Saturday, December 31, 2005

Games - Civilization 4

Sid Meier's Civilization - one of the most highly-acclaimed strategy game series in existence. Any serious gamer worth his salt knows about it - whether he plays turn-based strategy games or not. And the fourth installment was eagerly awaited in our home - two out of four brothers were eager to play the latest update.

And Civ4 is in many ways the same game all over again. The basic premise is still there - explore, build cities, research technologies, kick other civivlizations while they're down, race to space, etc. But several other new features have kicked in, many of them adding a new layer of management complexity to the already complex strategy game. Great Persons, National Wonders, cultural expansion, luxury resources...well, I'm not sure if some of these are new since Civ3 - I didn't play that one much. The most important change has to be the streamlining of the interface such that it becomes easy to tell at a glance what a city is building and how long it takes for it to grow.

Anyway, as expected, the game is still incredibly engrossing. I sat down yesterday morning to "just give it a try", and after what seemed like a few short turns found myself contemplating whether to nuke the Arabians in the early 17th century.

So yeah, awesome Civ4 gameplay, as expected. I finished two games in short order, one took me 4 hours because the silly Germans and Spanish kept trying to declare war on me, and I had to be satisfied with a Time Victory. The second took less than two hours - full peace/diplomacy, science/culture all the way, never entered a state of war.

But I'm not playing it again. Why? Because the game's performance is crap-tastic! You can play smoothly found maybe 5-10 minutes before the game starts slowing to a crawl. Going to the lowest possible settings and quitting all running programs doesn't help at all. Apparently I'm not alone, as I've seen numerous message board posts lambasting Firaxis for the terrible performance of the game regardlesss of the system running it.

It's a testament to both the addictiveness of the gameplay and how much patience I've gained recently that I was able to finish two games at all. But as it is, I'm not playing it again until some radical performance improvment happens.

Maybe I can still find a copy of Civ3...

Friday, December 30, 2005

How Would It Feel to Be A Developer-Slave?

As I watched my brother playing the latest incarnation of EA's FIFA game, I can't help but consider that there must be a staff of developers over at EA dedicated solely to the task of churning away to release updates to EA's flagship lines of sports games year after year.

I wonder how fulfilling that kind of job actually is...

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Games - I Give Up On Dragon Quest VIII

Not that it's a bad game mind you. From the ten or so hours I've played it's definitely a lot better than the previous game in the series. And the voice acting is really great this time, with a bunch of British people doing the over-the-top voices. The battle system is still a bit simplistic, and the main quest seems very straightforward. From what I've seen, it's probably an above average game.

That's the problem. I don't have time for above average games. It was okay when I was still in school and had tons of free time, I could afford to waste my time with midcarders like Legend of Legaia or Wild Arms, but these days there are so many things competing for my attention (thanks DSL), and work sched is a lot more tight than school, so I have to be a LOT more selective in my choice of distractions.

And "above-average" just doesn't make the cut anymore.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Moving Things Around A Bit

I was getting a bit bored with the place, so I spruced it up a bit, switched some colors, moved stuff around. You know, just to pretend something's happening. And to showcase my sorely lacking UI design skills. :p Screenshot captured for posterity.

I also cleaned up some of the global files that were being accessed from fateback, since I will eventually drop that host completely. Right now, the external files used by this site are hsoted on my geocities account (which I should also organize/clean up in some way.)

For the curious, this site is maintained in several layers:

  • the blogger template - ideally, I shouldn't have to change this too often

  • an external javascript file - ideally, if I want to do small changes to the site, I'll just modify this and use DHTML to do it

  • an external stylesheet - ideally, if I want to make changes to layout, I just adjust this one

A while back I was also wondering if it was viable to use XSL transformations for a blogger blog...but I'm too lazy to try to figure it out now.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Music - Ultraelectromagnetic Jam

I'm no music critic; often I can't even carry my own tune. But I do know what I like, and I know I like the Eraserheads' music. If you don't know who the 'heads are, they're basically the Beatles of the Philippines, galvanizing the local music industry and serving as an example and inspiration to numerous other bands that followed after them. It's only fitting then that many of the current crop of Filipino performers pay tribute to them in the form of Ultraelectromagnetic Jam. This fantastic album features several artists performing their own versions of some of the Eraserheads best hits, namely:

  • Alapaap by 6-Cycle Mind
  • Alcohol by Radioactive Sago Project
  • Ang Huling El Bimbo by Rico J Puno
  • Hard to Believe by Cueshé
  • Huwag Kang Matakot by Orange and Lemons
  • Huwag Mo Nang Itanong by MYMP
  • Ligaya by Kitchie Nadal
  • Magasin by Paolo Santos
  • Maling Akala by Brownman Revival
  • Overdrive by Barbie Almabis
  • Pare Ko by Sponge Cola
  • Spoliarium by Imago
  • Superproxy by Francis M.
  • Tikman by Sugarfree
  • Torpedo by Isha
  • Para sa Masa by all of them!

I wanted to comment on each track separately, but I'm too lazy :p They're all pretty good, mostly because the originals were great in the first place. Paolo Santos carried Magasin surprisingly well, and Superproxy was just the right track for Francis M. Radioactive Sago's Alcohol is hilarious, and I like the way Orange and Lemons mixed a little bit of Julie Tearjerky and Tikman in Huwag Kang Matakot. I also think I actually like Cueshé's version of Hard To Believe better than the original. My least favorite track on the album is Kitchie Nadal's Ligaya, (cute laugh on the "inaahit" bit notwithstanding) as I really prefer the more upbeat original.

I wish more bands had contributed to the effort though, as the 'heads probably deserve it. According to my brother, the participating artists were all from the same recording studio (I don't really pay attention to studios, so yeah I'll just agree here.) Still, it would've been nice to hear some renditions from 'heads contemporaries like Rivermaya and Parokya ni Edgar.

All in all, awesome album. If you have listened to the Eraserheads music at one time or another, go find a way to get it.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The Left Half of My Mouth is Numb, Thanks

I had three teeth taken out today, all of them deep in the bottom-left part of mouth. One of them was apparently a wisdom tooth that had lodged itself in a peculiar angle. That one required surgery (and was not covered by my health card).

When you're there, even when your mouth is numb, even if you're not really scared or anything, once you start to feel that pressure on your jaw, you can't help but be at least a little bit anxious. It's not so much whatever pain gets through the anesthesia that's annoying. It's the fact that you're mentally anticipating that pain. When you start to feel the dentist pushing and pulling at your tooth, you can't help but worry that somewhere, some resilient little nerve of yours has avoided the anesthesia and is just waiting to send you into a world of pain.

Luckily, not only is my dentist very good, but I'm quite comfortable with her, despite the often corniness of her jokes :p

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Random Java Programs

So, my brother needed to present 20 java programs for school. He didn't have to make them himself, he said. Just to print them out and submit them. (What kind of ridiculous compsci teacher asks for hardcopies of source instead of softcopies?)

Anyway, I said, sure. I'll make some, it'll be easy. After all, trivial programs shouldn't take me more than 5 minutes each right? It was true, each one didn't take long. But I spent quite some time thinking about what I would actually code. The usual suspects are there - Hello World, prime factors, factorial, simple arithmetic, palindromes. It was just harder than I thought making up twenty diverse trivial java programs to write. I'm not a teacher after all :p

Anyway, in case someone in the world finds these examples useful:

Twenty random java programs.

Comics - Batgirl

Cassandra Cain was raised as an assassin. Growing up, her father never taught her to read or write, only to fight. She grew up knowing only one language - body language. Her mind processes human motions as fluently as ordinary people speak their native tongue. She can see moves before they happen or read a person's intentions simply by following their movement patterns. She was an experiment to create the ultimate human fighting machine. At the age of eight, she made her first kill. Then she ran away. She wound up in Gotham, under the tutelage of the Dark Knight. She has become Batgirl.

I read through the current 70 issues over the weekend. It's pretty good. Batgirl almost always faces up against normal people - goons, thugs, mafia and whatnot. She's not metahuman either, but her superior abilities allow her to dodge bullets and kill with her bare hands (Not that she does kill mind you, but she CAN.) The fact that she's illiterate and basically ignorant of how to interact with the rest of society makes the comic all the more interesting and provides a lot of room for her to grow as a character.

The only thing I don't like about trying to follow a single comic series - crossovers. You read an issue, and suddenly there's several other comics you need to read to get the whole picture. I can see why they do it.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Yeah, I'm Not Gonna Make It

(Cross-post from here.)

I think I would've had a good chance to make it if I had started on time though. :(

I'm not gonna stop though, I think I'll finish this novel.

An excerpt:

“I really should organize my stuff more. You’d think someone living alone deep in the woods would have a lot of time to organize, but no, there’s always one thing or another. Squirrels, usually. Silly things keep insisting their friends are nuts! Or the nuts are their friends, something like that; I never was very good at understanding their chitter-chatter, most of it is about nuts anyway. I think they have like two hundred different sounds to represent nuts, did you know that? It’s funny too how they attach the same meaning to the term “nuts” as humans do. How do you suppose they picked that up? I hope it’s not me, I don’t think I have a tendency to say people are nuts. Aha there it is!”

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Are Filipinos the Next American Minority After Blacks?

One of the panels from Marvel's House of M (second issue) made me think so... (Click for bigger view)

I'm not sure whether that's a good thing or a bad thing.

Context: Mutant scientist Hank McCoy and human scientist Henry Pym were discussing the moral issuess surrounding Henry's isolation of the mutant gene.

Stand Tall, Shake The Heavens

Sometimes I can't help but look back on the story so far and wonder where the hell I'm going. I'm in a pretty good place right now I guess, compared to a majority of people in this country. I've got a good job with a more than decent salary that lets me consume the mythical three-square-meals-a-day and pile on a bit of luxury on top of that.

But sometimes you stop and think to yourself, is this all there is to life? Slaving away as some company's employee, getting promotions and raises, then retiring to watch your kids grow up? Don't get me wrong, I love my job and the company I work for is great, very responsive to its employees. And I'm sure retiring and raising kids is a worthy goal for some people. But I highly doubt I'm that sort of person.

I get antsy sometimes, I often tell some people at work that I think of resigning at least once a week. The thing is, I don't really know where to go or what to do if I resigned. All I know is at some point I would like to be doing something else with my life, something other than a regular nine-to-five (well in my case more of eight-to-seven) job, something that leaves a mark on the world. Stand tall and shake the heavens, I always like to say to myself.

My biggest problem right now is fear - fear of burning bridges. There was this awesome article somewhere by this shareware guy about how to start your own indie business (I'll credit him sometime when I remember), and I remember one of the things he said that struck me the most: Don't be afraid to burn bridges.

But I am afraid, and with good reason. Like I said, I've got a good job, it's decent pay and I even enjoy the work a good percentage of the time. And of course, I'm also providing financial support for the rest of the family.

It becomes more frightening when I take into consideration what my passions are. The main ones right now are: gaming and web development. Taken together, it points in one direction: I should work on a web-based game. But the size of this task at this point is too huge for me to imagine, and the risks far too obvious. It would be very hard and it may take years to turn a profit, I would need some considerable financial base before doing this. And I would also need an idea of what game to do...

The second problem is focus. I lack focus. This I've known for a long time. Even if I decide on one course of action, I'm never sure that I would have the will to carry it on until the end. I can have focus and determination in the short term, i.e. a task that takes a week or so I can easily focus on. But the sort of life-changing ambitions I'm considering right now can't be done in a week, and I fear that I will run out of steam half-way through and all will be for naught.

I need to overcome these problems. I need to overcome fear. Well, now that I think about it, it would be far easier to overcome fear if I knew that I had focus and determination. I need to be become stronger than I currently am.

Yay For Default Blogger Templates!

Temporarily shifted to one after someone reported some javascript redirecting to a porn site. Doesn't happen on my machine though. Sheesh, now I have to debug a non-replicable bug on my blog. And I didn't even get any porn :p

Update: Moved now to

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Why Do I Blog?

girl from work (10:19:57 AM): may blog ka ba roy?
zroytang (10:20:18 AM): haha bakit mo natanong?
girl from work (10:21:04 AM): nagbabasa kasi ako ngayon blogs ng high school friends ko e
girl from work (10:21:11 AM): e ikli lang :D
zroytang (10:21:28 AM): I have one with entries dating back to 2002 :p
girl from work (10:21:49 AM): tlga... updated?
zroytang (10:22:01 AM): minsan
girl from work (10:22:24 AM): may icky luv stuff dun? >:)
zroytang (10:23:15 AM): haha maybe, maybe not
girl from work (10:24:46 AM): haha :))
zroytang (10:26:30 AM): sometimes you write something and later, you think, "maybe I shouldn't have written that"; you look back at it later and think "what the hell was I thinking", but you should keep it up anyway, so you remember what it was like at that time :D
girl from work (10:27:23 AM): hehe oks lang yan... alam ko yan... nagligpit lang kami last week dito sa house... and i saw an old journal from 1996 pa :))
zroytang (10:27:50 AM): except yours is not in public for people to find by accident :p
girl from work (10:28:06 AM): hehe yep :p
girl from work (10:28:21 AM): anu isearch ko to find ur blog by accident >:)
zroytang (10:29:00 AM): ask and I will tell you; I have nothing to hide :D tsaka mostly boring stuff lang naman un, kailangan mo isaisahin yung posts to find anything remotely interesting
girl from work (10:29:31 AM): sige... something to read while i wait for breakfast :)
zroytang (10:29:49 AM): 10:30 is not a time for breakfast
girl from work (10:30:20 AM): brunch :D
zroytang (10:30:51 AM): I am thinking if it is a good idea...nobody else at work knows the url, and I am not sure if I have written anything stupid about work haha
girl from work (10:31:14 AM): haha... baka may mga ***** sucks ba :))
zroytang (10:31:23 AM): no, of course not
zroytang (10:31:41 AM): if I give you the url, you must give me something interesting to read in return :D
girl from work (10:31:54 AM): hindi akin na blog pwede? :))
zroytang (10:32:08 AM): mas maganda kung iyo hehe
girl from work (10:32:37 AM): haha... sabi ko nga wag mo na ko bigyan ng url e :))
zroytang (10:33:03 AM): haha bat ayaw mo
girl from work (10:34:02 AM): I am thinking if it is a good idea...nobody else at work knows the url, and I am not sure if I have written anything stupid about work haha
girl from work (10:34:10 AM): familiar ba? :))
zroytang (10:34:47 AM): :p

(Edited to remove the name of my company, and keep the name of the person I'm chatting with anonymous. Not that I have anything to hide, but more because it feels like the right thing to do.)

Sometimes I wonder why I do. When I started keeping a website for myself back in '02, it was more because I wanted to experience having to maintain one, and to sharpen my HTML skills (I'm pretty good at it now I think, although my web design still sucks); When Blogger started becoming prominent, I figured, might as well convert to a blog to take advantage of automatic archiving and stuff, as it was becoming tedious to update a website by hand.

Even now, I'm not sure why I go on, when I'm not even sure if any people read this (I am aware that there are some that probably do, though they usually remain quiet :D) I'm not sure why, but I guess I feel a need to maintain an online "presence" as it were. Part-time therapy, part-time boredom, part-time egotism perhaps?

Why then am I hesitant to let a coworker (who is also a friend) know the url? Like I said, I don't have anything to hide (and I'm pretty sure I haven't said anything stupid about my work, mostly because, hey I like my work!). If I had anything to hide, why blog in public at all? You could always hide behind Livejournal's protected system (they have one of those right?) or use an anonymous name.

I don't have an answer. But if she (or anyone else) asks again, I will give the url. :D

The Bible Promotes Capitalism

At least, that's what I was thinking when I was listening to today's Gospel regarding the parable of the talents.

Bsically, I think the gist of it is: God gives us talents, we should do the best we can; if we don't, how can we complain when others do better?

Yeah, I pay attention in Church. Go me!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

What I'm Worth

Apparently, I am worth $1,758,066 on

Also, I don't why but

My blog is worth $1,693.62.
How much is your blog worth?

I wish someone would send me that cash, I could use it.

Nanowrimo...Why The Hell Not?

I was introduced to nano a few years back when some fanfiction writers I knew online told me about it. I've attempted it every year, and failed each time. I just don't have the drive.

I figured I wouldn't start this year. After all, here I am, it's the ninth of November, and I don't have anything, prepared or otherwise, why fight a losing battle right?

If you think I don't fight losing battles, you don't know me very well. Who knows, I may catch up and might actually make it this time.

And I'll write in public too. I have no title, so bear with it -- roynano.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Games - GameFAQs Top 100 Games (User Picks)

For it's 10-year anniversary, GameFAQs has released the top 100 games as chosen by its' users during their anniversary contest.

To give you an idea of the general composition of the GameFAQs populace, 15 of the top 100 are Squaresoft games (including every single US-released main-series Final Fantasy), 17 are Nintendo games (5 Zelda, 7 Mario, 3 Metroid plus a couple more). Only 11 are PC games, 4 of which are from Blizzard.

And poor Megaman didn't make it into the list. Good old Street Fighter II actually did better, coming in at 47.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Long Weekend (or lack thereof) and Open Source Code

Filipinos traditionally take the weekend of All Saints/All Souls Day off, to rest and to visit their dearly departed. Westerners, particularly Americans, treat this time, specifically All Hallow's Eve, as a children's holiday. Given GMA's penchant for holiday economics, it was evident we would get at least Monday and Tuesday off, and they were indeed declared as holidays, so Filipinos got a respite shortly before the much-dreaded EVAT implementation.

Not me, though. I had to work. Funny how the demo projects always manage to get me during times of extended holidays. I haven't yet had the benefit of a weekend - I spent most of Saturday through Wednesday in the office. Yesterday, I was able to negotiate that I be allowed to take today (Thursday) off; Seeing as how Nov. 4 was also an RP holiday (celebrating the end of Ramadan) and they were asking me to come in anyway, they gladly agreed to swap my holiday.

Anyway, the project I was working on at least proved to be slightly interesting. It was a popular open-source ERP software that we were customizing for the client. Now, I've never delved far into open source code before (although I've wanted do), so I daresay I hope the quality of other open-source code out there is at least better than this one. It may be a popular open-source business package, but the codebase seemed incredibly messy to me, and hard to pickup without having to go through traces and stuff. I don't know, maybe I'm just demanding.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Sunday Work and Naruto Fillers

I have to work today :( And probably tomorrow and the day after as well, although both are local holidays.

On what may very well become one of the company's biggest projects I might add, if we get the contract.

On an unrelated note, these filler Naruto episodes are just silly. It doesn't make sense that Raiga, one of the Seven Shinobi Swordsmen, can be defeated by Naruto and Lee (no matter how drunk Lee is); Raiga is supposedly on par with his former comrade Kisame, who was easily able to take on two of Konoha's jounins. There should be a big gap in power levels.

And what's up with Lee and Naruto pretty much shock-resistant?

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Games - Walk of Game

Voting for the Walk of Game is up.

My votes were: Starcraft, Civilization, Final Fantasy and Street Fighter II. Also Sid Meier and the Pac-man guy.

Edit: After some thought, it's kind of silly to have a poll where you could vote everyday. There's no chance for Pac-man to beat Final Fantasy here, as FF has an army of fanboys willing to vote everyday, and Pac-man...well, a lot of his fans might vote once buy many won't even realize or care that they can vote again.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

SessionSaver Firefox Extension and Page State

A post I made today had a 23-Oct timestamp.

After some investigation, I determined it was because I had left the create post screen open in a firefox tab last 23-Oct, then closed my browser. On my next launch of firefox, the SessionSaver extension automatically reloaded my previous session, but the create post screen still had the 23-Oct date. I had to manually change the date.

Note to self: Refresh the create post screen always.

World of Warcraft - Gorilla press!

(Click the thumbnail for full-size version)

How Can You Tell When You're Sick Enough to Call In Sick?

I'm never really sure.

I woke up this morning with a slight headache, compounding my annoying cough and colds. I'm sure I would have been able to make it to work and put on a whole day's work, albeit probably at a less productive level. But then again, if I rest today, I may be able to put in a 110% productive day tomorrow, whereas not resting might cause me to be unproductive for more than one day.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

I Have A Phone! (Nokia 6020)

After seemingly being the last man in the Philippines without a cellphone for so long, I broke down and bought one a couple of weeks ago. I'd post a picture, but I can't find the digicam, and the phone can't take a picture of itself.

The 6020 itself seems pretty okay, although as a phone newbie I really have not much of a basis for comparison. The camera is nifty, but it took me a while to find a data cable for the phone. And now I can annoy people by SMS! (Not that I do, just that I can.)

I am of course fairly good with technical stuff, but also a newb with regards to phones. Being so, I have had trouble setting up things like MMS/GPRS/Email using the phone. I did have the GPRS up the other day, but then I downloaded some setting using Nokia's service, and I lost it. Oh yeah, I'm on Globe.

Speaking of Globe, is their customer support service really so bad? In this internet day and age, why do I have to call a hotline or go to a Globe store to get help in setting up my phone service settings? Their forums are a mess, their website looks terribly messy, and any setup info I could get from their website doesn't seem to work.

So yeah, I have a phone, and I'm whining already.

Idyllic Sundays

It nevers fails, every week, around 1-2pm on a Sunday. For some unexplainable reason, an overpowering drowsiness steps in, and I must sacrifice 2-3 hours of my time to sleep.

it's not a normal sleep either, it's the kind of sleepm that's very hard to break. You wake up it's 4pm, and think "There's some stuff I have to do," but by 5pm you're still happily sleeping.

Only happens when I'm at home though (which is most Sundays), and not just to me. Every member of the household seems to take a siesta on Sundays.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

On Journalling, or How Hard It Is to Keep Up a Blog

In my line of work, which is to say "large-scale database systems", there's always the idea of "journalling" or the "audit trail." Basically, it means that for every transaction of significance, a record is kept of that transaction, stored in a log somewhere, so that should something malefic happen, the logs can be parsed and the trail can be followed, blame can be assigned and countermeasures can be taken.

Okay, that's not really limited to large-scale database systems. Any nontrivial software system should have some sort of journalling scheme involved, as printlogging is usually part and parcel of the development process.

Ideally, I would wish that life too had a journalling system, one more reliable and less arcane than that gift humans call memory. I sometimes have trouble remembering what I had for breakfast this morning. Okay, that's a lie, I seldom forget about meals less than a week old.

But I do have a tendency to forget other things. Tasks to do, people I've met, appointments I've set. A Saturday or so (I forget when), I had set a training meeting at 10am. Of course, my job does not require me to be in the office before noon on Saturdays, so I conveniently forgot about the meeting while playing World of Warcraft, recalling such appointment only while taking a bath at 10:30am. (Luckily they didn't mide me re-scheding to 11:30)

So, frail as our memories are, we resort to other things to keep us on track. Paper, notebooks, to-do-lists, organizers, calendars, cellphones, PDAs, sticky notes and every so often, the proverbial rubber-band-around-the-finger. (Yes, I have done that, and yes I did forget what the rubber band stood for.)

Blogging, is of course, one of those outlets, one of those forms of introspection so commonplace on the web nowadays. I started quite some time ago, on another server, and have kept up, a bit sporadically if I might add. I've never been entirely too sure of my own reasons for blogging. Some parts ego, some parts experimentation, some parts therapy, perhaps some part exhibitionism? In any case, though I have considered several times to abandon this practice, especially when I have been too lazy to pursue it for months on end, I find myself giving it another go eventually. Because life should have an audit trail.

Shall I offer some excuse of why I have been so long without an entry? Some vague representations of WoW addiction, business at work or general laziness? I just did.

In any case, our story continues...

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Final Fantasy VII - Advent Children

A friend of mine said, "It's for die-hard fans only."

He's right. Luckily, there are roughly seventy trillion die-hard FF7 fans. And I doubt they will be disappointed.

Advent Children is a DVD-movie about the events that happen two years after the events of the game. Some of the story-related parts might get you a bit sleepy, especially if you weren't particularly fond of the whole Reunion/Jenova/planet thing from Final Fantasy VII, but that's okay because...

...the actions scenes are flat-out spectacular! Seriously, the fight scenes from the trailer were incredibly cool, but the ones that you see in the movie itself, wow. It's a good thing Square is really good at CGI, there's no way those scenes could have been done with live action.

Speaking of CGI, the quality of their work has definitely improved since Spirits Within. (Red XIII could use some work though.) I wish Spirits Within had had this level of awesomeness, but Advent Children has the advantage of a whole game of backstory with which the audience is already assumed to be familiar.

And for those skeptics who question how Cloud could possibly swing around that big-ass sword of his, better not watch this one as Cloud now fights with a big-ass sword in each hand!

If you are an FF7 fan of any sort, watch it. There are torrents all around, with subtitles.


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Books - Neverwhere

I've never really read much Neil Gaiman before -- I'm not a particular fan of the Sandman series, for which he is most known. But I know some people who are big fans, so I respect his work at least. Neverwhere is only the second Gaiman book I've read (well, third maybe, I think I read that thing he co-wrote about the apocalypse), and I'm pretty much satisfied so far.

Neil Gaiman does fantasy. Not medieval fantasy or sci-fi or anything like that, but fantasy in modern-day settings. Neverwhere takes place in London, a place with which the author seems intimately familiar. Except that his fictional London is divided into two cities - London Above, which is the normal everyday London, and London Below, a temming network of underground locations where people fall through cracks and disappear. Something like that.

Our protagonist is an ordinary guy, who meets a resident of London Below, and is thereupon plunged into it's mad, mystical world, where the familiar laws of reality seldom seem to apply. The plot is nothing extraordinary, one you may have read in some form or other: Our intrepid hero meets an interesting cast of unlikely allies and they band together on a quest, ultimately saving the universe. Something like that. It's Gaiman's writing that stands out though; his flowery prose and florid descriptions brings the fantasy world of London Below to life, presenting a striking contrast to the protagonist's boring life in London Above.

All in all, a good read. Nothing extraordinarily deep, but enough to make me interested in reading more Gaiman.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Manny Pacquiao

I saw an interview with Manny Pacquiao on Rated K, apparently after his celebrated win last Sunday. Korina referred to him as a millionaire because of his share from the match, but Manny said he's going to be giving a lot of it away. People told him to donate to Katrina, but he says there are also a lot of needy people in his own country so he's giving to them first. He's giving away food and stuff to poor people in his hometown.

Man, that guy's got heart. No wonder he's a local hero.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Looking for a phone and finding bad webapps

Sorry about the title. I couldn't find any succinct way to put it.

Anyway, yeah. I'm supposed to be trying to get a phone. People have been harassing me for years about the fact that I don't have a phone. Since my vacation is already half-wasted already, I figure I'd go online and get some info on what phone I'd buy.

Now, bear with me a bit, I'm really stupid when it comes to phones, since I've practically never owned one. If there's any better way or better place to look for the info than the way I describe here, tell me about it. :D

First, to find out what are the available phones and their features, I check the website of one of the major providers to see what handsets they list, since supposedly this tells me what models are available locally. FYI, I chose to use Smart's website

Now, this helps me find phones which have features I like. But the Smart website only gives me prices offered by Smart when the phone is tied to one of their plans. Let's assume I want a bit more flexibility and don't want to be tied to the plan. I have no idea where to check the prices though, so I hit two auction sites instead: ebili and bidshot, so I can get some idea what people are willing to pay for these models.

Easy enough right? Check the features, cross-check the prices, choose a phone. Some notes on these websites:

Smart: Why the hell is the list of phones not sorted in any logical order? None that I can see anyway. When I see a cheap, er, reasonably-priced phone on the auction sites, I want to check the features of that phone on the Smart website but it takes me a while to find it. Some sort of search feature would have been nice. (Or maybe there is one and I missed it?)

Ebili/Bidshot: Why the hell is the search result list not sortable in any way? If you have a grid of search results, I don't see how difficult it is to implement sortable columns; every single webapp I've worked on has this feature! I was almost tempted to send them an email offering my services as a freelancer to implement reasonable searching features such as sorting and filtering. These are NOT difficult things to implement, I don't know why we don't see them in all websites; I can understand the performance concern if you're potentially returning millions of hits (i.e. Google), but these searches have hits ranging in dozens, sorting performance hit should be minimal.

That is all, just wanted to rant. And no, I have not chosen a phone yet.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Games - World of Warcraft

It may very well have been a mistake. Buying and installing World of Warcraft on the first day of my leave, that is. Now I spend some 3-4 hours daily on the addictive beast. It's hard to stop!

In case you haven't heard, World of Warcraft is Blizzard's MMORPG take on it's famous RTS series, and it's one helluva good game. It looks excellent, the gameplay is terrific, people don't seem to be assholes, etc. The only real downside is that it's hard to stop playing!

Blizzard seems to have hit the sweet spot of the mythical RPG spiral: you always have that urge to go for one more creep, one more quest, one more level, and it repeats ad infinitum.

It's very hard to get bored with the game, especially if you're a true-blue follower of the Warcraft series. You get to immerse yourself in famous locations and meet characters and heroes from the RTS games. You get to do quests, literally dozens of quests throwing themselves on you. You get to customize your character. You get to wander off to gather obscure ingredients. You get to interact with other players, challenge them, fight alongside them, raid whole cities with them.

I've tried a few other MMOs before, and none really struck me so hard as WoW...other games get you hopelessly stuck in the levelling "grind", but WoW throws so much stuff to do at you that it's very easy to forget about that level bar.

I recommend the game to any serious gamer, even to those who primarily like single-player RPGs. Because honestly, you can play WoW just like a single-player RPG with a vast multitude of quests (except that you occasionally get some other characters helping you out randomly). I'll play again in a short while :p

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

One of the things I've been wanting to do during this hiatus was to watch more movies -- we've got a ton of DVDs downstairs I haven't seen yet. Since I had just finished the fifth book of Stephen King's western fantasy, I started this task with Sergio Leone's western opus, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

I haven't watched many westerns before. This is probably the first one I completed. And you know what it reminds me of? Dragonball. Ages of staring at each other, hands hovering over your guns, ending in two seconds of gunfire. I know they're a lot more speak-y in Dragonball, but it gave me the same feeling...the anticipative build-up and the big, explosive finish.

God, that was a long movie. I think it clocked in at 2:45 or so. It was mistake to watch this movie in late afternoon, as I started getting drowsy towards the end.

I've never seen Clint Eastwood this young before! But he reminds me of how I usually visualize Roland of Gilead. And the impossibly good shooting in the movie seems characteristic of Roland's gunslingers as well.

Good movie, though longish.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Books: Dark Tower V - Wolves of the Calla

"There will be water if ka wills it." - Roland of Gilead

I had a Powerbooks gift certificate the other week, and the Powerbooks at Megamall happened to have a sale, so I took a look around. And lo, I was lucky enough to find a copy of the fifth book of Stephen King's epic western fantasy, The Dark Tower. It was a huge book, larger than my copies of the first four, but with the same cover style and by the same publisher, so it was the copy I wanted. I spent less than a hundred pesos on it.

And so it was that I once again journeyed into the world/s of the Dark Tower, following the path of Roland of Gilead and his ka-tet of gunslingers along the path of the Beam, heading inexporably towards the Dark Tower.

The Dark Tower series has always been a weird sort of hybrid. Primarily a western, set in a fantasy multiverse which intersects with multiple versions of our own reality, Roland and his posse find themselves facing robots, bears, wizards, psychotic trains, undead and such. This time they face "Wolves", an unknown new enemy who plague a farming community along the path of the Beam. Like any good RPG-party, the gunslingers decide to offer aid to the people of the Calla, though not all would accept their help. In exchange, they are granted the power to travel back to New York, the nexus of all New Yorks, where they must protect the Rose, an incarnation or manifestation of the Dark Tower.

The one thing I did not like about this copy: It had illustrations. Normally, that would be a good thing, but I find I did not really want to know what Roland of Gilead looked like, even to another person, as it spoiled my own vision of what the book tells me. That's how good the series is -- it's the type of series where you form your own version of it in your head and you are completely drawn into its saga.

As always, the book is dark and compelling. Despite the hectic work schedule last week, I finish the thick book in less than four days, and the volume ends in cliffhanger, as the ka-tet is broken. Two more books to go before the end of their quest; I can only hope the last two come out in my preferred format soon.

The A-Team!

My hiatus involves quite a bit of TV of course, especially since I get some idle time while waiting for installations/formatting/downloads to finish. Today, for the first time in maybe twenty years, I saw an exciting action-packed episode of the A-Team!

For those not in the know, the A-Team was a bunch of rogue ex-commandos who usually acted as mercs, fighting for good, beating bad guys and saving the day. In the parlance of Roland of Gilead, gunslingers.

The A-Team TV series was most famous for having as one of its cast the now-popular-on-the-internet tough-talking, fool-pitying Mr. T. I also particularly like the antics of their resident screwball flyball, "Crazy Man" Murdock.

I remember that Marvel even had an A-Team comic book out when I was a kid; I had an issue or two. I'm tempted to go out and look for copies of those now. :D

It was a good episode too, but ended with a cliffhanger. It's a good thing I'm free to watch the next episode tomorrow. :D

Total Hard Drive Space: Tripled!

Bought a brand-spankin' new 160GB hard drive yesterday. Seagate Barracuda 7200. Yessir, ups the total hard drive capacity at home to 240 gigs, I hope we don't fill it up too fast.

Moved the 40GB hard drive on the primary computer to the secondary (for a total of 80 on the secondary), and installed the new one on the primary. My brother Alvin was working with me on this, and it took us a better part of three hours to get the connection right (one of the casings wasn't very agreeable)

Installed a fresh XP on the primary, that took a while. Almost immediately after setting up the network/internet the first time, got smacked by a couple of trojans and a virus, seemed to have lost some important system files as everything went wonky. Lesson learned, I reinstalled XP clean and this time, I installed my free antivirus package of choice before starting the internet connection.

I learned something new today. It seems the OS has some sort of limit on the partition size? It wouldn't let me install it as a single 160Gb partition, so I had to settle for a 128 gig main partition and a 21 gig secondary (the unfortunately uneven division due to my not knowing how to handle the situation correctly during the initial install). Ten gigabytes lost, bummer.

Everything seems fine now. Took me most of the night (up to 2AM) to transfer the files from the old hard drive (across the network cable). On hindsight, next time I should try to see if some disk-imaging utility would be better.

Notes for next time:

  • Make sure all the installers are handy before starting. We were pretty lucky this time. :D

  • Apparently, the order in which the hard drives are connected on the IDE cable does matter

  • Divide the partitions neatly

  • Install antivirus before opening internet connection.

  • See if a disk-imaging utility can be used to transfer the files/OS/settings

That is all.

Two Weeks 'a Freedom

Freedom from work at least. I've been meaning to take a two-week leave since late last year, but never found a chance. Now is the perfect time, just before I jump full-swing into the next large project (which may or may not be confidential in nature)

So, no thinking about work for two weeks, unless they call me in for an emergency :(

What stuff do I have planned? I'm not skipping town or anything. As I keep telling people, if I plan it, it's not free time! But I do have some stuff I want to get around to, I'll let you in if anything's interesting :p

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Google Talk

As you may have heard, Google Talk is up. The client looks neat and all, but there's not much reason for most people to start using it. Sure, the voice chat thing is neat, but I know that Yahoo Messenger supports it, and probably some of the others do? Otherwise, the client seems awfully thin. Simple, like Google, but it needs to be a lot more than that to make a difference.

Interesting thing about the service itself is, it's actually seems to be just a server running the open source jabber protocol. Since it's jabber, you can have more than one client on without knocking the other offline. (Am running both google client and GAIM right now) This means, if you leave your PC on at home all day for some reason, at work you can still log in to Google Talk without knocking the home login off the server.

Sunday, August 14, 2005


I'm thinking of getting some webhosting. Not that I'm unsatisfied with my free webhosting and Blogger mind you, but sometimes I just get the urge to do some server-side chicanery.


  • PHP/mySQL

  • Good service, tech support, fast response time

  • No-hassle payments (which means I prefer local, I don't want to have to pay through credit cards or anything)

  • Of course, a good deal on space, bandwidth, reliability, etc.


  • Tomcat/JSP

Not ploghost though. :(

Pop Ratio

I've known of Markku Seguerra's rebelpixel website for a while, having enjoyed his constant stream of OPM-friendly lyrics section.

Today, I came upon his blog post about his band with some Pisay 96 batchmates. Their band is Pop Ratio, and he's made available some original tracks and also some covers on his website. They're pretty okay, you might want to listen to a few.

I know some of my own batchmates are active in bands, I wonder if I can get any (free) samples of their music?

A hundred pirated games

My brother estimates we have at least a hundred pirated copies of PS2 games. (Please don't lecture me in any way on piracy, I've said my piece before.)

In any case, we have spent at least ten thousand pesos (roughly two hundred american) on pirated PS2 games. And out of those hundred copies, some games we have two or three copies of (due to the problems generally associated with illegal copies); Out of all those pirated games, I'd make a conservative estimate that at least 20 games were actually playably good. We got good playing time out of them, and it was a good experience overall. So the effective cost per good game comes out to around five hundred pesos (roughly ten american dollars). This number is important, because this magic number is the price at which it becomes worthwhile for us to buy an original game.

When I make a game, I will price it in this range.

HTML/CSS Trickery

The whole web developer thing was boring me for a while. But last week I got to help on some preliminary webpage design for one of the projects, so my interest in HTML/CSS/Javascript is a bit tweaked. (Hence the slightly updated stylesheet -- try changing font sizes now.)

Anyway, here's some HTML/CSS trickery. I'll add stuff here as I try them out.

If you're using IE, you wouldn't appreciate it much.

I'm Back. And I'm 27.

Yeah, so there.

It was an impromptu hiatus anyway. Unplanned and whatever. Work has been hell lately. Not a tedious kind of hell though. Just the sort that sucks up a lot of time. I spent more than 15 hours in the office on my birthday.

Twenty-seven huh? I wish I had more to say, but birthdays seem to matter less and less as I get older. I'm in a good place right now, but I'm still not where I ultimately want to be. I have a long road ahead of me.

Maybe someday I'll get around to it.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Linux is shareware?

Or so the paper says.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer had an article today about Oracle targetting local SMEs. Apparently they have an advantage because they use "the Linux shareware."

Too bad I can't find the article online.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Gloriagate - Now is not the time

I remember the atmosphere at UP around the time of the infamous second evelope at Erap's trial. Even the normally apathetic Engineering students were being woken out of their political stupor by outrage at the turn of events by the Estrada-friendly senators. Everywhere you go in UP, people would be asking you if you were coming to the big rally on EDSA.

Today? Today, the conversations are like this:
"Mag-gimik dapat kami bukas sa Makati eh..."
"May rally daw bukas ah?"
"Oo nga, bad trip nga eh"

That's the biggest problem facing the power-hungry vultures looking for a quick way to oust Gloria. Right now, people just don't care. At least not the people that matter, not the average middle-class joe too busy earning a living, yet not poor enough to be part of a hakot crowd. The current crisis has apparently not yet reached it's breaking point, despite the calls from different sectors for Gloria's head.

Why not impeachment, which is a legal avenue made available by the 1986 constitution specifically for such situations? The opposition argues that it is an administration trap, that her allies would merely squelch the investigation. This is madness. The administration would not dare do such a thing, as they know full well the trigger of Erap's downfall was the second envelope fiasco, and any similar attempt at whitewash would be too much of a risk. One of the reasons why not many people aren't too enthusiastic about extraconstitutional methods - they haven't even tried the legal remedies yet. When those remedies fail, then maybe, just maybe, people might start caring about it.

You want to read more opinions? Try my brother Alvin. Or maybe his friend Rey, who seems to be a rather angry young man, yet somehow still comes off as more rational than some of the other participants in this debacle whoa re at least 30 years his senior.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Hipster PDA?

Should I get a Hipster PDA? I'm thinking about it. Or something similar.

Not really for organizing tasks and stuff. Only for jotting down temporary things when away from a computer. So I can remember them later. I often think up incredibly clever world-shaking ideas while commuting, it would be nice to remember all of them.

I still largely prefer the advantages of electronic storage: cut/paste functionality, easy to make backups/copies, distribution, easily searchable etc. I'd really only use paper for temporary stuff. Or when I need to use a pen to think.

A notepad would be nice. You know, like the ones reporters used to carry around.

Movies: Fantastic Four

One word: Suxxor.

Well, not really. It's okay I guess. When I first heard they were making a Fantastic Four movie, my first reaction was, "Uh...that can't be good."

The plot is barely servicable...the thing that really made me think "suxxor" was how Victor von Doom's role was handled. I mean, in the comics, Doom was a monarch, ruler of Latveria. He wasn't a madman bent on revenge. He was a madman bent on world domination!

In the comics, Dr. Doom is like a machiavellian villain, craving for power, but never exposing himself directly to harm. He'd always get his minions to do dirty work for him, and just when the Fantastic Four thought they had him -- damn, it was a Doombot all along! Curse you, Doom, you got away again! In the movie, Dr. Doom is like, "Holy crap, I'm bankrupt and Richards stole my girlfriend! I'll use these newly-acquired non-canon cosmic powers to kick his ass! And maybe get into a punching contest with the Thing, or see if I survive a supernova."

Another thing, the FF hardly do anything "heroic" here. The only time they really do a public service (the scene at the bridge) would have been avoided if the Thing wasn't who he was. Yet, despite this, the people of New York (hm...was it New York? Well, the Baxter Building was there, so...) easily accept them as heroes. This is ridiculous. Movie Spiderman did a whole lot of good deeds, but he received also a whole lot of crap before people started to realize he was a hero. And he's just wearing a mask. What makes people think the people would so easily accept someone like the Thing?

The Thing is of course, the most tragic member of the FF, and a good part of the movie focuses on the problems caused by his transformation and his desire to find a cure. To compensate, he gets all the funny scenes, such as they are. There's one that reminds me an old Simpsons joke: "Your fingers are too fat for this phone..."

The best thing about this movie? The Fantastic Four are represented quite accurately.
(Edit 11-Jul-2005: Actually, the best parts were those involving the Thing and thr Torch. Reed was pretty much what I expected, but Sue's character was quite weak, and at some points Jessica Alba seemed uncomfortable with it. It can't be helped though, as before Franklin was born, Sue Storm-Richards had the weakest character development in the comics, and her lacking role in the movie simply reflects that.)

The worst thing about this movie? Doctor Doom and the people of New York are not.

The best line in the movie?

"It's clobbering time."

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Gloriagate - Notes on the PCIJ Transcript

I was going to ahead and break my blog silence on the whole Gloriagate thing, but I realized I should read the whole transcript at PCIJ first, boring as it is. That way, I can at least say I'm basing my opinions on known facts unlike roughly 90% of the rest of the particpants in this debacle.

I went through it in about thrity minutes, skimming most and picking out only the parts that seemed most interesting, and skipping anything that was too vague or that I didn't strictly understand the mechanics of.

The primary question about this transcript is of course, did Gloria conspire with Garcillano to cheat? Regarding this, we can only focus on those conversations which imply the President speaking directly to the man on the other end of the phone. With this in mind, I present the following excerpts:

Conversation between man and a woman on 29 09:43 hotel 2004
GMA: Hello...
Gary: Hello, ma’am, good morning. Ok ma’am, mas mataas ho siya pero mag-compensate po sa
Lanao yan.
GMA: So I will still lead by more than one M., overall?
Gary: More or less, it’s the advantage ma’am. Parang ganun din ang lalabas.
GMA: It cannot be less than one M.?
Gary: Pipilitin ma’am natin yan. Pero as of the other day, 982.
GMA: Kaya nga eh...
Gary: And then if we can get more in Lanao..
GMA: Hindi pa ba tapos?
Gary: Hindi pa ho, meron pa hong darating na seven municipalities.
GMA: Ah ok, ok.

The damning words in this excerpt come from the man named Gary: "Pipilitin ma'am natin yan." (Liberal translation: We will try to make it happen) It implies that Gary was telling GMA that he would do something to manipulate the results to create a 1 million margin of votes. The observant reader should note that (a) GMA did not ask the man Gary to do anything. However, Gary implied doing something illegal which she should have spoken against; and (b) Any manipulation at this point does not seem aimed at stealing a victory, but rather making the victory appear to be a decisive victory

Conversation between Gary and an unidentified woman believed to be PGMA on 02 22:29 hotel June
Gary: Hello, ma’am. Good evening.
GMA: Hello, dun sa Lanao del Sur at Basilan, di raw nagmamatch ang SOV sa COC.
Gary: Ang sinasabi nya, nawawala na naman ho?
GMA: Hindi na nag-match.
Gary: Hindi na nag-mamatch? May posibilidad na hindi magmatch kung hindi nila sinunod yung individual SOV ng mga munisipyo. Pero aywan ko lang ho kung sa atin pabor o hindi. Dun naman sa Basilan at Lanao Sur, ito ho yung ginawa nilang magpataas sa inyo, maayos naman ang paggawa eh.
GMA: So nag-mamatch?
Gary: Oho, sa Basilan, alam nyo naman ang mga military dun eh, hindi masyadong marunong kasi silang gumawa eh. Katulad ho dun sa Sulu, sa General Habatan. Pero hindi naman ho, kinausap ko na yung Chairman ng Board sa Sulu, ang akin, patataguin ko muna ang EO ng Pagundaran na para hindi sila maka-testigo ho. Na-explain na ho yung sa Camarines Norte. Tomorrow we will present official communication dun po sa Senate. Dun ho sa sinasabing wala hong laman yung ballot box. Na-receive
ho nila lahat eh.
GMA: Oo, oo.
Gary: Tumawag ho kayo kanina ma’am?
GMA: Yeah, about that Lanao del Sur at Basilan.
Gary: Iaano ko na lang ho, nagusap na kami ni Abdullah dun sa kwan kanina. About this, iaano ko ho, wag ho kayong masyadong mabahala. Anyway, we will take care of this. Kakausapin ko rin si Atty.

Again, the damning words come from the man named Gary: "Dun naman sa Basilan at Lanao Sur, ito ho yung ginawa nilang magpataas sa inyo, maayos naman ang paggawa eh." (Literal-and-not-too-gramatically-correct translation: In Basilan and Lanao Sur, the increases they did for you, they were done well.)

These two excerpts are the most important because, as far as I can tell, these are the only ones that imply the President's direct knowledge of cheating done on her behalf. If they avoid, can get rid of, explain away or otherwise cancel out these two excerpts, GMA can easily avoid culpability from the rest of the transcript. For all we know, there could be some wacky explanation that has a small probability of being true. ("One million votes? No, we were talking about one million man-minutes spent counting the ballots!" -- Okay, so I'm not very creative right now. Submit your own wacky explanation!)

Is she guilty of electoral fraud? Maybe. This tape at best constitutes what I believe to be called prima facie evidence. As we all should know by now however, wiretapped conversations are not admissible in any court of law in the Philippines. Not even in an impeachment trial, which is not really a court of law.

Some other notes on the tape:

  • There are two other known entities on the tape who can be convicted of electoral fraud. One is of course, the man known as Gary. The other is Robert Barbers. These are the most important people that need to come out and speak their side.

  • The man named Gary is obviously Comelec Commissioner Garcilliano, as he is explicitly named several times.

  • The phone being tapped was obviously Garcilliano's, as his side is the participant in all conversations.

That's all on this matter for now. I will raise more of my own opinions in a later post.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Radio is so Primitive

Radio is so primitive. You can't skip songs, you can't get to listen to a single track repeatedly, you can't jump to random tracks, you can't listen to only artists that have songs about Superman. Listening to random music some random guy thinks you will like, with no guarantee of whether he actually knows your taste or not. Granted, you can increase that likelihood by listening to the right station, but unless we had one station for every person, it's impossible for the radio station to fully satisfy your tastes.

Radio is great for two things: news and background filler. And even both these functions can be better fulfilled by other stuff. Why would you bring a radio to work if you had mp3s available? Even if you wanted to pick up new music, the only ones you'll hear on the radio are the popular ones which you'll likely hear from other people anyway. Radio is even more useless in the face of the internet, since even the news function is overshadowed. And there are a lot more online radio stations to choose from than "physical" radio stations.

Someday, people from the future will laugh at our primitive ways of turning on a machine and hoping it plays what we want and hoping the ads and the silly DJ don't spoil it too much.

TV is slightly better, since TV programming is supposedly scheduled. But TV's predictability makes it unsuitable for the function of background filler. TV remotes should come with a "random station" button. Or you could set a timer that causes the TV to jump to a random station every 30 minutes, or even every minute if you're insane.

My brother Brian gets credit for the "random station button" idea. Everything should have the ability to be random.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Movies: Batman Begins

Awesome. Definitely better than the all the other Batman movies. This movie is no kids' movie either. The movie is less about Batman's crimefighting adventures and more about Bruce Wayne's journey from being a angry, confused rich orphan to the billionaire playboy/costumed vigilante popularized by the earlier films.

The movie captures the essence of Batman's character perfectly. It's all about fear -- Bruce overcoming his fear of bats and eventually turning that fear into a symbol to strike terror into the hearts of criminals. The Batman here is nowhere near Joel Schumacher's colorful crusader, or Adam West's *Biff*Pow*Sock* type of action. This Batman is a true dark knight, striking from the shadows, unseen, terrifying. I can just imagine the rumors rippling through the underworld during the movie: the Batman is a terrifying monster; he can fly; he can command bats; he is darkness incarnate.

The two villains that appear in the movie - Ra's Al Ghul and Scarecrow - complement the general fear and deception theme of the movie. Jim Gordon's character is great, although it's a bit weird for me to see Gary Oldman in the role. As for Katie Holmes, well, her character didn't seem to have an important enough role from my point of view. Michael Kaine is a worthy Alfred Pennyworth, and this Alfred seems a bit more smartass than those that appeared in the earlier movies.

All in all, worth the watch. The tantalizing hint at the end of the movie suggests a sequel, but the question is, who will play the Joker?

Also, we watched in the new cinemas at SM North. Nice, everything seems a lot roomier and the seats were comfy. I didn't get to see what the comfort rooms were like as the movie had me glued to my seat.

Friday, June 17, 2005


Some comments on the Yahoo webapps.

  • The next/previous links on top of Yahoo mail messages are confusing. I'm not sure if they take me up or down the mail-list. Gmail is better, since it explicitly says "older" and "newer"; With Yahoo, I'm always wrong when I guess. After some experimenting, I figure it out. "Next" and "Previous" are based on the sort order in the list of messages. Since the default is sorted by date descending (newest first), "Next" corresponds to Yahoo's "older" by default. Which is kind of hard to figure intuitively.

  • In the grid that lists mail messages, I wanted to test if the columns would wrap any words that were too long. Multiple observations here:

    • As part of this experiment, I wanted to create an email address with a very long name. Apparently, the Yahoo ID "abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz012345" was already taken. I settled on "". You can send the account mail if you like.

    • There's a UI bug in the password verification screen if the Yahoo ID is too long. The gray box on the left has its right border broken.

    • Bummer. I didn't realize the value in the sender column was the name in the Yahoo profile instead of the actual email address. I update the account name to
      "AllTheThingsSheKeepsInsideAreTheThingsThatReallyMatterTheFacePutsOnItsBestDisguiseAndAllIsWellUntilT heHeartBetraysLordBringOutTheLightWrapItAllAroundMeLetItHoldMeTightSoakUpAllThatIBleedLordBringOutTh eLightWrapItAllAroundMeLetItHoldMeTightSoakUpAllThatIBleedIBleedWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWX",
      which breaks even more layouts, including this one (mental note: fix that tomorrow).

    • Doh! I actually had to change the Outgoing name, which was set to the original account name. Why doesn't it update the mail setting when I change the (global) Yahoo account setting? Updated it to "AllTheThingsSheKeepsInsideAreT"

    • I sent some mail messages with the long name and a long subject line. As I suspected...Yahoo compensates for the unwrappable words by expanding the grid cell, breaking the layout. This was a problem I encountered before in the webapps at workand I still don't have a solution that would work in all browsers.

  • I'm also interested in how popular webapps handle timestamping, so I try this out as well. For the uninformed, timestamping means handling the case where two people both try to edit the same record at roughly the same time. If there's no handling, the person who updates first usually has his changes lost, without any notification.

    • I try it out first with Yahoo Address Book and Notepad. Both experiments fail...there's no timestamping. I tested it by opening a record (Address Book entry/Notepad note) for updating in two separate Firefox tabs. I update one tab and save, then update the second tab and save. Changes made in the first tab are lost.

    • Well, I guess that's okay, since technically, only one person at a time is expected to access these webapps. So I do something else. I create a Yahoo Group. I get two moderators, me and a dummy email account. I login with both accounts, using Firefox for one and IE for the other. I try to update the group description with one account, then the other. Bam! First guy's changes are lost, without notification! If this were some sort of mission-critical webapp, that would be a dangerous bug.

I'm sleepy. More later.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Music Quiz

I'm bored.

What do the following have in common?

- Three Doors Down
- Five For Fighting
- Spin Doctors
- Rey Valera

Easy enough.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The Sort of Conversations I Have At Work

[18:06]<friend> anong ibig sabihin ng <okularnik>?
[18:06]<friend> alam mo?
[18:12]<friend> sabi lang ng shoti mo
[18:12]<Roy> naku
[18:13]<Roy> lagot ka
[18:13]<friend> bakit?
[18:13]<Roy> salitang bicol yun
[18:13]<Roy> ibig sabihin habambuhay na kayong magka-away
[18:13]<friend> anong ibig sabihin nun?
[18:13]<Roy> iwasan mo na lang na sabayan sya sa hallway
[18:13]<Roy> delikado

Bitty Browser

Bitty Browser

Holy crap, that's cool.

...but this one doesn't seem to work on Firefox though, all I get are Google ads? Am I doing something wrong?

Let's try the launch link:

Hey both work now! :D

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Politics - Alleged Destabliziation Tape

Download recordings of alleged destabilization tape -

Transcript at PCIJ blog

I don't do much politics, but for those out of the loop, the government has recently released some tapes of conversations allegedly edited to make it look like the President has been participating in electoral fraud.

I'm actually more interested in the tech part of this - these are supposedly mobile phone taps, so I guess they should have come from the mobile service provider?

I remember reading in a Hardy Boys volume way back when I was a kid, how each person's voice signature was unique, such that we would have machines that could verify if a certain person did indeed say a given speech recording. Is this still true today, with the advent of digital audio editing? Would people who edit conversations be able to create fake voices that accurately mimic the voiceprint of other people?

Should there be a way to check if the recordings really have been altered? I don't know if the mobile service providers routinely keep logs of phone calls...but if they do, it should be easy enough to check the recordings against any originals logged by the phone company. Although I guess it would be optimistic to assume that even if they did keep recordings, they would be able keep all their tapes since June of last year. That would consume an awful lot of space.

I guess that means this is really a wiretap. Of course, it's hard to imagine how the term applies since mobile phones don't have wires. I'm not really aware how one "taps" wireless technology. Does it involve some sort of interception of the communications? I would think such communications would be encrypted such that only the authorized recipients would be able to recieve and decrypt them. But maybe that's too much to expect...

Monday, May 30, 2005

Confessions, Part I

When I'm alone in the elevator, I make kung-fu stances against the mirrors on the walls.

Unless of course I have an umbrella, in which case I do lightsaber stances.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Movies: Transformers the Movie

I should've thought of this as soon as I got DSL: I went ahead and downloaded Transformers the Movie.

Transformers was of course, the epitome of my youth. Unlike most other guy kids, I preferred the Transformers to G.I. Joe. I guess I preferred high-tech fantasy over soliders back then, with the war of the heroic Autobots and the Evil Decepticons appealing more to my young mind than soldiers trying to fight terrorists. I watched the show, I read the comics (the first comic series I really collected), I had a lunch box, and I even bought and ate the unhealthy cheap knock-off Transformers-branded chips they sold near the St. Joseph parish.

Transformers: the Movie was the pinnacle of my childhood experience with the Transformers cartoon, since the seasons following the movie were never broadcast on Philippine TV. I watched it yesterday, hoping I would still find the old charm which enthralled me as a child.

I was not disappointed. Well, not much anyway. As an adult I've grown more critical of things in general, quick to spot and point out minute flaws. Some notes:

The year is 2005 in Transformers the Movie, some 19 years after the movie's actual release. At least they didn't predict flying cars like Back to the Future, but how come we don't yet have cars that look like Hot Rod? The "futuristic" look of the six new Autobots introduced in the movie (Ultra Magnus, Hot Rod, Kup, Blurr, Springer and Arcee) give you an indication of how the people of 80s perceived future transportation.

Apparently, Transformers can use lightsabers, er...Laser Swords! Megatron pulls one out during his fatal battle with Optimus Prime, and later in the movie one of the Autobots does too. (I think it was Hot Rod, I forget.)

Amazingly, while the Autobots and Decepticons never actually hit each other with their weapons in the TV series, their appearance in a movie suddenly made Starscream's use of the Megatron-gun a lot more efficient, accurate and lethal. Ironhide, Prowl, Brawn and Ratchet go down with a single shot each in the first few minutes of the movie. More Autobots died in the first twenty minutes than in the entire run of the series prior to the movie.

This wouldn't be much of a problem if the Autobots actually had the same numbers they had in the series. It's a well-known fact that the Autobots greatly outnumbered the Decepticons almost all the time, since there are far more types of cars than there are jets and guns and other stuff. But in the movie, there are apprently less than twenty Autobots still in active service. What happened to the rest? We're limited to Optimus Prime, the more popular first-batch Autobots, the Dinobots and the new guys. The Decepticons get a slightly better deal. They get both the first and second batch of jets, the Constructicons, Insecticons, and even the triple-changers Blitzwing and Astrotrain. Also, I think Blaster's cassette-bots make their first cartoon appearance here. Conspiciously absent are the second set of 'combiner' teams...the Protectobots, Aerialbots, Combaticons and Stunticons. Some of the fights might have gone better had the Autobots thought to bring around Omega Supreme or Skyfire.

The Dinobots are apparently stupider than I remember. I guess my memories preferred the comic-book Dinobots, where Grimlock actually managed to become Autobot leader. Here Blurr has trouble convincing them to board a ship.

It's too bad the Autobots didn't think of bringing Optimus Prime to the planet of junk, where apprently an Autobot can still live after being blown into some twenty-thousand pieces.

The Ultra Magnus character was created solely to have someone fail to be a leader.

Strangely enough, when the Autobots crash through Unicron's eye, we don't see any sort of optic sensors on the other side.

The rest of the movie went pretty much as I remembered it. With a lot of forgettable 80s-style music running in the background. Amazingly, at the end, Rodimus Prime declares an end to the Cybertronian wars, and a new era of peace. I don't recall any peace being negotiated with the Decepticons, who looked like they outnumbered the Autobots fifteen-million to one during Unicron's attack.

I'm quite relieved, as watching the movie failed to change my nostalgic childhood memories of the Transformers, although I still vastly prefer the comic book series. Not at all bad for a series made to sell toys.

Thursday, May 26, 2005


We saw Revenge of the Sith at the Gateway mall in Cubao. It's less than a year old, and it's target audience is a higher class than the usual malls. It's like it's trying to be something like the Podium, which makes it a bit out of place in Cubao. The mall is good anyway, as you'd expect. Not my type of place to hang out, but has the comforts you'd expect of such a mall...clean, not much of a crowd, and people greeting you when you get off the taxi. It seems a bit tight, though. The hallways are a bit narrow, and the layout is a bit confusing. Or maybe I'm just used to Megamall.

The last time I was there, the only thing to see was the Taco Bell. It was therefore my first time at the cinemas there. It's okay. We got reserved seats, so no crowds for us, and Alvin kept laughing at all the lined-up people who didn't have the foresight to buy reserved tickets.

Alvin and Brian really liked the armrests that you could lift up to remove the barrier between seats -- I guess it's okay if you had a girlfriend. So, yeah, I didn't care. :p

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Movies: Revenge of the Sith

The circle is now complete. The whole tale has been told. Revenge of the Sith completes Lucas' space opera. And the Force is strong in this one.

Highly enjoyable movie, if you take the time to push away your inner critic and look past the spotty acting, the so-so dialogue, and all the little flaws and inconsistencies you spot throughout the movie. Get past all of that, and it's a decent enough ride, and a fitting conclusion to the Star Wars epic.

Seriously, people need to stop picking it apart and just enjoy the movie. Spoilers follow.

R2-D2=funny. Apparently that droid can do anything. Imagine having a universal socket that can hack any computer system? Plus apparently he's smart and handy enough to fight off a couple of war droids. Not bad for an Astromech.

Mace Windu vs. Palpatine=good fight. Better than Yoda vs. Palpatine. Mace Windu is obviously better than Yoda at this, probably because he's Morpheus' cousin or something, or so my brother claimed. Speaking of which, my brother, sitting beside me, was cringing all throughout their fight. "Oh...he's gonna die...he's gonna die..."

Seriously, what was up with those 3 Jedi Mace Windu brought with him? They had like 1 hit point each. What was he thinking?

Anakin: Palpatine is a powerful Sith Lord. You'll need my help.
Mace Windu: No way, fool. He's just an old man. These 3 noobs will be enough.
(Palpatine kills the 3 noobs almost instantly)
Mace Windu: Crap.

Anakin's turning to the Dark Side was believable enough, given a bit of suspension of disbelief. We should've known it was Padme that would lead to his fall. Too bad Anakin was so gullible...despite Obi-wan praising him for his wisdom. Women...why do they lead us to the dark side?

General Grievous was boring, kept running away. I hear he was better in the Clone Wars animated series. I'll watch it sometime.

If you think about it...all those references to the later trilogy seemed conveniently crammed into the last part of the movie. So don't think about it. Just enjoy the wholeness of the circle. :D

Overall, the six-episode story was very good. Lucas' sub-par execution make it an easy target for nitpickers, but the Star Wars mythos as a whole is rock-solid foundation, upon which writers far better than Lucas can improve on.

The story from beginning to end is very tight, from Anakin's discovery as the "one who will bring balance to the force", to his fall, to the rise of Luke, and eventually to Anakin's redemption and Luke becoming the last from both lines - Jedi and Sith. And balance is brought to the Force.

Monday, May 23, 2005


Yeah, so I guess I'm hypertensive. I get dizzy occasionally, and today I decided to pass by the Clinic to consult about it. My BP reading was a 150/110! The highest reading I've had, ever. I hope it's not too serious though. Will find out soon.

I don't really mind not being 100% healthy, and taking maintenance medicine could hurt a bit in the pocket (although I don't care much for money) What I don't like about not being healthy is the diet. How can I do without my wonderful salty spam?

Sunday, May 15, 2005

The girl and Ashton Kutcher

Just saw a segment on Oprah where Oprah helped a 15-year old girl realize her wildest dream - to meet Ashton Kutcher.

Is must be nice to have a lifetime dream so easy to achieve. Oprah's job is nice too. She finds some poor little girl whose dream is to meet a B-list Hollywood celebrity. Wow, how hard was it for her to fulfill that?

Seriously, I'm sure it's great, it's sweet that Oprah's doing this for the kid, who has some sort of vision-related medical problem. Helping out handicapped kids one at a time is a noble cause, to be sure. But I don't know, it just smacks me as a bit superficial that you would choose the ones with relatively shallow dreams (and conveniently easy for you to accomplish.)

I have nothing against Ashton Kutcher by the way. He is occasionally funny. And he plays that idiot on That 70s Show really well.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

That's Just Swell

One of my officemates is now a proud father-to-be! I'd be extremly happy for him, if not for the fact that he has to take a week off to attend to his family matters, and now I have to take up his workload. And just one day after I had finally managed to catch up to my own schedule!

I expect to be in crunch mode for a week at least. Probably two. Maybe more.

Ain't that just swell. I am so not in the mood.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Sweet Glorious Rain

The metro has been suffering from sweltering heat the past few days. That's why this sudden heavy rainshower is severely welcome.

My mother says all the people in the metro must have been praying for rain -- the shower is rather fierce.

Sweet glorious rain.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

CSS-Based Design

A while back, inspired by the CSS Zen Garden, I modified my Blogger template to use entirely CSS-based design. That is, I can know update the layout instantly simply by replacing the stylesheet file used by template (like now!)

The new layout uses up a wider screen space, but I think it's neat. The lighter colors are easier on my tired, computer-strained eyes. Hopefully, this new CSS-based design allows me to do more experimentation and improve my ability to design web UIs.

Speaking of web UIs, I only recently saw the new look for Yahoo Groups. Similar to the change for the main Yahoo site, it focuses more on lighter colors now, and has significant usage of font coloring to show important points. I like it. Maybe they'll improve the Yahoo Mail layout next.

Wheel of Time 10 - Crossroads of Twilight

Haven't read Robert Jordan in a while. Someone gave me Crossroads of Twilight as a gift, so I read it and hope that his pacing has improved. It has not. He writes well enough, dialogue is nice, descriptions are more than adequate, but I expect some things to happen in his books! He has so many plots running at once, he should at least resolve two or three per book. Perrin, Mat and Elayne get a lot of chapters, but they barely get anything done. Rand al'Thor himself barely gets one chapter, and I'm thinking it was just put in 'cause people would be pissed if he didn't actually appear in the book. Egwene at least had the good sense to go out and try to do something. Not that she got anywhere sensible of course...

I swear, with so many things going on, it will take him forever to wrap up this series. And while that may be good for him, I wonder how many people will bother following the books for so long? Especially when they're more of the same...

Monday, May 02, 2005

PIMP MY RIG -- we test parts for you..

Pimp My Rig is a hardware review side associated with a friend of mine from high school. Yes, I was asked to help promote it. :D

I haven't worried about hardware issues in a while, since I usually ask my kid brother to handle most hardware purchases/setup at home. So, I don't really know much about the latest and greatest hardware but this site looks helpful enough to be given a try, especially if you're the sort who enjoys putting together his own PC. Check it out.

On an unrelated note, whenever I try to type the word "rig", I find myself unconsciously typing "right." Deep inside, I don't think I accept "rig" as a word. :p

Weekend Status Report

I only had three tasks laid out for me this weekend:

1. Watch season 4 of X-men Evolution. I realize that X-men Evo was not as popular as some of the other superhero series such as Justice League and Teen Titans, but I mostly like it anyway. It's more of a light-hearted version of the X-men universe , really. (Presidential hopeful Senator Kelly of canon is merely Mayoral hopeful Principal Kelly here!) It gets campy at times, but hey, Adam West's Batman was the epitome of campiness, and I enjoyed that too. This task was successfully accomplished.

2. Fix the home network LAN. Previously we had a problem where the other computer could not use the internet through the gateway machine. Looks like ZoneAlarm was the culprit, as apparently, the free version of ZoneAlarm does not support Internet Connection Sharing. I got the internet working by installing Sygate Personal Firewall instead, although this led to the new problem of the other computer not being able to access shared files/folders on the network. We're keeping it at this state until I can figure out a better solution. This task was successfully accomplished, with complications.

3. Solve this Rubik's UFO puzzles (it is already solved in the picture):

Of course, instead of actually devising a solution to the puzzle, I merely used my google-fu to find a website to help me solve it.

All three tasks completed! (Mostly)

I also managed to sneak in a good part of Crossroads of Twilight (Book 10 of Wheel of Time, more on that in a later post), and two movies: Shrek 2 and the Incredibles. Yes, I had not seen either movie before. And actually, I didn't see them in whole today either. I saw more than half of Incredibles, I think. And most of Shrek 2. Quick reviews, Shrek 2 was the better movie by far. Rib-tickling. I didn't bother seeing it before because it didn't really give me a feeling of being too good, but I was wrong.

Sunday, May 01, 2005


One thing about spending a free day at home. The temperature in my room gets really high during the afternoon, it's quite uncomfortable. Especially since I'm used to wasting away most of my daylight hours in an airconditioned office.

It's good to spend a couple of days away from the office though - God only knows I've been so damn uninspired with work lately. For the past two weeks or so, I haven't had much heart for my work. Most of the time, I code while wondering if I should file for half a day's sick leave and head home. Except that I don't know if boredom is a valid excuse.

(Madness, despair and self-doubt lay ahead, uncharacteristically. You have been warned.)

I don't know why. I guess I'm just tired. Tired of overly complicated modules. Tired of badly designed data models. Tired of losing two hours every day to commuting. Tired of the heat. Tired of all the people. And maybe, just maybe, tired of trying to figure out how to win her attention. Just her attention mind you. I would be satisfied with just her attention for a good while, and that says a lot.

Or maybe I'm just losing my sense of belonging. I like the people at work, I really do. I have friends there. Close friends, even. People whom I've opened up to, shared secrets with, confided in. I don't think I've had any new close friends since the original zu crew. And I like the job, or I wouldn't have stayed this long. And I am quite sure that I am quite good at what I do. So why do thoughts of resigning keep coming up?

I'm lying to myself of course. I know the reason why it's been so hard to keep a good mood lately. I found out some things I shouldn't have, through methods I should not have used. I did not learn anything I did not already suspect. I had nothing to gain by trying to find out, I knew that knowing these things for certain would shatter me, yet I had to know. So I went ahead anyway. And my heart is paying the price.

I've been a fool. I know this to be true, I've known it all along. I've always hated letting my emotions get the better of me; I should've held myself back this time same as any other. What made me think it would be any different? What made me think I could fight fate? What made me think I had what it takes?

And now I'm tired. I don't know what to do. I don't know whether I have the strength to go on. There's gap there that I don't know how to traverse. A barrier that only grows stronger as I fight it. Common sense and several people in the know tell me that it's alright to quit. I've fought the good fight, there is no shame in surrender. It happens all the time, people try and people fail.

This can't possibly be good for me. Already it's starting to affect my work somehow. And I'm pretty sure that it's holding me back in more ways than that. This isn't going anywhere, and it's making me so frickin' weak. It seems so obvious what needs to be done.

Then why is it so hard to let go?


The Thinker

You are analytical and logical - and on a quest to learn everything you can.
Smart and complex, you always love a new intellectual challenge.
Your biggest pet peeve is people who slow you down with trivial chit chat.
A quiet maverick, you tend to ignore rules and authority whenever you feel like it.

You would make an excellent mathematician, programmer, or professor.

Got this from Peng's blog. It's a simplified version of the Myers-Brigg personality test, which I've taken before, with the same results.

Well not really, my results sometimes vary from INTP to INFP. Each letter in the result stands for one aspect of your personality. In this case, Introverted iNtuitive Thinking/Feeling Perceiving. I'm pretty sure I'm somewhere dead even on the thinking/feeling scale. I often confuse myself, so I'm pretty sure the test would be confused as well.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Sega Fantasy VI


I was about 20 seconds away from being late for work this morning. And this flash video is why.

(Click "New Game" to view the whole thing.)

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Nuns and Earthquakes

Some weirdness today.

Around 4PM, word spread through the office that some sort of psychic nun had predicted an intensity nine earthquake today at 5PM. (This fantastic prediction came through SMS of course. Despite my not having a cellphone, I am not outside its' influence.) Since we work on a rather high floor, an earthquake would be very bad (tm) from us. Of course, nobody took it seriously, although I suspect some wanted to take the opportunity to dodge some work. It's ridiculous after all. There's no real way to predict an earthquake will strike at a certain time.

The funny thing is, it seems that at least in one other office in the building, the employees were asked to leave the office temporarily "just in case." It's funny when individuals worry about earthquakes predicted by psychic nuns...but when a company decides to take it seriously, well, that's downright stupid.

Games: Suikoden IV

Well, I thought I'd write about Suikoden IV before I forgot all about it. I finished it around Holy Week, but haven't bothered to go through again, even though I promised myself I would try since I did not get the magic number of a hundred and eight stars of destiny this time around. Curse my pride for not reading any FAQs while playing! Time is short, with work and all, so I should make the most of my games so I don't need to re-play them.

Suiko 4 has big steps to fill. The first two Suikoden games gained quite a following on the PSX, and the third game, while taking things in a somewhat different direction, was pretty good as well. Does Suiko 4 live up to the series' legacy? It's mostly the same as Suiko 1 and 2, but the plot is a lot simpler this time, and quite uninspired. Very few truly moving mments or scenes. The story takes place in the Island Nations some hundreds of years before the events of Suiko 1. Only three characters are here from previous games: Viki (no surprise there), Jeane (WTF? How is she alive at this time? Does she possess a true rune?) And Ted, the original bearer of the Soul-Eater true rune from Suikoden 1. The worst part is I didn't get Ted! Damn it. I shouldn't have rushed the last part of the game.

Having the Soul-Eater would have been good, because frankly, the hero's true rune in this game, the Rune of Punishment, is really lame. Story-wise and gameplay wise. The story of Suikoden games have always revolved around the 27 True Runes...powerful, living artifacts of magic that shape the destiny of the world. Sought after not only because of the immense power they wield, but also because the True Runes grant their bearers one thing men can only dream of: immortality. This game is about one madman's desire to possess the power of the True Rune of Punishment.

In fact, the story follows quite the same trend as Suiko 1 and 2. Hero is a young member of prestigious nation's military arm. Hero is forced to leave his home for some reason. Hero finds a True Rune. Hero gathers together a huge army to lay the smackdown on an evil Empire. When the war is done, Hero fades into obscurity. Really, no spoilers here. So why the plot fall so flat if it's following a tried-and-true formula?

I think it's because of the uninspired supporting cast. The silent unnamed hero of Suiko 4 doesn't have any strong, loyal personalities attached to him (Gremio in Suiko1, Nanami in Suiko2, a buttload of people in Suiko3) Because of this, he lacks a powerful mouthpiece to help drive the plot forward. Also, it has always been the problem in the Suikoden series that since they always have a cast of 108 in each game, many characters are underdeveloped. But in Suiko 4, I find it hard to name more than five "solid" characters that drive the plot. And the Silverburg tactician here is boring here as well. No particularly clever plots or tactics here, don't expect any Matthiu or Shu tricks.

Gameplay-wise, it's pretty blah as well. It's mostly the same as 1 and 2 though, so it's more of no big improvements than suckiness. There is one thing that bothers me though: The dice-bowl gambling game has been given a limit. You can only bet 3000 potch at a time! This minigame was a major source of funds in the earlier games in the series, and with this cap, it's hard to keep up with the high blacksmith prices towards the end of the game.

One last complaint. This game seems to be technically inferior to Suikoden III. Case in point: cut scenes. It frustrates me that a simple change of perspective/camera angles in cutscenes demands a load time (as in, fade in/fade out) of 0.5-1 seconds. It's the same scene, the models are already loaded in memory, why can't it be a smooth transition? As it is, the cut scenes are jarring and feel skippy.

That is all. Will I play it again? Maybe, I really want to use the Soul-Eater again. One nice thing about this game is that for the first time in the series, they include a New game + mode. Not much benefits in terms of carry-over, but one major thing: You can skip cutscenes! But I probably still won't play it again. There are other games to play, and too little time.