MonthSeptember 2007

It’s a wrench, I know. (See what I did there?)

So the answer to “Can you play through Bioshock using only The Wrench as a weapon?” is a big “Yes”, at least in Easy mode. In fact, since you’ll actually be equipping the plasmids like “Gain health and eve from hitting people with wrench” and “Extra fast move and hit people with wrench!” it’s actually -easier- to finish with the wrench than when you’re firing shotgun rounds in wild, uncontrolled bursts.

I definitely need a new computer, however – my poor old machine can barely render Bioshock at any kind of frame rate unless I’m playing in 800×600 or .. MAYBE.. 1024 x 768, and if the latter I’d better have the textures set to “Muddy Looking Shit”.

There. Defended it. Job done.

These “Media Defender” people seem to have been in the news a lot of late.

I’m perplexed at the “value” they bring to the media companies. Their whole reason to exist seems to be to introduce fucked up versions of movies and tv episodes and music into the various peer-to-peer systems, in order to decrease the value of such systems.

They appear to be gleefully ignoring the elephants in the room which are (respectively) the technical and social sanity checks provided by (a) file hashing, and (b) feedback.

For example, let’s imagine I want to download the latest version of Americas Funniest Videos Of Muslims Making Baby Jesus Cry, and I see two files being shared, each called “BabyJesusCry-S03E04.PDTV.XVID.AVI”. One of these has an overall file hash that’s different from the other. So now I can tell that ONE of these is different from the other, despite the filenames being the same, so MediaDefender or some other nub has messed with it.

Now we check the seeds and downloads, and the feedback, on each file.

One will have feedback like “LOL FAYKE WTF? WANKERS”, and maybe 45 seeds and 200 downloads. The other will have feedback like “Good Rip! PDTV does it again! You can really clearly see the Tears on the cheeks of the Christ Child! AAAA+++ WOULD BLASPHEME WITH AGAIN” and have 2734 seeds and 123439 downloaders.

It’s _not hard_ to tell which is the fake and which is not.

MediaDefender are causing, AT BEST, a slight irritation to pirates. At worst, you don’t even know they’re there. I wonder how much money they’re being paid for this?

“…”

Marcel Marceau: 22 March, 1923 – 22 Sept, 2007

One down. So many to go.

“Muslim? Nearly killed ‘im!”

There seem to be some US citizens who’re getting quite irate about the possibility that the President of Iran, during his visit to the US, will be going to the site where the World Trade Center buildings used to be in order to lay a wreath and pay his respects.

In fact, one 82-year-old compares it to allowing Hitler to put a wreath on the tomb of the Unknown Soldier!.

I’m not sure why.

It’s not like he’s the president of Saudi Arabia – which is where most of the 11/9/2001 hijackers were from. Or that he’s the president of Lebanon, Egypt, or the UAE, which is where all the REST of the 11/09/2001 hijackers were from.

He’s not even a Sunni muslim – Iran is a Shi’ite nation. Those dudes HATE each other.

I really don’t see any reason for being pissed off at his visit that doesn’t basically boil down to a certain Them Ragheads Is Alla Same racism. A swarthy guy with a beard? At GROUND FUCKING ZERO? WHILE EAGLES CRY? THESE COLOURS DON’T RUN! ETC!

The whole thing just makes me sad.

Rivals

I saw this linked to on IRC today…

NBC to Offer a Free Video Download Service.

..along with some tech info about the system.

This is NBC’s huge response to the fact that The Kids are watching less TV than ever, and getting their entertainment from the Internet instead. In effect, they’re squaring up against torrented captures of their TV shows, so you’d figure they’ll need to offer something WAY cooler like regularly updated mini-episodes, interviews with actors and writers, back and side-story to the shows, etc. The kind of thing that’ll drive people to their site and their downloads, and fuck the torrents, dude, because NBC’s shit has so much going on.

Yeah. You’d figure that. However, you’d be totally wrong. Instead, the downloads they offer are:

– The basic show, no extra stuff at all. Not even a commentary track by the Key Grip.
– All shows contain Advertisments (!!)
– That you can’t skip over (!!)
– All shows WMA wrapped in MS Windows Media DRM and thus:
– All shows can’t be played on anything except Windows PC
– Including Video-capable ipods
– Also can’t be played on _other_ Windows PC’s, only the one you downloaded them on
– All shows expire after 7 days. (!!)

I, for one, would like to wish NBC well in this hilariously doomed business venture.

I may be being a bit racist here, I’m sorry. I’ll try to do better.

Mystery illness strikes after meteorite hits Peruvian village

“Villagers in southern Peru were struck by a mysterious illness after a meteorite made a fiery crash to Earth in their area, regional authorities said Monday.”

Prediction: The ones that survive the initial illness will develop powers and abilities far greater than those of mortal men.

Gentle LLamaman! The Mighty Incan! Panpipe! Yes, you can picture them now in your minds eye, standing in the traditional fists on hips superhero stance, multicoloured poncho/cloaks fluttering in the breeze!

Let Evil Beware!

Sockheads

Here’s a relatively boring article about US cities passing laws punishing the wearing of baggy pants.

Which is not so interesting, except in an eye-rolling sort of manner when you consider how long legislation tends to be around for, compared to the lightning-swift changes in fashion. Baggy pants? Already played out. Give it five years and the cool kids will be wearing shoes on their hands, or have a sock on one of their feet and be wearing the other sock as a hat. More laws! Sock laws! Quickly, quickly! The end result of this is that you get ┬álegislation hanging around that probably was deemed to be a good idea at the time, but just seems absurd now, and the the only people who’ll care are the kind of smart-arse students who research ancient laws still technically on the books and show up at university exams wearing a sword and demanding their mug of ale, as per subsection VII(b) of the Exams Act, as authorised by the Marquis of Fuckstickshire in 1641, wearing an expression that indicates to everyone else that they should consider the sword-wearer to be about the cleverest person in the universe – an expression that will last up until the point where Blackwater Halliburton Gnomeland Security Snipers permanently remove it … with cold steel!

The BEST bit of the original article, however, is that they quote Mr Mark Wise, the owner of a hip-hop clothing store called (and I’m not making this up) “Razor Sharp Clothing Shop 4 Ballers”.

Best. Shop. Name. Evar.

Whale of Time

A lot of people read the Wheel of Time series of books, by Mr Robert Jordan. I, myself, grew bored with them about 4 books into it. And that was back in the early 1990s. Still, some people I know have “stuck with it” and “struggled on” and so forth, just to see the end of it. I can appreciate that kind of effort – I myself read every single Thomas Covenant book, cover to cover, just so I could have a firm foundation to stand on when I told people how utterly they sucked[1]. But I wouldn’t do it again – life is too short to read crappy books.

But anyway, good for you, people who’ve waded through 11 Wheel of Time books with new characters every few pages and plot lines prettily dangling all about the place like celebratory streamers!
Book 12 is the last one, and what are the odds that the author is going to croak mid-way-through his _last_ book? Narrative convenience wouldn’t allow it!

Well. Turns out kindly mother nature has little truck with narrative convenience, and Robert Jordan has indeed died, with book 12 of The Wheel of Time unfinished.

I’m sad because an author has passed … and yet I also have to phone some people and snigger a bit, so if you’ll excuse me….

[1] Pretty damn utterly.

I Just .. Look Away

Just finished watching The IT Crowd S02E04, which was brilliant AND had lots of Richmond in, which is like having a really good hamburger with REALLY excellent relish on it.

I was talking to a friend the other day about some of the podcasts I listen to (like the always great “SModcast”, from Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier, as well as James Lileks “The Diner” and “Downloadable Content” from Gabe and Tycho at Penny Arcade. When I mentioned the latter, they asked if I listened to the “Power Hour” from PVP creators Scott Kurtz and Kris Straub. As it happens, I don’t. Had to explain why not, which made me actually think about the reasons – I LOVE both of their comic creations, and am a daily reader, so why do I eschew their audio works?

The causes are legion. I shall outline the top ones, and compare them to SModcast, which is bar none my favourite podcast.

1) Content:

Kevin Smith is a movie maker. But he talks, in his podcast, about making movies far less than you would imagine. Rarely, in fact. Instead, he sticks to topics like knob jokes, accusing his friends of being gay, sex, accusing himself of being gay, more sex, gay jokes, animal sex, and fat jokes. Stuff that he KNOWS works in any format. And it’s funny as hell, and it’s popular. Kris and Scott stick to pretty geeky stuff, which is FINE, but a bit tedious especially when coupled with the next two problems:

2) Form

Scott and Kris apparently like to keep it rizeal and simply run a live tape of whatever they did for the period of the ‘cast. Which is ok, fine, hardcore. But they’re not professional radio or audio guys, so their show flows about as well as a student radio station run by a n00b DJ. A wise man named Strongbad once referred to student radio as having an official motto of “Um … [Dead Air] .. Um” and never a truer word was spoken. The Power Hour has many an awkward gap and a legion o’pauses that’re each several beats long. And these problems are enhanced by the fact that Scott and Kris like to talk to fans – which, frankly, is DEATH. Because the geeks calling in are even LESS used to performance than the hosts. I remember turning off the very first Power Hour podcast because of some phone call where some dude talked about meeting some other dude in an endless monotone for what was probably only five minutes but surely seemed like an hour. And in order to achieve this mediocrity, we come to the next problem.

3) Techincal

In order to get the phone calls and auto-archival stuff and all that, the Power Hour guys use something called Talk Shoe. Which is a service which lets you do an interactive podcast will callers and things. Except the resulting audio, when downloaded, is some highly compressed bitstream – possibly using Skype or some other low-bandwidth carrier as an audio channel for the callers AND the hosts. As a result, the final podcast sounds pretty much exactly like a goose farting in the fog. A goose that, of late, has been feeling quite off-colour. Comparing it to the technical excellence of SModcast is, literally, embarassing for the PH guys. It’s AM vs FM.

This is why I no longer subscribe to the Power Hour, though as I said I’m still a regular reader and book purchaser of PVP, Starslip Crisis, etc.

If anyone has a cool podcast they would like to recommend, I would appreciate it! Now that I have a commute to work again for the next few months, I am craving decent content!

Just don’t hearth out

I woke this morning from a dream that I was a World of Warcraft Paladin floating in space, safely enclosed in my bubble, watching the heat death of the universe take place. All you could see was dying stars, their last energies output as light, illuminating me and all the other Paladins also floating safe in their own respective bubbles. This dream likely makes very obvious my take on the survivability of the Paladin class in WoW. I’d really like to play a party of five Paladins and see how that goes. Might take a while to kill the odd boss, but a wipe would be rare – and very recoverable.