Red Alert 2!

red alert 2.jpg

Red Alert 2.


Newspapers, not only if you’ve run out of bogroll

image I used to deliver newspapers when I was young. That paper was the Evening Post . Some here ago, with the increasing influence of the internet and  the increase flow of information, that newspaper had to amalgamate with it’s morning edition, The Dominion to become the Dominion Post. But having lived overseas in a non-English speaking environment for so long that the one thing I missed while being away was reading a newspaper. It’s the tactile experience of  it all. The smell of the news ink, the feel of the newsprint on your fingers and if it had been wet, the time you had to wait to let it dry by the heater after it had been brought in from the outside on a rainy day. Sometimes, I’d take care to peel  the pages apart least they tear. I’d read the newspaper more than once. The first ‘pass’ would be through the major headlines, and anything of interest. This usually meant also reading the back page and the cartoons.  Then back through the a paper to read anything I’d missed. In comparison, reading ‘the news’ online  is different. Mostly one medium of communication, the experience of reading the news has changed. Indeed, a friend of mine said that research had found that people remembered less when reading an electronic book over a real one. The reason was tactile and, the researchers had found that people remember events and facts and placed them with where they were in the book. There will always be a place for printed books but, I think that technology has moved ahead and that society has turned a page.

Geek bag, obvious and dated

Geek bag 2.jpgGeek bag 1.jpgIn the move to China I’ve thrown out literally kilos of stuff. Less to move, and it moving country makes one heck of a motivating factor for spring cleaning. This particular item is, was, a laptop bag. Bought to accommodate my then laptop, an HP presario X1000. Pockets and compartments everywhere, even one for a PDA which dates the bag back to the early 2000’s. Big, boxy and saving the for the colour, unstylish. It tended to scream geek. In comparison, the Asus bag I got with my past gaming computer is much more stylish. I have no problem being a geek, as I’m often called upon to help out on someone’s laptop.

More (PC) BANG, for your buck

PC bang.jpgPC bangs (literally PC rooms), are something I have avoided simply because I have had an internet connection. Up until last Thursday when the connection was cut. My fault, haven’t paid the nice people at Korea telecom, and in return they switched off their service. A fair cop. What wasn’t cute and cuddly was once I’d paid the over-due fee, was the delay in restarting the service. Suffice to say having no internet connectivity for four days didn’t kill me, but on the other hand it just wasn’t interesting at all. I did have a lot of time to play games that I had installed on my laptop though.

Sat back in the big, comfy chairs that all PC bangs seem to come equipped with, I then proceeded to check my email and Facebook. Nothing new there. In order to safeguard my passwords and surfing activity, I made sure that I used the browser that was installed on my USB stick. Useful things that, your own browser of preference (Chrome in this case), and it also means that you leave no digital crumbs on what essentially is a computer for public use. I’m such a geek sometimes. Just one niggling complaint is the presence of smokers in close proximity. Most of the patrons that frequented are middle aged men. Given that the area has Samsung manufacturing plants, most users then, are middle aged men that worked in a factory. Sadly, the man sitting at the end of the row of computers was puffing away merrily on his cigarette. I’ve got nothing against smokers, but the fan and ventilation system in the room was pushing his smoke right at me. If anything, that did make me want to leave sooner than I wanted.

Game on! Not quite retro status

It was pure desperation, but I’m glad I tried it. The games I had in my folder were old shooters, ones that ran well on win XP, but hadn’t dare try on Win7. Incompatibility was the reason, and also why I’d put it off playing the oldies until, now. Looking back, and in the present, it still has the sound bug that it had with Win XP: if you don’t let the intro play to it’s conclusion you have the few bars repeating in the game from when you pressed the ‘ESC’ button.

The game in question was the original Alien versus predator FPS, first published in 1999 by Fox interactive and Rebellion. What I really play it for is the skirmish mode. You have the choice of playing either the Alien(s),Predators or Colonial marines.  So much more fun though, pointless as you almost always die.  Yup, one character against nearly overwhelming odds that never stop. Multiple settings, but the one I like to play the most is called stranded. One marine versus H.R Giger’s alien and variations thereof.  What scared the shit out of me initially, was being absolutely lost on the map, knowing that death itself is coming.


You only start with the Marines’ trusted friend, the pulse rifle and move up from there. To the throaty staccato of the smart gun to the almost uncontrollable outpouring of lead from the mini-gun.  So much torque that your point of aim is thrown off if you so much as fire a prolonged burst. “Remember, short controlled bursts.” Purely pointless or purely entertaining? Scares the heck out of me but I keep on coming back. Game over? Maybe.

Too much furniture, use the stairs and then walk away

IMG_2285Space, really is the final frontier so, you have to get rid of some furniture. In the case of the recently vacated apartment lived in by my parents-in-law until recently. Getting rid of the mattresses and other bits and bobs without paying the local council surcharge? Easy. Do what the locals do and discretely dump the unwanted mattresses and table into the stairwells that connect the floors. Most of the locals were students that studied at Sunmoon university. Upon moving out, some of them have done what I’ve described and put whole desks and chairs out in the stairwells. Sadly the downside of it all is that it’s a scorched earth policy. Disable the appliance or piece of furniture, rendering it useless.

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In this case, the computer that I had a look at, it was a relic. Examination of the hard disk revealed that it had IDE connectors instead of the more contemporary SATA connections. Not so good since I was in need of a harddisk. The pictures you see in this entry were all taken in one building. Chairs, a low table and mattresses, you could if you wanted to decked out a whole apartment in relative, albeit dusty comfort.

Lazy computing, no preparation

I recently attended a workshop on error correction, to refresh what I knew about it. No problems there. In the middle of the presentation the presenter had to show a short movie on error correction. Trying out multiple media players but to no avail, he stood there floundering. These computers that the university ‘maintained’ had failed the acid test. The person who’d set up the computer(s) had installed a programme that rolled back any changes that was made to the computer the time was it on. In doing so any viruses or malware that was installed would be deleted. So, everytime the computer is booted, the operating system starts with no issues. All okay except that if not kept up to date the computer itself becomes hopelessly and frustratingly non-usable. It’s just an example of a very, very lazy way of computing. Set up a computer with this programme and forget it.

Knowing what was coming, I stuck up my hand and asked him if he needed my USB key. I had programmes that could be run straight from the USB key, avoiding the problem of lazy IT staff. I was not impressed. At the state of the computers or that the presenter had not checked that his movie would be able to be played.