Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Highlights From The Cape Town PlayStation 3 Launch Event

On Thursday night PlayStation SA/Ster-Kinekor Games hosted a launch event in Cape Town for the PlayStation 3, which was officially released in South Africa, Europe, and a few other PAL territories on Friday.

The event showcased various capabilities of the PlayStation 3 as well as three of the five games that Ster-Kinekor Games is responsible for releasing at the launch: Resistance: Fall of Man, MotorStorm, and Genji: Days Of The Blade (although for some reason it was running in French: fascinating, but not particularly helpful). All of the consoles were connected to Sony BRAVIA flat-panel LCD TVs to demonstrate the HDTV capabilities of primarily - the consoles - but also the games and the TVs.

Genji: Days of the Blade

Above: Genji: Days Of The Blade.

One of the consoles was hooked up to the Internet, so you could browse online, but you had to do so with a PlayStation 3 controller rather than via a Bluetooth keyboard, and the process is rather tedious. To type in addresses you get an onscreen keypad that's similar to a cellular phone keypad, and pretty frustrating to use, and to move around on a page and access links you have to do the controller equivalent of tabbed browsing.

Throughout the evening a photographer took photos and then occasionally uploaded them to two of the consoles so that you could see the system software's photo-viewing feature in action - it does a kind of scrolling photo diary flyby showcase with the photo time on the screen in such a way that it looks like a handwritten annotation.

Resistance: Fall of Man

Above: Resistance: Fall of Man, in two-player mode.

Speaking of which, the system software is a more feature-rich version of what debuted with the PlayStation Portable. The intention is for the console to form part of your high-end home-entertainment system, but with the same interface. It supports music (MP3, CD, and a few other formats) playback, playback of various video formats, and DVDs (including Blu-ray discs). The console, itself, also has a built-in card reader, which supports the most popular formats such as CompactFlash, Memory Stick, and SD card, as well as USB ports so that you can plug in any USB device or USB flash drive and transfer files.

One of the BRAVIA TVs was hooked up to a console that was being used as a DVD player, and the Blu-Ray high-definition showreel ran, some of which I have seen before, and then later the Blu-Ray Casino Royale disc was showcased.

Blu-ray showcase

Above: Blu-ray showcase.

Visually the best part of the showcase was watching the guests playing MotorStorm on what may have been the biggest flatscreen TV I have ever seen. It was absolutely mesmerising and I would hate to know how much it costs. While watching the gameplay I was expecting to see some artifacts or problematic graphics rendering and didn't. In fact, although the game has a slight arcade feel to it, the mud-track effects, especially close up, were spectacular and very realistic.


Above: MotorStorm.

The question everyone wants answered, of course, is how much. The launch price is R6 299, which, for now, puts the device out of reach of most consumers, but if you already have the kind of home-entertainment setup for which this console is aimed you're probably not going to be phased by the hefty price tag. On the plus side, if you've been looking for a Blu-ray player the console is apparently a lot cheaper than most that are currently on the market, and comes with many more features.

I attended the PlayStation 3 press preview event a few weeks ago, which gave me one-on-one time with a Sony representative and a PlayStation 3 console. If you're interested in reading more about my perceptions of it we should have a Sony Expo 2006/PlayStation 3 two-part article posted on soon.

Celebrity Showcase, For Those Interested
Jeannie D, who hosted the event

Above: Jeannie D, who hosted the event.

Quentin Chong

Above: Quentin Chong, who can usually be found where ever there are Top Billing people....


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Video: MTN Hip-Hop Summer Xplosion 2006

Video: MTN Hip-Hop Summer Xplosion 2006

In December MTN held a hip-hop showcase and competition outside Artscape in Cape Town. I took a large number of photos of the graffiti contest, which ran over about three days, but I haven't uploaded them anywhere yet. I also filmed some clips of the artists at work on 14 December and have uploaded one to YouTube, partly as an experiment.

The clip is seven minutes long and a 16.6 MB flv file. I have no video editing software at the moment otherwise I would have speeded up the action and removed the soundtrack to make the file smaller and the video a little less painful to watch.

You can read a little bit about the event here.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

8 Random Things...

8 Random Things To Say To My 10 Dinner Companions As I Avoid Saying 5 Things You (And They) Didn't Know About Me, Which I Must Somehow Differentiate From The 8 Other Random Things
(or: How To Combine All The Tagging Madness In To 1 Easy Post)

At some point way back in the mists of time Katt tagged me to post 8 Random Things (presumably about myself), so I cursed her loudly and then set about taking about 20 weeks to write the post (and no, this little factoid is not one of the 8 Random Things, although it should be).

Then, soon after, Kyknoord tagged me to write about all sorts of things I don't really want to write about, but I can't say no*, so here's all that crap in one post so I can be over and done with it.

8 Random Things
(The section in which I say eight random things about myself and you use that information to stalk me.)

• The first time I flew on a plane I was 23. I got to experience business class from Cape Town To Johannesburg to Paris. It's not as exciting as you might think (especially on SAA).

• My favourite cool drink is Lemon Twist [pic]. I also like Vanilla Coke, which you can't get anymore, and when I was a kid I liked Fanta Tropical Punch, which you also can't get anymore. It was swamp green in colour, which was a bonus.

• I was originally going to say that I've never seen Forrest Gump, but it was on M-Net a few weeks ago and I finally did watch it. However, I fell asleep during the Gary Sinise/war/legs blown off bit, so there's still a section of Forrest Gump I've never seen.

• I use mainly the Opera browser. I only switch to something else if I'm on a web site that struggles with Opera (there are still some that are *that* badly coded). Opera has the best cookie handling ability of any browser that I've ever seen, and I use that functionality extensively.

• I like chocolate but I rarely eat it, partly because it sometimes makes my skin break out. A few years ago at Easter I couldn't face getting another stash of eggs and chocolate from my parents so I asked them to buy me a LEGO Bionicle character instead. I got this one (Toa Metru Nuju). I still have it. He guards my TV.

• I drink tea constantly and coffee rarely, bar the odd cappuccino, which I have recently turned into a hobby. I like my tea dark, and generally lukewarm, which eventually becomes cold, at which point I still continue to drink it. The cold thing, although gross to most people, is some sort of genetic inherited trait because my sister and father are the same (although they generally prefer coffee).

• I am far more observant than people realise, which I have learnt to use to my advantage. However, I never notice what people think I notice, or that which is likely to catch the attention of most people, which I have learnt to work around. If we've ever met, there's probably a 99% chance that I have no idea what your eye colour is. At best, I can take an educated guess. I also don't know what kind of shoes you're wearing.

• For my first three years of high school I had to cycle to school every day, which contributed to my left knee being stuffed up (that's another story, and no, it's not bionic. Yet). I was the only person in the school of over 600 pupils who had a bright-yellow cycling helmet (all the better to see me from space, I'm sure). It was rather embarrassing. I took slight comfort in the fact that my sister was the only person in the school who had a bright-orange helmet. (Addendum: I have since been informed that it is actually pink. I have a general aversion to pink, which is probably why I remember it being orange.)

The Dinner Party (From Hell)
(The section in which I invite 10 people to dinner, for some reason that completely escapes me because I doubt that I ever would, and you use that information to glean facts about my underlying psychology, in order to stalk me even more successfully.)

I'm not going to explain my choices except to say that most of them have not been chosen for the reasons that one would necessarily presume. I also don't know if this is my ideal selection, as I'm not really a large ("large" being more than about four people) gathering kind of person.

• Jase Luttrell - we've been friends across the globe for about nine years but we've yet to meet. It's become a running joke.
• Kyknoord - because he got me into this mess.
• The Dalai Lama (without the Richard Gere attachment)
• Sophie B. Hawkins
• Madeline Kahn - who, technically, is dead, but I think I want her at this dinner more than anyone else, so she'll have to make a plan.
• Emma Thompson
• Alan Rickman - but I insist that he spends at least half the dinner in character as Professor Snape. Because.
• Marianne Williamson
• Lorelai Gilmore - admittedly, not so much a person as a fictional character but no one provided me with rules so I have made up my own.

Ok, seriously, I'm not inviting a 10th person, because that makes 11 at the table (assuming I might like to be there), and that's about as awkward a number as one can have.

As for where we're having it, I have no idea, but I keep envisioning one of those great modern-architecture open-plan expensive Cape Town mansions that either looks out onto the Atlantic or the City Bowl, so if you happen to have one, may I please borrow it one evening in the Alternate Future? Thanks.

5 Things You Probably Don't Know About Me
(The section in which I tell you five things you probably don't know about me so that, should you really, really be a crap stalker, you can be a slightly less crap stalker.)

• I've never flown in a helicopter.

• The only apples I like are Granny Smith apples.

• I rarely have nightmares (rarely being a couple a decade).

• My favourite ice-cream is mint choc chip, although I haven't had it in about 10 years.

• I have bad luck with fax machines. It's the only technology I appear to be incapable of mastering.

At this point I presume I'm supposed to tag someone else, but I wouldn't want to wish that nightmare on anyone, so should you wish to answer all of this, feel free, otherwise, consider yourself exempt from punishment.

*He's persuasive



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