27 Mar


I am watching ‘Tales of Earthsea‘, the latest Studio Ghibli film based on some part of the Ursula K LeGuin books. I loved the books, they opened the doors to non-Tolkien fantasy in a much better way than Moorcock. Sad to say, 60 minutes in and I suspect this as duff a film as the IMDB reviews suggest and LeGuin hints herself on her webpages. It wasn’t made by Hayao Miyazaki and isn’t patch on other masterpieces such as Nausicaa, Laputa or Kiki’s Delivery Service. Very sad.

Over the last week I have realised that there is no way I can afford to heat my greenhouse, save to stop the frost. I have moved all the seedlings and propagation indoors. I have created and planted a bulb area in my borders, and realised that my problem is that we have no topsoil. Since I am building my raised beds soon and they will need topsoil, I shall order extra and layer it onto the back beds. I have fertilised my raspberries, planted rhubarb plants, popped in a blueberry and potted on my tomatoes and fuschias. I’ll need to get my veg. bed sorted soon so I can plant out cabbages and lettuces in a fortnight or so.

I have been working all week, and although my boss is very keen that I do not travel too far, I think I need to get out and start my wider job soon.

Gaming wise there is no sign of the promised Traveller game so I think I may run some Gwenthia on Tuesdays now we have a full ruleset to playtest. I have a planned Talislanta game next Thursday with my son and his friends, I shall run Scent of the Beast. I have found the pretty rare Sub-Men Rising campaign by robin-d-laws. Maybe I’ll get to run it all! I am implementing the more restricted magic rules from Codex Magicus to throttle back magic a little and give a reason to wizards to track down spells and artefacts. It looks like darransims may run some HeroQuest Tekumel at Continuum and that would be awesome.. I hope he knows how popular it will be..

19 Mar


Well I do have a diagnosis although, as with many rare and odd medical cases, it is not a 100% nailed-down with certainty. I have (and appear to still have) neurosarcoidosis.

Neurosarcoidosis (sometimes shortened to neurosarcoid) refers to sarcoidosis, a condition of unknown cause featuring granulomas in various tissues, involving the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). It can have many manifestations, but abnormalities of the cranial nerves (a group of twelve nerves supplying the head and neck area) are the most common. It may develop acutely, subacutely, and chronically. Approximately 5-10% of people with sarcoidosis of other organs (e.g. lung) develop central nervous system involvement. Only 1% of people with sarcoidosis will have neurosarcoidosis alone without involvement of any other organs. Diagnosis can be difficult, with no test apart from biopsy being completely reliable. Treatment is with immunosuppression.[1] The first case of sarcoidosis involving the nervous system was reported in 1948.[2] – Wikipedia, All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

It seems that reducing the steroid dose to 10mg a day has allowed various symptoms to return, my eyes, or more accurately the muscle around my eyes, don’t work properly and ache all day. On the higher dose they worked fine until 4-5pm. My face has also started to ‘freeze’ or ‘spasm’ intermittently.

So, we are increasing the dose back to 20mg a day for 2 weeks, 15mg for 2 weeks, 10mg a day for 2 weeks and some more MRI scans of my brain and spine in the meantime.

17 Mar

Open Source Alternatives

You know what you want to do.. you know which commercial software does it.. but some fool (maybe you or maybe a ‘Linux’ or ‘OS X’ friend) has got you on an operating system that doesn’t run it, or you don’t want to shell out more money..

What you need is free open source software.. but it’s all crap innit?

No! Much of it is brilliant, so what this site does is map a commercial programme you may know with the FOSS alternatives: so I want iMovie.. this will suggest Kino or various others..

This is a great resource and worth keeping whatever operating system you run to be able to save money, avoid piracy and support FOSS:


Oh and while I am at it, a site just for OS X freeware software:


09 Mar

Talislanta Gaming Weekend

We had our second gaming weekend session. Simon stayed over last night and today we played my first ever Talislanta game. I have adored Talislanta for years and years and (according to Simon and Graham) wittered about it but never run it. It’s been something I have been a little unsure of letting people see since it is so cosmopolitan and alien and a little silly.. and everyone loved the setting, the system, I managed to ft the whole scenario in and everyone had FUN! FUN is our objective and so success all round.

I am SO happy!

02 Mar

Bloody Gales

HilaryBloody gales, hammering on the roof. Can’t sleep. When there was an earthquake I assumed it was the wind ripping off the the roof.. again. We have such a nice house but we live in such a valley of wind..

I am always slowly scanning, editing and cataloguing old pictures. The latest are a set from University and the NODDSOC 25 hour roleplaying events. Some nice nostalgia if you were there or know the people..

I have also posted an idea for sorting out WebDAV on Ubuntu Brainstorm. If you have the time please vote for it..

My steroid dose reduced again yesterday. I have been having weird little facial muscle “freezes” all week.. and an appointment with my consultant on the 19th March.

Looks like Hilary has had it. Obama looks to be the winner in the Democrat primary. Mind you I have nothing against Hilary except she has a discomforting stiffness, but I think women have a hard time balancing the sexism and expectations in political life, it’s a tricky one.

I am running a Talislanta game on the 9th March so I need to focus on that fully and deliver a great gaming experience. I hope people are going to come.. it’s gone a little quiet.


27 Feb

Great Thunderbird Add-Ons

Now you know that Mozilla Thunderbird is a great mail client, right? Works well and protects you and is good wholesome free open source software..

But do you know that you can add-on all sorts of little extra stuff that customises, enhances and generally makes Thunderbird do all sorts of stuff? They’re called.. gee.. Add-Ons..

No? Well let me tell you the ones I use and rate..
Yes? Then I’ll show you mine but you show me yours..

Display Mail User Agent Extension by Christian Weiske, J├╝rgen Ernst

Displays icon for user agent of received mails. Adds an image on the right side of the “expanded header view” which displays the icon of the application with which the selected mail was written. So if the person which sent the mail you’re currently reading used mozilla to send this mail, a mozilla icon will be displayed. In feedback window the link to the website of that mail client is shown. And you can click on it.

This is largely fun but has some uses. It’s great to see just what people are using as their mail client..

LookOut 1.2.1
by Aron Rubin

LookOut is a plugin which allows Thunderbird to interface with Microsoft’s mail tools by decoding metadata and attachments encapsulated/embedded in a TNEF encoded attachment (aka winmail.dat). The TNEF decoding engine was inspired (with permission) by the tnef.sf.net project.

This is a very good idea, those winmail.dat attachments puzzle and annoy me. On the other hand I am not sure just how close to helpful this add-on has got. I have it installed and since I know longer have “winmail.dat” problems I think it works.. it’s worth having since they are advancing towards some things like contact information having nailed normal attachments..

Remove Duplicate Messages
by Thorsten W. Schmidt, Thorsten W. Schmidt

If you have duplicate messages (e.g. from merging folders or downloading messages several times) you can use this tool to find and remove them from the selected folder and its subfolder by rightclicking on a folder and choosing “Remove…

This is a real workhorse.. which is maybe it appears to have been written by the same man twice! If you have accidentally ended up with duplicates in your folders then this is a goof fast and efficient way to clean the bad confused puppies out.. hang on, do you think it has the same author twice as some cute Germanic coder joke?



21 Feb

Soft Rime

We’ve been having freezing fog and “soft rime‘ which is kind of like snow but it isn’t.. It is -7 degrees Celcius the last few mornings.

From Rime

I feel crap today.. I felt like a truck had run me over Monday, great Tuesday and the truck has been back today. Matt has a bad cold and we just watched Resident Evil: Extinction, which was a great blast. Nowt original but rock’n’roll fun as usual..

Now, time to write my rpg tribute trilogy of scenarios..


17 Feb

Gaming Weekend

Our gaming weekend has been going very well. We had a great game of Twilight Imperium on Saturday, although it would have gone much quicker if we had not had to clip out little spaceships for 90 minutes first. Once we got going we found the game runs quite smoothly and although the huge numbers of tokens did get a leetel unwieldy we enjoyed it. We played for about 7 hours but didn’t quite finish, next time we should complete a full 5-6 player game in about 7-8 hours. Mind you.. it may be some time before we get the chance. Dom and Simon and I then sat up with Ann until quite late putting the world to rights and talking about manufacturing and work..

From Twilight Impe…

Today Dom is running his Savage Worlds conversion of the classic 2300AD adventure “Mission Arcture”. Graham and I are playing Aussie Special Forces and sitting here with Billabong outback hats and Aussie T-shirts from when I was at Ayers Rock.. The game is running quite well.. I hope people enjoy it.

From Gaming Weeken…

I think that the Savage 2300AD game showed that 2300AD works fine with the Savage ruleset and indeed can cope with awesomely overpowered weapon systems and still run well. Sadly, having played the scenario twice it is basically a long corridor with an endless supply of Kafers to kill. We had fun but I think there may be better ways to enjoy 2300AD with any system. As I said, we had fun and big thanks to Dom..

Dom’s writeup is here.

From Gaming Weeken…
From Gaming Weeken…
From Gaming Weeken…

16 Feb

Doing stuff but eyes tired

I am getting quite a lot done, we had a nice evening with our friends the Nerurkars on Wednesday night. Then on Thursday I went into the Hallamshire hospital and had a MRI scan of my lumbar and lower back region to investigate the lumbar radiculopathy I seem to have.. I took a Pink Floyd album and chilled in the tube! Friday I went and helped Helena setup her new Servage account, emails, ftp server, and the beginnings of their various family websites, especially her son Max’s skating website.. that boy does great sk8r stuff and (IMHO) great photos.. I then cut back the dead ornamental grasses in the garden and planted some more daffodils alongside the snowdrop and bluebells in my new border. My greenhouse arrives next Friday and I am starting to get into this gardening lark big time. BTW if you want some very cheap snowdrops to plant into a border or lawn.. there’s an offer at T&M..

14 Feb

Update, Leopards and Nonsense

I go to a lower dose of steroids today. The last reduction has made me very aware that my face isn’t fixed.. closing my eyes and forming words has become more difficult all week. However I am basically sound and will start work again on the 18th. Like my other interests I shall focus on certain key tasks since I have been pleased to say that my team have shown that they can operate well on their own and I can stop micro managing and let them fly.. every cloud has a silver lining. My eyes get tired quickly so I’ll have to go easy.. I also suspect that glasses may be an accessory I shall enjoy losing.. soon.

Rich Crawley came to see me Tuesday and we had a great old chinwag. He’s just upgraded his Mac to the new Mac OS X Leopard and told me all about the new features such as the new “Cover Flow” Finder option and the very cool “TimeMachine” backup system. All sounds elegant and stylish and (note this Microsoft) useful. The combination of ergonomics and elegance in Apple products is why, however much I love Linux, I will always have a Mac somewhere..

Anyhow, apart from the usual Government bollocks and the usual media bollocks about the death of DAB, I have no more update for today.. and shall wend my way to a nice cup of tea..