Wednesday, 5 January 2011


I am sure the food is much nicer than that noun can ever convey, whatever the adjective.. Of course, maybe they are going for a rustic sound. Actually, I like the sound of that.

2011-01-04 - Shanghai Food - 01 - Delicious Gruel

Power restaurant

I go to this place quite often. Just outside the Langao line 7 subway stop, I often buy a snack to eat in. Now that a friend has kindly provided me with the key Mandarin phrases to get food to take away, if it is later in the evening when I get home, I get the food to go.

2011-01-04 - Power restaurant - 01 - Outside

This is noodles, with beef I believe. It was okay, but the beef was rather chewy and bland. They have nicer noodle dishes.

2011-01-04 - Power restaurant - 02 - Mystery soup

Some chicken place

This place (ahem, the yellow one) is just outside the Changping line 7 subway exit. They sell small portions of expensive things like deep fried pumpkin (~5 RMB each). And they sell large portions of spicy breaded tenderised chicken breast (10 RMB each).

2011-01-04 - Chicken stall - 01 - Outside

Usually they slice and dice the chicken, then stick a jabby stick into a piece so you can eat it without messing your hands. However, one time, they just bagged the huge piece of chicken and handed it over as is.

2011-01-04 - Chicken stall - 02 - Sliced chicken

Windy Putuo

2011-01-04 - Shanghai - 01 - Windy inflated banner

Christmas care package

I had the parents send over some Christmas treats. It's hard to find a decent Christmas cake, but royal icing usually does the trick.

2011-01-04 - Christmas care package - 01 - Birds eye view

Junk food update

It's a sad day when the most appealing snack food in a store is prunes. In this case, they're individually packaged into little sachets. And they still have their stones in. Back when I was young, they still used to sell prunes with the stones in, as a cheaper alternative to those with the stones removed. I guess there came a point where people couldn't be arsed buying, selling or eating them anymore. The time has come to do away with prune stones, China.

2011-01-04 - Snack - 01 - Packet of prunes

2011-01-04 - Snack - 02 - Prune sachet

2011-01-04 - Snack - 03 - Juice blast mentos

2011-01-04 - Snack - 04 - Juice blast mentos open

2011-01-04 - Snack - 05 - Packet of peach Yake candy

2011-01-04 - Snack - 06 - Sachet of peach Yake candy

KFC beef burrito

When I go into fast food places and arrive too late to try the breakfast menu, I can't help but feel disappointing. Cheaper and more flavourful, why would anyone want the generic offerings from other times of the day. In this case, I missed breakfast and decided to try something a friend told me they ordered.

2011-01-04 - KFC - 01 - Beef burrito

2011-01-04 - KFC - 02 - Beef burrito innards

Rather disappointing.

KFC breakfast

I don't normally eat KFC, but since I was at work over the weekend I decided to sample some things.

This guy looks too busy to have time to stop in at KFC. Service is so slow, you order then wait around five minutes for them to make one item you ordered that they don't happen to have made already.

2011-01-04 - KFC - 03 - Takeaway bags

Bacon and egg muffin thing - passable, but hardly the level of taste and quality that the McDonalds equivalent is. With the coffee, this was 13 RMB I think. Three hash brown like things, which were an extra 3 RMB when bought along with the muffin and coffee. And finally, a chicken congee, which cost 6 RMB.

2011-01-04 - KFC - 04 - Breakfast day one

These look so much bigger on the poster. In the carton, which isn't that large, they are small chunks that sit at the bottom. It is almost embarassing to get sold these.

2011-01-04 - KFC - 05 - Incredibly tiny hash browns

The bacon and egg mcmuffin like product.

2011-01-04 - KFC - 06 - Bacon egg muffin

The chicken congee. This was worth it. I'd seriously consider buying this and a coffee, in place of trying other random items of junk food on their menu.

2011-01-04 - KFC - 07 - Chicken congee

Monday, 3 January 2011

Why does Skype steal from its users?

I don't understand why Skype insists on threatening to take my money, if I do not use it on a regular basis. Why 180 days? Is that the limit on chargebacks? The subtext of "Talk soon" at the end of email, is "or else..".

Steam and Dragon Age Awakenings

Buying and downloading the game in Steam, I proceeded to open up the game and start playing. It seemed exactly like Dragon Age Origins, the game it is an expansion of. As a magic user, you start by doing the boring and tedious "Harrowing" quest thing. As a fighter, you start by doing some family drama bollocks including fighting large rats, thinking what a cliche this boring tripe is, and then having a character voice that fighting rats is a boring cliche. Just because you tell the player you know you are making them do your boring linear cliche, doesn't mean it suddenly isn't boring linear cliche. Anyway, the point is that it didn't seem like a new game.

I went back to the main game menu. No sign that it was Origins, and not Awakening. The "Other Campaigns" item was disabled. The Windows system tray icon was the Awakenings one, not the Origins one. How frustrating. So I googled something like "getting dragon age awakenings to actually work in steam". Bingo, some mostly tangential jibber jabber and a hint to run some application to get content registered.

Once you have loaded the game, at the main menu for the game under "Load" will be an entry marked "Other Campaigns". Choose this and select the "Dragon Age: Awakening" campaign.

If you are unable to access the "Other Campaigns" menu, please verify the GCF for both Dragon Age: Origins, and Awakening:
Title: Verifying Game Cache Files (GCF)

After the verification is complete, navigate to the folder where Dragon Age is installed (by default C:\Program Files\Steam\steamapps\common\dragon age origins\)

Find the folder marked "redist", and run the following files:

Start the game, and re-test the issue.
No dice.. "Error opening file for writing" "Results [-1] [Failed to load XML: ]"

What kind of Mickey Mouse outfit is this? Stuff you bought doesn't work, so you have to go run two applications that you barely understand the purpose of, and then they do not work for inscrutable reasons? I'm a computer games programmer and I barely understand this.

Some googling for the error message, and I stumble across some other unfortunate souls who have had the same problem as myself and without the aid of the shysters who sold them this polished turd, have worked out how to work around this DRM facilitated hoop jumping.
I searched around in the Steam and Documents folders and found all the needed .xml and .exe files. The only thing is, after running the command in command line, the "Other Campaigns" option IS STILL grayed out. The window appeared and said that everything worked fine and that the xml files were updated. It even gave me the Result [0] output, which im pretty sure means it was sucessful. I have no idea what is wrong.

Here is the command I used:
"C:\\\\Program Files\\\\Common Files\\\\BioWare\\\\saferun.exe" "C:\\\\Program Files\\\\Steam\\\\steamapps\\\\common\\\\dragon age origins\\\\redist\\\\DAO_UpdateAddinsXml.exe" /addins="BioWare\\\\Dragon Age\\\\Settings\\\\addins.xml" /manifest="C:\\\\Program Files\\\\Steam\\\\steamapps\\\\common\\\\dragon age origins\\\\addins\\\\dao_prc_ep_1\\\\manifest.xml"
Ah! It was that simple all along :-) In my case, I had to replace "Program Files" with "Program Files (x86)", but that's a minor change.

The Steam sale and Dead Space

I've been buying the odd game on Steam, throughout their Christmas sale. Today is the last day, and Dead Space is half price or something. So I thought, what the heck.

Clicking through from the sale page..

To the actual game page, where amongst the screenshots, system requirements and the like it says the following..

I don't understand what this means. But I think it means that if I were to buy the game, it would be a rental for an indeterminate period of no less than a month. Are they trying to make people to pirate their games just so they get what they paid for in a form that's actually playable?

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Sansa Clip

This is how an "mp3 player" should be. Focused, tiny and flexible. The battery lasts for a week or two. I can copy arbitrary files onto it, like the iPod/iPad applications that I can't download at home because iTunes is so backwards and clunky. Weighs so little that when if it gets knocked off whatever I have clipped it to, I barely notice. No DRM to enforce arbitrary anti-usability restrictions (I do not mean that as a euphemism for piracy either). I'd like another, as a backup.

The more I use my iPad or iPod Touch, the less I want to use iTunes. Yesterday while doing some work, I started downloading the operating system update for the iPod Touch and after two hours the whole 600MB was almost finished downloading. But I needed the bandwidth to download something else, so I paused the download and proceeded to get whatever it was. Then I resumed the upgrade download and..

From the beginning, for another two hours.. What is this? Apparently, it is still 1994 where Apple live. Decide to download something and do not want it? You have to find out how to contact Apple support (no mean feat) and ask them to remove it from your download queue. Bought your device in China? Then despite having changed your language to English, the EULA screens (and only the EULA screens) are going to strangely be in Chinese. Then there's actually having to use the program day to day. I like the ideal of a "good enough" portable digital camera/phone/gps device.. but the idea of it being lumbered with iTunes destroys any possibility of me getting an iPhone.

Tried using Facetime over the iPod Touch in the office with a coworker. It was a nice gimmick. But it seemed rather.. what's the word? Token. It didn't seem like a natural action. The idea is good, but the device just doesn't make it feel natural.