Friday, February 27, 2009

Okami didn't last 12 months on Wii

I was one of the people who were really excited when a port of the PS2 game, Okami, was announced for Wii.  I suspect I was also one of the many people who didn't buy the game when it came out despite my excitement.

A few weeks ago I placed an order for Okami on CDWOW.  A few weeks later and CDWOW is still trying to source a copy of the game.  I've done a search on a collection of other sites and found that nobody else, at least in Australia, are selling the game.

It seems the game didn't last 12 months before they stopped producing PAL copies of it.  I find this quite concerning that a console that is so young, so extremely popular, and yet can't sustain sales of such a highly rated product.  I think this is something Nintendo needs to turn around--in the long run they'll suffer if the Wii becomes synonymous with shitty party games.

I'm truly hoping that MadWorld will be on store shelves for longer than 12 months when it's released.

Hottest 100 videos start tonight

Set up your PVR's--the videos for Triple J's Hottest 100 are playing tonight (Friday 27 Feb) and tomorrow night on Rage.

The first 50 count down tonight from 12:10 AM and the second 50 count down from 11:00 PM, Saturday night.  Rage doesn't normally have videos for all 100, so you can find out exactly what will be playing at the Rage Playlist page.

And don't miss out on Rage from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM on Saturday monring when they play a collection of videos from past Hottest 100's that ranked between #100 and #90 (I've often found the bottom 10 songs more enjoyable than the top 10 songs).

Thursday, February 26, 2009

World of Goo - get the soundtrack

If you haven't played World of Goo, you don't know what you are missing.  If you have, you'll know that the game has one of the best soundtracks.  It's truely amazing.  And now you can download it.

I spent this weekend pulling together all the audio, reconstructing some of the older songs, and “remastering” them all like they do to Snow White DVD’s. The final soundtrack is about 49 minutes long, and all free here.

This isn't the kind of music you'll put on your iPod, but it's perfect if you ever have a Tim-Burton-theme party.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

DeviantArt BBCode

Here's a phpBB3 BBCode definition to allow people to easily display DeviantArt work in their forum:

BBCode usage
HTML replacement
<div><object width="450" height="{NUMBER1}"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="flashvars" value="id={NUMBER2}" /><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="450" flashvars="id={NUMBER2}" height="{NUMBER1}"></embed></object>
<br />[ <a href="{NUMBER2}">Direct Link</a> ]</div>

Unfortunately, this is as easy as I could make it. The user still needs to hunt for the correct numbers. The first number, {NUMBER1}, specifies the object height and can be anything, but ideally it you should use height value used for the object that you can find in the embed fields on the DeviantArt art page. The second number, {NUMBER2}, needs to be the number of the art piece. You can get this from the URL. For example, with the URL the number will be 100706280. So the entire BBCode usage will be [da=535]100706280[/da].

Let-me-google-that-for-you BBCode

Because sometimes it's fun to be a dick, I've added a Let me google that for you BBCode to my phpBB3 forum. Here's how to add it to your own phpBB3 forum:

  1. Go to Administration Control Panel > Posting > BBCode > Add a new BBCode.
  2. In the BBCode Usage field, enter
  3. In the HTML replacement field, enter
    <a href="{SIMPLETEXT}" title="Let me Google that for you">{SIMPLETEXT}</a>
  4. Click submit and you're done!

Now you can quickly and easily direct people on how to search for [google]something[/google] on Google.

If you would like to be a little less patronising, in step 3 use the following code instead:

<a href="{SIMPLETEXT}" title="Let me Google that for you">{SIMPLETEXT}</a>

Violence is healthy

Keeping violent media away from boys could be a bad idea

The media likes to run stories linking violent behavior to video games, but a new book is offering up the theory that fantasy violence is actually good for children's development.

I think people who play games know the truth about violence in video games already (i.e. they don't turn us into murders). But it's nice to have it validated every now and again. And I think most males remember playing games with make-believe violence even when video games weren't around. Cowboy shows were blammed in those days ;)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Beer count

This is my continuely growing list of beers I've tried. It's somewhat a hobby of mine to try different beers. I like to keep a record and challenge friends to get me something I've never had before. Although, to be fair, it's still not that hard to find something.

  1. XXXX Bitter
  2. XXXX Gold
  3. Carlton Mid
  4. Crown Larger
  5. Beez Neez
  6. Carlton Draft
  7. Carlton Sterling
  8. Cascade Premium Larger
  9. Foster’s Light Ice
  10. Pure Blonde
  11. Victoria Bitter
  12. Blue Tongue Premium Larger
  13. Tooheys Extra Dry
  14. Tooheys Old
  15. Corona
  16. Becks
  17. Stella Artois
  18. Bravara
  19. Carlsberg
  20. Carlsberg Elephant Beer
  21. Hahn Premium
  22. Hahn Premium Light
  23. James Squire Original Amber Ale
  24. James Squire India Pale Ale
  25. Holsten Premium Bier
  26. James Boag's Premium
  27. Boag's St George
  28. Heineken
  29. Budweiser
  30. Tuborg
  31. Coopers Heritage Premium Ale
  32. Blue Tongue Traditional Pilsener
  33. Amsterdam
  34. Bitburger
  35. Tooheys New
  36. Tooheys Extra Dry Platinum
  37. Tiger
  38. Brewtopia Blowfly
  39. Amstel
  40. James Squire Golden Ale
  41. Pilsner Urquell
  42. Birra Moretti
  43. Bootleg's Sou'West Wheat
  44. Bootleg's Wils Pils
  45. Bootleg's Tom's Brown Ale
  46. Bootleg's Settlers Pale Ale
  47. Bootleg's American Pale Ale
  48. Bootleg's Raging Bull
  49. Belle-Vue Kriek
  50. Hoegaarden White Draught
  51. Kokanee Glacier Beer
  52. Labatt Blue
  53. James Squire Pilsner
  54. Millers Genuine Draft
  55. Cascade Premium Light
  56. Tuska (Vanuatu)
  57. Deneb Munich Dark Lager
  58. Little Creature's Pale Ale
  59. Grolsch
  60. Guinness
  61. Carlton Black
  62. Kilkenny
  63. Crown Gold
  64. Redback
  65. Carlton Cold
  66. Steinlager
  67. Stone's Premium Ginger Beer
  68. Kirin Ichiban
  69. Hahn Super Dr
  70. Tooheys Pils
  71. Little Creature's Pilsner
  72. Carlton Dry
  73. Bohemian Pilsner
  74. DAB Original
  75. Erdinger Schneeweisse Winterbier
  76. Singha Lager Beer
  77. Michelob Ultra
  78. Tasman Bitter
  79. Knappstein Reserve Lager
  80. Sapparo Premium
  81. Samuel Adams Boston Lager
  82. Peroni
  83. Efes
  84. Kronenbourg 1664
  85. Miller Chill
  86. Barefoot Radler
  87. Bluebottle Beer
  88. Carlton Dry Fusion
  89. Löwenbräu

A little creativity

Catching up on blogs, I missed a gem of a video created by Troy Sobotka over at The Driblet of an Aphorism, filmed in HD with a realatively cheap Kodak Zi6 and assembled with open source software. Check it out…

I'm floored by what can be done with a little creativity and know-how.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

How to replace the phpBB3 CAPTCHA

One of the best ways to protect your phpBB forum from spam bots is to replace the phpBB CAPTCHA with your own custom CAPTCHA that the bots haven't been trained to read. So, in this post I'm going to explain how to integrate your own image generator.

I won't be explaining how to actually write an image generator--there's plenty of PHP GD tutorials out there that can help you with that.

The way the CAPTCHA works in phpBB3 is that a code for the visitor is generated and stored in the database. The code can be retrieved based on the users session. phpBB3 can be left to handle this without our intereference, all we need to do is generate an image with that code in it.

The code for phpBB3 CAPTCHA image creator is in includes/captcha/captcha_gd.php and this file included just once from includes/ucp/ucp_confirm.php. So we simply need to create a new captcha file to replace the default one. I like to create my mods in their own folder so I created a /mods/captcha.php file.

Your custom captcha code needs to have the follow format:

class captcha {
 function execute($code, $seed)
   * Put your code here to create the $img resource
   * using $code for the code to display
   header('Content-Type: image/png');
   header('Cache-control: no-cache, no-store');

 * Create any other methods you like to generate the CAPTCHA image

The key with this code is that your class must be called captcha and it must have a method called execute() which displays the image. The execute() method must take two parameter, $code and $seed. The $code variable is the string you need to display in your image. The $seed is used by the original phpBB3 captcha class to seed a lot of the random values. You can use the $seed in your own code if you like, or ignore it, but you must accept it as a parameter for the execute() method. You can then write any other methods you might like to generate the image using the PHP GD library.

After you've saved the file:

Find: (hint: should be line 67)
include($phpbb_root_path . 'includes/captcha/captcha_gd.' . $phpEx);
Replace with:
//include($phpbb_root_path . 'includes/captcha/captcha_gd.' . $phpEx);
include($phpbb_root_path . 'mods/captcha.' . $phpEx);

And then you are done.

Suggestions for improved Spam handling in phpBB

I run phpBB3 for my forum, and I really can't fault the package, except when it comes to allowing administrators to handle spam.  My forum is open to anonymous posting which means I probably get hit a little harder with spam than other phpBB3 forums.

phpBB3 currently has the following mechanics for helping to reduce spam:

  1. It has a CAPTCHA on the registration page, and on the posting page for anonymous posters to trip up bots.
  2. It allows you to create custom fields with required values on the registration page.
  3. You can not allow posts to display until a moderator approves it.

Now here's the problems with those items:

  1. It looks like from the sudden spike in spam on my forum that the CAPTCHA has been cracked.
  2. Adding a custom field on the registration page will only trick up a bot when it's registering, not when it's posting anonymously.
  3. Moderating a hundred spam messages a day is no fun.

There are a lot fancy ideas for preventing spam, but for the most part I think phpBB needs to have better controls for handling spam.  Here's my suggestions:

1. Custom CAPTCHA.

Customising your CAPTCHA is the most effective way of tripping up spam bots and when I customised my the spam on my site instantly stopped.  The ability to write a CAPTCHA will require a PHP programmer to write, and I found it extremely simple to integrate into phpBB (just one line of code).  phpBB should document this procedure.

2. Allow custom fields on both the registration page, and anonymous posting page.

Adding custom fields with required values is a great way to trip up bots that are trained for a specific set of answers.  So whilst you can add a field to the registration page, it would be nice to add it to the posting page also.

3. Search for users by web site URL

A lot of spam accounts are created and never used.  Instead they sit in the members list with the sole purpose of displaying their spam URL.  So the only way to spot a spam account is by the URL they are trying to advertise and whilst phpBB will allow you to list members by their URL, you can't search the URLs.  Being able to search for "wow", "gold" or "runescape" would bring up a lot of spam account on my forum.  Being able to search for users who have listed a web site, but never posted would also reveal a lot of spam accounts.

4. Delete multiple accounts at once

It takes three steps to delete one account and you can only delete one account at a time.  Once you've identified a list of spam accounts, it would be nice to be able to delete them all at once.

5. Create a reject word list.

phpBB has a word censor list, but if someone posts a censored word it's simply replaced and the message still posts ok.  It would nice to be able to reject posts that contain certain words, such as "viagra".  I ideally the reject word list would work on URLs also.

That's about it. Mostly, phpBB3 just needs a way to quickly find and remove spammers, but a couple more methods to spoil the spammers attempts would be nice also.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sennheiser IE 6 Review

Since I travel on the train to work every week day I thought I should invest in some good quality ear-phones for my iPod.  The standard ear-phones are acceptable, but when I felt the need to turn up the volume I could tell they weren't healthy for my ears.

I chose Sennheiser for being a reputable brand, and the IE 6 has an audio range from 10 Hz to 18,000 Hz.  At around AU$200 they were a bit of an investment, but I was relieved to find they were worth it.

The IE 6 is noticeably superior to the standard iPod ear-phones.  The sound is clearer, and much bass-ier.  Previously I would tweak the iPod's sound settings because the speakers would distort the sound.  But with the IE 6's the speakers don't cause any distortion, but you still tweak sound settings to get the best sound.

Beyond just sound better, the speakers are overall louder.  I normalise all my music with MP3Gain which effectively reduces the volume of all my music.  With the iPod ear-phones a comfortable loud volume was pretty close to the maximum iPod volume.  With the IE 6's I get that same loudness at lower iPod volumes and if I choose to go louder it doesn't feel like I'm damaging my ears with the IE 6's.

I had never used "in-ear" phones so I was concerned I would find them uncomfortable, but this wasn't a problem either.  Since they are "in-ear" they isolate a lot of outside noise--great for use on public transport, not so great for hearing approaching cars when crossing the street.

The only con with these ear-phones is that I have so much trouble spelling "Sennheiser".

Monday, February 9, 2009

Poor audio quality in Guitar Hero World Tour on Wii

I've read reviews of Guitar Hero World Tour for the Wii on a number of prominent gaming sites.  None criticised the sound quality (with the exception of the player created music) so I've been most frustrated that I've found the sound quality so bad.

I own Guitar Hero III on the Wii and (after the mono sound disc was replaced with the corrected disc) I can't fault the audio.  World Tour on the other hand, sounds weak and flat.  It's quieter, and when you turn it up, it doesn't get louder, it gets noisier.

To test, I turned World Tour up to a healthy volume, muted my reciever, swapped out Word Tour for GHIII, started a track and unmuted.  GHIII was so much louder that I was almost knocked over.  GHIII is not just louder, it's punchier and fuller.

Whilst no prominent sources have reported audio problems, many other users have confirmed the poor audio on Wii.  Some have suggested that because Wii uses DVD the tracks have to compressed more to fit them on.  This argument is flawed by the fact the the Xbox 360 also uses DVD, with more channels of sound, higher polygon count for the models, and higher resolution textures.  If World Tour on Wii sound bad because it's on DVD, then with the Xbox 360 version should sound much worse since it has to store more data.

I bought a PS3 a few weeks before buying World Tour for the Wii.  I bought the Wii version because it was one less instrument to buy and graphics didn't matter to me.  But the sound quality is that bad that I really wish I had bought the PS3 version.  The quality is that bad that I have a really hard time enjoying the game.

For reference, Guitar Hero Aerosmith also suffers from weak sound.  I don't own it, but my brother does.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Blogspot widgets as a file?

I've spent the last hour or so trying to get my head around widgets so I could add my DeviantArt favourites.  

The things that has had me stumped is that when you add a widget (or gadget) to BlogSpot, one of the options is to add your own by specifying a URL to it.  So this is what I wanted to do--create a widget file generated using PHP and add it to this site.

The things is, the process of creating a widget file isn't really documented and I couldn't create a file that the Add Gadget process would accept.  I tried XML, HTML, JavaScript and plain text.  Very frustrating.

So instead I've manually added widget code with a JavaScript include, in the Blogspot template, that is generated using PHP… yeah getting the images from DeviantArt to here goes through a lot of loops.

If anyone knows the correct way to format a widget in its own file, please leave a comment.  A simple "Hello world" example is all I need.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Art catchup

So, I have a new blog--time to test this baby out and post some art I never got around to displaying on my old blog.

In chronological order…

This created in Inkscape 0.47dev. The new handing of Live Paths effects made that fur around his face criminally easy for a vector drawing.

This coloured in ArtRage. Pretty much the only thing I've done in ArtRage since I bought it. Original lines by Fooray.

Coloured in Inkscape. The lines were a very generous trade from 2BeanSoup.

My favourite colouring to date. This is time coloured in GIMP--a very first for me. Lines by renecordova.

And lastly another colouring done in GIMP. Lines by Sythe01. There's also a black and white version.

Now, having compiled this post in Blogspot I can say it doesn't make life easier when it comes to managing layout :)

Screw it, I'm using Blogspot

As is my usual style, only a few hours ago I was going to gently ease myself into using Blogspot and examine it's feature and limitations.  But now I've gone in head first.  

I've created a new domain, and linked it to this Blogspot site.  I've added the feed to Feedburner and redirected my old feed from to the Feedburner feed--so people subscribed to my old feed should automatically receive this this post, but I recommend updating the feed URL to

At this moment, the switch to Blogspot feels like a relief.  Some weeks ago I switched my hosting PHP service from PHP4 to PHP5 which killed my ability to post new items--I've just been too disinterested to debug it.  Writing my own blogging software has been great experience, but I don't need it any more.  

I would like to have be able to merge all my content across to Blogspot, but I'll probably just repost the valuable content here and keep the other content there until eventually I tire of seeing it and delete it.

Since Blogspot isn't really a host, I'll keep for hosting stuff that just doesn't fit in Blogspot.  Now, I have to figure out how to write a gadget to display my DeviantArt favourites here.

So this is Blogspot…

Having ran my own blogging application for some time, I'm keen to give it up in favour of a system I'm not responsible for.

The thing is, will I find Blogspot to restrictive?  I'll have to check out if I can create pages not confined by the template.