2006 Imported From Epistula Moving to Beford Personal

Waste of Energy

So, I’m going to rant about people. In this case, I’m going to rant about a company I’m going to enigmatically refer to as “n”, because naming them as “that collection of morons at npower” would be bad for my image.

For the last ten months or so I have had a pleasant relationship with “n”. They gave me gas, I gave them money. We were both happy. My electricity company, however, who I shall likewise refer to by an initial – in this case “p” – have constantly referred to me as “new Powergen customer” even when they were threatening to kill me for maliciously paying my bills on time.

So I got a flyer from “n”, about how wonderful my life would be if I used them for all my energy fuel requirements. I was sceptical, as often I am, until they mentioned that it would save me money – which I am in favour of – and give me free plush toys – which I am also in favour of. So I phoned them up, confirmed the free toys thing, and signed over.

A couple of months later I got two bills. In two envelopes. One was for electricity, and was excessive, and the other was for gas, and was also excessive. By this method I knew I was in 2006. And I paid one, and forgot about the other.

Then, a little while later, I got a reminder from “n”, with “n”’s logo at the top, reminding me to pay “n” the value of the other bill. So I went to my computer, loaded up my bank’s website, and paid the bill.

Today, I got another letter from “n”. “There the wuck” said the letter, which I am paraphrasing, “is our mucking foney? Phone us now on this freephone number, you deadbeat, or we’ll send the boys ‘round with an axe”.

So I telephoned them at 8am on a Monday morning. “Due to an unexpected number of calls, i.e. any, on this bloody horrible time of the week, we reserve the right to pacify you with yet another bloody recording of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Or, if you like, the wonders of modern technology allow us to continue ignoring your call without you even being here and phone you back when we’re done killing kittens. How’d you like that? Press 1 if you’d like that”

I pressed 1.

The machine played Vivaldi at me.

I waited a little while.

“Due to […] bloody […] technology[…] we’re […] killing kittens. […] Press 1 if you’d like that”.

I pressed 1.

“Hello person who is on a phone that we are going to phone back, yet who is already on the phone to us, what is your phone number?”

[Phone number]

“And your name?”

[My name]

“Okay. Soon as we’re done, we’ll call you. Kthxbye”

So they waited. And I left for work. And I passed though quiet residental streets, and they waited. And I wandered down silent roads, and they waited. And I crossed a busy roundabout, and they phoned.

“Hello. This is ‘n’, who are you?”

“I’m me. These are my details”

And we had a Conversation. And it came apparent in this Conversation that despite the fact that I am one person, I am – to them – two people. I am the Aquarion who pays twice for gas, and I am the Aquarion who fails to pay for electricity, and there is no possible way the two can ever meet, or give each other money, or interact in any way. In this, it’s a bit like LARP.

So I went over my details a bit, and realised that whilst the bills I had got had said “Gas” and such helpful things, neither letter about non-payment had no such helpful crib notes.

So, I have two remaining questions. One, what is the point of having all my energy needs supplied by one company if I still have to treat them as entirely separate companies without the useful visual reminder of them being two entirely separate companies?

Two, and far more important, why the hell haven’t I got my plush gas flame yet?

Imported From Epistula Moving to Beford


My flat came with a sofabed. I am exactly the wrong height for it, since it places my shoulders exactly where the big wooden plank of the front of the sofa is, the bar across the middle where my hips want to be, and my feet poking out the end. I slept on it for three months.

Someone in one of the flats around me decided to throw out an entire three piece suite around marchish, and decided to place it around the back of the block, where it would never ever be taken away. I looked at it for a while, because it was quite a nice suite (It was blue, anyway. I am a man of simple tastes) but it wouldn’t have fitted in my flat.

Not “It wouldn’t have gone with the curtians”, or even “I wouldn’t have been able to reach the windows”, the chairs wouldn’t have fitted though the door, the sofa would have taken up the entire floorspace. I do not have a large flat.

So I stole the cushions. Well, I left it for a few days to see if anyone was going to take the thing away entirely, or set fire to it, or send it to freecycle. Then I took the cushions and built a small fort.

I am 25 going on 9.

The pile of cushions is now my bed. It contains the cushions, two duvets, six pillows a blanket and a sleeping bag.

It is the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in.

2006 Imported From Epistula Moving to Beford


So, Yesterday I got a phone call for Miss McKever on my mobile.

After a little fighting with what the person on the other end was and was not allowed to tell me, and she eventually came to the conclusion that since my name was also on the ticket, she was allowed to talk to me.

The gist of the conversation was as follows:

  • I moved out of Letchworth six months ago now.
  • I didn’t close the British Gas account properly.
  • British Gas continued to send me bills
  • Royal Mail didn’t forward them on to my house as requested, possibly because LoneCat’s name came first
  • British Gas sent me ever more threatening letters
  • British Gas gave up and sent it on for legal action
  • The Legal People started sending threatening letters to the wrong address
  • Two weeks later, six months after the original problem, someone thinks of using the phone number on the account.

    Net result? I am apparently not going to be able to afford anything this mornth either. Made even more annoying by the fact that I’m almost positive I phoned British Gas and asked for them to close the account, but since I did it by phone I have no proof this ever happened.

    I’m annoyed

Imported From Epistula Moving to Beford

Ponies, Kittens and Robots and space

I’m not quite sure when it happened, but my life has increasingly been divided into Ponies, Kittens and Robots.

Kittens are bad things, in this case, because in this case the kittens are dead. As in “x kills kittens”, things that are Bad, Evil and Wrong have been redesignated as “Kitten killing technology”. Every day we make changes, and in an ideal world these would be between the kitten killing technologies and the ones that let the kittens bound free. In the real world, however, we just have to choose between the technology that kills the fewest kittens in the longest time.

I can’t actually think of a kitten-killing technology I’m allowed to tell you about, apart from Realplayer. Realplayer kills kittens. It’s quite so bad as, for example, a giant monolithic perl program with no comments that was written three generations of programmers ago and you have to maintain, which would on this scale be described as a combine-harvester in a field of kittens.

And that’s the kittens.

Ponies are wishes. The phrase in question is “And while we’re wishing, I want a pony.” and involves anything that would be better if done differently, or at the same time as, or generally could be improved by something else happening instead/as well. As an example, I want more time to spend writing weblog entries about kittens, and developing Escape, and writing stories, and while I’m wishing I want a pony.

I do not yet have a pony.

Robots are the best thing. In the future, there will be robots. The future is the place where everything good will happen, I will have a computer that can play Oblivion and Dreamfall, and City of Villains better, and I will have time to do all the things I want to do, and be able to get to LARP on time. And we will have robots, and a base on the moon, and the robots will cook and clean and do the washing up.

I miss the robot that used to do the washing up.

In the future, there will be robots.

Robots who will pack stuff away. Grah.

As part of Project Whence, I – with the assistance of my parents – have removed all the crap I’ve been keeping in storage for the last six months and deposited it in my small flat. The essential problem with this is that I don’t actually have the space in my flat to keep all the crap, which is why I bought the storage in the first place. On the other hand, I can’t afford to move if I’m paying £x a month on storage space, so we moved it all back here.

Apparently, much of what I was storing I could happily throw away, which makes me annoyed that I spent six months and several hundred pounds storing it. Ah well. It consists of a lot of books (which I can’t throw away, although I might sell a few boxfuls at some point) and a large number of archive boxes of crap, some of which have followed me, unopened, since Cambridge. Having made the executive decision that I didn’t need to keep council tax demands and unopened junk mail from three years ago, I’ve succeeded in filling half of the block of flats’ bins with cardboard boxes and misc. pieces of paper. And, with a little effort and an awful lot of laundry, my flat could once again be a little bit tidy (so long as you don’t go into the kitchen).

But, for now, more tea is required.

aqcom Computer Games Current Affairs Design Humour Imported From Epistula Moving to Beford Personal programming web development


So yeah, new year, newish design. It isn’t perfect, but it’s a start. And the new new design is trapped in PSP until I get a new 30 day trial 😀


I like simplicity. It appeals to my sense of design, and the light grey with some of the most delicate shading I could make visible is nothing if not simple. The boxes and curves design is lifted from previous designs, but where there they were gradiented and filled here they are lightly hinted at rather than rigidly defined. The construction marks on the logo I like too 🙂


It’s a long way from the new design, which is slightly more heavy on the photographic backgrounds than I usually do, and is therefore something of a departure. Changes are good.


Today I spent a long time in a car, and a slightly shorter time in an actual meeting with actual clients. For this I am wearing a suit, and am reminded – as I am always reminded – that I need a new suit at some point. I don’t wear suits very often, and part of the reason for that is my enjoyment of the reaction of people who haven’t seen it before. I hate with a passion, however, the shiny clompy shoes, because the shiny clompy shoes are clompy – and I don’t like being clompy – and the shiny clompy shoes go clomp-clomp-clomp all the way home until they wear though my socks and make the backs of my ankles bleed. Which, you know, hurts.


I suspect that, with all the lack-of-updatingness and the cheese-sandwichingness (though currently it’s a bacon sandwich. Mmm, bacon) I’ve lost most of the geeky percentage of my audience. Though the geeky percentage probably didn’t notice the not-updatingness because they all use RSS readers, and the rest all use friends lists. Why do I bother with the designing of actual web pages again?


Current things that I have been mucking around with include “DOM Scripting” (as well I might), which I will get around to mentioning in a bit, Scripting in computer games (Both Civilization 4 and Vampire The Masquerade use Python as their primary game scripting language, which I find interesting, and have on my list of Things To Write An Article About) and Visual Studio Express.

Open Sorcery types, you can switch off now, because I don’t need your next reaction.

So, I have downloaded Visual Studio Express which is what happens when Microsoft miss the point. Amateur coders are mostly nowadays developing in things like Python, Perl, PHP and if they have had their brains fiddled with, GCC and Java. Lots on Linux. This is, indeed, partly because Visual Studio costs TEN MILLION DOLLARS per license.

Actually, it doesn’t, but as a non-professional developer it might as well do, as the high licensing puts something of a boot-strapping problem in front of learning to dev for Win32, or even Win64. So, Visual Studio Express you can download for Free (as in Beer). Well, you can download a demo for free (as in beer), but you do have to register for free (as in, be spammed for eternity) and have a Passport account (as in “submit to the almighty Gates empire”. Much like you have to do for OpenSolaris) (Except different empire, obviously) (Yeash, you guys are pedantic). So yeah, I’m downloading VC++ (Because I want to design a Half life 2 mod about killing lawnchairs) (Incidentally, Valve’s Developer docs are all in a Wiki, isn’t that interesting?) (Yes, too many brackets, Sosumi) and it’s taking an eternity, though not as long as XCode did. I mean, what do you have to put into an IDE to make it 800mb?

Oh, right. OS X. Chrome, naturally.

So yeah, updates as and when. Also about the Mysterious Project Breakfast, assuming I get around to that too.


Bedford has a sushi restaurant. I swear the things follow me around. I am, of course, doomed, but I am doomed with expensive raw fish, and that somehow makes it all worth while.

Dead Ken(nedy)

Charles Kennedy, leader of the UK Liberal Democrats Governmental party, has, shortly after some people accused him of not being a good leader, admitted to having a drinking problem. His chances are not looking terribly rosy.

(From The Friday Thing Dead Kennedy Pool):
When Charles finally goes, the nearest prediction will win its predictor a bottle of Talisker 18 Year Old Single Malt Whisky. And the country will win a second opposition party with an actual leader. Everyone’s a winner.

(Thats three times I’ve attempted to spell “Kennedy” as “Khennedy”, which is your fault, Jason)

Tuesday, Ten AM.

Shortly afterwards all the people who said they wouldn’t run against him in a leadership election will, in fact, run against him in a leadership election “In the interests of the party”.

Wednesday, Thirteen Fifteen, Sir Malcolm Rifkind will announce that he’s actually really been a spy for the Liberal Democrats all along, will enter – and win – the leadership election, and then all three major parties will be basically Tory. This will set off a chain of Heath Robinson events which will naturally lead to the collapse of the entire political system across the world, leading to the rise and rule of a little known previously almost silent group called the “Bloggers” who will alternate between demanding that everyone be nice to everyone else and being so emo their hair cuts itself, their first action will demand that every person in the entire universe gets a weblog or other online journal and the resulting influx of new accounts at LiveJournal will mean that Six Apart become the single source of money in the entire world, except for Sun, who they buy servers from. Sun will open source world government, leading to rule by whoever argues most consistently on the mailing list, which will eventually lead to the population of the world being run by the commentators on Slashdot, leading to great leaps forward in technological research, the population of Space, a new version of Doom, and a world famine as no money is spent on any food that doesn’t go into either kool aid or cookies. We all die, and it’s all Charlie’s fault for telling us about his drinking problem.

Selfish bastard.

Imported From Epistula Moving to Beford


So, I have moved all my crap out of Letchworth and into Bedford, filling one flat and one storage unit. There are photos of the great unpacking at flickr (I did promise my dad digital photos to prove I finished it 🙂

Oh, people have asked. The new flat is called “Fortress One” (Following from Geekhouse (Cambridge), Catrion Towers (Reading) and Casarufus (Letchworth). There are three reasons for the current one. The first is that it is possibly the exact opposite of whatever scale you put a fortress on except in regard to the second reason. The second reason is that it’s the first house I’ve ever lived in with a burglar alarm. The third is a self-pitying superman reference, which I’ll spare from those of you who don’t get it already.

I am reflatted, tomorrow I will cycle to work. Time to start again.

Imported From Epistula Moving to Beford Personal

New Flat Adventures – Shaving

Apologies to anyone expecting anything real of me atm. A week of typing at a badly ergonomically designed desk (i.e., my dining table) appears to have undone the last couple of years of antiRSI training. To the anecdote.

The world is divided in the world of shaving, as it is in so many other things. It is divided into four groups: There are those who shave with real razors (Real Men), those who shave with Electric Razors (Girly Men), those who shave with Big Knives (Fools) and those who don’t shave (Bearded Ones. Also: “Girls”) (This Venn diagram of simplicity does not take into account the semi-bearded ones, who we shall ignore, then mock, then ignore again because it complicates the theory).

My new flat, awesome as it stands in majestic dominance of the landscape, does not contain a shaving point near the sink, or any other mirror. So, I could either attempt to run electricity into the bathroom (An unpopular suggestion, finally vetoed by my remaining shred of self-preservation) or I could migrate from the second category into the happy world of the first. (My self preservation and I had a small argument about this, on the basis that scraping multiple blades across my accident-prone face was probably unwise, but countered with the fact that it appeared to feel that these multiple blades were safer if they were whirling and powered by Phillips, it backed down. The Third option was never raised, and the fourth remained trapped, sat upon by it was by the overwhelming memory of the (fortunately unphotographed) University Experimental Facial Hair Phase).

See? You thought an entry about such a banal subject was going to be dull, didn’t you? And here you are, getting a valuable insight into my twisted and fractured psychology. Aren’t you _oh_ so lucky?

Buying a razor is more complicated than you may assume. First, there is the essential question of blades. Do you want a single blade? Two? Five? Nine? Do you want a razor that will make you feel like aeroplanes are passing over your skin, or more like someone is whiling a sabre near your face? How about the speed of sound, do you want a razor that could break it? Twice? Three times?. Then you must be sure to decide on the duskiness of the maidens who will waltz into your bathroom to keep you clean shaven. Do you want a battery powered one? one that oozes ichor into your skin? Ectoplasm? Or would you prefer moisturiser? Does a razor that oozes moisturiser negate the razor back into “Girly Men” category? Even if it’s battery powered? What the hell is the point of a battery powered safety razor anyway? And why the hell are the blades more expensive than the main unit? Talk about your razor-blade econo… oh, yes, right.

Eventually, and after much soul searching, I picked one that didn’t ooze any kind of gunk, but would break the sound barrier three times whilst a dozen dusky maidens bathed me. Then I put it down for the one that came with a box of extra blades instead, because I’m not made of money.

Eventually I managed to buy the thing (Which required the cashier to find a manager to authorise the purchase while the queue behind me snaked further back into the store until it was lost in the mists, and also the person behind me threw money at me until I went away), but argh, why must everything be so complicated?

Imported From Epistula Moving to Beford

The New Flat Adventures – One – The coming of the fruit fucker

And so it came to pass that I eventually moved into the new flat. Because this is a new flat, some things must be done differently, and these are the things I shall narrate. They will range from the exceedingly geeky (The new network and my attempts at keeping my life on it) to the frighteningly banal (The next entry) to the… I’m not sure yet (The rest of this entry).

The first of these stories concerns kettles. When I came up here a couple of weeks ago to put down the final part of the initial payment and pick up the keys, I had nothing but a rucksack with the implements of making tea in it. That is, I had a mug, the old travel kettle from the second Sunderland flat (complete with Jonny Bravo stickers) and some teabags liberated from hotels over the last year or so. It is Traditional that the first thing to happen in my new flat is tea, so I bought some milk on the way, and got to the flat.

I was thwarted, unfortunately, by the fact that the travel kettle had died a horrible death at some point in the last four years, so I was forced to boil water in the only cooking implement available – a frying pan – and make tea that way.

Shortly afterwards, I resolved to buy a new kettle, so one lunch-hour, I wandered down to Argos to source such a thing. I discovered that I could get a kettle for 20, or I could get a kettle and a coffee maker and a toaster and a juicer for 20. So I lugged a large box of kitchenware back to the office and then back to the flat (Well, sort of. A Coworker gave me a lift to the flat so I didn’t have to carry it all the way). I do not expect any of these implements to last long (The last Cookware appliance I bought was a liquidizer that took up unsavory habits, like smoking in the kitchen), but while they do I have a fruit fucker.

The Fucker in question There are downsides, like the way it takes over half a kilo of oranges to make a glass of juice, and the fact that it takes longer to make than it does to drink, and the horrible screeching noise the engine makes when it goes one way (it alternates) which may just be the fruit in pain. Also, years of reading Penny Arcade have rendered me unable to refer to it as anything apart from a Fruit Fucker, which isn’t an ideal thing either. But it makes fresh orange juice, and that makes me a happy person.

Imported From Epistula Moving to Beford


The new flat has Internet.

My world is more complete.

Imported From Epistula Moving to Beford

Flat Pack

I have achived Flat.

This morning I left Letchworth with six hundred pounds worth of crisp new twenty pound notes, and went to Bedford to exchange them for four small pieces of metal that granted me access to the as-yet-unnamed flat in Chaucer Road, Bedford.

There I spent several hours trying to get the heating working (and suceeding), the hot water working (and failing) and making tea (My old kettle’s plugs pins are bent, I ended up boiling water in the frying pan, because whilst the house comes with plates and mugs and wardrobes and pictures of dolphins, it lacks for saucepans).

Then I came back to Letchworth and had breakfast, which I really should have thought of earlier.

So, Yay, Moving house. Again.