New year, new wheels. The trusty VW Golf TDi, Binwids, cost me just one £80 fill up too many and together with the diesel emissions thing, the VW software fiddle and the fact that it I no longer need to drive over 100 miles a day to do my job, it was time to retire it. Fortunately Mr Big Man, the boss, bought it off me for his brother. Which was nice; and he thought so too.
So now I drive this little zippy thing
It’s a Smart ForFour with Nightsky and it’s slicker than the hair on a 1950’s binman and fewer miles on the clock than the coast of Wales. It even has heated seats, so Zoe is happy and the number plate is handily blurred so that I don’t get caught by speed cameras and ANPRs.
Of course today was my first proper outing in it and I quickly remembered how it was when I used to drive the AX.
My first car, the Citreon AX Jive, with Mrs Gnomepants Mk1
That was a nice car too, but you often found that van and truck drivers and wankers in BMWs thought that they could drive as close as they liked. In the Vectra, the Golf and the Hyundai Coupe, I noticed they held well back. Though I did notice that BMW drivers remained wankers. Of course, back then I didn’t know that BMW drivers only drive BMWs because they can’t actually drive and that driving a BMW is the motoring equivalent of cycling with stabilisers. Trufacs.
Although it is built by Mercedes Benz, as you can see, the Smart actually comes with indicators and, unlike Jaguars, it actually has a decent accelerator. Indeed, you might also notice that it has mirrors too, something sadly lacking on Audis. Not only that, you won’t see any rust on the vehicle which proves that Ford had nothing to do with it.
Facebook are enforcing their real names policy like jackbooted fascists. Pressurising members to use their real legal names rather than any assumed, stage or preferred nom-de-plume. Please see my previous post for their reasons why – Facebook Real Names Policy – Intro.
This is the second post of this series.
People ask why I use the name Stegzy Gnomepants. I usually say “Mind your own business”. Sometimes, however, I’m not so rude about it; the reason I use the name Stegzy Gnomepants is because people know me by that name.
I started using the internet in 1986, but back then the internet was bobbins and was more like Ceefax than the internet we know and love today. Back then I used the handle Stegzy and remained using that name until about a month later when my parents got their telephone bill and the internet was taken away from me.
Tardis yourself forward in time to 1998 when I bought my first PC. It was a Pentium 266. It cost me £1000 or there abouts. Top of the range. Fast modem (56kpbs). A whopping lump of RAM (something like 16Mb). A cavernous hard drive (approx 512Mb). I connected to the internet and restarted my online life as Stegzy.
Internet fashions came and went. AOL IM, CompuServe, that weird virtual world that Demon Internet had for a few years, Usenet newsgroups – all using the name stegzy. The Gnomepants bit came shortly after, when, as more and more people began using the internet, names were getting quickly claimed by other users. Yes, another Stegzy started to appear. I had to distinguish. Someone I knew then affectionately used to call me Gnomepants, I adopted that name as my online personalities surname.
This was the early 2000s. Then came Freeserve chat. I used the name stegzy there as well as evilgnome. Sometimes, for anonymity, I would use the name gnomepants. It helped separate my real life from my online life. It kept people from my work, past and those I didn’t want to communicate with, out of my online adventures where, if they found out about my activities, they would have ruined it. Ripping me away from my special place. My escape. My hide away. Where I was safe from those that would interfere. A place I could be myself without fear of judgement or prejudice.
Next came Livejournal. You can find me there using the name Stegzy too and all entries from there have been preserved here on WordPress too. That is when the real Stegzy Gnomepants blossomed. 2004 came and went. Sometime during this period a bloke called Zuckerberg created a service called Facebook…you might have heard of it.
So lets look at this again….1986 I begin using the name Stegzy. Stegzy Gnomepants circa 1998. People I meet on line know me as Stegzy Gnomepants. I spend the majority of the period 1998-2004 online as….Stegzy Gnomepants. Then some bloke comes along and creates a website called Facebook which nobody had heard of.
Ok, let’s carry on…Myspace – Stegzy Gnomepants. Hotmail – stegzy gnomepants. Google! What name shall I use? Oh I know, I’ll use my real name…Nobody knows me…ok I’ll use my assumed name….Everyone knows me! Stegzy Gnomepants.
2006ish. Good online friend Dan4th (Hi Dan if you still read!) tells me about some website where American kids hang out. Fascist books or Fuctbook or something. Oh yes…Facebook…I’ll sign up. Stegzy Gnomepants.
Blogspot arose – Stegzy Gnomepants; WordPress – Stegzy Gnomepants; Hell, I’m Stegzy Gnomepants on the BBC, Ebay, everywhere. Search google. You’ll see me using that everywhere and I have been for a very very long time.
Once more lets step back and look –
Me – Known online as Stegzy Gnomepants since 1998
Zuckerberg – Known online as Facebook since 2004.
Think that makes me win.
2014. Facebook decide that I must use my real name. A name nobody on the internet knows me by.
I teach Social Media for Business during the day. In my lessons I advise that to be successful online you need to remain consistent across all platforms. Use the same username where possible. The same avatar. The same contact details. Thats how people know who you are.
Mr Zuckerberg, if I’m to change my name just for your silly little empire, then my influence will have no weight. Businesses will not use me as an influencer. I cannot be a potential brand ambassador for your clients. I am the celebrity. I am the authority. I am the connector, the expert, the agitator. I am the journalist and the activist. I am the personal brand personified. That means my identity is nothing to you.
Yes I know you say I can create a PAGE but with a page I cannot interact with people as a person. Like things as a person. Interact, engage and amplify as a person online. Especially with products, services or similar which anyone can see me liking, make a judgement on my character. My beliefs. My choices. People that judge. People who I have no wish to share my identity with.
Someone said about my last post on this matter “If you don’t want to adhere to the Facebook’s terms and conditions don’t use it”. Something I am considering. Very hard. Perhaps over to Google+, who realised a very long time ago, forcing your “product” to use something in a way they don’t want to leads to failure. Isn’t that right Google Wave?
So when the call comes I will depart from Facebook. I will leave it never to return. You can continue to read my exploits here on WordPress or follow me on Twitter (@stegzy). Facebook postings will decline. I’m sorry if you, like Zuckerberg, no longer want, care or give a stuff about what I say, like or want to share with you. I’m sorry if you no longer want to fuel our social media narcissism together. But if that’s the way you want to play, I’ll let you take your ball home by yourself. Just mind you don’t trip over those toys you claim I threw out of my pram.
Grandstand Games Unit
3 or 4 Windows PCs
2 or 3 laptops
and 2 Playstations
During that time I’ve played all manner of games from Pong to my current addiction World of Warcraft. Recently events got me thinking about all the other games I’ve enjoyed playing over the years.
Wacky Waiters – Wacky Waiters was a game for the Commodore Vic 20. By today’s standards it was shit. But for a 10 year old it was a fantastic bit of escapism. Basically you had to serve drinks to customers in this weird bar which the tables were reached via lifts. Hours of fun.
Blitz – Of course the Vic20 was shit and there were only a handful of decent games for it the other classic I enjoyed was Blitz. This game involved levelling a city with bombs in order that your plane might land and the pilot can get out and wave at you. My dad and I got rather good at it and we really weren’t bothered by the crappy blocky graphics.
Thunderbirds – With the arrival of my Commodore 64 one Christmas my middle brother Chris and I went forth to Bits and Bytes in Liverpools Central Station (now a cheap leather coat shop) and City Software on Lime Street (which, I found out long after it was closed, was owned by my good drinking buddy and former HSE Cell mate Nick’s relative (dad??)). Anyway during this post Christmas shopping excursion we picked up a copy of Thunderbirds by Firebird software. The premise of which was using Thunderbirds 1 & 2 you had to navigate a maze of tunnels and push coloured blocks out of the way so that the craft could reach their destination. Sadly I have not been able to find screenshots of the game but you can download it here for your C64 emulator. I promise you, gaming does not get any more intensive than Thunderbirds!
Cauldron – On the same shopping trip I also obtained Cauldon. In this game you were a witch that had to collect various ingredients for a potion. You flew round on a broomstick shooting bats and things then did a bit of platform jumping in mazes. It was bloody hard! Furthermore, it was down right impossible to complete because there was no save facility. I remember leaving my C64 and this game running one night and all through the school day because I’d gotten so far into it I didn’t want to lose my place. Within minutes of getting back to play it I was killed out right by a frigging pumpkin! I wasnt happy! A sequel came out a few years later entitled Cauldron II this was equally as hard. You can play it online here
Big Mac – The previous two games were a pricey £5 each. Your pound tended to go a lot further in the 80’s. Probably because the world was in meltdown. Fortunately in the new Sainsbury’s supermarket complex in Woolton somebody had thoughtfully included a news agents. This newsagents sold Mastertronic £1.99 games. Of course £1.99 was a lot of money then but never the less I managed to get at least 1 new game a month by saving my 70p pocket money and foraging under the cushions on the sofa. The one of the best finds was Big Mac . A simple platform romp where the player guides Mac (a poor Mario clone) from platform to platform flipping switches. Delightful!
Phantoms of the asteroid – Another seemingly endless game. You played an astronaut navigating a maze within an asteroid. You had to collect a series of blocks and often had to top up your fuel, oxygen and energy levels. Kamikazi ghosties would appear out of nowhere and bash into you draining your energy. I managed to collect all the blocks but I’d used all the fuel and oxygen dumps up so I could never get to the bit where you finished the game. A great loss and waste of time 😉
Mercenary – I obtained Mercenary as a copy from Ronnie Cham at school. Ronnie was the only other kid in my year to have a Commodore 64 and he was into copying games in a big way. Often I would lend him my games to copy in exchange for copies of games from him. Mercenary was one of the best he gave me (there was another game I got from him which involved landing on a planet to pick up an stranded pilot but you didn’t know if the pilot was a nasty alien or a genuine human. I liked that too but can’t remember for the life of me what it was called) . Mercenary was a primitive vector graphic game where you flew round a city helping out in order to buy a spaceship. There was an easter egg within were you could pilot a piece of cheese about the place. Hours of fun 🙂
Jet Set Willy – I cannot forget Jet Set Willy can I? Manic Miner, Jet Set Willy and Jet Set Willy II were games I would often play for hours on end. Again I never knew anyone that finished these game. A simple platform romp where you guided Willy through his untidy house collecting bottles and stuff. Unfortunatley they didn’t have a save feature where you could return to where you were and I would often get bored and send Willy down the toilet into Hades. Timeless fun.
Frontier: Elite II I picked up my Amiga 1200 from the bargain bucket of the Dixons shop that used to be in Central Station in Liverpool. With it I got Frontier. A space/flight sim again in vector graphics. Looking at the screen shots now one would scoff at their simplicity but you have to remember that when the game came out these where cutting edge! Frontier allowed the player to explore the galaxy, trade and fight pirates. Fantastic stuff. I’ve only ever seen 2 slightly similar games of late Freelancer which was a bit restrictive but seemed to once hold promise of expansion (of course this never surfaced) and the online MMPORG Eve Online which I found too cliquey to actually get anywhere in.
Captive II – Along with Elite, Captive II helped while away my time on the dole. I would often spend days and days playing this and other Amiga games instead of looking for work. The graphics were crap but the intro movie was stunning and so was the music! It was a type of one player roleplaying game where you guided 4 robots around some cyberpunk futuristic city trying to find out who grassed you up to the coppers and gathering evidence that there were people wrongly imprisoned. You could upgrade the robots with all manner of gubbins and the play went on for hours and hours and hours. I don’t think it actually had an ending but I suppose it taught the player about the futility and mundanity of life.
Civilization – My eldest brother introduced me to Sid Meier’s Civilization. A turn based strategy game about building a civilization. Since that first play of Civ I have bought every version released (though not the add-on packs). Again crap graphics to begin with but like those iconic games before them, cutting edge at the time. One unemployed day I played Civ on my Amiga from 6am to 6am the next day and built a fantastic empire stretching across the globe. Three times. Because I could. A shocking waste of time. But bloody good fun.
UFO:Enemy Unknown – UFO was another game for the Amiga that was also available on PC. I was deeply fond of UFO and like Civ, Theme Park, Captive II and EliteII I would dedicate entire days during my unemployed period to trying to complete the game. I managed to complete it on nearly every level of difficulty apart from the super human one. I’d developed strategies and all manner of tricks and tactics to help me win. Unfortunately I should really have been looking for work rather than playing games. But meh! what can you do about it now eh?
Syndicate – Syndicate was another cross platform classic. You controlled an army of subversive androids which you used to take over and heavily tax the world. I’d managed most of the levels in this game but the last level was always the hardest when the enemy just kept on coming relentlessly. Still I gave it a bloody good go. They don’t make games as good as this any more. Again the graphics were crap by todays standards but made people ooze with excitement at the time.
Tomb Raider – During my unemployed era, the fuckwit known as Shitbag lent me his Playstation while he went on a “journey of self discovery” somewhere (Butlins with his mam). Bundled with his Playstation came Tomb Raider. If you don’t know Tomb Raider you’ve probably been living in a convent somewhere but basically the player guides sultry proactive archaeologist Lara Croft about mysterious temples around the globe. I absolutely loved this game. In fact I was so smitten with it I broke my two year unemployment status so that I could save and go and buy a Playstation of my own. I completed Tomb Raiders I & II just in time for Tomb Raider III to hit the shelves. But then came the ginger monster Dawn. Girlfriends and computer games do not mix and my Sunday evenings gaming with Chris Herbert soon faded away like the clouds of cigarette smoke that filled Chris’ flat every Sunday night. Dawn suggested I took out a loan and bought a PC so that she could do job applications so in an effort to raise funds the first Playstation went the way of the C64 and was sold through the classifieds section of the Liverpool Echo.
Dungeon Keeper – Ha!! As if that was going to stop me! With the new PC came all manner of new gaming opportunites. One such classic was Dungeon Keeper. In dungeon keeper you were a devil and you had minions. Your minions would help construct a base from which you emitted evil. However the goodie goodie humans would come and try and kill you and it was up to you and your minions to try and prevent this from happening. Hours of gaming fun though not as many as spent on the Amiga games. Still I was impressed enough to fork out on the expasion pack when that came out and also the sequel.
The Sims – I know a lot of you guys like playing the Sims. I did too once until it got a bit too samey and dull. Yeah I too sat there watching my sim go to work, feed, reproduce and get into all kinds of scrapes but it was too close to reality for me and getting up to go to work in order to clothe and feed myself was what I longed to escape from. Still I got an good average of 6 months play out of the entire series (and expansion packs) before my sadistic side came out and I was building disastrous households and bricking up entire families just so that I could laugh demonically at their ghosts causing the new occupants abject terror.
Rollercoaster Tycoon – Jamie-who-wanks-on-webcams introduced me to RCT. RCT involves designing and managing a virtual theme park on the scale of Alton Towers or Busch Gardens. Cue hours of wholesome fun spent with Mrs Gnomepants building vast theme parks containing all manner of physics defying rollercoasters. My favorite design was one called the “Spinny Spinny Sick Sick”, a corkscrew type coaster with spinning cars, the passengers of which all left the coaster with green faces but they kept on coming back for more! Heh.
This is by no means a definitive list of my favorite games. That would need indepth consideration and I know I’ve missed ton of other games I’ve enjoyed. However you should see this list as a kind of “Best of best of” or a “Games which I have spent more time on than anything else”. More recently I have been tied up with other ground breaking games but nothing as monumental as those listed above. However World of Warcraft has been the only game I’ve played this year and it doesn’t seem like it is going to end (but it will in September when my subscription runs out!).
*Her *- I have all these weird emails in my inbox. I think I might be
infected. There’s about 50 of them. I daren’t open them
*Me* – Ok I’ll come and investigate
*One long walk to the other end of the college later
**Her *- Look!
*Me *- *Observing large collection of emails in Inbox* Ok, I’ll just open
one to see what it is. Cover your eyes incase it is obscene.
*Her* – *Covering eyes* What are they?
*Me* – *Reading *They appear to be pictures….of documents…”Guidance
notes for Psychology students”
*Her* – Oh that’s all the pages I asked reprographics to email me yesterday.
*Me* – You spaz.
In March my contract with my mobile phone provider, O2, is up for renewal.
After much deliberation, illness and snow bound cabin fever I pondered my options. I could end my contract early (costing £60), start a new contract early or just wait until March.
March seems like forever off. It isn’t. But it feels like it is. Besides, I haven’t had a gadget fix since I inherited the wife’s laptop. So I did a little spreadsheet and worked out my current spend through my current contract.
My contract allows 400 minutes and 500 texts per month but no data discounts. Which, in hindsight, is daft as I use data services a hell of a lot these days. My previous contract also lacked data service and looking back at my bills I was paying ridiculous amounts of money to faceless executives allowing them to play golf in Surrey on Wednesday afternoons.
I currently have a Nokia N95 8GB which is a good phone. It does it’s job, it allows me to make and receive calls, send texts, take photographs and video, find my way to places using the GPS and play Snakes when I’m bored daft.
Sadly it doesn’t really allow me to write notes without mucking about and the proprietary software that allows the phone to communicate with my PC sucks hairy monkey balls.
Coupled with the fact that lots of the kids I see these days have iPhones which, to me at least, just seem like fashion accessories and expensive ones at that, getting a new phone this time was going to have to be thoroughly investigated.
Initially I was going to opt for the Acer F1 to go with my Acer desktop and Acer Laptop. I was all set to click “BUY NOW” but I thought I’d better check the GPS first as GPS is something I do rely on at the moment for Geocaching. As it turned out some reviews claimed that the GPS functionality of the Acer F1 was a bit pants so my itching mouse finger held off clicking “BUY NOW” until I compared other phones for their reliability.
And there it was. The HTC HD2. The phone that I just had to have. I watched videos of people reviewing it, I read articles, sought out software and even tidied up my Outlook in preparation.
By this time it was Wednesday afternoon, I’d found the best tariff for my needs on buymobilephones.net, compared the competition and benefits via my spreadsheet, filled in the application form and clicked send. It was 3.30pm, the site hinted that it very well may be possible that I could have my phone within 24 hours, which I thought, would be Friday…or Saturday at the very least.
Buymobilephones.net sent me a confirmation email an hour later. Excitement swelled inside me causing me to cough more from this wretched cold I’ve been suffering from. More mooching and reading and trying to find anything I could about my new toy. The confirmation email said that they would send another email when my phone had been processed.
Waited a bit more.
Still nothing. A whole day passed. Snow storms had cut off most of the UK and yes…I thought maybe a bit of snow would hamper my hopes of getting my phone for the Friday. Indeed by 6.30pm that Thursday evening, a further email was sent by Buymobilephones.net to say they were coping with a 24 hour back log due to “seasonal demand”.
Fair enough, I thought, the weather and excess demand would hamper anything. By Friday evening I was getting restless. I still hadn’t received any further emails. Three days had passed. Where was my order up to?
Saturday. Same thing. No email…nothing….
See…this is what happens to me. I buy things online with the expectation that they’ll come a day or two later. When they don’t I get really miffed. I miss the high street store option of walking into a shop. Mooching round for the item I want, going to the checkout. Paying for it. Going home. At least then, the excitement was contained by my journey home. This waiting for buymobilephones.net to get their act into gear is killing me. Now I’ve got the little voices in my head saying “They’ve lost your order” and “There’s a problem with your new mobile subscription set up”.
Had it not been for my horrid cold, the snow and the ice and the lack of high street shops selling sim free mobiles, I’d have risked the drive into town to buy one today. This is symptomatic of the culture of now (CON). I have given into the CON. CONsumerism has bitten me and I must have a new toy…I must I must I must.
I looked at the prices of my old mobile phone, my old Acer Laptop, my old Playstation 1. All of these items cost shit loads when they were new. Now…you can get all three for just under £200. I need to remind myself….electronics and keeping up with the Joneses….bad game to play. I never win.
Answers to comments to this post through LJ may be delayed.
Last night we had a fire. It was a nice fire. I went and asked G the Human Dog to take his washing in as I was about to have a fire. He thanked me for asking and hinted that other people (the Good Life at the end of the lane with no name) don’t usually ask. So I set fire to a huge pile of confidential waste and felt good that I’d contributed to global warming.
While chucking stuff into the flames of hell, I came across some magazines. I mused on how magazines are, in fact, a huge waste of money. I mean what do you do with them once you’ve read them? You chuck them out don’t you? I used to keep my magazines. I have a huge box filled with issues of failed mens magazine Later, copies of Mad Magazine from the 80’s and the abruptly cancelled horror magazine Fear. I don’t really want to get rid of them but I’ve not looked at them in years. I tried re reading Mad but the humour was weak and very dated. I might just “donate” them to the recycling people. Later has some good recipes and man tips. Fear is a curious time capsule of reviews of straight to video movies. I’ll keep them I think.
I also developed a curious discomfort in my jaw. Kind of like when you eat something really sour and the back of your jaw goes all icky. Well I’ve got that. It’s not going.
Later last evening I caught up with Heroes. I was a bit miffed that the BBC in their wisdom had put Ashes to Ashes up against it. Sorry Aunty Beeb, the last series of Ashes to Ashes sucked monkey balls, besides which I’ve invested a lot of time into Heroes.
The Vectra (heap of useless tits it is) decided that it was going to be a naughty girl today and leaked brake fluid all over the mechanic while it was up on the ramp. As a punishment the mechanic (who’s name wasn’t Mike) thought that failing it on it’s MOT would teach it a lesson. And rightly so, I’d have done the same. It also decided that suspension bushes are a bit gay and that allowing them to wear out would make it look a bit raunchy. Well the mechanic didn’t think so. So instead of failing on the emissions and brakes it failed on the brake pipe and the suspension bushes. So that’s only like 3 things.
So another day without a car. To repair the fucker it will cost me approximately £140.
Still it’s cheaper than a new car and I’ll save that in not buying the petrol that I would have bought for the Mondeo.
Today I bid farewell to the Mondeo. Thank fuck. Lately the drivers door hasn’t been locking correctly and that was just about the last straw. I promise Never to go back to a Ford. They’ve gone shit since they stopped making them at Halewood and my Uncle retired.
Tonight I try to resuscitate the Vectra. I’ve got an Emergency heart starter thing (a battery charger) and I’m going to put on my best doctors outfit (tatty jeans and paint splattered rugby shirt) and revive that old girl. No doubt I will shriek “It lives!” in my best Colin Clive if/when it does start.
I had to be all manly today and try and fix two cars. So, after rubbing my face with dirt from the car and rolling a roll up cigarette I stood looking at both cars and pretended I knew what I was doing.
I popped the bonnet open on one of the cars. Poked around inside and tutted.
Having then reached the limit of my mechanical expertise I drove to a scrap yard where I was joined by similarly attired gentlemen who then stood around the Fiesta and tutted, sighed a bit and shook their heads. Eventually a price was plucked out of the ether and £50 later I came away with a new bulb for the Mondeo, a car stereo and a new wheel for the Fiesta.
My job done I settled back down to a less manly state of loading the dishwasher, doing a bit of tidying and moisturising my hands.