Found yet another game that eats away hours of time: Peggle! (You might need to sign up with YouPlay first, but it's free and there's a lot of fun games to play.)
This is one of those "clear the level" type games, ala breakout and the like, although in this case you shoot the ball from the top and it bounces around the place. When you fail, you can repeat the same level (rather than have to go back to the beginning), and it even remembered what I'd done, so didn't need to redo everything to get to the next set of puzzles! Fantastic!
...just one more go at that "get the score" level...
Friday, 30 November 2007
Found yet another game that eats away hours of time: Peggle! (You might need to sign up with YouPlay first, but it's free and there's a lot of fun games to play.)
Thursday, 29 November 2007
Wednesday, 28 November 2007
Big story for JK Rowling fans:
Rowling's lawyers confirmed she is happy for spin-offs to be published online as long as the publications are not sold and it is made clear she was not involved in the stories.
Fan-fic is legal! Like that was going to stop anyone. Some guy was publishing stuff on his website and nearly got into trouble copyright-wise. Yeah, and if that had gone through, you can bet half the population of the planet would also be in trouble! Who hasn't written fanfic! (See my recent TSV post for example!) If she had gone ahead with the lawyering, she would have just looked like an idiot.
But there is a condition:
She also requested the follow-ups do not contain pornography or racism.
Um... if I may... TOO LATE! I don't even need to look to know there's more Harry Potter porn out there than I ever want to know about. If there is a popular series, there's porn dedicated to it.
Still, nice to know that if I wanted to go ahead and write a story and distribute it for no monetary profit, the author has kindly graced not to try and sue me. So kind of her.
[END] Read more!
Tuesday, 27 November 2007
I'm not a big computer gamer as I just have too much other media to deal with, but that doesn't mean I don't want to play them. I do have a few titles tucked away that I might get around to playing if I ever have the time, but I do tend to look at older titles so I know my computer can play them.
Oh, yeah, that's another thing, I play games on my PC. I don't have an X-Box, or Playstation or Wii or anything like that. (As I don't play a lot of games, I don't feel the need for any kind of dedicated game machine.)
This does raise one problem. I enjoy watching The Simpsons (although I haven't watched anything for a while as they jumped the shark some seasons ago), and I even have a computer game (basically a virtual tour of Springfield with some activities to do).
There's a new Simpsons game out which looks like fun, gets into the spirit of the show, lots of voices and stuff. I'd like to give it a go (although more than likely wait a while for the price to drop). Only problem: it isn't out on the PC, just the game machines. Fine, that might be where the money is, but it's out on every platform except the PC!
It might get released later, but this could just be a symptom of the death knell of PC gaming. Or I could be reading slightly too much into it.
Monday, 26 November 2007
MST3K became RiffTrax became The Film Crew, consisting of just Mike, Kevin and Bill. They have done four DVDs so far, but are obviously known in the business, as they were chosen to host Midnight Madness, a movie marathon of really bad movies, which they provide intros for! Enjoy the fun!
Links to actual film introductions are in the fold:
John Carpenter's The Thing
Night of the Living Dead
Starship Troopers 2
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
The Harder They Come
The Puppet Masters
It! The Terror From Beyond Space
Sunday, 25 November 2007
Here's another one of them games to completely absorb every moment you have because YOU MUST COMPLETE IT! It's in the vein of The Incredible Machine, called Launchball. Just place one or two pieces and let physics take care of the rest. Got one or two pieces... it's so easy... oh, just the next level... just one more...
(Actually, I have placed all 30. And there's an annoying bit where sometimes you can't move the block and need to restart the level, but can only do that by going back to the main menu...)
Saturday, 24 November 2007
Friday, 23 November 2007
Thursday, 22 November 2007
Wow! The plot finally kicks in, and kicks hard! Definitely avoid the spoilers in the fold if you intend on watching this story, 'cos I saw only some of that coming! (Unless you get the RSS feed, in which case you'll see everything anyway.)
Okay, so Luke was really a normal human boy and his parents have been searching for him... only, they turn out to be evil. Really... whoever could have seen that? Oh wait, me when I saw the trailer last time! And did we need a clip show after only 10 half-episodes?
But... the Slitheen? Yowsa! And the Xylok... the hell? That I didn't see coming (and the trailer last time totally led you in the wrong direction for the intent of the episode), and I thought it was great! Now that's a twist worth watching for!
(I do have to wonder just how well thought out this was. Surely Mr Smith could easily have not, for example, stopped the asteroid from destroying Earth in the last episode. And was setting up the Slitheen really the best plan?)
With the plot ramped up, the characters do take a step back. Obviously, this should be a Luke episode, and yet he is largely trapped for the story one way or the other. There's still a large portion of the Sarah Jane and Maria show, but Clyde gets some good screentime (although only in the first episode). The second episode is all about the running around, so there isn't much worth mentioning... EXCEPT FOR THE RETURN OF K9!!! WO0T!1!
The series has been a lot of fun, and this was a good cap to it. No idea if there is a second series, but we can hope for a return in some form or another.
Wednesday, 21 November 2007
Tuesday, 20 November 2007
I recently got the Doctor Who Encyclopedia. Haven't had time to do more than flick through it's glossy, glossy pages, but I'm going to review it (or at least, give some comments) anyway!
It is, as I say, very glossy, with lots of photos illustrating all sorts of entries (although from looking at the photos first, it isn't always easy to identify the entry that should go with it). I do debate the need for all those entries, some of them get very obsessed about what gets recorded. (And yet, misses out on some entries!)
Nevertheless, there's everything here from the first three series, including the Christmas specials (as expected), the Children in Need Special (ha! see, RTD, it is canon!) and even Attack of the Graske (which can easily be canon).
Obviously through, it's now already out of date, but this just means there's a guaranteed revenue stream as new versions are put out.
This covers the new series, the Universal Database has the old series... but wait! What of the McGann movie? Surely, there's a gap that needs addressing!
Monday, 19 November 2007
Yay, new Doctor Who! In this case, the Children in Need special, cunningly inserted into the end of Last of the Time Lords, so much so you'll never notice the jarring change of image as the video changes.
But, aww, bless, it's for the children. And it's great to watch! Peter Davison back in action as the Doctor! Tennant gets the line "You were my Doctor", and I do wonder how much of that was Moffat and/or Tennant speaking from their hearts, as he was certainly my Doctor too.
One does wish it could have gone on longer, and that they didn't spend so much time pratting about with Doc 10 going on about Doc 5's outfit and appearance. It's more of a love note to Peter Davison's Doctor that anything else, but not quite like the previous one.
Also check out Behind the Scenes.
Sunday, 18 November 2007
For the Dover vs. Kitzmiller trial that is! Nova (a program series on PBS) did a show on the Dover case called Judgment Day... and you can watch it online! (For free!)
The main page is here and has links to all sorts of people and facts about the case, and here is the actual program itself! (Although, annoyingly, it's in 12 parts, so while you can watch whichever chapter you want, it does take a while to flick through them all...) (There are also transcripts there so you can just read it, and it's largely talking heads anyway.)
Saturday, 17 November 2007
Back in 1991, Richard Dawkins (aka Mr Lalla Ward) did a series of five hour lectures about life, the universe and everything, called "Growing up in the universe." And now all those lectures are online, watchable, and even downloadable, for free!
Check it out! (And yes, that is Douglas Adams.)
Friday, 16 November 2007
As ever with these stories, more gets uncovered as time goes on.
14-year-old nearly died in exorcism, Dad saw exorcism intensify before daughter's death, and Water forced into makutu victim. (You may not immediately see the difference in these articles as they all use exactly the same photo.) The "ritual" involves putting the cursed person into water, and in this case more water than "usual" had been used. But, at the time, people thought that was fine. Only now, in hindsight, are people going "hang on"...
But when people are caught up in group events (cf. revivals and confidence building courses), thinking isn't generally encouraged. Just listen to the person in charge, and do what they say. (Which is a fine evolutionary tactic when someone's saying "come this way to avoid the tigers now", but...)
One piece of information to come to light: the tohunga (healers) involved in the ceremony might have been frauds! Really? Did they claim to have supernatural abilities? Perhaps they mentioned having done ceremonies before? Did they have a vast array of credentials on show?
HOW CAN YOU TELL??? I've talked before about proving a negative, and people claiming supernatural abilities (which is what healing or priestly powers amount to) are smack in the middle of that territory. Perhaps their power isn't working "right now", or "just ask that guy over there, he brought into it."
Our culture has allowed frauds to flourish, and it'll take more than one "makutu cleansing" gone wrong to get people's attention to change it.
Thursday, 15 November 2007
Meetings are a necessary evil. For some reason, people have decided that we must gather and share information at work, and inevitably, it always boils down to "what have you been doing this week?". (I don't care about what I did, let alone want to even pretend to pay attention to what you did.)
After a while, even managers can't pretend that they are useful, and so end up saying "hey, let's make meetings more productive". But then everything goes wrong. Let's look at the productivity equation:
Meeting Productivity = Content / Time
There are two ways that productivity can be increased. The easiest way, that would appeal to people (especially those of us who recognise meetings as the pointless activities that they are), is to lessen the time of the meetings. Shorter, possibly, but even better, meetings less often. Yay!
So why, then, whenever anyone says "let's get more productive" the suggestion is always "let's have more content"?? And there are presentations, and guest speakers, and... AARRGGHH!!
Wednesday, 14 November 2007
In TSV #52, I wrote a story! (W00T!1!) If I recall correctly, I came up with the concept (rather than having it suggested to me) to have links to whatever was being reviewed in the issue. In this case, it was Monster of Peladon, Hand of Fear, King's Demons and Five Doctors. Some links are more interesting that others.
The first draft of the story was different (in the details) to what was published. One such change was that Henry was originally Harry! But, as Paul pointed out, people might be thinking of a different Harry, so he got changed.
Other scenes were also revised, and seeing the differences might be interesting, but I'm hiding the rest in the fold...
When Sarah first entered the story, I withheld her identity for a paragraph. Probably to make it more exciting!
The door opened and a pair of feet touched down. They lifted off again momentarily as the owner wrestled her way out of the small car. She cursed mechanics in general, and the ones in specific who were fixing her car, necessitating this economy sized vehicle.
When the Doctor examined the device on Orion, there was far more technobabble, and there was just more waffle in general.
‘Yes,’ said the Doctor musingly. ‘And if you’re here, then I don’t think that their technology is quite virtual either. Matter transmission isn’t developed until that latter part of the 21st century, and even then it isn’t used to go beyond the moon.’ After a moment he asked ‘How long did it take you to get here?’
‘Just a moment, really. And I’ve got this so I can be recalled.’ Sarah held up the recall box, then handed it to the Doctor when he held his hand out questioningly.
In short order, the Doctor had the box open, and examined the insides. ‘Humm...hrmm...hmmm....’
‘This uses temporal technology. Very dangerous. Could mean the end of the entire solar system.’
‘Doesn’t it always?’
‘This isn’t time for flippancy, Sarah Jane. We’ve got to get back and put a stop to this.’
Sarah held her hand out. ‘I do have my own way of getting back. And when I get back, I’ll tell U.N.I.T. to shut them down.’
The Doctor frowned. ‘I think I’d better follow you, just to be on the safe side.’
‘All right, fine. Can you follow the signal?’
The Doctor nodded. ‘See you on the other side, Sarah Jane.’
Sarah rolled her eyes, and pushed the button.
In the published version, the Doctor and Sarah only take the one trip, but there was a trip before that while the bad guys were still playing. I put this in because I didn't want to jump straight to the end without some competence from the bad guys, but also wanted to put in a more concrete reference to Hand of Fear than just referring to Sarah's leaving.
They disappeared. Sarah collapsed, sinking into the surface below her, gasping out her last breath, Beside her, the Doctor wasn’t coping much better. He managed to look around him, saw only mud, then a bright flash in the sky, before they were pulled back again.
Only a few hours later, something struck the surface of the planet where they had stood, a small something, a part of something like a statue, a stone hand. They lay on the floor of the booth, spluttering.
‘Interesting. You survived going back one hundred and fifty million years. So, what was the weather like?’
‘You’re tampering with forces you don’t understand,’ gasped the Doctor.
‘So you keep saying. Who are you anyway? Doesn’t matter,’ said Roger dismissively. ‘That was successful. We know we can journey into the past, but what of the future?’ To the guards, Roger said ‘Take them away. We’ll need them later, once we’re set up.’
When the Doctor and Sarah escape from the cell they didn't just walk out, but this scene was rather gratuitous violence for Sarah.
Half an hour later, the door swung open, and the Doctor beamed at Sarah. Until a guard came in and stuck his gun in the Doctor’s face.
‘I think you should know, I’m against all forms of violence,’ said the Doctor.
The guard just stared stonily at the Doctor for a moment, then a look of agony passed over his features, before he collapsed, his hands between his legs.
‘It’s amazing how many men never consider that kind of attack,’ said Sarah, revealed behind the fallen guard.
The Doctor frowned at Sarah’s method, but couldn’t argue the result. The two of them left the room rapidly.
The Doctor darted ahead, leading the way, but several turns later was paused indecisively.
There was more of a link between the second-to-last and last scene, possibly I was thinking of some form of sequel.
One of the guards aimed his gun at the Doctor. ‘I wouldn’t suggest that. U.N.I.T. has already been advised of the situation, and I don’t think killings would help your case any.’
Roger waved at the guard to put the gun down.
‘Fine. You have us. But you’ll never know our secrets.’
‘They never talked?’
‘No,’ the Doctor shook his head. ‘U.N.I.T. has them in jail, of course, for misuse of science, but they never said where their technology came from. Pity.’
Also check out what Alden and Paul have to say!
Tuesday, 13 November 2007
[That I'm blogging about this will surprise no-one.]
For many people, reality is a flexible concept, able to change to fit people's moods. Certainly, people have claimed the day to be very bright for very dark, depending on how cheerful or depressed they are feeling.
Then there are those who expect to see certain things, and see them everywhere. Convince yourself that the number 23 is significant and you will see 23 everywhere. Just another example of pattern recognition. And recognising what you've been taught. If you've been taught that there are spirits and demons and ghosts, then you'll see those as well.
And if you believe there are such things as makutus...
A Wainuiomata woman died during her family's attempt to exorcise a Maori curse, with the mother of two drowning in a lounge as up to 40 relatives watched.
The sad thing is, this isn't as rare as it should be. Given the state of the media, it's no surprise that most examples are from America, but certainly there are plenty of people there who still believe in exorcisms and that they are real things.
From their point of view, there really is a demon. And exorcisms are a proper response. If people die...well, that's sad, but it happens, and it was in the name of...
I don't even know. God? A higher power? Doing the right thing? Tradition?
Yes, I'm just going to say: THESE PEOPLE ARE CRAZY! And, moreover, deluded. A decent education might have saved that woman... or just might have given her excellent "reasons" (read: "self-rationalisations") for her delusions.
But I'm betting right now there won't be a single dent in the belief of the makutu.
[END] Read more!
Monday, 12 November 2007
This always cheers me up:
At work my team leader wasn't the most technologically comfortable guy (but great with the statistics). Our computers have a screen saver with password that we are supposed to activate whenever we step away, but he didn't always do that... so I had a bit of fun to teach him.
One time I flipped his screen image (only possible with some graphics cards). Another time I changed his background image. I changed some of his Word settings (never noticed because he didn't use it that much). And so on. Never got around to sending a message from his email to everyone offering to buy morning tea through... (although that does happen with someone else I know, which the person has to then provide morning tea as punishment for not locking their computer).
Eventually, he moved on to another job, and on about the last day or so, got to playing with his calculator, and found out that it wasn't working. I tried it, and found that the 0 and 1 button worked, as did some function keys. Odd...
Changing from binary mode to normal, I fixed his calculator for him. He said it had been like that for two years and he hadn't known how to fix it! (He also looked very suitably shamed.)
I just wished I had been the one to do that...
Sunday, 11 November 2007
So as most of you probably currently know, over in the US of A there's a Writer's Strike as writer's desperately try to tap into all that mula that the networks are scoring from their efforts. One obvious impact from all this is that shows are being halted and the audience over there is facing repeats.
There has been the suggestion that reality shows will go ahead unaffected. But I am wondering about that on two fronts. There's always narration and stuff, does that count as needing a writer? (If not, then Mythbusters should continue unabated!) The other point is... are "reality shows" really any reflection of reality? I'm sure I'm not the only one to think most of those shows are scripted to hell and back. (And now we'll really see just how real Wrestling is...)
But the main thing I'm wondering is: what if this happened over here? Any strike would have the whole country up in arms to give them more money or otherwise... no Shortland Street! Aaaarrrrhhhh!!!! (I guess, never watch the show myself.) That said... they could probably just get the actors to improv and still just storylines just as comprehensible. And I do wonder if the writers would go on strike or be too obsessed and keep slipping them scripts anyway.
Just remember: never get in the way of the SS.
Saturday, 10 November 2007
As the BA points out, but as we all know anyway, Futurama is returning with straight-to-DVD movies, but you know they're gonna be fantastic! The first one is Bender's Big Score, but the Amazon entry reads like it's a vanilla disc. Check out this interview with David X. Cohen for the skinny on the DVDs and the list of extras they are cramming on!
Order now, I have! (But so long to wait...)
Friday, 9 November 2007
It's all the rage at the moment. Skeptical Inquirer has it. Skeptic magazine has it. Even the NZ Skeptic magazine has it (although it's not on the website yet).
What is it? I'm talking about articles that look critically at the link between autism and immunisation, and, basically, how any semblance of a link is bunk (all offense intended to vapid women who go on about the "mommy instinct" being more power than medicine.)
So when I saw the following article on Stuff, I didn't believe the title: No explanation for 'scary' rise in autism.
Amazingly, they get through the whole article without one mentioning immunisation, but they do mention other possibilities: "The increase was not explained by the population increase or another suggestion that it was now easier to diagnose."
But I am cynical, and now await for the expected headline "Protecting your child from diseases WILL KILL THEM!" 'Cos you know someone's gonna do that...
Thursday, 8 November 2007
It's good to see the Sarah Jane and Maria show in full swing!
Certainly not the Luke and Clyde show. Just how quickly did Gareth Roberts get rid of Luke? And, frankly, when he came back and delivered that awful line of technobabble, just made you all the more glad he had been missing.
No, not the most original storyline (someone's missing and no-one can remember them), but the inclusion of Ashley Yates made it more interesting. And was it just me or did Jane Asher look a lot like a blonder Elisabeth Sladen? There were moments when I thought it was simply ES in a different make-up job. Anyways, the point is, pinning everything on letting one particular thirteen year old girl die over another is a horrific image for children and will scar them mentally for years to come. Nice one, Gareth!
(Really, when you think about it, the Trickster had to go to a lot of work in order to erase Sarah Jane but still keep the timeline safe enough for the earth to be the same as before. Not only the current SJA adventures but also all her past episodes with the Doctor, as well as arrange for the earth being unable to defend itself in other ways, e.g. the Torchwood laser cannon as in The Christmas Invasion. One wonders if there wasn't a simpler way...maybe just short circuit Mr. Smith at an inopportune moment?)
In this episode, the acting plaudits go to Yasmin Page for, as usual, her brilliant turn as Maria, but also Joseph Millson for his brilliant turn as her dad. He's especially great in the second episode when he has to pull off the "I know your secret" moments.
This story does make one wonder if the series would have been better without Luke or even Clyde. Unfortunately, the next set of episodes is all about Luke, so we won't find out.
Wednesday, 7 November 2007
Obviously I made it through the fireworks without getting set on fire, but not everyone was so lucky. A kid with sparklers burned down a house in Turangi (I thought sparklers were already banned?). Yep, one house fire proves that all fireworks should now be banned from here to forever. Bah, in my day my brother and cousin burned down a tree, but that was about it.
I saw some nice fireworks go off from out of the street, and you can see some of what I saw here. (The video is of some of the display, although I didn't have the musical accompaniment, but there is also a video of fireworks going wrong, which I would have watched only it crashed Firefox.) I certainly heard it, and could see the higher bangs over the tops of the hills, but mostly I saw the glow. And smelt gunpowder. Lots of gunpowder. (Which probably wasn't from that display as there were others nearby also setting off fireworks.)
I don't think we do need the whole hog of banning fireworks, but there should be some way to make them safer. (Either that, or all stay inside with some nice, safe videogames.)
Tuesday, 6 November 2007
An Auckland "psychic" who claims to heal sex abuse victims is accused of lacing his consultations with sexual remarks, telling women how attracted he is to them and making derogatory and inaccurate "predictions".
I have to say I like to liberal use of quote marks. Unlike liking this guy who puts on extremely dubious moves on his clients. However, he's not completely stupid.
Former New Zealand Women's Golf Champion Kaye Maxwell said Clarke had always been above board in his dealings with her.
She had been so impressed with him she had invited the healer to her golf retreat to help clients be free of tension for their golf swing. She said she "couldn't believe" what she was now hearing.
Yep, don't hit on those who can get your into their golf clubs.
But later on the reporters speak to Patrick Fahy of the New Zealand Charter of Heath Practioners.
"People who practise psychic healing and aren't members of any particular register don't adhere to any code of ethics until such time as something goes wrong," Fahy said. "Some people have real psychic ability, but there are some whose practises are possibly questionable. It's quite a lucrative type business for some of these people."
First, let me correct that initial quote: "People who practise psychic healing ... don't adhere to any code of ethics."
Second... "real psychic ability"? Let me point out that there is $US1 Million just waiting for someone psychic to step up and prove it. Unless they're too busy, or "don't need to money" or any of a dozen other excuses offered to not actually challenge their "abilities". Go on, Patrick, let's see some of your "psychics" face up.
Yes, it is possible to test people for these abilities, and people who claim to have them should be tested. However, being "psychic" allows you to get away with anything, sexual advances in this case, although I suspect he would be a jackass even if he wasn't "psychic".
[END] Read more!
Monday, 5 November 2007
I worry about odd things at times, and at this time of the year there is something in particular I worry about.
I live in a fairly densely housed area, with lots of families with kids around. Families with kids that like to set off fireworks. Fireworks that shoot into the air and explode, and are carried about on the wind. And it is rather windy in Wellington.
And I live in a wooden house.
Now, the odds of a work of fire landing on said house and causing a problem are small, but there are a lot of fireworks going off, and small times many means that I worry. There is a reason the fire service is extra alert this time of year...
Sunday, 4 November 2007
Spore is a new computer game coming out...some time that is basically SimLife. You start with a one celled creature, have it move around and reproduce, at which point you can modify it, and have the new creature live, and eventually progress to multi-cellular, complex life forms, then to civilisations, etc...
There is a full demonstration on YouTube, but check out this demonstration of how to use the creature editor with a very special guest star.
Saturday, 3 November 2007
Friday, 2 November 2007
So we now know what I haven't seen/read, but what have I?
List of five movies (rules are: they are as they come to memory, I have to own them on DVD, and I have to have watched them more than once. And I won't mention the obvious Serenity):
House on Haunted Hill
Men in Black
Live of five authors (rather than individual books, I'll list authors as they've written series of books that I love. And the rules here are that I have to own multiple books, and have read most of them more than once - which knocks out Stephen Jay Gould as I haven't gotten around to second reads yet):
Each item could be a blog post on their own... but not right this minute. I'm not claiming these movies/authors will change the way you live your life, but I enjoy them.
Thursday, 1 November 2007
(Continuing this week's emergent theme of me against popular culture.)
There are lots of "great" movies I've never seen: Lawrence of Arabia, Metropolis (the 1927 movie) or Goodfellas, for example. Similarly, there are lots of "great" books I've never read: War and Peace, Slaughter House 5 or The Catcher in the Rye, for more examples.
Does this make me culturally ignorant? Possibly. But there are a few arguments I'd like to make:
Argument from popularity: just because a lot of people believe something, doesn't make that something true. So lots of people liked The Great Gatsby (another one I haven't read), does that make this book good or just show that people have defective tastes?
Only the known can be good: Now, I read a lot of Doctor Who novels (*shock*, no, really?). Fine, I doubt they'll ever make the top 100 classic novels of all time, but... I can't judge that. And the people who are the ones who would judge that (and why should we listen to them? - argument from authority) probably will never read a Doctor Who novel, so these books so unjudged. Maybe Camera Obscura is the highest example of literature ever, but so many people will never know because it's just a Doctor Who novel.
I may not read what literature classes are based on, nor watch films that are taught as the best examples of all time, but I enjoy what I do read and watch. Maybe I would like that other stuff, and maybe that will raise my "cultural recognition", but I've got enough to be going on with in the areas I am interested in.
(Okay, not entirely sure of what point I'm making, but whatever it is, consider it made, unless I wasn't making any point at all.)