Sunday, December 21, 2008

We're getting a cat

Since long before we bought this house, we've been wanting to get a cat, but since we've always been renting it's never been an option. Now that we own a house, there's no reason not to get one, so we went 'round yesterday to one of the cat adoption places here in Dundee to see what they had.

There's a gorgeous silver tabby called Lucy that we're quite keen on getting. I kind of wish I'd taken a photo of her, since the one on their website doesn't do the colour of her coat justice (not that my camera phone would either). The people at the shelter said she'd been returned twice before for being a biter, but she seemed happy enough to be petted when we were there.

We're going to be away for a while over Christmas, but we do hope to take her as early next year as we can, if nobody steals her from us first.

The adoption people have got to come 'round and look at our house to make sure it's suitable for a cat, but I don't think there's anything that would concern them about it. Maybe the gap under some cupboards in the kitchen, where we had to pull out the kick-board to get the washing machine in, but that should be easily replaced.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Please do it at a pub.

Apparently there's enough concern in the Japanese town of Toyohashi about drunkenness on trains coming up to Christmas and the New Year that they've started putting up these fantastic posters asking people to keep it at the bar:

Please do it at a pub.

I love the expression on the face of the guy in the foreground. He looks like he's about to give a stern narration to the viewer.

Via Gaijin Tonic.

Thursday, December 04, 2008


We were supposed to get six inches of snow last night, but none of it materialised, so we just have the last couple of days' slush. Part of me's glad I didn't have to excavate the car this morning, but I'm still a little disappointed.

In other news, I have every Friday off between now and Christmas (only three of them, but it's three long weekends!), and our work Christmas party is this weekend.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I don't know whether to be annoyed or happy about this.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

California Fallout

Via LJ User sonia-leong
California Fallout
This photo leapt out at me from a series of beautiful, yet tragic shots of the Californian wildfires. This one just took my breath away - I don't want to sound flippant but it looks unreal, pretty much exactly like a screenshot from Fallout 3. Which is supposed to be set in apocalyptic wastelands 200 years after a nuclear holocaust. Life imitating art. Very scary.

Monday, November 17, 2008

New Xbox Experience

My AvatarOn Friday evening (the night before I headed to Glasgow for two days to attend Auchinawa), I got into the preview program for the New Xbox Experience. I basically just had time to create my avatar (see below) and install a couple of games to the HDD before we had to leave, so I've not had much chance to get into the nitty-gritty details of the "experience", but it seems like an improvement in a lot of ways.

I'm not sure the new placement of some options is as intuitive - changing your theme is now located under your Xbox profile rather than the system settings - but it kind of makes sense since it's not a global setting for the entire machine.

Still, I'm sure after a couple of weeks using it this second iteration of the dashboard will be as easy to get around as the old one was.

I was pretty impressed at how well I was able to create myself with the avatar system though - compared to any other character creator I've ever used, none of which has ever been able to create even an approximate likeness of myself, my Avatar is frighteningly close to how I actually look. I don't know if everyone else will be as fortunate, though - my girlfriend wasn't able to make one that's as accurate.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Almost done moving in

We've now been in our new house for nearly two weeks, and it's still getting more messy rather than less. There's still a few things in the self-storage box that we've got to transfer out before the account runs out at the weekend, but I don't know if the living room can take much more.

For instance, here's the change over the course of a few hours of yesterday:


The box is nearly cleared out though; we should be able to fit the rest of it into the car for the trip home tonight, or if not then we'll definitely be clearing it out tomorrow.

One slight problem is that the back bedroom, which we'd been planning to use as a storage area for a while, is going to be out of commission for at least another week while we repaint it a colour a little more muted than its current bright pink.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

This is important

I was pretty close to using "I'm gay for Keith Olbermann" as the title for this post, but it seemed a little too flippant for the seriousness of this issue.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Internet Social

I'm fascinated by "social networking tools" (which I think is a stupid name for them, but whatever) and blogging stuff in general. Which is really weird, when I think about how highly I regard my own opinion (that being, not at all), and how frankly pointless I think putting it online at all is (which, now that I think about it, might be a major contributor to the demise of my anime blog/news site).

But still, I get drawn into Twitter (and Twitpic), upload occasional YouTube videos and had to stop myself from requesting a 12seconds account; as cool as the idea is, I can't see myself vblogging, really - not when I blog "properly" so infrequently. And that's without having to really identify myself to the wider internet. I was still more excited than I probably should have been when I discovered that I could post (and watch) YouTube videos from my phone, though.

I still enjoy seeing how The Internet (by which I mean, the people and entities connected to and via it) finds new ways to communicate with itself. On their own, individual Twitter posts are just pointless minutae (and in a lot of cases, seem rather narcissistic), but there's something interesting about how they form a single cohesive narrative over days and weeks and months in a way that self-contained blog and journal entries don't. There's a lot to be said for the minute-by-minute reactionary nature of Twitter too; it made watching the second Presidential debate much more interesting, for instance, to see hundreds of other people's reaction in real time as it progressed.

That sort of thing isn't maybe what the creators of Twitter had in mind when they started it, but I find it fascinating to see how The Internet has adapted to the application and how they've adapted the application itself for their own way of communication.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Little Big Drama

The most recent Penny Arcade strip is spot on.

I don't think I've posted my response to the LBP/Qur'an thing here, and I don't want to get into it here after the horrible clusterfuck argument it spawned on a forum that's full of normally reasonable people. Short version: Sony made the right call, and this isn't really comparable to the Manchester Cathedral thing last year.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

On the mortgage crisis

This whole "default swaps" situation has us all fucked into a cocked hat to a much worse degree than I ever thought possible...
Q. What are the risks posed by credit-default swaps?

A. The first risk is their sheer size. Writing in Sunday's New York Times, Christopher Cox, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, estimated there were $55 trillion in credit-default swaps outstanding, which is larger than the combined gross domestic product of every country on Earth.

(Emphasis mine)

How does this shit happen? Did nobody think they were maybe going too far?

The quote is taken from this Seattle Times article.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


During his furious post-"Zero" blinking session, I can almost hear the old Amiga disk drive churning away.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Rolling Stone profiles McCain

On the off-chance anybody hasn't seen this already, I strongly suggest you give it a read.

Make-Believe Maverick

I've been going through it slowly the last couple of days (it's ten pages long), and while RS are undoubtedly more left-leaning than centrist, if even half this stuff is on the mark I just got a lot more worried about the prospect of a John McCain presidency.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Little Big Calculator

[S]imply from an engineering standpoint, I think this is by far and away the best [LBP level] yet. A user created a real-time working calculator that accurately adds and subtracts numbers. The level is said to use 610 magnetic swtiches, 500 wires, and 430 pistons. I didn't see what the big deal was until the camera panned up. That's when my mouth hit the floor.

Via Kotaku.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Friday, October 03, 2008

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Blister packaging: as pleasant as it sounds

I bought a wireless headset for my Xbox 360 and it just got delivered to work; I'd very much like to plug it in so it's charged for getting home, but I can't get the damn thing open.

I really hate the space devil packaging they use to store videogame accessories these days. I realise it's possibly helpful as an anti-theft device - you can't pop the container open and steal the goodies, and there's a tag in the box itself - but I'd like to be able to get the thing I paid for without shredding my fingers trying to get into the box.

Jon Stewart reacts to the $700bn bill failure

I don't know if his outburst at the end of this (~6.45 in) is scripted or ad-libbed, but he certainly seems genuinely angry.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I <3 John Oliver

Is there anything this man won't do or say to get a laugh? I think he's even ballsier than Colbert.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sarah Silverman promotes The Great Schlep

It's a little bit long, but it's hilarious in a lot of places.

For those who haven't heard about it before, The Great Schlep is a campaign to get young, democrat Jewish voters to visit their grandparents in Florida (one of the big swing states) and dispel all the lies and rumours about Barack Obama.

More information about The Great Schlep.

Judge rejects multi-thousand dollar fines for filesharers

It's not quite that simple, and I'm not sure that it sets legal precedent, but it's undoubtedly a sign that even those outside the Kazaa/BitTorrent circles recognise how ludicrously out-of-proportion the MAFIAA fines are.

In Capitol v. Thomas, District Judge Michael J. Davis has set aside the jury's $222,000 verdict and ordered a new trial, ruling that his jury instruction -- which accepted the RIAA's "making available" theory -- was erroneous. He also rejected the 'offer to distribute' theory.

Although he did not formally reach the arguments going to the excessiveness of the damages, he had this to say on the subject:

Need for Congressional Action

The Court would be remiss if it did not take this opportunity to implore Congress to amend the Copyright Act to address liability and damages in peer to peer network cases such as the one currently before this Court. The Court begins its analysis by recognizing the unique nature of this case. The defendant is an individual, a consumer. She is not a business. She sought no profit from her acts. The myriad of copyright cases cited by Plaintiffs and the Government, in which courts upheld large statutory damages awards far above the minimum, have limited relevance in this case. All of the cited cases involve corporate or business defendants and seek to deter future illegal commercial conduct. The parties point to no case in which large statutory damages were applied to a party who did not infringe in search of commercial gain.

The statutory damages awarded against Thomas are not a deterrent against those who pirate music in order to profit. Thomas’s conduct was motivated by her desire to obtain the copyrighted music for her own use. The Court does not condone Thomas’s actions, but it would be a farce to say that a single mother’s acts of using Kazaa are the equivalent, for example, to the acts of global financial firms illegally infringing on copyrights in order to profit in the securities market. Cf. Lowry’s Reports, Inc. v. Legg Mason, Inc., 271 F. Supp. 2d 42 737, 741, 42 (D. Md. 2003) (describing defendants as a “global financial services firm” and a corporation that brokers securities).

While the Court does not discount Plaintiffs’ claim that, cumulatively, illegal downloading has far‐reaching effects on their businesses, the damages awarded in this case are wholly disproportionate to the damages suffered by Plaintiffs. Thomas allegedly infringed on the copyrights of 24 songs the equivalent of approximately three CDs, costing less than $54, and yet the total damages awarded is $222,000 – more than five hundred times the cost of buying 24 separate CDs and more than four thousand times the cost of three CDs. While the Copyright Act was intended to permit statutory damages that are larger than the simple cost of the infringed works in order to make infringing a far less attractive alternative than legitimately purchasing the songs, surely damages that are more than one hundred times the cost of the works would serve as a sufficient deterrent.

Thomas not only gained no profits from her alleged illegal activities, she sought no profits. Part of the justification for large statutory damages awards in copyright cases is to deter actors by ensuring that the possible penalty for infringing substantially outweighs the potential gain from infringing. In the case of commercial actors, the potential gain in revenues is enormous and enticing to potential infringers. In the case of individuals who infringe by using peer-to-peer networks, the potential gain from infringement is access to free music, not the possibility of hundreds of thousands – or even millions – of dollars in profits. This fact means that statutory damages awards of hundreds of thousands of dollars is certainly far greater than necessary to accomplish Congress’s goal of deterrence.

Unfortunately, by using Kazaa, Thomas acted like countless other Internet users. Her alleged acts were illegal, but common. Her status as a consumer who was not seeking to harm her competitors or make a profit does not excuse her behavior. But it does make the award of hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages unprecedented and oppressive.
September 24, 2008, decision setting aside verdict


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Obama lawn sign draws internet crowd

This has to be the most potent harbinger of the internet's lack of purpose that I have ever seen.

Live video chat by Ustream

An Oregon woman who wanted to let her neighbors know that she's endorsing Senator Barack Obama for president has had two Obama-Biden 08 yard signs stolen from her front lawn. So she made a third herself, and had her teenage son set up a live feed on in the hopes of protecting the sign and possibly catching any thieves.


At the time of writing, there are approximately 200 people watching the streaming video. There are 130 in the attached chatroom, a lot of whom are freaking out because a gnome in the garden was smashed. Several of them have changed their nicknames as a mark of respect.

Via Make The Logo Bigger.

Shake It

This is a pretty interesting way of using YouTube to advertise your game.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Investment tip of the day

If you had purchased £1000 of Northern Rock shares one year ago it would now be worth £4.95, with HBOS, earlier this week your £1000 would have been worth £16.50, £1000 invested in XL Leisure would now be worth less than £5, but if you bought £1000 worth of Tennents Lager one year ago, drank it all, then took the empty cans to an aluminium re-cycling plant, you would get £214. So based on the above statistics the best current investment advice is to drink heavily and re-cycle.


I love every photo of Dick Cheney


Xbox Avatars

I'm actually quite looking forward to the new "Xbox Experience" update, the more I see of it. I still can't figure out why this video focuses on the creation of a hobo, though.

Now I'm off to listen to @hodgman's list of hobo names for the next hour.

Monday, September 22, 2008


I have two tickets to Jonathan Coulton's gig in London next month to sell.

The lineup is Jonathan Coulton (the guy who wrote the Portal song, if context is required), with support from Paul and Storm, who were half of the excellent Da Vinci's Notebook a capella group until they split a few years ago.

It's taking place at Shepherd's Bush Empire, in London, on Thursday, October 30th 2008, with doors opening at 7pm.

The tickets are for row B, seats 16 and 17 (seats highlighted in blue, click to enlarge):


They cost me £17.50 with a £3.31 card charge each, but I'm willing to let the pair go for £25 including postage to anyone who wants 'em.

I'll also be posting this information on the Jonathan Coulton forums and possibly a couple of other places.

The 666 Club

Going through an old Photobucket account, I found this excellent image of Pat Robertson rocking out and throwing the horns:


I'm pretty sure I've posted it here before, but I still find it funny.

Bill O'Reilly on Sarah Palin email hacking

Because I know we all treasure his opinion so much...

I don't know whether his complete failure to grasp the situation is funny or infuriating. Is he really that dumb, or is it all doublethink?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

John Oliver: Political Wingman

According to the latest installment of The Bugle, John Oliver actually met Tony Blair after the show; apparently it was a bit frosty.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Star Simpson interview

On Global Warming

This is the argument I've never been able to make effectively.

Nuclear bombs don't exist!

spEak You're bRanes is a fantastic blog that collects the most ridiculous comments from the BBC website's "Have Your Say" section.

This particular comment comes from a thread about the Large Hadron Collider:
Why was this ‘built’ underground? Simple, it does not exist. It’s a big con.

It’s the same reason India/Pakistan allegedly conducted nuclear explosions underground simply because they never happened in the first place. Why? Because nuclear bombs don’t exist and they never have existed. FACT!

Hollywood and the people behind Hollywood (the rich elite race) came up with the propoganda to fool the ‘Sheople’. They’ll keep taking your money though to fund their lavish lifestyles.

Philip Coalman

It's the "FACT!" that really sells it, for me.

Tony Blair on The Daily Show

I have tremendous admiration for Jon Stewart's interview technique - especially when he's up against politicians and the like. I could watch him interviewing Blair for hours; it seems so rare for someone (at least in American television - and even in the UK, Paxman isn't as personable as Stewart is and always puts people on the defensive) keep asking the same queston until they get an answer, instead of just rolling over at the first soundbite. It's just a shame that the Daily Show only has five to ten minutes for these interviews.

Twitter Updates

  • 10:42 #
  • 16:43 @maehara This comic reminded me of your ongoing Naruto marathon: #
  • 23:18 Started playing Shadow of the Colossus tonight, for the first time. I can't believe how good it is, although I am spectacularly bad at it. #
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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Cops from last night

McCain on Spain

This whole story seems like an over-reaction. I've listened to the interview (the bit about Spain is ~2:58 in), and I don't blame McCain for getting confused. I'd read the transcript beforehand, and even then some of the presenter's pronunciation, especially across a phone line that fuzzy, could have been indistinct. If it had been a face-to-face interview in the studio, I seriously doubt there would have been a problem.

I can't believe how aggressively some bloggers are attacking McCain over this; rather than giving him the benefit of the doubt until an annoucement comes from his campaign, they're dogpiling him.

It's not a simple case of "he doesn't know where Spain is" versus "he thinks Spain are terrorists" - there's also the possibility that he simply misheard her and wasn't familiar with the Spanish PM's name - he's hardly the only American guilty of that.

Hell, I'm in Europe and I couldn't tell you the names of half the leaders in the continent. I didn't even know who the Northern Irish First Minister is right now before checking Wikipedia.

Anonymous has allegedly hacked Sarah Palin's personal email account. Screenshots and other evidence is available at WikiLeaks.

The suggestions now are that she used this account,, for official state business; emails to and from various government departments and drafts of letters to other governors were apparently found in the account.

There are also suggestions on some blogs that she used the account for the unsavory aspects of her job, such as emails regarding Troopergate, so that a subpoena of her state email account wouldn't reveal any damaging connections.

But even regardless of that, which doesn't seem to have any real evidence to support it as yet, does it strike anybody else as massively irresponsible, not to mention a dangerous breach of security, to keep information relating to her state government in the cloud?