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The rarely updated blog of Joel Dixon

Viewing blogs posted in 2007

Sunday, December 09, 2007

My Video Gaming History - Part I: The Commodore 64

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 09/12/2007 14:39:54
Updated by Joel Dixon at 20/12/2007 13:57:25


Quote:
Are you keeping up with the Commodore? Because the Commodore is keeping up with you!

Video games have played a big part of my life. NHL 94 encouraged a love for the sport of Ice Hockey. Samantha Fox's Strip Poker and others have introduced me to digital bewbies during my important formative years. And Distruptor for the PlayStation was an important game for me, as it was the first time that my older brother beat me to the end of the game (crushing). I've decided to do a little retrospective of my video game history, and hope that some of you will enjoy the walk down memory lane.

LOAD "*",8,1

Commodore 64
This actually looks a lot like our system. Getting the disk drive was a huge time saver!

Excluding some generic "Game and watch" clones, the Commodore 64 was my first real introduction to video gaming - and I liked it! The Commodore was released in January of 1982 as a system designed to offer advanced hardware at a cheap(ish) price. I really took to the system (as did the rest of my family) and was sitting in front of it whenever it was "my turn". Turns got to be a bit of a problem whenever a cool game was acquired, with lots of fights between the family for play time. I can vividly remember my eldest brother waking up at 5 or 6 am before school to get a few extra hours playing California Games. I also remember feeling cheated because I was unable to wake up earlier than him!

You may have noted that I used the word "acquired" in the above paragraph - not many of our games were actually store bought. Pirating was rife - my eldest brother had a friend, who had a "contact", someone that provided us with as many copied Commodore 64 games that we could play. Those that know me now know that I am against piracy of any kind (except for amusing pirate jokes), but back in the day I didn't know any better. FastHackem fueled our piracy, allowing a game disk to be copied in 3 minutes instead of around 20.

That Commodore 64 was also life changing as it introduced me to the pastime of Basic programming. Basic in more than a name, my first program was probably something like this:

Basic Code:
> 10 PRINT "JOEL IS RAD!"

> 20 GOTO 10

> RUN

I also loved reading through the Basic books that were provided with the 64, and typing out the hundred line example programs. Armed with this extra programming knowledge, my coding skills were greatly expanded:

Basic Code:
10> FOR I = 1 TO 10

20> NEXT I

30> INPUT "ENTER YOUR NAME: ", N$

40> PRINT N$; ", DID YOU KNOW THAT JOEL IS RAD?"

50> GOTO 40

RUN
(the first two lines is now an obvious loop. I had no idea what it did, but included it in my own programs because it looked cool)

For me, the Commodore 64 was the golden age of video gaming, and it kept me entertained even after we received more modern systems (such as consoles). A pictures is worth 1,000 words, so this video of 100 Commodore games should be worth a fair bit. Go to the YouTube page to see the list of games displayed.

100 Commodore games in 10 minutes



This is the 1st in the My Video Gaming History series
Part I - My Video Gaming History - Part I: The Commodore 64Part II - My Video Gaming History - Part II: The Sega Master System
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Thursday, November 15, 2007

When small annoyances attack

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 15/11/2007 23:27:19
Updated by Joel Dixon at 08/01/2008 10:16:13


Not much of a story - but funny all the same!



We were traveling to level 7, so PC thought it would be amusing to press buttons 1 to 6 (he was correct - it was amusing). Hitman was feeling a little surly, unrelated to alcohol consumption I'm sure, and the lift stopping and starting at every floor wasn't helping. To speed up the trip he started to press on the "Close Doors" button repeatedly, like a tween at a pedestrian crossing. The lift stopped at level 6 without the doors opening at all which was worrying, and when it stopped at level 7 the doors remained closed. The "Open Doors" button was not as dutiful as its evil twin, so we appeared to be stuck.

Elevator

Hitman started to get a little concerned, and admitted he could get a little claustrophobic at times, which amused us a little more. We tried to go to level six and the doors still wouldn't open, and I think it's fair to say Hitman started to panic. He pressed the "Alarm" button as we went down to the ground floor, and let the security guard know of our predicament when he came on the small speaker.

Showing a mixture of brute strength and girly-man fear, Hitman forced open the lift doors and we all poured out. The Hoff and I lamented the fact that we missed out on an excuse for 2 hours away from our desks, but I guess it's better than being stuck in a lift for an undetermined amount of time. I guess.



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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Autobots Transform and Rollout!

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 04/11/2007 16:36:35
Updated by Joel Dixon at 13/11/2007 23:39:10


Bell and I had a quick browse through JB Hi-Fi and found a very cool special edition of the Transformers film on DVD. Firstly, I loved the Transformers film, one of my favourites of this year. Secondly, the DVD case transforms!

Transformers DVD
DVD case. Admittedly, it's not too taxing to guess what this will transform into. "Robots in pretty ordinary disguise"

Transformers DVDs
The DVDs are stored in a little cavity on the back

Transformed
The transformation itself is pretty weak - but it's the first DVD cover I own that can transform!

Ingenious DVD marketing people! Apparently when Saw IV comes out - it will actually contain a human eyeball! Looking forward to that one.



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Friday, November 02, 2007

Drugs are bad, mmm'kay?

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 02/11/2007 14:12:42

While I'm admittedly a goody-two-shoes when it comes to illicit drug usage, for some reason I find drug culture incredibly fascinating.

After watching (and loving) Trainspotting I really got into reading Irvine Welsh's back catalog. Some of his other novels such as Marabou Stork Nightmares, Glue and Porno feature many elements of drug culture in well developed working-class Scottish characters.

I also enjoyed Kevin Smith's series of blog posts discussing Jason Mewes' battle with drug addiction. It seems Kevin's turned part of his site into a book so the posts have been removed, so you'll just have to believe me. Thankfully I haven't had somebody so close to me dealing with a drug problem, so these posts provided an interesting insight.

If I didn't have an understanding of the potential negative effects of consistent drug use - the Drug Free website's "Faces of Meth" campaign would certainly help. They say a picture's worth a thousand words, in this case two pictures are worth two thousand:

Meth use
There's less than 5 years between these two photos - but plenty of Methamphetamine use



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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Garlic Potato Skins

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 31/10/2007 10:43:46

Belinda has told me that a number of people have said "I didn't know Joel could cook" to her recently. We assume people are saying this because they have seen my recipe entries on this blog. My response to Bell is generally "I can't cook, but I can follow directions pretty well".

The magical Internet helps me no end. From recipes, history and techniques and simple conversions - I would probably have starved if it wasn't for the Internet's help.

I decided that I needed to do some actual cooking - and tried to think of my own recipe. Whatever it was, it was going to have cheese and maybe some garlic or onion - and it had to be simple. In the end - I remembered some incredibly nice Potato Skins Belinda and I ate at Planet Hollywood many years ago that I would try to replicate with a twist (the garlic).

It went pretty well, except I used way too much garlic (some bites really hurt my mouth) which I've rectified in the recipe below.

Garlic Potato Skins

Garlic Potato Skins

Ingredients
Russet Potatoes - 2
Garlic, minced - 1 to 2 cloves
Cheese (I like a Tex-Mex mix), grated - a few cups depending on taste
Bacon bits - small handful
Spring Onions, chopped - around a cup
Corn Chips - small handful

Method
1. Bake the potatoes.

2. Quarter the potatoes and remove most of the middle, leaving about 1 or 2 centimeters of "middle white bit" next to the skin.

3. Spread a small amount of minced garlic onto the middle bit of each potato quarter.

4. Sprinkle a small amount of cheese on each potato quarter.

5. Sprinkle a small amount of bacon pits, spring onions and corn chips on each potato depending on taste.

6. Sprinkle some more cheese on the top of the potato skin.

7. Cook in oven until cheese has melted.

It's obviously a very simple recipe, but I was still surprised it was edible as it was my first attempt at something creative.

During cooking
Before cooking



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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sent Packing

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 30/10/2007 21:40:39
Updated by Joel Dixon at 30/10/2007 21:50:56


Well - they've sent me home.

I was only in Canada on a three-month work permit, with the intention of renewing it for an extra year. I found out that the renewal was rejected, and now I'm back home.

Very happy to be home again with friends and family (and my wonderful wife), but there will be parts of Canadian life I will miss.

I guess all I have left to say is G'Day - and where's the shrimp?

(is it too much to expect that I receive copious "welcome back" beers only two months after receiving copious "farewell" beers? )



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Garlic Lime Chicken

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 30/10/2007 12:01:37

I like lime, and I love garlic - so this recipe seemed like a good find.

Garlic Lime Chicken
Garlic Lime Chicken

Ingredients
Soy Sauce - 1/2 cup
Fresh Lime Juice - 1/4 cup
Worcestershire sauce - 1 tbsp.
Garlic, minced - 3 clothes
Dry Mustard (mustard powder) - 1/2 tsp.
Coarsely Ground Pepper - 1/2 tsp.
Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts - 4

Method
1. In glass bowl mix soy sauce, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, dry mustard, and pepper.

2. Place chicken in resealable plastic bag. Pour marinade over chicken in bag, close bag securely, and toss to coat chicken well.

3. Place bag with marinade and chicken in refrigerator 30 minutes or more.

4. Drain and discard marinade. Sprinkle chicken with more coarsely ground pepper.

5. Grill until cooked (can also be pan-fried).

Here's a picture of the chicken mid-marinade - it smelt delicious!

Being Marinaded



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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Pens lose in shootout thriller

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 28/10/2007 12:52:01

We come back from 3 goals down to tie it up with two minutes to play, then we lose it in an eight round shootout.

Talk about a rollercoaster of emotions (with the upping and the downing and the floiven)!

At least we got a point out of it.



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Saturday, October 27, 2007

2 Minute Noodle Egg Stuff

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 27/10/2007 01:13:50

Today's recipe was suggested to me by a reader of this site - Hitman. It was actually really nice, and incredibly simple to make. He could have come up with a more creative name - but you can't say it's misleading!

2 Minute Noodle Egg Stuff

2 Minute Noodle Egg Stuff

Ingredients

Packet of two minute noodles, chicken flavour
Egg
Cooking Oil

Method

1. Cook noodles following package direction.
2. Drain water from Noodles, stir in egg and chicken flavour.
3. Heat frypan on low.
4. Add a little bit of oil to the base of the fry pan.
5. Add Noodle / Egg mixture to frypan.
6. Flatten out, like a thick pancake.
7 Cook one side on low heat until golden brown.
8. Flip the Noodle-Egg pancake. (Hitman suggested to add a little bit more oil to the base of the pan to fry it up)
9. Cook the second side on high - until crispy.

Good for an after-work snack, and so easy a caveman could do it.



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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Zero Punctuation, Many Laughs

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 25/10/2007 11:51:46
Updated by Joel Dixon at 15/01/2008 12:23:49


A while ago I stumbled across a series of video game reviews by Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw under the title of Zero Punctuation (he speaks rather quickly). Very honest, and extremely funny, I usually watch each video a few times as they are crammed with jokes and by laughing at one joke I occasionally miss the next one.

Zero Punctuation is a must for video game fans, but still very funny for the people that aren't cool enough to catch all of the nerdy references

I'm a little behind on the videos, but about a month ago he reviewed Tomb Raider Anniversary and I found it particularly funny, and thought I'd link it. He also has some brilliant ideas for original video games!

Be warned - the occasional naughty word is included in this video.

The Escapist: Zero Punctuation - Tomb Raider Anniversary





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