New Years Resolutions for 2009

It’s hard to write these without it looking like some kind of ‘appraisal’ and I question the worth of those at work as it is, so OTTOMH here’s a few simple non-controversial objectives that spring to mind…

1. Get back into going to the gym, Tai Chi and Pilates – I’ve been working silly hours recently and my gym visits and sessions with my trainer have ground to a halt – fitness is really important to me, so before I get even more unfit and overweight…

2. Think of a useful Perl project and get going. I’ve been neglecting my coding for a while = very bad!

3. Finish my ‘David Bowie Owl’ painting and get cracking with some others. I love art and painting is really therapeutic for me, so I need to find time to get back into it.

4. Go to bed earlier – I’ve got into the bad habit of going to bed at about 2am, this is because I seem to think better and be more productive at this time, consequently I have a hell of a job getting up in the morning!

5. Play more games and think more about gaming generally. All my friends know I’m really into games, but I don’t do enough analytical thinking about the application of gaming IMHO – or I could do more 😉

6. Travel more, even if that means going on my todd!

7. Read & share more books – I’m not getting enough knowledge in there (taps noodle)!

8. Come up with a really cool and original idea for an event – not as easy as you think when everyone’s putting them on these days 😉

9. See more of my awesome friends & family, as I’ve been a bit neglectful – meep!

10. Create more quality video for the web – there’s a whole world out there and not enough opinions / thoughts / creativity being recorded & shared – video is the way to go – rokk on people!

11. Carrying on from Ant Miller’s discussion at BarCampBrighton3 – think some more about ‘A BBC Micro for the 21st Century?’ what this could be and how do we inspire and encourage peeps of all ages in the UK to be inquisitive about tech and look ‘under the hood’ to play and innovate?

12. * Research / promote / encourage women in tech: ladies, we’re here and doing it large – we need to be seen and counted – don’t be shy, or feel like you don’t have something to say – lets make ourselves visable at conferences / research / orgs / depts/ academia and challenge attitudes from the basics upwards, such as the national curriculum and career stereotypes!

13. Life / work balance – I enjoy my job so much I don’t know when to stop sometimes, I need to define my own time and get on with stuff like everything on the list above!

Do let me know if there’s anything blindingly obvious that you think I should add to my list – though pleasant suggestions only, please 😉

Happy New Year 2009 to you and yours – hope it’s a great one!

* It’s not that controversial, it’s very reasonable actually and necessary – miaow!

Festive frivolity: a handbag for my DS!

I’ve been looking for something to keep my Nintendo DS in for a while, but hadn’t found quite the right case. I’ve also been carrying my games round in a tatty old piece of envelope = not good!

Anyways, I found this handy handbag in Selfridges London’s HMV concession priced at 9.99UKP – it’s rather lovely, and has a nice side pocket for my games. I plumped for pink checks, but it also comes in other colourways such as blue and IIRC green. It’s very stylishly finished and if you’re into such things the DS logo features no less than three times if you include the zip tags!

..I’m sure I’ll be posing nonchalantly with it at the next DS:London meet 😉

Winterval 2008 = fe fi fo festive gaming fun for me!

Seasons greetings, I hope you had a lovely holiday! I did, thanks and have 3 new games to wibble about – here’s some first impressions 😀

de Blob – Wii
In a city called Chroma, there’s trouble afoot – it’s been taken over by the INKT Corporation, who for whatever reason have taken all the colour away and made everything dull and grey! You are Blob (literally) and your quest is to liberate the city from the doings of the INKT Corporation and make the place lively and colourful again by running into paint cans and throwing yourself at buildings, monuments, trees and the inhabitants, the Raydians – but watch out the Inkys are after you! It’s a fun and cute game, some time has been spent on the construction on the various areas and scenes which is nice. Gameplay is broken down into separate challenges that are surprisingly compelling. I’m still getting used to the controls as it’s pretty difficult to control yourself as ‘de Blob’ with the anologue stick on the nunchuck and I’m flying around all over the place, so the effects can be a bit manic. Also, I need to work out how not to skip the back story at the start of a new game. It’s quite addictive and I like it a lot 😀

Professor Layton and the Curious Village – DS
It was a bit of a hoohar to get hold of this game, I couldn’t find one in the length of Oxford St, this I was told was to do with Woolworths being the distributor and because they’d gone bankrupt supplies had run out – not sure if this is true though! I found a few in Rathbone St CEX, but decided that a mark-up to 50ukp for a 29.99ukp game was a bit, um, too entrepreneurial for my purse 😉 Anyways finally got one from Argos after scouring the internet. This is the first in a trilogy for Prof Layton & there’s lots of fun puzzles and brain teasers as you help him and his assistant Luke find the ‘Golden Apple’ in the village of St Mystere. For me a nice touch is the cartoon image of Citroen 2CV they travel around in – just because I like em, though wanted the Prof & Luke to hurry up talking me through the back story though, so could get to the games. The characters are somewhat grating at times, actually – esp Lukes adult-child mockney accent (! The brain teasers are classic schooly ones, eg weights, matchsticks and stuff, so if you’re like me you’ll be scratching your head a lot and reaching for the hints – excellent fun if you’re patient enough to figure em out 😉

New Zealand Story Revolution – DS
First released in 1988 by Taito as an arcade game and also on NES, Amiga, C64, Master System, ZX Spectrum, Sega Mega Drive, PC Engine, (to name a few) a version of this platform game has now been released for the DS by Rising Star Games. It stars Tiki the Kiwi – a little yellow bird who’s quest is to find and free his friends from the clutches of a naughty sealion. The game play involves running about collecting fruit, jumping, shooting enemies and floating about on little balloons. It’s lots of fun and incredibly cute 😀 Actually, I probably should stop talking in such twee terms about this game, as the original was rather difficult and whooped the ass of seasoned, non-twee gamers! The makers of this version did add a few extras particular to the DS, it’s mostly d-pad / button gameplay instead of touch screen, so I got a bit confused when unexpectedly I needed to use the touch screen to spin a door handle. Oh yes, I’m looking forward to meeting the pink whale! Oh also quite excited about multiplayer mode, esp for the next DS:London meet up 😀


Here’s the pink ice whale boss – meep!

Hope Santa brought you some nice games too!

PS. I got a cheeky book from Cia: ‘My Grammar and I (or should that be ‘me’?) by Caroline Taggart & J A Wines – I think this might be a poke at my 1337 writing skillz – hrumpf – he’s lucky I didn’t throw it at him – the cheeky cat ;-P

PS2: Over the last couple of days, there’s been an abundance of Nintendo DS ads on TV for the ‘100 Classic Book Collection’ – it’s a nice idea in some ways, eg lots of classics to choose from and wonderfully portable for us tube sardines, but not sure if peeps will want to shell out for this when they could use Project Gutenberg for free (or by donation) & like me have a GP2X that has a reader. I won’t chastise Nintendo too much though, as anything that gets people reading, or new audiences into learning by play, is a good idea in my book (fnar) – I bid thee goonight (00:57am yawn) 😉

Adventures with ubuntu & mobile broadband on my Eee PC

I’ve been trying to get ubuntu on my Eee PC 1000 for a while now. My first attempt didn’t go too well – I tried to install it from a USB Flash stick, but strangely it wouldn’t boot or install from it – doh!

I’ve now borrowed a USB CD drive from one of my colleagues (thanks Ru), and in the first instance burnt ubuntu eee onto disc and installed it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite right: the wifi wasn’t working properly and then it just crashed. I then decided to investigate other versions and have ended up installing Intrepid Ibex (8.10) with some upgrades and a custom Linux kernel ( Intrepid one from to get the wireless working. I must say I prefer the Ibex interface to the ubuntu eee look.

The other thing that needed investigating was how to get my new Orange Mobile Broadband dongle (icon 225) working. I decided to splurge out for one of these as I travel a lot and it drives me bonkers when I can’t get wifi access at conferences and on public transport.

Anyways, as the dongle only comes with set up apps for Mac and Windoze I need to find something extra to get it to work on the Eee PC. Basically as the dongle modem acts like a disc by default it needed a little application to switch it into modem mode. After some googling and fiddling to get it to work, the app I’m using is called ozerocdoff and was downloaded from and works a treat – yay! Thanks to Cia for helping me 😀

London Backstage Communities Network Bash

Thanks to everyone who came to the London Backstage Networking Bash last night / this morning. I had a lovely time although I didn’t actually get to spend much time with anyone. Not coz I didn’t want to but just because I was too busy – either unpacking/setting up stuff, fiddling with a walkie talkie, liaising with the venue staff, crawling under tables/hunting for obscure male /female jacks in bags or finding a t-shirt in one of the combination of sizes.

The party fun of an event planner is pretty lonely. It’s very sober (no alcohol for me all night) and not very social = not one I usually experience. I felt pretty guilty all night as I left half constructed conversations or hellos with good friends – being tapped on the shoulder & breaking off to answer a question, find something on another floor or reset the Skype. I was really torn and I had to leave my usual time for my friends at the door to cut off and just *do* things, as it were… I felt like I had wonky eyes all night – talking to friends, but having a roving eye on the peripheral… From the time I got there at 6pm I spent all night without a drink, lipstick check or time to go to the loo. Really!

Not to worry though because it wasn’t *my* party – it was a hello and thank you for all the lovely people who had are involved with the Backstage communities and had made the effort to cross London and the home counties, on a really shitty night of torrential rain for the east end of London. Everyone was lovely and no-one moaned about the weather, the distance or the fact that we didn’t have any booze sponsors this year.

I loved watching people interact over Skype to say hello to peeps at the Backstage do in Manchester. As there was music going on (thanks Dom) they found inventive ways to communicate such as games of hangman – reversing letters to construct hellos and questions such as ‘Where is Ian?’

A nicer bunch of people you couldn’t find. They’re all fabulous, clever, fun amazing people (and I say that most sincerely) I love you all and give you a big *hug* (okay now I feel emotional) – meep!

I want to say a *HUGE* thank you to Brendan Crowther, Dominic Travers Sarah Mines, Gareth Davies, and Ciaran Anscomb for being generous with their time to help get the kit there, DJ, set up, look after the door and our lovely guests!