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Date: Monday, 01 Aug 2011 12:42

The new Vaio Z, in terms of specifications, is a pretty amazing ultraportable. It incorporates the fastest available dual core 2nd generation Intel® Core™ i7 processor and a matte 13.1" 1080p screen, in a carbon fibre and aluminium chassis which weighs just 1.165kg (with standard 6.5h+ battery) and is only 16.65mm thick. USB 3.0, a VGA port and ethernet are all available, without dongles. There's nothing else which comes close - unless price is a factor.

The fastest available 13" MacBook Air (recently refreshed) has a lower resolution glossy (urgh) screen, a processor which is rated for 0.9Ghz less performance and is heavier (200 g). It also has far fewer ports. To be fair, it's probably thinner overall and I suspect many more will opt for this because of price.

The closest Windows alternative is the Samsung Series 9 (which is like the MBA, but worse - even lower resolution screen and even slower processor). This is also the cheapest of the models mentioned. Even cheaper Windows alternatives are supposed to launch in September, the Intel "Ultrabooks".

Should buy a Vaio Z? Yes - if you want to run Windows, need to carry a laptop around (for work or otherwise) and can afford it (i.e. without selling a body part). I've pre-ordered.

To help you decide, reviews have arrived early this time, even before actual production units are available to those who pre-ordered. Unfortunately, the Z is said to be "noisy" (under load) although the other aspects pan out - the screen is reportedly gorgeous (execept at more extreme angles) and it boots quickly - within 28-38 seconds at default settings; and the reviews all fail to enable "fast boot" in the BIOS, which ignores peripherals until after login and can apparently cold boot in 14 seconds. On noise - I own a 2008 Vaio Z which was also said to be noisy, but for that system it was rarely a problem.

Read the reviews yourself - and once mine arrives I'll probably post impressions ;)

PC Pro
Laptop Magazine
IT Pro
This is my next

Author: "Alex"
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Date: Sunday, 26 Jun 2011 05:50

Army of Darkness was a 1992 movie, part of the Evil Dead franchise created and directed by Sam Raimi.

The franchise is back, in a iPhone/iPad app, "Army of Darkness Defense". If you liked the movie, you should get the app - the app is free (for now at least) and has great production quality, making this a remarkably easy decision. If you start it up and enjoy it, excellent.

You shouldn't have any trouble getting through the main game. "Gameplay is a little too simple". "Endless" mode though, which is unlocked after you finish 50 levels, is a mite tougher.

Soo - how do you get through that?

The recipe/strategy for the 69 million (so far) clusterf**k above, is:

(1)Get: Max level Armored Guards, Spearmen, Henry, "Magic Words", "Deathcoaster", Smithy. At least level 8 Archers, Level 6 Arthur, Level 4 Wiseman.

(2) don't pin the dead down to the castle entrance immediately, instead - use delay tactics until your blacksmith gets to max level and max iron. During this time Magic Words may be used, but only after running all the way to the left of the screen (to the Book). Don't use Deathcoaster unless your units are far to the left.

(3) When you're ready, summon Arthur together together with a Armoured Guard and Spearmen and use "Magic Words". You should aim to have this mass of humans meet the dead somewhere within the castle. When they're about to meet, summon henry and thereafter summon Armoured Guards and Spearmen continuously. Armoured Guards and Spearmen need to work together, although you should bias slightly towards Armoured Guards (if all of these die, uh. bye!). Summon the Wiseman.

(4) Deathcoaster should be used when you have approx. 5-6 Armoured Guards, 10-12 Spearmen and Arthur, Henry and Wisemen at the head of your army. Deathcoaster should also be used to clear out clusters of dead archers, but delay as long as possible - you're aiming to kill them to keep them from wiping out your Armoured Guards/heroes, but you need to have a sufficient number of Spearmen in place before you pin the dead against the castle door - because once that happens:

(5) Evil Ash (bad) and/or Possessed Sheila (preferred) will appear. Continuously. At this point you've either already amassed sufficient Armoured Guards and Spearmen to defeat them easily each time they appear, or you're going to die.

(6) If you've got enough, congratulations! Just keep reincarnating Arthur and Henry, use Magic Words and Deathcoaster whenever available, and summon streams of Armoured Guards and Spearmen.

Finish all the achievements!

By the way - if you're planning on earning money from Endless before this, you'll want to do things differently - basically just set up deathcoaster runs (i.e. let the dead approach, then kill them all with the deathcoaster and run with the deathcoaster to pick up money).

Edit: I went back and played a little more. My iPad 2 hung at about 80 million. BOO. On the bright side I didn't lose the money I'd earned - Hello there 324,000 gold! :)

Check out this application on the App Store:

Cover Art

Army of Darkness Defense HD

Backflip Studios

Category: Games

Updated: 07 Jun 2011

280 Ratings

Game Center

Author: "Alex" Tags: "Apple"
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Date: Monday, 16 Aug 2010 12:54

I've been wrapped in the embrace of Apple since the iPhone became available globally.

No Symbian (note: Symplification) phone released since then has been compelling (to date none has a competitive mobile browser and a quick look at shipping Nokia Symbian phones suggests that all such phones are not in the same "smartphone" league as RIM/Apple/Android - indeed, they are plagued with the same basic problem the Nokia 7610 had in 2004 - a non-Nokia guide + time is needed to use a Symbian phone to potential). Nokia's fortunes have fallen, as a result. In spite of this, as of Q2 2010, Nokia is still the world's leading smartphone (Symbian) vendor. This is a position that Nokia has held for at least the last 6 years. I suggest that this is not a fluke - Nokia has endured in spite of the mediocrity of Symbian as a smartphone OS because Nokia executes well (i.e. makes good devices and phones which are usable as phones).

By this logic, assuming Nokia continues to execute, they are poised to reverse marketshare losses - not because of Symbian (although presumably Symbian will eventually improve) but because of Maemo - now MeeGo. In particular, i think it is clear that Nokia is poised to take back marketshare once Nokia starts to ship a "current-gen" mobile OS.

While the question of whether MeeGo is a "current-gen" mobile OS is somewhat debatable until the first consumer devices ship, it is helpful to note: (i) MeeGo's precedessors have been reasonably acceptable (e.g. Nokia N900, although note that the Nokia N800, with a MeeGo-precedessor OS, never achieved the widespread popularity of the similarly positioned iPad); and (ii) MeeGo's adoption in July as the next reference platform by an automotive industry group which essentially comprises every car manufacturer of note, impressive because Android was the obvious alternative and perhaps choice, being also "open source".

All the above is not really news and was probably insufficient to save Nokia's current CEO from being axed, but what Oracle has started by suing Google is potentially even better for MeeGo - it might be the tipping point for manufacturer-led adoption of MeeGo.

This is because:
(i) MeeGo, Android, Symbian and Microsoft are the only available options apart from self-developing;
(ii) while Symbian was not used extensively when it was Nokia-controlled, Android has now been adopted extensively, providing a precedent;
(iii) Symbian is a non-starter (see above, ^3 etc. may help but OSes need devices, and Nokia has pledged that it's high end is MeeGo); and
(iv) Microsoft costs money (and is equally unproven).

Android was the obvious choice for as a manufacturer response to iOS because of track record (i.e. (ii)) and being free (iv), but with the patent litigation risk (see ArsTechnica for a legal analysis of Oracle's claim which seems to be credible) it is hard to see any manufacturer willing to continue to take the risk without serious mitigation -phones on current roadmaps are likely to continue to be released, but the obvious alternative is to spend more device R&D dollars on WM7 and MeeGo. This is especially true because that it is not clear that Google is actively assisting HTC in HTC's defence against's Apple's patent infringement suit, apart from issuing some PR-friendly statements .

Why does Nokia benefit from this? Again, execution. It's probably reasonable to expect that Nokia's phones will always be ahead (just!) of the pack. If the pack comprises all phone manufacturers of note, the bar becomes higher. I do like Nokia. While I expected that my next phone would be Android driven, perhaps not!

N.B.: The iPhone 4 is fine and dandy, it has a gorgeous screen, is faster and gets some data network connectivity in previously "dead" zones, but I've been suffering from dropped calls and bad voice connections (and I don't even use it terribly often as a phone). Coupled with the failure to implement some really basic interface features (e.g. the ability to quickly switch bluetooth/tethering on/off), as alternatives mature the temptation to jump increases. Maybe it's just because I'm a PC (*koffkoff*). As a brief aside, notice also that arguably the best hardware available as a non-iPhone smartphone is STILL the HTC HD2. Pity about the OS it runs and I wonder why even the newest Android HTC devices don't obviously surpass it.

Note: As of the date of this post, the author has no shares or other interest in any named company, except that in his capacity as a solicitor he may have acted for one or more such companies on matters unrelated to this post; the author has not acted for any company in relation to Oracle's claim.

Author: "Alex" Tags: "Symbian, Apple"
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Date: Tuesday, 10 Aug 2010 10:55

In today’s world computers are more prevalent and more accessible than they have ever been before. The prices of computers all across the spectrum of manufacturers are beginning to decline and the feature lists keep getting longer. In this sea of computers a consumer can get overwhelmed, especially considering the varying choices available. The first rule of thumb is to decide which segment of the market suits you. Excluding those who prefer Apple computers(OS X)/iPads, Windows 7 is the obvious option, and the typical categories of computer hardware to choose from are: "on-the-go", "gaming" and "everyday".

The general populous, using their computers for the average tasks (checking email, surfing the web, basic document formatting etc.) are considered the everyday users and the best choice is to buy a name-brand (Dell, HP, Acer, etc.) desktop computer with a long warranty . Even the most affordable desktop computer is now more than capable of providing an excellent experience while checking mail, surfing the web, online shopping and more. Features and specifications are almost irrelevant if this is all you need to do - but buy something with at least 2 GB of RAM, allowing your computer to run smoother and faster when multitasking. Some really great products on the market include the Dell Inspiron 570 MT and the HP Pavilion p6500z series, both of which offer a black finish, 2 GB of RAM, 320 GB of hard drive and a standard Windows 7 OS to tie the components together for $299 excluding the monitor. Another option available are products from Acer, one of which priced at a little over $400 is an attractive deal coming with features such as 4 GB of RAM and 500 GB of hard drive, more than enough for your everyday user but for a reasonable price. If these options are right for you, then no problem due to how easy it is to add additional hardware and software components to your PC making it a user friendly option.

For on-the-go, portable computing, the first decision to be made is what your size and performance preferences are. If it is expected that the laptop will be carried around once a day or more, avoid computers which weigh more than 2kg. Such a user should also consider netbook options for on the go use, but needs to recognize the differences between a laptop and netbook. Major differences include the obvious such as screen size, keyboard size and trackpad size. There are however hardware and software differences including less RAM and less hard drive meaning you may not be able to accomplish everything you need to on a netbook. Before making the decision, go out and try one for yourself! Apart from going and trying one out for yourself utilize the internet, read articles and reviews and to ask questions at forums such as What Notebook Should I Buy" is a good idea. [et]

Besides the everyday users and the on the go users, there is a third category which is more demanding than the other two combined, the gamers. Don’t worry though, there are more than enough options for even the most hard core gamer out there due to the incredible number of computer parts on the market, allowing you to customize your setup to just how you want it. If a dual core processor isn’t cutting it, they make quad core processors and Mac is even coming out with a 12-core processor! Graphics cards are being made more powerful than ever allowing your gaming experience to be even clearer and more realistic and there are thousands of power and cooling options as well to make sure your set up doesn’t over heat and that you have enough good clean power to get the job done.

There are differences in computer users out there, but luckily there are enough options for everyone - just look into what is right for you and you will walk away with the right computer for you.

This is an guest post by Michael Blumreich, who is also a contributor to Laptop Reviews.com. He's currently a university student and lover of all things tech.

Author: "Michael"
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Date: Saturday, 12 Dec 2009 11:49

The joojoo looks hot. Look at the side/back view here.

There's some controversy, including a complaint prepared by a law firm. Engadget has more details.

I'm not sure I would actually buy it (yes yes, I know the Nokia 8800 is expensive), but if I wanted a web tablet and/or had $499 lying around... mm. Well. It's pretty.

Author: "Alex" Tags: "Mobile Tech"
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Date: Sunday, 13 Sep 2009 21:59

One area in which Nokia has always been at it's best is in the production of 'luxe phones - which are just a little pricey... not massively pricey: e.g. Vertu.

Assuming this promotional video is correct, we'd say Nokia has a 'luxe phone hit on their hands. Looks positively scrumptious. If I get one, I promise to review it.

I was going to post about the Leica M9 (USD 7k, in black and steel grey, order now if you want one), which is another aesthetically pleasing 'luxe object - but The Online Photographer has linked most of the reviews I wanted to link... and has other relevant content for an aspiring purchaser. Get one as THE "status symbol" camera to go with your erdos - particularly when paired with the new a (USD 10k) Noctilux - 0.95 please. Although if you have that purely as a status symbol the phone you might need to have IS a Vertu...

[via Boy Genius Report]

Author: "Alex"
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Date: Thursday, 20 Aug 2009 08:05

The Symbian platform has been the cornerstone of the smartphone market, with a declining but still dominant marketshare - but for how much longer?

Mobile-review.com claims in a recent article that Nokia will no longer use Symbian in it's highest-end phones - instead Nokia will only use it where competing on price.

This claim, if true, together with the fact that Symbian ^4 is going to break application compatibility (devices from 2010) seem to indicate that Symbian is moving decidedly downmarket - while it's likely to still be a "smartphone" platform, in the technical sense that it will be able to run applications written for the phone (and not just in Java), I predict that Symbian's new target might be (or should be) to seriously unify the mid-range phone market. This is actually a good thing, and I hope it happens - there's simply no need (for example) to have the Nokia/Sony Ericsson "reversed" key approach, which are fossils from internally developed device OSes. This is also a good thing, because the lowest common denominator might become Symbian rather than Java.

Of course, perhaps this was all Symbian really ever was (sorry about the formatting *cough*). Mobile-review.com also suggests that Maemo is Nokia's new "high-end" OS, the true response to Apple/RIM/etc. One wonders how many platforms there can be before platform fatigue/irrelevancy sets in. Nokia should pray that Windows Mobile 7 is not as delcious as Windows 7 in its arena.

Author: "Alex" Tags: "Mobiles, Symbian"
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Date: Monday, 27 Jul 2009 08:32

This is going to be terribly short.

1. The iPhone 3GS sounds better, through the UE11 Pro, than the iPhone 3G (3.0 - not tested with other firmware). It's noticeably better - a sufficient improvement that it's probably worth an upgrade if you listen lots.

2. I marginally prefer the sound of the iPhone 3GS, through the UE11 Pro, to that of a Sansa Clip 4GB (Revision 1 with firmware 01.01.32). For reference, I preferred the Sansa to the 3G, but stuck to the 3G for most uses for convenience.

3. The iPhone is, as previously mentioned, noticeably faster. This improvement means that reading an RSS feed or surfing, while listening to music, is almost entirely lag free. This is very nice.

To be clear, the audio comparisons are of the headphone out, without external amplification, of EAC-ripped, LAME encoded 320kbps CBR mp3s. Sorry that I'm not using a lossless format :p

Author: "Alex"
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Date: Friday, 10 Jul 2009 19:30

The Apple iPhone 3GS is in Singapore! The new back and the un-updated look isn't all that exciting, but it -is- noticeably faster and in my view if you're willing to pay the asking price that feature alone means an upgrade is a great idea.

The Singapore launch happened on 10 July 2009. Prices were reasonable, from a certain perspective - any existing iPhone 3G user (and others on a running Singtel contract) could upgrade by paying an additional 300 Singapore dollars (USD 205) over the normal contract price and signing up for a new 24 month contract (more info).

Singtel, unfortunately, suffers from atrocious, awful, planning. Even though they forced payment of SGD 50 (refundable) for the privilege of reserving a phone, Singtel managed to give out enough reservations or allow a sufficient number of walk-ins, such that a wait of 5-7 hours was probably inevitable. More about this later.

New iPhone 3GS features and box contents

Apart from the speed, the iPhone also comes with a new slim AC adaptor. The US had a very small AC adaptor for the iPhone 3G, but this slim three pin version is new to me.

The iPhone 3GS also comes with headphones which have a volume control on them, and adds video recording/editting, a compass and a new oil-resistant screen coating. In Singapore, we also get (bundled) online video. I'll comment later on other features reviews tend not to focus on (like sound quality), but there are already several good iPhone 3GS reviews up at the usual suspects which are probably worth reading if you're interested in buying.

From Arstechnica: Review: iPhone 3GS lives up to its speedy claims
engadget: iPhone 3GS review

You should also note the news about the new screen wearing off, and the iPhone 3GS overheating.

More about Singtel's launch

The launch was widely advertised in email mailers, snail mail mailers, and when you actually reserved the phone online, to be from 6pm to midnight. This was misleading, sales started only at 8.30pm. Apparently this was clear from newspapers on the day itself. Perhaps I should start reading those. We eventually sat down.

I was sufficiently disturbed at the end of the ordeal (to be fair, Singtel provided bottled water, cakes, and ice cream) that I asked to speak with whoever was in-charge. The person I spoke with was James Askounis, who claimed he was head of Singtel Group customer care. Unfortunately, he had managed to run out of current business cards because he had been "giving them out". I'm sure he's nice enough, but pity James came across as being somewhat condescending (perhaps because I was a tad sensitive after the wait) and was, alarmingly, completely incapable of providing any good reason for the pathetic situation. James said that supplies were limited so they decided to go for a "first come first served" launch, he said that the iPhone 3G first-day launch was similar. The reader is left to consider why those are inadequate responses which border on being moronic (as reasons for a 6-7 hour delay for a paid-for pre-order).

Also, apparently Singtel doesn't put people in charge of particular events. Odd. That's the only time James became a little prickly - when I asked who was in charge (response: oh, there's no one person in charge). Maybe that's the reason for "the suck".

I have the distinct impression that the long queues were the plan, perhaps as part of a press stunt. If so, that's disgraceful. Perhaps Singtel should publish very clear disclaimers so I (and other people who don't like waiting in line for excessively extended periods of time) wouldn't have gone. Or maybe they should use reservations as reservations are intended to be used, by God. They should also invent plausible reasons, but I can't think of any except -not- taking the 50 bucks.

For the record, I was very pleased last year - I waited in line for about 30 minutes, after having made a reservation to pick up the phone at a specific time. I didn't even have to pay in advance. Singtel actually -regressed-! It's somewhat ironic that buying the "speedy" iPhone 3GS resulted in serious time wasting.

Singtel ought to learn that customer care is about actually providing top-class service the first time. James said he was happy to speak with me and politely said he was pleased to meet me after we finished speaking, but honestly, I'd rather be provided such great service that I never need to talk to a customer service representative except when buying a new phone/changing plans/etc. James, I'm sure you'll read this - the service is just not good enough.

Oh, and to rub salt into the wound, there was one thing which did stop at midnight - all the entertainment and background music. I can't actually comment on the entertainment, since I didn't see most of it myself. From LCD screens hanging around, I think there was a local group doing covers, a deejay, and appearances by some Singtel F1 Grid Girls. Maybe Singtel had a public entertainment licence or something which expired at midnight, but whatever the reason - still shoddy.

iPhone 3GS - PASS
Singtel- FAIL

Well. Singtel fails just for the launch event. We'll see whether surfing is actually faster - I'm not sure whether I should be hopeful. I've heard many awful stories about Singtel - e.g. ridiculous termination penalties which -carry over-. Maybe they're worth exploring.

Photos with further commentary

Step 1! Pity there were no indications of waiting time.

The sky was bright when we started

I want, but not enough to wait for 7 hours.

Ooh. Promising. A pre-order queue

This is when I got a little tired of taking photos

This is now empty (compare with the photo immediately above) because the queue has just stopped moving (since sales hadn't started). The "sitting down" photo should be added, chronologically, right here.

ZOMG. Movement!

The wait certainly wasn't 2X faster.

"Just one more queue, not too long, not too short" they said. LIES. DAMNED LIES!!!! Also, guys, a chirrupy deejay who says "Wow, amazing how you've all waited for so long! Keep your sprits up!" right before PACKING UP AND LEAVING, its really a bad idea.

[Photos: Symplification. With a Pentax K-7, DA* 16-50, DA 35/2.8 Macro Limited]

Author: "Alex" Tags: "Mobiles, Apple, Mobile Tech"
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Date: Monday, 13 Apr 2009 22:48

Puzzle Quest is pretty fun.

If you haven't tried it yet, it's almost definitely available on any platform choice - it's on the Sony PSP, Nintento DS, PC (Intel GMA 950 is probably enough), Playstation Network (for PS3), XBLA (for XBOX 360), iPhone/iPod touch, and most other mobile platforms (although our affiliate Clickgamer unfortunately doesn't seem to carry it).

Anyhow, I've been playing it, on the PC (on which it looks pretty and has a easy mouse interface) although I've tested the iPhone and PSP versions (iPhone is slow, fiddly, PSP interface is not ideal). The PC version also appears to have mods - LINK - note that I have not tried them all.

The game was first released on the DS/PSP in early 2007, and those versions were pretty sweet - you could build characters which could annhilate an opponent in a single round (not luck based). However, at least the PC version has been... reduced, such that the best spells are now quite limited. Having said that, you can still build pretty potent characters, but the methodology isn't obvious from GameFAQs (although it's useful), and the combinations suggested from some type of mathamatical analysis are (generally) wrong.

So, how to build a dreamy character?


While I say "new", I know that the iPhone and some other versions have classes which I will not be dealing with, but in general the same principles (see end of article) should apply. For the PC version, the Knight is in the most difficult situation (although I haven't played one to 50 yet, might decide to, but I just can't see how to overcome luck consistently in the new PC version).

Assuming you don't update to 1.02, the Druid is the best, if you research Death Gaze. (Version 1.02 reduces the strength of the holy lance/unholy lance).

Wizard is second, Warrior is close behind (although both of these don't require you to research anything).


First off, equipment. You can wear four types of items, head, weapon, body and misc. In general the best weapons need to be forged - the one who waits.com has a great section showing what can be made. To figure out where to find specific runes, use the map hosted by Infinite Interactive.

The best items are as follows:

Head: Rune of Jewels (head item) + Rune of Gods + Rune of (pick mana colour).
Body: Rune of (pick any body rune) + Rune of Gods + Rune of (pick mana colour).
Weapon: Firewalker's Staff (warrior/wizard), Holy Lance (Druid).
Misc: Rune of Music + Rune of Dragons + Rune of (pick mana colour).

Changes in the "New"

For the old versions, the key was to have enough mana (from your equipment), right from the beginning, to cast your "best" spell. For Warriors, Deathbringer. Wizards, Flaming Skulls. Knights and Druids, Death Gaze. The only spell which has not changed in the PC version is Flaming Skulls.

If you also have the appropriate skill pumped up (Warriors/Wizards, Fire - Druids, Air - Knight, probably battle), then you'd probably win right away.

Unfortunately (or, fortunately) Deathbringer and Death Gaze are now restricted to creating a maximum of 10 skulls, which means that you had better make sure you are using them only when there is a decent number of skulls (say, 10) or if you have no choice, no skulls, on the board. Otherwise, you're likely setting the opponent up (to pwn you).

To make matters worse, the forged equipment is also worse. Instead of +8 mana, a rune now gives +2 mana.

The weapons have also been toned down. Firewalker's Staff only adds half the damage it used to.

Finally, for spells with recharge, it appears that they recharge only when the opponent takes a turn, not when you get a "free turn".


What do you do? Well, if you're a Druid, you can forge equipment so that you can cast Evaporate immediately, or as soon as you get a blue/yellow 4-in-a-row. Then cast Gust of Wind (you should have at least 40/50 yelllow). Reincarnation is also useful. In any event, because you can fill your mana reserves, you can then cast Death Gaze quite easily, and since Death Gaze doesn't use yellow, random skull matches afterwards will still do lots of damage.

For Wizards, just watch for the 4-in-a-row green/skulls or blue/red and use flaming skulls as appropriate.

For Warriors, look for 4-in-a-row red/skulls, or simply do Beserk Rage to get skulls on the table then hope that a Deathbringer sets them off.

Skill distribution


39 earth (for 45 green mana, note that you can get +2 from a quest)
10 fire (for 30 red mana, note that you get +4 from a quest)
every thing else to Yellow (for Holy Lance).

Warrior/Wizard: everything to Red (for Firewalker's Staff)

So, principles: 1. Find spell/equipment. 2. Distribute experience to maximise the spell/weapon. 3. always have a dragonhorn (rune of music + rune of dragon forged item)

Author: "Alex" Tags: "Mobiles, Symbian, Apple, Software Review..."
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Date: Friday, 09 Jan 2009 08:52

Sony Members pre-order site:

(extra free screen protector)

General information page/pre-order:


The Singapore models (SGD 1299 and SGD 1699) don't have WWAN built-in, but are slightly cheaper. Weight is stated to be 620grams with a 60GB hard disk, or 584 grams with a 64GB SSD (including battery).

The faster model differentiates itself by having the SSD, a 1.6Ghz Atom (instead of 1.33) and Vista Home Premium (instead of basic).

I'm frankly tempted. I probably shouldn't be.

If you want more information about the P other than from Sony, the following may be useful:

Benchmarks: http://pc.watch.impress.co.jp/...9/0108/hotrev395.htm
Photos: http://www.pocket-lint.co.uk/news/news.phtml/20271/NEWS-20271-2a87279ab97c7d615b002249248440cf.jpg#image

Author: "Alex"
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Date: Thursday, 11 Dec 2008 06:21

First of all - It's generally somewhat overpriced. It's arguable that this is not so true in the US, because of the rebate running until the end of December and especially if you spec out the system more moderately, but the "high-end" options are expensive.

So, anyhow - the laptop has the following specifications (annotated - performance comments later on based on "my" config):
13.1" LED, half-glossy. 100% NTSC gamut screen.
1366*768 or 1600*900 (my) resolution
up to 4 GB DDR3 (my)
up to 320GB 7200rpm HDD (my) alternatively SSD: Sony ships dual Samsung 64GB SLC drives in raid or Samsung 128GB MLC drive, the intel X25-m is an option if you buy from certain authorised resellers
blu ray burner (my) or DVD burner
HDMI port
VGA port
FW 400 (no power) port
Switchable graphics - 4500 or 9300 GS 128/256MB (follows screen res)
alps trackpad
no trackpoint
no dedicated home/end/pageup, down (accessed via fn)
"carbon fibre" body (solid plastic, IMO), aluminium keyboard surface
gigabit ethernet
memory stick reader
sd reader
wireless on/off switch
fingerprint reader
640*480 video
built-in mic (apparently there's a "woosh" sound occasionally, audiable to other party in a skype call)
bundled with adobe elements
dock support
1.5KG with 3-4 hour battery (doesn't stick out).


So - in the 12/13" non-glossy, dock supporting laptop space, there are two classes of laptops. Slow (generally - less than 2Ghz C2D's) and fast (faster than 2GHz C2D's, 2.5" hard disk supported).

In the fast category, there are only: lenovo X200, dell e4300, Sony Z.

I bought the Z because it wasn't (my subjective opinion) butt-ugly (x200) and didn't have awful user reviews (dell e4300 - see notebookreview.com). The e4300 also wasn't selected because it was heavier (1.8kg), with a stick-out (ugly) battery, not a very contrasty display, lousy (supposedly) keyboard feel.

Having said that, the Z has its share of compliants:
1. blu ray drive doesn't burn DL DVD (true)
2. fan is always on (true - i find it irrelevant because even in the quietest environments it doesn't disturb me. Having said that, I use it for office stuff. Not gaming).
3. squeaky keys/double type (hasn't happened to mine)
4. screen resolution too high (pfft. I loves it)
5. expensive (true)

So - because I really hardly do anything taxing on a day to day basis (the most is photoshop elements, which handily comes with it) my general impression is that the machine is extremely fast.

In particular, it's extremely responsive in day to day use, and seems (subjectively) to be as fast as my XP desktop (C2D oc'ed to 2.4GHz, 4GB, 8400GS, 500GB 7200), although the boot time (approx 100 seconds to usable desktop, including finger swipe type) is not that fantastic. Compared to my previous laptop (tx1000, X2 1.9GHz, 4GB, 160GB 5400) it's almost blazing.

The laptop feels solid, except that the screen bends when opening closing. However, this bending is not visible in the display (i.e. opening it and looking at the screen there are no ripples) although if i push in the middle I can make ripples. The palmrests don't creak although it is possible to push them down. The (alps) trackpad works well, with vertical/horizontal scroll zones and a nifty top left edge gesture thing (top left to center closes a window, etc.) The screen is amazing. The pixel density is a little high (higher than all desktop lcds) but.. still. Colours appear very saturated, although this may be fake (not calibrated). The half-glossy display is sufficiently un-glossy that I have no qualms working in a sunlit room (I've got a huge floor-length window behind me at work - where I use the machine). It switches on/off almost instantly (LED tech). The keyboard is a joy to use - while it's an "isolated" design, it's got significant key travel and I had no problems adjusting.

I should add that the laptop runs quite cool. The only part whch gets warm (even after 5-6 hours use where the indoor ambient is 28 deg C) is the vent (air is pushed out rather efficiently) - don't block it. It will warm up whatever is just outside. It's very comfortable sitting the laptop on your lap.

Aesthetically, the Z is pleasing - handsome but not all that flashy. I (subjective) think it's alot more attractive with the premium carbon lid ($50 option). The Macbooks are more attractive in stores - the multitude of stickers really does the Z no favours. Better when removed.

The main thing I would have liked is a backlit keyboard ;) Other "missing" things are accidental warranty (although available in the US) and international warranty (almost completely unavailable - perhaps available for the first year, but not as a 3 year warranty).

Large photos listed below.

Let me know if there is anything you'd like to know. (alexREM@VETHISsymplification.com).

Proper reviews of the Vaio Z:

Laptop Magazine - plus video
Trusted Reviews
Notebookreview Forums - Vaio Z Owners thread

Attached Media: image/jpeg (4 634 ko)
Author: "Alex" Tags: "Comment"
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Date: Monday, 15 Sep 2008 09:20

I've had the iPhone 3g for a couple of weeks now and today I've received a Blackberry Bold.

By way of background, while I had usually stuck with Nokia to satisfy my phone needs (after the Ericsson 388 - in 1997 or so), since I started busy-work I've experienced using a Blackberry (oldish model though - the 7290) and of course I've "defected" to Apple for my personal line. So much for "sym" plification eh?

The blackberry bold is a gift from RIM (bonus for launch party attendees - invite me to the next one too please!) and the iPhone 3G was purchased at retail.

I would say that the iphone has been quite a crappy phone (coming from a Nokia N80, 8800 and 5220), because of a lack of - forwarding messages, cut/paste, and battery life, but amazing as a browsing device and as an iPod. That's not what you're here about though...

First impressions:

Both quite pretty. Size is rougly comparable, iPhone is better, but the difference is not going to help you make the decision.

Screen - size vs. pixel density. Pick your poison.

Call quality seems to be similar. I won't really be using the bold as a phone phone - it's primarily a data line, but I tested it today and there was no big difference.

Built-in Speaker - the bold is LOUD. Very Loud. It's also got slightly better sound quality, but any headphones would be better. The bold also comes with "in ear" headphones.

Accessories - bold comes with a nice (real) leather slipcase, which is nice.

The bold doesn't browse quite as quickly. The reaction time of it's connection seems to be slower, although the rendering of the content seems to be equally quick. Where the bold has a built-in app but the iPhone doesn't, the bold is FAST. (see: gmail).

Bold has proper multitasking! Which enables a non-braindead messaging facility. In addition to SMS, MMS (which the iPhone lacks) you can use blackberry messenger, google talk, yahoo and msn. There might even be an aim client. While the iPhone 3G has custom apps for some of these chat protocols - you might as well not bother. The combination of the battery life (and to my mind firmware 2.1 has not made any difference) and the fact that you can't let the iPhone sleep at all to maintain an internet connection, means that messaging on the iPhone, even if you love the virtual keyboard, is basically a no-go. This -could- change if "push" notifications are enabled, but the bold is still likely to be better (see: physical keyboard, battery life).

Note that you can multitask partially on the iPhone - you'll still receive calls and sms messages while you're in an application, and you can use the iPod application simultaneously (press the home button twice to bring up an overlay on whatever actual application you're on).

On the virtual keyboard - the bold is obviously better, but the virtual keyboard + autocorrect doesn't leave the iPhone that far behind.

Email - bold wins. No question. Now with word / excel / powerpoint editting for extra special fun. It's actually somewhat better -viewing- attachments on the iPhone, however.


The iPhone is better to browse with - it's slightly snappier and the touch interface and larger screen conspire to improve the experience. I would also say it's better as a media player (yet to test this extensively with the blackberry, although I might not even bother because it's not clear how it can actually surpass the iPhone, and I would need to buy a large micro SD) .

Having said that, the iPhone: (i) sucks for SMS (just forwarding would be enough, darnit!); (ii) has a pretty crappy battery life (in absolute terms, I'm hoping the bold is better but I can't confirm yet); and (iii) is not yet the right choice for the enterprise or where email is crucial.

So, for most consumers, the iPhone's advantages might help, but if you have BES switching to an iPhone is like... the dark ages (for communication). Maybe get a bold + netbook - unlike the iPhone, the bold can actually tether.


On a separate note, if you have specific questions on iphone/bold feel free to email me:

You might also be interested to know that I have begun (occasionally) contributing to PhoneArena - here are some recent articles.


Photo credits: Image of bold taken with iPhone, Image of iPhone taken with bold. Both photos kinda suck - but I think there's no autofocus/macro on either, so... (note that the bold has a pretty bright flash).

Author: "Alex"
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Date: Tuesday, 19 Aug 2008 11:21

Which is not really news, but it might be interesting to note the prices/plans - starts at SGD 56 (USD 40) and SGD 348 (USD 245).

SingTel is making the iPhone 3G affordable for everyone. We're introducing a great new range of iFlexi plans that are loaded with BONUS mobile data for Mobile Internet Browsing, and extended free Wireless@SG. These plans have been specially built for you and your iPhone to deliver fantastic value, make sure you ask for an iFlexi plan when you sign up.

Monthly fee (incl GST)

Bundled data

(3.6 Mbps)

Bundled mins (outgoing)

Bundled SMS

iPhone 3G 8GB

iPhone 3G 16GB

iFlexi Value



200 mins

500 SMS


iFlexi Plus



500 mins

500 SMS



iFlexi Premium



1500 mins

1500 SMS



Data allowance above is a limited offer; only for customers who connect or recontract with SingTel on an iFlexi plan between launch and 5 September 2008.

All iFlexi plans feature free incoming calls.

Author: "Alex" Tags: "Mobiles"
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Date: Wednesday, 06 Aug 2008 20:57

Nano-Proprietary (now, apparently APNT), previously blamed for the delays in rolling out SED televisions, has lost what seems to be an important appeal.

The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has found that the “irrevocable, perpetual” licence agreement APNT had granted to Canon could not be terminated by APNT “notwithstanding a material breach of the agreement”. APNT dropped 17% from USD 1.09 on the Friday (25th July 2008) the decision was filed to USD 0.90 on the following Monday.

The court also confirmed that, by virtue of the licence agreement between APNT and Canon, Canon can now grant to its wholly owned subsidiary, SED Inc., a valid sublicence use the relevant APNT patents. Subsequent to APNT's initial claim SED Inc. was restructured from what was effectively a 50/50 joint venture between Canon and Toshiba into a 100% Canon subsidiary.

This is the first appeal. We're not familiar with the US appeals system, but judgment was only filed on 25th July 2008 (which we think makes it likely that it has not yet been decided whether there is any right to a further appeal). There’s a press statement from APNT dated 28th July which states that their counsel is currently considering options.

SED - hello glorious 55" screen with 1ms and 50,000:1 contrast - might yet appear!

[First seen at the Arstechnica forums in a post by Biggiesized]

Author: "Alex" Tags: "Internet"
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Date: Saturday, 28 Jul 2007 16:34

Symplification obviously hasn't been updated for some time, and the way things are going it's likely that they're not going to be.

It's not just the "new" job (and sometimes World of Warcraft, hehehe) - it's also that since that new job started I've been using a blackberry (with an unlimited data plan), and that single device provides basically all of the functionality I need.

For example, I have an N80 - but as it's music playing capabilities were rendered useless by an ipod shuffle (which is about the same size as the adaptor it needed for me to plug proper headphones in - and has much better sound quality through my super.fi 5 pros), the only thing I use it for nowadays is to actually make phone calls. Yeah - not even SMS.

Indeed, assuming you have Gmail App (for email) and the newest version of velvetpuffin (for instant messaging - disclosure, I've acted for the owner of velvetpuffin before) I don't think there's actually any reason to have a smartphone - anything which has data (preferably 3G) and supports those applications will do! So - buying a phone will become something which is almost -completely- about how you feel about the device.

And this is from the perspective of someone who actually uses a smartphone as a smartphone... (which is a whole other reason to think that "smartphones" are a waste).

It is, of course, possible to argue that I've just lost the faith, and it's also perfectly accurate to point out that phones are branching out even more than ever before (GPS, for example) - but unfortunately I suspect that it's all about usability, and the swiss-army knife device is likely to be inferior to the "real deal" (e.g. look how the prices of standalone GPS devices have fallen, and think about how much easier it is to have a nice big screen when being directed; or consider something how the creative zen stone plus manages to have a screen and 2GB in a device basically same size as the shuffle).

So - bye for the moment, and thanks for all your clicks! I'm likely to create some other website soon, because that's kinda fun. Don't know what it'll be about though... hmm. I did recently buy a new camera...

[sorry about that - I was getting too many spam comments - send me email if you have something to say, and I'll update accordingly ^.^]

Author: "Alex" Tags: "Mobiles, Symbian, Comment"
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Date: Friday, 30 Mar 2007 12:28

According to news.com.com (*koff koff horrible url*) the iPhone is going to be announced on the first day of WWDC.


This means that Nokia (and the other usual suspects - Moto, SE, Samsung, etc.) still have more than 2 months left. For Nokia, by their usual standards, this means that if they are going to have a direct iPhone competitor (touchscreen etc.) it has to be announced within the next couple of days.

We don't think the announced yesterday Nokia 5700 (pictured above) is it, although we do admit to liking some of the new styling cues.

Quick! Touchscreen device with symbian, multi-touch (like this!) tech, blackberry connect, 3.5mm plug and the music quality of at least an ipod shuffle, and I'm sold (if I were planning on getting an iPhone, and the multi-touch actually works such that our concerns about painful interfaces are misplaced).

[via Engadget]

Author: "Alex" Tags: "Mobiles, Symbian, Comment"
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Date: Thursday, 29 Mar 2007 10:27

Nokia Press release: "New York, NY - Nokia, a world leader in mobile communications, and EMI Music, one of the world's leading music companies, have announced a marketing and content agreement in which EMI artists, beginning with Capitol Music Group artists Lily Allen and Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, will be featured in Nokia's Flagship Store locations worldwide, as well as Nokia's Experience Centers, theater locations and certain Nokia music-related websites across North America. EMI will be the exclusive major label provider of music content for the retail program, and new content from its artists will be added and featured every 60 days."

I don't know why the "Ring Nokia" chap thinks DRM won't be involved in the deal - most current Nokia devices are compliant with the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) 2.0 DRM standard, and while EMI has flirted with the distribution of DRM-free music, I don't see anything in the press release which suggests that the content provided won't be locked down.

Who knows.

On a brighter note, lets hope that this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship. With the iPhone approaching, it would be a really good idea for Nokia to have an answer to the iTunes Music Store (operators have been trying their darndest) and OTA downloads would be useful- although to be honest, given the Zune's current lack of the feature it's entirely unclear if even the iPhone will sport this functionality.

Author: "Alex"
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Date: Thursday, 29 Mar 2007 09:42

Bleah. We were wrong, and it does appear that all Ferrari and Vertu had to announce was a new phone cover - the Vertu Ascent Ferrari 1947 Limited Edition. Of course we're basing this on the information which we received.

That information is basically identical to the information chronicled over at Darla Mack's blog, so I shan't belabor the point.

It's interesting that Vertu's own website (as of the date and time of this article) has not yet been updated with the official press release. Having said all that, since it's a Vertu Ascent, we'd expect the specifications to be identical to existing Vertu Ascents - which basically means that if you want a basic phone it should serve you well.


We would post pictures, but as all existing pictures appear to be from the same source, and aren't of the best quality (although we're not entirely sure why, since EXIF data shows that the camera involved was a Nikon D100, which is old, but is still based on a sensor very similar to current DSLRS) we shan't bother for the moment. :D

[source: little bird! Hooray for little bird! :D]

Author: "Alex"
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Date: Monday, 26 Mar 2007 02:44

A little birdie has told us that Vertu and Ferrari will be launching some oh-so-new thing in Italy tomorrow.

Ferrari hasn't been a laggard in promoting it's brand across product lines - Acer's Ferarri laptop was one of the first automobile manufacturer-branded laptops around, and Vertu has released products which include trade marks they presumably do not own (e.g. the "Racetrack Legends" Limited Editions).

We'll keep you updated - it's probably just (another) new phone, just co-branded with Ferarri, but we hope for something really NEW - like a Vertu which has Symbian inside ;) Note that the little birdie said nothing about that.

[Image credit: Webshots! - A Ferrari F430 in (partial) Vertu livery]

Author: "Alex"
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