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Sites unseen

by Niloy

1001 things to do with Liquid Nitrogen
Just in case you've got several hundred gallons of liquid nitrogen lying around, here's a long list of 1001 things you can do with liquid nitrogen. My favourite: “Freeze a can of shaving cream and then peel the can away from the cream. Put the can-less cream into someone's car. Let the oven-like heat from the car's sitting in the sun defrost the shaving cream. 2 cans will fill an entire car.” Also, “Freeze a banana in liquid nitrogen and use it to hammer a nail.” It's nice to read. doiop.com/LiquidN

Grid Wars
Geometry Wars is a Xbox360 only 2D game in which you fight huge swarms of colourful geometric shapes. The game is very rich in colours and it's a treat for the eyes. The game is so fun, enjoyable and popular that it's considered to be the “Killer app” for the Xbox 360. Why, you ask? Play Grid Wars to find out. Grid Wars tries to give you the fun of exclusive title in your PCs. Head over to incitti.com/Blitz/ and download it. It's only 2.5 MB for several hours of exciting gameplay. (The game's default controller is set to Gamepads. So you'll need to select Keyboard as the controller for playing it.)

Interactive Physics Simulations
Fun, interactive simulations of physical phenomena that make bridges to the real world, from the Physics Education Technology project at the University of Colorado. This is awesome. Very intuitive interface that makes building a circuit or testing oil properties the simplest thing in the world. doiop.com/FunPhysics

Eerie photos of an abandoned Japanese amusement park
Some good but quite creepy and yet beautiful pictures. Where did all the zombies go? doiop.com/EeriePark

The history of the Batmobile
Comprehensive history of the legendary Batmobile and all the changes it went through since its introduction in 1939. batmobilehistory.com

The strangest MP3 players
Think your 2000 taka brand-less MP3 player is weird? Check these out. Favourite: the MP3 Toilet. doiop.com/WeirdMP3

Download: Holding Pattern Screensaver
Holding Pattern turns your idle computer screen into an airplane window, complete with a moving aerial view. Each time the screensaver plays a unique sequence. Free 6 MB download from idle-time.org/download.html.

Bryan Berg: Cardstacker
To those of us who have ever tried to create an actual house of cards, it's obvious why the expression refers to anything that's doomed to collapse. To Bryan Berg a house of cards isn't a figure of speech but a passion. Bryan has been creating buildings from playing cards since he was eight, and he's taken the art to new heights. Using more than 1500 decks of cards and working over the course of two and a half weeks, Berg created a 250-pound free-standing tower over 25 feet tall. Without bending, gluing, folding, or taping the cards, he manages to create astounding structures of incredible complexity and stability. This self-proclaimed cardstacker could just change the meaning of that old expression. cardstacker.com

The Cloud Appreciation Society
Do you like cloud watching? The folks over at cloudappreciationsociety.org certainly do. It's a community of thousands of cloud watchers where they gather, talk about and appreciate beautiful and unusual clouds. There's a gallery of interesting user submitted photos, detailed guides for cloud watching, forum. Visit the site, and you'll probably never look at clouds in the same way again. cloudappreciationsociety.org/

That's all for this week. You will also find these links at sitesunseen.wordpress.com. Comics fans might want to check out BDcomics.net where you get to download comics. You can also check out more of my photography at Niloy.net. Comments, suggestions and the regular spam at niloy.me@gmail.com

Gokhra's pick


Review by Gokhra

"Hoodwinked"is the latest cartoon recycling of that old fairy tale "Little Red Riding Hood". It takes a spin on the old fairy tales modernizing them and I am wondering, does it lose the charm in the process?

The plot:
When the forest police are called to Granny's House, they find Red (voiced by Anne Hathaway), the Wolf (Patrick Warburton) in Granny clothing, Granny (Glenn Close) tied up in the closet and a lumbering Woodsman (James Belushi) who appears to be the hero of the moment.

But once Detective Bill Stork and Chief Grizzly, joined by Nicky Flippers, a dapper frog with a thin moustache, start asking questions, nothing is very clear. All four have their own version of events, and their testimony could possibly lead to the capture of the Goody Bandit. He is the villain in the piece who's been destroying all the sweet shops in town and stealing every snack and recipe in sight.

Who is this treat-destroying miscreant? He seems to be connected to a brash little bunny named Boingo as well as an exotic troupe of villains headed by muscleman Dolph who looks and sounds suspiciously like Schwarzenegger.

The story gets crazier as Flippers and his gang keep grilling these unusual suspects. It seems that Red is a professional goody delivery-girl, Granny is a goody-baker and secret extreme-sports devotee, Wolfie is a tabloid journalist with a popular gossip column and the Woodsman also delivers goodies, besides having some addled acting aspirations.

As the mystery is uncovered, a clash between the forces of good and evil comes about with lots of kung fu, chases and big bangs.

The movie, from the newly formed Weinstein Co. , is not so great visually. Most of the CGI animation lacks finesse. But the voice cast is perfect, the songs are catchy and the script is clever. It's a satire about everything from TV cop and news shows, to folk music, fast food commercials and what not. It has a lot of verbal wit and surprise.

It's a slightly slapdash computer-animated cartoon feature that takes the venerable "Riding Hood" and updates and reconfigures it into a police mystery such as "Law and Order" or "NYPD Blue". "Red Riding Hood" is transformed into a detective story with nutty motivations, complex characters and a screwy climax.

So is it good? It has a compelling storyline although some of the characters could have been avoided like the annoying country singing goat. The CGI animation is awesome…… for 1990. But it very good for quite a few laughs.

Galactic Civilizations II: DreadLords

Great games are always more than the sum of their feature sets, and Galactic Civilizations II is a great game. Galactic Civilizations II is a strategy game set in space in which rival races vie for control of the galaxy, via the traditional "4X" game style of exploring the universe, expanding your empire, exploiting your rivals, and exterminating your enemies. That may sound familiar, but right from the opening screens you're presented with the ability to create the gaming experience that you prefer. You can play as the humans or any of the other nine races, each bringing its own unique strengths, weaknesses, capabilities, and societal personality (trade-oriented, militaristic, evil, good, and so on). If that's not enough for you, you can create your own unique race with its own distinctive characteristics. You then select the type of galaxy in which you want to play out your space adventure.

Multiple endings
Multiple paths to victory also provide you with completely different gaming experiences. You can choose to be a benevolent ruler and eschew violence, spreading your cultural influence throughout the galaxy. Instead of invading a planet, you can let their citizens see your luxurious way of life, complete with malls and fancy restaurants, and sway them with diplomatic expertise. Or you can choose to be the evil emperor, crushing the naïve civilizations that dare resist your military might. These moral persuasions also result in different technological advances being available to your race.

Nice AI
The AI in Galactic Civilizations II differentiates it from other 4X games: It doesn't cheat, and it's very, very good at higher levels. It's also unique in that the AI doesn't treat the human player any differently than it does the other AI players. You can set the AI to a lower level to allow you to have fun while learning the game, but when you set it higher as you advance in your skills, the game doesn't respond by cheating. Instead, it employs more advanced (and devious) strategies, observing and adapting to your play. For example, at lower levels you could be trading and generally playing nice with a neighboring civilization that is rather weak militarily, while at the same time setting up military starbases and fleets of fighters in their vicinity, and the AI may continue to trust you. At higher AI levels it will recognize the signs of betrayal and take preventive or preemptive actions.

Design your ships
In addition to playing with the default ships included with the game, there's a very cool ship designer that'll let you make your own. And you don't have to use the various ships included in the game; you can design your own from scratch, using any combination of technologies that you have currently developed. There's also a large set of purely cosmetic parts you can use to create the ship of your dreams; users have posted screenshots of incredibly detailed and complex new ships that they have designed. Staying consistent with the theme of letting players play in their own way, you can successfully take the approach of designing fleets of small, fast, and pesky fighters that may be effective against larger capital ships if you choose your weapons wisely (defenses are effective only against specific weaponry). Conversely, you may prefer fighting with huge space dreadnoughts, or perhaps mixed fleets. Prudent investment in espionage can give you a crucial advantage in discovering what weapons system the enemy is building.

The verdict
There are, as in any game, some nits to pick: The technology tree could use beefier data on future techs and it would be nice to have the ability to select random races on startup.

Galactic Civilizations II is a strategy gamer's dream, boasting a rare mix of depth, customizability, humor, and replayability. Extremely customizable gameplay provides superb replayability; the best ai in strategy gaming; very cool ship designer that significantly contributes to gameplay; truly viable variable victory conditions; will keep you up all night playing "just one more turn".

Virtu Motorsport Phone

By, Ziad

A Friend told me about a phone he saw in Bashundhara City. Sure there are lots of cool phones around and they cost enough to cause a heart attack and pay for the related medical charges. But this was outrageous at 3 lakhs. Yep, five zeroes.

So what's so great about it? For starters, it's built by Vertu Ascent Motorsport which obviously deals with high tech racing. They built a very limited edition cell phone that they claim “can withstand being run over by the very F1 Porsche the design was inspired from.”

Well, that's interesting. So what's it got? It's an ultra light phone that does NOT have all the funky functions you'd expect from a higher-end phone, like Internet access, e-mail ability or a built-in camera. Hell no! Its specialty lies in the fact it is inlaid with carbon fiber, automotive leather, and the incredibly strong (and patented) Liquidmetal. What's that you say? Liquidmetal is a new tech that is said to be twice as hard as stainless steel. The initially offered the phone for $5700 with a signature version going up to a whopping $32,000. What you get with such high priced sets is a 24-hour international concierge service with the push of a single button. You want to hire the entire Sheraton ballroom at 5 minutes notice? No problem, just push a button and ask and of course pay. They manufactured 997 of these phones, each individually numbered.

What about their claim that it can be run over by a car? People at NY Times had a chance to call the bluff by driving over the expensive phone with 2800-pound Porsche Boxster. They drove over the phone not once, but five times. On the fifth trial, just as the first, the sleekly-designed black-and-silver phone emerged unscathed. Not a scratch, dent or crack. This phone should come in handy if you are the absentminded type who crosses the road while talking on the phone. After you are run over by a 5 ton shadharon poribohon truck your family can continue using the phone. Those of you who want to look at the ridiculous phone and shake you head call the buyers fools can do so at the ground floor of Bashundhara City. Right after that you can go and buy the latest video phone for 30000 taka that will be obsolete in a year.



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