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No time.

Entry 358 posted in: 1. General Mish Mash, 3. Gamebits, 9. I, Pod

I had these superb ideas for at least half a dozen of posts on this blog but local warfare prevented me from writing, more about that later. Then yesterday, when I had some time at hand, my LA-girl threatened with divorce if I didn't go to the hairdresser.

So I took a bus to the hair stylist where a consultant recommended me what to do. In my days one went to the local barbershop where an elderly cantankerous guy would give you the choice of three different haircuts: short, shorter or bald. Nowadays you get a horde of women of the opposite sex who smother you with a lot of oohs and aahs. In those places that practice, for whatever reason, the haute coiffure you never get the same girl twice but as long as they carry the obligatory T&A you won't hear me complain. Yesterday there were 4 or 5 fresh daisies, so to speak, to choose from and one entity who I immediately baptised the hairdresser from Hell. Guess who took care of me? A while later I came home and this time my LA-girl threatened with divorce because I had gone to the hairdresser. Some things will never change.

Last week I also found a budget DVD (only 6 Euro!) containing the first two Age of Empires games and their expansion packs and that is what kept me busy on my PC for the last few days. So before I'm off to kill some Greeks (geeks?) here is what is new, in a hurry...

Again a bunch of useless iPod stats on my MySpace page.

For the top 10 list of the songs I've been listening to since January go to http://www.myspace.com/atagong.

For the top 10 list of the songs I've been listening to in the month of November, go to the MySpace blog section.

...and oh yeah, there is a new Thingamablog version as well... it has some goofy extra features, but I've got no time to explain you, I've only got some time to kill...

If you liked this post - you might be interested in this one as well: Heroes In The Sky (beta release)


Cym City

Entry 359 posted in: 3. Gamebits

People who have ever bothered to read the introduction just above this post...

Start nerdy bit.
Only if you are reading this
on the main page of this website and
if it is the most recent entry of the blog.
End nerdy bit.

...know that I have a very limited attention span. So after playing Age of Empires vigorously for a week or so, at night I was literally dreaming of little antlike men crawling over my desktop, I suddenly gave up from nanosecond n-1 to n. Just like that. I started the same mission a day later only to kill the game 30 seconds later. The magic was gone. Over. Finito. The end.

Now I had a problem. A serious one. Sitting in front of my PC watching naked women giving a visual rendition of the term 'slithery people' wasn't my cup of tea either so I went browsing on the games folder on my desktop.

I tried Carom3D and gave up after one game of pool (I did win however). I had an online Texas Hold'Em poker session but gambled all my virtual fortune in an All In game just to get over with it. I ran like a thief after 3 holes on the Alfheim course on Shot Online. Could it be that I was near to depression?

Then I found something I hadn't noticed for a while. It was called Cym4.

Cym4 stands for Cycling Manager 4, a 'Tour de France' simulation made by Cyanide.

Nowadays the game is called Pro Cycling Manager and as far as I can recall the most recent version is number 7. As there is a new version every year I thereby deduct that Cym4 dates from 2004.

I still remember the very first version of Cycling Manager; it was so dreadful that even I refused to play it. The problem was that I compared it with the Fifa soccer games from EA Sports that were even superb in the last millennium.

Cym4 still is a slightly retarded member from the sporting simulation games family. All cyclists have the same face, some aspects of the AI suck (the cyclists refuse to fight for the mountain trophy, to name just one) and the commentator is just plain ridiculous, having only a dozen sentences or so. It is quite stupid to hear that your 'breakaway has a good chance of making it to the finish' if you have just lost 3 minutes to the chasing peleton (or pack) behind you and there are still 50 kilometres to cycle. And even if the commentator is logically right when he mentions that your 'lead is over two minutes' this sound rather stupid when it is really four and a half.

But for one reason or another the game is very addictive, fans over the globe have put alternative databases for download and for the moment I manage the legendary Molteni team featuring Eddy Merckx, Marino Basso, Joseph Bruyère and Herman van Springel.

Champs-Elysées, here I come!

If you liked this post - you might be interested in this one as well: The Sandbox Of God


True Story

Entry 360 posted in: 6. Self-Made Monsters

It was the time of year when the evenings were cold and dark and SDSL routers gave up transmitting bits and bytes per kilobit and kilobyte.

It was also the time of year to call the helpdesk that gets loads of money for a guaranteed 24/24 7/7 technical service.

- Belgastar helpdesk, Jeroen speaking, how can I be of service to you?
- Jeroen, My SDSL router broke down.
- Indeed sir, I can see that.
- Thanks for monitoring my line. Now send me a repair team right a way.
- Sir, it is Friday night 10 pm.
- Yes and?
- Our people stop at 5.
- I can understand that. Send them tomorrow morning at 8 then.
- Sir.
- Yes?
- Tomorrow is Saturday.
- I am aware of the days of the week, but thanks for reminding. And?
- Our repair people don't work on weekends.
- Listen Jeroen; I think you don't understand the situation completely. I am not a horny ADSL light user who can't get his weekly porn chat. In two hours of time hundreds of EDI messages have to pass through that line, weekend or not. In two hours of time ftp servers are going to connect from all over the world. In two hours of time Citrix and VPN connections will start transferring megabytes of data that is necessary for the future existence of the company I work for. So get me the professional users techdesk.
- Sir.
- Yes?
- I am the professional techdesk.
- I thought you were the home users helpdesk? At weekends I am the home users helpdesk as well, sir, but not now as it closes at 10 pm.
- So when can you send me a repair team for my router then?
- Monday morning sir.
- At what time?
- Depends sir. They may have some others jobs to do.
- One last question then. Why do I pay over 500 euro per month for a SDSL router with guaranteed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, technical assistance if you do nothing more than for a 20 Euro per month ADSL line?
- The extra is, sir, that we answer your phone calls 7 days a week, night and day. Have a good evening, sir.

If you liked this post - you might be interested in this one as well: Tourette's Planet (18+)


So Long

Entry 361 posted in: 2. DNA

I am rereading Douglas Adams' So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish for the umpteenth time now. I know volume four in the trilogy of five isn't considered his best by many fans. It is a rather thin novel and was written at gunpoint. Douglas Adams was a master in procrastination (and making a load of money out of that) and after a while Pan Books were so desperate that they released a promotion kit without actually having a book. Inside the promotion kit a prayer could be found: "Please God grant to Douglas Adams the gift of inspiration (...) so that he can deliver the manuscript in time."

As god (all of them) and Douglas were never on speaking terms the prayer didn't help a lot. In the end there was nothing else left to do to isolate Douglas in a posh hotel suite with a guard before the door and force him to write a book in 2 weeks time. Two whole weeks. Nobody really knew what the story was going to be about but artists at both sides of the Atlantic had already been summoned months before to create the cover image: the English cover (by Gary Day Ellison) showed a dinosaur morphing into a walrus, the American jacket had some jumping dolphins. To quote biographer Neil Gaiman in his Don't Panic book: "There are no dolphins in So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish but there are more dolphins than there are walruses or dinosaurs."

Douglas Adams wasn't really keen in writing yet another hitchhiker novel. At one point in the novel he even tells the "regular followers of the doings of Arthur Dent' to mind their own business (and stop harassing the author). To those readers who are expecting more goofiness and less love story he has the message to "skip on to the last chapter which is a good bit and has Marvin in it'. But Marvin, the paranoid android, only has an appointment with death, as if Douglas Adams wanted to say: see what happens if you keep on asking for my regular characters?

After the tin man has died the novel ends, leaving the reader in quiet desperation. Douglas Adams makes it fairly clear that he is fed up with hitchhiker as well: "There was a point to this story, but it has temporarily escaped the chronicler's mind." It makes me think of Ian Fleming whose James Bond character (in the original novels) matures from a one-sided government killing machine to a person of flesh and blood, questioning the politics of the British Empire concerning Cuba and refusing to kill a spy in The Living Daylights.


So long is in many ways a tender love story, and its construction - which is very episodic - is full of little scenes that are almost self-contained and that show off Douglas' talent as a sketch writer. (Nick Webb in Wish You Were Here, p. 199-200.)

Quite right. Nearly every page contains some near-to-perfection sentences, thoughts or ideas. Take page one for instance:

This planet (Earth, note by FA) has - or rather had - a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.

You can't get more perfect than that, if you ask me. The first 150 pages of the novel are a treat and contain the cookie incident, then Douglas (still trapped in his hotel room, remember) and his vicious gatekeeper from hell suddenly realised that they needed to end the book because it was Friday, five minutes before five.

In the last 15 pages of the book, obviously written in a hurry, the following happens:

  • a giant flying saucer lands
  • Ford Prefect visits Arthur Dent (and Fenchurch, the girl, not the railway station)
  • they board the flying saucer
  • they arrive at the land of Sevorbeupstry (a little tired from the journey)
  • they meet Marvin who is now 37 times older than the Universe
  • they read God's Final Message
  • Marvin dies
  • They rent a scooter from a guy with green wings

The book ends with an epilogue (making that the 42nd chapter) in which Blart Versenwald III designs a "remarkable new breed of super-fly that could (...) figure out how to fly through the open half of a half-open window'.

Basically this post started as an introduction to tetradecahedrons but it grew rapidly into a monster. I also wanted to add something else about Ian Fleming and his James Bond character but I have forgotten what.

You'll have to tune in next year, I guess, to read the next part...;

The Cookie Incident (back to text)

For a description of this urban myth please consult: Snopes.

For Douglas Adams' comment on this subject, please consult: The Cookie Incident.

And a short movie on the same theme: The Cookie Thief.


iPod Statistics December 2007

Entry 362 posted in: 9. I, Pod

Again a bunch of useless iPod stats on my MySpace page.

For the top 10 list of the songs I've been listening to since January go to http://www.myspace.com/atagong.

For the top 10 list of the songs I've been listening to in the month of December, go to the MySpace blog section.

If you liked this post - you might be interested in this one as well: No time.