Tuesday, November 28, 2006

No more ban on the water

I was in Metrotown mall yesterday, which is not all that exciting, since that is also where I catch the bus. So I'm pretty much there every weekday. But it was different yesterday.

Yesterday they had the Nintendo Wii on display.

There were four units available to be tried out, and they even had a fair amount of Nintendo staff to assist people with trying out the games. The whole thing was very well planned, and drew the kind of crowd I think that Nintendo would have been hoping for. They were also pretty smart to include a wide selection of titles to display. There was a bowling game, a first person shooter, a boxing game and another sporting title that I failed to pay attention to.

What interested me the most was the first person shooter. The staff on hand spent most of their time explaining how to use the controller to play the game. Some of the moves required were somewhat non-intuitive, I thought, but until I try for myself, I'll reserve judgement. An example of what I am talking about is the reload action, which involves 'shaking' the 'nunchuk' half of the controller. (I didn't actually speak with any of the staff, so I'm not 100% certain on the terminology.) The same action was used to open doors, and to change weapons. At times the player would crouch in the game, but I got the impression that he wasn't completely in control of that action.

The game also supported a zoom feature, which was very slick. The player would merely thrust the wand forward and the view would zoom in. Pull back, and the view would zoom out. From watching the people playing the Wii demo units, it looks like Nintendo hopes to reintroduce exercise into the living room. I think it is this factor more than any other that will relegate the Wii to the recreation rooms of family's households, instead of hooked up to the big screen in the living room. Mom's not going to want the kids jumping about, flailing their arms wildly in the living room.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Second worst trip to date

I made the trip from Vernon to Burnaby yesterday and it was one of the worst I have ever experienced to date.

Having said that, I managed to not have any accidents or mechanical failure, which means it was still a good trip. This is unlike the time when I blew an engine in my Jeep on the return trip from Vancouver - not so much fun.

Pictured right is a shot from inside the Great Bear Snow Shed - one of the few moments when the road conditions permitted me to actually grab a picture. I was doing about 40 kph here, so not very fast. (The posted limit is 110 kph through this stretch, and it's downhill.)

During the course of my trip, which took me approximately 8 hours to complete, I saw roughly a hundred cars either in the ditch, or in accidents, or stalled in a random lane of the highway. In all cases, it forced the drivers still on the road to slow down even more to ensure safe passage beyond.

I am not going to rant about the 'quality' of the other drivers who shared the road with me yesterday because quite frankly, many of those on the road were very cautious, responsible and courteous. For the most part, people were allowing extra space between vehicles, driving slower and generally not driving like an idiot. For the most part. Whenever an aggressive driver appeared, my general reaction was to slow down and let them go by - I really didn't feel like dealing with any bad driver drama yesterday.

The coup de grace came as I arrived at my destination - only to find a driveway in need of shovelling. Past experience has taught me to do it that night and not put it off until morning, as it tends to freeze and make life miserable.

I am really going to enjoy taking the Skytrain home tonight.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Overdue for a post

Vancouver has a water problem. Let me say that again, as it sounds wrong: Vancouver has a water problem. It's been raining steadily (as it always does this time of year) yet because of that, and the runoff into our water reservoir, nobody can drink the water.

Well, almost nobody. Basically the water is muddy, and because of that, the UV sterilization that normally helps kill bacteria doesn't work anymore. So how does this affect me? For one, I cannot drink the water at home. But more importantly, it is affecting coffee shops across the city in a much larger way - places like Starbucks and Tim Hortons are resorting to making coffee from bottled water, since they actually care about the taste of coffee. Other shops have taken the position that since the water gets heated up to a very hot temp, that the bacteria would be killed off anyway, so the water is safe for use. What they fail to mention is that they are still making coffee with muddy water. So basically the only people getting coffee from those shops are the people who want caffeine and don't care about the taste of what they are drinking.

Which is perfectly valid. It is safe, afterall. And for most folks, they won't be awake enough to care about taste until after the second (or third) cup. So the question is, where are you getting your coffee from this week?