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Sunday, 18 February 2018

Slide scanner and snes.

First up  here is some news about an undumped commercial SNES game that for all intents an purposes got missed out on.  Its not especially good mind but it is in Swedish so there's that if you will. 

The game is Tintin In Tibet a crappy late era platformer that got about 40% in Superplay back in the day (they did a list of all the worst things you could get attacked by, which includes such things as bells and a pacifist Buddhist monks) and as noted before it had an official if undumped Swedish translation.

Been reading through Byuu's twitter updates as he has been dumping out obscure SNES and Super Famicom games for preservation and he casually mentioned it was part of a collection he was rom dumping.  Not earth shattering but thought it worthwhile sharing here.

Also have an Ion Slide scanner now so I can make headway on the backlog of slides and negatives we have indoors.  Will be backing up everything to disc and external HD just in case it all goes to hell. 

So far its not a bad device you'll get most of the negative in shot when scanning and it has basic image manipulation properties.  Mac owners are going to be disappointed that the last version it supports is 10.7 which is Lion, but other than that its good at what it does.  (don't ask about linux  I haven't tried it and you'd need WINE to get the program disc installed).

You can have this picture as proof of concept.

Echinocacti at Los Christianos

Sunday, 11 February 2018

We Wuz Cheddar Man

There's a excellent article in the Grauniad (no seriously) where scientists have resequenced the DNA of one of the first inhabitants of the British Isles, and its proven some food for thought.  Previously thought to be white, Cheddar man, as he is known, has the markers for blue eyes and dark or black skin. 

Of course there will be people saying that its not like that, and there's me working out, that if Cheddar man is black then what kind of modern day tribe would he have come from.

Other questions arise such as, when did whiteness arise as such in the UK population?, were the Neanderthals white? seeing as they had a good 300,000 years on Homo Sapiens, and why does he look like a town drunk.

I had a cursory look for Berber's on Image search, due to notion that they were Africans with blue eyes, and there is quite some variation in skin tone, there.  True most of it is through mixing races and such but I can't shake off that his skin looks like Mahogany and would love to see what he would look like if he had more of a natural skin tone.  

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Childhood books.

So Ursula Le Guin died recently and its set up a few things in my mind that never were. Namely she wrote a book about a girl that could turn into a bear and that.  Can remember it so well, as a child it was one of the books that we were read to in class by our teacher (possibly by Miss James or a Miss Grealey) along with the Lion The Witch and  The Wardrobe.

Sadly after a few hours fruitless searching it turned out it was a false memory and what I  was actually remembering was the book Ursula Bear by Sheila Lavelle.  A girl called Ramona (Not the same one from Ramona and Beavis) finds a book of spells in a library that can turn her into a bear.  By repeating I'm a Bear she could change and by reversing it and saying Raeb am I she changed back. 

With this aced I decided to look for another book or series of books we had at school (Mid 80's this would be, complete with school milk and full on Garbage Pail Kid craze to boot).  This was a series of books featuring a dog called Shorty which were I suppose for less capable readers.  I  read these while I was supposed to be paying attention to the teacher (this time a Mr Bissett, he could play the piano and was cool). This was actually much easier to find as they had a picture of a scruffy mutt on the cover which after all these years I could pick out on Google Images.

Written by James Webster  they were a series of books starring this dog along with other stories too.  Its been ages since I've read them, and the artwork alone is enough for some serious nostalgia trip for me. 

This is the sort of thing we read.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Dead Presidents

So that whole Damian Green thing ended in him being sacked in the end. Just so you know.  Frame up job or not it seems he was a harasser of sorts and that and teh pron got him fired.

In related news the BBC is running wild with a story from the Financial Times that the President Club is the worst thing ever.  I came back from watching France 24 over lunch and was going back to work when this whole harassment thing was the lead story.  No mention of the Taliban's attack on the Save the  Children mission in Afghanistan or anything just blanket wall to wall coverage of a fundraising night gone wrong. 

Billed as the most un PC night ever, several very rich and powerful men decided to be jerks whilst giving to charity, cue groping and some inappropriate hand holding.  Several of the charities gave back all the donations that were given which is a fucking cop out  in my eyes.  Just trouser the cash and be done with it, I know you have moral scruples and such but a donation is a donation.  Beggars (and I've seen your adverts on TV) cannot be choosers.

All the usual bollocks about the *wage gap and patriarchy was wheeled out and Jess Phillips stood up and said words and did very little, as she always does.  In the end it'll blow over and nothing will change, because fundamentally all that complaining does very little to end the genuine sexism that you see in the Arab world for instance where Saudi Arabia very generously let women drive for the first time unaccompanied.  We aren't perfect in the west but I always thought we are on a constant upward spiral of getting there via rights and stuff are concerned.

*1970 Equal Pay act.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

R.I.P. Bob Wakelin

It seems we have some sad news here as Graphic Designer and artist Bob Wakelin has passed away.  For those who didn't know and that includes me in this, Bob did the Box Art to most of Oceans and Imagine Games back in  the 80's.  So all those cool conversions of 80's arcade games and film licenses where graced with his art, that and Wizball.

My favourite art apart from the aforementioned Wizball has to be Rainbow Islands and Comic Bakery, with New Zealand Story and Mikie as a runner up.  I do have a soft spot for Comic Bakery as it just looks like a chef being set upon by marauding raccoons which is always a bonus. That and the tape is one of the few I have out that hasn't been packed away in the loft.

Rainbow Islands is a pretty good conversion of the coin op by Graftgold and the box art reflected this, with Bub running away from a cute spider with some bees looking on. Also this was replicated  to some degree on the C64 version and I guess other versions too.

The Amiga version and most of the 8 bit ports were actually quite amazing, though its a multi load for all tape versions (and quite liable to fail back then as well). The exception being the rubbish US NES version which looks like a bad children's book. Though Fami version is nice.

Wizball and its style is so western and clean it reminds me of a story books or video artwork back then.  Pretty good C64 game with it too.


Sunday, 14 January 2018

Return To Urban Outfitters with advice

Its been a year to the day that I wrote about them having cacti in Urban Outfitters.  Decided to head back to Bluewater and see if they still do them and such.

First up was a look in M&S who seem  to have a nice display on convergent evolution with their one cactus and one Euphorbia in a nice white china pot.  We decided to head upstairs to Urban Outfitters and have a look to see if they were still selling cacti. 

Guess I should say that they still were but everything was on sale.  Everything on sale was on its last legs. Plants that had desiccated away to nothing, Chlorophyll less Gymno mutants whose grafting stock was just a mass of rot and stuff, thus dooming them to a early demise, and worse of all the little pots of seedlings were nearly all gone the same way.  

Taking a closer look at the stuff they were growing in, it seems that the bigger £6 plants were growing in peat with a horrible glued on layer of dyed gravel.  The thimble pots were seemingly just glue and dyed gravel, which accounts for the high casualty list I saw.

My advice for anyone buying of the cacti in the sale is get something healthy, that isn't leggy and if its one of those colour mutations that the graft its on is green, because that is the only way its getting any goodness to it.

When you get it home take it out of its pot and replace the peat its in with some soil based compost.
In the UK we have John Innes No3. as a good compost base, you'll want to add some grit to this (fish tank gravel is ideal although any small stone is good) about 3 handfuls of soil to one of gravel.

You can keep the clay pot if you will, unless its one of those thimble pots then you can put it in a 2" plastic pot which will be fine. 

Put it in a south facing window or whatever place gets the most light and water weekly from Fools Day (April 1st) to the end of September (if you have central heating then pull this forward a few weeks if not this is fine).  (Though this is dependent on where you live and climate too)

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Digitiser 25

This year sees the 25th anniversary of the birth of Teletext. I've written before on how I came about this, or at least sure I have anyway.  For the uninitiated Teletext was kinda like a text based internet on your TV, supplying you with information and even rudimentary games and stuff. 
It had a comic strip Turner the Worm which I liked, a music page, a sci fi page and best of all Digitiser a gaming page. 

Coming off from writing a terrible school zine and finding someone doing it with similar tastes in humour on the TV(though mine was more non PC and such) was a revelation.  We only really found out about it due to Super Play magazine championing it along with Fast Show quotes and such. 

Used to watch it while having lunch, which meant channel 4 and having to put up with Channel 4 schools programmes (no hardship, would like to know if any of them survived, specifically the Northern Irish one which went on about the little Whammy) and Friends which is fuck awful.

The best of all was one day they had the Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde, to date the only opera I can stomach.

If you want to relive the first four or so days and such, here are the links to each day.

Monday New years day.
Thursday final Day.