Monthly archives: February 2002

I’m going back to my geek roots, I think it’s some sort of life crisis thing. Not a mid-life crisis, I haven’t hit that age yet, more third-of-life (I reckon 96 is a good age). I’ll save the fast cars and young women until then, for now I’ve started buying models and RPG games. This is stuff I haven’t touched since my teens, I thought I’d grown out of it.

Ah well. Anyone for a game of Car Wars?

Anyway, quite enough of that. Here’s Page 27 of Bulletproof Poets and another bit of The Eliza Effect-


Paul returned, reading a sheet of paper. Despite being engrossed in the information, he managed to side-step the various obstacles and find his seat.

�Where�ve you been?�

�I was walking past George�s desk and his e-mail was open. He had Sarah�s CV up on it.� He flicked to the second page, �Quite impressive.�

�You fancy her don�t you?�

�There�d be something wrong with me if I didn�t. It�s not like I�m going to do anything about it. She�ll have a boyfriend. It�s Company policy not to employ single women. Hell, even the ones I don�t fancy have got boyfriends.�

�There must be some who are single.�

�Name one.�

Mike thought about this for a while, then went back to typing. It was lunchtime before he thought of an answer. �Judy Price.�


�Judy Price, in accounting. She�s single.�

�She�s a lesbian.�

�Oh. No wonder I didn�t get anywhere at the Christmas party.” He stared at code for a while, contemplating the placement of a loop. “I bought her three drinks. Are you sure she�s a dyke?�

�Maybe she wasn�t before the Christmas party, but she certainly is now.�

Let’s see, Page 21 of Bulletproof Poets.
And quite a large chunk of The Eliza Effect-

�We run an informal ship here. Everyone calls me George, so call me George.� Sarah nodded dumbly at the mandate. He had talked at her for twenty minutes- The Company was undergoing major changes and expansions, it was an exciting time for all involved, there were great opportunities for those ready to take the risks, the moon was made out of blue cheese, whales were marsupials and lived in trees�..
Now he was taking her Out On The Floor, to meet the people she would be working with and tech supporting. The desk separators weren�t quite high enough to make it cubeville, so the view across the open plan would have played hell with an agoraphobic. �How many of these people am I supporting?�
�Oh, just my department. Forty or so. Most of your work will come from our developer boys. In fact, we go past their office first. You�ll like them, very professional.�
George stopped by the door to a broom cupboard and pushed it open. The room was large enough for two desks and chairs, a small bookshelf, a whiteboard and a bin. At opposite sides of the room, using the chair backs as shields, were the two guys Sarah had watched leave earlier. Foam padded arrows flew back and forth. One of them bounced off the doorframe by George. He closed the door quickly.
Sarah could just control her laughter. �Professional?�
�Well�.. They always complete everything on time.� George straightened his undisturbed tie and opened the door again.
The Nerf guns had disappeared and the room�s occupants were each staring studiously at their monitors. They looked around as George entered. Sarah spotted a foam dart atop the bookshelf, snapped it up and hid it behind her back.
�Good to see you two so busy.� George tried his best sarcastic tone of voice.
�We�re just running the documenter over it.� The taller one volunteered. Then he caught sight of Sarah. His gaze lingered long enough for her to feel red.
�Of course. This is Paul� indicating the taller one, �and this is Mike. This is Sarah. She�s joining the department as dedicated tech support, particularly for you two. We’re going to give you A one top priority from here on in.�
�Oh goody.� Mike beamed, �Does that mean we’re getting a pay rise?�
There was a moment’s embarrassed silence. George had taken this suggestion badly. �Well, you�ll find we�re well behaved in this department.� Paul offered as compensation.
�No hogging bandwidth to download MP3s?�
�No. No, we would never do that.�
Sarah flashed Paul a smile, to tell him she knew he was lying. He couldn�t help but grin back.
George considered enough introductory bonding to have been done. �Good. Now, I’ve got to take Sarah to HR. I’ll see you chaps later.�
�Bye.� Sarah caught herself before she waved. She dropped the dart on the floor as she turned around.
�Bye.� Paul leaned forward in his seat a little to watch her buttocks as she walked away. He nodded appreciation. �We are downloading MP3s aren’t we?� he asked Mike.
�We were, then they beefed up the firewall.�
�How much did we get in the end?�
�Oh, only a couple of Gigs worth.�

It’s amazing what you find.I spent the whole day watching updates run. Very dull, but I could surf at work without feeling guilty (like I feel that guilty about it anyway) and found, amongst other stuff, this links page. A lot of dropped connections, but what it still points to is interesting in a kitsch way.

I’m off to put a cheesey wallpaper background on the site, but until then, page nineteen of Bulletproof Poets.

Spent the whole day trying to run updates, and surfing whilst doing so. The Seeds project is going to have an early twentieth/ late nineteenth century technology level on the first planet, and a war raging. So I was just trying to find lots of cool battleship and fighter plane stuff, particularly for prototypes which never made it into battle. I’ll post a few of the links when the scrapbook site is up and running.

Page eighteen of Bulletproof Poets.

I’ve updated the Eliza Effectfront page. Now with comments on some of the subchapters.

Page Seventeen of Bulletproof Poets.

I’m thinking of setting up a secondary Blog, a sort of scrapbook, for all the ideas bouncing around my head which aren’t connected to these two projects. One of them is Seeds, a space opera in the Iain M Banks mould. At the start of the 22nd century, man sent giant automated terraforming machines out into the galaxy, pointed at likely stars, which were to be followed by generation ships of colonists. However, then there was a cataclysm- war, plague, I’m not sure- and mankind had to spend millennia struggling back up the development ladder. Along the way a great deal of biological diversity, historical data and information about culture was lost. Now the human race is a genetic dead end, which can only survive by harvesting the genomes from the Seeds. They’ve discovered wormholes, so the travelling time to some of the seeded planets is far lower (though there’s still the time dilation effects) and expeditions are on the way to get what they can.

Of course, it’s not that simple. Seeds landed on planets with existing eco-systems and cross bred. And some of the databases were corrupted with Earth cultural and historic references and occasional fantasy. There be Dragons, and worse, on some of the worlds.

Each Seed recovery encounters new and unusual problems. I’m going to start building up details for one world and the adventures on that. If it’s a success, I’ll move on to others.

In one of those wierd things you do, I picked up shiny new bike, rode it through the park on the way home, caressed it lovingly for a while- then put it away and went off for a thirty mile ride on my other bike. I thought I’d train for Bogle by covering the actual route. It would have been easier if they hadn’t changed it. I’ve gone round the old one, by bike and van, so many times that I sailed past the turning which is new for this year. Hey ho, did it in the end. Next week I’m going to try for two circuits.
Page Sixteen of Bulletproof Poets. And another bit of The Eliza Effect-

Kate could argue employment law with people on ten times her income- and win more often than they�d like to admit- but she always came to Owen for the simplest of computer problems. She was sitting on the edge of her desk swinging her legs as he fiddled around in the code window. They were nice legs, not quite cyclist�s, but definitely toned on something, but he tried not to be distracted by them. �I thought you�d finished?�
�I�m just putting some error trapping in.�
�I don�t make mistakes.�
The assertion elicited a chuckle. �We all make mistakes.� Like moving down to the Slough office, he didn�t add. �This is the algorithm for checking customer numbers.� He tapped the screen, �I built it, so you get it for free. Don�t tell anyone else, or they�ll all want it too.�
Kate leaned forward and a corkscrew of red hair hung down toward the keyboard. She had put a lot of thought into just how big a braid could escape without looking untidy. �It can be our little secret.� She bounced off the desk and grabbed the chair from across the way. �Tell me how it works.� She said, sliding in close to Owen.

Busy day.

I bought the bike. It was practically half price, and still quite expensive. To be honest, it’s probably more bike than my current riding ability deserves, but I guess I’ll just have to improve.

Then this evening, I went to see a talk by Bryan Talbot at Chorlton library. Very interesting, I learnt a lot about page layout, pacing, speech ballon placement and colour. A lot of it is stuff that’s lodged in your subconcious if you’ve read enough comics, but it’s good to hear a master of the art on the subject. You absolutely must buy Tale of One Bad Rat, one of the best graphic novels ever.

I feel a little embarassed to mention Bulletproof Poets after talking about the man. But, hey, here’s page twelve.

Despite the heavy rain, Leicester refused to wash away, so I had to go there today. I’ve got to go on Thursday and Friday as well. Looks like I’ve got another week in the job. I was the only person who even thought leaving this week was a (slim) possibility. I feel so tired.

Page Eleven of Bulletproof Poets. I’m going to start on full art when I finally finish my job. I’m feeling generous, here’s some more Eliza Effect as well-


Sarah was sure she should be holding up a board with her new works number etched on it. �If I�d known you�d be taking my picture I�d have worn more make up.�

�Oh don�t worry about it love. This thing makes everyone look anaemic.� The guard adjusted the focus of the video camera then checked the framing of the image on the screen in front of him. �Okay. Hold still. And now.�

The strange little machine beside the PC started whirring and, after a minute, clunked out a pass. Sarah checked out her picture, it looked like she had been living in a box for three months. The card came with a magnetic strip for the doors and a chip for the vending machines. He retrieved the card and punched a hole in it, �There you go. He should be along for you in a minute. You can wait in reception.�


There were company magazines on the tables. She tried to read one, but found her eyes slipping off articles after the first paragraph. Under the magazine were newspapers- the Daily Mail and Express, both even harder to read than the promo magazine. She stared, soft focus, at the front of the reception desk.

There was movement by the turnstiles and Sarah looked up. Two guys hurried past, the taller one merited a second glance. Not bad, could have done with a hair cut. She flicked through the Express and found a Dilbert she�d read on the Internet weeks earlier.

Her new manager turned up fifteen minutes later. He was wearing a suit which didn�t look as expensive as he thought. As he strode toward her, he smoothed his unruly tie back into place. �Hello, I�m George Webb. You must be Sarah. If you�ll come with me, we can get the induction started.�

Oops, I missed yesterday’s update. Went to see Dr. Strangelove instead- “You can’t fight here! This is the War Room!”
Page Eight and Page Nine of Bulletproof Poets.
I should really go out for a training ride- it isn’t raining- but the apathy has got me again (and all my cycling gear has just come out of the wash. I don’t feel right biking in ordinary clothes any more, perhaps I’m developing a thing for those sexy tights!) I spent too much of yesterday surfing. My new favourite site is Brunching Shuttlecocks. I’m joining the Oral Sex Donation System just for Valentine’s Day (unless it’s successful).
Anyway. I’ve said too much. I’m off to Bike Doctor to get more kinky cycling gear.
Mmmmm, Lycra.

I’ve got one week left at work, and I’m beginning to get that end of term feeling. I don’t want to do any work, though I know I should or I’ll get sucked into that other version of apathy which sees me staying there for another week. A week which will then become a month and…….

I’m going to Leicester again on Monday. The drive there’s quite interesting, I guess. And then I’ve got to do documentation and reports for my current project, then documentation for an old project. Then twiddling me thumbs and saying goodbye to everyone on Friday. Then on Monday they can start blaming me for all the problems in systems I haven’t worked on for a year.

Bitter? Me?

Page Seven of Bulletproof Poets, and a very small snippet of The Eliza Effect-


Paul hung up and turned to Mike. �So the project is on?�


�So we�re officially an IT department?�


�So we�re IT professionals?�


�So�.. Where the fuck are our Nerf toys?�

They paused long enough to grab their jackets.