On This Day In 2004

A little bit tongue-in-cheek, this one.

Looking Back

On this day in 2004, I’d just finished my first marathon session of playing Half-Life 2, a spectacular new video game that quickly became one of the best-selling computer games ever. Despite New Year celebrations and other distractions, I managed to sit and play the game for a couple of days and finished it very soon after.

The launch of the game was delayed – I’d pre-ordered it 17 months before it eventually got released – after being plagued with development difficulties. One of the many delays to it’s launch was blamed on the theft of part of the source code: I remember joking, after the thief had been caught, that now that they’d got the code back they’d be able to release the game, right?

Meanwhile, Paul swore that he would have nothing to do with the digital distribution platform – Steam – that remains the only way to get a legitimate copy of Half-Life 2. On his blog – then on LiveJournal – he listed all of the many problems that he saw with Steam, and I countered a few of them in an argument in the comments. For years to come, he’d go on to refuse to play some of the most fantastic computer games to be released on principle.

Looking Forward

Things change. I can’t remember the last time I saw Paul playing a video game that he didn’t buy on Steam, for one (except for a handful that he bought from Good Old Games – which is well worth visiting, if you haven’t already).

Some things stay the same: Half-Life 2 remains one of the best first-person shooters ever made, and has been followed by two spectacular sequels (Episode 1 and Episode 2) and a number of spin-offs (including the mind-blowingly awesome Portal, which stole my life for a while, although not for long enough to make my 2007 list of life-stealing games). We’re still all waiting on the much-delayed Episode 3, though…

This blog post is part of the On This Day series, in which Dan periodically looks back on years gone by.

Dan Q found GL4WVX47 The Circus

This checkin to GL4WVX47 The Circus reflects a geocaching.com log entry. See more of Dan's cache logs.

Found it immediately by thinking “yeah, that’s where I’d put the cache” and the co-ordinates were spot on. But I still had to be quite sneaky while my co-cacher provided cover in order to get this one.

Log needs archiving. Somebody’s added an extra roll of paper stuffed into the tiny cannister but it’s challenging to get both rolls back in afterwards: the old one should be removed and filed away somewhere.

Great cache!

Dan Q found GL4WVWZM Going Underground (not anymore) #2

This checkin to GL4WVWZM Going Underground (not anymore) #2 reflects a geocaching.com log entry. See more of Dan's cache logs.

Paced up and down the street quite a few times before we found this beautifully-hidden cache. Then had to stand around looking like lost tourists while we waited for the area to clear so we could grab it without attracting suspicion!

TFTC: my first in a long while!

Dan Q couldn’t find GC1KKT8 Flonopoly Cache 12 – Piccadilly

This checkin to GC1KKT8 Flonopoly Cache 12 - Piccadilly reflects a geocaching.com log entry. See more of Dan's cache logs.

Co-ordinates seem to point to the wrong side of the street (based on the clue), but even armed with the clue and the logs of those people who eventually found it on their second or third attempt, we couldn’t get this one despite an extended search. Based on the frequency of DNFs, I’d suggest that 1.5 isn’t a high enough difficulty for this evidently-well-hidden cache!

The Wedding – Unanswered Questions

The photos from Ruth & JTA’s wedding are coming soon, I swear. In the meantime, here are a few questions that I’m still puzzling over:

What kind of chord do I think I’m playing?
What does my mother think smells so good; and why does Becky disagree?
Why is Fiona kissing me?
Why is Chris saluting in this picture?
On what subject is Bryn pondering? And did his mighty brain come to a conclusion on the subject?
Why is Owen carrying Robin around? And is this truly the happiest day of Robin’s life?
Who choreographed Matt P and I’s dance moves? And why do we look so awesome?
Who’s just hit Matt R in the back of the head with a snowball?
To whom is Liz threatening fisticuffs? And does anybody other than Finbar even use the word ‘fisticuffs’?
What does that look on JTA’s face mean? No, wait… I know this one…
If Robin is interviewing Tom, why is he using an invisible microphone?
What has startled JTA so badly?

Some or none of these questions will be answered in time (and, perhaps, when you see the whole picture). Keep an eye on the wedding blog for updates just as soon as Ruth and JTA find the time to update it! And I’ll look forward to hearing your caption ideas for some of the “sillier” pictures.

Meanwhile, if you’re among the people who took photos at the wedding and who hasn’t yet given me nice, hi-res copies, please get in touch!

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The Wedding – Feedback

Ruth & JTA haven’t gotten around to blogging about their wedding since it happened, yet, and I’ve so far failed to make available copies of many of the photographs I’ve been sent (although you can find a link to a few photos on this page) – although, in my defence, I’ve only just gotten the chance myself, this weekend, to see the official photographs. All of this will happen in time, I promise. In the meantime; here’s some of the feedback that I collected from around the web in the aftermath of the wedding:

Alec tells Facebook that he had a great time.
Alec tells Facebook that he suffered afterwards.
Ele tells Facebook that it was “Wedding-tastic.”
Before the wedding, Harriet tells Facebook that she’s enjoying being one of only two Trevor-Allens, before Ruth becomes a third.
Harriet looks back on the weekend, on Facebook, and answers comments asking about her journey home.
Matt P tells Facebook simply “wow. that was amazing!” Andy K, who couldn’t make it to the wedding, replies to ask if Matt was talking about University Challenge!
Sian tweets simply, “Aww, I love weddings me!”
Selina gets back to the land of bacon, Lego and beer, and congratlates the happy couple via Facebook.
Sarah, who couldn’t make it to the wedding, thanks Becky for delivering her wedding cupcakes.
Ruth gets back from her and JTA’s mini-honeymoon and tells Facebook about how many sugared almonds she’s eaten (ultimately, she made herself quite unwell).

You might also be interested in the following things that people have been saying around the interwebs:

I’ll try to keep this list of links up-to-date, so if you’re aware of anything that I’ve missed, let me know and I’ll add it. And needless to say, you’ll hear a little more about this from me when I get the chance.

What’s that you say? You’re wondering about the strange parcel?It turns out it was an Amstrad CPC 464 that my mother found on eBay. More on that later, perhaps.

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When we woke up this morning Oxford was caked with a blanket of snow, about two inches thick and growing fast. Ruth, JTA and I thought that we’d make the most of it and go for a walk along the Cherwell, and by the time we were heading back the snow was ankle-deep. Reaching the corner of the street where we live we helped a few stranded motorists whose vehicles had taken one look at the hill near our house and said “fuck this for a lark.” Specifically, we helped them by pushing their cars off junctions and out of the way of other cars. It didn’t take long to realise that the chaos that was the series of junctions on the main road was only getting worse, and, caught out by our own sense of social conscience (and perhaps at least a little inspired by a recent story we’d read), we decided that we could be doing more.

We trekked back to Earth and collected hardy boots, hi-visibility jackets, shovels, and brushes, and made our way back to the junction. And, for the next hour or two, we worked at clearing the road and rescuing motorists. Before long there were others coming out of their houses and workplaces and helping: pushing cars up hills and clearing snow and ice from troublesome parts of the road. Highlights included:

  • Rescuing dozens of motorists who’d otherwise have been completely stuck.
  • Shoveling clear an escape road for vehicles that couldn’t make it up the hill.
  • Giving directions to motorists whose routes were blocked, to pedestrians whose buses had been cancelled, etc.
  • Stopping all traffic in order to prioritise ambulances, as we’re on a hospital approach road. You’d be amazed how many motorists will do what you tell them when you’re wearing a flourescent jacket.
  • Getting thanked by a great number of people.
  • Getting complaints from a minority of people who were angry that we were shovelling and not salting/gritting: presumably they thought that we were employed by the council.
  • Meeting like-minded helpful people who came out of their houses and workplaces to lend a hand.

We returned to Earth and drank mulled wine with Hanna, a woman who lives up the road from us who came out and helped. She’d been expecting her boyfriend (who’s visiting for the weekend) but he’s among the thousands of people stuck out in the snow, and even five hours after he was expected he hadn’t yet arrived. Then we made snow angels in the garden.

And because karma doesn’t believe in us, the universe repaid our kindness by having our boiler break down again (but in a different way) this evening. So now we’re sat in blankets in the living room.

A Very Confused Courier

I’ve just had a phone call from a very confused courier. My mother (who many years ago for reasons both too long and silly to go in to I nicknamed “Crusty Pasty”) texted me last night to say that I was to be delivered an early Christmas present that would arrive today, and that she’d given the courier my phone number so that he could ensure that I was in when he came around. My mobile rang:

Me: Hello.
Hi, is this Dan… Q?
Me: Speaking.
Him: Hi: I have a delivery for you from a… I just want to make sure I say this right: Crusty Pasty?
Me: That’s correct. I’m expecting it.
Him: I think there might be something wrong with your landline: I called and got a strange robot voice.
Oh, that was you? That phone is never answered. Best to call this number.
I just wanted to double-check the address: [number] Corpse Lane?
Me: Copse Lane.
Him: Oh yes, sorry. Just my bad handwriting. I’m on the M4 right now; I’ll be there in about an hour: is that okay?
Me: Yes, I’ll be at that address all morning.
Him: Okay. See you at about 11.

Codenames? Mysterious parcels? Phone numbers that always go unanswered? Yes, that’s right: I’m about to be treated as being part of some kind of terrorist cell. If my “early Christmas present” is something that can be used in the construction of an explosive, then the jigsaw will be completed and this will probably be my last ever blog post… until I’m released from Guantanamo Bay.