Welcome back!

Sometimes life tries to throw as much as it can at you – during such days getting time to update the site / muck about online can be a struggle to say the least.

So what’s been happening while I’ve been off air? (I won’t bother you with the dull, stressful stuff – I’m sure you have enough of that sort of thing in your own life.)

1. First off, Internet Explorer seems to have fallen out with the site. Sorry about that – I’ll try and fix it ASAP.

2. Next up, Nokia have finally killed the Symbian OS. This, unless you’re a US technology ‘journalist’, is a bad thing. “But I had a N96 / 97 and it was awful,” I hear you think. Yes, good point. After the amazing N95 they were horrifically poor phones, however did you use an N8 loaded with Symbian Belle? That OS is fantastic. It’s the best looking mobile OS and is wonderfully versatile. I’ve been out of contract for a while now, which would normally mean updating to the latest device, however I and still have and love using my N8. Why? Because nothing on the market today can do everything it does. Which is very annoying. Why Nokia seems to take one step forward then two steps backwards, have a sit down, a little nap, ponder about moon fairies, decided maybe it should possibly make something not bad, change it’s mind and so on, I don not know. I’m sure their Windows phones are great, but until they can do what the N8 does (FM transmitter – so you can beam your music to a radio), HDMI out, so you can plug the phone into a TV (you can also plug it into a CRT TV if you wish) to play music via your surround sound kit, or watch bits and bobs you’ve filmed or movies in HD, it can record sound clips in stereo and can be used to read USB storage devices (when plugged in to said USB stick / HDD), I’m not going to bother.

Yes, Symbian was fragmented and had quirks, but what a loss.

3. We moved house.

Mrs. Thornway and myself now have a garden! It’s not a big garden, but there’s some grass there (when the snow’s not decided to make an appearance). Downstairs is almost decorated and we have broadband again! Life without internet is not good.

4. Due to the lack of broadband (BT decided to cancel out order six times for reasons beyond me) we were given a YouView box, a couple of internet plug adapters, for free (including free delivery, along with some money off our bill – rah!). I didn’t know much about YouView, but it had a PVR and we didn’t have one at the moment, so I thought I’d give it a go – and I’m very glad I did. This thing beats both Freeview and surprisingly, Sky.

Sky+ or Sky HD as all the kids have now is a really good device, however YouView just seems better. It’s far faster to boot up (when not in eco mode) and it’s quicker scanning through the EPG as well. The ability to go back in time to check out programs you’ve missed is pure witchcraft. If your phone line / broadband is playing up, nag your provider for one of these things, you’ll be very happy if you get one.

5. What else? I met Ronnie and co at The North West Regional Gaming Centre, Hallam Mill, Stockport, where Mantic’s Clash of Kings tournament was being held. If you’re into gaming, miniatures, painting that sort of thing, then get yourself along to one of Mantic’s events, you won’t regret it.

6. Speaking of Mantic, I got a copy of DreadBall. What’s DreadBall? Go here for more details. Figures have been glued and paint has been applied. I’ve not painted a miniature for years – I forgot how much I enjoyed it. The first DreadBall game takes place this week, let’s hope Team Panache don’t perform too badly!

7. I’ve finished editing a book which I can’t really talk about at the moment, however the publisher is pleased and wants me to work on the next one. I’ll give you more details on this as soon as I can. 

8. I have to mention the little matter of Rispin Quill, The Dragon Tongue Book Two – I’m happy to say that everything is coming together nicely! It’s a shame writing takes so long!

Retro thoughts

With working and running around I don’t seem to have played any computer / console games for a while – until the Play Expo in Manchester the other week, of course. That place seems to have given me the bug again.

To correct my mistake, I’ve fired up Tekken 4 on the recently dusted PS2 (‘Ultra Hard’ setting, obv!), which is great, but annoying. I’m experiencing that feeling that most gamers probably have had, where you were once pretty much invincible at a game, then don’t play it for ages, then return, expecting to be the master, however you get your backside well and truly kicked. I know, I know – it just means I need more practise. (If you’re waiting on tenterhooks for The Dragon Tongue book two I bet you’re delighted to read this! Don’t worry, writing comes first, however we’ve all seen The Shining and we all know what ‘all work and no play’ does to a writer, right?)

Having the retro bug got me thinking about favourite games of all time. One of these is the (just slightly older than Tekken 4) masterpiece called Avalon, which was released in 1984 for the ZX Spectrum. I loved that game, but never finished it. (To have game saves back then!) I’d be very happy if Sony released an emulator for the PS3 with tons of these gems. Anyway, here’s a YouTube video walkthrough of one of the best games ever…. *projects soul*

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