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Monday 19 December 2005

Vodafone 3G Connect [Lurks]

Having managed to escape from the big smoke of London to the sleepy backwaters of Bracklesham Bay, I was faced with the standard sort of dilemma that would vex any of the readers of this blog. How does one get an Internet connection? Yes yes there's ADSL and it's ordered and I'm sat here waiting for the light to go green on my ADSL router, but up to that point I had to work out how to work from home before there's even a phone line.
As it turns out through work I had some experience of Vodafone's 3G Mobile Connect service which is basically a nice fast 384kbps broadband connection delivered via UMTS 3G. Of course this isn't new and his beeriness general Amnesia aka the G-man, has had this for awhile and he might have even done a blog if I could be arsed to search for it. But whereas said G-man might comment on such important issues such as what colour the card is and how a customer service representative failed to respond adequetly "DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?", all wrapped up in a flowery if somewhat indecipherable prose - I think there's probably ample room left for me to add my thoughts to this subject.
Rambling aside, the important fact here is that you can get one of these cards for basically free if you get the unlimited price plan and pay some small amount if you're on a lower tarif. Or you can currently get one free with a laptop from various system builders as there's a promotion on right now. More importantly still, Vodafone have put an axe to the ludicrous data rate charges and come up with a basic three tier system as follows:
  • PAYG - £2 per megabyte
  • Mobile Connect 250 - 250MB per month - £25 per month
  • Mobile Connect Unlimited - 1GB per month - £45 per month

Now interestingly the web site I linked above doesn't mention the PAYG scheme but it does exist. Obviously £2 a megabyte is goddamn stupid but there you go. The price plan options are a 12-month contract since you generally got the hardware subsidized.
What you get is a sort of fat DVD case with a manual and the card. The PCMCIA card has a fat red thing (branding ahoy) that sticks out the side with irritatingly bright lights that flash (constantly) red for a GPRS connect or blue for 3G. You got to install their software as well but it seems to have improved loads, from what I've heard. You can send/receive SMS messages and see the signal strength of GPS and GPRS connections. It'll also show you your usage in megabyes, and this you need because if you go above the allocation on the price plans - you go into £2 a megabyte territory. Nice eh?
What's it like though? Pretty good actually. The big difference I noticed from using a GPRS connection on a phone bluetoothed to a laptop was that when the signal died, it didn't really care. Yeah my IRC locked up, web pages didn't work for a bit, but soon as there was signal again it carried on. It also seemlessly switched back and forth between GPRS and 3G. It's also pretty nippy and even though I'm a good way out in the sticks, I've got a workable 3G connection if I place the laptop on a window cill. I'm actually using it as the gateway for the entire LAN now so we can get net access from the other PCs.
However there's one cheeky thing I discovered, purely by accident. I was lamenting at the low quality of images I was seeing on my coppermine picture gallery and then noticed there was this strange alt-text tool-tip type thing on images saying "press Shift-R to improve the quality of the image". I started blaming Firefox at first. Then I noticed it was there in IE too. I had a quick panic about spyware and other stuff. Then I found this thread on google.
What Vodafone do is run all web access through a transparent proxy. Then they actually intercept all the images you're downloading and recompress them in a very low and very shitty quality and send those on to you as well. Finally they cut out white space and stuff from HTML and insert a script to be able to load the original image.
The thing is, this is quite obviously Evil and they offer no way to turn it off. However, you're paying by capacity. What they're doing is a GOOD thing and I must admit I was baffled at the lack of data I was using when web browsing. Bad stuff is, there's no way to turn it off and they didn't jump up and down and tell you about this at any stage that I saw.
However for a laptop, for browsing on the move, actually this approach is sensible and just what you want really. It's either that or browsing with no images and loading them when required which is a bit of a cock and an inconvienient cock at that. As it stands, if you do want the proper image, shift R and it loads up nice. So in conclusion, they're acting the corporate cock about it but it's actually a damn good solution and is genuinely useful.
Of course what they should really do is not charge TWO FECKING QUID a megabyte and it'd be less of an issue. I'm also rather irritate d by this standard horseshit of the "unlimited connect" which they promptly call out as 1GB being their fair use limit afterwhich they reserve the right to kick you off and all that sort of stuff. Why not just call the bloody thing 1GB? Mobile operators have been shafting us for years so I guess one can't expect them to suddenly become reasonable upstanding businesses.
However, by and large the cost of it is at least down into the realms of reality and assuming you can get your work to foot the bill, it's a pretty niftily performing solution for a laptop. Just think, no more cocking about with wireless access points. Bliss!

Thursday 8 December 2005

Recipe: Seafood Skillz Omelete [Lurks]

It's been awhile since I've shoved up a recipe and this afternoon when I perused our fridge, I found an odd assortment of ingredients that have to be eaten before our move this weekend. These are often the most inventive circumstances for cooking and having been surprised and not only cooking something edible but something rather unique, I thought I'd try pass it on as a recipe.
Without further ado, here's the Seafood Skillz Omelete. Here's what we're going to need to serve two:
  • Two chunky fillets of salmon
  • Can of tune
  • Small can of sweetcorn
  • Half a dozen free-range eggs
  • Some grated mature cheddar
  • Herbs de province
  • Mayonaise

First of all, I had already premade a tuna sweetcorn mixture for sandwiches so I describe this first. Grab a dish and slap in a whole can of tuna. Then pitch in a good couple of pinches of herbs de province or other mix herbs to your taste. Add a nice desert spoon of mayonaise and some sweet core and bobs your uncle. Just swizz it around with a fork until it's all broken up and and a nice tuna sweetcorn paste. Don't forget to season, I wouldn't bother with salt here but pepper is the business.
Now get another dish, pitch all them eggs in. Add a dash of worcestershire sauce, a heavy splash of milk (not too much, milky omelettes are nasty) and the grated cheese. Mix that all up and season again, I'm partial to pepper again and a pinch of paprika.
Now get a small fry pan nice and hot. I'd use vegetable or groundnut oil here instead of butter personally. Pour in half your mixture for your first omlette and just be careful that you don't end up with all the grated cheese in the second one since it sinks to the bottom. Fork it out if needs be. Leave it on high for a couple of minutes and swish it around. If you've got too much uncooked on top, you've probably got some puffy bits, make a hole in those spots and let the liquid poor through underneath. This'll get you a consistently thick and fluffy chappy.
Shift to a lower heat while it puffs up. After it has, then you can swish the omlette around in your pan to loosen it and then flip it over in situe with a deft flick of the wrist. That's what the skillz is in the recipe name for! Just whack the heat on high for a minute to seal up the top of the omlette. This will actually become the base.
You probably had a couple of minutes to spare in that, so now it's a good time to cook up the salmon. If you're lazy or seemingly every kitchen appliance you owned is packed into a box like I found, you can microwave salmon with careful attention. Space the fillets right out on a plate, spoon a little water on the pan, cover in cling film and make some holes and then zap for a couple of minutes and let stand. You'll probably need to zap again, but let it stand and check first. Overcooked salmon also sucks. It would be better to poach the salmon if you can spare the time but if you're careful, a microwave is fine.
You're also going to need to microwave that tuna mix so it's at least warm. That shouldn't take more than 30 seconds. It should gently start to leak a milky fluid and that's great, it counteracts the dryness of the omlette. Hopefully your omlettes are shaping up while you've been sorting out the salmon so now you can get them onto a plate upside down so the darker side is up, place the salmon steak down the middle and and then spoon off the tuna sweetcorn mixture onto either side, sandwiching your warm freshly cooked salmon.
Finally drizzle a light sweet sauce with bite such as thai sweet chilli or my favorite Cottage Delight indonesian chilli garlic sauce (Waitrose) around the very edge, not over the top. When eating you can smooth a little onto a peice of omlette and alternately load up with tuna or salmon. Bloody fantastic and about 20 minutes work all told.

Monday 28 November 2005

Name my gaff! [Lurks]

In just a matter of a few weeks, I hope to be finally rid of London town and have moved to a bungalow in a secluded part of the south coast. There's a funny old tradition down in these parts and that's to give your place a name so it's not just a number. The surrounding places have cutesy sea-related names but I don't necessarily see why one must keep with tradition although obviously anything outlandish might be a little difficult to make fly with the missus :-)
WoW related themes might be a bit of a laugh and I'm partitial to Stormwind Cottage so far, Darkshore also having been mentioned (Southshore seems more appropriate) much as I'd obviously like to call the place Blackwing Lair. :-)
Any further suggestions?

Monday 21 November 2005

Geek Novels [Spiny]

The Guardian as the top 20 geek novels.

Odd that there's no fantasy & I've only read 7 of the 20. Anyone got a full house?

Friday 18 November 2005

Clearing the air [Lurks]

In recent years there's been a trend in the developed world to ban smoking in public places. Close to home Ireland set the pace with a blanket ban in public places including bars. Even famously unhealthy Scotland has introduced a blanket ban to come into effect early next year.
Not so in the UK, with our famously pandering government creating hideous legislation that would allow exemptions and enough legal wormholes that might have been exploited to gain faster-than-light travel. In the end more or less everyone declared over complex and unworkable. At present this weirdy partial ban looks set to be introduced in mid 2007 in the UK. Here's an explanation of who is doing what.
The exemptions include private clubs, which I suppose is fine by me, and pubs that don't serve food. The latter really pisses me off because I've wanted a ban in all pubs since forever. Ordinarily sensible human beings for some reason, I fail to be able to explain, will fire up cigarettes in pubs and fill the place with a noxious cloud of smoke that stings the eyes and, for me being as asthematic, makes breathing difficult the next day. Worse still, of course, people have to work there. This 'no smoking at the bar' shit you have in London right now is fucking absurd.
The problem is the leisure industry has whinged that when they ban smoking, people go to the place that allows smoking and their sales go down. That's right, because a small preportion of cancer-lovers will drag themselves and their friends into the cancer-friendly establishment. The only solution is a total ban. Then everyone's sales are the same. Surely it makes sense, I mean even Ireland worked it out and they know a thing or two about pubs.
Naturally our government cannot be trusted to simply do the right thing, eventually it transpires that the UK leisure industry has seen the light and declared their support for an outright ban. Thank Christ, common sense prevails!
Now the health community and the hospitality industry are both calling for an outright ban. Surely the government will act.
What's your view?

Wednesday 16 November 2005

Social virus webshites [Beej]

Never sign up for Ringo.
That's my advice to you. It's social virus dot com bollocks, one of the many webshites like Plaxo and so on that offers to manage your contact list and your friends online.
So why not Ringo? Well it's simple - I had a bad trip. If you accept an invitation or sign up for the thing, it'll ask for your GMail or Hotmail or MSN password. And then what? Well it e-mails everyone in your address book and everyone you have ever e-mailed to ask them to join Ringo. I've just had an interesting experience where someone at work... let's call the colleague A.Woman... signed up for Ringo using a shared work e-mail account... and now every client and everyone in the whole bloody company has received Ringo spam. gnnnnnnnnnghaaaargh*&%!$£*&"%
Need to "manage" your "friends"? Here's my advice - get a mobile phone or learn to use your e-mail client.

Tuesday 15 November 2005

Evil Empire [Spiny]

The story of Sony's badly judged embarrasment of a DRM solution that exposed their customers PCs to bad haxxor people continues to run & run. Not only does Sony's uninstaller make the situation worse but it turns out their software contains portions of our best loved piece of open source, LAME. Even the warped humour present in 'teh crosshatch' couldn't have painted a funnier picture. In other news non other than the Times front page has them as the #1 bad guy aiming to spoil your Christmas! With well known publications such as Wired calling for a Sony boycott maybee it's time to hand their PR director a katana and some Wikipedia linkage :)

Monday 14 November 2005

Christmas Gifts For Men [Spiro]

Whilst reading the Sunday Times I came across this artical:
A doctor is experimenting with a radical new Contraceptive treatment - electric shocks to the testicles. Dr Sava Bojovic, a fertility expert in Novi Banocvi, Serbia, says the small shock makes men temporarily infertile. "We attach electrodes to either side of the testicles and send low currents flowing through them," he explains. "This stuns the sperm, effectively putting them to sleep for up to 10 days." He hopes to have a small, battery-powered shocker ready by Christmas.
Now I'm not a complete wuss, but the thought of having to shock myself once every ten days make my legs cross and clench. Does he honestly think people will buy it? I think not, there are plenty of other methods that are totally painless.
So, Dear Santa,
Please, Please don't bring me a Bollock Shocker for Christmas.
Made me think there must be a whole list of things on the market that you really wouldn't want as a present. So come on chaps, what would you hate to find in your stocking?

Thursday 10 November 2005

Energy Crisis? [Slim]

I've been thinking quite a lot recently about how the next 25 years will pan out. We've seen some pretty compelling evidence that societies obsession with growth isn't really a sustainable plan long term unless we have some pretty major breakthroughs. Already global demand for fossil fuels has ramped up dramatically despite the price going the same way, with demand from emerging economies adding to the traditional industrailised nations already heavy needs.
So today the bbc says the follow:"Up to the year 2050, fossil fuels will remain the dominant energy source - there really is no alternative,"
Basically there's nothing really to replace fossil fuels, and our nuc plants are to be shelved too with no new ones planned. The article seems to assume fossil fuels will still be cheap and plentify by 2050. If they're not, we're basically fucked, and this is without taking any theories of global warming into account.
There's not really much we can do individually. If there is an impending oil crisis, we need action from governments, and action fast. We need oil to be priced to restrict demand and control it's use to the important areas like food production, drugs and medicine, etc and not wasted in vast quanties on shopping trips to Hong Kong. But of course the capitalism growth model doesn't allow this, if any country taxes oil to restrict consumpion it will become uncompetitive, nobodys going to price themselves out of the global market in this way.
There's other views on this point of course, some folks believe we'll have some breakthroughs to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, some say it won't run out that fast. Some say the only solution is the collapse of society with global famine to reduce the human race back to a survivable and sustainable number. Either way, it'd be nice to have some sort of contingancy planning and long term decision making up front, given the scale of the problem, don't you think?
I've friends who's recently got married in South Africa, they flew their immediate family and mates down there from the UK, and then jetted off somewhere else very hot and distant after that. The total wedding probably consumed enough oil to fuel 100 odd cars for a year. I can't help thinking that we're going to look back on this flippent waste of resource with a big chunk of regret in a few years time.

Wednesday 9 November 2005

ma mobi! [Shedir]

My mobile. It's quite a personal thing now, how it's setup probably tells a lot about you.
I'm sorta bored with my 6230 now. Main gripe is nokia's obsession with 5 caller groups. Why not just allow a 'tone per person if you want and tones for groups if you can't be arsed.
The Ericsson phones I had allowed you to have a tone per person, about the best thing they did IMO.
Anyway, who's got what on their phones?
Wifey - I bet you look good on the dance floor, Arctic Monkeys (well spotted Am)

Mates - Take me out, Franz Ferdinand

Work - I'm on my way, Proclaimers (even I ended up with "we gotta get out of this place" by the animals. Especially since I knocked back the chance to get out)

celtic - The Willy Maley song, celtic FC.

EED - I predict a riot, Kaiser Chiefs
sms txt alert - cisco beep beep from 24
So what about you got on your personal communicator and how sad does that make you?

Tuesday 1 November 2005

Telecrapper 2000 [Spiny]

Readers, readers; readers. We all love PCs don't we? Tell you what though, what ever reason you love your PC, that's not the best reason. How do I know? Well, my friends, I found that reason, here.

This ladies & gents is the Telecrapper 2000. A little bit of funky wiring to your phone and a small computer program. All it does is use the caller ID function of your phone to decide whether to pick up or not. If the program picks up the call, it just waits for a pause in the conversation from the caller & play the next wav file a sequence. Can you guess where this is heading?...Ever had a call from double glazing sales?* There's some fine examples on the site, but Example 5 had me in stitches, someone even did a flash version here.

Hats off to Richard Campbell of the rather exelent Mondays podcast for tracking this one down.

* Best response to double glazing goes to Mrs Spiny:
Ring Ring
"Hello, this is ??? glazing here, may I interest you in some windows?"
"No thanks, we've already got lots of windows!"

Monday 31 October 2005

Why play Warcraft? [Lurks]

As may or may not be apparent to readers of this collective textual diarrhea of a web site, the good majority of active members of the 'Death have become somewhat less active in the traditional multiplayer gaming scene that we have been involved in for the last eight years. The reason is that we're hopelessly lost in World of Warcraft, having starting a guild called the Treehugging Hippies. We do have the odd die-hard member that refuses to be sucked in but by and large, we have more people consistently playing WoW than we've had playing any other game in the past.
Given our background, there's a good many that wonder how it has come to pass that this band of aging gamers would lay down their rocket launchers, railguns and Colt M4A1 assault rifles and pick up swords, bows and magical staves instead. The mistake here is to say that it's all about the game itself. To some degree it is - since it really is quite a marvellous game - but it's a bit more than that. I've been wondering how best to explain this, holding out for some sort of killer example if you will. Last Friday that killer example landed in my lap and I relay this experience to you so that you can perhaps understand the attraction of the world of massively multiplayer games.
The Treehugging Hippies has 155 characters of between 90 and 100 real people. That's a lot bigger than EED ever was and, here's the shocker, some of them are girls. One of these ladies is involved in this story however first I need to explain the nature of this experience. I'm not going to tell you about the most amazing battle we had, the most difficult dungeon bested or even a tail of foes vanquished on the PvP battlegrounds. I don't think you can really explain that sort of thing anyway. I'm going to tell you about something that happened in guildchat last Friday. That in turn was something that happened in real life.
Arora in game is a level 60 Night Elf and in real life is an attractive 19 year old gothic waif from Staffordshire. I could link you her bitbucket photosite but having noticed that Slim has perved it out good and proper, she has wisely chosen to restrict access - much as the thought of a stampede of overweight aging gamer blokes oggling her site doesn't appeal obviously. Anyhow, Friday afternoon Arora arrives onto guildchat and explain she's just had the worst half hour of her life.
Following a dramatic paragraph break, I should tell you that I'm having to paraphrase what she told us, the whole story, based on bits snippets and so it's just a best account as I can manage.
It all started when Arora lost her knob. Her door knob, of her bedroom door. Thus locking her out of the rest of the house. However unlikely this may seem, there was no-one else in the house, no telephone to hand, no immediate mechanism to escape and so Arora was locked in and over the course of the next hour, became increasingly agitated and desperate for a way out.
First of all she tried the obvious stuff. You know, getting a coat hanger and hacking at the door, what anyone would do in this scenario but realising this was having no effect, Arora had to get creative. Her boyfriend's work ties, you see where this is going don't you? Yes, that's right, she knotted the ties together to form a chain. Rapunzel, rapunzel, let down your, err, multi-coloured tie-rope. Having fastended this to the window frame and testing it for load baring ability, Arora thought better of this scheme particularly since she's afraid of heights and it was a long way down from this first floor bedroom window. The horror of it all.
Fortunately she had a really good idea. She could gather up all the bedclothes and throw them out the window. Making a sort of fireman's landing out of sheets, blankets and pillows. This is probably also the time to point out that the bedroom faces the front of the house. Picture, if you will, that previous multi-coloured tie-rope snaking down the front of the house, followed later by a tsunami of various linens and blankets. Try keep a straight face boyo because that's what I had to do while being told this story since apparently someone else, on Teamspeak, was so unutterably mean as to let forth an olympic burst of unending laugher when told about this. Beastly, I'm sure you'll agree.
We're not actually done with this tale. When Arora manouvred her lithe and shapely figure (all together boys, phwoar!) out onto the window cill in order to prepare for the leap of doom down to the bedclothes in the front garden... Arora already traumatised from having to confront her fear of heights phobia was cruelly assaulted by another, no less terrifying experience. There was a spider!. It was only small, you understand, but those are the ones to be afraid of. Tarantulas are okay, apparently, but I digress. There was a spider and it was scary.
So Arora spent the latter half of this traumatic period of incarceration, the half hour I remind you that she described as the worst half hour of her life, perched on the window trying to desperately coax the spider away and then contemplating that long drop to freedom. Eventually she did it, eventually Arora emerged victorious and bested her fears and triumphed over this elite quest. Hooray!
The point of this story is that this really happened. Since I heard about it I'm not sure if I've really stopped laughing yet, you know inside. You don't meet people like this in Counter-Strike. Some 14 year old adolescent olympic champion twat on a Battlefield 2 server is not going to let you into their life to give you the sheer unadulterated pleasure of hearing this story. All this unfolded while I was playing the game, slaying goblins and orcs and all that, and the double whammy of the two - this great game populated as it is with real people you just don't get to meet and talk to in real life, that's what this shit is really about.
I'd have a hard time hating Arora which is a sort of pre-requisite frame of mind, in my view, to say wanting to gun her down in Counter-Strike by being just plain better. Rar! Testosterone is good! Rar! That sort of rush, the feeling of being better than someone is something we all know, as blokes, and we love it. However it's a transient thing and being in my 30s, I don't have the stomach to keep that up for hours on end any more. It just doesn't compare, really, to the simple joy of being amusingly lecherous to a foxy lady some 15 years my junior.
I'm not suggesting that this is why we play Warcraft, it's an example. We also have some pretty hard core gaming challenges of stuff that's quite hard and takes real determination and skill to prevail over. The difference is, we're not having to hate people and the goal isn't to fuck people over. The goal is to get together with your mates and meet these challenges together. It all seems a bit more healthy somehow.
Arora is probably reading this too and I hope she doesn't think I'm being too unkind when she sees the point I'm trying to raise here. What I've tried to illustrate here is an example how this game and the people playing it have given me a awful lot more pleasure than any of the games I have played before.
You don't need to be a competitive arsehole to play this game. You can be yourself, you can play it all night and you can meet lots of new and interesting people and not all of them are 200 pound northern nerds called Barry. Not all of them are, anyway.
Anyhow, returning to the plight of Arora, I'm sure you'll all be delighted to know that she escaped with only slight bruising and having emerged the stronger person from this experience was in a good position to deal with the subsequent discovery of a slug on her pillow.

Thursday 27 October 2005

Which Server Browser? [Spiny]

I like to "big up" (as the kids say) good stuff on, especially when it's free.

I've been a long time all seeing eye user with a lifetime membership. It's still the best server browser out there, mainly due to the fact that its the only one that has ping list servers. This lets you get info & ping only the servers you're interested in, dramatically reducting the refresh time. However since Yahoo!!!1111 bought the program out support has fallen by the wayside. They only have one guy who can work on it with the result that updates for new games take weeks or months. I'd still recommend it if you only play older games, just don't expect much support. The forums are full of users bleating about the state of support from Yahoo!!!11111 & there seem to be lots of people having forum accounts banned for raising their voices too loud.

Enter stage left, KQuery It seems to support all the stuff that ASE does, apart from the server side ping lists. There's buddy support & plenty of filter scripting options. It'll do DDE to mIRC & vIRC etc etc. The user interface could be a little better, but it's not the ad riddled pain that Gamespy Arcade is.
Here's a screen grab anyhow:

Edit: ASE now has Q4 support, come back all is forgiven :) - or what the fuck is social bookmarking? [Houmous]

Anyone else been getting pissed off with the reducing quality of Google searches lately? Having got fed up with clicking on links that appear to deal precisely with my query only to find myself looking a Russian pr0n portal, I’ve been experimenting with social bookmarking. is a site where you can store your bookmarks online. Its real simple – every time you want to bookmark a particular page you just click on a link you set up in the bookmark toolbar on your browser. It asks for a heading that you want to store the link under and that’s it. When you open your page all your bookmarks are there neatly stored under their headings.
OK so you can keep one set of bookmarks from multiple computers and you are cool if your PC goes tits up. Nice but….not that big a deal.
What has actually got me excited about is the sharing arrangements on it. You can easily see what other people have bookmarked using the same heading as you and if you want you add them to your own bookmark set.
You can do Boolean searches by topic/s or user, and if you are really into a particular subject you can arrange for any new links posted by anyone on that topic to be listed in your inbox next time you sign in. You can also keep track of other particular users (or a combination of both user and topics ) as well as simply seeing the most popular links being stored.
My early findings are that this sharing mechanism is often showing more relevant links than an equivalent google search with some interesting popular links. Do you, like me, simply think of memory sticks as something you use to keep powerpoint presentations or important letters that you couldn’t print at time? Have a look at this – a whole new world of portable USB memory stick use!
p.s. Fuck me – I now find portable USB use interesting? - shoot me now!

Monday 24 October 2005

A hack and a wish [Am]

Somewhere, or rather a few somewheres, there is a bloke, or as we may have now established blokes plural, whose sole (you get the idea) job, it is my considered hypothesis, is to exist to generally piss off the shaving public.
For the expediency of this blog I'm going to concentrate on one bloke or as the ancient Athenians might have said "one bloke" whom you might consider, as you sit back reading this blog, crafted as it was on a weekend, with a glass of wine, gently stroking your be-nyloned thighs, may work for Gillette or Wilkinson Sword or whoever or whomever. Let us call him Ashley. Ashley Peninteass.
Ashley's job is Chief of Metallurgical Lamitude. His mate is Head of Stupid Colour Fading Lube Strips. For their usefulness for the general public one could say that an apt analogy would be that if they were a car they'd be a DeLorean, an airship the R101. If they were a country they'd be fricking Belgium.
This is not to misconstrue that I have anything against Belgians. Hell no. Any nation that can do *that* to beer has got a populace with a purpose. They just need to go and take over somewhere geographically significant but universally redundant and do their thing on a much large scale. Insert your own contintental European, American or other globally selected preference here. Whatever you choose, ca c'est juste if you get my meaning.
Back to Ashley, Chief of Metallurgical Lamitude. Over successive releases of say, by way of example, Gillette, Wilkinson Sword or other face-scraping product, he has been under constant pressure (it is my hypothesis) to find ever increasing ways of reducing the time between a first shave with a new cartridge that makes it feel like you just parted the proverbial 2 H’s from the O corruscating off your immaculately brazilian'd jaw line to a state in which in subsequent shaves it feels as if you have descended as fast as metallurgically possible to the equivalent of hacking at your face with a not-very-sharpened sharpened half-brick when you've been drinking Diamond White all night with the wrong prescription specs on when you don’t need glasses.
Ashley’s job, in other words, is the shaving equivalent of making shaving equipment whose ethos is straight from find the lady or any tart’s pre-trade through the trouser snake-shake. Instantly attractive and wholeheartedly, deliberately, ultimately designed to do you for as much money possible for as little gratification as possible.
Ah fuck it. I’m talking Gillette Mach 3 readers.
Apart from the POINTLESS little Belgiac vibrator nonsense with the A3 battery for which I shall not spake lest I get incredibly nose-splumingly angry, the blades on these things are, in my personal opinion which just happens to be right, absolute pants, a piss and a pestulance to the longevity of shavitude. My theory, yes, is that it’s someone’s task to select metal and consistencies and sharpness which will make us feel frotted half to death on the first touch and thereafter die as fast as possible without pissing us off.
Guess what? You pushed the dyingness too far. The blades are too crap too soon. The piss is officially off.
Ashley, I don’t blame you. It’ll be some accountant, some steel surveyor, an auditor of acuteness, some plenishment plankton that did for you. They took your pretty Phd qualified head and gripping your jaw with Aloe dappled lube fingers stuck their filthy decripitude-whistling snake-tongue in your pink virgin ear and wriggled it to the tune of increasing marginhood. You fucking poor sap. You and that bloke that makes the die-in-the-light pointless glide strips.
But you let them into your life bubba and like Alex Garland in The Beach, subject to the Thai drug-runner militia pant-soiling, you know in your heart as that once idealistic metallurgical god that there’s a way to make a damn fine shave that lasts for a decent amount of time that isn’t sucking the joie de vivre of a man’s daily SSS.
Yesterday I bought 8 Mach 3 blades for £11.50. I don’t want to do it again. Ashley, whoever, whomever you are, come into the light bubba. Come into the light....

Sunday 23 October 2005

On Quake 4 [Spiny]

If you've caught a few of the Q4 reviews you'll notice that the distinct theme is one of underwhelment. While the single player is lots of things: graphically impressive, less brown that Doom, pretty well scripted, the feeling is that Raven let the side down on the gameplay. There's no apparent attempt at clever AI with the Strogg running & gunning straight for you. If you're after Half-Life 2 levels of enemy intelligence then I suggest you check out the rather excellent F.E.A.R. The overall impression is gameplay stuck in the late 90s, albeit within an explosive spectacle of Jerry Bruckheimeresque proportions. If running & gunning with brain out is your thing then you'll probably find some solid entertainment here, but be warned it falls a long way short in terms of gameplay than other recent titles. Far Cry, HL2 & F.E.A.R.

There's also a few annoyances that really don't do the game justice. A couple that really niggle me is that a lot of the sound assets seem to have been lifted straight from doom3 with minimal tweaking, and Stroggos seems to look an awful lot like mars Prior to release, a few of us in the clan dusted off our railguns & rekindled our love of Quake 3. Despite the excelently constructed gameplay mechanics of the Unreal Tournament series (Onslaught out battlefielding, the battlefield series), nothing ever came close to the visceral brutality of a good old Quake 3 deathmatch. Even now I go misty eyed over the memory of seeing my frame rate tank as I waded through clouds of offal on a packed server. Ahh those were the days :).

Well the good news is that they DO make them like they used to. The feel of the gameplay is very Q3 with a best-of selection from the Quake series weapons. I do have a niggle about the default weapon, the machine gun. While it's OK, I find the sound a bit annoying on packed servers & the effect is not unlike a legion of children banging on crappy snare drums. [Edit: someone's done a tweaked pak here] Old faves like the nail & lightning guns reappear while the rail is as sweet as ever. The BFG AKA the "Dark Matter Gun" has been given a bit of a tweak. Unlike the plasma on steroids version in Q3 it now works a little more like the Quake 2 version, dealing a slow moving bubble of ribena coloured death with a huge splash area. Multi play was the main reason I picked up Q4 & a graphical lift Quake 3 gameplay was all I was expecting. After all this time, I'm still a fan of the simplistic adrenelin rush of twitch shooter gameplay. Hey! I think for a living, can't expect me to do it on my time off too ;) As such I don't feel too short changed by the single player campaign. There's one thing that's a must for on line play though - Turn Down Your Video Settings. Although the network code is no longer linked to the frame rate, the game still lives & dies by the lack or presence of lag. While I found 1280x1024 "high" perfectly acceptable in single player, I've gone to 1024x768 "medium" for multi. The result is far more playable. Having gone back to the single player game I didn't even really notice the difference. The gritty vista provided by Doom 3 seems very tollerent of lower resolutions.

There's also a rather nifty instant tourney mode that will manage a bunch of mates scrapping for the title of King Fragger, just the sort of thing we could have done with when EED used to run Voltfests! Maybee if I can persuade enough clannies to stop hugging trees for a bit we could even have a couple of nights where we relived the glory days when the EED name was ph34red accross european Q2 servers...

For those that have the game, those Upset Chaps have started their very own Q4 guide. You may also want to check out the video review courtesy of Burger King.

Edit: Around half way through the sp now & enjoying it, seems to get better as it goes along. There's some very impressively designed interior levels.

Friday 14 October 2005

iPod Video [Beej]

So the new iPod Video has been announced. It is not unusual or unexpected, and if anything it is a bit of a disappointment. Would you pay $2 for an episode of Lost or Desperate Housewives to watch on the bus? Who actually wants to buy a music video when they can just watch MTV? Well not me, that's for sure.
As a long-time iPod user, I need a new iPod and it may as well have this new 262k screen even if I have no intention of using it for video - I have a PSP for that. Newcomers to portable video would almost certainly be better off with an Archos GMini...

Thursday 13 October 2005

Marriage, pros n cons [shedir]

Dr Dave has re-entered the fray good reader. Once again he's dipping his toesized cock into fresh damp areas.
This raises some questions on what is the correct viable lifestyle for the modern gaming man.
Married Life
She's always there for househole chores
Dinner ready when you get in
Sex not necessarily on demand, but always a possibility
Nice house with fixtures and fittings

Expensive, houses aren't cheap
Mood swings, which you can't escape
1 pussy ono

Living with hired help
1 maid just there for househole chores, 1 complaint and sacked
Dinner delivered nightly, or eat on the hoof
Sex on demand, with hookers tho
No Kids
Cheap digs, ergo more money for boys toys

Sexual variety limited by imagination and budget
Much higher risk of STDs
Could be lonely sometimes
5 lvl 60 chars in wow...a month

Am I right, or am I right?

Wednesday 12 October 2005

Blizzard in France, why?! [Lurks]

I'm not sure what the history is there, how it came to be that Blizzard set up their European operations in France but this was one of the most stupid decisions the firm could possibly have made. Beyond the out and out rank incompetence in terms of running servers, patching smoothly and that sort of thing - they face serious problems recruiting basic support staff. That speak English.
One of the reasons is because not only is Blizzard in France but it's in a really horrible dingy part called Velizy which they're claiming is in 'Paris' to make it sound rather more glamerous.
It's not working. They can't recruit the staff, because no one there speaks English or knows what the hell a computer or the Internet is. Because it's France and they're the most backwards country in all of Western Europe.
Look what they're having to resort to to try convince people to leave their proper first-world countries and move to France. It'd be funny if it wasn't so depressing.
Had they set up more or less anywhere else they'd be falling overthemselves finding highly technical staff with fluent English speaking skills and of course employment law that would actually allow a full 40-hour week and the ability to sack someone if they sucked.
Sad, quite frankly.

Wednesday 21 September 2005

Remote MP3 Stream / Player [Am]

Right quick check in with the resident gurus; my father in law has got an out building in the garden which serves as a changing room for his pool. What he'd like to do is to be able to serve music from the house to a small setup in the out building so that he can stream mp3 from the house. There were a few solutions offered up in earlier blogs but I wonder where anyone thinks the current best state of play is?

Monday 19 September 2005

Desktop hardware [Muz]

Good day, gentle readers. It struck me that I've not contributed anything to the collective braindump for a while, and seeing as I have a bit of time on my hands prior to returning to studentdom, I thought I'd make a brief contribution to the fount of knowledge that is our communal blog.
So, on to the topic: desktop setups. Previously, I had been using a Logitech DiNovo (as blogged in blog 917); I was quite happy with the keyboard and separate number pad/calculator/media control - batteries lasted a good lone while, and as mentioned in that blog, typing on it is just... nice. The mouse was sufficient for my use - never seemed to run out at inopportune times, and as solid and functional as we've come to expect from Logitech's peripherals. The only issue was, as ever, with Logitech's software. (Hacks for Forward/Back compatibility with Firefox, ropey media control performance, etc)
Recently, however, a couple of things happened that caused me to reassess my desktop situation. Firstly, my summer internship finished, leaving me with a surfeit of free time for gaming. This lead me to discover a fundamental flaw with cordless mice - they suck for playing games; not due to any inferiority in performance compared with their wired cousins, mind. There is no added latency, they're smooth and accurate to use, but... the batteries have an annoying tendency to run out just as you're in the middle of an elite quest in World of Warcraft, or some other similarly inconvenient time. Time for a new (corded) mouse, methinks.
The other issue, which is of a less immediate but more worrying nature, is that of RSI. This again has been covered before by shedir in blog 754 and more recently by His Beerness in blog 973. It's been brought to my attention as someone I know has recently been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome. It looks painful as hell. As someone who's spent ten years at terminals of one sort or another as a hobby, and will probably spend the next twenty at least working at one, this issue has suddenly been put into stark relief. Spoke with an occupational therapist (it's great having a GP for a mum), and she recommended a 'split' keyboard, and, as Slim has said in an earlier blog, to rely on keyboard shortcuts wherever possible (I bought a Microsoft Natural Multimedia Keyboard).
So, how do they perform? Firstly, the mouse. I decided to stay with Logitech - though their software is at times an annoyance (forward and back buttons don't work with Firefox if you have SetPoint installed, FFS), their hardware is built to last. Also, I've always gotten along with their MX*** form factor - it seems to be just the right size and shape for my hand. It seemed to be a choice between the MX510 and the MX518. I decided to go with the 518, as all the custom stuff on the 510 requires their (shite) setpoint software, and the idea of being able to switch resolutions in hardware was intriguing. Ordered from eBuyer (Dabs don't stock the 518, sigh), it arrived this morning. Nuked my Setpoint install (required for the MX900 that came with the DiNovo), plugged it in, and away I go.
I'm actually really impressed with it. I'm not going to talk about the ergonomics, suffice to say it's the same form factor as the MX500, 700, 900 and so on. It just works. What I am impressed with though, is the inbuilt dpi switch. It's maximum is 1600 DPI, which, as you can imagine, is absolutely stupid, cursor flying all over the place. Handy if you're doing work on a dual monitor set up with both running at 1280*1024 though. The interesting bit is you can drop that down to 800dpi (good for your general gaming) or 400dpi (perfect for snip0rage) in hardware, with no need to install any software. And as a bonus, if you don't install SetPoint, the Forward and Back buttons Just Work. Winning!
Keyboard wise: I've had the Natural for about a week now, and again, I'm really impressed. (This, thankfully, Dabs do stock). Had it running side by side with the Dinovo for a while, just to get a feel - it's amazing how much more natural (forgive the pun) typing on a split key keyboard feels. All the media buttons and stuff work just as they should (MS drivers, MS operating system, you'd hope so eh?), and though I thought I'd miss having a seperate numpad that I could use as a calculator, it turns out that the Natural has a shortcut button to start up Windows calculator, which works just as well. Another win for new hardware. The only downside is that for this version, in their infinite wisdom, MS decided to change the shape of the Home/End/PgUp/PgDn/Insert/Delete block. It's a minor annoyance - a week later, and I've retrained myself. Thankfully, they appear to have reverted to a normal layout in the next model, the Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000; unfortunately, it wasn't available in an EN-GB layout when I ordered. Of course, due to the universal pervasiveness of Murphy's law, it looks like the thing is being released in the UK pretty soon. Bah.
One bonus of having a Natural Keyboard which I didn't anticipate, though, is the fact that my typing speed has improved by leaps and bounds. I, like many of you, I imagine, learned to type by experience. I attended one course run by uni to learn the theory of 'proper' touch typing, but never really put it to use as my own method seemed to work sufficiently well. However, the split nature of ergonomic keyboard pretty much forces you to use the 'correct' keys, and as a result, I've noticed a marked increase in both speed an accuracy. It'd be interesting to see someone come up with a DVORAK layout natural keyboard...

Monday 12 September 2005

Spec 'im [Am]

Ok my ex boss wants to pc up his gaff for him, the lady wife and their boys (8 and 5ish). I got the following off him;
"£2000 tops for everything (whatever that is....pc, screen, printer, software). How about Sony Vaio VGC-V3S (incl Word XP Home)? Home office (Word, email, PPoint with potential for other software that i havn't thought about yet) use for burning the midnight oil for Cheyne and some gaming capabilities. Mrs J to use mail order. Like the idea of lack of wires and double up as a decent TV, DVD, writer, music download photos etc...."
What's the thinking here oh clan of tech gurus?

Thursday 8 September 2005

iTunes 5.0 [Spiny]

Along with the white elephant iTunes phone & the oh so sexxxy iPod Nano, Apple released iTunes 5.0 yesterday.

There's quite a good features list on iLounge (Which seems to have buckled inder the strain of hits), but here's the view from t'death. Well me anyway.

The first thing that strikes you is "where have the borders gone!". The borders on the window have all been reduced to one pixel & the menu has been incorporated into the title bar. Some may like this look. I don't particularly, just seems like a cheap way to gain a bit of screen real estate. In practice it just reduces usability. I can just hear Mac users saying "Why would anyone want to resize a window from somewhere other than the bottom right corner?". Shame

The rest is all good thankfully. It'll now sync your Outlook contacts and calendar onto your pod so there's no need to frig about with vCards or buy shareware. At long last they've added folders into the playlist structure so you can organise your lists, rather than have one monolithic block. Just a shame that the structure isn't taken over to the ipod on sync. You still have to put up with one big list of playlists there. One very nice feature is the search bar that appears just above the track listing. Type a search string into the search box & if you get too many tracks, you can narrow the search with a single click buy selecting an item from the search bar. Either by media type or Artist/Album/Name. They seem to have removed the drop down menu on the seach field too. MS would have left it as they're typically very good at giving you umpteen ways of doing the same thing. Apple however seem to force you to do things one way which they deem to be the easiest. I guess they're trying not to confuse novice users, but I'd rather have choice. Parental controls have been added. Fff. The last cute addition is smart shuffle which lets you control how likeley you are to hear songs by the same artist/album grouped together in a random playlist.

As for the bad, my one problem is that the UI performance is still rather sluggish. I'd rather they just didn't try to keep breaking the Windows user interface model with custom window drawing. I seem to remember that early versions wouldn't even let you resize from anywhere by bottom right for example.

As for the future, I'd like to see two additions:

  1. Better smart playlist construction: You still have to frig about nesting playlists if you want to do anything remotely complex with ANDing and ORing conditions for including songs in a smart playlist.
  2. Just play tracks from any connected iPod option: Sometimes I like to plug my ipod in at work & listen through iTunes there. But to play the tracks, I need to turn off auto sync on the work PC. This setting seems to be persisted onto the iPod, so I have to turn it back on when I dock at home. I'd like to recommend Winamp & ml_pod for that but it suffers from a serious bug where it won't let you undock the iPod, even when you shut down Winamp.

All in all a few nice additions but still a few issues with the UI. Oh and of course the MP3 encoder is still dreadful. MAC users can get a (slow) LAME plugin but Windows users still have to stick with something like CDex. No, don't you dare ask about AAC! :)

Conservative Leadership 2005 [Lurks]

Since this is a short political blog, it might help to sketch where I'm coming from. I'm probably a natural conservative in terms of overall policy but in the last few years they've done a good job to make themselves unelectable. Generally through, as far as I can work out, a fudamentally unrepresentative grass roots activist system that has been more about purporting the views and polices of battle conservative dinosaurs rather than the actual views of the general population.
It's been a chicken and egg situation for the Tory party. The absurdly disconnected policies are deeply uninteresting to potential younger new members of the conservative movement. Then when the Labour party moved to the centre (precisely the middle compromise of the left and right that make up the country) and installed a young and dynamic leader that seemed genuine and was good with the media... the rest, as they wrote, was history.
Rather than modifying themselves to be an effective opposition, the Tories then spent the last few years squabbling and putting forward - through the above described broken grass roots leadership election system - ever more absurd and ineffectual leaders and continued the well past sell-by date tactic of negative campaigning and harping on about issues that people just don't care about such as Europe.
So now several years on we have a situation where the Torys finally realise they need to change the rules and allow ministers to elect the next leader rather than the tens of thousands of old grannies rotting away in countryside cottages. They're still arguing about that.
Now we've a pile of candidates that have announced themselves. None of us naturally enough have any idea who half these people are, even the one that is supposed to be a young moderniser (David Cameron). The only guy that anyone knows - therefore is monumentally more popular than the rest of the candidates to the general population of Britain - is Ken Clarke.
Unfortunately he hasn't been right wing enough for the grannies and has said things about Europe that equate to meanings other than "CRUSH! BURN! KILL!" and he's kinda getting on a bit too when the party realises it needs to reconnect with younger people and maybe ignore the pensioner army this time around.
The burning fact that the party needs a leader that is known, liked and makes a good account of himself on television appears to be destined to once again by ignored by the party. As if this is a mild consequence, overshadowed by the fact he's 65 and kept an open mind with regards to Europe.
It's a bit of a disaster. We need a valid opposition so that we can continue to punish the current government over issues such as Iraq and the continued and deeply worrying nanny state erosion of our liberties, unnecessary laws and an utter refusal to tackle the issue of government red tape and inefficiency.
It's worrying and I find myself doing what, I think everyone else is doing. Developing a general apathy for politics since there's no tick-box on the form for anyone remotely acceptable to us.

Wednesday 7 September 2005

The Mercury Prize [Lurks]

So it seems that rank outsider Anthony and the Johnsons have won the Nationwide Mercury Prize with the album "I am a Bird Now".
There's now some bleating that the band isn't really British since Antony Hegarty has lived in New York for the last 20 years. The Kaiser Chiefs leading the charge, having been pipped to the post.
Personally, I'm delighted. The Mercury prize has always rewarded what are stunning achievements as far as albums go and it's about the only thing that doesn't pander to the popular taste of the day. The Kaisers are ace and their album is great but it's not a remarkably innovative work of art that puts the passion back into music like the Anthony and the Johnsons masterpeice.
So enough of the whining that he should be excluded. This is a good thing for music and hopefully the Mercury prize will continue to inspire people to look a little bit further afield for great new music.

Tuesday 6 September 2005

BT suck [Pod]

We all know this anyway but I had an email from them this morning that made me chuckle.
I'd originally sent them this email
I'm having trouble with your website while paying a bill. Firstly I was unable tochange the issue number and expiry date on my registered card. Instead I had tocreate a whole new card. Not a big issue but pointless anyway. Secondly, and muchmore of an issue is that your webform is refusing my postcode no matter how I formatit (xxxx xxx).
The response I got was huge. Here is an edited version
Dear Mr Denning
I can confirm that there are some instances when you will not be able to pay yourbill online with your Debit Card:
If you have a Monthly Payment plan option and you are in credit with us, you willnot be able to make any payments.If your account balance is zero, you will not be able to make payments which willput your account into credit. If you have already made two bill payments using your Debit Card in the last 24 hours. You may be using a card that is not accepted (we accept Switch, Visa Delta or Solodebit cards)
Alternatively, you may be experiencing problems due to the fact that your carddetails that are stored within your profile are out of date.
If none of these situations apply to you, please can you advise the followinginformation and I can contact our Faults Incident Desk on your behalf toinvestigate this further.
I trust that this email will have helped to provide you with the clarificationneeded and I hope that it has also demonstrated to you that you concerns have beenlooked into thoroughly and professionally.
Its this last paragrah that really made me laugh. I'm really impressed with their thorough and professional auto-response :/
Where do they get these monkeys. You can be sure that the follow up email I sent was rather frank.

Friday 2 September 2005

RSI is the boss [Am]

Lads - one of my senior bosses has managed to get RSI in one hand due to keyboard and blackberry usage. Now I know there's been a few convo's about this over the year and of course he's had occupational health down to look at his posture and typing habits etc but what are our tips for keyboards, mice and other ways of getting round this? So far I've told him about microsoft natural keyboards, the trackball kind of mouse and keeping his arms of the deck etc. But what's best in your mind?
Speaks your brains!

Thursday 1 September 2005

Router fux0r4g3 [Am]

Part and parcel of hosting an AmLan every year-ish is that the clan come round my gaff, play lots of games, shout at each other and blow up my current router.
Last year it was a Netgear 834 or something (which died as soon as the first cunt got in the building), this year a Linksys Wireless-G series which had always worked flawlessly - I mean really flawlessly - until it got loaded with a bunch of blokes trying to play WoW and download a few patches. Its web-interface crawled to a stop and it basically kept fucking up. Before it went down, a quick interweb search turned up this thing was a bit of a 3 leg mule.
This thing was hot and in the end we worked out that pointing a fullblown deskfan at it was good enough to keep it going. But now of course it is seriously winking out, some 10 months into purchase. Have I got the receipt? Does the Pope shit in the woods without a paddle? Of course I ain't.
Anyway here's the deal. The netgear was shit and died at AmLan 1. The linksys was pretty good on the face of it until it too died after 8 months at AmLan 2 and was in fact also shown to be a piece of shit.
I need a recommendation for a really solid serious router. I need something that doesn't die. I need something that will work at AmLan 3 (provided there is one since the missus is still slightly resentful and unmediated about the b&b stay with two kids for two nights - eek). Give me a *decent* recommendation not the cheapest x-from-y solution. For god's sake give me a router that can last more than one more year and one more AmLan!

Hurricane Katrina - Crisis Mismanagement [Beej]

I am quite fascinated by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the United States. The richest, most technologically advanced, most powerful country on the planet has shown many of the signs of a massive breakdown in society at a city-wide level. It's a rare sight. The last failure of law and order must have been the LA Riots? That doesn't even compare to this monumental cluster of a crisis operation.
And the reason for screwing up? Well it's Piss Poor Preparation and Planning isn't it.
There's just doesn't appear to be a coordinated emergency plan in evidence at all. Plucking 100,000+ people from rooftops one by one just cannot be done with helicopters alone. You cannot leave thousands of people in a sports stadium in the middle of the damn city. Where are the tent cities? The buses? The portaloos? Drops of food and bottled water? The enhanced law enforcement posture? It's a flood - how about Marines or the Navy? There are so many things gone wrong it is hard to know which ones to point out first.
Now I have an understandable bias against incompetence because of time I've spent in the military. In the UK, an event of this scope would swiftly result in Civil-Military cooperation under Military Aid to the Civil Community which is a lot easier to say if you make it sound like fast food, so "MAC-C" as in "Mac See". There are others - MACP and MACM, it's all in the same vein and you can mix and match depending on the situation. Here are some key phrases which in the UK would result in the always undervalued British military to be turned to, to "make shit happen":
  • Incident is beyond the capability of the local authorities
  • Emergency Services cannot cope
  • Civil disorder beyond the capability of the Police
  • Authorities cannot maintain services essential to life and health
  • Imminent threat to life
  • I can't remember any others... :-)

So I probably don't need to ask you if you think any or all of the above would apply to a Hurricane Katrina scenario on British soil. The Americans have failed to respond quickly and effectively, and if there's one thing you don't have enough of under pressure it's time. In the UK, the policies and doctrine is written such that the aid can happen very very quickly. Additionally, terrorism wakes a lot of countries up to streamlining a coordinated emergency response. When the hurricane was approaching, and in the immediate aftermath, I don't recall reading or seeing much about getting what you might call strategic level support. No massive preparation, no logistics chain assembled, no C-17s disgorging soldiers. Perhaps the Federal model might be restricting them - the Governor can call out the National Guard, but I didn't see them up to much in days prior and immediate aftermath. Now Dubya is blabbing about needing to "raise money". That's just mad - this isn't a charity fundraise in the Senate, you need to be working down a checklist of A, B, C and Z in order to prevent needless loss of life and you need to be doing it yesterday!
If you ask me, the authorities in Louisiana are in way over their heads and it's a big big fuck-up.

Tuesday 30 August 2005

Laughed at first read [Am]

Was walking around the 'Wharf today and saw a black van which was as dirty as fuck and had a usual finger-etched piece of random grafitti. Now usually this is something incredibly imaginative like "Clean Me" but this was something I haven't seen before which made me laugh out loud; picture it - totally dusted and grimed van with in two foot high letters;
"My bird is this filthy"
Well got a snort out of me. Set me thinking of a couple of others which are some of my favourite film titles ever;
Shaving Ryans PrivatesAnal Kommando {.. I think it's all to do with the K. So heroically, germanically...Arnold...}
and these two from top C-grade movie house Troma;
Surf Nazis Must Die
and the all time classic;
Die Screaming With Sharp Things In Your Head

Thursday 25 August 2005

Shoot Bikers in the face [Slim]

So, Clarkson said motorcyle riders should be shot in the face. He's an opinionated shite, people should be used to that by now. Thing is, the leather clad gay deniers have well and truly spat the dummy out and have organised a petition for his dismissal from the bbc. I'm here to say don't sign that sign this instead. Free speech, yay.

Fontopia EX71SL review [Slim]

While I brought closed cup headphones to AmLan, I quickly realised I was missing out on some quality bleatage from the room, so I plugged my ipod earphones into me lappy instead and blew the fuckers. Doh.

Am I bovvered? Face? Bovvered? They were shit anyway. I still wanted in ear jobbies, so I went a pair of Sony Fontopia isolating jobbies, ex71SL . Instead of sitting in your lugs like regular phones, these things sit in your ear-ole, making an airtight connection. This means that unlike most in ear phones you actually get bass. You get lots of bass in fact, perhaps even a little bit too much if anything, but stuff sounds very nice indeed. Another couple of nice side effects from this in-ear-ole design is that noise is blocked which is ace for walking/biking around heavy traffic and sound leakage is minimal, brill for playing Motorhead in the library.

Couple of downers, first is they're more fragile than regular phones. The in ear stuff is sort of condomish rubber to get a good grip of your ear, and this simply isn't going to be as tough as the hard plastic of regular earphones. Sonys recognised this by shipping em with a hard plastic case plus a soft bag to carry em in, but that's all a bit faffy, I like to wrap me headies around my ipod and pocket it. Second, the sealed ears means you hear quite a bit of your own nose, its like the way your bodies sounds are amplified when you've got blocked up ears, you can hear your feet hitting the ground, stuff like that. Oh they do the sony thing of looping the cable under your chin, which pisses me off too.

Thing is, they sound ace, and I'm prepared to put up with some pain for that, so they get the thumbs up for me.

Monday 22 August 2005

Panorama vs MCB [Lurks]

I've got to hand it to them, after viewing last nights Panorama show on the tele, it seems like the BBC did the unthinkable. They grew some balls and tackled the thorny issue of the muslim community in the UK following the apparent rise of extremism that lead to the bombings.
I watched it and near as I could tell, they bent over backwards to allow the boss of the Muslim Council of Britain the right of reply on a whole bunch of thorny issues. As the picture built up, it became clear that the MCB isn't in a position of leadership which has a chance of steering the muslim community to deal with extremism. Rather it sees itself as a body that has to right wrongs of the oppressed muslim etc.
Now the latter point is fair enough, and maybe they do need some body to act as a voice whenever the inevitable ugly face of racism appears. However, I think the show adequately called out that there is no actual logic applied to when it is appropriate to step up and beat the drum. Two cases rammed home the point to me; the first was the female student that demanded to be allowed to wear an ankle length dress on religious grounds. This is blatantly a cultural and not a religious issue, no one else has problems with the attire but the MCB turned it into a huge issue, apparently being a case of discrimination.
More recently, in the aftermath of the bombings, they were highly active in criticising the police concerning how they dealt with acts like searching homes and so on. You would have thought that would have been a good time to be helpful but apparently it needed some firmer encouragement to begin the process of getting leaders together to denounce the bombings and so on.
For whatever reason it is, the politically inclined arm of the muslim community (as opposed to the silent majority who view Islam as being a personal and spiritual relationship for them) is capable of some remarkable demonstrations of double standards as was very skillfully demonstrated in the in interview of John Ware (the interviewer and narator of the episode) and Dr Bari, deputy secretary general of MCB and so on.
When taken to task about various highly offensive views that some of the Islamic organisations have that are represented by the MCB (things like no Kaffar can be your friend, the West is generally corrupt etc etc you know the sort), he downplayed all of that saying that these are views and these organisations are entitled to them and the MCB cannot influence them.
And yet... the same chap lead the fight to ban Salman Rushdie's book the Satanic Verses and when quizzed directly, still believes that the book should be banned. So it's fine to ban a view so long as it's anti Islam (even in the case of that, it's a work of fiction) but of course if there's any anti secular, anti West, anti Christian etc view points then those are just 'views' which they are powerless to influence.
I found the combination of the obvious making politics out of Islam and this rampant double standards are being quite disturbing because the programme left the viewer with the real sense that in the first instance, muslim leaders were in denial of extremism and in the second instance, that there was no real chance of the MCB (or anyone like it) doing something collectively about it because it didn't serve their political agenda.
I was also touched by the comments from many of the other muslim representatives being interviewed - who offered insights which you were highly enlightening. Explaining the backdrop of the MCB and, perhaps most worryingly, the claim that there's generally one set of language for the public (promoting cross-faith tollerance) and quite another behind closed doors (promoting isolation from the Kaffars etc).
I came away from the show worried. It seems obvious that the MCB will do nothing to assist the issue but instead will continue their agenda of portraying muslims as victims at every turn. This view was reinforced by reading their statement today, responding to the Panorama show. Here's an extract from the Media Guardian story:

"It was dishonestly presented and mischievously edited to present a pre-conceived view. We are absolutely disgusted with the clearly Islamophobic agenda of this programme," the spokesman said.

It's hard to comment about how it may have been mischievously edited but I didn't get that sense at all. Whatever the programme was, it was certainly not Islamophobic. I guess it's hardly surprising to see the MCB attempt to equate any attack on it as an attack on Islam but it's clearly not going to wash with any thinking viewer.
Make your own mind up by reading the transcript for yourself.
The danger here is that if a representative body for muslims in the UK cannot (or more accurately will not) help to deal with extremism in the ways it needs to be dealt with, then it'll be left to legislation and police who will be galvanised by a generally unsympathetic public following the right-wing agendas of the tabloid press. That treatment might very well lend factual weight to the victim mentality that desperately needs to be dismantled to tackle extremism for real.

Wednesday 17 August 2005

The Living Hell That Is Other People's Code [Spiny]

Right now, just at this moment: I'm really, really glad I have a holiday coming up. I just had to add a method to someone else's class that was written to manage settings in an XML config file. This stuff is already built into the .NET framework of course. As you know dear reader being a highly intelligent superbeing. The method I was forced to add essentially duplicates ConfigurationSettings.GetConfig(). With slightly different behaviour of course.


Checklist [Am]

Right boys, it's time to check;
Testicles, spectacles, wallet and watch?PC?All leads?Monitor?GAMES?Clothes?A towel?Deoderant (no Newbury racecourse at my gaff)?Soft stuff to sleep on?Soft stuff, at least, to cover you up?Special medicines?Passport?MONEY?Camera?Directions?Phone numbers?Axe?Duct tape?Lube?
If yes, pass GO and collect £200 which is co-incidentally the entrace fee to what I am now calling "G2". You get a 4ft wide "station" in a super heated room, no prospect of a shower for a weekend and I get to sell you warm beer at £4 a pint.
It's gonna rock!

Sunday 14 August 2005

The best keyboard evah? [Brit]

The best keyboard evah?
This blog might possibly be properly categorised as "computing heresy", but the fact remains that after years of searching, I've finally found a keyboard that actually feels right, looks good, and is a joy to use.
Yes dear reader, the Apple Mac keyboard simply, utterly, rocks.
Believe me when I say, I've tried 'em all - from cabled, to wireless, from el-cheapo to keyboards that require a second mortgage - and none comes close to touching this puppy.
How much does such an object cost? (I hear you cry) - well, to you sir, £20 from PC World, so probably considerably less anywhere else.
I'm a confirmed PC user - I cannot stand the Mac platform as a rule, but when it comes to peripherals, Jobs et al just seem to get it. The keyboard ticks all the right boxes...
a) it looks the business.b) it has brilliant key transport, and good sized keys to boot.c) the slight curvature, the ergonomics if you will, make it extremely comfortable to use.d) it has two inbuilt USB ports, so I whack the mouse in one, and have another spare thats easy to get to (no fiddling round the back of my PC to plug things in).e) at £20 its stonking good value.f) it works with a PC instantly (including the built in vol +/- and mute keys above the numpad).g) if you want to use the extended keys (F13 and the special Apple key) then you can grab a free Apple keyboard -> Windows functions installer that handles existing and custom mapping.
I personally cannot ask for more than this from my keyboard, and so must simply blog about this revelation and recommend to all of you - if you want a new keyboard, and want a right good 'un, a Mac job is a five star winner.

Thursday 11 August 2005

E-tailer incompetence [Muz]

Hello readers. Having just completed some 'cleaning' (read: getting rid of assorted tat that serves no purpose whatsoever), we found ourselves in the position of having a fairly large wall free in a position that seemed to lend itself to the installation of some sort of large televisual device.
A bit of Googling followed, and after a conversation with resident clan blingmeister [EED]Kaveman, a Sharp Aquos LC37GA5E from EmpireDirect was ordered. As a bonus, the thing was on sale. The very helpful Empire sales monkey on the phone informed me that the logistics company would be in touch in the next 24 hours to arrange delivery.
48 hours later, with no contact from anyone, I call back Empire, and they give me the number of the logistics company to chase things up directly. After being bounced around several people and promised several callbacks, it transpires that though someone signed a manifest taking delivery of my TV from Empire, no one at the logistics company knows where it is. It's entirely possible that it's been nicked, that it's sitting in the logistics warehouse, or it never left Empire in the first place. "Sorry sir," say the logistics company, "we'll get Empire to release another order." A week later, with no-one having returned my calls, I finally get through to Empire Customer Support, who sheepishly inform me "Err, it appears we haven't reinvoiced this order yet. I can process that now for you, but I won't be able to arrange a delivery date for 24-48 hours." One cancelled order later, here I am, pouring my troubles out as a warning to all who follow.
I'm not impressed. Two weeks to dispatch a piece of kit that's currently in stock? I for one will not be using Empire again; and I'm sufficiently incensed that I'm contemplating exiting my current state of lethargy and actually writing a complaints letter. Is there a regulatory body governing phone and internet retail one can make a complaint to on the grounds of ineptitude?

Tuesday 9 August 2005

Evil Spyware [vagga]

I was having dinner at an aussie mates house the other night. He is off home to kangaroo land so it was a boozy farewell affair.
Anyway late in the night he was moaning about his PC being slow. He is the least tech literate person known to man. He bought a top of the range lappy from Dell about 8 or 9 months ago, with money from his old work. He rang them and said "I have 2 grand and I want a laptop" - lol. You can imagine the look of glee of the phone sales moneky's face. He was sold all manner of patethic usless software along with an insanly priced machine. Dell really are cunt0rs.
So given all he does on said machine is email and surf for porn he should not have paid more than 600 or 700 quid for a basic machine with a chunk of ram. Anyway, said machine should be dead quick!
But I started IE and he had no fewer than 5 of those annoying search bars. Yahoo, Google and 3 random ones - such as the CoolWebSearch crap. He said he liked having options when searching the web :)

I cleaned it all out for him (removed links to IE and Outlook Express and installed Firefox and Thunderbird!) and hey-presto it was not slow anymore. It was lightning quick. He had no fewer than 4 different viruses and AdAware found about 4 million things it had to delete! The internet is dangerous for muppets :)
But I was reading this today :
CoolWebSearch Bar installing spyware and nicking info and more worrying ident's
I bloody knew those search bars were evil!

Monday 8 August 2005

The march of technology [Lurks]

Like many of you, I'm a classic early adoptor. I'm guessing I'm not alone to be amazed at how things like the web became mainstream when back in the day, it was an intensely geeky thing that you'd have difficulty just explaining the point of it to someone on the street. There's plenty of developments like this as we get older and technology that was once geeky and cool becomes mainstream.
The one to hit me today is the news that Dixons are to dump 35mm cameras. Bloody hell! I remember when I bought my first digital camera, it was an Olympus 800L and it was hard core high spec in that it took 1024x768 pictures. The only other cameras on the market about that time were the shitty Casio ones really. This camera cost me over £700 (and that was a LOT for me back then), you had to get the pictures off via serial and it would only take about 20 or so shots before draining the batteries - the damn thing heated up like you wouldn't believe.
Now basically everyone has a digital camera and ergo some sort of PC to get the pictures off or some fancy direct-connect photo printer. Hell even if they don't, you can walk into a photo place and slap your memory card in a kiosk and print out directly from there. Amazing stuff really when you consider where it came from.
Are there any other examples of technology that you can remember being once cool and geeky and now mainstream?
And come on, iPods are too easy. :-)

Sunday 7 August 2005

AmLanII - the final countdown [Am]

It's teh fiiiiiiiiinaaaaaaaaaalll couuuuuuuuntdoooooownnnn!!! Da-da-da-DAR-darrrr-da-da-da-darr-darrrr-da-da-da-dar-DAR-da-da-da-da-da-dar-dar-darrr-da-da-da-darrrrrr-da-da-darrrrr-DARRRRR-DARRRRR.
Ok so two weeks to go. If you aint' got a pc, lappy or know where you're getting it from, you're probably fucked but squawk now just in case.
If you don't know how you're getting there (bar the directions to be recirculated to the ml soon) then you're probably fucked but squawk now just in case.
One quick request - last year as you know we had some trip outs of the fuse box basically due to badly grounded equipment. So requests this time is LURKS - and others - please bring any grounding testing stuff. And EVERYONE - if you have a long garden type extension reel type thing, please bring it so that we can run as many power supplies from different rings as possible to reduce the spikey bothersome thing.
All your souls are mine. BWUAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!!!

Thursday 4 August 2005

London syndrome [Lurks]

9:30PM last Friday, I was sat down with a group of my mates at a pub in Islington. We would have been sat down there when the number 43 bus went past, having just picked up a lady which we'll call Tara McCartney although that is not her real name.
Around about 10PM a gentlemen by the name of Richard Whelan got onto that number 43 double-decker bus in London and sat down upstairs with his girlfriend. A man on the bus was behaving like a prick, throwing chips at passengers and so slowly everyone had moved downstairs in the usual manner of Londoner's avoiding a crazy on public transport. So far nothing unusual for a Friday night in London.
Eventially there was just Richard Whelan and his girlfriend. The man threw chips and abused Whelan's partner and obviously Whelan defended her. In return he was stabbed multiple times and a manhunt is still ongoing since Richard Whelan sadly died in hospital as a result of the stabbing.
This is a terrible set of events of course and I followed this originally, increasingly glad that we're making plans to leave the city. Then I found an account in the Guardian Unlimited from Tara McCartney about what happened on that bus that drove past an oblivious EED gathering.
A brief explanation is needed of something which people who don't live in London may not understand. Everyone on the streets or public transport in London is a stranger. They don't talk to eachother, they don't look at eachother and - should there be any form of confrontation - the best you can expect is that they'll move away. Even if this is a packed tube train with one man assaulting a woman, it's not unusual to find absolutely no response at all, just a sea of faces all looking the other way.
On this Friday night in question Richard Whelan staggered down the stairs after his assailant had maliciously and casually sauntered off the bus. Surely when faced with an injured man such as this and no ongoing threat to safety, even Londoners would step up and render what assistance they could? Apparently not, from Tara McCartney's acount:

But as soon as he sat down he started to go a bit floppy. I kept looking round expecting other people to engage with him as well, but no one did. I was trying to call 999 on my phone, and I think he sat on one of the fold-down seats in the centre of the bus. He started to breathe a bit heavily. I wanted him to lie down because obviously he was wounded. Things started to happen quickly. I was calling 999 and trying to get him lying down at the same time. He was quite a big guy, not huge but an adult man, much bigger than me, and at that point I couldn't physically do both things at once, so I called out, "Can someone help me? Can someone help me?" Nothing happened. No one made eye contact. I couldn't quite believe it.

I can believe it. I've seen it before. Not with a stabbing or a medical emergency like this but it does confirm my worst fears concerning the human nature when confronted by that big-city anonmity that I'm calling London Syndrome. Not had enough?

I took off my jumper and put it over where I thought the wound was, then tried to get him down on the floor. I kept saying, "Someone help me!" But no one did.

Emergency services finally suggested that Tara McCartney pass the phone to the bus driver. Presumably someone working in an official capacity might recognise the severity of the situation and step up to deal with the drama. Yet when the police showed up the engine was still running so they told the driver to turn it off, to which he replied "No, no, I've got to get back to the depot."
No story exposing such a deficit of basic standards in human nature would be complete without your obligatory rubbernecker too.

At one point this other guy came over. I'm not sure, but I think he got on the bus to have a look. He was leaning over, looking, and he was wearing a jacket, a proper jacket. So I said: "Can you give me your jacket so I can put it over him?" He just said "No". That was it.

To my mind this makes a mockery of the sentiment behind the seemingly spontaneous "Londoner's Are Not Afraid" movement. It's all very well to exclaim that you are not afraid from the comfort of the computer in your own home. Yet on the evidence of last Friday night and everything I have seen in this city prior to that, the victim of a terrorist bombing, lying bleeding in a gutter could expect little assistance from the citizens of this city.
We're all up for rendering aidwith no risk to ourselves or without engagement. Probably some of those uncaring scumbags on that bus even given to charity to help ease suffering elsewhere. Suffering elsewhere, at a distance. Where it wont get blood on my jacket.
Any pride I had in this city through the successful Olympic Games hosting bid has been well and truly blown to smithereens. Not by some terrorist bomb though, blown up by the realisation that London is nothing but a massive collection of self-serving cowardly human beings. A densly packed society where it has somehow become acceptable that personal inconvienience has overridden the basic human fucking RIGHT to expect assistance when it is most required.
I could have ended this blog by saying something recalcitrant like "Fuck you London, I'm out of here" but I think there is a bigger picture. There's something dark that lurks in human nature, the thing that lends us the description of 'scumbags' as I did earlier, burried within our genome that we would do well to expose. I don't think it's just London, although these events have earned London the dubious honor of having me name this syndrome after the example quoted here.
I think it's anonmity. Big cities have it by the bucketful, you're not going to see friendly familiar faces drifting by on the street. Just one after another random face. In such circumstances, most people (and I think surely there are endless exceptions but I'm sticking to my guns and calling it the majority) will invest none of their attention to the standard social cues which they would render to their friends and loved ones. Assistance when needed and basic good behavior.
I probably need to illustrate this idea with two further examples beyond the knife attack of last Friday so I'll take one from London and I'll take another from a source that ever reader of this web site and blog will be deeply familiar with.
In London, forget the notion of assistance in need, you will see the most horrenous personal behavior of people on the London Underground. Shoving in when people have yet to get off, refusing to yeild seats for the elderly or even the heavily and obviously pregant and countless other examples of bad behavior brought about by anonmity. Might sound minor until you see it. You see what look like perfectly normal human beings behaving like absolute cocks. Why?
The other example is online gaming. Why is it, do you suppose, that we prefer to play with our friends? Why is it that everyone on a public gaming server is an absolute arsehole. The reason is, of course, that every player is anonymous, hidden behind some nick name and generic rendering of computer graphics. This example not only proves that we'll behave like animals for the most minor benefit such as that mildly more comfortable seat or standing position on the London Underground, but that we'll actually behave like animals for no fucking reason at all. All providing for anonmity. It's the same reason why you can have amazing rows from nowhere via email. It seems our brains get confused by the lack of a real person and all the social queues and, at least, our behavioral mechanisms also seem to get screwed up when those queues exist but we've grown used to being surrounded by strangers.
I think our psyche is geared to dealing with the social challenges of living in a society no larger than a village. It might sound like I'm putting forth an agenda given that we're moving out of the big city but actually we decided to move for these sorts of reasons without really knowing what they were. It took last Friday to make me realise how imperetive it is. Not just for our own safety but for a better quality of life. I want to essentially excise the anonymous people from our lives so that there's a mutual investment, if not friends then at least people that will treat me as a human being.
Maybe what it's down to is that the only time in our evolutionary history that an individual would be surrounded by anonymous faces would be if they were migrating somewhere. Perhaps evolution rewards someone who moves swiftly on, gets through and beyond back to the safety of their friends and loved ones?
This analysis aside, which I admit is some desperate attempt to try make sense out of this human disaster on our doorsteps, we ought to remember that a man was murderedlast Friday.
Maybe there's a slight outside chance someone knows anything about the attacker:

Mr Whelan's attacker is described as black, in his 20s, just under 6ft tall with afro hair and wore a dark jacket and a hooded top with the hood up.

Number 43 bus from Islington running North around 10PM last Friday... if so, you'll be wanting to call the police.

Monday 25 July 2005

A speedcam that works! [Shedir]

The notorious A77 road in Scotland got a new innovation recently. Aggregate speed cameras, idea being there's 12 cameras and it takes the average of your speed through all 12.
If you're average is over the max for that stretch, bang a ticket.
I've driven that road a fair few times, but when we went last week what a pleasure. I coasted about 5/10mph below the limit and enjoyed the drive.
All the folks around me were a bit quicker, but there's usually speed demons aplenty on the road. I only mind seeing 3 and they were in big fuckoff motors. So it's only to be expected for folk like that to speed.
I really quite prefer the idea of the cameras noting how quick you are between each of them, making it harder to break the limit both at the point where the camera is and between them.
So, what to you think of this sort of idea? Another example of Scotland leading the way, or a total dead duck?

Wednesday 20 July 2005

The north/south divide? [Spiny]

As far as I'm concerned, only girls have baps :)

Saturday 16 July 2005

Hymn [Spiny]

I just tried out some free music from iTunes via the Saturday Times & came accross a rather nify app.

If you're an iTunes user then you'll know that you're weeing in the wind if you want to convert a protected iTunes file to mp3 for say listening in the car or whacking into your dvd player. iTunes just won't play ball as it assumes you're a durty pie rat.

Up to the hockey steps Hymn. Easy to use & does the job, but you may want to uncheck "Delete original locked files" to keep hold of your original iTunes downloads.

Friday 15 July 2005

We are not afraid [Am]

Quite a lot of the clan live in London or there abouts so you might think it strange that no-one blogged, as yet, on the aftermath of the bombs. I think that it's obviously a personal thing on which I certainly don't represent the clan in this post, but I do have a few things I'd like to say....
There have been some magnificent responses to what happened from, of course, the emergency services on the day through to the public show of support in the two minute silence today. As well as the respect for the people who perished and were hurt I sense there is also a very strong determination in a huge number of right thinking people in the country that the UK's united country, united people ideals will not be thwarted by twisted extremism.
A website has been set up and received bbc coverage for simple images uploaded from across the world expressing solidarity and support for London.
In looking through the pages there I had three main thoughts
i) I'm really very pleasantly surprised just how much support has been posted up by european people for London in the wake of the bombings. It's very nice to see a huge outpouring of support from germany, holland and france to name but three. Thanks.
ii) There's a huge amount of people in this world who like to post a picture of a fluffy cat or small dog with "Not Afraid" next to it. I actually don't mind this. But it sure as hell reminds me about how many, probably very nice, people in the world there are who can't face reality what-so-friggin-ever. Bless you.
iii) There's a number of really nicely meant thoughts put the way of London but which obviously come from people who are actually a hell of a lot more scared than Londoners themselves were in response to last thursday;
Here it was pretty different....
When people post "we're not afraid" it's simply a nice piece of sloganeering. It's support and that's cool. But you know, here where it happened, there was a core of steel that has made me proud of being a part of London and which is so palpably real its not just some bullshit piece of counter-propaganda. It really has stunned me just how public and strong this feeling is. In this city in the last few days, and in fact on the day itself, London's legendary stiff upper lip re-asserted itself in a new but very profoundly strong way.
In the days that followed the bombings, you might have expected a city and a nation to get fearful and worried about what happened.
Did it? Did it fuck.....
What has followed is everything that is great about Britain and its spirit. In a hundred thousand instances, the response has been to put back a public face that says a mountain-sized "FUCK YOU" to the people who would seek to disrupt our lives.
I would not want anyone to think that "London handled it better" because of course observations on responses to terror are not a relative exercise compared to others. The facts, drivers and circumstances are utterly different.
But the London bombings caused a response from the british nation which millions of people are expressing from the fibre and the bones of the country and I'd say the message repeatedly from literally those millions of voices has been this;
*Not remotely fuckin scared of you
*No fuckin chance we'll change because of you
*You cannot possibly hope to defeat our spirit
It might be a bit hard for outsiders to understand that there truly is no sloganeering or ra-ra-britain content in this blog. To those opposed to our values, if you remotely fail to understand the above three bullet points or doubt them then I say to you, you really have no clue about Londoners and the British people.
London is proud to be multi-cultural, multi-racial. You can do what you like but you've never picked on a less receptive, prouder, stronger city than London. So to the cowards that would try to change us understand one thing very plainly
- Here, truly, the more you try, the less effective you'll be....

Wednesday 13 July 2005

Don't Throw Away That Expensive AGP Card Just Yet [Spiny]

This mainboard gets the big thumbs up from one of Anand's chums.

It suppports PCIe and AGP 8x rather well.

More here./me adds to wish list along with a 939 Athlon...

Sanity [Spiny]

With a big sigh of relief I picked up that the Euro parliament voted against software patents. While this will have coporate lawyers* gnashing & thrashing as they see fees disappear down the drain it's good news for everyone except huge corporate monsters.

Don't think it affects you? Well, have a read of this article by the sandlemeister himself, then check today's news.

Doubleplus good comrade!

* Amnesia's a good egg of course despite the usual state of gnashing & thrashing :)