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Spectacular Meteor November 25, 2009

Posted by baldricman in astronomy, News, VOTD.
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Wow. It really takes a spectacular cosmic event to get me to blog….. Luckily for me, last Saturday, 21 Nov, there was a very bright meteor seen streaking across the skies of northern South Africa. I first was made aware of it by my brother Allen (who is “into all that stuff”), when he started trying to collect eyewitness accounts on Facebook. He had written

A spectacular Fireball over South Africa, visible from Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumulanga lit up the sky like daylight for a few seconds on Saturday night. Anybody who saw this, please message me with details? We’re trying to gather as much information as possible. I need to know time, your location, and what you saw. If you saw the actual fireball then I’m especially interested!To learn more, check http://www.planetarium.co.za

Naturally, my curiosity was aroused. Friends started responding, and most recently Allen has pointed us to this site here, which gives several excellent descriptions of people’s experiences of the phenomenon. I highly recommend you check out that site, which is where I found this video, taken from a security camera in Midrand:

 

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SA 2010 – Soccer Stadium October 26, 2009

Posted by baldricman in News, POTD, Sport.
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2 comments

Always a fan of the SA Good News site (though not the most regular visitor, to be fair), a friend sent me a link to them again. So after some browsing, I came across this nice little collection of photos showing the progress of some of the soccer stadia being built in South Africa, in readiness for next years FIFA World Cup. So, here is one picture – click on it to get to the rest, and I highly recommend a tour around the site, it really is good news!

Moses Mabhida stadium, Durban

Moses Mabhida stadium, Durban

Anna Paquin & The Brothers Streep (on Graham Norton) October 12, 2009

Posted by baldricman in Baldric-Man, music, News, VOTD.
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4 comments
Anna Paquin

Anna Paquin

I blogged briefly about Cape Town comedy band, The Brothers Streep (of Steri-Stumpie fame) a few weeks back, and today, while checking my facebook feeds, I noticed a high volume of posts about their Anna Paquin song (they have a barely-healthy obsession with the actress, it would seem).

So I faithfully checked it out, and found that their antics had not gone unnoticed! Graham Norton of the Graham Norton show on BBC 1 found the song, and played a portion of it during an interview with Anna. Then, to top it off, he managed to rustle up the band on a Skype call during the show (how the bandwidth held out is another question), and an extra verse was then performed.

So why am I posting this? Well, I kinda know one of the guys in the band, so that kinda makes me a bit of a celebrity, and I thought you should all know.

Mass Effect October 8, 2009

Posted by baldricman in Baldric-Man, Tech.
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Hi there! It’s been so long since I last posted, I could barely find the “New Post” button ๐Ÿ™‚

So, what’s been keeping me so busy? Well, apart from lots of work, an unexpectedly large tax refund, some illness here and there, and an awesome camp away in Franschhoek this past weekend with other young adults from our church…. Oh yeah, for my birthday a few weeks ago, Deems and family very kindly gave me a voucher to Kalahari.net, which after much deliberation (and I mean “much“…) was converted into two new games for the old ‘puter (much to wifey’s understandable concern)

So I got me paws on “Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth II” and “Mass Effect” (wow, what a crappy site…). Now, I know, those aren’t exactly the latest releases, but I run my games on my work laptop, which, while no slouch, is not exactly gamer’s paradise. So I’ve gotta delay a little on the titles, k? Anyway, in short, LOTR is ok. It seems cool, and I can’t find anything huge to fault it on, really, but it just doesn’t grab me either. I suspect my love of the Middle Earth setting is what *almost* saves it…. I played a few missions of that, then figured I’d try out Mass Effect.mass_effect

Wow. Right now, I’m terrified that the game is going to end. Which would be a bad thing. A quick description to bring you up to speed, if you haven’t seen it: it’s a Sci Fi Roleplaying game. You play the role of a military Commander (in the “Starfleet Alliance” or whatever it’s ย suitably predictable name is, who cares….?), and basically race around the galaxy in your ship, in your armoured terrestrial lander, or on foot, solving mysteries and blowing up aliens. Nice.

Ok but seriously, the ambience is typical Sci Fi (grand scales, yet a little moody), and so far the game seems to have reasonable depth (I’m really not sure yet that it will have the same depth as RPGs like Neverwinter Nights, for example, and in fact Mass Effect might turn out to be more like an Adventure game….. time will tell) The combat is cool and interesting (minor squad control with issuing of orders, special abilities etc), and interestingly, though the combat control appears to be First-Person Shooter, it really requires more of a strategic approach. The characters are all interesting (both played characters and NPC’s), and the dialog options are smooth and sensible.MassEffect-screeny

Anyway, the game has poor performance on my crappy laptop, but even with my reducing all graphics settings to Atari-like look & feel, it’s still great fun to play. I highly recommend it to anyone who is even vaguely interested in Sci Fi games OR in RPGs.

So, thanks Deems, it’s been a long time since I was excited about getting home to play a game ๐Ÿ™‚

World Air Travel September 23, 2009

Posted by baldricman in General, VOTD.
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2 comments

During some routine cleanup of my stuff today, I came across this old clip I received some time ago, showing the air traffic patterns around the world, over a 24-hour stretch. (I have, however, included a link to the YouTube version instead…)
It highlights all large aircraft (as yellow spots), and it is interesting to note the “swarms” and their relation to daylight times in the US and Europe, for example. This clip has been around for a while, but I’m not actually sure where it comes from, can anyone help out?

19th Century Education September 21, 2009

Posted by baldricman in General.
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3 comments

My brother sent this to me a few days ago (thanks Allen), and I found it pretty interesting. I’ve copied it below exactly as it was sent to me. (Bear in mind it’s US-based, etc)

WHAT IT TOOK TO GET AN 8TH GRADE EDUCATION IN 1895…

Remember when grandparents and great-grandparents stated that they only had an 8th grade education? Well, check this out. Could any of us have passed the 8th grade in 1895? This is the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 in Salina, Kansas, USA. It was taken from the original document on file at the Smokey Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina, and reprinted by the Salina Journal.

GRAMMAR (TIME, ONE HOUR)

1. Give nine rules for the use of capital letters.
2. Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications..
3. Define verse, stanza and paragraph
4. What are the principal parts of a verb? Give principal parts of ‘lie,”play,’ and ‘run.’
5. Define case; illustrate each case.
6 What is punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of punctuation.
7 – 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

(more…)

VOTD: Obama calls Kanye a “Jackass” September 18, 2009

Posted by baldricman in News, VOTD.
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2 comments

Haha, classic stuff. For those who don’t know, at the last MTV Video Music Awards, Kanye West hopped up on stage at the beginning of Taylor Swift‘s acceptance speech (for “Best Female Video Award”), stole the mic, and basically told everyone that Beyonce deserved to win, instead of her. As can be expected, there has been a major outcry, lots of opinions, apologies, analysis, blah blah blah. Really, I don’t care much at all, apart from some Springeresque entertainment value. And that’s where today’s video comes in. US President Barrack Obama was about to give an interview (I don’t know the details, and again, don’t really care ๐Ÿ™‚ ), and the cameras picked up some pre-interview chit chat. CNN subsequently aired it.

Classic stuff, he seems like a really funny guy. I loved the “come on guys, cut the president some slack” part!

For anyone who’s interested, check out the original Kanye West VS Taylor Swift clip below. What I find impressive, is Beyonce’s response to it all ๐Ÿ™‚

New Gadget: Sony Ericsson XPeria X1 September 13, 2009

Posted by baldricman in Tech.
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5 comments

My new XPeria arrived on Thursday, and now that I’ve had a few days to play around with it, I thought I’d share some of my initial observations on it. This is not a review, just some impressions – I don’t pretend to know much about smart phones, so if I compare two phones and get it backwards, remember this is just my opinion ๐Ÿ™‚

x1-1When selecting a new phone, I had had quite a broad range of choices, most notably between the XPeria, the HTC Touch Pro 2, one or two Nokias, and of course the iPhone. To cut a very long story short, I had not had much face-time with any of the phones, and only had user reviews to go on, as well as past experience with the different brands, and of course the price tag ๐Ÿ™‚ ย  ย My two previous phones were both Sony Ericssons, and I was more than happy with both of them. I’ve never been much of a fan of the Nokia range, and the whole iPhone software model I think is stupid. Also, (and many think I’m crazy for this part), I *wanted* a phone with Windows Mobile on it: being a .Net developer, I figured it would be handy to try my hand at some of the SDK functionality available (more on that in another post). Finally, the HTC Touch Pro 2 looked like a damn fine contender, but considering the price tag (more than double that of the X1), the few extra features were hardly convincing.

So, what is my initial impression? Basically, it’s a very cool piece of hardware.

The performance seems great so far (far, far superior to previous P990i on Symbian), and the touch screen is fine (granted, it will probably never come close to the iPhone, or so I’m told, but its perfectly functional) The QWERTY keyboard is excellent too. Interestingly, I had never held the QWERTY keyboard as a priority, but that is probably because I had never found one easy to use, and so had dismissed it completely as a viable input method. I am now converted! The camera is capable, though not important to me, and unfortunately the sound is a little soft. The connectivity (3G, HSUPA, Wifi etc) are all excellent, and extremely easy to set up. (I’m already connecting to the internet through 2 wifi networks, and then hsdpa/3g/gprs etc etc etc…. all seamlessly and automatically, with near-complete control. Something I could never quite get right on the p990i)

On the physical side, it’s a great looking phone: it’s got lots of metal bits rather than plastic, which feels great. It’s light enough not to pull your pants down, but heavy enough to feel like a real phone. It’s also not a brick, like many smart phones, and I think the size is perfect. The screen is very easy to read (though I suspect not so great in daylight, like most smart phones), and colours look great. (IIRC, only 65K, but I still believe more than that is of no real benefit. At least not for me…)

I’m still getting used to not having the standard keypad on the front, so dialling while driving, for example, is quite difficult (which is probably a good thing).

xperia-x1Ok, finally, I can’t write something about the X1 without mentioning the Panels. Panels are probably the most unique and strongest selling point of the X1, and with good reason too. Basically, think of a Panel as your default, or “home” screen. Usually, most of us will use a default panel showing the time, weather, appointments, missed calls, and a pretty background. However, you can quickly (as in, 2 “clicks”) change your panel to, say, the Skype panel, or a GPS panel, or the Radio panel, Facebook panel, etc…. Its difficult to describe it in a way that does it justice, but so far its proven to be pretty cool ๐Ÿ™‚

First Aid Training – My Face September 7, 2009

Posted by baldricman in Baldric-Man.
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9 comments

Howdy all! I completed my first day of First Aid training today (and passed my practical) – the course so far has been fairly relaxed and informal, but very interesting indeed. Also, it’s been pretty hands-on, which translates to a course that is filled with laughter and childish jokes…

Right up my alley.

Anyway, I managed to snap one quick pic of my face. Now, before you all run screaming for the hills, its a latexy face that is used during training (for hygiene etc) – the face has lips, nostrils and teeth, for realism, and fits snugly onto the CPR doll. The dollย is basically a plastic head and torso. The face is fitted to the front of the head (bizarre, I know), and secured by the ears (this was my favourite part). The doll then “inflates” when you ventilate (give mouth-to-mouth), but only if the airways are unrestricted and sealed (i.e., gotta do all the right stuff like tilting the head back just right, pinching the nostrils, making a good seal with your mouth, etc). The doll also has a big spring inside, in the chest, which is used to measure the depth and force of your compressions when administering CPR (a small gauge on the doll shows green when you are depressing correctly). So the face pictured was my victim patient, and the moment I had saved his sorry plastic life, he was turfed into a plastic bag, destined for sterilisation. Let that be a lesson to anyone planning on collapsing.

Without further ado, I give you….. Gerald:

Not creepy at all....

Not creepy at all....

Steri Stumpie Ambassadors: The Brothers Streep September 3, 2009

Posted by baldricman in music, VOTD.
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5 comments

I’ll keep this brief: For those of you not aware of the Steri Stumpie Ambassador vibe, check out www.steristumpie.com.

For those of you not familiar with the awesome “Accoustic Comedy” set, The Brothers Streep, check ’em out right here (right now!).

Right, thats the background taken care of. Now onto the video, which is The Brothers Streep’s Steri Stumpie song. (I know! An awesome combination, right?!)

Watch it, you’ll be a better person for it.

Also, check out the facebook page here, and their YouTube channel whatsit here.