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Subject:End of the washing machine saga
Time:10:59 am
I forgot to post what happened re the washing machine.

First, it was finally fixed (and appears to be working properly) on Tuesday. The repair guy arrived more than an hour after the estimated time, but he did it well. Interestingly, he says that the first guy bungled the repair, which is why it went wrong again - he taped a wire rather than replacing the motor.

Second, I just got a reply to my message of complaint - they've apologised and are going to be sending me an appliance care kit (presumably de-scaler etc.) and a cheque for £20. Not much considering the inconvenience of six bloody appointments, but better than a kick in the teeth.

But I'm still going to be complaining to the insurance people come contract renewal time...
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Subject:Docking is Difficult - charity auction
Time:09:08 pm
At this year's Eastercon SF convention I got a copy of Docking is Difficult by Gideon Defoe, an Elite: Dangerous novel that feels more like it's set in the Oolite universe. I've read it and it's fun but I don't particularly want to keep it, so I'm selling it on in aid of Cancer Research UK - here:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/131824886107

Ending at about 9 PM on Thursday next week.
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Subject:Another RPG bundle offer - Blue Planet
Time:07:39 pm
Blue Planet is a near-future RPG I first encountered and reviewed circa 1998; this offer includes two versions of the game with different rules sets and quite a lot of extra material. It's an interesting nearish-future SF setting - basically, a wormhole has been found making travel to another solar system relatively simple; the system has a habitable planet with a higher water to land ratio than Earth and lots of mysterious life forms etc. I recall it as being a nice detailed setting but a moderately clunky system that seemed to emphasise combat rather too much. This bundle offer includes the original system and a revised system running under different rules, which I've heard good things about:

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/BluePlanet

"Blue Planet is the 1997 science-fiction tabletop roleplaying game from Biohazard Games about colonizing the ocean world of Poseidon, year 2199. With its accurate depictions of an alien planet's geography, climate, and ecosystem, Blue Planet sets the standard for "hard" (scientifically accurate) sf roleplaying. This offer presents both editions of the Blue Planet rules (Biohazard, 1997, and Fantasy Flight Games, 2000) and all the major supplements.

AD 2078: Investigating an anomaly at the edge of the Solar System, the Prometheus II probe discovers a traversable 'wormhole' (space warp) that leads to the Lambda Serpentis system, 35 light-years from Earth. Ten years later, the United Nations establishes a small frontier colony of genetically engineered humans and 'genlifted' cetaceans on the system's habitable ocean world, Poseidon. Earth's civilization promptly collapses for over a century, but the abandoned colony thrives. Now it's 2199, and Earth's resurgent government(s) and Incorporate States have returned to Poseidon in a gold rush for the life-prolonging xenosilicate Long John. There's a world to explore, an amazing ecology to study or plunder, criminals to catch -- and the original pioneers are rebelling. Meanwhile, deep in Poseidon's endless ocean, mysterious "aborigines" pursue unknowable goals of their own.

Blue Planet brings you on a compelling journey into humanity's dark future on a distant planet where life is hard and dying is easy -- a world where GEO Marshals enforce the peace and wired mercs patrol deep waters in deadly fighter subs -- a place where corporate greed and human desperation ravage an alien ecology, threatening to plunge humanity into a war of survival with an ancient legacy.

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, Ocean Conservancy.

The total retail value of the titles in this offer at launch is US$102.50. Customers who pay just US$11.95 get all four titles in our Player's Collection (retail value $52.50) as DRM-free .PDF ebooks:
  • Blue Planet First Edition rulebook (retail price $14): The complete 353-page 1997 rulebook from Biohazard Games.
  • Blue Planet v2 Player's Guide (retail retail $14): The new rules introduced in the Second Edition (Fantasy Flight Games, 2000). Play a dolphin or orca!
  • Fluid Mechanics (retail $12): An equipment book showcasing the impressive yet plausible high technology of 2199.
  • Ancient Echoes (retail $12.50): The cetacean sourcebook. Play a beluga whale! With a rocket launcher!
Those who pay more than the threshold (average) price, which is set at $21.95 to start, also get our entire Moderator's Collection with five more titles (retail value $50):
  • Blue Planet v2 Moderator's Guide (retail $14): The gamemastering rules, sourcebook, and campaign advice for the Second Edition.
  • First Colony (retail $12): A location sourcebook for Poseidon's largest settlement, Haven.
  • Frontier Justice (retail $12): Crime and law enforcement on Poseidon, and how to run campaigns with either crooks or GEO Marshals.
  • Natural Selection (retail $12): The marvelous (and plausible) ecology of the alien oceans, and many newly discovered residents.
  • Archipelago (retail $9.50): The first supplement for First Edition, this guide to the Pacifica Archipelago opens new frontiers on Poseidon.
There will be at least one additional item added after launch, but I can't say when. 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."

My impression, from a VERY quick look, is that this game still has a slight over-emphasis on combat, but is still a very interesting setting. It looks to be good value for money, but as usual I have to point out that I'm not paying for it, your mileage may vary.
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Subject:Keep the BBC's recipe archive on line
Time:03:14 pm
The BBC has been talking about taking down its huge archive of recipes from cooking programs etc, there's a petition I've joined that might interest others:

https://www.change.org/p/bbc-save-the-bbc-s-recipe-archive
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Subject:Is it just me...
Time:02:26 pm
...that thinks that the press WANT the EgyptAir crash to be terrorism, and are sidelining all other explanations (such as a collision) despite the fact that there will probably be actual evidence recovered before long.
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Subject:DIY project
Time:09:59 pm
I seem to come across old manual lenses quite often in street markets, boot fairs, etc., such as the 28mm lenses I didn't buy a couple of weeks back because the focusing mechanism was stuffed. I'm wondering how difficult it wold be to adapt one as a tilting lens along the lines of Lensbaby etc. The basic idea seems to be that you put the inner lens mechanism inside a flexible tube with something to adjust focus and angle - the original lensbaby prototype used a bit of vacuum cleaner tube and I think a few springs and bolts to adjust angle and focus. You'd also need some way of working the aperture control and keeping external light out. Thinking about it, this is the sort of thing 3D printing would probably make quite well, since the lens tube and lenses and the bayonet mount are the only really precisely made bits. I don't have a 3D printer but to quote Top Gear, "How hard could it be?"

I think I'm going to try this the next time I pick up a suitable lens that isn't good for anything else. In the unlikely event it actually works I'll post updates.
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Subject:Anyone still use usenet RPG groups?
Time:07:48 pm
I'm not currently a usenet person - my ISP doesn't offer a usenet service and I don't really want to pay for it since I was ignoring 99% of posts when I used it.

But I think I should make some sort of effort to announce the changes in Forgotten Futures there, since I still haven't heard back from 30 or so registered users. Is there anyone here who still reads the RPG newsgroups and could post a pointer to the post that announced the changes? The important announcement was this one: http://ffutures-news.insanejournal.com/2016/05/09/

Alternatively, is there any simple way to make a few usenet posts without having to pay a subscription?

Thanks!

update - Just posted to uk.games.roleplay and rec.games.frp.misc via Google Groups. Can anyone confirm the messages are actually showing in these groups?
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Subject:Washing machine - the saga continues!
Time:09:12 am
Just sent an email to Hotpoint Indesit, who do Hotpoint's servicing.

At the end of April I contacted you to request repairs to my Hotpoint
Washer-Dryer WD440 under my service contract with Domestic and
General.

So far the sequence of events has been:

Wednesday 4th May. Wait in all day. Nobody turns up - it eventually
turns out that your engineer tried to contact someone at the other
flat in this house but got no reply because that person was at work
with phone switched off. After nearly an hour of calls I got through
to someone who arranged for an engineer to call the following Monday,
9th May.

Monday 9th May. Engineer turns up, eventually says he's fixed a dodgy
connection. Machine seems OK. Three hours later it turns out that it
isn't OK, it's stopped working at the start of the spin cycle, full of
wet clothes. Another half hour of calls gets me another appointment
for 11th May.

Wednesday 11th May. Engineer turns up, eventually says it needs a new
motor and controller board. Needless to say he doesn't have them in
the van. They'll call me to set up another appointment, probably next
week.

Late Wednesday night - email saying they will come out on Monday 16th

Monday 16th - Phone call at 8 AM, the engineer is ill and they need to
reschedule. The earliest day available is Thursday. Get email which
does NOT give the appointment date. Use live chat to confirm that it
is the 19th.

Wednesday 18th - receive email and text rescheduling the visit to the
24th without explanation - unfortunately I was travelling most of the
day and received them too late to contact you and request
clarification.

Thursday 19th (Today) - used live chat to contact you - I'm told that
the engineer is still ill, so it's rescheduled for the 24th.

In the unlikely event that you actually fix it on the 24th it will be
nearly a month since I've had a working washing machine, and six times
I've had to change my plans to fit in with the days your engineers can
visit.

I do not consider this to be satisfactory service.

I await your comments.
Not sure how I escalate it beyond this, but I think Domestic and General will definitely be hearing from me about the service I've been getting. Might also be worth contacting Hotpoint, though I suspect they are well aware of the crapness of their service.
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Subject:Two more RPG Bundle offers - Malhavoc Press
Time:08:40 pm
I don't really know much about this game - it's a fantasy system by Monte Cook using the Open Game License. One of the offers is a repeat of an offer from a couple of years ago, with the basic material for the setting; the other is all new material.



Ptolus & Malhavoc Bundle

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/Ptolus2016

"This Ptolus & Malhavoc offer is one of two collections. running in parallel, that present Numenera designer Monte Cook's fantasy roleplaying rulebooks from Malhavoc Press. This page presents the revived September 2014 Ptolus & Malhavoc offer featuring Monte's lavish 2006 sourcebook Ptolus: City by the Spire. The all-new companion Malhavoc Arcana collection features Monte's Arcana Evolved line and many other Malhavoc supplements.

The size and the breadth of imagination of Ptolus are matched only by the grandeur of its production. Published by Malhavoc Press in 2007 under White Wolf's "Sword & Sorcery" imprint, Ptolus: City by the Spire is the most lavish book in fantasy roleplaying history. The original September 2014 offer was a great success; for this revival, we're also presenting an all-new companion Malhavoc Arcana offer with more D20 supplements from Monte's Malhavoc line.

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 ebooks included at launch is US$102. For just $19.95 the customer gets DRM-free .PDF ebooks of the complete Ptolus: City by the Spire -- the 808-page city sourcebook itself plus the full range of digital extras (The Banewarrens, Chaositech, The Night of Dissolution, two Campaign Journals, and more) -- a retail value of US$60.

Customers who pay more than the threshold price (starting at $24.95) level up and also get our entire Bonus Collection of seven additional Malhavoc Press OGL rulebooks by Monte Cook (retail $52).
  • Books of Experimental Might I (retail $9) and II ($7), Complete Book of Eldritch Might (retail $13), and Books of Hallowed Might I (retail $6) and II ($7): These supplements present some of the house rules from Monte's own campaign -- creative options for any D&D 3.x, Pathfinder, or other OGL fantasy game.
  • Dark Tidings (retail $4): A short dungeon crawl set in Ptolus that shows off the Experimental Might rules.
  • Secrets of the Delver's Guild (retail $6): A collection of the preview columns Monte wrote in the leadup to the Ptolus release.
There are no surprise extras this time because it's a repeat of an earlier offer.


Malhavoc Arcana

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/ArcanaEvolved

"This all-new collection features Monte's Arcana Evolved, his 2005 "variant player's handbook" for Dungeons & Dragons 3.5, along with the rest of the AE line and many other Malhavoc supplements. The companion Ptolus & Malhavoc offer, revived from September 2014, presents Monte's lavish 2006 sourcebook Ptolus: City by the Spire.

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$96. Customers who pay just $7.95 get all five titles in our Starter Collection (retail value $42) as DRM-free .PDF ebooks:
  • Beyond Countless Doorways (retail price $13): The veteran designers of TSR's Planescape campaign setting reunited to write this 226-page collection of new dimensional planes.
  • Hyperconscious: Explorations in Psionics (retail $11): An adventure and rulebook for psionic characters by Bruce R. Cordell, designer of the Expanded Psionics Handbook for D&D.
  • The Book of Iron Might (retail $7): New combat rules -- maneuvers, feats, skills, stunts, and more -- by D&D Fifth Edition lead designer Mike Mearls.
  • Demon God's Fane (retail $6): This challenging high-level dungeon adventure by Monte Cook is a companion to The Book of Eldritch Might (included in our newly revived Ptolus & Malhavoc offer).
  • The Temple of Mysteries: In Media Res (retail $5): A challenging one-shot dungeon crawl for thinking players.
Those who pay more than the threshold (average) price, which is set at $19.95 to start, also get our entire Bonus Collection with four more titles (retail value $54):
  • Arcana Evolved (retail $20): Monte Cook's complete 434-page rulebook that can replace or augment your D&D/Pathfinder/D20 System games. Includes a ready-made campaign setting, the Lands of the Diamond Throne.
  • Transcendence (retail $9): The Arcana Evolved player's companion, with new classes, character options, and magic systems.
  • Spell Treasury (retail $14): Triple the size of your magic-using characters' spellbooks with this 240-page compendium.
  • Legacy of the Dragons (retail $11): A 160-page bestiary for the Lands of the Diamond Throne or any D20 System setting.
There will be at least one surprise item added after launch - anyone who pays for the offer will get them, see their site for full detals.


These are BIG offers, in terms of page count if nothing else. They don't actually appeal to me particularly because I pretty much burned out on fantasy campaigns in the eighties, but if you like that sort of thing these offers are a vast quantity of source material. I think they're pretty good value for money, but (a) I'd get them free if I wanted them and (b) I don't, so I may be wearing rose-coloured glasses. As usual YMMV
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Subject:Washer dryer update.
Time:11:13 am
Consider me not impressed...

So far the sequence has been:
  • Thursday 28th April. Call in problem - earliest engineer available is Wednesday 4th May. Agree, rather grumpily.
  • Wednesday 4th May. Wait in all day. Nobody turns up - it eventually turns out that the engineer was told to go to the flat below (they also have a contract and their surname begins earlier in the alphabet, so I can see this sort of idiot mistake happening), tried to contact them but got no reply because their contact was at work with phone switched off. After nearly an hour of calls get through to someone who arranges for an engineer to call the following Monday, 9th May.
  • Monday 9th May. Engineer turns up, eventually says he's fixed a dodgy connection. Machine seems OK. Three hours later it turns out that it isn't OK, it's stopped working at the start of the spin cycle, full of wet clothes. Another half hour gets me another appointment for today.
  • Wednesday 11th May. Engineer turns up, eventually says it needs a new motor and controller board. Needless to say he doesn't have them in the van. They'll call me to set up another appointment, probably next week.
  • Late Wednesday night - email saying they will come out on Monday (today)
  • Monday 16th (today) - Phone call at 8 AM, the engineer is ill and they need to reschedule. The earliest day available is Thursday. Get email which does NOT give the appointment date. Use their live chat thing to confirm that it is, in fact, on Thursday and not yet another cockup in the making.
Stand by for Thursday's thrilling instalment...
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Subject:Picspam - Crossrail, TARDIS, Trees, an interesting sign and Bugs, Mr. Rico!
Time:09:28 pm
It's a couple of weeks since I've done one of these - nothing incredibly beautiful, just some stuff that's come my way in London.

Crossrail continues apace, and I got some nice shots of a train loaded with track entering the Eastbound tunnel at Royal Oak Portal. Larger versions can be found with my uploads on Wikimedia Commons.

Track on trainCollapse )

In the West End the Doctor was beginning to suspect his chameleon circuit was malfunctioning even more than usual...Collapse )

And in a nearby street a familiar name is seen...Collapse )

The Dead Tree VersionCollapse )

And in a charity shop rather further from home I found a lot of these

Bugs, Mister Rico!Collapse )
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Subject:TV shows
Time:02:16 am
Big list of TV shows renewed and cancelled in upcoming seasons:

http://tvline.com/2015/10/16/renewed-tv-shows-2016-renewal-scorecard-cancelled-series/

It appears that Supergirl is moving to the CW (with Flash, Arrow, etc.) so hopefully more crossover episodes. Arrow, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow are renewed, as are Supernatural and all flavours of NCIS (NCIS itself for the next two seasons.)
Agents of SHIELD, Elementary, and Gotham were renewed.
Agent Carter has been cancelled, as has Person of Interest, and (unsurprisingly) CSI: Cyber.
And somehow Lucifer has been renewed, but Castle has been cancelled.

Seriously, they renewed Lucifer but not Person of Interest or Agent Carter?

No mention of Jessica Jones or Black Sails but Wikipedia says they're renewed. Also nothing on Daredevil, but Wikipedia says there will be a Punisher spinoff. Da Vinci's Demons won't be renewing, again according to Wikipedia.
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Subject:Boardgame Geek Reports the Forgotten Futures Changes
Time:10:48 pm
A news story on the Forgotten Futures shareware thing - slightly inaccurate since it implies I'm contacting everyone who has ever registered, which isn't the case, the refund offer only applies to current registered users, but very nicely presented:

http://boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/53970/gamerati-news-update-09-may-2016
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Subject:The Beast from 20,000 Bureaucrats
Time:04:24 pm
For details of the horror that is VATMOSS, which I ludicrously oversimplified in my previous announcements, see Dave Langford's site:

http://ae.ansible.uk/?id=vatmoss
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Subject:The wonders of Hotpoint
Time:01:37 pm
I have a Hotpoint washer dryer which went wrong a couple of weeks ago. No problem, I thought, I've got a service contract. They're usually OK...

So far the sequence has been:
  • Thursday 28th April. Call in problem - earliest engineer available is Wednesday 4th May. Agree, rather grumpily.
  • Wednesday 4th May. Wait in all day. Nobody turns up - it eventually turns out that the engineer was told to go to the flat below (they also have a contract and their surname begins earlier in the alphabet, so I can see this sort of idiot mistake happening), tried to contact them but got no reply because their contact was at work with phone switched off. After nearly an hour of calls get through to someone who arranges for an engineer to call the following Monday, 9th May.
  • Monday 9th May. Engineer turns up, eventually says he's fixed a dodgy connection. Machine seems OK. Three hours later it turns out that it isn't OK, it's stopped working at the start of the spin cycle, full of wet clothes. Another half hour gets me another appointment for today.
  • Wednesday 11th May. Engineer turns up, eventually says it needs a new motor and controller board. Needless to say he doesn't have them in the van. They'll call me to set up another appointment, probably next week.

I am waiting to see how long this takes, and if it isn't completely fixed on the next visit I am going to demand a replacement machine. And if it is, at service contract renewal time they are going to be told exactly why I want a VERY large discount!
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Subject:Forgotten Futures refund update
Time:11:44 am
Past £100 for charity - and managed to contact one of the people whose email bounced, I'll be sending cards to the rest this afternoon.

At some point someone should probably update the Wikipedia entry on Forgotten Futures, but presumably not me. Anyone else got some time on their hands? The important announcement is here:

http://ffutures-news.insanejournal.com/2016/05/09/
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Subject:Well, nobody can say I didn't warn them...
Time:05:56 pm
With two hours 40 20 minutes to go the Sigma lens is up to £20 £22 £35.60 and watched by 31 people despite the facts that

a: It won't work properly on most Canons without modification
b: I haven't been able to test it properly because of (a)
c: I've spelled this out in considerable detail and
d: I'm not offering any warranty because of a-c

I can only assume that somewhere out there is at least one person with a REALLY early Eos camera, and/or someone who modifies these lenses for compatibility with modern bodies.

later - final price was £62 + P&P!

Reminds me to ask - prior to going digital, did Canon have any Eos body equivalent to the old F1, e.g. with interchangeable viewfinders? I really can't remember one, which seems a little odd.
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Subject:Forgotten Futures refund update
Time:12:48 pm
Since yesterday I've heard back from 16 users - so far 14 charity donations, raising £84 for Cancer Research, £6 for a guinea pig sanctuary (don't ask), and only one refund. Still a LOT more people to hear from - and several emails bounced, which means that unless those concerned contact me I won't be able to repay the money and will probably end up donating it after a suitable waiting period.
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Subject:Weirdness Magnet
Time:08:37 pm
I was looking up Weirdness Magnet on TV tropes and realised that there were remarkably few examples in the live action film section. I think a good case could be made for Stan Lee, in many of his film appearances. Unfortunately my TV tropes membership went wrong some time ago and I've not been able to log in for several years, so if anyone who does still have posting access wants to run with this please feel free.
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Subject:Forgotten Futures Shareware Registration Ending
Time:07:22 pm
Further to my previous posts, I'm ending shareware registration of Forgotten Futures. See the post link below for an email I've just sent to current registered users. Since a few messages have bounced and more may be blocked by spam filters etc. I'd be grateful if you could point this out to anyone who might be affected.

http://ffutures-news.livejournal.com/34434.html
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Subject:Useful site - have you been pwned?
Time:10:03 am
Feed in a name, user name, email address, etc., it tells you if the password details etc. have been leaked. For example, my email address and login details turn out to have been leaked in the big Adobe hack, which fortunately I already knew so I don't have to start panicking. And my details don't seem to have been leaked in the hack of the NCIS fanfic archives a few months ago, but I've already taken steps about that one and it was high time I changed a few passwords anyway... It doesn't give you any details beyond saying there was a leak, so you can't e.g. feed in someone else's user name and get their password!

https://haveibeenpwned.com/

Well worth a look.

later - if anyone is worried they might be harvesting addresses etc., I got this reply on another site:

Thank you for sharing this site with the group. I just want to confirm that it itself is not a malicious site set up to harvest e-mail addresses and other data. It was mentioned in one of the SANS courses I took for work. (SANS bills itself as "The most trusted source for information security training, certification, and research," and it does live up to its billing.)

https://www.sans.org

It's also recced here

http://www.zdnet.com/article/how-to-find-out-if-your-password-has-been-stolen/
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Subject:This weekend's markets and boot fairs
Time:06:49 pm
Nothing truly astonishing, but

Two 28mm f2.8 screw-fit Carenar lenses (Korean, both a bit the worst for wear) plus some extra front and rear lens caps for a tenner. I could have got several more of the lenses but the rest were in really shitty condition, and I really didn't want to try to build good lenses out of the broken ones.

A really clean Zenith EM with a Cosina 35mm f2.8 lens for £15.

A 200gb IDE hard drive for £1 (should be handy if I get another iMac G4)

Two apple mains cables for £2

And four folding binoculars which will be very nice for stocking fillers come Xmas, for £4
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Subject:Another RPG bundle offer - Castle Falkenstein (all of it)
Time:09:36 pm
This is another one that's based on a game I really like but already have most of in dead tree format - if you don't it's well worth a look. The setting is an alternate Europe a bit like the one in the Girl Genius comics, with magic and weird science and lots of airships.

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/CastleFalkenstein

"This is a comprehensive collection featuring Mike Pondsmith's tabletop roleplaying game of steampunk science, magick, and high adventure, Castle Falkenstein. Published in 1994 by R. Talsorian Games, Falkenstein conjures a New Europa where the forces of wizardry battle on the gaslit streets of an alternate Victorian Age -- where The Lord of the Rings meets The Prisoner of Zenda.

Inspired by a visit to Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Mike Pondsmith (Cyberpunk, Mekton) created a splendid frappe of a rulebook. Unusually, it's told as the narrative adventure of one Tom Olam, a computer game artist unwillingly transported to New Europa by a powerful sorcerer and the King of the Fae. There he creates (in collaboration with the Prince of Wales) a "Great Game" that brings roleplaying to the salons of Europa.

The Great Game, and the Castle Falkenstein game itself, are high-spirited endeavors in unabashed melodrama, where adventures feature a Fiendish Plot, an Insidious Peril, Imprisonment in Durance Vile, and a Fate Worse Than Death, along with hairsbreadth escapes, deathtraps, and perilous battles. Players fill out not only characters sheets for their Dramatic Characters; they also keep a diary of the character's life and times in the Steam Age. Start a session of "the Great Game," and soon you'll be speaking and writing like Captain Fortune himself: "I've a loaded reciprocator in one hand, a saber in the other, and a deucedly good Helical Rotor Ornithopter to get me where it's needful. What say we take a flight over the Channel and beard the unscrupulous bounder in his very lair?"

This offer collects R. Talsorian's entire Castle Falkenstein line in one low-priced bundle. 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$78. Customers who pay just $9.95 get all three titles in our Starter Collection (retail value $40) as DRM-free .PDF ebooks:
  • Castle Falkenstein corebook (retail price $20): The complete 226-page rulebook as a beautiful full-color .PDF.
  • Comme Il Faut (retail $10): The player's essential guide to "all things right and proper" in the aristocratic courts of New Europa and beyond.
  • Six-Guns & Sorcery (retail $10): Adventures in the Steam Age version of North America, a high-weirdness patchwork of bizarre nations.
Those who pay more than the threshold (average) price, which is set at $17.95 to start, also get our entire Bonus Collection with four more titles (retail value $38):
  • The Book of Sigils (retail $10): A new magick system, many new Sorcerous Orders and lorebooks, and rules for the animated dead, ghosts, and spirits.
  • Steam Age (retail $8): A comprehensive equipment guide and interviews with many notable mad scientists and masterminds, like Captain Nemo and Lady Ada, the Enchantress of Numbers.
  • The Lost Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci (retail $10): Retrieved from beyond the Faerie Veil, this codex presents sorcerous devices and rules for the construction of magickal engines.
  • The Memoirs of Auberon of Faerie (retail $10): The High Lord of the Seelie Court reveals the secrets of the enigmatic Fae. By Jeff Grubb (Marvel Super Heroes, Spelljammer).
There are no extras this time, not surprising since this includes everything that was ever published for the game.

I already own most (possibly all) of these books in dead tree format, I think, though I need to check - if I didn't I'd be very interested indeed. But if you haven't seen this game it's well worth a look, a fun genre and a style of presentation that is pretty much unique to this system.

As usual I have to point out that I'm getting this stuff free if I want it, but the starting price is a real bargain, I'd expect it to go up fast on this one.
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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 Sigma 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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