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Personal Trainer – Cooking March 30, 2010

Posted by huymix in Food, Videogames.
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I actually have the Personal Trainer: Cooking package that is in this post (including the “stylish” pouch). I can recommend that you get Personal Trainer: Cooking (if not the whole package) because:

  • The recipes are actually pretty good. I’ve made brownies, apple crumble and sticky toffee pudding based on the recipe in Personal Trainer: Cooking and they all turned out pretty good.
  • It has recipes, step-by-step instructions, videos, shopping lists and calculator all in one. Anything you would need to know about a particular recipe is contained in the software.
  • It’s funny to reference the recipe to a game. So I’ve given out tons of food based on the software and it’s always fun to say I got the recipe from my DS.

I used Personal Trainer: Cooking to help get me more comfortable in the kitchen and it has really helped out. Normally, recipes do not go into such detail so it’s nice for a novice like me.

The Toronto Raptors March 25, 2010

Posted by huymix in Sports.
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I’m a big Toronto Raptors fan and have been following them since my first year of university. I’ve been through the highs (Atlantic Division Champions) and the lows (drafting Araujo, the whole Vince Carter trade). If you are not following the Raptors as an existing fan, I cannot recommend following the Toronto Raptors this year because:

  • Effort. They do not play with a consistent level of effort. They tend to play to the level of their opponent. The problem is if that opponent raises their effort after the half, the Raps do not tend to rise with them. It’s all very frustrating.
  • Chris Bosh. He’s great, but why start watching him now and like the guy only to have him sign somewhere else in the summer? Let’s face it, no matter how great a city Toronto is, America does not cover games here and does not care to. They would rather watch some high school football over a Raptor’s playoff game. This lack of exposure and respect for Toronto pretty much means Bosh is out of here.
  • The Jays are looking pretty good. Young but good. The thing about the Raptors is that they seem to be a low-level Phoenix Suns and have hit a ceiling. I do not think that this group of people can ever play at a championship level. Maybe individually, but not as a team. The team’s potential is at best a second-round exit.

I do think Bryan Colangelo has done an awesome job taking over from Rob Babcock. He’s made smart and risky moves. However, that has not translated to a product that I can recommend to someone who is not already an established fan. Also, I’m sure Chris Bosh is a good guy so I don’t mean to make it seem like he’s being a jerk.

The ’72 of 2010 March 23, 2010

Posted by huymix in Sports, Television.
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It’s sports time here on the Snuhzone. While there plenty of feel good stories about the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, I wanted to talk about what I’ve been calling the ’72 of 2010. If you were watching any of the Olympics you have to know about the gold medal game in men’s hockey between Team Canada and Team USA. This is quite possibly the biggest sports moment I have experienced because:

  • The loss to Team USA was scary. Ryan Miller was unstoppable, and Canada had to go through the Russians and 4 games to win it all. It signaled a changing of the guard between Marty Brodeur (even though in my opinion he is still the greatest goaltender in history) and Roberto Luongo. While, I didn’t like the way Brodeur got handled, ultimately it was for the best.
  • Seemingly everyone in Canada watched this game and was pulling for Canada. Unlike the NHL, a Canadian team never unifies anywhere close to as many people as this game did to unify Canadians.
  • Overtime and the overtime winner by none other than Kid Canada Sidney Crosby. About as storybook of an ending you could ever ask for, but in real life.

The whole tournament was a roller-coaster which culminated in Canadian sports history unlike anything I have seen. If the CTV Blu Ray has this game in full, I will have to get it. A big part of my memory was watching the game communally in a bar with my friends all intensely focused on the game. Everything else just cannot compare.

A Life Well Wasted March 18, 2010

Posted by huymix in Internet Site, Videogames.
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A Life Well Wasted is “An Internet Radio Show About Videogames and the People Who Love Them” made by Robert Ashley (that’s what written above so really I just wasted your time and mine writing all of that). Anyways, even if you haven’t played videogames in a long while you should check out his site because:

  • The podcast. This is the main reason to visit his site. Unlike any other podcast on games, Robert’s podcast focuses on unfamiliar aspects to games and in particular the people. Oftentimes, videogame discussion can be dry as heck (perhaps explaining the popularity of the Angry Video Game Nerd and Zero Punctuation) and stories about people are much more interesting. His podcast is about the people with a videogame backdrop.
  • Posters. He has available custom posters that relate to each podcast done by Olly Moss that are unique and pretty cool. I have the “Why Game” Poster that is in this post hanging in my den.

That’s about it. Normally, I like to have 3 reasons but you don’t really need more than the podcast is excellent. So, go check it out. Dooo it.

27b/6 March 16, 2010

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This week on the Snuhzone, I’ll be looking at some niche websites that you should check out. Today is an Australian website (at least I think it’s Australian) called 27b/6. Here’s why you should check the link:

  • The stories in each are hilarious. I think they are hilarious if you’re less uptight. Uptight people need not apply.
  • Relatable but not really. So what I mean is that I can relate to the motivations behind each story (desire to point out the useless and mess with things in general) but the outcome and method are totally out there.
  • Variety. No two entries are similar. While you can tell they are all from the same guy, each entry is much different than the last. This variety can create some big misses and big hits.

David Thorne compiled a book called “The Internet is a Playground” which is a hardcopy of his entries. I did buy his book but gave it as a present. If you don’t end up buying any of his stuff, at least give his site a couple of clicks, it’s well worth the page views.

Lawless March 11, 2010

Posted by huymix in Books.
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I’ve only recently been back to reading any graphic novels and “Lawless” has been one of the best I’ve read so far. My approach has been just to go to my local shop (Heroes World in Markham! Say hello to Andre and Jon if you plan on stopping by) and asking for any recommendations. I really liked this book because:

  • It’s got a noire/Dirty Harry/Payback feel to the action. Very intense, short bursts of violence followed with a lot of character.
  • It does not unfold the way I thought it would. Seriously, I’ve seen enough that I’m not surprised very often. The way the book ended I did not expect and was happy that it ended that way. For the main character, Tracy Lawless, a formulaic ending would just seem wrong.
  • No baggage on or off the ride. What I mean is I went in with no real preconceived notion of expectation and left without having to remember the fine details for other books. Sometimes it’s nice to have a self-contained story like that.

While I trust Andre and Jon with their recommendations, I was initially skeptical when I got this book. After reading “Lawless” I know to almost completely trust their judgment. Pick this book up and enjoy the ride.

The Killing Joke March 9, 2010

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This week I have a theme of comic book compilations otherwise known as graphic novels. One of the most discussed graphic novels is “The Killing Joke” because:

  • It reveals the “origin” of the Joker (at least to the extent people accept this version). It’s not just the reveal but how the Joker reacts and flashes back to his origin. It’s almost to the point of making him a sympathetic character. Almost.
  • It’s not actually very violent. Sometimes I think fights are just ways of having pretty panels without having the work of story. Sometimes that’s awesome and what you want, and in other times violence in a measured thoughtful way is better. The Killing Joke definitely has its share of violence but it is in service to the character and the story.
  • Ambiguity, the idea that the Joker brings up that he and the Batman are really just 2 lunatics but one likes to think he’s rational is not a terribly new idea. However, the book does have a highly debatable ending. Much like the ending of the Sopranos, it’s up to you to decide how this went. Sometimes this is frustrating but I think the ambiguity fits.

In some ways I think the Joker you saw in “The Dark Knight” is inspired by the Joker in “The Killing Joke”. As great as Heath Ledger’s performance is in the Dark Knight, I feel like I understand the Joker character even better after reading The Killing Joke. Definitely give this book a read, it’s short but sweet.

Hakka Food March 4, 2010

Posted by huymix in Food.
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As with any type of food, Hakka food can be either well made or terribly made. My own experience has been that there is good quality found in these places and if you have never tried Hakka food the local place where you live probably does a pretty alright job. I like Hakka food because:

  • It reminds me of other Chinese food but with spice! I’m used to pretty spicy food so normally Chinese food is pretty tame. Hakka food brings me a spicy version of the food I already like. That is a major bonus.
  • Volume to dollar is more than enough. I’ve ordered about $25 worth from a restaurant that was for a dinner for 2 and got what I think is equivalent to a dinner for 4. I can eat a lot and at Hakka restaurants, I get beat everytime.
  • Clientele. Perhaps it’s the Bollywood movies that are always playing but the Hakka places I’ve been always have the most diverse group of customers. It’s the only style of restaurant outside of the big chain restaurants that really pulls in all groups.

Normally, if you can’t take spice you would probably avoid Hakka restaurants but I think in Canada these places are pretty aware that the average Canadian cannot handle the normal level of spice and offer as a default the mild version. I almost never do order the mild but I would think that it would be at least as tasty as other comparable Chinese restaurants. If you can find one, give a Hakka restaurant a shot, it’s a nice diversion from the norm.

Note: Crarence normally eats Hakka food because his family is from India (I think) and even he said the local place was authentic. That my friends is called cred. He’s got more than just hardcore NERD-cred.

Darksiders March 2, 2010

Posted by huymix in Videogames.
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I’m a hypocrite. I said it, and it’s out of the way. Why am I a hypocrite? It’s because I still give this game an F+ despite not even finishing the 1st dungeon and with no real intention on ever finishing this game. What gives?

  • I gave up on this game because of the same reasons I gave up on all Zelda games (which only really include Phantom Hourglass [didn’t finish the first dungeon either] and Twilight Princess [finished 1 dungeon]). All the other Zelda games I did not even bother playing. I can’t give you a good reason why I stopped playing Darksiders just as much as I can’t give you a good reason why I stopped playing Zelda. There’s something in this type of game that just does not work on me.
  • I do see the quality in the game. What I have played I did enjoy and if you pick up the game you will see the quality as well. Despite seeing the quality, I’m still not going to finish Darksiders.
  • Maybe I’m just a terrible person and not worthy of your time and attention. Maybe.

Alright, let’s bottom line Darksiders. This is a good game. Forget the haters. There is something here that is worth your while. Especially, if you liked the way Zelda is structured. As an aside I do not mean to compare Zelda and Darksiders as there is no real term for the way the game is structured it’s just handier than saying dungeon-based action rpg with weapon upgrading and boss fighting.

Conclusion: If you are already interested in Darksiders get the game, if you liked Zelda and want a badass version of Link then get Darksiders, if you’re a terrible person like me and do not enjoy life than save your money.

MARCH THINKERING: Video Game Reviews March 1, 2010

Posted by huymix in Monthly Thinkerings, Videogames.
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To be honest, one of the reasons I decided to even start the Snuh Zone was my dissatisfaction with videogame reviews. I always found that they were lacking (in general) from a few key areas that can be ironed out. The overarching problem that fuels my thoughts on videogame reviews is a lack of perspective. While most are well-written (certainly better than my writing) the perspective problem undermines videogame reviews.

Unclear/Not Cohesive

To start off, many videogame reviews you might read do not describe a strong opinion one way or another. One of the many ways to detect that ambiguity is the classic “it’s good but….” or “that’s bad but….”. As a reader I just want to know whether or not I should play/buy the game and why. I think the way some reviews go is by starting at a 10 (or the equivalent) and writing down as they are playing various points of deductions or praise. While I have no problem with referencing specific points, that approach is also confusing. Here’s a prime example from Gamepro on Darksiders, “I liked Darksiders enough that I’m going to recommend that gamers try to look past the shameless cribbing of ideas and discover the relatively worthwhile action experience hidden underneath.” From that quote I guess you should pick it up but who really knows.

Inconcise

There’s a reason people tend to just go to the score of a game and that Metacritic is so widely-used. A lot of the writing just drones on and on. 1up.com does an alright job of being relatively concise but even then they do not always cut to the chase. There’s the argument that the review ought to support the score and thus you need a lot of space. The problem is the writing is abstract and it is tough to maintain any level of interest. Giantbomb.com “quick looks” have become popular because people would rather see the game itself and not have to read someone’s attempt to translate game mechanics.

Small Scope Audience

Even within the gamer-collective, videogame reviews tend to write towards an audience that is the hardest of the hardcore. While they definitely have the hardcore gamer as part of their audience, that group of people is still relatively small. To most people all the 133t-speak and other references to other games is almost written off as an insider-language. If all I play is my DS, how does describing Dante’s Inferno as God of War help me understand the value of the game. Or saying, “Wii Play is not a game” while there are plenty of people who think of Wii Play as a game equally and enjoy the heck out of cow racing. If you think Wii Play is not a game than you have got your blinders on too tight.

Impersonal Perspective

Roger Ebert is a divisive critic and there are many who have an opinion as to whether or not they agree with his perspective. Oftentimes, the review is representative of the site/magazine and not really of the person. This dehumanization of the review comes across as false as when Stephen Colbert says “I don’t see race, people tell me I’m white and I choose to believe them”. Everyone knows that any review is a personal view and to not bring up the reviewer more prominently only fuels more “Your site is BIASED!!!111!!”. While many would believe Ebert is biased, it’s trivial to really point that out.

Singular-element focus

Controls-art-music-story-multiplayer. Check, check, check and check. That’s the way a lot of reviews are structured. IGN is notorious for having a ridiculously prescribed structure to reviews. I will often call out an element of a review as well but only when I feel like it is of any interest to me.  Leave that stuff for the academic discussion the masses do not care.

How does all of the above tie-in with the lack of perspective I noted at the beginning? I believe that the reasons behind each of those problems stems from the fact that the decisions to write reviews in that way is not driven by what the reader cares about. If reviews were written with the reader as the primary consideration, you would definitely see much better reviews.