Geek Smithology

December 28, 2008

I ♥ my Time Capsule[1]

Filed under: Grab Bag by Nathan @ 10:16 am

A little way back I purchased a Time Capsule, Apple’s ingenious backup device. Not only is it beautiful (mmmm, white square with a silver apple on it…) but it manages to stay out of my way while I use my computer. Like many computer users out there, I have shoe boxes full of floppy disks, spools of CD’s and even weird proprietary pieces of plastic full of Zip disks from previous backups. These backups were ad hoc, unscheduled, unverified, and never used. Oh sure, I had a hard drive crash once, but none of my “backups” were useful at all, so I just laboriously attempted to recover everything off of that disk.

Now, you might say “sure, Mr. Fancy-Pants, you have this nice beautiful hermetically sealed and aesthetically pleasing device making little to no noise on that desk in your basement, but does it work?”


I got a little overzealous with some photo editing/changing, etc the other day and, well, lost a bunch of pictures. This caused me great angst for about 79 seconds when I suddenly realized, “Hey, I have backups of this stuff” And I did!

What was almost as interesting as the backup story was the restore, uh, story. iPhoto itself has “Browse Backups” option that goes into an iPhoto specific version of Time Machine. You can browse through in the standard way, select the pictures you want to restore (yeah, that’s right, select the pictures you want to restore) and then click “restore all”. iPhoto does an import, you have your stuff back, “BOOM!”.

I know there are some people who aren’t fans of the Time Capsule, and I weep for them, because for me, it a joyous thing to behold.

[1] If you don’t see a heart in the title of this post, fix your character encoding settings!

December 24, 2008

Why the new Podcast functions on the iPhone suck

Filed under: Grab Bag by Nathan @ 10:25 am

Okay, I love my iPhone, but one thing it’s always done a really shitty job with is podcasts. Mostly it would refuse to honour the play count, so it wouldn’t always ditch the ones I had already listened to, and then they’d be on there after I synced, and in my OCD little world over over-organizing everything, this just didn’t do.

Then came the 2.2 software update, promising the ability to delete podcasts from the phone, and even download new episodes. This is genius!

Except that it’s not. And it kinda sucks. First off, deleting podcasts doesn’t really delete the podcasts. In fact, sometimes they just come back, much like the play count would suddenly be erased without warning. And more annoying, when you plug into iTunes, it makes sure that all of them are still there. Assuming I have “Allow Auto Delete” set for these podcasts (I do, but those setting aren’t always honoured either, but that’s a whole different rant), you’d expect them to be, uh deleted. But they aren’t, they just show as having been played. Lame.

Second, downloading new episodes just takes you to the iTunes music store. Sometimes it goes to the page of the podcast you are attempting to find new episodes of, sometimes it doesn’t. What I want to do is say “get new episodes” and have it check the feed, and ask me which (if any) of the new episodes I would like to list. I mean, what about podcasts that aren’t in the iTunes store (that I have to subscribe to using the “Advanced” menu option.)?

So, uh, how ’bout you take a Mulligan on this one Apple, and try to get it right for 2.3?

December 21, 2008

Why Tomb Raider Legend sucks.

Filed under: Grab Bag by Nathan @ 9:34 am

I’ve been a fan of the Tomb Raider franchise pretty much from the beginning – I played the first one, reviewed the second one (played on the late great Gravis gamepad – the one with the (completely useless) mini-joystick that you could screw into the d-pad), but then got less interested as the games decayed into dreck.

Then came Legend. A new creative team, a return to what made the game great in the first place. And for the vast majority of the time, it really delivers: more “tombs” to raid instead of stupid cities (although the big city level, set in Tokyo, is excellent), a ton of acrobatic action, interesting puzzles that don’t require a walk-through, and pretty stellar graphics (although the “next-gen” content was too freaky looking for my taste.

Because I’ve been accused of destroying the pending enjoyment of two-year-old games in the past, let me just say…SPOILERS AHEAD (kinda.)

Here’s the thing – after a really fun game, it all goes to hell right at the end. I mean, it completely destroys the experience. Like you’re eating a chocolate eclair and just as your about to finish it you realize that not only was there a hair on it, but that it was actually made of poop. After a silly “interactive” cut scene[1] you’re dropped into a fight against a ridiculously large number of enemies. This content seems to have been created for the sole purpose of sucking up all of your first aid kits and taking away as much health as possible. When you dispatch the hoi polloi, you are suddenly faced with a giant monster, and you realize a few things:

1) Every time this creature attacks you, not only does it take a bunch of your health away, but it throws you to the ground and it takes forever to recorder.
2) Actually targeting and hitting said creature is next to impossible.
3) The tomb raider camera is fucking useless when it comes to fights like this. Worse than useless – it actually makes the fight harder.

To make things worse, when you actually manage to whittle away enough health for the creature to enter it’s death throes, you find out that you need to run over and stab the girl who turned into the creature. But…wait! You’re not done yet, you have to do this two more fucking times. This is one of the most frustrating endings of any game ever. I downloaded a trainer to get through it because I just don’t have the time to get through it “properly”, and that’s assuming that given infinite time I actually could do it “properly.” I’m not sure that I could.

So, I hate you Tomb Raider Legend, and give you a metaphorical football to the junk. Here’s hoping that Anniversary sucks less. I’m not optimistic enough to hope that it’s good.

[1] You know, the ones where it shows your character doing some crazy cool stuff that the game engine can’t handle, so you just push directions and buttons at the right time? It’s like a modern version of Dragon’s Lair, except that the game developer forgot that Dragon’s Lair sucks and nobody wants to play that any more. Except for maybe Don Bluth, who would invite you to his house, hand you a Bud Lite while ordering a pizza and say “hey, wanna play Dragon’s Lair?”, which you politely sidestep by saying “hey Don, isn’t there a hockey game on or something?” You see by his pathetic look that he is saddened by your rejection, but he agrees to watch the game, knowing that if he gets you drunk maybe later you’ll try Space Ace.

December 18, 2008

I adore my 64…

Filed under: Grab Bag by Nathan @ 10:32 am

…my 64-bit MacBook Pro laptop, that is. This time marks the one year anniversary of finally taking the leap into Mac-hood. I had already gone part way with my love of the iPod, but I hadn’t really consummated the relationship with the full leap into OS X. Now I have, and use it for everything (except for playing Fallout 3, which looks way better on the PC with the 9800GTX video card and 21″ widescreen monitor). It’s been absolutely brilliant for organizing my photos, playing with the digital features of my piano, doing some video work, and of course doing development in Java and ruby.

I’ve also become an Apple fanboy, with a Time Capsule and an iPhone (and probably an iMac in the not so distant future). So, happy one year anniversary lappy. I’d like to toast to a long and prosperous relationship, but let’s face it — in about 19 months I’ll grow bored and you will become my wife’s computer when I replace you with something shinier.

Oh, and yeah, I still adore my Commodore 64 as well. Not as much as my Vectrex, tho’

December 14, 2008

Hugh Jackman to host the Oscars

Filed under: Grab Bag by Nathan @ 10:14 pm

This is brilliant, really brilliant. I mean, think about it:

– He’s a theater star who hosted the Tony Awards, so all of the theater folk will tune in
– He won an Emmy for said hosting of the the Tony Awards, so all the TV folk will tune in[1]
– He’s apparently the World’s Sexiest Man(TM), so all everyone whose sexual predilections would have them leaning towards Hugh-centric horizontal fantasies (or, let’s face it, leaning towards Hugh in general) will tune in.
– He was in Van Helsing, so all of the dudes who enjoyed his cleavage in that one will tune in (oh wait, that wasn’t Hugh, it was Kate Beckinsdale. Not that Hugh’s cleavage isn’t to die for)
– He was in Swordfish, so all the computer nerds will check it out[2]
– He’s Wolverine, damnit! So all the comic book nerds will tune in.

Listen, I dig Jon Stewart, I really do, but I’m looking forward to the Oscars. I don’t know what I’ll do without the standard mocking of the audience (I’m just assuming Hugh won’t do that, but you never know, he could surprise us all!). So, uh, yay.

[1] Yeah, a stretch, I know, but just go with me here.
[2] Yeah, even more of a stretch, I know, but just go with me here.

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