In his commentary on Nokia's new Buttons for Humans campaign, Russell Beattie actually calls out the 3650, and grants that the "round keypad wasn't actually that bad."
I've owned and used a 3650 for going on 3 years now, and it took me most of that time to figure out that not only is the round keypad "not that bad," but I'd be prepared to argue that it's actually good -- if not better -- than your average square keypad. You can call me crazy, but the reason is simple: the round keypad offers a one dimensional search space for numbers and letters:
Rather than having feel and count the possible subtle lines that separate buttons on most phones and remembering that "T" is sort of bottom middle and "2" is top middle unless there are extra buttons above it, I just have to remember that "T" is near the end and"2" is near the beginning. In fact, I wouldn't even call it a "round keypad," because it's actually a linear keypad.
In addition to the linear, one dimensional search space (the same one that make's the Mac's menu bar so much nicer to use), each of the non-numeric keys have distinct shapes and positions. Where there are repeated shapes, they're on opposite sides of the phone, and serve opposite purposes (answer and hang-up, edit input and delete/clear, select and back/exit). Recognizing that different button shapes help the thumb find what it's looking for was one of the main differentiators that made the GameCube controller so great.
(Of course, off the deep end of different button shapes are the many many other Nokia phones that Beattie was actually talking about.)
I admit the keypad had a bit of a learning curve, but once learned, if not better, the 3650's keypad was at least as good as your cookie cutter keypad. It's too bad most people weren't willing to give that different looking thing a chance; When I finally upgrade my phone later this year, I for one will definitely miss that quirky looking keypad.
In the process of updating my resume last week, I took a peek at the resumes of a few former co-workers. All of them included their final UC Berkeley GPA on their resume, so I figured I might as well.
When I've done hiring over the years, I've always been amused by people who included their UC GPA "to date" on their resume, and even more amused by the people who still included their high school GPA on their resume. Accordingly, I can't even remember for sure if I ever included either of those figures on my resume. I might have at one point, but it's been years since I actually have.
But my final UC Berkeley GPA seemed somehow more conclusive, and the same people who I'd laughed with about "to date GPAs" during hiring had included their final GPA on their resumes.
So I typed "3.277," and then stared at it for awhile.
"That's all I've got to say about the last 4.5 years of my life?" I wondered.
I could probably write pages about any one of the 35 classes listed on my transcript, but in the end,all it comes down to a few assorted letters, which in turn come down to even fewer numbers. The particular grades I already got in some of the classes are already starting to fade, and I was surprised when I looked at my transcript to see that I got a B- instead of a B in some class.
If the particular grades are already starting to fade, for how much longer will I remember the classes? I suppose that's one of the reasons I tried to write so much of it down.
But I'm still afraid that my last memory of college when I'm old and grey will be "3.277."
Just like the night before, last night when I should have been working on my Linguistics midterm, I was instead procrastinating like crazy. Here were the three most interesting things I read last night, amongst innumerable others.
- Unspooled, a sadly nostalgic article about the death of the cassette tape, with a moderate focus on the art of the mix tape.
- On, Off, or Asleep? an article about the interface of power buttons.
- Dan Shafer on Baseball in response to Dave Winer on Baseball. I thought both of these posts were insightful, and I may have something to say of my own on this subject by the time it's baseball season again. ;-)
As it turns out, I was so effective at procrastinating last night, that by the time I fell asleep, I'd only written an outline for two of the three questions, which left me with about 4 hours to write 3000 some odd words of prose today before the midterm was due. It came out well enough, considering the rush.
However, it occurred to me that I probably shouldn't listen to my favorite blood pumping music when I'm rushed and stressed out of my mind. Though the music succeeded in getting my adrenaline flowing, when I listen to it in the future, it will just increase my stress levels in memory of this morning, which probably isn't what I want some of my favorite music to do.
I got the Frogger theme song stuck in my head today.
Y'see, when I was but a lad, I had an Atari. My favorite game was River Raid, but I also had other classics like Pole Position and Jungle Hunt and a few other classics.
But we also had Frogger. The thing was, I totally sucked at Frogger.
Dude, don't laugh. That game is hard.
Anyway, today I got the Frogger theme song stuck in my head, but since I was so bad at Frogger, here's how I remember the song going:
Da-do-do-do Da-do-do-do Da-da-do-do-BLAM!
Da-do-do-do Da-do-do-do BLAM!
Da-do-do-do Da-do-do-do Da-da-do-do-doo BLAM!
Da-do-do-do Da-do-do-do Da-da-do-BLAM!
Needless to say, I got more than a few strange looks while humming that at work today.
So I ultimately found the answers I was looking for, as both my newsgroup post and the mailing list archives yielded the information I wanted.
First, the name that included "bugs" that I thought was a rumored Factory Showroom name was "Insect Hospital," and it was actually the rumored title of the album after Factory Showroom.
Another rumored title of the album after Factory Showroom was "Thing," and other rumored titles included "Alien Autopsy" and "Jesus, Hitler, and Me."  Several of these were apparently titles that Flans just threw out at concerts.
As for Mink Car's "other" names, there was of course Unreliable Narrator. Other options in the emusic poll that I mentioned apparently included "Enter," "Our Name Is Called John," "Damage In Translation," "Gigantor," and "Human Sacrifice." Someone claimed that "Producer Adam Shlesinger (spelling?) also suggested that last years album
should be called Yes! to make a kind of double-album thing with No!." Another TMBG name was apparently "Secret Mountain Laboratory." And finally, the TMBG mailing list's inside joke was to refer to the album as "Matt's Life Savings," though that apparently wasn't a John thing.
 Which was obviously a joke, but a very funny joke if you know the context. 
 Context being, back in '99, Time was running a "People of the Century" poll and soliciting online votes and submissions. Jesus and Hitler were battling for 1 and 2, but at some point John Flansburgh's name  was submitted, so TMBG fans were rallying to get him up to number 3. Flansburgh's name was eventually removed from the poll. Jesus, however, remained, despite his much more tenuous claim to "person of the century..."
 Flansburgh was chosen for this, because Linnell had just been named 1998's 9th most beautiful person in a People Online poll. 
 No joke. Make sure you check out John Linnell's commentary on this situation here. It's a great read.
Tonight I got the bright idea to try to research rejected TMBG album titles, and frankly, this was probably the most frustrating thing I've ever tried to find on the web.
Of course, one of Mink Car's rumored titles was "Unreliable Narrator", and another rumored title was "Matt's Life Savings." But last spring on emusic, TMBG posted a poll with a few more possibilities, letting people vote on their favorite. I tried to find a reference to that list in the alt.music.tmbg archive at google groups, but more or less failed.
The other notable list I was looking for was some posts I thought I remembered from before the title of Factory Showroom was announced back in 1996. I found a post from flans that in addition to mentioning "Factory Showroom" also mentioned "Chimp," "At Large" (short for the previously rumored "At Large in New York"), and "Boro-Wide." The thing is, I remember originally reading that post, and I thought I remembered other rumored titles from before that post. And I could have sworn one of them included the word "bugs."
Anyway, I posted to alt.music.tmbg asking for help, and I'm in the process of downloading the archives of the tmbg mailing list that I was subscribed to at the time (thank god for foreach, cut, and wget) since their search widget is broken. I'll let you know what I find.
And please don't ask why I started researching this, because I honestly don't remember any more. It's become one of those itches I just have to scratch.
While browsing VersionTracker the other day, I came across Crystal Ball, which is a D&D Dungeon Master tool for managing practically all aspects of running a D&D campaign, from keeping track of characters and NPCs, to randomly generating NPCs and monsters, to generating treasure and awarding experience, to keeping track of everything that can come up during a complicated melee. It made me sigh and say to myself "Wow, with this, the game would really be able to focus more on the story and less on the details of the rules. That'd be swell!"
It's a polished and very well done program, and it really makes me nostalgic to role play again. Of course, it's not like I have time between school and work, let alone do I know other people who have time, but it made me nostalgic all the same.
Oh, and better yet, it's a Mac only program (and better still, it runs well in OS X). So if you're a D&D player (or better still, a DM) and you have a Mac (better still, a PowerBook or iBook), you should definitely check this thing out.
So as planned, I went out and got Jedi Outcast and installed Windows and installed it and played it all afternoon and all evening and all night, and I've got five impressions for you:
- The levels are long. In all that time I played (though admittedly I was doing laundry and some other things) I only made it through the first three levels. Of course, now that I think back, Jedi Knight had very long levels, too. This isn't totally a bad thing, but I was getting sick of the interior of that Imperial base by the end of the second mission, especially considering there will almost certainly be more missions in Imperial settings later in the game.
- The in game cut scenes are really scary looking, because of something to do with the way they animated the teeth. Mon Mothma, especially, has huge scary ugly teeth that are going to give me nightmares.
- Just like Jedi Knight, where you shoot your enemy matters. Sure, blasting a storm trooper repeatedly in the crotch might be fun for a little while, but it's so much more satisfying when a nice precise shot to the head drops a storm trooper with just one blast.
- I've been getting huge flashbacks of Half-Life from the first three levels, what with the labs and the mines and the face crabs. Man, I hate face crabs. Not only are they cliche, but they freak me out. I can't wait to get to some more exotic settings.
- Even just on the third level, what exactly I'm supposed to do can be a little obscure at times. "What do you mean it was obvious that I needed to drop onto that retracting pipe below the grating that I couldn't even see because it was so dark, wait until it retracts, crawl into the pipe, and then blow up the power supplies of the smelting machine?" I expect this is only going to get worse, but I'll manage.
They're making a sequel to Jedi Knight?
They made a sequel to Jedi Knight, and it's out now?
If you'll excuse me, I need to go to CompUSA.
Man, this means I'm going to have to install Windows. Well, let it be known that Jedi Outcast is what got me to cave.
So I just got back to my apartment in Berkeley, and I was tidying some things up, and making room for my new chair, and I realized that the situation in front of my TV needed some resolving.
So I moved my GameCube to where my Dreamcast once sat, next to my PS2. And I moved my Dreamcast to where my N64 once sat, next to my TiVo/DVD Player. And I moved my N64... into a drawer.
Shhh... He's not dead, he's just sleeping...
This actually makes me kind of sad. We haven't really touched the N64 since about July, when we were playing Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Mario Party 3. But since then... It's just gathered dust. I really liked that system... But I don't think I'll be waking him up any time soon, unless I happen to finally buy Zelda: Majora's Mask -- which happens to be the one last N64 game that I really want to play.
I don't know... It's silly. Even though I hadn't touched it for six months, I still feel bad about putting it away. Oh well. It's not like it's that put away -- it'd take me maybe three minutes to set it back up, if the nostalgic urge to play an N64 game really struck me...
I think I've already played this game for at least 10-15 hours, and it's everything I could have hoped for an more. The single player experience is vast, and the multiplayer options nearly infinite. It's ridiculous fun, and I'm so blinded by it that I honestly don't think I can write an unbiased review about this game. All I can do is urge you to at least try it once, even if you didn't like the original Super Smash Brothers on the N64. It really is a marvelously complete game, doing nearly everything it tries perfectly. 4.75/5
So in the place of a review, I'm going to nitpick the game to death. Um, vaguely ordered from most irritating to most irrelevant.
- Grabs/throws are... much trickier to use effectively.
- There's no random character select option.
- When you successfully finish an event match, it should advance the cursor on the event selection screen to the next event, instead of keeping it on the same event. This one really irritated me.
- There's no replay option to review glorious or hilarious moments after the fact.
- There's no option to exclude certain stages from the random stage select.
- Not all of the old levels returned from the N64 game. Notably, I miss Hyrule Castle and Saffron City.
- DK's ground slap (down+b repeated) makes a lot of the single player challenges overly easy. Notably, all but the Cruel Melee of the Multi-Man Melees become pretty trivial with this ground slap.
- There should have been four taunts for each character instead of one, or ever direction on the d-pad should have been taunt instead of just up.
- On the character select screen, they should have put Princess Zelda next to Ganon, above Link, so that the four Zelda characters formed a square, instead of being a sidways L.
- The Gargantuan event stage was a brilliant idea, but unfortunately the stage that the event took place in wasn't suited to the purpose, and the holes in the stage make the fight end pretty quickly.
- The load time between the title screen and the same menu seems like it could have been shortened. (Mind you, it's only about a second and a half, but every other menu transition is instantaneous, so it's noticeable as being slower.)
- Ach! Kongo Jungle features a remix of the D.K. Rap from the introduction of Donkey Kong 64!
- There should be a stage in which Lakitu flies by and dangles items from his pole.
- It would have been way cooler to have Young Link rendered with the Cel Shading art style from the upcoming Gamecube Zelda instead of just having him be a smaller, faster version of link. (And it wouldn't be that out of place, considering some of the other ridiculous graphic contrasts in this game. Birdo sprite reused directly from Super Mario 2? Mr. Game & Watch? Cel Shaded Pokemon Floats? Believe me, it would have been a cool bonus.)
Er, since I've now made that great big list of nits, I guess I note a few of my absolute favorite moments I've come across so far.
- Kirby's new monochrome color scheme was fantastically retro, and really made me smile.
- Mr. Game & Watch is even more fantastically retro, and very deceptively cool.
- The amount of nostalgia here is staggering. Notably, it's made me really want to get to that one last game on my N64 "To play" list: Zelda: Majora's Mask.
- When we first started the game up, it noticed the Pikmin save file on my memory card and gave me the Captain Olimar trophy. It was a very nice touch which made the whole package seem that much more polished.
- When Slippy (from Star Fox) has his few spoken lines, he sounds a lot like Towely (from South Park).
- The Gargantuan event stage was such a perfect idea.
- The Pikachu Pokeball duel event was also great fun.
- Melee is such a perfect word for this game.
Finally, yes, I still want another sequel. I just want more characters. Heh.
As I walked around the train tonight, I noticed someone playing a Sega Game Gear. I did a double take, and discreetly stood behind him and watched for a few minutes and got nostalgic.
And you know, the Game Gear's graphics are still on par with what the Game Boy Advance just achieved. Ah well, I got to enjoy the Game Gear in its day and now I get to enjoy my smaller and less battery hungry Game Boy Advance.
I wonder if Sega has a Hall of Failed Game Consoles next to their Hall of Insanely Great Video Games?