19 Aug

Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Ann and I went to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 16th-19th August 2008 and had a great time. The city is beautiful and stylish and compact, the venues far more pleasant than the tents we are used to folk festivals and the acts were pretty darned fun.

My favourites were: Jimeoin, Shakespeare for Breakfast and the excellent production of On the Waterfront produced by Steven Berkoff.

We shall go again and I shall be at Edinburgh again as soon as I can..

12 Aug


Do you have an older machine? Is it straining to keep up with XP or is it still running Windows 98 or ME? Have you tried Linux and found that the GNOME or KDE environments are just too much for your old computer? Well, before you run to PC World to waste a shedload of money on a new box, consider Xubuntu.

Xubuntu is my old friend Ubuntu Linux, but with a very keen eye on running on older and less powerful computers. It does this by (paradoxically) only using the most up to date software and limiting the number of extra libraries and services it runs. It also pre-installs faster lighter applications where they will probably meet your needs (so Abiword and Gnumeric as word processor and spreadsheet rather than the hog that is OpenOffice). If you want you can still install the heavier versions if you need them. [Do you know just how eay it is to install Ubuntu Linix software?]

XFCE DesktopXubuntu uses the Xfce desktop environment, meaning that it will run fast while still delivering a user-friendly interface. It’s a little like a simple Mac, but in many ways it also brings to mind the less complex days of GEM, Windows 3, System 9 and other windowing systems of the 80s and 90s.

What all this means is that your PC, with at least 193Mb of RAM, and even an old processor (I type this on a Pentium 3 500Mhz) will zip along as fast if not faster than it did when new and shiny. Now.. as long as you don’t need to run the latest graphics card monsters from a games shop.. that could save you lots of pennies to spend on something more interesting instead..

Go Xubuntu!

11 Aug

On me Travels again

I am up in Newcastle working on some papers and Delphi survey design work. I have dropped off Furnace leaflets at Travelling Man and Forbidden Planet. Good or bad there was a sale in TM and I picked up the Blue Rose rpg and the World of Aldea book at half price. It’ll be a nice read.. when I get through the pile.

I found the Masterplan podcasts in which Chris Birch of Cubicle 7 Entertainment talks about two licensed properties they’re working with: Starblazer Adventures & the Doctor Who RPG. Masterplan Podcasts. Both fascinating, and I know gspearing is very keen to get his hands on Starblazer.

I have watched all of Series 1 of Andromeda last week, ending today. It’s great old skool SF space opera, and I have to say I love it. Nathan and I want to work on a Savage Worlds SF setting and I am going to ensure that it’ll be supported by a set of SW rules/writeups that I can easily use for Andromeda games, since my friend Martin H is also a great fan. A huge Andromeda/Farscape mash up would also be fun.

The weather has been poor all weekend, but it’s been quite fresh and sunny here in Newcastle. I am here until Wednesday, at home office on Thursday and off to the Edinburgh Festival next weekend.

07 Jul

Bye Bye Guilfest

We have just been to Guilfest which we have been going to for er, um, at least twelve years and maybe more. It was pretty good fun, we saw the Levellers, Blondie, Kula Shaker, From the Jam and the Australian Pink Floyd Show. We met up with Neil and Pam and Matt and his girlfriend Laura came with us. Jim and Janet Collins came and spent a very cold and wet Saturday with us. It will, however, be the last Guilfest for a while. They have banned alcohol from being brought into the arena, leaving you to buy your booze from their beer tent, and they didn’t give any warning of this in advance. It just isn’t fun having to smuggle wine and beer into an event where we have always happily had a picnic with our own tipple to hand, and that combined with a weaker lineup means we shall probably not be bothering again next year.

It’s a shame, we’ve seen some great acts at Guilfest over the years, but it looks like it may be time to look elsewhere.

Matt and I had some great bonding moments, it was good going with him.

27 Jun

I saw this on Facebook and it made me smile:

“Robin D. Laws and Jonathan Tweet are now friends.”

You need to be quite a deep gamer geek to find it amusing.

26 Jun



The Tavern seems crippled by my new hosting company servers, but having migrated all my sites their over the last 6 months I was ready to close the old host account and save 7 bucks a month.

At work I have got ourselves in the stupid position of agreeing to deliver effectively the same course twice in two different schools, which given that we aren’t even paid to teach is a very silly thing to do when we could do just one and combine the students. I suspect all I will get when I suggest this is unpopular with three Heads of School.

I am starting to get really low at how Gwenthia has stopped being fun and effectively crippled once we started doing rules, even though Pete has done some really excellent work on it. We need to discuss it at Continuum.

But most of all I am utterly drained and worried about the possibility that we are facing an intimidation campaign from the people who attacked Matthew. The paint attack on the car (rumoured to have been done by 2 friends of the original attackers) was followed by a couple of cruise-bys. I worry that as the summer goes by we’ll see more of this as they try and get Matt to withdraw his testimony.

It is seriously worrying Matt, he’s sleeping with a walking stick by his bed, and has utterly crushed Ann’s spirit. I just don’t know what we can do.. the police have alternated between organisational indifference to some real attempts to help by the local police constables. But they can’t be here all the time, we need to work out some strategies and ones that don’t leave Matt more traumatised.

Off to see how much it will cost to respray Matt’s car shortly, then maybe we will go and look at security cameras at the Maplin store in town.

24 Jun

More Fun in ShitLand

I am in Netherlands, Ann is running a course in Warwickshire.
Matthew woke up this morning to discover his car has had a pot of paint emptied on it.
He rang police who were utterly uninterested, despite the previous assault and associated threats of intimidation.
Closed it immediately, no interest in collecting any forensics.
Now if this is who we think it is and they left any forensics it is a home run for the police, but they don’t care.
I then rang and tried to escalate it and was basically told if I don’t like it then complain to the Chief Superintendant.
It’s not like it was a random event in a big city, we have a clear suspect and we live in the countryside, someone had to travel to our place to do this. Ah well, the policeman who is handling the assault case is on at 9pm and I have asked him to ring. Looks like I may be becoming quite disillusioned with the police shortly. Problem is it completely destroys all the positive messages we have given Matt to trust in the system. Fortunately he has taken a positive view and has filled the house with all his mates and they’re going to have a big party and sod the vandals!

20 Jun


Just coming back from London where, in addition to work, I went to see the musical Hairspray. What a happy, joyful, anti-racist, anti-sizist bundle of great Sixties music, wonderful performances by Leanne Jones and Michael Ball and one of the only musicals I’ve been to where one felt the audience (which had many big, beautiful and blonde ladies in it) would break out dancing. They certainly were singing along.. A great show, not at all preachy with some great R&B, Motown and rock n roll inspired numbers. I can see real women (and I don’t mean just big girls, Tracey’s friend is long and lanky) loving this musical and men who love real women will love it too. It’s kind of what the Sixties should have been, and in many ways was..