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Thursday 30 January 2003

Rebot tele! [lurks]

I put in some very basic TV listings in Rebot and that seemed to go down fairly well. Slim then pointed out Radio Times which has a very nice straightforward set of TV and radio listings. I went a little crazy with this stuff and put in some mad TV/radio stuff into Rebot.
First off, we have a basic tv listings feature. The command is just 'tv' and if you don't give a time, it returns what's on now. Optionally you can give it a time in 24 hour format. Here's an example;
rebot tv 01:30
BBC1 (1): Sign Zone: The Life of Mammals, BBC2 (2): Getting It Right, ITV1 London (3): Doomsday Virus, Channel 4 (4): 4 Music: Carling Homecoming, Five (5): NHL Ice Hockey, Discovery Channel (6): Scrapheap Challenge, E4 (7): Faking It, Sky 1 (8): Andromeda, UK Gold (9): Spooks.

Now here's the clever bit, see the numbers in brackets? Well what I've done is cache the unique channel and program id values for any listings display or search. So you use the findlisting command followed by the number, and you'll get a bunch more information about that show. Witness;
rebot findlisting 9
Spooks on UK Gold 12:40am to 1:50am Thursday 30 January:
Drama series set behind the scenes of the modern British Security Service. Anti-capitalist demonstrations are growing in intensity as President Bush prepares to visit the UK. MI5 hero Peter Salter, in a joint operation with MI6, aims to infiltrate a known anarchist's group - but is he really working for the sake of his country, or has he fallen under the spell of an entirely different cause? - Spooks.

Not only that but we also have search features! Search operates for radio and television with findradio and findtelevision commands respectively. Let's take a look;
rebot findtv ER
1. 'ER' on E4, 9:30pm-10:30pm - Thursday 30 January.
2. 'Trauma: Life in the ER' on Discovery Channel, 12:00am-1:00am - Friday 31 January.
3. 'ER' on E4, 12:00am-12:55am - Friday 31 January.
4. 'Wildlife ER' on Animal Planet, 8:00am-8:30am - Saturday 01 February.
5. 'Wildlife ER' on Animal Planet, 9:00pm-9:30pm - Saturday 01 February.

It will show a maximum of 5 hits. The results are cached in the same way so we can obtain some further information for the hit we have;
rebot findlisting 1
ER on E4 9:30pm to 10:30pm Thursday 30 January:
Drama series set in the busy emergency room of a Chicago hospital. Gallant gets upset over the callous treatment his colleagues give to an elderly patient under his care, and confronts Pratt for reporting a suicidal army ranger whose secret Gallant promised to protect. - Official ER site.

Cool eh? I haven't done current listings for radio yet but I'll get around to it. However the search stuff and further listings are available for radio just the same;
rebot findradio funk
1. 'Craig Charles Funk Show' on BBC6 Music, 7:00pm-10:00pm - Friday 31 January.
2. 'Craig Charles Funk Show' on BBC6 Music, 6:00pm-9:00pm - Saturday 01 February.
3. 'Norman Jay Funk Show' on BBC6 Music, 8:00pm-11:00pm - Friday 07 February.
4. 'Craig Charles Funk Show' on BBC6 Music, 6:00pm-9:00pm - Saturday 08 February.

Can't say fairer than that!

Further adventures in house buying [venusxl]

So continuing our theme from yesterday, yet more further proof that this country is full of back stabbing judas cocklords.
Today my solicitors, Shitstain & Co, finally got our searches back and were ready to exchange. Horah - bake a fucking cake. SO I chase up the chain and they say 'horah, we are all ready to move next week' so I let my buying know, she wires her cash at some expense so we can go fot it pronto after such a long wait, and the wheels of ineptness again begin to turn.
Her solicitor releases the paper to mine, mine to the next one and so on. Then we get to the the person beyond the house I am buying and the backstabbing twats change their mind about the date and now want the 28th of Feb!
FFS that's miles away - I'll be in Pink Pimp mode by then and need to be nearer London etc. Half our house is packed already and we have been hanging around for months. Now I respect that they have the right to insist on four weeks but how selfish is that? There are three other parties in the chain all chomping at the bit to move and have been preparing etc and these selfish shits hold it up.
This whole house buying and selling system is royally fucked up. We found the house we're buying, and sold ours, back in October and we'll be moving on the cusp of March. No end of hassles and stress over paper chains etc. Pfft.
This country!

Wednesday 29 January 2003

So it's war then? [lurks]

I want to talk about Iraq. Now before I do, here's an executive summary of the events leading up to today.
Back in September, a mild mannered 72 year-old Swede called Dr Hans Blix was sent into to Iraq as head of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (Unmovic). There he was to act on the latest UN security council resolutions and directly oversee the weapons inspection process. The mandate of this process was the result of the accelerated response to the US and Britain's demand that there be brought some closure to the existing breaches.
This new accelerated timetable is loosly bound under UN Resolution 1441, and this is important because of Iraq is held in material breach of this resolution, then it wont just be the US and Britain backing military action - the UN Security Council wont really have any option but to ratify military intervention.
What Iraq has had to do in order to comply with Resolution 1441 is to provide full and complete documentation on it's entire military capability. It must also document weapons of mass destruction and prove that these are being destroyed - preferably being overseen by Unmovic. What it did was provide a huge document detailing most of what was asked for with a lot of extra smoke and mirrors. It also failed to account for any of the weapons of mass destruction which were previously discovered in Iraq by weapons inspectors before that process ground to a halt thanks to Iraqi non cooperation.
When we say that it fails to account for those weapons, this includes 6,500 chemical warheads and tons of VX nerve gas. These weapons did exist, they were seen. To comply with 1441 they should have been listed in the document with proof that they had been destroyed or Unmovic informed and asked to oversee said destruction. Instead there was no mention whatsoever.
This is actually a material breach of UN resolution 1441. However various moderate UN members have been dead set against the logical conclusion that this would pave the way for military action. That in itself is not surprising since Iraq has been in breach of a great many UN resolutions for the last 11 years.
Now today, we're at the final stage of the implementation of resolution 1441. Hans Blix has made his final report on the state of Iraqi disarmament. The key thing to remember here is that Hans Blix's teams were not in Iraq looking for WMDs or 'smoking guns' as Western media is calling them. They are actually there to oversee Iraqi's disarmament. It seems to me there's a great misunderstanding on what Iraq has been ordered to do. Hans Blix was not supposed to go looking for WMDs, he's supposed to be overseeing the destruction of those which Iraq possessed at the time of the gulf war.
That's what lead Hans Blix to say today;

'Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance - not even today - of the disarmament which was demanded of it.'

So where do we go from here? Various people are calling for more time. They'll get it because it's going to be awhile until forces are in place anyway. Nothing will become of this, probably Iraq will start getting antsy and obstructive as they ready for conflict and the weapon inspectors will need to pull out. This is most likely to happen inside of a month.
Now what? The UN security council is comprised of 5 permanent members. These guys have veto, ultimately, in military action. That's the UK, Russia, France, China and of course the United States. Let me tell you what happens. If there is a motion for military action; the UK and USA will go 'Yes'. Russian and China will grumble away and abstain their vote. France will also complain bitterly but ultimately vote 'Yes'.
So that's the permanent five resolved. Now all that is required is the rest of the 9 votes. There's ten elected members of the security council. Given the 3 votes on the permanent five, that leaves 6 more votes required. Here's the other members; Germany, Guinea, Mexico, Pakistan, Spain, Syria, Angola, Bulgaria, Cameroon and Chile.
Without writing an even longer blog on the reasons, here's how I predict how the temporary security council voting will go; Germany will vote no. Guinea, Mexico, Pakistan and Spain will vote yes. Syria will probably vote no. Angola, Bulgaria, Cameroon and Chile will probably vote yes. That's 8 yes votes most likely with the 3 on the permanent 5 as well taking it to 13 votes. Motion carried. War.

Tuesday 28 January 2003

CENSORED BY #EED [venusxl]

God this country is pissing me off at the moment. Not just the normal shit like Popstars TV shows etc but proper annoying shit. Mainly my solicitor. You see Mrs venusXL and I have been trying to move since OCTOBER and still have not exchanged contracts. When we looked into house buying/selling we knew it was going to be hassle but by being prepared we hoped to avoid it. Foolish children. When selecting a Solicitor I rang around them all and got quotes. As many of you would do, we went with the cheapest. These guys, Shitstains & Co. were half the price of anyone else so it seemed a bit too good to be true. I rang again and asked why so cheap - 'Because we only do house work sir - we specialise and therefore can save cash'. Sounds reasonable so away we went...
Well to cut a long story short - they are incompetent worms. Sub-human scum. Pondlife. They lie and mislead us all the time and have absolutely NO customer service skills. They don't not apply for things when they say they have and then lie about it. You may have gripes with my current employers, but we really are a punter focused company. It amazes me to encounter one so shit at it and still in business. The problem is there is no e-pinions site about these wankers.
Any suggestions on warning the world from using these people? There doens't seem to be a opinions site on Legal firms warning you not to use them, yet they provide a important service.
We will be complaining to the Law Society after its all done.
So talking about shit customer service peons brings us neatly onto your favorite firm; NTL. Now Shitstains & Co have finally sorted out our move I can call NTL to arrange to get my TV and net etc all moved on the same day. Call up, listen to robot for option 'Moving house click 4', get through to peon and he needs to pass me off to the moving dept (I thought that was the point of the options!). So wait 11 mins (yes I timed it, it gives you something to do when you call NTL) and get through to lady who takes my details then says she can't help as I am moving to another franchise area!
ARGHHH! This country!!!!
I then politely gave her my opinion in this i.e. I don't care - I called NTL as I have kindly decided not to go with Sky/BT and I want NTL to thank me and arrange it all for me with no hassles. In fact the lack of hassles was the deciding factor in sticking with these worms, I have heard many moans from folks trying to co-ordinate the installation of BT Telephones, Sky TV and then BT Broadband and decided the easier life was sticking with NTL.
So that's the competitive state of play in the UK now - we make choices based on whom we perceive to be least shit!
This blog has been CENSORED by evil [EED]Amnesia who is protecting the vested interests of his CORRUPT profession!

Hands off the BBC! [lurks]

We've all had a bit of a moan at the BBC in recent times. It's a dinosaur that increasingly combines the worst of the public sector (horrible inefficiency) with the worst of commercial (dumbing down, ratings driven) broadcasting. Yet for all that, in recent times they've embraced digital television and the Internet and started to bring us services which we do use.

Yet apparently there's a tosspot Labour MP up in leafy lane the sticks which is advocating that the BBC scrap all digital activity. This bloke actually sits on the media select committee, here's a class quote;

'It is outrageous how much the BBC spends, unchecked by its pathetic board of governors, on its internet sites'

Presumably it spends more than the taxpayers does on his site and that can't possible be fair eh Derek?

I don't know what model this imbecile thinks that Britain should follow but clearly he places no value on having a whole range of minority content services in the media supported by the State. He obviously places no value on high quality content at all or at least believes that somehow commercial operators are suddenly going to start broadcasting unbiased news, minority and educational programming and other world-class content on their own account.

I think the BBC definitely needs a clean up. I think it probably ought to be broken up to some degree and budgets more tightly reigned. It think it could benefit from some private sector work ethic but similarly I think that it needs to realise it's not a strictly commercial operator and has certain obligations to uphold. I'm particularly annoyed at the yearly axing of science output in favor of me-too reality TV shite like Fame Academy.

However digital channels and Internet content should be the thrust of the state's subsidy for the benefit of the nation! Let's not let ignorant technophobe labour zombies ruin one of the greatest assets of the country eh?

Friday 24 January 2003

Decent telly? [lurks]

This here is a blog about television. If you've seen any good stuff on TV that you're enjoying, post it here. I stare at the schedule and nothing takes my fancy at all but I'm sure there's buried gems. I stumbled across a couple over the last couple of weeks.

Firstly, BBC1 has a law drama on called Trust. It's BBC production and it is, bizarrely, corporate law rather than criminal. It's good though, really good. Check it out, I think it's on Thursday night.

Next up, show that was on last night on the Discovery channel called Thunder Races. Reminiscent of Scrapyard Challenge/Junkyard Wars, they give three teams £800 and they have to buy a wreck and do it up into a rally car. Then race the rally car around a pretty gruelling course. Unlike the former programs, the presenter actively riles up the teams (in the same garage) to get a sense of competition going. It works well and I love the way he just comes up to people slacking and gives them shit. It's on Mondays at 8.

Other than that, not much. I see World is Not Enough is on tonight on ITV - doubtless the last half hour interrupted by the News. I see BBC1's Red Cap drama is on tonight as well, it's about military police based in Germany. I only saw one episode and it was so-so, anyone else like it?

So what you lot watchin'?

Thursday 23 January 2003

Phillips EXP511 MP3 CD player [shedwork]

I'll get the hang of this soon.
OK got this as a replacement for the goodmans the wife got me for xmas. Fantastic player tbh. £75 at amazon.
You can even get firmware upgrades for it! Very neat, reads CDR and CDRW. Stores up to 2000 favourites across your mp3 CD collection. Wee remote has a tie clipon, which goes onto my jacket of course, so you can change album/track easily.
ID3 tags scroll across the face of it to help you keep track of what you're listening too, not on the remote though, but it's not backlit so bit of a prob there.
All in all for the money it's damn fine, audio quality is superb with 480 seconds of anti shock protection. So even in an earthquake I can listen to da blues.
That is all, you have the link see for yourself!

xbox + modchip = shuttle beater? [shedir]

OK then. I got a freebie xbox for a wee homer and had it chipped. Mainly for a living room entertainment centre than a games console.
Slayer evox installer 1.5 is a godsend. Edit the .ini file and take the format bits out, plus line before that to configure the partitions. Burn as UDF 8.3 and boot. Install, you have evoX!!!
Once evox is installed configure the IP section to static and hook it up to your PC. You can then FTP to it. Things to add
  1. Media player 2.2
  2. PAL / NTSC selector
  3. MAME

Edit the evox.ini again once you decide it you want it to autoplay dvds or games. NB DVDs play with RegionX (dongle free so no hassle there)
Media player 2.2 is superb, streams movies / mp3s / images from your 'server(s)'. You can either use relax server for this, or windows shares (only in media player 2.2)
I've found it to be a great, realtively quiet solution to my needs for the living room, you lose xbox live of course. But there's a proggy called xbconnect, which can let you play link games over the net. I've not tried it myself yet, but looking at it's gamespy allike interface, plenty of folks are.

Wednesday 22 January 2003

Help a man with broadband! [lurks]

My mate Salad has just got broadband. Being a healthy lad, he's turned his attention to the burning question of how to make best use of all that new throbbing bandwidth waiting to be tapped. So, what's the best sort of porn then? :)

Slim likes his japs but I think it's a bit weirdy, they look cute but lay back motionless making noises like they think they're in pain. It seems more likely he likes that because the jap men have tiny little todgers and that makes him feel good about himself.

I've got to say, I really just don't fancy porn any more. It all seems to formulaic and the 'actresses' may as well be chatting away smoking while some bloke pounds them, as convincing as they are.

Then again I'm not an avid collector of animal vids like Spiro and water sports like Dr_Dave. Maybe I'm missing out on where it's at?

Got a nav bar? Then PAY UP BITCHES! [brit]

Oh here we go again; another fucked up mindless patent case in the States.

This time round, it's navigation bars.

Yes thats right, supposedly if you use a navigation bar on your website, or ANY persistent navigational control (like we have here) we are in breach of the patent and hence, due to pay royalties to the patent owner [a crowd called SBC Communications].


What next eh? some dumb fuck going to patent eating? or drinking? or using the loo?

The American patent system (a WHOLE separate topic) is *SO* fucked up its beyond funny. If the company who own this patent were to suddenly find themselves accidentally nuked by Pappa Bush, I for one would grin like a Cheshire cat.

Lame ass fucks.

So they've gone after a site called (note they haven't entered into the same discussion with Microsoft or AOL) - a diddy site that they feel they want to test the water with.

Lame ass fucks.


Click here to see just how thick SBC Communications are

Monday 20 January 2003

Of cloned babies and lizard men... [brit]

'Clonaid and the Raelian Sect.'

No, not a Disney film for kids (with hilarious adult-only nuances) but a revisitation of a state of affairs which last existed in 1939 - the conducting of experiments on human beings.

Let's be quite clear - IF Clonaid are engaged in the practice of delivering cloned babies, their ethics and staff are straight out of something Josef Mengele would have approved of.

I cannot believe that this story has all but vanished from the mainstream press; the very thought that an organisation funded by a cult who believe we are all cloned by lizards from outer space is engaged in such activities is frightening.

There are simply loads of reasons why fuckwittage such as this should be stamped on.

This is not properly organised, properly controlled stem cell research for example.

The leader of the Raelian Sect, appropriately enough named Rael, got (allegedly) hounded out of France by the authorities. Frankly, I'd have preferred him locked up - over here we have the most excellent and most flexible Section 38. Still, getting hounded out of France should have alerted people to *something*

So now we're faced with the prospect that a group of utterly ridiculous dumbasses with serious cash to throw around are meddling in things which could prove completely disastrous.

Shut down Clonaid, investigate the bastards to within an inch of their lives and generally make them look even more stupid than they already manage themselves.

David Ike is a Raelian.. says it all really.

Anti War Sentiment; am I the only one? [brit]

So, anti-war is bad eh?

Not wanting to 'thumbs up' the inevitable reality of unleashing the world's most powerful war machine is bad?

Frankly I'm astounded; but I shouldn't be - it is a sad yet common state of affairs that rather than question the motives of a nation hellbent on remaining the planet's only superpower, the majority of the populous resign themselves to the position of Armchair General, awarding themselves a silent pat on the back each time Kate Adie reports on another crushing defeat of the Chaps Out East.

Fresh from another Daily Mirror briefing, they expound their theories on socio-geo-political decline in the Middle East, happy in the knowledge that armed with the latest BBC News bulletin, they can make a sound judgement on what could well be the precursor to an exchange only dreamt of by those who plan for nuclear holocaust.

Yet they 'thumbs down' the anti-war 'brigade'.

Having read through various online postings, it's quite clear that the Barnes Wallis crowd are desperate to see the Bush & Blair dream fulfilled; to splice that Axis of Evil at it's core, and let the infusion of coalition-led democracy rid Iraq of Saddam's cancerous tyranny.

And they do so with open arms; justifying their singular desire with flashbacks to September 11th 2001 and the popular reportage of constantly uncovered terrorist cells.

Yet laughably, they base their diatribes on a mass media so caught up in it's own desire to lead the charge into Bagdhad that they are actually helping to censor themselves; to shield their minds from anything approaching a balance of evidence, and in so doing ensuring that this cyclical state of affairs will continue long past the fall of Hussein and his regime.

Let me give you an example:

The UN weapons inspectors found 11 empty shell casings in a bunker south of Bagdhad. These shell casings were designed to fit inside a 110mm artillery piece and send chemical or biological agents into enemy lines. The 12,000 page document delivered to the UN by Iraq failed to declare them.

Anyone arguing that the presence of such items is a sufficient reason to green light General Franks & Co. is a fool; the Americans maintain such weapons themselves, having singularly failed to comply with the Chemical Weapons Treaties on the grounds of 'National Defence'.

If having these weapons is a reason to invade, then America should be added to the Axis Of Evil register.

Anyone arguing that the fact they weren't declared is a sufficient reason to green light General Franks & Co. is a fool; after all, two factors abound here: firstly, the Americans removed 4,000 pages from the Iraqi declaration before letting anyone else near it (fact) and secondly - 11 empty shell casings undeclared in a country the size of Iraq? How many times have you forgotten where you left your TV remote control? Chances are, they weren't inventoried, so forgotten, so not declared.

Anyone arguing that Saddam Hussein wants to use these 11 shell casings to bring terror and death to The West is a fool; and dangerously delusional. These are battlefield assets; completely unsuitable for anything else, and unless it's possible to smuggle a 110mm self propelled artillery piece past customs, unlikely in the extreme.

And finally, I'll draw your attention to the effect this discovery had on BBC News 24.

When this story first broke, the report was quite clear. 11 empty *shell* casings. Within 10 minutes, BBC 1 was running it's news with 'UN Weapons inspectors discover rockets capable of delivering WMD agents'. Within a further 10 minutes, a BBC News 24 reporter glibly described them as *missiles*.

This is, quite simply, unqualified bullshit - churned out by a media who have ditched any vestige of journalistic integrity as the smell of blood to be had (and the awards-friendly opportunities it will bring) rises in their collective nostrils.

I have no doubt that Bush will sign his Executive Order, and I have no doubt that before then ink is dry the first tanks will roll heroically across the vast dunescapes; respective commanders itching to pummel the Hussein machine with as many SABOT rounds as is possible to deliver before breakfast.

Yet it will do no good. The instant Bush picks up his pen, his Joint Chiefs hovering over various secure communication lines, he will have further added another entry in the Journal of Hate currently being kept by an increasingly vocal and daring Arab world.

If seeking to avoid a war based on one man's determination to avenge 'Dad', or seeking to avoid a war based on the wanton corporate gluttony of a nation beset by domestic problems so huge as to defy belief, means I'm somehow less of a man, then fine.

I'd rather be less of a man than an ignorant Armchair General incapable of thinking, let alone standing, on his own two feet in a world where independent thought, accountability, and integrity is being steadfastly destroyed by a Western 'democracy' doing it's best to hide it's own internal demons behind the facade of a war nobody can afford to take part in.

Both anti-war and pro-war have one thing in common; despite their ability to polarise a debate beyond use within 15 seconds - they both agree that war is inevitable.

A more sorry state of affairs I cannot think of.

Sunday 19 January 2003

Robbie Williams gets brain bypass [lurks]

This is just too good. The BBC is reporting that Robbie Williams reckons piracy is great. Here's what he said exactly;

'I think it's great, really I do. There is nothing anyone can do about it. I am sure my record label would hate me saying it, and my manager and my accountants.'

Well no kidding genius. This is the guy that got an £80,000,000 contract out of EMI (and people were already calling into question how he could ever sell enough records to justify it). Then he sits back and says piracy is great, seemingly only because no one can do anything about it?!

Do you get the impression this bloke is living in a strange dream world where money just grows on trees? Had he said stuff like how the scene gets loads of acts heard that ordinarily wouldn't, then I'd have some time for him. But then he's a classic low brow shite pop act which is precisely the sort of act that would suffer from the only good thing about music piracy.

Madness, utter madness. His record company ought to dump him and sign someone else up that knows just how they get (over)paid. What a moron.

Steamed turd [lurks]

Valve Software. You might recall them from the distant past when they made a good little PC game called Half-Life. Ever since, well, we're not sure exactly what they're doing since they stopped making noises about the ridiculously delayed Team Fortress 2 a long time ago. More recently they've taken it upon themselves to ruin Counter-Strike. They took the mod, created by a coupla lads in their bedroom, on board and fucked it up completely by making all the guns recoil all over the place and screwed with the netcode. So we collectively left the CS scene.

Given there's been a considerable drought of good PC multiplayer games, CS has remained insanely popular and we've returned to check it out for a bit on every point release. You know, we download a CS and possibly a Half-Life update. Maybe put up a server. Have a bit of a run around and get a feel for what's changed. We thought it would be a good idea to do that with CS 1.6 since it seems there's some good changes, giving frags for bombing and defusing. Some cheaper weapons changing the balance of the early games and a funky riot shield too!

OK so what do we need to do, just download it? Well, err, no. Valve have constructed this abortion of an application called Steam. This is some sort of combined content delivery system, server browser and friends list. Despite the fact that no one wanted or needed any of this stuff, this is what you must use if you want to play Counter-Strike.

In short, the application is a biggy steamy (ho ho) pile of excrement. When running it, it frequently just blows out indicating that Valve don't have the server resources (or expertise in running high load content servers) to run the system anyway. After 50 attempts at running it, stalled updates of random dlls, you might get in. Then you register an e-mail address and 'subscribe' to the games you want.

Of course in the process the application is likely to crash a half dozen times. There's absolutely no information on what the application is doing other than kiddy descriptions like 'Preparing to play game'. Apparently I needed to launch a game on one of the servers in the browser (even though I don't want to use their browser) to get it to update the CS. I get some sort of preparing message and a lengthy full HD thrashing file scan of my Half-Life install. Then it says updating but it takes 20 minutes before it even tells me how long it's going to take.

It took around 3 hours on my 1 megabit broadband connection which is not exactly good. The only way I knew it was downloading at all was to monitor the traffic on my router. Then when all this was done, I try to get into CS and it just says it's unavailable. Grrr.

So next day I try again, again loads of failed to connect to servers, connections reset by peer and other clear indications that Valve can't run servers. Eventually I get in. So I try to launch a game, whereupon it runs CS/HL full screen in 640x480 with some progress bar half way through telling me preparing game resources or somesuch. Alt-tabbing refuses to release my screenmode, bring up the task manager and CS/HL is listed as not responding so I nuke it.

Slim tells me that apparently it's still downloading because the system tray icon is animated. Uh huh great, I wouldn't know otherwise, it doesn't say anything. So two days later I still can't get in and I've got some system tray application downloading at 8k/s.

Oh my god, what a joke this is! Beta? Fucking alpha! It's a fundamentally flawed system right the way from their content servers through to the buggy application itself. Valve seem incapable of realising that I do not WANT some permanent buggy application in my system tray downloading stuff at ridiculously slow rates. I don't know whether the goal is to combat cheating or charge for game subscriptions or whatever, I just don't care.

How can Valve go from creating something like Half-Life through to devoting their every waking minute to fucking up one of the few successful online multiplayer games? What a farce! They clearly have no talent for this type of development so why on earth don't they just leave things be and actually go finish Team Fortress 2 for fuck sake?!

Friday 17 January 2003

Spiro can't drive blogging [spiro]

I'm so totally addicted to Battlefield 1942 now that I find myself really excited about the new expansion pack 'Road to Rome'

This will include 6 new maps:
Operation Husky
Operation Baytown
Operation Anzio
Battle of Salerno
Monte Cassino
Monte Santa Croche

8 New Vehicles:
German Sturmgeschutz
German BF110
German AT gun PAK 40
US M3 Grant
British Mosquito
British AT gun 25 pounder
Italian M11-39 Carro Armato

3 Weapons:
Italian Breda Model 30 Assault Rifle
British Sten Machinegun
Bayonet - Engineer rifle only

Screenshot of these can be found here

Two new armies are also being introduced, French and Italians.

New anti tank guns being issued should make defending a position against assault a lot more interesting. A new form of lameness is springing up in the form of enemy tanks hiding in your aircraft hanger taking advantage of the weenies standing waiting for a plane (don't have a problem with that). My problem comes with the fact that whilst in there they are being repaired constantly (enemy hangers shouldn't repair) and wasting equipment. Its not impossible to kill them, just takes a few team mates to gang up and take them out. But I can't see the point, I only play CTF and camping like this with valuable equipment isn't helping your team to capture the flag. With the new AT guns teams should be able to discourage this.

Don't take my word for it check out this short movie and tell me you're not a little excited. 'Road to Rome' is expected out in the middle of February, perfect valentines present.

I know a few of you have tried the new mod Desert Combat I've yet to install this mod so can't comment, whats it like, is it worth a go ?

Recipe: Ninja Turbo pizza [lurks]

Right bitches, here's something new since you asswipes never do blogs. Here's how to make the ultimate pizza. You'll need a bread machine to make the dough, no shit from Tescos! You'll need a pizza tin of course, I use a funky one with crisping holes in it. You can monkey around with the topping all you like, this is my Ninja Turbo pizza which uses the same principals to make superb restaurant beating pizza for zero money.

Dough ingredients:

100gr Wholemeal flour
250gr Strong white flour
2 tblsp olive oil
1/2 tblsp sugar
1 tsp salt
200ml milk
1/2 tsp rapid yeast

Topping ingredients:

Crushed garlic
Tomato base

First off, the biggest difference between pizza is the dough. You can pretty much do what you like on the topping but of course, I highly recommend the Turbo Ninja pizza recipe above. So to make the dough, you use the dough program on a bread maker. You could also do it by hand if you were a masochist.

In the the breadmaker pan goes all the dough ingredients above. You can skip on the wholemeal flour if you like, that's an invention of mine which I prefer for a zingy base. You could also substitute butter for the olive oil and use a table spoon of powdered milk with 200ml of water instead of the milk, if you like. If you're a bender. My breadmaker will whisk this up in 45 minutes. Check the water content of the dough, if it's too dry and wont quite cling to your fingers, then pitch a bit more water in.

Now we get to the fun bit. Lightly flour a surface and tip the dough out. It isn't necessary to do the hand spinning that pizzerias do although I do, since I once worked in one ten years ago :) Instead just roll out the dough into a rough flat circle with a rolling pin. Then pop that in a pizza tray. Now you can roll it to the edges of the tray and use your fingers to push it up a bit at the edges for that nice bulgy crust.

I personally can't be arsed faffing about making a tomato base so I use those el-cheapo tomato pasta sauces you get from the shops. Strictly speaking, the Turbo Ninja pizza demands a third of a jar of Lloyd Grossman Tomato and Chilli sauce but you can use what you like. A third of a jar is just about right or you risk getting soggy. Pitch on the crushed garlic too and use a spoon to spread it around leaving an inch around the edges free of sauce. Unless you want messy fingers!

Now it's just a matter of pitching the rest of the ingredients on. If you want a pizza hut type pizza, you want plenty of grated mozarella which you can also easily get from the shops. We're talking a full half bag of the shit. Don't guy buying expensive buffalo moz ffs. Now it's just a matter of pitching on some finely sliced mushrooms, I like the big sort so they're easy to slice. Chillis if you're a man although you can slice capsicum if you're a pussy. The authentic Turbo Ninja specification demands chillis of course.

Now if you want some onion on, the trick is to have that sliced very thinly, don't put a lot on. And put it near the top of the toppings, don't bury it. Or it'll end up too crunchy. Pepperoni goes on top. Then you slam dunk the rest of the topping with cheddar and some grated italian/parmesan. Then slap on some pepper and oregano.

You should have a pretty wicked looking pizza now. Grating cheese directly onto it is the go, then wipe the inch around the edge clean of topping. Now, here's what I do given my kitchen is cold at the moment, pop the pizza into the oven and chuck it on uber low for a bit. Just to heat the oven up. We're doing this to rise the pizza dough. Not too hot or you'll start cooking it. We're talking 1 min on low. Then walk off and leave it in the (off) oven for half an hour to rise.

It should have risen nicely. Take it out, preheat the oven to pretty damn hot. We're talking about 210C or so in a fan forced. The preheating is important here. Then when it's up to temp, slap in the pizza on the bottom shelf. Yep, the bottom. Now you need to keep a close eye on the pizza. Somewhere between 15-20 mins is all it will take to cook. Make sure you don't overcook or it will be like a brick!

Bingo, that's the Turbo Ninja pizza. A *shit* load better than anything you could order from a pizza joint and it wont cost you a tenner either!

One last thing, if you want to make more than one it's a bit tricky since your breadmaker probably wont double on on the dough. So pop the first dough into an oiled plastic bag and slap it in the fridge. When you've made the pizzas and put them in the oven, swap their shelf positions half way through cooking. It's a faff but you can make it work :)

Sunday 12 January 2003

Rebot [slim]


Thursday 9 January 2003

Operation ATLAS swings into action [brit]

You'd be amazed how differently America is handling the war with Iraq, compared with the UK.
I flew back from New York this morning (arriving 8.40am our time, in work by 9.10am - go figure) having spent 3 days attending various head shed meetings at DDB Worldwide (the global agency that own my ass) and thought I'd tell you about Operation ATLAS.
Literally 5 minutes after the tomahawk missiles were launched from USS Bunker Hill (an Aegis air defence cruiser in the Red Sea), the most awe inspiring civilian protection programme went into overdrive.
National Guard in their hundreds appeared on the streets of New York; 1,000 extra police with armoured trucks and mobile command posts closed down the bridges, tunnels and other approaches to Manhatten.. anything bigger than a family saloon was stopped and searched.
And nobody minded.
It took 25 minutes to drive to the hotel from JFK airport on the way IN, but nearly 2.5 hours to get OUT because of all the checkpoints. People didn't get irate, they didn't toot their horns madly, they openly agreed with the policy and had immense faith in their government and more locally, the governor of New York who, along with Conneticut and Maryland (I think) is spearheading an immense tri-state security operation at a cost of US$5m a day.
Can you imagine if this happened in the UK?
There would be public outcry of enormous dimensions; not to mention that fact that we simply couldn't do it with our immensely overstretched civilian and military authority resources.
What struck me above all else is the fact that despite the roads being full of police cruisers with their lights going, and 18 year old National Guardsmen in full kit walking around, life continued as normal.
You can still buy pretzels from street vendors, you can still stand in Time Square and enjoy the atmosphere, you can still spend a lovely evening in a fabulous restaurant, or go ice skating in Central Park - and you're not alone; the City That Never Sleeps is now adding The City That Continues Regardless to it's many accolades.
Incidentally, there is absolutely no hiding the absolute and perhaps deserved hatred of the French. TV pundits from CNN downwards are openly criticising the Chirac administration; and no expense is being spared to dig out the financial reasons behind France's decision to debunk the war.
Did you know France has a US$50bn contract with Iraq to export it's oil? Did you know France owns 90% of all of Iraq's oil infrastructure maintenance rights?
Contracts which are worth nothing now, since once Hussein is removed, all previous bets are off.
I have an immense feeling of kinship with our American cousins; and I for one having spoken at length with New Yorkers about everything from '9-Eleven' onwards and believe wholeheartedly that the war with Iraq is 100% justified.

Tuesday 7 January 2003

Nokia in sucking shocker [lurks]

Strikes me that all of Nokia's victories in the mobile phone arena involve making pretty simple phones that just work. You know, making calls, SMS and crap like that. They work, they're solid, the SMS stuff pretty much wrote the book on how to do it properly. Can't really go wrong.

Unfortunately every time they try to add gadgets and hocus pocus, the Fins go horribly horribly wrong. The first being the 7110, which while the whole 'chock' thing ruled, the err WAP shit and general doing stuff really really sucked. You think they'd learn their lesson?

Well yes because they went back to making a load of really good phones like the 6210 and stuff like that. Again nothing fancy just phones that worked. Then the 7210 happened. This is that nifty picture phone thing with the nifty slidey openeny thing. Yeah only err, it doesn't fucking work does it.

What's up with these goons? Basically if you were gonna buy a Nokia, you'd buy a no-nonsense phone and not one of their cutting-edge lifestyle abortions.

The thing is, I reckon the picture phone is a real revolution. Eventually every phone will have them, it'll just be too cool not to have. Mine you, I wont touch one so long as they want a tenner a month and 50p a message just to send the damn things!

Monday 6 January 2003