Monday, April 26, 2010

So wow, a new Camera.

So I managed to get my hands on a neat little Canon Rebel XT Digital SLR the other day. Finally, I says, I gits me the chance to show a little of what I've been learning the past year. When I got out, one thing became quite apparent to me...

I haven't a sweet clue as to what I'm doing.

I can line up a shot nice enough, but I don't truly know or understand the aperture or the f-stop, or any of that fancy lingo that typically went over my head when I was in meetings. Now, it's not a cmplete fog, I do get some of it. BUT... I need to study. I need to learn my camera. I need to develop new habits. All things that I'm just not used to doing anymore. I've been a point and clicker for most of my camera-using life. Now, I have to DO IT ALL MYSELF. :S I used some of the preset options on the camera, but they really weren't great.
Anyway, here's a pano shot that I took tonight at Topsail beach (6 shots stitched). This is the start of something beautiful, even if I sandwiched this shot between 500 others. :P


Friday, April 23, 2010

Taking a Sick Day is Hardly Worth It

I don't know about many of you who actually get the privilege of a paid sick day, but you know what? They aren't worth it. Most people who hover around my age are typically people in positions of importance these days. If you take a day off sick, be it for sickness or pain or whatever, yes, you get your day, BUT, you have to deal with all the CRAP that goes with it when you get back. The pile of work built up from not being at your desk. The letting people down because you just can't get things done when they need them because you are a day behind. The HATED feeling that people think you were faking.

I'm never taking a sick day again. If my back is this bad again, I guess I'm damned. I'll roll myself in with a wheel chair if I have to.

Oh yes. Let's not get into the people you have to put off should you decide to try and make up the time rather than using the sick day. :(


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Playing with Macro Focus

Last fall in our Camera 35 group we had a little competition called "Fall Colours". As it turns out, I did manage to earn a first place tie in that one, with a picture that met the criteria of the judges more so than others. The thing is, my shot was by FAR not the best picture of the bunch. There were three particular shots that were so crafty and creative and really spelled out something original to me that they have since inspired me more times over than I can count.

You see, each of these pictures was shot in "Macro Focus". This means that the shot is a of something very small, like a bug, and it is brought into extreme sharp focus. Basically for me, the macro focus has been able to expand my "canvas" of thoughts for photography over the past few months. Don't think about taking a picture of that old, dead tree. Go right up next to it and take a picture of the texture of it's white trunk, and everything crawling around on it.

Here are some fun examples of macro focus. The first is the texture of a slice of white bread. The second is the tip of a tree branch. Each picture is a unique and interesting shot that you wouldn't typically look at if they were of a full slice of bread or a full tree.
I am a BIG fan of Macro Focused images.

Miss Wells, should you be reading this, I still want prints of copies of those three pictures! :)


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The daily thoughts

Well, it's obviously not daily, but it's at least something to help you piss away a few minutes this afternoon and maybe next.

The past couple of days I've been working on a new project, that is neither game nor photography related.

GPS mapping.

As many of you know, I used to work for a company that created these wonderful little things, and now that I've given my due diligence (I signed a 1 year non compete clause) to them, I can now start poking around in the realm of mapping again. I'm building maps for two different brands of GPS's. Garmin, the national leader in GPS units, and Lowrance, a local favorite because of functionality, and in reality, they are a LOT cheaper than the Garmin units.

To start off with, I'm creating an overall map of Newfoundland. It contains a number of different map items, of which I won't get into right now, but needless to say, these maps will be FAR greater in detail than the national brand stuff. I'm creating them in two different styles for each brand. One for hikers and photographers, which contain slightly less detail and have more of an overview of the land than any specific detail. The other is for motorized vehicle use (not routable... yet) which has more detail in it that makes it far more ideal for ATV, snow mobile, and car use.

This is a very VERY time consuming effort, as some maps have as many as 20 to 25 layers of detail, which all have to be modified, placed, and checked individually. Truthfully though, it is very rewarding, as the finished product is great to use and far more useful than the basic maps that either Garmin or Lowrance put out yearly.

I haven't got a name on them yet, but when I do and am ready to go live with them, I'll obviously post it here.

More soon.


I sat down to play a little of Final Fantasy 13 last night for the first time in weeks. I'd just finished Brutal Legend and wanted to see if I could bring myself to settling into it again. I was 12 hours, 45 minutes in, and I finally have run into one of the coolest characters in the game, Fang. (Yes, she has a LAME name, but she's a great fighter and has the roots for a great back story). It's very interesting that the developers have given some of the characters Australian accents. Fang and Vanille in particular, both of whom share some back story, both have this accent. I find it interesting simply because it just isn't very common. I do not recall there being ANY Australian people in any of the games I've played in recent years. Lots of evil British, Arabian, Russian, and Japanese people and tons heroic Americans, but no Australians. It'll be interesting to see if they try to parallel their stories to similar events in Australian history. So far, both Vanille and Fang are from the savage planet below Cocoon called Pulse, a sort of prison colony where people are sent if they become L'cie... kind of parallels so far... hmmm....

Anyway, that's all for today.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Game Review: Brutal Legend, AND (BIG AND) F*CK NUTS who rearend people

So I took the past week of lack of gaming and managed to get in some GREAT photos out at Cape Spear of my wife and some of the scenery. I also poked in some interesting tv viewing (Doctor Who is still stunning and it's sad that 24 is ending as it's really good this year) but I also managed to sneak in one game... Brutal Legend.

Now Brutal Legend is a game that I gave a poor shake to last year because I got frustrated with a driving level. Knowing that it was somewhat narrow minded of me to do this, AND that it was $9.99 to buy, I gave it a second shot and I was more than pleased by the results.

Brutal Legend is about a roadie who gets transported to the past by Ormagodin the Fire Beast to fulfill his destiny and free the downtrodden people of the land, AND OF COURSE win the hot babe. This game is inspired by Heavy Metal Music from the 70's and early 80's, with lots of tongue in cheek, fun to look at visuals and stars Jack Black. given that Mr. Black is a moron, it may have turned a lot of people from the title. However, he truly does ADD to the game, and his style of humor (toned down some) fits the game perfectly.

Visually, this game REALLY rocks it well, drawing inspiration from musical themed periods like the 70's heavy metal scene, the 80's goth punk scene, and even from the masters of rock, KISS. Eddie Riggs is suitably designed, looking like a roadie should, with long black hair and dressed nearly head to tow in black, scruffy chin and the obligatory cigarette. The characters around him are a treat visually as well, with the girls looking HOT (you gotta see the KISS army girls riding large cat-like beasts) and the guys ripped and rocking. Probably the best designed character of the game is the first real "boss" of the game, General Lyonwhyte, with his inspired stylings of the the glam 80's really shining through. His hair is so teased and big he uses it for wings and flies around in his gaudy gayness. Hilarious.

The music is incredible, assuming you have and affinity for Heavy Metal at all. There's a nice mix in here though, with Motley Crue and Def Leppard getting in there, and neither of which can truly be called heavy metal at all. The sounds overall in the game are very well done, with the chops, slashes, engine roaring, and screams & shouts fitting everything suitably.

The gameplay is where it really drops the ball. With repetitive side missions, hard to control Real Time Strategy elements, at times HARD to hit guitar solo button combos, and sometimes non-responsive controls (how many times did I drive off a cliff in the car??? Dear god!) it does take away from the game considerably. Not enough to not give it a shot as it's dirt cheap now, but definately to take away from a full recommendation.

All in all, it gets a $29.95 out of $69.95. It's worth the $29.95 bill simply because it is an experience in itself to visit the world of heavy metal. It's hilariously written, well laid out and looks & sounds incredible. However, the controls can be VERY frustrating at times, enough for many to not even bother with the title.



Going on 4 years ago now, I was rear ended while driving by someone who refuses to take responsibility for their mistake and it's killing me.

It's not about the money. I've gotten by just fine without it and when it eventually comes, it will be a blessing and a gift and I shall appreciate it. However, the things I really am bothered by are the fact that given that this sort of injury is so often abused by people to "cash in" that everyone who gets rear ended is suddenly a liar, a schemer, and a thief.

What people in that person's position don't think about are the sideways glances when you say you can't lift something because of the pain, the long sighs given by bosses when you have to call in sick because you are so stiff you can barely move, the pain and discomfort you feel on a daily basis simply by doing simple tasks like making a bed, or even just sitting at a desk for more than 5 minutes. That person who hit me only sees me as a money grubber. As someone who is only trying to make his life difficult, even though, in truth, I am the victim of that person, of their ignorance and idiocy.

If, by chance, you happen to do this, do the right thing and say "I made a mistake". don't be taken for a ride, but seriously, make the world a better place to live in and just fess up. If you get hit by someone, I feel for your pain, as it is one I've endured for so long now and will for the rest of my life, and there's really no amount of money that will make that easier, or any better.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Photography... what to shoot next?

Well, given the landscape of St. John's and surrounding area (dead looking trees and fog) it makes it a little difficult to find things to take pictures of, given the limitedness of Newfoundland in general. (BEFORE ANYONE GETS MAD AT ME FOR SAYING THIS... READ ON). Where Newfoundland is an island, AND my limited means of transit (I very rarely get to vacation as I am poor), I pretty much get St. John's and surrounding area as my palette. Right now, I have taken more pictures in Bowring park than anyone I know. I could create a VR tour of the place. Downtown/ Signal Hill is done to death. I have covered Torbay, topsail Beach, Paradise, Mt. Pearl, and parts of CBN (which is an hour's drive away or more). Much of the landscape is very similar too, so a lot of my older shots look like retreads.

Part of me wants to start a full catalogue of shots, starting in the east and going west. To do so would certainly help me organize myself more than I am now (with basically a directory with 50000 random photos). I started out near Middle Cove the other week with a few panoramics. That could be a starting point to a nice little journey across the Avalon Peninsula. I'll update here as I shoot.

As a gamer I'm starting to find I don't care to play games right now. I have a number of titles I can get into easily, but I'm more interested in doing other things lately. This happens to me on a yearly basis right around now. I want to go outside more now. Start taking pictures, walk, ride my grossly underused Mountain Bike. So, in this thought, gaming thoughts in general will slide more towards these things instead for a while. If anything awesome in gaming comes along, I'll certainly shout out on it. :)


Cheers to OZFM for starting to mix up their playlists recently.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Quickly today... hockey!!!!

The NHL Draft Lottery is tonight. The Islanders should land the 5 or 6 slot for the draft in June. If they get the 5 they should hope to get Cam Fowler. If they get the 6 slot, a trade might be in order.


Monday, April 12, 2010

More Game Reviews: Bioshock, AND some photography thoughts

I was sitting down yesterday, tickering away on the keyboard writing my brief review of Spider-man: Web of Shadows, and I realized something silly. I have a gamer+ otherstuff blog and I haven't done ANY game reviews yet. So today I decided to poke away another review. I think I'll stick to older stuff, because a current thought on an old thing is still quite useful. I'll be brief.

Bioshock is a special sort of game that transcends it's genre of "First Person Shooter" (FPS) to become something that truly adds to the generation of video game that it came from. With the glut of standard to awful FPS games available on the market today, it's simply amazing that there is still the capability of being original in such a well tread avenue of game.

On a personal note, I'm on the side of the fence that HATES FPS games. To me they are typically all the same and offer no new sense of adventure beyond what the original Wolfenstein 3d gave way back when. MOST of these titles tend to be point and shoot, find the key to get to the next room as things get tougher and tougher until you get to the end. You may have bigger guns, you may have prettier environments, but essentially to me they are ALL THE SAME.

Bioshock's one and only flaw for me was that it was a first person shooter. The game's environment and atmosphere, with a compelling story, as well as very pretty and believable graphics make this game able to lay claim to being one of the best games of the 360/PS3/Wii generation. You start out in a plane that crashes into the Altantic Ocean, and you swim to the entrance to Rapture, an underwater city that it filled with mystery and danger. Throught the adventure, you find the usual guns and keys and the like, but you also find what are called "plasmids". These mutate your body to allow you to shoot fire or lightning from your hands. These powers allow you to not only kill more effectively, but to interact with the environment in ways that allow you to melt large blocks of ice, incinerate gas cans, or electrify water pools and anything in them.

The control is fairly smooth, with only the getting over the left trigger for plasmids and right trigger for guns thing the only real hiccup.

The audio is simply amazing, allowing you to immerse yourself fully into the world that is rapture. The crazed citizens, called Splicers, are perfectly demented sounding and the water pouring in through various cracks in the outer shells of the world simply outstanding. The guns sound like guns from the period (the game is based in the 50's) and the voice acting is superb.

I am trying to be as brief as possible, so I will end it there and say that this is a must try title. Given it's less than $10 at most outlets now (pre-played) then there's no reason any gamer should not go out and give it a shot. There's a lot to do in the depths or Rapture.

$69.95 out of $69.95.

Away from gaming, I have been playing my hand at panoramic photography recently. Unlike the past photo competition, I'm fully prepared to present some great shots. This one is for streets and roadways. I 've tried to stick to my unique perspective on things and come up with things I would like, and I've come away with a few shots I believe are worthy of the group. I won't show any of the shots I've taken for the roads until they are presented this week with the group, but I'll stick one of my favorite panos in for good measure.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Game Review: Spider-man: Web of Shadows

I've recently been playing through some of the older games in my collection (via cheap re-pickup or wiping the dust off of stuff I haven't used in a while) and it brought me to a game I had a lot of fun with last year called Spider-man: Web of Shadows.

And the review goes a lil somethin' like this:

It's a Venom invasion on New York City as he starts "spawning" symbiote clones of himself and infects the populous and a few super-heroes as well. It's up to Spider-man to save the day, but will he do it Dirty Harry Style or Aunt May Style? With the option of choosing good or bad guy decisions at key spots throughout the game, you can mold your own Spidey adventure, and ultimately decide the fate of New York and what it thinks of him in the process.

Visually, I still long for the days of the Todd McFarlane Spider-man era with the outlandish poses, crazy stretches and gigantic eyes. This game has none of this sadly. Do not take that as a bad thing as overall, the game is pretty with "some" minor graphical glitches but nothing really to take away from the adventure. Your swing and fall animations are great and the enemies are varied with some interesting takes on some classic villains like Electro and Vulture. Electro looks simply AWESOME with a look that is somewhat of a throwback but still very firmly planted in the here and now. He is no longer a clowned costumed bad guy. It would have been great to see the city streets more populated, similar to the volume of people you see in a very similar game called "Prototype", but this is nit picking really. There's still plenty of great stuff to see here. When the city finally gets overrun with the symbiotes, you really see a destroyed city. It looks great and you get a feel similar to a zombie movie.

The sandbox style of game can feel limiting at times, as you hit invisible walls if you try to cross the Brooklyn bridge, or any of the other bridges. The city is HUGE, but it's more like a Coney Island big, not a Manhattan Island big. There are supposed to be millions of people living in this small space and to be quite honest with you, it's really no bigger than St. John's Newfoundland's total land mass.

The sound is somewhat of a short-coming in the game in only ONE major department. Spider-man is a whiny bitch. Seriously, this is the WORST voiceover for Spider-man ever, even worse than Tobey Mcguire. Everything else is perfect. Web whips, symbiote splats, etc. ALL perfect.

The real thing that makes a game for me is playability. The game can look kinda bad (see: Dragon Age: Origins) but still be amazing. It can sound awful and still be great. But a game can't be hard to play. Learning curves should be gradual, not frustrating. This is where this game really shines. It is easily the best and most easily played Spider-man title ever. It's actually FUN to swing around the city, doing it is a breeze. The fighting can be button mashed OR be done with learned skill moves, and you'll still get through fairly well.

I like to rate games with money values. At best I'd pay full price for a game, which around here can hit $69.95. If it's a crap title, it goes to the dump bin, which will garner it a 4.95 price tag. Spider-man: Web of Shadows gets a healthy $49.95 price tag from me, as it is a great game to play, fun and easy with only a few minor hickups to keep it from being worthy of being purchased for a new price.

$49.95 out of $69.95

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Quick Note on Clash of the Titans

I saw this the weekend, and I have to say I was disappointed. Only about 1/4 of the movie was in 3D, and the story was quite bland. The visuals were very nice, and Liam Neeson really stole the show as Zeus. Sam Worthington was good as Perseus, but it was the type of role he could have mailed in and it would still suite the film. Definate renter, you aren't missing anything from the 3D. With Avatar just past us, it really let us down in comparison when it comes to 3D.

Check it out if you want a "decent" action flick. Don't go for the 3D.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Thoughts on Buying a New Camera

I've been really struggling with the thought of buying a new camera for what seems like years now. I'm currently using a point and click 5.1 megapixel superzoom steady shot camera, the Sony DCH-1. While it is a decent camera for what it is, a "family" camera, I've got whispering thoughts of advancing my hobby a little to something more substantial.

I have a couple of friends (one of whom I believe reads this blog/ diary, HI JENN!) for whom I have SERIOUS lense envy. They use Canons. For the life of me I don't know the funky letter/digit code in the name, but I believe that both cameras fall in the realm of 9-10 mega pixels, Digital SLR, and they have plenty of lense joy to go around for everyone. :) For them, photography is a true passion, not just a hobby. Both their works are truly genius, with their cameras, I feel, adding to the quality of their combined works. The joy of being able to take finished work right off of the camera, something I haven't truly had ever, must be mind blowing. Both of them, along with another good friend, took pictures at my wedding last fall and I have to say we were truly blessed by their good nature for having done so for us. Some of the shots they took were amazing, and something my nice family camera just wouldn't be able to do.

I look at this more and more each day. I have lots of fun taking pictures with my camera already. I've taken approximately 15000 shots in the past 3 and a half years with it. One can lean either way, honestly. I feel a little left behind in my camera club because of it, but to warrant spending 500 to 1000 dollars on something like that I better darned well be willing to get something MORE out of it than what I know I can get from what I have now. I've tossed around the idea of doing some wedding photography. That would be a lot of fun, but I think I'd have to actually go buy a tie to wear to said events. To spell that out a little better, I don't even know how to "tie" a tie. :P

If it were just a matter of the money, I'd gladly go out and buy a fantastic camera. But, where I'm new in a home, where we need renos, where we need a new washer (not a new dryer, THANK YOU GREAT NAN IN LAW!!!) , it makes it a hard sell on the wife to get something like this. I tried at Christmas to get everyone to chip in with future shop bucks to get one, but I ended up getting a vacuum cleaner. :S Exciting, yes.

I have to be honest with myself for now I believe and stick with what I have. I just don't have the dough or make enough of it to justify it. :(


Little or no gaming the past couple of nights, as I've been busy doing other things. I was trying to do a gamerscore romp, but it ended up with me saying "What the hell am I playing Ben 10 for???" and I stopped almost immediately. I did land 850 points froma rather enjoyable game of baseball though. Check out MLB 2k6 if you want a CHEAP and enjoyably well built game of baseball.