26 August 2006

Tiger II SdKfz 182



The Tiger II, also known as the King Tiger and Royal Tiger retained a mystique despite the small numbers that saw service. It was celebrated as the most powerful tank of the Second World War despite the presnece at the end of the war of the Josef Stalin JS-3, the M26 Pershing, and the A41 Centurion.



The example here has a Henschel turret without the shot trap of the Porsche turret. The Tiger II is armed with a KwK 43 88mm gun of 71 calibre lengths (L/71), giving the AP (APCBC or AR/CR) round of the weapon of 1,018 metres/second as compared to the L/56 gun of the Tiger I at 809 metres/second. This translated to a penetration of 250mm of homogeneous armour plate at 100 metres and 160mm at 1,500 metres.



Tank Museum, Bovington: July 2006 Posted by Picasa
Ka-Ching! Ka-Ching!

Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson have finished the Dune saga where Frank Herbert left off when he mercifully died. Ka-Ching! They are finishing the original Dune saga with two books, 'Hunters of Dune' and 'Sandworms of Dune'. Ka-Ching! In the approximate words of my friend, Kelvin, 'Two books eh? Greedy bastards'. Ka-Ching! However, I know many fanatics who cannot resist this new instalment, well, what can one really say? Ka-Ching! A surperb merchandising ploy. Ka-Ching! It's really too bad. Ka-Ching! People lap up these things. Ka-Ching!

For one, I know that Kuoby (Silver/AK) will buy it as soon it is released in softcover. Ka-Ching! He will be devouring this. Ka-Ching! Ho ho ho! Ka-Ching!

25 August 2006

World of Warcraft: The Dell of MMORPGs

I was thinking of analogies this morning and it occurred to me that:

World of Warcraft is the Dell of MMORPGs. It is the Everyman RPG, it is the 800-pound gorilla on the block, it is tough and more or less dependable (though there is the occasional hiccups, like Dell machines).

Like Dell, the current biggest PC manufacturer in the world, World of Warcraft is the gold-standard for MMORPGs and will be for quite some time to come. Ten years? Easily. When other MMORPGs have faded or fallen by the wayside, World of Warcraft will still be here like Ultima Online. It is not surprising, after all, Starcraft and Warcraft II are perpetual sellers.

I played and enjoyed the game for a four to five month period more than two years ago, raising an undead warlock to level 60. I had some of the tier one epic items and an epic mount then. However, raiding with forty other level 60 folks in a two to six hour time frame just isn't my cup of tea. It was way too tedious. Thus, I terminated my association with this delightful game.

Besides, it was time to move on to other games. Variety, variety variety.

I have also decided against making a return when the expansion is released.

Image source: Official Website.
Pet Shop Boys 'Minimal'

1. Radio Edit
2. Tocadisco's Sunday At Space Mix
3. M-Factor Mix

'Minimal' is the second single from the best Pet Shop Boys album since 'Behaviour'. After the rather boring, forgettable and Beatles-resque 'Release', this single is an illustration of what the Pet Shop Boys are capable of. Forget doing those Beatles-resque ditties, the Beatles suck, it's dinosaur rock for dinosaurs, leave it. 'Minimal' was originally slated to be the first lead single. I need not continue on the brilliance of this piece of synthpop, you know that. Now, on the remixes, the first one, the Tocadisco's Sunday at Space Mix is a dancefloor filler. The structure has been somewhat ripped and a constant beat substituted, interspersed with vocals.

The second one, the M-Factor Mix, is a carefully-crafted dance track with a pounding bassline that has attempted to accommodate the vocals but fails due to a variety of reasons, of which, the total ignorance of the pace and tempo is a major one. Imagine that old horrid Shep Pettibone remix of Depeche Mode's 'Behind the Wheel'. You get the idea. The remix is in two parts. For the latter half, the pace picks up but there is little relation to the original single. Dancefloor filler, yeah, floorkiller? Maybe. Probably not.

I can't say I care very much for the remixes on this single. It is pass-able. It can be better.

24 August 2006

Snooze

She has grown quite a bit since the last time I posted photos.


Looking mean and lazy.


Snoozing away.


Comfortably... Posted by Picasa
Singapore Open Gaming VII

The next session! Do join us!

Date: 9 September 2006
Time: 1pm - 6pm
Venue: Blk 3 Queen's Rd #01-139
(Resident's Commitee Hall, just off Farrer Rd and located one level below Westlake Restaurant)Cost: $3


In Ken's own words:

"Singapore Open Gaming, or SOG, is a group that meets on a monthly basis to play all sorts of boardgames including eurogames and wargames. We've got a good number of people on our mailing lists and we've averaged around 15-18 people in our last meetings. But we are always looking for more people to join us. We've all had a great time at our previous sessions, and we'd love for you to be a part of it.

We are located at the Resident's Commitee Hall at Farrer Gardens, Blk 3 Queen's Rd #01-139. It's a really pleasant location with plenty of space, tables, chairs and it's fully air-conditioned with an attached bathroom.There's a slight cost for each person, which is to cover for the rental of the hall. Costs average around $3 per person, but hopefully with more people turning up, we'll be able to drop the cost.So if you're looking for a great time playing some new games, some old games and meeting new opponents, do feel very welcome to join us at our next gaming session."

Landsknecht

Mixed media. Derwent, Karisma watercolour pencils, Van Gogh watercolours and pencils. Small piece. Scanned with the less than ideal driver for my scanner hence the small image.

The piece could have more detail but it was too small. Anyway, I spent two hours on it. Could be better I guess. Posted by Picasa

23 August 2006

The Metrosexual Crusader in the Kingdom of Heaven

'Kingdom of Heaven', Ridley Scott's 2005 politically correct medieval vehicle with heart throb Orlando Bloom, lacks the grandeur and the epic feel of his previous success, 'Gladiator', and is burdened by a cliched plot which attempted to adhere to historical circumstances with simplifications. (It's a film after all!). With the lightweight Bloom spotting a constantly pained expression as the lead and his inability to carry the lead role, Bloom made for an invisible and forgettable protagonist. His lack of charisma and scene presence were painfully obvious and that was not assisted by his rather weak acting, think rasping in a soft man-hunk whisper throughout and posturing like a beef-cake pinup. He's the New Age man in the wrong era, a metrosexual crusader.

Of course, in the film, the crusaders were evil, not that some of them weren't self-interested powermongers in reality. In reality, Saladin, despite his celebrated chivalry in medieval and later romances, was no saint either, being guilty of perpetuating massacres, conducting betrayals, breaking of treaties. Similarly, Reynald raided caravens for profit, breaking treaties. For that period and circumstance, raids and skirmishes were the norm of the day, with battles being more of a rarity, though as Raymond of Tripoli had pointed out in the film (and in reality), the Saracens outnumbered the crusaders by vast numbers and Saladin was the leader of an empire and it would be unwise to wage war against him. In terms of the levels of power, the Kingdom of Jerusalem was merely a collection of coastal fiefdoms, Saladin had an empire in arms. Saladin had previously conducted raids and attempted invasions but those were either defeated or thwarted due to a variety of factors, with little to do with nonexistent crusader strategy.

Raiding was common throughout the region and also in Europe.

However, this being Hollywood, and political correctness is the current norm, the Saracens, read Muslims, are the noble enemy. Treachery? Yes, only the evil crusaders and Templars were capable of that.* And it was all up to the metrosexual crusader to try to save the day. Beard, beefcake appeal and immaculate hair. And there was Hattin. End of story. But that made the backdrop for a nonexistent siege of Jerusalem.

The upside? Some historical accuracy which I thought was great. For instance, the injuries from medieval combat according to some sources can be fixed. In fact, surgeons of that period were quite adapt at patching people up. However, what was not understood was infection. Thus, when the baron survived grievous wounds but ultimately succumbed to infection, one could tell that someone had done his or her homework.

Regarding that nonexistent siege of Jerusalem where the inhabitants 'fought for freedom' in Balian's words, the Saracens might have used some form of Greek fire but the trebuchets were shooting napalm and high explosives. Doh. Were the trebuchets in use at this point? I thought it was a late medieval weapon.

The fights with the war swords** were fascinating. Pommel to the face. Realistic. Crossbows were common in that period and that was depicted in the movie. The Saracens were known to be to be deadly afraid of them, whereas, the short bows utilised by the Saracens lacked penetrating power and there were accounts of men at arms in battle with several shafts stuck to their chainmail and cloth padding.

Balian of Ibelin was at Hattin and he was paroled by Saladin and released to see his wife. Instead, he took up arms and went to defend Jerusalem. Balian finally surrendered on terms. There was no siege at Jersualem. The inhabitants were ransomed, at ten pieces of gold for each person. And the poor who could not pay were sold in the slave markets. Saladin's brother took a thousand slaves for himself.

I think for most people, the problem with this Ridley Scott movie, was the rather prodding and uninspired narrative. No one I knew liked it. I had no problem with the pace but the script was pedestrian, the lines were cliches, the characterisation were that of standard stereotypes. Where have I seen those characters previously?

Somehow, an X-factor was missing too. 'Kingdom of Heaven' had more historical foundation than 'Gladiator' but yet...

On a related topic, Saladin was a Kurd. Saddam Hussein who protrayed himself as Saladin and built statues of himself as Saladin, killed thousands of Kurds. A recent Kurdish allegation was that he and his Baath party functionaries murdered over 100, 000 Kurds.

*The Crusaders did stupidly spark off the conflict after Raymond's truce. Saladin's buildup was not unknown and it would be a matter of time before he took the coastal states. Saladin's dream was to cleanse Europe of all infidels. He was no lamb or noble enemy. He was a religious fanatic, not unlike some of the crusaders.

** War swords. Hand and a half. Bastard sword.

22 August 2006

More on the Hizbollah UAVs

Images of several Hizbollah UAV shot down has been available on a blog some time ago.

"Endorsing the Hezbollah UAV capability, Hezbollah secretary general Hassan Nasrallah claimed in a speach in April 2005 that these unmanned vehicles can be packed with 40-50 kg of explosives to attack priority targets deep inside Israel."

Addendum

The UAV was apparently shot down with a Python 5 AAM. That's a heatseeker with a seeker that is so sensitive that it could apparently detect a UAV.

Source: http://www.defense-update.com/weblog.html
Farming Bosses in Titan Quest

Colin is playing an Oracle. One of those extremely powerful character types. I know of two others who play them too.

Colin's commentary on Talos:

not too hard solo. the first time i saw him, i lasted about 1.2 seconds. 2nd time was a bit longer. killed him on 3rd go. the trick is to kite him (when solo). keep running until he starts his special moves (some kind of slam with both front paws, launching of tail spikes and breath weapon). during this time he's stuck in animation for a couple of seconds. pound him and start running again. repeat until dead, collect majestic chest. i suppose it'll help if you have +running gear.i think he doesn't spawn in normal mode. he's in that windswept cave in egypt. the cave is a short walk from the fayum wp/town. it is a large-ish cave tho.might be farmable i guess, it being near a wp.the other place i think might be farmable is the giza wp. it's near the lost brother's guardian, the pyramids and the sphinx.

I re-specc-ed my mastery and my illusionist can now dish out 1700+ damage. However, my illusionist does not last long in melee. Whereas Colin's oracle is a LOT more powerful relatively.

oh, my highest damage (on the secondary tab) is 806. i guess that's 1 ice shard.

He sends out three ice-shards in a second. And another three and another three.... Swarms of monsters and bosses last only seconds against his oracle. 806 per shard!?! Damn.

I'm going back to my old-build. Anyway, I have started on Sacred, Sacred Plus and Sacred Underworld.
Silver rocks the MUD!

Silver (AK) fought Amoukl! And Amoukl is level 200! Woo hoo. It's a draw! Silver has got silver-plated balls after all!


AK says:
i was fighting amoukl in the icts.

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
You were?

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
REALLY?

AK says:
he couldn't damage me much, i couldn't either

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
Ahhh...

AK says:
then i got 2 other imgers on

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
You enjyed yourself?

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
PVP!

AK says:
we fought him, down to 39%, he exited the icts.

AK says:
came back in.

AK says:
but i had to work.

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
ahhh

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
A couple against one?

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
Radioshack helped you?

AK says:
3 vs one

AK says:
no

AK says:
radioshack probably got offed in that gp open area

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
ahhhh...

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
Hahahahahahah

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
I know, he got killed.

AK says:
the harkos put the heads of their victims in the guild entrance

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
That's funny!

AK says:
yea

AK says:
i'll try to off amoukl next

AK says:
i'm completely unprepared

AK says:
i gotta get the right weapons

AK says:
also the anti guild stuff seems to be missing

AK says:
can't find them.

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
m yeah

AK says:
i suspect my AM level is so high, few can dent my tin hide.

AK says:
one vs one, i.e.

AK says:
well, i had some serious lag today. lucky i didn't die.

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
How did Cipher one-round you?

AK says:
i don't know either. but that was pre-upgrade, which was recent.

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
Okay, I will have to admit. You rock.

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
For once.

AK says:
eh, i don't

AK says:
i can't kill amoukl

AK says:
but he *is* 50 levels above me.

AK says:
and the guilds are still unbalanced.

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
I think some characters are built for pvp.

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
Only one aim. Thus.

AK says:
you mean some guilds are built for pvp?

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
His guild level is probably insane.

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
Yeah

AK says:
prob

AK says:
i'm the biggest imger, i still can't off him.

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
Ixians are not built for PvP.

AK says:
no, we're all rounders i think

AK says:
well doesn't matter

21 August 2006

Run!

I went for a brisk 2.4 km run today. On the way there, I bumped into an old aquaintance. He has made some rather incredible claims previously regarding his real profession which I will not be relating. I wonder sometimes.
In Celebration of Silver (Kuoby)'s Achievements

Yes, Silver (or Kuoby or AK) is usually quite a coward. Fleeing to Australia and all. However, Silver has finally killed poor Tuukka in PK in DuneMUD. He was so proud of himself that he immediately announced himself on MSN.

AK says:
Silver pked someone

AK says:
type pkills

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
You killed an idle player?

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
That's sad.

AK says:
no. tuukka was in the ICTS. which is open pk. he's the first one i've managed to catch.

AK says:
i managed to attack solinea once, but he managed to exit the ICTS before it was too late.

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
You got a PKRANK of 1.


Hence, in celebration of his lameness...

Displaying last 20 player vs. player deaths.

[ Aug 16th ]
[FR] Eggowaffle (50) slaughtered [HK] Gipsy (42) at 08:08am.
[TL] Power (30) slaughtered [SK] Lula (25) at 1:28pm.
[SK] Lula (25) slaughtered [AT] Kalidor (25) at 6:51pm.

[ Aug 17th ]
[HK] Margelatu (36) slaughtered [--] Heather (21) at 02:04am.
[TL] Ruts (25) slaughtered [SK] Lula (25) at 12:58am.
[SK] Lula (25) slaughtered [TL] Ruts (25) at 1:26pm.
[WR] Gringo (59) slaughtered [FR] Eggowaffle (50) at 4:47pm.
[HK] Tuukka (56) slaughtered [WR] Gringo (59) at 4:55pm.
[HK] Tuukka (56) slaughtered [SK] Soze (42) at 5:04pm.
[SK] Castro (66) slaughtered [WR] Vietnam (58) at 5:10pm.
[IX] Mob (57) slaughtered [HK] Tuukka (56) at 5:11pm.
[IX] Mob (57) slaughtered [WR] Vietnam (57) at 5:16pm.
[SK] Castro (66) slaughtered [BG] Boltsns (60) at 5:16pm.
[SK] Castro (66) slaughtered [BG] Boltsns (59) at 5:21pm.

[ Aug 18th ]
[HK] Margelatu (37) slaughtered [IX] Nox (36) at 02:00am.
[TL] Amoukl (200) slaughtered [AT] Botzy (188) at 08:39am.
[WR] Psy (198) slaughtered [FS] Mystique (161) at 2:45pm.
[TL] Amoukl (200) slaughtered [WR] Psy (198) at 2:54pm.
[TL] Amoukl (200) slaughtered [FS] Mystique (161) at 3:32pm.

[ Aug 19th ]
[IX] Silver (149) slaughtered [HK] Tuukka (56) at 11:05am.


Displaying the Player Killing Statistics for Silver.

Displaying last 1 player kills.
Level 56 Tuukka defeated at Sat Aug 19 11:05:21 2006

That player has not been defeated in battle.
Total PK Rank: 1

Woo hoo! His silver-plated lameness has managed it! Three cheers for Ixian Buttplugs!


Ooooh, the bragging!


AK says:
it was a lopsided battle, yes.
Martyr yourself for the best of Depeche Mode

Oh wow. Yet another singles collection. And one new track, the new single 'Martyr'. Yes, fans, make yourself a martyr for Depeche Mode and let the band enjoy the sales... just can't get enough.

The tracklisting announced on the website for the forthcoming 'Best of Depeche Mode Volume 1'

Personal Jesus ('Violator', 1990)
Just Can't Get Enough ('Speak And Spell', 1981)
Everything Counts ('Construction Time Again, 1983)
Enjoy The Silence ('Violator', 1990)
Shake The Disease ('The Singles 81-85', 1985)
See You ('A Broken Frame', 1982)
It's No Good ('Ultra', 1997)
Strangelove ('Music For The Masses', 1987)
Suffer Well ('Playing The Angel', 2005)Dream On ('Exciter', 2001)
People Are People ('Some Great Reward', 1984)
Martyr (Best Of)
Walking In My Shoes ('Songs of Faith and Devotion', 1993)
I Feel You ('Songs Of Faith And Devotion', 1993)
Precious ('Playing The Angel', 2005)
Master And Servant ('Some Great Reward', 1984)
New Life ('Speak And Spell', 1981)
Never Let Me Down Again ('Music For The Masses', 1987)

Hey, don't rush!

Everything counts in large amounts.
Playing Games



This is a game store, Playing Games, located at Museum Street, just off the British Museum at Great Russell Street. It carries a wide range of wargames, German games, card games and role-playing games. It has, no means, the greatest range of games, but it has a good range, certainly a lot greater than any two-bit game store in Singapore. The game stores at Singapore are really sorry affairs, I guess we simply don't have enough gamers to sustain variety. How many more sad, overweight D&D players do we need?

For wargames, one can find offerings from GMT, OSG, DG, AP, MMP and more.

Anyway, if you were to have to plans to visit London to purchase games, well, the games are certainly pricey. You would be advised to think twice.



London, July 2006 Posted by Picasa

20 August 2006

Sketches

I hope to be doing more sketches soon. And I will put them up. Bear with me. Heheh.
John Foxx - Cathedral Oceans II

Drat! The Cathedral Oceans II CD I bought in London has a manufacturing defect.
Games, devices and what not!

I was at Sim Lim Square earlier and I visited Tec-Drome. I found Wilson there, immobile, unmoving, like a statue, he mumbled the answers to the Meaning of Life. Noooo! 'Sacred Gold' is sold out. I shall have to wait.

Colin finished Titan Quest taking 1.2 days of playtime. I took about 1.8 or 1.9 days (47-48 hours) total playtime. Colin's a monster. He finished the final 'boss' monster with a few salvoes of his ice shards without even a blink.

Meanwhile, Wei Yi's Sony PSP toy is fucked. He just sent it to the service centre. I wonder what happened. I would be interested to know the diagnosis. What could go wrong with that?
Two Dinners and a Coffee

I had dinner with Kelvin at Ricotti's, an Italian restaurant of sorts, at Riverwalk Galleria on Friday night. I had pasta, namely fettucine bolognese, which was decent but undistinguished. Kelvin had pizza. We tried the Olive Oil-flavoured gelato later. Whee! What an intriguing piece!

Last night, I met Colin for dinner at Whitebait and Kale, a Sydney-style restaurant as described in IS magazine. This was housed in the Camden Medical Centre at Orchard Bourlevard. The grilled tenderloin is delicious. I would recommend it. Wei Yi joined us for the dessert after.

With regard to coffee chains, in my opinion, Spinelli's offers by far the best blended coffee around. Starbucks and Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf's sad concoctions pale in comparison. The mid-level chains like the TCC incarnations aren't very special either. However, Spinelli's is not infallible. The new promotional Choc Mint Spin is pretty horrid, it's far too sweet in an annoying way. I have a sweet tooth and I can finish tubs of ice-cream at one sitting but this particular drink is simply annoying.
Saudi Arabia purchases 72 Eurofighter Typhoons



A BBC report has reported the first export customer for the multi-nation European fighter, the Typhoon. Saudi Arabia is purchasing 72 Eurofighter Typhoons.

Images linked from the official Eurofighter website.

The British Library


This was initially somewhat of a controversial building due to the design. Not particularly distinguished and somewhat anonymous.




London, July 2006. Posted by Picasa