Spam spam spam spam

Had to add a new spam blocker plugin as, in the terms of the street, that shit was getting immense.

Sadly just blocking the IPs was no longer cutting it as I was getting stuff from lots of random IPs as opposed to just one really persistent one (highest so far is 486 attempts this month from one IP I banned ages ago).

Also, it appeared the “I like your blog very much I read with great interest PS BUY CHEAP PILLS ONLINE FROM MOTHER RUSSIA” comments have petered out to be replaced by strings of nonsensical consonants, because I’m so much more likely to tick one of those off as a legitimate comment.  It’s like arguing with someone who sounds like they are making sense, but really they are just dragging out the conversation and then they suddenly decide to start barking random syllables at you.

KIRSABLENARFAN!  DISFERENGENGENGENGEN!  YENWENFIRBZTFRINK!

This shit can’t be working for anyone, can it?  Really?

Next time, find out how I got ripped in two weeks without weights, and how a single mom discovered the trick to turning yellow teeth white!  Also, the secret of ultra-high scores in Bejeweled Blitz!

That’s all well and good, but how does a flute work?

Lisa and I went to see a concert of harp and flute music tonight, performed by Sally Pryce (harp…as in, she plays it, not a harp called Sally) and Adam Walker (flute).

They were both very talented players, although I thought the acoustics of the church were a little against them; it seemed to project the sound of the flute much more clearly towards the back of the room and as a result he seemed to smother his partner a little.  With different seats I’m guessing the experience would have been a lot more balanced.

Also they didn’t play any AC/DC or Slipknot covers.  Boo.

Joking aside, I thought the format of harp and flute would work well for most of the Nobuo Uematsu stuff as used in pretty much every Final Fantasy soundtrack, ever.  One of the tangoes they played sounded surprisingly close to a battle theme at one point…

…I’m such a geek.

This is really starting to annoy me now.

Here is the official trailer for the UK/US release of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Notice anything odd about it?
No?
Okay, now compare with this one.

I really do not get this marketing strategy of trying to hide the fact that it’s a foreign-language production.  And it’s not just because it’s Swedish.  French jumping over stuff and kicking people in the shins sequel District 13: Ultimatum gets the same treatment, with a gravel-voiced narrator and conspicuously silent protagonists.

I’d get all worked up and set to write a harsh email to someone, anyone, in the movie industry to complain, but then it occurred to me that this is probably a direct response to market research.  At some point in the past, someone will have gone down the box office numbers for films that feature people speaking foreign in the trailer and come to the conclusion that foreign speak equals bad box office in the UK and the US.

I’d like to imagine that the reasoning behind that conclusion was speciously derived, not taking into account budget or marketing effort for each production, but the more cynical part of me wonders if that even matters.  The mob that is the public mind has horrible, terrible taste and is, in general, more than happy to gobble down whatever swill is marketed as tasting of peaches and happiness.  Somewhere, out there in the world, someone’s watching that first trailer and thinking, “oh, that looks like a good watch – I wonder if it’s like the Da Vinci Code?”

Oh, I remember this episode.

Or, the sentence most likely to be said when you forget what season of CSI you were watching last.  Since we hadn’t unpacked Season 5 of CSI: NY and thought that meant we were halfway through 4, we both said it a lot.

I think there’s another reason why I avoid bothering with a Facebook account (I actually have one now, saving a particular page name just in case I ever need it, but otherwise it sits idle, to the chagrin of Lisa who wants friending and a declaration of coupledom to go with it).

I’m just not an exciting person.  I don’t have things like “just climbed a mountain” or “saved a family of Sumatran bush babies” to update my status with.

You could say I’m jealous of overachievers, but then that implies that I’m an underachiever, which I’m not.  To be an underachiever, I’d have to have at least some achievements with which I could measure myself against par and find out I’m woefully short.

You remember that kid in X-Men: The Last Stand that caused mutant powers to disappear in proximity to him?

I’m that kid.  I’m an achievement null.

It’s not like I could even find banal things to update my status with that turn out to be rather funny, you know the sort of thing that reads;

10:25 Ate a bag of chilli-flavoured crisps.

10:30 Must remember to wash hands before self-abusing, although top tip: dipping scorched penis into funsize pot of yoghurt is a soothing remedy.

I really need to do some more interesting stuff.  I need to get right on that.

First, though, I’m going to play a couple of games of the Bad Company 2 demo.

Also starring Nicholas Cage as…Fu Manchu.

Today I got to see a consultant about the biopsy I had back in January.  Funnily enough, it was a different consultant which meant I had to go through everything with her again to get to the point where she would tell me what the hell they actually discovered.

So, when I was in my teens I developed HSP.  I was all kinds of blotchy, which was fun in that not fun at all way, and had to go for ultrasound and blood tests.  The doctor declared me okay when the blotches went away, and that if I had any issues in years to come, be sure to mention I had the condition.

So, almost fifteen years down the line, here’s the kicker.  It never really went away.  Instead, my immune response has been producing lots of an antibody (IgA) that has repeatedly inflamed and scarred my kidneys, reducing them to approx. 40% of their normal function.

Kidneys, as we all know, don’t self-repair and don’t grow back, so 40% is my new 100% at the moment.  All I can do now is take even more medication to try and control my blood pressure so that the inflammation and scarring occur at a reduced rate.

Due to my age and the level of degeneration thus far, I’m in the “poor” prognosis group, which means I will see dialysis in my lifetime and may require a new kidney (although because it’s an immune system disorder, I have a 35% chance of recurrence in any new kidney, and an 11% chance of outright rejection within a 5-year period).

To add to all this, the consultant tells me I should be sure to “look after myself”, which I thought was a bit fucking rich.  I mean, I’ve just been told that I have a systemic disorder that cannot be stopped or reversed that will, if the progression is linear, reduce my kidneys to a pair of vestigial, stony lumps by the time I’m forty-five?  Look after myself?  I’ve been doing nothing but so far and look what it’s got me.  Christ alive, I know I’ve heard some pretty arbitrary advice in my time but that really takes the biscuit.

Gah, writing that has made me all grumpy again.

Game On.

It’s been a big week on the Xbox.  Lisa and I finished Mass Effect 2 in a little over 28 hours of play.  It’s a great game; the essence of a much larger RPG distilled down to a very streamlined product that puts characterisation ahead of everything else, and really establishes a connection between the player and their primary toon.  As an experience, Mass Effect 2 is the modern interpretation of Steve Jackon’s Choose Your Own Adventure books.

In that spirit, we did go back to re-attempt the final mission such that the resulting end sequence matched our “ideal” narrative for Commander Shepard going into Mass Effect 3.  I did think about re-starting entirely to pursue some more romance options early doors with her, but I really liked the little moment, pre-Omega 4 relay jump, that came from staying “celibate” this time around.

Despite the very strong character-driven story, though, the main plot itself was so much nonsensical bobbins.  I mean, I’m well aware that it’s space opera, and a certain level of nonsensical bobbins is expected, indeed demanded, but I had a fairly broad conception of how the proposed trilogy would pan out based on my experience of the genre entire.  Completely contrary to my expectation of a three-act structure, however, Bioware seem to have opted for two main acts, being I and III, with the middle being occupied with what appears to be a side story.  Maybe it will all fit together at the end, but I’m expecting some serious leaps in the narrative to make that happen.

Meanwhile, Microsoft have decided to remove support for all old Xbox titles on Xbox Live!  While in principle this is annoying, I can understand why they do it.  So few people play anything other than the current batch of AAA titles, that games like PGR, Crimson Skies and HALO2 must see absolutely bugger all uptime from the player base.  Even fairly current titles like  Sturmovik – are like stepping into a Purgatorial plane of Xbox Live existence, populated only by a few spectral souls hunkered down, shivering, in the steel bubbble that is an IL-2.  Purging the system of these ghost-town server slots must feel like a cleansing purge to the guy overseeing it all.

Anyway.  I was thinking about searching out a new game for the iPod touch, but instead I should probably play more Go on it.  I’ve pretty much forgotten everything I learned about how to play it properly, so the little computer-controlled app should keep me more than busy in my idle moments going back over it.

That said, I saw there was an Advance Wars-style, turn-based combat game recommended over on Kotaku, which almost became an impulse buy on the strength of the words “Advance Wars” and “turn-based”.  Given that when I was playing Advance Wars on the GBA SP I could barely find a night’s sleep that wasn’t occupied by little orange tanks sliding, like chess pieces, across a map to hold the choke points against a blue-armoured foe, I figured getting a clone for the iPod was probably a dangerous course to set myself on.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a gaming post without me mentioning Bejeweled Blitz…again.  Seeing as I get a living fuckton of hits from people looking for ways to cheat at it, I thought I’d oblige them with my own method of getting a really, really big number you can show off to all your friends on Facebook.

Step One: create a new comment on Facebook.

Step Two: type in a massively large number.

Step Three: Hit the submit button.

Step Four: If you have to cheat at a game on Facebook in order to get that endorphin-soaked rush of personal satisfaction, you are a malingering waste of space.  Go buy some fucking fertiliser for your Farmville farm or something, stop hitting up my website because you can’t match up symbols as quickly as you’d like to be able to.

Just desserts.

Talking over coffee about the notorious Scottish delicacy that is the deep-fried Mars Bar, I suggested that a posher, and slightly more palatable, alternative would be an Mars ice cream bar baked Alaska.

I can’t find mention of such a dish on the internets so I heretofore claim it as my own.

All I need to do now is make one then plant a flag in it.

Bad Company 2 demo

This was due Feb 4th on Xbox Live, but either due to a mistake or just overenthusiasm, it arrived on the Marketplace yesterday – the same day the PC beta opened to players.

You get one level to play, a multiple-stage assault where the attackers have to blow up eight installations in stages of two.  The defenders have to, well, you know…defend.  The games so far seem to be a rolling alternation of attack/defence with people hopping out when they get sick of it and being replaced by new players.

Sniper class?  Check.  No wander on the scope, it’s very solid – almost too solid at times, as people with knowledge of the high spots of the level can take disgustingly long shots with no drop on the bullet, no wind and no human error.  I managed a couple of headshot kills on runners that were literally just me holding my sights over a gap in a fence miles away and pressing the trigger when a black dot appeared.  I might as well have got a big red button that said “randomly kill some dude” on it.

Medic is fun, though.  I particularly like the fact that he gets a LMG!  Bullets for everyone!  I found myself quite enjoying the whole run around zapping people back to life, but my teammates frustratingly refused to stand near the health packs I was constantly dropping for them.  “Here guys! Have some free health!” “Oh no that’s not for us we like bullets in the face instead.” Boom.  Dead guy.  I resuscitate him again, drop a health pack because you ressurect at half health…he runs off and gets shot.

I endede up going and playing some MW2 instead.  Finally lvl 20, which gives me access to…nothing interesting.  Such a letdown.