Past EED rants


Live leaderboard

Poker leaderboard

Voice of EED

Saturday 29 November 2003

Christmas Party only 2 weeks away.. [vagga]

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

Thursday 27 November 2003

More shiny stuff [spiny]

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

Wednesday 26 November 2003

Huntley is having a laugh! [lurks]

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

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

Lurks sheepishly returns to Blueyonder [lurks]

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

Monday 24 November 2003

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

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

What went wrong? [muz]

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

Sunday 23 November 2003

Monkey fun [lurks]

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

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

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

Christmas Party: 12th December [vagga]

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

Friday 21 November 2003

Matrix: Revolutions [drdave]

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

Thursday 20 November 2003

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

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

Time to take the gloves off? [brit]

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

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

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

Christmas Party [vagga]

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

Time for anti-spam [lurks]

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

Wednesday 19 November 2003

Mobile riporf [am]

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

Tuesday 18 November 2003

i18 Highlights [spiny]

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

Thursday 13 November 2003

Donnie Darko [floyd]

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

Monday 10 November 2003

Call of Duty [lurks]

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

Sunday 9 November 2003

Lian-Li = teh nutz0r [lurks]

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

Friday 7 November 2003

Hate Crime - a Friday musing [brit]

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

Thursday 6 November 2003

Sky+ [lurks]

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

Wednesday 5 November 2003

Eye eye eye wots going on here? [houmous]

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

Cursed. [shedir]

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

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

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

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

Oh another thing I heard.

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

Tuesday 4 November 2003

e-doctors? [lurks]

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

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

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

Operation Flashpoint [drdave]

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

Monday 3 November 2003

Guinness 2 - The Dark Beast Returneth [am]

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

Sunday 2 November 2003

Do The Right Thing [alfa]

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

It hurts so much [floyd]

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