Archive for June, 2005

Hleb signs for Arsenal

June 28th, 2005

Arsenal.com reports that Alexander Hleb has signed for Arsenal in a deal that could rise to €15 million. The Belarussian midfielder arrives from VfB Stuttgart. The move is dependant on Hleb passing a medical and obtaining a work permit.

It is not clear where Arsène will play Hleb. He may continue his role on the right of midfield, possibly replacing Freddie if he decides to go. However, he may play more in the Bergkamp position, and could be seen as his replacement. I look forward to seeing Hleb in action, and the pre-season matches may give us a clue as to what Arsène will do with him.

AnandTech compares the XBox 360 and the PS3

June 27th, 2005

Anandtech have a discussion comparing the XBox 360 with the PS3 (mentioned by Major Nelson). The article is quite lengthy, and goes into some detail on the comparisons between the two consoles. They think that it will take some time for developers to take advantage of the two different architectures. This means shifting to true mutli-threaded game engines on the XBox 360, and harnessing the full power of the PS3’s SPE units in the Cell CPU.

The differing GPU architectures will also require developers to change how they work to take full advantage of new features. The XBox 360 Xenos GPU can dynamically adjust between processing geometry to processing pixels, which does offer the potential to have higher polygon counts and thus more detailed geometry. The PS3’s GPU can provide output at up to 1080p, which offers some advantage over the XBox 360. While presently few people will be able to take advantage of this high resolution, over the next few years displays that can handle this will become more common.

Overall, both machines are powerful, but will take some adjusting for developers to take full advantage of the new features of each machine. The XBox 360 has gone for a more cost-conscious design, with money saved by not including the extras that the PS3 will include (more USB ports, media card readers, HDMI video connectors, Gigbit ethernet ports). The choice of Blu-ray discs for the PS3 will give developers over 23GB of storage at a minimum, but the extra cost and ongoing debate over standards mean that the XBox 360’s choice of standard 12x DVD drive offers a lower risk option.

In the end of the day, I think that it will boil down to the games, since both machines will be very powerful, though different. XBox 360 developers will potentially have a couple of months lead on PS3 developers in getting the most out of their games. However, the games still need to be good games first and foremost, and not just technical demos of GPU power. Roll on Halo 3 :)

Arsenal news – Draft fixtures list, transfer speculation, new kit

June 24th, 2005

Arsenal.com have details of the draft fixture list for next season. It hardly seems like the last season is over, and already we’re talking about the next one!

The season kicks off with a home game against Newcastle, and finishes with a home game against newly-promoted Wigan. The Gunners cross London for their second match, which is away to Chelsea, and Manchester United visit Highbury on January 2nd.

In transfer news, Stuttgart are not preventing Hleb from talking to Arsenal, so it looks like this transfer may happen if the price is right. However, both Pires and Ljungberg have not agreed new contracts yet, and it’s looking more likely that Pires at least may be joining Edu at Valencia.

Arsenal’s new redcurrant commemorative home kit was officially launched this week, and you can buy it online at the Arsenal.com shop. I’m still not sure about the colour, but the idea of going back to the same colour as the first season at Highbury is a nice one. When I see it in the flesh, I’m sure it will look great :)

Finally, happy birthday to Patrick Vieira, who turned 29 yesterday. Thankfully this summer seems to be a quieter one for him, with the Real Madrid saga seemingly finally at an end.

Come fly with me…

June 18th, 2005

Last Saturday I had my first introductory flying lesson with Sky Trace flying school, based in Weston Aerodrome in west Dublin. The weather was lovely, with little wind and only the occaisonal cloud to spoil the sunny morning.

Since it was to be the first flight of the day, my instructor Augustin showed me all the checks that have to be done on the Robin 2160 (EI-SKV). Once we had checked the control surfaces, warning lights, oil level, etc., we climbed in and I got familiar with the cockpit. We went through the pre-flight checks, then taxied over to a spot where we performed some engine tests. Once we were happy with the engine’s performance, we taxied to the end of the runway and requested clearance for takeoff, which was given straight away. Augustin pushed in the throttle, and very quickly we were up into the air.

Once airborne, we climbed to 1500 feet and headed in the direction of Maynooth. Once there, we climbed to 2000 feet and aimed for Enfield. On the way there, Augustin let me take control and get used to the feel of the small adjustments needed to keep the plane flying level and in a straight line. Once over Enfield, he showed me how to do a banked turn, which I then performed, going anti-clockwise first, then clockwise. We then turned around and headed back to Maynooth, stil with me at the controls.

Once at Maynooth, Augustin took control once more and brought us down to 1500 feet in anticipation of our landing back at Weston. We flew over the airfield, perpendicular to the runway, then turned left and came around for the landing. I was a little nervous of the landing, having only experienced landing in larger jet aircraft. However, the low weight of the plane and Augustin’s deft handling both contributed to a very soft landing, much to my relief!

It was only a half-hour flight, but I had confirmed that I wasn’t terrified stiff, and that I really enjoyed it. I signed up for my next lesson there and then, and I am planning to get my Private Pilots Licence. For that I will need 45 hours flying time, and will need to pass several exams on topics such as navigation and meteorology. It will probably take me over 2 years to get there, but I’m looking forward to the trip :)

NVIDIA technology licensed by Microsoft for XBox 360 to assist backwards compatibility

June 18th, 2005

Eurogamer are reporting that Microsoft have licenced technology from NVIDIA to assist with backwards compatibility for the XBox 360. Since the original XBox used an NVIDIA GPU, while the XBox 360 uses an ATI chipset, this was always going to be one of the main problems in getting backwards compatibility to work. Microsoft seem to have solved this part of the puzzle, though at a price – they’ll have to pay licencing fees to NVIDIA for some years to come.

Major Nelson tries out Halo 2 on an Xbox 360

June 18th, 2005

HBO reports that Major Nelson has tried out Halo 2 on an XBox 360 – and he couldn’t tell the difference :) The man himself talks about it on his blogcast of the 12th of June.

Robin van Persie held by Dutch police

June 18th, 2005

Robin van Persie faces a further two weeks in custody with the Dutch police as they investigate rape allegations against the Arsenal player. He was arrested last weekend and detained while the investigation progresses. So far Arsenal have refused to make any official comment.

Dutch police can potentially hold him for a further three months once the two week period expires. It is expected that he will apply for bail, but in any case, he will not be allowed to leave the country. This means that he will not be able to join up with his Arsenal colleagues for pre-season training, which begins in early July. I hope that the allegations are unfounded, and that the situation is resolved speedily.

Liverpool will defend their Champions League title next season

June 18th, 2005

UEFA have relented and are allowing Liverpool to defend their Champions League title next season. Liverpool will have to go through all the qualifying rounds, and will not be restricted from potentially playing against other Premiership sides.

UEFA have also changed the Champions League rules so that in the event of a similar situation arising again where the winners of the Champions League have failed to qualify for the next season, then the fourth qualifying team will have to give up their place for the defending champions.

HBO’s Halo Cutscene Library complete

June 18th, 2005

Louis Wu has finished putting up all the Halo cutscenes into their Halo Cutscene Library. If you get all the hi-res QuickTime versions, you’re looking at 37 files totalling 387 MB!

I’m planning at some stage in the medium future to revamp my Halo Screensaver so that it can use playlists of files, so that you can watch all the cutscenes one after another, or maybe a whole season of Red vs. Blue :)

Halo movie details

June 18th, 2005

The ongoing rumours of a Halo movie have been vindicated with the news that Microsoft have distributed a script for a Halo movie to several Hollywood studios. The scripts were delivered by couriers rigged out in full Master Chief armour, no doubt provided by Nightmare Armour. The script has been penned by Alex Garland who was the script writer for 28 Days Later. He allegedly was paid $1 million for writing the script. According to Frankie in this week’s Weekly What’s Update Alex is a Halo fan. Commenting on the early draft of the script that Frankie saw, he says that “it rules”.

According to HBO, The New York Times has an article that gives more information, including Microsoft’s demands:

Aside from the $10 million upfront fee, Microsoft was asking for 15 percent of the studio’s first-dollar box- office gross receipts. The budget could be no less than $75 million, not including the fees for the actors and director. If the studio did not make the movie, it would forfeit the $10 million fee.

Microsoft also wanted creative control, with the script and characters unchanged. The studio would have to pay to fly a Microsoft representative to watch all cuts of the movie, and the studio would forgo merchandising rights.

According to the article, Microsoft has not got things its own way, and has tentatively reached agreement with Universal Pictures and 20th Century Fox. Apparently the details of the agreement are:

Microsoft would be paid no more than $5 million for Halo, half the original asking price. That amount was part of a deal to give Microsoft 10 percent of the first-dollar box-office gross receipts, less than before but still considerable given Microsoft’s lack of a track record. Universal, in turn, would oversee production and get domestic distribution rights, while Fox would get the foreign rights and have a say in production.

The main sticking point seems to be the creative control that Microsoft wishes to retain.

Personally, I’d really look forward to a Halo movie – but I’d rather not have any Halo movie than have one that messes with the story or doesn’t abide by the Halo Story Bible. Whether it’s live action of CGI doesn’t bother me, but live-action would be great if they could pull it off. I’m not sure who I’d like playing the Master Chief – perhaps Steve Downes who does the voice of the MC in the games. However, I think Scarlett Johansson would make an excellent Cortana :)