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Monday 30 August 2004

Tribes:v [Slim]

The beta's multiplayer only, so not played the oft talked about offlinecomponent, with only two maps. One indoor, one outdoor.
Lets get it out of the way, tribes:v has skiing, something I wasdefinately not a fan of in previous games. But this time there's adifference: skiing has been legitemised and therefore integrated properlyinto the game. As a result it's a bit easier to pull off, so everyonesdoing it, but crucially it means the maps are balanced and designed forit. This makes skiing routes more like choke points, you can plan for itand expect it, and it's a more level playing field. Kinda. The result inthe maps I've played is that both teams end up skiing past each other inthe mid field and the concentration is therefore on defence, butstill.....
Talking about defence, this is quite different too. The flags are nolonger holed away in some keep, they're now proudly out on display. Makingthem tougher to defend, but also tougher to attack.
Standard tribes things are still in place, the jetpacks here, as is thedisk launcher. Both might be a bit quicker, but that could be myimagination. The game overall does seem to play a lot faster though.
Visuals are a bit of a let down, not really dont seem to be up to UT2004's standards despite being based on that engine, but a definateimprovement over tribes 2.
It's not bad though, the fixes could make it actually enjoyable and meanthe old tribes players wont take it over and make it unaccessable.

Thursday 26 August 2004

V- Fest - full story and pics! [Houmous]

Full story? - well errr Lurks and I went to V-Fest with Di and some of my other mates. We got toasted, saw some good bands and ate loads of mushrooms - well actually I couldnt eat loads of mushrooms because Lurks ate them all errr thats it.

Oh and amazingly it didnt rain while the festival was on!

Anyway - the piccies are here and the movies of Lurks "behaving unusually" are here (34mgs)and here (25mgs)

Hehe - Seriously we really have to sort out a EED posse for Glasto next year!

Wednesday 18 August 2004

Fat birds [Lurks]

Fat birds, they're just not cricket in my view. I mean neither are fat blokes, I guess, but then I'm not looking at blokes with a few to whether I want to shag them or not. That's not to say you do that with all women either but I mean when you look at one, you'd quite like it if she was easy on the eye. They all love it too, I mean love looking easy on the eye. At least I assume they do because they spend so fucking long dolling themselves up.
The thing is, every time I'm out and about these days I see some perfectly reasonable looking bloke (near as I can tell, right) with some bird who has one of those sort of duelling basketballs type arses. Clearly loves the cakes and does virtually no excersize at all.
The thing is, I bet these girls weren't quite as much of a munter when they hooked up with this bloke. They've just sort of let themselves go. Now I dunno about you but when I turned into a full blown fat bastard my missus whinged in no uncertain terms and I had to sort myself out. Women think nothing of that sort of thing, they've got all the prior art in the world when it comes to the patents on moaning.
Yet obviously if you were to say to your missus "Hey love, I think you've stacked on a few pounds and well, I don't really find it attractive when you sweat while eating. I also quite like taking you from behind but now you've got half a side of beef in the way. Any chance you could sort yourself out love?"...
Well, pretty darn sure that would be met with a nuclear level domestic, quite possibly loss of life and almost certainly the loss of a relationship. So these blokes let it slide. Then they end up in the situation where they're walking down the road with a swamp creature, well... more sort of walking in front of it really, since there's not enough room on the pavement and if you walk in front then you don't have to look at the arse.
I'm thinking though, if this trend goes on. Wont society have a self-sterilization effect? The men-folk too scared to say anything but not being sexually aroused by their fat and hideous wo-beast partners in any way shape or form and uselessly throwing their man-custard into a tissue night after night. It's a scenario isn't it.
Maybe I'm being harsh but well, this is for fuck sake. It's just that lately I seem to be hemmed in by munter-beasts on the streets, on the tube and turning sideways to shove their quivvering sweaty masses into the same tuck-shop I go to for lunch. (Usually buying a *salad* with a fucking mars bar, packet of crisps and a milkshake). Am I right? Are we being drowning in an ocean of female blubber and will this steralise the nation so only the poor can breed? Or do those fat bottom girls give you teh stiffy?

Tuesday 17 August 2004

How to beat RSI [Shedir]

OK then, how do you do it effectively?
Been doing IT shit for a living for 16 years now and it's finally caught up with me. Right wrist / thumb is a bit fucked. So thought I'd try some preventitive measures now, before it's too late altogether.
Step one, had a DSE done. So top of monitors are now level with my eyes when seated. Neck problems vanished in a day or two.
Step two. Put a timer on my desktop for breaks, Twitch!.
Step three. Relearn to type. I never bothered with the proper way to type. The way I'd taught myself on the Dragon 32 gave me high speed n accuracy. Now it would appear to be causing problems. Trying to undo 20 years of bad habits is hard!
To help I got an atype keyboard from Dabs. The keys are a bit squinted but it feels like it'll be a good one in the end. Wrists are nowhere near as crooked as when using the MS Natural keyboard.
Step four. MEDS! Doc gave me Movelat gel to help with the swelling and pain. Works a charm.
Slim has recommended one of these Dyna-Flex things. So I'll nick down to a sport shop and try to get one of them.
Anyone else got any top tips on how to keep your wanking hand in good working order?

Monday 16 August 2004

Are You Prepared? [Brit]

Like many on the UK mainland, I recently received a copy of the government's rather garish emergency preparedness handbook through the post. This rather strange booklet will undoubtedly be dismissed in fairly short order by a forgetful public, which is why it's launch is being backed up by a nationwide TV campaign, gently reminding us to take notice of the warnings & information contained within.The fact that we have this booklet represents a significant change (albeit largely unobserved in the popular press) in government policy. Despite the many ways the media couches it, the fact remains that the threat of attack on the mainland has warranted the publication of this material - something that hasn't been done since the 1950s with the issuance of the now iconic "Duck And Cover" material.Taken in isolation, you would imagine that simply sending these publications out was something of a waste of time; a certain type of person may well suddenly start stocking up on tins of spam and bottled water, but in the main, it's simply another bit of junk mail clogging up our doormats of a morning.However, this isn't the case. Sky One / Sky One Mix is currently running a series of high (production) value programmes entitled Terror Alert: Could You Survive? - which runs on Thursdays and repeats on Sundays. It's sassy, intelligently produced, and whilst not necessarily anything to do with a wider governmental "education" plan for events such as these, sure as hell looks that way.This hour long programme covers a scenario each week - from nuclear suitcase bomb detonation in an urban area, to the outbreak of an airborne contagen on the Underground. It employs a series of devices to avoid an air of dry academia or monotone governmental dictum - fronted by ex-SAS trooper Chris Ryan, and with skillful direction and vision, the scenarios are scarily realistic.Last night's episode was particularly "real" for me; since I do honestly believe that we are a very viable target and the grey area of suitcase/portable nuclear weapons is sufficiently fuzzy and well publicised to be of a concern. Over the course of an hour, Ryan took us through two scenarios following the detonation of a 1-2kiloton device in Plymouth; stay at home, or peg it for the hills.After 40 minutes of watching what I'd need to do to avoid fallout (effectively build a shelter inside your home and stay there for 14 days) and survive the immediate after effects of emerging into an area potentially flattened and contaminated by such an event. It struck me that I don't even have a roll of gaffer tape in the house, let alone the ability to quickly remove doors for shelter... as the clock ticked down, I became very aware of a) how very real this whole scenario may be and b) how fundamentally lacking my preparations are.The question is, are you prepared? Have you done anything to assess your options in such an event? Part of me wants to simply ignore it all, labelling it "paranoia", but the programme wheels out big gun Government Scientist Types and Other Experienced People, who make a damned good case for doing anything but simply ignoring it...

Sunday 15 August 2004

Consumerism [Amnesia]

There comes a point, as the good Dr recently pointed out, when corporations just fuck you off. Now I am, in all honesty, a complete past master of winning the phone-team-situation. This comes from having been a phone-jockey in previous student lives and from being a professor of human behaviour. Uncle Am's top tips for winning a consumer dispute via a call centre are;* Remember - nothing gives a phone jockey a sense of power in their miserable existence than being able to cut you off at the legs. Therefore if you are going to pull an attitude on them, you lose. Remember this a frickin lot because you're gonna need your patience.* Phone jockey's are mega apathetic and are completely uninterested in you. However....* They all really know just how shit their company is and they hate the bosses, more or less. Therefore....* If you can make *them* your friend and the bosses the enemy and give them a sense of "sorting the crap out" then you are into phone-jockey heaven my friend* Which is all predicated on the fact that you must must must get a personal relationship going with someone that you can come back to.If you achieve all of the above, then 9 times out of 10 you can achieve the impossible. i.e. get your frickin way.Now, to the point of the blog, there are sometimes that you know that you just can't win. A policy decision that is mindblowing but universal to the company. In these situations I have started writing emails for sheer entertainment only. The following is something I wrote to HSBC when they upped their normal internet security to extra loads of pointless checks. I think it would be great if other members of EED could contribute similar ones and we'll get it published like one of the most successful books of the 70's - The Henry Root Letters. Ours will be called Crosshatch Consumerism and we'll all be millionaires by this time next year, Rodney....Dear Kate & Team,Thanks for taking the time to feedback - sign of a decent organisation. I noted with interest that you said that your research was across "the industry" and imho this is why you've been conned into this change.Whenever you are talking data security or audit, those people do not have any "upside" to telling you that your current levels are acceptable. Instead they generally look around the industry and see - for instance - Natwest using 4 level security with interminable questions, rubbish functionality and a total unwillingness to let you do anything useful unless you have to input your name, the first family pet you ever had and your inside-leg measurement.The upshot of this is they say "ooh - you do realise your security is 'deficient' compared to Bank X". It's not deficient at all, it's just not as totally overdone. This recommendation, because it comes from data security or audit type functions, is then hard for middle management to turn down because they feel they are on a "no win" streak if one SINGLE person loses money because they wrote "My IB number is 123456666, my pin is 123456" on their wallet in crayon.Well it's wrong imho. It's always easy to go for the "max level" and certain people make a really good living out of making these recommendations. But in reality, if you have a telephone banking system that let's you log on using sort-code / a/c number and 6 digit pin, or the ability to take money out of the hole in the wall with card and 4 digit pin, then the choices you are making on this internet login are illogical.In summary, as an HSBC customer, I feel you've been conned by the culture of "maxism" on controls. It's not necessary. If a tiny percentage of the crayon-using public end up getting robbed of their money then I suggest, organisationally, you should recognise, this is probably a good thing. They will starve, become destitute and be unattractive to the opposite sex at which time they will not be able to reproduce, thereby stengthening the gene pool.So in summary, not only do I as your loyal customer ask you to reconsider, but I remind you, that the good of the species itself requires it....Yours sincerelyGareth Johnson.

Saturday 14 August 2004

Hacking the frames [Lurks]

Doom 3 is out right, and that means that they'll be a few clannies and a few general readers of out there in Internet land that may just be considering upgrading their graphics card so they can play Doom 3 and Half-Life 2 at higher than slide-show frame rates. I've been looking into it, as well you might expect, and I've come to the conclusion that what you need is a brand new Alienware PC. Ho ho. Bah. :)

Well... Okay then, what if you're just going to upgrade your graphics card? We're looking for a bit more value than just buying the top of the range ATI X800XT or GeForce FX 6800 Ultra and after a bit of digging around and some experimentation, I believe I've hit on a solution which will essentially get you the ninja graphics card you always wanted, cheaper than it's going for in the shops.

The solution is to buy a Radeon X800 Pro card with VIVO capability. A card from Sapphire, Connect3D or Club3D is what we're talking about. This one is the one that I used in my tests. An X800 Pro is basically the X800 core with 12 pipes disabled and the core/memory speed clocked down a ways. Turns out that the video-in/video-out (hence VIVO) cards, have non laser-cut X800XT parts on them and they just have a protected bit of the BIOS which tells them to disable the other four pipes.

There's a good guide here but I'm going to walk you through it with just a single download. First of all, you wanna download this which is a zip file with all the stuff you need in it.

When you extract the zip file you've got a FloppyA and FloppyB directory. You're going to need two floppy disks, all very cunning eh. First off, bang in the first floppy and go into FloppyA directory and run the Flasher+Floppy2.37.exe file which will cut a bootable floppy with the ATI flasher on it. Then copy the X800XT.bin file onto that floppy. Exchange the floppy for a fresh one and go into the FloppyB directory. Click on the drdflash.exe which will cut a bootable floppy disk with a bare DrDOS on it. There's a subdir called Bios, copy everying in that over onto your floppy. Job done!

I'd recommend uninstalling all your vid drivers first. Download the latest Catalysts, right now there's some 4.9 betas with some bigger numbers in Doom 3 but I'm not linking those as they'll be outdated soon enough. Just hack those ready for an install. You could also, just to be sure, run the ATI catalyst uninstaller util from this page. You can't do the old uninstall drivers, install drivers and reboot trick, you'll b0rk ATI shit if you do that.

Now we're set to go ahead, make sure you've got your new X800 Pro VIVO card in your box. Boot up floppy A. Then;

flashrom -s 0 backup.bin

That's written out a backup of your card's BIOS in case it all goes horribly wrong. Now reboot and boot floppy B instead. Now we wanna do this;

gvf11 -p -f r80x256v.f1

This is Gigabyte's flash util and their X800XT BIOS and, strangely, they've released a tool which writes over a protected part of the BIOS which writes over a protected part of the BIOS which unlocks the extra four pixel pipelines that we would quite like, thank you very much. The thing is, we don't really want Gigabyte's BIOS though, we want ATI's default X800XT one. So reboot and boot FloppyA again and this time;

flashrom -p -f 0 x800xt.bin

Reboot. Windows will reckon you've got an X800XT. Install your new drivers if you haven't prior, otherwise you'll just need to walk Windows through finding the new graphics card. If you do that, you'll need a reboot before benchmarks because there's a start-up service which checks AGP speed and ups it to the maximum, otherwise it'll crawl.

How about some benchmarks on what this achieves? You got it! Doom 3 benchmarks are all in 1280 x 1024 because that's native for the TFTs most of us are using. Doom 3 timedemo is 'timedemo demo1' and scores are from second run in each instance.

    ATI Radeon 9800Pro
  • Doom 3 'Medium': 24.8 fps
  • Doom 3 'High': 22.9 fps
  • 3D Mark03: 5956 3d marks

    ATI Radeon X800Pro
  • Doom 3 'Medium': 37.1 fps
  • Doom 3 'High': 35.7 fps
  • 3D Mark03: 10164 3d marks

    ATI Radeon X800XT modded
  • Doom 3 'Medium': 47.0 fps
  • Doom 3 'High': 45.4 fps
  • 3D Mark03: 12274 3d marks

You might get some graphics corruption if your memory isn't good for XT default speeds in which case just flash back your original BIOS and the four extra pipes should remain open. Or run an overclocking utility and back the card off until it's happy. Enjoy!

Friday 13 August 2004

The Incompetence of [DrDave]

There are good internet companies... companies that are honourable, efficient, fast, who deal with problems in a mature and reliable fashion, willing to admit mistakes and deal with situations in a grown up manner. Companies like Amazon, Play or Dabs. Give these companies your money, they deserve it and you'll get a good deal into the bargain.Then there are bad internet companies. Companies who are shifty, evasive, sly, incompetent, dishonest. Companies who will lie and wriggle their way out of responsibility. Companies who will stop at nothing to make complaint resolution the single most complicated process in the world. Companies who will shift the blame at the drop of a hat. Companies like, for example, cut a long story short: Nina and I booked a short break in Madrid for five days last June. We wanted to see a Euro 2004 game in Portugal, but didn't fancy paying the extortionate costs of a flight and hotel. So we decided to drive across from Madrid to Aveiro on the day of the game. Very nice it was too. But the process of actually getting there was a goddamned nightmare. We turned up at Gatwick on the morning of our flight to find that the original flight had been rescheduled back in March... to 90 minute earlier. Of course, since we hadn't been told about this, we missed the flight.A lengthy discussion with a lastminute customer service scouser revealed that their policy was to email customers about schedule changes and that failure to respond constituted acceptance. Of course, we never recieved any such email, but this guy was having none of it. He stopped short of calling us liars, but made it very clear that this was our fault and that he would do nothing to help us. He even claimed that the Ts and Cs required us to check flight times 72 hours prior to departure, and if we hadn't checked, then we'd violated the terms of the contract. He was almost laughing when he told us this... smug bastard.It didn't end there. Since we'd missed the outward flight, the return flight would automatically be cancelled. And not only that, but the tickets we had been issued were for the original flight, and wouldn't have been valid even if we had turned up for the rescheduled flight. In the end, we were forced to buy a £375 Easyjet flight and spent most of saturday running around Madrid airport trying to secure transport home.Of course, with fire in our bellies, we were not going to take this lying down. So when we got back, we began our counterstrike. We started with the Ts and Cs. There is a 72 hour requirement in there, but it only requires travellers to check for "onward and return flights". Since this was an outbound flight, the requirement does not apply. Strike one. Our other piece of evidence was the photocopy of a delivery note for the tickets. It turns out that they were only delivered to the airport the previous evening, so lastminute had willfully issued entirely wrong tickets. Strike two. The final blow is that under the Package Travel Regulations 1992, a package seller is responsible for compensation, not the third party providers that the operator resells. Strike three.We put this into a legalesque letter and added a deadline (three weeks) and a threat that if we were not reimbursed the £375 within this time, we would begin legal procedings, raise the issue with ABTA and go screaming to Watchdog (who, incidentally, have numerous examples of exactly the same problem with lastminute).After three weeks, we had heard nothing, so wrote again, informing them that we were beginning legal procedings. Imagine our surprise when three days later, a letter from lastminute arrived. Some choice quotes:"... I can find no record of an email being sent to you to advise you [of the schedule change]. I can only assume that you were not advised of the change to your flights and for this I offer my sincere apologies.""We of course will be happy to reimburse you for the extra costs."There was much rejoicing. Job done... case closed. Right?Well, that was three weeks ago. After speaking to the customer service rep, and giving her my bank details, I was told that it would be paid straight away. Still no money. The rep no longer answers her phone. Attempts to get through to someone else put you in an endless loop of answer machines, scousers and evasion.I'm awaiting a callback from the rep, but I anticipate they'll come up with some new and interesting way of evading responsibility. Eventually, we'll probably have to take them to court... but with the letter admitting liability, I assume it would be an open and shut case. Fuckers.So there you go. Lastminute make the list. I wholeheartedly advise you to avoid these idiots like the plague... unless you like having holidays ruined, or being lied to by a smug scouse monkey?

Thursday 12 August 2004

EEDford Wives [DrDave]

Hello pervs. In honour of the recent release of the classic Stepford Wives, I think its about time we started a mini-version of Stepford for ourselves.So in the unlikely event that you're offered a chance to cash in your existing spouse for a Sex-Crazy, Housework-Obsessed, Well Turned-Out Love-Robot... And assuming that this Carnal Automaton was easily skinable... Which Nokia Xpress-on (tm) cover would you chose for your Cyber Shag?Personally, I would garb my Robo-Hump in the likeness of the eternal jailbate, Natalie Portman. Whereas Slim would weld a titanium visage of Charlie Dimmock onto his Love Machine. Speak on chums...

Thursday 5 August 2004

Quantum Assmastery Upgrade [Beej]

Testing 1,2... testing 1,2...

Tuesday 3 August 2004

Vote for me, I'll scare the crap out of you [brit]

For fucks sake vote for Kerry you Yankees.
I can't vote, none of EED can as far as I'm aware, but if you're American, eligible to vote, and reading this: VOTE KERRY.
Bush is a grade A cuntlord and I'm heartily sick of him using 'terrorism' as a card to trump any and all criticisms, fuck it - even genuine questions, with.
'Mr Bush, why is it that over 10,000,000 Americans are illiterate?' 'Uhm, well its.. LOOK OVER THERE! TERRORISM! AIEEEEEE! GO TO LEVEL ORANGE!'
'Mr Bush, why is my grandmother denied medical care despite having paid taxes for the last 60 years?' 'Uhm, thats because we operate.. TERRORISM IN OUR MIDST! AIIIEEEEEE!'
It's bullshit, it's utter utter bullshit.
Amazingly (or not) the latest batch of scaremongering horseshit to come out of the White House is that a man in Pakistan, an AGENT OF TERROR, had emails on his lappy identifying targets in the US of A.
Fine. OK, cool, ramp up the alert, inform the people, secure teh targets.
But what's this? the intel is NEARLY FOUR YEARS OLD? Are the phonelines from Pakistan really that fucked? Do they use the Royal Mail to communicate this shit? Or, has Bush's myriad moronic cronies decided that by chucking this out, Kerry will lose some of that super fabby 7 point lead?
And where's the evidence eh? Oh, THERE it is.
Ladies & Gentlemen of the United States of America, BEHOLD YOUR EVIDENCE:
Look everyone, evidence of terrorist plotting

Doom 3 sucks [slim]

It doesn't really, but it's not Teh Best Game Evah..
Biggest gripe is the lack of anything other than standard fps gameplay. Take away the grahpics, and you're left with find yellow key, open yellow door shooting bad guys on the way. It's very well executed, very slick, very atmospheric, but I've not yet had to do anything outside that model. It's also (as that letter suggested) fucking dark, fucking cramped and filled with very pointless rooms. These rooms are usually decorated with very fancy and clever animated machinery......that does absolutely fuck all other than look good. Very little is interactive, including the people. It's not even got the questy/dialogie stuff that riddick has.
I'm not surprised like, ID are engine makers, and have always made average single player games. It does look fucking amazing, but if these fucking amazing rooms have to be so small, dark, and filled with pointless non-interactive animations, who's going to use it?
Half Life 2, we need you!