Friday, September 22, 2006

For Iris

Click me

'Nuff said =P

Enough Already

I can't help noticing that virtually any new service launched by Microsoft recently has been a near direct copy of a Google product, sometimes even with the same name. If we ignore the search engine for now (Google's being far superior always), we currently have the more well-known ones of

Google Desktop Search -> Microsoft Desktop Search
Google Earth -> Microsoft Virtual Earth
Google Maps -> Whatever MS ended up calling it

And now Microsoft are going to also be making available online spreadsheet and wordprocessor applications, very much identical to one of Google's latest offerings. When will the madness end? Will MS soon be constructing their own moonbase? Can they even come up with original ideas anymore? Could they ever come up with a new idea? Only time will tell.

Personally I don't care either way, I'll be using Google's offerings thank you very much.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Sleepy Kemp

Today (well, yesterday now) was the day of the 3D-Mintegration conference thingy, which is a contraction of miniaturisation and integration in case you were wondering. Despite my preconception of this sort of thing being very stuffy and academic it was actually quite fun, all the people I met were very nice (even the ones with some control over my funding) and free food is always welcomed by poor students such as myself =P As it was at Loughborough Uni I decided to stay at my parent's house tonight (it's like 10 minutes away) and get some things done, such as getting my hair cut and organising things for my graduation which is creeping closer each day. Also Sarah (home Sarah) is getting a new kitten tomorrow morning so I'll probably go say hi to it before heading back to Cov.

Anywho, not as much sleep per night as I'm used to plus wine with my dinner makes me a sleepy Kemp, so I'll be off to bed now.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Water Load of ****

Yes, that's a bad pun, so sue me. Actually, please don't.

Anywho, today we have an installment of "How many WTFs can you spot" and my target is a Severn Trent Water bill that I happen to have skimmed. So without further ado, let's get started, and remember that they're charging this for the what is pretty much the most important thing needed for survival.
  • The first item on the list of charges is a "minimum charge" to inflate the bill if you have a reasonable sized pipe coming into the property. Not large, just reasonable. On my sample bill here this charge is as much as all the other charges added together.

  • Next up would be the fact that they don't just charge you for the water you use. Oh no, that would be sensible. They in fact charge you twice for it: once for supplying it and once for removing it.

  • The two standing charges. Once again, one standing charge for supplying water and one for removing it.

I'm ignoring the fact that they charge all this for something which quite literally falls from the sky on a regular basis. They, however, don't ignore this, which leads to the final charge that they manage to squeeze in:
  • A charge for the very fact that water falls from the sky. Literally, they charge you for the rain that happens in the region of your house. There are not big enough letters to type WTF with for this one.

Then there's all the miscellaneous things, like if your meter is faulty they will charge you for the privelige of having it fixed. Any leakage after where your supply splits off from the main pipe is of course charged to you and they'll take their own sweet time fixing that (if you even find out while they charge you for the lost water).

I love how all the literature accompanying the bill has to mention at least once that their price rises and pricing scheme in general are within the limits set by the appropriate governing body. Of course they are ST... say it enough and people might think it means you're not ripping them off.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Dawn of War + Tactics

In comment to my previous post I said

Meh, I remember why I stopped playing it now anyway. As of about 15 mins in you have more resources than you can spend and then it just becomes a matter of throwing in unit after unit until someone breaks through. Can a have a side-order of tactics with that meatgrinder? Oh you're all out, ok.

I thought I'd expand that a bit as an actual post.

The basic problem in Dawn of War (and a lot of other RTS games) is that it devolves so very easily into creating the biggest wedge of units you can and throwing them at the big wedge that the enemy created. A massive brawl ensues and whoever makes it out with stuff left alive will be able to cause enough damage to cripple the enemy's ability to make subsequent wedges. The AI doesn't help this at all as this appears to be the one and only tactic it is capable of. You're playing along nicely and suddenly one of the aforementioned wedges hits your defenses. While you're busy fighting them off the computer (having a much better ability to do things on opposite sides of the map than a human has) can build up another wedge and do the same again. It all comes down to only having two tactics against the computer:
  • Play defensively and be safe in the knowledge that the computer will break through and win.

  • Go on the offensive early in the game. This is very risky as mistakes will cost you dearly.

  • Go on the offensive around when the computer does and be forced to use the same tactics to break through the masses of units.

All in all, not the most inspiring set of choices. There is one last one of course, building enough defenses to withstand the uber-attack while your forces take a route round the side. That is verging on real tactics (*shock*) but it only works if the computer hasn't pulled the same trick as you and loaded out on defenses, otherwise it'll redeploy its units to meet your attack while you're breaking your way through and you're back at a big brawl again. The Eldar of course have much more sneaky and cunning tactics they can use, but in the end they only postpone the inevitable choice of one of those courses of action.

There's my thoughts on DoW tactics anyway, I'm sure Ben and Iris will be pleased I've ripped into the game they've been playing recently =P


Yes, I'm alive still and I finally have a connection, though for various reasons it's slightly unstable right now and maxes out at a mere 2Mb/s but I have plans to fix that. I'm (kinda) enrolled on my PhD at last, just a few more things to chase up, things were easier as an under-grad when things were done for you, lol. Other than that I'm pretty much catching up on what I need to know for what I'll be doing, mainly the documentation for things mentioned here and stuff for the module I'll be lecturing in (yes, they're letting me loose with real people, no, they won't be subjected to me every week =P). Don't think there's really much else to say at the moment, plus my muse is on vacation so writing isn't my strong point right now. Adios.

On a random note, I've reinstalled Dawn of War and I've been downloading the patches (they must all be applied in order). I noticed this little gem in the patch notes:

Reduced Scout accuracy while moving from .55 to .35.

Scouts were inadvertently given an accuracy penalty while moving in the 1.3 patch. This penalty has been removed.

As Overlord said, "Inadvertant my arse".

Friday, September 01, 2006

Final Day of Home

My final countdown post, off to Cov tomorrow and all the lonliness and lack of connection inherent therein *tiny violin plays* Not much happened today really, just checking all my packing and wondering what I will end up remembering tomorrow and packing at the literal last minute. Watched Metallica's S&M concert again and was reminded of the unhuman speed and accuracy Hetfield and Hammett have on their guitars (Hammett in particular), some of the closeups are quite insane. Iris has a new layout on her blog which I quite like. Think that's everything. Ciao to everyone at home, and hi to everyone at Coventry (which is almost no-one until term starts really).