ConFuzzled 2011 – Report – Part 1

by on May.12, 2011, under ConFuzzled

The last time I wrote a full proper convention report was way way back in 2008 for the very first ConFuzzled. Since then, for various reasons, I didn’t write one for 2009 or 2010 and money hasn’t allowed for me to visit another event beyond this one for which I am staff. So apologies if I’m a bit rusty at this sort of thing.

Likewise, while others have been tweeting up a storm and recording tons of photographs and video footage to post, the lack of a smart or even a feature phone currently means I’ll have to make do with words.


The build up for 2011 had been huge. For me especially given my work started around mid-summer last year as I began building the new Registration System which we used this year. Weeks of PHP coding that didn’t finally finish till the day we closed Resident registration followed.

That on top of my other duties as head of Inventory meant I had a good idea as to what to expect this year in terms of our scope given everything that everyone was working on generally required buying something via me. I knew this year was going to be huge.

Getting everything ready the weekend before had been a slog too, the new badge printer failing with four days left on the clock and Tungro, Fairlight and Bear stripping it down to its circuit boards to get it going again. Meanwhile I had to go through and produce a complete accessible inventory for everything that would be packed in the big green equipment Pods. Lots of work but time well spent as I would find out later.


Having finally gotten home on Tuesday, I had barely a day to prepare myself before the first day of convention for me began. An early start and a walk up a cold hill to vote was quiet effective at waking me back up after only two or three hours sleep. Democracy stated, myself and Nanaki caught ourselves a taxi down to the station where a shiny pre-booked set of tickets were waiting for collection.

By chance then, we arrived on our platform and ran in to Furble, who along with Blue, was also taking this train to Manchester. In the latter’s case for the con but in Furble’s case, work. Chat and cups of tea were had but as the train pulled up it was clearly too small and standing room only so we parted ways after Blue passed to me the awesome badge he’d done for me this year and made use of our booked seats. Annoyingly, one women we kicked out was trying to claim that seat bookings were cancelled on this train. Yeah, right. Even so, I felt bad for making the others move, but I guess I shouldn’t begrudge getting to be the kicker-outer rather than the kickie for once.

Arriving at Manchester Airport train station, we were picked up by the ever-so-kind Wolfie Fox who eventually found us, despite attempts by his GPS to claim one of the roundabouts was the station.

Arriving at the venue, we could already see the signs of furry as we pulled in to the car park and spotted plushies in the parcel-shelves of the other cars. A final drag of bags to a temporary drop in the soon to be Operations and a brief J2O was all I could afford before the Stage van arrived which I helped unload. Eventually rooms were ready enough that we could check in and unpack which I this time bothered to do. Something far nicer about taking clean things from a cabinet and wardrobe rather than living out of a bag for the long weekend.

What happened in the remaining hours I can’t honestly say I remember but evening time came and one of many CF traditions came around again. This one being the staff meal for which my first of three costume moments of the weekend occurred as I slipped in some rather nice fancy pin-striped trousers and waistcoat that matched well with black tie, braces and red hankie. Sadly what I didn’t match was my shoes which had been the one thing omitted from my packing list so as long as you didn’t look at my trainers, I looked pretty good! :D Sadly, everyone took it upon themselves to point out the trainers. :|

Either way, many of us looked dapper, doubly so given the Italian restaurant we were revisiting for a second year; Nall in particular looking wonderfully insane with his top-top complete with ferret ears and at the same time, being the guy with the company card. Tasty wine flowed, awesome lasagne followed, and friendly service by the waitress kept us laughing right up to the pudding which was to die for vanilla ice cream with both a small cup of espresso and shot of hazelnut liqueur to pour over as we wished. All mixed together, it was a heavenly thing to finish on.

After a brief speech by Matt Lion of both thanks for work done and encouragement for work to follow, we returned back to the hotel to what by this point I wanted to be an early night until I was dragged off to Nall, Ferret and Rab’s room for further chittering which continued until I noticed suddenly it was 2am and that definitely had been a strong espresso.

To be continued

Given that I am just passing 900 words right now, it seems I will need to break this one up! Shall continue tomorrow with Friday and the start of con proper.

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Game Nostalgia

by on Aug.15, 2010, under Gaming

Wet-Dry World Star 6 - Race through downtownRecently, I’ve been working on the ConFuzzled Registration System. I’ve been wanting to have a go at developing a replacement for the existing system (which we borrowed off Eurofurence’s) since last year and only once I really got in to the project did I really see how much work was involved in making a full web application of that size with such mission critical demands.

It has however been rather good in that its made me look again at PHP, CSS, HTML and JavaScript and coding on something other than Windows and the .Net framework certainly allows me to appreciate it a little more.

Its also helped me value the act of taking a breaks, both mentally to clear my head when I get frustrated and physically to help prevent my hands locking up with RSI. The latter I’ve tackled by using a nice little program called WorkRave that tells be both how long I’ve been using the system and prompts me to take short and longer breaks throughout that day (or night).

The former I’ve dealt with by getting a copy of Project64 and an old copy of a Super Mario 64 ROM I found from the files I recovered from my old P: drive. Getting hold of a cheap Xbox 360 Wireless Controller Receiver for Windows from eBay meant I had proper analogue control too.

Press Start to Play!

For me, Mario 64 is a special game for me as it was the first current generation home console game I ever owned and played. Before that I had a Game Boy Pocket, but unlike most of my peers I never grew up playing on the NES, SNES, Master System or Mega Drive*. A few years prior we had been given a NES, but it had only Mario 2 and that was well in to the time when the SNES was in its final years.

The level of exploration and wonder I got every time we (myself and my brother) entered a new level or unlocked a new part of the castle was something that is very hard to replicate. I remember that when we first defeated Bowser, it came as a complete shock to us that we hadn’t just beaten the game and that was only the first quarter.

Every new adventure or story based game I play offers a little taste of that feeling again but very few offer the same amazement level that came with the first full 3D Mario title and its something I’ve been hunting for ever since. Even Super Mario Galaxy 2, a worth successor in terms of game play to Mario 64, is good because of the fluidity and refinement of the controls, not its exploration and the hunting of secrets.

Revisiting Mario 64 now, where every level layout is known and every Star a quick look up on GameFAQs if its being a little difficult, is more like a visit to place you grew up in and slipping in to a comfy old pair of shoes. Controlling Mario, like riding a bike, isn’t something you forget and the little moments like catching the bunny in the basement or riding a secret slide still make me smile.

The vastness of unexplored virtual worlds is what brings me back to titles more than anything else and I think once the Registration System is done, I’ll need to go plant a flag and see what exactly is at the end of Galaxy 2.

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NaNoWriMo is well underway!

by on Nov.02, 2009, under NaNoWriMo, Novel 2009

NaNo Progress Pie

Just a quick post to show off my progress after two days! 4714 words!

Many thanks to Christian (aka Boots) for providing me with competition to help get me this far this quickly!

Also, following the swapping of a few of these with friends, I’m curious to hear other people’s first lines so post them if you’re taking part to comments or your own LJ’s / blogs and link ‘em!

‘Humans are strange creatures,’ wrote Ledmark, his hands padding at the rubber coated sprung keys of his console. ‘its so hard to work out sometimes what they’re thinking or feeling.’

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The NaNoWriMo Tracking Spreadsheet – 2009 Edition

by on Oct.25, 2009, under NaNoWriMo

Returning with a colourful visual refresh this year is my much loved NaNoWriMo tracking spreadsheet!

Its features include:

  • Automatic calculation of your word count for the day, words per minute and total remaining word count.
  • Automatic formatting indicates your progress towards the daily 1667 words target. (And bonus colours if you reach 5000!)
  • Smart charts showing your word counts, typing speed and overall progress.
  • Sheets are protected to prevent accidental changes to automatic cells, but can be unlocked to customise the sheet and targets.

Spreadsheet View

Progress PieWord Count Typing Speed

I recommend that you download the version for Microsoft Office Excel 2007:Download Office Open XML Excel Workbook

If you have an older version of Office (XP or 2003) and can not open this file, please use this version instead:

Download legacy Excel Workbook

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