Saturday, December 29, 2012

World of Warcraft: No Logins for You


No it isn’t just you World of Warcraft EU is playing distinctly hard to get at the moment. The problem seems to be that after you go passed the log in screen to the server/character selection screen the games kicks you out after you choose a character and it tries to load. I tried it on several characters and switched realms after a quick trip to the official WoW forums I realised that this is a fairly widespread problem plus there is an announcement on the log in page.



According to the forums it looks like the problem started somewhere around 11am UK time but there were some issues last night that make more sense now for instance while in dungeons the game just hanging during encounters for maybe 20-40 seconds like the bad old days of using a 3g connection or something instead of the 7mb connection I currently enjoy.

There is a lot of gnashing of teeth going on which I think is due in no small part to the fact that Blizzard always get so damn obtuse when they have issues. At first their updates make reference to a problem that was external in nature. Further investigation into things and it seems that there is a problem with WoW’s internet provider.

That is all the info I can weed out at the moment so now I am going to go and try to use this time constructively to go apply for some jobs.

Check out these threads for more information.


Friday, December 28, 2012

IT IS CHRISTMAS OR AT LEAST THE AFTERMATH


REAL LIFE
How was your Christmas? The most exciting aspect of mine was having to bundle up to post a response to the Doubt raised by SEETEC over non attendance to a mandated interview. To explain I am on the Work Programme for the unemployed run by a government and they in theory help me to find work. I missed an interview because I had got myself a job interview, I had informed them beforehand but apparently that makes no difference. That fact as well as a few others to me shows clearly that all these changes to the rules around benefits for low paid and unemployed people is just an exercise in screwing people out of money in order to appeal to the public at large they are dealing with those evil benefit scroungers (while ignoring all the rich tax dodgers and evaders) and to reduce the welfare bill (though the majority of it is pensions just so you know). Anyway the letter has been sent so now I have to wait for the response.

I haven’t really picked anything up for Christmas mainly as a result of some unexpected expenses that came up just before it. I had three interviews in rapid succession and SEETEC in a move that proved their ‘worth’ refused to pay for travel for the 2 outside of the local area, in this case it was to cover the cost of travel to London for the interviews. That really made things difficult and I nearly couldn’t come up with the funds to make it happen needless to say food was a little light on the ground following those interviews but I’m still here so we move on. I am in the process of writing up a complaint about the whole thing after talking to the Job Centre who think that SEETEC are in the wrong for refusing to help with the costs of travel but we will see how long the complaint procedure will take.

GAMING
Still I did fun things at Christmas too I did a little levelling on World of Warcraft even managing to pop 86 on my Horde Hunter and see some of the Horde storyline play out in Pandaria which I haven’t seen really up until this point. It is interesting so far and it is good to be home I have always identified more with the Horde than the Alliance the communities in my experience feel quite different and I just got used to the Horde side stuff after levelling through 4 max level characters.

So now I am going to do my best to do some smart shopping to stretch my limited pounds for all they are worth. My shortlist includes some new smart shoes for interviews, a new cap and some books.
Did you get what you wanted for Christmas? I’m still waiting for that most precious of gifts – a job.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday


Deadly Cool written by Gemma Halliday was published by Harper Collins on the 11th October 2011. It is the first in a series featuring the main character Hartley Featherstone. I purchased this book.

PLOT

Hartley Featherstone just found out that her boyfriend, Josh, is cheating on her with the president of the high school chastity club. So naturally she breaks into Josh’s bedroom after school, hoping to catch the cheaters in the act. Instead, all she finds is the fake virgin’s dead body in Josh’s closet. Now Josh is the prime suspect and as much as she wouldn't mind watching him squirm, Hartley knows he’s no killer. So she teams up with Chase Erikson, the unnervingly sexy editor of the school newspaper, to try and crack the case. Soon Hartley  is stumbling over more dead bodies...and all signs indicate that she may be the killer’s next target.

WHY I READ IT

Whenever I have the time I like to update my preferences on the Amazon site to reflect which books they suggest are ones I already own and take a quick look at the suggested ones, when Deadly Cool showed up I was immediately intrigued, what doesn’t sound compelling about a high schooler solving murders with her friends especially when you add in the fact that the murder was at the school.

WHAT I THOUGHT

JUST WHAT I NEEDED. This book is a very quick read but such an enjoyable one, the writing style is filled with humour but never goes too far in that direction, there is just enough of a hint of real danger surrounding the characters that you quickly become interested in to keep you excited and eager to see the plot unfold.

The thing about murder mysteries is that unless you are really knew to them which is unlikely given the proliferation of them in nearly all forms of media we know exactly how things are going to happen from murder to speculation over motive, to suspect one onto suspect two and so on until in the end the killer appears and we most likely never saw it coming. Well that is an example of a GOOD murder mystery sometimes you know who did it before the murder even takes place but without spoilers I think you’ll be reasonably happy with the resolution of this mystery and it features none of that nonsense like finding out that one of the principal characters is actually someone’s son in the summing up of why they did it, I always hate when they do that.

Hartley is an immensely likeable character right from the beginning and you totally begin rooting for her and hoping that she comes out on top because you can tell despite the things she is obviously very confused about she is strong, dedicated and incredibly loyal.

So if you like mysteries and your stories with a little snark and humour then you need look no further than Hartley Featherstone and Deadly Cool.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

FILM REVIEW - Dead Souls


Dead Souls is a 2012 Horror Film that premiered on the Chiller Network. It is based on a book by Michael Laimo that was first published in 2007.

PLOT

For eighteen-year-old Johnny Petrie, the dilapidated farmhouse in Maine meant a way out. When the letter arrived saying he had inherited an estate from a man he'd never heard of before, Johnny knew he could finally escape the hell of living with his religious zealot mother and drunken father. He didn't realize that the hell he was moving into would be far, far worse.

The previous owner of the estate was Benjamin Conroy, a man obsessed with securing eternal life for himself and his family--even if he had to kill them to do it. Conroy's ultimate ritual, a perverse ceremony of blood and butchery, went hideously wrong, denying him the immortality he sought, leaving him and his family dead. But now that Johnny has arrived at the house, Conroy's spirit will have a second chance....


WHY I WATCHED

If you are a regular follower of my blog ramblings then you might know that I am a huge fanboy  of one Magda Apanowicz, a young Canadian actress I first saw in one of my favourite Sci-Fi shows Kyle XY. She played Andy Jensen who ended up as Josh Trager’s girlfriend and a close friend of Kyle himself.
Magda Apanowicz also starred in the ill fated Battlestar Galactica prequel Caprica which charted the beginning of the Cylon menace. Needless to say that show was great but the slow, slow start and the mid-season break were not helpful. So in the end Magda +horror film sounded like a winner to me and therefore here we are.

WHAT I THOUGHT

I was impressed by this offering from the Chiller Network who I knew absolutely nothing about before I started hearing about Dead Souls. What you get is a solid horror film that doesn't skimp on plot or interesting characters. With horror films it is too often that you end up choosing one of what you want from gore, an interesting plot or three dimensional characters. You get all of that here and more.

The two leads are believable and interesting I almost instantly bought into their stories and their eventual chemistry. The story moves along at fair old rate even the initial flashback giving you the background stays brief enough to be interesting and more than gory enough to make you wince.

Dead Souls is an excellent horror film that manages to skilfully skirt all the traditional horror pitfalls. What we get is a great film with a plot that keeps you interested and more than enough scares to have you throwing your popcorn all over your living room.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Two Ways the Work Programme Providers Can Screw You


Way 1

Last month I had one of those pesky job search sessions where they require you to come in and sign up 2 hours of your life for no apparent reason in my case as I have Internet access at home and a computer that actually lets me right click things to keep a job advert open at the same time as the application process which TRUST me is incredibly useful. Moving on when I sat down at a computer I noticed that there was a written note at the top of the job search form which they require us to fill in with the details of any jobs we apply for. I took a picture because I couldn't believe their cheek in what could be politely described as misrepresenting the truth. I have included the photographic evidence below.



If you can’t read it I took the time to write down what it says.

“DO THIS FIRST”
“REGISTER WITH THE JCP SITE (UNIVERSAL JOB MATCH) AND GET ID NUMBER, GIVE ID NUMBER TO YOUR ADVISOR”
“THIS MUST BE DONE TODAY”

So there you have it they are trying to get access to your Universal Jobmatch details which they have absolutely no right to and if you were to read that without the foreknowledge of resources such as the Unemployment Movement or DoNotSign you would assume that failing to do what was written there would result in at least some sort of punishment, yet when I refused after having to explain my reasons for not handing over the details – that they were private and it says clearly in the terms and conditions NOT to share your details with a third party I was told that “Oh it is not important we just wanted to make a note of them in case you forgot your ID number.” That is some textbook social engineering right there and I am afraid that they got away with it in most cases though I did try to educate the people around me but I feel like it is a losing battle.

Way 2

So listen on as things go from bad to worse. On Monday I had great news that I got an interview for a great job that I would really love to do. Unfortunately there is a problem, my Work Programme provider do not provide help with travel costs for interviews outside of the local area which is one of the most backward theories I have ever encountered.

Not only are they breaking their agreement to take over the responsibility from the job centre they are putting unnecessary barriers to me returning to work which I find unacceptable especially when they are being PAID to get me work and they have done nothing but hinder me at every point.

The job is in London which is a long way away, commutes STARTING from just under 2 hrs, 1 way but I know of many people who do it because of the lack of any real jobs (more than that 18 hour nonsense) to be found in the local area.

To be honest at this point I am so upset and angry at how I have been treated I am going to stop here and go do some research on the job interview I WILL be going to on Thursday. WISH ME LUCK.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Magic Of Vampire Diaries


Oh Vampire Diaries, I am convinced that this show has some hidden mystical powers above and beyond the ability to entertain a cynic like me how else can I explain suddenly noticing how beautiful Phoebe Tonkin is. Somehow throughout the entire run of The Secret Circle I never noticed Phoebe but then you have a show with Shelley Hennig and Jessica Parker Kennedy the latter spent the first few episodes in nothing but her underwear very distracting indeed.

I think it has something to do with the Faye the character she played on the Secret Circle she wasn’t the nicest of people and that might have blinded me to her appeal. So since Phoebe started on The Vampire Diaries I have done a little research into her and I was rather surprised to find out she is Australian, who knew? Her accent is excellent.

I am assuming the readers are familiar with these shows and Ms Tonkin but if not I have included a gallery.






If this has only whetted your appetite then be sure to head over to Shaft's Words Extra for a bigger gallery dedicated to our new favourite former witch turned werewolf.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

SHAFT'S TV ROUNDUP


So I watch a lot of TV and I figured that it was more than time to do an article about shows that in my opinion are worth watching, further than that these show are great with usually top notch writing and thoroughly entertaining characters that keep you coming back. In this action packed instalment of Shaftsword we will be discussing three top shows Vegas, NCIS LA and Homeland.

VEGAS

Set in 1960s Las Vegas, the series centers on Sheriff Ralph Lamb (Quaid) and his dealings with Chicago mobster Vincent Savino (Chiklis), who moved west to set up his own operation. The Lamb character is based on a real-life former rancher who served as Sheriff of Clark County from 1961 to 1979.
I really wasn’t sure what to expect given it is a period drama but I took the plunge initially because Michael Chiklis was one of the principals and after being a dedicated fan of The Shield.  I am not usually a fan of period dramas but the glamour of Vegas in its infancy sucks me right in. It reminds me a bit of OTR (Old Time Radio) broadcasts from the 1920s to the 1950s which told of private detectives, cops, robbers and speakeasies.

Dennis Quaid is the right choice for Ralph Lamb a former military investigator who is pressed into service as a sheriff when things the previous sheriff disappears. Between him and Michael Chiklis you have two opposing forces that can’t help but clash over control of Vegas. In this story it is a mob boss and a sheriff but it could easily be two opposing countries locked in a desperate war it is a simple tale that is presented very well with a variety of support characters that hold your interest so you end up wanting to learn more about them too.

NCIS LA

Pretty much everyone knows NCIS either you know Gibbs and his angry cop routine or like me you pine after Ms Sciuto. That show has been going for 10 years and doesn’t look like it is about to end. NCIS LA is of course a spinoff… of a spinoff but somehow it is still kinda awesome. For me its success is in its simplicity it is a buddy cop movie but it pretty much as three pairs of buddies appealing to broad demographics. Add to that an average of about 10 clips of ammunition spent per episode and you have something that just works.

HOMELAND

The first season of this epic show blew my mind, I mainly went to it because I was a fan of Damian Lewis and was pretty upset at the two season run of Life which in my opinion was one of the finest cop procedural shows out there. Now thinking about Damian’s performance in Life it does have some similarities to what he brings to Homeland. Both of these are stories about men who are loss then found and struggling to adapt their new found freedom. Life of course has a vein of comedy running through it whereas Homeland is as serious as a heart attack.

Homeland is based on an Israeli Television show Hatufim (Prisoners of War), the series stars Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison, a Central Intelligence Agency officer, and Damian Lewis as Nicholas Brody, a U.S. Marine. Mathison has come to believe that Brody, who was held captive by al-Qaeda as a prisoner of war, was turned by the enemy and now threatens the United States.

So that was my roundup of three excellent shows that maybe you should check out. You can leave comments on here or tweet me @shaftsword. Thanks for visiting.




Monday, November 19, 2012

Two WP Visits - Double The Pain

UPDATE: Hey post number 250 wowzers


2 WP Visits, Twice the Pain

So welcome back to Shaftsword VS SEETEC or my ongoing dealings with all aspects of the Work Programme. This post will cover my fifth and sixth visits mainly because the fourth was quite quick and not worth a whole post. So let us get to it.

The fourth visit was an early morning visit to a BDC advisor, which I had no clue about as it wasn’t explained. Basically the BDC advisor is in charge of looking out for jobs for me, jobs not placements as I checked that at the time to make sure. Anyway we had a talk about the kinds of jobs I was interested in and any restrictions to that work, commuting distance that sort of thing.

Overall it was a very pleasant experience, the only glitch was in the discussion of my CV once again we fell into the WP Waltz (I’m working on a snappy title) where he talked about sending out my CV to jobs. I then informed him that he could not send my CV out for jobs, he was like “But you signed the waiver” to which I responded no I didn’t, that caught him out a bit and he asked why yadda yadda yadda. They always use the what if a job appears and you are not at home when we e-mail.

I really have no idea where all these strange advertised-for-24-hour vacancies come from but apparently SEETEC has some sort of deal with them. I once again told them I was more than capable of applying for any jobs that came up, plus I got the advisor to e-mail me a job he wanted to send my details to.  I applied for it when I got home well before the deadline which was the day after.

MY REVIEW – DUN DUN DUN!

When I went to my first proper SEETEC meeting I was given a list of tasks to go through including things like, sending them my CV (which I did after some changes), listing companies I wanted to work for and a few other things. When I came in for my fortnightly review I was informed that I would be changing advisors to a new person.

ONCE AGAIN there was discussion about using their e-mail address, I refused arguing that I have an e-mail address and I am not happy to share that information with the WP provider. They were very insistent about it to the point of becoming rather aggressive about it. I was in the unfortunate position of being seated with my current advisor right next to the new advisor who felt the need to butt into our conversation and make snarky remarks when I talked about not wanting to use their e-mail, pretty much saying that as I am on the WP now I have to do EVERYTHING they say “You’re on the Work Programme now”. Rude is understating how she was with me, way to start off the relationship in the right manner.

Basically I am going to have to go into the next meeting on Wednesday on my toes and ready to wholeheartedly defend my reasoning for not signing the data waiver and wanting nothing to do with their e-mail address system. Wish me luck.

One other thing I thought I would mention was signing on the register of the WP, something we are asked to do as soon as we step through the door. I had just been initialling my name without putting in a signature and the manager at the WP confronted me over it. She said that if I didn't use my correct signature then I was not attending. She also stated that they send their attendance registers to the DWP every week which sounded very unlikely to my ears but I am just tell you what they told me. So not wanting to get into a lengthy sanction battle over not appearing I put in my signature. A loss for me then on that score.

Stay tuned for the results of my first meeting with this new advisor it is going to be a slobberknocker.

Friday, November 16, 2012

GAMING - I needed a WoWcation.


So if you have an interest in World of Warcraft and are staying current you might have heard of the endless back and forth over the current content in terms of the dailies and reputation requirements. If you haven’t heard about it and have a appetite for MMO drama grab your popcorn and head over here or try here, they should get you started.

Anyway moving on, as the title suggests I was not playing World of Warcraft for the last week so I have been looking at some other titles. 

APB Reloaded

A free game from Steam it looked interesting and described itself as a sort of Grand Theft Auto MMO. My initial thoughts are that yeah that is a pretty accurate description with some interesting extras. You can choose to play as criminals or enforcers and then you are let loose on a fairly large urban sandbox and go about doing missions with others against other players of the opposing factions.



My problems though are few but very important, it is REALLY difficult to get going in the beginning the so called tutorial is more than a little lacking. I really didn’t know what to do so I did some exploring and tried to get used to how ridiculously sensitive the controls are. That comes from someone not used to FPS type games so it could just be me. What I saw of the game was interesting but a tutorial system would really help.

Since then I have checked out YouTube to get some ideas and I now at least have a notion of how things are going. I will have to give it a try again but at the time I decided to move on to my next game of choice.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

I have already played a little SWTOR, got to level 11 on a Sith Warrior and pretty much enjoyed the experience other than somehow managing to make the character on a French server (oh how I laughed at myself). In reality that matters little as I was on a trial account and therefore could not talk on the general chat or send tells and such.

My second experience with SWTOR was going Republic side and choosing a Jedi Consular, you watch the preview video on the website and tell me they don’t look cool. Going through the second time even with completely new quests was a lot quicker. I’m not really a light side fan but at least I get the choice to go with some dark side choices.

the light side has scantily clad warriors

For a lore nerd like me it is nice to be able to go all dark side especially in the time of the Old Republic as the Jedi Order then is makes the Tea Party look liberal. I am more of a fan of the later time periods but they don’t have an MMORPG based on them.

So I hope you liked this glimpse at what I did in my Wow-cation.



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Work Programme Visit 4

CV WORKSHOP

So today bright and early I had a CV workshop, it was one of the three, specialist appointments I guess you could call them. It started straightforwardly we had an adviser not my regular one but he seems to have some sort of specialism. He basically went through CVs and their purpose and highlighted various approaches to CV design. I didn’t agree with all of what he said but I can’t say that his advice would be damaging.



My issue with the 3 hour long session is that my CV was not in need of work, of the people at the session there was two without CVs and one who needed guidance on things like dealing with gaps. In discussions with my advisor, they never stated that they thought anything was wrong with my CV the only real discussion was me outlining in detail the fact that I was not happy with them doing with it whatever they wanted (more on ROUND 2 of that fight later).

Part of the CV session was a one to one opportunity where the advisor personally looks at your CV and rewrites it, there doesn’t seem to be a choice in the matter. It was at this point that IT happened. First I was asked if I had a CV on file which of I did, as a watermarked PDF with ‘do not copy’ written all over it. When the advisor asked if it was a PDF to prevent them messing with it, I said simply ‘yes’. I was at pains not be rude about it still left him a little stunned, he looked through the CV then suggested he wanted to make changes to it at which point I said I was more than happy with it.

This was the moment where after some back and forth he said something along the lines of “Well you know you signed the waiver so…” to which I responded “No I didn’t”. That left him flummoxed to say the least and he went in a bit about how they need the waiver so they can apply for jobs on my behalf, I said if they find a job they can get in contact with me, what if I’m busy they said? I patiently explained about wanting to be in control of my job searching.

Another interesting thing that happened was during the CV Workshop the manager of SEETEC came into our session and tried to get me to sign the desk register I just initialled it but that wasn’t good enough for the Manager and I was told that “We would have to have a talk”. So that is something to look forward to.
Tomorrow is my next meeting where I have a meeting with someone called a business adviser but I don’t really know what it will be about.

Next update should be up soon if you have any questions about my experience you can leave a comment and I will get back to you or contact me on Twitter.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Hidden (House of Night #10) By PC & Kristin Cast

Hidden is the tenth instalment of the House of Night series by PC and Kristin Cast. It was published on the 16th October 2012 by Atom in the UK. The hardcover edition of Hidden is 320 pages long.

PLOT

I'd known it before we saw the fire trucks and the smoke. I'd known all hell had broken loose at the House of Night the moment it had been proven beyond all doubt that Neferet was on the side of Darkness. Only now I had a terrible feeling that outing Neferet would serve more to free her than to force her to pay the consequences for her lies and betrayals.

At last, Zoey has what she wanted: the truth is out. Neferet's evil has been exposed, and the High Council is no longer on her side - but she's far from done wreaking havoc in the vampyre world.

With the seeds of distrust sown and Darkness breeding chaos at the House of Night, everyone must band together - but that's proving to be more difficult than ever before. The twins are barely speaking and the House of Night's former enemy, Kalona, has now become their warrior, pushing their trust to the limits.

To top it all off, Zoey is pretty darn sure she might be losing her mind - she saw something when she looked at Neferet's minion, Aurox, through the Seer Stone that she can hardly explain to herself, let alone her friends. Zoey knows that following her instincts might be just what they need to defeat evil... but if she's wrong, it could cause the destruction of those closest to her.

With the tension at a breaking point and friendships on the line, can the nerd herd come together to stop the spread of Darkness before it's too late?

NOTES ON SPOILERS

It would be near impossible to discuss Hidden without spoiling some of the details from the previous books. I would highly recommend if you are interested in reading House of Night that you should start at the beginning, the books follow on immediately after one another and could not be more connected.

HON Controversy

I don’t feel like I can write a review of a House of Night novel without talking a little about the controversy surrounding the title. The controversy is about the maturity level of the content, while HON is about Vampires in High school with magic powers there are a lot of mature themes including things like sexual themes and swearing. When I read book blogger reviews of HON they highlight this content as if there isn’t a clear warning on the back of the books about the mature content.

I feel that book stores both physical and online are partly to blame as they tend to incorrectly place any books not overtly romantic straight into the children/teens section. While House of Night could be described as a YA or Young Adult novel it really isn’t for kids despite it being set in a school.

WHAT I THOUGHT

House of Night novels are regular as clockwork around October each year and I am always eagerly awaiting each new addition to the series. Zoey Redbird and her gang are fully engaged in the fight against darkness but things are becoming too much for Zoey. This book is about Zoey as well as several other of the major protagonists taking steps to decide their own destinies. 

While this is obviously a series about magic and vampires it is also about people choosing between easy and the hard choice. A lot of times when I read YA books I question whether the characters are inspirational, whether or not they could be thought of as role models.

The characters in HON are relatable, now too flawed and not too perfect though I have to say Jack was pretty brilliant. They are some of the most believable characters I have come across in literature and they have a permanent place in my heart (yes I know that is so cheesy especially coming from an adult guy).

Religion and the way it is portrayed has always intrigued me in HON and the religion of the Nyx is a fairly well defined one and it throws up an interesting relationship dynamic, it makes possible a triangular romantic relationship, whereas 90% of YA books make use of the love triangle this book goes in another direction entirely suggesting a new relationship structure and I find that interesting.

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT

First if you are a fan of House of Night this is a great addition to the story, if you left the series because of the change in the storyline a few books back I would urge you to come back as the essential qualities of House of Night never left even if the story has changed somewhat since the beginning.

If you are new to the House of Night series I can tell you that it is not just another Vampire book it is a richly detailed alternate world and a story about friendship first. House of Night is definitely worth adding to your read pile.

If you want to get in touch with me, maybe to argue the merits of House of Night or YA in general you can find me on Twitter on @shaftsword, I’ll be happy to reply.  




Saturday, November 10, 2012

Third Visit to the WP


This is my third visit to the Work Programme run by SEETEC. This time I was booked in for a two hour session on the virtual training environment. This is where we can get some training on basically everything involved in getting ready for work and applying for jobs.

They asked me to go through the online presentations for cold calling for jobs and good interview habits. The second part seems quite useful to me and I suppose the first may be useful depending on what sort of jobs you are going for certainly not in my case due to the type of organisations I apply to.

The Training

The training material is fairly straightforward stuff just a PowerPoint slide with a voiceover that is intentionally distorted so you can’t tell gender and I guess it makes it harder to pick up accents, very strange. As you wait patiently through the voice track at various intervals you have to click on videos broken into multiple parts that give you tips and what and what not to do.

All in all a good idea however the implementation is more than a little off. The first problem is that the videos are at least 15 years old, considering that these providers are being paid to help it would be nice if they used some of those profits to buy some training materials from the last decade. The problem with the age of the material is that a lot of it is no longer relevant and maybe a quarter of the things they suggest seem that they just wouldn’t be possible now.

And then there was the time, all in all I spent a little over 2 hours just sitting there clicking my mouse every now and then while watching this largely pointless material and of course listening to the strangely distorted announcers voice as they guided me through the material. I would add this was mandatory so I wasn’t going to raise a stink about it certainly not worth getting or having to fight a 4 week sanction.

The thing that annoyed me was that perhaps 10 minutes before I finished up I got a tap by one of the floating advisor types to say “Hey you can go as soon as you finish” I looked at the time on the computer and yep 2 hours had passed. There was no interview at the end to round things up or even to ask if what I had just watched made any sense or was in anyway useful to me moving from unemployment back into the workplace. It was the epitome of a ticking box episode and frankly I and everyone who attends these Work Programmes is worth more than that.

Anyway that is enough from me; feel free to join me next week when I attend the CV workshop which is another 2 hour mandatory activity to take place at the WP.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Cross Realm Auction Houses - BLOGGING CARNIVAL


Is the CRAH a good or bad idea? What would you predict would happen to the auction economy?  Does the notion excite or horrify you?  Would a CRAH we good or bad for WoW?


So it has been mentioned that with all these recent changes that a Cross Realm Auction House is not beyond the realm of possibilities in the future. Now I am coming from a selling place, I’m no amazing Gold Goblin mere silvers away from his 1 million gold target but I still like to play the AH I just measure things in terms of being able to pay for my professions and save a little to invest.



I really can’t see how a perhaps Battlegroup wide Auction House is going to be good for those of us who like to play the markets. You have to think of it in the ways that you or the average goblin might try the AH. So say you’re a jewelcrafter and let’s leave the other profession blank for this example and you want to do some crafting. Let us say rings so you go to the AH looking for ore, good news it is dirt cheap but then when you check the prices of the rings you want to make they work out less than the cost of the mats.

Why you ask because you are now dealing with 4 times the amount of competition being fuelled by god knows how many times more bots from the various servers flooding the ore market. Now imagine this across all the professions as very few have gold making possibilities not directly linked to the raw materials. You could maybe argue Inscription and DMF cards because of both the fair only being 1 week per month and the cards being limited by source materials with a 1 a day cooldown but that market is fairly limited and will be limited further as we are currently in a DMF.

This stuff of course is not necessarily game breaking for all but for those who like the AH the effect would be quite noticeable. I think the more important thing to consider is the reason behind things like the discussion of a Cross Realm Auction House and the establishment of the Cross Realm Zones. These are all just Blizzard branded plasters covering the festering wounds of dead and dying servers (now that’s some imagery for you).

I’ve been on one of those abandoned servers (Blizzard liked to call them Recommended) and I know how much of a nightmare they can be. The server that I was on wasn’t always bad but it slowly went down as top 10 guild after top 10 guild server transferred away. Yes they are the elite but where they go others follow and soon two of the guilds I was in which were nowhere near the top decided to move on as well.

This all took time 5 level 85s worth of time, so when I decided to move to follow a friend and her guild I had to start over from scratch. Which is the other part of this with all this Cross Realm talk Blizzard can continue to double charge people to move server and faction just because they can’t properly deal with the fact that they need to consolidate servers.

This issue goes all the way back to when LFG and BGs went from just your realm to your Battlegroup. Unfortunately for me it seems that Blizzard has gone so far down this road that they are really not going to turn around now so perhaps goblins everywhere should be prepared to deal with a Cross Realm Auction House.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

K-K-CANCELLED!?!


So it is November and it is getting seriously cold out there. Not that I have anything to complain about given the devastation around Cuba, Haiti and of course the Eastern seaboard of the United States. I felt that I just had to at least mention that before moving on to the discussion of TV shows.

Unfortunately good friends I bring you news of cancellations.



The first show is Fairly Legal which has been cancelled after two seasons. It starred Sarah Shahi (she being the reason I watched) about a lawyer turned mediator with a bit of a hero complex and an incredibly messy personal life. It also featured Michael Trucco that you probably recognise from Battlestar Galactica as one Samuel Anders.

It was a solid enough show that showed during the off season but I could never truly sympathise with the lead character as she always come over a little too self righteous for my liking and the mess she made of her private life made even a singleton like me wince on more than one occasion.

I enjoyed the antics of her personal assistant played by Baron Vaughn, he was just so intensely likeable as was his brief courtship of the sandwich seller. I can fully understand though why the show was cancelled as deciding to come up with the main romantic prospect in the 2nd season was never likely to work. Still I will miss Sarah Shahi and her smoldering looks.



The other show to get an official cancellation notification was Political Animals starring Sigourney Weaver
The reason this one left me surprised was the fact that it was a miniseries, I don’t know about you but when  I hear the term miniseries I assume only one run and not several seasons, otherwise it wouldn’t really be a MINI-series then would it? Still for whatever reason USA made the announcement, from what I can gather Political Animals was one of those critic, good, ratings, bad shows that often like to appear every now and then.

I watched the entire run but I can remember only catching up on the final 5 episodes weeks after they aired just to say I had watched it because the show didn’t really move me. I get the idea it was supposed to with some many heavy hitters in the cast list but then I have never been one for mainstream drama. Perhaps the American public gets more than enough of their politics from Fox News.

SOME GOOD NEWS TO FOLLOW BAD



Homeland has been renewed for Season Three and it is only five episodes into Season Two. That is pretty early as renewals go especially for someone who generally is still waiting to hear whether or not his favourite show is going to return in May or June after a season finale. Homeland stars Damian Lewis who also starred with Sarah Shahi in Life which was a cop procedural that lasted two seasons. It is a great show and I am glad to see that it is going to be around for awhile though I do have questions about how far it can go.



Arrow is also going to be show in its entirety for the first season. Obviously this isn’t as big news as a renewal but it is still important as all too often shows like this might be silently lead off to execution after only a few episodes of a longer intended run. Look up Birds of Prey as a noteworthy example.

Arrow is certainly no Smallville it goes in another direction probably more accurate to equate it with Batman which Arrow is a copy of. It makes sense for CW to run with it though as the Batman rights are in use, the writing and pacing of the show is excellent though one minor gripe is for Oliver to go a little further with his family than just being the obnoxious playboy.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

WORK PROGRAMME - 2ND VISIT


So this is a summary of my second meeting with the people of SEETEC

One of the first things that we covered once we got started was the CV, last interview I was asked to send my CV in which I decided to comply with subject to making some changes. The first changes I made to the CV itself was to add a watermark (you can do this easily in Windows or if you’re advanced you can edit the PDF with Acrobat) which said ‘DO NOT COPY’. I also removed my telephone number and e-mail address. Finally I added a line in red that said please do not disseminate (fine word).

As you might guess my data is important to me so to ensure that there would be no mistakes I wrote an e-mail stating that I was providing this CV only because I had been directed to do so in my previous appointment and that by accepting this copy of my CV, SEETEC (my provider) were agreeing to destroy any previous electronic or paper copies of my CV that they may have had as a result of me being on their New Deal programme previously or that they may have somehow received from DWP.

The advisor accepted this and told me that my e-mail had been passed on to the manager so that everyone knew how seriously I took my data which was great. A little later I was asked whether or not I was using the e-mail and I said that I was not comfortable using it and then the advisor spilled this little bit of info. The reason that they do this is for lazy people who they feel don’t do enough to look for jobs so they (SEETEC) can then send off applications to jobs. The advisor agreed with me that if there are jobs they want me to go for they can get in touch with me.

So overall an excellent interview with no one trying to screw me over.

OTHER THINGS TO LOOK FORWARD TO

I have to attend a 2 hour CV workshop compulsory but a total waste of time. I only went to a CV interview at the job centre maybe 2 months ago which was pretty useful more for the interview practice than the CV thing as my CV was made by someone who used to work in recruitment and it has proven reasonably successful in getting interviews.

I also have a two hour VTC Elvis session. This is an online training area which to be honest I have to check out but when I do I will try to write a little something about it.
So big thanks to everyone over at the Unemployment Movement


Without the advice from those guys I don’t know where I would be. Keep your eyes peeled for WP labelled posts if you want to hear of my misadventures but be warned it is not the only thing I blog about.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

WORK PROGRAMME - Thoughts

So there are a lot of misconceptions floating around about job seekers being work shy and living in luxury on the tax payers’ dime but have you ever thought about the so called solution to unemployment – the Work Programme and the WP providers?

I recently got referred to a Work Programme and I am going to share my experiences with you so you can get an idea of what happens.

First when you are referred to a Work Programme you are disavowed by the Job Centre meaning they will no longer help you with things like travel expenses and everything they do is now covered by the work Programme, unfortunately the Work Programme is a business not a government service.

One of the things people entering on the programme notice is the very stiff penalties for falling foul of the WP providers and the rather high rates of people then receiving those sanctions.

On my first appointment I was almost inundated with information and forms to fill in, fortunately I had done a lot of research before that interview mainly down to an earlier experience with the same WP provider when they did work on the New Deal, basically to cut a long story short they attempted to bully me as well as asking me to take steps that would have lessened my chances at getting a job also they failed to keep to their promises as laid down in the contract.

The important things that came out from my interview:

 Data protection waiver:
You are asked to sign a data consent form which if you did means that the provider can use your information as they see fit. The main way in which this works would mean that they can apply for jobs on your behalf without your consent or knowledge. They can also contact your employers after you find your job to ask about your performance and ultimately claim a bonus payment from the government because you found work.
 The WP provider took it upon themselves to create an e-mail address for me despite the fact that they already had mine on their record. Furthermore I was informed that they created this e-mail so that they can use it to inspect any job applications by logging into that e-mail address.

So I decided to withhold my consent in terms of the data waiver. I am concerned with losing control of my own data which I think is a reasonable response when dealing with a company that gets paid on the back of people finding jobs often with little help from them.

That is enough from me for now I have a further interview tomorrow so I will be sure to take lots of notes and to be prepared for the reaction to my non-signing of the data waiver.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

So This is How Things Are Going


Personal Stuff

I'm on the Work Programme I thought I would share at least that much though I suppose depending on if SEETEC is as bad as it was last time then you may find me blogging about it nearly as much as a blog about TV which I think we all agree would be weird. Last time when it was the New Deal it was a very bad experience to say the least in fact I barely want to type about it suffice it to say they treated us like we were recently paroled convicts with brain damage who needed help on the job front, that or perhaps those kids in school who aren’t allowed in your normal classroom environment because they’d break shit up.

I’m published YA KNOW!!!

So yeah I got something published on Hypable.com again which was nice. I am not saying that makes me some amazing journalist as I think they will print anything regardless of content as long as you know it reads well and isn’t insulting or just a bunch of nonsense, what was good about getting the article out there is of course seeing some reaction to it. 4 comments since I last checked and I think likely it will stick around there but then 4 comments are most certainly better than none.

It is a review about Video Game High School from RocketJump.com

Job Interview, Shmob Interview


Yes it is that time again so even as I am writing this I am making notes on the questions I am likely to be asked at the interview. As far as I know this is just a straight interview as in one without an attached task which is pretty rare these days. I can’t be sure but there is no task mentioned in the invite and usually they are quite good about such things.

Wish me luck I’m bringing my A game as I really want to be through with this unemployment thing and get back to a job, something I can excel at.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Weekly Roundup?

MISTS OF PANDARIA


I have a level 90 Death Knight and have been running around like a headless chicken ever since. The ‘WTF’ moment had to be when I got an achievement ding for doing 25 DAILIES in one day, ugh. I have decided to work on Golden Lotus, Order of the Serpent with a little Tillers rep thrown in. Slowly starting to level my 2nd character to 90 also gold making has been going surprisingly well even sold my first mount.

THE DEATH OF LEMON LUCOZADE



So I was just walking around doing some light shoppery when I noticed that Lucozade have added yet another new flavour replacing the most beloved of all flavours Lucozade Lemon. I find this interesting not least because I know of a certain low cost supermarket branch that had a suspiciously similarly flavoured drink which one day just disappeared only to replaced by a pathetic sugar free version. If you ask me there was just more sugar than someone somewhere high up wants in drinks. I however will very much miss it and the new replacement is pretty meh.

It is not just me the Internet is in an uproar

http://forums.digitalspy.co.uk/showthread.php?t=1643694
http://www.ukcampsite.co.uk/chatter/display_topic_threads.asp?ForumID=2&TopicID=280326&PagePosition=1

Undoubtedly by the time you read this there will be more uproar in fact things shall be quite loud all around.

MY OTHER BLOGS

So I thought I would just put in here that I have been doing my best to line up some interviews for my other blogs. You would not know it from look at the analytical on this my personal blog space but on the other blogs I run do have regular decent numbers for me with posts generating at least a couple hundred hits each and the site hits being well into the hundreds of thousands. So of course I want to take that success and go somewhere with it improve things for those people who come to my blog so hopefully they will tell others and so on. I have one interview sorted but the big name stars are far harder to get hold of which makes sense as I am just a guy and not someone writing for a popular celeb blog or a newspaper but we will keep on trying.

So that is all from me, questions? Hit the comment button and try to remember this isn't YouTube. Thank you kindly.

Monday, October 8, 2012

So I Got A New Computer


If you’ve been following my adventures you will know that my old gaming machine packed up a couple weeks ago. Well I got a new computer after a lot of head scratching and reading of reviews I came to a decision and got a HP Pavillion g6.

I was very worried after reading various graphics cards review sites that the G6 wouldn’t be able to play World of Warcraft at any reasonable frame rate however thankfully after a touch of insight I searched YouTube for examples of my preferred laptop and graphics cards running games that I was interested in. 



Thankfully I want to play World of Warcraft and not some lesser known game, after checking out YouTube I was convinced it was worth trying this laptop out.

THE SPECIFICATION
·         1.9 GHz dual core processor
·         Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium
·         15.6 inch Brightview HD LED display
·         500GB hard drive
·         6GB RAM
·         DVD drive (dual layer with re-writer)
·         Wi-Fi enabled
·         HDMI output
·         Warranty: 1 year
·         Webcam and digital microphone
·         Multi-card reader

As far as I’m concerned that is a nice set of stats as it allows me to do what I want as I have now seen after playing around with the computer for a little over a week.



GAMING
So far I have played World of Warcraft and Star Wars The Old Republic, I played WoW on some custom settings (who needs shadows?) and got very respectable results indeed I never felt I had any frame issues but to be perfectly honest I haven’t done many backgrounds to really test how it handles 20+ players onscreen spamming their buttons to death. The Old Republic runs well enough but it has very weird options in terms of graphic settings so I am loathe to mess with those but the game was very playable.

GENERAL
The laptop does everything else that I want it. That previous  statement also includes not running slower than molasses. I can run any videos I want and running multiple tabs or letting the virus and spyware scans run in the background no longer cause me to have to stop everything else.

There isn’t really a lot else to say though I will keep you guys informed on any issues arising from the laptop though it seems to be going well so far. So that is enough from me I hope that your computers are problem free.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

FILM REVIEW: The Legend of Chun Li

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li Street Fighter The Legend of Chun Li is a 2009 action film based on the popular Street Fighter video game series by Capcom. It stars Kristin Kreuk as Chun Li and was released on February 2009.

PLOT 
While a teenager, Chun-Li witnesses the kidnapping of her father by wealthy crime lord M. Bison. When she grows up, she goes on a quest for vengeance and becomes the famous crime-fighter of the Street Fighter universe.


WHY DID I CHOOSE IT 
I was a pretty huge Street Fighter II fan as a kid, for me it was a great leveller when me a fat kid with asthma could own the older kids and that was when they had the game to practice on and I only came over every now and then to play it. I kept up through the various versions for awhile and I even watched the Street Fighter movie with JCVD (a crime against fandom) and the short lived animated series as well as the few anime movies.

WHAT I THOUGHT 
I only heard about this movie recently somehow I managed to miss the buzz of this film when it first came out especially in the light of knowing that I didn’t miss the film versions of King of Fighters and Tekken. Quick review on those KOF burned my eyes and made me bleed from my ears, Tekken was like a C movie with ok fight choreography.

The first thing I should probably talk about is the film compared and contrasted with the Street Fighter 2 mythos/canon. Overall it works fairly well while pertaining to the Chun Li stuff, it could have happened that way as we don’t get a lot of insight into what she was doing before the spiky wrist bands and the hair buns.

The plot is passable I would say in the top third of action films, as a person who reads a lot of books I never had a time when I shouted “What the hell are you doing?” at the screen which is something I often do in my head when reading certain books. The only question I have is the theme of the movie itself which just serves to say revenge is cool. Not a lot of films generally go that way and the ones that usually do tend to be in a foreign language.


The choreography and the fight scenes are pretty impressive, yes I’ve seen better but generally that comes with a lot of effect and special camera work, this stuff is fairly straightforward with some wire work which thankfully isn’t relied upon. Kristin Kreuk definitely impresses in this role I definitely wouldn’t wanted to be an overly aggressive paparazzo on one of her bad days.

Something you should be aware of is the level of blood and gore I watched the unrated version and if you get that one be prepared for at least some minor eww moments. So if you thought Mortal Kombat was a fine example of a video game to movie conversion then this movie is worth taking a look at.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Design Work

So apparently I am a man of many talents some of which include being able to kick your ass on the N64 wrestling games but also stretch into doing a little design work every now and then. So in actuality I probably do quite a bit of design work but as most of it would be directly for past jobs I don't have access to the files anymore so below I have a few examples of stuff I have created just for fun. The first two are connected to Edition the podcast about friendship and really require you to have listened to that show extensively to get the references the third one is for a cool blog that I do some work for. Hope your weekends are interesting.





Questions? Comments? Hit the relevant button and get typing you know you'll hear back from me.

The Week That Was

Things have been reasonably busy with 2 job interviews to prepare for and attend. As of writing this I have heard from the second of the two interviews attended and it was unsuccessful. Yeah it brings you down but there isn’t a lot more that can be done other than moving onto the next attempt.

TV News

So The L.A. Complex has 2 episodes each airing this week and the next to finish out the season. I checked out this week’s offering and was blown away by them. The thing about The L.A. Complex for those of you who know it is that it can be a little downbeat and even depressing a lot of the time, the first few episodes of the first season are good evidence of this. I really hope that there will be a further season especially with some gossip that Alicia (Chelan Simmons) might be back steaming up our screens.

I am definitely looking forward to next week’s final episodes.



Haven is BACK! The first episode was a bit below par if you ask me though especially as I remember its beginning, aka the end of the previous season’s finale being very different as in Wuornos fired a shot which got removed in this episode. Other than that the idea of aliens and the ultimate reason for their appearance seemed a little weak. The rest of season trailer at the end though showed that there was some serious plot development coming

That is all for now keeping it short as hopefully there should be some major news early next week. Also look forward to a post right after this one showing some of my attempts at poster design.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Syfy and Sci-Fi Movies

So over the last few days after the death of my gaming laptop I have found myself watching a few more movies than I normally would.
quantum apocalypse Pictures, Images and Photos

Quantum Apocalypse is just one of the seemingly dozens of disaster themed movies or which I have watched a fair few. Generally Syfy-created movies are mediocre but rarely bad in my opinion they just don't have the budget to do the actual Sci-Fi stuff like with aliens you see or stuff set on alien worlds that is when the movies start to fall on the wrong side of cheesy, their disaster stuff is generally pretty good.

For me though the real reason to check it out was that it featured an appearance of one Gigi Edgley who I first saw on Farscape as Chiana. Now it may surprise you to know that I tend not to film-stalk the actors and actresses I like the most, one because even on an actor by actor basis that can become a WHOLE LOT of movies and also simply because just because I like the fan oriented image of that person doesn't mean I'll love them in every role and I am very picky on films.

Anyway before I get into THAT let me just say that the movie was pretty good held my attention and didn't do anything that made me immediately facepalm. Gigi played a rock star scientist who helps save the world, the writers made her way over the top quirky but tone it down as the film progresses, I definitely appreciated the outfits she wore.

The second movie I thought I would mention is Red Werewolf Hunter.


Felicia Day with weapons? And I'm sold seriously though I had seen this come up a few times in movie searches and when I looked at Felicia Day's IMDB page AS YOU DO. This is an OK film again but you can see its limitations like the two locations and the distinct lack of people. The plus points is Felicia and Kavan Smith from Eureka but I couldn't really recommend it in the way that I could Quantum Apocalypse.

So this is what I have been up to while trying to figure out how to get a new computer. Talk to you later.