Top Spin 4

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When I bought Just Dance 2 for dance maniac Aiden I treated myself to a tennis game, Top Spin 4 for Wii.

After playing it a bit I must say I am pretty damn impressed. The graphics are pretty good for a Wii game, but for a tennis game that isn’t the important thing. The important thing is the playing feel and the feel in Top Spin 4 is great.

I love the controls too. With the nunchuk you move the player and control the placement of the ball and with the wiimote you swing the racket. Swing upwards to generate top spin, swing downwards for slice, swing horisontal for flat shots, hold one button for lobs and one for drop shots. Run faster with another button and that’s pretty much it.

It does require some skill to master it, but the learning curve isn’t that steep and as a tennis game fan I got into it immediately. There are plenty of top players to choose from such as current stars Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Stanislaw Wavrinka, Gilles Simon and there are also legends of old like Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Björn Borg, and Boris Becker to name a few.

You can play against friends and you can also go for a career mode where you create a player and start doing drills, play training matches and try to acquire more skill points that help your player improve.

The only downside of the game so far is that you have to get through a lot of pointless matches in the career mode to advance, but after you’ve done that the game is great fun.

A must have for tennis fans owning a console like PS3, XBOX 360 or Wii.

Americana by Don Delillo

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I just finished Americana by Don Delillo on my Kindle. The book is about 28-year-old television executive David Bell and his search for some kind of truth that takes him on a strange trip through America.

The book starts well mostly taking place at Bell’s workplace and there is a lot of quite funny office humor. The whole part 1 of the books is actually very good, with a sarcastic tone that entertains and gets you closer to the narrator. But from part 2 the book tries to hard. There is a big chunk about David’s childhood that is too long and when he goes out to shoot a movie somewhere in the American nowhere-land the book loses direction and falls quite flat.

Delillo described the book: “I don’t think my first novel would have been published today as I submitted it. I don’t think an editor would have read 50 pages of it. It was very overdone and shaggy, but two young editors saw something that seemed worth pursuing and eventually we all did some work on the book and it was published.”

I agree with the man himself. He is a great writer, but it’s very obvious that Americana is a debut and not up to scratch with his later works like Libra or Underworld.

The Michael Jackson Experience

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I bought the Michael Jackson Experience for Wii as a gift for Aiden, but the experience is so addictive I think it almost became a gift to myself too. The only problem is that it only detects the movement from the hand with the remote, but it still fantastic fun just to dance around to the songs and try to get enough points to unlock new dance choreography video, which is the end target of the game.

Well, end target is maybe the wrong word for this game will be fun to play as long as Michael Jackson’s music and dance will be entertaining. That is forever.

See the official trailer.

Buy The Michael Jackson Experience on Amazon!

Blood Meridian

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I finished Cormac McCarthy’s famous western novel “Blood Meridian” about a week ago, mostly reading it on my Amazon Kindle but also on my Kindle iPhone app at the gym. The book is like a punch to the face. Not in a bad way, not at all, but just slightly overwhelming with the strong language, the harsh scenery, the characters, the graphic (literary) violence.

Here is a sample:

Everywhere there were horses down and men scrambling and he saw a man who sat charging his rifle while blood ran from his ears and he saw men with their revolvers disassembled trying to fit the spare loaded cylinders they carried and he saw men kneeling who tilted and clasped their shadows on the ground and he saw men lanced and caught up by the hair and scalped standing and he saw the horses of war trample down the fallen and a little whitefaced pony with one clouded eye leaned out of the murk and snapped at him like a dog and was gone.

Among the wounded some seemed dumb and without understanding and some were pale through the masks of dust and some had fouled themselves or tottered brokenly onto the spears of the savages. Now driving in a wild frieze of headlong horses with eyes walled and teeth cropped and naked riders with clusters of arrows clenched in their jaws and their shields winking in the dust and up the far side of the ruined ranks in a piping of boneflutes and dropping down off the sides of their mounts with one heel hung in the withers strap and their short bows flexing beneath the outstretched necks of the ponies until they had circled the company and cut their ranks in two and then rising up again like funhouse figures, some with nightmare faces painted on their breasts, riding down the unhorsed Saxons and spearing and clubbing them and leaping from their mounts with knives and running about on the ground with peculiar bandylegged trot like creatures driven to alien forms of locomotion and stripping the clothes from the dead and seizing them up by the hair and passing their blades about the skulls of the living and the dead alike and snatching aloft the bloody wigs and hacking and chopping at the naked bodies, ripping off limbs, heads, gutting the strange white torsos and holding up great handfuls of viscera, genitals, some of the savages so slathered up with gore they might have rolled in it like dogs and some who fell upon the dying and sodomized them with loud cries to their fellows.

It is not an easy read, Blood Meridian, but it is well worth the effort as it has some of the most fantastic writing I have ever come across. If you are any way a fan of the Western world or interested in the 1850s in America/Mexico this is pretty much as good as it gets.

If you want to know more about the book you can always check this Wiki page.

Buy Blood Meridian in the Amazon Kindle store

Mac vs PC and my iPhone

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Brief iPhone 4 review. It is great for apps, twitter, e-mail, games, photos, filming, browsing, and listening to music.

It is not so great for: calling and texting. The problem with that is of course that it’s failing the most standard requirements of any phone. The problem is service. Or should I say lack of service/no service. Then you need to restart the thing. Pretty annoying huh?

I read a good article about Apple vs PC that pretty much reiterates all my own complains about mac. I copy my favorite bit below (and took to liberty to boldface the best bits) and you can read the complete piece here

“They make you feel good, Apple products. The little touches: the rounded corners, the strokeable screens, the satisfying clunk as you fold the Macbook shut – it’s serene. Untroubled. Like being on Valium.

Until, that is, you try to do something Apple doesn’t want you to do. At which point you realise your shiny chum isn’t on your side. It doesn’t even understand sides. Only Apple: always Apple.

Here’s a familiar, mundane scenario: you’ve got an iPhone with loads of music on it. And you’ve got a laptop with a new album on it. You want to put the new album on your phone. But you can’t hook them up and simply drag-and-drop the files like you could with, ooh, almost any other device. Instead, Apple insists you go through iTunes.

Microsoft gets a lot of stick for producing clunky software. But even during the dark days of the animated paperclip, or the infuriating “.docx” Word extension, they never shat out anything as abominable as iTunes – a hideous binary turd that transforms the sparkling world of music and entertainment into a stark, unintuitive spreadsheet.

Plug your old Apple iPhone into your new Apple Macbook for the first time, and because the two machines haven’t been formally introduced, iTunes will babble about “syncing” one with the other. It claims it simply MUST delete everything from the old phone before putting any new stuff on it. Why? It won’t tell you. It’ll just cheerfully ask if you want to proceed, like an upbeat robot butler that can’t understand why you’re crying.

No one uses terms like “sync” in real life. Not even C3PO. If I sync my DVD collection with yours, will I end up with one, two, or no copies of Santa Claus the Movie? It’s like trying to work out the consequences of time travel, but less fun, and with absolutely no chance of being adapted into a successful screenplay.”

Kudos to Charlie Brooker and the Guardian for that.

Amos Lee – Mission Bell

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I first listened to Amos Lee in 2005 when he released his self-titled debut album and was impressed by the voice although the quality of the album was a bit uneven. His mix of jazz, soul, folk and blues interested me though and when I saw songwriter George Azzi tweeting about his Lee’s new album “Mission Bell” I had to check it out.

Six years has gone by since the debut and Lee has aged and matured a great deal. Mission Bell is a great accomplishment and full of beautiful singing and songwriting. Everything from the upbeat and nice driving track Windows Are Rolled Down to the Gospel tune Jesus and the soul song Flower it is all a showcase of Lee’s talent.

Mission Bell is a wonderful album.

Amazon Kindle

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I bought an Amazon Kindle as a birthday gift for myself and I must say it is a fantastic thing. It takes a while to get used to reading on a screen, but since it uses an E ink screen it feels like reading on paper.

Books I have in my Kindle right now:

Blood Meridian – Cormac McCarthy (A classic, reading it right now and enjoying it)
Full Dark, No Stars – Stephen King (Vintage King short stories, a nice read)
Rework – Jason Fried (Best Work/Management book I’ve read)
Fifth Avenue – Christoper Smith (Fast-paced thriller, not exactly great literature but good for the gym)
Shit my Dad Says – Justin Halpern (Funny autobiographical book that evolved out of a twitter account)
Let the Great World Spin – Colum McCann (A literary masterpiece set in 70s New York)
Getting Things Done – David Allen (Some good parts, but far too long)
The Clay Ran Red: Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros – Peter Bodo (A collection of tennis related blog pieces)

I also have Kindle for my Mac and my iPhone and they all synchronize perfectly.

#mce_temp_url#Read more and buy the Kindle here.

Rework your work

 

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We use the project tool Basecamp at work and it is great. When I found out the creators of Basecamp wrote a book about the newway to start and run a business I just had to read it and I found out it is great too.

You can buy Rework here

Things I really liked:

* Workaholics are over-rated.
* The expression asap is bad because it doesn’t really say anything.
* Meetings are toxic.
* Interruption is the enemy of productivity (damn, right!)
* Growth is not necessary for profitability
* Planning is guessing
* Failure is not a rite of passage  (learning from mistakes is overrated)