CALkulon 's blog
click to hide banner header
23 year old PhD student in Glasgow, primarily interested in gravitational waves and gravitational lensing.

Owned systems:
PS3, PSP, a Wii which sees no love at all and a reasonable, if dated PC.

Irn Bru:

This is Irn Bru, it is better than you.

I used to have a 'gaming life story' but soon realised without much doubt that people would rather look at their grandad's scrotum than it, so it's been chopped. All you need to know is that I adore the Amiga with all my heart, and I think it should be compulsory for everyone to play A Link to the Past at least once to completion.

Feel free to add me to your PSN friends list, just let me know you're from here. I'll mostly be playing Modern Warfare 2 until eternity, but I'm also good for Madden and Fifa!
Following (18)  

10:46 AM on 07.14.2009

Short blog!

A friend of mine brought this to my attention, now either my sarcasm meter is horrendously broken or this a new low for censorship...pretty funny either way though. Enjoy!

(Just watch from start, although if you're super impatient skip to 0:40ish.)

I don't own a 360, they don't do this kind of crap all the time do they?


This is going to be a rant blog, probably, so leave now if you can't put up with whiny Scots.

Earlier today my PS3 broke. When you try to boot it up, I get a white light quickly followed by the three beeps and a never ending flashing red light. Fuck.

No real biggy, I thought, right? Sony has gladly replaced my Dad's PS3, my mate's and also our very own Clancy's without any hassle. It'll be cool, I'll phone Sony and it'll all be fine.

Hell no.

After taking all the relevant details about me and the PS3, the phone operator (a fairly reasonable chap, he wasn't a dick anyway) informed me I could get a refurbed PS3 sent out after various stages of testing...for 145 (about $200, I guess). I was enraged, how come everyone I knew gets theirs for free, but I have to pay around a third of the original price I paid on launch day? Balls to that. I politely tried to explain that to him, and after no luck asked for a reference number and hung up the phone, infuriated. Quite simply, as a final year student already into my overdraft with the bank I can barely afford 50, let alone 145.

So, I scoured the interwebs for some help or more information. Seems Sony (very quietly) stopped taking back launch 60GB consoles for free outside of their warranty on February 11th. Everyone who phones up after this date gets told the same bollocks, that they won't repair or replace for free.

Even better than that, the refurbed consoles are often working but blatantly mishandled units, and the warranty you get on them only lasts 3 months. 3 FUCKING MONTHS. Meaning if that shit breaks after 3 months and 1 day, you'll have to pay another 145 to get it replaced.

To make matters even better, I can't go back to the retailer, since they've gone bust.

So the way I see it, is that I can take one of a few options:

1) Trade in all the games/blu-rays I have and get a 360 (oh, the irony...).
2) Wait and see if Sony ever admits to the launch consoles being of crappy build quality (everyone I know bar one person has had theirs fail at some point).
3) Suck it up and accept their bullshit terms and pay the money.

Repairing myself or in a small independent retailer are not options; 'soft' fixes like removing the HDD don't work, and small retailers apparently can't do shit as Sony won't release the PS3 blueprints.

I will, obviously be on the phone to them again but I doubt I'll have any success - most people that do somehow get help outside of the 1-year warranty seem to be getting told that if their console was older (i.e. 2 years, like mine) that they would've got no help at all. I'll update the blog with any progress made, or otherwise.

Yes, I didn't have an extended warranty. Yes, I didn't have this Continuous Play insurance taken out. But is this really any way to treat a customer who chose your machine over direct competition, buying it on launch day? Surely it is only reasonable to expect a PS3 to survive 2 years of moderate usage? If not, then I think it's fair to say I'll be intentionally avoiding any more Sony gear in the future. I expect far better.

Have any of you had similar problems? What were the results?

5:16 PM on 11.13.2008

In reference to the controverisal Paid Character Customisation announced at Blizzcon, Blizzard's Paul Sams and Lee Sparks had this to say to Eurogamer:

"I think the reason for the monetary expense is more of a barrier so that people don't do it every day"

Riiiight. Because there aren't plenty of other ways to stop players from doing it every day? Much like Brad's article on Starcraft 2, Blizzard is keen to show that it definitely does not want to make loads of money from you. They also said:

"It serves as a tool for people to do it, but also as a deterrent to not do it too much, and also allows us to have the staff to be able to continually manage the population."

Much like the justification at BlizzCon, Blizzard are keen to make sure we know that they definitely cannot afford to hire more staff, as that would involve starving themselves of swan sandwiches, or selling off some of their golden toilets:

Or maybe I'm just cynical.

Your thoughts? Does anyone else think that this is just the latest PR bullcrap blitz from Blizz?

(In other news, IGN gave Wii Music 7/10. They've been on the lolcats again!)

We've all seen it before, but it certainly doesn't get any easier when the press blindly lash out at video games, scapegoating them for abhorrent and disgusting crimes. The last week has been no different.

Today in the Daily Record, a tabloid UK newspaper, a report on the man jailed for brutally killing an innocent woman and cutting up her body before throwing it into the sea. Clearly, a very, very, sick man. Who happens to like playing GTA in his cell.

Without any evidence, the article asserts that Aleksandras Skirda "gets his kicks in jail by murdering prostitutes in a blood-soaked computer game". Their source, a jail insider, says he enjoys playing GTA, Need for Speed:Underground, and Mortal Kombat. We do not know beyond any sort of reasonable doubt that he actually goes around murdering hookers in the game "for kicks", and so such a spurious implied link between his actions and GTA is reprehensible.

Unfortunately in the UK we're all too familiar with such outbursts from the tabloids, but the broadsheets aren't doing a better job. A few days ago, the Daily Telegraph ran the story of a GTA player who sexually assaulted women. The headline mentions the game, again implying a serious connection, but reading further shows he assaulted the women whilst high on drugs and alcohol, and had an "unhealthy interest" in porn. (Note: that is another debate for another day.) His obsession with the game? Playing it for "hours on end" before bed. Since when is that abnormal behaviour? Most of us gamers do similar things reguarly.

These examples of so-called journalism may not directly accuse the games of influencing these men, but they certainly do try to implicate them by giving them the all important headline attention. There is no attempt in either article to try and address the underlying issues at hand, the background of the men or what really could have driven them to assault/kill others. Unfortunately, I fear that newspapers will always use video games an easy way to grab headlines and sell papers rather than address the issues at hand, as they are an easy scapegoat that an ignorant general public will happily accept as being at fault.

Personally, I would like to see developers take a harder line against papers who print such dross instead of their own consumers, however this is unlikely given the costs and bad publicity that may come with this. So as always, we, the (fairly) sensible and non-hooker-killing gamers are left to suffer the negative stigma that comes with our favourite pastime.

(Note: In the preview the header image has been enlarged, and I have no idea why. Sorry, but don't shout at me for it!)

Source:, 12th October 08.

"...In another recent press conference, Jay Allen Brack was asked about the Paid Character Customisation that has been found in the game files. At first, he dismissed the question, and would not comment on it, then a few minutes later, he brought up the subject and said that there is going to be paid character customisation. No details yet though."

Having had the recent news that ActiBlizz are looking to "monetize" for Diablo 3, the gaming community appeared to be concerned about a new business model for ActiBlizz revolving around making even more money from the average consumer. This latest news has done nothing appease these fans, rather it has enraged them further.

Various threads have already appeared on the WoW Official forums discussing the announcement, and the consensus seems to be that the move is the 'beginning of the end' - a time when WoW is dominated not by the most skilled, not even by the most dedicated fanatic, but by those who are willing to spend money to obtain key armour and weapon upgrades.

Are these concerns justified? Will the company really go that far, or is the option of Paid Character Customisation simply just an extension of Paid Character Transfer / Name Change, and nothing else?

Personally, I would be worried - the simple fact is ActiBlizz make more than enough money from subscriptions alone, yet there are determined to charge £15 for a PCT citing "additional development and support...the fees for this service are collected to cover these expenses" as their reason to charge. I think very few people will happily pay that much money to cover what is essentially simply a transfer of data from one server to another, unless they feel it is necessary. (PC Name Change now costs £6) They now seek to charge players for changing their appearance (possibly face, colour, perhaps even race or class) - most likely a minor, cosmetic change, but a change in the in-game world requiring real life money nonetheless. If these changes do extended to race/class then it is an entirely different issue, as it is likely major imbalances (particuarly pvp related) will begin to appear, even more so if a faction change is allowed.

The main aim of all business is of course to make a profit, and so surely once the company realises the money made by the new services, it would begin to wonder how much money it could make by selling off armour etc. This would kill off the game, but then if ActiBlizz were making money...would they care? Unlikely. The game has long been associated with dubious customer service, issues with the game are often solved quicker using a few choice keywords and Googling the forums instead of the often hapless reps who seem overly keen to blame your ISP / network issues / the neighbour's dog rather the game itself.

The best course of action ActiBlizz can possibly take right now is to move to assure gamers by revealing more details about PCC - explaining that the only changes possible will be purely cosmetic, otherwise the paranoid among us will fear the worst.

Your thoughts?
Photo're not getting one. Seems there's been a misunderstanding somewhere along the line, I was expecting it to start soon, and in researching the subject found that it's actually only a double XP weekend - however the variety map pack will be cut price for the entire week.

Source: Infinity Ward PS3 forums.


There goes my hopes of levelling up 2/3 prestiges in one quick week. At least the game won't be one big lagasm for too long, it's bad enough already with the crappy matchmaking.

In other news, add me to your PS3 friends list if you fancy a game soon.