Of the Year

It’s the time of year to do “best of the year” or “most of the year” or “worst of the year” lists. I couldn’t focus on any one theme, so after spending some time in a food-induced coma, I came up with the following hodge podge of “of the year” topics.

Sports Gaming Console of the Year

The Sony PSP. Between Madden ‘07 and MLB 06: The Show, I’ve logged dozens of hours playing sports on this shiny black wonder. Both games play at least as well as their PS2 counterparts and neither is particularly stripped down. Madden in particular is better in every way when compared to the same game on the 360. The only real negatives are the load times in each game, but the instant-sleep more than compensates for this.

Moron Launch of the Year

There is a tie in this category. First, Sony gets the nod with the PS3. The only people who appeared to care about the PS3 launch were the Ebay scalpers. High price, a launch lineup that made the 360 look rich and the whole “looks- even-more-like-ass” emulation snafu didn’t help matters. The result is that in stores everywhere, people are stampeding past in-stock PS3’s to look at the empty Wii shelf.

Tied with Sony is Microsoft, with the Zune. The Zune is a cunning combination of an integrated user experience that barely works and completely screws all of the third parties that Microsoft signed on to their “open” DRM system. Way to go.

Unexpected Ass-kicking of the Year

Nintendo Wii. I still don’t have one. Everyone I know wants one.

Most Infuriating Of the Year List

The normally excellent NPR interview program Fresh Air ran a list of “Cultural Defining Moments” the other week. In addition to having a title of questionable grammatical correctness, the program appeared to define “cultural” as “anyone famous being an asshole”. Topping the list were Borat, Mel Gibson, Michael Richards, George Allen, the cartoons involving the Prophet Mohammed, and Stephen Colbert pissing off the uptight journalists at that special dinner they give to themselves.

What strikes me about this list the paltry amount of cultural content that it contains. Colbert and Borat are nearly sophisticated satire, but the rest of the list contains nothing that indicates the use of higher level brain function. To me, it seems to be more of a list of wet dreams for the people in the media who cover the media. It gives them a lot to talk to themselves about, while we look on and wonder why in the world anyone would care.

Left-Center Hard-on of the Year

NPR actually allowed the term Obamamania into the national news cast and then allowed their senior political reporters to go to NH an drool all over the annoited one and behold his supernatural glow. I feel sort of sorry for Obama, because he has obviously been annoited too soon, which means that at some point between now and 2008 he will become the new Howard Dean, and flame himself out in spectactular fashion.

Dork Nation Event of the Year

NPR has now run no less than three full length stories populated by people hanging around in Second Life. God what a bunch of geeks.

Game that Generated the Most Comments of the Year

This one is easy. No game generated more text on this site than Oblivion. I count eight or nine actual articles about the game. And, who can forget this classic collection of comments where we met an obscure yet brilliant Computer Science researcher.

Accidental Food Product of the Year

Karen made chocolate truffles. She forgot the egg yolks because she was having a busy day, full of distractions. As a result, the truffles taste like butter infused with dark chocolate. Or dark chocolate infused with butter. I can’t decide. Still, it’s a truly unique food sensation.

Next-Gen Raspberry of the Year

Ubisoft gets this one because the best way to play the new Splinter Cell game on an Xbox 360 is to buy the version for the Xbox and play that under emulation. The graphics are a bit worse, but you get actual co-op missions, much faster load times, a camera that is backed off a bit so I can see my feet, dialog with subtitles, and more depth in the game’s narrative. It’s sad that creating all those high resolution textures for the 360 game ate up so much schedule that they couldn’t actually, ya know, finish the game.

Most Tortured Camera Launch of the Year

The Leica M8. Following on the heels of the ten pound digital back that they produced for their already five pount behemoth SLR, the R8, Leica finally answered the prayers of small-handed photographers everywhere by producing a digital body with the form and mechanics of their M series rangefinders. By all accounts, this should be the perfect digital camera for the guy who does not want to carry a bazooka-shaped professional SLR. Of course, this being Leica, they outsourced the sensor development to that other old world photographic power, Kodak. And, together, they botched it. Because of insuffciently aggressive IR filtering, the camera has color balance problems, especially in the dark tones.

In a fabulous twist of irony, the proposed fix for this problem is for Leica to give you a cheap IR filter to put on each of your lenses. You know, the ones with the glass of magical and mythic status. To get correct color, you have to put a cheap filter on your $4000 lens. Leica truly knows how to torture its faithful cult members.