Thursday, April 24, 2008

Champagne on a weekday?

currentcost meter in action, originally uploaded by epredator.

I recently twittered that we had cracked open a bottle of champagne here at the chez epred. Now there was a legitimate reason, but not one that is mine explain, but it was worth celebrating a little.
However another reason was the installation that day of my CurrentCost meter.
This handy device is sweeping through the people at Hursley. Its a very simply principle. It tells you how much electricity you use and how much it costs, but in a way that makes tech geeks happy.
The device has a transmitting element with an inductance loop around (but not cutting) the main line into the house. It then uses RF to communicate to a base station as in the picture.
That station tracks and displays the usage. As you turn stuff on the meter shows the house wattage usage and relates that to a cost.
Hey what about the champagne? I hear you type in comments.
Well.... I noticed a little spike in the energy now, yet nothing where I was was kicking in, out fridge, boiler etc were silent at the time. Then I remembered our christmas spare fridge/freezer in the garage. We tend yo need this for overflow at holiday times, for beer and icecream and the odd turkey. That fridge was still on and had decided to kick in and make itself known.
There were a few things in the fridge, most notably a bottle of Lanson champers. So, to reduce the cost, save the planet and so as not to waste all the cooling that had occured I decided to crack the bottle open.
Whilst the device uses power, and we are also all hooking it up to a nano broker to send the information on a pub sub system to help Andy SC and co test things, it does actually make you pay more attention. Hence reducing the electricity usage, or atleast becoming aware of what does what.
Its a pity there was only 1 bottle in the fridge :-)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Countdown to Grand Theft Auto IV

One of the most exciting gaming events I can remember is due to happen on 29th April with the worldwide and multi-platform release of Grand Theft Auto IV
I have had this thing on pre-order since the first day it appeared on Amazon, though strangely I selected the PS3 version back then. The reason.... well I assumed that by the time it came out the PS3 would be the most rocking platform. However a year down the line and its still the Xbox where my gaming collegues are. I had a minor panic in that realizing I wanted the 360 version this close in was going to mean not getting one. However ordering the insane special edition (something I dont normally do) seems to secure an order. I may yet be proved wrong. Being a bigger package it may take longer to get to me. Still its just a game right?
I have enjoyed GTA since its top down days. It was an old school massive 4 way scrolling car game. I particularly loved these games like super sprint, GTA had a great handbrake action. Already back then it was quite free roaming and seemed far larger a map than most other games.
By the time it had graduated across the first next gen consoles it had turned into a very intersting mix of sandbox and missons and actually a great way to consume music.
Even on the PSP Vice City Stories I find it great to tune into a radio station and raz around listening to tunes from my yoof :-) Yay for the 80's.
I am looking forward to the masses of tiny details in this new incarnation. I am sure there will be much of the same, but that is not a bad thing as the same means "alot" in GTA.
Having signed up for the rockstar social club it is clear they have some interesting links with the real world planned. Namely a hint that if you hear a track inworld, you can text a mobile service in world and have the track identified and placed on your external web page for purchase and download on Amazon S3. A nice touch!
The potential multiplayer sounds good too, cops and robbers in particular.
Anyone releaseing a game in the next few weeks I think will have a tough time. Plus the variety of gameplay and immersion from previous experience, takes the time away from everything else.
The reviews have been great too already. Thats not always a good sign, but Edge loved it and the 360 magazine gave it one of those rare 10's. So I am fairly certain all the delays, hype etc are going to be worth it.
If not.... well they will make a lot of money, but it will be the last time :-)