Had a nice lunch today with a bunch of former VM Labs
hardware guys. As it turns out a few VMLers ended up at
Portal Player, which NVIDIA just bought. By my count
that puts roughly a dozen VM Labs employees now working at
NVIDIA. Quite a small valley huh?
Anyway, it's nice catching up with everyone especially
since they're all such a great bunch of people. We really
had a special group at VML. The topic at lunch turned to
looking back and laughing about what went wrong and what
the company the could/should have done to survive (with
20/20 hindsight of course).
I finally got up to date and added an Atom feed so
you can check for updates using Sage
or other feed aggregator. Feed location is
It will be interesting to see how this affects the
hit count as people will no longer need to visit the
main page any more. Eh, whatever. It's not like I'm
selling advertising or anything. It was just neat to
see the spikes happen right after releases.
The news and feed generation script was written from
scratch by me so I have no doubt bugs will arise. Please
let me know if anything breaks.
Lunch again with the VML hardware guys. This time
three more than before. Two were visiting from outside
and the third didn't join us on Tuesday.
Of the eight of us there, seven were in the hardware
team at VM Labs. Five worked on the original Aries 1
design. That's one person shy of the original full
team. I joined in the Aries 2 days. Between that time
and when VML went bankrupt, there were only a few more
engineers that had a hand in any of the designs. Pretty
My wife and I have figured that we can now afford to
splash out for a nifty new HDTV. The thing is that we
currently have no HD content that would benefit from
such a device. The closest we have is the Wii, but
that's only 480p.
In addition to the TV ($1000+) we would either need to
also purchase a HD disc player - either HD-DVD or
Blu-ray ($600) - and/or upgrade our cable service
and TiVo to HD ($800). Both are expensive
I know eventually we'll have an XBox 360 and PS3.
And eventually we'll take the plunge for HD cable.
It's just difficult to justify the purchase of the new TV
right now when it might end up making standard definition
feeds look worse.
Didn't take long for me to convince myself to buy the
new HDTV. Heh. I had been gravitating towards the
Westinghouse LVM-37W3 after reading about its successor on AnandTech.
The spot for our entertainment center that
houses the television is only large enough for a 37"
widescreen set. So I checked the Westinghouse site and
saw the LVM-37W3, their 37" 1080p model from last
I quickly checked the price on Amazon
and found it was a reasonable $1099 with free shipping
(it also comes up as $989 without free shipping depending
on which distributor they choose to show you - seems to be
random). The user reviews on the page were all mostly
The only thing that kept me from diving in immediatley
were the comments about how standard def content doesn't
look that great. Since we don't have a source for HD it
wouldn't make much sense to make our TV viewing worse.
Then I found the nice big thread on AVS Forum about the model. Almost everyone loves
it - quite rare to not have more vocal nay-sayers.
The comments there seemed to say that standard def content
looks okay. It's just that once you've watched HD you
don't want to go back. That's fine with me!
The next dilema was to buy online or try to find a
brick-and-mortar. We would have prefered the latter to
make an exchange/return easier, but no one seems to carry
it. Only Best Buy lists it on their
website. There are two negatives about Best Buy
(aside from how I avoid the big stores like the plague).
First, the price is about $450 more than Amazon once
factoring in sales tax. Second, they only sell it
online. They don't have any at their stores. This isn't
terrible since they'd still deliver it, and pick it up in
case of a problem. Another minor annoyance is that their
earliest delivery slot is three weeks away.
So I went with Amazon. Or rather I called the
distributor, J&R Music and Computer World, directly. I wanted to ask
about their return policy (you can only return it if
there is a problem - not if you just don't like it),
whether they were new or refurbished (they're new), and
if it had the latest firmware (it should). Order placed.
New TV will be here in 6-7 days.
I polished off Elite Beat Agents last night. This was on the Very Hard mode with the cheerleaders. Very fast, very unforgiving, but still loads of fun.
I must have played for a good 30-45 minutes on the final level alone. In fact I got fed up at one point and put in Ouendan (EBA's predecessor) just to play something different. I had gotten stuck on Ouendan some months ago and had abandonded it. I was on the final level on Hard mode - not even Very Hard. Well, after playing the chipmunk on caffeine that is EBA for so long, Ouendan seemed to go at a snail's pace and was pretty easy. It only took me three tries to finish it and unlock Very Hard mode.
So even though EBA is done I now have Ouendan to finally complete after all this time. I'm looking forward to it, though, because the music is so darn catchy. Gotta love that J-Pop. I'm even picking up CDs from a couple of the bands to see if I can expand my musical taste.
Stupid me. I bought a television without closed captioning. Since that's an essential feature for us (one I stupidly assumed all sets came with) the LVM-37W3 is now going to find a new owner. *sigh* Ah well. I've satisfied my HD itch for a while. Although the Wii looked nice, as did Guitar Hero 2, not much else looked better than our old tube-based television. Standard def definitely took a hit, but I was prepared to live with that.
Now that I've tried HD I'm prepared to wait until we dive in again. It just doesn't make sense until we have a source of HD content, be it a game system or HD TiVo. Hopefully by that time new televisions will be out with more features and at lower prices.
Side note. While American televisions are required to support closed captioning, the LVM-37W3 was sold as a monitor, not a television. That means it has no internal cable tuner. That didn't bother me since we have the TiVo as a video source, but it also means that you are required to use an external source for closed captioning, which TiVo does not support.
That didn't take long. A couple songs stumbled me for
a day or two, but I eventually made it to the last level.
Fully expecting to never complete it I kept playing just
for the fun of it. Much to my suprise I saw steady
improvement until one time I made it all the way to the
third act. Inspired, I set up my camera to record
Then three or four tries later it happened. I finished
it. Here for your viewing pleasure is the moment captured
on video. It has thrills and chills galore. I nearly
die at the middle of the second section, but manage to
fight back and even get a passing rating for every part.
You can hear my manly grunts at the end when I finally
beat it :)
Spoilers beware of course. This gives away the final
YouTube link here. Since I can't figure out how to embed them in my atom feed yet.
No, I'm not going to go back and try to get an S rating. Surprisingly I was on track to do just that - in the first section of the song I only miss a 300 on one note. Of course it all fell apart in the second section. I don't have the patience to keep trying. Time to move on.
I was playing around with Play-Doh with my son and ended up making this little guy that I thought came out quite well. It would be fun to make a game using this stuff, kind of like Cletus Clay. Maybe I'll use it instead of hand drawing sprites whenever I get around to making my next game.
Speaking of which, stay tuned for something coming out of these pages in the near future. It's not game or even software/hardware related, but it is NUON related.
Eventually they will be collected
here once I get around to creating the page. For now this post will have to suffice.
I had an idea December last year to really kick start things on this site in 2007. I was going to do "A Year of NUON" with new original content released every week throughout the year. It wouldn't have been all video entries. Some might have been audio, or game demos, or other misc stuff.
I think I knew pretty quickly that it was too ambitious to commit to something new every week. Plus it would have me constantly worrying about making the next entry rather than leaving time for stuff like, oh, programming. Rather than abandon the idea I condensed it into this monthly video blog post.
I have ideas for like 6-10 entries so I'll won't run out of material any time soon. Each entry will contain a preview for the next one, which forces me to stay ahead of the game with regards to filming. Making them is a lot of fun and I've learned a ton just making the first one. Some lessons I took away while recording/editing this:
Don't mumble (which I tend to do)
Sit up straight
Smile, even if it's forced (and believe me after a dozen takes saying the same thing it's mostly forced)
Chest hair == too sexy for a NUON video blog
You know those clap boards you see on movie sets? I can finally understand their value. Not only do they let you piece together separate video and audio streams from the same take, they also let you synchronize the video with the audio. I learned that my digital camera records movies with the audio about a fifth of a second out of sync.
We attended the Video Games Live concert at the end of GDC. I thought it was quite enjoyable, although the venue could have been better. When I go to a concert I expect the music to fill the room such that I can't tell where it's coming from. I want to be immersed in the music. Unfortunately the acoustics in the Nob Hill Masonic left something to be desired. Don't get me wrong - I still enjoyed the music and even eventually forgot that I could tell the music was being played directly at me from the stage in front.
I was hoping it would be a concert that anyone could attend and enjoy - even non-gamers. While that might be true for a few of the pieces, by and large you'll be lost if you haven't at least heard of the games. I will say that I still enjoyed the music for a few games that I have not played - Civilization 4, World of Warcraft, Myst, and the Video Game Pianist's Final Fantasy medley were outstanding. In fact I'm listening to the Advent Rising tunes now having liked them so much. I'll have to track down a legal copy.
The highlights were definitely the star performers - Koji Kondo, Video Game Pianist, Vertexguy, the Lucasarts band, etc. The Halo set was nice, but I would have prefered that they get the team that did that YouTube video with the awesome violinist. See below and linked here for feed watchers.
Of course it didn't help the evening when we tried to walk to our hotel afterwards and got lost. Walking around San Francisco at midnight going up and down those damn hills takes quite a toll on you.
As for the next video blog, the footage I shot last week didn't work out as planned. I'll explain more after I've had a chance to work through the problems, but it looks like I'll be changing the topic for post #3 and need to record new footage this week. No worries, I'm still on track to have it done by April.