Kodak V610 digital camera

Kodak has gone from being a brand I wouldn’t even consider when buying a digital camera to one that’s now on the top of my list. Well done! I remember doing some basic market research on their position in the Asia-Pacific region while at my last job, and they looked in serious danger. Further proof that money spent on R&D and design will pay for itself many times over.

Back to this camera. Jesus. If they actually deliver on this come May 8th, and the picture quality is any good, I don’t think Sony or Canon has anything in their lineup this year to beat it.

  • 10x optical zoom. Where the first dual-lens V570 camera went from wide-angle to normal/3x zoom, this new one goes from a normal 38mm lens to a 10x telephoto one.
  • Bluetooth.
  • Video recording at 640×480@30fps, directly into MPEG-4 in a Quicktime container! Up to 80mins continuous limited by your memory card, and you CAN ZOOM while recording.
  • In-camera editing tools including cropping, correction (I assume auto level adjustments and exposure compensation), red-eye removal, and a blurry photo alert icon.
  • 2.3cm thick, 11cm by 5.5cm body.
  • A hell of a beautifully-designed box.
  • Only USD$450 RRP, comparable to Sony’s T9 which is looking a little old now.

It also features one of the tastiest, geekiest taglines I’ve seen on a consumer electronics product:
A dynamic intersection of performance and sophistication.

Interactive Fiction, Photopia, Adam Cadre

Thinking about interactive fiction again led me to remember a game I played about 8 years ago, that left a lasting impression on me in a way that games rarely do. In the last 5 minutes, I tried hard to remember what it was called, and eventually found it mentioned on the Wikipedia entry on Interactive Fiction.

Photopia. It’s really, really good. If you still have a DOS-capable system, you owe it to yourself to run through it once. It’s more like a linear story that you read, but you need to enter some commands along the way to advance the story. In my memory, it was a fantastic circular narrative story that had some really clever moments. The bit where you wander about in a canyon comes to mind. It feels like a Zork maze and you wander about for a bit. I won’t spoil it for you, but don’t give up. You’ll find a way, and I think I will remember the moment that I did until my dying day. It worked in a way that simply isn’t possible in the literal, visual, games of today. Imagination went hand in hand with narrative and interactivity, and it’s a shame that’s mostly lost now.

You can download Photopia and other IF games free from Adam Cadre’s site here.

Praise for Photopia:

  • “Photopia is an amazing piece of work.” —Paul O’Brian
  • “It is a beautiful piece of work, haunting, evocative.” —Lelah Conrad
  • “It’s the greatest game I have ever played.” —Aris Katsaris
  • “Photopia is quite possibly the most skillful, creative, and affecting piece of short fiction I have ever experienced.” —Suzanne Skinner

Lone Wolf adventure books – Free!

The old Lone Wolf adventure books are available for free download online! At least, the ones written by Joe Dever are, donated to Project Aon. To those who don’t remember, these were like the Choose Your Own Adventure books aimed mostly at younger kids, but with kickass ninja action and violence that required you to roll dice in combat. At least, that’s how I remember it. They would come with 2 crazy illustrated pages of the different ninja moves you could do, with names like Teeth of the Tiger Throw (fucking loved this one), and the unstoppable Kwon’s Flail kick. I must have read them over 15 years ago and can still remember the feeling of being in some of the book’s trickier situations. They were by and large the closest thing us old people had to videogames when those were still too expensive.

Slashdot thread on Interactive Fiction

Tackling giant problems in postal service

After allowing Olympic figure-skater Miki Ando to be Police Chief for a day, those wacky Japanese have decided to award more crucial, foundation-of-commerce-and-government jobs to be held by people completely and utterly unqualified to do so. In today’s case, not because he’s not good enough, but because he doesn’t exist.

No, I don’t mean Jesus, but Ultraman.

Ultraman Mebius, seen here wielding the most powerful weapon in human history,
acted as Postmaster at the Nagoya Naka post-office on Thursday. He apparently managed to carry out an entire day’s worth of Postmasterly work without uttering a single affirmation, command, or thank you. He warned underperforming employees to improve (ganbatte!) by flashing his eyes a bright shade of yellow and crossing his arms across his chest in an “X” formation. The visiting hero also took care of lunch for the day, providing workers with nutritious meals of barbecued Mothra meat.

“We’re trying our best as we head toward privatization. Mebius has given us energy,” said 58-year-old postmaster Yoshinori Suganuma after Ultraman’s arrival.

Too bad the energy doesn’t last more than 3 minutes!

THX Complaint form

Complain about the quality of your local THX-certified cinema here! Lucasfilm will give them a nasty call and send someone over to straighten shit out.

I know Singapore’s Cathay Orchard Cineleisure multiplex is on my shitlist. Movies there are often played way too loud (and it starts from the commercials, so you know it’s going to be one of those days. Technically, this gives me ample warning to go outside and complain, but I’ve done enough of that and I’m sick of it. Now I can go straight to the cops.)

Prince on SNL (Fury + Beautiful, Loved, and Blessed)

Make time today for this 9 minute video of Prince performing on a recent Saturday Night Live. I don’t care if you’re not a Prince fan. I don’t care if you’re on dial-up. It is truly, truly important because it signifies a milestone in the history of our pop music. The performance is great, yes, but I don’t mean that it’s the greatest ever. In fact it’s probably just a regular performance for the guy. What’s happening here is one of the greatest artists ever to be mentally-shelved by many as irrelevant is making a mainstream comeback nobody expected.

These are sad times for pop music; I won’t go into the reasons why. People not raised on it are wishing for, and valuing, musicianship more than ever. People want musicians who can really play guitar, goddamnit. The new album he promotes here debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts. If he keeps this level of visibility and promotion up, we could be in for a sea change in the industry as the public realizes that nothing than the best should do.

MacZOT: EarthDesk

Today’s MacZOT is the absolutely beautiful world-as-wallpaper app, EarthDesk. Also available for Windows, but you won’t get the special price of $12.95 (UP $19.95). It updates itself online and renders moonlight and daylight taking into account reflectivity and live cloud cover information. I believe that means what you see is pretty much what you might get from space. If there are any tornados going on at the time, you’ll see them too.

I’m thinking about it… but I might wait till I get my 20″ iMac. It’s probably not the same on a 1024×768 laptop screen.

Machiavellianism test

Take Salon.com’s Machiavelli personality test! It’s about 7 years old, but has only now surfaced on digg.com for some reason.

I was just talking to somebody last night about the unsurprising and commonsensical nature of Machiavellian thought. So my results weren’t unexpected, but they could have been higher.

The Machiavelli personality test has a range of 0-100
Your Machiavelli score is: 79
You are a high Mach, you endorse Machiavelli’s opinions.

Most people fall somewhere in the middle, but there’s a significant minority at either extreme.

Did you know…?

Apple made about USD$410m in profit last quarter, and nearly $1bn in the last two. iPod sales are up 61% from last year’s equivalent quarter, with 8.5 million sold. Mac growth is slower at 4%, but this is still a lot more money than most people, myself included, would have given them credit for.