What troubled me…

…this week was my Wii reservation. A made that reservation at Amazon.de and thought as soon as they know how and when to order the Wii everything should be fine: I get my E-Mail, place the order and will be the happiest freakin’ man at the 8th of December. But I was very wrong. At Thursday this week Amazon.de emailed every person that put a reservation on the Wii. It said “Now: Order your Wii. Limited quantities available.”. “Ok, then go on and order it!” you might think but I attended a seminar at the time I got that E-Mail. “So what? Order it later that day!” you might say and I tried so but the presale was online for about 20 minutes. That was a timeframe I could not make. “Poor man!” you think (at least I hope so ^^’) and yes you were right but I could not stand the fact to not play Zelda at the 8th of December.

I went to my local retailer and asked for their help. With teardrops in my eyes, crawling on the floor I begged for mercy to give me the chance of holding The Sceptre of Light in my hands at the first day of the new dawn. And they had mercy. The Wii is as good as mine and you will hear from it many many times ^^

Doom your AcrobatReader
This Friday I had to make some changes to an old program I worked on. It is about programmatically report generation, so nothing very fancy or interesting but it had to be done. There is a “GuideProgramming” for this amazing report generator but due to the fact that it does not really apply to the library it is somehow worthless.
What’s with Adobe Acrobat? Ah yes! So I had this “NoGuide” and more and more reports for testing reasons. My whole system got slow, simple browsing or text editing with my editor was impossible. I was in a really bad mood and got more and more annoyed by the AcrobatReader. Always 10-15 seconds of waiting just to open a 2 sheet paper I want to read. Filling up the memory with 40-50MB. I thought “Damn it! It can’t be!” and started to look for alternatives.

I asked a friend and googled for alternative solutions. A simple PDF Reader cannot be too much to ask for, can it? The first thing you will find if you look for a “pdf reader” in Google without looking for Adobe products, is the Foxit PDF Reader. I found some more PDF Reader but every single Software was Shareware or had something else that pissed me off. So I tried Foxit and I instantly was happy. I clicked on a PDF and it opened up in less then a second even with Eclipse and VS running. Some titles and the page displays font was bold but the speed was so marvellous that I made it my standard PDF Reader.
There is one thing I hope they will implement very soon: Foxit opens an instance for every PDF, even if another clean instance is running. With more and more PDF Reports opening up for testing that can get a bit messy. But nevertheless everything else works fine and the idea of clicking on a PDF and actually see it at the same time makes this program worth a big recommendation. So download and install this rapid PDF Reader.

Intel Demo Competition
INTEL has called out for the first “Intel Demo Competition”. In cooperation with ASUS and Digitale Kultur e.V. Intel summoned probably the five best European Demogroups from all different countries. The contestants are as follows:

The rules are pretty simple. To show off that Intel is the best hardware manufacturer (and as supporter of the Demoscene for some years now) every group got an identical machine, an Asus Intel Centrino Duo Notebook to make a Demo on. A Demo has to be between 30 and 40 seconds long and has to run on that machine. How long the Demo has to be was determined by DJ Hell. He produced five tracks for these five Demos. All contestants had about 10 weeks time to finish their work and now is the time to vote.

All Demos can be seen online at the Intel Demo Competition Website or downloaded from the same source. There is a voting running to decide which group made the best Demo of them all. The voting is open till December, 1st. Then we will know who will be the first European Intel Demo Competition Champion. So go ahead, watch them all and vote for your favourite.

Blue Screen of Death
WindowsMfeOh hell yeah, Windows nostalgia. The Blue Screen of Death is back and we missed it, don’t we ^^!? And who if not Microsoft can give it back to us. No, Vista has not been publically released yet. But it is MS who brings you the BlueScreenSaver. A small ScreenSaver for your crash proven Windows PC that will make you reminisce about the good old Windows95, Windows98 and WindowsME times. It gives you just a simple BlueScreen with a more or less real error message. Actually there is nothing special about it, just 640×480 pixel of Windows history but I love it ^^’.

Fanboys
To end this wonderful, delightful and splendid post I would like to present you the Fanboys Trailer. A journey for friendship. A journey to give their dying friend his only hope to see Star Wars – The Phantom Menace. Fanboys shows us this journey of four guys that are way too much into Star Wars. See them rock the Skywalker Ranch and Role over the enemy, the antagonist, the villain Star Trek ^^.
Go, go, go and watch the trailer over at IESB! Itse very nice man!

Viktoria Tolstoy

Tolstoy ViktoriaViktoria Tolstoy is a 32 years old Swedish Jazz Vocalist with the most beautiful and powerful voice I ever heard. This very talented Singer has been afloated with great reviews all over the world and is one of the most famous international Jazz Stars. She has 7 Albums out on the market. The first was to come out when she was 19 years old. She has occasional appearances in TV and Movie productions, did several Europe and World Tours and was the opening singer for the World Championships of Track&Field. And yes, she is the great great granddaughter of Leo Tolstoy.

Her musical style is basically Jazz of course, but what I like about Tolstoy is the mix of traditional Jazz and Blues elements with Pop and even Rock. The first albums were classical Jazz Albums, later on more Pop was mixed into her songs. In addition to her very strong, lightly maidenly voice some great songs made there way into the music business. Her best albums are My Swedish Heart and White Russian in my opinion.

In September this year she released her seventh Album Pictures of Me which is a cover album. 13 songs with different kind of styles sang and interpreted by Viktoria Tolstoy. Songs from Prince, Peter Gabriel, Seal and more…

I know there are several good Jazz and Blues Voices out there but Viktoria Tolstoy is my favorite. Torun Erikson, Lisa Bassenge, Diana Krall or Norah Jones are all fantastic singers but none of them has the variance of Tolstoy. Every woman great in her style, her arrangement but what fascinates me about Viktoria Tolstoy is here much bigger influence of other genres. Erikson and Bassenge have some Pop and Country Songs but it is Tolstoy who gives the songs a new style, a new face, a new direction, especially with “Pictures of Me”. So my recommendation is: Listen and feel!

I uploaded three 30 seconds clips to my site of her newest album “Pictures of Me” to convince everyone of this wonderful voice. I hope nobody will sue me ^^’.

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Source of Picture: http://www.viktoriatolstoy.com/

Rainlendar 2.0

Probably the most important tool I use on my PC. Rainlendar, the desktop Calendar. “So what?” you might say, “There are hundreds of them!” and yes you are right. And let me tell you this, I tried them all. I tested nearly every single one of them. Night after night I was searching sites like BetaNews or was hunting for a shareable desktop calendar in Google. But none of them was nearly as clearly structured, intuitive to use and as fast as Rainlendar. A great and almost fully customizable tool that is very dainty and does not take all your desktop away.

Normaly I would state “…and as free as Rainlendar!” but that has changed. A long time Rainlendar stayed in a very low versioning (0.2.xxx) and was free. Lots of skins and languages were available and I was happy. Last month Rainlender 2.0 was released. Fully enhanced. Even better than before and with an improved Network Shared Calendar. But wait? What’s this? Lite and Pro Versions? NOOOOOO! I was shocked and paralysed in the first twopointfivefoursix seconds but then I started reading.

Yes it is true: The Pro Version costs 15€ Euros and adds Network shared calendars as well as Outlook support (which no sane man should use) to the Lite Version. BUT everyone can download the Pro Version and install it. It runs fine and is fully functional without a time limit. What it does is that it adds the word “[UNREGISTERED]” to every Network and Outlook Calendar entry. I think we can live with that and if you cannot just buy it. 15€ Euros is a good price for this really really good program with the following features:

Feature Lite Pro
Events and Tasks    
Alarms    
Localizations    
Multiple calendars    
Event manager    
Import & Export    
Backup & Restore    
New XML format skins    
Old Rainlendar skins    
Printing    
Lua Scripting    
Network shared calendars    
Outlook support    

You can download Rainlendar from here. There is a Windows and a Linux Version. Go ahead and download the Pro Version because as I stated earlier it is fully functional. The download is about 3MB small. I would recommend to anybody to try this program. It is just a great addition to your normal day planning.

What troubled me…

…this week were many movies I have seen or heard about. I watched “7 Zwerge – Der Wald ist nicht genug” which was hilarious (leave your brain outside and you will piss yourself). Not only movie movies but also a lot of game and fun movies that I stumbled upon this week… and I played Sam & Max of course ^^

Street Fighter – The Movie… AGAIN
I do not know if I should smile, laugh, cry, commit suicide or just kill everybody else. Yes, it is true: Street Fighter gets another movie. After a pretty much stupid and bad movie with Jean-Claude Van Damme Capcom intend to bring you a new generation of fighting. That nowadays fighting movies do not have to be good was mentioned by me before. Hyde Park Entertainment will produce the new Street Fighter Movie in a joint venture with Capcom and it is going to be released in 2008: Street Fighter’s 20th Anniversary! The story will be focused on Chun-Li this time and it is stated that less characters from the game will make their way into the movie.
I do not really know what to think about this. There are basically no informations right now only that there will be a movie. So before I commit suicide I will wait until they cast Jean-Claude Van Damme again.

Se2en and 28 Weeks Later
Yep, two more movies I need to talk about. This time real sequels and prequels. First of all the somehow successful film by Danny Boyle “28 Days Later” gets another Episode. 28 Weeks Later is a direct sequel to the events of the first movie. 6 Month after the Virus had infected London Great Britain is a dead island. The US Army declares that the War over the Virus has been won and is constantly repopulating the cities. Refugees and hope returns to London, families reunited. But the Virus has not been exterminated. It slumbers in the some inhabitants of the city…
28 Weeks Later is directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo this time. Juan has not made many movies yet but those were damn crazy. Intacto and Psycotaxi were damn strange movies so he may be the right guy to direct Weeks. Overall the cast is pretty much new with some more or less famous actors (Harold Perrineau from LOST as example). It is going to be released next year in May but I think nothing has been confirmed in that direction.
The Movie has yet to release a trailer but I found some interesting raw material from the scene. See it here!

Another snippet of news itself is the make of a Se7en prequel. David Fincher’s 1994 movie with Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt will get another Episode to enlighten us why John Doe is a freakin’ bible addict. Not much information here either but you can search for news on “Virtue” because that is the production title which turned out to have a twist to Se7en at the end.

So many movies, so many Zombies. If you are somehow into Zombies why don’t you have a look at ZOMGies!!!1 over at LoadingReadyRun!

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Everyone who knows me should know my affinity to the Wii Console from Nintendo. I preordered it and I am so looking forward to this. I can barely stand the wait and will probably have to freeze myself. I especially look forward to The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. I think anyone who ever played a Zelda game will immediately be fascinated by these games from the NES, GameBoy on to the GameCube. So with the Wii the newest Zelda will be released for the Wii (of course ^^’) and the GameCube and if you look at the videos or the images you will see what power the GameCube has. It just looks amazing! It will be one of the greatest games of all time, at least for me and for you I do not care. Play it and see for yourself. But why this post? In the latest 1UP Show they had an interview with the Localisation Managers of NOA playing Zelda and answering some questions. The 10 minutes video is filled with incredible scenes from the game. Go ahead and see for yourself. I had to post it!

 

So that’s it for this week folk. See you around!

Sam & Max [S1E1]: Culture Shock

It is done! Sam & Max have returned after 13 years of absence (whereof two years Sam & Max were just a Lucasarts announcement). After Sam & Max Hit The Road Telltale Games brings them back with a lot of marketing (and exclusive contracts with GameTap), comic strips, a new distribution method and fully 3D! The big Dog and his somehow lunatic Rabbit have returned under a new star but with all the old humour we loved back then. Let me sum it up for you…

Story
Soda PopperSteve Purcell’s Sam & Max, the Freelance Police, are still in business. And while Sam is playing Wilhelm Tell with Max whilst he is balancing on a ball they are waiting for all those criminals that need to learn a lesson. A hard, scary and brutal lesson if so has Maxs way. Suddenly the telephone rings but it is nowhere to be found because their very own house rat has stolen it and demands cheese, Swiss cheese. Meanwhile our (anti-)heroes are negotiating with a rat something odd is making its way through the city. Former child stars of the Soda Poppers are spreading out and act weird, very weird: Vandalism, impersonation and unwanted deliveries! Something is wrong and Sam & Max have to solve this riddle… but a much bigger evil is growing behind.

Graphics
“Culture Shock”, the first Episode in a six Episode series comes with a slight better Bone Graphics engine from Telltale itself. The graphics are not really bad or state-of-the-art but fit to the Sam & Max style. The complete 3D style is based on a colourful environment with winding buildings and interior. A lot is done with just colouring and shading but there are also lots of fine textures. Everything illuminates the whole scenario and leaves a great mark. Overall the designer were inspired by the old “Hit the Road” game. Even some specials and trivias have been transported into the new 3D environment. Every Sam & Max fan will feel itself home immediately. The graphics are no new Unreal but it is exactly the style Sam & Max needed. It reminds me of Grim Fandango, the best Adventure ever in my opinion.

Old and New

Gameplay
Sam & Max is an oldskool Point’n’Click adventure where you control Sam (No Max this time, sorry!). Nothing more, nothing less. Everything is handled by the cursor. The interface is intuitive and most likely you will only need your left mouse button. The inventory is a little box (couldn’t think of that, could we ^^) in the corner and your gun is your best friend. You will never have to scroll through your inventory because of plenty of items. Inventory puzzles are present but only as much as needed. The whole scenario plays around their office. You play along the street, a psychologist and a corner shop. All places are small but filled with interesting stuff Sam & Max have to comment on. If you do not want to solve the big mystery you can even ride your car and catch some delinquents. A funny action sequence like Full Throttle! combined with some of the funniest lines of the game. Overall a very classy Adventure which warps you back in the nineties and a time where Lucasarts made good Adventures.

Humour
Most important for you probably is the humour. One word should be enough: Hilarious! There are so many funny lines you will piss yourself laughing. All those old references, continuous asking actions and the notes by a damn crazy Rabbit that wants to punish everyone will keep you laughing until you gasp for breath. Not only the conversations but the whole environment is filled with allusions to the old Sam & Max and much more. Some example:

Sam Take that you lawbreaking dairy products!

Max Sam, No! The cheese was innocent!

Sam Innocent!? I think not.

Cheese

Every sentence if filled with analogies, word jokes and much more fun by those two damn cranks. Not only them but every character has some nice gags you will run into. But the bests are with Max of course ^^. Overall Culture Shock is much about talinkg. Some minor talking riddles but bascially just the jokes, the wits, the fun comes through those dialogues. Subjective I think that this Episode has more lines and jokes most fulltime games have. Just great!

Conclusion
Pull over or else...In my opinion Sam & Max is the first “real” Adventure since Monkey Island 3. It’s not only about puzzles. No mechanic riddles. Not just inventory items to combine. No “Go get me this and you’ll get that!”. Do not get me wrong it has everything an Adventure needs but does not limit itself to that. All Adventures untill this day were copies of memories developers had from the time they played Indiana Jones and Monkey Island. With Sam & Max you feel that these guys made those Adventures back then (Telltale was founded by old Lucasarts developers).

If you have to criticise anything than it would be the playtime. About 3 hours is not much but enough compared to the price. With 5 more Episodes to come I cannot stand the wait. All I can say is “BUY IT DAMN IT!” It is worth every penny and if it would cost 100$. If you love Adventures then you will marry Sam & Max: Culture Shock! Otherwise Max will give you a Shock Treatment!

Source of Picture http://www.mobygames.com/, InGame Screenshots taken by myself.

The Imagination Enhancer