“Set course for ramming speed!”

I mentioned last night in my blog that I bought a CD yesterday titled “Collision Course” by Linkin Park and Jay-Z. I didn’t say a great deal about it, because I wanted to take the time and give this album a fully-fledged review. As I did say, I don’t often spend much money on music lately, but this is one album I was always going to make an exception for.

The other day at Ryan’s house, after he owned me at Halo 2 three games in a row, we flipped over to the [V] channel to watch a few clips and poke fun at James Matheson. The first clip that came on was called “Numb/Encore” by Jay-Z and Linkin Park and both of us were saying that it was one of the finest collaboration efforts we have ever seen. This song fully encapsulates why I think more bands need to get together and collaborate on tracks by bringing and even stronger Hip-Hop influence to an already influenced band. Jay-Z’s smooth raps over the top of Chester Bennington’s harmonies just sound so wonderful.

That afternoon I was singing the tag line of the song “so for one last time I need y’all to roar” for the biggest part of the afternoon. Josh asked me what the hell I was singing and I explained the collaboration to him. “Yeah, they are releasing an album together,” he replied excitedly. I didn’t give it much of a thought, expecting it not to be out in months and forgot about it until Monday morning. When I checked the Linkin Park Website on Monday morning I noticed a link to LPJZ dot COM. I clicked and saw that the international release date was…. “TODAY?”

The rest of the story writes itself. Within about an hour of seeing the album was being released I had it in my hands, the CD was quickly converting to MP3 and the DVD was playing loudly over my surround system. I can honestly say that for only 6 tracks, it was the best $30 I have spent in a long time and each of the tracks pleased me so much. The full track listing is as follows:

  1. Dirt Off Your Shoulders / Lying From You
  2. Big Pimpin’ / Papercut
  3. Jigga What / Faint
  4. Numb / Encore
  5. Izzo / In The End
  6. Points of Authority / 99 Problems / One Step Closer

As you can see, each track consists of one or more Linkin Park songs, one Jay-Z song, each fused into one beautiful track. I would have to rate my favorite track as “Points of Authority / 99 Problems / One Step Closer” but every one of the tracks rule and I recommend to any fan of either artist to go and get this CD. The DVD follows the week of it’s creation, 4 days of studio time where they recorded the record (I believe this is also a record-breaking time) and the 3 days of rehearsals and performance.

Linkin Park, after the creation of the album, took a poll amongst their fans to see what other music they listened to. Any of their fans who replied saying they liked “Jay-Z” earned themselves an invite to the concert, a very small show played at the Roxy Theater in West Hollywood, CA. A mean concert to say the least, I wish to god I lived in the US so I could have attended, it was an awesome show.

Jay-Z vs Linkin Park: Collision Course

Take two placebos and call me in the morning

It’s been a while since I have posted, so this is going to be one long post. Be warned. The reason for the extended delay without a weblog entry is because I have been concentrating on various other projects. My writing has been going okay, it could be better, but I’ve really been working a lot on some design work and trying to get a few things in my life in order. I have some top secret projects going on at the moment which shall be revealed in a week or two, so keep your eye on this spot for more info.

Well my weekend was huge. Friday night I met Ryan and Andy at an art show, where Andy was showing some works. He had 3 awesome drawings of a Rhino, a Cheetah and a Cow, all of which were sold to the local art museum; quite an achievement. After this we went to Dave’s house for a few beers and then it was a night out. Mik, Liam, Luke and Rob all had lady friends to take care of and Dessy was being a girl and playing Half Life 2 all night, so Ryan and I kept it real for everyone and ended up pulling up at my house at around 6 or 7am. We played pool, talked cod shit to strangers and all-round had a huge night. The highlight of the night would have to be…

Mitch: Phil!
[Invisible record scratch-and-stop and the he whole beer garden looks at me in shock]
Mitch: I knew that was you! I said to him, “that is phil!” He said, “No it isn’t” and then I said, “Yes! It! IS!!!”
[Ryan hits me a high five, the DJ hits the record-start and everything goes back to normal]

For those who don’t know, that is a quote from Beverly Hills Cop. Ryan and I quote it a hundred times a night to each other, just usually a little quieter. Some parts of the night is a bit of a blur, but we went hard for almost 12 hours, so that is a bit of an effort.

I woke up around 2pm on Saturday (hey, after getting home at 6 and not getting to bed until daylight, that is quite early) and made Ryan and I some breakfast. We sat around laughing about the night just gone and recollected a few things. We had ran into a couple of girls, one of whom had just turned 18, who invited us to a party. Ryan and I made it our mission to spend the day psyching ourselves into party-mode and as such, we went to his place and played some Xbox, then had a good late lunch at my house and then went to Mik’s house.

We got to Mik’s house and had some drinks and started our day slowly at around 4pm in the afternoon. Was a great start to the afternoon, just our little group having a chat and a few beers and relaxing, always a beautiful foundation for a big night. We headed to the party we’d been invited to, but because everyone (around 10 extra people) wanted to come, it became a hassle, so we detoured to a bar and just played a few games of pool. After about an hour of sitting around, everyone got either too drunk or had other things to do and went home. Ryan, Rob and I headed to the party and from here on is a little shady.

The party was fantastic and I spoke to no less than 10 or 20 people I didn’t even know and just had a really good time. It’s nice not having anything to worry about and just being able to enjoy myself in that sort of social setting. There was about 80 people at the party and 4 kegs (only 1 of which was drunk by the time we got there at 11, which is rather soft considering our group can finish a keg with 4 people) so the guys who were still going hit it rather hard. I don’t think we moved from the beer tap for the first hour and even then we were all keeping up with each other and doing a shout every 10 or 15 minutes. It was a wild night, people were skinny dipping and some were being jerks, but I think everyone had fun.

Once again, Ryan and I didn’t get up until daybreak and we slept late again and spent Sunday at the studio without incident. For the work I have done so far on the Lik-Wid website, Liam gave me some money which I promised to put towards Half Life 2, which I bought this morning. Not only did I buy this, but I also bought one of the best CD/DVD’s I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. Jay-Z and Linkin Park have teamed up on a collaborated album called “Collision Course” and I can say that anyone who likes Hip-Hop and Alternative music, they should definitely buy it. I rarely buy music unless I can really afford it, but today I made an exception and sent myself broker than I have been in a while. I don’t regret it.

Well that is a catch up of my weekend and today and I realize it’s a little over the place, so I apologize. Right now it’s rather late and I need some sleep, I will try and make my future posts a little more constructive. This week will be rather busy with me working on several different (all very exciting) projects, most of which won’t be spoken about until they are completed or very close to completion. But I will say this; if you like my site and/or my writing, you should be excited.

Thy Brother

Some of the people who read my weblog will know me enough to have met my brother. A few of those people will even know me well enough to know just how much love and respect I have for him. Josh is, and always will be, my favorite person on this earth. He is just a fantastic guy and I doubt he will ever know just how much I admire and respect him. He is far more responsible than I am (even though he gets into trouble occasionally), and far better of a person than I could even hope to be.

He recently finished strong in his Higher School Certificate and he is awaiting his marks to get back to find out about his University options. On top of applying for University, he has also started a traineeship with his girlfriends fathers company in pest control and management, which goes even further to show just how responsible he is and how goal-focused he is. He finished his first day of work today and came home looking quite good considering he had been up since 5am and I just realized that he is really becoming an adult.

Josh and I have had our fair share of fights over the years, but since I left high school we have just become really close friends. We hang out occasionally and he often comes to the studio with the boys and I for a few games of Xbox and a drink if he isn’t driving. We often have conversations that can last a while and debates that last even longer, and he truly has a keen mind which is something I always respect.

Here is a photo of Josh, Sarah (his girlfriend) and I, taken recently before his school formal. I wasn’t exactly dressed for the occasion, because I didn’t go, but the photo still makes me smile when I see it. Very typical of Josh and I, Mr. Responsible standing next to Mr. Joke-Around. That isn’t to say that Josh is some kind of robot who never has fun, he is just a bit better than me at selecting the appropriate times (most of the time).

(L to R) Sarah, Josh and Mitch

Oh Keg, bringer of life

Last night we decided to get a keg. What an awesome night we had, everyone was there (even though Mik left early, the sidler) and everyone just had a great time. I’d have to say the highlights of the night were me and Rob freestyling along when Ryan did some scratching, Ryan and Meli singing along with some Hed PE and Josh playing Half Life 2 non-stop. We didn’t end up leaving until around 2:30 or 3:00am, when we all decided to call it quits. I’ll make this a short entry, because Ryan has just arrived and we’re about to go drink what is left of the keg, and I’ll give a more thorough weekend report on Monday.

This is a picture of a spirochete.

Love, Ralph.

Xbox Prayer

When I first heard that Microsoft were making a gaming station I scoffed and swore I would never buy it. “Don’t feed the Microsoft empire dude, buy a console that isn’t run by a bunch of asshole profiteers!”

I warned everyone I knew against it, but the truth is it took just one game of Halo before I was saving my $500 – yes I bought it approximately 2 weeks after it was released and it was still expensive as hell – for my very own Xbox console. It is in recognition of this awesome gaming platform, and the release of the greatest game on earth; Halo 2, that I ask you all to say this short prayer tonight:

Dear Xbox,
Thou art made in heaven,
Modded be thy games,
We shalt play in lounge room,
So we may one day to play in gaming heaven,
Give us this day our daily rush,
And forgive us for playing Playstation,
As we almost forgive those who play Dreamcast,
Lead us not into cross fire,
But deliver us from the undead,
For Halo 2 is thy power,
Forever and ever.

Unite the nation or abuse the system?

I downloaded a 130MB backup file this afternoon for the server move and promised myself no weblog entries until I move servers. Well the new hosts are taking their time getting back to me and I just saw an article on my mothers coffee table that needs to be written about. And I quote…

Casey’s [Australian Idol Contestant] full-blood Aboriginal father Merv Donovan hopes his teenage daughter can unite the nation by winning Australian Idol singing the Aboriginal Anthem, Archie Roach’s Took The Children Away, live on air.

– New Idea Magazine

In short: what a load of bullshit. As if that isn’t the biggest ploy on earth to try and secure votes in the upcoming Australian Idol finals. What an absolute abuse of the system. I am too disgusted for words, so I will leave it at that. Good day.

Stupid Heat

Summer and I have a love hate relationship. While I love eating salad every night and standing outside barbecuing, the heat just really gets to me. I get so sick I can hardly bare it and the temperatures here get up to around 46 Degrees C (about 115 Degrees F). Not to mention there is a very low level of humidity and it just gets so dry here you feel like it’s sucking the water straight from your body.

This morning I woke up around 8 and spent up until about 3:30 in the afternoon working on some writing (my story is coming along quite nicely now) and a bit of the Lik-Wid website, but spent all of that time just feeling awful because it was just so hot. This is a really hard part of the year because it can be cold downstairs and boiling hot upstairs, so I can’t even turn on the air condition without the rest of my family freezing to death.

I am in a real zone with my writing at the moment, both online and offline, and it feels really good. Over the last week I have gotten so much done that if it gets any better I might just have to do some sort of dance or something.

This evening I cooked a really nice barbecue outside. It was a nice moderate day, so the weather was so perfect that it almost saddened me when the meat was finally cooked and I had to come back inside. My brother and I have a small, unspoken cooking rivalry between us where we both try and cook really good meals and compete over who cooks the best X. Whatever X may be I can usually beat him because I cook more often and take more care, but no one cooks scrambled eggs like he does, even if he uses my recipe and methods, he just does it better.

Right now I am looking out my window and it is just on dusk. A beautiful breeze flows through the window and I think I will take a photography just to show how beautiful of a scene it is. Be right back.

Window Wide View    Window Tight View

There you go. Marvelous isn’t it? Now I am off to read some Ctrl Alt Del, check if the new Megatokyo comic has been released, listen to some tunes and waste some money at the Megagear store. Peace out.

It’s an addiction!

When you finish reading this post, take an effort to look at what time I posted at. I’ll keep it suspenseful for everyone and just say it was late! Halo 2 is now overdue to be returned to the video store, but I just couldn’t part with it. “I’ll return it tomorrow mom, I promise!” I’ve been playing all day and I am now on a really hard level that seems to require a lot of patience, which is never good for me. The damned Covenant keep pwn1ng me every time and I am in a damned tank, you think I’d be cooler than that. I think maybe I need some rest (or caffeine… hmmm) and I will try again tomorrow at purging the planet of Covenant scum!

So yes, Halo 2 has become an addiction. I also have another addiction that will be getting increased 10 fold soon. I really love lollies (or candy for all you seppos) and I have arranged with two of my online friends (one from Sweden and another from Finland) to do a”candy exchange.” I’ll send them some Australian candy (and some Vegemite of course) and they’ll return the favor and send me some of their native candy back too. How much does that rule? This is what I have decided to send so far:

  • Vegemite (with explicit instructions on how to use it – it isn’t peanut butter!)
  • Redskins
  • Crystallized Ginger
  • Milkos
  • Unfortunately I can’t send drugs, so keep your crack pip under the bed for next time kids!

I figure I can send anything that won’t melt or shift shape too much to ruin it for the recipient. Any Australians who read this should give any suggestions of true Aussie candy for me to send in a comment to this post please, I really wanna show these cool cats a little piece of Australia. Anyone who hails from another country and wants to do a kick-ass exchange with me, let me know – just make sure I know who you are, I don’t want anthrax or a big “fuck you” arriving after I fork out the bucks to send you some shit.

Halo 2 has arrived!

This afternoon I decided to hire Halo 2 and give it a test drive. You see, this afternoon I sold my BMX and I have some cash units, so I think I am going to spoil myself with a copy of Halo 2 and a memory unit. I am going to use a word to describe this game that I wouldn’t normally use: perfection.

The graphics are beautiful, I think the physics engine has copped an entire revamping and the AI improvements are more than marginal. When hiding behind a pillar if you change directions to approach from they will learn your tactics and when you change again it takes a moment for the AI to regroup and start attacking you again, it’s brilliant.

Graphics: No expense has been spared in the graphics department. It’s still not a “real world” and I like the call it a Halo World, but it’s much smoother and clearer and the graphics really flow well. Blood splatters are quite fake looking, but I think it’s a good thing to keep blood looking quite fake for the kiddies. Wall textures are awesome and when you fire upon the wall it leaves bullet hole marks which look fantastic. The menu system is beautiful too, it operates very much as an entire operating system and I am certain there will be windows themes like it coming out soon.

Physics Engine: A good mix of yes-that-will-happen-in-a-real-world-situation and let’s-make-it-fun-for-the-gamer. In fact, it’s a perfect mix. Water flows cleanly and splashes appropriately, not to mention that the guns recoil accurately when fired, which is a huge improvement on the old blast-away style of the first.

Artificial Intelligence: The new AI is terrific. Like I said before, it has the ability to understand tactics. While hiding behind a barrel I ducked to the left several times and fired and they ended up getting me pretty bad, so I ducked right and they had no idea what was happening, because my strategy changed – I emptied a full clip before they woke up to what I was doing, but then they learned both and I had to change once more.

Vehicles and Weapons: Wow, never mind the whole 3 person buggy, there are now aircraft, alien craft and all of which have their own dynamic. Craft can now be operated solo, so no more double kills while you drive around looking for bad guys. The weapons are amazing and a lot more realistic. Firing now has to be done in bursts so as to keep an accurate aim, and something that I think needs to be included in every FPS, you can now hold two weapons at once.

Halo was good for one major reason: people could play it well, without any hassles. Halo 2 is no exception. Apart from a few extra options and minor difference with weapons (like when holding two weapons) it is exactly the same and therefore very easy to play and very friendly on the hands – no performing any impossible hand riddles just to pick up a weapon.

Overall: After 2 games of Multi-player with Luke (yeah I 0wn3d him both times) and a few solo levels, I can honestly say this is a terrific game. I am already marking it as the best game I have ever played, it is just that good. To any gamers out there, get a copy along with a Live! kit and I might see you online, I am getting mine tomorrow. Rock on!

OpenSource Rant

This morning I got asked by a friend what I use for all my writing. We sat and talked for over an hour on the different software choices, but he was (and I was too, to be honest) surprised to know that all of the software I use is freely available and has unrestrictive licensing. I gave him a rant for at least 45 minutes about the beauty of the OpenSource community and after some consideration I have decided to talk about the software I use, along with why I use it and maybe even spit a little about OpenSource. I think this is a rant that any geek in his right mind should have a read of, so enjoy.

My most loved tool of the trade, and possibly one of the finest OpenSource projects available is OpenOffice(.org). While I know there are many people stuck on Microsoft Office and would find the change to OpenOffice a little daunting at first (as with the change from Linux to Windows), most would be surprised to know that much of the way OpenOffice works is similar, if not the same, as Microsoft Office. While Microsoft will try and make OpenOffice sound like the boogyman of the office suites, it is honestly one of the fastest growing and most developed OpenSource projects available. I use OpenOffice to write and spell check all of my writing, both personal and for the web.

For all my plain-text editing I use GNU Nano. It’s powerful, lightweight, runs free on almost any Linux install and it simply just does the job. I link off of my movabletype templated to files so that I can use Nano and personally I think once you get used to it, nothing could be finer. While in Windows I struggle along with Notepad or other variations. Many people have asked me why I don’t use fancier editors, the simple reason s that there is no need for it, if you know your code, you should use something as basic as possible.

Web Publishing
Anyone who has ever read my weblog would know of my love affair with MovableType. While MovableType has cradled me for some time now, I am rapidly considering finding a different backend for this website, due to MovableTypes new licensing system, which is both expensive and restrictive. It is an awesome weblogging utility, however I believe that their choice to change from the OpenSource roots has tarnished them in my mind. I will keep this updated over the next week or so depending on whether I change backends.

While software packages such as phpBB and IkonBoard share much of the attention, personally I think that PunBB is the easiest and most effective forum systems available. It is lightweight, small on resources and big on results. No graphical interfaces, just a simple intuitive design and awesome usability. Possibly the only improvement that can be made is the thread read/unread features of this board.

For my photo albums I chose to use Gallery. Simply put, it is the most developed photo gallery software available. I believe it’s own website said it best; “Gallery is a web based software product that lets you manage your photos on your own website.” Gallery even has an accompanying program called GalleryRemote which let’s you easily create albums and upload photos without using the web interface. I have used Gallery for years now and I will continue using it into the future.

Well I think this is about it. Should I think of any more I may update this entry over the next few days. Until then, bury yourself into OpenSource and see what is out there. Nine times out of ten, if you can pay for it, you can also find it for free. Don’t be scared just cause software is free, it’s usually because the developers honestly care about their product and not the money they could be making with it.