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.

Tom

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, Jürgen 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?

Later..

Tom

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..

Tom

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..

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
VGXTP1E.CEK

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.