24 December 2009

Bah. Xmas.

And so yet another Christmas is upon us! "How time flies!" the people becry the old cliché!

I had so many honorable and noble intentions this year, I really did!

Firstly, there was starting a shopping list for Xmas (and I do distinguish Xmas and Christmas) in October of this year, amid rumours that we may be spending the 25th of December in the cold confines of a New York apartment.

As time went by, and the rumours started to gain an unearthly momentum, we started to shop. Shop, shop, and more shop. Window shopping, trinket shopping, senseless shopping, online shopping. It never ended! And then we got confirmation that we were going to New York!

Shopping heated up. Our preparations intensified (while our productive preparations remained slow). We began to book our hotels, changed our departure dates so we could stay home with family for Christmas, and did some more shopping.

Fast forward about six weeks and it still feels like we are on high alert status. Shopping still isn't complete, travel stuff still isn't complete, and we are leaving in two days!!

What makes this all the more troublesome is that we have friends who would have joined us on our trip to the States had we all understood a mutual desire to go, in addition to so many dear friends and family coming back for the precious week before Christmas Day, while we are still nowhere near perfectly planned as I would have liked us to be.

Enter a frantic juggling stage of friends, family, travel plans, and Xmas shopping, and you know where this is going for us.

I'm sitting here with regrets that Kat and I haven't (a) had more time with family, (b) had more time with friends, (c) stopped worrying about the travel and just enjoy being spontaneous, and (d) spent so much on trinkets and trivia for Xmas!

We've had many late nights, very few moments together, and a mishmash of time with the ones that matter to us most.

Hopefully next year (God willing) we'll know to get shopping done in a weekend in October (and stop worrying about stupid obligation presents or waste-of-time trinkets), make time for each other and also friends / family. Maybe also (God willing) we can do another trip and just let it happen!!

Hopefully we'll have both learnt a very valuable lesson from this year, but I fear I'm playing a very old and very familiar tune right now :(

15 December 2009

Continuity Game

Being the avid gamer that I am, I am very saddened at the apparent slow death of modern gaming.

You see, I have a lot of reasons for saying that, but I won't go into them right now, except to say that I feel we're getting too many franchises and big publishers aiming at suckering the "new generation" of gamers into a world of blockbuster titles that have more money spent on promotional material than the actual quality of the game (this isn't entirely true, but hopefully you get the point I'm trying to make). The worst part is, games are promoted so aggressively, that probably most sales for a game are enjoyed from the first week of release and all of the pre-orders, before a game can truly be measured for its quality (or lack thereof). This is in large part due to the hype machine. Do we really need another Call of Bandcraft Sims? I think NOT!

What we DO need, is more indie games like Continuity - go and play it; you'll be enthralled (and if you don't know what to do, give me a shout)!!


The Silly Season

This certainly is the Silly Season. Overindulgence, overspending, and what-not. Our Employee Assistance and Wellness Unit has just sent out a very nice email advising everyone to be moderate and loving and careful this holiday season, which is great... only thing is, my cursed gift of the English language has left me rather bemused at one of their statements, see if you can pick up the very subtle humour in this:

"Behave responsibly if you are consuming alcohol and ensure you do not drive if you are over the legal limit because you could land up behind bars"

14 December 2009

Blackberry Messenger 5 download

Anyone that knows  me probably knows my story about BlackBerry devices. I have owned one for five years now and counting, and over the years I've managed to convince others to take the delve into the Black divide ("once you go BlackBerry, you won't go back" or something to that effect). My most recent handset has been the 8900 Curve "Javelin", and when I migrated from my 8707v it somehow decided that the BlackBerry Messenger on the 8900 wasn't right, removed it, tried to put my 8707v Messenger on, figured it wasn't compatible, and broke. I was stuck without the Messenger, and became the laughing stock of my contemporaries. No matter. I persevered without it, relied heavily on GOOGLE TALK for BlackBerry, and occassionally kept an eye out for an OTA downloadable version for Messenger, which never seemed to be there (with some stupid excuse that it was available on the supplied CD bundled with the phone, or available through the Desktop software, which is both rot).

10 December 2009

CDWOW savings of 12%

If anyone shops with CDWOW - today they are giving away 12% discounts on their e-vouchers. What this means is, you buy yourself an e-voucher, it mails it to you instantly, you redeem it, and then spend it on the item you were intending to buy from CDWOW originally. I just bought HALF-LIFE 2: ORANGE BOX (XBOX360) for 12% less! Entire process took me about five minutes to score the discount!

HINT: for those that don't realise it, see how much the product is, and enter that amount in the e-voucher box and you will get a complete 12% discount, but I think it may be for today only, so hurry! ONE CAVEAT: Voucher takes 24 hours to go live, so you can't spend it until 24 hours have passed... so in truth I have not just bought HALF-LIFE 2 ORANGE BOX, I have to wait another 23.5 hours... :(

Windows Server 2008 R2 complex passwords

One of the new "features" with Windows Server 2008 is the password complexity "security" that ensures you have a complex password on your monster servers. The problem is, this is supposed to be defaulted to DISABLED on first installation, but in my experience, it isn't!

To find out a bit more about what sort of complexity you need to have in your passwords (so you can just darned well log in for the first time to change it), check out this link:

To find out how to fix it once you're logged in, check out this link:

30 November 2009

The Visitors have arrived

Wow, it feels like I'm reliving the 80's all over again, only this time as an adult, rather than a kid. Let's see, we've had Battlestar Galactica redone in a "modern" version (which I thoroughly loved), we've had the Star Wars series "redone in a modern version" (not as great as the first trilogy), we've had Knight Rider (funky intro, just as campy as before), a retcon Star Trek (great), plus so many more, and now... The Visitors are back! I really am excited about this one, if it can live up to the standards of the BSG transformation, it'll be AWESOME!

What's next? Macgyver? The A-Team? No, uh, sorry, that one's already being redone...

Check out the YOUTUBE trailers below... and remember, they are of peace - always!

27 November 2009

Battle of the Bandwidth

ADSL in South Africa ain't cheap... not by any stretch of the international imagination, but it is sure as heck getting cheaper!

26 November 2009

Paint.NET - a great FREE graphics editor

Most Microsoft Windows users will be familiar with the built-in MS Paint application. It's a handy tool for quick editing, but it doesn't let you achieve much more than a very bland and basic "two-dimensional" image. I've been looking for a great tool to replace my old Paint Shop Pro escapades, and something that is ideally absolutely FREE.

25 November 2009

Handy Dishwashing Tips!

Who would have thought that the dishwasher could soon become known simply as "the washer", what with all of these nifty dishwashing uses? Check it out!

Only thing I need to know is - has anyone been able to verify some of these suggestions??


23 November 2009

XBOX360 in South Africa: buying MICROSOFT POINTS

Most people are cheap-skates. Let's be honest, it is most probably every man's innate gift to humankind to want to save a buck. Likewise, it is also probably every man's desire to want to play computer games. Merge the two together, and every man wants to save a buck while playing computer games.

22 November 2009

19 November 2009

Gotta love free food!

God bless Micro$oft conferences!
Still nowhere near as good as XBOX360 giveaways, Parlotones live music, all-you-can-eat candy floss, popcorn, and all-you-can-drink slush puppies.

Why are you here? WHY ARE YOU HERE?

Another COLLEGEHUMOR movie... about the game...

17 November 2009

I like big buildings and I cannot lie

For anyone interested (thanks, mom), I am a huge fan of huge buildings.

I can't even begin to express the joy I'm containing inside me at the thought of going to New York City at the end of this year. If I had any possible way, I'd be going to Chicago too - even if just for a day to admire the buildings. This whole trip is my biggest dream; to witness the biggest dreams in reality! I can't wait!

In preparation for our journey, and to try and convince the missus that we should at least pop in at Chicago, I've been doing some digging for photographs and illustrations of skyscrapers in the USA, and came across some really interesting websites on the whole thing. Read on if you're the engineering type, or like big things...

Star Wars remembers... the Death Star

Let's be honest; when we watched Luke Skywalker pretty much single-handedly destroy the Death Star in Episode IV, none of us spared a thought for the thousands of people aboard the Death Star at the time; possibly some were vehement opponents to the empire, but were just going to work on the battle station as contractors to fix a leaking water pipe so they could feed their families, or maybe they were there to inspect the station's Inter-Galactic Peace-Initiative compliance - no matter, I don't think any warm-blooded kid that's seen this moment in the series wept for the lost lives of thousands on board the station - if anything, we didn't weep, we whooped!

This little YOUTUBE video is a comical look at "the other side" of the story, done in the same vein as "USA remembers 9/11", so check it out, bearing in mind the context is along the 9/11 memorial type of vibe...


... "You're drones! You're drones!"

14 November 2009

Body Language - be the boss!!

In recent times, based on experiences I've had (or rather, suffered), I decided to do some digging to see if maybe some of my body language is the reason why I am not always taken seriously with people that don't know me.

Here are two links that may help you and the way you conduct yourself. For me, thankfully, I don't do most of these things wrong, but I will now at least be much more intentional about my body language as a tool for communication and conveying authority so I can be even more effective and also less doubtful of the reasons for why I am sometimes treated the way I am.

12 November 2009

Save money the "smart" way

For those loyal readers that don't follow anyone else's blog but mine for up-to-the-minute smart, insightful and handy tips for life, I'd like to take this opportunity to advise you all that YOU HEARD THIS TIP HERE FIRST:

HandyTechTips blog has a suggestion on how you can save between 5% to 15% off Woolworths merchandise if you have an eBucks account! Check it out!

Remember: You heard this money-saving tip here first!

Portable screen capture software: Lightscreen Portable

You probably all know about the ALT+PRTSCN and CTRL+PRTSCN functions on your PC, but have you ever needed to do customised screenshots of your computer? Well, you can with Lightscreen!

BrYan's essentials

Good morning world.

Since I am growing older by the day (and minute, in fact), I have decided the only remedy to my onset of dementia is to keep track of information through this blog (which is one of the primary reasons I started this site).

I am starting a new label. It's called "essentials" and it will represent to me, a quick listing of all the essentials in my life. Links to essential lists, and so on. Essentially, it's what I need to have access to in order to recover my life if, for example, my computer were to crash (hopefully not a portent of things to come).

To start with, here's a link to my list of handy portable applications.

11 November 2009

Travelling to the USA

As most of you know, Katherine and I are traveling to the USA for December / January.... in order to get this trip going, we are going to need to have our paperwork in order. One of the requirements for any South African visiting the USA is the acquirement of a VISA for the US. Kat already has one (expires in ten years from date of issue), and I need to get one (as of writing this post, I found my British Passport, so I don't need one, but for the rest of the South Africans, you can follow my advice below)

My name's BrYan, and I'm a British Citizen

Happiness is!

I decided to make one last effort to hunt down my British Passport before embarking on the arduous (and otherwise expensive) application for a US Visa for our trip in December. I decided to go back to my mom's place one last time, and get passport hunting...

10 November 2009

Adding weblinks (URLs) to Google Spreadsheet Cells

This is a documented function within Google Spreadsheet, but I never thought of it before, and had no need for it until recently. Now that I want to be able to have a URL / link for data in a cell, without changing the content of the cell, I use HYPERLINK. Here's how!

06 November 2009

Hot Cans (keep it clean, kids)

If you're already struggling to survive a Zombie Apocalypse, the last thing on your mind beyond running as fast as possible away from the hordes, is eating. This problem only occurs to you once you've found some safe space to hide away for a while, but mark my words - in a full-blown stage 4 zombie outbreak, you're going to need some decent food to keep you going, and the sooner you plan for it, the better.

05 November 2009

My official introduction to the world of game reviewer

Hey! Check it out!

Oltman and I are now officially part of the el33t group (and some have asked what that means, so let me explain: el33t isn't pronounced "e-l-double 3-t" but "elite" as in "elite", but in l33t speech) - go check out our introductions at http://www.el33tonline.com/main/meet_the_team!

Pinnacle Micro becomes Pinnacle Africa

If anyone out there cares about such things, Pinnacle Micro has just announced that they are now to be known as Pinnacle AFRICA. They say they've got a new name, but the same core... well, not exactly "same" core... well, just look at the picture and you'll see what I mean. They're not stonger (sic) than ever...

31 October 2009

BLOGGER new post editor

Have I been living under a rock?

While reading bloggerbuster, I came across this post about a simple "read more" feature that suggested that BLOGGER was doing some updates.

I then went here to one of GOOGLE's BLOGGER help pages about new features to the post bar, and discovered it's true! There are some new BLOGGER features! Now it's just time for me to unravel what some of these things mean...

All I've been able to decipher so far, is that we can now use the "...more -->" tag to automatically open up the rest of the post, and we can also adjust our posts to include or exclude literal HTML commands. Sweet!

Adding reactions to custom Blogger templates

I discovered the hard way that adding a simple Blogger REACTIONS widget didn't work if I ventured into the custom template realm. I couldn't add a quick "micro-comment" reaction option to my blog, even when I tried to use the in-built REACTIONS widget offered by Blogger!

Mmm - champs ass flavour!

29 October 2009

L4D: Lolcats

I would probably have used that BOOMER picture for a TANK, and got a cat puking as a BOOMER, or maybe used a TIGER as a TANK... but anyway...

28 October 2009

Post Apocalypse movies

If you're like me, then you have a small fetish for anything post-apocalyptic. That means you enjoy flicks like Mad Max, The Omega Man, I am Legend, A Boy and His Dog, The Postman, Waterworld (those last two still have a great concept and are PA, so they rock no matter what anyone says), and also probably enjoy games like Wasteland, Fallout, and the like.

Well, go check out http://www.post-apocalypse.co.uk/index.html to get a pretty decent review site focusing on plenty of PA movies, and to reminisce about the old times, and possibly even some flicks you saw as a kid that you just can't remember the name of. I also appreciate the categories they use to rate movies, which I've listed below (which goes to show what ingredients are required to make a memorable PA movie)...

Civilization Ended via:
Hero Name:
Beefed up vehicles:
Crazy Gang:
Gang leader/villain name:
Other memorable names:
Shoulder pads:
Scenes filmed in a quarry:
Lasers or bullets:
Water Shortage:
Petrol Shortage:
Food Shortage:
Bubble Domes:
Synth music:
Stupid/Ridiculous Ending:
Miraculous rain:

Street Justice ...

Sometimes, a picture can be worth a thousand words... DO NOT PARK IN MY RESERVED BAY!

27 October 2009

Spelling 101: definAtely vs. definItely

I am a wordsmith.

Yes, I am, because I said so during my wedding speech and half the audience chuckled nervously because they had no idea what a wordsmith was. One man - Joe Graham (a real man if ever there was one) - cried out "yes, you are!" or something to that effect (to quote him, he shouted "it's a real word, it's true"), so I know that at least half of our closest friends and family aren't ignorant cretins.

However, the sad reality is, today I was dealt a blow to my intellectual haughtiness by a lady who calls herself my "Editor" for the game reviews I'm doing.

You see, it turns out that spelling the word definitely with an A (as in "definately") is absolutely wrong. There's no middle ground here. The word is spelt "definitely" plain and simple. Upon considering her correction, I started to wonder how on earth I had ever spelt it with an A in the first place. The scary thing is, when I type the word "definitely" I instinctively go to the A letter and yet, it's completely wrong. It is obviously an extension of the word 'finite" and I don't seem to be able to convince my hands or my brain of this fact.

Here are a few websites to corroborate my story:

The most interesting thing for me, is the definition itself from URBANDICTIONARY.COM says "Idiot-speak for "definitely". One of the most common moronic misspellings found on the internet" and "The word many people use to spell 'definitely' until they suddenly realise they've been spelling it the wrong way" and finally, "'definitely,' as blogged, emailed, or texted by a complete moron."

So there we have it... I am a complete moron. And besides that, I can now confidently say that there is definately no A in the word "definitely". I have been duly rebuked.

El33tonline: WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2009

My latest review is online!

Go and check it out at the El33tonline website.

Enjoy :)

26 October 2009

Woohoo! I won! I won!

I don't believe it, I don't ever win anything!

------ SMS ------
From: +278200705900662
Sent: Oct 26, 2009 00:09
Subject: Congratulations!

Congratulations!You are our Winner for the UK NATIONAL DRAW for 8 Million Pounds Sterling. Contact:info@lotteryhouse.co.uk Ref: 2010/08/2009 :James Clark

24 October 2009

L4D: Comical truths

I'm going to have to start pretexting these posts with a L4D title so you know what they relate to (and for those that don't care, you can skip them).

If you've ever played Left4Dead, you'll no doubt appreciate the subtle humour (and sometimes not so subtle).

20 October 2009

Recession Times

I need to start off by stating that the only recession I'm presently worried about is my hairline! This nonsense about global economic crisis has, thankfully, gone straight past me without really affecting my personal employment experience, and so for that I am incredibly grateful as friends around me stumble into depleted salary packages and job losses / retrenchment. Nonetheless, it is with some guilty joy that I reveal to you all my new part-time profession...

That, of game reviewer!

As many of you who know me can vouch, one of my favourite past-times is playing computer games. I am a natural at it. I've had a computer or gaming device since I was born. First came an Atari, then a ZX Spectrum, and so the list goes on! At any rate, what better way to live out one's dream than to actually LIVE OUT ONE'S DREAM, right? Sadly, this is not entirely true. I have discovered that being a games reviewer is a fantasy, not a dream, and the reality isn't all rosey and cowboy midgets riding on unicycles with a tankard of beer in hand... game reviewing can be really hard work. There's deadlines, there's length-limitations, there's editing, there's good moments, and there's a lot more bad moments. Getting a rubbish game can be soul destroying, and fantasy destroying. My first review was a hard slog to finish on time, because I am a casual gamer who likes to fart around and explore, so my two week deadline loomed up heavily and before I knew it, I was pressed for time, and none the more entertained by the game I had to review. Thankfully as time progressed, the game, and the enjoyment thereof, improved, and I can confidently give this game a good rating. Read my review at www.el33tonline.com if you would like to know more :) I have to point out that my review was mildly edited because it was "too long" (what do THEY know :)), so there's some confusion about who or what Mooch is, which is only rectified halfway through my review - that's not my fault :)

(EDIT: Lisa chatted with me after reading this post, and it turns out she didn't edit anything to do with my content. It must be my old age [evidenced by that recession up top] that's causing me to imagine things. I must have heavily edited it myself in my sleep or something. No harm, no foul. It wasn't modified at all by anyone beyond ME)

A brief backdrop as to how this all started:

Tim Twelves came back for a weekend, and we hooked up for dinner at Le Trouquet. There I bumped into some old friends from UKZN (then UND); two of them were Wayne and Lisa. We started to chat, and I discovered Lisa runs a game review enterprise. We started to chat some more - things were said - and eventually a long road down Oltman won his first competition he entered on el33tonline's website (thanks to me). He was so excited about this he unashamedly wrote a novel to them to thank them for his winnings, and to subtly hint that he is capable of writing reviews. When they subsequently asked him to write reviews, I became a little jealous, and approached them to ask them to hire me, which they did. That's the story (open letter to follow at some point I'm sure).

16 October 2009

LOUIS is the man!

Thanks to some feedback from the comments to my previous post (see comment #6), we've now got a little bit extra for you... the reality is, apparently YOU are NOT the man, LOUIS is the man!.

If you don't know who Louis is, then google for "LEFT 4 DEAD" or check out this concept art...

15 October 2009

YOU the man!

Words don't need to be used to express this... click below and you'll know what I mean.

That be Oltman...

13 October 2009


Does anyone remember a little (legendary) PC component supplier in Springfield called GAZAZ? If I think back to my childhood, I'm pretty certain that was the first supplier my dad purchased a PC for me from..

Well, guess what, Gazaz is no longer in the IT retail business, and have moved their focus over to something a little less related. They now do lighting and power management supplies, and have dropped out of the PC market altogether!

www.gazaz.co.za isn't updated (yet) so go check it out before it gets updated and you can catch a glimpse of what used to be.

GAZAZ is now established as one of the largest PC peripheral distribution companies in South Africa. The company has successfully supplied computer dealers for over 18 years. Our signature lines, ProView, Chronos, Apollo, JetWay, ChiMei, A4Tech, DiVoom, Intel and Microsoft, are sold on a national and African international level by some of South Africa's leading retail stores. Our premium products are also available through our extensive dealer networks.

GAZAZ has always been devoted to providing its customers with special attention by focusing on their individual services, quality and value requirements.

As GAZAZ boldly leads into new frontiers, it remains committed and dedicated to its founding objective of helping people improve their lives through new and real technology.

In this fast changing computer industry, our company has continuously satisfied the demands for the latest technology. GAZAZ is well known for its top brand products. Competitive pricing and efficient services in both of our sales and technical division remain as first priority and attribute to our long standing and future success.

Our aim is to be a leading distributor, innovator, developer and marketer of computer hardware, peripherals, products and full PC systems, which provide superior value to our customers in meeting their information technology needs and ensuring quality within computer products and providing a fair profit for our shareholders.

Born to Lead, Bred to Perform . . . “Computer Excellence”

Managing Director:
Mr. Dennis Lin
General Manager:
Technical Division
Accounts Division

Quite something, these Taiwanese IT suppliers!

12 October 2009

Not good enough from wayward SRC members

I've just caught wind of a few wrongs that some leaders within the various campuses' SRC bodies, and a public "name and shame" exercise was undertaken, whereby the SRC members responsible (or rather, irresponsible) had to issue a public letter of apology. Following is the contents of that letter, but I have to rant and object to the fact that these people are still even around at all; they should be forced to resign their posts at the very least. This smacks of the style of ANCYL and their unreserved support for Leonard Chuene's lying. Leonard Chuene is still, to this day, the president of ASA. Such rot can't be good for anything, and the sooner the idiots at the top learn to expel the immoral brothers, the better. Remember these names. If they come for a job, don't give them a car, and if they are teaching your kids, move your kids to another class...

To: The University Community
Following our appearance before the Executive Dean’s Tribunal, we hereby write this letter to express our most sincere apologies for conducting ourselves in a manner that is unbecoming of student leaders.
During the July 2009 vacations, while on the Vacation Executive, we had hired a university vehicle for bona fide business purposes. Unfortunately the program we were to attend no longer took place and we then used the vehicle for private purposes to attend a party at the Plush Lounge. The vehicle was then, unfortunately, stolen while parked in the parking area, and it was wrongly initially reported to the University that the vehicle had been hi-jacked.
The university has suffered a financial loss as a result of our actions, and we have also disappointed the students who elected us, as well as the organization that deployed us to the Westville LSRC. Hence, once again, we would like to apologize to all relevant stakeholders and give an assurance that such behavior will never be repeated.
N. Makhombothi (President: Westville LSRC)
M. Mbanjwa (Finance and Projects Officer: Westville LSRC)
M. Mlambo

Apology to the Edgewood Student Community

Following my appearance before the Executive Dean’s Tribunal where I pleaded guilty to charges of unauthorized use of the University vehicle assigned to the ELSRC, I would like to apologize unreservedly for negligently and intentionally misusing the university vehicle. I have committed myself to paying for the 300+ kilometers traveled, as well has having other sanctions imposed on me by the tribunal.
Thabani Sboniso Majozi
Deputy President E-SRC

To the Edgewood Student Community
On the 2nd of May 2009 I utilised the University vehicle assigned to the ELSRC for personal purposes, and while doing so the vehicle was damaged in an accident. I subsequently made a false declaration about the accident to the University. I have pleaded guilty before the Executive Dean’s Tribunal, and I have accepted full financial responsibility for the damages, and accept the sanctions placed on me by the tribunal. I wish to emphasis that my unauthorized utilization of the vehicle was personal, and had nothing to do with the political organizations to which I belong. I wish to apologize unreservedly to the Edgewood student community, and to commit myself to not making such a serious error of judgment in future.
Hoping that my apology will be accepted
TC Nkosi
ELSRC President
September 2009

Apology to the Edgewood Student Community

Following my appearance before the Executive Dean’s Tribunal where I pleaded guilty to charges of unauthorized use of the University vehicle assigned to the ELSRC, I would like to apologize unreservedly for negligently and intentionally misusing the university vehicle. I have committed myself to paying for the unauthorized trip, as well has having other sanctions imposed on me by the tribunal.
Mthembu Khayelihle
Secretary-General ELSRC

08 October 2009

Google Calendar SMS reminders

This is an appeal rather than anything otherwise meaningful... but it should be considered a meaningful appeal, because it has a purpose!

I don't seem to be getting any GOOGLE CALENDAR SMS reminders any more, and I was wondering if anyone else is experiencing the same problem. My last SMS received to VODACOM was 30 September 2009, so I have a feeling VODACOM has done something, but I need others to verify this so I can figure it out. Please drop a comment if your GOOGLE CALENDAR still works, and what network you're on, and the latest verified SMS?

07 October 2009

Zombie Survival Tips

I'm not in a position to divulge precisely why I am suddenly starting to post more tips about zombie survival, lest I cause a general panic. Suffice it to say that I am aware of my responsibility to humanity, and that I am fairly fond of most of my friends and family, and wouldn't really want to have to hatchet your head from the shoulders.

Anyway, I digress.

I feel it is my duty to do as much as I can for as many as I can before the day arrives, and as outbreak coordinator and survival commander-in-chief for this side of the Umgeni River, I intend to have the largest survival taskforce working under my leadership. After all, I've met the sort of "Zombologists" preparing for the outbreak, and trust me when I say that when that day comes, it's only going to be a matter of time before most other divisions will suffer the trials of a full-blown apocalyptic battle for survival.

The key to surviving the Zombie Apocalypse is mental preparation. My statistical analysis of the kinds of mental stresses and anxiety caused by a sudden realisation that the world is actually crumbling and fast closing in on you and you have no way out, suggests that 4 in 5 survivors will succumb to Zombie Apocalypse Stress Related Psychotic Disorder (ZASRPD), and either eat their own dog, or go on a psycopathic survival quest and kill anything else that moves.

However, I digress.

The key to this post is to make sure you are all mentally prepared. How do you begin this process? You think like a survivor.

What you need to do is the next time you're waiting in a shopping queue, look around. Check out your surroundings. Say to yourself "if there was an outbreak right here, right now, where would I go to?". Follow this question on with related questions, such as "if my buddy here was slowing me down, would I have time to wait for him to get to safety, or should I trip him up now to slow down the horde?" It's a tough question to ask, but the reality is, in the heat of the outbreak, you may just have to do it.

There, that's the real key to this post - although my advice to notice your surroundings is a key aspect of survival, the lesson today is not so much hanging on the process of ascertaining your surroundings and how you'd escape, but most importantly, to make you realise that to survive in a Zombie Apocalypse, you're going to need to make sacrifices. If you've got a buddy that's been bitten, or someone who's twisted an ankle, if it goes down to a foot race between you, your buddy, and a horde of hungry KFC-employee-turned-zombies, you're going to need to ditch your friend and feed him to the Colonel. If you aren't prepared to do this, then trust me when I say there's going to be a KFC Zombie Survivor Cheese Twister with extra hashbrown, and we all know no-one likes hashbrown in their Twisters...
(you're the hashbrown, you idiot... if you didn't understand my KFC analogy then you're as good as dead and you're going to be the one that gets ditched, so accept it now and eat your dog)

05 October 2009

02 October 2009

XBOX Live and splitscreen

We've got this thing called XBOX Live, and we've got this thing called splitscreen. Some of us even have this thing called Left4Dead. All of these things work great when you merge them with this thing called an XBOX360. I believe for now I have discovered a very underrated formula that sums up the meaning of the grand total of these things:


One confounder to this fairly simple equation is the advent of GOLD memberships, and how they suck the $$ out of any couple's finances. Although I am stating the obvious (obviously), I'll explain what I mean, specifically...

You see, when Kat and I want to play splitscreen co-op with our buddies over XBOX LIVE, then we need a headset for optimal results. The problem is, only GOLD membership allows the use of a headset in a PARTY, so that means when we play, I hear Slimonavitch and Oltman barking orders and screaming for help, and I have to relay these messages over to Brattex(1), sometimes in the heat of battle. Sometimes, even Brattex(1) needs to relay a message to one of them, while I'm in the heat of battle, and it becomes quite distressing for me to play messenger of messages, messenger of God, rescuer of downed survivors, and overall survivor saviour. It's become quite frustrating at times, that Slimonavitch has even considered buying another GOLD account just so we can overcome this, but that leads me onto my next problem; we'd still need another headset.

We've tested out a NOKIA headset, since it has the 2.5mm jack and 3 comms rings on it (stereo+mic), but for some reason, which I suspect is the mute button, it won't work on the controller. We thought we could at least hook up a stereo headset, and share one earpiece each, so my splitscreen buddy could at the very least hear the instructions - no dice so far though.

Then Slimonavitch - in all of his novice glory - figured out that if one goes to CONSOLE SETTINGS and selects PREFERENCES, there's an option under AUDIO that says output audio to HEADSET, SCREEN, or BOTH. Voila! Now at least we can survive (in the meantime) with one headset and we can have some degree of easier communication for Brattex(1) to hear what the other teammates "over yonder" are saying via the TV!

VMware conversion error: Error: Unable to obtain the IP address of the target virtual machine running the Converter helper server.

While running VMware converter, one may encounter this error;

Error: Unable to obtain the IP address of the target virtual machine running the Converter helper server.

For those who may not know how to fix it, it's really easy (and I feel a little ashamed that I have to post the solution here, but who knows, someone may need the help, so step forward my young Padawan, and pay attention)...

A quick google takes us to this page; inside is a handy little tip -
Helper virtual machine
Source computer
The helper virtual machine must be able to establish an SSH connection with the source computer. By default the helper virtual machine gets its IP address assigned by DHCP. If there is no DHCP server available on the network chosen for the target virtual machine you must manually assign it an IP address.

So all one has to do is specify an IP for the Helper VM, which can be done in one of the pages through the configuration process of starting the CONVERSION TASK.

01 October 2009

Google Chrome offline download

This is a brief update for a useful pointer for those that didn't know.

You can download and install Google Chrome via a "standalone" / "offline" install file, located here.


Google Gadgets for BLOGGER - Discussion Box

Good morning class of 2009, and happy Oktober Day to you all (in my mind it's spelt with a "k" and it's a special day, okay?)!

Today begins the first of a series of Google Gadget reviews for weblogs (AKA 'blogs).
The first topic to discuss is a "Discussion Box" gadget that I pulled out from here.

(NOTE: for a comprehensive list of all the Google Gadgets I've reviewed so far, check out http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=tuj6iooM7UX6iJax1ZEcUyw&output=html.

This little gadget promises quite a lot; a discussion box that gets placed on your main blog page kind of like a rolling commentary of, well, comments. There's no anonymous posting, so you don't get horridable trolls making stupid remarks, but I don't see any way of controlling or managing general Google ID's from joining in, which poses a slightly potential security risk.

I have to say, I give this gadget a thumb's down, purely because it can work quite great for what I need, but it can also just not work AT ALL, and the erratic nature of the reliability makes it an unwanted gadget :(.

When it works, it looks kind of like this (in fact, JUST LIKE THIS):

BUT when it doesn't work, it looks kind of like this (in fact, JUST LIKE THIS):

I have to point out, the working screenshot is from a FIREFOX browser which is signed into GOOGLE, and the fail screenshot is from an IE7 browser which is also signed into GOOGLE.

If you can get it to work CONSISTENTLY without that traceback error, give me a shout. As it stands, this has to get a thumb's down.

25 September 2009

Hands-on Tech Tips - you've stolen my dream!

Damn you HTT, damn you for all of your usefulness and helpfulness! I see I now have a real rival in the blogosphere for South African handy tips - and you've got a miles-long head-start on me, and made it to 2nd spot ...

I have to admit it, I am INSANELY jealous right now of how useful this blog is, and of all the tips it posts up. I have a feeling it's my long-lost twin brother running that blog, because that's the sort of scheming mind I have, and he's sharing his truth with the world. You go, buddy! Tell the world!

Check out this really helpful blog: http://handytechtips.blogspot.com/ ... I have to confess it's really handy stuff from what I've seen, and it can apply to a world of people - how to save money on Discovery, hot to get the best prepaid top-up value from the service providers, where to go to get your under-16 kid free movies for a year, etc. Looks really promising :)

24 September 2009

ASA seems to have their knickers in a knot

If you don't know about the ASA debacle, then read the following articles to get a better context.


And then here's the result of the meeting:

Basically we've got this president of the ASA - Leonard Chuene - who's allowed an 18-year old to run in a race and win the gold, despite his knowledge that Caster Semenye was under scrutiny for having an "unfair advantage". The scrutiny would lead to potential public humiliation for her, and an ignominous end to her athletics career. Chuene didn't seem to care, ignoring the team doctor (who's incidentally also Jacob Zuma's personal GP, and has been the team doctor for TWENTY YEARS, so he has some credentials) who basically advised to withdraw her from the race to avoid ruining her life. Caster won the race, but has had a nightmare of mockery and leaked stories about her gender ever since. What incites me to rage about this is how the ANC has come out in public support of Caster (and in a smaller extent, for Chuene too), sweeping the debacle under a raggedy carpet of racism, and deflecting the fury of the caring public instead towards the IAAF and white racist pigs who have obviously targeted black African athletes. Never mind that this isn't a race issue (it hardly ever is, except maybe for the guilty ANC cadres) and that recently we've heard the confession that Leonard Chuene was lying for weeks, ignored medical advice, and has cashed in on Caster's achievement.

People have been baying for Chuene to resign, but the long and the short of it is, Chuene is here to stay, and that means the ASA is being presided over by a liar. Plain and simple. A liar is still in charge. How does this bode well for South Africa's credentials? I'm not sure it makes a difference. We're just the topmost rotten apple sitting in a pile of rotten apples in the world's breadbasket (I think basket-case is more apt).

Unconfirmed (by the Courts) rumours already abound that our president is a rapist and a crook, and when we see his cadres being released from prison on medical parole (but living it up in Musgrave), it's hard to ignore these rumours.

I don't see how - in any way possible - someone who's confessed to lying can be given any sort of vote of confidence. If they've admitted to lying (and then only because they were caught doing it), then how do we know they haven't done it before, and won't do it again?

Caster had to undergo gender testing to verify if she was a he or a she or a something in between. I think the more appropriate step shouldn't have been a series of gender tests for Caster, but rather a series of agenda tests for Chuene.

23 September 2009

I have to admit it, I'm a fanboy...

Last night Kat and I took out the DVD "FANBOYS" to pass the time while South Africa crumbled to Sri Lanka and my body recovered from its (presumed) minor bout of food poisoning (note to self: avoid PnP beefy pies on Sundays).

This movie is a must-see for anyone who owns a still-sealed edition of Star Wars Trivial Pursuit, waiting for "that day" when the box can be cracked open and a game played, where no-one will be able to say "you've memorised all the cards" when you astound them with your Star Wars nous (You know who you are...).

This movie is absolutely pointless unless you either (a) know a Star Wars fan, (b) know Star Wars, (c) know a Trekkie fan (sorry, "Trekker"), (d) attend comic-con's, (e) like to bully the socially-inept.

If you manage to fit into at least one of the categories above, then it's a must-see movie! Very light and thoroughly entertaining in how humiliating it all is, especially if you're a (b) or (d).

This movie pays homage, and in a great way, to all that is Lucas and Star Wars.

Without giving too much away, there's cameo's from Shatner, Darth Maul (if you don't spot him, how can you be a fan?), Chris McDonald, and even a sequel scene to a Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back moment.

If that's not enough to whet your appetite, we have ninja rolls, Leia, Lando, Judge Reinhold, a trashing of Khan, Trekkie-bashing, and a phaser trap to identify hapless Trekkie fans.

Really enjoyable movie - I had to ashamedly participate in the "prove you're a fan" quiz moments, but all-in-all, a funkie movie (and sadly so accurate).

18 September 2009

All beware the green justice mobile

I'm fed up with people who either cannot read or choose to ignore the "reserved" markings on the road.

This is a little taste of my justice.

16 September 2009

Goodies for your mobile

I've now decided to update my list of WAP and .MOBI sites into a nice spreadsheet for you to look at. It's located here... http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=tiRd8NN6hIIEIQuwC_5dJzQ&single=true&gid=0&output=html

First feature is the m.gmail.com lite-site for GMAIL!

Very basic in layout, it's an optional view for GMAIL which can be selected as either HTML or MOBILE. It shows conversations, labels, etc. but doesn't seem to show a way of replying to a current conversation, which to me is its primary limitation. For keeping track of things, though, it seems to be really useful and a valuable GMAIL tool for mobile!

12 September 2009

Awkward names..

Once in a while I come across some names that seem to be deliberately devised by some witty (or wicked?) parents. Names like Eileen Neal or Jenna Taylor.

In the latest UKZN INDABA newsletter, I spotted this rather unfortunate name for some who seems to have done all his crack in...

09 September 2009

Left4Dead (or left4Hawaii?) flight of terror

Picture it - an obliterated airport. Charred wreckage marring the runways as grim reminders of the carnage that befell a once bustling and energetic town. Luggage lies strewn across the departure lounge, the rancid, acrid stench of death and decay filtering through the hallways. Yet not even this vivid portrait of despair comes close to the foreboding portent that is the silence. The grim, deathly silence serves to overwhelm the visual nightmare, deafening a small team of survivors who are crouched hiding inside a safe room. "Should I close the door?" whispers Zoey... "I don't like this one little bit..."

"No!" snaps back Louis "We need to heal up first! Watch that door!". The oppressing silence is broken by the quick snapping of shotgun shells being loaded into the chamber. Zoey repeats her earlier request "should I close the door?" - there's a very clear element of fear in her voice. "There's a smoker out there..." she warns.

"No! Let's heal up first! I'm going to heal Louis" responds Francis. Zoey keeps her eyes and pistols trained on the aisles of departure lounge seats. She can hear the wracking cough of a smoker nearby. The eerie silence returns, only occasionally being interrupted by a wheeze or a sputter somewhere outside the safe room. Somewhere. Out there. Zoey knows it's out there. Zoey wipes the sweat from her brow. The bite wounds on her arm continue to ache. She clenches her grip around the pistols even tighter, fighting the pain that is ebbing through her body. She has to remain calm. She has to focus. The team needs to recover. She has to keep guard.

"SMOKER!!! THERE'S A SMOKER OUT -" Zoey's screams are brought to an abrupt halt as a tongue lashes around her body and drags her out of the sanction of the safe room. The team is caught completely off guard. Louis bolts for the doorway, trains his gun onto the smoker, and lets fire a clip-full of ammo into the Smoker's rotting body. Zoey scrambles back to the safety of the room, and with a pleading tone shouts "we have to close this door! We're sitting ducks like this!" ... at that moment Francis exclaims "okay, done patching up! We can go!" and Zoey closes the door, thinking to herself "why after all of this senseless proximity to death and my added pain, does Francis look decidedly fresher - almost angelic - and Louis is still bleeding all over me as badly as he had a few minutes ago? "...

And so begins the final level of the Dead Air campaign, with the team of survivors nearing death (Louis [Oltman] on 45% and Zoey [me] on 24%, with Francis [Simon] on 96% health, and Bill [Wayne] on 72%). Our esteemed guest back from the UK - Simon - had healed up himself from 80% to 96% instead of Oltman, and after all of that, I had been dragged out into the gaping maw of a Smoker for NOTHING much.

Anyway, the final level is spectacular - the plane-crash scene [spoiler averted] is phenomenal and draw-droppingly good, and it doesn't take long before you're in the horde/rescue stage.

First round, Simon manned the minigun, and I was on the ground watching his back and shoving away infected. Oltman and Wayne were stationed on the gas tanker's top. We became sitting ducks for the Boomers and in the end the Tank mauled through us.

Second round, we didn't fair much better with that strategy.

Third round, I suggested we go up my little hideaway nearby, and we adopted that strategy. It worked pretty well, except version 1 had Oltman watching at the end nearest the stairwell, to the left with Simon covering his back to the right (the front of the fuselage is 12 o'clock, so Oltman was watching 9 o'clock, and Simon was watching the stairwell at 3 o'clock). Wayne and I took up position at the far end away from the stairwell, with me on sniper duty, and Wayne on shoot-everything-that-moves (including me ... once again, byebye SAFETY FIRST ACHIEVEMENT) duty.

Simon bought it first, and the rest of us amazingly survived the Tanks and all of it, and made a run for the plane. The ramp never dropped in time and I was overwhelmed. Wayne was nailed before me, and Oltman made it onto the plane, but heroically, answering my Jedi-mind-trick advice, he didn't end the campaign, and hopped off the plane to die so we could try it again.

The next few rounds had mixed success, but we reviewed our strategy and had all of us at the far end of the fuselage, sheltered by the sidewalls and mentally overwhelming the infected, who couldn't seem to figure out how to run up the stairs, turn, and get to us. They create a tad logjam at the stairs and we could dispatch them quickly. Once in a while someone would get smoked, and then our plan would fall to pot with us sending out rescue attempts and dying. Armed with the only pipe bomb, I would throw it to distract the horde enough to rescue the incap'ed player, but this fell flat when a Tank starts to throw concrete blocks at a group in one corner.

We revised our strategy even further, with Oltman ingeniously planting propane tanks and gas cylinders around the base of the plane ramp so we could quickly clear a path on our escape route. We ended up refining our equipping of molotov's and pipe bombs in the end, and Oltman and I would have pipe bombs and the others would have molotov's. Simon had become a pro at hitting targets with his molotov, and had whooped for joy earlier when he had actually hit a Tank in the face, even though it was killing him. He died with a look of satisfaction plastered all over his face. Of course, I was a little less impressed, since he also managed to splash a Tank *and the team* in the corner in another round, and quickly expired all of us.

The final - winning - strategy was a masterpiece of execution. I must also congratulate the team for their quick-thinking rehash of an old strategy and their thinking on the run.

Here's how it came about (for the four people reading this post...):

I don't recall setting up any gas tanks around the plane - maybe - but I'm not sure. A comment below can help clear that up.

We healed up at the station, all grabbed a health pack, and made a run for the salvation airlines flight 4v10000. Oltman summoned the horde, and while he was running, I was aimed clearly down the stairwell to keep it clear for him. Wayne was firing off anyone in the pathway for his sprint to the stairwell, and Simon was ready to slow down the horde coming from the 9 o'clock plane.

Simon got up, we got to the far end (6 o'clock), and prepared ourselves. Interestingly, a crouched person doesn't seem to be shoved along as much as a standing person. At any rate, Simon watched the stairwell and a bit of the 9 o'clock show, Oltman watched the stairwell and more of the 9 o'clock show, and Wayne was standing at the back potting off anyone that got through the stairs. My job was to be about three paces in front, crouched by the gap in the side wall on the right side, ready to be smoked whenever a Smoker got to the stairs, so someone behind me (usually Simon) would despatch the death-grip and I could return to action.

This worked so well, that I think pretty much all of us just used our pistola. I was smoked three times or so, and rescued every time, and no-one was incapacitated. I do believe we even made it past the first Tank.

Then the side walls started to fade a bit, and the Smoker got greedy. Oltman (I think?) was the first to be smoked, and he hit the stairs, but we managed to rescue him before he was incap'ed and he bolted back upstairs. Next it went for Wayne, but this time we freed him, and he was disoriented, and he fell off the stairs. That's when the nightmare began to unfold a bit. I lobbed my pipe bomb to distract the hordes from him while Oltman valiantly leapt to his aid. Up, down, up, down the two went. I sprayed covering fire around them (I could only see about 270 degrees of their side, because they were UNDER the fuselage that we were inside), and when my pipe bomb didn't rescue them, Simon (or Oltman?) lobbed his, and bought them some time. Oltman managed to revive Wayne, and they made a run for it. Boomer! They were stenched. And another wave came. I was down to 54 bullets in my assault rifle, and I realised the end was night unless we intervened. I started to feel it was a lost cause, so I shouted "leave him! you've got to get up here!" and Simon quietly concurred. Oltman left Wayne and made a hobble up the stairs. Wayne was bleeding out; 50... 40... 30... and sadly we watched him die. I gave Oltman a revive from his 40% to 80%, in the middle of an impending Tank battle, and then he did the same for me. We managed to fend off a lobbed concrete block, and someone managed to spark flames around the sucker. A flaming Tank ran around haplessly and we felt quite safe in our position. Our little safe-haven soon became a death-cradle, as the Tank made his way up the stairs, and Oltman barked out the captain's orders "abandon ship!" abandon ship!" ... we could hear the plane starting up its engines, so we knew we had a hope to make it. We jumped out the 3 o'clock side, hopefully bracing our fall by bouncing off the broken fuselage next to us. I hit the ground. Oltman hit the ground. Simon hit the ground. I ran away. Oltman ran away. Simon whimpered. I think his legs were broken. Or his neck. Whatever, he was down, and a flaming Tank was making his way to the coup de grĂ¢ce.

I wasn't going to leave anyone to die, so I turned around, screaming to Oltman that we had to save Simon. Simon was whimpering like a jack-russell discovering his own shadow, and I ran into the fray. Oltman declared unilaterally that it was time to make an escape and to leave Simon. No ways Jose. I hadn't had my heroics for the round yet. Oltman was a bit "half-empty" because of his failed rescue on Wayne (which admittedly was a success, except for the meaty bits of Wayne that ended up on Oltman's clothes).

I ran into the burning Tank, and let rip a full auto of my assault rifle on him. He didn't flinch. Bugger. I then gave him a shove to distract him from Simon, who was now also on fire, and on about -40% life remaining. The Tank turned to me, let out an almighty roar, stamped his fists (which squished Simon), and then rolled over and died. [at this point I must submit that had we had a few more bullets into the Tank, perhaps Simon wouldn't have died... Oltman!! But nevertheless, had Oltman responded to the rescue attempt, perhaps the rest wouldn't have transpired as it had]

I turned to flee, hearing the horde surrounding us. I had NO bullets except for my akimbo pistols, and I wasn't going to go down again this time. I ran around a corner, and heard Oltman declare "pipe bomb by the plane" - the little genius had gone back to the ammo supply and grabbed a pipe bomb to clear the plane area - that was what my pipe bomb was SUPPOSED to be for, but the rescue raid on Wayne had depleted my reserve. Great job Oltman, we have a clear run for the plane - Oltman was on the left side, I was on the other side of the tanker. Around the corner, one step to freedom, and ... SMOKED! I was smoked!!! Pulled away into an icy kiss of death!!! SO CLOSE!!!

Oltman stopped, turned, aimed, fired, and freed me. My hero! I lumbered (I was that broken) to the plane, and as I was getting in, I saw Oltman make a dash, and get vomited on. Oh dear. I dispatched the Boomer, and told Oltman "come to my voice!" ... he managed to stagger blindly into the plane, and off we flew to freedom.

Strangely, and unofficially of course, the game closed with the credits "in loving memory of Bill (buddy), Francis (BadKat), and Louis (oltman)"... he may or may not have bled out on the deck of the plane in my arms... or maybe the door closed on his hand or something, but at any rate, he got the achievement, and he did make it to the plane twice, so that counts for a win :)

"Here lies Oltman's Louis... he may or may not have died, but he was the representative black IT guy"

"Here lies Simon's Francis... he died a happy man, because he had molotov'ed a Tank in the face"

"Here lies Wayne's Bill... he shot teammates. And he died"

08 September 2009

How legal is downloading TV series?

I've seen a lot of people downloading TV series, and a lot of people are doing it claiming that it's not illegal etc., well, I've always felt it's not right and especially if the product is available locally for sale, it surely must be considered a copyright infringement.

After several failed attempts to contact SAFACT via email (turns out some people aren't so pleased with what they're doing, so they are SPAM nuking their email), I decided today to phone them to put this baby to rest.

I spoke with an individual by the name of James, who was sitting in London somewhere at the time of our call, and we spoke briefly about my concerns. Below is a paraphrased edition of the conversation:

Bryan: Is downloading of TV series off the internet legal or illegal in South Africa?

James: It's an infringement on copyright, and no-one has the right to offer TV series for download in South Africa

Bryan: So it's illegal? What are the consequences?

James: It's a civil infringement if you download it. It becomes criminal if you distribute or share it.

There you have it, if you copy a TV series, you are committing a CRIMINAL offence.

James went on to say: Right now we are trying to start a campaign of awareness because most people don't seem to realise the consequences of their actions. If an owner has not given permission for someone to take something that doesn't belong to them, it's theft. If someone finds out about the theft, the thief can be charged. There's also the issue about how the theft impacts on the industry. Take District 9 as an example, once it's pirated or made available for download, it's going to sink District 9's profits. In the UK we are dealing with people who even refuse to pay for legitimately available downloadable material, so it's a mindset that needs to be changed.

And so he went on with some really interesting observations and I couldn't help but agree with him on everything he was saying. He also commented that he wanted to make sure people didn't view SAFACT as the bogeymen who were trying to pressgang people into submission. They're trying to protect people's rights and at the same time are very aware of the potential for freely downloadable stuff becoming unavailable if their measures are too strict.

So the bottom line is, downloading TV series is illegal - if you are doing it, you're a thief. Pretty much most people reading this post are not poor enough or desperate enough to need to steal a loaf of bread for survival, so what's your excuse for stealing a movie or series? If you claim to be a Christian, then even more reason to not download or share TV series any more. You've been convicted, and hopefully that's now enough to ensure you don't become a convict.

01 September 2009

Stupid Advertising

Sometimes in my daily grind I come across some really stupid adverts. I don't think I'm the only one to notice them, but then again, maybe I'm blessed?

Check this one out...

I know what FISHAWAYS is TRYING to do, but they're not doing a good job of promoting THEIR vegetables, now are they?

Sigh. If you don't get it, think about it. "You'll actually want to eat YOUR vegetables". Get it now?

Okay, so I've added some selective emphasis but it helps to illustrate the concept. There are enough grammatically challenged people out there to read it the way I've emphasised it. And for me, if it's not 100% clear, then it's not a good advert, unless maybe they've intended it to be ambiguous, but in this instance, they haven't.

31 August 2009

Miserable end to a hard-fought campaign

Welcome back to the Promised Land, Simon Clur!

Simon is back in town, and in true CompSci student fashion, Kat, Simon and I hooked up again to relive some of the good old days, and under Simon's instruction (how could we deny him his request?), we had some pizza and XBOX360 co-op action. Oh boy, were there some fun war stories...

Mary-Anne Botha was kind enough to allow us to invade her home and hook up again with Oltman to play some 4-player Left4Dead co-op action, and this time we had substituted our friendly-fire fanatic, Wayne, with a newbie, Simon. I was hopeful that I could train Simon into the ways of NO FRIENDLY FIRE and we could achieve the very elusive SAFETY FIRST achievement. As events unfolded, I realise now how wrong I was... :(

We played Blood Harvest, and it started off pretty well - we were doing very well in fact, and making good time on the missions. We headed onto the penultimate level, and there things took a turn for the worse. At some point Zoey (played by Kat) died, and it was left to Francis (me), Bill (Simon), and Louis (Oltman) to escape the level on 1% health each, and me on my last life.

As we made it to the escape point (up ahead on the bridge), we were swarmed, and Oltman and Simon were incapacitated. Being the hero I was, I held off the swarm on my last legs and 1% (or we would have had to restart the darned level), and revived both players, who then subsequently ran off (while I lumbered along behind them) to the safe house. As I reached the safe house, what was waiting for me other than a smoker on top of the escape car - fortunately I fended him off with the last shells of my shotgun, and we made it into the escape car in time.

Next level, we repeated our antics and managed to make three successful attempts to the finale where we radio'ed in for help. Round one, Louis got panicked and raido'ed in while the rest of the survivors were still agreeing on the safest place to fend off the swarms. In the end, Zoey and Francis (Kat and me) lasted the longest, because Louis and Bill couldn't agree on anything, and both died. We didn't outlast the swarm, and also inevitably demised.

The second time we made it into the house, we all hid in the front closet, and it only took a little time before a Smoker pulled Louis out into the open, and going against my better judgment, I departed the closet to rescue him, only to be swamped and beaten. The two hapless survivors still in the closet didn't last with only two guns, and we failed again.

Third time, Louis suggested hiding out in the barn. In the end, we managed to hold off two waves and died by the second Tank. Much better result in the end, but the unfortunate early loss of Louis during the first Tank meant we hadn't enough firepower to repel the second Tank, and we all bought it.

Our successful attempt was achieved when we took out an unexpected Tank at the beginning, without anyone dying. We made it to the barn, set up our perimeter, and then the most stressful sprint from the house to the barn by a panicked Francis (me) and desperate Louis (Oltman) resulted in us successfully repelling the waves.

Bill (Simon) was taken down during the first wave, but we managed to defeat the Tank and survive the second wave too. The final Tank showed up, and we were nailing him just fine, until Louis took a tumble. I ran in to distract the Tank and deal the deathblows to his head at point-blank with my combat shotgun, only to be smacked across the barn and (fortunately) onto the ledge on the other side. Attempting to get myself back into the fray to save Louis, I noticed I was taking a lot of hits, and I realised the Tank didn't have this sort of distance firepower, and it slowly dawned on me that my hopes for a SAFETY FIRST achievement were definately over, since my two esteemed survivor team-mates - Zoey and Bill - were missing the Tank and hitting me!!

I jumped off the ledge, climbed back up the ladder, just in time to see Louis being trampled to death, and we couldn't make the escape together :(

In comes the Military APC, followed by a distant swarm of zombies, and we made a run for it. Zoey was awaiting a helicopter pick-up, so Bill made it to the APC first, followed closely by Francis (me). As I was running up the ramp to my first survival and to freedom, I was knocked off the ramp and into a waiting swarm of zombies. I never made it to the ramp, and was knocked down. I pleaded for rescue, but saw Zoey run over the heads of the marauding zombies and into the APC, which then closed their doors and raced off. I was very distraught at fighting the good fight (and especially in the penultimate level single-handedly bringing us to the finale), but not making it.

At this point, Simon sheepishly confessed that he had shot me off the ramp in a Vietnam-induced flashback and thus ended my desperate attempts to finally complete a campaign. And so, I once again observed the campaign ending lying alongside my dead buddy Oltman, and once again, we did all the hard-work and sacrificed ourselves for the lesser survivors to escape under a hail of gun-fire :-/

I must add, however, that I managed to achieve the Cr0wned, pharm-assist achievements this time around :)

27 August 2009

Another hoax, or hi-jack strategy?

Driving on the freeway, you spot a little girl on the road, under a blanket. What do you do?

If you stop, you may be hijacked - apparently the latest scam is to employ a life-like doll to distract drivers and force them to stop!

You've been warned, I suppose :-/

24 August 2009

BlackBerry Curve 8900 "Javelin" white screen of death

[ UPDATE: also check out this post for possible solutions ]

I suppose it was inevitable that the BlackBerry would also succumb to a bizarre "SOD", and I suppose a WHITE screen is the most appropriate, since it's the opposite of the BLACKberry's style. I just didn't anticipate to experience such a glitch with my evergreen and ever-reliable BlackBerry handset. Doing a search on the internet revealed that I'm not the only person with this problem, but what has surprised me the most is what's causing it...

Strangely, I've only ever noticed it when I've had it resting on my pile of papers on my desk in my office. The most strange thing about it is that it seemed to start with Google Talk, but soon migrated its way to any application that I was using.

For some reason, it would look like it lost a display signal, and artefacts would occur all over the show, but it was almost still visible sometimes. Then, when it blanked out, I'd have to move my phone aside and let it rest while I carried on with my other work, and over some time it would come back.

This went on for a few weeks on-and-off (but only in my office in front of my keyboard) when I discovered the cause... at least, I'd be prepared to bet my BlackBerry on this being the cause.

Underneath my pile of paper, but near-enough to the top of the stack to be near or in contact with my BlackBerry 8900, is the very plastic CD sleeve that came bundled with the BlackBerry software CD (see image).

I've since established that when my phone is near or in contact with this very CD sleeve, it will experience its WSOD, but ONLY then.

I have no explanation for this, except that maybe the plastic is causing some static interference with the phone, but when it's not near or on the plastic, the phone is fine, and I've yet to experience the same WSOD symptoms!

I can't understand it, but there you have it. Hopefully this will make someone's life a little simpler :)

23 August 2009

Offline co-op Left 4 Dead system link split-screen 4 player

These are the stuff of legend. Four humans, survivors of a mutated rabies virus outbreak that has decimated the world. Four survivors who have to find a way out - a way to sanctuary and safety. Four survivors armed with fairly primitive firepower and relying heavily on each other and their mutual will to live, to adapt, and to survive.

And it was with much speculation and trepidation, that Oltman, Kat, Wayne and I hooked up this Sunday to play 4-player on two Xbox 360s - to my pleasant surprise (and all of our excitement) it works!!

Here's how ...

1. Sign in both people on one console at the start-up screen (pressing |> START; signs in for split screen mode)

2. Select "Play Campaign"

3. Play with Friends

4. Create Lobby (X)

5. Campaign Mode

6. Create Lobby after choosing settings

7. Then other xbox360 chooses steps 2 - 5 (it's drop-in, drop-out so they can join in while your game is going; the "client" will see the following screen displaying an available server...)

It's done so well! Split-screen, system link, 4 player co-op, and if players go idle or 'take a break' then you can have AI players taking over "for a while".

Screenshots show what the game looks like being set up for system link split-screen games. First
is split-screen setup on the "server", then what the other console ("client") sees, and finally a successful 4-player lobby game, ready to go (but as I've already mentioned it's drop-in, drop-out so no need to have everyone ready at the start).

SO MUCH FUN! If anyone has Tank-busting tips for us, please let us know by leaving a comment :)

21 August 2009

Portable ISO creator - LC ISO Creator

I'm all about mixing up analogies. It's an advanced gift that God blessed me with. If you found my previous post quite useful, you may also be in the market for a portable ISO creator (or CD/DVD snapshotter) since an ISO ripper and ISO mounter go hand-in-hand like two peas as tight as thieves... well, step up to the plate, LC ISO Creator, because it takes two to tango...

This little guy is very basic in its GUI, but all you really need is a "click to rip" button, right?

Check out my comprehensive PortableApps list here, or go here to get the guy for yourself: