02 Jul

Continuum 2010: Late Friday Night

Well, day one of Continuum 2010 is finished and wrapped, and I’ve done quite a bit. Graham rolled up about 1pm and we unpacked all our Bring and Buy stuff from his boot. I wasn’t doing the B&B but it seemed unfair to pass the organisation to someone else so Graham and I ticketed up and organised the stand, both our stuff and many others. It’s a slow job and took us until about 7pm to complete, but I quite enjoyed playing shopkeeper and it meant I could chat to my god friend Bob “Grim” from Reapers Revenge and the staff of Mongoose Publishing. We sold quite a lot of stuff and handed it on to Dave Williams who will be running it for the rest of the Con. I picked up the new Traveller Little Black Books from Mongoose: The Traveller Rulebook, Mercenary, High Guard and Scout. The pocket size (and they really are pocket sized) and the price point (£10) means they hit the sweet spot for me. Problem is, and this is a sad sign of age, that I will probably not be able to read them without glasses on, but hey.. I have glasses..

Popped to the signup boards and signed up for lost of games. Met Simon Beaver, popped up to the D101 games room, picked up my complimentary copy of OpenQuest, said hi to many people and had a fairly weak vegetable curry. [Mind you fish and chips for lunch was good..]

After dinner I went and played in Darren Driver’s Dragon Age roleplaying game. I’ve followed this game in development as the author, Chris Pramas, blogged about it as he and his company Green Ronin wrote and published it. It’s light, nice mechanics and captures a very dark yet familiar D&D style. It remind me a lot of Basic D&D, and I know Chris wanted that kind of easy-starter feel.. but the mechanics are much better and easier. We played it very dark an grim and my female PC seduced and murdered her way inside the party until Sean Varney’s female mage did for me.. before my PC’s dragon mother did for his.. Big thanks to all, and especially Jaran Wood and Sverre Larre who played into my witches hands so well and happily only to discover she wasn’t very nice after all!

02 Jul

Friday: Almost started

Here we are, sitting in the bar waiting for the registration to open at 1pm, and finishing off some proper work work before launching into gaming. I won’t even list who’s here, since I’d miss someone off, but hey, the gangs not all here and it’s already great to see everyone!

I have prepared the basic outline of the panel on running mini-con and have had a nice cup of tea, so I’ll post this, ring the missus, and then jump right in..

01 Jul

Continuum 2010 Part the Prelude

Here I am in John Foster Hall in Leicester, site of the twice yearly roleplaying convention Continuum. I have come a day early rather than coming all the way from London to Sheffield and back to Leicester in the morning. London wanted to charge me a lot to stay there, and here I can hang with the cool kids: the Committee.

Very hot and drained in this hot and humid weather I have freshened in the room and once I have typed this update will go and find Loz, Darran, Colin, Simon, Rich and the others again and see what’s what.

I had a not great Continuum last time, I was not really recovered from my sarcoidosis and it all was stressful and not great. This time I have a few commitments, a few games, but my key goal is to relax, not worry, have a few beers, and chill with old friends before setting out to Newcastle on Monday by train.

If I see you, hiya! If you see me and I don’t see you, hiya! If you’re not here.. well there’s always Furnace..

26 May

My Traveller game starts

My Mongoose Traveller went like a dream, it was great. I am running a Star Wars Saga adventure converted week by week and largely on the fly, for Empire read Solomani, for Rebel Alliance read 3rd Imperium (yes but the players chose which side they wanted to be and they chose the Imperium). It’s set in the Gemini subsector and started in a tethered spacesport above the planet Gwynedd. It’s a simple pick up and go mission for the PCs who are all operatives of Imperial Naval Intelligence, which has started to heat up as the SolSec (SS) have started to focus in on their contact and the cargo that the PCs are to collect. After a short bloody firefight (which the PCs survived but which taught them a lot about Trav combat) they have had to abandon plans to go back up the beanstalk to the space station and are now stuck on the surface of Gwynedd, on a mountain full of sheep, rain and locals who not only are strongly Solomani but also Welsh, Methodist and always singing!

I am very keen for advice on how to run Traveller games, a longer set of guns for the players, and the best way to map and record my new planet data.

Now for a movie: http://www.traveller3d.com/traveller-trailer.avi

19 May

Woof woof

Puppy Linux Icon Now I was not a big dog fan but Poppy, Rosie and Reya have convinced there are some okay canines out there and I love Puppy Linux. It’s small, fast, runs from a CD or a USB stick and just zooms along on any old bit of kit. It’s a little quirky at times and you might say that Slitaz or Peppermint are interesting light-fast-clean Linuxes.. and you’d be right I run Peppermint as my backup PC system right now.. but Puppy is CUTE!

Not only that but Puppy 5 is actually based on Ubuntu 10.4 and is called Lucid Puppy! Now I am not going to suggest that you use it as a hard drive installed Linux, if you have an old PC then run it from a CD and it’ll copy to RAM and run incredibly fast in memory (it only is 128mb in size), and if you sometimes wander from PC to PC, then keep a USB or CD version in your pocket so you can boot that lumbering Windows monster into a fast light and delightful desktop.

Woof Timeline

With Puppy Linux, you can carry your programs and data anywhere.

* Easy – Just use a CD or USB flash to boot a PC. Puppy Linux is downloadable as ISO, an image that can be burned to CD or DVD.
* Fast – Because Puppy is small, it can live in your PC’s memory and be ready to quickly execute your commands, whereas in other systems, programs are first read from drive storage before being executed.
* Save Money – Even if your PC has no hard disk (ex, broken hard disk), you can still boot Puppy via CD or USB and continue working. Old PCs that no longer work with new systems will still work good-as-new with Puppy.
* Do More – Puppy boots in less than a minute, even in old PCs, and it does not require antivirus software. Administering Puppy is quick and minimal. With Puppy, you just have to take care of your data, which you can easily save to USB flash (Then forget about your operating system!). Your data can be read by other computers.
* Do Magic -Help your friends suffering from computer malware by booting Puppy and removing malware from their PC (use antivirus that is built-in or can be installed in Puppy). Example – bad Autorun.inf is easily removed by Puppy (Just delete it as well as its companion exe program). If your friend thinks that she has lost data from her corrupted hard disk, boot Puppy and try saving her data!
* Carry Anywhere (Portable) – Because Puppy is able to live in CD/DVD or USB flash, as well as save data to these same devices, you can carry your programs and data with you.


14 May

Convert png to pdf

Linux tip, Fedora tip / howto: convert multiple images to a PDF

back to notes and tips index

Let’s assume you have scanned 10 pages from a book to files page1.png, page2.png, …, page10.png. We’ll use ImageMagick’s convert for the conversion.

* to reduce the final filesize, you can first reduce the color map size of the files, for example:
convert page1.png -colors 32 page1b.png
(increase/decrease the number 32 depending on how many different colors you’d like to see in the final PDF)
* if you’re running tcsh as your shell, you can do all pages in one go by:
foreach f (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10)
convert page$f.png -colors 32 page${f}b.png
* convert the resulting images into a single PDF:
convert page*b.png mydoc.pdf

If you get an incorrect page count (recently I saw this when converting two PNG files to a PDF, it gave me page count of 1), you can try the following:

* convert page*.png mydoc.ps
* ps2pdf13 mydoc.ps
* if stuff from a scanned A4 page does not show up correctly, you can try:
ps2pdf13 -sPAPERSIZE=a4 mydoc.ps

(so you first convert to PostScript. ps2pdf13 is part of the ghostscript package)

all sourced from: http://www.patrickmin.com/linux/tip.php?name=convertpdf

10 May

Nice weekend

After a good Saturday’s gardening and a productive day looking at properties, Matthew surprised me by taking me to see Alabama 3 at the O2 Academy. Like some I have previously over-thought music, but as I get older I appreciate a good tight set of veteran musicians creating a wall of sound with a driving bass and an irresistible rhythm and that’s what Alabama 3 deliver everytime. With three very different front vocalists, a serious guitar and bass troupe, two drummers and a great keyboard player they can sweep an audience to their knees with tracks such as Hypo Full of Love, Mao Tse Tung Said (curiously delivered wearing a Mickey Mouse hat) and Woke Up This Morning. A good mix of new and old tracks.

03 May

May Day Weekend

In between (and sometimes during) rain showers I sorted the greenhouse, planted out tomatoes, mowed the lawn, treated it with lawn sand, clipped the hedge back hard, made paper pots, fitted a door bell and am about to clear the hedge trimmings and then do some pricking out and potting on. Weeding may have to wait. I also unpgraded my desktop from Ubuntu Karmic 9.10 to Lucid Lynx 10.04, mulled a full switch to 64bit, decided that my Samsung hard drive is actually dead, and went to Graham and Claire’s housewarming. Managed to fit in Doctor Who, and may read Sandman before bed.

03 May

Brooker on Bigotgate

“The press held up Brown’s Bigotgate outburst as evidence that he’s two-faced and contemptuous of everyday people, especially those who mention immigration, a subject so taboo in modern Britain that even fearless defenders of free speech such as the Mail and the Express only dare mention it in hushed capitals tucked away on the front page of every edition.”

Charlie Brooker, The Guardian, 3 May 2010