Goodbye Godaddy!

Posted on

Ever since I first started this blog, I’ve hosted it on GoDaddy.

At first it wasn’t so bad then as time went on it got slower and slower. This went on for many months and caused a lot of frustration whenever I tried to update my blog. It has come to a head in the last few weeks when I decided enough was enough.

Over the last few months I’ve been running a lot of diagnosis and optimization tools on this humble WordPress site to find out where the hold up was. Read the rest of this entry »

What people forget about Google+ and Facebook

Posted on

I’m writing today about an article I read on ZDNet, linked here.
Well, I have to admit, I saw this article and it made me happier than I’ve been in recent memory regarding articles about Google+.

In particular Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO states, quite simply on Google’s site “…people who are concerned about their safety, G+ is completely optional. No one is forcing you to use it. It’s obvious for people at risk if they use their real names, they shouldn’t use G+.”
This statement is in response to Googles recent policy regarding Google+ that requires people to use their real leagal names, not anonymous aliases. Read the rest of this entry »

Samsung Galaxy S 2 – Post Mortem

Posted on

Well I’ve been using my Samsung Galaxy S 2 for about two and a half months now, and I’ve gotten used to using it quite a bit.
There are some good and bad things about this phone handset that I’ve noted and I thought I’d share them with the world.
This is just a quick run-over. Read the rest of this entry »

Been a wild ride, but now I have a new phone!

Posted on

Well, I’ve certainly been busy these last few months.

Work is been keeping me busy and I’ve been revisiting my education, getting some new certs.

I’ve also been picking up my Warhammer 40k gaming and adding to my Orks (Currently assembling another Trukk). I will do an article showing my forces now with some pics soon.

Also, my phone was lost (Or stolen, still cant tell). This meant police reports and insurance forms etc, but thankfully that’s something I’ve been quite prepared for.
Still, it disconnected me from a lot of my social life while I was using my old backup device. In the end, the insurance sent me a cheque and said “Buy a new phone”. Read the rest of this entry »

The dilema of a new phone & Google Sync!

Posted on

A few weeks ago now, my iPhone was lost (Or stolen, not really sure).

Anyway, since that time I’ve been using my backup phone, a HTC Touch Pro.
If I’m honest, using my old phone has been a real test of my patience and tolerance. I’m reminded of the saying, often spoken, that ‘once you get broadband, you cant go back to dial-up’. It is so true.
This phone uses a resistive touch screen, and by todays standards, not a great one either. It was tolerable then, even borderline ‘good’ (for the time), but now it feels like a chore to use after my experience of the smoothness of the iOS interface. Menu’s jerk, gestures don’t register and (more annoyingly) the device is NOT INTUITIVE.

But I digress…

The reason for this update is not only to keep the blog going but also to take down my reflections of the difference between this phone and my now missing iPhone. Also, I’d like to make a mention of how having a good contact sync allowed me to switch to my old phone without any fuss.

I use Google Sync via ActiveSync (Microsoft’s Exchange standard protocol) for syncing to Google.
This gives me instant sync of my contacts, calendar and of course, email to my movile device. It also means that if my phone is lost of stolen, if the phone is remotely wiped or destroyed then I never lost my contacts, which for some reason a lot of people still have not got their heads around. I still get facebook messages or emails reading “Lost my phone and all my contacts, please let me know your contact details”.

Really? Haven’t we got past this by now?

Anyway, if you use Google Mail, you should use Google Sync, here.

Why I’m considering buying an iPad(2)

Posted on

I’ve never been much of a supporter of the iPad.

It always struck me as an overgrown iPod/iPhone, and I already have both of those, so why would I want one? Exactly… I dont, and I’ve been fairly vocal to friends as to why. This is why I genuinely surprised myself when I felt drawn enough to the iPad(2) to actually check the pricing and count in my head how I could budget it into my life. Do I have enough money? How long would I need to save up? Can I sell something I dont need? At that point when these questions arise it’s equal to anything else that I actually really mean to buy like an ‘essential’ upgrade to my PC.

First I’ll go into some more of the reasons that I object to the iPad(1) and Apple ecosystem before explaining why I’m attracted to the iPad(2).

As I’ve stated, I have an iPhone 3GS, not because I’m an Apple fanboi or because I subscribe to the Apple cult of Steve Jobbie Jobs (I believe it will one day be revealed that he is somehow related to the devil). Anyway, this isnt about Jobs, this is about my own complicated feelings toward the iPad.
I have a 3GS, and I enjoy using it, because of one main reason: The touchscreen. It’s the best, and every other phone I’ve come into contact with doesnt come close to emulating its finesse. This is purely about the technical design and quality of workmanship that goes into most Apple products.
Before I had an iPhone, I had a Windows Mobile 6.5 HTC TytnII Touch phone, and thoroughly enjoyed it, primarily because of the slide-out keyboard. Slide-out keyboards have a special place in my heart because they work and work well. If you’re going to be using something like your phone on a daily basis then the most crucial factors of the enjoyment of said device (for me anyway) boils down to the quality and effectiveness of the input methods. This is a rule I adhere to with my PC also; Have a comfortable good quality mouse, keyboard, a monitor that you are in the very least more than satisfied with, and a chair that you can sit in for hours comfortably. They dont neccesarily need to expensive, but they need to not bug you.
During the time I had my old WinMobi6.5 phone the touch screen was not the best but it worked, however, the slide-out keyboard worked superbly so whenever I needed to type I just snapped it out and I was away. Good times and fond memories.
When I came to look at upgrading my phone, I considered getting a touch model. This I saw was a real issue, as all the touch-only devices which were becoming normal all still had not-great touch screens. The touch on these were, and still are, unresponsive, jerky, requiring multiple presses, inaccurate, frustrating… Then there was the iPhone. My first experience using the touchscreen on an iPhone was an eye-opener for me in that it showed me what a touchscreen really needs to be. It’s responsive, accurate, fast and reliable. I could use this on a daily basis… Yes I could. But then there is the other equally sucky reason which would come with owning an iPhone which I avoided for years since my first experience; iTunes.

Man, do I hate iTunes.
The point is, I find it a burden rather than a joy. It gets in my way when I need to do something simple like copy a couple of MP3s from my (Meticulously organised) library of music onto my device and go. Instead I have to make sure that they are synced to iTunes, and make sure iTunes is picked up the correct details and album covers then sync iTunes to my iPhone and when that is done, I’m good. iTunes always adds an extra step to my interactions with my own device. If I want to back it up, I have to do it through iTunes. This is bearing in mind that the one and only time I actually came to restore my iPhone from an iTunes backup, I found that iTunes had corrupted the backups meaning that I cannot even say ‘I may hate it, but at least it works!’. Also, I dont want iTunes to organise my music for me (I forgot to untick that option many years ago when I first tried iTunes and still sigh at the destruction that was wrought upon my music library). I have other reasons and equally frustrating experiences I could talk about when using iTunes, but this would go on too long.
On the other side, I can understand why iTunes is so ingrained into the Apple ecosystem, because it is the portal to Apples own App Store ecosystem to get you buying ‘Apps’, music and renting movies. In the time I’ve owned an iPhone, which is over a year, I have purchased 2 pay-for Apps from the App Store and that was probably in the first month or so of owning the device. Other than that I’ve probably downloaded a couple dozen or so free apps and been more than happy with that much.

So my solution for that connundrum of keeping iTunes on my PC? I have it in a VM! Win!
Thats right, I have an iTunes-only VM which I fire up, sync my iPhone, then shut down. I love it like that. An iPad would probably slot into that scenario of usage very nicely also, but I dont want an iPad… I want an iPad(2)!

So, finally, why do I want an iPad(2)? The primary reasons that I can see this fitting into my life is mostly with the camera, reading books and HDMI. There are few technical reasons that really attract me to the iPad, as any reason I would be attracted to it would really be filled by my iPhone as they are still basically the same device.
So, back to my primary reasons. I use Skype quite a bit to interact with my girlfriend and family as I feel that it adds a genuine step forward from straight audio calling. I have a netbook to achieve this task but I often find it akward using a PC (even a small one), but I like using cameras to see and be seen by the other side. The thought of having an iPad(2) to sit on the sofa and talk to my loved ones would be excellent for my usage.
In terms of reading books, the iPad screams against my common sense on a technical basis. I love reading books, however, I am very aware that the LED backlit LCD screen on the iPad(2) is not changed from that of the iPad. Technically, an LCD screen is not good for sustained book reading. Its just not capable of preventing eye strain like devices that use E-Ink such as Amazon’s Kindle (The kindle is also 1/3 the price of the iPad). Still, I’ve been finding that I have been using my iPhone more and more since the (free) iBooks app was released by Apple, especially because I can import PDF files into it to read on the train or other times. I have been using my iPhone to revise exams, which I have exam prep and practise questions in PDF. This was also recently handy when I was recently at a 40k game and did not have my rulebook or codex with me. Luckily I had uploaded a digital copy in PDF to my iPhone and was able to check some things there, and this was further proven by my opponent who actually had his iPad with the same rules uploaded onto his. In these scenarios, I see the usefulness. This is not sustained reading, like you would a book, but short bursts of 20-30 minutes of reading. I’m interested to see the comparison of long-term reading usage of iPad vs Kindle. It is also of worthy note that there is an Amazon Kindle App for the iPhone/iPad.
Lastly is the addition of HDMI output from the iPad(2). This is huge for me, as I would be able to take my iPad(2) with me to my friends house and display on their TV a movie I have created and synced to my iPad(2) using iTunes. I could also use it to display anything from the iPad(2) to the screen. This would include movies, pictures/photos, and running apps in upto 1080p output.

Finally, I have considered getting an Android tablet, and have looked at a few. I’ve also considered getting an Android phone as an upgrade to my current 3GS, but time again I find Android wanting when it comes to different things. Although Android in general satisfies my own need to hack and customise my device, I have found that I dont necesarily want to do that with my own personal mobile device. With something like my phone, which I carry with me all the time and use all the time to reference material, look up maps, connect and communicate with friends, check emails, etc. For that I wish to have something that can easily connect me to the things I need with the minimum of fuss. I dont want to have to struggle and fight with a device that I reach for first before anything else. With Android I find that my own requirements (Which I think are higher than most consumers) are not satisfied. There are a few defining core reasons for this that I will attempt to explain.
Android makes me wary because of the multitude of differing versions that are popping up causing compatibility barriers. Every android device is not equal, less so than iOS devices like iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. I believe this is due to a few reasons including the fragmented nature of Android and the increasingly common practise of customising the individual device as well as the reliance on service providers to deploy updates. This is somewhere where I believe Apple actually have it right because their draconian practises have forged a system that updates come directly from Apple equally. an update is an update for all, whether they choose to upgrade to it or not. This is where Google needs to grow some danglies and take more control of the Android space before it fragments further.
Another definining feature that stands out for me, and is a bit of a deal breaker, is that Android cannot sync to multiple exchange accounts. iOS does this without fuss. The reason for this is email and contacts, my primary reason for using my iPhone. My contacts are my link to everything in my mobile life, as I would expect with other people and my email is the primary method of communication for my work and is synced via Exchange. I also sync my email, contacts and calendar to my Google account using GMail’s native Exchange API, which is invaluable for me. Those 2 sync relationships not only provide a pull/push of email and calendar from my work and personal mailboxes but also decentralise that content from my mobile device, giving me peace of mind that if my iPhone is lost or stolen, all of that important information is not lost forever. For me, gone is the nightmare of having to stress about the loss or breakage of my phone casuing data loss. We can all remember those days, where contacts were stored on the SIM card, or even worse, on the phone device only.

So, at the end of all of this I hope I was able to give an understanding of my reasons for genuine interest in an iPad(2).
It’s not so much of a U-Turn, but that specific features that I would have wanted from the original iPad to make it usable have now been included.
This has made an iPad(2), for me anyway, something that actually could be genuinely useful in my life and therfore a potential purchase.
Below is a quick run-down of the essential iPad(2) features/specs:

-9.7 inch 1024×768 Capacitive Touchscreen with IPS Technology
-Apple A5 1Ghz Dual-Core CPU
-Memory (RAM) TBC (Rumoured to be at least 512MB as with iPhone4)
-Graphics Processor TBC (Apple announced that new iPad(2) chip is 9x faster than iPad)
-Front Camera VGA (800×600) resolution
-Rear Camera 720p (1280×720) HD resolution
-Up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music

Pricing will be the same as original iPad (Prices quoted are current per date of this post):
WiFi-Only:   16GB=£329, 32GB=399, 64GB=£479
3G+WiFi:    16GB=£429, 32GB=£499, 64GB=£579

Full Specs are available here

The iPad 2 is released in the US on 11/3/2011 and in the UK and rest of world on 25/3/2011.

Let them eat cake!

Posted on

I like cake. Those that know me, will know that. 🙂

But more importantly I’m a strong believer that should people be allowed and given the choice to do what they want, that the vast majority of the time people will do the right thing or at least TRY the things that society/religion deems socially unacceptable/immoral. I don’t like to consider people to be stupid, at least not until they prove themselves to be stupid. Of course there are some OBVIOUS exceptions to my utopian view of society; People should not force or hurt each other.

With that in mind, why then are some things illegal or considered so immoral as to be offensive?
Some of the things that fall under this umbrella are alcohol laws, drug laws and even the way an individual chooses to dress.

It seems to me that this boils down to the political agendas of a few and the influence of the (Usually local) media.
I’m not trying to spin a web of conspiracy (Even though conspiracy cannot be ruled out completely) but the fact remains that because of how human beings are inherently tribal, there are a multitude of nations, countries, religions, races, borders and many other divisions that can be observed as examples of how one society can be so different in its views to another. We’ve all seen it, travelled to another country and inadvertently offended a local because we quite simply didn’t understand the local customs, traditions or mindset.

Why is it that standing on one side of a completely artificial line/border means that you can drink at the age of 18 and why can you take certain drugs without being arrested? Why is it that in certain societies, even wearing your skirt a little shorter will cause a woman to be shunned? Why is it that legalising a drug would be more of a political move by a politician in one country, but something that is just common sense in another? Of course it would take far too long to reason through all the reasons for this, and whether they are justified or not, but too often I’ve heard people preach their own opinions as ‘what should be the way it is’. The practicality of opinion is something that varies quite profoundly also which doesn’t help (My own opinions included here).

I guess what I’m ultimately trying to get at here is that when you travel, you see that things can be different. Not right or wrong, better or worse… But plain different and can be no other way when considered within the boundaries of the time and place. The problems appear to arise when opinions are pressed onto others, instead of allowing them their own choice. But that’s just my opinion on it.

So, I say, let them eat cake.
Everybody likes cake right?

Review of Ultramarines – A Warhammer 40,000 Movie

Posted on


Well, last night I saw Ultramarines.
This is kind of a big deal for some mostly because it’s the first ‘proper’ Warhammer 40k movie produced by anything approaching a real studio. As I explained in my earlier article regarding Dark Millenium Online, Games Workshop has recently been very shrewd (Or picky) when it comes to signing the Warhammer 40k name to anything that they do not have complete internal control over. This of course is a good thing in terms of quaility control, but when considering that GW dont develop anything outside their own tabletop game themselves or contribute towards other projects such as games or the Movie in this article, it means that they can be a little stiff.

Still, it’s their product and thats their right.

So, enough rambling and more about the movie: Ultramarines – A Warhammer 40,000 Movie. I was a little dissapointed with some aspects and pleased with others.
I’ll dive right in to the bad stuff by announcing that upon finishing watching the movie there were some things that immediately stuck out to me. The most obvious of these was a certain unsettling feeling of misinterpretation that sat with me throughout the movie. I will explain this by saying that the Space Marines in the movie didnt seem to be Space Marines according to my interpretation of what a Space Marine represents. For those who care to read into it, there are a lot of ‘facts’ in the 40k universe that build the idea that a Space Marine is a badass piece of work. Things like the power armour they wear that is handed down through warrior generations, the genetic modification, psychic conditioning and even redundant organs that they have all seemed to count for nought in a movie filled with 1-shot kills and other mysterious deaths I usually associate with ‘silly people in movies’ (Those times watching a movie when you throw your hands up and say ‘You didnt see that coming?!’). It seems unreal to expect them to be the bastions of humanity against all kinds of vicious and violent advosaries when they appear to have little resilience themselves.

Carnak, Chaplain of the Imperial Fists.This brings me to the story itself, which I am quite split about. Despite being written by Dan Abnett, who I have a lot of respect for as a well known Warhammer novel writer, overall the story arc and general narrative appeared out of balance. I felt there were many missed chances to introduce and explain the greatness of Space Marines, perhaps by using flash backs or other techniques. Consequently, I was ultimately left with a feeling of that the story itself seemed obscure and that I wanted to see bigger events and battles. In terms of filmography, there were too many moments of ponderous walking, panned shots and asmosphere building flashes. When clashes with the Chaos Marines flared, they were very often far away or blurred siluettes in the night. A missed opportunity to have a larger scale battle that Space Marines are known for. Something unrelenting and fierce that I feel is been better exploited in Warhammer video game cutscenes, such as those in the Dawn of War series of games which portray Space Marines to be unrelenting, purposeful and curageous warriors. This is just my opinion of course.

Something else I had a split opinion on was the animation.
In a conversation I had with a friend a short while ago, he described the visuals used in the movie as ‘hammy’, which I countered that its not about the visuals. Unfortunately, there are times in the movie when the animation is somewhat embarassing and others where it looks pretty good. For agument sake, lets also remember that this isnt Pixar or Disney doing the animation here, its a relatively unknown studio called Codex Pictures. They dont have many big name projects to mention, the most notable of these are the Lego Bionicle series of movies that I understand were successful enough to the target audience… But this movie is something different. They’re playing in bigger leagues now and will be compared as such, so animation needs to be slick, even if the modelling is not great. Unfortunately I feel its the other way around, feeling as though a lot of work went into the models of the characters and not so much into their animations, subtle movements and mannerisms. As a result, still shots look great and character movements look stiff and akward. Facial animation was often impressive but equally bad at other points, however, the biggest shortfall in the visuals department has to be the smoky/foggy effect present through what feels like most of the movie. At times I almost squinted to try and see further during pan shots of what would have been an outdoor landscape.

Boreas, Space Marine InitiateI must say that wasnt bored by watching the movie. There was a fairly good feeling of atmosphere and suspense, which went on a little too long at times but was consistent. I wasnt bored, but I would not say I was gripped either (Gripped like for example when I recently watched Inception for the first time). This was part of the movie that was pretty spot on, and encouraged an impression that something was going to happen.

Voice acting was excellent in places, but was consistently good at a minimum. Donald Sumpter excelled in what I believe is a marvellous performance as the Apothocary Pythol, and along with Terence Stamp who provided a very good but not amazing voice of Captain Severus. Mr Stamp let the character down by being a little flat at times. John Hurt was suprisingly average as the Imperial Fists Chaplain, however, Sean Pertwee did not seem to fit his role as did some of the other voices for members of ‘Ultra squad’.

In conclusion, it was a good but not great movie, which in itself is dissapointing as it is a real first. There is a lot of missed opportunity here, but I hope for more and better.

Do games servers have a place in the Workplace?

Posted on

Playing games at work… It doesnt sound right somehow, as if its an affront to all that is businesslike. But why is it?
I’ve worked in places where we’ve had (By request I setup) a games server running. In one place it was on an old PC, in another it ran on our voicemail server, both times it was awesome! By that I mean it created something for people to get together about and enjoy, mutually, and without prejudice. It transcended rank and title and showed some unlikely champions and some other unlikely obsessives.

But one thing it always did do was bring people together.

The game in question was the original Unreal Tournament in one place, UT2004 in another, and it was simple enough for me to setup (I’m a System Admin after all!).
We would agree on an end-of-friday jaunt every week, last thing around 5:30 before people headed out.

It also highlighted an interesting thing in my mind; handles, nicknames, tags or whatever you want to call it. Its basically just what people chose to call themselves ‘in-game’. This is, of course, nothing out of the norm these days. People have Gamertags and in-game handles for a million different games, sometimes each different, sometimes consistent across games.
What I found interesting is how they often related so personally to each person, and how the vast majority of the time, they were thought up by others rather than the person actually using the name.

For the sake of those that I’ve worked with, I wont list out the hilarious names in public as I would have to explain each persons actual name, which would not be very appropriate.
I will refer to my own though in the hope that someone might read this and comment about their own in-game-name origins…

So I usually go by the name of KptnKMan. Its a little hard for some people to say and I’ve laughed at a few on Xbox Live who have spluttered out convoluted attempts at pronouncing it, but its quite simple really; Captain K-Man. 🙂

The origins of the name came from a few years ago when I worked at Electronic Arts. We used to game in the office openly, because we could, and because it was our jobs… more or less. I was named ‘Captain Caveman’ by one of my colleagues, which became ‘Captain K-Man’ later, then I shortened it to ‘CptnKMan’ and eventually modified it to KptnKMan. These days I still use that name in games and often are called KMan by my friends. So it just stuck, but the evolution and personal attachment that a fictional name produces is interesting.

Dark Millennium Online looks Awesome!!!

Posted on

I’m secretly excited, and have been for some time now… Ever since I heard whispers of a Warhammer 40k MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game), and more recently with the real announcement that there is active development on it! To say the least, I’m stoked. I ranted and raved at my friends for a while, but they all looked back at me suspiciously, so I kept quiet… and for good reason.

I’ve always been fascinated and pulled in by the amount of depth in the Warhammer 40k ‘universe’. Games Workshop have sole ownership over (And guard fiercely from my understanding) the entire Warhammer franchise, and have recently been putting it to good use. By this I mean that there are many 40k projects on the go that further tap into the vast amount of content and storytelling already woven around the 40k universe.

Examples: At the moment of the this writing, The Ultramarines Movie is JUST released (That being the FIRST real Warhammer 40k movie, all done in CGI), the W40k: Space Marine game is also soon to be released (The closest comparison I can make is to Gears of War or other 3rd person action games) and of course not to forget the steady stream of quality 40k games that have been released over the last few years (Dawn of War, Dawn of War 2, Warhammer Online and Blood Bowl among others).

The reason I’m so happy about this is because for some time Games Workshop got into an unhealthy trend of signing the Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40k names to quite a few very mediocre and often just plain awful games. Fire Warrior springs to mind (Among others), and may it be struck from the history books back to whence it came. I think this is also why many fans of Warhammer go very quiet when a new Warhammer game is announced, or even comes close to release. There is a long line of games that were just… awful.

But things seem to be changing, mostly it seems because Games Workshop themselves have hand-picked and been VERY picky about who develops their games. The Dawn of War franchise did very well and has solidified Relic Games as a solid developer of quality Games Workshop games… and rightly so! Relic are the developers behind many quality games including Homeworld, which holds a VERY special place in my own heart and always will. *sigh*

But back to the game at hand; Dark Millennium Online. It looks awesome! Not only that but there appears to be a genuine intention to include some of the scale of the wars and going-on in the 40k universe. There are footage of Titans (yes TITANS!) stomping around in all their 80ft glory, stepping on whole squads. I’ve seen in one video an ork riding in a Deffkopta, which made me chuckle, and in the included screenshots here you can see that there are tanks and such included too. I’ve even seen Space Marines on bikes! If this is true to final gameplay and the game is balanced, then there might well be some EPIC battles to come. This brings me to consider what the other factions in the game will be and what they will represent or mean to the overarching experience. The Imperium is the ONLY CONFIRMED faction so far, and its obvious to see the presence of the Imperium of Man (Space Marines, Mechanicus and Imperial Guard perhaps) and the Orks (Who presumably will mostly be there to cause mayhem and fuel war which is so endemic to 40k), however, there is something to be said for the other yet unannounced factions who will be there to vary the carnage and add more diversity and agendas to the proverbial pot. According to Wikipedia, the Eldar and Chaos are rumoured but not as yet have no official word. The Eldar in particular make me wonder, as they are an enigmatic and secretive race, always meddling in the other goings on of Man, Ork and Demon.

The structure of the gameplay also makes me wonder. Will it just be a free-for-all or will there be strained alliances and turncoat behaviours at each turn? Will the Orks be truely portrayed as the ‘Sea of green’ that they are, and will the Eldar be few but powerful?

The questions… so many questions… But LOOK, here is a trailer!