Again, not a terrifically exciting day. Not much more than a quick trip into Helston before lunch and little else.

I did start playing Medal of Honour: Spearhead as there was little else to do.

I saw the old year out in the traditional style with my dad watching Jules Holland on the telly and sending a festive e-mail to lots of people as close to midnight as I could.

Only two more days now until I drive back up to Oxford and to the other life. When I’m here Oxford seems like a distant dream. When I’m in Oxford here seems like a different dream. It’s rather strange.

We finally got to Truro this morning.

The first venue was Comet to try to buy a new cooker and combination microwave/convection oven as a smaller and more efficient alternative to the main oven. Unfortunately, the last of the model of duel fuel cooker my parents wanted had just been sold, so they had to just make do with the combination oven for the time being. (Their current gas oven is horribly inefficient and doesn’t work well.)

So, after these purchases it was of to the town centre where we had great fun trying to find a parking space. Even after we did the fates seemed to be against us as although I put £1.40 in the ticket machine it only registered £1.20 and so issued a 1 hour ticket but didn’t return the 50p over and above the charge for 1 hour. Grrrr.

The reduced length of the parking ticket combined with the remoteness of the car park meant that it was definitely only a whistle-stop tour of the shops and the bank. However, I did manage to pick up two DVDs for half price in WHSmiths.

Upon returning home (via ASDA) we unpacked and set up the new oven and caused a large amount of smoke as we heated it for the first time. Strangely, according to the manual this normal.

After lunch we watched one of my DVDs, “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.” On the whole an OK film but nothing special. The other DVD, “Matrix Revolutions” can wait for another day.

This evening I didn’t do much and managed to avoid “AI” on BBC1 after getting fed up with it after 20 minutes. I don’t know how I stood watching the film in the cinema. If a company is going to create an artificial child they should make sure it’s not as gormless at “David” as no-one could love such a being.

And thus the penultimate day of 2004 comes to a close. It’s now less that 13 hours ’til 2005 starts eroding the old year.

Some of you reading this may think it strange that I’ve not mentioned the earthquake in the Indian Ocean in these entries. This is two fold, really. Firstly, the earthquake itself is remarkable in size but it’s relatively normal for a subduction zone. The previous huge earthquakes in Alaska were in a similar setting. Secondly, although it’s a gigantic tragedy for the millions of people caught up in the after effects of the tsunami there’s not a lot which can be added in a journal which will have any effect or consiquence at all. Hence, there’s little point in mentioning it.

On the whole, an uneventful day. Due to lack of sleep caused by indigestion overnight the trip to Truro was abandoned.

All we did really was watch both Spiderman films and the “Remember the Secret Policeman’s Ball” on BBC2.

However, I did think up what I believe would be the ultimate on-line game…

Take the Half-Life 2 engine and Steam, add an Elite style space craft type travel, a complete internal trading system, a political system, a military and two opposing factions and real estate ownership and management. Ie. Combine RPG, FPS, strategy gaming, trading and chat rooms all into one open ended game where those playing generate the continued plot. Players would not pay a monthly fee, however, all in game transactions would incur a sales/registration tax, like VAT.

Another inovation would be that the gaming universe would be created on the fly by the central servers when the first player viewed the area. The level of detail created would depend upon the distance the player was from the objects. Eg. To begin with, other than the core planetary systems and the home city areas on those home planets, there would merely be a finite, small galactic map of stars. When a player enters a system for the first time the cetral servers would generate the general descritpions of the planets etc. As a player came closer to a planet more and more detail would be created. Ultimately, if a player landed on a planet the visibale local area would be created. All this detail would be stored on the central servers and added to as players explored.

Many of the online RPG’s have had problems of people buying and selling stuff on eBay. To make this not a problem bring eBay in as the transaction handing company in game. Remember that the money being harvested from the players is basically a real world currency transaction charge so people buying and selling stuff outside the game isn’t a problem with the revenue stream. It could be made into a feature by people being able to buy game currency credits by exchanging their own cash.

Those looking for cheap gaming with an FPS type game could join the military. The initial game set-up could include a border dispute. Add the ability of rising through the ranks or joining as an officer and getting higher in the ranks and becoming more of a tactical office would allow the strategy gamers.

People could also choose to become politicians and influence the development of the game.

Explorers could journey the universe creating it as they go. A virtual strong anthropic principle. They could mine resources, return it to the core systems and sell it to the mega corps for credits.

Then add bars, being able to buy “land” and build on it what you want and fully customisable “avatars.” plus allow voice transmission, mixed so that everyone can hear everything locally but with the volume decreasing the further away the source of the sound is.

The main problem with all virtual environments is when the player disconnects. My idea is that the player’s avatar becomes a “ghost” which drifts towards a local “hostel” where it’s “stored.”

Through the magic of infinate “clones” death of a character doesn’t become a problem. Upon death a new clone gets activated at their original clone bank. Any funds and property which are logged as being static reserves in the bank etc. Get transfered to the new clone. However, personal items which are held by the avatar may be lost. It depends upon the nature of the death and where it occurs. Eg. If death occurs on an inhabited planet with a link to the core systems it’s likely that the items (and the body) will be retrieved. However, if it happens on a remote, uninhabited world then everything will be lost unless you manage to get to the goods before they’re salvaged by the next person to happen upon them. Unless a body is retrieved it will become part of the local scenery.

Basically, it’s a virtual universe and from what I can see realistically doable with today’s technology and also likely to be financially viable as well. (Yes, Snowcrashish)

Update: This entry is the length it is because I discovered the limit of the Palm Memo Pad application’s entry size, 4K. By “Snowcrashish” I meant “Sounds a lot like the Metaverse in the book Snowcrash.”

Today I visited Meriel and Chris down in Carleen.

Lots of talking ensued before we attempted to discover how to read some image files a friend of theirs was given of a wedding which they really wanted and had been told that were JPEG files created on a Macintosh but couldn’t be read by anything. As it turns out, after some investigation, that the files weren’t JPEG without a header but instead raw images which had been inexpertly cropped. “All” that needed to be done was to use some software to read the files as raw image files and guess the image dimensions.

After doing this all afternoon on the 40 or so files we managed to decode them all and save them as TIFFs.

The “spotty nosed oik” who’d originally worked on the files in an Adobe application had obviously though that mere saving the files with a .jpg extension and then making a PC CDROM had magically converted them. In the application he used you need to export the files to JPEG. Doh!

Anyway, by the time this was completed there was only a little time to show them Gallery on my web site before it was time to come home.

This evening we watched “The Hulk.” I can see why the critics panned it. It tried to make the audience feel for Bruce Banner. However, this failed due to the acting making the person a bit arrogant. Add to this that the whole thing was laboured and slow and it didn’t work. Then, the Hulk bits just didn’t look right because the seemed not to use Newtonian physics for artistic effect. Still, Jennifer Connolly is still a babe, dispite being overly slimmed down.

Tomorrow is, I believe attempt two for the visit to Truro.

Well, we did try to go to Truro this morning. We even roamed a few car parks in the process, but we didn’t find any empty spaces. (Ok, there were spaces in the NCP car park but at 40p per 15 minutes we drove right out again.)

We did get into the car park at the out of town parks for Comet and PC World though. Nothing much in the sales in those places. PC World had a leaflet detailing the bargins in their 2 day special sale, some of which would be worth buying. The only fly in the ointment was that there were none of those products available. As usual, everything else was the normal over priced and under spec’ed rubbish PC World sells.

I’m not sure what I did after getting home until early evening when my dad and myself got into a rambling conversation which ended at bedtime, 11:20pm.

Not a great deal done today other than searching through wardrobes trying to find my mum’s knitting. It used to be in a cloth bag with a wooden frame but we can’t find it.

In the process of the search a few things turned up such as a large selection of my school reports right from my first year at primary school where it was noted that I was enthusiastic about drama, apparently. That must have been the year that I played a cat in the nativity play. Quite a few mwntioned that I had quite a good sense of humour. Obviously the teachers never heard me try to tell jokes.

The later remarks about poor spelling and writing haunt my abilities to this day and caused especially my history and biology marks to show badly. Another trend which can be seen is my poor marks in exams relative to course work and how I can only do well in subjects I can see the patterns behind the answers rather than bare facts.

I was surprised by the remarks from my French teachers saying that I tried hard but that it was obvious that it was a subject that I was ill suited to. I could have told them that but I was surprised due to the way the teachers had treated me, such as sending me into detension and up to the head master for a slippering for poor vocabulary test results etc.

Since then I believe that I’ve worked out why I had/have so much trouble with spelling etc. even in English. I remember learning to read and finding that the only way to stop the word jumping around the page was to sit right under the room light. I also found it easiest with red sweet wrappers over the eyes. This seems to tally with mild dyslexia I’ve since discovered. So, maybe that’s a contributary factor in all this. I definitely have dystypia quite often. 🙂

What other revelations were there? Well, from the outside it obviously seemed that I fitted in quite well. This shows very much how teachers don’t see things. In primary school, where I was supposed to be well integrated according to the teacher, I was the only boy not to have a “girlfriend” and was never in anyone’s group for playing marbles or aeroplanes etc. The later reports don’t show how I was not in any other real social groups in my secondary school.

The final thing found was a notification from the local L.E.A. informing me of the size of my grant for my 2nd year at university. This was the mighty total of about £1200 for the year. Surprisingly, in 1985/6 this was emough for me to commute to London form N.Bedfordshire for two terms and live in halls for the last term and pay for books and field trips with a little to spare. It does show how the cost of living has increased, especially rail fares. (I remember that with the Young Person’s Railcard a cheap day return form Bedford to London St.Pancras was £3.50 and was valid from 8:15am. Those were the days!)

So, other than that I merely played some Lemmings and watched a little telly. It’s off to Truro tomorrow, mostly so as to get out of the house. I think we may pop into Falmouth on the way back so that I may buy my mum a complete set of replacement knitting stuff as a late Christmas pressie. She needs a hobby to keep her mind and hands busy.

This has turned into a bit of a mammoth entry. I’d better be off to bed.

Well, I was up by 11 despite not sleeping well after the paracetamol and caffiene last night. It was more a night of dozing that proper sleep, not helped by the odd hale shaower battering the window.

Before lunch I listened to the last two CDs in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy collector’s edition box set, ie. the documentries first broadcast in 1998 on Radio 4. The boxed set was my dad’s present to me.

Lunch was the traditional turkey etc. Nothing special.

The rest of the day was pretty well all just watching telly. The only thing of note for the whole evening was the hale setting off my car alarm. This is the first time the alarm’s gone off since a similar hale storm exactly 4 years ago. (exciting, eh?)

This is the 50th entry I’ve made in this holiday diary since I started just over a year ago. I did do one previous version using my Psion before I got my Tréo. Surprisingly, because of the clarity of the screen, it’s actually been easier to write on this Tréo than on the Psion with its better keyboard.

Anyway, on to the events of the day:-

This afternoon, after watching “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” as is traditional at this time of year, we finally got around to putting up the Christmas Tree. After this we had tea before I put on Shrek and Shrek 2 on the DVD. I know that Shrek was on BBC1 a little later but it wasn’t when we were ready for it.

After we’d finished watching those two films it was almost 9pm, at which time “Chocolat” started on BBC2. It was the first time I’d seen that film and I enjoyed it greatly.

So, basically, today’s been a film watching day. Well, the weather outside hasn’t made it condusive for doing anything out there. What with the strong winds and frequent showers, it’s not the best time of the year to he out and about. Also, the sinus headache I’ve only just shaken off with a number of paracetamol with caffiene would’t have helped either.

Oh, and I finished Unreal II. Another anti-climax.

Now all I have to do is try to sleep after taking 1500mg of caffiene in the last 7 hours. It may prove difficult.

This morning I had my first lay in of the holiday. The weather was dark and grey outside so there was little point in getting up anyway.

This afternoon, having nothing better to do returned to playing Unreal II after a hiatus of about 5 months. I finally managed to get past the place I’d become blocked back in July. By 8pm tonight I’d got to another boring boss fight. Oh well, I may leave it for another 5 months now.

And that was the end of my day. Time for bed again.

Today started with a trip into Penzance. It was mostly so that my mum could go to the scoop and save shop but I took the opportunity to visit the big camera shop there as well as MVC.

As it turns out, the camera shop had on sale the nice pistol-grip Manfrotto tripod head I saw some photographers use a few weeks ago. They had it on sale for a mere £79.99, rather less than the list price. However, this head will only fit Manfrotto tripods as it uses a non-standard size thread. Hence, if I were to get one I’d also have to buy a new tripod. Hmm.

Other revealations today included the fact that you can still buy Mamod steam engines and that you can buy train sets which include a digital control system (DCC).

Oh and in MVC I bought a few DVDs in their buy one, get one half price offer. Oh, and my dad bought me Christmas pressie, series 1 & 2 of the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio series. I’ll have to find the recent series for myself elsewhere.

So, other than watching The Prisoner of Azkaban and the two Stargate episodes tonight, that was the whole day.