18 February 2006

Dune MUD

Dune MUD is a text-based multi-user dungeon (MUD) based on Frank Herbert's novel of the same name. The highly-overrated novel eventually went to spawned a series of rather lacklustre sequels which did not end at the time of Herbert's death. Two decades later, Herbert's son and a collaborator (talentless hack) went to write a series of forgettable cashcows. As it is Dune MUD is a disparate assembly of pieces from all the novels and it does not adhere to the canon. Dune MUD grew greatly due to the efforts of numerous wizards (especially Arfang and Slash in the early days) and is now a huge sprawling affair.

Colin (Game names: Blue, September, Patience) discovered Dune in 1994 and started playing. Colin was also an early customer of Servint's newgroup services apparently and he had communicated with Reed Caldwell (Game name: Genesis) or someone at SerVint Corporation then. Wilson (Game name: Blackice) and Alex (Game name: Silver) joined him in the game then. I joined shortly after.

I played intensively in 1995-1996 and hit level 49, the maximum possible level, then I died twice foolishly. The death penalty for dying in this text-based multi-user dungeon (MUD) was harsh then. You lose 50% of your exp. That essentially reduced me to around level 22. Colin told me that the maximum possible level before that was level 20!

In the those early days, I used to team up with Kain/Storm, Knight/Sith (Dekkeret, he's now based on Oman, as of February 2006) and Bornhelm. And I recall 'beeping' Nightbreeze on the nose every time I see him come online. It had become a ritual.

Meanwhile, Llama would be the regular Caladan Astroport fixture. He would be there 24/7. I recall Boss, Perseus, Tapper, Jobob/Stryder (he was the great Fremen) and Skyspy's early days. We were all competing for the same monsters.

In the middle of 1996, I visited Dublin. At the airport, Hawkeye turned up in his mountain bike. We then went into the city. I managed to meet Snail outside Trinity College and Llama at his lab. Llama and I went to a local sandwich place later.

In late 1996, I joined the working world. Stryder/Jobob revamped the Fremen guild. Suddenly, there was guild skills for Fremen. I had felt that I wasn't sufficiently compensated and that had rather discouraged me. And besides, I had just joined the workforce and I was playing many other games, so, I logged onto Dune on and off for the next decade, playing little. I recall visiting and seeing the likes of Snowman and Ravni in 2001. I returned in 2004. I played seriously for a few months before halting in favour of playing World of Warcraft in December 2004 and Guild Wars after. I made another return in 2006.

Dune holds many memories for me. It has indeed been a long time.

To play Dune MUD, type telnet://dune.servint.com port 6789 in the command prompt.

The website is at: http://dune.servint.com

"Socrates used to call the opinions of the many by the name of Lamiae, bugbears to frighten children."

'The Meditations' Marcus Aurelius, 167 A.D.
Denel G5 Mk III Artillery

In 2000, Malaysia bought 22 G5 Mk III (155mm) artillery pieces from South Africa for over 200 million ringgit (52.63 million US dollars). This would work out to be over 2 million US dollars a piece with its accompanying spares, support and logistics vehicles, target acquisition systems.

Like the ASTROS-II, the Iraqis deployed the one hundred G5 artillery against the Coalition in 1991. These G5 artillery pieces also saw action with the South African forces in the eighties.

The G5 Mark III is a 45-calibre artillery piece that is capable of outranging almost any existing artillery at a range of 39 km and 53 km with base-bleed or rocket-assisted rounds.

Type: 155-mm
Barrel Length: (cal) 45
Rate of fire: 3 rds/min for 15 min, 2 rds/min for 60 min
Loader Type: Semi-automatic
Elevation: -3°/+75°
Main Ammunition: 155-mm Frag-HE, M1 HE
Indirect Fire Range (m) Minimum Range: 3000
Maximum Range: 30,000
Complete Projectile Weight (kg): 8.7
Muzzle Velocity: 897 m/s

Sources for this entry includes the G5 entry at FAS, G5 entry at Wikipedia, G5 entry at Strategy Page and several books.

17 February 2006

Battlefield 2 Patch 1.2 Initial Impressions

After playing a couple of maps, my initial impressions are as follows:

1. Airpower, especially in the form of fighter-bombers, is still dominant. The 'increase' in the ability of the surface-to-air missiles (SAM) to lock on is insignificant.

2. The so-called increase in accuracy of support weapons is barely noticable. There will hardly be an impact on play though there are slight more MG-36-wielders around.

3. I haven't enocountered any 'Noob-tubers' this time round yet. I can't say anything on that.

4. I have done some single shot kills with the M95 sniper rifle. Does it do one-shot kills to an undamaged opponent? I don't know. I can't speak with certainty. I have been hit by a L96A1 once. I feel that sniper rifles shouldn't do one-shot kills.

5. I haven't tried 'bunny hopping' and I have not spotted any. In my encounters last night, I didn't see any.

I think the patch is a successful one if it reduces 'bunny hopping' and 'noob-tubing'. However, I think the power (damage and accuracy) of anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) and SAMs need to be increased. Another means would be to reduce the amount of bombs carried or the time taken to reload on each aircraft.
"The best way of avenging thyself is not to become like the wrong doer."

'The Meditations' Marcus Aurelius, 167 A.D.

16 February 2006

Malaysian AMMRAM AIM-120 missiles?

From an official website:

"Raytheon Co. Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., was awarded on 28 December 2005, a $50,739,270 firm fixed price contract modification to provide for 102 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile Air Vehicles under the foreign military sales program for the following countries: Czech Republic, Hungary, Jordan, Malaysia, and Canada. Total funds have been obligated. This work will be complete in July 2008. Headquarters Medium Range Missile Systems Group, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity (FA8675-05-C-0070/P00016"

"All existing things soon change, and they will either be reduced to vapour, if indeed all substance is one, or they will be dispersed."

'The Meditations' Marcus Aurelius, 167 A.D.
PT-91 Twardy MBT

During the Mahathir regime, Malaysia spent 275 million US dollars purchasing forty-eight PT-91 'Twardy' main battle tanks (MBT) from Poland. Fourteen support vehicles for these tanks were also purchased.

That would work out to be over 5 million US dollars per tank.

According to this report, the 48 MBTs were delivered by 2004:

"48 PT-91 tanks and 14 support vehicles, part of a package to be purchased from Poland, would be delivered by 2004, Najib told reporters after meeting visiting Polish Defence Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski at his office here.

The PT-91 tanks would be the best and most sophisticated in its class in Southeast Asia, he added. "

It is also noted in a source that Malaysia acquired a PT-91 variant of which little is known beyond that it is a modernised PT-91.

Combat Weight: 45.5 tonnes
Maximum Road Speed 60 km/h
Maximum Cross - Country Speed 45 km/h
Ground Pressure 0.94 kg/cm2
Power to Weight ratio 18.76 hp/tonne
Engine: Model S12-U, diesel
Gross Horsepower: 850 hp
Main Gun: 125 mm, Model 2A46, Smooth-bore
Ammunition: 42 Rounds, APFSDS, HEAT, HE, WP
Loading: Automatic
Fire Rate up to 8 rounds/min (if the autoloader works)

PT-91 main battle tanks are a Polish development of the Russian T-72M1 which are commonly found in the arsenals of former Warsaw Pact countries. Many of these nations have now built their variants of the T-72 including the Ukraine, Croatia, Serbia (Yugoslavia), Slovenia and more.

It would be interesting to know how the PT-91 fit in the doctrine and organisation of the Malaysian army which has previously operated 90mm gun-armed Scorpion light tanks of British origin (and is still operating them.)

In South-East Asia, Vietnam fields some older T-55s of the Vietnam War vintage. Most other countries field light tanks, older tanks of the early Cold War vintage, nothing comparable to the PT-91 MBTs.

Sources for this entry include the PT-91 entry in FAS, PT-91 entry in Wikipedia and of course, certain books.

14 February 2006

Dataseed and New Religion

I just received Cut.Rate.Box's 'Dataseed' and 'New Religion' album from Amazon. The former seems promising.

Cut.Rate.Box is an electro-industrial band that is based in New Orleans and has previously opened for Beborn Beton, Covenant, VNV Nation and more.

Dataseed (2002)

Radical (saint blaze)
Zionsank v1
Enigma (with Victoria Lloyd of Claire Voyant)
Leave this world
Zionsank - assemblage 23 remix
Brittle - stromkern remix
Enigma - tony estrada remix

New Religion (2000)

New religion
Heart break
Cinema v2 (with S.Ackermann of Das Ich)
Behind the wheel (with K.Harland of Information Society)
Spiel der gebrochenen herzen
Nothing (with Daniel Myer of Haujobb)
Behind the wheel (f.a.preve mix)

Behind the Wheel is, of course, an electro-industrial cover of the Depeche Mode classic. There are so many good American industrial bands these days. Flesh Field, Lost Signal, Assemblage 23, The Azoic, Imperative Reaction, etc.