Monday, August 27, 2007

Little wonders and big dissapointments...

Coming off a restful weekend, and heading back to work is bad enough. Having to head into work for 5am, well, that's considerably worse. Of course, it wasn't enough that I had to be on-site at such an ungodly hour, no, that would be too easy. Things had to proceed downward in a spiral that could only occur on a Monday morning.

Needless to say that by the time 5:30pm rolled around, and I could finally leave my place of torture (or work, depending on how you look at it), I was more than happy to oblige.

The drive home was rather uneventful, save for the horrible effect of bright sunlight on the tired soul. Why is it so much worse to drive in the sunlight when you're tired than it is at night? I could probably drive all the way to Montreal, completely exhausted at night, but try during the day and the sun's rays just insist on trying their darnedest to slam your eyes shut. Fortunately, I wasn't that tired, and despite forgetting my sunglasses at home this morning (must... not... repeat) I managed to make it home in one piece, avoiding Corollas and other such hazards.

On the way home, I stopped by the store. I needed a few things for the fridge, and figured I might even pick up a treat to help ease into the evening. Something caught my eye on the way to pick out a bottle of Ginger Ale, something that didn't quite seem to belong there. It looked like an anachronism, definitely not belonging amongst modern-day soda bottles, yet, despite rubbing my eyes to make sure they weren't toying with me, there it was.

Okay, so it's a bottle of Coke. Nothing incredibly special about it, right? WRONG. Notice the classic label style, the lack of contests, pictures, promotions, or even the typical "Classic" tag. It is just a simple, plain, bottle of Coke. I searched my frazzled memory banks, trying to think of just how long it had been since I'd seen such a plain and simple bottle of the acidically delightful brew (It's a guilty pleasure I was once addicted to), and found that I just couldn't remember. I don't thin I'm alone either. A quick glance around and I saw other people noticing too. As they noticed, I saw a few gravitate towards the row of bottles, pick one up, look at it quizzically, and drop it in amongst their purchases.

What a marvel to find novelty in the complete lack of adornment. Such plainness, as I thought about it, a bottle somehow ended up slipping it's way into my basket, Ginger Ale long forgotten. Aside from the Coca Cola on the label, the only hint of modern design is the nutritional (or lack thereof) information tastefully placed on the side. I was convinced that when I got home, should I check online, I would find some sort of gimmick, some sort of campaign based around the plain old-fashioned label. It was a delightful surprise to find none. Is this the act of some genius of marketing tapping into the nostalgic market? Is it simply a cheap-o label to save money in between promotions? I'm still not quite sure, but whichever it is, I find it's blandness oddly pleasing.

Enough about the Coke already (a sentence which has probably been said to countless celebrities over the years), what about the disappointment promised in the title of this post? Well, some of you may recall my comment about a certain game my flatmate had acquired for his Xbox 360 (if not, scroll down until you see a short blurb and a link to Bioshock). The game has some of the most beautiful graphics I have seen for a FPS and I definitely was yearning to play it. Last night, the flatmate just had to point out that it was available, not only in a PC version, but downloadable via Steam, my game delivery method of choice.

I'm sad to say that in a moment of weakness I purchased it, and began what turned out to be one of the longest game download I have yet gone through over the Steam network. As a matter of fact, after a brief jump into the 200kbps league, it slowed considerably to a measly 15kbps, where I assume it stayed all night. Fine, I didn't really expect to play it last night anyways, needing to hit the sack as early as I could (read: as early as my sleepless nature would allow) due to the early morning. I was still surprised when I woke up around 4:30am, only to find it around 75% downloaded and still running around the 15kbps mark. Instead of being upset, I just chalked it up to lots of people wanting the game, and it only added to my eagerness to partake.

So all day as I fought my way through snafus, foibles, and outright silliness, I had at the back of my mind that I would kill a couple hours once getting home in the virtual underwater world of the Big Daddies and Little Sisters. When I finally got home, I was happy to see the download done, and the game sitting at a wonderful "100% complete" Play Me!!! status.

What a disappointment that was. The first few times I launched the game, I was met by complete rejection in the form of "Bioshock.exe has performed an illegal operation and needs to close". No problem, I thought, a few tweaks here and there, maybe a new driver or two, and I'll be up and running in no time. Ack! I wish I hadn't thought that. Turns out that the PC version of Bioshock is in dire need of some patching. While some are enjoying it plenty, others are suffering through crashes every five minutes and still more people like me can't even get it to load.

Eventually I did, indeed get it to load, but after only a few moments in the game came to realize that something was very, very wrong. The graphics were screaming (Thanks, 512mb ATI X1600), but the sound was horrible. Distortion, sound spikes, and general crappiness burst forth from my speakers. After a mere minute or two in the game environment, I had had enough. No problem, I'll tweak my drivers. Unh hunh, sure, not bloody likely. I've been at it since 8:30pm, and no amount of driver updates, tweaks, or disabled startup programs seems to help. For a good while, it just went back to it's non-start mode, frustrating the crud out of me. Attempting to update my sound drivers resulted in one of the very first blue screens that I've experienced in Vista from which it couldn't recover. Ok, maybe I insist on running my SoundBlater Live 5.1, but it's a perfectly good card that has served me very, very well. I saw no reason to abandon it for the on board audio on my motherboard (even though it is a really good motherboard with a great audio processor), until tonight.

So, as I write this, I still haven't played Bioshock. I just finished enabling and installing the drivers for my on board audio, and I'm about to give it another whirl. If this doesn't work, I'm pretty sure that my flatmate will find me in the morning, curled up in a corner, rocking myself and mumbling something to the tune of "Bioshock, Biocrock, Biof$ck" to myself over and over.

So, without further Ado, I leave you all once more. Hopefully I'll be posting again soon, but, if not, you will likely find me in a padded room, using rubber cutlery and wearing one of those wonderful shirts that make you hug yourself.

Wish me luck!


Tah said...

Good luck!

And stop updating so frequently. You're making the rest of us look bad. ;-)

Tah said...

Just found this shortly after reading your blog. Thought you might want to see it:

He's got some other Biochock info about these issues (I think) on the main blog:

I didn't really pay attention to them since I don't really care about Bioshock.

And if you're a RPG and/or LotR fan you should check out his comic, DM of the Rings. Linked from the blog. :-)

Nettie said...

I'm pretty sure Bioshock is the gory game I mentioned that Christian was playing when I commented before. I'm pretty sure he had issues as well but it seemed to work ok in the end. He's gootne bored of it now and has moved on I think.

And that 2 Litre bottle of coke is just plain weird! Not only the lack of 'enhancement' but also it's shaped differently to ours! When I went to visit Boo, I remember getting all excited over the shape of their bottles, to the point where I took photos. I think I'd do that if I came to visit you too!

Smerk said...

Eh, I didn't think the shape of the bottle was all that different to ours, Nettie. Mind you, I can't really remember the last time I did look at a 2 Litre Coke bottle...

Transfrmr said...

Thanks Tah :)

I actually didn't have any issues with the DRM, then again, I set it up so the DRM is pretty isolated on the system.

After all that work last night, and changing to my onboard audio, I'm still having problems with the sound though. Not quite as bad as others I've read about, mine just cuts in and out at times or sounds garbled.

I'm going to try a few other things today, but the game is playable and the graphics are awesome and fast, even at full resolution for everything.

I may just end up buying a newer Sound card, but after experiencing the exact same problems with two different cards, I'm not so sure that will fix it.

I will definitely be checking out the comic :)

So Nettie, what do Coke bottles look like down under? Would it help if I turned the picture upside down? :P

Nettie said...

They are more ... contoured I guess you could say. Those ones just kind of go up and down, the ones here curve at the top more and are a bit wider and a bit shorter...

And I'm not describing myself! lol

I shall try and get a photo of one but as I rarely buy them it might take me a while. And no, before anyone suggests it, I'm not going to traipse off to Coles with my camera just for your entertainment!

MadCarlotta said...

Hey - now MY RSS feeds went down! Scandalous!

I noticed the Coke label designs too. I love them. Chris thinks they were a misprint, but I disagree.

I'm sorry you are so tired. I can completely relate to that today. I hate it. :(

MadCarlotta said...

P.S. I like the new blog toys :)

oppiejoe said...

Ok... I just noticed that you have a blog dude...

Linky added to my blog.

NEO said...

I want one of those coke bottles, I might save it or something.

Transfrmr said...

Only 29.99$ and you can have your very own!

I wonder how much shipping is on a bottle of Coke, lol.