Gone Shopping

David Shaw, 2:30 am 12th July 2009
Posted under: Blog Babble

I apologise for neglecting the blog again. I have been trying to kickstart a few of the activities I need to get running to kick this Trazoi show going, but I don’t think I’ve done a good job on any of them thus far. I’m currently taking a step back, staring at the diagrams pinned to my corkboard, reading informative books and coming up with a new approach for next week. I will try to factor in more blogging into the plan, if only to push myself to get to the point where I’ve got pretty pictures to share.

My absense from blogging over the last fortnight is partly due to me settling a few mental hang-ups from finishing my thesis. The mid-year milestone triggered off a little voice in my head that said “Hey, remember all that cool stuff you were drooling over last year but said you couldn’t get until your disseration was handed in? Well, it’s been three months already. Where’s the presents?” So I decided to open my piggy-bank and go shopping.

I considered getting a new desktop PC, a usual thing I salivate over, but I couldn’t justify the purchase. My iMac is good enough for work. My secondary WinXP machine might be completely outdated and sounds like a sick leaf blower, but it’s good enough for older games and watching the occasional DVD – which is all I really need it for. So instead I split the purchase money and got a netbook for more mobile productivity, plus an Xbox 360 for current-gen console gaming that doesn’t involve waggling a remote.

I’m pretty happy with the netbook. I got a Dell Inspiron Mini 9, as reviews said the model was quite sturdy and it would be easier to service the parts myself if need be. This model also has the neat benefit that it has no moving parts; the hard disk is solid state and as it’s low power there’s no cooling fan. I’ve installed Ubuntu Netbook Remix on it and it works rather well; it’s no powerhouse with an Intel Atom but it does what I need it to do. Currently I’m using the netbook as a digital notepad, taking notes in WikidPad as I read books, and it does that very well. And unlike expensive laptops which always seem so fragile to me, I don’t mind so much if a netbook breaks down in a couple of years because they’re not so expensive.

The Xbox 360 is an Xbox 360 – there’s not much more to say. I’ve used it a little bit and it seems good. I’m a bit miffed that the wireless adapter is an expensive add-on – hey, it came already installed in the Wii and the netbook – but I can rig up a wired connection when I need to go on-line. I’m not big on multiplayer gaming that doesn’t involve all players being within Nerf ball range.

It also twigged that since I now have an internet connection that isn’t completely pants, I can now use services like Steam and Good Old Games – great for both catching up on games I missed on playing the last few years and for researching games in themes I’d like to explore myself. I got Half Life 2: Orange Box, Psychonauts, the X-COM pack and Fallout Tactics – all combined for less than the standard full price shrink-wrapped game. I’m still downloading them a week after ordering them – my connection isn’t great – but it’s nice to experience the buzz that Steam has caused for myself.

The big downside to all these great priced game packages is that 1) I already have a back catalog of games I want to play, and 2) I’m currently finishing a game every two months. It’s going to take me until 2012 to actually play them all. Sigh. Well, a few Game Appreciation evenings a week won’t hurt to help work through my playlist and to eventually figure out why everyone on the internet keeps claiming the cake is a lie.



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