Thursday, June 20, 2013

World War Z movie review

Just watched World War Z and I gotta say it's a brilliant movie.

I've read the book before and from the format the author used in the book, I'm very interested to see how the movie adaptation will turn out as. Brad Pitt did his job well here and the zombies are terrifying. They've modified several parts in the movie so it's not exactly same as the book. So, even if you've watched the movie, reading the book will be a different story all together (although they are both called World War Z).

The intro's nice although it consisted of plenty of rather blurry video snippets but I like how they put in some  part of a couple of famous theoretical physicists' interviews/documentaries into their intro. Nice touch!

The Israel part is really 'kek sim' (pitiful/ geram) you know. Their early preparations (like building a Great Wall of Israel lol) amounted to nothing because someone decided to start a celebration as they 'survived' the zombie onslaught. In the end, Israel too got swept into the zombie apocalypse. A downright massacre.

Hmm, I suspect there will be a sequel to this because the story ended with 'This is just the beginning.'. They covered more on finding the source of the disease instead of the usual 'how to survive'. Maybe the sequel will be on the surviving part. :P

Anyways, it's a worthwhile movie to spend your money on. I'd recommend 3D (if there is a 3D version to begin with, though I suspect they do have it) for those who can handle plenty of blurry video shoots in 3D coz the movie has plenty of action and zombie closeups :P

My ramblings - Take 5

It's been some time since I ramble about stuff ... lol.

Anyways, today I'm going to talk about the 'seniors vs juniors' scenario that I encountered in my lab. Here, I'm actually the youngest around and ofc one of the juniors. I never felt that I really fit in this lab - the friends that I have here doesn't really feel like my friends at all. It's more of a seniors having the courtesy to hang out with junior. I'm not sure whether I'm the only one feeling this or not but well, I do feel that way from the responses that I get from them most of the time. With practically no friends here (as my previous buddy left the lab), I'm as depressed as a.... um I don't even know what to put here... a sad puppy in the rain? Oh well, my BF's around, though sometimes he can be really annoying or horrible lol.

Wow, another yawn. What's with me feeling sleepy almost everyday? Fatigue? Probably. Caused by work and Rift? Highly likely lol. My failure with my 6th cycle of SELEX is not helping to boost my morale either... sucks to be me atm. Hopefully I can get better results with this repeat of cycle 6.

Okay, I'm off now - going to the lab upstairs to chat with Alex. Chill, guys. Saw Yi out.

Man of Steel movie review

A quick word before I really get to bed lol!~

Well, I'm not exactly a big fan of superman (or Smallville lol) but I'd say this movie tried to put in too much and ended up with a lot of the story being chopped up and scattered as flashbacks or are shortened so much that some of it may not make sense. Some flashbacks is fine but IMHO this movie has too many and some of them got me confused for a min, wondering where the story is leading to. Perhaps they could shortened the intro instead and get more actual Superman parts into the movie.

The Clark actor in this movie is doing fine - perhaps he's trying to portray an uptight Superman that is carrying the heavy burden of having super powers. I don't know... but that's what I get from watching his acting. 

Clark: 'This symbol on my chest represents 'Hope' on my world.'
Lane: 'Well... it's looks like an 'S'.'
(Note: the quote may not be exactly the same as in the movie but it's similar)

Cracking a joke in the mid of a serious scene, extra point! lol :P

World War Z tomorrow!! Woots! :) All hyped up for it... hope it's not such a let-down as After Earth was.

Sooo.... what's up?

Yup, I've realised I haven't been really updating (much) on my dreadful life as an RA/Masters student (I'm not even sure what I'm doing right now... like seriously~ no idea.), so here's a couple of stuff that I've been up to; that have been occupying a lot of my time and brain power (lol~).

Firstly, well, I've been 'massively' gaming. What games? Oh you know... those casual tower defense games with superb graphics (but may be boring gameplay - I'm not guaranteeing anything :P) like prime world defenders or Don't Starve or Expeditions Conquistadors (Check out my review here).

However, since last... um I think it's Friday, I've found out that Rift (My second fav MMORPG, the first being WoW :P) is free-to-play!!! I was extremely jubilant. I've played Rift before but only on a trial basis and I love the rift part (well, that's why it's called Rift, isn't it?) of the game - helps burn off the boredom of levelling :P Okay well, I've been gaming for hmm... a few days now (starting from Sat coz I had to redownload the client and patch it on Friday night and I didn't exactly had enough time to play - I need my sleep! lol.) and I'm proud to say I've hit level 45 with 200+ skill points on all 5 professions (still need to catch up on my fishing though - it's the most boring profession so far, but I like to read the chat while waiting for the fish to eat the bait. I gotta say chat is very interesting to watch... with all the Hodor spams or WoW is the first MMORPG or the WoW vs Rift vs other MMORPG and recently the gold selling spam haha :P For example, someone said, 'What is Game of Thrones? - A TV series... I'll bet George is killing himself right now.' Hahaha. 

And well, comparing with my experience at a private WoW server, Rift has considerably less bugs (only found 2 quest bugs in dungeons, but all the quests out of dungeons are doable - but some may be really really hard - like trying to solo the Droughtlands's elite group quests and gave up after I died like the umpteenth time... I mean like seriously, I'm wearing MAIL armour and the mob just cuts through it like butter... they probably will one-shot cloth/leather wearers lol).

Okay, despite the free-to-play + all features available gimmick, if you played until you reached the main capital city, you'll quickly realise the 'all features' are not at all 'all features'. It's a HUGE disappointment. 

One of the major feature that they made it 'at least 1-month subscribers only' is auctioning stuff at the Auction House (AH). Come on! Damn it. They had to go and make that pay-to-use - one of my fav parts of any MMORPG. Now, I had loads of crafted pots and rare loot sitting in the mail of my alt mage with no real way of selling them (except spamming on Trade channel which no one uses :\). For a new F2P Rift player, that's a real let-down. 

Oh and then there are the random crashes and lag spikes (not my internet's problem btw, these are all client/server side). Next one is that you can only create a maximum of 2 characters per shard (server). Now I can't even make alts to store my excessive hoard of sellable items? Gosh! Oh and not to mention, you only get like 3 bag slots and the other 5 you'll need to use real money to buy them or that the max and reasonably-buyable bag has a bag space of only 16. Sigh. Guess I'm too used to WoW or RO2 lol - both have obtainable bags with larger bag space. 

I think I'll just finish levelling my Cleric then swap over to a new shard for a defiant rogue then I'm off Rift (again) perhaps for good. It's just ridiculous to stay there when the stuff that I need (AH, AH, AH!! sigh~ unless I spend like 1800++ plat for REX to get loyalty to use the AH and plat (in-game currency) is not easy to get... I'm currently sitting on ~52 plat. Even at my pretty-high level, I'm still getting only gold from quests and mobs.)

Hmm, well, Rift is a major time-sink but I'm also doing my main project at the moment and I'm not looking at good results... so yeah, I'm kinda sad and depressed and then I'll probably hop over to Rift to play some more and to ignore my hopeless project.... sigh.

Oh well, enough of self-raging, self-indulgence and self-pitying. Despite everything, I MUST finish my project and graduate ASAP. The rest can come after.

I'm out.

Monday, June 10, 2013

After Earth movie review

I'm really disappointed... like really. When I watched the trailer, I had so much hope for it, plus since it's a sci-fi movie (one of my fav movie genre), I expected it be great.

Well, the acting sucks - it is plain awkward. I don't know how hard it must be to act a person with no fear but the feeling it left me is that the General has no feelings at all - except for the occasional tight-lipped smile that looked forced. Lol. In fact, I think the 'mother' in this movie did better than both the Smiths IMHO. Jaden did okay but he still has plenty of room to improve.

The storyline sucks too - the Ursa is transported for ghost training then crash landed on Old Earth. That doesn't seem like a very good storyline to me. Disappointing. Though, I would give some points for the ending, where the Ursa miraculously stepped over Jaden without stepping on him as he became a 'ghost' (someone who has no fear and who effectively becomes invisible to the Ursa). That part's pretty nice although I'd prefer a more impact-ful music during that scene - the music that was used there is just 'meh' standard.

Well, to the good side, the graphics of Old Earth is great and I like the concept of creatures evolving to become human hunters (though, I don't think it's logical.... coz well, humans have not inhabited that planet for 'eons' now).

Overall, at best, I'd give it a B. Even with Will Smith in the movie, this is to me a B-grade movie (I'm very sure you'd argue that the actual 'B-grade movies' out there are even worse but well, to me, those 'B-grade movies' out there are, to me, C/even D-grade lol.... I have high standards haha).

If you're planning to go to the cinemas for this movie, I'd recommend you not to. Just wait for the download. It's not worth it. Better save up your cash for World War Z.... that should be a great movie (plus I've read the book and it's Awesome with a capital 'A' :)) and got Brad Pitt in it some more! Woots! :D

Prime World Defenders review

Its menu. Cool! :)
A card-TD game - very nice graphics :) and the towers looks rather cool. You can collect different tower cards and combine cards to enable upgrades for your towers. The game is rather hard (to get 3 stars) though - if you daydream too much while playing lol :P And then there are special achievements (that are sometimes very hard to get at a lower level) for each individual map, but well for each new map, you have to like grind your way through the same 'side-quest' maps for like... sigh. Especially when you want to collect any many cards as possible (for upgrades, for collection and for use).

Oh and I like their storyline - very nice and creative IMHO but well, it may not be very original (I may have read a story which is similar to this but well, I can't be sure). However, the character dialogues aren't really witty or funny (the way I like dialogues lol). Oh well. :P

Though, I really don't like how it displays the bar showing the waves of monsters. There are no info at all about the monsters (just pointy arrows as a code for the different monster types - you'll soon learn to memorise it but meh, I still don't like it), no info at all on when the next wave is coming and you cannot click on any of the monsters to see their HP or special ability in detail etc.

If you like card games (especially in collecting cards) and TD, this is the game for you. You'll probably spend a lot of time in trying to collect all the cards (by replaying the re-playable+with rewards levels) lol.
One of the maps in the beginning.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Expeditions: Conquistadors review and tips/hints

This is a pretty unique game - a create-your-own-adventure, gamebook-sort game :) You are a capitan from Spain who are leading a group of troops to the uncharted lands. Each member of your group have their own stories and opinions but if you do it right, you'll get their respect and devotion. Oh but a quick tip here, it's better if you choose your expedition members with the 'proud' characteristic (so you can easily increase their loyalty) and avoid 'pious/racist' (these characteristics posed most trouble for me, especially if you want to recruit locals into your expedition or turn a blind eye to the natives' harmless rituals - I abhor human sacrifices though :P)

Devoted followers woots =) I have this title among the natives too - Venerable :)

The combat system is pretty straight forward - I could take on all the combat situations using only upgraded scouts, knights and a doctor. But in certain cases, straight-up attack is unfavourable, especially in the 'Fortify' quest where you are vastly outnumbered (6 of you, 18 of the enemy... lol. How I wish they[the game devs] let us bring more troops) or in the 'Kill Montezuma' quest [yes, I decided to topple the Aztecs lol :P] where there are like spike traps all over the grassy places. In these cases, build barricades and make choke holds so the enemy cannot flank you and they will be forced to attack you one/two at a time. But do bear in mind barricades can be destroyed so prepare some back up retreat place. Oh and a tip, save before you do any part of a quest/combat for easy re-loading, just in case you failed somehow.

A very general strategy plan for the quest - Fortify. Btw I drew this by memory - I have already uninstalled the game like ages ago so I might be mistaken about the details but well, yeah, generally this is how I got through the Fortify quest.

My inventory - had loads more loot stashed at my fortress :)
And well, for the first map, there are two quests with rather difficult-to-find quest location, so here they are - marked in the screenshots below:
'The Lost Detachment' or is it 'The Medallion' quest? hmm anyways, one of them is the sequel to the other so yeah. If you need to find the missing patrol, here they are.

Now this one is a real b**** to find - anyways, with a time limit to the quest, this place could be a  real hard one to complete plus you can't cut through the middle of the forest patch to get there either - you'll need to go there from either through the mountains from the left side or through the beach on the right. 
There's also a weird thing with the second map whereby you have to kill Citlalli - the leader of the Amazon tribe. I found their village - it's very clearly marked on the map - but I can't seem to actually go there. There's just this forest patch on the exact spot where the village is supposed to be lol. So yea, had to skip that quest.
EDIT: I've just realised they might be wandering around, but well, I was circling the area but I had no luck finding them so, unfortunately, I can't give you the locations... sorry! Good luck finding them though! :) Source 

Oh and another advice for map 2 (the mexico map), it's easier if you rile up both sides - the Totonoc and the Aztecs before you attack either one. However, it seems that if you attack both (for the glory of Spain lol), you'll get better ending I think - I just attacked the Aztecs :P. Establishing new allies and trade routes doesn't seem to cut it for the Spanish monarch lol. 

Overall, this game is a must-play for gamebook+computer game fans. The story is very well written and the minor stories that pops up during your travels is a very welcome distraction from the dreary long journey lol. I especially like that part where a champion native tried to win my(the lady capitan's) affections although I'm already very unexpectedly married to a wealthy tribechief's son (also a native) lol. It's just cute and funny.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Self medication

Disclaimer: This is written from my point of view. The content in this article may or may not be true as it was written from my knowledge however vast or limited it may be. Nevertheless, do note that I'm not a doctor or a pharmacist - I'm a biology student. That's it.


Seriously, it only has disadvantages... ... well, okay you might say it has one, only ONE, advantage that is it saves medical cost lol... but once you've heard the disadvantages, you might just think twice about self-medicating... it's just not worth it!

First of all, let me give you an example. (I'm writing this from what I've learned about how infection occurs and the body's response to an infection as well as from my belief - I may be wrong though)

The common cold is one of the most common illness that a person can get. The stages of this sickness usually includes fever, cough and runny nose.


When you have a fever, you take a paracetamol (or Panadol, though there are many other brands) pill to reduce the temperature rise in your body. However, do you understand why your body temperature rises in the first place? My dear readers, it is to combat the illness itself. How? Well, if the illness is caused by bacteria, the rise in body temperature will create an unfavourable condition for the bacteria to grow in.... in other words, the bacteria cannot grow anymore and will die off. But ofc your own cells will be affected but it's an acceptable loss.

When you forcefully reduce the temperature in your body, bear in mind that it is the body's defense mechanism which you are trying to turn off. The only times where you have to take a Panadol pill is when the infection is not bacterial (but is viral) OR when the increase in body temperature became uncontrollable (for example, 40C is too high. Note that an average person's body temp is supposed to be around 37C and a rise of 3C is A LOT).

Unless you couple the paracetamol with another medicine (antibiotics/antiviral drug, which is categorised under 'prescripted medicines') which actually does the job of killing off the infection, you are not doing yourself any good by suppressing the fever without doing anything about the actual infection because in the end, you did not 'recover' from the sickness, it is still in you!

and what if that mere 'common cold' is not a common cold? ...!!!...

Though, if you decided to suffer through the fever at home without taking any medicine, it's a bit risky - unless you're sure it's not something serious (people can die from fever in the old times, you know!~) - but I guess it should be fine. This way, you're not lending any help to your body and letting (and fully trusting) your body to heal itself from the infection. 

For cough and runny nose,

The usual medicines that you get over the counter at the local pharmacy basically does the trick but bear in mind that when you're getting a cough syrup for your cough, make sure to tell the pharmacist details of your cough. For example, with phlegm and without phlegm (dry cough) type of coughing, have sore throat or not, how long you have been coughing, etc. If there is blood in your cough, then going to the local pharmacy will not do (though if you're there for consultation, I guess you can, but the pharmacist will probably advise you to go to a doctor anyways) - you have to go to the hospital to find out what's wrong. It may indicate a deeper problem and such problems will just worsen if you keep delaying that visit to the doctor's.

For runny nose, usually you'll need a doctor's note to get the medicine here in Malaysia (not sure about other places though). So it won't be too much of a problem. 

Okay, that's it I guess. Till next time!~

Some tips to drastically reduce PDF file size - compressing and resaving

For me, when I tried to upload my scanned academic transcript for scholarship application - the upload limit got me befuddled. So, I had a few headaches in trying to compress my file size from 900+kb to 280kb (the upload limit given).

Despite the advice on this site being helpful, I quickly realised that compressing my PDF size is not a solution - compressing can only reduce so much size (around 200kb) and it would be a miracle for my file to become 280kb via only compressing. Though, if you still want to compress your PDF, I highly recommend using this. It's an online PDF compressing site and it's the site that has successfully compressed my 900+kb to 700+kb. Best of all? It's free :)

Anyways, so, well, here's something that I found out.

Initially, I scanned my files as JPEG files then placed them in word to be converted to PDF (yeah, yeah, my scanner's software is crap - I cannot straight scan the images into PDF lol). The PDF size that I got via this method is the 900+kb one.

Anyways, the problem lies there - JPEG is a 'good quality' image format (while .gif is a 'low quality' image format and .bmp is a 'high quality' image format FYI) - so I just need to resave all my scanned, JPEG images into GIF , then proceed as usual -- put them into word, then save as PDF. Voila! My resulting file size? 218kb =) Although the files are rather bad quality, well, wth, who told you guys to put a stupidly low upload limit lol. It's still readable... if you strain your eyes. Haha.

Okay so there's my secret to ultimately reduce your PDF file size... lol. Have fun!

P/S: How to resave the jpeg files into gif? Well, you can use the simplest software of all - Paint. Just open the file with Paint. Then choose 'Save As' instead of just 'Save'. Then select, from the dropdown menu at the bottom, GIF format. Then you're done! :)

This tip is tailored for Windows users only. For other OS users, I dunno lah~ the concept can still be used. Though for Mac users, there's an extra compressing method for you guys (as mentioned in the link provided above in the text). :)

Monday, June 3, 2013

Of Orcs and Men game review

To make this short, it's not exactly unique except for the fact that the hero in this game is an orc. The storyline is very much like a typical, albeit in simpler form, Dragonage sort. The game play is similar as well. The game doesn't expand much on the 'trading' part in the game - vendors offer very little (like only 2 items for the hero and 2 more for the sidekick) choices and instead of using money/currency, they choose to introduce 'trade points'.

The storyline on the other hand are pretty much predictable - I always knew Barimen is going to turn on them. The combat mechanics are okay and the game is still quite a challenge despite being able to assassinate a certain number of npcs before you engage into a fight (especially those 'opps' moments where you accidentally caught the attention of the troops)

It's also a challenge because well, you don't have the option of using potions during combat... hmm scratch that, there are NO potions in the game at all. Ah, the few skills to replenish health is pretty useful though. And then, there's a specialisation part where you have to choose, for Arkail, to be a berserker or a master and for Styx, to be a shadow goblin or a *** (I forgotten the name already, gah :P) 

Anyways, it's still a good RPG to play while you're waiting on the next expansion of Bioshock or Borderlands or etc (lol). 

P/S: Styx is a pretty funny goblin :P I like his dialogues.

P/P/S: From the reviews that I've read on my next game - Garshasp, I'm starting to think that this game (Of orcs and men) are way better than Garshasp lol.