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sortius
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
I'm a gamer, geek, photographer, and lover of cooking.
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19 July 2010

Dinner - Rack of Lamb w/ Potato Roshti and Broccoli Pumpkin Mash

I decided a rack of lamb would be a good idea for dinner after spying rack of lamb with thyme in Larousse Gastronomique. I've mentioned this book before, and I swear by it as a must have if you enjoy cooking. The claim on the back is "The World's Greatest Cooking Encyclopedia".  While this may seem like a big claim, it's well warranted.

I figured some nice potato roshti would go well with it instead of the usual mash. What to do with some broccoli and pumpkin I thought. Well, I came up with the Broccoli Pumpkin mash. It turned out great and really held together the whole meal.

Rack of Lamb with Thyme


Ingredients:
2x racks of lamb, lean
100g bacon
500ml vegetable stock
1.5 to 2 bunches of thyme

Method:


Sweat bacon in a pan large enough to hold the 2 racks. Seal the racks for 4 to 5 minutes, season with salt & pepper. Remove both bacon & lamb from pan. Pour away fat and deglaze pan with 500ml of Vegetable Stock and allow to reduce to 1/4. Chop bacon into small pieces. Put racks into baking dish, cover with thyme and bacon, pour over reduced stock. Wrap in aluminium foil tightly and cook in 240°C oven for 10 minutes.

Remove serve racks with strained juices over top.


Potato Roshti


Ingredients:
4 medium potatoes - Desiree or the like
enough oil to shallow fry roshti

Method:

Really simple, grate potatoes and put in tea towel or cheesecloth. Wring out as much liquid as possible. Form handfuls into circular shapes about 1cm to 2cm thick. Over a medium heat shallow fry the roshti until golden brown on both sides.


Broccoli Pumpkin Mash

Ingredients:
2 medium heads of broccoli, florets and peeled stems
1/4 of a small pumpkin
4 medium cloves of garlic, peeled but not chopped
handful of finely chopped parsley
50g butter
500ml vegetable stock

Method:
Microwave pumpkin, broccoli and garlic in butter for 15 minutes in 5 minute bursts. Keep an eye on them, you want it cooked but not murdered. Once cooked, add all ingredients except the parsley to a blender and blend until fairly smooth. Pour into pot and heat up. Add salt & pepper to taste, add parsley, serve.
18 July 2010

Breakfast - Crêpes with Ratatouille and Pancetta

I spied in an Aldi catalogue a crêpe maker and was most intrigued. I asked the better half if we should get it, seeing as our kitchen is FULL of appliances, while regularly used, not quite the norm for a kitchen. She agreed, so I swung by Aldi the other day after geeking it up at Jaycar. While the device lacked the crêpe spreader, I was still determined to use it.

The crêpe maker isn't anything special, nor is it an 100% correct maker - it has a lip so it's a little harder to make a proper crepe. I ended up making a new crêpe spreader of 2 pieces of dowel, and used that.

All in all it's not a bad little cooking device, especially for the price ($20). I can see use for making pancakes and thin omelettes.

I decided to make a decent breakfast with it, Crêpes with Ratatouille and Pancetta. Not a bad combination, simple and tasty.

Recipes as follows:

Crêpes (from ffcook.com):


Ingredients 
200 gr [7 oz] flour
1 egg
1/2 liter [17 fl oz] milk
25 gr [1 oz]
melted butter
2 pinches salt

Method :
Put the flour, salt (and sugar) in a salad bowl, dip a shaft and put
the (whole) egg in. Turn with a wooden spoon and add the melted
butter. Turn gently until you have incorporated all the flour
(add some milk if you need but just enough). Now that the batter
is soft but not liquid you have to turn very sharply so as to eliminate
the lumps and obtain an homogeneous mixture.
Finish pouring the milk slowly while turning.
Leave the batter for at least one hour before cooking.

To prepare :
Turn the batter. Heat a non-stick pan, put a light knod of butter in
(swirl the pan to distribute the melting butter ; the pan must be hot
enough to hear the butter fry but not too hot for the butter must not
get brown !), pour a small laddle of batter on the pan while swirling it
to distribute the batter evenly (this is the important trick !).
Don't forget crepes must be very thin ! Cook until golden brown, turn
the crepe upside down and cook the other side the same way.
Put it in a large plate, stuff it and fold it into 4, or roll it.
Do that again for each crepe.

Ratatouille (from Larousse Gastronomique)

Ingredients
3 Tomatoes
1 Eggplant (aubergine) (small)
1 Capsicum
1 Zucchini (courgette)
1 Onion
2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1 Bouquet Garnis

Method
Dice all ingredients to about the same size. Cook Eggplant in olive oil until lightly browned, add everything else, cook for 30 mins or so. Add salt & pepper to taste.

This is my smaller and simpler way of doing Ratatouille

When the batter is ready & as is the ratatouille, make the crêpe flipping twice, on the rough (top) side add a small amount of ratatouille and pancetta. Fold in all sides to make a parcel. Voila, Crêpes à la Ratatouille et Pancetta.
13 July 2010

Internet Censorship In Australia

After the recent shelving of the internet filter in Australia, I figured I'd get my thoughts out there for others to mull over. I'll start off by giving people a reference as to who I am and why I have come up with my opinions on the subject. I am not going to go into the moral debate, merely the technological debate.

I am a geek & IT support worker who has been in the industry for 15 years or so and have had a passion for IT systems for most of my life. I grew up in the days of modems and BBSs, where the exchange of data was not known about by most, let alone monitored by governments. I've seen the internet change very much, but have also seen a lot stay the same.

My first thought about filtering any sort of network is that if you are smart enough, or know someone smart enough, it will never be effective at stopping you from getting what you want. Some of the first filtering systems put in place by parents on home computers were so ineffective that children and teenagers bypassed them without the parent's knowledge within minutes of them being installed. It's no secret that any sort of filtering requires massive amounts of time and energy to just keep blacklists up to date.

Filters, by their very nature offer opportunities to test one's own abilities to bypass them. When I worked for a large telco we did this all the time, the network was very locked down, but we still managed to get through the filter. How? Well, that's another story. Restricting any group of people will just serve to drive illicit activities further underground, and believe me, there are more ways to hide your activities than basic website proxies. The arsenal available to people who wish to conduct themselves illegally is amazingly large. From VPNs (Virtual Private Networks), to encrypted messaging, to encrypted file sharing systems, they all allow anonymous and secure communication.

"Why would this be a problem?" you may ask. Well, if traffic is not encrypted it makes it much easier for law enforcement personnel to actually provide evidence of illegal activities. When information is encrypted, all you can see is where the connection originated from and where it is attempting to connect to. This is made even more difficult by people using VPNs. All you can see is two legitimate connections, no suspicious activity is observed at all.

This brings me to another problem I see with this debate, that there is an assumption that no legitimate activity will be disrupted by the filter. Understanding how filters work, having administered quite a few in my time, I can assure you that EVERYONE will be affected by this. No matter if you're only using social media, or just checking emails, you will not be able to escape the grip of internet filtering. Networks are complex beasts and adding any sort of checking will consume more and more processing power to the tiered routers that connect different networks to each other. The more processing power used, the longer it will take for data to move. There are wide reports that the internet in countries such as China and Iran, that observe massive filtering, is unbelievably slow. No matter how fast the end users' connections are, you will be impacted. A general rule of networking is that the speed of a network is governed by the slowest point on the network, which will be the filtering system essentially.

This will almost definitely have an impact on ISPs (Internet Service Providers) ability to deliver fast, cheap internet to the end user. More staff and more expensive equipment will only serve to raise prices of your connection. There has been no discussion of how users or ISPs will be compensated for such a situation. It seems that Stephen Conroy has not even put any thought into this at all, and judging by his comments on the filter and other technology, I doubt he even understands the full technological implications of filtering.

To have such an ignorant plan that is being decried by such a large proportion of technology companies and experts leads me to believe that the filter is purely just pandering to the Australian Christian Lobby.

While I have a lot more to say on the subject, I think I'll leave it there. To summarise:
  • Filtering does nothing but slow down networks
  • Any filtering can be bypassed with simple tools and protocols
  • The filter has not been looked at from a technological point of view by the government
  • The filter is being used as a way of getting the ACL on board
  • No one benefits from filtering - not law enforcement, ISPs, or end users
Some links you may wish to look at:


Benjamin Franklin said it best:
They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety

Recipe - Baked Beans

I came up with this recipe a little while ago and have been meaning to post it up. It's kind of a mix of various different baked bean recipes, and a bit of a BBQ sauce recipe thrown in. The chipotle is not important if you have good quality smoked paprika. Any meat products (bacon, Worcestershire Sauce, etc) can be removed, although not recommended.

Ingredients

1 to 1.5Kg Haricort/Navy Beans - soaked for 24hrs prior to cooking.
2x 400g Tins Tomatoes
4x Onion
4Tbsp Smoked Paprika
4Tbsp Sweet Paprika
4Tbsp Brown Sugar
4Tbsp Molasses
2x Green Chili
1/2c White Vinegar
1/2c Worcestershire Sauce
6 cloves garlic
250-400g bacon cubed (smoky, good quality)
1Tbsp sumac (optional)
small block of dark chocolate (chili choc if you can)
2Tbsp Chili Sauce (optional)
1 Chipotle Chilli (optional)
salt
pepper

Method

Saute 2 onions & Green Chilis in a little olive oil or butter.

Add to blender with tomatoes, brown sugar, molassas, paprika (both), garlic and some pepper.

Blend, add to large pot (big enough for beans & bacon), add vinegar & worcestershire sauce to pot. Cook over a medium heat for a few minutes.

When slightly thickened, add beans, bacon, remaining 2 onions, chocolate, chili sauce, Chipotle Chilli and Sumac if required.

Add 500ml of water and cook over a low heat for 8 to 10 hours. Regularly stir the beans (every 10-20 minutes) to stop them burning, add more water when the sauce starts to thicken. Add desired amount of salt. Cook until sauce has thickened.

Enjoy with some nice buttery toast.

11 July 2010

Mass Effect 2 Review


I decided to get Mass Effect 2 the other day, mainly because I really liked Mass Effect. I was waiting out the price drops and so forth so I could grab it cheaper than the $100 they want to charge here in Australia.

I must say, I'm quite pleased with the result. Unfortunately my profiles were lost last time I reformatted my machine, so I didn't have the option of playing through as one of my previous characters. This didn't matter much, although some interactions are changed due to not having a frame of reference to what you did in the first one.

The game is similar, but there's been some quite big changes to the morality & leveling system. The most notable changes are that you no longer decrease Paragon with Renegade choices, and vice versa. This is quite welcome as with Mass Effect you had to be very careful what you said or you would end up cancelling out previous work. While it is recommended that you focus on one, it is not necessary. The leveling system has done away with making the powers tiered (to a degree), and now gives you two options when you have maxed out one power/skill.

It seems that with one hand they giveth, and the other they take away. Gone are the horrible Mako (the bounciest vehicle in the universe) missions and single scan of planets. You now scan planets in a sonar style interface to recover minerals that can be used to upgrade your character & squad members' armour, weapons, biotic/tech skills and even the ship. The new system removes all inventory in favour of standardised weapons & armour with upgrades such as damage, shield penetration, range, health increase, shield size, etc. While the planet scanning was quite boring, it was much less frustrating than landing on a planet only to find you and your team didn't have the necessary skills to decrypt/analyse something. After a few upgrades it becomes easier allowing for more probes and faster scanning. The hacking system has changed too, no longer relying on skill points but on your own knowledge of how the hack works. The "mini-games" are much smoother and more enjoyable to do - whether it's rewiring a circuit board or finding code snippets, much less frustration than in Mass Effect.

I can see they tried their hardest to remove what was complained about while enhancing what was great about the first game. The combat is more of an on rails cover shooter, which I don't really have a problem with as it has been implemented quite well, although I did have some frustrations due to the run/interact/cover being the same key (space bar in PC). I died quite a few times because I took cover in front of something while stealthed and became unstealthed with 4 or 5 enemies around me.

Now that we've got the gameplay out of the way, I want to write about the plot. This is a biggie, and Bioware haven't held back at all. The first Mass Effect had a solid plot that really drove gameplay and the sequel has continued, and dare I say it, improved on the narrative that the previous game gave us. Sure, there's a few cheesy parts, but I think that's what makes the plot so good. Bioware know when to add in cheesiness to get the right Sci-Fi feel to it. It's got the same driven feel as Star Trek and the likes.

I personally think there's bigger morality choices in Mass Effect 2 than in the first game, really challenging your concept of right and wrong. To the level of raising some interesting questions - is it "racist" (speciest?)to enforce our concept of right and wrong as humans on other species? The whole plot culminates in a massive morality choice at the end, leaving you questioning yourself and your decisions. No spoilers, but you really need to play all the way through to have a true understanding of where Bioware wanted to go with this.

All in all the game feels very much like an interactive film that's broken up with combat sequences. The driven plot, well written dialogue, and smattering of Hollywood actors (Martin Sheen, Seth Green, Carrie-Anne Moss, to name a few) does really make me feel that Mass Effect & Mass Effect 2 go beyond the concept of an RPG to give us a blend of film, shooter, RPG and philosophical exploration.

I am about to do a second play through using the same character to level her even further. Although my fiancée may get the shits with my "militant lesbian" character (she seems to think this is a fantasy of mine, I have no idea what she's talking about). The only misgiving I have about the 2nd play through is that you cannot change your class at all. Big bummer, but I suppose I can always roll a new class later.

All in all I am quite impressed with the game and would recommend it for any RPG fan who wants a bit more action in your RPG. One thing I will say is that this is NOT a kids' game. The concepts will go over their heads and all you'll get is a foul mouthed child from it.

Available now for Xbox 360 & PC.
08 July 2010

Kane & Lynch 2 - Exclusive Demo


Yesterday I got my hot little hands on a Redeem Code for the Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days exclusive demo. I found it odd at first that you had to have a Redeem Code to play a demo, after all, demos are what showcase the game before you buy it. I was sceptical that there would be any added value in this.

To my surprise, the demo seems to be a lot "bigger" than other demos I've come across. So maybe there is something in these "exclusive demos" after all.

Aside from the delivery method, I must say, I'm impressed with the new game so far. I played the original Kane & Lynch, it wasn't great, then again, it wasn't horrible. The story was actually quite good, for a cheesy criminal story (two dudes escape from prison, one goes nuts unless he has his pills). The new one seems to have them in Hong Kong for some reason, this has not really been explained in detail, just that the HK cops are on your arse and you need to kill everyone you see.

I did notice that the faces of people you kill get blurred. I saw a video of the demo a week or so ago and I thought the blurring was done by the site showing off the demo. Not so, it seems that people find it offensive to see the face of a dead person, but dismembering said person is A-OK!

Anyway, I'm not that far in to it, but it's looking pretty good. I'll reserve judgement until the full game comes out.

Cheers 1up for the Redeem Code.
07 July 2010

127 Minutes I Won't Get Back

So, I got bored and decided to watch the 2009 version of Star Trek, aka Lens Flare in Space, aka Twilight in Space.

Well... I just don't know where to start really. I'm not sure what was worse, the over acting, the insane amount of lens flare, the inconsistencies explained away by it being an "alternate reality", or the bald face bullshit they've used instead of science.

I suppose I'll start with the lens flare. Really... it needed THAT much? I finished watching it and felt my eyes hurting. I've NEVER watched a movie or played a game and had my eyes hurt like this. Never when I was semi-pro and played Counter-Strike for 16 hours a day did I have such eye discomfort. It added NOTHING to the movie at all. Abrams has this to say on the subject:

"I know there are certain shots where even I watch and think, 'Oh that's ridiculous, that was too many.' But I love the idea that the future was so bright it couldn't be contained in the frame."
Holy shit, did he say that? Yes, he did. It was one reason I avoided watching this. I mean, the guy is a complete moron, and this can be seen from his claims to fame ("What about Brian" & "Felicity"). How can you be that stupid to think that aiming flashlights down barrel will give you some sort of mystery to the film. It just adds to the discomfort of the viewers, who are already feeling cheated by the complete disregard for canon.

Which brings me to another gripe. Inconsistencies. Suddenly the team of idiots at Paramount know better than Gene Roddenberry, they can change what they want at a whim. So long as it gets the tweenies in. No longer is Kirk a strong forthright man, but a whiny kid who has nothing better to do than pick fights in bars. McCoy is no longer Kirk's closest friend, Spock is. The Enterprise is somehow the most modern design. The Romulan ships no longer look like Romulan ships. The list goes on. I'm no HUGE Star Trek fan, but I like it and enjoy the consistencies. All of these inconsistencies are explained away in one phrase... alternate reality. What The Fuck?

I could rage on for pages about the raping of Star Trek, but I won't. I want to get on to my biggest gripe. The lack of ANY scientific research done prior to writing the plot.

This is immediately obvious from the first few minutes of the young Kirk being introduced. Somehow the Enterprise is being built within Earth's atmosphere. How a space craft designed to be optimised for space, and space alone, can be built on Earth and gain escape velocity without being ripped apart is beyond me. This is no space shuttle, this is a ship that's over 2km long (now that Abrams decided to change it... hold the rage, hold the rage).

Apart from this, somehow a supernova can destroy a galaxy, a black hole is completely visible, and ejecting your warp core into said black hole can cause an uncontrolled explosion to help you escape. I'm no astrophysicist, but to my knowledge if you can't beat an event horizon with controlled use of energy, you can't beat it with uncontrolled use of said energy. Actually, to my knowledge, you can't beat an event horizon point blank. If light, space, and time can't escape, neither can your explosion.

There's a lot to be picked apart that doesn't even require you to research any science. How can you find wood to light a fire on a frozen planet? How do you climb a sheer ice cliff without any sort of ice pick or ice boots? It's the magic of JJ Abrams.

This all said, the plot is weak, the acting is so bad I almost stopped watching about 15 minutes in. I pushed on just to make sure I can say "I've seen that piece of shit, and you can go fuck yourself if you want me to watch it again".

Happiness Abounds - Chillies Arrived Today


Well, I'm one happy chappy today. I ordered some chillies from Monterey Mexican Foods in Sydney, which I do on occasion. Why would I order chillies when you can get them from the supermarket? Well, these are no ordinary chillies.
As a bit of a food wanker, I can be a puris
t at times, and nothing says purist like ordering chillies in specifically for Mexican and southern American food.












Ancho - A sweet, almost caramel flavoured chilli originating from Mexico. The smell from the bag is that of a rich toffee, not much heat normally, however can have stupid amounts of heat.








Habanero - This one's the hot one. Rating between 2nd and 3rd on the scoville scale, this chilli sure packs a punch. With caramel and citrus undertones, this chilli can be a saviour of a Mexican dish if used correctly. I grow these fresh, but seeing as it's winter, I need to get them dried. Big warning, DO NOT buy these and attempt to be an hero. Last time someone did this in front of me they passed out and started vomiting. Needless to say, they were sick for days after just one.










Chipotle - Basically these are smoked Jalapeño chillies. I do buy them just dried, however for most applications canned in adobo sauce works out well. They have a mild heat, little to no sweetness of other chillies, and an amazing smoked aroma.









So there you have it, I use all three types of chilli in my Chilli con Carne (Chilli with Meat), and I feel it makes the dish delicious. If you do intend on using the Habaneros, I'd suggest having some dark chocolate on hand to help bring down the heat. I usually use 3 or 4 with about 2kg of meat (beef or goat) in my chilli, which adds quite a bit of heat, even with 1/2 a block of dark chocolate in it.

Anyway, I suggest using Monterey Mexican Foods to get these as Karen, whom I have dealt with, offers great customer service and will do the utmost to help you out.

Stay tuned for my Chilli con Carne recipe next week. I change it each time I make it, but you'll get a general idea of my style.
06 July 2010

Dinner - Bacon & Cauliflower Soup

Shamelessly ripped from Rebecca's post on www.apinchofhealth.com. FYI, I didn't grab it because it was low-carb or anything. Just seemed like it'd taste good.

I added the bouquet garni.

Ingredients:

1 tbs olive oil
250g bacon rashers, finely chopped.
2 large leeks, trimmed and sliced
600g of cauliflower florets-small
OPTIONAL: 2 medium potatoes- peeled and chopped- would be okay without it-maybe add some more cauliflower?
6 cups of chicken stock
salt and ground pepper
bouquet garni (Parsley, Thyme wrapped in a bay leaf and tied with string)
1/3 cup of cream
grated cheese

Method:

1. Heat oil in saucepan. Add bacon and cook, stirring often, for 3-4 minutes or until tender. Remove 2 tbs of bacon to a plate and set aside. Add leeks to pan and cook, stirring often, for 3minutes until soft.

2. Add cauliflower, potatoes, bouquet garni and stock to pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and bring to boil, stirring occassionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, for 30-35minutes or until veggies are tender. Remove bouquet garni.

3. Using blender or food processor, puree soup until smooth and return soup to pan. Warm soup over low heat. Stir in cream (don't boil!). Serve soup topped with reserved bacon and grated cheese.

Goes well with a Pane di Casa or other mediterranean style bread.

The Holy Trinity of RPG

After a recent post on the Star Wars: The Old Republic site showing off the multiplayer combat system (source), and the ensuing trollfest that seems to be squarely aimed at the use of a trinity (damage, heal, tank - DHT) system in the game, I thought I'd post some of my own thoughts.

Firstly, I've been gaming for well over 20 years, I can remember playing my first game on a Mac Plus back in 1987. While this may not qualify me to be an expert on gaming, I do feel that my experience gives me some insight into gaming.

I've seen franchises come and go, even seen them come and not go when they should. Gameplay can be seen in mainly two parts, solo or team based. While not all games adhere to this, a majority of games do.

I'll focus mainly on team based games in this post, as this is what we're looking at.

When you look at how team based games are designed you can see that a majority of them are aimed at a trinity style gameplay. From Team Fortress 2 to the Battlefield series to World of Warcraft, there seems to be an aim to bring a team together by giving people options to fill the trinity of roles - Damage, Heal, Tank.

Why? Well, it's natural to have this kind of system. From Dungeons and Dragons to modern shooters, it's always smart to have the person with the highest health or mitigations taking the damage, for someone to be giving health to the group, and for others to be damaging, crowd controlling, or lowering enemies' mitigation. It's human nature to do the best for your tribe, so why should it be so different in games? I know there are games out there that are team based and don't offer all of the roles described, but people still try to fit into them anyway.

I think to condemn a game that has not even reached closed beta for using the trinity is just delusional. With all the calls of "it's just like WoW", well, I say "WoW is just like Everquest" and "Everquest is just like Ultima Online" and "Ultima Online is just like D&D", the list can go on. Why? Well, the trinity has been around for a LONG time, longer than computer games. It's even a valid tactic in war. Pikemen up the front, Archers to the rear, and medical staff keeping people in the battle.

I'm not sure my rant has done anything other than show I feel strongly toward not invalidating gaming mechanics that have been around for years (centuries?). If you do not wish to play with the trinity of gaming, then don't play a team based game. I'd suggest something like Bejewelled, no healers, or tanks... or even damage.

iPhone 3G Jailbreak - Why I did it

I held off jailbreaking my iPhone for a long time as I saw no need to bother. Updates came regularly, there was no difference between the 3G updates and the 3GS updates (apart from apps that required physically different hardware), and the phone did all I wanted.

So why the big change of heart? Well, to be quite frank, iOS4. There were promises of backgrounds, multitasking, and a new gaming service via the iPhone. This all sounded great, until I received the developers release of iOS4. Sure, the game service was there, but no multitasking and no backgrounds. Why? According to Apple, the 3G can't handle such features, so they turned them off.

So I was given four options:
  1. Upgrade to a 3GS and have it outdated in a month
  2. Wait a month and buy an iPhone 4
  3. Move to Android
  4. Jailbreak my iPhone
Option 1 wasn't going to happen, I don't invest in already outdated technology. Option 2 was quite viable until I started seeing stories of antenna problems on the iPhone 4. Option 3, well, I was very tempted (and still am), but feel an Android tablet would be of more use. So that left me with just one option.

While I'm not going to jump on the "iPhone 4 is shit" bandwagon, I'm also not going to jump head-long into the purchase of a device that has known problems. As I'm writing this a new story has come up abo
ut the iPhone 4's proximity sensors not working as intended (link).

So, I set off using redsn0w's jailbreak. It was quite simple to do and seems to have had no lasting ill effects on my iPhone. I now have multitasking (runs fine, so Apple was telling porky pies) and backgrounds (again, porky pies on Apple's part).

My theory on the whole restrictions of the iOS4 update is to ensure the sales of the iPhone 4 are inflated by people rushing out to get the features they can't have on their 2 year old phone. I know that my next phone will not be an Apple phone unless they smarten up their act. Apple has moved from the nice guys to Microsoft's evil twin. Steve Jobs makes Steve Balmer look like a mild mannered marketer by comparison these days.

All in all, if you have an iPhone 3G and were going to upgrade your phone to an iPhone 4 for iOS4 features, consider a Jailbreak. Your phone will be out of warranty, so no harm there, and your iTunes sync/apps/etc all works with the Jailbroken phone. If Apple wants to play this game, we can all chip in and play it better than them.

Split/Second Review


Well, I must say, I've not been this annoyed by a game since Dirt 2 came out. From the onset the claim that you're in a TV show that will be watched, I kid you not, by "billions of people worldwide", just annoys me to death. I tried my hardest to get by this, but it really isn't easy when between races you have the same annoying reality TV show voice overs.

This is supposed to be a racing game, but it really doesn't feel like it. The races seem to have been devised purely to showcase how many explosions one can kick off, not your racing skill. The cars control like you're driving a gummybear at 200 km/h, the drifting that you are supposed to do has no relationship to the stats of the car (some have high drift but make no difference on maintaining speed or starting drifts), and the controls are focused around creating the Michael Bay-esque explosions everywhere.

While this may seem fun, the novelty wears off when you realise no skill in the world will allow you to win if you actually want to race. It's all about luck, pumping your "power" to do "power plays" (blow shit up), and hoping to god the AI doesn't decide to randomly pop one just before the finish.

Gameplay aside, the game does look very polished, the cars don't look too bad, but the big downfall is that there are only 2 views available - near behind and low bumper. Both of which I cannot stand.



All in all this didn't hold my attention for very long, but merely served to piss me off to no end with cheesy voice acting, muddy car handling, and no real tactical racing to speak of. If your game collection is too full and you are somewhat of a masochist, go ahead and buy it. If you want a decent racer, avoid this at all costs.

Available for Xbox 360, PS3, & PC.