Jul 292009

Amnesty International posterThings that I learned today:

There was a sequel to Wasteland.

The Guns n’ Roses-pinball machine contains a song, Ain’t Going Down, that is unavailable anywhere else.

Avalon Hill’s Diplomacy is 50 years old. And there’s a presentation about the game in this weekend’s Ropecon.

Kolonists seems resemble Settlers of Catan (also headed onto the iphone) uncomfortably much.

Amnesty International creates awesome posters as seen to the right (this is an old one, so no link to the related campaign).

An umbrella is much more useful in the backpack than on the bed (this was actually not a new issue, but repetition works wonders).

Jul 292009

Nope, I’m not trying to shed any of the deadly sins. But something much smaller and way more insidious instead.

I’m trying to stop using two spaces after a period (or a colon, or some other extraordinary punctuation character). In other words, using the terminolgy just learned from wikipedia, I’m trying to move away from French spacing (née english spacing, up to mid-nineties).

I’ve been persistently using two spaces, for no particular reason. Probably the main factor has been my preference for monospaced font in e-mail, that’s pretty much the only environment where the use of an extra space slightly improves the readability of the material.

Browsers’ HTML-rendering engines collapse multiple spaces into one (unless trickery with non-breakable spaces is involved), so the result is not really visible on the web. But it will be in pretty much every other piece of text.

Persistent failure in avoiding this “anachronistic typewriter convention” is pretty much guaranteed, but it’s the only way forward.

Jul 262009

Sonisphere logoSpent saturday in Pori, attending the Sonisphere festival, featuring Metallica as the headliner of the day.

The festival’s inauspicious circumstances had been shown in the finnish mainstream media already. The departure / sacking of Anthrax’s fourth vocalist topping the list. The lack of organizers’ experience was given as a potential threat to smooth sailing. And the lack of availability of a schedule pointed rather steadily towards a mismanaged occasion.

Took a later train than the “official festival train”, and arrived when Lamb of God was finishing their set.

The queue in was reasonably fast, only twenty-odd minutes in a rapidly moving line. Contradicting earlier guidance about water and soda being allowed in, the security check eliminated all corks in the bottles, pretty much guaranteeing that folks brought in just one bottle. The numerous bottle collectors obviously had a field day with the readily available scraps from attendees. Strike one.

The total lack of any scheduling hadn’t improved during the last few days. No schedules were posted anywhere. According to a rumour the schedules were for sale at the shirt vendors booths, at five euros a pop. That’s not really the way to treat paying customers. Strike two.

Browsed the area during Diablo‘s set, and wandered to the main stage just when Machine Head started. They played loud, excruciatingly loud. So loud that I figured it’s high time to replace my old earplugs on account of the volume. Thus, due to the shopping expedition, missed the on-stage collapse of their guitarist (who is OK, again according to rumors).

Turisas replaced Anthrax on a moment’s notice, and played a tight thirty minutes on the second stage. No new songs off the forthcoming third album.

Didn’t take notes, but this is a semblance of their set:

To Holmgard and Beyond
Dnieper Rapids
One More
Battle Metal

Linkin Park on stageLinkin Park was the highlight of the day. The nu-metallers put on an excellent show, with songs piled upon each other mercilessly. All the hits from the three albums were covered, and plenty of additional material. A very tight eighty minutes that finished off with a high note when in the end was followed on with much harsher songs as the capstone.

Didn’t take down a set list here either, but the band’s web page is very helpful in providing one:

Given Up
From The Inside
Somewhere I Belong
No More Sorrow
Lying From You
Points Of Authority
What I've Done
Leave Out All The Rest
Breaking The Habit
Shadow Of The Day
In The End
Bleed It Out
New Divide
One Step Closer

Saxon was the penultimate band in the lineup. Gave them a couple of songs, but came away disappointed. Ultimately the band is Iron Maiden, with all the good bits (catchy songs, charisma) removed. Epitome of mediocrity, nothing more, nothing less. Saxon’s set list was as follows (nabbed from Imperiumi’s forum):

Heavy Metal Thunder
Demon Sweeney Todd
Motorcycle Man
Witchfinder General
Let Me Feel Your Power
Wheels Of Steel
Live To Rock
747 (Strangers In The Night)
Denim & Leather
Princess Of The Night
And The Bands Played On

James HetfieldMetallica played two hours. Pretty much a greatest hits gig, with a couple of songs from Death Magnetic surgically embedded. The only real surprises were the omission of For Whom The Bell Tolls and the choices of the two songs in the encore. Stone Cold Crazy was a pleasant one, and one out of necessity, since the gig had to finish by eleven pm.

Metallica’s setlist:

Creeping Death
Harvester of Sorrow
Fade to Black
Broken, Beat and Scarred
Sad But True
All Nightmare Long
Day That Never Comes
Master of Puppets
Nothing Else Matters
Enter Sandman
Stone Cold Crazy
Seek & Destroy

Sonisphere crowdThe exit from the area was by far the worst experience of the day. The rear exit near the main stage turned out to be taken out from use, without any real guidance on the maps or anywhere else. Just a single self-important member of the security squad bellowing into a bullhorn, repeating the same message over and over. The chaos reigned for good twenty minutes, with people climbing over fences in the area only to come to a complete halt later on. According to rumor (who were plentiful indeed), the rear exit was closed to ensure speedy departure for the bands – a throughly uncommunicated act that ended up wrecking the good mood after the gigs and doubtless ensuring that people on municipal traffic missed their connections to trains and boats. Strike three, and a severe warning for unsportsmanlike conduct.

The forecast rains didn’t really materialize – a shower rained down for some fifteen minutes earlier, and a medium drizzle happened during Metallica’s show. Other than that the weather was close to perfection, not too cold and definitely not too hot either. Sun showed itself a couple of times, and shone for a while during Linkin Park.

T-shirts were both expensive and restricted only to Metallica and the festival itself, couldn’t find other bands’ shirts at all. The gig-specific shirt was nice, but at thirty euros something that was easily dismissed. The highest priced shirts clocked in at 45 euros apiece.

The area resembled a war zone – there were just a couple of trashcans for sixty thousand people, and thus the ground was completely littered with debris. Took the precaution of packing lunch (an act that was on the organizers’ “banned”-list up until the last minute) – the offerings from the stands seemed to be very much in the line of defrosted junk accompanied with chicken bits. Bony chicken bits, which increased the trash load. The queues to purchase food were long and seemed to be very slow, and with stands running out of supplies way earlier than the actual show ended, a testament to bad planning, once again. And considering the number of attendees, the toilet capacity seemed to be woefully inadequate. Strike four.

Summing up, the bands on stage were good and the lineup rather impressive, but the organization sucked big time. The first order of the day in any mass happening is communication, and that was completely missing here. The large screens next to the main stage were not used for any useful purpose outside the actual gigs – they would have been a perfect way to provide information to the attendees.

Amongst the 60000 attendees was a surprising amount of people who had no idea how to behave. This does not mean the few pitters, but the guys and girls who obliviously walked onto large crushes of people and expected to walk through. A couple of fights and a couple of passed out guests is probably below the norm at an average festival, but having got used to the jolly atmosphere of Tuska, especially the former was quite a surprise.

And while I do realize that Activsion’s Guitar Hero-franchise was a big sponsor, the thing got out of hand with a lot of valuable stage time given to kids who play fake guitars instead of letting the likes of Turisas. And the less said about the eager beaver MC, the better.

EDIT: Fixed some language, added notes about tourists and guitar hero. And added the Saxon set list.

Jul 242009

Larssons thirdNot much of an advertising campaign for the paperback edition of Pilvilinna joka romahti thus far, but a Harrypotteresque-delivery method into Akateeminen nonetheless.

Yes, it’s a very worthy capstone to the Millennium-trilogy and well worth reading. That is, if you’ve read the first two – without those this book will make very very little sense.

Jul 242009

EarthCache logoFound and logged my very first earth cache today.

An earth cache is a subtype of a geocache, one that highlights some sort of geological features of the area.

Right now there are almost six thousand earth caches defined, but just about thirty of them are located in Finland. Goes to show that we’re geologically not the most exciting country in the world, but there are still important ones undefined (such as Lappajärvi, the largest crater thus far found in Finland).