Monday, 26 October 2009

A Plug for a Friend

I noticed today that my good friend Mister Stu Fenwick (the genius who made my logo) has a website promoting his artwork and illustrations. So I'm promoting his website, click here to have a look.

Also here's a little update on the PS3/xbox 360 dilemma. I discovered the other day that while Final Fantasy XIII is going to be multi-platform, Final Fantasy XIII Versus is only going to be available on the PS3, as it stands at the moment. Therefore I am now pretty much 99% sure that I'm going to get a Playstation 3. If it means I can play more FF, then that's the choice that has to be made!

Saturday, 24 October 2009

The Big Decision

With the release date for Final Fantasy XIII announced to be spring 2010, a fork in the road is rapidly approaching for me. At last, a choice has to be made as to which of the next-gen consoles will win me over? I asked the advice of my friends and acquaintances (via Facebook), and I've started to narrow things down between purchasing either a Playstation 3 or an Xbox 360.

I'm told the PS3 is more powerful than the 360, which makes sense as the PS3 came out after the 360, but I haven't really been able to tell the difference in terms of graphics or performance. The PS3 has a Blu-ray DVD player built in, which is a plus as buying the console is the cheapest way to purchase one. There are rumours that an external Blu-ray player may be released for the 360, similar to its now obsolete HD/DVD player, but I would have to pay extra for that.

In terms of games the 360 is the winner at this moment in time. There are a lot more exclusive games out for it that I would definitely play, such as Gears of War 2 and Halo 3. MGS4 is probably the only exclusive for the PS3 that I would really be interested in, possibly Little Big Planet as well. However there are a few games available for both platforms that I would definitely buy, such as Fallout 3 and Oblivion. So that slightly levels the playing field.

Longevity is a very important factor in my selection. I'm still playing my Playstation 2 and that console has been out for years. In fact I'm still playing some of my PS1 games on it. So I want to know that the console I buy next will give me a few years before it becomes obsolete. The 360 is coming to the end of its life expectancy, and it would seem the PS3 will last longer. However, the cynic in me thinks that as soon as a new Microsoft console is released Sony will drop the PS3 and focus on its next project. But then again the PS1 and 2 have hung on for quite a while, so maybe I should trust Sony on this one.
The internet capabilities battle is easily won by the PS3. If I have to choose between free online play and paying around £50 for a years usage, the choice is a pretty simple one.

In terms of looks the PS3 and the 360 are both able as ugly as each other. When it comes down to it I'm going to end up using either console as a coffee table, regardless of how 'slimline' the new PS3 is supposed to be. Both the consoles controllers are equally aesthetically and ergonomically pleasing my opinion, so no clear victor there either.

So there you have it. I'm probably leaning slightly more towards the PS3, because it might last longer and has the built-in Blu-ray player. However the Xbox 360 has a lot more games out for it, and is slightly cheaper. I've got a few months to decide, we'll have to see if the situation changes by the spring!

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

A Student's Guide to Paris

With tickets on the Eurostar costing as low as £59, a day-trip or weekend break in Paris is the perfect low-cost option for students who want to experience the culture and style of the continent without burning a hole in their maintenance loan. Here are a few practical tips that I picked up whist in ‘The City of Light’.

Walk as much as possible – Paris is a beautiful city, but the beauty is lost if you take the Metro to all your destinations. Purchase a good map and plan your route throughout the city. You’ll be rewarded with quaint shops in hidden side streets and quiet parks and squares, such as the spacious Jardin du Luxembourg and the enchanting Promenade Plantée, to relax in on your way. I found that most of the parks are equipped with hundreds of chairs that you can move around to put your feet up just the way you want. It’s cheaper than using public transport for every journey and the sights are closely located, so you shouldn’t get too tired out!

Go while you’re under 26 – many of the historic attractions are free for 16 to 26-year-olds – perfect for students counting their pennies. The Lourve art gallery and the Notre Dame Cathedral towers are examples of fascinating attractions that can be visited with no admission price. All you need is your passport or driving licence and you’ll save yourself quite a few euros.

Don’t try to do everything a once – if you’re on a short break don’t spend all your time rushing around to tick off all the sights and not really enjoying yourself. Instead pick out a few things you definitely want to see and don’t worry about the rest. This gives you a good excuse to return to Paris to finish off your sightseeing!

The start of autumn is good time to go – the traditional tourist period will have just ended and Paris will be getting back to its normal self. You can take advantage of thinning crowds and get away from the rain clouds of Britain when they’re still enjoying sunny hot weather on the continent.

Don’t rely on regular opening hours – the shops and supermarkets are a law unto themselves in regards to their business hours. Make sure you check the convenient shops you may need to use. Most shops close on Sunday afternoons and Mondays but many of the smaller ones stay open till after midnight on weekdays.

Feel free to attempt the lingo, but don’t worry if you can’t - the stereotype of the French refusing to speak any tongue but their own no longer applies for the most part. The majority of shopkeepers and waiters will offer to speak English but will let you muddle through if you have a rudimentary knowledge of the native language and want to try it out. All I had to do was attempt the word ‘bonjour’ and the waiter would reply, ‘ah… English?” You’ll probably pick up some French words and phrases along the way. I now know what ‘fruits de mer’ means after ordering a disgusting seafood dish by mistake!

Get to the top of the Eiffel Tower! – Paris’ iconic landscape would be incomplete without this stunning monument, and your trip will be too if you don’t ascend to the top. When at its busiest, the top level of the tower is not open for entry from ground level. However, you can upgrade your ticket once you get to the second floor and make it to the top. Night time is the best time to go up the Eiffel Tower in my opinion, as the twinkling streetlights enhance the splendour of the Parisian streets below even further.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Guess who's back?

It's taken a while, but I'm finally back online! I moved into my uni house at the end of September and we've got our internet/tv/phone package from Virgin Media sorted out at last. I thought we'd be stuck in the dark ages till next year, but after a trip to B&Q by my housemates, we managed to jury-rig the tv box thingie to work. The only downside at the moment is that we have a 20 metre cable snaking dangerously through our house, which seems to be sentiently trying to trip everyone over. And we don't have a phone yet.

My registration all went smoothly, despite my fears that the student loan fiasco would rear its ugly head again. My units are, for the most part, very interesting, in particular my dissertation unit and writing project. I'm writing a 90 minute scifi/noir screenplay for the former, and starting a fantasy/scifi novel for the latter. Essentially I have roughly 30,000 words to write whatever I want! Slightly daunting but I know I'll enjoy it.

Best get on, I'm popping home this weekend to work, so I need to pack and do a few other things. Over and out!