August 15, 2005

Minesweeper Challenge

The above picture tells you two things:

  1. I have 1337 m1N35w33P3r 5k1llz
  2. I have waaay too much time on my hands

Anyway, how do you fair?

August 06, 2005

Dear Blog Admins/WGA

In 11 days my ITS user account expires, as the two scary emails I've received recently have told me. While I admittedly haven't been using this thing much of late – I've gone elsewhere – I would still like to maintain it for the odd occasions in the future when it will be useful.

I joined the WGA for two reasons – 1) to get cheaper access to the sports center next year, and 2) to be able to continue using this blog.

1) Hasn't worked out very well. It costs £132 to join the sports center as a WGA member, a reduction from the £144 you pay otherwise. A year's membership to the WGA costs, yes, £20. Spot the discount…oh wait…it actually costs MORE this way. What utter cheek! Only at Warwick…
/Shakes head

Anyway, with regards to 2) (and the POINT of this post), I haven't heard anything yet from anyone. Can someone please tell me what is going on?

Thank you for your time,

July 22, 2005

We shall not be moved

Wednesday was the first time I'd travelled by Tube since that day, two weeks ago. It was not the most pleasant of experiences, as I sat in the carridge, thinking just how easy it would be for the lives of everyone around me to be suddenly and violently extinguished, with no warning or chance of escape. Even though I told myself I would not be nervous, I left the train with a definite sense of relief.

And then, on another Thursday just two weeks later, it happened again. Or almost. I haven't been listening to the news today, so I still don't have a clear picture of what happened, or know if anyone else does. But as I walked across central London, from Euston to Holborn, a study of the faces of my compatriots showed a grim determination. We will not be scared into submission. We will not allow you to destroy our way of life, regardless of the disruption you cause. Whatever you do, we will go on.

And I hope this is the case, because the minute London, or anywhere else for that matter, ceases it's daily business is the minute that terror and brutality has suceeded. And that would be a dark day for the whole world.

July 19, 2005

Well everyone else is giving out the answers…

Follow-up to The Ultimate Music Song Lyrics Quiz, Part The Second from The random scribblings of a diseased imagination

1) Title and Registration - Death Cab for Cutie
I was searching for some legal document
As the rain beat down on the hood
When i stumbled upon pictures i tried to forget

2) No Leaf Clover - Metallica
Then it comes to be that the soothing light at the end of your tunnel
Was just a freight train coming your way

3) Engine Driver - The Decemberists
And I am a writer, writer of fictions
I am the heart that you call home
And I've written pages upon pages
Trying to rid you from my bones

4) These Days - Powderfinger
Itís coming round again
The slowly creeping hand
Of time and itís command

5) Perfect Memory - Remy Zero
So you're back on those treasured days
We were young in a world that was so tired

6) Winter - Joshua Radin
I could have lost myself
In rough blue waters in your eyes,
And I miss you still

7) Girl's Not Grey - A.F.I.
What follows me as the whitest lace of light,
Will swallow whole, just begs to be imbrued?
What follows has led me to this place where I belong with all the erased.

8) Shape of my Heart - Sting
He deals the cards to find the answer
The sacred geometry of chance
The hidden law of probable outcome
The numbers lead a dance

9) Come Around - Rhett Miller
I'm dressed all in blue and I'm remembering you
And the dress you wore when you broke my heart

10) Spin - Lifehouse
Everything I know has let me down
So I will just let go
Let you turn me inside out
Cause i know i'm not sure
About anything at all but you wouldn't have it any other way

11) The Everglow - Mae
Make a wish or just take charge.
The moment comes get lost and go far.
I think that we've got what it takes, to get this heart start beating again.
So take it all the way.

12) Brace Yourself - Howie Day
So you think
You can hold the world up by a string
With all that you have

13) Motorcycle Emptiness - Manics
From feudal serf to spender
This wonderful world of purchase power
Just like lungs sucking on air
Survival's natural as sorrow, sorrow, sorrow

14) Konstantine - Something Coporate
This is because I can spell confusion with a 'K', and I can like it
It's to dying in anothers armsand why I had to try it
It's to Jimmy Eat World and those nights in my car
When the first star you see may not be a star

15) Blue Eyes - Cary Brothers
Fess it up, dot on the palm of your hand
I can help you to stand
Saved it up for this dance
Tell me all the things you can

16) Someone - Tammany Hall
And some may run
And some know fear
And some wade in a while and let the murky waters clear
And some just smile

17) Best I Ever Had (Grey Sky Morning) - Vertical Horizon
And it may take some time to
Patch me up inside
But I can't take it so I
Run away and hide

18) Angeles - Elliot Smith
Picking up the ticket shows thereís money to be made
Go on and lose the gamble thatís the history of the trade
You add up all the cards left to play

19) Century After Century - Idlewild
I didn't hear cheerleading for creative writers
And your cheekbones don't taste of anything at all
It's on it's way out, it's just an easier way to stay

20) Omaha - Counting Crows
Start threading the needle
Brush past the shuttle that slides through the cold room
Start turning the wool across the wire
Roll the new life over

I guess I was just too obscure for everyone.

July 18, 2005

Fantasy Football is here again

Writing about web page

It's that time of the year again. I'm sure there must be SOME people out there who play fantasy football…well, this one's free, and I am once again running a mini-league, optimistically entitled "The Hopeless".

For any who want to join, the league ID is 23129–5102. I hope to see some of you there :-)

July 16, 2005


What the certificate should really say:

July 13, 2005

The Return

I'm back at Warwick today, ahead of my graduation ceremony tomorrow. It seems that, while nothing has really changed in the past two weeks, actually everything has.

While walking past my first year residence of Rootes L block a few minutes ago, I was struck with a great sense of nostalgia. This part of my life is over – I will never be a student again. Nothing is the same any more.

I'm obviously not the only one. I passed another former student (yes, I have to refer to myself as a former student now, and boy does it hurt), I caught part of his mobile phone conversation in which he was angrily declaiming the construction of a new building in front of his 1st year home in Old Rootes, his upset gesticulations mirroring my own feelings with suprising accuracy.

When I arrived today I ran into a couple of flatmates from this year. One of them asked me "Did you just get back?" Whether or not she conciously chose that wording I don't know, but it was also representative of my feelings. "Back", not "here". This place has been my home for three years, and now when I return to London I realise that this is where I'd rather be. So this process is "coming back to Warwick", just like "coming back home". In a way it's sad that I don't see the place I've lived for 18 years as truly my home any more, but equally I think it's a sign of growing up, spreading my wings. Or something.

On a different note, Conference atendees are treated much better than students (to the suprise of no one at all). On arrival in Jack Martin I was confronted with tea/coffee/hot chocolate making equipment, complete with biscuits, a collection of towels in the bathroom, hangers in the cupboard, and, for some reason, a hair dryer. (Not in the cupboard though). Pity they didn't provide me with a laptop and a network card, but you can't have everything ;-). Of course, I am paying £35 for a single night, but you'd never get biscuits as a student.

OMG it LIVES! Finally!

Writing about web page

My website is DONE (apart from a couple of very minor things that I would like to fix up because I like elegant code).

It now contains a blog, with archives imported from here. I still have to go through that and cull some of the entries, but the effort involved is too great right now. Annoyingly, WordPress doesn't seem to like importing comments, so sadly anything you lovely people have said on here over the past 8 months will be missing :-(

However, please feel free to come say new stuff (or old stuff again, if you are that bored). I may even get round to blogging there from time to time.


(Oh, and don't worry. I won't abandon this place just yet.)

July 06, 2005

Splinter Cell Chaos Theory – Review

This is an offline review only. Seeing as I'm on dialup at the moment I can't actually play it online, but from the Versus mode tutorials it seems that they have at least sorted out the differences between on and offline (which were so noticable in Pandora Tomorrow) to some extent. I've also dabbled with co-op mode on Xbox, and it was great fun, albeit rather confusing. I would very much like to try both online modes, preferrably on a LAN. Hopefully some time soon...


Sam Fischer, aging US super-spy (and if this is anything to go by, the worldís greatest user of Just For Men) returns to save the world from information and electronic warfare. Yet again. It's a miracle anyone survives past puberty, what with all these global crises.

This time the action climaxes in Korea and Japan, with a spot of globe-trotting beforehand as you attempt to discover what is actually going on. Sadly the plot is rather predictable and not particularly interesting. You will know who the bad guy is from the first time you encounter him, because he looks evil and has a scar – a rather depressing level of characterisation. I should maybe apologise for giving that away, but it will really only be a spoiler to someone with less than 5 brain cells to rub together.

That said, it should be pointed out that Splinter Cell Chaos Theory is by no means a bad game – the concept of the Splinter Cell games is such that it would probably take more effort to mess them up than to make them enjoyable. Sam has some new equipment and moves this time too, most of which come in handy throughout the course of the game, although not often enough for my liking, and I still never found a use for the split jump. The levels are generally well designed, and while not of the consistently high standard of the original, they offer more choice over how to complete the missions. As well as this, the whole game looks_ fantastic_, and the voice acting as impressive as ever, with Michael Ironside yet again providing the perfect support for Sam's dry wit.

There are a couple of dialogue atrocities however, particularly Lambert's response of "This isn't a video game Sam" when asked if the mission will be terminated if three alarms go off (which was exactly the case with Pandora Tomorrow), and a guard advertising Ubisoft's own Prince of Persia game in such a terrible and exploitative manner that it nearly made me weep. This also ties in with some fairly dire product placement which, particularly in cut-scenes, is jarring enough to disturb your immersion in the game world. Other than that the dialogue is pretty solid, although the guards' phrases could do with some more variation from mission to mission.

Another problem is with the level design. I said it was generally pretty good, and it is. For a game. Consider things from the viewpoint of realism however, and cracks begin to show. Everything is just way too staged – there are always crawl-spaces just where you need them, regardless of the fact that no one would ever design a building like that. Corridors are often shrouded in darkness before you even begin to shoot out the lights. Important power switches are located on said corridor walls, rather than hidden away in some kind of maintenance room. And so on…

This lack of realism is also reflected in the game's most important flaw – the guard AI. Stay silently in the shadows and they will ignore you. Make some noise or move out into the light and they will come and investigate. Fine. The problems don't appear until they are actually alerted to your presence. To give an example – you creep up on a guard and he spots you a split second before your well-placed fist renders him unconscious. He didn't even have time to scream, and yet somehow – apparently by telepathy – guards in nearby rooms suddenly know you're there and alarms start going off. Equally bizarre is the way you can knock out a guard with a sticky shocker – causing him to cry out – and his mate 20 meters away won't notice. But shoot him with a bullet – a silent, one-shot kill – and you're instantly being shot at by the other guard, despite being deep in the shadows which stopped him seeing you at all just a second ago. This has always been Splinter Cell's Achilles heel and after 3 games, particularly in this post Far Cry and Half Life 2 era, we really expect better AI.

All that said, I still return to this simple fact: Chaos Theory is a good, enjoyable game. While not reaching the consistency of the original Splinter Cell, it is the sequel we've been waiting for. Pandora Tomorrow has been shown for what it really was - something to pass the time until this arrived. If you enjoyed Splinter Cell, then Chaos Theory is a game you must play, if only to get some new variation on the old theme. If not, then you are missing out on something that, despite its flaws, is still better than the majority of games out there at present.


Gimme Five…

Writing about web page

When Lewis showed me this, I knew I couldn't resist it. However, as I am both a rather big RPG gamer, and incredibly fussy, it took me ages to come up with a satisfactory party.

To be honest, this entry isn't very entertaining – you should really read the original one (link above) as he does a much better job than me. However, while his writing may be more entertaining, my party could still beat his party in a fight. Any time, any place. Bring it.

1) Sam Fischer (Splinter Cell)
For multi-purpose breaking and entering, and the neutralisation of some really dumb guards there can be no one better. Gets the job done efficiently, and without the moaning that usually accompanies a standard rogue when asked to help someone else for a change.

2) JC Denton (Deus Ex)
Part man, part machine, useful in a fight…hell…he's nearly invinsible. And he can hide a REALLY BIG rocket launcher under his coat. What more do you need?

3) Max Guevera (Jessica Alba – Dark Angel)
Not only is she a transgenic killing machine, she's also incredibly fine.

4) Nynaeve al'Meara (The Wheel of Time)
I suppose every party needs a healer, even when blessed with such excellent talents as the three names above. As far as healers go, Nynaeve is pretty much the best. She can cure anything this side of death, and can also use the One Power for anything else she chooses, making her doubly useful as she can also fulfil the role of mage. It's a pity she's a whiny bitch, but you've got to side with the talent.

5) Belgarath (The Belgariad)
Of course, no party is complete without a wise old man with a long beard, and to make things better this man is thousands of years old and can turn himself into a wolf. Oh, and he's also one of the most powerful sorcerers ever.

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