Happy New Year 2010 and Reflections on 2009

Happy New Year for 2010!

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Once again it is the last day in this year's calendar year and what better way to "celebrate" than to reflect back on the year that was 2009. 2009 was a weird year in that the year started off after the financial meltdown in September 2008. Other than the excitement generated by the inauguration of President Obama in the United States in January, the year was already being written off before it even began! I'll begin by separating my thoughts of 2009 into the following categories.



Technology

Windows 7 was finally released to the public in the fall. At last people can finally retire their tired old copies of the 9 year old operating system known as Windows XP. I installed Windows 7 on my Windows Vista laptop and I was surprised how fast it installed. Because my desktop is still running Windows XP, I am still not totally familiarized with Windows 7.

This was also a year of weird computer troubles with me. I have a legacy Pentium D 2.66 GHz system from 2006 with an integrated video card because of this configuration, I cannot view any high definition video content with out significant stuttering. I thought that by buying a new video card, the Gigabyte ATI Radeon HD 4670 1 GB, I could offload the processing of the HD video to the video card. After installing it I found out about one of the design flaws of my ASUS motherboard. It turns out that it will not support the addition of an external PCI-E video card with over 2 GB of RAM without significant slow down in performance. I tried taking out one stick of RAM and installing the video card and it worked perfectly. After a week in which I flashed the BIOS of the motherboard many times in order to fix this issue, the problem only got worse and what was supposed to be a quick and easy hardware upgrade turned out to be a week long computer problem nightmare in which I wrecked my previous installation of Windows XP and had to reinstall a fresh copy.

Because I had a video card that I couldn't return I decided to get a new modern system and I ordered a Intel Core i5 system with the following parts during the Boxing Day sales in December but the parts haven't arrived yet.

Travel

This year I went to three places, Seattle, Calgary, Edmonton and London, England.

I went to Seattle in early July to see the Distant Worlds: Final Fantasy concert because I thought they would never have a live concert here in Vancouver. Little did I know that once the show started, they announced a concert in Vancouver in October! The concert was pretty good but because I had already heard most of the tracks since the first 2002 Final Fantasy concert in MP3 format, it kind of lost its "freshness" to me.

Right after the concert I drove and arrived back home at 2:00 am and had to catch a 7:00 am flight for Calgary to meet up with my family who drove up the day before in a rented GMC Acadia SUV (while I was at the concert). The purpose of going to Alberta was to visit my mom's 90 year old aunt. Also it gave me a chance to see the "real Canada".

In Calgary I was surprised to see how suburban the city was. It almost looked like a Canadian version of a city in Texas because of it's wide highways, large houses and flat landscape. It also surprised me to see how many Canadian Tire, Tim Hortons and McDonalds strip malls there were in Calgary.

After a couple days in Calgary, we drove up to Edmonton and spent one day there. I had not been to the West Edmonton Mall since I was around 7 or 8 years old and I was disappointed to see how run-down and how poorly maintained the mall was. Other than the mall, there wasn't really anything to see in Edmonton and the whole city looked really depressing to me. While Calgary looked really green, Edmonton just looked really grey and monotone. It also didn't help that large parts of the city looked really unkept and depopulated.

In November, because of Remembrance Day following in the middle of the week on a Wednesday, I decided to go with my mom to London, England for that week. It was the first time that I had been to Europe. In addition to London, we went to Windsor and Cambridge. Because of been educated in Canada, tt was so interested in see in real life the things you only read about in your history books. In addition, by just visiting the tourist attractions in England, I felt like I was getting a real-time history lessons on the different periods of English history.

Gaming

This year I made a number of video game purchases. For the PlayStation 3, I bought Street Fighter 4, Uncharted 2 and Assasin's Creed 2. For the Nintendo DS, I bought Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story. For the Nintendo Wii, I bought WiiSportsResort, and New Super Mario Bros. Wii.

I didn't really play much of Street Figher 4 and I managed to finish Uncharted 2, and New Super Mario Bros. Wii.

Despite all the outstanding reviews of Uncharted 2, I didn't really find it to be outstanding. It was a good game but it wasn't great. While the graphics were very good, the platforming gameplay just wasn't very good. I also found the last boss to be very disappointing and annoying to beat because of the limitations of the controls and game design.

I really enjoyed New Super Mario Bros. Wii as it brought back a lot of nostalgia from my childhood of playing the Mario games. The diffculty level was much much higher than that of the Nintendo DS game of the similar name. The only thing which prevented this game from topping Super Mario World as the best 2D Mario game is that the art style and music was very generic and the overworld maps were not that interesting. A lot fo the maps and levels were very similar to the DS game.

The most disappointing game that I played in 2009 was Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story. This is the 3rd game in the Mario & Luigi series that was started way back in 2003 on the Game Boy Advance. While the first Mario & Luigi game was a great game and in my opinion one of the best games on the Game Boy Advance, this game started out fun but quickly went downhill after that. There was no real plot in this game and all the events just seem to be strung together by annoying fetch quests and mandatory stylus/touch based mini-games. Also it didn't help that the battles were really unbalanced in that you could die and get a game over in a normal regular battle if your button reflexes aren't any good and you miss dodging the enemy attacks. I am still debating whether I should sell or keep this game.

Vancouver

A major milestone happened in the city of Vancouver in that the Canada Line rapid transit line finally opened after 4 years of construction and almost 2-3 years of debates.

The Richmond Olympic Oval and the over-budget Olympic Village was completed and the city is gearing up to host the Winter Olympics in 2010.

Let's hope for a peaceful and prosperous 2010 in which Canada takes back the gold in Olympic hockey!

2 comments:

pyauki said...

Happy New Year 2010!

Great post on the reflections of 2009, I should've done that instead of a drawing...

I've been one of the unfortunate people who lost their job in mid 2008 and couldn't find one until early 2009. I can't believe it's been a year already...

I'm kinda glad Windows 7 has finally come as I've tried my hand at Vista, and I really don't like it after using XP for so long. I am still using XP and I don't think I'll change to Win7 until my , knock on wood, machine breaks. I definitely know your pain of computer problems as you already know. It sucks...

Though you've already bought your i5 system, CES 2010 is coming soon and I hear Intel has a lot to announce!

It's great you get to travel so much. The Seattle Concert was a spectacular trip, though the drive back was quite tiring. I still don't know how you managed to get to the flight with so little sleep. I'll have to take a trip to Europe eventually to take a look at all the museums. Do you have any plans to go to china next year for the Expo? I hear it's going to be awesome.

I think 2009 was a great year for gaming, but after what you said about Uncharted 2, I really held back on purchasing it. I had an extreme amount of fun with Assassin's Creed 2 compared to the first game which I had fun with as well. After working in the industry it has made me play less and less games. I haven't played any of the new Mario games at all.

All I can say is finally for the Canada Line. It really makes commuting to Richmond much easier now as well as some new routes to get home from downtown. I just can't wait for the faregates to get installed. Starting the 3 year countdown now. Let's hope the Olympics will do Vancouver good.

To 2010, hope it's gonna be a better year than the last!

UTA said...

I also forgot to mention that Punch Out for Wii was also one of the games that I bought in 2009. Maybe it was because of my low opinion of the Wii console that I forgot that I had bought it at all!

However Punch Out was a pretty fun game, but it got hard in the Title Defense mode after you beat the game the first time and I haven't continued since.

I definitely want to visit the motherland's capital "Peking" and also Shanghai because of the 2010 Expo and to see the Olympics buildings. The question is when...