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October 2008

Guess who didn't switch to GMT?

The answer's here!

Mr Hyde
Grump

Nathan decided that – despite going to bed an hour and a half late and having everything slightly late including his dinner yesterday – that he'd not switch to GMT with the rest of the family as we came out of summer time last night. No, instead, he decided that the best thing to do was to wake up at the usual early time he had been. We love 5:00 AM!

Dr Jekyll
A Contrast

I updated the photos here they seemed more appropriate. The cute original one remains here.

A Painter in the Family

Nathan likes to paint...

So many colours!

Architecture Revisited

In retrospect, the post about how I can link my PDAs and computers together was a little complicated and unclear, so here is another attempt using pictures!

The old way.

As you can see, the original way I did this needed lots and lots of manual syncs to keep everything together. Now, thanks to BusySync and the Google Outlook Calendar link, life is a lot more simple as the Outlook and iCal calendars sync with gCal on Google automatically (and Jill can see this offsite).

The new, better, way.

The only risk is that a glitch in one will propagate across them all very, very quickly. But we're not going to let that happen, are we!? With only two manual operations needed, life becomes much more simple...

Gazing at the Embers

Well, Furnace has been and gone and I really enjoyed myself. Highlights as follows:

* The way the players really ran with the whole 1950s B-Movie SF in the Savage Worlds game. Andy's character's attitude to humans (who are obviously beneath contempt!) and the big robot's approach were absolutely sweet and really a pleasure to GM for.

* The
Mythic Russia game, where I accidentally ended up with the Ice-Queen over-achieving feminist noble envoy and it was such fun! Mark Galeotti had a fun murder mystery with Pagan / Russian Orthodox Church clashes and I had a great opportunity to be really pushy and stroppy. The game had drama, hilarity and some dark moments too!

*
Sufficiently Advanced let me have the fun of watching very high tech Sf play with the heads of the players again. The game was as much fun as the first time I ran it, and probably had one of the most epic results of any that I've run (15 star-systems sent nova to prevent an Alien Inhibitor menace!). This was so not-Traveller it was untrue.

* "The Fall of House Atreides", my
Conspiracy of Shadows game had me breaking into a cold sweat when one of the players pulled out The Dune Encyclopedia, only for me to find they just wanted to remind themselves of a detail on their characters.

* The fact that the game had Paul Atreides as the traitor. Having had Jessica in the same position in the first game at Continuum, I was pretty shocked at another core member of the family being the main threat again.

* It was also cool that a number of the player who tried my
Conspiracy of Shadows game last Furnace came back again form more. I hope they enjoyed it.

* Playing
Wordplay again, this time in the Faded Suns SF universe. I enjoyed this, but ended up with another pushy noble whom I inflicted on the rest of the gaming table. Good fun, but in some ways I preferred the Conan games I tried previously, probably because they were much more fresh to me as I've read a lot of Faded Suns before.

* Having a good natter with Mark Galeotti, who I have great respect for as a gamer, author and general media tart on programmes like Today and PM.

* Neil Gow's excellent '
Duty and Honour'. Respect is due! He has set a bench mark for the layout of Wordplay.

I had a great time and can't wait until 2009's Furnace!

Furnace 2008

Furnace 2008 is tomorrow in Sheffield, and I'm looking forward to it immensely. I'm running three games, and just have the final read through left for the last one now. It's one of the most game-centric conventions I've been to and I've enjoyed the previous two iterations.

I'm running a somewhat varied mix of scenarios; a B-Movie 1950's Sci-Fi game for
Savage Worlds, a re-run of the Sufficiently Advanced game at Tom's the other week, and a re-run of the Conspiracy of Shadows 'Fall of House Atreides' Dune based game I ran at Continuum in August.

Should be fun.

Tech-lust, in a long term way

Well, for the first time in a long time Apple has managed to produce a new laptop that actually leaves me in tech-lust. I've been fortunate enough to have PowerBook G4 12" since for the last three years, and it has been the most gorgeous laptop that I've ever had or seen. The form factor hits my sweet spot, and the keyboard is just delicious to use, with a great tactile response. I'm typing this on it now.

The MacBook Pro came, even though it's 3 to 4 times faster, held no attractions because it was too big. The MacBook arrived, and although the size was a little different, but liveable with, it was too iBook, plasticky, and the integrated graphics chipset was a big step back.

Enter the new MacBook.

New MacBook, on Engadget
The new MacBook, on Engadget, all rights reserved, click image to see original

The engineering is gorgeous, and it has the small form factor and separate graphics chip is present. The only downside is the glossy screen.

It's not something I want
now or even in the foreseeable future, but I'm glad to know that there is something there to replace the PowerBook when it gives up the ghost.

The Wetherby Bookshop

Wetherby Bookshop
Wetherby Bookshop by Katya Shipster, on Picasa, all rights reserved, click image to see original

The Wetherby Bookshop
has changed hands this week, marking the end of an era. One of my favourite places to visit, the owner, Penny, has retired and sold up to a younger lady. I went in today and collected some books I'd ordered for Nathan (for longer term) and it was a little more chaotic than usual, but hopefully the serene calm will come back and the selection of books remain as good once the new owner settles down.

I'll miss Penny, and the fantastic service she provided. I visited most weekends when we went into town and
always bought from the shop if I only wanted a single book as it was no more expensive than Amazon once you factored in the postage. I hope she has a happy retirement. As she said, this will be one of the first Saturday's that she has had off in thirty years, and I hope she enjoyed it.

The important thing here is to remember to support your Friendly Local Book Shop!

Architectural Efficiencies?

I've been pondering the best way to address some architectural inefficiencies in how I interface my PDAs together with the computers, as it can get somewhat confusing, needing triple syncs at some points.

I currently have two master calendars - one on Outlook Exchange at work, which I sync to my (hazardous area rated) Palm T|x. The second is on my iMac G4 under iCal, and I sync this to the T|x and also to my Centro. Keeping this together is somewhat awkward.

Anyway, my musings are as follows; Sync my work calendar and my iMac iCal to Google Calendar (gCal hereafter) automatically (which can be done, although the OS X 10.4 way is a little more awkward AFAIK). My gCal becomes the master calendar, which is good, as Jill needs access to this from outside work now she has moved on. I then only sync the T|x to the work calendar (except for perhaps occasional backup sync) and the Centro to iCal. The rest is handled by gCal, which in theory should simplify things... Be interesting to see if it's better.

The Centro was annoying today - it glitched and got caught in a 'boot reset loop', which was a pain. I suspect that it was caused by an error related to an SMS and voicemail arriving simultaneously and corrupting a database, but after a hard reset and selective re-install of databases and preferences it's happy again.

Nathan is pretty much over his chicken pox, and scarily full of energy!

Currently feeling: Tired
Currently listening to: Nothing (about to go to bed!)
Currently reading: The Second Book of Lankhmar (Fritz Leiber, taking so long I almost can't be Fafhd!)

Random Musings

Been a strange few days, with Nathan 'suffering' from Chicken Pox, and me adjusting to Jill not working at the same place as me for the first time since we started going out. I've also had some time to consider the gaming session which I had just over a week ago, which was good.

Firstly, Nathan. In some ways, aside from a few small spots, you'd never know he was unwell. He's been a riot of energy today, and Jill was quite worn out tonight when I got home. The picture below is during a short walk we took him on to get some fresh air as he was getting frustrated being cooped up. You'd never know he had the lurgy...

Cheeky!

Hopefully, he'll be back up to normal soon.

Jill not being at work is taking a bit of getting used to. I expected it to be strange, but I'm missing the company at lunch. Got pretty annoyed at the weekend, as I got called by someone from work with questions about stuff I haven't done in four years. Thing is, it was Jill's remit before we restructured and I think it was pretty insensitive and out of line to be making that kind of call. Anyway, I helped as graciously as I could and discussed it with the individual involved today, putting across my feelings and pointing out that there are other people in place to handle that kind of call. I hope that is now sorted.

We're just working our way through the fourth season of the new Battlestar Galactica. The problem is that, thanks to the US Writer's strike, the series ends at episode 10, and we've probably got another year to wait until we see the last 15 episodes. Quite frustrating really.

I mentioned running Sufficiently Advanced at TomCon September 2008. It was very different, and great fun. I've decided to do it again at Furnace later this month. It was strange to have a game which started to shift into a philosophical debate more than an action adventure, but I think that's very reflective of the best hard SF, which the game is meant to feel like stylistically.

I'm also being very impressed with Slipstream at the moment. This is a plot-point campaign for Savage Worlds, which is one of my favourite crunchy systems at the moment, and is a pure Flash Gordon serial style fun, and a total contrast to Traveller or Sufficiently Advanced! I also read Greg Stolze's Film Noir RPG, A Dirty World, which finally delivers something with the ORE system that I want to play, unlike Reign.

On a final note, I've really been enjoying listening to Fish's latest album, 13th Star, over the last few weeks. It is definitely a return to form, and possibly his best since Suits or Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors. I'm also getting excited that Happiness is the Road, the 15th Marillion album, is due in the next fortnight. Can't wait for my pre-order!

Currently feeling: Relaxed
Currently listening to: Flash Gordon (Queen) Blame Slipstream!.
Currently reading: The Second Book of Lankhmar (Fritz Leiber) & Slipstream (RPGs).

The Pox

Nathan has Chicken Pox, caught from one of his compatriots at nursery. The poor little-love had a lousy night last night and woke up around 2am, not getting back to sleep until after 6am (ditto Mummy and Daddy). He's seen the doctor and I guess we're lucky that it's happened when Jill is off, waiting to start her new job. Fortunately, we've both had it.