Secret Santa

Every year the members of the forums at Something Awful (forums.somethingawful.com) hold a Secret Santa, the rules are simple, sign up, get a name and address and send that person a gift to the value of US$20.

I ordered the gift for my santee at the end of november, check it out:

My present from my secret santa arrived yesterday and I picked it up from the post office this morning, after reading the customs sticker on the front I couldn’t wait to open it up, my SS is an effective stalker, contents:

SA Baseball Cap (I still haven’t received the keyring I ordered months ago so this makes me happy

A CD full of Cajun Zydeco music, which I’m listening to right now, I have to admit I’ve never heard of Cajun Zydeco but the current track “John Delafose & The Eunice Playboys – Midland Two Step” is great!

An Alien vs Predator action figure set depicting a predator fighting an alien, my SS either has the detective skills of columbo or he took a wild guess that this gift would make my christmas!(I have taken pictures but forgot to bring my USB cable to work to download the pics, will update this post tonight)

On top of that, there is an awesome KISSmas card and another message about how my SS tried to send me a bottle of Cabo Wabo tequila (as I hinted to on the boards) but UPS foiled him so he had to keep it (I would have been happy with an empty bottle Enjoy the Tequila David (whoever you are)!

And on top of all that, SS went above and beyond the call since the cost to post all this to Australia was US$21.70, this doesn’t include the cost of the presents.

HUGE thank you Secret Santa, and Merry Christmas!

UPDATE: Pictures!! (click for bigger versions)

The box:

The Secret Santa Gifts! Thanks Santa!

52 Weeks ago today … (almost)

We finally finished the courtyard, a major accomplishment since it has involved nearly 2 years of effort including building our first post and rail fence, laying our first pavers, planning and installing out first irrigation system and seeding our first lawn, here are some pictures (all images are linked to a bigger version of itself):

Progress (starting from almost a year ago to the day):

21 September 2002

The side entrance to the courtyard it the native form, sans fence etc..

13 December 2002

The fence is up, we took 3 weeks holidays to build this, figured it would take a few days, it took 14 days of solid work, digging holes preparing wood and painting, ugh.

13 December 2003

One year on, the paving, grass and garden beds are all done, the only thing we have left to do in the courtyard is plant the hedge in the garden beds, but they need about another year to sit and ferment until the soil will be ready.



BEFORE and AFTER


and another BEFORE and AFTER

We still have a long way to go, but it was nice to be able to say we’ve finished something, the next project will be the pathways around the outside of the house, gates on the courtyard and more mowing!!

What a ‘net community can do …

I consider myself pretty jaded when it comes to human nature and the current state of the world but occasionally I get a surprise, or two:

I’ve been a member of the SA (Something Awful) forums for about 2 years now and it is the source of much hilarity as well a sarcasm and outright meanness (is that a word?), however, quoting a recent post there:

Somethingawful.com is holding a fundraising drive to equip a platoon, scheduled to be in Iraq soon, with needed trauma inserts for their body armor. The Army will not purchase the equipment for this platoon, because they are not considered “front line.”

There will be a Paypal donation drive set up at http://www.somethingawful.com/’s front page tomorrow. It is being done through the site’s forums at the moment. This website has over twenty-thousand paid members, with countless more visiting the front page every day. In roughly ninety minutes, the forum members succeeded in raising over 1 thousand dollars. Donations are coming in from all over the world at this stage. At the time of this email, nearly 3,000 dollars (of the 20,000 needed) had been raised.

These “trauma” inserts are essentially big ceramic plates that have the ability to stop or fragment a bullet and absorb the impact so it will do a lot less damage to the victim, according to the original post only “front line” troops are issued with them, since they’re kinda expensive, I suppose. Read more about them here.

The second inspirating is Penny Arcade Childs Play which has the guys at Penny Arcade raising over US$100,000 in toys and video game stuff for sick children, all via their on-line readership and forums, check out the links for more details.

Colour me suitably impressed with the power of the internet. It makes me kinda wish more than 4 people checked my website 🙂

Currently Playing: D&D Heroes (XBOX)

I was discussing games and stuff with Jeremy, as we do, the subject that it was unusual that I manage to convince Kristie to play games with me came up…

Girls playing games? Wierd! She only plays one genre of game anyway, co-op RPG or action types are the forte as long as they’re not FPS, so this limits the selection somewhat.

I think in the last few years that left us with
Diablo (PSX),
Syndicate Wars (PSX),
Gauntlet Legends (DC),
Baldurs Gate:Dark Alliance (XBOX),
Gauntlet Legends (XBOX) and now
D&D Heroes (XBOX).

Although, having said that, she did play Gran Turismo quite a bit, perhaps I should show her Need For Speed:Underground …hmmm…

I held high hopes for the new Fallout Game, Brotherhood of Steel, supposedly multiplayer co-op action/adventure/rpg but with Black Isle disappearing, so too are the hopes of seeing that come to XBOX.

Bummer.

When we’re done with D&D Heroes I’m going to give Dynasty Warriors 4 a go, it’s 2 player co-op and looks pretty cool.

Edit: Here are some games that are out or coming out that have a 2 player co-op mode:

  • Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2 player co-op in middle earth!)
  • Black Stone (already out, fairly old, gauntlet clone)
  • Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel (may be cancelled, not sure yet)
  • Freedom Fighters (it’s 3rd person, like Tomb Raider, may not work for us)
  • Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance 2 (not out until next year)

So there are finally some good co-op games coming out. When will they released Diablo 2 on XBOX, they did it for playstation (with Diablo) all those years ago. If anyone knows of any more in this genre, leave a comment.

Uhhhhh

Pick a band and answer only using that band’s song titles
Oingo Boingo

Are you male or female?
Only a Lad

Describe yourself..
Nothing Bad Ever Happens

How do some people feel about you?
It Only Makes Me Laugh

How do you feel about yourself?*
Wierd Science

Describe your girlfriend/boyfriend/interest/spouse..
Good For Your Soul

Where would you rather be?
Perfect System

Describe what you want to be..
Grey Matter

Describe how you live..
Private Life

Describe how you love..
You Really Got Me

Share a few words of wisdom..
Nothing to Fear (But Fear Itself)


Pick a band and answer only using that band’s song titles
Pearl Jam

Are you male or female?
Dirty Frank

Describe yourself..
Alive

How do some people feel about you?
Faithful

How do you feel about yourself?*
Do the Evolution

Describe your girlfriend/boyfriend/interest/spouse..
Crazy Mary (just kidding..how about “Nothing as it Seems”)

Where would you rather be?
Love Boat Captain

Describe what you want to be..
Betterman

Describe how you live..
Evenflow

Describe how you love..
State of Love and Trust

Share a few words of wisdom..
Rockin’ in the Free World

Foobar2000

I just found an awesome new (well, new to me) MP3 player, better than winamp, WMA, Musicmatch and iTunes..there was a thread on the Something Awful Forums about which MP3 players was the best, feature and quality wise, all the goons kept mentioning this Foobar app.

I checked it out, hated it and uninstalled it. I read some more and they just kept raving about it, so I reinstalled and gave it a chance. I just uninstalled winamp. Give it a go if you’re keen, it takes a lot to get used to and a lot to configure but once it’s done, it’s awesome.

With some time spent customising it, you can get it looking and working really well:


It’s not as pretty as winamp, it is skinnable, although I couldn’t find any skins I liked, the default interface will have to do for now (I customised the playlist look using the links below)

Download Foobar 2000

Clickety Click for the Linkety Link

SA Threads

la la la you need to be registered to view it, so in-case you here, here’s a link

Skins

Skins!

Formatting

Formatting!

MAD Plug in for Winamp

If you still want to use winamp, at least download this new input plug-in, apparently much better at decoding MP3 streams than the default one that comes with winamp (which most people use)

MAD Input plug-in