July 17, 2006
Spurred on by a soon-to-expire 12% off "Reward Zone" certificate from Best Buy, I got my mom her big ticket Christmas and/or Birthday gift half a year early: a "TomTom GO 300" GPS/roadmap gadget.
It's pretty cool, and I see a lot of improvements in terms of UI from my old reliable "Babe in a Box" Garmin 2610. Most notable, all these units have that "3D" view for the map. It reminds me a lot of that old Super Nintendo "Mode 7" effect, where 3D was done by rotating and zooming over a single giant plane... despite my initial uncertainty I can see it's a UI win, I think because of the way it emphasizes the streets closer to you, since in perspective they're larger.
The one thing is, at first we couldn't use it to find my mom's own street! Though browsing, we could see it on the map. I finally found it by entering her zip code, which explained that she doesn't live in "Needham" like we thought, but "Needham Heights". (One thing I can do on m Garmin but I don't know how to on the TomTom is search for a street without knowing the city.)
Of course, one of the niftier features is all the voices they build in, male and female, and with various accents. The female UK English one is rather euphonious. And Ksenia was impressed that it also spoke Russian.
Games of the Moment
I found this page of Chess Variants, where you can play against a weak computer opponent online (Java applet-- actually following one of the game links seemed to shutdown Firefox once, so beware.) I got the chance to try Kriegspiel, where you can't see your opponents pieces. The UI could be a bit sharper, but overall it's cool to mess around with.
Achievment of the Weekend
Another late loveblender. The From the Ball-Room to Hell was kind of fun.
News of the Moment
CNN had a transcript of a conversation between Bush and Blair. The headline is "Bush frustration sparks expletive" (Who cares, really, though it would be nice if he was a bit less shoot-from-the-hip) but it was kind of interesting to see a relatively casual conversation like that. Bush almost sounds like he knows what he's talking about!