Category Archives: Ramblings

Obituary – MacBook Pro (2011 – 2016)

We remember today not just a beloved design icon, video editor and avid gamer, but also my closest companion through thick and thin. At five years old, standing taller than fifteen inches, always feeling lighter than two and a half kilograms, the absence of your sturdy chassis pressed against my shoulders will always be felt. It will always be said that you died doing what you loved the most – running Final Cut Pro while I edited a World of Tanks gameplay video compilation. Your absence will leave a space on my desk, a hole in my backpack and a problem on Saturday when I have to visit Woody for the EU WoT League Grand Finals. Bugger.

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Something Old, Something New

Let’s get it out of the way now, right at the top – “That Dragon, Cancer” is not a video game in the same way that The Stanley Parable, Gone Home and Kentucky Route Zero are not video games. You may sit at your computer with your keyboard and your mouse and control them just like video games with video game-like graphics and sounds, but they are not video games.

Don’t get me wrong, saying they aren’t games doesn’t detract from their value in the world in any way what-so-ever, but they aren’t video games and no-one should be calling them that – especially video games reviewers.

Oh dear. Too late.

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Preservation Versus Piracy

I spent most of yesterday setting up my own World of Warcraft server. With a little Linux knowledge, a HowTo guide and a MySQL server, I compiled, configured and populated a little private server for myself and a couple of friends I used to play WoW with ‘back in the day’. Some people would immediately accuse me of piracy, and they do have a point. The license agreement I signed up to when I first fired up the European Open Beta precluded me from ever using the World of Warcraft client software with any servers other than Blizzard’s official paid-for ones, so I’m definitely in an “actionable position” right now, albeit a civil one rather than a criminal one. It’s arguable that a combination of the WoW client being available on any torrent site worth it’s salt along with freely available server software is a pirate’s dream, and that by doing this I’m being nothing but a Freetard. Those people who think that can go f*** themselves and stick their short-sightedness up their backsides.

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Propaganda Redefining Theft

A new advert caught my eye on TV today, part of a £3.5m government initiative to discourage piracy. I don’t know if you pay attention to such things, but anti-piracy initiatives have always been somewhat economical with the truth about what piracy is and how big an effect it has on the world’s artistic output.

This particular advert is no exception. This animation depicts YOUR piracy as the sole destructive force that’ll bring about the end of all creative output in the world, closing down cinemas, preventing all future music releases, bringing our bookshops to their knees and wiping out the video games industry. Uh-huh.

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Rebooting Masterpieces

Creativity and new ideas are all well and good, but that’s never stopped some folk from watching a film and thinking “I could’ve done that better”. Sometime’s they’re right – The Thing, Batman Begins, Ocean’s Eleven, they’re all masterpieces reborn of films that were merely good to start with. But what happens when a franchise considered a masterpiece in it’s own right gets given the reboot treatment by it’s own director?

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Innovative New Ways to be Trolled by Windows

I own a Windows phone. Stop laughing, it made sense at the time – the battery lasts me about three days on a single charge, the turn-by-turn navigation is excellent and it was the only screen sensitive enough to work through my armoured bike gloves when I bought it unlocked for £140. Yeah, not laughing now, huh?

This morning, my 6:15am alarm went off as normal, I pressed Snooze as usual, rolled over and went back into a miserable, fitful doze, knowing that the last day of my current work contract was about to start. 30 minutes later, I’m awake and wondering why the 10-minute snooze alarm hadn’t gone off. Turns out my phone had crashed when I hit the snooze button. Had to hard reset it to get it back on. The image above? That’s the time and date displayed on my phone as I started writing this – you can’t tell from the pic, but it thinks it’s 2014 again.

I wasn’t late for work, but nice try Windows. My 6:15am alarm going off again as I got on the tube on my way into the office was a nice touch.

Windows-To-Go Just Goes

As part of my initial testing regime, I thought it worth giving Windows performance a crack at this setup – all the good performance measurements are Windows based and measuring AMD performance under Linux is like asking how long a piece of string is. Not wanting to wipe my Mint installation or mess around installing an internal hard drive, I thought I’d take a shot at running a live Windows installation of a USB3 hard drive. Yet again, I have found myself undeniably impressed by an OS.

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Oculus Rift Recommended Specs Released

A post on the Oculus VR blog has revealed the recommended PC specs to run the consumer model of the VR headset. They include an i5-4590, 8GB RAM and either a GTX 970 or an R9-290. Given that rendering for the consumer-spec Rift means pushing 2160×1200 at a constant 90fps, it’s no surprise that the graphics card requirement is fairly high-end. However, more interesting (and inflammatory) has been the announcement that Linux and Mac development have been “paused” to allow Oculus VR to concentrate on released a finished product on the Windows platform first. Oddly enough, some Linux users are upset about this.

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Security Procedures

My attempt today to purchase the parts I need to build my Steam Machine has been thwarted by Lloyds Bank. After a painless and pleasant experience on the phone with my supplier, the full list of parts and services I required was all set and ready to be paid for. They directed me to their website to do the money thing, I entered the secret code I was given and completed the account authentication I was asked for.

Payment Declined.

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Sleight Of Hand

My console-priced mITX PC build spec is pretty much done, and my plans for assessing it’s performance are now being formed. However, I’m loathe to spend £330ish on something purely for the sake of building to a price point. Proving that it’s possible to build a small, quiet PC that performs like a console for the same money is one thing, but I’m still building a PC here – I have my own standards to live up to as well, but no matter – I have a cunning plan!

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