BristolCon 2012

A few days have passed since this year’s BristolCon and I thought I’d best get something down. I’m on the con committee, albeit in a fairly minor role, so I spent much of the day dashing about helping keep things ticking over. I like this; I think it’s a good way to see a small, friendly con like ours. So here’s my very personal and unofficial write-up – just some things that have stuck in my befuddled mind.

The Art Room was a fantastic improvement over previous years – the display stands provided by Roundstone Framing made the place feel really open and were far more aesthetically pleasing than the slightly cobbled-together gazebo of previous years.

Anne Sudworth and Gareth L. Powell‘s guest of honour interviews were interesting. Their interviewers, Ian Whates and Kim Lakin-Smith respectively, were very good and both had an excellent rapport with their interviewee. Colin Harvey‘s Ghost of Honour session was poignant, and I tried my best not to screw up the projections.

As for panels, I kept finding myself focussed on practicalities like watching the time, ensuring there was water and clean glasses for the panellists or helping out with the sound (the PA in programme room 1 was generously supplied by Del Lakin-Smith who was very patient with my fumbling attempts to help him set-up first thing) but I particularly remember the Colonising the Solar System and Women in Sensible Armour discussions.

Later on Gareth’s monkey was a high point, Talis Kimberley and her band performed to their usual excellent standard (although I didn’t listen to as much of this as I should have) and the quiz was, well, too hard!

I met plenty of new people, all of whom had complimentary things to say about the con. I got Philip Reeve, due to be a Guest of Honour at BristolCon 2013, to sign a copy of his latest book for my daughters.  I’d hoped to have a quick chat with Marc Gascoigne (even brought my old copy of Titan for him to sign) but missed him after the Colin Harvey memorial – perhaps at a future event. The Colinthology was an excellent buy and contains some really top-class stories, so I can recommend this as not only a good cause but a good read as well.

The rest of the committee and everyone else who helped out did a fantastic job – most of them worked far harder than I did and often in the face of sickness and pain on the day, so well done to all.

On top of it all I didn’t end up with a bad hangover the next day and I even missed the fire and pestilence. A good day all round and I’m already looking forward to next year!


Citrix Receiver for Linux

Citrix provide a version of their Receiver software packaged for Linux. Version 12.1 is current and is available from their website.

I’m currently running Ubuntu 11.10 64-bit (yes, I know, I intend to update soon) so I downloaded and installed the 64-bit debian package based on the CitrixICAClientHowTo. This installed with the following error:

$ sudo dpkg -i icaclient_12.1.0_amd64.deb
Selecting previously deselected package icaclient.
(Reading database ... 204950 files and directories currently installed.)
Unpacking icaclient (from icaclient_12.1.0_amd64.deb) ...
Setting up icaclient (12.1.0) ...
dpkg: error processing icaclient (--install):
subprocess installed post-installation script returned error exit status 2
Errors were encountered while processing:

This is because the postinst script contains a function that tries to determine whether you are using an Intel or ARM type chip, and the logic used to detect Intel hasn’t been updated to include a check for x86_64 – it runs uname -m and looks for "i[0-9]86".

You can fix this by unpacking the deb and editing the regular expression in line 2648 of the postinst script to match x86_64, then rebuild the deb and install that. It works fine for me – although bear in mind the dependencies for the package: libc6-i386 (>= 2.7-1), ia32-libs, lib32z1, lib32asound2 and nspluginwrapper.

I’ve posted simple instructions for rebuilding debian packages before, but there’s lots of info out there on the web.

The dreams of children

My 4-year-old daughter climbed into bed this morning and asked if we’d like to hear about her dream. This is what she told us:

There was a princess in a tall, tall tower. A prince rescued her and she fell flat on her face. The prince thought she was sleeping and kissed her, but she was actually dead.

I hope she ends up becoming a writer, I do like a bit of dark fantasy 🙂

Cool stuff in October

There’s lots of cool stuff going on in October in Bristol if you’re into literature and SF in particular. There’s the Bristol Festival of Literature running between 14th and 23rd October with heaps going on all over the city. During the festival on the 22nd it’s BristolCon 2011, Bristol’s Science Fiction and Fantasy convention, and there’s a bunch of cross-over events happening. Also my friend and local author Gareth Powell is taking part in a Word of Mouth event at The Thunderbolt in Totterdown on the 5th October. A very cultured month in the offing!

New theme and new headers

I quite like the new WordPress theme, so I’m going to use it. I was looking for a theme that supports the different post types and allowed for good customisation and of the free ones I found that I liked this was by far the best.

The header pictures are all cropped from my own photos taken over the past few years. I’m not a particularly great photographer, but I like the images and they reflect some of my current obsessions. Feel free to use them under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike license.


I’m messing with my blog. This is meant to be an “aside”, so lets see how this turns out…

Books in 2011

I never did a new year’s resolutions post this year.  Oh well 🙂  One of them was to try and read more, plus try to read/re-read some mythology in translation.  One part of this is that I want to keep track of what I’ve read, hence this post.

  1. Surface Detail, Iain M Banks.  01/01 – 22/01.
  2. The Táin: From the Irish epic Táin Bó Cuailnge, Thomas Kinsella (trans.) and Louis Le Brocquy (illus.)  22/01 – 30/01.
  3. The Kraken, China Miéville.  31/01 – 15/03.
  4. The Quantum Thief, Hannu Ranjaniemi. 15/03 – 22/03.
  5. American Gods, Neil Gaiman. 23/03 – 30/03.
  6. Before They Are Hanged, Joe Abercrombie. 31/03 – 06/04
  7. Last Argument of Kings, Joe Abercrombie. 07/04 – 16/04.
  8. The Lovecraft Anthology Volume 1, Dan Lockwood (Ed.) 17/04 – 20/04.
  9. Deep State, Walter Jon Williams. 21/04 – 05/05.
  10. At The Mountains of Madness, HP Lovecraft, INJ Culbard (Illus.) 22/04 – 23/04.
  11. The Night Sessions, Ken MacLeod. 06/05 – 19/05.
  12. Dark Spires, Colin Harvey (Ed.) 20/05 –
  13. Zoo City, Lauren Beukes. 20/05 – 16/06.
  14. Wireless, Charles Stross. 17/06 –
  15. The Quest for Arthur’s Britain, Geoffrey Ashe (Ed.). 25/06 – 30/06.
  16. Camelot and the Vision of Albion, Geoffrey Ashe. 30/06 –
  17. Rule 34, Charles Stross. 09/07 – 15/07.
  18. The Evolutionary Void, Peter F Hamilton. 16/07 – 23/07.
  19. Vast, Linda Nagata. 23/07 – 06/08.
  20. The Bohr Maker, Linda Nagata. 07/08 – 25/08.
  21. The Recollection, Gareth L Powell. 26/08 – 02/09.
  22. Damage Time, Colin Harvey. 02/09 – 28/10.
  23. Sixty One Nails, Mike Shevdon. 29/10 – 14/11.
  24. A Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin. 15/11 –

And that’s all so far. I guess I’ll be able to see just how widely, or not, I read by the end of the year.  I often have more than one book on the go, but so far it’s been sequential so far this year.  Link targets vary, some Wikipedia, some author or publisher sites, some reviews – there might be a tooltip if you hover over the link and I remembered to add one.

BristolCon ’10

I went to BristolCon’10 last weekend, a Science Fiction and Fantasy convention held at the Ramada Hotel in Bristol. It was BristolCon’s second year, and my first convention since going to Games Day ’87 as a teenager.

It was a great day out.  Loads of interesting panel discussions, a range of dealers and artists displaying their work and plenty of interesting and friendly people to talk and drink with.  High points of the day were chatting with Alastair Reynolds during the mass book-signing at lunchtime, Eugene Byrne‘s talk on the fantastic cityscape of Bristol and watching John Meaney and Juliet McKenna terrorise Joe Abercrombie and Cheryl Morgan during the “Writing Fight Scenes” panel.  I enjoyed all the panels I attended (all but two I think), came second in the pub quiz with a group of people I’d never met before (well, except for Mark) and narrowly avoided becoming embarrassingly drunk (at least I think I avoided it…)

Strangely, I was a little apprehensive before the Con.  I’ve been a fan of SF and Fantasy for as long as I’ve been reading, but I’ve never really been into Cons and fandom although it has intrigued me.  I guess my reluctance to take part in the past has been due to my own insecurities as much as anything else; I feared things might be cliquey or exclusive and I’m happy to have been proved wrong, at least by the folks at BristolCon.  I’ve been going along to the Bristol Science Fiction and Fantasy Society monthly meetings on and off for a few months this year and have met a group of friendly and interesting people, many of whom were involved with running BristolCon, so I’ll be going again next year.  Thanks to everyone involved in organising a fun and interesting day!

For the interested, there are a handful of photos on my Flickr page, and a list of links to other BristolCon’10 write-ups here on the BristolCon site.  Search Twitter for the #bristolcon hashtag for a load of associated tweets.

A new decade

Happy New Year!

It goes to show just how much I update this site that 2009’s Happy New Year post is still showing on the front page as I type this 🙂

I don’t think I’ll bother publishing a list of resolutions this time around, suffice to say that it’s 30 days since I last smoked a cigarette, I never did start swimming regularly again but I do drink less, so that’s a qualified failure.  Still, 30 days and no smoking is pretty good so here’s to that being 395 days this time next year (although I haven’t smoked full-time for years and I’ve gone far longer without a cigarette before. Ach, come on – positive thinking!)

Changing the subject, I’ve recently got around to going back over the content here categorising and tagging posts and generally tidying up.  This blog has moved hosts, changed URL and been restored from backup more than once and is in a bit of a mess.  There’s a fair amount of linkrot that needs sorting and plenty of typos and markup errors that need correcting.  My aim is to get it all sorted out so at least what is here looks OK and doesn’t make me look like too much of an amateur 😉

Looking back now I will admit to wincing a little when reading some of the posts.  I suppose this is natural when you consider that the site’s been around for 7 years or so and over this period I’ve done a fair few things, grown older, changed.  Nevertheless I’m leaving it all here unless it’s actively misleading.

As for new content… well life’s pretty busy these days and doesn’t leave a lot of time for blogging.  My employer obviously doesn’t pay me to maintain a personal blog and my family takes up much of the rest of my time.  I’m not complaining, just observing.  I’d like to think that writing is something I’ll take up more seriously in the future, but for the time being I don’t expect to post much here other than the occasional how-to piece.