2009 News

New Years Eve: Played a wedge of Rainbow Six Vegas 2, speed read The Ivanhoe Gambit by Simon Hawke today, most of it on the toilet as I had a supurb Chinese last night but they put chilies on my Beef in Black Bean sauce despite saying no to them. See, I do intend to finish this year as I start the next, or something vaguely similiar.

Happy new year!

28th December: Stuffed full of about three Christmas Dinners, plenty of beer (although I forgot the Champers) I sit here typing this up just before heading out into the sales. Christmas dinner was slightly hampered by Zombies as I forgot the Gammon and the stuffing balls as Santa bought me Left for Dead 2 and me and some elves on the magic of the intermaweb shot zombies while I was supposed to be cooking dinner.

Santa brought me a massive 12 pairs of socks (not from the same person obviously), some nice smellies including the lovely Tom Ford, a Judge Dredd book, the afore mentioned LFD2, a big duffle coat, some DVDs and Blu-Rays (Leon and Gladiator) and to top it off, two scarves. My Brother managed to get two glove and scarf sets from my Mum, which when I asked is one set for murdering people and one for normal use, went down as well as you would expect at a family Christmas gathering.

During another one of the family get togethers we talked of a LAN session and then spent a good few hours playing Rock Band on the Wii, which is utterly supurb. A small child was then taken away nearly in tears (yes, me) while Brad and Chris rocked through the night. Looks like we may steal Brads little brothers drum kit, guitar and tiny drumming stool to taken on one of our drunken weekends....

No more games finished off, but I did finally get to the end of Deadwood, which sadly did not finish in the way I thought it would, and rumours of 2 specials died back in 2008. Fingers crossed for a proper end to a supurb series.

Christmas Eve: Raises a beer to his Dad. Merry Christmas....

December 23rd: Another daily update. I have more or less thrown in the towel at AVForums (Moderating wise) as it really did take a long time to deal with things. Dont get me wrong, I loved doing it, but it really was a time suck and over the period of time my boss has been away, I obviously had a lot less time to be prowling the forums. I will be letting them know soon.

Back to Half-Life Two, Episode Two. All done. Seems I was not very far away from finishing it after all, and just four more Striders were needed before it was all done. Dont get me wrong, it was bloody hard, made difficult by the stupid dog things that followed the Striders. Especially when I realised that I stopped playing 18 months ago in August 2008 with 17 bullets left in one gun. Great. The good thing was that I found that you can use the car to run over the dog things quite magnificently. Lots of saves and re-loads later and add in some good shooting and I got the last four with 6 bullets left in my gun.

Lets take a little while to reflect back on how good HL2 actually is and how brilliant the graphics are. For a game now 2 years old and I think the engine is probably closer to 4 years old, it scales very well and the facial details, the interiors the physics are all supurb. Outdoor areas dont quite hold up to the other sections (only if I am being very critical), but still light years better than Rainbow Six Vegas for instance.

I am very pleased that I played it one last time - I went back to some of my earlier save games to play up until the point (chapter 6) to get immersed back into the story once more, and running through the silo fighting the guards, the turrets and more hunters......I thought I may have timed things to have Episode 3 released just as I finished Ep 2. From Valve it looks like the final chapter may be released in 2010. Fingers crossed!

And Half Life righty deserves a place in my top 10 games of all time, which in no particular order are:

  • Half Life Series (From humble beginings and crapping myself as a head crab got me to finding the AI soldiers flushing me out from a hiding place with grenades)
  • Final Fantasy 7 (started on the PS1 then it was released on the PC so I started again, bred Gold Chocobus and replicated Knights of the Nine in fights)
  • Dungeon Master (I bought a Atari ST to play this game!)
  • Laser Squad (Gallop brothers finest)
  • UFO/X-Com Series (Oh the hours spent keeping my whole team alive and reloading when any of them died...)
  • Crysis (Excellent game, supurb foilage)
  • Rainbow Six (The Original plus Raven Shield)
  • Wrath of Nicodemus (Where else can you find sleeping bees? And the place where Chuddley the Minatour was born)
  • Elder Scrolls series (Daggerfall, Morrowind and Oblivion, I did not play the first one, and a RedGuard character used in all of them.)
  • Mario (Mario on the SNES, DS and GB then add Mario Kart in any of its forms)

What are yours?

December 22nd: Huzzah! The end of an era as I finally finish Oblivion. With all the Guild quests completed, the main quest, Shivering Isles, Knights of the NIne and some of the DLCs (Mehunes Razor) etc. Because I also had added lots and lots of mods, I had become quite over powered, so for the last sections of the main quest that I had put off until all the other stuff was done, I wore only the Knights of the Nine Crusader armour (which is a really good quest) and used there weapon as well. Still walked it though. Ended up as 35th level.

Now moving to Half Life Two episode Two which I got right to the end where the striders come and attack the base and sadly got very bored at the repetitive nature and seemingly endless attacks - may be a 18 month hiatus will get me back on track?

December 21st: Just lots of updates for Magic stuff on my MTG pages and thinking about maybe starting Chapter 11 - really like the MACBook and have been really forcing myself to use shortcuts to give the illusion that I know what I am doing as I get myself ready for the course that I hope to take at the end of Jan. Three days in Birmingham doing a Apple Helpdesk Essentials Course which I can then (in my own time) gain an Apple Certification from.

But, seeing as how I have installed Windows 7 on my PC and want to clean my hard drive of games so that I can play all the new ones (Santa if I dont have Left for Dead 2 waiting for me then you will need a whole new catogory to go alongside naughty and nice on your list to put me on) I will probably play Crysis and Oblivion instead. Toodle-loo for now.....

December 19th 6pm: Posted the prequel now, oh and the YummyFTP is really rather good, doing something that other FTP programs I have used previously does not - changing the directory of the FTP site when I change the directory of the one I am working on. Bloody MACs, always doing something little that you think, 'why didnt someone else do that?'

December 19th 2pm: Nearly done the Chapter Eleven prequel, a self indulgent piece that starts me on the path of the Shifter class. Well, I am writting it, so I am allowed, make your own website if you want to add your own story....no, I am kidding. I would be pleasantly surprised if I got an email from one of you that said can you add this for me, so if you fancy, you know my email address.

I am typing this on a brand new MAC Book, which I have on loan, hopefully as long as possible, and I intend to use it far more than I did last christmas, especially when my current laptop has been used so much its almost radioactively hot to the touch when on.

Plus its Snow Leopard and I have my MAC Training all in the bag and raring to go, I just need a Network Manager to turn up so I can actually go on the course.....so learning some shortcuts, picked myself a MAC that I had set up with Adobe Master collection that actually has Dreamweaver and Fireworks installed for me to work my web based magic and picked a FTP program called 'YummyFTP' to work from. Only on a MAC called something be called Yummy and get away with it...

Oh, and the iPhone is still brilliant, and I may get round to my Apps soon, so prepare for more self indulgent verbose comments as I ramble on about a brilliant app that is based on a shit flinging Monkey locked in a cage.

December 8th: Chapter Ten - The Earth Mother of Harlots is up.

November 16th: I bought some new figures, one for my Dark Reaper form (which I then went to Orcs Nest and bought a Ring Wraith instead because its metal and much better all wrapped up in a robe), the one I mentioned back in July for my Harssaf (which I am now only a few thousand XP away from levelling to be able to take) and another for my eagle or bat form.

Dark ReaperBatHarssaf

And a little report to say that my new iPhone is just brilliant. I have it set up to access the WiFi at work and at home, and as I walk into the school gate, I heard it picking up my email (which is very easy to set up) the other morning from the school's Wifi, very geeky and very very brilliant. The fact that it remembers your wifi setups is a very nice touch as well so I dont need to select Work or home when I want to use it.

When you use the phone your ear does not press buttons like my old phone used to as the screen dims and locks when close to your head and 'unlocks' when you move it away again. I have lost count the amount of times I reset my voice mail or deleted a message I had not listened to because my ear touched the screen of my Samsung Tucco.

Web pages can be read and expanded and the screen tilted to be able to read quite comfortably, text messaging appears like MSN type conversations, and with a full sized qwerty keyboard is comfortable to use both thumbs to type with. Its an iPod touch as well so has all the excellent background of an ipod to draw upon, although the headphones are a little rubbish as they are with all iPhones.

I havent even started on the App store yet, but games like Zenonia (a Zelda clone) and Doom are on my list for a start.

I was going to grumble about battery life as it lasted a weekend with only light web and text use but I had mucked about with the settings for brightness and standby time and now I have put it back to 1 minute rather than 5, and have stopped touching it quite so much 'to just see if its alright..' the battery is showing a far better life.

Chuffed is not the word.

Lastly, just to finish off this entry, I have completed the first draft of Chapter Nine now, and 3000 words later, am ready to give it a final once over before publishing. Watch this space....

November 10th: One of the MtG pages down, one to go, but I am working on the chapters here first, and I promise to finish Nine and Ten before I go back to other work. Oh, and I got a phone call from BT to say they couldnt do anything about my lost draft. Nothing they can do sadly, but nice of them to ring anyway.

November 9th: Ooooo iPhone coming this week, all excited. Plus I have completed a massive PC fixing marathon, where I worked on five PCs over the weekend, Laptop Friday Night, two PCs and a laptop during Saturday and Mikes PC on Sunday. Another laptop that needed fixing on Sunday did not arrive, otherwise it would have been six!

Re-writing Chapter Nine is underway and I hope to get a good push on it during this lunchtime. I tried emailing BT and Yahoo about email recovery which did not work, so started again. After testing deleting draft emails I found that the emails do go to the trash, but God knows where mine went! Especially as I am normally so vigalent with my files and back up my pendrive a couple of times a week - which didnt help as this chapter was written and stored on line rather than as a word doc on my pen.

Well, I wont do that again, as it really makes an impact on how you construct things when a certain quip you made and thought was terribly clever is lost (it probably was not that good in the first place, but you or I will never know for sure) - how does it go? Fool me once...

Novemember 4th: My Chapter writing is much delayed as the spastic email system for BT means that if you accidently delete a draft email it does not go to the bin and vanishes. I updated an email that I had been writing for the chapter (on a virtual PC inside a MAC) and had pretty much done the whole of the first draft, some 5 A4 pages of notes.

I updated the webpages with notes I had written, and went to delete the section from the email but it deleted the whole email instead.

Not a happy fucking bunny at all as although I have the original notes, all I have of my draft is what I emailed to everyone as a taster - around half a page of notes.

October 29th: What is it with all these phone buying adverts these days? What are they doing with them? They cant be sending them to Africa or war torn places as they are spending too much money to buy them in the first place, especially as recently you could get a phone for £10 with £10 credit on it with tokens from a newspaper recently. So where do they go? Are they farming them for contacts from those people that dont remember to remove the numbers from both the memory on the phone as well as the sim card? Or simply buying them for some old phone museum? No one spends money on stuff they dont want, so there must be a good reason, I just cannot think of a educated guess (or even a Samuel Pepys guess) as to what it actually is though.....

/Puzzled.

And talking of phones adverts, I really like the "4 popular people..." one, which shows two grown men dressed as Robots in cardboard suits who run at each other in the woods smashing their rubbish cardboard swords and axes which break immediately. Brilliant. The other advert in the series is the bloke who bounces ping-pong balls in to buckets, which I thought was a trick until I saw this. Clever, or nerdier than people that look up things like this on the interenet in the first place? You decide.

Just finishing off a MTG session back from September, while also coming to the end of a first draft of Chapter 9, entitled "Hop, Skip and Chunk" - thankfully I have had a day watching little blu bars progress along the screen, well the MAC equivalent of a blue bar anyway, as I install iLife09 on a room full of Leopards.

Oh, and my naming of Chapter 13 (see below) was very apt indeed sadly, but luckily Chapter 14 that we played on Sunday went very well (imho) to balance things out as my cunning plan that would have made Blackadder grin with approval nearly worked as well as I had hoped. New pants for all and the lads return to the castle to fight once more!

October 5th: Chapter Eight "Lying in the Arms of Jesus" is up. I will be back on Magic write-ups again, just one to go then back to Chapter nine.

September 23rd: Been busy. Lots of stuff on Magic as the new set comes out and I added a huge amount of detail to my HTPC pages. I am currently half way through writing Chapter Eight, "Lying in the arms of Jesus." Chapter 13 will be played this weekend, and I have tentatively called it "..unlucky for some."

August 27th: Chapter Seven done......

August 25th: Thought I would let you see an exert from my work diary yesterday....

Boss has tooth ache, and shows me his swollen face, or perhaps he is doing a Godfather impression. He tells me that ServerX has failed last week, and that the rebuild of the array took 2 to 3 days. I try and nudge him regarding this, saying we need to get hardware RAID to enable online rebuilds due to hardware failure, but this falls on deaf ears.

He goes home at 1130am.

I speak to Work mates about ServerX. Apply it to all the servers and explain my theory on the three steps for servers and backups - Redundancy (fault tolerance of any kind, such as RAID1 or 5 for example), Data Recovery (having proper backups) and Disaster Recovery (off site or seperate building based backups) and simple things like Hardware RAID and hotswap drives to ensure that at least step 1 is covered. Yes I was ranting again.

No PCs arrived.

I will explain the last bit - we have 40 new PCs arriving, or due to arrive should I say, and School starts in 5 days. These PCs are not in one IT suite, oh no, that would be too easy. They are in 33 locations around the school, mostly classrooms. Please re-arrange the following words children, to get my thoughts on the matter:

brewery in a Could'nt piss-up a organise.

August 24th: I got beaten this morning in the London Bridge Free running event by a lovely young lady. I suspect foul play though, as she used her wiggling bottom as she ran up the stairs to put me off to come a close second.

I am currently working on a Magic game and then Chapter Seven, and seeing as how there are still no PCs here today and we have 8 days left before the school starts, I will be writing and doing web stuff shenigans all day I think.....

Oh, and lastly, I changed the Castle-Grounds portal to reflect that this is the current site by being at the top of the list of my websites under this domain name.

August 23rd: Well that worked out really well didnt it. Maybe next time I will do more than 6 (August 7th doest count really as it was telling you that I was going to do something) entries next time...

August 13th: My birthday!

August 12th: Stuff on AVForums - lots on the Desktop Sticky. More Oblivion, near completion of the Spires Quest. Painted the Kitchen by the cooker, watched more Mentalist.

August 11th: Better now, watch more Mentalist, Go shopping at the new Morrisons in Camberwell, do the weeds in the garden, played a good few hours of Oblivion. Do stuff with DnD, and on the forums. Fixed the sink and cleared out all the wet stuff from the broken sink. This sounds really DIY heavy for me, but really just needed screwing back in.

Mike rings to say that Roehl has not come in, blaming sleeping tablets. He also did not set up the laptop with a user account as requested.

August 10th: Still feel rough, sleep on and off, and watch a lot of The Mentalist. Do stuff with DnD, and on the forums.

August 9th: Go to Herne Bay, feel like crap on the way home and have a Migraine attack. Nice.

August 8th: Down at Mums, met with Brother, go to park with kids. Pie and Mash for lunch, few beers at home.

August 7th: Just about to start a 2 week holiday over my birthday, decided I would try and write down something everyday.

August 6th: Chapter Six up!

July 31st: Daughters birthday, so even though she doesnt even know or care that this website actually exists, I will say Happy Birthday! anyway.

Do you ever look at someone on the bus and think thats a nice shirt/jacket/shoes, I wonder where that came from? I do every now and then, but have never actually spoken to the person wearing the item. I do recall that one of the last ones I was looking at was a nice pair of twisted jeans that had detail down one side, but I could not manuver myself to look at any logo on the packed tube. He also had a decent pair of white trainers that had an almost Paul Smith type colour banding. I dont wear white trainers really at all, but these looked very nice indeed.

Then as the train cleared I realised that I was trying to stare at a mans arse, who come to think of it, appeared very gay indeed. I shuffled away down the carriage lest he saw me and thought I was on the prowl. The next time this happened to me I was with the missus, and on an escalator going up where a bloke and his missus were in front of me. With no gayness that could be applied to him or me, I ask "Excuse me mate, where did you get that shirt?"

And with a thick accent, he replies "Austrailia." Bollox.

July 30th: Started Chapter Six - "Save the Spider Monkey, Save the World!"

July 29th: Chapter Five is up...

July 24th: Finished the Magic the Gathering stuff I was doing, and now on to Chapter Five, entitled "Are they digging in an evil way?"

July 16th: Finished Night Below now - yes really. I had a Magic Pre-release of the new M10 set, so I am working on that, then I have a 2HG M10 at the weekend, so will probably go straight into that after as well, then on to Chapter Five of Castle White Rock!

No little lads bought this month, but I am still looking for something that looks like a Harssaf, and this Teifling Cleric looks the part after I have coloured his hair red.

I bet by the time I make another update I have bought him...

June 18th: I am working on my Night Below pages rather a lot at the moment, and as I indicate there, want to finish the website as a complete package, rather than post the final chapter which is simply a fight and then add last minute updates etc.

In my haphazard blogging style though, I have recently iMaxed* Star Trek (very good, apart from the Uhura/Spock thing), am currently plowing through the epic volumes of Raymond E Feist's novels (currently just about to finish The King Buccanner) and have once more bought a stupid amount of animals, which is my missus way of talking about my DnD Miniatures. Why so many? Well, as Tenpast has taken the Shifter class on, he can change to Humaniod characters, and so I decided to get a mini for each of the races that I can become [See Wildshaping Rules].

I even managed to get Chris to change from his current Hero Quest Barbarian figure to the Barbarian below, pictured with a Gulgar, a creature on my current 'list' of favourable forms.

This months purchases...

warforged barbariangulgar

Previous months include my current favourite form the Deep Gnome (I am using the Derro figure, as the Deep Gnome are not very good, and this Derro has a small shield and a scimatar like weapon, so is very apt) and the Large War Troll, a figure waiting patiantly for the 6 levels I need before I can actually become it...

derrowar troll

* iMaxed - Thought I would create my own word for watching a film at the iMax, which due to the advent of Blu-Ray has now spoiled normal cinema viewing as I am very critical of the detail and lack of definition. So, iMaxing a film is to watch a Blu-Ray like quality film in a cinema experience on a fricken 40' tall screen.

May 26th: Might be on this quicker than I thought - come to work today and internet down. Seeing as how my job for the last few weeks has been email, and the migration from one web email system to another, I have no jobs outstanding, and will muck about with a few technical documents, and maybe the odd chapter or so.

I eluded to busy-ness below, but really should have added that in the last six months I have spent a massive amount of time on my character Tenpast. I have spent a long time going through all the different shapes and types of creature I can become, and the more I look at things, the more I want to look. Tenpast took his first Shifter level, and after confirming with Kon that I could take a template called the Woodling which is very Druid-like in nature (no pun intended) I have not looked back.

Kon on the other hand, did not appreciate my Woodling Deep Gnome with his 29 AC though :p

So, a huge amount of time has been spent researching Humaniod and Monsterous Humaniod shapes and basically creating characters for each one. My excel spreadsheet currently contains at least 10 creatures, 5 that I can be, and 5 that I want to be over the next few levels. Add to this my trying to work out the best point in time in which I take the next Shifter level based versus my next Druid level (and believe me when I say I am micro managing things to extreme anal levels). I also made up some rules on researching Wildshaping rules so that I would not surprise Kon (or rather dissapoint myself) when I say "..can I change into xxx?" These new rules are found here.

Lastly, you guessed it, I bought a huge amount of new silly little figures, all based on the creatures I want to be. At the last count I must have at least a dozen lads, and I annoy everyone when I swap my figure for a new figure during a battle even though it does help me remember which form I am actually in!

Pages changed: Worked on the Rules page (removing references to the other game and modifying the layout slightly), and added another page for the more in depth Armour and Wildshape rules. Added another page for older news. Amended Character page slightly for formatting. Changed a few things in the Index page, adding the chapter last written.

Lunchtime update: So, other than a bit of cosmetic work that I managed in the morning on these pages before our internet came up again, I have finished off what I needed to do on my MTG site, and over the next week or so will be on the Night Below last four chapters. Then I have six Castle White Rock chapters covering around 25+ A4 pages of notes. Should be done by tea time I reckon!

May 25th: Blimey. Six months since I last wrote? I have been very busy honest, with lots of html goodness as I update the MTG page, and I have posted close to 2000 times on the AVForums as I moderate people asking about HTPC stuff.

We played Chapter 10 recently, and I am now 6 chapters out of date. There is a period of time now between now and the next time we play over the summer holidays, and I do hope to get cracking on them very shortly. I think I will finish off the Night Below chapters first though, they really are not that long..