Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Number 1

Once again the Internet has developed a severe case of Epic Win. As I'm sure many of you know, the Christmas number 1 spot this year has been up for grabs with the winner of Strictly Come Pop Hero Talent Factor on one side with the same old drivel we get every year (before they vanish into obscurity), and Rage Against the Machine's Killing in the Name on the other side. Now, it's not a Christmassy song, but it's a song that took talent to produce and perform, it's a song that many people still enjoy, and (most importantly) it was made by a real band that didn't go under after one hit.

After rather a heated battle, which Simon Cowell called "stupid" and "cynical", Killing in the Name came out in front with 500,000 sales, to the competing song's 450,000. It also set the record for being the first song to reach Christmas number 1 on downloads alone. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what we can achieve if we refuse to accept what we're force fed.

What are Rage Against the Machine going to do to celebrate this victory? Firstly they're planning a free concert in the UK to thank everyone, and secondly they're donating the earnings from the sales to charity. The same charity in fact that the original Facebook group which started this movement was providing links to. The group already raised £70,000 in donations for them. I think that counts as another layer on the growing pile of Win which the campaign created.

Thanks to everyone that supported this, and let's hope the right people got the message.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pandemic Space

Last week EA closed the doors on Pandemic Studios (among many other groups of talented developers). I'm sure anyone who's seen Office Space knows what happens next. I wish all the guys and gals from Pandemic (and the other teams) the best of luck finding new jobs. Don't let EA break you like they seem to try to do with all their employees.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

TV Licensing Fail

Today I received a letter from the TV Licensing people (the BBC basically). Let's break this letter down and see how much they fail.
Yes, yes it is. Thank you for reminding me in block capitals.
Again with the block capitals. I assume by "enforcement officers" they mean some guy in a van who'll serve me a court notice if they tell him to. What have I done to deserve this I wonder? Let's read on.
We have contacted you before. However, there is still no TV Licence for this address.
Yep, because I don't need one. Remember how TV isn't mandatory? Means a TV licence isn't either. No TV == no TV licence. I like how the tone implies that it is mandatory though. I assume this line (along with the block capitals previously) are trying to make the receiver of the letter worried. They might be able to make a sale to someone who doesn't need a licence.
It may be that you have just moved in. In this case, you should get in touch to let us know. If you have a TV License for your old address, we can transfer it to your new home. Or you may need to buy a new licence.
Note that not needing a licence still hasn't been presented as an option yet.
If you watch or record TV programmes as they're being broadcast without a valid licence, you are breaking the law. If you're found doing so, you could be taken to court and fined up to £1,000.
Shocking. They finally admit there are cases where you don't need a licence. I assume they're required to do this by law to avoid charges of harrasment or somesuch. Either way, they managed to wrap it as much as possible in more text designed to worry you and make you think you've absolutely positively got to have a licence.

I'll stop there as it's just more of the same. There is one classic line though:
Every day we catch around 1,000 TV Licence evaders - you could be next.
No, no I couldn't. Also, that must be an inflated figure. That's 365,000 people a year, meaning that given how long they've been running, a sizeable portion of the UK must not be buying a licence.

For those of you wondering - yes it's true, I don't need a licence. I don't watch (or record) any live TV. It's honestly not worth £143 a year for 5 channels which have maybe one good show a week between them. During peak season. Plus, the BBC is the only channel which sees any of the money anyway, but that's a whole failure in itself which I won't go into here.

From the comments:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Doc Who special - Waters of Mars

Possibly a spoiler if you intend on seeing the ep and haven't yet, so stop here :-P

There are laws, there are laws of time. Once upon a time there were people in charge of those laws, but they've died. They all died. Do you know who that leaves ME? It's taken me all these years to realise, the laws of time are MINE. AND THEY WILL OBEY ME!

Need I say more? I wish they'd shown us more of this darker Doctor, but the descent to this point has (rightly) taken a long time. Sometimes we saw glances of it, sometimes he let his guard down, and sometimes the disguise just completely dropped, but I'm sure we all know it was there. Hopefully RTD will man up and make the finale worthy. But then, that's why they gave us Torchwood. Because in the end the Doctor is the hero, and he's not allowed to be badass for too long lest it confuse the kids watching.

I just want to see the Valeyard snap his (very confused) assistant's neck and go do everything the Doctor tried not to. There's a late-night spinoff for you BBC :-P

On unrelated notes, I hope everyone noticed the reference in the name of the base and the one to K-9 ;-)


The launch itself:
(7:24:19 PM) Overlord: 4 mins =)
(7:28:31 PM) Overlord: GO
(7:28:32 PM) ***Overlord is currently listening to: Star Trek - First Contact - Magic Carpet Ride - Steppenwolf (Star Trek - First Contact).mp3 [04:25m/320Kbps/44KHz/foobar2000]
(7:29:59 PM) Kemp: I was about 10 seconds behind
(7:30:09 PM) Kemp: at least I knew it didn't blow up on the pad :P
(7:30:12 PM) Overlord: hehehe
(7:30:44 PM) Overlord: SRBs are off
(7:31:09 PM) Kemp: arced away perfectly
(7:32:26 PM) Overlord: Song's finished
(7:32:27 PM) Overlord: XD

And some pre-launch drama (for some reason Widnows Media has always Just Worked for me in Firefox under Ubuntu, never has for Person X):
xxxx: can you get me the website?
xxxx: is not working on my work computer
xxxx: is acting the same as on my other computer
Kemp: you should be able to change the stream format, if one of the others works
Kemp: oh, the only other one is real, lol
Kemp: but yeah, it just worked for me
Kemp: try installing w32codecs
Kemp: should be in synaptic
Kemp: if not:
Kemp: wget -c
Kemp: sudo dpkg -i w32codecs_20071007-0medibuntu2.1_i386.deb
xxxx: done it
xxxx: through synaptic
Kemp: kk
xxxx: nope
xxxx: still not working
Kemp: try installing mozilla-mplayer
Kemp: if it's not already installed
Kemp: and if that still doesn't work, run these commands from your home directory:
Kemp: rm -rf ~/.gstreamer-0.10
Kemp: gst-inspect-0.10
xxxx: still the same
Kemp: in firefox's address bar, type about:plugins
Kemp: and see what it says about windows media
xxxx: is all enabled
Kemp: on the page, click Other Viewing Options next to the video and check you're using windows media, not real
Kemp: if all else fails, try quicktime, lol
xxxx: quicktime done it
Kemp: that's working?
xxxx: yes

A classic example of Just Try Everything. We'd already tried some things on Person X's other computer for the Ares I-X launch, with no luck. Saved by Quicktime, who'd have thought?

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Live Messenger Fail

Congratulations Microsoft. Seriously, you finally managed it. After years of using your MSN Messenger and Live Messenger clients in favour of any other (on Windows at least), you've shown me the error of my ways. I could have converted to Trillian or Pidgin and prevented myself from being stuck with ads in an interface which defies even your own GUI standards and best practices documents (not to mention interfacing with the rest of the system in a cock-handed way). Instead I stuck with it. It's the official client, that must mean something surely? Apparently not. I avoided this latest upgrade because I didn't much like the changes that had been made (every big release seems to expand the interface, soon you'll need an array of nine panels just to show the menu bar).

Eventually though you pushed the big red button and I wasn't allowed to log in unless I upgraded. Not because you wanted to force me over of course. No, this was for my protection. So sweet that you think about me. So I dutifully clicked the upgrade button and braced myself for what was to appear.... It didn't. Any attempt to log in now crashes the thing. Apparently I'm not the only one, and (being an average end-user for once) I really can't be bothered trying to apply the fixes on the off-chance they might give me another half a year before it breaks again. So now I'm using Pidgin as my sole client across Ubuntu and Windows. Something I should have done long ago.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Cutlery Madness

In my cutlery drawer right now there are 9 tablespoons and 8 teaspoons, that's a total of 17 spoons. Yet there are only 6 knives, and 4 forks. How can such inbalance exist in the universe?