Friday, October 31, 2003

Cat, meet pigeons. Pigeons, meet cat.

With my usual talent for diplomacy, I'm about to shake up the Mod team on State, because they really deserve it.

In the words of Minsc, "let's give it a good shake and see what falls out!"

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Bug off!

I'm annoyed. Yesterday Razerbug made his grand re-entrance to State, and within one post, managed to fuck up is profile. As if the threat of a lawsuit hanging over my head wasn't enough. I initiated a pre-emptive strike against him, and banned him, because I don't like him very much, he's a disruptive presence, and continually ignored all the advice and demands about his behaviour on the previous forum until someone (Pat?) had to ban him. And I have no reason to believe he's changed.

A messy presence out of the way, order restored, and State can get back to it's natural harmony, right? WRONG. True to form, REVOLT AMONGST THE MODS!

For fucks sake, no-one even *likes* him. But suddenly this is a democratic and constitutional issue. I just want an easy life for Cliff's sake.

What with this and the discussion about whenever people should post reviews to the website and the forum or not, I'm pretty sick of State at the moment. I don't need this. I don't need to be potentially threatened with a lawsuit every time a News item is posted. I don't need 250 people nitpicking every proposal or decision I make, when none of them have the balls to stand up and take a similar responsibility themselves.

So The Bug is back - I hope you all enjoy him.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

The Beast Attacks

I don't know about you, but I've been watching the self-destruction of the Conservative Party with a great deal of amusement. At Prime Minister's Questions today, Dennis Skinner, The Beast Of Bolsover, couldn't resist sticking in the knife a little further.

"Would the prime minister consider making back stabbing a criminal offence?"

Me-OW, Pussycat!


I was playing football again at lunch with the guys at work. I'm slightly less dead this time around than last time, despite feeling the familiar copper taste of blood in my mouth during play (which was probably my imagination), and wanting to cough my guts up right now. At least I didn't have to spend half the time in goal to prevent myself from having a heart attack. My recovery rate has improved somewhat, I think.

Still, no pain, no gain - or in my case, anti-gain, since I want to lose a little more weight. Since Fleur and I have started cutting out a lot of the meat we eat, (and I've started drinking a lot less) I've dropped half a stone in a little over two months, which is good, steady progress, if not spectacular weight loss. Another stone will get me down to a much more healthy 13.5 stone (considering I was close to 16 stone at the turn of the year, I'm already well on the way).

Other than the coughing, which is a remnant of last week's chest infection, I feel great, and really enjoyed playing, despite the fact I consistently couldn't hit the side of a barn door once I got into the final third of the pitch.

Oh well, practice makes perfect I suppose.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Heavy Plasma

More hours were lost to UFO last night - I'm into April now, and the Snakemen have put in their first appearance. One of the nice things about UFO is the variety of enemies. You start off with Sectoids (the classic "Grey" alien), Floaters (who are as shit as their name would suggest), and the game gradually ramps up the difficulty, introducing Snakemen, who are tough, but slow, and eventually introducing Mutons (BIG Green Men) and the dastardly Ethereals, who, though physically weak, possess psionic abilities that can reduce grown men to gibbering wrecks - or worse, become mentally dominated and alien slaves - whom you have to stun or kill to prevent them wiping out your squad.

All of these races possess sub-races, or terrorist races, which all add to the fun. The terror races for the Sectoids and Ethereals are the nastiest of the lot, the Cyberdisks and Sectopods respectively, as they're evil robots with spookily accurate plasma weapons. However, the creepiest of these are the Chrysallids, who accompany the Snakemen. They're horrible insectoid chaps, who impregnate their victims, turning them into zombies, which transform into other Chrysallids if you shoot them, and also happen to be super quick and as tough as diamonds.

With this variety of enemies, the numerous terrain types, and the randomly generated maps, each tactical mission presents a unique challenge and keeps the game fresh. So whilst the visuals may have dated terribly, the actual experience of playing the game hasn't - it's as good as it ever was.

In the game, I've just finished researching the Psi-Lab and Psi-Amp, so I'm looking forward to waging Psi-War against the alien invaders in the next few game months.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Die, alien scum!

I've temporarily abandoned Halo in order to save the Earth from a more direct threat - the Martian scum in UFO: Enemy Unknown. You're probably wondering what the hell I'm doing playing a 9 year old game, when I've still got things like Halo, Neverwinter Nights and GTA: Vice City on my ever expanding "Uncompleted" list.

Well, you can blame Rob, because he keeps annoying me on MSN about how good UFO: Aftermath is. Enemy Unknown is the spiritual ancestor of Aftermath, and is probably the finest Turn Based Strategy game ever made. Despite the now awful 320x240 EGA-o-vision graphics, which can only be rendered on modern PC's if you turn off DirectDraw, Enemy Unknown is utterly atmospheric, beautifully balanced, supremely detailed and ultra-tactical. If I was ever stuck on a desert island with just five games for company, this would be one of them.

I've played through a couple of months of game time, and I was lucky enough to capture a Sectoid Leader in an Abductor, so I'm already researching the Psi-Lab, which should make my life a whole lot easier in the forseeable future. I should be mind controlling aliens by the end of June (and in the game!). Fear my big powerful brain.

One of the beautiful things about Enemy Unknown is that you can rename all the soldiers - which means I inevitably rename them to friends, associates, and people I don't like very much - who I assign to the soldiers with crappy stats, and promptly get them killed. It's very cathartic.

Having already completed the game many times takes away the initial sense of wonder and discovery, as you research all the alien technologies and life forms, but this means that you can play the game in an entirely different way now.

My objective now is to research a full, complete UFOpedia, have eight fully equipped and functional combat bases, and last as long as possible on Earth until I *have* to go to Mars before the alien infiltration missions threaten to shut down X-COM. I think I made it around 18 months last time - this time I want to see if I double that. I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, October 24, 2003

The end of an era

I'm going to miss the roar of those Olympus engines as they fly over my flat.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Angelic Thoughts

After two evenings preparing some semblence of a legal defense, in case I need one over the State cut-and-paste debacle, I finally got back to playing some serious Halo.

It's a serious grower this one. I turned down the resolution a bit further (down to 960x712, or something like that) and other than at checkpoints and loading transitions, the mostly erratic framerate has stabilised to more consistently playable levels.

The night started out at the beginning of Assault On The Control Room, which a hugely enjoyable section where there's a group of marines battling Covenant, with Ghosts, Shade fixed guns, Covenant tanks and infantry all slugging it out. A bit of quick work with a rocket launcher sorted most of it out, and then you get the opportunity to commandeer a Scorpion tank, and *really* let loose, in a massed combined arms battle. Probably my favourite section of the game so far. It's gratifying to blat Hunters with the Scorpion's main gun.

After this, the level design is almost cut and paste, with repeated sections, bunkers, followed by bridges, bunkers followed by bridges, and so on. It'd be tedious if the AI didn't provide a variety of challenge in the composition of enemies. There's lots of fun to be had, sneaking through a bunker crammed full of snoozing Grunts, boshing them on the back of the head with your weapon (as shooting them would wake up the rest) keeping out of sight of any patrolling Elites or Jackals, trying to eliminate as many of the Grunts as possible before being discovered. This is how games should do stealth sections.

Finally, the assault on the control room itself - crikey - what a set piece that is. Two Banshees, a handful of Ghosts, a Covenant tank, a couple of Hunters, and loads of assorted infantry plus half a dozen Shade guns. Talk about intense. Really rewarding once you beat it, too.

Following on immediately from that, we have The Flood. Oh god. If you've played the game, you'll know what I mean. If you don't, it's probably for the best. Thankfully, it was at this point Fleur told me it was time to go to bed.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003


The more I think about the current predicament State is in (and by extension, I am in) the more truly bizarre the legalities of the case get. The company suing State/Extra-Life is Belgian. State is hosted by a British company, and is registered in Britain, which surely means that its content must conform to UK Law, right? We have already determined that under UK Law, the user who posted the News item didn't commit any offense, because they referenced their source, and the copyrighted material was for solely informative and education use of reporting Current Affairs. UK Law states that this constitutes Fair Usage of copyrighted material, and that it can be used without permission.

This being the case, can the article, posted by someone in Britain, on a website registered and hosted in Britain then be subject to Belgian Law, where the above is not true? If to the best of their knowledge, the user has acted in good faith, and not knowingly infringed a copyright under the Law that they are immediately subject to, can they then be sued under the sovereign law of a country that they have absolutely no connection or relation to?

To say it's a legal grey area is being generous.

Under the European Union Copyright Directive there appear to be several provisions for exemption of copyright under Chapter II, Article 5, which surely supercede Belgian and UK Law that could easily apply in this case.

2. Member States may provide for exceptions or limitations to the reproduction right provided for in Article 2 in the following cases:

(a) in respect of reproductions on paper or any similar medium, effected by the use of any kind of photographic technique or by some other process having similar effects, with the exception of sheet music, provided that the rightholders receive fair compensation;

(b) in respect of reproductions on any medium made by a natural person for private use and for ends that are neither directly nor indirectly commercial, on condition that the rightholders receive fair compensation which takes account of the application or non-application of technological measures referred to in Article 6 to the work or subject-matter concerned;

(c) in respect of specific acts of reproduction made by publicly accessible libraries, educational establishments or museums, or by archives, which are not for direct or indirect economic or commercial advantage


3. Member States may provide for exceptions or limitations to the rights provided for in Articles 2 and 3 in the following cases:

(a) use for the sole purpose of illustration for teaching or scientific research, as long as the source, including the author's name, is indicated, unless this turns out to be impossible and to the extent justified by the non-commercial purpose to be achieved;

(b) uses, for the benefit of people with a disability, which are directly related to the disability and of a non-commercial nature, to the extent required by the specific disability;

(c) reproduction by the press, communication to the public or making available of published articles on current economic, political or religious topics or of broadcast works or other subject-matter of the same character, in cases where such use is not expressly reserved, and as long as the source, including the author's name, is indicated, or use of works or other subject-matter in connection with the reporting of current events, to the extent justified by the informatory purpose and as long as the source, including the author's name, is indicated, unless this turns out to be impossible;

(d) quotations for purposes such as criticism or review, provided that they relate to a work or other subject-matter which has already been lawfully made available to the public, that, unless this turns out to be impossible, the source, including the author's name, is indicated, and that their use is in accordance with fair practice, and to the extent required by the specific purpose;

(e) use for the purposes of public security or to ensure the proper performance or reporting of administrative, parliamentary or judicial proceedings;
(f) use of political speeches as well as extracts of public lectures or similar works or subject-matter to the extent justified by the informatory purpose and provided that the source, including the author's name, is indicated, except where this turns out to be impossible;

(g) use during religious celebrations or official celebrations organised by a public authority;

(h) use of works, such as works of architecture or sculpture, made to be located permanently in public places;

(i) incidental inclusion of a work or other subject-matter in other material;

(j) use for the purpose of advertising the public exhibition or sale of artistic works, to the extent necessary to promote the event, excluding any other commercial use;

(k) use for the purpose of caricature, parody or pastiche;

(l) use in connection with the demonstration or repair of equipment;

(m) use of an artistic work in the form of a building or a drawing or plan of a building for the purposes of reconstructing the building;

(n) use by communication or making available, for the purpose of research or private study, to individual members of the public by dedicated terminals on the premises of establishments referred to in paragraph 2(c) of works and other subject-matter not subject to purchase or licensing terms which are contained in their collections;

(o) use in certain other cases of minor importance where exceptions or limitations already exist under national law, provided that they only concern analogue uses and do not affect the free circulation of goods and services within the Community, without prejudice to the other exceptions and limitations contained in this Article.

If this case ever did make it to court, I can see it being very protracted and very messy, which probably isn't in the best interests of either party concerned. From all the research I've done so far - it appears that Copyright Law, where it pertains to the Internet is a big, bad, bloody mess.

I just hope that we don't end up being a test case.

I'm learning more about Copyright Law now than I ever really wanted to know.

It shouldn't happen to an IT Specialist

I got one of the most deeply unpleasant surprises of my life when I got home last night. No, we'd not been burgled - sitting on my doormat was a solicitor's letter from Belgium (of all places) citing Extra-Life for plagiarism of a news article.

To say I was mortified was an understatement - it's not every day you find out someone wants to sue you - or rather, the website you're the billing contact for.

Basically, one of the users on the forum did a simple cut-and-paste on a news item he thought came from a Public Domain source, fully and explicitly credited the source in the first line of the post and posted it in the News folder of the State forum. This post automatically got posted as a News item on the website, due to the little PHP wizard we have to do this kind of thing.

The copyright holder got wind of it - probably via an Internet Trawler bot that they use to ensure that their material isn't appearing where it shouldn't, and I have essentially a compensation demand for 1300 Euros sitting on my bedroom desk, which has to be paid before the 15th of November, or they'll take me to court.

Now, obviously I can't pay the settlement - not only do I not have £900 lying around idly to spare - I wasn't responsible for the reproduction of the article, and I don't think it's fair for me to be held responsible for every article, post or item on the website, because it's essentially an open forum. I'm just the sucker who gets sent the bandwidth bills. State isn't an organisation or company - it's a group of well meaning internet games geeks who like to have their own server.

I did the only sensible thing - I removed the offending article, as receiving the letter was the first indication to anyone using the website that a copyright had been infringed, and immediately posted a public and unreserved apology on the website.

This morning, I posted a formal written apology to the lawyers representing the publishing firm, fully explaining how the situation had arisen, and that how the individual user who posted the article had acted in good faith, and that there had been no intention of infringing a copyright, nor was there any intention to deprive the publishing firm revenue.

The legalities of this case are really rather murky - it's very difficult to find a precedent for this kind of situation - an internet forum being sued for a cut-and-paste? It seems ridiculous on the surface of it - but I can completely understand the company's stance, and the reason for sending the letter. However, I think it's a little unfair to simply demand money when we had no prior knowledge that an infringement was being committed. A simple warning would have sufficed.

Fingers crossed, it won't need to go to court, and that they will settle for the removal of the article and the apology, but if it does go to court, we have a good defense under the Copyright, Design and Patents Act of 1988 for Fair Use of copyrighted material used for Current Affairs reporting - which states that no copyright is infringed if the material is credited - which it was.

Even so - it's pretty fucking scary that a completely innocent cut-and-paste can turn around and bite you in the ass. There's nothing more to be done until the law firm replies, which may take a week or so - and unfortunately patience isn't my strong suit.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Iraq 101

The "peace" in Iraq continues to claim lives.

Goodbye Sweetheart, Halo Ringworld

You probably need to have seen Full Metal Jacket to get that pun. Never mind. So, Halo then.

Played this for a couple of hours last night, and got to the first Warthog mission - Reunion Tour.

Impressions so far. The conversion seems truly terrible. I've got double the recommended spec, (P4 1.7GHz, with 256MB of PC800 RDRAM, a Soundblaster Audigy and a 128MB GF4 Ti4600) and every time things start to get a little busy - BAM! Frame rate goes through the floor. 30FPS my arse. 3FPS more like. Performance was helped somewhat by turning off the frame rate limiter and turning off the VSync, but it shouldn't struggle like this at 1280x1024. And it *really* stutters during loading.

Also, the sound is totally fucked up. The volume of firing the assault rifle fluctuates between unaudible and ear drum rupturingly loud. The audio in the cutscenes is all over the place - with huge gaps where presumably people should be talking, and you should be hearing background music, but no - just simple maddening silence and characters standing doing nothing, and no lipsync.
*Very* disappointing.

The controls likewise seem sluggish, even turning up the mouse sensitivity makes little difference to the turn rate, particularly when compounded by the frame rate problems, and the Warthog is practically uncontrollable with the mouse/keyboard setup. Why, oh why couldn't they have used a GTA style control model? Mouse steering is terrible. This is all a vestige from Halo's console roots, and if I can get it working, I may try it with my gamepad, as I can see that being the best control method, especially for the vehicles.

And the aiming reticle. It covers half the screen. What's the point of mouselook if you can't aim with precision? The cursor needs to be half the size it is to even make it something approaching practical.

After this comprehensive list of flaws, you're probably thinking I didn't enjoy anything at all.

Well, no. The game is surprisingly hard to put down. The level design thus far is pretty good - nice interplays between open spaces and tight, building environments and lots of intelligent placement of natural and artificial obstacles for use as cover.

And, boy, do you need that cover. I'm only playing on Normal, being, as I am, pretty crap, but even so - the AI is pretty spectacularly good. The Covenant retreat, panic, flank, co-ordinate attacks and act pretty much as you'd expect when attacking and taking fire.

Whilst the weapons don't feel fantastic, mainly due to the wooly aiming of the huge reticle, the shield system is great, and introduces a tactical edge to the combat - we're talking more Delta Force than Doom here. There's a real ebb and flow, as both sides attack and regroup, and it's truly exceptional stuff. Considering how challenging it is on Normal - I shudder to think how hard it is on Legendary.

Right now - I feel that it's a great game that's being ruined by technical flaws introduced by a sloppy conversion. On the Xbox, this may well be the greatest FPS ever - but on the PC, I can't help feeling a little disappointed.

Thursday, October 16, 2003


I've just succumbed to buying Halo for the PC. Which is doubly ironic, considering the diatribe I've just spouted about Microsoft being shit. I've been waiting for this game for 3 years. I've even avoided playing it on Xbox - well, not so much avoided but never taken the opportunity to play - I hope the wait has been worth it.

How, *why*, do we let them get away with it?

This is ridiculous. Microsoft have put out *another* warning about critical security flaws in their products. So much for "trustworthy computing". No wonder The Inquirer rumour mill is speaking of my fair employers dumping Microsoft for Linux. I'll believe it when I see it, but surely Microshaft has got to get it's act together soon. It's common knowledge that MS have been shipping buggy products for decades. Something really needs to be done - and it has to be done at the corporate level, because the average consumer doesn't like change is too stupid to realise that they could be getting a much better product.

When Tarantino made his new film Kill Bill, he should have made Mr B. Gates the protagonist of the title.... he's certainly going to be first up against the wall when I start my revolution.

Schweinhund Update

The charges have been dropped. Only because the dog's owner is up on other Nazi related charges.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Tuesday, October 14, 2003


Dammit, I've got lots to write about and no time to do it, so this is going to be a blog entry in rather clipped stylée.

Lots going on at the moment - I'm working on two projects at the moment, which has pretty much eradicated my surfing time at work. Hence, my involvement in State has pretty much dropped off to zero, though this will only be temporary until I leave my old project and bed in with my new one. The new project is good - and is presenting me with an opportunity to develop my Oracle and SQL skills, learn a new flavour of UNIX and start learning Delphi, Java and C++ in earnest. Should be fun. I'm testing the system at the moment, which would otherwise be as tedious as hell, except that it's all new to me.

I have *another* new manager (my 4th in the space of about 12 months), who I met today for my 3rd Quarter review. Seems like a nice guy, and I kind of browbeat him into making him more predisposed to sending me on the Project Management course I want to go on. Which is progress. I'm also in line to get a payrise following my promotion (and about time too) - it's only £1200, but it'll ease the pain of paying off the car. I'm hardly going to say no to another £100 a month (minus taxes) - but double that would have been nicer. Natch.

I also completed Baldur's Gate at the weekend with my Fighter/Druid character. By "completed" I in fact mean "got to the last battle and got mercilessly slaughtered". But hey, at least I've got to the end of the game. Which is progress.

I've imported the character into BGII and will try to continue her story regardless - though I also created a Kensai-Mage dual-class character (Dualled from Kensai at Level 8) and he could be more interesting to play. For once I've created a fighter-mage with a genuine reason for not wearing armour. (Since Kensai don't)

Once he goes past Level 9 in Mage (he's just about to hit Level 8 at the moment) I think a dual-long sword wielding Kensai Mage will kick some serious posterior. (What with having +++ in Long Sword and +++ in Two Weapon Style).

And I've not even updated you about what I thought of the other two Anime disks Mr Cobbett sent me. That will have to wait. I've got work to do.

Monday, October 13, 2003


I like this new project. I get to go home at 5.30 on the dot. If I really want to.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003


Telemarketeers are the bane of my life. They're annoying, intrusive and unwanted, and they pretty much hold you hostage in your own home. When the phone rings in my house, I want it to be someone I want to talk to, not some bloody cold-caller trying to flog me something.

Normally, I'm pretty well downright offensive towards cold-callers, or use my answering machine to agressive screen the buggers, but now, I hope I've found a more pro-active answer - The Telephone Preference Service - These chaps register your phone number against a list of numbers that specify that you don't want to receive cold calls, and pretty much makes it an offense for anyone to cold-call you if you're on the list. It takes 4 weeks for everything to filter through the system, but friends who've recommended it to me say that it has practically eradicated cold-calling for them. Which is great. They do a similar Junk Mail service, too which I might use to get rid of all the junk mail I receive for previous residents, though that's far less of a problem.

Fingers crossed, I can say goodbye to cold-calling scum companies who only pay the poor bastards who get my abuse minimum wage. We'll see in a few weeks.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003


I'm feeling rather under the weather at the moment - I've got a terrible chest infection that's kept me off work for the last two days, which isn't ideal, since I was meant to be starting on my new project with BAA today. I've spent most of the day wrapped up in bed trying to sleep off the worst of the effects, with the heater in the bedroom stuck up on Full. I'm hoping to get back to work tomorrow, if only to have a bit of a change of pace. Regardless of how much I need rest, spending 16 hours a day in bed isn't exactly thrilling - though I have been having some rather unusual dreams. I'm going to have a Strepsil and a Lemsip and get back to bed. It's cold out here.

Friday, October 03, 2003


I spent two hours in a private folder on State last night, conducting my interview with Dr Nusbacher. He's a fascinating bloke, and we had a very interesting and enjoyable chat. History was my best subject at GCSE, so it was great to speak to someone who's studied the subject a lot more, especially in such a specialisation that appeals to me.

So far reaction to the interview has been almost uniformly good to enthusiastic (a novelty as far as my pieces are concerned) - and the *really* good thing is that we've beaten all the usual suspects (PC Gamer, PC Format and PC Zone) to interviewing someone from Time Commanders. Yay for the Little Guy!

Not bad for my first journalistic interview ever, eh?

Thursday, October 02, 2003


I invited my friend Paul around last night for a frosty beverage, to play a little Black Hawk Down and for him to review my questions for Dr Nusbacher (the interview should be later tonight, fingers crossed!) and I cooked a nice curry for dinner. Here's the recipe, should you want to try it yourself:

Chicken, Lentil & Spinach Balti - Serves 3-4

500g chicken breasts - cut into 1in chunks

1 large onion - finely diced

6 large flat mushrooms - thickly sliced

1 tin of green lentils - drained

250g of spinach

Half a jar of Balti curry paste

200g of basmati rice


Cumin Seeds

3 Cardamom pods



Vegetable oil

Onion Bhaji Nan Breads (one each)

Fresh coriander

Fry the chicken in some vegetable oil over a high heat for about five minutes, or until they start to brown, ensuring that the surfaces of all the chicken pieces appear cooked. Season well with salt and pepper. Then add the balti paste, frying until the chicken is thoroughly coated in the spices. Add a little water as necessary to prevent the paste burning to the bottom of the dish. Add the onions, and let them fry in the paste mixture until they take on colour, soften and lose their shape. Then add the sliced mushrooms, seasoning with a little more salt and pepper to draw the moisture out of the mushrooms. Fry until the mushrooms have taken on the colours and flavours of the balti sauce.

Add half of the spinach, and let it steam in the pan until it has wilted, before adding the rest of the spinach. Cook until all the spinach has wilted, and then add the lentils. Top up the sauce with enough water to prevent burning, and then simmer over a low to medium heat, stirring occasionally for another 10 minutes. Then put a teaspoon or so of turmeric powder into a pan, along with a tablespoon of cumin seeds, the cardamom pods and a little salt. Add the rice to this with enough boiling water to cover the rice to a depth of 1.5 centimetres. Boil the rice over a high heat, stirring frequently. Add some snipped coriander leaves to both the rice and the balti sauce approximately five minutes before the end of the cooking time (when roughly half of the water has been absorbed by the rice), and heat the Nan breads.

Serve immediately with chilled sparkling water or suitably frosty lager.

Pot vs. Kettle

Wednesday, October 01, 2003


America's top chat show hosts and comedians on Arnold Schwarzenegger's bid to become Governor Of California:

Jay Leno: 'It's been reported that some of Arnold Schwarzenegger's opponents have been circulating naked pictures of Arnold on the internet. In a related story, Arnold is leading other candidates by 4in.'

Bill Maher: 'Bush is supporting Arnold, but a lot of Republicans are not, because he is actually quite liberal. Karl Rove [Bush's strategist] said if his father wasn't a Nazi, he wouldn't have any credibility with conservatives at all.'

David Letterman: 'President Bush has been silent on Schwarzenegger. Of course, he can't pronounce Schwarzenegger.'

Conan O'Brien: 'Apparently Arnold was inspired by President Bush, who proved you can be a successful politician in this country even if English is your second language.'

Ponging Pings

I played a bit of Multiplayer Delta Force: Black Hawk Down last night. It may surprise you to learn that other than a brief visit to a Counterstrike server three years ago, this was my first extended experience of online gaming. As most of you will know, I can't get broadband at home, so I was playing on a 56kps connection. With pings averaging between 650ms and 700ms. Which is Officially No Fun.

Particularly when you're on an American server (because it's the only one I could find playing vanilla deathmatch) where everyone else has broadband, and they're all online gaming veterans. However, I managed to aquit myself quite well in my final game of the evening and outscored a few other players, despite Lag literally the size of the Atlantic Ocean.

I can certainly see the appeal of online gaming - I had a few nice moments, such as ascending a ladder to a roof, to find someone who was already camping there with a sniper rifle, and unloading 30 rounds from my CAR-15 into his back. It was only afterwards that I realised I should have knifed him for extra points - because he didn't have a clue I was there.

I definitely think that I'll play it again - if I could get more playable pings, I reckon it'd be great fun, and I certainly need more practice to learn the maps and learn how to cope with the lag. Perhaps I'll see if anyone on State plays it, and try and get a regular game set up.