Feb. 9th, 2009 02:43 pm


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Just a quickie. If you feel moved to do so, I'd really appreciate reviews of the book at whichever site you bought it from. I've noticed my Amazon sales rank creep up alarmingly, and I'm hoping that some favourable reviews (or just plain old honest ones!) might snag some passing traffic. How my little book can possibly have a sales rank of just 5,008 on a site like Amazon is beyond me, but it'd be nice to see just how far up we can push it :)

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... to Aquarion and Pewterfish. It seems that, having not only assisted with the creation of http://www.booksforbricks.com, Aquarion's blog is spearheading the drive into Google. Pewterfish is close behind with his blog. Thanks guys, intentional or not, the exposure is definitely appreciated.

Feb. 9th, 2009 01:58 pm


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I have been duly photographed by the man from the paper. The hairy form those of you in the Wigan area will see lurking behind a pile of bricks in your local paper is indeed me. Here's hoping this results in more exposure, more sales and more publicity generally for http://www.booksforbricks.com

I'll be attempting to snag one of the photos for the site too.

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Waiting around for the bloke from the paper. Just trying to remember all the things I need to talk about. I shall be pimping www.booksforbricks.com, and I'll be trying to ensure he gets the ISBN number, title and all other pertinent details right.

Even without this push I think we've done remarkably well so far. It's all thanks to you lot, so I'll be getting that in there somewhere too.
Feb. 6th, 2009 10:45 am


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I've just had a call from the Wigan Observer. They'll be meeting me at my parents' house on Monday to take some pictures of me and the book, and do a story. They've asked how people can get hold of the book, and they seem keen to try to get me as much publicity as they can.

Liv has suggested trying to get WH Smiths in Wigan to stock the book on the back of the story in the paper, so I think we'll be trying to get that organised too.

After telling my boss I'd be a little late on Monday he was intrigued and now wants a book too. It's slowly spreading through the business, so there might be quite a few more in it shortly.

So far we've also received over £400 in direct donations. You're all lovely, lovely, crazy people.

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You're all being very generous. Thank you so much, but please, please only give us what you can. I wasn't expecting the response we've got so far and you're all really, really fantastic for doing this, but watch out for yourselves as well, please. *hugs* all round.

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For those of you who wanted to donate to the cause, but already had/didn't want a book, I've put a paypal button up here:


Don't worry that the account details are for Sequoia Solutions Ltd, Paypal just messed me up when I registered my business for paypal payments, it will go to my normal paypal account.

Again, many, many thanks, you honestly don't know how much you're helping.

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I've been told that some of you would like to buy the book, but postage is an issue. If you'd really like to buy a book, the easiest way is to go to your favourite local online bookstore and just do a search. Lulu's retail channels seem to be quite adept at getting books on sale pretty much anywhere in the world. I've lost count of the number of sites that are selling it now. In a previous post I gave urls for American bookstores, but the same should hold true in Europe and all over really. It's rare that searching for "Sir Parsley" at an online bookshop doesn't bring my book back as the first result, so please, if Play.com isn't an option, try your nearest provider, it won't make the slightest difference to how much I get, the fee to me is fixed regardless of who the seller is.

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In response to your comments, I think the idea of setting up a way for people to contribute via Paypal is great, as long as we donate the money to charity if (when?) we get it back at the end of all this. My intention was to provide something people might want in return for their money, I don't really feel comfortable asking for it straight out. If you want to contribute and you've already got a book, a button will be set up at some point so you can donate whatever you want. We'll be "paying it forward" to Shelter when we get things sorted.

Again, thank you all, I'm a little overwhelmed, to be honest.

Feb. 5th, 2009 01:51 pm


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Thanks to those of you who've bought books so far. It means a lot to have your support. I've sent an email to the local press describing the story and telling them I'm hoping to sell more copies of my book to raise the money required. I'm hoping they'll want to do a story and raise the profile of both the issues we've got and the book in the local area. Cross your fingers. If you have any press contacts or know anyone that could help, please let me know. I've got my blood up now. With your help, I'm damn well going to fight, and one way or another we'll keep that house and get it back to the condition it should be in. I'll admit I was starting to feel like I'd been beaten and it was all going to end badly, but if it does, at least I can say now that I did everything I could think of.

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Hi all. There's been some disquieting news on the house front. Apparently it's more buggered than we first thought. Accordingly the cost of getting it fixed (which was already pretty high) has gone up.

Please consider this an appeal, but not a demand. Those of you who know me well will know how I feel about doing this. I'm hoping there are some of you who don't yet have a copy of my book who will buy it, thus putting around £1 in the kitty for getting the house fixed. I'm further hoping that you'll pass this request on and tell your friends. If any of you know anyone famous, please let them know what I'm trying to do. At the end of the day, the money will probably become available once we've gone through the legal battle with our original surveyor, but the house needs fixing *NOW*, and now is when we desperately need the funds to do it. We've got guarantees of some money, but now that the price has gone up we're not sure it'll be enough, so please, if you haven't already, get yourself a copy of the book (entertain your kids, it's good, honest!), and if you have, tell your friends, tell your local school, tell your library, anything really. Feel free to link back to this post if you think it will help.

The book is available at: http://tinyurl.com/czb5fn (thanks Megabitch, I'm not with it today!)

Thank you.

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This is probably a silly question, I think I already know the answer, but I'm not 100% sure. If I have a network interface with a low MTU (576 in this case), I can't then create a VPN connection via that interface with an MTU of 1492 and expect everything to work, can I? Surely that's just crazy talk? Just wondering because this appears to be what Ubuntu is attempting to sell me as an automagically configured VPN connection. I can ping stuff, but nothing major is working. I'm guessing ping packets are just too small to be affected by those MTU values. Additionally, any reason why I can't set my interface MTU to as close to 1500 as is reasonable and keep my VPN MTU where it is? I don't know why Ubuntu went for 576, that's all. I've never had an MTU that low before so I wondered if it might have done some form of autodetection (or maybe it's just playing silly buggers). Answers on a postcard to the usual womble.

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I've made a potentially life-mangling discovery. Since my shiny new PC is now capable of running games, and not just allowing me to pootle around on the internet and do the odd bit of development, I thought I'd try some out. I got EVE Online working the other night, and last night I finally got to have a good play around with it. I think it might turn me into a gibbering hermit.

For years now I've been lamenting the lack of a decent spiritual successor to Elite and Frontier. Obviously EVE's been around for a while now, but this is the first time I've been able to try it out. I really like it so far. I can do all the things I liked to do in Elite but the scope is much broader than that. I can also interact with other people, which is something I've always wanted from an Elite-like game. I'll have a good wander around before I make a firm judgement, but I think it's pretty cool so far. I've created myself a shiny new character, he's an Amarr businessman called Balthazar D'sdain. I'm intending to ply my trade (in as yet undecided items) around the spacelanes of Amarr space and do the odd mission for random agents until such time as I feel like talking to actual humans and carving out a bigger slice of the pie. I've made a few mistakes (setting out to destroy pirates without a gun is a bit stupid, for a start), but I'm getting the hang of it.

If any of you routinely play in this particular sandpit, let me know and I'll see if I can hunt you out and say hello!

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Thanks to those of you who gave me suggestions for stuffing a new graphics card into my shiny new PC. I went with Mal's suggestion in the end, and it was a very good one. The PCI card went in with absolutely no hassle, Windows XP and Ubuntu both recognised it fine and could work with it without any issues. I even managed to get some of the more graphically interesting Linux games working nicely, though I did have some issues with whatever that one where Tux is sliding down a mountain on his belly is called this week. Don't know what that's about, but I'm sure I'll figure it out. Unreal Tournament on XP now runs extremely well, even at the highest possible res (it damn well should, it's nearly 10 years old, which is one of the things that made me frustrated enough to buy the new card in the first place). I got EVE working too, though after sitting through the interminable introduction (pretty though it is) I didn't have time to actually play the damn thing.

The PCI wireless card has been consigned to my bit-box and I've instead plugged in a cheap access point which works quite happily as a wireless adaptor, and also gives the OS the helpful illusion that it's talking to a wired network. I haven't investigated this yet, but I'm wondering if I can use it to both allow access from my PC to the network and effectively act as a repeater for the main router, so that the network is more accessible upstairs. Not sure if it's possible, but it would be nice.

In short, I have shiny new hardware joy. Now I just need to get around to doing the work I'm supposed to be doing instead of playing with my newly rediscovered crop of games.

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I'm still playing around with my shiny new PC, but it does occasionally throw me curveballs. Firstly the graphics card isn't up to much, which I expected, but I really wasn't prepared for just how diabolically crap it is. It's an ATI ES1000, or somesuch, which is apparently bog standard for server boxes. It claims to do acceleration, but in actual fact the implementation is so poor that generally it's better not to bother. As a case in point, I installed Unreal Tournament (1999) the other day, just to have something to mess about with when developer's block gets the better of me. It supports Direct3D, and so does my PC, allegedly, so I gave it a whirl. It's quite depressing when the game you're running is 10 years old and it still won't run on your whizzy new quad core beastie. It's even more depressing when you realise that the reason it won't run is the unbelieveably lousy graphics chipset you're saddled with and that, when you run the thing with software rendering and set the executable to run in windows 98 compatibility mode, everything works perfectly.

So, at least it works. What's less cool is that EVE Online, which I was hoping to try, does not. It flat out refuses to even start. :(

I know I bought this box for development and general messing about, the odd bit of video transcoding and that sort of thing (which it does very, very well), but it would be nice if I could shoehorn some decent video hardware in there too. Which leads me to a question. I only have a couple of PCI-E x8 slots available to me. I have yet to find an x8 video card, but I do know that, providing the slot is open-ended, an x16 card will fit and work (albeit at x8 speeds). My slot isn't open-ended, but it's nothing a sharp craft knife won't fix. I also know an x1 card will work. My question is, which route should I take? I don't need anything fancy, something that will handle reasonably modern games should do, I just don't want the video to be letting the side down anymore. The machine itself is a big, throbbing beast, it just has some real problems spitting out pictures. So, suggestions anyone?

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An intriguing educational (school kids) volume entitled "Intermediate Travelling Through Time".

I bet that doesn't do what it says on the tin... So many disappointed 9 year olds...

Nov. 16th, 2008 11:49 pm

Rock band

orinoco77: (Default)
In a complete change from my last post a couple of seconds ago, I'd just like to tell you all that I've recently been in a position to try out a great many geekly things, and reserve the right to be extremely jealous of those of you that have regular and unrestricted access to such things. A case in point is the deeply wonderful Rock Band. I'd never played it until yesterday, and now that I have there is a hole in my life that I previously hadn't known existed. It rocks. That's really all there is to say. Thank you, [livejournal.com profile] merseymal , my life will never be the same again! On another note, really, really, really want a projector! Now!
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I'm composing this on my shiny new PC. I've been after one for ages now. Typically I tend to buy older, and therefore cheaper, machines that will nevertheless still capably do the things I ask of them. My laptop, for instance, is still a rather modest 366Mhz Indigo iBook, circa 2001. It does what I need it to do, so why change it? I decided that I needed a rather beefier beastie if I was going to do any actual development on it though, so I had a look around. Eventually I spotted this lovely machine going for a song on eBay. It's a Dell Poweredge T105, for those who know what that is. It's technically a server. It has two hard disks, intended to be RAIDed, which I'm not actually doing at present but may plump for in future. It has a quad core AMD processor, with each core running at a nifty 2.1Ghz (not the quickest, but not exactly slow either). It has a gig of RAM (which I'll improve on shortly). In short it's a vast improvement on my previous 600Mhz celeron. I got it for £170. So far I've shoved an old PCI wireless LAN card in it, which works marvelously, shortly I'll be putting a USB sound card in the back of it, and swapping out the DVD ROM for a DVD RW. Before long I'll have a pretty damn decent dev box for under £200. I think that's worth shouting about for a bit! Speaking of shouting, considering the honking great fan this thing has in it, it's also the quietest machine I've ever had, including the one I added a bunch of sound reducing components to. Squeeee!
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We decided we needed some rules to code by, to prevent insanity and possibly homicide. This is my first attempt:

1. Thou shalt not break the build and fuck recklessly off.

2. Thou shalt not fail to catch thy tries.

3. Thou shalt spell check thy code, for spelling a word correctly and having the compiler complain is annoying, bad and wrong.

4. Thou shalt write comprehensive and sensible method, property and class names and know the difference between them.

5. Thou shalt not plot to murder thy colleagues, even if they deserve it.

6. Thou shalt not try new things just because they are cool. Cool and obsolete is still obsolete.

There will be more...

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Just wondering if any of you guys have come across anything for managing a process requirement we've identified here. We need something to alert us when project QA dates and go live dates are imminent (or even just to allow us to view how much time we've got left really). We have 5 developers all working (potentially) on different projects and we need a way to make sure everyone has visibility of when a project is due to be passed on somewhere else, so that if we're not in good shape we can all re-organise and get it in quicker. Basically we're not always as aware as we should be of what our deadlines actually are (particularly if they're not our personal deadlines, but team deadlines), and we need to get on top of it. We could use outlook, but it will only give us one reminder, we could do with several saying "You have 2 days left!", "You have 1 day left!", "You have 5 hours left!", etc.

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