Archived News for November 2006


Just following up on the fibre network story; the network is going to be integrated into KAREN - the Kiwi Advanced Research and Education Network.

This reminds me of the internet in the eighties, before the Eternal September. Not that I was there, of course. Just the progression of research and education networks into something for the wider public has precedence1. Maybe in twenty years time we'll have access to a fibre network.


1. Be careful when you're using the reference resources at One of the first links on the page is to the 'Oxford Reference Collection'. This collection has something called the Oxford Dictionary of English, but this is not the Oxford English Dictionary. You have to click on LEARN's 'Language Dictionaries', then 'Oxford English Dictionary'. So, while the ODE only gives "the right of preceding others in ceremonies and social formalities", the OED gives the meaning I was looking for, tells me Shakespeare used it ("An epilogue or discourse to make plaine / Some obscure precedence that hath tofore bin saine"), and lists the modern meaning as spec.


I have developed a morbid fascination with reports of malfunctions and injuries at theme parks. It started with a few well-written summaries of Disney deaths but it's developed to other parks thanks to Wikipedia. How else would I learn that twelve Disney guests and one 'Cast Member' have died, or that "on May 11, 1984, eight teenagers burned to death in the Haunted Castle at Six Flags Great Adventure attraction". Well, it would be a haunted castle, if it weren't eleven trailers temporarily joined together. Anyway, read: 'Incidents at Disney parks', and the gripping 'Incidents at Six Flags parks'.

The good news, I guess, is that the vast majority of the deaths seem to be from people doing stupid stuff; jumping off the rides, going backstage to retrieve stuff they've dropped and getting run over by the ride, trying to swap carriages in the middle of a tunnel, that sort of thing.

Line Rider

Line Rider is a cool little flash game, where you create a path for a sleigh rider to go down. It reminds me of Xmoto, in that there's all sorts of cool aerobatic moves, and also because you start off really really crap at it.

Go ahead - try and create a few tracks. Then hit YouTube and realise how incredibly crap you are.

Copyright Law in Australia

I missed this when it happened. Last year, Australia negotiated a free trade agreement with the United States - in exchange for certain things, like propping up the Iraq War, and a twenty year extension to their copyright term.

New Zealand still has the original term for copyright works that it inherited from the mother country: a fixed 50 years from publication for sound and video recordings, and 50 years from the author's death for other artistic works. Australia, being, like us, a colony, had the same term up until the free trade agreement. Now it's 70 years in both cases, meaning that "works published by authors who died in or after 1955 will now remain in copyright
until midnight on 31 December 2025 at the earliest".

This matters for things like Project Gutenberg. The US project, for the most part, only accepts works published before 1923. It used to be that the Australian branch could accept works by authors who died fifty years ago, but now there'll be no new works entering that period for another twenty years. Someone needs to start up a New Zealand branch: the works of authors who died in 1956 will be in the public domain in New Zealand at the end of this year.

As long as we don't, you know, 'get a free trade agreement', everything by Ernest Hemingway that was published in his lifetime will be public domain in New Zealand in four years time. T S Eliot will follow, in 2015.

Extending the copyright protection term is a stupid idea. Copyright exists to encourage cultural innovation. I can't see how having works tied up for seventy years after the artist's death provides any incentive at all. Hell, the person is dead: no matter how long you keep the works under copyright for, they're not going to benefit from them.


Well, I've taken a look at the site in IE7, and it's not pretty. Sorry about that. And yeah, I see the Audioscrobbler sidebar thing isn't updating.

I really am working on the SE rewrite. You can see the progress at I've managed to get the user accounts moved over, so you should be able to login. Not that there's much to do. Darryl: your username is now 'loki' - no character to muck things up. I also changed §teph's username to Ssteph. There's still the second steph account though.

The page is looking ugly at the moment because there's going to quite a bit of support for skins - like the old days. Check out the nice looking markup though!


Trav found Gusanos. I'm very, very excited about it. It's a Liero clone - of a breed I've never seen before. The look is there, the feel is there. The blood and gore is there. It's fantastic.

Until you try to use it in Linux

I've got half a mind to fork the damn thing. It uses Scons (badly) to build. An old version of scons. Heaven forbid you use a moderately up to date one - it'll bork on you. There's no source available alongside the releases, meaning you have to grab from CVS every time. Not only that, but the releases aren't tagged in CVS, so, without asking around, you can't build a stable version. It uses two proprietary libraries (for sound and networking), one of which is hardly well known. The documentation is fairly good, but out of date with the CVS - so, you end up with references to a library known only as 'z' in the current build, and no mention of what or where it is (Edit: It's libz!). Then, you most of the way through a build and have to remove 'PlayerOptions::' from a line.

Basically, the reason this pisses me off is that it could be as easy as 'apt-get install gusanos' if it didn't use those proprietary libraries. Hell, it could be configure, make, make install!

Anyway. I'm trying to get a dedicated server going. I'll let you know how it turns out.


Just a quick update to say that has been updated for the first time in a long while. Sign up for your bunker! I'm in 1-210.

I think the general idea for this one is to recreate this image. Typing the code (227664) into someone else's bunker makes their bunker stop flashing. It also adds to subtracts from their value, and increases the value of the bunker given in the 'helper bunker' field. I've been only doing it to bunkers that match the image.

Gusanos Fork

I've started that Gusanos fork I kinda mentioned in earlier news items. It turns out that Gusanos is in technical violation of the GPL (for linking with proprietary libraries), on top of the fact that linking with fmod and zoidcom is far too hard.

Someone on the Gusanos forums mentioned they already had a fmod to OpenAL patch, which will be helpful. And, so far, I've greatly simplified the SCons build process (which previously didn't work with new versions of SCons). The harder thing will be to remove the zoidcom dependencies, because zoidcom is a pretty high level library. OpenTNL is the leading contender, I think - that's the library that powered Tribes and Tribes 2! RakNet looked good, but it annoyingly uses Creative Commons licensing; I don't think they fully grasp the advantages of the GPL if you're multi-licensing.

I'll give SVN details in just a bit - I'm doing some major refactoring this afternoon.

SVN details: - let me know if that works. You'll need the svn client if you're planning to pull off anything but the odd single file. It still needs fmod (in /usr/lib _and_ /usr/local/lib!), and zoidcom, but it's already much easier to build.


The new site has a working shoutbox again, as well as something that resembles a skin. Not sure if it works on IE6 - let me know k thx? Skinning is going to be pretty comprehensive this time - look, it even has an xml file! Enterprisey! Using this method you can inject stuff into the <head>, which might prove useful.

I'm listening to Love at the moment. Unfortunately, from first impressions, it sounds like what it is: a circus soundtrack. The rough edges are all polished off; it's too smooth. There are some pretty clever mash up moments - that The End/Hard Day's and Get Back moment is a favourite - but there are already some fantastic mash ups. In fact, their body of work is probably the most mashed up and remixed of all popular musicians - I mean, And Justice for All My Loving! Sure, it's good to hear something official, but I get the feeling that if you gave a bunch of people like Danger Mouse the same access to the masters that Martin had, they could turn out something much more interesting.

Although, I guess artistic merit wasn't really the aim of this album; the whole thing is about as 'arty' as the Cirque du Soleil itself (the wannabe French bastards - good South Park episode); if I want to see rollerblading and breakdancing set to The Beatles I'll, well, I don't know what I'll do. Maybe kill myself. And I don't want to think about what they'll perform to Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite!.

All of which is a deep shame. No SMiLE (fantastic!) here.

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