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Saturday 27 May 2006

BSL, or life in an old dog [Shedir]

Had an encient laptop kicking about, compaq armada 1560D. Basically about a 133 processor with 13MB of RAM.
A shitebox and no mistake.
I was going to bin it but heard of puppyos, this required 64mb ram though, so farcially was too heavy for this PC.
BSL though, this thing runs on 8mb ram minimum! I couldn't get the lappy to boot from CD but a boot floppy some fdisking and you're away. A couple of attempts and it's up and running.
Bit of googling and gave it a 1gb swapfile as well. Bugger me if it's no usable for basics. Bit of IRC, using Dillo for lightweight web browsing.
A throwaway bit of kit given a use, ecowarrior to the max! Or I'm just too skint/tight to buy a proper lappy, we all know the truth here :)
Anyways, I'm going to build a better desk area in my pc cupboard and have this beside the main pc. So for the occasions I'm in wow or a game I can do basic browsing and talk shite with puns in the crosshatch.

Friday 26 May 2006

Gameshadow [Lurks]

Through my work I've had some dealings with this outfit called Gameshadow. They make something pretty damn cool for gamers but which is criminally undermarketed. Gameshadow basically just scans your hard drive for games installed like the game launcher apps kinda do except what they do is advise on new patches, mods, add-ons and other relevant things like drivers too. Check it out.
It's actually a small well behaved application that works surprisingly well and it's just the ticket to get your games up to scratch before the upcoming summer LAN action. Also today it has gone 'free' which means you can basically download as many patches, demos, mods etc as you like up to about a 1GB limit per month. The great thing is these downloads come from them directly so they're often a better place to get them than the nasty game publisher web sites.
Pretty cool stuff, no wonder they're adding about 30,000 users a month.

Wednesday 10 May 2006

It's a small world... [Mistral]

Coincidence – It’s a small world
Life’s strange.
Having a chat with the project manager I’ve been working with for the past year and sits next to me at work. Conversation turns to how small our first homes were.
My first house was in Grange Park - So was mine
In Asham Road – So was mine
In one of those little courtyards on the left – so was mine
Second one from the end – Mine too
Can’t remember number but it had flats at the end of the garden – yep!
Might have been the same house – perhaps?
Might have to ask our better half’s what the house number was.
10 Minutes later...was the neighbour Paul the Postman……err Yep!
He does a little maths – at the same time I figure out 7 years this house, 7 years last = 14 years ago.
Now Swindon is not a small place. It’s swamped with rabbit hutch 2 bed starter homes. He was working for an Oil company in London at the time. I was at Zurich so no work connection and hence no specific locality connection.
What is the chance of selling a house to someone and then 14 years later working on the same 2 man team with them!!!!
Previous strange coincidences…
Working with a new IBM global services manger from Birmingham a few years back. At end of first day we both say we need to leave early - we have commitments that evening.
That afternoon/evening my Californian friend, over in the UK for a few days, visits with her new boyfriend she’s living with. We have a meal and they have to dash ‘up north’ to stay the night at her boyfriends friends house.
Next morning I meet the IBM chappie again. “I think we have friends in common…”
Same Friend in California. We go to stay out there with her. Also staying with her is close friend of hers – ex Brit programmer now dolphin trainer. One year later my wife’s work friend who lives in Reading gets a lift from her close friend over to our house to all go out to a work do…
It’s really strange realising that our friend in California has the same best buddy as my wife’s friend in Reading!!!!
Anyone else have these strange moments?

Tuesday 9 May 2006

Broken Ipods.. [Vagga]

Nothing to do, so this is a quite pointless blog! We've had a number of ipoddy blogs down the years, so why not kill time and keep an old subject alive at same time!
Until very recently I have had a 2nd Gen 40 gig ipod. Ive had it for bloody ages. Never had a single problem with it, battery was still ace.
I got it from someone who got it as a present a bunch of Christmases ago [when I did Christmas with my brothers and sisters over there], and this bloke did not want it. So I bought it for fuck all in the first place. Stupid Americans FTW!
I'm not quite sure what happened, but it started causing serious problems about 2 months ago. When I connected it to my PC, the computer would blue screen near instantly.
When I rebooted PC the PC would start a scandisk on the ipod, and would never complete, as the PC would bluescreen before it got to the end. I can only assume the HD is buggered.
So I enquired in 3 places about replacing the ipod hard drive [apple store, and 2 apple approved fix it people]. All 3 places gave the same ball park price, just short of £200. Two hundred fucking quid to pop open the ipod, and replace the standard laptop HD, a HD costing them between 10 and 100 quid! And i betcha its the low end of that too.
So I said fuck it, and I got a new 30 gig 5th Gen ipod, with colour screen and shit. Cost me 250 [200 + 50 for the extended 2 year warranty]. Its a 'well done' to myself for eventually following thru and leaving SI!
But the fucking things dont support firewire anymore. Cunt0rs. Whats that about?
But Im thinking, online ipod fixing, there must be some kind of tool to open then ipod, after that its a peice of piss. Charge £150 quid, and your still making a killing :D

Tuesday 2 May 2006

The Case of the Stolen Laptop [Beej]

Okay. A week ago at time of writing, my sister's laptop was stolen from her student flat in a leafy road in Leeds. She was really cut up because she'd not made any backups at all (sigh) and because she had no house insurance and of course, her privacy had been invaded.
Tonight, I noticed my sister login to Skype. Amber alert because she's at work in the pub and I didn't expect her to be online. I fire up a dos prompt to see what tcp/ip connections are open:
C:>netstat -a -b -v -o  TCP    ferrari:2475   ESTABLISHED     384  C:\WINDOWS\system32\mswsock.dll  C:\WINDOWS\system32\WS2_32.dll  C:\Program Files\Skype\Phone\Skype.exe  -- unknown component(s) --  [Skype.exe]

With only one person online in my Skype userlist -my sister's client - I have presumed that this is the connection to my sister's client connection in Skype.
Things aren't initially that hopeful: it's a BT Broadband IP, it's national with hundreds of thousands of subscribers, and it will be a real mare to get anywhere through BT Abuse. I call them anyway, and during a 20min phone call find out the procedure. Then, in between eating a Tikka Masala for dinner, the only Skype connection on my laptop changes to this:
  TCP    ferrari:3037   ESTABLISHED     384  C:\WINDOWS\system32\mswsock.dll  C:\WINDOWS\system32\WS2_32.dll  C:\Program Files\Skype\Phone\Skype.exe  -- unknown component(s) --  [Skype.exe]

Now, this seems too much like coincidence. A P2P connection in Skype, that also also goes to Leeds where my sister lives? Now for the detective work: it's obviously, and a quick search for "leodis" brings up the Leodis accomodation in Leeds at LS6 2QF.
LS6 2QF fed to Google Earth gives a pretty picture of Leeds which as the crow flies is within half a mile of my sister's flat. Whoah.
Now the IP gives more than enough to go on, and tomorrow my sis will be visiting Leeds ISS to talk about the geography of the IP address. Further to that, she's got the phone number for the Police Constable who came to her flat after the robbery a week ago.
But - and here's my but - Skype is a P2P product, and therefore in theory, ports open on my laptop could as I understand it be from any other Skype client. Being P2P, I'm just a conduit on the network.
Additionally, what if this student accomodation is wireless? If it is the laptop, it could be within a hundred metres or so, which makes things a little less cut and dried. It might explain the two IP addresses however? The laptop is bouncing between two access points?
Could it be that the IP a red herring? Wouldn't you expect a stolen laptop to get wiped anyway? The location seems more than coincidence. I've phoned my sister at work and she loves the idea that it might turn up; tomorrow she's going into the Uni to find out what they say about the IP address.

So you think you're finished huh? [Am]

So last week I found myself taking an exam. Derivatives and Commodities. Can't be bothered to explain it and sure as hell you would be even less interested. But let this be a salutory life pointer for the young (apparently some of them read this site); as I completed this latest travail I realised it was precisely the 20th, yes twentieth, exam I had taken post-graduately and professionally since I exhaled on the last day of my university finals "thank fuck I never have to take any exams again". Oh and you know how the really irritating fucks go on about how much harder it is to do stuff when you're older and have a full-time job which occupies you 14 hours a day including travel? Unfortunately right.
So there's a happy thought if you're an undergrad or A Level student. If you hand your chips over here, I'll piss on 'em too. There is no charge.
His Beerness

Monday 1 May 2006

GRAW [Lurks]

There is no love lost for Ubisoft among this clan considering how many times our favourite French games publisher has stiffed us in the past. At one point we were working on an web site but Beej got lazy and it never happened. The latest game of course is Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter which is out in a few days. Course now we love this sort of game so much we'll all be instantly off down the shop to pick up a copy right? Well, we would if it didn't insist that you uninstall your virtual drive software. So in that way we're better off with the warez version which doesn't deign to tell you what software you can have installed on your PC.
More puzzling still, the game only allows selection of a 1280x1024 resolution display. It's one small concession that at least it understands aspect ratios and will adjust so you're not either in stretch-o-vision or border-o-vision modes. I'm baffled though. This is supposed to be, and actually is, a cutting edge graphics engine. It looks superb and then they want to cripple it by making my monitor upsample and blurr everything out? And why? It's just another stupid arbitrary limitation that serves no purpose whatsoever. This sort of thing really pisses me off about PC gaming.
And we're not even done yet. This game is the first proper game to support the new Aegea physics cards. These being a deeply pointless excersize in building hardware to try get gamers to pay for, hardware they really don't need. Now it's fine that the game supports this right, whoopy for you if you want to blow 150 quid on something with no real benefit whatsoever - I mean... it's not like you can use the freed horsepower to up the goddamn resolution. No, what pisses me off is that in order to implement the physics of the game, you need to have the Aegea software drivers installed. They've basically used the Aegea physics API and after you install these drivers, this hilarious bit of software installs a system tray app because clearly you care very deeply what a physics API is doing on your PC. A physics API which is deeply pointless and actually going to be hardware accelerated on, oh, call it 50 people worldwide maybe.
I guess I have to justify the moaning in some sense, since it's completely obvious that this is an amazing looking game. It could well be the cooperative and multiplayer panacea that will draw us back to the genre of multiplayer gaming that we love so well. It just frustrates me, more than anything else, to see Ubisoft and Grin just go and do these seriously annoying things for no good reason.
Where do these fuckers get their advice from? Dudes, honestly, anyone that is going to even consider dropping £150 on a fucking physics card, has probably got a monitor bigger than 17 fucking inches. I don't want your goddamn Aegea system tray shite and I most certainly do not want to be told what software I can install on my PC. Gah, wankers!