A little corner of the Empire on the web.

18 December, 2005

Hot scar action!

So, just in case anyone had any morbid curiosity and wanted to see my chin scar and its 9 stitches, I've just added a new photo album containing some views of what's left of my chin after the unfortunate incident!

Random memories from that day:

  • everyone at work saying "What are you doing here? Why aren't you at home?",
  • the nurse at work "Woahh, that's a deep cut!" and "You need to get that looked at in hospital"
  • text message from Mum "silly boy"
  • the nurse at the hospital (while taking my blood pressure, blood oxygen and pulse) "You must work out" (after saying that a good resting heart rate is between 50-100 bpm, then turning round and seeing that I had 54bpm :) if I'd had slightly more blood left in my system, I might have recognised that as a possible chat up line!

In other news, play my game! Already played it? Play it again!

16 December, 2005

Play Connect 4 in MSN Messenger!

My first entry to the MSN World's Best App competition, an online, multi-player version of the classic Connect Four game, has just made it through the checking process and is now live on MSN!

Please try it out, have a game with me, or anyone else you know on Messenger: Just click here to play multiplayer Connect Four! (requires Internet Explorer and MSN Messenger) Please play it as much as you can, and if you have any comments, questions about it or problems with it I'd be very grateful if you could please leave me feedback on my MSN Space.

Thanks, and please play it as much as you can, every time you launch the app counts as a vote for me :).

Oh, and if you've got your own MSN Space and you'd like to spread the word, just click the BlogIt! button to put it straight on your Space.

So... not the best day I've had lately

So I was riding my bike to the station yesterday morning, when I suddenly lost all grip on my tires, the bike slipped out from under me, and I ended up sliding across the tarmac on my face.

On the upside, my cycle helmet is totally unscratched, undented and untouched.

On the downside, I spent the morning in St Bart's Hospital getting a load of X-rays taken, various parts of me prodded, and I've ended up with my left arm in splints (possibly fractured wrist) and I have 9 stitches on my chin!

11 December, 2005

MSN Compo Entered!

Have finally got round to submitting my first entry to the MSN Messenger World's Best App Contest. Thanks to everyone who's helped me out with the testing of this one and the little test apps, especially the people who pointed out my bugs mistakes deliberate errors.

Just got to wait for it to appear now, and see how the world takes me!

Me me me!

So I was bored and did a few Google searches on "my-name is" here's the results:

  • James is bribing me with chocolate
  • James is a COUNTERFEIT!
  • James is also a mail application platform
  • James is based upon the Apache Avalon application framework
  • James is not writing about how to become a Christian
  • James is as forthright as an Old Testament prophet
  • James is offering you a free MP3 Download of an unreleased holiday song
  • James is a native New Yorker and graduate of New York City public schools
  • James is currently a Distinguished Writer-In-Residence at New York University
  • James is a professional speaker, author and relationship coach
  • James is also the coordinator for the Intranet Peers in Government group
  • James is not a King James Bible

Hmmm, and that's just from the first page.

  • JPB is also not willing to take the risk
  • JPB is required to publish the goals in the newspapers
  • JPB is unable to accept an Order for goods due to insufficient stocks
  • JPB is advocating "concentration camps" for the poor using similar justifications to Nazi Germany
  • JPB is developing a publishing model that invites creative professional partners
  • JPB is forming a new trio that will go on tour summer 2006
  • JPB is open Monday through Friday form 9:00 am to 5:00pm
  • JPB is not proceeding with this AGREEMENT
  • JPB is operating within the budget forecast for this period
  • JPB is a network-aware worm that has distributed denial of service and back door capabilities

And that lot are just plain strange!

17 November, 2005

Webstats weirdness

So I was looking through all of my various online web stats, starting with Google Adsense (conclusions so far: pointless on this blog, making a small amount on other sites). Then on to actual web server stats...

So on my main domain, the main search terms sending people to me?

  1. gnome pictures
  2. uk nympho
  3. nympho maniac
  4. gnome fans

I just wonder whether there's any cross-over between those two groups!

01 November, 2005

So, Javascript is a workable programming language!

I've used a fair bit of JavaScript code in the past to add client-side flourishes to web-pages and build simple, calculator-style apps, but I've never really done anything very complex with it before.

I think that probably the last time that I tried writing any serious kind of an app using JavaScript was back in the Netscape 3/IE 3 days, and it was very, very painful. Since my apparently futile attempts to work around myriad browser bugs, implementation differences, browser differences, DOM differences (not that I even really knew what a DOM was then, did people call them that then?) and so on, I've stuck to simple work with form boxes, style changes and simple things like that.

Then came the MSN Messenger World's Best App competition, and I'm suddenly in the middle of building a really fairly complicated platform for building simple multi-player internet games, and I'm doing it all in JavaScript. Well, I might eventually build in a bit of server-side persistance with Perl, but that's going to be completely independent of the client-side bits and only really for providing the icing on the cake (I'm even thinking of implementing save-game client-side rather than saving on the server).

So obviously one of my first unconscious choices was, just how hard can I make this for myself? Well to answer that I took a look at my favourite web testing platform: Gecko/Mozilla and realised I couldn't do without all the amazing development, testing and debugging tools it gives you, and decided that I was going to make the core of the program totally cross-browser (obviously this can only go so far with an app that is going to eventually use the MSN Messenger API for cross-internet comms, but I'll be going right up to that line). So we have hurdle one, it must work in both IE5 & 6 (as per competition rules), and Mozilla (to allow me to use my favourite tools) and also Opera (as I didn't feel like leaving it out)!

Next choice, if I'm going to make it run on all three web browsers it had better use standards as far as humanly possible (so that theoretically compatibility should just work, no giggling at the back there!), and if I'm going to code it to W3C/ECMA standards, then there's no point in going half-measures, so no browser specific coding allowed. If it's being coded to standards, without any browser-specific code, then why not pick a decent standard? So XHTML 1.1 loose it is (and by that I mean also testing with an XML MIME type to trigger the totally intolerant strict XML processing mode in Mozilla browsers).

Quick summary of choices made simply to make my life harder, but also more challenging and interesting:

  1. All parts not dependant on the MSN Activity API must work in:
    • IE 5 & 6
    • Mozilla/Firefox
    • Opera
  2. Stick to standards, no browser specific hacks or code paths
  3. XHTML 1.1 loose doctype
  4. Must also work when served to Mozilla with an XML MIME type.

So, I'm not getting much sleep lately!

12 October, 2005

I don't know what's scarier...

Just how clueless the British police are (well the Met anyway), or the fact that this could so easily have been me The Reg: Security pros savage Tsunami hacker verdict

The gist of the story: Typing "../../../" into your URL bar can now be a criminal offence punishable by a £1000 fine, even if there are no malicious motives in your actions.

I mean how clueless do you have to be to think that one simple, curious directory traversal attempt is a full-on, malicious hacking attempt? I do that sort of thing all the time, as well as looking up servers in various places like Netcraft, pulling apart URLs to get the sense out of them, then putting a specially craft version of the URL back in. And most of that is either idle curiousity, or trying to work around the bugs in other people's websites, or work around the bugs in their navigation systems.

Via: Gerv Markham: The Future For British Geeks (2).

09 October, 2005

On the British Film Industry

So, here in the Brit-land, whenever its a bit of a slow news day and the cinema's filled up with American imports, the usual pundits sit up and start bemoaning the state of the British Film Industry. Sure we've had the odd success every now and then. Everyone points to "Four Weddings and a Funeral", and "Notting Hill" but come on, Richard Curtis does not a film industry make. You can add in the 'not quite so nice, but really good' films, like "Trainspotting" and "Lock, Stock", but we're still hardly talking multiple multiplex filling box-office smashes every season here.

Souddenly something happened, a flash of an idea entered my mind. What five things are undeniably cool, lift up any movie from great to amazing, and yet, sadly, aren't native to the British Isles?






Now I'm sorry, but try to name one classic movie of the last fifty years that couldn't have been improved by the addition of a gratuitous Ninja sneaking through the storyline, being all cool, deadly and stealthy? We can all learn from the lessons that the Zombie-filled "Sean of the Dead" tried to teach us.

Can you imagine "Saving Private Ryan" with Jedi storming the beach, leading the charge toward the German pill-boxes, lightsabers flashing side to side so fast that they're just a neon blur? Come on, you can't deny that the film's already twice as great!

Only a small change here, but what if one of the members of the Ring Fellowship in "Lord of the Rings" had a pet monkey that did tricks in the background during the slow bits of the movie?!

Those were big Oscar winning films, now just imagine the effect that a swarm of the walking, brain-eating undead would have on the average dreary, depressing, 'ain't life hard in the North' Brit flick. Think of a group of unemployed coal miners deciding to strip flesh for cash? (I was going to think up a zombie themed name for this film, but couldn't think of any combo of "Full Monty" and zombies that didn't sound like a porn film).

Do I need to go on?

So my final word to the British establishment, start using a bit more prejudice when you're funding films, vote with your wallet, vote for Samurai, Ninja, Jedi, Zombies and (most of all) Monkeys!

PS Final word here, but if there's a Zombie Ninja Monkey in the script, don't even hesitate, just grab your pen and sign on the dotted line. It literally cannot possibly fail!

PPS Final, final word - some dude with a cutlass in his hand, a pistol tucked in his rope waistband, an eye-patch, peg-leg, a parrot on one shoulder and a monkey playing with his tricorn hat just grabbed me and whispered menacingly in my ear, "Don't forget the pirates, young Jim-lad. Arrrrrr." I was just happy he didn't bit my ear off. In reflection I hope that Keira Knightley and her pirate friends can be added to the list.

01 October, 2005

Geek, moi?

So I popped into Toys "R" Us today (the "Eats, Shoots and Leaves"-er in me is really disturbed by the double apostrophes around the poor 'r') and picked up a few things:

  • Sega Arcade Gallery for the Game Boy Advance,
  • Medal of Honor Underground for the GBA
  • Target Exclusive Clone Trooper figure (well acually the UK/European version with a sticker over the bit of text on the back that says "This clone trooper was created especially for Target to celebrate the release of the final episode in the Star Wars saga, Revenge of the Sith."
  • Mustafar Sentry figure

Still, as the shop assistant in Hamley's said, when I picked up the Clone Trooper 3 Pack, "You can never have too many Clone Troopers," (and as an aside, while I was looking for a picture to link to here, its quite amusing that there are clone 3packs on eBay for $50, when you can walk into Toys "R" Us in the UK and pick one up for under a tenner)!

The geek is strong in this one ;-)

26 September, 2005

A Retrospective of Star Wars Galaxies Facts

This is the first of a series of posts of info that I'd previously compiled and posted to my old guild's website. I'm backing them up here in case they go missing (since the guild has!), it will be cleaned up, edited and added to later.

Rage of the Wookiees and Kashyyyk info:

ROTW related Friday Features:

Pilot FAQ (lists the new ships and how to get them, and their stats)

Idiot's Guide to Space Mining

RotW Loot:

A lot of the new random loot drops (from http://forums.station.sony.com/swg/...essage.id=22970 which also has links to other loot and reward pictures)

Master List of RotW Loot

New Kashyyyk NPC/Creature Loot List

Jedi Starfighter Quest and Details and Pictures (note that as this is Anakin's old fighter, and its Darth that gives it out, you'll need an Imp alt to get it)

The Explorer's Guide to the Clone Relics

CU info:

Though it has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate, the SOE Knowledgebase actually has some useful information in it for once, as well as looking at these out of game, remember that its also accesible via Ctrl+H ingame!

SOE KB article 15690: Combat Upgrade Changes: Index

SOE KB article 15691: Combat Upgrade Changes: Weapon Certification List

SOE KB article 15681: How do I /peace out of combat?

SOE KB article 15674: What happened to Battle Fatigue?

The always useful (and little known) Top Known CS Issues - CU - ROTW (and remember that in the Ctrl + H holocron ingame there's also a regularly updated top known issues page with a big button of its own)

Combat Upgrade FAQ

Entertainer Inspiration Buffs

Doctor CU FAQ

Information on CU Armor for Customers

Post CU Weapon Cert List (its slightly different, and has more info than the one in the official KB)

Tuesday Tips, read on through the thread (ignoring trolls) and there's loads of other useful info in there too

Center of Being

Pass-Through Assisting


Take your min damage, add to your max, Divide by 2, Then divide by your weapon speed/modified speed

ie. [(min+max)/2]+elemental damage/speed.

eg 400-800 3.0 speed.

400+800 = 1200

1200/2 = 600

600/3 = 200, your base damage per second is 200 dps.

a 400-800 weapon with 90 elemental damage of 3.0 speed.

400+800 = 1200

1200/2 = 600

600+90 = 690

690/3 = 230 dps

(from weaponsmith forums)

Creature / NPC Con Colours

* Grey - Too low, not worth fighting

* Green - A small amount of experience, should be an easy fight, could be trouble if there are more than 1 or 2 opponents

* Blue - Ideal target, decent experience 1 on 1, but could be tough if there are 2 or more opponents

* White - Even Target 1 on 1; good fight

* Yellow - Dangerous fight; stronger than you, but you might win

* Red - Very dangerous fight. Unlikely you will beat this opponent

* Purple - Certain Death

Main Combat Upgrade Official Docs Index

Misc CU Hints and Tips from the Community

* Remember that everything has changed.

* Treat it just like you are playing a new game and having to learn about it.

* Many of the special abilities are on different timers. Pay attention how long your special abilities take to complete and which "cool-down" groups they are in. Then, you can time your attacks so that while one attack is "cooling down", you can use your other attack to stay in the fight!

* Don't SPAM! Combat is different and you need to pay attention to what is going on

* Know your recoveries!

* Keep an eye on that Action Bar!

* Don't "assume" that specials will do what they did before the upgrade

* Use the Line of Sight, use the -ROOT- Attacks, and make sure before going in understand that your first move my not be the right move all of the time.

* Always consider adding your state recovery abilities on your toolbar for fast access - especially KnockDown Recovery.

* After traveling, make sure to store your vehicle before entering combat. It can save extra wear and tear on it by preventing NPC's and creatures from attacking it if you leave it out in the world

* If you are incapacitated, be sure to turn your auto-attack off while laying on the ground otherwise when you get up your attack will go off and you could be incapacitated again by getting the attention of an angry creature or NPC!

* If you turn combat spam to brief mode (options->misc), you can drag the combat tab to its own window and make it small, you can have a nice view of combat taken/delivered without sacrificing the chat window. To enhance this, set up sentence colorization to your name and you can differentiate yourself from other people in combat

* See your local chef for Dustcrepe and Jaar; they can provide an instant cure for Disease and Poison, respectively. These will be useful to have around for combatants without a Doctor present. Your local chef can also provide Cavaellin Cremes and Starshine Surprise! Both of these will decrease incapacitation time

* Listening to an entertainer for a few minutes will give you a percentage bonus to most forms of experience gain for several hours. New players/characters: be sure to listen to an entertainer or pick up entertainer yourself - it works in camps out in the field too!

* If you're getting lower than expected damage with your typical weapon, swap over to a weapon with the other damage type (kinetic/energy) if you have one. It often makes a big difference

* Watch your action/mind bars! If they drop too far, your auto-attack will shut down and you'll need to re-attack! The fastest way to die is to just be standing there because you didn't realize that you weren't attacking.

* If you have medic skills, using them in a fight can buy you time to get your action bar recharged. If action gets low, slap down heals for a few cycles to give it a chance to recharge; they drain little enough action that your regen will outpace the amount they use, and the heals will mostly counter or even outpace the damage you're taking.

* If your target BAFs, run and gun. The friends will eventually drop away and you can finish your target.

* You can no longer solo a Krayt, so don't try!

* When you see a RED con, it REALLY means you will not win!

* Weapons have Max ranges, use your "roots" and "snares" to your advantage

* Deathblow - Creatures and NPCs who perform deathblow will currently do them every time, and from range. You need to be careful out there!

RotW Concept Art

Thank you, and goodbye! If anyone else has any helpful info to share, go on and reply!

28 August, 2005

Ross Noble

"please overtake quietly - refugees asleep"
- Graffiti on the back of a van

"Show me... show me... show me... Show me where your mother lives!"
- Confused climaxer

26 August, 2005

In the end there can be only one!

Steve's abandoning me then So I guess the time has finally arrived when I have to deal with the muppets on my own.

08 August, 2005

"We Are Not Afraid" campaign spreads to Cowes


Not specifically blogging about that news story, but I've just been away for a week racing a J/109 at Cowes Week (sorry, Skandia Cowes Week 2005 to give its full official title) and the presence of a "We Are Not Afraid" symbol on the side of the Class 0 yacht Nokia Enigma has me in two minds.

Nokia Enigma Class Zero yacht with stickers supporting the We Are Not Afraid campaign
(photo is from the above story in the Isle of Wight County Press)

On the one hand I'd spent the previous 3 weeks working in London every day, and was looking forward to a week of racing, recreation and alcohol abuse where I could forget about any and all world issues, yet this is here forcing world politics to intrude on my time off.

On the other hand its heartening to see that not only can a huge international event like this (over 1000 boats raced in Cowes Week this year, with many of them carrying over 6 crew, some as many as double or triple that) carry on almost exactly as normal despite the happenings in London, but there are also people here proudly displaying the fact that they are getting on with everything and not letting "the terrorists win".

I'm not exactly a Londoner by the classic definition, but I do commute into and work in London every working day (and a few weekends) and I've continued to travel into London and work there every day since 7th July (apart from a week off for Cowes, obviously). Despite the terrorist's attempts to scare us all away I've fought through the crowds, been insulted by security guards, been under constant scrutiny from the Police (City Police, Met Police and British Transport Police), security guards and the general public, and been on constant lookout myself. Yet I still love this City and wouldn't want to work anywhere else.

Some people call it the "Blitz Spirit", some call it typical British pig-headedness and stiff-upper lip resolve - I don't what it's called really, but very, very few people are letting these attacks affect them any more than they absolutely have to, and everyone is back at work as normal and London is still the buzzing, vibrant, multi-cultural great place that it always has been.

05 July, 2005

This one's for Steve

From this year's Big Brother contestants:
Science: "These cups are filthy all the time."
Eugene: "I always drink tea and coffee normally out of a mug, but when I'm around my friends I drink it out of a glass. One of my friends, him and his family, they drink out of pint glasses, everything and including tea."