What can you do nowadays with a computer and no Internet access? Not a lot, as I’ve found out over the last couple of weeks. OK, so I had some Internet access, but this is one of those things where having none at all would be less torturous.
The Tuesday before last our Internet access went to pot. We assumed it was a bad day, as can happen, and only got in touch with BT when it was still going after two days. Then followed the familar pattern of calling and re-calling guys with names like “John” and “Dave” who sounded suspiciously Indian and seem intent on telling me that the reason all of the ten-odd devices connected through our router was slow is because of the firewall settings on one of the PCs. I’m sure I don’t need to go through that horrible process for anyone remotely technologically inclined. We’ve all done it.
And so, after numerous brief engineer visits and failed promises of it being fixed, it’s resolved itself suddenly and without fanfare. A podcast that was taking five hours to download and was being measured in bytes per second is now here in less than three minutes. Thank fuck for that.
What the experience of being all but without the Internet for almost two weeks has taught me is just how reliant I am on it. My Xbox feels empty without Live, my iPod library is staid without daily podcasts (I now have 19 hours of them), and I might as well not have a computer without those magical airborne bits and bytes flying in from the other room. And yet I can’t help but think how sad it is that I’m so completely reliant on one source for entertainment…
Tomorrow is our last full day in Japan before we head home on Thursday morning, and it’s going to be spent with some lazing around and last bit of shopping thanks to a blister the size of my head (yes, that big) that’s appeared on my little toe. Quite nasty really.
Over the last couple of days we rinsed our JR Passes by taking the Shinkansen to Kyoto and Nikko where a great deal of temples and shrines are found. I took photos of most of them and the toll taken on my feet by the sheer amount of walking will probably turn out to be catastrophic. We ended it by taking a taxi up to Kegon Falls (an expensive choice, but I wasn’t paying so I don’t care) which was really beautiful.
Being a gamer, one of the main attractions of coming to Japan is the shopping. I did a bit in Australia (the most interesting being EzyDVD’s limited Serenity tin) but they’re generally in a similar boat to us when it comes to the things I’m interested in – only $1,000 for a PS3! – which makes saving money for Akihabara an obvious choice. This is what I picked up, technology-wise:
- 30GB iPod – Yep, I went to the dark side and bought a 5G iPod. I just use iTunes and podcasts enough now to justify it, and I love watching Consolevania and The 1UP Show on my MP3 player.
- Cooking Mama (DS) – Haven’t played it yet since my DS is still in the UK, but I bought it on the strength of a couple of recommendations from people who liked Ouendan.
- Every Extend Extra (PSP) – It hasn’t clicked with me like Lumines, but it’s an interesting little puzzler. I’ll persevere with it before I draw any conclusions.
- Goku Makaimura (PSP) – Ultimate Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins to most of you. Just mind-bendingly, masochistically hard. I’m inclined to say that it falls on the wrong side of the line between frustrating and challenging, but again I’ll wait until I’ve been able to put in some real playtime before I condemn it.
- Jump Superstars (DS) – Again, haven’t played it. Supposedly it’s a very good Smash Bros clone with Shonen Jump characters (DBZ, Naruto, etc).
- Street Fighter Zero 3: Double Upper (PSP) – I don’t think I need to go into how much I like this game and this is a great version, but the PSP has undoubtably the WORST D-PAD IN THE WORLD. I need to find one of those mods.
- Tekken: Dark Resurrection (PSP) – Great-looking for a PSP title and a decent game, but it’s still Tekken. Probably the most fun I’ve had with the series since Tekken 2 which really isn’t too hard, but it’s supposed to be a compliment here.
- Viewtiful Joe (GC) – A classic that I’ve been meaning to pick up since I got my Cube going through component. It only cost me like a fiver anyway. Henshin-a-go-go, baby!
I’m not counting the litres of Grape Fanta and a new discovery, Melon Cream Soda Fanta, in the purchases because then this would turn into some kind of epic love poem. In another game-related story, I went into an arcade in Shibuya and played Virtua Fighter 5 which, if I’m honest, really didn’t blow me away. I do enjoy the series but this wasn’t a big leap by any stretch of the imagination, and rather than looking like a graphical showpiece it looked kind of artificial. I suppose I need to wait to try the PS3 version before I complain too vociferously.
This really will be it until I get home. Can’t wait for it now.
I realised something the other day – having started with podcasts around a year ago (I first posted about them when iTunes added support), I now spend more time listening to podcasts than I do watching TV, with well over ten hours of podcasts dropping into iTunes every week and barely four hours of TV holding my attention every week. That’s pretty unbelievable to me, but I guess the fact that I can get cool shows on stuff that really interests me is very appealing.
Anyway, I thought I’d list a selection of my favourites so that people can give them a try and share some of theirs. I need to feed this addiction.
- Gaming Steve – I had to start with a gaming one, right? This is simply the best video game podcast out there, which is often extremely long (he frequently breaks two hours), but Steve is a great talker who knows his stuff. He also gets really good interviews and exhaustive previews.
- this WEEK in TECH – Hosted by Leo Laporte and friends as well as guest panellists, TWiT is just a chat about the latest technology developments and is always good fun. One of the most popular podcast on the Internet.
- Best of Moyles – A weekly half-hour of the best bits from Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles’ show. Usually great if you like Moyles (I know a lot of people who don’t).
- Hometown Tales – Urban legends, ghost stories, and just general weirdness from around the world. It’s all based on a popular public access show and makes for entertaining listening.
- MacCast – Probably the best podcast out there for Apple fans. Commentary on news as well as tips and occasional interviews.
- Mark Kermode’s Film Reviews – The weekly movie reviews from Mark Kermode, taken from Five Live every Friday. Kermode knows his stuff and there’s a lot of amusing banter.
- The Dawn and Drew Show – Daily random and often crude (in a good way) chat with a married couple from Wisconsin. It’s good fun and episodes 268 and 269 are actually an interview with them done by me.
- Inside The Magic – The first podcast I ever listened to, and since the one year anniversary is this week it also marks a year since I started listening to podcasts. It’s a weekly show with Disneyworld and general Disney news, and comes with a lot of good behind-the-scenes information, especially about new rides and overhauls.
- The Onion Radio News – One minute a day with a story taken from the awesomeness that is the satirical “news” paper The Onion. If you’ve never been there you should take a look because they frequently come out with classics such as this.
- UK DVD Review – Ten minutes a week on the latest UK DVD releases from a guy with an unhealthy Battlestar Galactica obsession. He takes full credit for personally getting me into the show so he deserves a place on here just for that.
So does anyone else listen to any good podcasts? Let’s have some recommendations.