Fart a lot? You might be lactose intolerant

Do you feel bloated often, especially after a creamy dessert? Do you spend your days silently placing innocent little farts into your office chair, your sofa, your car seat? And do you like to eat milk products, drink milk or eat chocolate? Don’t be embarrassed, then. You might just have lactose intolerance.

Lactose intolerance is a condition where your intestine no longer produces lactase, the enzyme needed to digest lactose (milk sugar). Instead, you just get gas. A lot of it. In bad cases, and if you don’t stop consuming milk, you get diarrhea and an inflamed intestine.

Actually, you as a human being should not be able to digest milk as an adult in the first place! But in their rather colorful past, northern Europeans and subsequently Americans have developed a genetic mutation that allows them to drink milk even as adults. By far most of the world’s population, however, is lactose intolerant. Entire peoples are. The Chinese, most nations of Africa, the entire country of Thailand and a whopping 75% of African Americans are just a few examples.

What makes things worse is that lactose is used in many non-dairy products, such as sausages or spice mixes, or as a taste amplifier. Lactose intolerant people should be extra careful when shopping. Examine those labels!

Next time you feel uneasy after that chocolate pudding, don’t run to the pill closet and try to battle the symptoms like a fool. Instead, take a break from products containing lactose for two weeks:

  • Stop drinking milk
  • No more cream in your coffee
  • No chocolate
  • No cheese (sufficiently aged hard cheeses are an exception)
  • Stop using cream for cooking or desserts
  • No more candy bars, no Mars, no Twix, no Snickers (real black chocolate is okay, but check label)
  • No sausages (Kosher products labeled “pareve” are okay)
  • No dried meat (same as above)
  • No frozen dishes, TV dinners etc. (check packaging, some contain lactose, some don’t)

If you feel a lot better and more relaxed, if you have less problems with diarrhea and no longer suffer from wave after wave of odorless flatulence: Welcome aboard, you might be lactose intolerant. Perhaps in a later article, I can give you some shopping and cooking hints.

Do check with your doctor to be sure. I take no responsibility for your actions.

Nintendo Wii launched in Switzerland (now with pictures)

wii smallAt least this one time, Switzerland gets to be first. The Wii is available in stores since yesterday night. Specialized games stores like World of Games have sold out even before the launch event, but more general retailers such as Inter Discount still carry some stock. More information about the launch event in that forum thread over there (German). Normally, Nintendo’s marketing in Switzerland is exactly zero, but this time they arrived with a Wii-labeled truck containing two booth babes (truck babes?) and a Santa Claus, next to piles of Wiis and games. It looks like some of those marketing dollars made it here ๐Ÿ™‚

I will mosey over to the Inter Discount XXL in Zรผrich city during lunch break to see if they still have a console or two, and whether there are any playable demos.

wii at interdiscountUpdate: I just returned from the Inter Discount XXL at Zรผrich’s Sihlstrasse. As you can see in the picture to the right, there are still a couple of Wiis left ๐Ÿ™‚

The sales dude said they’ve sold through several hundred consoles during the midnight sale yesterday, but that there’s still some stock and more is expected soon. He also said that 1. They didn’t get any component cables. and 2. They didn’t get any RGB cables.

So if you buy a Wii in Switzerland today, you have to be happy with the horrible composite video signal. Granted, most people don’t see the difference anyway.

A picture gallery of what it looks like in the Wii aisles of Inter Discount XXL and Multimedia Factory.

Update 2: Someone else’s gallery where you can see the Wii truck, the Santa and the Wii girls. Not brainless broad-bosomed bimbos after all, which is good to see.


Digg!

First Photo in this article © Nintendo

The five remaining annoyances in gaming

annoyed eshuThe face of gaming has changed a lot in the last 30 years. Genres appeared, genres disappeared. The industry grew, and with it the audience changed. Through all this time, some annoyances have remained, completely untouched by the things going on around them.

Vestiges of an era where “roleplaying game” meant “draw dungeon maps with pencil” still exist. Remnants of a time when storage space was tight and cramped are still defining when and how a player is allowed to save their game today.

So I’ve identified the five point in modern gaming that annoy me the most and tried to find possible solutions. Not all of this applies neatly to all platforms and all genres, but you’ll get the point.
Continue reading “The five remaining annoyances in gaming”

Impressions from Malawi

Madonna’s adoption scandal may have catapulted Malawi into international headlines, but for my friends Alex Antener, Nathalie Bissig and me, the country has had some significance long before US pop stars have started buying children out of it.

nathalies malawi picture

Alex is currently on his second visit there and Nathalie is joining him on her first. That means that I’m still stuck in Switzerland ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m trying to support Alex’ new project in Malawi, “Exterminate All the Brutes”, from here. So as you can guess, these impressions are not my own, they are photographs and drawings made by Nathalie Bissig in Malawi, who is in charge of documenting Alex’ work as well as doing work of her own. Nathalie has posted a blog entry with some more information and a link to the photo album of her sketchbook. The images are free content, released under the Creative Commons ShareAlike 2.5 license.

malawi picture 2

I just wanted to tickle your curiosity for these wonderful images. I will probably write about the software libre aspects of all this at a later date, or in the blog at lix.cc. Over there, I’ve already talked about thin client setups with Edubuntu that the students of The Polytechnic will subsequently be working with.

English-speakers should buy Gothic 1 now

If you understand German, you’ve probably heard very good things about [Piranha Bytes’](http://www.piranha-bytes.com/) Gothic series. If you don’t understand German, you’ve probably heard very bad things. I won’t go into the reasons, but there were a few problems with Gothic’s English-language release. First it was delayed, then no release date was in sight at all, the publisher was barely saved from bankruptcy and then I heard of quality issues with the translation and voiceover.

Now that Gothic 3 is fresh off the press (simultaneously in German and English this time!), it would be nice for English speakers to be able to go back to the series’ roots. With the low sales of the original release, you’d be lucky to still find a copy, but now *Piranha Bytes are re-releasing the English version*! Joy for all!

I have never in my life found a more enjoyable roleplaying game. The surroundings are a beauty to look at, the characters are well thought out and every named NPC truly has a life and mood of their own. And there are a lot, I think I’ve encountered several dozen named NPCs in Gothic 1 alone, and this tradition was continued in Gothic 2. Gothic is not for number freaks, as there aren’t many stats and the character development between the different character classes is not 100% balanced. But if you like a well thought-out story, solid characters and beautiful surroundings, you can’t go wrong with Gothic.

The only complaint constantly lobbed at the Gothic series is that the controls are weird. Yes, weird they may be, but get your act together! If you have a single drop of true gamer blood in you, you will soak up the controls in less than half an hour, up to the point where you don’t even notice that they’re weird. They are very well designed to accomplish what they are there to accomplish: Allow controlling a complex game with only two action buttons and one to call up the inventory screen. Think about it while you play: You can control the *entire* game without ever having to move your left hand from the base WASD position or your right hand from the mouse.

So please, do yourself a favor. Plunk down whatever they charge for the budget-price re-release and drop into the world of Gothic. You won’t emerge again for a month, and you’ll be grinning on your way out.

You can [download the English Gothic 1 demo](http://www.piranha-bytes.com/gothic1/index.php?lang=eng) to see if you can live with the controls. If you can, you won’t regret buying this game.

Also, there’s Freddy’s texture patch which makes Gothic 1 look almost as good as Gothic 2 by replacing nearly all of the game’s textures. You can look at a few screenshots in [my gallery](http://terror.snm-hgkz.ch/photos/v/album04/gothic1/).

PS: Another side effect of its age is that the thing even runs on older PCs. Straddle that GeForce 2!

Buenzli 15: Explosive

The [Buenzli](http://www.buenz.li) demoparty takes place every year in Winterthur.

I spent a very nice Saturday late-afternoon-to-evening there yesterday and even took a few [pictures](http://terror.snm-hgkz.ch/photos/v/festivals/buenzli15/). The atmosphere was cheerful (“Gude LAUNE!!!”) and everyone seems to have had a ball, or perhaps two. Some quite amazing demos came up in the PC Demo and 64k compos. I can’t remember the names off-hand, but at least two were very avant-garde while at the same time retaining some old-school elements and spirit. One of them was by Lapsen, so much I know.

To my own disappointment, I liked the oldschooliest demo best, Brainstorm’s Old’s Cool ๐Ÿ™‚

In case you don’t know what demos are, perhaps this [Wikipedia entry](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demoscene) will be useful.

Update: Here are this year’s [entries from scene.org](http://www.scene.org/dir.php?dir=/parties/2006/buenzli06/). And Lapsen’s Dream of a Scapegoat won the jury prize as demo, so I wasn’t far off the mark there ๐Ÿ™‚

Two Finnish kitchen implements everyone should have

The first is the [kuivauskaappi](http://terror.snm-hgkz.ch/photos/v/holidays/tre2k6/CIMG3997.JPG.html). It’s a closet where you can put your dishes and other things to dry. Where you would normally find solid shelving, hyper glory magical kuivauskaappi has rubberized iron grills! You put your items-to-be-dried in there, the water drips from them onto the sink, and they (now hold your breath) dry!

How nobody else can have this is beyond me. Just think of it, never touch a towel again to dry the dishes! It saves time! If everyone in Germany or perhaps Spain had one of these, the EU’s GDP would take a jump of 30%.

The other thing is [built-in cutting boards](http://terror.snm-hgkz.ch/photos/v/holidays/tre2k6/CIMG4000.JPG.html). No more lugging around thick slabs of wood and crumbing up the entire kitchen.

Please, kitchen builders of Europe, steal this stuff.

The GIA mirror now (mostly) complete

My [mirror of The GIA](http://terror.snm-hgkz.ch/mirrors/thegia) is now complete, as far as anyone can tell. It’s not entirely my work, though. My old copy was only about 2 GB in size, but someone in the USA managed to track down an 8 GB copy and send me the files by snail mail on two DVDs. Thanks a lot ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m currently trying to make .torrent files for it. If that’s successful, I hope to be able to offer the entire thing through Bittorrent soon. That’s *in addition* to the normal, web-accesible mirror of course.

Yay for the GIA!