GTR Festival 2018

Ah, the Nissan GTR, in either its current form or the old school R32 onwards series, you cant but love it.

NZ has a large number of these fantastic cars (VG or RB powered) on the road, as we’re one of the few countries in the world that allows anyone to own and drive one on the public roads, regardless if its NZ new or an import.

And because of this, the 2018 GTR Festival is on at Hampton Downs – June 16th. So not long to go.

http://gtrfestival.co.nz/

I’m going to go and see my dream car on the track, are you ?

Rant : TradeMe

Bit of a personal rant today….. regarding TradeMe (thats NZ’s local version of Ebay for outsiders).

Lately, I’ve been listing a decent amount of stuff on there, all low $$ items but lots of them. Hardly any of it selling.

But when an item does sell, I’ve hit issues with the buyers.

  1. I list item for $20 reserve. Someone bids. When they bid, this then locks down the pricing options etc so I cant increase the reserve or add a Buy Now. So if someone else is interested, they’re forced to bid. Now, what happened this time, is someone, bid, then someone else 24 HOURS later, posts a question on the auction “Hey, I’ll do a $50 Buy Now”. I advise them that I cant do that now that bidding has started. So they start counter bidding the original bidder. Auction eventually ends with a total of $23 and the winner is the second bidder. However, this is where the fun started…… I was away from the PC when the auction ended and didn’t get a chance to check emails until Monday afternoon (approx 2.5 days after auction ending). What I find is the buyer has messaged a minute after the auction ending advising they’ll pickup that day. Obviously didnt happen because they didnt know my details and I couldnt see the email. Then the day after, couple more emails AND a Facebook message from them – yes, they tracked me down via Facebook. Then an email on the Monday morning threatening me with bad feedback and I’m a rip off because I didn’t accept their $50 offer and that I want more than $23 – umm, if I wanted more than $23, don’t you think I would have made the reserve higher ? I cancelled the trade via TradeMe due to their negative attitude and threats of taking legal action, and that they had my address and so on……  I informed TradeMe of what had happened, and what did they do ? Nothing. Just sent me an email saying that if I wanted to take things further I’d have to send them all correspondence between the buyer and myself. Yet if they looked at the feedback the buyer put on me and my response to that, they would’ve soon worked out that I was (well, I feel I was) well within my rights to cancel the trade and raise it with TradeMe. I didn’t bother taking it any further, managed to recover my fee’s and relisted the item. The buyer then emailed me to say that I was a very disturbed person and only god could help me. Think someone forgot to take their pills………….
  2. List a VHS video for $1. Someone buys it, wants to pick up that weekend – sure. I email them and advise to give me a day to dig it out (was at bottom of box of stuff for sale). Dig it out, email them that ready for pickup. Didnt hear back from them. Emailed them again few days later, no response. So week later, I request refund of fees, and relist the video. THEN I get email from the buyer asking if I had managed to find the book and find that they have countered my request for a refund! Yes, they said “book”. I’m starting to wonder if they don’t actually know what theyre buying…..Yet I have the item relisted, and I’ll be charged extra fees to remove it now! Its crazy how TM let you relist the same item BEFORE the refund process is complete. They should wait until the refund process is completed before allowing you to relist. How hard can it be ?

Theres lots of small things that defy common sense with TradeMe’s processes and standards, yet they ignore the masses and push on…. and well, it works for them I guess, making a killing off the fees.

The major one that gets me, is that someone is obviously selling a pirated bit of software/movie etc, and has large numbers of said item listed. You complain to TM and what do they do ? Take down that ONE auction, and leave the other 1000 running. Use your heads TM, shut the user down! Oh, but you wont because you have made a small fortune of that seller selling dodgy goods……

 

Easy as Pi Emulation

Recently I was given a Raspberry Pi, inc case, power, wifi and SD card. Plan was for my eldest daughter to play with it and see if its something that would interest her going forward…. she showed a lot of interest, more so when she found Retropie.

Since then, she started hassling me to help her get it running to play some old games….so I did.

And guess what ? It was damn easy.

Just dump the latest Retropie image on the SD card, and away you go. The only thing we had issues with, was getting through the initial controller setup. It didnt seem to like my budget USB game pad, so ended up using an Xbox One controller.

Now, since this is an original Pi, its not amazing at emulation, but runs the early arcades such as PacMan, Space invaders, Donkey Kong well, but anything else can be hit and miss. My daughter fired up Super Mario Kart (SNES) and while it did run, it wasnt great.

Copying new games was easy as copying some ROM’s into the relevant folders onto the SD card over the network.

So now, I’m hooked on this little box for emulation purposes, but looking at obtaining the latest Pi which apparently handles most stuff without a problem. Being so small, its portable, which makes it great for throwing into a bag when you go away for a weekend and the kids start going “Im bored” – find an HDMI capable display and you’re away.

Now, this does make my RetroBox project rather redundant………  I may still do it, I’ll see how the new Pi goes.

 

Check out : Retro Asylum

If you’re into retro gaming and listen to podcasts, I’m pretty sure you would have come across Retro Asylum.

It’s a great podcast with a group of guys who love their retro gear and gaming and have a great sense of humor.

I’ve been tuning into them for about 8 months now and find it fascinating listening about all the systems they’ve come across or own, a lot of gear we never saw officially in New Zealand.

They cover all aspects of retro gaming, from hardware, software, peripherals, newly developed games (inc Amstrad!) and more.

I highly recommend checking them out. You can find them on all the usual social media platforms, including Discord – but the bugger about discord is that we’re usually asleep when they all come to life 🙁

 

Review : Ready Player One

When I first saw the trailer for Ready Player One, I was like “wow, this looks cool”, being geek and game related. Steven Speilberg being involved as well, “WOW”.

So I waited… and finally it was released here in NZ last week in time for the Easter break.

Was it worth the wait ?

Not really.

The CGI, sound, acting were all great, but the story itself was quite messy I felt.

Lets start with the first part of the story, where Wade (the main character) takes part in a race to obtain the first key (of three) – this race does not exist in the book (well, I will admit I’m only about 1/3 the way through). OK, so they decided to make it a bit more exciting and understandable to today’s viewers who wouldn’t understand the “Joust” aspect that was in the book.

From there on, the story was pretty predictable.

However, to me it seemed like there were two teams working on the writing. One was keeping everything “PG” and friendly, and the other was out for some “M” action. So one character would be all happy happy joy joy, then the next scene, the character would be “murder death kill” – there was no consistency across the scenes.

I’ll finish the book as I enjoy this sort of story, but for the movie, I’ll give it 6.5/10.

PUBG – Android

So, Tencent released a mobile version of PUBG.

Lets take a look… bearing in mind, I’ve never played the PC version.

I’m running it on a Huawei P10Lite running Android 7.0 and it runs ok in low settings, except for some major graphical glitches. Due to the number of chipsets etc, its to be expected. I did get one kill in the game however, so its not too bad.

 

Sea of Thieves : Thoughts

Sea of Thieves – since it was first announced it had my attention, but I was slightly concerned that would be it different enough than everything else out there to get people interested, and hold their interest.

Well, since the game had its Final Beta this weekend and I can reveal more info and a video (all previous Beta’s etc were under a NDA), I’m happy to announce its looking damn good and a lot of fun.

Graphics – wow. I have not seen such amazing water physics in a game. GTA5 water was good, but this takes it 5 steps further. The water looks real, acts real, and when light hits it, it reacts how it would in the real world. The main ship and character graphics look like they’ve been ripped from Team Fortress 2 due to their artistic style, but are very well animated. Their simple looking but very effective. Everything is very smooth and clear. Now, most games of this ilk, if you go under water, you’re either looking at fairly bland scenery or just cant see the bottom – not so here. When you’re near an island, the water is teeming with life and color.

Sound – everything that can move, has a sound effect attached to it – sails, ropes, wood, when people moving around on deck while you’re below, you can hear their footsteps etc. Music is played in a similar fashion to Red Dead Redemption – a small bit of background music will come on occasionally. If you like your sailing to be a bit more noisy, then you can select one of two period correct instruments and start playing one of 3 pieces of music (Ride of The Valkyries while chasing an enemy boat is awesome) and if one of your fellow crew decides to pull out a musical instrument at the same time, you both play the same piece giving the music a more complete sound.

Gameplay – very simplistic and yet effective. Switch between a sword and a pistol/rifle/shotgun quickly, access various other equipment such as buckets (needed when you’re taking on water), banana’s (for energy), lanterns (to see) and other options. When you encounter an enemy ship, thats when the game really kicks in, you can either attempt to get away by angling your sails with the winds for maximum speed, or fight it out – either with cannons, or just ram the other ship and board them.

When you die, you end up on The Ferry of the Damned, a ghost ship where you must wait a couple of minutes before being able to spawn back into the game.

If you are left behind by your crew, or fall overboard, you can spawn back on board courtesy of the friendly mermaid/mermen who appear.

Overall, this game is looking to be a lot of fun, with crew not working together (oi who’s steering/fixing the ship/bailing water), firing yourself out of a cannon to board ships or get to hard to get to places, getting drunk in game together and so on. I’m on board for it and hope to purchase the full game on the 20th when its released.

I have had someone ask if its a grinding game etc like WoW/Guild Wars etc – not really, depends how you want to play it. There are quests and treasure maps, to give you money to buy better gear, but honestly, I think if you were just in it for the ship battles and exploring, then you’ll be happy as a fish in the sea.

Now, for those on older systems thinking “crap, Ill need a graphics card/CPU update”, fear not. Its well optimized and runs nicely on my system (specs below) which is considered “crap” by many 😉

Intel Pentium G3258, 8GB DDR3, Zotac AMP! Edition 760GTX (2GB), Kingston SSD.

Rare have done an amazing job on this game, and I look forward to playing it.

 

Are You An “Unlimited Backup” Hoarder ?

“Unlimited” cloud based backup systems. Do you feel guilty about how much you actually use ?

Yes, they all offer “unlimited” storage for your data backups, and say its no problem etc but I personally feel kind of guilty about how much space I actually use with my backup supplier (BackBlaze) – yet, truth be told, I’m probably on the lower end of the scale in terms of data storage used with them.

The data I have selected for backup totals about 750GB, but only about 30GB of that probably changes in a week – its things like photos, documents, emails, purchased apps, along with a Veeam backup of my server C drive which really only houses one thing of concern, the email system.

Yet I find myself each week cleaning up the usual suspect folders (temp folders, downloads etc) to keep the back ups to a minimum – one bonus to doing this, is that it takes less time to do the cloud backup.

Do you use a cloud based backup solution ? Do you feel guilty how much you actually upload ? Is it all “legit” data, or are you using them as your personal “linux image collection” storage container ?