Christmas Holiday Update.

Over the fortnight I was down in Cornwall I kept a journal using my Handpring Treo, so here it is…

Saturday 20th December 2003.

The journey down wasn’t too eventful other than the first half was in the rain. I’ve unfortunately been fighting off a sinus headache for most of the day.

I decided to bring my big computer down with me this time as the laptop can’t run any games and I can see that I’m going to have plenty of time on my hands over the next fortnight.

I’ve also decided to try to write a daily journal just as I did over the summer holiday. This time, however, I’m going to be using my Tréo instead of my Psion.

Sunday 21st December 2003.

Other than a troublesome sinus headache which is a left over from yesterday, today has been pretty uneventful.

Lunch was roast pork with the normal vegitables. After which I spent most of the day playing Diablo II or watching the DVD of “The Count of Monte Christo” which I found surprisingly entertaining.

I see the americans managed to win the Scrapheap Mega Challenge this year, which was to bould snow mobiles which could also breech a wall of snow.

Tuesday 23rd December 2003.

This morning we went shopping for groceries. ASDA was brimming full of people. So much so that they had to park their cars on the access roads as well as the car park itself.

Helston was not quite as busy, however. I managed to get my credit card bill paid without a problem.

The rest of the day was mostly taken up with playing Diablo II again, as yesterday was. The main problem with this game is that when you do a save and quit it doesn’t save a great deal of your status. Specifically, it only saves the character state along with the maps of where you have been. Everything else, including you precise location, which mercinary you’ve paid lots of money on and even what monsters you’ve killed are lost. This means that there is a very large penalty in stopping the game to do other things. The only partly resonable times are when you’ve just completed a major task and don’t need to go back to an area again.

I stopped playing the game tonight (after finding a specific artifact) about half an hour too late to watch the final episode of “The West Wing” on E4. Luckily, it was only half an hour until it started on E4+1. 🙂

Anyway, tomorrow it’s Christmas Eve. There are currently no plans for it as far as I’m aware. Hopefully, there will be better things on telly so I don’t have to play Diablo II again.

Christmas Eve 2003.

Today wasn’t an exciting day really. Again, mostly taken up with playing Diablo II on the PC.

The weather is somewhat better than it was during my last visit down here in the summer.

I can’t believe it was such a long time ago. There seems to have been no time at all between the end of my holiday in the middle of August, the beginning of the new term in October and now the end of the year. I still have plenty of things on my TO-DO list at work which are still on the urgent list and yet have not been done due to time constraints. I’m really going to have to put users’ problems on hold and get on with those things.

Well, now it’s five minutes past midnight so technically it’s Christmas day. Only 3 hours or so until Beagle 2 either lands on Mars with a survivable bump or gets smashed to smithereenes and no-one will hear from it ever again. By the time I wake up in the morning we will know.

Christmas Day 2003.

The ritual of opening the presents started the day as usual. This was fillowed by the lull before the Christmas dinner. It seems that this year my mum couldn’t be bothered with the full set table for the dinner. It’s the only day we traditionally sit at a table to eat, however, this year it was not to be.

The full traditional food fare was on offer (except the brussell’s sprouts which no-one likes) as usual but it was eaten the usual way of sitting in the living room and eaten for the plates upon trays upon the lap. It didn’t really bother me, mosty ‘cos the seats in the dining room are rather uncomfortable.

After the normal after dinner bloated snooze was the traditional searching of the telly channels for anything to watch. It seemed even worse than normal. Thankfully, I managed to miss the Queen’s message.

After the first batch of left-overs for tea, I put on my extended edition of “The Fellowship of the Ring” on the DVD as the evening’s entertainment.

Following this I watched the news on BBC News 24 and saw that still no signal has been received form Beagle 2. Oh well, another bit of scrap metal has been deposited upon the martian surface, it seems.

We’re off to Truro in the morning as my dad would like a CD recorder for his PC as a Christmas pressie. I’ll also pick up a short Cat5 cable so we can network the computers and play some games in multi-player mode.

Boxing Day 2003.

The morning started pretty early for a holiday morning and was highly unusual for a Boxing Day.

The normal events at this time of year include laying in bed until quite late, eating left-overs for lunch and the battling to find something to do in the afternoon.

This year, however, it was decided to pop into Truro to have a wander around and also to go into PC World on the way back to pick up a Cat5 cable to allow a connection from my dad’s PC to mine to be made. It also gave me the opportunity to buy my dad the thing he’d decided he’d like as a Christmas present, namely a CD-Writer drive.

Truro itself was pretty quiet but there were a number of people milling about the place. I was surprised at how few of the big chain stores were open. We arrived in the town just before 10 o’clock and none of the shops were open. The first ones to open were WHSmith and the Edinburgh Wool Shop at about 10 with Argos later. I’m not sure how much later, but there was quite a crowd outside so it must have been opening quite soon.

As we were nearby WHSmith’s when they opened the doors we followed the crouds and went up stairs to the audio and video department, expecting to see the legendary wonderful bargins which the opening of the sales is supposed to have. Well, other than a few iffy CDs at £2 each, I was totally underwhelmed.

Similarly, the Dixon’s one day special Boxing Day Sale was totally underwhelming, also. Unless you think that batteries at half price is sufficient for such a banner, that is. (I couldn’t actually see anythiing else actually on sale at a reduced price. Well, no more than the everyday Dixon’s “sale” anyway.)

As mentioned earlier, on the way home we popped into PC World, another of the Curry’s/Dixon’s chain, to get the computer stuff. Again they had a one day sale, and again I was hard pressed to actually find anything reduced. Still, I did manage to find a CD writer for a half decent £30, not much more than a net price, though having to pay £9 for a 2m ethernet cable was annoying.

Anyway, that’s all over with. The CD writer is fitted and working, the computers now talk to each other (once I managed to download a config program for the old ISA ethernet card) and a test game has been played. Now it is time for bed and a long lay-in in the morning.

Saturday 27th December 2003.

I got up late. Watched a bit of telly. Tried to get further playing ‘Half-Life’.

At least after what must be nearly 18 months of being stuck at a specific point in the game I’ve managed to get a bit further. It seems from the cheat manual I downloaded from Gamespot, I’m about three major levels from the end. The walk-through in this book only gives a general idea of what’s coming up, so it’s not exactly cheating. If it were a proper cheat manual I’d have finished the game at least 2 years ago.

Sunday 28th December 2003.

It was another late morning. I arose at about 10:30, pottered around a bit before lunch. I then played a bit more of ‘Half-Life’ and watched the Royal Institution Christmas Lecture before spending the whole of the afternoon and the early evening viewing the fourth DVD in the LOTR: The Two Towers boxed set.

Overall, not an exciting day.

As for this year’s Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, the lecturer is a bit awful. She keeps jumping from one ill explained item to another in what seems to be a random order. Having enough knowledge about the subjects she was talking about to have a reasonable conversation with an partical physicist or an astronomer, even I was getting confused by her jumbled commentry. I can hardly fathom what her young audience made of it. I just hope she gets better over the following lectures.

Monday 29th December 2003.

Today I visited Meriel and Chris in Carleen.

It was a very pleasant day chatting, drinking tea and coffee. The conversations ranged from cars to computers to global macro economics and sociology. A fair range.

This evening, as, yet again, there was nothing worth watching on the telly, we watched another DVD. This time it was Spiderman. I say we watched the film, well, we watched about two thirds of it as at nine o’clock the Time Team Big Dig summary programme started then.

That’s pretty well it for today. The weather forcast says that it’s going to get down to about 1°C which is almost as low as it gets in the far south-west of Cornwall.

Tuesday 30th December 2003.

Well, it was the penultimate day of the year. Not that it made much difference to the day’s events.

I spent most of the morning in bed after having had a fitful sleep duing the night due to an upset stomach.

Having viewed the previously recorded Christmas lecture from yesterday it was about time for today’s. The lecturer has settled down a great deal as the days have gone by. She’s still not brilliant and her practical demonstrations are stretching analogies to their extreme merely to have things for the audence to participate in.

I’m not sure how I spent most of the afternoon, really. I know we watched the final part of the Spiderman film from last night.

I’ve now got very close to the end of Half-life. It’s got into the alien universe. I’m losing interest a bit, actually. I find the most boring bit of the first person shooter genre the idea that at the end you fight a mega beast or “Boss” character. I got that far on Quake and just stopped playing. I did actually finish Quake II but it was a major anti-climax afterward. Now, with Half-Life, I feel that Ilm just heading to that big anti-climax again.

The only other FPS games I’ve played are Unreal and Unreal II. With the former I just got totally stuck somewhere near the end and gave up as it was no longer fun. Withe the latter I’m both bored with it and stuck at the end of one of the levels. It just seems to be a poor clone of Half-Life but requires a more powerful machine.

I do hope that Half-Life 2 lives up to the hype and gives me as much enjoyment as the original. Making the game more difficult doesn’t necessarily make it more fun. A great deal of the time the opposite is true.

Wednesday 31st December 2003.

What can I say about the last day of the year? Well, other than I’ve been battling a sinus headache all day, not a great deal.

I got up late and did very little.

I’m now waiting up to see the new year in qnd also awaiting the next dose of paracetamol.

Thursday 1st January 2004.

Another day where I really did very little at all.

At just gone midnight I did the normal e-mail to the junk list wishing people a happy new year and also sent a few text messages. I then went to bed after taking a couple of paracetamol for my sinus problem.

Thankfully, by this morning the sinusitis had subsided. However, the lack of a decent sleep did mean that for the whole of today I’ve been in a little bit of a daze.

To be honest, other than a little flying about on the flight sim, I can’t really remember what I’ve done. I know that I’ve watched a bit of telly this evening but not a great deal. Oh well, it matters not.

I hope to get a good night’s sleep tonight.

Friday 2nd January 2004.

Well, today was the last true day of my holiday as it was the last one where I would otherwise be at work.

So, what did I do?

I started on the job of converting my CD collection to MPEG3 encoded files in readiness for getting a large secure digital memory card and stereo headphones for my Tréo. Admittedly, neither of these items will be arriving shortly. The former item requires me to spend a reasonable amount of money if I’m to get the half gig monster card I’m thinking of. The latter requires Handspring/PalmOne to release the headphones onto the market and then Orange to actually stock them, which given that they’re not even selling the accessories which are available in probably a long way off.

So, other than battling with CDex and Windows XP on my PC to not have to reboot the machine after converting two albums, what else have I done? Not a great deal, actually. Watched a bit of telly, what little I could find which was even watchable on the many channels I have available via satellite, that is. My problem is that I’m obviously odd as I don’t enjoy either soaps or reality TV as if I did I’d have lots of choice.

Saturday 3rd January 2004.

It was the last day down here in Cornwall for this holiday and, as usual for the Christmas break, it’s gone like a flash. It doesn’t seem like a fortnight since I arrived.

I spent a lot of my time today converting more CD’s to MPEG3’s. Other than that I’ve just watched a bit of telly and packed most things for the morning.

Tomorrow morning I merely need to get washed and dressed before doing a small amount of final packing before moving the stuff into the car. Once that’s done I merely have to drive 260 miles home. That’ll take between 4.5 hours and 6 hours depending upon the traffic. I don’t look forward to that quite boring motorway journey.

3 thoughts on “Christmas Holiday Update.

  1. DII should save mercenary status …. however, it is specifically designed to not save the status of anything else – apparently it enabled much better multiuser play. I found it helpful to always quit in town ( usually after having found the next “teleporter” However be aware that DII needs patching especially if you’re using the expansion set.

    All details and patches can be found at

    • Yeah, I’ve fully patched my copy.

      I can understand why not saving the full state during multi-player would be a good idea. After all, the world continues to play even after you’ve left the scene. However, for the single-player game this can be a right pain if you’ve just killed off the big nasty creature at the end of a level but need to go back to use the portal you’ve just created. This is especially true for the level where you have to kill off the fire throwing wizard to open the portal to the other world. I had to kill him off twice.

  2. Erm,

    Ogg files seem to be bigger files than low quality MP3, at least with the codec supplied with CDex. Seeing as I only have a 32MB memory card for my Treo at the moment, space is somewhat at a premium.

    When I tried Ogging a CD the sizes of the tracks came in at about 3MB each but with low quality MP3 and the Microsoft MPEG codec the files were almost half that size.

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