tempest in a teacup

the pointless musings of a strange recluse

Incoherent rambling

About time for one of these posts, I think.

I’ve found a new place in downtown Seattle that I’ll be moving to next month. My current complex is honestly not that bad except for two problems:

  1. The ISP choices are terrible (I currently have 1.5Mbps DSL, which is the highest speed available)
  2. There isn’t really much of anything within reasonable walking distance

The new place has a supermarket on the ground floor (yay) and a few restaurants within walking distance. The ISP is Comcast, which may be dubious to some but I’m willing to go through the annoying setup process if it means I get a download rate from this century. The only downside is that I’ll either need to take a bus or a company shuttle to work, but eh, I need to start getting up earlier anyway. Getting all my stuff moved over is going to be a pain though…the number of my possessions has increased considerably since I moved to Seattle.

Speaking of Internet, I braved uTorrent a while back to watch some fansubbed anime, namely the first two episodes of K-On! I like it, but I probably won’t be able to watch the rest of it since BitTorrent basically nukes my connection (for reasons I haven’t figured out yet).

Still waiting for Sony to patch in PS2 support for the Madcatz SF4 sticks…I figure if it doesn’t come within another few patches I may just sell this to buy a HRAP3 (which does work for PS2 games). As it stands I need to use my old Tekken 5 stick over an adapter, and going from the awesome Sanwa joystick + buttons to the decent-ish Hori stick and buttons is…well, it’s like owning a Ferrari and driving a Honda instead, if you get my drift.

Installed iPhone OS 3.0 last week. My phone seems to be a lot more responsive now, so it’s obvious they’ve put some work into performance. I don’t use copy/paste much, but the push notifications have been very handy – I finally installed an IM client (Beejive) on my phone thanks to this new feature. Of course, if the damn thing supported background tasks in the first place this wouldn’t be an issue…

That said, I kind of wish AT&T didn’t want $400 from me for the 3GS. That new camera and faster CPU are really enticing.

I took out my guitar for the first time in months today, and all I can say for now is ‘wtf I suck.’ Hopefully this will change.

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The future of handheld gaming? I think not

A lot of blogs seem to be making the iPhone out to be some revolutionary new device for handheld gaming. As the owner of an iPhone for about two months now, I can safely say that they’re all wrong.

Make no mistake – the device manages to pull off certain types of games reasonably well (puzzle games and Wii-style casual non-games come to mind). But I downloaded both I Love Katamari and SimCity for the iPhone, and came away less than impressed by the device’s capabilities. For one, the touch screen is pretty inaccurate. Placing buildings and zones in SimCity is so inaccurate that the game has to break it down into two steps. On top of that, Katamari forces you to use tilt to control your character, which is both inaccurate and counterproductive since tilting the device away from you interferes with your view of the screen!

On top of that, the device seems to fall flat as soon as any sort of performance is demanded of it. Both games have trouble maintaining a stable framerate – the slowdown in SimCity is particularly baffling since the game is basically 2D. The device has enough trouble managing memory with non-game apps – I find it hard to believe that games would perform any better.

So yeah, so far, I’m not impressed. The iPhone works alright as an entry-level smartphone, but as a gaming device it’s significantly lacking. That this has somehow escaped the gaming media is baffling to me.

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Entering the age of perpetual connectedness

As some of you might already know, I purchased an iPhone this past weekend. In fact, I’m composing this entry on that very iPhone…Wordpress already has a client available for it, which, much like their ubiquitous blogging platform, is free.

Overall, I like it; if I had to nitpick (and I do) I would point out the lack of an FM tuner (that NPR habit is hard to kick). You can listen to Internet streams of radio stations pretty easily, but cellphone networks being what they are, the quality of the stream isn’t too reliable. On top of that, the fact that you can only have one set of email and contacts synced at once is annoying (though not a dealbreaker). There are a few issues with the way the calendaring system interacts with Exchange as well.

After having spent just three days using the device, I have to say that the amount of convenience it provides is truly…frightening. This morning I found myself checking my email as I walked to work. To put things in perspective, I live two blocks away from my workplace. I’m starting to understand the mentality of the anti-Blackberry crusaders who decry it as an intruder into our private lives.

On another note, this weekend I’m flying back to Singapore on vacation for three weeks. I don’t have a way to play TF2 or L4D during this period, so let’s see how long it takes for me to go mad.

Of more concern to me is the possibility that the snow forecast for this weekend will mess with my travel plans, either by delaying my flight or by making it impossible for me to get to the airport. The latter occurred back in 2006 when I was here interviewing with Microsoft…an encore would really not be appreciated at all.

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Solid-state drives = fail?

This article from Tom’s Hardware on the myths of solid-state drive power consumption is pretty illuminating, and rather hilarious given how companies like Apple and ASUS have been pushing SSDs in subnotebooks the MacBook Air and Eee PC respectively.

In retrospect it makes a lot of sense – magnetic hard drives have undergone many years of evolution, and already have numerous features designed to improve their average power consumption. SSDs, however, are relatively new, and no-one seems to have figured out how to make them power-efficient yet. The main draw is their read performance (although from what I hear the write performance still stinks outside of very high end drives that cost thousands of dollars).

I guess we’ve got quite a way to go before SSDs become ubiquitous in personal computers.

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In case anyone was wondering where I was yesterday

Monday was a repeat performance of Friday’s “awesomeness” at work (only worse), and I got home just in time for a wind storm to knock out all power for 5 hours.

So yeah, I was a little tied up.

That new 3G iPhone looks awesome, though.

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Colour me impressed

It looks like apart from the EDGE network, Apple has more or less dealt with all the problems I had with the iPhone in one stroke. On top of that, proper Exchange support will be quite handy for keeping track of my work e-mail.

I guess I might pick one up when I decide to change my cellphone plan.

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