Elite: Lave – Revolution – A Blast from the Past

Lave: RevoloutionLike many gamers from my generation, I remember spending hours in front of my Father‘s BBC Micro, racking up credits and saving up for a Docking Computer or a better set of lasers on my Cobra Mk III in the vector space trading game Elite.

A lifetime later and Allen Stroud takes us back to those halcyon days with this cracking piece of science fiction.

I know Allen through LRP; he played a formative part in my understanding of much of the early game world of the Lorien Trust‘s system here in the UK.

He is also, in my opinion, a thoroughly nice chap.

Set in the systems neighbouring Lave, Elite: Lave Revolution (Elite: Dangerous) tells of the cosmo-political transition that Lave takes. From the Lave of my childhood to the Lave of the forthcoming (and long awaited) reboot of the Elite game. Elite – Dangerous.

Far form being “just another game tie-in”, Lave: Revolution is as gripping as it is cunning. The tale follows a number of characters through a maze of galactic conspiracy, deception and ultimately – planetary revolution.

The story is decorated with historical transcripts and technical factoids that add to the world in which Allen is weaving the tale but this only serves to add icing to what is already a well garnished tale.

After reading this in one sitting I am left thirsty for more – I’ll have to make do with the Elite – Dangerous beta and wait for Allen to write more.

When the Going Gets Tough…

mudderA couple of years ago a good friend of mine discovered that he had Cancer.

I’ve had a couple of scares in my life (who hasn’t?) but his story really struck home – similar age, life style and outlook on life, my friend had been struck with the big “C”.

Since then, my friend has recovered and has used turned the experience on its head, using it to drive his life in a positive manner.

Other have not been so lucky.

It’s probably my age but as I approach the big four-oh I lose more and more loved ones to Cancer: a good friend’s Father, a fellow LARPer… but still more fight Cancer and rely on charities like Macmillan to help them carry on the fight to survive.

At the back end of last year, my friend announced that he would be doing Tough Mudder, to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support.  He also asked if any of his friends would be up to the challenge with him.

Macmillan helped my friend out as he went through his cancer battle and I know many other people with similar stories of the support that Macmillan provide to people in need.

Naturally, I said “Hell yes!” to my  friend’s request and will be taking the Tough Mudder challenge with friends on September 13th 2014 in Cheshire.

Please support us by visiting our Just Giving page (De La Luna Tough Mudders) and making a donation.

 

Egged While Walking

eggfaceLast Monday I was assaulted, in a way that both literally and figuratively left me with egg on my face.

After successfully shedding over four stones last year, I have decided to carry over into 2014 in the same vein. So, Monday night I decided to try a new route.

My usual winter evening route has reached its expansion limits, at best I can make 6 miles on a night without straying too far into urbanity but to do more than 6 miles would mean looping over territory already covered and that would become a little too repetitive for me.

The new route takes me down into my local village and then the opposite way to my usual route. A good 7 miles minimum at first estimate.

My plan is a simple one, start 2014 at 5 – 7 miles of mixed walking and sprinting every other night and build up a mile a month until I can comfortably cover 12 miles without too much of a struggle.

Fitness wasn’t the only drive to change routes, I’ve recently started playing the augmented reality game Ingress and the only vulnerable enemy portals near me are on the new route.

So Monday night I started Endomondo and set out, down into Lindley, farming enemy portals in Ingress.

It was a nice start, despite having been relatively idle over the festive break, my fitness levels hadn’t dropped and I made a good pace through the village and up towards the M62.

3.5 miles in I cross the M62 and head on to my planned turning point, a church on route – co-incidentally the last of the enemy portals in Ingress.

The road up from the bridge over the M62 is poorly lit, poorly paved and poorly travelled. The occasional car speeds past on its way towards Rochdale but it’s my preferred walking environment – lonely and isolated.

I’d estimated that a turn around there would result in my returning home at the 7 mile mark – a circuit that could be expanded upon by moving the turning point forward by half a mile in future,

I hacked the Ingress portal and made the turn to start home, checking my progress in Endomondo to make sure I wasn’t short changing myself on distance.

I was suddenly struck in the face, throat and chest by what I took to be a hard snowball – an ice ball even.

Cold, hard and wet, I was knocked back by the blow.

Uttering an expletive, the realisation dawned that we have not had any snow yet this winter; I looked around to check as I wiped, what I thought was snow, away.

My hand came away with a mix of albumen, yolk, blood and shell.

I had been egged.

I think the embarrassment negated the rage and shock somewhat, although the anger seeped back in as my hand came away a second time doused in blood.

I could tell there was a wound, of sorts, bleeding profusely from my chin – and my throat and chest felt bruised.

The egg had hit at a fair speed. My memory, catching up with me, associated the impact with the passing by of a speeding car.

I had been egged from a passing car.

A third wipe and I determined that I was still bleeding.

One hand pressed against my chin and throat to stop the bleeding, whilst the other struggled with my, now egg-bound, phone.

The camera wouldn’t activate and so I decided to make my way back towards home (2 miles away) or hospital – (4 miles away – if needed).

The blood kept streaming, so I stopped at a local takeaway that had just closed for the night. The gentlemen inside let me in but didn’t have a mirror or first aid kit.

They let me stay there until the bleeding stopped and gave me paper towels to stop the flow.

As helpful as they were, the chaps in the takeaway couldn’t really help me identify the severity of the source of the bleeding, so I decided to set out again whilst phoning my other half for help.

When I finally got the phone free of blood and yolk, I managed to take the photograph above and realised that actually I wasn’t badly cut at all.

A swollen chin, minor cuts on the chin and in the mouth; and a chest full of egg.

In the aftermath I called 111 to go through a medical check-list and then 101 to inform the local police – although there is nothing they can do with no description of the assailant or the assailant’s vehicle.

Four days on and I have already made sure that I get out again, albeit on a third route. I did find myself flinching as cars passed but that didn’t last long.

It does seem that I am not alone, this kind of assault appears to be surprisingly common.

I’ve heard of walkers, runners, cyclists and equestrians being pelted with eggs, stones, bottles and cans; even being shot with pellet guns in more extreme cases.

I just count myself lucky that I was not hit in the eye and that I haven’t come across this activity before – hopefully it is quite rare.

2013 in Brief

I’ve not written as much throughout this year as I have previously but that stands as testimony to the amount of time that has been dedicated elsewhere.

For one, I lost 4.5 stone in the run up to Christmas 2013.  If I can do half as much again next year, I’ll be a happy man.

Dropping 20% in weight has done my health a world of good.  My daily insulin dosage has dropped, my blood pressure dropped 5%, meaning I am no longer on the cusp of hypertension and I feel better than I have for over a decade.

Other than that, 2013 has been a hard year – if 2014 is going to be as difficult it can jog on.

Anyway, here’s the annual WordPress review for this blog…

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 20,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Lost in (Google) Translation

Earlier today we had a debate in the office over the correct pronunciation of Kronenbourg 1664 in French.

A colleague was adamant that the sibilant eruption of esses and queues pouring forth from his mouth was the correct phrase but it didn’t ring true.

Sadly, the speed and energy of the discussion through my knowledge of the Gallic tongue out of the nearest window and so I quickly fell back on trusty Google translate.

That was my first mistake.

Actually, it was my second; the first was getting involved in the debate in the first place.

Google Translate appears to translate numbers that are entered as test as numbers if the written number appears to be related to a date.

For example:

Image

The phrase “nineteen eighty four” becomes the number “1984″ and not “dix-neuf quatre vingt quatre”, as would be expected.

Entering the numbers on different lines pulls the correct translation through.

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This may seem intuitive for written translations but is absolutely counter-productive when looking for assistance with spoken language.

For the record, my colleague’s declaration of “Soixante Soixante Quatre” is incorrect; the correct phrase is “Seize Soixante-Quatre”.

Armed with this knowledge, I can break my longer numbers up in future but this may be useful for those of you who may be looking at using Google Translate to help with spoken word translations.

Fat Club User Guide – Carbs & Cals

carbsandcalsI recently wrote about my experience working with the Kirklees Weight Management Programme to help achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

One of the tools suggested to me by the team behind the programme was a book that is generally recommended to Diabetics who monitor their carbohydrate intake and self dose insulin based on it.

Carbs & Cals: Count your Carbs & Calories with over 1,700 Food & Drink Photos!

I bought the book from Amazon for just under a tenner and then a few days later I bought the App from Google’s Play Store.

Both the book and the app are a really handy resource to check the calorific content of everyday foods.

The book is crammed full of pictures showing you nutritional information on a variety of foods in a variety of portion sizes.

The App takes this a step further by allowing you to scan barcodes to get nutritional information from a large online database of foods.

The App can be used as a Food Diary and even a Blood Glucose diary for insulin junkies like me.

Finally, both the book and the App are supported by online resources that can be found at the Carbs & Cals website.

 

Fat Club – Winning Through Losing

Before And After Back in May I broke the first rule of Fat Club by writing about it.

Ever the rebel I thought I would write about it again.

Yesterday evening I had my final one-to-one with the dietician who developed the programme behind the Kirklees Weight Management service.

My initial goal was to lose 5% of my weight as it was when I started the programme – just under a stone in total.

The programme isn’t a diet by the way, it’s a catalyst! It incites change in the individual to help them lead a healthier life by making healthier choices.

I still manage to enjoy myself, I just enjoy myself moderately rather than excessively.

Bearing in mind I’d already lost half a stone between signing up in January and starting the programme in May, I was confident I could meet that target and I did – 5 weeks in,

Weight Loss ChartI’m now a gnats whisker away from my personal target of 3 stones off by the end of July and whilst the Victoza/Liraglutide is partially responsible the majority of the credit goes to the Weight Management service itself.

I kid you not, the service here in Kirklees is a world leader in its field.

They don’t boast about it online but ask the team behind the service and they speak with pride about their success and retention rates compared to the global and national average.

I mention the team because it is just a small team of people that have made this happen, which is amazing when you consider how wide and dark an organisation like the NHS can be.

There is a chance that the NHS may drop the programme in favour of a one-size-fits-all bland service provided by a multinational media company with little or no understanding (or passion) for dietetics or nutrition… which would be a crying shame.

The advice I’ve taken away from the programme is simple.

  • Eat regularly – Breakfast, Lunch & Tea with a light snack in-between if hungry.
  • Eat healthy portions – You’d be amazed at how large the portions we’re used to are these days – far too much for the sedentary lives we lead.
  • Eat a balanced diet with satiety in mind – Wholemeal Bread and a couple of Eggs for breakfast will keep you fuller and satiated for longer – don’t cut out carbs or proteins or anything, instead know the right portions and proportions in which to eat things.
  • Keep active – it only takes small changes to keep the body working and active.
  • Banish unhelpful thoughts – don’t punish yourself for failing by indulging in further failure – don’t reward yourself with food or drink, instead look to work out negative emotions through activity or reward yourself with non-consumable treats.
  • Know your calorie I/O – The human body burns at least 1400 calories a day, just by living – it is a lot easier to not take on excess calories than it is to burn it off.  By setting a calorie target/limit under the supposed GDA you are guaranteed to lose weight – but don’t set it lower than 1500 without medical supervision.

All of that and more.

I keep a loose and fast food diary now and have a mental meal plan that I follow day to day.

I’m walking 4 or 5 miles a day (or at least every other day) to burn off the daily office stress and every day gets better and better.

I genuinely believe that anyone struggling to manage their weight should speak to their GP and talk about getting on the Kirklees Weight Management Programme.  It costs nothing more than 48 hours of your life (broken down over 12 2 hour sessions) and the desire to change.

The show’s not over though.  I have another 12 weeks to lose another stone – which will take me to 16 stone by mid-October – although, personally, I’m aiming for 2 stone off in that time.