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Thursday 22 March, 2007
#[Arabica]XSLT: Tests again

Working away on the OASIS test suite again. My numbers are now 2742 run, 1549 failures, 53 errors. Progress, I'd call it.Getting better all the time :) 2742/1492/30 [added 23rd Mar 2007]
2742/1486/30. Yay [added 23rd Mar 2007]
2742/1483/30 [added 23rd Mar 2007]
2742/1477/30. I really should get on with my conference slides. [added 23rd Mar 2007]
2742/1421/30. Should really be in bed now. [added 24th Mar 2007]
2742/1409/30. Ok, that's it. [added 24th Mar 2007]

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Wednesday 21 March, 2007
#[linkfarm] 2000 AD Prog Slog Blog - One day in 1977, a nine-year-old boy with some hair and wearing national health glasses wandered into his favourite shop (the local newsagent) and bought the first issue of 2000 AD. Thirty years later, he bought the same comic again (this time minus the original free space spinner sticky-back-plasticed to the cover) along with most of the following 1, 180 issues in an eBay auction ... there [are] many years of 2000 ADís for me yet to read and, if you include all the Annuals, Specials and related publications (such as Star Lord) that I am seeking out relating to this project ... the task is much bigger than just the 1, 180 comics won in the original auction ... Will this experiment result in, as Tharg the Mighty has warned of many times in his editorials over the years, thrill power overload or will I, like Morgan Spurlock in the documentary Supersize Me, end up being sick a lot and twenty five pounds heavier?
How will my chum Paul fare? Ken, perhaps you can offer advice?

   * Ken [e] said Solid common-sense, bleeding-obvious advice has just been left at Paul's blog...take your time, keep up with the fluids and open a window once a day ;)

[added 21st Mar 2007]

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Monday 19 March, 2007
#Are your friends still here?

asked Hal when I got him up this morning. "I want to play that game with them. Not the complicated game you were playing the other day. The game that goes in the chest. The snakes and ladders game."

"Sorry, little Hal" I replied, "they went home yesterday."

"Will they come back again?"

"Yes, but not for a while, but I'm maybe we can play a game with them next time." By the time they do come again, we'll probably be able to play something a little more advanced than snakes and ladders.

gremlin said You didn't come round and play Munchkin with me but I don't care. Much [added 19th Mar 2007]
I will, and I best get a move on about I suppose ... [added 20th Mar 2007]

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The friends in question were my Warps chums Andy and Anton, who had been over for the weekend. Our fourth man, JD, was unable to make it due to rather thoughtlessly knocking his wife up even thought he knew the date and everything. At University, we were all pretty solid role-play games. As grown-up occasional gamers, it's board gaming all the way with beer drinking and curry on the side. Yes, beer drinking and curry, get lost.

For some time our game of choice has been Carcassonne, which is a terrific game, clever and subtle. Daniel joined us for a game, got a racing start and very nearly won it. Little git. We also had a Tom Wham double bill of Awful Green Things From Outer Space followed by Kings and Things. Probably means nothing to most of you reading this, but I'm sure someone somewhere will be having a little nostalgia moment. The surprise hit was the Dungeons and Dragons board game, which Andy had picked up for a few quid in a remindered bookshop. It's published by Parker, who make family boardgames that you buy in places like Toys'R'Us, and so as seasoned gamers we our expectations weren't high. To our surprise and pleasure, it's really quite a neat game and when we reconvene at Anton's place in September, we'll play it some more.

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We first clocked onto Carcassonne more or less by chance. We were having our second Warps get together, at Anton's place. On a whim, I made my first visit to a games shop in probably 10 years, Dungeons and Starships in Digbeth (now defunct I think). There was a game going on around a large table in the back half of the shop. They didn't look up. If you've read High Fidelity, you might recall the description of the record shop and how it's kept deliberately gloomy to deter casual trade. Dungeons and Starships had that feel, but nonetheless the chubby, bearded young chappy behind the counter, resplendent in purple shirt, was friendly and polite. I told him I want a game for gamers who hadn't gamed for ages. He went over and consulted briefly with the gamers, and pointed me at Carcassonne.

And they were right. Carcassonne is a top game. It's rules are simple, but subtle. I've played it with four, three, and two players and it works equally well in each case, although what makes good strategy changes. (That's not always the case, a game like Cosmic Encounter, for example, stinks up the place with two or three but comes alive with five or six.) You can play the game with a variety of strategies, there's a balance of luck and skill, and it rewards cooperative play at least to a certain extent.

Carcassonne is a tile laying game, so you build the board as you go and it's different every time. Each player, in turn, draws a tile from the box. Each tile features some combination of a road, a field and/or a city. You play your tile next to the tiles already on the table, matching up the features. You score points for completing a road or a city, or controlling a field. When all the tiles are placed, the game ends. A variety of expansions add extra tiles or add new rules - increasing the score of a city, say, but increasing the risk of not scoring at all.

If you're a lapsed gamer, or you want something more interesting to play with your kids, give it a look.

Mike [e] said Hey Jez!

We love Carcasonne - but we like Settlers of Catan even more. Have you tried that? If not, I'd heartily recommend it.

[added 2nd Apr 2007]

Mike! How are you?

I've read good things about it, although I haven't played it myself. I'll give it a look next time I'm in Wayland's Forge. Thanks. [added 2nd Apr 2007]
anonymous said I'm well thanks Jez! You?

We have the rivers expansion for Carcasonne - a worthwhile addition I think. And if you're after more board game recommendations, Ticket to Ride is pretty good too. [added 3rd Apr 2007]

Yes, we're all ticking along.

We have the rivers expansion - the extra one in addition to the one that comes in the box - but I don't think it really works when there are only two players. We also have Inns & Cathedrals which is top, The Count which I haven't really played enough but clearly works best with 4+, Princess and Dragon which I'm really not sure about, and King and Robber Baron which is good, although rarely a difference maker with 2 players. There are a couple of other expansions too, which I haven't got.

There's a big games festival coming up in Birmingham in the summer, where Ticket To Ride is one of the exhibition games. Looking forward to it. [added 5th Apr 2007]
usaceasse [e] said amiable site

I have an Iron Horse) This commitment be my second outing to Sturgis, we determination be leaving on July 28th and staying owing to the 8th.

[added 7th Jul 2009]

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I've started playing Carcassonne with Daniel. If he pays attention, he stands a reasonable chance of winning. On a tip off, Uncle Al bought Daniel Carcassonne - The Castle. It's a version of the original game reworked and tweaked for two players. Instead of building up an unbounded landscape, the tiles are placed within the bounds of a castle's wall. The scoring track runs around the edge of the board, and as you progress you can collect special counters which give extra rule variations. We have a good time with it. It's fun.

Mike [e] said Hi Jez,

Not sure if you have an XBox thingy or not, but you may be interested to know that they're offering Carcassonne for free for a couple of days:


Glad you like Ticket to Ride - did you get the version with the USA map (this is the original I believe) or the European map? [added 14th Nov 2007]

No, no XBox or any other thingy of that type in this house.

I took a bit of advice on Ticket to Ride and got the original USA map. The rules for the European edition are slightly more involved and, since I was going to be playing with a 7 year old most of the time, the lower-entry version seemed the way to go. Since then, we've added the 1910 expansion which adds more tickets and an extra end-of-game bonus. It also includes all the game cards at normal playing card size, replacing the original small ones.

There was a new expansion, based on a map of Switzerland, which came out in October. Cunningly, it's designed for 2 or 3 players. I have a strong suspicion we might end up with a copy around Christmas time :)

[added 14th Nov 2007]
Mike [e] said No Xbox in our house either, though rumour has it there may be some Wii bowling and tennis being played this Christmas :)

Thanks for the info on the Swiss version - looks interesting! We took Ticket to Ride and Settlers of Catan on holiday with us this year. Ticket to Ride got a lot more use - the shorter game time is quite appealing. [added 15th Nov 2007]

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Friday 16 March, 2007

I'm in the middle of writing a conference presentation which talks about some of what Mango does, I'm struggling for an example, and bam! There it is, what I need is an iterator that traverses a list in reverse order. So I wrote a test, wrote an iterator, then wrote it again in under five minutes. It's in subversion now.

You can pull the Mango code from

  svn co svn://jezuk.dnsalias.net/jezuk/mango/trunk

google [e] [w] said hello from google... [added 19th Mar 2007]

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Wednesday 14 March, 2007
#[linkfarm] Trident - and deterrence - Whereas I will be opposing the government's plans on this later today I thought I should put on record my views relating to this issue.
John Hemming, MP for the next constituency along, explains why he'll be voting against the renewal of Trident. I think he says he's in favour of retaining nuclear weapons though, but it's nearly impossible to parse his grammar.

   * Ken [e] said I've read this twice, and fail to see where he's going. It reads like several people have written the piece, head to tail, without seeing the previous contribution.

At one point is he advocating the use of more energetic conventional weaponry *instead* of nuclear, but has simply written the wrong words? I mean, we already have a submarine launching system. [added 15th Mar 2007]

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Monday 12 March, 2007
#[linkfarm] Llamasoft And The Space Giraffe
Jeff Minter shows off his work-in-progress to the pampered preeners at Google, and only about 20 people turn up. Tossbags!

   * Ken [e] said Not a gamer, but if you forced me I'd play Space Giraffe rather than some flashy rendered thingy. Looks like it would be a more immersive experience if combined with some pot and/or scrumpy...which I guess is Jeff's cocktail for success. I remember loading his first Llamasoft offering on cassette for the Speccy. Heady days. [added 12th Mar 2007]

As a young 'un, I'd read about Minter for months before first I played one of his games - Sheep in Space on my physics teacher's C64. Compared to the stuff I had for the Spectrum, it was in another league entirely. Now there are some terrific games written for the Spectrum, but nothing to touch the sheer bonkerness of what Minter was producing. Terrific thing is he's still doing it. The way he talks about Space Giraffe tells you that nothing is in there by chance. It's all there to make a better game, a game that really plays.

Google get really good people to go and talk to them, on all kinds of subjects. I'm at a loss to understand why so few people seem to be there to listen. Christ, if I had access to a programme as good as they appear to have, I'd make the effort.

If you're interested you can get a feel for the Minter way by grabbing the GridRunner++ demo (PC or Mac)

[added 12th Mar 2007]

   * Ken [e] said Flossie! [added 21st Mar 2007]

Pretty Sheepie! [added 21st Mar 2007]

   * allan@allankelly.net said Does seem unfortunate that he only got 20 people but that is still quite a few people. I first thought this recording seems to be from the London (Victoria) office. Still it looks like a smaller room than the one I've seen in other Google Talks.

Trouble is everyone is busy so 20 people is quite a success.

- I know, I used to organize the TechTalks at one of my old places.

Great that they asked him to speak, I do wonder how many of the kids in the audience have ever actually seen a Vic-20 or Spectrum.

Always glad to a fellow 6502 programmer in action, now that was a processor. [added 22nd Mar 2007]

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#[linkfarm] Balancing One-Wheeled Scooter
From Norwich!

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Sunday 11 March, 2007
#[linkfarm] XTS provides a unit testing framework for XSLT
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#[linkfarm] New Wiki for XSLT, XPath and XQuery
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Tuesday 06 March, 2007
#[linkfarm] Starbucks' 'venti' problem - "Some people," Schultz wrote, "even call our stores sterile, cookie cutter, no longer reflecting the passion our partners feel about our coffee."
No, really?

   * allankellynet said I think your cut and paste is playing up, you seem to have dropped the word "weak", as in "the passion our partners feel about our weak coffee."

I have no doubt Starbucks are passionate about coffee, or that their staff work hard and care, its just that they serve weak (read American) coffee.

[added 6th Mar 2007]

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Saturday 03 March, 2007

First ice cream van of the year. It was extremely loud but I didn't recognise the tune.

Previous years:

Ken [e] said Heard our first one here in around mid-Feb. I remember thinking how Daisy Daisy sounded out of place against a backdrop of a chilly northerly, and biting rain. Still, 'tis good to roll out the old fallback about how the van tune only plays when the man has run out of ice cream. [added 5th Mar 2007]

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Thursday 01 March, 2007
#[linkfarm] Xbox 360 cracked - Hardware hackers have developed a technique to hack Microsoft's Xbox 360 gaming console so that it might be possible to run alternative operating systems on the hardware.
Any body not see this coming?

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#[linkfarm] What Does XML Smell Like?

   * smellygit said poo [added 1st Mar 2007]

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#[linkfarm] Life-Long Computer Skills - Schools should teach deep, strategic computer insights that can't be learned from reading a manual.
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