21 September 2010

Afternoon entertainment

Some idiot's just put a digger through a water main at the roadworks on Manners Street. The plume was higher than the 10-storey building across the road from my office.

Edit: Nearly an hour later, and it's still going, though not as forcefully.

Edit: Found on Youtube:

15 September 2010

That made my day

I'm working away like a good little boy, and I hear a light aircraft approaching. I think to myself, "He sounds a little low" and look out the window.

Buzzing across Wellington just above the roof tops is a Spitfire.

I don't think I'll be able to get this grin off my face for a while :-) Such a beautiful machine, such a wonderful noise!

11 August 2010

>:-)

Mafia II demo has been released on Xbox Live.... I know what I'm doing after I've put Logan to bed tonight.

20 July 2010

Want a reason to play Warhammer?

I'll give you 143 reasons not to. That's how much the 8th edition rule book costs. Sure, it's a hardcover, full colour 500+ page book, but it's only been four years since 7th edition, and from my (admittedly brief) flip-through of the new rule book at lunchtime today, not much has changed.

So, sorry Game$ Work$hop, but here's where we part company. I'll paint the figures I've got, but I'm not going to get any more.

One less hobby to occupy my time...

19 July 2010

Indie space battle game

Stumbled across a really neat space-battle game, Gratuitous Space Battles. Lots a fun!

Don't you just love cyclists?

So I've dropped Logan off at daycare this morning, about 8am, and I've gotten back in the car to head off to work.

The carparks are right outside the daycare building, meaning cars have to drive over the footpath to get to and out of them. So while I'm reversing out the angle park, I'm conscious of the fact that there's cyclists and pedestrians travelling along the footpath in both directions. So I pull out carefully, and fortunately there's no cyclists or pedestrians in sight.

So there I am sitting on the footpath, dutifully indicating that I'm intending to pull onto Hutt Road when there's a gap in the traffic. It being rush hour, I've got to wait a bit.

I'm sitting there about thirty seconds when a cyclist arrives behind me. Remember, I'm stationary (with my brake lights on and have been for half a minute) and indicating that I'm trying to get onto a very busy road. But that's not enough for this character: he gesticulates at me to get out of the way.

Where? Where the heck am I going to go? On to Hutt Road? No thanks: the traffic's not stopping and I have no desire to be the road accident for the morning. Back into the carpark? Along the footpath?

Finally, the cyclist decides to go around me. Through the one-metre-wide gap between me and all the parked cars (so I'm between him and the busy street). The gap that no-one else is using. The gap that was there all along.

As he passes the front of the car, he gives me a dirty look.

So to sum up: I manoeuvred my car carefully (because I don't want some lycra-clad idiot splattered across my bonnet), I kept a gap so pedestrians and cylists can keep moving along the footpath (emphasis on foot), and I'm indicating so everyone can clearly see what I'm doing. But it wasn't enough for some holier-than-thou wheel-wiener who obviously decided that I was a massive obstacle that he'd have to alter course for.

I should also point out that I've almost been knocked down five times while dropping Logan off or picking him up from daycare. All five incidents involved a cyclist. Two of those times I was holding Logan.

So that's why I hate cyclists.

Update: And on the way home along the Hutt Road, in the 80 km/h stretch, I had to swerve to avoid hitting an idiot cyclist who suddenly veered in front of me to overtake another two idiot cyclists who, despite having the whole shoulder to ride in, were riding on the lane marking. Fortunately, I was the only car for twenty metres in either direction, and having Logan in the back seat helped keep the bad language away, but I was pretty ropeable.

Damn cyclists.

15 July 2010

Giggle...

From The Bottom Feeder:
I'll hear someone behind me shout, "Oi!" Which is British for, "Pardon me, but I am about to give your ass a truly extensive kicking."

07 July 2010

05 July 2010

Pray, a moment's silence

Mr Plecostamus -- a fish who survived the past three years with a hole in his head -- has passed away.

30 June 2010

Journalists and research

Stuff has a news article about the Rousillon crash of an Airbus A320 in 2008, where five Kiwis and two Germans were killed.

About halfway into the article is the line, "Flight data showed that the pilots did not receive accurate angle of attack readings, meaning they did not know the angle the wings were to the ground. " It's a small thing, but angle of attack is the angle between the wing and the oncoming flow of air over the wing.

If a journalist and their editor can't get the small facts right, how can we expect them to get the big facts right?

29 June 2010

Oh great

This is just what Wellington needs: more taxi drivers. Taking up parking spaces; stopping in the middle of the road in rush hour to drop off passengers; running orange and red lights; speeding; tail-gating; forgetting where the indicator is when changing lanes...

22 May 2010

Back home

I'm home again after my surgery. The benefits of having health insurance: it's been less than three weeks since the diagnosis!

Only a little bit of discomfort, and Panadol takes care of that. I'm also not supposed to do any heavy lifting for the next couple of days, which makes it difficult to give Logan a cuddle. :-(

04 May 2010

Yup

It's surgery, tentatively scheduled for 21 May.

03 May 2010

Not again

Remember this? It happened again last night, meaning we had a 1am trip to Kenepuru. Complicated this time because we didn't want to take Logan into a germ-filled emergency room while he's still recovering from a cold, so we had to wake up Juliette's parents and drop him off there (many thanks to the in-laws).

The hospital was deserted, so I was seen immediately. They gave me a shot of morphine, after which I threw up so they gave me an anti-nausea shot. The doctor thought it was gall stones, but discharged me and sent me off to get blood tests and an ultrasound, which I had done this afternoon, confirming it was gall stones.

I've got an appointment with our GP tomorrow, to go over the results and where we go from here, but it sounds like I'm heading for surgery.

30 April 2010

Sigh

Yes, I know its obsolete tech, but a little piece of me died when I read this news.

16 April 2010

Phew!

My replacement Xbox has arrived! Only been without it for just under 3 weeks....

15 April 2010

Ah, the simple things....

Playing F-19 Stealth Fighter (an old Microprose classic). With CGA graphics.

Joy. :-)

10 April 2010

Viral dancing

Found via Techdirt, here's a video taken from the 2009 Sasquatch! Music Festival (at the Gorge Amphitheatre, George, Washington). One shirtless guy starts dancing, but by two minutes into the clip, he's been joined by a horde of others.



The actual Techdirt article is an interesting read (from the always thought-provoking Mike Masnick), following how one person's idea lead to a web service, MixTapeForYou.com. Kind of reminds me of the old 1978 BBC series, Connections.

14 March 2010

Democracy fail

Countries like China, Iran and others with totalitarian regimes are routinely castigated in the Western press for the limits they place on free speech, including on the internet. So the next target for staunch defenders of democracy should be... us?

According to Tech Liberty NZ, the Department of Internal Affairs (maybe that should be Infernal Affairs) has confirmed that an internet filter has gone live as of 1 February 2010. Two ISPs -- Watchdog and Maxnet -- have signed up, and Telecom, Vodafone and Telstra Clear have indicated that they will also sign up for it. Slingshot and Natcom have said they will not sign up. Orcon has said they probably won't.

The stated intention of the internet filter is to block access to child sex abuse images, it'll be hard for the government to resist the temptation to spread the filter's reach into other areas (political, social, economic, etc.). Especially since the list of sites blocked by the filter is secret: you're not allowed to know what's being blocked.

Now, stopping child sex abuse images is a laudable goal. I've always loathed the people who make and traffic in this stuff (especially now that I'm a father). But is this filter going to stop it?

No.

First of all, stopping someone from viewing this filth won't stop the production of it, which should be the more urgent goal of law enforcement. To produce a child sex abuse image (I hate the term 'kiddie porn'), a child has to be abused. That'll happen whether anybody downstream views the image or not. So catching and punishing the people who make the images should be a priority.

Secondly, the filter won't stop peer-to-peer file sharing, which is apparently how most child sex abuse images are shared.

Third, anyone determined enough will be able to route around the filter, making it useless.

This filter intrudes on your right to privacy and freedom from search. A police officer can't just stop you in the street and search you, they have to have probable cause: a justified reason to execute the search that will hold up in court. To search your house, the police have to go before a judge, explain why they think they need to search your house, and get a warrant before they knock on your door. To listen to your phone conversations, they likewise need a warrant. But your internet traffic? With this filter, where you browse, what you read and watch is fair game. Regardless of whether you're going to a banned site or not, if the website you are visiting happens to be hosted by the same web server as a banned site, your traffic will go via DIA's servers.

Somebody's going to rattle off the line, "If you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about." Bullshit. We have a presumption of innocence in this country (innocent until proven guilty). A filter assumes you're guilty until it decides you're innocent.

This filter was implemented because DIA decided that it was allowed to under the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993. This act mentions the internet. Once. In the definition of "service provider" (which itself is only mentioned one other time). It is definitely worrying that a government department can arbitrarily set up a censorship regime without political oversight: an unelected bureaucrat can decide what you can and cannot view, and not tell you until after you've potentially incriminated yourself.

Ben Franklin once said, "They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty nor security." This filter is an assault on our liberties, and should be stopped as undemocratic. Let us decide for ourselves what we can watch and read.

10 March 2010

Ok Go's new video

From the same group that danced on treadmills (which can be seen, briefly, at some point in this music video):

06 March 2010

Another flight

Took a flight with the Wellington Aero Club today, courtesy of my mother-in-law (as a thank you for some help I'd given her with her computer). Spent about an hour in a two-seat Piper Tomahawk II mucking about around Wellington's south coast. Some glorious sights, but didn't get many photos as I was controlling the plane pretty much from the get go. Did the takeoff, cruising, a touch-and-go, and a full-stop landing with a little help from one of the instructors. Did get a chance to take a couple of pictures, plus some video clips.





It's the second time I've done one of these flights, the first time was a few years ago.


03 March 2010

The future of games?

Interesting talk to come out of DICE 2010, by Professor Jesse Schell of Carnegie Mellon University (courtesy of G4TV):


I particularly liked the explanation of why we hate the iPad (at about 17:15).

02 March 2010

How to lose your fans

Slashdot is reporting an 8-year fan-created episode in the (long dead) King's Quest series has been shutdown by Activision.

The series started in 1984 under the auspices of Sierra On-line with King's Quest: Quest for the Crown and finished in 1998 with King's Quest VIII: Mask of Eternity. When Sierra (as Sierra Entertainment) faded away, and stopped producing KQ games with the cancelation of King's Quest IX in 2002, fans stepped in and started producing their own labour of love, King's Quest IX: Every Cloak has a Silver Lining.

Fast forward 8 years, and Activision (owners of the remnants of Sierra and its IP) have issued a cease-and-desist order, effectively burying the game. Vivendi, when they controlled the IP and before they had been swallowed by Activision, had allowed development to continue under a non-commercial licence (i.e., the fans couldn't sell it and not actually call it King's Quest IX), but apparently Activision is not willing to allow even that.

Let's be clear: Activision have every right to do this. They own the intellectual property rights over the King's Quest series, so they are perfectly within their legal rights to do this. But, from a business point of view, this decision is completely nuts. Activision have no plans to revisit the series, so it's not competing against an "official" product. And the people producing the game are fans -- you know, people who love the series and are prepared to put in some work to keep it alive. All Activision are doing here is stomping over people who now might think twice before buying any Activision product.

Let's hear a big cheer for the lawyers....

Update: From Techdirt, Activision are letting the game go ahead. Common sense prevails...

03 January 2010

Over-reaction

I had my first real encounter with road rage today.

I parked the car in Porirua's Megacentre, next to a silver four-wheel drive, which, being a large vehicle parked in a space designed for a regular-size car, didn't leave a lot of room. I managed to get out without my door touching the other car, but Juliette's door caught a gust of wind as she got out, and it tapped the other car.

Next thing we know, a rather portly Pom (judging from his accent), came round from the driver's side and -- before even looking to see where our door touched the side of his car -- started ranting about our carelessness. I told him there was no damage done, and thought he'd go away, but no. He wandered round to between the cars, pointed at a spot completely indistinguishable from the rest of the door, and ranted about red paint on his door. When I asked him to point it out, he couldn't, so he then asked about the flecks of silver paint on the edge of my door. A close examination showed it was where paint from my car had come away, and was showing the underlying body work. I pointed this out to him, and he stomped off, muttering.

I thought that was the end of it, but he comes back round and declares, "People like you should be shot!" And stomped off again. Then comes back (he must have had a list or something) and asked if I'd gotten my driver licence in the lottery. Finally, he went back to his car and drove to a different parking spot (incidentally, parking closer to another car than I had parked to his).

We're eally quite perplexed about how somebody can completely over-react like that. I've had worse dings where the car was actually moving -- both mine and the other drivers' fault -- where everyone was quite civil, and quick to dismiss any superficial damage (if any). But this guy went completely off his nut over a minor little tap -- where absolutely no damage was done to either car. Weird.

01 January 2010

Happy New Year!

The new year is upon us, whether you'll call it "twenty ten" or "two thousand ten".

Pity it had to get off to such a rocky start: the neighbours across the road decided to ring in the new year with fireworks. One or two would be okay, but they went for twenty minutes. And their kids would yell "Happy new year!" at anybody and everybody they saw.

And right as we're trying to get Logan to go to sleep. Grrr....

Really good article over on Wired about the fall of 3D Realms.

Currently playing: Battlefield: Bad Company (Xbox), Warhammer: Mark of Chaos (PC).

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