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Sunday, June 29, 2003

8:38 PM - And I quote

Jay Leno:

We donít know if Saddam Hussein is alive or dead. We donít know if Osama bin laden is alive or dead. You know what we should do? Send those VH-1 "Where Are They Now?" Send them over there. If they can find the original members of Menudo, they can find these guys.

Link  | 

12:21 PM - ZoneAlarm Pawaa Ap-puu

Zone Labs has updated the freeware version of its firewall software, ZoneAlarm. The new version, 3.7.193, can be downloaded through the app itself. Oddly, at time of writing, the link on Zone Labs' own site is for v3.7.159.

On a side note, Zone Labs has an interesting motto: "We keep hackers out of business".

But if hackers were no more, wouldn't that obviate the need for Zone Labs' firewall software? "We need hackers or we're out of business" would be more suitable, don't you think?

Link  | 

8:03 AM - GalCiv: Chapter III

From a previous GalCiv entry:

Will we persevere?

Answer: No.

In retrospect, I was guilty of not planning before I picked a fight and then compounded that mistake by not stopping the war when I was offered the opportunity to do so.

The Drengin ruthlessly destroyed my economy by blowing up my trade freighters and then blockading my planets with their massive Battleships. They then invaded my planets one by one. The endgame was predictable.

So I started a new game.

Yes, again.

Peace, bro'

Having fared badly as a warmonger, I wanted to play as a pacifist for my new campaign. I still had to resort to violence, though.

The start of the game sees all factions scrambling to colonize planets of decent environmental quality. If you tarry, you may find yourself stymied and unable to expand.

So what it boils down to is you might have to be a tad violent when claiming planets. I had to destroy a fleet of Drengin Colony ships that were heading towards some premium quality planets which I had earmarked for colonization.

Naturally, the Pure Evil Drengin didn't look too kindly on that act and we were at war. But unlike previous games, I quickly accepted an offer of peace when it was eventually offered.

Culture vulture

I ended winning the game with a Cultural Victory through a combination of economic savviness and superb research. I kept researching new tech and selling it off to other races or trading it for new tech ... which I would then sell off to another race.

Take note that you can either opt to take a lump sum up front or opt for small montly installments. I prefer the latter approach since you can usually ask for a bit more. The added bonus is that the monthly payments tend to put a dent in the other race's economy.

Using my mucho moolah, I kept building starbases and upgrading them with trading posts and culture modules. The trading posts generated extra trade income and the cultural modules spread Terran culture. The latter was necessary since I was aiming for a Cultural Victory.

Anyway, I ended up winning quite easily and with minimal loss of life.

In theory, you should be able to win a GalCiv game without resorting to violence. Cool, huh?

Link  | 

Saturday, June 28, 2003

9:04 AM - Sex with the City?

Word of the moment: Metrosexual.

It turns out a metrosexual is not someone who enjoys having sexual relations with large cities. The word refers to a man who expends an extraordinary amount of effort on personal grooming and embraces his feminine side.

I guess it's more polite than "sissy boy."

Link  | 

8:45 AM - Enter the Ninja ... Microman

A quick digi-doodle of Microman Microforce NinjaMicroman.

I got the figure along with CommanderMicroman (Takara took the radical step of omitting the space between "Commander" and "Microman" in order to cut down production costs) on Tuesday. It took about 11 days from HLJ to my doorstep.

I'll post a rambling hard-to-follow review later on but for now, suffice to say I think Takara has a winning action figure design on its hands. There are a couple of QC kinks and some odd design elements but on the whole, this is a magnificent action figure.

Link  | 

Friday, June 27, 2003

4:04 AM - And I quote

Josh Marshall:

All I know is that under George W. Bush the pundits who had no trouble calling Bill Clinton a liar have suddenly decided lying is a very subtle, hard-to-define, complex matter.

Link  | 

2:14 AM - A city so nice ...

Just when you think the world is completely, ah, mucked up and everyone's a rat bastard looking out for their ownselves and no one else, somebody comes along and just shoots that theory down.

Remember the survey about the friendliest and unfriendliest cities in the world? Remember its conclusions? "In overcrowded cities, people were less likely to come to a person's aid."

Well, read this lady's account of her trip to a taping of the Letterman show.

You just have to love it.

(Link obtained from Mark Evanier's blog.)

Link  | 

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

3:24 AM - Fanatics 'r' fun

I'm pretty careful when playing with my action figures but this owner of a Yamato 1/48 Valkyrie is taking things just a wee bit too far:

When I play with the 1/48's, I wear surgical gloves (no kidding) then I return them immediately into the box.

Link  | 

Monday, June 23, 2003

9:40 PM - GalCiv: Chapter II

My first GalCiv campaign went well. Admittedly, I was playing on a Small-sized map with the AI of the other races set at the "Beginner" or "Duh-h, me not think gooder" level.

(At higher difficulty levels, the game is reputed to have strong AI with each faction having its own AI routines. I guess this makes up for the fact there isn't a multiplayer mode for the game.)

I started out intending to play a goody-goody type. What dost thou mean, you ask? Well, GalCiv randomly gives you moral quandaries throughout the game and tracks your responses to situations. Will you be altruistic or ruthless? Caring or inconsiderate?

The alignment factor does make a difference in gameplay as it affects how the other races treat you. F'instance, Lawful Good races would be more inclined to get along with a fellow angel and would be hostile to those with a darker outlook.

There are also some cosmetic differences between the different alignments. F'rinstance, the interface changes with different colours and icons for good, neutral and evil sides.

Each AI faction has a default alignment as well. The Altarians are Lawful Good while the Drengin are Pure Evil. You can also randomly generate an alignment for the AI factions to spice things up.

Unfortunately, the developers neglected to include an option to revert to the default setting. I had to ask a fellow gamer what they were -- he had them memorised apparently -- after I forgot the default alignment setting for the Yor. It's not even in the manual as far as I can tell.

With friends like these

Anyway, I won the campaign through a Political victory. Translated, it means my allies and my saintly self ended up dominating the Galaxy.

This is another reason why GalCiv stands out. Alliances in other 4x games are usually temporary in nature because they tend to promote the "there can be only one" philosophy while GalCiv encourages alliances through allied victories.

But getting into an alliance isn't easy. You first have to earn an AI faction's trust. I was well advanced in tech and kept trading it off cheaply to earn goodwill. That's how I managed to eventually ally myself with the Altarians and the Torians.

Despite the Altarians' exasperating tendency to pick fights with everyone and draw me into their conflicts even when I wasn't prepared for it, my alliance managed to reign supreme.

Sometimes you get the bear ...

My subsequent campaigns didn't go as smoothly, however.

I played my second campaign as a Completely Evil Bastard. I quickly earned the ire of the angelic Altarians who took offense at my dark deeds and they made it their mission to wipe me out. Unfortunately for me, they were reluctantly joined by their allies, the Torians, who also happened to be my main trading partner. So in brief, I lost a lot of trade income and was ganged up on by two factions.

Hello, Mr Start New Civilization button.

The third campaign was worse.

I made the mistake of trying to move too fast. I intended to colonize as many star systems as quickly as possible. Towards this end, I chose to lease Colony ships instead of slowly manufacturing them myself. Unfortunately, the monthly payments on the leases crippled my space expansion efforts as I couldn't afford to do much manufacturing. I got quickly left behind and having learned an important economic lesson, I quit again.

We meet again, Mr Start New Civilization button.

On the warpath

I'm currently playing my fourth campaign. I've increased the AI difficulty so that it's now on the Normal setting. I also maxed out my military attributes as I wanted to try playing as a warmonger.

Eager to put my war machine to the test, I quickly picked a fight with the Drengin and managed to successfully conquer one of their planets. Unfortunately, they were much more adept at researching new tech and were soon dominating the galaxy.

Seeing this, the Altarians and the Torians provided me with surreptitious aid in the form of warships. It wasn't enough. Both my secret benefactors eventually joined me in my crusade against the Drengin but to no avail. The Torians quickly succumbed to a sustained Drengin onslaught and bequeathed their last system to me.

It's just me and the Altarians against the mighty Drengin now. Will we persevere?

Link  | 

9:09 PM - Becks in Kay-El

Beckham should be in Malaysia tomorrow as part of a promo tour for Castrol. Quoting a report from local daily, The Star, Soccernet reports:

Beckham said: `Not many footballers get the chance to visit Malaysia or much of Asia.

`It's so nice to visit new places and meet new people who have such a wonderful passion for football and winning.'

This isn't the first time Beckham has been in Malaysia. He was here when United toured Malaysia two seasons ago shortly after Veron signed.

And I think most Malaysian football fans would be cringing to hear the words "football" and "winning" in the same sentence. Malaysia hasn't had a decent football side since, what, 1980?

Link  | 

7:02 AM - Not from The Onion!

Coming soon: Christian FPS games.

Ralph Bagley, the president of the company producing them, N'Lightning Software, says their games are for those "fed up with the extreme violence, gratuitous sex, and satanic imagery found in many children's video games:"

Yeah, case in point: Pac-man. All those heathen undead chasing around that godless Pac-man (note that Pac-man does not wear a cross) who -- get this! -- consumes those satanic beasts. The horror, the horror!

A sample of a Christian game:

... in its newest game -- "Ominious Horizons" -- the player takes on the role of a 15th-century Christian who fights demons, but without any blood or gore. The forces of evil -- instead of dying -- fall to their knees and pray.

I'm wondering if it will have a multiplayer mode. If so, will there be Christian-style trash-talking? "Oh golly gee, am I ever going to show you the light!"

All kidding aside, I'm glad these hardcore Christians are embracing videogames instead of boycotting them entirely. Troubled by some games? Make your own.

(Link obtained from Slashdot.)

Link  | 

6:50 AM - So unfriendly-wan!

A team of psychologists have determined that Kuala Lumpur is one of the least friendliest cities in the world. When asked about his opinion of the survey, one KL-ite remarked: Go and die-lah!

All right, I made that KL-ite comment up. The survey is real, though. Its conclusions are interesting:

In overcrowded cities, people were less likely to come to a person's aid.

Many of the friendliest cities turned out to be the poorest and least stable.

While I don't spend much time in the capital these days, I think the survey got it right. Most folks in Kay-El are just too busy to help a stranger in need.

Anecdote? I once saw a blind man waiting opposite Bangkok Bank for a mini-bus. I don't know how long he had been standing there. I watched him for ten minutes and realised he would be waiting there for another half an hour. Nobody was approaching him and asking him if he needed assistance. The crowd around him just studiously ignored him.

Now, I'm no boy scout. Far from it. But this pissed me off. I crossed the road, approached him, directed him to the mini-bus he needed to get on and sent him on his way.

Time taken? 10 minutes.

That's 10 goddamned minutes that dozens of KL-ites couldn't bother to take out of their oh-so-busy schedules.

Link  | 

1:26 AM - To err is human ...

.... and I've been extremely human this past month. There are typos all over the damned place.

Link  | 

1:21 AM - Yet more Becks

It's common knowledge New Sunday Times columnist Munir Majid is a Manchester United fan. His column, "The Big Picture," is usually accompanied by a sidebar with commentary about the club.

But Munir Majid is apparently also a David Beckham fanboy. He seems thoroughly pissed Becks has been sold. Munir even goes so far as to suggest the "insufferable" Ferguson will be sacked if United fail to win the "European Cup." (Psst, Munir, it's been the "Champions League" for the past decade.)

He says United got "a rough deal" after only managing to obtain 25 million pounds for the player. I initially thought so as well. But as Peter Kenyon points out, the transfer market is depressed. Few clubs are paying the sort of crazy money they did in earlier seasons. In addition, 25 million pounds is a lot -- especially for a player who was reluctant to sign a new contract. United would've gotten squat if Beckham had seen out the last two years of his contract and walked out a free agent.

Munir also claims "Man U shareholders are none too pleased, and supporters nonplussed." That's contestable, isn't it? I certainly haven't seen any poll results.

But here's one interesting tid-bit: shares in the club's plc rose 3.5 per cent after the deal had been confirmed.

Link  | 

Sunday, June 22, 2003

9:02 AM - The thing about the Hulk

There are a lot of things one might wonder about the Hulk. F'rinstance, why green? Or what are the upper limits of his strength?

But the one question that keeps cropping up is: Why don't the pants get ripped?

Eric Bana's answer:

'I'm as fascinated as you about that,' Bana replies, straight-faced. 'Obviously it's got to do with the fact that otherwise we'd have a large green penis flopping around that diminish the chances of us opening in 4,000 cinemas across the country.

Ah.

Link  | 

Saturday, June 21, 2003

8:36 PM - Got game

A NYT reporter wrote unflatteringly about someone from an organisation he despises and divulges information that was strictly off the record while neglecting to mention his conflict of interest.

You'd think Messrs. Kaus, Reynolds and Sullivan would be jumping all over this. After all, it might make the NYT look bad.

But it's not going to happen.

Why? The article was "only" about a game -- a multiplayer online role-playing game called Anarchy Online.

The player profiled unflatteringly, Richard L. Stenlund a.k.a "Thedeacon", has hit back. (Refresh the page if you get an error message.) He's written to a NYT editor asking for a retraction and a public apology.

He's also got the support of his fellow players. No surprise there. His character is popular online.

But the story gets more interesting. Apparently, the reporter, Seth Schiesel, plays the game as well under the player name "Amis". He also belongs to a faction that's opposed to Thedeacon's. It's irrelevant to the story but it does raise some questions about the reporter's motive for taking the angle he did.

It's a "he says but the other guy says" situation and it's not clear which side is playing fast and loose with the truth here. Still, I thought the reporter didn't look blame-free.

On a side note, I found it strange that Slashdotters would jump all over the guy for playing the game up to seven hours a day. (Stenlund has since clarified that it's "rare" that he plays the game "for more than four hours a day.")

Yah, it's a lot. But the follow-up comments for the original story on Slashdot assumed he didn't do anything else productive before and afer the game.

Isn't it possible he spent the day working his ass off and then spent seven hours just unwinding and enjoying himself?

Is this any less acceptable than vegetating in front of the TV?

Or sucking down beer after beer at the local bar or pub?

If he had spent four hours daily reading would he be similarly castigated?

Once upon a time, comics and comic readers were similarly censured and demeaned. It appears the crosshairs are now on computer games and gamers.

(Links obtained from Slashdot.)

Link  | 

Friday, June 20, 2003

10:22 PM - Pearls Before Swine

I love this strip. But I'll have to keep reading it online since chances of it appearing in local dailies are zero.

You see, pigs aren't deemed culturally acceptable in Malaysia. Muslims consider it an unclean creature but culturally, its very image is deemed unacceptable in this country. Shots of pigs are cut from TV programmes. Porky Pig has not appeared on TV screens since the Eighties.

Heck, the Malay word for pig -- "babi" (pronounced "baa-bee") -- itself is rarely used these days because of the unpleasant connotation. It's been replaced by the Arabic equivalent, "khinzir."

(Factoid: Khinzir comes from the words "khinz" which means "very foul" and "ara" which means "I see.")

I wonder what word they'll come up with when they decide "khinzir" has an unpleasant connotation.

Link  | 

3:18 AM - The only difference

There are only 78 genes separating men and women. What do they do? Some BBC readers think they might know the real differences between the sexes. My favourite responses:

"Men can write their names clearly in the snow."

"Men have an anorak gene, which triggers a lecture on thermo dynamics when asked a simple question requiring a yes or no answer."

"For men, 2am is time for sleep. For women, 2am is time for a discussion about where our relationship is going."

"Men have a gene which makes them blissfully unaware of impending emotional outbursts, but which sometimes backfires resulting in the registering of physical pain."

"Men use I or me when they should use we or us. Women use we or us when they should use I or me."

"If a man knows an acquaintance has given birth to a baby, he will remember the sex and name - if you are lucky. If a woman is told about a birth, she will remember names (first and middle), weight, time, how long the labour took and whether medical intervention was required."

Link  | 

3:05 AM - More on Becks

Manchester United chief executive Peter Kenyon has revealed some interesting details about the Beckham transfer saga.

Apparently, preliminary talks in May with Beckham's advisers regarding an extension to his contract did not have a positive response.

It seems clear United were fearful Beckham would see out his last contract (which had two years to run) and become a free agent.

Anyway, everything now depends on the quality and performance of the players brought in. If they turn out to be misfires -- Massimo Taibi, anyone? -- the Beckham transfer will go down as one of the biggest misjudgements in the club's history regardless of how much financial sense it made at the time.

Link  | 

Thursday, June 19, 2003

5:22 AM - Sano!

A digi-doodle of Sagara Sanosuke from Rurouni Kenshin.

Link  | 

1:19 AM - Becks off, who's in?

It's finally over.

One of the most convoluted transfer sagas in recent memory was completed when David Beckham signed for Real Madrid.

Just how convoluted and wild was it? Hell, add some bad actors and you've got yourself a season's worth of soap opera episodes.

So Beckham now joins a Spanish side filled with superstars of the footballing world. Zidane, Raul, Ronaldo, Figo, Roberto Carlos and now Beckham.

All in one team.

Sweet mother of mercy.

But as Juventus demonstrated so well in the semifinals of the Champions League, Real aren't infallible. A sufficiently motivated team willing to hustle and harass can overcome them.

But what now for United?

Ferguson's got some money in the bag but who's he going to bring in?

The media focus will no doubt be on the Brazilian ace, Ronaldinho. He's inventive and more importantly, he's unpredictable, and that's exactly what United needs in that hole behind van Nistelrooy. However, Ronaldinho has been coy about moving to Old Trafford. He's expressed interest in both United and Real and it appears Fergie's got a, ah, Real fight on his hands to land the Brazilian.

But what about the right wing? Who's going to take the place of Beckham? Solskjaer has been filling in and did so with some success in that second leg quarterfinals encounter against Real. But I don't see him as a permanent replacement.

The BBC has suggested some other potential transfer targets for Manchester United.

Paul Robinson looks the most likely target of the lot. Barthez, an incredible shot-stopper on his day, has also been guilty of some costly errors in the Champions League. Fergie's desperation to land another Champions League title before he retires will likely see another 'keeper being brought in.

Make no mistake, this is a massive gamble by Fergie. Selling off one of your prized jewels while he's in the prime of his career to your main opponent on the European stage wouldn't strike the casual observer as being a tremendously smart move.

But would you really want to bet against the canny Scot after he engineered one of the greatest comebacks to win the 2002/2003 Premiership title?

Link  | 

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

9:54 PM - Bill

The Kedai Telekom clerk I talked to on Friday managed to explain that RM306.87 bill I received.

It all starts to make sense when you consider Streamyx users under flat-rate pricing schemes get charged at the start of the month.

I started using Streamyx on May 8. So that's RM88 right there. At June 8, I was charged another RM88. The bill was only issued on June 10, so that's RM5.87 for two days of use. (It's RM88 for 30 days of use so it's RM2.93 a day.) Add in the RM125 for registration and installation and the total amount comes to RM306.87.

No problem.

However, if the bill for next month is more than RM88, I will get medieval on somebody's buttocks.

Link  | 

Monday, June 16, 2003

6:46 PM - What does this mean?

Thanks to WhoWhatWhen, I've just found out I share a birthday with Ozzy Osbourne.

By sheer coincidence, I saw him staggering around like a senile old man early this morning in the run-up to the Canadian GP.

That better not be giggling I hear up there in Heaven.

(Link obtained from MeFi.)

Link  | 

6:41 PM - Best headlines today

"Africa 'needs anal sex awareness'"

It's not what you think.

"Malaysia Ctrl Bk Hopes Intl Trade Done In More Currencies"

l33t h3@dlin3?

Link  | 

Saturday, June 14, 2003

11:10 PM - Microface

A digi-doodle of a Microman face.

In Microman-related news, HLJ e-mailed to state they've shipped my Microman Microforce figures. With a little luck, I should receive them by the 25th. I can't wait to get my hands on them.

Link  | 

9:23 PM - GalCiv: Chapter I

I finally got Galactic Civilizations yesterday, five days after Gamers Dotcom received confirmation of my payment. That's a bit too slow for my liking.

(You may also purchase the game online and either opt to have the CD-ROM posted to you or just download the game.)

The game comes in one of those great half-size boxes which save storage space. The contents include one CD-ROM, one 48-page manual and two brochures pimping the publisher's other products.

I haven't read through the manual and I probably won't bother as it has been dismissed as inadequate. Mindful of the criticisms, the developers, Stardock, have posted an improved version in PDF format online. (The ZIP file is 2.24MB in size.)

Installing the game was straightforward. The installer dumped about 500MB worth of files on the hard disk.

Doesn't *pause* sound *pause* too *pause* good

Upon launching v1.00 of the game, I was dismayed to find the sound quality was atrocious with frequent pauses during the opening movies. Hey, no problem, I thought, I'll just download the patch.

The patch -- v1.04.059, fact fans! -- is available in the Downloads section of the official site. But you'll first have to register the game with the CD-key on the CD case before getting the 6.55MB Zip file.

Fortunately, I no longer had problems with the sound frequently pausing during playback of the movies after I patched the game.

Unfortunately, I no longer had sound during playback of the movies.

The debug.err file in the installation directory logged an error when initialising DirectSound but I don't have audio problems with other apps and games so it must be GalCiv-specific. A check with the forum on the official site revealed others had the same problem and it wasn't related to the OS or the codecs. The developers are aware of the problem so hopefully a fix will be coming soon. In the meantime, there's a workaround ...

Stardock Central

Stardock have created a killer app for fans of the game in the form of Stardock Central. It's a standalone program that's only downloadable after creating an account on Stardock.

You can use it to register the game (oddly, there's no way to register through the game itself), browse the web, chat with developers and fellow fans on IRC, get the latest game files (including the updated manual, beta patches and AI tweaks), browse and post on the official forum and even launch the game.

All your GalCiv needs fulfilled through one handy app. Neat.

Interestingly, launching the game though Stardock Central gets the sound working again. Unfortunately, it frequently pauses during movies. Ah well.

What's that line about choosy beggars again?

Sys. req.

The game's requirements are modest. The minimal requirements are a PIII 600MHz CPU with 128MB RAM with the recommended system being a PIII 1GHz CPU with 256MB RAM.

I've started my first game with a Small-sized galaxy and have finished just over a dozen turns. However, the performance was ever-so-slightly sluggish on my Celeron 900 rig with 256MB RAM onboard. If the game seriously bogs down during the end game, I'm going to switch off most of the multimedia frou-frou as that's supposed to make things easier for owners of lesser machines. (The game designer, Brad Wardell, reports he's managed to play it on a 266 laptop!)

More GalCiv in later entries. But in the meantime, there's an excellent user-written review by "Nicholas DeLillo from New York" on PCGameREVIEW.com. It's preceeded by a pretentious, typo-filled and needlessly nitpicky review from "John from Halifax". John's poor review is still nowhere near as clueless as that embarrassing Computimes review, though.

Link  | 

Friday, June 13, 2003

4:28 PM - We are experiencing technical difficulties

Dave Barry has been having some problems with his computer. Having had my fair share of bizarre computer problems, I can empathise.

F'ristance, I had to manually change my BIOS settings every time I cold-booted for two weeks because my PC would forget its settings. I believed it was due to a dying CMOS battery and was about to get a new one when mysteriously, the problem cleared up by itself last week.

Forget tech support. The next time I have PC problems, I'm getting holy water and a Catholic priest.

Link  | 

Thursday, June 12, 2003

9:32 PM - To Kedai Telekom, James!

I need to brave Kedai Telekom again tomorrow. I received an e-mail from Telekom Malaysia today stating my Streamyx bill was available online.

(As of this month, Telekom Malaysia has started sending out e-mail notices about their billing system to supplement the regular bill sent through snail mail.)

I was shocked to discover I was billed RM306.87 for the month of June. I expected an extra charge of RM125 for installation and registration but I couldn't understand why I had been charged RM181.87 for my monthly usage fee. I only had Streamyx installed on May 8 and I had signed up for the Home 88 plan which meant a flat-rate of RM88 per month which meant I should've been billed RM88. Where is the additional RM93.87 coming from?

Those Kedai Telekom personnel have some explaining to do tomorrow.

Link  | 

1:46 AM - Microman

A quick digi-doodle of Spy Magician.

In Microforce-related news, the new figures have received glowing reviews from US-based toy fans. TakuTank and Paul Lorphanpaibul have reviews up.

Link  | 

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

6:48 PM - From the land of the clueless

Ladies and gentlemen, I present the world's worst Galactic Civilizations review. The author spends half the review talking about background fluff and then compounds this error by neglecting to talk about the game's main strengths.

It wouldn't be so bad if GalCiv was a high profile game from a major publisher and had a million-dollar ad campaign to hype it up. But GalCiv is one of those great games from a relatively unknown company.

I'm not saying it should have been a positive review. But it should have been a comprehensive review.

Instead of talking about the AI and the extensive diplomacy options available, this ding-dong spends time describing the alien races.

How stupid is that?

Given a choice between talking about the AI routines for the aliens which took months to polish (and is one of the main strengths of the game) and the backstory which would have taken, oh, all of five minutes (if that), which would you choose to write about?

Then there's this:

Galactic Civilizations is suitable for those who seek a less challenging strategic planning game,

Less challenging? Wait a minute. In an earlier paragraph:

Iíve played the game several times and I am still nowhere near the top (it may be that Iím a lousy strategic planner).

That would have been a golden opportunity to speak about the game's challenging AI but oh no, Commander Clueless doesn't think of it.

Jeez.

Check out my earlier entry for some useful GalCiv links.

Link  | 

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

8:09 PM - Raise those eyebrows

HobbyLink Japan is not only selling Satan but offering a 60 per cent discount as well.

Link  | 

7:36 PM - Zot!

A digi-doodle of Scott McCloud's Zot!

And yes, I really enjoyed reading that online comic.

Link  | 

7:18 PM - The Dope on Islam

A Straight Dope reader asks an incendiary question:

I'll get right to the point. Why is the Islamic world so backward and ignorant?

Cecil Adams ("the world's most intelligent human being") prefaces his answer thusly:

Let's watch the glib generalizations, Bud. The Islamic world isn't uniformly "backward and ignorant." (And these days less than a fifth of its population is Arab.) Among the relatively nonignorant, nonbackward parts are Turkey and Malaysia, which, while not without their problems, have made considerable strides toward what Americans understand as modernity.

Read the rest of his answer. He makes some good points.

Link  | 

6:54 PM - ‹berman

What if baby Kal-El landed in Germany? MeFi reader George_Spigott reports there was a Saturday Night Live skit that explored the disturbing (yet comic!) possibilities:

Lois-equivalent: Can you see through my clothes, ‹berman?

‹berman: Yes! And through his clothes too. He's a Jew!

Other guy: No, no! My parents were very interested in hygiene...

Link  | 

6:02 PM - The Malaysian way

apathy ...

apathy ...

apathy ...

apathy ...

apathy ...

OVERREACTION!

OVERREACTION!

OVERREACTION!

apathy ...

apathy ...

apathy ...

apathy ...

apathy ...

Link  | 

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

11:26 PM - Tabs

I love tabbed browsing.

One browser window. Multiple sites.

I read one site while another site loads in a background tab.

It's neat and efficient but it can lead to some ... odd moments.

A couple of days ago, I was back and forthing between pages from Scott McCloud's entertaining (and free!) online comic, Zot!, and pages from "20 days in spring," one artist's uncompromising view of the Iraqi War.

*reading Zot!*

Ha ha! Excellent! Yeah!

*loads next page and switches tab*

*reading 20DiS*

Omigod ... that's horrible. How depressing. The poor thing!

*notices the next page of Zot! has completed loading, loads next page of 20DiS, switches tab*

*reading Zot!*

Wow! Cool! Heh!

*loads next page, switches tab*

*reading 20DiS*

How could he have said that! What a complete utter bastard!

...

Needless to say, it felt a bit schizophrenic.

Fortunately, I can handle that sort of thing.

(And so can I!)

Link  | 

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

7:00 PM - Oh, the humanity!

Derek Kirk Kim strikes again with another terrific online comic. This one, a look at the future of humanity by extrapolating from its present state, is shorter but no less satisfying.

("Shorter but no less satisfying" ... isn't that also the slogan of the Anti-Enlarge Your Penis Brigade?)

I've also been enjoying Zot! by Scott McCloud. It's a wonderful blend of personal, intimate moments and superheroic men-in-tights ack-shun!

Link  | 

6:16 PM - The light at the end of the tunnel?

I don't want to jinx this but I've been getting very stable Streamyx connections for the past two days. I've experienced none of the frequent disconnects I suffered before.

Thanks to reports by other users suffering the exact same problem, I've pretty much eliminated the modem, the drivers, the OS, the dialer and line quality from the list of suspects. It was something on TM Net's end.

Surprise, surprise, huh?

But let's give credit where credit is due: TM Net is doing some upgrading work and this might be why my connection is much more stable now.

I've also noted my IP address has changed from 219.94.*.* to 219.95.*.*.

Ominously, however, the Banting node is due for some upgrading on June 8. I hope that "upgrading" exercise doesn't screw up this surfing nirvana I've achieved.

If things stay stable for the next few days, I'll reinstall Neverwinter Nights and get into MP gaming again.

(Previous Streamyx entries: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

Link  | 

Monday, June 02, 2003

6:10 PM - He lives!

Mohammed Saeed Al-Sahaf, the former Iraqi Information Minister dubbed "Comical Ali" because of his comical proclamations and the fact he isn't named Ali, has been found alive and well. Can't wait for the book and the movie. The action figure is already out.

Link  | 

5:43 PM - WMD, here WMD, c'mere boy

Common warmonger tactics to deflect criticism about the WMD:

  • Call anyone who doubts the existence of WMD "Saddam sypathisers." Piffle. One can be against Saddam yet be sceptical about the presence of WMD in Iraq.

  • Cite examples of Saddam's thuggery. Saddam's thuggery is not the issue here, is it? People are asking if they were deliberately misled by the warmongers.

  • Call critics "anti-American" for not mindlessly accepting the official American line. One can be sceptical and critical of American policy without being anti-American.

Meanwhile, the cartoonists are having a field day with this. I particularly liked the works of Chris Britt, Ken Catalino and Stuttman.

Rob Jung's compiled some interesting quotes. Jung's reaction to the "Saddam had them but he destroyed them" theory:

So, Donald, you're telling me that Saddam Hussein, the Butcher of Baghdad, the Numero Uno Axis of Evildoer, a guy so vicious that he not only gassed his own folks but also tried to take out GeeDubya's dad, when confronted with 300,000 troops amassing on his border for what's obviously going to be a war for his head, decides to be a nice guy, destroy all 500,000+ tons of his WMDs, and let the U.S. forces stroll into Baghdad without even a by-your-leave?

Link  | 

11:10 AM - Smarty-pants

Gregory Robert Smith intends to be the President of the United States.

He has just graduated from college.

He's 13 years old.

CNN reports:

"When I was very young," Greg says in one videotaped speech, drawing laughter from the crowd of about 11,000. He waits for silence and begins again: "When I was very young and witnessed the video accounts of children suffering from disease or malnutrition, separated from their families or subjected to violence, I knew I had to act. I was just 7 years old then, but I was certain that there must be a way that I could make a difference."

The only important, life-changing lesson I learnt as a 13-year-old was to never, never go to bed with zippered pants without wearing underwear.

Mr YKK Zipper is evil and hungry.

(Link obtained from MeFi.)

Link  | 

Sunday, June 01, 2003

10:56 PM - Over-Run

A digi-doodle of Supercon Optimus Prime's Mini-con sidekick, Over-Run. It still needs work but it looks like a decent representation of the toy.

Link  | 

3:53 PM - Seen on eBay

I really should get a grip.

But I can't help myself.

Yep, it's another Microforce post.

An eBay auction has some great shots of the new line. The seller only counts 23 points of articulation but fear not! That's only because those double-joints for the shoulders, knees and elbows were considered single joints. There's 30 points of articulation as hyped.

There's also a size comparison with a repro barefoot Microman and a Star Wars figure.

Link  | 

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