Thursday, July 31, 2008

Chuck Norris fact of the week

Chuck Norris' tears can cure cancer.

Too bad Chuck Norris doesn't cry.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Restaurant Review - Amber India, San Francisco

Amber's newest location, in San Francisco, is the swankiest one yet.  What about the food?  Well, it also beats the other locations out!  (although Amber Cafe in Mountain View always wins for snacks).

Whats good there - butter chicken (yum!), bhindi are really good.  Seekh kababs, kaali daal (black daal) and chicken tikka are ok. But overall the food is very nice.

Map image

Amber India Restaurant
25 Yerba Buena Lane
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 777-0500

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Swimming Thursday

Swam somewhere between 4 - 4.5 km. Confused lap count in the middle, so to be safe, will say distance was between 3.5 - 4.5 km. Thats 70 - 90 laps.

Sleep will be quite sweet today.

Restaurant Review - Roti Indian Bistro

Roti Indian Bistro is ok.  But not good.  Seekh kababs, paneer tikka, rote, naan, aaloo gobi, daal makhani.... all ok. 

The decor was nice, and the food smells were good.

I went to the Burlingame location.  Probably never going again - too many really good options available 20 minutes north or south of Burlingame.

Map image

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Restaurant Review - Burma Super Star

Burma Super Star, with its main location in San Francisco (309 Clement St), is amazingly good (and of course it serves Burmese food). 

Map image

Its so good, I rank it at the same level as Banana Leaf (although I've only gone a few times, so it hasn't been tested over time yet)

If you go, you MUST order the tea leaf salad and the samosa soup.  Everything is good, but these two are a must. the tea leaf salad (pictured below) will be tossed at your table... only heightens the anticipation.

There is now a second location in Alameda - I had lunch there today.  Just as great, so I like the fact that I don't have to look for freaking parking in the Clement St area any more if I don't want to.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

New Halo game!!

Bungee and MicroSoft have confirmed there is a new Halo game coming!!!!

Why didn't they announce it during E3? MicroSoft's excuse - they felt they didn't have enough time during their press conference, and that they could do it more justice in a dedicated presentation.

To me, sounds like one of two possibilities instead:

a) Microsoft and Bungee's little issues coming to the fore. But this is too low a possibility - no one, least of all MicroSoft, teases their cash cow.

b) A brilliant chess move - start with a really, really solid E3, beating out Sony and Nintendo. Then, when the dust settles and everyone finishes talking about who did best.... throw out this curveball right into the other consoles' faces!!

Amazing. I love it.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Chocolatier Review - La Bonbonniere, Geneva

Started in 1921 under the name of Werder confectionery, La Bonbonniere is located at 11, rue de rive - CH 1204 Genève.

I have to say - their chocolates are amazing!  Each and every one!  Blows Rohr (also of Geneva), Neuhaus etc. completely out of the water, and gets up to Marcolini (Belgium) levels. 

In particular, their Marzipan bon bon was the best I have ever had. Best. Ever.

The chocolates I had were 2 days old when I got my grubby paws on them.

testing blog posting via email

Woot, first blog posting via email.

Who won E3 '08?

G4 network, as every year, ran a poll to see who won E3 '08.

I'm partial to the XBox 360 (I own it, not the PS3), and also loved the width and depth of the games they showcased in E3. At the same time, I do prefer less cutesy games, so did prefer the PS3 games over the Nintendo games showcased - Nintendo didn't seem to have much on offer for hard-core gamers.

So of course my votes on G4 were: Microsoft, then Sony, then Nintendo. G4's poll results are in, and similar to mine, in answer to the question:

"Who won E3 '08?"

- Microsoft - 57%
- Sony - 32%
- Nintendo -11%

Friday, July 18, 2008

Game Preview - Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts

Another cutsey, cartooney game that looks nice, where you have the new twist of being able to put create weird vehicles out of random parts.

The game seems to have a very high premium on spending time building weird vehicles to go through new obstacles.  Thats quite interesting - Lego in video game form, followed by goal gratification.

I would be bored, but would have loved this during my formative years.... after I would be done building weird vehicles with lego, I would have loved to have had this game.

Game Preview - Tom Clancy's EndWar

Tommy boy's games are still not for me.  But as a neutral observer:

  • graphics look quite good
  • voice-command option is intriguing
  • RTS game, with multiplayer a big part of it
  • lots and lots of info displays, for those who can't get enough of them
  • You can jump into the game at any time, change your stats around
  • Multi-player, co-op, multi-platform.....

I still don't want to play a Tom Clancy game, but for the hordes out there who can't get enough, EndWar looks quite good.

Its also out of Ubisoft Shanghai - very interesting to see how this office is performing.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Cartoon - Puss Gets the Boot (Tom & Jerry)

'Puss Gets the Boot' was the first Tom & Jerry cartoon short ever made, in 1940 - produced by Rudolph Isling, directed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera.  While they got an Oscar nomination, they weren't given permission to continue making more cat-and-mouse cartoons, until a lot of persuasion finally got them their dream... and the world Tom & Jerry.

In this cartoon, the cat was called Jasper, the mouse Jinx (although I don't think that appears anywhere on the cartoon).  The plot is brilliantly simple; Tom/ Jasper is firmly in control and tormenting the mouse, until some stuff in the house breaks.  He then gets into trouble with the maid of the house... and the mouse takes over tormenting the cat from there.

This short I believe was remade later, with the same story by better coloring and Tom and Jerry's signature blue and brown colors and rounded shapes.

A must-watch!

Game Preview - Little Big Planet

Everyone else seems gaga over Little Big Planet.  Technically, I think it is very good.  But it just doesn't do it for me.  Too cutsey, no shooting. 

But I can see how Mario might have to step up its game in the next year.



Game Preview - UFC 2009 Undisputed

Its coming after a long time, and I may not play it anyway, but the new UFC game looks good - very nice and recognizable character models, recognizable fighting styles and moves, good landed-blow graphics (screen blurrs, shakes, you can almost feel the blows).

Looks like a pretty nice job by the game team.  Don King Presents will be KO'ed by UFC.  Fight Night and newer, good boxing games might also find some of their market share eroded... unless UFC opens up brand new markets, with the growing popularity of the sport.

Game Preview - DC Universe vs. Mortal Kombat

Woohoo!  I can never get enough of these fighters.  Call me a nerdy fanboy, but Captain Marvel or Superman vs Scorpion or Subzero gets me every time. 

And there's free-fall combat!  Damn, I like that new addition.

What about the blood and gore levels?  MK is known for their extreme gore, while DC is obviously a little more child-friendly (plus, how can you dismember Superman?).  I'm not sure yet; I didn't see enough gore.  But either way, this game looks grrrreat! 

Finish him!  Flawless victory!

And in case we're in a silly mood, why not check out Mortal Komedy? Its silly, sure, but also nerdly funny, somehow.

Game Preview - inFamous

inFamous is the PS3 game thats starting to interest me.  You play as a superhuman in a city gone to hell.  The entire game is like an open world sandbox - you can go anywhere, do anything.  At the same time, there's a lot of free running, and some weird Sith-like super-powers. 

The free-running plays partly like Prince of Persia, but seems a little more fluid.  What still looked jerky was how the main character ran on the ground.  Priorities, priorities...

Game Preview - Mercenaries 2, World in Flames

So now we're mercenaries, roaming around in Venezuela.  Lots of stuff to blow up, as with the previous Mercenaries game. Drive jeeps up to objects, jump out and blow them up.  Giant (giant!) explosions.  Shoot stuff.  Cool mohawks.  Nice graphics.  Rocket launchers (yeah!).  Monster trucks or tanks choppered in at your call.  Draw distance looks pretty good.  The team's credo - if you can see it, you can use it, you can blow it up - wow!

We're not in Crysis-like graphics here, but I did feel like I was in Venezuela, blowing stuff up!

Dude!  I'm getting the feeling that the next 12 months could  come close to challenging 2007 in terms of vast arrays of amazingly good games!

There's also this character-narrated trailer.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Game Preview - Crysis Warhead

Damn, the Crytek guys have actually stepped it up another notch! Crysis Warhead, which tells a parallel strategy to the original game, has even better graphics!  Seriously.  Resistance Fall of Man, Gears of War... sorry guys, Crysis graphics look just a little better. 

Fire effects, gunfire effects, explosion effects in particular as usual are amazing.

The question as always is, can your PC handle it?  But the Crytek guys are saying they worked to make sure the game could work on a $600 PC.  Yeah, I believe them... what I'm seeing on the screen right now would definitely need expensive hardware to do it justice!

Game Preview - Left for Dead

Zombies.  Turbo zombies.  Out in the forest, hiding in the foliage.  Diaper-changing fun.

Early look at the game, so the graphics look like they still need polishing, specially on the zombies, and effects on shot bodies.

Game Preview - Dead Space

Remember the first time you played Resident Evil?  Remember the first horror movie you saw? 

Ooh man, Dead Space gives me that feeling!  Hope the gameplay stays up to the initial look.

The plot is standard doom or quake.  Except that you aren't a hot-shot spiked up fighting machine.  You're an ordinary mechanic who ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The weapons look very new - they all seem derived from ideas around mining tools (which I believe is the protagonist's profession).  The fight sequences seem a mix of slow shooting mixed with sudden melee attacks.  The monsters themselves don't look too scary, but the atmosphere and graphics (as with Doom) and the pacing (as with Resident Evil) seem to be the primary drivers of the scream factor.

Per reports, the sound engineering is really good too, and you need a 5 point surround sound system to get the benefit of the game.

An interesting thing - the inventory screen doesn't give you respite; it shows up in your hud during gameplay.  So no cheating during battles!

And I also saw the curb-stomp used a few times;  Gears of War, I love how you spread your influence around!  Curb-stomping rules!

Game Preview - Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Underworld

The graphics (and Miss Croft) look good as usual.  Um, and there's some under-water swimming with, um, bathing suits.  I got only a very quick look.... everything I saw so far looks good.

Plus the developer's cryptic comment - "she's also going to a location in the north... in the very far north".  How far north can she go?

(about the 1:35 mark)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Game Preview - Killzone 2

Killzone, a PS3 exclusive, should be out in Feb 2009.  I saw a demo played at E3 - I wish it was on the 360!  Killzone looks really awesome! Lets not look for gory special kill moves, weird targeting systems, just a really really solid shooter with Hollywood level scene setups.

Hmm, I might buy a PS3 after the next price drop.

Game Preview - Fracture

Fracture, from Lucas Arts, is looking good.  The character models seem like Quake-lites, (where, of course, Quake copied from Gears of War).  Ok, so they look A LOT like the Gears guys, with red armor with the same blue lighting.

It looks quite good, and the main idea of the game, terrain deformation, looks quite cool.  Essentially, its 2090 and you have weird new guns that can help you deform the terrain, and attack enemies in different and weird ways.

Looks like a solid buy; after I finish with Gears of War 2, play GoW again for the umpteenth time, Fracture can help me get a little more of the juju.  I'm hoping I can get away with just normal gun-play once in a while.

Restaurant Review - Koh Samui & the Monkey

So first of all, whats with the name?  I've put an explanation taken straight from the restaurant's website at the bottom. 

Now on to the food - it is really good!  If you find a menu item with "curry" in its name or description - order it.  If you find one with "garlic" in its description - order it.  If you find one under appetizers - order it!

This is really good Thai food.

As for the ambience: it was a little loud in there.  Thats great if you're in a partying mood. But there were 5 of us, and only the two people in the middle seats could hear everyone else.

The decor is quite nice, though.  Definitely worth a visit.

Here's the explanation from the  restaurant's site:

Koh Samui & The Monkey is a Thai restaurant. The name Koh Samui & The Monkey comes from the two people behind the restaurant: Chalermporn "Aom" Phanthong, the owner operator, and her husband Chris Foley, the primary investor. Chris and Aom met on a boat while scuba diving off the coast of Koh Samui, Thailand. While Aom was taking a break for her graduate studies in England to visit her family, Chris had just sold his business in San Francisco and was taking a sabbatical traveling through Southeast Asia. Aom chose to honor their relationship by naming the restaurant Koh Samui.     
    The "Monkey" portion of the name is two fold and refers to the small Thai antique store that is attached to the restaurant. First, Monkey in Koh Samui (the island, not the restaurant) is everywhere and treated as friends. Second, Aom is very proud of the fact that she was born during the Year of the Monkey.


415 Brannan St San Francisco, CA 94107-1703

Phone: 415-369-0007


Game Preview - Star Wars Clone Wars on the Wii

Ok, this is where the Wii-mote is quite fun to use, with a bit more precision added in.  The Clone Wars demo, while not live, did look quite good. 

I'll buy this one!

Independence Day... or Independence Dayo?

Independence Day was one of the best movies of its time (still is pretty good).  Sure, we all forgave Hollywood for dumb stuff like, uh, just uploading a random virus into a very random alien supercomputer. 

But I don't think too many people could stop gagging during the 4th of July speech by Bill Pullman.  One of the most bombastic speeches ever. 

Well, it just got a little better with some translation into...English!

Game Preview - Wii Music

With the new mod to increase the Wii-mote's sensitivity, and the Wii Fit pad to serve as pads for your feet while drumming, Wii Music might have a few converts.
And of course, Miyamoto led this game's development, so it probably is quite good.

But I just don't see folks leaving Rock Band or Guitar Hero for Wii Music.

New Wii Motion Plus for the remote

Nintendo unveiled a new mod to plug into the Wii remotes - the Motion Plus. The idea is, it plugs into the bottom of your Wii remote and makes it a lot more accurate.

Um, I want that for free. And sell new Wii remotes without this as a separate mod... thats retarded.

But from the demos, it does look like it works.

Game Preview - Wii Sports Resort

Ok, the Wii Sports game was the best received game overall, so here comes the successor - Wii Sports Resort.
Frisbee with your dog.
Jet skiing.
Wooden sword fighting.
Chainsaw pencils.
Ok, its nice. But I was hoping for more.

Game Review - Guitar Hero on Tour, Nintendo DS

This is retarded! Lame! Slashing on a guitar looks cool, can be made to look cooler. But take this from me - you cannot, cannot be cool if you're trying to strum frantically on a guitar.... on the freaking DS screen!


Game Preview - new Rayman Raving Rabbids

The new Rayman Raving Rabbids game fo rthe Wii looks just as wacky as usual - woohoo!
Every Rayman game is a solid buy! The previous one was more for groups, not as good in single player mode, but still a solid buy... and for groups, really good!

Game Preview - Animal Crossing, City for the Wii

Watching E3 2008 again with Mike. Animal Crossing, City left us quite, quite bored.
So you can roam around the town. You can buy stuff, send mail, cut trees, dig up bunny eggs.... yawn.

But Reggie Fils-Amie (Nintendo America head) looks pretty pissed off, so perhaps we should buy this game.

Monday, July 14, 2008

XBox 360 price cut

Good for everyone, and in time for E3 - Microsoft on Sunday cut the price of the Xbox 360 Pro model game console with a 20 gigabyte hard drive to $299 from $349.

They also introduced a new Xbox 360 model with a 60 gigabyte hard drive, which will go on sale in stores in the U.S. and Canada for $349 in early August.

Buy it, folks, and buy ($10 cheaper now!) Gears of War!

Game Preview - Resident Evil 5

Saw Resident Evil 5 played live at E3 - whoohoo!  Finally on XBox!!! 

The game looks sweeter than before, although maybe a little less freaky. And they showed one of the tougher enemies - a chainsaw-wielding, burlap-sack on the head zombie!!

A solid buy rating, dear bankers.

Here's the extended trailer - set all flights to Africa!

Gave Preview - Gears of War 2 (contd.)

Just saw a live demo on E3.... OMFG OMFG OMFG!!!!!!!!

November 7th, I can't wait!

Meat-shields, oh my!

Faster pacing, goodness gracious!

Better and more detailed graphics... wha..? how...?

Newer weapons, smarter and new enemies, ooh yeah!  (Like the priests, with their new ink grenades, the tickers - explosive little buggers, drones with grappling hooks - you can shoot the hooks off walls so the drones plunge to their splattery deaths... and on and on!)

Newer, gorier kill-moves - flip me over and curb stomp me, why don't you??

The brumaks! Damn!

November 7th, I really can't wait!!!!!

In the meantime, here's an older video, revealed by Mr. Mousse, Cliffy B.  Around the 2 minute mark, you can see an example of using a meat-shield.  And of course, the Brumak is there, and the locust have chainsaws too.  Woohoo!

Game Preview - Fallout 3

I've been waiting for Fallout 3 for quite a while. They're demoing it live on E3 right now, and I have to say..... groan!

The world looks big. But it doesn't compare to Gears of War's 'destroyed beauty'.

The music and feel seem ripped from BioShock (ok, that isn't a bad thing).

The much-vaunted V.A.T.S, or Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System is disappointing. It was supposed to show us a new level of blood, gore, and humorous take-downs, but I just didn't get interested.
Ah well, c'est la vie...

So here are a few more screen-shots.

    screen16B screen15B  screen23B   screen26B

Swimming Saturday

Only 1.5 km (30 laps).
I swam without swim goggles - had to throw away contacts after a while, and my eyes were red for a long time after. Probably took the same time I would have for a 2 km swim.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Chocolatier Review - Rohr, Geneva

I had occasion to taste some chocolates by Rohr in Geneva; These are sold at three main locations, of which I went to Place Du Molard. 

I had only one piece of each type of chocolate, and they are smaller than individual chocolates one gets in the US (roughly half the size of Godiva chocolate pieces found all over the US); I ate them roughly 28 hours after they had been manufactured. With these two points, I'm hoping I got the right taste of each chocolate.

  1. Marzipan - taste was ok.  The after-taste was quite good, for over a minute.  But I would probably prefer packages Marzipan chocolates.
  2. Milk truffle with Bailey's infusion - Very good!
  3. Dark truffle - Good.  Might have preferred shell to be less crunchy, as it masked some of the chocolate taste.
  4. Extra dark (70%) truffle - Very good! Felt like 60% - 65% cocoa
  5. Cappuccino - Very good!  Wish the taste lingered longer after finishing.

Frankfurt Airport - Sweeter wines available

Traveling to and from Geneva in July 2008, I saw the following sweet wines available in the duty-free shops.IMG_0113

Krebs Grove
Auslese Trocken Riesling


Krebs Grove
Huxelrebe Beerenauslese
16.90 Euros
0.5 Litres


Krebs Grove
Riesling Eiswein
26 Euros
0.375 Litres


Schloss Vollrads
Riesling Eiswein
95 Euros
0.375 Litres


Blue Nun
25 Euros
0.375 Litres


Krug scher Hof
22.50 Euros


Krug scher Hof
Trockenbeeren Auslese
27 Euros
0.375 Litres


Ortega Trockenbeerenauslese
20.50 Euros
0.375 Litres


Riesling Spatlese Halbtrocken
7.50 Euros
0.75 Litres


Barons de Rotschild collection
8.80 Euros
0.75 Litres

Travel Review - Geneva

I spent a couple of days in Geneva in July, 2008.  Mainly used the city as a base, starting and ending there;  in between, we traversed a fair bit of Western and Southern Switzerland, and Italy... but more on that later.

Geneva is at once pretty, and dirty (for a Swiss city), touristy (in a nice way) as well as just another big city.  Taking the train from the Geneva airport to get to the city shows some grime.  A far better way is to drive in; all at once you will experience the lake, the fountain, the wonderfully and warmly lighted up city, and the marquee names (Rolex, Tissot, Brietling - all have horribly big signs overlooking the lake and road coming in from the east).

Geneva's Fountain is quite cool - it is a single high plume, lighted from below so that the water is well lit up.  During the 2008 Euros in June, the fountain had a football at the top.  Of course if you've been to Vegas, you were probably spoiled by the fountains at the Bellagio.  Don't compare - this one is quite nice on its own.  And it even has a story, instead of just being a brain-child of some uber city-planning cabal.  The story I heard told of a fire hydrant being knocked over; the resulting fountain attracted a lot of people, and voila!

The park near the fountain, next to the lake is really nice.  In summer, it always seemed full of people relaxing and enjoying, some jugging and exercising, others dancing (semi-organized dances are held often in the park).  The ice cream you get at the park is really really good, per Carina - wish I had gotten to taste it!

The Old Town is ok.  The food is quite expensive, and in the ok to good range.  A little bit to see there by walking around, but I didn't get the same feel of the old town as I did with other Swiss or European towns.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


I'm off to Geneva tomorrow!  Woohoo!

Map image

Sunil, the Ultimate Warrior

Sunil, my erstwhile workout partner, reminds some of us of the Ultimate Warrior, of ye olde WWF.  Ajith found an old clip of Sunil doing his Ultimate Warrior routine.

Oh, and they both make about as much sense!

Ben has a crush.... on me

Xavier was taking some artsy photographs during Mike's gig at the Brain Wash in San Francisco.  Ben apparently got a man-crush on mine

Vikram at Mike's gig at Brain Wash, SF_20080628

He thinks I'm Saif Ali's alter ego in Race 2 (a Bollywood movie)