the torch

Inspiring You ~ Part II

In the last part I talked about my favorite photographers in Virtual Worlds. And I also said that I would give you a few tips. Few of my photographs can be seen in my flicker account. I have been reading through a lot of articles to edit the photographs. The good thing about learning to edit is, not only can you do it with your virtual world pictures but also your real life pictures.

Few months back, I had written articles about how to take a good shot in Second Life and also tried a little bit of editing. At that time however, I seemed to be a noob. You may look through the articles here http://mrsdebbysharma.blogspot.in/search/label/PhotographyHow to get a reasonably good shot will explain the technical aspects of windlight settings, graphics settings and the advance settings.

I have already suggested that being good at photoshop or gimp is good for editing purpose. So, what if you want to do a quick editing online. For this purpose I use Pixlr and Picmonkey. They are almost free editing tools. Pixlr is very similar to photoshop. The only difference I have come across is it does not have a pen tool. I use Pixlr for cutting the picture and then the Picmonkey to add effects.

What tips I follow?

Since I mostly edit the pictures so that I can offer the customers a custom or a thematic background. Here are a few tips I follow while taking a snapshot:

  •  Take pictures in white background. That way it is easier to cut the images.
  • While you take pictures change the graphics in the preference window to Ultra High to get a better quality.
  • Remember your angle. Make sure you are avoiding all visible glitches as much as you can.
  • Take the snapshot of the best position according to you. Before taking a picture, you must have an idea of what you are wanting to capture. Is the face for important or the background? Are you capturing an emotion or a pose? Make sure your camera looks from your eyes.
  • Make a folder for all your snapshots so that once the final edit is done you can delete the others.
  • When you save the snapshot, make sure it is at least 1600 X 1200 pixels in size or larger.
The following are the tips to edit:
  • Cut the picture from its background in Pixlr editor using Eraser tool (E).

Use the navigator window to zoom in and zoom out. Increase or decrease the brush size according to the area you have to erase. After erasing if you see any glitches, don’t worry We can edit it further in Picmonkey.

  • For the above picture I want something elegant in the background. At the same time I want the whole image bright like in a ball room.

A background picture size can be same as the snapshot or bigger. HD quality pictures are better.If the background picture and the snapshot picture quality lighting does not match, then edit each of them in picmonkey. To find out, go to Pixlr, then go to Layer and click on “Open image as Layer” from the drop down menu. In the small window called “Layers” adjust   which layer comes beneath etc.

As you can see, the snapshot looks dull in front. Hence, I will edit the snapshot first in picmonkey and adjust the exposure.

 Well, looks better than before may be a little too brighter. This can be adjusted later.

  • The next step is to edit and add effects in picmonkey

Open the background in picmonkey editer. Then add the snapshot as an overlay {looks like a butterfly sign}. Do not merge the overlays until you are sure with the final picture. Look through the various affects and add which seems correct to the theme and to your eye. When you click the overlay you get a small window, click on the eraser tab to erase any glitches.

  • The last step is to add shadows

The shadow will be opposite to the light. Also if there are too many lights in the room, the shadow will be fade. We will add the shadow in Pixlr, by adding a new transparent layer and painting the shadow on it with a brush. The color will be black. You can change the opacity of the layer as shown in the picture.

However, for this particular picture, as you can see the shadows are on the floor just beneath the object. Hence, our final picture looks like this.

What have I done?

In the effects category in Picmonkey Editor, I have added a spotlight, focal soften and focal zoom. Then I have merged the overlay and adjusted the exposure.  A little crop with a frame and shadow has taken the photograph to a new level.

Why I did this?

I have added these effects in correlation to my theme. The theme is “A couple  is standing by the door. All that matters is to be in each other arms. When they are together the world spins around.”

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Barton’s Movie Reviews – THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2

I was a big fan of The Amazing Spider-Man back in 2012. It was a much needed reboot that came about after the Spider-Man films were dealt a universal blow in 2007 with the much maligned Spider-Man 3.

Everything changed. People were interested in seeing Spider-Man on the big screen again. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is arguably the most anticipated film of 2014 and it does not disappoint.

Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) continues his fight against crime as Spider-Man as well as dealing with personal issues, including a relationship with the love of his life Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone) and the truth behind the death of his parents.

Uncovering the truth leads to Peter facing numerous threats from Oscorp such as Electro (Jamie Foxx) and with returning best friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) in charge, the fight becomes much more personal.

Comic-book films for me, have to both look good and have a story that makes you care about the characters. With the Spider-Man comics having such a proud history, there is plenty of opportunity here.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 having our hero go up against three villains, always made me worry that it was going to be another case of ‘too many cooks’. Having too many villains could become a distraction but in this case, I think it was handled perfectly. 

Peter’s relationship with Gwen and the mystery surrounding the death of his parents were not just thrown to the side in order for everyone to witness Spider-Man go up against numerous villains. Marc Webb directs his sequel in very much the same way as the first. He cares about the characters and he wants the audience to as well. 

You just have to look at the Peter and Gwen story arc to realise this. Just like the first film, it is features heavily and with Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone in the roles, Webb has two of the brightest prospects in Hollywood to work with.

It is no secret that Garfield is a major fan of Spider-Man so bringing the character to life on the big-screen must be a dream come true for him. He brings the charisma and cockiness to Spider-Man as well as the vulnerability to Peter. 

Emma Stone has already had an impressive start to her acting career and in the role of the headstrong Gwen Stacey, she shines yet again. Garfield and Stone together though is one of the highlights of the film. Their chemistry is spot-on throughout making it comfortable to sit through their scenes.

A lot has been made about the fact that three villains appear in the film but honestly there is no issue with it at all. It could have felt clustered but that was avoided by having the one main villain and then two villains very much on the side. In fact, Rhino (Paul Giamatti) and the Green Goblin (DeHaan), only appear in the film for around 5 minutes each. It makes sense though with the plan Sony has for its franchise.

Don’t worry though, DeHaan still gets more than enough screen time to impress as Harry Osborn and Giamatti goes full on crazy in his short time on screen as Rhino, something we can look forward to more in further sequels.

Electro is the main villain this time round and Jamie Foxx really does do a great job in bringing him to life, both as Max Dillon before the accident and as Electro after. It is another example of Webb showing his care towards bringing these characters to life. Too often are villains just rushed and not given a great deal of backstory. Dillon’s suffering makes you feel empathy towards his actions as Electro.

This is not to say that Webb doesn’t know how to deliver on the action sequences by the way. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 features some of the most impressive action in recent comic-book films and part of that is thanks to Electro.

It is always going to be awesome to watch Spider-Man swing through the streets of New York but a villain like Electro provides the foundation for some truly stunning action set-pieces, most notably, a fight taking place within a power-grid. Just like the first film, it looks as if it has jumped right off the pages of the comic-books and on to the big screen.

I saw this on an IMAX 3D screen and I have to say it blew me away. The format is just designed for films like this and the 3D was put to good use, it didn’t feel like a distraction.

One department I felt the first film lacked a bit of a punch was its soundtrack. It didn’t really feel like a soundtrack that suited the character of Spider-Man. Thank goodness for Hans Zimmer then. After his work on The Dark Knight Trilogy and Man of Steel, Zimmer is the man to go to for a superhero soundtrack. 

Spider-Man’s theme has much more of a superhero feel to it and for the first time I felt myself taking a liking to dubstep. It is used heavily in Electro’s theme and it genuinely added more of a punch to any of his scenes. Listen out for a clever use of Itsby Bitsy Spider during a confrontation between Spider-Man and Electro.

“His greatest battle begins” reads the tagline for The Amazing Spider-Man 2. With the ante being more than upped from the first film and with two further sequels already slated for release, along with spin-off films for The Sinister Six and Venom, fans of Spider-Man should prepare for one hell of a battle. 

Verdict: 4/5

Kevin's Music Reviews

Kevin’s Music Reviews: The 4th – Auditory Bliss Maker & Social Club

“Experience a place, beyond time + space, where art and music unites us all.”

Do you find that your idea of sweet electronic tunes is a little different than most clubs’ idea of sweet electronic tunes?  In-one-ear-and-out-the-other-variety club staples not a part of your aural diet? Allergic to staying logged into SL while at prim-heavy venues thanks to a sadistically unreliable connection (not unlike yours truly)? Well, look no further than/make yourself home at/walk on over to (really, pick your idiom) the abstract intergalactic haven known as The 4th. Stationed somewhere between the ripples of interdimensional fabric and within a nova’s distance of the galaxy’s busiest interstellar transit wormhole, the venue fueled by characteristic “auditory bliss” never fails to deliver exactly that. On one’s journey through the universe (read: SL), finding a place that suits your unique taste and comforts can sometimes be a fruitless endeavor, but if you’re anything like me and the words “trip-hop”, “downtempo”, “uk garage” or any other decidedly uncommon music tags collect dust in your search history, it’s probably about time you took a look at this rather tasteful social club.

4168

Perhaps the most impressive thing about The 4th is it’s ambition. We’re not just looking at a space-themed club for the sake of filling in the space-themed club population in SL. Aw hell nah. A little late night brain picking with one of the owners has revealed some interesting scheme taking place. She says “the 4th was born of a deep desire to find a music based hangout on the grid that catered to an artistic community, which wasn’t steeped in medieval, gothic, or some other kind of old world culture”, and true to the aesthetic, she imparts “from all my readings about 4th dimensional experiences or the astral plane, it’s a place (in theory?) that is whatever the dreamer/projector conjures up for the most part, and SL is that too”. Simply put, there’s a clear artistic vision in place, a true labor of love. Even better, this artistic passion paves the way for a particular goal she wishes to accomplish. “When I have some time I want to pursue relationships with artists on the grid (who create in either life), ideally invite those whose work centers on themes around exploring human consciousness, alternate realities, out of body expeirences, multi universes etc – to exhibit here on a rotational basis, as well as incorporate interactive exhibits that allow ppl to read up on these concepts or even share their own ideas”, she shares with genuine earnest. There’s a lot to look forward to, and various artists throughout SL would not only fit in great with the venue’s unifying motif, but would benefit from an art club-esque community set to take off in the future.

When you walk in the doors (big gaping hole in the wall) you’ll likely be warmly welcomed by the venue’s considerate staff, hosts or the excellent DJs, if not then by the good shit playing on the radio. Regulars at The 4th share a genuine passion for music, and the music on display is often of a respectable pedigree. You’ll hear everything from milky silky deep house, feel-good electronic soul tunes, indie delights, old-school hip-hop, and the kind of high-energy bangers that even snobs jaded by the typical trance fodder (me again) can get a dose of adrenaline from.  Good vibes pervade through your computer speakers, with relaxing beats making home wherever you are situated in real life, and the music is varied and consistently of a solid quality.

You can expect your aural fixation to be satisfied indefinitely, but there’s more to the atmosphere than what meets the ears. Taking on a minimal approach to interior design, The 4th looks and feels like a legitimate piece of the greater abstract beyond, with walls bearing no semblance of traditional symmetry and geometrical subtleties going hand-in-hand with the simple color scheme. Despite the unique look, furniture and textures are an exercise in minimalism, and it procures totally stylish results. The building isn’t particularly large, but it’s this modest approach that allows even pitiful SL users like myself to stay connected for hours on end – even on busy days –without worrying about getting nipped in the butt with a cheeky viewer freeze and connection drop.

Of course, technical convenience isn’t the only thing keeping me glued to The 4th – it’s the unfailingly kind and entertaining bunch that hang out and work here that grant this venue a genuine homey feeling, abstract though it may be. Visitors and regulars are also of an appropriately stylish and mellow nature, while also keeping public chat lively without turning it into a scrollbar-diminishing word dump – it could be called the perfect size for some. Though still fairly new, you’ll find it to be a blossoming venue, and a day hasn’t gone by (that wasn’t at ungodly hours of the night) where I walked in and cool people weren’t partying their asses off to cool music. That said, The 4th is a cool place, and it makes a pretty cool case for why auditory bliss should be at the top of your downtime priorities.

Visit if you like: electronic, trip-hop, hip-hop, dance, house, deep house, indie, downtempo, chillout, artsy things.

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Retro Monday: “The Eye Toy”

Product: EyeToy

Released for: PlayStation 2

Released on: October 2003

Made by: Logitech

 

This is going to be another one of those look back at a thing rather then a game ‘Retro Monday’. Like what I said with the PSP. But that is because next week I’m going a EyeToy game. More on that next week. Now, the EyeToy.

The EyeToy was a peripheral for the PlayStation 2. It was the precursor to Sony’s current “PS Eye” and Microsoft’s literal must-have “Kinect”. The idea came to Richard Marks, a technology consultant at the time, when he was wondering the 1999 Game Developers Conference and saw a demo of the PS2. His idea was to add a camera, microphone and so enable natural user interfacing, which motion controls via a camera device. If you’re annoyed with ‘Kinect’ controls Microsoft have been forcing on you, you now know whom to blame.

Marks soon caught the eye of Phil Harrison, then Vice President of Third Party Relations and Research and Development at Sony Computer Entertainment America, (now Vice President of Microsoft oddly enough) who, when promoted to Senior Vice President of Product Development at Sony’s European division, brought Marks on board.

The camera was designed to fit with the original PS2 design, the big, blocky black one, so the case that held all the technology together was designed with that in mind. It ended up being black and having those old PS2 square ridges on the side. In the case was a 320 camera (come on, it was 2003) a microphone and two LED lights. One light was to say it was connected and on, the other was to say there wasn’t enough light. Dedicating a whole light to saying “there isn’t enough light” shows what the main problem with the came ended up being. More on that later.

The whole thing was connected with a USB 1.1 cable and sat on a pivot making it easy to point at where you wanted it to point. There was also focusing ring on the lens so there was never the problem of it getting confused and spending a few minutes auto-focusing an angry man throwing a disgruntled shoe at it.

I have an EyeToy and it was alright. It was always designed and made as a peripheral to the PS2 so there was never a problem of a game saying “connect your EyeToy and shout at me like I’m you bitch”. The games you played with it were just party games. Pretty much the catalogue of the Wii. The leading series was “EyeToy Play”, a game that consisted of a selection of mini-games where you wave your arms about like your having a seizure. After a few editions, it even got you to run on the spot and lean from side to side. It made you exercise. There even was a fitness game co-developed by Nike that put you in to an exercise regime. It worked too. Back then, I was fit. Now I’m just a wobbling jelly of a man. More on that next week…

As I said earlier, the leading problem of the camera was it connection with light. The concept of light seemed foreign to it to the point where you would have all the windows open wide and all the house lights on, at one in the afternoon. You didn’t have to do that but if you didn’t there would be so much background noise you would be totally invisible to the camera. Continue reading

Torch Top 5

The Torch Top 5 – April 14th

5) Mysterious bank shutdown

On Thursday evening, all of Swedish bank Swedbank’s systems were mysteriously shut off. Neither customers nor employees could access anything that had to do with the bank for 5 hours, starting at 9pm local time. This included bank withdrawals, credit card services, the telephone services and even the website.

An investigation has been launched to find out the reason why all the backup systems failed at once, but so far no cause has been stated.

4) Peaches Geldof dies, aged 25

Actress Peaches Geldof, daughter of music legend Bob Geldof, was found dead of a brain aneurysm in her apartment in Kent.
Geldof is survived by her husband, Thomas Cohen, her father and her daughter.

3) GWAR raises monument

Thrash band GWAR will raise a permanent monument to the late lead singer Dave Brockie, aka Oderus Urungus. Brockie passed away earlier this year, aged 50.
The statue will be accompanied by a foundation, the Dave Brockie Foundation, to promote advancement of music, images, letters and performances in arts as well as preserving the legacy of Dave’s works.
The foundation will mainly target struggling artists who, like GWAR themselves, have found it hard to survive through “mainstream channels”.

2) Kick-ass director remakes He-Man

The cinematic bomb that is Masters Of The Universe, the live action film about Mattel toy He-Man, has been cleared for a remake. Sony has been toying with the idea since 2009 and on the Wednesday it was announced that it will be done.
There were several writers in line to take on this project. Among them were Jon Chu from G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. But it was Jeff Wadlow, most known for the Kick-Ass series, that managed to land the contract.

Masters Of The Universe is scheduled for a 2016 release.

1) Ultimate Warrior dies, aged 54

WWE wrestler Ultimate Warrior, iconic for being the only wrestler who ever beat Hulk Hogan in a fair match, passed away on Tuesday evening. The cause of death has not yet been released.
The energetic wrestler legally changed his name from James Hellwig in 1993. He had just been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

Ultimate Warrior is survived by his wife, Dana, and his two daughters.

Lovecraft feature

A Horror Fan’s View on H.P Lovecraft’s ‘At The Mountain of Madness’ and ‘The Shadow Over Innsmouth’

Let me start by saying I’m not an avid H.P.Lovecraft fan. In fact the only reason why I started looking into the work of Lovecraft is because my other half is a huge Lovecraftian Fanboy. Personally, I never got what was so terrifying about his stories. That was because I never knew what Lovecraft was about, that and I’ve been absorbed into what I think is scary. Freddy Kruger, Jason, Chucky, and the Jigsaws of my generation. A conversation with my other half, which steered into the background of Lovecraft’s work, peaked my interest. And, as my long-term readers know, I’m a sucker for anything that will scare the living daylights of out me. That does not include Spiders, Spiders can leave the planet and I’ll be a happy bunny.

Anyways, the conversation was generally about our favourite horror authors, I explained what I thought about Edgar Allen Poe and he said Lovecraft. Upon telling me about a Lovecraftian creäture that whispers the details of the end of the world to you while you sleep. He stated:

‘ Insanity is the scary part.’

The common theme in Lovecraft’s novels is insanity. Characters seeing a glimpse of something and going insane, figuring out what no human being should know and their minds completely giving out. I hear the term, ‘ It’s indescribable’ a lot when talking to the other half about Lovecraft’s creatures. That is true. When reading ‘ At The Mountain of Madness’ the narrator describes every inch of the creäture and I could not picture it in my head, I simply could not get my head around the words on the page. I could picture the human and dog remains that were ripped a part. I could see the blood across the snow, but I could not imagine the looks of these creatures with Star Fish like tentacles for heads. ‘The Shadow Over Innsmouth’ was a little easier to imagine, before reading the book I watched a Let’s Play of a video game that was loosely based on the story. I knew what Innsmouth Eyes looked like, or at least another person’s idea of what they look like.

Lovecraft’s insanity and my term for insanity are completely different, I understand the concept of seeing something so horrific that you literally lose your mind, it happens in real life, I have an idea of what would make me lose my mind. The popular concept of Insanity being locked inside your own head with the nightmares that you can not escape from is kind of scary. When I think of insanity being scary, I think of something like the video game Outlast, where you play a person that who is locked inside an insane asylum with the residents on the loose and trying to kill you. You can not fight them, you can not protect yourself, all you can do is run, hide and pray they don’t find you. You could argue that it is the same, both concepts of insanity have you being locked inside of a place that you can not escape, whether it is voices, something you’ve seen, done or just a person stalking you in the shadows.

The location and story of ‘At the Mountain of Madness’ made me think of John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’ aka ‘Who Goes There?’ by John Campbell Jr. Humans in the Antarctic discover something alien that has been there for thousands, maybe millions of years. It kills them leaving only two, both shaking from the experience, one survivor is on the brink of insanity. Both are stories about Isolation, Paranoia, insanity, and stumbling on to something that should be left alone. Being chased by an unknown that you can not or do not want to see.

My other half always says that what he loves about Lovecraft is the no win scenario, there is no happy ending. Eventually Cthulhu will awaken, a person who has seen a Shoggoth will have something taken from them, you will die, it will happen and there is nothing you can do about it.

‘The Shadow Over Innsmouth’ has this element in it. The narrator just stumbles into Innsmouth and learns of its history, only find out about himself in the end. He can not do anything about it. It is going to happen, no matter how hard he looks in his mirror, no matter how much he denies it. He is getting older, he will change. His video game counter part does not fair better either. Due to our ‘there is always a happy ending society’, I assume that the idea of a no win scenario doesn’t exist for some of  you. If you are finding it hard to comprehend think of it like this:

One day our sun will die and when it does, our solar system will end. That is Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune will no longer be around. Our sun will swell up and extend to Jupiter’s orbit, that means the inner planets will be swallowed up by the Sun. We will die. There is no surviving, no escape, all we can do is wait for it to happen. Even if some of the outer planets survive they will become rogue planets floating in the frozen depth of space. There is no happy ending for us or them. It is human nature to try to rationalize the fear away, we have billions upon billions of years left, the human race will die out by then. That doesn’t change anything. It will still happen. There is no escaping it. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing every day and expecting the out come to change, we go about our lives thinking that everything we do will change the outcome of life. Like fish we swim about our daily lives but it doesn’t change the fact that there is no happy ending. There is merely insanity.

 

luftrausers

Atomp Reviews: Luftrausers [Vlambeer]

Tom Hooper aka Atomp

 

Vlambeer don’t seem to get much luck in the development space, they are constantly the victim of mobile app store cloning as unscrupulous businesses attempt to capitalise on on their good game design. Hopefully the successes of their genuine products work to offset some of the cheap arsehole-ery that the mobile market seems to thrive off and with Luftrausers the genuine product is a fine thing indeed and in this particular case the game became profitable within three days of release. Apparently based on a Flash game made by some of Vlambeer previously Luftrausers is a side-on 2D dogfighting game where the player pilots a ‘Rauser’ and uses it to dominate AI opponents.

 

The Rauser itself is difficult to describe as a plane, in most cases (as there are varying engine, body and weapon types) the flight characteristics of the Rausers are more ballistic than aerodynamic and the use of the thruster to blast around often feels much like Asteroids, but with an ocean, a sky and a whole load of baddies that shoot back. The game is scored according to a combo system, knocking out individual planes and such will net very little in the overall score but get them in a big group and your score will sky rocket. Enemies vary; with the oceans containing small boats, battleships with mean flack and submarines whom will surface and let off a few missiles your way. Airbourne enemies that I’ve encountered so far include small slow props, jet fighters, missiles, boss aircraft called aces and that damnable airship. These enemies each pose a different threat and are often not that much of a problem alone, but rarely are they engaged alone and before you know it you dodged down out of the machinegun fire of an Ace into a horrible mess of flack from the battleship perched in the water below. Health is regenerative, however it will only regenerate when not firing so it’s necessary to evade for a time whilst the Rauser is repaired. I’m a fan of this particular mechanic as it somewhat defines the game as different from top-down shooters which although good in their own right tend to focus purely on constant firing rather than the quick snappy evade and fire entertainment to be found in Luftrausers.

 

The combat is extraordinarily satisfying and to be fair it’s the star of the show and really the focus of the game. The controls are simple yet tight and the manner in which the different Rausers handle dictates your particular combat style, whether it be a fast “Crazy Ivan” prone Rauser or a heavy plow clean through enemies regardless of guns, missiles and other paraphernalia. The controls with their simplicity and retro feel give a good sensation of being an insane ace dogfighter which is then only reinforced by that perfectly executed stalled double backflip triple kill you find yourself doing to avoid getting a severe beating from flack.

 

In addition to the combat are progression elements based around unlocking weapon, body and engine parts. Continue reading

the torch

s|He|~ Part 2

It was early in the morning and the sun shone brightly. I whispered to myself, “Today is the day to execute my plan.”

My Plan:  Living the life of a MAN for the next 24 hours.

This year to celebrate Man Week, I chose the not so taken route. Although, it was a great idea, I found it difficult to execute all together. I have never played a man before. So, I had decided that for one half I will be a gentleman and the other half I will be a Casanova. I went out for an adventure. It was a great plan. But only a plan.

I got a free avatar and complete outfit from the JStyle Store. The group is free to join and they release at least one new outfit as group gift each week. The group gift contains the full avatar and the complete outfit. Teleporter http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Strigoiu/204/205/3805

As a female, I have always loved beautiful gardens and forests. So, I decided to land in a city. The first that came up in the search was London City with traffic over 7,000.

Teleporter http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/London%20City3/137/146/24

As soon as I landed, there were two ladies, one offered a friendship as soon as I landed and the other said hi. Good so far. I just never ever thought of pick up lines until now. I asked the most unusual pick up line “Are you waiting for someone?” I regretted it immensely when I did not get an answer. After a long time, when a few other girls started hitting on me. She replied cordially, “No”. A gasp of relief. Am sure its not the pick up line that worked. Well, my next question was, “Do you come here often?” She said, “I am a beginner”. Being a gentleman that I wanted to portray myself as, I said, “Please excuse me if I am being a little inquisitive”. To that there was another moment of silence. The silence grew to be a minute and my answer came with a silent ‘no, am not interested.’

Sat there on a bicycle for some time with London City gazing behind me. Wondering if I am playing to cautious. Well, I don’t want to hurt anyone. So, its good. Another one came along first to interview me for her homework. She tried to know all about my RL. My story was simple, am a business man from London, living alone, unmarried, my parents and sister are my family and am looking for a soul mate. The interview turned its course when she started counselling me and that I should not be alone. She was sweet and caring. Just where almost all SL relationships start, i.e., being fake. Anyways, its the adventure we are looking for. This one was better. She accepted me as a friend, and a gentleman. Although it was almost a yes, she wanted it slow. Probably, I would have done the same. Its just that I got only few hours more to play the part. Continue reading

Kevin's Music Reviews

Kevin’s Music Reviews: Qypthone – Montuno No. 5

Qypthone has been on hiatus for quite a while now, but we’re getting to about that time of year where zesty, energetic summer jams are due for recognition.

Originally playing with groups like Pizzicato Five and Plus-Tech Squeeze Box, this little band enlists their bossanova-tinged take on the Japanese genre “shibuya-kei” to the scene, replete with all the vivaciousness and eccentricities that make such artists stand out. Their last full-length album, Montuno No. 5, will most likely be remembered as their most substantial work, even if it is a little on the short side.

Qyptphone - Montuno No 5 Album Continue reading

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Retro Monday: “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater”

Title: “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater

Developer: Neversoft

Publisher: Activision

Released: August 1999

 

Some of you may have read my thoughts on the new game “Goat Simulator”. In the write up I say how it harkens me back my younger years playing “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater”. Whether that is good for a brand new game to remind me of a game that came out 14 years ago is yet to be decided. Anyway, ‘Pro Skater’…

During the 90’s, getting a celebrity face on a game was the way to go. That is what happened with Tony Hawk. Being a champion, the first person to land a 900° spin and (as I found out looking up stuff for this) he has a 144 I.Q. Neversoft decided on Tony after his debut at X Games 1998.

The game sees you play as one of 10 skaters in nine different levels. For six of the levels there are five objectives called ‘tapes’, after ‘VCR tapes’. If you don’t know what a VCR is, you missed out. Ask your elders. The other three levels are competition levels where you play for a bronze, silver, or gold medal. Rather then having ‘tapes’ you have a timed high score run where you are judged by at random by a selection of AI judges. You basically just need to get as close to a pre-set high score as possible and bail (fall off the skateboard) as little as possible as bailing acts as a score deduction.

Some people may remember my retro review of “Thrasher: Skate & Destroy” a few weeks back. Both ‘Pro Skater’ and ‘Skate & Destroy’ was released at pretty much the same time (Fall 1999) so they where in direct competition. ‘Skate & Destroy’ was called the more sim-like experience and was the more technically competent of the two, while ‘Pro Skater’ was pinned as the graphically superior of the two and was easer to play due to more simple, pick-up-and-play controls.

Out of the two, I have always preferred ‘Pro Skater’ to ‘Skate & Destroy’. I liked it to such a point I own ‘Pro Skater’ 1 – 4, the “Tony Hawk’s Underground” 1 and 2 sequels, “Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland”, and “Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground”. Other people must think the same because the series still goes on today. Although it isn’t as popular as before due to the latest section of the series comprising of Wii peripherals and a HD re-release of ‘Pro Skater’ 1/2. Even I, a devout fan of the series, think that the latest entries are pretty crap. The peak of the series for me was ‘Underground 2’ but it wouldn’t be surprising if you thought ‘Proving Ground’ was the peak. Continue reading