Viper Squad Ten
We're from the future. And we're stuck....
......VSX......                                                                                                              ......Been a little bit quiet lately......                                                                                                                                                                    

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...

Sometimes guest editors: Mr Stu and DJ Tim.

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Now that's magic!
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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...

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[ Friday, June 30, 2006 ]

Download older Zonealarm versions compatible with unsupported operating systems here!
Starbuck [13:00] Comments: 2 []
Yes, it's one of those articles.

ANTIQUATED. OBSOLETE. That's what my Windows operating system apparently is.

My ZoneAlarm firewall (version 6.1.744.001, aka 61_744_001_en.exe) prompted that I update to the new version (6.5.722.000). As it often does.

However when I tried running the executable I was told:
This version of ZoneAlarm is not compatible with the Windows 98/Windows ME Operating System. The installation will now stop. To download a compatible version, or learn more, please visit:
Fair enough, I thought. My OS is fairly creaky, perhaps they're branching into Pre-XP and post-XP versions. I followed the link.

Windows 98/98SE/Me Support Discontinued

Dear Windows 98/98SE/Me Customer,

Zone Labs, L.L.C. supports a balanced, multi-layered approach to security. An important part of this approach includes keeping software updated with the latest security patches.

Support Discontinued
On July 11, 2006, Microsoft will end support for Windows 98, 98SE and Me, which will have the resulting effect of making these operating systems less secure ( Windows 98/Me are older operating systems, and are therefore inherently more vulnerable to attacks than newer operating systems. Now that Microsoft will no longer provide security updates to these operating systems any PC running them will become increasingly prone to security vulnerabilities.

Accordingly, Zone Labs will cease to support Windows 98/98SE/Me with the introduction of our version 6.5 ZoneAlarm family of products including ZoneAlarm® Internet Security Suite, ZoneAlarm® Pro, ZoneAlarm® Antivirus, ZoneAlarm® Anti-Spyware, and ZoneAlarm®.

Note about pre-6.5 products:

  • Pre-6.5 products will continue to run on the Windows 98/98SE/Me operating system. However, there are a few new and advanced protection features in ZoneAlarm products that will not run due to technical limitations of this operating system. Zone Labs strongly recommends upgrading to a supported and current version of the Windows operating system.
  • Zone Labs may end services to pre-6.5 products at any time.

There are no plans to discontinue support for any other Microsoft operating systems. This announcement applies to consumer products only and does not affect enterprise products.

Nothing at all about downloading a compatible version; the only option offered being to buy a compatible operating system. Bad Check Point; naughty Zone Labs.

OK, so I use the free version of ZA (I'd be mightily narked if I'd just forked out for Pro), and the important part - the inbound firewall - works just as well without whatever bells and whistles they're offering, remaining fundamentally the same, and AYCE!

It's the excuse that narks me. It is just an excuse not to spend money on continuing support for the older systems.

But the inexcusable thing is that they don't make pre 6.5 versions clearly available to download from their website for those Windows users who don't want to throw their money at Microsoft.

Personally I can't afford an OS upgrade and am putting off getting a new computer as long as is humanly possible.

Still reading? Still looking for a copy of the 6.1 version of free Zonealarm? Or need to reinstall? Then head thee over to the software's release history page:

[ Wednesday, June 28, 2006 ]

Last night I dreamt I was looking up Billy Idol's entry...
Starbuck [12:12] Comments: 0 []
... on Wikipedia, in search of information on "ace guitarist" Steve Stevens.

I woke up with Debbie Harry's "French Kissing in the USA" lodged firmly on my internal jukebox, it bearing a striking musical resemblance to Idol's "Eyes Without A Face".

I need to get out more in my dreams.

[ Monday, June 26, 2006 ]

This Week I have Mostly Been
Starbuck [17:48] Comments: 10 []
  • Vacuum cleaners
  • Paintings
  • Portable hard disk drives
  • Sow feed
  • Swingball
  • Sausages

Listening to:
  • Superman by Black Lace (format: internal jukebox)

  • My thumb (tool: kitchen knife)

[ Friday, June 23, 2006 ]

Put Me Together Again (and the alternative programming opportunities offered by Big Brother)
Starbuck [13:42] Comments: 0 []
I've got a theory that Channel 4 are using the nightly screening of Big Brother as tool for the public good, as opposed to it being a cynical cash cow.

They've been sneaking some good documentaries into the schedule after BB, no doubt hoping that they will adopt a fresh audience who might not otherwise switch on.

Last night's turn was "Put Me Together Again", an affecting documentary filmed over a year at the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust, a specialist unit in Liverpool. It followed the efforts of doctors, psychologists and carers as they sought to retrieve the lost personalities of brain injury victims.

The film focussed on two stories. One patient, Robert, was something of a character, blighted by obsessive hoarding and collecting following a stroke.

However the main story belonged to Kay, a 37-year old mother who suffered brain damage in a mugging 5 years earlier, and who could only recall memories formed within the last 5 minutes, aside from snapshots of her life from before the attack. With the help and patience of the staff at the unit, as well as the invaluable support from her daughter and mother, Kay's situation was slowly but gradually improving. Watching the family coping as best they could made me feel very humbled; it was especially hard watching the poor daughter Jess, trying to coming to terms with the grief of her mother's transformation, whilst needing immense strength to help her mother climb back. And every time her mother will then forget who she is, remembering her not as this young adult but as an 11-year-old child.

I cried.

And then I gave my sleeping wife such a hug, as I realised just how blessed my life is right now.

Bad reviews
Starbuck [13:39] Comments: 0 []
My co-editor Stu has told me that he enjoyed my recent review of Green Day's American Idiot, mainly because for once I wrote that something wasn't "brilliant".

And with that, I bring you: The Bad Reviews
  • Coldplay - A Rush of Blood to the Head (album) - listened to just the once, and that was more than enough. Boring boring BORING! Overwrought, and on the radio, overplayed (you just end up wanting to fast forward through the singles, then of course the few non-single tracks can't really compete).

    I saw them play at the latest Brit Awards, and I swear it was Simple Minds up on stage. We don't need another Simple Minds. We never needed a Simple Minds in the first place...

  • Black Eyed Peas - Elephunk (album) - phunking terrible. Again, following a single play-through I have no intention whatsoever of listening to it again. Bastards.

  • Razorlight (band) - Razorshite more like.

  • Richard "Jovi" Ashcroft (singer) - did some good stuff in The Verve. But the humourless god-botherer nowadays just wants to be a cowboy, and we shouldn't stand in his way.

  • Dizzee Rascal - Boy in Da Corner (album) - not too enjoyable.

    However the follow-up, Showtime, was brilliant!
More soon, badness fans!

Operation: Mindcrime
Starbuck [10:29] Comments: 0 []
Once more Tony Blair weighs in on the injustices of the criminal justice system.

He will apparently state today that "Crime, immigration, security, because of the emotions inevitably raised, the headlines that scream, the multiplicity of the problems, we desperately, urgently need a rational debate from first principles".

But let's face it, New Labour is operated by focus group, the chief participants being the tabloid news editors.

Fear of crime is rising, whilst the overall incidence is falling (down 43% since 1995 according to the British Crime Survey). Look at the recent tabloid outrage over knife crime - all this political bluster was generated, but the actual levels remain unchanged.

It's all become so predictable as a long-term watcher of the pronouncements made by Blair and New Labour. The government is so desperate to be "on message" with the opinions of the British electorate at large that they're basically being dictated to by the mass-selling poison-seeding tabloid newspapers. And that makes me angry. Grrr.

Cue government minister Gerry Sutcliffe this week being sent to the States to look at how the implementation of Megan's Law has worked (or not) out there. Utterly unnecessary but utterly predictable, an attempt to assuage the tabloids that they are trying to do something about this state of "the British Paedoph-Isles".

In other news, today is apparently the happiest day of the year.

So smile, sing, and rejoice!

[ Thursday, June 22, 2006 ]

Wednesday 22nd June - its all downhill from here...
Starbuck [17:46] Comments: 0 []
Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere had better start lighting our balefires...

Yesterday the Earth was at a point in its orbit where the northern hemisphere is most tilted towards the sun, causing the sun to appear at 23.45 degrees above the celestial equator, and thus making its highest path across the sky.

Its at this time of year that the Sun God Belenus begins to die. Hopefully He will return again at the Winter Solstice, when the Yule logs and lit fir-braches will guide His return. However for now He's going to find it increasingly hard getting up in the morning and staying up. Just like me.

So get ritualising, and get thee to Wicca wicca Wild Wild Weston-Super-Mare for your beach bonfires. Its witchtastic!


Starbuck does not actually endorse Neopaganism or any other form of religious belief. But he does quite like the "physical and emotional sensation" of ancient traditions.


This article does not apply to those living within the Southern Hemisphere - you can please yourselves!

[ Wednesday, June 21, 2006 ]

Timeframe - 11 days backwards - Image Capture [Cheshire Road Trip]
Starbuck [11:45] Comments: 0 []

System Of A Down - Hypnotize - Stunning, well-crafted, intricate and melodically powerful masterpiece. Dangerous to listen to whilst driving up the M6. Vital in message and viewpoint.

Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not - you know how good this one is!

Muse - Absolution - Perfectly bombastic and OTT, crackling with power and beauty. Wonderful.

Green Day - American Idiot - Suprisingly unengaging, despite the fab singles, and some exciting instrumental moments.

Approaching Jodrell Bank Observatory

The Lovell Telescope

Jodrell Bank Arboretum

Tegg's Nose Country Park

Happy Deflated Birthday!

Later that day in New Mills... (VSX - Sunday 11th June)

Lots more photographs available from my UK Flickr Set.

[ Sunday, June 18, 2006 ]

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Timelord
Starbuck [20:55] Comments: 4 []
One of the impressive things about the new imcarnation of Doctor Who is how the show manages to stay so fresh, whilst (mostly) dealing with mature themes in an accessible manner. I've written before about how it will be seeding "progressive" thinking into the minds of the young, and that continues to be the case.

This week's episode was "Love and Monsters", and whilst the Doctor and Rose were hardly in it, their reverberations were echoing all throughout.

OK OK, I'm running out of time here (got an episode of Lost to catch), so I'll reveal the rough notes that I drafted in late-night discussion with Mrs Powersurge over this:

"Wonderfully different & fresh. Much like Boom Town (hidden gem upon repeated viewing). Adult consideration of themes such as the repression of bad memories - and only afterwards did I realise that the incidental music being repeated throughout during Mark Warren's "love" excitement scenes was the theme from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Good blow job joke.

[ Saturday, June 17, 2006 ]

Rose glassoo
Starbuck [22:11] Comments: 0 []
Roses through glass - from Flickr
Another view from our ground-floor front window

There's a monkey in the jungle watching a vapour trail...
Starbuck [21:49] Comments: 0 []
caught up in the conflict between his brain and his tail...

Vapour Trail 3 - Flickr
View from our ground-floor front window

[ Wednesday, June 14, 2006 ]

Honeymoon photo-log
Starbuck [18:00] Comments: 2 []
Ang Thong National Marine Park It took over a year, but the photos from our honeymoon are now available in a nice Flickr Set where they can be enjoyed in all their glory - blown up large, spread out across a flashy slideshow, whatever takes your fancy.

Just to whet your whistle, I've reproduced them here in Thumbnailovision. Click on a photo to zoom to it's page on Flickr.

You'll note that some of the thumbnails on VSX are smaller in size - these are the ones that have been locked as "Private" within Flickr. To view these you'll need to be logged in as one of my Flickr Contacts (there's a free and easy sign-up for Flickr; to gain access to the secrets held therein just throw me a request via the site). Sorry about the netparanoia - not only am I trying to shield my network identity from passing Timecops, but I'm also much too much of an ugly bugger for my picture to be broadcast on the raw interweb...

I might treat you to some further textual descriptions of our Holiday Of A Lifetime at a later date. Or a later decade. But in the meantime there's varying levels of description on each individual photo page.

In brief: Our holiday started with a stay in Bangkok, staying at the Landmark - a "luxurious 5 star hotel on fashionable Sukhumvit Road, in the heart of Thailand's exciting capital, and handily positioned for the Skytrain monorail"...
Bangkok skyline Bangkok skyline Bangkok skyline Bangkok skyline Pool with a view Sitting by the pool, half-way up the skyscraper View from the deckchair Smile! The armpit photograph! Indoor Palm More Palmistry Bangkok girls! Rambutan Seller Flower Seller Floating Market Rush hour Fruit seller Mind the wake! Gaining speed Cross-canal Spirit house Lost Waterside residence Overtaking! Port, not Starboard Hotdogging Bond-like Speed 2 Metalhead Mechanical monstrosity From car to Giger Thai or Chinese? A piece of China in Thailand Teak carving details Teak carving Please buy... Within the Grand Palace grounds Frontage of the The Chakri-Mahaprasad Hall Changing the Guard Chakri-Mahaprasad Grand Palace View from the Chao Phraya Offerings Blessings Prayer Lone Buddhist monk Temple of the Emerald Buddha Wat Phra Kaew Golden towers Temple Guardian Temple Guardians Grand Palace Panorama The Library The Grandest Spirit House Of Them All Grand Palace, Bangkok Harmonique Happiness is two glasses of Chang!

We then flew on to Ko Samui, where we stayed in one of the converted rice barges at the marvellous Imperial Boathouse Hotel...

Samui Airport Arrivals First time on the beach! Storm on the Horizon Monsoon brewing in the distance Skeletal wood Choeng Mon restaurants Fishing boat View from the Boathouse The Boathouse Pool The new wife admiring her curry Coconut, curry and Chang Beachside Boat Pool by night Boat inversed View from the beach Cannon and Ball Room with a perfect view View from our deck View across the pool across the sea Man versus cannon The watchtower Relaxing by the cannon with a good book Grounded rice barge... Barge to the side Get off my boat... "She's the King (Queen) of the World" Sideways view across our deck The Fly! Stairway out The living room The lounge area The bedroom The bathroom Low view Imperial Boathouse breakfast room... View from the road Without walls Reception Lazing by the Boat Pool... Breakfast grin Garden Pool 4 Garden Pool 3 Garden Pool 2 Garden Pool 1 Garden Pool 5 "We wanna be togetha!" Spiderman versus the Green Goblin Garden Pool 6 Garden Pool 6 Tropical fountain Approaching the fountain Boathouse garden Pina Colada Girl Beer Boy A quick rest for sundown And then back to the bar... Elvis Thai dancers 3 Thai dancers 2 Thai dancers 1 Thai dancer Too much to drink... View from the Captain's Table Boat Pool by Night Fountain By Night Night Monkeys Garden Pool by Night Drunken Nightime Beach Haze 3 Drunken Nightime Beach Haze 2 Drunken Nightime Beach Haze 1 Wet tootsies Proxy Pet Beach Restuarant 2 Beach Restaurant Mind the sunburn! Pool or restaurant Choeng Mon 1 Choeng Mon 4 Choeng Mon 3 Choeng Mon 2 Choeng Mon 5 Choeng Mon 6 Girl on stilts Grey Bag Man Fashion Icon Bathing Beauty Clinging On Jetski Bond-like Bondalike Distant View of Wife 3 Distant View of Wife 2 Distant View of Wife 1 Three Boats High tide on Choeng Mon Jeepers! Rooty Jungle Explorer Indiana Jones... Monkey see Monkey do 12 monkeys over 3 Spot the Monkey competition Bearing the load Approaching the launchpad Mother and child View from a Mother Elephant 2 View from a Mother Elephant 1 Clinging on for dear life... View from a Mother Elephant 3 Elephant trekking side Elephant trekking front Three smilers The Man With The Golden Banana Feeding Time The Emperor Dalek Tong Yang beach Tong Yang beach 2 Distant marine park Tong Yang beach 4 Tong Yang beach 3 Bophut Beach 3 Bophut Beach 2 Bophut Beach 1 Boats at Bophut Happy Elephant Big Buddha statue across Bophut Bay Yachts against Koh Phan Ngan backdrop Dusk at Bophut Bay Open Side Bus journey Imperial Samui Hotel - lower pool 2 Imperial Samui Hotel - lower pool Getting athletic Imperial Samui Hotel 6 Imperial Samui Hotel 5 Imperial Samui Hotel 4 Imperial Samui Hotel 3 Imperial Samui Hotel 2 Imperial Samui Hotel 1 Jungle golf! I hate theseones! Watch the birdie! Down the snake-hole! Where did you get that hat? Mind the bumps Setting Sail from Samui Thai Fishing Boat Sheltering from the breeze... All aboard! Thai prow Island Hopper Approaching Ang Thong National Marine Park 3 Approaching Ang Thong National Marine Park 2 Approaching Ang Thong National Marine Park 1 Fishing Boat off Ang Thong 3 Fishing Boat off Ang Thong 2 Fishing Boat off Ang Thong 1 Swept Away Distant Beach 4 Distant Beach 3 Distant Beach 2 Distant Beach 1 Ang Thong - amongst the islands 9 Ang Thong - amongst the islands 8 Ang Thong - amongst the islands 7 Ang Thong - amongst the islands 6 Ang Thong - amongst the islands 5 Ang Thong - amongst the islands 4 Ang Thong - amongst the islands 3 Ang Thong - amongst the islands 2 Ang Thong - amongst the islands 1 Ang Thong - amongst the islands 19 Ang Thong - amongst the islands 18 Ang Thong - amongst the islands 17 Ang Thong - amongst the islands 16 Ang Thong - amongst the islands 15 Ang Thong - amongst the islands 14 Ang Thong - amongst the islands 13 Ang Thong - amongst the islands 12 Ang Thong - amongst the islands 11 Ang Thong - amongst the islands 10 Ang Thong National Marine Park - amongst the islands 21 Ang Thong National Marine Park - Amongst the islands 22 Ang Thong National Marine Park - Amongst the islands 23 Ang Thong National Marine Park - Amongst the islands 24 Ang Thong National Marine Park - Amongst the islands 25 Ang Thong National Marine Park - amongst the islands 26 Ang Thong National Marine Park - amongst the islands 27 Scaramanga Cruising Through NiceWife Hulk Powersurge Ang Thong from Mae Koh 1 Ang Thong from Mae Koh 2 Ang Thong from Mae Koh 3 Ang Thong from Mae Koh 4 Ang Thong from Mae Koh 5 Emerald Lake - description Emerald Lake - top viewpoint 1 Emerald Lake - top viewpoint 2 Emerald Lake - top viewpoint 3 Emerald Lake - top viewpoint 4 On the hippy trail... Extreme Close-up! Emerald Lake - top viewpoint 5 Emerald Lake - top viewpoint 6 Emerald Lake - top viewpoint 7 Emerald Lake - top viewpoint 8 Emerald Lake - top viewpoint 9 Emerald Lake - top viewpoint 10 Emerald Lake - top viewpoint 11 Emerald Lake - top viewpoint 12 Breath taken away, and taking a breather Ang Thong from Mae Koh 6 Ang Thong from Mae Koh 7 Ang Thong from Mae Koh 8 Ang Thong from Mae Koh 9 Ang Thong from Mae Koh 10 Ang Thong from Mae Koh 11 Ang Thong from Mae Koh 12 What a viewpoint! Descending to the Emerald Lake 1 Descending to the Emerald Lake 2 Descending to the Emerald Lake 3 The Source The Emerald Lake - water's edge 1 The Emerald Lake - water's edge 2 The Emerald Lake - water's edge 3 The Emerald Lake - water's edge 4 Blimey, look at the state of these two! Escape from the heat Cooling Down Boat Beach at Ko Wua Talap 1 Beach at Ko Wua Talap 2 Ko Wua Talap Beach at Ko Wua Talap 3 View from the Beach at Ko Wua Talap Ang Thong HQ 12 Langur Monkeys Langurs over Water Cartload of Langurs Baby Langur Monkey The tribe project their trajectory... The Troop Departs Mid viewpoint on Ko Wua Talap Departing Ang Thong 1 Departing Ang Thong 2 Goodbyslands Departing Ang Thong 3 Departing Ang Thong 4 Departing Ang Thong 5 Homeward bound Return to Nathon Samui Airport Departures Samui Airport Arrivals Bus to Plane

It's been wonderful reliving our honeymoon via these photos, so thank you for the opportunity (I'm talking to Tim Berners-Lee here...)

[ Complete Viper Squad Ten blog archives ]

April 2003 / May 2003 / June 2003 / July 2003 / August 2003 / September 2003 / October 2003 / November 2003 / December 2003 / January 2004 / February 2004 / March 2004 / April 2004 / May 2004 / June 2004 / July 2004 / August 2004 / September 2004 / October 2004 / November 2004 / December 2004 / January 2005 / February 2005 / March 2005 / April 2005 / May 2005 / June 2005 / July 2005 / August 2005 / September 2005 / October 2005 / November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 / February 2006 / March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 / June 2006 / July 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / October 2006 / November 2006 / December 2006 / January 2007 / February 2007 / March 2007 / April 2007 / May 2007 / June 2007 / July 2007 / August 2007 / September 2007 / October 2007 / November 2007 / December 2007 / January 2008 / February 2008 / March 2008 / June 2008 / September 2008 / May 2010 / June 2010 / July 2010 / October 2010 / November 2010 /

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[ Other blogs, from back when time was endless ]

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Diary of a Wages Slave
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Sensei Katana
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A Day In Paradise
And Then He Said...
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Boing boing
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Confessions Of A G33K
Deus Ex Machina
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Retro Remakes
Richard Herring
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