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Hickinbottom’s Aussie Ramblings

Archive for April, 2008

Hi Hooooooooooooooooooo!

Posted by captainbeaky on April 27, 2008

Just a quick post to let you know, Im back at work from tomorrow! Strike over.

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No Work Update Below….

Posted by captainbeaky on April 25, 2008

….as there is no significant change, so its just going to be a recap on non-work related stuff that ive been up to. The weather has been fantastic here over the past week, despite the fact that its the end of September, in northern hemisphere terms. Its been almost consistently 23/24 degrees, each day with the sun going down about 5.30, so it IS in fact close to UK sunrise/sunset times. But Ive been making the most of it, going along to St Kilda pier most afternoons, taking my book with me then having a cake and a cuppa at the cafe at its end. On Thursday, we even saw one of the often mentioned/never seen St Kilda penguins, that nest in the breakwater. I always thought that there were penguins there ONCE, but with the influx of tourists, they’d gone elsewhere. However, we’ve seen them now with our own eyes – it was great!

For the second day on the run, we’ve gone for a bit of a drive in my new car, roof down, soaking up the sun. Today we took a drive down to Sandringham, and had a quick look about. Its a very affluent area, with lots of posh cars and big houses and a huge, deserted beach. I have no idea why folks chose not to spend time here, as it was lovely – you couldnt hear anything other than the waves lapping against the shore. Ive added a few photos to my Photoshop Express page, which Ive put a permanent link to on the right……here——->

In other news (videogame haters, skip the next couple of paragraphs) Ive had a rethink on Mass Effect and got right stuck into it, with overall positive results, but with a small number of reservations. First the good points. The story line and character development is top notch, with me actually getting attached to certain members of my squad, having my favourites to accompany me on missions, based on nothing more than if I liked them or not as people! It sounds messed up but Bioware really did a great job of making these people actually seem real, with coherent individual agendas, without going down the cliched videogame route of hideously over-egged stereotypes. the games environment too deserves a mention, with it actually feeling like you were engaging in a large space opera spanning multiple systems, with each story mission having a distinct feel to it. However, there are down points, specifically to do with the environments too. The side quests arent too hot, with most of them being identikit versions of the last, the only difference being this ones on a snow planet, this ones on a desert planet, etc…. Right down to the space ships and buildings, all of them are the same, with just different crates inside. This really ruins the brilliant job that Bioware did with the rest of the games universe, as it takes you out of the realms of fantasy and the shoddy game design pokes through and ruins the illusion. The other area that Mass Effect isnt too good at is with the purchase/managing of weapons and items. I dont think I bought one single thing in the whole game, rendering the entire money system useless. You get far more powerful stuff by searching through enemy lockers and crates, but this has its own negative consequence. Your inventory can only hold 150 items, which include all your weapons, your armour, grenades and biotic amp, each of which have up to 3 upgrades on each item, making managing what you have a lengthy procedure. None of which is helped by there being no “convert all” button, and when you DO select an item from the list to get rid of, it resets the list and puts you back at the top. It really does sound like Im picking flies, but when you have to do as much inventory juggling as you do in ME, then it really does start to annoy. Other larger scale niggles include the games length. Im on the last mission now, and it didnt take me long to get there. I now this game is the first of a trilogy, but thats no excuse to shorten it deliberately. Compared to Oblivion, both in terms of game size and amount hours invested, ME is minuscule. It also sometimes feels like it holds your hand too much, telling you exactly where to go, what to do and what your next step is. A more open ended approach may have been better. However, thats not to say I didnt enjoy, I did. Im on the last mission now, as well as mopping up a few side quests and its been hugely enjoyable. The story really does hook you, especially me being a sci-fi nerd, and having just recently finished a great book (more later) I found I just couldnt put the controller down. I had to see what happened next. So far, the game gets a solid 8/10.

In other game type news, Im going to have a bit of a clear out. Out goes Assassins Creed (ace game but Ive done everything I wanted to do with it), Sega Tennis (again, god game, but multiplayer is borked and single player gets ridiculously difficult on the last “bonus stage”, and Frontlines (crap singleplayer, but brilliant multiplayer, ruined by lack of support and not many folks playing – plus Battlefield and Quake Wars are nearly out, both being similar and being part of already established franchises). In comes Rainbow 6 Vegas 2 (got it cheap off Ebay) and GTA 4, which Im really looking forward to now. The more I read about it, the more impressed I am with it. Opinions to come on Tuesday.

Enough with the games, and onto books, which is pretty rare for me! I finished Iain M Banks new book, Matter recently (thanks to my St Kilda pier adventures!) and I was impressed with it. The last book I read of his was Inversions, which was too dull for my liking, and I missed The Algebraist, which seemed good, but not much to do with the Culture universe of its predecessors. However, Matter is right back into the Culture setting, but through clever use of technology, intertwines the fantastic futuristic setting, with a more medieval story line, which I initially was sceptical of, but the more I read it, the less of an issue it became, and eventually, both storylines meet and continue as one. Its typical Banks, with sprawling galaxies, battles, many distinct and interesting characters and all with his trademark attention to detail and descriptive nature. My only complaints are the books loss of purpose in its middle section, with it getting bogged down in the journeys of both sets of protagonists, and its abrupt ending, right when its hit its stride. On the strength of this, I started up Mass Effect (above) which isnt to dissimilar to Banks writing, and Ive got a Peter Hamilton book to get into now. This is a 1000 pager though, AND part of a trilogy so no reports anytime soon of how THIS book is!

Well, Im sorry for the long post, but I didnt think it woudl go on for this long. Future plans include going to an out of town shopping centre tomorrow, and then for a few drinks with a work colleauge. Oh, and probably nothing else too strenuous as Crooks coming down with a cold. Better not give it to me! Anyway, Im going to end this now before it gets any longer.

Posted in Books, Games, Oz, weather | 1 Comment »

Cheesed off.

Posted by captainbeaky on April 19, 2008

Sorry I havent posted in a while, but Im totally pissed off. Still not working, despite countless meetings and much bullshit spewed. I wont comment on the specifics, instead I’ll just point you here, and you can live the misery as Im reading it too. I havent done anything, I havent taken the car out since driving it home, I fail to be interested by pretty much anything, and am totally fed up. I know all I can do is weather this difficult period, as the alternatives dont bear thinking about, but that doesnt make me feel any better.

Im not doing anything, and I wont post again until this right royal mess is sorted. I know this blog is far from exciting at the best of times, but you dont want to be reading my moans everyday, so I’ll spare you the agony.

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Who needs racing games!?

Posted by captainbeaky on April 15, 2008

Jut a quick one today to let you guys know Ive got my new car! It was very scary having my first experience of driving alone, first experience in a new car, drivin back from an unfamiliar area! The car itself feels very different to my old one, and the one I learned to drive in. The Mazda is very quick, good at disguising speed, has fantastic handling and “feels” a lot more sporty than what Im used to. Got my parking permit sorted, as well as insurance so everything is pretty much done and dusted on the paperwork side. Scary-ness quickly turned into excitement that I was ACTUALLy driving on the roads at last! AND in a nice car – felt strangely liberating and exhilerating. Cant wait to get out on the open roads!

In other good news, things are on the move at work. Theres a meetig tomorrow in which I have an inkling that everything will be sorted out. However, I may be wrong so dont bank on it being done! I’ll keep you posted. Be exciting to drive to work too! To say Im thrilled by my new toy is an understatement!

Right, Im off to look at the owners manual now! Sad……

Posted in Cars, Work | 5 Comments »

Work. Games. Car. (In that order)

Posted by captainbeaky on April 14, 2008

Howdy! Well this is another short update, as…well….we havent been up to much due to the turbulent work situation. No work = no money = no going out. Everything is the same as when I last posted, and after speaking to folks today, its still in full effect. Frustrating, but Im not upsetting anyone this early into my Boeing career. Anyway, i dont really want to say anymore about it on here so I’ll zip it!

This break in working life has let me catch up on my gaming hobby, allowing me to revisit Forza, Gotham Racing and Halo 3. Halo has actually finally got me hooked on its multiplayer component. Its just so well balanced and for want of a better word, fair. Compared to a few frustrating rounds I played of Frontlines (spawn, dead, spawn, dead, spawn, dead, sp….you get the idea) its simple to pick up but takes a long time to get good at. Ive had my ass handed to me on several occasions by people of a much higher skill, but Ive done my fair share of killing too. Strange, on some rounds Im just cooking on gas, then the next round Im as flat as a pancake. Still, I was the same with BF1942. Im continuing to plug my way through Sega Tennis and Burnout, with the former becoming quite frustrating. Not sure how much milage I’ll be able to squeeze out of it as online, as its bloody awful, suffering from terrible lag. Your opponent is able to return your strokes, even when theyre 6 foot away from the ball. I’l see how many achievements I can get out of it, then trade it in, probably for GTA IV, which Im increasingly looking forward to. Not long to go now…..

Finally, my money has FINALLY come through successfully, so I’ll be going to the Mazda garage tomorrow to pick up my car. Hopefully anyway. Last I heard the garage wanted a heads up on when Im collecting it, so it can be valeted and the guy Ive been speaking to wasnt in today. Also got to get my insurance sorted for tomorrow too, but that shouldnt be a problem. Im excited but its a bit scary. Ive never driven over there before, and Ive never driven on my own, let alone in a new car! Oh well, Ive got TomTom Jane to help me out, at least thats what I think she’s called! I’ll keep you updated on what happens anyway.

Right oh, must dash. My thai take out isnt going to choose iteself!

Posted in Cars, Games, Job | Leave a Comment »

Ups & Downs

Posted by captainbeaky on April 10, 2008

A quick update to let you know whats going on, and that all is NOT well. Im personally ok, but work isnt. I dont want to write anything huge about it on a public blog, but go here for details.

I had written a big speel about me buying Sega Superstars tennis, but WordPress screwed up and I lost the text, and Im not writing it all again. Short version – If you like tennis games, buy Virtua Tennis. If you like Sega, fun, or read UK Resistance, you owe it to yourself to buy this game. My opinion, 8/10.

I may also be able to pick my car up this weekend. Cutting a long story short, my money is due in my Australian account tomorrow, so if I do a same day transfer to the dealership, I could be quids in to pick it up. We’ll see.

Im sure more stuff has happened, but Im pretty tired so I’ll post more tomorrow, when hopefully I’ll have more to say. come to mention it, I think Im going to end the daily posting business. If Im honest, if i put myself in some of my friends/families positions, I wouldnt particularly be interested in reading about what other people had for tea, or the fact that they did nothing at the weekend. I can understand that folks may have been interested during our honeymoon period here, when everything was new, strange and exciting, but now day-to-day life has set in, it doenst make for a particularly thrilling read. So I will probably be posting every other day, or every 3 days from now on. I would say let me know your thoughts, but seeing as only my Mom comments/emails me about it, I wont bother as I know its a fruitless exercise.

Posted in Cars, Games, Work | Leave a Comment »

Sorry…….

Posted by captainbeaky on April 7, 2008

…..but this post is just blantant nose rubbing. Salt in the wound. A kick when youre down. Add insult to injury. Piss in your crisps. Whatever you want to call it. SO you have been warned. If you dont want to wish me harm, or call me names, then please DONT look at the following photo link gallery. Or if your browser is borked, like the latest FIrefox Beta, go here and look at todays album. For For those unaware of proceedings, look here first, then see if you can put 2 and 2 together to find out why we “made the switch”.

Posted in TV, weather | Leave a Comment »

Friends, Food and Frontlines

Posted by captainbeaky on April 6, 2008

Firstly, yet again, sorry for the lack of posts. Been due to us actually having a social life, tiredness and well,,, lazyness I suppose. Will do my best to not let it happen again!

So a quick recap on days gone by. On Friday, we met a friend from work in a pub up the road for food and beers. After that we left to go to a local venue to see CSS. Once again, strange Australian band times were in effect with doors opening at 8.30 and the CSS not actually coming on stage until 11.30! Was a good sized venue and Im looking forward to seeing Architecture in Helsinki there. CSS were…well….they were OK. Nothing remarkable but fairly competent anyway.

Saturday we slept in real late, probably until gone 1pm. The week just caught up on us, plus we had a late night on Friday to contend with too. Popped into St Kilda for a mooch about, then just came back and read the papers/played games. Went out to meet more friends from work for post birthday drinks, and got invited to one of the guys, sisters birthday party in the CBD. So we went along to a nice bar, had some, or many drinks then left in time to get the last tram (1am). Was a real good night, as we met and talked to some nice folks. Hopefully the first of many get togethers.

Today we’ve been proper lazy. Clocks changed so we had an extra hour in bed, which also meant that we didnt wake up until 10 (doesnt sound so bad that way!). Did some food shopping and just “done stuff” during the day. Ive really enjoyed myself, as I had some Star Wars Lego for my birthday, so spent the afternoon watching the 1st episode of the new series of the Gadget Show, with a cuppa and a desk covered in Lego bits and instructions. Reminded me of how much we used to love building stuff out of it when we were kids. Unfortunately it could turn out to be a rather expensive hobby, as the latest Lego kits are pretty pricey. Theres a limited edition Millenium Falcon Lego model on Ebay for $800!!!! Ouch! But if you do a bit of research online, folks have made custom models for pretty much everything. From Aliens models, to tanks, to Johnny 5, all of which are fantastic and predictably, expensive to make. Oh well, I’ll keep my eye on Ebay for cheap kits – was a real treat to get back to it though!

As the picture in the post may suggest, we have struck veritable gold! You CAN get Marmite in supermarkets here!!!! And its not ridiculously expensive UK imported Marmite, its bonafide, produced over here, cheap Marmite. Except its called “Our Mate”. Woo Hoooo! On the subject of food, I had a good, tasty cumberland sausage with mash last night at the pub –  was a welcome change from horrific soapy australian beef sausages. Becca’s made a superb homemade pie this afternoon. Pickled onions, steak, lots of wine, puff pastry with a side of mash – god damn it was good! Cant wait to have it again, so we can both make pigs of ourselves…..again!

Games wise, its been more Burnout, more Forza, and Ive really got into Frontlines. I was all set to trade it in on Saturday, but gave it another bash online, and this time there were quite a few games in progress, so I joined the 1st one and had a blast! Lots of weapons, equipments and levels that arent in the singleplayer. The team and kit balance is brilliat with no uber-class that out performs everything else. Its kit structure is also pretty novel – youve got your standard, assault, sniper, anti-armour etc… but then you can pick a role to play. For example, I can pick anti-armour, with a ground support role. Now the more points I get, the more XP I earn towards 3 upgradable “perks” such as perk 1, a blow torch to repair vehicles, perk 2, a deplyable mini-gun and perk 3, a deployable automatic sentry gun. You can vary your role selection, as well as your kit selection each time you spawn so you can really tailor your loadout depending on how youre going. If youre doing some heavy defending, sentry guns, and EMP beacons are the way to go. Attacking you can go for air strikes and remote drones. It really adds a huge degree of depth to the proceedings, with the rock-paper-scissors style of balance contributing to an vast, open and ever changing battlefield. So, ultimately Ive changed my mind on trading it on (and Im sorry Andy, but Mass Effect is still going). Dont misunderstand me though the singleplayer component of Frontlines  is pretty poor, and boring. Its the multiplayer that keeps this game from sinking and should do me nicely until BF:BC comes out anyway.

So there you go – its been hectic, and lazy at the same time. Above everything else, its been fun. The weather has picked back up again too, although I hear the UK has gone the opposite way and has had a fair bit of snow! Haw……and indeed….haw!  It was hazy all day yesterday and been sunny all day today, with temperatures reaching about 22 degress. The week ahead looks good too, with it reaching a high of 28 next Friday. This all bodes well for me picking my car up next week. My money didnt trasfer from the UK in time for me to be able to get the car weekend just gone, but will definitely have cleared for next weeked. As for other plans, Im badminton-ing tomorrow, seeing a comedian on Tuesday (I forget who exactly!) and seeing another comedian on Friday, by the name of Ross Noble. Cant wait for this one!

I’ll duno when I’ll post again, becasue of above committments, but I’m going to see how it goes making more frequent, short posts rather than infrequent mega-posts like this one. The time I spend doing links to stuff seems pretty pointless too as I can see from my admin page that nobody clocks them, so I can at least keep posts nice and simple. Let me know through comments what youre opinions are, as I either you guys dont know how to use them…or nobody can be arsed leaving comments. I can see I get a fair ammount of traffic per day, but no comments are left – what gives! Anywhow, Im off to watch the latest episode of Doctor Who. Nighty night!

Posted in Cars, comedy, Food, Friends, Games, Music, TV, weather | Leave a Comment »

Birthday Post!

Posted by captainbeaky on April 3, 2008

bdaycake.jpgAnother year older, and I dont think a year has gone by when I could have imagined so much change, both good and terrible. I can only be thankful that all the thing we have planned, or are planning have turned out,well, and just hope that the next year is….well…..less turbulent, at the very least and has no more sickening shocks around the corner.

 

Anyway, enough of the pensive, thoughtful stuff….its my birthday goddammit! Got up early so I could A, open my presents before work, and B, watch the Liverpool vs Arsenal match (I was hoping for a Gunners loss, but 1-1 is a pretty good result for the ‘pool). I got choccies, a t-shirt, book, toys, nick-nacks, a cap (yes it DOES fit Anne – cheers!), a DVD and a few cards. Id already had my main present off Becca (comedy festival gala tickets), and still have a  couple stuck in the post, winging their way to me as we speak. Considering we dont know many folks here, its not a bad haul for my first birthday away from friends and family.  Its also my first Birthday Ive ever worked, but it was better than moping about at home on my own. Plus I treated myself to a huge bacon and egg roll, and a lovely chocolate orange cake – fatty fat fat fat. Was meant to be going out for meal later, but the more I sit here, the more that takeout becomes a more attractive proposition. Im dead tired and just dont think I would appreciate the full meal “experience”. Got The Apprentice, the Gadget Show and Traffic Cops downloaded from UK TV so will probably watch those later, as well as a few games online…

 

…speaking of which – games. Had a bit of a mooch through my collection and can feel a clearout coming on. I bought Frontlines, mainly as a bit of a Battlefield substitute (I didnt have the BFBC beta when I bought it) so seeing as I had completed it, and wouldnt be ruining any new weapons or vehicles if I took it online I decided to try it on multiplayer. It was then I discovered that I could only find 2 games in progress, 1 with 1 player and the 2nd with 3 players. Out of 24 possible players. Hmmm! If this is the level of community around this game, its being traded in. On top of this, the BFBC beta makes it look like a NES game – so damn drab and dull. Dont get me wrong, its a competent game, its just completely un-spectacular. Next on my list was Mass Effect. I know some might object (you Andy!) but I just cant be arsed to get back into it. The inventory system is broken, the micromanagement of your squad/equipment is unnecessary,  and its one of those games that doesnt exactly do anything to help you understand its conventions or controls when you start from scratch, let alone when youre halfway through a mission. So thats added to the trade in list. In contrast, I had some enjoyable times online with Forza 2 last night, with some people of about equal skill. Made for some real tense races, and makes the game so much more interesting knowing that people stuff up sometimes, which the AI opponents never did. Burnout is still enjoying some of my attention too, as is, bizarrely, Pacman Championship Edition. I was never a fan of Pacman by any stretch of the imagination, but this remake, has lovely jazzed up visuals, and far more interesting play modes than just “eat stuff, get a high score”. I dont know whether to give Bully a shot, as Ive heard it is meant to be hugely enjoyable, but with the imminent release of GTA IV, I dont know if it will tire me out of sandbox games before Ive even played it. Who knows!

 

Weather here yesterday was crazy – super super strong winds – we had 95km/h in Melbourne, with other regions in Victoria getting up to 130km/h! The kind of wind that really did push you off your feet. Today has been more representative of typical Melbourne weather. Its been sunny, warm, windy, rainy and mild – makes life more interesting.

 

Plans for the next few days…..tomorrow were off to the pub with a fellow Boeing engineer, then off to see CSS, and Saturdays plans may have changed. Im still waiting to receive my trasnferred money from the UK so its unlikely I will be able to pay for my car this week, so will have to wait until next week. Annoying I know, but nowt I can do about it.  Saturday evening will be out in the CBD with work chums and we’ll see where that takes us. So there you go, not exactly an exciting, rollercoaster ride of a birthday, but an OK one non-the-less. Here’s to the year ahead……cheers!

Posted in Cars, Games, weather | 2 Comments »

Be Kind, Rewind and Stuff

Posted by captainbeaky on April 1, 2008

22187206.jpgOnce again, sorry for the tardiness of this post. Yesterday I was shockingly tired from badminton and today has been pretty busy. Had a bunch of stuff to sort out at work, and had a meeting with a mortgage guy right after work. The short story is that we CAN get a mortgage for the range of house prices we’re after (in fact we could get a loan for nearly DOUBLE what we want!) and its more a matter of how much we can afford to pay each week/month than how much can we get a loan for. The options open to us are both vast and complicated, but the guy did show us a scenario in which it could be possible for us to repay our mortgage in 10 years! Shocking, but all his sums seemed right – will have to give it some serious thought.

 

Secondly, we went to our local cinema which is the George theatre on Fitzroy St. Its a nice litle 3 screen cinema with a bar, hot drinks and cakes, so will soon become our cinema of choice I reckon. No annoying kids, lots of beer and cuppa’s! We decided to go see Be Kind, Rewind starring Jack Black, Mos Def and Danny Glover. Its basically a film about 2 guys who accidentally erase all the videos in their store and remake them all themselves. Now, Im not generally a fan of Jack Black, but he’s not too overbearing in this perfectly amusing, popcorn movie. Its not going to reinvent the wheel, or cause a big stir, but its good at what it does, with the Ghosbusters remake being my favourite (especially the whole “how do we shoot it at night” scene!). Gets a bit cheesy at the end, but like I said, it does what it says on the tin admirably. If you want to see a light hearted, charming, throwaway comedy, you could do worse than see this film. 7/10.

 

Not much else gone on. Not got to play Xbox for a couple of days due to tiredness and lack of time, but should hopefully sort that out tomorrow. Really getting back into it in a big way now, after a short hiatus playing solely on Wii, thanks in no small part to Burnout and Battlefield Bad Company. Ive even gone as far into planning ot get back into COD 4 online, once the BF:BC beta ends in a few weeks. Ah, on second thoughts, that will only be a couple of days before GTA 4, and I can see that eating up a lot of my time, so maybe I’ll give COD another go this week.

 

Plans for the rest of the week….nowt for tomorow (except aforementioned gaming), Thursday we’ll be off out for Birthday food, and Friday we’re having a a few drinks with the guy who’s training me at work then off to a gig (CSS at the Prince Bandroom). For once a busy week, full of excitement, thrills and beer! And me being a year older :o(

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