Friday, June 30, 2006

Food Review: Melati bar & restaurant, Brighton

I have read some pretty good reviews on Melati but even then I tend to avoid 'upmarket' Asian bar/restaurant hybrids due to their reputation for presentation rather than quality.

The dining area is separated from the bar area. The first thing I noticed was how barren the place was. A couple of people were at the bar and a couple was dining outside. But that's it.

The first 'what the fuck' came when they served a classic Malaysian drink called 'teh tarik' in a wine glass! Like, what the fuck.

This is the starter called the 'perkedel jagung', an Indonesia starter. It's stuffed with corns and some other stuff. It was okay but two pieces??? Jesus.

The 'satey' was abysmal. It is totally nothing like what you can get from Malaysia. Even kebab shops serve more authentic skewered meat than this. To their credit they did serve them with 'ketupat'.

The 'satey' sauce was alright. Not as "peanutie" as I would have preferred.

The sambal daging was quite tasteless. Look at the portion of rice given. It was pathetic. It looks a lot but they garnished the whole thing with onions.

The beef 'rendang' actually came with more meat than rice, which isn't really saying much as the portion is still pretty small. But at least it was pretty authentic. Not as spicy as it should have been.

What can I say? I was pretty disappointed by the visit. For the price the portions were downright outrageous. This isn't Claridge you know. Apart from the 'rendang', the authenticity of the food are questionable. There are much better Malaysian/Indonesian/Singaporean restaurants in the South-East - Nyonya in Notting Hill, Kopi Tiam in Soho and Malay House in Brighton.

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NSMB out today!

That's right folks, the European version of New Super Mario Bros. is officially out today. Go get it. Like now.

I have already reached World 8 (very Castlevania like) but still have far to go into collecting all the star coins that goes into unlocking all the alternative routes (man, I sucked). This is one of the best platformer ever released.

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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Cannabis Ice Tea

Via Treehugger, C-Ice Swiss Cannabis Ice Tea would soon hit Britain's health shops giving us a taste of the liberation that the rest of Western Europe has enjoyed. Great. The narcotic element, THC, has been artifically removed so it won't make you high. Not so great.

I read about this on Monday's Evening Standard before forgetting the name. Lucky for me today I stumbled upon the newspiece while perusing one of my favourite bookmarked blogsite, Treehugger. Nice one. Of course now armed with the correct product details I rushed to the local organic store only to find that "no such products" are available.

Anybody seen this in London yet?

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More monkey business

Indecent? Indecent? Playboy Indonesia indecent? You must be kidding yourself. When I was a kid I have seen more flesh in the supermarket than the first issue of Playboy Indonesia. Get a fucking grip.

That is the situation in South-East Asia. What about Britain?

Well thanks to people like Labour MP Claire Curtis-Thomas (pro Iraq war, pro top-up fees, pro anti-terrorism bill) whose agenda to classify FHM, Arena et al in the same top shelf category, (traditionally belonging to Penthouse, Mens Only etc) has somehow suddenly make people like me, who occasionally read 'lads mags', pornographers.

Excuse me lady but I once had an unfortunate incident where I was glancing through my girlfriend's copy of Cosmo and I saw pages upon pages of naked men - with their dicks exposed no less. I cringed but I did not object them as pornography. And if you were to read Jennifer's copies of Glamour you will find no end to the endless talk of casual sex. It's the 21st century - stop living in your idealistic past.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

HD - not quite there yet

Sky was demoing their SkyHD service in Victoria on Monday. Am not impressed. Surrounded by large and expensive Sony Bravia LCDs, I noticed visible MPEG compression artifacts within the broadcast that were so noticeable during the early years of DVD technology.

While the quality of the transmission seems to be an improvement over standard definition digital telly, it didn't have that impact (on me at least) of say the switch from analog to DVB (or maybe I am too fussy). My guess is watching HD films on broadcast would probably equal to the quality you can get from watching a film on a good DVD player capable of upscaling.

From what I have seen, unless BluRay and/or HD-DVD players start dropping in price (circa 2008?), you probably should hold back from getting a HD telly just yet. HD broadcast isn't mature yet and probably not worth the hassle. But hei, it's your money.

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Monday, June 26, 2006

The curse of Wimbledon

Bloody fucking hell. The rain started pissing early today and I quipped on the phone "it must be Wimbledon first day". Which was true, but I forgot. Surely Ken Livingstone should now attempt all within his power to rid London of Wimbledon. I heard Milton Keynes are interested. Anything to get rid its wretched curse.

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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Some other stuff

I was at Comet yesterday evening getting some DVD blanks when I went to look at some earphones. The selections were utter crap.

The funny thing was a family was there looking for portable speakers. You know, those superbly overpriced white speakers that you pay through your arse because it has a 'dock connector'.

Anyway as I was listening to some music, the lady thought I couldn't hear her. I could, because I wasn't wearing in-ears (it's broken remember?). They were obviously confused on which speakers to purchase. I am guessing iPod 'compatible' speakers (see above paragraph), because she pointed at my player and told her hubbie "That's not an iPod, it's a MP3 player".

My god, woman! Technically the iPod is a MP3 player too. iPod is a brand, not a description. Just like Playstation (or Nintendo before that) isn't a description of a console, but a brand/model. I am gobsmacked that people still make such mistakes but I blame the media for that, well at least clueless fashion journos.


So I went to Halfords next door and had a look at some of the bikes. Everytime I had a look at that Carrera Fury my heart stops. It is simply a beautiful bike. Too bad at £500 I simply could not afford them unless I go second hand. And people call Carreras 'entry level' bikes. Spare a thought for us mortals.

Lucky for me someone adviced not to get full suspension as it would be totally uncomfortable for city use. So that's alright. I will probably get something with aluminium frame and front suspension.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Nintendo DS game guide

Did you like many others purchase a DS Lite today? Sold off that PSP? What to do with that extra cash? You will need games for that wouldn't you? Well here are my suggestions for 10 recommended (must have) DS purchases, in no particular order:

Advance Wars: Dual Strike (review)
If you owned the previous two Advance Wars GBA games then this may not be a worthy upgrade but if you are even the slightest fan of Chess/Risk/Command & Conquer, then this turn based strategy war game should be welcomed to your new DS collection.

Animal Crossing: Wild World (review)
A great game on its own, the real fun begins when you go online and visit your mate's towns. Up to four people can be connected at the same time.

Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow (review)
Simple the best 2D Castlevania ever developed, you play as Dracula reincarnated Soma Cruz as he battles a Christian sect hell bent on introducing a new Dracula (apparently Soma is too nice). All in the name of 'balance'.

Electroplankton (review)
This isn't a proper game per se but a highly recommended purchase regardless if you enjoy creating music. Calming to play before you sleep.

Mario Kart DS
Probably the best Mario Kart ever developed. Contains 16 new tracks and 16 retro tracks from past Mario Kart games, with Nintendo WiFi you can go online and race with anybody around the world.

Metroid Prime Hunters (review)
The best FPS game isn't on the PSP. It's on the DS. With WiFi connection, you can battle with people from around the world. Play as bounty hunter Samus or one of the other newly introduced hunters, each having their own special weapons.

New Super Mario Bros. (review)
An absolute return to form. Mario returns for the first time in years for a classic 2D style platformer with stunning 3D graphics. A must have for any gamers.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (review)
If may lack a high replay value but for that 20 hours of gameplay time clocked you will be sucked into a world that is both comedic and emotional.

Professor Kawashima's Brain Training: How Old Is Your Brain?
At 15 quid via Amazon, this is a great game that apparently works wonder on your brain (not proven yet) and features 'intelligent' quick games. The Maths 30x local LAN battle will prove to be a wonderful party game.

Trauma Center: Under the Knife (review)
A surgery simulator, you use your stylus to operate on your patients. Highly addictive and difficult as well. This was why the DS was born, so we could all pretend to be doctors.

Other recommendations:

Bomberman DS - The single player is crap but at a price (£10), you will enjoy tons of fun via the local LAN play.

Kirby: Power Paintbrush - Use your stylus to help restore Dreamland from its canvas curse in this innovative platform starring everyone's favourite pink fluffy hero, Kirby.

Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time - A mate of mine commented how weird Mario & Luigi: PiT was. Because PiT is a RPG game with turn based battle systems and upgrades you may find it confusing at first. But it is funny as hell.

Nintendogs - Tamagotchi on steroids. You look after dogs this time. Cute little puppies.

Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan - If you only ever import one game, import this. Well this and Bleach DS (review). You won't even need to know Japanese. This rhythm game is extremely difficult and will require dedication but does reward you will excellent covers of classic J-pops and J-rocks. Osu!

Sonic Rush - Wah-hey! Forget crappy Sonics, this is classic 2D Sonic - over two screens no less. With glorious 3D backgrounds too. Nice one Sonic Team. Now, don't go screwing up the next DS Sonic.

Super Mario 64 DS - If you haven't played the original N64 classic, this is the time. Classic 3D platforming at its best, hampered only by the not too perfect control mechanism.

Tetris DS - A new take on Tetris containing many different interpretation of the game, with retro soundtrack and graphics to boot! Battle your mates or strangers via the net.

Did I forget anything? Add on the comments if you feel another game deserves to be mentioned.

Some stuff

Anybody owns a Philips SHE9500 in-ear fones? Ever since my Shure e2c broke I have been searching for a replacement in-ear passive noise reduction fones and the SHE9500 comes in at the cheapest of those I were interested in. Bloody Richer Sounds raised their catalogue price for the Sennheiser CX300 by 10 quid to 40.

The CX300's cable looks flimpsy enough, even the e2c's cable however thick it was - was capable to snap, I doubt I am prepared to pay that much for a CX's ultra lightweight cable. The SHE9500's cable looks equally as breakable but at roughly half the price I wouldn't cry as much if anything goes wrong. Any other suggestions? Why in-ear? Well my music isn't encoded in high bitrate (96kbps WMA9 VBR) anyway, so I won't need high-def cans.

Oh, and don't buy Dell notebooks. Between us and our families we had five Dell notebooks and all of them failed. Thankfully before something like this happened.


Remember gamers, the European variant of the DS Lite is out today. Today. I wish I went down and joined the queue on Oxford Street for the official launch at GAME, but I've already got one and didn't need another one (or do I...?).

The Beeb has also written a short but glowing review on the DS Lite. They did a huge mistake by calling the white variant a 'iPod white' and the black version a 'PSP black', proving yet again that White City is populated by raving iPod and Sony fanboys. Fortunately it seems that they are finally buying into this concept about two screens and quirky gameplay.


I was annoyed with the BBC's choice of live World Cup. Why show a boring Japan Vs Brazil on the main channel? Lucky for me I had Freeview and watched (partly anyway) the Aussie Vs Croatia match. Talk about a not-so-boring match, eh? Fifa, give Graham Poll the job for the finals. We need more comedy on the field!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Rediscovering an old interest

I was looking through some of my old stuff to eBay off when I found some old CDs that I haven't listened in a while. Those were when I was a huge Thrash Metal fan. I immediately ripped them on the computer, while the telly was blaring the season finale of Desperate Housewives (how vain), and installed them onto my DAP. Ah, the memories of Master of Puppets.

You see a few years ago, before Metallica decided to sue everybody, I was a huge fan of their old school material (pre-Black albums), and Master of Puppets was my favourite album. Who wouldn't say that with classic tracks like Orion, Battery, Welcome Home (Sanitarium), Leper Messiah and Damage Inc. Their stuff led me to Slayer, Megadeth, Exodus, Dark Angel, Anthrax, Sodom, Destruction, Testament, Suicidal Tendancies and a disliking for organised religion.

I looked through some of my old collection, on CDs and MiniDiscs. Back then I listened to most sub-genres of Metal including Black Metal (Emperor, Celtic Frost), Grindcore (Carcass, Napalm Death), Industrial (Ministry), Doom (Anathema) and Death Metal (Morbid Angel - ooo... I even still have Sailor Moon fan Trey Azagthoth's pink guitar plectrum). I even found some old stuff of Suffolk's most famous gothic band - Cradle of Filth.

I am quite busy ripping most of them up. Ah, the joy of rediscovering an old interest that you once thought you grew out. But at least this time I am open minded enough to enjoy them alongside other non agressive music.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Music Review: Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan OST

This is going to be a weird review of Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan, because I am not reviewing the game (10/10 BTW) but the soundtrack. It is even weirder because there are no official soundtrack for this game.

Because of the way the game is played, the only way you would be able to listen to the music is by playing through them EACH time. It is a rewarding experience though and each time you will be presented with catchy J-pop hit songs.

The songs are apparently well known J-pop hits. I have no idea since the only bands I have slight knowledge of is Asian Kung-fu Generation, Morning Musume (this weird stereotyped girly group) and L'Arc~en~Ciel (best known in the West for their Fullmetal Alchemist themes). But it doesn't matter. These songs were chosen by iNiS for the game for a reason - because it suits the gameplay and because they are good (well most of them anyway).

According Eurogamer the music on Ouendan are covers (ie. not having to pay royalties to the original artists) but having listened to the original versions I tip my hat to the soundalikes. The covers are extremely accurate and just as enjoyable as the originals.

The following are the track list with the original artist(s), the title of the track and in bracket the game level:

Asian Kung-fu Generation - Loop & Loop (Exam Crisis!)

- Asian Kung-fu Generation is one of those bands that people who has the slightest interest in punk would know about. Loop & Loop is one of the better known singles and is pretty accessible (ie. radio friendly). This is the first 'track' of Ouendan and a great 'opening theme'.

175R - Melody (Matsuri Competition)

- According to some, Melody as featured in Ouendan is an original 175R recording. No idea really. I can't refer to the manual to verify otherwise since I lack Japanese linguistic skills. A nice and catchy 'anime-like' J-rock track.

Morning Musume - Koi no Dance Site (Secretary's Busy day)

- A secretary, as the title implies is having an extremely busy day. All those hard work and the fact that she is has an eye for the boss meant loads of stress. What better situation to call male cheerleaders for? And Morning Musume's well known and outrageous Koi no Dance Site, an ultra melodic J-pop tune, is perfect for this, no?

Ulfuls - Guts da ze!! (Bandit-nabbing Horserace)

- Ah, if only this is the soundtrack to this year's Ascot, I wouldn't be laughing at the weird looking people on BBC News. A typical melodic J-rock number, this has enough rhythm that totally suits the style of the game.

The Blue Hearts - Linda Linda (The Ramen Stall)

- The track here is a punk number and contains a pretty enjoyable drumming piece. Nice one.

Tomoyasu Hotei - Thrill (Dodgeball Crush)

- The track begins with like ten 'Baby baby' etc. before settling into a pretty pace J-rock. Tomoyasu Hotei is one of Japan's best known rocker and if I were you I will check out his past catalogues.

nobodyknows+ - Kokoro Odoru (Pottery Master)

- A fast paced J-pop number. A perfect track for a rhythm game like Ouendan. Kokoro Odoru is a mixture of pop, dance and hip-hop. It is pretty weird listening to Japanese hip-hop, but it was easier to listen that the other crap hip-hop artists currently populating British charts.

B'z - Atsuki Kodō no Hate (Teacher's Dilemma)

- The intro to this is wonderful. The track is slow paced and the game reflects that but halfway through it increases in speed which could ruined my game a few times.

Linda Yamamoto - Neraiuchi (Cleopatra's Pyramid)

- Wow, I just love this track. The soundalike's (and the original artist) voice is great. A couple of beats here and there that flows with Ouendan.

Kishidan - One Night Carnival (Violinist)

- One of the weaker tracks chosen for the game. It isn't bad per se, but it is a pretty generic inclusion - that doesn't seem to fit the game. It is great for rock fans like me, but somehow this seems to defeat the purpose. Fortunately the music is good as a standalone track.

Road of Major - Taisetsu na Mono (Election for Mayor!)

- This is more like it. A track that seems to be built around the game, I am glad that iNiS included this J-rock piece. Plus I like the riffing.

Hitomi Yaida - Over The Distance (Ghost Love Story)

- I love this track. I really do. A fitting song for the scene (Ghost Love Story). Hitomi Yaida shows how powerballads/rock is supposed to be done. Dido, get out of your rut and learn to sing like her.

Orange Range - Shanghai Honey (Policemen Vs Robots)

- A feel good J-rock track, this has a mixture of rock and hip-hop in it, and a lovely set of backing vocals.

The Yellow Monkey - Taiyō ga Moete iru (Mutant Rat Attack!)

- Another weak track. It is good enough for an Ouendan style rhythm game but somehow the track was boring and bland.

L'Arc~en~Ciel - Ready Steady Go (End of the World?)

The failed casting for the Final Fantasy VII Advent Children film

- This was one of Fullmetal Alchemist opening theme and is the perfect closure to the game. I can't think an equivalent Western band that performs in a similar style but you can say that the track blends cues from Swedish metal, Glam metal (post Antichrist Superstar Marilyn Manson), alternative rock (Foo Fighters) and the melodies of typical J-pop/J-rock.

I hope that iNiS would find a publisher and release an official Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan soundtrack featuring both soundalikes and originals. Sometimes I wish to listen to some of the music but having to whip the DS out just to play through the game in order to listen to the music can be wearisome.

iNiS has also announced the western remake of the game (some call it a sequel, I call it a remake just like Hollywood calls Naomi Watt's The Ring as a remake of Ringu) which will feature a complete 'Westernised' soundtrack. One just wonder whether it would work. I hope they do find music that fits the style of Ouendan.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Help needed: used or new bike

Jennifer's new found enthusiasm for bikes (blame her mates) has made me think twice about finally getting a new bike. Unfortunately like all tech stuff, bikes has come a long way since - and I haven't kept up with biking lark of late! The last time I went for a light trail was what, ten years ago I believe. So excuse the newb lingo.

The bike will be mainly for commuting (ie. city use) with the occasional off-road excursion. No touring, no jumping. I am thinking of course of getting a mountain bike with at least a front suspension. Because I do not want to trudge a bike from London to Brighton and back again, I will probably just leave the bike in Brighton, at least for the summer.

Because our budget isn't as high as those of say, a biking enthusiast, the frame would have to be steel of course. Right now the Raleigh Explore RS MATT with steel frame and full suspension comes in at £130. Or should I forgo the back suspension and get the Raleigh Freeride LX with aluminium frame for 30 quid extra? Please excuse the laughable budget.

Any ideas? Should I even get a hybrid? Even £150 is pushing it so used bikes are of course preferable than new ones (I saw a Carrera Fury going for £170), and any suggestions of a reputable second hand dealer in London and/or Brighton who doesn't deal with stolen bikes is greatly appreciated. I won't need a 'proper' mountain bike yet though. Just enough to get back into biking. Cheers.

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Monday, June 19, 2006

Food Review: Carluccio's

We went to Carluccio's over the weekend. I will cut to the chase and just post come pictures okay since that is what a good blogger would do.

Chocolate hazelnut Danish from the front deli. Nothing fantastic to write about except that it has a liberal amount of chocolate in it and is average priced.

Penne alla Luganica, featuring tubes of pasta and a layer of spicy sausage sauce. Distinctively average and nothing fantastic about it.

This Penne Giardiniera is something different and not common. Giant Pugliese penne with courgette chilli and fantastic deep-fried spinach balls with parmesan and garlic. A snip at £6.75. I would recommend this to anyone.

Portions were pretty average as far as Italian meals goes and it seems that some of the pasta isn't that special - a common trait of chain Italians. We were lucky I guess. Too bad the furnishing sucks.

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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Pictures pictures pictures

More pictures of the London to Brighton bike ride.


We also went to GAME and checked out on of the worker's ice blue DS Lite. Nice one. They only had a non-working demo there so this guy was trying to sell pre-orders by using his own personal DS Lite.

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London to Brighton bike ride 2006

Got up this morning and noticed a bunch of cyclists outside Jennifer's flat. I forgot but it turned out that the annual London to Brighton bike ride was today. I always wanted to join but always forget to purchase a new bike.

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Club Nintendo Japan shames Nintendo of Europe

I really need to make friends with club Nintendo members. Nintendo of Europe's VIP point system has potential - if only we could trade our points with something as cool as those in Japan (see below). All we have now are mobile phone tunes for 350 points (to put into perspective, each game purchase gives you only 250 points), mobile phone wallpapers and the occasional giveaways (which aren't that fantastic).

Club Nintendo Japan

Nintendo of Europe VIP Stars Catalogue

Nevermind, there is always eBay.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Toy Review: Aerobie Sprint

Yay, the sun is back after two days of miserable rain.

Here is a frisbee variant called the Aerobie Sprint that we recently acquired. Last week was my first time playing with Aerobies so it took some getting used especially after years of familiarity with traditional flying discs. It flew significantly farther and also the trajectory was different. We had fun and will probably do so again this evening.

Maybe with a jug of Pimm's too.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Food Review: Gourmet Burger Kitchen

Over the weekend we tried out the recently opened (just last week) Gourmet Burger Kitchen down at Gardner Street, Brighton (part of the Laines area).

Interiors are alright and fits the market easily. It is stylish but isn't over furnished. You will feel quite comfortable here.

We had to order from the bar which was alright with us. Waiting for a server can be a chore. Anything to keep the price low.

They call them GBK fries, I call them chips. Thickly cut as they should be, the chips aren't oily or too crispy. Not salted or anything too! You do that yourself. A little bit pricey at £2.25 a bowl.

The cheese burger: 100% Aberdeen-Angus Scotch beef, aged cheddar with salad & relish. A snip at £6.25. The meat was cooked medium-rare and juicy. Relish has a hint of spice. Fantastic.

Fresh lamb with mint relish and salad for £6.95. Juicy too.

The GBK milkshake (£2.80) isn't as lovely as those malt shakes found at Soho's Ed's Easy Diner. We had a complimentary 'Satay' sauce (£1.25) due to a mixup with our drinks. It isn't authentic but it is still tasty. Works with both chips and burgers.

GBK is one of the better burger bar you can find at a reasonable price. It easily beats other burger gastros such as Tootsies. Of course the best burgers are the one we cook ourselves. The burgers are at least chunky and the chips are reasonably portioned. You may have to share them if you couldn't stomach them.

We wouldn't mind a second visit but we have to think about sharing. Plus I would love to try out the rarer stuff like Venison and veggie burgers.

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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Asymmetric spin

Wow. You can only trust the US military to come up with this level of spin.

Suicide = Asymmetric warfare

The mind boggles.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


We were in town today, first sunbathing then taking advantage of the Yo! Sushi half price takeaway offer. At around 4.30pm we were walking through the high street, when I noticed that there weren't any celebrations by England fans.

No trumpets or anything. Pubs were empty. No dancing on the streets. No "Eng-ger-land". We speculated much of the time whether England lost (or drew) or won through an appalling performance. When we got back at 6pm I checked the BBCand found out that while England did win, they won by pure luck (own goal).

An ironic display of elation (image source: BBC News)

LOL. Anyway I won't judge since I did not watch the match but the England team should just shut up and stop talking about beating Brazil if they intent on going through the first round.

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Summer sunshine

Ah, bless the sun. 31C forecasted too. Best excuse yet to get away from the World Cup. Will be topping up my tan ready for summer.

And with beer too.

Apple buying Ninty: no fucking way

There are rumours on the web that a Nintendo buyout from Apple is likely. This rumour started from a baseless conjecture piece by an iPod fanboy journalist at CNet. Let me state that I think it is bull and it will never happen.

Nintendo is making money. Even with the GameCube. Apple's current cashcow is the iPod, a lucky stumble which they have taken advantage of. I doubt that even that would be sustainable. They can only re-release overpriced MP3 player so many times before consumers start to realise they are taking for a ride.

Sure Nintendo also re-release stuff but only if it is affordable. Case point - the new DS Lite when released in the UK would only cost £99 - the same price the old DS debuted a year ago. It retains the same goal - to play games. The iPods on the other hand keeps getting bloated and receive unnecessary features. Didn't Steve Jobs said once that people did not want portable video?

There are quite a few proponents to a Apple/Nintendo buy-out, mainly by Apple fanboys who probably wants more games on their Mac platform. What they don't realise is that Nintendo (along with Sega) has one of the most loyal and vocal fanbase in the video gaming industry. And many would like to see Nintendo remain an independent game provider company.

Some has pointed out that Nintendo's current strategy is similar to Apple's. I doubt so. Apple is a tech company. They are interested in numbers and the spinning the whole 'image issue' to the consumers. Sure Nintendo spins too and their numbers are always interesting (how the 'kiddie' DS is killing the PSP) but they never overestimate their products. Apple and Sony merge is a more likely outcome. Steve Jobs and Ken Kutaragi compliments each other.

The article at CNet tried to establish the design links between Apple and Nintendo. Well colour me surprise, I did not know that Apple created minimalism. Show me the US patent link to Apple's application to own the colour white. I bet you couldn't. Sure Nintendo is now following the path that Apple made popular but the whole world is. It is a revival of the post-modernism period of minimalism.

The first iPod, if anyone remember, was the polar opposite to minimalism amd even then, there were already many Japanese devices which designs were minimalist. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe would turn in his grave. Less is more my arse. In fact the whole minimalist movement began many years ago influenced by the Japanese. You could even argue that Apple took cues from the zen Japanese design and incorporated them into their later product designs.

There will be many pissed off fans out there if Apple ever buys Nintendo. Even for someone like me who just got back into gaming, would just quit if something like this happens. No, it isn't just Apple. Cisco, Microsoft etc. - all should just forget about it.

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Thursday, June 8, 2006

Brain Age drawings

Brain Age Drawings

One of the more popular mini games of Brain Age/Brain Training is the drawing from memory test.

Basically at random points, the disembodied head of Professor Kawashima will ask you to draw from memory, three pictures of well known figures, arts, animals etc. As you can see from my attempt at "The Thinker", the results can be pretty hilarious.

Check out some of my and other fellow Brain Age enthusiasts drawings on the Brain Age drawings flickr pool.

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Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Music Review: The Kooks - Inside Out/Inside In

The Kook's Inside In/Inside Out is one of the best debut album this year and easily edge out the overhyped Arctic Monkeys when it came to making an impression - at least to me.

Inside In/Inside Out is pretty easy on the ears and is perfect for the coming summer where lazy music is must. Their brand of indie pop isn't as edgy as say The Killers but variety is important for me so I won't complain. :)

While the music isn't overtly original and their brand of indie pop is pretty radio friendly, that doesn't mean it isn't good. It just mean it isn't original but no matter, if you love bands like Supergrass and The Libertines then Inside In/Inside Out deserves a chance. Tracks like Seaside, Eddie's Gun and Naive will put a smile on your face.

Fortunately the Brighton based band did not suffer the same hype that surrounded the Arctic Monkeys. And despite not being a commercial success, the album should at least be a proof of concept of the great things that will come from the band.

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Nintendo DS Lite (Japanese Import Enamel Navy) review

Update (14/06): added some comparison pictures

After about two months of usage I have decided that I had enough experience to pen down my DS Lite review on the eve of the UK release (about two weeks to go folks!). Read my first impression here. Note that this review is based on a Japanese import device (enamel navy variant) but the European version should be 99.9% identical.


Shoulder buttons are only slightly smaller. (DS courtesy of MoMo)

The DS Lite is small. I mean like really small. While you may find yourself embarrassed to whip out an old DS when traveling on the Tube, with the DS Lite you won't have that excuse anymore. I have no problems with the size although people with big palms may. It also happened to be smaller than the DS Lite's main rival - Sony's PSP (although the PSP has a larger screen). However while it is small, it is still considerable bigger when compared to Nintendo's last generation portable machines - the Gameboy Advance SP and Gameboy micro.

It is only slightly bigger than a Game & Watch. Seriously! (Mickey Mouse G&W courtesy of Jennifer)


While the DS Lite is lighter than the old DS, it somehow feels heavier in my hands. This is probably due to the weight distribution and the fact that it seems more 'solid'. It feels nice and comfortable. You won't have a problem playing on this.


X, Y, A, B = button mashing aplenty

The DS Lite buttons are based on the Gameboy micro buttons. The d-pad has gotten a little bit smaller which may pose problems with people who has large fingers. It is based on the same streamlined design featured on the Gameboy micro as well as the WiiMote.

The buttons aren't as clicky as the those on the old DS and has a nice spongy feel to them. Also note that the power button has moved to the side and is now a Sony style flip switch. This is to prevent accidental power offs. It isn't perfect though. The power switch once got caught by a stray thread inside my jacket, which turned my DS Lite off - thus wiping out my previous standby!


The glossy finish, while nice to look at, may pose a problem to those who like their device all clean. The fact is the DS Lite, with its two layer finish (colour on the bottom and clear finish on the top), is a fingerprint magnet. This is a similar problem experienced by Sony PSP owners. If fingerprints are an issue get the white version. I do hope Nintendo will release a matte magnesium version.

MKDS! Yah-hoo!


Probably the single biggest reason to upgrade are the new and improved screens. Both the backlit screens have four level brightness setting with the lowest similar to that of the old DS. The colour saturation is wonderful and you will find that every games sports a level of clarity not seen on the old DS. Colours are now vibrant whereas on the old DS colours were washed out.

Full Brightness Lite Vs Only Brightness DS.

I have no idea if the screens are transreflective or reflective but at the highest brightness you will have no problem playing outdoors. Playing under the sun however is still impossible.

Pixel perfection: Ouendan!!!

Unfortunately there are reports that some DS Lites are marred by 'dead' pixels. Both mine and Jennifer's has no dead pixels although both of ours are suffering from what I call 'semi-dead' pixel. The pixel work fine and changes colour accordingly, but somehow light from the backlit can be seen through the pixel edge. It can get annoying especially in certain situations in Animal Crossing: Wild World (where the top screen is void of any action).

Nintendo of America has a no question ask dead pixel return policy but I doubt retailers in Europe would honour such complaints. Best to check your retailer's return policy or ask that the unit be tested BEFORE you hand over your money.

Battery Life

With the new brighter screens battery life will take a hit if you decide to leave the brightness setting at its highest. Nintendo quoted 5-9 hours of battery life at the brightest setting. While I have no way of proving their quote, I find myself only needing to charge the Lite once every 2-3 days. That is pretty good. At the lowest brightness setting the battery seems to last much longer than the batteries on the old DS.

Note that the DS Lite uses a differently shaped battery (due to its larger capacity) to the old DS and that the charging slot is different to the old DS and Gameboy micro's charging slot. A mark down for Nintendo's insistent on using proprietary charging slots.


Top to Bottom: HTC Wizard, HTC Magician, DS Lite, Cross Micropen for Palm V/m5xx (all stock stylus except for the Cross Micropen)

The stylus silo has moved to the side of the body and is now much larger. The new stylus is similar to a Palm V stylus in terms of thickness although it is slightly shorter. Apart from that there is nothing to rave about the stylus. It is made of cheap plastic and the finish matches the colour of the DS Lite. A spare stylus is also included.


The DS Lite has the usual quality stereo speakers embedded into the top lid and rivals that of a even an average priced notebook speakers. Unfortunately the sound isn't as loud but it works just fine (you can always connect to an external speaker like what I did in the picture below). You can even use the DS Lite as a portable DAP player if you wish (provided you have a GBA flash cart).

Super Mario Bros speaker not included! (Mario speaker courtesy of Jennifer)

GBA slot

As you have probably known by now, while the GBA slot retains full compatibility with all Gameboy Advance cartridge and accessories, it is now about half the size. About 1cm of a normal GBA cart will protrude out. With an old DS you can slot in an old GBA cart to keep the dust out but doing so on the Lite will ruin the streamlined look.

It's dinky. And it comes with matching colour too!

Fortunately Nintendo bundled a GBA filter cart that covers the new slot. It even has connectors inside them to provide a better fit! Contrary to popular belief the GBA filter cart has no working electronic hardware inside them. It is merely a piece of plastic to keep dirt out.


All Nintendo DS Lite systems are compatible with Gameboy Advance games and Nintendo DS games from Japan, North America and Europe. I am a little concern that the huge Warioware Twisted cart may not work properly due to its size (it may just fling out during gaming). Anyone care to confirm? Apart from that they should all work fine. Even the original Rumble Pak works on the Lite.

Zelda Minish Cap. Best. GBA. Game. Ever. Works on the DS Lite too.


While the Japanese got three colours, we in Europe would only be getting two colours, which while is still a little stingy, is at least one more than Americans and Aussies would be getting. Yes folks, Europe would also be getting black - officially now the most sought after DS Lite variant - and the normal white version. There are now four variants of the DS Lite:

White - Japan, North America, Europe, Australia
Black - Europe exclusive
Ice Blue - Japan exclusive
Enamel Navy - Japan exclusive

I hate speculating but I am sure we will eventually see more DS Lite variants on the market. My hope is too eventually buy a Zelda gold or Mario Kart red DS Lite.

Old DS

If you care about your Mario Kart or Metroid Prime Hunters record, DO NOT trade in your old DS until you have the chance to transfer your WiFi ID to your spanking new DS Lite. It is pretty easy to transfer the ID but if you have problems check out this excellent guide by 4colorrebellion.

CEX is also buying old DS for a mind boggling 45 squid CASH which is more than the £40 trade in value that GAME is offering. Last I checked eBay DSes were going for roughly £30-35 so its best to just sell it to CEX. Hopefully CEX will keep buying back old DSes well after the Lite is released.

No DS yet?

What are you waiting for?

PSP owner

CEX them and use the funds towards your DS Lite purchase.

Two months later

The outside case is now pretty much dominated by scuffs but isn't a huge issue to me. You can always buy a polisher from your local hardware store. On the inside the paint seems to be exhibiting signs of wear. especially the area around the d-pad and face buttons. Again not really an issue for me. Buttons are as spongy as ever and still plays great.


Any objections?

If you are a fan of portable gaming there is NO reason not to get a DS Lite. If you have a DS then you should eventually upgrade to the new Lite. It is criminal not to. If you are one of those who constantly moaned that the old DS was too 'kiddie', well your criticism has become invalid. Games are hardly kiddies especially with softwares like Brain Training, Trauma Center and Phoenix Wright clearly targeted at adults.

Better spongy face buttons
Beautiful and brighter screen
New slimmer and lighter design
Battery life improvement
Better stylus

Glossy look (fingerprint magnet)
GBA carts stick out