It was my birthday last week (and my wife’s), and while I’ve been far too busy to have any time off (cue world’s smallest violin), I have managed to find a little time to play a few new games. I’m still deeply mired in Fallout 3 too, having invested 60 hours in it over the last 4 months with still loads to do - see, this is why I can’t handle more than one ‘big’ game a year anymore - and Gears and Rock Band are still regular staples, but there’s always room for variety.

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Amazon has started email-bombing people in the UK with Windows 7 pre-order offers, a little while after a similar pre-order offer was available in the US. Windows 7 is the first version of Windows that I’ve found myself being upbeat about since 2001, so I cheerfully clicked the link. The result was an offer of Windows 7 Professional “E” (the European version with IE removed, congrats EU on fighting an originally well-intentioned battle that ceased to be practically relevant almost a decade ago) for a ‘discounted’ price of £180.

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When Harmonix responded to GHWT’s user-created content feature by saying they wanted to hold off until they could do it properly, they definitely weren’t kidding. Today they announced the Rock Band Network, which will be online later this year (on 360 only for the moment, because it seems they’re piggy-backing on the XNA Creator’s Club to handle the submission and billing). Rather than provide an in-game sequencer using samples like GHWT does, with RBN bands use their original master tracks, recorded using their usual software but presumably still split into the appropriate tracks, and gives them a set of tools (for PC I assume) to add the MIDI notes which will be translated into the instrument charts.

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I’ve had some kind of flu for the last couple of days - I don’t know if it’s regular flu or swine flu, but what I do know is that it’s been pretty weak and at no point has going to the doctor remotely entered my mind (although, I’m the kind of person who has to feel really sick for a number of days before considering going to the doctor, unlike some people who seem to go whenever they have a sniffle).

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As I’ve talked about recently, as a background task, I’m setting up a new Ubuntu server to take over the main file server, mail server, build server, backup server, web server, and you-name-it-server duties of my home office. It will eventually be taking over from a venerable Debian server, which was built on some old hardware left over from retired machines (except with 2 new mirrored hard drives) and has basically sat in a corner being rock-solid for years without me touching it, at least until the PSU failed (and was rapidly replaced), reminding me that I’ve been meaning to upgrade it for over a year.

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Oh, please let this come to pass soon. TechCrunch reports that YouTube is due to drop support for IE6 ‘soon’, pointing users at Chrome (obviously), IE8 and Firefox 3.5. Finally, one of the worst pieces of software ever to pollute the Internet with its presence is getting taken out to the barn with a double barelled shotgun, and not a moment too soon. Sure, Digg already said they might do this, but YouTube is far more significant; if YouTube stop supporting IE6, then in practice it means I can too 😀Bye bye IE6, please do let the door hit your ass on the way out, preferably hard enough to fracture your pelvis.

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So, in our local juristiction we’re finally having the discussion about retirement age, ie raising it to 67 by 2031, and probably higher than that later (not mentioned yet, but it’s bound to happen). Somehow, this is a shock to some people. The fact is that the welfare system, retirement packages, and even the economy in general were just not constructed on the understanding that an increasing number of people would be retired for up to one third of their life.

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So, after much initial confusion, sabre-rattling, dispair and finally acceptance (sometimes grudging), the world now pretty much groks open source. In addition, we’re all getting better at doing open source - it’s increasingly obvious what the best practices are in terms of growing and developing an open source project, and of how businesses as well as hippie coders can use and produce it effectively. Increasingly, open source is a known beast, and those that don’t embrace it in some fashion are increasingly looking hopelessly luddite.

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There have been cries of joy on the intertubes recently from people who like .Net but who like using it on non-Windows platforms (or believing they have the option to do so), in that Microsoft has extended their Community Promise to Mono, meaning they won’t sue over uses of it. Or so it’s been rather shallowly reported in some circles, more on this below. Firstly I’ll just say that no matter what, this is a positive step.

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I’ve been running Firefox 3.5 and Internet Explorer 8 on this machine for a little while now. Both are worthy upgrades to their line, addressing their previous shortcomings quite nicely - Firefox is now faster and more importantly leaner on memory use, and Internet Explorer seems to have mostly shaken off the dull, bare bones feel that it’s had in the past, and is definitely faster and more standards compliant.

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