iPod Photo

The new iPods go up to 60GB, have better battery life (up to 15 hours), and have a colour screen for showing off your photo collection. They plug into TVs, too, which is highly nifty, and possibly more of a killer feature than it sounds at first.

Still no radio, though.

100 Films

About half-way through this year I admitted to myself that I wasn’t going to make my target of reading 50 books in 2004. My commute time has traditionally been when I’ve read the most, and now that I’m driving to work, I’m barely getting through a book a month.

So I set myself a different goal: I would watch (and write quick reviews of 100 new films, instead. (New to me–not necessarily brand new releases.)

I slacked off a bit on the viewing in July and August, but I’ve been picking up the pace lately. I hit 60 films in mid-September, and I’m up to 78 now, although I haven’t posted reviews of all of them yet. (I’ve got a backlog of 8 to work through.) That leaves me with another 22 films to see, and only 10 weeks left to go in 2004. (If you’re terribly interested in my score, you can keep track over here.)

Two-and-a-bit films week should be achievable, but I’m getting a bit worried by the number of games being released in the run-up to Christmas. We’ve got Halo 2, Half-Life 2, Ratchet and Clank 3, and Jak 3 all being released in the next month, and I just noticed yesterday that Metroid Prime 2: Echoes is going to be out in November, too.

This has the potential to seriously mess with my plans.


Edge magazine, the UK’s best games magazine, has undergone a redesign, starting with the December issue.

First reaction: OMG! WTF! The new interior fonts, the block-outs, the sidebars, the review titles…they’ve turned into OPSM! They’ve increased the page count from 130 to 146 pages, and although I haven’t done an exact count, I think that most of those extra 16 pages are advertising. Also, it feels like it’s printed on lighter paper.

It’s horrible.

Edge has always distinguished itself by looking different than other games magazines. Its sleek, sparse layout and design has matched its editorial ethos perfectly. Here is a magazine that doesn’t apologise for being cerebral, and for not grasping at mass-market appeal. It doesn’t carry a cover disc. It doesn’t carry back-cover advertising. It doesn’t try to review every game that hits the shelves every month. It regularly reviews games that will never be published outside of Japan. It’s a serious games magazine.

Critics of Edge tend to renounce it for being arty, pretentious, and stuck up its own arsehole. True, it is prone to the occasional bout of navel-gazing, but I’ll take that over hasty “exclusive” reviews, publisher hype, and comedy filler features any day.

I understand the urge to redesign as well as anyone. The editorial note in this issue says:

“We haven’t reinvented the thing (which will be a relief to all those of you who’ve written in telling us not to do that–as if we would), but, as we prepare to accept the change that comes with another new generation of gaming hardware, we thought we’d get ourselves into better shape to do it justice. And that’s meant a tweak here, a tuck there, and a comic strip ostensibly about a pudgy little alien slapped on to the end of the letters pages.”

A comic strip about a pudgy little alien? I don’t have anything against game-related comics per se, but…but…FOR ZELDA’S SAKE WHY, EDGE, WHY???

Edge underwent a major editorial reshuffle last year. For an issue or two the quality of reviews and articles suffered (their spellchecker seemed to be out of order), but they got back on track. It is still the only magazine I consistently read cover-to-cover every month, and the only games magazine whose reviews I trust. I can only hope that the editorial direction of the magazine stays the same, and that I’ll get used to the new design.

The throwaway 1000-word review of Half-Life 2 doesn’t fill me with hope, though. It pretty much says, “Wow, this game is really good. It’s really pretty, and all the scripted elements really work well together. Physics engine. Like, wow, man.”

Uh…one of the most eagerly anticipated games of all time, and this is all you can manage, Edge? I suppose it’s also just a coincidence that this month’s issue sees its fifth 10-out-of-10 review score in ten years of publication. (The other four went to Super Mario 64, Gran Turismo, Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time, and Halo.)

Benefit of the doubt time. I’ll give it a few months, and see how it goes. I would be extraordinarily sad to see Edge disappear from my reading list.

Update: I just noticed that they’ve stopped writing out the issue number in words on the spine! Noooooooo…..!

Game Girl

Fiona is crawling now. She is still a bit tentative about it, and most of the time she prefers to wait around and let the world come to her, but she’s crawling.

She also clocked in at 74cm (29″) and 10.5kg (23lbs) at her 8-month (ish) check-up last week, which puts her in the 98th percentile for height and weight, or approximately the size of a small elephant. (For comparison, Alex is three and a half years old, and he weighs 15kg.)

And now she’s kicking my butt at Burnout 3, too. Bah.

Game Girl

Gadget Fever

It started at the end of last week with a mild desire to lift my old Mission 750 speakers out of the garage and plug them into my PC for an improved sound experience. The simplest way to hook them up to my PC is through an amp, but the amp I’ve got doesn’t fit on my desk. So on Saturday when Alex and I were in town, we stopped by Richer Sounds to see if they had any amps with a smaller footprint.

No such luck. What they did have, however, was a portable DVD player (Yamada PDV520) for a mere £120. Yowza! Just a couple of years ago, you’d pay a grand for those things.

That price got me thinking about our upcoming trip to the US. One of our planned strategies for keeping Alex amused on the 11-hour plane trip is to buy him a GameBoy. We have mentioned this to him, and he is now quite keen on the idea that he is going to get a GameBoy when he gets to California.

That’s interesting, see. He thinks he’s going to get it when he gets there–not on the trip over. So I was wondering if I could get the portable DVD player for the trip, and then postpone further hand-held buying until after 21st November, at which point the Nintendo DS will be available. I mean, really. Why buy a GBA just days before the next generation of hardware is being released?

Richer Sounds also had an iRiver H140 on display. It was the first time I’d seen one in real life. Mmmm. Definitely not as sexy as an iPod, but it has a radio, which is a must for me. It is making me wonder about the benefits of the H340, though. What do you get for an extra £130? It has a colour screen, it can recharge from a USB cable rather than from a separate adapter, it can act as a USH host device (for transferring photos from a camera, for example), it record directly to MP3 from the radio and from other line-in devices. Hmm. Nifty features, but would I really use them enough to justify the cost?

Right now I’m not sure if I’d use any portable music player enough to justify the cost. And I’m pretty sure that a portable DVD player would only ever get dusted off for long plane flights and car journeys. A GameBoy or NDS will keep Alex amused for a while, but I doubt if it would become his favourite toy. (And would I really want it to be?)

The problem with gadget fever is that it isn’t rational. It’s not real hunger…it’s just an appetite.

And as soon as I start feeding it, more and more new toys push themselves into sight. Our Olympus C-3000 camera is four years old. It’s a lovely camera, but it’s not exactly new and shiny any more. The Canon EOS 300D and Nikon D70 SLRs, on the other hand, are very new and shiny and pretty and I wants one, preciousss. Even though I know bog all about f-stops and shutter speeds. Even though I know it won’t make me a better photographer. But especially with the pound’s current strength against the dollar. ($1.82! I suppose it’s one thing to be grateful to president Bush for!)

And I’d better not get started on flat-panel monitors. The problem with these suckers is that I’m so used to a resolution of 1600 x 1200 that I don’t want to settle for anything less, and LCDs with that kind of resolution haven’t seen the same price crash that lower-res versions have seen over the last year. Plus, there’s no way I’ll be able to afford an Apple 30″ super-wonga 2560 x 1600 cinema display. In the face of that kind of pixel envy…is there really any point in trying?

(And once I start thinking Apple, I start thinking PowerBooks, and I have to pinch myself.)

For this week, though, I think I’ll try to satisfy myself with a simple audio cable. I think there’s a way I can mount my old amp vertically just to the side of my desk. I’d have to child-proof it somehow, but if that can satisfy my cravings for the moment, I’ll be a happy bunny.

Sarah McLachlan concert, Edinburgh Usher Hall, 18 Oct 2004

Sarah McLachlan is amazing live. Her voice is steady, strong, and full of emotion. She sent shivers up my spine with damn near every song.

The show was tight and well-rehearsed. On the one hand, this left little room for spontaneity, on the other hand it was polished to perfection, and made a beautiful showcase for Sarah’s songs. Where we were sitting (middle of the front row of the second balcony–great view), the sound was a little hollow, and the drums were very prominent in the mix, but that hardly distracted from a wonderful gig.

Set list:

  1. Fallen (Afterglow)
  2. World on Fire (Afterglow)
  3. Adia (Surfacing)
  4. Hold On (Fumbling Towards Ecstasy)
  5. Perfect Girl (Afterglow)
  6. Drifting (Afterglow)
  7. Push (Afterglow)
  8. Answer (Afterglow)
  9. Wait (Fumbling Towards Ecstasy)
  10. Witness (Surfacing)
  11. Fear (Fumbling Towards Ecstasy)
  12. Train Wreck (Afterglow)
  13. Building A Mystery (Surfacing)
  14. Sweet Surrender (Surfacing)
  15. Possession (Fumbling Towards Ecstasy)


  1. Ice Cream (Fumbling Towards Ecstasy)
  2. Silence (from the single with Delirium)
  3. Stupid (Afterglow)
  4. Fumbling Towards Ecstasy (Fumbling Towards Ecstasy)
  5. Angel (Surfacing)