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Thursday 27 February 2003

Transplants for pets! [lurks]

Well it turns out that today it seems likely that the law will change making it legal to perform transplants on pets. Initially cats. Of course all the unwashed vegetarian animal-lovers are up in arms. You see while it might save one animal, the donor is likely to be some stray that would otherwise be put down.
Now I also think that transplants are pretty ridiculous. You're talking about a permanent drugs regime to keep the animal alive after that. It's just a goddamn animal ffs, get a new one. However of course I differ dramatically from the animal shagging hippies on the reason for disagreeing with the practise. I mean if you're going to kill a stray anyway, what's the harm? Oh no, it's a moral issue you see because the stray couldn't volunteer. The fucking thing is going to die anyway, what's up with using a bit of gristle from it's innards?!
Personally, since such an operation is going to cost around £8,000 - I say let them do it. It's just yet another stupid tax. Fortunately I think most pet-owners will realise this is a step too far and let their beloved pet die in a dignified manner.

Where do you stand? [slim]

In a confused political world, where do you stand? Do you even remember? I'm not sure I do, so I welcome the assistance of teh interweb to help me...

Wednesday 26 February 2003

Freelancer [slim]

Gosh it's fun :) Reminds me a lot of Hardwar (remember us wooting about that all those years ago?) mixed in with a single player Earth and Beyond. You've got back story, places to visit on planets, trade, all the kind of things you'd expect from a modern elitealike. There's a load of background info around, and the news system keeps the plot nice and complex and also touches on the trading system too, giving suggestions on what might be welcome in certain areas, etc.
You can do all the other stuff you'd expect to, take missions and jobs, trade, buy equipment and buy new ships etc. Visuals are nice, but not cutting edge. Do the job though. Acting's actually pretty good too, amazing.
Seems to have three main modesof play. A plot mission mode, where you're doing stuff that advances yourself and the games plot, where you're fairly tightly on rails doing certain things. A freelancer mode where you can do what you like, and a mission mode where you've taken a mission and you're off to sort that out.
There are some oddities. Like generic scripts where you talk to people, they say this standard dialog acted out, then say 'here's what you're after' and you get a screen full of text. Bit cheap like, but I suppose it's needed if you've a huge amount of info/missions.
Flights a bit Earth and Beyondie too, but a bit more interactive thank god. You sort of point the mouse where you want to go and the ship follows. You can turn on regular flight too if you need to with a quick keypress, handy to switch between normal flight and combat like this. Combat is fun, nice and fast, old elite style silly phyisics dogfighty stuff rather than frontier, but it works well. Nice clear hud and targetting system too.
So far a woot, hope it stays that way.

Monday 24 February 2003

Chris Morris: Genius! [drdave]

This is brilliant. It's a version of Bush's State Of The Union Address that Chris Morris (Brasseye, The Day Today) has put together:
It is, quite simply, a work of genius. I freely admit that I came within a gnat's chuff of soiling my good slacks when I watched it. Enjoy.

Sunday 23 February 2003

DisaSTAR [spiny]

Well, now it's happened to me :( The infamous click of death killed my 30Gb IBM drive where I keep my install stuff & half my MP3 collection. I wish I knew it before, but there's a firmware update available to extend the life of the drives. Sigh.
Still, as they say, 'no backup, no job' ;) Fortunateley I copy my mp3s to CDR for listening to at work so I'm covered there. The pain in the aspidstra has just been downloading a months worth of patches since I last backed up my installs. Nevermind, nearly done.
On the bright side the Western Digital 120Gb arrived, which I've installed XP on & imaged with ghost. Gonna set this one up properly with a acounts for all the family & a proper backup strategy :)

Saturday 22 February 2003

Blog from web works again [lurks]

You can now use the blog from web feature again, after much hounding the slack arses fixed it. Now you can do loads more blogs eh? Cool!

1942 funnies! [slim]

Enjoy em:

Tuesday 18 February 2003

Big up the Blair [lurks]

I don't really want to get into the war on Iraq thing again because it'll probably end up with a slagging match with EED's various screaming lefties. However, I'd like to point something out which I think is a valid point regardless of which side of the fence you are on. Blair has stuck to his guns. This being the man that critics had accused of having no policies and not sticking up for his beliefs.
Ordinarily, when faced with the largest public demonstration in British history, one would expect a politician to U-turn rapidly. He's stuck to his guns and he's taken a big hit in the opinion polls as a result. As a politician there's nothing for him to gain by going against the wishes of the people.
Poll wise, the British public are still divided. Most women don't want a war in Iraq. Most men do but there's little between it. Blair is still banking on being able to convince people it's the right thing to do. This is the sort of thing which in my opinion has been so lacking in politics of the past.
In stark contrast, there's Charles Kennedy, leader of the Liberal Democrats. As I've indicated before, I have a lot of time for the Lib Dem policies but this mans actions during this time I have found deplorable. He's been a mess of inconsistent messages and he just smacks of trying to pick up some cheap votes by piling into the No War camp.
That's the easy thing to do, turn up with the demonstrators and rant at the government. The hard thing is to stand up and try to convince the British public why they should go to war. That said, I don't think it's ultimately going to do Blair any favors. No doubt people will continue to claim that he'd rather listen to Bush instead of the British people.
I think history will be more kind to him in retrospect.

Top comedy on Five [lurks]

I write this with tears in my eyes. In a good way. Because I've just finished watching 'All New Comedy Store' on channel 5. It was a bunch of stand up from a variety of comics, only one of which I had seen before. The quality varied but they obviously wanted to finish big with this superb Canadian comic. Seems like it's on tomorrow night too so you should check it out!

Monday 17 February 2003

Web server upgraded [lurks]

You might notice is just a tinsy bit faster to put it mildly. Apparently Slim got the bottle to upgrade the Linux kernel and obviously replace something that was stinky. All this is ace but unfortunately the web blog comment stuff is broken, as indeed is all Dodgy Brit Technology at the moment :)
I guess we'll fix it at some point. In the mean time, use the comment facility by e-mail.

L33t music revisited [vagga]

Out with my housemates last Saturday we went to the cool 'Bar and Dining House' on Essex Road in Islington. It's a regular haunt of ours, cheap shots and downstairs they play all kinds of danceable music from the 60's thru the Happy Mondays to normal 'modern' music. Late in the night I was suffering a bit from the Tequila shots for =A32 promo and was not paying a huge amount of attention to the music. All of a sudden they seemed to turn up the music a bit and this massive noise came on. Oh my god; it was 'Run, Run, Run' from the Velvet Underground and Nico album. A real rocky jump up and down and make an idiot of yourself mouthing the words and playing air guitar kind of song :) Fantastic!! I haven't had as much fun in ages, that said I doubt I have looked such an idiot in ages who do I look like I give a fuck (indeed, do I look like I care what I look like!!)
I have all the Velvets albums on CD at home as I really liked them when I was young. I have always liked loud music that was not afraid to be a bit different. All the same I don't think I have really listened to them since they tried to reform a few years ago and released that crap live album.
So on Sunday I went into work at 9am as I had a lot to do and we had a deadline to meet that night. I was to remain at work for just over 37 hours, as one or two things went wrong that had to be fixed. I drank a large amount of coffee and about 7 cans of Red Bull in an effort to stay awake. It's amazing how we can be so productive when totally exhausted just because you having to finish some task or another. But at about 3 am I started to wish I had some mad loud music. So I sent a message to the mp3 list asking for any Velvet's. Now it goes without saying the slack fucks on that list ignored me. So I just bit the bullet and ordered the box set of all the Velvets stuff ever from the nice boys and girls at 24 hours later I had some sleep at last and I had the box set.
All I can say is fuck sake! I'm reunited with musical greatness again :)
Isn't music fuckin' great, good music is always good. Just to fuck with peoples head I have mp3's the 5 CD's of this box set and have them in a play list with some of Asam's white label stuff and Andrea Bocelli! =20
All I need now is a nice EED Rugby Jersey :)

Wednesday 12 February 2003

Games are not evil shocker! [spiny]

Check out this BBC Article. Apparently games do not make you into some sort of psychopath.
At last some sensible research is being done to counter all the scapegoating that games get for shooting & anti social behaviour. Professor Cleverhead's highlight quotes for me are:
  • The strategy and tactics used by many regular players and teams, or clans, often makes it seem like a game of chess
  • The importance of the social side of Counter-Strike was revealed in the constant banter
  • To outsiders this game talk can be impenetrable and lead people to misinterpret what is going on
  • many studies of game playing have been skewed by hidden agendas

Well, as they say...'No shit sherlock!'. This could have come from the mouth of any remotely articulate gamer. But are they ever asked? No. Why? Well, I think the last quote says it all really. Don't you?

Monday 10 February 2003

Chipped xboxen anyone? [lurks]

Right bitches, following on from the XBOX + MODCHIP = SHUTTLE BEATER? thread - I've decided that I'm going to chip my Xbox and use it for this sort of thing. I quite fancy the vid playing on it and all that. I was looking into doing a few of these, since I'm pretty well set up for it. Proper fitting on the header inside, robust. Disable switch wired up, either a nice black bush button to match the case or a key lock.
I was thinking I might pop an advert in Micromart (since eBay nukes all mod chip sales) and see if I can't get some business up. Of course a few at cost for clannies is no problem either. Does anyone else fancy one too?

271 Brit is a no show cuntor [lurks]

And the winner of the Now Show Cuntor award for February 2003 is non other than ... Brit! He said he'd turn up. He said he'd bring his wife. He failed to show. He turned his mobile off so he couldn't even be abused.
Y'all tell him how lame he is ya hear? :)

NTL introduces bandwidth limit! [lurks]

We all know NTL hasn't been doing real well but this comes as a shock. The BBC is reporting that NTL has just imposed a 1GB per day traffic limit on all cable modems. It's not clear if that applies to both 600k and 1mb services but either way it's really very lame indeed.
I appreciate that morons that leave P2P clients on 24/7 are costing far more money than they ought to be. I've always advocated a two-tier service, a limited and unlimited bandwidth service. The former being fine for 90% of web browsing users. The latter while still not actually charging heavy users their due costs, at least it higher price would discourage some from running P2P 24/7.
However what NTL have done is introduce an enormous cap in the actual service you were previously entitled to with no cost difference at all. It's disgusting quite frankly and if my operator, Telewest, did that I'd be off like a shot to DSL.
I rather think that's what a lot of people will be doing. DSL offers, after all, unlimited bandwidth and for about the cost of the 600k service, it offers twice the outbound bandwidth as well.
It's depressing to see NTL sink yet lower all the same.

Thursday 6 February 2003

Lager Cocktails [spiro]

A few weeks back we had a guy on the show who made cocktails using lager and beer, here are a few of the recipes:
  • 4 Champagne
  • 8 Guinness
    Serve in : Collins
    Build notes: pour ingredients into a glass. Spirits first, then the rest. Add Guinness to the Champagne in a collins or half pint glass.
  • 0.5 Vodka
  • 0.5 Gin
  • 0.5 Khalua
  • 0.5 Cointreau
  • 2 Cranberry
  • 2 Lager
    Serve in: Collins
    Build notes: Pour Ingredients into a glass. Spirits first, then rest.
  • 2 Lager
  • 1 Pineapple Juice
  • 3 Champagne
    Serve in: Champagne Flute
    Build notes: Mix in a mixing glass, using a bar spoon or if straining is not required, and the drink is served over ice, mix in the glass.
  • 0.5 Tequila
  • 0.5 Cointreau
  • 0.2 Sweet and Sour
  • 6 Lager
    Serve in: Collins
    Build notes: Add ice and spirits to the blender. Switch it on and add juices or mixes until the right consistency is obtained. It should be between having a whirlpool and the mixture not mixing. Blend tequila, cointreau, sweet and sour with a lot of ice. Pour the lager into the glass and float the mixture on top.
  • 0.5 Amaretto
  • 0.5 Overproof Rum
  • 6 Lager
    Serve in: Collins
    Build notes: Pour ingredients into glass. Spirits first, then the rest. pour ammeretto into shot glass and layer rum on top. Light it and drop it into the lager. Chug!
  • 1 Khalua
  • 12 Lager
    Serve in: Pint Glass
    Build notes: Pour ingredients into glass, spirits first then rest.
  • Lager
  • Guinness
    Serve in: Pint Glass
    Build notes: Fill half the pint glass with lager, then pour the Guinness over the back of a spoon to layer.
  • 1 Blue curaco
  • 6 Guinness
  • 6 Lager
    Serve in: Pint Glass
    Build notes: Pour ingredients into glass, Spirits first then rest.
  • 1 Campari
  • 12 Lager
    Serve in: Pint Glass
    Build notes: Pour ingredients into glass, Spirits first then rest.
    101 IN THE SHADE
  • 1 Tequila
  • 12 Lager
    Serve in: Pint Glass
    Build notes: Pour ingredients into glass, Spirits first then rest.
    This last one doesn't have any lager in it, but it happens to be a favourite of mine so i'm adding it anyway.
  • 1 Jack Daniel's
  • 0.2 Tabasco
    Serve in: Shooter
    Build notes: Pour ingredients into glass, Spirits first then rest.
    Right, I'm off to try some of these, feel free to add any favourites you may have. Just in case you are wondering, this is what a Collins glass looks like.
  • Old News [spiny]

    I'm sure you've all seen MC Hawking before but every now and again I get the itch to have a laugh at this stuff, especially QuakeMaster.mp3. It's mana from heaven for anyone with a more than a passing interest in popular physics and a purile sense of humour - i.e. me :)
    Anyways, (as Strongbad would say) there's a new song up on the site about unified field theory. Music courtesy of The Sex Pistols of course :)
    Side note to Lurks: Hope the URLs haven't had any spaces inserted by my mail client. It's either that or I'll find out rebot has been harboring a grudge against me.

    Wednesday 5 February 2003

    Headphone Recommendation [spiny]

    I've been listening to music at work for, um, ages. Up to now though in-ear headphones, mostly to avoid the pointing and the 'ha ha look, is it Smashey or Nicey?' comments.
    Now, it's become more & more common for people to listen to music while working. Mostly clueless people with windows nt4 cd player with the occasional winamp user. The upside is that there's a lot of 'streetwear' headphone wearers. You know, the one's that you're itching to put on backwards & do the Geordie Le-Forge impression with.
    Well with the social stigma of having headphones that are actually ON you're ears removed, I had a look at Sennheiser. Anyway, I've just got hold of a late chrimbo present in the shape of a pair of PX200s.
    Well, what can I say, the're very good. A match for my aging & motheaten full size headphones at home. Miles better than the in- ear sort. I'm actuall hearing new instruments in some music. And there was me thinking it was just my ears that were knackered :)

    • Discrete for 'proper' headphones
    • ,
    • fold up into a nice safe carry case,
    • Sound good, which for headphones is quite handy.

    • Folding mechanism can't really be described as 'robust'
    • Not quite as comfy as in-ear buds

    Boss monsters [spiny]

    Boss Monsters.
    I hate em. Lots. Even more than belly button fluff.
    Yes they are big & impressive but beating them is just a case of wearing down their 500% heath or whatever. And they ALWAYS, ALWAYS have a weakness in the AI which makes this pointless anyhow. You can always spot a pattern or vunerability or trick them into getting stuck on scenery while you pop away from the comfort of your camping spot behind a crate or wherever.
    They are boring, they do not work as a gameplay element, they went out of style when galaxians came out.
    Unreal 2 has them. DE put them in. Bad Boys DE, Bad Boys. No boss monsters next time, eh? Try an engrossing plot instead.

    Tuesday 4 February 2003

    Website moved [lurks]

    Well, the web site moved innit. Now, err, let's see if blogging works.

    Movie roundup [lurks]

    Right, I've been watching a few movies recently. Some of these are biggiest, some are less common. Here's my quick and dirty two line reviews;
    • Unfaithful: Not just yet another infidelity type movie, it's told from the point of view of a housewife having an affair. Gripping. 4/5
    • Punch Drunk Love: Weird 'art' film with Adam Sandler. Plot is yank standard that love heals weirdos. Boring and implausible. 2/5
    • Confessions of a Dangerous Mind: Based on the true story of TV producer Chuck Barris. He claims he was a CIA hitman, not true but makes it passable. 3/5
    • Catch Me if You Can: A hyped but enjoyable romp covering a career conman and the FBI agent that catches him. Good fun. 4/5
    • Gangs of New York: Despite DiCaprio and dodgy Irish accents, this Scorsese flick hits the mark. Violent but relevant, superb. 5/5
    • Red Dragon: Prequel to Silence of the Lambs, this remake of 'Manhunter' is nothing new but Hopkins and Norton are excellent. 4/5
    • Bowling for Columbine: Michael Moore explores American gun violence in this feature documentary. Disturbing, revealing, required viewing. 5/5
    You slack wankers are welcome to add more. Whack a list marker in front of them to make them easy to read. I've got a few more movies queued up so I'll add to this later in the week.

    What are we to do with Mugabe? [brit]

    Who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks?
    The saga that is Zimbabwe under dictatorial rule continued apace today, with farcical scenes erupting outside the courthouse where Mugabe's primary political opponent is being tried for treason.
    The British High Commissioner, The American Ambassador, and a German diplomat were all prevented from entering the courthouse by Mugabe's riot police; despite the judge making it clear that anyone with an interest in the proceedings could attend.
    In one morning, Robert Mugabe became an official dictator; removing the separation between executive and judicial branches of government. He didn't stop there however, four hours after the judge announced that anyone could attend, he passed a new media law which states that only approved journalists can attend trial proceedings.
    Who does the approving? why - none other than the state run, Mugabe controlled Media Agency.
    Zimbabwe has now hit rock bottom. Economically, socially, internationally, democratically, politically.. a once proud and industrious country (a veritable jewel within the African continent) has been reduced to a Titanic failure; almost singularly by one man - President Robert Mugabe.
    The trial however, is made all the more important by the simple fact that if the defendant loses, he'll also lose his life. Treason (much like being a White Farmer) is punishable by death.
    Mugabe's grip on Zimbabwe is at once chilling and impressive; he conducts himself in exactly the same way as any other dictator (so lining up nice comparisons with Iraq, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and others) and continues to ride high whilst maintaining his lifestyle at the expense of everyone in his country (cronies aside).
    Yet essentially, the western democracies do nothing - of course, they are almost certainly too busy rallying their padres for a jaunt out East - and Mugabe continues to bankrupt and rape Zimbabwe of everything he can lay his hands on.
    We *NEED* to sort Zimbabwe out; we owe it to the millions of starving oppressed Zimbabweans, we owe it to those who have invested their lives in the country only to see Mugabe wield his ax and remove them by force, and we owe it to ourselves - to remove with a definite degree of permanence yet another rampantly idiotic man from power.

    tatu - taboo [spiro]

    Just read on the BBC webbie that the Russian pop duo Tatu have reached the number one slot in the UK with 'all the things she said'.
    At the same time they have been accused of promoting 'paedophilic pop'. Lotta put a link for the video to this song in IRC a while ago, for those of you who haven't seen it, they are dressed as school girls and at one point they kiss see it here. Their creator, Ivan Shapovalov, has admitted that Tatu are what he called an 'underage sex project' designed to appeal to men in search of 'underage entertainment'. Sorry, what ? This can't be good business sense, are there really enough people in his target audience to make it worth his while, I don't think so. Also I don't really think that his target audience are likely to go out and buy enough copies to place it at number one. If this is the case how come the other videos I've seen don't follow the same theme.
    Is this really the first time that this idea has been used ? The school girl image is used all the time, School Disco in London is based totally on this theme, I don't see anyone trying to close them down. Britney used it and also ended up at number one, I didn't see anyone scream and shout at that. I'm sure there are loads of other examples in everyday life. So it can't be the school uniform thing so it leaves age and the fact that they claim to be lesbians.
    The two girls Julia (16) and Lena (17) kiss in the video, as far as I know kissing isn't illegal, at any age, please correct me if i'm wrong on this.
    From the BBC site - The video prompted TV presenters Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan to call for the song to be banned. Madeley branded them 'sick', and Finnigan denounced them as 'paedophilic entertainment'.
    All videos go through a rating system much like films and television programmes, I'm sure that had this video required a higher rating it would of got one. The past has show us that no matter how famous the star is, if the video is deemed to be to graphic they ban it instantly. In Light of recent events I'm also convinced that if the video was considered to be paedophilic in anyway it would be banned immediately.
    Please tell me this isn't due to homophobia.

    Monday 3 February 2003

    Space - The final frontier [lurks]

    I wanted to say a few words in the aftermath of the Columbia incident that has just occurred. I think I can speak for everyone in expressing our sadness at the loss of the 7 lives aboard the Columbia and that our thoughts are with the families of these pioneers.
    I probably have to tread a fine line to be within the bounds of decency to comment on this loss. So if I seem a little toned down in opinion, it's for that reason. Shuttle accidents are always a tragedy and it's a huge shame that space flight is a common enough occurrence these days that the only coverage one can expect in the media is when something goes wrong. Understandable perhaps, but a shame nevertheless.
    Unfortunately, as Challenger proved, what happens as a direct result of all the media surrounding this accident is that it sets the space program back several years. Shuttle flights will be grounded, everything will be checked again from the ground up at a cost of billions of dollars. I'm aware some will argue this needs to be done, that there is not a price on life. Actually, I'm afraid I don't agree.
    Cringing trekism aside, it's still true to say that space is the final frontier. It's a dangerous business being strapped on top of impossibly massive tanks of LOX, the ends lit and riding the flames into orbit. It always has been and it will be for a very long time yet. Is NASA being negligent? Jesus Christ no. Their standards are the highest bar in the world for technical redundancy.
    No one at NASA wants a loss of human life or the billions of lost revenue of a stalled space program or important science being set back years such as the upcoming Mars mission.
    In my view, it should be business as usual. I'm sure they'd be serious effort to find out what went wrong regardless. However the 7 brave souls that put untold hard work into achieving their dream wouldn't want us to stop. And for every one of them, there's a lot more that would take that chance at being an astronaut. I would, wouldn't you?
    Can't we have one last risky frontier where our finest men and women volunteer to demonstrate humanity's finest hour?
    I think we can. The people that died today are heros and will be remembered as such, as will be those that followed in their footsteps. Unlike some names scratched on a memorial in some past forgotten war, these people were achieving something truly magnificent and they volunteered for it. Their lives aren't cheap but shackling the space program isn't the answer - fly on boys, fly on.
    On another slightly sour note, I was shocked by the yank interview with Buzz Aldrin I tuned to when the events unfolded. When asked what safety features the Shuttle possessed, Aldrin dodged the question completely and proceeded to plug his own company which has been tendering for business concerning ejection pods and what not. It was disgusting. This sort of gravy train skullduggery is the antithesis of what he did 30 years ago and I'm saddened that it should come to this.

    Sunday 2 February 2003

    Unreal II - The Review [lurks]

    When Unreal came out, the game blew us away. It looked absolutely stunning and the story played to the strengths of the new engine to make a really special single player game. Now I've been playing the Unreal II: The Awakening, the sequel. So now that Legend have taken up the content reigns and Epic have concentrated on the engine, has this resulted in a game of equal standing?
    Well, I'm sorry to say but no it hasn't. What we have is an FPS by the book, by the numbers. There's very little new in any aspect of it. What is new is the stunning visuals and there's a lot of entertainment value out of going 'Wow' and just appreciating that finally game designers are making 3D models for the incidental set pieces rather than just drawing textures. It's like the Legend team have some people that can be bothered, that are happy to go to work and others which drag their carcass into work as a chore.
    Barely seconds into the game and the player is confronted by a camera sweep that the designers couldn't even be bothered to animate smoothly. The basic premise of game has our Marshal 'John' (no, really) as captain of a vessel. In some sort of vague nod the the increasing sophistication of FPS games in some quarters (like Deus Ex), Unreal II employs dialog when talking to characters in a very basic sense.
    They were on the right track, for sure. The idea of being able to walk around your ship and talk to the crew is a good one. Walking into a room to be given a briefing complete with obligatory 3D holo thinggy is a good idea although nothing of the briefing is useful and it just adds to the string of poorly conceived and executed cut scenes which you can't skip. Even the door to the room thoughtfully locks you in.
    While one doesn't expect some sort of open ended structure to a bog standard FPS, the degree to which Unreal II is on rails is very apparent. You wont need to walk around for long to find something in a puzzle. On the whole the game is easy (I played on the middle 'Normal' setting) and there's nothing to tax the brain at all. So if we accept all of this, what we can count on is some superb visual and plenty of good shoot-em-up action which is what it's all about.
    The humanoid adversaries tend to be tough, if not in armor, in the fact that they'll start shooting you with a shotgun from the other side of the map before you've seen the guy. The 'bot' strength of the engine has been used but zero thought appears to have gone into supporting a sneaky player, just an accurate player. As the type of person that prefers a good ambush as opposed to a head on firefight, I was left wanting.
    The weapons themselves all feel weedy. There's nothing that makes you go 'Wow' or conveys some sense of power, even the rocket launcher.
    Obviously you can gather I'm not a huge fan of Unreal II yet I have actually played it through quite a bit. The interest is maintained through stunning visuals and very tasty level design. There are also some engineered gameplay events which are quite pleasant, if not innovative in any way.
    What is most annoying about Unreal II is how it could have been a great game. It has most of the work done, all it's lacking is attention to detail and some thought at how to advance the genre. Perhaps a little more respect for the cognitive ability of the game player wouldn't have gone astray either.
    As it is, Unreal 2 is an FPS by numbers that rings hollow with the sound of bored game developers at Legend Entertainment. It's not a terrible game, it's even worth a play and probably the relatively inexpensive 25 quid asking price. However be prepared to shake your fist at the sky and wish that the developers had a little more passion for games than is evident in this run-of-the-mill effort.

    Saturday 1 February 2003

    TFT showdown [lurks]

    Few of us, including me, in the market for new TFT panels. We've spoken about this subject before and we had discovered the AOC 19' panel which was being flogged by Dabs for arse all. That's not too bad a unit but after a good deal of exposure to them and more recently a Hercules Prophetview 420 Pro at work (17'), I've come to believe two things.
    • 1. For 1280 res, 17' is plenty big.
    • 2. The modern 17' 16/20ms displays are teh win.

    This has lead me down a line of very lengthy research which I wont go into here. The bottom line is that there are a number of very nice 17' panels indeed. I'm compiled a shortlist, not in any particular order. There are other units but these ones are easy to obtain in the UK right now.
    • Samsung SM172T
    • LG L1710B
    • Hyundai Q17
    • Acer AL1731
    • Iiyama 431S

    The Samsung is superb, I've seen one. Looks the dogs. However it's the priciest here and doesn't come with a DVI cable. The L1710B has been said by some to have marginally better video, particularly for text. It has a USB hub, comes with cables too and is significantly cheaper. The only trouble with it is that the stand is a bit cheap and naff (like AOCs).
    The Hyundai Q17 has a 2 port USB hub, excellent stand, the same lovely panel in the Prophetview 420 Pro but has DVI and comes with all cables. It's a very strong unit.
    The Acer is pricey, this model anyway, because it also has S-Video in as well as an all-alumnium case, lovely stand, cables etc and one of the superb 16ms panels. The thing is, some folks are saying you can't switch to S-Video in with a button, you need to disconnect DVI. That's a bit lame, if it's true. It doesn't appear to have picture-in-picture. There is a cheaper Acer AL1721 which is the same thing without the video stuff, which may be worth looking at.
    The Iiyama is a very new entry, based on a 16ms panel. It's available in black, has speakers but no USB hub. It's the cheapest out of the lot and looks quite attractive. No one has seen it yet though. However it's available from Dabs which means you could just order it, check it out, make sure it has zero defects and if for any reason you feel itchy, you can just return it thanks to the distance selling regulations act and the fact Dabs don't muck you about with it. The same would be true of the LG and Samsung which is also available from Dabs.
    I'd be tempted to check out the Hyundai first though, but since it only appears to be available from, I'm not sure how much arsing around they would cause if you wanted to return it for any reason (duff pixel etc).
    You see, all of these units come with guarantees of the levels of pixels being duff but, well, we have a satutory right to return in 7 days so there's no reason to settle for even a single duff one if you don't feel like it. Power to the people and all that.