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Wednesday 30 April 2003

4mb/s broadband? oh yeah baby! [brit]

These guys do 4MB/s broadband...
BT can die die die!

Nifty app - Netlimiter [lurks]

Nifty thing I found, Netlimiter (site wasn't responding when I wrote this blog) runs on all flavors of Windows and allows you to choke individual net process bandwidth up/down. While Bittorrent, see blog 339, allows choking of outbound bandwidth - it opens up several sockets to download so it's quite capable of seriously choking your Internet connection on the downstream too. Netlimiter can help and according to my tests so far, does help.

Of course, the ace thing is that you can choke DC++ which we couldn't do at all before. It seems to be trialware at the moment, it doesn't seem to use up too much memory and is fairly unobtrusive in the task tray so I reckon it's definitely worth a look. The manual is worth a look too because the Czech authors have an amusingly netlimited grasp of English too :)
Since the web site is b0rked, I've slapped the installer up on Just remember, when the revolution comes, vote Lurks for King.

Tuesday 29 April 2003

Funny Pics - you know you wanna [slim]

Post yer funny pics here fucktards!

BT in being Evil shocker [lurks]

BT is Evil. We all know this. No other country in the world with similar technological demographics and demand for Internet access has seen broadband rollout so incumbered as that which our favorite monopoly has managed in the UK. Even if they have a fraction of the population density and high-tech industry. Yet for all that, most of us have broadband now. Either via BT's DSL offerings or cable modems, so we've not had cause to direct napalm and bile in BT's direction for some time.
Today that changed. You see we still have a few folks who don't have broadband. One doesn't really care (Spiny) and one has set up a campaign (Houmous) to get BT to ADSL-enable his exchange. These chaps are in the significant numbers within the UK that are not serviced by broadband and so may have rightly pinned some hopes on BT's new 'midband' package which will have a 97% UK population coverage being as it's based on ISDN technology.
There had been a lot of speculation on this midband package. The midband term coming from the belief it was a 128k service, always on, based on ISDN. Sure it's not going to be much good for leeching CumFiesta-KateAndKim.mpg on a regular basis but it's a big step up from regular dial-up and ISDN right? Even if it wasn't going to be always-on, there was talk of having always-on e-mail via the ISDN d-channel.
I saw today on the register that they have the seen the documents detailing what the BT midband package is actually going to be. Let me summarise it for you;
  • Costs £35 a month.
  • Service limited to 150 hours a month.
  • 64K dial-up, 128k uses 2X inclusive hours.
  • 2 hour session limit (requires reconnect)
  • Usage over 150 hours charged per hour.
  • No always-on e-mail system.

You can't make this shit up. They're charging between £5 to £10 more than BT's ADSL offerings. What does that buy you? Well it buys you a crappy 64K dial-up ISDN connection which you can't use for more than 5 hours a day on average. You'll get thrown off every 2 hours which will please gamers no end. This, ladies and gentlemen, is basically BT bundling ISDN with a flat-rate ISP service and nothing more. No concessions, no improved service, no serious attempt at improving Internet access for those out of range of ADSL.
It's a farce. It's an insult. It proves once and for all that BT have absolutely no inclination to drive forward broadband in this country unless it can be absolutely positively proven that they will make money out of it today. These are the same pricks that piss away billions on loss-making 3G ventures. I really thought that BT were improving, I thought they were showing signs of behaving just a little bit more like a progressive multi-billion pound telecommunications operator in the new millennium. How fucking naive of me.
Of course just as much blame should be dumped squarely at the foot of our Luddite government which has let this country lounge as a second class Internet backwater through the lack of subsidies or incentives. Instead they'd rather concern themselves with the Evil things Carol Vorderman says people get up to on the Internet and craft daft uninformed legislation such as the RIP act.
Death to BT and death to the Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and utterly incompetent 'e-Minister'.

Map pack for Raven Shield released! [lurks]

Wooo! New maps! New maps for Raven Shield! Raven Shield Platoon had a competition for maps and these are the winners and damn good they are too. Of course, none of them support terrorist hunt so it's off to PvP we go! Slim and I had a kick around on them and golly gosh, they sure are sweet!
So for a limited time only, I've taken the password off the server and we're playing team survival on these maps. Of course, you're going to need the map pack which you can get from Fileplanet (bleugh!) on that link or you can grab it from this server. It's 50MB and it rocks!
Server settings clearly wont be optimal for PvP so let me know what needs to be changed. We can remove weapons and things but I'm unsure if that will be necessary. Seems that your armour is up in PvP, it took two Barrett .50 cal hits to kill (!) but headshots still seem instantaneous so it's pretty much like CS in that respect.
There's fears the game is campy and snipey but with the thermal scopes and the heartbeat sensors, I'm not sure how much of a problem it is to being a good game or not. One way to find out, saddle up bitches and come get some!
As usual, IPs for RS server and TS server are in the topic of #eed.

Monday 28 April 2003

I need new heaphones! [brit]

I'm on a quest; an audio crusade, with yours truly taking the part of King Richard, my armies ready to crush the Dixonian hordes who dare tout themselves as being the home of the one true god (Currys are worse, in fairness).
The problem is this, a few weeks ago during one of my daily trips on the tube, a fat lady who shall remain nameless (because I don't know her name) walked past me in a great hurry; and in doing so, ripped my earphone lead in half - my iPOD hasn't been used since.
But what to get to replace them? I wasn't terribly happy with the phones anyway (some uber in-your-ear Sony job, which are right finniky to actually use) and Dixons (evil evil people) in Paddington station only do £4.99 Matsui headphones; the kind that have the bass response of a tin of Castrol.
They've got to be in-your-ear, and have good bass and treble obviously - not looking to spend more than £30.00 on them, but I have GOT to get my morning dose of Coldplay back on track, or I'm going to go stir fry crazy.
Suggestions? eh? whattyda think audio clan wiz0rds? :)

Friday 25 April 2003

Ask a Stupid Question [spiro]

Came across a story in the Metro this morning all about Madonna's new album. She's planned an nasty trick for people who will down load it.
Instead of American Life, MP3 networks have been flooded with fake tracks. They contain no music, just Madonna demanding 'WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING?'. The fakes have been made to look like full length tracks so you can't ell until you play it for the first time.
I thought this was quite funny till I read on. It looks like all she's managed to do is stir up a hornets nest. An Unknown Assailant hack her official site and posted the real MP3's of all 11 tracks and then replaced the home page with a message saying 'THIS IS WHAT THE FUCK I THINK I'M DOING'. The site was down for 15 hours being restored.

Jessops Print@net: 10 free digicam pix [beej]

Some of you have tried getting digicam images printed before and have not been met with much success. Well, this may have changed as I've just tested out Jessops Print net and they've certainly come up with the goods on my first try of the service.
Print@net is essentially an online service but installed locally in a surprisingly usable application. It has a shopping basket where you choose the product(s) with prices, eg. 6x4' glossy prints (34p) 7x5' (@50p each) baseball caps (10gbp) and so on.
Your chosen photos are verified for quality and resolution, will show you a summary with thumbnails, and then you submit the whole damn shebang securely to their site with your Visa details. It's got editing stuff in there too but I can't see EED using those over PSP or PS.
There's currently a 10 free prints offer (no hidden P&P or nothing!), and they turned up in the post a couple of days later. The prints seem fine, good quality paper, and my experience so far? Top work Jessops fellas!

Half-Life 2 [beej]

I'm enticing flamers and pessimists here, but... Half-Life 2 then. What's the word on screenshots or the in-house developed game engine?

Thursday 24 April 2003

Second Place First Loser ! [spiro]

Meaty just posted this link Check This

Wednesday 23 April 2003

PS2 Online [drdave]

Ahem. They've threatened to de-clan me if I don't blog, and replace me with a rebol automaton. So, with the threat of my chums finding out exactly how simple my processing really is and being revealed for the fraud that I am (shhh!), it looks as though I'll have to crank the blog-o-matic a couple of times. Down Lurks down!
So, while my comrades in hilarity have been turning a blind eye to how truely bug-ridden Raven Shield is, and how much of a pain in the arse it is to play, I've been taking the moral highground and looking further afield. How much further? Well, just across the room to the space under the tele as it happens. My old black chum, the PS2.
See, I happened upon a wizard offer from the distinguished gentlemen over at Sony. Those hearty philanthropists kindly agreed to let me pay 40 quid in exchange for the chance, neigh privilege, of testing their forthcoming Network kit. Huzzah thinks I, it'd be rude to turn down such an offer. And a couple of weeks later, my PS2 was sporting a monster chubby in the form of a network adaptor, and I was greedily fondling a copy of SOCOM and the USB headset.
Several hours later, when I'd finally overcome the initial fascination with stealthing round our flat wearing the headset and saying 'copy that' or 'alpha team go!' to nobody in particular, I decided to give the game itself a go. Its piss to set up the PS2 for network access. You can either click 'automatically detect settings', which worked fine for my setup, or you can get your network claws muddy with entrails and muck about with the settings yourself. Best not eh?
With all that sorted, its just a matter of clicking 'online' in SOCOM and you're away. Well, that's all you can do actually, since Sony have thoughtfully removed the single player code so as not to distract us from the job for which we're being paid, erm, have paid for. Whatever. Regardless, they reckon they'll send us the full version at the end of the trial. So thats okay.
As it turns out, SOCOM is actually pretty cool, but its not going to win any prizes for genre-redefining. If Raven Shield and Counter Strike are to the videogame world what The Godfather and Deerhunter are to the movie world, then SOCOM is probably on par with 'Dude, Where's My Car'. Deep it ain't, but it's good for the pleasure-centres when you can't be arsed with anything more mentally strenuous. The controls are as you would expect for a console fps - fairly ropey, and the visuals are the kind that only a mother could love. But it's got moxy, and kid, that goes a long way.
The best thing about it is the headset, which is a pip and a dandy. Well, its a pip anyway. I'll reserve the dandy accolade till after they find a way of preventing annoying little brothers from picking up the mic when big bro has gone for a slash and screaming 'FUCKING GEEKS!' in screeching falsetto over and over again. Luckily, there's a ten second limit for dealing with lil' Johnny. But as a means of coordinating assaults or even shouting abuse at a fallen comrade, voice comms are second to none.
So PS2 Online is a winner? Probably more like a weiner to be honest. For one thing, its not as good as XBox live. Voice comms are not standard across the range, and there is no universal buddy system, or even a universal username system. So while I could be Dr_Dave in one game, I might have to go into battle as Dr-Dave1974-- in another. That's not good. Nor is the forthcoming lineup, with such gems as Twisted Metal Black: Online about to tickle your gaming scrotum. TMB:O is shit incidentally. Sony sent me a free copy to test, and I refuse to say any more about it on the grounds that it makes me feel ill just thinking about it. Needless to say, our coffee table gained a new coaster this week.
That said, it'll sell by the bucketload, purely because Sony are the golden haired Wunderkind and can do no wrong. But in the final reckoning, PS2 online feels a lot like a half-arsed afterthought, and not the well rounded system that it deserves to be.

Tuesday 22 April 2003

Yank business loves sugar [lurks]

I suppose we shouldn't be surprised but nevertheless I was shocked to read this story on BBC news about how the American Sugar Association, made up of such dietary luminaries such as Coca-Cola & Pepsi-Cola, is threatening to lobby Congress on withdrawing funding from the World Health Organisation.
And why would they do such a thing? Well it's all about a WHO report which states that the maximum amount of the energy intake in a healthy diet should be made up of no more than 10% sugar. The ASA doesn't like that of course because they're all about making people eat more sugar. They're claiming that there's evidence to suggest that sugar can make up to 25% of the diet!

Responding to a draft of the WHO report last month, the Sugar Association said there was 'a preponderance of recent scientific evidence' exonerating sugar as a cause of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, hyperactivity and tooth decay.

Astounding! You'd think after tobacco that big business would just wise up to the fact that they need to stop lying to people and selling them health problems in the making just to make a profit. Apparently not. Again this is another example of the entire bent American so-call democracy big business can set up a powerful lobby groups to promote something in flagrant contradiction with what is clearly best for their society as a whole.
You've got to wonder why all the American drug dealers don't just finance a lobby group to get crack cocaine legalised.

The making of a terrorist [lurks]

I was skimming the Guardian this morning and I came across this stunning article. It's an extract from a book by the brother of Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th terrorist in the 11/9 attacks. He was recruited by the Al Qaeda network and was undertaking pilot training in order to participate in the attacks. This article provides his background and is a chilling account of how Al Qaeda preyed on the vulnerable and disenfranchised.

What was particularly telling is how Zacarias Moussaoui was essentially ignorant of religion, arabic culture and even the arabic language. Yet he was still brainwashed with the extremeist corrupt version of the Wahhabi flavor of Islam that Al Qaeda use as brainwashing and this occured in London too! It's a long article but here's a bit to entice you to read it;

When Zacarias came back the following year, I found him quite different. Until 1994, Zacarias and my wife Fouzia had always had very deep conversations. Zacarias would encourage her to take her studies as far as she possibly could. But now his argument had radically altered. He would say over and over to Fouzia: "Studies aren't important for women. You'd be better off staying at home." One night, when the three of us were watching a film on TV, in which a woman was hit by her husband, Zacarias said ironically: "Serves her right. That's what women need." Fouzia and I were aghast.

Grub - Distributed web search or con? [lurks]

I spied this interesting story on Slashdot about a distributed search engine called Grub. This is a nifty idea. The hardest thing about a decent searchengine is basically scanning the regularly changed pages and what the Grub project does is provide a nifty little client which runs in the system tray or as a screensaver etc, fetches lists of URLs from the server and reads them to see what's changed and sends tokened/compressed results to the server etc. It's not so much distributed processing as distributed bandwidth and we all know how much that is a cool thing based on Bittorrent.
The other promising thing was, taking a peek at the website shows that they have an XML interface for getting results. So, on the surface of it this would appear to be an extremely cool thing. In return for running a client which helps out on the global spidering of the web (and you can become an authoritative source on your own web sites etc), you can query their XML interface and get your own search results in a raw format to use how you like. Nifty eh?
Well it would be except it's not actually what's happening. You see the 'API - use the results' section of their web site only contains the useless queries concerning URL and client statistics. There's no facility to get your own results and no plans to add them. Instead, Grub has actually teamed up with commercial search engine operators and agreed deals to supply the backend. So hang on a minute, they want to sponge all this free CPU and bandwidth off us and then we don't even get to use the results, we're just bolstering some commercial search engine?
Yep, that's about the size of it. How lame is that? Lame enough to ban Grub clients from your robots.txt in my view. This does of course leave the field open for a proper distributed and open implementation of the same idea. It's definitely the way forward, I'm sick of parsing Google's HTML to get search results and despite their 10,000 odd servers, they're still way behind the curve on updating web sites regularly on the Internet.

Saturday 19 April 2003

Rugby shirts.. oooh weeee! [brit]

Well now, this blog will probably have a few comments attached to it i'll wager, but no matter. Onwards!
The saga so far involves 2 companies that refused the order, 1 that ceased trading, 1 that failed to deliver, and 1 that delivered the wrong thing.. all in all, it's been over a year since my fellow EED placed their order, and due to my unnaturally shambolic lameness in this regard, only now have I realised that yes, work (of all places) have direct links into an amazing crowd.
So I got a sample today - which pleased me greatly. Because it means the rugby shirts will be in your hands within 14 days. Marvellous. (the crowd we use here, and which are one of those Well Kept Secrets(TM)) have been stunning; taking instructions over the phone and me faxing payment and being cleared within *1 hour*.
In case you've forgotten what it is you ordered, my GOD here's proof:

Incidentally, there will be spare (I had to buy additional) and these will be made available on a first come, first served basis - £24.00 each including VAT. Fucking good quality too.

Set tasers to stun [slim]

The BBC reports that Police in England and Wales are to start carrying a controversial electronic stun gun that will knock out suspects. This, I suppose, is quite a step up from their current armament of a little telescopic stick, so its certainly newsworthy. What surprises me is the negativity towards this move, with organisations claiming they cause too much pain and are open to abuse. Well fuck me if I'd rather be tasered by mistake than fucking shot by mistake? Dur!

Friday 18 April 2003

Slim = mong [lurks]

If you can see this, it's because the DNS is back. Slim forgot to renew the domain. We have a word for people like that don't we readers, can someone remind me what it is?

Summer is here! [lurks]

I can say this emphatically because as I type this a big ass bumble bee is humming around my lair and that's my measure of when summer has arrived.

When will noise be a PC issue? [lurks]

You may recall that the PC formerly known as Wench, self destructed. So in a hurry I stole the missus PC which was the original and longest-serving Wench hardware incarnation. That left me in a pickle as to what to do to replace the missus' PC with. First off I ordered a 1.3GHz Duron to see if, ahh, the previous Wench hardware that failed (sigh) actually worked. The fan failed on the CPU, as you may recall, frying the CPU. Sadly no go, the mobo DC-DC converter was fried as well. AMD are fucktards for not putting thermal protection on their CPUs.
Anyhow, so ... I need a new PC for the missus. Loads of spare bits and bobs lying around the place now. I had hard drives, memory, CPU and so on. So I thought I'd order an Asus 'Terminator 7' barebones PC from overclockers. Fairly smallish but not incurring the big cost hit of a crampt aluminium Shuttle rig.
So my £88 pounds bought me a dinky little micro tower case with a 150W PSU, 52X CD-ROM, VIA KL133 chipset mobo with integrated graphics, LAN, floppy and nice front panel audio and USB ports. Bit of a bargain really. I hadn't seen any reviews, didn't really care that much given it's the missus PC :) Subsequently found this TechZone review which has some good pics.
I built her PC and ghosted the old HD to a slightly less ancient one. It's all good. The thing is, the case is smaller than you'd think. It has an interesting swing-out chasis to get into the thing properly so it exposes the motherboard allowing you to shove memory and CPU in etc. Gosh couldn't the Shuttle do with that.
It's got a tiny little PSU mounted on the front panel and a HUGE big ass fan on the back panel. Bit of an overkill I thought but being an Asus they probably thought someone was going to slap in some evil ninja Athlon. When I powered it up, the fan sounded like a bloody hoover it was loud. So I just unplugged it and set about installing software. (4 days without the PC and the missus forgot the Windows password necessitating a reinstall - priceless eh?)
Then I got a beep. Machine no boot. Go into BIOS and ... the power supply is overheating. Get this, there's no fan in the PSU. It relies on that huge fan on the back panel to suck air from a gap under the front panel and through the back. Without that, it overheats in minutes. Lame!
So ... the gorgeously silent Wench obviously pleases me while watching suspense dramas in the lounge, but now there's absolutely no chance that the PC can be on in the bedroom while one of us fancies a kip.
And it made me think, my Shuttle (while it worked) was also insanely loud. Loud rear extractor, super loud annoying tiny fan on the PSU and the PSU fan and so on and so forth. These smallish systems from these guys are just amazingly loud. It's like people that design them just don't think about this crap at all.
There's obviously a bit of niche activity for those wanting to address the whole thing but it does make you wonder. I'd like to see these fucktards starting to quote noise figures for their systems along side the other specifications they proudly bandy around.
Then again, I'd like to see Duracell put the rated capacity on the side of their batteries too but it aint gonna happen...
Seriously though, someone should go into business building silent PCs suitable for peoples lounges and bedrooms etc. Stealth PCs or something. No sharp edges.

Thursday 17 April 2003

Death to Roger Wilco! [lurks]

Those of us old enough to remember when EED played games in competitions, will remember that we wrangled long and hard over voice communication software. Back then the choice was Battlecom or Roger Wilco. We favored Battlecom because it more technically competant, allowed you to select the particular codecs and featured a client-server architecture rather than the weird pseudo p2p style in RW. It also just had more buttons. We like buttons in EED.
Unfortunately a few things happened. Some sort of DirectX upgrade started making Battlecom get flakey, Microsoft duly bought out the guys who made Battlecom, Canadian outfit ShadowFactor. Of course what Microsoft then proceeded to do was turn the shareware into Gamevoice, take away all the controls over the workings and remove some other features so that they turned an excellent bit of software into a steaming pile of turd. That being so they could sell it to retards with their own headset controller puck software thing that we don't want.
Incidentally there's a nifty support site for the proper old Battlecom software. They've even got downloads for the old client and server.
Anyhow after destroying Battlecome, big up the Microsoft. Of course now all that tech is behind the voice tech in XBox Live so it wasn't a complete disaster. Unless you just wanted voice comms on the PC of course. Sigh.
Anyhow, so Roger Wilco got a couple of updates and started not to suck. It sounded bad, the latency was poor and there's bugger all controls. However the latest version isn't too bad. It's nagware but otherwise free. We've been using it for donkeys on and off. The only real problem with it, other than the audio quality, is how people get disconnected mysteriously and there's no warning and no indication in the GUI - only a reconnect will fix it.
So, belatedly, to the point of this goddamn blog! Turns out there's a new kid on the block voice comms software wise. TeamSpeak. Actually it's not even that new, I recall taking a look at their website a long time ago but they only had some early version 1 stuff knocking about. Having been prompted to take a fresh look, I fired up the TeamSpeak 2 RC2 client.
Hey, it's good! It installs a new low-bandwidth voice codec called CELP. The GUI is clean and straight forward. The settings are there as you'd expect, it's welcome to see a choice of codecs suitable for varying bandwidths - although in fairness, pretty much every setting is an insultingly low amount of bandwidth for broadband users. The lowest sounds acceptable, the 2nd lowest sounds excellent.
It doesn't have a kind of level set-up wizard like Roger Wilco has. That's a bit of a shame because right away in early tests there were your usual people with hideously loud and hideously soft microphones and fucked up voice-activation settings and whatnot. Roger Wilco tends to set things up for people although plenty just skip through that and mong up the settings as well.
What there is, which is welcome, is a simple local test mode. You whack that and you can play with your mic and voice activation levels and you hear back, with a second delay or so, what you said as others would hear it. Nice one. As usual, the more people can be persuaded to use a key for push-to-talk the better :)
Zero issues from this end concerning sound drivers and working in games which can be more problematic than you'd think. However I'm running bog-standard SB Live type hardware, it'll be interesting to see how it works on fucked up stuff like Am runs (some pro audio card with 96-bit audio or something but mashed DirectSound drivers).
I did notice, with a little annoyance, that I had to manually set my sound control panel to record microphone. I don't have to do that with RW, it records that as standard. See my sound card records Line In virtually all day because that's what my lair's Sky Digibox is plugged into. Ah well, a truly minor niggle.
There's a bunch of shit in the software for managing users, channels and having 'ops' which can do various things like specify the codec everyone will use. It isn't clear if the Op can move people into channels which is a feature we've desperately been needing for team vs team type games.
Anyhow, we're about to give it a live test in tonight's Raven Shield sesh so I guess we'll see how it goes with a trial by fire.
Oh, it even has a Linux server too, which could be handy eh Slim? :)

Govern-mental skillz [amnesia]

Liked this one :)
The Financial Services Authority's web site has finished second last in a survey of the design quality of 55 government internet sites. Sitemorse, the company that carried out the research, trained its software on government sites of all kinds including the Home Office and the Deputy Prime Minister's Office. The software does its scanning by replicating the activity of a user but at an infinitely greater speed. It conducted its survey of the 55 sites in less than 24 hours in the second week of March this year. 'Sitemorse is a web tool. Anyone can use it if they have a web site. It goes to the front of a site and clicks on every permutation of every page link and option. Then it checks it against a list of errors - e.g., compliance with WC3, which is a standard setting body that looks at the way people use HTML,' Laurence Shaw, founder and director of Sitemorse, told Complinet. 'We looked at both the main ministers' sites and the government sites which promote e-business. It's rather embarrassing to note that, which the government is promoting to get people interested in e-commerce, came bottom of the table.'

Wednesday 16 April 2003

SATA - Less is more? [lurks]

You heard of SATA? Serial ATA. New hard disk interface to replace IDE where basically it's serial instead of those silly ribbon cables cluttering up your PC. This is good right. Small narrow cables, same sort of transfer speeds as IDE gets anyway. Ace. So how come they go and introduce a new power connector on these SATA drives too. So instead of the 4-pin power (Ground, +5V and +12V being all that's needed), it's now got a 15 pin power connector that requires an adaptor. The fucktards are taking over I tell you!

Saeed al-Sahhaf tells it how it is! [lurks]


Sunday 13 April 2003

Matrix Reloaded [lurks]

The new Matrix Trailer. Minute long, big phat res. Shows elements of the plot now. All I can say is; Oh. My. God.

Testing [lurks]

Testing the shit that Beej broke.

Friday 11 April 2003

Raven Shield patch "cummin soon" [slim]

The Raven Shield Webby reports that a patch is coming soon. Seems like it's concentrating almost entirely on the various connecting to server errors, which to be fair is what's fucking most of us off the most. No mention of the mid game server drops though, which is a bit of a shitter. Hopefully the interface problems it seems to be sufferin from will fix this up. There's also a workaround for the server browser problems some (I think the swede was having issues here?) are having, right at the bottom. Following that link above will get you to the full patch message and stuff.

Its fast track time at Sainsburys! [houmous]

Its fast track time at Sainsburys!
I popped into Sainsbury's to get some milk earlier this week and got accosted by a 'young person' trying to get to me so sign up for fast track shopping. This is basically an arrangement whereby you do the cashiers job for them by scanning your shopping as you go round the store thereby saving time at the queue on one of the special 'fast track' checkouts. You simply give them the scanning instrument (more on that in a minute) and they look at the total and charge you. How do they know you scanned everything in the trolley? (more on that in a min also)
Anyway attracted by the five pound voucher for doing so I duly joined the queue to present my Nectar card, a completed app form and, after undertaking my induction course was presented with my processed nectar card and shown to the 'Gun Bank' - and this is really what this post is all about! The 'Gun Bank' is a wall of about 40 guns all neatly sitting in their own little semi open pods with a soft white neon glow coming from each of them. The best is yet to come though - when you swipe your nectar card a random gun suddenly starts to pulsate with a slow glowing light and the lock on the pod deactivated. 'puttttusss'- its great! Its like you are suddenly being called to arms in a Star Wars movie - Shopping has never been this much fun!
My first tip is to make sure your partner also registers and gets her/his own gun even if you are doing shopping together, enabling you to carry out your FPS fantasies, dodging in and out of freezer sections and hiding in canned foods.
And finally... how do they catch people who don't scan all the stuff in their trolley? Well the checkout hardware selects people at random to have their stuff checked. If you are found to have 'accidentally' missed some of your purchases, the machine notes this and will request your stuff is checked more regularly in future. If you caught twice it will always ask for your stuff to be scanned, thus negating the whole purpose of the exercise!
I haven't been back to Tesco's since!

New stuff in Rebot 2.88 [lurks]

I've been adding some funky stuff. First off, a dead basic lookup on which is a site that average Net review scores for games. Just go Rebot review blah and it'll summarise all the hits with title, platform and percentage score.

Then there's some funky stuff I nicked from Google labs. I replaced the unuseful googleism query for 'rebot what' and turned this instead to using google's glossary feature. It's dead good! And if you want to home in on the myriad of stuff in Google's glossary index, you can use a new command of 'rebot know' followed by something of interest. It'll then spew back a whole bunch of things around that term which are in the glossary and can be subsequently pulled up on a 'rebot what' query.

I'd provide some examples but I can't be arsed doing all the formatting so you can just try it yourself in #EED :)

Wednesday 9 April 2003

SARS - no time for real politik [brit]

I'm sure you've all heard of SARS; Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome - the highly infectious virus that is currently causing great concern for the World Health Organisation (WHO). If you haven't, it's a respiratory condition which whilst 'only' maintaining a 4% mortality rate, has infected thousands of people and spread round the globe in a remarkably short time.
Ground zero is China; in Guangdong province which is in the south of the country. It's no surprise that events like this originate from the region - social and economic pressures common to many Far Eastern countries provide better than excellent proving grounds for communicable disease and enteric infection.
The problem of course is that political pressures in place within China are preventing the WHO task force (sent to investigate the outbreak recently) from doing their job; if there is one thing that should logically cross all political and social boundaries, it's a common interest in staying healthy. Not so for the Chinese authorities, who are refusing to play ball.
It's a dangerous game. Little is known about SARS as yet; and without complete access to patient records, medical facilities and research (however hit and miss in nature), the WHO team can't realistically expect to achieve their goal - identify, categorise and (hopefully) eliminate the virus responsible.=20
Personally speaking, the Chinese attitude is vastly more concerning than the French attitude over the Iraq conflict currently underway - by refusing to co-operate, they could feasibly be putting every being on this planet at risk from a virus that even the medical specialists admit, is 'worrying'.=20
Believe me when I say - having worked in CDSC (Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre) - 'worrying' is of some concern; these are after all senior medical folk, who's use of language is as controlled as their propensity for wearing sensible shoes.
This is one situation where National Pride is going to cost China dearly.

What's the best coffee? [lurks]

I used to be a coffee snob. Had a perculator on the go, loved a particular set of dark beans and all that. I've always been a coffee junky but over the years I just can't be arsed with it that much. So maybe the last year or something I've been alternating between instant coffee and green tea (yeah, weird I know). Normally Nescafe Black Gold as only freeze-dried coffee actually tastes like coffee at all to me.

I grabbed a jar of some other Nescafe stuff called Cap Columbie the other day and I quite like that actually, taste is closer to proper coffee. I drink it all black and quite strong. While I was down the supermarket I noticed a load of others knocking about these days. Anyone recommend any other freeze-dried coffee?

Stumpy the stalker? [lurks]

Remember that Stumpy bloke? Well... he's stalking our web site. You can see his games company in the 'Last 10 visitors' on the stats (icon on bottom right). It's spooky, he doesn't write, he doesn't call but he reads our web page. The hairs on the back of my neck have risen.

Whining journalists [lurks]

Some time this morning the yanks lobbed a shell from an M1 Abrams Tank into the Palestinian Hotel, that being where all the journalists are holed up. Which is a fairly poor show but what it's meant, and I watch 24-hour news pretty much all day out of the corner of my eye, is that it's been non-fecking-stop journo bleating. So rather than cover the actual war or even the fact that it looks likely Saddam got taken out with 4 bunker-busters, we've got this self-serving whining about how the yanks deliberately shot at them.

I find this a bit rich, quite frankly. They're in Baghdad, in the middle of a war. They can see the tanks steaming around and the militia scurrying from building to building. It's astounding, it's like they expect these days that you can just camp the other side of a street in a war and your safety is garanteed.

Personally, I would have thought that if you had a great avertion to being shot at, it's A) not a good idea to be in Baghdad and B) not a real wise move to point something at a tank which looks very like an infra-red glass-domed anti-tank missile.

The whining continues as I watch. Jesus christ, shows you how hypocritical these fuckers are - they're not out covering Iraqi casualties NOW are they?!

Rid Raven Shield of! [lurks]

For the first week we played Raven Shield, it was flawless even running on my cable-modem server. But then in the last week it's been crap. People having to reenter their CD-keys, mysteriously booted. Not being able to register on at all. Utter farce. It's astounding, they basically took a really good multiplayer engine (UT) and made it hideously unreliable and irritating. And why, so they can big up their lame French run gaming site?

There's considerable backlash in the official forums already. And an embryonic petition which just started. Communications from UBI seems to be pretty much non existant so far but we're all left in no doubt the game needs a patch and it needs it quickly.

If only they had a proper publisher for the game!

Tuesday 8 April 2003

Raven Shield armpatches [beej]

Raven Shield has armpatches, kinda like CS decals but like little Scout badges for the shoulder of your trooper.Choose one of the armpatches below, download, and save the file to the ravenshield -> armpatches directory.

All you need to do now is select your chosen armpatch in the Multiplayer part of the main Options.Et voila!To make your own armpatch, the format of the image must be 64 x 64 Targa (TGA) saved as 24-bit uncompressed - files are 13k.

Monday 7 April 2003

Voteserver 2.0 [lurks]

Over a year ago, blimey no make that over 2 years ago, I wrote a Rebol script which acted as e-mail vote server. Basically you sent it an e-mail with particular syntax in the body and it would post a vote to any e-mail address you want (typically a mailing list). Folks would then reply to this and after a certain number of votes were obtained, it would post the results.
It was kinda nifty but like the Iraqi Information Minister, it had 'issues'. Firstly people invariably monged up sending of mails so they posted their vote to the mailing lists. Secondly, people couldn't be arsed doing that. Then there was the concept that the person proposing the vote would specify the max votes before it was posted and they'd not be enough votes so the results would never get posted. Oh and the tally shit didn't work properly and the server was a stand-alone script that had to be run on a box full time.
It's been on my to-do list for awhile but I've resurrected the voteserver in a vastly improved form. Now it has a passworded web page to set up the votes. The e-mails it posts have links to vote on each option so people just need to click on their vote. It also has a scheduler in it so that you just specify the number of hours the vote will run before it posts the results. Oh and now the data goes in a MySQL database and Rebot handles polling of the data periodically. It handles winners/draws properly too :)
Obviously the EED/UKGamer posse are welcome to use it. The web page just has a pull down for those default e-mail addresses. Come ask in #EED for the password. At some stage I'm going to put in the Usenet posting code, should be fun on a couple of the NGs I hang out on. Any other suggestions for improvement gratefully received.

Saturday 5 April 2003

Grand National 2003 [beej]

It's the 156th Grand National! Being stuck at work I'm in on the ubiquitous office sweepstake; the war pauses this afternoon when I'll be watching DJEDDA triumph after 4.5miles (or perhaps, fall at the first). Now name your nags!

Listerine Actives [lurks]

You seen the adverts for these Listerine 'Actives'? They're basically tiny rectangular sheets which seem like plastic but when you put one on your tongue it dissolves. It's basically like taking a nuclear mint that vanishes in no time. If you, like me, suffer from 'coffee breath', this sort of thing is ideal before walking into an interview or whatever :)
Anyhow, this isn't the sort of thing I'd just go and buy. Some fit tart shoved one in my face as a sample. See if you can find one and try it out. One thing is for sure, you wont be recreationally gobbling them throughout the day!

B-Day [lurks]

B is for Baghdad. While BBC News is characteristically behind the ball, there are numerous reports reports that the Coalition pushed into the centre of Baghdad at the crack of dawn this morning. The Pentagon says that significant forces remain the the centre of Baghdad.

'As of this morning, coalition forces are actually in the city of Baghdad,' said Navy Capt. Frank Thorp. 'As we moved into the city, we saw sporatic fighting, we've actually moved through the republican guard divisions to pretty much the center of the city. We have substantial forces now moving into the city.'

This, of course, is marvellous news. The lack of a coordinated resistance from the Special/Elite Republican Guard would appear to alleviate fears of a lengthy siege of Baghdad. So much for the 'unconventional attack' that the Iraqi Ridiculous Rhetoric Minister came out with yesterday.
Once again most of the news media are putting their own spin on things but I was cheered somewhat to read this excellent piece in the Guardian. Here's a heartening extract;

The apparent collapse of the Republican Guard was matched yesterday by the visible collapse of popular Iraqi belief in the possibility of Saddam's survival.

As the marines' 1st Division poured towards Baghdad along the Highway 7 dual carriageway yesterday, preceded by a rolling storm of artillery shells, cluster bombs and missiles, Iraqis by the road - predominantly young men - cheered, waved and gave the thumbs-up sign.

As I'm watching writing this, I'm seeing some footage from embedded reports now within Baghdad with coalition troops. The editorial has just spoken of it being a surprisingly normal day. Traffic is normal, busses are running and shops are open. That's just spooky!
Of course the lefty extremists are keeping it up. On the day that the coalition pushes into Baghdad with the ultimate goal of liberating Iraqi with the remarkable and unexpectedly light civilian casualties (1,200 estimated) - scumbags like the Daily Mail suddenly 'neglect' to cover the conflict and devote their front page to the home office's (welcome) move to throw out Abu Hamza. Two-faced twats.
Thus begins what I predicted all along. Suddenly key proponents of the anti-war brigade will suddenly go very quiet. However I think it more appropriate to extract pleasure from the swift fall of Baghdad than any 'I told you so' smugness.

Friday 4 April 2003

Things that annoy me [lurks]

Feeling moany this morning. So I'm going to have a moan. First thing, weather presenters on TV. They always go "It's going to be nice and warm, I think, rah rah..." Only they don't think do they. A proper qualified meteorologist thinks, provides a report and this plankton with shiny teeth and an ironed suit reads from an autocue. Think? My fucking arse!

Fucking Transformers? They were shit when it was current. None of us were kids when they happened. They're crap, just because they're old doesn't make them good. Give over with your retroshit overpriced T-shirts and plastic toys, it doesn't make you clever and it definately doesn't make you cool!

And people that can't drive blogging! I have to go into the CMS and manually edit some fucked up entry because some thick-skulled fucktard can't work out how to add a fucking URL!

Oh yes and fucking Raven Shield. I've got my elite PSG-1 7.62 NATO chambered sniper rifle. It's the start of the map, not a sound. I peak my head around the corner and some terrorist shoots me in the head from 500 paces with a pistol. Raven Shield's AI programmers are fucktards!

Then there's that Irish cunt Kiigan on the UKGamer list and his fucking :D smileys. What the fuck is that, have you got a guinness glass stuffed in your gob? Don't get me started on the retarded 'I want to be japanese' ones that aren't even smileys either!

Bloody journalists in this whole Iraqi war thing. Half of them have speech impediments or otherwise some debility which makes you think they should be clearing mines and not shoving their deformed face in a camera! One of them I can't work out if it's a man or a woman and another one says Eeeeraqi in the most infuriating way. The Iraqis don't say it like that so why the fuck are you! I say we strap those smart-bomb add-ons to their feet and drop them out of a B52 at 40,000 feet. Now put your 'hard nosed' journalism to some use bitch!

CNN classic [pod]

Experts with newscaster on CNN 24th March.
3 yank experts including a former 2-star general from delta force, 1 ex SAS and the network's Anchor.
Footage of iraqis giving themselves up.
Anchor: We have no verification as of yet if they are british or american troops taking these POW's
Yank 1: Only americans wear boots like that, they're american
Yank 2: I agree, and they appear to have american camouflage jackets.
Yank 3 (delta force bloke): I'm not so sure, there's not enough up-close detail to tell 100%, we'd need some close images to tell make of boots and jackets and maybe the shape of their kevlar headgear.
Ex SAS man: Call yourselves experts? Since when did US forces use an SA80 as a standard issue rifle? Their DPM's can be bought as can boots so you're chasing rainbows if you want to identify them from their clothes.
Anchor: I think you're right.
Ex SAS man: Course I'm bloody right. Any one with half a brain and basic military training worth their salt should be able to identify a British soldier by his rifle. Not to mention the fact they're covering all points properly, not shouting 'woo yeah' randomly, and haven't raised a flag in direct contravention with orders.
At this point 1 of the Yanks walks off stage tearing his mic off, and the Anchor says 'I think we can safely say the soldiers on your screen are British. Now for these messages'.
Fade to ad break!

Chinglish at it's best! [lurks]

I just bought a digital (FM, PLL) radio off eBay, to replace my crappy old Grundig world radio. Got it for £11 all in so wasn't expecting much although I was fairly disappointing to discover that's it's not really digital at all. They've fudged a digital display onto an analog dial. Bah!

However all is not lost as the the 'manual' for the radio has afforded a good deal of comedy value. Here's some choice quotes;
FM Near distance Hi-fi broadcast mode, usual cover range is no more than 100 kilometers. Use the method of relay station to increase cover area,at present,it develops fastest, its quantity is most, its tone is best, there are thirty stations in some cities of the developed countries. A lot of FM stations have been built up in China since the eighties, and they can nearly broadcast stereo program. The SCA to some stations, is used to bradcast stock and education.

Bless! The precautions section also has a but that says 'Avoid fierce lash, falling into the ground". Hehe!

The French [beej]

' Going to war without France is like going duck hunting without your accordion.' -- Donald Rumsfeld, U.S. Secretary of Defense
'Somebody was telling me about the French Army rifle that was being advertised on eBay the other day. The description was, 'Never shot. Dropped once.''
Q. Why are there so many tree-lined boulevards in France? A. Germans like to march in the shade. Q: Why don't the French want to bomb Saddam Hussein? A: Because he hates Americans, loves mistresses, and wears a beret. -- Conan O'Brien
'The last time the French asked for more proof it came marching into Paris under a German flag.' -- David Letterman

Thursday 3 April 2003

Firewall Fun [spiny]

OK, so why the fark would M$ in Surrey be trying to talk to LSASS.EXE over UDP on my PC at a quarter to 10 at night?
Symantec firewall picked up te inbound connection attempt which I of course blocked. Isn't LSASS something to do with security irrc?