Just my small section of the internet...

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

"I think Linux is a great thing, in the big picture. It's a great hacker's tool, and it has a lot of potential to become something more."- Jamie Zawinski


Yes people, for the something for the others column this week. I thought I would look into something that has always intrigued me a little bit, as a kind of techy type person...  that is the world of  "hacking"

Now, let me be Frank. Now Matt again, now Frank!
Enough Frivolity...
I would just like to say that this will in NO WAY help you to "hack" I would have no idea how to do that, nor would I try, also if I did, then I wouldn't tell you, so I guess you still don't know if I do or not...

Let me first tell people what in no way counts as "hacking"
Guessing people's passwords...
Logging into their computer and using the book of faces as if you are them, henceforth to be referred to as a new term (I made up) called "fraping".
Changing icons or codes or reg files on someones pc, that's just called breaking it! and it's not nice!

Hacking has been in the news (at least my news) recently as Anonymous is hitting places around the world after the U.S. tried to take down MegaUpload. So, who is Anonymous? I hear you asking through the communication lines of the interweb... Anonymous are a group of hackers, or "hacktivists" (very funny, I like it), whose members wear Guy Fawkes masks (watch V for Vendetta and then get back to this blog). They act as secret vigilantes on the internet, taking down hard faced corporations and governments when they do silly things. 
The main thing I wanted to talk about here actually refers to how awesome a company Google is. 
Now everyone knows Google as the best search engine in the world, but they are so much more awesome in so many ways.

Firstly, bet you didn't think you would learn anything here, but, think again! 
The word "Google" originates from the word "Googol" which is 1x10100.

Google is one of the few companys pushing the boundaries in this world all the time, partly because they have enough money to do so, but still it's impressive. Also who else would do street maps, or gmail, or host an event challenging hackers to break their software. 

Yes, that's right. Google run a hacking contest, known as Pwn2Own. Top Prize for this year is $60,000. 
Basically hackers are given points based on how many exploits they find in various pieces of software, recently aiming at web browsers (should be fairly easy for internet explorer right?) 

I definitely feel that Internet Explorer exploits should be worth less. Definitely. 

Google also offer $20,000 if someone can find just a single exploit which compromises the security of the users of Chrome. Now that's a frakking Business model. Get the best people in the business to try what they're best at, offering loads of money, and when none of them can, you get to definitely offer a damn safe internet browser. 
Google is awesome. 

But, I digress, back to hacking. 
So, should we be afraid of people "hacking" our computers? 
The media says yes. 
Matt says no! 
It's super effective!

Basically the media blows any claims of hacking waaaayyyyyy out of proportion. 
For instance, another one of my pet peeves, The Mail. 

Could hackers develop a 'computer virus' to infect the human mind?

Oooohhh, big scary headline, what if we're being controlled right now man? Oh no...

When you read the article the basic principle is; No. No, it could not really happen, the technology is years away, if ever going to exist, and all of this comes from one guy who talked to The Mail, about a hyperthetical world where we would be able to do this.

And why are these people called hackers? Is that some sort of code? Are hackers working in labs across the country, even world, trying to develop this? Once again, the answer is; No! If anyone is going to create a (yes lets use the term) "virus" to "infect" the human brain, it's gonna be a SCIENTIST!

Man The Mail is a pile of shit.

But overall the main reason that you shouldn't be worried is that there are BETTER people in control of your privacy. It's worth far more to facebook, or google, or windows to avoid being "hacked" than the hundreds of code monkeys they employ to stop exactly that. Facebook gets about 600,000 attempts DAILY, to break users accounts. You know how many get through. FRAKKING NONE. And facebook are damn proud of that. As they should be.

So, set easier to remember passwords; none of this "kj&^$uhasfug7645732hsbs."

Stop reading The Mail, or anything else you hear
Because on average, hackers are not after your money, or your details. Most are there to make the internet a better place, and through whatever backwards means they do.

I'll leave this with a fantastically true xkcd comic, instead of the usual motivational.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

"Quantity has a quality all of it's own" Warlord Gravetail of Clan Kythos

I was recently a little bit naughty and bought myself, as a present, an Exaulted Vermin Lord to leaf my Skaven army! This is an AMAZING Forgeworld model. Which I have given an awesome paint job and is shown below...

Yeah right... How many of you believed me? None..? Oh...
Mine is currently unpainted, but is waiting to be so and I truly hope I can do it justice.
Me owning this awesome model did mean that I couldn't wait for it to hit the table. So, I went along to the Wargames sunday with GameSoc, after bugging EVERYONE to make 3000 point lists to play me with my rat demon lord.

Fortunately I had a taker, an army of Orcs massed at the other side of the table, not outnumbering the Skaven, but enough to make me worried... My Skaven stood, cowering in fear from their new master.

Just a quick note: I forgot my camera SD card, so these pics are from my phone. I also decided that I would stop taking pictures halfway through. So A LOT of it will just be story.

I'll speak about the Battle at the end, which is more of a Story of what happened than anything else...

In the meantime I have 2 GameSocs to comment on. I'm sure I've mentioned GameSoc a lot and thus don't need to explain how awesome it is, but it is awesome, damn, I just mentioned it didn't I?

Firstly, I got to play Warmachine finally! Played an intro battle with my Cryx starter army and I do still love this game. I like the skirmish feel. I don't think I would want to play anything too long with it, since I already have Warhammer for that, but at the moment nothing else can fill the small skirmish 30 min game for me. Need to get that stuff painted up!

I also got to play 7 wonders with the leaders expansion that I got just after christmas.
We jumped straight into a game with newbies, which might not have been the best idea since I am TERRIBLE at explaining games. People probably understand the game better before I explain it than after. Thankfully Lucy took over explaining all the confusing things which I had said, so we could play.
I really liked leaders, having something to plan for longterm, even if it was just small was a good thing for me, and they don't seem to be overpowered. Sure Lucy kicked us all, with the 7 vp for every full set card, completing it twice, but she had 2 newbies passing her nice cards...
I really enjoyed it, and am looking forward to many more games, and future expansions. I'm also definitely going to keep playing it with this expansion in the game all the time. 

Although I didn't get to play it too recently I also feel I should quickly mention one of Soph's Xmas presents, seeing as it seems to be hitting the table regularly. That would be, Dude, where's my Fish? Otherwise known as that to the right------->>>>> This is a lovely little game by ffg, with fantastic production, where you have to collect as many fish as possible. It scales so brilliantly with number of players, and strategic level of players and only takes about 10 mins to play. Brilliant game. Well done ffg, looking at getting the wiiware game soon!

Then we move on to GameSoc number two:

We got started with a further game of 7 wonders with leaders. Despite the fact that people to the sides of me didn't let me get sets of 3 science, I got enough to just win by it! Still enjoying leaders, though I had some awful leaders this time! Also, that is definitely Inara!

This followed with me sitting out of a game of Quarriors. Quarriors was the big hotness at GenCon this year, which is dice-building. Basically you play just like a deck building game, but WITH DICE. It's a great quick game, that people always seem to want to play again. I have the expansion at home now, so am looking forward to screwing other people with corrupted quiddity!

We finished the evening with Neuroshima Hex, 4 player hex grid battle mayhem. I love this game, it's brilliant fun with 4 players and uber-strategic with 2. Always great fun and really tough. Blue started by kicking red's ass in, then moving on to kill yellow. We (Elle & I) just stayed away from that, doing bits to them both and finally took down blue with a massive ranged assault for the glorious victory.

Ah, GameSoc, how I missed thee, let me count the ways.

6, I think it's 6.  Anyway...

 Stuff for the future
 At the moment the future seems to hold a magic draft tournament, storm of magic session and the possibility of a dual 40K / fantasy battle, if we can make the rules. So watch this space in 4 weeks time for updates on all of the coolness which just flows out of me. Hmmm... maybe I'll reword that...


And now... the moment you've all been waiting for...

This... is... Warhammer Fantasy Battles...

My 219 models were amassed, the Clanrats poking the slaves in front of them with whatever they could find or hurling rocks at them. Chieftans of Clan Kythos attempting to keep each of their designated hordes in check, while Warlock Engineers each polished their individual contraptions. The Orcs on the other side of the plane grunted, snorted and with a great WAZZZARG! from their leader the battle began... 
The Orcs were massing forward before the Ratmen could get their slave-fodder forward. Great storms wracked the sky as lightning flew upward from the banner at the center of the Ratmen horde.

A unit of maddened spider-riding goblins appeared out of nowhere, attempting to take down one of the Warplightning cannons, set up to the sides of the main army. Fortunately, one Warpfire thrower team was ready, and let off a stream of green fire, killing the entire unit in a single burst of the hideous flame.

Then it was time for the Skaven to move, starting with the Doomwheel, which pondered ahead of the army, letting off bolts of additional charge into a mass of slaves, killing 3 instantly. This got the slaves moving, and the Clanrats followed. The Exalted Vermin Lord moved into the center of the battle, howling and challenging the Orcs to, in effect "Bring it on, Bitches." At least that's what I think I got, my skaven isn't too good. He let out magic from his fingertips, a great, dreaded spell, but it was silenced by a scroll from an orc wizard... All fell silent for a moment and the Orcs continued their assault...

 A second unit, attempting to take down the cannon on the side appeared, riding boars. They failed to organize themselves for the charge, allowing Clanrats to turn and face what would be left of the war-machine. The main body of Orcs slowly advanced, in a circle formation, towards the skaven mass and waited for combat to ensue.

 The Vermin lord took none of this bait, moved to right next to a unit of trolls, after one of them recklessly charged forwards and was instantly caught in between the pincers of the Dire Glaive of the Vermin Lord. From his forward position, the Vermin Lord let off a cloud of putrid disease, killing off Orcs in all nearby units. Following this, he waited for the Orcs to DARE charge him. The Doomwheel to his left managed to get just far enough to crash into a large unit of Greenskins, just about aimed by the engineer in charge of the unit. This took down several, impaled upon spears or lightning crackling from the contraption. The rats used to run the wheels began biting at the orcs, taking down a couple more. But, the orc leaders bashed some heads in and the grunts got their act together and attacked the wheel, peeling away parts of it, making the engineer flee - flee for his life, a sensible choice...

(This is where I'm out of pictures...)  So imagine people, use those brains of yours!

The Orcs plucked up their courage against the mighty vermin lord, as the clouds above began to clear from their darkened state. A unit of boars on the left flank also charged the slave unit covering a unit of Clanrats, revealing the secret to the slaves! Each slave had an explosive in their stomachs, wired to the engineer in the unit behind, making them explode when they looked as if they will lose combat, hopefully taking out some more of the enemies with them! This tactic took out a grand total of 5 boar riders, in exchange for all the slaves. A good trade, thought Warlock Sqeek. Meanwhile, as Gork stomped his massive foot through some Stormvermin, the Exalted Vermin Lord was trading blows with Orcs. He decided to go after the three remaining trolls, killing all of them with lightning sweeps of his glaive, however, forgetting about the orcs; which hurt, as their stabbas cut into his side, causing a couple of serious wounds. After this, the grunts took one look at the massacred trolls and decided to run, the Vermin Lord looked to his right, smirked and bounded after them, killing each one as they fell over each other, attempting to flee, or not be the next one killed!

In the meantime a unit of boars had run down the Warplightning cannon crew on the right flank, now looking to run through into the back of the Skaven army. It was at this point that the 3 Warlock engineers unleashed their secret weapons.

The engineer on the left flank took out his death globe, aiming square at the Orc Warboss and sorcerer that remained in front of them, mixed in some further warpstone for good measure and let it fly, hitting both perfectly,  slaying the sorcerer instantly and wounding the Warboss in a small explosion. The engineer in the center lit the fuse on his doomrocket and aimed in somewhere towards the newly teleported Orcs which had suddenly appeared right in front of his unit. The rocket flew right through that unit, through a unit of clanrats and into a further unit of Orc savages, hitting one square in the chest, exploding in green flame upon impact, taking down many in the explosion. The engineer on the right flank threw his brass orb as far as possible, toward the boar riders coming from the right flank, but it hit a rock and rebounded nearly into a unit of slaves, oh well, can't win everything!

With the units of Orcs looking depleted, the Skaven looked to the boar riders heading down the rear of their army. They overran a unit of Clanrats and proceeded toward a further unit, after an accidental Doomwheel malfunction took it into a unit of savage Orcs, killing most of them but being finally destroyed in the process. The Vermin Lord set his sights on the boar riders, knowing he was the only thing fast enough to reach them before they took out a further unit of Clanrats, which were simply standing and watching in awe as their Chieftain took blow after blow from an Orc warlord. The Vermin Lord, Bolt Throwa bolts hitting him in the sides, bounded towards them, releasing several spells to take down 4 of the boar riders, but wasn't quick enough to prevent the charge. Dozens of Clanrats died, but not enough to make them flee, and thus the Vermin Lord laughed. He charged the remaining boar riders, releasing cracks in the very ground and a horde of rats around him, killing all but the Orc warlord, who barely got to look around to see then deathly wounded Vermin Lord take his Glaive and chop him in twain.

And so that's how the Battle went. It was an awesome battle, couple of things went my way very nicely, lots of things exploded badly, but that's what skaven are designed for!

Friday, 20 January 2012

“Being a supervillain means never having to say you’re sorry … Unless it’s to the judge or the parole board. Even then, you don’t really have to. It’s not like it’s going to change the outcome or anything.” - Calvin Matthew Stringel

Well, I think it's fairly safe to say that the blog title sums the book up fairly well.

I went for a relatively short book this time, seeing as I needed to do my dissertation still (66 pages), which Audible recommended to me since I enjoyed Ready Player One.

The book follows Calvin Matthew Stringel, a self confessed D-list supervillian "Mechani-Cal", in his attempts to take down some sort of massive corporation and it's leader, who goes by the name, UltraWeapon (after his suit, which outstrips everything anyone else owns by far).

The main plot is related in first person from Cal's perspective. This means that you get to see superhumans "The Olympians" from the light of a supervillian, i.e. complete nuisances, who are actually sometimes just as evil as the people they are facing, without realising it themselves. It's because of this that it lies to a no-body D-list supervillian to save the world, if he wants to....

 The book is so filled with ridiculousness that it takes a while to realise that the entire thing is a complete joke. All of this is to be taken light hearted, and once you do, it's a damn good read, which is very amusing, even with a  sometimes adult theme, which is impressive.

Saying that, the main character is entirely believable, and relatable, if you're a budding supervillian in the making yourself, as I definitely am... Plots twists aplenty occur, but where this book mostly shines is the battles. These are not only exciting, but fast paced and clever. It was these that made the book for me. 

It won't have you thinking an amazing about the plot, or not being about to wait to read the next chapter, but if you want a good, light book, definitely pick this one up. I thoroughly enjoyed it, for what it is.  After all, it beats reading my dissertation... 

Next up, will be either American Gods, which I have not read in a long time, and am looking forward at getting back to, or Leviathan, another Steampunk book by Scott Westerfield. If you have any preferences then put it in the comments and I'll try to get around to that one first.

Thanks for reading,

Monday, 16 January 2012

“As an actor and writer, husband and father, I have two often-conflicting monkeys on my back: Monkey number one is Creative Monkey. He occasionally digs his claws into my brains, and refuses to let go until something wonderful comes out. I love him.” - WIll Wheton

I have recently been thinking about this blog. So far it's been random snippets of things I like etc... but without any kind of structure, thought or even spell-check! But still, there are some people reading this, I'm not entirely sure why, maybe you all have exams or I have some kind of creepy mass crowd of stalkers...
In my soul-searching quest, I encountered many things I didn't expect, met a load of new friends, but I still believe the main thing which I managed to find was ...myself...
Pah, Fuck that.

I realised I actually LIKE doing this blog. I know, it's crazy. But it does need some kind of structure, so that people who, for instance, have no interest in gaming (silly people) or physics (silly people) or my general life (those ones need to be institutionalised) don't have to read through a whole bunch of crap before they get to something they actually would like to read.

Therefore, there will be structure whenst none was before,
There will be order out of chaos,
There will be interest where none could be found,
For this is the HINTERNET!

Okay, the general idea is going to be to post every Monday, on 4 alternating topics (hence 1 of each every approx month), which will be posted in different interesting places.

Gaming- will be a discussion of the previous month's gaming, which should go up on bgg and the normal places.
Something for the others- Should be something else, of MY CHOICE, damn right. It's my blog, I get to choose the other thing.  This could include news, politics, tech, or my opinion on cows. (I don't like them)
Physics- Since I'm like a physicist and everything I think it should be interesting to actually talk about something interesting in the science world from the last month. This should be liked from the University of Surrey Physblogroll. 
The life and times of Matt- This should be an update on what's going on with me, over the last month, with an attempt not to include fun stories, not gaming or physics or other related, we can't have overlap!

There will then also be audiobook reviews, so people know firstly how awesome audible is, and what books they should read. Probably aiming at being more of a discussion of books than just a straight review. All of this will be from my (probably geeky) view on things. I might even have opinions, you never know!

I should get started on this straight away. Hopefully people will enjoy structure in their lives. Also, if people feel like commenting then you definitely should! Bring more community to this blog and it's wonderful ability to bring people of all races, genders (with the addition of laptops to the world, woman can go on the internet from the kitchen now! .... I'm kidding...) and outlooks together, under one fantastic geeky metaphorical roof!


WAIT. Bad news, how? It's a nice d20.

 Also, look new shiny!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

"I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living." -Dr Seuss

There is something about doing a dissertation that makes me want to get more blogs done. But maybe I just want to get more blogs done!
There are still some people reading this I think, which is the only reason I'm bothering, so keep reading and I'll keep writing!
This is slightly overdue, but book review number 4 is on the way! This time it was Rides a Dread Legion by Raymond E. Feist. One of my favourite fantasy authors, with Magician being one of the best fantasy books around, in my opinion.

This follows the same universe as Magician and other books, of which I have read a grand total of none, so I can't really approach this from the view of someone with a huge love of the Feist Universe. I am, a fantasy-fan, of the highest accord, which is so-far not represented by my book reads. However, those AVID readers of my blog (which blatantly exist), will know that I know my Gandalf's from my Garion and my Aurian from Eragon. I have only ever put down one fantasy series in my entire life, which was, for very good reason, The Wheel of Time, but that's because it's the longest thing ever written where LITERALLY NOTHING HAPPENS, but that's beside the point.

Rides a Dread Legion is the first book in a new saga by Feist, the Demonwar. This book very much feels like a set-up. It takes quite a long time to set the new scene, allowing readers not used to Feist's complex world to get into this book without too much difficulty. Without ruining the plot too much, the book focuses on a new demon incursion, attempting to take over the worlds of the elves and other races, which forces elves of different worlds to travel back to their "homeworld" to discuss what to do. As I said, it starts slow. Soon though, once all of the newly introduced characters find each other, it becomes an immensely interesting read, some of the battles, including the final chapter, are immensely exciting and well read.

My one main problem with it, it the RIDICULOUS FANTASY NAMES! Every approximately 3 seconds there is a new 5 syllable name of a place or person or thing, it's ridiculous. Especially when you are working/listening and therefore dropping in and out, it gets one VERY confused!

So overall, not a bad audiobook, but a bit slow for my liking (and lotr is one of my favourites, along with the Belgariad, so I can deal with slow and interesting) Perhaps better as a hardcopy book, this will be good for any fans of the Feist works certainly.

Next book, at some point soon probably will be Confessions of a D-list Supervillan! 

 Achievement Unlocked!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

"If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I’d type a little faster." Isaac Asimov

Okay, so I was looking at my previous blogpost out of what was probably a strange combination of boredom and procrastination and I was thinking, "This just looks like a strange collection of mildly funny pictures"... That wasn't the plan, but it's how it looks, so I was going to try and do a quick blog entry here, while I am slightly ahead on my dissertation (which will probably last all of 5 mins) without including any pictures at all.

So, to keep people properly updated I am now living with Soph in Girlyphyshouse. That might seem odd to people who don't know what Physhouse is, but don't worry it's strange on this end too! It's like being in Physhouse, except it's actually... hmmmm.. what's the word... CLEAN! Yeah, that's probably it. Don't worry though, I am trying my very best to rectify that situation...

I was going to post a picture of the board games currently piled up in the corner of the room, but I'm being good and not putting pictures here, so you'll all have to wait until next time to see it! Needless to say, it's the size of a overgrown, baby, dwarf, boa-constrictor, after just eating a bison.

*Looks up over laptop at pile*

Yeah, that's about right . It's still not bigger than Faith, which I was very disappointed about!

(This is about the time that a picture would normally be inserted, do you want one? Well shame, get over it. )

What else is new in my life? Nothing too much, still getting on with my dissertation and attempting to play SW:TOR in what little free time exists. Awesome game, just awesome. I now have a smuggler on Travis' server, attempting to catch up in levels with his Jedi Knight, but that's like trying to... (I was going to insert a mean Travis joke here, but I'm actually being nice and I'll just post it to him, or give him one more when I next see him {how I missed him!}) catch a caffeine fueled kangaroo on a trampoline. How do people have the time to play it this much, don't you people have exams! Exams people!

So the dissertation is going well, I'm sure, barring some sort of freak accident where everyone who has ever heard of the deadline dies suddenly and it's changed to tomorrow, I will be finished with even a bit of time to spare (I know... poke the fire right?) Still, writing this isn't exactly helping with that, so maybe I shouldn't speak so soon.

Okay, I think I did it! One update on everything happening, without the use of any pictures. Maybe this one will now be incredibly boring, but hey, at least my picture-karma has now been restored!

Achievement unlocked!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

"Rizzo the Rat: Boy, that's scary stuff! Should we be worried about the kids in the audience? Gonzo: Nah, it's all right. This is culture!" Muppet's Christmas Carol

I have decided that I am going to at least attempt to keep this blog up, though it now, rather unfortunately, is about an English person, living in England. So probably not quite as exciting as previously! Still, I shall do my upmost to keep it as entertaining as humanly possible.

So, as I have said, I am now back in England! Home of... ermmmm... Real Ale! That will do. Flipping heck America, you need to get your act together about beer. I mean, when I first got down The Millstream (the local) and had my first pint of a real english ale... Sweet Magic, Woody Allen, Zombie, Superman, Komodo Dragon, Telepathic, Vampire, Quantum, Hovercraft, *Me*, Jesus that's a good ale.
Miller light just plain does not count as ale.
Miller light just plain does not count as lager.
Miller light just plain does not count as beer.
Miller light just plain does not count as drink.
Miller light just plain does not count as sustenance.
Miller light just plain does not count as thing which should ever have existed, ever.
IMO (isn't it brilliant that 3 letters can save your ass{ARSE} sometimes)

That is all for that.

So CHIRSTMAS, yes, Christmas and all that. I arrived in England on Christmas eve and was thus thrust quite figurativelly into the Christmas spin of things. Not having much to do with Christmas in America, it felt like most of the holiday was dropped on me at some point after my afternoon nap in one large chunck! So that was like being a small child again, which was an odd experience.

Soph and I spent Christmas at my parent's house, I got a new graphics card from my parents, which I am currently waiting for TOR to download to play on! Soph got me loads of little bits, so I won't list them, and Cuba (not the country, the board game), which I can't wait to play (along with my bgg SS present of Runewars) when I'm back at Gamesoc... mmmmmm Gamesoc...*dribbles*

Boxing day (yes America, Boxing day)
Boxing Day is traditionally a day following Christmas when wealthy people in the United Kingdom would give a box containing a gift to their servants. See I did get it right!

we spent with Soph's parents, sister and her now husband, which was another awesome Christmas meal, more opening of presents and drinking of Ale, plus more playing of the board games I got Soph for Christmas.

Since then I have been catching up with Hitchin friends, which involves lots of drinking at the local as well as a fantastic pub quiz at James', I'm also running board games tonight at mine, so that should be awesome.

Probably should also mention New Years quickly, especially since I have to go and fetch Soph, like 5 mins ago!

Okay, I'm back from picking up Soph and board game/wii evening. Continue.

New years was a mixing of people with nowhere to go, as the event put it. This meant friends from all over could turn up and watch Jools Holland, drink some tasty ale and play board games or whatever they wanted (which turned out to be crisp packet fights). Despite Soph banging her head, I believe a good night was had by all, including nobody falling into the pond (quite an achievement Travis, well done)

I'm not really sure how much else there is to say this evening. Glad to be back writing this, not sure when I'll get the next one out, will probably be back to whenever anything interesting happens in my life. So, a little while!

Night people, star wars TOR still hasn't finished downloading, so I'll leave you with this.
As a final note my new years resolution is to fail at completing my new years resolution, it's gonna be easy!