Saturday, September 08, 2007

Installing one additional gig of RAM has worked wonders for my exploration of Rapture. No more juddering, shuddering, abrupt system freezes, no more crashes. Now I'm ready to immerse myself in Bioshock. Thanks to YKM for the tip, though that was what I actually intended to do in the first place.

But gamer or not, I do too have a social life. Caught the All Blacks demolish a brave Italy at the Rugby World Cup with Anne, Mel, Wayne, JY and Thad. June and I joined them at Blooie's for dinner and dessert.

Yay, Blacks! Though the final scoreline (76-14) was a testament to how one-sided the match was. Oh well, Italy already got the soccer World Cup. What would they want a Rugby one for?
Casting off and casting care and concern aside, D. NY EL went on retreat to the Pulai Resort, Desaru. Josh, Baggy and I brought accompanying spouses, Boss Lady brought her 2 not-so-little gremlins.

Welcome to Desaru! This is about as exciting as it gets here. No modern conveniences of a shopping mall anywhere, but enough beach, swimming pool, and plenty of food for a relaxing get-away-from-it-all. It's a place to come to when looking for a slower pace of life, and to luxuriate in the otherwise guilty pleasures of torpor and indolence. The food quality isn't great, in fact it seemed to deteriorate gradually while we were there, but there's enough palatable selections on the buffet table at every meal to keep us going.

This here's the beach. We had dry, sunny weather throughout our stay. The beach is white and sandy, with lots of washed up seashells and shell fragments. June gathered a small collection of the best looking ones. The beach is mostly free of human debris, and while we were there, quite free of human beings as well. Nice.

This is a local individual who is suffering from a severe identity crisis. It and its friends were responsible for what I initially took to be bicycle tyre tracks all over the beach. We only saw this one though. How it got hold of a land snail shell to inhabit is probably an epic story worthy of a Peter Jackson retelling. I simply don't have that kind of imagination.

It wasn't all play and no work, though. Here we take a little break from our daily inactivity to get something useful done. Yes, the never-ending marking of the academic profession goes on vacation with us.

Probably the highlight of our retreat was our night cruise down the river on a vessel that reminded me somewhat of the African Queen in search of the Heart of Darkness fireflies. To reach the jetty, our 2 mini-buses bumped their way through a near pitch-dark off-road track through a plantation of oil-palms. Amazingly, there were a few people walking the same path that we drove through. Without their own illumination, their night vision must have been incredible.

Fireflies we found, but, as Mel said, what was even more fascinating were the stars overhead. They stood out for us city folk like never before, here so far from the glare of urban civilization. The stars have never been so bright, nor as numerous, and I saw a couple of constellations I roughly know the shape of, but could never before see in our own night sky.

1 weekend left to chill, then it's back to reality again...

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

"Why doesn't anarchy work?", I asked Wayne and Linc just yesterday. Apparently, it's because we are ultimately beings that function best when organized around one or more common goals, or something like that. Today, I am getting an object lesson on anarchy, as defined by rampant industrialized capitalism fueling unfettered scientific research and development devoid of any moral considerations whatsoever in an environment of complete freedom of expression and no censorship. Welcome to the undersea utopia of Rapture, the setting for Bioshock, the latest FPS to hit the console and PC market.

In Rapture, anarchy, which begins as a visionary Industrialist's dream, quickly degenerates into violence and hell-under-the-ocean-depths. Scientific research here finds a way to genetically enhance the good citizens of Rapture, and soon everyone wants to biologically command electric bolts from their fingertips to fry their irritating neighbours with. Before long, the genetic enhancement process drives everyone nuts, then it becomes open warfare, survive or die. There, another example of how our human nature simply cannot be left alone to manage things on our own.

Fortunately for the player's character, R&D also results in some awesome weapons and ammo the player can find lying around or pry from cold, dead fingers. The player also may seek genetic enhancements, boosting fight or puzzle-solving prowess to superhuman levels, a great asset to have in this game.

How far have I progressed into Rapture? I'm just a couple of scenes past the intro, admiring the detail in the underwater environment, the play between light and dark areas, and the ferocity of the AI enemies.

But sadly, I haven't progressed much further. The game crashes often on Mr L33t whose components are just past a year old as of today. Looks like I'll be in the market for another gig's worth of memory, a faster video card (my current 7600 just can't make it anymore), and perhaps a good sound card to complete the ensemble.

But again, no hurry. The D. NY EL retreat begins tomorrow morning. We're going to be leaving civilization for a few days to enjoy some Resort living. No technology... ttfn!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Officially, we're having a week off, but most of us staff still found our way back to campus for one reason or another. Consultations, backlog admin, the consolation is that we're assured of lunch company.

Anyway, it's a bit late but I've finally got our new NYconneX print edition #6 uploaded. Glad to say that the editorial team did most of the layouts themselves, though they're still rough around the edges.

Thanks to the sponsorship of Jane's committee, we could afford a little better quality paper for this run. We opted for 80 gsm photocopy paper which made the colour pix stand out beautifully compared to our usual newsprint. Now Wan's asking for a reprint of another 1k copies for use as publicity material at our upcoming Open House.

Good job, my Editorial Crew!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Here's a great study tip: eating makes mugging more effective. Ain't that great to know? Click here.