Sunday, 9 September 2012

30 day video game challenge - Day 9

Saddest game scene

The saddest scene was Modern Warfare 2's level Loose ends. It was at the end after Ghost and Roach survived a vicious battle to defend Makarov's safehouse while waiting for the DSM to download all of Makarov's files. Upon extraction, General Shepherd's forces arrive and after shooting the two, grabbed the DSM. Shepherd then burnt the bodies while Price from Afghanistan warned the two about the betrayal but it was too late. Shepherd wanted to betray the Task Force 141 so he could take all the credit and become a war hero after crushing Makarov and Russia. He did this after losing 30,000 marines from Modern Warfare 1 and the world just watched.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

30 day video game challenge - Day 8

Best soundtrack

Not only were Modern Warfare 2's graphics were a huge leap from Modern Warfare 1, but the decision to hire Hans Zimmer to make the soundtrack made it the best epic video game soundtrack of all time. What made Hans Zimmer accepting the offer was the graphics being amazingly advanced, in other words, the I.W 4.0 engine was probably one of the best engines that existed during 2009 and 2010. Using an orchestra, the music blends in with the gameplay which makes great epicness.

Friday, 7 September 2012

30 day video game challenge - Day 7

A game I wish could have lasted a bit longer

Homefront does have a good storyline written by John Milius who also wrote Red Dawn and Apocalypse Now. Many reviewers complained that the single player campaign was too short (about 4 to 5 hours) and the epicness is short lived as repeating the single player is not at all interesting.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

30 day video game challenge - Day 6

Most annoying character

Flynn is a character who is barely serious during war times, loves humour, smoking and fancy music while flying through some of the world's most dangerous places. It's ironic how he is a pacifist and yet he helped transport Bad Company all the way. He lost his pacifism after being captured and tortured. After rescue, he saved Marlowe, ordered Bad Company to provide supressing fire on the enemy and saved Bad Company from enemies before being shot down and killed. At first Bad Company did not like him but after he was captured, they regarded him as a friend after everything he did and would not leave anyone behind until Flynn was rescued.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

30 day video game challenge - Day 5

Game character I feel I'm most like

Nikolai, a character who always help save the day by rescueing Price and Soap from the boneyard, providing intel about Makarov, assisting Soap's medical attention and providing extraction after operations. Not only he is a big helper but he is like a flying taxi saving lives and providing important intel.
In Modern Warfare 1, he had been an informant for the SAS until his cover was blown and was later rescued by Captain Price's squad. He later sent the exact location of Al-Asad's safehouse. In Modern Warfare 2, he rescued Task Force 141 from Brazil using a Pave Low, rescued Price and Soap from the Afghan boneyard using a C-130 and rescued them both again using a Little Bird after General Shepherd was killed. His ability to fly multiple vehicles is highly excelling. Modern Warfare 3 saw Nikolai providing assisstance to Soap wounded in action. He later provided air support in a Mi-24 during an operation in Somalia and provided important intel while helping Price and Yuri catching Makarov at a hotel.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

30 day video game challenge - Day 4

A guilty pleasure game

A game where I can do a variety of crimes and bad stuff. The series probably created alot of controversy as it encouraged young people to commit crimes and left victims filing a lawsuit against the developers.

Monday, 3 September 2012

30 day video game challenge - Day 3

A game that is underratted

The first Black Ops game ran on a disappointing IW 3.0 engine inferior than it's predecessor Modern Warfare 2's IW 4.0 engine. Black Ops 2 however during E3 2012 had surprisingly revealed many changes like it's graphic improvement and single player and multiplayer epicness.What makes the Black Ops series more than ordinary is the zombie modes and wager matches like one in the chamber, gun game, etc. Black Ops 2 setting will be the first in the Call of Duty franchise to be set in the distant future.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

30 day video game challenge - Day 1

Very first video game

Rise of Nations

Developed by Big Huge games, it is a real time strategy game where you control empires from the ancient age to the information age. There are a variety of nations to play as like Chinese, Americans, British, Bantu, etc. Building your own economy and military, you can make alliances, peace and war with others and you can also set difficulties like easiest mode where opponents go easy on you or toughest where opponents will do everything they can to destroy you. Apart from single matches, there are also conquer the world campaigns with simulated campaigns like the Napoleon, Alexander the Great and Cold War. There are even multiplayer matches where you can play with people around the world.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Munich 1972 massacre

Fourty years ago, Munich hosted the 1972 Olympic games. The games was well known for Mark Spitz (USA) winning 7 gold medals in swimming and his record was only surpassed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics with Michael Phelps (USA) winning 8 gold medals.

On the morning of 5 September, after 4am, eight Black September terrorists armed with AK rifles, stormed the Olympic village. The leader of the group, Luttif Afif (nicknamed Issa) and his assisstant were workers during the construction of the Olympic venues which he was able to know the exact location of the Israeli Olympic team. During the storm in, an Israeli wrestling referee saw a door open with a barell of an AK poking through. He threw his entire weight on the door shouting a warning which allowed a few Israeli athletes to escape through the windows. The terrorists managed to break in and took 9 Israeli athletes hostage while killing 2 others in the process. One of the dead athletes' body was dumped outside which was discovered by a German police officer who raised the alarm.

When the tense standoff began, the terrorists threw 2 sheets of paper out the window demanding the release of 234 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons with all their names printed on the sheet. They demanded the release to be made by 9am but the German authorities needed more time as the Israeli government was still discussing on the situation so the terrorists extended the deadline till 12pm noon. The Israeli government then told the Germans that they refused to negotiate with the terrorists and the only way to resolve this situation was the use of force. During negotiations, the terrorists covered their identity meaning that they had planned to remain alive. If they had intentions of death or suicide, then there was no point of covering their identity. After 12pm noon, the terrorists did not open fire at the hostages. An Olympic official was sent into the Olympic village to check on the condition of the hostages and at the same time, count the number of terrorists inside. The official counted 5 terrorists. The German police were about to conduct a raid when their preparations were filmed live. The police failed to clear the area and the media crowded the outside of the Olympic village and many could have been killed if the terrorist opened fire on the crowd with the AK's deadly 7.62mm rounds. The terrorists watched the preparations live on TV and demanded the police to retreat or they will execute the hostages. The police retreated. Another problem was that the ones conducting the raid were just ordinary street cops. During the preparations, the officers (disguised in sports clothing) did not use every bit of cover and did not hold their weapons properly for the whole time like they've never used it before. The police did not note what weapons were used by the terrorists. The terrorists used AK rifles which takes a second or more to switch the safety switch. By having this in mind, the extra second or two could allow precious time for expert marksmen to be able take advantage over.  

The terrorists then demanded to be transported (along with the hostages) to an airport where they will board a Boeing 727 on a flight to Egypt (a safe haven at the time for terrorists fighting against Israel). Both the terrorists and hostages moved to a bus where they were transported to a nearby field where 2 UH-1 helicopters took them to a military airbase. During the bus ride, the German police clearly saw that there were eight terrorists not five but nothing was being done to change what planned next. At F├╝rstenfeldbruck Air Base, the plan was to kill Issa and his assistant while they inspected the plane and the five snipers eliminate the other terrorists while the helicopters landed facing sideways.

At the airbase, the Germans involved in the raid were just ordinary street cops. The police officers chose to abandon their plan to overpower Issa at the plane as the fear of Issa or his assistant dropping a grenade by the wing section will blow up the entire plane killing everyone on board. This leaves the five snipers to deal with the situation. Sniper one was behind a sandpit, sniper two was behind a truck while the last three snipers were at the control tower. The snipers too were ordinary street cops that were not even trained as snipers and did not have helmets, body armor, night vision and scopes. They ended up relying on the floodlights attached on the tower. Equiped with G3 rifles, they were capable of being sniper rifles (carrying the 7.62mm round) as long as they have a long barell (for accuracy) and scope. The reason for street cops being completely involved was because West Germany did not allow the military to be involved in civilian crisis during peacetime.

During the landing, the helicopters landed facing directly the control tower. Issa and his assistant inspected the plane and upon inspecting, they rushed out thinking it's a trap. As the two ran back, sniper two open fired hitting his assistant in the thigh. A gun battle raged on(the pilots escaped) with the helicopters facing the tower, snipers one and two were in the line of fire of the last three snipers. In this case, the three snipers on the tower were left to deal with the eight terrorists. During the battle, the terrorists opened fire killing all the hostages inside on helicopter and threw a grenade into another helicopter killing all hostages inside that helicopter. Five terrorists were killed along with a German police officer on the tower. The remaining three were captured alive by the Germans. A Lufthansa airliner was later hijacked demanding the last three terrorists to be released. The Germans quickly released the three.

The rescue that turned into a disaster later saw the creation of the GSG9, which was Germany's counter terrorism unit. Israel responded by launching Operation Wrath of God to find those responsible.

After the Munich Olympics, nations hosting the games had intense security with huge investments being made. Security forces had been showing off in front of the world media before the Olympics as seen in Athens, Beijing and London as a sign that they are ready for any terror attacks.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

If oil suddenly disappeared

As you see on the news about rising oil prices and the prediction of oil running out, imagine what will happen to the world if oil SUDDENLY vanished?

First, there is going to be widespread panic with people rushing to petrol stations to fill up their cars before stations run out of petrol.

Then there is a potential famine among the entire world. Trucks are needed to transport food to supermarkets and without fuel, trucks can't run and therefore, millions of people would rush to supermarkets to buy as much as they can before stocks run out. People will end up being independent by growing their own crops and the diet of many countries will rapidly change. Without fuel for transports, providing aid for countries in poverty or disaster becomes impossible and millions more will die from starvation or lack of medical supplies.

Streets will be filled with trash as dumptrucks will be unable to do it's job.

International trade would stop as there is no fuel to run ships. Overseas travel would not happen with planes unable to fly while the once busy congested highways become empty. War might not even be possible without fuel running machines likes fighter jets or tanks. As container ships might not be able to run without oil, the US might use it's navy aircraft carriers as an alternative as they have unlimited range with nuclear generators not needing to refuel for over 20 years. The supercarriers might be used for transporting vital emergency supplies around the world.

With supermarkets, refinaries, petrol stations, running out of stock and transport companies not able to run, millions would be made redundant. China would be worse hit as millions of people work in factories producing goods worldwide and without fuel for transportation, millions go out of work. Many countries would be devastated by the sudden disappearance as the current generation relies too heavily on oil. In this situation, governments around the world would face a very difficult and frustrating challenge.

There are some countries like the United States that have reserve oil supplies. These supplies would be used wisely only on fire trucks and trucks carrying emergency supplies.

Without fuel, transportation of coal to power stations becomes impossible and therefore will cause widespread blackouts. Without power, hospitals would run on generators that would only last so long while there are big concerns about people who rely on electricity to stay alive i.e- using life support machines. Without power, surviving winter becomes a major issue. People living in northern Europe and Canada maybe forced to migrate down south or risk being frozen.

Without oil, the production of plastic is put to a stop. This could mean that hospitals may end up reusing plastic gloves.

However, the focus of biofuel development increases. This allows trucks to run on the streets again delivering supplies. Plastic products are manufactured again using biofuel so hospitals are able to get gloves and other important supplies. Other forms of electricity like wind and solar power are being used. At this situation, the world would be able to get back on it's feet after decades of huge losses in lives, products, jobs and transportation.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

F-22 Raptor

The F-22 Raptor developed by Lockheed Martin and Boeing is probably one of the best if not, the best fighter jet in the Western World. This American jet has stealth shaping that reflects radar waves else where and radar absorbing material which makes it a truely stealthy. A pair of F119 engines has supercruise capability. Supercruise is the ability to fly at supersonic speeds without the use of full afterburners, making it harder for heat seeking missiles to detect the F-22. The F-22's afterburners have enclosed nozzles which also gives out less heat and increase survivability from heat seeking missiles. The plane's size is big at 18.56 metres in length and it has the capability carrying alot of fuel and weapons, meaning more range and bigger firepower. It can carry 6 Aim-120 AMRAAM and 2 Aim-9 Sidewinders in a air to air stealth configuration. It's air to ground configuration enables the fighter the carry either the JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) or SDB (Small Diameter Bomb). The Raptor has a M61 Vulcan placed internally. It is also equiped with advanced avionics and the APG-77 AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar. Previous radars have to mechanically move to scan a particular target or area but AESA radar can simultaneously scan all areas in front of the plane and can also distinguish both land and air targets (eg - tanks, bombers, etc). AESA radar can also jam enemy SAM radars and incoming enemy radar guided missiles. It also has thrust vectoring capability which can make the Raptor conduct supermaneuverability and the Cobra maneuver. The F-22 show it's superiority when it scored 144 kills to no losses in an air combat exercise a few years ago. The fighter is intended to replace the F-15 Eagle. The United States Air Force currently operates 187 F-22s.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Falklands War

This year is the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War. It was fought between Argentina and Britain over at the Falkland Islands in 1982. The Argentinians wanted the Falklands back which they call Malvinas. The Argentinians ruled the Falklands before the British took over and ruled the Falklands for 149 years before the invasion and were thinking of handing it back like Hong Kong. Unfortunately, the people of Falklands wished to remain with British identity and this made the handover almost impossible.

In 1982, Argentina was ruled by a military government and was having an economic crisis at the time. The military government wanted to gain the support of the entire nation by fulfilling the nation's long wish of taking back the Falklands. When the Falkland Islands was invaded, the battle was quick despite strong British resistance.

Britain, ruled by Margaret Thatcher was also in an economic crisis with unemployment going up along with union strikes and riots. If Thatcher was to succeed in retaking the Falkland Islands, she would prove to be an effective leader. Diplomatic talks were going nowhere so the only option left was to send the British forces to retake the Falklands. The warzone is over 8000 miles from Britain so aircraft carriers like the HMS Invincible and the HMS Hermes played a vital role in providing air support. Ascension Island was the nearest British airbase to the Falklands located near the equator. Vulcan bombers were used from Ascension Island to conduct bombing raids but had to refuel several times just to get to the Falklands and to get back.

One famous moment of the war was when a Royal Navy submarine HMS Conqueror sunk an Argentine cruiser ARA General Belgrano. The HMS Conqueror was secretly following the ARA General Belgrano in the south of the Falklands Islands. The Argentine cruiser was heading to the Islands through shallow waters which the HMS Conqueror was able to sail through. Instead of letting it go, the HMS Conqueror fired three torpedos and sank the Belgrano within 45 minutes. 323 sailors were killed. After this, the Argentine Navy stayed in port for the rest of the war.

Another famous moment of the war was when the HMS Sheffield was sunk by an Exocet missile fired by an Argentine Super ├ëtendard. 20 British sailors were killed and the onboard went out of control. The Sheffield was using it's satellite equipment to contact Britain which blocked the radar signal. The exocets flying at 700mph, hit the Sheffield. It was the first ship to be destroyed by enemy fire since World War Two.

The Falklands War was also well known for it's air war. The Royal Navy aircraft carriers were equipped with Sea Harriers. The Sea Harriers scored 20 air to air kills with no losses but suffered two losses from Argentine ground fire. Equipped with American Aim-9 Sidewinders, these heat seeking missiles shot down Argentine A-4 Skyhawks and Mirage IIIs. The Argentine airforce relied on airbases on the mainland as the airstrip at Port Stanley was too small. The lack of air to air refuelling was one reason why the Argentine fighters were not effective enough due to limited range.

There was an rare irony occuring that both sides used FN FAL rifles in combat. A rifle from Belgium using the 7.62mm round that is great on semi-automatic but because of it's recoil, becomes unsuitable when firing at automatic mode. The rifle has been used by many countries around the world during the 20th century. 

The British eventually took back the Falklands despite heavy resistance from Argentine troops and fighter jets. With the Argentine forces surrendering, Margaret Thatcher won her next election while the Argentine military government resigning due to mounting public opposition.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Conscription Army vs Volunteer Army

Conscription is the when people at a specified age are forced to do national service by doing basic army training. Some countries conscript everyone, other countries have "lottery" conscription (random name drawn from a hat) and others have selective conscription (officers visiting districts and pick the ones they think are best for the army).

Then there is the volunteer army which is of course people joining the army at thier own will without the need of force.

So which is better? Conscription or volunteer?

People say that by having conscription, it would discipline and improve the confidence of the future generation. It is also one reason to prepare the country for any potential threat/war. In Israel, people serve two years in conscription and if you don't wish to serve in the army, you'll be put in the reserves and continue your normal life. If Israel is to be attacked, the nation can mobilise 250,000 troops in 24 to 48 hours. Countries like Israel, South Korea and Taiwan have conscription to prepare for their uncertain future. Singapore has conscription to not only protect their tiny island (half the size of Los Angeles) but to also fight racism and unite their multi-cultural nation. The United States once had conscription during the Vietnam War and chances were, conscripts were often deployed to Vietnam. To avoid conscription, there were three ways - study full time at University, join the National Guard or escape to Canada.

Conscription does not always guarantee victory. Everyone is different/has different views so a conscript army will have a variety of personnel. This will easily effect the morale on the battlefield. For example, if over half of a platoon were conscripts who were forced to join against their will and are forced to fight in a raging battle, the chances of winning will not stack up. During the Falklands war, the Argentine army used conscripts to fight and many of them were so terrified from the vicious firefights that they ended up sleeping under the rocks until the British forces declared victory. During the Gulf War, many of Saddam's forces were conscripts and after facing the fierce firepower from US tanks, they quickly surrendered.

By having a volunteer army, you'll able to focus and provide more time and resources on the small number which they will easily turn into an elite fighting force with motivation. Barack Obama's decrease in military spending is hoping that the US military will become a smaller but more "flexible force". Big investments in higher quality equipment/weapons and an offer of higher wages can easily attract many young people to join the military like the US or UK.

So what is better? Having one million average trained conscripts or having a few thousand elite, motivated and powerful soldiers? You be the judge.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Low wages

The statistics had shown that the world today has over one billion people are living in poverty, in other words = hungry.

What is one solution from being poor? Get a job?

Getting a job is the most popular reason and solution from being poor but is it really? There are millions of people working and living on less than $1 USD a day. People in poor countries work in sweatshops for companies like Nike that produce all the world's sports gear and workers are paid less than a dollar a day while the company gains the big money. Why does this happen? Why is there an Occupy movement?

During hard times like the recession, it can be hard for a company to keep their factories in the West because of the expensive costs like safety regulations, high quality conditions and average to high wages for workers. So during hard economic times and especially when companies try to viciously compete against each other, if factories remain in the West, companies go bankrupt. Companies have been doing any means necessary to stay in competition even if it mean shifting factories to poor countries and leaving the Western workers redundant.

When companies compete against each other, it's not always one vs one. Some companies compete against more than one. For example

- Apple vs Microsoft (Computers)

- Apple vs Phone companies like Nokia, Motorola (Touch phones and tablets trying to take down the iPhone and iPad)

- Microsoft vs Sony (Console wars - Xbox 360 vs Playstation 3)

- Nike vs Puma vs Adidas, etc (Sports gear)

A Chinese film "China Blue" had shown a sweatshop in action producing jeans while workers got paid less.

One good example of a sweatshop in China is Foxconn. It is a large company having over 150,000 workers like it's a city but is well known in oppressing it's workers. It lied to it's recruits by telling them they will get paid over 1000 RMB a month. Turns out the workers get paid 31 cents (US) per hour while working for 35 hours straight unlike an American electronic worker that earns $23 an hour. There had been reports of workers as young as twelve working in the factory. Anyone trying to form a union in Foxconn is arrested.

Foxconn produces iPhones, iPads, iPods, Playstation 3s and Xbox 360s. A Foxconn worker would have produced a product (eg - microchip for a mobile phone or iPad casings) 2500 times in a 35 hour shift. Completely boring producing the same thing for 35 hours straight. Most workers that do their bit have never seen the final product that is produced. For example - a female worker cuts the Apple shape through the iPad casing and only saw the final product for the first time when an ABC reporter showed it to her.

To keep the workload going in Foxconn, the workers live in Foxconn facilities. Workers sleep in bumks with eight other strangers and eat in a huge canteen. The conditions are a little better than other Asian sweatshops where workers live and eat in horrible conditions. Workers are allowed to go on leave to see their familes once ever two or three months.

Foxconn is well known for it's suicide rates. Because of it's low wages, poor conditions and long hours, eighteen workers jumped off from a high building. There had also been threats of "mass suicides". Foxconn ended up having suicide nets, rooftop watchmen and contracts agreeing to not commit suicide. These suicide rates attracted the world media by storm with all fingers pointing at Apple as they already have more money than the US while Foxconn workers get paid only a few pennies. In other words, your iPhone, iPad or Xbox 360 is from a factory with horrible oppression towards it's workers. Also a similar situation when you buy Nike products too.