29 January 2008

One for the "must get" list

Thanks to Intelligent Artifice, I've found out about a book from Hiive Books, The ZX Spectrum Book - 1982 to 199x.

The Speccy was the second computer I ever owned (after a Dick Smith Electronics VZ-200). These two computers -- especially the Spectrum -- were the main reasons I learned programming. I didn't have a reliable tape recorded to save or load programs, so if I wanted to play a game, I'd have to type it in. Of course, the listings were often hard to read, and I'd make typos, so before I could play the game, I'd have to fix all the bugs first.

Ah, memories....

Nifty game

Thanks to ...on pampers, programming & pitching manure, I've stumbled across a neat (though slightly bizarre) game from indie developers Dejobaan Games, called The Wonderful End of the World. Give it a go, and support indie developers!

28 January 2008

Exciting morning

Woke up early on Sunday morning (about 6:30 -- which is very early when you didn't go to bed until 3am) to the dogs barking, and what sounded like a truck running its engine. On investigation, found two police cars, two fire trucks and an ambulance attending a van that had somehow managed to roll onto its side.

Looking at the skidmarks on the road, looks like he lost control coming round the corner at the top of the hill. Only saw one person being taken away in the ambulance; hopefully, he's okay. Haven't heard or seen anything in the local news about it, which leads me to think that the driver didn't suffer any serious injuries.

17 January 2008

Hey, I know her....

Techdirt is reporting on a story about a lecturer at the University of Brighton who has banned her students from using Google in writing their papers. Prof. Brabazon has claimed that too many students were taking the easy way out and regurgitating the first few search results for their assignments.

This seems to be another case of blaming the technology for what is really human laziness. If a student can't be bothered to research their assignments properly, then they should get poor grades. Then, they'll either fail the course or learn to research properly.

Banning Google and Wikipedia is not the answer. When I did history at Victoria University (in 1994), the first assignment was on how to use the library. We had about 20 questions, and in finding the answers to those questions, had to learn the layout of the library, the call number system, etc.

The solution to Prof. Brabazon's problem would seem to be an assignment designed to teach students how to use tools like Google and Wikipedia, making sure that students learn what these tools are not -- an alternative to thinking, or to proper research.

I was a little surprised when I read this story. Prof. Brabazon took the final third of Hist105 (waaaay back in 1994), and I always thought of her as a more technologically clued up lecturer (who once used an episode of Fawlty Towers to demonstrate a point).

16 January 2008

Blame the interweb!!!

An article's turned up on Yahoo!Xtra news' Top Stories list, about a Fijian woman attacked by some scum she met on the internet.

Unfortunately, these kinds of assaults happen all the time, but this particular assault is apparently worth mentioning because the people involved met over the internet. I'm sure many other woman were attacked by men they met by "conventional" means -- in the pub, through friends and family, at school -- on the same day this particular woman was attacked, but because the internet was not involved, they did not get mentioned in the "Top Stories".

Yes, this was a tragedy for the woman. Yes, the scum should be locked up for a very long time.

But honestly, it shouldn't get "top story" status just because they met on the web. That's just wrong. It's not the internet's fault this b*stard decided to attack this lady. I'm sure that if he met her in the pub, she'd still have been attacked.

When will she learn?

J.K.Rowling is, once again, setting her lawyers on her biggest fans, this time a lexicon of the Harry Potter universe that wants to publish a print version of their website. As Tim Wu smoothly points out, there are many reasons why Rowling deserves to fail in her attempt (via Techdirt).

One day, Rowling -- and others who seem to turn to the lawyers at the drop of a hat -- will learn that they're only harming themselves and their IP. It's free promotion, for goodness sake!

Part of the problem, I think, is the litigious nature of Western society. Lawyers are ubiquitous, and the lawsuit is the primary tool in their toolbox. "When your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." Unfortunately for IP holders, not every so-called "infringing" item is a nail (i.e., something to be sued out of existence). The sooner they realise this -- and embrace the possibilities -- the better off society will be.

Reminds me of the old joke: What do you call 500 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean? A good start.

NB: I should point out not all lawyers are bad (especially the one that's my sister-in-law). Just the ones who look for opportunities to sue as the be-all and end-all of the lives.

14 January 2008

11 January 2008

Warhound, Turning Point and Crysis

Stumbled across a new game that looks interesting. Warhound is a new FPS from Techland, following the reliably popular anti-terrorist story line. Graphics look very nice, and it's promising some serious AI, interactively destructable environments, and quasi-role-playing elements (increasing skills, etc.). Looking forward to it, due to be released sometime this year (fingers crossed).

Turning Point: Fall of Liberty, by Spark Unlimited and published by Codemasters takes an alternative history, postulating that Winston Churchill did not survive an accident, so never became Prime Minister of Great Britain. World War II still happened, but because there was no effective leader against Hitler, the war in Europe was over before the US became involved. The game opens in 1952, as Zeppelins drop Nazi troops into New York. Again, nice looking graphics (using Epic's Unreal 3 engine). Another one on my "to-get" list -- due Spring 2008 (that's Autumn 2008 for you weirdos in the northern hemisphere).

On a side note, here's a clip of someone with Crysis and far too much time on their hands:

What rotters :-)

The meanest thing that Gizmodo did at CES... where can I get one?

The Pirate's Dilemma

Interesting article here by Matt Mason, giving a precis of his new book, The Pirate's Dilemma: How Youth Culture is Reinventing Capitalism. I particularly liked the quote:

And the truth is, if lawsuits become a core component of your business model, then you no longer have a business model (unless you’re a lawyer).

07 January 2008

It's not rocket science

After reading this, I think I'll be insisting on Airbus....

Honestly, did the designers wake up one morning and think, "Let's make the critical systems insecure. Nobody's going to try anything nasty..."

I should possibly reveal my Theory of Life: People are stupid. The beautiful thing about this theory is that everyday, someone, somewhere, proves me right.


gaming (32) youtube (12) internet (11) academia (7) xbox (7) gamedev (6) politics (6) Dungeons and Dragons (5) aviation (5) driving (5) family (5) law (5) movies (5) retro (5) star wars (5) RPG (4) health (4) holiday (4) books (3) copyright (3) doctor who (3) music (3) PC (2) flight sim (2) food and drink (2) journalism (2) armageddon (1) earthquake (1) football (1) language (1) parenting (1) pets (1) tattoos (1)