« July 2003 | Main | September 2003 »

August 31, 2003

Going Once, Going Twice...

Morning everyone! It's been a pretty good weekend so far. Vickie and I did some shopping in Chatswood yesterday, and I managed to sell my RPG stuff on eBay for far and beyond over what I was expecting to get! After eBay deducts its fees for posting items for auction and its cut of the winning bids, I'll be walking away with a little over $160!

I'm still debating whether to put some of the other stuff up for auction. Not for sentimental reasons; it's just that I'm not sure whether it's worth paying $2 to post something that I doubt will sell well. You know, stuff like the Lawnmower Man RPG, the Men in Black RPG, my first and second editions of the Mutant Chronicles RPG. I'm even debating putting some of my comics collections on eBay; mostly the stuff I don't read any more like Azrael, Iron Man, the first couple of Darkminds mini-series and maybe some of the TransFormers stuff. (Oh, yeah; I don't think that I mentioend that I've cancelled a lot of my Phantom Zone subscriptions. However, I'm still staying with Phantom Zone; as there's a good bead shop in Chatswood, Vickie and I both have reason to pootle down there on a monthly basis.)

I also managed to sell off most of my Star Wars D20 stuff to Gav. I'm keeping the Revised Edition rulebook, because that's all I'm ever likely to need, but Gav now has my Dark Side Sourcebook, Rebellion Era Sourcebook, Alien Anthology and Living Force Campaign Guide, plus the first edition Star Wars D20 rules (I'm pretty sure he has the Revised Edition rulebook already), and he purchased all that product for $100!

I've already had a light splurge. Boots and Gav have got into Crimson Skies Clix, and as it's such a cheap buy-in (the boxed set of rules costs AU$16, and a squadron of four planes costs $30-$35) they roped me into it as well. I got in a little cheaper than otherwise; Gav originally bought the Fortune Hunters squadron, but wanted to switch to the Red Skull Legion, and as the gaming shop near where I work had them, I bought them for him, and he gave me $15 and the Fortune Hunters (I don't know why, but I rather like the idea of playing the dashing air pirates). Boots, Gav and I played on Friday night, and it was much fun. Boots was going to meet us in Chatswood yesterday after having lunch with family so he and I could have another game in the afternoon, but he was just getting ready to leave his place as we were just getting ready to leave Chatswood - at half past one PM. Slack bugger.

Boots and Gav are planning to enter in the Crimson Skies tournament at this year's Necronomicon, and I think they'll be twisting my arm to enter as well. Also, Boots is looking for someone who owns the Broadway Bombers squadron, so he can split Aces Pack 1 with them. He wants "Charlie" Steele, but not Loyle "Show-stopper" Crawford. Can anyone help him - or, can anyone else be suckered into buying Crimson Skies (and the Broadway Bombers) for themselves?

In the meantime, I'm thinking of picking up the Aces Pack for the Fortune Hunters, which actually has two aces for the same squadron, and I'm sure that if the Ragin' Cajuns squadron is released, Gav will be wanting to split Aces Pack 3 with whomever is keen on them, so he can get the Jonathan "Genghis" Kahn ace plane. I still need to buy some more Black Talon miniature supplies as well, so I'm going to have to make a dash into the city on a Thursday evening or a weekend and find out whether the Tin Soldier has any of what I need - if not, I'll be putting an order in with the gaming store up the road from work.

And there's Dad's Day coming up. And we still need a new aerial. And Vickie's Birthday is early October. And I still have the credit card to pay off. And then there's the trip to Cairns in January... God damn it, I'm going all Scottish again. Not good. Lighten up, Rob. Go buy yourself that TransFormers: Armada trailerless Optimus Prime you saw in Toys 'R' Us yesterday or something. Heck, go get fit; skip rope some more.

Anyway, the main reason we were in Chatswood yesterday is because Vickie has a new hobby: jewellery-making. She's been browsing bead-shops and casing eBay for bead collections, gold wire, chains and the like, and she's put together some good pieces. She's keen on setting herself up a serious sideline in jewellery; in fact, she'd prefer to quit working and concentrate on jewellery-making full time, if it becomes lucrative enough.

This means she's now keen on getting a serious web-site that she can use as an online showcase for her product (Gav, I'll probably be taking you up on your offer of a loan of yoru digital camera soon). I've taken a break from fiddling with Movable Type and Apache lately, as I started hitting some problems. Now, I'm going to be getting seriously stuck back into it, which means some things - such as the Black Talon campaign - may have to take a back-seat for the time being.

Which must be very annoying for my players. I'd just spent the past few weeks pimping the idea of Blue Booking to everyone, and Dan and I were just getting started. (Don't tell anyone, though, but I'm secretly a little relieved; after doing my big song-and-dance, I started wondering whether I was biting off more than I could chew by managing Blue Book-by-e-mail and a monthly campaign.)

So if I don't post too much over the next two weeks, it's just because, in between work and web-development, I'll be well and truly sick of computers.

August 23, 2003

Panik Orchestra

Hi folks! I know I've not exactly been posting prolifically lately; chalk it up to my other job as professional worrier. Vickie reckons it's the Scots blood in me - those with the blood of the Haggis (my great-grandfather was a Scot) tend to be very possessive of money and worry about it a lot. I've been working myself into a depression lately over paying for the trip we'll be taking to Cairns for Vickie's son's wedding in January, as well as a trip to the UK I want to organise for mid-next year. See, I've been kicking myself for splurging on an Xbox when I had a perfectly serviceable PC, not to mention over-indulging during the Last Big Upgrade (which I still have a largeish credit card debt from). I'd talked myself into that upgrade so that I could have a system worthy of Tron 2.0 when it hit the shelves, and the problems I had with the Radeon 9700 enabled me to justify (to myself) taking it back and getting a PRO. I'd also got an e-mail from Boots, who wanted some advice on upgrading a freind's PC. The whole "guilt about the overkill upgrade" bit took hold, and I wrote back, saying if the friend was interested, he or she could buy my current mainboard and the Radeon 9700 PRO for a reasonable price. This morning, I put the Xbox up on eBay and made a few posts on the Jyangroup. Vickie talked some sense into me, though, and I went over my budget again. Eliminating some of my expenses (I've already trimmed my comics subscription back to a few titles) and limiting myself to a strict allowance of $70 per week, I can put enough away to clear the debt and pay for the airfare to Cairns. While I'd changed my mind on the Radeon and mobo, I was still thinking of selling das Xbox (I'd even had an expression of interest in the Xbox from a member of the Jyangroup; his son has a birthday coming up) - at least, right up until a freind of the Cazman's made an offer. I started hemming and hawing, and once again, it was Vickie who was the voice of common sense - if I'm hemming and hawing that much, then I don't want to sell it. Damn it, she's right, I don't. Even through we still need a new aerial for the place, I don't want to sell the opportunity to play Halo 2 next year. Ich bin ein geek, all right. I'm also keeping my mainboard and graphics card, and offering Boots the advice originally asked for. This means I owe some people - Boots, the Cazman, Al and (the other) Trent of the Jyangroup - some apologies for dicking them around while I sorted myself out. I'm sorry, guys. I read in one of my favourite books once that there's this game called "schlemiel", the object of which is to do things that you (presumably have to) apologise for. Every time I apologise for something, I wonder whether I'm really just making some pathetic attempt to garner sympathy. Thanks to Dan and the loan of his digital camera, I've been able to put some RPG stuff up on eBay for sale. If you're keen, please take a look; this is stuff I really, honestly would prefer was converted into money, no horseshit this time. Please have a look and see if anything takes your interest; the auctions are running for seven days. I have a few things yet to post, and might wait for a week or so. You never know; we might just get a nice win out of Lotto! That's right, Vickie and I have recently started buying Lotto tickets. Our first entry doubled what we paid for it, so we used half the proceeds to get another one for this coming Monday's draw. I'm still fiddling with Movable Type right now. Although I managed to get the isntallation working properly, I started having trouble with the trial blogs I set up. I've deleted and re-installed the Perl-enabled build of Apache I downloaded and am trying again. My main goal is to get a working blog for Vickie set up, so that whether I go with Telstra or Marcus for my web-hosting needs, I can get Vickie up and running immediately, keeping this site running until I'm satisfied with my own blog. I'm also fiddling around with ideas for some blue booking in the Heavy Gear Black Talon campaign (something else I want to set a blog up for) and am trying to sort out what we'll be doing next session. In the meantime, Dan is still brewing away on the Bubblegum Crisis game he wants to run. It's five minutes to eleven this evening, and Vickie finally got me to watch a black-and-white Sean Connery movie called The Hill. It's a bloody great piece of British drama, and therefore a real change of pace from the Bond films (Connery did it right after Goldfinger). Everyone in it does a fantastic job, and if you think you like British cinema, you owe it to yourself to watch it. (Editor's note 10 Oct 03: Credit where credit's due; The Hill was a present to us from Jillian when she was here in January.) By the way: We've found a new gaming addiction. It's called Rocket Mania!, and as you've probably guessed you can find it on your old stand-by of Web gaming, Popcap Games. It's one of those addictive little bastards that you keep playing for ages before you realise how much time has flown. Personally, I like the cute talking dragon.

August 12, 2003

(Not the) Sale of the Century

Evening everyone! I was going to write something on Sunday, but found myself wanting to stay the heck away from my PC after about 5 PM.

I just looked over our bills situation for August. Factoring in the triple-hit of rent, I'm going to have around $80 for the entire month. I want to sink $42 of that into my credit card, and make a token deposit in the Christmas Club. Vickie has to pay around $600 in rates this month for her place in Cairns that she's renting out. This means we're going to be quite stingy this month, especially as we have a guest arriving from Perth on the ninth. Ergo, no computer games, not even Tron 2.0, until October at the earliest (maybe, as we have a trip to Cairns in January to shell out for, not even before January '04). Even the TV aerial, which I was hoping to buy in July, is going to have to wait until September. I thought that I'd have my tax refund in by now, but I've yet to receive any documentation from my various superannuation accounts. It looks like it's time for me to do some phoning.

After some due consideration, I've decided that the Telstra cable vs. iiNet ADSL battle has been won by Telstra. Although iiNet comes across as better value for money, we're a little greedy when it comes to performance. I occasionally download stuff that would otherwise take ages, and Telstra's performance has been rock-solid over the past few months; no outages, no drop-outs. After what I've read about the decreased bandwidth and unreliability of ADSL, I'm thinking about giving in and swallowing the extra $40 per month to get us some decent, Movable Type-capable webspace (and I'm still yet to receive a decent answer from Telstra on whether their Premium Hosting meets MT's requirements).

With a little luck, I might have some money back from the taxman before things get dire. In the meantime, Dan has loaned me his digital camera, a nifty little Nikon Coolpix, which I will be using to take some photos of my old RPG stock for eBay purposes. I'm even (horror of horrors) thinking of selling my old Wing Commander games; none of them will run properly under XP, and the older ones I can't even run at all (I don't have a 5.25" disk drive, let alone a low-end Pentium 1, that I could run them on). I have the feeling that the collector's value might well make them worthwhile offering. I'd changed my mind on selling the Xbox and kit after Cameron bought me an Official Xbox Shoulder Bag for my birthday, but things getting tight again has put it back on the cards. If anyone's keen, I've dropped my, perhaps unrealistic, selling-price of $600 to $300 or nearest offer. At that bargain price, you're getting:

  • An Xbox Console with Standard AV Connector and Advanced AV connector (S-Video/Digital Audio).
  • An Official Xbox Carrybag with Shoulder Sling.
  • Four Controllers, two Big, two Small.
  • Halo, the system's premiere first-person shooter.
  • Enter The Matrix, the action game based on the hit movie The Matrix: Reloaded.
  • MechAssault, bringing big Mechs to the Xbox in explosive style.
  • Rallisport Challenge, one of the best rally racing games on console.
  • Sega Soccer Slam, the fun, tongue-in-cheek sports game.
  • Dead Or Alive 3, the visually spectacular martial arts fighting game.
  • Fuzion Frenzy, the Xbox's first party title.

All components and most games are in good condition, the only exception being Fuzion Frenzy, which I purchased as a used title.

Episode 4 of Heavy Gear: Black Talon finally ran on Saturday. Although the plot I had prepared was well and truly derailed by my players, things still went fairly smoothly, and the whole crew professed to a good time. We're tentatively looking at September the 20th as the date for Episode 5, although we're still discussing what we'd like to actually do in that episode.

Boots and I have been swapping demos; he downloaded Battlefield 1942: Secret Weapons of World War II and I, of course, downloaded the new Tron 2.0 single-player demo. We played a little Secret Weapons last night, and I will say that it's good fun, although I'd still like to be able to voice-chat. I'm going to see if I can get him to play some Disc Arena in Tron 2.0, but I'm beginning to find the gameplay rather dull compared to Battlefield 1942.

Readers of the Activity Monitor will notice that I'm reading Robert M. Pirsig's philosophical work, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. We bought it (translation: I bought it with Vickie's credit card) from Borders Books a few days ago, and it's a really interesting, crunchy read. It's about as far from a dry philosophy text as you can get. Ever since reading the final collected works of Douglas Adams, A Salmon of Doubt, I've been finding the fiction sections of bookstores increasingly boring to browse. I've never really looked in the philosophy section before, but when I was directed there by the Borders staff in order to find Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, I couldn't help but be attracted by the titles of some of the books - I can't remember any from the top of my head, but I remember wishing I had more money available.

I'd love to talk with anyone who's read it. Is there any such person in the readership of the website, or on the IMAGinewS list?