Monday, February 28, 2005

Eurovision 2005 Making Your Mind Up

The 50th Eurovision Song Contest will be held this year in some European country, I don't really care which and I am sure you don't give a fuck either, but I am actually finding myself looking forward to this year's Eurovision because there where a few entries last year that where actually quite good. Specifically "Dragostea Din Tei" by O'ZONE, but the whole album last year was rather enjoyable, and I never thought I would be saying that about a Eurovision album.

Anyway Saturday BBC1 at 5:45pm is the live show appropriately titled "Eurovision Making Your Mind Up" which is the live poll to pick this year's UK entry. Not that it will make any difference to the voting, but last year wasn't as crap as before, so I kind of feel like following this year's with some optimism for once.

STD Dating Service

Got a sexually transmitted disease?
Want to date someone who doesn't mind!?
Look no further than DTS Dating.

Since condoms are widely available, I don't see why people should still put their health at risk through unprotected sex.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Quiet Night In

Just a quiet night in with the TV showing the top 100 Greatest Cartoons. I am actually enjoying the four hour show and my only fear is that The Simpsons will be number one.
Just has Inspector Gadget at 46 and Pokémon at 45, this is actually kind of fun and I never say that about TV.

Edit: Bloody Simpsons was number one. Invader Zim was nowhere to be seen, but Akira was in the top 50 and South Park was number 2, so that was a nice surprise.

XDrive Technical Support

They aren't very helpful because they have basically said that it is because their program isn't compatible with my hardware.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Spot The Odd One Out

I love google's image search, but This is silly. Can you spot the odd one out?

Backup Solution

Disaster recovery is one of the most important things with system security because without it, your protection is like an eggshell. It is one-thing to prevent a disaster by having a powerful anti-virus, firewall and even drive maintenance tools, but if something happens and all your data is lost then all that expensive security isn't going to get your files back, but if you have a disaster recovery solution like a ZIP dive or backup tapes, or CDs you have made of all your important files, then it usually doesn't take long for you to quickly get back to where you want to be.

XP once deleted an entire hard drive of all my important stuff. I even have a nice picture I took with my digital camera at the time, with XP deleting everything. I think what happened is that both file tables on the NTFS drive where damaged, and XP just removed what it seen as damaged data. Unfortunately I wasn't skilled in the ways of data retrieval at the time and I was panicking, so I did end-up loosing everything. And since then it has bothered my that I haven't had somekind of dedicated backup system.

I haven't had one because they are all too expensive and I couldn't be bothered burning all my data to CD every week. I have said it before and i will say it again, burning a CD is an EVENT and not a very convenient way to store data. I generally use USB flash drives and Floppy disks for important stuff, but I am always using my flash drives and floppy disks don't store much data so I basically haven't had any recent backups of anything for quite a while.

Today however I signed upto XDrive an online backup solution. They run a secure internet based file storage system. It's the cheapest one I can find and although I have tried and rejected it before I really do need someway of backing up my files. They give you 5GB for £5 a month and really considering how disastrous a hard drive failure would be at the moment, this is a bargain.

I have been trying to get their client interface to work all day and all I can muster is this (see below) error.

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A lot of people tell me that I never seem to have any problems with my computer and that is partly true, but that is only because when I get an error (like this) I get it fixed. So an email has been sent with this screencapture, logfile and details about my system and what I did, to their customer service team. If this isn't fixed by the end of the week. I will give iDrive a go, but whatever happens I have to get somekind of convenient backup solution. Otherwise next time it happens I will be more devastated than last time.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Product Brand Recognition Afterthought

White headphone leads are associated with an iPod. Two in three muggers prefer them.

Snow Day

With news yesterday that today was going to be a blizzard of snow for 24 hours, all the staff where looking forward to closing the school for the day, but it just didn't happen because all the roads where clear, even though it practically snowed constantly. ARG!

Some of the teachers, including me where more than a little disappointed.

And contrary to me thinking this placement was just going to be changing ink cartridges and refilling printers for twelve weeks, things just got a bit more interesting today with I started yet another project for the school.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Why Windows Automatic Update Doesn't Interrupt Important Transfers

One of the excuses some people use as to why they don't use Window's automatic update service, is that it will eat all their bandwidth when they are playing multiplayer or doing something else like watching streaming media and just be annoying, but Windows Update uses Microsoft's BITS (Background Intelligent Transfer Service) program. So it only uses the bandwidth that isn't being used.

So when somebody (usually Microsoft people) says there is no reason why anybody should not have auto update on, they really do mean it.

Product Brand Recognition

I was thinking last night a little bit about product recognition, in regards to costomers recognising what company maked the product and I noticed something fairly obvious.

Almost all products are recognised by their brand, so you know that a pair of trainers is a pair of Nike trainers by the Niki tick down the side. We all recognise Sony products by the Sony logo stamped on the side, and Microsoft products by the Microsoft logo and that is a fact with almost every product in existence, but there is a product that excises that doesn't have a visible logo, and one that is recognised simply by it's design, and that is Dr Martens boots and shoeware. I have always worn them since I first wore a school uniform, simply because i didn't like any of the other styles, but when I walk in a room (for example) anybody looking at my boots will realise that they are Martens, yet there is no external logo anywhere on them. To me that is a very impressive thing, the kind of thing that probably every company in the world would pay millions to have, but they can't have it because their varying products won't allow for them to have such distinguishing design features that make a product like my boots recognisable.

I keep trying to think how a company could engineer something like that, but I honestly can't think of a way. I mean the PlayBoy bunnies are internationally recognised too, but I am not sure if it is something that could be engineered on purpose and then benefit the brand.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Enjoying Retirement

All this extra freetime is kind of cool. I don't feel stressed about having to constantly balance my workload around gaming anymore. I didn't realise just how much time I spent actually playing games until now.

I came home at 3:30, wrote an email to my tutor, listened to some music, sorted through some files, checked all my news sites (minus gaming sites) and Neighbours isn't even on telly yet.

It's quite refreshing to take a step back and look at how I live my life. I have always used gaming as a means to get away from it, but there is a lot of good going on.

Today I showed one of the teachers (at my placement) my Mouse Skills program (designed to test the kids mouse skills) and he was very positive about what i had done, so I am going ahead and doing more work on it. And my Health and Safety records database I am doing for the head is coming along nicely too, although I went a little over the top on the planning so it is probably a little more complicated and sophisticated than it needs to be.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Random Screencapture

This capture from Genshiken cracks me up everytime I look at it.

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New Speakers

After just over a year of perfect operation, my Creative speakers died yesterday. So now I am looking for a new 2.1 set, but its not easy. Most of the reviews are very vague or I don't understand the speaker specifications. The customer reviews are few and waver dramatically from loving them after two hours of use, to hating them because of some odd reason about mid-range sound or something. I am a little hesitant to get another Creative set because I consider a one year operating lifetime to be a little short, but at the moment they are my best option.

I am going into Leicester friday for coffee with a friend, so I will probably browse the shops then. The thing that irritates me more than anything about all this is that the manufacturer descriptions for the top of the range models and the cheap nasty ones, all read the same, from stylish design to their descriptions of the sound quality. I just want a pair of great sounding speakers that I like, just like my old set before they died.

It's A Phase

I have decided to avoid playing any form of video game for the next couple of weeks because they all depress me. I haven't had a rewarding gaming experience in ages and I need a break otherwise I am going to become suicidal with all the crap that I have been playing.

Status: Temporarily retired gamer until further notice.

Random Fact

The internet connection at my placement has a downstream bandwidth capacity of 240KB/S.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Holiday Pictures To Be Proud Of

I think that is going to be my objective whenever I go on holiday now, after looking at There.

I haven't been on holiday for years, but next time I go, I will be sure to get some interesting pics.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Star Wars Knights Of The Old Republic 2 Continued

Bitch bitch bitch
I will complete it, but this is horrible. And I am sick of hearing those stupid Jedi babble on for hours about their stupid ways.
"The path is clouded, darkness looms ahead"
"No, that leads to the dark side, the side that is very.. dark!"

Friday, February 18, 2005

Product Recall: XBox Power Cables

UK residents should go Here and fillout the details of their XBox to see if their cable needs replacing or not.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Microsoft Helps Parents With !337$p34k

This Guide for parents is quite informative.

Supposed XBox360 Details

Kotaku supposedly has some credible information about the XBox360.

Changeable covers would be excellent. The wireless pads are probably done via Bluetooth, so hopefully there will be built in Bluetooth system-link too. I don't know why Microsoft would still be having problems with backwards compatibility, but the XBox360 will suffer if it doesn't have it. Positively however Microsoft could offer such functionality as a free download over Live, thus leveraging more people to signup.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Changing Trends: Awareness Bracelets

The BBC has a Guide On These, but the trend is taking off in a big way. The basic idea is that instead of a pin-badge to show your support for something like a poppy-badge on remembrance day, you get a coloured bracelet.

Oodles Of Google Logos

This website has oodles of Google logos.

Star Wars Knights Of The Old Republic 2

I have started playing kotor2 and the game's start is much better than any part of the first game. So it started out on a high, but that is all. Talking to Jedi pisses me off because you can't persuade them to do anything and their stupid speeches take hours, and that is annoying if you want to exit the game and do something else (Me - PC - Gamer, - Koorb - Saves - When - Koorb - Wants), but I get stuck in speech loops!

I have noticed a lot of glaringly obvious bugs in the game, like infinite darkside points when you talk to the Handmaiden who asks you about feeling the force. And other things like doors you shouldn't be able to open, but you can by hitting them, or patthing points that you become slightly stuck on. I am only 20% through the game and it is already getting on my nerves and completely ruining anykind of immersive feeling I could possibly have form this game.
I think the statement "Lucas Arts used to make great games" serves my point.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Matrix Online's NDA Has Been Lifted

Without the NDA I can now tell you how crap it is. And it is crap, I find it hard to believe that anybody would enjoy it even if they did fix all the bugs and made it run crystal smooth, which it most certainly isn't (and I had it set for maximum framerate). When a trial arrives have a go by all means, but please don't wast your money on this without seriously considering the longterm play experience that this doesn't offer.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Nintendo Shows Signs Of Getting It's Finger Out

Yep the normally slow and forward thinking yet seemingly little doing Nintendo, has given up its position on keeping gaming platforms separate from everything else by Purchasing Some PDA Software for the DS.

I was disappointed that the DS wasn't launched with a calender, calculator, reminders, notes or address book function built in, but then I kind of expected that from Nintendo because they have always said that gaming platforms should be used for nothing else. So I was quite prepared to wait for a third party to do this, but now Nintendo has done it all by themselves!

The touchscreen is the most obvious advantage the DS has over the PSP so this is a great move, but you are still going to have to wait until E3 before it is even shown officialy to the public. Personally I would release the damed thing as fast as possible because the longer they wait the more sales they will loose to the PSP and anyway we will be entering into a media deadzone in the runup to E3 soon, so that would be a good time to give people something to talk about. These functions aren't big, but for a lot of people having something with them that they can take notes on or set reminders is very important, plus it can encourage existing DS users to take their console out and about more.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Just Let Star Trek Die, PLEASE!

In Star Trek's history it has been cancelled a few times, but always the fans have fought bravely and the studios have chosen to continue production. And after last week's Announcement the fans once again went into action.

One of the things EnterpriseFans is doing, is taking out an AD in the LA Times (PDF). And I encourage all these fans to just let it drop for once. Star Trek has had a full life and tarnished the image of Sci-Fi enough for once. Sci-fi has always been one of my lasting loves, but whenever I say that it sounds tacky because most people immediately think of dorks cosplaying as aliens with pointy ears or even dorks running round with Lightsabers, but sci-fi has a long rich history that isn't appreciated. Maybe that because of years of shaky sets and tacky clothing, but in the future I am sure people will look on it differently. At the mo it is still almost shameful to love sci-fi and I blame Star Trek and its legions of dorky followers.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Futurama Completed

I am talking about the TV series and it is a very mixed bag.
To watch this I got a copy of all the episodes and just watched them in order one after another.

Series 1
Just a general good standard, but its hard to be critical with a shows first series.

Series 2
Some episodes better than others. Some mundane storylines like the episode where Bender becomes a wrestler, but still an ok series.

Series 3
The longest series and it is all utter crap, I almost stopped watching at episode three, but I kept on watching until episode nine where I also seriously considered using my time more constructively. Luckily I kept on watching past all this rubbish.
I don't quite know why I found series three so crap, but I think it has something to do with the introduction of too many new characters each episode just to provide plot points.

Series 4
Good series with more information about the characters pasts, giving depth and greater understanding to the audience about the characters. Even Bender possibly the shallowest of all the characters is given more depth when he floats off into the abyss of space and becomes god to a very small alien civilisation.

Series 5
Exceptional, every episode was great and it even ends with an opera.

Futurama is now cancelled, and I think that is a good thing because a lot of the episodes weren't poetically good and the best series they did was created knowing that there wasn't ever going to be another series. So maybe the TV executives deserve more credit for their decision.

XBox 2 On My Christmas List

Just been thinking about this and whenever I had a console for Christmas as a kid, the system would have already been out a year because in Europe consoles are always released in the new year.

Now there is no way Nintendo's new rig or the PlayStation3 will be out before Christmas in Europe, so if the XBox2 is, then Microsoft will have a huge marketing advantage, as it will be the only next gen console available for purchase in time for Christmas and the only next gen console the anybody can have on their Christmas lists.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Thursday, February 10, 2005

MacWorld 1984

This cracked me up, but what you have to remember is that people at the time where used to black and white screens with only a command line interface. There was some mouse stuff, but it was very simple. So what you see here in this video is a milestone in computing history.

Full Body Floss

This Video.

One More Reason Why Not To Use Symantec Products

There is a security vulnerability in all Symantec products from Norton Antivirus to their Firewall on all supported operating systems (Windows, Linux and OS-X etc) that allows an attacker to execute code, Apparently.

So if your system was secure before, then installing a Symantec product will effectively introduce an exploitable (open to the public) backdoor.

Symantec are denying that there it is a vulnerability because nobody has exploited it yet, but that just proves what kind of professional attitude they have.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Halo 2 Surprise

You might remember This post from last year about a special message at the end of the credits for Halo2 that read "Coming February 9th."

Well its February 9th today and Bungie's gift to the world is "it was a hoax."
Ha ha ha ha that is so funny. You had me going on that one guys, remind me to never take you seriously ever again.

XBox2 Will Suffer Without HD-DVD

I was looking through a few of the sites owned by IGN Entertainment and I noticed that Team XBox has a poll asking wither the XBox2 will suffer without a HD-DVD drive. I voted no, but then I was shocked to find 66% said it would (see picture).

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Now the statement about hardware power is a little untrue because wither the XBox2 supports HD-DVD or not won't effect its graphical capabilities directly, its available processing power or its online support. The XBox has never had a multi-disc game and already supports upto 9GB, so I don't see a need, but there is the argument however that the more available storage space available the better games will be because developers don't have to put the size of the game as a high priority. Maybe Microsoft has removed the CD-drive completely so it can do digital distribution or maybe they have gotten a better solution, but then we will just have to wait and see.

3D Gamers Merge With IGN Entertainment

Despite some sites preaching doom and gloom about the merger (they will remain linkless because I don't link to crap). IGN Entertainment and 3D Gamers Say they are going to keep the download systems of FilePlanet and 3D Gamers separate.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

RIAA Sues Dead Woman

RIAA was sent her death certificate by her daughter when she received the threat letter, but they still filled This.

Google Maps

I am very impressed with This. It's not only easier to use than other mapping sites its also quicker, and makes it so easy to manipulate the map. Just a shame there isn't one of the UK yet.

D.I.C.E. Post Edited

Click Here or just scroll down.

Much Improved Darwinia Demo

I like the intro bit and it actually tells you how to make units and how to compleat the level. I am not sure if there is any game win screen yet, but its late and I need sleep. You can download the new demo from Here.

Monday, February 07, 2005

D.I.C.E. Talks

D.I.C.E. is now over and GameSpy has a summery of two of this year's speakers.

Tim Schafer (Grim Fandango, Full Throttle)
Talked about how developers need to take more risks instead of leeching off of franchises and only sticking with safe games. And I think he has a very valid point, but he needs to tell this to the publishers, not the developers.

Stan Lee (The Comic Industry)
Talks about creating great new characters that players will love. He doesn't say a lot, but the fact he was there to emphasise characters is good because we haven't had any new strong new franchises for years.

Edit: Additional

Mark Ecko (Fashion Designer)
GameSpy have made a right mess of their coverage of D.I.C.E. so I missed this one earlier. Anyway he says that games need to be targeted towards an audience. And that developers should stop talking about code. I think he is a nutter, but the article reads positively about his talk.

STEAM Breaches Consumer Rights

I was expecting something like this sooner or later, but I wasn't expecting Multiple Infringements.

I am still pissed off with the fact I can't loan games and that if I get banned for attempting to hack a HL2 file all my games are blocked irrespective of wither they are HL2 or not, but Valve hasn't handled STEAM intelligently that's for sure.

War Of The Worlds TV Spot Trailer

Quite Short.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Random Fact

Anime is produced using a combination of drawn and computer animated techniques.

Firstly the contents of the scene are drawn and scanned into the computer. From the digital image it is coloured and sequenced digitally against the other completed frames. Them a background is added and from the completed animation the voice acting is recorded. And it is as simple as that.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Playboy The Mansion

Continuing from my post on Gay Gamers, Playboy The Mansion is not a gay gamer friendly game. You play as Hef and although you can have relationships with girls, the option is completely muted for the boys. Making it is impossible to play as a gay Hef and ultimately ignores gay gamers and forces them to play as a straight character.

I know Hef is straight in real life and I know it could cause a little controversy to have Hef sleeping with guys, but the developers could have done somekind of workaround surly. I mean what about girl gamers, they are forced to play the opposite sex and they might not want to.

I am probably reading too much into this because the game plays as an historical documentary on the history of the magazine, but I would love to see more gay friendly games, so common developers get the rainbow flag out and sniff a few poppers (note i do not condone or indorce the use of mind altering chemicals and/or drugs).

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Nintendo Comments On Revolution And E3

E3 will be the starting point for the Revolution. [We haven't decided] whether we will show the real machine, videos, or unveil the concept. ... We want to receive some level of evaluation, but releasing too much information is also another issue. We don't have the slightest intention of making a machine that follows the same path as conventional game hardware. Right now, we are thinking of how we can accurately convey to people at E3 the different path that the Revolution will take and how it will change the way that games will be enjoyed.
As my dear Grandmother used to say (well she still does) "Stop playing silly buggers".

Yep Nintendo should quit pissing about and actually do something that makes everybody take them seriously. Hmmmm, but if only there was an upcoming trade show to do that... Well if they could steal the show when they are up against not competing, but displaying alongside the XBox2 and PS3 then they would certainly shift a couple more units and probably secure their future.

Console Vs PC Graphics Preformance Lifecycle

This is a hate post, but I will get to my point of writing this later.

The PC's graphical splendour lifecycle is gradual. Every year a new generation of GPUs are launched with a new range of graphics cards from both ATI and Nvidia. This means that developers have to be careful about supporting the new cards and features because they might alienate a lot of systems by putting their requirements to run the game, too high. Developers can help gamers running older cards by offering them varying quality settings to suit their varying hardware. So all in all the graphical splendour of PC games is gradual and progressive.

Consoles on the other hand are only launched once every four to five years and their graphical performance is fixed. So an XBox bought at launch will have the same graphical capabilities as one bought today. The relevance this has on games is that developers can tailer their requirements directly to the console's configuration and use-up all the graphical capabilities available. So when a new console is launched it generally has the latest in graphical technology, to give it the best looking games. With this model developers don't need to be concerned with supporting older hardware because all their gamers will be running the same setup. That is unless it is a multiplatform game of-course. The only thing that limits a console's graphical capabilities is the cost of the hardware at the time the specification was put together because not everybody can afford £1 billion super computers. So all in all the graphical splendour of Console games comes in leaps with every new generation of consoles.

Now I would like to apologise for having to cover what you already know, but every four to five years some stupid fuckheads start writing articles titled Xbox 2
More powerful than a PC!?
. And of-course the new generation of consoles are going to have more graphical capabilities than the PC because it is the technology lifecycle they follow, but still every few years people start preaching doom and gloom for the PC. I call them stupid fucks, but most people don't seem to see things that way. And it pisses me off because these people are so obviously short sighted. Some also say that one-day there will be no consoles because PC technology will be so advanced that there will be no need for consoles to exist, but even this opposite viewpoint is ignorant, because it ignores brand-naming and marketing. People get told by adverts what to buy. And since we are a consumer driven society this will never change. So as long as Sony (for example) keeps making games consoles, people will keep buying games consoles because this is how marketing works. The product doesn't have to be any good, but as long as the product can make people desire it, it will sell (prime example jewelry).

So next-time somebody starts preaching about this Console killing PC shit, just tell them they are stupid. Don't go printing their shit on websites like most gaming sites will in the run-up to E3. Work units and gaming units will not always be completely separate entities, but work units will never be dedicated gaming platforms and gaming platforms will never be dedicated work units.

Random Fact

At my placement in year 2 there is a girl named Emily Booth (this is not her, but she has the same name).

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Now Not Tempted To Get A PSP

I just looked at the price of the PSP on Amazon and it is priced at £179.99!!!

It looks good, it has some nice looking games and some that I think I would genuinely enjoy, but it's price is just a little too high for my taste.

On the other hand the Nintendo DS is priced at £94.99 and is released in about a month (on Red Nose Day). So very tempted by that, but I don't like the gray styling.

Crouching Tiger Hidden Metal Gear Acid

I have seen bits of Metal Gear Acid (for the PSP) from time to time for a while now, but I have always dismissed it, but after watching This IGN Insider presentation Acid is looking like the kind of game I could play for weeks. It reduces snakes world into a turn based game and that is great tactically because it allows the player to actually spend time thinking about a specific situation. And i like that kind of gameplay because it is relaxing and progressive.

So yes I am now tempted to get a PSP.

Star Trek Enterprise Cancelled

Star Trek has always had threats of cancellation and has always been saved at the last minuet, but I don't think that will happen This Time.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Star Wars Republic Commando Demo (Completed)

I am not convinced by the demo. Although the game presents different attack strategies, the environments are so tight, and most engagements so short that it doesn't lend enough gameplay for me to feel as if I command the action. Instead it feels like the game suffers from tunnel vision, only showing you the way forwards and offering no-other possibilities. Not even in the imaginative form of eye-candy. I see a wall on the left, a wall on the right, a locked door behind me and a staircases full of bad-guys in front.

Squad mates are intelligent, shame the enemy isn't too.

Weapons are good, but you can only carry three (ye its more realistic, but in the heat of battle I always end-up fighting with my weapon selection buttons).

Story element could be interesting, but the gameplay seems very linear.

Star Wars Republic Commando Demo Available

Please be good.

Places to download: