche last night, that must have gone off or something, as later on the pair of us endured hideous stomach cramps, sweats then the inevitable bum gravy. Very unpleasant indeed. the stomach cramps kept me awake way past bedtime last night, so I rang in late so I could catch up on lost sleep. Neither of us have eaten all day, but we are both feeling better now. Last time I buy a quiche from Safeway!

In other news, Becca starts her job next week, after Easter. Im not sure if Im repeating what she’s said on her blog, but there is is anyway. What have I been up to…..er….. working, watching TV, and thinking that this time next week, I will either have a Full Victoria Driving License, or crying into my pint and booking another test ASAP.  

Played a bit more Frontlines, but the kill-a-thon is wearing a bit thin now. I reckon I pushed myself to get back in the FPS saddle too quickly. Nevermind, I’ll just press on with Metroid.  The 360 really isnt doing it for me at the moment. Ooooo….the moment I typed that I checked a gaming news site and found that Forza is getting more cars tomorrow, one of which will be the Maserati Gran Turismo – DEFINITELY be getting that.  Im also more surprised than anyone that last night I actually chose to read my book over TV and gaming!!!! I never thought Id see the day! On saying that, it IS an extremely good book though, and easily as addictive as a good game. Just one more chapter……..

So there you have it, pretty uneventful really. Better decide what we’re having for tea. Nothing too volatile thats for sure! Oh, and 10 points for recognising the post title reference (Andy’s not included ;o)

Posted in driving, Games, Health | 1 Comment »

My New Babies! Oh, and something about a Grand Prix-thing???

Posted by captainbeaky on March 16, 2008

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So, as you can see, Ive changed things around a bit. I was getting a bit bored of the old look, and it felt a bit “Windows-ey” so Ive gone with this theme. I think it looks more fresh, and clean, but post a comment if you think otherwise, or have problems with it. 

I’ll also have to apologise for the lack of posts over the past 2 days. On Friday (you may or may not be aware) we were celebrating Becca getting a job! Wooo hooo! Working at a lab over in Clayton (East Melbourne) doing science (though not with GLADOS – sorry nerd reference). She is starting next week I think, but will know more details soon. So, to toast this news, we went out to a fabulous restaurant, right on the sea front, and managed to get a seat on the balcony overlooking the setting sun – it was lovely. And Im not sorry to say that the food matched the view – it was bloody stunning, and I reckon we’ll be going there revisiting it extremely soon. Strawberry and apple crumble topped with macadamia nuts – yum!

Saturday was spent in and around St Kilda at house inspections. We visited some really nice places, and one, which was simply stunning. Right on Marine Parade (sea front) with huge rooms, walk in robes and a patio with doors from the front room AND the bedroom. However, it was a bit out our price range, but its not hurting anyone to have a nose around.Today was driving lesson (last one before my test!) and more house inspections. The one we went to today was a really nice unit, with a massive amount of storage a great bathroom and a really nice kitchen but wasnt really in a great area. Much further from the beach than Id like, but at least we know what else is around.  After that, I went down to the beach to catch the flypasts by several FA18’s fighter jets and a rather low flying Qantas 747 – was mighty impressive, but what the photos (on facebook and webspace, page “oz photos 4”) dont show is the noise, speed, and just how low these things were. Like I say, impressive. The Grand Prix itself has been pretty good from our pespective, although I dare say if I lived up in Albert park itself I probably wouldnt say the same. Lots of eurotrash hanging around, dressed in awful, ill fitting clothes and being brash and noisy. Despite us being about a mile from the circuit itself, the noise coming from there was pretty loud. We were both really surprised at just how much we could hear the cars bombing around. 

Finally, a quick game update. Metroid 3 is damn good, feeling atmospheric and tense. The control scheme takes some getting used to, but once you adapt to how unusual it is, it becomes second nature. Much more like using keyboard and mouse than a standard console controller. I just cant help wonder how much grander it would have felt if the Wii had a bit more grunt under the bonnet.  Some moments are just aching for more grandiose graphics and effects, but on the whole its a great game. More details to follow – Im only just off the 1st level. Frontlines again, is a good game. The presentation isnt anything spectacular but it has solid gameplay. The FPS aspect of it is never going to challenge COD4 or Halo 3, but there are a few aspects where it excels. The open ended levels are truly opened ended, with more than just 1 avenue of attack, and multiple choices on how to tackle the same objective. The other area that plays out well is the variety in the gameplay. You can run around on foot, get in a  tank, a helo, a plane, or just hide in a corner and control a plethora of RC tanks and helo’s to shoot, missile or just kamikaze the enemy.  Single player seems short, but I guess its just a warm up for the multiplayer, which I havent tried yet. I think I’ll get myself proficient with everything before taking it online. Oh, and Im still slugging through the rest of the levels in Mario Galaxy. I cant seem to put it down, despite having “finished” it. 

The week ahead is not shaping it too badly. Going to the Melbourne Comedy Festival Gala on Wednesday night, Becca should start her new job next week, and its Easter weekend coming up. I think I’ll be working it, but only if the company want to pay for taxi’s there and back – no buses up there on public holidays.  Then its driving test next week – gulp! Been 40 degrees today, and the forecast for tomorrow is 39 – damn its hot – first time I’ll ever be going to work in shorts! 

Posted in driving, Food, Games, House, Job, Sport, weather | Leave a Comment »

Haircuts, Trainers, Tests, Gig’s & Games

Posted by captainbeaky on March 13, 2008

maximo-wenn.jpgPhew – a been a lovely hot day, full of nice things. I’ll start last night.

Went out late (about 9-ish) to see Maximo Park at the Billboard, which turned out to be a club, but with a stage and stuff for bands. The venue was pretty good for bands, as it had several raised levels as you went further back from the stage so you had a good view of the band no matter where you were. The atmosphere was brilliant and the crowd loved the band and the music, which surprised me as I didnt imagine they would have a big following over here. They played out of their skin and got a great reception, with the only downside of the night being the price of the beers. $16 for 2 pure blondes! So thats about £3.50 each for a bog standard bottled beer! Oh, well I’ll know for next time. We got back around 12.30am so Im glad I had booked the following day off, as Otherwise it would have meant only 4.5 hours sleep.

As it turned out, I got close to 12 hours kip and didnt wake up until 11.30am!  So aquick shower then down the new hairdressers. Im always wary of going to a new place, as its always a worry that theyre going to butcher you, and Ive had some bad cuts from some terrible scissor merchant before. However, I was really impressed with this place. the girl who did it was talkative and seemed to love bringing me tea. I was really pleased with the “do” and will definitely be going back.

On a high from a good haircut, I went into the trainer shop near our road, and had a squizz at a new pair of Adidas they had in, which were REALLY nice……so I bought them! The guy in there was a bit of a trainer nerd like me, and also a fan of Adidas like me, so we had a good chat, and a moan about horrible flouro trainers!  I’ll make sure my new babies have pride of place on my next post – my camera battery is on charge right now. 

Went straight from there to Carlton for my hazard perception test for driving. hte journey there was more of an ordeal than the test itself as the Grand Prix has slowed things right down. The tram goes right past the course and you can guarantee a shitload of euro-trash will get on it at Middle Park and be load and annoying. The Grand Prix, as it turns out, is both exciting, and annoying! Anyway, I digress.  The test itself seemed more like pot luck more than skill. YOu got presented with a picture, taken from the drivers perspective saying htat your driving forward, or whatever. You then got a prompt saying, “you want to slow down” or “you want to turn right” then the video plays and you have to click the mouse when you think its right to do so. Except that you only have about a 0.5-1 second window to do so safely. This led to it being rather sporadic, and you didnt really know if you should clock the mouse when you actually thought it was the correct time, or try to second guess the random computer time which judged you had selected correctly. Regardless of any of this, I passed with 71% (pass mark was 54%) so the next step is the practical test in just under 2 weeks time. 

On a second high from passing the test, I went into town, and met Becca, who informed me that her interview went well. Seemed like a good job, with decent prospects and only 4 other applicants. The place said they would let her know by Monday at the latest so keep your fingers crossed.  Went a got a lovely fresh made smoothy then on to JB Hifi where I got Frontlines for my 360 (I know its another kill-a-thon game, but its more BF1942 than Call of Duty, and it was on offer this week for $79) and got Metroid 3 on Wii second hand for only $69. Even better than that, the woman who served me at the till gave me a brand spanking new copy of the game instead of a pre-owned version. Bargain! Not played either of them yet and not sure if I’ll get chance tonight, but you can be sure I’ll post my thoughts on both. I wanted to get Zak and Wiki, as again it was on special, but its sold out. Hope they get some more in before the offer runs out.

So there you go, its been a thoroughly enjoyable day off, with a lot of things purchased, and accomplished. On to tomorrow, where they reckon we could be on for another 40 degrees celsius day, so I hope they got the air con on in the factory. I think Ive remembered everything thats gone on, but if not….tough!

Posted in Clothes, driving, Games, Music, weather | Leave a Comment »

Unkle Maximo Campesinos!

Posted by captainbeaky on March 12, 2008

youmedancing300.jpgA pretty routine day at work today, with nothing spectacular of note in the offing. However, its been a pretty musical day for me. Since all our desks are on the shop floor, it can get a bit noisy and as such, its not uncommon to see folks wearing their headphones to get a bit of respite from the general din. After seeing this, I decided that I should get in on the action too and sat at my desk for most of the day listening to some of my new music, some of which I bought 3 weeks ago and havent listened to yet! You see, since the world of podcasts was revealed to me, my journeys in to work and back each day are entirely taken up with podcasts. Games news, gadget reviews, comedy shows, radio programs (Adam and Joes is fuppin great!) etc…. All very informative and all a really good listen, but they have one major down side…..I dont get to listen to music anymore! As I mentioned, journeys are spent with podcasts and we dont really have a stereo to listen to so unless we catch some of the music videos on TV, its a pretty music free life unfortunately. So today that changed, and I feel energised because of it now!

First off the bat was Unkle’s new album War Stories. What a monumental album, full of brooding, moody songs that are both memorable and classy. A proper “grown ups” album with a serious amount of depth to the incredibly well produced songs. Whereas Psyence Fiction was electronica through and through, War Stories has a more roots-ey, guitar laden sound that I think is a great evolution of an otherwise so-so sound.  Superb. As a foil to this, I listened to another album which couldnt have more of a contrast to Unkles album. Los Campesinos!‘s debut album. A brilliant collection of eclectic pop-dance tunes that cant help but put a smile on your face. They sound like a younger, more raw version of the Go Team! (and also share the exclamation mark in their name) and have a lot of songs on the album that are “humworth” and rattle around in your head for hours afterwards. Totally different to Unkle, but oh so tasty! It also reminds me of some great times I had last year in Leeds with friends. 

As a result of todays enjoyment, I think Im going to have to trim down my list of podcasts, and unsubscibe to a couple of them.  I NEED to listen to more music! Oh and on another musical note, we’re off to see Maximo Park tonight in Melbourne. I cant wait, as its been a while since we last went to a gig and Im keen to get back in the saddle. I’ll post how it went tomorrow, when I have my day off!!! Woo hooo!!!! A lie in, a haircut, and a hazard perception test. May also see if I can pick up Zak and Wiki on Wii to – meant to be a corker. Anyhow, Im off to eat something and prepare for tonight (the band arent on stage until 10pm!) Ciao for now, you big fat cow!

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Games, Games and er….Games!

Posted by captainbeaky on March 10, 2008

dsc00111.jpgBeen a very hot day today, with temperatures up to 37 degrees again, but it cooled off in the afternoon. The exchange rate is getting better minute by minute (was $2.12 per £, now $2.17 per £), and we’ve got some tasty stuff while at the supermarket. However the honey/soy sauce we bought to eat with out beef stir fry wasnt very nice – too vinegar-ey.

 Anyway, enough with frivolities. We decided to spend some of our day at the ACMI “Game On” exhibition, which was basically a history of videogaming.  They had over 120 playable demo stands inside ranging from old Game & Watch handhelds, through to Megadrives, right up to arcade games. Speaking of which, they had a free-play cabinet of Scud Race there so had a race or too on that, and to be perfectly honest….I wish I hadnt. Dont get me wrong, it still plays well, and the tracks are trademark Sega, but in my head, it looked like a dream, and had detail dripping from every pixel. In reality, it wasnt anything like that. If youve played any of the recent generation of racing games, Gotham Racing, Forza, Burnout etc….. they all look better than Scud Race. Shame – I’ll learn not to revisit past loved games unless I want to be disappointed. But thats not to say I had a crap time, on the contrary, it was great. Seeing some old consoles, playing on a few I never had, and got to have a quick go on Gran Turismo Prologue and well….meh! Looked pretty, but after getting used to Forza and Gothams handling, GT’s  felt a bit poo. It also felt lifeless as I played it on the non-rumble PS3 controllers, which really were poor, offering no kind of feedback when drifting, braking etc…. Ideally, Id like to give it another go on a force feedback wheel, but thats not going to be for a long time yet, so calm down. The track I played it on was also straight out of Forza so the challenge had already gone. Oh, I also got to see folks playing on Steel Battalion on the Xbox and I was mightily impressed. The custom controller was huge ,and had all manner of cool little switches, and buttons on while the game looked pretty neat too. Annoyed I missed out on it when I had my Xbox. 

I also, unfortunately finished Mario Galaxy last night. I say unfortunately as I just wanted it to go on forever. Its not a game that has awesome stand out set pieces, or specific high points, its quality runs through it from start to finish. Its 100% persistent smiles, and Im upset its over. Saying that, though, while the story mode is totally finished, the game itself still has a lot of life left in it. Ive finished 63 of the stages, and still have 57  more to go, so just over half way through!  

No more news other than that. Work and (hopefully) Badminton tomorrow so dependent on how late I finish, I may not get to post again. I also may be shockingly achy. However, I ahvent heard from my mate that was supposed to make the booking, so it may be postponed until Thursday. We’ll see!

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Less Ache. More Mario. More House.

Posted by captainbeaky on March 9, 2008

174926__hugh_l.jpgWell for once, a fair amount has happened since my last post. On Saturday, we spent most of the day in and around St Kilda, looking for houses, and going to inspections. Its all good practice for when we do come to buy a place, and it also gives us more of a feel for which areas are good, bad or indifferent. Went to a lovely place on the seafront that is within our price range, but it (and nearly all of the places we visited) all have their auction dates pretty soon, so we probably wont be able to bid. However, thats not the point of the exercise. What is heartening is that the sellers seem to be getting jittery about a the poor market conditions, and are knocking money off properties. Im sure when we looked a few weeks ago there was very little in our price range, but now theres a ton of stuff. All nice 2 bedroom properties in decent suburbs, and most of them would be up for consideration, had we the finances to bid. Its what we’ve sent most of today doing too, taking in 3 properties in the area. Very nice. Although its been 35 degrees hot so walking around has been energy sapping. 

Went round a mates house from work yesterday after our house hunting, for a few drinks and a meal. It was all very sophisti-ma-cated with high brow banter and everything. Very posh! Had some nice wine and some tasty beer and got to give his dog a fuss. Didnt drink too much though as I knew I had to be up early for my driving lesson this morning. All went well, which is good as I thought I may have been a bit rusty after no lessons for 2 weeks. To be brutally honest it was a bit boring. We just drove around for 90 minutes, not really learning anything. i shouldnt moan really, as its all good practice for my actual test. 

Played a  lot more Mario Galaxy today and it really is one of my favourite games of the past few years. Its just so much fun, its really addictive and you always want to see whats on the next level. Its unabashed merriment and I dont care if its seen as a bit childish. I think ive pretty much had it for now with realism in games. Fun is where its at, and as such, I’ll probably take my Brothers advice and buy Beautiful Katamari for 360 too. No bloody deaths, no “gritty urban environments”, no frustration, no “fiendishly clever A.I.” just pure unadulterated fun. 

Plans for the week…..I was going to go into work tomorrow but after looking at the bus timetables, I find that there is NO publice trasnport going anywhere near Boeing, so Im going to have to give it a miss. Maybe next public holiday, if they want me to work, they can pay for a taxi – we’ll see. Not sure what we will get up to tomorrow though. Becca goes to her volounteer work on Tuesday, Ive got more badminton on that day too, Wednesday we’re seeing Maximo Park, Thursday Ive got off, got a haircut and got my hazard perception test. Crook has a job interview (fingers crossed), then and Friday the chaps from work have a social thing going on in Port Melbourne so will get to meet some more people from work.  After that, its another solid weekend of inspections – should be really good. Ive thoroughly enjoyed this weekend, as its always good to look round other peoples places! 

As a parting shot, have a look at this video. Thanks to B3ta for bringing it to my attention, and for making me laugh my arse off at it! Enjoy! 

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Aching. Badminton. Houses. Mario.

Posted by captainbeaky on March 7, 2008

badminton.gifNo prizes for noticing I didnt post last night, because as anticipated I was VERY tired after badminton. Id forgotten how much of a physical workout playing is. I was sweating as much, if not more, then 30 mins on a treadmill, and this was a LOT more fun. The guy I played with was probably on an even footing with my skills, which made for a really enjoyable match. My past 2 badminton partners have been either poor or outstanding, so this was much better. The place where we went to play was huge, and mighty impressive. Custom built for when Melbourne hosted the commonwealth games. I felt really invigorated after our game, but that quickly turned to tiredness, and aching. I still feel achy, and I reckon it will be worse tomorrow, but you have to go through this every time you let exercise slip and start it up again. Hopefully next weeks game won be so bad. 

This weekend we’re starting the whole house search thing off, in a big way. Got almost full days of viewing for tomorrow, Sunday and even stretching into next weekend. There are a lot more properties to have a look at if you want to go for 1 bedroom places, and while the some of them may not be what we’re after, it gives us a good idea of what to expect. Sunday will be my penultimate driving lesson before my test (unless I am REALLY rusty after a 2 weeks away from it). Scary. Only 17 days to go. Booked my hazard perception test booked for this coming Thursday too.

I was going to have Monday off as its a public holiday here (Labour Day) but I dont really feel the need for a day off, and they need help getting stuff sorted (and overtime rates all day will be nice!) so Im going in, and having Thursday off instead. Got a late night at a gig on Wednesday night, and as I mentioned, my hazard perception test is on Thursday afternoon and I need a haircut too, so its going to be a useful day off. And Im looking forward to a lounge about the house too.

Still loving Super Mario Galaxy. It is so nice just to listen to jolly happy tunes, watching bright green grass and blue skies roll past the foreground. Its just so much fun and brings memories back of the first time we played Sonic the Hedgehog on the Megadrive. Who’d have thought I wouldnt even touch my 360 for a whole week!  

I may not post tomorrow night as we’ve been invited around the house of one of my colleagues at work. A very dry, and amusing Scot who lives just up the coast in Albert Park. Should be a good night, with beer consumed, so I’ll post on Sunday night instead. Have fun!

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Cars and Houses

Posted by captainbeaky on March 5, 2008

n867580483_2446433_28.jpgOk, work has been good and enjoyable. Weather has been hot and lovely. Done!

The Motorshow yesterday was really good. Nowhere near as huge as the one that I used to go to at the NEC but pretty decent non-the-less. Lots of old antique cars from 100 years ago to modern day stuff, and of course the main hall with all the current/future range of cars. Cars of note (and you can see them on Facebook/webspace) include the Fiat 500 (which I had to forcibly remove Becca from!), the Lexus that reverse parks itself, the Hyundai concept coupe, Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart, the Mazda MX-5 (but only cos it hopefully, going to be my new car) and my favourite car there, the Maserati Gran Turismo. It had that thing that thats pretty rare in car design, a sense of raw power coupled with elegance and sophistication. No footballer Ferrari nonsense, all brash and cock-like. If only money werent an object, it would be mine! I think Becca is now 100% convinced that the Fiat 500 is for her, and to be honest, it was a great little car. Surprisingly roomy inside and the interior is a lovely place to be. I had a nice time sitting in the Mazda MX-5 and pressing buttons and stuff. Plenty of headroom, and leg room which were the 2 things I was concious about but it really isnt an issue. Overall, it was a great evening, and we topped it all with gourmet fish and chips back in St Kilda. Yum!

Today, we made an appointment to speak to a mortgage advisor at the local estate agents just to run some ideas past him, get a feel for how things lie right now, and to find out about the mortgage application process. The short story on all 3 fronts is that the market on the whole IS slowing down, but the inner suburbs, like St Kilda are much less effected than rural sites. However, on my money alone, we cant afford to get a mortgage for any property around here, so we have no choice but to wait until Becca is employed. And as far as the process of application process goes, it all seems pretty straighforward. I  ran our idea of renting for a year past him and he advised agasint it. We would be spending over $25,000 a year on rent, which is effectively dead money, plus we would loose out on the natural increase in house prices which in St Kilda is about 15% per year, so after 1 year of renting we would be nearly $80,000 down, so its time to knock that idea on the head. The one option he mentioned is to try and get a large 1 bedroom place, preferably art deco design, as they retain their value more. Plus he said its pretty easy to pick up a place that has 1 bedroom, and has living space AND a seprate dining area, which could easily be turned into a study/office/games room. This would be ideal for us, as we wouldnt use the potential of a 2nd bedroom, and its really no bother for us to live as we are now, with 1 bedroom. At the end of the day, it comes down to a compromise. We can get a 2 bedroom place in a shit area, or have to live frugally to afford the mortgage payments in St Kilda, OR get a 1 bed place in St Kilda and live comfortably. We both agree that the latter suits our lifestyle much more than the 1st option. A decent 1 bed place is $400k maximum, compared to a decent 2 bed place which goes for $550k upwards, so we’re going to keep our eyes peeled. 

Again, there may not be another post tomorrow as Im going straight from work to have a game of badminton with one of the other new engineers that started the same time as me. Should be good, and am looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. I havent played in over 14 months so Im expecting to be rusty, and very achy!  

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From Mega Post to Mega-crap Post……

Posted by captainbeaky on March 3, 2008

interest-rate.jpgNot really got anything to write today, as I pretty much exhausted myself yesterday. That coupled with the fact that its VERY hot here today will mean this is a relatively short post. Work was pretty good again, with it getting more interesting and insightful each day. So the work day came and went, and then I just came home. Simple as that. Becca is at Knit Club tonight so Ive got the palce to myself, which I will be using to watch TV and play more Mario Galaxy. 

In other joyous news, the interest rates are going to rise for the 10th time tomorrow by 0.25%, making housing even less affordable. Marvellous. However the positive news is that it seems that the housing market IS slowing down, and the economy is showing some initial signs of going tits up. I know its not usually a good thing to be willing the whole economy to collapse, but it has to for us to be able to get on the property ladder.

Ah, nevermind. Im getting tired of thinking about it. Motor Show time tomorrow, so I can have a squizz, and check out the leg room in those Mazda’s and Becca can have a look at her Fiat 500. As such , I may not make a post tomorrow as I have no idea when we’ll be back. We also have a plans to eat at a place called Beer De Luxe, a bar for the more discerning beer drinker. And it does good burgers too!

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The Mega-post!!!

Posted by captainbeaky on March 2, 2008

hats.jpgRight – if you get bored easily, dont bother with this post. Ive got 2 days of catching up to do so its going to be a long slog until the end of the post. Firstly, the boring stuff. Work has been good, with it getting a little busier every day so I hope it doesnt reach melting point soon. Either way, at the moment, Im actually enjoying going to work. The weather is fantastic here at the moment too, with it being 28 degrees today and its due to peak tomorrow at 32 degrees. Mad when you think it is now the equivalent of being September in the northern hemisphere. I dont ever remember it being 32 in September in the UK. 

Right, now thats out of the way I can write about other things that we’ve been doing/mulling over. Yesterday, we went into Prahran to have a look about and just to get a change of scenery from Melbourne, and really enjoyed it. Popped into a great antique/vintage shop and saw many millions of dollars of stuff that we wanted, and things that bought a tear to the eye, as fond childhood memories came flooding back. They had a pristine, mint condition boxed Starbird, in all its sound-effect and lightshow glory. You remember that Andy? Even had the little detachable ships on each wing – awesome! On our way around, I picked up some HD leads for my Wii and 360, as well as Super Mario Galaxy, but more on that later. We managed to abstain from blowing  a small fortune in the Playboy shop, as Becca found some great looking baby-doll style heeled slippers, and I saw a great looking suit. Both far too expensive though. Settled for tapas on our way home from the restaurant just up the road, which was damn nice. I usually measure the quality of a tapas joint by the tastyness of its patatas bravas, and this place didnt disappoint – an 8/10! 

Before we visited “Pu-ran” yesterday, we decided to go and have a look at an inspection, pre-auction on a property thats next door to us, and in our price range. Thought it would be good to experience just what we’ll have to go through in a few months time.  This is the property (dont forget to click the links Mom!) we went to see, which looks huge on the photos, but seemed smaller in real life but the view was more spectacular in the flesh. We had a look at the penthouse suite in the same building as it was avaiable for rent (but quite pricey) and it was lovely. Built in robes, an even better view, big bedrooms and a nice bathroom. Trying to make an appointment to see another unit tomorrow too, just to have a “stickybeak”! Good to have a nose and see what we should be expecting even if we arent in the market right now. I went back to that place up for sale this morning to sit in on the actual auction. It was a pretty slow affair and seemed like trying to get blood from a stone for the auctioneer, as nobody really wanted to pay a lot. The opening bid was for the asking price of $510k, and it finally crept for $530k, which isnt too bad for a property with that view. We’ve spent a lot of today mulling over our options, trying to predict market conditions, should be rent for a year, how much is it going to cost us to get furniture, beds, appliances etc….. and we havent really got anywhere. Renting and buying right now, have so many pluses and minuses for and against each option, and as such its like hitting your head against a wall. In the end, we decided the best thing for us to do was…..wait. We’re in this place until July, we need exchange rates to improve, we need interest rates to drop and more properties to appear on the market. We can continue to monitor whats going on without making a rash decision that will end up costing us in the long run. The property market here, and the economy, cant carry on at the levels they are right now, so its got to slow down, or burst pretty soon. We just have to wait until then and jump in!

Right, onto games. Despite it being a bumper period for games in general, with a crapload of A+++ games being released, and another quality period around the corner, Ive been getting slightly sick of it all. Bored of killing people in Assassins Creed. Killing more folks in Halo 3. Killing more folks in COD4. Killing more folks in Mass Effect. Killing more folks in Tomb Raider Anniversary. I know theyre all very different games, but I cant help feeling theyre all quite generic when considered as a whole. All are very realistic, all are very tense games and all are fiercly competitive. I feel like Ive been playing them because theyre there, rather than playing them for enjoyment, or escape. Its been fun for a while, but that fun has turned into monotony, and Ive not looked forward to switching my 360 on for a week or so.  So that has ended now and after reading countless rave reviews I bought Super Mario Galaxy, and the found the reviews were not wong. Its bloody fantastic! Really does get back to the roots of what makes a good game. Its not realistic, its not gritty, its not got lifelike textures and environments. In its place is escapism, fun, colourful, no-stress adorable gaming at its best. Even the way Mario runs put a smile on my face! If youre sick of the whole generic real-world, shoot/stab-em-up style of gaming that infests every weeks release schedule, I urge you to try this. Its bloody amazing! As a result of this I intend to change my whole perspective on buying games. Ever since 360 was released, I tended to buy a game I was fairly interested in on its release day, rather than if I actually WANTED to buy it. For instance, in the coming weeks theres Army of Two, Rainbow 6 Vegas 2 and a couple of others that I acant remember which were orignally must buy games for me. On reflection, “post Mario”, I really cant be arsed with any of them. Theyre just more of the same generic gubbins I mentioned before, so I’ll be leaving them well alone. Hopefully, I’ll be able to hunt out some original, fun games to get on with instead. 

Ive also realised that I am far more into driving games than I thought. Forza 2,  PGR 4 and DIRT have all really got “my motor running” (pun intended) and I just want more of them, especially with the steering wheel setup. As a result of this, I may be about to commit a terrible, terrible sin. Well, at least in the eyes of UK Resistance (and possibly my Brother). Playstation 3. Gran Turismo 5 Prologue. Force Feedback Wheel. Three items which have me considering a purchase of Sony’s George Foreman grill. I knew I would end up getting one at some point, for God of War 3, maybe Singstar for Becca, and Little Big Planet also looks pretty special. However, I dont realy want to get one before the control pad has rumble reinstated so I wont be buying one immediately. I dare say I’ll be even  more keen to buy one in a few days as I intend to visit the Melbourne Motorshow on Tuesday evening, which is joint sponsored by GT5, and has demo units galore inside. If it actually plays half as good as the videos Im seeing, it will be very hard to try and persuade me not to buy one! 

And on the subject of buying things, my mind is thrown into even more confusion by news of this game. Battlefield Heroes. While it may just seem like a WW2 Team Fortress ripoff, it looks superb. I can tell you I played Battlefield 1942 more than any other videogame before it, or since, so the prospect of a highly styled, great looking, FREE update of it sounds ace. Only problem is, its PC only. No Mac, no 360. If I buy a MacBook Air, it wont be powerful enough to run it. A MacBook Pro will easily powerful enough, but I aesthetically, it looks like a crock of shit, and has the ugliest keyboard Ive seen in a long time. I know aesthetics arent everything, but they are if youre me and use your laptop every day of the year.  However, there are distant rumours of the next MacBook Pro update in June, which will hopefully make it look prettier too. If this happens, Im quids in, but if they dont, I dont know where I stand. I guess, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it I suppose, but up until then, its yet another waiting game. 

So there ends the largest post Ive made yet. Its taken me over 45 minutes to type, and is currently at 1493 words. Jesus! I wrote University essays shorter than this! Dont fret though, normal service shall resume tomorrow.  Now, its time for Match of the Day, and a beer…….

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Quick “Im still alive” Post

Posted by captainbeaky on March 1, 2008

Just a brief message to let you know Im ok and still standing. I left it far too late to post yesterday before tiredness set in, and Ive just been pre-occupied with house/rent/buy calculations today. I’ll do a proper past tomorrow. 

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