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2017-07-26 09:56 am

My Worldcon Schedule

 On two panels, one on gaming, the other on fanfic. The first is well within my area of expertise, the other is something I can probably talk about though I tend not to write it.

Horror in Roleplaying Games

Thursday 18:00 - 19:00, 101c (Messukeskus)

Roleplaying games can be all about amosphere. Does dice rolling take away from the horrific feeling? What tips players and game masters have for making sure the players are immersed in the game? In short: how to scare the pants off your players!

Marcus Rowland, David Damerell, Terilee007 (M)


Genderswapping in Fan Fiction

Saturday 17:00 - 18:00, 206 (Messukeskus)

Genderswapping happens quite often in fan fiction and very often it can offer something new to the readers and even reveal aspects of the original work the reader would not have thought about otherwise. The panelists discuss the difficulties in genderswapping in fan fiction and why they like to read and write about genderswapped characters.

Hanne Martelius, Marcus Rowland, Arwen Grune

 

 

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2017-07-25 07:19 pm

Two more RPG Bundle offers - Numenara

This is one I know virtually nothing about, apart from a friend's opinion that it isn't very playable. There are two offers, one a repeat from 2014, the other new material.


Numenera Bundle

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/Numenera-2017

"This offer revives (for a second time) our May 2014 Numenera Bundle, featuring the science-fantasy tabletop roleplaying game Numenera from Monte Cook Games. A billion years in the future, explore the Ninth World to find leftover artifacts of nanotechnology, the datasphere, bio-engineered creatures, and myriad strange devices that defy understanding. The inspiration for the recent Torment: Tides of Numenera computer game from inXile Entertainment, Numenera is about discovering the wonders of eight previous worlds to improve the present and build a future. This bundle, the second revival of our May 2014 offer (previously revived in December 2014), collects the Numenera core rulebook and the supplements published in the line's first year or so. For this new resurrection we have an all-new companion, the Numenera Bundle +2 - Ninth World Discovery, with many recent supplements -- including one based on the Torment computer game.
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.
The total retail value of the titles in this offer at launch is US$70. Customers who pay just US$9.95 get all three titles in this offer's Starter Collection (retail value $25) as DRM-free .PDF ebooks, including the complete 418-page Numenera core rulebook, the Gamemaster Screen, and Cypher Collection 1.
Those who pay more than this offer's threshold (average) price, which is set at $18.95 to start, also get this offer's entire Bonus Collection with six more titles worth an additional $45:
  • Player's Guide (retail $8): The character creation rules and basic mechanics from the Numenera corebook -- a great guide for new players.
  • Ninth World Bestiary (retail $15): More than 130 lavishly illustrated and wildly imaginative creatures and characters in the Ninth World.
  • The Devil's Spine (retail $10): Three adventures in a hard-driving frame story. The terrifying devil's spine graft will claim a life, and the clock is ticking.
  • Vortex (retail $6): Monte Cook's original Gen Con 2013 Numenera launch scenario -- an ideal campaign kickoff in a mysterious temple like nothing the Ninth World has ever seen.
  • In Strange Aeons (retail $3): Incorporate cosmic horror -- the terror of unfathomable reaches of both space and time, and of incomprehensible weirdness -- into your Numenera games.
  • Artifacts and Oddities Collection 1 (retail $3): This companion to the Cypher collection presents 30 new devices and a hundred oddball phenomena to spice up your game.

Numenera Bundle +2

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/Numenera2

This Numenera Bundle +2 - Ninth World Discovery presents many recent supplements for the line, including an ebook inspired by the inXile Entertainment computer game Torment: Tides of Numenera.
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 these offers' designated charity, Human Rights Watch.
The total retail value of the titles in this offer at launch is US$105. Customers who pay just US$14.95 get all four titles in this offer's Starter Collection (retail value $47) as DRM-free .PDF ebooks, including Numenera Character Options, the Ninth World Guidebook, the Technology Compendium, and the two Maps of the Ninth World collections.
Those who pay more than this offer's threshold (average) price, which is set at $23.95 to start, also get this offer's entire Bonus Collection with five more titles worth an additional $58:
  • Torment: Tides of Numenera -- The Explorer's Guide (retail $15): Numenera inspired the recent Torment: Tides of Numenera computer game from inXile Entertainment. This 160-page book presents the computer game's setting, the region of Greater Garravia.
  • Into the Deep and Into the Night (retail $15 each): Two sourcebooks that present new frontiers in the ocean and the sky. Includes The Nightcraft (retail $3).
  • Weird Discoveries (retail $10): Ten instant adventures you can run in an evening with minimal prep.
At least one more title will be added after launch. When a title is added after launch, ALL customers who previously purchased this offer automatically receive the newly added title, REGARDLESS of whether or not they paid more than average. This is their reward for buying early.

Numenera resources




This looks very pretty, but you have to wonder about the idea that the human race and human civilization, or something like it to this extent, will survive a billion years, and then survive in a manner that basically resembles a fantasy role playing game, with bits of lost technology etc. replacing magic. My own first impression unfortunately bears out my friend's opinion - it's pretty, but it'd be a sod to run.

Having said that, there's some very good fiction out there using similar settings - Moorcock's Dancers at the End of Time and Vance's Dying Earth are obvious examples, as is Hodgson's The Night Land. It might be possible to do something with them, I'm just not convinced that this is the way to do it.

But as usual, your mileage is likely to vary.

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2017-07-25 11:31 am

Phone woes

If anyone has tried to phone me at home over the last few days, there's currently a bad fault on the line and it's almost impossible to understand what people are saying or recognise voices - as evinced by a couple of totally incomprehensible answering machine messages. BT say it ought to be fixed tomorrow.  Fortunately it doesn't seem to be causing internet problems so far.

Update - now fixed, sooner than expected.


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2017-07-23 09:35 pm

Negative? What Negative?

A plaque I found in a car boot sale (US="Swap meet") today.



Ignoring the slightly dodgy use of photographic terms, it occurs to me that we're already living in a world where a large percentage of photographers have no idea what a negative is...
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2017-07-23 09:14 am

Steaming ahead

Don't usually get up early on Sundays, but today I was making breakfast at nine, looked out of the kitchen window and saw this:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LNER_Class_A4_4488_Union_of_South_Africa

Needless to say I did not have a camera handy... It was hauling several carriages and for some reason there was a diesel engine at the tail end of the train, I suspect to provide a backup if it broke down or ran out of coal or something. I'm guessing that the summer steam excursions in and out of Paddington have started again - and it turns out to be The Cathedrals Express, on the route Paddington-Westbury-Yeovil Pen Mill, Weymouth-Southampton-Paddington

http://www.uksteam.info/tours/t17/t0723d.htm

Unfortunately it's £100+ per seat, I suppose worth it if you're a steam enthusiast but I made enough long steam journeys in my childhood to satisfy me, I think.
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2017-07-20 11:24 am

The Great Repeal Bill...

 ...seems to be an attempt to weaken most of Britain's human rights protection. There's a petition against it here:

https://speakout.38degrees.org.uk/campaigns/save-our-rights

spread the word.

gacked from [personal profile] history_monk 


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2017-07-19 12:23 am

Yongnuo 50mm f1.8

Picked up one of these lenses for my Canon a few days ago, took it out to the park and took some test photos on Tuesday. I think it's actually pretty good, and considering I got it for £30 I'm very pleased. One picture of berries is a bit out of focus, I think I simply got closer than the minimum for the lens without noticing, the rest are OK. Gallery here:

https://flic.kr/s/aHskZyx37y

I'm beginning to think more seriously about switching to Canon as my main system, but I'd want a better camera body, say 12 megapixels or better. The other thing I'd want to add is a longer zoom with some macro capability, the only other lens I've currently got is an 18-55. Whereas my most used Nikon lens is a 28-300 Tamron with macro capability. Any recommendations?
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2017-07-18 06:34 pm

Another RPG bundle offer - Rifts

This is one I'm fairly sure I'm not interested in, but it's supporting Doctors Without Borders and tastes do differ:

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/Rifts

Kevin Siembieda's Rifts® is set on a future Earth shattered by countless otherworldly invasions. This all-new collection, the debut of Palladium Books in the Bundle of Holding, is a well-rounded set of complete .PDF ebooks that give players and Game Masters everything they need for a campaign of mind-blowing, dimension-spanning adventure across a transformed North America.

Ten percent of each purchase (after gateway fees) goes to this offer's designated charity, Doctors Without Borders.

The total retail value of the titles in this offer at launch is US$82.50. Customers who pay just US$17.95 get all four titles in our Starter Collection (retail value $38.50) as DRM-free .PDF ebooks, including the complete 384-page Rifts® Ultimate Edition™ (retail price $20), plus the Rifts® Primer (retail $3), Rifts® Sourcebook One™ Revised Edition (retail $10.50), and the Game Master Kit with useful play aids and pregenerated characters (retail $5).

Those who pay more than the threshold (average) price, which is set at $24.95 to start, also get our entire Bonus Collection with four more supplements worth an additional $44, including three World Books -- Juicer Uprising™ (retail $10.50), Psyscape™ (retail $10.50), and New West™ (retail $12.50) -- and the location supplement MercTown™ (retail $10.50).

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.


I'll be honest - I own some of this system in dead tree format but I was never really that interested in the setting, and found it a bit rules-heavy. Having said that, it's one of the first true multi-genre RPG systems, and its take on putting the genres together is unusual, although not one I'd really want to run. As usual your mileage may vary.
 


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2017-07-16 10:11 pm

13th Doctor is Jodie Whittaker

Well, count nobody entirely surprised by this, after the Master = Missy thing of the last couple of series - The next Doctor will be Jodie Whittaker, an actress I know little about:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-40624288

Let's hope the plots improve a little.
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2017-07-14 09:28 pm

Now I feel REALLY stupid...

Suddenly thought of rebooting my iPhone, and immediately the phone network is working again, not a problem with Freedompop at all. I'm obviously an idiot - all I can say is that my previous mobile phones (nice dumb ones) never had this problem....
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2017-07-13 11:06 pm

Freedompop again

A while back I was fairly positive about Freedompop's free service. Unfortunately the last few days have been less than impressive; I'm getting no service, on my mobile or my separate mobile WiFi hub's SIM. And there is nothing on their site to explain what's happening.

I really don't want to start paying for cell service, but in case things don't improve - I make one or two calls and texts a month and use around 50-100mb of data. Is there a paid service for lower usage in the UK that won't break the bank?
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2017-07-11 08:51 pm

Two more RPG Bundle offers - Flying Buffalo and Oone Great City

Two more bundle offers, both aimed at FRPG games with a city setting, but adding some extras:

First, some golden oldies - the Flying Buffalo catalyst bundle, containing lots of stuff from the golden age of D&D (and in that spirit from later years):

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/Catalyst

"This all-new offer highlights the Catalyst line and other RPG ebooks from Flying Buffalo. Along with four of the Grimtooth's Traps collections of devious dungeon obstacles, this offer presents, for the first time anywhere, new .PDF scans in Buffalo's CityBook series. Compatible with any fantasy RPG, the CityBooks present dozens of individual shops, establishments, and characters, geniercally written to be added smoothly to any urban fantasy setting. Originally published from 1982 to 1997, the CityBooks featured contributions by leading designers including Larry DiTillio, Liz Danforth, Mike Stackpole, Dave Arneson, Jennell Jaquays, Greg Gorden, and many more.

This collection includes all seven CityBooks, four Grimtooth's Traps books, and the complete RPG Mercenaries, Spies, & Private Eyes. 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 RPG Creators Relief Fund.

The total retail value of the titles in this offer at launch is US$71. Customers who pay just US$7.95 get all six titles in our Starter Collection (retail value $30) as DRM-free .PDF ebooks, including the first three CityBooks (I: Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker, II: Port o' Call, and III: Deadly Nightside, retail price $5 apiece, total retail $15), plus the first two Grimtooth's books (retail $5 apiece, total retail $10) and Treasure Vault (retail $5), another new Catalyst scan.

Those who pay more than the threshold (average) price, which is set at $17.95 to start, also get our entire Bonus Collection with seven more titles worth an additional $41:

  • Mercenaries Spies & Private Eyes (retail $7): Michael Stackpole's classic action/espionage RPG inspired by Tunnels & Trolls. Includes the Adventure of the Jade Jaguar solo adventure (retail $4).
  • CityBooks IV-VII (retail $5 apiece, total retail $20): Four more sets of people and places you can easily drop into any city adventure -- IV: On the Road, V: Sideshow, VI: Up Town, and VII: King's River Bridge.
  • Grimtooth's Traps 3-4 (retail $5 apiece, total retail $10): Titled Fore and Ate (don't ask us why), these two books give you hundreds more traps to waylay dungeon delvers.

Next, one I don't know at all, the Great City Bundle

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/GreatCity

This Great City offer, a companion to the Flying Buffalo Catalyst offer now in progress, features the massive Great City Campaign Setting from 0one Games. Twice conquered by a distant empire, ruled by the incompetent son of a cruel emperor, the Great City faces upheaval. As its political factions scheme, and its monsters hunt from underground lairs, the city waits for heroes to guide its destiny. With 0one's near-systemless campaign guides, lightly ornamented with OGL/Pathfinder statistics, and its beautiful maps and bestselling blueprints (as state-of-the-art interactive .PDFs), you can easily add the Great City to any FRPG campaign.

Lou Agresta, co-designer of the Road to Revolution adventure path in this offer, wrote a July 2009 ENworld forum post about the design intent of the Great City: "The Great City Campaign Setting is specifically written as a plug-in city, so the surrounding areas (other than water to the left, mountains with monsters to the right, and dungeons under the mountain) are deliberately vague. The key aspect of the city is that it's been conquered by an overseas empire -- twice. The last time was 30 years ago, and resentments simmer, but are not presently aboil. The conquerors themselves are divided and playing factional politics. It's kind of a law-practical-serious-people conquer a chaotic-lively-deep-rooted-people sort of thing. Then there are the peoples left behind by the first occupation who did what they needed to survive. The Emperor's son rules, and he's a jackass. Nothing is in the open, but everything teeters on an edge. This is so (1) there's always lots of action and passion the player characters can interact with, and stances to either adopt or dispute, and (2) the PCs get to decide which direction -- or none -- the whole thing topples."

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 RPG Creators Relief Fund.

The total retail value of the titles in this offer at launch is US$94. Customers who pay just US$8.95 get all four titles in our Starter Collection (retail value $38) as DRM-free .PDFs, including the complete 162-page Great City Campaign Setting corebook (retail price $13), the companion Player's Guide (retail $14), and the Backdrops collection of locations (retail $11) -- plus 0one's Blueprints: The Great City (retail $2).

Those who pay more than the threshold (average) price, which is set at $19.95 to start, also get our entire Bonus Collection with three more titles worth an additional $56, including the complete six-part Road to Revolution adventure path (Pathfinder version, retail $35), Urban Creatures & Lairs (retail $14), and the beautiful Color Map Folio (retail $7).

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.


OK - I might as well be honest, I don't have a lot of use for this stuff; I don't run fantasy campaigns, and I tend to do my own design work for my own settings. The Flying Buffalo stuff is fun but a little dated, unless you're running a really old school sort of game - I also own most of it in dead tree format and haven't looked at it in decades. The Great City thing looks OK, though "great" is possibly not how I'd describe the city - it's about the size of a medieval walled town, and not an especially big one, unless I'm missing something - but does again seem to depend on you wanting to run lots of predefined encounters which is an old school sort of thing. If you like this sort of stuff it may be worth it, but I'm not entirely convinced. As usual opinions may differ.

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2017-07-09 12:53 am

Hosting of Flickr Images

Is it possible to post images to flickr then use them on other sites by a link to the image? Photobucket are in the process of blocking all 2nd party links unless you pay vast amounts of money, trying to find an alternative which won't cost a fortune.

later - sorted! Thanks to [personal profile] dewline - the method isn't quite as easy as Photobucket was, but at least it can be done.
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2017-07-03 08:33 pm

Another RPG bundle offer - Colonial Gothic

This is one I know very little about - it's a horror RPG, it's set in 18th century America, and has things like Sleepy Hollow, witches, the Indian wars, the Cthulhu Mythos, etc. etc.

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/ColonialGothic

"This new offer presents the Third Edition of the supernatural flintlock-horror tabletop roleplaying game Colonial Gothic from Rogue Games. Uncover the secret history of America's 18th-Century frontier, where monsters stalk the woods and ghosts haunt every sleepy hollow. This bargain-priced offer includes almost the entire Colonial Gothic line -- everything you need for a complete campaign of magic and mayhem in the shadows of early America.

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.

The entire Rogue Games share of this offer's proceeds goes to the charity selected by Rogue Games owner Richard Iorio II, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. "Over the weekend of June 12-14, 2015, I lost three friends in succession to suicide," Richard writes. "The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention helps you understand why this event happened and, more important, they offer comfort. They cannot take away the pain, but they can help you deal with it."

The total retail value of the titles in this offer at launch is US$94. Customers who pay just US$8.95 get all six titles in our Starter Collection (retail value $39) as DRM-free .PDF ebooks, including the complete Colonial Gothic Third Edition rulebook (retail price $10), three essential supplements (Gamemaster, Adventure, and The Player Companion, total retail $21), and the 174-page Beginnings adventure (retail $8) that kicks off the massive Flames of Freedom campaign that will encompass the entire American Revolution.

Those who pay more than the threshold (average) price, which is set at $17.95 to start, also get our entire Bonus Collection with eight more titles worth an additional $55:

  • Three sourcebooks: The Grimoire (retail $6), Gazetteer (retail $7), and Bestiary (retail $7).
  • Three setting books: Settings (retail $8), New France (retail $7 -- previously presented in our August 2013 Bundle of the Ages), and The French & Indian War (retail $8).
  • Lovecraft (retail $7): Bring the Cthulhu Mythos onto the American frontier.
  • The Templars (retail $5 -- also from our August 2013 Ages offer): Colonial Gothic's secret history of history's most secretive bunch.
At least one additional 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.

This isn't one I feel particularly attracted to, but it looks like you get a lot of stuff for your money including an entire revolutionary war campaign and lots of monsters. I think it's reasonable value, and it's supporting a worthwhile cause, but as usual your mileage may vary.

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2017-07-03 12:54 pm

A Business Essential

Just got an ad for this - and I suspect that the applications don't stop with the role playing hobby.

http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/215545/Corporate-Babble-Generator

Anyone who has worked in the corporate world for long enough will know that there is a certain type of person who likes to be…creative…with their language. Rather than saying something simple, they seem to insist on coming up with a string of words that sounds like babble and nonsense to anyone listening, yet these types lap it up. What they actually mean is up for debate…

There are several hundred million possible combinations in this generator, so there is sure to be something that helps sparks your imagination and impresses your corporate managers.

Inside you'll find...

  • 1 d10 table for the opening part of the babble
  • 6 x d100 tables full of corporate sounding words and phrases - 2 sets of 2 tables are treated as one when working out what to use.
  • A d100 table of pre-done examples to help you save time

In total this can give 10 x 100 x 100 x 200 x 200 or 4,000,000,000 (Four Billion) possible combinations

You could end up with phrases such as...

  • Our goal is to exclusively cast high-quality processes
  • Our mission statement is to exceptionally right-shore web-enabled leadership
  • We insist that you should accordingly provide access to progressive methods of empowerment
  • We insist that you should diligently transform maintainable instructions

It costs $1.99, I suspect that there are business textbooks costing twenty times as much covering essentially the same ground

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2017-07-02 09:21 pm

Fanfic Commentary - Hanging Out With Halo Jones

Requested by [personal profile] eledonecirrhosa - fanfic commentary for Hanging Out With Halo Jones - the original is here. Notes are in square brackets and bold [like this].

Hanging Out With Halo Jones - Commentary )
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2017-07-01 07:31 pm

Fanfic Commentary - Cat Chaser Chapter 1

Requested by [livejournal.com profile] whswhs on Livejournal; fanfic commentary for the first part of my story Cat Chaser. The original is here. My comments etc. are in square brackets and bold [like this]



Cat Chaser fanfic commentary )
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2017-06-30 09:30 pm

Fanfic Commentary - Who Are You Gonna Call?

Requested by [personal profile] vincentursus - DVD-style commentary on my story Who Are You Gonna Call? - the original is here
Comments are in [brackets and bold text]
Who Are You Gonna Call? Commentary )
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2017-06-29 10:02 pm

Meme - Fanfic Story Commentary

Gacked from [personal profile] legionseagle 

Pick any story I've written, or, in the case of my longer, chaptered works, any chapter from any story I've written, and comment to this post with that selection. I will then give you the equivalent of a DVD commentary on that snippet: what I was thinking when I wrote it, why I wrote it in the first place, what's going on in the character's heads, why I chose certain words, what this moment means in the context of the rest of the fic, lots of awful puns, and anything else that you’d expect to find on a DVD commentary track.

My stories are on these sites:

https://www.tthfanfic.org/authors.php?no=178&list=published   (includes several multi-author round robins)

http://archiveofourown.org/users/MarcusRowland/works
ffutures: (Default)
2017-06-28 09:01 pm

stupidity strikes again

Does anyone know how to recover your password on the explainxkcd thingy if you can't remember your user name?

Later - never mind, it looks like I didn't actually have an account - the changes I made a few months ago show my IP address, not a user name. For some reason they seem to have stopped allowing that.