Category Archives: Free Time

All kind of things I do in my free time

Movie of the Week: Star Trek

The last two Star Trek movies were quite disappointing. When I heard that the newest movie would be about the young crew of the original Enterprise I thought it would be even worse. But a very favourable review by Spiegel Online whose critics normally despise any remotely entertaining movie sparked my interest.

And Star Trek didn’t disappoint me: action, humour and drama presented at Warp speed. The actors playing the crew of the enterprise are excellent, in particular Chris Pine. He plays James T. Kirk as a daredevil who you hate and love at the same time. He even manages to remind you of William Shatner without being sappy. After two hours which seem to pass in an instant a whole new universe opens up in front of you.

So far Star Trek is definitely the best movie I’ve seen this year.

Game of the Month: Mario Kart Wii

A lot of people told me that Mario Kart Wii is a must-have. As usual I grew suspicious and wasn’t sure whether I wanted such a hyped game. But after playing Mario Kart Wii with my nephew I had to agree. When we were back home Silke browsed through a lot of shops in Cambridge until she managed to find the game in the last shop where it wasn’t sold out.

Mario Kart Wii is a comic style racing game. You pick a character from the Mario universe (e.g. Mario, Toad or Bowser) and either a kart or a motorbike and race over imaginative race tracks. The gameplay is simple, you only need to steer, accelerate and use extras. The extras are what makes the game so interesting. You can e.g. get extra speed boosts, missiles, temporary invulnerability, shrink all your opponents or turn into a cannonball which dashes along the race track. But some amount of fairness is maintained nevertheless. The racer in the lead e.g. never gets powerful extras. The real fun starts when you play the game with multiple players. Up to four people can play in split screen mode if you have enough Wii Remotes at hand.

I can highly recommend this game because it is very entertaining, a single race doesn’t require much time and you can play it with your friends. My advice is however not to buy the Wii Wheel. It only makes steering more sluggish compared to using just the Wii Remote. Overall I prefer to use the Wii Nunchuk anyway.

NetBSD TV: The Streaming Video Client

For quite some time I’ve been looking for a streaming video client that would allow me to watch the video files that are stored on my NetBSD server on the TV in the sitting room. I thought that my requirements for such a client were pretty basic:

  1. Decent analog video (preferably via a SCART connector) and digitial audio output.
  2. An HDMI connector for future use.
  3. Support for popular video file formats like DivX and MP4.
  4. Doesn’t require a proprietary server software.
  5. A good WAF.

But I was wrong. I couldn’t find any streaming video client that met these demands in over a year. When I recently learned that Sony’s Playstation 3 (PS3) supports DivX in newer versions of its firmware my interest was sparked. After a bit of research I found a number of facts in favour of the PS3:

  1. The PS3 supports UPnP AV and works fine with MediaTomb, an open source UPnP MediaServer.
  2. The PS3 has all the video and audio connectors that I wanted.
  3. As the PS3 can also play DVDs it could replace my DVD player. That would not only avoid an increase in the number of devices in the sitting room but also prevent a shortage of SCART ports on the TV.
  4. The case of the PS3 is well designed and shiny.
  5. In addition to all that the PS3 is also a powerful game console and a Blu-ray Disc player. And I was keen to play Assassin’s Creed anyway.

Based on the above evaluation I came up with a profound business case which was approved by the secretary of domestic affairs straight away (the WAF was even better than anticipated). I bought a Playstation 3 online the next day.