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Saturday 20 December 2003

Raven Shield multiplayer [lurks]

Since a few of us have got our shiny legit copies of Raven Shield today, I slapped up a server on Wench and we jumped in for a bash. So far we've been playing through the multiplayer maps with a good deal (20) terrorists on the terrorist hunt mode. It's rock hard, I'll tell you that. It's also quite simply the best multiplayer game ever! Every engagement with the enemy is risky and on the more complex maps we've had to retry the map 20 times until we managed to complete it.
All the stuff that makes Raven Shield a good game come right into their own in multiplayer. Cracking doors open for a peak, breaching charges, flashbangs and even small pleasures like sliding down a ladder rapidly. It's all ace fun, we can't wait to get straight back into the action after another mission failed. All we need now is to get Roger Wilco set up so we've got some voice communications. I must also somehow manage to impart to Muz the concept of 'backup' as well :)
Come on you fuckers, get your Raven Shield and join up! Server details and password in #EED.

1942 Punked [spiro]

From the 1942 Website
In response to the #1 request from the community, DICE & EA are proud to announce the inclusion of anti-cheat measures in the next patch for Battlefield 1942. The Battlefield team is committed to providing an exploit-free gaming environment for members of our community. Our goal is to have measures in place which address both current and future cheats. As such, after researching existing anti-cheat programs, we've determined that Punkbuster™ suits our purposes perfectly. We'll keep everyone updated as to our progress. For now, we have successfully integrated Punkbuster into the upcoming 1.6 patch and we're in the process of testing it.
About time if you ask me.

Thursday 18 December 2003

The best browser ever? [lurks]

I been around the houses with alternative web browsers in my time, the Amiga years ensured that. Yet for the longest time, I shoved my snout in the mass market trough of microsoft-spill that is Internet Explorer. Mostly because it just worked, it's what everyone was testing web sites with and I just didn't see any of the lame linux sandal-wearing arguments about bloat and disk space. We'd moved on from the 486 after all.
I tried Opera. I found the interface shit and it was broken on standard stuff like forms. Then, at some point, I tried Mozilla and began to like it. I liked it for three main reasons; tabbed browsing, respectable mail/news client and pop up blocking by default. I've used Moz for ages now and never saw a reason to move to Firebird because Moz never struck me as slow and I was using the extra bits anyway.
The thing is, a fair bit of stuff is still broken on Moz and one source of constant annoyance is the irritating behavior of the google plug-in which just isn't as good as the IE plug-in.
So I tried out this Avant Browser which is basically someone building a new application which sits on all the nuts and bolts bits of IE. It has pop-up blocking and most importantly of all it has tabbed browsing. It also has bookmark managing which just works better than Moz, Eg being able to right click on entries and draw stuff around just like in IE.
The preferences are clean and well laid out and of course it is basically compatible with everything because it's just IE. The very latest version even comes with the Google toolbar built in (the standard one wont install) and that behaves exactly like the proper IE one. I have, in short, discovered my ideal browser.
Of course many will crow about how is MS and still evil and how it doesn't adhere 100% correctly to the W3 Org's standards and all that shit but then those people don't use web browsers for actually doing work and hence complaining that something is broken is a luxury they have, when you just need to view the fucking site.
I like the way it sits in the task tray when it's not being used too. One simple click and bosh it's back with my tabs. It also enforces tabbed browsing in a way Moz doesn't do. So you wont end up with a few confusing instances of it. I think it's the nuts, basically. It's your old favorite but just better.
It's free but they're fishing for donations. Maybe some ways down the line if I'm still using it, I'll sling them some cash.
So what are you bastards using?

Wireless compact keyboard [lurks]

Right, the hunt is back on. I'm looking for a wireless compact keyboard to use for my lounge server. Originally I had a crappy cheap infrared and it was fine but fucked up after awhile, now I've got a very nice IBM wired. Only it's fucked too. It randomly goes into numlock mode for no reason, which needs an arcane vulcan death grip-like combination of key presses to revive it. Really, though, the problem is that it's wired and that's just a pain.

Now I already know that the big e-commerce outfits don't have what I need. I just refuse to believe that this is something unusual though, after all when I bought the infrared one is was a dime a dozen at the markets and now they have nothing like it! So join me my brothers, let us find a wireless compact keyboards (with integrated pointing device) which is suitable for lounge servers.

Tuesday 9 December 2003

Microsoft's new mice reviewed [lurks]

I've got one of the new new Microsoft wireless mouse, the Intellimouse 2.0 job. I'll keep this sort because there's not vast amounts to say. At work, the wireless receiver complained of low signal quality despite being less than a foot away. No such problem at home. It hated being on a Dabs mouse mat with a black bit in the middle. Works fine on the table.
Then there's the wheel. Well, the tilt stuff is utter bollocks. It's quite hard to tilt, you have to push it a long way. It's just plain uncomfortable to move your wheel finger that far from side to side. It's a gimmick and completely useless. The surprise is the smooth mouse wheel action is pretty cool. So is the software change so you move it faster and it scrolls faster. That's quite nice actually.
Mouse movement is a bit naff, don't know why. Have to ramp the speed right up to match a logitech and it's inaccurate. Use mouse acceleration is now called enhance mouse pointer precision or something, even though that's clearly got nothing to do with it.
The worst thing of all is that it sticks. It's got all this mondo clever power saving stuff right. So it shuts off when you don't move it. The trouble is, it shuts off and then the wheel doesn't work. You need to move the mouse to wake it up then the wheel starts working. And when it sticks, you have to wiggle it a bit to get it to wake up.
Ergonomically it's good but the title wheel is a useless gimmick and the mouse movement is stuffed and the stickyness is a serious issue and there's some evidence the wireless reception is iffy too. This is no way a gamers mouse, do not buy one.
This is getting unplugged and replaced with the logitech. Even at work I'll use a ball mouse over this and that has to tell you something.

Thursday 4 December 2003

Doctor Who [beej]

So the Beeb are remaking Dr.Who and fortunately there's no way on earth the McGann brothers will be let near the role after the last effort.
Who would you choose as The Timelord for 2005? My suggestions are...
  • Eddie Izzard!
  • Bill Bailey
  • Jonathan Creek bloke
  • Jonny Vegas
  • Jean-Luc Picard
  • Llewelyn Bowen from Changing Rooms

If anyone says 'The guy from Spooks' then don't be surprised if I kick you in the nads.

Wednesday 3 December 2003

DC = RSI [lurks]

Like many working journalists, I'm always on the cusp of having a serious problem with repetitive strain injury or RSI. That's something of a misnomer because the injury itself isn't cause by the repetitive nature of the work, it's just that doctors didn't adequately understand what was going wrong when the condition was first identified. It's actually caused by a constant strain on a tendon. Such as you might do when typing, typically it's the tendons in the forearms - as it is for me - although other people get variants.
Normally for me, it flares up the next day after I've had a particularly long session of the offending activity. Now the tendon in my right forearm is swollen and very painful indeed. Only this time it wasn't me typing, because I've learnt to manage that roughly - by pushing keyboards right the way back on a desk and resting my forearms on the table, relieving the strain. I've tried a fancy chair and a proper posture and those didn't help as much as my own technique. Fucking quacks.
Anyway, I digress. The cause of this flair up of my RSI is, you guessed it (or if you didn't due to the title of the blog, then you're a thick cunt), is Desert Combat. More specifically, handling of a joystick. Since we've been playing limited numbers vs a bag load of bots, I've had unprecedented access to my vehicle of choice - the Apache. So much so that I find I end up resting my right hand on the joystick even when I'm not flying one. Oh and I played some X2: The Threat on the weekend too, with a ... sigh ... joystick.
The thing is, I'm kinda hosed here. There are no low profile joysticks. They're all these bulky things which I have to raise my arm up to grasp upon my table in the typically bad RSI inducing posture.
So, do I hang up my helicopter gloves or move to keyboard and mouse? I dunno. I should just probably play less but since our lounge is a building site, my other activities had been removed this weekend. Or, I could seek out some more ergonomically friendly joystick. Does such a beast exist? I suspect not, it's just as much the fault that my huge desk is quite high...
Still, some pretty sizable ownerage was handed down at the weekend and that has to be worth a little pain.

Tuesday 2 December 2003

Looking for a low-end digicam [lurks]

Right, I'm looking for a digital camera. I don't want a ninja flash one, this time I don't even consider a zoom lens important. The missus and I are going half on it, she's going to get the most use out of it and I'll just use it when I need to take the odd snap. I had more or less settled on the Olympus C-150 as it's a stonking price and I swear by Olympus cameras on the whole.
Thing is, no one has it in stock. So I thought, maybe someone else knows of a camera in the £100-£160 range which is worth a look-see?

Lurks XviD guide [lurks]

My previous DVD ripping/DivX guide was fairly popular but it seems that it was one of the blogs we vaped when we moved server. Also, I've been doing a fair bit of experimentation with XviD rather than DivX. The reason being that XviD is an open-source MPEG4 codec that is being actively developed, as opposed to DivX which isn't fully MPEG4 compliant and went 8 months without an update. So here's a guide, from scratch, on how to do a wicked DVD rip with XviD complete with a decent soundtrack.
First of all, let's get all of the software. We're going to use GKnot because it installs a lot of it and has a nice GUI which calculates bitrate and does the frame serving stuff for us. This time around we wont be using it for audio. Firstly get the GKnot rippack from Doom9. You should also get the System Pack. You may be able to omit the latter but I've only tested this procedure having that installed. Next up, grab this zip in which I've put Azid and a cmd line LAME so we can do the audio properly. The ones installed by GKnot are old and we need the features of the new versions.
We're obviously also going to need a copy of the XviD codec. Get Koepi's current build.
Now we're ready to go. Slap in a DVD. Run GKnot. On the first tab you've a button to launch DVDDecrypter. Click that, select your drive. Select a a space to save off the VOBs, obviously you'll need bag loads of space on that drive. Then whack the decrypt graphic on it to start the rip and decrypt. You'll have to wait awhile until it's done.
When it's done. On GKnot again, first tab, whack the DVD2AVI button. File/open, select the first VOB that is listed on your hard drive, from the location you ripped them to with DVDDecrypter. It will offer to auto add the rest in the sequence, which is fine by us. DVD2AVI will get bigger and you can now hit F5 to play. In fact, you should do that now. Now we have two cases, if the film is PAL - it will quite often say it is interlaced in the panel on the right when previewing. This is almost always lies. If you really think your DVD is interlaced, wait until it pans and hit escape. If you've got a comb sort of effect on odd/even lines then it's interlaced. Make a mental note of that, we'll have to fix that later.
Now if the DVD is NTSC, things get a bit more tricky. It may be a video framerate DVD or it may be a film framerate DVD. Basically let it play for awhile and DVD2AVI will display a number next to FILM in the preview. If it keeps increasing and goes up over 90% in fairly short order, then it's FILM. In which case go to Video/Field operation and select Forced FILM. Now we need to sort out ripping the audio stream out of the VOBs. To speed the process up a bit and to save on a bit of disk space, we'll just extract what we need which will be Track 1 invariably.
Make sure Audio/Track Number is 1. Make sure Audio/Channel Format is Auto Select. Make sure that Audio/Dolby Digital is set to Demux, which will just Demux track 1 which we have selected. It often defaults to Decode, which we don't want so check this every time.
Now it's just File/Save Project now, save filename into your DVD rip directory - doesn't matter what you call it. It'll take awhile and you'll see some AC3 file appear in the directory and a small D2V file. Sorted.
Back to GKnot. At the bottom left of the GUI, there's an Open button. Bang that and select the D2V file you just saved with DVD2AVI. A preview window will pop up and show a bit from inside the movie.
One of the things we can do with XviD is get it to spend a bunch less of the file on credits where nothing is happening. You know, scrolly ones on a black background kinda thing. You can do this for credits at the start (a bit more rare) and/or credits at the end. If you want to do this, just get out a pen/post-it or whatever and make a note of the start and end frames of the credits at the start and end of the movie. You can do this easily by just dragging the slider in the GKnot preview window, the current frame is displayed in the window title. You don't need to do this step if you're lazy.
Now pop the main GKnot GUI to the front. We need to crop the video so we're only saving the content. Select the third tab called Resolution and hit Autocrop button. You shouldn't really need to do anything else. Now we need to set up the size and bitrate of our rip. The second tab on GKnot is called Bitrate, select that. Now you can enter the size of your rip in CDs, size of CDs and what not. I'll assume you aren't an idiot and can work that out. Select an audio track bitrate of 128kbps and select 1x vbr-mp3 in the overhead calculation pane.
The key thing here is the bits per pixel. We should be shooting for something like 0.20 which gives excellent results. If you go a bit lower than this, it'll go yellow to warn you. You can get away with that in many cases, you'll just see more artifacts. The resolution/compression trade-off is up to you. If the bits per pixel is too low, you'll either need to make the movie bigger or switch to the Resolution tab in GKnot and scale the movie down. Anywhere from 512 to 640 is good. As you drag the slider, you'll see the bits per pixel change. So you can fiddle with these settings to get a compromise you feel happy with.
When you're happy with your choices, hit the Save & Encode button on the GKnot preview window. Now if you're sure your vid is interlaced, enable that on the GUI which has appeared. I recommend the Field Deinterlace option for that. If your vid isn't interlaced the leave that to None. Resize Filter, set to Neutral or Sharp Bicubic. I use the former but others use the latter. Up to you. Hit the Save and Encode button on this and it'll prompt to save an AVS file. Save that in your rip dir with an appropriate name.
Now you're on the Encoding panel of GKnot called the DivX Encoding Control Panel. That's great but we don't care about that because we're gonna do XviD so just close that.
Now in your start menu you've got a Gordian Knot folder and in that there's an Apps sub folder. In there, you'll see VirtualDub. Run that. Now we've got VirtualDub, it might bleat a bit the first time you run it. Just fuck off the bleats and select File/Open and open that AVS file you last saved from GKnot.
In Audio menu in VDub, set to No Audio. In the video menu, select Fast recompress. Then select Compression from the video menu. You'll have a list of codecs. We'll be wanting to select the XviD codec. Hit the configure button. Select from the drop down, 2 Pass - 1st Pass. Then hit the advanced button. Much of the settings here is open to experimentation but I can recommend at least the following is turned on; Enable Lumi-masking, Quarterpel, Global Motion Compensation.
Now go to the Credits tab. Remember that I said to note the start and end of the credits and the beginning and/or the end of the movie? Well here's where you put them. All you need to do is tick the start and/or the end credits option and fill in the start/end frame. If you forgot to write them down from GKnot you can always just exit out of this and find them from within Virtual Dub. I'd leave the other settings.
Now keep pressing OK until you're back to a blank VDub. Select File/Save as AVI and save out firstpass.avi but tick the little box on the file requester that says 'Don't run this job now...'. It'll just add it to the queue so we can run both and leave the PC be while it does the biz.
Now go back to the Video/Compression options. Hit configure on the XviD codec like you did before. This time select '2 Pass - 2nd pass - Int' from the drop down. Now you've got a box to enter video size. You get this number from the GKnot GUI on the Bitrate tab. You've got the Video Size in Kb. So enter that number into the Desired Size box in the XviD codec. You don't need to do anything else, just hit OK and go back to VDub and select File/Save as AVI again. Again ticking the 'Don't run this job now...' box. Name your file finalvid.avi or something descriptive like that.
Hit F4 to open the Job Control. You can just whack Start on this and VDub will fire off doing the first pass and then the second pass. Couple of tips here, firstly if you want to see how your machine is performing you can select 'Show Status Window' from the new 'Dub in progress!' menu that will appear. Secondly, VDub does often slow your machine down when it's doing it's thing however if you run the task manager and select the VDub process, you can right click to turn the priority down to Below Normal and continue using your PC as normal.
Now we're going to do the audio. You can either do that on the same machine or shift it to do on another machine to speed the process up. Earlier I linked a zip which has Lame.exe and Azid.exe in it. To make things easy, copy the AC3 file to wherever you've extracted those and rename it to something easy to type. Do pay attention to the number in front of the ms in the filename though as if it's not 0, we'll need it later.
So now we just do this;
azid.exe -c normal -s stereo -a xxx.ac3 xxx.wav
lame.exe --alt-preset 128 xxx.wav xxx.mp3

You could lower the 128 down as far as 96 if you like but LAME will resample to 32KHz automatically. Still sound fine for movies though. When this is done, you've got yourself an mp3 encoded at the target bitrate using LAME's ABR capability and nicely normalized thanks to Azid. No more quiet soundtracks!
Now when your video is done, you can play it as normal to check it out. You can obviously also listen to the soundtrack as well. Assuming you're happy with both, we just need to glue them together. For this we'll need another version of VitualDub called Nandub, because the original doesn't support muxing VBR MP3s. You'll have this installed as part of GKnot in the start menu/Gordian Knot/Apps folder again. Run it now.
Now all you need to do is File/Open your second pass finished video. Then in the Video menu select 'Direct Stream Copy'. In the Audio menu, select '(VBR) MP3 Audio'. Doing so will open a file requestor and at this point you just pick your finished MP3 file that you made earlier. If there was a funny +30 or -30ms or something like that in the original AC3 filename, select Audio/Interleaving and pop in that number in the 'Delay audio track by' box.
Now you can just File/Save as AVI. It'll save a new file out which will have the video and audio muxed together. It ought to be exactly the size you specified in GKnot. That's it, you're done!

Desert Combat 0.5 [beej]

Well, we've discovered DC (again!) only this time Lurker likes it ;) Some good multiplay tonight; here are some screenies for posperity:

Unless you de-balance the AI it can be a bit of a scrum

Lurks and Hans fly overhead in their AH-64

Hans lands his Mi-8 HIP on the roof so that he can pilot the rest of us into the DMZ

Mow them down like ants! muuuuhahahaha!

EUCD and what it means for you [lurks]

I've been writing a fair bit of stuff about the new European Union Copyright Directive. This is basically a set of requirements which the EU has dictated on copyright issues, which each member country in the EU needs to incorporate into their own law. Anyhow, this has major ramifications for activities that some of the readers of this web site are known to engage in so I think a distilled summary ought to be of interest to you.
The EUCD in essence contains two areas of requirements which we're interested one. Sharing of copyrighted material on the Internet and accountability for that and the protection your ISP provides you from being identified. The second part is defeating copy protection mechanisms, which is probably of less interest but I'll run through it just the same.
As of October the 31st, amendments to UK have come into effect (I'll spare you the lengthy details) so that the UK now complies with EUCD. That means now.
There is a popular misconception that the new laws have made peer-to-peer sharing illegal. They have not, sharing of copyrighted material has always been illegal. What's new is that there is specific legislation to grant injunctions against ISPs who harbor customers which are uploading and downloading copyrighted materials. There's a process stated by which an ISP can be notified of infringing customers.
So, putting it all in context, let's follow a scenario by which Jonny might get one of these mythical 'cease and desist' letters from his ISP.
Boris runs some kind of Gnutella-based peer-to-peer client. He's a bit of a 'tard see. He's sharing all his movies and as a result, when any one comes along and searches for Turbo Ninjas III, the latest Miramar blockbuster - his client dutifully reports his IP and says 'come and get it' in a lovely free opensource protocol.
A protocol which some clever spods have worked out how to make money from. See what they build a list of big name movies. Then they write their own software which connects to the peer-to-peer networks and searches for all of these movies. Dutifully, all these machines report they have the movie. These folks build a nice little database, sorting the IPs into ISPs and exactly what movies they're sharing.
This company (NetPD is one) then approaches the big movie companies and says - guess what chum, we've got a nice list of everyone in the UK who is currently uploading Turbo Ninjas III on the Internet. You can take this to an ISP and get them to stop! Oh, gis some dosh eh?
Movie company laps it up. Then writes a nice official letter with their address, conforming to the new laws - with this lovely database from the likes of NetPD. IPs, times, exactly what they're sharing etc. Likely the letter will remind the ISP of their obligations and that unless they take action, they will be forced to seek an injunction.
ISP reads letter. ISP runs off to read up on the law. ISP bricks it. ISP dutifully types up a load of letters to the customers, telling them that Miramar tells them that you are sharing Turbo Ninjas III and that you should delete this and stop doing this sort of thing. ISP will also remind customer of the T&Cs. Note, the ISP isn't going to boot you off - the ISP knows full well the reason you have broadband is to be n0rty but it doesn't have much choice.
Boris gets this letter, which correctly identifies that he has Turbo Ninjas III on his hard drive and he's running Kazaa or whatever. Boris bricks it, he's never been busted for anything before and thinks, like everyone else on the Internet, that he can do whatever he likes and he's 100% anonymous. Boris gets a clue and turns off the app. He probably also panics and starts throwing out the piles of warez CDs too.
So, that covers how things are working right now. Anything where you advertise that you have a file on the Net, you're liable for this. That also includes Bittorrent, another open standard where the tracker is happy to pass anyone a list of ISPs of people who have the file. Of course you might not know what a torrent is of, unless you have the torrent file - but then the torrent files are helpfully named and available for download from the likes of so that problem doesn't exist.
Now, the other part of the new amendments to UK law are worth mentioning also. It is now illegal to sell, make available or even tell people how to make any device, technique or software etc which defeats technological systems designed to protect content. That means mod chips. It wasn't actually illegal to sell mod chips before, you'd just get sued by the console maker. Now the UK is the 6th country int he UK to make it illegal.
It also means that selling DVD ripping software which is capable of decrypting DVDs is illegal as well. And CD duplication software which is capable of defeating stuff like Macrovision's Safedisc or, potentially, the new copy protected audio CDs too. Of course all of this is preposterous because as we all know, it's piss easy to get all of this software off the net for free. The main thing is that no one is allowed to profit from selling this stuff now. It's also illegal to circumvent copy protection mechanisms by using this software, free or not, but then if you're doing that it was probably illegal anyway. You wouldn't care because the chance of enforcement is nil.
The Internet is another matter. Although at present you really only stand a chance of getting one of these cease and desist letters if you're pirating movies from Sony or Time Warner. However I would expect more publishers to follow suit, the music industry to get involved and in time, even game publishers.
The days of open Net piracy look to be vanishing. This isn't really a bad thing though, is it?

Saturday 29 November 2003

Christmas Party only 2 weeks away.. [vagga]

Christmas Party is only 2 weeks away..
I need to make a booking today, or at worst as soon as possible. So we need a deffinate show of hands. So right now we have 9 people. We have..
ME! Teeth, Shinji, Lurks, Brit, Spiro, Pod, Dave, Am
Anyone else coming? Jay? Beej? Skeeve? Mugs?
Remember we were talking about Chinatown on the evening of Friday the 12th of December.
Come on you slack fuckers, sort it out!

Thursday 27 November 2003

More shiny stuff [spiny]

'Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat, the missus bought me a router & I like it like that'. Erm, or something.
With the iminent arrival of ADSL to Spiny Estates, I spent this evening setting up my LAN with a Netgear DG834G 54G ADSL Router, a Netgear WGE10154G bridge, my PC and XBox.
What's the verdict then? Well, pretty good actually, data rates vary from 687KBps when the bridge & router are sat next to each other down to 234KBps when the bridge is taken downstairs to my lounge. Seems plenty to stream video, even if it takes around a second per track for XBMP to get an ID3 tag.
The setups for the router & bridge are quite nice webby interfaces with all the usual options for authorising access by SSID, MAC addresses & WEP. I really only have a basic grasp of networking & didn't bump into any showstopper problems.
The router includes a DHCP server (which, IMHO, is pretty useless on a small home LAN where not every device can get to a WINS server). The firewall seems pretty comprehensive too with options to set up port ranges as 'services' to be port forwarded, then add these into the block/allow list on the firewall. This sort of thing is a necessary feature for running game servers & apps like bittorrent.
Oh yeah, and it's shiny and silver :)

Wednesday 26 November 2003

Huntley is having a laugh! [lurks]

In case you've not been following the trial of Ian Huntley for the murder of the two 10 year old girls, Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, I thought I'd summarise the situation. Well, I'm not going to be objective about this. First, I want to tell you so far what Huntley's defence will admit.
  • The girls went to Huntley's house at 6:30pm on the day they died.
  • Jessica's mobile was switched off at 6:46pm.
  • Holly and Jessica died in Huntley's home.
  • The only other person in the house was Huntley.
  • Huntley dumped the bodies of the girls where they were found.
  • Huntley cut the clothes from the girls and took them back home to set fire to them.

If you will indulge me, please read the above carefully again.
This man, incredibly, maintains his innocence. How does he do so? By taking the stand today and telling his version of events. I wondered what this man could possibly have to say for himself.
Apparently Holly had a nose bleed. She went to Huntley's bathroom and fell into the bath, which was full of water, and drowned. Jessica discovered this and started screaming. Huntley came in, tried to stop her from screaming by covering her mouth. When removing hands, she fell to the ground. Dead.
That's his story. Why on earth are we wasting tax payer's money on this?

Lurks sheepishly returns to Blueyonder [lurks]

Christ, I've now had 4 DSL providers and one cable provider. I like my broadband. So when Telewest fucked me around back in blog 419, I didn't see going back to DSL as much of a hardship. Especially since I signed up with the excellent Nildram being as the costs had dropped to the point that I could get myself a nice 1MB business line for the sort of money that broadband is personally worth to me (around £60 a month, so I saved some cash too).
Unfortunately over time, I just came to realise that actually, DSL is quite noticably slower than cable. Slower particularly the way I tend to use broadband, which is having a fair bit of upstream shit going on. There's a simple reason for that. ADSL is basically a modem whereby the actual datarate of the modem itself and hence how much frequency spectrum it uses, is dependant on the base rate of modulation. When you've got 1MB ADSL downstream and 256K up, that's how much bandy is there and that's that. Self explanitory perhaps?
Cable, on the other hand, is basically a very very fast modem indeed. Around 10-20Mb. It uses ridiculous spectrum because it's sat on a dedicated bit of coax rather than a bit of twisted pair wiring. The key difference is that cable modems are throttled on throughput and not throttled on the base bandwidth. The throttling mechanism is also a little lazy, it's not too worried if you burst a bit faster for a fraction of a second, it'll let things by. This makes them absolutely superb for browsing web pages, for a start. But beyond that, there's ramifications for ADSL and cable when you start to suck a bit of bandy...
See TCP/IP itself relies on being able to send little acknowledge packets back to keep the flow of data happening. The issue with DSL is that when your upstream starts getting busy, it delays your packets to fit into the alloted bandy because there just is no more bandy going. Where as cable modems will quite happily let shit through right away and then just choke stuff back if you're getting out of control. The difference might sound subtle but in my tests, the latency of a simple ping through DSL vs cable when running the pipe to half saturation is very telling. DSL latency triples. Cable latency hardly shifts. When you're running your pipe at 90% saturation - then ADSL seriously starts to suffer, as anyone trying Bittorrent will find out quick enough.
So, anyway, what I'm not trying to say here is that DSL is pants because it's not. It bloody rocks. It's the first broadband I had, I've had 4 providers of it. It's how 90% of us will get broadband and it sure beats the crap out of dial-up. We're splitting hairs. I'm just feebly justifying why I went back and in no way am I deriding the the DSL service the rest of you guys have or anything. That would be lame.
No, it's just that ultimately I realised that I was paying a fair whack more for broadband via Nildram DSL than cable via Telewest and that for my pattern of usage, even with lines the same speed, cable is faster. To say nothing that for around the same money I can just press a button on my 'Self Care' page and upgrade my line to 2Mb...
Of course they may still magically fuck me around like last time but now I have the contact details for the PA of the executive in charge of onsumer operations... I'm confident I know how to get some action should come to that again. :)
No problem with Nildram, awesome provider. Not a spot of bother. Love the static IP, reverse DNS and the way they personally tested my mail server before unblocking port 25. Quality operation. I'll certainly miss them but the fact of the matter is, I don't notice what Nildy are good at where as I notice what's good about Blueyonder broadband. Speed and price. Speed and price which has ultimately had me going back to the service and hoping I get another few trouble-free years out of them before they decide I'm running an open relay or something retarded like that.

Monday 24 November 2003

Running BF1942 and Teamspeak as an NT / Win2k service [brit]

A guide to running normal non service executables as NT/2000/2003 services.
There are various ways of taking a normal .exe and turning it into a service; the Windows NT Resource Pack gives you one way using 'srvany' but I have found this to be dubious at best - some .exe's refuse to work with it, and it can require editing of the system registry which could prove dodgy.
Then there are the GUI based applications like 'Firedaemon' which whilst excellent, cost money - or, have unhelpful restrictions on certain uses (such as only running 1 service in their Lite product) which preclude them from serious consideration.
So after an enormous amount of digging around, I found an application called the 'NT Launcher Service' which is freeware, and can be found here:
It works, exceptionally well. The following tutorial will take you through setting up a pretty standard affair of 1 Battlefield 1942 Desert Combat server, and 1 Teamspeak (voice comms) server. Note however, that you shouldn't do this unless you have a nice meaty server!
Download the following:
1. Battlefield 1942 stand alone server 2. Desert Combat stand alone server 3. Battlefield 1942 remote server admin executable 4. The NT Launcher application
1. Install BF1942 and then the DC server. 2. Place the remote server admin executable in the same directory as BF1942.exe 3. Run the server admin executable, and use it to configure the server - save the resulting settings.
It's useful to actually kick the server off at this point, with the server admin to ensure that everything is working; a couple of times I found that the server wouldn't see the DC maps, or had other issues.
4. Go to the directory that you put the NT Launcher app into, and edit the file NTLauncher.ini
Basically, this is where you put the gubbins that NT Launcher uses to monitor it's 'services'. It's an easy text file to edit, so no skills related issues should be forthcoming. For each application you want to run as a service, enter an application container. For our two applications (BF1942(DC) and Teamspeak) the config looks like this:
[Program] PollForClosedApps=5 LaunchDelay=15
[App1] Path=C:\Program Files\Teamspeak2_RC2\server_windows.exe Param= CloseTimeout=15
[App2] Path=C:\Program Files\EA GAMES\Battlefield 1942 Server\BF1942.exe Param=+game DesertCombat +restart 1 CloseTimeout=15
Save out the file, and that's your editing done.
5. Get up a command prompt, and go to the directory where the NT Launcher application sits, and type:
net start launchersvc
You'll see it start the services. Normally, it kicks off the NT Launcher service, and then fires up the applications as defined in the .ini after 15 seconds; a timetable set by the LaunchDelay=15 setting.
Once this is done, your TS and DC servers will be up and running, and it's time to get online and start blowing the hell out of stuff!

What went wrong? [muz]

Those of you who consider yourselves to be in any way serious gamers will have no doubt played the gem that is Deus Ex. Developed by Ion Storm (no, not *that* one, the good Ion Storm), under the leadership of Warren Spector (of System Shock 2 and Thief fame), it was a worthy successor to those two titles. A story driven FPS/RPG hybrid set in a grim cyberpunk-esque future, with mega-corporations and conspiracies galore.
Story aside, the game simply 'felt' nice to play. The inventory and skills interfaces were functional and simple, and didn't get in the way. And as it was based around the Unreal engine, the shooty-shooty bits were pretty nice too.
Beyond this superficial layer , the players choices actually had an impact on gameplay and story. Dialogue changed depending on the order in which objectives were completed. There were plenty of 'side-quests' to keep one diverted, if one so chose. The skills and augmentations selected for one's character made a marked difference in the style of play required.
Deus Ex is one of the few games that deserves to be played through again and again. Indeed, it is still installed on this gamer's machine, for when he feels nostalgic for a bit of story-driven FPS action.
Understandably, when word of a sequel percolated up out of the ether that makes up the interweb, there were excited whispers. Anticipation. And other suspense-laden words that I can't think of right now.
So, as soon as word reached me that the demo had been released on fileplanet, I wandered off to download it, salivating at the prospect of what had happened to the world after the end of Area 51...
I needn't have bothered, really. The demo is... mediocre, at best. The inventory interface has been redesigned in order to accomodate those without a mouse and keyboard, as the XBox version has been developed concurrently with the PC version. I have no objection to this in principle, but surely it would have made sense to make use of the mouse and keyboard more fully in the PC version? Moving on... the graphics, while not shoddy, are nothing spectacular. The goals/inventory interface is too obtrusive, taking up far to much of the player's field of view. Text (from conversations, radio transmissions, even item descriptions) is huge! And rather than scrolling conveniently in a log window at the top of the screen, all conversation now fills the middle of the HUD, obscuring your view of the world. The player is now limited to having a maximum of 12 items, and ammunition is unified. There is no reload mechanic as such, one just keeps on firing until one is dead, or the enemy i! s.
Add to this a demo that has .ini files set to read only so configuration changes are not saved, and a default mouse sensitivity that means a slight twitch has the player's character doing a 720 on the spot*, and you can see why this gamer was less than impressed.
It's not just me, is it? I'm not elevating the first game above it's station in the gaming pantheon, and I'm not judging the demo too harshly, I hope? These being the case, I can only ask.... what, exactly, went wrong?

Sunday 23 November 2003

Monkey fun [lurks]

I have to share this. On the basis that I've spent the last 5 minutes poking bits of tissue between the keys on my keyboard, mopping up bits of Diet Coke with Lemon. A cliche perhaps, but nevertheless true.
One of the lasses in my office said, and I quote;

'Did you know that monkeys lick each other out?'

Followed by the keyboard coke incident. What caused this merriment? This is what.

Christmas Party: 12th December [vagga]

Right fuck0rs,
The Christmas party date is now *final* as teeth has left the mmorpg of the week in his netcafe in temple bar and booked a flight for the proposed date, Friday the 12th of December.
That date will now not be moved, so put friday 12th in your diary, and the 13th written off with a hangover :)
Did some recon with a small advance team in Chinatown last night and think we have found somewhere good. Good food, asian people eating in there, dead things in the window and a downstairs where we can cause total havok away from 'real' people :)
Only problem is that I did not take contact details for it, but its cool I will be in that vague area over the weekend.
What we need now is names of people who are going!
Right now we have:
ME! Teeth Shinji Lurks Brit Spiro
C'mon you slack fucks :)
We need a firm number so we can a) book the place and b) so I can get started booking the secret santa!!!

Friday 21 November 2003

Matrix: Revolutions [drdave]

Remember the first Matrix film? It was good. I mean it was something special wasn't it? It wasn't going to win any awards for acting or originality or anything outlandish like that, but it had something about it. Something new. Something we'd never seen before. It successfully married kung-fu, industrial-gothic and cod-philosophy into something decidedly eyebrow raising. It made trenchcoats fashionable again. It made it desirable to have a hacker alias. It made people in the street talk about Plato's Cave with someting bordering comprehension. No, this was no ordinary throw-away action flick. And on the back of this, it ignited the DVD phenomenon. Needless to say, the ending left everyone slack jawed at the prospect of the promised two sequels. Would Neo free the Matrix? Was there a Matrix-within-a-Matrix? What was The Oracle? Well, it seems that somewhere between the first and second movies, the Wachowski brothers decided to abandon this winning formula and take a far m! ore well travelled path.
Matrix: Revolutions, like Reloaded before it, is a sub-par action movie. It successfully manages to take every single element that made the first movie so special, discard it, and replace it with something hum-drum and pedestrian. Like the second movie, it packs every scene with pointlessly weighty speeches about 'truth', or 'choice', or 'freedom'. Like the second movie, it moves the focus away from freeing the matrix and puts saving Zion firmly in centre stage. An odd descision, given that Zion appears to be populated with a million deeply annoying people. Any kind of bond, or sympathy we feel for the protagonists is instantly lost.
But the worst crime that Revolutions commits is in chosing to eliminate by far the strongest element of the first, and to an extent the second. Kung Fu. Oh true, there's a luke warm, rehashed lobby scene which doesn't seem half as effective 5 years on. And there's yet another Agent Smith fight... the final, apocalyptic 'win this or Zion gets it' fight is with Agent Smith. Ahha. Right. So Neo fought Agent Smith in the first film, and won. Neo fought 100 Agent Smiths in the second film, and won. And now we're supposed to believe that there's is anything riding on this latest slow motion slap-a-thon? Nah, I don't buy it.
Beyond that, its by-the-numbers sci-fi action flick.
Bet you thought the Wachowski brothers were going to sweep the rug from under us by revealing that the 'real' world was in fact another Matrix? I did. Hell, Neo stopped those robots in Reloaded with a commanding gesture and a bit of harsh language... surely there must be something odd (and therefore interesting) happening. But no, the Wachowskis leave the rug well and truely under our feet. They also put a nice comfy chair on it for us to sit on. See, as the (new) Oracle patiently explains, Neo has a 'connection to the source' that allows him to do whacky stuff in the real world. Right? Connection... to... the source. Pitiful.
And speaking of badly explained occurences... what exactly happened to Agent Smith? Oh sure, he exploded, but why? The whole film is full of these stupid, badly thought out pseudo-mystical nonesense devices that will have leather-coated morons ruminating for years about the deeper philosophical ramifications and the apparently obvious (and oh so clever) Christ analogies.
Do I recommend it? No. Its crap. Crass. Cinema at its worst. It is a cynical cash in. It is tedious. It is everything the first wasn't. If you want a decent film with fighting and trechcoats, hire Equilibrium. If you wan't to spend hours scratching your chin and contemplating the nature of reality, hire Dark City. If you want to know who 'The One' really is, get Highlander and meet Connor McCloud Of The Clan McCloud.
If you still want to go and see it, then be a man and 'fess up that you only want to see it because of Monica Belluci's rather spectacular cleavage! A very noble aim, but sadly even her ample bossom only makes a token appearance - though it does heave in a most satisfying manner for five minutes. All downhill from there though.
Don't watch this film because it you do, mark my words, there will be a fourth. And we really don't want that, do we?

Thursday 20 November 2003

Ooops..I'm in CoD heaven... [houmous]

Di just came home. IÂ’m sitting in front of PC, open bottle of bubbly on my left, tub of houmous with bits of toast sticking out of it on my right, DEEPLY engrossed in CoD (Stalingrad level). Hello she says. Hello I say, but I am of course unable to turn or move my head in any sign of recognition due to heavy sniper activity.
You fucking bastard she says, you can’t even turn round and look at me! I hate that! And with that she storms out the house again – result! An extended evening playing CoD!
Thank you God!

Time to take the gloves off? [brit]

I really think it's time to take the gloves off.
Today, terrorists attacked UK interests abroad in the most direct and tragic way; bombing both the HSBC HQ and the British Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. Twenty five people were killed and hundreds injured, including the British Consul General who died when two Consulate annexes were completely destroyed.
This is the latest in a long line of observably escalating, well co-ordinated, and well financed attacks against (to this point) predominantly American assets. The terrorists have now extended their reach, and in the last month have attacked everything from troops attempting to fix Iraqi power lines, to the International Red Cross.
To me, alls I can see happening is an acceleration of terrorist activity, matched only by increased rhetoric and SKY coverage on our side. It's time to take the gloves off, and take this 'war' to the morons who think they're protected by some divine right to carry on like this.

(Don't) Stop the War! [beej]

Pinko anti-war lefties are starting to accumulate outside the World Service, students with banners are outside the LSE Uni opposite this office, and the anti-Bush march past will go down Aldwych later on today.
Right to free speech - fantastic - but why do these people want to 'Stop the War' which has has already happened? Aren't they just protesting for the sake of protesting? Will they protest every war until they realise we're all (to quote Eminem) just mammals?

Christmas Party [vagga]

Right so; lets get things started with the Christmas party! I have been given a mission from god to organise it this year. My primary reason is a selfish one, as I have not been at the last two as they have been on bad dates for me. So IÂ’m picking the date this time to suit me and fuck the rest of you :)
So the provisional date picked out of the sky is Friday 12th of December. If anyone has a big problem with this speak now or forever hold it! Remember for the last few years we have been unable to get a date to keep everyone happy...
(I must point out that personally I canÂ’t do much later as IÂ’m going to America for Christmas on the Friday after that)
For the venue IÂ’m proposing Chinatown, for the singular reason I have not been there in a while! ItÂ’s also handy as they can always take big groups of loud bastards :)
Comments? Suggestions for changes?

Time for anti-spam [lurks]

I get a lot of spam. My spam folder in The Bat has 990 spam for the last 7 days. That's 140 a day. Nearly 6 every hour. My mail is virtually useless without some kind of anti-spam measures, which unfortunately renders my squirrelmail access from work as being virtually useless. Well, my in-box anyway - the mailing list folders are OK.
At home I've used SA Proxy like many other EEDers. Don't bother trying to find it, it's gone commercial and they've nuked the free version. Nice guys. At any rate, SA Proxy just wasn't picking up enough spam. Virtually no false positives but enough was sneaking through that it was annoying.
I realised that basically I have absolutely no qualms with buying a decent industrial anti-spam solution that works. So I began to look around. There's two types, checkers and proxies. Checkers kind of sit on your pop box and run as an application, deleting spam from the pop box and then launching your mail client to read the rest. This is pretty arse, no one wants to faff around like that. Proxies generally run in your system tray and allow you to connect through them to a POP3 mail server, they pull down the mail and do stuff to it depending.
SA Proxy just inserted a spam subject for you to filter on. I found this program called SpamWeed by some chinese developers. It's a little app that sits in your system tray. It doesn't actually send your mail client spam at all. It displays legit mail and spam mail in the application. If it false positives or false negatives (and it does, out of the box) then you just correct it and it learns from this.
In just a single day and maybe ten or so corrections (all at once from this morning's mail), so far it seems pretty much perfect. Very impressed so far, it's also pretty darn cheap. Going to let it run for another day or so and if there's no showstoppers, it'll become my anti-spam app of choice.
Anyone else got any anti-spam software success stories?

Wednesday 19 November 2003

Mobile riporf [am]

I went clubbing. I mostly blame Lurker but then more than that I blame Houmous. Things happened that probably have no reason to happen but they happened a lot. It was pretty elite.
The next day I had probably lost my mobile phone.
So anyway, apart from the fear, the loathing, the wriggling maggots under my skin and the nails driven slowly under my fingernails, the locusts crawling in my ears and the centipedes crawling into every breath-hole - well apart from that I was fine about 36 hours later.
Alright I wasn't that bad. But I didn't have a mobile.
So frankly having gotten home at 5am I couldn't friggin remember wtf had happened to my phone so I looked a bit for it over the next few days (fairly half hearted) and then on thursday, well......
This is how the conversation (abridged) went;
'Hello I haven't necessarily lost my phone but I might have. What happens next?'
'Don't worry, we'll just put a block on it for now and you can report it lost when you know it is'
Does this seem hard? No.
So about a week and a bit later I decide it's definitely fucked and go to the police station. Bloke behind the desk looks so relieved that I'm not some crack-toting special-leave-brandishing scum of south-east london he's dead nice. I get lost property number and move on to the vodafone store. Girl there with the ace tartars says 'who sold you the insurance' and I say 'you did' and she visibly brightens and waves her nips in a general valedictory flourish as if to say 'I rock'. I'm not about to argue. I might get free cornea-surgery if I do.
So. We phone insurance and to cut a long story short they stick me on the phone and the wire-jockey says.......'the underwriters have decided not to honour your claim sir'.
I stand in the store and say quietly but firmly 'what?'
Cutting, again, this first conversation short, the line is 'your terms and conditions say that you have to report your telephone missing within 24 hours of it going missing and have the crime / lost number from the cops at the same time'. I say 'I didn't *know* I'd lost it - I said I might have but until today I didn't know if I had.' Bloke says 'your phone was barred therefore that started the clock running and 24hrs later you were dead'. I said 'I specifically said to the girl I was talking to that I was not going to report lost at that time because I didn't know if it was or not - I can't be expected to report lost until I *know*.'
The conversation went downhill with the typical tired-bored-shite- phone-jockey who's sticking to company lines and me getting progressively angrier. He tries to out-logic me as your average bored rep will and I slap him intellectually pretty hard at which time he uses the classic 'this conversation is going no further'.
In the shop I am fucking furious. I stand there and turn on the manager and say 'your business is ripping me off' at the top of my voice. He looks embarrassed like he knows that this is exactly what happens to try and keep the insurance business sweet. I rant and rave in front of his paying customers and say 'I'm just a decent, honest bloke who's never made an insurance claim in my life and your fucking insurers are ripping me off. This is a con. It's totally dishonest.'. He says 'uuuhhhh' and the girl with the bountiful bazongas just looks at the table.
When I get back in my office I'm more angry than slim with an aborted jap-pr0n dl.
Now as every philthy phat lawyer will tell you, there's no point in getting angry - you need to get even. So I take a big deep breath and phone customer service.
'Hello can I speak to a manager please?'
Now what follows, for the sake of brevity is exactly the same conversation - the hopelessness of normal phone-jockey. I get no more joy and this girl tries to do me with the same points. However there's two tactical differences. Number one I say at the end 'Well Collette (her name) I can tell you without a shadow of doubt that I will never use Vodafone again in my entire life - you have lost a customer for life' to which she shrugs audibly. Number two and more cunning is that at the end when I say 'when will the manager phone me back' she says 'it should be in the next four hours'.
The Amnesiac changes gear;
'Look Collette - I'd like to make a big point here - you can tell how upset I am with your insurers but I really want you to know that I know this is nothing personal to do with you. I've done a job like yours and I really appreciate that it's nothing to do with you. I just want you to know I'm a decent honest bloke who really feels like I'm getting ripped off here. I really apologise as one person to another if you feel like I've been unkind to you. But this is really bad so I feel like I've been done over here'
The bird in her call-centre says 'Thank you very much Mr Johnson'. She doesn't sound like she thinks it's some middle-eastern peace rapprochment but she's obviously pleased that the occasional piece of christmas-cake gets handed down into the trenches.
So twenty minutes later I am on the phone to customer services cancelling my account. I don't really want to do this but I know that all the mobile providers have heavy duty software analysing anyone threating to leave and are pre-programmed, dependant on level of usage of the contract holder to offer appopriate incentives to stay. I know a bloke who sells this stuff to all the major providers and it is multi-million dollar business. So I register myself as 'terminal'
So funnily enough 10 minutes later, the manager at the insurers calls. To cut another long story short she says 'I can see we've misunderstood you Mr Johnson, we will honour your claim'.
Did they misunderstand me? Did they fuck.
I just made them understand better.....

Tuesday 18 November 2003

i18 Highlights [spiny]

I'm sure someone will do a proper blog on this but here are some of the highlights of the weekend for me:
Personal Gaming Moments: Liberating an A10 from the Zionist Americans and taking down an enemy Jet. Learning how to vaguely steer a helicopter & performing parachute base assaults with Muz.
Comedy moment: Disbelieving laughter as Pod was welchia infected in 4 nanno seconds through not having any anti virus protection or having run windows update.
Eh? moment: Jay turning up with hardly and CDs for the games we posted on the ml.
Stomach knotting moment: Me getting 'Can't find NTLDR' on first boot. (Ended up booting of RAID instead. Sunday night investigation revealed that the problem was caused by a piece of fluff on the cable select jumper for my CDRW) Time to vaccum out the PC :)
Social Moment: The chineese meal on Saturday - good call Hou.
Yeuck moment: Chineese flavoured burps in a sleeping bag through the early hours of Sunday morning.
Escuse the lack of formatting, I'm still in the post jolt cola crash...zzzzzz.

Thursday 13 November 2003

Donnie Darko [floyd]

Can someone please explain what the fuck this movie was about!!!! Come on Mat, this sounds like your bag!!

Monday 10 November 2003

Call of Duty [lurks]

Yes it's WWII again, yes it's the Quake 3 engine again, yes it's by the same team that did MoH so it's fairly similar. You'd think it'd be yawn-worthy wouldn't you? It isn't though. Call of Duty is one of the best games this year - for me, probably 2nd behind Knights of the Old Republic on XBox. It's an astounding game. It has those simple elements so overlooked by 99% of game developers today; attention to detail, pride in their work and a sense of what is fun.
It's not a long game. I've not done it yet but I'm close to it and that's after just a few days. Yet it's a game that you instantly feel you could play through again - helped by the fact there's some different ways of doing each bit. Call of Duty provides the best feeling of being in a war that has ever been conveyed by a computer game in my opinion. You think the Omaha Beach landing was good in MoH? Well that's not a scratch on the Red Army counter-attack in Stalingrad. If you've seen Enemy at the Gates (which you should) then you'll know something of what to expect. I'd say the authors were heavily influenced by that film, there's even a direct quote.
The car levels are just insane fun. It's all completely on rails, you don't drive, you just gun. Yet it's blinding. The story also jumps around all over the place in a disjointed way, which is a big shame but it has meant they've been able to cherry pick the scenarios which are the most entertaining. In short, this is about as good a game as it's possible to make in a WWII FPS, Quake 3 style game.
It hits the shops on Friday, we're all going to need a copy to play online as that's supposed to be brilliant as well. Just do yourself a favor and pre-order it now, you wont regret it. Five out of Five.
You know, if these team got a more modern engine and did a modern-day war-game then that would be the best thing evar.

Sunday 9 November 2003

Lian-Li = teh nutz0r [lurks]

Driven to some desperation by the situation of transport to the upcoming I-18, I had decided that as last time I made my own way there with a laptop - this time I could do the same with a PC and a TFT. With only marginally more hassle. Err, OK infinitely more hassle - particularly as my PC was a 3 foot steel supermicro server tower which weight about as much as I do. Which is more than Muz, right?
Anyhow, Beej talked me out of that plan but of course it was too late to enter into a frenzy of kit buying to facilitate the PC lugging madness. First order of business is the case. It's arse anyway, there's fuck all in it. So I bought the smallest Lian-Li that Overclockers have, the 37A. I also ordered a gear grip for that and a TFT bag too.
It turned up today at work and I slapped the empty Lian-Li in the geargrip. It was like hauling a plastic box, it weight absolutely nothing. Constructing the system was more lengthy than normal because I went to the special care of wiring up all the front panel stuff and making sure everything was fitted correctly. There was some odd stuff like the PSU sitting right over the P4 and heatsink. The top CD drive bay has a metal bezel which is pushed out by the drive tray and the floppy disk has a metal bezel as well - both of which needed a bit of monkeying removing the original plastic bezels of the gear to fit properly.
Quality wise, just can't fault the Lian-Li. It comes with all the bits you need and I didn't run into any major problems. It looks the absolute nuts in an unwanky, windowless way. Of course I had to slap it into the gear grip and check it out.
It's kinda depressing how it still ends up being heavy with all the gear in it. The huge lump of Geforce FX 5900 Ultra doesn't help :)
For what it is, quite frankly it's overpriced. However it's a damn nice case which I'll be hanging onto for quite some time compared to others that have been and gone. Not even that much poser value for LANs and what nots really, given some of the insane cases you can buy off the shelf these days but that crap isn't my style. I like a monolithic slab of metal on the front panel.
What is it they say? Still waters run deep.

Friday 7 November 2003

Hate Crime - a Friday musing [brit]

Did anyone see the documentary of the Matthew Sheppard affair last night on TV?
Whilst being a veritable who's who of American TV stars, it was nevertheless a powerful dramatisation of the events and people that conspired to result in the tragic and barbaric murder of Matthew, a 21 year old gay man from Wyoming.
However, I really thought the creators blew it at the end - when one of the lead characters explained that no legislation was yet in place to prevent 'hate crime'.. an Orwellian turn of phrase with equally dark connotations if you follow the argument to it's logical conclusion.
It is my view that any definition of so called 'hate crime' must by virtue of it's existence attempt to define acceptable parameters inside which freedom of thought (though not necessarily expression) may be permitted; deviance from such constraints becomes an offence, and therefore punishable.
Whilst I'm sure we might all agree that even the vocalisation of individual prejudice is incompatible with the notion of an all encompassing 21st century secular society, do we have any right to extend this to a thought, no matter how unpalatable or distressing we might find it?
As a concept which transcends every sociological and demographic divide, I can fully understand why our law makers have shied away from attempting to turn this concept into statute; for indeed, it's only purpose can be to apply a new level of control to an already massively burdened populous; and it appears to be no more than a goosestep from 'thought crime'.

Thursday 6 November 2003

Sky+ [lurks]

Right, this Sky+ thing. I've decided I want it. Firstly, for those that don't know, it's basically a combination of a quad-LNB on your satellite dish (so it can pull off 4 different signals/channels - for Sky+ you just use two, the extra is for spare digiboxs) and a new flash digibox with personal video recorder (PVR) features. It's particularly nifty because it records the MPEG2 stream directly to HD so playback is exactly the same quality.
I've decided I want it because I'm paying all this money for TV but I keep missing the shows, the only reason I'm bloody subscribing! I'm still on some ninja stupid package with all the movies and sports for £38 a month. Given their promotion, this worked out at me paying the £199 for the box, £1 for installation and then downgrading to a £33 a month package and still getting everything I want.
Only I hit a snag while ordering. My aerial is right on the top of the house (3 floors) and they need to change the LNB, one of the questions on the web ordering form caught me out and wants me to call a number to arrange it whereupon they'll charge me £50 install. Sucks.
I'm still of a mind to do it all really. I like the idea of just getting it to record all West Wings, Jools Holland laters, specific music shows on MTV2 and crap like that. I could play them back when I like and even capture on Wench, as it's sat next to it (once I get a USB2 grabber...)

Wednesday 5 November 2003

Eye eye eye wots going on here? [houmous]

I suppose I'd better tell you about my new bionic eyes then. I've got (sorry had) crap sight, minus 6 in both eyes, which equates to me being able to see the big letter on the sight board and not much else.
I've worn hard gas permeable lens for years and although I'd been aware of laser treatment for ages I didnÂ’t really fancy it - two things lead to a change in this attitude though.
Firstly I went to the opticians a few months ago to see what new technology there was in the world of contact lens and came out with a new type of soft lenses that you put in, leave in for 30 days, take out, throw away and put new pair in. This introduced me to the world of 'waking up in the morning and being able to see' - being able to track down Di's nipples ( oh sorry dear did I wake you?) without clambering around the side of my bed for my glasses was a world I took to like a fish to water.
Unfortunately I also joined the world of constant dull irritation when my left eye decided it didnÂ’t like soft lenses - but the seed was sown (get it? :-) )
Secondly I kept bumping into people who had had it done and bored me to death with how good it was - what was worse is that most of them had had it done at Boots for gods sake!
I initially went down the Harley street doctor route but they all wanted to take £250 off me just to see if I could have the operation done (25% are rejected) whereas Boots were doing it for free - what had I got to lose? Off I trot to Regent Street
I wonÂ’t rant on about it but they were brilliant, not just in the quality of the equipment and the numerous tests they did but in the attention of the staff. Anyway I pass - I can have bionic eyes!
I booked in and had it done 2 weeks later. You are there for about 1.5 hours while they photograph your eyes so the PC can map them and enable the laser to lock on (more later ) and put anaesthetic drops in them ( and some other ones to dilate your pupils) get the call!
The op takes about 10 mins. You lay back on an operating table and they put more drops in your eyes. Then a little suction cup is put over your eye which they pressurise ( you lose your sight for about 20 secs) You then feel a slight cutting sensation on your eye as a tiny circular saw cuts a circle in the very top layer of your eye - like a layer of cling film - but not quite finishing it. The surgeon then pulls the flap back with some tweezers exposing your cornea. Its all OK though because they give you stress balls to hold haha..
Concentrating on a red light above you they now switch the laser on. This is directly above your eye and bombards the cornea removing a thin layer each time. It is locked onto your eye via the PC and can track and predict your eye movements so it can compensate for them while blasting away. When it gets the cornea to the desired shape it stops. The whole thing takes just over a minute and you donÂ’t feel a thing, but you can smell what effectively is burning tissue ( they tell you its the 'gases' haha).
Oh I forgot to mention that you have eye clips on like Malcolm McDowell in Clockwork Beethoven no Beethoven!
You can’t see to well afterward because of the anaesthetic drops but when you wake up the next morning – god you can’t believe how well you can see!!
I went back for a check-up 4 days later and my eyes are (whatever this means) 2 better than 20/20 vision. Certainly I've never been able to see as well as I do now, with lenses or glasses.
Cost? £1250 per eye but they are currently doing interest free credit - £300 on the day and approx £90 per month for 2 years. There is stuff you can’t do for a while ranging from going to the gym (one week) to boxing (six months). You get drops to put in your eye for a week to prevent infection. It wont help long sightedness which almost all of us get as we get older hehe.
I’ve just put a full carrier bag of lens paraphernalia in the dustbin – I’ve got so much more room in my bathroom cabinet now for facial products! ..

Cursed. [shedir]

I've realised I'm mobile phone cursed. After the 5 t68i's I had through carphone warehouse they exchanged for a nokia 6610. I like the 6610. except for it not working either.

"Insert sim card", people phoning rings twice for them and then cuts out leaving no message, randomly turning off. I'm now on the 4th one of these. T-Mobile deny it's them, CPWH change them on request. End of the day I'm cancelling. Only started the contract in fucking FEB 2003 FFS and I've had to visit their shop far too often.

So once they actually send me a box and manual for it (never got one when I handed in t68i) its ebay bound! Don't let me down ebayers, top $ please :).

But saw this offer in my currant bun, Voda anytime online 100. Bloody cheap rental, good phone. Ideal. Bye bye T-Mobile.

Oh another thing I heard.

T-Mobile have changed their contract setup. If you get a new phone you had a 14/28 day period where you could cancel the lot if it didn't suit you. No longer. Once you start the contact you're stuck with it for the duration. The other part to this is they do not guarantee reception INDOORS, so unless you're a park warder you have no recourse. IMO avoid like the plauge ridden puss addled

Tuesday 4 November 2003

e-doctors? [lurks]

I'm sick right now. The details I wont bore you with but it's a combination of a flu and asthma which makes it really quite difficult to breath. I'm currently having some medication assessed and a new visit booked to see how it's getting on. While I was looking at the doctor file my details in a little opened ended card holder thinggy, it made me realise how backwards they are. They haven't even got patience records computerised yet but there was talk of it not so long ago?
Anyhow, I was thinking also - imagine what a boon it would be if you could actually just e-mail your doctor.

Hello Dr Shipman,
Killed any old ladies lately? Anyhow, it hurts when I pee and last night I fucked a tramp, do you think it's connected? I'm hoping it will go away but so you think I should come in to see you?

I wonder if you can sign up with a private practise to get that kind of service? I mean, you wouldn't treat it as an emergency thing and wouldn't expect a prompt reply but there's plenty of cases where you want a quiet word but you're not going to haul your ass down to the surgery to waste everyone's time.
Right now, I'd quite like to e-mail my doctor and mention that there's been no change in my peak-flow measurement (measurement of lung capacity) even after all the drugs, should I give it until our next scheduled appointment to kick in or is a day enough to tell this isn't working?
I think more accessible heath professionals would be pretty darn cool. Of course there probably is a private quack offering this but since it'd cost a mint and my regular NHS surgery is literally across the road, it's not something I'd realistically do. But there must be others who think along the same lines?

Operation Flashpoint [drdave]

Blimey, it's the mark of a fine, fine game when you can step back into it two years later and be thunderstruck by how good it still is. A fine game such as Operation Flashpoint.
I picked up the Game Of The Year edition (the original, plus the two expansions) from for a paltry 7.99, mainly because I had a hunch that my recently expanded computing machine would give the game the performance I always suspected it would benefit from. And lo and behold, it does. I can now render out to the full distance, with highish details, at 1280x1024, and it all looks magnificent. The Resistance expansion has taken the engine up a notch or two, and while the soldier models might not cut the mustard (or indeed the cheese) when lined up against today's best examples, I would nonetheless confidentally suggest that you would not find a more accurate or imersive representation of an outdoor environment outside of going to the cotswalds and running around in the high grass.
Asthetics aside, the game is every young boy's dream. Every weapon and vehicle that you could possibly imagine is in there, and if it isn't, there'll be an addon somewhere. All lovingly modelled down to the cockpits (which have working altimeters or speedometers). Nothing beats piling your squad into a chinook or loading up an apache and reigning divine retribution on a convoy of soviet BMPs. Hell, even with my russian connections, I still feel a certain guilty pleasure in taking out spetnatz. Better dead than red, eh?
But the best thing by far, and the part that was infuriatingly lacking in the original, is the multiplayer. Luckily, recent patches and expansions have beefed up this side considerably, so its no longer the frustrating exercise in extreme patience that it used to be. Finding a server with folk on is child's play, as is creating a server yourself. There's still the seagull mode problem following death, but a lot of missions now use creative respawning scripts to keep the realism but avoid having dead players swooping around the skies.
Erm, best game evar!

Monday 3 November 2003

Guinness 2 - The Dark Beast Returneth [am]

It's one of those sad facts of life that your PC rig gets to be outdated. Like your favourite family puppy, it's not long before your rig has enjoyed a happy spriteful (arf) youth, has come out the other side of it and is now reduced to weeing incontinently against your desk leg and wagging it's usb-tail feebly unable to fetch the latest dx9 sticks thrown its way by Halo et al. In fact, it brings a nostalgic tear to my eye to recall Mugs building Guinness 1 back in the days where internet games were going to be a professional sport and every teenager in the country had two million squid of VC in their back pocket. Those were my earlier days in 't Death and I remember blogging (afore it were known as blogging) on the demise of Tequila and the rise of the new slavvering dark beast, a Lan Li Aluminium case with a throbbing 1.2athlon, 512megs of sdram and a then brand new (and awe inspiring) original Geforce 3. I think it cost me slightly less than a modest family home at the time.
Well this weekend, [EED]Lurks came round my gaff, having disrupted the entire communications systems of London and taken about two and a half hours to get (t)here and proceeded to twiddle his screwdriver unto my rig and replaced all the serious bits with updated bits. Showing that he not only talks a good game but actually has some reasonably serious hardware skillz too, he sat at the kitchen table ripping wires out hand over fist while I drank beer and said things like 'Quantum assmaster, yes' and 'Uberfloogle capacitor conversionator, yes I see'. Sometime later and with about, literally, two tweaks - The Dark Beast Returneth.
The 2.8 p4 is stiing at 3.2 with a contemptible ease and is happy as Larry under load at about 45c. The asus mobo is fast and flippin useful ('What have you just plugged in my green socket'? It said - 'headphones' I selected by way of reply 'They need to go in the red socket matey' came back the reply - how useful is that eh?). The Radeon 9800pro has got what it needs to run it and a gig of Corsair 3200 DDR400 Ram generally fetches the drinks and hands nuts round at a hell of a clip. Fast? You want 8x anti-aliasing 16x antitropicflooglemongten filtering and 1280x1024 on Max Payne 2 and it still runs like Slim through warm butter? You got it. It benchmarks at 15,500 3dMarks01 without me having bothered to clock the vid card.
I was so delighted we proceeded to go to a club night with Houmous and Di and get so trollied I'm still feeling ill from it two days later. But tonight, I shall cuddle up to the Dark Beast and feel reassured. MWU, dear readers, and indeed AHAHAHHA.

Sunday 2 November 2003

Do The Right Thing [alfa]

So, im gonna get an axe. Not just any axe, but a huge fucking splitting maul.
The reason for this sudden interest in destructive woodland tools is of course tailgaters. I discovered that since the weather is utterly fucked up and i dont have the golfclubs in the trunk anymore i dont feel safe when i slam the breaks to warn some assprobing idiot behind me. There could be several pissed off dopeheads in it, so i need something to guide them to better manners with if an accident occurs. And what could be better than some very sharp, very heavy metal mounted on a piece of prime hickory? Exactly.
I was considering a baseballbat, and i even looked at those lovely cricketbats, but decided that they just dont have what it takes to deter morons. There is always the possibilty that this happens at night, and the above mentioned weapons just aint shiny enough. So an axe it is, and splitting mauls doubles as sledgehammers, so if the subjects are unwilling to understand the seriousness of the situation you can whack em gently on the legs and imobilise them without any blood. Which is a good thing.
I also plan to get one for me apartment, opening the door naked with one over the shoulder should put me on the jehovas witness blacklist for life.

It hurts so much [floyd]

No internet connection at home until the 8th November! My god does it get any worse.

Friday 31 October 2003

Conservative Resurgence II - The Re-Discovered Country? [brit]

As Iain Duncan Smith contemplates his future this morning, the spotlight searches desperately for his successor; a man or woman who must kick start the ailing Conservative Party and more importantly, reset the democratic balance in the House of Commons by acting as an effective and persistent member of The Opposition.
In my mind, the democratic process has never been at such an all time low in this country; the Prime Minister's leadership methodology borders on presidential (some might say dictatorial), which is not the system of government we support here; it is therefore vitally important that The Opposition be led by someone capable of generating the debate, asking the questions and ultimately seeking the answers, that Iain Duncan Smith so singularly failed to do.
It is in all honesty, unrealistic to expect the Conservatives to rally sufficiently to win the next General Election, such is their inherent malaise at this time; instead, it is time for the party that has in fairly recent history become an out of touch political laughing stock to turn it's fortunes around by behaving in a manner consistent with an organisation seeking the ultimate political authority in this country.
Personally, I feel Iain Duncan Smith was rather hard done by; a man who, granted, wasn't the most charasmatic and emotionally charged individual - until his back was against the wall, by which time it was too late - but who nevertheless believed passionately in his cause and who was inevitably brought down by his own party; a party that collectively has something of a penchant for backstabbing.
Much as I hate to admit it, the Conservatives now need another Thatcherite figure, for regardless of your feelings towards her, Margaret Thatcher was one of the most powerful and influential figures of her time; whipping both the Conservatives and indeed the country into (some sort of) shape whilst increasing the UK's world standing a thousandfold. Is this person Michael Howard? I'm not entirely convinced.
As the moment there are three contenders, if the press are to be believed; David Davis (not a chance, too inexperienced and just doesn't have the 'ooomph' factor so desperately needed), Oliver Letwin (even less of a chance, given that this man's political compass is slightly to the right of Hitler) and Michael Howard; the bookies' favourite, and a man with serious political capital.
To wrap up, I'm interested in seeing the Conservatives sort themselves out for one reason only; we need a decent, strong, visible and viable alternative to New Labour - a party which will hold onto power by something approaching default if things are allowed to continue...

Thursday 30 October 2003

Death to the underclasses [lurks]

Now, I'm aware that by reading a cross-section of my blogs and that of the Britmeister General, third party observers may take that view that the good ship EED carries tendencies to the right wing. Perhaps just slightly left to the left of Mussolini. Yet when we've profiled ourselves in the past via a political spectrum profiler (anyone got the link for that?), that's not quite the case.
However little gets the blood boiling more than the work-shy whinging-class scum which pollute the working classes of this country and try desperately, seemingly on a daily basis, to cripple our infrastructure with their bone idle communist ideals. Or more accurately the fact that they believe that money is something which just gets handed out by the State rather than being the blood sweat and tears of those in this country which pay our taxes to make things work.
Following what must be the longest and most rambling pre-amble for a blog since... well Amnesia's last one anyway, I shall finally get to the point. Postal workers. They're on strike. All across London. Again the capital is blighted by this underclass of work-shy peons. Once again, they're going to fuck up their own interests completely with this selfish and uncalled for action, because they're too stupid to step back from their post code pigeon holes and considered the bigger picture. (Can someone help me with a non-football 'own goal' type phrase?)
The bigger picture is this. Their company, that is the renamed Royal Mail (formerly the hilariously named Consignia) is losing a lot of money. By a lot of money, we're talking about a couple of billion quid in the last couple of years. That's about as much money as if you ripped out all of the spleens of the London postal workers and transformed them in a fiction alchemical process into the same weight of Microsoft shares. It's a lot of money.
Previously this group of pestilent baldrick clones had an agreement made through arbitration and approved by their union. Further action had been voted down so those which voted to strike, went on strike anyway and now we have the situation where the post is not working in or out of London and is unlikely to resume in any meaningful way this week either.
Of course, this action is running dangerously close to the point where it's the straw that breaks the camels back and spells commercial suicide for the royal mail. A couple of months back, when I was interviewing a director of for work, he mentioned how they had to take on board another carrier for their deliveries purely because they had no assurance that the Royal Mail would not go on strike (again) and thus they had to take their business elsewhere.
And for what? Because these guys HAD AN AGREEMENT and then walked away wanting more and decided to blackmail the firm by going on strike whether or not their official representation in the form of their very own union, agreed! Of course the union loves it anyway. They get to play it both ways now. They get to be militant but hold up their hands and go 'not me guv'.
This is what this country is coming to. Just like the fuckers that wont do their job on the underground and just like the militant and highly skilled (cough) tube drivers - all of these underclasses of fuckwits, collectively think that money just magically oozes out of automatic teller machines and has no correlation with ensuring that you do YOUR little bit of the equation so that your employer can make money and therefore keep paying you.
It's a massive lapse of logic by these tabloid-reading fucktards. The only solution is to annex some small country in Eastern Europe and repopulate it with the communist fucktards doing their best to destroy our country and our standard of living. Then get some people in who understand the basis ideal of a decent days work for a decent days pay. Then again, if any of these peasants could apply logic and add up, they would have stayed at school and got a proper job I suppose.
Which is why people like you and I have to do the thinking for them.

iTunes [drdave]

So I've been looking for a decent app to use as a library and player for my growing MP3 collection. 6000+ songs at the moment, so finding what I want to listen to is something like fresh hell. I've tried allsorts. Musicmatch, winamp 3, WMP. But to a man they're all a load of toss. I'd long hankered after a version of Apple's vaunted iTunes software - the library program that integrates with the iPod (coming soon to a Dave's Credit Card near you). Well, its finally out and available for us Windows monkeys.
After about a couple of days of fiddling with it, I have to say it is simply brilliant! It imported my tagged up collection of 6000 MP3s in about 5 minutes - compare this with an hour for MusicMatch, 3 hours for WMP. It is easy to navigate, and although it looks way too much like a mac program (so much so that it looks out of place), it is extremely fast. It reorders songs (by artist, album, genre, whatever) without skipping a beat.
It also does smart playlists... now, previously, I hadn't even considered the possibility of smart playlists. Now I'm wondering how I ever did without them. Its so simple that winamp should be kicking itself right about now (if it had legs, and/or was given to bitter self recrimination, which I don't suppose it would be). Just put in a simple pattern ('where Artist contains Marillion'), set some limits ('25, random matching tracks') and Bob's your uncle. Great! Better still, you can conjour up complex rulesets to allow you play your favourite tracks uniformly - tell it to pick all high rated tracks, not played in the last 2 weeks. There you go... you'll never find yourself stuck in a Neil Young rut ever again. Or maybe you're having Pedro Fernandez and his adorable wife around to supper, but you're worried about setting the mood just right... simply create a playlist that picks out all 'latin', 'salsa' or 'mambo' music, and excludes anything with any taste o! r quality.
Potentially best of all (and I hate myself for saying this) is the iTMS. The music store. Though not available in europe at the moment, we're still allowed to browse and listen to samples - like pushing our noses against its metaphorical frosty window and peering longingly at its plump turkey. Its so fast! And nice! Album information, artist discographies, a range of listenable artists that makes eMusic look like a sick faggot.
Simply, it adds value to the internet music shopping experience. Okay, so there's mild DRM involved, but lets be honest, we're not going to get away with the kind of rogueish freedom that eMusic once offered. The RIAA just won't allow it, more's the pity. But Apple seem to have got away with putting in a small amount, but no more - you can still copy to devices, burn to CDs, or even share your playlist over a network. Great stuff. Best of all, they've packed the shopping section with features that are innovative and intriguing, albeit good marketing moves as well.
For example, they've signed up with Pepsi to give away 100 million free songs - find a code in 1-in-3 bottles, enter it into ITMS and download a track - simple, but brilliant. That's going to sell a hell of a lot of fizzy pop, mark my words. Next, they've implemented music allowances - and this is a killer feature! It allows parents to grant their kids, say, $20 a month of music downloads. You can set this to be recurring, automatically charging your CC. Think about it. Done properly, this is the perfect bone to throw the RIAA.
I find myself looking forward to it being rolled out for us lot, and reckon I'll give it a try if they keep the prices right ($9.99 != £9.99 for example).
Give it a go! Its free! Like your first snort of charlie.

Wednesday 29 October 2003

Halo revisiteth [am]

Despite having all my games on my old drive which is in Guinness 2, various one's of 'em are objecting to not finding the key to the game, presumably in the registry. Sounds a bit screwed up to me. But I thought oh well what the hell and reinstalled it having decimated my den to find the box - it was in the desk draw naturally. So given my new uberness, I let Halo configure everything (basically everything on, everything on high) and played through the first few chapters again.
Now this is hardly news but what a resource hog this game is! Every single ounce of my new rig's horsepower is necessary to play it at 1024x768 with all the gubbins. It can do it, but you can tell it's taking every single last slavering ounce. I mean it looks reet purdy and that but it did make me wonder a bit at just how this thing has been coded that a 3.2 p4 and a radeon 9800pro is sweating heavily. Another thing is that interestingly it doesn't seem to want to apply anti-aliaising when set from the mobo (everything still looked jaggy from time to time and in any event the frame rate was slowing). Finally, the oddest thing about getting some decent horsepower is that the Warthog becomes a damn sight more driveable. On my old system, the Warthog was very prone to drifting around and while the oversteer / countersteer thing is still going on, it's now actually feeling like it's gripping. Gone are the days of endlessly bumping into Convenant walls at high speed. I do love the game but I wish they'd coded it for PC and not Xbox first. Death to ports!

Tuesday 28 October 2003

It's time to start the music... [spiny]

.... it's time to light the lights, It's time to get things started, and put some pictures on the members page.

Monday 27 October 2003

Theres always one [pod]

I don't know how many of you goto comedy clubs but I went to one tonight. I really should go more often as I love live comedy. I have tickets for Izzard in december which should be a riot.
Anyway, this one I was at was called Backyard comedy and is owned by lee hurst of 'they think its all over' fame. We got lee 3 times between 3 other acts. They were all imo very very funny. The second guy was called tim vine. If any of you have ever watched 'the sketch show' then hes the blond one.
Now his set consisted of very similar stuff to the sketch show. Lots of quick and daft 1 liners and I mean very daft. Its very silly and good fun. However I suppose its not to every ones tastes.
Case in point was a woman behind me. She hated it. Now I can't care less what she likes but she was determined to tell the world. After every single joke she'd say 'Not funny' or 'Its middle class humor' etc.
After about the tenth time you start to get really pissed off. So you came he! re to laugh and now you want to slap the dumb (and ugly) bitch behind you.
It didn't stop there either. To make her point she then continued as Lee came back and during the third act with comments like 'now this is funny' and 'hes so much better'. Bitch!. Ruined an almost perfect evening. Why couldn't she just shut up.
It happened at the last comedy gig I went to too. Some girls at the front wouldn't stop heckling for no good reason at all. I think it probably put another 30 mins onto the show.

Happy Halloween(ish) - boo! scary! trick! treat! [brit]

Yes, it's nearly time to carve out a pumpkin, put an annoying child in it, and tumble dry the whole thing until Chrimbo! So, in spirit of the season, I give you a picture to get your Halloween Juices flowing!
Click here to see what happened to Grotbags
Editors note: those of you at work with an interesting take on what can and cannot be viewed through the miracle of the Electronic Device in front of you, best not click above.

Trimble; enemy of the peace process? [brit]

Round and round we go...
I think I know how to progress the peace process in Northern Ireland. Let's get rid of David Trimble; a man who whilst a few years ago was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace prize for his work in bringing the IRA to the table, now seems hell bent on ensuring that the conflict continues.
I've no idea why he should be acting in the manner he is, one can only speculate that should peace break out in that blighted corner of the world, Mr Trimble and other limelight-happy politicos will suddenly find the fame lamp switched off, and their profiles reduced.. in short, the conflict continuing suits him and what can only be a fairly huge ego.
Why do I say this? well simply because of his refusal to accept that the IRA is being transparent in it's decommissioning of arms. He is effectively saying to both the IRA and the Canadia general in charge of the decommissioning team (who oversee the destruction of weapons) that he doesn't believe they are doing anything of note; that their secrecy in discharging their obligations under the peace process is preventing the same from going forward.
Absolute crap David. When the General says that the IRA have put beyond use a substantial cache of arms and explosives, you damn well see that as a positive step, and continue the peace talks. You do not respond by informing the IRA that frankly, because they didn't give you an inventory of exactly what they destroyed, that you consider them responsible for the derailment (again) of talks.
Sort your goddamned priorities out Trimble, OR perhaps better for all, make room for someone who actually appreciates that the IRA is doing, and therefore allow the process to continue onward - this totally smacks of someone trying to milk a situation for what can only be substantial future memoirs.

Friday 24 October 2003

Clinton revisited; the Right Stuff(TM) [brit]

For many, President Clinton will forever be known as the man who got caught out by 'that' dress, and 'that' incident with a White House intern; like many influential figures, digressions tend to overshadow their otherwise ground breaking political achievements - in the case of Clinton, his revival of the American economy will always play second fiddle to anything involving Monica Lewinski.
However, unlike many of his predecessors, the man garnered an enormous amount of respect and indeed still has the clout and drive to continue delivering on what in retrospect were unfulfilled promises made during his terms in office - possibly one of the most important is his work to get much needed AIDS medication to Africa; a continent blighted by tribal squabbles, corruption and outstanding ignorance.
It was only very recently that President Mbeki (South Africa) acknowledged that there was an AIDS problem. Recent memory serves incredible reminders of how ignorant people can be - despite hundreds of thousands of his people dying from this disease, he (and his counterparts in other countries) refused point blank to see the truth.
A fantastic bit of news has hit the wires today however that offers some significant hope to those in desperate need of inhibitive and regressive drug therapy - denied them for decades through no fault of their own (a combination of war, drug cost, illiteracy, and political grandstanding has seen hundreds of thousands die before now) - that Clinton has secured a deal with AIDS drug companies to release such drugs to those that need them for less than one third of the cost.
The financial side of things that made this happen are undoubtedly hugely complex, but the important thing is that it has happened; and who knows, maybe now that it is clear that there IS a problem (from the point of view of those who deem themselves worthy of leading such countries) men like Clinton can put their talents to the best use; and help those who cannot help themselves.
Which for my money, is the whole point.

i18 [floyd]

Bah! had a look through the blog list but couldn't see a blog regarding = i18. I do realise some smart arse is going to paste it underneath!! Anyway, I am pretty much sorted now! Booked the days off with work, = sorted prices for cheap flights. It looks like =A3108 to fly to Luton and then = =A318 on the train which will get me to Newbury in 2 hours, so looking to arrive = on the Friday around lunchtime! So what's happening? Who's going? Have we got any 0wnerage arranged or = is it going to be off the cuff?=20

Thursday 23 October 2003

George Galloway exposed! [drdave]

Hello my little passion puppets. As the Doctor of Asstrology in the clan, I feel that I must alert you to a hidden danger that threatens us within the British Isles. As a sekret assvisor to the highest echelons of powah in these fair lands, I have been sworn to secrecy but now I see that the cat is out of the bag in relation to the individual most snappily known to those of us academia as the Labour MP George Galloway.
As you can see, the nation's press is hot on the trail of Mr Galloway's ill-gotten Iraqi gains. The media is claiming that Mr Galloway has received £375,000 of cold hard cash smuggled out of Iraq in through the oil for food program. Initial calculations provided some preliminary evidence that this may be the reason this stinky person was calling upon our troops not to fight in the war.
But my friends, the numbers did not add up. The equations of powah did not balance out. The mathematical and physical law governing the formation of spineless lefty scumbags (Documented in my latest book, available in all Dr Dave's good My Documents folders) has lead to a scientific breakthrough! Let us cry Eureka together my friends!
You see, it's not about the money. It's about the facial hair. Particularly moustaches. Nasty bushy taches with the absence of a full beard as so favored in my academic circles (well not I, I have yet to develop my own facial hair). Hairy Caterpillars is what we are talking about! Broom heads on top lips! Evil bushy turds just under the nose!
Dear reader I put it to you that Labour MP George Galloway was always a paid up member of the camel club and I present for you indisputable evidence!