Sunday, August 30, 2009

Why after 15 years I decided to end my personal war against the Playstation

I recently got myself a Playstation 3. I know what you must be thinking: "But Geek, did you not already own an Xbox360 and a Wii? Surely one doesn't need more than that? Especially since 99% of all games are released for both the Xbox360 and PS3! More importantly, have you not dedicated yourself to Sony's destruction ever since the launch of the Playstation 1 marginalised the Ultra 64?" That was exactly my argument when I got the Xbox360 (that, and it was cheaper).

So why did I now a year later buy a PS3 after all? Because Microsoft is a bunch of fucking DRM pushing software patent lobbying dip shits carrying the plague of monolithic legacy code bases.

I shouldn't be surprised. Since that was my opinion of Microsoft even before this shit fell into my lap.

It all started with the release of Street Fighter 4. Which in my humble opinion is THE fighting game, ever to be released; edging in just in front of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters for the SNES. The killer feature in favour of SF4 is the inclusion of online play. Finally, I have access to billions of opponents (I realise the actual number of SF4 players might be substantially lower).

Here's the kicker, to play online on the Xbox360 you have to pay up. Microsoft won't let you use their network for actual gaming unless you pay a monthly fee of $7.99. Thinking I'll actually only play actively for one or two months anyway, I pay for 3 months of gold membership (as they call it) for a whopping $20. As I always do, I create a virtual credit card with precisely $20 on it, input the info on my Xbox360, and boom I'm in the game getting my ass kicked by unknown stranger after unknown stranger.

Time goes, and I play less and less (perhaps mainly because the D-pad on the Xbox360 sucks donkey balls). As I predicted, I have no wish to extend my gold membership. Along comes a mail from Microsoft indicating that they can not withdraw the necessary membership fee from my credit card (as I intended). Seeing as how the console is shipped with a one month trial membership which automatically reverts to the normal silver membership once the time is up, I believed that the same principle would apply when they didn't get the cash from me. How wrong I was.

First they just suspended my gold membership effectively making it silver. "Great!" I thought to myself, just what I wanted. I could still download demos and use the Xbox Live Store and all, just not play online which I didn't want to. But soon after, they suspend my entire account! No access to Xbox Live at all! I even tried creating a new account, but no luck. Must be bound the console or something.

Then I actually start looking into resolving this shit because I actually wanted to use Xbox Live to download demos and buy Live games. And it turns out, there's is no way to cancel your subscription for gold membership through the console. Oh there's a big "Sign Up" button, but no bloody "Cancel" button. Apparently the only way was to PHONE them! Excuse me? Phone? I hardly have a phone. I consider my iPhone to be more of a wearable computer than a phone. You're a computer company for fuck's sake! Get with the program and put your shit online! A friend later told me that you could through but note that it was NOT possible through the Xbox Live homepage, which I thought was the natural place to look.

Now, that they've locked my account however, I can't go through that page. I'll have to call them, or give them a new credit card with credits on it. Not being that fond of the whole concept of speaking with customer service, I start thinking of alternatives. There's only one series that's Xbox360 exclusive that I'm interested in and that's Mass Effect (fucking amazing game). With numbers two and three looming on the horizon, I have to get this shit sorted. Luckily, it's released for Windows PCs. My computer having been upgraded to a kick ass 8(4) core iCore7 and GTX260, that's good news. I still wanted a machine to handle my media playing needs and the other 99% of games that are cross platform and that's where the PS3 comes in.

For my media viewing needs, it's everything I ever wanted. It plays everything smoothly over the network, or USB stick. It's fast, even when browsing through my external media drive which the Xbox360 frankly was shit at. It's also glossy black so it happens to looks terribly good in front of my glossy black Samsung TV. Korean and Japanese technology fused together in a dark, shiny glory. It's not perfect however.

Why the fuck does everything have to install? I pop a game disc in it, it has to install it. I download a demo from the Playstation Network, it has to install it after it's done downloading. It's not a fucking PC. It shouldn't have to install anything. No one ever accused a Playstation of being free of loading times though.

I have to give praise for the use of a standard PC power connector and having its PSU internally (another area where Microsoft fails miserably). This meant I could buy my PS3 from the UK and not worry about their idiot three pin plug. Just take a spare cable with a proper plug from the closet, plug in, and I'm done. HDMI connector in the back, thank you very much. So I ended up using none of the cables that came with the thing (except the USB cable for recharging the controller). Built in WiFi meant I could get rid of the network cable that had been blocking the entrance to the kitchen. The Xbox360 does not come with built in WiFi. For that you have to cough up about another €70. Effectively making it more expensive, while having less features, than the Playstation 3 at current prices. Way to go mr Balmer.

Oh and the controller. I never really did like the PS controller being a SNES zealot. But it's quite good I have to say. I still don't like the square, triangle and so forth labeling on the buttons. I just find it confusing because I can't devise an easy system for remembering their locations. But the D-pad.. Yeah, it fucking pwns the Xbox360 controller in the face.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Back from Prague

Spent the weekend in Prague. Sunny skies and warm weather. A fantastic city with grand sights and good beer.

Best thing I ate was roast pork knee. Yes, a knee, I kid you not! The place had actually drawn a pig on a blackboard and a large arrow indicated the knee quite clearly.

I believe I share my love of knees with wolves and beers.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Seriously bored

I three weeks I'll have left my current job and started my physics studies. Until then I am doomed to labour in boredom it seems. Parallell to my leaving, my department is transferring to China; meaning less and less for us over here to do.

I am literally not doing anything work related at work these days. And it sucks...

Monday, August 03, 2009


Success! Or kinda.. Will be adding my run statistics only on Twitter from here on and they will be listed to the right here. Would be nice to have some form of automatic statistics available, like total distance travelled this month, but this will do for now. Too bad Trailguru is way too promiscuous about the information it gives out. I just want that stats, not the bloody map.

Pointless posts piling up.

Thursday: 4,2 km. Time: 22 minutes
Friday: 7 km. Time: 45 minutes

I have to see what I can do about putting these posts somewhere less conspicious. I'd like to have them in the sidebar so I don't have to write a whole post just about running 2 km. I'll have to see what I can do about that...