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OK, if you like giant mechs this is probably for you, but I suspect that most of my friends who are into giant mechs already have most of the stuff here:


is a space opera set in the 31st Century, a future where humanity has spread to the stars and spawned titanic interstellar empires. Each nation in this factional, militarized universe controls hundreds of worlds spanning a thousand light years. Against a backdrop of Machiavellian politics, armies of BattleMechs, "tanks on legs," clash across the colonized planets of the Inner Sphere. Mercenaries are the wild card that can tip the balance in combat. Running the razor's edge between legend and destruction, MechWarriors possess the necessary skills and luck to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Initially published in 1984 as a FASA board game, BattleTech has become a multimedia franchise, with novels, computer games, toys, miniatures, and a roleplaying version that has gone through several editions from diverse publishers. This offer features the 2006 Classic BattleTech RPG from Catalyst Game Labs (originally published by FASA in 1999 as MechWarrior Third Edition).

We provide each ebook complete in .PDF (Portable Document Format). Like all Bundle of Holding titles, these books have NO DRM (Digital Restrictions Management), and our customers are entitled to move them freely among all their ereaders.

Ten percent of each purchase (after gateway fees) goes to this offer's designated charity, the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The total retail value of the titles in this offer at launch is US$106.50. Customers who pay just US$11.95 get all four titles in our Warrior's Collection (retail value $51) as DRM-free .PDF ebooks, including the complete Classic BattleTech RPG rulebook from 2006 (retail price $18; originally published in 1999 as MechWarrior Third Edition) and three Field Manuals: Mercenaries (Revised), Crusader Clans, and Warden Clans (retail $11 apiece).

Those who pay more than the threshold (average) price, which is set at $22.95 to start, also get our entire Gamemaster's Collection with five more titles (retail value $55.50) drawn from all three editions of the MechWarrior / Classic BattleTech RPG support line:

  • Interstellar Players (retail $18): The hidden organizations and societies that secretly influence interstellar events.
  • Sourcebooks for three of the great Successor Houses of the Inner Sphere: Kurita (The Draconis Combine) (retail $7.50), Marik (The Free Worlds League) (retail $15), and Steiner (The Lyran Commonwealth) (retail $7.50).
  • Periphery First Edition (retail $7.50): The many small and unorganized yet pivotal kingdoms and alliances at the fringe of the Inner Sphere.

At least one more title will be added after launch. When a title is added after launch, ALL customers who previously purchased the bundle automatically receive the newly added title, REGARDLESS of whether or not they paid more than average. This is their reward for buying early.

Not really my cup of tea, but I've seen most of these books at one time or another and you're definitely getting a lot for your money. But as usual I need to stress I'm not going to be paying for this stuff, if you are your mileage may vary.

ffutures: (Default)
..I didn't buy, because the Cash Converters shop I saw it in wanted £100+ and it had internal dust and what might have been slight fungus.

Tair-33, 300mm f4.5 with Kiev 80 mount for 6x6cm SLR. Huge heavy bugger. Annoyingly they didn't have the camera itself, I've always had a soft spot for them.

If anyone actually wants one of these, it's the Cash Converters shop in Kentish Town road - it may be on their web site too. They had no idea what it was at all, just look for Russian Lens and a price a bit over £100
ffutures: steapunk dalek (Dalek)
I thought of this today - unfortunately I wrote the game setting, the automata part of Forgotten Futures IX, in 2003 and it's a bit late to retro-fit it, especially since the name of an automaton there contradicts it. Maybe someone else can use it for a steampunk book or something, if someone hasn't got there first:

Historically the budget for the first British military steam automata was slipped past the Treasury as purchase of "improved mobile tea urns for field use." When the cost passed £2000 questions were asked in Parliament, and a committee of MPs visited the factory to investigate. The prototype automaton was hastily fitted with a hot water spigot and a punched disk of instructions for making tea. The MPs were delighted and actually suggested that it might be a good idea to teach them to fire guns too, for emergencies.

This incident led to two traditions:
  • All British military automata are built to make tea, if only by having a small electrically-heated pot built in somewhere.
  • British soldiers (and those of many other nations) refer to automata as "urns," "samovars," or the equivalent. Popular automata are often nicknamed "Ernie" in Britain.

Unfortunately the main military automaton in my game was specifically called "Automaton Atkins," Tommy to his squad, so it really doesn't fit in terribly well. But if someone else wants to use this please feel free - some credit would be nice though!

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Today was interesting - I got six more of the little USB temperature sensor / recorders, a Nikon SB-25 electronic flash (works but most of the switch labels etc. are all but worn away), an "impossible" gizmo for taking a photo of a smartphone screen onto their polaroid-ish film (seems to work but no film), and a copy of Randall Munroe's "Thing Explainer". Total spent £16 including admission to two sites and a cup of coffee, so I'm well pleased!
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The White Dwarf stuff has been taken down, apparently because I told Games Workshop and they went corporate on their asses. A shame, in a way, but this material still belongs to GW or individual creators, and some has been recycled in other products from other publishers. Putting it on line could impact sales or make it more difficult to do this.
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Loren Wiseman, co-founder of Game Designers Workshop and one of the developers of the SF RPG Traveller and Space 1889, and the near-future RPG Twilight 2000, apparently died on Wednesday.


update - apparently he'd been crowd-funding medical treatment for several years due to blood pressure, diabetes, and heart surgery.

update - Wikipedia is now showing his birth date as 1951.
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Does anyone know who to send DMCA notices to at archive.org? Someone has uploaded White Dwarf issues 1-100 containing quite a lot of my work, among many, many others. I've sent an email to their general contact address, just hope it will do.
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I'd like to use my iPhone camera (looking down a microscope) as the source of video and my iPad to receive it via Wifi - I would have thought that Facetime would be the way to do it, but all of the examples I can find on setting it up are for messages between two different user. Any suggestions? Doesn't need to be Facetime if there's a better alternative!

Later - I've found an app called Epoccam that sends video from the iPhone or iPad to a PC or Mac, that'll do almost as well. There's an annoying on-screen logo on the receiving computer, but it's good enough. But if someone knows something better...
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One of the car boot sales I often go to is in Battersea, a couple of hundred yards from Battersea Park. Usually I take the bus from a stop near the venue, but a couple of weeks ago the indicator said there wouldn't be another bus for ages, so I decided to walk instead, and on impulse cut through the park. Which would be much more fun on a sunny day, but never mind. One edge of the park is by the Thames, and when I got there I found this, which I either didn't know about or had forgotten existed:

big pictures )

I really must go back in brighter weather and get some better pictures.
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This is something I don't know much about - games designed with two players in mind, either a referee with a single player, or two players in a cooperative game with no referee as such. It's tied in to Valentine's Day and only available until next Monday.


"This Valentine offer of two-player RPGs runs for one week only, through Monday, February 20. Each of these RPGs is intended for two players, or for a Gamemaster and one solitary player character. Some of these duets, like the Romance Trilogy from Emily Care Boss, are ideal for an intimate Valentine's Day experience with your significant other. Then again, others emphasize confrontation, rebellion, and horror. (One game has a step in its turn sequence called "Inflict Pain and Suffering.") Maybe these could work for some relationships; we don't judge. The point is, this bargain-priced offer gives you many ways to have fun with just one other player.

We provide each ebook complete in .PDF (Portable Document Format). Like all Bundle of Holding titles, these books have NO DRM (Digital Restrictions Management), and our customers are entitled to move them freely among all their ereaders.

Ten percent of each purchase (after gateway fees) goes to this offer's designated charity, Human Rights Watch.

About half these games have appeared in past Bundle offers. Most of the new games are in our low-priced Starter Collection, which presents five titles (total retail value $37) for just US$7.95:

  • Romance Trilogy (Black and Green Games, retail price $10): Newly updated versions of Breaking the Ice, Shooting the Moon, and Under My Skin, the groundbreaking "Three Quick Games About the Human Heart" by Emily Care Boss.
  • A Single Moment (TAGSessions, retail $8): A life-and-death narrative battle between samurai, and the past events that brought them here. Additional playsets translate the drama to the Wild West, medieval England, and even romantic comedy. Includes Five Single Playsets (Riverhouse Games, retail $1), which adapts the system to new settings.
  • Stories From the Grave (Spectrum Games, retail $10): Anthology-based horror (think EC Comics, The Twilight Zone, and Creepshow) for a GM and one foredoomed protagonist.
  • Mars Colony (TCK Roleplaying, retail $8): A political struggle for the salvation of an isolated outpost. (Originally presented in our September 2013 Indie Treasure Trove.)

Those who pay more than the threshold (average) price, which is set at $16.95 to start, also receive our entire Bonus Collection with five more titles (mostly drawn from past offers) worth an additional $57:

  • Scarlet Heroes (Sine Nomine Publishing, retail $15): Both a standalone old-school game and an overlay for your favorite retroclone, Scarlet Heroes lets you run any published fantasy adventure, unaltered, with just one player. From Kevin Crawford, designer of Stars Without Number. (From the November 2014 Old School Revival +2.)
  • Showdown (Dark Omen Games, retail $15): A tense card-based confrontation between longtime enemies where victory always brings great cost. (New in this offer.)
  • Macabre Tales (Spectrum Games, retail $13): A Cthulhu Mythos experience that uses dominoes to create a tense, fiercely accurate simulation of HP Lovecraft's stories. Dominoes not included. (From the October 2014 Bundle of Tentacles +2.)
  • Don't Rest Your Head (Evil Hat, retail $5): An insomniac in Mad City struggles against monsters both real and imagined. (From the October 2013 Bundle of Nerves.)
  • Beast Hunters (Berengad Games, retail $5): Stalk and fight monsters that threaten your people. When you defeat them, use their blood to ink tattoos on your skin and gain their power. (From the March 2014 Fantastic Valor collection.)
At least one more title will be added at some point after the launch: "When a title is added after launch, ALL customers who previously purchased the bundle automatically receive the newly added title, REGARDLESS of whether or not they paid more than average. This is their reward for buying early."

I'll be taking a look at this but doubt I'll be using them much, it really isn't my style of play - I seem to work better with larger groups. But if you like the idea of one on one play this may be a very interesting offering, and it looks like you get a reasonable amount for the money. As usual I have to add that I don't have to pay for this stuff, if you do your mileage may vary.
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 ...it's snowing.

Fortunately I'm not planning to go out today. But that's because I have guests coming. Now I'm wondering how many will actually turn up...
ffutures: (Default)
This is another of the "old school" adventure offerings, e.g. dungeon-bashing and not really my cup of tea, but as usual you do appear to get a lot for your money:


"This offer presents over a dozen Old School dungeon crawls from Expeditious Retreat Press. The long-running Advanced Adventures series is one of the most popular lines founded in the early days of the Old School Revival. These short adventure modules are easy to run, ready to play, and fit easily into any ongoing fantasy RPG campaign. They're nominally written for OSRIC, the free "Old School Reference & Index Compilation" OGL retro-clone of (as OSR designers must coyly phrase it) "the world's most popular fantasy roleplaying game." For this offer Expeditious Retreat owner Joseph Browning has selected over a dozen top AA modules, grouped here by theme and character level, that let your player characters ramp smoothly from level-1 zeroes to level-10 heroes.

We provide each ebook complete in .PDF (Portable Document Format). Like all Bundle of Holding titles, these books have NO DRM (Digital Restrictions Management), and our customers are entitled to move them freely among all their ereaders.

Ten percent of each purchase (after gateway fees) goes to this offer's designated charity, Reading is Fundamental.

The total retail value of the titles in this offer at launch is US$86. Customers who pay just US$5.95 get all six titles in our Starter Collection (retail value $37) as DRM-free .PDFs, including the First Frontiers set of introductory modules (AA28 Redtooth Ridge, AA30 To End the Rising, and AA13 White Dragon Run, retail price $6 each) and the Shadowvein trilogy for levels 2-5: AA01 The Pod-Caverns of the Sinister Shroom (retail $6), AA23 Down the Shadowvein (retail $7), and AA24 The Mouth of the Shadowvein (retail $6). (We previously presented Pod-Caverns in the November 2015 Old School Revival +4.)

Those who pay more than the threshold (average) price, which is set at $14.95 to start, also get our entire Bonus Collection with eight more titles worth an additional $49:

  • Three modules of Arcane Weirdness for levels 3-6: AA17 The Frozen Wave Satsuma, AA06 Chasm of the Damned, and AA26 The Witch Mounds (retail $6 apiece)
  • Tournament module AA21 The Obsidian Sands of Syncrates (levels 4-7, retail $7)
  • Two Straight-Up Dungeon Crawls for levels 5-10: AA12 The Barrow Mound of Gravemoor and AA03 The Curse of the Witch Head (retail $6 apiece)
  • And finally, two Serious Challenges for levels 6-10: AA10 The Lost Keys of Solitude and AA20 The Riddle of Anadi (retail $6 apiece)
At least one more item will be added after launch: "When a title is added after launch, ALL customers who previously purchased the bundle automatically receive the newly added title, REGARDLESS of whether or not they paid more than average. This is their reward for buying early."

This really isn't my cup of tea, but if you're nostalgic for the good old days(?) of ten-foot poles and THACO this might be your cup of tea. As usual YMMV...
ffutures: (Default)
So - looks like the Freedompop account is meeting my needs fairly well.

It gives me 200 MB data, 200 texts, and 200 minutes of calls a month free of charge, with no rental etc.

With six days to go of my first month I still have 195 minutes, 193 texts, and 148mb of data. Given how few calls / texts I make, I was really only worrying about the data, but I've not been especially frugal about using it if I needed something online, so hopefully I'm going to be OK. Of course I don't tweet, don't do snapchat, prefer to listen to music with a proper amp and speakers, etc. etc., so a lot of the data-intensive stuff is passing me by. Fingers crossed I'll be OK anyway.
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It appears to be fixed! Just running through a cycle now, but so far it's OK. A combination of a dodgy mains cable plus the heater element died. A total of four hours waiting plus 3/4 hour or so to do the job. A bit of a change from last time, six visits over a month or so!
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I have friends coming over on Saturday, including someone who is a vegetarian and allergic to tomatoes. I thought I might try my hand at a tomato-free pizza. Does a pizza bread base with caramelised onions, peppers, and say goat cheese sound OK?

ffutures: (Default)
The Cardscan software won't install on a virtual 32-bit XP machine at all - it keeps trying to do something with net framework which repeats again and again, I shut it down after 20 minutes. I'll just have to sell it as untested with a note about the 64-bit incompatibility.

If I was in the market for something like this I definitely wouldn't buy a more recent Cardscan scanner, since they never did fairly basic support stuff that would have meant it was still usable. How long before the current version is abandoned?

Never mind, I'm not going to lose money on it since I'll be starting at the price I paid for it.
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 Engineer can't make it due to illness, so rescheduled to the 22nd. No worries - this is preventative maintenance, the boiler is working, and they are usually pretty good about appointments so one glitch isn't a huge problem; it lets me get on with other things today. Tomorrow there's the fun world of washing machine servicing to look forward to...
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I mentioned that one of the things I picked up was a Dymo business card scanner. It turns out that this is possibly the worst supported scanner I've ever heard of. The drivers don't work under 64-bit versions of Windows, they knew it since 2005, and never did anything about it before it was discontinued. There's also no Mac version of the software. Their solution to both is to sell you the "professional" version which is eye-wateringly expensive, or suggest you use a 32-bit operating system instead. Oh, and forget Linux, unless I'm missing something. Since I don't actually need a business card scanner this isn't a huge problem for me, but I've wasted most of an hour trying to get the damn thing to work so I can say so before selling it, and am now just a little bit annoyed.

I'm going to try to install it onto the virtual XP environment I have on this PC, but it's crap at working with USB devices. Or I may just start it off cheap and hope someone wants to take a chance on it.

But neither is going to happen tonight, because tomorrow I have my annual central heating boiler service, and they can't give me a time of arrival, it could be any time from 8 AM to 5 PM. To add to my annoyance, they've got my mobile phone number wrong on the booking confirmation, and I will have to phone first thing to make sure that the engineer doesn't try that and give up...

Meanwhile my washing machine has died again - my earth leakage breaker tripped last night while the washing machine, dish washer and microwave were running, I eventually tracked the problem back to the washing machine. The third time I tried to get it running the 32A breaker tripped, although no other appliances were on, so I've given it up and requested assistance. Allegedly the service guy for that will come on Wednesday. Last time it took a month and six scheduled appointments before they got the bugger working, I have a feeling that this time round will not be a picnic either... I think that I may never buy Hotpoint again after this.
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The 17" iMac G4 700mhz is now 1GB RAM and has WiFi - the memory arrived from Hong Kong this morning and I just installed that and the Airport card from the iBook G3, and it all works. Why anyone would want 11b wireless is another matter; the card doesn't do anything else, so WiFi will be slow and insecure, but I'll make that clear in the description when I list it on eBay - probably won't be for a week or so since I have a LOT happening next week.

And as usual I say "Never again" - they don't make huge profits, they're a ton of work, and I really don't need something that size sitting around waiting to sell. Which probably means I'll pick up another tomorrow...

Talking of which, someone had Apple Power G5 towers for £15 at the boot fair I went to today. Definitely good value, assuming they power up, and MUCH more powerful than any G4, but the combination of size and weight, huge power consumption, still not running modern software, and not being cute like the iMac G4 meant that I passed - I was already carrying enough that I wouldn't have been able to get one home anyway. Maybe another time, but they really don't push my buttons in the same way as the iMac G4.
ffutures: steapunk dalek (Dalek)

Several years ago I promised [personal profile] selenak that I would write a Beatles story. It took a lot longer than I expected. This is a crossover between Doctor Who, Torchwood and the film Help! (1965), in which the Beatles played a fictionalised version of themselves. While the Beatles (and some other real people) appear in this story, it is the fictionalised versions that are portrayed in this story, not the real people. Major spoilers for Help! if it’s actually possible to spoil a 50+ year old film, and a lot of plot derailing.


All characters belong to the Beatles etc., not to me, and there is no intent to infringe on their copyright or deprive them of income. Many thanks to Selenak for help with some of the details - I hope you think it's been worth the wait.

In Torchwood / Doctor Who terms this is VERY wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey, and thinking too much about the continuity will just give you a headache…

Comments please before I post to archives

10000 words! )


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