Friday, 14 October 2011

Holographic crap.

When I was at The Gadget Show Live this April I saw these holographic bracelets for sale that were supposed to improve balance, stamina, brainpower, disease resistance, sexual performance, fashion sense and comic timing. Well, I call bullshit and have sent out emails to various companies selling these products asking to get a free sample for clinical trial. I'm sure they wont, but I've slightly lied and said I was working for a university. And sent it from an uni address. I've also made other promises but I still bet they wont accept anyways. Maybe I can buy a few then send them back when they inevitably don't work under the Sale of Goods act?

I'm trying to be unbiased here, actually no I'm not but I promise rigorous and unbiased tests at least.

Watch this space.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Nope, we do.

Trust me, we do.

I've actually been reading around this subject a lot lately. The Escapist Forums (of all places) linked me to this article. Now, I'm not going to do a point-by-point rebuttal (yet anyway) but I would like to address some of the more glaring lies and misunderstandings.

The Big Bang
Many scientist/evolutionists believe in a Big Bang Theory, which says all of the matter present in the universe today was once in a plasma ball of electrons, photons, positrons, and neutrinos (no explanation is given about how it got there). Scientists say that 15 billion years ago this huge cosmic ball exploded. Living-matter was somehow formed. This matter developed the ability to see, hear, and smell, and eventually grew arms and legs (although at first they were fins). And after millions of years of evolution here we are. Here we are, with our three-pound brain composed of twelve billion neurons, which make 120 trillion various connections [Gish, pg 4]. That is like saying a bomb exploded in a junkyard, and put together a running automobile.

Firstly, ALL of the scientific evidence (including, but not limited to, the Doppler shift measured between galaxies, cosmic background radiation, measured chemical abundances etc) points towards the Big Bang 'theory' being the best explanation that we can come up with to explain the creation of the observable universe. Give me ONE piece of evidence that it was God that created the universe. Hint - something that disproves the big bang or states a problem with it (there are a few) does not inherently prove creationism. I'm not asking for a list of failings in the big bang theory, that I could get from Wikipedia, I'm asking for evidence that it was God.

Secondly, no, no explanation is given of how the big bang 'got there' (by which we can assume the author means 'happened'). This is because when science can not explain something, it does not make something up. Asking what happened before the big bang (how it 'got there') is exactly analogous to asking what happened before God. Ether way, you have to assume that either something has always existed or that something was created out of nothing. Everything from "living matter formed............" and onwards is to do with evolution and not the big bang, so we'll deal with that next.

Macro-evolution vs. Micro-evolution
Just what do I mean when I talk about evolution? There are two forms of evolution - Macro-evolution and Micro-evolution. Micro-evolution isn't what the creationists' object to, in fact they believe in it. It's Macro-evolution they don't believe in. Micro-evolution is a variation within a species. An example of Micro-evolution would be giraffes evolving from having short necks into giraffes having long necks. The giraffes with long necks are able to survive and reproduce because they can reach more food, but the giraffes with short necks die off. Macro-evolution, on the other hand, is one distinct species turning into another distinct species (e.g. reptiles turning into birds, fish into amphibians, or apes into men, etc...). In this book, when I refer to "evolution," I mean Macro-evolution.

No! There aren't! There is only evolution! If you insist on splitting it, then it follows that micro-evolution leads to macro-evolution. What happens when giraffes grow longer necks? Does this lead to a split in the population? Say the giraffes with longer necks can move to where the trees are taller. Great, but they leave the small ones behind. Over time, this geographical divide puts different pressures on the two populations, maybe they are hunted by different animals. One group has selective pressures put on it to be faster as it's hunted by a chasing predator and the other doesn't. Eventually, different pressures WILL result in speciation.

Giraffes are frankly a bad example. The standard example of speciation given to every schoolchild is the Peppered Moth. Basically, there are two types, the lightly-coloured one and the dark-coloured one. Pollution during the industrial revolution turned everything black and sooty, causing the darker ones to better camouflaged and the lighter ones to stand out. Eventually the black one, which used to make up 2% of the population, became the dominant type, with over 95% of the species dark by 1895.

Now, I'm sure you'll tell me this is just 'micro-evolution' but follow this through to it's logical conclusion. What do you think would happen to the two populations over millions of years? Would they diverge further, maybe the lighter or darker moths moving to different trees? What about if lighter variant decided to be active during the day and the darker at night? Eventually, they'd diverge enough to be a separate species due to different pressures, random mutations and genetic drift.

Fact or Theory
Many people believe that evolution is a scientifically proven fact, and that creation is only a theory (not even a credible theory because it is only posed by a bunch of right wing Christian fanatics). This is simply not true. Evolution is not a proven fact, and certainly not a scientifically proven fact. The scientific approach for examining facts and determining truth is done in five steps. 1st) An observation is made. 2nd) A hypothesis is formed. 3rd) Data is gathered. 4th) The hypothesis is tested in light of the data, and 5th) if the hypothesis passes the test, it becomes a theory. However, new data is constantly being discovered and the hypothesis re-tested. This data either supports the theory or disproves it, but never proves the theory as a fact (for future data could be gathered which disproves it). If there is no way of testing or falsifying the hypothesis, the theory isn't accepted by the scientific community. George Galord Simpson, a notable scientist himself, has said, "It is inherent that statements which cannot be checked by observation are not really about anything, or at the very least they are not science." (Gish 1985: 12). Usually the event in question is repeated, and these five steps are used to determine its truthfulness. Events in history cannot be repeated, so they cannot be verified by the scientific method. This alone indicates that the theory of evolution, far from being a fact, is not even a valid scientific theory. The question that needs to be answered is: "Does the majority of evidence support creation, or evolution?" Hundreds of scientists and college professors have had to admit that they could be wrong about thinking that evolution is a fact [Sunderland, pg 8].

Events in history can in fact be repeated. Evolution can be seen in almost every species throughout the entire fossil record. It's literally happening all the time throughout history. I'm hesitant to say it's been repeated millions of times because that implies it's a series of events rather than a continual process, but you can see it's effects millions of times. Very repeatable. Also, can we clear up this 'theories aren't fact' business. A scientific theory is basically a fact, especially one as well-proven as evolution. Unlike the religious, science is willing to consider the possibility that it's wrong, and that's why everything is 'just a theory'.

The Earth: How Did it Happen
The evolutionist theory says that the earth is billions of years old and we are the product of evolution, but the creationist theory says, "In the beginning God created...." The Bible says that this creation happened in 6 days. It is impossible for both of these theories to be true, so evidence refuting one must support the other and vice versa [Morris, Many pg 9]. As we shall see in a moment, there is a lot of evidence refuting evolution, and supporting creation.

Underlining mine. Nope. That's like saying "those lights in the sky couldn't have been helicopters, so they have to be alien spaceships!". Well yeah, except they could have been planes, comets, ball lightening, searchlights on a cloud, anything. It's absurd and extremely arrogant to think that the only 2 things your puny human mind can come up with are the only two possible outcomes. Would you accept that the massive body of evidence for evolution refutes creationism?

There is a lot in the next few bits of the article that deal with the archeology, geology and the like. Whilst I'm sure experts in those fields could argue a pretty mean case as to why the article is wrong, I am not an expert in those fields, nor am I even casually familiar as I am with biology so I shan't comment if I don't know the facts.

Miscellaneous Things Supporting Creation
There is a lot of evidence supporting creation. According to the theory of natural selection which the evolutionists cling to, everything that evolves must have a purpose or it would not have evolved in the first place (random chance produces a characteristic, but survival of the fittest ensures its existence). Thus, they can't explain the hidden beauty that many life forms exhibit, like the inside of a sea shell.

No, we just see that beauty as being accidental. Sunsets are beautiful, but the fact that the light works in such a way isn't purposeful.
Supposedly life evolved from non-living matter, to living matter, to one-celled creatures, to fish, to amphibians, to reptiles, and finally to mammals; so evolutionists can't explain the origin of whales or dolphins (mammals that live in the sea).

For once, Yes. Yes as in 'Yes we can'.

If the earth rotated at a 1/10 slower speed, the days would be so hot that all life would be burned to a crisp. If the earth's crust was any thicker, it would absorb more oxygen, and leave only carbon dioxide, thus preventing life. If the earth had only a two degree higher average temperature, all the glaciers would melt, thus submerging the globe. Hurricanes are created when very cold air meets very hot air; so if the earth wasn't tilted on its axis, it would be so cold at the poles and so hot in the center that hurricanes would rip across the globe preventing life of any kind. The probability of life just coming into existence has been calculated at (using generous figures) one chance in ten to the 280th power [Morris Scientific pg 63].

Right. So? It's pretty lucky that life can form here. That's precisely why you wrote this argument on Earth and not on Mars. That's the equivalent of someone who was born on Christmas Island trying to argue that his birth there was a miracle. Just because only 0.00002% of the world's population is from there doesn't mean it's impossible to be from there. You may be lucky, special even, a fluke, an anomaly, but it does happen.

If we evolved from a one-celled creature, why or how did some of us evolve into the male sex and some into the female sex? If evolution were true, there would be such a blending together of life-forms you couldn't tell the dogs from the cats due to all the cogs and dats running around.

That's not even half-true. Sexual reproduction (males and females) supports the evolutionary theory, by giving a species a wider range of possible 'combinations' to choose from, essentially increasing the chances of that species surviving by varying it's members. The same goes for your 'dogs and cats' argument. Different species SUPPORT evolution, as they have all evolved separately to fill a niche and they can't interbreed.


Monday, 28 March 2011

An addendum to my addendum

I have previously mentioned my main desktop rig on here several times because, lets face it, you're not here to talk about fashion no matter how stylish I am.

My Antec 300 is a great case but it's just too noisy to sleep next to (great spponer though) and the cable management isn't great. It was fine until I got a GPU that needed a separate power cable or two but once they were installed it really got ugly, and I don't mean my photography skills.

But they're hideous too.

I have been drooling over the Fractal Design XL since before it was released. Actually, I've been drooling over that, the Cooler Master ATCS 840 and the Corsair 700D for months, and very recently the Caselabs M8, but the Fractal was the best. Don't get me wrong, it's by far the worst case there in many ways but it's almost as though someone designed a case for me.

The design is right up my alley, I hate hate hate when cases (or anything) are tailored towards the typical lan-party geek. Lights, pointy bits and massive mesh panels need to grow up. Now my friend The Captain, whose opinion on computers I respect the most, has an NZXT Phantom in white. Many of my friends ARE the typical lan-party geeks and that's all fine, I'm not being nasty, it's just not my scene. 

Secondly, the 10 HDD bays means that I can start to consolidate all of my existing data into one manageable, monthly repayment pc to make everything easier. This is particularly relevant to my server as my desktop is usually on anyway. Now my desktop IS my server.

It's geared towards silence and largely is silent. Also, the cable management is top-notch.

So I bought one, a titanium grey one. I moved the 140mm fan on the back to the front so both 140mm bays are now full of Fractal fans. That 120/140mm hole was filled with a Sharkoon Silent Eagle 2000 fan. I also put one of my Sharkoon Silent Eagle SE fans (set to minimum) in the top 120mm bay, pointing right at my CPU. The back Sharkoon and the 2x140mm fans are on the supplied fan controller. I'd have liked the front 120mm fan on the controller as it is pointing right at the CPU (and the Fractal fans are wasted on the controller as they're so quiet anyway) but the fan power plugs didn't match up. Maybe I'll get some adapters and rejig stuff in the future. The only source of noise in the case is the high-speed Sharkoon exhaust which I added, of course even that is silent when on minimum speed.


I have to say it's a brilliant case all round. The build was soooooooooo easy, the quietness is as-advertised and there's so much room in there it's not even funny. You can read a dozen proper reviews elsewhere so don't expect me to try and compete, but if you're looking for a case and have similar needs to me then it certainly gets my vote.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

I feel famous. (Reprise)

 This post is an addendum to my previous entry, which can be found here.

This time we got an 11+ minute response which can be found here.

In the interest of fair play, I'm fairly sure that I'm done with this 'debate'. I do however reserve the right to change my mind on this based on my future levels of boredom and mischievousness. 
I really get the feeling that my blog post has been misunderstood. The bulleted list wasn't a list of points that I was making, they were list of errors I had found in sonicsoul0's videos. Take the comment about cpu architecture. In the bit-tech response video he made a haphazard comment that games and applications rely of cpu architecture. I was actually dumb enough to go find it. At around 5:20 in this video. We get "games, windows applications, rely on a lot of cpu architecture as well, so they're not just gpu-intensive you got that wrong."

Now, I understand what I think he was trying to get at. In general, a smaller, newer, chip will do more 'clock for clock' (per Hz) than an older one. But honestly, does that quote make sense? If we replace 'architecture' with 'power' (as in processing power) then we're doing ok. This is but one example of the misuse of technical terminology that I talked about. It's also a fairly easily mistake to make in a conversation with someone, but not on camera. This was a response video to a forum that had criticised him for, amongst other things, having terrible public speaking skills. You'd just make sure you'd get something like that right.

I am being awfully pedantic yes, but this is endemic within the videos and just lower the quality further than the content, unpreparedness and stuttering speech do.

I do rather get the impression that sonicsoul0 is enjoying the waves he is making though. Thriving on the attention that becoming somewhat of a net celebrity and enjoying the ire that he is drawing. I'm always up for a rational, sensible debate but now we're getting into insults and mudslinging. For these two reasons, as well as my sanity, I'm out.

I'll leave you with one of the wonderful works of Mr. Randall Munroe, who as ever said it better than I ever could.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

I feel famous.

Sorry about all the links. - Jack

I'm a member of the forums on a frankly wonderful computing site called Bit-tech. I'm not really one of the regulars and don't post too often, in fact I mainly go to learn. I can be found under the handle 'ShakeyJake' if anyone's even remotely interested. I found this thread about youtube user sonicsoul0 who is a self-professed pc knowledge bank and general pontificator. Fine, great. Except he does seem to get a lot of it very wrong indeed. 

Watching his videos remind me of when someone has read a paper on a subject and then decided they know everything there is to know on that subject. You see it all the time, actually. Musicians often understand that an amp with more power will be louder, but many take this tidbit and run with it. The amount of times I've seen something like "this is a very loud 300W amp, more like 350W" or, "tube watts are louder than solid-state watts". Don't even get me started on certain sized speakers having certain tonal characteristics or especially 'audiophile' cables. These people took the £4.99 class instead of the £9.99 one and sadly missed most of the details. Unfortunately that's where the devil is.

It happens with pcs too. People on Ebay or in PC World will be attracted to pcs that have '8GB RAM' or an '850W PSU' because 'more is better', right? As we all know though, these people inevitably end up with cheap, noisy power supplies and generic-branded RAM that would underperform a good 4GB kit. This is always to be found in it's natural habitat: a cheap plastic case that makes a ton of noise and keeps everything inside nice and toasty.

Back to out friend sonicsoul0. He is not guilty of such a frankly newbish point of view, he does however make the same mistakes on a more technical level. A brief romp through his videos will lead to such gems as: 

  • 16x/16x (talking about PCI lanes here) will yield better performance (not specifically stated but I assume compared to the more common 8x/8x)
  • video games are heavy rendering
  • games/applications rely on cpu 'architecture'
  • (folding@home) is number grinding and not really useful for applications
  • the (ATI) 5970 does not have 'proper' architecture
  • there are only 2 dual-gpu cards

Ok, ok, I lied. Those were all from one video. But, at the time of this writing the guy has 100, so go check them out yourself. On one of his videos I posted a comment along the lines of 'Don't people usually write a script before they press record? Or even do any research on the topic they're talking about?' Actually, that's exactly what I wrote because even though he has disabled comments he handily repeats my comments at the beginning of this response video aimed solely at me. I've never felt so loved. If I couldn't have used my facebook account to sign in to youtube I wouldn't have even had a platform from whence to launch my scathing broadside. 

I'm now faced with a dilemma. If you're sonicsoul0 and you're reading this then please understand I was merely mocking your camera presence and articulation. And your computer knowledge. I wouldn't even care if you were misinformed quietly but you have a youtube channel from which to spout nonsense and it annoys me that some people might actually spend hundreds if not thousands of pounds based on your recommendations. On the other hand though, they're free to do whatever they like, as are you. And if our hypothetical consumer spends loads of money based on a youtube video then they deserve what they get.

I know you study computing science but I have two problems with that term. The first is the 'computing' and the second is the 'science' part. Now, I spent three years working in student recruitment for a large red-brick uni in the UK and as a result I probably know things about your course (or at least, the way it works) that you don't. But it doesn't take someone with any uni experience at all to go to your course's uni page and see that the 3-year BSc contains but a single module based on pc hardware. So please lets DO compare research. Secondly, if you were a scientist you'd quote sources and therefore that's what I'm about to do. 

Your main gaffe seems to be that, in your opinion, a multi-cored cpu will massively outperform a quad in gaming performance. In response, I assert that the vast majority of games are wasted on anything more than 4 cores. (I, II, III) Now I'm not denying that the 980x (which you rightly love) isn't a monster performer, but sadly it's usually bested by the 2600k and even sometimes the 2500k in games. (I, II

Moreover, you general manner as well as the misused and seemingly misunderstood pc terminology in your videos creates the general ambiance that you don't really know what you're talking about. See the bulleted list above for examples from but 1% of your video catalog. I have also heard 'use an adblocker and you wont need an antivirus' (which is dangerous as well as wrong) and  'this is what you wanna look for in a monitor, the 5 million to one contrast ratio'. First of all, I can't find that monitor (though I'm sure it exists) and secondly, why is the contrast ratio so important?

Lastly, I'd hope you don't write a script when talking to your friends. But you're not, you're on camera, to the WORLD. Stop swaying, learn your lines and enunciate man. I do public speaking, in an educational setting, it's my job. I know that winging it and improvising works well, but it's really not working out so well for you.

Really lastly. Who is 'sweshdj'? If he doesn't like you then he's likely another bit-techer but I can't see his comment anymore. I can't speak for anyone else, but I really wasn't trying to start a flame war. There is a decent being inside of me, he just doesn't own a webcam. I honestly can't say I'm that thrilled but I will in fact take you up on your offer to 'talk technology'. In fact, I think I just did.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Posh and Posher: Why Public School Boys Run Britain

I'm very well aware that I haven't posted anything in a while, and I just don't care. :-)

But, I'm watching a program presented by Andrew Neil that is really grinding my goat and I couldn't resist. If the program was to be summed up in a phrase it's simply: "The country is run by a political elite, and that's not the way it should be or the way it has always been."

And I agree with all of that, fine. 10% of the current cabinet went to Eton, and 66% were privately educated (compared to ~8% countrywide). But why? Well, Andrew Neil makes the point that people from a state-educated background simply don't have the chance. And he may even be on to something but he fails to back up his point other than simply saying 'networking'. 

Regardless of what the point is, it's a fact that the vast majority of the 'big 3' party members are Oxbridge educated and privately schooled. That's definitely not right, at all. Not on any kind of left-wing bent about social mobility or anything, but simply because that means that they're going to have similar thought-patterns, ways of dealing with situations and even political views. And to think people are whining that they're all the same party. 

But I simply refuse to believe that it would be impossible for me or you to make it in politics today. Harder? Almost certainly, but not impossible. Neil makes the argument that the meritocracy is dead, I say bull. Trade unions, political party conferences and, most importantly, OTHER POLITICAL PARTIES THAT ACTUALLY REPRESENT WORKING CLASS PEOPLE, would all love to have you, not based on who you know or which school you went to, but how good you are. 

Not that I agree with the socialists, the greens or especially the BNP, but they are the parties that represent the working class, maybe they're the ones me and you should be talking to.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Pump up the bass

A very nice man on bit-tech asked me about my band today and it dawned on me that I no longer maintain a band website. Criminal. On that note, what follows is a very e-peeny showcase of my basses, just because I can. And because, deep down, you know bassists are cool. That's what all the girls say. Once most of them have left with the singer, guitarists and drummer.

My main axe when I'm trying to be sophisticated is a Musicman Stingray 5. I love the Stingray sound, with new strings they growl like angry bears. They're just the sound I hear in my head when I think of how I want to sound. 'Course, my amp might have something to do with that. As far as playability is concerned, the balance and the unfinished, deep neck mean that things are effortless on this bass that would have your fingers falling over each other and your hand aching on some other basses. I'm looking at you, Gibson.

Make:  Ernie Ball Musicman
Model: Stingray 5
Year: 2005
Colour: Honeyburst
Strings: Ernie Ball Super Slinkys 40 60 75 95 125 

My main gigging bass is a Fender Precision. This was the first 'good' bass I bought and it rocks out like no other. Pick, low strap and a little bit of dirt in the sound and it just sings. As such, she is very much set up to be a rock bass. Lower action and thicker, more aggressive strings. It's a bit more worn than it was when this photo was taken as it's had a bit of a hard life. I should be more careful with whom I lend it to and where I put it down. You'll notice another all-maple neck, I just cant stand the feel of a fingerboard. 

Make:  Fender
Model: M.I.A. Precision
Year: 2003
Colour: Chrome Red
Strings: La Bella Deep Talkin' Rounds 44 61 85 110

I still have my first bass, though it doesn't get used all that much these days. A Squire Precision. La Bella Deep Talkin' strings on here too. It's really nice to have two basses so similar. Firstly, I always have a backup. Secondly, whenever people question why I spend so much on basses (they aren't much too other musicians, but to a layman I think the cost sound quite high) I can give them a P copy and a 'real' P to play, which proves my point pretty well! 

Actually, this picture is about the only half-decent one I have of my amp, so you're getting another Squire shot:

Gallien-Krueger 1001-RB II. GK Neo 1x12", GK Neo 2x12". That's a small head and small cab for either very small gigs or gigs where the PA is doing most of the work and I only need a little stage volume. Or there's the 2x12" for when I need more stage volume. And a Laney R1 practice amp, which I simply love.

And thus concludes our tour.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Housekeeping 10/08/2010

What up?

So, y'all up for general updates, twitter-style, 'cos I haven't written a post for ages? 

Since speaking last, I have:

  • Graduated (Please, call me Jack Elliott BSc)
  • Gone on holiday
  • Done 3 summer schools with the uni
  • Moved house
  • Started claiming Jobseeker's Allowance (exactly where  I thought my degree would get me)
  • Bought more pc parts (the relevant blog posts have been changed)
  • Spent what time I haven't spent doing those things either looking for a house, a job or playing Starcraft 2.

Good night.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

An apology

Quick one today:

When I wrote my last entry, entitled 'Chess is so 15th Century', I was both a) drunk and b) typing on a netbook.
These two factors combined to produce a worse-than-usual post in terms of spelling, formatting and grammar. Sorry.

In other news, I did not buy a GTX260. :-(  I bought a GTX280!

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Chess is so 15th Century.

Well now hasn't this been forever? Seems like between my exams, my end-of-uni-forever parties and my general incompetence and laziness I have neglected this blog and, ashamedly, both of it's readers. For that I apologise. But rather than say anything else, hows about we just pretend like nothing ever happened and instead concentrates on me. 'Cos if you fancied hearing about somebody else's life you would be on their blog.

Conundrum: I wanna buy a graphics card. Technically, I want a powerful, gaming GPU. But this bothers me.

I don't much care for video games. I live with 5 video games design students and I'm bombarded by computer games all day and every night. The closest thing this flat gets to a social event is us all playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 as a clan on Xbox Live. (In other news, I bought a 360)

Now this game, despite what you may have read, is actually awful. I'm not easily offended and I will defend video games to the hilt. To the point where I actually wrote in to complain about the Alan Titchmarsh show featuring a 'debate' on video games. But the game just plain sucks. If I have to sit through one more stupid campaign which is the same as every other campaign ever (and fooshin' IDENTICAL to Bad Company 2). The weapons are samey and so are the characters. A lot of people think it's wrong to criticise something for being unoriginal but I disagree. Replace the ruskies with aliens and the P90 with a MA5B and it's Halo. First-Person Shooters hold no interest for me.

Strategy games though. Oh, the hours spent building whole cities of bases, setting up infrastructures, intricate defences, micro-managing resource gatherers. Now there's a game. Any ape can drag their knuckles down generic alley #1, shoot generic gun #37 and kill generic henchman of evil #456 but not many gamers these days have the patience for a good RTS. This all started when we began playing Warcraft 3 Frozen Throne in our flat. Not the game proper, but the tower defence maps. That's some good fun. There is only 1 good RTS for a console, and Halo Wars was designed for a console, it's slimmed-down, easy to use and it works very well on a 360 it has to be said.

I am ancient enough to have bought Morrowind for my PC. Oblivion never felt the same on the 360. I bet you Fallout 3 is better on the PC than the 360 too.  These games are 100 times more involved than CoD, and this is why I want to get into PC gaming, I think there is more scope and more depth to be had on the pc than on a console. There are also some PC-only titles I quite fancy. Theme Hospital, Theme Park World and Dungeon Keeper are three of my favourite games of all time, not that these titles stretch my current card in the slightest, never mind an upgrade. The new Command and Conquer looks good though, as does Diablo 3.

I don't want to be a pc gamer though. Not just for the reasons mentioned above, but because pc gamers are obnoxious. They blame consoles for holding video games back and many of them prioritise graphics over everything else. Now there are some VERY pretty games out there but let's be honest, only 1 game has ever been remembered for being pretty, and Crysis isn't usually talked about favourably. I wish developers would concentrate on something else for once, I don;t really care if a game looks as good as Metro 2033, I want the story of Half-Life, the suspense of the early Resident Evils, the humour of anything that Bullfrog have ever done, the incredible attention to detail of Homeworld 2. NONE of these games had cutting-edge graphics, but they are some of the best games on the planet in my opinion. Before anyone says anything, I will concede (if that's the right word here) that Homeworld 2 is undeniably beautiful. It's the Susan Coffey of the gaming world. Extremely, enticing sexy yet grown-up and classically pretty enough that your parents would approve. But it didn't require high-end hardware, my integrated 6600 played it fine, at the time. It also scaled back extremely well. Though why exactly this was so never really made much sense to me. What were you people playing it on, a NES?
Consoles are easier, fact. I can buy ANY game for my newly-acquired 360 or any other console I own. OK, you got me, the only consoles I own are a 360 (with one game and no controller), a SNES and a classic GameBoy. But any game will work, perfectly. I do not need to worry whether a part of my system can handle a given game, I just buy it and put it in. No so with a PC. My 9500GT is a fantastic card. It runs two big screens extremely well and decodes H.264 on the fly. Totally passive too, so completely silent. But it won't run any games. My awesome pc with a weakling GPU is like having a Gallardo with a Fiesta engine. It's an awesome card, just not a gaming card.

So now the long and short of it is that I'm looking to buy a GTX260. With a bit of luck, this should be able to handle most games at decent settings and framerates. Oh my god, I'm beginning to care about those things. Wish me and my wallet luck.

The best games in the world according to Jack:

1. Pokemon Blue (Gameboy)
Just the best game on the planet. Infinite scope, tactics, trading with friends, replayability for years and years. I remember the day that this arrived in the post and I haven't been able to put it down since. I'm waiting for a proper remake. Red and Yellow belong in 1.1th place.

2. Super Mario World (Super Nintendo Entertainment System (oh yeah, full names tonight!))
If you asked me to describe the perfect game I would say I wanted something incessantly fun, something my mates would think was cool but that my mam could also play. I'd ask for a big game with lots to do, a straightforward campaign but challenges beyond that for the advanced player. I'd ask for a mind-blowing and memorable soundtrack and I'd ask for game that I would still want to play over 18 years after first discovering it. I'd ask for Super Mario World.

3+4. Theme Hospital + Theme Park World (PC)
Couldn't choose between these. Never could. Bullfrog have never made a bad game but these two really stand out. I could wax lyrical all day about the ultra-easy beginnings and the ultra-hard endings, the micro-managing of employees and the funniest games ever made. But all you need to know is that these games will make you smile more than any others. And isn't that why we play games anyway?

5. Homeworld 2 (PC)
Star Trek was boring because there were never any kickass battles. Put all of that right with what I still probably the most stunning game ever made. Hyperspace a Hiigaran Battlecrusier into the middle of an Vagyr fleet and revel in the awesomenitude.

6. Mario Kart: Double Dash! (Gamecube)
Gamecube, Mario Kart, Alcohol, Friends. I admit that the N64 version was better as a game (not to mention my first Mario Kart, I missed the SNES) and the Wii version was better in many technical aspects. But Double Dash is the one I played as late-teen, getting drunk in Paul Phillips' house, swearing and screaming, spilling Jack Daniels and coke all over his big brother's console. It's my Mario Kart

7. KKnD2: Krossfire (PC)
Hilarity, destruction, and the movie where the Juggernaut commander squishes an Evolved trooper, that's quite hilarious. Oh, don't forget the Kamikaze troops either. Did I mention the hilarity?

8. Age Of Empires 2 (PC)
I like strategy games, so I love AofE2. I still get goosebumps whenever I seal of my base with an all-encompassing wall or build a huge navy to have total dominance over the waters.#

9. Star Wars: Republic Commando (Xbox)
I do not like first-person shooters. That said, I adore this game. It's well-thought out. The campaign is the feature, not the multiplayer afterthought. The squad moves fantastically, the 'stack up' in front of a door still makes me weak at the knees and thr game looks gorgeous. The thought that went into the game, things like the windscreen wiper for your HUD and the atmospheric sounds of creatures really boggle the mind. But the best bit about this game are the Deltas themselves. The acting, dialogue and movement are all spot-on, you believe these guys really are bond brothers who have been to hell and back together. Except Sev, he just went.

10. F-Zero (SNES)
This was a 3D (ish) racing game. It was released when I was 1 year old. It is fantastic and has the best video game soundtrack ever devised. It's so beautiful to watch, play and most of all listen to that I just want to lick it, caress it and dribble it into my ears at the same time.

11. Twisted Metal III (Playstation)
Cool cars, kick-ass weapons, arcade-style play and some mean bosses. What's not to love? I named my Mewtwo 'Primevil' after the boss from TM3.

12. Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2 (PC)
Classic. Not pretty like Homeworld and not devil-in-the-details like AofE. But brilliant. That mission where the Navy shows up and starts destroying the enemy buildings around your spy is just as cool today as when I first saw it.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Teletubbie Bye-Bye

Ever since I moved out of my parent's house, my little brother has taken in moving into my room. Especially as my (rather lovely) desk is there all empty and ripe for him to fill it with Microsoft rubbish and practice his mad xb0x1ng ski11z.

Deciding that I could a) free up some space in my flat. b) win favour with the 'rents. and c) have something to do uni work facebook on when I went home. I have gifted (how American) my server to my parent's house. It got a fresh install of Windows 7 ultimate 64-bit (which, as much as I hate Windows, is bloody awesome). So now he can do his homework, play CounterStrike: Source(my fault, that one is) and watch movies in my room. My mam also has a pc to use at long last as there isn't really a family one. My dad has his, as does my other brother. The invading brother (let's call him George, that is after all his name) has an ancient laptop that struggles through Vista. Needless to say everybody is over the moon with our little arrangement and all it cost was the £11.99 (after a McDonald's voucher) for a Trust keyboard/mouse set from


In other news, my summer is ridiculously busy! And I have an interview for a I want, nay need, on Wednesday. Wish me luck, internetz.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

All change please, all change.

As is probably the way when  somebody leaves university, I sense a lot of changes on the horizon. I have applied for a job for a start. Not like a crappy job, but a proper one. One with a salary and hours and a desk. It's at the uni at it's pretty much what I'm doing now except with a bit more organisational stuff. Good money too.

I have quit my old job, so I'm now just working as a student ambassador, I'm no longer at the electronics shop that shall not be named, which is always good. I am also now single, and I'm wondering what a new woman will bring to my life, if and when this happens.

Presuming I graduate but don't get a job, I have been offered the opportunity to go to Japan to teach English in a secondary school there. I have to move house soon, and I'm either living with a guy from my course or just by myself (depending on finances) but not with my current flatmates.

Many many changes, all of which are pretty brilliant.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

HAL9000: An addendum.

Just a quick little note with regards to the solution to problem I've been having. I have an MSI 770-C45 motherboard in my main pc and it's a fantastic bit of kit. But one of the things that has always annoyed me is that it, like most other AM3 boards, only allows the far two memory slots because the near two are blocked by any kind of third-party cooler. This was especially annoying for me as I have Corsair Dominator memory which stands a full 50mm proud of the DIMM sockets.

I found the Zalman Flex cooler which is around as deep (front to back) as the cpu itself, measuring only 74mm. For around £30 you get just the cooler, but even an awesome 120mm PWM (I chose the Sharkoon Silent Eagle SE as I already have 2 in my pc) is around £10-15. Any 120mm will do. What attracted me to the Zalman was that, unlike any other high-end cooler I could find, it allows but doesn't require, a fan on either the front, back, or both.

Zalman recommend that if you're only using 1 fan it should go on the front, but I thought I'd try my luck mounting just a fan on the back pulling air through the heatsink. This means that there is no overhang on the memory side allowing you to use any memory in any of the sockets. There are a couple of reviews out there already so I'll spare you installation (painless) and the noise (depends on fan) issues but I will share my results using only one fan in the 'wrong' place because I can't find anyone else doing it.

 Mounted Zalman and Sharkoon with the 
standard Antec fans in the back and roof.

My case is an Antec 300 with 2 Sharkoon Silent Eagles SE in the front two fan spaces, both of these are set to 'ridiculously slow' airflow using the blue (4V??) cable. There are also the standard Antec Tricools in the back (120mm) and top (140mm) both set to slow. Processor is a stock speed AMD Phenom 955 and there is that third Sharkoon fan on the back of the heatsink pulling air through the fins and exhausting out to the rear Tricool. Nothing else in the case puts out much heat, there is a passive 9500GT, an SSD and a Green Drive. Basically, my PC likely creates less heat than yours, bear this in mind.

Having said that, ambient room temp is currently 21C. The cpu is idling at 34C and a 100% load stress test on all four cores for an hour leveled out at 54C, I did see 55C for few seconds in the middle too. Considering how quiet it is, and that it isn't really set up properly, I think a delta T of 13C (idle) and 34C (load) isn't that bad. These figures put it a degree or two better than the Titan Fenrir at idle (not that I've ever used one, I'm nicking those bit-tech's review on the overclocked AM2 cpu) and the Fenrir blocks half the memory sockets.

Not a wonderfully in-depth review but I thought a few people must be in the same boat as me and I thought I'd share my experiences and a very successful experiment, this is an awesome piece of hardware, even when used incorrectly! I think a low-profile fan might fit on the front if anyone is interested.

As a result, guess who now has 8GB of RAM? :D

Monday, 15 March 2010

An Introspective

I graduate pretty soon. I have spent my entire time at university not enjoying myself and genuinely wishing that this day would come as soon as it possibly could. I didn't like uni, I could barely force myself to go in every day, it resulted in me being diagnosed with depression and being a general bastard to my friends, particularly my (now ex) girlfriend.

This is perilously close to turning into a livejournal post with me just feeling sorry for myself for a few hundred words but bear with me, I need to get this off my chest. The problem is that recently I've had somewhat of a revelation, an epiphany if you will. You see, I don't actually want to grow up.

Very soon, I will lose the opportunity to do various things forever: be in a society, dress up in fancy dress on a regular basis, be a summer school rep, get up at 4pm and think it 'early' and, as much as it pains me to admit it, never will I be surrounded by such cute and uninhibited women ever again.

The horrific part is that I never took any of these opportunities when I had them and now that I have merely a few weeks left at university I have no time to take any of them. I very much enjoyed my time with my long-term girlfriend and would not have changed any of it for anything, ever. Honestly. But part of me still wonders if I somehow 'missed out' by not spending my time at uni chasing young women up and down campus. God knows I have the rest of my life for long-term relationships.

I'm not doing particularly well academically this year, there's a real danger I might not pass some modules. This time last year I was awake at night being sick because of the worry over my exams and the possibility of failure but actually, I wouldn't mind failing at all this year. The prospect of being a university student, with the lifestyle and friends that I currently enjoy whilst only doing one or two modules is incredibly appealing. I could be in societies, write for the Courier, get involved with the volunteer's service and do all of the things that I missed out on doing over the past three years.

I have applied for what is practically my ideal job at the uni next year, and getting that would be a dream come true, not only would I have a job that I truly enjoyed, but I would be getting paid enough to start paying off my debts and, whilst I wouldn't still be a student, I would at least be at university. Hopefully that will allow me to pursue my interests and actually be productive.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

"Of course the shortcut isn't easy, if it was it would just be the way" Well this one is.

Despite having used Ubuntu for the past 3 years I have just discovered the coolest feature ever. I wanted to go to my /media folder and without thinking I just typed '/media' on the desktop, I hadn't bothered to open a terminal because I was talking and I wasn't paying attention. Low and behold Nautilus has popped up at my media file.

Turns out pressing '/' when on the desktop brings up an 'Open Location' dialog box. People have really put thought into the way you use a computer and made it as easy as possible, love it.

That horse hasn't been flogged enough!

After the unbearable tedium of my last post I thought I'd make today's short and sweet. Ignorance's old guitarist is involved in a Movement called Youth Fight For Jobs that strives to get, amongst other things, a decent working wage for everyone.

It's something the whole ex-band believes in an we've worked to promote in the past. They are having a fund-raiser/profile-raising event on the 11th March in Trillians Rock Bar in Newcastle and  . . . . . . . . . 

Ignorance is the opening act.

How cool is that? It's our first gig in almost 3 years and no one is anywhere near ready. Cue a mad rush to rehearse and generally get assorted shit together. Awesome!

Rejected titles:

Jumping on the bandwagon
Reunion tour
Getting the band back together
Youth Fight For Rock 

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Going green.

I'm quite the hippy, you know? With that in mind I've been doing some energy calculations recently. My server runs at around 45W whilst seeding some torrents and basically idling, it's usual state. So, to run this thing 24/7 for a month would cost the princely sum of £3.72. Hardly a fortune.

My desktop tends to run around 80W with just the tower running. Adding the dual 22 monitors and the speakers can increase this to 300+ if the processor is digging in but usually even that is usually scaled back to 800MHz/core and as I type this (tower, two screens and listening to music) I'm reading ~130W. Assuming an average of 100W (bearing in mind whenever I leave the room the speakers and screen go off) and 10 hours a day usage this take us to £3.10 a month. To have the desktop running 24/7 for a month would cost £7.44, a not insubstantial sum.

But hold on, currently the server is on 24/7 and the desktop for 10 hours a day, totaling £6.82/month, which is only 62p less than just having the desktop on all of the time. That difference will get smaller when you assume that a greater proportion of the desktop's uptime will be with the screens and speakers off if it became the torrent mule, not to mention the reduced strain on me managing two separate pcs.

My point? Well there isn't one really, it's just I either write this or my bioremediation essay. But I guess you could say that computers don't cost much to run and don't hurt the planet. They will however, hurt your brain if you've actually made it through this blog post. Now if you don't mind I'm off to bed and I'm turning my server off, the desktop can torrent tonight. Far out.

Monday, 15 February 2010

I've been served

Stupid Western Digital. I have quite a nice server, usually. But my 1.5TB Caviar Green drive (an identical one to the storage drive in my desktop) has just failed. Which means I've had to send it away for a warranty replacement. Which means that the main drive in my server is a three year-old WD drive with a whopping capacity of 320GB. With the way my data storage works I didn't actually lose any data as everything that is on the server is on my desktop. (Although the system was designed so that if the desktop ever failed I would have a backup on the server, it's nice to know it works the other way around too!)

My server was going to be my desktop but when I put the Phenom 955 I bought into the Zotac motherboard that I bought I realised the cpu clock speed was stuck at 800MHz per core. After many angry emails with what is certainly the worst customer service team I have ever come across it became clear that, because Zotac falsely claimed that my motherboard supported my cpu when it actually didn't, I was left with a rather underpowered pc. The reason that I bought the Zotac board was that it was the only mini-ITX board that claimed to support that cpu, so swapping out the board for another simply wasn't an option. I was left with the choices of either buying another, much less powerful, cpu or another board in another form factor. That second option would also necessitate a new case and power supply as only the mini-ITX boards would fit in the Silverstone. Obviously I chose the second option (along with some DDR3 memory as it turned out) to build my desktop. The remaining case, power supply, motherboard and memory stayed behind and were joined by the CPU  from my old desktop. Thus, my mini-ITX server was born.

Case: Silverstone Sugo SG-05B (With it's original awesome, 80+ PSU)
Motherboard: Zotac 8200-C-E (Integrated GeForce 8200, wifi and lies)
Processor: AMD Athlon 64 X2 4600+ (2.4GHz, Dualcore)
Memory: 2GB Corsair ValueRAM (800MHz, DDR2)
Storage Drive: 1.5TB Western Digital Green (WD15EADS) (Although currently it's the 320GB drive as mentioned)
CPU Cooler: Scythe Shuriken

And the other bits:
Operating System: Ubuntu 9.04
Monitors: Samsung SM226BW
Keyboard/Mouse: Advent ADE-AD2

At least having it offline for a bit allowed me a chance to nab some photos.



Nominally the server is headless as all of the functions it performs are administered via the network. Having said that, it is connected to the VGA input on one of my monitors and there is a dongle for the wireless keyboard/mouse kit because sometimes it helps to actually use the machine. Why wouldn't I? It sits right beside my other pc in a cupboard in the desk so it's close enough to use the same monitors as the main machine. Switching between my pc an my server is as easy as pressing the 'source' button on my left hand monitor.

The original memory was 4GB of OCZ Platinum DDR2. When I bought the new system I decided that DDR3 was the way to go so I had no use for the nice DDR2 that I'd bought as it would be way overkill for a server. Thankfully a flatmate was more than happy to take it off my hands for a very nice price. This paid 2/3rds of the Corsair Dominator that sits in my main pc. The server's memory was replaced by the Corsair ValueRAM that used to be in my main pc. The cpu is the one from that old machine too. Just to clarify then, the memory in the pictures is the old OCZ, the ValueRAM looks nowhere near as impressive, although for a machine that sits in a cupboard that isn't a big deal.

I have re-installed the image from a backup I'd made and I'm currently deciding what I desperately need to have on the server and what I can live without should my main system fail. I haven't seen that 'home' percentage useage bar so empty in a very long time.

Friday, 12 February 2010

300 miles, 280 pupils, 6 undergrads, and 5 schools in 4 days.

Cumbria is a rather beautiful part of the world. I've been away for four days as part of my Student Ambassador job I hold with university. Basically, we're a team of undergraduates who promote the university (and universities in general) to the public. Not as bad as it sounds actually, there are no cold calls or leafleting or anything, we get to do some quite interesting things.

My favourite aspect of the job is working on the summer schools that the university runs bit I also get to go into secondary schools around the UK and talk to students about university and university life as well as take things like campus tours and work on open days. There were a stack of schools in Cumbria that wanted visiting so a team of six ambassadors and two members of staff were dispatched to set them right.

Highlights included a school that employed two bouncers, some quick rally driving, sampling one awesome nightclub in Carlisle (and a few terrible ones) and a trip to Royston Vasey. No kidding, there was a certain hotel that was literally straight out of a horror movie. You know when somebody walks into a bar and everybody puts their pint down to glare at the non-locals? Check. The overly-joyous-and-so-must-be-hiding-a-dark-secret manager? Check. The mute and miserable waitress? One of those too. It has since come to my attention that this particular pub is one of the roughest in the area. We left and went to Wetherspoons. Now, I like Wetherspoons. I like it like I like McDonalds, its simple and cheap but who cares? It IS cheap after all and if you go expecting anything else you will be disappointed. But how often has the phrase "This hotel is horrible, let's go to Spoons!" been said? How bad is somewhere for a Wetherspoons to not be a step up but a whole fire escape up?

I slept with my penkinfe under my pillow.

On a more serious note the kids there were awesome. Names of kids and schools are obviously off the menu but I was extremely happy to, once again, prove the people who argue that the youth are a bunch of time-wasting, violent yobs wrong. Schoolkids (like all humans) naturally gravitate towards what they find comforting, in this case their friendship groups. I usually go for the group of rowdy lads. I was one of them at school and I'm hardly one to back down from a challenge. I quite enjoy the peacocking, posturing and the politics that groups of boys get involved in on what I am sure is a largely subconscious level. It certainly beats the boring social interactions of girls. Another, female, rep is even better. We call her the alpha-male and she simply rocks out with her cock out when it comes to taming loud boys. I tried to make that not sound dirty but it failed.

I'll say it again (although to the first time on this nascent blog): People who claim kids are inherently bad do no know how to handle kids. The problem lies with you and your poor social and communication skills, not with them. Just for shits and giggles, go back and replace the word 'kids' with whatever you like. 'Blacks', 'Gays' and 'Women' are fun ones. Funny how it's still just as true, isn't it? This attitude really started to piss me off at Beamish, particularly in the school. Every day I'd hear about how bad the youth of today are and every day I would have to defend them. Victimising and scapegoating a group of people is not a great way to make them feel wanted by society. Why are people surprised when someone whom they have turned their back on turns their back on them? 

A middle-aged lady once latched on to me when I was walking from Chester-le-Street station to my parent's house. When I asked her why she was following me she said she wanted to talk to me as she didn't like walking by herself. With a little further pressing it seems she was afraid of everybody under 25 as they are all rapists and muggers. Everybody apart from me, but by this point it was quite clear the woman existed in a constant state of dread so maybe she wasn't thinking straight. She literally just didn't feel safe walking through her hometown without an escort. Most people, on hearing this, would invariably think that she was the victim of some great social injustice where a small minority ruin it for the rest of us. Or perhaps she had been mugged or raped and was understandably worried about a repeat performance. But no, she was just a headcase. "There is nothing to fear but fear itself." If you tell yourself that a place and it's inhabitants are scary then you will be scared, but if you pull your head out your arse and visit some schools and talk to some kids you'll realise that, at worst, they remind you of you.

Monday, 8 February 2010

I'm all for local industry, but c'mon.

So I got this as Christmas present:

And, to be honest, it was a nice gift. Except there were a few small flaws. Whe I first opened it I remarked that, for a 'World Beer Selection', an alarming percentage of them were lagers. On closer inspection however another alarming inconsistency was noticed.

You might have to click on the image and full screen it to read the text.

So, not entirely beery and not at all worldy. Well, at least there is a selection. Or rather there was. I don't think I've drunk the Carling yet anyway.