06 Feb

Leica M7 and Roleplaying Systems

My replacement Leica M7 has arrived. This replaces my dearly beloved M4 which was stolen in St.Petersburg (spit). I am very ambivalent about it. My wife doesn’t like it, and I am not sure I do. My M4 was silver, this is black. My M4 said “I understand and know about great cameras”, the M7 says “I have more money than you”. Still, I haven’t gone and shot pictures with it and I guess that’s when this new relationship will start to form. [I know this sounds terribly self-indulgent and spoiled, but this is LiveJournal and this is my obsession.]

Now as to my other obsession: roleplaying. I have decided that following my illness I need to declutter and focus. One thing I suffer from is that I chase, buy and read systems, when actually what I am interested in are settings. Settings are actually better described in source material, films, guides, etc. These are also cheaper than game systems since they are a little more mainstream (or even very mainstream in some cases). I do not need any other systems, I already have 3-4 that work fine. What I need to do is focus on settings.

So.. my first decision is that Glorantha and I are parting. Great though it is, I have Gwenthia and Taslislanta that offer me all that. If you also note that I love Tekumel then I have enough. So despite that fact that I will play and enjoy it at cons, my collection of books is all up for grabs.

Ah, that felt good..

04 Feb

Reply to Pete

Pete Nash wrote and so I thought I’d use it as a way to update you all with my health.

> Hi Tom
> Sorry to hear that you’ve been unwell. I hope that the secondary problems you’ve >been experiencing will pass quickly. It sounded horribly like a stroke to me, but lets >hope the doctors can sort it out.

Thanks. It wasn’t a stroke for certain. But it may have been a TIA, but any stroke or TIA is one sided and the thing about mine that makes it very odd is that it is both sides.
They kept me in in case I had Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) which can be tricky but mine started at the face and that starts at the legs.
The associated and previous neuropathy is what is making them investigate neurosarcoidosis as an underlying issue.
My MRI scan showed inflammation around the 7th nerve (face), so something has gone on and is behind all of this.
I can talk and most people wouldn’t notice anything wrong but I am aware of having to work my lips and mouth and my eyes become very tired by about 2pm.

It’s early days and I am not trying to leap back to work too soon. My colleagues are doing well and keeping all on an even keel.

03 Feb

Stephen Fry and Vaio

 VGX-TP1E - entertainment centre in an unique design
 VGX-TP1E - entertainment centre in an unique design
 VGX-TP1E - entertainment centre in an unique design

I bought the Guardian on Saturday, basically to get the free DVD of the Battleship Potemkin film for my son’s Russian History A level. To my delight my wife found that the high poobah of eloquent nerd Stephen Fry has a column on technology and he has just got an eee notebook! Enjoy.
On another but related note, Sony have released a truly lovely media centre PC, and yet saddled it with Windows Vista. Now I realise I may be being over picky, but in my experience Windows is not a good platform for anything realtime or critical. It is a shame that Sony can’t bit the bullet, take the various excellent open source tools and Linux distributions and create a stable and rock solid media centre in such a lovely case. How about it Sony? We know you know how to do it.. and you’re not adverse to Linux on the PS2 or PS3, so why not a VAIO media centre using Linux?

02 Feb

Goodmans GHD1621F2 Freeview Playback PVR

I have a Goodmans GHD1621F2 Freeview Playback personal video recorder (PVR) and it is extremely good at what it does, which is viewing, recording and managing Freeview digital TV broadcasts. The unit is dark grey with a mirror oblique front and looks rather stylish. The picture it outputs from the Scart is crisp and clean and navigating through the Freeview electronic programme guide (EPG) is simple and intuitive.

At any point you can set a reminder for a programme in the next 8 days, or set for the programme to be recorded. If the broadcaster issues the necessary Freeview Playback meta data then you may be offered the opportunity to be reminded or to record the single instance of the programme or all future programmes in the series. Since ongoing dramas such as Coronation Street never end, one can essentially have a permanent rolling record on such series. To view the recorded programmes you press the “play” button and all the recordings you have made are shown. Simply select which one you wish to view and using the remote you can play, pause, FF or rewind as if using a DVD player. Playback is smooth and high quality. What you can’t easily do is see all future recordings planned, although that can be done by scrolling back and forth and up and down in the EPG and looking for the yellow underlining that denotes a future recording. This is therefore not quite as good as Sky+ which lists all previous and future recordings on a single page. [EDIT: System Setting > DTR Setting > Timer. No wonder I couldn’t find it . Thanks to kopperdrake for the correction] I also have not found an obvious way to bookmark part of a recording or to restart from the last point viewed, also a feature of other PVRs. The recordings seem to start exactly on the button, without the need to pad out the recording time. I believe this is a feature of Freeview Playback and it works very well.

The unit has 2 tuners, so that you can record 1 channel and watch another, or record 2 channels but not watch a third. Some PVRs can magic 2 recordings and a live channel (Sky+ and the Topfield I believe), but this unit can’t.

This box cost me £99 from Currys and given that there is a good range of channels on Freeview it replaced our second Sky+ box very well, with a ten month payback period.

If you haven’t tried digital with a PVR recorder then this is a very low cost, good quality box that performs well. Right now I am watching Jeeves and Wooster on it.

02 Feb

More relaxed

Much better this morning, backache reduced a lot. Fairly sure arm twinges are caused by sleeping on arm! Eyes still not normal and face still weak, but much calmer. I dreamt of when my eee notebook arrives last night, so I must be feeling a little better. gspearing has as interesting blog about which roleplaying game you’d bring back and how, which I found interesting and is here.

On another note I am fascinated to see that Fuji are talking of releasing a classic 1950s style folding roll film 6x7cm camera, that for all the world looks like the old Zeiss Ikonta/Agfa cameras. Somehow I suspect it will be a massively expensive collectors item and never be seen outside of Japan, but it is very nice with electronic shutter and a coupled rangefinder. I doubt I will buy one, but it’s nice to see things of beauty still being made..

01 Feb

Home but not really well

Home. Relief. But I am not fixed, my eyes still don’t work fully and my lips are weird and not quite right. My steroid does dropped today and I am interested as to whether my symptoms are returning. Because I responded both to steroids in my face and my feet (an old numbness I have had for 18 months) the docs suspect a deeper problem with me. It does not look like Guillain-Barré which can be dangerous since 30% of patients can stop breathing. Maybe neurosarcoidosis which is very difficult to diagnose. I also have a very sharp pain in my upper right back and my left arm has shooting numbness. As I was being discharged they said that my EMG showed lumbar radiculopathy, which may have been caused by the lumbar puncture, or not.. Basically I am at home, I still am not right and I am a little freaked out.

30 Jan


Well. My facial paralysis lifts greatly day by day and if you did not know me you would think me normal if a little grim, some might say my normal face! Still no idea as to cause and so the tests continue. Monday I had the MRI, no biggie. yesterday I had the lumbar puncture that has had me scared silly since last tuesday. With a mild sedative and a great bedside manner the doctor got me through it fine, more odd than anything. Just had nerve conductive tests. This did involve thin needles which did not freak me out, proving it is needles and my poor veins that I have a phobia about, not needles. I hope that given I may get home tomorrow since we have a trip to Edinburgh and the doctors seem to think I am in no immediate danger, appearing to have responded incredibly fast to steroids or maybe spontaneously. The question remains: what is or was behind it all?

27 Jan

Hallam at last

Great. At last I am in Hallamshire and the testing can start. Not tat I had had a problem with Barnsley, but it was a holding loop. I met some fascinating people all facing mortality on the coronary ward. George was in the fire service for his whole life and was one of the first crew at the Flixborough plant explosionn the early 70s that as a child I heard explode about 50 miles away and thought they’d dropped the bomb. Roy, 88, who’d tended cricket and bowling greens all his life but also served in all 5 years of the horrific Burma campaign in WW2 and still shuddered at it. A poem may come of this.

I am pleased to say that I am starting to function better. I can wiggle my eyebrows and speak more clearly. I feel so much happier and on a good path. My good friend Simon has popped in twice, gspearing is due in today at 2pm and dear Dom has sent intellectual support in the form of SF books. My dear wife Ann has been in twice a day and looked after and cared for me wonderfully whilst I am sure she has been deeply worried. She will not be in today and I am missing her already.

Ah well. I am drained and have bad backache. L8r

21 Jan

Drab dose dammned nubb libbs

From Weds. night I have been suffering from repeated cluster headache attacks and as of Saturday I have developed facial paralysis. Not sure what it is. Am going to hospital now. I can’t speak properly and as such I can’t be of any help with anything. I don’t know if I will need to be kept in for appraisal, I hope not, but I may have to. It does not look like a stroke, it may be Bell’s palsy, (which is not permanent) but it does mean a few things:

1: I can’t lecture.
2: I can’t go to the Freightwise review in Brussels.
3: I can’t roleplay, but if I am not cancelling the Gaming Sunday just now..

I’ll report back when I know more. I think all projects and tasks are in safe hands and proceeding well.

… later on the same day …

Just back from hospital. Not a stroke, possibly hemiplegic migraine, but frankly they are all nonplussed. The problem being that it isn’t on side of the face alone, which is what nearly all such facial nerve things should be. Talking probably worse. My lips just don’t work! Don’t ask me to say ‘Blue Balloon Please’! Cluster headache rolls on, this is the longest headache I have ever had!
Back at hospital at 9am on Tues. morning for CAT scan to rule out any stroke/brain nasty and then I don’t know what.. doctors can be so non communicative and I can’t grill them too well with only 50% of the consonants and vowels!