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Sunday, 29 April 2012

Hot Potato.

To be honest we don't read too many papers, they all boil down to the same stories over and over again.  On facebook we have the Fortean Times weird news round up which is nice and covers stuff you don't find in the regular press (or rather the populist press).  You do come across online versions of regular newspapers which are weirdly at odds with their print cousins such as the 'celeb' chasing Mail Online or the paywalled up Times.

Others are just too fucking vile, the Mail is all Princess Kate and Downtown Abbey stuff which makes me want to shoot bile like a Metal Slug Zombie.  Where its polar opposite the Mirror is a left wing rag not fit to line litter trays, with its polarising simplicity of whatever wrong is with the world the Tories did it.  The Star is kinda like a hybrid of the Mail online at its most vacuous and The Sun (which I get for Ally Ross on a Tuesday I'm a sucker for TV listings).  I kinda like the idea of a big newspaper, the Times mentioned before used to do a nice science bit on mondays (subs pls check as the last time I read the Times was circa 1997 so this could now be a puff piece on TOWIE or some such cock).  The Guardian, when I've bought it (mainly to get free films) wasn't that bad, it just doesn't relate to my centrist lifestye, oh and Charlie Brooker was either off or piss poor leading to further upset.

This leaves either the Telegraph (imagine that old Two Ronnies sketch about the two old boys in a country club thats your readership that is.) or the Independant (my favourite of the broadsheets.) The Express is still dedicated to Madeleine McCann and Princess Di which makes it a minefield to navigate (incidentally how many of those recent Maddie sightings are of her as she looked as a 3 year old rather than as she would look now, I think we should be told). Which leaves the Daily Mail...

Currently obsessed with ridding the Internet of Porn or at least letting ISPs create an opt out for those that love their porno, with a variety of unverified anectdotes from people, that sound more like propaganda than actual hard facts. (I'd love to do some real research to test the veracity of those stories, as it just seems to convenient to the Mails story).  Also I don't think creating an opt out list will do little to stop the pron, people will find a way to look at it.  Whether through using proxies or a variety of torrenting /downloading methods, if people want it internet filth, there are many ways to get it and indeed watch it for free.

Then there is the whole debate on what this opt out list is used for.  I am with the google lady on this, create filters to block your kids from seeing stuff they don't, put safe search on when you use search engines.  Plus educate your teens if they think what you get in porn is real life.  Cos believe me it ain't like that.  At all.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Bubble Bobble Bollocks

This entry was going to be about something entirely different but until we visited a bootsale we were totally in the dark about all this.  We've detailled previously that our love affair with NES Bubble Bobble is a deep and complex one, extending to any new system emulated we look for a version of the game to play on it.  

After a couple of disappointing bootsales we decided to revisit the memorial hospital bootsale up on Woolwich common.  Just before marathon day an all, leading to a big detour before we managed to get in.  In fact apart from some snacks, the only thing we picked up was Bubble Bobble Evolution for the princely sum of £3.50.

We heard from several sources that it was a particularly piss poor effort but untill we decided to get it home and play it well it outdoes itself on being shit.

Bubble Bobble Evolution.
Maker: Taito corp, Licensed to Rising Star games.
Number of players: One player.
Firmware: 2.67
Genre: Platformer / Puzzle game.

The first thing we did when we get it home was read through the instruction manual and really wish we didn't.
Bub and Bob are now apparently living in 18th London playing on the banks of the Thames when they are transformed into dinosaurs and captured by persons unknown.  Their whole raison d'etre it seems is to escape from twin towers by way of using their bubbles to solve puzzles and flick switches.

There are a whole assortment of switches to flick and generators which send bubbles over the 3 stages.  Oh and there are enemies to bubble up but they don't do much here and are treated not only with disdain but almost irrelavance.  You do get points for bubbling them up but not for popping them (nor do you get anything in the way of bonuses except for some token pick ups, its all about the puzzles not the scores here), oh and before say anything this what the main monsters.
This does not bode well.

So we decided to put this in the PSP after seeing just what the fuck they had done with Bub n Bob.  Lets just say when it came to it sucking I wasn't disappointed.  We didn't mention this before, but you don't just play as Bub or Bob, your playing human Bub and Bob but this time cosplaying as the dinosaurs from the original Bubble Bobble.  Not only is this idea fucked up but the implementation is fucked also.  The controls are really woolly and there are some platforms that you can jump through and some you can't, not helped by the poor controls.  Sometimes when blowing bubbles it seems that sometimes it badly overlaps as if you've blown a big square tile (and we really hope its tile based, for PSP stuff) with a bubble on it instead of just a bubble. 

Even worse is to come when you do manage to clear a stage and face off against a boss.  You'll do this twice, no thanks to the twin towers idea.  There are set points where your bubbles can be directed to one of the badly rendered mayors in BBE.  You'll not take damage from contact with the boss (in this case a badly rendered, house faced golem), but thanks to this jet area neither will any off your bubbles, causing him to switch to another level and carry on with its attack.  Eventually you'll finish him off and have the depressing task to do it all again in the other tower.  At this point we did the decent thing and gave up. 

Tatio proved that they could do justice to Bubble Bobble with the excellent Bubble Bobble Neo for Xbox 360 and Wiiware (oh and piss off many with their update to Rainbow Islands: Towering Islands at the same time) however they seem to have a 'brown' touch when it comes to hand held implementations of the series.
We may subject ourselves to the DS version Bubble Bobble Revolution (and its pox riddled boxart.) thanks to DeSmuMe getting an update. However at this time for PSP owners and those with custom firmware get FCE ultra and the NES rom for how Bubble Bobble should be played.

Overall 2/10 Yet another atrocity comitted in twin towers thanks to Tatio's undeserved update.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Trip 3: Kew.

Our final trip didn't take place untill yesterday. We haven't been to Kew in a few years and the last time was in the autumn, to catch the mesembs in bloom in the Princess Di Memorial Greenhouse.  So we decided to visit in the spring and take a look around the place.  First up getting there is a nuisance due to planned engineering works.  We eventually took the train to Kew bridge from Waterloo East and walked the few hundred yards to the main entrance (we normally take the tube, but like we say they had parts of the district line closed for engineering works). 

The second issue with Kew is that its fucking expensive to get in.  We found that they upped the prices to £13.90 for adults and pay even more if you wanted in on their giftaid scam.  However paying an arm and a leg and finally getting your bearings its not that bad.  We found that, walking round at your own pace and generally taking your time was the best thing to do.  First up we visited the gift shop,  Kew has two, one situated next to the childrens playground and the other is a sort of mini nursery next to one of their main gates.  The first one sells the usual stuff along with guidebooks and trinkets and I found it to be rather naff, the other is much more interesting. 

We spent most of our time deliberating over plants before looking at their much more hardcore floras in the book department.  They seemed to have a lot of books for sale on Leguminosiae in the main book area, ideal if you wish to deal with peas and its many relatives.  We also took a look at some of their floras including one of Oman, before heading back to the Plant area.  Their succulents were not up to much and what they wanted for  them was extortionate, £5 for Aloe Variegata in a 3 1/2 inch pot isn't my idea of fun.  However they did sell themselves short on Lithops.  Whereas a single headed plant sold for around £2 in a 2" pot they had a 31/2" pot with several seedlings in for £5, once repotted we had 10 plants that would have cost £20 brand new.

Nolina Recurvata Donkey Tail Palm in flower.
Princess Di Memorial Greenhouse.

Or the Princess of Wales Conservatory to give it its proper title.  This is the main point of our trip to see what was in flower cactus wise.  It was in hindsight a little early for them, and should have given it another month, but I wasn't actually disappointed with the outcome.  They had a few  things in flower a lot of their Cleistocactus were in bloom and whereas their flowers are neither large nor impressive they are bird pollinated which should count for something.   Most of the side trays were dedicated to Gasteria and Haworthia where a lot of them were in full bloom. along with some Aloes too,  (Striata was pretty impressive, knee high with several flower spikes in full bloom.)

Kew is celebrated for its orchids and seed bank biodiversity projects, although thanks to the wealth of cacti on display (and pretty well grown plants too) maybe it should be better known to all cactophiles out there too.  I hope that these photos will prove my point.
Cleistocactus Hyalacanthus
Gasteria In bloom
Pereskia Aculeata: Note that it has leaves as well as areoles.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Three trips Pt2.

The second of our three trips took place last saturday, a trip to Romford, gateway to the east.

It shares a lot in common with Croydon, its a large town, a long way away from where we live and they are both pretty good for gaming.  Thats where it ends though as Romford is actually quite nice, free of christian nutters at the moment (though that is possibly due to the overwhelming caucasianess of its inhabitants). 

Fun activity: when you take the 5 bus from Canning town station, keep watch as the colour gradually fades to white, as you reach your destination.  All the skleps, Masjids and hall churches gradually disappear, especially once you pass Wood Green.

It holds a pretty decent street market on Saturdays, not on a par with say Walthamstow, but  more traditionally English rather than Multicultural.   There is also an indoor market and a pretty boss shopping mall. 

Junkwise there are a few good charity shops, (a large oxfam and a hospice shop) which I've bought stuff from in the past & a lot of good Poundland types of shop.  This includes a Sams 99p shop as well as a 99p store.

Romford is actually a hold out for more vanished shops than I can remember.  They still have all their Games,  (this includes gamestation) after their recent bonfire of shops to stop them tanking completely.  Worryingly they have both a Bon Marche (pronounced Bonmarsh) and a Peacocks and untill last year a massive TJ Hughes (which kinda reminded me of a depressing version of Littlewoods stuck in an 80's time warp) though this is now derelict.

The best thing for us though is a decent game shop.  You would have thought that with both a Game and a CEX that these would rock but the best one is in the covered market and its called That'z Entertainment.

To be fair they have a pretty decent line up of games there covering current gen as well as retro stock.  If you are a PSP fan they have some pretty niche stuff (we know you're hardcore you wouldn't come here if you weren't).  For instant last time we were there they had Disgaea Infinite (the Visual Novel version of Disgaea) as well as Hakuoki, Aksys Meiji era, romance novel, as well as a few of Ghostlight's RPG output ( They are an European outlet for all things, Atlus and Falcom).  They also do trading cards, for all you Yu-Gi-Oh fans (though we stopped caring when GX came out).  I've got some good stuff from there (Jeanne D'arc for PSP) and its well worth a trip down.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Three trips. Part 1

As the title says, this is the first of 3 trips undertaken over the past week and days.

Croydon. and Lewisham.

This isn't really a junk tour, we did look at a few charity shops but, going to Croydon on easter weekend, I'm purely there for the weird.  Apparently, as noted before many times, God has his bearded hooks into the  populace of Croydon as a whole.  You can't move down the main thoroughfare without some folk yelling about Christ or handing out leaflets to his church.  As its Easter this is amplified up to 11.

Nice bits. 
They had a steel band playing hit tunes in the main plaza, and it just made me realize that a steel band version of the Angry birds theme would rock.

Cex had Persona 3 portable for sale at the low low price of £15.  Which we snapped up, its the special edition with art cards, art book and poster.  Game wise for the brief bit we've looked at it seems to be a mix of Persona 3 and its special edition FES for PS2. 
Full differences outlined here.

We picked up some old disco in Scope.  Taffy, and Lime which actually sounds more like american sweets than anything else.  Oh and took a punt on mid 90's house as well.  Hopefully they won't turn out too vile.

Nasty bits.

It was chock full of christians.  Christians handing out cards, Christians preaching, and more strange of all a big group of the fuckers holding a rally.  With placards saying, hell is not a nice place, and one that says Croydon is saved for Jesus (why, the riots killed off the best game shop there, and its full of gangsters and weirdos, Shirley Jesus deserves better). 

A proliferation of Stonewall signs. Every bus I saw seemed to have a sign saying some people are gay get over it.  I'm straight and don't really care so long folk are happy with who they are, its just that everywhere I went in Croydon there was a Get over it sign.


Coming home and waiting for a bus we saw Jesus fall flat on his face.  A church group decided to host their own passion play on a saturday of all days (that well known day of good saturday).  We passed by Christ, dressed in a white shift and holding a wooden cross surrounded by centurions outside Mc Donalds. Later we saw him make his way down by the market and trip and fall flat on his face.
To cap it all we lost our Oyster card (unregistered with a pittance on it) and game card (it has more than the oyster but still not much and now stopped) on the bus back.  A shitty end to a strange day.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

We didn't know that.

This is a brief collection of stuff that we didn't actually know about until quite recently.

1. Damilola Taylor is buried in Plumstead cemetery.

Damilola Taylor was a 10 year old kid who came to this country with his parents to seek a better life in Peckham (oh dear) but ended up losing his life, to a bunch of thugs.  This made national headlines and was extensively covered by the UK media.  Wikipaedia has a better write up of the whole case here

We always assumed that he was buried closer to home either in south London or in his home country of Nigeria.  However my parents like to walk, and  on one of their trips out through the cemetery at the top of our street, they stumbled across his grave.  We haven't confirmed it as such but, would figure as its a pretty big cemetery.

2. The DS has region locking.

OK, short version of this coming up. This is not the original DS or DS lite,  we are talking about the DSi and the DSi  LL/XL whatever you call it.  We picked up Solartorobo spiritual successor of Tail Concerto and amongst all the anti Piracy guff on the back of the packaging we have this. For use with the European region of DSi and DSXL only.

This seems to be only related to downloadable games and games that have DSi content on them, both the original and DS lite are Region free.  Indeed I have a few US games we regularly play and it doesn't affect it at all.  I don't have a DSi with its stupid camera or bigger screen, (indeed the similarly styled 3DS is of course region locked also).  So far we haven't found if there are ways to circumvent this illogical, anti gamer lock out, especially galling as it is coming from a hand held platform, and that with a poor battery life means I won't be getting one soon, unless both are considerably updated.