Imported From Epistula tv

Game show

Yesterday, due to a fuckup, I broke my ability to remove cash from my bank account, so no LARP, no alcohol and nothing this Friday night. Except…

I applied for tickets though Hat Trick for a pilot of a newsy/satire type show with Sir Trevor McDonald, partly because the concept interested me, but a lot because everyone who went got first dibs at the hotly contested tickets for the Have I Got News For You new series next month. Anyway. (There has been an hour gap between the writing of those two full stops. Damn Wikipedia and its crackpot organisation).

Anyway, due to the fact they have moved the South Bank, Waterloo Station, the London Eye, the National Theatre and possibly London itself since I last went there, I eventually got to the London Studios in time to be second to last in the queue, and along with the last 30 people didn’t get in. Instead we were invited to go see the filming a new Quiz show from the people who invented Deal or No Deal called “The Rest Of Your Life”.

The concept of the game is this:

A couple are the contestants. There is an arrangement of 11 spaces, each has a Red light (3) or a White light (8) by it. One of the contestants – we shall call them Mark – picks the numbers, while the other – who we will call Mary – wanders from space to space. Mark picks a number; Mary walks to it; there is a period of built tension as the host (Nicky Campbell in this case) asks them if they’re perfectly sure, possibly goes for an ad break, still perfectly sure, asks the audience, phones a friend etc; Light is revealed to be red or white. If it’s white you get +1, red you get -1. Reveal all the reds and it’s game over. After you get to +4, you can choose to jump to round two, or keep going and risk losing it. You can’t skip unless you’re last draw was a white.

At the start they draw one of three possible amounts of money. For the first part of the show their score is this amount × their score as above, so you might get out of round one with £100. In the second half you have 15 spaces (4 red, 11 white), but this time the steps are time (1 month, 2 months, 3, 6, 1 year, 2 years, 5, 10, 20, Rest of your life) which represent how long you will get monthly cheques for the amount you won in round one. There are complications around this.

It’s quite interesting really, though it’s not more than picking random numbers. There is some limited strategy – most on the “Stick or twist” level – and a smattering of spousal trust (In the Complications referred to above), but mostly it was a matter of watching how people reacted and behaved in these conditions. Also, the end game got really interesting, but I can’t tell you why until they broadcast it (and I don’t know when they will). But it involves the end game (Where they have to pick from red and white lights) and an audience member called Roxanne…

It was fun, and kind of mindless, and the warm-up comedian was great in a kind of bad way (“My butcher asked me if I wanted a bet about whether I could grab the meat off the hooks, but I refused, the steaks were too high”), but worth an otherwise deathly dull Friday night.

Computer Games Imported From Epistula

Death by Hinge

The penguin hitting game now evolves

Computer Games Imported From Epistula Personal


I appear to have confused people with an actual technical post after years in the cheese-sandwiching wasteland.

To balance things out:

Right now I’m baking bread! 🙂

But we don’t have enough hot water for my shower 🙁

Also, The trailer for the New MySims Game, which is KAWAII!!!!!


Apple Imported From Epistula PHP

Debugging Ajax

One of the problems with Ajax is that the server side of it becomes invisible. You send a request to the server with an ajax request object, and you can get output from the JS by firebug, or alert boxes, or whatever, but for the script running on the other side, there’s no visible place for the output.

There are many ways around it, but my current favourite is Growl.

Growl is a notification system for OS X, where programs send messages to the central demon, and it pops up a little dialog message that eventually fades away. They’re nice for debug, so I have this:

require_once 'Net/Growl.php';

$growl =& Net_Growl::singleton('Net_Growl'array('Messages'), '[Password]');
$growl->_options['host'] = '[MyIP]';

$GLOBALS['growl'] = $growl;

function debug($message){
    $backtrace = debug_backtrace();
    if (is_array($message) || is_object($message)){
        $message = print_r($message,1);
    $title = sprintf("Debug - %s - %d"$backtrace[0]['function'], $backtrace[0]['line']);


With network notification enabled on Growl on my local machine, I get a little debug message without interrupting the application flow.

Of course, I could use log files, but that wouldn’t be quite as pretty.

2006 2007 Imported From Epistula

Aquarion and the Legal System

So, I failed to pay my council tax.

(Council Tax, Americans and other aliens, is a local authority tax for paying for things like police, roads and county swimming pools. There is no way around it, no way though it, and they can charge basically what they like, hiking way above the rate of inflation and then saying that any less would mean fewer policemen on the streets, which ranks alongside “taking your liberties solves terrorism” and “This is a magical hat that protects me from tigers when in London” in undefendable statements. Anyway.)

I do this every so often. Bedford CC don’t let you pay by bank transfer, which is my money-management drug of choice (I had a bad experience with an authenticated random-amount DD going batshit-insane a few years ago), so I have to do it manually over the phone/counter/something, and what with Amsterdam, and leaving Bedford, and quiting EM, and general arsehattery on my part, I entirely failed to do so. And, being the fourth time this year I was late…

…The weekend after I started living in E17 (Where I now live) my smallest little brother – who has a car – kindly helped me transfer essentials (such as bedding, bed cushions and tea) to London. This was the point when I opened my mailbox to discover a court summons from the county council.

Of course, sending out a little piece of paper summoning me to appear before the court of the land is not an inexpensive process. Just that little A4 sheet and accompanying letter cost them £60. It wasn’t even very good quality paper, to be honest, and I do worry how much of the budget goes on paper if it costs them quite that much.

£40 underpayment plus £60 muppetry tax = £100. Quite a chunk in a month where I’ve moved house.

I said a number of unprintable words at this point, distinctly unimpressed. At this point I still believed – as is apparently engraved on my heart never to be forgotten – that Council Tax runs from March to December, skipping January and February. Also, my my council tax is a bit more than £40/month, so the £40 made no sense for a missed payment.

So I forgot about it for a while (Hearing wasn’t until March) before sending an email. “I have”, I said in my email,
“now moved house. I now live [HERE], if you could cancel my ‘accounty thing’ with you, that would be handy. Incidentally, I’ve recieved a court summons. If you could also give me a breakdown of where I missed the payment that would be useful”.

They got back within a couple of hours.

Like many things engraved as mentioned above, it is no longer true. KV doesn’t heart DC 4evar, we will forget what happens when war is declared, and council tax runs from April to January. However, being a muppet, I can never remember how much the payment is, and so over the course of 2006 I had almost – but not quite – overpaid enough to cater for the missed month. I owed £40.

But, since I was moving out, I didn’t need to pay for March. They would recalculate, and they would send me a letter.

They did.

Because the calculation was wrong, the summons was invalid and I don’t need to pay the £60. Because I didn’t need to pay for March, I get some money taken off my bill. This entirely wipes out the £40. Because I overpaid, Bedford Council now owe me £23.

Which is a decent result from a court summons.