Archive for January, 2009

My three complaints with the Macbook Aluminium

January 25, 2009
The cat appreciated the Macbook just as much as I did.

The cat appreciated the Macbook just as much as I did.

One of the Macbook Aluminium’s strong points is its cat compatability, as evidenced from the image above. And overall it is a fantastic laptop. In fact, it is easier to point out its flaws than its strong points.

I’ve had my Mac for about three months now, and these are my complaints:

  • The laptop easily slides around when placed on a smooth surface, such as a table. The rubber “knobs” on the bottom – which elevate the laptop from the surface it’s standing on and are meant to keep it steady – do not provide enough friction.When opened, the forward edge of the main chassis, where you will rest your palms when typing, is pretty sharp. Enough to be somewhat annoying to me, depending on what position I’m sitting in.
  • There are only two USB ports, and it seems only one of them is fully functional when running Windows – my external USB 2,5″ drive won’t spin when plugged into the other. Given the real estate on the left side of the laptop, Apple should have been to put in one more USB port and made all of them 100% functional.
  • And it does have its rough edges in Windows – the trackpad is a bit finicky – the drivers need some tweaking, and there is no right click-button on the keyboard.

You probably realise, given that these are my main objections to the Macbook Alu design, that I am pretty happy with it. In fact, I consider it the best computer I’ve ever owned.

Great keyboard, nice screen, splendid design (and quite robust), huge trackpad, decent graphics card and powerful specs, backlit keyboard, decent battery life. And you can run both Windows XP and OS X on it.

I use mostly Windows XP – it is faster, I can play games and it is less dependant on a pointing device (I am a keyboard enthusiast). However, it is nice to have OS X as a virus-proof backup, and I use Garageband and iMovie from time to time.

PS3 system update 2.60 kills Singstar PS3? [No, it was a scratched disc]

January 25, 2009

Singstar PS3 seems to have stopped working on my PS3 after I applied the 2.60 update – ouch. Haven’t been able to find any info on this so far.

Update: The problem was a scratched disc.

World of Goo – the best cooperative gameplay on the Wii yet

January 15, 2009

After checking out World of Goo on my PC and reading a few glowing reviews (particularly Eurogamer’s Wii review), I decided to buy it for the Wii using the WiiWare download service.

World of Goo - getting around

Multiplayer has always been my favourite aspect of the Wii, and Wii Sports/Tennis and Bomberman my favourite games on the console. (Haven’t had the time to play much Mario Galaxy or Mario Kart yet.) Both Tennis and Bomberman are competetive games – though the best part of Tennis is playing doubles – while World of Goo is a purely cooperative game (well, unless you have rowdy friends, at least).

Very briefly explained, World of Goo is about helping small gooballs get to the exit of a level by building structures with them. It reminds me of a classic game called Bridge Builder (or Pontifex). However, WoG’s puzzles are more varied, the art style is incredibly charming, the music is great, the gameplay is very well suited to the Wii remote, and best of all, the cooperative gaming is fantastic fun and totally hassle-free. When someone else is playing, you just pick up a remote and play along.

This is AWESOME, and the way every multi-player experience should be. Mario Galaxy does it, but the second player has too small a part in the gameplay to really compare with WoG. Left 4 Dead, where your squad of four players run around killing zombies in the first-person perspective, is the only other game I can think of right now that implements this so well (the L4D implementation is a bit more cumbersome, but then again it is a network game and a much more complex one at that).

Puzzle has never been this fun. We had a one-hour three-player session yesterday, and we careened back and forth between thoughtful placement of goo balls and total mayhem as we all extended the structure in multiple directions at once. I’ll give two examples –

World of Goo - building the bridge

One level has you building a goo ball bridge from one side of a spiky valley to the escape pipe on the other side. To make sure the goo bridge doesn’t get pulled into the spikes by gravity as you extend it, you place balloons on it. Place too many too fast in the wrong place, and the bridge will veer upwards, popping the balloons on the overhead spikes. Eventually, we figured out that placing the balloons as low on the structure as possible simultaneously with placing new goo balls worked well. Also, we could move balloons along the bridge as we extended it, to make more careful adjustments to its height. The fact that it really helped to be more people – we could do different things at once – makes the multiplayer gameplay feel very meaningful.

Another level requires you to build a huge tower of goo balls to get to the exit pipe far above. It took us a few tries to find the right balance of tower width at the bottom and narrowing spire at the top. Two times our tower project wobbled into chaos as we started madly extending the structure at the top. Total failures, but very, very, fun!

Try this game. Its single player mode is nice on the PC, but the gameplay really shines in the Wii cooperative mode.