Baboon Toilet Junkies

Me mum just FWD’d me this hard case pic (no doubt doctored in Photoshop) of someone about to end their ablutions a bit earlier than they thought (there’s a Lion creeping up in the top-right corner)

Jesus, that’d do it all right. I was in almost the exact same position when we were traveling through Africa. I was on a jeep going across a big game park (the Mara I think), I had been suffering from the African two-step so got the truck to stop in some trees, ducked out, pulled me strides down and got on with the job. Next thing there’s this screeching and wailing ruckus coming roaring thru the grass towards me, stopped me efforts short and leaped on the truck just as a troop of interested Baboons came bounding out of the undergrowth. No doubt they had fun picking thru what I’d left behind.

Inter-species Skyping

Glamour Puss Last weekend Kym decided enough was enough and she would have to procure her own Laptop seeing as she wasn’t having much luck getting keyboard time on our communal desktop. So off to town we went with credit-card in hand, in to Smiths Dicks to browse the dozens of laptops on offer, eventually striking up a conversation with an informative-but-too-not-pushy salesman who ended up flogging us an entry level ASUS (or ANUS as Kym calls it) machine.

Back home with the box, Kym unpacked it carefully, I kept a safe distance as I was on no uncertain terms banned from any contact with said device. The machine was fired up, and I watched with trepidation as Vista appeared on the screen and began to engrain itself on the silicon and liquid crystal. Some casual input from me over Kym’s shoulder eventually got HER laptop onto our home network and out onto the Internet.

The Lappy was mostly provisioned with the tools Kym is going to need out of the box, and the only thing I dared suggest I might install was a copy of Skype. This was agreed to with a look of suspicion, but I was not to install anything else, and not until the new owner had taken some time to play with the new toy.

So it was a couple of days later I thought I’d take advantage of her Ladyships absence to install Skype. Plugged in my USB stick, copied the installer over, setup a profile for her, and made a test call to the automated Skype service. I wanted to check out the built-in web camera and although I could make a call to the upstairs desktop but there’d be no one on the other end and only other living creature in the house was the Cat so how would that work……. unless…. I called the Cat…

Yes that was it, tilt the laptop screen down so the web cam was aimed at the cat on the sofa, place a call to my account logged in on the desktop upstairs, run upstairs and answer it and see if the cat appears. Which of course he did. So much for the visual image but how about some actual communication???

Our cat Kola is anti-social at the best of times but he does respond to a mouse-like squeak sound that I make by drawing air in between pursed lips, so I let rip with this squeeky sound over the Skype connection. He immediately sat bolt up-right on the sofa with a startled look on his face, glanced nervously around the room, looked suspiciously at the laptop, then settled back down on the sofa.

I figured its gotta be worth repeating the “squeak” just to make sure it wasn’t a one-off. Sure enough Kola responded instantly, but this time looked straight at the laptop, he knew it was coming from the machine, and he didn’t like it. By this stage I’m laughing to myself in the office upstairs, delighted that I had achieved a crude form of inter-species Skype communication. Now all I have to do is train him to place a call.

How to take-over a Planet in 5 easy steps

thor_asgard.jpg Everybody knows right, that Earth has been visited by numerous alien races like the Grays, the Nordics and various Lizard people related to the Royal family for the last few thousand years, and that they have been present here semi-permanently since the 1940s. We also know of course that they’ve been sharing technological advances with us, probing our bottoms and reproductive systems, and transporting select people to and from their home systems. Oh and of course that they have been genetically modiying a subset of our population and their hybrid descendents, and collaborating telepathically with the new world order in order that we as a species might better cope with the challenges to come.

I’m not sure I understand the Alien agenda really but whatever they’re up to just seems to be too much hard work, to be way to visible and be taking much too long. I have a better suggestion for all Aliens reading this blog post (you know who you are) as to how this could all be short-cut to a great degree. If I personally wanted to invade or manipulate a planetery population like ours, this is how I’d handle it:

  • Get a crack team of your software developers together
  • Have them master the Sony PS2/3 and XBox developer toolkits (dont worry about Wii)
  • Have them design a game featuring your own Alien species, accurately modelled
  • Make the theme of the game be to exploit and destroy your people
  • Sit back and watch, observe the creative desctructive genius that is Human-kind

Once you’ve released a few add-on packs, bonus levels and weapons, and let Humans really exploit what they think is a fictional Alien species, you will then know enough about your own weaknesses, how to defend yourself against the Earthling mongrels, and understand their psyche such that invasion will be an overwhelming and glorious victory with few losses.

The operation will certainly be popular with the voters back in the Pleiades system, you will be a hero and the Emperor will be forever thankful, which is a long time considering you’re likely to be living for a few hundred more solar years yet. Nanu Nanu !!!

ps – I accept all local Galaxian credits as payment for my cunning plan

10 Signs you’re a Flight-sim Addict

Hi. I’m Dean and I’m an Addict

I just checked the other day and realised that I’ve been playing various versions of Microsoft’s Flight-Simulator since the mid-eighties, which means around 20-years of on and off activity in one game. I really don’t play many others, sure there’s the odd bought of PlayStation fever (Gran Turismo, GTA, MotoGP etc) but as far as PC gaming goes FlightSim is about it for me.

Recently however my interest in simming has apparently turned into more of an obsession. Something my domestic accountant has been quick to point out, and this has led me to consider how it was I transformed from casual player to hard-core addict. Like most addictions it turns out there are a number of tell-tale signs that I present to you should you have a friend or loved one you are worried about.

10 Signs your a flight-sim addict

1. installing custom aircraft or scenery
The out of the box sim experience is very engaging and there is an awful lot to learn if you want a successful landing percentage, and a low rate of aircraft destruction. Very soon you realise though that the standard scenery just doesn’t cut the mustard. with a little effort you source and install freeware scenery packs to make your local airstrip look a little more like the real thing.
2. installing AI aircraft and real-world schedules
Scenery looks good, and you have all your favourite aircraft installed, but now you begin to realise the other aircraft in the skies don’t resemble the real-world. Now you devote some time to learning how to install AI aircraft and install skins for them representing your local airlines, and setting up AI schedules so they leave and depart at the exact times they do in real life. This is an early sign you are struggling to differentiate between the real, and the illusion.
3. paying for commercial add-ons
Once you’ve downloaded a few dozen freeware scenery or aircraft add-ons you begin to wonder what it would be like to lift the appearance a little more by paying for a commercial add-on. Like any drug however this short-term change to the fix is really just an illusion and you only end up wanting even higher quality and features. The credit card is getting stretched now, you are thinkin about stealing from your family or spouse
4. creating or modifying your local airports
Soon the airports don’t quite seem accurate enough, you notice a missing taxiway, the signage on buildings isn’t quite right, the trees are in the wrong place. Now you are actually engaging so much with the make-believe you are actively modifying or fabricating the world around you to suit your distored view.
5. upgrading your PC
You’ve loaded up the environment now with so many plug-ins and add-ons that the hardware is finally pushed to the limit and you convince yourself that its time to upgrade, even though the sim is probably the only thing that gets anywhere near the limits of the machine. Its time for a second-mortgage on the house at this point as you couldn’t possibly stand not buying the latest and greatest CPU/video-card/mb/ram/HDD combo and of course that liquid-cooled case. After the upgrade you also feel compelled to share the details of the upgrade, as if its some life changing experience that has liberated you from a low-grade addictive experience.
6. buying a second (or third) monitor
At this point your mental addiction is turning into a physical one such that your visual systems are not satiated any longer by the sight of a single monitor. This next step involves adding at least two additional monitors, all wide-screen of course, the panorama is spectacular, gauges and panels are liberally placed on monitor locations that resemble their placement in a real-world cabin. Your physical thirst seems to be met, for the short term.
7. flying online with simulated ATC
The environment seems to be about as good as it gets and your localised personal experience has reached nirvana, or so you think. Its about now you realise that you must share your addiction with others by flying with others online over an Internet connection. The drive for this is partly due to imagined synergistic ecstasy, and partly to share responsibility for your developing dependency with others, shifting the blame.
8. registering with a virtual airline
Things are getting dangerous now. You are going beyond differentiating between real-life and the simulation, pushing through the mist to join a virtual online airline. You sign up as a junior pilot, interact with other confused addicts in a virtual business, training and moving from one aircraft to another, receiving virtual awards, promotions, recognition for good flying practice, reprimand for the bad. You are clearly in the Matrix now and there’s no going back
9. fantasising about being a commercial pilot
Finally you begin to have serious delusions of grandeur, you actually believe that through your virtual airline experience that you are now ready to fly a real aircraft, or in practice the next best thing, which is a commercial flight simulator. You buy yourself a white business shirt, fit some lapels and find a pilots hat in a fancy-dress store, and off down to the mall to strap yourself into a 737. There is a positive aspect to this advanced stage of addiction, at least now you are out an about a little, interacting with people in the real world. This doesn’t last long though.
10. building your own home simulator
The final sorry stage of this awful disease is retiring to your basement to begin construction of a full-scale home-based simulation of your favourite aircraft. There is no escape at this point, the task is enormous and will never be complete, the further the project goes the more terrible the prospect of the work to come and the likelihood of it failing. Total withdrawal from society commences, certain divorce and disengagement from family, the days, weeks and years drift by as pizza boxes stack up at the bottom of the stairs. No form of intervention will work at this point. All is lost.

Please forward this information on to anyone you think is at risk. Even Stephen Spielberg recently confessed to having logged 3,000 hours in “Flight Simulator” so if powerful folks like him are vulnerable then we all need to be alert.

Great Toilet Usability Disasters

toilet.jpg We have a toilet down the corridor from us that happens to be the closest and most convenient location for daily ablutionary activity. It also happens to possess a number of classic toilet usability disaster features which I detail following for your edutainment. Really makes me wonder how much thought people put into toilet design, and whether it is a topic of focus in engineering/architectural schools. I suspect not.

Awkward building location – the toilet itself is positioned in a very narrow corridor which is often crowded with students waiting to get into a lab and the door to the toilet opens outwards into that corridor, this makes for some “uncomfortable” exits at times. Also, the adjacent lab room is fitted out with audio equipment. I’m sure the sound of a toilet flushing (and other audible delights) every few mins is just what people want to when they’re concentrating on listening.

Service duct proximity – the toilet is a reasonable size but shares the space with a building service duct. this means if theres any servicing needs doing the poor workman has to operate in a toilet, and potential toilet customers need to go elsewhere for relief. On the plus side the sound of water in the duct pipes can assist with expediting your own fluid processing.

Door lock finger jamming – the door has one of those conventional rotating knobs used to lock the door from the inside, but its mounted hard up against the door jam which means as you twist the lock there’s a good chance you will pinch your finger between the lock and the jam

Dodgy seat mounting point – this is the most distressing aspect from a visual perspective. without going into too much detail the essential problem is that a seat of the wrong size has been mounted on the bowl which means falling matter has a tendency to collide with the top of the porcelain and miss the water altogether. Despite the forces of gravity you generally need to flush two or three times to save the next visitor an unsightly and unwelcome visual experience.