Large PrintHandheldAudioRating
Twisting The Hellmouth Crossing Over Awards - Results
Rules for Challenges

Author MarcusRowland

Item missing one of title, description, pubdate - skipped

Recent entries from Meme-Free Zone - the blog of MarcusRowland

NOTE: This blog has been rated FR15 by the author. Blog content is not moderated by TtH

There's currently a Kickstarter to reprint scenarios that were published in the 1980s for Squadron UK, the system formerly known as Golden Heroes, including my own Queen Victoria and the Holy Grail. The goals etc. look reasonably realistic, if you're interested in seeing a reprint you might want to support it.
Posted: 18 Dec 14 10:51 • Comments
The MacBook I bought turned out to be a bit limited for my purposes - nobody's fault, I just underestimated how much speed and graphics processing some applications would need. So I asked the CEX store in Camden Town how much they'd offer me on it against a relatively cheap 2.4ghz MacBook Pro - Mid-2010, 8gb RAM, 320GB hard disk, and Yosemite; the answer turned out to be about £30 more than I'd paid for the macbook, memory, and a new battery. Which was rather good news...

So yesterday I traded it in, and after various delays came home with the shiny. And it is VERY shiny! I especially liked the light-up keys, I felt really sad about turning the lights off completely to conserve battery power... But the screen is the best I've ever owned, it's very fast, and it seems to have about five hours battery life, which is about on a par with the iBook G4.

So far the hardest part has been installing Microsoft Office 2008, which I got very cheaply as an upgrade from Office 2004, as usual thanks to Ebay. The install itself went easily since it was all legit discs and codes, but adding the service packs was a nightmare.

First, the update program was so far out of date that it wouldn't work at all. I had to download it manually from Microsoft. It then turned out that the security certificate on the first service pack had expired so it wouldn't install.

The trick to this one turns out to download that file manually too, disconnect from the internet, turn the computer's clock back to January 2010, and install the service pack. After that you re-enable internet and put the clock right, reboot (no idea why), and run the updater to get the second and third service packs, which fortunately were OK.

Apart from that, and a problem installing Scrivener which I suspect is down to the code having expired (still waiting to hear back on that one), things are going pretty well. I'm just installing Calibre and some other useful stuff, and having a l...
Posted: 17 Dec 14 16:41 • More • Comments
I've just removed Nero, the Windows CD/DVD copier, from my computer - the "update" that rolled out today seemed to install loads of unwanted media programs and messed up a lot of file associations. Since it's been of little use recently anyway - the cheaper version of recent years is seriously crippled - I've decided to use a program called img burn instead - it seems to do what I want, including things like overburning onto 800mb CDs which Nero will no longer do, and it's donationware - free to use, donate if you like it, no nag screens etc. So far I'm very pleased with it.

It's a shame because Nero used to be a very good program - but now it's just bloatware, huge and so busy trying to sell you its pro version that it's alienating a lot of customers.
Posted: 10 Dec 14 19:31 • Comments
I didn't post about Dragonmeet yesterday on Saturday because I was dog tired by the time I got home and I spent Sunday getting caught up on other things and trying to sooth a VERY sore throat.

The new venue (the Ibis hotel in Earl's Court) is a reasonable alternative to Kensington Town Hall. Food was mostly surprisingly cheap, though soft drinks were a bit expensive. But it felt a bit crowded, especially since they apparently had 1500+ people there, and the Open Games area (where I was running my sessions) was perpetually short of chairs. A lot of people seemed to have trouble finding the games they'd signed up for, which really didn't help.

The morning session was Forgotten Futures: the second part of Pyramid Scheme, in which the adventurers tracked Mad Empress Margaret's movements after her faked death and escape from her tomb under London. I really don't want to say more about that one since it will be in the next Forgotten Futures release, except that there was a reasonably happy ending.

The afternoon session was Custodians of the Cosmos, a cinematic adventure using modified Diana: Warrior Princess rules.

That one began about three or four months ago when the con organisers asked for people to run games - I put my name down for a couple, one of which I described as follows:

Custodians of the Cosmos
A motley assortment of adventurers join forces to visit strange new worlds, seek out new life and civilizations... and terminate anything that seems a threat to interstellar peace and harmony. Needless to say they _are_ a threat to interstellar peace and harmony, but hey, nobody's perfect. Especially when there's a big bar bill to pay, and someone's offering a reward of 500,000 credits for the Dread Space Pirate Robots...

Then, of course, I more or less forgot that I actually needed to write the damn adventure. Until earlier this week, when panic set in. Fortunately the soluti...
Posted: 7 Dec 14 19:26 • More • Comments
Can't remember if I've mentioned this before - the micro USB bluetooth dongles sold by Poundland appear to be fully Mac compatible, at least with the G4 and G5 chipsets. So if you have an elderly Mac with USB but without bluetooth, this is a pretty cheap way to fix it, and the adapter is so tiny it can be left in place all the time, even on a laptop.
Posted: 5 Dec 14 10:25 • Comments
Posted: 4 Dec 14 19:20 • Comments
Another image for Dragonmeet - a trusty native (Martian) guide


later - Now with added eyeballs!
Posted: 2 Dec 14 14:38 • Comments
Suddenly remembered I have a mosaic tool in one of my graphics programs which let me quickly add a hint of an underlying block structure to the version I thought I'd finished late last night - quite pleased with this one, but let me know what you think.





I've already printed and laminated the "before" picture for Dragonmeet, which is a little annoying, but which would be better for the actual game, bearing in mind it may be reduced to a fraction of a page?

Later - forgot to say that the program that had the mosaic tool was Microsoft PictureIt! Photo 7, which used to be part of the Microsoft Works bundle, I think. It has some nice easy-to-use effects I occasionally find very useful, and Works often turns up bundled with computers or very cheaply elsewhere.
Posted: 2 Dec 14 04:52 • Comments
Powerful rare earth magnets allow some interesting tricks - this one's a self-propelled "train" made of a battery and some magnets, running inside a copper coil. If I was working I'd probably want to try this, though I'm willing to bet it kills the batteries (which look like small camera batteries such as AAAA) fairly quickly.
Posted: 1 Dec 14 17:27 • Comments
The iMac G5 I was given is working - 2gb RAM, 1.8ghz, and now 500gb hard drive. Unfortunately the drive is currently held in by Meccano, not the correct cradle - which also incorporates a fairly important heat sensor - so I've ordered the cradle on eBay. I've also ordered an Airport Extreme card, so the total to get this up and running will be about £35. Apart from that it needs a lot of cleaning - there's grunge which looks like cigarette tar in the internal ventilation ducts, and what appears to be blobs of candle wax and general greasiness on the outside. It'll come off, but I don't expect it to be easy.

What I really need, for this and for my iBook, is the family (multiple installations) PPC-compatible version of OSX 10.5 - not essential, I've put on 10.4 and it works, but desirable since it supports later versions of Safari, flash, etc. that address some of the site compatibility issues I've encountered. If anyone in the UK sees it on sale cheap somewhere please let me know, eBay and Amazon prices are a bit too high to justify the expense. I've looked at using a PPC Linux instead, but I'm really not very impressed with the ones I've tried.

At the moment the plan is to keep the iBook G4 as my bedroom computer if I can sort out its issues; sell the iMac G4, which is a bit on the slow side, more of a collector's computer that a working machine; and probably give the iMac G5 to a niece or grand niece/nephew.

But this will probably be in the New Year, really don't want to mess around with courier companies etc. at this time of year, and to be honest I don't WANT to sell the iMac G4, it's so pretty.
Posted: 1 Dec 14 16:02 • Comments
I've done a new version of this image I'm much happier with, see the previous entry:
Posted: 30 Nov 14 14:10 • Comments
Is this at all convincing?

2nd version of this image - not sure yet if it will be black and white or colour, whichever I go with, it will probably be reduced in size considerably. I should also mention that Photobucket seems to have created some compression artifacts in hosting this one.

Posted: 29 Nov 14 19:56 • Comments
The first trailer for the next Star Wars film is on line,manual,manual

It looks good, with some nice touches such as the use of X-wings and TIE fighters at low altitude.
Posted: 29 Nov 14 15:42 • Comments
Picked up a 500gb Seagate drive for £15 at CEX. Got the case open to find that the G5 has 2GB RAM and no hard disk, as expected, unfortunately the drive cradle is missing. Fortunately some meccano and a pair of pliers sufficed to knock something up - eventually I'll look at getting the real thing if I can. I'm now installing OSX 10.4, the last PPC version I have, and hope to have it up and running properly in the next few hours. The only problem is that the original drive must have had the drive light indicator socket at the other end from the other cables, it won't stretch to fit on this drive

Not sure where it will end up - I think someone in my family may like it.
Posted: 29 Nov 14 14:18 • Comments
Someone on Freecycle gave me an early iMac G5 - it's missing its hard drive and may have other problems, so I want to proceed with great caution, so that I don't buy e.g. a drive it can't use. So far I've got it to boot off the OSX 10.3 CD that came with it, until it reaches the point where it wants to access the hard disk, which tells me that it's got some RAM, and that the screen, mouse, and keyboard work. Is there anything else I should be checking out before buying a drive?

later - looks like I can get a 500gb drive for £15, might as well get it - if the mac is no good, I can shove it in a housing for use as an external drive.
Posted: 28 Nov 14 16:26 • Comments
Was the complete run of Gerry Anderson's UFO on DVD. In unopened boxed sets, for a total price of £5.

Rather pleased about that.

They also had the complete run of Captain Scarlet for £8, but I've already got that - if anyone in the London area wants this, it's in the Cancer Research charity shop in Kensington High Street.
Posted: 27 Nov 14 18:38 • Comments
I was walking through the park this afternoon and it occurred to me that the Captain Scarlet theme song would work very well for Captain Jack Harkness, with some obvious changes. So needless to say there are already Captain Harkness vids on those lines - the actual wording of the song hasn't been changed, which would be the obvious next step, but the idea works pretty well anyway:

Is there a filk version somewhere with appropriate lyrics?
Posted: 24 Nov 14 11:38 • Comments
Just had a man and woman turn up uninvited on the doorstep. Not pushing religion or politics… no, much worse… they were touting for homes they could rent to visitors to London. I'm not going to name the company because I despise doorsteppers at the best of times, and combining that with the rental property scam that comes through our letter box two or three times a week… well, they can go and do something fairly horrible to themselves. I think I shall christen them as Jehovah's Estate Agents!
Posted: 24 Nov 14 11:16 • Comments
Yes, there are Frozen / Breaking Bad parody videos out there...
Posted: 23 Nov 14 19:29 • Comments
Someone has WAY too much time on their hands...
Posted: 21 Nov 14 10:45 • Comments
This happened in Porchester Road (about 300 yards from my house) some time between 1.50 and 3.10 today - I have no idea how it's even possible to drive fast and badly enough to do this on this particular bit of road, which is usually very slow moving traffic:


I can only assume they got the corner incredibly badly wrong or something...
Posted: 21 Nov 14 10:36 • Comments
…was a TomTom 1 satnav - for a fiver! Seems to work, so I should be able to flog it for a good deal more on ebay. Also got a spindle of 10 16x DVD-R disks for £2 - the shop that had them have several more packs, but I'm not sure I really need them at the moment.

later - looks like CEX buy these for more than I'll get on Ebay if I take a voucher rather than cash. I'll see what they say if I take it in.

later still - turns out that they want the charger, box, etc. to give that price - since I don't have them, I'll bung it on ebay instead.
Posted: 21 Nov 14 05:44 • Comments
I've just received a survey about expanding Heathrow, accompanied by a pamphlet about how vital Heathrow is to London. Needless to say this comes from Back Heathrow, the organisation that wants to expand Heathrow, so not exactly unbiased. Neither is the survey, the wording is all in their camp even though they do ask about alternatives, and the survey document contains another page of pro-Heathrow "information"

I suppose that I should be grateful that they are at least being honest about where they're coming from, though I suspect that the results will be spun to make it appear that this is an independent result.

In other words, this is a text-book example of a biased survey, and more or less worthless as real research. I'm not planning to return it.
Posted: 19 Nov 14 08:38 • Comments
I mentioned a while ago that I was looking for a laptop to replace my aging iBook G4. As of this weekend I own a MacBook (late 2006 Intel dual core) purchased from Illustrationautopope of this parish, and will be using it as my main laptop from now on. So far the main problem is that most of my older Mac software is PPC only, but I'm gradually sorting out replacements - the major one was simple, I've installed the current Libre Office instead of Microsoft Office 2004. Getting used to OSX 10.7 has been dead easy so far, it's a lot more like OSX 10.4 than Windows 7 was like XP.

So... This currently leaves me owning rather a lot of computers:
Windows 7 desktop PC
An older PC currently running Linux that's hooked up to my TV and hasn't been used in a year or so.
The 500Mhz iMac G4 I refurbished earlier this year - currently my bedroom computer but getting very little use. A bit slow and some issues with compatibility on some web sites.
The 1.1ghz iBook G4 the MacBook is replacing. Still reasonably usable, apart from compatibility issues, just a little slow compared to modern machines.
I'm trying to decide whether to sell the iMac G4, the iBook G4, or possibly both, or keep both. Resale value is probably around £50-£75 for the iBook, a little less for the iMac. In terms of practicality I'd probably be better off keeping the iBook as my bedroom / spare computer and selling the iMac, but I really like the look of the iMac, it's just amazingly cool somehow. As an excuse to keep it, I'm wondering if it will become more of a collectable as time goes by. Anyone have any thoughts?

Finally, does anyone have any suggestions for fun free software for the MacBook? I've installed Oolite, maybe a couple more games and some utilit...
Posted: 18 Nov 14 17:17 • More • Comments