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Wednesday 28 April 2004

Lion Warning [slim]

Tuesday 27 April 2004

Beckham, ASLEEP! [brit]

Oh jesus, GET A LIFE.
David Beckham sleeping = art
So you put a camera in front of David Beckham, and you filmed him sleeping for over an hour, and you think it's *ART* ?
Fuck off love. This is what happens when the pot noodle generation get given enough grant money to stop them having to get proper jobs, or actually do something that doesn't involve a 15 minute trip to Dixons and knowing some bloke with a VCR.

Blueyonder give bandy for free! [lurks]

Ever keen to compete, UK cable Internet provider Blueyonder, issued a shock press release an hour ago. Only some weeks ago they cut my monthly cost by £5 but it seems now they're upping everyone's downstream bandwidth by 50%!

Telewest Broadband is making the most of its advanced fibre optic network by revamping its range of blueyonder internet products to offer faster speeds for the same price as existing services.

The cable company is set to turn up the heat on rival internet providers by permanently boosting the speed of broadband internet connections by 50 per cent, creating another clear benefit for its blueyonder services.

The unique range of access tiers will be available to new customers by the end of May and existing customers will be upgraded, on a region-by-region basis, over the same period. The overhaul will see the following changes:

Nifty huh? So your regular 512K, 1MB and 2MB (the one I have) are being upgraded and they're also adding a cheap 256K service which I reckon they should have introduced ages ago. People want always on Internet, not 'broadband' as such. Anyhow, here's the details;
  • blueyonder broadband 750Kb
    The standard blueyonder broadband service will increase in speed from 512Kb to 750Kb, but still cost from only £25 per month
  • blueyonder broadband 1.5Mb
    The faster 1Mb service also gets a 50 per cent bandwidth boost to 1.5Mb, for the current price of £35 per month
  • blueyonder broadband 3Mb
    The flagship 2Mb service becomes the UK's first residential 3Mb service, offering speeds up to 60 times faster than dial-up access, from £50 a month
  • blueyonder broadband 256Kb
    The recently launched entry-level service will remain unchanged, costing from just £17.99 per month

So, it appears I'll get a 3MB connection. Hello 375K/s downloads. Still, the lame thing is they've not mentioned upstream so I'm guessing that's still 256K. That's really annoying. That's the thing which is actually worth paying for, especially teleworkers. Instead this is basically just a specification arms race where as in reality people just wont use this bandwidth anyway and BY cap the upstream so the P2P stuff doesn't hurt their network so much.
I'd rather they intelligently targetted P2P abusers and increased the upstream on the top-tier products. Fat chance though, I guess. Still, an extra megabit for free - better than a kick in the teeth eh?

Monday 26 April 2004

Adults allowed to see hard willies shocker [slim]

What is goign on with censorship in the uk? All of a sudden what's accepted and what's not has changed dramatically. Melonfarmers reports today that 'The Good Old Naughty Days' has been passed BBFC for general release completely uncut. This black and white film nearly 100 years old containts not only hard ons (gasp), full penetration (holy cow) but bestiality. How the fuck did this happen? There's been no change of laws, no change of guidelines, yet all of a sudden we've gone from not being able to see an open vag or a hard on to be able to see them both together in their natural environment with the family pet involved for good measure!
It's the same with the satellite pron sub channels. They're notoroisly softcore, but just for the last few weeks they've been shoving in hardcore material almost at random. One second your can see a coupling having sex apparently using their belly buttons instead of their genitals, the next you've got closeups of equipment being inserted in full detail.
I'm not complaining about any of this, if you pay for porn, you should be able to watch it. If you get offended by porn, don't pay to see it, see? What I would like to see is some clarity on why it is this stuffs suddenly allowed, what exactly is allowed, and where can we get hold of it! [beej]

Just to let you know that BBC marketing finally accepted defeated in the case that BBCi is a nonsense brand name. I know it was nonsense because you all told me so when that name came in.
So the BBC website will be rebranded, referred to, and promoted as '' and that's just a victory for common sense. The grey 'i' in the corner of every page will slip off quietly.

Interactive TV gets lumbered with BBCi, which is fine because no-one uses it anyway.
For the patriots amongst us, hurray for it not being the very un-British domain.

Tuesday 20 April 2004

Battlefield Vietnam: see you in Hanoi! [brit]

I bought BF:V on Saturday morning, having been somewhat put off by the reports I heard from my fellow EED regarding this latest 'Battlefield' title from EA. Various stories about how you get shot from miles away without seeing what's happening, and the ongoing love affair with Desert Combat meant it wasn't in the 'must have' bracket.
However, Desert Combat seems to have died, so I grabbed a copy and fired it up; put simply, this game rocks.
The first thing you'll notice is the audio; it's absolutely amazing. From the moment the intro kicks off, you know they've actually bothered to do a good job with the sound, and the sound tracks. This is Vietnam Rock And Roll baby.
The gameplay is the same pretty much as previous Battlefield titles, and as you'd expect the weapons, levels, vehicles, etc are all different; but it's much more than a simple reskinning of Battlefield 1942 - it feels different, it plays different, and seems to me at least to have got the balance between gameplay and realism smack on.
So, here's some screenies for ya - the attention to detail and the engine tweak to provide the foliage and fauna is amazingly good; unlike '42, hills and grass and trees actually look like the same.

You can use the fauna for excellent cover, and the draw distance is superb.

Touches like this are so cool; as the downwash from the helo hits the ground, billowing clouds of dust and debris are kicked up into a mini duststorm that's powerful enough to push things like jeeps out of the way.

The level of detail even goes to the cockpits. Those control sticks actually move, they're not just some lame texture attempt.

HL2: the new DNF [beej]

A quote out from Gabe Newell:

'We've already spent millions into this project, and we're willing to spend as much as we need to make this the best first person experience ever. If that means delaying the game to 2005, we'll do it without any hesitation.'

I've heard this shit somewhere before, and it involves another FPS hero character saving the world from aliens as well!
Begrudgingly, its what I don't want to hear and also do want to hear. I hate rushed games, I hate 18-month turnaround games, and I love ground-breaking big-on-story games.
But then, it was just about to come out six months ago, then someone mysteriously hax0red the source code and now it needs another year? And the latest on TF2 is that it is still in progress, it was just being converted to the Source engine?
This game is turning into a right saga. Pleeeeease tell me these delays aren't all down to Steam. That 'platform' just isn't worth it. It didn't have any problems delivering CS:CZ because... wait for it... no-one bought the fucking piece of shit! What is the official line on HL2 multiplayer anyway? Net play wasn't bad in HL at all, it was easy and pickup'n'play stuff - it was just trounced by the teamplay in TFC and then utterly usurped by CS.
We're good for games right now. We've got Doom 3 looming (right?) and then summer is coming up fast. So we basically need HL2 for August/September, no later Mr.Newell or else.

Monday 19 April 2004

Raven Shield: Athena Sword [slim]

An expansion to the fantastic Raven Sheild for a tenner? Bargain!
The returns on this small investment are quite significant however. You get a new single player campaign, if you're into that kind of thing. It's quite nice, but also quite short, but hey, it's only a tenner right? The new maps look foxy, and seem to be larger than the original RS maps in european settings like a Castle and a Greek Marketplace. One of the missions even deviates from the ole defuse or hossie rescue and has you tracking down a perp, which is a nice change. Shame you can't play all the maps with this objective, it's fun.
They've also included some new multiplayer dedicated maps, including some old Rainbow Six classic levels from past games. These aren't just cynical re-skins either, they've added stacks more detail to them and they really don't look much different from the brand new levels. These new levels are really worth the price of admission alone, they're tried and tested and brought bang up to date, sweet.
Theres some new guns, I'm not really that bothered about that really, I pretty much stick to the AUG anyway...
Finally they've given some new game modes for multiplayer. Capture the enemy is fun, you shoot your tango, he surrenders, you have to go and cuff him or he'll wake up and have a go at you again. While he's cuffed, he can't do anything but can be rescued by his mates. Cuff all the other team and you win. It's quite smart, because it means one guy can't easily ownor, as he's vulnerable while cuffing. You need to team up and coop to spank. A new adversarial terrorist hunt mode is lots of fun. It's your team vs the terrorists vs the other player team. Either cap all the other team or more terrorists than them to win. It's tense stuff, as you have to be wary of your room cleaining of the terrorists because fo the human threat. Other modes are less leet, a pilot mode that rips off CS's, a khamakazi mode that's pilot with a slight twist, but it's not really worth your time.
Patching sucks in Athena Sword, as it did with RS, and you have to uninstall all your cd emulation shit like Daemon tools and Alcholol 120% to get the damn thing installed. A tenner for 15 odd new maps and a couple of genuinley new and fun multiplayer modes is pretty good value for me though, even if the single player experience is a bit short.

Sunday 18 April 2004

Modern Day Perpetual Motion Scam [lurks]

I picked up on a strange story on Slashdot about how this Japanese inventor named Kohei Minato had apparently created a new electric motor which is 80% more efficient than current electric motors. This is big deal because electric motors account for around half the consumption of our total electricity output. I was especially interested in this because when I was in university, I helped on the project to construct an electric-powered solar car for the World Solar Challenge. We did a lot of hard core research into how to make electric motors more efficient so I'd say I'm pretty well versed on the theory even though my bit of that project was the telemetry comms rather than the motor design.

This motor right, 80% more efficient? Not possible, says I. Motors now are already in the 80%+ efficiency range and the motors we were making by hand in University were over 90% efficient so you don't have that margin to improve before you get into the realms of fantasy. Yet I read the original story with a great deal of interest. Allow me to paraphrase some bits out of the article which explains how this new motor works;

Nobue explains to us that this and all the other devices only use electrical power for the two electromagnetic stators at either side of each rotor, which are used to kick the rotor past its lockup point then on to the next arc of magnets. Apparently the angle and spacing of the magnets is such that once the rotor is moving, repulsion between the stators and the rotor poles keeps the rotor moving smoothly in a counterclockwise direction. Either way, it's impressive.

Well um, that's actually how a lot of motors work but let's not get bogged down in that just yet...

Next we move to a unit with its motor connected to a generator. What we see is striking. The meters showed an input to the stator electromagnets of approximately 1.8 volts and 150mA input, and from the generator, 9.144 volts and 192mA output. 1.8 x 0.15 x 2 = 540mW input and 9.144 x 0.192 = 1.755W out.

You don't need to know what that means, I include it here because when I read this report this sent up my first alarm bells. These guys are using electrical multimeters to measure power. You can't do that because on complex power consumption, a meter approximating RMS power from an electrical level just wont cut the mustard. It's a kind of schoolboy error but since this jap bloke freely admits that he has no formal training, I was prepared to read on.

But then what started off as an interesting story, then veered off into the realms of the bizarre as the inventor essentially claims that the devices outputs more power than is input - so that's where we're getting that 80% figure from I guess. What we have here is your age old perpetual motion scam. The question must be, is it a blatant fake or has the guy just fucked up and managed to convince some poor saps to go along with it?

Minato assures us that he hasn't transcended the laws of physics. The force supplying the unexplained extra power out is generated by the magnetic strength of the permanent magnets embedded in the rotor. 'I'm simply harnessing one of the four fundamental forces of nature,' he says.

Ahh so he's miraculously obtaining extra power from the magnetism of the permanent magnets. Kind of amazing that no one had thought of the infinite power generating ability of permanent magnets before eh? Quick, lock up your fridge magnets - they're the next Saudi oil wells!

The piece is then full of feel-good fluff about how the manufacture of these miraculous motors will occur in Japan and will serve to regenerate industry in the 'inner north of Tokyo -- which is becoming a regional rust belt' apparently. But surely no one is falling for this right? I guess the local feel-good scam worked well enough for a Japanese investor;

...the Osaka banker stands up after the lecture and announces that before he goes, he will commit 100 million to the investment pool.

Oh dear. It seems a good dose of pseudo-science has the same ability to con investors in Japan out of their money as the West in the great dot com mass hysteria. My favorite bit though, the author of the report (a yank) seems to believe off the back of having seen this - he's now qualified to comment on the prospects for the company.

Mention of Over Unity devices in many scientific circles will draw icy skepticism. [No shit?] But if you can accept the idea that Minato's device is able to create motion and torque through its unique, sustainable permanent magnet propulsion system, then it makes sense that he is able to get more out of the unit than he puts in in terms of electrical power.

Yes, it all makes sense! All you need to accept is that you're a complete and utter fucking moron! There's a bunch of vids on that site. I enjoyed how the author of the report tried to read off the current from a meter and seemingly couldn't work out if 0.04A was 400 or 40 milliamps but hey it makes sense right? There's a heck of a lot of other bandying around figures like 16W driving a 35Kg load which indicate that the author has about as much grasp of science as Homer Simpson.

This other chap picked up on the dodgy power measuring in evidence in the videos but then dishes out some praise on the physical design of the motor;

It's still a super neat idea though - which seems to boil down to 'drive motors from the outside using aligned permanent magnets and momentary pulses from the stator' instead of the traditional 'sick the stator in the middle' idea.

Yeah but... that's really really not a new idea. I have a motor like that on my CPU cooler for Christ's sake. I can't tell if the original guy is a scam merchant or just a blithering idiot or if the author of the report is in on it too. I mean surely no one would try on a classical perpetual motion scam based on the mysterious power of magnets right? Then again... /me checks inbox for another 419 scam...

The moral of the story is that a bit of pseudo science technobabble is still a potent tool to get people seeing the dollar signs and checking their brain out at the door.

On a positive note, there are promising improvements on the cards concerning electrical motors but these are generally limited to improving the power density and power to weight ratio - an important goal as electrical motors become more wide spread in electric vehicles. One firm commercializing research in this area is Raser Technologies with their Symetron electrical motors. These are basically just modifications of electro-magnet positions and shaped driving currents to essentially existing motor designs which serve to generate more work without frying the windings from hysteresis induction. They recently demonstrated a compact 500HP motor driving a bus. Very cool.

Saturday 17 April 2004

Wankers of the world unite and take over..... [houmous]

As you all know I like to keep up with cutting edge technology and new audio/visual experiences so, for 'research purposes' I recently acquired one of the new interactive virtual sex DVD’s. Donning my white coat I retired into my soundproof laboratory and inserted the DVD into my surgically sterilized PC.
My selection, purely by random, was Jenna Jameson, who greeted me with an invitation to play – amazingly she also knew my nickname 'Bigboy'. The DVD itself is nothing like a standard pr0n movie. Instead you simply see Jemma against a black background. When there is penetration *cough* you only see a small part of the penis – which is all obviously done to make a normal user i.e. someone who hasn’t bought it for research purposes like myself, to feel it is him who is doing the penetrating.
The DVD menu gives you a variety of options including foreplay, BJ’s, full sex, orgasm and my favourite, a 'talk nice or talk nasty' option. The foreplay and full sex options have four different positions to choose from and the continuity is quite good as you swap from one to the other, with large buttons that you can easily position your mouse over when only having one available hand.
While not particularly cheap the DVD is much cheaper than keeping a woman, so I have thrown Di out and now walk around my filthy house in a pair of stained underpants and a penis that looks like a deformed lobster claw.

Thursday 15 April 2004

Squeezebox heaven [houmous]

As I think most of you know, I like buying things. The only reason you even know me ( I accept this may be a good or bad thing ) is because I was interested in a pair of Sennheiser PX200 headphones – I did a search, found your site and liked it so much I stayed!
Since then, through your influence I have bought an ibead, a switch for switching between headphones and speakers, a pair of sennheiser PC150 headphones (with Mic),a CM keyboard and a creative MuVo2 4gb mp3 player. IÂ’ve changed to firebird for my browser, learnt to convert movies to DiVX as well as how to rip CDÂ’s to MP3 properly (both in terms of software and settings). IÂ’ve also learnt all about bittorent and P2P, moved my website to a much better host and how to blogÂ…..*breaks down in tears at this point and is unable to type*
Anyway true to form I quickly downloaded the slimserver software a few weeks ago after Lurks’s blog on the subject. Now given I’ve only been into PC’s for the past seven years or so I can still remember when words like 'patch' and 'crack' seemed strange. Another phrase that seemed strange (and that I didn’t really understand then ) was 'bloated software'. I do now though and I hate it – gamespy, the crap that comes with an i-pod, the software that came with my digital voicerecorder at work..I hate them.
I was therefore immediately very positively influenced by the slimserver software – it looked nice, it did what it said, it was clean and slick – I felt a calming influence coming over me. I had no intention of buying a squeezebox then but it didn’t take me long to find a flimsy excuse (it’s a bit awkward using Kiss to control my mp3 collection ) to order one. A few weeks delay and it turns up last week.
My Saturday had not been a good one. As some of you know I have spent a good 3 months trying to get my contacts on my Palm to replicate via Bluetooth and via my Lotus Notes (work) and/or Outlook (home) to my T610 phone. I had just spent 3 hours having another go (installed full version of XTND manager – titted about with the settings – got 'phone found' 'now synchronising' and the same on the phone with the little moving bar – leap about room with joy – 2 mins later –'cannot find your phone' what! It just found the phone ffs! – repeat 15 times to get same result etc etc ).
Anyway I had allocated the last 2 hours I had free to attempt to install my squeezebox - so off we go. The first thing you notice ( I think Lurks said this but I cant be arsed to go and check right now – I’m rolling here ffs! ) is that you immediately notice the quality. It looks good, it feels good – even the remote. Its solid and its got this tactile coating. Even the box it came in has bits of sponge in it – wow!
I move over to my sound system. The squeeze box has a wifi aerial and Ethernet, but since I’ve got an Ethernet conn in my system already for my Kiss I plum for that. I plug a spare switch in and plug an extra cable in and connect it to the squeezebox. For audio out it has phono, digital coax and optical – sweet! I plug a coax lead in and switch on. It greets me and asks if I want to to allocate it a IP addy automatically. Faint with surprise and excitement I press 'yes'. 30 secs later I see my entire record collection being displayed. Another 5 secs later I am listening to it – and excellent sound quality it is too. Even Di mentioned it! I’ve added some nice plugins (BBC ticker thingee etc). I cant get the screensavers to work for some reason but apart from that it r0x0rs!
Anyway here it is.
As you will have already deduced I am in love with this bit of kit and have, together with my creative muvo2 - 4gb portable player (which I now use travelling, in hotel (with creative travel speakers) , in gym, in car (with a dummy tape with inline connection) and in the bedroom (with set of intrigue speakers ), I have now returned to the mp3 womb – I have found spiritual wise!
I now have no second thoughts about selling my entire CD collection and even as we speak have my children working through the night, for peanuts, loading them on to amazon 'buy one secondhand' listings, but hey....thatÂ’s just one of the many pleasures of being a parent!
Go buy a squeezebox!

Wednesday 14 April 2004

Photos to VCD [shedir]

Found this nifty wee app Memories on TV.
Lets you compile photo albums and gives the piccies transitional effects ala powerpoint.
Nothing surprising there.

But it burns it to VCD/SVCD and DVD!

So where's the fun and use in that you wonder. Mind all those digi photos you've got which your old folks moan about since they can't see em as they've no PC or skills? Bung it on a VCD and they can watch it through the wonder of television. Much moaning stopped and a damn sight cheaper than getting em printed for them to look at once.

You can have a soundtrack on the disk as well, perfect for wedding photos for example. All in all it's a good package and in this techno age will make you appear to be an utter Guru to the masses.

Saturday 10 April 2004

The French fuck with security laws [slim]

France sneaked in an ammendment to their interwebnet laws yesterday:
'The fact, without legitimate reason, of holding, of offering, of yielding or of placing at the disposal equipment, instrument, a data-processing or program conceived or especially adapted to make the facts envisaged by articles 323-1 to 323-3 is punished sorrows planned respectively for the infringement itself or the infringement most severely repressed.'
Makes sense? Na, not to me either, but I pulled some translation off a security mailing list, and it goes like this:
- having or distributing exploit code and/or detailed vulnerability information and/or information about hacking techniques, is ILLEGAL. - having or distributing hacking/security tools, scanners, pen testers, or technical white papers is ILLEGAL. - magazines and websites distributing security information about vulnerabilities or exploits are ILLEGAL.
So what you have here, is a law that makes it illigal to carry information informing you about vulnerabilities and it's Illegal for you to have equipment that tests your own systems for vulnerabilities.
Stupid fucking fuckers?

Thursday 8 April 2004

New ATi Drivers [spiny]

Catalyst 4.4 is out for all you ATi users.
XP download here.
Fixlist here, of most interest to those here will be a fix for shadows in Pandora Tomorrow.

Friday 2 April 2004

Unreal Tournament 2004 [lurks]

The demo is out. Here's a Ninja Fast link on Blueyonder. I installed it this morning and had a brief look around. Seems to have fixed quite a lot I hated about UT2K3 and the maps looked really nice. The vehicles look quite fun, there's a truck thing with two turrets on it and stuff. The menu stuff is very nicely implemented and it ran like shit off a shovel in 32-bit 1280x1024 on my rig.
I hate to say it but... it looks promising. We could switch atom heart mother over to the demo to have a kick about this evening?