Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Time bandits

I really like Paris, somewhat to my surprise. Now I like it more:

A group of intrepid "illegal restorers" set up a secret workshop and lounge in a cavity under the building's famous dome. Under the supervision of group member Jean-Baptiste Viot, a professional clockmaker, they pieced apart and repaired the antique clock that had been left to rust in the building since the 1960s. Only when their clandestine revamp of the elaborate timepiece had been completed did they reveal themselves.


These are the same people who ran the secret underground theatre. More power to their WD-40.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Fame please, Carol

It's not easy being a former Countdown champion. In fact, if I was going to be dramatic, I'd say that Countdown ruined my life. Ever since I won, my life has been a constant, utterly in-vain struggle to ensure that this would not prove to be the defining moment of my life.


The story itself isn't really all that interesting, unfortunately, but I want to take a note of the opening line.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Money well spent

Paul just pointed out that Discovery are buying HowStuffWorks.com, for $250 million. Not having much memory of HowStuffWorks beyond it occasionally surfacing in Google, I visited it and can confirm that it is absolutely worth the money. Just on the front page today:

How Machineguns Work

How Bats Work
How Quantum Suicide Works

All Discovery need to do now is buy up Look Around You to run practical demonstrations.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Know your market

A fine statement on the recent hoo-ha about a church group using Halo 3 to tempt in kids for later reprogramming, care of the NYTimes:

“If you want to connect with young teenage boys and drag them into church, free alcohol and pornographic movies would do it,” said James Tonkowich, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a nonprofit group that assesses denominational policies. “My own take is you can do better than that.”

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The unstoppable Heavies

I've been spending too much time playing TF2 recently, despite having loads of work and lots of other really quite significant games I could be playing instead.

An interesting encounter on PC Gamer's server last night: Team LOL, including Richard, decided that they would all play one class per round, resulting in offences composed exclusively of Scouts, Pyros, etc.

It ended predictably: all-Scouts were whittled away on 2Fort by entirely standard tactics, all-Engineers held that factory level for quite a while but fell to massed Spies in their midst, and all-Spies perished almost immediately in an unending whirl of flame. Worryingly, however, all-Heavies and all-Demomen proved almost unstoppable. Could it be that TF2 is susceptible to monoculture?

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Zero Punctuation

My current favourite thing on the internet is Ben "Yahtzee" Crowshaw's (I think that's the correct form) Zero Punctuation, a series of animated rants about gaming delivered in a polite British monotone that is slightly reminscent of what I used to do when I got worked up about something back before I was a burnt-out corporate shell but I just got drunk and moaned at people in pubs rather than fashioning associated illustrations that are actually much funnier and thus get signed up by inexplicably but cheeringly not-gone-bust-yet games site The Escapist.

Guess where the title comes from. Anyway, I find it deeply entertaining and everybody should watch it. I post this not because I think you haven't, you being a discerning gaming enthusiast who spends too much time on the internet and all, but because it's really hard to find on The Escapist - presumably in an effort to get you to sign up to their newsletter. So here's the link to all the Zero Punctuation videos on the Escapist.

The first couple are on Yahtzee's site but I in the interests of neatness I reproduce them here. They are funny.

The Darkness demo on PS3


Fable: The Lost Chapters: A retrospective

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Carnival of Lockjaw

Cardhouse has posted some choice quotes from a book on fireworks. The factory explosion survivor is a good 'un, but this is my favourite:

"Because of such devices, nearly as many people died celebrating independence – around four thousand over the years -- as actually died fighting in the War of Independence itself. The glorious Fourth became known as the “Bloody Fourth” and, because of the large number of severe infections from burns, the “Carnival of Lockjaw.”

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Cri di coeur

There's a status bar at the bottom of the CMS software we use to put the magazine together. Since launch, it has held a brief text message - similar to the "I'll find something to put here" at the bottom of a Facebook page, except this one has spooled through random quotes from the minds of, presumably, our merry band of internal developers.

A new one today: "l'enfer, c'est les autres". They must be getting a lot of support calls.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Why the Halo movie might be trouble

A synopsis of the Halo comic does not sound promising:

The Chief is flying on the ship, then on the ground, in a firefight with Covenant forces. There is no dialog, just shooting and grenades going off. The aliens look particularly gruesome, and the artwork seems very faithful to the look of the games. Master Chief blows open a door to enter a room where he faces down a very large force... The Chief is fighting back a huge force that just keeps coming and coming. Finally, a line of enemies lines up and shoots him all at once, and he falls.

Ah, gaming: source of such rich and emotional narrative. Although in the comic's defence, it is apparently written by Brian Michael Bendis - one of the four comic writers who I could name, and who I like from reading John's copies of Powers.

WTF

Destruction still mutually assured:

"This doomsday apparatus, which became operational in 1984, during the height of the Reagan-era nuclear tensions, is an amazing feat of creative engineering." According to Blair, if Perimetr senses a nuclear explosion in Russian territory and then receives no communication from Moscow, it will assume the incapacity of human leadership in Moscow or elsewhere, and will then grant a single human being deep within the Kosvinsky mountains the authority and capability to launch the entire Soviet nuclear arsenal.

Slate points out that Russia is still sat on a Strangelove-esque Doomsday Device that has never knowingly been deactivated, and is more likely to have recently been re-activated. It's pure Strangelove all the way: a vast base built inside a quartz mountain, training designed to turn men into mindless button-pushers (no word on whether they all had to wear orange overalls), and machinery that could wipe out most life on the planet "semi-automatically". Which suggests we're one blown fuse or crazed nutter away from oblivion.

Not to be outdone in the ridiculous yet utterly terrifying stakes, the US also boasts a "launch on warning" system. Bonus dread comes from GIs talking about the "permissive action". This is the fail-safe that requires two key-holders to activate the machinery, supposedly preventing a crazed general from starting the war in the style of Jack D. Ripper. It doesn't offer the security you might have hoped for:

You just shoot the other guy and "rig up a thing where you tie a string to one end of a spoon," he told me, "and tie the other end to the guy's key. Then you can sit in your chair and twist your key with one hand while you yank on the spoon with the other hand to twist the other key over."

So, not only is the nuclear deterrent still there and likely to go off entirely by accident, but there are bored GIs down there idly working out ways to bypass the security system.


everybody-dies
Originally uploaded by Mr Jonty

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I have both dudes and catastrophes

I'm a project manager now, I'm slowly realising. It's not a career choice I'd recommend, but it has its moments. I recognise trace elements of them in the words of Cornelius:

It's a bit like manning a joystick at Cape Canaveral: lovely equipment, men on task, and always the promise that things which go awry are capable of going so awry that the course of a federal program is altered forever.


Note for the unitiated: Cornelius is a resident of Achewood, an online comic invariably described as being beyond description. It's good, though.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Noted for future use in the workplace

someecards.com:

Good Things In Bioshock

(Somewhat to my surprise, this doesn't appear to contain spoilers. So go ahead and read if you haven't finished it, although it'd be a far better use of your time to actually play it.)

Bioshock's hype machine started to get silly a couple of weeks ago. It jumped the shark when culturally bankrupt games sites better known for hosting flamewars about Ghost Recon weaponry started comparing it to Crime and Punishment. It reached critical mass when the fact somebody didn't give it 10/10 got on the Digg front page. And now the backlash has started.

A very heavily qualified, very discreet backlash, mind. I've yet to see anybody outright hate it, and it doesn't seem to be clad in the same neo-imperial clobber as Black and White. But the current vibe, after months of rapturous (ahem) proclamations of Ken Levine as the saviour of modern gaming, is to list all the things that are wrong with it. I agree with quite a few of them, but I'm going to start with what I liked - I worry I'll forget them later.

- The setting is excellent.
- The soundtrack makes it even better.
- It subverts the FPS genre. Not to any end, alas, but full marks for trying.
- It made me feel genuinely bad about things I had done in the game.
- Death was something I worked to avoid, but it was never a setback. As is my habit, I created dozens of savegames. I only used two, and both times I didn't really need to.
- It had a big, stupid boss fight at the end that I completed on the second try. I didn't like it much, but I didn't have to spend hours repeating it and honing my hatred into white-hot fury in the process.
- It's a game world not populated exclusively by Americans.
- It's prompted online debate about determinism, objectivism and the nature of Utopia. Which isn't unheard of, unfortunately, but this time the debaters aren't obviously insane and the inspiration isn't utterly laughable.
- It was a conspiratorial event. In common with a lot of people I know, I wanted to get through it before it was spoiled; we've spent a week discussing the points in the game as I reached them, all the while doing a very careful conversational dance to make sure that you don't reveal something the other party might not know yet. It's been a long-distance co-op, and the conspiracy of we who have finished it among those who haven't has added to the experience: whispered conversations in the corner at a party, late-night MSN conversations, and kitchen chats with my housemates have made it feel more significant as we've been carried along by the Cult of Rapture. It's something I can thank the marketing team for as much as the developers, but I don't care: it was nice, and all too rare, for a game to be a moment for people to share.
- Gags that Graham spots and I don't:


Perhaps the best thing is that it's a reasonably intelligent game that has - if early sales are anything to go by - been a massive success. Please, God, let it outsell generic tat by such a margin that publishers are convinced of the need for this level of craft. And while you're at it, make sure that the inevitable sequel is a spiritual successor rather than a narrative one: Rapture was amazing the first time, but that twist, that final confrontation and those ultimate conclusions all mean it won't stand revisiting.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Suicide bombers are in it for the sex

One of several fascinating statements that will get you in fights at parties, in Ten Politically Incorrect Truths About Human Nature.

It is the combination of polygyny and the promise of a large harem of virgins in heaven that motivates many young Muslim men to commit suicide bombings. Consistent with this explanation, all studies of suicide bombers indicate that they are significantly younger than not only the Muslim population in general but other (nonsuicidal) members of their own extreme political organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah. And nearly all suicide bombers are single.


Wouldn't want to be answering their phone this week.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Soused at the South Pole

Our main purpose is as caretakers of an expensive American facility, just like Jack Nicholson in The Shining, but with more geopolitical significance and fewer axe murders.


Overdone but nevertheless interesting tale of boozing at the South Pole. I'm intrigued to note that the drink of choice is Bailey's and coffee and there's a vast pit of human faeces just to add a little bit of extra dread to global warming.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Round up the usual suspects

Too often I forget that the entertainment industry is genuinely beyond parody. Behold, Casablanca: The TV Series:

Another series, briefly broadcast on NBC in 1983, starred David Soul as Rick, Ray Liotta as Sacha and Scatman Crothers as a somewhat elderly Sam.

Casablanca popped into my head after playing The Darkness. Which is good, by the way - complete nonsense, wildly inconsistent, and not as good as previous Starbreeze effort Chronicles of Riddick, but it does engage you in the telling of a not uninteresting story. Although it would have done a lot better had it felt the need to actually comment on your sudden sprouting of demonic tentacles, rather than immediately relegating them to the status of slightly disfiguring scar - something that people occasionally comment on but don't see as particularly outlandish.

One of the many touches I did like, however, is the TVs in the game, which have been loaded up with royalty-free footage black-and-white footage: The Man With The Golden Arm, old episodes of Flash Gordon, some terrible rock band I suspect are related to the developers. It's a really small, pointless detail that has no bearing on the plot, but I really like it: it's far more convincing than the hoary aren't-we-funny nonsense in the background of Max Payne (which this reminded me of quite a lot, unfortunately) or Vice City, and it's such a cheap, obvious thing to do I'm surprised nobody else has done it before.

Anyway, Sinatra in black and white reminded me of Casablanca, which I want to watch but can't - I'm pretty sure I threw the VHS tape away when I moved and in any case the VCR is still at work, left over from a photoshoot recreating an awesomely primitive tableau of The Way We Were. Sad story. Richard, always well-stocked with really terrible cultural artifacts, pointed out that Barb Wire is a transparent remake but tragically I don't have that either. I'm reduced to reading the Wikipedia entry, which brings me back once again to little details that make me smile:

The version shown in the Republic of Ireland at the time of release had all references to adultery cut, rendering the plot incomprehensible.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Yup.

From Dylan Tweney: Your Computer Is Training You

Getting even simple things done with a slightly underpowered computer and a bunch of web-based applications means you spend a lot of time waiting. Waiting for TypePad to publish a post, waiting for Gmail to populate the screen with a list of the latest messages, waiting for an image to download so you can start editing it in Photoshop, waiting for Photoshop to launch.

Each of these delays is tiny, maybe on the order of five to twenty seconds, or a minute at the most: Delays which, taken individually, are negligible. But over the course of a day, they accumulate, not literally but psychologically, so you start thinking: What else can I do while I wait for this Ajax-ified web page to load? So you flip to another tab, or jump over to your email program, or respond to someone’s IM.

The result: A five-minute task (writing and publishing a blog post, for instance) gets spread out over half an hour, interleaved with a bunch of other micro tasks, because that five minute task contains half a dozen annoying little delays that you’d rather avoid.

Your computer has trained you to become a task-switcher. It has trained you to spread your attention out across multiple tasks simultaneously, devoting only a little time to each one in turn.

This is a major design flaw in all modern computers, because the computers are designed to provide beautiful, translucent, animated interfaces, not to respond instantaneously to human commands. And, I’m afraid, Web 2.0 style applications are only making it worse.

Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy", played on the theramin

It's a metaphor for life

Interesting tip on How To Interview Rock Bands When They're Both Desperately Hungover And Too Cool To Care About The Interview:
I would always pay attention to the drummer. I practically sat in his lap, and I would roar with laughter at every mild joke that he made, like wah-hah-hah-hah! You know, and I would ask him about his drumming philosophies. They often have one or two.

DEVIL TRICKERY. Just one part of a really quite interesting (if unsurprising) interview.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Supreme silence

Supreme Court justices: not all pulling their weight.

Justice Clarence Thomas sat through 68 hours of oral arguments in the Supreme Court‘s current term without uttering a word... the last time Thomas asked a question in court was Feb. 22, 2006.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Moments in WoW General Chat

Verbatium: You Legionaire?

Brem: Hello
Brem: old friend

Verbatium: I was once a Legionaire

Brem: i know
Brem: hows your new guild?

Verbatium: Good to be seeing you my friend
Verbatium: Silent


Brem: hehe

Verbatium: We just started it

Brem: how is Djenta?

Verbatium: Good, I think
Verbatium: She's not around much


Brem: where r u going now?

Verbatium: Were dating
Verbatium: I will ask her to marry me, I think soon


Brem: nice

Verbatium: I was heading to here called on map wetlands
Verbatium: Try to see what can be done about my lvl
Verbatium: I have been 22 for the past 3 months


Brem: man u are slow

Verbatium: I didnt play much
Verbatium: No phones or power during the winter
Verbatium: haha


Brem: where r u from

[Your auction of Bolt of Woolen Cloth sold.]

Verbatium: Now summer, Water goes unfreez
Verbatium: Waterpowerplant work again


Brem: hehe, where do u live?

Verbatium: Normalyia we gave Nucleer plant, But was unstabil
[Zatura eyes Verbatim up and down]
Verbatium: Eastern Europe/USSR
[Verbatim eyes Zatura up and down]
[verbatim smiles at Zatura]

Verbatium: Well, I be off then
Verbatium: Seeing you


Brem: who will be the godfather on the wedding

Verbatium: Not know yet
Verbatium: Godfather is when Child is born
Verbatium: Best man, is wedding


Brem: sry for my english!

Verbatium: I do not know if Djenta is expecting

Brem: hehe, i got to see that

Verbatium: WHere you from?

Brem: Serbia

Verbatium: Privetstvuyu!
Verbatium: Poidem Vipyem!


Brem: Zbogom
Brem: prijatelju

Verbatium: Da
Verbatium: haha


Brem: hehe

Monday, May 28, 2007

Fundead

Can't remember if I knew this already, but: some TV shows cling to the laughter of the dead, re-using laughter tracks recorded from studio audiences now at least partially deceased.

a few all-time classic tracks recorded in the late 1950s and early 1960s were never retired, and can still be heard on 'Frasier'


Even more unsettling is the existence of the "laugh machine" and the "laugh men."

Slide 1 of many



I actually had to create my first proper PowerPoint presentations not so long ago. The experience was one of partially committed craftsmanship tinged with the certaint knowledge that this is one of the lowest forms of human expression. But now Indexed gives some hope.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sing-a-long-a-Shatner

There's so much to like here. Personal favourites:

"...The LP has been critically acclaimed for its unique "pop-driven" style. Its sole cover, a version of Pulp's "Common People" performed with Joe Jackson, has received good notices, often to the surprise of the reviewers."

"On June 9, 2005, Shatner performed a reworked rendition of "My Way" at the presentation of George Lucas's AFI Life Achievement Award, backed by a chorus line of dancers in Imperial Stormtrooper costumes who ultimately picked up Shatner and carried him offstage."

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Day of the Jonty

Stefan sent this through, and it was the end of the day so I did it. Much to my surprise, it's not hugely humiliating - I was expecting a marmoset.



EDIT: Gril, slightly worryingly, joins me in Jackaldom. And points out, as I forgot to, that you the reader (if you exist) can modify the result if you think I'm something more suitable for using as a car logo.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Where is my mind

Randomly discovered while researching for my Microsoft trip next week: Frank Black is doing music for GRAW 2. What the hell, people.

[Aside: God, I wish they didn't have music playing over the back of the video. LET THE MAN SPEAK.]

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Medical breakthrough

Email:

Dear Jonty,
World Community Grid is pleased to announce that the Help Defeat Cancer (HDC) project is finished.

I thought it'd hold out longer than this, to be honest.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Model of diplomacy

“It’s that same one you get when you’re traveling and you tell people you’re from America, and they’re like, ‘I’m sorry,’” she said. “But it’s like, ‘Hey, I control all the money and all the power, so sorry for you.’”

Depressing times at the model UN, which looks to be remarkably similar to the real UN. The biggest downer amid this crowd of precocious and often despisable adolescents comes from one of the staff:

Eric Kardas, a teaching assistant assigned to the U.S. delegation, explained that America is necessarily the 800-pound gorilla at the model U.N. “The United States needs to command every committee,” he said. “If there’s a weak American delegation, committees fall apart.”

The choice appears to be "America wins" or "Everybody loses". What a hugely positive outlook.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Silent Contemplation


Silent Contemplation
Originally uploaded by Mr Jonty.
Long day in London on Friday. Train at 7, working breakfast at 9, briefing at 10, interview at 12, afternoon spent on the phone and on email trying to chase up stuff that was sufficiently urgent that I couldn't leave it for the two hours required to get back to Bath. I went out with Gril & chums in the evening, missed all the trains, and discovered he had a new tenant in his block of flats when we returned. I felt the pose should be recorded.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Coursework

Helping my sister with an essay.

Debbie says:
the other bit i really hate is 'whilst Fowles can afford to take more liberties with criticising society in the twentieth century as the modern reader is encouraged to embrace multiculturalism and differing religious ideas

Debbie says:
originally i just said we're all secular humanists and christianity was dead

Jonty says:
Haha.

Debbie says:
apparently i have to be more 'subtle'

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Pretty


nature_HIV_small2
Originally uploaded by Mr Jonty.

An atomic-level picture of a key portion of an HIV surface protein as it looks when bound to an infection-fighting antibody. Unlike much of the constantly mutating virus, this protein component is stable and—more importantly, say the researchers—appears vulnerable to attack from this specific antibody, known as b12, that can broadly neutralize HIV.

More here.
Youthful enterprise

Because I've been working on a launch for the last year or so, I - and the rest of the team - haven't had much contact with readers, for the good and sufficient reason we didn't have any beyond the focus groups. Now, the magazine is on the shelves - with our Live Messenger addresses in it. And so it begins.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Humans Are Awesome

I discovered, by means of Ben Goldacre's extensive deconstruction of Gillian McKeith, the meaning of the term "cargo cult" - expanded by Wikipedia, naturally. And then that leads to this beautifully understated entry.

I'm highly sceptical of the cited source but I think I can just let it go and cherish the moment.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Sweatting it

One of the many Microsoft blogs I subscribe to is credited to M3 Sweatt. I had assumed this was another one of those hilarious programming jokes. If this is a subcategory of humour you're unfamiliar with, hold your sides closed and gaze upon this comedy gold courtesy of The Daily WTF:

my $send_button =
( !$rAuth->permits(SEND)
? ''
: $status != 1
? '' #'[Mailing must be unlocked to send now]'
: $approved
? $send_now
? '' #'[Mailing in Progress]'
: qq(


type="image"
name="send"
src="$::root/sendit.png"
alt="Send"
border="0"
class="form-align"
>


type="hidden"
name="state"
value="$sh"
>

)
: $send_now
? '' #'[Cancelling]'
: '' #'[Approval Required]' )
);

Soaked my keyboard in tears of laughter, that one. Anyway, this blog linked to an article today that interviewed the author, and it transpires that his name is actually M3 Sweatt. It's his real name. He doesn't appear to be some form of street-level DJ type, either:

Sweatty!

What bemuses me more than anything else is that nowhere does history - well, the internet, which is supplanting history so rapidly we might as well just go with it - record why he would have such a name. It's obviously prime Google bait, so it's very easy to find every last thing he's posted using it, but nowhere does anybody seem to have tapped him on the shoulder and asked him why the hell his first name is a Scrabble piece. Is this some industry 'thing' that nobody talks about? Or is it such a transparent piece of Californian pretention that nobody dares bring it up in case he starts being cool and individual about it?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Want




Featuring:

> integrated neck pillow in the hood
> pull down light shield to cover eyes
> cuff thumb holes
> internal pocket for tickets and passports
> hidden stash pocket with ear plugs
> pit zips to keep you ventilated

Not quite sure about the last one, but it sounds an admirable replacement for my "any old hoody and a laptop bag full of technojunk" mainstay.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

More Suitably

Five celebrities who would be really bad choices for narrating in-car GPS systems

  • Joe Pasquale
  • Tim Westwood
  • Woody Allen
  • MC Hammer
  • Sinistar


Five celebrities who would be really great choices for narrating in-car GPS systems, assuming you want to get there very quickly

  • Samuel L Jackson
  • Laurence Fishburne
  • Vin Diesel
  • That Guy Who Does The Movie Trailer Narration
  • Jack Bauer

Concept stolen, again, from 5ives.

Incidentally

Another thing about Image Hosted by ImageShack.us is that it's all about instant Image Hosted by ImageShack.us. Thus, I can enforce really terrible, mid 1990's newsletter designs on you at will. At will! Ahahaha. Given that most of said newsletters were brimming with bitchy remarks, overuse of exclamation marks and terrifying belief in the self-worth of the author, it's clear they were the forerunner of blogs anyway, so Comic Sans dragged into the third dimension is a development long overdue.

This line of thinking does overlook goth and emo, which as far as I know never flourished in newsletter form. Of course, I suppose the point would be that nobody read it; maybe childhood bedrooms across the globe contain crude WordPerfect creations marked "Distribution: 2. Me and the heartless, uncaring world."

EDIT: Turns out it doesn't do WordArt. Or image hosting to anything other than your own server. Rubbish.

Favourite Auntie

While I'm still blogging for the novelty of this Word interface... going through my RSS feeds after two weeks without broadband (which wasn't that challenging, I have to say. I was waiting for withdrawal symptoms that never came) I come across the news that the BBC plans to put its training resource online.

I do like the BBC (unlike Paul Dacre, it appears) and it's this sort of thing that means I don't begrudge it the licence fee. While I almost never watch television, I come across all sorts of BBC content all over the place, I listen to radio a lot and I'm a huge user of the BBC News website. I think the site justifies a big whack of money all by itself, and I'll cheerfully pay for having witless advertising removed. If they could hurry up and do a radio station completely bereft of DJs – just news and music – then I'll be just about ready to get the tattoo.

I know, this is a standard and uninteresting blog post. Give me time, I'm catching up here.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Oh no, it’s the future

Two more things:

  • I'm publishing blog posts from within Word 2007, running on Windows Vista. It's worryingly satisfying.
  • This is now a house of four bloggers. I worry about what may happen if there is strife over washing up.

Moving story

I knew that this month would be horrible, because we had to finish the magazine, and the website, and the endless array of other bits and pieces involved in a big launch like this. When it's finally all over I'm going to sit down and work out just how many posters, mini-magazines, Powerpoint presentations, web graphics and custom DVD cases we had to create and see how horrifying the resultant pile is. Remarkable we managed to do a magazine as well, really. Anyway, obviously this was the perfect time to move house.

I've harboured a low-level desire to move out of the old place for over a year now, but never mustered the energy – not least because I've spent most of said year in the office. John, however, being a filthy freeloaderlancer, had more time to sit at home all day and really savour the broken lights, non-functional heating, and slowly peeling wallpaper, and as some other types were also looking for new digs a decision was made to move on. I thought about going solo – every move I've made since university has been a steadily decreasing number of cohabitees, so there was a mathematical precedent – but that was expensive and took more time than I had, so I just rolled with the group and we've finished up in a former student house a long way up one of Bath's more cardiac-endangering hills.

The move itself came at about the worst possible time: four days before the final print deadline, when I was already crazed from two weeks of overwork and sleep deprivation. I was working fourteen hour days so hadn't had time to pack anything and John hadn't done much either, and I didn't help matters by drinking heavily on the previous Friday evening in an attempt to unwind after the week. I managed to get up and over the van hire place a mere 45 minutes after the stated start time of 8am, and showed up chez Craig looking like the living dead. Handily, he's already moved about four times in the last twelve months so was able to introduce an air of consummate professionalism while I concentrated on not ending it all by creative use of an IKEA shelving unit.

The next movee was supposed to be Graham, but he wasn't ready either so I just went back and slept for two hours while John packed up. I then had to go to work, which meant there was quite a lot of stuff ready to go when we started moving again at about half-past four. A couple of friends who'd been unwise enough to be spare this weekend showed up mid-day and helped, and we managed to get John, some furniture and half the kitchen over before giving up around 10pm.

Next day the toil continued. My parents arrived expecting to give a hand with the final cleanup to discover the flat still half full of crap and friend busy at Wii Sports. The rest of the day was spent pushing filial relations to breaking point by carrying boxes, scrubbing three years' worth of crap off things and discovering new and exciting stains beneath long-static items of furniture. Graham, meanwhile, got to sit around in his living room, utterly without distraction because his entire life was packed in binbags, getting progressively less helpful text messages from me as it became clear that we were never going to get it all done.

Proceedings were enlivened by a trip to the dump, where we had to spend five minutes explaining that just because my father drives a van he is not in fact engaged in commercial waste disposal – at one point we were assured it would be okay if we emptied the rental van, filled it from Dad's van, then emptied it again – and thanks to truly heroic effort from the family team we managed to get all the big stuff – including Graham - moved in before exhaustion took over in late evening.

That wasn't the end, though. Oh no. The end didn't even come later in the week: my proposed time off got eaten up by doing photoshoots and we had to resort to first delaying the checkout by two hours as we vainly attempted to get carpets looking remotely disease-free, then giving up and hiding stuff in the garage. We overloaded the car so much I had my first crash in ten years of driving, and even once the letting agent had showed up, knocked fifty quid off the deposit for not cleaning the fucking oven lid and checked us out, there were still five boxes, two chairs, an electric radiator and two cars left on the property.

It's now the second weekend after the move: I type surrounded by boxes that I've not had the time to unpack and rubbish I've not had time to dump. I had to bring a washing machine we don't need and don't have the space for, the house is overflowing with unwanted furniture and the garage we were told came with the house turned out to have been sub-let to an enraged pensioner who did not take kindly to me jamming the lock trying to open it. There's still a car left in the old place that I can't even face thinking about, much less moving.

But we do have space, and the broadband is working, sort of, and I've avoided takeaway food all week. There's a Wii with Bomberman and Mario Kart 64 (and some Twilight Princess thing that I have no truck with.) And next week the magazine launches, and the website launches, and it'll all start to settle down. I'm wondering how I'll cope when it does.