Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Shush...It's Cathartic

Ok, I realise that this is my second post in a couple of hours, but there’s something I’ve just got to bitch about to someone or my head will explode.

Bitch #1 : Kirby Vacuum Cleaners

Seriously, these are the most useless, convoluted machines I’ve ever had the misfortune to come into contact with. Supposedly they’re wonder machines that can vacuum, shampoo, even be used as the power for a paint sprayer, but have you ever heard the term “Jack of all trades, master of none”?

Their advertising slogan should be “Why buy a machine that does just one or two things really well, when you can own an overly-complicated, worthless piece of shit that does a blue-zillion things (That you really don’t want or need a cleaner to do) really, really badly?”

Not only do you need an engineering degree to attach a hose to get the corners of a room, they manage to clean maybe 3 square feet of slightly dusty carpet, before they become hopelessly clogged, the belt that drives the brushes gets tangled and twisted, and the resulting friction fills your room with the heavenly meadow-fresh scent of burning rubber.

Oh, not to mention their habit of cleaning one spot of carpet, then depositing everything its picked up about 6 inches away.

These shouldn’t be allowed to be called vacuum cleaners…they should be called “Vacuum dirt re-arrangers” because all they do is move dirt from one spot on your carpet to another.

It’s a sad fact that simply shouting at my carpet to “clean up its act” and show a little self respect in regard to its grooming habits is roughly 150 times more effective than using a Kirby.

I miss my Dyson. You know, odd concept, a vacuum cleaner that actually cleans, is easy to use and doesn’t require Stephen Hawking and the reborn spirit of Einstein to change the bag.

Bitch #2 : The “Windows’ Key, and stupidly placed buttons on a mouse.

What the hell is with that Windows key? Not only is it the most stupid invention to ever be shat from Satan’s own anus (why go to all the trouble of clicking the start button, when you can press a key on your keyboard? Wow, over a lifetime of computer use, I must save seconds!) But they place it right next to the alt, ctrl and shift keys. You know, the keys you have to hit by touch alone with your pinky finger in every single FPS game ever made!

Typical Microsoft. Have a ‘feature’ that is absolutely no use whatsoever, but causes more problems than a horny dog at a Miss Lovely-Legs competition.

This key should be the “Boot you out of a video game and make shit crash” key. I’ve searched all over the internet looking for an app to disable it. If anyone knows of a way to do it, let me know.

Secondly, which bright spark decided to put a super-sensitive “back” and “forward” key on the left hand side of a mouse? Great idea guys! Put a button that is positioned perfectly under my thumb on the side of the mouse, so when I’m halfway through a long streaming video or podcast, A slight movement of the mouse will make me go back to the page before it, forcing me to not only reload a nice big video file, but sit through 30 minutes of a flash-based video to get back to where I was.

Seriously, international competition quality target rifles have triggers that break with less pressure. Putting those buttons there makes about as much sense as saving space in your car by combining the gas and brake in one easy to use pedal.

I’m convinced that there’s a shadowy league of shit-stirrers who sit in high-backed leather chairs in a candle-lit, cigar-smoke filled boardroom, who do nothing all day but invent new ways to piss us off. Their emblem, set into the center if their table in jewel encrusted platinum, is a gigantic “One Finger Salute”

“How about a new button on a mouse that is completely useless, but positioned in the least ergonomic position possible?”

“Yes, my brother, and lets make it so sensitive that an ant farting three states over will cause it to click!”

“Excellent, it’ll be the biggest annoyance since we invented the ‘Windows Key’! Huzzah!”

Then they’ll drink their brandy with a mocking laugh, before going out and removing ever scrap of toilet paper from every public bathroom they can find, before applying that sticky substance to movie theatre floors.

Seriously, if I ever find the people who decided these things are a good idea, I’ll descend upon them like the wrath of kings. Then, as I sit atop my tower of retribution, my gaze falling upon them like the Eye of Sauron, I shall laugh with unbridled glee before incinerating what little is left of them through the sheer force of Righteous Justice, before force-feeding their ashes to their widows and orphans.

I Could Do That

I’m a huge fan of

For those of you who have been living under a rock for the past couple years, here’s the rundown on Digg:

Digg is a “social news” site. Basically, you sign up, and if you’re surfing and come across a news story, an interesting site, video or article that you find particularly interesting, you “Digg” it, which posts it on

Then everyone else who visits Digg can see what you’ve submitted. If they like it as well, they can also ‘digg’ it, and the more diggs a story receives, the higher it climbs on the list.

However, my favorite thing about Digg is “Diggnation”, the weekly podcast.

First of all, I just have to say that I really admire Kevin Rose. It’s incredibly rare for someone to voluntarily leave a TV hosting job because they disagree with the direction of the network they appear on, and ‘demote’ themselves to podcasts.

Whaddaya know? A TV personality with principles! Kevin Rose, I salute you!

Anyway, let me explain the podcast.

It’s essentially Kevin Rose (who created and Alex Albrecht. They sit on a couch with their laptops, drink beer and talk about some of that week’s top stories from Digg.

It’s incredibly simple, but massively entertaining. A lot of the time, it’s laugh out loud funny.

However, I arrived late to Diggnation, and have been spending the past couple of months slowly working my way backwards through their entire library of podcasts. One I watched yesterday left me open-mouthed.

To cut a long story short, Kevin Rose had changed laptops, and the good people at IBM contacted him and asked him why. Obviously wanting their logo back on a podcast viewed by about a half million people a week, they sent him their latest laptop, free and for nothing.

Now here’s the thing. Diggnation has real “I could do that” value. While I’m not belittling Kevin and Alex in any way (as I said, they’re both highly entertaining), how hard is it to sit in front of a camera, drink a few beers, and talk about shit you see on the internet?

Damn, I have everything I need to make my own podcast right here. Why can’t I get a free IBM laptop? Forget Digg, how about a podcast about the top videos posted on Youtube? I write a lot about the stupid shit I see on the news, how about a podcast about that?

That couldn’t be too hard. Instead of writing blog posts, I rope some unsuspecting friend in, and we rant in podcast form, rather than me just writing here.

Well right there, we come to the problem with podcasts. Literally anyone with internet access, a microphone or a camera can make one. I could easily make a Diggnation clone, but the problem with doing that is that it would be just that…a clone.

So I decided to do the right thing, and not inflict myself on the internet in podcast form. See? Just like Kevin Rose, I have principles.

…and if anyone from IBM, or any computer manufacturer stumbles across this post, my act of selfless sacrifice for the good people of the interweb has got to be worth a free laptop.

Just email me and I’ll send you my mailing address. Oh, and can you please make sure it has some decent graphics hardware in it? Oh, and built in wireless would be tops!


Monday, February 26, 2007

Need Sensationalist Filler? Watch Fox News!

Must be another slow news day.

According to Fox news, webcams are the new technological devil. As the overly dramatic voice over says:

“An inexpensive camera and a cable is all dangerous predators need to get into your child’s bedroom. These webcams are a pedophiles dream!

For fuck’s sake give me a break. Right now, hundreds of misinformed parents are tearing the computers out of their kids rooms, because according to the news, a webcam is some sort of satanic direct conduit between sexual predators and their kids.

What’s next? Buying a webcam is like writing “Rape me” on a kids shirt and dropping them in cracktown at 3am?

On tomorrows news:

“Did you know that by pushing a few buttons on the TV remote, your child can see boobies? More at twelve!”

“Food shown to give sexual predators the energy they need to rape your 3 month old daughter. Concerned citizens call for ban!”

“Telephones, mail and speech used to plan the 9/11 terror attacks. Did you know you have these ‘terror tools’ in your very own home?”

Seriously, it’s like they need filler, so they pick some innocuous piece of technology, and make it sound like it’s evil. There are parents out there now who are concerned that pedophiles can somehow remotely turn on any webcam on the planet and somehow use that connection to force children to perform pornographic acts.

Here’s the thing…any communications technology can bring your kids into contact with people who might want to harm them. Whether it’s the phone, the internet, or simply walking into a public park.

The truth is, that “news” report should have been more along the lines of:

“Look, there are dangerous people out there, so what you need to do is pay attention to your kids, get more involved and keep an eye on what they’re doing. Know who their friends are, who they like to hang around with and try and keep track of where they are, who they’re with and what they’re doing.”

Of course, that isn’t as sensational as trying to make out that a webcam is a “pedophile’s remote eye”.

I mean, god forbid you actually parent your kids. Whaddaya mean, I can’t drop my kids in front of a TV or computer and completely ignore them? You mean my kids might require some sort of parental supervision to stop them doing something dangerous or stupid? Since when?

So you can either rip out the TV, computer, telephone keep your kids locked in their room to keep them safe from the evil predators that flood the streets…or you can occasionally pop your head around the door and say “What are you watching/talking to/doing?”

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Happy Birthday Sunny

Yep, today is my lovely wife's birthday, so I hope you'll all join me in wishing her a Happy one!

The following is written with permission from Sunny:

Me (Reading transmission fluid bottle) : This transmission fluid is known in the State of California to cause skin cancer.
Sunny : Well, we're not in California, so we'll be ok.

Ladies and gentlemen...Older? Yes. Wiser? No.

Love you sweetie, many happy returns.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

New Blog Now Live!

Hey all,

My new tech-based blog Geekology is now live!

Add it to your bookmarks!

To everyone (all three of you) who accepted my invitation to write for it, please drop me an email (link over on the right) so I can send you an invitation to put you on the authors list.

Check it out!

New Header Take 2

Yes, I'm completely aware that the new header doesn't exactly fit in with the rest of the design. As Etcher asked if it was part of an overall site was meant to be, but now I don't wanna mess with it until someone can give me a bit of instruction.

I actually designed the header for the new site, which I think is kinda spiffy, here's a little preview:
Then, while I was still in Photoshop I just decided on making a new header for this blog on a whim.

Now, I should point out that I have absolutely no HTML knowledge. Never took a lesson, no one ever taught me anything. The way I do HTML is look at an existing template, and try and work it out. Then I'll randomly change values, preview to see what's changed and kinda work it out from there.

To originally change the header image on this site, I went to someone else's blog, got the name of their header image, then looked at the source code of their blog, searched for the image name, and saw what they did.

So for this blog, it wasn't too difficult. I just replaced the old image URL with the new one and messed with the padding until it fit.

Well, anyway, I figured it wouldn't be too difficult to add a new header to the new blog.

Unfortunately, since Blogger added all its new features, the templates seem to be radically different.

Last night I spent nearly 2 hours trying to put the header on the new site, only to find out I'd put the image as the background of the header. So I ended up with my header exactly where I want it, but the page title superimposed across the logo.

I didn't think this would be a problem, just change the site name to nothing, and it would vanish!

Unfortunately I didn't know TWO things. First of all, you can't have a blog with no title, and two, by changing the title through the new builder, it reverted the template back to it's original form, which completely removed my logo.

So, unfortunately, for the time being, this blog is going to stay exactly how it is now, and it may take me a while to work out how to put the new header on the new blog. If anyone can help me out, I'd appreciate it.

As a side note I also think it's time blogger did a little house cleaning. It took me an hour to find a free URL for the new blog, and it seems every single URL I actually wanted to use was already taken by some douchebag who never updates.

For example, "Geekology" was taken, but had no posts, no template no nothing, and my second choice was taken by a guy who had posted:

"Been trying to get Mac OSX to run, but I'm having problems :/"

That was it, a single post made back in 2002, no updates since. In other words, just because a douchebag who decided to jump on the blogging bandwagon 5 years ago, and lost interest after a single post...I'm stuck with a sucky URL.

Maybe I'll invest a little of the money I've made with Second Life with and buy myself an actual .com domain name.

Oh wait...just checked, is being camped by yet another douchebag.

New Header - So Difficult it Looks Easy.

Yep, you probably noticed the new header.

Just to diminish my geek credibility, with my knowledge of HTML, that actually took me close to an hour to get placed right.

If you look at the logo, it's nice and simple. Have you any idea how hard it is to get something to look that simple and not look like ass?

Well, you're looking at is only about 10 minutes work in photoshop, but to get that look, you need a downloaded custom font, 5 different layer style effects, a gradient mesh and a rendered lighting effect.

Why am I telling you this? I have no idea.

Monday, February 19, 2007

My Two Cents

With all the current controversy with everything that's going on in Iraq, it's just highlighted to me how complacent and "spoiled" we've become.

Let me state for the record that I view the Iraq War as doing the right thing for the wrong reason. Yes, Saddam had to be removed. The guy was just plain evil. He tortured and killed for no reason other than to keep hold of his own power.

In other words, Oil was the reason, Saddam and WMD's were the excuse. So we went into Iraq, freed the people from a dictator, and brought those responsible for the millions of Human Rights Violations to justice.

Then the whole country turned into a nation of Monday Morning Quarterbacks. This should have been done, this shouldn't have been done and this should have been done better.

But now I want you all to think of something.

Imagine we never went to Iraq. Imagine that Saddam is still in power. He's still doing whatever the hell he likes, completely ignoring international law, the United Nations...then hiding behind the same system he's flouting when he needs to.

What would the country be like then?

I'll tell you. Everyone would be on TV complaining just as hard as they are now that Saddam's gone and gassed another bunch of kids in Iran, that he may have nuclear weapons...and despite the fact he's violating treaties by refusing to allow weapons inspectors into the country, or letting them in and not letting them inspect certain sites...That nothing's being done about it.

That's the part everyone seems to have forgotten. Saddam refused to let weapons inspectors into Iraq. Why would he if he had nothing to hide? Then he let them in, but made certain areas off limits.

Think about that. Imagine if you thought your kid had drugs hidden in their room. First they refuse to let you search. Then they say "Ok, you can search, but you're not allowed to look under the bed or in any of the dresser drawers."

What would be the point in looking? What would you do?

The whole thing reminds me of a speech made by Tony Blair (The British Prime Minister), before he was elected. I'll paraphrase, but it went something like this:

"People want a better school system, improvements to the National Health Service, more police on the beat etc, etc, but at the same time they want fewer taxes. These things have to be paid for. You can have improvements to the country or lower taxes...but not both."

In other words we go to Iraq and everyone complains, when (at least in my opinion), if we hadn't, we'd be complaining just as hard.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

How Ironic...

Earlier this evening I was sitting in front of my TV, and I saw one of those “Over the Influence” anti-drug ads.

This one was a very bad animation, that looked like a 4 year old have drawn it (I’m not saying that is necessarily a bad thing, it was obviously a design choice). Here’s what happens in the ad:

A guy and a girl are sitting on a bench in a park, and an arrow points to something in the guys hand and the word “weed” appears above it. The girl gets a speech bubble that says “Not again!”

Then, in the background, a flying saucer lands, and an alien walks up to the couple. The guy offers the alien some weed, and the alien gets a speech bubble that says “No thanks.”

Love hearts appear around the girls head, and they walk off together.

Then the scene shifts to show the girl and the alien flying along in his flying saucer, looking ecstatically happy.

So kids, the moral of the story is clear: If you smoke weed, your girlfriend will leave you for an alien in a flying saucer.

In all seriousness, I’m all for keeping kids off drugs, but is an advertisement, that makes you wonder what the hell the writer was on, the best way to go about it?

Note to anti-drug organizations : The best time to write an anti-drug ad is not when you’ve just dropped a shitload of acid.

Friday, February 16, 2007

How Secure is That?!?!

So we decided we could save some money by bundling our services with Charter.

We already have Charter Internet and cable, so we decided to add the phone service as well.

So Sunny calls a few days ago, and they let her go ahead and order the extra services, make an appointment etc. Then, in a weird switch from the norm, the guy actually comes out almost a week early, and we miss him.

So Sunny calls back and tries to reschedule the appointment, and they pretty much refuse to even talk to her, because the Charter account is in my name. (Weird isn't it? They let her order extra services, but not reschedule an existing appointment).

Today she calls back (I didn't know what she'd actually ordered etc, so it was easier that way, I just told her to give the phone to me if she had trouble, and I'd tell them she was authorised to speak for me).

I'm listening to her talk, and then she says "Yeah, he's right here, one second." and hands the phone to me.

So I'm waiting for the girl on the phone to ask for my social security number, an account password, my address phone number, anything. What she actually says is:

"I'm talking to Sunny, do I have your permission to ad her as an authorised caller?"

"Yes." I say.

"Ok, you can put her back on now."

Wow, the lengths these people go to, just to protect my account and identity from people! Not only do they let a non-authorised person add services...they insist on a having a male voice, that the caller tells them is her husband and account holder, to say "Yes." before they'll give her access.

Damn, I feel protected.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Casting Call!

I realized recently that I’ve been writing a lot of blog posts that I later decide not to post, simply because I know the majority of my readership here won’t be interested in the topic.

It’s difficult to classify this blog. Really, it’s a “personal” blog (in the sense I write a lot about things that are happening in my life, and my own personal opinions on things), but with a bit of a technology “bias”.

In other words, most of the mail I get regarding this blog is either to stop talking about the tech and write more “funny” posts…or stop with the funny shit and write more about gadgets and tech.

In other words, I find it hard to write for my target audience, because basically I don’t have a target audience.

Because of this, I’ve decided to start a new “Tech-only” blog to run along side this one.

This is where you, my dear readership, come in.

I’m under no illusions about my journalistic abilities, I also have no “contacts” in the tech and computer industries…and what I certainly don’t want my new blog to be is nothing but cut-and-paste stories from Slashdot, Digg and other tech news sites.

Because of this, I’m going for more of a discussions and opinions type of blog. For example, stories on why you think the Wii is outselling the Xbox 360 and PS3, copyright issues and ideas to make them fairer, reviews on the latest gadgets you’ve bought…you get the idea.

In other words, the last blog post I wrote (and subsequently decided not to publish) was about how many games are being dismissed as “clones” (Such as Saints Row or Scarface being dismissed as GTA clones), and why I think this is unfair.

Essentially a blog for anything that has to do with computers, gaming or technology.

So, I’m sending out a casting call. I’m not asking for full time writers (or ANY minimum amount of writing), basically if you’d like to be involved just let me know and I’ll put you on the team list. Even if you only think you’d write something once or twice a year, I’d still love to hear from you.

The other big thing to mention is don’t feel you need to have a technological background to be considered. If you’ve just played your first video-game and want to share your experience, or never handled anything more complicated than a spoon, but just bought your first iPod…a “layman’s eye view” would be an interesting read.

In other words, this has nothing to do with expertise. Essentially I just want this blog to be a group of people discussing the latest happenings in computers, gaming and tech.

Another idea I had, is if I get a decent enough response, recording the occasional podcast over skype, and putting it on the blog for download.

Let me know if you’re interested. Either leave me a comment or drop me an email.

Thanks all!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Good Day.

Today, for once, was an all-round really good day.

Our plan for today was the same as every Tuesday. Get up, go get Sunny’s check cashed, the go pay bills, and probably stop for a burger or something on the way home.

However, today, when we checked the mail, we found a tax refund check sitting in the mail box. A check we weren’t expecting because we have outstanding medical bills. (For the non-Americans in the audience, usually, unpaid hospital bills come out of your federal refund).

Suddenly, we found ourselves with a wad of disposable wonga!

This led to a fun day all around, because Sunny had an opticians appointment this afternoon, and with the extra money, finally got some glasses with those “transitions lenses” she’s wanted since forever.

My fun, however, began when we arrived in Circuit City.

Do you know how good it feels when you haven’t had any of your own disposable income for about three years, and suddenly you’re a geek in an electronics store with a couple hundred dollars in your pocket?

It feels great, I tells ya!

So many possibilities, but in the end, I decided on buying the things we more or less need, rather than the stuff I just want. (For example, I really want a Zune…after spending two hours sitting in the optician’s waiting room with only a two year old entertainment weekly to read, the idea of being able to carry around every episode of Diggnation ever made, with room left over for a couple Twit podcasts and some music is very attractive.)

In the end, however, I settled on a new keyboard (My old one has most of the letters worn off the keys), a new mouse (Also almost worn out, with the left click getting less responsive with every passing day), and a new DVD writer. (Regular readers will know the problems I was having with my old one).

However, this is found money, so you can’t be completely and totally practical with it, so I went with the pimped-out versions of the above.

The DVD drive is just a plain vanilla DVDRW drive. I love it anyway, because I can finally watch DVD’s on my widescreen. It also relieved a ton of frustration as I don’t have to constantly tinker with the old one, refusing to accept that it is, in fact, jiggered.

The only downside to the new drive is my machine has one of those “ergonomic” curved fronts, meaning that the drive sits too far back into the machine when it’s installed. On the upside, it’s only a ¼” gap, and will probably do more good than harm, leaving another space open for cooling.

The new mouse, I absolutely adore. Not only is it super-ergonomic and all space age looking, it has extra context-sensitive buttons, a tilt-wheel, and best of all, it isn’t just an optical mouse…it’s a laser mouse.

Apparently, this means it’s more sensitive and accurate, but let’s be completely honest, who the fuck cares? It’s got an honest to god laser in it, and everyone knows lasers are cool.

There should be lasers in everything. If they released an over-sized walrus polishing kit, and it ran off lasers…I’d buy it. Why? Because lasers are, in fact, the shiznit.

The absolute best though, was the new keyboard. It’s a standard multimedia keyboard (all the usual features plus a volume control, play, pause, skip etc), but here’s the best part:

The keyboard is backlit.

Not only does this cast a cool glow on your desk, adding that sci-fi “hackers” look, it also means you can type with accuracy in the dark. There’s also a selection of colors you can choose from, namely blue red and purple…but not regular blue red and purple…but Lightsaber-style blue red and purple. Your choice, you either have Darth Vader’s, Luke Skywalker’s or Mace Windu’s keyboard.

Know how they did it? LED’s and laser-etched keys.

See? Lasers! There’s not a damn thing they can’t do!

Just because I had to, here’s a picture:

(Sorry about the poor quality of the pic, but I had to take it in the dark with the flash off so you could actually see what I’m talking about, and getting zero camera-shake with a 1.5 second exposure time is nigh on impossible without a tripod…but you get the idea.)

The best part is I also have plenty of money left over to finally buy Sunny a real birthday present!


Mutual Hatred, a Thing to be Celebrated!

So I’m sitting here in front of the computer, with WGN on in the background.

Now, because I’m on the computer, I’m just tuning in and out of what’s being said on TV (Unless it’s “Scrubs” which is the only reason I watch WGN in the first place), when suddenly I hear something that made me stop dead, and think “What???”

It’s was one of those Christian Religious shows.

Basically, the guy was getting all worked up and said something like:

“You can have ‘guilty by association’, you can ‘lie by association’, and you can also be ‘unholy by association’. If you have a friend or a business partner who doesn’t believe in the Lord, you’re being ungodly by association.”


This, right here, is the exact reason I became an atheist. I won’t quote any more, but he went on for about 15 minutes preaching that associating with non-Christians is a sin.

Why do these people feel the need to preach hate? He’s essentially saying have nothing to do with non-christians. That’s you’re a sinner and will be punished if you have anything to do with non-christians (Unless you’re trying to convert them, I assume).

It’s the classical thing. You take something that was designed to bring people closer together, make people appreciate each other and treat each other with respect, and then twist it into something you can use to say “I’m better than you.”

A literal case of “Holier than thou.”

I mean, the Bible says “Thou Shalt not Kill”, “Judge not, lest ye be judged” and “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”

Can someone point out the passage in the Bible where it says “Thou shalt not kill, unless the other guy isn’t a Christian and has shit you want”, “Judge not, lest ye be judged, unless they’re a stinking non-Christian, and in that case should be ridiculed and outcast”…and “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you…but if they’re non-Christians, have at it, God boy.”

The show after it wasn’t much better.

In this one, a guy was saying that the Bible says the “spirit” is in the body, and therefore we don’t actually need our brains. (Which might be true, he obviously wasn’t using his). Here is a direct quote:

“We could surgically remove our brains, and that wouldn’t kill us. We’d still be alive and in our bodies, but just unable to express ourselves, because the brain is the organ through which the spirit communicates.”

He then went on to say brain-dead patients shouldn’t be taken off life support, because they’re still alive, and to do so is murder.

I thought that was great.

Yep, take up hospital space and life-sustaining equipment, deny a grieving family closure, and not allow the widow/widower to go on with their lives, just because something that was written by a bunch of guys 2000 years ago, none of whom had any medical or modern scientific knowledge said so.

Veering slightly off topic here for a second, how can you even live by something that was written so long ago?

Know when you where a kid and you’d ask a parent a complicated question, like “how are rainbows made?” and your parents would feed you a bullshit story because you wouldn’t actually understand the truth? Technically, that’s the kind of level that the authors of the Bible where working on.

In other words, the concept of your body being kept alive by a machine didn’t come anywhere close to appearing on their mental radar, so how can something these people wrote have any bearing on modern medicine?

Basically, these people had no idea how the body works. In Pythagoras’ time, they thought the heart was where the mind ‘lived’, and the brain was just an organ to “cool the blood”. These where the top minds of their time, but today, if you have mental problems, they don’t treat the heart…so why should ideas from the Bible come into play?

Long story short, these people just didn’t know that you can be dead, but through machines, have your heart still beat.

In conclusion, this is something that needs to be stamped out.

Believe what ever you want to believe, just don’t preach hate against people that don’t believe the same as you, and religion should never come between a person and their well being.

A classic example is Jehovah’s Witnesses. They refuse blood transfusions because of what the Bible says. Basically, if a child was dying and could be saved by a simple blood transfusion, they’d refuse it because of their beliefs.

If Christianity is all it’s cracked up to be, I don’t think any truly benevolent God would want anyone to die from a very easily treated condition. As above, blood transfusions where not around at the time of Christ. If he can cure a leper by a laying on of hands, I’m sure he wouldn’t begrudge a doctor giving someone a pint of so of ‘A negative’.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

How Was Your Week?

You know, I’ve not had the best week ever.

Let’s recap.

One week ago today, I was cooking. Now, the plan was to put a ¼ inch of oil into a skillet, then lower the fish into it slowly, laying it down.

Instead, what actually happened is, as I held the fish over the skillet, it slipped from my fingers and belly-flopped in the grease, sending a good half-cup of smoking hot grease onto my right forearm.

Luckily, my forearm was under the cold faucet within seconds, and despite the fact my forearm closely resembled Gorbachev’s head, there was very little pain after a few minutes.

However, I wasn’t ridiculously happy two days later when the dog jumped up at me, his claw caught the blistered skin on my forearm, and pulled away a large chunk of it. Then for two days I had a raw, open wound on my forearm that stung like the blazes when it touched anything, making sleeping an absolute nightmare.

Then, as regular readers will know, my DVD drive decided to give up the ghost. Despite the fact I hadn’t used it in a few weeks, and it worked perfectly the last time I tried to use it.

Oh, and just as I gave up, and decided it was jiggered, I dropped a disc in there, just to get it off the desk while I was talking to my Dad, and it read the disc instantly with no problem. As I smiled, wondering why it suddenly decided to work, I removed the disc, slapped in the one I actually needed to access…to find it suddenly wasn’t working again (and wouldn’t read the disc it magically read seconds earlier).

Then I realized with my wireless network, I could fire up my laptop, put the DVD in that drive, then either set it up as a network drive, or simply copy the contents to the laptop and transfer it to the desktop.

5 seconds later I remember that my laptop is well and truly jiggered, which also reminded me that I have $100 worth of wireless router and network card that I have absolutely no use for.

Worst part? What we spent on the wireless and the laptop non-repair…We could have bought a Wii, or at least a replacement DVD drive with cash left over.

Then, to top off my week, I ate a bag of “Blazin’ Ranch and Buffalo Doritos”, which where delicious. But within minutes for eating them, I stood up, coughed, and threw them back up.

Trust me, Blazin’ Ranch and Buffalo is not the most pleasant thing to experience in reverse.

How was your week?

Updates and Handy Hints

First off, thanks to Ozzy and Etcher for helping out.

Well, I was loathed to remove my new video card (I make it a point not to do anything to my computer that I don't absolutely have to...after finding my processor was glued to the bottom of the heatsink with thermal paste...and the three hours I spent having to re-straighten the processor's pins with a magnifying glass and a pair of tweezers...I'm a lot more wary).

That being said, I popped the new card out this morning, booted with the onboard graphics, and found it didn't help one bit.

Frankly, I'm at a loss.

Yesterday, I upgraded the firmware (turns out I had the most recent anyway), but re-flashed it in case it corrupted last time, tried various older firmwares...Nothing.

I tried putting the HD on the secondary and the DVD drive on primary, tried new ID cables. Nothing worked.

The only thing I find slightly odd (and this might just be because the last real hardware work I did was on Win ME), is that my device manager shows three Primary IDE channels and three secondary IDE channels...I have no idea if this is normal or not.

However, this matches up with my bios information, although my HD is on Channel 3 and my DVD drive is on channel 6.

The thing is, I haven't changed any jumpers on the drives themselves, so this is how it was installed from factory, and it worked when I first got it.

The only thing that still confuses me, is if the drive refused to read any discs, I'd just chalk it up to a failed drive and replace it. The fact it reads commerical CD's with no trouble at all is what confuses me.

I'm not even getting an error message. If I put in any DVD, the drive chugs for a while, but then lets me "open" the disc, but shows it as blank.

Any more ideas, guys?

The only other standard advice I've found is to re-install Windows...but of course, that's kinda hard to do when your drive won't read the discs XP is on.


Now we come to the little something extra that pisses me off. If you own a DVD writer, you'll know that you pretty much have to update the firmware fairly often to let the drive recognise different brands of recordable media.

For example, the first spindle of recordable DVD's I bought recommended updating your drives firmware, and the discs wouldn't actually work with my machine until I did so. So I did.

Lite-On, the manufacturer of my drive even offers firmware updates from their own corporate site. Their literature even recommends checking for firmware updates when you first install the drive.

But guess what? Updating the firmware invalidates your warranty. In other words, it's like inalidating a warranty on your TV by turning it on.

Doesn't that just make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? Nothing like getting completely and totally fucked over by a company to really build up that brand loyalty.

Seriously, how can a standard, required update invalidate the warranty? Of course, the idea is I'm supposed to wrap up my PC, send it to them, pay them a couple hundred dollars and not see my computer again for months, instead of doing it myself in a couple minutes for free.

Thanks guys, I appreciate the anal rape, but how about a kiss next time?


Now, completely off topic, but something I found online that I thought was cool.

Basically, if you're anything like me, your wallet is stuffed with loyalty cards, club cards, video rental cards, etc.

Justoneclubcard lets you pick your store cards from a list, type in the barcodes from them, and will then print you out a credit-card sized card that holds up to 8 of your storecard barcodes.

Each is labelled, and allows you to carry (as the site name suggests), just one club card, instead of filling your purse or wallet with multiples.

I thought it was neat, so check it out!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Cry for help!

Ok, this is an SOS to my fellow techie type readers.

A month or so ago, my DVD drive just decided to stop working. I assumed it was simply the lens that needed cleaning. So today, I buy a lens cleaner, and still no luck.

Now, the lens cleaner has an "audio instructions" track on track one, and plays a constant tone while it's actually cleaning the lens.

Basically, the drive reads this with no problems, and as far as I can tell, the drive will play commercially pressed CDs.

It will not, however, play copied CDs or DVDs, and won't play commercially pressed DVD's either.

The only thing I have changed in the system that I can think of is I installed a new graphics card.

I've updated the firmware, checked the IDE channels, checked that DMA was enabled...everything I can think of.

I think it's one of two possibilities:

1) The drive is just jiggered.
2) The graphics card is drawing too much power, resulting in less power to the drives lazer, making it unable to read DVDs (I read somewhere it takes more power to read a DVD than a CD.

However, I don't understand why if the "power" theory is true, that it would fail to read copied CDs.

Any thoughts?

(Kato, Etcher and Ozzy, I'm talkin' to you!)

Cripple your computer with Windows Vista!

Today, just for the hell of it, I decided to run the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor.

For those who don’t know, Vista is the latest operating system from Microsoft. I should point out that I have no actual intention of upgrading, at least not until I have to. Microsoft has a habit of releasing broken software, then leaves you to limp onwards for a year or so before they finally get most of the problems fixed.

However, I’d heard all the rumors that the thing is a total bitch to install, and many people have gone out, dropped a couple hundred dollars on it, only to find they have to upgrade nearly everything in their computers to get it to work.

I was just interested to see what I’d have to do to run it.

Surprisingly, I was almost good to go. The only real problems it found was that the upgrade advisor didn’t actually know if one or two pieces of hardware would work…namely my graphics pad and printer.

Well, my printer is a Brother, and my graphics pad is a Medion. Neither of which are the most popular brands, so chances are they’d work anyway, but Microsoft hadn’t bothered testing them.

Then, we came to incompatible software.

Some was just standard stuff. The version of Nero I had (that came bundled with my computer) wouldn’t work. However, it said if I uninstalled it, and re-installed it after upgrading, it would work fine.

Then we come to the part that pissed me the fuck off.

Alcohol 120% wouldn’t work with Vista. According to the update manager, I’d have to uninstall it before Vista would install…and then I’d be unable to re-install it.

So why did this piss me off so much?

It’s because this has nothing to do with compatibility. The reason I wouldn’t be able to re-install Alcohol 120% is because it’s an application that can be used to copy DVDs and CDs and bypass copy protection.

From everything I’ve heard about Vista, they’re pretty much crippled it as a media machine, in order to satisfy the RIAA and the overcomplicated and ridiculously restrictive copyright laws.

Here’s the thing. I own a lot of movies. Sunny and I have completely different tastes in movies, so very often I’ll sit at my computer to watch a movie. The other big factor is I have a 22 inch HD Widescreen computer monitor, while our main TV is a standard 4:3 set. On my computer I get a much better picture, and it’s widescreen.

So, simply for convenience, I’ve taken 10 or 15 of my favorite movies, (Movies I legally own) and ripped the disc image to my hard-drive. I then use the virtual drive functionality of Alcohol to play the movies on my computer.

In other words, instead of looking through my collection every time I want to watch a movie, find the disc, take it to the computer and put it the drive... I simply turn on my computer, select the movie I want to watch from a list, and away I go. Many people also do this on laptops, because running a DVD drive for 2 hours seriously eats up the battery power.

Now, the big point to understand here is that this is completely and totally legal. As long as I legally own the movie, and don’t distribute it, I’m 100% inside the law.

(For example, it’s legal to make a thousand copies of a movie, as long as they’re for your own personal use, and you don’t give away, sell or let people borrow them…of course, you’d have a hell of a hard time explaining to a judge why you decided to make 1000 copies! When you buy a movie or some music, what you’re really buying is the license to view it…it gets illegal when you watch a movie you haven’t bought, or distribute it to other people who haven’t “bought a license”. Technically, if Me and a friend both bought our own copies of a movie, and his disc was destroyed, it’s legal for me to copy my movie, and give it to him. He’s bought a licence to view it.)

However, just because this application is capable of being used for illegal purposes, I’m not allowed to use it.

The same is true of a lot of legal software that can be used for illegal purposes. It’s legal to rip tracks from a CD you own to put on your MP3 player, or make an extra copy of it for the car. You’re legally able to back up your software, movies or music in case the original media gets damaged.

But under Windows Vista, you won’t be able to do any of this.

In essence, Microsoft, the RIAA and MPAA are dictating what we’re allowed to do on our own computers. They’re not just attempting to stop us from doing anything illegal, they’re also trying to stop us from having any software, or doing anything that is potentially illegal.

Basically, it’s like making the sale of tape recorders illegal, because they’re capable of recording music from the radio, or video cameras, because you might take one to a concert and make your own video.

In other words, they’re penalizing honest users and dictating the terms of what you’re allowed to do with your own property.

The saddest thing is that they’re doing this to honest users, when the actual pirates and hackers will easily find a way around anything they throw at them. The encryption for HD-DVD has already been cracked. There’s almost no copy protection that can’t already be bypassed…so what’s the point?

For example, take music.

Say you have an iPod, and download music with their “unlimited tracks for X amount a month” deal from iTunes. That music will stay on your computer and ipod and remain playable until a set amount of time after you bought it. Once your license has expired, you have to reconnect to iTunes in order to renew that licence to make it playable again.

In theory, this is a good idea. You can only listen to music as long as you’re still paying your subscription. It’s a big deal to crack the encryption, but the thing is, you don’t have to.

Simply connect your speaker outlet to the microphone input on your computer. Then, you have a shiny new MP3 file on your computer, that has no protection at all.

When you can bypass the protection that easily, what’s the point in having it in the first place? And definitely don’t cripple honest users computers because they’re capable of doing something illegal.

The biggest problem here is that the movie and music producers are acting like piracy is a new thing.

Remember how easy it was to copy an audio tape or a video tape? For an audio tape, you simply put the original in one tape deck on your stereo, a blank in the other, and pressed record and play. For videos, you simply connected the output on one VCR to the input on another. It was just as simple when video games came on cassette or floppy disc.

Now I’ll say I don’t condone piracy. If you want something, you should pay for it…but what it boils down to is piracy today is not hitting music, movie or video game sales, or at the very least, no more than it was 10 years ago before anyone cared about piracy.

There’s also the cast iron fact that music sales actually increased when Napster first came on the scene.

I’m all for copy protection. I’m all for fighting piracy. My point is, no one has the right to tell me that I can’t run perfectly legal software on my computer, because it is capable of being used for piracy.

There are a hundred legal reasons to copy a CD or DVD, there are a hundred legal reasons to run a virtual drive. What’s next? No printers or scanners because they can be used in counterfeiting? No cameras because I can take pictures of copyrighted artwork on my monitor? No paper and pen, because I can use them to copy out books by hand?

Enough is enough

Friday, February 09, 2007


Ok, I’m going to make a prediction here.

Podcasts, especially video podcasts ae the future of TV style entertainment.

Don’t get me wrong, I think there’ll always be regular broadcast TV (at least the Tivo’d kind), but podcasts will become the dominant form of media.

Why? Well, I’ll tell you.

Look at how TV works. TV shows are only there to make sure you’re in front of your TV while the advertisements are running. That’s why shows with high ratings stay on the air, while shows with low ratings get canned. They don’t make any money in themselves, but if a TV show gets a few million viewers, you can charge much more for an ad spot while that show is on.

That’s why it costs two million dollars for a Superbowl ad, and why the ads for a local car dealership run at 3am on a backwater channel.

This system, while it works, causes problems. TV shows have to appeal to the maximum number of people possible in order to get those “eyes on ads”. So, if you’re into a “speciality” subject, it’s not going to last long on TV.

A classic example is G4. In its Tech TV days, it mainly consisted of shows about hardcore technology. The latest exploits and security issues in major operating systems. The latest cool thing someone got Linux to do.

If you’re a geek like me, you love this type of programming. However, you’re in a very small percentage of people, so the network just doesn’t make enough money. Advertisers just don’t want to spend their hard-earned money to run an ad during a show with a small audience. So best case scenario, you end up with a very watered down version of the programming you like…or worst case, like G4, you end up with a network that completely forgets about you, and just shows what the demographic people say “The kids are into.”

That’s why Tech TV changed from hardcore tech, to G4, which now mainly shows Star Trek re-runs, Street Racing shows and “The Man Show”, with the very occasional gaming show thrown in. It went from “Scientific American” to “Playboy” in a couple of small steps.

However, podcasts can bypass this entire problem.

First of all, they don’t cost nearly as much to make, and they don’t have to be as “big” or appeal to such a wide demographic. You can have very small, super-targetted shows.

Ok, think of it this way:

You’re an advertiser. You can go to a syndicated network and pay about $10,000 a minute to run an expensive ad that’s going to be seen by a couple million people. However, for general entertainment shows, only a fairly small percentage of viewers are going to be interested in your product.

Basically, how many people watching “House” or “CSI” are actually going to be thinking about buying a new car, or need that anti-diarrhea medicine?

It’s “wide net” advertising. You’re showing as many ads as possible, to as many people as possible, in the hope that someone somewhere is going to see something that interests them.

Now let’s look at it from the podcast point of view. Let’s say you have a fairly popular high-performance car podcast. You get about 10 to 20 thousand downloads per show, an audience that is absolutely tiny compared to syndicated television. However, your car podcast is hardcore cars. The kind of thing only really serious car enthusiasts are into.

You can then go to producers of high-performance auto parts, and sell them advertising. You can sell it much more cheaply, because your podcast costs a fraction of what it costs to produce a network TV show, and they want it, because they know their advertisement is pin-point targeted.

In short, you can spend tens of thousands of dollars on a TV ad, in the hope that a tiny percentage of the audience watching will be interested…or you can spend a thousand or less, to get your ad to 20,000 people who are guaranteed to be interested in your product.

In other words, you’re spending much less, but reaching a larger section of your target audience.

At the end of the day, this means that you can watch shows on exactly the topic you want. With the added bonus that there doesn’t need to be a lot of advertising interrupting your show. Take ‘Diggnation’ or ‘This Week in Tech’ for example, they simply spend 30 seconds at the start and end of an hour long show, saying who that week’s sponsors are, and what they do.

A minute of advertising in an hour long show? Sounds very attractive next to TV (especially networks like TBS and Fox that seem to have 7 minutes of advertising per 8 minutes of show).

The only real downside to podcasts is you need specialist hardware to view them away from your computer. At the very least an MP3 player, or some sort of mobile video player for video podcasts.

But I said this was the future of entertainment, so what’s the solution to this? If I want to watch a podcast away from my computer, I simply don’t want to be watching it on a 4 inch portable screen.

One of the biggest “milestones” for me was the first time I viewed content from the internet on my TV. I’d bought a combination Audio CD/Video CD player. (This was back in the days that DVD writers where prohibitively expensive). The idea that I could download a movie clip from the internet, burn it to a CD, then go to a friends house and view it on their TV was mind-blowing.

In other words, viewing non-traditional media in a traditional way.

So, this technology already exists (Xbox live does something similar, only no podcast support yet). In other words, it’s perfectly possible to play content directly from your computer, onto your TV.

Basically, you’d be able to open up your podcast on your computer, and with a few mouse clicks simply say “play the video in this window on my living room TV”.

Of course, the far more likely solution would be a set-top box that connects wirelessly to your computer, which already downloads your favorite podcasts automatically through an RSS feed. Then at the end of the day, you simply look through a list of your downloaded podcasts through an onscreen menu on your TV to play at your leisure.

Long story short, it’s a form of Tivo for Podcasts.

Like I said at the beginning, there will always be a traditional form of TV (although I see “real-time” TV going the way of the Dodo soon). But podcasts allow the transmission of highly specialized, targeted TV shows that simply can’t exist on traditional TV.

In other words, through podcasts, we’ll be able to construct our own TV “networks”. The hardcore geek like me can watch Hardcore tech, and your gran can watch her own equivalent of the 24 hour crotchet channel.

So let’s recap. With podcasts you get:

  • TV on precisely the subject you want to watch.
  • Far less advertising.
  • The Advertising you do see is guaranteed to be something you’d actually be interested in buying.
  • Anyone with a video camera and an internet connection can make their own podcast, so content on TV will survive due to quality, and not because of network politics, or what the latest demographic says is popular.
  • Finally, no more random flipping through channels in the hope you’ll find something you like. (Although we already have this with Tivo).

In conclusion, the beauty of this system is that right now a show has to be “mainstream” in order to exist on TV. With podcasts we can have TV shows that we, as individuals, love…but don’t have to be widely popular.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Sigh...wake me up when they get rid of the stupid people

Last night Sunny and I drove to the gas station to fill up her car.

On the way, I heard something on the radio that scored a 15 out of 10 on my bullshit-o-meter.

Basically, the Snicker’s Superbowl commercial (in which two auto-mechanics accidentally kiss, then say “Quick, do something manly!”), has been branded racist by a bunch of busybodies with far too much time on their hands.

Apparently, it’s offensive to homosexuals because it implies that two men kissing isn’t “manly”.

Of course, the homosexual and bisexual community aren’t actually the ones making a huge fuss out of this. It’s the “politically correct” crowd.

Now, the thing that pisses me off is that this is a typical uninformed knee-jerk reaction.

Think about this for a second. Who is this actually poking fun at? Gays? Or straight men that are so insecure about their sexuality that an accidental kiss leads to one of them ripping out his chest hair in order to prove to himself he’s not “caught ‘gay’”.

The fact he pulls out his chest hair is also blatantly pointing out that the guy isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, and that his reaction is totally overblown and stupid. They’re the Tim Taylor kind of manly. The point is you laugh at them, not with them

Yes, guys like that may believe one guy kissing another isn’t “manly”, but they’re obviously represented as guys who think acts of insane, self-torturing stupidity is manly.

I mean, is that not obvious?

Basically, I have three theories about these kinds of people:

1) The busy body, middle-class people who are constantly up in arms about shit like this don’t actually have any real problems. So they have to manufacture their own. “I have no problems of my own, so I’m going to be a champion for people who I perceive to be downtrodden or repressed, whether they want to or not.”

Of course, this has the exact opposite effect, in that right now, there are plenty of rednecks all over America complaining about how oversensitive the “fags” are, and how they can’t take a joke.

2) The Jack Thompson Complex.

Take a big rich corporation like Mars, a big social issue, and an imagined insult to a minority…and you’ve got the makings of the next big moral panic that’s absolutely perfect to get you on TV, satisfy your power-hungry, media-whore instincts and you might just make a few bucks on the side. After all, there are plenty of rich white folks, with lots of money, all living in their nice sheltered sub-divisions that are just dying to get behind the next big moral crusade to salve their own guilt at not being a downtrodden minority.

3) Stupidity and a total lack of a sense of humor.

This one’s pretty self explanatory. In that a lot of people are just plain incapable of seeing past their own noses, unable to recognize parody and satire and don’t understand that just raising a topic is not automatically a negative thing.

Seriously though, I have gay friends, both male and female…and I can’t see any of them actually getting offended by this. They might laugh their asses off at the incredibly dumb straight guy who’d be willing to rip out a chunk of his own chest hair just to prove to himself and another dumbass that he was “manly”.

Finally though, I have to say…if you are homosexual, and you are offended by this, grow a sense of humor and get over it.

As a Brit in America, I’ve heard a ton of what could be described as anti-brit jokes and stereotypes. You know, “British people all have bad teeth”, “Brits think that a man dressed in womens’ clothing is the height of humor.”, “You saved our asses in WW2”, “All Brits are drunken football hooligans”.

Do I need to go on?

The point is, I don’t get offended by any of that, because it’s a joke, and if anyone says anything that’s intended as an insult, I don’t get offended either…I just do what I always do when I come across someone who makes a bigoted, prejudice statement.

I pity their lack of intelligence.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Viral? You Decide

While websurfing today, I stumbled across something that set both my “Viral Marketing” sense tingling, and my “God, this is fucking stupid” sense tingling at the same time.

It’s a site called

So what is it?

Well, this idea is that if you’ve had a really spectacularly bad date, you post how terrible it was (including the guy’s picture, name and what city and state he’s from).

In other words, it’s a site for women to bitch about how terrible men are, and to “name and shame” them.

Of course, this absolutely reeks of viral marketing.

The thing is, if this site is for real, it’s an absolute lawsuit magnet. It’s a slander machine.

Given America’s love affair with suing everything that moves, and how the average male would react if he discovered a girl he went out with had put up a post about what a complete bastard he is… in a searchable database of loser guys…well, you can see what’s coming.

Now, it’s true that in America, an opinion cannot be viewed as slander or libel under the law. In other words, if I say on this blog that I think a Jack Thompson is a complete and total asshat, there’s nothing he can do about it. Well, he’d probably impotently threaten me, but because it’s my opinion and presented as such, it’s protected by free speech.

On the other hand, once you present something as fact, “This guy is a pervert and has a half inch penis”. Unless that guy actually has a half inch penis…prepare to get sued.

Given that unless each and every post is moderated by the site owner, it’s pretty much guaranteed that someone is going to present and untrue statement as fact…They might as hit Jack Thompson over the head with an Xbox while throwing copies of Grand Theft Auto at him.

So, here’s my prediction. There’ll be a movie entitled “Don’t Date Him, Girl!” out within the next few months.

Either that, or the site will magically disappear within a couple weeks.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

I'd buy a lottery ticket...but...

I really do have almost no luck.

First of all, today I log into Second Life to find that yet another wonderful glitch has returned my entire studio building and all its contents to my inventory.

This means I had to spend a couple of hours putting the building back together jigsaw puzzle-like, hanging the pictures back on the walls (it is a photography studio after all) and then replace and reset all my equipment.

Know what else? When I want to put up a new picture, I just duplicate one of the existing ones and just slap the new texture on there.

Why is that a problem? Well, it means I had 50 objects returned that where all simply named “Object”. Imagine trying to sort through that shit.

Now, that probably won’t interest you unless you play SL. This next part might.

Having put everything back the way it was, and seeing no-one I particularly wanted to talk to online, I decided to explore a little. I ended up in a casino, playing roulette. (I don’t gamble in real life, but enjoy the games, so I like betting with “pretend” money.)

Now a while ago, I remember someone telling me a “sure-fire” way to win at roulette.

Here’s the system. You pick a color and always bet on that color. You bet 10. If you lose, you bet again, but this time bet 20. If you lose, you bet 40 and so on and so on.

In short, your bet has a 50/50 chance of winning. By doubling your bet each time, the first time you win, getting double your bet back, you’re back where you started. The problem is, by doubling, your bets get really big really fast, and once you hit the max bet limit, you’re screwed.

I managed to lose 10 50/50 chances in a row. I started with a 10L bet, and the table limit was 100. In other words, I was screwed.

Now you’re probably thinking the table is fixed. Trust me, it isn’t. There’s plenty of checks and balances in place to stop this from happening. Plus, I was playing at the same time as multiple other players…and they where winning just fine!

So I tried my hand at Blackjack. After playing while, I almost broke even.

Then I tried poker. I lost…a lot.

At that point, I gave up. I’d reached the limit I’d allow myself to lose. (Even though it’s ‘pretend’ money, I don’t like losing, so I give myself a set amount to gamble with. IE, if I lose X amount, I quit.)

Now, this might not seem so strange. Everyone’s had bad luck streaks, especially when it comes to gambling. It was what happened next that surprised me.

I went back to my place, and sorting through some freebies, I discovered I had a couple gaming machines. I had a blackjack table…so I broke it out and started playing.

(Note : These are ‘real’ machines that take SL money. Some of the same ones you play “for real” in SL Casinos. However, I was gambling against myself. In other words, they work the same way as machines owned by other people, but if I lose a 100L bet, I’m losing 100L to myself, so my actual account balance never changes).

So, I bet 100 and win. In fact, I get a 5 card trick.

I win eleven times on the run before I lose a hand. If this machine was owned an operated by someone else, at 100L a bet, that would have been 1000 Linden Dollars winnings.


I ‘open’ the machine and check the script that runs it. It’s a simple random number generator that chooses cards from a library at random. It’s a ‘simple’ game. No way to set the odds of winning, it’s as random as playing regular blackjack at a casino.

It didn’t make me feel any better that I’d been reamed in the past using exactly the same game owned by other people.

So I pull out a video poker machine I also had. I broke even on two hands, then got a Royal Flush, the highest scoring hand in the game. With a 100L bet, I would have won 20,000.

So I open that one up and check the script. It’s just like the other one. The only “changeable” variables are cost per “spin”.

Then we come to the really weird part.

I had a game called “Crashing Mania”. It looks like a laptop, and it’s a pure “random” game, no skill involved whatsoever. Basically, you pay a certain amount, and the laptop tries to “boot-up”, if it boots successfully, you win double your bet. If you get the “blue screen of death”, you lose your bet.

So I started playing, and won five times on the run before losing.

I opened it up and checked the script again. This one you could set the chances of winning. It was set to a 5% chance of winning.

That’s a one in 20 chance of winning.

If I remember my high-school math correctly, (I do, I just looked it up), you multiply odds together to work out the probabilities of these things happening on the run. For example, the chances of randomly pulling the ace of spades out of a deck of cards is 1/52. Putting the ace back in the deck, shuffling and pulling it out again is 1/52 X 1/52 = 1/2704….in other words, a 1 in 2704 chance of happening.

So me winning 5 times on the run at a 1 in 20 chance is 20x20x20x20x20.

That’s a 1 in 3200000 chance! That’s twice as difficult as winning the lottery!.

Of course, at this point, I thought the thing was just jiggered, so I tried again, and won twice in 20 tries.

I reset the script, tried again and got nothing out of the ordinary.

So apparently, if I’m gambling for real, I can lose 10 50/50 chances in a row. Then I can only break even at blackjack and poker.

Then, when I’m playing some of the same machines, but only wining money from myself:

I can beat the dealer at Blackjack 11 times on the run.

I can get a royal flush at poker (a 1 in 649,740 chance).

Then in a game of pure chance, I can hit on a 1 in 3200000 chance

I shudder to think what the odds are of all three of these things happening in an hour’s time.

For Real...

My regular readers will know this about me:

I'm an incredibly cynical, sarcastic, nit-picking bastard. I could find the down-side in Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel and Adriana Lima walking into my bedroom naked, carrying a 10 gallon jug of KY Jelly, and a note from my missus that says "Have a good time, and there's a steak waiting for you when you're done!"

So bear this in mind when I say that the Discworld series of books, written by Terry Pratchett is quite simply the greatest work of fiction ever written.

They're a series of books that can only be categorised as "Comic Fantasy", but they have managed to make me laugh out loud like a manic, actually cry, and they're capable of actually make you feel the whole spectrum of emotions.

Add to that the fact that Pratchett's writing style is almost magical. He's the first writer I've ever read that can describe a complex scene in a couple of sentences, but do this so well you can actually see what he's writing about.

In case I haven't sold you yet, if I was locked in a room for the rest of my life and was given the option of access to every book ever written minus Terry Pratchett, or my pick of 5 of his books...I'd take the five Pratchetts without a moment's hesitation.

Check them out.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Curtains....The Silent Killer

Ever have on of those moments where you’re really glad nobody is around? When you do something really embarrassing or stupid, and just know it’s one of those “haunt you for the rest of your life” events? The story your wife always tells about you at parties, just knowing it’s going to get a big laugh?

Well, I just had one of those moments…and I’m going to share it with you.

Why? Call it a mixture of internet based anonymity, and 3000 mile safety buffer between me and the people who actually know me, and the fact I’m always willing to humiliate myself if it’s truly funny.

Ok…here goes.

My house is old. The kind of old that guarantees all kinds of draughts.

In summer this isn’t a huge deal. As long as the A/C is left on, it stays reasonably cool in here. On the other hand, winter is an entirely different story. You can leave two heaters on full blast in the same room, and end up with a room that’s just mildly cold instead of absolutely freezing.

This means that every winter we go around and try and “cold proof” the house. Thick heavy curtains over the windows. Plastic put up over the air conditioner, draught excluders put under all the doors.

Well, you get the idea.

Well, what I didn’t know, was my darling wife had covered up the door to the water-heater cupboard with a thick, black sheet of material.

So I’m walking to the bathroom down the corridor. As usual, I didn’t bother turning on the lights, so I’m walking down there in the dark. Now, this corridor is fairly thin, about enough space for two people to stand side by side.

Then, just as I’m approaching the heater cupboard, the tape she’d used to hang the material to cover the door comes unstuck. Now, in the dark, and the angle I’m viewing it from, what it actually looks like, is a freaking huge shape walking out of the bathroom and turning to face me.

Did I mention it’s nearly 2am, and that I’m home alone, and not expecting to see what appears to be a 7 foot tall intruder walking out of my bathroom?

So, purely on instinct, and powered by the brown adrenaline, I swing a huge punch at it…aimed at where the head should be.

Know what happens when you swing a powerful punch at a piece of unsupported material?

I swing straight through it, my fist connecting squarely with the wall behind it.

I recoil back, smack my head on the door behind me, and fall over, pulling the curtain that covers that door on top of me.

At this point, I’ve still got absolutely no fucking clue what’s going on. It’s bloody dark, so for all I know, there really is an intruder, who just managed to sidestep my punch

So basically I’m on the floor, my heart is going at about 180 beats per minute, and I’m wrapped up in a fallen curtain that I can’t quite get free from. There may also be a 7 foot tall intruder standing over me.

So I fight to stand back up again, and I manage to get half to my feet…before tripping and falling flat on my face again.

At this point I look up, to see the dog, who was attracted by the commotion, sitting on the floor right in front of me. He looks at me, looks at the wall behind me, and looks back at me with a facial expression that is clearly saying:

“Dude? What the FUCK are you doing?”

I whirl around on the floor, wondering why Buddy isn’t barking or leaping to my rescue…to see the loose end of my attacker just waving in the breeze.

It was at this point, despite the searing pain in my hand, that I laughed so hard I damn near shit in my pants.

On the upside….I kicked that curtain’s ass!