Friday, October 9, 2009

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon

I've currently been playing the DS game Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Darkness. It's a cute game where you get to use a team of pokemon to go on dungeon crawls to complete missions. This game is different to the standard pokemon games in that all the characters, including yours, are pokemon rather than humans. Your character is actually a human who was turned into a pokemon and lost their memory. At the start of the game you get to answer some questions and your pokemon type is selected (I got munchlax). After that you team up with another pokemon partner and join the explorers guild. The game has a neat but simplistic storyline, definately aimed at kids, but it is quite entertaining with some amusing dialog. The game play is fairly basic, during missions or exploring you have a team of up to 4 pokemon and you walk around randomly generated dungeon levels fighting other pokemon on the way. The combat is turn based so you can take your time to think about how to go ahead. It's fun to be able to use the pokemon just as they are without needing a trainer and being able to use multiple pokemon at once. In the dungeons you control the leader pokemon but the other pokemon decide their own actions. This can be a good thing since it speeds things up but sometimes they can run off in the wrong direction or use the wrong moves at times. You can set tactics for each pokemon or limit their available moves so they perform roughly how you want them to but the control isn't perfect and it can be tedious to go through all the team members to change the tactics. The combat pretty much uses the same moves from the traditional pokemon games so it's easy to get the hang of. I found the game fun and relaxing for the most part since it's not too challenging and the story line was entertaining. The game play however is quite repetative so sometimes it can become a bit of a grind, particularly if a dungeon has lots of levels. It is also frustrating at times that the dungeon is a random maze and you need to find the right room with the stair to get to the next level. Sometimes the stair will be right there in the first room you enter and other times you go all over the map twice to find it.
Once the main story line finishes you can keep playing and since you can get additional pokemon added to your team roster it can be tempting to keep playing to try get them all.
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon is light hearted game that's mostly fun but probably isn't good for playing a long time unless you're a die hard pokemon fan.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Star Trek Fashion

Lately I've been watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. There's been a lot of different examples of uniforms and clothing on Star Trek tv shows and movies so I thought I'd put up a few examples of them here.

Uniforms from Star Trek original series

Skant women's uniform from original series
I really think this uniform is a bit too short to be practical but I like the slevees on it at least.

Skant men's uniform from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
This uniform was only worn occasionally by male characters in the first couple seasons. The idea behind it was that since men and women were equal they should both be able to wear this uniform. I think what they failed to realise is that it doesn't really make sense for anyone to wear this as a uniform regardless of gender. See Star Trek Wiki - Memory Alpha for more info.

Uniforms from Star Trek II through Star Trek VI and Star Trek: Generations
I think I prefer these uniforms to the usual jump suits, they seem to have more character to them.

Councelor Deanna Troi from Star Trek: The Next Generation
I can't work out if I love or hate Deanna Troi's blue dress uniform. Sometimes I think it look great but other times the lopsided neckline gets on my nerves.

Men's uniforms from Star Trek: The Next Generation
For the first season or two these uniforms were made from a spandex material which was too tight and ended up causing the cast back problems from straining against the material. They ended up changing to a two piece wool costume to make things more comfortable.

Uniforms from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Uniforms from Star Trek: Voyager

Star Trek 2009 Movie uniforms
The new Star Trek uniforms seem to be a lot closer to the original star trek uniforms. They're not particularly inspiring but at least they look semi practical.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Barossa Photos

A couple weeks ago I went on a short holiday to the Barossa Valley in South Australia. I took a few photos there and some turned out quite neat so I thought I'd post a few here.

View from hill lookout

Stone art visible from hill lookout

Area near Lyndoch

Railcar motel we stayed at in Tanunda

Rocking horse at wood cutters hut

Statue at Goat Square in Tanunda

Sign by Goat Square in Tanunda

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Engineering News

Submarine from 10th International Submarine Races - photo by Jack Gruber

Here's a list of links to interesting news articles relating to engineering.

Rhythm Engineering Traffic System Shortens Travel Time - Artificial intelligence traffic system on Kansas highway significantly reduces travel time, fuel consumption and emissions.

NASA Chief Nominee Says Agency Needs to Rekindle Engineering Spirit - Charles Bolden new NASA Chief wishes to revive the pioneering spirit that existed with the early space flights.

JFE Engineering to Start Study of Supplying Water in Australia - Japanese company JFE is developing water filtering systems for use in Queensland, Australia.

These Bridges to Nowhere May Help Avert Future Disasters - Universities at Buffalo and Calspan are collaborating to build bridges to aid research into bridge collapses during disasters.

Students Design, Build, Race Pedal-Powered Submarines - College and high school kids students from around the world compete in The 10th International Submarine Races.

Diversity Dilemma: Why African American Civil Engineering Candidates Are Hard To Find And How Civil Engineering Companies Can Help Fix It - Hinton Human Capitol Blog suggests that failure of the education system and the engineering profession's poor exposure lead to a lack in diversity.

Army Terminators Walk Like Men - Bipedal military robot designed to simulate humans to test chemical protection clothing.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

10 Funny Music Videos

Here's a list of 10 great funny music videos. They are mainly normal songs with amusing video clips but I've included one parody song in there by Weird Al Yankovic. I've put some videos on the page here but for the others just click on the title to see the video on other sites.

1. OK Go - Here It Goes Again

2. Foo Fighters - Learn to Fly

3. Har Mar Superstar - DUI

4. Sophie Ellis Bextor - Murder on the Dance Floor

5. Weird Al Yankovic - Eat It

6. Peaches (featuring Iggy Pop) - Kick It

7. Eminem - Without Me

8. My Chemical Romance - I'm Not OK

9. Beastie Boys - Fight For Your Right

10. Weezer - Pork and Beans

Monday, June 15, 2009

Action Packed Weekend of Games

For a change I'll write about what I did on the weekend since I need a game post and I actually participated in 3 different types of games this weekend.

On Saturday my husband Aaron and I got up at an ungodly hour to go paintballing with some people from my work. I have been paintballing only once before when I helped out (badly) some friends who were short a player for a paintball tournament. In the tournament I spent most of the time cowering behind barricades and wasn't very effective, apart from acting as another target to divert attention. This time I went paintballing I think I over compensated by trying to charge a fort by myself that was held by 4 or 5 people. I didn't get very far but it was amusing, apart from the hideous and painful bruises from being shot at close range of course.
For the paintballing we were split up into two teams then fought at each field twice with teams swapping starting positions after the first game. The different fields were a barrel field, a trench field, a fort field and a bushland camouflage field.
Our team won the first game but after that things fell apart with the other team kicking butt for the rest of the day. I realised that it's a lot easier to play with people you know well and can communicate easily with. There was a serious lack of cooperation in our group, particularly since we had no obvious leader. We ended up just bunkering down a lot of the time and weren't able to decide on a course of action. For example in the trench set up there were 3 of us left and we were either out of or low on ammo. We sat around talking for a few minutes about being low and ammo and planning to go around the side and charge but the other team go to us first and shot us from the side; very embarrasing.
Aaron was more ambitious for most games and tried to gain ground sometimes but without solid support it didn't work very well. I did still have fun for the most part. I think I prefer laser skirmish since there is less pain and it doesn't cost as much but I'll admit there's a neat adrenaline rush from paintball.

The next thing was on that night, a steampunk roleplaying costume party called "The Maiden Flight of the Olympia".
It was a pretty impressive set up for the party. It was in a hired hall and had a whole bunch of steampunk style props set up around the place and a stage was set up to look like the deck of a steampunk space ship. The story was that people were on a voyage to the moon on the ship Olympia. Throughout the game various events occurred such as an attack from a giant squid and going through an asteroid field. There were also various character conflicts and intrigues between players.
I didn't get into the roleplaying as much as Aaron did but I had some fun conspiring with the suffragettes who were planning on kidnapping the queen if they didn't get their way.
There were a lot of people from the SA chapter of the Australian Costumers Guild there so there were some pretty neat costumes. I had a pretty average costume thrown together at the last minute, a shiny blue Victorian looking top, a black skirt and boots.
Aaron managed to find a second hand jacket with tails and borrowed a top hat from a friend so he looked rather dashing.
It was a pretty interesting evening and there were some great performances from people really getting into their characters.

On Sunday I played in our fortnightly Dark Heresy roleplaying game. This is a roleplaying game set in the Warhammer 40K Universe where you get to be acolytes of an inquisitor. The Dark Heresy system is quite good with a lot of neat advancement options for characters.
My character in the game is an assassin of noble blood who uses a long las gun for sniping.
It's been a pretty fun game so far. In the session this weekend we fought a giant four legged nurgle creature from the warp. When the creature appeared our first tech priest failed his will power roll and fainted in terror for 3 rounds. Our psyker used his leadership aura and his perils of the warp effect knocked two of us to the ground with a wind blast. Our adept bolted and was then chased down by the demon but managed to dodge all attacks and then set it on fire with an exterminator cannister blast. Since my shots weren't having much effect I charged into close combat with the others and damaged the creature horribly with my sword after some nice dice rolls. I ended up getting grappled then eaten by the demon and being held by intestines inside it's stomach. The psyker lost an arm then the creature was finally killed and disappeared into the warp leaving me 20m in the air with nothing to hold onto. Thankfully the second tech priest was nice enough to break my fall so I didn't die horribly.
At the end of this the psyker was unconcious, the first tech priest had woken up and carried him while we made our way out of the area. Unfortunately none of us thought to bring back the nurgle engine that we were supposed to bring with us. Normally the psyker reminds us of these things but he was passed out so kept his mouth shut. When we got back to the inquisitor he was not happy. The first tech priest tried to lie by saying the engine had been crushed and eaten by the demon and exploded. Eventually the adept admitted we had just left it in the truck. The adept and the second tech priest blamed the first tech priest for this so our inquisitor started strangling him. He eventually stopped after the first tech priest agreed to get the engine back.
So our next session is to go and see if the nurgle engine is still where we left it and try get it back while the psyker gets a bionic arm fitted.
I'm really enjoying playing this game since the characters in our group are a lot of fun and our game master (GM) is going a great job of setting the scenes.

So that was my game packed weekend. You should know that having this much gaming back to back can be dangerous to your sanity and health so only attempt this at your own risk.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

7 Great Fashion News Articles

Finale of the DKNY spring/summer collection during Fashion Week (Photo by Louis Lanzano/AP)

Here's some links to various interesting news articles on what's happening in fashion today.

1. Fashion World Turns to Bloggers to Get the Word Out - article from Los Angeles Times about how designers are increasingly going to bloggers to market their products.

2. Top Model Exposes Sordid Side of Fashion - article from the UK's The Observer on a documentary about the fashion industry made by model Sara Ziff.

3. What Not to wear, Baghdad-Style: Fashion Rules Begin to Change - article from the New York Times about how fashion is changing for women in Baghdad.

4. Forever 21 Continues to Grow Despite Recession, Court Woes - article about how Forever 21 aiming to take over several of bankrupt Gottschalks' stores and is being sued for allegedly copying designs by Trovata.

French Lacroix Fashion House is Put in Administration - article from Google News about Lacroix being placed under administration after filling for bankruptcy protection due to the financial crisis.

Out of Fashion? - article from National Post on how fashion designers are faring during the global financial crisis.

"Trashy" Fashion Showcase a Hit - article from about a fashion show held in Idaho Falls where people showed fashion creations made from trash in order to promote recyling.