Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Religious nutters complains about swine flu

Religious nutters are funny. Rather than trying to see what they can do to help, they rather complain about the none-kosher nature of the term 'swine flu'. Perhaps sensibly, the whole world is ignoring their ridiculous plea and concentrating more on creating panic instead. Bunch of nut-jobs...
"We will call it Mexico flu. We won’t call it swine flu," Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman, a black-garbed Orthodox Jew, told a news conference Monday, assuring the Israeli public that authorities were prepared to handle any cases.
Anyway, here's a rather cute desktop wallpaper I found on the net of those poor little swines. They don't look that concern of having an alleged pandemic-capable flu named after their species. Awww...

Tekken 6 and Soulcalibur for PSP

Tekken: Dark Resurrection was one of the better fighters on the PSP. In fact it is the only fighter title worth considering if you are not into retro fighters. Which is a darn shame considering the title is almost three years old.

Well wait no more. According to the internet, Namco is releasing Tekken 6 (and Bloodline Rebellion) for the PSP, which they promise will contain plenty of those features unique to the PS3 version. This includes character customisation and ad-hoc wireless multiplayer.

Better yet is the announcement of Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny. Unlike the broken Wii abomination Soulcalibur Legends, the PSP game here is said to be based on Soulcalibur IV, which I found to be a rather nice game. It will also apparently feature ad-hoc wireless multiplayer.

Now, what about a decent portable Street Fighter for a change, Capcom?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Camera Obscura's My Maudlin Career and Shepherd Bush's Empire gig review

I have always felt shameful that not too many people have heard of the band Camera Obscura. Formed in 1996, this Glaswegian twee band is known for their country/indie pop 'romantic' music laced with the sweet voice of band co-founder and singer songwriter Tracyanne Campbell, but always sadly lurking in the shadows of Belle & Sebastian, which I find rather disgraceful. Camera Obscura rarely plays in London. In fact they are more popular outside of Britain, evident by the number of fans from different countries attending last night's gig at the Shepherd's Bush Empire in support of their new album My Maudlin Career.

My Maudlin Career is yet another wonderful album. Personally I can't see the band ever churning out any bad albums or songs. The album is a lot more mature sounding than their previous albums and it did take me by surprise by how mellow it sounded in comparison to Let's Get Out of this Country. Delve deeper and you will find all the usual melodramatic and depressing lyrics, no matter how 'happy' or 60s they sound. Having listened to it for tens of times, this is now my second favourite Camera Obscura album, just behind the classic that was Let's Get Out of this Country, and easily the best indie pop album I have heard this year. Short review: it's great, go buy it.

Anyway, onto the gig at Shepherd's Bush Empire. With guitarist Fránçois of Bristol based fránçois and the Atlas Mountain, Camera Obscura went through a set list consisting of a number of songs from My Maudlin Career and Let's Get Out of this Country. Despite the set consisting mainly of songs from the new album, the fans were well versed. You could tell when they are stumbling to get into groove with some of the lesser known tracks. The title track, "My Maudlin Career", the track given away for free from their website back in February, was the first one up, followed by the soft melancholy "Tears for the Sun" from Let's Get Out of this Country. The upbeat and infectious "Honey in the Sun" was next, with its brilliant use of trumpets getting the crowd moving. Even the big-haired pro-photographer down the front was grooving along as he recorded a video on his SLR.

The choice to include "French Navy" in the set is a no brainer considering it is the first single off the album. It also happens to be the first track from My Maudlin Career, which I thought was a wise choice as it is a rather lively song and great lyrics ("You make me go uuuh, with the things that you do"). "James" is a perfect example of a very Tracyanne song. With lyrics like "Oh James, you broke me... I thought I knew you well" reminds us all why we love the band as much as we do, even as Tracyanne laments this alleged James. Then it was the country (and beautiful) "Forest and Sands" followed by "Swans" with its mocking "Oh you want to be a writer, fantastic idea" lyrics. Brilliant.

It is back to fan favourite, "Lloyd, I'm Ready to be Heartbroken" of the last album, a song that is as sunny on the outside even if you are ready to be heartbroken and response to "Are You Ready to Be Heartbroken?" by Lloyd Cole. The assault from Let's Get Out of this Country continues with the up-beat "If Looks Could Kill" and melancholy "Country Mile", whose wrenching lyrics takes you down. While I won't be doing it anytime soon, Tracyanne is just prepared to trade her mother to see hear her sing with "The Sweetest Thing", which while good was one of the more unforgettable songs from My Maudlin Career, in my opinion of course.

"You Told a Lie" which comes right after "The Sweetest Thing", just like in the album, is definitely the highlight of My Maudlin Career, as Tracyanne continues lamenting with "Who was it that said that love conquers all? Oh he was a fool cause it doesn't add up". The set ends just like how Let's Get Out of this Country ends, with the exhilarating rendition of "Razzle Dazzle Rose", a classic song. The encore consists of two fairly popular favourites - "Eighties Fan", the song that brought them the attention through association with Stuart Murdoch of Belle & Sebastian from their debut album Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi (with nothing else from the first two albums) and the quality indie pop title track from "Let's Get Out of this Country".

Buy the album now from or

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Patapon 2 US retail a waste of money and space

In case you are wondering, this is what you get when you walk into a North American store and purchase Patapon 2. Basically a box, a manual and a voucher to redeem and download the game from the PSN store where it actually resides. Now, I understand the necessity of digital distribution, but when someone is willing to walk to a retail store to purchase his or her game (and pay more for it), that is what they should expect - the game and the ability to play it straight away. This whole pointless exercise defeats the purpose of both retail and digital download games. Not to mention what a waste of plastic and paper (the manual can be embedded in the game) just to purchase a one-off voucher. Wasn't the point of digital downloads to cut the middle man? I am willing to bet good money that there won't be any free WiFi access in most shops for customers to download the game from.

I think this experiment has more to do with appeasing to the retail shops like GameStop and Walmart than it is to Sony's customers. It really boggles the mind what goes on in the brain of those geniuses who runs SCEA. Just sell the physical games at retail and increase the amount of downloadable games at PSN, at a cheaper price.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Audio Technica ATH-SJ5 headphone review

Audio Technica's ATH-SJ5 is a budget supraural DJ-style portable headphones. The design is very typical Audio Technica and, though not as eye catching as the ATH-ES7, is still a very stylish headphone to look at. I wouldn't think that anyone would be embarrassed to be seen wearing it.

Like other portable headphones such as the Sennheiser PX 200, Grado SR60 and the more expensive ES7, the SJ5 is foldable. This makes transporting the headphone a far more convenient process than most full size headphones. It is a shame that no carry case is included. Also with an impedance rating of 32ohms, the SJ5 is an ideal headphone for music lovers not wishing to carry an additional external amp and has no love for intra-aural canalphones.

The build quality is good enough (at its price range). While primarily made of plastic with dashes of metal, the SJ5 is solidly well built and does seem to be capable of standing up to the abuse of everyday listening. The headband is simple and isn't too thick to give the wearer any hair issues. The folding hinges is also solidly build, and I have not encountered any problems with the folding mechanism yet. The cord is the ideal lenght for portability, but is also rather thin.

I found the SJ5 to be very comfortable to wear for long periods of time. The supraural earcups are made of faux leather, I believe, and sits well on my ears. They also do not exert much clamping pressure on the ears. The headband is also easily adjustable. Each of the headphone housing is flexible and can be swivelled, ideal for monitoring.

Having gotten used to IEMs in recent years, it took me some time to appreciate the sound of a mid-sized headphone. There is an adequate amount of bass. The bass response isn't bloated, in fact it is clear and tight, if a bit slow. More importantly it does not overwhelm the mids, which are very warm sounding and detailed. The highs on the other hand suffers from some roll-off, though not as much as I expected. Overall I have to say that the SJ5's output is detailed with all around good clarity. They do not leak as much sound as I thought, which is a blessing on the Tube, but they also do not isolate well (duh). However I personally would have preferred a slightly warmer sound signature.

Like every other Audio Technica headphones, they are quite a bit more expensive overseas (around £45 in the UK) and you do not get much (basically just the headphone and nothing else). The SJ5 is lightweight and offers an acceptable sound quality, whilst also being slightly cheaper than other similarly spec'ed headphones. I consider these a bargain if you can find them for in Japan (as low as US$35), but I suggest checking out their competitors first before plucking down nearly double in import tax.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

More on Sony über Walkman X1000 series

The Japanese version, NW-X1060 will be out next week. Pre-order details at which includes both black and red versions, plus an aluminium version exclusive to Sony Style Japan. The NW version is rumoured to have both Sonicstage and UMS transfer technology (Sonicstage for Atrac3 files, UMS for drag and dropping MP3 files).

The UK release of the NWZ-X1000 series is next month. No additional colours has been announced yet. The 32GB X1060 is available for pre-order for £249.99 and the 16GB X1050 for £199.99.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


A parcel was sent to me on the 2nd of April. Through the fault of the shop in question, no delivery info was issued, so I didn't actually know about it until I called them today.

Today I complained to the shop and was issued a consignment ID where I was able to track the parcel in question. According to Parcelforce, the parcel was delivered on the 6th of April and signed by me! I was not at the time and the signature was false! After calling my neighbours I eventually located the parcel which was left outside our flat. Pretty damn of irresponsible of Parcelforce if you ask me. What is the fucking point of using a courier company if the delivery man falsifies the record and leave the parcel outside the customer's door for opportunistic thief to pick up and go?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Shadow of the Colossus

Dear Hollywood,

Please please do not adapt Shadow of the Colossus into a movie. You know you are just going to ruin it.

Many thanks,

A Team ICO fan

Video of police assaulting Ian Tomlinson

The Guardian has published a video of police assaulting Ian Tomlinson, the man who died in last week's G20 demonstration, allegedly due to a heart attack. He was an innocent bystander who was walking home from work and was not participating in the protest.

The video clearly shows how the masked thugs, sorry, police has deliberately targeted and assaulted him, first with a baton and then pushing him over to the ground. This despite Mr. Tomlinson walking away from the police, unarmed and defenseless. A scene by scene analysis is available here.

Sadly I doubt anything will come out of this and the IPCC will whitewash this like they do with others. Anybody who thinks otherwise is just kidding themselves. Remember Jean Charles de Menezes? Why do you think the authorities are doing their best to ban public photography?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Patapon 2 mini-review

The sequel to one of the most original game of last year is equally as joyful as its predecessor. Patapon 2 features some new features that ought to satisfy fans of the first game as well gain new ones.

The gameplay of the first game has been retained. The idea remains that the control of your small army is through beating the face buttons in rhythms. A certain combination of buttons will signify a different action such as 'advance', 'attack' or 'defend'. Do so long enough without any mistakes and your Patapons will go into 'Fever' mode, where their stats are enhanced. Of course keeping your Patapon's rhythm won't work unless you plan ahead and like any good RPG, you should plan ahead. Enemies have different weaknesses and weather can play a role into the strategy you form. Placing your archers at the back will usually work, but not always.

It isn't all old though. New Patapons are available to be unlocked and there is the usual plethora of mini-games. In addition to that there is the Patapon Heropon who is able to perform special attacks during 'Fever' mode. The Heropon's class can also be switch before each mission. Also new in this version includes a multiplayer mode that involves giant eggs where four players must defend the egg from an onslaught of multiplayer enemies, whilst moving it to a egg-hatching thingy. Once placed, the egg must be hatched through the synchronising the rhythm.

Patapon 2 at a glance is more or less the same game, and there is nothing wrong with that. I believe those new to the franchise will the title to be a delight and veterans of the first game will find adequate amount of new features on offer. It is superbly priced and can be had only £14.99 or $24.99 when released in the US next month.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Rioting police

Had plans to visit the G20 Climate Camp protest but didn't manage to, which is sort of a blessing considering how the police decided to attack the peaceful protesters there.

In the video above you will witness how the plod, with full riot gears, decided to lay waste on the campers. The demonstrators can be seen holding their arms in the air calling out "this is not a riot" while the coppers continue beating them with batons in the unprovoked attack. The people whom the police decided to take their aggression on indiscriminately (probably under the direction of their banker masters) were defenseless and includes the children and the elderly.

Land of the free indeed.