An Open Invitation

As a fully paid up member of Geek club I have sunk too much money over the years into trading card games, only to be unable to compete with players who can afford to sink yet more money into the game for those overpowered rare cards. And yet I never learnt my lesson, and whenever a new one that looked interesting came around I’d be right back into the cycle.

Enter Fantasy Flight Gamesliving card games. If you’re not familiar with the format it is essentially a trading card game with an important distinction; all of the ‘boosters’ ‘ contents are already known, and usually supplied at the maximum amount allowed in a deck. No more costly chase for that one rare card that would really make your deck. There are also plenty of places to plan your deck online, meaning you can plan future purchases to gradually improve your deck.

What really pushes the FFG LCG format over the edge for me is the support for the online community and OCTGN. OCTGN is an online tabletop tool which allows you to play your favourite card games against your friends online. The best part is the aforementioned support by FFG. They allow use of all but the latest booster packs on OCTGN.

Which leads me to my open invite.

I know a few of us already play the A Game of Thrones LCG, and I propose an online tournament (or league if we can get enough players) through OCTGN. I am more than happy to teach people to play and use OCTGN. I suggest that we all play each other either best of three as a small tournament or perhaps twice in a league, with the winner taking 1 point and matches taking place once a week over OCTGN, and I will provide a chapter pack of your choice for the player with the most points when it’s all done.

I’m also going to try to live stream / record and narrate some games since it is all done online.

So what do you think?  Why not leave your WWE style call outs in the comments below and lets get this going…

5 Real Life Deus Ex MacGyvers

You all know the scene Hollywood loves to create; The world as we know it is doomed unless one kooky scientist can save the day. I’m looking at you, Independance Day, and you, War of the Worlds, and you, Jurassic Park and you… you get the picture. It’s all so convenient, that would never happen IRL right?

Wrong, here’s my 5 favourite inventions MacGyvered up just in time to (probably) save humanity:

5. Germ Theory

It’s 1918, the world is at war and people are dying at an alarming rate, in part due to the fighting but more so because of the Spanish Influenza outbreak. ‘La Grippe’ was truly a global disaster, and killed somewhere between 20 and 40 million people. The new sciences of immunology and epidemiology were struggling to come up with a vaccine or therapies quick enough to combat the disease. Mankind looked doomed.

That is until scientists began building on the work of Koch and Lister and began injecting blood plasma of people that had survived the infection into the most severly affected military patients. This reduced the mortality rates by as much as 50%, and a better understanding of the outbreak was gained.

4. The Automobile.

Before the introduction of the automobile, horses were relied upon in the large urban areas responsible for the rise of the modern era. Places like London, Paris and New York would be swamped with horses, and at the turn of the twentieth century there were some 200, 000 horses in New York, the equivalent of 1 for every 17 people.

Horses clogged the transport network of the cities, were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of residents in traffic accidents, A New Yorker would have been almost twice as likely to die from a horse accident than a car accident today, and would produce veritable mountains of dung. The steps leading to doors in many urban areas, whilst looking good today, would have been necessary to rise above the tide of horseshit that would flow after any heavy rains.

The first international urban planning conference was held in 1898 to try to tackle the increasing threat that horses posed to mankind but was cut short since the experts were stumped by the crisis.

Enter the automobile to save us from this equine menace, a much cleaner and more efficient answer to the transport problems of the day!

3. Birdseye Fish-Fingers

Yup, you read it right. Captain Birdseye (probably) saved the world. In the early twenties population growth was reaching extremely high levels, and many leading experts of the time, such as Keynes and Beveridge, were debating the pitfalls of an ever expanding population. Many feared the food supplies would run out.

Luckily for humanity Clarence Birdseye was putting the finishing touches to his technique for flash freezing vegetables, seafood and meats using high pressures, brine, ice and wax cardboard boxes. Birds Eye Frosted Foods went on sale in 1930 and humanity was promised fresh foods all year round and the humble fish finger butty was born.

2. The Convair B-36

Four years after World War II ended with the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Soviet Republic developed their own nuclear weaponry. The world was on the path to annihilation, however neither nation had the ability to quickly respond to a detected launch, a potentially deadly situation for life as we know it. Perverse as it may sound the world needed the Nash Equilibrium of mutually assured destruction to save us from nuclear war.

With the introduction of the Convair B-36, or the Peacekeeper, into service as an intercontinental range bomber it was now much easier to deliver a nuclear weapon into the interior of a country. Mutually assured destruction was now guaranteed and a nuclear peace achieved. You’re welcome world.

1. Sharp Stones

Of course none of this could have come about if humanity never got off the ground in the first place. There were myriad deadly events daily in palelithic man’s life. Man would be an easy target for the predators by day, and easier prey still by night. Most individuals would meet an early death, starvation and predation were very real threats. Technology would save the day in many ways.

Many nuts and seeds were too tough for our ancestors to open with just their teeth, and accordingly, the ingenuity of early man would have led to the observation that any nut could be opened if placed upon one stone and hit with another. Given the propensity we have for hurting ourselves, it’s entirely plausible to imagine, after laughing at other members of  his tribe cutting himself open on sharp stones, a genius of his time observing that it is possible to hurt those other creatures that come and eat us with these sharp stones, and so weaponry was born. Since these early axe heads are found in almost every pre-historic culture in the world, it’s fair to say they were put to good use, and humanity got started/saved.

The Pros and Cons of the Alternative Vote

The 5th May has the potential to be one of the most important days in the political landscape of Britain for many years to come, as a referendum is to be held on whether to stick with the current ‘First Past the Post‘ (FPTP) voting system or switch to the Alternative Vote (AV) system. The sytems in a nutshell work like this:

First Past the Post (FPTP)

An FPTP ballot requires you to mark one box of your ballot paper with an X to indicate your favoured candidate. The ballots are counted and the candidate with the highest number of votes wins.

Alternative Vote (AV)

An AV ballot gives you the option of ranking your preferences in a given election. Instead of indicating your favourite candidate with an X, you would use the number 1. You may then, if you wish, place a 2 against your second favourite candidate, a 3 against your third favourite and so on until your apathy levels reach maximum or you run out of candidates. If a particular candidate has more first preference votes than the other candidates combined then we have a winner, otherwise the second preference of the last placed candidate are used and so on until someone has a majority.

Let’s have a simple example:

Three candidates are vying for 15 votes. Alan gets 4 votes, Brenda gets 5 votes and Charlie gets 6 votes. Under the FTPT system Charlie wins. Let’s say that Charlie’s policies have divided the electorate greatly and Alan and Brenda are running on similar policies to each other. In an FPTP system this doesn’t matter as Charlie doesn’t need a majority to win, however if the ballot was done using AV, and assuming that Alan’s voters would prefer Brenda as a second favourite, then Brenda would have won with 9 votes.

So what are the pros and cons of each system?

FPTP gives a clear winner. This has been attributed to a strong government, and less likely to give a hung parliament, whether this is true is a matter of debate. FPTP is also easier to count and is a well known system. By comparison AV is only used to elect a government in Australia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea, although it is often used for things such as student government elections.

AV will allow more local support for MP’s although it is debatable whether this has anything to do with a government. Fringe votes are also likely to have more effect under the alternative vote, since these are the votes likely to be redistributed, leading to questions about the ‘fairness’ of this and whether the votes from the fringe voters are the ones that a should be determining governmnents.

Since the proposed version of AV allows optional ranking of candidates, an interesting question is whether people would use the rankings, and what are the implications if not.

An important consideration is the wider issue of electoral reform. This has been offered as a compromise between the current system and other systems like proportional representation and single vote transferral. Regardless of whether you vote Yes or No to AV on May 5th will we get to look again at these other options.

New Music Podcast – YNot Festival

Well those four weeks flew by. Be amazed that stuporcollider has kept a deadline! Anyways, here’s another half hour or so of new music, mostly from YNot festival. As always, support the bands and buy their merch and releases:

Darwin Deez
Sparrow and the Workshop
Doll and the Kicks
Alex Blood and the Diggers Free album download available on their website.
Rugosa Nevada
Rooney
The Lovely Eggs

Download the podcast from here.

Disclaimer: I have sought permission from these bands to play this stuff but couldn’t get to ask everyone and the bands retain their copyright. If anyone from the bands wants me to remove their music from here let me know.

Twi-Hard 2: Twi Harder! LIVEBLOG!

Well, we’re back! And we’ve brought Twilight: New Moon with us! For reasons none of us really understand we’re here to live blog the second movie in the Twilight saga.

Present is Ado to my left, and Gazz to my slightly further left. The Thai food is here, and two pints of beer have been consumed. Meet us at 20:30, and prepare your loins!

We’re here, and we’re watching the trailers before the ‘feature’! I have a beer, Gazz has a beer and Ado has a squash.

More ARRPATTS trailers before the film starts. YAY

Crustyplow: The Driest Furrow. A movie about kids watching old folks getting it on.

The URL advert for Eclipse lists a Bebo address. Aren’t they dead?

A yellow moon. That’s symbolism for a weak bladder. Bella sounds prophetic (pathetic). Lots of red riding hoods. Flowers and some old bird. HI GRANDMA!

The sparkles begin! EAT GRANDMA! DO IT EDDIE!

HOLY SHIT; Edward did Bella’s granny. Now bargain basement Jason Leigh brings a sammdige. I’M BORED.

Ado: She only has one tone.
Gazz: You’ll learn to love it.

What kind of car is that. I think it’s a Volvo! Perfectly framed shot of a pretty boy walking in slow motion next to his shiny Volvo. Yea!

Ed is 109, she is 19. ULTROPAEDO! Get off that lass, grandad!

Gazz: We could just fuck in the back of this Volvo?

Best line of the film? ‘I’m just filling out Bella’ and ‘You should come take a ride’

Ado: ‘I saw this hole the other day, and I thought of you. It’s like a wizard’s sleeve!’

Perky girl rots my brain. Ado: ‘Vampires don’t use stairs, it makes sense now!’ Funny ‘don’t trust vampires joke’

Ado: ‘The Keanu Reeves award for emoting goes to…’

Gazz: ‘Previously on Twilight: biting’

PRETENTION!

Shit! Brian Clough is in this film! Nice ruff, Clough!

Best part of the film? Dismemberment by Brian Clough. Clough’s Rough Stuff is Gazz’s Cliff Richard cover band.

‘She’ll come for me soon’

‘Don’t hate the truck. It’s a Volvo’

YOU GOTS BLOOD ON MY BEIGE CARPET BITCH, TAKE IT! Eat her!

Does Ed look a bit disgusted.

Ado: Look at all the blood in you. Time of the month is it?

‘How do you do it?’ From behind with a bag on your head. No two bags for redundancy. You’re a double bagger.

Why do they burn the bandages? It’s so that they don’t go rooting through the bins later for them. It’s like when you throw half a sausage away, then regret it later.

Mumble translation:-
Ed: Bella do you understand my feelings for you at all?
Bella: God told me. How’d you feel about your solo? Ern weewap, so don’t worry about mine
E: Scronsay
[pause]
B: Shitty birthday. Say ass one thing. Kicks me (Gimli?)
E: SCROMF. [pained look]
B: It was a poo
E: Who are you?
–==SCENE==– (Ed only does one take)

Bella don’t use no photoshop. Also Gazz sez they ruining Bon Iver. Ado: Nice titties on the left.

Neil: What’s happened so far?
Ado & Gazz: Nothing

Who the fuck is Jizbert?

Bella: ‘I’m coming!’ Us: From that distance?

Who the hell is charlie? We don’t know but they ARE in the trees.

Charlie says, don’t watch Twilight. Gazz: Oh Stephanie Meyer, how I hate you

MOPE!

Bella still looks constipated. No wait, it’s coming! No, she’s just falling over. WHILE STANDING STILL. DU HAW, I’M SO CLUMSY LOL

Topless action! Man boob. Moob.

Ahh, Charlie is Tesco Jason Leigh. Gazz: ‘I got naked, but I didn’t rape her’

OKTOBER
Mope
NOVEMBER
Mope
Gazz: She’s not even listening to the Cure. Rubbish
DECEMBER
Snow mope. Snope
EMAIL BREAK. Cool, disappearing computer!
Bella: SCREEAPHRAAAGHHHAHHH! Period cramps
Charlie shall now be called Churl.

Beer is gone 😦 GAZZ, GET ME ANOTHER. Now Bella is going to Jacksonville. I hope the movie ends soon.

WE’RE ONLY 30 MINUTES IN! There’s another hour and thirty to goooo.

Hopefully it’s an hour’s worth of credits. Ado: Who for? Mumblor and all the cameramen who offed themselves.

Bella’s truck don’t work ’cause it’s not a VOLVO. I wan’t to drink at ONE EYED PETE’S.

Wtf is with ghost Edward? Really?

Bella: I think I know one eye.

Bella want rough trade. Ed thinks that be a bad idea. None of us have any clue what’s going on here. Now time for MORE MONOLOGUE!

Bella: If i need a rush of danger to see him, I’ll have to drive a HONDA.

Is it that Ed actually turns up when she’s in danger, or that she’s gone mental and sees him when she’s high on adrenaline?

Why do they keep making jokes about Bella’s age. Is this a theme?

Wolfman (Jacob?): Do you not like that song?
Bella: I don’t like things I enjoy

First time I’ve seen Bella turned on by is man fighting.

I remember this on time I broke up with a lass and woke up screaming every night. Supportive Churl is supportive. And not funny.

Churl: Sometimes you have to learn to love what’s good for you. [Later he is arrested for incest]

Gazz about Jake: Is that as close as you can get to being female whilst still having a ballsack?

There’s still a damn hour left.

Is Ed really scared of her driving a dirt bike. Isn’t that a mite overprotective. YES FACEPLANT INTO A ROCK! MORE OF THIS SORT OF THING!

GREAT LINES IN CINEMA:
Jake: You’re apologising for bleeding?
Bella: I guess I am.

More random topless! ‘Here smell my shirt. Mmm’

Why can’t we see the tigers being killed by bears?

Bella: What about ‘Face Punch’ have you heard of that?
Rando #1: No
Bella: You have now! [Smek]

Let’s Do This! Face Punch. I wanna see that more that Twiglet. Rando is a pussy. We also wanna see Parking and Gambling, Gods and LSD, also Pontypool, Mike Zero.

BOO RALPH! You’re rubbish. We see you’re online, you’re just hiding from this amazing film!

Bugger! Jake made her feel feelings again. Now we go back to mopecore mode for a while. STOP MOPING! SHUT UP! FUCKING TEENAGERS! ‘I’m not like a car, you can’t just fix me. But I do have a spacious boot and wide exhaust’

I honestly don’t know what’s happening now, except that Ed has gone and Bella’s a bit mopey.

Topless!

Why does Bella go for angry assholes? Ginger rando was OK.

‘Hey Jake, come and hang out in the woods with us guys in tight shorts with no tops on in the pouring rain! It’s totally not gay!’

We think Bella’s trying to find a cliff to jump off. We want that! DO IT BELLA.

Oooh, Bella on her knees again! Who’s this guy? I think his name is Orwan, Rowan or Woyan. His accent is great and randomly dropped. Actmaster!

Ado: MY EDWARD SENSE IS TINGLING
Gazz: Who the fuck are all these people?

Why would any vampire be afraid of Ed? He’s a goit.

Growbag: I can’t help but kill you, so mouthwatering
Bella: Please don’t

There’s totally a wolf! Werewolves vs. Vampires is more boring than I thought.

Twilight rules of vampires:
A) You’re immortal
B) You’re pretty
C) You’re sparkly
D) Don’t really need to drink blood
E) Get a bit angry around blood sometimes but not a lot
F) BASICALLY NO DRAWBACKS!

Ado and Gazz are on Team Jake. I’m on Team FOAD.

Jake can’t work shirts anymore. Cutting his hair cut his IQ by all.

WE DEMAND VAMPIRE, WEREWOLF, MOPEY BINT THREE WAY! IT SHALL BE AWESOME!

Bella: Come back and talk, Jake! I have not moped enough! (Falls over)

Plot is actually happening! We’re on tenterhooks!

Ado: It’s all about the dialogue. The dire-log

SLAP! Anger! Wolfywoo! Let’s hope those shorts grow back!

Ralph, you’d like this. They keep talking about feelings. You’re into that, right?

Wolfmen: Hey Bella, wanna come inside? there might not be any nobbing.

Ado is taking his top off to show TEAM JACOB solidarity. Bella is a total whore for supernatural bastards.

BEER 3!

I watched Inception before this. I don’t know if that’s making this worse, or if it really is this tedious.

BITE HIS FACE OFF! Jamaycahn vampire’s face was delicious, B. You know, the main villain in this film hasn’t been seen by the audience yet, but is always talked about. Is that good filmmaking? NO!

Ghost Volvo! Golvo! Ginger, there in the trees, old man! Dumbass. Now she’s after Churl! OH NOES! Get the ginger, Team Jacob. Do you think she’s leading them into a trap? I THINK SHE IS!

Twilight vamps can not only cross running water, they can swim like motherfuckers.

Ado: Not vampires. CAMPIRES!

Bella’s going to be killed by the sea! Yay! Shark ginge! Kill her, end this damn movie! At least Ghost Ed is around to watch.

Grey Shorts Guy: Hey A-Hole ar going to horrargh ver place. Have you seen the financing available on new Volvos?
Bella: [Mumbles]

All the dudes Bella likes are the Hulk. Imagine if she met Bruce Banner. SPAFF!

Bella is such a ho bag. ‘You’re so special! Also, I hallucinate about Ed like all the time. Lets knob and I can hallucinate his face on your piece!’

Ado: Abstinwhore did done goned did a breathe!

Psychic vampire is not a character. Sometimes I wish I was a walking deus ex machina.

Psychic lass: #Bella, what is that awful wet dog smell?’
Bella: ‘MY THATCH!’

Better wolfvampbint threeway! Psychic vamp is a better Ed. Me: What month is it now? Gazz: Mopetober

Shit, this is the first time in an hour we’ve seen Jake with his shirt on! 5 to 1 that he’s topless in the next film. Bella should knob Jake, he’s much better.

Stuff happening! Psychic: He wants to die too! Us: SO DO WE!

Is that a Volvo? WHY YES IT IS! Bella has her own plane. It’s a Virgin Atlantic. FNARR!

Brian’s back! Get in there, Brian! Camp, camp Brian Clough. Are the folks in Engerland? They’ve nicked our road signs. It’s apparently italy. With Brian Clough. They’re also driving a Porsche, so you know it’s Italy.

FUCKING CLOWN SHOES! None of this makes sense! ‘You go, because he can read my thoughts! Even though he saw you dying half way across the globe!’ Ed’s suicide plan is gash.

SHUT UP YOU MOPEY TWATS! You make no sense and we can’t tell what you’re saying.

Bella – still a virgin whore. What are we betting that the little girl vamp is like 800 or something.

WORST MUZAK EVER! I bloody hate these damn boring vampires. BRIAN CLOUGH IS BACK! Brian: ‘ANwo Anctante!’

Ado: This is the best bit of the film! Look at Brian emoting! I’d forgotten that people could do that! He actually changed the tone of his speech! Amazing!

FIGHT! It’s fast in slow-mo. Nobody knows why they’re fighting. Probably for ratings. SMASH HIS PRETTY FACE IN!

For a soulless vampire, Ed is one depressing bastard.

INTO THE CLOUGH EYE! What’s in there? A crap scene where Bell and Ed have a nice run in the woods. We know Bella is a vamp because she FAILS TO FALL OVER.

Ed: Sorry I fucked off forever. It were for your own good
Bella: …
Ed: Whormble wardhe
Bella: …
Ed: …
Bella: My donna wo change me
Ed: [waffle]

Gazz: If you become a vampire, you automatically lose your hymen. Incidentally Bella is more of a son than you ever were, Ed

Woop! Jake and Ed meet! Jake has lost his shirt again. Jake has introduced an exciting contrivance that will stretch this out for another movie at least. Bella tells Jake she’s been stringing him along. I’ll bet Jake keeps sniffing around her though. Damn Bella’s fickle heart! So many hot dudes want to do her, and she can’t decide who gets a ride.

Ed: Wait five years, then I’ll make you a drawback free vamp.
Bella: No
Ed: Marry me then

END. Thank fuck that’s over!

No wait! There’s a stinger after the credits! It’s Brian Blessed as Ghengis Khan! He’s come to set all the main characters on fire for being boring mopey assholes! Look at all the blood! best stinger ever!

That was bloody awful. I hate you all. Goodnight.

Stuporcollider – Now Available IN YOUR EARS…

Cloud 9 to be exact...

Two magpies crossed my path on the way to work this morning. Now I’m not typically superstitious but I had been planning on uploading the first of my new music podcasts today (OK, I had planned to put them up at the weekend too but I love me some procrastination), and I suppose this could be seen as a good omen.

And yet a better omen became apparent through twitter. 6 Music has been saved. Faithful readers (and the people monitoring my web use) will recall a klaxon call from these very pages, rallying music lovers everywhere to fight for the only radio station playing even half-way decent music in the UK.  Well the BBC trust have seen sense and agreed that ‘the case has not been made’ to close the digital station due to “significant public support for the service”.

I can think of no better day to try to launch the first stuporcollider podcast, highlighting new music. So with that in mind…

[Sneaky Neil edit] If you wanna download the mp3 of the podcast, you can do so here. Because we love you.

Saving 6 Music

The BBC and I are no longer as close as we once were. First there was that whole homeopathy thing, and now they’re threatening to kill off 6 Music. Mark Thompson, Director-General of the BBC and all round twat has been steadily decreasing the cultural value of the once-proud institution, and now he is recommending the closure of 6 music and the Asian Network by the end of 2011.

For the last 6 months or so I have been listening to podcasts of some of the finest new music, and classic, iconic songs from people that actually understand music. Radio 1 is at best an infuriating alternative and at worst a festuring turd polished up and sold to you as popular music. You’re not 3008, I won’t poke your face and it’s definately not Bonkaas, it’s shit. FACT.

The report states: “Given the strength of its popular music radio offering from Radio 1 and 2 and the opportunity to increase the distinctiveness of Radio 2, the BBC has concluded that the most effective and efficient way to deliver popular music on radio is to focus investment on these core networks.” I tend to agree more with Eddie Argos; “The record buying public shouldn’t be voting.”

Surely the whole point in championing new, independant, music is precisely that it isn’t yet popular since the record labels hosting the talent can’t afford the publicity and air time for a radio 1 heavy rotation that seems to go hand in hand with chart success. Some songs I’m not going to like despite how many times you play it, ok. I think the RATM thing over Christmas showed that there IS a musical revolution happening, sick of Scowell’s chokehold on our music, and this is  why 6 music is so important.

Luckily the gallows are not on the horizon (metaphorically and musically) for 6 Music just yet and there is plenty we can do to help save it:

  • Listen to it. Pretty obvious really but some estimates already suggest thet the listening audience has already doubled since the news first broke. If you can listen to it through the iPlayer, even better, as this is one of the key measures of the stations success
  • Sign the petition to BBC Chief Sir Michael Lyons.
  • Use 36 Degrees’ template to contact the BBC trust
  • Email your thoughts to :-

srconsultation@bbc.co.uk
michael.lyons@bbc.co.uk
richard.tait@bbc.co.uk
jeremy.peat@bbc.co.uk
mehmuda.mian@bbc.co.uk
david.liddiment@bbc.co.uk
janet.lewis-jones@bbc.co.uk
rotha.johnston@bbc.co.uk
patricia.hodgson@bbc.co.uk
alison.hastings@bbc.co.uk
anthony.fry@bbc.co.uk
diane.coyle@bbc.co.uk
chitra.bharucha@bbc.co.uk
trust.enquiries@bbc.co.uk

  • Change your twitter avatar using the twibbons.
  • Join the Facebook group

And if none of this works?

Turn off your radio…

epic.LAN – Day 2

Late start today, funny that, but we’re all up now and we’re McD’s breakfast fuelled for fun (the Jolt Cola helps too). The story of our morning will be with you shortly, so get off the edge of your seats…

10:00
Wake time involved being hit in the head, as the ear-lugs are far too effective.

10:30 to 12:30
After hopping to my machine, still in the sleeping bag, we resolved to get Gazz on line once and for all. Owen had brought his Mac along, in place of Gazz’s now discarded machine. Cue much derision from every passing person and the supplier of said machine becoming increasingly defensive. Then we tried every Windows DVD we had so that it would take it, we got a long way with XP Media Centre Ed. then had to change discs and the Mac doesn’t have a hardware button to eject the disc (nice going there Mr Jobs, looks nice but functional it ain’t). We got there eventually though and now Editor Hayes is well on his way into the ARG, catching the leaders who had a head start due to their good performance yesterday.

With the help of Gazz’s 1.5TB external drive, I sorted out my shares and figured out how to use DC++, then I was away. Hurrahh!!
-Ado

13:00 to 14:00
Gazz is looking at videos to solve his ARG issues, I’m looking at everyone and their mother’s shares and Owen now has the side off his PC. RAM issues, it would appear, causing inopportune Blue Screen issues at random intervals. So the second member of our party has PC problems, that makes 2/3, I’m ow feeling rather lucky to have a functioning machine, but don’t want to curse it. Anyway, he seems to be running now, but reduced to 4GB RAM from his initial 6GB.

The next game I’m looking forward to is TF2 at 17:00, preceded by 1 hour of CoD:MW, which I don’t have. I have Modern Warfare 2, which we wont be playing as it doesn’t have support for Dedicated Servers at LAN events (or generally in fact), good call there Infinity Ward, you’ve managed to make people not play the latest iteration of one of the biggest gaming franchises at what is surely the fanatical level of PC gaming. Nothings says “we’ve sold-out for the casual audience” like a massive game that’s not played at LANs. Seems like terribly case of foot-shootage to me. After all, what happens at these events tends to effect things elsewhere further down the line.
-Ado

14:15:30
Well I’ve been ARGing since about 12 and am currently 11th of 50, so I still have some work to do to catch the leaders. The last puzzle was particularly taxing, involving autokeyed vignere’s, decoding video clip clues, map overlays and frantic running around the racecourse like the fillies I’m prohibited from spending on. Fun though. The next puzzle seems pretty cryptic, may need sustenance before I tackle it. Also werewolves last night was fun, there are more games due tonight so I’ll fill you all in on that later.
-Gazz

15:30-17:00
Well I finally finished the ARG, some pretty good puzzles, right up my alley. Unfortunately I don’t think I finished high enough to have won anything. TF2 will be starting shortly, and I know Mr Cooper is keen to strut his stuff in that particular forum…

epic.LAN – Day 1

Well… we’re here, we’re alive and we’re set-up… sort of. FYI; I’ve also not showered and have my PJ bottoms on as underwear… Living the dream or what??

12:00 to 13:15
My car wasn’t ready so our learned friend Mr Ashcroft kindly made his way from Manchester to Uttoxeter via Chesterfield. He arrived at 11:00 and by 12:15 we were away (“I hardly even faffed at all” – Ado exaggerated). The drive down was standard, save for the 15 mins in traffic on our Uttox approach in which our dastardly driver was heard to say “…someone better have died, else it’s not worth it”.
-Ado

13:15 to 13:45
Feeling rather famished after the morning’s efforts we stopped in at our favourite American chicken eatery. As we walked in the colonel seemed to have a rather unsettling look in his eye and we didn’t have to wait long to find out why. As we began to order we were all told, in turn, “I’m afraid we have no pieces chicken”… Yep, that’s right, KFC had NO CHICKEN… well for at least a half hour. Bemused but rendered powerless by the white-suited warriors secret special scent, we ordered our burgers and waited.
-Ado

Putting the ass back in fast food
-Gazz

14:00
Arrival at the LAN and initial set-up. Everything seemed to be going so well… until…
-Ado

15:00 to 15:45
PC break-down. The nightmare of every LANer. At approximately 15:00 Gazz changed his power configuration, simply unplugging his base and monitor from the main supply into a 4-gang splitter. Imediately tragedy hit, nothing on the monitor, no signal and no PC :o(

For the next 45 minutes we collectively tried to save her. Plugging the monitor and graphics output in to various different pieces of equipment to evaluated what the problem may be. Trying every different config we could think of but to no avail. The power was on throughout, but no-one was home with-in.

Eventually the monitor sprung to life, connected through VGA (instead of DVi) into another machine. Whilst this was good, the bad news was that the PC was at fault with the most likely suspect being the graphics card.
-Ado

16:00 to 16:30
Graphics being isolated as the possible scupper to plans of LANtertainment, Gazz struck out to resolve the issue. The guy from Kustom PC had arrived with his boxes of goodies, but upon questioning had inexplicably brought no graphics cards… One quick Google search later revealed several component shops in striking distance, a few phone calls later and we had a winner. A GeForce 9600 for £80 and just a spit away. Our chauffeur had to leave for a Motor Head gig in Manchester at 17:00 (and they call me disorganised) so Gazz and he made their way to the jalopy and sped their way to retrieve the requisite part.
-Ado

16:30 to 17:00
Upon their return the task was took in hand with speed (well, WoW Mountain Dew – Gamer Fuel/Jolt Cola (or beer for the men amongst us -Gazz)). The card inserted and the machine powered up, but still nothing. People crowded, suggested solutions, tweaked and prodded but nothing would work. Time of death was declared at 17:05
-Ado

sob
-Gazz

17:05
Our transportation master had to leave, but he would return after the gig and he promised to bring a laptop on which the increasingly unfortunate Gazz could game forth. Until that time, however, he would try his hand at the epic.LAN ARG using the machine now left vacant. That was until that all went a bit squiffey too.

17:30 to 18:30
Thought worry ye not Owen (and laugh ye not at the luckless Mr. Gazz’s plight), after a few epic.ADMIN looks at the browser and a soft reset or two later, connections were restored and displays relit. On with the gaming I say… OOONNNNNNN!!!!
-Ado

18.30-20.00
I don’t play many FPS games, quite a disadvantadge at a LAN event, however epic.LAN has a rather fiendish ARG style treasure hunt to exercise my cerebral muscles. Starting as I have, much later than my fellow gamers, I have no chance of finishing first today; in fact people finished before we arrived. However, the grand prize is won tomorrow, so all is not lost. I am currently up to a puzzle that involves locating areas shown in a video clip, presumabley for letters or clues left there. Unfortunately it is now dark and doesn’t exactly lend itself to clue hunting. I may need to return to this tomorrow.
-Gazz

20.01
Maybe it was the break and the clarity it gave but as soon as I editted this, I went back to the puzzle and it jumped straight out at me. That was the final clue too, until 12 noon tomorrow. Wish me luck 🙂
-Gazz

20:30
Well Gazz is happily playing a bit of Battlefield 2 on Ashcroft’s machine, and me? Me dear reader, I’m sat here waiting for the patch to be uploaded into the FTP for me to apply before I can join in. What was that? Download it you say? Ah yes, well I would but it’s a 2Gb patch from the original disc version I have. I just hope they get it there in time for me to play in the “Big Game” at 21:00. It’s one of my favourite games too, only let down by the lack of “Fritz” to fight. Now I wait in hope…
-Ado

20:40-20:45
Still waiting… and Gazz has moved on to King’s Bounty now. Much more his style I think.
Woot!! They are here, so very relieved…
-Ado

20.45-22.45
King’s Bounty was a little wordy for a LAN game, maybe when I have more time to get immersed it will be fun, just not right now. It’s ok though, the ‘big game’ of BF2 started at 9. Turns out it’s quite good fun to play as the Arabs and kill the infidels.  Right time for a bit of Champions Online to help me stop the trigger-finger-twitch
-Gazz

23:30
Ok, interesting things going on all around, but I’m not involved :o( Counter Strike Source is being played 1v1 knock-out for a trifle as main prize and there’s a group of people playing a game called “Werewolves” over at the other dies of the bar (they’re rowdy but I can’t seem to figure out why or what’s going on). A small number of folks are playing L4D2 and a growing number watching videos of one type or another. Oh and there’s a Trance DJ set on, not my thing but it’s inoffensive enough for me to ignore.

As for your intrepid Stup. Ed.s; After losing patience with the FPS style, Gazz has paid the extortionate sum of £2.99 is downloading Civ3:Complete and I’m doing an install run of Fallout 3. It was either that or Bioshock, as that’s still in it’s shrink wrap, but I was advised to finish one first before starting the other.

You see, it doesn’t matter that we’re not playing against each other, just that we’re all playing here together… ahhhh
-Ado

05:01
And now it is to bed I must go, or at least the floor about 10 yards away. I’ve watched an updated a lot of stuff in this time, prepared my shares for tomorrow and Gazz has played many games of “Werewolves”. I think it may be something you all come to know more about, I’m sure he’ll explain tomorrow. Night night…
-Ado

Why does the media love homeopathy?

Ok, so I’m sure many of you share my vitriol at homeopathy. I’m not going to go into all that again, many people have done it much more eloquently than I. Besides, it wouldn’t do much anyway, after all the BBC* seem to be undoing all my hard work anyways.

Homeopathy was in the news again today, as the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee published their report on the use of NHS funding for homeopathy, concluding that: “Homeopathy should not be funded on the NHS and the MHRA should stop licensing homeopathic products.” Not that you’d know from watching said news.

Now I’m all for balanced journalism and there’s certainly enough of a story to warrant opinions from both sides of the camp, however this didn’t seem to happen. Sure the homeopaths were given their chance to bring up studies that cherry pick their data, avoid controls and have, at best, dubious methodologies, but why was there no scientist allowed to chip in on this issue?

Radio 4 seemed to have an MP in rationalities corner, however all the other reports I have watched or read seem to leave it at the homeopaths explanations, making it seem that there is a substantial evidence base for homeopathy. Let me just remind you all of the facts:

Homeopathy has never been reliably shown to out perform placebo” and “ should not be funded on the NHS

If you want to buy sugar pills fine, just don’t use my taxes to pay for them.

Interestingly the Chief Scientist at the Department of Health, Professer David Harper, seems to think that there could be something in the memory theories associated with homeopathy. It’s ok though, he gets the closest thing to a bitch slap that the committee could muster:

“63. We would challenge Professor Harper’s comment that research funding should be directed towards exploring theories that are not scientifically plausible. Research funding is limited and highly competitive. The Government should continue its policy of funding the highest quality applications for important scientific research determined on the basis of peer review.
64. The Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor John Beddington, has told us in unequivocal terms that he is of the view that there is no evidence base for homeopathy. We recommend that the Government Chief Scientific Adviser and Professor Harper, Chief Scientist at the DH, get together to see if they can reach an agreed position on the question of whether there is any merit in research funding being directed towards the claimed modes of action of homeopathy.”

*Other news channels are available…