Jun. 26th, 2016 04:29 pm
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It's been a bad few days. We've got neo-nazis walking the streets of England, an MP murdered then immediately forgotten about, the economy collapsing and the Union tearing itself apart. Take note, America: this is what happens when you let the far right nationalists take control.

It's difficult to pick out what the worst part of this is. Is it the close margin? Is it the reaction of people who voted leave and then promptly said they regret it? It's probably the the massive upswing in blatant racism that's everywhere that's the worst, but the most frustrating is the complete lack of plans on the part of the Leave campaign. The Remain camp didn't make any plans on principle, but the Leave refused to. Just plain refused.

I think they didn't expect to win, so didn't bother to think what might happen. It's all down to the negotiations, the the EU trying to make it as painful as possible to prevent anyone else thinking of leaving. Our main tax source, the banks, is falling apart as some companies plan to leave, so when professional buffoon Boris Johnson gets in, he'll captiulate to them to keep them in the country while causally insulting the europeans, I expect. It's not looking good.

I don't know just how badly this is going to affect me. My company has a lot of business in European contries, but also a lot in China and the USA, so we might survive. It all depends on what the actual arrangement for leaving is - and that won't even start for months, until we have a new Prime Minister, leading to a lot of uncertainty, and the crashing markets that brings.

The only good thing that could possibly come out of this is being able to point at the far right and say: "This? This is all your fault."
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For this year's NanoMango, I'll be continuing my outline sketches for my planned webcomic - which has had a name change since I started, and is now called 'Extinction'.

Previously, on Extinction... )

I'm trying to use just my tablet - previously, I've always scanned in my inked comics to colour, but I want to get around this and just do everything digitally. Using a tablet for sketching feels a bit alien to me, so everything is very sketchy indeed - I feel like I'm learning how to draw again.

Page 1 - a re-draw of the last page from previously. )

Anyway, I've just realised I'm pretty much doomed to fail - I have holiday booked for the 26th, so unless I get four pages ahead, I'm going to crash and burn. Woo!
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Sir Terry Pratchett died today.

The first time I was handed a Pratchett book (Weird Sisters) was before I had seen the scottisish play, so the references went completely over my head. I could see there was something funny there, but I simply didn't have the knowledge to understand it. A few years later, I picked up one of the earlier books in the Discworld series - and devoured the whole series up to Soul Music, which had just come out. And in it, there was a lot of stuff I didn't get - I was only 12 at the time - but when I didn't get a joke, I went out and found why the joke was funny, found the reference that made it make sense. Every book, there was something new I'd never considered. Something I learned from them.

Each time a new book came out, from then, I got the hardback, and stored it carefully - I still have them. I bought all the other Pterry books available, then started looking for the ones that aren't. I even managed to get a copy of The Hades Buisiness. Never seen one of the plays, though. I probably should.

So, yes, Sir Terry Pratchett had a huge impact on my life. His death today was a big shock. The thought that there's never going to be another Discworld book after The Shepard's Crown comes out is like a looming darkness - I'm going to take a long time to read that. His style of writing, the easy humour that turns your view on the world to a differen angle is something that no other writer I've read has managed to replicate. I'm going to miss that.

I think I'm going to go re-read some books.
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The latest episode of Doctor Who was a real stinker. There was nothing to praise about it - the writing was formulaic and trite where it wasn't self contradictory, the science was awful, and the morals imparted were repellant.

Th worst part, I think, was the criticism that Clara yelled at the Doctor at the end. It's implied that he knew (before he left the women to make their decision) how it wouild end - that there really was no problem, but he deliberately kept that a secret to -what? I don't understand why. And then she tears into him, not because he concealed vital information, but because he didn't take control and tell them exactly what to do. As opposed to being angry that he left them without the vital information that they needed. Combined with the whole nosensicle anti-abortion parable, it came off as an incredible disturbing rant against women making choices for themselves. Gah.

I haven't been enjoying the latest series as much as I'd hoped, and this hideous episode has just confirmed that for me. I just don't think Doctor Who is being written with people like me in mind any more.

Or anyone who understands the concept of logic, really.
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Either the hard drive has gone, or it's the psu. It starts up, but powers off before boting completely. It also won't boot from cd, so I'm leaning more towards the psu. Oh well, it kind of needed to be rebuilt, anyway.


Aug. 13th, 2014 07:02 pm
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I just destroyed my computer. But thanks to my spare electronics, now you can have live updates of how I'm, fixing it!

Or, more accurately, how I'm buying new parts.
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Since the Steam Sales (oh god I spent HOW MUCH it's supposed to be a sale and CHEAPER dammit) I've played through The Walking Dead and The Wolf Amongst us, the latest adventure games from Telltale. Actually I'm not even sure that they quite fall into the adventure genre: there will be absolutely no getting stuck until you've rubbed every item on every other item, and tried every possible combination of verbs available on the skeleton statues, because the puzzles are short to non existent. No, these are all about the character interactions and how they melodramatic they can get in reaction to your choices.

First off: I'm probably going to sound as if I'm criticizing the games (and the format), so I have to say that I enjoyed playing these games, and would recommend them as enjoyable in themselves, as well as being useful experiments on the format of story delivery in interactive media. Now that the disclaimer is out of the way: The big problem with these games is the lack of effect your actions really have. Throughout, you are told that your actions are having a big effect on the world, but if you play through twice, you still end up in the same place, with the same characters living and dying. If you have the choice between saving one or the other, you can be sure whoever you save won't have much impact. Successfully save someone? Well, they'll be dead soon anyway. Nothing you do really changes the plot.

That's another problem: the story must move constantly forward, because these aren't really games that you play, they are shows that you watch, occasionaly making some input. Good shows, compelling and well written, to be sure, but a show nonetheless. The quicktime events are especially grating: these are success / failure states, where success means more of the story, and failure means doing it again. They are rather frustrating, but it's a case of limited interactivity, or no activity at all. Every now and again, there is an interesting take on the formula - like the babysitter zombie in Clemantine's house, where it only take two hammer hits to kill it, but there's so much time available that you can keep smashing away until there's nothing but a pulp left. You have to question: do you go for overkill, and if so, why? Panic? To be sure it's dead? Venting anger?

In a way, that is the great strength of the format. Because you don't have a huge amount of control over the character's actions as events overtake them, what you do control are their motivations. The player characters are well defined in most cases; you can be sure that Lee is never going to toss Clem to zombies for a distraction, and Bigby is never going to tear out Snow's throat. However, within the limits of how they are, you can still choose the reason they act the way they do. Basically, these are analysis simulators: you get to decide what is driving them, not what they do. Perhaps that's part of the reason these games are loved by reviewers, who love to analyze things deeply.

In summation: enjoyable games, with a heavy dependance on a scripted narrative.


Mar. 23rd, 2014 11:20 pm
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I changed the washer on a tap. And it has stopped dripping.

For now.
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The UK's porn filter has been up for what, maybe a week? And already they've started blocking political websites. The ones that have been blocked, though? Both Lib Dem and Conservative (Boris Johnson is a big name Con). Given that both these parties are in the government that set up this filter, and they are both targetted by it, the conclusions we can draw is that the technical people behind it either really don't want to be working on it, or are totally incompetent. No doubt we'll find out which soon enough.
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I am now a home owner.

I keep finding myself wracked by self-doubt, lying awake at night wondering whether I have done the right thing, or if I have made a terrible mistake, and will regret this. Of course, the answer is yes: I just have that kind of personality, that way of thinking that I always dwell on the road not taken. The only thing to do is take ownership. Sure, I may make mistakes, but at least they are my mistakes.
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The ride back and forth to work is knackering me. I swear, I used to be able to cycle that far and then actually carry on, but by the time I get home in the evening I'm worn out and not good for anything. It's pretty depressing.

My new flat, however, should be much closer, so I should have a lot more energy once the sale is done. That is moving along with the typical slowness of bureaucracy, although I have been told that the seller has found a place to move into that's already empty, so it should go (comparatively) quickly. No news on the final date, of course.
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Partner of journalist held after journalist publishes Snowden-related documents.

...."clearly intended to send a message of intimidation to those of us who have been reporting on the NSA and [UK intelligence agency] GCHQ"...

Well, now the government is making it pretty clear: if you're investigating them, you and your family are targets for harassment now.
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I bought a new car - about two weeks ago, now, it's been a long time since I posted. It's a Ford Fiesta, and a 1.4 5-door rather that the 1.2 3 doors I've had in the past. It's still a little cramped in the back, but simply being able to get in and out means it's a lot bigger. The extra engine size makes it a lot more nippy than the Corsa was. I managed to get a reasonable price for the Corsa as well, a thousand pounds, which is far more than I was expecting given that it's only a matter of time before the engine frags itself. I did explain how much damage there was in there, so they can't blame me when it does.

Also? I've put an offer in on a place, and it got accepted! It's on a flat rather than a house, and it's at the upper end of what I can afford, but still within my price range. The block is a newer block, and the flat itself is very well maintained and big inside - most new builds (flat or house) tend towards the tiny box rooms due to the British obsession with having more rooms, not usable rooms. I've never lived in a flat, so this should be interesting.

So now it's back to the waiting game. I'm not sure what's worse, having something to do that I can mess up, or having nothing to do and having to blame someone else when something goes wrong.

Probably the second, because then you've got someone to swear at.
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I did not know this, but apparently there's an option on some right click menu in Firefox to open every single link on a page. How many links are there on the average page nowadays? Enough to crash my computer, that's for sure. Now I don't know what I clicked on. At least it was just a comments page at Dreamwidth, not the 'Buy Now' page of Amazon. Seriously, who needs that option?
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My parent's dog had her puppies!

Eleven of the little squirmy fuzzy worms.

...The poor girl. Apparently, she is exhausted, as you might expect, but she and all the pups are doing well. It's her first litter, so the guide dog people are watching over her very carefully to see how good a mother she is. Hopefully I'll have a few photos to stick up next weekend.
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Car has gone from worse to dead. Or at least dying. So, to recap: it broke down two weeks ago, with ignition problems. After a week, they sort out that it's not the keys, or the transponder, or the ECU, but just the ignition control unit. That gets swapped out, then as it's being driven back to me, the cooling pump explodes and dumps water all over the road (that's bad). When fixing that, they find that the destruction was caused by a badly fitted gasket, which had jumped up so far it could be seen from the outside of the engine (that's worse). Fitting a new gasket, they find that the timing belt is misaligned (that's even worse). Not just a little misaligned, but so badly fitted that it's gouged a groove half an inch deep in the cover. All the little bits of filings created from that had to go somewhere, and that somewhere was into the engine (OH GOD WHAT).

I got to have a look at it over the weekend, and it's as bad as it sounds. The bearings all have visible lines scored in them, and you could see the mass of filing at the bottom of the oil. Basically, it's ruined. While it will run, it's pretty guaranteed that it won't last for very long. The damage to the engine is everywhere, and basically needs a new engine to fix.

The frustrating part about this is that whoever changed the timing belt must have known something was wrong. The noise it made while making that groove must have been horrendous. They fucked up the car, sold it on, and I'm left holding the potato when the scythe falls. For the second time in the space of a month, I find myself out of pocket in a large way due to someone else's incompetence or lack of care, and once again I have no recourse or way of getting my money back. Yes, I bought it from a dealer, but they are going to say they weren't the ones to change the belt, and I'll have nothing.

It makes me concerned that if I do buy a house, there will be something very wrong with it, and again I'll have no way of checking, only finding out months later. I've paid for someone else's mistake twice now - how can I say it won't happen again?

Still. Practically, I need a car - without one, I can just about move in the rut between home and work, but if I want to move outside of that, I will need one. I hope this corsa will last long enough to get me to find one. I don't know if any garage will accept a part exchange. Maybe I should just get an old banger and run it into the ground, since the more expensive ones that have been checked can't be trusted.
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Car has gone from bad to worse. What started out as an electrical fault became a water pump problem, which became a head gasket problem, and apparently the timing belt needs changing as well. Next the wheels will fall off when they try to drive it out of the garage.
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Well, I've been busy. And without internet for a while; it's still not properly up, and I'm having to use the BT wifi hotspots to connect, which I didn't know about until I connected to one. It's a very handy service to have about, but it would be very expensive if we don't get internet sorted out soon.

But why do I need new internet? Because I've had to move. The builders are in the house I just left, but I have managed to find a new place: with the same folk I was living with before - the house they are renting had a spare room - lucky for me! It's a bit awkward in that it's twice as far from work, including a narrow road up a steep hill with bushes close to the sides which is a right nightmare to cycle up. It wouldn't be so bad if my car hadn't broken down again: after another week of fiddling, they finally determined it was the ignition control unit, swapped it out and sent it back to me - at which point the coolant exploded all over the road and it overheated. While their guy was in it, so I can have a go at them for fucking it up this time.

Having no car has made it rather difficult to look at houses, of course. I'm thinking about upping the price range I'm looking at a little - hopefully I'll be able to negotiate down.

The heat is starting to get to me a little, as well. By the time I've finished my (double length!) bike ride, I'm dripping with sweat. I'm running through a lot of sun screen going there and back as well, and I've still managed to pick up a little sun burn.
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Just after I make a post about how powerless I feel in the whole house buying process, I find out that the deal has fallen through. After another week of silence from the estate agent, I rang them up, and got told that the seller is pulling out. Apparently, they hadn't even considered whether they would have enough of a deposit to buy a new place once they sold this - and they didn't; at least not for the size of house they needed. I have no idea how they afforded that place. Presumably it's mortgaged to the hilt.

What really galls me is that they were scrabbling around for cash for weeks. That's weeks of fucking about while I waited to hear from them, pissing about while I sat on my arse and worried. Plus, there's a time limit on the mortgage offer, so that's got closer to running out.

I'm shy of a thousand pounds out, too. Not all of it is completely wasted: the solicitor is still hired, the mortgage arranged, but the survey and electrician money is lost (hey, at least I don't have to get the wiring fixed). Strangely, I'm less angry about that than I am about the time lost.

Still, it goes to show how impotent the buyer is when buying a house. I pay out, and get nothing in return, just because he was an idiot that couldn't work out how much money he had.
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Good lord, but buying a house is a frustrating process. It's been almost two months since the offer was accepted, but there's not any movement for weeks now. The sellers still haven't got a place - at least the last time I called. The worst part about this is that there's absolutely nothing I can do to move it along, and my fate is still in that hands of others. If this falls through, I'm almost a thousand quid out, even if I do nothing wrong.

Also, I'm having to move house - the people I'm renting from are having the entire house renovated, and have to be out of the house. It kind of needs it - there's a lot of damp problems, the windows let the breeze through, and the electrics trip about once a week, and it's going to take about 9-12 months - that's the builder's prediction, though, so my money's on closer to 2 years.

Luckily, the place they have moved into has a spare bedroom, and they have been kind enough to offer me a place to stay - at least, until my house is sorted. Hopefully, telling the estate agent that they've waited around so long that I've had to move will light a fire under them.
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