I’ve been laid up sick for the last two days with the worst cold I’ve had in years. It had been low-grade since just after Christmas, but it started to get much worse last week. My throat has been swollen and sore, I’ve got a rotten cough, and my sinuses are fit to explode. I haven’t been able to taste anything since Sunday, and on Monday my ears started to cut out–it’s like listening to the world on an old AM radio. As for sleep, well, sleep’s for wimps the healthy.

Alex was in nursery yesterday, so I was able to just stay home from work and be miserable on my own. But today is Wednesday, and that’s my part-time day off for daddy-baby time. Abi woke up this morning and heard me coughing, snorting and moaning, and took pity on me. She stayed home from work so she could take care of both me and Alex.

Picture of Abi smilingWhat a sweet, wonderful wife I have.

Chilli Peanuts

Chilli…yum. Chilli con carne, chilli chicken, deep fried shredded beef with chilli sauce. I can’t get enough of the stuff.

Peanuts…yum. Salted peanuts, shelled peanuts, peanut butter, saté sauce. I can’t get enough of the stuff.

Put them together, and you get chilli peanuts!

Which are unspeakably vile.

In terms of badness, they’re right up there with the salt and vinegar peanuts I encountered a few years ago. A mouthful of peanuts with some salt and vinegar crisps, that works just fine. But cut out the crisps, and the flavour is too much for the poor peanuts to bear on their own. Peanuts should taste of, well, peanuts. Maybe with a little salt. But dusted with mildly spicy chilli powder? No. Don’t go there.


I bought a copy of Everquest the other day. (It’s the time of year. The next instalment of “The Lord of the Rings” hits the cinema, and Martin’s thoughts turn to fantasy gaming.) First impressions: it reminds me of a Dilbert cartoon from a few months ago, the one where a doctor tells Alice: “You’ve got interface poisoning. You’ll be dead in a week.” Ick.

Sure, it’s a complex game with lots of interactions, but does all of this complexity have to be passed on to the newbie user as soon as they log in? Whatever happened to progressive disclosure? And do I really need five different mouse actions (left-click, right-click, double-left-click, alt-left-click, left-click and hold) to simply activate different features or objects? You can skin the interface (kudos to the programmers for good use of XML; nuts to the designers for making the basic UI in need of skinning), but it doesn’t make the fundamental problems go away.

Also, the game is basically four years old, and it shows. First-person games on the PC have come a long way since then. Console games, with their smooth, cartoon-like animation are almost fully mainstream now, and so the bar on prettiness is raised. I know they’re apples and oranges, but after playing the gorgeous Ratchet and Clank for a week or two, the stilted and angular first-person Everquest feels bony and cold.

But hey, that doesn’t mean that I don’t like EQ, though. Over time the interface will become transparent, and the graphics will take second place to the gameplay, which seems pretty cool so far. That’s the advantage of it being four years old: it has had time to mature, and the developers have fine-tuned it extensively.

The community seems pretty friendly, too, although I haven’t done much social interaction yet. I’ve just barely figured out how to chat to people without attacking them and being cut down instantly by their reflexes. I’ll give it time.

His Dark Materials–on the radio!

Starting this Saturday, and running for the next three weeks, the BBC is broadcasting their adaptation for radio of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. The first episode, on Radio 4 from 14:30 until 17:00 covers the first book, Northern Lights, and features the excellent Terence Stamp as Lord Asriel. Definitely one to tape!

(Note for those of you not in the UK, or otherwise unable to receive Radio 4 over the traditional ether: you can get Radio 4 streamed over the Internet. Just go to their home page.)