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Subject:Republican debate - Trump V Luthor
Time:10:20 pm
Keep an eye on the scrolling text at the bottom of the screen!

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Subject:eBay again
Time:08:02 pm
Just listed the Signa lens with a starting price of £1.99 + P&P, we'll see what happens. Also have a lot of Apple gear and a 135mm lens ending today, and lots more over the next week or so. Fingers crossed for profits!

http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/marcusrowland0/m.html
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Subject:Canon update
Time:11:48 am
Batteries arrived for the 35mm canon SLR body, which is I think a fairly late model. It works - but the 28mm f1.8 lens won't stop down on that either, it really is only suitable for early Eos models. I suspect I will not be making a profit on it, but never mind, I've done pretty well on other stuff lately.
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Subject:Spoon!
Time:11:05 pm
I bought a weird spoon in Portobello Road a couple of weeks back, and can't seem to identify it. It's made of stainless steel; an Ikea product, 20 cm long, and looks like this:

spoon

I'm guessing it's intended as an ice cream server, melon scooper, or something of the sort, but I can't find it anywhere on Ikea's web site and it's starting to bug me. Anyone recognise it?
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Subject:Yet another RPG bundle offer - Brave New World
Time:09:04 pm
This is a dystopic superhero setting (think a more cynical version of Age of Ultron or Civil War) that I recall as being pretty good - I have a couple of the books in dead tree format, it'll be nice to get the rest.

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/BraveNewWorld

"This is a comprehensive collection featuring Brave New World, Matt Forbeck's 1999 tabletop roleplaying game from Alderac Entertainment. After the American dream died in 1963 when terrorists assassinated Jacqueline Kennedy, and the Bicentennial Battle destroyed Chicago in 1976, the USA of Brave New World is a battleground where superheroes, or "deltas," fight a fascist government.

This Brave New World Bundle presents the entire BNW game line. Wage your own superpowered Civil War in the style of comics like Kingdom Come, Marshal Law, and American Flagg!

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, Human Rights Watch.

The total retail value of the titles in this offer at launch is US$120. Customers who pay just $11.95 get all four titles in our Starter Collection (retail value $57) as DRM-free .PDF ebooks:
  • Brave New World corebook (retail price $18): Matt Forbeck's complete 209-page rulebook that introduces this intriguing superhero setting.
  • Ravaged Planet (retail $15): The player's guide to the world of this alternate-history 1999.
  • Delta Prime and Defiants (retail $12 each): The sourcebooks for government deltas and the rebels who fight them.
Those who pay more than the threshold (average) price, which is set at $19.95 to start, also get our entire Bonus Collection with five more titles (retail value $63):
  • Bargainers and Covenant (retail $12 each): Character sourcebooks for two opposing forces: the deltas who broker deals with demonic forces, and the super-agents of the Catholic Church.
  • Crescent City (retail $12): From the ruins of Chicago rose this amazing high-tech city, home to more deltas than anywhere else.
  • Evil Unlimited (retail $12): If you want to use your super-powers to make a fortune, go to these guys.
  • Glory Days (retail $15): The World War II era sourcebook for Brave New World -- a time before it all went bad.
There will be at least one more surprise item added after this launches; as usual everyone gets it.

This is a fun game, especially if you like deconstructing superheroes, and I think it's pretty good value. But as usual I have to point out that I'm going to be getting the stuff I want free, which must skew my opinions; if you have to buy it your mileage may vary.
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Subject:Blue tits are back
Time:01:19 pm
Despite the crappy weather, and even though there's no longer a nearby tree, some young blue-tits have appeared at the feeder outside my kitchen window again. Haven't managed to get a photo yet.
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Subject:Transit of Mercury
Time:09:17 am
There's a transit of Mercury - Mercury crossing the face of the Sun - on Monday 9th, from 11.12 UT (GMT) - 12.02 British Summer Time - until 18.42 UT - 19.42 BST, mid-point at 14.57 UT, 15.42 BST. This is too small to see with the naked eye, if you use any form of magnification you should take all precautions as for an eclipse. The icon shows a transit of Venus, which was much easier to see from Earth. The final image was unfortunately taken with the camera slightly tilted.

Full details here:

http://www.nakedeyeplanets.com/mercury-transit-2016.htm
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Subject:This weekend's markets and boot fairs
Time:06:12 pm
A bit disappointing, to be honest. Nothing apart from fruit etc. and a sudden downpour at Portobello Road on Friday, a couple of video cables and another Apple mains lead on Saturday, and an unopened model car kit (add to the pile for nephews birthdays and xmas) and the Zombies game today. That one was nice - cost me £2 and it's complete and looks virtually unplayed - I just counted the contents and there are 6 player figures, 100 plastic zombies and all of the tiles, cards, counters etc. that ought to be there. For some reason I don't own a copy - I think I previously bought it just before some friends married and ended up giving it to them unopened as a wedding present - so it's a nice one to add to my collection.

What I did see today, but didn't buy, were about 20 camera lenses, all old zooms etc. fitting cameras that didn't make the transition to digital (e.g. Praktica bayonet, original Olympus OM) and in shitty condition. I was tempted to ask prices, but they're pretty much unsellable so I wouldn't have wanted them even if they were ludicrously cheap.
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Subject:Forgotten Futures Registrations Ending
Time:12:12 pm
Due to recent changes in European tax laws and other problems I have reluctantly decided not to take any Forgotten Futures registrations until further notice. It's likely that I will eventually go over to a different business model, which does not involve online registration. I'll contact everyone who has registered for the last release and make another announcement as soon as I've reached a final decision.

Meanwhile, PLEASE DO NOT REGISTER - I will remove the registration page from my web site as soon as I can.
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Subject:The other shoe drops (not too hard, but annoyingly)
Time:05:49 pm
The bargain lens that seemed too good to be true... turns out to be too good to be true. It's from the 35mm era, and Sigma got things wrong when they reverse-engineered Canon's designs. What this means, unfortunately, is that it ought to be fine on a 35mm body (Still waiting for batteries to confirm that) and will auto-focus on a digital body, but aperture control won't work on digital bodies unless Sigma did a modification which is no longer available. I didn't notice this when I tried it a couple of days ago, because I was concentrating on autofocus, but came across the info while looking for reviews and have just been to another CEX shop to check on one of their bodies. Unfortunately it's true.

I should still be able to sell it, and will probably make a little profit, but I can turn off the flashing £££££££ signs. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted...

Meanwhile the other G4 laptop has sold for £30, which is all profit, so things could be a lot worse.

later - and the iPaq outfit just sold for £22

later - except that I've just been asked to cancel the sale - the account holder says that the bid was placed by his eight year old daughter without permission. At 11.31 PM...
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Subject:Really not working for me...
Time:07:25 pm
Does George Galloway really think that if he repeats the word "respect" enough times people will respect him? His campaign bus passed me today, speakers blaring, and all I could really think is what a nuisance he is.
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Subject:Today's charity shop bargains...
Time:05:10 pm
...Were a free copy of OSX Tiger for Dummies - naturally I put a quid into their collecting box for it - and a camera lens.

A Sigma 28 f1.8 AF lens in Canon Eos fitting. For £14... This is not quite out there with the Zeiss lens I found in Portobello Road last year, but not far from it. They couldn't say if it worked or not, but were prepared to give me goods in exchange if it didn't, and they sell a lot of DVDs etc. so I knew I'd be OK. Then I went into the CEX shop next door and asked if I could try it on one of their bodies. And as far as I can tell it's in full working order!

I didn't want to make a nuisance of myself so I couldn't do what I wanted to do, which was bung in my own SD card and take a few pictures, so be on the safe side I'm going to get batteries for the 35mm Eos body I'm also selling and give it as thorough a test as I can without running film through it - this assumes that the body works, of course, but I think it's worth spending a couple of quid to find out. With the back off I ought to be able to make sure it stops down etc.

This shop is near the one that sold me two MagSafe chargers last week, in a street that is rapidly becoming my favourite visit for charity shops. And no, I'm not going to say where it was...
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Subject:Well, that was fast...
Time:06:06 pm
Last night I listed the two G4 laptops on eBay. This morning I woke up to two offers for the PowerBook, decided to wait until I'd got some boxes before replying. By the time I went out, got a couple of boxes (which I unfortunately had to buy, the dustman had been round all the local shops by the time I went out), and got home someone else had bid well over the price I'd set for automatic acceptance. Got it packed and sent by 3.30 or so. I thought I'd set the price realistically at £35, I was obviously too pessimistic, but never mind. Assuming I sell the iBook I'm going to make a reasonable profit, and without a huge amount of effort, which is always nice.

In other news the zip drive I thought might be unsellable was just bid up to £20. Slightly boggled...
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Subject:Well, that just lost your campaign a donation...
Time:01:53 pm
The campaign to keep Britain in Europe sent me a fund-raising email today. And I was prepared to make a donation, until I noticed that they wanted all of my personal details including address, email and phone number, and would not take a donation without all three. I can understand the address part, it's needed to make sure that it's a genuine private donation. Email I'm OK with, because they've already got it. But I am really NOT prepared to give them my phone number, because that leads to cold calls from politicians long after the referendum. So it's not going to happen, since I really don't want to give a false number and there appears to be no alternative.

So it goes...
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Subject:TTIP - government less than keen
Time:03:28 pm
The government has kept the official report on TTIP from 2013 very quiet until now, but a freedom of information request has made it accessible. It reached some interesting conclusions:

(1) There is little reason to think that an EU-US investment chapter will provide the UK with significant economic benefits. No two countries in the world exchange more investment than the UK and the US, and there is no evidence that US or UK investors view either country as suffering from the kinds of political risks against which investment treaties are supposed to protect. Moreover, existing evidence suggests that the presence of an EU-US investment chapter is highly unlikely to encourage investment above and beyond what would otherwise take place. US investors have generally not taken much notice of investment treaties in the past when deciding where, and how much, to invest abroad – even when dealing with far more questionable jurisdictions than the UK.

(2) There is little reason to think that an EU-US investment chapter will provide the UK with significant political benefits. The political relationship between Washington and Whitehall is exceptionally strong, and we are aware of no evidence that it is vulnerable to a meaningful risk of investor-state disputes that would become undesirably “politicized” in the absence of an investment treaty. Secondly, we find it unlikely that an EU-US agreement would make significant negotiating partners – like India and China – more or less willing to agree to an investment treaty with the EU. Finally, it is unclear whether the US is particularly keen on an investment protection chapter with the EU, which means the Commission may not be able to use such a chapter as an effective ‘bargaining chip’ in other trade and/or investment negotiations with Washington. However, these are all issues that BIS might wish to explore in further detail.

(3) There is some reason to expect an EU-US investment chapter will impose meaningful economic costs on the UK. Based on Canada’s experience under NAFTA, we would expect an EU-US investment chapter to be regularly invoked by US investors against the UK for governmental actions that would normally not be challengeable under UK law. While we would not expect the UK to lose many of these cases on the merits, the UK will necessarily incur costs to defend itself. Legal costs in investment treaty claims are substantial. The UK government may also find itself subject to pressure to settle some claims, even when there are reasonable prospects of successfully defending the claim on the merits. Finally, given the uncertain meaning of key elements of international investment law, it is possible that the UK would occasionally lose some arbitrations on the merits and be liable for significant damage awards.

(4) There is some reason to expect an EU-US investment chapter to impose meaningful political costs on the UK. Under investment treaties similar to a likely EU-US investment chapter, US investors have brought claims that raise potentially controversial questions. Should US investors bring similar claims against the UK, this will increase the chances that a particular dispute could provoke a backlash against the EU-US economic agreement as a whole or, perhaps more broadly, investor-state arbitration as a governing institution.

“In sum, an EU-US investment chapter is likely to provide the UK with few or no benefits. On the other hand, with more than a quarter of a trillion dollars in US FDI stock, the UK exposes itself to a significant measure of costs.”

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/260380/bis-13-1284-costs-and-benefits-of-an-eu-usa-investment-protection-treaty.pdf

The campaign against TTIP which made the freedom of information request is here:

https://speakout.38degrees.org.uk/campaigns/851
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Subject:The Weekend's bargains(?)
Time:10:04 pm
Sunday's car boot sales produced an iPaq H4150, boxed and with all accessories, books and software including a folding keyboard, charger, cradle, and 1gb card for a tenner. Should be sellable, but probably not a huge money-maker. I also spotted someone selling a couple of G4 laptops cheap on Gumtree on Sunday evening, and this evening bought an iBook G4 and a PowerBook G4 (both 12") plus a Mighty Mouse and a slightly dead Apple USB keyboard for £25. Both laptops are maxed out and working well, even the batteries are good. I've already updated the Powerbook to Leopard and the iBook is half way through now. Should be nice little earners.
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Subject:Two more RPG Bundle offers - Torg
Time:09:43 pm
Torg is a huge sprawling multi-dimensional monster of a game, which tries to combine lots of different genres via a story arc in which various dimensional gates open on Earth leading to different worlds with different natural laws etc., e.g. worlds with high tech, with magic, etc. This lets you use the same rules for a lot of different settings, and optionally use them all in a campaign. I've never been a huge fan of this idea, games such as GURPS offer similar multi-genre possibilities without imposing a fixed campaign background, but it's obviously possible to cherry-pick the bits you like and omit the rest. It isn't a system I've played, and given that it's now more than 20 years old I'm not entirely sure why I never ran or played it, but it seems to be reasonably playable. There are two bundles - Torg 1, containing "essential" stuff, and Torg 2, the optional twiddly bits.


Torg 1

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/Torg1-2016

"This offer (one of two running in parallel) launched Monday, April 25, and runs through 2PM Eastern US time (GMT -4) Thursday, May 5.

This is the first of two revived collections featuring Torg. Designed by Greg Gorden (Earthdawn, DC Heroes), Torg was originally published in 1990 by West End Games. In many ways it pushed the envelope for RPGs and enjoyed notable success. But when West End Games went under, Torg went dormant. German publishing company Ulisses Spiele now owns the rights and is preparing a new edition, Torg Infinity, due later this year.

In Torg's Earth, alien invaders called Possibility Raiders have taken over the planet and shaped their individual regions, or cosms, to match their native realities. So in Africa you'll find pulp adventure mixed with ancient Egyptian lore, but hop up to Europe to meet the high-tech Cyberpapacy, or over to Asia to explore megacorporate Nippon Tech.

Torg's player characters, called Storm Knights, are fighting to drive back the invaders and restore reality to its proper state. With their unique ability to maintain their own reality even within the cosms, they aim to overwhelm the High Lords and destroy the Darkness Devices that give them power.

It's a lot to digest. This first collection, revived from January 2015, is hand-picked to provide an accessible entry point -- if you're new to the game, start here. The Player's Collection has all the rules a player needs to create any kind of character; the Gamemaster's Collection focuses on three popular and well-supported cosms (the Nile Empire, Tharkold, and Nippon Tech), and it includes the single best-regarded supplement in the Torg line, Jim Bambra's The Cyberpapacy. The companion collection now in progress, the Torg 2 Bundle (revived from March 2015), includes all the remaining worldbooks and major supplements and 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, Doctors Without Borders.

The total retail value of the titles in this first offer is US$126. Customers who pay just $9.95 get all six titles in our Player's Collection (retail value $47) as DRM-free .PDF ebooks:
  • Torg: Revised & Expanded (retail $15): This updated corebook includes the "Drama Deck" of cinematic action.
  • Introductory Pack (retail $2): Simplified rules, a sample character, and a tutorial mini-adventure, plus the Storm Knights novel.
  • Storm Knight's Guide to the Possibility Wars (retail $9): New character generation rules, skills, equipment, and more for every Torg player.
  • Character Collection (retail $9): Sixty unique Torg characters to use as your own or set in the world as allies or adversaries.
  • Kanawa Personal Weapons (retail $7): Firearms, cyberweapons, lasers, explosives, and espionage armaments of many tech levels.
  • Pixaud's Practical Grimoire (retail $5): The definitive guide to magic and spell design in Torg.
Those who pay more than the threshold (average) price, which is set at $22.95 to start, also get our entire Gamemaster's Collection with eleven more titles (retail value $79):
  • High Lord's Guide to the Possibility Wars (retail $9): Invaluable advice for the Torg GM.
  • Delphi Council Worldbook (retail $9): The sourcebook of Core Earth, holding down the front against the encroaching cosms.
  • The Cyberpapacy (retail $9): In this cosm, cyberpunk collides with the French Inquisition. The single best-regarded Torg sourcebook.
  • The GodNet (retail $5): Rules for jacking into cyberspace and netrunning, 1990s style.
  • Nile Empire (retail $9): Dr. Mobius's cosm has turned Africa into a pulp playground, with pharaohs and hieroglyphs.
  • Nippon Tech (retail $9): The megacorporate cosm of enigmatic High Lord 3327 occupies most of Asia.
  • Tharkold (retail $9): High Lord Jezrael's army of techno-horror demons has made Los Angeles a living nightmare.
  • Creatures of Tharkold (retail $5): ...And here are the techno-horror demons doing the nightmare-ing.
  • The Berlin, Tokyo, and Los Angeles Citybooks (retail $5 each): Three urban battlegrounds for the cosms featured in this offer.
There don't seem to be any surprise extras in this offer, not surprising given how much it already contains.


Torg 2

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/Torg2-2016

"This offer, from March 2015, is the second of two revived collections featuring the genre-spanning RPG Torg. If you're new to Torg, first please visit the promo page for the Torg 1 Bundle now in progress.

The original offer omitted many cosms (locations), because there was no room! Like Walt Whitman, the Torg setting is large and contains multitudes. This sequel collection remedies that lack. these two bundles present the entire line of cosm sourcebooks and all the important supplements.

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 second offer is US$122. Customers who pay just $9.95 get all six titles in our Starter Collection -- all the remaining worldbooks (retail value $54) -- as DRM-free .PDF ebooks:
  • Aysle (retail $9): The magical cosm of high fantasy that has conquered the United Kingdom.
  • Orrorsh (retail $9): Horrific home of the mastermind behind the invasion of Earth, the terrible Gaunt Man.
  • The Land Below (retail $9): Travel the mysterious tunnel network running throughout the Earth.
  • The Living Land (retail $9): The realm of dinosaurs and spiritual magic that stretches across North America.
  • Space Gods (retail $9): The biotech-psionic reality of the late arrivals in the invasion, the Akashans.
  • Terra (retail $9): The cosm of pulp adventure, weird science, and the occasional Martian invasion.
Those who pay more than the threshold (average) price, which is set at $19.95 to start, also get our entire Bonus Collection with ten more titles (retail value $68):
  • The Cassandra Files (retail $7): The Delphi Council prepared this array of mysteries for Storm Knights to solve.
  • Clerics' Sourcebook (retail $9): The power of miracles and the people who command them.
  • Creatures of Aysle and Creatures of Orrorsh (retail $5 each): The bestiaries for mythic Aysle and the horrific cosm of the Gaunt Man, the mastermind behind the Possibility War invasion.
  • Kanawa Heavy Weapons and Kanawa Land Vehicles (retail $7 each): Two high-tech equipment guides from Nippon Tech, companions to Kanawa Personal Weapons in our Torg 1 offer.
  • Ravagons (retail $7): Meet the Gaunt Man's most awesome lieutenants.
  • The complete "Relics of Power" trilogy of adventures: The Destiny Map, The Possibility Chalice, and The Forever City (retail $7 each).
Again, there don't seem to be any surprise extras.


These look to be reasonable value if possibly a bit dated - it'll be interesting to see what the new incarnation is like. I'm probably not going to bother downloading anything, I've owned a few of these books in dead tree format since the nineties and barely opened them, but it may be interesting to anyone who wants to run a REALLY big campaign. I'm a bit dubious about value on this one - I probably wouldn't buy them, but YMMV.
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Subject:Stupid old lens question
Time:05:02 pm
The next old lens I'll be listing is a "Greens Federal 135mm f2.8" - but my memory is letting me down completely about Greens. I think I remember a 1970s UK photographic chain with shops that did their own brand stuff (actually Unitor etc. with their name on the lens) but I'm really not sure this is right. Was it part of another company? Or a manufacturer in their own right? Anyone remember? Or got old copies of Amateur Photographer to check?

Later - found this, which seems to confirm it was shops:

http://www.bob-farley.co.uk/catalogue/index.php?/tags/106-greens_cameras

Think they also did mail order.
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Subject:Today's boot sale bargains
Time:03:14 pm
A big camera bag (not very nice) containing:
- a working Cosina 35mm SLR with 135/2.8 lens (Greens, not a good brand, unfortunately) and x2 converter, all M42 screw so probably sellable. Later - shutter speed setting and flash synchronisation turn out to be faulty, body is worth a couple of quid for spares, but fortunately most of the value is the lens and converter anyway, and they're working well.
- a Canon Eos 3000 35mm body - no idea if it works, the batteries are dead
- an electronic flash that unfortunately has had a bad case of corrosion and is not worth salvaging
- an Olympus U850 SW digital camera minus its battery and memory card
- 9 rolls of exposed colour film and 5 unexposed rolls, dated 2004-5.
A PCI card, 2 x USB and 2 x Firewire 400 ports
A PCI card, 2 x serial ports
A UK power supply adapter plug for Apple chargers
A Euro lead for iMac G5 and early Intel models
An internal 3.5" floppy
A 100mb zip disk (disk, not drive) with 3.5" install disk for disk drive Windows 98
A kit containing 52mm skylight and starburst filters, a rubber hood, eyecup, cable release and cleaning supplies.

Together this lot cost me £22 including admission, which I think is reasonable - I should make a little profit.

I'm wondering if it's worth trying to find someone who likes "found images" and wants to develop the films, or if I should just bin them. It's Fotofast 200 ASA colour which is not a good brand. Any thoughts?

Later - Decided to ditch the exposed film but sell the unused film, cartridges and cans as a job lot for home reloading enthusiasts. There might be problems if someone develops the film and it turns out to be porn or something!
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Subject:Today's Girl Genius
Time:09:35 am
Has an important message for Britons in all dimensions:

http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php#.Vxnh6WM_Ro4

That's going on my kitchen cabinet door next to this one:

http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20071015#.Vxng62M_Ro4

and this one

http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20070618#.VxnhiGM_Ro4
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Subject:Today's charity shop bargains
Time:04:41 pm
A copy of the 6th Darwin Awards book in hardcover for £2, and two 85W MagSafe chargers and two mains cables (one unfortunately USA) for £11. Both chargers appear to be the real thing - they're too well made and too battered to be fakes, you abuse a fake like that and it breaks - and both seem to work - I say seem because my laptop is currently 100% charged, I get a green light straight away without the green-yellow-charge-green sequence. I'm just running the battery down a bit before trying them again. Hopefully a nice little earner in my next tranche of ebay listings. Also saw a stack of CED videodiscs - I don't know anyone who actually uses them, but I'll post it on a laserdisc/home cinema forum I use, someone might be interested.

And I walked a couple of miles, so yay exercise!
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Subject:Not my brightest day...
Time:12:11 am
I've got another 50mm lens on sale, and since this seems to be a regular thing I ordered a packet of ten cheap draw-string velvet bags for them a few days ago - they cost about 35p each and they're a good selling point. They arrived this morning and they really are quite nice.

The stupid part is that it took me until tonight to think of adding a "now with free lens pouch!" bit to the lens I'm already selling, and until five minutes ago to think of using a couple of them for my own lenses...
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Subject:Picspam - Crossrail, Crow, Fungi, Squirrels, Mandarins, a Chinese Barge and a Pretty Flower
Time:09:56 pm
I haven't made a picspam post in a while, so it's time for another selection.

First, some track being transported into the Crossrail tunnels, and a weird little engine which presumably has some special function

(later) I think that the bigger engine is a normal diesel that brings them to the tunnel, the white engine is an electric shunting engine of some sort to take them into the tunnel.

Crossrail stuffCollapse )

Next, a big crow that was watching me when I passed a construction site yesterday.

CrowCollapse )

A colony of weirdly coloured bracket fungi I noticed by the canal a couple of weeks ago:

The fungi from PaddingtonCollapse )

A very friendly squirrel that came begging for nuts in the park last week - the second picture is with an infra-red filter, anything that shows white reflects infra-red:

SquirrelCollapse )

A pair of Mandarin ducks I saw on the canal last week:

Mandarins - no sign of Iron Man!Collapse )

A Chinese restaurant on a barge - there's a coot's nest to the right. This is where I've seen a cormorant a couple of times, but not so far this year.

RestaurantCollapse )

And a rather pretty but very small flower I saw by the canal today, but can't so far identify. I don't know if it's native to Britain or something escaped from a garden. Anyone know?

FlowerCollapse )
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Subject:Another RPG bundle offer - Mongoose Traveller
Time:09:24 pm
Another bundle offer, this time for the classic Traveller setting and Mongoose's rules system, which is also used for several other settings including their Judge Dredd RPG:

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/MongooseTraveller

"The first Mongoose Publishing edition of Traveller was designed by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan in 2008. Inspired by Marc Miller's classic SFRPG rules set published in the 1970s by GDW, this Mongoose version of Traveller is widely acclaimed for its smooth playability. Mongoose adapted the rules for several published settings, including Judge Dredd, Hammer's Slammers, and 2300AD (presented in our June 2014 2300 AD Bundle). A second edition of the core rulebook is now in playtest. This large collection presents the first edition Mongoose Traveller rulebook and several expansions and supplements, along with the Mongoose version of Traveller's familiar Spinward Marches setting.

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$138. Customers who pay just $14.95 get all three titles in our Starter Collection (retail value $63) as DRM-free .PDF ebooks:
  • Traveller First Edition ($24): The complete 192-page SFRPG that underpins many Mongoose settings, including...
  • The Spinward Marches ($18): The famous sector at the frontier of the Third Imperium, setting for more Traveller adventures than any other.
  • Central Supply Catalogue ($21): The comprehensive 192-page equipment guide for adventurers with credits to burn.
Those who pay more than the threshold (average) price, which is set at $24.95 to start, also get our entire Bonus Collection with four more titles (retail value $75):
  • Book 1: Mercenary Second Edition ($15): The revised 2014 guide to the gritty life of the hired gun.
  • Book 2: High Guard ($15): Space navies, their people and ships, and expanded rules for ship construction and space combat.
  • Beltstrike ($15): A complete campaign set in a hazardous asteroid belt that fits anywhere in the Third Imperium or your own campaign.
  • 760 Patrons Second Edition ($30): The thoroughly revised 410-page collection of employers and mission-givers for adventurers across the Imperium.
There will be at least one surprise item added after the offer launches. As usual, the earlier you buy the cheaper the extended offer is. Everyone gets the surprise item(s), even if they paid before it/they were added.

While I already own way too many versions of Traveller, this one has some advantages which might appeal, such as easy integration of the Judge Dredd universe - there was never a space supplement for the Games Workshop Judge Dredd RPG, I wrote it but they pulled the plug on the game before it was published - and some material is greatly expanded over the original, such as 760 Patrons. I think it's reasonable value for money, but as usual I should point out that I get this stuff free if I want it - if you have to pay for it your mileage may vary.
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Subject:Boggled again
Time:08:11 pm
I've listed a zip 250 drive on eBay. With nine days to go fourteen people are watching it, but nobody has actually bid. My guess is they're all waiting to see if I can sell the bloody thing before listing their own...

Update 21/4/16 - now has one bid and 18 people watching. VERY strange...
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Subject:Get Giles on his bike
Time:08:02 pm
Giles Williams, the programmer who started development of Oolite, the freeware multi-platform Elite play-alike, is suffering from Myasthenia Gravis, a fairly nasty condition which affects his stamina (amongst other things), which is unfortunate because one of his other interests is cycling. He's launched an appeal to get money to buy an electric bike, which will help him to get out and about. So far he's raised £360 of £600 on gofundme, including some donations sent by people like me who prefer to use Paypal. Details of the appeal are here:

https://www.gofundme.com/prz8mjm4

I'd rather not post his email address here, but you can find it on the Oolite forums if you're interested in sending money directly:

http://aegidian.org/bb/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=18118
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Subject:Another LED lighting query
Time:11:10 am
I've now sorted the lights in most of my flat and replaced the CFLs with LEDs. At some point I will probably be dumping way too many CFLs onto Freecycle... but I digress.

The exception is my work room, which currently has a 4ft 36w fluorescent tube. I'd like to replace that, it's on for several hours most days, but it isn't as simple as the bulbs because the fluorescent fitting has a high-voltage starter, and CFLs don't need that. As I understand it there are two ways to do this - one is to rewire the fitting to bypass the ballast and starter, the other is to replace the fitting entirely and put up one designed for CFL from the outset. Fortunately the fitting can be taken down fairly easily - it hangs on chains a foot or so below the ceiling and can be unplugged - so either wouldn't be especially difficult.

Anyone done any of this, and have any information about the pros and cons? In particular, what's the service life of these things - will the cost of replacements outweigh the energy savings?
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Subject:Final Praktica camera results
Time:10:30 am
I forgot to say what happened about this - everything sold, and I ended up getting £40 for it!
£23.50 for the 50mm Tessar lens, to someone in Japan
£11.50 for the 200mm Soligor lens, to someone in the UK
£1.99 for the (broken) camera body, to someone in Greece
£3.99 for the camera bag, to someone in the UK
Not bad for something that cost me a fiver plus some time writing up the listings and packing - and everyone paid within minutes of buying which is not my usual experience, it's possibly my best evening on eBay from that point of view. Just hoping that there won't be any complications...

The steam engine sale also went well - sold for £92 and the buyer left very positive feedback.

My current batch of eBay stuff is a lot less exciting, just assorted Mac cables (Mini DVI adapters etc.) and chargers (for e.g. iBook and the early firewire iPod), a radio-controlled clock in crappy condition, an effects filter, etc. Details here if anyone actually needs any of this stuff.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/marcusrowland0/m.html
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Subject:Agents of SHIELD question
Time:09:04 pm
Is it just me, or [Spoiler (click to open)]does Grant Ward look and move a lot like Neo these days
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Subject:Another RPG bundle offer - Dungeon Crawlers
Time:10:03 pm
This is another of these offers that doesn't really appeal to my interests, but as usual tastes vary.

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/DungeonCrawlers

"This collection features the original D20 Dungeon Crawl Classics tabletop fantasy roleplaying modules from Goodman Games. Since 2003 the Dungeon Crawl Classics line has captured the Old School spirit in over 60 adventures published for Dungeons & Dragons 3.x and its successors under the Open Gaming License. In 2012 Goodman published a free-standing DCC RPG.

For this offer Goodman Games owner Joseph Goodman has gathered many of the best DCC modules from 2003-07, arranging them to ramp smoothly from 1st to 15th level. They all work great with D&D 3.5, Pathfinder, and their descendants. Written by popular designers like D&D leads Monte Cook and Mike Mearls, these DCC adventures are 100% good, solid dungeon crawls, with bloody combat, intriguing mazes, and no NPCs who aren't meant to be killed. The monsters you fear, the traps you dread, and the secret doors you know must be there somewhere -- they're all here, for a spectacular bargain price.

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, Reading is Fundamental.

The total retail value of the titles in this offer at launch is US$80.50. Customers who pay just $9.95 get all four titles in our Low-Level Crawls collection (levels 1-7, total retail value $43.50) as DRM-free .PDF ebooks:
  • DCC #2: The Lost Vault of Tsathazar Rho (level 1) (retail price $7): An introductory scenario by D&D5 lead designer Mike Mearls set in a temple infested with Lovecraftian creatures.
  • #29: The Adventure Begins (levels 1-2) (retail $20): A huge 268-page anthology of novice-level adventures. Each can kick off a whole campaign.
  • #36: Talons of the Horned King (levels 3-5) (retail $9): Fantasy meets future tech in a wrecked spaceship filled with cyborg monsters.
  • #7: The Secret of Smuggler's Cove (levels 5-7) (retail $7.50): One of the most admired DCC modules, a rescue mission into a haunted lighthouse that pays homage to the classic Saltmarsh series of AD&D adventures.
Those who pay more than the threshold (average) price, which is set at $15.95 to start, also get our entire High-Level Crawls collection with four more titles (levels 7-15, total retail value $37):
  • #50: Vault of the Iron Overlord (levels 7-9) (retail $9): A spinning-dial Vault of Rings and a three-part boss battle ornament this memorable adventure by Monte Cook.
  • #30: Vault of the Dragon Kings (levels 10-12) (retail $13): A seriously deadly Gen Con tournament module set in an immense complex built for titanic monarchs.
  • #12.5: Iron Crypt of the Heretics (levels 11-13) (retail $7): A supposedly impregnable crypt was designed by the world's greatest thieves, magicians, and seers to keep great evil imprisoned forever -- but (uh-oh) didn't. A DCC homage to Tomb of Horrors.
  • #15: Lost Tomb of the Sphinx Queen (levels 14-15) (retail $8): A puzzle adventure leading to a foredestined battle to defeat the last monarch of a long-dead empire of monsters.
There will be at least one surprise item added after the offer launches. As usual, the earlier you buy the cheaper the extended offer is. Everyone gets the surprise item(s), even if they paid before it/they were added.

This really isn't my sort of thing, but there are some good authors here and you seem to get a reasonable amount of material for the money. If your interests go that way it ought to be worth a look - but as usual I have to stress that I'm not going to be buying it, and could get it free if I wanted it, so I'm inclined to look at this material favourably even if I don't want it. I'll tell you if I think one of these offers is crap, but apart from that my estimate of its value and yours may vary.
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