Apparently terrorism has turned hi-tech. Well, if the idea of having your website jacked and used to spout volatile religious propaganda is the sort of thing that keeps you up at night. Given that the prospect terrifies me, I feel the act can legitimately be described as cyber-terrorism. Nearly 1000 Danish sites have allegedly been hacked in such a manner, in retaliation for having the audacity to discuss the contentious cartoons. Zone-H described it as the fastest politically targetted series of defacements they have seen, perpetrated by both individuals and organised groups. Perhaps P-2006 is next in line. Or perhaps Allah will be offering you V1aGr4 right here. We’re quietly confident that as an omnipotent being He has better things to do than worry about than a few mediocre sketches, and cares even less about our opinion.
Having found devious ways to cram data into the tiniest nooks and even, rumour has it, the very crannies of this laptop’s meagre 60GB harddisk, I finally caved in this evening and purchased an external one. My new acquisition is an Iomega Silver Series 300GB drive for a little over a hundred quid at Amazon. It should be arriving in a few days after which — particularly if the name Syndrome means anything to you — you should find much more available. By which I mean it’ll store a good few law essays.
During my hunt I also came across an offer potent enough to excite gadget lovers of even Ravi proportions. Being a magnanimous sort of chap, I decided to share: In return for nothing more than an email address, you can pick up a £5 Firebox voucher to spend on anything your technophilic heart desires. Speaking of hearts I believe it was intended to be some sort of Valentine’s offer, so hurry to claim yours as it’s then valid for a month. Get them while they’re hot or, given the location, on fire (in the cool sense, not the Danish embassy sense). What did I deign to procure? All I’ll say is this: you can rub it and it’s not Aladdin’s lamp.
And finally, if you’ve been wondering, what the practical results of Google’s self-censorship in China are, here is a stark example: google.com | google.cn.
Kama Sutra was, I think most industry professionals will agree, at best overrated and at worst positively flaccid. I’m referring of course to the latest predicted email virus epidemic, not the book in which Lydia accidentally ended up staring at pictures while squealing. Despite the hype, it’s stunningly low infection rates meant that the 3rd of February strikedate went by with barely a mention. The only thing it really highlighted was the confusion caused by antivirus vendors’ inability to produce a coherent naming system, resulting in half a dozen aliases like MyWife and Blackmal, although (unsurprisingly) the one that stuck was the name inspired by a detailed Sanskrit discourse on sexual behaviour. Which raises the question as to why exactly we boost virus writers’ egos with such names. Surely they would be less inclined to invest so much time if their creations were dubbed things like W32.NeverBeenKissed or Def_SociallyRetarded.
I’ve been going through the stat logs for the site recently and discovered some interesting search strings that led people here. Amusingly, someone had arrived after searching for “Girton Ball 2006”, the wayward soul swiftly discovering that Downing Ball is in fact the way to go. More curious, however, was that someone would even type the words “zaki weird croydon” into a search engine, let alone that it would lead them here. If you can shed any light on this I’d be most interested…
As previously menioned, Lej will be appearing on Richard & Judy this afternoon and, should you be lucky enough to have access to an E4 equipped televisual device, you can see the first episode of Beauty and the Geek this evening. Witness the truth behind the transformation.
And now, as uninviting as the prospect of a legal history essay on the ramifications of the decision in Slade’s Case (1602) may be, it must nevertheless be done.
I had been avoiding the controversy over the publication of the Muhammed cartoons, but I received a copy of them in an email from Stephen who used this form of “publishing” as a show of solidarity. So aside from the generic freedom of expression debate that is raging, here are a few thoughts:
First off, they’re not even that good. They’re pretty rough drawings and recognising what one guy described as “a stick figure with a beard” as the Prophet is actually a bit of a stretch in some cases.
Protesting allusions of terrorism by burning down buildings — does that strike anyone as slightly self-defeating?
Does anyone remember Popetown, that controversial cartoon about corruption in the Catholic Church? No? Do you know why? Because aside from a letter-writing campaign there was very little reaction against it, resulting in very little publicity and it sinking without a trace (well, there is a DVD if you look for it…)
Every religion has the right to respect. No religion has the right not to be criticised.
My wife and my mistress have been getting on remarkably well since I introduced them a week ago (for those looking slightly perplexed at this point, that would be my college wife Charlotte and my girlfriend Kirsten). They had dinner together on Friday and have arranged a shopping trip soon, it all being slightly disconcerting if not entirely unexpected.
Lej, it would seem, unsatisfied with his reality TV fame, is now soaring to the heady heights of daytime television. That’s right, ladies and gents, I am told our very own Lejmund will be appearing on none other than that bastion of daytime procrastination, Richard & Judy, Tuesday 5-6pm. Hopefully they’ll be a little less superficially critical than The Sun article…
Since reformatting this machine my font collection has been sizably diminished. In checking out the latest new batch I came across the new Microsoft collection from the latest Vista builds. Easy on-screen reading has become their priority and, aside from confusingly all beginning with the letter C, this new range of defaults looks very good. That said, although the Calibri font has been heralded as a great improvement, the use of ClearType in the IE7 beta has had mixed reviews. I should point out that although I link to the beta for completeness, given Microsoft’s infamous browser insecurity I wouldn’t recommend installing it on any machine that is, say, actually connected to the internet. Especially with the recent news of an exploit being sold underground by Russian hackers in December for $4,000. Hacking can be more profitable than many people realise.
I haven’t discussed recent trailers for a while so here are my hot picks. Having seen Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s performance in Mysterious Skin, my anticipation couldn’t be higher for Brick, a seriously gritty looking modern film noir — the antithesis of the comic Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, I suppose. Idlewild looks as though we may at last have a black cast producing an all-round film instead of relying on race clichés. That it stars OutKast is sure to bring in the crowds, André Benjamin carving quite a reputation for himself in acting circles. Hard Candy will make for uncomfortable viewing, but the trailer’s closing leaves me utterly perplexed as to where exactly the film is going. Silent Hill could transfer the tension of its game origins to the big screen, and at worst should be a visual treat. Ultraviolet looks utterly silly but with the beautiful Milla kicking arse and shooting guns, what more can you ask for in no-brain sci-fi?
Finally, for all you undead fans out there, I came across a story about zombie roaches. The wasp Ampulex compressa has developed a toxin which it can inject directly into the brain of its cockroach victim, destroying its escape reflex. It can then lead the cockroach back to the nest, whereupon it lays eggs inside it. The larvae then feed on its organs until they emerge from inside in Alien fashion. Nature is twisted fun.
I don’t know if games are just getting shorter or easier or if developers are just getting stingier with previews, but I remember a time when I couldn’t install, play through, and uninstall two demos in under an hour. To save you a little time, here are my thoughts on Ankh and TimeShift. The former is more a curiosity really, unremarkable other than the fact it’s a proper, old school point-and-click adventure game. Vivid characters and amusing dialogue make it a decent enough offering from the small German studio, but it’s no Grim Fandango. More interesting, in fact, is the “online riddle” to accompany the game’s website, created by the makers of the fantastically infuriating Notpron.
TimeShift is a high concept action game in which you play Swift, the world’s first chrononaut, equipped with a quantum suit that allows you to slow down, stop, and reverse the flow of time while engaging in futuristic firefights. Although it sounds like a new experience, it’s really just a blend of elements we’ve seen before in Prince of Persia’s time-reversal, F.E.A.R.’s adrenaline, and Max Payne’s bullet-time. Each of these games weaved one element into the gameplay seamlessly. From this demo it was too short to tell, but aside from puzzles designed round the — err — time shifts, the whole system feels rather clunky. Oh, and if your graphics card lacks a nuclear-powered core, don’t expect much from the framerate either. Or is that some sort of special time effect? I can’t even tell.
Speaking of temporal shifts, I stumbled upon this touching trailer for a love that could never be, a relationship spanning time, Brokeback to the Future.
Toby plugged a photo of me into this facial recognition site and I’m rather proud of the result to be honest.
A JCR forum post reminded me that I’d been intending to direct facebook addicts towards the Cambridge division’s facebook song. I consider it a vast improvement over the indie whining of Facebook Friends or the hip hop stylings of Facebook Livin from our transatlantic brethren. Peace. Out.
Today’s Ball publicity drive at the Sidgwick was pretty successful, albeit slightly deserted on a Friday. Crass promotion is always marginally less painful when done in teams, especially when it includes the diverse mixture of Andy W’s malcontent cynicism with Lucy’s hyperactive cheerfulness — I smell a sitcom. Indeed, the team found my approach of walking up to a random stranger and kissing them a slightly odd (if very effective) way to introduce the Downing Ball. That the stranger in question was, in fact, my girlfriend Kirsten makes the whole thing somewhat less scandelous. Having plastered all faculties within range and stealthily deposited our swanky beermats in strategic high-caffeine locations, we considered our job done. I still have a whole bunch of beermats, essentially a miniature version of Yotam’s stylish poster, which you may like for your room or an appropriate common area. Just let me know and they’re yours.
If you’re in Cambridge and reading this then I’m quite sure you’ve booked your tickets already. If not, why not?
Our GoogleAds displayed a link recommending I try out NewsGator this afternoon. It’s actually something I’d been intending to use for a while and it’s a great web-based alternative if you don’t fancy downloading your own news aggregator. It lets you read tailored headlines from all your favourite sources in one place through a remarkably clean interface. The downside is that the free subscription service only allows one feed directly from a URL; the rest must be chosen from NewsGator’s (admittedly wide) list of choices. Since I use Thunderbird for email, I can get as many feeds as I like through there. Please do recommend any alternatives that you’ve found.
In case you missed Wednesday’s offer of Windows Live Messenger invites, I’ve got my hands on a few more so anyone can leave a comment to get hold of one. Once this lot are gone, that’s it though. Meanwhile, I’m still after a Google Analytics invite if anyone has a hot lead…
A quick update to raise awareness about an issue affecting the Arts Picturehouse that has just been brought to my attention:
The Arts Picturehouse is currently under serious threat from planned licensing changes to The Regal pub situated below us.
Changes to the pub’s licence would mean live and recorded music playing in the pub, which will be heard in one of our auditoriums – whilst you are trying to watch a movie.
We urge any patrons who feel the same way as we do to join us in our fight by objecting to any licence changes. You can register your complaint directly at the council by writing to: env.health[at]cambridge.gov.uk
Any complaints need to be made by Friday 3rd February 2006.
Now I’m certainly no enemy of alcohol but I think the ‘Spoons seems to be pulling in enough custom as it is (in fact Alex and I were there just last night). And whether you’re a Picturehouse regular or just an occassional visitor, I’m sure you’ll agree it’s a unique resource that does need to be protected. Don’t worry about fancily worded objections but hurry if you want to show your support because complaints must be sent by this Friday.
Fancy trying out the new Windows Live Messenger? Well, in the generous tradition of P-2006, we have a bunch of invites that we’re just giving away. How can you get your hands on these veritable golden tickets, the likes of which have not been seen since a certain chocolatier opened the doors of his factory to ten guests? Simply email competition[at]meewella.com with your desired email address for addition. But there is a catch. When the email is read, your MSN display name must include a reference to P-2006 or meewella.com. If not, your entry will be ignored. So it couldn’t be simpler, really. Despite being a beta, WLM is incredibly stable and I’ve had no issues with it at all yet. So enter for the chance to experience the future of instant messaging now.
Luke pointed out that the new site design did not display any link to the RSS feed. This has now been remedied with the Feeds page, which allows you to select your preferred flavour of syndication. Firefox users, as always, can create a live bookmark. Like me you may not immediately have noticed that in Firefox 1.5 the icon for creating live bookmarks has moved to the top of the sreen, at the right side of the address bar.
Now you are probably familiar with fascinating procrastination device that is Google Video, an archive to which anyone may submit their own videos, resulting in a repository of old TV ads, amusing news stories, and weird webcam sing-alongs. The latter may or may not be a positive thing. On Monday Guy came over from The Other Place to Tabland or whatever it is those people call it. While chatting over a couple of hot drinks in Café Nero, we both found ourselves looking up and shaking our heads at the sound of Pachelbel’s Canon drifting lazily from the speakers. It immediately conjured for us both memories of Whitgift String Orchestra, at whose concerts its performance was a staple, albeit under the none too subtle nickname Packard Bell’s Canon. And by some bizarre confluence of musical mysticism it was that evening I came across Canon Rock on Google Video. Now if only Mr. Winter had considered that at the Royal Albert Hall…