Vista is a well beaten dead horse. Microsoft is embarassed of it, and is rushing to get Windows 7 out the door in the hopes that the world will forget Vista ever happened. In the meantime, the world is largely ignoring Vista and staunchly sticking to their XP installations. Personally, I've installed Vista on my work laptop and on my home PC, while leaving the PCs that my wife and kids use on XP.
I've run into a bit of an interesting problem with some code I'm working on. It deals with asynchronous reads on a stream. Here is a simplified version of the problem:
The delay since my last post is due to a business trip I had to take. It involved a couple of really long flights on really large planes. It left me with a couple of thoughts. So this post is in the outstandingly unlikely hope that some influential person in the airline industry is reading and acts on these comments.
- Wider arm rests
- Chocolate milk
- Better in-flight entertainment
- Power outlet at the seat (even a powered USB port would be good)
- Foot rests
- Get a (thin) U-shaped travel pillow
- bring a small bag with entertainment to stow under the seat
- Use the airline blanket like a shawl, not like a blanket. Your legs will be warm because you are wearing pants like a sane person. Your arms will be cold, so wrap the blanket around your back and neck and drape it across your arms
- Use the airline pillow for lumbar support
- Books can be read at anytime, unlike electronics that must be switched off
- An iPod can be enjoyed with your head leaning back unlike a book where your head is pitched forward.
- Bring a snack. You may not like some of the food, or you may just get hungry. Cookies keep well and are easy to stow in the seatback.
Last night I got my first chance to watch a Blu-Ray movie on the PS3, and to be honest, I think I was hoping for a little bit more. Maybe the difference is more stark on a 1080p television, but on my 1080i set not so much. The biggest difference was in sound quality. I couldn't support the best audio option out of the PS3, but the bitstream option sounded better than our current DVD player does. The picture quality, while better, wasn't amazingly better. We have a progressive scan (480p) DVD player now, which looks great on our set. Our television is rear project 55" set that is about 5 years old. It uses the tradition 3-tube setup (3 monitors at the bottom, one red, blue, and green, converged by a mirror onto a screen), not the newer DLP, LCD, or plasma that are common in larger sets. Maybe with one of those newer technologies at the higher 1080p resolution it would really shine, but as it stands I'm less than blown away. The price premium for a Blu-Ray film vs. a DVD is anywhere from 50-100% depending on where you buy. So is it worth buying the movie twice to see this upgrade? For me, I'm not there yet. Hopefully the price of Blu-Ray movies come down over the next year as the price of players also fall and become more common place. Another hope of mine is to get a new big screen 1080p set so I can test my theory of the better picture on the newer set. Unfortunately, I don't see that one happening anytime soon :-P
So after my rant about the lack of good games on the market, I lucked out and received a PlayStation 3 and LittleBigPlanet as gifts. After spending a day playing around with the system and game, I have some initial reactions. First, what a beautiful machine! The PS3 certainly has a professional look to it. It looks right at home among the other A/V equipment on the shelf. The main system interface is a little polluted, but not difficult to learn and navigate. The controller is going to look immediately familiar to anyone who has play a PlayStation 2, as the buttons and layout are identical. The only difference is the cord - a detachable USB cable. The controller that came with my unit is the new DualShock 3 controller, which has both rumble and the six-axis waggle.
After updating to the latest firmware and signing up for a PSN account, I scheduled a bunch of game demos and movie trailers to download. Here is where I think the PlayStation 3 has a real leg up on the Wii. The Wii Channel is meant to give you a way to view trailers and download demos of some DS games. The PlayStation Network (PSN) is so much better. Not only can you get demos for the PSP and PS3, but you can also get trailers for movies and a slew of great content. Downloads can be performed in the background, unlike the Wii where you must complete the download before doing anything else. I got a couple of trailers for Wall-E (I love that movie) as well as the demos for Mirror's Edge, LEGO Batman, and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. The downloads were huge (over 1GB in the case of Star Wars), but it was nice to be able to do other things while they downloaded. I let the controller charge and went outside with the family while it finished the download.
The first demo I played was for Mirror's Edge. This is a FPS game that has you running and jumping much like a free-runner from rooftop to rooftop. This was also must first taste of the six-axis control, which I found to be grossly inferior to the Wii controllers. Really, if this is the best it can be used for, Sony should just save the cost of the parts and remove it from the controller. The biggest problem is that while holding the controller your hands simply can't move in a natural way to "waggle". Tipping forward and back is about the best you can manage. I was glad to see that none of the games I tried depended on this feature.
Graphically, the PS3 is night and day better than the Wii. This wasn't really a surprise, as the Wii has been described as two GameCubes duct taped together. Still, the system really brought out the best in our HD set. The HD trailers I downloaded looked phenomenal, as did the games. We haven't watched a movie on it yet to see how well it upconverts. I suppose the only drawback is that the crispness and brightness of the picture has me thinking about getting a 1080p set for the basement so I can see the machine perform at the highest resolution (our current set is 1080i).
This brings me to LittleBigPlanet. LittleBigPlanet has gotten a ton of media hype over the last few months. It's a simple platformer with gorgeous graphics. So what makes LBP so special? The interactivity and customizability. From the get-go, LBP is giving you the tools and showing you tricks on how to construct a fun level for a platform jumping game. You can either play the levels created by the game designers - there are 50 of them and the few I've seen are a lot of fun, or you can create your own levels. In addition, you can sign on to your PSN account and play levels that others have created, and other players can join you. It opens the door for some fantastic user-created content, and Sony is really pushing folks to come up with interesting levels. I think this will do wonders for the replayability of this game. The family has given it a try, and everyone is enjoying it so far.
If you have a PS3 and a sense of humor and fun, I can definitely recommend picking up LBP. If you are in the market for a Blu-Ray player and also enjoy games, the PlayStation 3 is a solid appliance. If you are in the market for a gaming system....I haven't seen enough to give a firm recommendation there. Between the Wii, the XBox 360, and the PlayStation 3 (not to mention the DS and PSP), you have a lot of choices to make about your personal preferences and style.
People who enjoy video games have a certain stereo-type:
- Pale and Pasty
- Socially backward
There are a variety of dance games out there, but the most popular are the Bemani games published by Konami under the nam
e Dance Dance Revolution (DDR). In these games you must follow a pattern of footsteps displayed on the screen in synchronization to the beat of the music. You can start out light with just a few steps and a slow song, but you can really work up a sweat if you turn up the beat. Many iterations of the game include a workout mode that will count your steps and give you an estimated number of calories burned.
The Wii Fit and the PlayStation Eye Toy both are used in games that encourage a full body workout. In the case of the Wii Fit, the accessory is intended fitness directly. The game that comes with it steps you through a variety of simple exercises and tracks your progress. The eye toy has a variety of uses, but in DDR games it can be used to also track arm movements. In this way you get a full body workout rather than just your legs.
There are a lot of options out there now for folks to change the stereo-type of the gamer. And guys, if you need a little more encouragement to jump into this, here you go.