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Thursday, October 3

Well, that's nice, I think it might be spam though...

Microsoft Corporation
Corporate Headquarters
Microsoft Campus, Redmond
Washington 98052. USA

Attached is your Official Copy of our award Letter as been selected as our third Prize Winner in the ongoing Microsoft 2013 Microsoft Edinburgh Products Sales Award.Please Complete the questions on your award Letter attached as directed.

Congratulations from the Staffs & Members of Microsoft Board Commission.
Derrick McCourt.
Regional Director,


                                    Ā©2013  Microsoft CorporationĀ®

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Tuesday, August 13

Madness - The Liberty of Norton Folgate (2009)

Madness's ninth studio album, and a great success it is too! Finally the Madness album Madness fans were waiting for. It's a bit of a concept album and sounds like, hmm, well, like London. It's a weird thing to say but you'll know what I mean if you've listened to it. When I first listened to it I didn't think it was amazing. It's not like it contains instantly catchy 'singles'. But the more you listen to it the more you appreciate its genius. The title track, 'The Liberty of Norton Folgate', is impossible to describe. It certainly takes you on a journey.

There are a lot of songs on here that I love, 'Sugar and Spice', 'Forever Young', 'NW5'... It's weird because the songs aren't necessarily super catchy but they really work as an album. I'd really recommend that you buy the whole thing as a proper album and listen to it all the way through, don't pick and mix songs and don't shuffle them! That's the thing about concept albums, I suppose! This could be one of their best albums. Original material, the original line-up, and the polish and confidence that comes with being in the business for 30 years. :D

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Madness - The Dangermen Sessions Vol. 1 (2005)

This is a bit of a weird album since it's pretty much all cover versions. It's a ska album, but it's a lot more polished than their early more ska albums. I have to admit there are some songs on here that I don't really like (not as Madness covers, anyway), such as 'Israelites'. But there's some good stuff on here, too. 'Shame and Scandal' really grows on you after a while, and I like 'Rain' (perhaps the least ska song on the album). It's a bit of fun I suppose but I think most Madness fans were hoping for a proper Madness album, not an album of cover versions.

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Wednesday, May 29

Android Gaming Update - ScummVM and Flight of the Amazon Queen

Ok, so this is a kind of joint 'review' of ScummVM and 'Flight of the Amazon Queen'. First off, ScummVM. If you've never heard of it, SCUMM VM lets you play old adventure games (such as Monkey Island) on various devices, including Android! If you're used to the 'click on something in the Play Store and install it and go' type approach then this is slightly more complicated, but it's worth the effort. (You have to install ScummVM and also the plugins for the games you want and download the game files and install them in the right places.) Also, steering a mouse pointer around with the touch screen is a bit strange to begin with but necessary to play the games.

So, what was the first game I played with ScummVM? A game that I bought on the Amiga years ago and never finished, 'Flight of the Amazon Queen'. Oddly, I enjoyed it a lot more this time round. The only annoying thing was a puzzle that I couldn't figure out and still don't understand even though I looked up the answer - which buttons to press in the temple to open a certain door. If anyone gets to this and works out why you press what you press, please let me know! I'd gladly have paid money for this as a finished game on Android, so getting it for free with ScummVM makes it even better! I really enjoyed it. It centres around Joe King, Pilot for Hire, who ends up roaming around the Amazon trying to stop an evil Scientist called Doctor Ironstein from turning people into an evil Dinosaur army. The puzzles are mostly fairly obvious (with a bit of thought) and there are some laugh out loud moments. If you liked the humour of LucasArts games you'll probably like this! FOTAQ is from the peak of adventure gaming, really, originally released in 1994 (this ScummVM version was made available in 2004).

ScummVM is a great opportunity to play old games and it's perfectly legal - a lot of people want their old games played and aren't going to spend the money making them work on modern devices, so its emulation approach is a brilliant way to give these games another airing.

The only question remaining is what to play next!

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Madness - Wonderful (1999)

Album Project Update! Madness's seventh studio album, 'Wonderful' (1999). The band got back together! This was the first Madness album I bought when it came out, since I was a bit young to buy the others in the 80s. :) I really loved this record, 'Lovestruck', 'Johnny the Horse' and 'The Wizard' are all real sing-along fun. '4am' was also on Suggs's 1995 album 'The Lone Ranger'. I think, possibly, I like that version better. (That album is pretty, good, incidentally!) All in all, this is a real return to form for the band, full of energy, and with their ska roots showing (unlike 'Mad Not Mad'!). If you recognise anything off of it it's likely to be 'Lovestruck'. But, really, if you like Madness you should own this album.

I should perhaps also mention that there were numerous projects undertaken by members of Madness during their 'split', including an album by 'The Madness', which was basically Madness without Mark Bedford, Daniel Woodgate and Mike Barson. That album was released in 1988 and featured a song I like very much, 'I Pronounce You'. It is still quite 80s, and not quite Madness, but it's well worth a listen if you can get hold of it!

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Thursday, May 16

Madness - Mad Not Mad (1985)

Album Project update! Madness's sixth studio album, 'Mad Not Mad' (1985), the only one not to feature Mike Barson. Though I like some of the songs on here, some of them really aren't that 'mad'. For instance, 'Burning the Boats' is almost completely electronic. The only thing that makes it sound like Madness is Suggs singing on it. It's very 80's, very... polished. I've always liked 'White Heat', but I guess the most famous song on here is 'Uncle Sam'. Or maybe 'Yesterday's Men'. Or 'Sweetest Girl'. All of which charted in the Top 40. This album has a lot of songs on it that seem to be about goodbyes. Perhaps they made it knowing it was to be their last album for more than 10 years...

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Wednesday, May 15

Madness - Keep Moving (1984)

Album Project update! Realised I never finished posting about Madness albums, and since they've released a new one I thought I should get on with it! 'Keep Moving' (1984) was their fifth studio album. If 'The Rise & Fall' was a bit more experimental, this is a bit more polished, less ska, more mainstream perhaps. The only song on it you're likely to have heard is 'Michael Caine'. But that's actually a song I'm not so keen on, I've never figured out why. I like 'Victoria Gardens' a lot, for equally unknown reasons. The album has a song on it about a boy who hides in a fridge and gets trapped. It's the last album to feature Mike Barson until their 1999 comeback album - he wasn't part of the lineup for 'Mad Not Mad'. Hmm... I'm pretty much out of facts now. :) Though I like the enthusiasm of their earlier albums, this is probably one of the albums I've listened to more. They're much more grown up. Much more accomplished in what they're doing. But not quite as much fun...

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He has a bowler hat, go figure.















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