Halloween fun in TF2

It’s been a while since I’ve played some Team Fortress 2, and on jumping in last night I found plenty of changes and some Halloween themed maps and items. Did I mention items. Holy crap batman! As well as seemingly hundreds of items to (randomly) find/collect, there’s a whole trading/purchasing system now?! As well as games of tag inside the main objective-based round? Weird. Man am I out of loop. I can’t help thinking Valve have just been adding fluff to try and keep the game fresh, but I just want the old TF2 experience dammit! Sigh. Am I turning into an old gaming fart or what?! Anyway, here’s a few screenshots…

Sentry gun force field

Ceiling Spy is watching - homage to ceiling cat

Heavy Elvis enjoying a sandvich - with a pumpkin-head Soldier calling for a medic in the background

Damn that Horseless Headless Horsemann!

Blu FTW! Actually I think we lost that round, but I still clocked 100 points as the team's medic 🙂

Where’s that lat/long? Ask Google Maps!

This morning there was a sizeable earthquake in the Gulf of California, or more precisely near 24.9N 109.0W according to the first tsunami bulletin issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. When I first saw that text bulletin, without an accompanying graphic, my first thought was: “so where is that point exactly?” Enter Google Maps to answer that one.

A nifty feature of Google maps is the ability to enter any lat/long point in the search box, either in decimal or degrees/minutes/seconds. Doing so will give you a marker on the map listing both types of co-ordinates, for example:

Note that to get the pop-up you’ll need to click the green marker.

As well as using the four compass points N/S/E/W for the lat/long values, you can also enter negative values for S and W, eg. “24.9 -109.0” gives the same result as “24.9N 109.0W”. And if your point of interest is in degrees, minutes and seconds instead, then use the following format: “41 17 22S 174 46 59E” or “-41 17 22, 174 46 59” for example (with or without the comma separating lat/long is ok either way).

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Keyword Search for Firefox users

To make map lookup even faster, grab your Firefox (you do use Firefox right?!) and add a search bookmark with a keyword. Doing so will let you type something as simple as “map 40S 175E” in the location/address bar to jump straight to a map search result.

To set up a keyword search bookmark, visit Google Maps, right click the search box, then select “Add a Keyword for this Search…”.

In the New Bookmark window that pops up, give your bookmark a name (eg “Search Google Maps”) and a keyword (eg “map”).

And voilà! It doesn’t work! But don’t fret, we can fix the bookmark easily. Normally this technique does work well and I frequently use keyword searches for several sites directly from the address bar (eg IMDB, Twitter, Wikipedia to name a few).

To fix your bookmark, right click it in your bookmarks list, select “Properties” and change the location to “http://maps.google.co.nz/maps?q=%s”.

Note that the “%s” in the link above is replaced with the search term you enter after “map “.

Now you’re good to go! For example, to search Google Maps for Timbuktu simply enter “map timbuktu” in the address bar and hit enter. Voilà! Now it works, and now you know where Timbuktu is. 🙂

Silver Stream Railway

Matt and I visited the Silver Stream Railway yesterday and had several(!) rides on this little beauty:

That’s a New Zealand Railways L Class locomotive built in 1877 by the Avonside Engine Co Ltd, Bristol, England. My little cheat sheet also tells me the engine weight is 20.3 tonnes, has 2 cylinders (diameter 267mm, stroke 457mm), operated at 160psi and has the road number PWD 509 (NZR 219). It’s pulling a pair of NZ Railways Aa Class carriages, one built in 1925 in Newmarket and the other in 1912 in Petone, which are still in very good condition:

Also at the railway are a bunch of old engines and carriages being lovingly restored in the workshops where you can get a tour on request, along with some memorabilia in the station buildings.

For more of my photos click through to this album, and if you want more info about the Silver Stream Railway see their website at: www.silverstreamrailway.org.nz. They’re open Sundays 11am-4pm at a cost of $12 for adults, $6 for children and free for under 5’s which gives an all day ticket for short train rides (the track is 1.5km long). Oh, and if you’ve got a train/Thomas enthusiast with you then you’ll probably need to budget a little extra for spending in the shop! 😉

Hello Enterprise

No, not that Enterprise!

Hello to the WordPress theme named “Enterprise” which I’ve just switched to (from “K2”).  Primarily because I wanted a slightly wider design so I can post wider screenshots and pics – such as the above. 🙂

If you notice anything weird after the theme change, let me know.