Archive | April, 2013

Microsoft’s Xbox Reveal statement in full.

24 Apr
Here is the official statement direct from Microsoft HQ:
“On May 21st, find out just how much Microsoft hates YOU, the consumer, when they finally throw us all a frickin’ bone to chew on, as they unveil their latest Orwellian nightmare to a world that has got so sick of waiting for information they’ve probably already pre-ordered a PS4.

“Hosted by blithering sycophant Geoff Keighley, brace yourself for a new era of high-definition advertising, where YOU, the consumer, are at the heart of every advert, enabling YOU to interact with your adverts using the new and improved Kinect 2.0, with enhanced eyeball tracking so Microsoft can see those tears of joy cascade down your rosy cheeks and recommend a box of Kleenex for you whilst playing Halo 5: Deathatron Reloaded

“Marvel at the lack of original IP! Be wowed by the soulless corporate greed as Microsoft abandon the very gamers that got them into this position within the industry in the first place. Behold your inabilty to play single player games without an internet connection and get ready as Microsoft rinse you for every fucking penny you have. You ain’t seen nothing yet… because you’ll need to subscribe to Xbox Live Gold in order to subscribe to all the other AMAZING services you can get elsewhere… and for far less money.

“Xbox Reveal. Sponsored by Nestle, Pepsi.Co, and Kraft. Coming May 21st. Exclusively live on Spike TV.”


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Raoul Boat

20 Apr

Hello. This will probably be a short one as it’s late, my mood isn’t much better than it was a couple of days ago and I’m a tad sleepy. We’ll see how we go.

As I write this, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 19 year old, suspected bomber of Boston’s marathon on Monday has been captured by the authorities after being surrounded having taken to hiding in a boat. Firstly, and on a serious note, I must express my most sincere and heartfelt relief that the Boston Police and FBI were able to do this at all. I had honestly feared the worst, given what happened at MIT on Thursday night. It is an amazing feat that they were able to (I assume) talk Tsarnaev into giving himself up at all. The questions I have left though, are about the amount of evidence that they have with which they could charge him with – how much do they have? And will Tsarnaev get a fair trial if charged? What part did he play in proceedings? Was it his older brother who carried out Monday’s atrocity or was he more than an accomplice? Was anyone else involved? Questions that will hopefully be answered soon as well the most important one of all – why? We shall now have to wait and see what unfolds.

What is of concern, is how this has been covered in the media. As a Brit who has been going through something of an insomnia-esque phase recently, I have had time to sit and watch rolling news coverage of this rather dull event. Rolling news channels, particularly when covering a big story such as this, are just dreadful. Sure, the news reader on duty at the time has to fill the air with something. Just don’t keep asking people how many fucking vehicles they can see. It’s television. We can see that. In fact, the whole thing was reminiscent of the ending of The Blues Brothers. It was almost farcical.

But what really twanged a nerve was one BBC News reporter who sounded like the “Gap Yah” man. You know, the guy who just…chundered everywhere! I knew that he was taking the piss with those videos, but I never thought these subjects of our ridicule could actually get a job at the Beeb. The mind boggles.

What was also rather irksome was the blanket coverage given to overweight men with their 1980’s moustaches, huge machine guns (or assault weapons – I can’t remember how US lawmakers categorise these instruments of death) simply standing around looking bored. At first when the cheers erupted in celebration of Tsarnaev’s arrest, I thought the Krispy Kreme delivery man had arrived. Nothing was going on whatsoever. You’d have been hard pressed to believe there had actually been an earthquake in China.  It was just stultifying, yet seemingly the only thing that mattered. I mean come on! Three Americans died on Monday, who cares about all the people who died in Iraq on Monday when 20 different explosions killed over 30 people? And fuck the Chinese, they’re commies. BOO!

The sheer ignorance purveyed by American media has been alarming. Whether it was a Fox News anchor saying over the course of the evening, before the suspect’s capture:

“All sorts of people running in the Marathon will now be running in the wheelchair marathon.”

Or the rather more common running theme over the last 12 hours, that of associating these brothers with Russia as much as possible, despite the fact they’re Chechnyan. CNN referred to them at one point as being from the Czech Republic I think. Ignorance on such a large scale is frightening, especially when it’s being beamed into the thick skulls of those kids who didn’t pay attention to Teacher at school. And perhaps what riled me up even more, was the labelling of the Tsarnaev brothers as terrorists.

Now as far as I know, terrorism is the use of violence and intimidation in order to create an environment and feeling of fear, and most importantly, to further a political agenda. These are two brothers who have apparently been “radicalised” (which no doubt meant they wanted to make things go BOOM! and for people to go SPLAT! That’s what brown people do, right?) based on speculation by those who populate Twitter and the mainstream media & press. And people have lapped it up. As a modern culture and people, the staunch anti-Islamic sentiments that are broadcast as if fact, is problematic to say the least. As for labelling someone a terrorist? Not without evidence please. George W Bush and Tony Blair fall under this umbrella term with far more certainty in my eyes than the Tsarnaev brothers. We knew Bush & Blair’s agenda, and they then went to great lengths to fabricate the evidence (which ironically goes to corroborate my point) in order to justify their murdering of over one million innocent people. Terrorists in my eyes, or to use a less technical term – cunts.

The sad truth is we are becoming more divided as a species, more barriers are being erected between people of different faiths, races and ideologies, and the internet is perpetuating it by giving everyone a soapbox from which to spout their views. As technology progresses, so human thought regresses. The machines we invent, whilst freeing us in some ways, can surely only serve to metamorphose into something far more sinister. What that is I don’t know, but it sounds like something from Adam Curtis’ three-part documentary series All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace. If you haven’t seen it I highly recommend you check it out. It is truly excellent.

Now, my brain is slowly turning into pâté and I should cease my rata-tat-tatting at this ungodly hour. This has not been the most brilliantly structred piece of writing I’ve ever published that’s for sure. The sooner I stop with this drivel the better. Sleep well, especially those of you in Boston. My heart goes out to you all and I hope you never have to go through another week like the one you have now.

Peace, love and I’ll see you anon.

My depression, and the view from down here.

18 Apr

I should be fast asleep as I write this. It is hideously late (or early in the morning) and I am utterly wired. No, I haven’t been at the caffeine or the sweet jar. I have recently ceased drinking coffee after 6pm, and whilst I may occasionally sneak in a cup of tea after said deadline, it rarely happens. Cutting out this pointless but strangely vital stimulant from my evening routine has made me rather grumpy, but I’m aware of it and can manage those feelings no problem. I simply smoke more cigarettes and drink more water, and it seems to work.

No, the problem I have is something which has been the bane of my teens and all eleven years of my adult life so far. It has taken me to places so dark I never thought I’d escape, and perhaps on a couple of handful of occasions, I considered staying there permanently, where no one would ever see me again. Making all the pain go away by submitting. Giving myself over to it. Millions of others are afflicted with this and it is, quite frankly – from a personal point of view – a curse.

I am referring to my “depression”, a word thrown around with such wild abandon today that it has almost become meaningless. Now, I can almost hear thoughts of “No wonder you’re unhappy. Get some sleep!” but unfortunately it is not as simple as just resting your head on a pillow and hoping you drift off into a lazy and beautiful slumber. I am one of those individuals who when feeling low, simply cannot shut down. My mind races like a runaway freight train, transporting my negative thoughts to places I cannot see coming until it is too late. I sometimes envisage acting out horribly twisted scenarios either on myself or on others as a form of catharthis; and then, when my mind comes back to reality, I begin to panic and wonder if I’m actually far more unwell than I initially think I am. It has happened for so many years now that when what I have just described began occuring on a reasonably regular basis (say… 3-4 times a week, but I should add this was when I was younger), what would follow was me breaking down and sobbing. I was weak, mad, a failure. Not worth knowing. My way of dealing with this back then, and very rarely nowadays, was not to eat.

This is one facet of my depression that I and many men, women and young children struggle with – low self-esteem – and mine manifests itself in what I described above. At the age of 29, I am now far more able to manage these thoughts than when I was 19. Now don’t worry I have no intention of pinning it on media, women, my parents, my siblings, bad relationships, being bullied in school or any other example you may hazard a guess at. I wouldn’t express my triggers on such a public forum anyway. It would be very self-serving, but more importantly, doing so would only hurt those that know me. It is also not the reason I am writing this.

2013 is a landmark year for me because it has been roughly a decade since one of the darkest chapters in my life unfolded. Overcoming it (or most of it) mainly serves to remind me as to just how strong I can be. Whilst some may say that’s a great thing, the reality is that when you live with depression, it can act as a reminder of how weak one has been. This last part is what many people don’t seem to relate to and as negative as it reads, I mention it with good reason. It is hard to articulate precisely what I mean, but I hope there are people reading this who know what I’m trying to express. My history is a huge part of how I perceive not only myself but the way others see me, too. We are forever judged by our actions, to put it simply. Does that even make sense?

Anyway, I need to know how weak I can be. As clichéd as this may sound, my “weaknesses” – so to speak – now give me great inner strength with regard to certain aspects of my daily living. I know where the road will lead me if I don’t take stock of them. But, as with all things related to our mental health, it never goes away, and can strike back with a vengeance. It can leave me in bed all day with the curtains drawn, and I lay there crying when I should be working. My mind never rests, and it is an eternal annoyance. It is an itch I simply cannot scratch.

Dwelling on negativity is pretty inherent in those living with depressive/self-esteem/body dysmorphic etc, related issues. I have discovered, however, over the last 18 months I have spent attempting to rebuild myself from the ground up, that my outlook on not just myself, but life too, ascends on a more positive incline. I have addressed matters I spent nine years hiding from, rebuilt bridges I once thought long demolished and abandoned, and it has served to make me, on most days, a far happier man than I was two years ago. But when others choose not to reciprocate, it really hurts. It reminds me of who I was, those aforementioned actions I carried out, and who I could still be. It’s a puzzle that’s for sure.

If anything I suppose I’m now getting to the crux (if there even is one) of what I’m attempting to challenge here. I am a more positive person all round, but only because I’ve taken stock of the things about myself that I loathe. It is the reprehensible behaviours I have acted out whilst ill, particularly towards loved ones (especially family), that resonate strongest. I cannot for the life of me remember who said it, but (and I am paraphrasing greatly here) I feel like we don’t go through life discovering our inner nature, but we uncover it, because it’s already there. Maybe I’ve actually recently uncovered my inner nature (or as much as I can do) and I really don’t like it. Maybe this is the part of me that is finally growing up and coming to terms with who I am. I don’t know. It’s all a bit of a muddle if I’m honest.

What all of the above pertains to is a mystery that I need to unravel. It reminds me that if anything, I need to not be so hot-headed, emphatic with my views (particularly on subjects such as this when discussing it with those not as familiar) and to just relax, and smile a bit more.

What is clear is that this has become rather self-absorbed and introspective when I said it wouldn’t (but then what blog isn’t?), so I should really bring this stream of consciousness to its conclusion.

As you might have deduced, I am low as I write this. It is my awful mood I currently find myself in that is what precipitated it. I need to write in order to try and help understand myself a bit better. It is through expelling these thoughts that I can inform myself of what is really afoot, and make plans to deal with whatever “it” is. If I have informed just one person of what depression can be and how it sometimes chooses to represent itself in those affected by it, then great, but that was not my intention. I actually just needed to clear my head.

Maybe my weaknesses are just strengths waiting to happen. That would be nice.

Till next time.

Contact me

Twitter: @_Heisenbird_

E-mail: heisenbird@hotmail.com

The Microsoft saga continues; Mission accomplished, seven years later…

12 Apr

Afternoon to you all. The sun was out earlier and is now shrouded in grey, but you get the impression it’s doing its damndest to try and force its way out. By the time I’m finished later, it will hopefully have succeeded and I can take a leisurely stroll to greener areas of my ‘burb, notably the park. But this is England. I am deluding myself.

From green pastures of Bristol to the troubled lands of Microsoft. On Wednesday I wrote about Microsoft and how their PR could be best be described as “a tad up the shitter”. I touched upon how they’ve not been helped by their creative director Adam Orth’s rather foolish comments over Twitter defending “always online” technology. Well, you can now make that ex-creative director. Late that night news broke that Orth has now left the company. No other information is available currently as to whether he left or was – as appears rather more likely – told to “just sign here” and then clear his desk.

Well, colour me not in the least bit surprised. If you take to Twitter, start spouting absolute guff about why DRM is apparently a good thing and how we should all “#dealwithit”, then you are quite frankly asking for trouble. Damaging your employer’s image in any way is usually grounds for serious disciplinary action. To do so in a way that makes you and your employer look like a giant herd of bastards (which Orth has succeeded in doing) could mean only one thing: damage control. Microsoft have no choice but to send Orth on his way and one wonders what their next step might be.

Saying nothing probably.

_________________

In other news, I am finally off to see my beloved Arsenal at the futuristic alien spacecraft that is the Emirates Stadium. To say I am excited is putting it mildly. It’s the game against Wigan and is the last home match of the season. It’s only taken me seven years to get there but now I can finally watch my team at their new(ish) home. I cannot wait. I will be back tomorrow with a look at the match against Norwich tomorrow, so apologies for the brisk nature of this post. Busy, busy at the moment.

Have a cracking day and I’ll see you tomorrow.

Is Microsoft’s silence regarding NextBox damaging its chances of success?

10 Apr

One cannot fail to notice the recent influx of rumours surrounding Microsoft’s follow-up to the Xbox 360, codenamed ‘Durango’. Unlike the rumours surrounding Sony’s PlayStation 4 before they officially announced it back in February – rumours which were generally quite positive and then exceeded (particularly with regard to RAM) – Microsoft are going through something of a PR shitstorm.  In light of Sony’s relative openness regarding PS4, Microsoft’s perpetual silence has left fans feeling frustrated, and perhaps worst of all, ignored.

Their problems began when Kotaku ran a story last Thursday in which they claimed that two ‘sources’ – who allegedly have access to early development kits – reported that:

“Unless something has changed recently, Durango consumer units must have an active internet connection to be used. If there isn’t a connection, no games or apps can be started. If the connection is interrupted then after a period of time – currently three minutes, if I remember correctly – the game/app is suspended and the network troubleshooter started.”

The report goes on to say, however, that other developers familiar with the hardware have claimed they are not aware of such plans. Incidentally, the claims of these two sources seem to corroborate a report from Edge back in February that this was indeed Microsoft’s plan for the NextBox.

Then the following day, things took a turn for the worse. Microsoft Studios creative director Adam Orth took to Twitter and staunchly defended ‘always online’ technology.

By now many of you have already ready seen the exchange he took part in with Manveer Heir, a designer at BioWare, so I will not recount it. If you haven’t, a Redditor was smart enough to get a screenshot of it which you can view here. Following outcry from his followers Orth’s account is now protected, for his own benefit no doubt.

Needless to say, comparing an internet connection to one’s electricity supply was perhaps jumping the shark. Not surprisingly, Microsoft were very quick to distance themselves from Orth’s remarks. What they subsequently didn’t do was give us anything resembling a bone on which to gnaw.

But whilst Orth is not a spokesperson for the company (and thus his comments should be taken with a pinch of salt) these comments only add to people’s understandable worries about an ‘always online’ console. As Heir pointed out, it makes one wonder as to whether Microsoft have learned a thing from the woes of both Activision Blizzard and Electronic Arts. It also raises the question, “Do Microsoft listen to their fans?”

So far, so not very good. Monday brought yet more rumours, one being a possible reveal date of 21st May. The second was regarding the cost of the machine. According to respected technology journalist Paul Thurriot (known to have sources within Microsoft) the machine is going to be “expensive” and will cost somewhere in the region of $500 or $300 with a subscription. You can see his interview here.

It is important to remember, that despite another report backing up these claims, all of the above is rumour, conjecture and no doubt some of it is complete twaddle. In 99% of circumstances I would say ignore it. However, after being pleasantly surprised at how accurate the playground gossip about PS4 turned out to be, I would not be shocked if most of what we have read over the last week was actually correct.

And this is my concern – that all of this is true. We live in an age where we now applaud Ubisoft for keeping titles such as Watch Dogs and Far Cry 3 expansion Blood Dragon secret (although that hasn’t stopped hackers from tricking Ubisoft’s uPlay store into allowing free downloads of their games, Blood Dragon included). The video game industry is basically one almighty sieve through which info constantly seeps. Usually the downside of this is that it leaves developers and publishers with nothing to surprise us with. In Microsoft’s case, the ramifications of these recent steady drips of ‘info’ could be of huge cost to the Washington giant’s Xbox division.

The simple reason for this – if true – is their apparent and quite astonishing arrogance with regard to pricing. Seven years ago Sony were severely criticised for what was considered hubris on a grand scale when they announced their pricing for PS3, and the public voted with their wallets resulting in a poor first year or two for Sony. It is difficult for one not to draw similar conclusions this time around.

Microsoft are a business and their purpose is to make money, something they are rather good at. But when you weigh up the cost of $500 for a console, $60 for an Xbox Live subscription and at least $60 for one game? You’re looking at a sizeable outlay come launch. Is it any wonder that most people across forums all over the internet are saying they’ve already decided that PS4 is their console of choice (not mentioning PS4’s apparent technical superiority)? With no doubt huge amounts of money already spent on R&D, production, software development, and yet more to be spent on marketing, if they’ve been paying attention to gamers’ reactions recently Microsoft should be very worried about recouping it.

Whilst we admittedly know nothing about the new Xbox, that itself is also a huge problem. Microsoft are obviously trying to keep us on the edge of our seats, but by not reacting to Sony’s unveiling event and giving us nothing to go on, it reeks of an arrogance that Sony have learned all too well will only serve to come back and bite you on the arse.

If the event allegedly taking place next month does indeed materialise, Microsoft will have to wow us in order to woo us. There is every chance Microsoft could do that, but Sony have done a pretty excellent job of getting not only gamers on side, but developers and press. Their coverage has been extremely positive and if they can keep surfing this wave into E3 – where heavy-hitters like Uncharted and Gran Turismo surely await – then Microsoft could face an uphill battle to keep some of their loyal customers.Their lack of communication to try and keep some of them is also concerning.

Unless Microsoft can blow us all away unexpectedly and prove us all wrong, their aloof behaviour and failure to learn from others’ mistakes, could see Microsoft sailing into troubled waters.

On the other hand, we know nothing about it and should all stop being so negative. Bring on May 21st!

Welcome.

9 Apr

Hello! That’s normally a good way to start most encounters with someone of whom you’re less familiar. It’s nice to meet you. My name is Heisenbird and I have taken it upon myself to begin this blog for the sole reason of…well, why the hell not? We all need an outlet and this shall be mine. The intention of this blog is to hopefully provide another view on a world that is capable of being incredible, stunning, ridiculous, extraordinary, tedious, frustrating and bizarre, all at the same time.

My plan is to illustrate through the power of my words and the unique way in which I arrange them, the joyous absurdity, the tragic beauty and the peculiar wonders that this world throws at us. These might range from my perspective on current affairs, technology, art and all the other guff that gets splashed across newspapers and home pages every day, to the more obscure, delicious curios that nestle deeper underground and which require uprooting for our examination and if possible, enjoyment. If anything, this will simply be my daily column.

Of course with an exercise such as this there is inherent risk. That I might offend, say something I shouldn’t, get a fact or two wrong or just generally twang a nerve the wrong way. This is not my intention and if so, I would like to make it clear that I am more than happy to receive your feedback and views. If I deem it necessary, based on your feedback, I will alter/remove any content that is deemed incorrect or, from a rather more selfish point of view, anything that may require my presence in the dock! Bear in mind that this is merely one individual’s opinion and thus, is not intended to reflect the views of anyone else.

If I can encourage debate amongst you, then more power to you. We are a far more connected species than we were twenty years ago. If I can plant a seed that grows into something that unites people in constructive and thoughtful chatter, than I shall be happy. Simple. Other times that may not happen at all; I may just prattle on about a dream I had involving Michael Buerk, Axl Rose and a large block of Cheddar cheese. You have been warned.

Had I had the impulse to set up this blog a few hours earlier, I would have shared my thoughts on the obvious and unmissable story of the day: the passing of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. As things stand, I am too tired, I have work tomorrow and it is late. If I start now I would be up until the flatulent sparrow releases his morning valve, ruining any chance of me being awake in time and more importantly, actually being able to do my day job. Given that this opening post will be going live after midnight, I would expect there to be two posts on Tuesday. The one you are currently reading, and the other which will go live in the evening. Oh, and expect the appearance to change over time as I tweak and fine tune it.

So, I have set out my stall and now I must retire. This bird needs his nest. Good night.