Category Archives: Opinion

Phonebloks could be the responsible future for mobile phones. Or the responsible future of awesome Lego phones.

Also: super cool.

Electronic devices are generally not designed to last. Inevitably they fail and then you’re stuck looking at either hundreds of dollars in repair costs from some sort of “Genius” or having to replace the phone entirely. This is particularly evident with Apple devices where both the software and the hardware are part of a closed system. There are some customisation options when you purchase a device, but if one part ends up failing it is often difficult and expensive for Regular Joe to replace the part. It’s usually easier to just throw it out and start again.

This is causing a huge problem for a number of reasons. It’s unbelievably expensive to replace the whole device instead of simply repairing the faulty part. Yes it’s easier and if you have more money than sense then I guess it’s not really a problem but with most new smartphones sitting around the $600-800 mark that can get seriously expensive. Particularly if you’re in the habit of dropping phones into toilets or smashing the screen as a lot of people are wont to do.

It’s also wasteful to just discard the entire device if only a part of it is faulty or no longer performing at the level you require. But because so many consumers don’t possess the technical know-how (or the devices are specifically designed to limit end-user modification) they’re often not left with a lot of options. Let’s also not forget that smartphone manufacturers like Apple work on a system with built in obsolescence. Usually after 18 months of a phone release there will be a new system designed to work on a new OS which is increasingly less compatible on older models. Try running iOS 6 on an iPhone 3G or 3Gs if you want to see what I mean.

Enter Phonebloks, a concept for a completely modular smartphone made from a series of “bloks” that are attached to a central base. Do you like taking a lot of photos with your phone? Then why not replace the blocks for bluetooth or the compass to free up some space on the base for you to install a better camera. Or if you do a lot of work in the cloud you could reduce the size of the on-board storage blok and opt for a bigger battery. Finally parents around the world could be living the dream of having a modern phone “that just makes calls” and children around the world could give their eyes a rest from all that rolling they’ve been doing every time they hear that same…joke? Is it a joke? Do they think it’s funny? I don’t know, the point is they can stop and the world would be a better place for it.

Every component, including the screen, is completely replaceable

Every component, including the screen, is completely replaceable

It’s a really clever idea and it allows the end user to be entirely in control of the phone they are buying. You wouldn’t have to compare the different HTC models (what are there, 500 now?) to find the one that best suits your needs. You could just build the phone you know you want to use now.

All smartphones come with their own app store where you can purchase and download different applications for the OS, Phonebloks would run a similar model for hardware with their Blokstore. If your needs change and you need to change the configuration of your bloks you just order the new bloks from the store and when it arrives you send them back your old, unwanted bloks. This is where the cool tech meets environmental responsibility. At least as far as they’re claiming on their website, this system is designed to minimise e-waste, since you’re not actually throwing out electronic devices. They don’t actually mention it at all on their site but there may be a market for used bloks but eventually they would have to have some sort of plan for responsibly disposing of or recycling the outdated or damaged bloks.

It seems their first prototype design would be roughly the size of an iPhone 4

It seems their first prototype design would be roughly the size of an iPhone 4

This is just an idea at this stage, the phone doesn’t exist and it’s going to be a difficult uphill battle to make it exist. The Phonebloks website contains information about their plan as well as a link to “Join the Thunderclap” where you essentially sign up for a giant, worldwide social media blast. The idea is to make hardware manufacturers pay attention and see that there is a demand for such a product. I am usually very cynical about these sorts of things but I want it to exist so bad because my phone contract expires soon and I want a goddamn mobile phone made out of Lego! So sign up for the Thunderclap, it requires about the bare minimum of effort on your part to support a really cool project and it’s cheap as free (the support, that is, who knows how much the phone would actually cost?).

Anyway, this advertorial was brought to you but Not Enough Sleep, Overenthusiastic Nerd Excitement, and Phonebloks®: The Phone Of The Future For Today™©.

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Feel like smiling?

It’s hump day so wrap your eye-holes around this video of a live lip-dub proposal. Be sure to keep an eye on her reactions in the top right corner.

Enjoy sobbing like a baby by the end of this, I know I did!

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Podcasts are go!

So after months of thinking about but putting off making a podcast, it has finally happened!

I have teamed up with a uni buddy, James, and later on we should be joined by previous contributor, Jack.

The podcast is called, rather cleverly, the Eclectic Dynamite Podcast and it covers much the same stuff that I cover here on the odd occasion that I actually post anything.

It’s a pretty rough first episode but it should improve as we get more familiar with what it is we’re actually doing. Think of this as more of a pilot episode.

You can find it and subscribe to the RSS feed here and it has been submitted to iTunes so hopefully it will be up there soon as well.

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Supanova 2012 Gallery

So I went to Supanova today. For those that don’t know, Supanova is a pop culture expo that brings film, TV, comic book and regular book stars to Melbourne.

I’ve never been to a convention like this before so I thought I would give myself a bit of a challenge and try to photograph as many cosplayers as I possibly could.

Little did I know that the vast majority of cosplayers at the show were dressed as anime or manga characters so this is just a small collection of photos I took of people dressed as things I know. ENJOY!

Oh there are also some sweet Lego pictures. DOUBLE ENJOY!

 

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So I went to the Midsumma Carnival Day

There was a pretty big crowd and lots of live music. D-D-D-DJ!

Spread over 70 different venues all over the city, the Midsumma festival is Melbourne’s annual celebration of Queer culture running from the 15th of January to the 5th of February.

Today I was lucky enough to check out the Midsumma Carnival day, a gigantic “picnic in the park” that kicks off the festivities.

I was shattered to find out that I got there too late to witness Dulcie’s Dog Show with Dolly Diamond, a show with categories such as Cutest Bitch, Sexiest ‘boy’ Dog, and Biggest Tail. However, between the different musical acts, the numerous free samples to be had at the stalls and the guys from Joy 94.9 live broadcasting, I was hardly left wanting for entertainment.

I decided it would probably be for the best if I didn't fish for STIs...

The carnival was only on today, but if you missed it fear not! The festival has only just begun, so if you’re at all interested in Queer culture and the celebration thereof check out the 2012 program here.

Gallery

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Top Ten Games of 2011

The “Shades of Gray” Edition.

Alright, more listicles for you to sink your teeth into! This is part one of a four part series of “best of 2011” type articles. Starting with games, I’ll then move to films, music and finally books. I might even sneak in some guest lists as well!

I play a lot of video games but I couldn’t get around to playing everything that came out this year and some of the games on this list I didn’t even finish. However, the few I did not finish, I played for at least 10 hours and the fact that they could beat out games I have finished based only on those 10 hours should say something. Anyway, without any further ado let’s get into it.

10. Jetpack Joyride

God damn if iOS games haven’t been ruining my life this year. Jetpack Joyride is a little gem from Halfbrick Studios, the Australian developers responsible for the equally fantastic Fruit Ninja. In Jetpack Joyride you play as Barry Steakfries as he tries to escape a secret lap with a machine-gun jetpack.

I love Cuddles the dragon.

The game is super easy to play but gets incredibly difficult as you fly further and further with your jetpack. Combine that with different missions you can complete on every run and a series on unlockables I found it almost impossible to put this game down until I had unlocked everything. Case in point, about two days after throwing down the $0.99 for the game I had already sunk over 15 hours into it. I think that fact alone ears it a spot in my top ten!

9. L.A. Noire

Oh L.A. Noire, what a strange beast it is. The game used a “revolutionary”, brand new technology for recording facial animations and the developer, Team Bondi, hired real, recognisable actors to bring the characters to life. Without a doubt L.A. Noire has the best facial animations bar none and this is double important because the game relies so heavily on the reading of facial cues. Also the recreation of 1940’s Los Angeles is just dripping with noirey (totally a word) atmosphere

However, the somewhat ambiguous interrogation mechanics and the repetitive mission structure is one of the reasons why I am yet to actually finish this game.

8. Dead Island

Definitely not a game for the squeamish

This game really had no right being as good as it is, and it is far from perfect but it has one of the most unique first-person melee systems I’ve seen.

It takes a while to get the hang of but I found that the analogue combat actually drew me in more and made fighting off hordes of zombies about as realistic as a video game can.

Also I can’t get enough of the opening cut-scene rap – in a totally ironic but not really ironic way – “performed” by one of the characters, Sam B.

7. Batman: Arkham City

Who would have thought that within the space of a few years we would have received not one, but two fantastic Batman games? Certainly not me, that’s for sure.

The series of Batman games coming out of Rocksteady Studios have managed to do something that no previous Batman game has done. They’ve managed to make you feel like Batman.

The combat really makes you feel like a bad-ass!

I wasn’t a huge fan of the open-world stuff in Arkham City, it just felt like it was completely unnecessary and wasn’t particularly fun to navigate. However, once you enter a building you’re back to that amazing gameplay you first experienced in Arkham Asylum, and I can’t get enough of that.

6. Warhammer 40,000 Space Marine

Despite being given one of the most generic video game names ever imagined,

Unsurprisingly, these guys are pretty heavy

Warhammer 40,000 Space Marine does something unique: it got the feel of a Space Marine spot on. Captain Titus has a certain weight to his movements that just feels right for a character that is essentially an eight foot tall walking tank.

I have a deep love for the Warhammer universe and Space Marine was the first non-RTS Warhammer game I’ve played and actually enjoyed. So, props to Relic Entertainment for that!

5. Deus Ex: Human Revolution

A dirty cyberpunk world with cyborgs where you play a super cyborg that can explode like a claymore? Sign me up!

But really, the best part of Deus Ex: Human Revolution is the dystopian world in which you get to explore. Transhumanists versus pro-human protesters, industrial espionage and lots of “shades of gray”.

It’s unfortunate that the combat is easily the weakest part of the game and yet it is central to defeating bosses and progressing the story. However, I’d be happy to revisit that world just to hack into more computers and read people’s emails.

4. Bastion

God damn you, Supergiant Games, your game is so good it hurts! Bastion combined beautiful art, fun gameplay and amazing music to create what I think is not only the best downloadable game of the year, but one of the best straight-up games.

If you haven’t bought this game yet then you are a fool and owe it to yourself to rectify that situation immediately.

3. The Witcher 2

Easily one of the best looking games of the year, particularly running on an up-to-date PC.

Many people complained about the difficulty of the combat and it’s true that the game does a terrible job explaining the combat systems to you. The Witcher is a vulnerable dude. You can’t just run into combat and hack-and-slash your way to victory. You have to plan, be cautious and use every tool at your disposal, which I found incredibly satisfying.

He's going to need a bigger sword!

The Witcher 2 also present a dark, gloomy fantasy world filled where everyone is kind of an a-hole and every decision is the wrong decision for someone. 2011 was all about shades of gray, people!

2. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

I know, I know! Skyrim isn’t my game of the year? It shocked me too. Skyrim seems to be the game that Bethesda has been trying to make for years, and they finally got it right. Oh did they ever get it right!

Skyrim was the first game this year where my jaw actually dropped from the sheer beauty of the world they have created. On a PC with everything turned up to “ultra” settings it is simply stunning.

If it weren't for all the war, generally poor hygiene and racism, Skyrim would be a lovely place to live!

The main quest was somewhat disappointing but everything else in the game was a delight. Also, lots of fantasy racists and more of everyone’s favourite: shades of gray.

Skyrim was going to be my Game of the Year until I took a giant purple dildo to the knee…

1. Saints Row The Third

I love this game dearly, it’s the only game I played that let’s me roll around in an open world with an auto-tuned pimp or jump out of the cargo hold of the plane only to free fall back through the cockpit of said plane, through the cabins and then back out the cargo hold again, all while shooting dudes in the face. This game is always turned up to 11.

The shooting never gets boring or frustrating like many games of its type and the sheer lunacy of the world you inhabit is intoxicating.

Did I mention there's a TRON level?

Comedy is such a hard thing to get right in video games. People have tried and tried and tried and never got it right. Saints Row The Third makes it seem effortless, there was never a moment in this game where I was not smiling or outright laughing and that goes a long way to making this my game of the year.

Oh also Burt Reynolds…

PLAY SAINTS ROW THE THIRD

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