My new kuda kerja (that's work horse to BM illiterate)!!

Been 2 weeks since my last post and it has been busy every weekend. My cousin and aunt from down under is back in KL for a month and staying at the Mandarin Oriental KLCC so weekends have been spent over there. Its good to take advantage of free hotel parking to go shopping and sightseeing in KLCC area although it is packed with tourists. I've been there so often now, I can probably drive there and back blindfolded through all the back roads and guest entrances ... hee hee. I still prefer shopping in 1U and Sunway in comparison though.

This pic was taken - believe it or not - whilst I was in the car (not driving ler ... waiting for the traffic lights). Its a nice shot considering the fact that it was taken using a compact digicam sans pro settings. Note to those interested : best place to take the profile of the Petronas Twin Towers is across the road at the British Council building. Anywhere else and you'd get a lot of obstructions in your pic or the incomplete building. Too bad it was a cloudy day though ... I have other pics at different angles but I kinda liked this one with the tree in the pic.

Petronas Twin Towers on a cloudy day
This is my cousin Chloe. She's three years old, full of energy and also nonsense. Her likes are Disney channel, Pocoyo, Angelina Ballerina, chocolate ice cream and balloons for now.

Chloe at the Mandarin Business Centre
She made a friend at the KLCC fountains
Last week was spent at the PC Fair 2008. I finally gave in an bought a new Acer Aspire desktop computer to replace my old faithful (which I've been using for the past 10 years). The offer was too good to resist as it had everything I wanted/needed for a price that was bearable. Throw in freebies and I was sold with total wallet damages for CPU and monitor at RM3697.

Meet my new "Alan Wake"-ready baby ...

My new baby
My new workstation specs:
  • Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.40GHz CPU (four cores!!)
  • 2GB DDR2 800MHz memory (satisfies Vista happily)
  • 500GB SATA NCQ harddrive (roomy yet silent ... thankfully)
  • nVidia GeForce 8600GS graphics with 512MB dedicated memory (hmm ... thats the same amount of OS memory in my old PC)
  • 20× DVD writer (so tempted to get a bluray drive but a RM1900 price tag is really prohibitive)
  • 7.1 HD Audio
  • Hauppauge HVR1200 hybrid analogue/digital TV/radio tuner with hardware MPEG1/2 capture (I loved their PVR-350 series but this is even better!!)
  • Wireless RF keyboard/mouse and MCE remote control
  • 9 USB ports and 2 IEEE1394/firewire ports
  • 10/100/1000Mb Ethernet
  • 5 monitor/TV outputs (yeah ... overkill I know)
  • Built-in 15-in-one card reader
  • Dell 19" wide flat panel LCD monitor with independent switchable analog/DVI inputs (and extended 5 years 1-to-1 warranty)
  • Edifier 2.1 speakers (to be replaced with a 6.1 set coming soon!)
  • Microsoft Vista premium (also have my own valid license for Vista Business!!)
  • Dlink 802.11N wireless router + 802.11N USB adapter (freebies worth RM500++!!)

Look ma ... no wires! And its Aero capable too!
What I like about this workstation is the inclusion of a hardware based capture card cum TV tuner. It is also digital TV ready so its relatively future proof in terms of TV reception. Additionally it also has a card reader for camera transfers. Bad points : wireless mice and keyboards. Although handy and reduces cable mess, it requires batteries to run and there's a small lag between action and response. I also have to get to grips with the changes in Vista.

The old PC is now delegated to the living room as a secondary PC and connects to the Internet wirelessly (the free bundled 802.11N hardware really came in handy here ... lucky huh?!). It still has plenty of kick and I did nearly all of my media work on it - every single Feseni video disc to date was authored/burned using that PC. All past UMSO/choir scores were also arranged/transcribed using that PC. My old PC specs for comparison:
  • Intel PIII 600E CPU overclocked to 720MHz (ahh ... the good old megahertz days)
  • 512MB PC100/133 SDRAM (mostly taken from older thrown away PCs ... I still have 5 sticks to spare)
  • Asus nVidia TNT2 graphics with 32MB SGRAM (no one uses SGRAM anymore do they?)
  • Dual Soundblaster Live! value soundcards (first and second generation ... also have another as spare from a discarded spoilt Dell PC)
  • 120GB ATA harddisk
  • 17" CRT monitor
  • 18× DVD writer and 16×DVD-ROM (both region free!!)
  • Internal hardware modem (extremely rare version)
  • Cambridge Soundworks 2.1 speakers (these are amazing and sound much better than any Altec Lansing set I've heard before)
  • Dlink 10/100Mb Ethernet

It still holds up pretty well and runs comfortably with XP SP3 and will even manage Max Payne at 1024×768 resolution (which reminds me I still have to finish that game)

What remains now is to manage the cable hell on two PCs and also the transfer to 100GBs of data from one PC to the other ... that's another 2 weeks of work *sheesh*. For now its back to another session with Grim Fandango Year 2!!

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Retro gaming at its best!!

I've been feeling all nostalgic ever since I got my new copies of two classic Lucasarts games - Sam & Max Hit the Road and Grim Fandango. Both are from a dying genre known as adventure gaming which unfortunately has since lost its charm to 3-D shooters and MMORPG. Don't get me wrong, I love a good 3D shooter but have a soft spot for adventure games that need more thinking and less trigger happy mouse action.

Retro gaming goodness
I remember playing S&M back when I was in Form 2 or 3 when it came on 7 floppy disks and ran in DOS (ahhh ... configuring EMM and XMM memory just to start programs). It was one of the larger games to be released because of its increased resolution and full colour graphics which was unheard of way back then. Heck! Windows only came on 6 diskettes so you can see what a big deal it was.

I saw this exact game in a Times warehouse sale last year and it was actually the original box set release. It was complete (with manuals and quickcard), pretty battered and not torn but it was only the diskette version. I was soooooo tempted since it was only RM5, but in the end I didn't get it 'cos of the risk of faulty diskettes (and also the fact that I don't have a working floppy drive -hee hee)

The version I now have is a 2007 re-release of the game for modern platforms and even runs in Vista and XP. Even better is that it is the enhanced CD talkie version in which all characters now have spoken dialog AND comes with the soundtrack to the game (woo hoo!!).

Use kitty with Max ...
I've never played Grim Fandango before but I've heard various comments about the game. It was probably one of the two games that Lucasarts released in the adventure game genre in 3D. The entire game is played with either the keyboard or a joypad in comparison with S&M which is played with the mouse. It still has a pretty big fan base and just had a write-up as recently as 3 days ago in The Escapist!! (view article here) So it seems that a lot of my time is now going to be devoted to retro gaming and reminiscing of DOS days.

Final damages from 2 games purchases = RM70 inclusive shipping.

Oh well, they add to my collection anyways. I'm only looking for 3 more
  • Indiana Jones & the Fate of Atlantis
  • Day of the Tentacle
  • Monkey Island 4 : Escape from Monkey Island.

Other Lucasarts games I currently possess

  • Monkey Island 1 : Secret of Monkey Island
  • Monkey Island 2 : Le Chuck's Revenge
  • Monkey Island 3 : The Curse of Monkey Island
  • The Dig
  • Full Throttle
My Lucasarts collectionAs Max so eloquently puts it "I may weep openly"
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清明节 - All souls day prayers

Its been roughly 2 weeks since my last post but not much to update on anyways. Today took a drive back to my dad's hometown in Sungkai, Perak for the Qīngmíng festival. Starting the journey at 11.54am, we managed to reach at 1pm and being the first ones there (again) we had to wait for the other relatives before proceeding to the cemetary for prayers.

We decided to take a walk around the town to pass the time. Mum bought an cast iron griddle- the ones used to make Indian tosai and chapatis - to replace the one she gave away to a friend. According to that friend, the ones she bought were very good in quality. It was smooth, polished with an almost non-stick like quality ... in comparison, hers (bought in KL) was rough and really heavy even after 2 years of constant use and polishing. A bargain really 'cos it costs less than RM20. Anyways, it was interesting to see those quaint shophouses and whatever they sold - the Dishy Mickey Mouse dolls and Queksilver bags were an interesting find.

We only made it to the cemetary for prayers at 3pm once everyone had arrived but then the rain began to pour heavily. Luckily for us it only lasted 15 mins and cleared enough for us to finish the prayers. No pics of the day though, 'cos I didn't bring a camera plus I didn't want to offend anyone who might have been pantang about capturing images in a cemetary ... who knows, might have photographed a spirit :)

After that, it was a quick (late) lunch before making our way back home in the heavy rain, reaching KL only at 7pm. I'm now tired and worn out with neckache ... need sleep ... will post more soon ... zzzzzz