Thursday, May 31, 2007

Byte: Closing the gates

I think I've finally clicked with Oblivion, a year late perhaps, but better late than never, hey? I spent a good four hours last night sneaking around caves and shooting stunted scamps in the face with an arrow from five feet - I'll have to take some screenies for Flickr - preferably with the scamps in mid-flight as the arrow catapults them backwards, head-first. Ahhh, I love physics...

I closed no less than three Oblivion Gates last night, using the Sigil Stones to enchant my armour and the silver longsword that I sneakily filtched from the garrison in Bruma - with the bonus of enchanting it being that it no longer appears as being stolen in my inventory list, so if I find anything better, I can always sell it on.

I'm still happily fooling around at level one, since that appears to be the best way to go around closing the gates, and it still doesn't prevent you from picking up some nice gear from the dead prisoners in the Oblivion Towers. So far I've found an Amulet of Water Breathing (helpful for hunting slaughterfish in the lake outside Imperial City) plus two enchanted rings: one fire-shielding, the other paralysis-shielding. So now with my Dark Elf racial bonus, I'm practically impervious to fire - a very handy thing to be on the planes of Oblivion. I'm also progressing quite nicely with the main quest thread, though apparently I need to gain a level until I can actually proceed further with that, as you need to be at least level 2 before you can go off and find the daedra artifact you need to move the main quest on. So I'll probably spend tonight plundering more Sigil Stones from Oblivion Towers, as I'm not really in any rush to finish the game now that I've started getting into it. I also want to go and kill this, so there's definitely crab on the menu tonight...

Friday, May 25, 2007

Byte: WAAAAAAAAAHHHH!

Byte: Sweet Oblivion

I've been replaying Oblivion over the last couple of days, and now that I've abandoned the traditional level rush approach to playing an RPG, it's become a much more playable (and enjoyable) game. I even picked up the expansion pack this week, though I'm going to finish the main campaign before I really try to get into that.

So I've been wandering around Tamriel as a Level 1 noob, with my custom class set up just so, so that it should be practically impossible for me to gain a level, ever, and other than the crashes that I keep getting when I'm closing Oblivion gates, it's pretty good fun now that I've ensured that the game shouldn't ever throw an enemy at me that I can't handle.

I had quite an interesting moment last night: I was sneaking around plundering Goblin Jim's Cave, just outside of Skingrad, when I noticed a rope stretched across a doorway. Fairly obviously, it was a tripwire for a trap. Having failed to set it off with a couple of arrows, I decided that it was worth the risk of just running through it, so I dashed through the doorway and avoided the falling logs that had been teetering on top. A quick swipe of my intelligence-sapping akaviri katana to get rid of the goblin hiding in the corner later, I was able to loot the chest I'd seen tantalisingly through the doorway. Nothing special, just a couple of gold and a lockpick, but worth the trouble. Or was it?

When I turned around to leave the chamber, I ran into a small problem. The four logs that had been intended for the top of my head had, in fact, blocked the doorway. And, of course, the game engine doesn't allow you to pick up large world objects. The roughness of the floor was holding them all in place, and I couldn't simply push them out of the way by running into them. In another game, this might have led to a quick reload - except that I hadn't saved for a good half hour, and I didn't want to redo the dungeon trawl, so I had a think. How was I going to unblock the door so I could make off with my poxy 6 gold and a lockpick?

The problem was that the logs had fallen into a mutually supporting pile, aided by the cragginess of the floor. So the key was being able to pry one of the logs out of its position first, so that it would free up the others to move. Simple. But how to do it? The answer, as always, was physics. I used my bow to fire arrows into the end of one of the logs at an angle; thanks to the inclusion of Havok in the game engine, the momentum of the arrow would then be transferred to the log, giving it a solid nudge and making it pivot away from the pile. Once I had pried a sufficient distance between the log and the pile, I could push it to the side of the cave by walking into it. This then allowed me to use the same trick to dislodge the other logs and unblock the doorway. I could then retrieve all the arrows sticking out of the logs and make my escape with my ill-gotten gains. Hurrah for physics!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Byte: NOOOOOOOooooooo!

Someone's just taking the piss now. I just completed the second stage on New Super Mario Bros, at the umpteenth attempt, and literally, no sooner had I gone back to the World Menu where you choose your next stage, the goddamned battery ran out!

NOOOOOOOOOOooooooo!

Byte: Beyond The Red Line

Freespace 2 + Battlestar Galactica = Beyond The Red Line



Oh yeah. Hell yeah.

Bark: They should call it bacta.

US scientists have developed "super-oxidised" water which they say speeds up wound healing.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Bark: I ain't got time to feed.

Paintballing is one of those things that I've never quite gotten around to trying, despite the fact that I'd probably enjoy it a lot and people at work occasionally arrange paintballing trips that I'm usually far too busy to go on. Watching things like Spaced puts me off trying it, however, because you just know that you're always going to have some nutter on your team who's going to take it far too seriously, because he was in the Territorial Army for three weeks, about fifteen years ago.

And there's no way I'd want to spend all day with people like that if I only had one of those crappy little gravity-fed guns that can only shoot a couple of rounds a second. I'd want one of these babies to really lay the smacketh down... (Quicktime required for the rather impressive video)

Bark: Exercises in Chemistry

Here's your homework for today:

Eat half a pack of extra strong mints quite quickly (within five minutes or so) and then immediately take a large gulp of Pepsi (or any other full-fat fizzy drink - but preferably Pepsi or Coke) and hold it in your mouth for 30 seconds. Observe and document the effect.

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAHH!

Bark: Foresight

It was quite fortuitous that I decided to wear a tea-coloured shirt today, given that I managed to chuck half a cup of PG Tips down my chest and lap when I sat down at my desk this morning... Not the ideal way to start the day.

Bark: Oh. Ah. Umm.

When I woke up this morning I was really pissed off and wanted to have a really indignant rant about it, but I've forgotten what it was I was angry about now... Damn.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Byte: Lame

It's a good job that New Super Mario Bros on DS has a bunch of awesome mini-games on it, because I totally suck at the actual platform game... I couldn't get past the second stage in half a dozen attempts. If I were in Animal Crossing, there'd be a farting black spiral of depression rotating over my head right now. You know the one...

*hangs head in shame and trudges off*

Monday, May 21, 2007

Bark/Byte: Scatterblog

I'm taking the scattergun approach to blogging today, as my weekend has been packed far too tightly to even attempt to make a thematically coherent post.

This weekend we were hosting our friends Sabine and Kaspar, who were celebrating Norway's national holiday day by, umm... not being in Norway for a long weekend. Having exhausted London's charms on Thursday and Friday (while my lady and I were at work), we met back up on Friday evening so that I could ply Kaspar with continental beer and make him play games on my Wii with me, while the girls watched movies on the PC.

On Saturday we took a trip down the M4 to visit Bath, where I had some very nice chargrilled salmon at a seafood restaurant while we waited for the showers to clear, before being toured around town and doing some shopping in the ever pleasant company of Rich. I spent quite a hideous amount of money, having treated everyone to lunch, as well as buying some spectacularly good fudge (with an equally spectacular price tag) and New Super Mario Bros on the DS. Once the shops closed, we bombed back east down a surprising quiet motorway (obviously The Cup Final Effect), popping quickly into Sainsbury's to pick up some more beer for Kaspar and myself, plus some coriander, lemongrass and ramiro peppers to put in the Nasty Goreng with Preying Mantis and Lembit Opik that I was cooking for dinner.

I then got to run Kaspar through some of my PC games, including brief tours of Outland, Cyrodiil, and Tatooine. I'm going to try and get back into Oblivion, now that I know that the best way to play it is to use a custom class and pick all your major skills as things you'll never, ever want to use during game play to avoid levelling up, so that the enemies stay manageable. I still think it's absurd that Bethesda could design an RPG that's only playable when your character is under Level 5 - whoever playtested the difficulty balancing needs to be sacked... Anyway...

Sunday morning we took Sabine and Kaspar back to the airport, and I went for a bike ride, testing out my recently purchased heart rate monitor in anger. I got it quite cheaply in Decathlon, but it's got a chest strap for a proper read out and it should help prevent me exercising myself to death - my heart rate was topping out at 188 beats per minute going up the hill towards Deepcut - it's hard work going up there; it must be a 15% (varying up past 20% in places) gradient for about a mile. Just after I'd got to the top, however, I was looking forward to the nice flat section so I could do a bit of riding at speed when I picked up a puncture - a six inch nail right through the top of the type - leaving me with a walk home of two miles. So having flogged myself half to death going up the hill, I didn't even have the reward of being able to do the freewheeling descent at 40mph on the way back down... bah. I replaced the rear wheel with the spare from my old bike, as I'm going to need a new inner tube for the wrecked tyre. Still, it was nice to get on my bike again. Let's hope that the weather stays good - I need to do get out and do some serious offroading a bit more often this year.

In the evening, Fleur and I sat down to watch Lulu on the Bridge, a film written and directed by one of our favourite authors - Paul Auster. Unfortunately, it's not such a great film. [Spoilers ahoy!] I've always thought that the "And it was all a dream!" ending device is a cop out, but here it's particularly bad, especially because I could see no other reason for it other than as an excuse to not explain anything about all the weird shit that's happened in the last 90 minutes... [/Spoilers end here] Still, at least I did get to ogle Mira Sorvino for an hour and a half, so it wasn't a *total* loss...

Friday, May 18, 2007

Bark: Bah weep granah weep ninni bong.

The new trailer for Michael Bay's Transformers movie actually looks quite good. Being a Michael Bay film, obviously the characterisation and story will be pants, but the 'splodes look first rate. Somehow, I don't think I'll be convincing my girlfriend to come with me and see it...

Another film trailer one of my many spies pointed me at today was this. It looks absolutely ridiculous - perhaps even as far as unintentionally funny, but just stopping short of weapons-grade badness. However, they really should have called it When Sheep Attack, or perhaps The Violence of the Lambs. (Charles, take a bow for that fine pun.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Byte: Determinism

I've been spending far too much time on Wikipedia's Philosophy Portal lately, which has gotten me thinking about whether videogames are deterministic in nature or not. I'm not sure my rather incoherent thoughts on the subject thus far will ever become interesting enough to pitch at a games magazine as a feature, but the exercise in itself is its own reward, as Philosophy is one of those things that I've always had a vague interest in, but never really pursued. Fingers crossed, this is simply the first step toward yet another full-blown obsession in my quest for more information about everything.

In other (random) news, the pen really is mightier than the sword - at least according to that perennial favourite, Googlefight. Also, in other (bizarre) news, I found out today that my Mum is frequenting internet forums. Forums about orchids, but nonetheless an internet forum. She'll be e-mailing me in l33t-speak next...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bark: Goddamn it

Why can't people spell my name right? It was written on the goddamn email, for fuck's sake. Do people still think I spell my own name wrong?

(See the 7th quote from the bottom - I was, of course, making a snide reference not just to the Iraq War, but also to Blair's interview after he'd helped broker the Good Friday Agreement where he said "you can forget soundbites" immediately before coming out with "I feel the Hand of History on our shoulder" with his very next sentence.)

Byte: The Problem with Videogames

I stumble upon this via Comrade Gillen's blog.

In case you can't be bothered to click on the link, it's the standard argument about why violent videogames should be banned, and it goes like this:
Anti-gamer: "Suppose we had a perfectly realistic murder simulator, that people enjoyed using. Nobody actually gets killed, but the simulation is perfect - holodeck-like. Would it be okay to ban that?"

Gamer: "No - just because you enjoy killing someone in simulation doesn't mean you enjoy killing them in real life!"

Anti-gamer: "So you're saying as long as nobody gets hurt it's okay."

Gamer: "Yep."

Anti-gamer: "Did you know there was a case in the UK recently where people were making fake child porn? No actual underage models are used; nobody's getting hurt. Is that okay?"

Gamer: "... I guess not ..."

Anti-gamer: "That's what the UK decided. So why is it not okay to have fake child porn but okay to have fake murder?"

Gamer: "Because the people who read fake child porn are creeps?"

Anti-gamer: "Why? They would never actually have sex with a child in real life. They only do it in simulation."


There are quite a few logical fallacies with this type of argument.

Firstly, the argument is comparing sex with violence, which is like comparing apples with twin-engined jet fighters, not a like-for-like proposition.

Secondly, both sides of the argument assume that there's some kind of universal moral standard or code that has to apply. This is clearly rubbish. The only universal moral standard that has ever applied throughout the whole of history is "Whatever you can get away with is fine." and arguments to the contrary are, at best, wishful thinking. There is no higher moral sensibility - it's all completely arbitrary and relative to your social and cultural background. We have laws against speeding in cars, but the vast majority of drivers do it anyway, simply because they know that they can do it with relative impugnity. Likewise, militias in Africa recruit children to be soldiers because they know they can get away with it. The same can be said with regard to people using child labourers throughout the whole of South East Asia. And don't forget that not so long ago even us refined Brits had very few qualms about sending children down mines or up chimneys...

Thirdly, media censorship simply doesn't work. It doesn't reduce people's desire to see the content that's being restricted and if anything, probably increases people's curiosity to be exposed to it, because it can't be all *that* bad, can it really? It also doesn't stop people making it, either - you simply force it underground where it's much harder to monitor who is accessing it and assess what effect it may be having.

Finally, the argument makes no effort to provide a context. Why does a murder simulator and fake kiddie porn exist in the first place? Why would people want them?

Most damningly however, is that the anti-gamer hasn't grasped the colossal flaw in the central basis of their argument. A "perfect simulation" wouldn't be a simulation. It'd be the real thing. Simulation, by definition, implies that the event takes place in a virtual environment - a simulation is a virtual model of a real world situation. You can't murder a virtual person, regardless of how realistic the simulation is.

What Anti-Gamer seems to be arguing against is his inability to tell the difference between the real world and the virtual - that actions in the virtual world have a moral equivalence to the real world. This too, is patently bollocks. If I kill a thousand MetroCops in Half-Life 2, no-one's going to give a shit. Not only that, I can restart the game and lo! They live! Which isn't going to be the case if you take a five ton fertilizer bomb down to Canary Wharf and detonate it while all the yuppies are popping across the plaza to have lunch and a glass of white wine at the All Bar One.

I also like the somewhat less than subtle implication in Anti-Gamer's position that people who play violent videogames are morally equivalent to child pornographers (fake or otherwise) - that if you defend violent videogames, you're defending child rape. Again, utter poppycock, but it's a great way of assuming the moral high ground and putting gamers on the back foot. I would defend the morality of murder to the same degree that I would for child molestation - that is not at all - but I find it curious that somehow sex is by far more of a taboo than violence (or indeed, murder). Both are base survival instincts - sex for procreation and the succession of your genes, and murder to weed out your competition for land and resources - and both have been mankind's favourite pastimes for thousands of years (War, in effect, is simply institutionalised murder). One creates life, the other destroys it, yet if you make films about murder you're revered an artist, though if you glorify the other one you're reviled as a pornographer... Doesn't that strike you as odd?

It's the same brand of moral relativism from these self-appointed puritanical guardians of morality and goodness that expects us to fight wars these days without anyone dying. For them, the virtual world has become the real world - they can't tell the difference anymore, so they want to enforce the same restrictions on the virtual world as the real world, which is just madness - the madness of people who're badly detatched from any kind of reality - even the reality in their own head.

Or to give you the short, crystallised version: Morality is bollocks.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Byte: What have I done?

I re-subbed to WoW for another three months this weekend. It's all Ubisoft's fault for not releasing Crysis this quarter, of course. I put a couple of levels on my Draenei Shaman on Sunday, getting the inevitable "U R level 13 and mounted... how?" question from level 7 characters on Azure Isle when I did the superbly named Kessel Run quest, which allows you to tromp around on an epic Elekk for fifteen minutes. Screenshots will be going up later on Flickr, no doubt.

I also finally found a copy of Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door to play on my Wii, in the continuing absence of Metroid Prime 3 and just about any other decent game this side of September - hurrah for backwards compatibility! - and even though I haven't put much time into it yet, it's pretty enchanting stuff. The design aesthetic is what made me want to buy it - well, that and Mr Cobbett telling me several times how good it is - and the 2D paper characters in a 3D game world work surprisingly well. I'm not sure whether I'll make it through all 50 hours of it anytime soon, especially having re-subbed to WoW, but it's nice to have it there for a change of pace, as it's slightly more genteel than the stuff I've been playing recently.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Byte: We're doomed

If there's ever a full-blown Human-Robot War, humanity is *fucked*.

Computer AI isn't even that advanced yet, but it appears that most humans are easily outwitted by satellite navigation units. This isn't an isolated incident, either. Seriously, how stupid do you need to be to drive your car into a river because your sat nav told you to? What next, following your sat nav off a cliff?

Fingers crossed the sat navs will have weeded all the stupid people out of the gene pool by the time the proper robot war starts. And then we can make sure that all computer brains everywhere know their place.

Bark: Film Baton

Another one of those "you have no life if you've seen more than 85 of these films" quizzes. Shamelessly cribbed from Gril.


(x) Rocky Horror Picture Show
() Grease
(x) Pirates of the Caribbean
() Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest
( ) Boondock Saints
(x) Fight Club
(x) Starsky and Hutch
(x) Neverending Story
(x) Blazing Saddles
(x) Airplane
Total: 7

( ) The Princess Bride
( ) AnchorMan
( ) Napoleon Dynamite
(x) Labyrinth
( ) Saw
( ) Saw II
( ) White Noise
( ) White Oleander
( ) Anger Management
( ) 50 First Dates
( ) The Princess Diaries
( ) The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement
Total so far: 8

(x) Scream
( ) Scream 2
( ) Scream 3
( ) Scary Movie
( ) Scary Movie 2
( ) Scary Movie 3
( ) Scary Movie 4
( ) American Pie
( ) American Pie 2
( ) American Wedding
( ) American Pie Band Camp
Total so far: 9

(x) Harry Potter 1
(x) Harry Potter 2
(x) Harry Potter 3
(x) Harry Potter 4
( ) Harry Potter 5
( ) Resident Evil 1
( ) Resident Evil 2
( ) The Wedding Singer
( ) Little Black Book
( ) The Village
( ) Lilo & Stitch
Total so far: 13

( ) Finding Nemo
(x) Finding Neverland
( ) Signs
( ) The Grinch
( ) Texas Chainsaw Massacre
( ) Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
( ) White Chicks
( ) Butterfly Effect
( ) 13 Going on 30
(x) I, Robot
( ) Robots
Total so far: 15

( ) Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
(x) Universal Soldier
( ) Lemony Snicket: A Series Of Unfortunate Events
( ) Along Came Polly
(x) Deep Impact
(x) KingPin
( ) Never Been Kissed
( ) Meet The Parents
( ) Meet the Fockers
( ) Eight Crazy Nights
( ) Joe Dirt
( ) KING KONG
Total so far: 18

( ) A Cinderella Story
( ) The Terminal
( ) The Lizzie McGuire Movie
( ) Passport to Paris
(x) Dumb & Dumber
( ) Dumber & Dumberer
( ) Final Destination
( ) Final Destination 2
( ) Final Destination 3
(x) Halloween
( ) The Ring
( ) The Ring 2
( ) Surviving X-MAS
( ) Flubber
Total so far: 20

( ) Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle
( ) Practical Magic
( ) Chicago
( ) Ghost Ship
(x) From Hell
( ) Hellboy
( ) Secret Window
( ) I Am Sam
( ) The Whole Nine Yards
( ) The Whole Ten Yards
Total so far: 21

(x) The Day After Tomorrow
( ) Child's Play
( ) Seed of Chucky
( ) Bride of Chucky
( ) Ten Things I Hate About You
( ) Just Married
( ) Gothika
(x) Nightmare on Elm Street
( ) Sixteen Candles
( ) Remember the Titans
( ) Coach Carter
( ) The Grudge
( ) The Grudge 2
(x) The Mask
( ) Son Of The Mask
Total so far: 24

( ) Bad Boys
( ) Bad Boys 2
( ) Joy Ride
( ) Lucky Number Sleven
(x) Ocean's Eleven
( ) Ocean's Twelve
(x) Bourne Identity
(x) Bourne Supremecy
( ) Lone Star
( ) Bedazzled
(x) Predator I
(x) Predator II
(x) The Fog
( ) Ice Age
( ) Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
( ) Curious George
Total so far: 30

(x) Independence Day
( ) Cujo
(x) A Bronx Tale
( ) Darkness Falls
(x) Christine
(x) ET
( ) Children of the Corn
( ) My Bosses Daughter
( ) Maid in Manhattan
(x) War of the Worlds
(x) Rush Hour
( ) Rush Hour 2
Total so far: 36

( ) Best Bet
( ) How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
( ) She's All That
( ) Calendar Girls
(x) Sideways
(x) Mars Attacks
( ) Event Horizon
( ) Ever After
(x) Wizard of Oz
( ) Forrest Gump
(x) Big Trouble in Little China
(x) The Terminator
(x) The Terminator 2
( ) The Terminator 3
Total so far: 42

(x) X-Men
(x) X-2
(x) X-3
(x) Spider-Man
(x) Spider-Man 2
( ) Sky High
( ) Jeepers Creepers
( ) Jeepers Creepers 2
( ) Catch Me If You Can
( ) The Little Mermaid
( ) Freaky Friday
( ) Reign of Fire
( ) The Skulls
( ) Cruel Intentions
( ) Cruel Intentions 2
( ) The Hot Chick
(x) Shrek
( ) Shrek 2
Total so far: 48

( ) Swimfan
( ) Miracle on 34th street
( ) Old School
( ) The Notebook
(x) K-Pax
( ) Krippendorf's Tribe
( ) A Walk to Remember
( ) Ice Castles
( ) Boogeyman
( ) The 40-year-old Virgin
Total so far: 49

(x) Lord of the Rings Fellowship of the Ring
(x) Lord of the Rings The Two Towers
(x) Lord of the Rings Return Of the King
(x) Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
(x) Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
(x) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Total so far: 55

( ) Baseketball
( ) Hostel
( ) Waiting for Guffman
( ) House of 1000 Corpses
( ) Devils Rejects
( ) Elf
(x) Highlander
( ) Mothman Prophecies
( ) American History X
( ) Three
Total so Far: 56

( ) The Jacket
( ) Kung Fu Hustle
( ) Shaolin Soccer
( ) Night Watch
( ) Monsters Inc.
( ) Titanic
(x) Monty Python and the Holy Grail
( ) Shaun Of the Dead
( ) Willard
Total so far: 57

( ) High Tension
( ) Club Dread
( ) Hulk
( ) Dawn Of the Dead
(x) Hook
( ) Chronicles Of Narnia The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
( ) 28 days later
( ) Orgazmo
( ) Phantasm
(x) Waterworld
Total so far: 59

( ) Kill Bill vol 1
( ) Kill Bill vol 2
( ) Mortal Kombat
( ) Wolf Creek
( ) Kingdom of Heaven
( ) the Hills Have Eyes
( ) I Spit on Your Grave aka the Day of the Woman
( ) The Last House on the Left
( ) Re-Animator
( ) Army of Darkness
Total so far: 59

(x) Star Wars Ep. I The Phantom Menace
(x) Star Wars Ep. II Attack of the Clones
(x) Star Wars Ep. III Revenge of the Sith
(x) Star Wars Ep. IV A New Hope
(x) Star Wars Ep. V The Empire Strikes Back
(x) Star Wars Ep. VI Return of the Jedi
( ) Ewoks Caravan Of Courage
( ) Ewoks The Battle For Endor
Total so far: 65

(x) The Matrix
( ) The Matrix Reloaded
( ) The Matrix Revolutions
(x) Animatrix
( ) Evil Dead
( ) Evil Dead 2
(x) Team America: World Police
(x) Red Dragon
(x) Silence of the Lambs
(x) Hannibal
Total so far: 71

It appears that I officially have a life. And that I've seen 29 fewer crap films than Dan. Hurrah!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Byte: Software Maths

MSN Messenger + Oracle Business Intelligence Suite + Lotus Notes = COMPUTER DEATH

Byte: Uhhh, why?

Blizzard, not content with a monthly income of tens of millions of dollars in subscription fees, have come up with another cash cow: The World of Warcraft credit card.

The hook is that 1% of the money you spend is returned to your WoW account as playing time. Except that if you read the small print, that 1% is only on "qualifying purchases" - and that you can't even find out what constitutes a qualifying purchase until you become a cardmember...

Hmmm. Where did I put my barge pole?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Byte: Sorry, you're not my type

Helvetica is fifty years old today. Cue thousands of people getting worked up about it's relative merits.

One person in the comments thread on that article called the Times New Roman font "fussy, stuffy, excessively formal" in comparison. It's at this point, when people start anthropomorphising typefaces, that I think that these people need to actively seek psychiatric help. Of all the things to get worked up about, it's hard to think of anything more futile.

Bark: Who says Germans don't have a sense of humour?

This story really tickled my fancy this morning.

Bark: Let's be absolutely clear...

I was watching Newsnight yesterday and twice within the space of about thirty seconds, one of the Sinn Fein politicians they were interviewing on the program about the return of devolved government in Northern Ireland trotted out this phrase "Let's be absolutely clear" immediately before proceeding to jabber a huge litany of gobbledegook specifically designed to obfuscate the issue at hand and not actually answer the question he'd been asked.

I've noticed this trend increasingly over the last year or so. It's definitely become a fashion with political spin doctors. First they say "Let's be absolutely clear about this" and then they come out with a spiel of incomprehensible doubletalk so that you immediately feel stupid for not understanding it, because clearly you were *meant* to understand it because he said he was going to be "absolutely clear", which then is meant to make you think "gosh, it's a good job we have politicians to deal with this kind of thing" before you turn over the TV to something life-affirmingly brainless like Eastenders and get muntered on Thunderbird Red.

And we trust these people to run our country. What fools we are...

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Bark: Blocked

I'm having a bit of a difficult time at the moment. There's nothing worse for a writer than to have that mental pressure in your head telling you that you need to write something, but sitting down behind a keyboard and finding that you don't have anything to say...

Monday, May 07, 2007

Bark: Awwwww



How cute is that? From BBC News.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Byte: The Adventures of Dr. McNinja

Earlier I was chatting with my friend Mark about my current obsession with looking up philosophical concepts on Wikipedia and my plan to prove the validity of solipsism by breaking the universe with the power of my mind, when he asked whether I'd seen The Adventures of Dr. McNinja.

Funnily enough, I hadn't. But I have now. And it's really very good.
Take off every 'Zig. You know what you doing.