My Photos
boffo01's photos More of boffo01's photos

Friday, March 26, 2010

Things I Did Yesterday 26/03/10

Believe it or not, I did actually do one of these yesterday. I even posted the bloody thing, or so I thought. But lo and behold, no sign of it this morning. Instead I have an autosaved draft of the first paragraph. Bah! Anyway, other than writing things that have been lost to time, yesterday I:

- Carried on my first pass over Small Perils, the NaNo novel. It's not the final title, but it's better than constantly referring to it as "the novel". I'm behind on the first lesson of the revision course I'm doing. Each new lesson is emailed out a week after the last (in my case Monday evenings), and my second is languishing in my inbox. But that's okay. On the forums there are people still working through lesson three, six months down the line. But the first few lessons involve complete readthroughs each time. Plus, I've not been great about making the time for it. Or getting the actual manuscript printed out, which I only got done on Monday. Interesting process so far, anyway!

- Worked. New comics day. It's weird now that we do the filing downstairs, I don't actually spend that much time on the till on a Thursday. I'm going to try and be up there for lunch time (12-2), just to keep up contact with our regulars. I'll also be there at the end of the day I would assume. Still, it is nice to have that extra time in my week.

- Headed home, where I intended to play some Xbox, as Alex was out. Instead I had one of those frustrating evenings where time shot by and next thing it was around 11.30, and all I had done was watch an episode of TV Burp and a few trailers. Annoying.

- And that was about it! Really unimpressive day, I'm afraid! Well, I guess they can't all be winners.

Carry on reading...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Things I Did Yesterday, if it were still actually 24/03/10

Like a lagging bullet, "yesterday" I:

- Worked. I got in early, as Josh and I were heading to a graphic novel workshop for London librarians. We jumped in a cab and headed out to Whitechapel, to the Idea Works there. Idea Works, by the way, was apparently an abortive attempt to rebrand libraries for the 21st century before a new marketing guy came along and decided that “library” was actually a brand after all. No doubt hundreds of thousands of pounds later. Local government really is like a sucker on the street corner with his bag hanging open. Anyway, very modern place, all quite nice inside.

- We did a GN workshop last year which was a bit of a disaster. Well, not really on the whole, but I gave a speech that completely fell apart thanks to my nerves, so I was a little anxious about having another presentation this time; a ¾ hour one, no less. It went fine though, mainly as I was just rabbiting on about stock. Also, we had a smaller group discussion in the morning which made me feel a lot more comfortable with the people there. So the day went quite well, all told. Certainly made some good progress winning people around to specialist supply for their GNs. An got to knock off at 4.

- Went home. Fully played the Trials HD demo, which now leaves me wanting the full game. Highly addictive. Sat down and worked out how I’m going to juggle my money over the next few months. SA has left me and Alex pretty skint, and now I have to make a student loans payment to NZ IRD as a apart of my amnesty agreement. So that’s another £700 down the tubes, leaving me a serious shortfall of cashflow for the month. Looks like a bit of subbing lies ahead.

- Started rewatching Flight of the Conchords, which I’ve been meaning to do for a while. Still good.

- Played around with the two leading desktop digital comics applications: Longbox and Both are in beta release (0.5 & 0.2.1, respectively) and both still have plenty of issues. My machine is getting a little long in the tooth, but the lag in both programs seemed a little ridiculous. Still, that aside, my initial impressions are that Longbox seems to have more features available (most as yet locked in beta), but has a much nicer, leaner interface. Longbox is, frankly, ugly. It’s too busy on its home page, the net result being an initially very confusing entry into the program. Both are quite buggy, and had a persistent crashing problem for the first 6 or so times I tried to start it. So, lots of work to do on both. I’ve got the complete Miracleman as cbr files, which Longbox will allow me to import into my library, so the next step is to try reading those to see just how bearable the reading experience is. Not sure if I can import to Not obviously, anyway.

- Watched the first episode of the new season of Nurse Jackie. It was fine, but completely skipped by the big threads of last season’s cliffhanger. Not a promising start. I hope this doesn’t mean they’re going to string things along even more.

Carry on reading...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Things I Did Yesterday 19/03/10

Damn, doing these things every morning really does tie me in to wi-fi spots. Anyway, yesterday I:

- Once again forgot to print out my manuscript for revision, so stalled my course somewhat. I did get onto the forums for my workgroup, however. People doing the course are split into groups of 30 or less, for support, feedback and so on. So although it felt like a cheat, technically it was still course related, right?

- Worked. Spent nearly the whole day working on this book list for the GN workshop next week. Finalised the list, gathered images and copy, edited copy to fit the blurb size I need, formatted it up in Quark and outputted to a pdf. Done! Now I just have to hope we have all the books in stock for next Tuesday so I can take them along.

- Alex was out, so I played some Dragon Age for an hour and a half or so. I've hit that satisfying point you sometimes get in this kind of game when you're at a sufficient level where there's very little challenge in the places you're travelling through. Most fights are dispatched with very little trouble and no-one in your group has died for some time. Then you enter a new area and the difficulty curve has suddenly swung up a few notches and you're all dying every few combats, and you have to start thinking strategically again. Good fun. But frustrating enough that I stopped at 9.30.

- Faffed about on the internet for a while, then went to bed, watching another couple of Twilight Zone episodes, neither of which was particularly good. One was about a man whose guardian angel tries to improve his life by changing his oddball ways, only to discover that he'd rather be a kooky, likeable failure than a dull success. Atually, for the early-mid sixties, that was probably a pretty subversive message for mainstream America. The other was about a woman who goes to a department store for a particular item, only to discover that she is in fact a living mannequin and has been out in the world and forgotten who she is. Turns out the mannequins in the store take turns at living in the world for a month. Anyway, there are a couple of creepy moments in this one, but it's just not that good.

- Went to bed!

Carry on reading...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Things I Did Yesterday 18/03/10

Didn't walk in this morning. Bad Andrew. Anyway. yesterday I:

- Finished up the first section of my first revision lesson. Next step involves going through a manuscript to begin pulling part the broader picture. Should be fun.

- Worked. Had a meeting in the morning with folks from what was formerly the London Libraries Development Agency and is now I think simply London Libraries. We're involved in another graphic novel workshop taking place next week. To be honest I've done no prep work for this whatsoever, other than putting together a list of 50 books from the past year. I'm not feeling too worried. I am going to have to give a talk again, this time on what's happening trend-wise in the industry, what's hot and so on. My other main role is in a children and young person's librarian group talking about GNs with people who are nervous about content and so on. Hopefully the first, a facilitated group discussion, should warm me up for the second, a presentation to the group as a whole, so we don't have a repeat of my debacle of a speech from last time.

- Afternoon was spent dealing with the delivery. Not a big week, and I made some good progress on the filing. We've now started doing this downstairs on a Wednesday as soon as the first box of standing order comics is ready, which is working well so far. Certainly makes Thursdays on the till a lot less stressful.

- Headed home and read a pile of comics. Not a very impressive week, to be sure. Siege #3 was fun but completely disposable; Amazing Spider-Man #625 had some lovely Max Fiumara art over a pretty downbeat Joe Kelly Rhino story; Stephen King's new co-written comic American Vampire wasn't anything special. In fact, the only really pleasant surprise was, as unlikely as it may seem, a Superman 80 Page Giant, which was full of short, very light stories. Oh, and Fables was good. I read the second issue of Choker, having missed the first, and thought it was okay. Sweary, Ellis-sounding characters drawn by Ben Templesmith all feel a bit well-trodden, but it was entertaining enough that I won't dismiss it out of hand. Writer Ben McCool also does a fun short in the aforementioned Superman 80 Pager. Still got a few unread books, including a few Marvel space titles, Dark Avengers and a couple more.

- Stopped reading before I got totally burnt out, which has happened lately, and switched to watching a couple of Twilight Zone episodes, on my slow ongoing mission to work my way through them all. Still in season one, but then it is something like 40 episodes long. Anyway, the first was called The Chaser, about a guy who madly loves a girl who doesn't love him back. He buys a love potion off a mysterious shopkeeper who warns him it might not be all he hoped for. Sure enough, things don't turn out quite the way he expected. Quite a silly one, but fun for it. The second I watched starred a young Jack Klugman as an alcoholic trumpet player who hits rock bottom and throws himself in front of a truck. Waking up, he finds himself wandering the city as an invisible ghost. Or at least that's what he thinks. It's an episode with an admirable moral, but is pretty dull and heavy handed. Not to mention the appearance of a trumpet-playing figure named Gabe who explains the score to him. Duh. Still enjoying them, though. I'm looking forward to the later episodes when Serling has a number of other writers working on the series. Not to denigrate his work, but a lot of great US sci-fi writers worked on shows like the Twilight Zone and the Outer Limits (which I think I'll get to after this), putting out some classic twist-in-the-tail television.

- Whoah, over time! Anyway, that was about it!

Carry on reading...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Things I Did Yesterday 17/03/10

Two days running! Some kind of record for 2010? Perhaps not, but close! Anyway, yesterday I:

- Tried to get up early to get stuck into things, but failed. Still, got into town with enough time to do my blog and then get stuck into the novel revision course I've started. Very first readings of the very first lesson and it was good. It certainly helped me recapture enthusiasm for what my goal for the book was in the first place. So, off to a good start.

- Worked. Libraries for the most part. The end of the financial year is approaching fast and the usual flurry of last minute orders has been coming in. So some mop-up stuff there, as well as work on a list I need to have done for a graphic novel workshop for librarians I'm involved in next week.

- Had a surprise visit by Claudia and Morgan! Now based in LA, they're over for Claudia's work. Claudia had to head off for work stuff, but I had lunch with Mr Parker. Really nice to see them. Hopefully we'll get to catch up more later in the week.

- Went to the pub after work with Nat, Barney & Ossie. Went for one, but wound up staying for a few. As is often the case. We went to The Crown, a Sam Smiths pub near work. For those who don't know, Samuel Smiths are a chain of pubs which serve their own brands of beers, spirits and so on. The pubs they run are nice enough (including two of the most attractive historical pubs in central London, actually), an the beers are fine, but nothing special. What they are great for, however, is price. A round for 4 people for less than £10? Sold. Okay, so you might be able to do the same in a Wetherspoons pub, but then you'd have to put up with a Wetherspoons atmosphere. Equally they're known for their Alpine Lager, a cheap as chips pint (still sub-£2?) which goes down easy enough but leaves you rough as fuck the next morning. The taps for AL used to be topped by a stereotypical Bavarian-looking chap cast in plastic, inside a perspex box. They scrapped the box for a more traditional looking tap years ago, but to this day people will still order a "man in a box". Which is about as English a tradition as they come. Anyway, the point of this is that for years now, virtually nothing has changed in the line-up of product SS pubs (that's unfortunate) have. So I was surprised to find not only a new, halfway decent beer on tap (dubbed a Taddy - Sam Smiths Breweries are based in Tadcaster), but also they've gone completely in-house with all their snacks. Crisps, peanuts, cheese crackers, the lot. You're amazed, I'm sure.

- Got home, kissed the wife, had dinner, spent half an hour reading the internet, then went to bed. Read some Far Side cartoons, which I'm slowly working my way through at the moment. I do love the Far Side, for all it's been overexposed over the years. Reading back through, it's surprising to rediscover just how dark many of them are, given their mainstream popularity. Good fun.

- Will you look at that! 7 minutes to spare!

Carry on reading...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Things I Did Yesterday 16/03/10

Okay, we're on the clock! Yesterday I:

- Got up fairly early and sat with a coffee on the internet. This was the first real day off I'd had in some time. Okay, so I've been on holiday for a month, but this was the first real day since before we left for SA where I had nothing to get done, nowhere to go and no one to see. So I read feeds. My feeds need trimming, really. I don't keep up with what I've got, and that's not even that much compared to some I know. But every time I go to unsubscribe, the interest which brought me to that feed in the first place kicks in. I suppose by keeping them on my feeds I will at least remember they exist some time in the future. In a way, RSS has really hamstrung how I use the internet. I can't remember the last time I opened my bookmarks folder, not counting the bookmark toolbar icons I have for frequently accessed sites (banking, etc). Still, it means I don't miss any posts when my access is patchy. How much time do I spend on the internet a day reading now? Not sure, but considerably less than I used to. Maybe an hour, on average? Hour and a half? Anyway, every now and then it's nice to kick back with a coffee first thing on a day off and really take my time to catch up on things. Spent a few hours on it yesterday.

- Wandered down to Angel to have a browse around the shops. Mainly checked out Game, HMV and Waterstones to see what shiny new things had come out in the last month. Not much to be honest. Final Fantasy XIII is a bit tempting, but really only due to FFVII nostalgia. I tried VIII when it came out, but it didn't grab me at all and have barely looked at the ones since. But this one seems to have a VII kind of feel about it. Well, best finish Dragon Age and both Mass Effect games first. Bought some vegetables to make a soup for dinner.

- Went home and got on the Xbox. Oh yes. Played a few demos I had downloaded ages ago. Trials HD is a great stunt bike platformer, leaving you to control a rider going through some kind of hellish warehouse environment of ramps, exploding barrels, swinging platforms and gouts of flame. It has that vital ingredient for gameplay: easy to learn, difficult to master. Lovely graphics too, especially the ragdoll physics when you come off the bike. Alien Breed SomethingorotherIcantremember is a fun, isometric 3D shooter. A sequel to an old series of games, it's surprisingly atmospheric as you run around a damaged spaceship shooting hordes of aliens. All very Space Hulk. Lastly was Bayonetta, which I heard a lot of good things about. To be honest, it's that type of modern game that I'm really no good at. It involves incredibly busy environments that you negotiate around at high speeds while enemies constantly come at you. Enemies you defeat by using one of any number of combos that manifest in the most spectacular manner possible. It's just too much. I'm button-mashing my way through levels with virtually no fucking clue what's going on. The graphics are lush and the designs look crazy in the good way, but I've no time to actually enjoy them. Does this mean I'm getting old?

- Settled in with Dragon Age for a good 4-hour session. Got some important main quest stuff done, too. Ahh...I'll miss this game when I'm finished. I do love this kind of computer RPG.

- Alex came home, so I made dinner, a kind of chicken/vegetable/mushroom soup which didn't quite come out how I wanted, but was very tasty anyway.

- Enrolled in a course which focuses on novel revision. To be honest, I've been floundering a little on the novel revision, and I really need something to give me a boot up the ass. It's a 22 week course that you take at your own speed. It'll be nice just to give me some focus and advice on what to do next. Be's my first time.

- Watched a really good little horror called Triangle. It premiered at last year's Frightfest, but I missed it, and since then it has largely sunk from trace. It's a pleasantly complex little film about a group of people who find themselves on a ghostly ship after being stranded out at sea. Best not to mention more than that, as the less you know, the more you'll enjoy it. It'd be a shame for this to sink into obscurity, as it really deserves to be seen if for nothing more than its ambition. It stands out from most of the horror fare out there at the moment.

- That's it!

Carry on reading...

Monday, March 15, 2010


Still got 10 minutes of today's allotted blog time, so I thought I'd outlay where I am with various internet things at the moment. FYI!

Email: I've a few email addresses lurking from the past, but really the only way to get hold of me reliably is one andrew[at] or andrewsalmond[at] Either of those will work. I mainly just use gmail as my default mail client now. Outlook is gathering dust, really only used for deleting emails en masse or sorting stuff via IMAP. The interface is just a little easier for those jobs.

Facebook: I use Facebook more than ever. It's a very convenient environment to use with my phone. Mainly I just use messaging and status updates. The only add on I use is Flixster, and then rarely. Generally I ignore add on invites and the like.

Flickr: Still on as boffo01. I haven't updated in a long time and to be honest I think I'm going to give it up. I do like Flickr's interface and social aspect, but it feels a bit dead to me right now. Plus, Picasa just integrates with its web albums so well. So I may migrate to just using Picasa, but I'll let you know, you lucky things.

Twitter: Pretty much dead to me now. I had fun with @grizzleddog for a while, but I've largely given up the ghost. Really, Facebook status updates fulfill this purpose for me now. How many trivial communication lines do I need?

Google Wave: I'm still intrigued by the possibilities of this, but I really haven't found a use for it yet that can't be covered by another service. Anyway, I'm on as Andrew Salmond, so just do a search. I've still got invites, too, if anyone wannts one.

LastFM: My boffo01 account is still active, but I barely use this any more, though my Spotify plays are scrobbled to it.

Spotify: My default music source currently. I pay £10/month for the premium version, which removes any ads and gives higher quality bitrates. It also means I can have the mobile version for my Android phone, including the ability to sync up playlists for offline play. I've a ton of invites if anyone in an eligible area needs one.

Umm...I think that's it. I am using Google services to an alarming degree, including task manager and calendar. I'm still playing with Chrome a lot, but have held off switching to it as my default browser. Google Docs hasn't quite hooked me yet, as it feels lacking in features. I'm using Dropbox to sync important docs between computers and am playing with Evernote for note taking, though I find it's a bit slow. It does sync with my phone, though, so I hope it improves in the future. In theory it's a wonderful piece of software.

Okay, time's definitely up!

Carry on reading...

New Post, New Start, New Rule

Okay, so here's the deal.

I've been slack. I know it. You know it. And little baby Jesus knows it. So I guess it's time to recommit myself to this whole blogging malarky; find a theme and stick to it. The fact is I've toggled around with a number of ideas, thought about starting new comic-themed blogs, wondered what the hell I was even doing this blog for. It has always been such a scattershot affair, as any quick browse through the tags will attest. In reality, the fullest and most consistently it has ever fulfilled any purpose has been when it is at its most self-indulgent. The Things I Did Yesterday posts allowed me to dribble on about any old thing, kept people who actually know me up to date with my goings on and gave me an excuse to write every day. The latter point being the most important at the time I began that exercise. Not that I've been too hot at staying on top of things, of course.

Which brings me to today, and deciding what I'm going to do from here on out. Things I Did Yesterday works. I'm not sure how effective it is for you, my dear readers, but given there's only about 10 of you, I guess that point is kind of moot anyhow. The point is, for me it works. It gets me writing in the mornings and, crucially, means I always have something to write about when I sit down. The problem has been in the past that it tended to stretch out and take up the bulk of the time I have before work which I have dedicated to getting some writing done. That's especially problematic given that I actually have a proper writing project to get stuck into. The last thing I need is an excuse to procrastinate while still feeling like I'm doing something worthwhile.

So a time limit, then. Starting tomorrow, I'll restart TIDY (holy shit....I never realised that was its acronym), allowing only 30 minutes every day to get it done. It'll be the same as it ever was in terms of content, but perhaps a little more concise on occasion. I'm making a commitment to do this every day, rain or shine, work or play, home or abroad. You might find it interesting, or you might not. Given the lack of emails I write these days, I hope you do. I might occasionally put up something else, or develop it at some point in the future, probably with regard to my progress revising my novel. And during NaNoWriMo I'll switch to daily updates on that. I know it's all a little self-important, but I figure if that was a problem for you, you'd have left the room long ago.

And that's that!

Carry on reading...