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Saturday 31 July 2004

Ban this sick filth!!!!! [spiny]

Fictitious Scenario:
A juvenile, called Cletus buys a bottle of whisky. He takes it some, hooks up with one of his mates, Eddie. They both drink half a bottle each. The next day, Eddie is found dead after passing out & choking on his own vomit. Enraged, Eddies parents call for the banning of All whisky sales immediately and sue the distillery involved.
The parents' reaction sounds ridiculous doesn't it. Clearly the people responsible are the retailer for selling the alcohol to a juvenile and the Cletus's parents for failing to communicate the dangers of alcohol to their sun. The distillery? Give me a break.
Well, this isn't a million miles from this sad story.
This is an undoubtedly a tragic event and have no doubt that my sympathies are with the poor victim's family. Dixons and other retailers are removing the game in question from shelves in a panicked response to the parents' call to ban the video game in question.
However the victim's parents call for a ban on violent games is deeply misguided. As in the alcohol case above, if any blame is to be apportioned, it must lie with the retailer and the parents of the boy responsible for this heinous act. This game was rated 18 and as such should not have been sold to anyone under that age. (If the pupretrator of this crime did indeed buy the game, was it his parents?). If any prosecutions are brought to bear it should be these parties that are in the dock.
I'm sure this line of reason hasn't escaped Dixons notice, hence their actions. Perhaps better control over who their staff sold software to would be more effective. But I guess that would be more expensive & not as high profile eh?
Once again, there is no proven link between acts of violence and the use of video games (or film for that matter). I see the headline of the trash press has 'BAN THESE EVIL GAMES' plastered over the front page. There IS a proven link between illness, addiction and violence with both alcohol and tobacco. (OK, maybe not tobacco & violence, I've yet to hear of fag-rage ;)). Maybe I should call the tabloids & tell them, we may see 'BAN THIS EVIL DRINK' and 'BAN THESE EVIL CIGS' tomorrow.
Still, we all know how that particular piece of moral high ground is built on sand.

Friday 30 July 2004

Match report [pod]

EED in gaming shocker!
Its been so long since the last official game that we played that I can no longer remember what it was. So it was nice to finally play something in a competitive manner.
The teams : EED v SPAM
The location : Houlan
The game : Singstar(ps2)
Both teams came into the competition with little to no experiance of the game but a few warmup songs later we were raring to go. On the EED team we had (iirc) Am(captain), Lurks, Pod, Shinji, Skeeve and Muz. On the SPAM team we had Houmous(captain), Roger, Zappeh and Anim.
The map(song) : Suspicious Minds by Elvis
The song began and EED soon took up a small lead. Am's deep booming voice was clearly 0wning over the reduced SPAM teams effort. SPAM stayed in contention but seemed to be struggling with the low bass-y tones of the song. EED-Jay was so impressed he fell asleep on the sofa! And then as quickly as it began it was over. The scores were calculated and there was much rejoycing that it was all ove! r
The winners : EED (score = 5000ish/10000)
The losers : SPAM (score 4000ish/10000) and Common decency
The end

Monday 26 July 2004

The Big Smoke, Or Not! [spiro]

It was bound to happen. First New York, then Dublin and soon it could be London as well. Both Ken Livingstone and Steve Norris are supporting it. The ban on smoking in public places isn't that far away.
I quit smoking over 2 years ago now, during this time I've noticed that I'm increasingly becoming more and more annoyed by people smoking near me. Its not that I'm going to say anything, but I have found myself gagging, and on occasion having to leave the bar for a breath of fresh air.
It makes me think back to when I used to smoke and all those people who had to put up with my filthy habit. I feel like a complete arse for inflicting something so nasty on people with out even giving a monkey’s for their feelings. It’s true what they say, the worst non-smokers are ex-smokers, I've polluted my lungs for years and now I've finally given it up I want my clean air. Maybe only for my now new found selfish reasons and possibly due to some in built feelings that I should help others to quit I can't wait for this ban.
Don't stop at London; let’s make it a nationwide ban, all public places.

Friday 23 July 2004

Rest of intentions [am]

Having been ill and having overdone it at the HouLan, I recently had a bit of a nasty shock with skipping heartbeats. Now I can tell you as as a fat lazy bastard, there's nothing guaranteed to make you feel more stupid than getting wired up to a mobile heart monitor for 24 hours. I also got to check in again with an impression that I've picked up over the years that hospitals and serious health problems suck some really quite considerable piss.
The good news is that I got the all clear (although I was dumb enough not to think to ask 'so what was it then') and let's face it when you're talking all clear on what you thought might be a cardiac problem there isn't any really bad news. However, to contradict myself, the bad news is that when I did have a momentary wallow in self-pity and contemplate 'what if it's something really serious' I did actually realise that if I was to know that I was to cark it, I would feel like I really hadn't achieved what I need to achieve.
So as I now sit here trying to work out exactly what it is I'm sposed to have done that my instincts tell me I haven't, I was sort of thinking about people I know who live life to the fullest and what a bloody waste it isn't to. Erstwhile headphone invader Houmous seems to be one of these sorts of blokes who is perpetually just off to go surfing or clubbing or dangerous ironing or something and I have another friend Jane who appears not to have stopped since 1975. Maybe it's in the character but I get the feeling I need to live this life a lot more. There's not so much of it, even in a good innings and the aftershow party is notoriously unpredictable. So far I've got a list of places in the world I want to go. So what is on your list of things to do before you shuffle off this mortal coil?

Thursday 22 July 2004

HDLoader [drdave]

Having just freed up an 80Gb drive from my xbox in favour of one that could be locked and used with Live I found myself with some spare capacity and a chunky paper weight knocking around my desk. Rather than stick it in my barely used desktop, I found myself gazing wonderingly at the gaping slot in the back of my PS2. Intrigued by the possibilities of having all of my PS2 games installed and quick to load, I sent off for the HDLoader software (
Installing a hard drive into the PS2 is stupidly simple. Just take off the network adaptor, plug it onto the HD and put it back. Its a two minute job, and doesn't require getting into the PS2 innards. When you subsequently boot with the HDLoader CD, it automatically detects the new HD and asks if you want to format it. At this point, you notice that you've now got a new amber glow from somewhere behind your PS2 cooling vents. Seems theres a secret PS2 HD activity indicator in there somewhere. LED-tastic!
Formatting takes about ten seconds, then you're ready to install. Simply put the game in the drive, give it a name and click install. Depending on the size of the data, it can take between 10 and 30 minutes to transfer across.... Singstar took the longest for me, about 35 minutes, whereas GT3 installed in about 15 minutes.
Following installation, you have a list of all games on your drive. Just select one and play. As far as I can tell, having installed 4 games, everyone seems to run smoothly. Its a very simple procedure that just *works*. Loading time is cut by about 3 or 4 times, especially noticeable in transitions in Vice City I found, and it makes for an altogether pleasant PS2 experience.
Limitations are that it won't work with imports or 'backups', and some DVD9 games (Xenogears?) will not install through it. It also doesn't let you access DNAS, so no online playing... but, erm, who the hell plays PS2 games online?? You also have to boot from the CD each time still, but this is a five second once only thing... still, it would have been nice if they could have found a way to boot from the HD. Another limitation is that you can't use your shiney new 80Gb drive as a memory card... but you can't have everything.
Definitely worth 20 quid to reinvigorate your PS2 playing I reckon!

Wednesday 21 July 2004

Galleon [slim]

Had a few hours on Galleon last night. First impressions of the graphics are that they are shit, quite low poly stuff with virtually no texturing at all, kind of a hires psx game. As you play on, they do improve, the areas get larger and the environments a bit more detailed. They're still fairly shit though. The animation is fucking amazing, especially of the lead characters, with superb lip syncing and voice acting to match. The camera, as previously reported is fucking awful. I can see what they were trying to do, and it almost works, you control the camera panning to move your bloke. Problem is you move him using up and down, so can't look around at all, which in a game that uses huge environments and lots of high wall and platform action is a major fuckup. The much vaunted wall climbing is also dire, you go into a wierd overhead view mode, which really just gives you a view of your blokes arse and fuckall else. Combats kinda nice too with a sort of progressive combo sy! stem.
I am going to carry on playing, I did enjoy it. It's got a certain style about it and the plot seems pretty good. It's amazing how effective voice sync and expressions on the characters make the story that much more compelling to play through.

Grow Your Own Teeth [spiro]

One of my greatest hates is the dentist. It seems like every time I go in they find something to do. The last 3 time's I've been they've replaced fillings done previously. For one reason or another they've cracked or chipped and need fixing.
I can't stand being drilled, poked, scraped, and injected in the mouth. What I want is Star Trek style dentistry; I want them to re-grow my teeth so they are as good as new. Well I came across this last night whilst waiting for a take away. It’s an article from the Daily Mail and I can't wait for this to happen.
Dentures and toothless grins could soon become a thing of the past. New technology will allow doctors to grow a patient new teeth to replace those lost to decay, old age or injury. For years, scientists have talked about growing new organs from stem cells _ the 'master building cells' of the human body.
Now it has emerged that something as small as a tooth could be grown using human stem cells. The technique has already been perfected in mice, and human trials are expected to start soon.
Teeth grown in lab
Stem cells have been located in the dental pulp chamber of the human tooth, and British and U.S. researchers say teeth could be grown in the same way as other tissue within the next few years.
The technology will work by taking cells from the patient's tooth, then treating and culturing them in the lab.
Once this has happened, they will be re-implanted in the patient's jaw, under the gum where the tooth is missing.
Race with US
The breakthrough science has been developed by dental researchers at King's College Hospital, London, led by Professor Paul Sharpe, who hopes to engineer the first human tooth within a couple of years. Results of his research have just been published in the Journal Of Dental Research.
But he is in a race with U.S. scientists from Boston, who have been using the same technique on rats and pigs.
It is thought it would take just a matter of weeks for a new 'stem cell' tooth to develop fully. The cost should not be more than the price of synthetic implants (£1,500-£2,000).
Professor Sharpe says: 'The aim is that patients will go along to their dentist, who will take cells and engineer them. The cells will then be replaced into the site and the new tooth will grow.'
It ought to be possible for dentists to grow whole new sets of teeth for people who have lost many of their teeth due to accidents or gum disease.
Treated stem cells would be implanted in the gums where a tooth had been lost. Professor Sharpe says it ought to be possible to grow a group of stem cells into a fully-formed live tooth in around two months.
His research team took non-dental stem cells from mice and coaxed them to form tooth tissue. The cells continued to form tooth material when transferred into the mice's jaws.
Researchers say that stem cell tissue used to grow teeth could also be used to form new bone, and repair jaws damaged in accidents or by disease.
On average, Britons lose around a dozen teeth over their lifetime. Scientists believe that human 'replacement teeth' will be better for the mouth than dentures. 'A key advantage of our technology is that a living tooth can preserve the health of the surrounding tissues much better than prosthesis,' says Professor Sharpe.
'Teeth are living, and they are able to respond to a person's bite. They move, and in doing so they maintain the health of the surrounding gums and teeth.'

Tuesday 20 July 2004

London Underground 2016 [beej]

Proposed London Underground Map 2016
Looks like they got someone on work experience to do this diagram, look at Liverpool Street! And there are two Shepherd's Bush stations *on the same line*. If I haven't moved out of London by 2016, kill me.
And still no bloody boats!

COCK [slim]

Monday 19 July 2004

Lairs, damn lairs and statistics [muz]

lair   (lâr)

  1. The den or dwelling of a wild animal.
  2. A den or hideaway.

As regular readers may be aware, the members of EED are an arrogant and prideful bunch. However, we tend to take particular pride in our lairs, those places where we sit, kings of our domains, inflicting ownage upon peons and clannies alike.
Now, we've had a couple of blogs on lairs prior to this: blog 627 in which the right honourable Amnesiah asked for advice as to what he should include when designing his 'ultimate' lair (the results of which have yet to be blogged, by the way); and blog 411, which starts off with Houmous posting an innocuous picture of a new TFT in situ in his nu-age minimalist quasi-lair, which then rapidly descended into a melee of crosshatch denizens posting random pictures of their lairs. However, since most of these links are now defunct, I though I may as well kick off a new blog.
For those of you that don't know, I am scum. In fact, I am scum of the worst order, that of the student variety. It is my shame, my curse. Etcetera. Anyway, being a student, I am naturally somewhat limited in space, however recently, I have finally secured for myself a lair to call my own. w00t!
As you can see, it's very much a work in progess. I took a page out of Houmous' book and got the same table he's got from Habitat. I also bought a set of matching drawers, which have yet to be assembled.
The lame chair is soon to be replaced. I'm tempted by one of these, available from Viking Direct for one hundred english pounds.
I'm in two minds about the computer terminal thingy. On the one hand, it looks shocking, and is a ghastly reminder of times when I was very much restricted in terms of space. On the other, I'm planning on sticking at least one more box in here, so it could come in handy. That said, I could very well just get rid of it, grab an extra keyboard and mouse from somewhere and run both boxes off the same monitor (detailed in blog 471).
Anyway, that concludes the details of my plans. I now leave it to my exalted clanmates to provide suggestions, critiques, or pictures of their own lairs as inspiration.

Thursday 15 July 2004

Goddamned book recommendations again! [brit]

Right chums, three stonkers for you.
First up, that tube commuter's perennial - 'The Da Vinci Code' by Dan Brown. Quite simply awesome, and one of the best new authors to come on the scene for a long time in my view; gripping stuff, cleverly written, combining ancient history, The Roman Catholic Church (boo, hiss!), secret sects, and code breaking...
Then we've got 'The Best Democracy Money Can Buy' by Greg Palast; truly not a book to read if you worship the ground Ronald McDonald walks on - a series of investigative reports by one of the world's most hated investigative reporters; think Michael Moore, but with a clue and some seriously sharp penmanship. Uncomfortable reading!
And finally, and I can't recommend this enough because it just blows me away every time I read it - 'Decipher' by Stel Pavlou; the story is nonsense (something underneath Antarctica which has come alive to stop earth being wiped out by a planet killing event) but the style of writing and the science; my god the science.. it makes me want to become an epigraphist specialising in super string theory and zero point energy. Marvellous.
God I'm exhausted - and all outta books right now (I also recently read Patrick Robinson's new ones, both submarine based and so full of flag waving patriotic fervor that I nearly blushed just reading them), so recommend me some!

Sunday 11 July 2004

GI Diet [slim]

I'm doing the GI diet ( at the mo, and fuck me if it's not working well. The trick to it is avoiding things that turn into glucose quickly, so carbs are rated according to the speed of digestion. The plan is to avoid things that give you a quick rush and keep your blood sugar on an evan keel. You then don't have the falls that come with the peeks and don't have the cravings that come with that. The other benefit of eating foods with a low GI (glycemic index by the way) is that they stick in your tummy for longer, so you don't feel hungry as quick. The result is to basically eat like a caveman avoiding all processed foods that break down too quick.
The nice thing about it is there's very little diet faggotry going on at all, you dont weigh stuff, in fact you eat pretty well. You just have to avoid the red items. Some are a surprise too, like baked potatos. There's a couple of changes to your meals you have to bear in mind, like keeping pots and pasta to only a 1/4 of the plate, and filling the rest with meat n veg, that kind of thing.
The problem with this is, it's pretty hard to avoid processed foods these days, which has been a bit of an eye opener. Most bread is out, instead I've been baking high fibre shit myself. I'm finding it easy to follow though, the straightforward rules makign it easy to spot foods that are in our out.
I've not been tracking the scales much, but I'm on my last hole on my belt and my pants are too big, so I know its working well. What I like though is the idea that I can keep these guides in my head as a general lifestyle thing and not really behave like I'm on a diet at all. Suits me!

Tuesday 6 July 2004

XBox woot! bah! [drdave]

Decided I needed a bigger hard drive for my xbox over the weekend.
So with a little rearrangement, I liberated an 80Gb drive from my desktop. Ripped the xbox apart, replaced the hard drive (very easy operation), put it back together (very difficult operation) and turned on. Everything seemed to be working fine... went to the mod chip dashboard, could still ftp to it, would do all the mod chip stuff, like play emus, movies, nicked games.
Anyway, after watching a movie, I decided to check that the legit stuff was still working. Put a DVD in the drive, tried to boot...
Was greeted by a screen that said 'Error 5: Your Xbox Needs Servicing'.
Bugger. Couldn't get to the MS dashboard no matter what I did, couldn't get onto Live. So I had a scoot around on the net. Error 5 means that the hard drive isn't locked. See, apparently, the MS bios requires that the IDE drive is in a locked state - which is a function that most new IDE drives have, that they require a unique password to unlock and be read. If the drive is not locked, the xbox assumes its been tampered with and won't do bugger all.
No problem I thought, I'll just lock the drive... seems there are tools to do it. When I try to lock the drive, it tells me that the drive does not support locking. Arse. This old Maxtor is apparently one of the only Maxtors that doesn't.
So now I have three choices:
1) Leave as is. The only thing I lose is Live. I can still do most everything else, including playing original games - albeit through the mod chip bios;
2) Put the old drive back - ugh, 8Gb...;
3) Buy a new IDE drive that supports locking.

At the moment, I'm sticking with option 1)... to be honest, I haven't used Live in ages. In fact, before I got the ability to play Outrun in arcade perfect style, I never used my Xbox for ages! And I don't really fancy shelling out for another 50 quid drive.
So woot! for the extra storage. Bah! for the loss of features!

Text editors [brit]

Just a quicky this.
We probably all use text editors for one reason or another; whether it's tinkering with config files or writing code.
Anyway, if you're looking for a new editor (for years I swore by EditPlus) then have a look at JEdit
It's amazing. Truly amazing.
It's Java, so theoretically it should run on anything, but it's the features in there too that are very cool. Plugins galore and a really well thought out way of approaching programming especially.
And of course, it has built in dockable IRC :)

What u watchin' ? [brit]

TV. A billion channels, and not a right lot worth watching...
What series or programmes do you watch regularly that you reckon are worth the time? For me, it's Navy NCIS (Ch. 289 Sky), Have I Got News For You (Ch. 109 Sky) and Las Vegas (Ch. 106 Sky).
3 things - and I pay some £38 a month for my SKY sub - hardly seems worth it eh?
So come on, let me into the secrets of what else is worth a watch...

Sunday 4 July 2004

Water cooling madness [lurks]

When I was at the CTS show earlier in the year, I saw this insane water cooling system called the Zalman Reserator 1. There's quite a lot of reviews on the net. It is, to put it frankly, the most insane thing you have ever seen. Well, I just had to try it so I put in a request to their PR firm and grabbed a review one. Here it is, next to my own PC.
What is it? It's basically a water cooling system with no fan. There's a tiny and silent pump in the bottom of that huge column thing. The column is hollow and you stuff 2.5L of water in it. It pumps water through those rather thick pipes onto your CPU and back in. The process of convection in the huge water reservoir spreads the heat through the truly bloody massive surface area of the aluminium fins.
Like a few of us, I'm running a P4 2.8GHz at about the 3.15GHz mark. That with a Vantec aeroflow fan, a pretty big ass mad air cooler and despite having a nifty TIP fan, is monstrously noisy, even with the automatic fan speed controller in use from the Asus motherboard. Under load, my CPU temp flies up to about 59C with that configuration and it does so inside of a minute. The case warms up to about 40C after a couple of hours.
Fitting the Reserator was amazingly easy and unlike my last comedy foray into water cooling (back when the manufacturers didn't understand the concept of galvanic corrosion), this thing is build very well indeed. The water block is insane and comes with a universal CPU clip. The pipes are a really thick gauge and a couple of joiners are provided which you basically slot into a blank PCI slot, so if you transport you can remove the pipes to the cooler without having to remove them from the water block in your case. Fitting took me about 20 minutes and I mean, it really was easy. Am could probably do it.
So then I just poured a few jugs of filtered water into the reserator and switched it on. It gurgled a bit as it pumped the air out of the pipes and bosh, that was it. There's an inline flow indicator which is quite handy. I chuck the PC into Xvid encoding to test. CPU temp started sub 20 and rose, over the period of several hours, up to 38C. Massively cooler than it was before and the thing that really got me was... the lack of that bloody CPU fan noise. Absolute bliss!
Buggered if I know how they've got such a tiny little pump to shovel so much water and without any noise, it's dead impressive. So all set and done, it worked ace which is good right? But would you pay £194 quid for it? Of course you wouldn't. Unless you really liked the idea of the look of that mad tower. It's kinda cute the way it sits there just gently warm. I like it. I wouldn't pay full monty for it though, if only because it's the cleanest looking thing in my lair but a poser type bloke (like Jay) would love it to bits.
Anyhow, since it's running so cool I thought I'd crank it. It ran for an hour before crashing at 3.4GHz so I backed it off to 3.3GHz and it's absolutely fine. Even with the boosted voltage and speed, it sits on 40C comfortably and, of course, that's at a particularly hot time of year as well.
If I was a bit of a nutter for this stuff, I'd use this thing as the basis for a hybrid of the idea I did last time. You can remove the little pump from it and use an external. One of those nice centrifugal fishtank pumps and big lengths of that thick hose, out the window sill, just leaving the passive tower out on the sill. That would be highly effective and it'd make your neighbours think you were conducting nuclear research or something. Until it gets nicked, anyway.
Monday I'm going to ask them what they want for it. I wont pay full whack but it's nice enough now and I can use it with whatever future system I use. Really I just can't bare the thought of going back to that noise and I dare say another couple of hundred MHz wont go astray either.

Saturday 3 July 2004

XBMC v1 [shedir]

Well it's been a long time coming. From XBMP,which I still keep on the xbox HD, to today has seen shitloads of development from a very dedicated bunch.
XBMC v1.0 is without a doubt what you're looking for!
A bit big on the install side, with zillions of files in the visualisation section which I haven't investigated yet. But by christ it works fantastically well.
SMB just worked. Same line I put in other versions which didn't, but it works. It does say 'access denied' the first time I connect the to PC, but works straight after that. Anyways.
Interface is clean and sleek.
The real treat though is within the movies. Open the menu and you can adjust the gamma, brightness and contrast.
I don't remember seeing that in any of the previous XBMC version. Perfect for those camcorders which just overdo the brightness ;)
In short, for the enlightened with chipped xboxes get it installed now.
The 120gb HD I put in my xbox is a little noisy when running, nothing major. XMBC has a spindown which you can set. Set to 1min and bosh, things silent as it streams over the network.
Black screensaver is perfect for selecting a shitload of mp3s and set em off. You'll forget your TV is on.
Not tried comics over it but I think that'd be a fuckup as most of mine are zipped rather than jpgs. Still we'll see.
It's now exactly the sort of home entertainment manager you're after. I'm already dreading the day mine breaks.

Thursday 1 July 2004

Star Wars Galaxies Does Indeed Suck Urine [vagga]

So I had been feeling guilty a few months back that I was not playing any games to speak of. As I did not want to spend money in the real world, due to an expensive July coming up. So what I did was I went to Fileplanet and as a fileplanet subscriber there is a page with betas and demos to download. I downloaded Planetside, as I remember some of the lads playing it when it came out first. I played it and loved it. But in true EED style, I got pissed off with it for a number of reasons and ditched the account after two months of solid playing.
So I returned to the land of sitting in front of the PC randomly doing nothing. I play a bit of the excellent Rise of Nations expansion “Thrones and Patriots” but I only really enjoy it in multiplayer, and the only two people I know who play it wont play me anymore as I kick their ass now I have some sort of build order figured out. You know the story with these things, get the cool shit first and you should win no matter what you do! Finding someone to play online is interesting as when you randomly pick someone from the internet they are either a 11 year old who has no idea, or an 12 year old expert who can beat you in 12 moves, so that’s not much fun either! I found myself sitting at home thinking “maybe I will go to my el dodgy local internet café where I saw people playing games overnight like Shinji, Teeth, suds and myself used to do in Dublin, having mammoth 6 hour games of Starcraft and AOE2!
But I woke up to reality, I have a 2 Meg line at home that I don’t pay for, why the fuck should I pay to use some dodgy net café’s 1 meg line! So I came to the much-maligned land of massively multiplayer role playing game in search of something to play. I know I don’t want to play Everquest or a game like that, as the “Dungeons and Dragons” style of game play just sends me to sleep. The whole “cast a level 2 spell to defeat a level 1.5 shield” aspect just sucks urine to me. I don’t care if FPS games work off the same principal. I’m a child of CM and Quake, I want to do something on impulse, and don’t really care of the consequences. Planetside got around this, as it mixed both quite well, its like playing UT or Half Life, and the more you play the better you get and the better shit you can buy. I think a game like CS would work well like this, instead of getting the cool guns after 2 rounds, imagine if you needed 3 or 4 months of ‘credits’ to ! get the cool guns or the best Kevlar!
So I got a revelation in the pub one Thursday after footie training. I like the Star Wars moves as much as the next man, and since the Star Wars Galaxies (SWG) forums had been reopened to the public a while ago I presumed that SWG was in a fit state to play. What I did was I swapped my level 12 Planeside character (characters go from level 1 to 20, 12 is the second last step really, as it’s the first time you can get access to anything you want really!) with a bloke on the footie club who had a Star Wars Galaxies character he did not use anymore, who was quite close to being a ‘Master Artisan’ (somewhat the same level, in the grand scheme of things).
So I downloaded the demo of the game from fileplanet (best money I ever spent BTW, great value for money having any game file of any type on a fast ftp waiting for you at any time) and installed it to make sure it ran ok, and that I thought I could get into it. It looked interesting so I got the physical game for a tenner on ebay. I also took the plunge and re-activated the character, $15 a month.
This is the big issue with MMORPG’s, in my opinion, it’s their high cost, in the grand scheme of things. A cost for SWG or Planetside of over $200 a year for a game seems a bit rich (even if you pay for a whole year in advance, its $150), and I’m expecting the earth, moon and stars. We sell our football games for £25, and support them for just as long as these fella’s, and people get as much game play from them. I got a free copy of Sega’s ESPN American Football (but would have paid £40 for it, as I did for last years version) and play it all the time, must have put up 100 hours on it, playing it here and there 4 or 5 days a week. Charging the price of 4 or 5 other full games per year means you have to deliver quality, all the time. A lot of companies can’t do this. On the flip side, one of the things that fecked up planetside for me was the dev team changing things for the sake of it, as they had to release a patch every month or people complained about va! lue for money – so where do you get a balance.
So I went into SWG, the first few nights I was just walking about, going from building to building, and talking to people and that kind of thing. But beyond that, I could not see anything that would keep me coming back. What kept me coming back to planetside was the search to get to the next level, and that my ‘group’ were always defending or attacking some island. You can check this on the website, so you see that were down to one base, and you can jump one, and its all action keeping the other guys away from your generator, or getting a new foothold somewhere else. I just could not see that in SWG. When I logged on, there was not much to do. I need to get experience surveying to move to the next level, a master Artisan, which meant I could move on to being a person who made weapons. What I could not get used it was the idea that you logged onto this virtual world and to do a real life job. I have a real life job. I very much on purpose made the choice not to be ! a carpenter or a plumber, not cos they are not good jobs, but cos I would have been crap at them! So why would I do them in a game! Maybe I should have realised that before I signed up, but it took an evening or two inside the game to realised that. If you don’t have weapons experience, you can’t get good guns, and can’t fire straight with crap one you have. I died one evening from a bloke standing still shooting me when I was dancing about. Now I’m not amazing at FPS type games, but I have been playing long enough to be able to shoot, and hit, a bloke standing still. But even though I had some kind of rifle shooting ‘laazzzzeerrr beeeeeeems’ and I did zero damage to him, and he killed me, even with my ‘uber’ armour. That’s just not fun, even if I’m at fault!
So I began the process of hooking up with the group of people whom teeth plays with, ‘The Knights of the Darkside’. His guild if you will. I got accepted for member ship, which was great, so they send me the ‘members manual’. I’m sorry, but that was the funniest document I have ever seen. It was full of, “if you see a person of a higher rank, in or out of game, you must stand to attention and salute them” and that kind of stuff. I just thought of Lurks walking into the Dickens and everyone at our table standing and saluting him as he walked in, like he was Colin Powel or something, and I have a good laugh to myself! They sounded like they really thought they were a real life army, stationed in downtown Iraq. I just don’t need that, even if its not serious, its clear a sizable number of group members feel like that, and indeed a lot of people playing the game who I met in game were like that, and that’s just not my bag, baby!
So for the last few nights I have been playing Rez again on my PS2, and believe it or not, testing bugs in CM0304 at home. Please god let Doom3 or Half Life 2 be fun, and have some kinda good group of people playing it.

Gmail [slim]

Whens the last time you changed your email habbits? It's been a while for me, probably when I installed the old rebecca mail client, which was the first I've ever seen with folder filtering. Filtering caused a small revolution in my email practice, but nothing much has changed since. Gmail, googles webmail service, might change that. There's two things that you've probably heard about gmail through the hype machine. First, it's got a 1gig capacity per user, so they say you don't have to worry about deleting shit. Second, it looks at your mail and links adverts to what you said, similar to the way the google search engine displays adds based on your search text. I'll take the second one first, as it's recieved the most bleating, but this isn't really a big deal. Sure, it has to read your mail to do that shit, but so does a spam blocker, and an email filter, so what? Second, as with google, the ads are very descreet text based things, and more often than not they're ! actually useful. I've picked up some links to bbc sites with background info to what I was discussing in email, and that's pretty cool.
It's the 1gb thing, which is gmails usp, that threatens to revolutionise email. That much storage is sweet, but won't it become a complete fuckaround to manage? Well, no, because they've written this very smart interface to make sense of it. What you do is create filters, kind of like you did with your old email client, but insead of sorting the emails, it just indexes it. Then when you click on your filters, you only view the mail that's been tagged as that type. Pretty smart, but then won't that take fucking ages? Well, I'd have thought so, but this is supposedly built with the quantum assmaster tech that google uses to search teh interweb, so they've probably got that sorted. Seems nippy enough so far, but I've only a few kb of email so far.
Next, and the really fucking smart bit is the way emails are displayed. They're chucked at you in threaded view, by subject. Big deal, even outlook does that right? Well no, this shows them all in sequence in one page, kind of like a forum, but it hides the ones you've already read. You can also nip into the thread and reply at any point, then it'll actually bung your reply in the correct place in the thread (not stuck away in the sent mail folder). It's really made reading mailing lists a fucking dream.
Oh, it's also got anti spam, a mail checker, and a typically google clean, fast and simple interface. The only shame of it all is that you've got to use google, and it's webmail only. You can't secure your mail yourself, or download it all to read offline, or back it all up. I'd love to be able to buy or download this software and run it against my own imap server, but I'm guessing it all needs some very evil shit running underneath it and isn't limited by shitty old mail protocols. Hopefully though developers will nob some of the ideas for implementation in existing webmail clients!