Saturday, September 09, 2006

TBH - IMO's Gaming News Roundup

Yes, its that time again. Time for the gaming news(orz).


A slow, slow time for the PC latley, as predicted by yours truley. It seems that the holiday season might be a bit more fruitful however, with games such as Medieval: Total War II, Clive Barker's Jericho and Battlefield: 2142. This is rather typical of the gaming industry of late, saving the best titles for christmas launch. I happen to think this is rather sad, as there is often a massive gaming lag during the summer. Kudos, therefore must go to 3D realms for releasing PREY this summer and also to Rockstar, who usually provide us with a GTA to kill the summer with, but have had a year out this time round. These are brave publishers, and guess what? Their boldness has paid off with skyrocketing sales.

Anyway, the christmas games. Medieval looks truley excellent, and the origional has still retained its diehard fanbase who prefer it to Rome. Hopefully this will be an amalgomation of all we liked about Rome (Nice graphics, awsome battles, good terrain and tactics) with the major boons of Medieval (Good managment, fantastic diplomacy and family managment.) The game certainly looks the buisiness, at any rate. Just take a look for yourself.

Elsewhere, we've got Clive Barker's Jehrico. This appears to be the spiritual sucessor to the fantastic Clive Barker's Undying, one of the first genuinely scary and thought provoking games to emerge in the 90's. I thorougly reccomend the classic, if you haven't done so - play it! Very little is known about the new game, except that it looks fantastic and uses the Unreal 2007 engine. What can I say? Excellent!

BF: 2142 - EA knows how to hammer these out. I won't go into my dispute with all the battlefields, but lets just say, as with every game - EA seems intent on ruining it. Anyway, this is sure to have the idiots buying copies in droves just to see what noob cannon needs nerfing straight away. I'm sure the game will have its proponents, and will no doubt have sucessful sales but after the travesty that was BF: Vietnam and BF2 , I'm not getting it. If you fall prey to EA's sales drive, I hope you have a liquid hydrogen cooled Alienware UberPC, as the BF2 engine's being specially modded for the proceedings. Lesser beings can wait for a patch.


Every time I report the PSP news, something far more interesting happens almost immediatley after. This time has been no exception, as interesting developments seem to be going on this very second. Anyway, with that said, lets turn our attention to homebrew.

The big news is, of course, that homebrew is possible on every firmware upto 2.80 due to a newly discovered TIFF exploit. For those living on a rock, this means that You can run any emulator upto the level of a SNES (inc GBC, GBA, NES, Genesis etc) right on your PSP. It also emans portable apps, games etc can be run right in the palm of your hand. For those not in the know about homebrew, check this site out.

Of course, as Sony hates homebrew (apparently because it encourages piracy) a 2.81 firmware update appeared overnight, merely patching the new exploit. Lovers of homebrew: Don't upgrade!

Also, firmware 2.80 has been decrypted, which means you should be able to use it with Dax soon enough. Again, for those not in the know, you can use the Dax loader to load a firmware on your memory stick, retaining homebrew features but having the best of both worlds with all the nice new firmware enhancements. Excellent, eh?

Anyway, apart from the gates of homebrew being open to more than ever before, there are some interesting apps for PSP just being released. The new version of IR shell, for instance, is a full shell replacment for the standard sony XMB. It utilises the unused IR transmitter on your psp for a remote control (tv etc) as well as supporting multi tasking, and playing music in the background while you do things. Its well worth looking into. Find out more at the official site.

Games on the PSP are also hotting up as we head towards Christmas. The title on everybody's lips at the moment is Vice City Stories, the sucessor to GTA Vice City on major consoles and PC. Like Liberty City Stories, VCS features a whole new game set in a similar world. However, for this version graphics and gameplay have been much improved, and there is more terrain to explore than in the origional game. In addition, the radio is all new and is rumored to be excellent, with a wide array of 80s bands, and most importantly - 80's Rock! Looks as though its going to be great. Check out the screen below.

Medal of Honor is also hotting up for the PSP and looks to be one of the best new shooters around (sorry SOCOM fans). Other good things to look forward to are the new PSP Metal Gear Solid game, Silent Hill and roumours abound of a Call of Duty coming to PSP.... Watch this space.

Thats It!

So thats the roundup for this time! Stay tuned for more exciting gaming news updates on TBH - IMO in the near future.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Dystopia Welcomes You.

It seems that the government can't do anything these days, right? Tony Blair won't pick a date to leave, John Prescott's off galavanting and playing croquet instead of working and Gordon Brown's being the silent partner, ready to swoop at the news of Blair's departure but not quite confident enough to give old Tone the final push.

Not Content with being imbeciles themselves, the government have to force it on other people too. No IVF for you, fatty, not till you get to the gym. No smoking please, its horrible. Yet yes you can have emergency contreception as long as you are old enough to know what you are doing (the dreaded Gillick competence - lawyers amongst you will know this one). Yes the whingers and whiners amongst the government certainly have been latley making some bizzare and conflicting health messages. Overweight women having kids cannot be allowed, yet young women have emergency contreception given away. And now old Tone's got back on his high horse about anti social behaviour, Chavs and Asbos, and the degeneration of the traditional neuclear family model.

You see my friends, these incoherent, inconsistent and quite frankly confusing policies are hallmarks of a government in its death throes. They dont have a specific agenda, they are merely content to slapstickly pursue some popular agenda until the political bandwaggon rolls on and they have to run on to the next topic of the day.

The current government has been quite remarkable in its breathtaking incompetence. Giving money away left right and centre (Iraq, The EU, Benefits), Creating a virtual police style 1984 state and dumbing down our incredibly crap education system.

The current government is so split you could serve it with ice cream as a dessert. And its going to die - we all know it, even the current encumbent innane-smiling despot knows it. The question merely is when.

So it seems that you are in dystopia and in here for the long haul. Until the next general election, anyway when perhaps we might see a rational party with a sensible, coherent agenda voted in. Perhaps.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

TBH-IMO's Martial Arts Blog Now Online

Need I Say more?

Monday, August 28, 2006

1984 Once More...

The British Government, probably on a roll from its soon to be imposed scheme to track every vehicular journey made in the UK (Read: my two cents on the subject) is stamping on freedom, liberty and privacy once again.

Although this may seem a minor transgression, its the notion that the government would invade our lives that I find aggravating. It crosses the line between debate and action, and sets a very dangerous precedent.

I am, of course, referring to the scandal to come out at the weekend, namely the stealth planting of bugs in citizen's wheelie bins (trash cans with wheels). Not content with merely offering a diabolical garbage collection service, the government has decided to monitor what we dispose of too.

On Saturday, a pensioner was shocked to discover what appeared to be an electronic device on the undercarriage of his newly delivered bin. Upon examination, this turned out to be a microchip device, designed to be read when garbage trucks picked up the bin for collection.

Further examination revealed that the software on the chip is fully reprogrammed, and can be used to track numerous amounts of data, including the bin's weight, type of contents, owner information and more. If it fell into the wrong hands, how easily could sensitive data be divulged?

More worrying is the fact that no-one was aware the council had paid for and installed these devices until they were found by the unsuspecting public.

We put up with surveillance everywhere - there is simply no need for it at home.

Defences for the idea came immediately from the council, stating it was a device to ensure the bin was properly returned if removed.

However, is this really a necessary use of taxpayer money, given that most homeowners paint their address on their bin? Other critics claim that it was a stealth method of introducing a "charge by the pound for disposal" tax.

I immediately examined our own bins for the bug, and to my relief found there was none. However, to my horror, I noticed there was a slot for one installed exactly where it had been on the elderly gentleman's in question. Had we been aware of the fact we may be bin bugged? Nope.

As I've said, this may seem such a trivial issue its hardly worth a second thought. However, it certainly highlights two things: That the governments incessant need for 1984 style monitoring is on the rise, and our privacy is on the decrease. Linking this with events like 9-11 may seem a little far fetched; but think about it: Why is this increase in surveillance necessary?

Read: Computer World Article on the "Bin Brother" news.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

I'm Back...

Yes, sireee its been a long while since I set foot on these (not so) beloved Blighty shores, and now I've had a good taste of America, I now at last can effectivley compare the way we do it to the way its done over there.

By It of course, I mean government. Critics amongst you may instantly slate the US on its recent foreign and national disasters. I agree, they've done a shocking job. However, what I do like about the states and will continue to admire, is the level of independance they grant their citizens.

Do they moan about 30 centimtres of catchment area when it comes to choosing a school? Do they festoon their roads with speed cameras to make a quick buck off the misfortunate motorist? Do I detect cops measuring cars to check whether they are parked too close, or worse still, not close enough to the kerb and issuing a fifty quid fixed penalty notice for such a minor misdermeanour? Did I see drunken louts passing out and parading round in the streets at 2 AM causing violence, abuse and misery? Did I once see a Chav hurling abuse and morionic insults at passers by?


But we in England stand for this kind of crap. The kind that wants to regulate every square foot (I mean millimetre, can't say foot or we'll be sued) of our lives. The government likes to tell us how to do everything. But are the police there when you're being harassed? do they even obey their own speed laws? Did they attend my friend's assault immediatley, not three days later?


Because although the government likes to control every aspect of our unimportant little lives, it expects blind obedience and adherence to the rules by its people. We have to face facts: our society won't do as its told. And what protection, really, is an ASBO against that? Is a restraining order really going to stop the thug who wants to committ a racist crime? Of course its not.

Americans don't have to put up with this. On a local level, they've got a realistic government that gets things done, including tackling crime instead of worrying about whether that front tyre's three degrees misaligned. They belive, and rightly so, that common sense will prevail throughout the people, and this breeds a culture of relative decency and respect.

I'm not saying its all peachy across the pond, but I belive the English government could learn some valuable lessons from deep introspection and looking a tad westward, deciding what laws we really need, what community services we should have, and what can be finally done away with.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

5 Tv Series to Watch Before you Die!... Pt II

The rules of what constitute a series are detailed in the post below...

2. 24

What can I say? In 24, show owner Fox has produced some of its finest programming. For those that have been under a rock for the last 5 years or so, 24 is a drama involving the fictional Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) based in Los Angeles.

24 often involves a conspiracy theory, which draws idiots like me in hook line and sinker, as I just love that sort of stuff. Without spoiling too much, this usually goes up very high within the US governement.

One man, Jack Bauer (Keifer Sutherland) can put the world to rights. But the clock is ticking: All the events take place in real time, so what you watch is actually a day. Somehow, the action never seems to stop despite the inherent length of the story. This is only a credit to the high production values and quality of writing.

Speaking of production, the whole affair is so high budget and high tech, it plays out like a blockbuster Hollywood movie. Watching the series in action is an amazing sight to behold, as alll the eye candy buttons are pressed, often simultaneously. Expect explosions, helicopters and expensive SUVs... all getting trashed.

My only gripe against the series: How many bad days can one guy have? (the show is currently filming its 6th season, and there is an upcoming movie also). Additionally, 24 has spawned some godawful games, including the latest offering for the PS2, which anyone who is remotley sane should avoid.

TBH-IMO's rating : 9/10

Monday, August 21, 2006

TBH-IMO's 5 TV Series to Watch Before you Die, Pt 1

I was thinking this morning whilst on my neighbourhood peramble, that instead of having a political rant today, I'd tell you something reasonably useful, and tell you what 5 TV series to watch before you die, and why. As usual, feel welcome to disagree with me.

First, A clarification: By TV Series I don't mean one where you can just drop in and out of and there's very little continuity between episodes. This rules out shows such as The Simpsons, Futurama, Blackadder, Family Guy, Red Dwarf, etc. Though I enjoy all of those shows, they are not series in my sense of the word: IE shows I feel compelled to watch to the end. Additionally, these shows are not ranked in any particular order.

For the next few days, My blog will be devoted to this, so stay tuned TV fans. If I reccomend a TV series to you, know it is of the highest caliber, and you should make every effort to watch it (through whatever means you choose!)

1. Lost

For those who have been living under a rock, Lost was a smash hit series when it launched two years ago in the States and has only recently caught on at home in the UK. Put simply, Lost is fantastic, but frustrating. The plot is highly simple: A crashed plane deposits survivors on an Island in the atlantic, and no search operation finds them. But there is far more at work on the Island: mysterious hatches, voices and inexplicable phenomena drive the "lostees" (as they are known) to increasing levels of paranoia and insecurity. I've gotta say: you have to watch this series. If I ever present a television award, it'd be to the writers of this.

Without giving anything away, the frustration only sets in when the lostees never get to the bottom of the mystery: it just seems to get deeper and deeper. However, don't let this dishearten you, the seasons themselves are fantastic, and there is a mere month to go before the third season kicks off in the US on ABC.

One of the fantastic things about this series is not only the continuity, but the excellent community it has spawned. It has a fanbase who are trying to continually decode and debunk the mystery. There is also an Alternate Reality Game (ARG) made by the producers which not only fleshes out the incidental details in the series, but keeps the fans guessing and the connection between producers and audience very strong. An ARG, breifly, is a game based on the series but it is played in real life. See the above link for futher details. The main site for the ARG, (in my opinion) for those who are interested, can be found here.

If you're still skeptical as to whether to make the jump into Lost, you can view video recaps of the show at, here. Alternativley, are offering a breif viewing of a full episode of Lost before the inception of the next series, but you better be quick to catch that one.

TBH-IMO's Series rating: 9.5/10