2006 AFP Imported From Epistula Personal RPG

Woooo Woooo

Sliding stealthily from the planes of unexistance back into the happy joy-filled world that we call reality. This is Radio Free Aquarionics. Hi there.

You may have noticed Aquarionics vanished for a little while. DNS hicup caused by the freak coincidence of a badly made gin and tonic, a small disposable sink and about four bottles of pure white sand.

Don’t ask, you really don’t want to know.

Livejournal syndicated readers? Don’t worry your pretty little heads about it. It was a complicated thing.

Bloglines syndicated readers? That was why we got a little red exclaimation point for a little while.

So, what has happened since we went off air? Well, we’re nearly nuking Iran, which isn’t good, but on the other hand we had a sucessful meet in Cambridge, where there was curry, geekery and stuff.

Ah, Cambridge. How I miss living in Cambridge. Land of Bridges, Cams, Kams, Reality Checkpoints, CB1

And I was convinced to try something new. A New, Exciting thing. All my friends were trying it, and the first one was free, apparently, but I said “No”, for I am true and knew it would end up putting me on a slippery slope.

“But it’s fun” they claimed, their arms drifting around me, “And loads of people you know already do it.”

“And”, they added, knowing my weak points as they do so often, “You’ll have an excuse to go to Cambridge more often.”

So yeah, I’m going to be trying this LARP thing.

I am a weak, weak man.

Imported From Epistula


So, I mentioned that we had a squatter problem here at Catrion towers, and they were evicted. The tale can now be fully told.

When we arrived, there were squatters. Mid-May they were evicted by the letting agents. So fine, so hoopy.

They came back.

Not immediatly, but after a couple of weeks they returned for another fortnight and were gone again, since I told Vanderpumps – the letting agents – they were back (…and then told them Vanderpumps were coming), They left, leaving all the windows open.

I phoned Vanderpumps, and said all the windows were open, it was the wettest week this year, and could they send someone with a key to close them? They said they would, they didn’t. What happened? The squatters returned though the window. My suprise was immeasureable, and so I gave up. They are not the Worst upstairs-neighbours++… I’ve ever had, apart from the occasional 3am shouting match all was well. Oh, apart from the assurance that “Whatever happens up there, don’t worry, you’ll be safe”, the point where the bloke stabbed himself in the arm because he was so angry at her (!!!) and stuff. Besides, I sympathise slightly. Both of them have fallen though the cracks in the system. The girl (and this is purely based on talking to her, but I’m reasonably good at noticing when people are lying to me) can’t get beneift (No fixed abode) and certianly can’t summon up the cash for a deposit. They have no idea where to go to fix this, or how to begin. So, while they were no trouble I left them alone, and they left us alone.

This was somewhat modified last weekend when we got back from London to discover all their windows smashed, and complaints from the landlord. Enter Peter.

Peter is the Landlord of the flat next door to theres (This is a semi-detached house, each floor of each house is rented out), and since his tenants are moving out, he wasn’t terribly happy with the idea of having to try to let a house next door to one in the state ours is in. We have absolutly no clout with Vanderpumps at all. We can’t afford to move out, We have another four months left on the contract before we can anyway. Peter is a landlord with several properties. He does have clout. When he says “I’m looking for a new letting agent. Go jump” Vanderpumps say “How high?”. Peter visited us a couple of days ago. I mentioned our landlord and his lack of interest in the place, the squatters, the inability of Vanderpumps to do any of this, and lots of other stuff (I’d spent the day fighting with DHTML. I should have worked out my irritation on someone else. Mostly because I had no idea of our landlords name – I realised later – and for all I knew the landlord of #64 might be ours as well. Fortunatly he wasn’t, really). He said he’d talk to Vanderpumps, though he didn’t have any properties with them.

He did. That was Tuesday. Within two days the entire flat is boarded up (which looks crap, but is better than broken windows) with a large notice on the door saying “Keep Out! 24 Hour Patrol! This building is empty!” (Those last two sentances are interesting, but anyway) until the Landlord deigns to do anything about it. My only problem now is that the sign reads “This building is empty”, and I’m slightly worried that the postman will assume they mean our flat as well.

Ah well.

Gaming Imported From Epistula

Catrion Towers as The Sims

Imported From Epistula Personal

The Saga Of The Shelving

The Saga Of The Shelving

There once was a house on a hill.

The house was neither large nor overly small, and was in fact just large enough for two people to live happily in them.

Or, in fact, for one person to live in comparative happiness while the other slowly began to hate the world, one person at a time.

Yet I digress.

So, we rented this place as of exactly one month ago. When we got it, it had no furniture at all and we spent a week sleeping on camp beds (LoneCat) and a Futon (Me) (The futon was in the front room, which has the twin benefits of facing a bright street lamp during the night and East during the morning). Yet after a while, we acquired furniture: Sofa, beds, table, chairs and a sideboard. Also after a while, my desk and bookshelf (The only furniture I own) were withdrawn from storage. This means that between two book-geeks with many three-quarter metre cubed boxes of books between them had one (1, singular, uno, two divided by two) small bookshelf.

Except that when it was taken down, the bookshelf base had split, leaving us with Zero, Zap, Nada and no book-cases that would actually hold books without falling over, and a lot of short planks of wood.

My solution was two-fold, first was to create shelves from the planks of wood and the boxes; second was to cast “Summon Ikea” and get shelving.

So, project one then. We have four large boxes devoid of content, between and on top of the first two boxes goes the left hand side of my original bookshelf. This is held in place by the shelf-holders (metal pins) which stick out of the plank, those pins were punched though the top of the boxes, holding the shelf in place over the horizontal plane. On top of these boxes go two more boxes, with the right hand side of the shelf between those. The first shelf is then loaded with two piles of books stacked vertically to half the height of the boxes and one of the shelves of the original book-case on top of those, giving me two shelves of space, which I filled. The same stacking system is then placed on the second shelf, and a third set of two boxes is put on top of the second to weight it down. These shelves are then filled with books, CDs, DVDs, computer hardware and yet more books, while the clothes are dumped into the remaining boxes.

At this point your humble narrator wanders online to Ikea’s website.

Ikea is a company who make furniture that is rotatable and stackable. All of it. It’s mostly all wooden, it’s all designed to fit together with other Ikea furniture, and they do modular shelving units which you can erect, modify, take down, buy new bits for, make watertight, paint, climb on and otherwise abuse. It’s like what would happen if Lego made shelves, it’s great, and it attracted me because a) it’s geeky, and b) it means that when I have an actual job, I can extend it to take more Stuff.[Aftermath] So I was researching all this when from behind me came the loudest and most heart-breaking crash I have yet to experience as my entire Jerry-rigged shelving unit tipped forward and dumped Books, CDs, DVDs, Computer Hardware and yet more books upon the hard carpeted floor of my adopted bedroom.

At this point I discovered that not only was there no Ikea near Reading (or within a hundred miles, give or take), but also that I had to get to an Ikea in order to place an order. Solution One was now collapsed in an expensive heap that was going to make getting into bed complicated, and Solution Two had proven complicated. Right.

Solution 2b: Ask Parents (who have car) to go buy shelves for me from their nearest Ikea (Which is closer than mine, plus they have a car) and get them to deliver to Catrion Towers. Hah! Beat that, Fate!

Solution 1b you’ve already seen, my working station up until earlier today was three computers on a desk, each flat surface (and non-flat surfaces, such as monitor tops) piled three feet high with DVDs, books and CDs and yet more DVDs (The Yet More Books were still on the floor where Solution 1a had dumped them). This had one major up-side (It looked cool, and felt like working in an overfilled library) and two minor downsides (Lack of places to put Tea, and the fact that every so often a pile of DVDs would fall on my head). A better solution was required.

Solution 2b fell apart less literally than 1a when my parent reached Ikea and discovered that they were out of stock of some bits, and that shipping the others was going to cost more than the shelving did. By this point Shit had Gone Down and I couldn’t afford the shelving, and I certainly couldn’t afford the shipping. Thus with 1b causing occasional concussion and 2b being not to be, parents went on holiday and the shelving situation became slightly more static, with the occasional dynamism as a plank overflowing with books decided that flat surfaces were uncool, and diagonals were the way to go.

[Shelves]This morning parents bought me shelves. Yay.

The thing about flatpacks – especially easy assemble ones like these – is that I’m deeply cynical of them. I spent two years studying Design and Technology at school, and never made anything more complicated than a box with wheels. And the sides fell off that.

To say that I am bad at anything to do with wood-work is to understate quite heavily the situation. And to those who think easy assemble is just that, it’s not as easy as it looks.

Anyone who was watching the Web cam today would have seen the process of the shelves. It’s highly amusing. It started off with my careful consideration of the instructions, and then discovering they weren’t actually instructions, and that they were actually buying guides, I set forth.

Once I worked out that the staples that held in four little metal rods, and stopped me from being able to hook the shelves into place, were actually there to be removed so I could withdraw said metal rods and hook the shelves onto them, live became easier.

Me, In a mirrorSadly, this took me an hour.

The finished shelvesNevertheless, the shelves went up. The cross-brace braces the back, the little rods hold up the shelves, I have shelving once again.

I have a video of the web cam over the last day. It’s really cool. It’s also 79mb, because I lack the video-fu to make it smaller, anyone who has any great – free – ideas on this should contact me.

If I don’t post for some time, it’s because the shelf collapsed on me in the middle of the night.

Imported From Epistula

…and relax

Busy Busy Busy.

Saturday started early, when at 6am we discovered that the contract my parents were due to sign had to be witnessed. At 6am this was a complication, so instead of the Plan (which was for me & LC to wander up and do the contract thing and parents to follow after) Mum drove me up to Reading at half seven in the morning. We got to Reading. We parked. We found the place. We signed the contracts. We have a flat.

We found the flat.

I’m not sure what I can say about the new flat. To say it isn’t quite as nice as the old house is to do the old house a disservice. The carpets are uniformly horrible and stained, the paint work patchy and scratched, the kitchen cupboards are bowing, the fridge last saw daylight in the seventies, and the oven barely works (and is the type where you have to reach over the rings to turn off), and the people in the flat above are occasionally noisy. I suspect I’ll be more impressed with this as a place to live when we have furniture – this place is unfurnished – but for now by HappyBunnyometer is set to “Watership Down – Bright Eyes Bit”. So we brought a couple of boxes of my stuff down from the storage place (Getting terribly lost on the way back in), tried to find a supermarket (Getting terribly lost on the way around), and then gave up on the day and went to the AFP Green Man Meet instead, and met Marco, and a Good Time Was Had By All.

Sunday was spent waiting for LC’s parents in the morning (Who are good, because they brought LC’s Futon down as well as the rest of her stuff, so I’m not sleeping on the floor anymore until we have furniture. Not that I shall be sleeping on the floor then, but anyway. Then finding the Supermarket again (We’d managed to find Sainsbury’s the day before. Not when we were looking, natch, but when we were walking to the station to get to London. Gah). Then AdrianO wandered down with the stuff he had been storing for us, and so I had my computer back. That was Sunday.

Monday was interesting.

Monday morning I wandered out to a phone box to get our land line connected (Because Calls Are Free When You Phone BT. But not if you are on a mobile they aren’t, and a half-hour queue at 20p per minute is not a good thing). At 11:00 I put though the order. At 13:15 they sent me a text-message saying the phone line was working, and at 13:45 we got our very first wrong number. At this point it was tipping it down with rain, so I decided to do the indoor bits, like changing the address of my credit cards. Whilst doing this, I heard drips falling into the sink. Suspecting the tap to be leaking, I went to turn it off. I discovered to my surprise that the tap was not leaking. The roof was.

Now, you may think that I should not have been surprised. After all, given the description above of a flat that hasn’t been polished in a while, it wouldn’t be too surprising, right?

Yeah, but this is a ground floor flat and the roof is leaking.

So I phone Vanderpumps. “We’ll get someone over” they say.

A couple of hours later:
“This is Reading Maintenance. Someone will be over tomorrow”
“Er, the roof is starting to bulge. I’d appreciate it if you could do it today”
“I’ll see what I can do”

Pause for about a half-hour. Then:
“Hi, This is Reading Maintenance. Someone will be without in about 45 minutes. It would be quicker, but he has to pick up the keys from Tilehurst for the flat above.”
“Can’t he just ask them to let him in?”
“The flat above is vacant”
“Um”, dynamically stated your resourceful hero, “No it isn’t.”
“According to our records, 64 is vacant”
“Then it looks like Vanderpumps have a squatters problem then, doesn’t it?”
“Um” said the maintenance people “Yes. I’ll let them know”.

The previous day we were called upon by a gentlemen from upstairs, who mentioned he was moving out today and that if we wanted we could buy his furniture dirt cheap. He offered us a wardrobe and matching cabinets. Long term readers of this saga might remember that we originally wanted the flat above us – the one he is living in – and so I recognised the description of the furniture that was in that flat when we viewed it. I declined.

So, what we had suspected (after seeing the tenants – and yes, that’s judging by appearances, and I’m sorry – and the torn bit of paper on the door that mentioned squatters rights) was really true, the flat above was being squatted in.

I wasn’t surprised, really. The flat had been empty since January, mostly because the landlord has priced himself out of the market. The rent for that one is more than this one, and this one is too expensive for what it is, or rather the state it is.

Apparently, when the gentlemen – and his dog – had moved out the previous day, he had taken his washing-machine (I’m paraphrasing here. The flat – when we saw it – had had a washing machine. That will teach the landlord, because if he had accepted our original offer we’d have moved in there, and he wouldn’t be down a washing machine. But I digress) but hadn’t unplumbed it properly, flooding the back of their kitchen and then – eventually – ours. It’s repaired now, and Vanderpumps are working to evict the people above (I didn’t suggest this. They aren’t bad neighbours, they only are loud in daylight, they’re friendly and everything. As I said, I more or less knew they were squatting when we saw the notice, but it wasn’t really a problem).

So, we have a phone line (Although LC’s laptop is the only Internet connection right now until my modem makes it down. Broadband in 9 days) and we have a house, and LC has a – albeit temporary – job. Things certainly could be a lot worse.

Imported From Epistula


So, Kathy has moved to her shiny new at, and everything has finally happened to put me back in a home 🙂

Tomorrow at 9:30 I will be in the offices of Vanderpump & Wellbeloved signing my life away for the sake of a roof. This is going to require me catching a train at twenty to seven tomorrow morning (===yawn===). What this will do to the flow of Interesting And Enlightening articles spinning your way though the medium of Aquarionics, I’m not sure. It’ll be a little while before we get ADSL back. Nevertheless, I shall see you soon 🙂

Imported From Epistula


Imported From Epistula Personal


This Entry Has Been Deleted

epistula Imported From Epistula Metablog


So, Once more I’ve returned to the fictional town of Paddock Wood. I was born within five miles of here, I lived here for twenty years – give or take, what with large amounts of time in Sunderland and the last year in Cambridge, and I’m damned if I’m going to die here.

Why is it fictional? Because it never changes. In the year since I went to Cambridge, the gravel in the back garden has grown two feet into the lawn, and the signs on the Natwest in town have been painted red. And it’s always been thus. In the years I spend away, nothing changes. If I come back for a week, they’ll redo the entire town-centre.

With any luck I’ll be in Reading within the fortnight too.

Simon’s site search thing inspired me to do almost exactly the same thing with Aqcom/Epistula, the search link above (Replacing the FAQ link which wasn’t useful) works using the MySQL FullText stuff, and is whole phrase only until I can find a decent excuse for trying for MySQL 4. The related discussion on Simon’s site that wandered into the realms of Vector Placement Searching is also interesting, and something that I’m considering for [E]3, The Great Rewrite, which will work with Epistula itself being a daemon that sits and serves XML files to a waiting front-end client. This will make it easy to do the heavy data-processing stuff that perl does so much better than PHP, leaving me able to write an interface in PHP (Which I feel works better for the web-facing stuff). The daemon will probably end up being in perl, but I could see Python or C being options for it.

Of course, if I did it in Python I’d have to learn Python, and also provide the ability to import Vellum plugins to it.

What else is around? Oh, yes. The new Six Apart venture of TypePad, a hosted Moveable Type platform (which was mentioned in The Guardian) at around the same time as Dean announces the Textpattern platform, TextBox (Which was not mentioned in the Guardian). May the best system win, and soon Stuart will be announcing Hardback, the new Vellum hosted platform; and Aquarionic Industries will announce Epistulation, the new Epistula Powered hosting platform, sponsered by Snackispores, which will also not be mentioned in the Guardian.

Imported From Epistula

Gets Worse

Right, The Story So Far:

Aquarion moved out of Cambridge, looking at a flat in Reading. Flat in Reading was found, applied for and first part of deposit (£250) was paid as an Admin Fee. Aquarion stays with pol & Supermouse while references are found, this should only take a week.

A week later references are returned, and ours are bad due to reasons I don’t explain. Letting Agents will only accept the application if my parents are also responsible for the rent. Shit happens, stuff resolved, We have to open a joint bank account.

I can’t.

I can’t because in order to open an account, I need photo ID, which I don’t have. My passport is lost, my Driving licence both provisional and non-photoed, and I have no other ID save my Birth Certificate (Only acceptable for under 20 y/o, an arbitary decision which annoys me) is in storage somewhere between Reading & Kent, and all the forms I do have (Such as a letter from my existing bank – who can’t give me the account for more Reasons) arn’t accepted because they arn’t on their little black and yellow form of What The FSA Accept.

So I can’t get the account, so I can’t sign the contract, so I can’t move in, so I can’t get a permenant address in Reading, so I can’t convince the job-agencies I don’t live in Cambridge, so I can’t get a job.

Meanwhile, I’ve stayed longer with Pol & Supermouse than I intended, and am now going to go home for a while.

LC, meanwhile, may need to live within commuting distance of Northampton if she gets the job she interviewed for, which will really stuff things up. Anyway, the upshot of all this is that we will probably be abandoning the flat we reserved in Reading, and looking for a private Landlord who won’t be quite so difficult.

So if any Reading people have the website of a local paper (Or a copy of the local paper they can post to me), I’d be grateful.

Real life sucks.