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Subject:Another RPG bundle offer - The Laundry RPG
Time:09:13 pm
This is one I'm excited about - The Laundry is Charles Stross's series of novels in which the Stars are Right and British intelligence has to deal with a slowly mounting extinction level event. The RPG manages to capture the bleak setting (and the black humour of the writing) very nicely, and I've played several times now and enjoyed it immensely.

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/Laundry2016

This offer launched Tuesday, June 28, and runs through 2PM Eastern US time (GMT -5) Monday, July 11.

"In the satirical novels and stories of UK science fiction writer Charles Stross, "The Laundry" is a branch of the British secret service, tasked to prevent hideous alien gods from wiping out all life on Earth (and, more particularly, the United Kingdom) while maintaining ISO-9001 compliance. In The Atrocity Archives and many sequels, the harried occult agents of the Laundry fight Mythos horrors and their own bureaucratic procedures. They can save the world, but they have to get a receipt.

The stars are right for this revival, because Charles Stross has just published his new Laundry novel, The Nightmare Stacks (Amazon Kindle edition), and last year's The Annihilation Score is out in paperback (and you can still get its Kindle edition). The Laundry RPG is a great introduction to this ever-sprawling bureaucracy. The roleplaying game, by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan (Mongoose Traveller, The One Ring, PARANOIA) and others, adapts Chaosium's Basic Role-Playing engine (seen in Call of Cthulhu and many other games), adding new rules for "computational sorcery."

We provide each ebook complete in .PDF (Portable Document Format). Like all Bundle of Holding titles, these books have NO DRM (Digital Restrictions Management), and our customers are entitled to move them freely among all their ereaders.

Ten percent of each purchase (after gateway fees) goes to this offer's designated charity, the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The total retail value of the titles in this offer at launch is US$115. Customers who pay just US$8.95 get both titles in our Starter Collection (retail value $40) as DRM-free .PDF ebooks:
  • The Laundry corebook (retail $25): The 288-page guide to the top-secret, bottom-drawer occult branch of British espionage.
  • Agent's Handbook (retail $15): Required training for Laundry officers, and essential guidance for Laundry players.
Those who pay more than the threshold (average) price, which is set at $23.95 to start, also get our entire Bonus Collection with five more titles (retail value $75):
  • Black Bag Jobs (retail $15): Six self-contained missions ranging from the war-torn hillsides of Afghanistan to the corridors of power in Whitehall, from yoga lessons in Devon to the end of the world.
  • Cultists Under the Bed (retail $15): Eight of the nastiest, most tenacious foes of the Laundry, plus dozens of minor ones.
  • God Game Black (retail $15): Expands on the revelations of The Apocalypse Codex novel to send your games hurtling towards Armageddon.
  • License to Summon (retail $15): The dark side of Computational Demonology and arcane science in the Laundry, as well as the magic of other agencies -- and other entities. New spells, new gadgets, new ways to end the world!
  • The Mythos Dossiers (retail $15): Dozens of reports, handouts, eyewitness accounts and deranged speculations from the murkier reaches of the Laundry's archives.
There don't seem to be any surprise extras this time, I think the offer includes everything that's been published for the game.

If you like gaming modern horror and black comedy, weird spy stuff, and/or shooting squamous things with big guns, this is an essential buy. And it looks very good value, especially if you get in early. But as usual I have to point out that I'm not paying for this stuff, I get freebies, so your mileage may vary.
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Subject:Yesterday's eBay bargain...
Time:08:43 pm
...was another 17" iMac G4, which I somehow got for £15 - largely, I suspect, because it was collection only, and has the old black Apple Pro keyboard and mouse. Picked it up tonight and it's in VERY good condition, possibly the best I've ever seen as regards scuffs etc., and turns out to already have an Airport Extreme card - so I needn't have bought more this morning. They'll probably be useful if I keep on refurbishing these machines, so never mind. So far the only problem I've found is that the DVD drive doesn't appear to read DVDs - this is a common problem, I've had to replace drives in most of them. I already have memory, a much bigger hard drive, and the correct white keyboard (which by an odd coincidence I picked up at a car boot sale yesterday) and Magic Mouse so hopefully this will be a nice fast little earner - the only things I'll need to get are the plastic globe speakers and a replacement DVD drive. VERY pleased.
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Time:05:43 pm
In one of the 1960s Superboy comics (sorry, I'm not sure which issue) Superboy is challenged to perform several feats to demonstrate his powers. For the last of them he simply stands on his head for a while; when watchers complain he tells them to turn their photos of this feat upside down and check with astronomers, who tell them that Earth has been moved sufficiently out of its orbit to be detectable by instruments of the period.

Can anyone give me the date and issue number and title of the story?

It isn't this one, incidentally:



Anyone have any idea?
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Subject:Grrrr...
Time:11:41 am
Just bought a couple of Airport Extreme cards from a US vendor on eBay. Needless to say the final price worked out about 10% higher than it would have been this time last week.
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Time:05:59 pm
A new petition that could do with signatures: "Keep the promise of £350 million for our NHS," aimed at Farage, Boris, and Gove. Possibly worth signing if you're in the UK:

http://38d.gs/293LvX8

They will ask you to contribute funds, but you can close the page if you don't want to.
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Subject:Not much of a surprise.
Time:02:53 pm
Boris Johnson is being touted as the most likely replacement for Cameron. So forget any idea of maintaining anything resembling a green belt, coherent housing policy, etc...

The worst part of it is that he's probably the best replacement the Conservatives can currently offer.
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Subject:So what happens now?
Time:09:51 am
Re Brexit, that is.

My predictions
  • Cameron does resign (already confirmed he will according to this morning's news) leaving the Conservatives running the country but in a mess.
  • Renewed calls for Scottish and Welsh independence, union of N&S Ireland, etc. - already started. No doubt Cornwall will soon follow.
  • Calls for London to become a separate state and remain in the EU - not a snowball's chance in hell, but it's already being talked up.
  • UKIP realise they don't actually have a coherent strategy post winning, apart from most of their actual politicians wanting to dump Farage with extreme prejudice.
  • The pound declines in value but probably comes up again gradually, but never fully recovers.
  • A couple of years of negotiations then a slow withdrawal process over several more years before Britain actually leaves the EU.
Probably a lot I've missed here, but it's going to be an interesting and scary ride.
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Subject:Vote!
Time:07:16 pm
If you're (a) British and (b) an adult and (c) haven't already voted in the referendum then why are you wasting time reading this? Go vote!
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Subject:A3 printer
Time:10:43 am
If anyone needs an A3 inkjet printer, one of the charity shops along Kingsway in Hammersmith had one for £15 yesterday - it's an HP model but I didn't write down the model and can't now remember - not an officejet, really not sure otherwise.
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Subject:Person of Interest.
Time:08:19 am
If there is any justice the final episode of Person of Interest would win next years dramatic presentation Hugo, but of course it probably won't happen, it's possibly the best depiction of AI ever made and gets ignored because it's pigeon-holed as a crime show.
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Subject:Sold another iMac
Time:07:42 am
Forgot to say that I sold the 17" iMac G4 I had listed on eBay - sold on Monday night, got it packed and sent on Tuesday, the buyer was very happy and left me feedback on Wednesday. Why can't all ebay sales be like that?
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Subject:So much for email
Time:12:00 pm
I just sent an email to all of the Forgotten Futures users who weren't covered by my previous emails - those who weren't registered for the last release of Forgotten Futures so weren't contacted about getting a refund - to tell them about the changes and point out that they can get the last release of the FF CD-ROM free. In all it's about 300 people, give or take a few. So far 86 88 90 messages have bounced because the email account they registered with no longer exists!

The moral of this, I think, is that it's a VERY good idea to have an email address that isn't tied to your job / college / etc. for long-term purposes such as product registration...
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Subject:Another RPG bundle offer - Mongoose's Legend
Time:07:35 pm
This is yet another RPG bundle deal, this time a system based on Runequest II, but with a more generic background, and supporting Doctors Without Borders:

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/Legend

"This is an all-new collection of ebooks featuring Legend, the tabletop fantasy roleplaying game based on RuneQuest. In 2006 Mongoose Publishing released a licensed edition of RuneQuest, and followed it in 2010 with a new edition by longtime RQ stalwarts Lawrence Whitaker and Pete Nash. After its RQ license lapsed in 2011, Mongoose refashioned the system as Legend. This version still works with all of Mongoose's previous RuneQuest II books, such as Elric of Melnibone, Deus Vult, and Wraith Recon.

We provide each ebook complete in .PDF (Portable Document Format). Like all Bundle of Holding titles, these books have NO DRM (Digital Restrictions Management), and our customers are entitled to move them freely among all their ereaders.

Ten percent of each purchase (after gateway fees) goes to this offer's designated charity, Doctors Without Borders.

The total retail value of the titles in this offer at launch is US$109. Customers who pay just US$5.95 get all five titles in our Starter Collection (retail value $37) as as complete, DRM-free .PDF ebooks.
  • The Legend rulebook (retail price just $1!)
  • The essential equipment guide Arms of Legend (retail $12)
  • and three Arcania of Legend magic books: Blood Magic (retail $12), Elementalism (retail $12), and the free Spirit Magic chapter cut from the main rulebook.
Those who pay more than the threshold (average) price, which is set at $12.95 to start, also get our entire Bonus Collection with six more titles (retail value $72):
  • The two bestiaries Monsters of Legend I and II (retail $12 each)
  • Four historical campaign supplements: Gladiators, Pirates, Samurai, and Vikings of Legend (retail $12 each).
Another title will be added after launch. When a title is added after launch, ALL customers who previously purchased the bundle automatically receive the newly added title, REGARDLESS of whether or not they paid higher than average. This is their reward for buying early.

I'll be honest, this is one that doesn't interest me much - to me a very big part of Runequest was its setting, without it this is just another set of fantasy rules and I already have too many - not least Runequest - in dead tree format, and rarely play them. It looks like it's good value for money, but since I'm not paying for it I don't know that I would be attracted if I had to buy it. As usual YMMV.
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Subject:Typeset in the Future
Time:10:53 pm
Paging feorag and other font fans - an interesting blog about fonts in SF films

https://typesetinthefuture.com/
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Subject:Forgotten Futures Site Update - Phase 1
Time:06:30 pm
The first part of the site update is now complete - I've put the Forgotten Futures CD-ROM on line as a free zip file (follow the link to it from the front page), and added "tip jar" buttons at several points for those who want to support the site and Cancer Research UK. Please be patient if downloading the file takes a while, especially at first, and please try to get it from Megaupload or Dropbox before getting it from the site directly. If I can figure out how to set up a torrent I'll do so.

Phase 2 will be putting all of the CD-ROM contents on line so that they can be read without downloading the entire CD. After that I hope to add more content, and possibly get back to game design.

All of this will take quite a while - please be patient, I hope you'll enjoy the eventual result.
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Subject:If only...
Time:05:20 pm
Saw this advertised on Freecycle today:

Dell desk top computer with muse and keyboard

I could really do with a muse right now, but somehow I doubt that's what was meant...
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Subject:More car boot crap
Time:12:50 am
Got a 500GB PATA drive for £4! Works, I'm just using my Mac to secure erase it since there were files there. Idiots...

Also got a 35mm SLR and three lenses and some filters etc. for £15, unfortunately the lens fitting is Fujitsu's pre-digital bayonet which reduces the market considerably - you can use them on micro 4/3rds cameras with the right adapter, but that's about it. I'll probably make a small profit, but it may end up being more work than it's worth.

And another Mac Mini-VGA to VGA cable for 50p - I really don't know why these keep turning up, you'd think there wouldn't be so many spares knocking around.

Spent the evening listing everything (apart from the drive, that's for the next Mac I upgrade) on eBay, we'll see what happens.
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Subject:Today's market bargains...
Time:10:02 pm
Yet another Zenith E camera with 58mm f2 lens; this time the body is in crap condition (there's a dead insect trapped behind the screen among other problems) but the lens and case are in good nick and I got it for £8, so should make a decent profit.

A Belkin Nostromo n52 gaming pad thingy - weird gizmo with 15 keys, a scroll wheel, and a mini joypad. I think it's designed for left hand use, with the mouse operated by the right hand, but while it seems to work correctly I can't think of any reason I'd want to use it, so another one to go to eBay. Got it for £2.50 anyway.

Fingers crossed for nice weather tomorrow, there's a good car boot sale in Kilburn.
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Subject:RIP Jo Cox
Time:11:17 am
Well, if there was ever much doubt that the Brexit campaign is backed by racism and fascism it just evaporated.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/16/labour-mp-jo-cox-shot-in-leeds-witnesses-report/
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Subject:More fun with lightbulbs
Time:11:00 pm
Some fairly crude editing of a picture of three light bulbs gave me this - I was trying for a Galaxy magazine or similar look: The Dauntless and other Galactic Patrol ships in convoy.

dauntless_01
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Subject:An interesting consequence of the availability of cheap LED light bulbs...
Time:11:30 am
...is that anyone wanting to game the Lensman stories or any other SF with spherical-ish or ovoid hulls (I'm looking at you, Farmer in the Sky and Time for the Stars) now has a great source of cheap plastic starship hulls - unlike glass ones they're safe to handle, should take glue and paint easily, and already have quite a lot of interesting ridges etc. You just need to modify the bases to look a bit more like engines and less like a screw or bayonet, add a few antennae and twiddly bits, and paint.



Light bulb



Starship

Could they be related?
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Subject:More Ebay Tat
Time:09:28 pm
As part of the Forgotten Futures changeover I've reluctantly decided I no longer need my old stack loading CD copier (yes, CD only) so I've listed it on eBay with a couple of hundred disks. It served me well for about twelve years but the chances I'll need it again are next to zero, and I've got a basic CD/DVD copier if I do need to churn out lots of disks - not stack loading, but it works. That and the iMac G4 and other tat are here

http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/marcusrowland0/m.html

I really hope I get buyers who want to collect - packing the copier safely really would not be my idea of fun, and I already know how long it takes to pack an iMac G4...
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Subject:Another RPG bundle offer - Icons
Time:10:13 pm
This is another bundle offer, this time for Icons, a superhero game which I don't know much about. By a tragic coincidence the charity this offer supports is The Trevor Project, providing crisis support for LGBT people ages 13-24; in view of this weekend's events they need all of the support they can get.

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/Icons

"ICONS, by Steve Kenson, designer of Green Ronin Publishing's Mutants & Masterminds, adapts the spirit of fast-playing classics like Marvel Super Heroes and Villains and Vigilantes to a modern narrative design loosely based on Stefan O'Sullivan's Fudge.

Compared to a lot of superhero RPGs, ICONS is fairly short and simple. You won't find exhaustive details or situational rules, and there's no built-in setting beyond "the world of comic book superheroes." The game targets the atmosphere of Silver Age comics and modern animated adventures like Batman Beyond. Mix-and-match heroes and villains from ICONS books, other games, your favorite comics, and your own imagination. The ICONS system provides a balancing mechanism so any group of heroes can work on relatively even footing.

This is a comprehensive collection with the full-color ICONS Assembled rulebook, the major supplements, five Hero Packs of pregenerated characters, and nearly a dozen adventures. We provide each ebook complete in .PDF (Portable Document Format). Like all Bundle of Holding titles, these books have NO DRM (Digital Restrictions Management), and our customers are entitled to move them freely among all their ereaders.

Ten percent of each purchase (after gateway fees) goes to this offer's designated charity, The Trevor Project.

The total retail value of the titles in this offer at launch is US$128. Customers who pay just US$14.95 get all eight titles in our Player's Collection (retail value $67) as DRM-free .PDF ebooks:
  • ICONS: The Assembled Edtion (retail price $15): The complete, comprehensive 232-page full-color rulebook. Includes the Game Master's Screen (retail $1) with helpful reference charts.
  • Great Power (retail $10): The super-powers sourcebook with new power options, dazzling devices, and ways to reskin existing powers.
  • Five Hero Packs (total retail $41): A total of 260 fully statted, ready-to-play characters.
Those who pay more than the threshold (average) price, which is set at $24.95 to start, also get our entire Game Master's Collection with nine more titles (retail value $61):
  • ICONS A to Z (retail $10): Steve Kenson's 26 essays on all things superheroic -- from Aliens, Battles, and Cosmic through X-Factors, Youth, and Zombies -- published biweekly in 2015 and newly collected.
  • The Villainomicon (retail $10): A rogues' gallery of antagonists from Auntie Social and Beastman to Yama King and Zergo.
  • Rise of the Phalanx (total retail $26): These four linked adventures by Dan Houser (Flight of the Nova-1, Cold War Conundrum, The Nemesis Crisis, and The Metaskulk Invasion) kick off a new campaign or make great "special crossover events."
  • Three four-color adventures (total retail $15): Scenarios in the Silver Age style by Steve Kenson: the introductory adventure The Sidereal Schemes of Dr. Zodiac, military battlesuit mayhem in The Skeletron Key, and the time-bending The RetConQuest.
There's going to be at least one item added at some point after launch; as usual ALL customers who previously purchased the bundle automatically receive the newly added title, REGARDLESS of whether or not they paid higher than average. This is their reward for buying early.

This looks like it might be a lot of fun, and it's supporting a charity that looks like it needs all of the help it can get right now. I think it's well worth buying, but since I get freebies I may be biased, so YMMV. I'll be supporting The Trevor Project with a donation anyway.
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Subject:Fox and Flypast
Time:10:06 pm
I was getting ready for some visitors when the RAF flypast happened yesterday, so I took a few pictures from my back window and that was it. As it happened the usual old planes took a different route and didn't fly in view of my house, so the pictures I got were of fairly distant planes and only a small part of the display and not very clear. While I was waiting for them I noticed a fox resting on a shed roof in a neighbour's garden and got a few photos - not as clear as I would like, possibly because I was using a zoom at 300mm and a 2x converter, I think I would have got better results with the lens alone if I'd cropped the pictures to the same size.

These are hosted on Photobucket so a bit small, but I don't think you're missing much.

FoxCollapse )

FlypastCollapse )
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Subject:Almost Fully armed and operational...
Time:06:19 pm
Pretty sure I've asked this before, but I can't find it on a search. I've got the 17" iMac G4 I bought recently upgraded to 2 GB RAM, 200GB hard drive, Airport Extreme. DVD RW DL, and OSX Leopard. What I can't seem to figure out is how I get Quicktime upgraded to a version that actually works, since the version installed with Leopard doesn't work and update doesn't seem to work for it. I have an idea there's somewhere you can manually download a working version but my mind has gone blank on it. I wouldn't bother, but I gather you need it for iTunes and whoever buys this may want to use that. Anyone know?

Meanwhile VLC is working fine and stereo is pretty good. Next I'll be installing some stuff to make it more sellable, most notably Office 98 and Bejeweled 2 (which seems to turn up in charity shops often enough that I can usually throw in a copy with Macs when I sell them) and the usual freebies such as 10-4 Fox, Celestia, Libre Office, etc.
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Subject:More idiocy
Time:03:31 pm
Take a look at this listing

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/131831791626

Is it clear that I am selling keys?

It says that I have made eleven sales, so you may wonder why I'm only showing six keys sold.

The answer is simple:
  • One buyer who wanted five keys
  • One buyer who wanted a single key
  • One buyer who wanted the screws that hold the keyboard together
  • Seven people who thought I was selling a Mac keyboard for a pound, and I've had to give refund
  • And one where I've received payment but have no idea which keys are wanted - I suspect it will end with another cancellation.
And this is why my ability to suffer fools gladly is probably at an all-time low...
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Subject:Please don't do this...
Time:11:38 am
According to Private Eye it now costs £1600 in performance rights fees to provide piped music to a 10,000 foot area, e.g. a department store. Marks and Sparks just dropped muzak, presumably for this reason.

It occurs to me that there's probably a lucrative market for anyone who is prepared to write a computer program that will generate random music that isn't subject to performance rights payments for this purpose and for e.g. call waiting. All evidence suggests that quality is VERY low on the agenda of the people who use this stuff, so it doesn't need to be GOOD music.

Is this an unfilled market niche, or are there possible snags - such as Performancee Rights Payments still being charged and going to the programmer?
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Subject:Describing John Constantine
Time:10:37 am
Does this sound like a fair summation?

Let's just say that just being in the same area as him is like living on a Hellmouth next door to Jessica Fletcher....
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Subject:Setting up a spreadsheet
Time:10:19 am
This is probably simple but I'm drawing a blank on how to do it.

When I get the revised web site up I want to pass on some of the takings from the tip jar (if any) to Cancer Research UK. My current plan is 10% until I've covered the annual cost of the site, then 25%. To avoid micropayments the way this will work is I'll wait until £50-100 accumulates, then pay it to the charity, plus interest, as I did when it was shareware.

What I want to do is create an Excel spreadsheet where I enter the takings and it puts 10% into the charity column until I pass the annual site costs - currently about £85 including domain registration fees - then puts in 25% of each subsequent transaction. At the end of a year I want to reset the counter for costs and pass on 10% of subsequent transactions until my takings are over the site costs again. And so forth.

Is this possible, or would it be easier to change the ratio manually? This will of course be academic if I make less than the site costs, but I might as well think positively...
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Subject:Because people are idiots...
Time:09:24 pm
The deadline for getting on the electoral register if you want to vote in the EU referendum has been extended to midnight tomorrow. No doubt hundreds of people will still be trying at one second to midnight, since there are a lot of idiots around, but if you actually want to vote and haven't already registered I'd suggest trying ASAP.

https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
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