Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Comparision of new parking charges

The table sans highlighting I'm afraid.

Comberton Place, KOct 10Jan 11Oct
Up to ½ hourFreeFree
Up to 1 hour£0.50£0.50Free
Up to 2 hours£1.10£1.10£1.20
Up to 3 hours£1.50£1.60£2.00
Over 3 hours£2.50£2.60£3.10
24-48 hours£5.00£5.20£6.20
Bromsgrove Street, K

Up to 1 hour£0.80£0.80£0.80
Up to 2 hours£1.10£1.10£1.30
Up to 3 hours£1.90£2.00£2.10
Over 3 hours£3.70£3.80£3.90
24-48 hours£7.40£7.60£7.80
Market Street, K

Up to ½ hour£0.50
Up to 1 hour£0.80£0.80£1.00
Aldi Store, K

Up to 1 hour£0.80£0.80£0.80
Up to 2 hours£1.10£1.10£1.30
Up to 3 hours£1.90£2.00£2.10
Over 3 hours£3.70£3.80£3.90
24-48 hours£7.40£7.60£7.80
Pike Mills, K

Up to 1 hour£0.80£0.80£0.80
Up to 2 hours£1.10£1.10£1.30
Up to 3 hours£1.90£2.00£2.10
Over 3 hours£3.70£3.80£3.90
24-48 hours£7.40£7.60£7.80
Bateman's Yard, K

Up to 1 hour£0.80£0.80
Up to 2 hours£1.10£1.10£1.30
Up to 3 hours£1.90£2.00£2.10
Over 3 hours£3.70£3.80£3.90
24-48 hours£7.40£7.60£7.80
Castle Road, K

Up to 1 hour£0.80Free
Up to 2 hours£1.10£1.10£1.20
Up to 3 hours£1.90£2.00£2.00
Over 3 hours£3.70£3.80£3.10
24-48 hours£7.40£7.60£6.20
Horsefair, K

Up to ½ hourFreeFree
Up to 1 hour£0.80£0.80Free
Up to 2 hours£1.10£1.10£1.20
Up to 3 hours£1.90£2.00£2.00
Over 3 hours£3.70£3.80£3.10
24-48 hours£7.40£7.60£6.20
St Mary's Church, K

Up to 1 hourFree
Up to 2 hours£1.10£1.10£1.20
Up to 3 hours£1.90£2.00£2.00
Over 3 hours£3.70£3.80£3.10
24-48 hours£7.40£7.60£6.20
Stadium Close, K

Up to 1 hour£0.30£0.30Free
Up to 2 hours£0.50£0.50£1.20
Up to 3 hours£1.00£1.00£2.00
Over 3 hours£1.60£1.60£3.10
24-48 hours£3.20£3.20£6.20
Weavers Wharf, K

Up to 1 hour£0.80£0.80£0.80
Up to 2 hours£1.10£1.10£1.10
Up to 3 hours£2.00£2.00£2.00
Up to 4 hours£4.50£4.50£4.50
Over 4 hours£10.00£10.00£10.00
Worcester Street, K

Up to 1 hour£0.80£0.80£0.80
Up to 2 hours£1.10£1.10£1.30
Up to 3 hours£1.90£1.90£2.10
Over 3 hours£3.70£3.70£4.70
24-48 hours£7.40£7.40£9.40
Youth Centre, K

Up to 1 hour£0.80
Up to 2 hours£1.10£1.10£1.30
Up to 3 hours£1.90£2.00£2.10
Over 3 hours£3.70£3.80£3.90
24-48 hours£7.40£7.60£7.80

Raven Street, SOct 10Jan 11Oct
Up to ½ hour£0.50
Up to 1 hour£1.00
Up to 2 hours£0.80£0.80
Bridge Street, S

Up to 1 hour£0.80
Up to 2 hours£0.80£1.30
Over 2 hours£4.10
Up to 3 hours£2.10
Over 3 hours£4.70
24-48 hours£8.20£9.40
Riverside Meadows, S

Up to 1 hour£0.80
Up to 2 hours£1.30
Up to 3 hours£2.10£2.20£2.10
Over 3 hours£4.10£4.20£4.70
24-48 hours
Severn Meadows No1, S

Up to 1 hour£0.80
Up to 2 hours£1.10£1.10£1.30
Up to 3 hours£2.10£2.20£2.10
Over 3 hours£4.10£4.20£4.70
24-48 hours£8.20£8.40£9.40
Severn Meadows No2, S

Up to 1 hour£0.80
Up to 2 hours£1.30
Up to 3 hours£2.10£2.20£2.10
Over 3 hours£4.10£4.20£4.70
24-48 hours

Severn Meadows No3, S

Up to 1 hour£0.80
Up to 2 hours£1.30
Up to 3 hours£2.10£2.20£2.10
Over 3 hours£4.10£4.20£4.70
24-48 hours
Stourport Sports Centre No1, S

Up to 1 hour£0.80£0.80Free
Up to 2 hours£1.10£1.10£1.20
Up to 3 hours£1.90£2.00£2.00
Over 3 hours£4.10£4.20£3.10
24-48 hours£8.20£8.40£6.20
Stourport Sports Centre No2, S

Up to 1 hour£0.80£0.80Free
Up to 2 hours£1.10£1.10£1.20
Up to 3 hours£1.90£2.0£2.00
Over 3 hours£4.10£4.20£3.10
24-48 hours£8.20£8.40£6.20
Stourport Sports Centre No3, S

Up to 1 hour£0.80£0.80Free
Up to 2 hours£1.10£1.10£1.20
Up to 3 hours£1.90£2.0£2.00
Over 3 hours£4.10£4.20£3.10
24-48 hours£8.20£8.40£6.20
Vale Road, S

Up to 1 hourFree
Up to 2 hours£0.80£2.20£1.20
Over 2 hours£4.10£4.20
Up to 3 hours£2.00
Over 3 hours£3.10
24-48 hours£8.20£6.20

Load Street, BOct 10Jan 11Oct 11
Up to ½ hour£0.50£0.50£0.50
Up to 1 hour£0.80£0.80£1.00
Dog Lane, B

Up to 1 hour£0.80£0.80£0.80
Up to 2 hours£1.10£1.10£1.30
Up to 3 hours£1.90£2.00£2.10
Over 3 hours£5.20£5.30£4.70
24-48 hours£10.40£10.60£9.40
Gardners Meadow, B

Up to 1 hourFree
Up to 2 hours£1.10£1.10£1.20
Over 2 hours£2.10£2.20
Up to 3 hours£2.00
Over 3 hours£3.10
24-48 hours£4.20£4.40£6.20

The Avenue, BlOct 10Jan 11Oct 11
Up to 1 hourFreeFreeFree
Up to 2 hours£0.50£0.50£0.50
Over 2 hours£2.50£2.60£2.70
24-48 hours£5.00£5.20£5.40

Monday, November 29, 2010

Nominet plans to hand over control to police?

A proposal from Nominet the agency that handles the UK domain name structure bears some close attention. On the surface it seems reasonable - if someone is using their website for criminal activity Nominet can remove the domain from them.

Where it starts to get stinky is the grounds for removal

reasonable grounds to believe they are being used to commit a crime (e.g. a request from an identified UK Law Enforcement Agency).

That's not that they've been convicted of a crime, not that a member of the judicial service has requested or approved it; nope it's the enforcement agency itself that can do the requesting or even just if Nominet themselves decide to. This is even worse than the Proceeds of Crime Act wherein a person can be charged and found not guilty of an offence yet still have their possessions removed as being proceeds from a crime they have either be proven innocent of or not even charged with.

One point that did occur to me is that everyone is on thin ground in terms of slander and libel in both cases. If you have your domain removed by Nominet on the basis of a request by a law enforcement agency they are stating you are a criminal. If you've had no charges made or have been cleared of them how can either agency be able to justify these actions?

Toy Story 3 review

Out cheap on Blu-ray I picked it up and managed to watch it over the weekend. Is it as good as the previous two - yes. It is better - no.

The story itself is almost a rehash of the second dealing with the growing up of the toys' owner and the ultimate fate of any toy - landfill, donated or atticed and as per usual I won't go into too many details for spoilers sake.

Essentially Andy is going to college, but what to do with his old toys that are languishing in his toy chest? Needless to say after some confusion the toys are sent to be discarded, escape their fate and choose to be donated to a children's play centre where they will be played with every day, every week, every year with no worry over being discarded as the children grow older.

Of course things aren't always as they seem.

All in all this is a fitting conclusion to the trilogy that has built up on previous themes; perhaps it's just me though but it wasn't quite as tear-provoking as the second. Jesse's Lament always tears me up.

Star of the show, as many have mentioned, is Ken as voiced by Michael Keaton.While both Lotso and Big Baby have been invested with decent characterisation it's Ken that steals every scene and provides so much of the humour.

Stand out scene in both terms of impact and sheer graphical joy - Death by Monkeys! Just perfectly realised however graphically this doesn't put a pixel wrong anywhere

What can I say? As a trilogy this is nigh-on flawless, but it's the fact that each film also stands alone that elevates this to immortal heights. Buy it for your kids and they'll be showing it to theirs.

A dead watch?

My watch stopped last month, I had the battery changed and all was well. It's stopped again. So dodgy battery, or dead watch hmmm?

Yet another increase in parking charges

As usual my thanks to Tav for linking to the document with the proposed charge increase in January for the district's car-parks as well as the proposed changes for next October. As I've already done a comparison of the previous set brought in on October it was no hardship to add these in. It is a pain to translate these into html, so I'll just run a brief on the first set of changes.

Friday, November 26, 2010


It's days like this that remind me that the the ground pipes holding the water aren't that well insulated and that my shower just turns a heater on and pumps water through it rather than measure the inflow or outflow temperature - brrrh!

But the heat exchange coefficient of water is known, the flow of water is controlled, the temperature of the inflowing water can be measured, and the temperature of the heater can be set. So there's no reason why the temperature of the outflowing water can't be maintained at a constant without recourse to twiddling dials.

I suppose it's expense, but it's the 21st century and this is still the most common control method - yeesh!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Let them eat cake?

Just caught a burst of Lorraine on Daybreak (or whatever it's called) discussing the snow up North. "Just stay in" she said. What a good idea I don't understand these people - why are they even driving instead of using the expansive train network that connects all the villages up. Sigh!

What annoys me is we get this every single bloody time. Stay in, only go out if it's absolutely necessary and it all comes from a bunch of London presenters who either are driven to work or have access to a non-weather affected transport system.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Just how many lanes does York Street have?

This afternoon I drove over a shiny new painted white arrow in York Street just outside the turn to the new flats. I'm guessing people are driving out and trying to turn right down the one-way system.

However a white arrow, just the one painted in the middle of the road. So is this an official statement that York Street is in fact just one lane?

If so then who has priority at its entrance Lion Hill or Lichfield Street/Mart Lane?

If not whose authorised only one arrow to be painted when there should be two?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Net neutrality

Net neutrality has popped up again the the UK news. For those unfamiliar with the concept the non-codified principal is that providers of internet connections do not favour or hinder anyone. That means you can access my little blog at the same speed as you can access The Financial Times. Sure they might have the equivalent of a motorway leading to their front door and I might have a country lane, but you can all travel at the same speed.

This may change.

What's up for examination is allowing content providers to pay providers to ensure a faster service to them. Our political leaders place this under the guise of "market forces". They're wrong and once again it shows just how they still think of the internet as "tubes" or indeed the same analogy I use as in a road network.

Consider the M6. This has a sister the M6T the T stands for Toll. If you have the money you can take this less busy shortcut and this equates neatly to the offerings of the Internet Providers; you pay for the speed of connection. But that's as far is it goes.

Sticking with this analogy the rumbling revocation of neutrality will allow the destinations to pay for the connections. The simple way to consider this is if Cambridge wanted better speeds it would issue 'passes' to those travelling to them to use the equivalent of bus or car-pooling lanes allowing them to speed past those who are simply using the same connection to get elsewhere.

Now the theory goes that this extra payment will allow an upgrading of the connections; there's still a priority lane, but now there are more lanes for everyone else too. So everyone benefits. But who owns the connections? Who is upgrading them?

So take a large company paying for priority; 100 people heading down the same pipe with 50 going elsewhere. So under neutrality each gets 1% of the bandwidth; under the new system the priority customers might get 1.5% leaving the remaining 50 with 0.5%. Market Forces says this is fine, the company that can afford to pay is obviously popular hence the 'spare' cash.

Except what if you get 50 of company A and 50 of Company B and both are priority? Everyone gets 1%; no difference. But what if the majority of traffic is 'priority' say 98 with only 2 non-priority? If there's no minimum bandwidth those two might be allocated only 0.1% each with the rest only receiving a little over 1% each Heck they might get 0.01%.

As a result we end up with the same situation we see in business, those who've thrived under net neutrality can now pay to have their own visitors prioritised over those of their competitor. We get a few large companies fighting over the bandwidth and throwing money at the providers while the smaller areas get starved of traffic.

Oh but wait with all that money they'll add more bandwidth - no of course they won't. Keep it a scarce resource and you can charge what you like; yes it will increase when they hit the ceiling of what the destination sites will pay; but it's not going to be the competition that the government seems to believe it's going to be.

A friend's iPhone

A friend's just brought in his iPhone to be set-up at the moment it allows only emergency calls and needs to be plugged into iTunes to register. Great as he's currently without a computer. So I plug it into mine and it's all 'oo do you want to set up your Apple Store account on this?' No I bloody well don't.

It still used my login, but thankfully didn't transfer the password over. POS.

So without a computer he currently has no email; so he can't set up an account. "Tell you want if you want to I'll sign you up for MobileMe that wa all your contacts, calendar will be stored elsewhere and if you lose your iPhone you just need to log back in and it'll all come back down to you"

So I went to sign him up for the 60-day free trial. To use this 60-day free trial you need a credit card ooookay. He's left it behind.

Not bloody easy is it?

Spending money

Damn Merry Hill, makes me spend money :-) Though not as much as usual thankfully. I got there around half ten and it was already fairly busy I ended up at the top of the multi-storey; this time thought the elevators were working.

Nothing new, picked up some box sets from HMV a couple of new books from Games Workshop, and managed to leave Waterstones empty handed which is amazing. One small annoyance was that nether Game nor Gamestation had the Prince of Persia trilogy out despite it being released last Friday. Oh well I've too many games to go through anyway.

To add to my list of food stuffs I can't find - Colmans American Mild mustard. None in Sainsbury's, Morrisons or Asda. Tcch.

Anyway I related my purchased to my parents. The Prisoner box set
"Which one?" asked my mother
I pull a stupid face
"The original" she replies for herself.
"And the Sherlock Holmes collection" I add
"Which one"
stupid face
"Okay Jeremy Brett" she replies again.
"Of course I mean come on" I state with a broad grin

Well that's my lonely evenings sorted boo-hoo :-P

Young Earth Creationist

Sunday Morning Live on the BBC featured a Young Earth Creationist. Oh my it was painful to watch. I'm not taking him as representative of all such belief holders, but I'll take on his 'arguments'.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fixing Computers.

It seems one of those mad coincidences. Wednesday I had to fix the wireless connection on the Acer latop belonging to DaBoss' son. Then yesterday a friend dropped by with an Advent laptop. It was getting stuck at updating 3 of 3 then rebooting.

So I booted it up and we sat looking at the BIOS screen "It shouldn't take this long" I said
"It always does he replied"

More conversation revealed his CD drive also didn't work which scuppered one plan of attack, but I thought I'd check the BIOS setup to see if it was trying to boot off a non-existent drive.

Nope the CD was third on the list after the hard drive itself. I checked the CD it was set to Auto and finding None. "Well if it can't find it" I said " I might as well disable it. So I did.

Reboot and the BIOS screen appears and disappears. "And that's fixed that"

Long story short ended up using a System Restore Point easy as pie. Joke is he only brought it to me because his usual fixer is indisposed. Uh-huh so the full-time high-salaried computer fixer couldn't solve the BIOS slowdown - right.

And now this morning over in the fog to DaBoss to get the Acer to talk to the HomeHub. He'd been plugging in the key to no avail, turns out he was using the wrong security protocols. Then dismantling another computer that seemed to be a dust magnet and hauling that back to the office for a look-see.

All fun.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Remakes of classic games.

It's nothing new, for the PS2 we had the Sega re-releases of the old MegaDrive games and that continued even to the PS3 yet these weren't remakes, it was exactly the same game simply tweaked to run on new software. The true remake didn't start until God of War.

With God of War 3 on its way and Sony having ditched any pretence of backwards compatibility the developers found themselves in the position of releasing the third of a trilogy of games with a new generation having never played the previous two and thus have little idea what's going on.

In a feat of sheer genius they thought to dig out the old games, tweak them for the new console and even give them an HD polish to release them before the third thus satisfying those who had never played them and those who wish they still could.

And they sold, they sold well. At which point a bandwagon was drawn up and other developers though to jump aboard. After all why go to all the trouble and risk of creating a new intellectual property when you could just pull a dust covered game out of the cupboard and put some fresh lipstick on it and send it out in a short skirt and low-cut top.

So following GoW1 and 2, we now see Sly Cooper's trilogy, Ico and Shadow of the Colossus; and now the Prince of Persia trilogy all on the horizon. Am I complaining? Well no not really because these games weren't only good at the time, they're still good. This is top tier stuff here and not remakes of Gauntlet, Haven, or Vexx.

Bring them on and um... any chance of the Silent Hill trilogy? You can skip the fourth if you want no bother.

Predators review

Let me blunt - every single director could learn from Robert Rodriguez. The man can take a bunch of B-C (and lower) actors and produce a film that not comes out on or below budget, but makes a continuous turnover at the Box Office, not just at the opening weekend before word-of mouth and reviews get around because it truly is worth watching. That's talent! Predators is no exception.

Nominally a sequel, but you don't need to know anything about the previous movies to enjoy it. We quite literally jump into the action as we follow an unconscious guy freefalling out of the sky and into a jungle. The action doesn't let up, tension is kept high and despite the fact we know about the Predators they don't make any real overt appearance until the middle of the film.

I'd really like to go into details of the plot, but that would really spoil things so just the basics - there's more than one person who's been dumped here and they're not alone. What does set this film apart from the current helping is the lack of computer special effects - they exist but they're not there to grab your attention with how well they're done they are there just to keep the story moving and that's it.

I'm trying to think of any part where it drags and am drawing a blank, everything is used to push the story and more importantly the characterisation a item that can often be missed in such 'action' movies. Rodriguez also isn't afraid of the odd sly reference to the first film, the musical score particularly stands out in this regard; it is the Predator track and crops up at just the right points to emphasise the film.

Ignore Predator 2 this is the true sequel to Predator. Enjoy.

Pluralisation of numbers

A comment from a Germanic speaking lady on the morning Midlands news regarding the market - "Three million peoples". Now "peoples" is something that non-native English speakers often use, however what caught my attention wasn't that mispluralisation but the lack of one elsewhere.

When we discuss large groupings we can say that there were hundreds, thousands, even millions yet as soon as it is quantified what happens? Two million, three thousand, four million. What happened to the plural? I've already demonstrated that an "s" can be added so why isn't it?

By the same logic we should discuss cats and dogs, but two cat and three dog :-)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Fog and lights?

A timely letter from the Shuttle regarding the use of headlights when driving in fog. Now my position has always been sidelights to be seen, headlights to see; but this has to be tempered by conditions. If it's a bit dark and drizzly what purpose do headlights serve other than to dazzle those coming the other way; particularly on those vehicles with multiple lights fitted to their front?

In this instance I admit driving yesterday morning with only side-lights on; my reasoning - the speed limit is 30mph and the visible distance was enough to be able to discern such lights at a point that allowed enough time for manoeuvres. Add to that being stuck in a queue and I had to ask "What purpose would it serve?" Those directly in front and behind are well within visible range as is anyone heading my way who needs to cross my lane.

It also needs to be said that in true foggy conditions full headlights aren't always the best thing, the lights reflect off the fog and can reduce visibility if not adjusted correctly. Just last night I switched on my headlights and found a bank of white in front of me, I switched to full beam and saw less. This is the purpose of fog lights that are angled downwards to allow you to see the road more clearly, but they also have the effect that they reflect away and upwards towards other drivers which is why they shouldn't always be used.

Did I use my fog lights - no because there was no-one else on the road until I reached the end of the queue, by which point there use would be moot.

Wireless failure?

Interesting start to the morning the laptop failed to connect to the wireless router. It could see it, but asked for the key. So how did it lose that? Even attempting to use the Vaio's own built in profile settings couldn't connect. So I manually added it again, and no problem. Then switched to the relevant profile and again no problem. Go figure.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


A shot of a man reading a newspaper, a sparkly star on the end of a wand appears and we hear a girl say "Bling!". Said girl then 'blings' a cake, a dog, some kids, her mother, and passes multiple blings to a boy on a slide. Just as she's about to bling the guinea pig/hamster she spies the Dora Fantasy Explorer set next to her mother and rushes over to play with it.

What the hell? How did the first part of this advert connect with the second part? What sort of message is this advert portraying? Hey kids how can you have fun with that wand from the Poundshop exploring the real world and playing with your friends? You need a Dora fantasy Explorer playset available from £14.99 - £39.99 so you can sit in a corner of your room while your mum watches you play.

It's as bad as the Smythes advert where the mother takes the two kids to this grotty shop where the girl turns her nose up at a "My favourite pony" toy. Oh don't worry kids your mum was only joking she's taking you out of this local independent toy shop and taking you to a national warehouse-sized chain store instead - yay!

Pay attention

Driving in this morning and we all had to edge around the Land Rover type with its rear end stuck out from the Total station. He was as close as he could get to the car in front who was as close as they could get to the car in front who in turn had a car and a half gap in front of them. They were sitting there waiting for a spot to open up at a pump oblivious to what was playing out behind them.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Two potential traffic mishaps

An hour ago I watched a young women turn right at the Bridge Street island, a perfectly logical thing to do at an island except for the bit about it being one-way in the opposite direction.

And just this moment I witnessed someone turn right at the bottom of Vale Road. Not pulling out into Vale Road and heading the wrong way. Instead turning from High Street into the left hand lane for Vale Road and then turning right at the third lane to cross the top of Mitton Street to get to Lion Hill.

All completely logical choices given the poor signage.

iTunes for the umpteenth time

No updates this time, just hadn't used it for a while. Started it Friday library gone. Put it all back. Started it today - library gone. Grabbed the library itl file dated 2010-11-12 renamed it. Tried to get some of the missing album covers. Not having it.

Closed it, opened it, still not doing it. Closed it watched the folder as the damn itl file deleted itself. Seriously it didn't go to the recycle bin just poof vanished.

Re-imported everything back, and oh look it's now quite happy to get the album covers. Prior to closing I took a copy of the itl file and stashed it somewhere safe. What a piece of crap software

Fallout 3 more bugs

Yep I returned to the world of Fallout 3 from New Vegas and I was right it is slower to load than the newer version. I'm not sure if it's the new hardware or just randomness, but it seems even more flakey.

I encountered the area not loading bug several times whereby the vegetation loads up but the ground doesn't. Try to continue and the game will state that you cannot proceed any further in this direction (just as it does for the invisible walls surrounding the area), but then sticks you to the site until you Fast Travel out the way.

This happened so many times I quit the game and restarted; this time it worked fine. Oh and two freezing bugs that required the console to be powered down, and a few enemies stuck in walls.

Not the best of engines methinks.

Freeview changes?

Yesterday a message popped up on my Freeview recorder I caught the word update and November before it vanished as I was changing channels and that dismissed everything on screen. I checked with my parents and they too had the message.
"What did it say?" I asked
"Something about an update on the 15th November, it said press OK so we did because we had just started watching a recording."

Has it returned? Yeah right! Checking around it seems that some of the channels contracts expire today and all it means is yet another retune.

Entertaining the Tribe

Due to a celebration in the family the almost the entire tribe visited, so not counting the adults that was a one-year old, a five-year old, an eight-year old, and a thirteen-year old.

Although the plan was that The Artist and family wouldn't stay long, he decided that he wanted to check out the demo of something on my PS3; as that meant a half-hour download he stuck around so I took the elder three kids out into the wood and towards the playground.

Fuss and nonsense at the start made me forget to ask something and off we went. Devil Child wants to hold my hand which is fine, but the paths are too narrow which meant me walking in the long, wet grass - lovely. Bratus Major and Minor did their usual 'fighting' which I had to calm down a couple of times. DC was by turns both entertained and shocked by their antics; I don't think she's used to that level of boisterousness.

We made it to the playground a delightful metal affair which meant everything was icy to the touch. They had some fun until DC whispered to me that she wanted to go to the toilet. Damn I knew there was something; as I've mentioned before there are NO toilet facilities in this entire region. This meant making our way back, which isn't far and to be honest it was a bit chilly.

Back we went and DC sorted out she wanted to play Connect 4 with her grandfather on the table; however as Minor had been so good at keeping his mouth shut I brought down Munchkin Quest too. That meant we needed the table and we banished the other two out into the conservatory.

Now some may recall that every single time Minor has been around he's asked to play this. "How do we play this?" he asks as I set it up. Sigh! Anyway we played with a cut-down set of rules. Both The Artist and his father hovered a couple of times and declared it too complicated for them. The one went back to the PS3 demo, the other to DC and Connect 4 followed by the 3D snakes and ladders in which they were joined by my father.

The Bratii and I had fun, but didn't get to finish as they had to leave along with everyone else.

I later learned that not as much fun was not had over Snakes and Ladders as the Brattii and I had last time as it seems DC is quite happy to play any game so long as it's by her rules. I've mentioned that before too, but it was rammed home when she initially set up the Conect 4 board placed a yellow counter and then declared "Now it's your turn!" before placing the red counter.

I'd have thought with attending school this would be something she'd have grown out of by now, unless it's just something she does with family knowing she'll be indulged by everyone (except me of course).

Friday, November 12, 2010

More Fallout New Vegas quirks

Having finished seeing off the Powder Gangers at Goodsprings and earning the respect of the townsfolk and the enmity of the Gangers I headed off to Pimm. Seems convicts from the nearby NCR Correctional Facility had taken over; so I cleaned that all up too. Pimm needed a Sheriff or at least some law and order and three options presented themselves - Reprogramme the Robot; acquire some reinforcements for the local NCR; or find a Sheriff who'd been sent to the NCR prison.

As I'd heard the prison had been taken over by the Powder Gangers and I was already on the outs with them it seemed like the most fun; so off I went.

Hell that was tough I took out everyone in the place and at that point the odd thing happened. Just after I killed the head prisoner, Eddie, up popped "I Fought the Law Failed" yep by killing Eddie I'd failed this quest. What quest?

Turns out if I'd been more approachable Eddie would have hired me to scout out the NCR forces. By killing him he obviously couldn't. So I failed the quest by killing the person who would have given it to me before he could give it to me. What sort of bizarre logic is that?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

PS3 Multiplayer COD

I do like reading the Face-Offs in Eurogamer even though the PS3 seems to come off the worst most of the time. however I do dislike possible factual errors or phraseology that paint the PS3 in a bad light.

Take this paragraph from the COD: Black Ops Face-off regarding the multiplayer split-screen option:

Here, Xbox 360 does have what you might call an architectural advantage. Two players can each log in with their own profiles and play with their own unique identities. On PlayStation 3 though, the second player is represented as a sub-player of the main PSN login, so you'd have "DigitalFoundryUK" and "DigitalFoundryUK(1)" as opposed to individual handles. There's nothing Treyarch can do here, as it's the way things are set up on the PS3. Bearing in mind that so few online titles support split-screen, it's not exactly a major issue, but on the other hand this limitation was somewhat apparent on Sony's own Warhawk and the ability to log in with sub-accounts for multiple players surely isn't an onerous element to add to the PSN infrastructure.
So if you want to play with someone else who shares your PS3 they can't use their own profile, how sucky of the PS3. Except doesn't the PS3 only game Resistance 2 have a split screen option, doesn't that allow the second player to pick from an account on the system to use? Why yes it does.

Ah I'm sure what he meant was that two players couldn't be online at the same time using split screen. Wait though doesn't Little Big Planet and Mod Nation Racers allow a combination of 'local' and online players using the local sub-accounts? Why yes it does.

What I'm guessing is the problem is that the servers can't identify the second PS3 player individually and thus can't keep track of their rank using the non-local servers. So it's not a case that two local players can't be online at the same time, merely that the second player won't have their progress/rank tracked by the game's servers which indeed appears to be the case for the PS3.

In that case I agree with the closing sentence, if a game allows you to pick a sub-account to play with there should be no reason that unique log-in cannot be passed on to the game's servers.

Fallout: New Vegas ditch the Karma

Still trying to wrap my head around some of the new features of Fallout: New Vegas in particular Karma and Reputation. In Fallout 3 it was simply Karma - do bad things and you're declared Evil, do good things and be declared a Saint. It was just a bit too simplistic at times, but mostly it worked.

Fallout: NV introduces (or returns to be exact) the notion of reputation. Each settlement or grouping has its own opinion of you; help the town of Goodsprings against the Powder Gangers and you'll be well-regarded by the town and hated by the Gangers and vice versa. This is pretty darn good and allows a greater depth to play... except it also keeps the Karma level.

So help out the town of Goodsprings and then surreptitiously steal a few things from them and your Karma will go down but if you're not spotted your reputation will remain intact. However help Goodsprings and steal from the Powder Gangers and your karma will still go down - que? It seems that the game regards stealing as wrong even if you're doing so to the 'bad' guys.

Okay  I can vaguely see that, except for how the game treats the dead. Kill one of the Gangers and you can happily loot his corpse for no penalty (and possibly a karma gain as he's a baddie) but you can't touch his strongbox without a penalty because that would be stealing.

Now I could understand that being spotted stealing would lower your reputation with that party, but if a) you're not spotted or b) your reputation with them is as low as it can get why should that affect my interactions with others; can they just sense I'm 'evil'?

Sure tie the factions together in a loose web so that if I help the Powder Ganagers I lose reputation from both Goodsprings and the New California Republic and set it so that helping the NCR doesn't increase my reputation with Goodsprings (as they don't care) and decreases my rep with the Gangers, but just ditch this Karma system - it's just pointless.

Correct grammar that sounds incorrect

I forgot to add this yesterday. A single sentence in the morning Midlands news on the BBC - "One in ten beds is taken by someone who does not require it".

Here it's the conjunction of the plural "beds" with the singular "is". As the object under discussion is the one bed (singular) it is correct, it just sounds odd to me at least. Now "Of ten beds one is..." or "For every ten beds one is..." flows more smoothly.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Phil Woolas

For those not following the political news judges have decreed that a re-election for Oldham East and Saddleworth should be held after the former Labour MP Phil Woolas was found guilty of misrepresentation. So how does that work?

Well the original call came under section 106 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 that

makes or publishes any false statement of fact in relation to the candidate’s personal character or conduct shall be guilty of an illegal practice, unless he can show that he had reasonable grounds for believing, and did believe, that statement to be true.
Note that this says nothing about a re-election, but here's where it gets clever. If there are problems with an election anyone can create an election petition to be presented to the Election Petitions Office and make an application to the High Court. Downside is that it costs £5,000 which you either have to pay or show that you can pay - lose and you forfeit the money. This was done by the Liberal Democrat candidate.

Again so what? Well supposedly (because the Act in question isn't available online to check) one of the arguments that can be used is that a person won by making false statements about their opponent(s). So given a majority of only 103 and a guilty verdict under section 106 the judges automatically upheld the petition and called for a re-election.

Two laws, two acts; one result.

More birds?

Meant to ask this a while back - is it just me or does there seem to be more crows and magpies about?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Credit Cards

Just to highlight coincidences just had a call for DaBoss from the bank's fraud department trying to get in touch with him; I took the number and guess what it doesn't appear on their website anywhere. Seriously people this is about security so you might want to actually list the ****ing number that people should call for confirmations sake at least.

Why coincidence? Well I had a letter in the post from Currys informing me that the warranty on my Apple Music Device was about to expire and did I want to extend it? Ah would that be these devices? Good to see joined-up computer systems at work.

Playstation Store slow down with Orange

As mentioned recent downloads from the Playstation store have been running at a snail's pace all week and it seems I'm not the only one finding this. Up steps DigitalEnemy who suggests using the OpenDNS servers and would you look at that I'm back at full speed.

So is Orange routing the PS Store through Antigua or something?

Just some goings on in Stourport

The pedestrian crossing next to Harold Davies Drive is still out from at least Saturday; and Lloyds have put up signs stating they are moving in January 2011 to Unit 4 Sandy Lane Industrial Estate. The old Midland Stock Disposals which is the first left before Barracks Road that was supposed to be some sort of Army Store moving in last June.

So it looks like we'll be getting a car-park sometime in Jan/Feb next year.

Speaking of car-parks 5 cars this morning on the Vale Road one.

Speaking of parking the van parked outside the café next to the Flamingo on the zig-zag lines - yes you were unloading, but note that a) you're on zig-zag lines and b) before you opened up the rear doors to unload you might have noticed that there was nothing parked in the bays in front of you. Never a warden around when you want one.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Fallout: New Vegas mini-review

Having finished The Force Unleashed II before I even realised it I had a quick go with Fallout: New Vegas. It's the same as Fallout 3 with some more polish. It still stutters on loading the next section at times, though loading between doors seems much quicker to me. Shame they haven't updated the AI though.

During the tutorial with Sunny Smiles I beat her to the hill then waited for her to show up and give me a rifle for target practice. The bottles I would be aiming at just appeared out of thin air, I was watching at the time. So shoot, then aim and shoot, then duck and shoot. Then the 'cutscene' jumps in with Sunny addressing you while you're still in the crouched position [sigh].

Then off you can go to kill some critters at the water wells. Sunny and her dog got caught on so many rocks etc. it was hilarious; that was until the game just crashed down after the first shoot out. No it hadn't auto-saved after the quest was complete; so I had to go back through the entire tutorial again.

But this happens a lot - the sticking not the crashing. It seems to be a major problem when there's more than one NPC trying to perform the same action. Two scorpions after me got stuck on each other at a rock outcrop; so did coyotes so did too many to mention.

I also found magazines "Wow that's quick finding magazines that increase your skills" Nope they are one-time only use, but it's a temporary increase only. So there are some changes to the game; but so far it does feel more like an add-on than a full game in its own right.

I'll see how it goes.


Yes I had the Bratii again. The first thing out of Minor's mouth before he even managed to remove his shoes was "Can we play Munchkin Quest? Can we play Munchkin Quest?" repeat four times.

"You do realise that every time you hassle me about this it just makes me not want to play it?" I told him. Anyway we settled down had a chat and then "Can we play Munchkin Quest? Can we play Munchkin Quest?" yeesh!

Major chimed in "You do realise [me] has brought it down ready to play?" he'd spotted it in the corner and I repeated my previous statement with a disappointed "Ohh!" as my answer.

I then presented them with two films, "Monsters Vs Aliens" and "Planet 51". "Have you, do you, want to watch either of these?" I showed them to Major.
"Seen it, not bothered" he replied.
I held them up to Minor
"What?" he spat
"Fine" I replied and put them away.

Playstation Move calibration?

Playing Move with Bratus Minor got me thinking about the calibration of the controller and how it just didn't gel with movements on screen.

The basic calibration is to point the controller at the camera and press the Move button, easy enough except the camera can be placed either on top of or below the screen. Now consider I'm 6ft (ish) and Minor is 3ft (ish). If the camera is on top of the screen I'm level with it, but if it's at the bottom Minor's level with it. So what? Well it's less to do with the camera and more to do with it's position relative to the screen. How does it know that when I move the controller upwards I'm pointing at the middle of the screen, but Minor has to point the controller at a greater angle to accomplish the same? The answer seems to be that it doesn't.

This showed up in the "Tumble" demo calibrate in this way, but hit Circle to reset the centre. Both of us had to constantly reset the centre and it still didn't feel right, you'd point the controller directly at a block on screen and it would be too high or too low - there was no method of 'point the controller at the centre of the screen and then at the corner indicated' which would have been a much better calibration method.

Oh and Minor 'broke' the tutorial by accidentally flinging the block he was supposed to place on the base behind the camera. As that part of the demo hadn't been reached the camera controls were locked out so he couldn't pick up the block despite the urgings of the game.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Science has no answer

As the Shuttle has closed the comments I've no opportunity to reply to Jon except here: (I hope he sees it)

Avoidance Jon? "Whereas in your story we know for sure there isn't a monster with the God question we don't know for sure there isn't a God therefore the two are not analogous." Really and exactly how did you determine there isn't a monster? My story didn't state that and left it open to interpretation which is the entire point. Why can't the existence or non existence of the monster also be agnostic (i.e. not knowable)?

How can you clearly come down on the side of non-monster, but not do so with God?

This is my point which you seem to refuse to see. By classifying the existence of God as unknowable you are not in a position to tell those that have faith in Him (or Them) that the actions they take are wrong as for all you know they may be right. God may be beyond knowledge but still like worship.

Now you argue that your actions don't affect others, that your refusal to come down on one side or another makes no difference to those who worship or don't. Except that's what implicit means, by not countering the actions of those who worship (in particular teaching their children to worship) you are implicitly condoning that behaviour.

Now you've argued that you're not because being agnostic doesn't mean you can't take a position regarding such activity yet your position is based on no greater basis than that of the theists who are doing the worship.

This was the point of my monster analogy and your 'belief' system. The atheist is saying that you shouldn't worship because there's nothing there to worship, the agnostic can't say that because there may well be.

Oh by the way... the BBC is on strike

Switched on the BBC Breakfast show and saw the BBC News (24) desk. Oh great has the broadcaster station accidentally messed up the channels? Watched the news, went to what is normally local news and just got 'adverts' instead. Back to the news and got the headlines, then the splash screen with "BBC Breakfast" written on it; huh? Introduction, another headlines and then he tells us the difference is due to a strike at the BBC.

Yeah sorry I've been watching for twenty minutes and now you mention that?

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Force Unleashed 2 mini-review

As I'm going to be busy for the next few nights I made time to have a quick go on Force Unleashed 2 for the PS3 that I picked up on Saturday.

On installation it found my old FU1 save (wait FU! Huh just realised that) and it told me I had received some bonuses. I couldn't see them at the time as I was just installing it; but now with a chance to play it seems to have given me a lightsaber crystal; it's nice to reward your loyal customers this way.

So the story so far - Darth Vader takes on a secret apprentice (Starkiller) and charges him with discovering who is planning action against the Empire by creating a rebel force. Ironically this is the impetus that actually creates the Rebel Alliance when Starkiller goes rogue. In the official ending Starkiller is killed, yet here he is in the second game - how come? Clones.

Yep he's been cloned on Kamino (where the Stormtroopers were created) and his memories are explained as a result of the forced learning process (sigh). Sadly for Vader this clone seems to have too many original memories and off he goes too.

So that's where the game starts with you trying to escape Kamino and without all your memories it explains why you don't have full access to your powers.

So is it different to the first game - it's more polished and that's about it. The camera is still a pain at times, and the enemy lock is still persistent button push rather than a toggle on/off. Combat seems more fluid; targeting is both easier and more obvious; but there are still glitches.

It does still delight in targeting what the camera can't see. In one instance I moved towards a urn next to a corner in order to Force Grab and throw it towards an unpleasant enemy instead I ended up crushing a wall mounted screen on the corner I couldn't see.

I've also ended up having to restart the game (not the console) when heading up the elevator on the second 'level'. The elevator activates as soon as you step on it with the result that the camera is trying to look through you (so you turn transparent) and the menus are disabled to allow the voiceover of "I've seen how you can fight now how do you run". The elevator reaches the top and... you can't move and the menus haven't been re-enabled.

Speaking of "how do you run" don't you ever learn? There's little more frustrating than forcing the player to run towards the camera and you've made me do it in two levels now. Yes it's dramatic, but it just screws you up because you end up running into the boxes strewn about the place because you can't see where you're going.

Likewise a cutscene whereby your efforts go unrewarded - save the transport you're riding with 100% 'health' and it'll still catch fire and blow up. Sure you're protecting it until you're close enough to jump - but the sequence won't end until you destroy the ship shooting at you so what's the point?

There's also "Challenges" separate to the game (kill these enemies in X time etc.). Accessing them will present you with a non-informative loading screen that sits there asking if you want to cancel. Eventually it'll point out that you're not connected to the internet and are you sure you want to continue. Come on guys doesn't the PS3 have a connected/disconnected toggle? Just check that and state "You're not connected are you sure you wish to continue" rather than sit there for a minute checking. I mean I don't have to sit around waiting for Dragon Age so why am I waiting here?

So what's good about it? Hmm well it seems to have less tearing and they've tidied up the menus Thank The Gods it no longer requires a load between every...single...menu...screen. So yeah more polished, and graphically better but really that's about it.

If you liked the first one, you'll like this; if you didn't there's little here to tempt you.

[Update - I started on Easy mode just to get a feel for the game and ended up finishing before I even knew it maybe 6 hours of play with the need for only two upgrades; so don't play it on Easy]

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

PS3 Still downloading

Nine items to go mostly Dragon Age Origins and Fallout 3, but I've turned it off for the time being after yesterday. Speed had reduced to pitiful amounts I'm talking about getting bored watching Kbs tick over. As this is happening with all the downloads I don't know if it's the Sony Store side or if Orange have got annoyed over this trickle and throttled my connection.

Even though I've an Unlimited plan I'm still bound by Orange's Fair Usage document, however it states that they should inform me if they think I'm abusing the system.

As I've had no contact from them and I'm abiding by their terms to restrict usage outside the peak hours I have to conclude that either they're breaking their own terms or it's Sony's side. Either way I'm going to give it a rest for a bit and see what happens in a day or so.

French- Anglo alliance

So our Coalition Overlords have declared a defence pact with France - we provide the aircraft carriers and they'll provide the aircraft - rimshot :-P

Of course the tabloids are up in arms over the thought that 'our boys' will be taking orders from the French as if that was somehow different to every single joint military operation ever undertaken.

Amusingly if we'd refused the pact I'd bet they'd still be up in arms over how much money maintaining two defence forces cost the taxpayer.

I do wonder how they can get away with this reactionary drivel.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Strictly Come Dancing

For reasons that may or may not have something to do with "Move" I ended up watching Week 5 of "Strictly Come Dancing" with my parents. This is not something I normally watch, but for various reasons I did catch week 4's episode and found I did enjoy listening to the music. This time I watched the dancing too.

Some was good some was bad, I have no idea what the judges were watching with Patsy's performance, but it certainly wasn't the same as us. Compared to what went on before it was amateurish. Speaking of amateurish poor Brucie, is he still writing those jokes? If it's someone else fire them.

Of the 'celebrities' I'd heard of maybe three of them and at times I was asking my father which one was the professional. The star of course was Anne Widdecome, unsurprisingly near the end because as I said at the time "That's who everyone's waiting to see and once they have they'll turn over".

The 'fun' part was predicting the judges scores; very easy to do once the first was presented due to the facial reactions of those who followed.

Meh the music was enjoyable to listen to* and someone did a good job choosing the background music with the training sequences; I'm certainly not going to bother again.

*though it would have been better without the audience whooping every time one of the dancers managed to lift a leg.

[One annoying thing is the BBC's official site for the programme only lists the music for the current episode I ended up at Digital Spy to discover a couple of the tracks I couldn't name. In this instance Supermassive Black Hole by Muse so thank you Fudd for doing what the BBC can't or won't]

Minecraft level design test-rig?

Swapping discs in and out over the weekend left me time to mess more with Minecraft and carve out the main chunk of my 'spiral tower'. As I extended out the catacombs it dawned on me that this wouldn't be that bad as a deathmatch map. Not great, but not bad.

Now the PC versions of a lot of shooter games (and also sandbox games) come with level designers, but some are easier to use than others. I wonder if any one else has considered using Minecraft as a test-rig?

It's very simple to use; it runs pretty much anywhere so creating a level, running a server and allowing testers to run around and shoot each other is easy. Even in single player watching someone get lost or not know where to go next allows fine-tuning; then how simple to carve out the basic layout in the actual level designer for a game.

Sure Minecraft has limitations in that everything is a one-unit cube with no curves, but I wonder how much time could be saved using it for at least a first approximation?

PS3 Move

As mentioned my new PS3 came with "Move" bundled with it. I could have picked "Sports Champions" or a different Move enhanced game, but felt that might be a waste until I knew how well it worked.

A new PS3

Yes the voucher came on Friday - a recorded delivery of an non-personalised gift card that my neighbour signed for.

I had a large choice between the 320Gb bundle and another 320Gb bundle; both with "Move". The more expensive option came with a choice of one game from a selection; none I wanted. The other cheaper bundle a choice of one game from just two FIFA and Medal of Honour; so no choice there and I picked MoH.

Got it back home and found it was exactly the same width as my old PS2 upon which it now rests. It does stick out at the back though. Powered up and restored an old backup. User identity though not with a photo; no game data; no wireless settings; no PSN settings. Blipped through all that easily enough and copied over my old save games.

At this point I discover that some games save the date/time with the save; and some just use the date/time of when they were created. As they're all being transferred over at the same time it was a little difficult to tell which were the most recent in certain games I've played multiple times.

Next it was the installation of the games themselves. Now sure I could have just installed them as I played them; but that would have meant "Hey I fancy playing [X]" and then waiting an hour or more for the patches to download. I have no idea the effect of trying to play version 1.00 of a game with a version 1.10 save, and had no intention of finding out.

So Saturday and Sunday I just swapped discs and let it run ("Little Big Planet" and "Burnout Paradise" - yeesh). Checking some games as I went I knew I hadn't got a "Dragon Age: Origin" nor "Assassin's Creed II" save file as they were protected; but I was surprised to learn I also didn't have a "KillZone2" or "Dante's Inferno" either I'd forgotten they were protected or simply missed them by accident during the back-up.

So all the games installed and patched and I still couldn't play some because I had add-on content to download. As with the different versions I'm disinclined to start a "Fallout 3" save file in the middle of "Broken Steel" when I haven't downloaded it yet. So the rest of Sunday I managed to acquire all the "Borderlands" content and my PS3 is now patiently pulling everything else down.

While I'm loathe to leave it unattended the snails-pace delivery over the weekend means I think that a  school-day may be the best time.

[Damn it I forgot that by default it turns itself off after 2 hours of no activity and it seems that background downloading doesn't count]

Clock change

It's only when I have to change the time do I realise exactly how many bloody time-keeping devices I have. The TV and computers change themselves, but one clock in every room, the oven, the microwave, the washing machine, watches, mobiles, landline phones, and the PS3 which I'd only just set.

Glad it only happens twice a year :-)