Tuesday, 31 March 2009

HC Again

More and more and more playing!

In Friday's game, we are hunting the elusive Holmes. We so nearly manage to defeat ourselves too! And in the middle of it we are suddenly caught up in an older case that revived itself. Cold Blooded Killing.

I got into Saturday's game not because I tried, but because I happened to be awake. First up, Matt was GMing a game, and since I was awake, I couldn't pass up that opportunity. Does mean I didn't otherwise get a lot of sleep, and I'm still sick. KFWC.

Then while trying to work out which case we deal with, we are distracted by Sofie killing a vampire. At least, she tried to. And, at least, for her it was a vampire. We can't be having with that. Sofie Goes Wild.

Then we are given a case, but Richard as Ulman really got in the way of the rest of us investigating it. If we had been slightly less strictly lawful... (and yes, I do know that Terry Moa is a cop). Kith and Kin.


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The Chronicles of a DM: Part I

[This is me, trying to run Attack on Nightwyrm Fortress]

While in the town of Whogivesa, Risan has heard rumours of problems in the town of Vaester, of Raise Dead rituals failing, and asks his companions to investigate while he seeks out a temple of the Raven Queen. They (which in this case means Alrick and Reed) head to Vaester and find out that the town is indeed suffering as rituals are failing and they now consider themselves to be cursed and Pelor has abandoned them.

They find Sir Halumoor Ironspell trying to raise his recently killed son Jothan, but once more the ritual fails. This is the fourth such time, and this time the ritual fails as a black mist forms the shape of a dragon, which then dissipates. The crowd disperses, muttering, leaving Alrick, Reed, Sir Halumoor, the priest Beldan and a strange dark skinned woman is introduced as an adventuring partner of Jothan called Moyshanna.

Which is handy when the ground erupts sending up undead to attack them! Sir Halumoor and Beldan scamper off, but Moyshanna joins them in the battle. [Running NPC good guys can be a problem when the GM knows all the best spots to go to, where the loot is, and can easily have their favoured NPC get that stuff. After this fight, I pass off Moyshanna to the others to run in battle.] The wight proves a complete disappointment, but the wraiths deal out some nice amounts of damage. Although there’s plenty of room, there’s mainly clustering and beating up.

After putting them back in the ground, they have more of a chance to talk. Moyshanna says that this is unnatural, the Raven Queen would not approve, and they should go to the Shadowfell to investigate. She will guide them the way through the Gloomdeeps to the Tomb of Sartine, where she believes a portal to the Shadowfell to be. As an added incentive, Sir Halumoor says he will give them money, so after convincing him to pass some loot over up front, the PCs go shopping! [We probably would have gotten more fights in, but shopping was important.]

The next day, they head down in the caverns of the Gloomdeeps. The caverns are tight and annoying, but they do come across a large cavern which contains the remains of a purple worm, some Cyclops, and a huge carrion crawler! [The miniature is so cute!] Roar! The crawler leaps down and thacks the party good, the Cyclops Shamen has a decent chance, the other Cyclops are a complete disappointment. Meh.

There is a large chest, and the shamen has the key, so you can guess what they did… Yep, try to pick open the chest, then smash it open. Their big prize is… a key! After their many hours of travel, they decide this is a good point to call it for now.


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Monday, 30 March 2009

Escapist Magazine gets away

Really weird situation is happening with just one website: The Escapist.

For some reason, when I try to go there, it doesn't exist! And i mean "Host not found", can't even resolve domain name, not there. Reload, reload, reload... not happening.

This is from inside New Zealand. At home, around 49 times out of 50, not happening (just sometimes, I get a brief break in the clouds, and access it). At work, around one in four times nothing happening (and I only access it at work as I can't at home).

Some great stuff there. Yahztee's hilarious video game reviews. Stolen Pixels. ...other stuff... (not that I'm playing any of these games or anything, but it's still amusing!)

No idea, but just can't access. Happening to anyone else? (Note: on TelstraClear/Saturn at home.)

UPDATE: Solution! (And not due to TelstraClear.)


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Sunday, 29 March 2009

Con...scription 2009

[I'm not going, but I'm willing to help promote this here.]


ConScription, the 30th National New Zealand Science Fiction and Fantasy convention, is bringing Prix Aurora-award winning science fiction author and editor Julie E. Czerneda, and her husband Roger Czerneda, an internationally acclaimed photographer to Auckland. Several other official guests will be in attendance including NZ authors Russell Kirkpatrick, Nalini Singh and Helen Lowe, and American podcaster and writer Tee Morris. ConScription will be held at the Hotel Grand Chancellor on Kirkbride Rd in Mangere, over the Queen's Birthday weekend, 29th May to the 1st June 2009.

There will be discussion panels, organised gaming, costuming events, the Quiz, a video stream, a renaissance dancing workshop and a chance to buy science fiction related items.  Ms Czerneda will be talking about her work as a science fiction author and editor, and will be available to sign books at the convention.  Russell Kirkpatrick will be launching his latest book ?Beyond The Wall Of Time?, volume three in his popular Husk series.

For more detailed information, please visit the ConScription web-site at http://conscription.co.nz. Memberships can also be arranged at the convention.  Day memberships are available if you wish to attend for one or two days only. Children's prices - under-11s is free admission. The 11 to 17 age group is $15.00 for a day membership.

The winners of the 2009 Sir Julius Vogel Awards for Excellence in New Zealand Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror will be announced on the Sunday night at the Conjunction Banquet. Tickets still available. The ConScription banquet is $39.00 per person. Menu here http://www.conscription.co.nz/ConScription/events.htm

There is a three day writing workshop being led by Julie that is being held before the convention from 27th to 29th May 2009. To enrol please contact conscription@orcon.net.nz . This is at additional cost to attend. See below for details.

Currently it is $90 to sign up for ConScription. Prices go up on the 1st April 2009, so be in quick before the price increases (that's 4 more days on $90.00, then it goes up to $110.00). Sign-up here at http://www.conscription.co.nz/ConScription/registration.htm

When booking your accommodation with the Hotel Grand Chancellor, PLEASE say you are with ConScription. This is important.  


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Saturday, 28 March 2009

An Hour of Earth

In around... 12 hours, we have Earth Hour, in which at 8.30pm local time, you switch off lights for an hour. Turn off lights? I barely have them switched on! (Obviously they aren't talking to TV watchers who only light up their lives by the flickering of the idiot box.) And the two lights I have on most often... are energy efficient bulbs!

If Keith Ng is right, this is largely a pointless exercise anyway. The amount of savings versus switching to more basic energy saving devices (such as a compact fluorescent lamp bulb) far outweighs any savings Earth Hour offers. (Note: I'm skeptical about his numbers, but suspect his basic point is true.)

Then there's activities done during Earth Hour. For example, this candlelit concert in Civic Square. Um... candlelit? As in, producing carbon dioxide candles? Emissions are supposed to go down, right? How much of this is really a promotional stunt for climate change, and how much is actual intended effectiveness?

Not to mention there are parts of this city I doubt are safe to walk in the light, and now people will be doing in the dark? (That said, people are encouraged to go out and view the new darkness in groups... and feel free to insert a double entendre in there...) And for other cities... (I had a quick look for crime related statistics, but could only find "I predict mayhem!" posts. Nah.)

Ultimately, I'm not sure of the safety or effectiveness of Earth Hour. Perhaps a more concerted effort towards energy saving devices? (Although that would actually mean people have to make a long term change rather than a one-moment palliative gesture.)

And yes, I am very cynical.


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Friday, 27 March 2009

76 TSVs in the publishing line...

Yep, TSV 76 came out last week, and I have now finished reading it. So, what's in store?

If you look at the contents listing, you'll see there's not a lot of items there... but if you look at the page counts, that's because there are some very large items in there!

It was nice to see the last part of the PDA reviews. What block of books are up next? Will David ever get that missing book and finish the EDAs? Would also like to see a proper take on the Benny books, but suspect I would have to write that myself. (Yes, there was that brief piece many issues ago, but note the word 'brief' there.) Anyway, nice work there Chris.

Also enjoyed the two big interviews, with Peter Davison and Tony Hadoke... and I'll get to see them myself in the upcoming months (the former interview was done without any knowledge at the time of his later visit).

Then there's the series four reviews. Nice to have a humourous take, made reading them a lot easier. Wouldn't mind seeing more by Mike Searl.

But I am wondering why we have the Radio Times piece. Was TSV crying out for coverage of that particular magazine? I'm reminded of the Back to the Vortex coverage of the news, complete and overly detailed. That was a slog to get through, and I'm guessing there's more where that came from.

A slimmer issue than previous tomes (although mine was slightly padded with extra duplicate pages), and a worthy read aside from that one piece.


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Thursday, 26 March 2009

This must be that "new math"

Some memes have flash int he pan moments, others always stay, and some come and go. One such example of the later is the example of Verizon Math Fail, recently brought to my attention via an xkcd strip (check out the alt-text, which you should do with all those strips!). Note that this was posted over two years ago! As the first link says, this is the sort of thing that, thanks to the internet, can haunt a company for years...


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Wednesday, 25 March 2009

The Unborned

Well, they get points for trying. American horror is usually a remake of another country's horror, but The Unborn is the brain child of David S. Goyer.

Cutting to the chase, I wasn't impressed. It might be due to my ever present sore throat, but I didn't have a great time in the theatre. They do get straight to the horror, and get in there with the scares (there are a few 'seat jump' moments), but they maybe cut just a little too much out as some parts don't quite make sense. Maybe an extra line or two would help the flow? Certainly left me puzzling some moments which took me out of the movie.

Which slipped from horror (scary thing screwing with her) to slasher (run, woman, run!). They had to up the tension somehow, but when faced with "oh look, big nasty creature is wandering around" yet again, you can just slip into watching yet another chase sequence, isn't it so exciting? The second half of the movie made me glad it wasn't a long one.

Most of the cast are one-dimensional, although much is made of nubile Odette Yustman's body which is often in scanty clothing (as portrayed on the poster). Gary Oldman isn't really pulling out any great acting guns for this, but at least Jane Alexander gives a great performance.

End of the day, not even recommended to horror fans, to be honest.


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Tuesday, 24 March 2009

HC Again

Due to a) being home unintentionally and b) Pete not being around, I got in on quite a few games.

First up we end up in England and dealing with a little problem. Really highlights the impact having armour/damage reduction can have on a fight scene. Certainly a lot of poz was spent by me, grrr... Plant Y Daear.

Then we hit the next day with many senior staff are there and try to get things done. Due to our tendency to talk a lot, we do get some stuff done, but not really hit a mod proper for a few hours. Which then turns out to be one I've listened to. Although what happens here is not exactly the same... More Mirror Redoux.

On the next day, I get in. First up they dealt with a case which I had already done (I turn up in hour two). A bit different, but still a lot of it is the same. Which it kind of has to be as it is a procedural murder story. Vengence Redoux.

Onto dealing with campaign issues, and we take out a little old lady that's been causing us a few problems. We nearly managed to fail to catch her, but defeat ourselves just in time to put her away. Ulman's Biggest Fan.

Continuing with the bigger picture stuff, I've been complaining that we don't need a group with the "perfect skill set" in order to get something done. We prove this by setting out to deal with a den of iniquity in the city, and barely manage to scrape through. Still, fun was had by all. Worst Strike Team Ever.


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The Chronicles of Risan: Part the Twenty-Eighth

After falling terribly ill while my companions essayed more attacks on the compound, I came round to find that they had progressed hardly at all, barely achieving more than clearing the way for our final assault. So, picking up after ourselves (and some members shaking off some Mummy Rot), we headed in.

We came to a big black gate, and stepped through... into Destiny! Or rather, into some priest of Orcus’ view of being big-up himself. He demanded, in the name of Orcus, that we must be dead before we continue. While others tried to point out ways in which they were dead, I told him I follow the Raven Queen and he could stick it. He left me alone.

But then we faced Orcus himself, or at least an Avatar thereof. He presented us with a choice, to serve him and kill the vampire drow and give him the sword, to ask for mercy, or to dare defy him. Yep, still with the Raven Queen, so told him to stick it as well. He didn’t take kindly to that, but whatever. (Some others bent their knee, but claimed that they weren’t evil. I don’t believe them.)

Once past his grand idiocy, we entered the vault? hall? dungeon? overly-complicated room structure? proper. We spotted a large room with a big black statue, so we tok the obvious course of heading off to a side room to clear the place out first. While we did encounter some ghouls, we soon found out we weren’t alone.

Vampires. Boneclaws. Lich. A swarm of bats that became a Vampire Drow. More ghouls. Oh yeah, we were getting things easy! It was a huge amount of pounding… and yet we weren’t really that seriously stressed. In some ways the Lich was more annoying that the Vampire guy, but still, while I got close to dying, never once were any of us down and we just moved around smacking them all silly.

Once he was down, we got the sword. (It very nearly became a horrendous monster to fight, but some greater power than our fictional world intervened to stop that irritation.) We were presented with a choice of Orcus’ claw to hand it to him, or his eye to stick it to him. Poke, poke, poke! With the Keeper now on our side, we got out of there without further problems.

That said, when we got back to the Drow area, we found someone else had taken care of Ulvrain (or whatever her name was) for us, but they didn’t find the treaty… we did! Ha! Whatshername who hired us was happy to get it back, and we were happy to get the money (along with the other loot).

It was a conclusion, of a sort, but now what fresh adventures await us? I hear tale there’s something else going wrong in the Shadowfell with someone or something else trying to also usurp my Queen’s power...


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Monday, 23 March 2009

The Gates Of Hell!!!

I said before that I GM'ed a game based on a story in Weird NJ, and have now poked about their site for more than two seconds to find the actual Gates of Hell story, so read and enjoy and wonder about what happens to people in dark places.


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Saturday, 21 March 2009

Two for Twice the Price

Fine, it's perfectly understandable why this is done, but it is still irritating. And many people wouldn't even realise it was going on!

While at the local supermarket, one comes across deals such as "2 for $2" or "5 for $10". Wow! Sounds like good deals! Must get them!

There's a reason why those prices hold. It's because, respectively, they are $1 each or $2 each. So, yes, get two or five and...

But that's what they don't tell you. No, instead you get two or five or... however many they are trying to offload. Do you need five? Or two? Maybe just one would be enough?

It's fairly basic psychology that makes us go for the deal, although it's clearly more of a deal for the supermarket. Why get rid of one when you can get rid of many? It might be an interesting psychological exercise to see if people will go for "3 for $3" or "4 for $8". Interesting, but still making shoppers spend more than they might otherwise do.

As for spotting it, just look at the price as its swiped, or on the docket. Any discount applied? Nope, then what got swiped was your money.

On the other hand, no-one is forcing you to go for those deals, and you wouldn't if you couldn't afford it... which is the sort of rationalisation process that scammers use.

Caveat Emptor, indeed!


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Thursday, 19 March 2009

DW: The Sontaran Games

It's another Quick Read, and this one was very Quick. The Sontaran Games by Jacqueline Rayner.

A group of British athletes are in a base (or rather, BASE) under siege, by... the Sontarans! Who decide to test them all by having them in games! (So, yes, the Sontaran Experiment told small.)

It does start out as a Whodunnit, but because of the Quickness, it brings on the Sontarans quickly, and then it's all fun and games... or, at least, games. Not a huge plot, obviously, but when I think back on other Quick Reads, this one is really plot-lite (and, if memory serves, the shortest page count so far).

The big plot twist is pretty obvious as well, certainly I picked it out, but then again there weren't that many candidates. Still, nice that screen time is given to more than just the Sontarans (who comes across as really simple).

There's not the page count for decent characterisation, so everyone gets superficial treatment (including the Doctor). The Sontarans, as implied above, get the real short shrift here.

Mildly diverting book, but only really for collectors.

Order: After/Before The Next Doctor.


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Tuesday, 17 March 2009

The Sarah Jane Comic Special

Behind the scenes. (Although I note that SJ and the team don't ever really appear in the same shot as Ronnie...)

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Monday, 16 March 2009

HC Again

(I snuck in on Thursday's game for the last 90 mins of Tracking the Guns.)

On Friday's game, I am GMering again. I finally get to deal with a mod I had hanging around dealing with Holmes' bathroom. This does mean I get to now have it go other places, and I have other places it can go! Hear it all in Alien Ant Farm (a title that's wrong in potentially every respect).

Then, since we still had plenty of time left, I ran a briefer mod in Trinity. I am slowly getting an idea for an overarching plot, but ended up making up a lot of this as I went on, which meant that the end beastie wasn't quite what I came up with to fit the over-arching idea. Oh well. Trinity: Gateway to Heck.
(I got the idea from a Weird NJ book my relatives got me.)


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A game of cards

Made it to another WARGS meeting, but no Shadowrun (as the GM had the week wrong). So I could have joined in on Truth and Justice (which was tempting), but opted instead for the board games alternative. Can be interesting.

One thing I do like in my games is that they are cooperative. So many games are about gathering some kind of resource and the player with the most wins, so either play a strategy to boost your own points, or dick over the other players. Meh.

That said, of the options available, I went for Race for the Galaxy by Rio Grande Games. Definitely a strategy game (don't interact with the other players really), and I didn't really have much idea what I was doing. In fact, I'm pretty sure I came last. Still, I'm thinking if I did it again, I would definitely improve (although that's not to say that I won't come last again...).

A fun enough game, but, as I said, I like to go for cooperative gaming, in board games and in roleplaying games. There's many, many games out there, so WARGS is nice to find out about them.


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Sunday, 15 March 2009

Watching other Watchmen

Of course, when there is a successful product, there are people who honour and/or rip-off that product (for example Scary Movie, Epic Movie, Disaster Movie... <insert genre here> Movie, which are about as funny as being punched in the face...)

Anyway, with Watchmen, of course there are Watchmen take offs. This one was long before the movie, it is Just Imagine... Stan Lee Creating Watchmen. Eh... he takes pages and reimagines the dialogue. Not entirely impressed with this, have to say. A bit over-the-top anti-communism for my ear.

But then there's the Saturday Morning Cartoon, which we all remember watching as kids (click the "watch this movie" link). Part Scooby Doo, part... well, a lot of Scooby Doo, but it is in about equal parts amusing and disturbing (if you know the source material), especially Rorschach.

Then there's The Gunga Diner, site of many parody links (including a PDF of the MAD Magazine take off - Botchmen). Neil Gaiman's Watchdogs. Not to mention many Watchmen parody videos.

It's a sign of success. And flattery... so they say...


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Saturday, 14 March 2009

Reading Ripoff - To the cheap seats!

While watching that movie below, I treated myself to the joys of the Reading Cinelounge... the very decreasing joys...

When it started, CineLounge seats cost about $25 (or so), for which you got to sit in the big laz-e-boy chairs, have as much soft drink and popcorn as you could take into the threatre, and get food delivered to your seat (for extra). (There was also the option for just the seat and nothing extra for around $17.)

Then, the costs went up. Fair enough, business movies on, all the prices went up, but to $32... eh...

And then the soft drink and popcorn was something they gave you when the movie started, if you asked for it. No longer were there machines to dispense these things, it was by inquiry only. No idea if it was infinite refill.

And now... no soft drink, no popcorn. So you are paying $32 for a big seat... and having the option of paying more money for extra food. No idea if the 'seat only' option is there, but there only difference, if there was, is paying $10 (or whatever) to be allowed to pay more for the extra food.

I'm hoping this is a good business model to someone, 'cos I'm not seeing it. And yes, most of the normal seats were empty, so I know where I'm sitting from now on.


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Friday, 13 March 2009


Like the other 99% of the world, I have now given in and seen the latest in block buster silver screen super heroics, aka Watchmen.

If there was one thing that occurred to me strongly while watching this movie was that there was very little story. Moreover, there was very little story in the original comic book. There's a lot of exposition of back stories of characters, but of actual narrative content, there ain't much.

Then again, that wasn't really the point, was it? Alan Moore was trying to show what the world would be like if there really were superheroes and it was taken seriously (which accidentally set off the whole grim'n'gritty superhero line), and incidentally about what they would lengths they would go to to protect the world.

The story is necessarily different to that in the comic book, and I think ties together a little more nicely than the comic did, with the big event being within the characters of the movie rather than suddenly going "here's this big gribbly thing which hasn't been established, yay!"

It was...sufficient what happened in the movie, but the comic of course could, and did, establish more and made making sense of the movie a lot easier.

As for the characters... I can't remember who said it, but they were right in that the Comedian should have been played by Bruce Campbell. As it was, I have no idea who any of those actors were, and no idea if I've ever seen them before. They played their parts well (although not going "that's so-and-so from thingy" like I did with Matt Frewer helped), and I'm not entirely sure how they did Dr. Manhattan. There's a must-see behind the scenes featurette.

Definitely a different beast to the comic book, wouldn't call it better or worse, just different. By itself, it's all right, but stands better by itself with knowledge of the comic book (if I can put it that way).

The only bad point was needing to rush to the bathroom afterward. That's a long movie!


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Thursday, 12 March 2009


I have to admit, I'm surprised. I didn't expect it, and yet, it happened. I got my old laptop back! Noel Leeming simply replaced the motherboard and DVD drive (which I think was merely a symptom of the motherboard breakage, but if it was easy for them...).

I had considered it written off, hence the previous new laptop posts. Really, is replacing the motherboard now become nothing? I was thinking they would come back with a price, it'd be high, and we'd both say "don't worry about it" (although I would have asked if the files could have been saved).

But... I got it back! Way to go five year warranty!

Of course the first thing I did was to back up the files. As is recommended. And hit just how slow USB 1.0 is... and how amazingly fast it is. How speedy has computers come? How dependent are we on them? And how annoying is Windows that it locks files?

Seriously, "this file is locked and cannot be copied" (or whatever the error message is). It's my computer, why can't I access the file? And no wonder I was running low on space, various AVI files were in the Temp Directory. What? That's several gigs there! Just what is stored on the computer that we don't know about it.

Anyway... I got the computer back. Yay!


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Wednesday, 11 March 2009

HC Again

MyPodCast is undergoing... possibly a completely shut down, so the files are currently being put on the Internet Archive. RSS feed to change if this is permanent.

So, Friday's game was Terry in charge, and I had no idea what I was doing. This is why we spent a lot of time wandering around, not doing much. The West is in the Crapper: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5. Poking Around the Cubical Jungle: Part 1.

Since Pete was down sick (which is why Terry was in charge), I jumped into Saturday's game (although was nearly pipped at the post). The day was run by Abel. I turn up during part 2 of... Control: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7.

Then we ended up returning an old case that only Terry had been on, and did it in a way the GM didn't expect, so we kind of ended earlier than he was thinking. Redemption: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

Finally, we ended up chatting and recording Gamer Talk 45.


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Tuesday, 10 March 2009

The Chronicles of Risan: Part the Twenty-Seventh

Where were we? We had just reached the city of mumblemumble in the land of cantremember, a splinter offshoot of the Shadowfell, complete with sun and everything, which made it feel really weird. (As I follow my lady, the Raven Queen, ruler of Shadowfell, I consider myself an expert on the place, although this is my first visit here.)

The bridge into town was guarded by some undead things with big claws and a bunch of ghouls. We tried to talk our way past the evil creatures, but that didn't really work very well considering the paladin's holy symbol was shining up in their faces (although that paladin is going to get bashed by his own order soon as he is good but his god isn't). So, yeah, there was fighting. Should have expected that... and we did!

The big claw things weren't that bad, although the ghouls annoyed. I soon found myself with a surprise bodack (bodak?) guest, but all in all the fight wasn't that problematic. What was tricky was then deciding the next way forward. There was a gate of mummy-style bandages and rot and stuff, which meant we gave that a miss and peeked over the walls. There was a huge black structure that looked to be the goal, but we could either go past a temple-type place or through some ruins... which contained a guard outpost. Temple it was.

We tried to brash our way past, but that wasn't ever really going to work. The priest called out a Nightwalker to his aid (which wasn't as bad as the tales would have you believe), but what was more annoying was the damn skulls on poles which meant we were more susceptible to their powers. And then two traps sprang up... but once I was momentarily unentangled from the fight, I took care of them (I really am a great thief) before getting back into it.

Not that this was easy. In fact, it was a hard slog that took a lot out of the paladin. The Nightwalker disappeared once we took out the priest, but I suspect it wasn't what it wanted to do. With our reserves down, we decided to back off, although this could lead to facing refreshed forces on our return...


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Monday, 9 March 2009

Watching the Watchmen Watchers

This seems to be one of them phenomenums (phenomeni?). As soon as it came out, it appears everyone saw Watchmen within five minutes of its release. It's discussed on Stuff, Twenty-Sided Tale, Skepchick, Pharyngula...

As for me... not yet. I prefer to not go to a packed theatre if I can help it. I have seen a few movies in such conditions, Independence Day comes to mind, and I think that was after it had been out for soem days. Alternatively, I saw Star Wars: Phantom Menace within twelve hours of its release, and yet the theatre wasn't even half full. Mirrors was another non-full first release day movie I went to. Shrek 2 was full even after a week.

But, generally speaking, I tend to leave it a week, to let the first rush of "OMG, must C!" get out of the way, then go in for a relaxed time. Typically on a Tuesday, as that is cheap movie day. (On those rare occasions I splurge for the luxury seats, usually I go NOT on a Tuesday so I don't feel like I'm paying too much extra, although even then the theatre is often barely occupied so I could have had nice quiet atmosphere for the cheaper price anyway.)

There were... three, of the top of my head, times when I saw a movie with no-one else in the theatre: Scream 2 (or was it 3?), Snakes on a Plane and Deathproof. Yeah, I enjoyed that. (Who says people go to movies for the community experience?)

As for Watchmen... maybe this week in the expensive seats on Thursday... but maybe later as well (cheap seats all March!). No doubt, either way, like those above, I'll be blogging about it as soon as I do...


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Friday, 6 March 2009

The Gamers Again

The Gamers 2: Dorkness Rising is now available on YouTube! (Sequel to The Gamers.) This time with a special effects budget! Although having it on DVD would be far better (as the continue ad reminds you). This is Part One, with Part Two to Part Eleven in the follow on links.


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Thursday, 5 March 2009

Ladies and gentlesmen, presenting...

The Tube!

Just this morning I was gazing at my tube of toothpaste and thinking what a marvellous invention it was. It's a simple carrying and dispensing device that's elegant in design, keeps the contents isolated from the air (presuming we remember to put the cap on properly) and remains effective (as a device) for its lifespan.

How many things come in tubes? Toothpaste, gel, glue, foodstuffs, paint... a myriad of options, one delivery system.

It's not something we consider, and yet it's an amazing object when you do...


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Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Give me $10!

Have you ever given someone money? If so, you may have been scammed! Or maybe you're a nice person who gave money to a charity... but even then, some of those can get a little dodgy...

But, anyway, this week is the Fraud Awareness Week!

Now, there is a difference between getting defrauded and just dealing with people who screw things up. Definitely interacted with the latter, but have not been defrauded myself (as far as I am aware). Although that's the best kind of scam, the one where you aren't even aware you were scammed.

There are plenty of people who think they can't get hit. Don't click on emails, don't want to get involved with Nigerian princes, don't buy fake doctorates, don't get into get-rich-quick schemes run by people who are very, very friendly... But anyone can get scammed if they aren't thinking properly (eg. check out this insider's look at Ponzi schemes by an expert on human gullibility who not only just wrote a book on the subject, but with considerable irony just lost a good chunk of his retirement savings in the Madoff Ponzi scheme).

The point of the week is one message: Scams Target You – Protect Yourself.


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Tuesday, 3 March 2009

The Chronicles of Risan: Part the Twenty-Sixth

We step through the portal and... we are in a place, not of sight, or of sound, but of mind... we are in... the Void! Strangely enough, there are platforms here, connected by spider infested webbing. And creatures, of course.

Some of them have this nasty ability that they can just look at you, and you die. Happened to Reed (the Halfling paladin) and myself. With the Warlord, that is the three of us involved in this fight, we left the Dwarf and Swordmage behind because... eh, we don't like them. Although I expect they'll turn up anyway.

But in the mean time, there's these things, with other things, and that thing over there that can shoot us from a long way away... and the female drow that escaped and went out through another door. Interesting note: this void is such that if you fall off the bridge, you land back where you came from. Neat trick. As we had already been fighting, we were already in bad shape, and this fight really bet the snot out of us. At one point we considered giving us, but rallied ourselves and eventually got on top of this.

Annoyingly, when we got to the last creature, a devil, it surrendered rather than let us kill it. Huh. It did tell us that through the next portal was the Deathhold (or something), a subplane of the Shadowfell (where my lady the Raven Queen holds domain, although Orcus is staging his own battle). It is immediately guarded by the Keeper, who seeks knowledge. Unfortunately, that's not really my forte, but I was able to help the others talk him around. He decided to let us go, in return we had to destroy the Nightbringer (uber-sword of evil that everyone wanted). I'm good with that.

All that lay between us and the city with vampire drow lord was a desert. A long hard trek, with birds and ghouls and... really not something we wanted to face, still ready to drop as we hadn't rested. After getting through the last of the sand, we holed up and set down for a while. The city would have to wait...


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Monday, 2 March 2009

HC Again

Once more unto the breach, this time getting into something that quickly devolves into political machinations and... I have no idea what, as there was a lot of motivations and stuff that was hidden, as the main NPC that could have told us stuff said nothing. We do "succeed" in a way, but some things are explained differently as the person on Thursday did it differently. (And answers one question we had about who did the ending...) Nailed Redoux: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8.


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Wee TV

Something that has often been obvious with computers is to get TV on the computer (and then rip the program or something). I got a WinTV tuner thingy, so now I can view TV in a tiny screen on the computer laptop as opposed to watching it on the 42" plasma... (main reason I went for it was because it was cool... I mean, because Saturn doesn't get Freeview channels 6 and 7).

Once the device is plugged in and some software is accessing it, the big challenge is... does it actually pick up anything? The "scan channel" button is pressed and time passes...

The device comes with a dinky wee aerial. As with anything described by the word "dinky", it inevitably isn't worth a damn, and indeed nothing is scanned. Great, are we back to the bunny aerials already?

However, I do have some kind of external aerial coming into my place (which I ignored in favour of a digital link), so dug that out, hooked it up, and waited... and waited...

But, YES, I have channels! Including 6 and 7! Now the real test, is the signal actually watchable?

TV One, yes. TV Two, yes. TV Three... eh... first time didn't want to, but second time seemed to be fine. C4... er, sound is good. And as for 6 and 7, get a little, highly distorted picture, but I do get sound. Which is a broad summary of the other channels, picture not watchable, sound okay.

Ultimately... if I'm desperate, but basically I'm thinking it was a waste of money...


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Sunday, 1 March 2009

The Atheist Riddle

While watching the latest Captain Disillusion, there was a pop up for the "Atheist Riddle: So simple, any child can understand, yet so complex, no atheist can solve."

Well, let us see what it is. Click to the site, and the question they present us with is "Where Did the Universe Come From? Was it started by... God?" The best answer I can go with here is "Presuming the universe did come from god, where did god come from? And if god didn't come from anywhere, why can't we use that explanation for the universe and cut out a step?" (The universe is tangible to us, per se, more than god, so we have a harder time accepting a vague answer about it.)

Although this isn't the actual riddle. That's basically "DNA is complex and looks like a language. What language hasn't come from a mind?" While science can explain how a lot of complexity arises naturally (and humans see patterns everywhere and think there is a reason behind it), it doesn't have an answer for everything, and not everyone accepts the answers they have, leading to "god of the gaps" and general denial of reality. As for a discussion of this riddle, see the Rational Response Squad, Ask the Atheist and Talk Origins, just for starters...


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