Professor Layton and the Curious Village

The Chinese New Year holiday gave me plenty of time to relax and get some Advance Wars Dual Strike play in, but on the last two days I was blessed with a new game, Professor Layton and the Curious Village.

This game is a collection of mini-games and puzzles all following the main plot line of a mysterious treasure. The person who finds this treasure will be left the entire estate, which coincidentally includes the entire village. Along the way Layton encounters additional trials including solving a murder and finding out what the strange tower is in the middle of the town.

The great thing about this game is what it contains:

  • A strong plot-line
  • Puzzles that range from simple to complex
  • A built in hint system for less skilled users
  • A free weekly puzzle that can be downloaded from the internet
  • Full-motion animation and voice acting
  • A quirky retro art style

I recommend anyone who is fond of puzzles (including Martin Gardner fans), mysteries, and logic games check this game out. The great thing is that the website has a fully interactive demo which demonstrates the play mechanics of the game, meaning you can try before you buy.


The 31st came and went with no Adobe Acrobat updates in sight

I guess I should not be too surprised that Adobe isn’t supporting the Mac platform to the fullest. The thing I don’t understand is how they were unprepared for the Leopard 10.5 update.

When Leopard was first updated Adobe released a notice concerning their support for the latest version of Mac OS Leopard. Interestingly enough this report was published as an Acrobat file. Now why is this interesting? Well, one of their comments was that Acrobat 8.0 will encounter issues on OS X 10.5. Well how could you view this support article? Well, acording to Adobe you couldn’t use Acrobat, but don’t take my word for it:

[Adobe Acrobat Professional] Requires update to 8.1.2 for full compatibility. Expected to be available in English, French, German, and Japanese in late January 2008. Additional languages expected shortly thereafter.

Adobe had a similar comment for their free Adobe Reader application:

[Adobe Reader] Requires Adobe Reader 8.1.2 for full compatibility. Expected to be available in late January 2008.

Well January 31st came and went and there was no update from Adobe. Sure, the press gave a pass to them, but what about the “Creative Professionals” who rely upon these tools? Well, I guess Adobe has been giving similar signals for the past few years and it seems like they would rather all of the Mac users just switch over to Vista because the 12% of the market Mac users will have by 2011 is too small of a market for them.

The thing I do not understand is how MacWorld can claim that Adobe is one of the closest developers to Apple and they don’t cry foul when Adobe was unprepared for the stealthy and minimal release of Mac OS Leopard. I guess Adobe thought that no-one would upgrade, and I guess MacWorld was worried about losing advertising dollars from Adobe. That’s journalism for you.

Warming up to the MacBook Air

MacWorld recently released a review for the MacBook Air where they gave the machine a rating 3.5 out of 5.  I am in fact a bit more inclined to purchase one now though, for two reasons.

  1. They tested the 1.6 GHz version, and the 1.8 will be faster
  2. They said:

The MacBook Air came on the heels of using a 2.16GHz MacBook, and I found its speeds in day-to-day use to be perfectly sufficient. … Using Photoshop CS3 to do some minor image tweaking seemed perfectly fine.”

The 2.16 GHz is faster than my laptop, meaning someone using something faster didn’t notice anything. MacWorld then goes on to say:

Then there will be those who … will adopt the MacBook Air as their primary Mac—simply because they’re laptop-only users who want that laptop to be as small as possible.

This is how I feel – I honestly am not so happy with all of the reviews out there who say the machine is “slow” because that is based on an opnion, and as nice as opinions are, they are irrelevant.  If I perceive the machine to be as fast as my current machine, I know I will be happy.

What do I think of the MacBook Air?

MacBook Air The day after the Apple Keynote, everyone in the office asked me “So are you pre-ordering one yet?”  Well I guess the word is out that I am an apple FanBoy, but i need to be honest, I still don’t know how I feel about it.

Don’t get me wrong – it isn’t the price. I’ve shelved over more for my lovely Vaio Z1 of yesteryear.  I even think after the memory upgrades, California tax and all my current MacBook was as expensive.  I even have been saving some money for the past 6 months just for this purpose. So it isn’t price – it is something else though.

At first I thought it was the non-removable battery, but it turns out that it is trivial to replace. Some people complain about the lack of a CD/DVD drive, but honestly my IBM X40 didn’t have one and I never missed it. Some people complain about the lack of ethernet, but I think the USB Ethernet adapter is just fine since I only use a wire in the office and I would probably leave it permanently attached to my ethernet cable on my desk. What about when I travel – well I have an extra AirPort Express that I can throw in the bag.  I am not complaining about the size either, the screen is big enough and who’t want a lighter laptop?

So what is bothering me then? Well, I think it is the speed. I really want it to REPLACE my primary computer, and right now the benchmark tests say it falls far behind my consumer grade laptop. On-board video isn’t the problem, but I really would want it to be my primary machine, and I think the speed would really bother me.  I have a 2.0 Core 2 Duo now, and I at least would want the same in my replacement.  Maybe they bumped the processors up too fast in the entry level laptops because I want speed and the small size and can care less about ethernet and the optical drive.

OK – I will probably end up buying one anyway, so I shouldn’t complain too much – but please, oh please bump up the speed a bit.  Anyone else feel the same?

Advance Wars: Days of Ruin

I just got a new game that I have fallen in love with, Advance Wars: Days of Ruin. This is an edgy re-make of the previous turn-based strategy Advance Wars: Dual Strike game. In this revision the story has a bit more depth, the cut-scene graphic design is updated, and the overall gameplay is updated to focus more on strategy than on an all out melee.

If you are unfamiliar with turn-based strategy games, you need to think of a war based strategy game where you need to plan your next turn by moving, attacking, building, or repairing tactical units of different strengths on the battle field. After you take your turn, your opponent (the computer) then moves all of their units to do the same. Think of a chess game where you can move all of your pieces once each turn.

One of the final innovations over the previous version is the fact that they have added WiFi gaming to the mix. Online play tied with the ability to create your own maps and terrain provide you with unlimited play options at all skill levels. Play your best friend across the street or strangers who live 5000 miles away (anonymously, of course).

Tomato Basil Chicken Pasta

Two or three weeks ago I was going out with a few co-workers to lunch and I really wanted to go someplace new. We walked down An-He Road past a cafe called Swing (which will have another review later) and found a new place called Bedroom where a cafe named Postop used to be.

We went in and all ordered our sets. Now the menu was a bit eclectic, with some classic Italian dishes and a few East-Asian curries and I opted for the Tomato Basil Chicken pasta set (around ~5.57 USD).

The first dish was a salad, which I offered to one of my co-workers. Next came out a miso-soup, a very un-Italian soup, but it was still good for a miso soup. Last came the pasta, which was really good – surprisingly so. My co-worker who ordered the Salmon in Cream Sauce gave a thumbs up, as did the other co-worker who ordered the Shrimp pasta (although the shrimp were high-maintainence because they were not un-shelled. All-in-all this was a great find that I have already gone back to another two times.

How many episodes are left due to the writers strike?

OK, OK, I am in Taiwan, but this doesn’t mean that the Writers Strike that is occuring in the US isn’t affecting me.  I do regurlary download episodes from iTunes and watch them on my iPhone or iPod, so yes I need to stay on top of this.

So what shows am I really into lately? Well honestly I can care less for Heroes.  For some reason I feel “tired” after watching those episodes (too many pointless plot twists), and iTunes stopped carrying season two anyway, so no big loss.  I am however watching Kyle XY, a show about a cloned boy who was brought out of the artificial womb at the age of 15, an subsequently has the emotional and mental abilities of Data on Star Trek.  I am also digging the newly released Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, but the problem is when will all the “good” shows stop airing?

Well I found a regurlarly updated page that is going to be your salvation.  Find out how many more episodes of your favorite show are left on  the page Effect of the 2007–08 Writers Guild of America strike on television.