Friday, November 21, 2008

GMail Gets Even Cooler

We love Gmail here, well all except one of us anyway. If however there was any criticism of GMail it was that it was a little dull looking. Well not anymore. Google have pimped the ass out of it by supplying a raft of interesting themes.


Thursday, November 20, 2008


The Isle of Man has accumulated significant wealth over the last 20 years. Bank deposits of more than 80 billion, pensions and investments also of more than 80 billion. As well as this we have one of the largest shipping registers in the world and not to mention a very active film/movie industry. There are thousands of companies registered at our companies registry, the vast majority of which have no connection with the Isle of Man.

Now the question, this wealth has been accumulated on the Isle of Man because:-

a) We are all really nice people, we say hello to the fairies, the Norse God Thor and his mighty hammer have blessed us with good fortune.

b) The Manx as a race are bred to provide unrivalled customer service. From our busses to our international telephone banking client call centres all our staff are immensely pleasant and helpful. Our natural skill base and "need to serve" has attracted big business.

c) We made doing business cheaper. Instead of paying £10 tax to somebody else we'll let you do business for only £1 or even better free (as long as you employ local staff) i.e we are a tax haven - we compete on taxation

Then there is the question of individuals. Why do so many non manx individuals choose to open accounts on the Isle of Man?

Is it:-

a) Because they came here once on holiday and liked the place so much that they thought it best to keep their entire life savings here?

b) They saw the TT on Men & Motors once and figured what the hell, that's the place where I want to keep my money!

c) Despite all the best regulations and claims in the world it is still entirely possible to hide the real beneficiary (or who owns what) via any number of corporate/investment vehicles. And at the end of the day we can always just claim that it is the individual’s responsibility to declare any money offshore as and when it is repatriated i.e. we are a tax haven?

Praise be to Thor and the TT is all I can say!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The woman who couldn't even clean

Nice article this:

It's about the Astronaut woman who dropped her tools while cleaning something on the Space Station - the tools then drifted away.

By late Tuesday, the bag was already more than two miles (3.2km) in front of the shuttle-station complex

Given that (in space) everything is inertia based, since there's not much in the way of gravity or wind resistance. This means all motion is strictly proportional.

So, for the tools to drift 3.2 km in 24 hours it means they drifted 133m in the first hour. And 2 metres in the first minute. About an arm's length in the first 20 seconds. A slug is quicker than that. She's not exactly a quick thinker.

But it does beg the question:

Why the hell wasn't she in the kitchen!?

p.s. for the women who need this blog translated into woman-speak - forget about it, just put on a pretty dress or something. Get your nails done.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The One Flaw In Women

This is hilarious:

By the time the Lord made woman,
He was into his sixth day of working overtime.
An angel appeared and said,
'Why are you spending so much time on this one?'
And the Lord answered, 'Have you seen my spec sheet on her?
She has to be completely washable, but not plastic,
have over 200 movable parts, all replaceable
and able to run on diet coke and leftovers,
have a lap that can hold four children at one time,
have a kiss that can cure anything from a scraped knee to a broken heart
-and she will do everything
with only two hands.'

The angel was astounded at the requirements.
'Only two hands!? No way!
And that's just on the standard model?
That's too much work for one day.
Wait until tomorrow to finish.'

'But I won't, ' the Lord protested.
'I am so close to finishing t his creation that is so close to my own heart.
She already heals herself when she is sick
AND can work 18 hour days.'

The angel moved closer and touched the woman.
'But you have made her so soft, Lord.'
'She is soft,' the Lord agreed,
'but I have also made her tough.
You have no idea what she can endure or accomplish.' was at this stage (while reading) that I realised that this wasn't a joke. It's a chain email that women send to each other when their "head isn't in the right place". Whatever that bollocks means.

At no point was there going to be a mention of how (with only two hands) she carries three-bottles of beer or what the extra opening at the back is for (add your own one liner)

It just goes on and on and on about how lovely woman are. I just wanted to inflict some of my disappointment on the rest of male-kind.

A Scene From RBS This Morning...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Gears of War 2

I played through the single player campaign on GoW2 yesterday, started at 9 in the morning and got finished at 9:30 at night. Including a few breaks I'd say it's a good 10-11 hours worth of game play at the normal difficulty level (keeping in mind that I am a gaming guru and only died maybe once or twice during the whole game). It was very nice to be able to chill out and just enjoy a game instead of worrying about if it's too noisy and all the other crap that is part of.....well you know.

So is it any good? Yes. In fact it's excellent. I'm not going to bang on about the graphics because there are plenty of movie clips online that highlight just how stunning everything looks. It doesn't actually look that different to the first game but then again there wasn't that much they could improve on anyway. Enough to say that detail levels and frame rate are top notch throughtout.

It's also probably not worth going into too much detail on the gameplay either. If you've ever played the first Gears of War then this is exactly the same. Get into cover and pop out shooting is the name of the game throught 80% of the single player mission. There are a couple of nice vehicle style levels to break this up, important if you're going to play it in a monster session like me. But it is very much more of the same as the first.

What makes a game a classic these days isn't so much the graphics or the gameplay (not for FPS games anyway) but rather the story and this is weher GoW2 shines. The whole feel of the game is so much bigger than the first. It starts with a simple mission to defend a hospital but then the story erupts into mankinds fight for survival and one final choice. Attack instead of defend. From that point the game takes you on a roller coaster ride as you play the part of Marc Fenix as he leads Delta Squad to the core to take on the Locust on their home ground. You'll find hints along the way that reveal the very source of the Locust, there are plenty of personal elements as you come across characters from the first game and lose others. You will be very happy and more than a bit relieved when the Cole Train makes his first propper entrace! It's a movie style buzz. Inter twined amongst the main story is also the sub plot of Fenix's best mate Dom and his search for his wife. Whilst unlike a RPG where you get to decide on how the plot unfolds with GoW2 what happens will happen, of course this allows the developers to give it the full movie'esque feel. The game is stuffed with high quality cut scenes (even just taking a lift the camera angles add to the tension) and top notch voice acting. If you like big open feel games then this isn't for you, it is a linear story with high production values.

So are there any week points? Yes. As great as the gameplay is there has obviously been pressure put on the developers to make the single player game longer. About 70% into the game this results in some Halo style levelling. You know the type, lots of rooms the same that need to be cleared. For about an hour the game does become repetitive. I had to step away at this point and have a break. I was very worried that this was how they were going to end the game but thankfully they didn't. The first 70% is a fantastic journey with numerous different situations to fight your way through and the last 15% is the same. It looks like all the creative juice went into these elements and they just strapped on that middle bit to keep the marketers happy. Luckily unlike the first Halo this repetition only last an hour so it's well worth battling through it for the spectacular last few levels.

My only other minor gripe is with the difficulty. This is a common problem with modern games. They make the early levels easy enough to sucker the gamer in but then instead of a gradual difficulty curve they just go "right, try and beat that!" I was flying through it until the last 2 levels where all of a sudden I had to be very careful with ammo and staying in cover a lot more.

So all in all it's an excellent game. If you've got the first then it's a must buy to see how the story continues. At £35 (from Amazon) some might see it as an expensive 10-11 hours of entertainment? When you work it out I think it compares well to any DVD you'd buy plus there's also the small matter of online play. If you enjoy playing a game to see a very entertaining story unravel before you then you'll be struggling to do better than Gears of War 2.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Parents Evening

It's L's parents evening tonight. A chance for all the mums and dads* to go to the school and hear the teachers sprout a load of shit about what changes will be made in upcoming weeks that never actually happen but it makes them feel better like they're providing you as a parent with some feedback on your child's progress. It is in short a fucking great waste of time for all but the parents of naughty little shits, who lets face it don't care anyway and won't turn up. If you want little Johnnies mum and dad to know what a disruptive little fuckwit the kid is then why not just drag them in instead of having the whole school turn up, or is that classed as discrimination these days?

The thing is that both me and wife know how L is doing in school. We look at her homework, we talk to her. It works quite well. Tonight we'll get in from work, rush our tea, spend ages looking for a park. Spend even more time sat in a room on tiny chairs waiting for the form tutor to get around to us (they are always way behind schedule, ALWAYS). Finally he will tell us that L is doing fine, ask us if we have any concerns** and then let us get on our way. It's then a case of trying to navigate the car out of the inevitable cluster fuck of a parking situation. Wouldn't this work better if they just sent home a report (which they do) and if your kid is causing/having problems they have you in to talk about it?

*Do many other dads actually go to these things? I've been to every parents evening L has ever had and there's normally at most 2-3 other blokes there? I know my dad never went to any of mine.

**Of course you're not allowed to say anything at this point. Criticise the teacher and be damned. I'll never ever forget when I brought up how L couldn't read properly. I was then told that when it comes to reading it's not reading the actual words that are there that's important but rather just getting a gist of what the sentence is about. At that point we took it upon ourselves to teach L the art of reading the actual words. That teacher is now a headmistress FFS

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dear Diary

My very first blog started off as a Dear Diary sort of thing, and then a few friends and eventually strangers started reading it. (When I say a few strangers, I really mean 5 or 6; not the dizzy heights that LC & Annie get). So with my new found “fame” I started to embellish by daily scribbles. As they say: Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

Then I started telling jokes, or at least recycling jokes I found off the internet and writing them as if I was in them and using relatives and friends as subjects. This was HILARIOUS…. At least I thought so, but when the “relatives” found out, they didn’t. Long Story Short: LOADS of Shouting and tears, and no one speaking to me. It took 2 years or so for it to be “forgotten” and never spoken of again.

So this Manx Lads was devised for two reasons, my anonymity from relatives and the fact with 4 of us posting we should get at least a blog a week up. Not that that happens often.

Anyway, as I can’t think of any rants, I am going to revert to my old Dear Diary on a Monday morning. So please ignore these boring posts, but as Civil Service Monkey riding the Gravy Train to retirement it will give me something to do.

Friday Night was the usual “Married with Kids” night. I drank Pear Cider and played Halo with the 4 year old online. Then drank more cider and played cards with the wife.

Saturday morning was the Rugby League World Cup; alas England blew it in the second half, but they have a second chance this week in the semi finals. Mind you, the way Australia are playing I wouldn’t give them much of a chance IF they get through to the final. Saturday afternoon was Rugby Union; with the new look Johnson side. I must admit they looked good. We can’t tell truthfully how well they’ve improved until they come up against the Tri-Nations squads, but the “black three” were excellent.

Then I managed to get some time on my latest Xbox 360 game: Viking. Although very simple, it looks good and the death scenes are excellent. Anyway, it was a tenner on eBay and only has to last till Christmas when I’ll get my hands on Fallout 3. Which is getting excellent reviews; including one that said it was a cross between Duke Nuke ’em, Oblivion & Gears of War. Which is praise indeed.

The evening was rounded off watching Tat on TV (ie X-Factor) and drinking Vodka.

Sunday morning was more Xbox, followed by going to see Igor with the little’un. Trust me, avoid it like the plague. That was pretty much it apart from the obligatory Sunday Roast all washed down with 2 bottles of Red Wine.

After re reading it, it’s just drivel. I won’t summit you to anymore of this as it bored the arse of me and I lived it. Still I’ve wrote this so this one goes up.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Living On The Edge

It's bloody stressful all this making money from the internet thing. Life goes up and down round and round and you hold on, partly shitting it, partly knowing that tomorrow could be the day....

Take today for example. One of my nice little side earners is referring people to bookmakers. Online gambling is big business these days and getting people signed up is a fairly easy way of making a few pound. There are that many online bookies out there that being positive about one is normally enough to get your signup. The problem is that most work on the basis of revenue share. So if your new gambler loses money you take a percentage of what he looses, but if he wins then a percentage of that comes from your earnings. You never owe the bookie money but you can end up with a big negative balance, it's all just part of the fun!

So I've been doing this for a few years now and have a lot of signups. Most are small time average Joe's who gamble a few pound here and there and over that time I've made "enough". Then about 2 months ago I must have referred a real pro. Somebody who spends big and wins big. In a matter of weeks they wiped out my entire earnings. Cooont! It was a bad day, put it down to experience and get on with it. What that money was sidelined for will just have to wait.

But back to today. I just checked and last week I must have referred an even bigger loser (or 2). They are losing money hand over fist and making me good money. How would an extra £50-£60 a day in your bank account feel? This guy or guys just love spending. This is where the fun starts though. I can't cash out until the end of the month, in that time he/they could win big. However I could spend that cash now on the basis that it's coming. It would go a long way to covering Christmas.

What do I do, spend spend spend or just leave it and pretend that money doesn't exist? If I put it on credit now and the money doesn't come then that's another lump to find next month.

Sometimes just having a normal job might be nice.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A game of chicken

The traffic lights outside the office are being replaced. The job that started on Sunday that took nine Dept. of Transport workers to stand around whilst two worked (it's coming up to Christmas after all - so everyone wants a slice of overtime) is now in its third day.

Just two bods are now frantically puzzling over the mess of wires that sprout from the top of the traffic lights - trying to fix them up before an accident happens. Because now this busy stretch of road has become a scene from Death Race 2008 - with the pedestrians trying to cross and the cars/lorries/vans daring them to take that first step to cross the road.

The cars actually speed up if they see pedestrians making their wat to the crossing. Speed up to scare them off - and ensure they don't have to slow down and delay their journey by ten seconds. In some wierdly perverse social experiment I stand at the window, coffee in hand, and watch this devolvement of human spirit as car vs person takes on a grisly spectacle.

So place your bets now. The white van vs the hassled office worker - who will come out the winner?