Archived News for September 2007

Where I've Been

Look how few people there are! 400 vertical metres of fun, and that's if you only want to ski the top chair. Depending on which run you take from the top, it can get quite steep - this is a black run, so it has some slopes at around 100% (tangent). So, quite a bit steeper than, say, Baldwin Street. That doesn't really come through in photographs unless you take them properly (looking up, and not with a cellphone camera).

There's a nice cliff to the left of these shots, over the safety snow bank you can see in the top shot. Has a bit of an overhang at the top. Icy in the morning, unless it's fresh, which it was. Good fun.

Bioshock Soundtrack

Bioshock is a good game. It's not great, and I don't think it deserves some of the high 90s scores it's been getting. I might post later about some of the gripes I had.

What is great about it, though, is the soundtrack. The game is set in the '60s, underwater, in a city that's been slowly growing derilect since the 1959 New Year celebrations. It's peppered with licensed tracks from the 30s and 40s, played through phonographs scattered throughout the levels. Really, nothing quite describes the feeling of fragging a splicer with a steam-punk grenade launcher, to the strains of Reinhardt's 'La Mer' (known in English as 'Beyond the Sea', but a version by violin and two-fingered guitar). Here is an almost comprehensive list of tracks:

  • The Andrews Sisters - Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen
  • Billie Holiday - God Bless the Child
  • Billie Holiday - Night and Day
  • Bing Crosby - Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams
  • Bing Crosby - Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?
  • Bobby Darin - Beyond the Sea
  • Cole Porter - You're the Top
  • Django Reinhardt - It Had to Be You
  • Django Reinhardt - Jitterbug Waltz
  • Django Reinhardt - La Mer
  • Django Reinhardt - Liza
  • The Ink Spots - If I Didn't Care
  • The Ink Spots - The Best Things in Life are Free
  • Mario Lanza - Oh, Danny Boy
  • Noel Coward - 20th Century Blues
  • Noel Coward - The Party's Over
  • Patti Page - How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?
  • Perry Como - Papa Loves Mambo
  • Rosemary Clooney - It's Bad For Me
  • Tchaikovsky - Waltz of the Flowers

You can extract these files from the game, if you're technical - the tools to look for are fsbext and MusicPlayerEx, plus your favourite encoder. Or, because they're almost all public domain in New Zealand, just copy them off a friend. The only track I've been able to confirm as still under copyright is Bobby Darin's 'Beyond the Sea', which leaves copyright at the end of 2009.

Along with these licensed tracks, there's also original music, composed by Garry Schyman. It, too, is very, very good. A bit of musique concrete with a bosun whistle here, a bit of Ligeti's Atmospheres there. 2K Games have released these original tracks (calling it the 'orchestral score'), and it's free to download.

Combine the original tracks and the licensed (public domain) ones, and you'll have a comprehensive soundtrack to the game. Which is more than can be said for those poor fools who bought the collector's edition of the game and got a crappy EP of four remixed tracks, one of which was remixed by Moby.

Orange Box

I just pre-purchased Valve's Orange Box. It includes Half-Life 2 and Half-Life 2: Episode 1 - two games I already own. Which means, when the box is released next month, I'll be able to give them away.

Who'd like a legal license to Half-Life 2 and Episode 1? These games also get you the Source SDK, which means you'll be able to play games like Dystopia and Insurgency too.

Seriously: nobody wants free games?

Fresh Meme Speed

Roger Dennis, over on the NZ2.0 mailing list, has started a blog to track the speed of propagation of a meme. I'm not sure FMS is, itself, a meme: I don't think it's viral enough, nor self-contained enough to be called that name.

Regardless, it should be an interesting experiment. This post is one edge away from the source, because I heard about FMS from Roger himself. There's little to no chance that someone will read this and go on to post about it, though, so I'm afraid this node is a sink.

Winamp 5.5

Winamp 5.5 is the biggest update to Winamp since, well, Winamp 5. Funny that.

Winamp 5.5

There's a new skin, Bento, which puts the whole player into a single window. That's quite nice, because it's how I use the modern skin anyway. But the colour themes for it suck (to put it lightly), and the skin as a whole doesn't have the polished look of Winamp Modern. Perhaps it'll get better before release, which is scheduled for October 10 to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Winamp.

The only other major addition is support for album art. Unfortunately, the current default is to just dump the images in the same folder as your MP3s, with the name of the album as the name of the image. That's really unhelpful - especially since one of the reasons people use Winamp is because they like to organise their music their way, as opposed to the way iTunes or Windows Media Player want you to organise it. So, I've been going through and adding the cover images to the ID3v2 tags, because Winamp will at least read those covers, even if it doesn't write them.

I Have No Internet

And I haven't had a working connection since Saturday. Telecom sucks, &c., &c. My advice: never ring Xtra and complain about a bad connection, because their "fix" can mean no connection at all.

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