24 December 2008

Oh Leopard, where are thy spots?

I upgraded my MacBook to Leopard.

Oh dear.

It feels slower and wireless is broken. Gee. Thanks Apple!

It seems the issue with wireless is well known - still no solution from Apple as yet. So, when I switch it on, I have to use Assist to get my wireless up and running. Tedious.

UPDATE: Seems rebooting the router helped, along with clearing out the keys. Also mail was broken but deleting the configuration helped there too.

22 November 2008

Tabatha, RIP

On Friday 21st Nov, the vet put Tabatha, my cat, to sleep.

She'd not been well for some time. She'd lost weight, and was very thirsty all the time. Then she stopped eating and could barely stand. I was at work, 100 miles away, so I couldn't be there. My dad watched as she passed away.

I collected her from the Cat Protection League around 1999. She was at least five years old then, possibly older. She was small, affectionate and just liked being around people. My parents fell in love with her instantly. When I changed jobs, I left her with my parents - I couldn't see how it could work as I lived in a flat during the week and my house at weekends.

Goodbye Tabatha, I shall miss you.

18 November 2008

Spore patch 3

With the latest Spore patch, they've released new limbs for creatures:

30 September 2008

Delphi 2009

I downloaded a trial version of Delphi 2009 Architect to see if much has changed with Delphi. So far I've hit the following issues:
  • Cannot enter '\' in the installer. So, typing C:\dir resulted in dirC:. Most bizarre.
  • Circular uses clause still exists. Tsk, tsk. This is 2009, how come we're still living in the dark ages?
  • Still cannot have local variables per begin...end block.
  • Cannot export functions declared in C source files. The linker warning is undocumented, the symbol doesn't appear in the DLL.
  • C++ Builder doesn't distinguish name of project and name of a file in the project. More dark ages.
  • No way for Delphi to see C++ Builder class except via COM.  How pedestrian. I can do this in Visual C++ with Managed C++.
After spending a year developing with C#, managed C++ and C++, going back to Delphi was... interesting.

Looks like the following has been fixed - it only took, what, four years?
  • Select a token, hit F1. Delphi 2005, 2006 couldn't find its own help. Delphi 2009 can.
  • .NET support for .NET 2.0. What about 3.0/3.5?
I think my original decision not to buy any further upgrades to Delphi/C++ Builder stands. It's still broken; it's not worth it.

11 September 2008


I read about Spore a while ago. I've played Sim City several times and liked it, so spore was interesting. I tried the Creature Creator trial and liked it, so I bought the full version of the creator. That led to buying a prerelease version of spore and downloading an encrypted version early.Spore was released last Friday (with a few server hiccups), I've been playing it ever since. It's addictive. So far I've found the cell stage the most fun.

Omnivore is the most fun of the three types - you get to suck vegetables or other creatures. The expressions on them is very funny - the eyes bug out and all the frills etc. stretch out as if horrified. The sound effect is of you sucking noisily on a straw!

Once you evolve your creature starts to develop further - here's the omnivore at the creature stage:

Even in the cell stage you get an editor - here you can rearrange parts, pull off parts to replace them or add new bits and bobs to make your creature more adaptive to its environment. Here's the omnivore in its latest phase (in tribal):

As you play the game, more stages open up and you can jump in at those points (cell, creature, tribal, civilisation and space), or you can let your character evolve through each stage on the way.

After the cell stage, creature stage didn't strike me as that wonderful for a while - until I saw my own creatures I'd created in the creature editor appear as giant versions in game with 1000 points and terrorising the neighbourhood!

28 August 2008

Waiting for Linux...

I can't remember the last time I tried Linux. It always offered so much promise, but then failed to deliver. So, I decided to try building a Linux box again. Since I've upgraded to a newer PC, I put my Athlon 2200+ to one side for Linux. I installed the latest Ubuntu...

  1. Oh dear no network. I tried a seperate card and that worked; then I remembered, I'd disabled the on board network of my A7N8X mobo. Hmm, put that down to user error. However I did go a-hunting on the net and found a few comments about the network not working on A7N8X mobo's.
  2. I couldn't get the graphics card to recognise my iiyama LCD display. Even without the KVM switch, it refused to let me choose any resolution other than 640x480. After a bit of tweaking, I finally got it to run in 1280x1024 mode.
Ah yes, Linux. I remember it well. It just... doesn't... quite... work. That's why trying an Apple Mac was such a breathe of fresh air. It actually works! Wow!

20 August 2008


It's blue. It's black. It's fast!

It's running Windows XP...

15 August 2008

Race Driver: GRID

Looks like I got my name in the Develop magazine August 2008, page 57.

13 August 2008

New PC!

I ordered the parts for my new PC on Moday, they turned up Tuesday...

I started putting it all together, and found a few minor issues. I'd chosen to base my build on what Scan use for their 3XS range, figuring if that's what works for them would probably work for me. The case is a gamers box with transparent sides and large, quiet fans. The first minor issue: I didn't expect to find the power supply had to be at the bottom, and upside down. The second was the size of the CPU fan. I could see problems trying to fit the thing. I watched a flash movie on the Zalman site and it made sense but I felt trying to screw down a sprung loaded bar might not be that simple. In the end, it went in, with a few mutterings.

I powered it all up and was rewarded with the BIOS screen. Ran memtest for a couple of hours and it was fine. Temperature seemed much better than I've seen with my Athlon 2200+ where it regularly hit 70C. This one was running at 40C (CPU) and 35C (motherboard). The big fans are a bit noisy, but they are quieter than my aging Athlon (aging? It's not that old!).

Since I've switched on ASUS Q-Fan, the CPU fan is running much quieter - seems every other fan is low speed, big and quiet...

So what I've got is an Intel Duo with four cores, 4GBytes of RAM (not all of which is visible), 8800 GT graphics, 750GByte SATA drive... all in a colourful box with blue lights and a green glowing CPU fan. Be interesting to see it do some raytracing once I've got everything set up - with four cores that ought to be a sight to see.

11 August 2008


I took my Honda Jazz in for its first service a while ago. There I chatted with one of the salesman who told me about the new redesign of the Jazz appearing later this year. He seemed to think I might be interested in upgrading to the latest model... unlikely, if the car is as reliable as my last Vauxhall Astra, I plan on keeping it for at least 15 years!

Oh, and he said that generally older people (people over 50) buy Jazz's. Oh dear! Did my Zimmer frame give the game away?

Vista not for me

My laptop has Vista, and once I got past the crashing issues - fixed with a BIOS upgrade, everything has been fine. But Vista is nothing to write home about. The gadget bar is useful but everything else is... well, what's the point?

If I repeatedly do something that require's priv's, it repeatedly asks me again and again to accept it. Gee, Microsoft, where did you dig up your usability guide from? Using my Mac was a much more elegant affair and I'm not running the latest and greatest yet!

Finally, discovering my scanner is compatible with Vista is frankly, not amusing.

22 March 2008

More Vista woes!

System Hang

Is this Vista or the Toshiba...?

I left my laptop alone for a while, when I returned the screen was blank, the system wouldn't respond to keypresses. Caps lock/Num lock didn't toggle their respective lights on/off, and dabbing the power button didn't put the system to sleep. So, hold down power button and switch off.

So, try for a replacement set of AMD/ATI drivers, see if that helps. Ho hum.


The new system under Vista for elevating privs is a bit clumsy. It seems to be asking for every operation I might do that needs "elevation", and failing silently those that don't realise they need it! Also it seemed to ask me twice on one occaison!

19 March 2008

Water underfoot

There's a soft splashing, clanging sound as I walk between the buildings. I look down and see a layer of water under my feet. A metal grill is slightly below the surface, what I'm walking on. In the distance, I can see a hole in the grill. A man dressed in a dark suit with dark shades walks up to the edge, and looks around. He takes off his shades and dives in.

I reach the edge of the grill where he jumped in, and look down into the murky depths. I can see him swimming underwater, a short distance away. Suddenly he seems to be struggling, then he sinks deeper, until I can see him no more.

I dive in, and start swimming. I'm under a building heading towards a lit opening ahead. I don't look down, holding my breath and ignoring everything but the light. I reach a ladder that descends below me and start climbing it. I gasp for breath as I break the surface and carry on climbing the ladder a short distance. I pause a while getting my breath back. Looking up towards the light, I continue climbing until I reach the straps hanging down. I strap myself in, an wait until a sudden updraught lifts me high... I'm up in the sky hanging on a parachute looking down at the city far below, water all around.

17 March 2008

Oh Vista, oh no!

I bought a new laptop for a couple of reasons... one, they're quite cheap right now; two they're running Windows Vista. The laptop is a Toshiba Equium (Athlon 64 X2) with an ATI graphics card. It took several reboots before it was ready to use (I thought one feature Microsoft tried to get right on XP was the number of required reboots - didn't succeed with XP, and so it would seem, not Vista either).

Once everything was up an running I dumped Symantec's virus software and tried AVG from Grisoft - at some point the system BSOD. Oh dear! Several updates and a few crashes later... I seem to have a stable system. I hope. Disappointing! Really Microsoft, is this the BEST you can do? "Oh it's Toshiba's fault", they might say.

My Apple MacBook was far easier to set up - with less reboots and no crashing!

16 March 2008


I got on the train around the 5th junction, and made my way up the floors to the 3rd level. There I met a few friends and we got to chatting, when we heard the loud explosion up ahead. The train came to a halt, and there was an announcement about the station ahead of us.

Later, I got on the train on the opposite side, and witnessed an identical explosion going the opposite way... except it was the same explosion, I was on both trains at the same time...


We were riding home when he told me about his latest theft. He'd managed to make a clean getaway, and wanted to look at what he'd stolen. He took it out and carefully unwrapped it to reveal six peg shaped objects. We both recognised them immediately, and he began to align them when I stopped him, frantically pointing out to align them meant they'd be "pulled" towards the source of mystic energy here. Sure enough, our craft started to diverge, as he argued they should be aligned, then realised what was happening and began to unalign them.

"You know we're doomed, don't you?", I stated.

He looked up puzzled. "Why?"

"Once they realize they've been robbed, they'll track you down and kill you".

11 March 2008

Alien among us

It looked like a scam. It smelled like a scam. But, what was it?

They put on a wonderful show. "Come and work for us", they said. "Salaries with us are generous, comparable to the market rate", they said. The building was a vast warehouse showing off all the wonderful technology they worked on.

Then came the clincher. Our host walked up the wall and stood on the ceiling peering down at us. "We are the Markum", he intoned.

The numbers of people that sat down at the invitation desk were impressive. I wondered around aimlessly for a while. Then I came back, and found the desk was deserted with two female Markum staring at me, with friendly smiles. I sifted through the paperwork on the desk, and saw "Mayor of New York" appearing as one name. Again, impressive, but a scam?

I looked up, into their deep brown eyes and indicated I wished to hear more.

06 March 2008

Goodbye Virgin Media

I got rid of my V+ box from Virgin Media last year. Finally got the cancellation sorted out. I got fed up with the bugs and awful quality of the V+ box. Instead, I've gone completely Freeview! The picture quality is so much better, although the content is not so varied. And it's free!!!

...finally got shot of the dreaded cold this year. Despite having flu jabs etc.