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  • Xbox Live Arcade Games – Faith Somewhat Restored

    In principle I think Xbox Live Arcade Games are a great idea

    Games that you can download quickly and easily and get playing with the minimum of fuss. Decent demos so you can try before you buy at a “reasonable” price point

    The thing is recently I’ve found some of them to be a bit….crap

    Maybe crap is a bit of a strong word but the point is I haven’t really gotten all that excited an upcoming XBLA game in the same way I would about a regular game

    On the few occasions that I did it didn’t always live up to the expectations I’d had

    A couple of examples

    Sensible Word of Soccer, Speedball 2, Worms

    There is a slight pattern with these examples. They are all “classics”. Games I’ve played to death in my youth on varying other formats

    When I found out they were coming to my XBox i eagerly downloaded them and fired up the demo. I had 10 minutes of fun but wasn’t all that eager to hand over my cash

    Don’t get me wrong they are still amazing games and even with the updated graphics they still stand up in their own right but I’d seen it all before

    It was the same when i downloaded Prince of Persia. I actually paid for this one. I enjoyed it for a couple of days. Marvelled over how pretty it looked and I haven’t been back to it since.

    Then there were some that I refused to even buy ativan uk download the demo for. Frogger being a prime example – do i really want to spend 800 points on that? A classic game in it’s time but it’s still just trying to get a frog across the road – i can play flash based versions online for free. Taking an old game and jazzing the graphics up doesn’t always vastly improve the game. A lot of the classics relied on great game play because they couldn’t do anything about the graphics

    While I understand my argument above is a little weak (as you’ll see in a second!) I’ve I had stopped looking at new arcade games whereas in the past I used to check out every new game that became available

    However, my faith has been restored a little lately by three games

    Trials HD

    Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition

    Shadow Complex

    While none of these three games are exactly original (especially Monkey Island!) they all have that “just 5 more minutes” factor. I was playing Trails HD till 1am on the day I downloaded it

    I’ve handed over my cash for Trials and Monkey Island and Shadow Complex will follow in the next couple of days (my birthday is coming up and I always get ordered to not buy anything – fingers crossed for some Microsoft Points!)

    Hopefully games like Shadow Complex and Trails will set the bar for forthcoming releases

    Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to queue up Turtles in Time Re-shelled

  • Microsoft Partner Network: 2009

    I’ve been asked to spread the word about an upcoming event

    On Wednesday 7 October, the Microsoft UK team will be inviting partners to the number one UK channel event, Microsoft Partner Network: 2009 at Wembley Stadium.

    This free event will give attendees  insights into current Microsoft strategies and the direction the company is taking the business, first-sight of some of the innovative technologies launching this year, and information about how partners can work better together for greater success.

    The event is aimed at Partner executives and sales leads and set to be the event of the year for Microsoft in the UK.  American and UK Microsoft executives will be on hand to learn:

    · Insights from Microsoft executives as they share the Microsoft vision and strategies together with business growth opportunities and product innovation

    · A range of Partner-to-Partner online and offline networking opportunities, plus strategic and practical guidance on how to collaborate successfully with other Microsoft Partners

    · Market insights and guidance on developing customer opportunities

    · Useful resources to help you sell, market and deploy Microsoft technology, particularly when you find yourself in competitive technology situations

    · A glimpse into future industry trends and innovation, with exciting demonstrations

    · An introduction to the UK award winners from the Worldwide Partner Conference 2009

    To register your place at this essential event, click: and enter invite code: 22BAF4 or call: 0870 166 6670

    Check the Microsoft Partner Network 2009 website for more details about the event over the coming weeks. You can also sign up to our RSS service, or follow us on Twitter.


    This has been posted on the UK SBSC Blog with a bit more information so check that out too!

  • Bletchley Park Funding

    I’ve blogged a couple of times about Bletchley Park

    It’s no secret in the UK that funding for the site is hard to come by

    For some reason it’s not eligible for lottery funding or any of the government funding that goes into museums and galleries so relies on admissions fees and donations(IBM and PGP were some of the big names who recently donated)

    So a while back I saw a petition on the governments e-petitions site 

    “We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to save Bletchley Park.”

    Details of Petition:

    “As has been reported elsewhere, Bletchley Park “have two to three more years of survival”. The Bletchley Park Trust receives no external funding. It has been deemed ineligible for funding by the National Lottery, and turned down by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Please do not allow this crucial piece of both British and World culture to disappear. If ever an example were needed of Britain leading the world, this surely would be it. To allow it to fall into the hands of developers would be simply unconscionable.”


    You can see the full petition here: (do a search for “Andy Parkes” :-)  )

    I’ll be honest I’d forgotten I’d signed up for this (the deadline was in May) but I got an email today to let me know that the government had responded



    Thank you for your e-petition.

    The Government agrees that the buildings on the Bletchley Park site are of significant historic importance and, although recognising the excellent work being carried out there, at present it has no plans, nor the resources, to extend its sponsorship of museums and galleries beyond the present number.

    A number of things are being done to help Bletchley Park.
    English Heritage, Milton Keynes Council and English Partnerships have worked jointly with the Trust that runs the Park to prepare a Conservation Management Plan for the site.   English Partnerships has acquired some parts of the site and will ensure that any development of these areas is planned and delivered in a way that reflects the important historical nature of the Park.  English Partnerships has also invested in the core site and contributed funds towards an emergency repair programme on Block D, the largest derelict wartime building in Britain, and is planning to undertake further substantial works to sensitively refurbish this important listed building. 
    The Heritage Lottery Fund’s regional development team, along with the DCMS sponsored  Museums, Libraries and Archives Council in the South East have been in regular contact with the Bletchley Park Trust, offering advice and guidance on how best to put together a robust application for funding.   In addition, the Trust has now made a further application to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

    In November 2008 English Heritage announced the award of a grant of £330,000 to Bletchley Park to cover urgently needed repairs to the roof, and in March of this year it was announced that Milton Keynes Council, in partnership with English Heritage, will provide a further £600,000 for critical restoration work.


    I’m not sure if this good or bad??

    As far as I can see the government recognises it’s an important part of British heritage but don’t want to specifically put any money into it. Most of the funding has become the responsibility of Milton Keynes council (if it’s a site of national importance shouldn’t we all be paying for it?) and that everyone else will “advise” on how to apply for more funding!

    If you interpret this differently to me please do comment below

    It really would be a massive shame if the site disappeared. The grounds are amazing and the story of the place is fantastic, especially if you’re a geek –they have a working version of the worlds first programmable computer!!

    If your like to spare a few pounds you can donate from the home page

  • Can’t set message flags in OWA using IE8

    Busy busy weekend to go before the busy week I’m expecting!

    This morning I got a call from a remote user to say they couldn’t set message flags when using Outlook Web Access (Exchange 2003)


    I logged into an account on the same server and had no problems setting the flag

    Then I discovered they were using IE8 so fired up my laptop (I’m still using IE7 on the desktop at work because I keep bumping into compatibility issues) and sure enough I had the same problem and noticed IE was reporting a script error

    Luckily I didn’t have to look too hard

    Error message when you click the flag icon of a message in the message list view in Outlook Web Access 2003 when you are using Internet Explorer 8: "’firstchild.firstchild’ is null or not an object"


    I’ve applied the hotfix in the article and the problem has been solved!

  • Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor

    In case you have been living under a rock Windows 7 RTM was made available to Technet and MSDN subscribers yesterday

    I grabbed my ISO’s this morning and was thinking about how best to approach the upgrade on my netbook.

    I then remembered that when Vista was first released there was a tool for letting you know if your system would be up to the task and thankfully there is also a Windows 7 version.

    Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor (Beta)

    Here a grab of the final report,


    No major problems.

    It’s suggesting I do a backup as I’ll need to do “custom install” (i.e a clean install). Since the netbook is running XP this is to be expected.

    It also says that ActiveSync isn’t compatible with Windows 7. This isn’t a surprise either as it was replaced with Windows Mobile Device Manager in Vista.

    At the top of the report it says that the system meets all four of the system requirements. Drilling into it you see this,



    I haven’t installed any extra RAM in the netbook yet, so was pleased it didn’t kick up too much of fuss about that. I was also glad to see that it’s Aero capable!

    Guess what I’ll be doing this weekend? 🙂