AltaVista relaunches site

By Pete | @kingpetey | 13 Nov 2002

The search engine AltaVista this week relaunched its site with a new more simple and easy to use interface that is trying to help bring back visitors it has lost in recent years. Millions of visitors have left AltaVista to use its rivals sites that include Google and Yahoo. AltaVista have seen a 62% fall in visitors from 16million to 6 million in the last few years but the company is hopeful that the site can attract many of its past visitors back to the site with its new look and enhanced features. We tried the new AltaVista against Google to try to find key parts of the ImAFish site. ImAFish gets many hits from Google mainly looking for Xbot mainly. I first searched for ImAFish on both engines, Google came up with about 5 pages worth of links to a number of ImAFish's page and sites that mention ImAFish.

When I searched AltaVista I only found 3 results for ImAFish, 2 being the homepage and another being another site with reference to ImAFish. I searched for a number of other features from ImAFish on Google and AltaVista including Xbot and Comedy, both times Google came up with more results but Altavista did come up with the correct results for ImAFish it even gave the handy tool of translating ImAFish into other languages.

Though the new AltaVista looks a lot more up to date and is even more easier to use its still not as powerful search wise then it is compared to Google. Some people do like not having as many search results as it takes them less time to search them but most do prefer to have a number of options to look through until your get the results that you want. I think AltaVista still has as way to go before it can become better then its rivals and take back the visitors it has lost over the past few years.

The European court has sent a letter to the Greek Government threatening to take them to court over the controversial ban on computer games. The Greek government are in breech of European law because it of article 28 of the European Community Treaty because it may restrict imports from other EU member states. The law may also be violating peoples principle of proportionality meaning people should have the right to play games for entertainment purposes. I

n august this year a law came into effect banning all computer and video games in Greece as they may be contributing towards gambling which the government is trying to completely outlaw. However the government have lost court cases from people playing games in there home ImAFish reported about this here .

Many people believe that this law doesn't distinct between gambling and pure entertainment. The Greek government have 2 months to reply before further legal action will be taken by the European Commission. Internet cafes throughout Greece have had to shut down because of the new law as much of their business came from gamers wanting to play online. The letter was prompted by games producers who can no longer sell games to Greece. MPs in parliament have also raised this issue a few times stating that it is not a fair rule.

Broadband Britain

By Pete | @kingpetey | 08 Oct 2002

Broadband has been becoming increasingly popular over the past year and it has now reached 1million subscribers. The numbers of people and businesses signing up for broadband has trebled since the start of 2002. Oftel estimates that 20,000 connections per week are being installed. Broadband can run upto 10 times faster then a usual dialup connection and there is no 2-hour cut offs like a lot of the major dialup ISPs impose.

The increase in broadband is said to be because of file sharing services such as Kazaa and GNUtella, which let users share music for free. Broadband enables them to download music at a much faster speed. This is in dispute in America in the courts as the music industry has said it is loosing lots of money, though this cannot be proved as America is suffering from a Recession. The UK on the other hand saw record sales increase last year, which some people say that people are still buying music if they like a song they download.

The music industry has replied by trying to shut down services such as Kazaa and was successful in shutting down Napster 2 years ago. Though Napster has tried to relaunch itself as a legitimate service the record industry are still not happy. BT have spent over ?30million on advertising over the past few weeks and there advertising campaign will continue on into the next few weeks.

BT who are not the cheapest of broadband providers are trying to get as many people to sign up for there service rather then their competition which includes Freeserve, AOL and F2S. Freeserve have said this is unfair competition as BT are a much bigger company and have a lot more funding from other areas of there business. Though not everyone is happy especially people living in rural areas as many of them cannot get broadband and unless they have big enough support for broadband in their area the chances of them getting it are very small.

In the UK most people currently get broadband access via cable suppliers such as NTL and Telewest, although the numbers using ADSL, which comes via phone lines, is rapidly catching up. Though the UK is still behind a lot of its fellow countries the government is looking to have ?broadband Britain? by 2005.

I have been experimenting with linux for over a year now and not always with much luck. Though things seem to be getting better with the quality of the distributions and my elite skills. What people demand out of a operating system is becoming greater and greater, i couldn't have done the things that i now do in linux a year ago as the software clearly wasn't developed enough and in many cases still need developing. In some cases after installing linux today i found i could do more things easier then i would do in windows. For instance i have a couple of DivXs which refused to play in windows which after installing xine played perfectly (i finally got to watch the first episode of series 2 of enterprise) also things like gaim tabbing msn windows stops things from getting too cluttered.

Though as per usual there is a down side which every time i use linux gets smaller. I miss the integration between outlook and msn, and though gaim is a great program it misses little things like showing when people are signing in and flashing on the start bar. Also i miss how xchat doesn't flash or beep when i get messages meaning i have to check back more regularly. Another problem i have found is with icons not displaying properly when i install something, i quite often have to assign a different icon to a program when adding it to the desktop.

Though things are heading in the right direction, I downloaded netscape 7 earlier which is probably the best webbrowser after mozilla. Xine is also another great program that can play all DivXs, MP3s and DVDs - how handy, tho the program needs a few more improvements before its perfect.

Overall I'm going to stick with linux for a while because I think its a great alternative to windows which In some ways is better and in others could do with some improvements.

Greece Bans computer games

By Pete | @kingpetey | 13 Sep 2002

Earlier this month the country of Greece made a law banning all computer games. This includes all computer and console games and those played on such devices as game boys. People have already been fined large amounts of money for being caught playing or owning games. The law applies equally to visitors from abroad: "If you know these things are banned, you should not bring them in," said a commercial liaison at the Greek Embassy in London.

The Greek government introduced the law to help prevent gambling. The Greek police will be responsible for catching anyone playing a game; these people could be fined up to ?60,000 and imprisoned for up to 12 months. The Greek gaming community is still stocked by the decision and may people are angry with the government for enforcing this silly law.

A court case this week came out with a verdict that the law unconstitutional. This will certainly mean the Greek authorities will have a hard time enforcing the law. Many of the gaming community are protesting against this decision and this first court case could set an example for many more to come. A lot of people have come to realize the government was too quick in bringing in this law and had not fully looked at all the consequences to pc and console gamers.

The End of Planetarion?

By Pete | @kingpetey | 29 Aug 2002

Yesterday is was announced that the 8th round of Planetarion would be the last one, Planetarion the online text based game which started in January 2000 has found it increasing difficult over the last few months to keep the game going financially, so 5th season AS (the company behind Planetarion) announced in a special creators hour last night that the game will be ending after the next round.

Though some people think that this may be a scam to get more people to play Planetarion incase round 8 is the last round the community is clearly shocked that this has come this sudden. In Planetarion?s peak the game had over 100,000 players though once the game went pay to play the game slowly lost players. Efforts have been made to try to get new players to join the game and a number of free accounts were given out for new people to try out the game, however these free accounts didn't seem to bring Planetarion the new players it needed to stay alive. An irc channel has already been setup on the irc network.

The people behind #pa-stay are looking for over 10k players to play Planetarion next round, however if pa was continue then the community will need to have at least 10k paying players each round. Though it has not been said if the amount of money generated by 10k players will cover the costs of the game and pay off any remaining debts.

There has also been talk about whether the IRC network itself will be effected by Planetarion closing, however the general aim is that will keep going however its not certain how many people will remain on the network as most of the users are pa related. It looks like the forums will not remain if Planetarion was to end unless suitable hosting was found for them, however with no game a lot of the discussions which happen on the boards will not take place as a lot of the conversation is pa related. No one seems quite sure how long the 'creators' have been planning to close the game, though perhaps moving the irc network away from Planetarion was one of their first steps.

They have also announced that they have been working on another game based on football leagues however it's still unsure if they intend to release this game and if they intend to charge for it. I would have thought that many of the pa clones will try to take as many players as they can one of the popular alternatives being Starsphere. What ever happens the future of Planetarion seems uncertain and what happens over the coming months could decide the fate of Planetarion and its community.

Yahoo Instant Messenger 5.5

By Pete | @kingpetey | 27 Aug 2002

This week Yahoo released their latest version of their instant messenger, but is it up to the same standards of the likes of MSN AIM and ICQ? My first impressions were very good, YIM (Yahoo instant messenger) had some nice features that the other popular instant messengers didn?t use such as web cam support and some useful tabs unlike the ones present in MSN that seem aimed at getting you to spend money rather then provide useful information.

The layout of YIM is very nice and is easy to use, some nice gfx have been used giving YIM the same feel as AOL instant messenger. YIM also lets you change your away messages similar to the way ICQ does which is useful if you want to say why you are away or how long you will be. Another interesting idea YIM has is IM environments, this is basically themes for your instant messenger windows which in ways look nice but others just get annoying.

The main downside I found to Yahoo is not to do with the program but the lack of friends I know that use it. Since at early time online I have used ICQ then MSN Messenger thus a lot of my friends have mainly gone on to use MSN messenger for various reasons, the ones which do use YIM normally use another IM as well such as myself. Somehow Yahoo has to give people a good reason to change their IM habits from messengers such as MSN and AIM to their own messenger.

The other instant messenger programs I believe do have a head start over Yahoo for instance MSN messenger is now installed with every version of windows and AIM is installed with Macs now and comes built into Netscape and Mozilla web browsers. Personally I think that if YIM is to survive against the other large messenger services it needs to get its self bundled with a lot more other software so that more people can easily get to use it.

Another criticism I have of the software is not being able to change your screen name easily, people often like to convey their thoughts through their screen name such as on MSN messenger but I could not find this feature on YIM. Yahoo was one of the first large networks to bring together its ID program into all its online features, for instance my account can access geocities, email, instant messaging, calendar and a wide range of other features however now I feel Yahoo hasn?t been able to keep up with the likes of msn passport or AOL and needs to make a lot of changes to survive in the future.

Overall YIM 5.5 is one of the best instant messengers out there if your friends and colleagues use it, otherwise stick to one of the other large networks or get yourself onto IRC. I?m giving YIM 5.5 7/10.

Case mods

By Pete | @kingpetey | 04 Aug 2002

This simple guide should give u an insight into making your PC case look more funky. I will go through the simple steps we used to spraying benjies case. We do not take any responsibility for any smeg ups you may have!!!

1. First you need to find an old case or a gullible person willing to let you "modify" there case. (i suggest finding an old case) Next you need to clean the case up then pull the front plastic bit off, this is the bit we are going to spray, if the case you are tryin to modify doesn't have a front which pulls off get a case which does!! Also take out any drive pannels on the front as you can paint these seperatly.

2. Once you have spent many minutes cleaning your case, you are allmost ready to spray your case. You need to find a well ventilated area most people use their garden as its outside. Once you are in your well ventilated area you will need to cover the area where you will be spraying in newspaper.

3. You can now attempt to spray your case. You can get spraypaint from most diy shops, if they dont sell it they clearly are NOT a good diy shop. Hold your can about 20-30cms away from the case and apply an even coating of paint. Do not keep the can over one area for too long otherwise the paint will be too thick and will probably drip.

Here you can see we have a lot of newspaper in our well ventilated area. We decided to spray our case silver to make it look more modern

4. Once you have finished spraying wait for your case to dry. You may have to apply a second coat. In some cases its best to apply the paint in coats rather then all at once.

Here is our case drying.(It gives a new meaning to watching paint dry :/)

5. Next your going to have to paint the drive pannels which you removed from your case earlier. We decided to do ours black as we happened to have black paint and it goes well with the silver.

We decided to paint the pannels but you could easily spray them the same color as the case.

Here is another picture of the finishes sprayed case. Note that the wall is not silver. If you have any sucessfull mods then please send your pictures in and we will stick them online. We also like to laugh over the disasters. Benjie contributed to this article.

Internet Acronyms

By Pete | @kingpetey | 24 Jul 2002

The Internet being a big place has lots of acronyms this article should help you understand a lot of them.

LOL - laughing out loud
wb - welcome back
nn - night night
ofc - of course
nm - nevermind
gb - good bye
gg - good game
afk - away from keyboard
asl - age/sex/location
bbiab - be back in a bit
bbl - be back later
bbs - bulletin board system
bf - boyfriend
gf - girlfriend
bfn - bye for now
brb - be right back
btw - by the way
atm - at the moment
cya - see you later
fubar - ****** up beyond all recognition
gtg - got to go
hth - hope this helps
html - hypertext markup language (the basic computer language all webpages are made up of)
irc - internet relay chat
icq - I seek you
iow - in other words
isp - internet service provider
j/k - just kidding
l8r - later
m8 - mate
msg - message
newbie - a newcomer to the net, or a particular area of it.
Ppl - people
Re: - with reference to
Lo - hello
Rofl - rolling on the floor laughing
Ttfn - ta ta for now
Wb - welcome back
Wtf - wot the ****
www - world wide web

Of course this isn't a full list but should be helpful next time you try to have a conversation with someone you might be more aware about what they are going on about.

This Friday is System Administrator Appreciation Day, and your going to have to finally give some appreciation to all those system administrators that get grief every other day of the year! The event is in its third year now and is gaining support. The founder Ted Kekatos is hoping for people around the world to appreciate system admins for once! Kekatos, a system administrator in Chicago, was inspired to create the special day by a Hewlett-Packard ad he saw a few years ago. In the ad, a system administrator is bombarded with presents from employees as thanks for installing new printers.

I tore that ad out and showed it to some of my co-workers and said, 'Look at what this guy's getting. Where?s mine'?? Kekatos joked. Ketatos has even come up with his own list of geek like gifts for fellow system admins, these include GPS units and home theatre systems. Kekatos hopes System Administrator Appreciation Day will become a bigger holiday along the lines of Secretary's Day, and he's even considering sending a little reminder to the CEO at his own company.