Thursday, January 28, 2010


As you may know, we've moved to a new home sometimes in mid-December. It is a new build, so while there was already a phone line installed by BT - it hasn't been activated. Naturally we wanted to get online as soon as possible. You would think that this being a developed country, getting connected wouldn't be an issue. It has been almost a month since I called and our home is still not connected.

December 2009 - called TalkTalk, requested to have an engineer active our telephone line (new build and all). Customer service tried to sell me Virgin instead(!), but after 20 minutes the application failed because our address isn't recognised (new build and all). Transferred me to a TalkTalk sales person (!) who took 40 minutes jotting down my details and trying to sell me upgrades. Sales person booked 6 January as the date when they will send an engineer. Backup dates includes the following two days.

5 January 2010 - received a text by TalkTalk that our engineer would only visit on 15 January!

15 January - phone line activated by BT engineer with no issues.

19 January - received text by TalkTalk confirming our phone line is now active (duh) and we can start making calls.

23 January - received two letters by TalkTalk, one which confirms that our broadband activation date would be on 18 February - 1 1/2 month after I first contacted them and one month after the line was activated by BT.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves - GOTY 2009

A very belated post about a last year video game, but as I enjoyed my time so much with Uncharted 2: Among Thieves I believe it deserve a proper tribute here.

Uncharted 2 is by no means a video game that breaks new ground. Instead what we have here is a video game as it should have always been - an entertaiment. Forget about the video games as art debate for a minute and think of why people play games in the first place. Yes, Uncharted 2 is very pretty (not realistic pretty but with high saturation, detail and plenty of blue skies pretty) but the impressive visuals aren't the only thing great about it.

The game is fairly linear and the puzzles aren't that difficult either - which is not necessary a bad thing. At times it felt like watching one very long Indiana Jones film as cutscenes pops up every now and then though never in a way that gets too annoying. Gun fights and platforming requires little skills. No, this isn't your father's Prince of Persia where the mastery of the joypad is a dead requirement. It is accessible with a predictable but entertaning storyline, but still remains a video game at heart. A modern Tomb Raider that should have been.

More challenge would have been welcomed, but you know what, it didn't bother me one bit that it was easier than many games - I just didn't want to put the controller down (it is the only single player adventure game I ever restarted right after the credits). Simply put Naughty Dog's latest is their finest yet and one of the best video games you will ever enjoy this generation. Go play it.

Bring on Uncharted 3.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Free navigation with Ovi Maps

Nokia has announced that they will be making its turn by turn voice navigation (including traffic updates and premium content like Lonely Planet guides) service on Ovi Maps for free. This service will be available in 76 countries and will tie in nicely with their already available offline feature (which allows the user to freely download maps from 180 countries through a desktop terminal thus saving on over the air data costs).

There are tens of millions of Symbian devices with GPS receiver that has some form of Nokia/Ovi Maps preinstalled (and more which are compatible). Ovi Maps 3 is the best urban navigation software I've ever used and this coming from a guy who has been a Tom Tom fan since their early Palmtop days.

The initial rollout will be made available to a selected number of devices (which includes the E55 (yay), 5800XM, N97 mini and E72) but more will be added later. When will Nokia begin the rollout is anyone's guess but the sooner the better me thinks.

Game changer this one really is.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Audio Technica ATH-ES7 impressions

Got the Audio Technica ATH-ES7 a couple of days ago. Be aware that I only have had a couple of hours of listening time with it, so this is merely a first first impressions. You do not get much with the ATH-ES7 - just a cleaning cloth and handbag pouch to store the headphones in. As this is a headphone designed for portable use - no 3.5mm to 1/4" adaptor is provided, but you can easily get that for a quid or two from any hi-fi store.

The build quality of the closed back ES7 is brilliant (though I would prefer a studier cable). The cups are made of stainless steel and offers a mirror finish that attracts fingerprints (this is where the cleaning cloth comes in handy). The overall design is a step ahead of Sennheiser within the same price range. It is pretty clear that with the ES7 (and most Audio Technica products), you are paying for the design. Fortunately they also sound good, unlike the typical junks you find in high street stores like HMV.

The ES7 is pretty easy to drive and I did not encounter any issues pairing it with my Walkman and Nokia E55. As for the sound - it is flat and 'neutral' with good extension. The bass quantity is decent, though the impact is of no match for my Sennheiser IE 8 (it does scale well with an equaliser). Treble wise, it is somewhat rough and 'grainy'. My partner who plays piano with this, confirms this as well. We will see if things improve after the initial 'burn-in' period.

Look out for a full review in the next two weeks.

Battlestar Galactica Blu-ray review

This review is about the product itself, and not the Battlestar Galactica series. If you are reading this, chances are you like Battlestar Galactica enough to be considering purchasing the Limited Edition Blu-ray boxset so I am sure you would rather not hear another Battlestar Galactica fanboy pouring praises on his blog.

Picture quality is brilliant when played back on my PS3. The 1080p transfer is fantastic and I am delighted to finally be able to watch my favourite Sci-Fi series in HD. There is a real problem with noise, but I attribute that to the limitation set by the digital cameras used to film the. There are also film scratches and grains (probably intentional) that can be seen from time to time though that is not a Blu-ray limitation but more about Universal not archiving one of their better investment properly.

Audio is available in the form of 5.1 DTS-HD.

The series comes in a tin box. Not very practical, but the Cylon on the front is pretty. It is actually taller than a DVD case, so you would not be able to store them in purposed built DVD shelves.

But here's the real (physical) problem - the discs are stored in multiple red plastic holders that are itself stored inside cardboard sleeves. Removing the discs from the sleeves can be difficult as they are too tight. In fact I had to damage one of the sleeves in order to gain access to the discs. So be prepared to destroy your limited edition boxset if you want to watch it. If Universal had any sense they will send out replacement disc cases - as there are plenty of space inside the tin case to keep proper sized Blu-ray cases.

The first season here is actually the American version, and not the UK version with the more superior opening music, so that is another thing to keep in mind - but to me it is only a minor issue. If there is one upside to the package, it is that the discs are region free making importing and exporting a breeze.

The biggest issue I had with the 'Complete Series' boxset however is the lack of 'The Plan', the final TV movie in the Battlestar Galactica series. Sure, it aired after the final episode was aired, but is still pretty much the same series - it shares the same cast for one and the same production company and storyline. So I am pretty peeved that my Battlestar Galactica 'The Complete Series' isn't actually complete and that I have to pay more to get it actually complete. I suspect Universal will re-release another ‘Ultimate Complete’ version. Gullible consumers will probably gobble it up, but I'll resist.

+ brilliant series
+ great picture quality
+ region free
- silly packaging
- pretty pricey

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A fact

Britain pledges £6 million in aid money to Haiti, £10 million less than Sir Fred's pension pot and tens of billions less than what the bankers have plundered from the treasury.

How does that make you feel?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy New Year!

It may just be a number, but still a warm Happy New Year to everyone. Some updates: we still do not have broadband connection set up. We are working to have the phone line connected this week and hopefully our internet service will follow soon after. Let's just hope the forecasted snow does not mess things up! In the meantime I am posting updates on twitter, so be sure to subscribe if you are interested in my daily moans and goings.

Last night we watched the The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Brilliant film that one was, even if I think the coward was in the wrong position in the title. Casey Afflex in particular was superb and deserves an Academy Award for that. So that's one film I highly recommend you buy or rent - just make sure to watch the Bluray version as such a beautiful film (cinematography wise) deserves it. Not the best transfer, but anything's better than DVD right?