Tactical advantage

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So …. It’s been a few weeks now with the and it’s become a regular addition to my bag.

And recently it’s been spending a lot of time in the company of ‘Unit 13’

‘Unit 13’ is a tactical shooter, on a handheld, and more importantly .. it’s actually pretty good.


The set-up is pretty standard fair, you’re the new recruit of the squad in question. Your “initiation” is the tutorial for the controls and that’s pretty much it, off you go to take out the baddies …

In a switch to most shooters you get to play all the members of the team, each with their own speciality and successful missions allow you to level up the person in question and unlock goodies for the team.

Unlike most shooters it’s not kill count that counts here, yes in most cases taking out the terrorists is the idea (notice I said most cases there .. ) but this just adds to your score, and progressing swiftly and efficiently boosts the score multipler, and thusly your score. This is the end game, place as high as you can on the scoreboards …

To that end what of the missions, well you’ve got a selection of stealth, direct action, elite and the hellish deadline …. that final one is my personal nemesis, you get a set time to accomplish the tasks set out, so in most cases the stealthy approach will see you failing the mission.

Complete a mission an you’ll get a star rating based on several criteria, get 3 stars or above and you’ll unlock the dynamic mission where objectives are thrown at you on the fly.

Earn enough stars and you’ll unlock the HVT missions (HVT = High Value Target) which sees you hunting down a specific terrorist leader type hiding in the areas the missions are set in. These can take some doing so prepare to dig in for the long haul 😉

There’s a co-op multiplay option available so you and a buddy (or a random stranger) can take on the enemy, but there’s no competative one … possibly a massive omission and deal breaker for many BUT for me it doesn’t detract from the experience.


The controls are tight and responsive and that 2nd analogue stick/nub really makes the difference. The touch screen is used to access maps, reload weapons and interact with items where necessary, but these are also mapped to physical buttons too. Personally I found the touch screen made perfect sense for these as it was just a quick thumb move to reload etc. but each to their own 🙂

Generally it’s not the most emersive of games but as a portable, on the go, tactical shooter experience I’m really very impressed and urge you to at least try the demo that’s available before dismissing this title completely ….



Witterings a plenty …

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This is somewhere I’ve been randomly updating over the years with various things …

A random spouting from my brain if you will.

Well after a long abscence I thought I’d return (mainly because I remembered my password)

Will I manage to update more than twice in a year ? Who knows ….

Will anyone actually care ? Probably not …

But, hey, I’ll ramble on a bit every now and again anyway.


You never know I may actually say something vaguely interesti … Stranger things have happened ya know 😉


Dark Skies

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Like quite a few iPhone owners I’ve grown rather fond of a little app called Hipstamatic

This particular shot was just a random shot of a rather serious looking storm cloud over Thame

Behind already

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… and the new year has only just started … I’m a bad blogger 😦

With all good intentions I announced a “reboot” and then failed quite drastically to even make a follow up post.

After  a dig in the ribs from Twitter I’ve returned …

So let’s get the ball rolling with a game of tag (Thanks Danie !!)

So first up is Three for Three ….

1) Top 3 Non-Work Websites … Given what I do for a living there are surprisingly few websites that I use for actual work in fact I’d be so bold as to say 95% of the pages viewed whilst sat at my desk are non-work related so what finds its way to the top of the heap ?

In no particular order we have ….




2) Three Favorite Cocktails

Nice and easy this one …. Long Island Ice Tea, Brain Haemorrhage and a Black Russian

3) Top 3 Karaoke Songs

Singing in public is not something I do very often, however given the introduction of the plastic instrument based mayhem that is Rock Band and Guitar Hero: World Tour (and a side step into the Wife Unit’s SingStar) my vocal savaging of songs is getting more frequent ..

So we have ….

“Enter Sandman” – Metallica

“Smells like Teen Spirit” – Nirvana

“Creep” – Radiohead

Swiftly followed by

Five Random Facts …..

5 random  little factoids about yours truely …..

  1. I once ate a jar of coffee for a bet. File this one under “Seemed like a good idea at the time” but fortunately for me my friends let me off after I got through 10 spoonfuls.
  2. I once stayed awake for 3 days straight. This is not related to No. 1 in anyway shape or form, there was no coffee, sugar, Red Bull (actually that didn’t exist then) or any other stimulants involved, just a good friend who was ill and making some dubious “sick” noises in his sleep, so I stayed awake to make sure nothing happened to him.
  3. I’ve reverted quite heavily to my rock roots, partly thanks to Guitar Hero.  I still have a fondness for the old-school rave tunes but the rampaging guitar goodness is winning more and more (as my profile on Last.FM will confirm)
  4. My goldfish have gone white, how’s that for random. Completely white, one was a nice golden fan tail and the other was a red capped oranda but now it’s all gone, with out any explanation.
  5. I completely “busked” my groom’s speech at my wedding last year, and it was a great success !! There were tears, there was laughter and more importantly they were all in the right places … I’m never writing a speech ever again from here on in I’m winging it whenever I have to deliver one

So that’s it …. I’m done ….

Reboot ?

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It’s been awhile since I last updated here …
Things sort of fell by the wayside after my last post, which wasn’t the happiest of ones.
The draft box still has several unfinished entries sat in it, but since I started writing them things have changed … I’m a married man now and the passage of time has rendered several of these posts pointless.
So it’s time to empty the draft folder of all of these half finished thoughts, save for the details of my slightly mad trip to France earlier in the year, and press on with fresh ideas and thoughts …

Feel free to stop by from time to time, you never know it might just be interesting.

Remembering …

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It’s been a long time since I last posted here …. Too long …..

Several unfinished posts sit in the draft folder that may (or may not) make the light of day.

This returning post has been prompted by the slightly surreal events of yesterday, August 20th 2008, the day that allowed a great many people to say goodbye to a good friend ….

Keith was a couple of years younger than me, he was only 31, but he suffered from Cystic Fibrosis which resulted in him needing more and more drugs and physio as the years progressed, finally culminating not so long ago in a double lung transplant … in fact initially the doctors didn’t think he’d live past the age of 21 …. but that didn’t stop Keith ….

He was a remarkable individual, with a permanently cheery outlook, the most infectious laugh and the cheekiest sense of humour you’d ever have met.
If you were having a “down day” he’d somehow manage to cheer you up … even if he was fully tubed up and not having the best day himself.
And that was part of his charm … here was this guy who was in a worse place than many of us could ever imagine, having to take a daily cocktail of drugs that looked more like a pick and mix bag from a sweet shop, with a length of plastic tubing inserted into his person and yet he never stopped smiling, he never stopped laughing, and he never stopped caring about those around him.
A lesser person would have descended into self pity but not Keith …. never Keith.

He didn’t aspire to greatness, he had no grand plans, he just wanted to be able to lead a normal life and enjoy the things that he loved …. good friends, good beer and not quite so “good” women ……

Due to the way he lived his life, his friends were varied and numerous, and that was evident yesterday by the mix of people who attended the funeral, he’d have got a kick out of that …

Given the way that Keith was we had a feeling it wasn’t going to be quite your average ceremony .. and we were right.
The first indication of this was the message that in honour of his character it would be brightly coloured clothing in place of the usual black.
We all knew that this wasn’t a time to mourn a loss but a chance to celebrate a life, and that certainly came through during the proceedings.

He’d have appreciated the flashback feel that the large portion of us who went to school with him felt when our old R.E. teacher started talking, as he was, for want of a better word, conducting the proceedings. We listened to tales of Keith’s life, tales that made us laugh out loud, tales that some of us shared in and were new to others, but all were typically Keith.
Through the whole thing  I had one particular incident logged in my brain ….

Many years ago Keith was working as a doorman at one of our local bars (this he did even when he had his tube in !!) which led to me getting to know the staff quite well. On a fairly regular basis we’d have lock-ins and as I was working shifts back then, and single, we’d end up heading out mid-week for a “quiet drink” that would always turn into a full on session … and it’s one of these nights that just popped into my head.
We were drinking in the local Chicago Rock Cafe along with Rob, one of his fellow doormen (who I’d like to point out had a false right leg from the knee down) and having a merry old time when the fire alarm went off. So out we all trotted through the fire exit, drinks in hand as we’d just got a round in, to the side road behind the bar. Rob and I sat down on a wall and surveyed the scene of people milling around, wondering what was going on and if it was a false alarm or not. Keith was chatting to someone else and then came over to join us. He’d been telling some girls about Rob’s false leg, and they didn’t believe him. So he got Rob to roll up his trouser leg and show them, which Rob duely did. Keith then pounced like the proverbial ninja, and in a flash, had pinched Rob’s leg and headed off down the road waving it in the air …. with Rob hopping after him, swearing at him loudly. No harm was done, no malice was intended, this was Keith being Keith. The rest of us standing around were in tears of laughter at the sight before us and Rob saw the funny side of it as well.
It’s memories like these that he’d want us to keep. Not the ones of him lying in a hospital bed, hooked up to machines and tubes.

Once the service was over we all retired to his local pub. There was a large contingent of us who went to school with him, but as we sat there raising a glass in his name, we realised that whilst we were at school we were in “different groups” that would never have been seen talking to each other, let alone be sat at the same table, yet here we were, all sat together with the same thing in common … the friendship of an extraordinary chap …..
There we no tears here …. there was just chatting and laughter ….

And as people drifted off, some of us who had the privilege to call him friend carried on as we knew he’d have wanted us too, we headed on to another pub for a few more pints and a few games of pool.

He’d have loved the fact that people who hadn’t seen each other for years were swapping stories like they’d never lost contact and arranging to meet up again.

Part of me kept expecting him to walk through the door with his trademark huge grin shouting “Surprise” and revealing it all to be a huge practical joke, and I can tell you that none of us would have been angry at him.

So I bid you farewell my friend … You may be gone but you’ll never be forgotten, and you certainly will never be replaced ….  I know that you’re having a bloody good time out there, just make sure there’s some beer left for me ….

Adiós Amigo …….

Gone fishin’ ?


Who knew getting a goldfish would be so much trauma …

After 5 years together and after living together for 4 of those years, the G/f and I decided at the weekend to get a pet.
Now we live in rented accommodation so we’re rather limited in our pet prospects … it was a choice of either something in a cage (i.e. hamster or gerbil) or some fish.

We opted for the fish due to their calm and soothing watch-ability, and the fact that they’re low maintenance.

Well, we thought they were low maintenance … got that bit slightly wrong.

Off we trotted to a local purveyor of fish type pets, only to be confronted by a mind-numbingly huge array of swimming things along with tanks, feed and all manner of gear. We collared a member of staff to talk tanks and find out exactly what we needed.

He showed us a few tanks and advised us on the stuff to get to treat the water properly so our impending pet would live a happy and comfortable life.
We’d need a tank, filter, water treating stuff (to remove all the chlorine and crap that the water company leaves in our tap water), some more stuff to add nice bacteria to the water, a little net and some food (bit of a no brainer that one) However the range of tanks they had on offer were slightly larger than we’d intended and as a result slightly pricier than we’d anticipated. After grabbing a free fish leaflet we thanked him for his help and left him to feed the piranhas.

We decided to head to a local garden centre that had a branch of a well respected aquarium company within it’s walls on the way back .. and with luck that had tanks that were the size that we were looking for (and as a result a more agreeable price too). We looked around for another member of staff to aid us in our quest for aquatic based lifeforms and eventually found one ….

Our initial thought was get tank and filter, choose fish, get home, set up tank, add water to tank, add fish to tank, job done …
Oooooooh no … nothing that simple.

We were told that we needed to leave the tank setup and running for at least 5 days before adding the fish to give the pump and water time to acclimatise for the fish after adding the water prep. stuff.

This did not please the G/f unit who was rather looking forwards to the calming influence of a couple of small finned fellows swimming around in a glass box. It also confused me slightly as the chap in the previous place and the leaflet we had in the car both said 24 hours but the sign in this store (cunningly located at knee level at the cash register) and the staff member both said that it’d be at least 5 days. We purchased the tank, filter and various water treatment chemicals along with some fake plants, a rather fetching fake tree stump thing and some very cool black and purple gravel and headed home without any fish 😦

So after spending 20 minutes or so getting rather wet, we now have sat in our lounge a rather nice looking fish tank … with no fish in it …..

Like I said at the top …. Who knew getting a goldfish would be so traumatic …

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