Video Games

Lil’ troops deployed on the wrong front

Gamasutra reports today on an in-development rehash of one of my favourite old games, Cannon Fodder by Codemasters. From the article:

“British game publisher Codemasters have announced the now-portable return of their classic Cannon Fodder franchise, set to massively attack PSPs in the spring of 2007.”

PSP!?!?!? This was a game whose biggest claim to fame was the freedom to aim quickly and freely with the mouse! What’s it doing on a dual analog system? No doubt the game will be retooled into a non-descript Army Men / Armed & Dangerous / Contra clone that works well on that wee little PSP analog nub. The original game deserves to be released on the DS in all its free-aiming glory!

Check out Cannon Fodder and Cannon Fodder 2 from Home of the Underdogs! Bloody war has never been so adorable!


Go git ’em, Stoo!

On the road again

Veteran Demodulated readers will know me to be quick to cast my pointy blogging finger at corporations who dare to rub me the wrong way. Therefore it’s my pleasure to report a pair of very positive experiences with a couple of companies today: the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) and Costco.

Torontonians love to tell everyone about our fair city’s two seasons: winter and construction. Being August, and not winter, it is clearly construction time, as my poor Civic will attest. On the way to pick up my girlfriend from work one evening I noticed some draggy whumping coming from my back end (of my car, jackass). A quick inspection with my finely honed mechanic’s eye revealed that the tire was flat. I called on a favour to have my girlfriend picked up and went back up to the apartment to call CAA.

I found their central switchboard number quickly enough on their website and rang them up, toll free. The phone was promptly answered by a charming young woman (Sabrina, if I recall) who spoke clearly and reassuringly. I described my vehicle and my problem and was told to expect service within the half hour. She let me know that she wouldn’t hang up with me until I was completely satisfied and had covered all my issues, so I thanked her and dismissed her.

I recieved a phone call about 25 minutes later advising me to stand by my vehicle as a service agent would be there promptly. By the time I waddled down the stairs he was already pulling beside my car. I greeted him and he asked me to pull the car out a bit and stay in the driver’s seat with my foot on the brake while he jacked my baby up. He was very pleasant and chitchatty and the operation was done in no time.

His prognosis was pretty positive – I’d somehow picked up a thin 4″ screw which lodged itself pretty snugly in my tire, but he was confident that it could be repaired for a fraction of the price of a new tire. When all was said and done HE THANKED ME for my patience and co-operation. What a guy!!

Spare-enabled, I dropped my car at Costco the following day and got a ride to work. At the end of the day I returned to Costco to pick up the car and pay my fees, but there was one problem – the repair was free! That’s right! Because I’d purchased my tires from Costco they backed up their product and service, like all their other in-store products, with a rock-solid guarantee that’s never ever caused me any inconvenience or hassle. This was incredibly welcome as I’d suffered a flat tire not long before, and recieved a replacement tire, installed and ready to go, for only $20 since Costco deemed the tread to be so new. Unbelievable!

And so, having paid annual fees for CAA and Costco, this one inconvenience seems to have awarded me my money’s worth in one fell swoop! I think I can pretty safely say that these companies have earned my business for a lifetime! My kudos to both companies!!

— EDIT —

I should go on a bit to describe my huge satisfaction with CAA.

My girlie and I were off “camping” in Severed Pinkie, Ontario (you know, that nondescript bumpkinville about 40 clicks away from Sixth Toe, Ontario) but were unfortunate enough to get stuck killing a very rainy weekend in stores and restaurants in town. One afternoon was so torrential that, in the middle of a lovely sightseeing drive, we had to pull off the road into the nearest Tim Hortons (you can’t drive 10 minutes in Ontario without finding one) for shelter. We literally had to brace ourselves and counted down to the moment of opening the doors, locking them, and running inside. Needless to say, I overlooked the oft-neglected step of removing the keys from the ignition.

When we got inside we sipped some hot chocolate and I called CAA. I was barely able to describe my surroundings – especially with the rain obscuring my view – but the man on the phone asked leading questions to help pinpoint me. A scant 45 minutes later, a CAA tow truck arrived. 5 minutes of fiddling with a coat hangery wire thing was all it took to open my door (dunno if I’m relieved or afraid of that) and we were free to return to our puddle of a campsite once again.

PC Hardware

Two heads are better than one!

It’s been 2 months since moving in with my ladyfriend and at long last I’ve hooked my stereo to my computer so that I can resume DJing. However, before I can begin I’ve got to allow Traktor DJ Studio 3 to analyze my MP3 collection.

Analysis isn’t entirely necessary before I can start mixing, but if I don’t do it in advance it will analyze on song load which puts more strain on the CPU (increasing the chance of skipping) and it progresses much more slowly since playing an MP3 is a surprisingly system-intensive function. Plus, it’s nice to have analyzed MP3s because this provides a peak graph (which visually shows the song waveform) and automagically detects the beats per minute (about 95% accuracy).

So I’ve instructed Traktor to run a batch analysis on my entire DJ collection, weighing in at a hefty 30-odd gigs. It might take all day.

Large batch multimedia processing is a job best performed by Intel processors, while AMD chips are usually the best for gaming. I do a lot more gaming than multimedia so I still stand by my choice to buy an Athlon 64 X2, but today I’ll pay the price while my system speed is degraded during this long processing job.

Or will it?

I admit I’ve seen little or no improvement in speed with my new CPU – most of the HUGE improvements I enjoy are thanks to my tear-jerkingly incredible 7900GT. Today, however, is a happy exception, as illustrated below:


As you can see in the upper two graphs, dual core has saved the day! My audio analysis job is isolated in the second core, maxed out at 100% load, while the first core stays cool as a cucumber. This means that I can enjoy nearly full speed computing while the second core is dedicated to the monumental task of processing 30 gigs of audio peaks. What a treat!

A recent ad for Dell or some other crappy manufacturer markets dual core CPUs as something that allows you to watch a movie, rip a CD, browse the web, and edit documents all at the same time (like a menstrual pad advert for nerds). This is true, I suppose, but don’t run out to buy a dual core CPU due to this hogwash. I am a power user through and through and today is the first time in about a month that I’ve really taken advantage of it. Dual core is probably a moderately future-proof technology – it will run games and apps pretty well for the next year or two – but if you’re looking to upgrade I think it would be wise to wait until later this year when quad cores come out. No doubt Dell will recommend being schizophrenic, double jointed, and ambidextrous in order to get the most out of one of those babies.
Can’t wait to start making loud banging noises once again! Let’s see what the neighbours think!

And if you’d like to enjoy some free origianl electronic music songs and mixes check out my web site and DJ blog.