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Neil de Carteret
It's not his fault - we made him that way.
It came on Friday morning, I installed it on Friday evening, Simon and I started it on Saturday morning, and I finished it a couple of hours ago (Monday morning).

Wow. It's a true successor to System Shock 2. Expansive, decaying structure filled with barking mad former inhabitants gibbering to themselves in a broken parody of their former lives. If you remember SS2's bad guys muttering insanities to themselves ("little ones need lots of food..."), you'll love the lines that Bioshock's "splicers" come out with: a guy dressed as a doctor, holding a vicious knife, stalks after me, shouting, "Nurse! Help me find this patient!". When he finds me, he slashes the knife at me, screaming, "Hold still! It's just a simple procedure!"

Our SLA Industries campaign moved on to part two on Saturday with another all-dayer game. Impressively, my non-combat-oriented business-trained dude got three human kills, which was nice. I've also been making more use of Reality Fold, often with comedic side effects.

Gameforce on Sunday was sans Angus, who's off at GenCon, so we had a run-what-you-brung day. We started with Mission: Red Planet, then Final Straw, Ca$h and Gun$ and finally Jenseits von Theben.

Last night (tuesday) I played Honor of the Samurai with some of the RPG group, and somehow won through doing everything in my power to cripple the other players before seizing the Shoguncy* and then flukily avoiding assassination for four turns.

Meanwhile, when I haven't been playing games I've been hacking on a little Django app (at an average rate of 30 minutes a day) and am growing increasingly impressed with Python's right-first-time factor and Django's object and template model.

Oh, and Bioshock will be out on Friday! Woohoo!

* Shoguncy?
I've had a weekend of uninterrupted hacking, which has allowed me to make major progress on a model mixin for Django which provides nested set-like facilities.

Any readers of this blog who are programmers and also Monty Python fans (hi Kuba) should love Python. I think I've blogged it before, but basically, it's a dynamically typed, object oriented programming langauge, with the cleanest and most readable syntax of any language I know. And it's officially okay to quote Monty Python in your comments. How cool is that?


180-6, ho ho. India's still going to win, though, despite that performance and their weird decision to not enforce follow-on. Highlight of the test so far: even though it was against England, Tendulkar's first ball casual chip-wrapper-throwing-away technique removing a very surprised Pietersen.

Psst, cricket fans: am I doing it right?
Let me start by thanking my homie KAHNYAY for fucking the otherwise excellent track Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger by Daft Punk and thus making me dig it out and listen to it several times to undo the damage he would otherwise have done to my musical recollection.

In doing so, I came to watch Interstella 5555, the anime film film of Daft Punk's Discovery album, from which the track is taken. It's great. It's perfect for the euro-dance feel of the music, but touching, funny, and simple at the same time.

As a public service, here's the original track, with the original video, taken from Interstella 5555:

Also, a very funny hand jive video of it
And an a capella version!
I'm fed up with my laptop overheating because it doesn't have the Windows-XP-only ACPI drivers that the pre-installed Windows had. It is currently 33.2c in my study and moving the mouse too vigorously is liable to cause the CPU to complain.

So I'm Installing Feisty Fawn on Virtual PC 2007 on my main Windows box. It's slow going but looks promising.

Update 1: Ha ha, Ubuntu is so fresh that it no longer supports PS2 mice by default. Virtual PC "2007" is so old-fashioned that can *only* emulate a PS2 mouse. So you need to use mousekeys and then install this patch.

Update 2: She rides! 

Update 3: VPC also emulates a (get this) Soundblaster 16!

Update 4: And it doesn't report true monitor info, so ubuntu is having a hard time upping the screen res.

Update 5: I'm investigating VMWare, which isn't free.

Update 6: The VMWare website has already pissed me off by asking me to "register" before I can download a trial version. The registration process wants to know altogether too much about me, so they now have details of Mr. Fuckoffandie, an Assistant at an Aerospace company in Alabama 90210.

Update 7: The VMWare installer wants to reboot my PC.

Update 8: The installation is a dream! Display, mouse, sound and network are Right First Time. And it's noticeably quicker than VPC too.
Thanks to FaceBook, I met up with my old chum Steve the geneticist* from Uni yesterday. He now lives in deepest darkest Kent so we rendezvoused in Tunbridge Wells, which I'd never been to before, and isn't it a nice place?

I was over an hour late, firstly because the M25 was being its good old self, and secondly because I have as much sense of direction as a ping-pong ball. the directions to get from my manor to the Kelsey Arms in Royal Tunbridge Wells are as follows:
  1. Follow the main road and join the M25 Southbound
  2. Go straight and don't take your foot off the loud pedal until you see signs for the A26
  3. Arrive Kelsey Arms
Instead, I had a nice tour of Tunbridge Wells in the sunshine.

Steve is well, mostly, but has a battery wired to spine to control chronic acute chest pain, so he can't be defibrilated or he'll explode.  Apart from that, he's doing good, working at Pfizer where his job title is now, simply, "Scientist". An he's keeping a small zoo of reptiles and arthropods at home.

*: From the days before I gave up dealing with the real world and went into comp. sci.

And it's only been three months since I first applied.
The wedding on Saturday was good, but odd - it was in a church, with basically the minimum requirement of religion, and some fairly non-standard elements thrown in. So the psycho sky monster got a few mentions, but there were no hymns, and some of the brides friends sang "Get Me To The Church On Time" and "Panis Angelis" (or something; can't remember the exact title. Would Panis Angelis roughly translate to "Angel Food Cake"?).

The reception at the Fermain Valley hotel was equally unorthodox, but quite successful. The first two courses were outdoors, despite dropping temperatures and occasional precipitation. And there was a seating lottery after the starter so everyone ended up meeting new people.

In a vain attempt not to drink too much, I decided not to get onto the beer or whisky - so instead I just sank a couple of bottles of champagne and chablis. Then I got up at 7am the next day because I had a flight to catch. Oh, that was a tactical error :-D

Apart from the wedding, I have for some reason been following the cricket, which is quite out of character for me, and hurray for Vaughn and his valiant century, and boo for pretty much everything else in the second test, including the weather going nice just at the wrong moment.
I'm going back to Guernsey tomorrow for a wedding on Saturday. Two very dear old friends, one of whom is my godmother but who has failed entirely in safeguarding my moral upbringing :-D

In other news, I'm making a chicken tikka masala and it smells absolutely bloody lovely. I just want to drink the saucepan and sod all that chicken and rice business.

Also, I'm doing more and more graphic design at work and reaching the edge of the point where I could start to kid myself that if I practiced a lot more I could actually do it full time. Or it could just be that the people at work are used to such a low standard that anything looks good by comparison.
Simon, willplant and I kicked off Simon's new SLA campaign on Saturday. The new format (Si's idea) is to dedicate a day per month (roughly) to gaming, instead of the weekly evening slots which inevitably fall foul of people's outside commitments.

I posted my character a while back.

I'd say we got 6-7 hours of gaming in, between eating and drinking (fired up the barbecue between rainstorms), which is so much better than a scant 3 hours in a dingy pub.

Sunday was Gameforce day, wherein I managed to get tonybro001 to play half a game of Star Wars TCG before other people turned up. Once we had a quorum, we had a few opening rounds of Drakon (the first round degenerated into a circular money chase), followed by Shadows Over Camelot, and finally Cleopatra and the Society of Architects.

It was also the week to be lucky: tonybro001 won the boardgame prize ( a copy of Thebes), and I won the booby prize - Risk Express.
Firstly, there's a Top Gear Special next Wednesday, which I hope will be the harbinger of a new series. From the Beeb:
Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond are racing to the North Pole, Jeremy and James are in a specially adapted pick-up truck, while Richard is on a sled pulled by a team of huskies.
It's preceded by a Hairy Bikers and a Simpsons documentary, so that'll be a TV night, then.

Secondly, it's Friday!!!

Thirdly, I am now going to take the trash out because the bin smells.
This happened at work today. Syed and I were going the through the contents of the CD we send out to customers:

SYED:     What about installation.pdf?
ME:     Yep, I'll update that
SYED:     And user_guide.pdf?
ME:     That one stays
SYED:   Here's one called "how_to_use_the help_files.pdf"
ME:   Delete it. No-one needs help with the help, and if they do...
SYED:   They need help!

Well, it made me chuckle.
Jakub's pictures from Sunday are online:

I went to the Star Wars 30th thingy at ExCeL on Sunday. Jakub from work had a source of cheap tickets so it made sense. He had his little boy with him so we drove, which was nice.

The content was mostly money-extracting schemes - computer games, comics, outfits, toys - you name it.  But it was all fun to see, and dotted around were various life-size props (Jabba was reclining with hookah in mouth as you entered).

Over in one corner they were doing filmed recreations of the opening scene of ANH with a handful of audience members dressed up as rebel soldiers being shot by stormtroopers, and a dude with a MacBook Pro slicing the raw footage into the original film in Final Cut Pro. It was interesting to watch, but he didn't put any sound or video effects in, so it wasn't entirely effective. The most amusing bit was when his firewire connection gave up the ghost and he had to restart his lappy with hundreds of people watching.

The biggest downside of the whole experience was the number of children there. Maybe it's because it was Sunday, but everything was covered in kids. The demo games were occupied solely by under-12s.

Come on, Star Wars is for grown-ups! This is the *30th* anniversary for heaven's sake! No tinies can appreciate the brilliance of ESB, all they know is a handful of B+ films with an irritating alien who who goes "yessa massa!". The worst moment? Admiring the original costumes at the Prop Store of London stall when some juvenile shite yells, "Look mum! Transformers!"

a) You have no idea what transformers are about. You don't remember Soundwave.  You don't remember when Optimus Prime died. You weren't there, man!
b) You're at a  STAR WARS expo. Stop being excited about bloody Transformers.
c) Go and watch Ceebeebies or whatever it is that human larvae do these days.

Anyway, I battled the waves of screaming tinies to get to the WizKids stand and bought the limited edition tin of the Star Wars Pocketmodel game. Despite the fact that every other customer around me was buying for their pester-empowered spawn and I was the *only* adult buying for himself. They had a demo table with huge 12-inch high foam demo pieces, occupied by... yep, brats. They had no idea what they were doing, and they got free cards at the end.  I almost went to find Kuba to ask if I could borrow his son so I'd have an excuse ton get in on the demo game, but it struck me that there's a fine line between being a fanboy and being downright weird.

The upside was that my Switch Maestro card didn't scan, so I had to get cash, and the nice lady gave me two free boosters for my trouble. Woo!

Over all: It was a fun day at half price.

Disclaimer: I don't actually hate kids. I just wish I was one.

Current Location: Mos Eisley Cantina
Current Music: Figrin Da'n and the Modal Nodes

huzzah for james may, for he makes it okay to be slow.

it woz karting day today. i hav not sat in a go-kart for about ten yrs, and even then it was a 20 min. whiz on an indor surface and i was a new bug and quite thin and much better looking in those days ahem ahem.

i am afrade I did not do very well, like 19th out of 20.  D- SEE ME.  but I was not last. sum weed from suport woz last and I beet him fare and square.  i think my techneeq was mostly oka, but basicly i was the heviest person there by a few stone because i am the gorilla of development hear me pound mi mitey chest, and in a tiny little kart, that is a big penalty. i could see it evry time we started a race or heat as the light went red-red-red-GREEN, i woz sitting there going put-put-put-putta-putta-putta-broom-broom, while every1 else went strate from put-put-put to neeeeeooooowwww. and that is starting, where yore foot is flat to the flore so there's 0 techneeque in pla at all.

i was also dissappointed that in the pre-driving breefing, there was 0 talk of racing lines, passing, curtesy ect. ect. it was all just IF YOO IGNORE A YELLO FLAG YOO WILL BE DISKWALLIEFIED and O GOR GOSH BLIMEY THERE IS A GURL HERE AND A MUSLIM ONE AT THAT so for the first race there woz carnage with peple going all over the place crash bang tinkle.

in tru F1 stile i have now blamed the car and the other drivers for everything, becos i am obviously a fantastik racing driver like that hamilton boy and i was robbed chiz chiz.

overal it woz a grate evening but i need a hevier car so my wate is less ov a penalty. i do not kno why i hav started riting like molesworth
This is absolutely genius. It's a review of the Transformers movie trailer, with comparisons and flashbacks to the original animated series. Very funny.

Current Mood: bouncy Jazzed!
Current Music: Transformers! Doo doo doo, more than meets the eye...

How does this happen? If I want to walk to work, I have to leave before 8:05.  So at 8:04, I picked up my bag, turned off the radio, and walked to the door. I checked my watch and it was 8:09. Where did those minutes go? Am I losing time?  Now I have to mill round for a few more minutes and then get the 8:16 bus.

Does this happen to anyone else?
Went back to Bedales last night and had their wine tasting again, which was champagne this week! Paul Clouet Grand Cru == V. Good.  Drinking champagne was a strangely appropriate way to kick off the SLA campaign with some preliminary graduating-from-Meny stuff. Following which, sushi at Feng Sushi.

Tomorrow, I'm going karting with work, which is either great or terrifying depending on whether I fit in the karts. Last time I tried (over 10 years ago) I could barely wedge my legs in and the whole thing was uncomfortable and dangerous.  But I'm going to give it a go - at the worst, I'll have to be like that 7th Day Adventist on Top Gear's "fastest religion" competition who didn't fit in the Suzuki Liana and had to retire.
James the developer kindly marked my SimpleDateDiff application for. I'm not as hot as I thought I was :-P

On the up side, it was better than any of the job applications they've seen so far, inasmuch as I wrote it myself, it compiles, runs, and gives correct answers.

Actually most of his points were stylistic, signs of where I think in Perl and hate jumping through strictly-OO, strongly-typed hoops. I broke OO quite badly in one place, symbolic of that problem.

Far and away the worst thing I'd done, and I'm ashamed to admit it really, is:

    private static bool isLeapYear(int year)
            return (year % 4 == 0 && ((!(year % 100 == 0)) || (year % 400 == 0)))
                        : false;
AARGH! I know better than that! IF TRUE THEN TRUE AAAARGH SPASM.

The whole ternary operator and explicitly stating True and False is a total waste of space. I don't even know what I was thinking, except that that sort of redundant style sort of maps the way people actually say things. Anyway, for the record, it should have been:

    private static bool isLeapYear(int year)
            return year % 4 == 0 && ((!(year % 100 == 0)) || (year % 400 == 0));

For those who don't program, my original version works exactly the same, but uses two lines of code that just don't need to be there. Wasted space, and fractionally slower to run as a result.

Also, I've phrased the leap year test oddly, but it it's logically correct. I think the more canon way of doing it is

    year % 400 == 0 || (year % 4 == 0 && !year % 100 == 0)

which features fewer brackets.

Anyway, James and Russell very kindly asked me to doll up an HTML page in the afternoon so I could flex my design and CSS skills a bit.