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Monday, November 28
Fancy some doughnuts?

Well, go to Krispy Kreme if you're hungry (there's one in the Bullring in Birmingham, where I go to Uni... But 1 a doughnut? Wow. Not cheap).... If you're after a nice little five minute time-waster of a Flash game though, check out this neat little thing: The Kellys' Smoke Your Tires. It's a tie-in with the NASCAR animated series of the same name, and it is harder to get the hang of than you'd think. I had fun customising the bodywork.

I think I'm easily pleased these days.

Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 11/28/2005 04:20:00 AM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 113315161570776399
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Saturday, November 26
George Best dies, world continues to spin on axis

... And do I care? Serves the idiot right for abusing his liver for 20 years, then not even pausing for breath after having a NEW liver before he carried on drinking!

Granted, great footballer. But please, enough with the pity, give his poor family some privacy now, tabloids. I just KNOW the Sun will spin this out into a several month-long retrospective, with "popular opinions", comments from the "Sun Readers", all that usual bullshit. God, I hate tabloids, and the tabloids are lapping up Best's death. Anything that'll sell copy.

I wonder if the tabloids had anything to do with Best's declining health in some part... I know I'd probably be driven to drink if I was hounded by the press as much as some people are these days.

Disclaimer: the opinions, specifically those of not caring, voiced in this post do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the general population of the United Kingdom, sadly... It seems as if much of the rest of the UK is still stuck in Post-Princes-Diana-Death-Mob-Grief mode.

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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 11/26/2005 01:12:00 PM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 113301099754766544
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Friday, November 25
To all Americans: Happy Turkey Day. Have a Matrix fanfic!

Something to note in passing: Sony seems to have definitely breached the LGPL license for a subcomponent of their XCP copy protection, by licensing software which rips off entire portions of opensource code without releasing their own subsequent source code (as mandated by the LGPL) or disclosing and crediting the original authors - in this case, the Lame MP3 codec authors). Clever. Oh, and their insidious installation method for their anti-piracy rootkit, combined with an enormous PR disaster... They're now recalling over two million CDs. D'oh.

Ok. The 24th is just about over and done with now for the Americans, so Happy Thanksgiving and all that (if you log onto the Earthcam site, too lazy to URL it up, just Google) you can watch timelapse highlights of the New York Thanksgiving Day Parade, which is dead cool). it's already Friday in the UK, and fortunately as there's someone from the US staying in these University halls (I'm at University at the moment, in case you didn't realise), she's organised a Thanksgiving meal on Sunday. How awesome is that.

Anyway, over various periods of time during the past few days, I've been reading this incredible work of fan fiction by one of the StarDestroyer.net resident fanfic authors, called Stravo... He started the piece something like two years ago, or thereabouts, and he only just published its final chapter in April this year! My suggestion is that you GO READ:

Stravo - Cain And Abel (incredible Matrix / Terminator crossover fanfic)

The work is (a paltry!) 25 chapters long, but please don't let that put you off - it's an incredible blend of Terminator vs. Matrix standards, it follows the Matrix story through but neatly follows its own version of events after the end of the Matrix Reloaded timeline (the second film). It has many things in keeping with the original films, but think of it like this: it's how I would have liked Matrix 3 to have been, if you could take Sci Fi films and effortlessly blend them (like mixing wall paint) to produce your ultimate movie script... It reads so well, Stravo is an excellent wordsmith and produces wholly believable setups, characters, situations, developments (you can really visualise the fight scenes in your mind, the descriptions are so incredibly detailed and finessed it's fantastic).

There are of course, many other incredible Matrix-inspired fanfics 'out there', but I felt that I had to indicate this one as meritorious enough to get praise from ME, the most ardent, hardened sci fi fan, who enjoys films as the Directors intended and generally doesn't enjoy reading fanfics that much. What I also enjoy is reading the comments posted by the other forum members as the (then) new chapters of the story were published, at times you get really lively debates going on as to where the story could possibly go next - with the author fielding criticisms of his story and taking those onboard to further improve the quality of the writing! Excellent.

Also of note: Stravo has written three or four other hugely-detailed fanfics, all available on the same forum (bbs.stardestroyer.net)

In case you're not convinced to read it, here's a small teaser from Chapter 9 (I tried to pick a section which, if you read it and then proceeed to read the entire thing, won't influence prior knowledge of the storyline too adversely):

TX walked in after her master and waited patiently as he examined one of the spheres.

"There was a time when I was as simple as one of these spheres." Skynet mused.

TX remained silent behind him.


She opened her mouth and emitted a short string of long code and warbles. Skynet froze and turned his head completely around to face her as his liquid metal body remained facing the assembled drone spheres.

"Do the Zionists suspect?"

"We calculate only a 12.4% chance that these Zionists were aware of what we were. Upon further analysis we speculate a 6.9% chance that they were in contact with Zion when we revealed our intentions for alliance."

Skynet paused for a moment as millions of probabilities flashed into existence at once and were calculated.

"I calculate a 87% that the Zionists will react negatively to the news of our battle with this Zionist faction." Skynet replied.

TX paused for a moment, her own processors struggling to calculate what Skynet had done so effortlessly.

"Calculations confirmed." she replied.

"Mobilize another sweep team and prepare a full scale assault against their ship if it can be located. They must not be allowed to report back to Zion what happened."

"Understood. There is one other report from the battle that we felt you should be made aware of."

"Show me."

OOOOOOoooooooooooooooooo! :D

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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 11/25/2005 07:28:00 AM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 113290471507697403
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Tuesday, November 22
So... Are you saying that Michaelangelo just threw stones at people?

Maybe not quite. What am I on about? Read:

Michelangelo, can cause someone to feel the pain of losing a child even if they've never had one. And when you're trying for these emotions the easiest one to trigger is anger.

Anyone can do it. Go into the street, throw a rock at someone, you will make them angry. The emotions of love, empathy and laughter are much harder to trigger, but since they operate on a deeper level, they bring a much greater reward.

What a lovely pearl of wisdom from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Biography web page. I think it readily applies to life in general as much as it applies to the art of making music which really appeals emotionally to someone (that's pretty satisfying in itself, though, and it's bloody difficult to boot). [edit:25/11/2005 Missed the actual link off. Oops. It's there now, d'oh.]

... There's a piece of their music which has been set to a pretty excellent video on the web, go watch it here (it is definitely worth watching if you're in a lunch break and bored).

I was going to post something else as well today, but that'll have to wait, I have to clean up my room first and I've procrastinated for way too long.

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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 11/22/2005 04:27:00 AM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 113263407594631744
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Monday, November 14
Is it wrong that I want one of these?

This looks gorgeous... And apparently the site has a world exclusive on "bringing you this limited edition poly-stone mini replica versionso f the BFG from the Doom movie!" Hell, it's 12" long, and it's only $80 USD. Almost cheap enough to warrant a wholly unnecessary game- and movie-tie-in purchase :D

Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 11/14/2005 03:59:00 PM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 113198398001236970
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Baby, it's cold outside, and I hate it. Make it warmer

(Crosspost from my blog detailing the important and not-so-important aspects of life at UCE University in Birmingham (UK) for the next three years: uniblog.co.uk.)

Yep, winter's here, and it bought a season ticket this year. It's now zero degrees celcius outside, and by 9am (three hours' time), it'll only be a whole two degrees warmer. This sucks rocks, I hate being cold, especially when I have nobody else warm and snuggly to cuddle up with in the evenings when I'm feeling cold!

... He said, rather soppily.

I'm seriously not looking forward to this coming winter though, it's bad enough it being cold and getting dark by 4:30pm, but having nobody else around like family or close friends really gets me down even more. Keep those blunt scissors away from me, I might start cutting into all this unsullied construction card I have lying around the place in a fit of desperation.

On the upside, come January, I can start turning the pages on my Family Guy 2006 calendar. And I must say, I'm rather looking forward to that. Not looking forward to the being alone-ness, the cold weather, the dark nights, and the poor financial status of my bank account. But hey ho ho ho. No pun there.

And, as a little main blog exclusive thingumajig, a bite-sized snippet of 18-rated worldly wisdom from my friend's MSN Messenger nickname: 'bombing for peace is like f*cking for virginity'. Ithankyou.

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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 11/14/2005 06:28:00 AM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 113194969441594089
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Saturday, November 12
The Cybermen cometh! And they look like the Iron Man with flares!

But, before you go further, just consider this comparison...

Cover illustration for Ted Hughes' "The Iron Man" (made into a film called the Iron Giant a couple of years ago):

And here's a picture of how the chap looks in the film version:

... Now, check out the BBC's new Cybermen:

A little cross-pollination of ideas, perhaps? The Iron Man was one of my favourite books when I studied English in secondary school. Hmm. Anyway, here's some of the text from the Cybermen article, gloriously stolen from El Reg (one of my favourite cynical news sources):

Yes, that's right, the Cybermen have a new design, the latest in a long line of silvery, cybernetic fashion statements that the monstrous Mondasians have been attempting to foist upon Earthlings since the late 1960s...

...Indeed, bar the elegant feminine shape, the new cybes have all the halmarks of the Robotrix from Fritz Lang's Metropolis filmed in 1927.

Remember, retro is the new futurism...

Glorious. I would've typed something suitably witty and comparing the various cybes throughout the ages of the Dr., but I wasn't even born when the original series aired, so I have no benchmark. :D

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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 11/12/2005 04:08:00 PM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 113181193919923267
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Symantec releases Sony BMG rootkit DRM removal tool

Handy this, and about time. Kudos to Symantec.

To read more on the removal tool, what files are created/modified in Windows, and how the tool works (and to download it!) click:

Symantec Security Response - SecurityRisk.First4DRM

Quality stuff. Apparently Symantec and ZoneAlarm's antivirus software (powered by Mcafee) can also remove the rootkit, thought I've not tested this (and I don't want to!)

In other news, there's lawsuits in Italy, America and the UK, amongst other countries, all sueing Sony on this. "Nibbled to death by the ducks" was one phrase I rather appropriately read on nanae earlier today. (Nanae is, for those who don't know, a newsgroup which discusses the fight against spam, so unrelated but still a somewhat interesting place for those kind of discussions).

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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 11/12/2005 03:51:00 PM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 113181110911232969
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Wednesday, November 9
Now BlogShares listed! (again.)

Listed on BlogShares

Change of domain name, therefore a need to reindex. :)

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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 11/09/2005 04:37:00 PM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 113155431634315873
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Tuesday, November 8
How much is MY blog worth? A generous amount

Well well, check this out.

My blog is worth $1,129.08.
How much is your blog worth?

Nifty, huh? :D If you have a blog indexed on Technorati, why don't you try it out?

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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 11/08/2005 01:46:00 PM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 113145768875075248
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Sunday, November 6
The SonyBMG rootkit fiasco: Part 2

Thomas Hesse, Sony BMG's Global Digital Business division president:

"Most people I think don't even know what a root kit is, so why should they care about it?"

What you just read was a quote from the spokesman for one of the largest music companies in the world, effectively saying, 'most people don't realise that this potentially harmful software is being installed onto their computer, without their permission - and because it's not common knowledge what a 'rootkit' is, and we're not telling them, what they don't know can't hurt them'.

Yes, until the badly-coded rootkit that's been installed (without informing the user) spectacularly breaks the person's computer - and all because someone bought a legitimate Audio CD and wanted to play it on their computer while they worked, or transfer the tracks to their MP3 player.

Disgraceful. Sony BMG needs to be hauled up into the dock for this one, and I won't stop complaining (along with all the rest of us!) until they are brought in front of an adequately-empowered court of law over this one. What they and First4Internet (the developers of the actual software, based in the UK) have done is breach several UK laws, including the Sale of Goods act and the Computer Misuse Act, by modifying a person's computer without express permission or knowledge - I've seen individuals sent to jail under this very law quite recently, and it will be great to see these kinds of actions from a corporate body scrutinised by the Metropolitan Police's High Tech Crimes Unit.

At the very least, if it means that Sony has to press up CDs without this awful attempt at an antipiracy solution for the UK market, that'll be the least worst solution - and it will still mean that people in the US can buy the imports! Though this is very much the lesser of two evils, I'd much rather see laws revised and heavy fines slapped on Sony and the RIAA for this. I sincerely hope it happens. This has taken even more credibility away from their piracy-is-losing-us-money arguments - it's their own poorly-chosen actions to screw over just about everyone potentially, which has brought hard times upon them. I see many smaller labels, such as Ninjatune, performing extremely well, and they don't penalise listeners for buying copies of the CDs they sell.

Wake up, bloated music industry.

In other news on the same subject, Sony has released a 'patch' for their rootkit, which in reality does nothing more than unhide the dastardly thing (where before it was totally hidden from view) - it's still a massive security threat, and I'm glad to see that even the BBC (article one | article two) and NPR (National Public Radio) in America has taken this up (listen to the audio interview with Thomas Hesse via the above NPR link, it's worth it). Mark Russinovitch's SysInternals blog has further information on the SonyBMG rootkit, including more news on modifications to the EULA, changes to the software, and more discussion on everything (plus links in the comments section).

This is great for the consumer though in the long run - it gives us more freedom to vocalise our complaints of companies, and actually start the publicity wheels turning in our favour! This is one of the few good things to have come from this, and I hope that the new leverage we have can be used to good effect.

Also, if you have a few more moments, read my comment on the above SysInternals blog post, I won't repeat it here for now, as it would make the biggest blog post in history (and waste a lot of desktop real estate). Might post it later, though. :)

I do this this is some kind of justice for what Sony has done though - look at what you get if you google for "van zants cd" on Google:
click for original size

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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 11/06/2005 05:10:00 AM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 113125383897057288
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Saturday, November 5
Sony & its nefarious actions in the name of copyright protection: a bridge too far


SysInternals article on the Sony rootkit DRM (original, VERY informative and thought-provoking) and a companion F-Secure Sony rootkit DRM article, published around the same time (the discoveries were made independantly by both organisations, but the F-Secure guys were in discussion with Sony BMG and other people at the time when the SysInternals site made the news public).

I feel a little ashamed, because the company behind this nasty business in the first place - first4internet - is based here in the UK, owned by an ex-Sony director - it's all keeping it in the family at the end of the day. (And, even worse than that, the code that they've written and the manner in which it literally infiltrates and modifies a system without express consent) is tantamount to a breach of UK law, at least that's how I feel (along with many other people!)

This is very bad for us as consumers, and evidently Sony is ABSOLUTELY out of step with public opinion in this case. Have a look at the reviews on Amazon for a poor band called The Van Zants, whose CD called "Get Right With The Man" was used as a recent rootkit-DRMed guinea pig disc by Sony to see how the technology takes off.

I feel very strongly on this issue, as do many others (Peter Forret being just one example, and I advise you read his post on the very same thing, as it's a very interesting read). It's a solid case of a conglomerate overstepping the line between legality and taking the law into its own hands under the pretence of preserving Intellectual Property rights, harming their very core consumer base and - in the end, and this is the ironic bit - promoting file-sharing as the sole means to obtain a 100% clean copy of the tracks.

A shame for Sony, really. But I have no sympathy for a company who would slyly install something which would modify my Operating System at the very lowest, core level - and then proceed to almost irreperably damage it, especially if I then tried to remove said software - which I hadn't agreed to allow to be installed in the first place, either! This has been proven illegal by precedent, back a while ago a guy brought a Class Action suit in America against a company which installed malware onto his computer in an underhand way, and he won the case against them - so the case against Sony is not without merit, not in the least.

More info, and a mini campaign site, coming from me soon, as this is something I think many more people should know about - and it'll probably be at sony.totallysucks.co.uk (the domain's just sitting there registered in my name, itching to be put to good use for something like this right now). Read and be aware! That's the only way the common user can stop companies from infiltrating computers in this way and opening up all sorts of cans of nasty worms in terms of security vulnerabilities, future conflicts, major problems and legal issues.

Also read: suesony.com.

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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 11/05/2005 06:17:00 AM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 113117142304987160
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Wednesday, November 2
A description of Jungle in one paragraph

"...Jungle was this music that had Jamaican chat - which was presumably offensive to most non-Jamaicans - but coming from Jamaican descent I felt that this music was a key to explaining who I was... even more so than house music. This was everything I grew up in. This was reggae that formed me when I was in my mother's belly, this was the early electronic music that made me realize what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. This was the inventiveness of jazz that was to formulate soul then funk and which are deeply embedded within this music. Everything that is the material of my early childhood and teenage years is embedded within this music. This is my personal roots. I'm not trying to alienate anybody, just trying to explain what I am, who I am..."

A Guy Called Gerald

Sums it up very nicely, I think. For those who don't know where to start with Jungle Drum & Bass, picture this: fast soul music. Incredibly complex beats, rhytmic structures teamed up with HEAVY basslines, often with a reggae influence (the halftime bass versus the rest of the track).

A work of art, if I do say so myself...

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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 11/02/2005 09:27:00 PM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 113096686039555661
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Tuesday, November 1
Cor blimey guv - I'm an old-skool Blogger

I just had a thought... I signed up on Blogger in March, 2001. That's approaching 6 years ago now.

SIX years ago! My humble ramblings have been through just a few design incarnations, and they've certainly become more coherent (just read what I was writing when I was 14, it's ridiculously funny). Here's proof that I'm properly old-skool: My Blogger Profile ID is 187,628 (whereas new users will have IDs numbering way into the tens, and maybe possibly hundreds, of millions) and the ID for this blog is 2,937,298. Sure, there were plenty of blogs when I pootled along in a moment of idleness, but I do remember hanging off from making a blog for quite a few months too, because I didn't know what to put in it. The ID for my other university-related blog, which I set up around mid-August 2005, is 16,332,307... Crazy.

(Note: added commas to the numbers to facilitate visualisation.)

Oh, to remember the days when Blogger was naught but a spin-off service provided by Pyra Labs, and Blogger was nothing more than a side-project whilst they were offering other online collaborative data exchange and management services to business clients! Who would've thought that they would end up kicking a nascent web trend into adolescence...

... I'm feeling old, I'm going to shut up. Just for a bit.

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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 11/01/2005 06:51:00 AM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 113082788629765701
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