Welcome to SpaCeMonKeY UK, the blog of Helen Wells (nee Berrington, aka FieryFred) since 2002.





Mr Random


Steam pop pop boats!
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SpaCeMonKeY UK

Friday, August 30

Was the Playstation Experience any good, then? It had its good points and its bad points.

The exhibition was very well organised, and the amount of people let in was probably just about right. It was set up so that each games publisher (Eidos, Codemasters etc) had a wall of PS2 screens with controllers, displaying games that weren't out yet. And some of the racing games had logitech steering wheels and pedals, too. The design was great, with blue themed graphics throughout, smoke to create atmosphere, and screens showing game highlights.

All the games had several screens, so you were usually only third or fourth in a queue. There were a few games it was hard to get close to, but that was generally due to the fact the games took too long to play. (In the context of a "hands on" gaming exhibition!) One example of this was Stuntman. It was impossible for anyone to try a section once and then walk away. You had to keep trying until you got it right. (I think that's pretty much the basis of the game! I think it'd drive me mad, but other people seemed to be enjoying it!)

I didn't actually play many of the games - I like to watch other people. That's my excuse anyway. Perhaps I just didn't want other people to laugh at me! I did try Shox, which seems to be a rather fun little arcade style rallying type thing. And also Timesplitters 2, which was great fun in four player mode. Apart from that dratted monkey. Boy, he's hard to kill! What else did I try. Oh, Burnout 2, which I didn't think was so good. It wasn't all that substantial. There were some completely unavoidable crashes, which was a good thing in some ways, since they looked fantastic! Mwahahaha.

Out of the games I watched, I think Colin McRae 3 was the best. It looks like it'll be the best in the series. And it is the best rally game series ever..! One thing I particularly liked was the way you accrued damage. I was watching my brother's friend Chris, and towards the end he was driving along with his left front wheel wobbling disturbingly, the passenger side door swinging open, and the bonnet flapping about. Cooool..!

The best game from a network point of view was SOCOM: US Navy Seals. There were loads of PS2's set up, with half the people playing Seals and half playing terrorists. And apparently, when it's released, there'll be headsets too, so you can communicate with your other team members. Classy stuff.

The most eagerly awaited game there, possibly, was Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness. I spent quite a while watching the trailer - I've had a thing about Tomb Raider for a while, but I'm really awful at the games! Considering they decided to kill her off, the main reason for bringing her back has to be to make money. But I think it has the potential to be a great game. Lara deserves an opportunity to shine on the PS2. And it looks like there's a really good storyline. (Well, as games go, pretty good! It has to be better than the film, right?!)

The most peculiar game was Auto Modellista. (Which is another game that can be played in a network!) Yes, it's another racing game, but it's unlike any other racing game in that it's cel shaded. It looks really odd. I don't know if it looks good or not - I couldn't decide. It's certainly different!

Yes, there were a lot of driving games. But there were lots of other games too. I can't possible name all the games that were there. Or talk about them all. I've talked enough already as it is! There were those dance mat games, and some where you wore boxing gloves and were integrated into the graphics on the monitor. Clever, but not really my cup of tea. For the kids, perhaps. :-)

Oh, and there was a PS2 Linux area, too! Nice to see Sony getting behind the use of their machines for home programming. And other Linuxy things.

Apart from the gaming, what did I get for my £8? Well, there was some bloke, possibly from the So Solid Crew prancing about on the stage. There were some games challenges, although the sound was set up so badly that you couldn't really hear the presenter people. Um, that's about it. The most amusing thing was the demo for some Formula One 2002 racing game that was in the lobby. All the consoles were constantly loading! And they had a thing on the screen that said, "Loading times will be reduced significantly". It made me laugh, anyway!

Oh, there was the goodie bag. Which was good. Although I think it might have been better value if I actually owned my own PS2, so I had something to play the demos on. And even then, my brother would have the demos too. The free magazine costs £5.49 in the shops, so that almost have made the entrance fee back. Not that I would have bought it. Heh. There were fairly awful stickers, postcards and leaflets, a yo-yo, a fantastic lightup PS2 pen (eerie blue glow, yay!), and a PS2 T-shirt. It's a good T-shirt, although it'll probably look like a dress on me.

Would I go again? Probably not. Travelling around the hot, grimy underbelly of London to play games that are almost ready to be released for three hours or so wasn't all that fun. But I'm sure a lot of people had a great time! So...

It's on until 31st August.

Go, get the T-shirt, if you want to!

Thursday, August 29

Well, I've completed Full Throttle now, too. It was fun! Kind of different to other "point and click" adventures because you got to engage in biker fighting action, and demolition derby stunts. Cooool. Oh, and clear a minefield with battery powered rabbits. Woo-hoo! And also shred them against a lorry fan. (That sounds mean.)

And the end credits were hilarious, with biker haiku, and the return of the rabbits! Or should I say bunnies? Very funny. I may have to get an X-Box so I can buy Tim Shafer's new game. When he's finished it. If it's ever finished. If I ever doubted that he had a hilariously warped mind... well, he definitely does. Hooray!

Since I've finished playing these games, apart from Sam and Max, I downloaded a handy utility called SCUMM Revisited. It lets you take apart LucasArts games files and play with all the sound files and background and everything..! It's great! Mark Hamill really doesn't sound like himself in Full Throttle. He does some great voices..!

Tomorrow, after being retro all week, I'm off to Earls Court in London tomorrow. ECTS is on, but you have to be trade to get in. But running alongside that is The Playstation Experience. Should be fun! Not that I actually own a Playstation.

Apparently you get free stuff, though.

Which is nice.

Tuesday, August 27

There was me, thinking I'd have loads of time to do things now I've finished work... but no. On Monday I bought two more classic LucasArts games - The Dig and Full Throttle. The latter is a Tim Schafer creation - he who writes the Double Fine weblog in my sidebar. (He probably does some work, too, sometimes...)

Anyway, ever since I bought those games, I've been, well, playing. I've completed The Dig, although I cheated once or twice. I take some pride in the fact that I completed what seems to be acknowledged as the hardest puzzle without cheating. I justify the use of walkthroughs by thinking that I haven't got loads of time to spend playing these games, so cheating is necessary. Although it irks me that I have to cheat. I think the only "point and click" adventure I haven't looked up answers for was Broken Sword 2... Does that mean it was too easy? :-(

The Dig, then. Another great LucasArts game. There's an interesting story about how it came about...

The story begins with Steven Spielberg. He wanted to develop the idea into a film - a science fiction epic which begins with an asteroid heading towards the Earth, but ends... somewhere quite different. We're not talking Bruce Willis and guns in space! He saw it was going to cost too much, so he decided to try something different. Perhaps his idea could become a multimedia adventure! And so he went to LucasArts, Sean Clark wrote and developed it, and it became... The Dig! Cool, eh?

Now, perhaps you're thinking that the involvement of Steven Spielberg isn't such a great thing. After all, his science fiction of late (in my opinion) has been big effects but who cares if the story's not quite there. But The Dig, existing in the constraints of a "point and click" adventure, depends on a good storyline to keep you playing. It's eerie, it's clever, it makes your heart beat faster (even though you know you can't die), the music is perfect soundtrack material, and it has some hilarious dialogue performed by some top (voice) actors.

Which leads me onto something else. You know who wrote the dialogue? Not only the aforementioned Sean Clark, but also Orson Scott Card! Okay, I've never read any of his books, but he is considered to be a top sci-fi writer. And guess who did the voice of the main character - the one you're controlling? None other than Robert Patrick! Yes, although the game's box delights in describing him as "T2's Robert Patrick", we're talking about Special Agent Doggett here. Even though I haven't watched The X-Files in ages, I know who he is. Doesn't everyone? He does a great job.

Boston Low Boston Low... I think I'm in love. Heh. Is it odd to fall in love with a tiny man made of pixels? I think I had the same problem with Max Payne. It's not really love, it's just... they're so cool! And to make matters worse, Boston Low, in his tiny pixel form, looks sort of like Colonel O'Neill in Stargate. Not that I'm in love with O'Neill, don't misunderstand me, but he's cool too... I love his wry sense of humour. Just like Boston Low's...

I have to pull myself together. *sigh*

Saturday, August 24

Tonight is the first time I've used my laptop, Brian, for a serious internet session. Our old desktop PC, Paul Colin, has a bad mouse problem. The mouse refuses to go over to the extreme left of the screen. Quite why this is, I don't know. I mean, if it was wearing out, why should it go left up to a certain point and then refuse to go any further? It normally manages three quarters of the way without any trouble. Weird. So I'm using Brian. With his lovely screen. (800x600 looks so small now..!)

There are all these things about Windows XP, too. Like when you have a million browsers open, and it turns them into a neat little list.

I discovered something else about this PC that's, well, brilliant! (I'm sorry if this is deathly boring, but I really can't be bothered to think about what I'm typing.) You know I bought a MiniDisc player? Well, it came with one of those neat digital fibre optic cables. We discovered that it would plug into my brother John's Playstation 2 so that we could record CD to MinDisc digitally. Which was nice, but somehow I don't think he'll let me take his PS2 away with me! Now, John had bought a digital link cable by accident, and his had a little adaptor so that you could make the PS2 socket end into a normal looking headphone type socket. Thereby ending up with a cable with identical connections both ends. And I thought about the fact my computer's headphone socket emits a red glow, and bingo! My computer can record digitally!

Those cables are great. You plug them in and the red glow travels all the way through to the other end. Woooow.

So, what else have I done since yesterday? Well, we went to a toy fair this morning. Dad bought a whole load of fantastic pop pop boats! 15 antique ones for £5 each. £5!!! And some of them are boxed. And they're really unusual. He'd put pictures on his website but he's scared someone will come round and steal them all. :-)

Oh, and I spent all afternoon taking pictures of Dad's collection (58 boats) and sorting out a database.

(I'm getting worryingly enthusiastic about those things...!)

Friday, August 23

A distinct lack of blogging this week, but I was busy. For this week was the week that I left work! No more WHSmith Southend for me... although who can tell what the future will hold? I never thought I'd end up working there for a year and a half. I only applied for a couple of nights Christmas replenishment, and I ended up being pretty much full time!

Anyone who thinks retail is easy should think again. You have to be awake, because the customers always have questions. You're on your feet all day - seven and a half hours with a twenty minute break. And you have to put up with daft questions, very strange examples of humanity, and a ton of insults on top of all that! At least, that's what happened during my time in retail...

So, this week I've drifted around not really believing it was all going to end. I mean, part of me still doesn't believe it's all over. Yesterday I went to a restaurant with the other book department people, and they gave me a helium balloon with a sad puppy on it. And the words "You will be missed". And today I had cards, a "Good Luck" teddy bear, vouchers, a particulary intelligent book about DNA in archaeology, and an enormous bunch of flowers!

No more WHSmiths. Wow.

In a month, as long as all goes to plan (I still haven't received any details..!), I'll be off to do my Masters degree.


Monday, August 19


I had a reply from James Hickman, the swimmer!!!!!!!!!!!!! You know I mentioned him and his likeness to a happy puppy? Well, I e-mailed him and asked why there aren't more pictures of him looking like a happy puppy on his website. And he replied!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I think I've just used up my yearly quota of exclamation marks.

This is what he said:

Hi Helen,
Thanks for the e-mail, I don't think you're weird at all, in actual fact I get much weirder e-mails.
The games were the most enjoyable games I've been to, the crowd were fantastic, it was so cool to know that this time the crowd
really were shouting for me the Manchester/England boy! The only thing that would have put the icing on the cake would have been a
gold medal and I wish I'd been able to win one.
After the games I went away for a break, needed to recuperate after all that excitement, hence the delay in replying. I'm back into
training now and I have got the British National Championships in Cambridge on the 12-15th of Sept so I need to get fit form them.
I hope your summer was fun.
All the best
James Hickman

Wow, he doesn't think I'm weird. Which is good, because I did say, "I'm afraid to say I've likened you to a happy puppy" in my original e-mail.


Saturday, August 17

I apologise for not blogging more this week. The reason I've been so lax is because it was my 23rd birthday. I don't feel 23, though. What does being 23 feel like? I was thinking that I haven't really felt older since about... 18. But having said that, I know I've changed an awful lot. Working at WHSmith for a year and a half has changed me immeasurably. Perhaps it's not noticeable to my friends, but when I went there I was scared of everyone and everything. But now I'm not. Which is a good thing. Plus I've learned how horrible some people are to shop assistants. I think everyone should be forced to work in retail for part of their life!

I'm getting all retrospective here because I only have one week left at work. Then it's off into the unknown again. Ooer.

Anyway, maybe you want to know what I did for my birthday. Well, on Wednesday I received a fantastic array of gifts: a bag of coffee related products (drinks, chocolate and even paper made from coffee beans!) from the lovely book people at work, and a filter coffee machine from my brother John. I was amused that all my presents were coffee related. Maybe it's obvious that I... like coffee. :-D

Oh, and I was given £75, too, which I've spent on a Minidisc player. A Sony MZ-R700, if you care about those sorts of things.

And the card the work peeps gave me was great! It's a Dom Joly Trigger Happy TV sort of card. When you open it it plays the Nokia tune and then says, "Hello! I'm in a Birthday Card. No, it's rubbish. Just lots of words, and paper." (If you've seen THTV you'll get that, otherwise... hard luck! :-p

So, Wednesday I went round someone's house for dinner, and Thursday I think I just lazed around. (Not really an excuse for not blogging, but hey. It's been hot round here again!) Yesterday I did something that was very fun - I was taken down Southend seafront by my workmates Cheryl and Barbara! We had fish and chips (well, Barbara had a breakfast thing) and Rossi icecream. Yummmm.... And all the time we were sitting outside the cafe watching the world go by, gazing at the blue sea. Nice.

I hope this rather lazy attempt at a blog placates the people who actually care about me updating...!

I'll just melt now.

Tuesday, August 13

Oh, and I forgot to mention this evidence that Timothy Dalton's great:

"Timothy Dalton should get an Oscar and beat Sean Connery over the head with it!" - Andrew (from the Geek Triumverate in Buffy)

And also he sent me a signed picture. (Which either shows I am obsessed or shows that he's a nice bloke.)

Goodnight then!

Back to work tomorrow. I mean, today I did exciting things like... ironing. Oh, and I took pictures of many of Dad's pop pop boats. (Please, feel free to visit his website, Poppopman.co.uk and see what I mean by this. He would like it if his counter went up, and I noticed that people have turned up here looking for pop pop boats, and there's not really anything here. So, yes.) And also spent ages finding stuff that could go on t-shirts and printing out some transfers. Nice.

One of the transfers is a Living Daylights one. I watched that again last night, and... well, it's about the millionth time I've watched it. I love that film. I've come to the conclusion that I don't like many of the James Bond films. Definitely none of the Roger Moore ones. And I'm not so keen on Pierce Brosnan. I think my problem is that I like the books. The original Ian Fleming ones. And the films aren't much like the books. Apart from the early Sean Connery ones. And On Her Majesty's Secret Service, which is much maligned. But I also like. Hmm.

Where was I? Oh yes. You might have guessed which two films I really like. Yes, the Timothy Dalton ones: The Living Daylights and Licence To Kill. What do I like about them? Let me see. I like the way they're serious. As serious as a James Bond film can be, anyway. You still have some gadgets that'd never work (salt corrosion, anyone) and some throwaway lines that are truly groanworthy, but at their heart they're serious. And Timothy Dalton plays them that way, with all his Shakesperean actor charm.

Yeah, I like Timothy Dalton. But do I like him because the films are good, or do I like the films because he's in them? I might have thought it was just me being obsessed, but I don't think it is. It's not like I could watch Flash Gordon a million times. Or Wuthering Heights. Or the other things he's been in, whatever they are. Plus my brother thinks The Living Daylights is great, too. And he definitely doesn't have a crush on Timbo. Heh.

In John's words, it's like loads of films all rolled into one. It's an amazing film. Fairly complicated for a Bond film. Probably not the sort of thing a modern film audience (who think of Bond as Pierce Brosnan) would like to sit through. (Yes, here I go again saying that today's filmgoers don't like decent films. Mwahaha.)

I think the comment on the IMDb page sums it up rather nicely...

"It is tough to judge one of the Bond actors (with some exceptions) and the Bond movies (with some exceptions) by only seeing it once. At first I thought Timothy Dalton was like all the rest. But after watching the Bond marathon on TV, I realized that Dalton has been the best Bond ever. And this movie is the best Bond film of all time. The Living Daylights has the total package: good action, plot, and romance. Dalton can be dark and serious, as well as light-hearted and smooth. The only bad thing about him is he only did two." - Joldax (USA)

Hmmm. But this wasn't what I wanted to say. I only mentioned The Living Daylights because this time I was able to recognise Virginia Hey! Yes, Zhaan from Farscape was in this film. And not only that, you get to see her almost completely naked. Scary. I mean, Zhaan's had some "no clothes" moments, but she was painted blue. So it didn't seem so bad. Am I making sense? And you saw her nipple in this, for crying out loud! I'll never think of the film in the same way again.

And people are complaining because Die Another Day's going to be more explicit.


Monday, August 12

Well. I had today off work, which was nice. (Although since I only have... less than two weeks left anyway, holiday wasn't strictly necessary!) The most exciting thing I did was (wait for it) visit my account manager at the bank. I was a victim of their call centre. They called me and I couldn't say no. :-)

So, I went and said that I was going back to Uni. He said that he'd give me a £2,000 interest free overdraft, and a credit card. And not just an Asset credit card - an Asset Gold credit card. (I'll have no income, but they're willing to give me that? Weird.)

I wonder if they're desperate to hang onto their existing customers. In the paper at the weekend they said that Lloyds had come out worst in a customer satisfaction poll. And to be honest, I don't keep my money in my current account there for long. I ship it out to Smile, where I get 3% interest instead of 0.1%. Interestingly, Smile came top in the aforementioned poll.

Credit card, woo! International internet purchases here I come!!!

Saturday, August 10

Tonight I am going to talk about how uncertain gaming is on PC's. Oh yes.

A couple of nights ago I thought I'd try loading one of my old games onto my laptop, Brian. It's called Flashback. I had a demo version on my Amiga and liked it - a very slick platformer. In the old style. None of this 3D nonsense. The main character moved beautifully - I think they used an actor to animate him. (And they didn't get the actor to animate him, they filmed the actor.) Anyway, I saw a PC copy secondhand somewhere and bought it, but I've never been able to get it to work.

So, I tried it on Brian. And unsurprisingly, it didn't work. It made me laugh, though. It said I didn't have enough memory. It says it needs 4MB RAM. I have 256MB, so I can only suppose that it's the wrong sort. Or something. :-)

That and a lot of old games don't like Windows. They like DOS. DOS is their friend. I mean, looking at the Delphine forum, it seems that some people are suggesting some complicated ways to possibly make the game work in DOS. But I'm slightly scared to try them...! *sigh*

The other game that I get really annoyed at, because I've never been able to make it run on a PC, is Beneath a Steel Sky. It's a fantastic game. A point and click game. Why they have to make point and click games 3D, like Escape from Monkey Island, I don't know. I had BASS on my CD32, which is a console, so the "you can't have mouse games on a console" argument is a bit... well, it doesn't stand up, does it? But it's never worked.

I so want it to work. It has futuristic walkways and killer plants and amusing robots... it's great! Sold Out have been selling BASS, in repackaged form, for some time. They had a strange "ways to make your game work" section on their website, which suggested things like turning off scroll lock. And the sound. But it still wouldn't work. It annoys me that so many of their repackaged classics are unlikely to work on modern PC's. At least, I can't make them work. Apart from Broken Sword 2. But that's not so old, so... But then we can't get Command and Conquer: Red Alert to work with our new Windows XP machines. And that's not really old, either! Drat...

The only games that seem to work consistently, even if they're really old now, are Lucasarts games. Like the surreal Grim Fandango. And the best games ever made (probably), The Secret of Monkey Island and LeChuck's Revenge. And although Sam and Max doesn't work straight away, some lovely fans have written a tutorial on how to make it work on a modern PC. God bless 'em!

Maybe I should buy a 386. Or get all the games I can't make work on my PC for my Amiga. I have two A1200's, somewhere. Buried under stuff. But is it possible to make any game work, if you have the know-how? Which I clearly don't. I was beginning to think that if I knew more about DOS and messing around with my computer's deepest darkest settings I'd be able to get stuff to work. But maybe not. Just before their review pages in August's Edge, they'd written this...

[Forgive me, this is turning into the longest blog ever, isn't it?]


Edge was excited about Neverwinter Nights. BioWare's epic seemed like it was going to be the 'D&D' roleplayer's dream: completely accurate, uncompromisingly anal, stunningly expansive and infinitely expandable. And that's exactly what it turned out to be, and Edge was uniformly overjoyed. Well, it would be, except most of the team haven't had the chance to experience it yet.

Edge's new PC, arriving shop-new this month won't run Neverwinter Nights. That's probably not the fault of the code, since the PC won't run other games that worked fine on the last office machine either. No cause. No explanation. This isn't a case of user incompetence, because it's not like there's a lack of experience on the part of the team when it comes to deconstructing amd repairing PC's. And even if there was, Edge still has its publisher's Computer Service department to fall back on. They're still puzzling, and a diagnosis is eagerly awaited. Edge predicts this: "We've worked it out. It's a PC."

Bitchy, perhaps, and at this point, 20 PC fanboys are putting hands to keyboard and e-mailing something vitrilolic, indignant. Shh. It doesn't matter if your PC has run without fail for the last two decades, or if you've only had to spend loose change on a machine fast enough to run every game ever, or if you can't understand why people have problems running PC games. They do, and you are one person. Not everyone has your knowledge and patience. Not everyone's prepared to accept a format where you have to keep your fingers crossed all through the install process.

It's unfair to blame developers, since they're working to snowflake system specs: no two are ever the same. It's difficult to blame anyone, really - it's just the way the home computer has evolved, into an exclusive club for the technically proficient. Edge hopes the evolution continues and takes the format somewhere more friendly, because there are genres that thrive on the PC, and brilliant games - Operation Flashpoint, Civ III, the glorious Neverwinter Nights - that everyone deserves a chance to play, regardless of luck, budget and arcane knowledge. The good news is that many are going multiformat, and it'll be interesting to see how many PC gamers get tempted out of the upgrade cycle.


So is that the answer? Buy a console and use my Amiga for the classics?

I suppose the graphics and sound were better.


Wednesday, August 7

Dude! I'm feeling less heinous on this fine evening.


The manager at work put up a special notice saying how we'd done, LOTR wise. We were the fifth best branch, which is rather remarkable, seeing as we even beat huge branches like Brent Cross! Woo!

So how many copies did we sell? It's rather interesting, actually. We sold 279 videos and 434 DVD's. So DVD's way outstripped videos. Does this mean that's the case with all films that are released these days? If I worked in the entertainment part of the store maybe I could analyse this. It could be that LOTR attracts more... geeky types. Who are more likely to have DVD players, because, let's face it, they're most excellent, dude. Most non heinous. Woo!

The other thing he'd stuck on the board was a note publicly commending me for selling £300 of computer books (although I didn't think it had been that much, but she paid downstairs, so maybe...) to a slightly odd lady. I'd shown her a few, brought her a chair (she had trouble standing, let alone walking, her legs were really swolllen), and listened to her talking for ages. That's the funny thing, really. I was commended for excellent customer service, but most of the time I was just trying to escape! When I went back to her, she said she couldn't decide so she'd take them all. So I took them (and her) down in the lift. In a state of shock.


Tuesday, August 6

Feel so exhausted. And my head hurts. I felt slightly better in that I obviously look ill, too. Or I did. Pale, apparently. And like I might need to sit down. Oh well, I'll probably live. :-p

Oh, I feel better because it's me really being ill, not just being a wimp. Or something.

Today was extra busy at work. Today was the day when the Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring came out on VHS and DVD...! Apparently we took over £10,000 in LOTR videos and DVD's. (Hmm, how many copies is that?!) People who'd preordered got a mug and a poster, and people just buying it got a poster and a £1 bounceback voucher (£1 off children's books when you spend £5). There was an offer on the Visual Companion, too. When you bought the film you got it for £2.99 instead of £14.99! Bargain. And although I didn't sell so many in the book department, it was still busy. Perhaps it's just because it's a new month and people have money. I don't know.

That must be about 670 copies of the film, £10,000. DVD's are £18.99 and videos are £12.99.

I'm estimating that figure, obviously. So it's probably flawed.

And I just wrote an e-mail to James Hickman. Maybe I'm just being overly optimistic because of that reply from Greg Bear, but hey. It's worth a try, right?


Monday, August 5

Hmm, why do I feel so rubbishy lately? In some ways I'll be glad to have some time off work. Although my holiday is the week after I leave work, so... Only three weeks left of work. Very strange, that. And then I get to do my Masters degree, although I still haven't had the course details through. *sigh*

There was a funny thing at work. While I was in the general office, I noticed the form that gets sent off to request name badges. There were pictures demonstrating the two sorts of badges that are available - just the name, or the "rank" as well. The second sort had these details on it:

Gordon Brittas
Store Manager

I found this hilariously funny, but I don't think I know anyone around here who'd share my mirth.

Obviously someone somewhere has a sense of humour.

Look, if you still don't get it, look here.

Aaaah, see? See?!?!


Saturday, August 3

I don't feel great. I had to work today. I don't usually work on Saturdays. They decided that the weekday people should take it in turns to work every Saturday, and it was my turn. It wasn't too bad, really. It's the only Saturday I'll have to work, as long as my MA goes ahead as planned..!

I've been watching a fair bit of the Commonwealth Games. The Commonwealth games is interesting for several reasons. First of all, we win more medals than we do at other sporting events. Because countries like the USA and Russia aren't there to dominate proceedings. Secondly, everything seems much friendlier. Thirdly, the home nations compete seperately, instead of being "Great Britain". So we get to hear Scotland, Wales and England's separate national anthems! We've heard Land of Hope and Glory a lot, and we've heard Scotland the Brave a fair few times, but not Wales's anthem. What is the national anthem of Wales? I mean, this doesn't happen very often. The international community tends to frowns upon the UK entering separate teams for things. People were complaining that we qualified several teams for the World Cup. But I'm digressing.

I've been watching the swimming. I don't know enough words of the Australian anthem, and by now I should know them all. Shouldn't I? Hmm. I could list all the things I like about watching the swimming. Lists are a good way to blog. Heh. First of all, Ian Thorpe's amazingness. Although he only got silver tonight. (Only silver, FCOL!) Secondly, my brother kept insisting that Geoff Huegill was called Geoff U-Boat. He really thought that was what they'd said. He wasn't making a swimming joke. Thirdly, James Hickman. The British swimmer who really looks like a happy puppy!

He has a big puppy-like tongue.
He has wide-open puppy eyes.

Ah, I give up. You'll have to take my word for it, he looks much more like a happy puppy than he does in those pictures. He has this incredible energy. It's verrrry strange. But he makes me laugh!

So that's why I watch sport. Heh.

Thursday, August 1

I've felt grim all day. Partly not feeling great health wise, partly not feeling great in myself generally. Am I making any sense?!? Aaargh...

The thing that tipped me over the edge was that on Tuesday I went to my friend's house to help her sort her computer out. We did all the easy things, like change Outlook around so that the frames were the right size, and there was a folder for read e-mails, and how to do attachments, and so on. And then we did Internet Explorer, sorted out how "favourites" worked, changed the font from "large" (so there were more than 3 words on the screen at once), set it up so it went to her chosen homepage instead of "update IE", bookmarked Google... And after doing all that (I said it was easy), I decided to do a few additional tweaks to make things better. (Big mistake.)

She has a smallish monitor that's set to 640x480. I thought it'd be good if it'd work with 800x600, because then internet pages would fit. And there'd be more screen room generally. So I opened up properties, fiddled around, and it worked. I changed it up to more colours, too. I figured if it didn't like it, it'd be easy to change back, after all. It restarted (hours later, ancient PC from when Windows '95 was new) and was back to 640x480. Odd, I thought. I went back into properties, and it wanted to know what sort of a monitor it was. Fine, I thought, and since I didn't know (and it said if I didn't know to click on "OK"), I clicked on OK.

That was probably a stupid thing to do. It decided it was a laptop monitor of some sort. A 640x480 laptop monitor. I wondered what a laptop monitor was, and felt sad that it thought 640x480 was its maximum potential in life, but hey. I could live with that. that was what it said it was, that was okay with me. The computer restarted again, and it seemed to be fine. 640x480, but fine. Hooray, we all thought!

But when she turned it on last night, it was veeerrry confused. It had a majorly garbled screen. Five of each icon, that sort of thing. She called me, and I wondered about those monitor settings, but it wouldn't let her go into the properties screen and do anything. And it's hard talking people through stuff over the phone. (I have a newfound respect for helpline staff!)

She called another one of her friends, someone who actually works with computers, and he had to put it into safe mode to fix it. It was the wrong monitor setting. So why did it think it was a monitor laptop? No-one's entirely sure. But all the faith she had in my computing abilities has completely dissipated. :-(

And my inability to use computers is even greater than that one story demonstrates. On Saturday, I took the laptop downstairs to play Caesar III. I was building away, and the computer froze. Crashing isn't something Brian does a lot (hooray!), so I was concerned. I tried turning him off, but he didn't want to turn off. Unplugging the mains lead didn't help, because laptops have batteries (gosh, what a good idea). After a while, he just turned off. Nervously, I turned him back on, but he didn't load Windows. The screen just alternated between black, and, erm, charcoal grey.

I was scared. I panicked. I have this peculiar love for my new laptop. I don't really know why I like him so much. He's my new toy, I suppose. (My expensive new toy!) So I phoned the Medion support line. The guy who answered was great. He really was. After we'd figured out that my laptop was the silver and blue one, as opposed to the silver one (we had a few tense battery removals due to that gaffe, I can tell you), things went well. Taking the battery out, plugging the mains lead in, and starting the laptop led to a miraculous recovery! The laptop probably got confused between the mains and the battery, he said. So that was okay. It wasn't me being stupid, it was an easily fixable laptop problem.

But you know what the funny thing is? I found out it was just because the battery had run out. I'd plugged it in downstairs, true, but someone had turned that particular plug socket (in the 4 plug extension cable) off. So it wasn't on at all. And I'd been running it on battery power.

Boy, I felt stupid... I still do, for that matter!

So all this means I'm almost too scared to use computers.

But I managed to install a new printer tonight, so maybe there's hope for me yet.


He has a bowler hat, go figure.


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