VSX, A shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist: Starbuck Powersurge - a young loner on a crusade to champion the cause of Viper Squad Ten, a long-disbanded group of stranded timetravelling troubadours, formed to help finance repairs to their time-machine. Now very much stuck in C21...
All text is copyright the Viper Squad Ten blog team 2003-2006 unless otherwise quoted or credited. If we've not credited you properly, please let me know. Throw us a link if you're desperate enough to use this guff...
Not nicking all my ideas from Battlestar Galactica...
People are always coming up to me and saying "Starbuck, your blog is all well and good, but surely you've stolen all of your names and that from Battlestar Galactica". These people are imbeciles. They just can't handle the truth.
Firstly, the name Starbuck. I come from the future, and the two Battlestar Galactica serials were made a long time ago in the relative-past. It's all coincidence. And I don't look like either of these two people:
The three Starbucks do get together sometimes, however, and here's the evidence, if indeed it is needed:
(I'm the one taking the photo!)
Secondly, the name Viper Squad Ten. Another coincidence. So Starbuck and his/her fellow starfighter pilots happen to be a part of a squadron of Vipers. You might as easily accuse us of ripping off Viper Squad, the erstwhile enemies of MANTA force, a successful toyline and comic-strip. And although I may have owned a Venom album, I've never travelled in a red spaceship with that monicker.
Thirdly, my occasional use of the word "frack". I was shocked to see the expletives "frack", "frack-head" and "motherfracker" being used on the All New Battlestar Galactica Show in much the same manner as myself.
Obviously, we're all just big fans of Trogg, the yo-yo wielding caveman star of the 1980's BBC Micro computer game Frak!, whose demise would turn the speech-bubble air blue with a frustrated "Frak!".
Happy to say that Omid Djalili (Britain's finest Iranian stand-up comedian)'s performance at Birmingham's Alexander Theatre (as part of his "No Agenda" tour) was utterly fantastic. Likeable, thought-inspiring and fracking funny.
Whatever your creed or race, in an ever-more polarised world we all need a few more spokesmen like Mr Djalili to help prevent us from blowing each other up.
Still, what's the big news? Search Engine Watch predicted this back on April 1st 2002 ("New GoogleStocks and GooglePages web building feature unveiled..."). Oh, erm, yes. April Fools Day. (But wasn't Gmail first announced on an April Fools Day?)
Epilogue: This post was brought to you specifically to rile my co-editor Stuart. To quote a recent email...
Good old touchy feely non-corporate, bean bag sitting, lava lamp lighting, anti-capitalist Google.
You are such Googapologist. Your blog is sickening in its consistent justification of them.
A Moran Dilemma
Not long after they went on sale, I booked two tickets to go see Dylan Moran on his "Like, Totally" tour when it hits the Wild West Midlands. Yes, Dylan Moran, one of the greatest stand-up comics there is, and star of Black Books, Shaun of the Dead, and, erm, A Cock & Bull Story (briefly).
Mr Moran is one of the two comedians I'd most wanted to see for a long time, and I was dead excited getting a pair of decent tickets for this now-sold out show.
Unfortunately, something's "cropped up", and I won't be able to attend. The dilemma:
Should I put the tickets on e-bay? It would certainly help my current lack of funds, and it would help make up for my disappointment? however I loathe people who tout tickets in such a selfish manner. Still, it would make someone very happy. I can imagine their joy as the top bid is accepted... and mine!
Or should I return the tickets to the box office, knowing all too well that the box office in question doesn't do cash refunds (they would "credit" my account for future shows)?
Or do you, dear reader, want to buy them cost price (so long as you can get to the venue OK)?
Please help me, as I do not know what to do.
One consolation - tonight I'm off to see the other comedian "I'd most wanted to see for a long time" - star of stage and screen, Omid Djali. Should be wonderful...
VSX merchandising opportunity
Thanks to Bob Francisco of Chilli & Crackers fame for pointing me in the direction of Snapshirts.com - a place where you can get T-shirts woven out of the content of your website, or something. So this is what the all-seeing gods of the network think of my shrine... this is what Viper Squad Ten is really all about...
Please start a queue for your very own VSX t-shirt...
Prints and the No Power Generation
I received a "technical support call" from Mrs Powersurge this morning. The printer wasn't working. She'd been battling away with it all morning.
Adopting the voice of Roy from the IT Crowd, I asked "Have you turned it off and on yet?"
The human amongst you may find that all too much. The true Voice of Starbuck comes from a little way north of the Watford Gap, and to be honest it reads much better than normal when put through the appropriate filter. Fookin' roight! All of the web should be read this way!
More lingo's universally translated over at The Universal Translator. OK, I know its as old as the hills, and even I've written about it before, but what the hell, its FUNNEEEE!
Configuring Firefox to check for new page versions at each load
Right, the last few days technical problems have really been getting on my manbreasts. Not only am I inconsolable that possibly the greatest piece of weblog wordsmithery (written by yours truly in response to Comments on my last posting) has been culled before my very eyes, but I am devastated that my plucky band of readers (2) had difficulty etching their own thoughts under the article in question. There's so many terrible things going on in the world, but this takes the biscuit, and I like biscuits.
The upshot of all this is that I've found a quick-and-easy way to force Firefox to check for a new version every time a webpage is loaded, as opposed to the default behaviour of loading pages from the browser cache "unless the page is out of date".
I'd noticed a few weeks back that Mozilla's finest had started displaying older versions of my blog. Days after posting up my usual "wit" and "wisdom" I'd fire up the browser, only to find an "out of date" version of the page, and only a forced "F5" reload would bring it up to date. Most annoying.
Unbeknownst to me, typing about:config in the address bar brings up a complete list of Firefox settings.
From there, changing browser.cache.check_doc_frequency to 1 convinces Firefox to look for an updated version every time a page is viewed. Zero checks once every browser session, perhaps better for a clunky old computer such as mine. 3 checks automatically, intermittently, or in my case not at all. And 2 is only for people who can't cope with change...
A brand new blog. # Da da da daaaar.! #
It seems that my wife has started reading my blog. I knew I shouldn't have used it as my homepage in Firefox! I know this, as she has voiced some concerns about a number of editorial decisions that I have made recently.
Fair enough, one of them was my self-description as a "young loner" within the about-me blurb on that there sidebar on the left. I'm not a loner, I'm married.
But then again, so was Michael Knight (the inspiration for the text), in the episode The Scent Of Roses. That was, until his wife was shot, so perhaps the comparison should end there. Interestingly, David Hasselhoff was actually married to Catherine Hickland who played his lover Stevie Mason. And Catherine Hickland later married a man named MICHAEL E. KNIGHT! IN REAL LIFE!
But I digress.
I shall forthwith be changing my Firefox homepage, and changing the name of this blog. That'll fox her.
I've just been laughed at (with) by a work colleague who was passing in the corridor.
Laughed at. For no reason.
Admitedly myself and this person have had a number of nonsensical exchanges before. She speaks at me, and for some reason I can't understand a word she says. I don't think I've ever resolved a single one of her sentences - there's something blocking me from making language out of her words.
Its not an accent thing. As far as I can tell, she's got uses standard English pronunciation, with no detectable regional inflection.
I must presume that everything she has ever heard me say has been equally mystifying. Or perhaps her brain assembles my own seemingly-random string of words into something approximating an Eddie Izzard set. So we've ended up just pulling funny "friendly" faces at each other and grunting.
If I wasn't such a sensible chap it'd be easy to get paranoid. But ever since I wandered into a chip shop having forgotten that I'd got the "c-word" written on my forehead in biro, funny looks get me wondering what's on my face...
Tears, beers and tobogganeers
Well, we've finally handed the keys for our old place back to the landlords. We spent some time alone in the property before their scheduled arrival time, ostensibly to do some last-minute cleaning, but in reality to wander through the property's empty shell and to "say goodbye".
A strange feeling - I found myself welling up with tears. We're going to miss that little place. Despite it's many drawbacks, it was good to us. And seeing it empty of our clutter, walls scrubbed clean, it was like the first time that we met (i.e. the two Powersurges with the property)... Anyway, I took a load of photos on Mrs P's phone as keepsakes.
Christ, I think need to get our more.
Talking of which, this weekend we checked out some of the "local amenities" in our new neighbourhood. OK, we checked out the nearest pub & chip shop.
Not ideal:The chippie was closing when we got to it - NINE-THIRTY ON A SATURDAY NIGHT! Still, they offered to warm us up a pie. A pie on its own. Brilliant.
Much better:Our local pub does a very nice beer, Slaughterhouse Hog Mix Special (ABV 4.3%), a "light brown blended bitter". Like all the best ales it goes straight down to your silly! Great stuff.
Good first impressions of the local, too. Although its one of those places which you'd definitely think not just twice but thrice about going into if you could actually see in through the windows, it had a good, utterly unpretentious atmosphere. Best of all they were playing some seriously spaced-out dub (makes you wonder what they were putting in the Hog Mix Special).
Towards the end of the evening, Mrs Powersurge was nobly getting some drinks in at the bar when she managed to convince one of the locals that she was a seasoned bobsled rider. Accidentally. Well, bobsledding, tobogganing, its the almost the same, isn't it?
No, it isn't, judging by these two webgames: the Candystand Online Bobsled Game is just shod. Possibly because I'm useless at it, and possibly even more so because the "death" sequence is really starting to grate.
Much better is Toboggan Jump!# Fairly amusing with sound (don't skip the intros), even if, as per usual, I'm shite at it!
New Home Improvement
As a new home-owner, I'd like to share a few quick-and-easy DIY tips with anyone else moving into a new house without the time to deal with those itty-bitty home repairs.
Are you living within a cold climate? Are there gaps between your external windows and the window frame? Do you have patio doors which don't snugly meet from top to bottom? Can't be arsed to fit proper draft excluders straight away?
Then get some masking tape to keep the chill at bay. It's cheap, quick and efficient.
Has your new house got a dripping tap? Not got round to fitting a new washer as yet? Do you feel that you're becoming agitated at its intermitent but relentless flow, wasting money, and destroying the environment?
Don't force it (faucet). Instead, put a pint glass underneath the tap. You'll get a free glass of water whenever you most need it, and a constant reminder of the important of hydration.
Don't ncessarily leave it until the glass is full - dihydrogen-monoxide is less effectively utilised by the body when the intake mechanism is binge-drinking.
Get my Dad round. Vraiment il est Monsieur Bricolage!
 The cat may have got co-editor DJ Tim's tongue recently, but he's not ripped out his heart... the following message comes courtesy of DJT, a gift for those of you Brits with terrestrial digital TV access (i.e. not me) to pass on via the wonders of freeview to your loved ones this Valentines Day. Myself, I'm just going to have to stick with diamonds... gah!
Teletext is launching a new birthday and anniversary service on Freeview. To celebrate this launch, we're offering a free Valentines service on Monday and Tuesday of next week. Viewers can book, over the internet, a time slot for a personal valentine?s message to appear during their loved one's favourite ITV or C4 program (inc. ITV2, ITV3, More4, E4 etc). So, if the favourite program is The Bill or Shameless a personal message of love will appear during that program (or for 30 minutes within that program).
Blah blah blah.... We have made around 12,000 free message slots available... Blah blah... this is just my co-editor doing a spot of advertising, surely...
To book just go to: http://www.teletextmessages.co.uk and pick a slot from the list of TV programme options. Please don?t be greedy and take more than one slot though - everyone should get a chance to be romantic during valentines!!
# Mr Powersurge now has broadband Tra la la la laaaa la-lar la laaaa 'Tis the reason to be jolly Tra la la la laaaa la-lar la laaaa #
I tell you, coming from a crummy old dial-up connection it's a bit scary having all this internetrickery flowing through the home computer. I somehow feel like I'm hanging on by the seat of my "pants". Now I know how Dana Barrett felt in Ghostbusters, or Rose Tyler in Doctor Who. It's like I can feel combined power of Zool and the space time vortex surging through me.
Shame the sound's now gotten buggered on my PC... videos... music.... not for me! And my free hard-drive space is smaller than my Gmail account. Bah!
I feel like such a berk at work today.
My obsessional application of deodorant in the morning has already been well-chronicled. Having noticed that the armpit fabric on my work-shirts is getting quite damaged by the gallons of Mitchum which are slapped on every day, I decided this morning to put a t-shirt under my work-shirt (something I used to do religiously but have recently gotten out of the habit). My work-shirt just happened to be a blue short-sleeve shirt.
I've since noticed that the sleeves on my t-shirt are significantly longer than those on my work shirt, and I've got these ridiculous white cuff-like things hanging out the end.
Although Blogger's a lot more reliable than it used to be (the site URL is fatcityarizona.blogspot.com rather than vipersquadten purely due to technical problems on April 23 2003, it can still be a bit of a pain at times. But can't we all.
One thing I've noticed over the last few months is that reader Comments, that rarest of thing when you're a billy-no-mates like me, aren't always being flagged up on either the front screen or the post item screen, but are sometimes only visible on the "Post Your Own Comment" pop-up. A bit of a pain.
Not sure if its related to the recent downtime, but very occasionally they're not even forwarded onto my email.
And that is all - no amusing joke at the end this time to excuse the previous 3 paragraphs of dryness. But what a title!
VSX gets fundamental on your ass. Again.
If there's one thing that annoys me more than religious people making a bit of a din about their supernatural claptrap (in my humble opinion which will probably earn me a place in hell), it's when such poppycock is forcibly shoved down my throat (such as when I'm told that I'm going to be going to hell).
Christians, Muslims, Sikhs - illiberal swathes of each have been making waves in the UK recently, trying to wash away our freedom to think. It's like a competition to see which of the Great Cults can infringe on the most liberties.
OK, I don't want to upset anyone's feelings, but certain sections of the religious fraternity seem so desperate to be upset and insulted by those that don't think the same way as them. And some sections are just poisonous. Hello "Christian Voice".
Well I feel insulted by the existence of most religions to be honest (with the exception of Buddhism which is just too deeply attuned to mind management to be in any way insulting. I wish I was a Buddhist). Yeah, I know that irrational belief has necessarily evolved to lift humanity from its primitive beginnings - that's all well and good, although I wish that we the global community could now transcend the medieval level that it's gotten stuck at.
Nope, but I'm insulted that any religious group has the right to censor what I can or can't think or do. Blasphemy does not exist. You might as well argue that you can't insult Santa Claus because some people believe in him (still, it doesn't mean to say that I'd want to insult the little poppets for it either).
Fundamentalism by whatever name polarises everything around it, not just those belligerently sticking to their beliefs. God knows We need some softer edges right now.
That said, it's true that I fundamentally know that I am correct in my own beliefs, and that anyone who believes in the supernatural is coming from a position of ignorance, social conditioning, and psychological evolutionary predilection, but that doesn't mean I should start picketing the churches, temples & synagogues...
Sorry. Perhaps this is all a bit controversial in this modern world of ours, where people don't even "believe" in evolution (as if belief is necessary). But we've got to stand firm for freedom of speech, so despite the recent uproar in the Muslim world over the publication of cartoons in the European press, I shall not be deterred from publishing an image of the Profit Mohamed:
There's a lot of flexing of muscles going on in the media at the moment - let's fact it, there's nothing more fun than being able to kick down the share prices of a net behemoth - but come on, can you imagine any other big information company trying to do the right thing in this situation?