Holding pattern[Monday 8-November-2004 16:13 EST]

Due to a variety of reasons (which I won't bore you with), updates to thé-crypt have been rather lackluster of late. Shortly we'll be re-opening the site using a CMS rather than mucking around with all this raw HTML. This should speed up content deployment and hopefully ensure that the site continues to grow at a decent pace. Stay tuned for more developments.
-Calmer Llama

  Half Life 2 - Gold![Tuesday 19-October-2004 21:20 EST]

Well, after years of patiently waiting, the big day appears nigh! When you consider that Halo 2 is also due in November, you'll have to agree that Xmas appears to be coming early this year. Check out the press release in full below.
-Calmer Llama

Half-Life® 2 to Ship to Retail Outlets Globally This Holiday Season

LOS ANGELES (October 18, 2004) – Vivendi Universal Games (VU Games) today announced that Half-Life® 2, the sequel to one of the most critically acclaimed PC titles in gaming history, will ship to retail outlets around the world in November. The Company confirmed that Half-Life 2, developed by Valve Software, has gone gold with a planned retail street date of November 16, 2004. The countdown to the highly anticipated retail street date has begun around the world, as VU Games completes plans to ship localized versions of Half-Life 2 simultaneously in English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Traditional and Simplified Chinese, Korean, Thai and Japanese.

“Half-Life 2 has surpassed our expectations in every sense – its high-quality graphics, ground-breaking physics and immersive first-person shooter gameplay set a new standard for PC action games,” said Bruce Hack, CEO of VU Games. “Half-Life 2 will go down as one of the best-selling PC titles, and we are thrilled to deliver this ground-breaking title to the worldwide gaming community this fall.”

Hailed as “...the best game ever made” by PC Gamer, Half-Life 2 earned a top-rated review score of 98, the highest score bestowed by the magazine in more than six years. The game has received numerous accolades for its technical excellence, captivating story and addictive game play, including more than 10 awards and nominations at the 2004 Electronic Entertainment Expo. In addition to being named “Best PC Game” by 1up.com (Ziff Davis) and Gamespy.com, the title also received a “Technological Excellence on PC” award from IGN.com. CNNMoney.com stated that “Half-Life 2 will redefine what gamers expect from their games visually – and the gameplay is a lot of fun as well.”

The global anticipation for Half-Life 2 has reached unprecedented heights, as consumers around the world mark their calendars to buy the game at retail on November 16th. The Half-Life 2 product will include Counter-Strike: Source. VU Games will also release a Half Life 2 Collector’s Edition that will include Half-Life 2 in DVD-ROM format, Counter-Strike: Source, Half-Life: Source, a free limited edition t-shirt, and a Half-Life 2 Prima strategy guide book.

The original Half-Life game was launched in 1998 under VU Games’ Sierra Entertainment publishing label. It earned more than 50 game-of-the-year awards and has been heralded as one of the best PC first-person shooter games of all-time.

About Half-Life® and Half-Life® 2

In 1998, Half-Life revolutionized the game industry with its combination of pounding action and continuous, immersive storytelling. Valve’s debut title was named “Best PC Game Ever” by PC Gamer and launched a franchise with more than eight million retails units sold worldwide. In 2004, Half-Life 2 will take the suspense, challenge and visceral charge of the original to new heights of realism and responsiveness. Half-Life 2 opens the door to a world where the player’s presence affects everything around him, from the physical environments to the behaviors – even the emotions – of both friends and enemies. The player again picks up the crowbar of research scientist, Gordon Freeman, who finds himself on an alien-infested Earth being picked to the bone, its resources depleted and its population dwindling. Freeman is thrust into the unenviable role of rescuing the world from the wrong he unleashed back at Black Mesa. And a lot of people – people he cares about – are counting on him. The intense, real-time gameplay of Half-Life 2 is made possible only by Source, Valve’s new proprietary engine technology. Source provides major enhancements in the advanced facial animation system, physics, graphics and AI. Half-Life 2 will be available for the PC.

About Vivendi Universal Games

Headquartered in Los Angeles, VU Games is a leading global developer, publisher and distributor of multi-platform interactive entertainment. Its development studios and publishing labels include Blizzard Entertainment, Sierra Entertainment, Fox Interactive and Massive Entertainment. VU Games’ library of over 700 titles features multi-million unit selling properties such as Warcraft®, StarCraft®, Diablo® and World of Warcraft® from Blizzard Entertainment®; Crash Bandicoot®, Spyro The Dragon™, Empire Earth®, Leisure Suit Larry™, Tribes® and Ground Control®.

  Yeti Sports - Part 7[Monday 18-October-2004 20:21 EST]

Yet another astonishing creation from the twisted mind of Chris Hilgert manifests itself as Yeti Sports - Snowboard Freeride! Head on over to see what all the fuss is about ...
-Calmer Llama

Yeti Sports Part 7 - Snowboard Freeride

  Ultra Über Playtime[Saturday 16-October-2004 18:55 EST]

Some more entertainment for those boring moments when you don't have something constructive to do ...
-Calmer Llama

Crypt Raider (Puzzley goodness)
Bush Royal Rampage (Intense Presidential action ... and no it's not naughty!)
Formula G1 (Futuristic Racing)
Gold Miner (Miserly action)
Tobby Balloon (Canine action/puzzle)
3 Foot Ninja (Midget Platformer)
Cannon Blast (Pirate shooter)
Cow Maze (Ruminating puzzler)
Playing with Fire (Action ... multiplayer options as well)

  Domain names and registrars[Tuesday 12-October-2004 23:05 EST]

One of my pet peeves of late is the rather irritating practice of Domain Name registrars sending out unsolicited snail-mail relating to existing registrations (lodged with other registrars) that are about to lapse! Indeed, late last year my folks showed me one that they had received from Domain Names Australia (DNA) suggesting that they might like to register their own name as a domain; pretty rich, when you consider that they don't actually own a domain name! The actual document looked and read like an invoice; which is what prompted Dad to quiz me on the company and what they were doing. One can only assume that DNA was deliberately targetting "computer un-saavy" citizens in an effort to raise revenue from them (and indeed that was my initial impression.)

As it turns out both the Australian Domain Regulator (auDA) and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) felt the same way and legal action was undertaken pretty much vindicating what both my parents and I thought of the company.

Well imagine my joy when I received a similar missive from Domain Registry of America (DRA) suggesting that I might like to pay them roughly 2 1/2 times what I'm paying my current registrar to renew my domain registration with them! Unfortunately, unscrupulous companies like these are popping up with more regularity now in Australia.

I consider being bombarded with snail mail of this nature just as intrusive and irritating as e-mail spam. If I want to re-register my domain, like most sensible people, I'll go and do some research. I find it extremely hard to believe that registrars are doing this out of the goodness of their own hearts, and of course they aren't; it's just a way of making money for them. Unfortunately, if you want a domain, you have to register correct address details with the various regulators giving anyone who wants to target your physical mailbox an easy target. I did briefly consider having an intermediary manage my details for me (a legal way of getting around displaying your address details) but didn't think the extra cost was worth it. With my registration approaching expiry, I'm now beginning to wonder.

Anyway, the letter went straight into the paper recycling bin where it belongs, mainly because DRA are cagey enough not to provide pre-paid envelopes. Otherwise they would have received an appropriate free gift from me personally ...
-Calmer Llama

Domain Names Australia firest back at regulator
Domain Names Australia to face ACCC in Melbourne Court
DNA Appeal dismissed

  Pengo Playtime[Sunday 10-October-2004 21:28 EST]

Speaking of Pengo ... check this little Java applet out!
-Calmer Llama

AI Pengo

  Playtime[Friday 8-October-2004 22:37 EST]

If you enjoyed playing Dig Dug, Pengo and all those other platform games from the distant past, you're going to love MotherLoad! This title has enough replayability in it to almost qualify as a full shareware release. There's a lot more strategy involved, it doesn't require vast amounts of twitch skills that the old platform titles used to have, and it's as addictive as peanuts. Highly recommended!
-Calmer Llama


  Active Directory - Part 12[Friday 8-October-2004 22:20 EST]

Well, I missed posting last weekend's AD project update in a timely fashion, but here's a belated (and condensed) version of the events that occurred.

The last Administrative Group was Exchange 2003 enabled with the commissioning of the first Exchange 2003 server in the North-West site. We now have at least one new Exchange server operating in each site, and have reached our "quick win" point in the project (with a good 80% of users now running on the new boxes.) The next phase is to roll-out the new Round 1 servers as Server 2003 DCs in the coming months and migrating the mailboxes that were located on the old NT 4.0 (Exchange 5.5 servers) to either existing Exchange 2003 boxes or the new Exchange cluster that we'll be building shortly.

One major observation that we've made so far is that, despite the passable functionality of "interim" mode (what with the various Exchange 5.5 connection agreements etc.,) this is not really a situation that you want to maintain for any extended period of time. In hindsight (and if we had the resources available,) it may have been better to have setup several implementation teams around the state making these changes concurrently so that we could achieve a pure "native" Active Directory and Exchange 2003 environment more promptly.

Anyway, there's nothing happening AD/EX-wise this weekend due to an outstanding issue with a swag of Win9X clients lurking around the state that aren't DHCP enabled and are pointing to some WINS servers that we want to terminate. Which is good, as I now get to do some of the weekend chores that I've been remiss in over the last few months!
-Calmer Llama

  Missing In Action[Friday 8-October-2004 22:03 EST]

Unfortunately, I've been rather busy lately with a whole range of projects and non-work related drivel; hence the derth of entries over the last few weeks. Hopefully I will be able to return to a more regular schedule of submissions here at thé-crypt.
-Calmer Llama