Wednesday, 4 June 2014

For Sale: Detached Property

Allow me to go into details, Estate Agent style.  To be entirely accurate I would need to litter the description with spelling mistakes, but I cannot bring myself to do that.

RARE OPPORTUNITY!!!!! 

This is a RARE opportunity to purchase a desirable DETACHED property with spectacular views of the sea.  Situated only 70 miles from London this property benefits from AIR-CONDITIONING as well as INTEGRATED HEATING.

This FRENCH DESIGNED property, built in 2000, simply oozes continental charm from every angle.

The local railway station provides hourly trains to London every hour.  And the vibrant towns of Colchester and Ipswich are only 30 minutes away.  This property truly is a commuters DREAM.

Particulars

Entrance can be gained via four doors, situated in the north-east, south-east, north-west and south-west of the property.  To the rear there is access to a large outdoor store, suitable for a variety of items.

The internal layout is in the popular 'open-plan' style with highly adaptable features.  At first glance it may appear to be merely a seating area, yet a dining area is concealed within a clever box.  To the rear of the property is the sleeping area, roughly the size of a modern build double bedroom.

An added bonus of this property is the abundance of windows.  A panoramic view is always on offer, whether entertaining guests in the sun-room or in the boudoir!

Wardrobe space is offered throughout the property, so storage need never be a problem.

Competitively priced at only £30,000, this property is move in ready.  This really is ideal for both the first-time buyer and investor alike. 

With capital appreciation of 130% (in line with housing trends) since it was built, you cannot go wrong.

EPC and photos to follow.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Inspirational People


People often ask me, ‘Rob, who do you find inspirational?’  Really, it happens all the time.
Ok, no-one has ever asked me that, but I’m sure you are wondering now.  Yes, you are. 

Well I’m pleased to announce that today I am going to tell you.  But only a couple (plus one in passing) because I'm terribly lazy.


First up we have scientist Richard Feynman - ‘The Great Explainer.’  Feynman worked on the Manhattan Project and later won a Nobel Prize for his work on Quantum Electrodynamics, although it is worth noting that he felt that titles and prizes were pointless and the work was what was important.
A little fact is that while working on the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, Feynman was so bored by the isolation that he broke into the locked filing cabinet of another scientist and left cryptic notes inside – leading the scientist to believe the top secret atomic bomb research had been stolen by spies.  You can't beat World War Pranks.

However, while these things make him interesting, it is his skill as ‘The Great Explainer’ that gets him here.  You can find videos of him on You Tube and the BBC, from lectures in the 1960s to interviews in the 1970s & 80s.  He is very watchable, especially if you have an interest in physics.  If you don't have an interest in physics, he may be the man to give you one.  An interest in physics that is.
Feynman strikes me as one of those people, like David Niven, who you could just listen to for hours without getting bored.  People who have been instrumental in our history, be it scientific or cultural development, and can go on to talk about it with a genial finesse.


Next up is Alan Watts, a philosopher.  I don’t know a lot about him other than he helped popularise Buddhism and Eastern religion in the Western world.  Again, he is another who is eminently listenable and his message often strikes a chord with me. 
 
There are others, but I've gone on far longer than I expected and I don’t want to get bogged down in some sort of crap top ten inspirational people list. 

Feel free to share anyone you feel inspires you.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Xbox One Vs Playstation 4

I've been gaming for over twenty-five years and I cannot believe the rubbish coming from the Sony Playstation fanbase.

I remember back when the war was between Amiga and Atari.  Amiga was better supported with games, but both systems were much the same.  I don't remember having any vitriol for my friends Amiga or them for my Atari.  It was just accepted that there were different machines.

I had friends that had Spectrums and Amstrads while I had the faithful Commodore 64.  We just enjoyed the games and got on with it.

Anyway - back to Sony fans.  They usually start their argument with 'I loved the Xbox 360' as if this will make the words that follow have some weight.  It's as if they are saying, 'Look at me, I'm a fair minded individual that has investigated this in detail and I'm going to now present my analysis for you to digest.'

But then they ruin it by continuing.

'I loved the Xbox 360 but the Xbox One spies on you and needs to be connected to the internet and has terrible DRM and Kinect is rubbish and it looks bad and I think it smells but the PS4 is everything a gamer ever dreamed it would be and Sony have done everything right and I can think of not a single negative about Sony because Sony has beautiful eyes and works out at the gym.'

I have seen people ranting about the Xbox One needing to be online (once a day) and saying they would never buy it - before admitting they only play online multiplayer games anyway.

Anyway - I genuinely believe it is too early to tell which system is better.  In fact, I'd go even further and say that I believe that on the details we have at present the Playstation 4 is the better system. 

And this is from someone who owned a Xbox and now owns a Xbox 360.  I like Microsoft products.  I think Windows 8 is a fantastically fast and streamlined OS.  I do not think it is an evil empire intent on world domination.

I also own Sony products - but these tend to be mundane items like my Blu-ray player.  I have absolutely no bias.

But now I am going to write a blog about how rubbish the Playstation 4 is.


ONLINE SERVICE

In April 2011 the Playstation Network was hacked and the personal details of 77 million users were taken.  This led to an outage where gamers could not play online for over three weeks.  Now, do you trust your details with a company that was fined by the UK government for using out of date security software (and they had no firewall)?  Also, the main change made after the attack - they amended the terms and conditions of the service to stop you suing them when they get hacked in future.  Nice touch, Sony!

It will cost you £40 a year for this 'service' and there is talk it will be increasing.

Microsoft on the other hand have always charged for Xbox Live.  It has never been the subject of a worldwide outage or had the details of 77 million users hacked.  Unlike Sony, Microsoft protects its gamers.

Xbox Live is £40 and will remain so.  300,000 dedicated servers will power Xbox Live, enabling Cloud Powered Gaming.  But more on this later.

WINNER - XBOX ONE


FINANCIAL STABILITY

Now, this isn't a question many gamers ask themselves but they should.  Are Microsoft or Sony going to be around in the next five years?  You may think of course they will, but for Sony things are looking bleak.

Someone that owns a substantial slice of Sony has asked them to split the software (music, games, film) side of the business from the hardware (TVs, Consoles) side. 

Yes this would mean splitting Sony Computer Entertainment, the part of the company responsible for the PS4 as it deals in software and hardware.  They are already haemorrhaging money and I wouldn't mind betting they are going to lose money on the sale of the PS4 to encourage sales.

Microsoft on the other hand are enjoying increased revenue from multiple successful divisions.

I don't fancy gambling on a company that might not be around to support the console in a few years time.

WINNER - XBOX ONE


DRM & SHARING
 
A touchy subject for Microsoft, but at least they have had the stones to get out there and say what the publishers want to hear.  Yes - the games publishers wanted the green light to protect profits.  Microsoft don't gain from this, other than games from their own studio.  There will be costs involved in the used games / trade-in market.  This is not a great thing but I can understand why publishers want it.

As for sharing games, Microsoft say you can install a game and share it with ten people - who don't have to be family.  Yes, they can play the game on their system by downloading it for free and playing it.  As long as you authorise who the ten people are this will happen.  And you can play each other at the same time.

Sony on the other hand have no plans for online sharing - BOO!  You have to physically walk round to your mates gaff and give him the disc.  And then you can't play against him because he has the disc and you are at his house.  But at least it beats having to be online - in your face Microsoft!

Also, Sony will allow third party game publishers to do exactly what Microsoft are doing with regard to used games.  So if EA do it on Xbox, they will do it on Sony.

WINNER - XBOX ONE


GAMES

This is purely subjective.  I like Halo and Forza.  So...

WINNER - XBOX ONE


CONTROLLERS

Playstation Move was an almighty flop and it is widely agreed that the controller is worse than the beautifully crafted Xbox offering.

Kinect 2 is substantially better than the original Kinect and offers to take gaming to a new level.

WINNER - XBOX ONE


HARDWARE

Sony appear to win this round - marginally quicker RAM, better GPU and CPU. 

However, Cloud Powered Gaming is Microsoft's Ace up their disc drive.  The cloud will boost the power of the Xbox One - giving the equivalent support of ten Xbox 360s.  Also this power is set to increase over time.

Was that Sony's battleship just sinking?

WINNER -XBOX ONE


ASTHETICS & NOISE

The added grunt within the smaller Playstation chassis means it will be a noisy beast.  It also runs multiple fans.  The Xbox One has, fittingly, one large fan.  In terms of looks I would say neither stands out.

But as the PS4 will be noisy, it has to be...

WINNER -XBOX ONE


PRICE

Xbox One will be £429 while the PS4 comes in at £349.  As we all know, cheaper is better.

WINNER - PS4


COMMUNITY

Sony has nurtured a community of hate-filled children and adults who despise Microsoft (or Micro$oft as they wittily like to say) to play games with.  And when they aren't swearing online about the Xbox?  They are swearing online at you for having the temerity to be good at a game.  Remember the lower price?  That means more kids will have the PS4.  Enjoy.

Microsoft has it's share of hate-filled children, but hopefully the higher price will send them to Sony.  Generally the Xbox audience is made up of older, more respectable gamers. 

WINNER - XBOX ONE


So, in full anti-Sony biased conclusion, the Xbox One is the runaway winner.  Congratulations Microsoft!

It is possible to make even a good machine like the PS4 look bad if you try.

The next generation of consoles look set to arrive in November.  We should get excited about what this means for games - things are about to get amazing. 

And the beauty of it is, it won't matter if you have a Playstation 4 or an Xbox One.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Microsoft Announce Xbox One


Yesterday Microsoft announced, amid much fanfare, the new Xbox.  Not the Xbox Infinity or Xbox 720, as many predicted.  This is the third machine, and it is called Xbox One.  This was a surprise. 
I didn’t  like the name as it was in no way logical – but then I saw someone shorten it to X1.  Sounds much better now, eh?  Ok, maybe only a nerd would think X1 sounds cooler.

The announcement focused on what Microsoft have built, the hardware itself.  Something Sony can learn from there, with their reveal of the Playstation 4 back in February being more of a showcase of next generation games with the new Playstation being conspicuously absent.
Nope, Microsoft said this would be the announcement of the new Xbox and it was most certainly that.  We saw the machine in action, with Kinect and voice control being used heavily.  ‘Look, you can watch television on your television!’

It was amazing.
But seriously, the hardware and software look pretty robust and Microsoft have made a good effort at creating an all-in-one entertainment box for your living room.  You want music?  You got it.  Films?  Go ahead!  Surf the internet and watch television at the same time? Not a problem.  Switch between them quickly to replicate when you accidently sit on your remote control? Done and done!

However, this means that Microsoft are now getting slammed for not speaking to the gamers enough.
‘Where are the gameplay videos?’ They whine.  Whine like little babies.

‘Well,’ I coo back to them, ‘They will be revealed in three weeks at E3 like they are every year.’  And then I’d ruffle their hair and tell them to scamper off to run a stick along a railing.
You see, all Microsoft needed to do was show the world that they had a plan for the next generation and show that it was ready.  They did and it is.

There have been some complaints already about the X1.  Basically my main complaint is they didn’t do enough to make things clear in the first instance. 
Anyway, the chief complaints are detailed below with my own understanding of the situation.  Do your own research as the details are likely to change in the coming months!


Backwards Compatibility
The X1 isn’t backward compatible.  Neither is the PS4.  They are built on entirely new architecture, putting them more in line with a PC.  Next complaint.

No Used Games Market
Microsoft state there is no plan to charge gamers a fee for playing a pre-owned game.  However, you will need to install the game on you X1 and have the disc in to play.  When you trade the game in and someone else installs it, the license transfers.  That is the current state of play from what I can gather.

Xbox is Always Online
It requires an internet connection – possibly as far as needing to ‘check in’ every 24 hours, but beyond this if the connection drops out when you are playing a game you can keep on playing.

I Hate Kinect and Now it is a Standard Feature
Never mind, eh?  I didn’t buy into the Kinect thing either, but it’s not a deal breaker.  Oh, and the people worried that this is just a way for Microsoft to get cameras into your home?  Are you genuine?  Put a duster over it if it bugs you that much.  I’d be more worried about the finger print detector they have installed into the gamepad.  Or the dNA extractor that extends when you are sleeping and puts you onto the Police database.
 

Final Thoughts

When is it released?  No idea, but most expect a November arrival.  I’d love it to be earlier.  Price?  Also no idea, but I’m guessing Microsoft will price aggressively to win sales from Sony. 
As for bias – yes I own an Xbox 360.  But, if I had the money (and the time!) I would have a Playstation as well.

Roll on E3 and the announcement of the games!