Thursday, May 26, 2011

Dirt 3: Review

As you might know by know motor racing is one of my favorite sports. I like seeing sport cars going around tracks at speeds that would make most people pee their pants, and one of the most terrifying must be Rally. Those four wheel drive rocket ships going around impossible corners at break neck speeds, powersliding on loose gravel or drifting around tarmac like agile cats.

As with any sport that has exposure and excitement, there have been a good number of games about it. One of the most successful franchises in the genre is the Colin McRae Rally series, which sprouts 9 titles for different platforms over 13 years. However, of those, the first games dealt exclusively with rallying, while lately there has been a small deviation from that into more off-road, x-games, etc. style. So this is the first game in the series to not have the McRae name attached to it. It is simply called Dirt 3 and it just hit the shelves, and I’ve been playing around with it.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings - First impressions

When you come across a game such as the first Witcher, with such an enthralling plot, great dialogue and overall good content, you must assume it comes from a very creative mind and with lots of background information to form a cohesive, immersive story you're part of. Such is the case, as that first game was based on stories that go all the way back to 1986, when polish author Andrzej Sapkowski submitted his short story "Wiedźmin" to a fantasy magazine's contest. His story came third, but he built upon it and 20 years later with several novels and graphic novels expanding his original tale, a video game based on his universe came out to general praise and acclaim.
It features something that is very often absent from games and which many people appreciate: mature content. I'm not talking about just sex or erotica, that doesn't make something 'mature' by itself, but the general seriousness of things going on. You could just feel the tension of the politics and stratagems, having to often choose sides, making important decisions that could change the entire story, with believable dialogue and great graphics to complete the experience.

So while I enjoyed the first game, do I like the second one?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Liar Liar: Lawyers gone funny

Since my blog is already a great big mess of all kinds of subjects, let's add movies to it shall we?
This one is about an attorney who simply cannot stop lying. It is essential for him to win all of those big juicy settlements and trials. While it's essential for his big litigation firm, all of this lying hurts his relationship with his 6 year old son, who is ultimately disappointed when this workaholic lawyer of a dad misses his birthday party. To make things even and fair, little genius wishes for his dad not being able to lie for a whole day.

Magic happens and, as wished, his dad can't lie any more.
The coupling of this hilarious premise with Mr Goof himself, Jim Carrey, could not end in anything but hilarity.

Some of the promo shots for this movie were then used as posters for Bruce Almighty

This is a rather old movie we're talking about here, around 1997, but I saw it the other day on TV and it was still funny as hell. It also got me thinking... what if this happened to me? Whether we like it or not, we lie all day every day, or say half truths, concealed truths, white lies, etc..

Bla bla bla yap yap yappa yap bla bla, you know what I mean?
- Sure man, for real...  

What would happen if the whole world couldn't lie for a week?
How many people would lose their jobs, spouses, investments... it's funny to think about it, it'd be terrible if it happened.
What kind of things would you start spurting out if you were unable to lie?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Phones tracking you: Google says data is anonymous

A couple of weeks ago the world of geekdom was shaken when some people announced they found out the iPhone was storing data regarding the location of wi-fi hotspots and cellphone antennas. Everyone was outraged about the invasion of privacy and many were concerned about Apple following them around.
Soon thereafter it was known that Android based phones were doing the same thing or even worse! The craziness spread as everyone tried to hide in bunkers because they were being tracked:

In any case, Apple said the devices were storing too much data due to a "bug" that was fixed last week with a software update, while Google came out today to assure everyone this data is anonymous and only stored for 'about a week' :

A small amount of location information regarding nearby Wi-Fi access points and cell towers is kept on the Android device to help the user continue to enjoy the service when no server connection is available and to improve speed and battery life. This information on the device is likewise not tied or traceable to a specific user.

 However, they also state that, while Google will not keep any of this information, they can't assure the public 3rd party apps don't do so, or even more, send it to the internet.

So, is it time to take our tinfoil hats out and cover our brains, or is this a whole thing blown out of proportion?
I think it's a little bit of both. While cellphones gathering location data does sound logical in order to save battery life not having to locate all the antennas or wi-fi spots all over again, this data should be at the very least encrypted, in my opinion. As was shown a couple of weeks ago almost anyone with some computer knowledge can access it, and that is a little of a violation of privacy. I can see people not trusting their spouses hacking into their iPhones just to check where they've been... Just wait, you'll see, someone will.

As a side rant, I think we are becoming a little bit too attached to these things. I see kids today walking around transfixed with their cell phones, having at them 24/7, texting by the millions. It's quite ironic to see these devices that should bring us all closer together - everyone is at the distance of a call - are actually setting us apart in the sense that we don't get together as much anymore.

Well that's all for today, I have to make a phone call.

Friday, May 6, 2011

How-to: Download videos from YouTube

Something a lot of people have asked me is "How do you download videos from YouTube?".
Well here's a quick and simple guide on how to.

This first method uses Firefox. If you don't use Firefox yet, I recommend you get it over HERE.
First of all, we need to open the Add-ons browser. You can open it by hitting Control+Shift+A, or manually:

  • For the latest version of Firefox, go to your Firefox menu, and click Add-ons. 
  • For previous versions (or if you enabled the tool bar), it is located under the Tools menu, then click Add-ons.

A window with a lot of suggestions will pop up, but just go to the search field and write downloadhelper , then hit Enter. You will be shown a series of results, but it's usually the first one:

Hit install on the right hand side of the screen, and it should start downloading and installing. Wait for the process to be complete, it shouldn't take longer than a minute. Firefox will tell you it needs restarting, so hit Restart Now:

When it opens again, you should see the add-ons manager still open. Open a new tab, and you will notice a little button with something that looks like a flower on the left of your address bar. Now, all you have to do is go to the YouTube video you want to download and then hit the little arrow next to that icon. It will show a bunch of different versions of the video you can download, for the different resolutions. Usually you want to download the best resolution one:

In this example, you'd want to get the 720p one. The program will then ask you where to save the file. Select the folder you want (or the desktop, so you can easily find it and organize it later). Hit OK, and that's it, it's downloading.
Also it's worth mentioning that this add-on works for a lot of other websites that use video. If you see that little flower spinning, it means DownloadHelper has detected video and is ready to download it.

This second method doesn't require Firefox. It involves a website that does pretty much the same thing as the previously mentioned add-on.
First, go to the YouTube video you want to download. Copy the address from the address bar:

Then go over to this site: and paste the address you just copied into the URL field, then hit Download.

If this is your first time visiting, you might get a warning message like this:

Trust me, there's nothing to be afraid of, so click "Always trust content from this publisher" and then Run.
After a bit you will be presented again with all the resolutions you can download. Click the one you want (again I recommend the highest resolution) and it will show you the download dialog.

Click download, choose where you want to save the file, and you're done!

Next week, I teach you how to hack into the FBI servers.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Zoomy pictures

Well this is just a short thank you post to my fellow blogger from mac-and-i who kindly let me use his simple yet effective script so the images in the site now open in a larger rectangle once you click them instead of opening in a new window.

Try it out with these prutty picturs.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Ayrton Senna; 17 years without the Genius

May 1st is certainly a well known date for everyone who calls themselves a "worker" out there. It's a day to relax and maybe have a barbecue, if spring weather allows it.
For motorsport fans however it marks the anniversary when one of it's biggest stars was suddenly extinguished.

There's nothing factual I can say about this person that hasn't been said and documented a thousand times before. He was a natural driving talent and a great personality loved and respected by many, transcending the universe of motor racing into the lives of millions of people. This is a very short in memoriam of Brazilian three times World Champion, Ayrton Senna da Silva.

Second place at a pouring Monaco, 1984
Interested in racing since being a child, competing in karts from age 13 and winning the South American championship, he moved to Europe to pursue his career in open-wheel racing. Soon he was going through the ranks of Formula 3, winning the British - one of the most competitive - championship.
He was soon testing at the pinnacle of open wheel series - Formula 1. Various teams were interested in signing the young talent, among them multiple championship teams such as Williams and McLaren, who unfortunately had no available spots for the year of 84, so he finally landed on a very low end team called Toleman. What he did that year opened the whole world's eyes to his skills, taking second place in a very wet Monaco grand prix and a couple of third places in Portugal and Britain.