Friday, June 29, 2007

Just Checking...

Does everyone remember Gordon Brown being around for more than 18 months? :P

Doctor Who supremo Russell T Davies has spoken about his reinvention of classic villain The Master for the current series. Speaking to Radio Times, Davies said: "John Simm's incarnation of The Doctor's nemesis is thoroughly contemporary. Previous Masters seemed to appear on a whim, merely to thwart The Doctor with a throaty cackle."

Referring to the character disguising himself as politician Harold Saxon, Davies added: "The moment I thought of having an evil Prime Minister, I thought, 'That's the key to it!' How much fun would The Master have in that role?"

Yeah - Right!

We believe you Louis!


Is it OK to be ignorant?
Of course it is - with one caveat...
Never be afraid to ask questions if you really want/need to know the answer.
Despite rumours to the contrary there ARE stupid questions, but in my book they are the ones asked by people who need to look like they are interested or need to be political - i.e. the motive for asking is not to gain knowledge.

In a comment somewhere below James claims to be ignorant of all the technological mumbo jumbo that I talk about (where PC innards are concerned). That is all well and good given that he doesn't need to know how they work nor has the inclination to go out there and build one, however I reckon that in today's PC Gaming age, all serious gamers should be interested in getting the best gaming experience from their hardware.

With that in mind here is a link to one of my favourite nerdy sites on the net. There are loads of guides on there written in fairly straight forward English that tell you how to get the best out of what you have got (including the awesome Windows Tweaking Guide) and also a few more idiots guides about what the different technologies do.

The guides on optimising Oblivion and Neverwinter Nights 2 are also really good reads and made a massive difference to us when we used them to optimise our games. I just need a LOTRO tweaking guide now! (The game looks fairly good on my system, but it would be nice to squeeze a bit more out of it!)

Thursday, June 28, 2007


This post serves two purposes...
Firstly - you may remember that I spent a good while winding up Gareth (or maybe Gillian) about Gareth's birthday present - some artwork for his house.
Now Gareth didn't blog anything about this art, so I thought I would briefly mention that it was well received by both parties and that I stuck to my ground by providing both images of lesbians and of animals in unnatural positions! I'll let Gareth clarify how I managed to do that AND not alienate him or Gillian!!!!!

Secondly - What do you buy your daughter for her second birthday? I think that her grandparents are covering off the safe option of a tricycle, and we have more books and soft-toys than we really know what to do with! She already has a farm, a piano and a fairy tree house, so I am rather short on ideas!
I did wander aimlessly round both Toys R Us and a very good toy shop in Kingston and I have no ideas! I feel I want to get her some technology, put preferably not something that plays "The Yellow Rose of Texas" and "Baa Baa Black Sheep" at loud volumes.

I'll continue my research at lunchtime, but ideas are requested!

PS Budgets do not permit me to buy her a laptop, nor can I justify the two proposed PC builds as being her present either!

PPS One of Lauren's favourite pastimes is watching videos of herself on the PC! When I hook our laptop up to our LCD Telly, she will sit for ages watching herself on loop - dancing, sliding, paddling and eating!

PPPS Her other favourite pastime is climbing up onto the PC desk and trying to get the PC to show her videos by hammering the keyboard or mouse repeatedly!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Following my little exercise for the Media Centre PC, it turns out that Serena has been speccing out an upgrade to our primary gaming PC (reasons to follow). An off-hand comment yesterday made me laugh - "we can do a pretty quick and dirty upgrade for £400". That triggered a bit of a debate and it turned out the the £400 "quick and dirty" was really an £1,100 build a new machine and using the existing one as a server!

I laugh because I was worried about thinking about spending £800 on a new machine, whilst all along Serena had ideas slightly higher up the food chain! We now have rough specs for £2,000 worth of PC kit! The only question remaining is "when" (can we afford to put it on the credit card)!

Serena tries to be subtle at times and she is either too subtle (in that I don't notice) or is a bit too unsubtle so that I notice straight away! I much prefer the latter as it causes less arguments.

Anyway she has been talking about a particular computer game for a while now, "look what a good write up it got", leaving various magazine articles open on that particular page or websites open in the same fashion!
When I asked whether we should buy the game she informed me of the cheapest website to buy it from! (BlahDVD - never heard of them before).

Once ordered I had a quick look at the required specs for the game and realised that our laptop wouldn't go near it and our main PC would struggle to display much beyond the lower graphical settings. When I informed Serena, that was when the £400 quick and dirty comment popped out!

There are times when I wonder who is the bigger nerd in our house! The only difference being I am well out of the closet!

PS The game is question is "Lord of the Rings Online - Shadows of Angmar".

PPS Here is what £1,100 buys you:
  • Case (TBD)
  • Power supply (650 W one with good voltage stability)
  • Motherboard (TBD - but there is a good ASUS one with build in WiFi that Serena has spotted)
  • Processor (Intel Core 2 Duo - at least a 6420)
  • Heatsink (the Freezer one that allows good overclocking)
  • Video Card (Pre-overclocked 8800 GTS 640 MB)
  • RAM (2 x 2 GB)
  • Hard Disks (2 of the Spinpoints as seen in the Media Centre)
  • Sound Card (X-Fi Gamer Edition)
  • OS (Windows Vista Home Edition)
  • Keyboard and Mouse (Logitech Gamer Set)

I have the feeling that this could be quite noisy, so the case will need to be well soundproofed!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Move over Gareth

It has be said that I don't post about music and musicians very much. I am no expert nor music nerd! (No offence intended to anyone - I am happy being a Sci-Fi / PC Nerd).

Something did strike me recently that I though I should blog about and then I promptly forgot until now.

I have seen a few "Pop star" interviews on TV recently, followed by supposed live performances of the latest single. Most of them fade into obscurity as they are generally an average guest and sound like they are miming later on. Two have stood out though.

1/ Pete Docherty. The news always portrays him as a complete arse. I am afraid that his interview confirmed it, even though the interviewer (Johnathon Ross) was clearly a fan. Later when he performed acoustically I thought he was terrible! I am not surprised that his band got fed up with him and parted company. Clearly his lifestyle is compromising his ability to perform musically.

2/ Iggy Pop. I always thought he was another one that looked like his lifestyle had killed both his personality and talent. How wrong could I be! His interview with his Stooges (?) band mates was entertaining and informative. Then his live performance in the studio was excellent. He has clearly suffered from lifestyle abuse but he also clearly loves to perform. He got some bad press at Glastonbury for his enthusiasm in causing the stage invasion, but I reckon he just got carried away in the moment! My opinion of him has completely changed!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Blink and you'll have Nightmares!

Clearly too much Dr Who for me yesterday! Not so much nightmares as very weird dreams about being chased!
The scarecrows and the weeping angels are absolutley brilliant as far as malevolant baddies go in my book! It is a shame that the scarecrows were poorly used in the Family of Blood episode.
My hat goes off to Stephen Moffitt though. He clearly is in his element writing for Dr Who.

The three-parter (of which we are 2/3 of the way through) started really well, with Jack back and the strange world at the end of time. I loved DJ as Prof Yana and was only slightly disappointed that he chose to regen! As previously stated John Simms was brilliant. I love a good Ham and Cheese role! (Pun intended!)

What worries me is that the plotline for this trilogy is a bit too abstract and I haven't got a clue as to what is going on and where Martha is going! Some hints would have been nice! So far it isn't as good as the Age of Steel or Ghosts two-parters from Series Two.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Sound of Drums

After a swift catch-up weekend and a re-record of this week's episode following the thunderstorm we are now up to speed and hanging on the cliff!

Blink was great!  Those Angels are going to haunt Serena's dreams for days.  Poor Lauren got a fright too when I paused the episode and it just happened to be the first time you see their fangs.  She ran to Mama for a hug!  :(

I LOVE John Sims as the Master!  I reckon it took him 0.2 seconds to accept that job when the phone rang!

Anyway, more tomorrow I am sure!

Saturday, June 23, 2007


How come we get a thunderstorm that knocks out our Sky DURING Dr Who!

If there is another tomorrow during the BBC3 repeat I may cry!

Friday, June 22, 2007

£30! and a Question

I forgot to include a DVI to HDMI cable on my media centre's list of needs...
They're £30! I must check my little man on EBay to see if he does them any cheaper, as that seems a bit steep to me! I have the rest of the cables I need already.

Question: What should I do with my subtitle / banner area thingummy?

There is clearly no-one even remotely famous round here - I have gotten so desperate for an update that I even check out sporty looking cars when I drive past them to see if there is a celeb inside!!!!

I did think about changing it to Celebrity Look-a-like of the Week, but didn't fancy trying to get a convincing photo on my phone's 2 mega-pixel camera!!!!

I want it to be something that changes frequently... I may just steal my Live Messenger comment theme, which is my variation on "Jesse's Diets" from the Fast Show.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Damn - Missed it!

Yesterday Ebuyer were selling Vista Home Premium for £40 + Free Delivery.
At the time I though this was an error but did nothing about it.
I mentioned it to Serena and she said I should grab a copy whilst it is cheap (RRP £68) so I went back this morning to find the price restored to £68.
At least I got a tax rebate of £300 this pay check (emergency tax codes and all that), which will help clear the holiday credit card bill and help me save the money (now £850) for the Media Centre.

PS I really want to get the snazzy MS Media Centre 7000 keyboard/mouse, but £85 is a bit steep! Maybe for Christmas! I can't seem to buy the 8000 in the UK yet but that is very snazzy too - I suspect that we are talking £160 for that one though (when you compare it to the Logitech equivalent).

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Ideas Above My Budget!

I just had my first stab at speccing out the PC listed below.
In a word "OUCH"!

I then cut back on some of the silly components and got the price down to only £1,000!

Next I took a few executive decisions around quality and performance and got the price down to a Gnat's Whisker over £800. I now feel that I am working in the correct ball-park! I could go lower but then I would be seriously compromising the lifespan of the project.

The £800 system looks like this:
  • Antec Fusion Media Centre Case
  • Foxconn G9657MA - 8EKRS2H Motherboard (has very good on-board sound)
  • Intel Core2 Duo E6420 Processor
  • 2 x 1 GB EBuyer Value DDR2 PC2-6400 RAM (made by Corsair)
  • 2 x Samsung Spinpoint T166 HDJ01LJ 500 GB Hard Disks
  • 8800GTS 320 MB Graphics (ASUS branded)
  • Panasonic DVD-RW
  • Netgear Wireless LAN Card
  • Windows Vista Home Premium Edition
  • Wireless Keyboard and Mouse

Now I just need to save up enough money (as Serena would kill me if I put this on my Mastercard so soon after our holiday)!

Monday, June 18, 2007

New Project

After much reading and pontificating I am starting a new project (home not work).
We are planning on moving house sometime in the next year so that we can be closer to both Serena's and my work, and we could do with at least one more bedroom if not two with the forthcoming family expansion.

Because of the planned move I am not buying any of the technology I would like until I see what space I have to set it all up in. The items on hold include a new gaming PC or Laptop, Amp and Speakers for the TV / DVD and Sky HD.

However I am going to go ahead and start speccing up a media centre. Budgets are still tight so soon after a holiday, so I don't expect to place any orders for a couple of months but this is one part of our home setup I want to get up and running sooner rather than later.

My initials thoughts fall along these lines:

  • Antec Fusion Media Centre Case.
  • Core2 Duo Processor.
  • 2 GB RAM (Single DDR2 SIMM so I can double up later).
  • 2 Hard Disks - One fast for OS and Apps (likely to be a 10k Raptor) and One Big for Media (~500 GB as these are best value atm). I'll add a second media drive later as the case has space.
  • A MicroATX motherboard - undecided atm as I need to see what is out there.
  • A Video Card - undecided atm but must be HDCP compliant on the the video output - doesn't need to be an HDMI output though (DVI is fine) and I am not intending to blow a huge amount on this component as we are not talking high end gaming rig.
  • Creative X-Fi soundcard - for hooking up to an Amp in the future.
  • Wireless LAN if not onboard on the MoBo.
  • Bluetooth (could be rear USB dongle).
  • InfraRed - want this for a remote control - need to do more research on this though.
  • DVD RW (replace with HD drive in future).
  • Wireless Media Centre Keyboard and Mouse.
  • Windows Vista Ultimate Edition.

I'll run ideas for each component past you on here and once it is up and running I'll show off here as well! Feel free to interject at any stage as advice on anything listed is more that welcome.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

376 Emails....

We're back and my inbox is rather full!  Blogging to resume shortly!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


We're all in Barcelona until the 18th June.
Try not to rob our house!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Sad News

It has been announced that Season 4 of Battlestar Galactica will be the last.
Whether there will be spin-offs like Babylon 5 remains to be seen, but the two execs have decided to end the main series on their terms.

I also saw that Eidos managed to get together all the old Lara Croft models for a bit of publicity for the new (crap) LC Game. Which is your favourite?