The Dalekettes. Rwarr!

We’re a bit slow with this one sorry about that. Anyway it would appear that some enterprising Australian cosplayers (and if you don’t know what a cosplayer is, look it up and prepare to be horrified) decided to dress up like Daleks.

Not unusual you say? A little ambitious? Mayhap, however look at how they did it.

Now we’ve got to admit that they’re some pretty classy Australian birds right there, whisks and plungers in hand. Still you’ve got to hand it to those girls for doing something that Russell T Davies would never ever do; redesign the Dalek.

Arf, arf, etc. ad nauseum.

Of course what comes of a good idea, is that it gets copied. Shamelessly. Other young ladies, in a basement somewhere, realise that those Australian girls, whilst fairly average looking, managed to come across as really rather hot when they dressed as Daleks, so decide to do the same.

That’s when you get this.

Not The Dalekettes. No.

Not The Dalekettes. No.

For goodness sake. What’s that about, really? Come on now.

Thanks to io9 for simultaneously giving and taking away.

I bought a Cadbury’s Creme Egg Twisted bar the other day. It was substandard. So I wrote this letter.

Dear Lovely Cadbury’s Consumer Relations People

Whilst travelling to Bradford recently Elizabeth and I decided to stop at a motorway service station to purchase some snack products for our journey. As I was in charge of the purchases I decided upon the following:

  • One 500ml bottle of Diet Coke
  • One 500ml bottle Dr Pepper
  • Two Cadbury’s Creme Egg Twisted bars

The choice of the Cadbury’s Creme Egg Twisted bars was obvious. Both Elizabeth and I are big fans of your famous Cadbury’s Creme Eggs but given that we were in a car hurtling up the motorway I felt it prudent to enjoy the Cadbury’s Creme Egg experience in bar form.

Now, I have nothing against your Cadbury’s Creme Eggs, it’s just that they are a little difficult to eat sometimes and are a snack better suited to the home environment (on the sofa, in the lounge when watching Ashes To Ashes for example). Sorry, I digress; I’ll get to the point.

Upon biting in to her Cadbury’s Creme Egg Twisted bar Elizabeth’s delight was obvious, the noises alone indicated enjoyment far above the norm! However it was a very different story when I bit into my bar, a very different story indeed.

It was solid!

That’s right solid. You can imagine my surprise when that happened. The enclosed picture was taken when I returned home.

Additionally I have retained the part of the bar that was left (it was a struggle to stop Elizabeth from eating it I can tell you!) and enclose a small chunk (wrapped in cling film) for your forensic analysis. I can tell you this much though, it was definitely the same type of chocolate that you make your Cadbury’s Creme Eggs out of (delicious and tasty).

I would very dearly love to know exactly what happened in your Cadbury’s Creme Egg Twisted factory when this bar was being produced. Was it sabotage by a rival firm? A disgruntled former employee interfering with the fondant injector perhaps? Or could it have been an escaped experiment, the result of a secret project with a special ‘black budget’, set up to research new and innovative products? Who knows, all I know is I was shocked and a little disappointed.

I don’t like to talk about money but I fear given the current economic climate I must. I am obviously now out of pocket to the tune of approximately 65p, if you factor in my time and the cost of producing this letter it rises to a whopping £1.40.

I’m not going to claim damages for emotional distress though so don’t worry. I would settle out of court for the following:

  • An explanation of why my Cadbury’s Creme Egg Twisted bar was hewn from solid (solid!) chocolate
  • A trip for two around the Cadbury’s Creme Egg Twisted factory
  • One box of Cadbury’s Creme Egg Twisted bars
  • A signed photo of Trevor Bond (your Managing Director, he must have had a hand in this if it was a secret project?)

I await your response with baited breath.

Keep on trucking!

Jon

PS This little incident has in no way affected my view of your products, as I type I’m tucking in to a delicious bar of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk!

PPS My phone number, if you need to call me, is 07939 325 186.

PPPS If it was a secret project my discretion is assured. Please don’t send the heavies around, I have a weak ankle.

Not had a response yet…

Good old Jeremy Clarkson.

Ten points to that man. It is kind of funny. We know not all truck drivers murder prostitutes.

Shortly after FC Barcelona won the Champions League final in London, riots broke out in Spain.

The scientists have all got it wrong. There is no super massive black hole at the centre of our galaxy. It’s taken years of observation but I have now come to the conclusion that we have a ginormous shiny football sitting there instead.

I would imagine it to be surrounded by coach loads of aggressive, England shirted fuck wits, shouting half formed lager fuelled opinions at each other on topics as diverse as race relations and tits, all the while celebrating their own inherent manliness by mind-wanking about England’s 1966 World Cup win against Germany, with England played by eleven Sophie Andertons in wet vests.

Football is quite possibly the least entertaining sport on Earth (or in the Universe I should imagine). I’d rather spend an hour and a half locked under water in a steel cage with a shark that’s being relentlessly poked with sticks than go to a football match. If I could get rid of three things, wipe them out as if they had never existed, they would be football, religion and Derek Acorah.

The most worrying type of football fans are the feeble minded, crass, racist, homophobic know nothing pricks who, if I had the chance, I’d brick up in Wembley before pumping it full of raw sewage. From Poland. Which would probably anger them even further. A furious tirade of abuse directed at mythical, immigrant job thieves would constitute their last words as they slowly drowned, the warm effluent burbling into their stupid, shouty lungs.

Some fans enjoying the game.

Some fans enjoying the game.

If you want to make football interesting to me you’d have to arm the goalies. I reckon that would make it pretty bloody entertaining. Each goalie would have a high powered sniper rifle and five rounds of ammunition, the only rule would be that you couldn’t snipe the other goalie. Let’s see how many ‘blistering runs at goal’ the over paid thickos that play the game would make then.

It truly is a game for the weak minded, played by the weak minded.

Only this morning Sol Campbell was on the radio demanding that ‘the fans’ stopped hurling nasty abuse at him. You see, from what I could glean, Sol has been involved in some pathetic on-off transfer deal with Tottenham United and Arsenal Rangers or something, and this has upset the psychopaths from both sides.

I can only imagine it to be a bit like going on to a gaming forum and admitting to owning a PlayStation 3 and an Xbox 360 and thinking that they’re both rather good, which on the interwebs would lead to nothing more than much badly spelt abuse by teenagers with mono-mania.

In the world of the football though, this sort of thing leads to you being castrated with a pen knife in an east end boozer. Short of that, and luckily for Campbell, all this cardinal sin has lead to is ‘the fans’ subjecting him to some horrid, horrid verbal abuse.

Please. You’re playing a game that can make millionaires out of men who would have difficulty writing a shopping list, expect a few hazards son. They’re called fans, which is an abbreviated form of fanatic, which if dictionary.com is to be believed means:

fa•nat•ic (f?-n?t’?k)
noun. A person marked or motivated by an extreme, unreasoning enthusiasm, as for a cause.

I’d be thankful they’re only shouting abuse and not leaping on to the pitch and stabbing you in the face with screwdrivers.

Then again he earns £96,000 a week, yes that’s right folks £96,000 a week, more money than a policeman earns in three years. He should be slightly less whiny I feel, I’d bet my brain that a policeman has to put up with more shit in a day than he does.

So what if you occasionally have to hear some pissed-up, educationally subnormal, fatty call you a talentless twat? You know that once the game’s over you can trot back to your twelve million pound Gloucestershire pad, safe in the knowledge that should you wish – and let’s face it you most probably do – you can get sucked off by an eighteen year old with the IQ of a satsuma, in your jacuzzi, that night.

Look at it with open eyes Campbell, if it wasn’t for the people lining the sides of the football court you’d be a salesman in Phones4U. Every day would be spent desperately trying to sell single mums Pay As You Go handsets on Orange, creeping back to your bedsit to eat a tin of beans and then shuffling off to bed to wank yourself to sleep through a haze of tears, before having to get up and do the same thing again, six days a week.

They’re your boss, they quite literally pay your exorbitant wages. You should be rejoicing in your luck and privilege, not cluttering up my radio with your badly articulated musings on your poor little life.

Talentless twat.

Jeff Minter's lair. Love it.

As a callow youth I used to read Commodore Computing International. It was a very serious magazine, not at all like Zzap64!, although it did have one thing that Zzap didn’t and that was a regular column written by Jeff Minter.

As a rule I’m not a big fan of Jeff Minter’s games, but I am huge fan of his style. Living in Wales, eating curry, loving the ungulates, wandering around in the rain, going to the pub, I think you get the picture.

Anyway back in the March 1988 issue of Commodore Computing International, Jeff wrote an article set in the far away year of 2001 that filled we with tingly feelings about the future, so like the geek I am I’ve scanned it in for you all to read.

Jeff Minter finds tea – the drink not the smoke – mind blowing stuff, discovering fantasies of strange futures for Commodore, Atari and even HAL from 2001. What will he think of next a computer called PG?

Quarter to two in the middle of a windy Welsh night, and I have decided to leave off writing the internal-sequencer module for ‘Space II and bring you this. The Bug Which Prints Zeros Forever will just have to wait until tomorrow morning. Right now, I have just assuaged the raving dreaded Munchies with a sarnie followed by one-third of a cream-and-jam pie, and I’m just washing the lot down with a really good cup of tea. Tea. Wonderous substance.

All that is strictly beside the point, however. What I’m going to waffle about this month stems from some thinking I’ve been doing, and something I’ve been reading, too. The reading was an article about Alan Kay, the guy from Xerox who went on to Apple and there worked on the Lisa and Mac interface, you know, the pointers-and-windows stuff we all have nowadays even on the humble ‘64. It seems they had a lot of that stuff running at Xerox, back in the ‘Sixties for God’s sake, on flight-sim hardware! And here’s us thinking that Intuition’s such a brilliant hack, and how come nobody ever thought of doing it that way before – and all the groundwork was done 20 years ago! After reading that article, the thinking ensued – I fell to thinking: what have they got in the labs now? What’s cooking in the Apple labs where they’re using a flipping Cray to design the next generation of user interface?? And what would it be like to have a computer with such an interface? So I came up with the following spoof review – of a personal computer system you might buy to kick off the new millennium with – and I thought I’d lay it on you this month, instead of the usual 68000-worship…

Extract from Your Supercomputer magazine, 21/12/2001
EXCLUSIVE: PREVIEW of the Atari ‘Discovery’ computer system!..

We have been fortunate enough to be invited to the headquarters of Atari where we were shown the new Atari ‘Discovery’ machine, which should be released this month. Atari have been working on this machine since the early ‘Nineties, and now that superconducting chips and ‘processor memory’ (the logical development from the Transputer systems of late last millennium – ALL memory within a ProcMem-based system is capable of performing a variety of processing functions upon whatever it contains) are available, the design has come out of the labs at Atari and onto the streets. Well, we think Atari are going to freak a LOT of people right out with this new machine. Here’s what we saw…

(Your Supercomputer hack, Zippy the Chiphead, takes over the story)…

I got to Atari not quite knowing what to expect. Atari have been very quiet since they bought Commodore several years ago, and despite evidence of some activity in their research labs little has been known of what they were working on. After admiring the quaint little display of antique STs in the entrance lobby (did we ever really put up with pixies so large you could actually see them one atatime?)Iwas ushered into a large, comfortable room in which there appeared to be just a large desk and one of those amazing hydraulic chairs which look like they belong on the Star Ship Enterprise. No monitors, no disk drives, not even a fan. After a certain amount of confusion, I was assured that the desk was, in fact, the Atari Discovery computer.

At first sight the computer appears to be a large, black monolith, perhaps six inches thick, mounted on suitably high-tec legs. On sitting down to the machine you find that the whole surface can be tilted so as to be at a comfortable angle for the user. Of course, I sat down at the machine and felt a little foolish, I kept looking for the mouse and not finding one! I reached out a hand to touch the surface of the monolith, and got my first surprise: the Atari logo appeared in the middle of the smooth black surface. It looked just as if it were painted on, except for the fact that it was doing the most amazing colour-cycling. The image was startling to a computer user used to looking at monitors – even the highest- quality monitor cannot render graphics which look like they were printed images. This was my first encounter with Atari’s new display technology – the ‘screen’ is composed of millions of tiny beads which change their colour according to what image is being displayed. The beads are opaque, and if viewed by ambient light, it appears that the surface of the monolith just changes colour. It doesn’t shine, like a monitor, because unless you turn on the backlighting if it’s really dark, the colours you see come from reflected ambient light just like they would for a piece of paper. The effect is uncanny.

On the Discovery, the whole upper surface of the monolith functions as both screen and interface to the computer. When you rest your hands upon the surface of the machine, it comes to life: after the Atari logo has been displayed the monolith changes into what appears to be a fine wooden table with a couple of bits of paper lying on it. (Atari assure me that the user can configure the default desk surface to be whatever he likes, so if you favour cracked Formica instead of walnut veneer, you can have it). The surface of the monolith feels faintly resilient: in fact it is a highly-accurate touch-sensitive surface capable of distinguishing between the lightest touch and the heaviest pressure. Operating the system is totally instinctive, as I found out: just reach for one of the pieces of paper and drag it towards you, and that’s exactly what happens. You can do anything you could do with a normal piece of paper: turn it around a little so as to get a better view, slide it over or under another piece (depending on how hard you press as you slide) . . . of course you can’t make a paper aeroplane out of it, the screen is still only two-dimensional! Examining the paper, I found that it was headed, in a neat hand-written script, ‘Atari HAL operating system Version 0.9’. (The script is again user-configurable, so if you’re into Epson Dot-Matrix circa 1984 on some kind of nostalgia trip you’ll get your way).

Underneath the main heading was a list of sub-headings; running a finger down the list highlighted each in turn and – a neat touch this – increasing pressure of the finger on an item caused the whole surface of the desktop to ‘zoom in’ on the selected area. Very useful for reading the small print. Tapping an item in the list results in another piece of paper being spawned – the paper and desktop look so real that seeing another piece peel itself off is quite startling a-d weird. I generated a sheet headed ‘Demos’ from the parent sheet, and received a written list of the available demos on the system. Simultaneously, a variety of familiar objects appeared on the desktop: a pen, a paintbrush, a globe (spinning, too)

These objects can be grabbed, moved around, and tapped on in order to get them to work. There isn’t enough space here to fully describe all the demos; the highlights included such things as a WP package upon which you could write with a finger, or by ‘typing’ on a representation of a keyboard painted on the desktop, or by using an empty fountain pen upon the surface of the ‘paper’ on the desktop. There was an art package which was operated by using real paintbrushes on the desktop surface – the surface can detect even minute changes of pressure – proper painting, but with all the advantages of computer graphics.

I liked the Lightsynth program from T.E.A. (a new software company calling themselves True Electronic Art) upon which some remarkable effects are possible by using both hands and that remarkable pressure-sensitive surface. Perhaps the most fascinating program was World, a logical extension from the flight-simulator: linked to a large database of world coordinates, the user can ‘fly’ to any point on Earth at any speed and view the surroundings at any scale; of course a lot of fine detail is lost as even with gigabytes of core you cannot digitise every point on the planet, but advanced fractal techniques are used to generate detail. I went to Machu Picchu in the World simulator and found the fractal rendering of the rough Inca stonework to be quite convincing. At the moment World is empty, but the designers promise an update featuring animals and plant growth next year. The company producing World, Dave Bowman Associates, tell us that there will be a companion program, provisionally entitled God, which will allow the end-user to create new planets to explore using World. Generating a convincing planet should be possible in about a week using the new software.

I can only mention a few of the remarkable demos in my limited space here; expect proper reviews in later issues. After my ‘hands-on’ with the Discovery, I talked with the Atari bosses about marketing and pricing of the new machine. Amazingly, the whole system will only cost you #.

Extract ends, ‘Your Supercomputer’ magazine, 21/12/2001

Who knows?

Anything can happen.

Well, I think I’ll just print this out and shamble off to make myself another cup of tea. Tea. Remarkable substance….

I can’t begin to tell you how cool that was to me when I was thirteen.

Ayo Technology.

Whoa! I’ve just listened to Ayo Technology by 50 Cent. Nothing remarkable about that in itself, however the one thing that is remarkable is that if I’m not very mistaken there’s a SID involved in that tune.

For those not in the know the SID is a chip that was used in the Commodore 64 to produce its music, it’s got a very distinctive sound that hardcore gamers or those into the retro scene would instantly recognise. It is almost certainly a SID making those noises, listen to the instrumental version yourself.

Now if I’m not mistaken Timbaland produced Ayo Technology in conjunction with Danja, so presumably one of them’s either ripped the music from a C64 game or has got a SidStation on the go.

So if it is the case that there is a SID behind the sounds on that song, which I’m certain there is, I’m not sure how I feel about it. On one hand it vindicates my feelings on the whole SID music scene, in as much as that the mainstream can accept the sounds as part of popular music. On the other though it feels that I no longer belong to a secret little club!

Anyway I’m fairly certain the majority of the people that listen to it won’t even notice!

Russell T Davies, the world's best writer!

That’s Russel T. Davies. He writes Doctor Who and Queer As Folk, and he also wrote this nonsense.

‘Whatever you do on Doctor Who, whatever technology or futurism you’re putting on screen, it’s always going to look like it was made now and it should. You know, science fiction in the sixties looks like it was made in the sixties, the seventies, eighties. The worst and most stupid thing you can do is go in to a meeting and say let’s make it timeless.

For a start, why? I think these programs are a record of the year in which they are made and they should be and they should show that off, and plus you can’t fight it that’ll creep in anyway. There’s no such thing as a timeless design, ever.

And I think partly you have to celebrate that.’

What an idiot. Of course you can have timeless design, it just takes skill. Skill that Mr Davies is perhaps incapable of.

Look at Star Wars, thirty years old and you’d be hard pushed to definitively tell that it’s a product of the seventies. Try Blade Runner I couldn’t tell if that was from 1982 or 1997. What about The Fifth Element, a brightly coloured assault on the senses that still looks fresh. Need I go on? Probably not.

This is all just so much pointless waffle to distract from the piss poor stories and special effects in Doctor Who. I think the T must stand for tit.

Battlestar Galactica.

Forget Dirk Benedict poncing around in a beige anorak, this is the business.

Filmed almost entirely straight this starts from a bit of a weird point of view that confused me a little at first, but hey, I’m easily confused! Commander Adama, played brilliantly by Edward James Olmos, is in control of the soon to be retired Battlestar Galactica which has been partially turned in to a museum (complete with a converted docking bay gift shop). Adama’s reluctance to network his ships computers certainly pays off in the later stages of the series, but at the start provides a bit of anchorage for fans of the old series.

It’s forty years since the Cylons turned against their human masters and things have been pretty quiet. That is until they manage to get hold of some top secret stuff and decide to blow the shit out of humanity, it’s from this point that things really start cooking! The Cylons devastate humanity and by the end of it all we’re back at the point the original series started at, Galactica searching for the mythical Earth.

Which brings me round nicely to the inevitable comparisons that will take place between this and the original. It’s not the original and thank goodness it isn’t. The original was badly acted and was hamstrung by appalling storylines, flying motorbikes anyone?

The mini series takes all of the salvageable bits of the original, adds whizzo CG, good acting, a couple of proper laughs, mixes in a bit of surprise sex changes (Starbuck’s a bird!) and tops it off with a cracking storyline and manages to pull it of with aplomb!

The effects, oh boy, the effects! All the space ships are straight out of Japanese comic books and video games, they’re great! The new Viper looks almost exactly like the Vic Viper from Konami’s Gradius series of games and is super cool by association.

The effects bods have managed to shy away from the Star Wars style pulsing lasers the original series used, instead going for ultra cool rail guns with tracer rounds. It’s a brilliant touch that lends an air of credibility to the space fighting scenes, something the original never had. The temptation to go with lasers must have been fairly strong mind.

To finish I’ve got to say that it’s well worth shelling out a tenner for the DVD, the three hours of modern sci-fi you get in return is without doubt some of the best I’ve seen in a long time.