Saturday, 31 May 2003
The man became my hero and since then I've collected everything he's ever done. Oldfield is God so it depresses me that so many others have only experienced Tubular Bells. His other words such as Hergest Ridge, Ommadawn and Incantations were only marginally successful. So clutching for that mainstream listenership again, Oldfield authored two sequels. The second fairly average by Oldfield standards, the third being rather more impressive.
His last album out was Tr3s Lunas, an ambient set of works designed to accompany a strange VR type experience which is also on the CD. I haven't had a lot of time for that sort of thing, I'd far rather he got back to writing proper instrumental masterpeices again but we can't always have what we want from our heros, can we?
The reason for this blog is because a few days ago Oldfield released yet another effort in the Tubular Bells camp. This time it's not a sequel, it's the original remade. That is to say it's been completely rerecorded with modern digital techniques which have obviously come a long way in 30 years! Much of the original instruments survive and were used on the remake and it certainly benefits from some more accomplished playing, a little more feeling and flair than the original which was slightly mechanical in note-for-note tones.
Quite simply, this recording is amazing. He has taken a piece of music that I have known intimately, that I grew up with, and then re-rendered it with the improvement in technology, musical ability and the vastness of 30 years of hindsight. The effect is breathtaking. I'm utterly gobsmacked. I can't help thinking now that life is very good indeed. In the few days around my 2^5th birthday I've got a job, seen the Matrix Reloaded, had beers with my mates and obtained an album so beautiful in it's mastery that it's done something that no music has done for years, brought a tear to my eye.
Now you're either with me on this one or you have no idea what I'm talking about. Obviously everyone should buy the album either way. If you haven't heard Tubular Bells (and I find that very difficult to believe), there can be no other way to hear it. If you know it and love it as I do, then this is an essential making excuses at the office and nipping out and buying instantly kind of purchase.
If you're hard up, of dubious moral fibre or want to hear it right here and right now without waiting for it, you can head over to Filesoup, sign up for the forum and take a look in the non-VIP Torrent forum for the Bittorrent of the album although it wont be there for long.
Oldfield is my God, I renounce all others and offer my life at his feet for all eternity.
Yet for all that, shopping turned up, it was largely all good. Unlike when I went to Sainsburys and they treated online shoppers as bid-ridden retards and took the opportunity of selecting the absolute oldest, nearest to use-by date, products for anything remotely expirable. It was so bad we ended up having to chuck some stuff out and Sainsburys along with them.
I think I tried something else, I can't recall. It was shit as well. The only one I hadn't tried was Asda. Few days ago I put in a monster order from Asda to celebrate emerging from my great baked-bean era of unemployment.
Now Asda have a strange system that requires you book a slot first but then you can modify your shopping list up until 5PM the day before the delivery. I did that and trawled through my favorites list at Tesco and chucked it all into my Asda basket. Now while their web-site is IE only (sigh) and the shopping list is anything but descriptive, it's quite intuitive to browse through the site, click on stuff and see it appear on the right hand side shopping.
What's more, the way the shelves are laid out and the ease of use and proper results one obtains from searches (again as opposed to Tesco), made it much easier to browse and select rather than stocking up on things I know I want. There was also a fair abundance of pictures of products listed right in the products, as opposed to every 10th thing having an icon you can click on for a picture and better description.
That said, Tescos probably have better descriptions for items when they do have them. A clincher, however, is that Asda are cheaper on the whole - sometimes the same but most of the time a few pence less per item. The delivery fee is cheaper (Â£4.25) and it goes away completely when you order over a ton, as is right and proper. I ordered just over a ton so I reckon I saved substantially over Tesco.
As for the shopping, a chap turned up in a big refrigerated fan with panels that open to slide out the boxes of goodies. It couldn't really cope with the current heatwave though and much of the stuff was warm but that was hardly usual and hardly a tragedy, the frozen stuff had been kept in a frozen part of the van which also is different from Tesco and Sainsburys which had delivered half-thawed goods.
I noticed that large glass bottles were bubble wrapped. A couple of bottles of wine and a large bottle of olive oil. That's good. Very pleasantly surprised with the substitutions. They had pretty much everything I ordered but substituted 3 smaller bags of frozen chicken breasts for the large one I ordered. Didn't send me Houmous as they didn't have any (I suspect they had Houmous but not proper Kosher stuff, not that I would have cared but they may have decided it wouldn't be suitable to me - fair enough).
The only stupid substitution was caraway seeds for some schwartz mixed spice thing which, err, had caraway seeds in it but was hardly useful for toasting some 5-seed varieties for bread.
Finally, the vegetables. Normally I don't order them from these guys because they're always shit and we have loads of local greengrocers but I wanted to test them out. They were good! I even ordered 200g of fresh pepperoni from the deli and that looks excellent too.
So on the whole, a big thumbs up for Asda. The most inexpensive and so far the best quality of goods and a pretty decent web site to boot. I recommend them based on my experience so far.
Friday, 30 May 2003
For those who haven't seen it, this story typifies what I am referring to. For those too slack to click a link, allow me to summarise: two nine year old girls were arrested by Surrey police for throwing rocks and other miscellaneous projectiles off of a footbridge over the M25. This is obviously quite worrisome to motorists - an impact with a stone at a relative velocity of 70mph or more is not going to do a car any good at all; not to mention what could happen to the driver. The girls in question were later released; their age made them immune to any punitive action the police might have otherwise taken.
This evening, as I was returning from the local sales establishment having purchased various stimulating beverages containing dubiously high amounts of caffeine and taurine, I observed two children, around 11 or 12, standing on the roof of the multi-storey car park near my halls complex. They were randomly bombarding passing cars and pedestrians with rocks, bricks, empty bottles, whatever they had to hand. I considered calling the local police station, but by the time I'd found their number, the hoodlums had disappeared.
Several times, when returning from a night out in Coventry or nearby Leamington, flatmates of mine have been set upon by groups of local youths ranging from 12 to 18. There have been no serious incidents, but one can only wonder how long it will be before this changes. Another indicator of this decline is the fact that the UK has the highest rate of teen pregnancies in Western Europe.
As mentioned earlier, being one of the younger members of EED, I am perhaps not best placed to address the causes of this decline, or what can be done to address it; I have no frame of reference with which to compare today's behaviour and culture. I will leave these questions to my more wise and experienced clanmates. What is the answer? Instituting a curfew? Bringing back corporal punishment? National service? Censoring television and radio? Whatever the case, I think all would agree that something needs to be done soon. This state of affairs is unacceptable.
Thursday, 29 May 2003
Imagine this ok? you've just rounded off a thoroughly pleasant evening with your fellow EED - much beer, sambuca and of course champagne has been had. Merriment and involved discussion covering a gamut of topics has wound down and the simple fact remains; bed beckons, and therefore a taxi is required and in time appropriated from the Streets Of London Town.
Now extend your imagination to a scenario which a comedy writer couldn't create in their wildest dreams.. you've picked the only taxi in Christendom to be driven by Ron McFilth - the world's most right wing, opinionated 'Englishman' who's very existence depends on his ability to use the word 'cunt' every few minutes.
Tony Blair? 'a fucking wanker'. Ken Livingstone? 'a fucking cunt'. Anyone who wasn't legitimately born under the flag of St. George? 'a fucking wanker cunt'.
Initial investigations reveal that this chap was a genetic experiment gone awry; Phil Mitchell added to what sounded like a draft of the new BNP manifesto. Nobody escaped unscathed, and opinions were offered faster than his drunken occupants could absorb. Norris McWerter (he of Guinness Book Of Records fame) has been alerted - nobody, ever, has managed to use the word 'wanker' in place of nouns, pronouns, and verbs in a single sentence.
Taxi drivers. Salt of the earth. Cunts.
A few days ago, the clan witnessed a spectacle of almost biblical proportions; first there was the parting of the Red Sea - then came news that Half Life 2 is going to rock - and *then* Skeeve committed two funnies to the mailing list.
We realised of course, instantly, that something was wrong. Skeeve doesn't make funnies - he sends sarcastic remarks from his Blackberry. This is his calling, his raison d'etre. So what was up?
Easy. As revealed yesterday over a few swift halves, Skeeve turned 30 today. He has entered that difficult age, where sarcasm can only give way to increased funnies.. so all together now - HAPPY BIRTHDAY WELSH* CUNT0R! :)
*He's not Welsh. No, really.
Next out of the box was a spare hotsync cradle. Yawn! Ok last out of the box was a nice new TFT screen for the shuttle. In case you missed out on my shuttle enthusing in the past, this machine sits near our TV in the living room, it does kids games, it does the wifes work, it does divx, dvd and mp3. It rocks. It's now got a 15' TFT attached to it that also takes composite and svid in. So when the wifes must watch Carol Cunting Smylie destroy peoples homes, I can plug me Cube or PS2 into the TFT and rock on without bleating. Only cost 180 or so from Dabs, and for a couple of quid more you can add a tuner and turn it into a sexy flat screen TV.
And in an amazing act of self control, I actually managed to put all these toys aside, and go out and watch a bit of the TT practice laps. I swear I forget just how fast these mad bastards go until you get out and see them up close. See that big long straight in the first pic? Well here's what it runs into. Spot the gravel run off? No, I don't either. They're fuking mad!
The Rugby Shirts! Oft told were tales of the mythical Rugby Shirts which had entertained children at their mother's knee through generations! A beautiful chimera, a fabled mirage, the Rugby Shirts of half-light and rumour. 'The Rugby Shirts!' the populace of the Dickens cried as one (although it might have been 'did he just call him a luckbard?'). We steadied our drinks. Strong men gazed at the heavens and pretended grit was in their eye. The Rugby Shirts!
Well reporting in, one has to say they're very swish indeed. The coloured check is actually very nice indeed - the grey and blue are the sort of colours that you'd grab if you saw on the shelf cos they are just better than 'normal stuff' and the stitching of the logo etc is absolutely top notch.
Dr Dave immediately divested himself and slipped into a medium and showed it off. Now, Dr Dave is a man of precise demeanour and a trim fella with it. Looked at another way, it could be said that he makes a twiglet look like a beach ball. His medium clung to his manly b-splines and the logo shone. The not-exactly-house-sized Spiro slipped into a large and declared that he made it look good. After the cessation of coughing and clearing of beer from the table, it was agreed that Spiro was not to tell any more funnies.
'Here's yours' said The Brit 'They didn't do XXL's'. He handed me an XL. I looked at the good Dr and the Cornishman and had the beginnings of a small doubt. I fingered the cloth. It stretched. Now inbetween the toasting of crumpets, dewy green lawns, Sunday cricket, ironed broadsheets and brogues, there's something slightly worrying to my concept of englishness in a rugby shirt that stretches. Regardless, we consumed beer, we laughed ourselves silly and returned home.
12.30am, my gaff, the hall landing. A couple of points of information were established. Rugby shirts now stretch. This is fashion. I am therefore old. Things that stretch are designed one size too small. Am is not an L that thinks it's an XL when an XL wasn't an XXL. Whether in the mirror or looking down, it is now clear this torso should not be clung in Weapons of Mass Constriction which in this context probably are banned by international treaty. Oh dear.
The rugby shirts are incredibly fine. But mine's going on the wall of my den. Until at least someone hides really rather a large number of pies.....
Wednesday, 28 May 2003
Clan Electricdeath has existed for a number of years despite all attempts to the contrary.
Tuesday, 27 May 2003
Bizarrely, this web site claims that Blueyonder is no longer enforcing transparent caches but it sure looks like it to me. So I turned to the same bit of software I used at work (on a BY workwise connections, business connection with enforced transparent proxy!), this Multiproxy thing. Then I just banged in the BY proxies on the first link. It will distribute webcache load among the proxies, alleviating latency issues and also picking the fastest current responding proxy.
I've had no problems at home yet but at work I found some sites don't like you going through different proxies for the same site. There's an option to do change that in the preferences though. Might be worth a try for other folks on BY connections.
At the moment, with the dramatic price drop in ADSL, I'd prefer to move to one of the 2Mb DSL connections with a reputable ISP than just bump my BY account to 2Mb.
Monday, 26 May 2003
- The training mode is quite cute, based on a hoodeck type environment.
- The sound appears very weak at first. Things improve if you up the effects volume & quieten down the music.
- The music is like a second rate tangerine dream album
- The voice acting is hammy & poor dialogue
- The 'feel' of the game isn't very solid.
- View bob is actually used to good effect, stopping you sniping on the run etc. Probably one of the best implementations I've come across & more effective that the expanding reticule on movement methods.
- Graphics are nice with plenty of particle effects
- Physics look OK. (Although not in comparison to HL2) With Breed aliens being knocked back by your bullets
- Runs at a decent lick, seems a decent enough engine.
- Mission start is delivery by dropship, including using fixed guns & jumping out the back of the ship. Nice.
- I've no idea how this compares to halo as I don't have an xbox - someone else give it a go & report back
Friday, 23 May 2003
Sadly the map pack is a little oversold. Half of them still don't support T-Hunt, this time just crashing RS out when you try them. Also much of the new maps are so amateur that it hurts. Still, there's a couple of really tasty looking ones. I've got maybe half a dozen maps in rotation for tonights bash. From that I guess it'll be apparent if any of them are worth mixing up with the standard maps for sessions later on.
Planetside arrives tomorrow so tonight may be the last RS session for awhile from me and by extension the last time I can be arsed running the server. So come get some bitches!
Thursday, 22 May 2003
Difficult one this...I don't want to end up being forced to wear a 'special' arm patch in RS or anything but I would be interested in other peoples views on the above subject.....as I unpack my latest purchases from Malaga airport duty-free (see below)
When I was married I took a wholesome manly approach to noncey things like skin care. Shower gel? What's wrong with a bit of bloody soap! I would laugh derisorily at my mates on windsurfing hols rubbing moisturiser and other 'girls' products on themselves at the end of the day. I was a bloke right? We were meant to have manly rough skin right?
OK I would get itchy flaking skin on my hips and arms every winter, dry patches on my face and big wrinkly bags round my eyes but that was old age.....and, yeah, my face had that rugged elephant look but so did lot of film stars!
When I got divorced and met Di 6 years ago she was horrified about my lack of personal interest in skincare. I discovered that the itchy skin problem I had had for years went in a few weeks after I started using proper moisturiser shower gel. I found I was permanently dehydrated and increasing my daily water intake had an amazing effect on my appearance - from there it was just a matter of time before I hit the slippery slope to 'mens facial products' - Clinque saleswomen now rub their hands in glee as they see me approaching. Time spent in airport terminals is now not complete without a trip to the Biotherm Homme counter....hehe.
Now maybe you are all going to say you are a knob-end Houmous and we sussed all this years ago..but if you aren't and you don't believe me then go and buy a Clinque or Biotherm can of shaving gel (yes I know its not cheap but you're worth it! ) and compare it to the normal crap you use everyday. For the ultimate test get something like Biotherm Aquapower ultra hydratant (no I don't know what that means either) and slap it on your boatrace and tell me that doesn't feel wonderful!
I shall now retire to a place far away from any trees with branches at suitable lynching height......
p.s. I just opened my new Gillette mach 3 TURBO shaver and am pleased to announce you really can shave against the grain without it giving you a rash! I'm so happy!
Wednesday, 21 May 2003
For one thing M1942, greatly improves the audio experience of your '42 battles. The vanilla 1942 game contains something like 24 different sounds, with M1942 you get over 200. They range from new sound effects for the weapons (The sniper rifles now emit a much more satisfying crack) to pain sounds for soldiers. The sounds are of very high quality & immerse you in the heat of battle better. Visual stuff is catered for too. You now have proper clouds of debris being thrown in the air when shells hit loose ground, flame effects for the unfortunate recipients of and anti tank round, improvements to the game GUI & pretty good blood effects when pumping Jerry full of lead.
My last map of the evening was Berlin, 16 vs 16 and I can say that M1942 significantly enhanced the gameplay of 1942. If I had to choose one word to sum up the battle, it would be that it felt much more 'brutal' than with vanilla 1942. Definitely got the adrenaline pumping at a rate of knots. Well worth the download, even for ISDN pe0ns like me :)
Firstly, the phrase that inspired this blog: 'FARTSCROTE TURDBAGS'. As mentioned above, this phrase was coined by Lurker after he was stupid enough to believe that fileplanet would actually provide a UK mirror for paying customers. Oh well, shit happens.
Next, cunthook. The origins of this insult are lost in the mists of time (or in the alcohol-induced fog that seems to permeate my memory), but I have a vague recollection that this term was coined by resident Manxlord Slim after having been told repeatedly on UKGamer that he was a fucking tool and completely wrong. What he was wrong about I can't remember, but it's not really important.
And finally, the daddy of all insults, as immortalised by His Beerness Amnesia in blog 368 - 'fucktard'. Allegedly first uttered by the interstellar mass that is Mugwum, it has become the favourite putdown in cross-hatch EED. Its etymology is not difficult to grasp, except perhaps to those best described by the word itself. 'fucking retard' => 'fucktard'.
Tuesday, 20 May 2003
Think that's really impressed me on this is the installation of Recognizer on the pda. For those unaware, Recognizer is a MS program that seeks to decipher normal writing. Gone are the days of ye olde palm single entry hyroglyphics. What's amazing is that cursive script in my spidery hand is still recognised by this thing with really good accuracy and tbh I write like a dog. Tap a field, scrawl all over the screen and then get that slightly unreal feeling when it transfers into neat text. Leet!
Now I know I haven't really explored the potential of my machine and despite a few convos with Dr Dave and the Kaveman, I think it's worth a blog. So shoot pda-pro's. What do I need in the endless pursuits of more toys(TM)?
On the other hand, I found a live bittorrent of all of the hi-res movies. Click here and the 8 (250mb total) quicktime movies shall be yours. This is essential viewing, this is the most amazing computer game I've seen in years. Finally after all the hype concerning physics, someone puts it to use in a game in a way that actually improves gameplay. I've gone beyond raving about it, you just need to see it for yourself. Suffice to say it's clear 'Oh. My. God.' situation.
Sure the pings are zero, FTP, news, P2P (Bittorrent etc) are lightning fast and I'm sure they'd be twice as fast on the 2Mb/s service but then my line is sat around not being used lots of the time anyway so it's no big deal to me just to let the downloads go for longer. It's certainly not worth an additional tenner a month.
On the other hand, I'm seriously constrained on the upstream. Had they raised that, I would have been in like a shot. As it is, as soon as there's a reasonably priced ADSL offering about I'll be off Blueyounder quick as a flash. If only to get away from the pathetic webcache.
The current situation is just ridiculous, nearly 10:1 ratio of down to up! It's a major pain in the ass for working from home (sending files to clients etc) and for hosting a games server for your chums etc. If you're prepared to pay 50 quid a month, I reckon you're doing this sort of thing and a bit more upstream is what you'd want.
No, stuff this. I wont be upgrading. It's stupid, they could just introduce a bandwidth limit and increase those rates for when they were needed. That would suit me more and send a cap into the ass of the P2P kiddies leaving Kazaa on 24/7.
Ironically, my web browsing is actually slower than it was on ADSL at half the downstream speed. That because my last ADSL provider didn't use braindead badly performing transparent web caches. Blueyonder does. When it works, it's superb because cable bursts to insane speeds before it's choked. However most nights web sites snail along. What is the bloody point of flogging people broadband and then fucking it all up at the last minute with this shoddy webcache crap?
I'm puzzled why high-speed broadband in this country seems to mean just downstream. Does it say that somewhere?
Monday, 19 May 2003
70s sucked cock though
Hey, come on the 70s women knew their place
Gallery De Minger, thats their place
lava lamps, peace and love
the 70s was top stuff
if you take your average 20 year old 70s lass and took her to the 90s or the 00s she'd be 2.65 x fitter... thats scientific fact chum!
besides, we were born in the 70s, ergo they must have ruled
oh come on, I've seen the movies of the 70s. there were no wuffas in the 70s, that was a mid 80s phenomenon
even the goddesses were wuffas in the 70s
you could pinch a 70's womans arse and not get sued and imprisioned and put on the sex offenders register
the irony is, when you could fuck sans conversation in the 70s, all the lasses looked pig ugly so you
the exception to my rule is of course TV's Linda Carter - aka The Wonderwoman
who was 70s, and fucking FIT!
Dave, you're fucked up.
and charlies angels
and wonder woman
and the bionic woman
and goldie hawn
I REST MY FUCKING CASE
the blond on robins nest
oh robin's nest, phwoar!
she was fit in the 70's
you don't get any hornier than fucking abba
felicity kendal though, did you have the horn for her even though you were a nipper? I fucking did
legs n co
Oh and Blondie
i suppose even Pauline from eastenders was fit in Are You Being Served...
dave, you're a fucking queer
Blondie was responsible for my first erection, I'm sure of it
olivia newton john!
daves fucking well owned here
that bird from Logan's Run
Oh god she was hot
in fact, the entire cast of grease including the blokes
yeah, fucking fair cop lads
always willing to admit when I'm well beaten
and that was the first movie I saw where a woman took her clothes off
the toga episodes of Star Trek
fucking thousands of episodes of star trek had fit birds
and fit aliens as well
dave's a fucking homo
he's fucking bent
okay, there was fit birds in the 70s... but my point is that the 70s didnt do them any favours
felicity kendal and blondie alone, quite frankly, justifies the decade
the blond bird in blakes 7, cali?
here we go
the fucking pooner
and the doctors assistant
wooo, fuck yes
the jugle bird in Dr who
the doctor's assistant that wore the cave girl clothes
how fit was she?!
Dave is just so owned!
The prosecution rests.
Thursday, 15 May 2003
Given I spend a fair amount of time in the car, I feel justified in putting a leet bit of kit in there: specifically, an MP3 player. Having done a quick search of the usual suspects for in-car kit, I am considering the following:
From Blaupunkt, the Woodstock DAB 52. This little beauty supports normal CD playback as well as MP3 playback via CDRs/CDRWs and MMC. But wait, that's not all! It also includes a DAB digital radio receiver and tuner!
From Sony, the CDX-MP70. Essentially the same features as the Blaupunkt, minus DAB and MMC.
From Pioneer, the DEH-P8400MP. Slightly better than the Sony, perhaps, with in-built MP3 and WMA support, it has a DAB Tuner Control built in, but in order to make use of it I would have to buy a seperate tuner. Another 250 notes. Somewhere in between the other two - DAB is not essential for me, but it would be nice. When I can afford to shell out the extra cash, this gives me the option to add DAB functionality later.
So, my fellow clanmates. Comments? Suggestions? Scathing put-downs? What say you?
Wednesday, 14 May 2003
However, when I was searching for this at home, google was turning up really naff all options. Now when I searched this at lunch at work, I suddenly get a wealth of great links. Eh?
I remember reading a comment on slashdot that if you want true international google you need to use /intl or something similar. Is this an example of google trying to get smart with my IP (shows as UK at home and US at work)? If so it's annoying. Anyone know the answer?
Somehow I suspect they'll live without me.
I tend not to muck about and go straight for Crucial. Thing is, they've got free delivery going at the moment and that's Royal Mail Special Delivery too. That already made it cheaper than some other places all in but I also found this code on Usenet. Whack BBUKWEBPROMO in as a Coupon code and get another 5% off. That means you get a 512MB stick of DDR2700 CAS2 for Â£52.45 all in with delivery. Can't say fairer.
Monday, 12 May 2003
Goodies! and even a close up shot of the goodies' logo - came out remarkably clearly ja?
Expect onward dissemination to you 'orrible lot shortly.
All together now.... 'Werthers Original; tasty, delicious, and uncommonly good'.
Sunday, 11 May 2003
Its been heavily described as a snes in you hand and by all accounts and it might as well be since every dev under the sun is re-releasing snes games onto it. Zelda being the most recent case.
This is both good and bad. Bad because I've played all these games before but good since most of them rock. I feel the good outweighs the bad. So with this in mind I was always going to notice the gp32 since the community for it has written a snes emu for it. Why have a snes-alike in your hand when you can actually have a snes in your hand :)
So this week I finally decided to get one. Cost me 175 for the unit and a 128meg smart card. The card is the same one that is used in samsung digital cameras and other devices so can be re-used if you have those items. First impressions of the unit are a mixed bag. The case is practically identical to a gba. 4 button setup and a 3.5 inch screen. Even the Gamepark logo is a blatent rip of the nintendo one. It also feels quite lightweight but imo these issues matter not.
The system specs are quite interesting too. Stereo sound, 320*240 resolution, headphone jack(take that gba sp), 8meg ram and a 32 bit arm9 processor. Whats special about the processor is that they haven't locked the speed. So while it defaults to about 15(i think)mhz thats not where it stays(The gba runs around 12 I think). It can be clocked as high as you want but its true limit is 132mhz. This may suck your batteries that bit more (about 30% more) but it opens the machine to many more apps. The snes emu being one of them.
Snes not your bag? Well how about one of the following? Nes, SMS, GB (black and white), pc engine, c64 (portable paradroid anyone?), c16+4, some early arcade games and ATARI ST. Its this last one that persuaded me to get the unit. Its still early days but it already runs games full speed with sound. Compatability with games is a little patchy but I can play Kick off2 and dungeon master perfectly, which is very impressive. When you remember that the ST had versions of sensi soccer, championship manager and mega-lo-mania the emu updates can't come fast enough.
Getting these programs onto the gp32 couldn't be easier either. The machine comes with a usb cable in the box! Simply plug it in. Register on the gp32 site and download all the linker software. Fire it up and its like writing to a hard drive. The link can transfer 1meg in about 3 seconds.
Console emus not your thing? Well how about doom1+2, wolf3d and heretic? With the faster processor and bigger screen it craps all over the wanky gba doom port they did. Whats more the demo (the first 8 levels) is free! If you have the wad's from the pc version then the whole game is free :) Also there is a scumm port. Scumm is the engine that lucasarts used for maniac mansion all the way upto games like the dig.
All in all I'm very impressed with my gp32. The only real problem is that fact that its not a gba. There aren't countless millions of them out there and so it will probably go the way of the lynx/game gear. There are very few commercial games out there for it but tbh who cares. As long as the emu community keep working on it is fine by me.
One final thing. This is in dev atm and they seem to be confident of getting it near full speed. /me crosses fingers woot
Wednesday, 7 May 2003
I was a customer of Eclipse, I did not think they were amazing, but I never had a reason to complain. So when I realised I was going to move I thought, fuck it I was going to 'play the field' and see what, or indeed who was out there! Telewest fitted nicely into this picture! We needed to chuck in a phone line, I wanted Sky Sports (and History, Discovery Channels!) and 1 Meg cable internet sounded good! The house was pre-wired for Telewest, so it was a piece of piss. So I'm now a Telewest customer!
As a bit of background, I live with 2 birds and another bloke. The bloke is also a techie, and has desktop and laptop. I have a desktop, and bring my laptop home now and again to work (or play) from home. That's 4 machines, not a massive amount, and given both of us have been SysAdmin type people we have quite a cool network setup, with an old P3 500 as a DHCP server on our network, so once you plug in you have your IP and internet access immediately. The next step we wanted to take was to go wireless! I have never worked with a wireless network before, so I was a bit worried. But how hard could it be in the age of making all things technical gobshite proof!=20
So I got bog standard wireless equipment from Scan, a Wireless Access Point, two PCI wireless network cards and two PCMCIA wireless network cards. They were not that cheap, but not as expensive as I had feared. We faced two problems, one was the fact that the Blueyonder cable modem worked via DHCP, and therefore we hoped that the wireless network would be able to take a IP and the devices behind it would be able to talk away happy as Larry!
Not so! I tried it a hundred different ways, but it would not come together. No matter how I twisted and turned and no matter how many setups' I tried it would not work. NO matter what I did the wireless adapter would not get an IP from the cable modem. I decided that I would go back to the old setup for a while till I figured out what to do?
It was while doing this I found out something truly mental. Something, had I known a few months ago I would have stayed with Eclipse! You guys may or may not know but you have to register your mac address with BY, and indeed every mac address of every machine access the internet from your connection. It's a bit of a pain, and I have to wonder about the Big Brotherness (is that a word!) of it all, I can see where they are coming from so I do not get that upset about it. I can add and subtract mac addresses till the cows come home so that softens the blow. But the thing that really 'fucked me off' (as Chris would say) was that you can only have 5 mac addresses per account. So I can only have 5 devices capable of accessing the internet at any time. Now that would not be that bad for your =A310 a month basic package, but I'm on the 1meg cable =A340 a month jobbie and with the wireless adapter I have 6 devices/interfaces that may or may not access the internet. You cannot buy another block of 5 or anything like that. It's a hard and fast rule. It's insane.
Now to top it off I was downloading the newest 24 on Monday morning and the connection just died. Rang support, they were nice, polite but had no clue. I left it for 24 hours just incase it was an outage or something like that. Alas 2 days later BY haven't a clue what the problem is, I was onto their support pe0ns for about 2 hours last night to no avail...=20
'power the modem off, wait 10 seconds, power on....does that fix it'
'ok then, power the modem off for 10 seconds, and power your PC off too....turn them both back on....does that fix it'
'I don't know what to do then, I will have to escalate it to our Engineers. You should hear from them in about 2 days if your lucky'
So I have a computer desk (which was a week late from Argos), and a copy of Raven Shield (ok, ok...at long last), but I can't access the fucking net to play it online and support the game is wavering a bit in EED it seems!
Tuesday, 6 May 2003
It might be. It really is massive, play takes place on a world devided up into eight or so continents. Each of those contenents takes about ten minuets to drive from end to end in the average vehicle (oh yes, it's got lots of vehicles!). Each of the continents has its's own look, but they all share the common 'lumpy landscape' theme that we all remember from Tribes 2. There's not much in the way of landmarks sadly and most of the interiors and buildings look like they came from the same pile of bits. The various bases and towers scattered around the continent are linked with a series of roads, and the whole thing is linked to your teams starting area, the sanctuary, buy a jumpgate. The jumpgate is also mysteriously your teams source of power, the bases you capture must be powered to generate gear like guns and planes, and this power must be delivered to the base on a truck from the jump gate.
To take a base a team must hack its central control panel and defend the base for a resupply of juice. It's a pretty tense time, with the announcement that the base has been taken going out continent wide, alerting the other team that they've got work to do. If a team gets all the bases, the continent get's 'locked out', and the only means of entry (I think - not too clear on this) is the warp gate.
And that's really all there is to the gameplay. There's a few other jobs to do, like deploy mobile stations which allow players to resupply their guns and ammo, and also contains a transporter tube so new players can beam in our out at that point. Problem is, this goes completely unrewarded apart from players gratitude, so I can't see many people bothering. You can drive the various vehicles around, both airbourne and land based, and they're the expected mix of light fast and weak or big hard and slow.
The treehuggery part really doesn't seem to get in the way much at all. You earn battle experience for killing people, taking bases, filling up a bases fuel tank and all that. When you gain a level on these points, you get to buy certifications that allow you to drive cetain vehicles or use a particular bit of kit. It's a nice enough system, although you're going to run out of stuff to buy pretty quickly. It doesn't seem to be that a higher level player is that much tougher than a newbie, I certainly killed plenty of folks on my first night in who had some pretty flashy gear on.
Team work is kind of essential though, and with the experience points duplicated, not devided up between your teammates, you've got a very compelling reason to team up. Lots of things just aren't possible without a large number of players, and the support vehicles in particular are vulnerable without some heavy backup.
So is it the one?
Na probably not. It is very good though, and it's still in beta so praps the things that niggle me about it will be fixed up, but it's very, very, awfully very like Tribes 2. And tribes 2 flopped. Why did it flop? Because people suck. And people suck in this too. Vehicle generators near the action are often crowded with players who buy huge multiplayer tanks then drive off in them alone. People often don't want to do the support roles or defend a base, but always want to be on the front line, so often a game consists of taking a base, moving on, and watching it get taken back again half way through the next battle. And there's the balancing bleating too, which of course in a pvp game like this will never ever fucking end! It'll probably be a minor success this game, but I sadly can't see a long term appeal. It's not really that much different from previous attempts at large numbers fps!'s like this, Taranus and 10-six, where the guilds with the big numbers just clean up, and if you're not in a big guild, you just won't be able to compete. Hope I'm wrong though, I am enjoying it, and I'm going to play it a bit more to confirm my prediction that the problem with massively mutliplayer games are the players.
Monday, 5 May 2003
It's still the Quake 3 engine but after various other manky half-working engines, it's quite nice to return to something swish and fast like old faithful. It's also quite comforting being able to bang your keys in and get up and running in seconds because you've done it all before. It is very familiar too because, err, it's just yet another FPS where you run around with guns solving 'puzzles'.
Hang on, but I said it wasn't that bad didn't I. It isn't! The guns are waftier than before even though the ones you get still do no damage and everything has to be shot for ages before it dies. You muck about with the tricorder to get information on stuff and I even had to reroute some power with a little puzzle thing which involved rotating pipe tiles to get the power back on.
The demo basically just throws things at you wave after wave every time you do something. Open door, wall breaks and another ten aliens to kill. Health and power rechargers are on walls. It's all really quite the same as before, the featureless corridors (FFS!) that they decided to show off in the demo are an odd choice. Yet for all that, the aliens are a little more challenging than you'd expect and theres some really nice modelled aliens to talk with as the story moves along.
Worth a leech if you fancy something a bit different. Presumably the game will just appear out of nowhere as well at some point. Might be fun to play a bit more of a Quake-style game online for a bit assuming that there's some interesting weapons this time around.
Friday, 2 May 2003
In fact as I discussed this failure on #EED, Slim mentioned a power surge and this jogged my memory that insanely early in the morning I was woken up to the power coming back on our house. Having obviously been down at some point earlier. The machine that just failed is a Shuttle cube-like PC and... I've just switched the HD over to the missus' PC.
The irony here is that the missus PC was Wench 1.0 years ago. From when I worked at CU Amiga and had a PC server in the lounge for MP3s and watching DVDs. At some point it's had the mobo upgraded but otherwise Jeannine's creaky old PC was the same box. So essentially that creaky old box has outlived a Shuttle Celeron based PC and a DIY PC-Chips all-in-one mobo based Duron system (where the CPU fried).
As usual, moving the HD over resulted in a non-booting system on XP just as it does on 2K. However the 'repair install' option (which bizarrely, I've never used before) seemed to work. Wench fired up on the old crusty 128MB Celeron 500 system eventually and all is well although I fear we wont be running a Raven Shield server on Wench in a hurry! Quickly cannibalised the 256MB stick out of the dead Shuttle since Wench was operating in Comedy Turn-Based OS mode.
So now I need to replace Jeannine's PC. I was thinking of the second one on this page with a Duron 1.3GHz. That'll be pretty cheap I guess at about Â£135 for the lot. Although if her old crusty 2x64MB PC66 memory wont work in it I'll need to buy some more. Any one else got any bright ideas for building a cheap PC?
Realistically, I'd also look at a new system (sans monitor) if it were cheap enough because the HD is so slow and noisy it's a major PITA. So that means I need case, mobo, floppy, graphics, lan, cpu, hd, memory.
Anyone know a decent proceedure for cloaning a HD before one of these XP 'repair install' processes? While I'm at it, I ought to move Wench's boot partition off the old Quantum LCT drive as you can hear the bearings aren't too much longer for this world. I've got a spare Seacrate which can go in it, that'll make Wench quite as hell since the PSU fan is inaudible and there's no fan on the CPU.
It certainly looks promising; an Aliens-style APC with a couple of gun turrets, plenty of stuff to blow up (buildings! trees!), and miniguns that would make Jesse Ventura wet himself :-)
Fingers crossed that the forthcoming demo goes the distance!
With the aid of fast CPUs, big hard drives and broadband Internet - it's now possible to steal virtually any type of content and distribute it worldwide without fear of retribution. Barely a new television show airs in the US without being videograbbed, recompressed and shoved on a P2P network in much the same way as music was with Napster. I'm not going to talk about the moral and legal issues here, I've just illustrated this progression as a historical backdrop.
Obviously a few industry representative bodies went after anyone they could with the law rightfully on their side. So those early P2P systems that relied on centralised file listing and serving, IE the Napster model, were shut down. So the next generation of P2P software was based on the Gnutella technology, a distributed searching system but ultimately nodes had to serve up entire files single handedly and that was still possible to track down although it remains very difficult today. ISPs have begun to block common ports and cap bandwidth to stop home broadband users from operating P2P clients permanently serving files 24 hours a day.
Then came the latest generation of P2P systems. A clever Californian going by the name of Bram Cohen, sat down with Python and crafted a truly distributed P2P system designed for distributing large media such as films and television. It's called Bittorrent and it differs from traditional P2P systems in that it doesn't handle mass amounts of files, searching or anything like that. Instead it provides a 'swarming' architecture whereby lots of pieces of these large files are passed around from client to client, distributing the bandwidth burden and making it dramatically harder to track in the process.
Bittorrent certainly isn't a general purpose solution. It's not for lots of files and has no search features of it's own so it's likely to compliment existing P2P technologies such as Gnutella and Direct Connection. However it does provide some powerful technology which is remarkably easy to use. From the user's perspective, all you need to do is install the client and it associates itself with *.torrent files. So all you need to do is download and run a *.torrent file (typically by just clicking on a web link) and a lightweight little window pops up asking where to download and it kicks off.
Under the bonnet what's happening is rather more complex. The torrent file contains the URL for a 'tracker'. This is basically a small webserver daemon that runs on the Internet and acts as a broker for clients. It doesn't know anything about the files that are being shared, it doesn't even know the filename. What the tracker does is tell the clients about other clients who are downloading the same file. It keeps track of the 'pieces' of the file and lets the clients know who has other bits of the file.
It's up to the clients themselves to open connections to eachother and and download pieces they don't have and upload pieces they do have to other clients. What does all of this mean? Well it means that one person can host a large DivX, for example, and they only end up uploading it once and all the rest of the clients download it from eachother. So there's no burden on a single 'warez' server. People downloading it often get it extremely quickly as they get parallel downloads from different people. Click on one of the torrents on this page and you'll see some statistics of Bittorrents in action.
Bittorrent is, depending on your point of view, the ultimate nightmare of Internet piracy or an open-ticket to warez on a massive scale without the hassle. As such it's going to force the assaulted industries to consider where the Internet is going. They'll need to consider that it's really about time to offer this content on the Internet for sale with effective micropayment mechanisms. Only the availability of top quality official content can stem the tide that has already begun with this technology.
I view this as having a parallel with piracy way back in the 8-bit computing days. You wouldn't have bought that Spectrum or C64 unless you could get all the games on tape from your mates at school. In such a way I think that these combined P2P technologies are and will continue to provide in an escalating manner the killer application for broadband Internet. And then, finally, the big corporations will start to think about selling their content electronically at last.
In the mean time, oh boy is Bittorrent the nuts.
Thursday, 1 May 2003
First off, eBay pulled my FM Transmitter auction. I wasn't pleased about that, especially when they kept trying to charge me for the listing despite the fact their site says otherwise. Then I bought a radio-related bit of electronics from the US. It never turned up. I chased the helpful chap in the US and he's good enough to e-mail me scans of the delivery documentation and communication from the US Postal Service. They're claiming that delivery was attempted twice.
Well no, no it wasn't. USPS mail is, as far as I am aware, delivered by the Royal Mail. They definitely attempted no delivery as I was at home on the days they mentioned. They didn't ring my bell, they left no card and a telephone call to my local depot confirms they are holding nothing for me and have no knowledge of this consignment. I'm in the process of kicking this back to the guy who sent it to get him to chase up the USPS and communicate the fact that from this end, they appear to be lying. That's around 70 quid so far resulting in nowt.
Then there's a little cheap arse portable FM radio I bought off some guy. Auction finishes and this guy manually sends me the payment details. I pay by Palpal instantly. Then nothing for two weeks. During which time I attempt to e-mail multiple times, finally culminating in a bounce saying his mailbox is full. He runs a shop and is rated highly but he leaves dubious responses to recent negative feedback from other people, claiming he was on holidays and that the person would have got an auto responder. Well, I didn't.
So I sniff around eBays dispute resolution system. Get so far and it 404s. I bleat to eBay about it, peon responds with nonsense. I respond heatedly that had he read my mail he'd see exactly which bit was 404ing. They agree and apologise. A week later I try reading help pages on dispute resolution, find another 404. Repeat contact to eBay and point out that I'm trying to resolve a dispute and I'm not getting much a lot of joy from them. I get no reply from eBay. Good grief.
I decide I've had enough. I phone up the shop of the peasant who sold me the radio. I managed to get hold of the guy and tear him a (small) new arsehole. He agrees to send it first thing in the morning. Right job done on that one, now I just have to find out what the hell is going on with this one from the US.