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The best laptop ever made...

Marco Arment recently blogged about the best laptop ever made: the Retina Macbook Pro. That is, indeed, one of the best laptops Apple ever produced and it was good enough for me to replace my Powermac, a machine that served me amazingly well for years and a sku I wish Apple had given more love to. But it’s not the best laptop ever made.

The best laptop ever made is this:

powerbook.jpg

The Titanium Powerbook G4.

In 2001 this machine was the fucking bomb. Running the first version of OSX, this bad boy gave me Unix on the go, with Photoshop, a permanent Bluetooth connection to my phone, meaning internet on the go, and THE nicest dev environment I’d ever used up to that point. It was the first insight into what life in a permanently internet connected world could be like, and I loved it.

At work it auto mounted NFS shares from our Solaris servers, at home it auto mounted drives from my home rolled NAS - amusingly enough, some of which was still hosted on my A1200 tower. Sure, the paint wore off it after a while, and the G4 never was as fast as claimed, but this really was the first machine that delivered everything we consider essential in a modern portable computer. And it was sexy as fuck.

Apple really should have been paying me, back then, as every time I pulled out this bad-boy, people lusted after OSX and sexy Apple HW. And logging into a mate’s router from the inside of a pub and mooching about through his machines was one hell of a tech demo.

I don’t use Apple HW for much anymore, but this laptop will always hold a special place in my heart. It was, quite simply, the best laptop ever produced.

The Thing

Paul Large, the ever amazing Art Director over at Ruffian Games, has put up some of the videos that were produced for The Thing, a collaboration between my old haunt - Ruffian Games - Microsoft & Universal Pictures.

I have mixed feelings when I watch these. I’d be lying if I said I was ever fully engaged in the project. I hated how we were being asked to make it, and I had absolutely no faith in Microsoft’s ability to, well, do fucking anything by this point. We were being shoved between junior producers that had barely scheduled lunch before working with us, and had a publisher side writer that spent longer arguing about the feelings of the NPCs than he did giving a single fuck about what the player might be thinking. It was rough and I was miserable, piss-whinging about it all the time. Although, we did get treated to a VIP jaunt around Universal Pictures in LA, which was a fucking hilarious day out…

As with anything to do with big companies, a lot comes down to politics. Despite having an EP over in Seattle who was extremely passionate about us, and what we were doing, he didn’t have enough capital inside MS to save it when the Xbone launch was a disaster. We got canned along with [practically] everything else that MS were doing at the time…

But the work that Ruffian did was easily the best we’d managed up to then, and there was a real enthusiasm and passion for the project. We all adored the license.

I learned a lot about how to tackle the design of a big project by watching the way Rich and the team carved things up. It was good, detailed work, and if we had of got it over the line I strongly believe it would have treated John Carpenter’s universe with the same reverence and attention to detail as Alien: Isolation did for the Alien franchise.

I moved to Finland to start up a little Ruffian satellite while this project was being worked on, so I missed the tail-end of the stuff that was produced in the studio. And I wasn’t there when the axe fell. It was a close call, the studio nearly went down, but it’s a credit to everyone there that it didn’t, and that it’s going from strength to strength.

AAA is brutal, even with the best of licenses. I honestly do not fucking miss it, not one little bit. But then, making games is brutal, even tiny projects on your own.

Below Zero: 018

Jack...

Jack

Back when I was living in Dundee, my girlfriend (at the time) and I decided to get a couple of cats. It wasn’t the ideal situation, given we lived in a tiny apartment, but we weren’t planning on staying there for long, and I was desperate to have some furry friends in the house.

We ended up with two; Jack and Stella. One boy. One girl. It was hard to believe they were brother and sister. Jack was twice her size. She was shy, he was a noisey brat. She was cute and timid, he was in your face and stealing anything that wasn’t glued down. And I loved them both.

Jack was always “my” cat, though. I’m not sure how that ended up being the case, but it was my lap he’d end up on, I was the one that scritched him “just right” and when my girlfriend and I split up, he was the one she wanted rid of.

He was loud, he was cheeky, and I’m fairly sure he wound her up on purpose.

For a long time it was just me and him. In true cat fashion he owned me, but I was able to train him not to wake me up at weekends, to shut up when Match of the Day was on, and to sit on my lap whenever he was asking for something. He never did learn not to walk on the kitchen counters, but he was sensible enough to jump off before I ever made it into the kitchen. The thumping sound as he landed on the floor when I got within a meter of the doorway always made me laugh.

He loved chicken madras, left-over Sunday roasts, would do anything for Dairylea, and nibbled on veg as long as it was covered in gravy. He killed everything that moved. Woke me up when he’d been rained on so I could dry him with a tea towel (bastard) and wouldn’t shut-up unless he got his 30 minutes of scritches, everyday, without fail.

In many ways he was perfect for me, half lazy, half bothered, sometimes a bit moody, but a soppy, furry bastard when he wanted to be.

He’s spent the last 4 years living at my Mum’s, with loads of land to roam and small mammals to kill. I’ve missed him terribly, but he’s been in the perfect place to relax and have fun, which I couldn’t really offer him from my apartment in Helsinki.

And now he’s gone.

I’m not sure I’ll have another connection with an animal like that. It was very much the right personality, at the right time, in the right place. And that’s fine. He was unique.

Sleep well, Jack, and thank you for deciding to live with me. You were the best cat.

Below Zero: 017

Trickle Down...

Interesting article here about Kansas’ experiment with tiny government, extreme devolution to the market, and “trickle down” economics. TL/DR; it didn’t work.

More Old School Hardcore

You should know by now that I’m a card-carrying, white glove wearing, whistle posse member from back in the day. I like a bit of hardcore now and again, so wrap your ears around this:

Below Zero: 016

UK Election

Its shouldn’t need saying, but just in case: Don’t vote Tory, for fuck’s sake. Don’t trust me, just have a look at how piss-poorly they’re running this election campaign. Hubris, over-confidence and stupidity are not traits to be celebrated, much less voted for.

Polybius

Super excited for Jeff and Giles today as Polybius gets released - available in all good PSN stores (PC version in-bound) - and also more than a little chuffed to have played a small part in the soundtrack. Mine’s probably the worst track of the bunch, so don’t let it put you off, there’s some properly good stuff in there, and all for the price of a coffee and donut.

And the Continuous Mix is dead good like, cos I did it ;D