Thursday, June 30, 2011

Duke Nukem Forever review

The long standing vapour-ware joke that was Duke Nukem Forever finally got released - can it live up to all the hype? No, then again could anything? The shame of it is that this doesn't even live up to the hype of being a decent game.


It's been an interesting time; as mentioned Tav over at the WFA has been warned about libellous comments on his site; Johann Hari from The Independent has been 'caught' lifting live quotes from written works and Angry Mob has had to remove a story regarding Paul Dacre.

As I've already mentioned the Catch-22 for Tav I'll turn to Hari. The word plagiarism has cropped up; that is claiming someone else's work as your own; is that fair? Hari has supposed lifted written quotes from people and placed them in the context of a live interview complete with body language descriptions etc. His claim is that he has done so only when the verbal conversation was less straightforward than a corresponding written statement. This would be vaguely acceptable if said quotes were lifted from other times he'd interviewed them; except allegedly they're not they're from other people's work. That would be using other people's work and claiming it as your own...

Has he been misleading his readers though? Well no. He hasn't claimed to have held interviews with people he hasn't; he hasn't written about subjects that didn't occur in the interview; and, most tellingly of all, none of the people he's interviewed have charged him with misrepresentation. If they don't care why should we? Well we might not, but the people whose work he's supposedly copied might have a thing or two to say about the matter.

Angry Mob's situation is also interesting as he hasn't directly been asked to remove material regarding Paul Dacre, instead said instructions have been relayed to him via his webhost. As such this falls into the same category I outlined for Tav. Strictly speaking the webhosts are 'couriers' and therefore can't be held accountable for what is published via themselves. However at the same time they will have little interest in defending, possibly in court, one of their clients and so will place pressure on them to cave in. If the webhost removes the 'offending' item they are taking an active role; if they put pressure on the publisher to do so or threaten them with termination of their hosting they show that they'll back down in the face of any threat no matter how ludicrous. If they do nothing they may have to defend their position in court which will cost time and money.

As it stands the ball is firmly in the court of the lawyers - don't like something published on the internet; threaten the hosts rather than the person who published it and chances are you'll get it taken down.

Are there any methods around this? Host your own site, all that can happen then is the ISP disconnects you and you reconnect with any of the multitude offering the same service. Or host your site with a foreign company; such rulings in English courts have zero standing outside our borders and any attempts to sue will have to be laid at the English publisher (as it should be) rather than the foreign host.

Power consumption

I've mentioned my Sony Vaio when in sleep mode seems to consume about 1% of battery life per hour with 15 hours 'off' that leaves me with roughly 85% when I power up in the morning.

I left an Acer laptop in sleep mode overnight and came in to find it had switched to hibernation mode. Battery life was down to 35%. Either it's got a much lower capacity battery or it uses a lot more power in sleep mode... or both.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Libellous comments

One of the topics over at the WFA has shifted (as does almost every thread anywhere) and as a result Fran posted the following:

Some of the comments about John Campion have been pretty libellous and it is Tav, as the site host, who would be legally responsible for all your comments! 
So how does that work? First I need to add the obligatory "I Am Not A Lawyer". Looking at cases where this has arisen the main point used seems to be the difference between passive and active participation.

If I allow anyone to comment and leave all and every such item unchanged, intact and visible, basically doing nothing to them, I am taking a passive role. As such I claim the same protection afforded to ISPs and the Royal Mail. I can't sue the Royal Mail for delivering a libellous letter.

However where this gets interesting (stupid?) is what happens if someone who thinks they have been libelled in one of these comments contacts me informing me of such. What do I do?

If I leave the potentially offending item up after being informed of it I am tacitly endorsing it and can be sued. However if I take it down I lose my passive role and can be subsequently sued possibly for that very comment or future any comments.

This seems to leave the question of moderation in a flux - you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. However judging by the cases it seems to be the degree of activity involved. If the only active role I take is to remove obvious spam and anything that has been requested for removal I should be safe. However if like Tav I corrected spelling or grammatical errors or de-threaded comments to create new thread that would be a much more active role and he might well fall into the double-damned category.

It's a mess and just another example of how so many of the laws in this country haven't caught up with modern methods.

Vaio update joke

Still processing updates since the reinstall and today the VAIO (laptop) software decided to chime. It updated itself and then declared a restart was required. No "Restart Later" and "Restart Now" just an "OK" button; thanks for that not as if I had to stop certain things running in the background.

So one restart later and it needs configuring - fair enough. One configuration later and it's off to look for updates... oh wait no it's not it can't do so until it's updated.

FFS I just did that.

Traffic holdup

Left the house this morning and joined the queue. It's been a while and I was curious as to which of the many, many reasons could be causing it today. A van outside Drinkers World opposite the parking bays? Unloading opposite the bus bay while a bus was stopped half way out of it? The Bewdley bridge being closed and sending traffic through town? Roadworks in Kidderminster sending more traffic down Minster Road?

Turned out to be the old Shell Garage where they're building the sheltered accommodation - they'd closed off the first half of the left-most lane of Vale Road. That meant that as well as being blocked by all the traffic from town wanting to join the right-most queue to enter Gilgal, the road was also being blocked by those wanting to continue straight on.

Because shutting down this major route first thing during the morning rush is most logical thing to do!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A lack of communication from the bank

As mentioned my computer she go phut and I've been busy reinstalling all the software I need back on to it. Everything works except the VPN software I need to access the bank.Now I've already complained about the ancient bit of software the bank was making us use, how it would mess with XP's routing tables and lock out any other bit of software using the network and even bring down the router on occasion. I did manage to get it running on Vista despite the lack of instructions when I obtained my laptop, but this time it just didn't want to behave failing to create a socket.

I tried disabling the firewall, resetting winsock, running various compatibility modes - nothing. So I rang tech support.

"How urgently do you need to make payments?" I was asked
"Not desperate, middle of next month by the latest" I replied
"Oh that's good. We don't use [software] any more as it's a bit outdated I'll send you out the forms so you can apply for [the new method]"

Yeah we've only been using it for a year with various problems necessitating calls to them and no-one thought to offer us this new system. Gotta love them.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Turn right day

From the Shuttle we sadly get another attack the symptom not the cause letter. This time it's about the Worcester Road/ Hartlebury Road island and those who choose to use the right-hand lane from Worcester Road to turn left thereby jumping the queue.

No I don't like it either, but despite some of the comments there's nothing illegal about it; moreover due to the presence of OGL it would be next to impossible for any of their workers to exit cross the exit lane, cross the right-turn lane and somehow manage to get into the left-turn lane due to the sheer volume of traffic; which is the big reason why this action is so often taken.

So why is there so much traffic queueing? [sigh] yes it's my hobby horse again - it's the whole Gilgal/Mitton Street/Worcester Road debacle. There's no point getting upset about those jumping the queue when there shouldn't be a queue in the first place.  So how do we get it solved - gum up the works.

What would happen if everyone turned right to turn left at this exit? It would stop traffic from both the Gilgal end and Hartlebury Road exit from entering the island. Once it started all it would take is one of these cars already on the island to let out one car from Worcester Road provided it can join the end of the circle queue and not block the traffic through to Mitton Street.

It may seem petty and completely unfair on the traffic from Hartlebury Road, but this does seem the only way to point out this flaw in the road network system before Tesco appears on the horizon.

The required alterations as I see them are as follows:

  1. Lowering the height of the OGL island so traffic on the island can be seen.
  2. Merger of the two exit lanes from Worcester Road and widening the entrance lane to where it was before it was re-laid.
  3. Extension of the three splitter triangles so that traffic can't cross straight from one lane to another on the curve, but are forced into a straight on approach.
  4. A red tarmac slowdown on the approach into Gilgal from Minster Road and the same on the turn from Gilgal into Mitton Street.

These things need to be done now before the added traffic from Tesco and the British Sugar redevelopment get started.

Who's with me?

inFamous 2 review

I have now completed inFamous 2 through both endings at the hardest level available. So how was it? It was good. Graphically better than the first, smoother and with a tweaked combat system... it still has its flaws though.

Computer is back

After the massive problems with my laptop the worst came to the worst - a complete factory restoration. Luckily I contracted out to a local company Red7 who copied the contents of the hard drive and then put it back into a subfolder.

So I've spent this morning re-installing the essentials; some of which has been a case of installing and then dropping the 'old' files over the top of the new; some still don't seem to want to work that awful VPN software can't create the socket (I'm guessing McAfee's to blame)

Haven't tried Skype or Steam yet and still some Windows updates to do; but the important stuff is working... so far.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Queries and plotholes in the Harry Potter Universe.

I've just begun re-reading the set of Harry Potter books again (hey I enjoy them), but having done so multiple times certain 'gaps' become more apparent. To set the tone straight these are fictional so no I'm not going to get all worked up about anything; next they're for children, but that shouldn't be an excuse children can be very nitpicky about things; lastly they deal with magic so yes the old "A wizard did it" can sometimes apply. Nevertheless-

The truth about the economy

A simplistic explanation, but in broad strokes correct

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Speed and velocity

I mentioned as part of GCSE Physics that the guide described the differences between speed and velocity; it has been pointed out to me that I neglected to explain what that difference was. Easily remedied - speed is scalar whereas velocity is a vector; there you go.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Major's school

As previously mentioned I was with Major I got him out of the house to show me his school. Not that I was that interested in a building, but it gets both of them away from their consoles and gives my aunt and uncle a short break while they can entertain the 'adults' :-) Also a benefit that I'm the only one who can get Major out the house at all for a walk (again I do well with kids; it's quite the irritation).

GCSE Physics

Major is taking some of his GCSE exams this year. Seems early, but apparently they've decided to split them up over two years rather than drop them all in at the same time. Makes sense to me rather than trying to cram and revise for all the exams they only need to do so for half of them.

This meant that Major had his revision guides lying around so I picked up the one for Physics. Now this is a cramming guide so I didn't expect much in the way of explanation, but I expected more. One of the things it does illuminate is the type of erroneous knowledge exhibited by those who never went beyond GCSE Science.

A good start to the morning

"Windows failed to start" so it went into auto repair mode. Which seems to have worked. I'm guessing that it tried to install a bunch of updates on Friday night and ran out of power thus shutting down halfway through why it tries to update when it's on battery power beats me.

Anyway it seems to have done a system restore as Steam tried to start up despite me telling it not to. Hard drive activity is a bit mad though. I think because the Anit-virus was out of date and Java was trying to update at the same time.


Well I spoke too soon. After constant disk activity the laptop locked up and required a power down. Then it ran the System Repair again; then rebooted and ran it again; then sat there with no disk activity whatsoever for about an hour; I powered it off ran again. Ran system restore and got "cannot create a file when that file already exists" (0x800700b7)" ran a boot disc; system repair couldn't find a problem, ran system restore and got the same message; now it's running repair again and just siting there apparently doing nothing.]

[Out of repair and ran chkdsk with no problems running sfc and again it's just sitting there with the odd flicker of disk activity]. It did warn it'd take a while but half an hour without any indicators!]

[Update - Sony's own hardware test has thrown up an error on the hard drive surface scan I'm running a fix now]

[Update- Then chkdsk ran then failed. Seems ecache.sys is corrupt; a file taht seems to cause no end of fuss on the 'net. Of course there's no copy on the drive you have to get it from the installation CD; you know that one that almost never comes with a pre-installed computer anymore. No it's not on the recovery discs either at least not in any form I can get at.]

Friday, June 17, 2011

Paper woes 2

As mentioned I needed to print on some thickish paper and couldn't find any suitable material with the magic "Canon" brand stamped on it. DECAdry hopefully to the rescue.

They arrived and after running proofs I've printed them off. A4 200g/m2 white postcards with perforations to split them into four A6 'postcards' they have a brilliant matte white finish, almost dazzlingly white. I was concerned over how they'd feed through the printer would they tear along the short edge perforation as they fed through? No they did not. Multiple sheets zipped through the rear-feed with no problems; I suspect if they'd gone through the U-feed cassette they might have torn, but even then maybe not.

Once printed they were dry very quickly and I set to carefully tearing them apart. I needn't really have bothered with the careful part. If you try to tear them along the perforations flat they're quite tough; however fold them (very easily too I might mention) and then tear and they practically float apart. Why can't any other tear-apart forms be like this?

Definitely a product that's going on my re-use list should I require anything similar in the future.

And no I'm not being paid or sponsored by them; it's just nice to find exactly what you want that works exactly the way it should.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Infamous 2 first impressions

I picked up the Special Edition of Infamous 2 on Saturday; fired it up and then waited for the patch to install. That's not the best of signs. After the game installation I cancelled out and used my code to pick up my extra content from PSN. Which doesn't seem to have installed in the game. So that's not good either.

[Update - The DLC will install if and only if you're online when you play or load a game. After that it sticks, but you have to be online initially]

I really liked Infamous 1 - a parkour game where you could shoot lightning out of your hands; it had its niggles, but the game was solid and it had an actual storyline that fleshed out the basic go here and do that missions. Infamous 2 takes the same approach; of course at the end of the first you were amped up with powers so they create a rather good excuse to depower you and at the same time introduce a sense of urgency to your actions.

Monday, June 13, 2011


We have a new contributor to the Shuttle blog roll a Mr Steve Cook and I hope that his initial posts are not an indicator of future ones. He starts off with an attack on Fructose which sadly repeats many scare stories that have been bandied about.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Business efficiency

A visit yesterday from the meter reader resulted in an interesting chat. He was having trouble finding some properties on his list. He had the names, but on his screen so many were the equivalent of 'ACME Ltd, Stourport DY13 nxx'; really useful.

So I fired up Google Maps tapped in the business name and showed him where they were. He was impressed, but more so in that if available Google shows the telephone number of the business. He stated he'd download the package to his phone; later he came back and showed me that although it was showing the location it wasn't bringing up the same information I'd been getting.

"Have you tried tapping on the business name?" I asked
One tap later and "Oh that is going to save me a lot of time"

The most interesting/amusing/worrying bit was discussing the paucity of information he was given to locate properties on his machine. After showing the ability of Google Maps he told me -

"Tonight I'll go home and go through the machine listings and write them down in my notebook along with the information I can get from this [Google]"

I laughed

"No seriously I've a notebook and a set of different coloured pens and I go through the machine's listing each night. When I first started this job I'd visit each property as it appeared on the screen; but what happened was that I'd visit a property in [Areley Kings; W. of the river] then another in [Millfields; E. of the river] then it would send me back to [Areley Kings]. So now I go through them and arrange them all in groups. It saves so much time let alone diesel"

"But can't the machine order properties by postcode?" I asked incredulously



Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Playstation 3 clock

I mentioned back in October needing my fix when my original PS3 went Yellow Light of Death on me and thus dragging out my old original PS2. I related there how surprised I was that over 3 years powered down the internal clock had only gained ten minutes.

I came to update my parent's PS3 and to try to tempt them with the freebies on offer from the Welcome back package. Whilst doing so I noted the system clock 8:52 as it was 8:20 that's a touch fast. I headed through to Settings|Date and Time and reset it via the internet... 7:21. Um? Yep still set up for GMT not BST. That means since I last set it up just over two months ago it's gained an hour and a half!

Although the time difference was surprising the fact that it gained time wasn't. My own gains about a minute every couple of days and needs constantly resetting and no there's no auto-check available that it will run on start-up and connection to the internet.

Given my original PS3 didn't suffer from this nor my original PS2 what sort of cheaparse timer has Sony replaced the original chip with?

Naomi and Cadbury's

Still stuck in the news is the advert from Cadbury's - 'it's racist' said the model Naomi Campbell. For those who've yet to see the advert in question it's a picture of a Cadbury's Dairy Milk Bliss bar with the caption "Move over Naomi, there's a new diva in town.".

So Naomi registers shock about being "described as chocolate", but presumably she's fine with being called a diva?

An item on the Independent agreed that it was racist and moved that was so bad was not that it was racist, but that Cadbury's didn't even see what was wrong with it. Well I'm joining Cadbury's the only reason I can see this as racist is because I've been told it is. I don't think of Naomi Campbell as being black I think of the newspaper articles where she allegedly throws things at her staff; you know behaving like a 'diva'.

Also how breathtakingly arrogant that Campbell assumes that this is referring to her; why not WWE Diva - Naomi; or 90210's Diva Naomi Clark. Well okay probably is referring to her, but still.

So is this really racist or are some* people just seeing what they want to see?

* and when I say some I don't just mean people affected, but those up in arms 'on their behalf' even when those they're supposedly acting for aren't bothered.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Paper woes

A need has arisen to print out some invitations on the new Canon office printer; matte, A6 postcard-ish size, sturdy paper. I check the specs to see what weight it'll take... 105g/m2 that's thick paper; not good enough. However it will take up to 273g/m2 with "supported Canon special media".

Great so do they do any postcard paper? No they don't. Matte A4, Matte A3; nothing perforated, nothing below A4 that's not Glossy. Oh but they do postcard prints... complete with ink for the Selphy postcard printer. I ended up on Amazon and some DECADry perforated postcards at 200g/m2.

Might be too thick, but it's got a rear feed so it doesn't have to bend that much. If it doesn't work we're out a tenner; if it does huzzah.

Oh and I did try phoning Canon to ask, but sat in a queue for 10 minutes being told that they were busy helping other people.

Wipeout HD and Fury

As mentioned as a Welcome Back (more like a We're really really sorry) Package Sony gave its PSN users two free games from a choice of five. Already owning three made it not much of a choice of at all. And so I downloaded Dead Nation and WipeOut HD. Finding myself with some spare time I tried out Wipeout HD first.

HDMI Cable

Sunday night I fired up my blu-ray player; the TV switched to the correct input and displayed.... nothing. It's done this before usually the cable's been jiggled; unplugging and re-plugging normally does the trick. Not this time though. Much swearing as I grope my way around the back of the television and the teeny-tiny HDMI socket; still nothing.

I remove the cable and try it the other way around; yeah sounds daft but you'll be surprised how often that works. Still nothing. I take out the cable and look at the connectors to make sure nothings got stuck in them... one of the damn pins is missing. Pin 19 on the diagram. Except that's the Hot Plug or HEC channel; if that's gone why can my TV still detect and switch over? [Update - Tcch I was thinking upside down it was Pin 2]

Oh well nothing else for it, but to pick up another cable. Just annoying because, as I've said, it's been acting up before and I've no idea if the cable has always been faulty or somehow been damaged by me.

[Update - and it works fine so far; in fact as I have two I'm tempted to switch one out for the PS3 connection that occasionally blanks out for a second; although saying that at least the picture always returns]

Friday, June 03, 2011

The War on Drugs

It's taken a while but a high-level international report has finally been produced that tells us what we've all known about the 'war' on drugs - it doesn't work, hasn't worked and has probably caused more harm than if nothing had been done. Shame that just like all the previous patchwork national reports it'll probably be ignored.

Go and read it. It's such a breath of fresh air I can understand why the Daily Mash spoofed it with the headline "People reading drug report double check they are not on drugs" It's clear, concise and mercilessly sets out the evidence that the policies governments around the world have been following have failed miserably. It does have some small gaps though.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Breaking contract law?

This morning a small article on the Green Home loan that's being pushed by the government; a bit late as it was announced back in March last year! How does this scheme apparently work?

Well it appears some minor modifications have taken place since it was announced. A home owner takes out a loan for up to £10k from a private company (not the government) and 'green' their house. The loan is paid back over 20/25 years (sources differ) through garnishing of the energy bills. The theory is that through the added efficiency you save, say, £100/period through using lower amounts of energy and the bill has a £100/period surcharge to pay off the loan. Yeah that sounds tempting - I get to pay exactly the same amount of money, but hey I'm doing my bit for the environment and in theory it should boost the value of my property.

And that's where the title I've given this entry comes from - what happens if you move? In every circumstance the loan taken out is tied to the person who took it out because it's a civil contract and you can only make civil contracts with people. This is why we have the legal fiction of businesses being able to classify itself as a person just so as to make contracts legal (as well as diminish the financial responsibility of the owners)

But in this green loan the repayments are being done via the energy bills. So I take out this loan; and pay the same bill amount; then move house. Do I still pay the same amount in my new house - what it it's less efficient; what if it's more? Amazingly the government has spotted and tried to solve this problem by linking the loan to the property.

Great! Except remember what I just said about contracts being only valid between people.The way out of this is that the original owner is responsible for the debt then upon selling the property the new owner takes legal responsibility for repayments. The contracts remain between people. Therefore a condition of sale on the property is to take on the debt.

This way Company A loans money to Person 1 (who is expected to pay it back), but then Person 2 takes on that responsibility and Person 1 pays nothing more. So if this is the case why the need to specify that the loan links to the property. If Person 1 sells the property, but doesn't get Person 2 to take on the debt it's still owed by Person 1; that's the law.

As such there's no need to change contract law to link the loan to the property; it's up to the seller to get the buyer to take on the debt. If they don't they still owe the money.

A hypothetical traffic experiment

The currently sectioned off area of Lion Hill has both bright reflective barriers and a plethora of cones indicating its presence. On a purely hypothetical note I wonder what the effect would be if a couple of the cones were misplaced so as to sit on the cross-hatched area leading at the meeting of Worcester Road and Gilgal with Mitton Street so as to prevent traffic moving directly from one lane to the other as soon as they pass the splitter?

Knock on effects

It's half-term for most of the schools and the effect on traffic means it's much quieter in the mornings; busier in the day and slightly less busy in the evening. So imagine my surprise when I joined the Worcester Road queue before reaching Cook's.

"An accident, something happened" I wondered

Then it struck me - the right-hand lane of Lion Hill had been closed all day; was it still closed? The answer turned out to be yes, but why would this affect the traffic?

With that lane of Lion Hill closed traffic from the town wanting to use it is being diverted up Vale Road and into Gilgal then Mitton Street; yup it's that infamous trio again. Despite Worcester Road having the right of way into the left-hand lane of Mitton Street everyone treats it as a priority junction; with Gilgal getting the priority (as I've complained about ad nauseum). With traffic only entering when nothing else is coming down, the extra traffic means less cars getting out from Worcester Road.

Less exiting builds a queue back to the island which is prioritised towards Hartlebury Road. So even when the traffic slackens or is stopped from that source the Worcester Road traffic still can't get out because the queue is that far back. So a queue builds up there.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011


Lord Ashcroft has published his findings for Project Blueprint (how to get a Conservative majority in the next election) what makes this interesting is the publication of some of the raw data gleaned from the general public.What makes this more interesting is how relatively useless this is.

As an explanation I'll go step by step through what a poll is and how it might not always work.