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Enjoy the blogs, and relive my ups and downs in life, view some interesting reviews and just enjoy the site. If you are interested in learning something about some of my favourite music then click here it's the official Jan & Dean Site that has taken me and my friend from across the sea, June many years to keep updated.
Tuesday, 22 December 2009
20 reasons why you should own a PS3 This caused quite a bit of debate.It's 20 reasons why you should own a brilliant Playstation 3 console. I stand by it, and if you are thinking of getting a new console for Christmas or in the January sales, then get a PS3!
Why Uncharted 2 is the best game ever! Yes, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves was a huge smash this year, and I believe it to be the best game I have ever played. Read why. Oh, and I'm going through the game yet again and still I'm being blown away.
The Beatles Remasters A little review of the hottest CD releases of 2009. I just can't get enough of these remasters, read and find out why.
The top 50 video games... ever! This is my selection of the top 50 video games ever made. Please note, it was before Uncharted 2 was released!
From Elvis In Memphis A review of the great Elvis album.
Top 5 games consoles of all time Yes, of all time... The best 5 consoles ever.
I hope that's enough for you to enjoy for now. 2009 was really a great year for a lot of reasons, and me combining my Twitter output and Blogspot was one of them.
Merry Christmas Everybody!
Thursday, 10 December 2009
At the time, during the 1980's though, it was almost impossible to get Jan & Dean records, so my first collections were the Beach Boys albums. These albums, although not Jan & Dean, were to me a part of growing up. By the time I was 15 or 16 I had quite a large collection, mostly compilations of Jan & Dean and The Beach Boys but nothing much in between except for maybe the odd re-recording of Hondells, Surafris and other tracks. It was in around 1986 that I received my first "real" Surf & Hot Rod compilation that featured real artists other than Beach Boys or Jan & Dean.
The album "Surf City Drag City" along with the large book that accompanied it was a revelation. I could now listen to The Super Stocks, The Hondells, Murry Wilson, Hot Rod Rog and more and know I was listening to the real thing.
These days my "Surf City Drag City" collection is pretty impressive, and through forums and emails I believe that I now have one of the largest collections of this kind of music in... in the World probably! If there are any tracks or albums people are after by Jan & Dean or The Beach Boys, they come calling to me, the same goes for other artists, you name them I've got them or can get access to them quickly!
So, what is it about this music? Those harmonies, the lyrics, the screaming guitar, I just love it all. It takes me to a better place, a place where, while I'm listening I can be bathed in glorious sunshine in a world full of cars, girls, surf and sun. Each track by each artist is a mini symphony of sun-drenched charm, a perfect listening experience that never fails to make me feel happy.
There are also sub-genres which most people never hear. There's The Revells "The GO sound of the slots" album that tackles slot-car racing, there's The Ghouls "Draculas Deuce" album that tackles Halloween ghouls and ghosts and there's numerous artists singing about skiing and biking.
For the all-time top 10 surfin' vocals, may I ask you to view my Youtube video here.
This is the music I listen to the most, the music I love, the music that is close to my heart. Of course I love other kinds of music, mostly pop and I adore Elvis Presley, so my music collection is vary varied.
Now I'm off to the beach, enjoy the music...
Friday, 20 November 2009
Monday, 16 November 2009
I've owned a PS3 since launch now, and since that time I have seen it go from strength to strength. For a long time however, a lot of people thought the strength of the XBox360 was enough to make it win this huge battle of the next-gen consoles, how times have changed! Since the release of the new PS3 slim and since the extreme price drop of the PS3 things have changed, and now there's also a huge advertising campaign helping the PS3 regain Sony's rightful spot at the number one position of the console market.
Before I list the "20 reasons to own a PS3", may I say we also have an XBox360 in the house, and I have had full use of a 360 many times. I view and play a lot of games on a lot of formats, and I have done since the late 1970's, so I have no real bias apart from wanting the best out of a console.
Here are my 20 reasons to own a PS3:
01: Uncharted 2 - Never has there been a game that has given so much. Uncharted 2 is at this point in time unchallenged in the console market as THE finest game ever released to console.
02: Killzone 2 - Forget Halo or the Call Of Duty/Modern Warfare series, or any other FPS for that matter, Killzone 2 set the target for others to beat on the graphics, sound, online and single player modes and of course the gameplay. It's just a stunning game.
03: Playstation Network (PSN) - It's free and it's brilliant. From here you play games online free, you can download demos, games, videos and much more! Some say it's not as good as Live on the Xbox, but that is so not true at this stage, PSN delivers everything you need to have a enjoyable experience.
04: Wi-Fi - Yes! No need to buy a seperate dongle, the PS3 comes with built in Wi-Fi!
05: Recharagable Controllers - You never need to replace the batteries in the PS3 controllers as they are rechargable, and they last a good 8+ hours per play when fully charged.
06: VidZone - A brilliant application that allows you to make your own playlists up for video streaming. Vidzone is fun, Vidzone is brilliant, and from what I can see on my friends list, everyone uses it!
07: The Internet - The PS3 has a built in web browser. As a general browser it is perfectly adequate, and allows us to access everything we need, from Twitter, Youtube and Facebook through to most any other site you can think of.
08: Bluray Player - Yes, the PS3 is a mighty Bluray player too! Which means 1080p hi-def films with lossless sound. It's something you have to see to believe, as the quality far surpasses any streaming HD that other consoles offer.
09: SingStar - The series that lets you sing to your hearts content! The PS3 has a great selection of Singstar games, from Chart Hits to Abba, Queen and Take That plus a lot more. What's more, you can download your favourite songs off PSN!
10: BBC iPlayer - A built in tab on the PS3's XMB allows you to access the BBC iPlayer, it's been fine-tuned to work perfectly with the PS3, and it's a great addition!
11: Remote Play with PSP - Connect your PSP and PS3 together via cable or via a network and your PSP can use your media and even some games from your PS3. Try watching Vidzone on your PSP while at a friends who doesn't have a PS3, or even play a game from PSN!
12: Wipeout HD/Fury - The classic Wipeout series comes to the PS3 and is better than ever. No-one would ever know this is a downloadable game, as it looks, sounds and plays better than most "normal" games.
13: Buzz - The greatest quizz on any console! Buzz allows you to play local or online against people you've never met. Huge fun, and another great exclusive.
14: Metal Gear Solid 4 - This is a game everyone should play. Only available on PS3, and you can see why. Some amazing gameplay, graphics to die for and the best FMV sequences you will ever see.
15: Little Big Planet - LBP is a cute game, it's a 2D platformer with a style of it's own. What's more impressive though is the huge social network it is built around, allowing you to create your own games or play other peoples attempts. Very impressive!
16: HDMI - All Sony's PS3's consoles have had HDMI for Hi-Def TVs, while other consoles only certain models have had HDMI support.
17: It's Quiet! - Yes, the PS3 is very quiet, especially when compared to the XBox360. Even at it's loudest the PS3 is quieter than the quietest 360.
18: It does not scratch your games/movies - The Xbox360 is renowned for scratching games with even the slightest movement of the console. The PS3 has no such worries.
19: God Of War III - Ok, I've only played the demo so far, but this game looks like it could one of the best games ever. It's a game everyone loves, and it's only available on PS3. Technically it's an awesome beast, which even impressed me!
20: MotorStorm Pacific Rift - One of the greatest arcade racers made. It's one that gets harder the more you progress, but it's worth it for to view it's technical prowess.
So that's just 20 random facts I could think of off the top of my head. Of course, there's a lot more to come in the near future, with the best exclusive games including Gran Turismo 5, Heavy Rain and God Of War Collection, plus they are adding new features to PSN all the time.
The PS3 is the way to go. It's also more cost effective, with no annual or monthly subscription that allows you to play online with friends, plus it has built in wi-fi and you can use any blue-tooth head-set with it (unlike the 360). Games are coming right down in price also, and the Platinum collection is simply unbeatable.
Thank you for reading.
Friday, 23 October 2009
Friday, 9 October 2009
Wednesday, 30 September 2009
My first new game is "Rock Band Beatles" (which I have mentioned briefly before). After hours of play, Sara, Karl and myself completed the game on Medium difficulty level. With 45 Beatles songs, the game is huge fun and a must for anyone who likes the band. Vocals are brilliant fun to sing, lead guitar is great and bass guitar is sometimes quite hard. We've only played it with drums once or twice, and they were actually quite difficult. Good old Ringo played a mean beat! If I was to rate this game out of 10 I believe it should get a 8/10.
Second new game is "Need For Speed: Shift". It's a racing game, that is split up into four different tiers, plus a fifth super-special tier. At first, I was a bit dubious. Graphics are more life-like and less colourful than other games of this genre, however the in-car cockpit view is absolutely awesome. Once you get a little way into the game, it becomes like a drug. Unlike many modern racers, you can actually throw these cars the track and have some serious fun. The track design is brilliant, and there's a great selection of cars. Anyone who knows me, knows I love racing games, and for it to be something special, it takes a lot. I think "Shift" is now my favourite racing game. It mixes old-skool throwing the car around, with modern driving physics and overall great control... and it's FUN! I'll rate this 9/10.
I'm also in the process of going through some older games. I'm replaying "Uncharted: Drakes Fortune" for the third time, and I'm loving every minute of it. I forgot how good the graphics, story and game play are in this game. This gets a 10/10 easy, and was probably the first PS3 triple A title. I'm also going through "Brothers In Arms: Hells Highway". This game takes some getting used to with the controls (as you have to command a couple of other teams as well as control yourself!), but once mastered it's a great WWII shooter. Graphics are nothing special, but the overall feel of the game is pretty good. So far then, over half way through it, I'll give it 7/10.
I spent an hour or so playing some classic Megadrive classics yesterday also, "Super Hang-On", "Golden Axe" and "Wonder Boy III". Wow, how games have progressed, and these games only managed to keep my mind occupied for a short time. I even completed "Golden Axe" in that short time I played the games!
So, next big game being released is "Uncharted 2: Among Thieves", which I have on pre-order. Review will be coming up soon!
Tuesday, 15 September 2009
First off though, some background. I had in my collection all the original 1987 CD releases, plus I had CD copies of the 24-bit remastered Dr Ebbetts editions of all the Beatles collection. The Dr Ebbetts selection gave us much improved sound quality over the original official Beatles releases so the new official releases had a lot to live up to.
The Stereo Box-Set comes in a lush black box, with all the albums recreated lovingly in fold-out reconstructions of the original LP covers. They all come with great quality booklets with notes and tons of pictures, and it looks like a lot of work went into these beauties.
So, the sound quality is where of course it matters most. These days I am used to listening to 24-bit digitally remastered classics by my other favourite artists, The Beach Boys, Elvis Presley and The Byrds, so The Beatles remasters had a lot to compete with.
The stereo albums without a doubt sound far superior to anything ever released by The Beatles. They knock the spots off the 1987 CDs and they are superior to the already amazing Dr Ebbetts versions. There is a nice amount of bass, the mid-range is now much better and the top end is pristine. Never does a song sound like it is going to crack at any second, everything breathes and you can hear things in the recordings that you never noticed before. Guitars sound stunning, drums sound real and cymbals make the right noise. Vocals too sound perfect, and when yoy hear Paul sing "Yesterday", it's as if he is in the room with you.
The mono versions of the albums are sometimes regarded to THE albums to listen to. Yes, they have some subtle (and not so subtle) differences to the Stereo versions, however for those who have never heard the mono versions, this is the best they have ever sounded, only slightly better than the Dr Ebbetts releases, however better. For me as an avid fan, I would say listen to both versions when ever possible, however, for the first time ever I now say The Beatles in Stereo sound have that little edge on the mono recordings.
So, which version should you buy? Well, the only versions available of the albums that are sold sepreatly are the stereo versions, so for a casual fan these will be more than adequate... Infact, the albums Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt Peppers and Magical Mystery Tour are all must buy purchases!
Wednesday, 2 September 2009
So, it's September 2009. Time is flying by at an unbelievable pace at the moment and I just can't keep up with everything. I've been looking for work, and I've been enjoying my time off. It's a whole mish-mash of feelings at the moment, but I want a job that will do me for a few good years yet. I'm working on my own business, but I don't know how that will pan-out yet.
I got back from London yesterday. Sara and me had a good time, although Sara found it hard work with her bad knee and crutches. Everytime her leg seems to get slightly better, it then gets slightly worse. I do sympathise with her, and I wish that it would get better as I can see the constant pain that she is in.
My blood pressure seems to be ok at the moment (touch-wood), however, I'm getting worked up at stupid things, so I'll tell the doctor tomorrow when I visit him. I'll be just glad when everything is back to normal and we're all working and money is coming in again.
I've not had much chance to do a lot of gaming recently, however I have installed the new firmware 3.0 for the PS3 and I think it's ok. The new sparkle effects are nice, and everything seems to be running that little bit quicker. I like the BBC iPlayer icon and I like what they have done to the internet browser. So, all in all not bad.
I have played a few demos, Dirt 2 being my least favourite probably. It looked nice don't get me wrong, but just doesn't "feel" right. "Wet" looks interesting, but I've not had time to fully explore this yet, as does "mini-ninjas".
I really fancy doing some old-skool 8-bit and 16-bit gaming over the next week or so, so I'll probably fire-up my emulators and have a good old blast of Zub and other classics.
Beatles Rock Band and Stereo Box-Set
So, this time next week I will hopefully have the above titles. I'm really looking forward to them and know I'm just going to have a blast. Although I have always been a fan of the Beatles albums in mono, I have heard great things about the stereo mixes on the forthcoming release.
So, I'll blog next week on the Beatles goodies that I should have... Until then... Chow!
Thursday, 13 August 2009
Note: Since making this list, two very influencial games were released. Both Need For Speed: Shift and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves would now be in the top 10 of my list. 2009 was a great year for games, and the thought that it can get better than Uncharted 2 really blows my mind!
Thursday, 6 August 2009
Elvis Presley. I could have said just “Elvis” and the chances are that you would have known exactly whom I was talking about. Elvis released some fabulous albums in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. He released a ton of out-of-this-world singles. During the mid 60’s though his output was mainly film-fodder, with hardly a decent tune between the cringe-worthy wobbles of rocks greatest icon.
All this was to change with the 68’comeback special, a great TV performance that quite frankly blew me away the first time I viewed it, and solidified Elvis’ place in Rock ‘N’ Roll history. After that show, Elvis was once again King of the crop, and his first major album after his “comeback” was “From Elvis In Memphis”.
What can be said about this album that has not been said before? Well, yes, it’s one of the greatest albums of the 1960’s, if not, since the dawn of time. But for Elvis, it was a time to get back to his roots, find his voice again and do what he done best, make awesome music for music fans.
“From Elvis In Memphis” originally contained twelve tracks; the new “Legacy” version of the album contains these twelve tracks, plus the ten tracks from the follow up album “Elvis In Memphis” plus 14 various other tracks from the same sessions including no fewer than ten heart-stopping mono single masters. It’s an Elvis fans wet dream, and the sound quality has to be heard to be believed… Simply soulful, heavenly bliss.
The original album itself contained the hit single “In The Ghetto”, but this is in no way the best track on the album. Every track is something special, and as soon as you hear the opening track “Wearin’ That Loved On Look”, you know you’re in for something special. My favourite song on the album is probably “True Love Travels On A Gravel Road”, the title in itself most un-Elvis like.No amount of praise will prepare you for this sonic-boom of an album, so I’ll stop writing this review and you can go listen to the album somewhere. Buy it now, it’s a must have in anyone’s collection.
Yesterday I went for an interview as an Assistant Manager in a small store in Aberystwyth. Today I heard that I was successful at applying for the job, and I can start the end of August! This seems like good news, and indeed it is, however for once in my life I am also driven to do something for myself.
Why work five days out of seven including Sundays when you can work for yourself from the comfort of your own home? Well, between myself and my friend Karl we’ve been working on our website http://www.karmdesign.moonfruit.com
Now, our job is going to be designing websites for other people. In this day and age it is vital that any business should have a web outlet of some kind, even if it’s just one page with name and address and directions on how to get there.
We intend to hopefully corner this part of the market. The one page, too five page websites. Simple, effective and affordable. What’s more, we’ll even promote the sites through various means, which we are working on.
It’s all about getting that first site. Once we’ve achieved that then it should be easier to get more as we build up a portfolio. For now, we’ve been working on a few page designs over at our site. It’s early days yet, but we’re getting there.Please visit, and if you need a web site designed, we can do it for as little as £250, and than includes the site and domain, full technical and update support for a year and more!
Thursday, 23 July 2009
Then came a clever part. Some PSN and all PS1 games on the PS3 hard drive can be played on the PSP while in remote play. Awesome! So, for those who do not understand remote play, you switch your PS3 into remote play mode and just leave it in it's usual position. Turn the PS3 off, then go out with your PSP and either find a free wi-fi spot or use someone elses wi-fi. Turn on your PSP, switch to "Remote Play" mode and the PSP will link up with a wi-fi connection and connect remotely to your PS3 allowing all this goodness of running things from your PS3 on your PSP.
Taking this idea a step further, we turned on the PS3, turned on my main PC and set up a media Server with the PS3 and PC. This allows you then to play any movies, music or pictures from your PC on your PS3. Secondly, we set the PS3 into remote play mode. Our task was to see if we could use the PSP to stream movies, music and photos from the PC onto our PSP.
So, after a few seconds, the PS3 and PC were linked, our media server was set up. We turned on the PSP and connected via the Internet connection to start our remote play session. OH YES! As the PSP acts like your PS3, we could access the PCs content, and soon I was streaming Quantum Of Solace perfectly onto the PSP.
Of course, the possibilities for this are enormous, you could take your PSP on holiday or on a trip with you, and as long as you have wi-fi in your room or in the lobby etc, you could access games, movies, music, photos etc on your PSP. Your PSP's memory card can now be used just for games, and everything else can be left at home.
The times we live in are great! Who'd have thought that pairing consoles and PCs would be so much fun and so easy?
Tuesday, 7 July 2009
Wednesday, 1 July 2009
Friday, 26 June 2009
However, Michael Jackson's death has really astounded me. He was just 50 years old and during the 1980's I loved his music and ingenious videos. We all know that he had a lot of turmoil in his later years, however during his “hit” period he was damn good.
The last time I remember anything similar to this was the day that Elvis Presley died. Yes I was only 7, however today brought those memories flooding back. Of course there was comparing Elvis to Wacko, Elvis was a genuine hero, a genuine talent who changed music as we know it. Jackson came close, and I know a lot of people loved his music so, it's to all those people I say “Michael, Rest In Piece”.
Friday, 19 June 2009
How music listening has changed
Wow, I was not expecting those notes to the right to be so big! But in one way it's ok because that is the scale of things. This week I have started selling my music collection (and the odd DVD or game) to Music Magpie. The principal is you input the bar-code and it offers you a price. These prices per CD range from 30p to £3 so it's not too bad.
There used to be a time when I would sell music on eBay, however most of these CDs I am selling to Music Magpie are things I just do not listen to anymore, or I can listen to by other means (which I will come to later). The thing is, I have over 500 CDs cluttering the place up, so I was just going to throw them all away, on eBay most of them would not sell, and those that sell I would have to pay various fees to eBay, Paypal etc, and it's all too much like hard work with that many CDs.
Anyway, why sell? Simple answer, the way we listen to music has changed, and the way I listen to music definitely has changed. When at home now I stream most of my music on the wonderful Spotify free service, it has every track I can think of that I would ever want to listen to and there's always a PC on at my home. When I'm on my PS3 console, we have Vidzone which which is the video playing equivalent of Spotify (but with less selection), so of course that is ideal for a nice relaxing half hour. On the PC, Youtube now has a playlist feature which is also an ideal way to listen to any music you want, when you want!
On top of that I have my 80GB iPod only a third filled with over 250 albums, anything I download now goes straight on there and there's lots of room for much much more. The iPod goes everywhere with me and contains all my favourite albums, and then some! If I ever forget that, I have my Samsung Pixon phone with built in radio and an 8GB memory which is also used for my very favourite albums.
So, in general, the way I listen to music has vastly changed over the last couple of years. Of course, I will still keep my Beach Boys, Elvis Presley, Jan & Dean, Beatles, Madonna and a few other artists collections on CD, but that will probably total around only 120 Cds or so that saves much more space. Ahhhh, how things have changed!
Personal gaming update
A lot of time has been spent on the Guitar Hero, Rock band and Singstar games lately, basically because they are fun and everyone in the family can enjoy them. Also, to be fair, I enjoy them to, though sometimes I do enjoy solitude and escape to my own world with games just for me.
I spent a few hours on Ford Racing 2 on the PS2, I only paid 50p for it, and to be honest, once I got into the handling of the cars I enjoyed every bit of it. I've unlocked loads, including all the rally stages. On top of that myself and Karl had a session of Motorstorm 2 and Dirt last week, which was highly entertaining... It's all racing games!
I was going to buy Fight Night Round 4 boxing, however, until they add back the buttons from Round 3 I think I will steer clear of it. It looks stunning, is really fast and is probably the closest a game has come to real boxing, however I will stick with Round 3 until they add the button changes or the price drops!
I'm still working on my top 50 games. I've actually typed them all out, I've just not ordered them into the correct order yet.
The best of the rest
I'm still enjoying using Twitter. I think of it as an easier way of blogging, basically I can say my little things, then a couple of times a week I can blog as I am doing now. This makes things a whole lot easier, and I am so addicted to it. People can not understand why I do it, but I know family and friends follow me so keep up with what I am doing, I know other people follow me and interact, and I also learn a lot from some of the useful Tweeters out there.
Time is getting closer to The Beatles box-sets. £169.99 for the stereo set (14 Cds and a DVD) and £199.99 for the mono set (13CDs & a DVD). This is the cheapest I have found them on Play.com. Luckily for me I had a voucher, so it knocked £20 odd off the price. Also, I am downloading "deluxe" editions of all the albums in the .flac format, these versions contain stereo, mono and sessions, however they are just an interim "fix" until the official remastered versions are released on 09.09.09.
My Internet connection is a funny thing. My home in Swansea is just outside the City Centre and my connection varies from 1MB to 2.5MB. It's quite odd, and as much as the government bullshits about making sure everyone has over 2MB lines, I think it will be many years before EVERYONE in the UK gets that. When in Aberystwyth we use a mobile broadband dongle which gives us speeds of around half a meg, it does the job, but it's not ideal.
Until next time, hope you enjoyed this longer than usual blog. More to come soon!