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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Max Payne & Games - Update - 23.07.2008

Well, visiting IMDB today I searched for a movie I've been wanting to watch, and it seems IMDB has got news about it. The movie is "Max Payne", made after a 2-series PC Game which was one of the most successful games of it's time and genre. The "Max Payne 1" game from July, 2001 has received a 9.2 GameSpot rating, and an "Editor's Choice" award. Two years later, "Max Payne 2: The Fall Of Max Payne" got released for the PC, in October, 2003. It received a 9.0 rating on GameSpot and got another "Editor's Choice" award.

The good news are plenty:

1. October 17th, 2008 (if it won't be changed) will be the premiere of the "Max Payne" motion picture, starring Mark Wahlberg as Max Payne.

2. They're coming out with another Max Payne game, "Max Payne 3 - Working Title", on which GameSpot doesn't have much info, besides that it's being worked on.

3. If we are still talking about video games, "experts", "gaming sites" and so on think that "StarCraft 2" will be released by the end of this year, meaning October 'till December 2008. We surely hope so, or at least, I for one do. Other sites "say" that the release date is 26.09.2008. We'll just have to wait and see.

4. Surely, if you're a gamer, you should try the following game: "Portal" (c) Valve, the makers of Half Life. Here's a little trailer to keep you occupied. Give it a try, it's addictive and one of the "smartest" games I've ever played. It also has a 9.0 rating on GameSpot and an "Editor's Choice" award.



Saturday, July 19, 2008

Lan Party

LAN PARTY

I am gone for the weekend to a lan party hosted at a friends' house.
I recommend you have some fun also, or maybe do a lan party reunion yourselves.
Have fun!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Thermaltake!



This is my new PSU.


Thermaltake 470W PSU


The internet is working as it should once again.
I will be back with more post (interesting or not) when I have the time.
Until then, check my previous post on my OLD backup PSU, and now this one. And no... I didn't bought ASUS. Now only the PC case and the CPU Cooler left.

Voltages:

+3.3V --> 3.34V
+5.0V --> 5.02V
+12.0V --> ~11.96V

It's WAY better!

Tassadar aka. David over and out.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Witcher (PC)

Well, I started playing a game today, that didn't seem like my style, but I like it. It's name: "The Witcher". Graphics are gorgeous, surroundings and atmosphere is beautiful, the soundtrack is astonishing and the only bad thing in my mind about this game is that the dialogues are tone-less. I'll let you read the review from GameSpot.

The Good

  • Dark, foreboding world that looks, sounds, and feels lived in
  • Fantastic story populated by realistic NPCs with realistic problems
  • Innovative new combat mechanics add depth in place of mindless clicking
  • Cinematic visuals and a superb soundtrack.

The Bad

  • Could have done a better job introducing the new combat mechanics
  • Odd dialogue and somewhat cheesy voice acting.

Don't be afraid of change. Even though The Witcher may scare off some people with inventive combat that replaces comfortable old rapid-fire clicking with rhythmic sword swinging, there is no need to avoid one of the deepest, most adult role-playing games to hit the PC in years. Polish developer CD Projekt has crafted one of those landmark games that moves the goalposts for everybody, a truly grown-up take on swords and sorcery that breaks just about every fantasy tradition in the book. Once you experience a grimy medieval world so realistic that you can practically smell it, quests that reject simplistic good and evil for ambiguous "decisions and consequences," and, yes, newfangled battle mechanics that add welcome twists to left-click scrapping, you'll find it awfully hard to go back to the usual D&D rip-off.

Built on a 2007 edition of the Aurora Engine that powers Neverwinter Nights, The Witcher is something of a cross between action RPGs such as Diablo and more complex plate-mail potboilers such as Neverwinter Nights. Essentially, the developers work both sides of the street. On the one hand, you have exactly one character choice in the form of greasy-haired Geralt of Rivia, the monster-hunting mercenary "witcher" of the title, along with other ostensibly dumbed-down features such as big bunches of combat and Gatling-gun-quick leveling up. But on the other hand, you also get a postwar fantasy world called Temeria that feels lived in (if not postapocalyptic), as well as plot points that involve serious moral choices. Story and setting have been borrowed from The Last Wish, a Polish fantasy novel published way back in 1990 by Andrzej Sapkowski, and for once such an adaptation has been pulled off successfully.

Although there is a fair bit of saving-the-world RPG claptrap involving a powerful evil mage and a mysterious group called the Salamanders, you deal with a lot of lowlifes. Woman-hating religious fanatics; merchants who deal in abducted children; slatternly bar wenches who'll bed down with you for a bottle of wine; witches who sell poison and play with voodoo dolls; racists who openly hate nonhumans and threaten to kill elves and dwarves. Make no mistake: Although there are a lot of traditional, Gygaxian monsters on the prowl here--barghests, wargs, ghouls, drowned undead, vampires, wraiths, wyverns, and loads of different demons--the biggest enemy that Geralt faces is always his fellow humans. You're not much of a hero, either. Requests for assistance can be turned down. Money is always a factor, even when you decide to be a good guy and lend a helping hand. And you have no problem taking advantage of just about every woman you encounter, having pre-marital relations with a handful of babes in every act of the game despite apparently being in love with one of your fellow witchers.

It shouldn't be much of a surprise that the line between good and evil here isn't a very thick one. Everything is a murky gray. The first act is simply astonishing in how it plays out. You start off trying to track down the bad guys who raided your witcher fortress and killed one of your pals, but soon get involved in a feud that pits the religious leader and nobles of a hamlet against a witch. However, nobody's hands are clean. One merchant you deal with is in cahoots with the evil cult you're hunting. A guard you help with a ghoul problem turns out to be a rapist. The village priest you're helping cleanse the region of a demonic dog called "the Beast" is actually a misogynistic lunatic. And the witch isn't much better, given that she's sold poison used in a suicide and employed a voodoo doll to make one of the local bigwigs kill his brother. By the end of the act, in a showdown complete with burning torches and pitchforks, you're forced to choose between the woman-hating, rape-loving, cult-affiliated mob and the murdering witch. It makes the most sense to side with the witch because the villagers are an awfully sleazy lot, but doing so forces you to slaughter virtually all of them and leave their town burned to the ground.

So no, The Witcher sure isn't all sunshine and lollipops. But even though you might need a few Prozac pills to handle the game's bleak tone, the story becomes incredibly compelling when you have so much riding on your actions. Characters seem like real people, not the good-evil-neutral triad of stereotypes that populate most fantasy games. Only a few aspects of the story and setting remind you that you're just playing a game.

A lot of this is probably due to poor translation from the original Polish. Dialogue seems truncated in many spots, which leaves you in the dark as to character motivations. You know something important has just taken place, and the interface clearly points out what you're supposed to be doing, but the big picture doesn't completely come together.

Swearing and bizarre word choices are another issue. One moment you're cruising along listening to fairly standard RPG conversations, and then you're hit with out-of-the-blue modern slang and "F" bombs. It's pretty jarring to hear the leader of your witcher band calling a female team member "babe," let alone to hear Geralt disgustingly grunt "Abso-f***ing-lutely!" Voice acting often lacks authority as well, which highlights these strange lines. Fellow adventurers look like grizzled warriors but sound more like high schoolers. The actor who voices Geralt tries too hard, like a kid attempting a deep, gravelly voice so he can fool the counter jockey at the corner store into selling him a six-pack. Likewise, the youngest member of your group has all the gravitas of Potsie Weber (for a reason, it soon turns out).

Interactions between the sexes are also risqué in a corny way that would rev up only Beavis and Butthead. It's ridiculous enough that the side quests in every act let Geralt get horizontal with virtually every woman he meets, but it's just pathetic that each conquest is rewarded with a playing card that depicts the lovely lass in a come-hither pose. There isn't even any real payoff with these pics, either, given that the nudity that appeared in the European version of the game has been censored due to prudish Stateside sensibilities. (Thank you, Hot Coffee controversy.) At any rate, the sex is ludicrous and out of place, and is apparently there only to give game geeks hope that a fellow guy with lanky, unwashed hair and corpse-pale skin can score with hot babes.

The game's mechanics are a little more reserved, although CD Projekt has tried to slightly jazz up everything that fantasy gamers take for granted. Combat mechanics are the biggest change. Instead of the traditional left-click attacks employed by virtually every other real-time RPG this side of the cult-hit Gothic series, melee fighting here is based on give-and-take combos. You click once on an enemy to begin an attack sequence, then click again precisely when the sword-swinging ends to begin a second flourish, and then again and again to string together combos. Miss your moment at any point and it's back to square one.

This sounds pretty simple, but it doesn't work so well at the beginning. The game starts with few unhelpful tips on how to fight on all three difficulty settings, and on hard there is no obvious visual feedback indicating when to click again to link a second attack to your first. You're supposed to take click cues from a twirling sound and visual indicators like a flaming sword slash, but this information is buried more than 20 pages into the manual. In order to figure things out from a hands-on perspective, you need to play on easy or medium difficulty, which removes all doubt about when to click by turning the combat icon into a flaming sword. Then you pretty quickly pick up on the visual and audio cues provided during Geralt's actual fighting. When you do get used to things and want to try a more challenging difficulty setting, however, as both easy and medium are a little elementary at times (aside from some of the boss battles), you have to restart the game. Still, even with the poor introduction, it's hard not to love the combat system. Battles are only a little more involved than the standard clickfest stuff, yet the mechanics always make you think about what you're doing and provide real satisfaction when you take out tough foes. Attacks also simply look cool, especially when you're jumping around slinging your sword in all directions in the middle of a pack of monsters.

Three different fighting styles as well as a skill system with more listings than the Manhattan yellow pages add to the cerebral workout. You can change your battle stance between fast, strong, and group, each of which makes you better able to handle speedy, muscular, and gangs of enemies, respectively (the last of which lets you make sweeping swings that hit multiple bad guys at once). The one catch is that these styles can be employed only while wielding witcher steel or silver swords, which makes a lot of the other weapons that you find during the course of the game pretty much useless. Each style can also be tweaked with the talent points earned every time that you level up (which happens early and often; expect to cruise beyond level 30 before wrapping Geralt's adventures). All of your other characteristics can also be upgraded, from your attributes to your abilities with both types of witcher sword, as well as your aptitude for the signs that make up the game's spellcasting component.

Every category has five levels, and each sports four different related skills. For example, you get started in strength by taking the basic level-one ability to buff attacks and then move on to specific proficiencies such as Cut at the Jugular, which increases enemy bleeding damage after successful attacks, or Bloody Rage, which boosts damage done by 40 percent whenever your vitality dips below 15 percent. CD Projekt even shows a bit of a sense of humor with some skills. For instance, buzz means that your attacks are improved when drunk. The only negative with the skill system is that it seems to force you into a jack-of-all-trades configuration where you're talented as both a warrior and a spellcaster. Consequently, players who like to hardcore specialize in a class are out of luck here.

At any rate, magic isn't actually as big a deal here as it is in most other fantasy RPGs. The five signs featured are fairly generic takes on the elements and the basic D&D schools of magic that let you blast off fireballs, charm enemies, set up protective globes, and that sort of thing. Basically, the signs just give you alternate attacks with the right mouse button. More mystical depth is provided by alchemy. Witchers are notoriously good with magical concoctions, and as such Geralt can acquire various recipes that let him brew up potions and oils that heal, enhance weapons, and so forth. It actually seems as if you're really cooking something up, too, because you have to meditate before an open fire (you level up and assign talent points in the same fashion). However, as with most of these brew-your-own systems in RPGs, you don't have to get too involved with the creation of your own noxious chemicals, aside from the odd quest that makes doing so a key part of fulfilling an objective.

As you might expect from the grim moments catalogued above, The Witcher is pretty dour when it comes to look and sound. The Aurora Engine has never looked better, and it's hard to believe that this thing dates back to Neverwinter Nights in 2002. Landscapes are generally gorgeous, and the characters are all distinctive (if a bit cartoonish), but the graphics deal in awfully bleak scenery. Many stone buildings in the game are either run-down or falling down. Villages consist of ramshackle huts constructed with wattle and daub and topped with straw roofs. Skies always seem to be a dim steel gray, and rain pours down pretty much every other day. NPCs are filthy, and often come with various scars and minor disfigurements. There are two main camera angles, over-the-shoulder and isometric, although the former is the best choice because it provides the best perspective on everything. The controls are smooth even close-up.

Audio effects and music are perfect counterparts to the look of this shattered world. Little kids skip around while talking about death and playing crude pranks like pissing in the dwarf's bellows. Women can be overheard setting up assignations with their lovers. And all of this is surrounded with subtle, creepy tunes loaded with offbeat tones and sparse organ notes. The superb soundtrack is particularly effective at night; the gothic organ plinking under the moonlight makes you shiver like someone just walked over your grave.

Memorable story, immersive combat, fascinating characters--what's not to like? A few fit-and-finish issues mean that The Witcher isn't quite an all-time classic RPG. Regardless, it's awfully, awfully close, warts and all, and it provides a new benchmark for future developers that are looking to lift their games out of the done-to-death elf-and-orc ghetto.

Editor's Note: The original review text stated that the tutorial did not display visual cues for combat on the normal difficulty level, which is incorrect. GameSpot regrets the error.

By Brett Todd, GameSpot

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Offline

Unplugged

I ran out of Internet tonight. I've written a post from my cellphone, but got a connection for a short while and can update it as it should be updated.

I am looking for anyone who can loan me for a week - a week and a half an RDS FiberLink Arad account, until I can re-enable my own. I will repay you for your time and help.

Until I can figure out a way or get a stable/loaned connection that I can use all the time (until my own is up), this blog will be left un-edited and un-updated.

If you have any info or can help me, please feel free to email me at tassadar.online [at] gmail [dot] com. You know how to connect the pieces.

Tassadar aka. David over and out - for a more prolonged time.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Romania is my... country

Everybody is talking about Romania and how bad the corruption is. Everybody IN Romania already knows this. Nobody can be heard, if someone tries to speak, they're shut down. I sure hope the July report of the EU will strike hard, like a comment said.

Please, read along, and embrace this nightmare that is Romanian Government & Public and Justice system. Wherever you go, if you need something from the most minor thing (parking ticket canceling) to a serious problem (operation, hospitalization) or a financial one (loan), you have to bribe a cop, a doctor or some people in banks.

This is the country of all possibilities, where your average salary is 200-300 EUR and the cost of winter heating alone is 150EUR (if you don't really turn it on, just leave it at med-low). And the prices are going up. And the payroll... isn't. It would be better if not more and more private firms would pay minimum-wage to people for 8+ hour jobs, it would be better that the minimum-wage would be somewhere over 200-300 EUR, not below. And it would be better if when you get a month's pay, more than 30% would be tax and stuff like that. Sometimes a lot more. But hey, it's the country of all possibilities. It will still be like that 10 years from now, because everyone's too lazy and too corrupt "up there" to want to come down. They feast on the little guys. They get 1000 EUR salary per month, and they already have villas and starting firms. Oh well...

Read on, I'll post the comments from the site that published this article.

The European Union conceals Romania’s backsliding on corruption

HOW bad is corruption in Romania? Somebody well-placed to answer is Willem de Pauw, a Belgian prosecutor who is a veteran European Union adviser on the matter. Last November he wrote a report that concludes: “instead of progress in the fight against high-level corruption, Romania is regressing on all fronts…if the Romanian anti-corruption effort keeps evaporating at the present pace, in an estimated six months’ time Romania will be back where it was in 2003.”

This report has not been published (it is now available here). The European Commission’s report in February was a lot softer. “In its first year…Romania has continued to make efforts to remedy weaknesses that would otherwise prevent an effective application of EU laws, policies and programmes. However, in key areas such as the fight against high-level corruption, convincing results have not yet been demonstrated.”

That falls far short of admitting that Romania’s authorities are willfully failing to co-operate. Some of Mr de Pauw’s most striking examples did not appear in the official report either, or were buried in footnotes. Mr de Pauw confirms his authorship but refers inquiries about it to the commission. Officials say he was consulted on the issue. Their February report, they add, was a “factual update”, not an assessment of Romania’s progress. That will come in a fuller report later this month.

It would be encouraging if this included some of Mr de Pauw’s points. One hot example is the cases that courts have sent back to prosecutors since Romania’s constitutional court struck down an anti-sleaze law. Mr de Pauw’s report said that “basically all” high-level corruption trials had been rebuffed by courts, which it was “statistically impossible to attribute [to] the coincidental occurrence of procedural mistakes in individual cases. Other factors than legal-procedural considerations have clearly played a major role.” He added that “the Romanian judiciary and/or legal system appears…unable to function properly when it comes to applying the rule of law against high-level corruption. Indeed, more than five years after the start of Romania’s anti-corruption drive, the public is still waiting for one single case of high-level corruption to reach a verdict.”

Events also support Mr de Pauw’s warning that Romania could soon regress to the level of 2003. Take the case of Adrian Nastase, a former prime minister charged with several counts of corruption and bribery. He has now been exonerated by the parliamentary committee on legal affairs. A lobby group, the Initiative for a Clean Justice, complains that “we are witnessing the transformation of parliamentarians into judges and of the judicial committee into an extraordinary court.” A full parliamentary vote on the committee’s recommendation has been postponed until after the EU’s July report. But Mr Nastase and his supporters are already considering a presidential bid in 2009.

In retrospect, the EU relied too much on individual politicians to back Romania’s anti-corruption drive, notably Monica Macovei, a much-admired justice minister. She was fired soon after Romania joined the EU in January 2007. Membership made the political elites feel they were off the hook. Mr de Pauw offers a bleak verdict. “Many of the measures that were presented, before accession, to be instrumental in the fight against corruption, have been deliberately blunted by parliament or the government immediately after accession…all major pending trials concerning high-level corruption, started just before accession and only after many years of hesitation, have now been aborted and are, most probably, definitely abandoned for all practical purposes.” He also cites the weakening of the role of the National Integrity Agency, meant to limit politicians’ conflicts of interests and verify their assets, and also amendments to the penal code before parliament that will “fatally affect” the investigation of corruption.

All this, he says, shows “the intense resistance of practically the whole political class of Romania against the anti-corruption effort”. Mid-level Eurocrats, as well as some foreign diplomats in Bucharest, agree. The problem is that countries such as France pushed to get Romania into the EU early for their own reasons, whether financial or geopolitical. And the political pressure may now be to cover up, not expose, the problem. If the EU’s July report on Romania is as anodyne as the previous one, suspicions will only grow.

The comments are very good also:

Random Commentator wrote:
July 03, 2008 18:40

Romania has zero chance to develop as long as crony network trumps free competition.

The answer is probably to look at the details of post-communist legal system, firing corrupt top judges and implement some independent control of procedures.

However, any solution must be forced on Romania from outside, against protests of local networks of corrupt politicians, judges and common bandits. They will loudly complain at evil West trampling East European cultural traditions, or something.

YoDaddy wrote:
July 04, 2008 04:23

Truly, Romania shall solve its huge corruption problem only if solutions are enforced upon it from outside. High-level corruption is only growing stronger here, as years go by. The effects are down-pouring on the lower levels of public administration, so that I can safely say that Romania is, right now, a deeply corrupted country, where a lot of the public services are fueled by bribes.
That many years, that many cases, not one conviction, ever.

Even the current Romanian president, Traian Basescu, was previously involved in a trial regarding the naval fleet of Romania, that simply... vanished (this is not a joke) while he occupied the Minister of Transportation function. He ran for president and got the mandate. In the "Fleet" file, there were no convictions. The ships are still missing... Traian Basescu is the president of Romania...
I rest my case.

YoDaddy wrote:
July 04, 2008 04:26

PS: Hope the July report will strike hard.

mihai_t wrote:
July 04, 2008 04:27

@ Random Commentator

The problem is that the "outside" Western world is happy to do business with Romania no matter how high corruption is. Case in point, the recent construction boom happening all over the country (most of it fueled by foreign investors' money) couldn't have persisted without corrupt Mayor Halls officials "closing" their eyes as old, architecturally valuable houses are being demolished to bring up new residential complexes and shopping malls.

Agentia de Arbitraj wrote:
July 04, 2008 06:25

This country has no market economy, most SME's (all sme's have to be associated to former or actual employees of the interior and administration ministry or other government affiliated agencies or entities)are in financial trouble, and the EU funds will never be accessible to them as long as the state agencies employees in charge of administering the projects and disburse these fund require 40% commission (bribe) up front in order to process project requests. The corruption is rampant and obvious, being covered-up by the EU institutions and officials for reasons that lead to the suspicion of general fraud and bribery. I think that substantial bribes are being given to MEP's and EU political parties, via NGO's and various other so called "legal" means.

V.K. wrote:
July 04, 2008 08:50

what do you expect from politicians who name a park in bucharest after the former dictator of azerbaijan and father of the current one?

Vlad Coman wrote:
July 04, 2008 09:34

Corruption has always been a part of Romanian life, but it only really developed into what it is today during the communist era.

High-level corruption is the most visible, but not the only type of rampant corruption in this country. Anyone coming to Romania should learn the word "spaga" (bribe) - it simply defines how things work in everyday life.

Romanians perceive the following categories of people as being the most corrupt: politicians, ex-Securitate, police, doctors and teachers (yes, doctors and teachers). But at the end of the day, there are very few people who wouldn't try "spaga" as their way out of a problem. Whomever denies this has not lived here.

Back in 2004 when the current president won the elections, some people actually believed that real change would come about. Mr Basescu is famous for (figuratively) promising to "impale the high-profile corrupt" on stakes in Piata Victoriei - but that hasn't happened.

The only two people who tried to do something about corruption, Justice Minister Monica Macovei and DNA Chief Daniel Morar, have come under heavy fire from all sides of the political spectrum, and were ultimately prevented from doing their job. Politicians were terrified at the prospect of their fortunes being investigated, or their powers restricted - so it didn't matter what party they belonged to, they all kept voting against judicial reform in Romania. It was just unbelievable to see Macovei fired after accession, for "not complying with her party policy" i.e. not giving in to pressure. She was replaced with a young political puppet who, of all things, is now faced with corruption charges!

Meanwhile, there is no politician in Romania without a profitable business behind him. Simple people fall for the same old rhetoric while paying for an incompetent, inefficient and corrupt administration. And it is corruption that is driving the country's gifted young away from politics, administration and other critical factors for change.

It may sound dramatic, but that's how it is. Romania needs decisive action, but it doesn't look like it will come from within any time soon. There is simply no political figure that can inspire and drive change, no one that the people would respect and follow. These are bad times for out country.

Catalin Z wrote:
July 04, 2008 11:05

Those who participated first hand in the rapt of public assets in Romania never lost their grip on the political power, the source of corruption and of arbitrary diversion of wealth from public to private pockets. Even after 2004, the year when the SPD party of former communist president Iliescu went into opposition, the power never left the corrupt hands and their representatives in Parliament and Government. The governing National Liberal Party broke the anticorruption alliance it formed with the Democrat Party and, instead, allied itself with the representatives of the old corrupt SPD government. Today, there are three parties that form the governing majority in Romania, the National Liberal Party, Social Democrat Party and the Conservative Party. This alliance, never validated at the polls, is led by the cronies of high corrupt Romanian moguls, former members of Securitate and high rank officials of the former Communist Party, people who participated in the robbery of former state banks, robbery of former state assets through the so called privatization process, robbery of state budgets and, recently, robbery of EU funds which will surely continue in the years to come, should they keep their hold on power after the next elections. This alliance always opposed any judicial reforms, sacked those who promoted it and drafts a new penal legislation that transforms Romania into a true Camorra-like state, where high rank corruption will become immune from a legal system which, many say, does not even exist in Romania. All eyes are now focused on the reaction of the EU officials in their next report on the state of the Romanian judicial reforms, and whether it will finally sanction a corrupt state and a corrupt system of clientele that always changes its colors but never changes itself. It is, after all, the people, the "new Europeans" that suffer the most from corruption under the indulgent and sometimes blind eye of EC

Calul Balan wrote:
July 04, 2008 11:18

Having lived in Romania and run a business there for almost a decade, I sold up and left this year. The volume of corruption simply had become too great to withstand. At every level, people expected "favours" and bribes. Unless bribes are given, firms cannot obtain EU grants or business loans. Meanwhile, EU funds are disbursed according to bribes rather than merit, tilting an already warped playing field in favour of the corrupt. The system is loaded against honest behaviour: no wonder most people give up and embrace corruption. Unfortuately this corruption provides a "trickle up" system (as opposed to the "trickle down" that the EU no doubt hopes for), where ordinary Romanians' already low incomes seep into the hands of the corrupt elite.

Another aspect is the way that the elite manipulates "EU laws" in their interests. Look at tourism. Now every guesthouse in Romania requires an "EU standard" kitchen using stainless steel hotel equipment. A farmer who wants to offer bed & breakfast accommodation needs to invest 10,000 euro+ in kitchen equipment simply to be licenced. An estimated 45% of guesthouses are said to have closed or gone under the radar in 2007 alone. Who wins? Not the citizenry or the tourists! No, just the elite who own the overpriced hotels. It's another potent form of corruption: mis-using the law to force ordinary people out of business.

I do wonder whether anything can be done? When ordinary people bribe train conductors to let them travel ticketless, bribe the police to let them off speeding tickets, pilfer from their employers, and so on, I suspect that the average Romanian - somewhere in his or her psyche - feels that corruption is useful at a personal level.

Having seen what we EU taxpayers are funding - "grants" that are no more than handouts to the corrupt elite and its cronies - I say that the EU should turn off the funds immediately. Then we the donors can start to dictate terms for spending OUR money. If the elite won't agree, OK. If they don't want to adopt European norms of conduct then the EU can set its boundary at Hungary's eastern border. That step is likely to save Europe a great deal of time, effort and money.

DNA1 wrote:
July 04, 2008 13:26

EU forced Romania to join for their own interest. Same with USA and NATO. Now EU do successful business in Romania. They don't care about coruption, they care about their money. From time to time a second hand politician from EU brings the matter of corruption again and again...Who cares about corruption in Romania? When you see the shape EU & US are in today, would you care about Romania and its own internal problems? I believe not.

Original articles: zoso & economist.com

Friday, July 4, 2008

Blizzard WWI 2008 Highlights, StarCraft and Ghosts

The 2008 Blizzard Worldwide Invitational was a complete success, and this may not be my last post about it. Myself and all of the other people across the globe and in Paris, France, had the "honor" to watch the first three games of StarCraft 2 multiplayer live (myself - webcast, people in Paris at the WWI - live). I was excited and that multiplayer "tournament" was a surprise, since they decided it on the spot, and it wasn't announced prior. Besides that, it just made all the StarCraft Universe fans to be more eager for the game, and wanting it to come out sooner than later is not just my wish alone, but the wish of thousands and thousands of fans. After the announcement of Diablo III, everything went crazy. There had been rumours that the game is being made, but this time it was official. I'll leave you with some videos to see for now, because words are just useless at this moment.


Blizzard Worldwide Invitational 2008 Highlights


Blizzard Worldwide Invitational 2008 Day-One Wrap-Up



And since we're talking about StarCraft, here's something to keep you warm from StarCraft 2, because, let's not forget, when it will come out, it'll me a massacre.


StarCraft 2 Trailers
     


And long forgotten, as a Ghost of the past, there is, still, StarCraft: Ghost. Little miss Nova is never forgotten by those whom awaited this game to get out. But alas, it was canceled. But with Blizzard developing 3 games now already, I wouldn't be surprised if StarCraft: Ghost will be announced in the future. Because you never know. The idea is good, the gameplay CAN be good, since technology has evolved so much since 2003, and I for one would enjoy blasting some units in an up close and personal manner via StarCraft: Ghost. So Nova, we are waiting for you!


StarCraft: Ghost - Official Movies
     



StarCraft: Ghost - Official Trailers
     

     


Tassadar aka. David over and out.

Blizzard's PROs and CONs (From WWI)

Gamespot did a little interview with some of its people, about what they think about the Blizzard Entertainment Worldwide Invitational 2008 held in Paris, France, and about what they think about the announcing of Diablo III and the soon-to-come Blizzard games, StarCraft 2 and World of Warcraft Expansion: Wrath of The Lich King. Some people enjoyed it, some did not. I will post the interview because some people might be interested, some might not. I for one am a gamer, so I am interested.

Diablo III is finally here. The thousands of fans on hand at the 2008 Blizzard Worldwide Invitational cheered in ecstasy as Blizzard showed off the long-awaited dungeon-crawling sequel. While Diablo III was clearly the star of the show, Blizzard fans were also treated to hands-on time with Starcraft II and Wrath of the Lich King, the second expansion to the popular massively multiplayer game World of Warcraft. Now that the dust has settled from the show, Blizzard appears poised to reign supreme as one of, if not the top developer of games on the PC platform.

But as competing developers continue to innovate in the action RPG, real-time strategy, and massively multiplayer genres, Blizzard's games seem to be sticking very close to their roots. This is to be expected--after all, why fix what isn't broken? Then again, innovation can breathe new life into an existing genre and make it fresh for a new generation of players. Some might say that Blizzard is resting on its laurels, but if that's truly what's happening, how long can it continue? We posed these questions to our own GameSpot editors. Have thoughts of your own? Leave a comment below.

Andrew Park | Managing Editor

GameSpot: What were you hoping from the Blizzard Invitational?

Andrew Park: I was hoping Blizzard would finally take the wraps off of Diablo III, and it happened. It wasn't exactly the best-kept secret in the game industry, but it's good to finally get that out there.

GS: Do you feel Blizzard will be criticized for its conservative design approach with Starcraft II, Lich King, and Diablo III?

AP: I have yet to see any challenges leveled at Blizzard's conservative approach ever stick, and I include all remarks I myself have ever made in there, too. The company has been successful for as long as I can remember and has legions of loyal fans. Take Diablo III, for instance--if Blizzard had drastically altered the formula by making the sequel into, oh, I don't know, let's say a massively multiplayer game like World of Warcraft, that could've alienated a huge portion of the fans. Also, in the case of Diablo III, while I like the new art direction, I'm positive the game will scale well to lower-end hardware as pretty much all Blizzard games have, and because I know Blizzard is smart enough to realize that a great part of the Diablo series' longevity is due to laptop gaming.

GS: Based on what we learned at the event, how do you feel about Blizzard and its lineup in the future?

AP: Blizzard is a company that used to take the wraps off only one or two games at a time, so I think it's a very interesting development that we're now seeing what looks like an actual product lineup revealed publically--three games out in the open, plus a fourth one waiting in the wings. You could speculate that this change in approach might have something to do with the Activision merger. I hope this might be a sign of things to come--the start of a more candid approach for the traditionally tight-lipped studio to talk about its projects in the future.

Brian Ekberg | Senior Editor

GameSpot: What were you hoping from the Blizzard Invitational?

Brian Ekberg: Deep down, I was born to be a Firebat, so--though I knew it wouldn't happen--I was personally hoping for the announcement of World of Starcraft as the big mystery game at this past weekend's 2008 Blizzard Worldwide Invitational. That said, I can't say I was disappointed (or, for that matter, surprised) by the announcement of Diablo III; the game is looking impressive and certainly had the Blizzard fans on hand in Paris looking forward to slicing and dicing their way through walls of demon flesh.

GS: Do you feel Blizzard will be criticized for its conservative design approach with Starcraft II, Lich King, and Diablo III?

BE: This question was raised many times over the course of last weekend's Invitational, from both the press and fans of the games. In response, Blizzard's producers and developers seem to be perfectly happy with their approach. For example, when asked about the fixed isometric perspective in Diablo III (a technical holdover from the previous games in the series), the producers said that while they have experimented with new camera tricks, moving away from that perspective essentially resulted in a game that didn't "feel" like Diablo. I don't think it's that big a deal for Diablo III, but for Starcraft II I'd like to see more camera flexibility. After playing Supreme Commander, not being able to zoom out in Starcraft II makes the game feel antiquated.

GS: Based on what we learned at the event, how do you feel about Blizzard and its lineup in the future?

BE: Now that the Activision merger has taken place, the biggest problem Blizzard will have between now and the release of its next three games will be trying to find parking spaces for all the solid-gold-and-diamond Ferraris that the employees probably drive now. In other words, I have no fear for the commercial success of Blizzard's games in the near future, especially in the massively multiplayer space, where WOW continues to dominate. The conservative design approaches to Starcraft II and Diablo III seem like a deliberate appeal to the series' longtime fans, of which there are legions.

It wasn't that long ago that Blizzard more or less dealt with only one project at a time--now they're actively talking about three upcoming games, a sure sign of the company's growth. While Blizzard will surely be raking in the cash for years to come, at some point, they're going to have to mix up their formula, either by taking an established property in a new direction or announcing a new IP altogether. Probably sooner than later, too, before the tinny squeals of the hardcore Blizzard detractors become more of a deafening roar.

Jon Miller | Associate Editor

GameSpot: What were you hoping from the Blizzard Invitational?

Jon Miller: A new intellectual property. As much as I like discovering new loot, I find the hack-and-slash gameplay of Diablo too simple for my tastes. I'm excited for co-op play, I'm excited to see how Blizzard will improve upon Diablo II's formula, but I feel that the action RPG is evolving. Diablo was a seminal game, yes. But years later, action RPGs have a lot more diversity. For my money, I prefer Oblivion or the upcoming Fallout 3. I respect the Diablo franchise, but I was hoping that Blizzard would blow me away with something new it hasn't yet tried. Sadly, it didn't.

GS: Do you feel Blizzard will be criticized for its conservative design approach with Starcraft II, Lich King, and Diablo III?

JM: That's my main criticism. At the same time, Starcraft, WOW, and Diablo are Starcraft, WOW, and Diablo for a reason. Those games are great. It makes sense to stick to your guns. For those looking for something new, it's important to be patient. Instead of changing the core gameplay of its big three, I look forward to a new IP that tackles another genre. It sounds like Blizzard has more projects in the works and I don't think a company that smart is going to rest on Starcraft, Diablo, and WOW alone.

GS: Based on what we learned at the event, how do you feel about Blizzard and its lineup in the future?

JM: It will be fine. More than fine. It'll sell a gazillion copies. But critically, Blizzard is going to run into heavy competition in the strategy, massively multiplayer, and action-RPG genres. We're seeing some exciting innovations in each genre with games like Age of Conan and World in Conflict. When you see the immersive combat system in Conan or the all-out war in World in Conflict, it really does make the competition from Blizzard look antiquated. Then again, I expect Blizzard to blow us away with something new. It just hasn't happened yet.

Chris Watters | Associate Editor

GameSpot: What were you hoping from the Blizzard Invitational?

Christopher Watters: Considering Blizzard's stable of critically acclaimed and commercially successful intellectual properties, I don't think many folks were seriously expecting something brand-spanking new to come out of Paris. I never played much of the Warcraft/Starcraft games, but I definitely wore out a few mice and touch pads with the click-heavy adventuring of Diablo and Diablo II. Not only was I hoping for Diablo III, but I wanted to see real evidence that Blizzard was bringing its sizable resources to bear on updating every aspect of the game while still remaining true to the general gameplay mechanics that made the first two Diablo games so addicting and satisfying.

GS: Do you feel Blizzard will be criticized for its conservative design approach with Starcraft II, Lich King, and Diablo III?

CW: I think adherence to certain core elements is essential to creating the kind of franchise appeal that will keep people coming back for more. This continuity must be in balance with the need for innovation, otherwise the franchise will stagnate like we've seen so many times before. Fortunately for Diablo, the core appeal is pretty skeletal. You run around visually appealing dungeons slaying nasty foes, increasing your powers and garnering tons of loot along the way. There's plenty of room in there for significant tweaks to the artistic presentation, storyline, environmental and character interaction, and multiplayer functionality. Blizzard has always struck me as a company that's very in tune with what its customers like in a given game, and I think this will enable it to expand Diablo in meaningful ways without getting stuck in a rut.

GS: Based on what we learned at the event, how do you feel about Blizzard and its lineup in the future?

CW: With the massive success of Blizzard's three main franchises, it's hard to imagine it won't meet with commercial success in the future. That said, I think the playing field in each of those respective genres has deepened in the past few years, and there are some serious contenders to the throne. Command & Conquer is another venerable RTS that continues to do well on the PC, and has adeptly made the leap to consoles. In fact, the RTS and action RPG genres are flourishing on consoles, and I think Blizzard will have to bring at least one of its big three to current consoles to stay on top (I'm hoping it's Diablo!). As for the massively multiplayer field, it seems for the moment that Blizzard has that one pretty well sewn up, in spite of recent releases like Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures.

Share your thoughts on Blizzard's latest news. Leave a comment below!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Blizzard Entertainment Music & Games

Well, I have included some music onto my blog, personally picked & uploaded by me, and I think some of you will like it. The music is from some games made by Blizzard Entertainment, called Diablo, StarCraft/BroodWar and World of WarCraft. The soundtracks of these games can be called "Epic". Just scroll through the playlist using the player controls, and listen to the songs.

Talking about Blizzard and Games, this Saturday, blizzard officially announced the making of Diablo III, the next in the series, which was rumored on 'the net' for long ago. Fans were making concept art covers, fake ones of course, and fake intro movies. But this Saturday at the Blizzard Worldwide Invitational held in Paris, France, Blizzard unveiled it's mystery. You can take a look at the trailer, artwork and gameplay videos (2 parts) by scrolling down and clicking play. I've uploaded them so that they can easily be viewed.

Diablo III Cinematic Trailer/Teaser:


Diablo III Artwork Trailer:


Diablo III Gameplay Movie (2 parts):
        

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Breakdown

This Sunday, when I was watching the Blizzard Worldwide Invitational, my computer suddenly stopped. It powered down like a good kid that he is, and stopped working. I stood and I stared at my monitor like a moron, not knowing what has happened. I looked at the UPS and it was on. I rebooted it, self test was ok, ready to work. But the darn computer wouldn't start. I tried powering on but to no avail. Then it hit me. I had a spare (backup) PSU (for the not-so-good-in-computer-terms: Power Supply Unit - PSU) somewhere lying around, so I took it out, connected the cables instead of the PSU inside the computer, and what do you know? IT WORKS! Now I knew what the problem is, but it gave me a big scare anyway. This backup PSU is not so good, and my computer is undervoltaged. The +12V rail only gives +11.7V approximately, the +5V Rail gives only +4.9V and the +3.3V only gives +3.1V. All values fluctuate, but it's still under the normal working condition. Now I have to wait to get paid and get a new PSU, which I had my eyes on for quite some time now. You can find info about it here.

ASUS A-45GA 450W PSU

In the meantime, I'll let you get delighted by the looks of my computer with the backup power supply (out-of-the-case one) running.

Computer pe Cric

The next two upgrades will be cooling for the CPU and a new case, in that exact order.

Cooling I decided to pick: specs. Picture:

ASUS Silent-Knight II

PC Case I decided to pick: Raidmax Elite Series Smilodon Black or X-Gear C666B. Pictures (First and Second):

Raidmax Elite Series Smilodon Black

X-Gear C666B

Tassadar aka. David over and out.

Habanero Peppers (with Girls)

Well, today I came over a little movie which depicted 3 girls having a Habanero Pepper eating contest. Each of them had 10 peppers, and 10 minutes to eat them. If they used "the bucket" or left the room, they were disqualified. Let me remind you that Habanero Pepper is the most intensely spicy of chili peppers of it's genus (Capiscum). More info about it you can find by clicking here.

Ok, go and watch the movie intitled "Girls Habanero Eating Contest".




NEXT: WHY YOU SHOULD NOT EAT A HABANERO



And what happens if you eat a Habanero Pepper for 20 bucks




Tassadar aka. David over and out.