IT Crowd

I’m a bit behind on this, but it seems appropriate to post now given the series has just finished airing on Channel 4. IT Crowd is a comedy about 3 misfits in the IT department of Reynholm Industries, a sprawling corporation. WikiPedia has an excellent entry on it but you’d kind of expect that! For those interested you can download IT Crowd here.

I’ve throughly enjoyed it and I’m chuffed that a second series with two more episodes (8 instead of 6) is in the works. Its from Graham Linehan the co-creator of Father Ted which is another one of my faves. Its funny actually, someone at work mentioned it was very “Father Ted” like and he wasn’t surprised when I pointed out it had the same creator.

Richard Ayoade as Moss is superb. I’d previously seen him in Garth Marenghi’s Dark Places where he played Dean Learner / Thornton Reed. It is kind of hard to describe:

Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace was originally filmed in the 1980s and has since earned a cult reputation as one of the most terrifying and radical television programmes ever made.

Except its not, its a spoof of that and is about the strange goings on in a remote hospital. Its incredibly cheesy but funny with it.

Chris Morris is also excellent as Denholm Reynholm the director of Reynholm Industries. The first episode with him shouting at his apparently “voice-activated” computer had me in stitches. I’d really enjoyed him in The Day Today and Brass Eye which were hilarious takes on TV news.

Actually I could go on for ages about this kind of stuff since all these comedy programmes are heavily interlinked, like…

Lets just say I like my British comedy :)

Spore

I’ve been trying to finish a mini-book review on the Dark Knight Returns for the past couple of nights but its just not happening. That and college has started back up. I do however have a cool link to this Google Video. Its about 35 minutes long and its demo from May of last year of Will Wright’s next game called Spore. GameSpot describes it as:

…a simulation game created by Will Wright (Sim City, The Sims, etc) that allows players to control various life forms from the cellular to the galactic level.

It looks pretty amazing, but the really cool bit is that the content of the game is procedurally generated. From WikiPedia:

Because the Spore gameworld is procedurally generated, it can be as large, varied, and detailed as it needs to be without an expensive team designing each element individually. Because of this malleability, users’ creatures will react realistically to a wide range of customisations.

In Wright’s first public demonstration of Spore, he created a tripedal creature in the creature evolution editor. The game then figured out how a lizard with three legs and a prehensile tail should walk. Wright then showed several more pre-made creatures which moved realistically, despite their exotic design. Other examples showed insectile creatures with multiple heads and six legs, a bird whose ability to turn was compared to an SUV due to the massive head it had, and a more simple dog-like creature.

You start off messing about in a 2D view trying to grow a single cell organism. You evolve it over time and with each new generation you can change its appearance and abilities. Eventually you’ll move to being underwater and then on to land.

Next you go onto building a camp site and from there a small village and so on. You keep advancing your technologies (a la Civilisation) until you get a UFO. At which point you can leave the planet you’re on. Now this is the bit blew that me away, you can then zoom out from your planet and see the other planets and stars in your solar system. But thats not all, you can fly outside of your solar system to see the entire galaxy. From there you can go where you want, e.g. fly into other solar systems and start Terra-forming their planets. Very cool stuff!

I highly recommend watching the entire video, its superb. I’m foaming at the mouth at the thought of it :)

Jay emailed me the above link, so thanks mister!

Recent Comments Added

Just got hold of a WordPress plugin to list recent comments in the sidebar. Its called Brian’s Latest Comments and its pretty nifty. Originally a WP 1.5 plugin, but it works fine with WP 2.0. You just need to drop a PHP file in your plugins folder, activate it and whack in a couple of lines of code and you’re done. For time being I’ve left it on the default options since they seem ok.

I’ve noticed though that the direct links to individual comments doesn’t work. Must be a bug in the site theme… feck!

Syntax Highlighting

Got hold of a neat little WordPress plugin by Matthew Delmarter for doing syntax highlighting on PHP, HTML and CSS. Why you ask? All will become clear later. Anyhoo, heres what it looks like:


<?php
// remove session varibles, not needed anymore
if (isset($_SESSION[fOrderToken]))
unset($_SESSION[fOrderToken]);
?>

I’d previously looked for one but none where WordPress 2 compatible. This particular plugin is dead easy to install and activate but is a pain for getting code to display properly. You have to use the raw HTML editor in WordPress and surround what you want to highlight in tags. Not exactly rocket science, but I use BlogJet which does have a raw HTML view, but it makes such a bollocks of it, its not worth the hassle.

Other than that though, its pretty good. Might make some tweaks to it to make it more BlogJet friendly!

Edit: It appears to leave trailing lines / br tags, bugger.

Darwinia

A post on Coding Horror yesterday reminded me of this. As Jeff notes, its hard to describe, but the gist of it is Dr. Sepulveda has created a virtual world full of peeps he calls Darwinian’s. Unfortunately when connecting it to the world wide interweb, it gets infected by a virus. You’ve got to help wipe out the virus and give control back to the Darwinian’s.

Darwinia1 Darwinia2

Obviously its not quite a simple as that, but it is definitely a back to basics strategy game. And its addictive as hell. The later levels take ages to complete but they’re so absorbing. I love the graphics too. Very old school, but they just add to its charm.

I was originally going to buy it from their website, however it appeared on Steam back in December so I get it through there.

Darwinia3 Darwinia4

I have a couple of niggles though. On my NVidia enabled box (a 6600GT) it tends to barf and crash it, causing a nasty blue screen and reboot. I suspect its video drivers and Darwinia combined. I’ve tried different drivers, but to no avail. But I can forgive it because its created by 3 lads and not the Collective with its army of testers and hardware. On my ATI laptop I have no such problems, but it has a 9700 Radeon Mobility, so its not exactly speedy.

There is an interesting interview and preview of their next game, Defcon, in this months Edge magazine (Issue 160). Unfortunately not on the Edge website. They also mention that in the first three weeks of Darwinia being available on Steam, it sold more copies than they had through their website in the previous 9 months. Ouch!

Comedy Bonus Link: What is Love? #2 and #3 are my faves. Note: The rest of that site is NWS.

Rumble Box

Rumblebox1Picked this up via Digg. What an ace little game it is. The name, Rumble Box, is very apt. The idea is you’re in a box and you control a person (?) made up out of cubes with a sphere for a head. Odd I know, but its got a really nice cell shaded style to it.

Doors randomly open on the sides of the box to let out enemies that you have to kill. When you kill them they don’t disappear, but collapse into their constituent parts. So as you attack them they start to pile up.

Rumblebox2

The point of the game is to get out of the box and this is the clever bit, in order to do that you have to pile the “bodies” up against the walls. You can either directly punch an enemy or throw them in a particular direction. That adds a nice bit of strategy to it. Its fast paced and I found it highly enjoyable.

Given the Digg effect nuked the original site, heres some download links:

TopDesk – Windows Vista style Window Flipping!

Now this is cool, TopDesk replaces the standard Windows “ALT + TAB” with the Windows Vista style method. It certainly looks cool and seems useful, but I’ll have to work with it for a while to decide.

TopDeskFlip1 TopDeskFlip2 TopDeskFlip3

I can’t say I’m a fan however of the OS X Expose style options. After trying them out I think they’re unusable, especially on a dual monitor setup, since it jumps about all over the screen(s) to focus on different windows. I find it hard work to follow and distracting. With the Vista style method its consistent with the selection always in the one place.

Originally found it via Scott Hanselman’s site. (Images are from TopDesk site)

Diablo III? I hope not!

I mean that in a nice way. I loved the previous two games but they devoured a huge amount of time, which back when I was a free man with no worries was fine. Now however I just can’t afford to disappear into the black hole that is Diablo again.

Rumours and stuff here and here.

I’ll end up buying it anyway, so I don’t know why I’m complaining!