Archive for November, 2005

Mario Kart DS

Tuesday, November 29th, 2005

Nintendo know how to make games. I mean, they really know how to make games: heck, they’ve been doing it in one form or other for over 150 years, so you’d hope that they had some kind of a handle on it by now. And their experience and expertise shows: Mario Kart DS is the best Mario Kart yet. And given that the Mario Kart series is the best kart racing series around, it follows that MK:DS is the best kart racing game ever. Indeed, it’s one of the best racing games of any kind, ever, and quite probably one of the best games of any kind, ever. It’s plain, pure, simple, joyous fun, and you owe it to yourself to buy it.

Also, it’s got lots and lots and lots of blue sky in it. Which automatically makes it worth having, even if nothing else does.

The Reason The Internet Was Invented

Friday, November 25th, 2005

This is the reason the internet exists. Warning: May contain large amounts of serious rocking out.

(When I rule the world, all music will be played by far-too-earnest young Japanese men with an electric guitar, a mullet and a total lack of irony)

XBox 360 vs Sledgehammer

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2005

Given how much I’m spectacularly failing to get excited about the imminent UK release of the XBox 360, this amused me immensely: a group of guys took donations, then queued up at a shop to make sure they got one of the first XBox 360s, then took it outside and smashed it to pieces with sledgehammers in front of the queue of people. Apparently, some people got quite upset with them. Especially the guy who was one behind the guy in the queue who got the last one.

Pandora

Saturday, November 19th, 2005

I really need to go to bed, but just a quick note before I do to say that Pandora is very cool indeed – tell it what music you like and it creates a custom “radio station” consisting of other songs it thinks you’ll like.

The Absurd Hi-fi Product Review Generator

Thursday, November 17th, 2005

I’ve just spent a hugely productive hour or so waiting for test results, so I wrote The Amazing Hi-fi Product Review Generator to pass the time.

Behold the glory of the “Ultimate Mounting Tuner Cleanser Rest”, which will “give a massively rounder acoustic instruments whilst simultaneously softening fluffy mechanical noise and lowering cold static”!

Or how about the “Analog Fixating Pre-Amp Flattener” which will “create a noticably rounder bottom end and a vastly deeper high-end, while also reducing distasteful buzz”. How could you not want one, eh?

You’re all sick

Thursday, November 17th, 2005

My webstats software is great. It shows me what people who arrive at Not A Blog from a search engine were searching for. It’s a wonderful little window into the collective internet mind. Unsurprisingly, then, what they’re largely searching for is free music, help with their homework and porn. Mainly porn, actually, and often really specific porn. The world has some real issues. The thing I still don’t understand is why anyone who was looking for “russian sex ladies nipple dvd free video free photo sites” might actually end up here.

Anyway, notable statistics this time round include:

  • 669 people arrived here after searching for “Hot Tub Ranking“. Yep, it’s true: a two line post written whilst half-cut watching a terrible Channel 5 gameshow generated more traffic for me than anything else this month.
  • In fact, 6 of my top 10 search results this month were related to “Hot tub ranking“.
  • The other four were “Chris Whitworth“, “parm reading” (the fact that this has remained in the top ten since this blog started just confirms my belief that everyone in the universe is stupid), “moose pics” (another perrenial favourite) and “Angelo Baddelamenti” (proving that I also am one of the stupid people in the world who can’t spell).
  • internal constraints of panda wok“. I just have no idea.
  • santas of geothermal resources developed and future out look in indonesia“. Uh… what?
  • christian evaluation warcraft computer game“. Now this I can help out with. I’m a Christian, and I think it’s absolutely awesome. There; I hope that’s useful.
  • statistics for chilled garlic bread ireland“. GET OUT MORE.
  • stagecoach driver blog“. I can only assume that if this did exist, it would consist entirely of posts like this:

    Bad day. Some people got on my bus and expectde me to take them somewhere. Worse, one of them tried to pay with a £5 note, so naturally I had to kill him. Ran over four cyclists, sat feeling smug and warm with the doors closed in the bus station whilst the public sat shivering outside. God, I hate the world.

    I don’t like bus drivers very much.

  • crazy taxi geforce fix” is still getting some hits, and it still doesn’t work on GeForce 4MXs. Sorry guys.
  • the aa kev bev download“. You people sicken me. Why would anyone want this?

Keeping quiet

Thursday, November 17th, 2005

In the last month or so, I’ve posted less than I think I’ve ever posted before. Also, I’ve had more unique visitors (and done more traffic) than in any month since this thing started.

You obviously all love it when I shut up.

Blue Sky In Games

Tuesday, November 15th, 2005

UK:Resistance have launched their Blue Sky In Games Campaign – the campaign to get rid of “dark” “gangsta” games where you have to “ice” “niggaz” in your “hood”, and start making super happy joy fun games with blue skies and yellow rings and green grass and where your only attack is jumping on things.

I wish it to be known that I thoroughly, entirely endorse this campaign.

A puzzle

Tuesday, November 15th, 2005

NOTE: there isn’t a box with very pale text in it below after the fourth paragraph of this post, hold down Shift and click Reload in your web browser. Thanks.

Many years ago – more than ten, because I was at high school – my maths teacher gave me a problem to occupy myself when I ran out of things to do in my maths lessons. I gave it a whole ten or fifteen minutes attention and then moved on to something more interesting, which, knowing me at the time, was probably staring longingly and hopelessly at Sarah Phoenix. Last night, something – probably that course on number theory on the MIT website, actually – triggered the memory of the problem and I was gripped by a sudden urge to solve it. After a few minutes of tracing on the wall with my finger (I’m a geek, I don’t own any pens), I had a solution, and a proof, and I was happy. So, that’s a nice story. But not a terribly interesting post. So, just so you can share in my joy, I shall outline the problem and the solution for your delight and merriment.

Consider a snooker table with pockets in the four corners only. It has integer dimensions x and y corresponding to the width and the length of the table. A ball is placed at the bottom-left corner of the table and struck so that it travels at 45 degrees to either edge of the table. When the ball hits an edge, it bounces off at exactly 90 degrees. It will continue travelling until it reaches a pocket.

  • Prove that the ball will always eventually reach a pocket
  • Show how the pocket the ball will end up in can be derived from the dimensions of the table.

Some of you will probably not want the solution spoiling, so the solution below is in very light coloured text. To read it, simply move the mouse cursor over the text.

Throughout this proof, I use “horizontal bounce” to mean a change in horizontal direction – that is, a bounce off the left or right edges of the table – and “vertical bounce” to mean a change in vertical direction – that is, a bounce off the top or bottom edges of the table.

Consider that in one unit of time, the ball will travel one unit horizontally (either left or right) and one unit vertically (either up or down). The ball bounces when it hits an edge. Consider bounces off the top and bottom: as the table is y units high, the time taken to travel from the bottom of the table to the top (neglecting horizontal movement, as this is irrelevent for the moment) will be y units of time – and thus, it will hit the top or bottom edge every y units of time. Similarly, it will hit the left or right edges every x units of time.

As the pockets lie at the corners – that is, where the edges of the table meet, the ball can only be at a corner (and therefore go in a pocket) at a point in time that is a multiple of both x and y – in fact, it will be the lowest common multiple of x and y, as it will enter the pocket on the first occasion the time is at a simultaneous multiple of x and y. As there is always a lowest common multiple of two integers, this therefore proves that the ball will always end up in a pocket.

Now, to show which pocket the ball will end up in: There are four possible directions of travel for the ball, and each corner can only be arrived at by one of these directions of travel – if the ball is travelling down and left, it will end up in the bottom left pocket, and so on. So, if we know the direction the ball is travelling in when it hits the pocket, we know which pocket it has gone in.

When the ball starts off, it is travelling up and to the right. When it hits an edge, it will change either its horizontal direction or its vertical direction. Consider changes in the ball’s vertical direction: the first bounce will change the direction from up to down; the second, from down to up; the third, up to down again, and so on. Thus, we can see that, after an odd number of changes in vertical direction (1,3,5,7…) the direction of the ball will always be downwards, and after an even number of vertical-bounces (0,2,4,6…) the direction of the ball will always be upwards. Using the same logic, we can show that the horizontal direction of the ball will always be left after an odd number of horizontal bounces, and right after an even number of horizontal bounces.

So, therefore, if we know the number of horizontal and vertical bounces, we know the final direction of the ball, and thus what pocket it has ended up in. So, how do we find the number of bounces? Well, we’ve already shown that the ball will enter the pocket after t = LCM(x,y) units of time, and we know that the ball bounces horizontally every x units of time, and vertically every y units of time. So, the number of horizontal bounces will be t/x, and the number of vertical bounces will be t/y. And thus, we can determine which pocket the ball will end up in:

If t/x is odd, then left else right.

If t/y is odd, then bottom else top.

Easy when you know how, eh? :)

More on the irrelevency of the X360

Monday, November 14th, 2005

Yeah, there’s a demo pod in HMV. Connected to a very sexy HDTV (which just serves to show up artefacts in compressed video even worse than a standard TV), it had a standard demo disc with Kameo, PGR3, Call of Duty 2 and a few others available. I fired up Kameo, and to be fair, it does look pretty. Some of the lighting effects are very nice and the bumpmapping on the dragon’s scales impressed me. But other than being a bit prettier, there really wasn’t anything that set it apart from a standard XBox title: it was just a platform game with a few more polys. Given that the X360 has more computing power than, like, NASA or something, I can’t help but wonder if people don’t really know what to do with it.

I started playing Final Fantasy Tactics Advance again recently. It runs on a Gameboy Advance, which has slightly less computing power than the ten-year old Acorn RISC PC I use as a monitor stand at home. And it’s still utterly, utterly awesome. It’s all about the games, man.