Meewella | Fragments

The Life of P

Month: October 2006 (page 2 of 2)

Searching for a Smaller E3

Microsoft’s Live Search allows easy construction of user-created search engines like this one for P-2006. Sure it has long been possible to get Google to display search results for your own site, but the macro system allows someone with no technical knowledge to create a customised engine that searched the sites they want in (to an extent) the way they want. The search facility in P-2006 is in need of an overhaul. The Live alternative has the advantage of searching the entire site at once and delivering summaries rather than full entries. The downside is that as an external page it lacks proper integration. I’d like to hear your thoughts on our search facility — do you use it to find older entries and how well does it work for you?

The ESA have released details about the downsized E3 2007. For starters it will be in July rather than May so that noise you hear is probably my DoS breathing a sigh of relief. Shortly after this year’s E3 closed, they announced had been the industry’s largest annual event would be significantly cut back into a focused trade show as it had originally been intended. Many felt the circuslike atmosphere, lax entry requirements and skyrocketing budgets were getting out of hand.

However, it was also the chief way the gaming industry was able to portray itself to the outside world — sure booth babes may not have been the ideal advertising mechanism (or perhaps they were too ideal) but the intense atmosphere showcased a flourishing industry at its excessive best. With E3 as we know it gone, will the external media take gaming as seriously, or find it as interesting? With activists and critics rallying against major developers and publishers, the industy needs an outlet to present itself in a good light, and the suited trade affair being planned is not it. Whether even fans remain interested in E3 depends largely on the traditional “big three” (Microsoft, Nintendo & Sony) pre-E3 news conferences and quality of game presentations that can be watched by home viewers.

Many surmised earlier this year that Penny Arcade’s fledgling PAX, which has gone from strength to strength in just a few years, might be primed to take over. It is a fan-focused show for those who play games, not just the industry bigwigs, and therefore extravagance counts. Whether it too will spiral out of control remains to be seen.

A Little Closer

CloserKirsten and I attended a performance of Closer at the ADC Theatre last night. Being a fan of the film, and having heard great things about the stage version (which preceded it) I was keen to see for myself. It is, indeed, brilliant. There lies a great difficulty in presenting a stage play when people now readily associate the characters with their big screen stars, especially in the stripped down cast-of-four style of Closer.

It is immediately apparent that Crarer was little enamoured of the film as there is no trace of Natalie Portman’s performance in her Alice. She retains the character’s open playfulness, but the demure veil of innocence is largely gone. The male cast channel far more of Jude Law and Clive Owen respectively, and similarities are evident even in their appearance. Marwood is particularly adept at drawing out the best feature’s of Owen’s bitter cynicism while still making the role his own. Julia Roberts’ Anna was the least fleshed out of the film’s characters, leaving her a flat, two-dimensional and rather forgettable sideline. Morgan certainly breaks free of this in portraying a rounded character easily as memorable as the rest. This is further helped by a critical confrontation between the two female leads which is notably missing from the film to the detriment of both characters.

The direction was adept aside from occassionally jarring scene-changes accompanied by flashing lights and club beats. These worked in general, but occassionally swallowed the preceding line of dialogue which may have been more powerful had it been allowed to linger for a moment. The comical cybersex scene was brilliantly staged with Dan and Larry on opposite sides, separated by a screen onto which their hilarious conversation was projected. The strip club scene was also deftly handled in a reasonably modest state of dress but with undeniably erotic energy.

The distance between posts is more a sign that little is going on yet than me being excessively occupied. Supervisions have tended toward Week 2 this year, so expect things to become quieter as I keep my head down and battle through the work. Unless something actually happens, that is.

Lastly, if you’re a final year student, StudentFocus is undertaking some research with The Times and may be willing to pay you £10 per survey you complete. So until you are actually rich, it seems like a pretty good deal. Get in early as places are limited.

Naina

Dear Priyan,

I found your photo of the Indian dancer on the Morgue site and used it as inspiration for an art quilt. I made her in fabric–mostly cotton batiks, with some gold lame and Swavarosky crystals for the jewelry. Her eyes came out especially nice, so I named it “Naina” which I think means “eyes” in Sanskrit. The quilt was accepted into A World of Beauty, the International Quilt Show in Houston, Texas this Nov 1-5. Over 55,000 people usually attend this show. I attached a copy of the quilt, but it looks much better in person than in the photo. Your photo was lovely. Thank you.

Vickie Lord

NainaI love seeing my photography used by others in ways I would never have imagined but my most popular photograph has gone off in a truly bizarre new direction. Vickie emailed to let me know that she has turned it into a quilt. I’m sure you’ll agree the results are quite stunning, particularly the eyes as she points out. Of course if you happen to be in Texas around then and quilts are your thing then you can even see the real one. As for the show itself, you can take a look at the 2004 event for an insight into the fuller quilt experience.

Meanwhile my father suggests that, once my inevitable millions start rolling in, he has found the perfect brand of mobile phone for me. If you thought the epileptic Motorola “party phone” was gaudy, take a look at GoldVish “luxury communications”.

You may find it somewhat ironic that the Globalist Foundation has hit some legal issues regarding its name and I am now involved in the rebranding as Global21 (the numerical device denoting our current century). It will be a fairly seamless transition as the individual chapters will retain their current names as “The ______ Globalist”. For those in Cambridge, the new coffee-themed issue is due out on the 16th October. As I was in Germany I did not have a hand in this issue, but I’m sure it’s still worth reading.

And finally, despite the derisive laughter with which I responded to YouTube’s arrogant “we won’t be selling for anything less than two billion dollars” attitude, you have probably heard that Google have actually gone and purchased them for a similarly ungodly amount of money. Luke will no doubt have something to say about the company’s complete lack of a coherent business plan, particularly when it involves buying a company that was described as “haemoraging money” at an alarming rate. As far as I can tell the purchase was either a Microsoft style childish tantrum at the comparative failure of Google Video to outdo its rival or another step in a sinister continuing attempt to own all the data in the world.

Secret Blogging

the paparazziIt appears that Luke has been secretly blogging. That he refers to P-2006 as an inspirational “sterling example” is a little embarassing because it creates the urge to provide a well-presented content-driven post now — surely something happened in the past week while the site remained noticably silent. For those who enjoy his intermittent, highly recognisable brand of ranting, it’s definitely worth a read and the cogent arguments receive more careful construction than the “quick” responses that I hope we shall still receive here.

A belated congratulations is due to my parents who celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary, taking a well-earned day off (from work, not each other) which they spent in London, concluding with a show of Les Mis. I imagine they will be comparing notes with Kirsten shortly, as she arranged a trip to the show as a leaving do at the end of her placement with Merrill.

butterflyLectures and work have now commenced fully leading to the familiar feeling best summarised in riddle format: “When is a weekend not a weekend? / When it’s in Cambridge.” Intellectual Property is certainly shaping up to be a great course and my other optional selections are Commercial and (after some confusion over whether or not they would be occuring) half papers in Medical and Media law. Coupled with the compulsory behemoths of EU and Equity it’s looking to be a full, but hopefully enjoyable, year.

Metal!Yesterday was the first big ent of the year, marking the end of Freshers’ Week with the When I Grow Up I Want To Be… party. It seemed a bit odd given that when I grow up I want to be a lawyer which, conveniently, I already have sorted. To be (marginally) more creative I decided to tap into my criminal side going instead as The Godfather. With our “proper” cameras in tow Luke, Lufa and I made a strange trio of costumed paparazzi. I am still learning more about my PowerShot G5’s capabilities after close to three years. I have never been happy with its results in low light, but pushing it to the highest ISO level I was able to grab a few decent shots. Ideally I need to use bounce flash but I am hesitant to spend money on a camera that I am likely to replace within a year. Instead I now need to experiment with noise reduction techniques in order to clean these up before I display them all here in a new Cambridge gallery for this year. Sparkie already has a few photos on display.

Fragile Things

But all, all are fragile things made up using just 26 letters arranged and rearranged again and again to form tales and imaginings

-Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things

Fragile ThingsThe inevitable commercialisation of the book industry was clear once the disparity between hard and paper back releases became a standard. To read a book on day one, you’ll have to shell out for the hard back edition which, pretty and sturdy as they may be, are somewhat overpriced. What I didn’t realise is just how high that markup is. Neil Gaiman is, as you know, one of the few authors who captures my imagine (and wallet) enough to draw me into that purchase on release. His new collection of short stories, Fragile Things, comes with a reasonably hefty retail price of £17.99. You can imagine my shock, then, to discover Amazon selling it for just £8.99! Quite how the high street chains get away with such a huge markup is beyond me, but I urge you not to buy from them at such extortionate levels — I’m reasonably confident Neil isn’t seeing any of the money.

This is, somewhat improbably, the second book I own named Fragile Things, the other being a now impossible-to-find novel about a female glass artisan. I have yet to actually read much of Gaiman’s new offering, so a recommendation would be somewhat premature. Yet simply based upon the fascinating Smoke and Mirrors collection, I feel I can nonetheless. Reading time will become more limited once term starts in earnest, but I shall endevour to highlight my favourite bits over the next several weeks. There is nothing I enjoy more than to share his fabulous arrangements of letters, words and sentences.

“We’ll Give ‘Em War.”

Warthogs are cool. Scorpions are cool. Controlling lots of Warthogs and Scorpions and sending them into battle is really, really cool.

Halo Wars FAQ

Halo WarsSuch was the official answer as to why a real-time strategy game set in the Halo universe ought to be made (by Age of Empires developer Ensemble Studios), and little more need be said really. Bungie had said there would be big news at Microsoft’s X06 show in Barcelona and indeed there was, in impressive cinematic form. The trailer stakes it territory well and the words “Spartan Group Omega” will widen the eyes of any Halo fan, probably combined with a rather stupid grin.

The X06 show marked the crowning achievement in a great first year for Microsoft’s new console. After a bout of console issues at launch they have now hit their stride and are able to focus on games. Sony’s presence at TGS, meanwhile, was so lacklustre as to be bizarre. They essentially danced around the topic of games, with a press conference that consisted largely of explaining how lovely this technology called “teh internets” is. They did, however, provide the first truly impressive PS3 gameplay trailer in White Knight Story. Towards the end I was unsure how much was in-game and how much was cutscene, but the very fact I was confused bodes well. Still, the lack of standout games (aside from the obvious Metal Gear Solid) must be unsettling for fans.

Nintendo’s notably low key presence at Japan’s biggest gamming show is puzzling, and many speculate must date back to an old feud (TGS killed all its family and a blood feud was begat or some such). Meanwhile, Microsoft’s other scoop was unveiling the first gameplay footage of Assassin’s Creed running, of course, on the 360. One hopes its impressive wall-scaling escapades should quell TomTom’s penchant for climbing things that should not be climbed. But it probably won’t.

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