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Sunday 31 October 2004

AmLan - Teh Direcshuns! [Am]


Friday 29 October 2004

A Bientot Beej [Am]

Well, our clan-mate Beej is leaving Death-Central for a while for a new job which will not be without some liveliness. Beej, having completed his HNVQ in professional Doormanship is now taking up a post as the resident bouncer in the 414 club, Brixton. So we'd just like to say - stay safe fucker - don't do anything we wouldn't do and for god's sake don't say something like "yes sightseeing in Brixton does sound like a good idea" and venture out of the comfort of your little nightclub-compound for no good reason whatsoever.
A le retour Beej! We'll keep the beer warm and the women cold for you until your next return....

Thursday 28 October 2004

Welcome to the end of 4th Age - Petrolium [Shedir]

If you get this DVD, by whatever means, and watch it your entire perception of civilisation as we know it will be transformed.
We're living in an age of unrivaled ease and prosperity. Perhaps not monetary, but in lifestyle it's never been cushier for a westerner.
The entire thing is built on oil, it's uses are never ending and the bad news is it's running out.
When this particular shit hits the fan we are truly fucked.
Globalisation will shift into reverse, better be prepared for electrical rationing and no personal car usage.
It's not scaremongering, this shit is about to happen and you've got to just accept it and try and figure out what you're going to do. For you, and your family.
It's bleak. We have to use nuclear and all forms of enviro friendly stuff to keep the electricity on and begin now.
Oils other uses will be much harder to duplicate:
  • Fertiliser
  • Pesticide
  • Plastics
  • Fuel

Read the site and spinoff links, find and watch the documentary. Digest it, get over the fear and panic.
Personally I'm going to start harassing my local MP to get it raised. The corporations will stop it all of course, but you have to try I guess.
Our frivilous disposable culture is coming to an end, but really it should never have been allowed in the first place. This use of a finite resouce should have been regulated when they first started worrying about it in the 60s.
I'm away to fishing, archery and agriculture lessons.

Monday 25 October 2004

Another dentist blog [Beej]

I just spent a considerable amount of money on BriteSmile treatment at a private dentist. Now I know dentist blogs are fucking boring - we all hate them, what's to discuss? - but this I have to share for the goddamn record.

Firstly, I do not understand the technological process used to whiten my teeth. Gel + UV light + some sort of blocking stuff + cream on lips = white teeth? No clue. But I let them do it anyway. UV light for burning off enamel maybe?

Either way it f***ing hurts. Excrutiating, no exagguration. I'm good with pain, but if I cry and physically shake then that suggests something A BIT FUCKING WORRYING. I've been getting mini-jolts randomly since the treatment, but it's all normal (!) I can't eat any non-white foodstuff (!) and there's nothing I can do except pop another 4x nurofen and wait for it to wear off "in the next 24hrs". This begs the question WTF IS GOING ON IN MY MUSH?! I empathise with Wolverine and the adamantium.

I had him stop the treatment early. No side effects to this, just 80% as white as planned. I couldn't physically take any more of the pain (a weird feeling for someone with a positive completist sort of mentality) :(

a possibly relevant link relating to oral torture.

Maybe my opinion will change when I've had some kip but I just can't recommend this treatment with this sort of pain. No adult should cry in a dentist's chair. BriteSmile - don't say I didn't warn you.

My Mug is Dead! [DNM]

It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my beloved EED original blue mug. It has served many a tea and coffee, but alas due to a rather inept example of handling it crashed to the floor shattering into dozens of pieces. I was actually quite saddened by this!
R.I.P. DNM's EED mug1999-2004

Earn big money in Iraq! Just don't get shot. [Brit]

It's not a new concept that young men and women view working in a hostile environment with less detachment and objectivity than their elders. There are many reports of "hot headed" youngsters throwing their lot in with everyone from genuine armed forces to mercenaries in order to have that taste of adventure, particularlyafter graduating, or spending a few years in what they consider a job with few upsides.
The Iraq conflict has proven something of an absolute boon to such folk - modern warfare is conducted within a framework that can best be described as "a private public partnership".
Services normally provided by the armed forces concerned (logistics, administration, processing, etc) are now literally there to bid for and as such, those in search of life on the wild side can find employment in practically every war zone on the planet in fairly short order.
If its a bit of danger and adrenalin you're after, what better way than to sign up to a private "security and intelligence" firm, and ship out for a definite period on what usually equates to mega money when compared to your professional soldier?
This state of affairs is quite worrying. It is I suppose an indictment of recent and proposed defence spending that such vital services cannot be provided by an overstretched and under equipped armed force proper, but must be farmed out to private individuals to whom war is simply a way of quickly increasing their bottom line.
The reason this blog came to mind is for EED members quite obvious, but that aside this item on the BBC News website caught my eye today.
A 24 year old "bodyguard" from Gloucestershire was killed in Taza,Iraq (exact circumstances not revealed) whilst working for the macho-named Armor Group.
The guy concerned was a civilian contractor responsible for the security and protection of other contractors operating in Iraq. What stuck out is his age - at twenty four, exactly how much experience can one have of operating as a professional bodyguard in a combat environment? What sort of intensive training and recognised certification could have been undertaken?
It just seems completely slapdash to me - 24 year old physically fit bloke given quick turnaround training (I assume) and a weapon, and packed off on silly money to taste the danger and protect contractors.
I feel that the fact Iraq is so full of such companies, operating everything from resource distribution centres to security services, is a damning indictment of current USA and UK operating policy in such environments. The simple fact that such companies exist so easily demonstrates to me at least that our politicians, by cutting funding and therefore capabilities, are actually doing yet more damage to a fragile country teetering on the edge of anarchy as it is.
I've nothing personally against folk seeking out this sort of thing if that is what they want - everyone knows the risks, and if you're number is called, that's it - however, I cannot help but feel that somewhere a lot of people are making a lot of money at the expense of 24 year old guys from Gloucestershire, and that accountability, professionalism and ultimately the safety and security of everyone involved is put at unecessary risk.

DCFinal videos! [Beej]

EED had a Desert Combat sesh on a public server tonight, with the longest round being a bit of a mammoth sesh on Wake. The game was a bit out of the ordinary because not only did clan whale-chomper [EED]Meatball show up, but also [EED]Slim was the highest scoring player on the team (yes, it was Slim wot wun it).
Here are some video snippets of the boys in action, with the inevitable Teamspeak audio mix:

How to take on two M16-armed infantry with only Browning 9mm... and win!

If your Grail is spent, just fall back on the trusty Soviet RPG-7

There's someone hiding near the flag. Don't forget to check the dark corners!

Get your facking landmine off my bonnet!

Teamwork in effect - every hit counts

[EED]Meatball gets a kill! (caught on video, otherwise no-one would believe it)

You need the XviD codec to watch these videos.

Sunday 24 October 2004

Home Cinema a go-go [Lurks]

Some weeks ago I decided that it was about time to replace our ye olde faithful Sony 28-inch television with some sort of widescreen model. There were some good deals about for LCD widescreen units and a double bonus of these sorts of displays is that they are generally equipped with PC VGA inputs, meaning that my lounge server 'Wench' might be a better bet to play stuff than the XBMC on the Xbox. LCD was also attractive because the units are, as you’d expect, much thinner than CRT displays and the extra space would be most welcome in the odd way we had our couch, tele, speakers and so on rigged up.
Then by some superb twist of fate, I was asked to put together a page on projectors by one of the mags I freelance for. That meant I had to swot up on them and pretty soon I started to become very interested in the technology. I hatched a plan to take a look at a bunch of them by doing a round up in a gadget mag so I took a couple of days off and had half a dozen projectors delivered to my house from the leading brands. At this stage I still wasn’t really sold on the idea of a move to a projector, apart from anything else I had absolutely no idea how I’d make it work in our lounge.
The projectors ended up blowing me away in terms of how easy to set up they were and how bright they were. Over a decade ago when I was tech in a TV studio, projectors back then were of the three CRT tube variety and to this day nothing has done my head in quite as much as aligning all three of the guns to get a proper picture on that unit and it was only good in virtual pitch black with a rated output of 200 ANSI lumens. Modern projectors are absolutely tiny, particularly DLP (more on this later), in comparison and they ranged in brightness from 1000 to 2000 lumens. Madness.
So while I was at work, bored stiff by some twat trying to sell me advertising on the phone, I began to doodle on a bit of paper – trying to work out how I could arrange my lounge to make this work. It only has one wall suitable for a screen but this is at the opposite end of the room from where the cable coax and all the power is. Where do you put a projector? Roof is best but this becomes a pro install job which will cost a fortune and needs all your wires somehow plumbed in. Small table in front of couch would work but that would be obtrusive, especially given the wires which would have to run underneath the couch. Yet some of the projectors, I noted, had a hell of a zoom range. What if I put it behind the couch? That would place it near to Wench, which I could sit sideways directly behind the couch (it's a full size tower PC) and nick the old Sony television stand and put the cable TV box and Xbox on top and all the broadband, wireless and router shit and the power board farm in there. It also meant moving a small freezer out of a corner and where the old hi-fi shit was.
After lots of tweaking, I ended up with something which was nigh on perfect. I've a small wooden table sat on top of a larger table behind the couch with the projector on top. It's not pretty and it needs to be replaced by some sort of dedicated stand but it’s high enough that i'’s throwing directly to the centre of the wall image negating the need for any keystone adjustment and yielding as sharp a picture in PC-mode as possible. Somewhere along the line I decided that if I was going to have a big ass projector, I may as well go whole hog with the home cinema set up and get me some 5.1 audio too – be rude not to really. Logitech have just brought out the Logitech Z-5500 Digital which is brand-new version of the legendary Z-680 but even bigger. 505W RMS output. No really. So I, err, borrowed a set of these for a review as well.
The huge sub woofer bin, and it really is massive, sits beside the couch in the recess in front of the fireplace. The missus complained we were blocking the fireplace with this new lay-out but when she saw the whole set up in action, she quickly saw things my way. The receiver/cradle for the wireless mouse for Wench sits on the base bin and also gives good wireless reception. The keyboard lives on the small coffee table in the middle, nothing else fixed sits on that. Xbox is currently plugged into projector via s-video as after a length experiment with Xbox 720p HDTV outputs, I discovered that the PC output is simply superior. Xbox audio goes into Z-5500 via optical digital. Cable box goes into Wench line in and then out the sound card which is running in 6-speaker mode analogue direct out into the Z-5500. I'd do it via S/PDIF but for some reason AC3filter wont give me 5.1 S/PDIF passthrough out and I simply must watch the latest Lost HDTV rips in 5.1. This system works brilliantly now but it was arrived at after quite a bit of experimentation.
Now onto the projector. There are two types of projector technology, there's DLP which is a proprietary technology from TI and quite the most lunatic tech you have ever heard of. In essence it's based on shining a lamp at a great big chip covered with microscopic mirrors that deflect a pixel-worth of light into or away from the lens. To get colour there’s a spinning wheel with filters after it. Traditionally DLP has been the most expensive technology and far superior to LCD which had terrible issues with contrast ratios, just like flat panel displays. However there’s a few major Japanese firms which have been working hard on LCD technology including Sony and Epson. The best projector out of the lot, I found, was the Panasonic AE700EC. This is bigger than most of the others I looked at, because it's LCD, however it offers 1280 x 720 native widescreen and amazingly produces around 2000:1 contrast ratio and 1000 lumens. That’s amazing, to say nothing of the fact it’s got a proper RGB scart on the back (none of the others did), VGA port, S-video and composite jacks.
Without banging on about it too much, this projector is amazing and obliterated all the DLPs anywhere near it in money with only one costing three grand producing a better image. The lens can be zoomed, focused and adjusted in all directions to throw the image exactly where you want. Most projectors have an economy mode which is about 10-20% less bright but gives you another thousand hours of lamp life or so and, in the AE700's case, fan noise drops to inaudible. I found it still plenty bright apart from in broad daylight outside. Also, I originally planned to pop a projector screen on the wall and in fact used one for testing. However, despite the fact the wall is painted an off-white colour, the image off the plain wall is excellent so I did away with it and there’s no unsightly screen at all. It also means I can run it as large as I like and watching movies at night… well… it's just plain amazing. I can't ever imaging looking at a pokey little TV again.
From the comfort of my couch, I can zap between video sources and kick up Wench and sit there with the wireless keyboard and play media, kick off some new HDTV episode downloads and generally, well, it's absolutely amazing. Particularly coupled with the Z-5500 speakers. We're genuinely talking about a cinematic experience here, I don’t think I’ve ever undertaken a project where the results were of such high reward compared to the time and money invested – even if I had to buy the stuff new. In fact, retail of the projector and the Z-5500 speakers is around about £1600. That compares incredibly well versus a large expensive television and the traditional surround amplifier approach.
But not only have I managed to reclaim my lounge into an absolutely gob-smacking home cinema environment, it's much more practical too with the dining table near the windows, finally cleared the junk that used to live there we can now entertain and then treat guests to a free ticket to the movies. The obvious other angle here is games on the projector. This is indeed pretty amazing but I’m torn between being able to see pixels on an Xbox game but very large on the wall or playing on a PC with a 1600x1200 display and really the PC wins out.
However when Half-Life 2 comes out, I’m giving serious thought to moving Boris, my gaming desktop, into the lounge and giving that the whole projector and surround sound experience. It's got to be done.

Running a server - admins who fuck the karma [Brit]

EED plays Desert Combat (Final) a lot - probably more than any other game at the moment, and it's becoming increasingly hard to find a decent public server to play on.
Tonight was a classic example; we literally jumped on and off at least ten servers, as a combination of fucked server settings, utter lamer players, and shitty map rotation made for an utterly crap play and enjoyment experience.
Now, given that CS:Source has just come out, it's unsurprising that the DC public server listings may be a bit sparser than they were, but there are still a goodly few online, and it appears most of those are administered by other people.
Four EED finally scrambled onto the server run by Ice Central - we've never been there before, and it had all the requisites of a good server: good map rotation, nice ping, sensible ticketing, no stupid auto team balance (which ruins SO many games), and so we jumped on.
Now, not to beat about the bush, the "ICE" crew who were also on there, were three sheets to the wind. I mean completely. But we worked round that by owning their collective asses giving them a real run for their money, culminating in the satisfactory completion of our mission objectives against the oppostion during the level DC Twin Rivers. A stunning level, and jolly good fun.
Two levels later, we're being kicked. I got kicked, for no reason. Oh hang on, no, my mistake - I was kicked for inviting various members of the opposition to say hello to The Holy Grail. My bad. Lurks and Slim then found themselves targets of abuse by the seemingly nice man with the untypable nick and his buddies, who were insistent upon a perfect 1v1 player balance. Like that's going to happen with 11 people.
Personally, I enjoyed what games we had on that server immensely. I just get pissed off that the few servers that seem to be available are either inundated with numpties, or administered by fucknuts with no concept at all on how to play a game, and who kick as soon as the oppo start getting points.
Bad server administration is one of the reasons people don't play games online. Don't do it lamers!1!11!1!1111! (Edited by Brit in the cold light of next-morning sobriety)

Saturday 23 October 2004

Why are wimmen so odd? [shedir]

A blog that'll run n run!
Take my wifey, someone plz, stripped all the beds today then shoots of for a nightshift.
No covers on the beds when she was leaving tho.
How can they be so anal about cleaning, yet leave the essentials behind.
How daft is your bint? Other than being daft enough to tie herself to you for life that is.

AmLAN 2004 [Lurks]

Holy jumpin' Arafat we've updated it again. Attendee list now quite scary.
{Updated Attendee List below - Nov 16th}{Updated Games List below - Nov 16th}
AmLan (19th, 20th, 21st of November - no really and not some other random dates) approaches and we're looking to get our shit together to sort it out. Also Salad has rigged up some elit0r sponsorship for us so booze, van-hire and stuff like that will be paid for in exchange for some shameless promotion. I'm sure we can take time out from shamelessly promoting ourselves to let someone else get some of the limelight in exchange for hard alcohol.
Anyhow, this blog is going to serve as an organisational effort. Most of the time with these LANs it's just a couple of people who do all of the work but we're looking to change that and get folks to pitch in doing something to add to the weekend's festivites. First things first though, the attendee list is as follows;
At AmLAN 2004:
Deeply fuckin unlikely; Meatball, that bloke what makes games with goats, Spider man. Can't remember about; Shinji. Decent excuse for absenteeism; Beej.
People who would have time of their lives if they went but for reasons only known best to themselves, don't show to anything: venusXL, Cavalier, Lucifa, Mugwum.
And you will need to have bought the following games because we will be playing these games or mods for these games and will have gone to some trouble to set up servers, maps and so on.
  • Half-Life 2 - CounterStrike: Source etc - PRELOAD IT
  • Battlefield 1942 - We'll have desert Combat etc
  • Unreal Tournament 2004 - We'll have the mods
  • Raven Shield & Athena Sword mission pack
  • Quake 3, RA3, Q2, PK
  • Odder Requests: Rome Total War, TA, TOCA 2 (would rock), Halo, Rallisport Challenge, errr FarCry

That means you should have these installed and patched up to the latest and you should bring the CDs. Mods is optional, those wont be too much hassle. You also need to bring a headset.
This blog is meant to be edited obviously.

Better safe than dead [Lurks]

This morning me and the missus woke up with killer headaches. Which might just as well, with the benefit of hindsight, be explained away by the consumption of small but excessively toxic amounts of relatively nasty sauvignon blanc. However, it was still unusual.
I announced, somewhat flippantly as is my want, that it might be carbon monoxide poisoning and that we'll probably feel quite tired, drift into a coma and then die where we would be found by our neighbours when the stench reached crescendo enough to overpower the local curry house.
My darling wife being her usual cautious, vigilant and worrisome self decided to take my morbid pronouncement at face value and called up British Gas. She knows better than to mention any such thing to me before she does it since me, being a bloke, would baulk at the merest suggestion that any such threat to our safety would be better evaluated by anyone other than me. I am the hunter gatherer for fuck sake.
In fact British Gas classified her query as being an emergency and were quite insistant that they send someone around free of charge within the hour. I guess the bad press of freezing grannies in the past has in some way galvanised their response to safety enquiries from the public. Still, I find out this is happening and groan whilst trying to find a sheet of headache tablets in my top draw. No mean feat given tightly shut eyes against the perils of pain-inducing daylight and the 7x10e14 items of random detritus that also occupies my top desk draw.
Still, bloke turns up and as I launch into an apologetic tirade about how I know the boiler is sealed and the bedroom is the other side of the house anyway and none of the gas on the stove is running and I'm terribly sorry for wasting his time... he tells me shut up. In a nice way. Better to be safe than sorry he says and checks for gas leaks, checks the boiler, checks the neighbours boiler and goes over the entire lot with a fine tooth comb before declaring that all is well.
You'd expect some sort of annoyance at having dragged him out for nothing, right? On the contrary, discussing the subject he tells me of the horrible things he's seen. Dead pets, old people who were just convinced that their perpetual state of sickness was simply due to their advanced years and other horror stories. Horror stories where entire families were killed with no warning. He's pleased it's a false alarm. So are we, of course.
It wasn't carbon monoxide poisoning, it was the wine/paintstripper from some ghasty vinyard/cesspit in California. However I did come away from it thinking, I wonder if the blokey refusal-to-seek-help thing (just ask women about men and directions, they think it's hilarious) might end up biting me on my ass at some point?
Just as well I know everything really.

Friday 22 October 2004

Beer [Slim]

Our lager
Which art in barrels
Hallowed be thy drink
I will be drunk
At home as in the tavern
Give us this day our foamy head
And forgive us our spillages
As we forgive those who spill against us
And lead us not to incarceration
But deliver us from hangovers
For thine is the beer, The bitter and The lager
Forever and ever

Thursday 21 October 2004

The British MOT should look at this [Salad]

In CR we something called the RTV which is the equivalent of the British MOT. Friend of mine just put his car through it and he failed. The only surprise was on what he failed. His car had plumes of black smoke coming out, none of his windows worked, he only had 1 headlight, no rear view mirror, completely bald tires and the brakes were screwed.
Yet, he failed on...having no emergency triangle. They were fine with the rest of the problems.
Fortunately, he paid the guy $20 and he passed him. Central America is great...

Offshore Wagering Ups and Downs [Salad]

Hello all - been a long time since I've seen some of you.
Life in the world of offshore gambling gets weirder by the day. US government is such a bunch of hypocrites: Vegas and Atlantic City make billions every year, but Poker rooms like ours offshore are accused of being the people that fund anti-US terrorists and exploit Americans in ways that Vegas never would. Tosh. At least American's are voting with their $'s - over 15 million of them gambling with people like us last year.
At least this fact keeps me smiling - day in day out, Europeans are kicking the crap out of American players in online Poker rooms. You'd think it would be the other way round. Wonder what that says about the size of our respective brain-pans?
Wonder why they call my value-adding emails SPAM? They are soooo far behind the curve, bless em.

Tuesday 19 October 2004

Er, the tube is really nice... [Brit]

We've all espoused the intricate nature of the farce that is London Underground. It's quite clear that as regular tube users, many of us would rather slip in sick than attempt to engage that organisation's services. The fact that we are forced to on a daily basis remains a hot brand around our collective temples.
However, I have discovered a mass transit system that is categorically worse; the New York Subway.
This collection of collapsed train-bearing sewer pipes is an abhorrence - for $2 you can put yourself through a transport event akin to whisking your eyes with a Moulinex and laughing uncontrollably as the stainless steel blades reduce your brain to mush.
Compared to the subway, our tube is safe, clean, easy to use, convenient, and downright amazing. To even write such verbage is to call into question my own sanity, yet I am quite sure that any other EED'er with experience in the filthy pits of the subway environment would agree.
For starters, the subway is extraordinarily difficult to use. There are no status boards indicating the time of the next arrival (or it's destination) - just long platforms of peeling concrete, punctuated every so often with bare girders and evil looking loitering types. The subway carriages were clearly designed to ensure that the passenger feels every bump, grind, and pothole on the way; each rollercoaster twist and turn communicated expertly direct to your spine via the awesomely uncomfortable seating.
Forget helpful signage too - it's like a lotto in many respects and the seemingly easy to use naming conventions employed by the MTA (Metropolitan Transport Authority) to speed you on your way do anything but.
All in all, quite amazing that a city such as New York which is generally a clean and easy to navigate place can reveal with such alacrity it's all too venemous underbelly - and for a couple of bucks, you get to see it all.

Monday 18 October 2004

Desert Combat Final [Lurks]

Well, Desert Combat 1.0 Final is out, even though the installer calls it beta 3 and even though it's still not up on the official site, there's a changelog here and you can grab a torrent of it here.
It seems to be full of subtle but noticable changes. The sounds are much improved. There's a lot of silly stuff fixed like the maneuverability of the heavy choppers and the way stingers work is a fair bit better too. Lots of nice touches all in, I like it a lot. It hasn't sufficiently changed to stop Slim bleating about it but it's still an astounding game and worth dusting off for another round.
If you fuckers ever download it...

Saturday 16 October 2004

Cruel Britain [Houmous]

We often talk about progress and such matters as how important it is to look after the elderly - so I´m sure fellow EED members will be shocked to learn that I´ve been sitting in my own excrement now for 4 weeks totally unable to blog ( because apparently I havent got a referer - wetf that means!)and NO ONE CARES!
I have had to fly to Barcelona, under extreme hardship (no champagne on the flight) to post this message to you from a dodgy internet cafe while very very pissed.
I appeal to your good nature and jovial side (?)my friends - will no one help an old man in the autumn of his life?
Oooohhh what do these keys do? ¡¡¡¡¿¿¿¿ÇÇÇÇ

Wednesday 13 October 2004

Iranians want nukes [Lurks]

This is a bit of a worry. I thought the whole Iranian nuclear issue was simular to the North Koreans in that it is fundamentally not useful enough and too expensive to develope to fruition but is being pursued to win concessions from the West.
Clearly that's not the case. It looks like Iranian people at best think that they should have nuclear technology because the 'powerful' countries do and to deter Israel. At worst, you've got your standard sheet-wearing Islamic nut jobs that apparently believe the Koran tells them to go nuclear.
Very worrying. Bizarrely virtually all of them seem to believe they have nuclear weapons already which is a good demonstration of how little they actually know about what their government is doing. That's the problem right there isn't it - no accountability.
Who's to know if some nut job faction wont rise to power over night and decide to cleans Israel with the fire of Allah or something?
This country cannot be allowed to go nuclear. I'd rather we bombed the living shit out of them and caused a huge diplomatic rift between the West and the Middle East than let these fuckers go nuclear.
Arabs and nuclear weapons are just not on.

Tuesday 12 October 2004

Telewest suckage [Lurks]

I thought I'd save money off my BT line and Sky TV by switching to Telewest cable digital television and their phone line too. They make my broadband a little cheaper if I have other services and those services are notably cheaper than BT and Sky anyway.
Yet things did not go according to plan. They broke my cable modem so that was up and down and then died for a few days, they fixed, it changed my IP (which was a headache in itself) and finally it all worked. They never ported/installed the telephone despite me ordering this all online.
To make matters worse, the compression on Blueyonder's TV is absolutely abysmal. On a regular 28-inch 4:3 CRT, the MPEG artifacts are in plain view. Five looks like something I've downloaded...
So less than a month later, I phone them up and tell them I want to cancel. I've got Sky dish (two actually) and everything set to resume with them. I'm put through to a disconnections department that tells me that I'm locked into a 12-month contract and the only way out is to pay the entire year of charges for that. In other words, there's no point in asking to be disconnected.
The guy tells me that no one else has quality issues either which is hilarious since the forums at DigitalSpy are full of complaints.
It's just utterly unbelievable that these wankers would be so institutionally incompetent at nearly everything they do. They can't even install stuff right, they can't work out how to get good quality video out of a peice of damn coax into my house and then I'm the one left carrying the can.

Counter-strike: Source tweaks [Beej]

Weapon Names Fix:
Download this language file which has been updated for correct/commercial weapon names, eg. "Desert Eagle .50AE" replaces "Nighstalker". Extract the contents to:

C:/Program Files/Valve/Steam/SteamApps/your@login/counter-strike source/cstrike/resource/

I'm still working on new EED decals, more later!

Sunday 10 October 2004

The little things that chill you [Am]

Occasionally you come across the odd thing that just chills you.Today it was this site; . No real need toexplain - just check out the tabs and all the pics (non-horrific) andthen think about what they probably went through and just how many ofthem there are.

Friday 8 October 2004

Neovo E-19 Review [Lurks]

Yeah well, having a 21.3-inch TFT at home makes 17-inch TFTs seem inadequate as I said. The thing is, the prices have absolutely plummeted on the smaller models including 19-inch TFTs. I like the idea of a 19-inch model at work because at 1280 x 1024, that's very large and easy on the eye.
When I was browsing ebuyer, I came across a 19-inch model with a pretty funky design, proper anti-glare glass front to the screen and all for less than 400 quid. I was feeling one of those Distance Selling Regulations moments coming on - IE order something which basically there are no reviews on the Net for and if it sucks, return it.
So that's what I did. This is a 19-inch designer glass-fronted anti-glare 1280 x 1024 TFT for less than 400 notes. It's just for work right, I can't lose?
You're right I couldn't lose, it turns up without a single pixel dead. Absolutely wonderful. Very bright, huge viewing angle. Built in PSU (so a mains lead just plugs in the back), DVI and analogue supported. Glass front which is very swish indeed and looks better than any monitor I've owned yet. It was, in short, an absolute corker of a buy and in many ways more surprising than the 213T which I just expected to be great because it cost a bomb.
There are some drawbacks. The stand isn't very adjustable at all, there's no tilt from side to side at all and it wont tilt flat. It's about 5 degrees backwards so if I put this like I normally do, on top of an old defunct desktop (Amiga at home, Dell mp3 server at work) then it'd be tilted up too far so I've had to move it in front instead. Yet because of the huge viewing angle, I'm really not bothered - it's getting treated like a CRT.
And... I think the rated response rate is also 25ms. I wasn't expecting it to be brilliant for games but the simple fact is that it is. It's awesome for games. Couple of chaps from the office checked it out and were highly impressed, I think one of them is going to pick it up.
One shitter is that the DVI/analogue switch is burried in a menu. It's a lovely looking menu system but it's a bit of a fart about. It's not really useful for switching between two computers. But other than that, for less than 400 quid - this is one hell of a monitor.

Samsung 213T Review [Lurks]

After I'd modded an ATI Radeon X800Pro into a X800XT, it became evident how silly it was to have a 17-inch monitor which was only capable of displaying 1280x1024 resolution. I needed something bigger and for reason which I've never quite understood, that has only been possible when you go up to the 20-inch mark.
I looked at the Dell 2001FP and the Samsung 213T and settled on the latter since I could buy it at a much better price and, well, it's not a Dell. So I've had 21.3-inches of 1600 x 1200 TFT at home now for the last couple of months. It is, I have to say, thoroughly amazing. The trouble is that you get used to it and then when you go use pokey little low res 17-inch models, they just annoy you.
The 213T has a good adjustment for height and tilt and the entire panel can be rotated for portrait view if you prefer (but who would?). Response rate is specced at 25ms but as a rule, these figures are lies so I rely much more on subjective tests. The panel is certainly a hell of a light brighter than the Hyundai Q17 I was using before, which is very welcome because I had to do gamma hacking in dark games like Raven Shield and now I don't need to bother.
The only real problem I ran into is that the DVI port is not compatible with any modern Radeon. It's not the Samsung's fault, it's ATI since they just broke DVI compatibility with a whole host of monitors with one driver update and never bothered to fix it. The crack flows freely in Canada.
So I'm running 1600 x 1200 with VGA in. That'd be shit wouldn't it? Well, no actually. It's fine. In fact on one or two occasions, the X800XT has picked up the 213T DVI and so I've seen what it can look like. It's wonderfully sharp, as you'd expect. From experience I know with DVI inputs that I end up turning on Cleartype so the fonts are more legible. When running in VGA things look like you have Cleartype on all the time. Which, upon lengthy reflection, is not really a bad thing.
Yes but what's it like in games? Response rate is quoted as 25ms as I said. In games, the panel noticably ghosts less than the Hyundai panel which has the same legendary 20ms PVA which Tom's Hardware raves about whereever it is found. I find it the best TFT I have used for that and, well, 1600 x 1200 is just fantastic. Ramping up the detail and playing Wahammer 40000: Dawn of War has been one of those big time luxury experiences that makes you glad you've got money.
So money wise then. It's 685 quid from Komplett as I write, which is a stunning deal but then you'll either have to wait awhile or pay quite a wedge for a decent courier from Norway. Else there's eBuyer who are a shade over 700 but charge very little for delivery. Either way, you're looking at around 700 notes for a 21.3-inch TFT with awesome specifications that works extremely well both in games and for video.
It's the big leap from 19 to 21-inch which has the big price rise now but this is also the barrier that actually buys you more pixels and for me, that money was very well spent. I would have put up with a 19-inch 1600 display too but you can't buy them. Besides, it means I've got a better screen than any of you lot and that's as it should be.

Thursday 7 October 2004

Half Life 2 Steamy Suckzorz! [Slim]

OK, so I bought it...
Costs are right as listed today, but they add $10 tax for fuck knows what reason, we shouldn't pay any tax at all. Anyways, total cost was about £39, and as predicted the steam server was too busy to process...but it popped up and said fair cop guv, its our fault, so you can play it anyway!
Then the problems :)
You can only play CS:Source now, a game that I've pre loaded. But it's added some content tonight, so I'm now at about 97%, no worries, not far to go...
Execpt it also adds Day of Defeat: Source to your list of games. And it preloads it automatically despite the fact you can't play it yet, even though I'm set to 'do not update this game...'
The good news is it does seem to be leeching pretty fast, I'm up to 90% even after typing this bleat, so I'll be playing cs:source soon, woot!

When greed overcomes science, we all lose. [Brit]

I was extremely happy to see that the Ansari X-Prize has been won this week by Scaled Composites, led by the pioneer Burt Rutan. The craft 'Spaceship One' successfully completed two separate flights within the set two week window, reached the appropriate height, and landed safely.
I was less than happy to see that today, Scaled have effectively said that the Spaceship One craft will not be available for scientific use, and they have no plans whatsoever to allow any scientific experimentation on board their craft and it's imminent successors.
Why? Because Richard Branson's Virgin group has effectively preordered five of these craft to enable his new venture 'Virgin Galactic' to take off (excuse the pun). Once again, Britain's favourite entrepeneur has beaten others to the punch with what will undoubtedly be billed as the first ever 'affordable space tourism'.
This is really quite shit. The fact that it isn't 'space' aside (it's a sub orbital flight), I am quite gobsmacked (yet not surprised) that rather than utilise this eminently affordable (compared to say, booking time with NASA) service to ramp up the number of experiments doable in low-G conditions, the green eyed dollar powered monster has consumed all involved and dictated that science can effectively piss off whilst Virgin Galactic aims to make piles of cash.
I see Scaled's achievement as more than simply proving it is possible to go real high without government involvement. Its a chance to open up a cutting edge research environment to institutions and departments that simply cannot afford to get their experiments on board the next shuttle launch.
Access to cheap and regular flights in conditions achievable in a sub orbital craft would I assume be of huge value to the academic research communities. Instead, this fantastic opportunity to perhaps advance science significantly is being wasted because of the selfishness of greedy men.

Wednesday 6 October 2004

ITV vs. BBC - new channel, new offensive... same shite? [Brit]

There is a fairly substantial rumour floating around that the independent television companies are considering combining resources in some manner to create a new terrestrial TV station, with the explicit mandate to "take on the BBC".
You may wonder what this means exactly - after all, the ITV network and their affiliates, along with the likes of Sky and cable content providers already compete against the BBC.
Well yes and no. I think in this instance, the new channel (whether that results in the formation of a new broadcaster in itself or not) is intended to garner the same level of professional and consumer respect as the BBC, but of course with substantially larger resources and flexibility thrown in as well.
Now, the BBC has many faults - it is a 'uniquely funded' quorate of government appointed mandarins and media luvvies, but has a rich and proud tradition of being level headed, groundbreaking in many respects, and delivering quality programming.
Bar Channel 4 and a handful of satellite channels, independent TV is anything but - more like programming for the lowest common denominator.
I'm keen however that if this project does get past the Blue Sky Thinking Bullshit stage, and doesn't get commercially raped before delivering the unwanted bastard child of collective network execs, it actually does deliver something better than HBO reruns and yet more 'reality' shite with Vanessa Feltz and a collection of farmyard animals.
What would you guys like to see on such a channel (and there are already plenty of porn channels out there, so I don't think that'll be much of a goer)? Given that it could become a serious rival to the BBC - certainly BBC1 - what sort of channel do you think we need? Do we even need such a channel? Is it likely to threaten the BBC and perhaps make that organisation more considerate of it's programming schedules, or simply spin off into commercials-up-it's-own-arsehole land and become yet another useless channel clogging up our already stuffy airwaves?

Tuesday 5 October 2004

Oyster sucks arse [Lurks]

Oysters are horrible. They look like some withered hybrid of alien offal and llama snot, for a start. Then they have the consistency of rotting phlegm and are generally encased, with good reason, in a barnackled clam resting at the bottom of the ocean with the rest of the fish turds.
Which is interesting because this blog isn't about that sort of oyster at all, I do of course refer to Red Ken's latest tax payer's money burning scheme, the Oyster card. For those of you that live in rustic forgotten villages on the coast, frozen tundra of Scandinavia and in-bred medieval ginger-harem islands in the middle of the Irish sea - I shall explain what this 'oyster' thing is that is not the disgusting sea creature that you regularly dine upon.
The Oyster card is the first mass market RFID application in the country. It's just a plain aqua coloured card with no visible features but within is burried a clever peice of technology. It's a little silicon chip wired up to an inductor so that when you pass it near one of the receivers on a ticket barrier, the inductor generates a small electric current, fires up the chip where upon it sends signals back to the aerial and communicates with the ticket barrier.
In short, once you have one of these cards and you've charged it up with pre-pay dosh - for this example - every time you touch your card in and out of a journey, the appropriate amount is deducted from some electronic wonga stored on the chip. You can also have travel cards coded on it. These things are accepted on all of the London underground stations and the London busses too. You can recharge them at ticket machines in ticket halls, with the human ticket selling tubeanderthals or online via an laughably rudimentary web site which is amusingly top hit in Google on the search term Oyster.
Anyhow, the system basically works and being unable to figure out a way to extract the RFID chip and implant it under my skin for comedy effect - I'm forced to press it to several of these yellow receiver things a day so I can effect passage on the busses and tubes which I must use during my daily commute to and from the office.
One day, yesterday in fact, when I was going home - it stopped working. That was it, just stopped dead. I may as well have been pressing a packet of finest lincolnshire bangers to the ticket barrier, it was dead as a douglas adams. I grunt at tubeanderthals and they let me through, mumbling something about how they do that sometimes.
I look it up on the web and apparently I've got to get into a tube station and fill out a form to get it replaced. Right you are then. So I try to log onto the web site to see what's on the card exactly, in case I'm asked and stuff. It wont let me in. It wont work with my username choices of usual, nada. I call up the oysteranderthal hotline and get some gum chewing chav bird who is outstandingly unhelpful, telling me that maybe it'll just work later or something.
Next morning, into Finsbury Park and a big queue to get to the ticket tubanderthal where I explain my delimma and I'm given a form that wants outrageous stuff filled in and given a glance which in no uncertain terms means I must go away and fill it out rather than trying it there and then. I do so, blagging my way through the tube system without paying - apparently the tubeanderthals are as baffled by the whole Oyster card thing as I.
I fill the thing out at work and head down to the Paddington ticket office to get it all fixed up at lunch. What follows is a solid 20 minutes of me standing at one of two open ticket windows while they figure out what to do. Not only that, the lady hasn't a clue and has to get the one on the other window to help out. The massive queue that amasses behind me is really not impressed, I can feel the malice wished upon my slumped back through the venomous stares behind me.
They even try to charge me three quid. I laugh, heartily. Your system breaks, I spend half my lunch standing here while you try to figure out how to fix it and you want me to pay for that too? Ho ho ho!
It got fixed. I scarpered. I wondered whether this is technology gone wrong or just yet another nifty-idea-in-theory but outragously expensive and impractical idea from dear old Ken.
Bizarrely they seemed to actually take my word for what was loaded onto the card, from the scrawl on my form. If I'd know they were going to do that, I'd have pencilled in an annual. Hmm, I wonder how this one would fair in a microwave...

Monday 4 October 2004

Old Age EED - go where!? [Brit]

Contrary to this blog by Lurker I am willing to bet that some of EED will reach (au/o)ld age.
Exceptions To The Statement
Amnesia (selling his heart instead of buying a new one), Lurker (one festival too many), Slim (neurological damage due to head slappage), Jay (what speed limi...).
Given that a significant percentage have hit mid thirties some time ago, it won't be too long until the grim reaper either taps a chap, or lets him sink slowly into beige oblivion.
The question is of course, where would an OAP EED possibly go? Traditionally, old folk are bundled off to a red bricked out of town facility (a "residential home") that handily has a chapel and industrial oven in situ.
Or, they are inflicted upon any member of the family with a spare bedroom and little to no stairs until such time as they simply give up watching day time TV and roast alive underneath knitted goodwill jumpers and boil-in-the-bag meals. Bungalow residents beware!
Even worse of course, they are instantly treated as though they are somehow incontinent, stupid, ignorant, and incapable of doing anything themselves. I for one would not like to be in the shoes of the orderly or other jobsworth who tries to take the bottle of bubbly away from my clannies (all EED come complete with a Krug Approved MediCare plan for those Americans reading).
How do you see yourselves spending your twilight years? Aging (dis)gracefully? Where can I buy a broadband enabled coffin? My personal intent is face down in a swimming pool of vodka at my Manhatten apartment, naked and painted orange.

Sunday 3 October 2004

Lurks destroys Houmous' PC [Houmous]

It was going so well - I arrive at the station to pick up the PC god and his great wife (A man who before todays sordid activities I used to respect). We arrive at my house and I wait patiently with sterilized towels outside the bathroom while he changes into his surgical gown.
All is going well - Lurks entertains his audience with funny stories and amusing antidotes as he delves into my PC performing deft movements with its vital organs. After 15 minutes of intensive operations he pronounced the patient fitter than ever before.
We gather round excited as we move onto the post water cooler phase - overclocking! Our glee somewhat subsides however a few seconds later when - BUUOOOOOFFFFFF! - the PC goes off and we turn round to see a waterfall starting at the top of my PC cascading gently over my motherboard.
Fellow EEDer's - as I post this blog from my emergency laptop - I am in a state of shock - my ideals shattered - everything that has ever meant anything to me destroyed - I ask you to post uplifting comments and any useful suggestions as I sit, head in hands, at one of the lowest points of my life...