« October 2002 | Main | December 2002 »

November 30, 2002

No Idle Hands Here

Hello there! Looks like November is going to be a rant-free month; I couldn't think of anything to harp on about.

It's been a fairly busy week, especially for Vickie. She's been going mad about the house; last Sunday, we bought some curtain fabric, and on Monday, while I was at work, Vickie did the big bedroom swap, clothes, furniture, beds and all. Our bedroom is now the previous spare room, and the spare is now our old bedroom. The new one is a little larger and quite a bit brighter of a morning.

Between Tuesday and Thursday, Vickie did quite a bit of tidying. She's put hooks up in our hallway cupboard, so we can hang up brooms, vacuum cleaner hoses, backpacks and the like. She's re-curtained our new room and the computer room. She's re-organised the computer room cupboard, so that everything is neatly sorted away. (She's even fixed up the loo roll holder in the bathroom!)

What have I done to help? Well, so far, I've brought home a stack of books and comics that I'd left at Mum and Dad's after I moved out, thereby making a mess of the computer room again. Yes, Vickie was thrilled. You should have heard how thrilled se was after I brought her home last night...

The science fiction club meeting at Hornsby on Thursday night was good. There were about eight of us in attendance in total. We talked a little about the science fiction we liked, and picked two books that we would read, one for a December meeting and one for January. The December one is Across The Nightingale Floor, by Lian Hearn, which Vickie already has and is reading. The January one is Neil Gaiman's American Gods. We picked that one up after the meeting, and I'm getting stuck into it at the moment. It's good reading so far.

Dan's Champions session was good fun. Unfortunately, John and Roger couldn't make it, so it was just Gav, Vickie and I playing. I've been peppering Dan with character questions since then, and have been re-working Turbine's skills and disadvantages a little.

We don't have any real plans for this weekend; Jake was going to have his birthday party, but that fell through. He's trying to organise a small get-together instead of a party now; he's thinking dinner with Komala, us, Cameron and Linda. The main problem is Cameron's busy work schedule. Not only that, but the Fire Team sessions for Heavy Gear next weekend keep us out of the picture for a few days, and the Saturday after that is our Christmas party.

Speaking of our Christmas party, we have had very few replies from the people we sent invitations to, and we do need an idea of numbers by tomorrow, so we can start buying supplies. So, if you have an invitation, can you please send us an e-mail, or give us a phone call, this weekend? Please?

I'm thinking of adding a further self-indulgence to the site; a couple of lines like "What I'm Reading", "Last Movie I Saw At The Cinema", "Computer/Video Game I'm Playing" sort of thing. The "What I'm Reading" I think will serve as a tie-in to the Borders SFF Book Club meetings. What do you think?

November 22, 2002

Making the Bed (in the Garden)

As the French national TV host once said, "Evening, Gaul!" Pretty busy week, especially Wednesday. Three meetings in the city; two client meetings and one with a project planner for a major client relocation. You'd think I was becoming important or something...

Steve arrived on Sunday and put the border around the garden bed. He didn't have any soil himself, but he'd ordered some in for Monday. It arrived in the afternoon, and although Vickie said she'd leave some shovelling for me, I arrived home to find it all in the bed. So, I helped with planting the roses. We also spread sugar cane mulch across the new bed and both of the existing beds at the front of the house. We think that'll protect the beds from the elements and the exhaust fumes from Pennant Hills Road.

The real estate agent called; the inspector who was going to be stopping by on Tuesday suddenly had a very full itinerary, so was it all right if another inspector stopped by on Thursday instead? We said fine; it gave us another couple of days to get the tidying up done. The inspector was mightily impressed, and we presented her with a list of things that need fixing up, including some tiling that's coming away from the kitchen wall and a dry rot problem in the back porch. We'd also like a line put in for an aerial; our set-top job gets shitty reception. Considering we've just spent roughly $750 to a grand on improving the value of the place, we think the landlord will be amenable.

We went into Hornsby to re-stock our larder last night, and did a little more Christmas shopping while we were there. I think it's safe to say that we've bought each other our prezzies; aside from various books, we went halves in the Collector's Edition The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring DVD. Four whole DVDs packed with goodness, two of which are the movie (with 30 minutes of added footage) with DTS 5.1 surround (no, we don't have the speakers to utilise it) and three separate commentary tracks; the other two are Making Of DVDs. We stayed up and watched the first movie DVD, and by God, it's worth every dollar. I'm very glad we held off buying the regular DVD set.

We also picked up a slip from Borders (where we bought the DVD set) that was advertising the first meeting of a science fiction and fantasy book club from 7 PM onward. We'll be going along, and if any of you nuts feel like coming along too, we'd love to meet you there! (There, of course, being Borders Hornsby.)

I had lunch with John Tuggey today in the Food Court of the Westfield near work. These folks had this display table set up, and they were marketing the smallest bloody remote controlled cars I've ever seen. They were maybe an inch-and-a-half long, and they came with a simple remote control, and they dashed about like nothing else! They're $30 each, or $25 each if you buy four or more. I couldn't afford one, so I didn't bother, but my manager's partner's got one, and they're getting two more for their kids.

Tomorrow night, we're back off to Dan and Lesley's for Dan's Champions game. Dan forwarded me my character sheet in Excel format; that's how complex the bastard (and, by extension, the Hero System itself) is. I mean, the spreadsheet had four separate worksheets, half of which were full with stats and skills and such. I definitely have a few questions! I think I'll try calling him tonight.

And maybe on Sunday, we might have the time to relax...

November 17, 2002

Two Redheads

Morning all! Big tidy-up day today; our real-estate agent is due over tomorrow to perform the mandatory bi-annual inspection. Steve the Handyman is also due to turn up today with a load of soil and assorted garden stuff.

Well, yesterday was good fun. I had my haircut in the morning, and the girls at the hairdresser's down the road insisted on putting some colour through my hair! They decided on red, as they thought it'd match Vickie's. So I came out of there with a nice shade of mahogany, which surprised both Vickie and Notlih! Vickie actually thinks a cobalt blue would suit me better. I tell you what, though; having a bit of colour in my hair was fun! It washed out in the shower, though (which I had before going to bed last night).

Notlih's party wasn't a huge one, thankfully. Still, there were a couple of people who weren't there that I was hoping would turn up; Steven Boddy for example. It's been a couple of years at least since I've seen that lunatic.

Oh yeah; Banger Sisters was a giggle last week. Goldie Hawn, Susan Sarandon and Geoffrey Rush were all fantastic. As we saw a preview, you should be able to catch it soon.

Oh yeah; I forgot to mention that we bought a rug for the living room last week. It's gone in that big space on the floor in font of the bookcase, and it really goes well with the curtains.

The Xbox Live service went... well, live in the US a couple of days ago. So far, there's not a murmur on an Australian release; I think perhaps Microsoft is waiting to see how well it performs in its core market before releasing it elsewhere. Then again, Europe is in beta-testing, and an e-mail I sent to Microsoft about Xbox Live in Australia was replied to with "We don't have any release information for Australia yet for Xbox Live but when we do we will post it on the [Xbox AU] site." Note the use of when, not if. And how the heck would I set it up if I got it? I'd need to set up the hub and run an RJ45 cable from the computer room to the living room! Bugger taping it to the floor - I'd probably drill another hole in the living room and the computer room, and run the cable under the house! Then I'd need a cable long enough... Of course, there's then the question of whether I'd be allowed to drill holes in the floor... or whether we even have a drill that can do it!

On the topic of the Xbox, Microsoft has posted a report on the financial losses of their home entertainment division, the primary focus of which is the Xbox. I've had a few people comment that the Xbox is probably doomed considering the powder Microsoft has taken financially, but when you look at the overall profit of Microsoft and that it "plans to spend $2 billion to establish the Xbox console in the market", it seems that reports of the Xbox's demise are greatly exaggerated. Granted, a company doesn't like making losses anywhere, and the price wars in the console sector over the past several months may well have obliterated Microsoft's initial profit projections on the unit, but considering that the Xbox has out-sold Nintendo's Game Cube recently (and, to my knowledge, Nintendo doesn't have any other product beyond consoles, games and associated marketing franchises like cartoons), MS is probably still seeing their unit as a viable contender in the market.

November 09, 2002

Pre-Inspection Jitters

Hi everyone! It's been a sweltering past few days, as anyone else in the Sydney area would know. You know that saying, "it's not the heat that kills you, it's the humidity"? Bullshit. We've been making a few attempts to spruce this place up, as we reckoned it's about time for another inspection from the real estate. Also, we have Steve the handyman dropping over sometime soon to put some soil down for us in the bed on the slope by the driveway; we want to try and breathe some life back into it. We were pulling up the lilies in that bed on Thursday, and once that was done, we started seeing to the dying honeysuckle that runs along our fence. Our next-door neighbour saw us trying to get into it with a couple of secateurs, asked us to wait, and brought his brushcutter around! (He runs his own garden-trimming business.) Needless to say, he made short work of the honeysuckle, even stamping it all down into the garden waste bin with his garden boots (I had sandals on at the time, so I wasn't game to try). We're very thankful to him.

It's been a good week at work, what with having two new people in our area; I'm training up one to handle the lower end of my workload, while the other (the aforementioned John Tuggey) is getting stuck into the neglected, complex areas of our function; he's actually writing a lot of processes from scratch.

Cameron dropped over last night; we both discovered that Sega Soccer Slam can be played with up to three people (each one can take a single player on a side). I don't know whether it can utilise a system-link, which (if you had two Xboxes) would theoretically allow six players (three a side). Either way, I think that three players, while fun, might be tricky against a computer side, especially if you're not co-ordinating to well.

We went shopping today, buying some birthday presents and doing some Christmas shopping. We've got some pretty natty gifts so far, as well as some good stuff for our place. The "Space Bags" we bought will come in handy; you pack clothes or manchester in them, attach a vacuum cleaner and suck all the air out; everything packs down really tightly. After that, we saw The Transporter. The verdict: Good fun. If there was one annoying thing, it was that that cool-looking sequence they keep showing in the ads and trailers - where Jason Statham's character changes the course of a shoulder-launched rocket with a pie tray - wasn't in the film. That's something I've noticed lately - whole sequences that're used to promote films aren't actually in the films themselves.

But don't let that stop you from going to see The Transporter. Good, cool action movie, and Jason Statham does it very smoothly!

We're going to be fairly busy over the next few days. We're due for another inspection from the real estate folks, so we're going to make sure the place is ship-shape before they arrive. We'll also be putting that List of Requirements I mentioned in the last rant together. We still have that mattress and base set, if anyone wants them.

As last year's Christmas party was lots of fun, we've started planning this year's. The invitations have already gone out, so everyone has plenty of time to RSVP. Unfortunately, we set the date - December 14th - during the MacquarieCon weekend, so Honour and the Regiment is off for this year, and as the weekend is going to be preparation for and recovery from the party, I'm not sure if we'll be able to stop in. This gives me a bit more time to work on those Fireteam sessions, but as this is a fairly busy month for everyone, I'm not sure when those will be.

So, tomorrow, it's wash the car and do some tidying up. After that, we're off to see The Banger Sisters preview screening at Greater Union in Hornsby. Some work, then some play!

November 06, 2002

Try feeling the pea under this!

Hello and good evening! Dan and Lesley's party - well, actually, it was their daughter Gabrielle's party, but she's not the greatest conversationalist yet (being one year old) - was good fun. We met a whole bunch of their rellies and friends, including John from D&D's wife and kids. John's got out of real estate and into software sales, and he looks happier and healthier for it.

I nipped home from work early today, although it still took me about two hours to get home; I had a meeting in the city, so I went up the North Shore line planning to get a connection at Hornsby - and I had to wait twenty-two minutes for it. Why did I leave early? Oh yeah: Vickie ordered us a new bed, and it's huge. It's a queen size, like our old one, but the base and mattress are so thick that the upper surface is nearly three feet off the floor! Vickie's going to need a step up! We're thinking of swapping bedrooms with the larger guest room this weekend, so that'll keep us busy.

This means we have an old bed ensemble that we want to get rid of. The base is still good, and although the mattress is giving a bit, it's still sleepable. If any of you cats can come in and take them away, they're yours.

You know how I mentioned The Banger Sisters last weekend? Actually, the coupon we have is good for this coming Sunday, only, so it'll be this weekend instead. We'll see if we can squeeze The Transporter in as well: it looks like an absolute blast.

I've been surfing the Apple.com QuickTime Trailers page a bit lately, and there's some interesting stuff coming up, especially this Ray Liotta film called Narc. It looks like your usual good cop (Internal Affairs)/bad cop (is he a good guy or a bad guy) movie, but it has Ray Liotta looking a little wider and quite a bit more intense than usual. Vickie said he reminded her of Oliver Reed, and I can see what she means. Not sure if we'll bother with Crackerjack or The Guru, though: I'm not fond of Mick Molloy's flavour of comedy (unless it has a liberal dash of Tony Martin with it) and even though The Guru has the always-good Marisa Tomei, the overall plot and subject matter don't seem inspiring.

There've been some e-mails flying around between my players about the Black Talon Fire Team sessions. I'll respond to them, guys, I promise. Soon. Ish. And I still need to get writing on Honour and the Regiment...

On a gaming thread, here's something I stumbled across on GameSpot: Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis. It's a SimThemePark sort of game - except you make your own Jurassic Park and populate it with dinosaurs, which look to be the coolest and most interesting part of the game. They, along with everything else, will be rendered in full 3D, and to quote the article, "each dinosaur has unique AI that's completely unscripted. Carnivores will prey on herbivores, aggressive dinosaurs will fight over territory, and weaker species will band together in packs for protection." What I want to know is, will the T-Rex eat tourists if it gets loose? (I mean, come on, it;s not Jurassic Park unless the T-Rex gets loose at least once.) Oh, and will the game have Richard Attenborough's voice? It's coming out on PC, Xbox and PS2, but although I have no doubts you'll be able to play it capably with the Xbox's controller, I think I'll get the PC version - I just think it'll be easier to navigate a top-down park-building game with a mouse.

November 01, 2002

Fuzion Frenzy Fun

Let me just say this: With one player, Fuzion Frenzy isn't much cop. With two, it's okay. With three, it's more fun than a whole barrel of fuckin' monkeys. With four players? I really don't know yet, as I only have three Xbox controllers and so far only the opportunity to play it with two other people - but I imagine it'd be one of those "Most Fun You Can Have With Your Clothes On" things. Half of the enjoyment is giggling at yourself and each other as you stuff up horribly. Not all of the minigames are good - it's hard to tell which way you're facing in the whack-an-insect ones - but most are at least fun if you have more players than CPU players.

How do I know all this? Cameron and Linda (Cameron's lady) were just over, and after a big jaw-session where Cameron and I reminisced about High School (a.k.a. The Bad Old Days), Cameron talked Linda into playing some FF. Fun was had. Add this to some FF played with Jake and Komala (where my arse was handed to me, but fun was had nonetheless) and I'd say I have a fair idea of the fun quotient of Fuzion Frenzy.

Oh, yes: Sega Soccer Slam can be played multiplayer - only one other player, though (I think). It has enough of a learning curve that precludes it from being a really great party game (it's simply not as pick-up-and-play as Fuzion Frenzy) but it has a good sense of humour and I'd say would be a better spectator's game than FF.

As Mandi is so keen on orgainsing Fire Team meetings for Black Talon I think I'm going to have to bow to popular demand. However, I'll see if I can squeeze Honour and the Regiment in there. Not sure when I'll be able to squeeze the requisite writing in, though; it's going to be a fairly busy weekend. We're heading off to Dan and Leslie's on Saturday for their youngest's birthday, and we're going to see if we can squeeze a session of The Banger Sisters in as well (our Greater Union Cinema Club membership gives us two $9 tickets). There's also a mow to be lawned sometime, and various other cleany-up and sorty-out thingies to be done. You know - those thingies what you got to do every so offen.