Bath Literature Festival

neilgaiman.jpgAfter an easy journey to Bath and stopping briefly to collect my sister, we parked up and made our way to the venue. The details on the Bath Literature Festival weren’t a great help so I only had a rough idea of where the venue was. We arrived with about 5 minutes to spare and joined a large queue that was snaking around the building, but it moved forward at a good speed.

Thankfully there was no arranged seating, so we could sit well back and if my expectations of the event were correct, it would allow us to laugh exessively load without the danger of deafening a small child in the process. After a brief introduction, Neil appeared on stage along with an excessive amount of dry ice, which had slowly enveloped the stage minutes before.

We were treated to a sample from the new childrens book Neil Gaiman is working on called The Graveyard Book, which is in Neils own words ‘like the Jungle Book, only set in a graveyard instead of the jungle’. The sample left you eager to know more the instant it finshed, but I guess we’ll have to wait until next year for the completed book to be released.

odd_and_the_frost_giants_1.jpgThe second extract that Neil read was from the book he is writing for World Book Day entitled Odd and the Frost Giants. Again another kids book that this in progress, although will be pulished on the 6th of march next year for £1.

There is something very magical about hearing an author read his own work, espically as Neil explains that finding the right tone of voice for each book also helps him in the creative process. The fact that the whole story is already in Neils head and at certain points during the narration he would ad-lib parts of the story to connect two parts together.

After the reading there was a Q&A with the audience.

With some very interesting questions regarding another Neverwhere story, creative processes, the coraline film due out next year and how Neil ‘broke’ into the graphic novel business.

Hats off to Mr Gaiman that appears to be one of the busiest authors in the world, between traveling, appearances and interviews, it amazes me that he find time to write some of the greatest novels around.

A very enjoyable evening.

City of Heroes/Villains: Review

So over the past 3 months I have strayed from my normal bunch of games (Planetside/Guild Wars/BF) and I have been playing City of Villains after Rach started playing it 2 months before that.

Infact I bought the combined Good Vs Evil edition, so I have the ability to create heroes and villains but I tend to favour the darker side of things.

So I thought I'd write a simple review so people can get an idea of the game and how it all hang together.

For those of you that are unaware of the game it’s a MMORPG designed by Cryptic Studios and published by NCSoft. As you may have guessed it is based around superhero/villain genre and delivers a lot of content for your monthly subscription.
There are numerous areas that are populated by NPC's and other players, which area you can safely visit is determined by your level. Going to a high-end area is sure to bring you a lot of pain.

To progress through the levels you will need to accept and complete missions, while each city/island area is massive and you'll bump into other players frequently, each mission is instanced and it will be you and your team versus NPC enemies. As for the NPC's there are various enemy groups at work depending on your location, over time you learn more about each group and how best to fight them.

Another feature about the game that I feel is well implemented is the chat functionality, where as chat system is some game is bulky and cumbersome Cryptic seem to have designed a system that is easily mastered.

And finally I come to the 2 elements that really make the game unique and give it alot of appeal and longevity for players.
First are the fully customisable costumes and looks for your character using a well built designer, which can pretty much handle millions of combinations allowing you to give your character that perfect look.
Secondly are the Powers.

Upon character creation you get you choose the type of character you wish to play. Each of these is unique even the hero and villain options aren't the same.
Once selected you get to choose 2 power sets, depending on your type of character depends what you are offered there are normally 6 options to choose from in each set.
You start off with 2 powers and gain more as you advance through the game, each power can be customised with enhancements the allow you to increase damage or perhaps decrease the enemies resistance.

There are standard pool powers that everyone has access to; these include the wonderful travel powers options such as fly, superspeed, teleport and superjump.
Well that’s all I can think to write at the moment, but if you are thinking or looking for a new game to play then I'd advise giving the 'City of' games a go.

There are a few trails out there so you can get your teeth into the game before deciding if you'd like to purchase it.

Fans

After rebuilding Rachs PC with some new components. It appeared that the graphic card was running quite hot, under a heavy load around 90c. Now although this is still under the 120c maximum that get listed for cards of that type the reality is that you will either crash out of game you are playing or your screen will just locked up completely.

So it was time to get a new GFX fan and while we are at it I wanted to improve the airflow in the case, as there was only an 80mm fan on the front. I also had 1 additional requirement that fans need to be quiet as Rach has the PC on the desk rather than under it so avoiding anything that sounds like a jet engine was a must.

After a little searching around I visited QuietPC (http://www.quietpc.com/uk/) whom I have purchased items from before.

gx810.jpgThe QuietPC has a nice website design and allows you to search for fans by GPU manufacturer and then shows a table listing what fans are compatible with the various types of model.

In the end I chose a ZEROtherm GX810, mainly for the reasons below

  • Variable speed fan ranging from speeds of 900 to 2500 rpm
  • Fan speed is controlled by an onboard temperature sensor
  • Noise is limited to 16.95 – 29.85 dB depending on speed
  • Uses fins in an arc to cool the GPU down

OK so the last option sounds a little lame but in all honesty this style of fan system will mean less dirt and fluff collected and a easy cleaning job when/if you need too.

A great price at £19.99 including vat.

xilencefansm.jpgNow for the case fan. Again the site allow me to filter the size to 120mm fans and then showed me a table detailing the noise, Max. fan speed and airflow statistics of each fan in that category. After a little review of those available I selected the Xilence Red Wing as it give me large airflow with minimal noise due to the fan speed being only 1400rpm. Ideal.

A great price at £7 🙂

Now my only complaint about QuietPC is that once ordered it is difficult to track your order, I have yet to find anything on the website that shows my orders and their status. But saying that I received the new parts within 2 working days.

So the final result system tempuratures down to 35c and the GFX running at a nice 60c under load.

Gaiman

I am rather excited with the fact that on Saturday I'll be going with Rach, Dok and my sister to see Mr. Gaiman talk about stuff.

Mmm that sounds rather boring but it should be a great evening.
Some of you may know him from his Sandman graphic novels or the book Neverwhere, others may have read Good Omens that was writen by him and Terry Pratchett.

I'm currently in the middle of reading American Gods with Anansi Boys waiting to be read straight afterwards. I also picked up a copy of the illustrated version of Stardust while i was in York on sunday.

What with Stardust due to be released next month, looks like it going to be a very bizzare and interresting month, all from the mind of Neil. Yay