I Bought a Game I Returned

For those of you not living in Australia, June is the time of the year when shops offer huge discounts in order to clear their stock before the end of the financial year. So, I thought it’s a good time as any to buy a game for playing on my new laptop.

After much thinking and research, I decided on getting the popular role-playing game called The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. I wanted to get it for the Xbox 360 back when I was still considering that console some time ago. Now that I have a more powerful PC, I can just get the PC game version instead.

I looked at EB Games’ website to find out how much the one year-old game was selling for. Recommended retail price was about $50. But because of the sale going on at EB, the title was selling for only half the price! It was an offer I couldn’t let pass.

The problem was that I couldn’t find a copy of Oblivion in any of the EB Games shops I went to. The employees told me that it was sold out. It was that popular a game, apparently.

I really wanted the game so, yesterday, I went to the next best shop for cheap electronic games (in my opinion, at least): JB Hi-fi. The first JB shop also had Oblivion sold out. Later that day, I tried another JB branch in the city. At last, it was in stock. However, it was selling for $48.

After thinking about it for a couple of minutes, I decided to but the game despite its more expensive price tag, as compared to EB’s. I did try to haggle the price saying EB was selling the same game for only half the price. They did their research though as the JB employees told me that EB has sold out all its copies of Oblivion. I ended up paying the original price.

It didn’t bother me much because I thought $48 for Oblivion was still a bargain. That was, until Raquel told me that JB’s latest catalogue listed Oblivion for the PC as only $34! I felt robbed. I wanted to get back the $14 difference.

After thinking about how I’m going to get the difference back, I returned to the shop a couple of hours later. I told the cashier I wanted to return the unopened PC game (PC games are generally non-returnable items) because my friend who I was planning to give the game to already has it. They said that was OK and took back the game. I won’t get a cash refund though. Instead, I’ll be getting a gift card with the amount of the returned Oblivion game.

Of course, I really wanted the game. So, while the cashier was processing the refund, I asked, how come their catalogue listed Oblivion as only costing $34 and yet the sticker price was $48. She said that it was probably an error in the label. So, I said, “instead of returning the game, can I just get the price difference?”

She said that she couldn’t just give me the difference. Fine. I allowed her to proceed with the full refund of the game. After a minute, I got the gift card worth $48. I asked her if I could immediately use the gift card. She said I could but the credit may not yet register in their system if I use the card in a different branch. That’s fine with me.

I went and looked around the shop for about a minute and then returned to the cashier with the same box of Oblivion I returned just a few minutes earlier. I said, “on second thought, I’d like the game for myself. And since you’re catalogue has this game listed for $34 only, can I get it for that price?” She deducted the $34 from my new gift card and gave me a totally new card with the remaining $14 in it.

In the end, I got the price difference and it might have saved JB one plastic gift card if they’ve just given me the price difference when I asked for it the first time.

Published in: on June 21, 2007 at 11:49 am  Leave a Comment  

Gun Shooting in Melbourne

It was a quarter past nine in the morning when we arrived at Flinders street station this morning for work. Something was different today. There seemed to be less bustle and hustle in the city this morning. There was also the sound of helicopters nearby as we made our way to the office along Flinders Lane.

When I got in, my officemate joked, “be sure to hide your gun under the desk, mate.” I didn’t get it so I just smiled back. Another officemate soon arrived and he talked about the cordoned-off streets nearby and the choppers.

I was curious now so I asked about the copters. They then told me that there was a gun shooting incident two blocks from our office around an hour before. Three got shot with one fatality and the gunman was still at large! I couldn’t believe it. A shooting so close to work. We could’ve even passed by the shooter on the street and we wouldn’t know it. Even more incredible was that the supposed gun used at the shooting was later recovered in a building site a block from our office.

As I’m writing this, the police apparently has a good idea on who did the shooting and is now hunting him down. For more details on the story, you can read The Age article titled One dead, gunman at large after city shooting.

Published in: on June 18, 2007 at 8:40 pm  Comments (4)  

Good Riddance to Vista

I recently acquired a Dell XPS M1210 notebook care of my company’s salary packaging policy. Since it was a Dell machine, I got to choose which components and software that goes with it.

This time around, I decided to go for a smaller 12″ notebook. My older laptop has a 17″ screen and weighs over 2kg. Sure the older laptop was a better desktop PC replacement but it was too heavy and too big to bring along with me on a frequent basis. What good is having a laptop if I’m just going to be using it mostly at home? I don’t notice the small screen size on the notebook at all. It actually has a crisper and more vibrant display than the older laptop.

The machine I got has a 2.16GHz Core 2 Duo processor (or should I say processors?), 2GB SDRAM, 120GB hard disk and a 256MB NVIDIA GeForce Go 7400 graphics card. It should be enough to run Microsoft’s latest operating system: Windows Vista.

With the new OS out, nearly all computer manufacturers are selling PCs that come with Windows Vista only. Thankfully, Dell still offers their PCs to come with the venerable but reliable Windows XP. However, I didn’t take advantage of this. After reading all the hype about Windows Vista and what its advantages are, I decided to take the plunge into Vista. And boy, did I regret it!

The new Aero graphical user interface on Vista definitely looked slick and cool but I thought it was too different from what I was already accustomed to with XP. In the end, it slowed me down a lot during the first few days of my using Vista. I have no problem if it was just a different interface but there were things I just couldn’t do in Vista.

That was the least of my problems with Vista though. My main issue with it was its poor backward compatibility. I have been using PCs for a long time now and I have accumulated software that I’d like to continue using. And with Vista, I couldn’t use most of it. I even tried. I couldn’t even get Outlook 2000 to get my email. It seems like the only way to solve my software problems are to buy brand new software that would replace my old ones. No way am I going to spend more money.

I lost a lot of time looking for new freeware that would be compatible with Vista to replace the ones I have that won’t work on the new OS. I wasted a lot of time configuring Vista. Basically, I just wasted a lot of time and all I wanted to do is start using my new notebook.

In the end, I dumped Vista and reinstalled Windows XP instead. Reinstalling the OS itself was easy. I encountered another problem after the installation though. The device drivers and software that came with the notebook were all designed to work on Vista, not XP. That meant that I had to download all the drivers and software from Dell’s website first. And now that I have XP installed, I can’t get the bluetooth and the USB TV Tuner that came with the notebook to work at all.

I’m sure I’ll figure out how to make those two modules to work eventually. Right now, I’m very happy to be using Windows XP again. Maybe someday in the future, I’ll install Vista on my notebook again. For now, good riddance.

Published in: on June 13, 2007 at 12:30 pm  Comments (4)  

We Have Hamthology!

I wrote about a little comics project I’m part of called Hamthology a while back. Our complimentary copy of the published graphic anthology was sent to us at around that time. I was even afraid that it might get damaged when it got here to Australia as the postman might try to squeeze the package into our tiny mailbox.

Two weeks later, we got good news and bad news. We got a slip in the mailbox informing us of a package waiting for us at the post office. That’s good news because it meant that our books were still hopefully intact. The bad news was that the post office opens its doors to customers only at hours when we are usually at the office. One way to claim the books was to wait for the post office to open and be late for work. Either that or call in sick. I chose to do the former.

The books came in a thick carton box designed to fit the two books exactly. It was sealed with a lot of tape, too, for added security. Since I was in a rush to drive to the office, I never had the time to open the box.

It wasn’t until Raquel and I got back home in the evening were we able to finally open the box and admire the books we long waited for. I was so happy to see it. It was actually pretty good for our (as in we and our friends at Ponju) first independently published book.

With a modest price tag of US$10, we earnestly hope that it will sell at anime and comics conventions in the US as well as through the online store at Lulu.com. Sell enough books and we’ll be able to get back some of the money we’ve invested in creating it. Or at least have the profits from the first book go towards the publication of the second book which we are already planning for.

PS. To our Pinoy friends: Happy Independence Day!

Published in: on June 12, 2007 at 12:47 am  Comments (2)  

Three misses: Japanese eats 2

In our quest to find the best Japanese restaurants and take-away shops around Melbourne, we were bound to have a few hits and some misses. The following were some of the places we’ve been to in the past couple of weeks that didn’t exactly meet our expectations.

First up is Iseya at Crown Casino’s food court. We didn’t specifically seek this place out but since we found ourselves at the vicinity during lunch hour last week, we decided to give this place a try. Aside from the croquette (korokke) from the bain-marie, we ordered the Beef Teriyakidon and Chicken Oyakodon.

Hubby had to wait about ten minutes to get our food, which looked like it wasn’t prepared fresh at all. The food look like it has been sitting in a pot all day and was just microwaved. You’d think that they would have at least made sure that the egg on the Oyakodon was partially cooked but it was served to me raw with the lukewarm rice and meat. The croquette was too starchy and only mildly tasted of potato (methinks maybe it has more flour than potato?), the Teriyakidon was too sweet and the Oyakodon was just so-so. Definitely won’t be eating there again.

Next is Teppansan Japanese Cafe (179 Russell Street, Melbourne). We’ve read positive reviews about the tasty Japanese Pizza and everyone who’d previously reviewed it has been amazed at how cheap the food here is. Our lunch-time experience there started well enough, I liked their calligraphy-inspired drawings on the wall and we were served our soup and drinks promptly after sitting. We were given the main menu (which consisted of almost 150 items, including drinks) and the lunch set menu. I ordered the Beef Pizza set with the takoyaki while hubby had the Chicken Pizza set with California rolls. Half an hour later and after watching the people beside us eat, we were still waiting for our food. Hubby asked the waitress about our order and a couple of minutes later was served our pizzas. It took several more prodding from Gj for us to get our spring rolls, California rolls and finally the takoyaki. I think the servers need a reminder that appetizers should come before the mains and not the other way around.

The food was good but nothing spectacular and certainly not authentic (I guess it should be expected when their menu is in Chinese rather than Japanese and their set meals are called bendon instead of bento). The final bill wasn’t so bad ($11.50 each for the set meal plus softdrinks) and would be great for the budget-conscious but the terrible service and lack of attention to detail ruined the experience for us. This could be a good place to dine if they could address their haphazard ordering system (pieces of paper placed everywhere on a table) and hiring more hands during the busy lunch hour would be a good idea as well.

Lastly, there’s Yu-U (137 Flinders Lane, Melbourne). Again, everyone seems to be raving about this difficult-to-find place so we finally booked a table for today. We found their nondescript door easily enough and noticed that a sign posted on the door warned would-be customers that they only serve set meals during lunch time, today it’s pork hamburger with tonkatsu sauce (click on third photo below for a schedule of set meals for this month). We walked down the flight of stairs and were immediately impressed with the simple but elegant interior. The lights were strategically placed and dimmed, creating an intimate atmosphere. We were seated at the bar and immediately served our green tea, with our set lunches arriving soon after. I was about to take a photo of my lunch when the server came up to me and informed me that taking photos is not allowed. I apologised and quickly pocketed my phone, wondering why they don’t put up a “No photography” sign outside if they don’t want guests taking photos. Needless to say, it sort of put me off the dining experience.

The set meal turned out to be cold soba noodles for starters, a small serving of pickled vegetables, tasty broth, steamed rice topped with burger steak in sauce and a small piece of pineapple. The meal was okay but nothing to write home about. We’re not big fans of cold soba noodles so that kind of detracted from the whole meal and the burger steak was average and the BBQ sauce a bit too tangy for my taste. At $15 a pop, this is one of the more expensive lunches we’ve had. Hubby and I agree, this place is way overrated and we probably won’t be dining there again.

Published in: on June 7, 2007 at 1:14 pm  Comments (3)  

Around the Yard

Two weekends ago, we got ourselves some free shrub plants, care of the local city council. For a week, the six plants were sharing one small pot while we figured out what to do with them. Three of them we already gave away to our friends. We decided that we’d plant one near our driveway so that it wouldn’t look so barren. We wanted to plant the remaining two shrubs in big pots and place them in our front yard just outside our front window.

Last Sunday, we went to Bunnings Warehouse and picked out the pots and potting mix we’ll use. Since we got back home a bit late, we ended up not being able to plant the shrubs in the pots. However, there was still enough time before sunset, so I dug up a hole near our driveway and planted the shrub.

My only fear is that I don’t have a green thumb to speak of. We tried to move two plants in our backyard a few months ago and both plants are now dead. I just hope that the plant survives to grow into a healthy shrub.

On a slightly different story, our backyard fence has had holes in two places since February when the construction people of the new apartment behind us accidentally punched through our fence with their earthmovers. Since then, we’ve been trying to get them to fix the damage they caused.

And finally, after much nagging on our part, they finally fixed one of the holes on the fence. That’s the good news. The bad news is that there is still one hole that was left unpatched. According to the construction manager I spoke to over the phone, he was only told about one hole. Since I want to stay civilized about the whole thing, I thanked him for fixing one of the holes and asked him to fix the other. He said that it would be fixed sometime this week.

We’ll just have to wait and see.

Published in: on June 6, 2007 at 11:31 pm  Leave a Comment