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January 19, 2005

Off the Air for a While

Just a quick notice to let everyone know that Vickie and I are in the final stages of packing - which means that my PC will soon be packed away. With any luck, we'll be live again around the 28th.

January 16, 2005

Last Sydney Party at the New Orleans Cafe

Well, in a dual celebration of my attaining that glorious state known as Unemployment and our last Saturday in Sydney, Vickie and I invited some friends to dinner with us at the New Orleans Cafe last night. The food was fantastic (try their cajun cheese burger with the guacamole and bacon sometime, you won't regret it).

As is our habit nowadays, we took the digital camera along, and here you will see the results:

Last night was a fun occasion, yet bittersweet. That's pretty much the last time we'll be seeing our friends for a while. We don't expect to be back in Sydney for some time (our pay will be going on renovations and other measures aimed at making our home in Gordonvale a home again before we start thinking aobut trips South), and a holiday to Cairns can be pretty darned expensive.

Still, we've made sure our friends know they have a room with us.

Although how we'd fit them all in there is beyond me...

January 13, 2005

Tick, Tick, Tick...

Well, now we're almost there. It's three months to the day since I announced on the web log my decision to move Vickie and I back to Cairns. Looking at our place now, you'd be hard-pressed to recognise it if you'd last seen it on October 13th, 2004. Our armchair, rocking chair, dining table and TV stand have gone; in their place are a couch, larger dining table and a big entertainment unit that in which the TV stand out less than it used to. The pot-bellied stove will soon be gone, as will our old 68cm TV. The pair of large old speakers has been relegated to the spare room, and in their place is a 5.1 surround sound speaker set.

Most of our shelves and walls are bare also; we hit eighty packed boxes of stuff last night and we're still going. The electronics and speakers will be packed either on the weekend or on Monday. The kitchen is also largely bare; we have what we need to cook the basics, and we're running down our supplies where we can, but we'll probably be getting a lot of takeaway next week.

I still have a computer room to pack away. Speaking of which, Vickie's 19" monitor, graciously loaned to us by my employer, was returned today, leaving Vickie computerless for the time being. She's logging on via a separate profile I've set up on my PC.

Then there are the grounds, and the shed. I'll probably spend a good chunk of Saturday taking to the lawn with whipper-snipper and mower, then packing the lot, and the rest of the shed, away for transit.

Three months have flown by in a second, and we still have so much to do before we leave on Friday week. It's almost unfair that we've had so much time - which we've used - and still have so much to do. Thankfully, friends will be dropping by next week to help out.

Not much longer now. That's a blessing and a curse if ever there was!

Serenity Roleplaying Game On Its Way

Well, if this post on RPGnet is anything to go by, it looks as though we can expect a Serenity Roleplaying Game to be released at around the same time as the movie. Margaret Weis Productions will be making the game; although many punters were hoping Eden Studios, makers of the Buffy and Angel RPGs, would make the game, Eden believes the risk would be too great for FOX's price for the Firefly RPG license.

So while the RPG mightn't include the glory of our favourite TV series, it'll still have all the goodness that Joss Whedon and the crew of Serenity will be able to cram into the movie. Shiny!

January 10, 2005

A Miracle of Science

Anyone who checks Steve Jackson Games' Daily Illuminator on a regular basis probably knows about this web comic already, but if you don't I heartily encourage you to go and have a read. Hell, why not begin at the beginning? I did, and enjoyed every page of it.

What is it? Oh, just your average boy-meets-girl story. Well, except it's the future. And boy is a hard-bitten cop. And girl is a rather perky, super-powered representative of a planetwide group mind. And they're both on the case of a victim of a memetic disorder who's threatening to take over the world...

Just go read it. Trust me. Hell, I enjoyed it so much, I added it to my web site's links list.

January 08, 2005

Paranoia XP

Thanks to an expanded setting that caters for any particular taste of Paranoia you may have, a satirical take on modern woes and new mechanics that encourage Paranoiaís brand of backstabbing and betrayal without sacrificing speed and playability, Paranoia XP manages to successfully modernise the game whilst keeping the best of what old-time players love about previous editions. Worthy of a place on the bookshelves of all self-respecting gamers.

This review is posted on RPGnet.

January 07, 2005

My Long Lost Fae Brother?

I ran into a friend at work today. She told me that she'd recently been to America, and paid a visit to Walt Disney World while she was there. She reckons she saw a Disney character who was the spitting image of me. (No, not Goofy!) She even took some photos, and forwarded a couple on to me.

So in the spirit of hard-hitting, investigative journalism (and just so Boots and Rog don't feel singled out), this website must ask:

Is Rob the long lost brother of Peter Pan? He Can Fly, But I Can't

(Yes, the pic of me is about three years old. I thought the comparison would work better.)

I Don't Envy Their Luck...

In an earlier post, I mentioned that British firm Pendragon Pictures had completed shooting of a true-to-the-novel film of H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds. Since early December, I've been waiting with baited breath for the first special effects trailer, in which, hopefully, we would get glimpses of director Timothy Hines' take on Wells' Martians and their Machines. The original date given was "Late December", which became January 6th, which came and went (at least, in australia) with no new trailer. I checked again this morning; still nothing.

Then, just now, I had another look. Where the trailer's release date was, there's now a link that states "Click here for a word about the new THEATRICAL TRAILER". My heart fell. Obviously, no new trailer yet.

Then I clicked on the link.

Now, if you've been following Pendragon's effort as closely as I, you'll know that Hines, like Spielberg and Cruise, originally opted to do a modern re-telling of Wells' work. He was in pre-production on September the 11th, 2001, but felt he couldn't continue when his plot included planes falling from the sky as the Martians detonate EMP bombs across the globe. So he revamped his production from the ground up as a direct adaptation of Wells' novel in its original early-twentieth-century setting.

Without intent of downplaying or degrading the tragedy of either the World Trade Centre attack or the recent tsunamis in the Indian Ocean - you'd just hate to be in Timothy Hines' shoes right now, eh?

In 2005, I Absolutely Avoid Resolving To...

Well, itís the beginning of the year, which means resolutions. Iíve been thinking a bit about what I want to do with it and myself in it. Iím hoping that getting away from some of my troubles down here and moving to a nicer environment will help me focus on what I really want to do; as I (hopefully) wonít trying to distract myself from unpleasantness half the time, Iíll be able to realise whatís really pleasant (like, I hope, hard work).

Being the materialistic sod I am, of course, Iíve also been thinking about the things Iíd like to splurge on should I get some disposable income. These purely materialistic and utterly selfish Ė but god, what fun they are, eh?

So let me break it down:

Resolutions:

The immediate and obvious resolutions for this year are to work like a bugger at both getting our house in Cairns ship-shape (which will probably make a handyman out of me) and finding a job that will pay all the bills.

Once those are out of the way, though, what else do I want to do?

Learn to Cook

Although the thought of learning to cook has popped into and out of my mind for a little while, it only stopped being a Big, Horrid Thing Iíll Have To Learn Some Day after watching Robert Rodriguezí Ten Minute Cooking School special feature on the Once Upon A Time In Mexico DVD. There was just something uncomplicated and straight up about how he went about cooking the movieís signature dish, puerco pibil. It was his last piece of advice that stuck with me, though: Learn to make your three favourite dishes. In other words, start small, but with what you like. (I also liked the idea of, once youíd expanded your repertoire to ten, of making your own house menu, but thatíll come later.) I was still a little stumped; I think lasagne would be a bit too much to bite off at first.

Vickie and I hired Once Upon A Time In Mexico from Video Ezy just before Christmas, and in an act of good timing, her daughter Gemma decided her Christmas present to me would be a cookbook called express recipes. Itís this ring-bound flip-book with a picture of the meal on one side and easy-to-read-and-follow instructions on the other. As it stands up on its own, itíll be very easy to have both handy and not in the way when in the kitchen. Iíve been slowly flipping through the pages, looking at dishes and putting little post-it notes on the ones I like. Okay, Iím not putting post-it notes on, but I really ought to be; some of those dishes Iíd quite like to prepare, for both the two of us (itís long past the time that me taking the dinner load off Vickie should be more than just nipping out for takeaway) and when we have guests.

Once we get our kitchen fixed, of course. Thanks to our tenantsí neglect and an accident that said neglect exacerbated, our kitchen needs thorough renovating. We have a quote from the insurers, but weíre waiting until we get there so we can direct the renovations a bit. Oh, yeah; we only found out yesterday that the tenants managed to blow the heating element on our barely-two-year-old stove.

Learn PERL and Web Server Maintenance

Marcus, the administrator of our web sites, gave me some form of access rights to his web hosting account on the server in the US, but I have no clue how to use them. In the meantime, Marcus is a fairly busy bloke; heís got a job to do, a move of his own to manage and chicks to chase. So sitting down to manage our web site usually winds up taking a back seat.

Ultimately, though, this ought to give me incentive to learn how to manage the server, or at least our corner of it, myself. As far as I can see, this will entail learning PERL at least, as well as Apache (Iím not sure precisely what hosting software the server runs, but I think the base platform is Windows Server 2000 or 2003). Once I have PERL under my belt, Iíll better understand how the guts of Movable Typeís scripts work, which I think will improve my ability to implement an upgrade to version 3.0.

And speaking of the site, I also want tog et all those old postings from October 2001 to April 2004 back onto the log. Hell, I canít even look at last yearís resolutions at the moment.

Non-Resolutions:

Find and/or make some Roleplayers in Cairns

Iíve already taken some small steps, including setting up that Meetup group that no one else has joined yet. The valiant =web searching Vickie initiated a couple of months ago has unfortunately been fruitless (although I must admit Iím yet to seriously trawl the forums of the Far North Queensland Gamerís League for tabletop gamers). The general consensus seems to be that if Iím to find gamers anywhere, theyíll be at James Cook University, so once I get some time Iíll try there.

I am, of course, being tempted by some RPGs that Iíd like to buy:

  • Blue Rose. This D20-based RPG bills itself as ďThe Roleplaying Game of Romantic FantasyĒ, and I rather like the idea. From the developerís journals, theyíve moved the emphasis away from traditional action-based challenges and levelling up, and actually managed to bring Ė well, a heart to fantasy roleplay, a little more human drama in the vein of writers like Mercedes Lackey. Regular roleplayers might find it a little offputting as a result, bout I think itíd be a good game to introduce non-gamers, especially females, to the hobby (all female players will subject to Vickieís approval, of course). And hell, I like Anne McCaffrey and enjoyed what Mercedes Lackey Iíve read, so why not?
  • Primetime Adventures. Another independent roleplaying game, this oneís been burning up the indie boards since its release. Itís all about simulating TV shows Ė not the echanics or the back-stage stuff, but the plot, charcters, arcs, pacing and (a little bit of) budget. I really like what Iíve read so far and wouldnít mind picking it up some time.
  • The Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 Edition Core Books. I still want to run an Eberron campaign some time, but I donít have the core books aside from 3rd Edition Playerís Handbook. So when I have a spare $180 (and enough interested gamers to justify the investment), I might plunk it down on them.
  • Silhouette CORE, plus Heavy Gear 3rd Edition and Jovian Chronicles 2nd Edition. You already know how much I love Heavy Gear, and as much as I think Second Edition does what I need it to, I still want to be forward-compatible with the new stuff when it comes out. Iíve also loved Jovian Chronicles since I first bought the original Green Mekton Supplements, and the 2nd Edition, which compiles all sorts of goodies from the Silhouette First Edition books, seems like a great grab. Plus, Dream Pod 9ís Introductory Heavy Gear 3rd Edition Special gives me all the 3rd Edition HG product line for less than getting it at the bookstores here Ė even with shipping included!
Computer/Video Game Stuff

Less of a thing than the RPG stuff, especially as it tends to be a bit more expensive. Vickieís son Karl has an Xbox and Halo 2, and Iíd love to have some system link games with him (and any friends and relatives we can rope in) sometime. Xbox Live is also tempting, especially as we have that wireless hub; the only problem is, I still need a wireless bridge, and then thereís the XBL account itself. I think EB has them on sale for $50 at the moment, but it might be back to $100 by the time we get to Cairns and have some disposable income again. In the meantime, Burnout 3 and Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords are singing their siren songÖ

Iím also starting to drool over World of Warcraft. It seems like the kind of MMORPG that not only I could get into, but also drag Vickie into; the reviews Iíve read say itís extremely polished and extremely fun; it could well be easier to play than co-operative Neverwinter Nights. Of course, thereís the prohibitive cost of two copies of the game plus two subscriptions, so Iíd say weíre more likely to knuckle down and polish off Shadows of Undrentide. In the meantime, given a decent ADSL connection and some plan I have in place with the Gavin, I should be able to hook up with the lads in Sydney for some Dawn of War.

January 04, 2005

Auction: Robotech Collector's Cards

Yet another eBay auction: This time, I've put my collection of Robotech trading cards up. These were given to me as a gift a few years ago and I've kept them in good condition ever since. As I've barely even looked at them in that time, I thought they'd be better going to the home of a collector rather than moving with us to humid Cairns.

January 03, 2005

Christmas Party 2004 Photos

Today I finally got around to processing the photos I took at the party Vickie and I held the week before Christmas, making these photos a few weeks overdue.

  • Mid-Evening
    From left to right: John Osterberg, Tara, Jason, Andrew Hilton, Gav, Pirotess, EvilHayama
  • On the Porch
    From left to right: Jason, Sim, John Osterberg
  • Mandi On the Porch
  • Tall Tales by Lamplight
    From left to right: Pirotess, EvilHayama, Gav, Andrew Hilton, Tara
  • Late Evening
    From left to right: Jason (half-visible), EvilHayama (almost invisible), Sim, Pirotess, Gav, Tara, Mandi, John Osterberg, Master Chief

Unfortunately, in an extreme bout of slack-bastarditis, especailly considering that this was pretty much the last time we'll have that gang together at our place the last time, I didn't get any group "Everyone say Cheese!" shots. My apologies to everyone who didn't get their face in a photo.

January 02, 2005

Auctions: TV and Books

Now that Christmas is out of the way, I've relisted the Delta Green books and put a new auction up for our old 68cm TV. Please wander along and have a look!

January 01, 2005

Closed for Holidays

If you've been to our place on a regular basis, you probably know about the Normanhurst Pizza Cafe and the bloody wonderful pizza they make. God knows I've mentioned them enough times on this web log.

Vickie and I were hoping to have one last get-together feast there before we left for Cairns, both for the people who couldn't make our Christmas party and everyone else we like. Unfortunately, though, they're closed until January the 24th, fully three days after Vickie and I commence our move North.

Let me just say that Joe, Helen and the crew of the Cafe all deserve all the holiday they can get. It's just a bugger for us greedy bastards, is all.

So where else can we drag everyone to?