Just some very quick links tonight, as it was a long
away with murder - philosopher and scientist Daniel Dennett on how the
Intelligent Design loons are perpetrating their hoax.
Damn lies and statistics - an article in New Scientist suggests that
as many as half of all scientific research papers may have flaws that
invalidate their basic conclusions.
Apple beaten again - still reeling from the loss of on iPod patent to
Microsoft, Apple have now had a second application rejected in favour of a
competing claim from Creative.
Don't eat the
worm - all is not completely rosy for Creative, though, as some of
their latest Zen Neeon MP3 players have apparently shipped complete with a
copy of the Wullik.B worm.
- most of the RIAA's victims have had no choice but to settle, but this
time the worm is turning - and her lawyers thinks she has a very good
chance of winning in court.
servers too hot - a start-up manufacturing blade systems has slammed
Dell's 1U servers for their low processor density and excessive heat
output, but they're not really comparing like-for-like...
the juice go - Silent PC Review has an interesting article on
the consumption of power inside a PC, and once again confirms the low
overall demands of modern systems.
Universal connectivity - this neat little IDE to USB adapter will
accept 5¼" optical devices as well as both desktop and laptop hard disks,
just the thing for a quick disk-to-disk copy.
Silent but powerful
- an exotic new hybrid PSU from MGE relies mostly on a giant heatsink for
passive cooling, and at 600W is currently the most powerful of its type.
When geeks go bad, part
President Kennedy was shown a model of Orion that
had 500 Minuteman-style warheads on it, and the means for propelling
them out with directional explosives. We were looking at the scale model
... just simply discussing how powerful it could be, and I said "Well,
it would take out every Russian city over a population of 200,000 ...
we'd have enough weapons to do that".
He was absolutely appalled that that was going on,
had no use for it. So not everybody greeted the project with enthusiasm.
They did when it was presented as a way of exploring space and mostly
were very disapproving when it was presented as a space battleship or
anything like that.
- Dave Weiss, quoted in George Dyson's excellent book
It is interesting to note that even at the height of
the cold war, at least in this case, the politicians and military men were
acting as a brake on the destructive imagination of the geeks. Scientists
and engineers working in these areas are often depicted as rather naive,
un-worldly people engaged in purely theoretical research that is then
hijacked and corrupted by the military-industrial combine and turned into
weapons - but I wonder if often the researchers willingly lead the way,
fully aware of the horrendous practical applications of their work but
caught up in the sheer elegance of their designs. For all Freeman Dyson
and his colleagues dreamed of visiting the moons of Saturn in Orion, they
evidently had no problem visualising it orbiting the Earth with an arsenal
of hydrogen bombs as well...
The Orion team thought that they would have to sell the
concept of a giant
atomic spacecraft by proposing military applications that would
justify the enormous expense and the politically dubious propulsion
method, but it seems that the majority of the people they were trying to
convince were actually somewhat shocked by the raw destructive power that
was being proposed. A number of factors caused the project's eventual
cancellation in 1965, but that was probably one of the unspoken ones.
Meanwhile, back at the links...
cell for laptops - about the size of a paperback book and weighing
1kg, the methanol-based fuel cell delivers 25 watts of power and can drive
a typical laptop for around a day. The only drawback is its price,
currently in the tens of thousands of dollars...
- this enterprising Italian modder has stripped down his PSU and sprayed
the PCB, components and all, in a beautiful shade of orange. I wouldn't do
this myself, but I have to admit that the effect is marvellous.
speaks out - it takes the company a mere four minutes to assemble a
standard desktop PC, but apparently up to thirty seconds of that
time is taken up in attaching the little stickers that Intel, Microsoft,
AMD and others insist on - and for obvious reasons Dell isn't very happy
unusual PC - Lian Li's PC-777 "Memorial Model" (apparently the
company is celebrating its 20th anniversary) is shaped like a giant
nautilus shell stood on end. It's impressive, and unique, and could be a
wonderful talking point - but you wouldn't see me buying one, for sure!
So it looks as if Executive Software, recently renamed
and re-launched as the
Diskeeper Corporation after their flagship product, has joined the
other big names of the software industry in charging for updates and
bugfixes. I went to their site this morning for the first time since the
changes, in case a patch existed to fix the woefully sluggish file
restoration I was experiencing with their Undelete product on my home
server. However, even after a good five minutes of searching around the
site, and then searching the Diskeeper support pages for confirmation as
well, the only available downloads are demo versions and most of the rest
of the once voluminous tech support area has been replaced with a lot of
marketing fluff about how their new two year support contract will save me
money. It's hard to see how.
I am strongly opposed to this policy, as (along
with products from every other major software manufacturer) Executive
Software's applications have been far from perfect at the time of release.
I've been using Diskeeper and Undelete from the very start, and I can't
remember a major version that didn't need at least a couple of updates
within the first six months of use, and then what they euphemistically
tended to describe as a "Second Edition" build (most people would call it
a service pack...) half way through the version's life-span. Without these
fixes the products were not only fragile and buggy, but in some cases
downright dangerous to use - and one should not take chances with an
application that has control over the physical location of every file on a
Being obliged to pay a support fee (and from what I can
see a not inconsiderable one, at that!) just to receive bug fixes that
make the product safe and suitable for use is a scam, in my opinion, and
it's a real shame to see what used to be one of the great third-tier
software houses succumbing to the greed-head corporate bastardry that is
unfortunately becoming endemic throughout the industry.
It is interesting to note that, for all their
reputation as the spawn of Satan, this is something that Microsoft have
never done - patches and service packs for Microsoft operating systems and
applications have always been both free and easy to obtain, and I haven't
heard any suggestion that this is due to change. Food for thought, isn't
Meanwhile, elsewhere - a little early for the reminder,
perhaps, but better than too late - don't forget that next month sees the
annual Talk Like A Pirate Day rolling round again. Somewhat to my
surprise, the meme has expanded considerably since it was
first publicised in Dave Barry's legendary column in the Miami Herald,
and has now spawned a number of
matter - free software evangelist Richard Stallman has waded into the
Linux trademark furore, and as usual his contribution is not likely to
smooth the turbulent waters of the open source movement. Actually,
referring to it is a "movement" is becoming increasingly inappropriate, as
in the last year or two the previously fairly close-knit community has
factioned into so many splinter sects that I'm inevitably reminded of the
scene in Life
Of Brian where nobody can remember which revolutionary group they're a
Martian dust devils - stills taken from NASA's wonderfully successful
over a period of several hours have been bound into an animated GIF which
shows the progression of a cluster of little whirlwinds over the Martian
potential exists for much larger phenomena, however, and vortices have
been photographed from orbit that measure 2km across at the base and up to
10km tall - a whole different kettle of fish, given the current plans for
a manned mission.
- once more proving that a surprisingly number of people have far too much
free time in their hands, what looks like an Econoline van kitted out with
a number of circuit boards and control panels apparently "recycled" from
one of the simulators used to train the Skylab crews back in the
seventies. I can actually hear my space-head friend Mike gritting his
teeth from three counties away...
Einstein scans - the pages of a 1925 manuscript entitled "Quantum
theory of the monatomic ideal gas" have been unearthed at the Lorentz
Institute for Theoretical Physics, apparently a working copy used to
correct the paper before publication and inadvertently left behind at
Leiden University. The work contained the final scientific discovery of
Einstein's career, the prediction of the new state of matter now called
the Bose-Einstein condensate, which was not
verified experimentally until 1995.
In spite of the neat slide-out design of the hard disk
mounting frames in my Lian Li PC-V2000 case, the water cooling hardware
ensures that the drives are far from hot-swappable. I really didn't want
to have to disconnect and drain the coolers, though, and an additional
hand or two would have very been useful when I was trying to slide the
entire cluster out of the frame together. I managed in the end, however,
and the new drive is in place and busily mirroring back into the array as
I write this.
Meanwhile, some links...
- my friends know that I am a fan of the TV show
Futurama almost to the point
of evangelism, but the idea of a PC case in the shape of a life-sized
model of the robot character Bender is probably a little too much - even if it
does say "Bite my shiny metal ass" on demand...
- regular readers of Dan's Data already know that he is an aficionado of
torches and other illuminating gadgets, and his recent review has not only not
biggest flashlight I've ever seen, but also an upgrade that replaces the
incandescent bulb with a phenomenally powerful LED unit.
Friend of Tuva -
another one for my wish list, Genghis Blues is the highly acclaimed story
of the American blues singer Paul Pena's visit to Tuva to learn more about their
unique style of throat singing, culminating in his participation in the annual
music contest, the first American ever to do so.
- in 1946 a pair of nuclear weapons were tested at Bikini Atoll in the
Marshall Islands, and unlike the later bomb tests Operation Crossroads was
extensively covered by the international media. As part of this, the
explosions and their effects were recorded in a series of remarkable
cards - for some odd reason the original baseball players on these cards
have been replaced with great scientists, complete with a miniature
summary of their life and work. There's a fair selection, from James Clerk
Maxwell to Stephen Jay Gould, via (of course!) Richard Feynman.
trainer - this neat little applet teaches the basics of a Turning Machine in
a form reminiscent of a puzzle-solving game, writing simple rules to navigate a
little bird-like character around a field of coloured blocks, reacting to them
by changing the colours and moving in different directions.
Many flavours of Windows - DVDs containing multiple versions of
Windows XP are starting to spread on the P2P networks, ranging from
cut-down "Lite" editions to specialist diagnostics toolkits. It's just
like a set of pre-compiled Linux distributions, in fact, except that it's
not actually very legal...
Over the last week I've been trying to register a neat
little shareware MP3 editing tool, eMusic Tag Editor from
Abyss Audio, and unfortunately it
just isn't working out. Registrations are handled on their behalf by
Share-It, part of the increasingly
ubiquitous Element 5 company that seems to be quietly taking over
the entire online software purchase market, but although they were happy
to accept my money the delivery of the registration code was to be handled
by the software manufacturer itself.
No code has been forthcoming in the week since I
registered, however, and there has been no response to either my own email
enquiries or those sent on my behalf by Share-It. Unfortunately this
doesn't seem to be a recent development - some searching has turned up
another customer with an identical experience back in February,
although the middleman in this case was
RegNow instead of Share-IT, and if they weren't delivering codes back
in February, and they're not delivering codes now in August, I think it's
safe to assume that they're not delivering codes full stop.
For some butt-headed reason the weblog's author wants
people to register before they can leave comments, so I didn't bother
adding to his post, but I thoroughly endorse his suggestion that any
potential customers of Abyss Audio would be well advised to
contact the company before
attempting to register their software, just to confirm that they do still
actually exist. Definitely not recommended at this stage...
doesn't pay - another of the world's most prolific spammers has been
arrested following the closure of his illegal online prescription drugs
service Xpress Pharmacy Direct. Charges include conspiracy to
dispense controlled substances, wire fraud, money laundering, distributing
controlled substances and introducing misbranded drugs into interstate
commerce, and with a list like that I suspect he's going down for a
looooong time. :-)
studios seeing the light - after years of claming that P2P file
sharing was to blame for falling cinema attendances, the studios are
finally beginning to wonder if maybe, just maybe, the films
themselves are actually too poor to attract viewers. Even massive hype
won't turn a bad movie into a good one, they're realising, and neither
will low-life tactics such as Sony's recent campaign of falsified reviews.
About time they stopped passing the buck and started facing reality, it
seems to me...
Wired on fashionable theft - a new socio-artistic movement is
blossoming in Europe, apparently, with trendy teens promoting
anti-consumerism and the ideals of brand-free living by "liberating" goods
from shops. "Yomangtistas" also rage against consumer culture by
stealing supermarket food for park picnics or riding on public transport
without paying", says Wired, but teens did that when I was young in
the seventies, too, and nobody claimed they were raging against anything -
they just thought they were juvenile delinquents...
Hot hardware - Bit-Tech compares the latest dual core Pentium
with the previous flagship, and asks whether dual execution units are a
match for higher clock speed and Hyperthreading. As usual, though, their
actual recommendation for bang-per-buck is AMD's Athlon 64 X2. Meanwhile,
SystemCooling reviews Sytek's rather spiffy new
keyboard. A full-length EL sheet provides a strong blue glow not only
up between the keys, but also through the laser-etched symbols on the
keycaps. It's certainly an elegant piece of kit...
Elsewhere, the power supply stress tests at Tom's
Hardware Guide are over, and the winners and losers are quite
Seasonic S12 that has been on my short list is one of the former,
winning praise both for its performance under load and its quiet
operation. However, with a number of other PSUs not meeting the standards
for stability under load, or even suffering catastrophic hardware failure,
it was really nice to see
message from the CEO of PC Power & Cooling (manufacturer of the most
powerful ATX PSU currently available) suggesting that the battery of tests
devised by THG were actually quite undemanding by their own QA standards.
It's nice to see someone putting his mouth where his money is!
I came across a new wrinkle to an old technique, today,
when what appeared to be gibberish in my mailer's flat text window
resolved itself into classic ASCII banner lettering when viewed in HTML.
At the moment this trick will sneak right through most Bayesian-type spam
filters (as, indeed, it sneaked through mine) and until the software is
tuned to cope it's going to be a very worthwhile spamming strategy. You
have to admire the sheer cunning of some of the geeks who have gone
over to the dark side...
I mentioned last week that I'd had some problems with
Manager utility, when an attempt to merge two partitions on a
Server 2003 system resulted in the second partition disappearing
permanently and without trace. This was bad enough, but the responses from
the company's technical support were just downright peculiar!
The first message said that I had performed an
unsupported operation and that it was the fault of their software for
having permitted it in the first place. The second, arriving less than an
hour later, asked me to disregard the first message, and admitted that
what I had done was indeed a perfectly valid operation. It also told me
that the company had run the same operation I did, as a test, and in the
process had lost the data on both partitions - but that I should probably
ignore that as the disk in question was old and had bad blocks!
Next they asked whether I was looking at the screen
when the process failed, and if so whether I could tell them any error
messages that appeared, as in spite of having already sent them three
different log files apparently the actual error was not recorded in any of
them! Unfortunately, I am both too easily bored to spend four hours
watching a progress bar crawl across a screen, and also rather too busy to
act as a substitute for adequate logging!
The next message reported that they had replicated the
operation again, presumably on a computer without a faulty disk
drive, and that everything worked correctly. It went on to ask me exactly
why I had carried out the operation in the specific way I did, which I
thought was an extremely odd question as all I'd done was follow the
automated "wizard" provided in the software specifically for that
particular merge process!
By this time I was starting to realise that I wasn't
actually going to get anything useful in the way of advice from them, and
as deadlines were looming I gave up on the idea of restoring the missing
partition itself, instead using a different utility to expand the existing
partition into the free space and then restoring the rest of the data from
In many years of using the
PowerQuest partition editors,
Partition Magic and the server equivalents Server Magic and
Volume Manager, I never lost any data. There were plenty of problems,
of course, and much teeth-grinding frustration, but every single time the
fail state rolled back automatically to the previous configuration and the
data remained completely intact. However, since their acquisition by
Symantec (along with almost every other utility software company, it
seems!) development of these products has stalled completely and there
isn't currently anything in their catalogue that will safely edit
partitions on a Server 2003 system. This is a great loss, and is the only
reason why I have had to turn to alternatives.
I have to say that I am not at all impressed with
either Paragon or their software. To have such a serious error on my first
attempt to use the product, and during a thoroughly routine partition
merge operation at that, is not very reassuring - and then to receive such
a disorganised and, frankly, bizarre response from their technical
support department does not help that one little bit. I expect I'll be
using the product again, as there really isn't much choice, but I will
never have the same air of confidence that I enjoyed from the PowerQuest
products and I doubt my fingernails will survive the experience intact.
With a phone cradle by the gearshift and a mount for my
Navman GPS system up on the windscreen, some people would say that my
car's interior already has space for as many gadgets as Batman's utility
belt, but evidently that wasn't enough for me. The latest addition (and
actually I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to get around to it) is a
Brodit ProClip and passive cradle to
hold my Palm Tungsten T3 PDA, absolutely vital for playing
audiobooks during my daily commute.
Brodit's range of mounting hardware is available for
pretty much any vehicle under the sun, and differs widely from car to car
and even from location to location within that car - in fact, so far I've
never seen two that are attached in quite the same way. The model for
Ros's Jeep Grand Cherokee clipped under a fascia panel at one end and used
double-sided tape at the other, for example, and the one for my old Ford
Grenada snapped neatly onto one of the the dashboard air vents. Installing
the clip in my BMW 5 series involved removing a small plastic trim panel
and attaching the clip's back plate with the two screws that were then
revealed. It fits exactly in place of the trim panel, and apart from the
two exposed screw heads (I shall try to find little caps for those, I
think) it gives a very neat finish. The ball joint is then attached to the
clip with four more screws, the cradle attaches to the ball joint, and the
Palm slips snugly into the cradle.
Installation took just a few minutes and required
nothing more exotic than a screwdriver, and the end result is reassuringly
solid and stable. A little electronic microsurgery shortened the cable on
my cassette adaptor (almost too short, in fact, thanks to a small
miscalculation somewhere!) to avoid several feet of slack floating around,
and I'm very pleased with the way it all worked out. I can also recommend
the company who supplied both clip and cradle,
Handnav Technology, who seem to
sell pretty much everything in the way of in-car gadgetry, as well as the
hardware required to mount it, and managed to ship my order in just a
couple of days.
Yesterday may well have felt more like a Friday than a
Monday, but unfortunately today does not feel like a Saturday. More
on a theme - at the excellent SystemCooling site, a review of
the Koolance CPU-300-V10 water blocks in my Infinity4 system, going
into far more detail than I had the time or inclination to. They have
reviews of the
video card cooler and the smaller,
PC-V1000-based version of my PC3 series case, too, and a useful guide
to replacing the
button of this range of cases with the popular Bulgin illuminated
By any other
name - a fuss is brewing over letters sent out by Linus Torvalds'
attorney asking companies to pay a licensing fee of between $200 - $5000
for using the Linux name. Linus himself is back-pedalling massively, of
course, claiming that nobody is out to make a profit from the OS and that
the license enforcement is simply a legal requirement of maintaining
control over the trademark.
Awful, awful rumours - via Boing Boing, one for my Trekkie
friend Mike... A list of titles for Klingon fairy tales, including
"Goldilocks Dies With Honor at the Hands of the Three Bears", and
"The Hare Foolishly Lowers His Guard and Is Devastated by the Tortoise,
Whose Prowess in Battle Attracts Many Desirable Mates". Indeed.
Who knew? - apparently Cliff
Stoll, some-time astronomer, old-time sysadmin and author of the wonderful
book "The Cuckoo's Egg", owns a glass works in Oakland specialising in
Klein Bottles and related objects. His latest showpiece is a metre tall,
but the less ambitious items are somewhat more affordable - and being
Cliff, he even sells the shards of ones that broke! The
Stein is especially neat, but beware of the puns...
but perfectly formed - the Butterfly is a tiny remote controlled model
plane, with a 15cm wingspan and weighing only 3.6gms, but which
nevertheless has a proper four channel digital proportional control
system, a minute rechargeable battery, and the most exquisite little
motor, gearbox and actuator. it can be flown indoors in any reasonably
sized room, and even comes with a PC-based flight simulator with which to
learn the controls. Gorgeous...
It's only Monday, but it feels more like Friday so
you'll just have to survive with another handful of links.
Enermax to ship 1kW power supply - yes, that's 1000 Watts. This
has got a little out of hand, I think, as the general consensus is that
even the 800W units on the market are vastly over-specced for any current
hardware. The only advantage, I suppose, is that in most PCs it would be
running so far below its peak capacity that at least the fan would
for Governor - I'm still reading "The Second Coming Of Steve Jobs",
and it's still making me shake my head in disbelief, so
the news that he may be running for Governor of California on the Democrat
ticket fills me with unease. The appalling way that he behaved towards his
staff at Apple, NeXT and Pixar does not inspire confidence over
what he would do to an entire state...
last few drops out - the new V5.7 release of ATI's Catalyst video
driver suite includes wider support for their HyperMemory technology, a
memory management system that can bring noticeable performance
improvements to older, lower-spec hardware such as my increasingly
obsolete Radeon 9800Pro All-In-Wonder.
Authentic marketing drivel - Symantec's acquisition of security
company Sygate was announced with the following statement:
"Sygate's technology will complement Symantec's
presence on the endpoint to create a holistic solution to address the
security, compliance, and remediation requirements of today's large
It's always nice to know that my remediation
requirements will be addressed holistically. Hmmm, maybe Symantec can sell
me software that will tell me what "remediation" actually means?
controversial theory - George Ou at ZDNet suggests that the last few
years of worms and viruses have actually been beneficial to Windows
security, causing network admins to improve their overall levels of
security to the point where Windows servers are now being hacked and
defaced far less often than equivalent Linux systems.
Smart doors - the latest technology from Japan (where else?) is a door
composed of multiple horizontal strips, which slide back to form an
aperture of the approximate shape and size of the person approaching. This
is designed to minimise the movement of air between the controlled
environment inside a building and the uncontrolled environment outside.
Pots and kettles - adware company 180Solutions is suing several of its
software distributors, who it claims installed its software on target
computers after gaining illegal access to them via malicious worms or
similar. Given that the normal way of installing the product is to lie,
evade and deceive the system's owner, I can't actually see much
Apple extends warranties - the warranty period on the troublesome iMac
G5 range has been stretched to two years because of the widespread
failures of components in the video and power supply subsystems. Given the
recent revelations of equally widespread issues with the memory expansion
current PowerBook models, it's obvious that there are big problems in
their manufacturing process.
And finally, spotted by the eagle-eyed
Avedon Carol, classic sysadmin humour.
Apparently it was an IBM advert back in the mid-nineties, although if
so it's not one I remember... The original host site has some pictures of
pretty computer cases, too.
My entire existence seems to have revolved around
repairing disk volumes, recently. Friday afternoon brought the
disappearing partition on a server at the office, most of Saturday was
spent working on the dying drive in Avedon's laptop, and to add insult to
injury one of the Maxtor disks in the SATA RAID array in
Infinity4 has just
turned up its toes as well.
The latter is especially annoying, as I bought it
during the period when Maxtor (along with most of the other manufacturers)
had shaved the warranty on their desktop hardware down to just a year - I
ordered the drives in October 2003 when they were evidently already over a
month old, as
at Maxtor's web site shows that the warranty expired in September 2004 -
after only eleven months of actual use! Shortly after that a wave of
anxious mutterings in the IT press and elsewhere caused the warranty
period for the same models to creep back up to three years, but that
doesn't help my drive at all and I have no recourse but to bite the
bullet and shell out for another.
The DiamondMax Plus 9 models are no longer in
production, and although I could substitute the equivalent Plus 10 I
prefer to keep all the drives in a RAID array as similar as possible.
Fortunately they still seem to be available cheaply enough on eBay as new,
unused stock, and I'm currently watching one that even has nine months of
its warranty left. Finding a drive is only half the story, however, as
swapping out a unit right in the middle of the water-cooled stack is going
to be more than a little challenging - something that I have to admit
didn't occur to me when I made those
neat little connecting
So, while I ponder the mysteries of something that
resembles one of those annoying 3D metal puzzles, only with added water
and electricity, here are some links:
Kustom PCs' new
clothes - my favourite UK modding supplier has re-launched its web
site on the back of a significant expansion in its product range. As well
as the usual components, they're now offering a wide range of ready-made
and customised PCs and even <whispers> Mac systems.
Boing Boing issues a challenge - in response to the
claptrap spouted by a brainless religious fundamentalist, contributors
to the popular geek weblog are backing their own counter-challenge with a
cool $1 million.
shown as lying bastards again - an article at Wired the
recording industry association's frequent assertions that CD piracy is a
well-organised multi-million dollar business run by the Mafia have no more
truth than anything else that uniquely corrupt organ has claimed.
promotes Bacchus - with their aptly-named Phantom games console now
almost three years late, ex-Microsoft Xbox division founder Kevin Bacchus
has been made CEO of the company. After all the hype, lies and lawsuits,
does this mean that we might actually live to see them ship a product?
Not with a whimper, but a bang - just as he requested, the ashes of
the great counter-culture writer Hunter S. Thompson have been blown into
the sky by explosives mounted
at the top of a 153' tower modelled on the author's Gonzo logo. That
man had style right to the last, and is sadly missed...
Discovery piggybacks home - after the successful return of the
shuttle last week, it's clear why NASA really hates landing them anywhere
other than Canaveral. The specially modified 747 that is carrying it back
from Edwards AFB in California will cost around $1 million and need two
geek toys - Dynamism imports the latest computer hardware and
gadgets (look at this
one!) from the Far East, but unlike the majority of grey market vendors
they take responsibility for the warranty and will organise replacement or
return in the case of problems. (Thanks to visiting US fan Lise Eisenberg
for the pointer. Good luck with the journey home, Lise!)
Not the best end to the week, when a
editing tool I was using for the first time this afternoon decided to
delete one of the two partitions I was merging. I can pull everything back
from tape, of course, but I'd much rather I didn't have to! It's not the
best introduction to the software, I have to say, and I am awaiting the
manufacturer's response with some interest.
New hardware from Koolance - the dual hard disk cooler has been
expected for a few months now, but didn't make it into production in time
to be included in Infinity4.
It seems to be a very workable solution, though, and would probably offer
less resistance to the water flow than an equivalent pair of single-drive
units. Koolance have decided to offer the integrated cooling solution from
their current PC3 series cases as
a DIY option, too - basically an Exos-2 without the outer casing, it
would be easy to build into the top of an appropriate full tower and in my
opinion is a very polished and worthwhile product.
once, shame on you - some organisations are sending phishing emails to
their own users in an attempt to educate them on the risks, but Charles
Jade at Ars.Technica is dubious about the risk of spoofing your own
staff: "Has anyone considered the ramifications of eroding the
trust of individuals within an organization towards the organization and
each other?" It's a good point...
Still need to
get a life - following yesterday's link to virtual PIs spying on
virtual adulterers, comes an article at New Scientist (which should
probably know better) discussing the growing problem of virtual
crime. Apparently gangs of mugger 'bots are stalking the virtual worlds,
beating up player characters and stealing their possessions to fence later
at an online auction site. Am I alone in thinking that this is all getting
a little bit silly...?
The Rest Of The Robots - allegedly inspired by the remnants of the
Terminator robot propelling itself by clawing fingers at the end of the
first movie, CRAWLER (Cylindrical Robot for Autonomous Walking and Lifting
during Emergency Response - talk about a contrived acronym) is a
search-and-rescue device designed for manoeuvring in extremely confined
Peeling back the
shell - industrial research firm iSupply apparently makes a living
from dissecting electronics hardware, and their investigation into the Mac
Mini reveals that, based on the cost of components and manufacture, Apple
are making a significant profit on every sale. However, their
investigation into one of HP's current photo printers suggests that it is
actually being sold considerably below cost, which rather confirms the
idea that the ink cartridges are where the company really makes its
Making a sow's
ear from a silk purse - Ars.Technica has published the first
instalment of a guide to editing and manipulating digital images. It's
decidedly tongue-in-cheek, but contains a lot of useful information, and
although the screen shots are obviously taken from a Mac of some kind, so
far the guide is thoroughly platform-independent. Well worth the read.
More on the Apple iPod patent - although it's undeniably rather
amusing that Microsoft beat Apple to patenting of their own user
interface, much of the media speculation over royalty payments etc. is
still rather premature. There are a number of approaches Apple could take
to reclaiming the IP, and with more than a third of their revenues coming
from the pesky little MP3 players, as well as the matter of principle,
you can bet that they won't give up without a fight.
Using samples of spoken word in music tracks is nothing
new, of course, and if that was all Australian band
The Avalanches did then there wouldn't really be much to
differentiate them from 1980s sampling pioneers
Pop Will Eat Itself.
Extracting individual actors from old movies and blending them seamlessly
into the accompanying music videos is somewhat different, however,
and the video for their current hit "Frontier
Psychiatrist" is a wonderful showcase of exactly how accomplished
and versatile the state of the art in desktop video mixing has become. The
basic techniques were pioneered in Hollywood for movies such as Woody
Allen's Zelig and Forrest Gump, of course, but a video from
what is something of an unknown niche band can't have had more than a tiny
fraction of that money spent on it and it's a tribute to both the software
and the artists that the end product is so very smooth.
It's also extremely odd,
with a flavour of both PWEI and the Subgenius Arise! movie to name
but two. It doesn't make me want to go out and buy their album (although
thinking of Arise! made me go out and buy a
shiny new DVD to
replace my tired old VHS copy) but it's certainly interesting and unusual.
Boing Boing for the pointer.
Rather less unusual, sadly, is
the repeated failure of Scan Computers
to sell me the products that they advertise on their web site. The hard
disk in Avedon's laptop
is heading west at the moment, and I wanted to get the same 5400rpm
Seagate Momentus drive that has served well in my Latitude C840 in time to
swap drives at the weekend. Scan showed the model as being in stock, and
offered next day delivery, so I placed the order on Tuesday - only to have
the online status display languish for two days at "Payment Authorised"
with no sign at all of moving on to "Picking". Now, this is exactly what
happened the last time I placed an order with them, in July, so I wasn't
terribly surprised when a terse email enquiry this morning provoked the
admission that, in spite of what the web site still showed, the
model was actually out of stock! The delay has left me short of time, so I
agreed to substitute a similar Fujitsu model that is hopefully on its way
to me now, but I have serious misgivings about ordering from them again if
there's any degree of urgency involved. Once I could overlook, but twice
in a few weeks is too much, and so Scan have earned themselves a place in
Stock Control League.
Intelligent Falling - at The Onion, a wonderful parody of that
Intelligent Design mumbo-jumbo that the brainless religious nuts are
proposing as an alternative to evolution. "Things fall
not because they are acted upon by some gravitational force, but because a
higher intelligence, 'God' if you will, is pushing them down".
Taking things a little too far - apparently players of the popular
online game Second Life have been known to hire virtual private
detectives to follow their virtual spouse's character around the game to
make sure that they're not having a virtual affair. <shakes head
sadly> Rarely has the suggestion to "get a life!" been more
IMSAI 8080 reborn -
the vintage computer company has re-released its classic seventies S-100
bus computer, resplendent with a wonderful toggles-and-lights front panel,
in a form that houses both a modern ATX motherboard and the Z80
system that originally filled the case. I have no idea why they thought
this was a good idea, but it is a marvellously off-the-wall project and I
covet one intensely.
It Plays Doom
- the number of computing platforms that can run a port of the original
Doom I code seems to have skyrocketed these days... PDAs, low-end games
consoles, calculators, digital cameras, MP3 players - in fact, pretty much
anything with a CPU and some memory. I don't imagine that many of them
offer a terribly rewarding experience, but still... [Update -
It Plays Quake, too!]
A week of intermittent early starts to baby-sit the
servers during some work on the building's power supply has left me
somewhat discombobulated, so you'll just have to survive with a handful of
Steve's Excellent Adventure - Pirates Of Silicon Valley is
about to be released on DVD, and apparently it's not at all bad. It's a
rather fictionalised account of the rivalry between Bill Gates and Steve
Jobs in the early days of their companies, and although there are
apparently some dubious moments, it sounds very tempting and I'll be
keeping my eye out for its appearance at Amazon UK.
your PC - the copy protection in developer kit for Apple's new x86
operating system has been cracked, allowing it to be installed on generic
Intel PC hardware. Needless to say, Apple are furious, and their legal
department are busy removing links to everything up to and including
videos of the operating system booting on unauthorised platforms.
- and talking of unauthorised operating systems, an enterprising geek has
ported the Bochs open-source x86 emulator to Sony's little games system
and is using it to host Windows 95 and Linux. I don't think either are
particularly useful, but it's a neat hack and further serves to
illustrate that the manufacturers really are wasting their time trying to
lock down their systems.
on the crusade against airsoft - The Guardian has one of the
more balanced articles on replica guns that I've yet seen, covering the
campaign against the
restrictions that are proposed as part of the Violent Crime Reduction
Bill. Unfortunately, the article still talks about deaths caused by real
firearms as if there's some kind of connection, an approach that mystifies
Tweaking your tablet - Virtual Click as an addon for Windows XP Tablet
Edition which claims to fix a number of glitches with the stylus input
subsystem. It sounds interesting, but actually apart from an occasional
problem with too-brief, too-gentle clicks sometimes not being accepted, I
haven't actually experienced any of the difficulties that the software is
designed to cure.
Tom's Hardware, one of their more bizarre articles contains
instructions on how to convert an old laser printer into a paper shredder
- deliberately, that is, rather than the incidental damage that old lasers
tend to cause to paper even without special modifications. Most of
the procedure involves ripping things out and throwing them away, though,
and one does wonder whether just buying a shredder would be a better
When geeks go bad, part two:
"The simple summary was that something on the
scale of the payload that we visualised for the 4,000 ton vehicle could
destroy half the earth. That was not viewed with enthusiasm by anybody
that I can remember, but it was an interesting outer limit."
- Ted Taylor, quoted in George Dyson's excellent book
"Project Orion", discussing the potential military applications
of an Orion spacecraft.
Meanwhile, to my amazement and considerable irritation,
Pipex/GXN, the ISP-formerly-known-as-Cix, has started pestering me for
money again. I severed all connections with the firm back in November of
last year, but like an obsessive lover they seem reluctant to accept this
and periodically send me bills for services I no longer want, no longer
use, and indeed no longer even have access to! I thought this had finally
been sorted out back in the spring, but another of their little "Dear Cix
user" messages arrived today so it looks like I'm going to have to go
through the fuss of explaining that actually they owe me money
(they cancelled my DSL line almost a month early) all over again. The
trouble is, they are almost impossible to communicate with - email
messages are ignored, letters and faxes go unread, and their telephone
support lines are so busy and troublesome that I have never once
managed to connect through to someone who could help me! It really is so
very, very frustrating, and at this stage I am seriously considering
having a solicitor write to them to insist that they leave me alone.
<long, heartfelt sigh>
- For more than twenty years Apple bigots have been insisting that mice don't
need more than a single button, and it's proving instructive to watch them floundering now that Apple have finally released
posturing from the RIAA - Ars Technica speculates that the
RIAA's renewed claims of losses due to music piracy are the first stage of
a campaign to enact a levy on recordable CD media. After all, they
nearly got away with it in Canada...
novelty wearing off? - for the first time ever, there seems to have
been a dip in the number of Firefox browsers in use, with a corresponding
gain in the use of Internet Explorer. Given these figures, it's an odd
time for the fanboys to be boasting about "taking
back the web"...
failures under the carpet - there is a nasty issue with the memory
expansion slots on many of Apple's current PowerBooks, and as the company
is having problems devising a permanent solution they have started
deleting discussion threads on the topic from their online forums.
Just a few quick links, as it really has been one of
case contest - don't miss the chance to vote for some of the cream of
PC modding in a contest run by Australian computer magazine Atomic. A
couple of them, including the spectacular
Orac3 case featured at UK modding site Bit-Tech, are truly wonderful
examples of the breed.
less for more - at Mad Shrimps, a pair of very unusual case
fans, with dimpled blades modelled on the surface of a golf ball. They're
impressively quiet, according to the review, but with such low airflow
figures they damn well ought to be...
function - a couple of reviews of Hiper's new modular PSU. It
certainly is extremely pretty, but it should be noted that the model under
stress test at
Tom's Hardware Guide suffered from a bad over-volt on the 12V
No need to pay the piper - in spite of persistent rumours to the
contrary, Microsoft insists that their Anti-Spyware app will stay as free
software after the beta period ends. There will be a version included in
the OneCare Live enterprise security suite, however, and that will
of an era - the next models of Palm's successful Treo smartphones are
likely to be powered by a Windows operating system, it seems, with the
venerable PalmOS being relegated to the vanilla PDAs only. I'm not at all
convinced that this is a good thing.
Adding insult to injury - Apple may be forced to pay Microsoft a
royalty of up to $10 on each iPod sold, thanks to their recent failure to
secure a patent on the interface. Excuse me while I go somewhere and
adding insult to insult - at The Register, a comprehensive
guide to abusing Western capitalist nations, courtesy of a database of the
propaganda emitted by North Korea's Central News Agency. Marvellous stuff
- but a little disconcerting that they obviously take it so very
I'm currently listening to the audiobook of "The
Second Coming Of Steve Jobs", a decidedly unauthorised biography
covering the NeXT years, between his eviction from Apple by John Scully in 1985 and
his triumphant return as the company's saviour in 1996.
It's an interesting and enjoyable book, even if there isn't
very much that is especially new. The old favourites are
trotted out to reveal Steve's eccentric character and bizarre behaviour:
how in his twenties he dated folk music legend Joan Baez, afterwards often
spontaneously announcing that he would have married her except she
was too old to have his children... The time he found himself on a
surprise double-date with Bill Gates, ending with a drunken Gates leaving
a prank message on Jobs' answerphone pretending to be Apple vice president
Jean-Louis Gassée... The startlingly explicit makeout sessions with his
girlfriend in the lobby of the NeXT offices... The obsessive perfectionism
that lead to days spent choosing between dozens of shades of matt black
during the design of the NeXT Cube's case... Even as the notoriously
unusual Silicon Valley business founders go,
Jobs is a real
The NeXT computers themselves, of course, were a gigantic failure - I don't remember
ever actually seeing more than one in the flesh, as they were far
too expensive for mere mortals and never found a niche in business - only
around 400 of the
original Cubes were made, and the
system I played with in the
early nineties was one of the tiny handful that made it to
England. It was an ex-review model that had been passed from journo to journo,
and by the time I saw it the case had acquired a decidedly
tatty ambience, but nevertheless the pin-sharp greyscale display was truly
a thing of beauty, running under Display PostScript (the only system I'm
aware of that used this approach), with huge, detailed icons and lavish
GUI animation unlike anything I'd seen.
The hardware may have been rare (a mere 50,000 of the various designs
shipped during the five years of production) but, just as at Apple, Jobs
forged strong links with the education and science communities and the
vast majority of the systems ended up in academia after a heavy discount - probably
the most notable example was the platform used by Tim Berners-Lee to
design the HTTP standard that formed the heart of the Web, as well as the
first ever browser. Surprisingly, the NeXT computers and peripherals
still readily available, for a tiny fraction of their extortionate
cost when new, and would probably make a fine platform for undemanding DTP
and design - as long as you didn't mind being trapped fifteen years in the
past. The spiritual legacy of Jobs' beloved cube design lives on in a way,
though, with many industry spectators seeing the
revival of the concept in
the noticeably more successful Apple G4 Cube - and I have to admit that
these days a Mac of some kind would probably be a better bet.
I've read a number of books on Jobs and Apple over the last few
decades, and this one is certainly more balanced than most - the majority of them
are either worshipful paeans to his insightfulness, style and business acumen, or highly critical
exposes focussing on every one of his (many) mistakes. Ultimately, though, this biography leaves me with the same impression
I've formed from all the others - the man is a real jerk to to work
for and to do business with. I gather Jobs sued in an unsuccessful attempt
to prevent publication, so presumably he has the same impression...
It's been another of those days - at one point I
was babysitting not one but two consultants, as well as the team of
builders extending the computer room, and then there was a fire drill - so
just some more quick links...
Bluetooth flirting takes off for Saudis - although the stories about
this in the UK turned out to be mostly hype, in rigorously segregated
Saudi Arabia it seems to be a genuine and growing phenomenon.
Turning away from the penguin - the Central Scotland police force has
signed a major contract with Microsoft to replace open source applications and
operating systems with Windows and Office.
patent fails - AppleInsider reports that the three-year-long
attempt to patent the iPod's menu interface has met with a final rejection
because of competing prior claims by a third party.
down a porn spammer - in an impressive display of detective work, TV
current affairs show Dateline traced the
obscure and tenuous links
back to the person who actually sent the message.
Google snubs CNet - following an exposé on
the quantity of personal information that can be unearthed via the search
true browser - the US Copyright Office is creating a new website where
works in progress could be pre-registered, and is considering supporting
only the Internet Explorer browser.
Administrator's Preview - some of the features that will be of
particular interest to sysadmins, whether in a corporate environment or a
parent trying to manage a child's computer use.
MS recycles spam money - following the $7 million settlement with
Scott "Spam King" Richter, MS will use the money to assist national and
state law enforcement in the fight against computer crime.
And finally, just
what it says on the tin - a useful tip from my brother pointed me to a
company that sells unusual wire and derivatives thereof... Metals that you
don't normally see as wire, such as brass, bronze and brightly-coloured
aluminium; and odd woven and knitted fabrics, nets and meshes that are
sure to be ideal for something - if I could only think what! Fascinating
It's been one of those days, so just a few quick
science and technology links.
AI progress slow but steady - last week saw the cream of researchers
gathering in Edinburgh, and although there have been impressive advances
in several areas, genuine AI is as remote as ever.
strides forward in walking - a new approach to bipedal robots is
proving fruitful, using passive-dynamic hybrids which are significantly
less complex in both power and control systems.
About Everything - Dan is pontificating again, this time on why giant
databases aren't all they're cracked up to be, and how quantum computing
may come to the rescue.
Why aliens abduct - a new book by Harvard psychologist Susan Clancy is
an exhaustive study of why people imagine that they have been abducted by
aliens, and also touches on other similar delusions.
No more nodding ducks - a plausible new design of submersed
wave-powered generator could produce up to 100kW, and act as the first
stage of a desalination plant into the bargain. Interesting...
Apple to repay iPod levy - the courts have overturned the anti-piracy
fee demanded by Canada's performing rights organisation, so Apple will now
refund around $4 million to its customers.
Wires! The Wires! - I have the feeling I've already linked to
Cableorganizer.com, but an company entirely devoted to cable
management solutions (large and small) certainly deserves more publicity.
And, finally, an organisation calling itself "The
Committee to Fight Microsoft" is
launching a campaign to prevent Vista from being sold without a
"general and unconditional warranty to purchasers that the program does
not include bad code". Their arguments appear to be spurious,
inaccurate and ill-informed, and in fact the entire project is probably
designed simply to raise the profile of founder Andy Martin, who is
currently campaigning to become Governor of Illinois. <sigh>
It makes me tired...
Time for some links...
A cunning printer - the CraftRobo Pro is an inkjet printer with a
built-in cutting head, designed for producing papercraft patterns. I think
this is a wonderful idea, as I have a large collection of un-made paper
models that would really benefit from precision cutting. I shall have to
Media giant lying again - in the wake of the CD price-fixing, and the
ongoing radio payola scandals, Sony have been caught using an imaginary
film critic to give good reviews of their movies. A class action suit has
resulted in a $5 award if you saw certain movies hyped by this little
Home Office pursued over LSE rebuttal - and talking of lying bastards,
the official rebuttal to the LSE's analysis of the flawed ID card scheme
has been widely condemned as misrepresenting the original arguments and
making unfounded assertions to support the government's claims.
guide to Semiconductor Physics - it doesn't actually have much to do
with Britney Spears (although full marks for the attention-getting trick!)
but nevertheless it really is an excellent guide to semiconductors and
optoelectronics, and has some extremely amusing wallpaper as well.
Connected plant - a wonderful piece of hybrid art, the health of a
rubber plant is controlled by the stock market performance of Home Depot,
the DIY chain that supplied it. The system is connected to the Net via
Wi-Fi, and if the stock falls, the plant doesn't get watered.
OS exploits are 'old hat' - the age of attacks against the OS itself
is passing, says The Register, and in the future the significant
future risks will be in embedded systems such as routers and even
printers. Meanwhile, elsewhere,
inspired by a classic Warren Zevon song...
on Mars - and not just a few crystals hiding under a rock, either, but
a bloody great sheet of the stuff covering a significant part of the floor
of a 35km crater in the north polar region. The photos were taken by ESA's
Mars Express spacecraft, and are apparently unequivocal. Gosh!
- courtesy of ThisDamnBlog, something to try the next time you're
in a lift. In certain systems, pressing the "Door Close" and "Floor"
buttons at the same time puts the lift into an express mode which prevents
it from stopping at intermediate floors en route to your destination.
on VoIP Phones - Dan applies his usual mix of wit and technical rigor
to a couple of dedicated voice-over-OP handsets, including one that acts
as both a DECT cordless landline phone and a Skype-based internet phone.
Very clever - and very tempting, too!
resistance against the ban on replica guns proposed in the
Violent Crime Reduction Bill
is growing, and there has been some unexpected coverage recently in the
media. I just spotted a segment on Sky News, discussing the problems that
UK military re-enactment societies would face, and airsoft itself has had
unusually favourable coverage on the
BBC web site
and also in
Frontline, the internal journal of the Hampshire police force.
Unfortunately, I have a growing feeling that none of this will make any
difference at all - it's quite clear that some kind of ban has been on the
cards for years, and given the government's deeply ingrained refusal to
listen to common sense (just look at their desperate floundering over ID
cards, for example, or the furore about relaxing the licensing laws!) it
doesn't seem likely that even the most cogent and plausible arguments will
carry any weight. I shall go on doing what I can, but I have to admit that
I feel a touch cynical about it all at this stage.
I'm safely back from the wilds of Devon, but it's going
to take me a while to catch up with myself so in the meantime here's the
family tortoise, crashing through the undergrowth in the back garden of my
parents' house like a little armoured bulldozer.
There was some confusion several decades ago, and it's
not clear which of the original two tortoises survived a particularly
harsh winter - this is either Ariel, taken from the graceful, ethereal
spirit in Shakespeare's play
or Pheidippides, named after the man who
news of the Athenian victory at the battle of Marathon and so
established the tradition of running absurd distances for pleasure. Both
names clearly display the side-effects of a classical education combined
with a skewed sense of humour, but depending on which of the two he
actually is the beastie is somewhere between forty and fifty years old, a
very respectable age for a domestic tortoise. He got off to a bit of a
slow start this year, but a trip to the vet and a vitamin injection (where
does one inject a tortoise?) seems to have done the job and he's
just as sprightly and determined in his explorations as I remember from my
childhood - and hopefully there are a few more years in him yet.
I'm taking a few days of holiday away from the silicon
face, and apart from the laptop, the tablet and the Palm (and the three
PCs at my parents' house, which I shall doubtless encounter at some point
during the stay) I shall be completely free from computers. Normal service
will resume next week, and in the meantime:
I stole this idea shamelessly from a friend of
Avedon's, who actually has a real
rubber stamp for applying a similar message onto envelopes. That is way
more cool and original, but I've had the phrase rattling around in my head
all day and couldn't resist plagiarising it in Photoshop...
I had a small moment of excitement today when I managed
to drop the support bracket from a Dell server cabinet onto my foot. These
right-angled steel plates weighing about 20lbs, and the bevelled edges
that help to prevent tripping over it when it's installed come together to
form a decidedly unpleasant corner when it's falling from waist height -
it punched through the thick leather of my shoe as if it was cardboard,
missing my toes by the slightest margin... The shoes were only a few weeks
old, and my management are being very good about letting me claim for a
replacement pair, but it was a narrow escape and I shall be looking around
to see if I can find something both smart and steel-toed. Next time I
might not be so lucky...
Meanwhile, as I do still have all the appendages
necessary for blogging, a few quick links:
Bluetooth hacking - hot from DEFCON and Black Hat, the latest in being
nasty to unsuspecting users. The Car Whisperer hijacks the integrated
hands-free systems in modern cars to allow audio to be recorded from the
car interior and, more amusingly, injected into the stereo. "Hey, you!
Yes, you in the Audi!"
Out of control
- blog monitoring service Technorati has released its latest stats,
and the figures are amazing... There are more than 14 million weblogs in
the blogosphere, around half of which are active, and a new blog is
created approximately every second. If you listen carefully, you can
actually hear the internet groaning under the weight of mindless,
Fascinating but useless - if you've ever found yourself lying awake ay
night fretting over how many punched cards it would take to hold an MP3
track, the answer is here at last. For a 128kbps CBR recording, 40,960
cards would be required, forming a stack 5' 9" tall. So there you are.
Microsoft is under fire yet again - a pair of non-profit groups who
supply and manage software for American veterans hospitals are up in arms
about the Vista name, already in use for their patient database systems.:
"The confusion created by Microsoft and its choice
of the word 'Vista' is an affront to the people who take care of our
nation's veterans" ... "Microsoft is demeaning their passion and
dedication to our veterans by expropriating the name Vista."
Oh, come on... It's only software, and in any case
nobody is likely to get confused between what will probably be the most
common OS in the world and a free software package for a very particular
market. Nobody is "demeaning" anything, unless perhaps it's the people who
persist in making such a fuss about nothing - one wonders if they are
simply angling for a pay-out...?
I'm feeling a bit under the weather having just come
back from yet another dentist's appointment - the fourth in three weeks
thanks to a dentist who seems to consider fillings to be a temporary
solution only intended to last a few days - so you'll have to survive with
a few quick links.
Mac to use DRM - you can actually hear the sound of fanboy teeth
grinding together thanks to news that the new Intel-based Macs are likely
to use the controversial Trusted Computing platform.
Cisco Black Hat fix - they've released an update for a flaw in
the way that IOS processes deliberately malformed IPV6 packets, but not
for the generalised remote vulnerability that is causing all the fuss.
Worm mocks Sasser author - talk about kicking them when they're
down... The new Lebreat-D virus carries a picture of the recently
convicted Sven Jaschan, and disses him most comprehensively. :-)
Sneak peaks at Vista - at Microsoft's online press room, some
screenshots of the first beta of Vista. The Start Menu search feature
looks useful for a heavily-loaded system, as do the virtual folders.
It's a long, slow road back to the top. So I guess it's
just as well that all I have to reach is the bottom. Last month's stats show
a step in the right direction, though, largely thanks to a handful of links
from The Sideshow and
Arnie's Airsoft. Thanks,
both - and feel free to do it again!
In the meantime, why not vote at the Tweakers Top 50
by clicking the icon below - the top of the list may be fatally flawed
thanks to persistent ballot box stuffing by Elite Guides and others, but if
I can gain five places I'll actually be ahead of Dan's Data, which
would be amusing...