Less than 1 hour before it's 2010. Snow's still lying around pretty thick but I think people are gathered in the city for the big count down. A lovely clear moonlit night for the fireworks!
Today, I thought I'd spend the last post of 2009 looking back at the various things I've written about on this site.
First off, we'll talk briefly about what most of you come to this blog to read about over the year...
Game and Anime of 2009
Since I haven't watched that much Anime this year, it wouldn't be fair to pick a show of the year but games wise, I would have to go with the recent Dragon Age Origins because it's such an immersive game - Scenario changing depending on your decisions, characters with unique personalities, great dialogue script and some challenging boss fights. It's refreshing after playing all those Japanese RPGs with cliche characters although story wise, they are still more creative.
And if you can count the PC release, Mirror's Edge is a close runner up (no pun intended) for its innovative gameplay - I mean who would have thought about a first person game based on free running? It's a great change in Western games when it's saturated with RTS and FPS titles.
I just hope they make the boss "fights" more interesting in the potential sequel so that I don't have to watch a replay of Faith being brutally ambushed for every attempt I make to figure out what single action I need to do to overthrow them.
The Better Purchases of 2009
This next part was partly inspired by Rin over at Koi Aichaku about his spendings over the year although I've been thinking about my own too and whether products I bought were worth it or not. So, looking back at all the reviews I've written I'd have to say my best purchases were...
Finally decided to make the jump to a DSLR (an entry level one at least) even though I had been against it for the lack of video and its bulkiness.
However, they offer sharper and more detailed photos. Also, I'm sure some of you will remember the days when you had to take your rolls of film to the shop to get processed. Flexible RAWs which are similar to such negatives mean you can develop photos yourself instead of letting it all be automatically done by the camera so you can recover detail such as the white clouds in an overly-exposed sky and balance out the lighting.
As a result, I've learned quite a lot about photography over the past few months such from the basic aperture, exposure times, ISO sensitivity to terms such as barrel distortion, chromatic abberation, vignetting, colour temperature etc.
Whether my photography skills have improved since going on photo strolls and local events is another matter though ^^;
High-end compact cameras now offer HD video, RAWs and interchangeable four third lenses but DSLRs still have the advantage - They still have the bigger sensors to capture more detail and a wider selection of lenses for different photography needs at the moment.
I think I will probably replace this camera body with one capable of HD video sometime because I still miss being able to record video and don't want to end up bringing along an additional compact with me all the time.
This camera body model's better than the Sony DSLR I tried out before because it's much better at handling noise up to 1600 ISO.
For some reason over the year I've been learning a lot about sound equipment too - Sound frequencies that are considered as bass, mid-range and treble, what's a tweeter, woofer, why do the more expensive sound equipment record and reproduce sounds beyond the human range of hearing etc.
I think it was because I wanted to make the move to surround sound so that I could have a cinematic experience with my movies when it came to sounds.
Eventually ended up spending quite a bit to enjoy my music at its best too. I encode all my music in lossless FLAC format but if I were to enjoy them at their best, I needed some better listening equipment than the common pre-packaged earphones which are usually lacking in bass and other areas.
I was against in-ear types because I didn't like the idea of sticking them inside but, turns out it wasn't so bad. After a good burn-in, music (and even some movies) sound much better than anything else I've listened through so far. Even the other pair of Sony branded MDR-V300 headphones I bought earlier.
With my new interest in photography and starting to have a habit of packing away my collection of games and DVDs to make room for other stuff, having an external hard drive to rip them all to has been very handy.
Not to mention it can be used as a backup drive now so that don't lose any irreplaceable photos should another hard drive fail.
I'm still don't like having to plug in a separate power supply to power the external hard drive but, the portable versions are too expensive for the same amount of space at the moment.
Yes, yes. I know there has been faster quad cores and beyond for a while now but I was at a tight budget at the time.
Anyway, the benefits of a faster PC is pretty obvious but moving to a dual core setup with more memory meant...
- I can watch Full HD 1080p videos.
- Encode files faster.
- Play more modern games (along with less productivity...)
- Work with high resolution images, multi-task without the hard drive thrashing as it loads them from virtual memory.
The Not So Good Purchases of 2009...
They do the job of producing 5.1 surround sound and playback 2.0 stereo music better than the similarly priced Logitech X-540 speakers but, they could be better.
The rear speakers are too quiet when it comes to movies and music is still lacking in the mid-range and trebles. It doesn't help the sub-woofer is over-powered but, when you consider how much you're paying for each of the satellite speakers, you can't really complain.
Maybe I'll sell them off and replace them with something else that has better front speakers sometime.
Don't get me wrong. It's a good responsive mouse - I enjoy using the extra side buttons to jump back and forth between pages or assigning them other functions.
However, it still feels too big for my small hands. I thought I would get used to it but often I find my wrist hanging in mid-air than resting on the desk and it can get pretty tiring. It doesn't help that using high capacity rechargeable batteries makes the mouse heavier.
Wish List for 2010
So, what are the potential purchases of 2010?
Well, there's still another three Evangelion Rebuild LE DVDs to be released - Next one coming out sometime in spring. I doubt we'll even get two of them by next year. Maybe an LE of Makoto Shinkai's new movie if it turns as good as or better than 5cm.
An f/2.8 zoom lens at least because my current kit lens is too slow for action shots or for dim-lighting without flash. Not so keen on getting the more restrictive but cheaper prime lenses that doesn't allow you to adjust zoom. I will probably end up going for the cheaper third party lens selection from Tamron or Sigma that costs almost only a third of first party Canon lenses.
Also have two more "The Beast Player, Erin" hardback novels to import to find out what happens to Erin after the show. Does the People of the Fog continue watching over Erin and the other King Beasts to prevent the "Great Sin" or do things change?
Finally a new DAP to replace my Meizu Mini Player because its battery life has dropped down to 2 hours which means I have to charge it fully every time before going out or it won't last the trip back.
So yeah, quite a few things on my to buy list...
That said, I should probably save up for a first trip to Japan or be investing more in something that'll ease my mind financially when I'm elderly ^^;
Plans for This Site
I originally started blogging because I just wanted a place to dump my thoughts and didn't like having multiple site accounts to submit my work i.e. reviews and translations. Now I've got my own domain running I've been writing various things for it - Still mainly games and Anime oriented but I'm starting to delve in photography so you could see things changing again.
I find myself playing fewer games and watching less Anime these days to be honest. I spend more time reading and posting about them! ^^;
In any case, have a great New Year's Eve and Happy New Year readers! Thanks for reading!