Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire hit BBC2 last night, having been previously aired in the US via Comedy Central (this was a joint BBC and CC production). As a spoof of a fantasy genre, it was pretty much required watching by yours truly, being as I am torn between indulging my inherent sci-fi/fantasy geekdom, and being cynical about the general derivativeness of most of the genre. It was a strange beast - a real melting pot of some genuinely funny moments mixed in with some predictable gags; occasional comic gems mixed with a smattering of naff, crude humour.

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Ok, so I’ve been doing a bit of looking around for my new server builds. As I’ve thought about this, I’ve firmed up my requirements to the following: Low-power, low-noise 2 x 3.5″ SATA2 hard drive bays (hot plug not required, I’m just going to use Linux’s built-in RAID1 again) All standard, replaceable components - no custom PSUs especially Small form factor (as much as possible given the other requirements) Cost-effective Performance almost irrelevant The things I have decided on:

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I bitch about Windows on occasion, but I have to give it credit for System Restore, which saved my ass today. Some Cisco VPN software which I was trying to install to help a client completely f*cked all my network access on my primary workstation, effectively rendering it useless. Not only that, but it refused to uninstall (hang), or disable (hang) in any way, even from safe mode, and appeared to install no useful tools or documentation with which to diagnose said problems, while disabling all other useful diagnostics (ipconfig returned nothing, device manager claimed both Cisco and regular network devices were fine, all other configuration tools just hang).

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I’ve been thinking for a while that I need to get my local server situation sorted out - I’m still running an old version of Debian on my primary server, which works fine but really needs swapping for Ubuntu LTS now, and in addition, the hardware is getting long in the tooth. It’s still running on an ancient discarded home PC, an Athlon 1Ghz with 512Mb RAM and software RAID1 disks - and runs all my office functions (mail, web, test environs, backups, data sync, databases, you name it) beautifully with that.

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I can’t remember who made the assertion / joke that if you looked through an infinitely powerful telescope you’d end up seeing the back of of your own head, but I was reminded of that by a certain event today. In the last couple of years I’ve often Googled for a particular subject and ended up with the top hits pointing me back at one of my own posts in the OGRE Forum or on my blog, in a weird self-citing manner.

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In the grand scheme of things, nothing really very surprising was announced at the WWDC 09 keynote; sure, we got a few hardware revisions and some more specific details on the next version of OS X, but there wasn’t anything singularly shattering about it. And yet, when taken as a whole, I think it was one of the most important WWDC’s yet. iPhone 3GS A speed increase, more memory, better battery life, better camera, addition of a compass so it can know which direction you’re facing as well as where you are.

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I posted about this in the artist’s section of the Ogre forums already, but I figured I’d post it in my blog too. I’m looking for a content pipeline to generate normal, displacement and specular maps from reference photos, and I’ve been playing with the demos of both CrazyBump ($299) and ShaderMap Pro ($19.99). In my tests, CrazyBump seems to give me the superior results very quickly, and I’ve been impressed by both the default setup and the amount of tweakables it has.

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Now that I’ve had my 360 fixed & returned, I’m being pestered with requests to fill in a survey about my experience. Ignored the first two, since I was neither ecstatic nor furious about my support experience, so it would make a particularly tedious ‘ok I guess’ response. But, they’re insistent with their damnable reminder emails, so I tried to do it. I got right to the end screen, and then got this:

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Ahem. Yeah, that means my 360 came back today, fixed and happy. MS tech support have put a smiley-faced band-aid over its owwies, and now it’s all better. I took a long coffee break to hook it up and test that it works, and whether my DLC still works or needs re-downloading (answer, it does, and it doesn’t, respectively). Muchos gracias, señor Microsoft. Total turnaround time: 33 days, although it would have been 10 days less had it not been for the first support request disappearing down a virtual plughole while I was away for a week (and 2 bank holidays didn’t help).

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I’m glad that E3 is back - it adds a little excitement and pizzazz to the gaming calendar, and luckily this year it seemed to be pitched at about the right level - not the crazy-bonkers E3 of old, but big enough to be interesting. Whilst I think there’s a lot of other interesting stuff going, inevitably the ‘big 3’ console manufacturers are the shows that people pay most attention to, at least initially.

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