Archives October 2005

Sunday, 30th October 2005

Sunday. Rain. Excellent. It means today will be of a descent temperature below 25 degC... Mmmmmmmm. I wish it would rain all day.

Friday, 28th October 2005

Not much blogging is happening... Re-Arranging the whole store front to back!

Tuesday, 25th October 2005


Work. The day of the idiot it seems...

I can almost guarantee my offsider here will be convulsing on the floor in the fetal position before the day is through. He's been dealing with a heap of stupid requests...

Customer starts their query with only:"What kind of memory card does my camera take?"


A discontinued line was reduced to $20 to clear it. It has no box or accessories. It is marked $20 'as is'. This normally retails for $89, even at this price it is below cost. A customer puts the unit on hold. Calls later. "Is there any chance of a further discount?"

Sunday, 23rd October 2005



Off to Mum and Dad's to fix the car.

Saturday, 22nd October 2005

Saturday! Off to see Serenity!@

Friday, 21st October 2005



Friday at last!

Serenity on saturday! 

Wednesday, 19th October 2005

Some moron broke into the electrical cupboard and switched off all the breakers... A nice big F - U to that person. No hot water, no internet and no website all day. What kind of an idiot breaks into an electrical cupboard anyway? Jesus, it's got a board with breakers, lots of pretty looking cables and ducts, a hot water heater and a bloody MDF in it. Grrrrrr.... Sounds like this/these person/people have the brain/s of Terrance and Phillip from southpark.

"Come Terrance! Lets Search For Tweasure!"

Terrance and Phillip

Yeah, because there's going to be gold and diamonds in the fucking electrical cupboard! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr...

Yay for down time... ...not

Some moron broke into the electrical cupboard and switched off all the breakers...

Sunday, 16th October 2005

Finally saw Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy! Rented it. The movie is awesome!

Saturday, 15th October 2005



Breaky. A Chicken Souvlaki Skewer and a Spring Roll. Life on the edge! Ah the TAFE days. Spring Rolls made up about 50% of my diet! Healthy! Mmmmmm. I like to keep my stomach strong by eating some Salmonella infested food on occasion. Oh! and there's only one way to eat the spring roll. Bite off the ends. Squeeze out the insides into your mouth then eat the yummy hollow pastry stuff!! Just don't tell my mum that I do that! I'm sure she would not be impressed l33t!

Friday, 14th October 2005


Work. Friday at last! Well, sorta. I have to work Saturday! MAD!

12:10 PM:

DAMN EXCEL!!!! Why does such a small bug mess up my spreadsheet so badly!!!! I'm talking about TRUNC() - a function that slices the fraction off without rounding the number.

TRUNC(1.25) = 1

Now the boggle:

I have $211.25 worth of money to take from the til in takings leaving the float... I have already taken from the til $211.20 in notes and coins starting from the largest denomination, now I need to calculate how many 5c pieces to take out. By the time the formulars have cascaded down from $100 notes to coins down to the 5cs that's the last one you will take out. So to check this we have a formula. I have $1.25 in 5c coins is the $1.25 of 5c less than what I have removed already? Nay, there is only 0.05. Cool. Divide the remainder by the money denominator ($0.05). To see how many will fit (1 in this case) we divide the remainder by the coin value and we get 1. So we need 1 5c piece. No probs. Answer x Denomination = Coin to remove. Swar. ONLY fscking TRUNC(1,0) seems to return 0.0000999998 == 0. SHIT!

Thursday, 13th October 2005



7:24 PM:

Brenny Linked me an article about the upcoming doom movie. It's worth a read. So here it is: Original Link



Silver screen screams and horrors! We hit the Doom movie set - full report inside!

15:24 It's been on-again, off-again more times than Pammy, Tommy and the Iranian nuclear program all put together - but finally, after ten years, the ultimate game-movie is coming to a screen near you. As ever, the big question on every gamer's lips is, "Have they f***ed it up?", or more likely, "Just how badly have they f***ed it up?"

It's a fair enough question. History pretty much dictates that films based on games are going to stink, pissing right in the eyes of the gamers that made the film possible in the first place and leaving the source material unconscious in a ditch. But there's always that faint hope that this will be the one to break the mould, the one that finally does justice to our memories, hopes and dreams. If you've seen the Doom trailer, that crack of hope will have opened just a little, because it looks - not too loud now - pretty good.

To be honest though, we've been expecting this, as we've had a bit of an inside track on the film's development all year. In fact, PC ZONE visited the set of Doom in Prague during principal photography and had a chat with many of the key players, including Karl Urban, Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, Rosamund Pike and visual FX supervisor Jon Farhat. We've been itching to tell you all about it, but a pesky international embargo has kept us gagged (until now). Finally, we can make like a bloated zombie and spill our guts (though not too much of the plot hopefully), and reveal why we think Doom could break every precedent there is for game-based movies.

Admittedly, we haven't seen the finished product yet, so we could be horribly wrong here. But what we can assert with confidence is that everyone involved went into the project with the right frame of mind and the right level of respect for the wants of the fans. The script, for a start, went through at least seven major revisions before filming got under way, starting with an ultragritty first draft by first-timer David Callaham, then through the hands of producer John Wells and eventually to Wesley Strick, a big-time Hollywood script doctor who came aboard to polish the dialogue. At every step, id Software had broad approval.

"The story is very similar," says id's Todd Hollenshead. "It isn't based exactly on the Doom 3 story, but there are a lot of similarities between who the good guys are, who the bad guys are and how that all works out." Suffice it to say, the plot will be instantly recognisable, despite a few inevitable tweaks for the sake of storytelling.

The action takes place at a scientific research base on Mars, where a meddling scientist (called Dr Carmack, ho ho) has unwittingly opened a wormhole to 'somewhere bad'. It's not necessarily the gates of hell, but it may as well be, as the accident has unleashed a legion of imps and demons into the facility. To make matters worse, people are turning into hideous zombie mutants left and right, and nobody knows why. Answering a distress call from the stricken base, an elite Rapid Response Tactical Squad is sent in to seal off the facility and kill whatever they find inside - unless it eats them first.

Apart from the games, the inspiration here is clearly Aliens, as well as a little bit of Predator (no bad thing either way). The squad of space marines even have nicknames that could be from either of those films - Duke, Goat, Destroyer, not to forget John 'Reaper' Grimm, better known to you and me as DoomGuy.

One of the big questions throughout the development of Doom was: who would play DoomGuy? Names such as Arnie and Vin Diesel were tossed around early on, but when the project was finally green-lit it looked like the part would fall to The Rock, former People's Champion now turned serious actor. As it turns out, the brawny grappler preferred the 'Sarge' role, leaving the door open for a personable Kiwi called Karl Urban. Best known for his taciturn performance as Eomer in The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, he's also played villains in Riddick and The Bourne Supremacy, but cites Doom as the most challenging, exhausting film he's ever done. Luckily for us, he also understands the gravity of his position.

"I've got to admit I had concerns," admits the star in his thick Kiwi twang. "I was a massive, massive game fan in my college years, and I thought, I don't want to be involved with something if they're not going to do it justice. But after looking at the script and seeing the attention to character, I was convinced. Because you can't just hang this off corridors and killing zombies - there has to be more to it than that. If you don't have the story and the characters right, people are going to get bored pretty quickly. There have been examples of videogame films in the recent past that haven't got that right; we're aware of that, and we're doing everything to inject as much three-dimensionality into these characters as we can."

Urban describes John Grimm as a "thinking man's soldier". He's good at his job and gets the job done with ruthless efficiency, but is a little more introspective and cerebral than your average grunt. "I'm hoping he's going to appeal to the gamers who are not these guys who are built like brick shithouses," says Urban. "They're normal guys like you and me."

One of the other great things about the script is that it doesn't attempt to crowbar a romantic subplot into what is, essentially, a bloody and violent horror film. Perhaps to provide an equivalent emotional journey, John Grimm instead must come to terms with his estranged sister Sam - one of the scientists trapped on the base, played by former Bond-girl Rosamund Pike. The two haven't seen each other since their parents died in a scientific accident, after which John abandoned his budding scientific career and joined the space marines. When the Martian mission comes up, he volunteers to go back and, er, face his demons.

"Sam's the impostor, because she's not in the game," says Rosamund Pike, perhaps the poshest person ever to be associated with the name Doom. "She's the brains of the piece really. She's the insider, the person who has access to the computer files and the scientific knowledge to work out what's going on. People are turning into these creatures, but she's the one who works out why not everybody turns, and that's quite a crucial thing to the story."

For Pike, Samantha Grimm is a vital addition to the formula, balancing the overriding masculinity of the film and injecting the space marines with a bit of humanity. "She despises them and what they stand for at the beginning, but it's quite interesting how things work out."

Another key decision made early on was to consciously go for an R-18 rating. Trying to reach a wider audience by pulling back to a PG-13 was one of the many things that ruined Aliens Vs Predator; here, luckily, the producers realised that without the right level of gibs and ultraviolence, it just wouldn't be Doom.

For Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, this was practically a prerequisite to his involvement. "What I love about this film is it's very unapologetic," enthuses the big man. "We pull no punches - it's rated R-plus! When I first spoke to Andrzej (Bartowiak, the director), he asked me what's important. And I said it's important to me to deliver on the sci-fi front, on the videogame enthusiast front and on the horror front. All these genres are very, very loyal. And I said with an R-rating we have the ability to really scare the shit out of people, and I think we should. And he goes 'Well we're not going to do that.' There was this long pause, and I'm thinking, shit... Then he says: 'We're going to f***ing terrify them!' That was cool to hear."

The Rock plays the character of Sarge, loosely based on Master Sergeant Kelly from Doom 3. In preparing for the role, Rock sought out some classic asshole commanders from the Hollywood backcatalogue, especially Full Metal Jacket for Lee Ermey and The Rock (funnily enough) for Ed Harrison.

"It's great," says Johnson. "I get to play what I call the BMFOP - the baddest motherf***er on the planet. I'm excited about that. He's not a bad guy as such; he's just a guy who's extremely dedicated to the Marine Corps. He believes in seeing through the orders at all costs, and if he has to kill everybody, then that's what he has to do. I admire Sarge for that."

The Rock describes the experience of making the film as like reliving a childhood dream, playing soldiers and toting around ridiculous amounts of firepower. "At one time I've got a BFG, a rifle, a handgun and I've also got this chaingun that Destroyer uses. It's basically one of the guns that's mounted on top of a Humvee, duh-duh-duh-duh (makes machine-gun noise). It's awesome, because as soon as we get off that helicopter, it's balls to the wall. I would say the first eight to ten minutes of the movie is setting up everything, and then bang, we get into it."

Towards the end of the film, the action takes on another dimension, with a breathtaking four-minute action sequence shot in first-person perspective. At this point the film achieves the most literal possible interpretation of the game, as we enter John Grimm's head and battle the Baron and other familiar hellspawn.

We spoke to VFX supervisor Jon Farhat about the sequence. "Primarily, the purpose of it is to be true to the fans. We're hoping that by the time it comes around and you're into a POV, that the audience is like, 'Yeah! THIS is Doom!' So the FPS section is really paying tribute to that and trying to take everything we know about visual FX and special FX and just pile it in there to make something non-stop. I guarantee you it will be pretty intense. It's a combination of creature effects, make-up effects, CG environments, CG creatures, live characters - everything all in one."

Having seen part of the FPS sequence being filmed, we can assure you it looks fantastic - it's a surprisingly scary effect, especially when the Baron starts beating seven shades of shit out of you/John Grimm. Like any FPS, it proves an efficient way of immersing the viewer in the action, and we're just surprised the technique has never been used to much effect in the past.

This sequence alone should satisfy gamers looking for a slice of raw Doomstyle action on the silver screen. Whether the rest of the film lives up to the legacy is another question, but what we can say is, for perhaps the first time in a videogameinspired production, the hearts and minds of the key players were in the right place. This, for us, is sufficient reason to be in the queue on October 28. No doubt we'll see you there.

Anthony Holden

We have hope now! =)

Wednesday, 12th October 2005


Hrm... Work.

After lots of careful consideration, it looks like I'm going to stay here a while. I could lay out a heap of positives and negatives about the whole thing but it boils down to one thing: Earth Monies. I need more Earth Monies! (see reference Invader Zim)

Monday, 10th October 2005



Train was late, full when it arrived and the next one delayed too... Why am I not suprised? Cityrail will sweep that shit under the carpet now, everyone has gotten over the shiny new timetable and have resumed their routine of not paying attention to running times. Cityrail are going w00t! We got away with it again! Change the timetable, run it real tight for a few solid months then go back to how it was. Arseholes. I'm tired of the gorram trains!

Working at another store today. More stories of 'oh-by-the-way-your-working-here-now-don't-care-about-employees' type Big Business Acumen. <sarcasm> GG Bosses! Terrific in fact. Well done, I love you! </sarcasm>

Sunday, 09th October 2005



Yummy chicken Kievs for lunch. Had to use them, defrosted them for another day but didn't eat them. Don't want to waste yummy kievs!

Watching some recorded Discovery Channel. Extreme Engineering! In this episode they are building a MASSIVE face shovel. MASSIVE! Very cool. I love mining gear. It's awesome! It takes 8 railway cards and 30 trucks to move it in pieces!

Oh! and the explosives! Muahahah! 190 holes. ~1ft in dia and 45 ft deep, blasting cap... 2 tonnes of amonium nitrate + fuel oil in each hole. Nasty.

Another documentry for me to watch! The top 10 tanks. 

Friday, 07th October 2005


Friday off.

It appears that I have been strong-armed into a new position. Fscking terrific.

Today I made some more inventor parts for my new project: The CRO tool. It is going to have a Square + Sine wave generator with a frequency meter/display. This is the integration of two dick smith kits.





There we are P2220 and P704X. The knobs are almost-dayglow-green... The ones I have here are. I guess they mixed the plastic colours incorrectly. I will have to buy more SINCE TOMORROW IS MY LAST DAY... Thumbs Down!Thumbs Down!Thumbs Down! MAD!

The two kits are:

K7001 : 50MHz Frequency Meter

K7338 : Sine/Square Wave Generator (Not on website)

Wednesday, 05th October 2005



G0t jet pack?

Stuart Ross has come up with a jet pack belt! Here is the offical (though incomplete) website 

Tuesday, 04th October 2005



Crappy day at work for no particular reason...

Finished off (read made working) the video distribution amp. The chip was working but the image was just about white. I tested it on the DVD, you could only just see the screensaver logo bouncing around the white screen. No contrast at all, in addition only the first amp and last amp from four were working (this chip has 4 amps). I started checking for more shorts and found one! There was a short between the PCB pin and a ground plane. I fixed that up with a scribe and tried it again. No cure.

I read the datasheet about the chip (MAX497CPE) hopeing to find some troubleshooting info. Looking at the example circuit diagram it clicked. I decided to check if the chip was getting power - or at least power to the right places. I started by fitting a new battery to my multimeter. Something I should have got ages ago. After seeing which pins should be getting power I started checking traces starting at the regulators. The chip requires both +5V (pins 9 and 15) and -5V (pins 11 and 13). This is achieved using a 7805 (positive regulator) and a 7905 (negative regulator). BAM! no -5V on 11 and 13! I started checking for un-soldered pins. On this board there are no vias so connecting the top and bottom layers is depended on soldering both top and bottom pads of some components.

I ran into a dead end. I started manually checking the traces again. Whats this! A mistake on the board; NO! Immediately I was looking at ways of jumpering the -5V where I needed it. Looking closer at the middle of the board the -5V jumped straight off the regulator, through a filter cap and to an empty pad. Hrmmmmmm... There was nothing in this hole because I was making this as a Standalone unit. It has pads here to daisy chain +/-5V to other slave boards. Gee! Where do those traces lead on the other side of the board? Bloody pins 11 and 13! Wired BUGGER! I stuck a PCB pin in there immediately and soldered it both sides. I didn't bother with the +5V because there are no traces on the top of the board taking +5V anywhere, just a pad surrounded by the ground plane.

Of Death!

Whoola! Workies. Thumbs Up!Thumbs Up!Thumbs Up! The finished product at last! Still lots more images in the gallery. I'm so proud l33t!

Monday, 03rd October 2005


Monday. A day of cleaning... ...and cleaning. Frown

Most of it's done now, there is just a little to do in the kitchen. 

Sunday, 02nd October 2005


Sunday. Off to fix Kel's Car.

All went well, air cleaner, fuel filter, oil filter, engine oil, transmission fluid. There was so much crap in the engine that Dad and I actually had to open the rocker cover and clean out some of the muck! It seems to change gears smoother now and idles better.

Saturday, 01st October 2005


Saturday. Yay.

Started work on a video distribution amplifier for work. Should mean prudy pictures on all the screens. DVD players don't like having 10 TVs connected to them! TVs also don't like having a piss-weak signal. Some TVs just go dull, others roll vertically or flicker. Some display the blue screen of 'no signal'...

I used my new toy to take these photos. I couldn't be bothered dragging out my D60.


There is still work to be done on the power supply side of things. The IEC + Fuseholder needs to be wired to the switch and then to the transformer. An earth wire will also need to be run from the IECs earth terminal to the steel body of the transformer for safety. The leads on the transformer will be shortened and cable tied to make them look prudy. l33t!

I also need to grab a few metres of cable, some sidecutters, a DVD, a Drink and my wire stripppers. Why? So I can make the 12 coax flyleads I need to make to join the 8 RCA outputs to the amp and the 1 RCA input to the 4 inputs on the amp (while I have a drink and watch a dvd...)

I also discovered that one of my drill kits had some 'Spur Point' type bits in it. Excellent! Perfect actually. It meant that I didn't end up with the eliptical holes that you would get in thin plastic from a standard twist drill. Hence, all the holes that the RCA sockets poke through are beautiful and centred.


"Also known as a wood or dowel bit, they have a central point and two raised spurs that help keep the bit drilling straight. The bit cuts timber very fast when used in a power drill and leaves a clean sided hole. They are ideal for drilling holes for dowels as the sides of the holes are clean and parallel. Sizes range from 3 to 10mm. Spur point bits should only be used for drilling wood or some plastics."

I used a trick to drill the holes in the back panel. It involved printing a 1:1 drawing of the front panel holes, locating it on the panel with a rule to make sure that it was in the right place and then sticking it to the panel.



I am rather pleased with how neat and tidy the panels turned out! Naturally I knocked up a design in Inventor before I started. This helps immensly. It only took like 5 minutes to knock up a set of working drawings from the model. I love inventor!



More images / work in progress shots:

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