Archives for: "August 2005"

Couple of new minor-sites

One based on F.E.A.R. due to popular demand, and also one for Omikron, because apparently #2 is coming out.

I'd love to do one for X3 Reunion, however I doubt I'd have anywhere near enough time to do a project of that size, let alone play the game itself.

Oblivion Portal and Xbox 360 Degrees are doing quite nicely and by the end of the year will no doubt be consuming a large amount of my time.

A preview of what is to come

Is this the shape of things to come?

Half-Life Portal

Wester, you do not own the Half-Life Portal. I did not register the domain in my name instead of yours. You weren't even around when the Half-Life Portal started up, it was Mark (Deefer6) and myself who started it.

Stop living in a fantasy land. The only websites you've managed to create from scratch are things like this, and your Digital Merlin site which I see you have just removed, and that Pet Rescue site, which had all it's tables ripped from my sites (just like you rip so much other stuff) and had your bright pink and orange colour scheme.

Xbox 360 price thoughts

Well it's £209.99 in the UK, very cheap for a next-generation console and a controller, the full pack at £279.99 isn't too bad either.

However making the hard drive non-standard was a very unwise discussion in my opinion and leaves the door open to Sony to include one as standard and gives them ammunition in the fight.

But at least in the financial conditions they're in they can't compete on price.

At £209.99 the Xbox 360 will dominate the last quarter.

CV aka Resume

There's lots of rumours going around about me growing fat on the huge eight-digit profits I'm rolling in from my gaming websites, this is far from the case, however I would like to grow fat on a huge paycheck.

Name: Paul Smith.
Date of Birth: 29/09/1982.

Technical skillsets:

Microsoft Windows, Office, Windows Server, Windows Mobile, Linux/Apache web servers, LAN/WAN network services and administration, PC hardware, web development/design and administration.


Game Stores Group Limited (2001 to present).
Sales assistant for computer and console software.

Assist customers in finding suitable products for their requirements.
Communication skills to inform customers of new products.
Team work in order to fulfil marketing and store targets.
Supporting users with software configuration issues.
General store and stock upkeep.

Other stuff:

Microsoft Corporation (2002 to present).
Pre-release software/hardware analyst (UAT).

Analyze software and hardware for defects (graphical, UI, driver compatibility, etc).
Develop and forward reports to developers for further review and implementation.
Participate in forums to discuss project progress, current issues, suggestions for improvement, etc.
Continue to gain an excellent understanding of system/software development life cycles.

Parliamentary candidate for one of the three main political parties in the UK (2007-2009).

Show leadership and organisation skills to maintain efficient operation of the local party and plan future direction.
Be able to represent the organisation in the community.
Good communication skills, both written and oral. (2002 to present).
Managing of web-based information and community sites.

Building and maintaining easy to use and accessible websites.
Ensuring high search engine placements and quality content to maximize traffic and revenue.
Maintaining discussion forums to build a community of users around the websites.
Dealing with various server systems (Windows and Linux) to ensure best cost / performance ratio.

Microsoft MVP for Windows Shell/User (2006 to present).

"This [MVP award] is a highly-regarded 'thank you' through which Microsoft recognises the top 1 in 10,000 technology community contributors."
"An elite group of individuals in online and offline technical communities around the world who share their passion for Microsoft products and technologies with others."


Saint Gildas RC Primary School , Yeovil (1987-1994).
Bucklers Mead Community School, Yeovil (1994-1999).

More information:

For a full copy e-mail me with a description of your company and the type of work available.

Carmack on the next generation


The godfather of modern 3D gaming speaks out about development on the Xbox 360 and the PS3 as well as the tribulations of tomorrow's developers.

Carmack's platform of choice for console development is the Xbox 360, and he explained why ... the Xbox 360 was designed to have a very thin API layer. In Carmack's words, he can "basically talk directly to the hardware ... doing exactly what I want."

Carmack heaped praise on the decisions that Microsoft has made with the Xbox 360. "It's the best development environment I've seen on a console," he says. Microsoft has taken a very developer-centric approach, creating a system that's both powerful but easy to code for. This is in contrast to Nintendo, Sony, and (formerly) Sega, who generally focused on the hardware.

Perseids at 40 per hour

Well spotted loads of Perseids this year, pretty clear, no Moon, too much light pollution (town of 36000 people) but averaging 40 per hour. This is based on observations between 11:30 (BST) 00:50 with two sets of eyes looking east.

Spotted a very weird object, dark-orangy colour about -1 mag appeared in Cassiopeia and travelled through Pegasus all the way to the horizon in about 5-8 seconds. The distance it travelled instantly pops into my mind as a satellite, but doing it that fast and at around 00:30 when I very much doubt the Sun is illuminating any objects in that low of an orbit. Persieds are typically green in colour, the ones I saw lasting say 10° at the most and leaving trails. So not sure exactly what it is.

Also think I saw a tumbling satellite, was blinking on and off every few seconds, this was around 11:50 traveling south to north.

Perseid in Andromeda taken by  Rick Scott and Joe Orman on August 12th 1997

I also believe I saw M31 the Andromeda galaxy, which is the first time I've seen it with just my eyes - although just barely with light pollution making it a hmm am I seeing it or not moment. Not bad going for my eyes to see 2.2 - 2.9 million light years with all this light being sent up into the sky. Just think, even though it's that far away it's about 12 times the size of a full moon in the sky. You can actually see it in the above photo too - it's the star with a slight smudge around it near to where the meteor begins.

What Ian thinks of the PSP


I agree with him, it could be so much more, but it's crippled by simple software mistakes, oh and poor screen, poor battery, memory card format, button layout, analogue control, size, weight and that UMD nonsense.

15 minutes astronomy and 5 hits

As it was very clear tonight I popped outside at 22:15 (UTC) to spot two Iridium flares. Within seconds (before I even turned the lights out) I spotted a bright flash very high up 80°+ to the west, probably a meteor exploding. Always a good sign.

While searching for Iridium 49, scheduled to pass at 22:18:23 which I could not spot, a meteor zipped across the sky, about 10 degrees long passing through the Hercules region of the sky ENE to WSW at around 0 magnitude. Several minutes later another one this one travelling for about 4° in the Hercules-Serpans region this one east to west around 0 magnitude. I'd guess both were Perseids - hopefully a sign this years shower will be quite active.

Spotted a satellite at about 22:20, moving SSE to WNW through Lyra - passing very close to Vega, at about +3 magnitude. Not been able to get a positive identification but the discarded rocket stage Meteor 1-30 was in the area at the time, roughly the correct altitude and brightness, although predictions show it moving SE to N.

Iridium 26 put on a good show at 22:27:31, despite being fairly low in the western sky 17° and only being visible several seconds either side of the 3-4 flare (approx -3 mag).

If it's clear again tomorrow I'm tempted to have a bash at one of my all time favourite planetary nebulae M57 in Lyra, and another favourite - despite only ever seeing it once as it's a sod to locate even though it's half the size of the Moon, M27 in Vulpecula. Uranus and Neptune are in a good position, I think Neptune might be pushing my luck however with the amount of light in the southern sky.

Transit of Venus 2004

As I don't seem to have any of my images of the transit of Venus on the web, I thought the blog would be as good a place as any to post them. I'm also planning on publishing more of my astrophotography stuff at some point in the future. Most of it needs scanning and my old log book needs modernising and being tied up with the images so it probably won't be for a few weeks.

Equipment used
Equipment used
Equipment used

The equipment I used to take the photographs. Two chairs I stole from the conservatory and living room, the old laptop with a webcam, a cardboard box with some white paper in the bottom and my TAL 2M Newtonian reflector.

Transit of Venus 2004
Transit of Venus 2004
Transit of Venus 2004

And finally an animation made up of some of the best images out of the 431 that were taken.

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