Free Gift For First Hundred Customers

I’m sure that by now you’ll all be aware of the upcoming opening of Nice ‘n’ Naughty, the latest in a chain of sex shops (the latest of which was opened in Bangor, of all places), in Aberystwyth. It’ll be opening on Pier Street, on the site of the old Little Amsterdam (who’s web site still states that they have a shop here in Aber, despite the fact that it closed down some months ago) shop (which I reported on when it opened).

In any case, Nice ‘n’ Naughty is promising a free gift to each of the first 100 Aberystwyth customers, which is kind-of cool, as well as trying to put forward a ‘cleaner’ image than the infamous Little Amsterdam it replaces (so; no drugs, for example, and probably less effort made to piss of their neighbouring shops). If only they have the common sense to employ students (and therefore don’t suffer from the self-inflicted staffing problems Little Amsterdam had) they could be okay.

So: who’s up for a trip to Nice ‘n’ Naughty when they open, next Monday? I’ll try to get their opening hours so we can have a horde of us pounce them when the doors open… and give them a proper Aberystwyth welcome.

First Season Of Diplomacy

As I’m sure I’ve said, I’m running an online game of Diplomacy: my web-based adaptation of a classic 1959 board game of strategy and diplomacy. It’s an unusual board game, in that (apart from the random assignment of countries, at the beginning), it involves no luck – the game is based entirely upon your ability to persuade others to help you, lie convincingly, and know when to trust your allies.

In any case – I thought I’d allow those of you who’re not playing (players are Sian and Andy R [Austria], Claire and I [England], Ruth [France], Andy K and Faye [Germany], Jon and Hayley [Italy], JTA [Russia] and Matt [Turkey]) to see what’s going on, as well, soo…

You can now spectate our game of Diplomacy by viewing the turns, maps, and reports as they are made available. And I’ll be providing updates as and when I feel like it here, on my blog.

Map, Spring 1901 - Diplomacy Game

In the first turn, most of the Great Powers pushed outwards with their forces, as can be seen in the map, above. I’m particularly interested by the position of the new location of Austrian, German, and Russian armies, in Eastern Europe (and very close together), and by the decision of France to push towards Italy with her land armies (leaving only a ship to perhaps later claim the supply centres of Portugal and Spain). Also interesting is the Turkish ship moving into the Black Sea: which claims to pose no threat to Russia, but I’m not so sure…

As JTA says, it’ll be interesting to see how things pan out as a result of the aggressive stance taken by some – particularly the South-East European – nations. It’s a fascinating little game.

Suppose I’d better get some work done.

Tsunami Relief Concert

On Saturday night, Claire and I went to the Tsunami Relief concert at the Miillenium Stadium in Cardiff, which was pretty fab. We arrived at about 3:15pm, just as things were starting to kick off – on one of the many park and ride services being operated especially for the event. The buses and their fuel were both donated for the evening, and the bus drivers were working as volunteers (but taking donations towards the fund in tubs at the door). We had some confusion over the gate we needed to enter by, which only increased our relief at getting in out of the driving rain. It wasn’t much warmer inside, but huddling with a crowd pushing their way towards the stage quickly warmed us up. The Millenium Stadium is huge. It’s amazing to wander down onto the floor, with tens of thousands of people looking back accross it.

The concert was really good – a lot of acts I’d looked forward to seeing: the Manic Street Preachers, Feeder, Eric Clapton and Keane were all fantastic. But between these were a lot of other acts which were surprisingly good – Katherine Jenkins, who performed first, was absolutely wonderful: her rendition of “Amazing Grace” brought tears to my eyes. Lulu was wonderful, Kelly Jones of the Stereophonics was just stunning… even Craig David was more than tolerable as he performed a slow and easy acoustic set. And polishing it off with Jools Holland’s Ryhthm & Blues Orchestra and Eric Clapton jamming away together made a great finish to the evening.

We were both exhausted from about 11 hours on our feet, but it was a great show well-worth seeing. I pity those of you who tried to get tickets but were too late – you missed out.

Sadly, we both lost a point on Bryn’s Challenge – disallowed as we were from taking food or drink into the stadium, we had to resort to the fast food available on-site. We settled for merely having a hot dog each, while the folks we watched on the Troma Night webcam tucked into their pizza, but it’s still disappointing that we had to do so. Ah well.

We got back into Aber at about 3am: Claire took a lie-in on Sunday morning after a stirling driving effort (albeit less of a “stirling driving effort” than when she drove to Stirling, but hey).

When The News Comes Close To Home

On Sunday, Claire was reading me a BBC News article about a woman who fell from Constitution Hill this Saturday, sustaining a severe head injury.

It turns out that the woman was Nia, the receptionist from the Technium. We found out when she didn’t turn up for work this morning. The Technium manager sent a text to her phone, and the call was returned by her dad.

It’s funny when you read a news story like that and you don’t realise that it’s somebody you know.

Extra Haggis For Geek Night Players

I seem to have come into posession of a couple of haggises (or “haggii”, as I prefer). Would any of you Geek Night regulars like to join Claire and I a little earlier this evening for a haggis supper before we get down to the board games? A vegetarian alternative can be arranged for, if required.

If you don’t know if you like haggis or not, it’s also the perfect oppertunity to find out (and I can make sure there’s a backup option in place in case it turns out you don’t). All Geek Night regulars welcome – just drop me a text or leave a comment in advance so I know who to expect. Food at 6; board games from 7.

Technium Phone System

Grr! Yet another fuck-up by the folks who run the Technium phone system: right now, every sixth call (exactly) to SmartData‘s number is put through to the WDA‘s answerphone (the WDA share our building). It’s a fucking joke.

This is on top of the various problems we’ve had with our voicemail. And don’t get me started on the other things we were supposed to be able to have but aren’t fixed yet (hunt grouping, on-hold music, etc.).

The Aberystwyth Technium is a wonderful building and a great place to run a business. Just make sure you bring your own phone system.

More Flash: “Second Term”

Jon has posted to his blog about "Second Term", JibJab‘s most recent parody of the American policial system (you’ll remember It’s Good To Be In D.C. and This Land, which I blogged about earlier). In any case, the versions you’ll find on JibJab and Yahoo are surrounded by advertisements and can’t easily be resized (hey; if you’ve got the processing power to run it full-screen, do so!), so I’ve made a copy of it here for you to watch.

Flash MX 2004 Data Integration/XML Features

Geeky post.

I’ve just been playing with the data integration and XML-parsing features offered by the new version of Macromedia Flash (traditionally used for animation on the web, but nowadays used for all kinds of things, like those silly games at They’re actually quite impressive – here’s the result of my fiddling this evening (requires Flash Player 7 – not worth downloading just to see it, though):


It’s an RSS reader, connecting to the Scatmania web site – or, more simply – it connects to this web site and picks up the summaries of the most recent posts and provides them in a compact browser (with a little ‘Go…’ button to take you to the full article).

Why’ve I posted it here? Because it impressed me to see what Flash is capable of these days. Apologies to the non-geeks who are by now going “La la, la la…”

Geek Night: Diplomacy

After last Sunday’s Geek Night, I’ve observed that there are a fair number of us (well: Claire, JTA, Ruth and I, at least) who would be interested in an online, one-day-per-turn game of Diplomacy, an entirely skill-based strategy game made in 1959 and based on World War 1. It’s a really, really simple game, but the only way to win is to negotiate with the other players and to make promises which you may or may not keep. And it’s very clever.

But… the only way to truly appreciate Diplomacy is with a full complement of seven players. So – that means we need three more people who are willing to trade about 15 minutes a day (for about a week and a half to three weeks) for a chance to participate in Geek Night‘s own Diplomacy war. All you’ll need is an internet connection and access to e-mail.

You can even play as a pair or a team, if you like, and have several people ‘lead’ one country (which might be useful if, say, you don’t want to dedicate 15 minutes every day – you can take turns). But the crucial point is that I need to find representation for the seven powers of Europe, and right now I have four.

The game will start next weekend, probably.

We’ll be playing by the standard Diplomacy rules (summary), on a standard map. All player identities will be public and diplomacy between players – by both private and public channels – will be encourages. Any questions, or people who want to join our little game, can be posted as comments or e-mailed to me.

Edit: Player List (see comments for discussion):
Player list currently as follows:

  • Dan & Claire
  • JTA
  • Ruth
  • Jon
  • Andy K & Faye
  • Matt
  • Andy R & Sian

That’s it. No more players this game.

I’ll explain how we’re going to play this by next weekend. Hang in there.

Freedom Sport And Surf

There’s a lesson here for any business with a web site:

I’m sure that you may be familiar with Freedom Sport & Surf, the sports goods shop on Alexandra Road (opposite the carpet shop formerly known as Rumbletums Cafe). Well; they had a website – But they let the domain name expire, and it’s been picked up by a porn site: take a look.

In any case, the owners of the store aren’t internet-savvy, and had completely forgotten they had a web site. Similarly, most of the staff weren’t aware of it, either, until a lady came in, recently, and informed the staff member at the counter they she thought it was “disgraceful” that the shop had “things like that” on it’s website, where “children could view it”.

Today, staff at the shop are frantically scrubbing the web address from their carrier bags. Hilarity.

Urgent Message For Paul!

This is an urgent message for Paul M:

Some of us in Aber are concerned that your original travel plans had you returning to Aberystwyth on Monday 17th January. It is our understanding that you have an exam on the morning of Monday 17th January, and we’re not sure you’re aware of this. We have tried several times to get in touch with you using instant messaging tools and by telephone, but to no avail.

If you know that you either do or do not have an exam on this date, please post to your weblog, or contact us, as soon as possible, so that we Aberites know that we do not need to try to find a way to get in contact with you!

If anybody has an up-to-date phone number of Paul’s parents, please contact me so we can sort this out.

Thanks for reading.