Friday, December 26, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Wearing The Cape by Marion G. Harmon

Wearing the Cape is the first in the Wearing The Cape series written by Marion G Harmon and published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform on 10 July 2011. The ISBN is 1463539657 and I picked up a Kindle copy of the book through Amazon which can currently be picked up for free.


THE PLOT

Who wants to be a superhero? 

Hope did, but she grew out of it. Which made her superhuman breakthrough in the Ashland Bombing, just before starting her freshman year at the University of Chicago, more than a little ironic. And now she has some decisions to make. Given the code-name "Astra" and invited to join the Sentinels, Chicago’s premier super-team, will she take up the cape and mask and become a career superhero? Or will she get a handle on her new powers (super-strength has some serious drawbacks) and then get on with her life-plan? 

In a world where superheroes join unions and have agents, and the strongest and most photogenic ones become literal super celebrities, the temptation to become a cape is strong. But the price can be high—especially if you’re “outed” and lose the shield of your secret identity. Becoming a sidekick puts the decision off for awhile, but Hope’s life is further complicated when The Teatime Anarchist, the supervillain responsible for the Ashland Bombing, takes an interest in her. Apparently as Astra, Hope is supposed to save the world. Or at least a significant part of it.

WHY I BOUGHT THIS

Well it was free but the fact that it was all about superheroes and the fact that it kept popping up on my amazon suggested list as I was browsing through made me take the leap. Plus I wanted to have a few more books on my Kindle as I am still pretty new to actively using it.

WHAT I THOUGHT

An interesting idea Superheroes as part of the bureaucracy might sound a bit boring at first but it is a novel look at things especially for someone used to reading Marvel and DC. The superhumans in this world are larger than life but not on the same level as a Superman. This world is a lot more like ours with those capes just slotted in as the first line in disaster response and the military’s not so secret weapons.

The world building in this book is excellent with a series of excerpts from factual books and other sources which talks about everything from the early days of superhumans to the nature of powers.

The characters are well rounded and generally very interesting, this is an example of a book that makes it feel like you are looking at a world that always existed and was just not crafted for the story you are reading and that is something that is not always the case even in the good books.

I can’t really go into plot specifics as it is intricate but I can discuss the beginning of things in the world. In the past there was a mass event of lost time for the entire world population and when everyone recovered a select group of people had superpowers. From then till the present during life or death circumstances some people develop super powers.

While over the years that makes for a high number of super powered individuals they are still in the minority and have been made a part of society. Even without the characters just learning about that world is engrossing and I am looking forward to learning more about the world.

I would recommend this to any fans of the superhero genre who wants to see something new.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: The Calling: Endgame by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton

The Calling: Endgame is a 2014 Children’s book written by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton and published by Harper Collins Children Books. It was released on 7 October 2014 and its ISBN is 9780062332585.

THE PLOT

Twelve thousand years ago, they came. They descended from the sky amid smoke and fire, and created humanity and gave us rules to live by. They needed gold and they built our earliest civilizations to mine it for them. When they had what they needed, they left. But before they left, they told us someday they would come back, and when they did, a game would be played. A game that would determine our future.

This is Endgame.

For ten thousand years the lines have existed in secret. The 12 original lines of humanity. Each had to have a Player prepared at all times. They have trained generation after generation after generation. In weapons, languages, history, tactics, disguise assassination. Together the players are everything: strong, kind, ruthless, loyal, smart, stupid, ugly, lustful, mean, fickle, beautiful, calculating, lazy, exuberant, weak. They are good and evil. Like you. Like all.



This is Endgame.

When the game starts, the players will have to find three keys. The keys are somewhere on earth. The only rule of their Endgame is that there are no rules. Whoever finds the keys first wins the game. Endgame: The Calling is about the hunt for the first key. And just as it tells the story of the hunt for a hidden key, written into the book is a puzzle. It invites readers to play their own Endgame and to try to solve the puzzle. Whoever does will open a case filled with gold. Alongside the puzzle will be a revolutionary mobile game built by Google’s Niantic Labs that will allow you to play a real-world version of Endgame where you can join one of the lines and do battle with people around you.

Will exuberance beat strength? Stupidity top kindness? Laziness thwart beauty? Will the winner be good or evil? There is only one way to find out.

Play.
Survive.
Solve.
People of Earth.
Endgame has begun.

WHY I BOUGHT IT

I bought it after I got an advanced sample from NetGalley which I have recently tried to get into more. Who knew a Kindle would come in handy. The description of the book had me intrigued and by the time I got through the sample I knew I had to have the full version to see what happened, well what happened at first as it is a series and not a standalone book.

WHAT I THOUGHT

I am not sure whether this is YA or Children’s though some of the content and the violence involved seems to push it over into YA. Still what matters is the content of the book and in this case it is almost entirely great compelling stuff.

This feels a bit like a disaster movie as it does take quite a few tropes from that genre, the multiple locations and multiple main characters, the book starts off with 12 and then brings in a few more so we get to see a variety of outlooks and takes on all things Endgame which for me just makes things even more fun.


I am not going to talk about the Players I don’t want to spoil it for you. If you are interested in getting a better idea I think you can still access the Sampler on NetGalley so check it out if you want a taste. I love the exotic locations and the bits of historical notes thrown in there, it motivates me to at least do the occasional Wikipedia or Google search to see which part of the legends and history mentioned are real and which are just added in there to fit in with the mythology of the series.

The characters are in a lot of ways superhuman in the way that is just about believable if you factor in the trained from birth thing and the fact that the writer does take pains to ensure that the characters tend to be specialists and not just capable of any and everything and the fact that preparation is a big part of why they are so formidable. There is also that aspect of them being underestimated by the world at large due to their age.


The lore is rich and interesting and doesn’t bog down the plot which can often happen in the first of a series. I can’t mention this book without the crazy puzzle based competition that is being used to promote it where through clues and puzzles contained within the books people can be lead on a global search whose prize is lots of gold (I kid you not).


I would recommend The Calling for fans of adventure and ensemble casts. The characters are larger than life but not ridiculous and the story is interesting and left me hungry for the next instalment of the series. Feel free to share your thoughts about The Calling below.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

CWP: The Second Week

So thank you for joining me on my journey to nowhere let’s get to it on Mondays I go to Seetec for a three and a half hour session of pointlessness. But looking for work is not pointless they scream of course not BUT trying to use the outdated and ridiculously restrictive computers. They are stuck on Internet Explorer 10 which doesn’t like a lot of recruitment websites as a rule. Add to that the fact that you can’t right click which you think is a small thing but is huge when you start thinking about things like wanting to right click and open a few sites you found on a job board. Plus as it will be clear later you have to be very careful about having your personal documents of any kind on a Seetec system (more on this later). To sum it up though if I compared my time spent on applying for a job at Seetec to applying to one at one I would say that it easily takes 2.5 times longer to do most applications at Seetec and that is when the rest of the people there are behaving and not kicking off.


I made it a point after the joke of my first week of CWP to talk to Seetec about my concerns, unfortunately when I went to reception I was informed the manager was the only one who knew anything about the CWP, it seems that redundancy is a foreign concept to Seetec. Anyway I was fobbed off on an advisor who admitted the above and also told me a little about the history of CWP in the area. There was a man with the job of going around the area I’m thinking county wide or further and sought out work placements for CWP but he left months ago and there hasn’t been a proper staff replacement. The Seetec Manager is managing the placements available for my town it seems and there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of them.

I told the advisor of my issues that the place where I work is a Learning Centre with Maths, IT and English courses and a large part of my role there was helping students which I felt very uncomfortable with. I am not a teacher nor do I have any relevant experience in that side of things, I’m a trainer but that is a very different thing and I do not have experience teaching people with learning difficulties or other issues, during that first week I felt less thrown in the deep end then shoved off a cliff to be perfectly honest.

The advisor’s answer was to call them up and talk to them about it for a bit then without warning putting me on the spot handing the phone over to me where I was asked by one of the staff there if it my concerns meant that I did not want any involvement with the students. I haven’t seen a better stitch up since I used to watch ER. In theory I could say yes I want no involvement in dealing with the learners but that sounds a lot like a reason for a sanction for not partaking in a MAN and a lot of you out there know how hard it is to fight something like that and more importantly how expensive. So I felt I had no choice but to equivocate and just request less time dealing with students and more admin duties.

To you an idea of the centre it is open plan with three workstations for the members of staff; twenty workstations for learners arranged in clusters of four; a small closet they choose to call a meeting room and a downstairs classroom for group sessions. There is no way that their promises of less dealing with students were going to be kept to but I wasn’t really left with a viable alternative.

I have to say that the teaching of the learners isn’t the only problem. The place is a hot mess, the core staff of three have some of the worst communication skills I have ever seen but at the top of it the manager is just unbelievable. The first thing that springs to mind is her habit of speaking to you while not looking at you which to me is just disrespectful, then she has a habit of asking you to do something through someone else like “Can John go and grab the wallets from the shelf” instead of just turning to John and asking. The other thing is her complete inability to listen, the amount of times I have been given a task, done it, moved on to another task only for her to raise her voice and ask why her task hasn’t been done is infuriating I have no idea how she managed to get that position. More to the point I have no idea why people like this are working and I’m kicking and screaming just to get an interview.

The other point during my talk with the advisor was that Seetec shared my CV without my consent and furthermore when they should not have had access to it in the first place. The advisor tried to badger me saying “Yes we have the right” even after I explained the data waiver. It was only after he said “there was a thing you signed at the beginning” and my answer of “No I did not sign that” that it seemed to finally sink in for him.

That issue with the whole ignoring of my data protection had to be passed on for the manager to deal with so with my issues with the placement outstanding it was agreed that I would come into Seetec first thing in Tuesday morning to discuss it with the manager. I did not hold out much hope for anything real to come out of it.

Next morning I came in and went into the manager’s office at Seetec, “You have some issues with your placement?”

“Yes and other things, the advisor recorded them on the system” she then had to leave to talk to the advisor so that she could find out where the notes were as I refused to go over everything from the day before when there was a record, apparently they don’t believe in emailing each other or doing a morning meeting.

So she came back and we discussed the issues and basically her line was “I don’t want you to end up in a charity store” well neither do I, I also want the Jobcentre to honour their letter saying that they would give me an appointment to properly hear my appeal against being sent on the CWP in the first place which I sent 4 weeks ago. Anyway the long and the short of it is I went back to the placement after Seetec in case you were wondering and nothing had changed they didn’t even know I was coming in that day despite me having said so on the phone while at Seetec not an hour before because they don’t talk to each other.

And before I sign off from this rather large post I should talk about the response to my complaint about Seetec sharing my CV, the manager says that she only passed it on to Seetec Colchester as if that was some amazing loophole in the system, I then made it clear that I had a copy of my incorrect CV directly from the placement itself and it didn’t get there without first being sent by Seetec. I then went on to tell them how they SHOULD have dealt with it which is contact me when they found a prospective placement and get me to send out my CV. I got an apology out of the manager but don’t blame me for being wholly unimpressed considering the fact that they are breaking a law and the fact that they have done it before to me. Those are facts added to my awful experiences with them in the past which you can get some idea of from searching on the blog for Seetec.

So as it stands I am stuck at this place with no real training being offered, no skills to improve my CV and very little chance of not being made to serve my 6 month sentence for being guilty of being unemployed. The last chance is with the Jobcentre who sent me on the course but by the sound of the letter that they sent me apologising for the lack of a response it sounds more like they will eventually invite me in once they have invented a “proper” reason to have sent me on CWP instead of the BS non-response given by my jobcentre advisor.


Sorry for making you wade through all of that.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

GAMING POST: Do You Drive Stick?



Some of you fine, smart and incredibly attractive readers might remember that I spend a bit of time playing Ultra Street Fighter IV on my PS3 as training to try and participate in Tournaments.

Well I found a local tournament which is nice and this lunch time I headed to the venue and invested £2.50 on a little research and to see how using a Fight stick feels. The Fight Stick that I used was the Mad Catz Fight Stick Tournament Edition.


Foolishly jumping in to Blanka’s Electricity Ultra would have been less jarring.


I WAS NOT PREPARED.
In my defence the last time I used any Fight Stick style controllers in anger with any modicum of skill was before the birth of Hit Girl. Think about that for a second, let it sink in… no stop thinking about Chloe Grace Moretz I was just making a point, this is serious business people.



Anyway switching from pad to Fight Stick is hard make no mistake shoryuken forums says it should take 2/3 months to switchover from a pad and I think that is probably right. I was  initially jumping all over the place even more than my top 1500 PS3 Juri usually does, it took me a solid five minutes before I could manage two of her fireballs in a row and then I got cocky proceeding to mess up for absolutely ages. Juri is pretty easy on the execution  but I would still put my success rate at around 10% over the course of the session.


Not something I’d want to repeat on Ranked without a few solid sessions of training. One thing I will say is that when I switched to Decapre and Chun Li things got substantially easier. Air DCM was a little trickier to pull off but quickly got easier. Charge characters SEEM easier with a Fight Stick but that’s on a 40 minute session, after a week maybe ask me again I may have changed my opinion. That’s enough from me feel free to drop a comment about changing controller types and whether or not you stuck with it and look for a report from the tournament if I manage to make it sometime during the weekend probably Sunday. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

First Day At Community Work Placement

So this is the second day of my start at my placement, I will be not be naming it here to lessen the chance of blowback. On my first day I got in early not necessarily by choice that is just the train timetable crumbles. I was the third person to get in before me were two other members of staff both of whom had no idea I was coming and were definitely not prepared for me.


Then the manager came in and things… pretty much stayed the same. I spent hours just waiting for a tour of the office. At no point did they sit me down and talk to me about what they expected me to do, they were incredibly vague.

The manager barely acknowledged me the whole time when she wanted me to do something did she come to me and explain? No she went to another member of staff in my hearing telling them what I should do it was incredibly rude and made me feel like I was worthless.


I was told that everyone would muck in on the less desirable tasks and then got a taste of those tasks when I was taking some documents downstairs to a classroom got handed the manager’s glass of water to take down with me. Maybe I made too much of it but it just felt wrong.

Oh and here is where we get into the rules and regulation stuff. To fully understand the import of this we need to go back to before the placement last week Monday when I was at Seetec and the Manager sprang the fact that I had a placement on me without warning. Now some of you out there have a tingle of where this is going but let me lay it out for the rest.

If you ever get sent to a Work Programme or Community Work Placement Provider or like me if you do the double because you did something unspeakable in a past life THE MOST IMPORTANT THING to remember is DO NOT SIGN the data waiver. The data waiver is this form in the case of Seetec that is at the back of the booklet you get to keep that tells you all about the wonderful things Seetec will do for you, if you read the small print you will realise that if signed will authorise Seetec to do whatever they want with your CV and personal information leaving little real comeback for you.


As far as I know you can revoke the data waiver later I think it is in the regulations but you’ll learn that the DWP and Work Programme Providers (WPPs) only ever use the rules and regulations that benefit them and do the best to hide the ones that protect you.

So I did not sign the data waiver both times I went to Seetec so that means that they cannot share my information with third parties, that is a bit legalese so you probably want an example of what a third party is, a placement for the Community Work Programme is a third party so when the Seetec Manager handed me my letter/Job Seekers’ Direction and said “the manager was very excited to have you at the placement after seeing your CV” I knew that yet again Seetec had done something very, very wrong AGAIN.

Seetec should never have shared my CV with the placement I got sent to, they broke laws in doing so, Seetec never should have kept a copy of my CV I made it clear to them on a number of occasions in WRITING that I did not consent to them holding a copy of my CV. What they should have done is got in contact with me and asked me to send my CV to the placement, of course I could have refused but wouldn’t as I find that 5 attempts at wrongful sanctions in two years is probably as much as I can take without just giving up. However it seems Seetec much like the DWP who referred me to the CWP without informing me of my write to appeal just don’t do rules.


There is more to be said next time perhaps I will write more about the actual experience of CWP and whether this placement is helping me to learn new skills or is based around my preferred job type. Got questions about something you didn’t understand then just leave a comment and I’ll get back to you if I can answer or at least try to point you in a direction that can help.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

FIRST DAY OF SENTENCE AT SEETEC

I had hoped I would never have to come back to this place after a host of bad experiences but here I was again. The first thing I was treated to was an appointment time that Seetec didn’t know about, it was actually set up for a time during their lunch period. A taste of things to come? I hope not.


As a result of the jobcentre and Seetec not being able to work out an appointment between them I was treated to an induction by the manager who I have an outstanding complaint against, so that was fun. Still she treated me with respect and didn’t do anything wrong and explained how Community Work Placement works which I’m not going into as you probably already know having come to this.

There isn’t much in the way of placements for administration and I’ve been told that if they can’t find me a placement then I will get placed in another industry.

I had an interesting talk with one of the advisors at Seetec who always treated me well who was surprised that I got sent on CWP as he knows I am ready to work and also knows how much work I’ve put on things like getting interviews. He admitted to me that it was likely because I had educated myself on what I SHOULD expect from the Jobcentre. Also because I challenged him on the punitive Claimant Commitments they are largely a tool to sanction people right off the unemployment figures.

I still have a challenge to the referral to Community Work Placement in with the Jobcentre Plus Manager so we will see what happens. For now I will follow the rules and not keep up a further fuss and trust in the system. Trust BUT Verify.


For all others out there struggling in the same way, if you are someone who was recently made unemployed or if you have a good employment record you should consider challenging the CWP referral especially if like me you have already had a volunteer position set up.

Monday, November 3, 2014

#MorganvilleLive - Rewatch Marathon For Morganville: The Series

Love Morganville?


Been too busy to check out Morganville The Series over at Geek & Sundry?

How would you like a chance to watch the show alongside author Rachel Caine?


How would you like to hear from Claire (Lindsay Seidel) and Shane (Jordan Taylor Farris) and send them your questions as you rewatch all six episodes?

On Monday November 3 at 11am Pacific Standard Time 7pm Greenwich Mean Time the rewatch will begin with the two actors and you get to follow along and participate in the discussion using the hashtag #MorganvilleLive. 


Not to sound like a cheesy late night informercial BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE one lucky fan who takes part will win a live Skype session with Amber Benson who plays Amelie in Morganville: The Series but is well known for her role as Tara on Buffy The Vampire Slayer. The giveaway goes live November 3 11am PST, 7pm GMT.


You can learn about all things Morganville the show and the books through the links below. I hope I will see you there for #MorganvilleLive.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

MORGANVILLE THE SERIES Behind The Scenes Exclusives

Have you been following Morganville The Series? Have you been enjoying #Halloweek on Geek and Sundry? Need more Morganville check out these Exclusive images.

Morganville had its World Exclusive Premiere at London Comic Con at MCM, I was lucky enough to be there and it was a blast to hear from author Rachel Caine and the Cast of the show. Robert Picardo was on particular form if there is YouTube footage out there it is worth watching.

A quick guide to Morganville Vampires by yours truly

Maybe you’re a fan of the Morganville Vampires series of books and you haven’t yet taken the leap to see if the series captures the heart and soul of that amazing series. Perhaps you like all things Vampires but haven’t yet read the books either way I can’t recommend the series enough so much that I am just going to put the first two episodes here.





Morganville: The Series – The show stars fan favorites Robert Picardo as Oliver (Star Trek: Voyager) and Amber Benson (Buffy The Vampire Slayer) as Amelie, as well as Lindsay Seidel (Claire), Jordan Taylor Farris (Shane), Haileigh Todd (Eve), Ben Easter (Michael), Nikki Donley (Hannah), Afomia Hailemeskel (Monica), Jessi Mechler (Gina), Taylor Murphy (Jennifer), Gregory Connors (Brandon) and Chase Ryan Jeffery (Myrnin). It is directed by Blake Calhoun, known for his award-winning and groundbreaking digital series Pink and Continuum, the show was filmed on location in Texas on a Blackmagic camera.

So you can experience in a similar way to how I did except without that female Saiyan warrior sat in the row in front of you.

After you make it through those make sure to take a longer look at the Geek & Sundry Channel on YouTube there is so much more awesome contained within I particularly recommend Caper.
Anyway I have promised you exclusive content so behold.

First we have Jessi Mechler (Gina) waiting for her shoot in Chemistry class

Second Susanna Gibbs and Jordan Farris (Shane) on set

So that's it from me just to remind you that Morganville The Series is the direct result of its fans and an incredible campaign run by Rachel Caine on Kickstarter which was then matched by Geek & Sundry. No big Hollywood studios just real fans with a passion for a series they have been enjoying for 8 years wanting to see it come to life onscreen. If you'd like to help make sure to Tweet out the new episodes when you watch them and keep an eye on the Morganville The Series and Rachel and tell them and Geek and Sundry what you think of the show so far.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Sentenced To Six Months - For Being Unemployed

So it happened for the terrible crime of not being able to find a job in one of the most deprived areas in the UK I have been sentenced to 6 months of unpaid labour which is longer than you can be sentenced for committing an actual crime. It came out of the blue in my second meeting and hit me for a loop.

Apparently three years admin experience
is not good enough

Now I’m stressing out wondering how I am going to find time for actually looking for work and also how I am going to avoid getting more spurious sanctions from Seetec who manage the CWP programme. They have already put me up for 3 or 4 sanctions that I managed to get overturned in the end. My relationship with them can be best described as poor as I am currently waiting for the result of a complaint I escalated up to OIA.

So now I spend yet another series of nights writing letters to complain about my treatment by the DWP instead of researching new places to look for work or finishing off an online application. This is a short post because honestly I am too mad to trust myself to write more. Time after time I have to overcome the obstacles put in place by the DWP and the WPP and CWP organisations trying to profit from my misfortune.


I have read that in a lot of cases people get referred to Community Work Placement after challenging their advisors which it could be argued I did when I refused to sign the Claimant Commitment without having the chance to look at it in detail or maybe when I didn’t hand over my CV. That is where things have got to people who exercise their rights or simply the rules and guidelines of being a Job Seeker are punished and transferred away to be someone else’s problem. So if you’re reading this don’t believe the government and media hype about the unemployed being lazy you wouldn’t believe how much strength it truly takes to be treated like this and not snap.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

PERSONAL BLOG: Claimant Commitmentt Time/First JCP Since WP

On Monday of this week I had my first proper advisor appointment at Jobcentre Plus. To give you some idea of the sort of anxiety this caused I was up there in the JCP some 20 minutes early to calm myself down and steel myself for the various inescapable arguments. The Claimant Commitment stuff had not been done beforehand because amazingly they wanted us to blind sign it without any negotiation.


Once we got started I realised that this wasn’t going to be all that easier than dealing with advisers at the Work Programme. There is still a lot of being treated like a child and not a person no looking at things for instance I had to correct something about my CV even though he had it a copy of it right there that he could look at.

Things got interesting when the Claimant Commitment came up for ‘negotiation’ I put those quotes because he wasn’t interested in any negotiation more intimidation but to be fair I have come up against those who have been worse both in the JCP on while on the Work Programme.

Basically to cut a long back and forth short I have just spent the last few days working on my challenge to the Claimant Commitment which I will be handing in next week. Not sure if it is going to result in them stopping my benefits so I am cutting back on everything and hoping to weather any storm.

I’ve written a letter challenging aspects of the Claimant Commitment this is the summary that I want agreed. If you want some help with the letter you can drop me a comment and we’ll sort something out but I recommend unemployment movement and/or JSSA (Job Seekers Sanction Advice) they have helped me countless times.


HOW OFTEN
I will use jobsites and employer websites to find and apply for jobs I can do.
WEEKLY
Suggestion 3-4 times per week
I will ensure I have an up to date CV that I can tailor for jobs I apply for.
ONGOING
I will respond promptly to contacts and notifications from employers and jobsites
DAILY


I’m not sure if I am going to get a sanction but hopefully I will find out on my first JCP Signing Monday and/or my next proper appointment on Wednesday I of course will keep you posted.

If you're having Work Programme or JCP feel free to talk in generalities in the comments ideally not using your real name because you're only a Google away from getting into trouble but the community is here to help.

MORGANVILLE THE SERIES - WORLD PREMIERE

This weekend Rachel Caine and Geek & Sundry will be presenting the World Premiere of Morganville: The Web Series based on the Best Selling YA book series Morganville Vampires at London Comic Con.


Despite recent posts of a more sombre nature this Blog is happiest when I’m writing about cool books and cool shows so imagine how happy I get when the two combine and it works out. This weekend over on this side of the Atlantic down in London Town we have London Comic Con, I don’t have the time or the proper knowledge to tell you everything that is going down there but one thing I am really interested in is the World Premiere of Morganville Vampires: The Series.


I’ve been a fan of this ever since I randomly saw a post about it on another books forum and thought “a town run by vampires, colour me INTRIGUED” so a trip to a well known online store and some listening later (I can’t recommend the first four audiobooks enough) and I knew I would be a fan till the end which was great because I had a lot of books to get caught up on.


What is Morganville Vampires about well I would tell you it is about a super smart and somewhat sheltered but brilliant young girl scared out of her dorms who stumbles on the secret her college town is hiding when she moves into the town proper. It is run by Vampires.


With the help of her three friends Claire Danvers struggles to survive and grows up in ways she couldn’t imagine as she delves into the secrets of Morganville. It has crazy science, horror, friendship and some of the best dialogue I have read in a YA novel.


I freely admit I was late to the series after Harry Potter, Twilight and Alex Cross reminded me that reading was awesome. I had a look and this was the first time I properly mentioned Morganville Vampires in my blog.

To give you some idea of my love of all things Morganville, Texas I have linked some reviews I posted on my blog.









You can find out about Rachel Caine’s appearance along with some of the cast from the show here


Well enough waffling from me check out the Trailer below then if you can’t get to Comic Con make sure to check it out on its Geek & Sundry Premiere on 27th October.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Work Programme Returners

At my last monthly Seetec appointment I was given an appointment for the jobcentre about a month or so in the future. I was told it was a small group session in a small sort of mini-office where us Work Programme types used to go to sign.


I arrived a little early and was let in at 9:00am which was the time of the appointment. There were five of us in the group meeting with an advisor who identified himself of one of a group of three advisors who deal with us Ex-WP people.

The first thing he did was talk about what we could expect the different options for what we might be expected to do but you guys know that daily signings, various courses and/or 30 hours a week Community Placements which is controlled by Seetec FYI.

After this the next thing was that the advisor handed us all Claimant Commitments and asked us to look over them and after assuring us that we could negotiate it asked us all to sign them. I said I was not happy to sign at that time and you could tell the advisor was less than pleased but after a while I think he realised that I wasn’t going to budge so told me to take it away for the first proper appointment. He also said something about legally I have to have a signed CC before my first appointment so maybe he might be setting me up for a wrongful sanction.


The Claimant Commitment also has the Jobseeker Profile on the back of it but makes it clear that it is not part of the CC. Then we were told that it was mandatory to go to this site www.s2sacademy.com and do one of the modules. I can’t put into words how condescending this site is, it reminded me of some of those videos from the 90s that Seetec using on their Elvis site.

Then we went on to talk about My Work Plan. There was a heavy move almost badgering to try and get us to use Universal Job Match. Then he went on to talk about the fact that steps were no longer acceptable which didn’t make a lot of sense but served to try and scare the crap out of us about how much time we spend job searching.

Oh we got taken on a tour of the Jobcentre’s computers and how to use them which requires use of our emails to sign on mention of whether not they record everything we do there also of interest is the fact there are no phones at the Jobcentre now so if you want to call someone and don’t have credit you’re shit out of luck, the advisor saying “well everything is online now”.


The last thing of interest was being told to bring in my CV which I have no problem with but I will not be leaving them with a copy after all the rubbish I went through at Seetec. Hope this helps for people coming up to the end of his sentence on Work Programme.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Ultra Street Fighter IV Training

So I have been playing Ultra Street Fighter IV and trying to get to grips with the changes from Arcade Edition. I am also trying to learn some new characters, my current main is Juri. My aim is to play like this.



Obviously I am nowhere near this level but I am training and slowly getting better. I play on the PS3 which posed some problems at first with that official controller. So I did some research and managed to find a half decent alternative for a pretty low price.

It does take some configuring to use it properly and it took me ages to figure it out because I haven’t had a PS3 for all that long. The secret to getting the Sega Saturn USB controller to work on Ultra Street Fighter IV is to configure it as the first controller and obviously to have a proper PS3 controller of some description (one with a PS button) handy to navigate.


The result is a controller a heck of a lot cheaper than a £100 joystick. It is kind of scary though to make use of a copy of a control pad I used more than 15 years ago. A control pad that was a copy of an earlier pad that is 20 years old (give me a second so I can go cry).

(UPDATE) Yep it is broke. It always felt a bit flimsy but not 3 months flimsy. Nevermind I picked up an adaptor which is supposed to be lag free so I can use my old Sega Saturn controllers (I have like 3 or so) should be here by next week.


Anyway I have a couple of videos of me playing below.




Juri VS Poison



Juri VS Evil Ryu

You can find me training most likely in the evenings on PSN USFIV (UK Time) searching for opponents who are not lagging like hell. So far my best rank is D+ though I am not entirely sure how ranking and battle points work.

What games are you playing online? Yes even you COD types can talk about how awesome you are should you feel it necessary.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Personal Blog: FAULTY GOODS, GOT MY MONEY BACK!!!

A while ago I told you about a Chinese mobile phone of mine that developed a fault and the fact that the Amazon Marketplace business (WMicroUK) who sold it to me decided not to honour the 1 year warranty that I purchased it with ignoring my emails and any interventions from the Amazon team.

The Phone itself was pretty solid it just developed a touch screen fault which I expect is reasonably common.

Well after about 3 months I finally just got the confirmation through from the credit card company telling me that they accepted the chargeback and will be refunding the payment. Yeah that is a heck of a long time but for someone on a very tight budget the outlay for the phone (£130) was a lot of money even though in theory it would be a saving over most contracts if it had lasted a year.

If you’re in a similar position having bought something from Ebay, Amazon or other online retailers you need to know your rights. An electronic device is expected to have a certain life before developing faults my phone had only lasted 7 months and it is reasonably that a phone should 1 if not 2 years.


I used these links to help me out and eventually went with the chargeback option hope this helps someone.



You should also have a look at Section 75 which can help.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Personal Blog: HALT IN THE NAME OF THE LAW

So I got stopped by the police today which certainly hasn't happened in quite some time. So to fill in the details it happened just after 10 in the morning while I was on my way to an appointment when these two guys stopped me, I don’t live in the nicest place so I was wondering if this whole situation was going to go south but the men identified themselves as police officers (plain clothed seemed weird but whatever).


They had a lot of questions including:
·         Where are you going (remember it is 10 in the morning)
·         Where are you coming from?
·         Where do you live?
·         How long have you lived there?
·         Do you have documents on you to prove you live there?

I felt that this was more than a lot of prying especially as they hadn’t given me a reason to stop me and didn’t stop anyone else who passed while we were talking. They also treated me like a threat all the way through speaking to me with one in front of me and one off to my side so I could not see both men at once. When I opened my messenger bag to get my notepad to take their details the guy in front of me moved closer like I was going for a weapon or something.

To be honest I had no plans on giving them any evidence (bills etc.) to show my home that speaks way too much of the “Papers please” nonsense that is best left out of any country claiming to be democratic and free but when I pulled out my notepad there was a prescription slip in it that they pretty much grabbed it off me. However, that was not enough for them and they called in my details to have them checked out centrally. After that went through they finally let me go on my way. No reason given for stopping me and no receipt for the questioning (someone reminded me that I really should have asked for one of those).

In case you ever get stopped by the police I added a couple of links below that you might want to read through. Oh and I did make a complaint not sure if it will go anywhere but you have to register your grievance when people do something you think is wrong. That's all from me.





Sunday, September 21, 2014

I WANT TO BE THE VERY BEST...

Well maybe not the very best but perhaps a contender. What am I talking about? Well as you might know I got a PS3 a little more than a year ago and have not had much use out of it after I finished Sleeping Dogs (which was EXCELLENT) so I had been looking for a game I could really get into. I decided to back to my formative gaming years and picked up Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition. I figured I was good enough at Street Fighter Alpha but I was not prepared for all the changes and updates over those years.


I’ve also been thinking a lot about starting a YouTube channel or in reality adding videos to one of the channels that I already have. Unfortunately if I wanted to make gameplay videos like a lot of people out there I found it wasn’t going to be cheap so I’ve mostly been looking at game capture devices but I am still doing my research to see which is worth the cost of investment.


For now though I have been playing SSFIV: AE (with a standard PS3 controller – NIGHTMARE) and trying to get a good understanding of one or two characters. Obviously for those that follow the community Ultra Street Fighter IV is the current game so I am looking to pick that up next week I especially need it because I want to see if I can ‘Main’ one of the new characters.


I’ve been researching the fighting game scene and it is a little complex much like the game itself on first glance I hope to head to a tournament in the next month to get an idea of how things are. At the very least it seems like I’ll have to research a multi-platform joypad or fighting stick as the tournaments tend to be X-BOX only.


Anyway if you were wondering which character I started training with first then the pictures should tell you a story. I hope to go for at least three characters to be comfortable with, in say a couple of months and I’ll probably post up my gamer tag after I do some security research on that, nothing wrong with paranoia.


So what fighting games do you play? Or perhaps used to play? Answer in the comments.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Personal Blog: Changes Incoming

I only have four weeks left on the Work Programme before being bounced back to the Job Centre indeed probably in two weeks time I'll get a date for my return interview. A few months ago this would probably be a cause for celebration given the problems I've had with Seetec the various sanctions, the bullying and the general uselessness of the whole experience. Now though I wonder if it is going to be a case out of out of the frying pan and into the fire.


As I finish writing up the details of this month's job search for my likely final Seetec Monthly 1-2-1 I wonder what will be happening in a few months time especially regarding Universal Job Match. I read so many stories of people either being forced to give access to the Jobcentre Staff or just assuming they had to only to result in almost immediate sanction.

As things stand for now I have not given access to my UJM account indeed I do not use it that site is full of scams and is very badly put together there are much better options out there just do a little searching. For me Indeed works once you get to grips with its filters it actually becomes far less rubbish than it first appears. 


I'm lucky in that most of the jobs I go for can be found on general purpose job search sites like Totaljobs, CV Library and the rest. So I will be covering my experiences at the Jobcentre just to keep people in the know and to show them how things can go down so hopefully when it is their turn they will be better prepared.

I will be going in there with the means to record conversations as well as taking notes by hand. You have to stand up for yourself against advisors or they will walk all over you or more likely sanction you into destitution.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Sanction Update

If you’re a keen reader of this blog firstly I thank you and then I say that you’ll remember my recent sanction which I talked about here:


This can be described as an update but I’m afraid all the updated actions will be from my side as you the reader may know or suspect that the DWP bureaucracy moves slower than molasses especially when they have your money.


Since the sanction I have sent out a request for a written statement of reasons which I finally got and I did what is called a Subject Access Request which means they have to send me documents around the sanction, their reasons and such which I intend to use to form the basis of another complaint against the DWP.
If you were wondering about my complaint against SEETEC then according to ICE that investigation is ongoing after they asked me for some more evidence a couple months ago with no real timeline on a decision.

Back to the DWP and the written statement of reasons basically put the reason for my sanction down to not having evidence of the unannounced visit to install my phone line. Maybe you think they have a point but what advisers have said to me is that in a situation like this where I had requested of the visit is that the DWP should have agreed to allow for more time for the proof to arrive instead of sanctioning me.

Sounds like Maladministration to me so I’ll be writing up a complaint about that but mostly I am just going to try and chase up my sanction being overturned so it doesn’t take 3 months like last time to get the money back.


So if you’re sanctioned and it was for reasons check out the links below and don’t give up hope WHILE still being aware of the fact it is going to take months to get your money back.

Great for the detail of how to deal with sanctions

The place for discussion for all things Job Centre
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...