Thursday, December 23, 2010

Assassin's Creed 2: Brotherhood Shop Quests

One other item that crops up in Assassin's Creed 2:Brotherhood (AC2:B) are shop quests. Some of those shops you've re-opened can often special products provided you find some special items. None of this has been explained up to the 3rd memory sequence; so it might get explained later when it's too late.

Assassin's Creed 2: Brotherhood

Having aced Assassin's Creed 2 and finally got the Platinum Trophy I started in on the sequel. Hmmm so how do they reconcile Ezio's big mansion, huge income and awesome array of weaponry and armour with starting a new game. Cannonballs - everything can be solved with cannonballs.

Twinges in my old age

Well the top of my right leg still aches a little from my expedition yesterday. I'm not saying it's old age and my generally unfit state; okay it is my old age and generally unfit state - hah no I've done that sort of mileage before with no problems. It was the combination of an uneven surface and the slipperiness that had my muscles tensioning in the wrong places.

Thought it would have gone by now, but hey ho that's the way it goes. The roads this morning are pretty clear; though not through any application of salt/grit by my reckoning. How can I tell? Well it's something to do with the fact that the roads are only clear where traffic drives whereas a heaping of salt would affect the entire width.

Interesting to note what line cars take when they can see neither lane markings or pavements - the first major corner on Mitton Street for instance is an education and I urge traffic engineers to go and look at the paths cut out by the cars before it melts. Have I said it's a tight corner - this is vindication. Not one single car naturally followed the line of the road they were all about a foot or two on the outer bend cutting into the inner curve. Same goes for the entrance to it from Worcester Road - no-one makes the corner as indicated.

Now recall this is the road that's going to get all the extra traffic to Tesco and is supposedly going to be narrowed and you can see why I think this is important. It's not going to be pretty.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

How the universe mocks me

Staying in, not going out. Call just past nine. Pipe burst can't get at the stoptap.

Just walked the couple of miles into work. Roads nasty, pavements worse.

Picked up supplies on the way back. Knackered.

Don't bother

Three quarters of an hour clearing the drive this morning. Then the queue of cars started to build. Seems there's trouble getting up the hill into Stourport.

"What hill?" I was asked by those I duly passed this information on to.
Yep no-one seems to think of that slope that way.

And now it's started snowing again. Think I'll stay out of my car and stay at home.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

World facts and figures

A comment from the Patriot had me digging up my population spreadsheet form 2008; sadly I don't have ethnicity or POB on it, but it was interesting (for me at least) to look at once again.

In essence I have each country, the total land area, the total water area, the total population the breakdown into 0-14, 15-65, 65+ age bands and the median age for each. Some countries are blank, but not many all taken at the time from the CIA World Book.

The fun with water

Yesterday I was told that the tap in the factory had frozen, the ones in the office were still working so they could fill up there; likewise the toilets were also fine. Just afterwards I discovered that the sink wasn't draining. Suspecting the same cause I added some boiling water and used a different sink. At which point I discovered a leak from the out pipe of that sink. Joy!

Hmm water in the other sink is coming out of the leak. Makes sense if it flows in that direction and the blockage is further along.

This morning same thing, however someone had left the tap running in the factory; it filled the sink which was also blocked and started coming out of our leak. Ah the water runs our way.

The guys bucketted the sink to stem the flow and it's down to a trickle. Tracing the route it flows to an outside pipe which I've just wrapped a hot towel around; let's see if that helps.

Oh and I am of course glad that's it's the outflow pipe and not the inflow one.

At the same time I decided to clear the front door entrance as I was getting fed-up of traipsing snow into the corridor during this to-ing and fro-ing and wanted somewhere to stamp my feet. All fun.

What are you, stupid? Part 2

Just this morning turned right out of a junction very slowly, followed by a flatbed van. I felt the wheels give slightly as I turned, but as I do in these conditions I was a) driving slowly and b) steering as gently and smoothly as I could; so nothing unpleasant occurred.

The van behind me on the other hand, slid a foot the left and ended up pointing at a rough 15 degree angle from the pavement as they compensated.

Ah well these things happen, except... as I tootled along at 15-20mph (it was relatively clear, flat, and straight) he came right up my arse. Seriously dude you know these roads are slippery because you've just slipped around on them. What do you think is going to happen if I have to stop suddenly because some idiot's just pulled out or walked out in front of me?


Monday, December 20, 2010

What are you, stupid?

Let me paint the current conditions on the roads around here. They still appear ungritted/unsalted. The passing traffic has created a double line of slush; it's still below zero out there; ergo slush-ice. As such may I make the following remarks.

1) You may think you can travel at 50mph along this stretch of road, I don't. As I'm the one in front of you suck it up. Sitting on my backside will not make me travel any faster. It will, in fact, make me travel slower so if (when?) you cause an accident it will be at low speeds.

2) Although I approve of leaving a larger degree of space between yourself and the car in front during these conditions this doesn't apply when you are a) in a non-moving queue or b) on a hill with that gap being the only level bit of the road. (Seriously on the bridge we ended up with one car on the downslope and the following car on the upslope with no-one on the flat between).

3) While polite to allow cars and pedestrians out particularly when you are travelling at such slow speeds; it is impolite to stop on a hill to do so. Particularly when said waiting vehicle/pedestrian are the ones on the level bit of road.

4) Those pretty yellow lights that can flash on the side of your vehicle are there for a reason, more so in these conditions.

5) You shouldn't be parked that close to corners anyway. Do you really think that it's a good idea to be doing so in this weather?

6) Pedestrians. Amazingly enough the brakes on vehicles aren't 100% effective in this weather; trying to cross the road should be done at the appropriate places; and no an appropriate place isn't 'when you want to'.

7) Council. While we appreciate you sanding the pavements perhaps it should be done a) after you've done the roads and b) not during the lunchtime traffic.

That is all (so far)

Surely a mistake in PSN pricing?

Over the weekend while browsing the Playstation Store I spotted a couple of add-ons for Force Unleashed II or (FU2 as I really love calling it). Some extra skins to change the appearance of the character and a bonus mission.

As I found the game slightly repetitive and overly short I was about to pass on by when I spied the price - 79p each. What's the catch? No catch - a bunch of skins and a whole mission.

Now when you can be charged 79p each for a skin and mission's range around the fiver mark; how could I resists the £1.58 allure of content? Short answer I couldn't.

So was it supposed to be 79p each and £7.99 for the mission? All the sites have it listed as 79p so I guess not; but hell guys way to make all the other companies look like profiteers. Keep it up.

Playstation Move calibration take 2

So having read the instruction and being in a position to do so; I calibrated the Move controller with the PS3 as I should have done in the beginning. Or at least I think I have.

Well done ITV and Channel 4 and to Sony.

Applause to both ITV and Channel 4 who now have dedicated Playstation 3 websites for their on-demand service and applause to Sony for so quickly getting them added to the TV section of the XMB. I will note that they only seem to appear once you signed in just like the iPlayer did; but they are now permanent additions.

So that's the three big ones all working on the PS3 properly; just Five to go.

The Christmas Story

Just some questions for all you good Christians out there for this time of year.

Okay not Christmas-ey; but Evan Almighty was on so firstly -

How many of each animal did Noah take aboard the Ark?

Now a couple of Christmas ones -

In what building was Jesus born?

and finally -

How many kings visited Jesus at his birth?

Saturday traffic

For various reasons I wanted to go into Kidderminster Saturday morning. It had just started snowing, but it was light. I set off and it got heavier; carefully through town; along the duel-carriageway and the flakes got larger; no more of them just bigger.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The new Apple Mac Book Air review

For reasons I won't go into I got my hands on one of the new 11" MacBook Air's yesterday and had to set it up with various programmes etc. As a Windows/PC user of long-standing what did I think?

Spreading gritty joy

I'd like to thank the driver of the grit lorry last night for their kind actions in salting not only my car but all those before me.

What's that you say? The salt is supposed to go on the road and not the cars? Well then perhaps I might offer the point that spreading it during the evening rush hour on a road known for its long queues of vehicles might not be the best of ideas.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Newton's Laws part 2

I finished my related dream about a lesson plan for Newtonian physics with a question. If there is an equal but opposite force in every reaction and there's nothing to stop the Earth moving, why doesn't the Earth move down when you jump?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Changing a lightbulb

How many people does it take to change a lightbulb?

1.But it can take many more to work out exactly which type of lightbulb it is.

Well it's a screw-type an Edison, but not an Edison exactly the fitting's too small. A Small Edison Screw (SES) still too small a fitting. Must be a Miniature Edison Screw (MES) then.

What's the voltage? Um. What's the amperage? Um. So we order a few MES bulbs of various voltages. They're too small. So something between a SES and an MES; oh must be a CES - Candelabra Edison Screw

The differences in the ES diameter: MES - 10mm; CES - 12mm; SES - 14mm. Oh yes I can see exactly why three different types are required here... sigh.

Video game education

Another family occasion and I ended up watching Bratus Major playing Oblivion on his Xbox while we both chatted to his mates via headset. He was getting bored with the game as getting tedious, I had the same thought when I played it until I created the chameleon suit. 100%+ undetectable; just fun to go wild in. There are some prerequisite quests first though and he was stuck on a Mage's Quest one; he needed a particular spell and couldn't find it.

"I've tried all the Mage's Guilds" he told me
I furrowed my brow in thought "Have you tried the University?" I asked

Treacherously stubborn

With the snow and ice that favourite word of the media comes into play apparently roads and pavements are treacherous -

"O faithful pavement, in thee I place my trust"
"'Tis true thy faithful servant I will ever be"
[slips and falls]
"Gadzooks what's this, mine feet doth move, mine head doth fall"
"Ah-hah 'tis I thy servant no more; my loyalty as fickle as the snow to whom my lot hath fallen"
"Treacherous cur that doth deceive me so"

This morning I discovered that numbers were "stubborn to fall" I can imagine them standing there with placards "Hell no we won't go".

Why these need to anthropomorphise things? None of us are immune - computers 'play up' or 'refuse' to work. Is it an inherent characteristic, or that our language structure is arranged such that these descriptors came into existence due to social interaction and we lack any other kind?

Inception review

I can see why there's a mixed response to the film Inception. It deals with the blurring of lines between the dream world and the real world, the conscious and subconscious; it throws the viewer into these worlds and tries to pose deep philosophical questions. Except it doesn't.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I change my mind on the Hartlebury Incinerator?

I dealt with the pros and cons of the proposed Hartlebury Incinerator at the beginning of the year and from the arguments presented came down on its side. However as seems to be the case with our current form of trickle-feed government some more information has been exposed over at the WFA.

So no more NIMBYism or potentially biased sources 'tainting' the discussion.

The incinerator is a private enterprise, therefore the council will have to pay by the ton to have it incinerated; this is fair enough. However it appears that there isn't enough waste generated within the county to meet the burner's capacity. So what? Well if capacity isn't met it seems that the council will make up the shortfall in expected revenue.

This isn't much different to a standard locked in contract - you sign up to telephone services (e.g.) for 2 years at a certain rate. The rate set is predicted on you using their services for that period, if you try to leave they might not yet have made any profit out of you and therefore include a clause to charge you to make up the potential loses.

This leads to the question posed by Louise essentially - what's to stop the incinerator opening up a recycling centre next door? So they get paid by the ton; remove the recyclable bits, get paid for selling that; get paid for generating electricity; and then get paid if it's not enough waste.

It gets worse - are they paid by the ton delivered, or by the ton burned? If it's the latter by recycling more they are reducing the weight which automatically qualifies them for the shortfall money. How much do they get and how is this decided - we don't know. It's our old friend company confidentiality.

What we have here seems to be a standard government type PFI contract - you take the profits; we'll take the risks. The assumption in all these cases is that the incentive is for the private company to exceed the targets to make more money over the base stipulation. Except there's also an incentive to do nothing except maximise the profits via a reduction in quality etc. - if I get paid a fixed fee regardless of my output and can  increase my spending money by either working harder or cutting my costs... which road will be taken?

Delivery failure

Once again someone's spoofing my email address to send out mass emails, which means I get a ton of delivery failure messages I need to sort out. Now if the recipients used the Sender Policy Framework this wouldn't be so much of a problem because none of these messages have been sent from the server they claimed to have come from.

What the receiving server does is ask the apparent sending server "Did you send this?" If the reply is no then it's most likely to be spam.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Planning Contradiction?

Without getting into too many details received a letter acknowledging an objection to a planning application

[...] this application is not scheduled to be determined by the Planning Committee.

If you wish to speak at the Planning Committee on this application you must: [...]

Do you want to talk to the Committee about an application they aren't deciding? And the point of that would be?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Assassin's Creed 2 - No-hitter

Well I said that the no-hitter trophy in Assassin's Creed 2 would be the most difficult, but didn't say why.

Kill 10 enemies while remaining in combat without taking a hit; sounds simple enough why the hassle? Well the guards roam in groups of three so you have to lead one set to another and they tend to cluster in packs of... three. Manage to find 12 and you can guarantee that 3 of them have set up across an alley to cut off your 'escape'. Kill the set chasing with you and the combat will end because these three aren't engaged with you.

Better yet the best way to avoid being hit is to block and then counter - an insta-kill; however show too much flair and some of the guards will, quite rightly, run away fleeing for their lives; bringing the total below 10. So what to do?

Well tips include killing the monks who become hostile, um no I think not; or using smoke bombs; again not my style. So how to remain in 'proper' combat and get the trophy - Lorenzo de Medici. During the assassination attempt in sequence 4 there's around 12 guards, you remain in combat mode, they won't run away, and as a bonus there's no innocents around and plenty of space. Double bonus if you get hit you can just abort the memory and start from scratch it's only a single cut-scene away. Excellent

HMV Kidderminster

So I mentioned a while ago on the WFA what Kidderminster needed and mentioned a HMV or the like... so when did an HMV open In Kidderminster? It's hidden behind the stalls on a Saturday opposite the exit from the Roland Hill Centre. It's a bit cramped, not helped by a 'let's put a board and a end-aisle stack next to the only entrance/exit' style. But hey HMV way to go!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Attack on Royalty

Yes, yes Charles and Camilla's car ended up worse for wear, but let's be honest any limousine would have had the same happen to it regardless of its occupants. What's worse is the response to this, I'll ignore "attack on democracy" for the same reason as "contempt of..." as well as the fact they represent a hereditary system that's hardly democratic.

What is appalling is this thinly veiled threat from the Metropolitan Police Commissioner

"The officers who were protecting the Royal Highnesses showed very real restraint. Some of those officers were armed,"
Gosh how restrained, perhaps they should get commendations; and while they're picking up their awards for not shooting unarmed civilians they can be asked what the hell they were doing allowing this car to drive through the middle of a riot?

Actor or Actress?

Something that came up the other day in a quiz - the use of the word actor to demote both male and female thespians. I've always used actor as male and actress as female, but it seems my father is not in favour of that. Now this might be a simple shift in language usage to make in gender neutral, but is this a new shift or a return?

Actor derives from the Latin actus (to do) and -or to turn it into a masculine noun therefore actor is a 'male doer'. In Latin the opposite suffix is -rix therefore the feminine version should be actrix. So what happened? Well it seems the alternative suffix -issa was used this has devolved in English to -ess and became actress. Therefore actor should denote a male, and actress (or better yet actrix) a female.

So on the same subject comedian and comedienne? This time the derivation is Greek and that language uses participles to denote agents with the words themselves being male/female/neutral. In this instance it seems that that the -enne suffix was added in French and carried over into English. Therefore strictly speaking a comedian can represent both a male and a female.

Huh you learn something new every day.

Contempt for democracy

With the current student protests that old stand-by phrase of the papers rears its ugly head "They're showing their contempt for democracy". Over two years ago I briefly touched on the origin of this word I shall reiterate a little more fully this time.

Democracy as a word is made up of two parts demos and cracy; the former means People the latter Power put together they mean People Power (in bad Latin you could have Puellacracy - Girl Power; though Gynaecocracy would be better).

So if a group of people choose to exercise their power how can they be showing a contempt for democracy? Of course they could be showing a contempt for the democratic process; but that's a whole other thing - the simple fact that the voting system and government system is under review and has changed in the past show that the process and what the process creates are not one and the same.

So next time you read "contempt for democracy" ask what those the authors castigate want to replace the current system with (theocracy, meritocracy, anarchy, demarchy) or are they simply protesting the current government - if it's the latter they're not showing contempt for democracy and you can happily ignore the rest of the column as being written by someone who knows not what they write about.

Turning corners

Am I just getting curmudgeonly and noticing it more or is it increasing? I'm talking about cars turning corners and ending up on the wrong side of the road. If that happens you were travelling too fast. If the bend was sharper than you thought - you weren't paying attention to the road; and if the corner was hidden then you should have slowed down anyway.

Now sure larger lorries etc. need room to swing out; and occasionally they might veer slightly onto the wrong side either entering or leaving the corner, but even there they seem intent on travelling too fast for the circumstances.

What causes this? Hmm well last night driving along the Dunley Road I crossed the Bridge out of town with nothing behind me. I was travelling at 30mph (the maximum limit), when I reached the Rough I had four cars behind me; the one directly behind me so close we could have decided to just car-pool instead.

Turning a corner I indicated well in advance and started to slow down, still right on my arse. Now I can imagine how intimidating this could be and the urge to not slow down as much as you normally would and take the corner quite fast. Once you get into the habit of that I can see how you judgement could be impaired even without the intimidation.

So yeah a whole other thing - back off; seriously tempted to get one of those light-up signs saying exactly that or perhaps "I'm a cop" let's see if they give me the correct amount of room then.

Retirement Homes

I noted yesterday that the fences were coming down around the old Shell garage in Vale Road; but this has happened before. However this morning they've got some equipment in - are they finally clearing the site ready to build the flats?

With few parking spaces on the plan perhaps WFDC will see a profit out of the once-free car-park opposite after all.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

International arrest

Depending on who you read Assange (he of Wikileaks) has been detained either via a Red Notice issued by Interpol or using an European Arrest Warrant both of which originate from Sweden.

Has he be charged with anything - nope; he's wanted for questioning. What's heating this up are the rumours that the USA are already in discussion with Sweden about extraditing him despite the fact that, as of this moment, the US have levelled no charges against him.

What is this a face-saving exercise - the US want to ensure the Swedes will say yes before they try to charge him?

Now I've touched on so-called International law before and just how little sense it can make in this electronically connected world so consider how it works in this context. The US can't prosecute for hacking; Assange didn't hack the systems. Receipt of stolen goods? But they were given to the company not him personally. Espionage - but Assange isn't a US citizen nor was he in the US at the time the 'crime' happened; but hey when has that ever stopped them before?

So let's assume they'd charge using the Espionage Act in that Assange copied documents pertaining to national security - great except that law doesn't exist outside the USA - so they have to ask his host country to extradite him; so why should they?

Consider if an American tourist in the UK is robbed, and the culprit found. Should the USA ask for them to be extradited to be judged and convicted there? The crime happened in the UK. How about a UK citizen robs an American in the US then flees back home? The crime happened in the US.

All simple so far, but what if we have the first instance that of a 'crime' against an American (or America as a person) that is only considered such in the native country of the victim and not the host country? That's the situation here; well hey just wash our hands and turn them over. Except now consider the case of Aasiya Bibi in Pakistan sentenced to death for blasphemy.

So what - well take a look at the internet for American preachers proclaiming that their Christian faith is the one true faith and exhorting readers to let in Christ etc. What happens if an Iranian or a Pakistani read these sites? Under their law, it seems, these preachers have committed a crime. Would the US willingly extradite them all? I think not.

So if it's the case that the US are attempting to prosecute under a law that doesn't exist outside their own country - no country should extradite him and Assange is perfectly safe unless he visits the US or the CIA rappel through his window and kidnap him. Of course that won't be the case and I'm betting Sweden would happily uphold America's request while at the same time America would refuse to uphold the blasphemy charges of Pakistan.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Pretty as a picture

Hartlebury Common is simply stunning at the moment. The denuded trees have all grown white leaves from the tiny icicles that have formed on them. Combined with the current sunlight that has yet to melt them - stunning. As you might expect I have no camera to hand.

Aunt Sallys

An interesting piece by Enemies of Reason; it does get tiring - in local form how many times can I discuss Vale Road car-park or the Single Site?

However what strikes me is the tone of those he's commenting about. It's all about relativity - they had this income, now they have less. Instead of being to waltz around shops and pick up that marvellous handbag; or not have to worry about filling up the tank on the car as the business takes care or it; they now have to think about these things, something they've either never had to do or not had to do in a long time and it hurts (them) and they want to share their pain.

The trouble is what they're moaning, whining, or occasionally simply relating about is having to drop to a lifestyle that the majority may experience. As such they set themselves up with two groups targeting them - those that are miffed s/he is complaining about having to live like them and those that are miffed that s/he is complaining about a way they themselves can no longer reach due to the recession.

All these stories do is cater to those who are still comfortable in an effort to make them feel sorry for the writer while allowing them to spare not a thought for those whom this is a standard or desirable lifestyle.

As such they need to be pilloried at every opportunity to shake them from their self-obsessed complacency.

Too many games

Okay Assassin's Creed Brotherhood was going cheap and I had a voucher satisfied :-P But that's it no more game buying for me - I've still got DLC in Fallout 3 to go through as well as a whole new neutral character to create. I've still got Fallout: New Vegas with a possible three runs there.

I've still got Medal of Honour and Frontline that came with it (damn you MoH) As well as Borderlands for sheer kicks; Prototype to finish once I can recall how to play the bloody game. I suppose I've got Oblivion to finish (it just got tedious, but I've made it more fun with my invisibility suit so I might just see how it ends now) and oddly Little Big Planet - sounds pitiful, but it got really hard and finicky in the later levels.

Sacred 2 - yeah just need an interrupted run there due to the stupid no pause no insta-save 'feature'. And I suppose there's some other games to tweak the trophies out of if I really want to (which come to think of it I'm not really that bothered about for most of them).

So what am I doing at the moment - playing Assassin's Creed 2 again. I only started it to get a save file (remember it's protected and so went poof along with my dead console) to see if AC:Brotherhood would use it - no it doesn't. But I thought "I'll just take it up to the bit where..." and then "Well I might as well get them out of Florence" [sigh]. Ah well I am 94% on the trophies so I might as well see if I can polish off Kleptomaniac, Fly Swatter (easy the pair of them) and No hitter(that's going to be hard) and thus receive the 'you've got them all' final trophy.

So anyway no more game buying for me... well until InFamous 2 and Bioshock: Infinite come out anyway :-)

Fallout 3: A tale of good and evil

For those who've never played it Fallout 3 features a Karma system - do good things and get good karma do bad things and get bad karma; it's even possible to try and stay neutral. Each path produces different results within the game world and if you've only experienced one you're missing out.

I've taken my good character to level 20; but my evil character (named Twonk) is now level 30. The trophies had been added to the game during my first run, so I went back and ran another good character up to near the end of the game; then started an evil character. Then the DLC was released which pushed the cap to 30 hence the disparity.

So what was different? It was disconcerting not to have someone running up to me in Megaton saying how wonderful I was and handing me a present; possibly because I'd turned it into a radioactive crater. I noted that I didn't get the same thanks in Tenpenny Tower (those who'd bribed me to blow up Megaton), but was pleasantly surprised when I visited the Slaver compound of Paradise Falls and had someone run up to me to tell me what a badass I was and to please take this. Also amusing to note when I bumped into someone it was all "I'm really, really sorry" instead of "Watch where you're going" Oh yeah me badass.

It also freed up my choice of companions I ignored Dogmeat (the dog) and picked up the former mercenary from Megaton; I also debated over taking the ghoul. Nothing really to stop me hiring them as a good character; just not in character to do so.

It also freed up some conversation choices, not only giving me specific "Evil Karma" choices; but allowing me to use some such as "[Strength] Tell me before I kick the shit out of you" which would have impacted negatively on a good character.

Also a joy just to see what happens when you kill every good character you see. I could have made the game much harder by killing doctors and traders, but they're useful to me so I left them alone I just killed their friends and family instead hah :-P

Being evil also gave me a free rein in my choice of perks - how can you take Cannibal as a good character? Or Sandman which allows you to kill sleeping NPCs instantly? I also found myself taking a more gung-ho approach - possibly due to my companion who would happily charge in whenever an enemy presented itself and that shaped the perks I took.

On a final note listening to Three Dog slag me off was interesting, made me want to revisit him and 'reward' him for his comments, but I decided I liked the free publicity of don't mess with me.

Unlike so many games that feature a good/bad dichotomy I can truthfully state that playing Fallout 3 as an evil character was totally different experience than playing as a good one. I await to see how I play as a neutral, but three games in one - that's not bad.

Minor road accidents

One Land rover type bumped into the back of some estate type car on the Dunley Road. As everyone was travelling at below 5mph I couldn't see any damage, but as you might expect it was on the outer edge of the bend so it was difficult to see oncoming traffic.

And someone shed part of their load in Vale Road. From the angles I'm guessing they came up Mitton Street did a sweeping turn and dropped something (some powder and hay?) off into the second lane leaving half a bag blocking that lane at the junction. This must have destabilised their load as another bag had fallen off into the third lane and unfortunately someone had run into it and had to halt to pull it out from the front of their car.

As is becoming the norm traffic was backed up through the town, over the bridge and onto Dunley Road and all because traffic can't get out into Gilgal. How many times have I got to state that a delay needs to be added to the lights in the morning to allow the, otherwise, continuous flow of traffic to clear. And again please don't tell me that a) vehicles shouldn't be crossing when the traffic's backed up and b) everyone should merge. Unless you're going to have someone monitoring it 24 hours a day people are going to do that and unless the corner is cut at Gilgal people won't merge even if they could find a gap in the queue.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Making enemies

Sunday dinner with one part of the family and afterwards their laptop comes out [sigh] they'd just switched broadband providers and wanted me to check their security was okay. To keep things simple previously I'd deleted Norton (which just saps the computer of all strength) and used XP's own firewall (good enough) and a simple AV.

The firewall was turned off, and the AV had vanished.Nothing had warned them about this because Norton the programme I'd removed, and wasn't there, was happily telling XP's security system that it had it all covered. Tick boxes and downloads and all sorted. However the next thing was - "While you're on there how do I get music?"

She's got an MP3 player, has happily ripped CDs using Media Player, and transferred them so...? Ah how does she get new music. Talking earlier about things they did on the computer I knew that they had an Amazon account.

So off to Amazon, onto MP3 downloads, and they're offering some freebies. I select one that sounds decent enough and hit One Click; download the Amazon downloader (one-off) and then the file. It adds the music to WMP and asks if you want to open it; and there it is.

"Oooooo" she says I'm looking for...." a song she doesn't know the name of or the artist, just part of the lyric. I show her how to do a general search, then show her YouTube which often features music and "that's the one" she notes the name and artist heads back to Amazon and finds it's only 79p OneClick, open, and WMP there it is.

"Oh that's so easy what else was I after?"
"Thanks a lot for that" says her husband to me
"They're only 79p" she tells him
"That's how they get you." I tell her "Micro-transactions. It's only 79p but you'll just have that one and that one and that one."
"No I'll only buy this one... and this one and..."
"Oh great" says her husband :-)

CSI: Fatal Conspiracy

Apparently released at the end of October I spotted the demo on the Playstation Store and thought to try it. It's amazing... that someone can think to release such a pile of poo in this day and age.

My first "uh-oh" moment was seeing the Laurence Fishburne character in the opening sequence and then entering the demo of Case 4 with Catherine Willows. These are high-res Playstation 2 models aren't they. Ah wait this is also out for the Wii - yeah you've just upped the Wii models haven't you?

Well at least they've got the actuals actors voicing things too - except it sounds like someone's dropped them into a recording booth, thrust the script at them and said "We've only got the booth for a day, just read what it says" zero emotion.

Into a cut-scene and you can't skip any of it - damn it we paid to use these likenesses and voices and you'll damn well sit there and appreciate them.

But hey if the game's good who cares about graphics. Shame the game's not that good.

Friday, December 03, 2010

That World Cup decision

To put it bluntly I don't care. Yes it brings in tourists etc; but do we really want the expense of hosting yet another international event? Anyway still not caring, but it's all the talk of how the decision came about that piques my interest. Since the decision all I've seen is pundits stating that FIFA need to be more transparent that following that report it needs to address bribery and corruption and so on and so forth.

It's a private body operating under Swiss law. If some large business here decided to award a building contract to Builder A rather than Builder B would we have people demanding that the decision process be laid out for the public, to answer charges that it was down to bribery?

Nope. It's not public funds, we as a country don't fund FIFA; that's the private football clubs and the event fees and broadcasting rights. If they don't like it they can stop paying them, leave, and start a new association; but don't drag the country into it.

[Well I said don't drag the country into it - yet reports suggest some of the items on the list of demands from FIFA include making the entire operation tax-free. Remind me again why our (or any) government should be bothering with this organisation at all?]

PS3 Support

Yet another attempt to get my old PS3 deactivated. As I've mentioned previously you get 5 activations for games (so I'm using three) and none will be deactivated until you exceed that number. However you only get one activation for video content and that's on the defunct PS3, which obviously means I can't deactivate it on that.

So after another attempt to activate my new PS3 failed I gave them a call.
'Do I have the PS3 with me at the moment?'
'Because we need the serial number'
'You mean the serial number that I registered it with on your site using my PS Identity that is tied to my unique support reference number that I've already given you?'
'Here you go'
'And when did you purchase it'
'On the date listed on the registration Here you go'
'And where did you purchase it from'
'The place as listed on the registration Here you go'

Seriously it's not as if there's some Data Protection in place for this it's my account with my name, address, DOB, email etc.

Anyway as before they'll let me know when it's done [sigh]

Fallout 3: Point Lookout swamp folk

Yes still going through Fallout3 and working me way through the DLC that I didn't get a chance to play before my system went phut. Again hell this seems more buggy than ever and it's a rare session that doesn't see me having to reboot the PS3; it took me three attempts to get into Calvert Mansion for instance.

Anyway that's not the point - it's those swamp folk in Point Lookout - dayamn they're tough. This is not an area you want to visit as a low level squib. Put it like this I'm level 28 and have 520 health, of the five types three have health of 400, 600 and 700 and use weapons that will always remove 35 points on a successful hit plus its normal damage (40-85). Oh and they tend to roam in packs. I thought those tribal waves in the close quarter fighting in the mansion was tough, but that was a walk in the park compared to these bad boys.

As an aside looking at the models for them I wonder if the developers ever played Redneck Rampage? You tell me?

Hartlebury Common fencing

I've been asked if I know anything about the fencing that's gone up around the Wychavon side of Hartlebury Common that doesn't appear (as yet) on the Wyre Forest side. Sadly this is going to be one of those back-of-the-mind rumour types rather than hard evidence - grazing. Yep it is a common and that's technically what it's for, but the mention of reintroducing a more formal arrangement of grazing is doing the rounds. As this is next to an 50/40mph unlit road the last thing anyone wants is to hit a sheep that's decided to wander across it to fresher pastures - hence fencing.

It's not bad either. One could argue that wooden cross struts may have been more in keeping with the aesthetic, but the chain wire is thin enough so as to be unobtrusive strung between the wooden posts so I'm going to call it as a good choice.

Millfields repair work

Tcch how did I forget to mention this. As mentioned back in March the three contractors for the Millfields estate were to be repairing, no not repairing - finishing the roads. Well I was told a little while back that after much effort from the neighbourhood association this was all to start.

Except not according to the plan. As it was three different builders they each wanted to use their own contractors, apparently this was all sorted out and all three were to start work at the same time. That is until the council apparently stepped in and told them that they couldn't all work at the same time.

Now yes they're all working on different areas, and yes normally having one set working here while another works there can cause major disruptions that wouldn't occur otherwise. Except this is a closed off estate work anywhere will cause a disruption and the areas are disparate enough that they wouldn't each be underfoot. But nope rather than have one period of problems they need to have three by order.

Of course as everything's been planned and contractors timed for the same period it's almost a case of picking straws as to who goes first and then having to rearrange the other two times, which may not be available until some time away meaning a stop-start approach to the work that just messes everyone up.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Wikileaks: US lawmakers demand countries to disband military

In a shock turn of events lawmakers on Capitol Hill demanded that the President remove the military from every other country in the world. One senator stated "Other countries having military personal that aren't in our control is an obvious threat to our national security". Another asked "How did this happen, surely it must have been done in an illegal manner?".

With Homeland Security stepping up its efforts senators ask why they seem so able to enact laws that prevent activities occurring in the United States yet seem unable or perhaps unwilling to pass laws that are to be enforced in other countries.

"Some countries think they can even create their own laws without having them ratified by Washington!", exclaimed one senator. "And that's just wrong"

In related news senators recently voted to raise their salary by "one flying pig". When asked where such may be obtained one senator stated "That's not our problem, we just want one. Make it happen".

For those who haven't been following the news, idiots respected lawmakers are calling for a foreign citizen hosting a website in a foreign country to be shut down and arrested because they don't like it and complaining when everyone ignores them.


With the news that the Playstation Move is outselling the Microsoft Kinect (though as expected you can take the metrics with a pinch of salt) it reminds me that though I've mentioned using Move I've yet to relate my experiences of Kinect.