Tag Archives: rant

A Nightside Rant

I recently read and reviewed Just Another Judgement Day and The Good, the Bad, and the Uncanny by Simon R Green.  The reviews will be up on BookThing soon.  I avoided any spoilers if at all possible in those reviews, but it should be obvious I was less than impressed.  In this post, I’ll rant about why, and there will be spoilers.  I don’t think it’s necessarily fair to moan about an author’s work, since they’ve put a lot of effort into it and I’ve basically done fuck all with my life.  That’s why I’ve tried to keep the reviews slightly more objective.  However, this is my blog, and I just need to vent about some stuff.

You have been warned – Nightside spoilers incoming!

Continue reading A Nightside Rant

Hashtag Rant

This is a hash -> #

This is a hashtag -> #hashtag

This is not a hashtag -> # <- it’s just a hash.

I’m sick of people on TV and/or radio saying, “Send us a tweet using @someone hashtag funnysaying”.  No.  It’s either, “Send us a tweet using @someone hash funnysaying” or “Send us a tweet to @someone with the hashtag funnysaying”.

Get it?

Hash -> #

Hashtag -> #plussomewords

An Open Letter to Game Developers – Content, not Hair Styles

Ground rules for this rant about computer (roleplaying) games,

  1. I know some players absolutely love being able to customise how their character looks to the nth degree
  2. I know that with the ability to customise appearance, and to change appearance based on the gear you’re wearing in the game, is rumoured to capture a larger audience
  3. I know that funding for Feature X does not necessarily impact on funding for Feature Y (so less of X does not mean more of Y, or more of Y does not mean X suffers).

Given those basic ground rules, here we go.

Dear games developers, mostly roleplaying games developers

To a reasonably large extent, I don’t care how my character looks, but I do care if all the locations are just the same rehashed map over and over again (I’m looking at you Dragon Age 2).

Mostly, I don’t really mind if I only have say, 2 hair styles and 1 nose to pick from at character creation.  But I do care if all the quests are similar and there’s no epic storyline to follow other than ‘buy your way out of debt’ (hey, DA2, looking at you again!)

Yes, I absolutely want to be able to invest in my character, because being invested makes the gaming experience that much better, and part of that is being able to change how my character looks.  But let’s be honest, I’m not going to make him look like me (fat, fourty, hairy) so a small sample of heroic male and heroic female appearances will do.  Also, armour is armour, I don’t mind if you use the same shape and just change the colour, really.

Instead of spending time and money developing the game engine so it can handle all that customisation and doing all the hard work necessary to pull it off – why not invest that time and energy into content.

Quests, dialog, locations.  That’s what I want from a game.

Not to decide if my character has a hook nose, or a ever so slightly smaller hook nose.


1080p, HDTV and HD Ready makes me sad

In the old days, when I was a boy, it was usually the case that if you bought a monitor that was larger than your current one (diagonally larger screen), it supported more pixels as well.  These days, it’s sad to see monitor vendors sticking to the flawed idea that somehow, 1080 pixels is the new one size fits all.

If you buy a bigger monitor, you don’t get more pixels, you just get bigger pixels.

This is because monitor vendors have bought into the HDTV size of 1900 x 1080.  Why would anyone want to use anything different?  I think it’s actually because monitor vendors realised they were being dumb.  I mean, people spent thousands of pounds buying larger and larger televisions in the old days, and they never got any increase in resolution?  If people would pay top dollar for huge TV’s at the same resolution as 14″ portables, why the hell couldn’t they bring that business model to the LCD monitor market.

So they did.

There’s a good rant on this over here.

When I bought the LCD’s we use at the moment, I got 5:4 ratio LCD monitors.  People probably laughed.  They’re 19″ displays.  That means (sorry to switch units), that the actual screen is ~30.5cm high and ~37.5cm wide.  That gives about a ~48cm display (diagonal).  We were thinking of getting some new monitors, but I knew it wouldn’t be that easy so I made sure I had the measurements.  These monitors run at 1280 x 1024.  A 19″ widescreen (16:9) might give 1900 x 1080, but it’s vertically much smaller than the monitors we have.  That’s okay, 21″ widescreen?  Still shorter.  22″?  Still shorter.  23″?  Still shorter.  I’d have to buy a 24″ monitor, running at just 56 more pixels high, to give me roughly the same physical height as my existing monitor.  And the screen would be ~20 inches wide (or ~50cm).

To get 56 more pixels (vertically).

And that’s it – you have to be specifically looking to find anything higher than 1080 vertical resolution and you pay for it.  And there’s no good reason for it.  If I want to watch movies, I do that on my television.  So we didn’t buy any new monitors.

I want a choice of monitors, with a choice of native resolutions, in a choice of ratios.

Opal Fail

I was a loyal and happy Nildram ADSL customer for a good few years.  They’re not the cheapest, but they were very reliable, and they didn’t bug me.

When they were bought by Pipex, not much changed.  I remained loyal, they left me alone.

When they were bought by Tiscali, not much changed.  I remained loyal, they left me alone.

They’ve finally been bought by Opal.

So far, Opal have called my home once trying to get me to change my package to take on their phone as well as ADSL (although their terminology was intentionally deceptive), and they’ve sent me 3 promotional e-mails in the space of two weeks to the same end.

That’s not much maybe, certainly not in the deluge of spam I already get.

But you know what?  It’s really fucking annoying when I’m already a customer of theirs.  I do not want to change my package to their phone line, if I did, I would.  I’m like that.  Do they provide an easy way to contact customer services?  Not that I can find, although I did mail the one address I could find after the first e-mail.  No way on the subsequent e-mails to say ‘don’t send me this crap’1.

It’s lesson 101 in how not to retain customers.

BE is looking very promising.

  1. there is a link, but apparently no way to say, mail me important service stuff, but not this advertising shit []

CSI: Miami

We love CSI: Vegas (or just CSI), and we watch CSI: New York and CSI: Miami.  I’ve always felt Miami was the weakest but it’s grown progressively weaker and weaker as time has gone on.

It jumped the shark a while back – but we still watch it.

Here’s a list of reasons why it annoys me,

  1. too many plot lines directly involve the team members being stupid, screwing up or falling to temptation.
  2. too many plot lines directly related to team members being the target of crime or involved in crime.
  3. too many plot lines directly related to Cain and his bloody family.
  4. too many pointless crimes with the weakest of possible motives.  Yes, I killed those nine people because that morning they laughed at my singing.
  5. crimes getting more and more complex and clearly prone to going wrong (tonight’s story had a gun mounted under a car firing a bullet at a homing beacon on a chair in a crowded wedding which somehow managed to miss and kill the bride, no really?)
  6. totally dumb approach to actually interrogating your suspects, that always goes like this “you had a motive, so basically things got out of hand and you killed blah using foo and bar”, to which the suspect says “no, I was over there doing this” and the CSI’s have to say “well, maybe so, don’t go far”. Every.  Fricking.  Time.
  7. that. fucking. computer.  You know the one, the touch panel one.  Grrr.

Double Dose of Ranting

EverQuest released a new expansion.  Frankly I’m not really bothered and may not buy it.  However, Grete is kinda interested so I said I’d get it for her account.  This is the first time we’ve not pre-ordered, and enthusiasm is low (Grete’s pretty down at the moment, so her general EQ mojo is low anyway, hopefully she won’t beat me when she reads this), but I said it would be fine to get it for her account.

So I log on to the Sony website, go to the account management page and try and buy the expansion.  I get a dialog which asks me to fill in our post code, select a secret security question and a secret answer.  Never seen the page before, no prompts telling me why it’s showed up.  The drop down list of secret questions is empty (other than the default entry of ‘please select a secret question’).  So I try ignoring it, but it wants me to select something, I try answering a random question but it still wants me to pick a question.

I can’t pick a damn question.

I search, in vain, for some way to update it via the profile, but it’s not there.  So I go to the Sony help site which if anyone’s tried to use it, knows how terrible it is.  I finally opt for Live Chat, and get a form to fill out with 6 questions and a box to describe the problem which I fill with a couple of paragraphs of text, and then click ‘go live chat’, at which point I get a popup telling me live chat is disabled due to maintenance.  Why the hell did it let me fill the form in then, stop me before I put in the effort.

So I finally go to the e-mail help and rant about the problem and the stupid site.  Maybe they’ll fix it, maybe they won’t, but since we were already just on the edge of maybe buying it and maybe not, if they don’t fix it without a lot of hassle they just lost another sale.  This is typical, in my experience, of Sony.  They make everything as hard as they can, so you have to fight to spend your money with them and they still make you feel like it was your fault.


Second rant.  I e-mailed a shop that sells miniatures and said specifically and clearly ‘are you able to order this particular miniature for us’.  The reply was waffly and didn’t answer the question, but commented on some vague notion of them not getting that mini in the last delivery and ‘maybe being able to sort it out’.  The mini in question can be purchased direct from the supplier in the US, and we said that to the folk in the shop when we were in there at the weekend (before this e-mail), but they said the supplier’s customer service was bad and it can take ages to arrive.  So, I replied to this vague e-mail saying ‘on Saturday you said it would be quicker to order through you’, and the reply to that was ‘it will be if it arrives before the end of the year’.  WTF does that mean?  Why can’t they just answer a basic and simple question.

Q: Can you order this mini for us?

A: Yes, it will take 2-8 weeks or
A: No, we don’t do specific orders, if it arrives as general stock we can let you know or
A: No, but I’m sending a full order in for re-stocking and it’s listed, should be here in 3 weeks

or anything else, other than totally vague randomness.  This is a niche hobby with low turnover and a small market, you’d think they were keen to retain any direct customers they could get.  I was polite, clear, concise.

So I bought it over the web from the US supplier, and they shipped in 24 hours after I placed the order and sent me a nice e-mail to tell me so.  I’ll pay the $16 shipping charge on a $7 purchase to get service from someone who’s clear, concise and polite (I actually bought another two mini’s, to take it up to around $12 worth of mini’s, but that’s not the point).

In this day and age, I get very frustrated when technology gets in the way of simple purchases or when people can’t, don’t or won’t answer a straight question with a straight answer.  It’s my money, they either want it, or they don’t want it, but I’m not going to fight to give it to them.