Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Pace vows to kick ass!

Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke about the capability of U.S. forces to respond to North Korea or any other potential foe given ongoing U.S. commitments, citing if faced by a new threat, U.S. forces would have to use "“brute force"” as opposed to surgical strikes because of U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"“You need precision intelligence to drop precision munitions, and a lot of our precision intelligence assets are currently being used in the Gulf region, so some of those would not be available if we had to go some place else,"” Pace said. As a result, U.S. forces would have to use more unguided "“dumb bombs,"” resulting in more collateral damage; such an air campaign would be more akin to World War II or the Korean War rather than the precision-guided air war during the initial invasion of Iraq".

The highest ranking US Marine in history warned potential enemies not to underestimate the "“overwhelming combat power"” that U.S. forces can unleash if needed. "“It would not be as clean as we would like it to be, but it would certainly be sure, and the outcome would not be in doubt,"” he said.

Colonel Creedon, currently facing court-martial proceedings, echoed General Pace's sentiments, adding; "The destruction of our enemies will be complete and total" he seethed "Never before in the field of human conflict, has been seen what we have in store for the next bunch of clowns who challenge the awesome might of the United States of America, we ain't gonna start something but we're sure as hell gonna finish it. We're gonna clean their clocks".

Friday, October 27, 2006

Armstrong was an English professor after all.

When Neil Armstrong made his famous transmission to Mission Control, Houston in 1969 he essentially said: One small step for mankind, one giant leap for mankind.

Critics the world over scolded the Ex-US Navy pilot for "making no sense" with his gramatic snafu on his return to Earth.

However Armstrong maintained that he meant to say "a Man", and was sure he did. A burst of static however obscured the potential "a" in the transmission.

An Australian nerd however has said he's found the missing "a" from the astronaut's first words according to the Houston Chronicle. Thanks to some high-tech sound-editing software, Peter Shann Ford might have proved Armstrong right.

Ford claims he downloaded the audio recording of Armstrong's words from a NASA website and analyzed the statement with software that allows disabled people to communicate through computers using their nerve impulses and in a graphical representation of the famous phrase, he said he found evidence that the missing "a" was spoken and transmitted to NASA.

Armstrong supports the findings.

Source: Wired

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Now you see me...

Researchers in the UK and the US some months ago laid out a blueprint and called for help in developing the exotic materials required to construct a workable invisibility cloak.

The keys are special manmade materials, which are intended to steer light and other forms of electromagnetic radiation around an object, rendering it as invisible as something tucked into a hole in space. John Pendry, a physicist at the Imperial College London assured us that it's a workable theory and details of a study he co-wrote, appeared in the journal Science.

Now researchers at Duke University revealed that they have developed such a device, though at present it works only with microwave radiation and only in two dimensions. It's surprising that it's as simple as it is and that it works so well," said physicist Ulf Leonhardt. The team has the technology to develop a more effective cloak that will hide a three-dimensional object the size of a toaster soon enough. In order to bend visible light waves, nanofabrication techniques will likely be necessary.

The most immediate applications for the technology would be to focus solar energy onto collection cells or to enable wireless transmissions to bypass structures. But I'm revealing now that much of the funding for the research comes from the military, more specifically The Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency supported the research, given the obvious military applications of such stealthy technology.

I daresay it'll be a while before they can cloak a person like in SG-1 or Harry Pothead but I'll see if they'll allow me to "test" any prototype once I'm re-instated to active duty.

Sources: Wired, Trektoday - Img Source: City of Heroes

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

2IGTV Episode 28

In this incredibly long episode: David Eick to unearth Bionic Woman but no Serenity 2 for Whedon, Stan Bush to sing Transformers and Sam Raimi goes Reality TV, SG-1 to have DVD movies, Gibson is vain and Snipes (left) is on the run, The Tower falls and iPod is 5 years old (now shipping with virus), Boll is a Far Cry from quitting and The Joker is to be old-school, 24 creators developing new spy series, News on the Punisher II, Fraggle Rock, Painkiller Jane, 300 and Halo, and finally The Colonel tells Jon Favreau whom he should cast in Iron-Man.

Get it here.

The Colonel In Crisis: Part II - The Article 32 hearing

I've been busy reading (yes reading) up on my military law for the past few days, so sorry about the absence. For those of you interested: Capt. Rabb has posted the proceedings of the Article 32 hearing here, apparently there was too much information removed from the transcripts to make any sense, but rest assured that full transcripts of the trial proceedings will be made available afterwards.

I'm pleased enough that 4 of the 6 charges in total have been dropped leaving only the Article 92 and 99 charges. The 92 can be dealt with easily enough but the 99 carries a greater penalty and I'll be fighting that to the death- literally.
Next session is during the week, I'll let you know.

Star Wars: The CGI Series

In an interview with the Associated Press, God said that his company is currently producing a new digitally animated version of Clone Wars.

"It basically has all the main [Star Wars] characters," Lucas said.

He indicated that the show will be ready to air next year but that it hasn't been sold to a network yet.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Colonel In Crisis!

I'm at a bit of a loss for words today folks. I just got in after having a few drinks with friends to find that I had mail- A list of charges from the local JAG.

To: Col. CiarĂ¡n Creedon, UNETIDA Operations Commander, Europe
From: Capt. Harmon Rabb Jr., Force Judge Advocate, US Naval Forces Europe
ENC: Summary of charges.

Colonel Creedon,
Following a recent Article 32 investigation; a list of violations of the Uniform Code Of Military Justice that the United States Government hereby charges you with is presented for which you will be tried by General Court Martial:

ART.92. FAILURE TO OBEY ORDER OR REGULATION, One Count
ART.99. MISBEHAVIOR BEFORE THE ENEMY, One Count
ART.112. DRUNK ON DUTY, One Count
ART.133. CONDUCT UNBECOMING AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN, One Count
ART. 134. GENERAL ARTICLE, Two Counts

As such you are to consider yourself under arrest, but on the request of the convening authority will not be confined and so ART.10. will not be enacted unless failure to comply with any and all directives is observed.

Please return a signed and dated acknowledgement of receipt within 24 hours from 18:30 Zulu 18/10/06.

The Arcicle 32(a) hearing will commence Friday, October 20th at 20:30 Zulu.


Needless to say, it was a bit of a shock folks, but fear not, the Teflon Colonel will prevail as I've waived the right to defence counsel and will represent myself.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Hot Fuzz Teaser Trailers

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: while a minor segment of American "comedy" is outstanding- (The early Jim Abrahams & Zucker brothers collaborative movies - more recently, anything with Ben Stiller and some of the works featuring Will Farrell) it falls mostly however on the shoulders of Great Britain to produce the best laughs in western civilisation. Since the days of Monty Python, British comedy has grown and moved with the times we live in but still staying true to the original edicts of making 'em laugh and hit-em-again before they have time to recover, and how many times have we seen the yanks attempt to emulate British sitcoms only to fail miserably?

Well, two Jedi-Masters of British comedy in the 21st century are Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg. Together they brought us Spaced (kudos to Civilian Overseer for introducing me to that) and Shaun Of The Dead both which almost caused the death of your beloved Colonel by excessive laughter. Now they have a new film coming next year: Hot Fuzz.

Hot Fuzz is about a London super-cop Nicholas Angel who is so good at his job he makes everyone else look bad. His seniors at the Met have decided to get rid of him, and so he is sent to deepest, darkest Somerset. With garden fetes and neighbourhood watch meetings of the West Country village of Sandford replacing the action of the big city, Angel struggles to adapt to his situation and is partnered with Danny Butterman (Nick Frost), an oafish but well meaning young Constable, who dreams of being Mel Gibson. A series of grisly accidents motivates Angel into action: Convinced of foul play, he realises that Sandford may not be as idyllic as it seems.

Hot Fuzz also stars directors' regulars Bill Nighy and Bill Bailey, with Steve Coogan and even Timothy Dalton! Yes I said Timothy Dalton! Check out the hilarious teaser trailers yourself.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Alien vs. Predator: Survival Of The Fittest

The formula to the AvP movie crossover sequel is simple: more guts, more gore, more violence. The producers appear to be narrowing their audience focus as they hope to make Alien vs. Predator: Survival Of The Fittest a profitable venture.

"I think the approach this time is going to be very hardcore," an enthusiastic Tom Rothman, chairman of 20th Century Fox. "Very R rated. We believe that, this pass on AVP with the Strause brothers is going to be a lot closer to the hardcore experience."

Listeners to 2IGTV will know that film will be helmed by directors Colin and Greg Strause. Both have been quoted recently as saying they plan to take the franchise back to its gritty horror roots.

New cast and plotline news for the AvP sequel can be found in this weeks episode of 2IGTV.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

300

About a year ago a friend loaned me Frank Miller's 300, an oddly-sized graphic novel depicting a viseral and blood-soaked tale of the 480 B.C. Battle of Thermopylae, where the King of Sparta led his army against the advancing Persians; the battle is said to have inspired all of Greece to band together against the Persians, and helped usher in the world's first democracy.

Well Zack Dawn of the Dead Snyder is directing what looks like to be one of the better films slated for next year- a movie version of this graphic novel.

Visit the official site here, and mark your calander for March 30th 2007 to go and see 300.

2IGTV Episode 27

In this full to the brim episode we have news on the Jackson brothers (Peter & Sam), Mel Gibson, George Takei, and The Hoff. We let you know what we're watching on TV this season, Battlestar Galactica and Heroes get a mention. We detail upcoming and current movies in the form of Blades Of Glory, Aliens vs Predator 2, Bloodrayne 2 and The Departed. And to finish we ask what happens when everyone wants to be Spider-Man in Marvel Universe Online.

Get it here.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

North Korea creates own membership card to the Nuclear Club

Kim Jong Il has effectively slapped the major regional and world powers engaged in six-party talks intended to prevent North Korea testing nuclear weapons by allegedly detonating one of the bloody things deep underground.

Pyongyang's claim that a device had been detonated could not be actually 100% confirmed, but seismologists in the Asian region did measure activity associated with an underground explosion, but not believed large enough to be a nuclear device.

Naturally, and rightly so, the entire world has reacted as if the North Korean claim is valid. Unusually, The US, Russia and China have all come together to condemn the madman Kim Jong Il's nuclear posturing as an irresponsible and dangerous act which is a global threat to peace. The United Nations Security Council is expected to impose harsh sanctions against North Korea as early as next week which will effectively end trade in arms and luxury items with the totalitarian state.

Now, what to do about one of the most dangerous regimes on the planet, a state-sponsor of terror that has expressed a willingness to sell its nuclear technology to those with the cash to buy it and now it seems the balls to go testing WMD's...

What we can't going to do is ignore it anymore, we need to approach the danger posed by a nuclear-armed North Korea as though it constitutes a mortal peril to American strategic interests in Asia and the danger it poses to the world. The idea that a regime that has permitted some two million of its own people to starve to death will better treat others is fucking nuts.

Long-term, we need now to hold accountable those responsible for the North Korean nukes. China has been playing a double game for years. Without Beijing's military technology, financial support, strategic protection and food and energy lifelines, Kim Jong-Il's regime would have been toast long ago and its people likely reunited with prosperous South Korea.

More recently, Iran has been an enabler of North Korea's nuclear and missile programs in return for oil. Pyongyang has been trading mass destruction and delivery systems to Tehran in exchange for energy supplies and, presumably, cash. This has helped lubricate Kim's steady progress towards ever-longer-range missiles and his acquisition of weapons to go on them. It has also greatly shortened the length of time it is taking Iran, the other charter member of the Axis of Evil, to get up the learning curve in both areas.

This activity can no longer be either ignored or tolerated. We must now adopt the strategy Reagan employed to destroy the Soviet Union: A campaign aimed at cutting off the funding to, neutralizing the threat from and de-legitimating a hostile regime.

Colonel Creedon himself appeared on FOX News late last night to echo condemnation for North Korea's test and issued a personal challenge to Kim to meet him in the centre of the Korean demilitarized zone to duke it out, Marine against Midget.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Flags Of Our Fathers Trailer

The Final movie I shall see this year will be Clint Eastwood's Flags Of Our Fathers. The story depicting the finest hour of the USMC as it takes Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima in 1945 and a US flag is raised on its peak ensuring the existence "of the Marine Corps for the next 500 years".
A picture quick-snapped by the recently late Joe Rosenthal propelled the men whom raised the flag to superstardom. They were prepared to fight and die on a foreign island miles from home or to return to a grateful nation- but not for what awaited them now.

Grab it here (WM/QT)

Source: IGN

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Stargate SG-1 to have TV Movies

There was much speculation recently as to whether the venerable sci-fi series Stargate SG-1 would be able to continue in some form. MGM has reportedly been shopping the series around to other networks but there didn't appear to be any takers presently.

However, pretty much all the cast members have said that, while nothing's definite yet, it sounds like there will be several Stargate TV movies produced after the series ends.

The arrangement sounds similar to when Farscape ended, and plans were announced for several movies to air -- only one of which has aired to date, 2004's Farscape: Peacekeeper Wars. Let's hope SG-1 fares better.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A shitload more on Neverwinter Nights 2

Sorry to those that were waiting for this: the update on infomation on Obsidian's Neverwinter Nights 2 as promised here.

PC gamers should be more than familiar enough with the original Neverwinter Nights, In my case I missed it, or rather didn't have the time to play it when it was released but I'm making up for that now by playing through it before I get my hands on the sequel. In case you're one of the unfortunate few who know nothing about the title, it's a massive D&D roleplaying game that combines an epic single player campaign with online play and a robust editor.

I'm pleased to say that it looks like the sequel appears to be preserving all the original's quality but significantly upping the ante in almost every area.

The game follows the D&D alignment conventions and tracks your morality through the game. As you perform good or bad actions, your relations with those around you will gradually shift. This is especially significant where the members of your party are concerned. There's also an influence system like the one in Knights of the Old Republic 2, so you can gradually redeem or corrupt your party members by your actions.

A companion system is in place so you'll be able to grab two extra NPCs to carry around with you and help you in your quests. Unlike the original Neverwinter Nights, you can actually control these NPCs directly rather than simply issuing orders to them. The Infinity-era pause and unpause order system is in place here for folks who would prefer to direct their followers that way.

Fans of the original game won't see many changes to the combat system. The basic commands and controls are still the same as you remember which isn't such a bad thing considering how solid they were the first time around. What has changed is that critical hits are much cooler now. The first game merely threw a little critical hit tag up in the air; the new game will indicate critical hits with cool weapon trails and neat blood splatters. Bloooood, yeeeeeeesssss!

Where most games include some sort of arbitrary tutorial, Neverwinter Nights 2 tries to make learning how to play a part of the actual story. Beginning as a relative unknown, you'll find yourself celebrating the harvest in your home town of West Harbor. There's a harvest festival competition comprised of four challenges -- melee, ranged, magic and stealth. Through the course of the festival, you'll learn how to manage all four activities in the game.

From looking at the screenshots however, you'll see that the graphics are obviously vastly improved. When gamers look closely at Neverwinter Nights 2, they'll see just how much attention is being paid to even the smallest parts of this sequel.

When you bring the camera in tight to the main character, you'll see the individual links in his chain mail, the ornamental carvings on his helmet and the texture of his boots. When you walk indoors, you'll see the weave of a rug or the stones that make up a humble fireplace. When you walk outside, you'll see trees with individual leaves and grassy plains that'll make them want to take off their shoes and run barefoot like a little kid. But all that is nothing once they start casting spells. The Shield of Faith spell results in a transparent bubble that surrounds the player, and it looks as if you could reach into the screen and pop it with your finger. Eye-popping 3D effects will turn any magical spell-slinging battle into a fireworks display straight out of the 4th of July.

I know we've all seen gorgeous graphics before, and as much as we enjoy our eye candy, we learned long ago that looks aren't everything. RPG fans especially want story, they want depth, and most importantly, they want epic battles. Fortunately, Obsidian is aware of this, too.

Throughout the 40-60 hours of gameplay in Neverwinter Nights 2, players will be faced with decisions that will let them reveal their true colors. The developers have made sure that players' decisions on whether to be good or evil will result in significant branching in the storyline. This storyline tasks players with scouring the land of Neverwinter to uncover the secrets of a strange relic and will eventually lead to a chain of events that will force you into the role of a hero.

Obsidian is also offering a wide selection of prestige classes so gamers can further customize their characters. These are obtained once players hit a certain level, and allow their characters to have more abilities. For example, an Arcane Archer can cast spells like Gandalf and still be able to make like Legolas with a bow and arrow. If gamers have got the time, they'll be able to take their characters up to level 20, but the developers say that if gamers plan on doing that, they'll have to do lots and lots of side quests to make it happen.

Players will need all the skills they can get if they want to make it through the challenges that await them in their quest. The storyline will eventually put them into battles far larger than anything they've had to deal with in the first game, and eventually they'll even take control of their own castle which they'll have to fortify and defend. To do this they'll have to rally people to their cause during their adventures. Farmers, miners, and other people will come to their aid if they play their cards right. The stronghold system, which becomes available to players around halfway through the game is part of the storyline, so it's not something that can be overlooked or missed out on. The stronghold, which looks like a castle, will initially appear in an exacerbated state of decay. Walls will be crumbling and coming apart, ramparts won't be useful, and more importantly, there won't be anyone in it. While hanging out in a castle is intrinsically cool, it's far more interesting if you can do something with it. In the case of Neverwinter Nights 2, there's quite a bit to be accomplished.

First, the castle needs workers. Throughout the course of the game leading up to the stronghold's acquisition, players will meet certain NPCs clearly dissatisfied with their station in life. After players are castle owners, these NPCs can be recruited to labor in the stony abode. Some may agree to work with no strings attached, others may need convincing, and yet more will require special tasks to be completed before they sign on as your servant. Chris mentioned most of these NPCs will be located in major metropolitan areas, such as Neverwinter, and be relatively easy to find. A few may be more out of the way. Each recruit contributes to a specific aspect of the stronghold's augmentation. Among the many possible employees, there are miners, priests, architects, blacksmiths, and farmers, to name a few.

Since the demands of adventuring are so great, players won't be able to hang around their stronghold all the time. A work foreman of sorts will need to be given commands on how to run the base's day to day operations. As an added wrinkle, some NPCs will be better at their jobs than others, so players will need to choose carefully when assembling their workforce. Once a decent amount of employees are in place and performing their required tasks, orders can be given to the foreman to alter work habits, giving more attention to varying aspects. By speaking with the foreman in the stronghold, it will become more obvious what tasks require attention, as status reports are given detailing exactly how things are going.

As the workers perform their tasks, the stronghold will build up into a more powerful, multifaceted structure. Its growth will prompt mercantile trading lines, and an inn can be built up as well. Taxes will need to be collected, revenue managed, and guards assigned for protection. Visual differences will appear, showing the stronghold as a more formidable, hardy structure than when it was first discovered. All this is in preparation for certain events that happen during Neverwinter Nights 2's story, called mass battles.

These mass battles are basically stronghold assaults. If players haven't taken the time to properly manage their castles, they'll have a much harder time surviving. Obviously the main character and three possible companions aren't going to be able to hold back an army. The stronghold provides the solution, giving the player the ability to train armies. Army management is conducted through the foreman, who can be told to ease up on training or train extra hard, and be especially harsh. Army morale is affected by these sorts of decisions, but different approaches to training need to be made in order to level up the forces as much as possible, as well as give them better weapons and armor. Based on what orders are issued, it could eventually be made clear that certain sergeants are on the take, or the numbers and strengths of your units could be diminished. In other words, if you're not paying attention and erratically issuing orders, your armies are going to get mad.

Aside from serving as an army production plant, the stronghold will also house the various characters that can join your party, such as Grobnar (left). Since you can only have four characters in your party at once including yourself, there will undoubtedly arise scenarios where some need to be switched out to take advantage of their varying skill sets. Instead of disappearing into the void, the dislodged characters will reside in the stronghold. Should players want to use them again, they can be simply be switched into the party on the fly, though in certain zones switching won't be possible.

In addition to each character having different skills, they'll also have varying alignments and backstories. Active party members will interact with each other through dialogue, and should your actions veer too much from their personal philosophies or alignment, they might leave the party altogether. By performing deeds that agree with your party members' personal philosophies, players gain influence over them. High levels of influence with party members means they'll be willing to perform actions not otherwise possible. Assuming you're a wizard and the opponent has an obvious advantage because of his armor or skills, it's clear you'll get murdered if you head into the fight. With a high influence over party members, one with a more suitable class and skill set would volunteer to take your place.

The fully controllable NPC party members are more than just cardboard characters. They all have something to say and underlying motivations, though these aren't necessarily made obvious right away. Characters will initially decline to talk about themselves or their deeper world views. Once you've traveled with them for a while and built up some trust, they'll reveal more. Special items in the game also have their own histories, which can be read by clicking on an examine tab in the menu. Hopefully something that I noticed was missing from the original game was where the characters would pipe up themselves without you haveing to ask them shit like they did in Baldur's Gate. I prefer people let fly with what they have to say (that's why this site has unmoderated comments) rather than infomation being interrogated out of them like the wogs I'm let loose on in GITMO.

There's certainly more going on here than normal, let's just say if you wanted another "generic dungeon crawl"- you're going to be disappointed on Friday November 3rd when the game surfaces in Europe.

There's a growing Wikipedia resource for NWN2 now too, check it out.

Sources: IGN, Gamespy, 3DGamers.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Hoff In Ireland! - Knight Rider details revealed!

The Hoff himself travelled to Ireland at the weekend to promote his book. His publicity tour included an appearence on the usually bland Tubridy Tonight show on RTE1. The Hoff revealed that he was not yet used to referring to his Ex-Wife as "Ex-Wife" and that the Knight Rider movie in development may feature him as a "Daddy" Michael Knight passing the baton to a "Son" character.

The "worlds most watched TV star" (according to the Guinness Book Of Records) was "persuaded" to sing a song before leaving. He sang Joe Cocker's Unchain My Heart to a boisterous crowd littered with about a dozen girls wearing various Hoff T-shirts. Apparently he signed his book at a number of Dublin locations before returning home.