Yikes. I just checked and Orkut was shutdown nearly 2 years ago :O
Saturday I had to get up early cos I was heading in to London to do a tour with Hidden Wonders. They do guided tours of historical parts of London with a twist. Each location has a puzzle to solve and once you've got all the answers there's a mystery to solve - in our case a crime had happened and we had to work out who had done what to who etc... We had it pretty nailed down, but had to skip one of the points of interest/puzzles due to the torrential downpour. It didn't stop us solving the ultimate puzzle though. Afterwards back to ketchgirl's for cake (and tea for those debased enough to drink it ;) ) and then since I was in London and it was the right weekend, I figured I should head to LOTNA. There was pie and a quiz and despite some quite silly mistakes, my team came second. I got the feeling we had no real chance though as the team that came first seemed to be have acquired all the knowledgeable people.
Sunday was another early start and head back in to London for some LARPing goodness with IOD. First up was Lost where there was an Easter egg hunt which was fun and then we aimed the heavy hitters at the end goal to do the actual hard work. End result another mannequin to add to the team - there's so many of us it seems now. If only we were capable of emotion we might actually be quite a fun group. Then there was Requiem where I got hit by an explosion of new characters who were either Gangrel, Crone or both. And then to put the cherry on top, I got saddled with a freshly embraced character too. So lots and lots of talking, explaining and liaising. Next month is going to be extra super fun cos I'll be in charge...muahahahahahahaha :)
So I went to another Sci-Fi con at the weekend called Redemption. These cons generally open booking 2 years in advanced, so booking it with only a couple of weeks to spare is really short notice. And having never been to this particular one before and not really having any idea about the Guests of Honour, I had no idea what to expect.
The trip up was pretty plain sailing. Randomly, I bumped into eggwhite at Euston who happened to also be planning on catching the same train I was, although getting off a few stops before me. Managed to do a bit of Ingress on the way and didn't get lost wandering the streets of Coventry either. The hotel wasn't amazing - a bit shabby, with lifts that seemed to ignore whatever we wanted them to do and come and go as they pleased. Might make a good IoD venue though in terms of convention space as they have a private bar next to the main room.
I went to a variety of panels and talks, most of which were good. A few seemed to suffer a bit from having their topic being a forgone conclusion so the panelists waffled on, but what they said was still interesting. Hard to say if they just picked a flawed topic or could have picked people with more differing opinions. There was only one that I wished I had my time back.
Only made it to see one of the Guest of Honour's - Virginia Wey. I caught two of her sessions and was an absolute hoot and I'm sure if given the chance would have kept on talking until well into next week. Mostly she talked about her career, like how the sprung the need for her to have her head shaved for her role in Farscape (she was the blue one) at the very last minute. But she also talked a lot about spanking and other kinky stuff - which she isn't in to, but recognised that a lot of people there were and was clearly playing up to that.
Had fun at the disco, got taught the "appropriate" moves for some song from the Blues Brothers that I should know the name of, but I'm drawing a blank on at the moment. Mostly though I sucked at socialising and never at any point felt like I fitted in. Which I'm annoyed at myself for - I must try harder! But I feel there is a skill/ability/whatever of going up to a circle of strangers and joining in that I seem to have lost. Or maybe I project some kind of scary-go-away aura that makes people shun me?
Either way I think I shall return in 2 years time to the next one, time, cash and guests of honour permitting. And I'm going to try and get to more other conventions too.
So the weekend before last was spent at Picocon - Imperial College's very own sci-fi convention. Unlike previous years (that I've been to) they'd expanded from being just a 1 day event to 2 days, possibly because this was their 30th convention. Or at least they think it was their 30th - much like the problems IFIS has had finding out about it's own origins it seems common for sci-fi groups to have a dim and distant past.
The first day was very easy getting in to London and since most of us had already pre-reg'd, our sign in was much speedier than usual. I obtained the traditional "lousy t-shirt" and then we were launched into the first of many programme items. Nothing amazing stood out - they were all generally very good. I got roped in to help with the University Challenge quiz, for which they'd knocked together their own buzzer system. It was a bit flakey but unfortunately we can't really blame our loss on it. We got some of the questions, but mostly we were just too slow at pressing the button.
I failed utterly to witness the destruction of dodgy merchandise except for witnessing a bit of them dealing with some kind of video game soft drink. Which some foolish people had paid money to drink. The expressions of disgust and horror said it all really.I had to leave early though but by the sounds of it, those that remained had fun.
Day 2 was a bit more exciting getting in. I amazingly managed to make it to the bus stop in time to catch the first bus. The bus however couldn't be arsed and was almost so late I could have caught the next option. I had thought I was the only person who had bothered getting up in time, but our esteemed President had got on at an earlier stop. Despite the delay we managed to make it to the venue with more than enough time and gathered together all the various groups of us who'd come in from different places.
Again the talks and panels were awesome. I discovered a new author - Kate Griffin - to add to my ever growing list of authors I should probably read more by. There was some confusion in the "harmless fun" where at one point we were ahead 3-1 and yet we then lost on the 5th point. And after doing extremely well (ie we didn't come last) in the pub quiz we headed home - tired, but happy.
So it's been an interest week. Went to a pub social for IoD last Wednesday which wasn't too bad apart from the manic mad rush to catch the train. Next time I'm going to leave with enough time to walk it at a sensible pace rather than the super human pace that lucifermourning prefers.
I also went to a LOTNA meeting too which are a sci-fi group in London. It was in a lot of ways just like a much more populous IFIS meeting, although turn up was higher cos of some efforts at advertising they'd done at the recent London comic-con. Part way through the evening, one of the members ran a "game" which involved us coming up with a script for a trailer for a budget movie. Amazingly our team won with our quote-worthy trailer for Superman: Quest for the Bank Loan. Typically I'm led to believe they have a quiz though, which sounds a little bit less embaressing.
I've also been getting in a lot of coding which has found me suddenly noticing that it's gone well past midnight twice so far. When it's finished it's going to be a crossword generator for IFIS. It's not doing a bad job at the moment, but it needs more variety for the clues. And possibly symmetry. And I'm sure I could introduce some optimising and speed increases if I put my mind to it.
But mostly more variety of clues. I'd especially like to see if I can work in a way of doing clues that are related to other clues. Like "What book did the people in 3 down and 10 across" write together. And I've written some code to generate anagrams, but the dictionary file it's using is so full of crap words no-one will ever have heard of that looks like someone smashed their face on the keyboard that a lot of the time the anagrams look stupid.
I don't have anything planned for the weekend, so I fully imagine that I'll be hacking away some more and ruining my sleeping patterns :)
Not sure whether they had a better time with us given what I'd heard of The Immortals :)
Sunday was spent LARPing. Didn't get any traction in the Lost game. Also haven't gotten the national plot stuff fully sorted in my head yet or at least my interpretation doesn't yield any roleplay opportunities. Requiem went a whole lot better in terms of fun. Started off screwing up what should have been a simple mission. And then got swallowed up by another PCs plot and spent most of the game trying to save them from certain death. Including at one point at my own hands. It got to the stage that when things calmed down, I totally couldn't remember what I had planned to do at the game. I think this is a good thing, for reference.
Yesterday was mostly uneventful. I spent the day playing Wurm which involved an awful lot of "f***! it's another troll! run away!!!" as a troll den had randomly appeared a short distance away from my house. This wouldn't ordinarily have been a problem as my guard is more than capable of taking out an average/normal troll, but the troll spawning were of the stupendously git hard variety. And this meant that one would wander on to my "deed", my guard would valiantly try and fight it and possibly would wound it a bit, but ultimately get herself killed. By the time she'd respawn the troll would have mostly healed itself and the cycle would continue.
Luckily the problem was solved by a group of us including cream_horn going and destroying the troll den and then culling any remaining trolls left. We did have bowel loosening moment of a troll spawning slap bang in the middle of the den whilst we were all clustered around it, but luckily we managed to take it down. And after all the excitement I decided it was high time I make and learn how to use bows and arrows, cos cream_horn was using them to great effect.
I also got to try out the newly renamed Caffe Gondola. Pretty decent food, but unfortunately lousy service as they only had 1 waitress on covering the entire restaurant. And rather than ensuring everyone was sat fairly close together, she let everyone (the 10 or so of us) spread out across the whole restaurant. Which meant she wasn't as attentive to our needs as she could have been.
So...that's the Buffy game over and done with. My character had a glorious death of a sorts. Turns out that he was the mcguffin all along (honest) that could prevent the big bad from doing their evil ritual. All he had to do, was willingly sacrifice himself for the greater good. Which he did with only a brief pause to confirm in his head that he'd understood the choices correctly. And thus when the big bad sacrificed him, instead of his soul fueling the dark ritual it rose up and became a glowing mighty smitey righteous ass kicking angel thingy of The Lord, thus helping to save the day and prevent the apocalypse of the week.
ION I also totally won at poker :D
I've now finished reading The Hunger Games and I've already seen the movie. I have to say that the movie fares remarkably well and is a very good adaptation. They've had to sacrifice a few things here and there and alter the plot a bit, but over all if you liked the book, you'll probably like the movie.
I had a bit of a mixed weekend. Poker on Friday was fun...the Chinese snacks brought back by urizen and lucifermourning were less so. Not that I was brave enough to try the lobster and cheese flavour. I think the sight of nuuki running from the room making very unwell noises persuaded me that doing so was a Really Bad Idea(tm).
Saturday was spent doing very little. Watched some TV. Played a lot of Wurm. Didn't do any programming. I had the urge to do some programming, but I couldn't remember/find the code I wanted to work on. It wasn't helped by having dreams that I wanted to write some form of stock control software. I've no need for such a thing and
Sunday I bimbled lazily into London for it's Lost and Requiem games. Not much in the way of plot happened in Lost due to ST illness, so lots of social happened instead. And my character was a bazillion times more chatty than usual. Requiem was a little more active, but mostly spent finding out that the plot I'd spent far too many months working on was snipped from under me. Meh. If I had another concept in the side lines I'd be sorely tempted to retire my vamp cos he just doesn't seem to fit into anything. Or just stop playing. Annoyingly I thought this after I renewed my membership for another year.
As if I didn't already have enough of authors and getting stuffed signed, I went along to an Iain Banks (note the lack of M.) signing last night for his new book. Whose name has already escaped me, but then I'd only found out about it last night - it's one of the main stream ones, hence the lack of the M.
Having seen him 2 years ago at EasterCon I knew we were in for a really good entertaining evening and I wasn't disappointed. He started off by reading a bit from the new book and whilst not sci-fi, I think I'm going to enjoy it - it's a comedy. He had to pause 2 sentances in to apologise for the swearing and to make sure there weren't any children in the room. I'm not entirely sure what he'd have done if there had been - there was a lot of swearing in the bit he read.
And then he took questions from the floor and gave many elaborate and hilariously funny answers to them. I'm not sure if this is my idea or it's something I picked up from EasterCon, but I'd liken him a lot to Billy Connolly. Tall, scottish and awesomely funny. There were a good mixture of questions about his mainstream and sci-fi work. A couple of questions were so obscure I think even he was a bit baffled by them.
The signing portion of the evening went quite quickly and he jovially chatted to people as he scrawled down dedications on the various books people handed to him. I had a brief wait as the person in front of me pointed out a typo in the new book and he had to pull out his iphone and note it down. I joked that I just had books to sign and no typos for him and he joked back that we could always make one up.
As that was that for the evening and it was still moderately early, myself and beeblebear fled in to the night and made it back in time to go to the IFIS weekly social with special guest star Phil. And there were even some students too - I guess term must be starting again soon.
I went to a variety of talks and panels ranging from the "Ethics of AI" to "You got Robot Elf Sex in my SF". I could possibly list them all, but I think that sounds like too much like hard work. I also did a chocolate tasting workshop and one which I feel was more aimed at kids (but not advertised at all as such) where we got to make a robot to take part in a sort of robot Olympics. Unfortunately my attempts were thwarted by someone dismantling my robot and re-using the bits. Which is mostly my fault because due to scheduling conflicts, I couldn't attend the workshop and the events on the same day (they had 3 days of workshops and events) and I'd left the robot with the hope of entering it in the following day. I should have just taken it with me or something.
I did my first Kaffeeklatch with Tricia Sullivan. A kaffeeklatch is coffee and biscuits with someone famous and you just sit around, chat and ask questions etc. To be honest I found it kinda overwhelming as the topic of conversation went quite intellectual, but I did manage to get one comment in towards the end. Not sure how much of it was a constructive one or flamebait though. We were discussing how it was bad for authors to go back and tinker with their works once they were published and I gave George Lucas as a prime example of that.
I did a lot of dancing too. There were two discos, one themed on Superheros and a second themed on Robots. I had initially thought about going ot the first as the mild mannered alterego of a superhero and the second wrapped in tin foil as "generic robot". But I was suddenly inspired by the occasional nickname I've been given - The Dancinator - and realised I could (not that anyone bothered asking) go as a T800 in full infiltration mode to the first. Terminators aren't superheroes, but they are superhumanly strong and practically indestructible and certainly in the 2nd and 3rd films, are very heroic even if it's cos that's how they've been programmed. For the second disco, I decided upon going as a battle damaged Terminator, initially by the liberal application of face/body paint but in the end I fashioned some tin foil so that it'd poke out of my sleeve whilst I had my arm hidden behind my back.
The food was a bit naff or hugely expensive so I ended up eating McDonalds far more than I should have. Which was a good thing cos it meant I had more money for buying shines. Something I did possibly go a little overboard with. I do have a lot more books now - some of which aren't even in print.
I think the best out of everything, was getting to talk to a lot of my favourite authors. I had a good long chat at the end of the first disco with Jaine Fenn without reverting to shy nervous fanboy mode for example. But I still have a long way to go to overcome that issue - possibly it's when there is signing stuff involved that it happens the worst? Although I did manage to keep my cool somewhat when Cory Doctorow came up to me to sign the auction item I'd won that he'd donated.
Didn't take much in the way of photos; there's just 2 really. One of me sitting in the throne from Game of Thrones and one of me with my severed arm
So I'm back at work (since yesterday) and so far so not so bad.
Found a thank you letter from the grand high uber boss on my desk thanking me for all the hard work I'd done last year. Not a personal one though - he'd sent them to the entire team. And then I gave myself a painful papercut whilst opening it.
Spent most of yesterday making a massive dent in the email backlog; catching up on all that happened whilst I was away. Today I shall endevour to finish the job, although it's an uphill struggle as people keep emailing me yet more stuff to read!
So it's been a while since I last posted anything. I don't think that much has happened of note (to me) though. There was a rather chilled out IFIS xmas dinner the other night. I bought a new pair of shoes; it only took them a short while before they'd gouged a chunk out of one of my ankles.
I also bought some new jeans too. This possibly isn't that amazing, except that one of the pairs was a size smaller than I've been getting recently. What is amazing, is that the smaller pair actually fit. A little snuggly, but compared to the constant threat of having my jeans end up around my ankles as I walk down the street, I think this is somewhat preferable.
I went clubbing on Friday (in the new shoes and jeans). Aside from a couple of tracks I couldn't get my head around, the music was very good and I danced the night away. Amazingly, my feet were still usable afterwards (for walking purposes), although I did have the aforementioned ankle woe. Normally after clubbing my feet feel like I've hit the soles with a meat tenderiser, so I'm guessing my new shoes are a really good fit for me?
I've played a tonne of Wurm too. Mostly my recent efforts have been to build a road up the side of the hill/mountain that midnightschilde's little patch of land lives on, cos the normal route to her place has been blocked by someone building a house. Building this road is not a trivial matter. It involves building a dirt ramp to reduce the gradient of the hill/mountain to something that mere mortals can walk up. Which means digging up a large amount of dirt, transporting it to the ramp and dropping it. This takes more time than it should because when I dig up dirt, it goes into my inventory. I then have to move it into my cart cos I can't carry that much dirt. I can't then drop it from the cart, I have to put it back into my inventory first before I can drop it.
I have been supernerdy/OCD and made a spreadsheet that details how high up the hill/mountain is at every point on the way up, how high up I want each point to be and the difference. It's very fiddly to update though, so I'm going to up the nerd factor and make a webpage that makes it easier to keep track of things.
So it's been a whole year (more so cos I'm slack at writing this on time) since I started my Pound a Day movie project. To recap, there's an XKCD comic about a guy who loves getting packages and sets up a bot to search ebay for items costing $1 or less with free shipping and buy him one of them every day. Someone actually decided to implement this with a bid site in New Zealand (I hadn't noticed, but it looks like they'd only just set it up when I stumbled across it). But anyway, inspired I thought I'd see if I could do something similar looking on Amazon UK for cheap blu-ray movies. The main difference is that I didn't trust Amazon's data set not to have bad data in it and accidentally send me a non-Blu-ray or something that wasn't a movie, so I didn't include it's autonomy. Plus, I'm very squeamish so I didn't want Horror movies or Musicals. Instead I got it to email me whenever it had something it wanted to buy and I'd then ensure it was something applicable and go and buy it.
( The full details )
I really must update more often. It's not that I'm not doing anything, it's just that I'm terribly lazy. The past weekend (and a bit), for example, were spent at an Isles of Darkness national event. I took Friday off cos it makes it so much easier if I can travel up at my leisure and gave me a chance to run around the place like a mad thing packing during the morning.
The journey up was mostly uneventful aside from me making a brief detour to collect the sci-fi reading group's latest book we're meant to be reading. Cos I foolishly managed to forget when the last meeting was (in my defense, it'd moved from it's usual time). I even managed to luck out and get a lift from the station, cos someone happened to be driving past (due to being lost) at just the right moment. The hotel was not bad; my room was a lot larger than I'm used to; the food was very tasty. The only bad part was the bar was quite pricey (3.80 for a 3.30ml bottle of Magners) and shut far too early.
Game-wise, the Friday Requiem game didn't engage me overly much. I got the impression I must have been looking the wrong way at the wrong times and missed the main plot. But I got to chat to folk and almost made a total mess of the National plot I'd been asked to help with so it wasn't like I was bored or anything.
The Lost game highlighted how little I understand the venue and my character. Must try harder to get my head around it. And get my background to the STs so they can start helping me get more involved in the game. And finish sorting out my costuming/make up. But I had fun chatting to people and there was alarm and terror as stuff happened around me that had me moving rapidly away in the opposite direction as fast as my legs could carry me.
The game I enjoyed the most I think was the Saturday Requiem. I sort of ignored the bead game due to personal plot, but dived head long into Night Market and drooled over the wazzy items. Although mostly the items that engaged me the most weren't actually wazzy - they were scrolls that potentially had wazzyness written on them. Annoyingly, I was pipped to the post in buying the one I really wanted to get and ended up getting the other, more expensive scroll that I can't actually use. Although I don't know that IC yet - got to downtime researching it. But having had a nose around OOC, it looks like I at least should be able to sell it on as it's rarer than unicorn wee.
The trip back was pretty nightmarish, but thankfully not as bad as it could have been. For a start, the trains weren't running as far as London. So we had to get a rail replacement bus from some station in the middle of nowhere to some place on the outskirts of London with a tube station. There was a brief moment where I thought I might not get on cos I took the time to get my suitcase stowed, but it worked out OK in the end. And then the trains out of London also turned into a bus replacement service too. But we got back at a not too bad time considering.
Of course now I need another weekend to recover. I'm sorely tempted to cancel my plans to go clubbing this weekend so I can have some quiet time. Especially as I've got stuff to do the next day that'll need me to get up moderately early.