New Flat Adventures, Season Three Episode Four Part One – The Phantom Swipecard

There is a black screen, which resolves into a patch of tarmac. A red london bus drives over it, and the camera pans to follow it, as the opening of Dire Straits’ “Telegraph Road” starts to play.

Fading in over the top, as the red london bus speeds though the rain of a black and white city – London, obviously – the lead titles fade in and out.

“The New Flat Adventures”

by Nicholas Avenell

Episode 4.

Swiped Cards.

As the song ends, we are at the large tower block “Landmark Heights”, where our story is contained. We pan up the building in a helicoptor shot until we get to the 17th floor, going around the flat so we can see the classic London skyline far behind the tower, The Dome, Canary Wharf, the Girkin and the London Eye as we get to the crecendo.

Then there is slience, and we pan back down the building with the slowly rising soundtrack of the rain replacing Knopfler’s guitar. We’re at ground level. There is a big black GATE in front of you.

It’s raining.

> Examine gate.

The GATES are large and black and in three parts. Directly in front of you is a cast iron SIDE GATE, suitable for a person to walk though. Beyond it you can see wet wooden decking, lights and a palm tree silloetted against them. To the right is a DRIVERS GATE which will swing wide open for a car to get though, and between them is a PILLER containing some kind of button matrix.

It’s raining.

> open SIDE GATE.

The side gate is locked. What kind of adventure game do you think this is?

It’s raining.


The drivers gate is locked.

It’s raining.

> UP

Your horoscope for today mentioned freezing your tounge to the back of a speeding bus. Being impaled upon a spike was strictly for Virgos. However, you decide not to push your luck.

> examine pillar

The pillar contains a MATRIX of buttons 0 to 9, hash and star. It also contains an Engraving. The Engraving states that the gods of PORTERdom can be summoned by the incarnation “000#”, or that you can dial the number of the flat you request access to and they can let you in. It all seems so optimistic for so early in the puzzle.

> Dial 1704.

As if by magic, nothing happens.

> Wait.

Time passes, and yet nothing happens.

> Dial 000#

Nothing happens.

> Wait.

Worlds collide, stars are born and die, the poetry of the universe continues its rhyme and meter with or without your observation, in a delecate ballet that has been playing for eons and will continue long after your bones are crumbled into dust and even Mousetrap’s stopped running. Yet, outside one black gate in Hackney, absolutely nothing at all happens.

Thorin sits and sings about gold.

> examine Thorin

Kids today have no respect for the classics.

I cannot see THORIN here.

It’s still raining.

> Look

You are standing outside a big black gate which prevents your entry into the warm and welcoming giant pink tower of flats beyond. You can see though the window into the reception area, there is a PORTER looking at a security system.

> Wave at PORTER

You do not have a Wave invite.

> Gesture at PORTER

The porter has noticed you. You picked the correct gesture, apparently, as he is opening the gate.


> In

You are standing on decking which leads to the front of Landmark Heights. There is more decking here. Ahead is a small bridge over a river of rocks that serves no apparent purpose other than to frustrate pushchair users, cyclists and the disabled.

It is raining.

You can go South.

> Cross bridge.

You have not come to it yet.

> S

Your way is blocked by a pointless bridge.

> Cross Bridge.

Looks perfectly civil to me.

> S

Your way is blocked by a pointless bridge.

> Up

You are atop the bridge.

> Down

You are not atop the bridge.

> S

Your way is blocked by a pointless bridge.

It is raining.

> Up

You are atop the bridge.

> S

You are in front of some double doors.

> Open doors

They are locked.

It is raining.

> Examine doors

They are locked. There is a swipe-card access system here.

> I

You have no swipe card, some tea, a repaired mobile phone and a cold.

> Wave at Porter

You have no wa… no, done that joke. The porter lets you in.

It is no longer raining.

> Ask Porter about Swipe Cards

The porter explains that swipe cards are available to buy, and that you should have got some when you moved in, but your landlord hasn’t paid for them.

> Phone landlord

The landlord promises to buy the swipecards.

> Wait

You wait.

Time passes.

The adventure will be continued.


New Flat Adventures, Season Three Episode Three

There is a Very Loud Noise. Someone is driving a piledriver though your skull. There is a tribe of pigmy gnomes playing “Smooth Criminal” using your head as a xylophone. Good morning player, you have scored 0 out of a maximum 120 points for today.

> Look

It is dark. There is no light. There is a loud noise.

> Open eyes

It is not dark. There is too much light. Your eyes are pierced on the rays of the sun like vision-kebabs. There is a loud noise.

[Bedroom. From the bed]

You are in a very bright room, domainated by an unmade bed which you are laying on, and partially in. To your left is an ALARM CLOCK on a table.

> Turn off alarm clock

The ALARM CLOCK is not ringing.

> Up


You are in a very bright room, domainated by an unmade bed. On a table is an ALARM CLOCK. Beside the bed is a PILE OF CLOTHES. The PILE OF CLOTHES is making a loud noise.

> Pick up clothes

You are holding the CLOTHES

> Wear clothes

You are wearing the CLOTHES. You have: a set of KEYS, an IPHONE, a WALLET and NO TEA. The IPHONE is making a loud noise.

> Examine iPhone.

7th July: iSmash by scribbletaylor, on Flickr/a
7th July: iSmash by scribbletaylor, on Flickr

The IPHONE is alarming. These are the reasons it is alarming: (a) It is making a loud noise in order to awaken you. (b) There is a spiderweb crack centred halfway down the left hand side, stretching across the entire screen.

> Silence iPhone.

The IPHONE is now 50% less alarming.

In that the IPHONE is still BROKEN.

> Go to Carphone Warehouse

You are in a shop. There are laminate wooden floors, lots of technology, and a HELPFUL PERSON.

> Show iPhone to Helpful Person

“Am I supposed to be impressed?”

> Give give iPhone to Helpful Person




> Wait

Time passes. The Helpful Person gives you a replacement PHONE.

> Examine phone

It’s got fifteen buttons, a small screen, and is brown and beige. It is not an IPHONE.

> 🙁

Well, you shouldn’t have broken it then.

> Wait.

Time passes. The Helpful Person sits down and sings about gold.

> Wait for three weeks.

Time passes slowly without an iPhone. The colour is removed from your world. You have no games to play, no internet to muck around on, even twitter loses its shine. Your world is a drab place, you are looking at your shoes. What do you do?

> I press the button again.

No! Forget about the button, you are looking at your shoes.

> I buy a new pair of… hang on, this is the wrong sketch. Also, I’ve borrowed an N95 from Ciaran, so I do have internet and twitter.

You have NO IPHONE.

> Noted.

The HELPFUL PERSON gives you a replacement iPhone.

> Install Sim

You install the Sim. You have an iPhone again.

> Turn on iPhone, listen to music.

The IPHONE won’t work until you connect it to ITUNES.

> How long until I can go home?


> Wait

You wait.

Time passes.


New Flat Adventures Season Two, Episode Two

There’s a cut-scene as a week passes, and we’re on the Saturday after we’ve moved in. I’ve skipped over some puzzles, like "planning how to get to work", "how to get all the books on the bookshelves" (which is a substandard tetris-ripoff of a minigame at most), and "How to cook bolognaise when only one hob gets hot enough to boil or fry anything", but yesterday, this happened.

Current inventory: Nothing.

A credit card has been delivered to the MAILBOX in the hallway, but the MAILBOX KEY is mising.


You are in a hallway. There is a redundant array of inexpensive MAILBOXEN in front of you. They are all blue. They are numbered with a selection of the possible numbers from one hundred to one thousand nine hundred and four. They are all locked.

> Examine box 1704

It’s blue. You can see a NEWSPAPER inside.

> Talk to PORTER.

You see no PORTER. There is a SUBSTITUTE PORTER here.



> Thank porter. Take key.

There is no PORTER here.

> Thank substitute porter. Take key.


> Open mailbox with key.

Opening MAILBOX 1704 with MAILBOX SKELETON KEY. That doesn’t work.

> What?

That doesn’t work.

> Return Key


> Examine Mailbox.

It’s blue. You can see a NEWSPAPER inside.

> Examine Mailbox slot.

Your fingers will just about fit inside.

> pick up NEWSPAPER.

There is no need to shout. You have a copy of Hackney Today.

> Examine MAILBOX

It’s blue. You can see a PIZZA LEAFLET inside.

> Pick up leaflet.


> Examine Mailbox

It is blue. You can see a ENVELOPE inside.

> Pick up Envelope.

You cannot get a grip.

> Up.

You are in your flat.

> Drop mail.

You have nothing.

> Look.

You see a PIZZA LEAFLET, a NEWSPAPER and nothing useful. A spark of INSPIRATION floats by.

> Get inspiration.


> Look

You see a SPATULA and some other stuff.

> Take tongs and spatula.

You have a SPATULA.

> Down

You are in a hallway. There is a redundant array of inexpensive MAILBOXEN in front of you. They are all blue. They are numbered with a selection of the possible numbers from one hundred to one thousand nine hundred and four. They are all locked.

> Use spatula on mailbox.

After a short amount of time, you have an ENVELOPE for someone else, and an ADVERT for european style hair styling and waxing from as shop called "Ibiza" down the road.

> Examine Mailbox

It is blue. You can see a LARGE FLAT ENVELOPE inside.

> Take Large Envelope

You can’t get a grip with the SPATULA either.

> Up.

You are in your flat.

> Drop Mail

You have a SPATULA.

> Look

You can see some mail, a roll of STICKYBACK PLASTIC, some STRING and a PAPERCLIP.

> Pick up sellotape and string and paperclip.


> Examine Sellotape


> Examine Sellotape


> Examine Sellotape

You can’t make me, you know. I *like* calling it STICKYBACK PLASTIC.

> Noted.

Good. Next?

> Down

You are in a hallway. There is a redundant array of inexpensive MAILBOXEN in front of you. They are all blue. They are numbered with a selection of the possible numbers from one hundred to one thousand nine hundred and four. They are all locked.

> Use sellotape and string on spatula.

Done. You now have a MACGYVERIAN DEVICE instead of a SPATULA. There is a PORTER here.

> Use device on Mailbox.

Before you do so, the PORTER hands you a MAILBOX KEY.

> Use Key on Mailbox.

You do so. There is an ANTICLIMAX here.





New Flat Adventures Season Two, Episode One

(Cross-posted from another place, because someone asked me why I wasn’t putting them here, and I have no good reason)

Last time I got a new flat, I flooded the floor and roasted the manual to the new oven.

This time, nothing in the flat is new.

And this time, I have an Easy To Use Boiler.

It has no instructions or labels. It has icons.

It has:

  • A dial of the numbers one to twenty four, with pegs around it in the state of Up or Down.
  • A rotary dial with an icon of a square wave.
  • A rotary dial with an icon of a set of ineffective staple removers.
  • A three state dial with the following possible values: Snowflake, Null, Lightbulb.
  • An icon of a crossed out flame, next to a red light, which is off.
  • A button.
  • An Exciting Rotary Monitor with a black line and and a red line, with the scale in degrees centigrade, in black.

In the state when I arrived, all the dials around the clock are in state Down, square wave is all the way left, staple removers are somewhere in a middle, and we are in state lightbulb. There is no hot water.

Also, I’ve been moving boxes for two days, I need a shower. So. I recognise this, for I’ve played graphic adventures before. This is a Puzzle.

Now, I’ve solved part one of the puzzle, which was that the two rotary dials only have one actual turny-thing between them, and I had to repair the other broken turny-thing with bluetac (acquired as part of a previous puzzle). Traditionally, I should work out what they symbols represent, realise the connection between them, and set the machine to the perfect settings so the hot water happens and I can move into the next location.

Right. Experimentation time.

In state lightbulb, changing the state the pegs around the current time appears to do nothing, as does moving the square wave dial. Nothing I do changes the Exciting Rotary Dial.

Okay, trying with state Null. Still nothing. Must be on the wrong track. The solution is hot water, so let’s try…

So, moving to state Snowflake gives me hot water, so long as the current time pegs are down and the ineffective staple remover level is high. Mucking around with the staple remover settings gives me tepid water.

This is, obviously, a machine for the apocalypse. Lightbulb obviously represents the gods of Knowledge, whose effectiveness is – by the state of the world – currently very weak. Therefore the machine is obviously a torture device, set to cause pain and suffering to those it is pointed at.

The gods of Knowledge are weak to high pitched noises, so playing with the square wave makes their life worse, but it’s hard to know what happens when you torture a god of knowledge, so nothing appears to happen.

The snowflake setting represents the ice gods, trapped in whatever dimension this thing points at. The only way to damage them is with staple removers, which – having been invented after they were incarcerated – is the only thing they have not made themselves unharmable by. Torturing an ice god releases heat – this is thermodynamics – and applying more staple removers creates more heat.

Thus, the torture of immortal beings provides my nice hot shower.

I was hoping for a cut scene, but instead I was thrown straight into another puzzle involving shower controlled by a mixer tap.

Sometimes I wonder why I play these games at all.

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?

computing Imported From Epistula linux

New Flat Adventures – Setting up IPCop

How to set up IPCop with a Conexant ADSL Modem (AKA Dynamode ADSL PCI Modem)

  1. Put PCI Card into machine
  2. Put network card into machine
  3. Download and burn IPCop ISO
  4. Install it.
  5. Put the ADSL Settings in the ADSL Settings Page.
  1. Do something more interesting with the time you saved not [m]ucking around.
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.