Thursday, 29 May 2008

Quote of the Day

by Charles Pooter

"It sounds draconian. What right has someone got to ask whether you have any
children and how you look after them?"

- Labour councillor Chris Pattison

How can any member of the Labour party say that with a straight face?

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Cat vs Internet

by Charles Pooter

Bizarrely, the only phone socket in our house is in the master bedroom. I haven't had the time or the inclination to move it in the year we have been there. Our wireless internet router sits on my bedside table, two feet from my sleeping head, frying my brain with its microwaves.

I awoke last night at 4 AM to a chewing sound. An instinct made me investigate and so I flipped on the light. Busted!...I caught him red-pawed: the male of our two one-year-old sibling cats, who both share our house, chewing on my broadband internet cable.

This can mean only one of four things:
  1. He is jealous of the time I spend with my laptop, when clearly I should be dangling string in front of his paws.
  2. He is a tabloid reader and is concerned for my heath.
  3. He likes the taste of data cables.

    or...
  4. He is a lolcat:

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Marketing mistakes from Sweden

by Bertrand Boer-Waugh

Working on a project with some Scandinavian people and the conversation turns to some business mistakes. It was prompted by my childish enjoyment of this article.

This is what they came up with in reply:

1. Swedish construction company Åke Larsson Byggare tried to break ground in the states. With their logo, a working beaver they used the slogan "The Swedish beaver comes to town". Don´t know if they were hired or if people asked for prices...

and even better:

2. Swedish construction company Locum wanted to show customer care. It didn't go too well and you don't have to know Swedish to see why...

8 bit thinking in a 64 bit world

by Rabbie Macintosh

As some of you may know, I'm a console buff.

I love the damn things. I can't help it. I have fond memories of every single genre of machine, from the C64 onwards (it's about here that the truly hardcore would scoff at my lack of wisdom of the atari, the BBC, and the other truly early machines. I would give them their due and admit that those were slightly before my time.) and I think that they have really given me a deep seated fascination with almost everything.

Early adventure games led me to question just about everything when I applied it to the world outside the window.

Early action games made me realise that if you get in the way of a car, you will lose.

Early puzzle games placed the foundations for an analytical approach to problem solving, which laid the foundations for a lifetime of supporting broken microsoft products.

Early RPG's, long before the MMO tag was prefix'd, taught me the value of a strong story, and the wonder that it could contain.

I sincerely believe that these games helped me deal with much larger and complex issues in the real world by giving me some real skills towards reasoning, logic, problem solving, and also a sense of wonder about the universe.

I have watched the steady march of technology through the ages and marvelled at the new and awesome toys that have been produced. Hand held technology (pioneered by the Atari Lynx, perfected by the Nintendo Gameboy, overkilled by the Sony PSP.) Advancement in graphics, physics, sound, immersion, emotional content.
Think about this: If you moved someone playing the original arcade of 'outrun' into the present day, their poor head would melt with all the amazing things that we can do today.

There have been other things changing as well. With the advancement in technology has come the massive increase in development costs, and the huge drop in diversity amongst game developers. Gone are the days of games being developed by a tiny group of people, and being incredible to behold nonetheless. I don't wish it were different, but sometimes I kind of wonder if we were still at that stage, would people still be blaming computer games for mass-murder, crime, cults, and anything that they cannot explain within the confines of their limited thought processes?

I have a problem with people laying the responsibilities of their actions at the doorstep of the games industry. A parent turning around and saying "well, I think little Johnny ended up commiting triple homicide and a hit and run was down to playing those awful games..." is just an excuse. It indicates a failure from the parent, both in not taking an interest in their children's hobbies, and also not having a sense of moral responsibility when it comes to what they allow their child to play. I am sure that parents don't allow their children to watch televised violence, therefore, why should digitised violence escape the mantle of parenting? Such lack of action is a failure of concience.

Sure, there is certainly a vast difference in games from the 'classic' genre, and the modern powerhouses of today. The capacity to be able to see everything from the most creative imaginations, to the most depraved violence in a frightning level of detail, colours, and resolutions brings about an entire series of moral questions that I don't think anyone is truly qualified to answer correctly. To even attempt so would take far more space that this page would permit.

Again, this seems to be one of those posts that got lost within itself. I'd like to be able to provide a summary statement which neatly brought a point to bear on the above writing. However, I don't feel that it is my place to inflict such a point on anyone who has read this. It saddens me to see people blame their life problems on games, in the same way that it saddens me to see some of the depraved content that is released by game publishers. It seems to me that the strongest possible way to approach this, as with almost anything, is with a sense of curiosity, and some moral fibre.

Why does that seem so very old fashioned, so very hard, so very 8 bit, in what has become a 64 bit world?






The end of the beginning, or the beginning of the end?



Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Misfortune, or poor choices?

by Rabbie Macintosh

Y'know, I can't help but feel that since my last piece on the French automobile I own, I have somewhat jinxed myself in terms of good fortune with cars, as I appear to have none.

At all.

Let me explain:

So, since the first expenditure of £280 on the fan belt and tensioning spring/pulley set, The car ran like a dream. For 3 weeks. Then it started making the same noise. So, back to the garage. The bit was duly adjusted and the noise went away. Rejoice!

My Fiancee and I make our way over to sunny France in the car for the christening of a friends child. A good time is had by all and we are able to drive around the country in peace, fill the car up with interesting red wines, good German Beers (they warrant the capital letters, such is their quality!) and return to the UK.

15 miles after hitting the UK shoreline, I find that we are stuck at the side of the M27, at 10pm on a Sunday night, as the fan belt has shredded inside the car. Alas, The AA were not able to recover us for 3 hours, but, in that typical understated british way, I said

"Well, at least it's a pleasant night for it."

And so, the car is returned to the garage, where it is repaired free of charge, due to the recent work done. All repairs carried out, I continue to use the car. Glee! I have my Bambi (see previous posts on commuting for details) back!

3 days later the Cam gear fails when I pick my Fiancee up from work. Now, as this is different, it costs. Oh yes, it costs. £345 for the repairs. So, now having spent that much money, I decide that I will service the car too, after all, the garage have done some good work on my car. Yes, that brings the total for that garage visit to £463 - adding in the £280 that I paid out the first time, that's £743 in less than a month.

Fuck.

Finally, the car is returned. Tentatively, I ran it around the block a few times. It seems good. Quiet, very little knock, all seems well.

I have already arranged a commute buddy for my workplace though, so I offer the car to Fiancee for use for her small commute.

This morning, the very day after I get my car back, My Fiancee goes and scrapes it against a wall, damaging the back half of the passanger bodywork.

Fuck.