Wednesday, September 18, 2013

iPod capacities

Was thinking about getting a new iPod since I dropped the one I have and cracked the screen, but the largest one you can buy is 160Gb which seems a bit rubbish considering my 120Gb one must be at least 3 or 4 years old now. I had a look at the history of iPods and in 2001 when they were first released they had a 5Gb capacity. By 2007 you could get a 160Gb model that's an increase of 32x in the space of 6 years. In the 6 years since then, the capacity has not increased at all. Not sure if I want to shell out £200 for something which has not advanced at all in the past 6 years.

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Monday, October 08, 2012

Kindle graphic novels - follow up

Got a bit of a nasty surprise when I went to get the next volume of DMZ from the kindle store. Volume 6 and onwards aren't available :( If I'd known only half the volumes were available. I wouldn't have bothered. Getting it in print seems just as difficult though, as volume 5 was only available on kindle.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Amazon Kindle Graphic Novels

Having just finished the first installment of DMZ, I was on Amazon looking to order the second book when I noticed that a Kindle edition was available for £4 less. Curious to see how the experience differed for a hard copy I bought the e-book version. First up, a word of warning on compatible devices. It's not very clear on the Amazon website, but the DMZ graphic novels (and presumably others) are only compatible with the tablet/phone Kindle apps. You can't read the books on a normal Kindle or the PC application. That didn't bother me too much as I think a lot of the impact would be lost on the Kindle's small black and white screen anyway, so I wasn't planning on reading it on my Kindle, but it's not immediately obvious from the Amazon site that this isn't even an option. First up, the experience on a tablet. My Transformer Prime is about the same size as a graphic novel, albiet with a half inch bevel around the whole thing. Therefore, the pages of the e-book are perhaps 80/90% the size of the print edition. The kindle reader lets you read in two modes. One has each page fitted to the screen and I found this worked for most pages, the text being easily readable. Where things fell down a bit were on the more text heavy pages where the text is readable, but requires a bit of squinting. This is where the other "mode" comes in. Double tapping on a panel zooms the panel in a bit and swiping to change page now moves between panels. Large panels are only displayed partially and moving to the next "page" shows the other side of the panel. It's not quite the same as reading an actual book and purists will probably hate it, but for the convenience of being able to buy a book and read it straightaway and not having a stack of paper kicking around, it works well for me. Also, the price being cheaper doesn't hurt. I also tried out the app on my Phone (Samsung Galaxy S3) and while everything works in the same way as on the tablet, because of the size of the device it's only really feasible to read it in the zoomed in mode. I think for something to read on the bus or such this would be ok, but you are missing some of the impact of the artwork. The S3 has a reasonably large screen, but I think it would work fine on devices with a smaller screen. It's a shame you can't read the books on the PC app; not being able to read on an actual Kindle isn't really missed, but I could see Manga which have a smaller size and black and white print working reasonably well on the e-ink display. The other e-book comic service I have used is Comixology. The main advantage Amazon has over Comixology is that you can buy the DMZ collections from Amazon, whereas you have to buy each individual comic form Comixology (which works out slightly more expensive). The way the Comixology app works on a phone is quite different as well. Each panel is shown separately and stretched to fill the screen. In some ways I prefer that approach, but in others the Kindle approach is better. (E.g. with Comixology, I found myself constantly rotating the phone as one panel would be portrait and the next landscape and then back to portrait etc.) All in all, I think I'll keep reading the DMZ series through the Kindle App and will perhaps look at other books as well.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Mountain Bike Orienteering

One of the guys at work sent round a link to Scottish Mountain Bike Orienteering website who are running 6 events, one a month over the summer months. The first was today in the Pentlands. I would probably have entered in a team with Neil, but he was unavailable and I was thinking of entering on my own for a laugh, but somehow talked Rosie into being my team-mate (it was surprisingly easy). She's just got a new bike, so it was a good excuse to take that out.

The idea is that the organisers put out 30 checkpoints and you have 3 hours to go to as many checkpoints as you can, each checkpoint is worth a certain number of points and the individual/team with the most number of points wins (teams have to stay together, so if anything it's a bit harder than being out on your own). If you take longer than 3 hours you start to lose points and after about 10 minutes, that loss becomes pretty rapid.

So Rosie and I rocked up at Currie Rugby Club in Balerno, unsure of what to expect. We had the vague notion that we would just go for however many points we could get and not worry too much if we came last. Rosie reckoned we would be pretty good at map reading, but we weren't really too sure about the first checkpoint, so that wasn't a good start. In fact, we didn't even find the first one we headed for (it was pretty close to the start, so we thought we'd just pick it up on the way back. Suffice to say that didn't happen). We cycled on a bit, down a path which was marked on the map, which was actually quite a nice little descent with a rooty technical bit at the bottom (Rosie didn't think so) and onto the water of Leith where we got our first checkpoint.

The section checkpoint came halfway up a little steep section off the water of Leith, (another bit that would make a nice descent). We spent a bit of time running about trying to find the checkpoint and discovered it hidden behind a bridge. This is when we realised, part of the challenge is finding the things as well as navigating between them and cycling up and down hills.

From there, up another horrible climb (would also make a decent descent) where we got checkpoint number 3 and eventually up through a farm onto a well deserved descent. We picked up another checkpoint and headed back to the water of Leith for our 5th. (Another deviously placed one that had us running around like lunatics). From there, we followed the water of Leith back down to Colinton and began the climb back up towards the Pentlands. After a bit of searching we did eventually find another checkpoint and continued up the road to where a crossing was marked over the bypass. Turns out, this road is marked on both google maps and the O/S maps, but doesn't exist. We eventually found a way over the bypass, but had lost a lot of time and were a bit lost. This is where things started to turn to shit. Once over the bypass we struggled up a path, then up a steep hill which we had to push up, eventually after much effort coming out on the path from Bonaly up to the Pentlands.

This is a path I've had a run in with before and I hate it, so more pushing up to the top of that, then another push/struggle through a forest with mainly tree roots under foot/tire. By this point Rosie was more than a little puffed out, but I urged her on. We managed to get another checkpoint as we left the forest and headed back down onto a proper road. The plan was to get another two checkpoints on the way back, but time was running out and we decided to take the shortest route downhill and head back up the water of Leith to the finish.

We arrived back at the finish 10 minutes late which cost us 20 points. Overall, it was a good day out and I really enjoyed it, but was a little knackered. I think I could have gone a bit further, and I can't imagine the state I would have been in if Neil was there as whoever is leading the climbs tends to set the pace a bit hard.

With the full results now out, I'm glad to say while we were pretty poor, we weren't the worst, coming joint second last in our class.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Nintendo 3DS

I always mean to blog about things like these, but usually by the time I get round to writing down my thoughts, it's pointless because the moment has passed. So I thought I'd blog my thoughts on the 3DS even though I've not yet had it a week.

I'm not even sure when the idea to buy one popped into my head, I'm going to go out on a limb and blame Chris. After playing the Professor Layton games on my original DS, I was thinking of getting a DSi to replace my aging silver behemoth but Chris pointed out that I should really just wait and get a 3DS. So, I placed a pre-order on Amazon, safe in the knowledge that it would be released just after my birthday, so I'd have the cash.

I'm a bit of a 3D sceptic, while I appreciate the effect, I find 3D movies add very little to the experience and am unconvinced that any film in 3D is much better than plain old 2D. Therefore, I wasn't really too bothered about the 3D aspect of the 3DS and was really just looking for a new shiny DS.

First up, the unit itself, I got the Cosmos black one, it's probably a similar size to a DS Lite, maybe a little thicker, but smaller than my old school DS. The top screen is a bit bigger than the bottom and in addition to the usual controls/ports there is a slider to control the extent of the 3D effect and a slot for an SD card (2Gb card was included).

The 3D effect works, but you have to hold the unit in a very specific sweet spot. I have a habit of moving it about as I play, so sometimes you lose the effect and get a nasty blurring effect. I don't know if I'll get used to not moving the unit about, but it should be ok.

Game wise, the 3DS has a couple of built in games, Face Raiders is a whacky AR shooting game where you take a photo of someone's face and it is morphed into the game and onto floating heads you have to shoot.

In addition to that, I got Monkey Ball 3D and Pilotwings Resort. Monkey Ball 3D is ok, but seems a bit limited. Pilotwings Resort is really good and great fun.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


The results for the JLPT are out and somehow I managed to pass Level N4. I thought I'd get about 50%, but in the end I got 58%. What I didn't realise is that the pass mark is only 50%, so that was enough. Think it's going to be a few years before I attempt N3.


Sunday, January 02, 2011

New Year - New Films

Well, that's 2010 gone and in terms of film watching numbers it was a fairly average year, 175 in total, 1 more than 2009 and even then only because of a last minute push to watch all the HD-DVDs I've had sitting around for ages. My plan to finish off the 101 Gangster Movies You Must See Before You Die list didn't really come to fruition.

Hopefully 2011 sees a few more reviews and the completion of at least one of the now 8 film lists I have on the go. Got off to a good start with a Lord of the Rings trilogy marathon on New Year's day.

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