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No idea why the hell I bought a Psion 3a a lottery ticket? Check out my previous blog post, “Coming of Age”.
It wasn’t a good sign, I suppose, when I switched the old Psion on this evening and discovered naught but vertical black bands on the display. It took a good few power cycles, lid closes and a strenuous massage of its hinges before it finally spluttered back into 16-bit (Multi Tasking!) life. But it made it in the end, just in time to discover what fate had in store for it.
Now, there are a few ways of finding out what the night’s lottery numbers were. First, one can tune into the live draw on television. However, the TV guide indicated that the show was presented by Scott Mills, so that option was immediately discounted. No blog stunt is worth 10 minutes’ exposure to Scott Mills. The next method is going to the lottery website, but this was discounted just as quickly - I didn’t want to shock the poor old girl by showing her what BBSes had become.
Ah, but there is of course a third option more befitting of the Psion’s age. I speak, of course… of Teletext. Trust me, I am as shocked as you that this thing still exists. Hell, I was pretty surprised that my TV still had an analogue receiver. So, to page 555 on BBC CEEFAX we went, the Psion checked her numbers, and… Yeah, we didn’t win. A paltry single number, in fact, only a third of the way to the £10 lowest prize.
And that, I suppose, is the end of the road for the old Psion 3a.
I remember virtually idolising these things when I was a kid - I’d been though innumerable personal organisers and proto-PDAs, but to have a Psion 3, with their high-resolution screens and the little touch-sensitive app buttons, the voice recorder, the programming environment… This thing was an object of desire as far as I was concerned. And it was certainly an improvement over its predecessor, the Psion 2, which I somehow also had despite it being nearly as old as I was.
Yet now the 3a headed for the great landfill in the sky, an anachronism in today’s world. It takes expansion cards that nobody sells, communicates with a PC through a cable that nobody has and software that no-one can run. My cellphone has a processor 70 times faster, with 200 times more RAM. In my pocket I carry 10,000 times more storage than this thing has. In a world soon to be rolling its way into the year 2010, it is less than useless.
And yet, despite that, I will be sorry to see it go.
The other day, while excavating the depths of our airing cupboard-turned-junk pile, I discovered possibly the oldest gadget I own: a Psion Series 3a… thingy. Time has obscured from my memory what we actually called these things when they were new. It certainly wasn’t ‘netbook’ - was it ‘palmtop’? After some new batteries and a non-trivial number of blunt impacts against the table to reseat the display connector, it spluttered into life. The back of the unit declares it to have been made in 1993, so this thing is sixteen years old.
Now where I am, at sixteen, one can do the following:
Drive a scooter
Have heterosexual sex
Marry (heterosexually) with your parents’ consent
Enter full-time employment
Play the lottery.
There are a few issues with most of these. Driving a scooter is clearly beyond the poor thing’s capabilities. It appears to have expansion slots, so I’m going to go ahead and consider it female. Now that by default makes all other Psion 3as female, so marriage (within its own species at least) is presumably out. I have no expansion cards to put in it, and now I’ve mentally pidgeonholed that as “having sex” I’m not sure I even want to. Full-time employment is out as I’m not sure it does anything that peoples’ cellphones don’t these days. And that just leaves playing the lottery. Well, then.
These things can be programmed in a language called OPL, which appears to be so antiquated that even the internet has largely forgotten it. I’m immensely grateful to Gareth and Jane Saunders, who seem to be the only people left with an OPL-related webpage that hosts the programmers’ manual.
In the UK, one picks six numbers between 1 and 49 for each draw. Six numbers and a bonus are chosen by the lottery machine, and matching all of the main six is a jackpot (odds about 14 million to one). Matching three is the lowest prize, £10 at odds of about 56 to one. So, not really confident we’ll be winning anything here. Still, onwards!
Making sure all six numbers it picks are different would take more than the three minutes I’m prepared to spend in contact with OPL - damn thing doesn’t even have FOR loops. I’ll just run the program again if it picks two the same. So here’s possibly the shortest program I’ve ever written:
PROC lottery: LOCAL count%, n% RANDOMIZE(MINUTE+SECOND) PRINT "Lottery Numbers: "; DO n% = (RND*48+1) PRINT n%; PRINT " "; count% = count% + 1 UNTIL (count% = 6) GET ENDP
And when translated (translated? really?) and run, it does indeed produce lottery numbers. So - to the newsagents! And back, lottery ticket - and granulated sugar - in hand.
Having foolishly switched the thing off in the meantime, it took a few seconds of mashing the On button and opening and closing the lid to coax it back into life. But back to life it came, long enough to pick its six numbers. And now, we wait to see what fate befalls this aged device.
Will it quietly be replaced by gadgets a decade and a half its junior? Or become a palmtop millionaire, and, er… and I’ll have to work out what the heck a Psion 3a would do with a million quid. Tune in on Saturday night to find out!
The lottery results are in! You can find out what happened in my next blog post, here. Spoilers: I am still not a millionaire.
The phone company Orange appear to be giving out free headphone adapters as part of some promotion or other. So, naturally, on the bandwagon I jumped to see if I could grab some that would work with my phone. I filled in the form, clicked Submit, and thought nothing of it for the next two weeks.
Then I get a failed delivery note through the door. I’m expecting a few of these for various people’s presents, most of which I’ve ordered off the internet. But it’s a letter, apparently, and Special Delivery - so it needs signing for. “Strange,” think I, “I’m not sure I ordered anything flat enough to be considered a letter.” So down to the sorting office I go, and pick up… this. A something-bigger-than-A3-sized plastic ‘envelope’, that feels like it contains a piece of paper. Weird.
So I attempt to unpack said piece of paper. First thing of note, the envelope-thing is oily. Not visibly so, but I had to stop in the ASDA bathrooms just to wash whatever gunk it was off my hands. And, once finally inside, I discover… two pieces of paper! Once of which is the delivery note. The other, a full A4 sheet of 6-point text. “Terms and Conditions”.
What the heck?
Just in case, I rummage some more, and at the very bottom of the bag, I find a small black object, maybe a centimetre long at most. And, once I’d found some light to see it properly by - my god, it’s a headphone adapter! I very nearly threw the bag away without finding the damn thing.
And, just to complete the aura of bizarrity surrounding the whole thing, it of course is not even the right plug to fit my phone.
So, er, anyone want a 2.5mm to 3.5mm jack adapter? Be warned, I may send it to you in a full-length shipping container.
I’ve tweeted this already, but just so it goes out to LiveJournal and other blog-followers too:
The great Googly gods have blessed me with a bajillion Google Wave invites. I have 20 left right now. First 20 people to send me their e-mail address get ‘em.
I’ll send out the invites as quickly as I can, but they won’t get to you immediately. When I got sent mine originally, it took nearly a week, so don’t sit there refreshing your inbox!
I can’t be the only one thinking along these lines right now, so… have blog, will rant.
I think Peter Mandelson has too much power.
First off, he’s unelected, not having been a Member of Parliament since 2004. So how come he manages to be such a prominent figure in the Government? How is he even still heavily favoured by the Labour Party, despite having resigned (twice) over involvement with various scandals? How come his anti-filesharing agenda, which headlined the Queen’s Speech, seems to be being calmly accepted as the law-to-be despite the fact that is was transparently influenced by lobbying from the entertainment industry? To say nothing of how much of an insane overreaction his anti-piracy plans actually are (but that’s for another post, one I’ve probably already made some months ago).
And now this? If there’s any truth in that, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such a brazen and dangerous power-grab. We didn’t vote Mandelson in, we can’t vote Mandelson out, and now he’s aiming for the power to make laws and impose them on ISPs and individuals in the name of protecting copyright.
Am I the only one thinking this isn’t quite the Democracy we had in mind?
The rain here is not falling or even pouring. It is constant, pervasive. As you look into the grey mist a hundred metres away in all directions, if you’re lucky, you can make out the merest hint of an angle to signify the way the squally wind is buffeting the maelstrom.
I left work early in order to do some photography this afternoon. With hindsight, of course, this was a silly plan. Even sillier my lack of coat and umbrella today - the thrice-damned weather forecast, of course, promised only drizzle. I wore my heavy-weather trials gear on the half-hour walk to the station, but to my regret I only bothered to take the jacket.
Net result: my upper body is baking hot - the gear is designed for much colder and wetter things than dry land can provide - while my trousers now stick uncomfortably to my legs and drip puddles into my boots.
Next time the weather is bad enough for me to get the foulies out, I must remember to take the trousers, gloves and wellies too. Or a taxi. Maybe I should just remember to take a taxi.
Right, having pitched a roleplaying game setting with the caveat that I wouldn’t run it, I appear to have acquired four potential players. So, here’s the deal.
With four or possibly five committed players, I will run an online game. It will be run on a wiki rather than on a forum like RPoL. I will deal with the entropy problem the same way I did for In Love and War: game threads will not necessarily wait for you. If multiple characters are doing things in a thread, and one of them stops posting, it will be assumed that they’re not doing anything interesting. If you want to do something and it’s really critical that the world waits for you, let me know. The usual solution is to split off into a 1 player + GM only thread.
The game is not necessarily Reawakening. I will put what I run up to a vote. (Leave comments wherever you happen to be reading this.) Here is a list of games that I have come up with or been asked to run, but haven’t run yet.
- Reawakening (Punk faeries)
- Dreaming Awake 2 - though very little could convince me to run this online rather than face-to-face.
- Beyond the Fields we Know (oWoD Virtual Adepts) - this game is only really cool when played realtime over IRC, SSH etc. I don’t have the time to run this right now, really. If rampaging hordes of potential players appear, I may consider it, player count for it is about 20.
- What Lies Beyond Broadlands Road (Comedy Changeling, product of too much alcohol)
- War on Terror: The RPG (Comedy super-power game) - pregenned characters only, this is a two-hour convention game really
- In the Night Garden (Kids TV + Cthulhu) - I am too sober to run this
- The Time War (Doctor Who + Feng Shui)
- A currently not-thought-out 7th Sea Explorers Society game
- A currently not-thought-out Nobilis game
Advance warning: All these ideas require a bit more work before I’d consider them playable games, so when there’s consensus on what I’m running, I’ll spend a few days working on background fluff, then we can start character gen.
Any questions? =D
I have thought up yet another setting for a roleplaying game that I will probably never get to run. This may be of interest to my former “Changeling: In Love and War” players since it’s in the same world, though the feel of it is completely different. Pretty much the opposite, in fact.
I have two words for you: Punk fairies.
I feel that the order of the Universe has somehow been challenged. And defeated.
Note: The account is @fakerupe, so er, yeah.
Once again, the world has whirled its way around its orbit and arrived back at what us mammals call “November”. Perhaps it’s the shortening days, the wind and rain, or maybe just the after-effects of Hallowe’en, but November has had a strange effect on me in recent years. At University, certainly, after a Summer away and an October of re-settling in, November was when the drama started rearing its ugly head.
Then, as now, it’s most marked by a feeling of disconnection - that there’s some distance between myself and the real world. Chores go undone, meals uneaten, important things forgotten, and my brain floats between creativity, blank ‘meh’, and frustrated boredom. Combined with the residual Unseelie feelings from the Hallowe’en just passed, and the leaves blowing past in the wind, it puts me in a strange place.
Incidentally, I wrote a (very) short story. It’s far more upbeat than the rest of this blog entry, and as a bonus will only consume about two minutes of your life. It’s here:
Read, share, enjoy, etc. Happy All Hallows’ Day!