Sunday 29 June 2008

PS3 not working - so called 'red light of death'

Yesterday we had some friends round for a reunion, people that Ale knew from a year long course she had taken with them. The scene was set since I had blown them out previously as I was cheering on Arsenal in the Champions League.

About half an hour before they turned up, my beloved PS3 bit the dust. Not as dead as the proverbial dodo, but still pretty terminal. It just switched off with 4 beeps and a flashing red light. After Googling some forum posts, it suggested it may have been heat-related but delving deeper, it quickly became apparent that it was some sort of hardware failure. Switch it on, and it starts up the fans - then a green light for a second or so, and then rather quickly followed by an amber light, then red with 4 short beeps.

Looks like I'll have to eat my words of criticism at the bearded geek in the local computer games shop and see what he can do. Some of the people last night were, shall we say 'disappointed', but one of them knows about a Sony repair centre somewhere near Boulevard Artigas so I guess we can also try that option tomorrow.

Gutted - that's all I can say. I'm sure it's completely coincidental and nothing to do with the numerous power cuts we have here in Montevideo - and the subsequent surge/spike when it comes back on. I think I'll be buying a surge protector 4 gang socket as a priority ;-)

Sad Johnnyboy.

Friday 27 June 2008

GTA 4 - the wait is finally over (for me!)

Grand Theft Auto 4 or GTA as it's more commonly known was released well over a month ago in Europe but it has taken me nearly 6 weeks to receive my copy, all thanks to Dave and Maggie. I've known them both for nearly 20 years and I play online with Dave on Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

I did make tentative enquiries at the local computer game shop, only to be told it would take 2 weeks to procure, and it would also cost $180. Blatant greed and profiteering from the bearded geek so I said no thanks. How a game can cost double is beyond me.

Well - on to the game, and it has surpassed all my expectations. Great graphics, and superb gameplay. I now have 5 badboy motors stacked outside my gaff and have completed many missions, although it tells me that I've only completed around 8% of the game so far.

The music on the game is just so good. Most of the radio stations that you can listen to in the car whilst driving around have many of the good old-skool tunes, ones that spawned some of the popular ones that other people may have heard. '2 People - Jean Jacques Smoothie' is one in particular. It features a vocal sample from the Minnie Ripperton song "Inside My Love". There's another tune that is the basis for Ice Cube's Ring Ding Dong but I need to find out who made the original.

No problem - you simply call a number on your cell phone within the game whilst the tune is playing. You will then receive a text back in return, giving you the details of the artist. It's similar to the technology being used nowadays by mobile firms in the UK who offer to identify a certain piece of music.

I've used the same cell phone to cheat on 2 things so far.

OK OK, its the lazy option but guns are hard to come by! I've used the cheat to get full ammo so that I can swagger around with all (tier 1) weapons at my disposal. I've also used the Annihilator cheat (it's the name of a helicopter) and this is incredible fun. I've landed on the top of some of the best buildings in the game, or just simply attempted death leaps out of the helicopter whilst flying along. It tends to make the landing just that bit softer and less terminal if it's over water, of course ;-)

The good thing about using the helicopter cheat is that your wanted level rockets up to 6 stars if you simply go nosing about on the other islands. I can only see 2 of the many islands so far because of the 8% missions complete status. If I could simply land on one of the other islands and get away with it, then it would make the game far too easy.

Some games are all about completing certain tasks, or doing things to make something else happen. Whilst this is also true about GTA 4, there's nothing better than just cruising around, listening to some good music and watching life go by. That is, just so long as you don't forget about driving - like I did, when I rear-ended a police car. All good fun. You can just sit there, spinning the back wheels but eventually they will pop. Similarly, drive through a fire and your car tyres will catch alight and go bang after a short time.

Call of Duty has taken a bit of a back seat at the moment, but I am sure it will spring back soon. I'll probably lose interest in GTA sooner than CoD to be honest, but time will tell.

Nice one Rockstar - a fantastic game!!

Thursday 26 June 2008

Mark's anniversary - 25th June

It was the anniversary of my brother Mark yesterday, so I spent a quiet moment (or several, in fact) thinking of both him, and my dear Nan and Granddad. He died on the exact same day as my Granddad which was the 25th of June, and my Nan on the 26th (today) so they were all in my thoughts. It was the first time that I hadn't been in the UK so it all felt quite distant - but in a way not so distant, since Mark had always been travelling to far-flung parts of the world ;-)

On a tecky note, I received our big screen TV back yesterday from the 'menders' and I was able to do video chat on the PS3 with my goddaughter, Hannah, along with Sue Currrrtis and good old Fuzzy/Beanie aka Ian. It was great to seem them all. The connections dropped a good few times but hey, I'm 6,000 miles way and I'm grateful for small mercies. It makes the world seem a smaller place.

Ale met up with some old acquaintances from the Richard Anderson school last night for a reunion, and she seemed to enjoy it. A bit of a late one for her as she arrived back home just before 2am. You can only imagine how difficult it was for her to wake-up this morning!

And last but not least, I actually remembered it was Neil's birthday yesterday for the first time in ages. Neil has been a mate of mine for almost 20 years, and his birthday is inextricably linked with my brother for obvious reasons. So I made the call yesterday and he seemed genuinely pleased (and surprised). I took the opportunity of winding him up about his age, but the usual retort came back that no-one is as old as me. I'll just have to shrug my shoulders and admit defeat on that one, Fleecy!

Tonight - legendary house DJ Seb Fontaine is playing at a club called Lotus here in a rather foggy and cold Montevideo. Not sure if we're going yet, but it would be a great chance to see one of the pioneers in action from the UK. The DJ played in Chile yesterday, MVD tonight and I believe he's off to Pacha in Buenos Aires tomorrow. Rather amazingly, I looked at his Myspace page and listed under his interests was the game 'Call of Duty'. What a good man!

That's all for now.


Wednesday 18 June 2008

Firefox 3 downloads past 8m mark

Judging from their website, it looks like the Firefox 3 download day went very well. Downloads comfortably surpassed 8 million but the exact figure will be confirmed by Guinness World Records over the next few days.

Initially I like the upgraded Firefox 3, especially the history function when typing in a new address in the address bar, very useful! It looks cleaner and appears to be faster too. Let's see if FF3 handles memory leakage better as FF2 wasn't the best in that regard.

FF2 on Ubuntu Linux fails to pick up any updates so I'm still running FF2 on Linux but FF3 on Windows. Not an ideal situation by any means, but I will look to upgrade over the coming week.



Tuesday 17 June 2008

Firefox 3 released today at 18:00 BST

I'm participating in the Guinness World Record attempt today by downloading the latest Firefox 3 web browser.

See link below for details:

The downloads start at 18:00 BST British Summer Time so that makes it 14:00 UYT for me here in a rather sunny Montevideo in Uruguay.


Friday 6 June 2008

Montevideo Players

Apologies for the late blog, but I've only just got around to writing about where we went a couple of weeks ago. A friend of Ale's at work arranged for some tickets for a play, which was being put on by the oldest English drama society in Latin America. They are called the Montevideo Players, and this production was an affectionate look at 'Allo 'Allo which was a TV series from the 80's in the UK.

It was a good evening, and the cast performed well. Of course, I wasn't upset when two of the parts required short skirts, namely Yvette and Maria ;-) Rounded off the evening by having a pint or two in the bar. Although I found it unlikely that they would have Speckled Hen on tap, I was a bit disappointed they only had the local brew Pilsen - and in bottles. Par for the course ....

Still, met up with a friendly Scot and his girlfriend. Nice chap John, good choice of name. Also met with a few of the cast, and quite by chance - one of them was the VP of Winterbotham here in Uruguay. They also have an office in the Bahamas, so if anything work-wise pops up, it could be very good for Johnnyboy.

There is a chance there will be a curry night soon so we've already put our name down. None of this 'curry' nonsense that Montevideans think is curry, hopefully it will be the real Indian that I've craved since moving to Montevideo 3 months ago. Nothing like the taste of Makhani or Rogan Josh - that's what I say!



PayPal clowns

If you've ever had to deal with the luddites at PayPal, then you'll probably know exactly what I mean.

Ever since arriving in Uruguay over 3 months ago, I seem to have encountered problems with PayPal. My account with PayPal in the UK worked flawlessly up until this point but as soon as I bought some memory from a bloke in Hong Kong - it all went pear-shaped. Their anti-fraud system on autopilot kicked in and limited access to my account, more than likely based on figuring out that I was making payments from a Uruguayan IP rather than a UK one. Ooooh - how dangerous that was of me! Logging in to both my Ebay account and PayPal account and buying some stuff. Inane logic as operated by PayPal.

After about 2 weeks of no memory, I then discovered when I logged into my PayPal account that access was 'limited'. Their decision - not mine, and one obviously based on flawed logic. They deemed it a requirement that I answer 3 questions successfully, one of which was a phone call to my home address asking for the code displayed on my web browser. Despite frantic efforts on my part to get the person living at my address in the UK to answer the phone and quote the code, it was impossible to do. They now want a utility bill sent to them to prove I live there. Good idea in practice, but here is where their logic goes a bit mental.

They've never verified I live at that address anyway! Never received any postal mail or correspondence. SO how can they now accept a document from me (2 years after opening my account, I hasten to add) proving that is my address? It's never been an address that's been verified by the clowns at PayPal.

Hence, we go round in circles. And again. It is now 3 months since they took it upon themselves to lock the account. They owe me money which is mine, and this is something I intend to escalate very rapidly when I return to the UK for a short visit, hopefully in a month or two. IN other words, small claims court request for monies owed.

So much for this global society we live in, eh?

Oh, and their website design is tosh. Makes it as difficult as possible for you to contact them, and then only via some pitiful webform. Respond to an email from them and you then get an email saying they only accept stuff from the website. WHY ON God's green earth did they send me the email in the first place?

Not happy.