STATIC DISCLAIMER: All the stuff in here is purely my opinions, and they tend to change depending on what mood I'm in. If you're going to get bitter if I say something about you that you don't like, then maybe don't read. I avoid using names as much as possible, and would request that people who know me do the same in their comments. Basically, I often vent my frustrations on here, so if you happen to be someone who frustrates me, expect to read a description of someone very much like you in here!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Massive update post

Hello readership who has waned into oblivion! This is the "I haven't blogged for so long that now I need to blog half a million things in a single post" post. So let's get to it.

Rachel's Thyroid Cancer
Following my last post re: Rachel's thyroid cancer, we had an appointment with the thyroid surgery unit at Royal North Shore Hospital. While they didn't change anything about the diagnosis or treatment ("Surprise! It's not cancer, and you need no surgery!" would have been the best possible outcome) they did reassure us quite a bit about what needs to be done, and the potential risks both of the surgery and of the cancer. Turns out this cancer is pretty non-eventful, and in someone Rachel's age is pretty much 100% cure rate. That's like having... I don't know... tonsillitis. You have to have surgery to fix it, but really, it's nothing to worry about.

Anyway - one of Rachel's biggest concerns was that her endocrinologist had indicated she'd need radioactive iodine treatment as soon as the surgery was done - or within a few weeks. Turns out he was being over reactive. The thyroid surgery people said she'd be fine to leave it as long as she needed - and that's exactly what she plans to do. The issue with this treatment was breastfeeding our 4-month old son, so she's going to finish feeding him to about a year old, and then have the treatment. Smiles and happiness all around.

Basically, this whole situation is more of an inconvenience then anything else now. Continuing prayer for complication-free surgery would be appreciated, because I think Rachel would really struggle if her voice got damaged.

The Magpie-Lark (aka Peewee)
As I type this, I have a box on my desk covered in a towel. Inside, is a very small and very frightened Peewee. The stupid bugger fell out of his nest, and can't fly. So I rang WIRES, and they told me I should make him a make-shift nest, and put it in a tree. The plan is, his parents will come and look after him and all would be well. You know what the stupid bird did? Immediately took a nose dive out of the nest, hit the ground with a thud, and casually started wandering towards the road! Anyway, I tried another time and he gracefully did the same thing, so I've now given up and someone is on their way to fix him up with a feeding cage. In the meantime, enjoy the following portrait:

Cute, isn't he? Yep - he's also a complete pain in the rear. Spent most of my morning trying to get him back to his parents at WIRES' direction, and all he was interested in doing was throwing himself in front of cars. Good times. He contributes "SKREEEEEETCH!!!" to the discussion.

Health, Weight loss and Well-being
I'm pretty unmotivated to lose weight. I've lost some, but in general, getting the kilos off is a near impossible task. A couple of people have commented recently that I look like I've lost weight, but unfortunately the scales tell a different story. Then again, maybe that's good? Who knows.

I succumb to World of Warcraft
If you're on the Dath'Remar realm, Katranda can be found wandering in Westfall at the moment. I held off on getting involved in this game for so long, and now thankfully its cheap enough that I can get a few months of play for fairly little outlay. I plan to make use of their 3 month play cards to play when I feel like it, and not when I don't. If I get half a dozen good PS3 games for Christmas, for example, I'll probably wait before cashing in the first of said cards. Priorities are important. ;)

Ok, that's it. I planned to put much more in here, but hey - when it came to it I was just unable to deliver masses of engaging content.
Merry Christmas everyone - I hope your stockings are full, and your stomachs also, but more then that I hope you remember why we celebrate Christmas at this time of year: because a bunch of pagans were having a feast, and we didn't want to miss out, so we put our own on at the same time!!! Lolz!!

In all seriousness, its nice to have a day on the calendar each year that we remember Jesus' birth, and the wondrous gift that God gave us all those years ago. Sappy as it sounds, may God bless you all this Christmas. Peace, good will, and ponies for all.


So I've been thinking about conciousness. What makes our experience of life work? Personally, I believe it's something external - the human soul, that is joined to our physical experience in a simular vein to how things work in The Matrix. The bit of us that makes us who we are isn't tied to the same 3 (4?) dimensional world that our bodies are. I like to think of it being like our brain is an interface that our soul is plugged into.

However, I was thinking about conciousness as a product of merely a physical brain, and I can't resolve some ideas. These all revolve around the experience of the person rather then external person looking on. For example, if conciousness was purely physical, I should be able to walk into a room, copy myself exactly (technology permitting) and have the clone walk out and go on with my life as if they were me - because from their perspective, they ARE me (with not much gramatical sense either). However, even though they feel as though their conciousness has been continuous, I know that they are a copy. To everyone looking on, I've walked into a room, and I've walked back out. So is it really me? Well, no - because I can then also walk out of the room. But while I'm in the room, doing nothing, experiencing nothing... say I'm asleep or unconcious or something... is the clone "really" me? It's the me having the experience of being concious, but my conciousness has stopped - I'm unconcious. Or if you'd like to argue that unconciousness is not really no conciousness, then say the me in the room dies. Is the clone, who wasn't the original me, now the real me?

You may note there's been movies that has explored this idea like The 6th Day, or The Island, and The Matrix does the most well-known job of exploring the idea of a reality above this one, although I'm personally rather partial to The 13th Floor. The ideas are around, but as scientific research moves forward I wonder if anyone has actually considered this to an appropriate level. Say you could deconstruct someone's matter and reconstruct it somewhere else - a common science fiction idea that is being worked on in real science. From an external viewpoint, there appears to be no adverse side-effects, as the person on the other end appears externally to be the person who was deconstructed. But who is to say that the person on the sending end didn't die - that is, their experience of conciousness stopped at the point they were deconstructed. How could you tell?

Just something I've been thinking about...

Quicktime is lame

This post was originally constructed in August this year, and was saved as draft. I've added the last paragraph and published. Trying to get rid of some half-written drafts I have. Expect some more soon-ish.

Just a short (edit: not short) Mac bash this morning:
So I turn on my PowerBook this morning, and Apple Software Update comes up with some updates for iTunes and Quicktime and stuff. So I take a look at the update for Quicktime and observe the following:

QuickTime 7.2 addresses critical security issues and delivers:
- Support for full screen viewing in QuickTime Player

Now, this is a feature that has been in, oh I don't know, EVERY other media player since forever. Apple has witheld it up until now, because they want you to pay for Quicktime Pro which DID have this feature. So, to sum up - a feature that has been in every other media player forever is finally introduced into Quicktime today (well, within the last week), negating the need for you to pay Apple extra for it. If you had bought Windows 95 in 1996, you would have got this feature for free, and it's been a staple in Media Player, and every other media player for Windows or Linux (or 3rd party for OSX for that matter) since forever. WHY this wasn't included in Quicktime boils down to greed on the part of Apple.

But hey - this is what I've come to expect from Apple. Upgrades to their IM client are advertised as features of their paid OS upgrade. As opposed to, you know, almost every other IM client which gives you feature updates FOR FREE and for the most part already have MORE FEATURES then iChat. But still, Apple users will use iChat. And this is where I get confused - WHY!?!? And this is not specific to iChat - an advertised improvement in Leopard is having stationary in Apple Mail. Again, there are free mail clients available that do this, and everything else Apple Mail does already - and they're FREE. And sometimes, they WORK BETTER. Just try doing a simple out-of-office notification in Mail. My boss does when he's out of town - I have to check it every day to ensure it hasn't gotten confused and started sending emails to itself.

The list goes on - and features advertised as revolutionary (*cough* Time Machine *cough*) are just the equivilent of pre-existing features in Windows/Linux with a pretty UI. Previous Versions, anyone? In Vista, they've even made it exceedingly simple. Right-click on any file, and:

You can do this on a folder, and actually open and work with previous contents of that older. And if you use Windows Backup, it will record the fact that there are previous versions on specific backups and display them in the list. Revolutionary! Next year's OS, today!

Anyway - this pargraph I'm now typing months after I originally created this post, and as it turns out the great Leopard is held by the Mac zealots in my office as being buggy and unreliable, and as such, no one has upgraded their work machines to it due to software incompatiabilities with Filemaker, which I believe have just recently been resolved with a second patch (that is, they patched it once to get it just to run, and now they've patched it again to get it to work properly). Good times.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Papillary Carcenoma

Papillary Carcenoma is a cancer of the thyroid. It is the most common thyroid cancer, and is 3 times more likely to occur in women then in men. It is very treatable via surgery and radioactive iodine treatment, and has a very high survival rate.

It also is, apparently, what my wife has growing in her neck. Well, we can't say for sure, but the doctor says it's the most likely scenario. As a result, she'll need her thyroid removed. This means she'll need to be on thyroxin for the rest of her life, and there's a small possibility the surgery could damage her voice.

While of all cancers she could possibly get, this is probably the "best" one to have in terms of treatment and survivability, we obviously would have much preferred that she didn't have cancer at all.

So those who know us and who pray, just some prayer that this will be easy, uncomplicated and quickly resolved would be greatly appreciated.

EDIT: Rachel wanted me to add an extra prayer point - The follow-up treatment for thyroid cancer is radioactive iodine. It's a very effective treatment, but it will require her to stop breastfeeding Campbell, and will mean she'll need to be isolated for a while, and then not have close contact with our boys for a while more due to the radiation. It will be very hard for all of us. Some prayer that this treatment will not be required would be awesome.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Ways I've Made Money Online

This looks like spam, I know. But I've tried several different schemes over the last I-Don't-Know-How-Many years, and I've found two of them that work. Both of them are getting paid for targeted advertising. They're by no means quick money, but considering they take about 3 minutes out of your day each day, and then eventually give you real cash, that's not such a bad deal. Here they are:

PureProfile: You fill out a profile, then go to the site each day to read messages. You can setup notificiation preferences if you want to email you when there's stuff to read.

EmailCash: This has been the most lucrative for me thus far. They email you, and you click on the link in the email to indicate you've read it. You get 5 points. 1 point = 1 cent. You can get a cheque at $30 or $100, and I've had several $30 cheques and am now well on my way to a $100 one. Just for reading emails. Not bad really.

Now my wife, on the other hand, came to me quite a while ago now and asked for some money (I think it was $65 from memory) to sign up with a crowd who would hand your name around to market research companies. She has made hundreds of dollars out of it, for very little effort.

Just thought some of you might be interested. Just btw, the links above give me bonuses if you sign up using them. ;)

SMH: Piracy not raiding CD sales

The enforcement arm of the Australian music industry has dismissed damaging overseas research that found illegal music sharing actually increased CD sales.

The study, conducted by two researchers at the University of London for the Canadian Government, found people downloaded songs illegally because they wanted to hear them before buying or because they were not available in stores.

Hasn't this been said before? Check the link for the story, and from there you can jump to the research. I love it that the music industry just dismisses the research because they don't like it.

The sooner we see some reform to copyright laws the better. If one of the major parties got up and started talking proactively about that, they'd certainly get my vote.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Review of Mac OS 10.5 - Leopard

Click the title for the link. This is fantastically funny, and yet also Mac fan friendly.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


I'm having an unpleasent afternoon. You know those times when everything seems unpleasent? When pleasentries seem to disappear, and the notion of pleasent is nowhere to be found? Yep, just like that.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Conversation with a 'New Atheist'

"I believe that a scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy."
Richard Feynman

"Intellectuals are people who believe that ideas are of more importance than values. That is to say, their own ideas and other people's values."
Gerald Brenan

I've recently, once again, been engaged in conversations with people who espouse as fact, beliefs (and I call them that purposely) gleaned from a reading of Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion" and possibly some of his other works, or suggested references. This most recent conversation had a very disturbing aspect for me, in that the primary point of contention was Dawkins' belief that religion is a form of mental illness, and that teaching your children about your religion constitutes child abuse, as based on the previous claim. The conversation occurred via a forum, so I had plenty of opportunity to research my counterpoints before I replied each time. In the second last message I posted, I spent hours researching and quoting/citing references regarding the demonstrated medical advantages of having some form of religious/spiritual belief system. From my perspective, this demonstrated that Dawkins' view could be considered to be (purposefully) ignorant of the commonly accepted research on this topic. [see references 1, 2, 3]

However, the person I was having this argument with completely ignored all references I'd made in his reply, and simply restated his belief. He presented no evidence to support his point of view, other then vague generalisations, and a summary of Google search evidence. For example: "I Googled 'religion child abuse', and got over 2 million hits, many of the first few pages from science journals." These rather vague claims I disputed- most of the results I saw for this search were opinion pieces regarding Dawkins' book, and I think number of hits is fairly non indicative of common viewpoints. Especially when your search term would match an article containing the sentence "Therefore, religion should certainly not be considered child abuse."

So why is this disturbing? This person, although he'd completely deny it I'm sure, is one of the New Atheist faithful. Seizing on teachings from Dawkins and his ilk, they will defend their viewpoint with great zeal without actually knowing any of the reasons why they believe it. Ultimately the reason they defend it because of the underlying belief behind the whole movement - that "brights" are somehow of greater value then the rest of us. The following quote is by Dawkins from the Wired article linked from the title of this post:

"Highly intelligent people are mostly atheists," he says. "Not a single member of either house of Congress admits to being an atheist. It just doesn't add up. Either they're stupid, or they're lying. ..."

He seems to have covered the only two options off fairly well, hasn't he? (note: sarcasm)
To suggest that most intelligent people are atheists is certainly not something I'm aware has been qualified by research. What is the metric? The number of students in evolutionary biology courses that would call themselves atheists? I certainly wouldn't qualify under that banner, but my IQ of 136, university degree, and job designing software would suggest that I have at least some kind of intelligence wouldn't it? Or is that immediately disqualified by the fact that I also believe that our presently observable reality is not all there is?

I call your attention to the quote from Richard Feynmen at the start of this post. The existence of God immediately dispels all arguments that have been presented, because all arguments I have seen presented are based on the presupposition that God is not real. This presupposition comes from holding the existence of God up against the scientific method, which is the most stupid idea I personally have ever heard. As stated, on non-science issues, scientists are just as dumb as the next guy. And yet, Dawkins makes brash statements about God being "unlikely" and people believe him because he's a scientist. I'm qualified as a scientist - Computer scientist, that is. If I mix some chemicals together in a lab and tell you that drinking them will cure you from cancer, would you trust me? If so, I suggest you seek help. Your life may be in danger. However, this is what people are doing. Basing their beliefs about the supernatural on the opinions of someone who specialises in one aspect of the natural, and seems to suggest that anything that doesn't fit within his particular model of the universe must be fiction.

My purpose in talking about this is primarily because when I read Dawkins' and others arguments about this issue, I start from the viewpoint of them having some basis in fact, and so have to spend a great deal of time finding the necessary evidence to demonstrate that, particularly in the case of Dawkins, they are driven by misplaced bitterness and/or political agendas which overpower their sense of logic and reason and instead provoke them to present small, subjective, hand-picked subsets of data to support claims that further their cause. I would be far better served to acknowledge the truth: that these people are not interested in the truth. They present themselves as men of science in order to be heard, and then do things that are entirely unscientific to try and establish their case. What physicist when faced with an issue of biology would not ask a biologist? Why then does an evolutionary biologist speak on issues of theology? Of psychology? Surely claims about psychological effects of religion on children would be better authored by someone who had some degree of expertise in the subject matter? And yet, instead we get another "Da Vinci Code" - a work of fiction that the public chooses to believe as fact, in order that they might continue to justify ignoring the true questions of their own existence.

The following is a quote from Albert Mohler. I don't even know who this guy is, but he did a write up[4] on the Wired article I've linked, and I found his assessment below to be rather insightful:

The very fact that Wolf remains unconvinced by the arguments promoted by the New Atheists is itself significant. What Dawkins, Harris, and Dennett--along with the other New Atheists--really demand is that society must place itself in the hands of a new and militant atheistic priesthood. Science as defined by these new priests, would serve as the new sacrament and as the means of salvation.

While New Atheism will invoke science to create a false sense of objectivism, it is ultimately interested in becoming the "religion" of choice. That people will get a sense of value by adhering to its precepts. Ultimately though, science has nothing of permanent value to offer on its own. Knowledge is interesting and valuable, but if this is all there is, you might as well die a ignoramus as a genius. You're still dead. New Atheism is ultimately just a campaign for a new aristocracy of self-proclaimed "brights" with a policy of government-instituted atheism. Absurd? I'd say yes. And it seems that religiosity is not a prerequisite for identifying the absurdity of their claims.

Even those of us who sympathize intellectually have good reasons to wish that the New Atheists continue to seem absurd. If we reject their polemics, if we continue to have respectful conversations even about things we find ridiculous, this doesn't necessarily mean we've lost our convictions or our sanity. It simply reflects our deepest, democratic values. Or, you might say, our bedrock faith: the faith that no matter how confident we are in our beliefs, there's always a chance we could turn out to be wrong.
[from the linked article]

The suggestion that religion is mental illness is not only opposed by a large body of evidence, but it is also popularly unpopular. Adherence to a set of religious beliefs produces people who are healthier, happier[1], more generous with their money and their time[3], and generally of greater good to society as a whole then their atheist/agnostic counterparts.


Medical Journal of Australia summary of the importance of religion/spirituality in health and well being. Links numerous other articles and studies supporting it's stance.

Criticism of the New Atheist ideas from an acknowledged atheist, and associate professor of psychology at the University of Virginia. He argues that regardless of the existence of God, religion has been demonstrated to be of positive social value.

"People who are religious give more across the board to all causes than
their non-religious counterparts"

"There is a huge “charity gap” that follows religion: On average, religious people are far more generous than secularists with their time and money. This is not just because of giving to
churches—religious people are more generous than secularists towards explicitly non-religious charities as well. They are also more generous in informal ways, such as giving money to family members, and behaving honestly."
See the link for citations supporting this claim.


Friday, September 28, 2007

Game Launch Goodness

It appears that the launch of that "Halo 3" game has interfered with the launch of the greatest FPS game known to man. Watch the video - comedic genius.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Something is wrong with the world...

The following image is a screen clip of my Facebook profile page. The application it's looking at is called Compare People, and it shows you the user picture of two of your friends, and asks you a comparison question like "Who is the most intelligent?". It then adds up the votes from all your friends and shows you what categories you got the most votes for.
Please observe the image below (highlight is mine):

This must be some new definition of the word "best" that I've yet to encounter. Either that, or we've just accidentally found a bug in the matrix. I vote bug in the matrix. That would be far more interesting. :)

UPDATE: It appears that the list only recalculates when you compare other people - so I have, and I've now lost my status as person with the best body. *sigh* That was shortlived. Oh well - Back to the diet I guess...

Friday, August 31, 2007

The case of the Phantom Chicken Drumstick

Before I get in to the subject of this post, I'd like to note that my last post was my 200th on this blog. One day, I shall print them all out and have them bound into a book. Why? I don't know. For kicks. OK, on with the post.

So I'm on my lunchbreak. When I'm working from home, my lunch break is usually 80/20 lunch and break. That is, I spend most of my time making and then eating my lunch. The remainder is usually then spent waiting for my lunchbreak to end. However, today I'd already spent most of my lunch break writing an enoumous rant on a gaming forum, only to decide it wasn't worth trying to argue with what are most likely 16 year old boys on the finer points of politics and it's implications for those whose primary use of the internet isn't trying to get around the porn filter their parents have installed. So I deleted my massive rant that took me half an hour to craft, and went to find some relatively quick food.
What I found was a box full of roast chicken portions in the fridge. Yum-mee. I'm quite the fan of anything roasted, and roast chicken sounded just about perfect. So I pick up a drumstick, and start to munch away at it.
While I'm doing this, I notice a courier van pull up out the front. As the guy gets out and starts walking toward the house I think to myselft "Hmm - I'm going to need to do something with this chicken." And here is where things get dodgy.
You see, one of the following two things happened:
  1. I quickly finished off the remaining chicken, and hoiked the bone in the bin.
  2. I saw a place that looked like it would temporarily be a good place to leave a half eaten chicken leg, and carefully placed it there.

The problem is, I don't know which it was. I checked the bin, but there didn't seem to be any sign of the bone (to be fair, I didn't search too hard), and I've searched the house for convinent places one might put a half-eaten chicken bone, but I can't see it anywhere. It appears, for all intents and purposes, to have completely vanished. Gone. Like a phantom. Did it ever really exist at all? We may never know.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Jake the Pirate

Just so the boy doesn't feel neglected, here's some photos just about Jake. He was at the Kuyper open day on Saturday and had his face painted as a pirate. Very cute, so I thought I'd share some photos.

With this last photo, I decided to do some very quick tweaking. I've upped the contrast and saturation quite a bit, and also the brightness and colour temprature ever so slightly. I would have liked to have done it in something that gives me control over saturation for each of the R/G/B colour chanels, but I was just doing it quickly and didn't have that option, so the reds are a little strong. What do you think? I think it looks good for a first attempt.

Campbell's life in pictures continues...

Monday, August 20, 2007

The social networking thing...

So just last week, I've gotten into this whole myspace/facebook thing. I've had a myspace profile for a while, thanks to receiving a rather cryptic email that required me to sign up before I could find out it was meaningless porn-spam, but I never did anything with it after that. Primarily because all the myspace profiles I came across contained eye-destroyingly bad colours, animated backgrounds and generally looked like they belonged to 15 year old girls who were increadibly bored - which, in fact, most of them did. I did want to link an example of said horror, but it appears you can no longer see pages of the youngn's if you're not a young'n. At least, I don't seem to stumble across 15/16 year olds pages anymore, and one would imagine they're the largest userbase. Anyway, trust me they were ugly, meaningless and definately didn't encourage me to get into myspace.

Anyway, one of my friends signed up for myspace and set himself up with a profile and what not, and made mention of it on his blog. Because I remembered I had a profile, I thought I'd just add myself as a friend to his. Then I decided to enter some details about me, and while I was there upload a photo or two. Nothing to rope me in thus far. Then I did a search for people who were in my year at school, and I turn up 6 people who I haven't seen in 10 years. I'm a bit of a sucker for nostalgia, so I send them all messages, and over the next couple of days I got some back. So now I'm hooked. Hunting out people I know and have known and seeing how they're doing is awesome. I'm big on family, so I love seeing that people have gotten married and have families of their own. It's really nice.

Anyway - so I do myspace now. And facebook too. Feel free to stop by.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Children and Hospitals

So last night, I'm spending a bit of time with my new 3 week old son, and I notice he looks like he might have a bit of an infection. "Hmm" I think, "I wonder how soon we need someone to look at that?"

My eldest son had some infection issues when he was born and had to be in special care for a bit, so I'm well aware that infection and newborns is bad shenanigans. However, I'd really prefer not to have my already sleep deprived wife heading out to the doctors at 9pm on a Thursday (It would be her going, because she's the one with the feeding apparatus - I really am not much use with the new bubba for any extended period of time) if it's just me being paranoid, so I decide to give KidsNet a call at the Westmead Children's Hospital to see what they think. We've learnt from experience that there's a multitude of help available for parents of young kiddies, and KidsNet is one of the most handy for medical issues.

Anyway, after some discussion the nurse on the end of the phone is about to tell us just to monitor him overnight and see a GP tomorrow, when she asks where we live, and then changes her mind. There's a GP clinic near us at the hospital, open until 10pm, and she advises we should take him there, just to be safe. She also says she didn't really want to suggest we take him to emergency, because it's relatively likely he'll pick something up in the waiting room. Thus begins a night of poor coincidence.

When my wife arrives at the GP clinic, it's about half past nine. They advise that up in emergency, there's only 4 people waiting, so they are going to send her up there to see someone for convenience sake. When she gets there, there is about 10 people waiting. However, in the first hour they get through everyone except for her. The nurses take a look at our boy, and decide that he's OK to go home. However, a nearby doctor calls out that they need to have the doctor on emergency review him, and so my wife is told she'll need to wait to see the doctor. This is at about 10pm. At this point, a series of ambulances begins to arrive, and suddenly the single doctor on emergency becomes incredibly busy.

It's 1am before they get any further information. She's told they're next in line, and she should "give them another half an hour". At 2:00am, the waiting room is empty except for her, and still no doctor, and no further information on how long she might have to wait.

Finally, at about 2:45am, the doctor calls her in. He quickly reviews the situation, and concludes that my son is fine. This takes less then 10 minutes. Meanwhile, my 3 week old son has spent over 5 hours in the emergency waiting room that has had sick people coming in and out and coughing, sneezing and vomiting everywhere, just so he can get a 10 minute review that we really didn't want from the emergency department in the first place. The KidsNet nurse I'd spoken to way back at the beginning was keen for us not to wind up in emergency for this very reason, but because she'd told us to take him to the GP clinic, we'd wound up there anyway.

So - the end of this story is that I've had 4 hours sleep, my poor wife has had about 3, and we have to just keep going on with the business of the day. Work for me, and for her looking after our 2 boys. Good times. And I mean that in the slightly sarcastic way.

Did I mention I'm just a bit tired?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Australian PS3 $999 bundle getting the axe

So at E3, there was a bunch of shenanigans about the price of the Playstation 3. The US got a nice $100US price cut on the 60Gb, and the introduction of an 80Gb unit at the original price. Then Sony Europe announced European territories were not getting a price cut but instead were getting a bundle for the same price - but that's OK because the US were being lied to: their price drop was really just a clearance sale on the 60Gb units. Eventually, Sony confirmed this was true, but reminded people that they might drop the price of the 80Gb unit in the future, and everyone eventually settled down and was happy with the fact that only a completely clueless company would increase the going price of their console, and right now US PS3's were $100 cheaper.

Meanwhile, Australia being a part of Europe as we are, got the "bundle for the same price" setup, where $999 no longer just got you a console and one controller, but instead got you the console, 2 controllers and 2 of the launch games. The increased value of this is not really debatable, but it's still a lot of money for most people.
Anyway - now to the interesting bit. If you follow the link from the post title, you'll see that Sony are canceling the bundle in Australia from the end of August. Now, one way to really make people unhappy is to charge them the same price for less product, so I find it hard to believe that they're reverting to selling non-bundled PS3s for the same price as always. There are only really two options here - Sony will be releasing the 80Gb PS3 unit here, and charging $999 for it, or they'll be dropping the price. And personally, I think the price drop will be where it's at. Sony are doing fairly well here, and cementing Australia as a predominantly PS3 territory would be well worth their while as far as making shareholders a little less concerned.

Anyway - just was interested and thought I'd blog. If anyone was considering buying a PS3, right now might *not* be the time to do it. Leipzig Gaming Conference is at the end of this month, and there's a suggestion that price cuts for the "European" territories will be announced there. There's also a suggestion that the rumoured rumbling controller will be confirmed/shown/release date announced. And that in itself is worth waiting for.

OK - all done. Have a great day all.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Campbell @ Home

If this is your first visit here today, there's another post below this one that has a bunch of new photos I posted a couple of hours ago. If you've already seen them, well - HERE'S SOME MORE!!!

More Campbell Pictures!

Sorry for the delay - there should hopefully be two posts here in short succession with new photos of our little joybundle. As a sidenote, I should trademark "Joybundle" and start up a kids clothing line... ;)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Campbell Maitland Warner

Allow me to introduce my youngest son, Campbell Maitland Warner. He was born on the 25th of July at 6:26am, weighing 3.59 kgs at a length of 52cm. Speaking of which, did anyone ever wonder at what point you stop being "long" and start being "tall"? It's a conundrum, I tell you. ;)

Anyway - Mum and Bub are doing really well, although Mum is particularly tired at this point. I just got off the phone with her, and it looks like she's going to be in for a long night.

Here are some photos - they seem to have uploaded all out of order, so these aren't in the order they were taken. However, please enjoy. :) More will come as the days go on.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Waiting...

My wife, right now, is 39 weeks and 6 days pregnant. My first son was born 2 weeks early, and to be honest, we've been expecting the arrival of #2 since about 37 weeks. However, an early arrival seems not to have come to pass. This has produced substantial extraneous stress on both our parts, as we are kind of in this holding pattern where we don't feel like we can DO anything until the baby is born.
We've been told, that although there is a lot of suggestions of ways that you can bring on labour, ultimately they don't know what starts it off. So there's nothing we can do that is going to give us any confidence that this child is any closer to being born.
So we wait... We'll keep you all informed.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Mac OSX: Success breeds malware

It’s always been claimed by Mac advocates that the lack of Mac OSX malware was not to do with the fact that malware writers were logically targeting the largest OS population, but rather was to do with the fact that OSX was inherently more secure.

It seems that with the rise in the population of OSX users, people are starting to exploit it, proving the previous assertion false.

Reading this article, this vulnerability is equivalent to the one that allowed the infamous Blaster worm on Windows to propagate – that is, a remote exploit that gives the hacker root access to deploy any code they wish to the compromised system.

My company has numbers of clients who run Mac servers that are open to the wider world sans any kind of firewall. We even have one I know of that you can get remote access to their server without a password. We've advised them that's a bad idea, but they believe their Mac will remain secure. It's a product of the misinformation by Apple that because presently there are no major threats, that the situation will continue. Hopefully, people will begin to realise that being under the radar only provides you security while you're small enough to fit there.

If you use a Mac and you're reading this - be smart. OSX is not magically all-secure. Firewalls and virus protection are good, good things.

@Nathan: I certainly wouldn't describe this post as "whiny". Maybe "gloatish"? lol.
@Frances: More mind-bent philosophy/less computer-nerdish technobable post is coming soon, I promise. :)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

E3 - Sony Press Conference

I missed the start of this conference, so I'm not 100% sure how it kicked off. As I got on, they were introducing the PSP redesign. Smaller, lighter, in a bunch of colours - and the original will be dropping in price. Also has TV connectivity. Very nice.

Jack Trenton introduces the limited edition StarWars PSP with Chewbacca. Very cheesy. The PSP is white, with a screenprint of Darth Vader on the back. Cool design. Having Chewbacca on stage is still laden with cheese. Not quite as bad as the MS dude trying to be gangsta, but still really bad.

Phil Harison takes the stage to talk about the PS Network - 2 million sign ups since launch. New games - Echochrome, WipeOut HD, Pain, Warhawk and SOCOM: Confrontation. A couple of these (I believe Warhawk and SOCOM) will also be on BluRay. Echocrome is of particular mention, because it has increadibly simple graphics (stick figures, all in black and white) but is just a clever gameplay mechanic. It will be coming to both PSP and PSN.

Moving on to PS Home. Beta is going well for Autumn roll-out. New additions to the service - firstly, Home client on mobile phone. This is a simplified interface for communicating with Home. Phil takes a picture on the phone, and puts it back in his pocket. Shows the new lobby for Home on PS3 - It's an outdoor area which replaces the old lounge we saw previously. Showreel of some of the new spaces under construction for Home. Phil's character goes into his Norwegian Chateaux Home space, and he has Singstar on his in-game TV. Throws to a movie about SingStar.

Dev talks about the competitively of SingStar, and that it's "like iTunes meets MySpace".

Back to Home. The photo taken earlier is now on the wall in Phil's Home space. Talks about the social networking aspects of Home - online social networking website, the ability to take ingame experiences and put them out onto the web.
Last feature - can launch games from in Home with other players, and will jump straight into the game with those people. Awesome. Demos this with Motorstorm (ha - go Phil). Gets absolutely creamed. :) Any game can be launched like this, and it's seamless to jump in and out of games from Home.

Back to Jack Trenton for a Playstation 3 update. Two basic goals this year: broaden the install base, and deliver a wide selection of game services that take advantage of the system's capabilities. Talks about the new 80Gig package and says it's for the "audio visual enthusiast". Talks about the price cuts. Goal of 11 million units in homes this year. Talks about the inclusion of BluRay, and the success of the format.

Now to the games: 200 BluRay games worldwide, 120 PS Network games coming.
Announces that NCSoft is joining Playstation studios - will be developing networked games exclusively for PS3. Now about Ubisoft and Haze - exclusive this holiday season to PS3. Shows some footage. This game looks awesome. Not overly graphically intense, but lots of cool gameplay features - weapon stealing moves, vehicles, melee combat, a variety of weaponry. Looks like fun.

Epic's Unreal - Unreal engine to be fully optimised for PS3, so that game creation will improve. Unreal Tournament 3 will be a PS3 exclusive, and will allow the use of PC-written mods on the PS3. Wow. That's huge.
Shows a trailer - looks massive. Note that there's a "From the studios that brought you Gears of War" title during the trailer. Dodgy PR poke!

Game list:
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Assassin's Creed
Kane & Lynch: Dead Men
Resident Evil 5
Burnout Paradise
Madden NFL 08
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
The Simpsons Game
Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock
Medal of Honor: Airborne
Rock Band (woohoo!)

Jack back to introduce one last 3rd party game as an exclusive - Metal Gear Solid 4. Kojima comes to the stage! The crowd goes wild! :) His translator relays the following:
This is the final Metal Gear Solid in the series. The story about Snake will end, and Kojima will finish his involvement in the series. All the story lines will wrap up, and mysteries be revealed. The game will include new elements of stealth in the battle field. He's going to show the new trailer. It's real-time footage from the PS3, and it will be the premiere of this new trailer.

OK - trailer rolls. Oh gosh - Graphics are incredible. Not photo realism, but very nice. Think Final Fantasy: Advent Children. If it's rendered in real-time, that's incredible. Meanwhile, the story line looks a bit disturbing, but very good. Trailer ends with a massive anime/matrix style fight scene where the characters really should have died like multiple times. But the action happens very quickly - it's good stuff. Finishes with a title indicating simultaneous worldwide release. Kojima says there will be a playable demo in Tokyo next week, and he hopes everyone can come. The crowd laughs.

Throws back to Phil for the first party line-up. His Home avatar is dressed as Ratchet, and is in the theatre in Home.

First, (obviously) Ratchet and Clank: Gives some story details - the game delves into Ratchet's past a little more. The game was only possible on PS3.

Back to Phil in the theater - now looking at Folklore: Dev says it's a good mix of genres. Talks about the controls as being immersive. Trailers play in the background - looks very nice.

Back in Home, Heavenly Sword gets it's own special theatre. Nifty! Trailer plays - Dev talks about Heavenly Sword - gives a rundown on the story. Says it's very story driven, and very graphically expressive. Without BluRay they couldn't have done it.

Back to Home again, Phil talks about NBA 08. Trailer plays - Dev talks about it: 1080p, weekly updatable content, online play. Looks a lot like the old one! :)

Now to LittleBigPlanet! Phil sums it up as "Play, Create, Share". They focused on the Play at GDC, and now they're looking at Create. Trailer plays - Dev talks about how the game won't be "out" when it's released, because the addition of content is what will make it really a fantastic game.

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune now showing - Dev talks about the animation engine and the use of Cell. Main character has over 3000 animations. Going to be "the best game Naughty Dog has ever made."

Back to Phil on stage - that was 6 of the 15 exclusive games.
The makers of the PS2 game "Sly" are working on an "emergent gamplay sandbox" game called "inFamous". Sounds kind of like an action MMO, but no confirmation of it being persistently online. Will allow you to choose to be good or evil. Gameplay looks great, but doesn't show too much. Cars flying through the air. Guy running up the side of a building. Very dark. Coming 2008.

Back to Phil - talks about Gran Turismo and the success of the franchise. Gran Turismo 5 Prologue is coming as a prelude to the full game. Features full online, but no indication of what else is/isn't in the game. Graphics for this, as you would expect, look phenomenal.

Jack in Home - says that Phil forgot one thing. Throw to Killzone trailer - Phil says "everything you are about to see, is realtime." Wow... like... Wow. Particle and weather effects are awesome, character animation is fluid and detailed, gameplay looks fast and crazy. This does look like a GREAT game. Kotaku made a comment about the mouth movements being a little odd, and I see what they mean. Aside from that, the facial animations are incredibly detailed. Attention to detail is really what I'd say is this game's strong point. Things like the glass effect on the gun's scope visible when you're using your weapon normally are done just right. This game will be rated quite highly too - there's a heavy use of bad language, and a lot of blood when someone gets shot heavily.

Jack on stage now - talks about their commitment to the gamers. Leading innovation, etc. Fade to black. OK - conference over. Did I miss the rumbley SIXAXIS? Surely it was there. Maybe not... Hmmm...

All in all, this was much what I was expecting. I'll need to look up what was shown at the beginning, but a PSP redesign was entirely anticipated. The things that were missing were some new announcements - these were incredibly light-on, and that's pretty disappointing. To be fair though, most of their line-up for the next 12-18 months is already on the table. The other thing, unless I missed it, was the rumble. I really want them to get that out there so I can buy some new controllers.
Anyway - all in all it was good, but perhaps slightly less on show that what I had hoped for.

Looking at the game line-ups across 360 and PS3, there's nothing that Xbox360 has that isn't matched by the Playstation, except for Katamari/Viva Pinata. However, the video service with Disney is a big punch by MS, and Sony really didn't answer that with anything. Video on demand from Sony must be on the cards, but they're cards that Sony are keeping close to it's chest at this point.

EDIT: Saw an interview with a Sony rep on Gamespot later in the day, and the rep indicated that there are people working hard on a video/music store but there's nothing ready just yet - as soon as it is ready, we'll hear about it. This was kind of known, but it's nice to have it so openly confirmed. Yes it's in development, but no it's not ready yet. I'm happy with that for now.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

E3 - Microsoft Press Conference

NOTE: This is typed live as I watch, so I'll clean it up later. Feel free to look though my draft though.


1:15pm - Waiting for live streaming to go live.

1:32pm - Some guy just announced that the event is about to begin. Nice. I've been looking at Xbox advertising for the last little while...

1:36pm - a 5 piece playing the Halo theme while game scenes display on screen. Nice effect. The violinist is particularly impressive, as she's playing the guitar lead. Decent music. Supposedly a display of inspiration provided by Halo.

1:37pm - Peter Moore takes the stage. Talks a bit about the band - apparently they love Halo. Who would have thought?

1:39pm - Every demo seen is a game that will be coming this year. Makes a point of saying "every exclusive" and that they have "all the games you want to play - right here, right now"

Harmonix hit the stage with Rock Band. Nice.
Rock band actually looks really good. But the woman doing the singing is kinda poor. For those who haven't seen, Rock Band has 4 parts - the vocal part looks similar to SingStar and displays across the top quarter of the screen. The other 3 parts (guitar, drums and bass) display across the bottom in that order using the familiar Guitar Hero format. Drums consists of 4 drum pads and a pedal. Horizontal bars across the four note columns seem to indicate where the kick drum goes. Nice system - looks smart, and the guys on stage (which includes Peter Moore on guitar) seem to be doing fairly well.

Pete accidentally pauses the game mid song. Ha, well done. Eventually works it out, and they pick up where they left off.

Not 20 seconds later, and he pauses it again... Oh gosh, you would think he'd learn.

1:43pm - Petey gives Rock Band the PR plug. Then introduces what looks to be a Viva Pinata sequel for 360. I know a lot of Gamespot editors will be really excited. Title is "Viva Pinata: Party Animals". Looks like mini game type setup, using creatures from Viva Pinata

1:45pm - Mass Effect now. Won best RPG at last years E3, apparently. The trailer looks... OK. And there's not exactly an abundance of sci-fi RPGs, so it looks kind of good. Seems to borrow a bit from Halo though...
Pete is back - says it will be on shelves in November 07.

Peter talks about growth - Xbox leading growth across not just hardware, but right across the whole market. Showing graphs of the install base. And of sales since launch of PS3/Wii. And now of games since launch. These last numbers seem a bit misleading, as they're for the period beginning November 06 to present and show games per system - however, Wii and PS3 were both kicking off their game libraries, and 360's was well established. Given that, Wii and Ps3 appear to be competing much better then they're given credit for.

$2.4 billion spent at retail since November > Wii+PS3. "Xbox360 driving this generation."

Top 5 best selling games came from 2 francises last generation - GTA and Halo. 75 million units sold end of year 2004 - GTA, Madden and Halo 2. Same 3 games this holiday season. IGN reported drive a 3rd of sales this holiday season.

Games list - about time.
Project Gotham 4
Dynasty Warriors: GUNDAM
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Guitar Hero 3
Beautiful Katamari
Lost Odyssey
NBA Live 08
Mass Effect
Fatal Inertia
Medal of Honor Airborne
Tiger Woods PGA
Ace Combat 6
NHL 08
Assassin's Creed
Spider Man
The Simpsons Game
Splinter Cell
Eternal Sonata
Madden NFL 08
Tony Hawk's Proving Ground
Crash of the Titans
Harry Potter
The Orange Box
Bee Movie Game
Rock Band
Naruto: Rise of a Ninja

All done - Jeff Bell gets on stage.

Selling the idea of Xbox being good right now. Announcing a new game now...
SceneIt? - selling to the casual gamer/family demographic.

Oh my goodness... It's a Wiimote! They're announcing a controller that looks like a cross between the Buzz controllers, and a Wiimote. That is so, so wrong.

Re announcing Naruto now. Raving about it's popularity, and that it's exclusive. Time for a trailer...

1:58pm - Trailer for Naruto. Cell shaded graphics suit it well. Looks quite quick... lots of running. Dodgy Japanese rock, but I'm quite the fan, so I can't complain. Fight mechanics look good. Lots of anime stylings - big hits with power flashes and pauses for effect. Looks interesting.

Peter is back - about to announce a sports game, because he's talking about their partnership with EA Sports. Announcing that the 08 range will run twice as smooth as the last run of games. You can tell he's trying to take a roundabout dig at PS3, which is slated to run Madden at 30fps. Anyway - Reggie Bush now on stage. Obviously an NHL player.

2:01pm - Reggie and Pete play some Madden. Lolz - Reggie comments that he'll have to be careful because he knows how "you Microsoft guys like to cheat".
I have no interest in Madden - but the graphics look nice.
Pete gets schooled, then tries to talk gansta, but can't pull it off.

2:03pm - Xbox Live PR time. 7 million users registered. New member every 8 seconds. Wow. Forecasting 10 mil signed up by next E3.
Xbox Live arcade selling... 45 million game downloads... 100 games by the end of the year.
Arcade game list:
Bomberman Live!
Hexic 2 (I have to laugh...)
Sonic the Hedgehog
War World
Sensible World of Soccer
Wing Commander
Feeding Frenzy 2
Track & Field
Spyglass Board Games
Golden Axe
Space Giraffe
Super Puzzle Fighter
Word Puzzle
Poker Smash
Tetris Splash
Puzzle Quest
Boku Sudoku

2 new games available as of now - Sonic and Golden Axe.

Video store fastest growing area. Xbox the only console with this available - on demand video/movies/etc. $125 million on D/L content since launch.
Announced an agreement with Disney. Disney video content on Xbox Live.

Showreel of Disney shows - while this plays, let me speculate that their agreement includes an exclusivity clause. Sony is rumored to have a video service in development, so this might undercut them.

2:09pm - This is all available from tonight. Future releases from Disney will also be added to the content available.
By the end of the year, the service will extend to Canada and Europe, and they're looking to extend to the rest of the world. Xbox 360 Elite package will launch in Europe in August, to support the new service.

2:11pm - Shane Kim takes the stage. VP of MS Game studios.
PR talk. Talks about the success of previous games.
Demoing Project Gotham Racing 4. Bikes are being added, and we see some shots of them racing. Reflections in this game are quite impressive - water effects on the road are particularly nice. Includes the ability to share photos/videos of your races with friends.

Trailer showing now - not as nice as what we've seen of GT-HD on PS3, but still very nice graphics. Weather simulation is obviously a big focus - some shots of sliding through snow, etc.

(Note: I've now been watching for an hour.)

Talks about providing the resources for game developers. (Like that $50mil they paid for exclusive GTA episodic content.)

(Re)Announces Alan Wake, Too Human, Fable 2 and Halo Wars. Focuses on Lost Odyssey - shows the trailer. Looks quite epic - but some in game shots show less-than-stellar graphics.

The guy says that "if you're an RPG gamer, Xbox 360 is the place to be this holiday season". I'd really have to dispute that.But hey, what would I know? These guys are in PR for goodness sakes! Any RPG gamer would probably be best to pick up a PS2 if they didn't have one already... Anyway, moving on.

Games for Windows time: Viva Pinata, Gears of War (acknowledges this leaked early). Invites Gears of War creator Cliffy B to the stage.
Forgive me if I don't blog this, but this stuff is all old - GFWL was shown last year.
Oh - but they've actually added to the Gears of War story for the PC. This is interesting because it's commonly held that the story is quite lacking on the 360, although certain game sites (*cough* Gamespot *cough*) still saw fit to rate it extremely high on all counts.
Graphics are lovely, but you'd expect that on a PC. From the graphics, it's obviously DirectX 10 and some crazy high-end hardware. Like - crazy.

Peter takes a poke at PS3 by mentioning the fact that XBox Live interface is consistent across titles. Announces partners for Games for Windows Live. One of the outcomes of this is that the Unreal Engine 3 will have XBox Live connectivity built in. Which, if I can give my opinion, is crazy for a graphics engine.

GFWL games now being listed:
Flight Simulator X
Thrillville: Off the Rails
Bee Movie Game
Hellgate London
Age of Empires 3
Gears of War
Universe at War: Earth Assault
BlackSite Area 51
World in Conflict
Age of Conan
Lost Planet
Kane & Lynch
Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts
Zoo Tycoon 2
Juiced 2
Viva Pinata
Spider Man: Friend or Foe

All done.
Shows off Call of Duty 4. Actual gameplay footage entirely. Graphics are pretty good. Some of it looks touched up to be honest, but my graphics view is limited - I'm watching this in 320x240.
Some guys come on stage to play COD4. Lighting and foliage is done well. To be honest, movement seems a little too fluid for realtime. I might be wrong.
Beta exclusive to Xbox Live. Recruiting as of now.

Peter is back - announces new Splinter Cell for Xbox 360 only. Turns focus to GTA4. Announces the trailer was rendered in real time on an Xbox 360. Shows Trailer 2. Talks about those 2x$25mil episodic updates.

Talks about Japanese 3rd party support - Virtua Fighter 5 exclusive online, Eternal Sonata and Devil May Cry 4. And now announces Resident Evil 5 coming next year. Still no MGS4, thank goodness. Now Assassin's Creed. My brother points out that the characters have American accents, which goes against the environment setting of ancient Jerusalem.

Live action Halo 3 trailer developed by WETA and Bungie. Obviously they didn't have anything else to do with all those assets! :) Looks great.

Halo 3 launching September and they're launching a Halo 3 themed Xbox and accesories.

2:55pm - Wrapping up - reiterates they're driving this generation. Relists the big titles. Says goodbye and throws to a Halo 3 trailer. Looks impressive - I did enjoy Halo.

And that about wraps up the press conference. All in all, it was pretty much what I was expecting. There were a few happy digs at the PS3 install base, the games catalogue today, the consistency of the online experience, etc. However, I think the biggest news was probably the agreement with Disney. That speaks volumes for families looking to get a console. The furfie of the press conference goes to the Wiimote/Buzz controller. That really is a bad idea. People are going to call it for being a clone, which it is. I suppose they're bargaining on the target audience not caring, but I think at this point a Playstation 2 with Buzz is going to be a better purchase option, especially price wise.

Basically - gloating about sales, showing of ridiculous peripherals (and money-grabbing themed console SKUs), and some more gloating, this time about exclusives. The only variation from this was the Disney announcement, which from a business perspective I would suggest Sony should see as a serious point of competition.

E3 Begins

Hi all, and welcome to my entirely biased coverage of E3 2007. The following couple of posts will detail news and announcements from E3 that I deem worthy of my comment.

E3 kicks off at 1:30pm today (Wednesday) for us in Australia, and does so with Microsoft's press conference. We can expect gloating about sales, the reshowing of ridiculous peripherals, and possibly some more gloating, this time about exclusive games. Oh, and lots and lots of Halo 3.

To be honest, I hate Microsoft's gaming division. Xbox360 is a reasonable gaming platform and has lots of games, but their tactics are downright dirty. My big gripe for the day is that they've secured exclusivity for Beautiful Katamari - a game that was multiplatform, and that I was planning to buy as soon as it became available for my Playstation 3. It was coming to 360 anyway - but now it's NOT coming to PS3. Add to that the question of Metal Gear Solid 4 going multiplatform, and I'd suggest there's a heck of a lot of money being thrown around at the moment to try and ensure Sony doesn't get back on top of this generation of games consoles.

Along that line, I'd like also to throw my 2 cents into the "multiplatform is good for everyone!" argument, in case I haven't already. I see in particular a lot of Xbox 360 fans saying this when previous Playstation exclusive titles go multiplatform. However, I don't see them complaining when Microsoft pays $50 mil to secure exclusive GTA content. Or when they pay off Namco to drop Playstation 3 from Beautiful Katamari's platform line-up. Multiplatform is only good for owners of the currently dominant console. For those who own the currently less dominant console(s), multiplatform means there are less compelling reasons for others to buy the same console they did, which means a lower install base, and thus less incentive for developers to develop games for it. Multiplatform games, especially big name titles, mean a short-term gain for gamers who already have a lot of titles with a long-term loss for those who don't; for those who've invested in the non-dominant platform (read: me). The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.

Anyway - stay tuned for updates if you're too bored to read games-related media for yourself. I'll give you the lowdown on all the gloating following the press conference this afternoon.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


Click the piccy to see context, but generally - that's just tops. LoLz!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Before I left home this morning, I thought to myself:

"Hmm, I'm feeling a little under the weather. Maybe I should bring some Panadol to work with me today."
And then, I didn't. Obviously I need an opera singer.

(You all know the whole story was just an excuse to post this video, right? Right?)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Random post

"In our real lives, there's also always the next level we're chasing after....But really, there are few blessings in life that are quite so great as to be able to spend one's days laboring creatively in the service of something that one genuinely loves. This is really the dream all game creators are living with all the time."
- Alex Rigopulos, Harmonix Music Systems

I believe this quote is from a keynote at GDC06. With E3 '07 coming up I thought it was worth posting. I've had it sitting on my desktop for a while. It just... sounds good. It's sort of the explanation of where I wish I was. And hey - yay for E3!

On a different note, I've just deleted a whole lot of long draft posts from my blogger account. Most of them were disections of topics I feel strongly about - science vs. God, family, politics, etc. Mostly they were motivated by something I'd read and felt compelled to respond. However, I deleted them because of the realisation that my posting them achieves nothing. I can have very little impact on anything that goes beyond my immediate circle of influence. So I give up. I think that's why I've stopped posting so much on here. Random life events aren't something people care about reading, and the rants I post have little affect on anything.

I'll probably post more family-related stuff once the new bubba arrives, but beyond that... I don't know.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

BSOD-ing Fun.

Today is the second-last day that Windows Vista Release Candidate 1 will run on the two machines I have it installed on. At the end of tomorrow, it will expire and will only be able to boot for 2 hours at a time to enable data retrieval - something I must admit I am quite glad about. The two machines are my work PC, and my home PC. At home, I plan to install a copy of Vista RTM that I have handy, and try and purchase a license within the max 120 days you can evaluate it for. At work, I have an install of XP on a secondary partition, so my plan is to simply roll back to that. However, fate would not have it that way...

This morning, I decided to get stuck straight into rolling back my PC. The next time I'll be in the office is next Monday, and I really wanted to have this resolved prior to Vista switching into "2 hours at a time" mode. So I copied across all the relevant data I could find, cleared my desktop and got to that point where I decided that I no longer needed Vista. So I switched the boot manager to default to XP, and rebooted my machine. On launching into my old WinXP install, I discovered there was a small problem that could make the system unstable on startup. So, I did some quick clicking and found a system update I needed to resolve the issue. At this point, someone in my office asked me if I'd like a cup of coffee. This is relevant, and in a moment, you'll see why. I downloaded the update, and clicked to install. It did it's system checks and started to install, when suddenly...


The screen went blank, and the coffee which had been noisily bubbling in the background went quiet. I hurried over to our switch box, and saw that the circuit breaker had tripped. Oh bugger. I look back - there's coffee everywhere. The coffee machine had gone somewhat mental and bubbled over, tripping the circuit breaker in the process. I quickly switched the breaker back on, and hurried over to my machine. As it moved to the XP boot screen I breathed a sigh of relief - but unfortunately, too soon. The system rebooted. And then it did it again. And again. I finally woke up enough to realise something was wrong, and set Windows not to reboot on error. The next time, I was greeted by a glaring great BSOD with the message "BOOT_DISK_UNMOUNTABLE".



So I boot into the recovery console using a copy of XP I have lying around, but unfortunately it won't let me. I can only log on to the Vista install, and by default Vista uses a random Administrator password. Useful.So I start hunting around for NTFS-enabled boot disks so that I can do a disk repair. Can't find any, but stumble across Bart's PE. Having used Windows PE before, I know this is my saviour, so I download it and use a Win2003Srv virtual machine on my Mac to create the CD. Once I boot it up on my Windows box, I start a disc check and the errors it's fixing start to fill up the screen. About half an hour later, it finishes. I reboot... I hold my breath... and...


Anyway, moral of the story is that Bart is my new hero. And could be yours too. I recommend anyone who has vague technical competence and uses Windows beyond WinME should have a PE disk lying around, and Bart's is free and easy to use. Having a functioning (while very, very limited) Windows install on a bootable CD is just awesome, and allows you to fix stuff you otherwise couldn't.

Anyway, rant done. Computer works. Back to work I guess.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Randomness of the Day

I thought this image was so funny, I had to share it with you all:

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

As predicted, Microsoft + consoles = big bad.

I've always said that Microsoft's entry to the console market was a bad thing. I've always said that their history in all things PC showed trends that would be highly detremental to what makes console gaming appealing, at least for me. And now, they unveil their latest monstrosity:

So that I'm being fair, this keyboard thingy is an add-on to the controller, but the fact that it exists at all is an abomination. You're putting a keyboard in the hands of a console gamer as he plays games, so that he can type stuff. The implications of this are increadible. For one, it won't be long before developers start using keystrokes to control games - I mean, how handy to be able to select weapons directly without cycling through. But then it will become a requirement for games. And hell, if we're going to make people buy a keyboard, why not a mouse as well? Windows Vista - Xbox edition, anyone? IT'S NOT A PC. IT'S A GAMING CONSOLE!!

Microsoft and gaming is t3h 3v1L, end of story. Their recent moves all parallel their movements in the computing industry, and while I can cope with them for my PC, I'm not willling to do the same for my console. I bought a console for the very fact that it worked different to PCs - one piece of hardware that just works with all games for years, no upgrades, simple control schemes, and a very specific focus - games. Microsoft are making it all about Live. I don't want Live. I want to sit down and play some games - often on my own, uninterrupted by random chat buddies, without needing to type stuff, or make microtransactions. *sigh* It's not going to stop though, is it? My PS3 has a lot of the same stuff now, and as the MS fanbois all cry "Ha ha - we've got and you don't!" Sony will respond by adding that abominable feature to their console, so they can keep up with the Joneses. Meanwhile, I, who love RPGs with epic stories, and really am not overly fussed about online play, will be lost in a rising sea of those who think the defining feature of a game is how many people you can have online to shoot in any one map. Don't get me wrong - I love a good bit of FPS every now and then, but I'd really much rather be playing against half a dozen friends in the same room/house then 40+ people who I've never met on the other side of the world. Why aren't people designing consoles to better facilitate this? Obviously I'm a minority, I guess.

This from the linked article:

Windows Live Messenger, big deal. While the slick friend list integration and nifty keyboard are impressive, the addition of Messenger to the Live service is really more of a harbinger of things to come. Don't be surprised to see your MSN and Hotmail email accounts added to the mix in future updates to Xbox Live and, with a little wheeling and dealing on Microsoft's part, you shouldn't be surprised to see a service like MySpace taking part. Of course, the keypad to me signals the coming of an integrated Web browser.

*sigh* Add a copy of Remote Desktop, and I could do my job on an Xbox360. Awesome. Just what console gaming needs. Not.

Change is a good thing

Watch the linked video. It's hilariously funny, and yet also very disturbing. It makes me not want to ever visit the south of the USA, and although the US was probably my highest ranking wishlist destination when I was younger (Disneyland - I mean, what more could you want?), I've pretty much decided that if I die never having visited the "land of the free" I'll be none the worse for having missed it.

See, the thing that angers me in particular is that videos like this (the Chasers' War on Everything clips also come to mind) solicit similar responses from Americans. They believe that we've singled out the stupid people in their country in order to make them look bad. In the comments, people suggest that the video is staged, that the presenters deserved the violent response they got, that they should be shot for doing what they did. The problem is that Americans don't see the image that the rest of the world has of them and go "oh no... we should really do something to fix that", they see it and decide that we're picking on them. That we're singling them out for ridicule by creating false situations. But it's JUST NOT THE CASE.

If you're a citizen of the USA, and you're reading this, please be aware that you have a really bad image in the rest of the world, and truth be told, you deserve it. Perhaps you could do something about it? Go and vote. Educate your kids about the rest of the world, and identify things about other countries and their cultures that are better then your own. It's just worth identifying that you're not perfect - it reminds you that you should constantly be improving.

Rant done - go about your business, citizens.

More US Copyright goodness

Interesting read...

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Economics Of Abundance Is Not A Moral Issue

The point of a copyright is not to say "no one may copy this product unless the copyright holder has been compensated". It is to say "IF there is any money to be made from the duplication and distribution of this material, THEN the copyright holder has the sole right to make that money".
- Alexander Pensky, Comment #42 on the above-linked article.

This text is taken from the comments on the above linked article. This is *precicely* the problem I have with the current tension between media companies and consumers. Copyright wasn't about forcing consumers to pay full price for a product they're not sure they want. Make a copy, have a listen - if you like it, then buy it. If you wouldn't pay money for it, but might listen to it occasionally, why should it be illegal to copy it? You weren't going to buy it anyway. If it's got 2 good songs on it, why should you have to pay for the other 8 suckfest ones the band had to write to satisfy their contract?

Here's the model I see for artists in the future: Abandon the idea of the "albumn." It's dead, get over it. Go to work each day to write songs with your band. Release them online at prices that are simpler then trying to find a download for them. Release new tracks as you produce them. Yes, your songs will get copied and distributed elsewhere, but if it's easy to go to your site and buy a track for a buck fifty, plenty of people WILL do it. I know I would. Especially when I know the money directly goes into making more of the music I'm enjoying, rather then paying the legal fees to sue small children and grandparents. And hey - the band gets ALL the profits. Not some miniscule cut after the record company takes their share.

The above linked article is part of a series, and although I've only read this one, I'd recommend them all. Very logical well thought out discussion.