Elly Williams' Weblog

Caught Between Industries

Blaming Games (again)

As Fatty noted earlier, a number of UK stores have withdrawn the Rockstar title “Manhunt” following the games implication after Warren LeBlanc (a 17-yr-old from Leicester) clubbed and stabbed a younger lad to death with a claw hammer.

Now, whether or not [insert entertainment genre of your choice] has an influence on violent crimes has been done to death and most people aren’t about to change their minds on the matter… but one quote got me waving frantically at my monitor (and I’m in a public place).

“I can’t believe that this sort of material is allowed in a society where anarchy is not that far removed. It should not be available and it should not be available to young people”

For a start… the whole point of an anarchic society is that nothing is banned.. so therefore the closer we get to anarchy (not that I’m condoning anarchy) the more things are allowed.

Also, to jump on the enragement bandwagon, the game has an 18 certificate, and 18 is considered adult in this country which means it isn’t available to “young people” it is available to adults (Unless the 18 denotes mental age, in which case we might all be in trouble)

But what really gets to me is that too many people seem to eager to place blame anywhere they can. If you can find an outside influence; games, movies, music, Marilyn Manson, TV, etc, etc ANYTHING that takes the blame off you the done thing appears to be to do so. I was always taught to “own up” and “accept responsibility for myself”. All this reminds me of Ben Elton’s satirical novel “Popcorn” (which has also been adapted for stage. The book ends with a list of people blaming each other for the preceeding events. In the end noone accepts responsibility.

Kindred Spirit

Bill Thompson talks a lot of sense. I’ve read a number of the things he’s written on his personal site and in the columns he writes for the BBC Technology section – some of which are the same and I was particularly impressed by this piece on Computer Viruses and Herd Immunity.

I completely share his disgust at the attitudes of people who refuse to make any attempt to protect their PCs against viri and worms – either through stupidity, tightfistedness or lazyness. It’s just not acceptable.

Having provided tech support for large numbers of my year at uni recently, including dissinfecting and protecting more than half of them when Sasser went rampant, this is partly me being selfish of my own time.

But, as I’ve said before, too many people are only willing to take any action after the worst has already happened – and when it comes to these things spreading, that is always too late.

Keyboard Mod

I’m sat in a cafe in Woking (coz Meri‘s flat doesn’t have phone or ‘net and I can’t last that long without checking my email… cyborg? moi?) and I’ve just noticed that (because the public can’t adjust the language settings) some kind soul has swapped the @ and ” keytops…. how thoughtful.

Sneak Preview

Now that Sony have set a date for the unveiling of the next-gen Playstation (namely next year’s E3 in Los Angeles) we could be up for a treat in terms of new consoles.

Nintendo and Microsoft aren’t going to want to get left behind again on release dates (for fear of consolodating the Playstation’s existing lead in the market) so there is likely to be a whole load of hype from all parties going on in the next year or so in the build up to the unveiling(s) and the sale dates (which are still a big unknown).

I think it’s gonna be fun to watch.

IE compatability.

IE is losing market share (ok, not by much, but still.) Mostly to Firefox by the looks of it, and mainly over security worries. The article isn’t hugely interesting but this quote at the end made me laugh.

“In the meantime, we ….. do not feel that switching to an alternative browser and giving up the functionality and compatibility of IE is warranted.”

I’m not entirely sure what they’re referring to….

Slow and Steady Wins the Race?

I read this article a while back. Scott muses on how “casting caution aside seems to be an Achilles heel to most levels in action-based games.” Now, I didn’t think much of this at the time. I’m not a huge fan of FPSs – which is the main category to which this applies.

But I’ve spent quite a while recently watching Meri play Devil May Cry. After each stage in the game you get given a grade and how much you get to spend on upgrades for the next level depends on this grade. So, the better you do in one level determines how easy it is do well in the next level. And from the backseat driver seat the “all guns blazing” technique seems to produce better results than the “leave no stone unturned” technique – which is Meri’s preferred technique and can be quite frustrating to watch.

In contrast Meri and I have also been playing Quest for Glory V which, despite being about 6 years old, is good fun. However, this is somewhere where you have to talk to everyone. You have to solve puzzles and ask the right questions of the right people in the right order and it’s all very laborious. I can never be bothered with this and therefore end up relying heavily on walkthroughs very quickly. And of course once you start down that road it’s very difficult to stop.

So maybe I should play more gratuitous killing things games where I don’t have to be quite so dilligent. I used to enjoy them lots before someone came up with the idea of using the mouse and the keyboard at the same time, which I never quite got the hang of and my brother still gloats at me for managing to die on the training level in Half-Life on the PC. Maybe now I have a console I’ll be somewhat better off.

Rivalling iPod?

The Register describes it as “yet another attempt to displace the iPod from the top of the digital music hardware charts.”

Sony’s new HDD Walkman (creatively called the NW-HD1) is 8.9 x 6.2 x 1.4cm unit fitted with a 20GB 1.8in hard drive and sufficient RAM to provide 25 minutes of skip-free playback.

Looks wise I reckon it can certainly match the iPod, and it is considerably smaller, but in other areas it falls a little short.

For a start can you really see anyone going to the hassle of remembering the gobbledegook-like names of the various players Sony are putting out in the near future? besides the NW-HD1 there’s the VGF-AP1 (which is the Vaio version) and the NW-E55 and NWE75 (both Flash based.) Now I’m sure these names have perfectly sound logic behind them – but they’re nowhere near as catchy as “iPod”

Also, Sony have (in my opinion) shot themselves in the foot by creating a player which only runs on their own music format (ATRAC 3) when MP3s have effectively taken over. Yes, you can convert your MP3’s, but, if another player says you don’t have to, why bother having duplicate formats?

So, should Apple be watching their backs? Sony has been making portable music players (walkman, discman, minidiscman etc) for many years now, and in that respect they have a lot of experience. But it feels like they’re being a little too sure of the success of this new player a little too soon, and their stubbornness in relation to their own ideas and their own existing brands and formats may leave them out of a market which is already happy doing things differently.

is an Architecture Student and Web Designer based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, (UK)