Book One: Chapter One

The Final Chapters


Book One: Chapter One


Mary was tired. She wanted to be flying back home. She wanted to be glued into a movie. And most of all, she wanted out of the heat.

The driver was giving her some respite from the afternoon furnace with his aircon, on full blast. An icy-dry wind that would only make the outside's heat more of an ordeal.

She had been in Sri Lanka and Tamil Elan for a week. It had been fun, quiet, interesting.... memorable moments and stretched expanses of hotel room boredom, all paid for by the BBC. The peace that had settled after the secession still had its hidden pockets of strife and conflict. It was these skirmishes and explosions of tension that Mary was reporting on.

On her right the Indian Ocean lapped away at modern bungalows and rickety shacks from an age no visitor could guess. Months or Decades. Aeons. She liked the fact that every kilometre she went was taking her more south than she had ever been in her life.

A message came in confirming her flight change. She knew there would not have been an issue but a confirmation was always... reassuring. More so out here in the tropics with its pumping sun and inherent unreliability. She texted a message to her husband.

Two hours south of Colombo the driver, with an accent more English then Churchill, told her the next town was Hikkaduwa. Traffic amassed, filthy spurting petrol cars and vans. Mary found herself wincing just looking at the smoke. A couple on a bike overtook, the woman hardly holding on at all as they dipped into the gaps. No helmets and no filters from the choke.

Hikkaduwa was an old tourist town that had sprawled inland and along the coast. Every space selling suits or clothes or carved elephants. Restaurants and hotels and guest houses with names like “Happy Suns” and “Waverider Lodge”. Mary had no intention of staying here but, looking at the time, it was getting less likely she would be back in the capitol, its good food and its luxury hotel.

Slower than walking pace. A constant crawling throng of people and cars and three wheelers and bikes all trying to get into the town that was building up around them.

{revise two lines above – rather confusing!}

She still had her info message pops on from her time in the north and one popped in: "During the 2004 Tsunami a Train carrying.....". She looked around but could only see trees and buildings. Mary turned her pops off, too tired to really care.

“Here miss?” Said her driver, pointing at an enclosed hotel called “Coral reef.”

“No No. The monastery please. The Temple.” She said.

“Ahhh. Temple. Buddha Temple or Hindu?” Mary confirmed she wanted to go to the Buddhist temple, smiling a fake smile. She wasn't prone to feigning smiles but sometimes, when you are tired or sad, it's the done thing.

The driver obviously had no clue where it was and stopped the car (which wasn't moving much anyways) in the middle of the street. He wound down the window. A blast of molten air rushed in and the driver shouted to a passer by on the other side of the street.

They spoke in the incomprehensible Singhalese. Mary had given up trying to use her state of the art translator on her first day in the country. She waited until the driver turned, “There are two temples, which one do you need Miss?”

“Uhhhh.” She expelled. “Hold on please.” Mary spoke into her phone and read the screen, knowing that she had the message sent to her by Sumith, the guide who had taken her into Tamil Elan. It was he who had told her that she should come and check out the boy. She read Sumith's words off the phone's screen, “Hikkaduwa Temple. It's the smaller one. NOT Udugama Temple.” The driver translated and the local pointed directions that seemed to suggest they would need to go via a route that was geometrically impossible. His arm snaking in the air like a drunken cobra.

The Sri Lankans gave each other genuine nods of farewell and off they drove. Mary, desperate for the window to be closed, lurched forward and pointed at it. The driver smiled and pressed the button. Down a side street they went, and across a railway track, and through some alley-ways that made them bump and jolt until, a couple of minutes after getting directions, they stopped.

Mary looked around and saw wide steps leading up to a walled enclosure that she knew held the temple, though she could not make out what it held.

“I will wait here for you Miss?” Asked the driver. Mary had no idea how long she would be, she didn't care about the cost of the car and so, without thinking, said “Yes, please.”

Ohhh…. the heat was hot even though the sun was drowsy! She felt her sweat glands seem to spring into action before she had even started up the steps. It was maybe thirty steps but to anyone who saw her ascend, dripping like a rag, they might have though she had scaled Adam's Peak. A monk, robed in pristine orange, was sweeping around the huge Bhodi Tree, he turned and paused, smiled, and fanned his face to acknowledge the heat.

Mary walked up to him and gave a small bow with her head, as she had been shown by her guide last week. He made the smallest of smiles and turned to sweeping the dusty sand smooth. She walked around to the shade of the tree and flipped down her phone, the message from Sumith was still there, as were the autolinks to the wikis and sites. Mary got the sweeping monks attention.

“Yes, can you help me, I need want to see the boy. Hoddi.” It was clear that he spoke not a word of English. It was also clear her pronunciation of the boy's name didn't help matters at all. But the monk knew what to do, and pointed to a building, on two levels, that occupied the corner of the temple enclosure.

She looked back at him.

“Yanna yanna,” he said, motioning with his fingers that she should go.

Mary thanked him again, a tad over-the-top in her enthusiasm, and walked towards the building.

There were some Monks sitting in the entrance hall who looked at her as she approached. They seemed embarrassed and continued whatever it was they were doing or .... not doing. Either way, the monks seemed to be doing something that involved doing not much at all, save reading or staring into space.

She slowed her pace and stepped closer… the entrance room becoming more visible. Its back wall stacked high with a wide menagerie of objects and artefacts. Broken plastic dolls, books and big old computers.

Printed portraits of monks, smiling serenely. Black and white or faded colour. As if expecting her, a monk walked from an adjoining room, stopped in the middle of the hallway paused for a tiny moment when he saw Mary. He then walked out into the sun to greet her.

He was strikingly beautiful. Maybe forty but maybe older. Perhaps younger.

“Hello.” He said, tilting his head ever so slightly. Mary bowed again, this time clasping her hands as if in prayer.

“My name is Mary Potter, I work for the BBC. I am a journalist.”

“Ahhhhh…. British Broadcasting Company. Very good...very good.” Mary felt no need to correct him. “Welcome to Sri Lanka!”

“Thanks you. You have a lovely country,” He didn't look so sure. Mary found it hard to apprehend how arrestingly gorgeous he was. She felt guilt for the way her heart fluttered over a man of such a cloth.

“Please please come in. You look hot.” He turned to a young monk and said something in Singhalese. The monk scurried off. “Have a seat.”

Mary sat in the old wicker chair and the monk, who Mary later found out was Amila, the “abbot”, sat besides her. She cut straight to the chase, “I was told that you have a young monk here who… is special.”

Amila smiled but said nothing for some time. The monk who had been sent on an errand returned with a stainless steel tray that had a plastic jug of water on it and a glass, scratched opaque by years of dusty hands holding it. Mary hadn't drunk the water here for a week but felt there was no option but to drink this. She was parched and felt the need to be ultimately polite.

The water tasted warm. Irony. It quenched her with a slight bitterness. Mary didn't think about pre-emptive antibiotics. She had no concern about spending the next week in bed in an amoebic sweat. She didn't feel like worrying. It might have been tiredness or the quiet. it might have been the monk or the monks. Whatever it was, Mary was conscious of being unusually relaxed. Aware of the moment as she sipped warm water.

After a passage of time in which nothing was said Amila sent the water monk off on another errand. His voice and manner wasn't commanding. It had an authority but not devoid of dominance. Something to a western mind was seldom scene. {Did you meen seen or serene?}

The water monk returned. A young boy following, robes flapping with each stride. Short cropped hair as black as coal. A face that seemed to have been frozen and melted myriad times, but now was made anew.

"This is the song boy."


(c) 2006 LJT, All rights reserved

Book One: Prologue

The Final Chapters

Book One: Prologue

The Book of Abraham

  1. In the first days of God there was a Light upon the World and this Light was called into Terah to yield a son.
  2. And The World made call upon the Son of Terah to be God Abraham.
  3. God Abraham was cast in the eye and knew all of face and task. And he did prosper as man.
  4. In the seventeenth year of Abraham he did take a wife and was spoken before by God to leave the plains,
  5. “Bring all sons of the land into Egypt for there will be famine” God Abraham did say.
  6. “Bring my many sons into the into the lands were the famine is past and the fruits and the sands and the seas are ripe,” God Abraham did say
  7. And Abraham did take himself and his wife and all who wished to follow.
  8. The wife of Abraham was tall and she had the eyes of shade in sun and night in day. And all who saw her did want her words.
  9. In the land of the Pharaoh Abraham did lend his wife to the ruler for one half of a year. And the Pharaoh did lay with her upon all nights and his seed was fertile. Though she did not have child.
  10. After the sixth month Abraham did came unto the Pharaoh and said he was done with his lend.
  11. On this news the Pharaoh felt sorry to lose his consort and offered Abraham much in the way of silver and sheep.
  12. “My wife is beautiful King of Egypt and I shall take her now,” he said.
  13. With many slaves and livestock he and his wife and his nephew did leave for the north of Nagev. A journey of only two months.
  14. The Pharaoh did send extra grain in gratitude, carried by camel northwards.
  15. For less than three years Abraham traded in sheep and in slaves.
  16. When the Perizite traders would barter Abraham always found the greatest price in his favour. Abraham would brag and boast that he could trade a young slave for an old cow, with any man, such was his face.
  17. With his wealth he would call out messengers into all lands and they would say,

    "I am Abraham listener of God
    I have times to say what God does say.
    I am Abraham and my slave is the Many."
  18. Many people would come and bring grain and palms and the lands of Nagev and Bethel did bloat. Dances and handmaidens were plenty around the villages of the valley. Ever told, in the growth of riches was the growth of conflict.
  19. Abraham and is nephew would charge the division and they would take this charge upon the Many. In the summer they would take all into the caves and in the winter they would drive their tents around the valleys and groves.
  20. Always they had followers who thought them great.
  21. By the time God Abraham had been called a Prince there was fighting within his lands.
  22. This strife was in heart between the slaves and it did not subdue. Daily it was fierce and blood was spilled every morning for many seasons.
  23. Abraham and his nephew discussed this also each day. And when it was so that the land became threatened from inside its valleys, Abraham said to his nephew,
  24. "Yours are too many and mine are many times more. We cannot keep in the valleys or share the same tents any more, nephew. We are brothers and we must not fight or have our slaves quarrel, such there is no other way."
  25. The nephew was angry that it would be his kingdom that must leave, but such was the calm of Abraham that clear thoughts were placed before him.
  26. In that parting was to be a Great Secret.
  27. Abraham demanded that the tent was empty save for him and his brother. And then he demanded that all the tents in the valley were emptied and the slaves and the herdsmen and the wives and the children made pace.
  28. “Ride to the Ridge of Gazikern and wait there until you see fresh smoke from this place,” he did say.
  29. When Abraham saw the Many on the Ridge it was the day hence, for the sun was lighting them from the East.
  30. And then he said unto his brother a secret
  31. Abraham did make fire of the tent and remained as it burned. And his nephew did walk to his people and he said to them,
  32. "My people and my slaves. We will not walk further into the valley with My Uncle’s people. We will walk East over the Ridge and thence we will pass through Jordan. We will not stop until we find a land that can succour us and our livestock. We must say goodbye to those who have travelled with us from here to Egypt and then returned."
  33. And so there was a divide and only the peoples of God Abraham did return to the Valley.
  34. When Abraham spoke again to his flock he spoke of how the riches and the fertility of the land was now theirs to milk and to husband.
  35. There would be no quarrel, and all strife would be blown away from the setting sun, to land upon the departed.
  36. And where the tent still smoked Abraham did have an altar built, the width three men and the length of a wagon and the height of a calf.
  37. Before this altar Abraham had his people amass and he spoke unto them,
  38. "My people and my slaves, we have been handed this land by God and He will make it rich. And to the South that land is ours. And to the North that land is ours and to the West, past the sea, that land is ours. And we shall plant and herd and become as the dust is in the desert."
  39. And the people were happy with Abraham’s state. And then God Abraham did say,
  40. "My people and my slaves, others may fight about us and I will calm them. Others may feel hate for our riches and I will calm them towards us. I will send a message to the Kings of Shinar, Alam and Gwoim that any metal against us shall divert our riches to destroy. And deceit amidst these tents shall divert our riches to destroy.”
  41. And he did pick Yebel and Isla and Usler, brother of Isla, and sent them with this message and enough silver to cover a grain basket each.
  42. After more than ten years Yebel ran into the fort of Abraham in Habran, for that is where he had lived for such years.
  43. Yebel did not greet Abraham with hands such was his urgency. Yebel spoke how Anraphel master-king of Shina has struck the gardens of his departed nephew with more armies than all the mounts of Sodom.
  44. Abraham had disbelief at the messenger Yebel and he sent him to walk South into the desert to die.
  45. The wife of Abraham wept and asked of her husband why he sent Yebel into the sun where he would die. And Abraham spoke to his wife in front of all:
  46. "Yebel is a deceiver sent by the Cities of the Plain. I know this because my nephew is far past Jordan and he is well."
  47. “He has kingdom and riches and no quarrel inside,” Abraham said.
  48. And all were calmed by the words of Abraham. All who listened knew that God must burn the Cities of the Plain into ash for their arrogance.
  49. Abraham did seed no son with his wife and so he did lay with Hagar who was a new gift from the Pharaoh. With Hagar his seed was ripe.
  50. Hagar had no blood for many weeks and hence she knew that she was with the child of Abraham. And Abraham did say to Hagar,
  51. “Rest in the grove of Weq until you have born. And then bring me what you have born, if it is a son. I shall call him Yismal, for I have called God into him.”
  52. “And if it is a girl child then bring her not to me but take her to your mother so she can watch over her,” Abraham did say.
  53. When the child Yismal had no longer need to suckle, Hagar returned and said to her master,
  54. "Master here is your first son, and he is called Yismal."
  55. Abraham took his son and said his name to the sand and to the sky and he knew that his son had his Tone. For with Tone does speak Tone and with Tone does see Tone.
  56. Hagar was happy that her master had found joy and Abraham did send to her a hundred slaves and three thousands of sheep and cattle to take with her to Egypt. And he did send word to his friend the Pharoah that the mother of his first born must be freed.
  57. And so Hagar did leave and Abraham renamed his wife Sarah so that she could be mother of Yismal.
  58. All had adoration for Yismal with deepness for he was calm and had the Tone of his seed.
  59. Sarah was a mother to her husband’s son but she felt grief that she had not born. And Abraham did call on God to end the grief of Sarah.
  60. When Sarah was aged beyond other mothers she bore Abraham a new son and a daughter and the son's name was Isaac and he as Yismal had the seed of Abraham.
  61. Sarah, the wife of Abraham, did say to Abraham that now he had a son of wife and he had a son first born there was choice for his estate and nation.
  62. And Yismal and Isaac did talk with their Father but not his wife upon this matter.
  63. For two nights and as many days they did speak of this. And when all was agreed Abraham did say to his sons,
  64. "You share what I share and my Father gave me. This is Few over Many and it is our Tone that leads.” And he did take a knife in his hand.
  65. “And if I must choose which of you to lead by this blade then I could not choose my first born and I could not choose my wife-born. For either I choose would say in my head 'not me but the other'."
  66. And they listened to their Father.
  67. "And if my wife asks Isaac, her son, to love me more, then my first born will say into her head, 'not he but the other' and Sarah will listen and agree."
  68. And they agreed with their Father.
  69. "And so we must always stay as one but in the eyes of my wife and the ears of the slaves Isaac will be my first born. And in the eyes of my wife and the ears of the slaves Yismal will be lost. For Yismal shall take half of the kingdom and move in one direction,” Abraham did say.
  70. “And this kingdom will be in quarrel, but beneath all will be calm,” God Abraham did say.
  71. “And the kingdoms of Isaac and Yismal will be in quarrel, but beneath all will prosper,” God Abraham did say.
  72. And then he did tell his sons the Great Secret he told his nephew and all was made as the stone and as the dust.
  73. Yismal did take his sheep and his slaves West, after kissing his half brother and his Father.
  74. Prince Abraham took others for his seed such was his desire to pass onwards seed. And he did marry Ketura who was the daughter of his brother and she bore him six sons.
  75. Only one of those who shared his blood with Ketura also shared his seed and Tone. This son he sent East to his nephew who he knew was still alive.
  76. To the other sons he gave riches save for Ishbak who he had slain by camel-tear for the reason that he had jealousy over Isaac.
  77. When it was time to bury Abraham he had lived six score years.
  78. Isaac, who had taken his kingdom in all and everything, said to the million at Machpelah,
  79. "Today I bury my Father alone. But my brother is with us from the East and he sends his sorrows to me and I send mine to him.”
  80. “And we say this, O Great and holy father - You have made us with your seed and made the land and made the cattle and the deer and the grain. And you have given all from slave to commander a greatness with your guidance and so we bless you and we bless us all."
  81. And then did Isaac take dirt from the floor of Machpelah and cast it thrice upon his Father's chest and once more for himself.
  82. And then the sons who stayed and the sons of sons did bury their Father.

©2006 LJT

Today I met the Archbishop of Canterbury

It was at Sir John Betjeman's Birthday Party (He wasnt there)

The Vinegar Stroke of Genius

In this blog's nine month gestation we have been to many places togther. We have talked about technology and it's importance to computers. There were moments of romance. Diversions into literature and culture and, occasionally, there were reviews. Reviews of things like films and devices and Kimya Dawson. And there was the embarrassing moment when I was phishted by a man from Africa.
But there hasn’t been much in the way of commentary upon domestic product-utility and this, my dear reader, is a vacuum I have a yearnin’ to fill.

My Grandmother Hilda always used to say that vinegar was good for cleaning windows; If you backtrack George Formby's classic you can hear devil speak to this effect. I tried it as a youth and it was without doubt low on smear and high on polish.

Since then I have stopped cleaning windows. I have however kept a healthy, if a little anal, interest in domestic cleaning product technology.

Then this week I read and article about how vinegar ills 98% of all household bacteria. That’s a high percentage, on par with bleach. I have also read in follow up that vinegar is a great all-round cleaning product which can dissolve dirt and grease and slime and gunk as well as deodorize.

Its Sunday evening and the kids have been just noisy and messy. So, in order to keep out of their maelstrom I have been cleaning in the kitchen. This is not a rare occurrence in the "irregular solar orbiting body sense," but nonetheless, I saw there vinegar on the shelf and I went to work.

I have the cleanest fridge on my street. It smells a bit, well, vinegary, but a quick wipe down and hey presto. The gammy bits of egg yoke are gone. The nanobiotic congealed dairy miasma is now neutralized. I have conquered.
There was something quite liberating about this revelation. Along the lines of giving the bird to all of the post war investment and marketing in high-tech cleaning products.

This deserves a poem that I shall title “Ode to Vinegar”. And it goes a little something like this:
Ode to Vinegar

A spray bottle
Acetic acid distilled.
Spray it on your surfaces
And bacteria is killed.

A spray bottle
White acetic mist,
Hard with the vinegar stroke
And easy on your wrist.

GP2X Review

The last time a game made my heart really race, my wife was a Teutonic dominatrix and I had the blueprints to "die speziellen lesbischen headquaters". That was until today, when I started re-playing Quake.

Quake is one of the best computer games ever made; it might not be quite as exciting as licking your way out of the Saphist Coliditz, but in terms of game-play and challenge and excitement, Quake is hard to beat. What is especially exciting about my recent foray into Quake is that it all took place on the little-portable-open-source GP2X, powered by two AA batteries.

It doesn’t stop there. Not only does the GP2X (Powered by 2 AA batteries) play Quake, it does much more, and that, my dear reader, is what this post is about.

What is it?

Its a handheld gaming device weighing 161 grams and made in a place called Korea. Korea has two versions:

  1. North: Which makes secret nuclear weapons and spies.
  2. South: Which makes the GP2X.

The GP2X is made in Korea Version 2, and it is made well. Robust, well considered and with a high quality components, especially the screen.

It runs a version of Linux and has two 200MHZ processors and its own Video processor so it can do things that no other device on the planet, powered by two AA batteries, can do.

Where you get it?

You can get it from these people,, who are the global distributors and are based in England, which is a part of Europe. I have had a fair few emails with them and they are very helpful and very much behind the GP2X - and that is a good thing.

What does it do?

In order of importance:

1) Fractals!!!

OMG have you seen these things! They are patterns that are made mathematically out of component parts of the same patterns, and it gets better.... they go on for ever. Ot at least that’s what the manufacturers claim. I don’t know if that’s true but without doub
t they go on for 6 sets of AA batteries. You can just zoom in and in and in and in. It never stops.

Unfortunately the Korean version 2's didn’t put this in the GP2X so you need to download it and install it on the GP2X.

Download it here:,0,0,0,8,1088

2) Drum Machine

Most people who buy this in the early days will be pretty geeky. Using Shoemaker's G-F translation it is pretty clear to see that geekyness is inversely proportionate to funkiness. However, to compensate for this you can install a drum machine on the GP2X and, through practice, actually increase your funk without decreasing your geek. This is the best of both worlds and IS NOT
available on the Sony PSP or Nintendo DS Lite.

Download it here:,0,0,0,8,1088

3 The Graphical User Interface

The GP2X comes with its own "graph
ical user interface". This consists of small pictures ( or "icons") that represent the various aspects of the device. For example, the part of the graphical user interface that runs games has a "joystick" picture to guide you. If you get lost the pictures also have descriptive names associated such as "Games", "Music" and "Settings".

I found this graphical user interface very easy to use and navigate but some people may find it easier to actually go to a DVD store or an amusement arcade.

Because everything is open source there are other graphical user interfaces that can be put onto the GP2X to replace the one put on it by the Korea Version 2.0 team. I haven’t tried these others because the default one is just fine, thank you.

One other point of note is that the graphical user interface complies to the NORTFM. This means that though there is a manual you don’t need to read it, instead press a few buttons and you will pick it up, pronto.

4 Video Player

Once you have blown your stash of AA's cruising deep into the Mandelbrot set you might need a break from that math’s rollercoaster.

I suggest a good sojourn from such an excursion is to watch a movie. There are many movies available from an online video store called Bittorent, which has a great rental policy and the GP2X will play most of these (allegedly etc etc) and it will play them really well.

I like things that make you go "wow". Like when you go camping out of the city and look up to see the milky way. Or you walk in on your mother in the kitchen and she is juggling three apples and you have never seen her juggle before. Not even two.

The video quality of the GP2X has this wow. Maybe not as much as the Milky Way but at least 3 times more than Andromeda (the Galaxy not the TV Show and with the naked eye, not Hubble). Its clear and bright and with good contrast. The playback is smooth... so smooth (because of the hardware video) and all powered by two AAs.

You can push the output to the TV and its just as good as a desktop with TV out or Freecome Media Player display. I can imagine being around at a friends house and the chat has got a bit dull. They are talking about "friends of friends" and the beer is warm and its still so early. So what do you do? Get out the crack pipe or say this:

You: "Hi, I have my media player on me, how about we watch Zoolander 2?”

Them: “How?”

You: “I can plug it right in to your telly."


You:"Yes….. but have you got two AA batteries?"

As a final parting a very neat feature that could be in any video player but isnt, is that it remembers your position in a movie. So, I was watching a film in bed last night and when I was sleepy turned the device off. Tonight I'll continue watching it some more right from where I left off (assuming I don’t play Quake or "Frauline was is das in der leiderhossen!!!").

If you just want a portable movie player with TV out then that’s enough reason to get the GP2X.

5 Music and Podcasts

Some people find it enjoyable to listen to sounds aranged with a certain order or sequence and the GP2X has more than enough OOOOPH to satisfy these people.

It does MP3 and WMA and OGG, but lets be honest, we can forget the last two. The MP3 player is simple and effective. It doesn’t support play lists, in-song bookmarking or lyrics but it has all you really need for most cases. I wish it would have bookmarks like the movie player does but it doesn’t. It does have real smooooooooth in track navigation, so you can zip anywhere in a 50 meg podcast in seconds.

I’d like to make a special mention of the sound quality. I have had a zillion MP3 players over the years- stand alone, in Palm , PPC, phones etc and this, to my ears, is the best I have heard. It is clear and loud and a nice range and just ...good. It doesn’t have Dobly.

6 Games

This part of the review is only here so I don’t get accused of being nonquakeaphobic. I’ve seen the vidos of people playing many games at full speed. Ultima 7, Sonic, Duke Nukem’ etc etc etc.

  • There are tens of thousands of games available for the GP2X and the emulators seem to be getting better and better and better. Sure, there are homebrew games out there for the GP2x but ask yourself this question: Would you rather play a game written by one guy in 2006 and a budget of pizza and coke or 100 people in 1996 and a budget of 3 million?
  • I have been playing on the PSP of late, it may look better but the game play isn’t up to the games you get on the GP2X. End of discusssion.
  • Check out Craig’s review of the emulators and games available, really impressive.

Other Applciations

This baby runs Linux at the back end and has two meaty processors doing the work. In theory it could run Open Office, or Gimp (Like Photoshop) or contacts/calendar applications... really anything that can be done without internet on a desktop.

What I think will make or brake the trajectory of this side of the GP2X is peripheral support. It has a USB port so can it take a keyboard? Or a mouse? Can it cable via this to a mobile phone’s port to go online?

Because of the open source nature of this system and the fact it has port access the sky really could be the limit if a significant surge of developers get behind it. (We are going to try this at work, I think)

Any Downers?

There is a moment as a child when you realise that adults are not perfect. Maybe its when you ask one a question and they don’t answer right away. Maybe it’s when Uncle Derek looses the key to the tool shed and you both have to spend the night inside it and its cold. So cold.

For the GP2X this moment, the reaslisation that gadgets, like adults, are not perfect, comes when you try to change the batteries. The GP2X build is good, apart from the flimsy little metal tongue that pushes the negative into the positive. Its a spring that doesnt seep to ahve much spring about it. I am guessing that most of the send-backs for the GP2X will be because of this. It will break. I can that little thing now and it is saying... "I am the weakness."

There are other gripes......

Power Outage

In the middle of a game of Quake and suddenly the effects became awesome... better than an Xbox game. It was as if a white light nuke went off and I was starring at ground zero, my world imploding and melting at the same time.

In fact what had happened was the batteries died on me and that was the LCD's Swan Song. Being a life long battery fetishist I know that rechargeables live fast and die young; often without any warning. But this white out seemed really dramatic. I don’t ask for much... but 30 seconds of warning that the GP2X needs a change would be a start.

The Worst Accessory Ever

I got the official GP2x carry case and it is pants. It really is the worst designed case I have seen for any device, and I have seen many many.

  • The GP2x fits in the wrong way round so you can’t actually use it in the case.
  • It has a pocket but its is just a loose net that seems to flap and so useless for anything you might want to carry with the device, like batteries or SD cards.
  • The strap connector for it is cheap die-cast that I would not trust to hold a few feathers, let alone the GP2X.
  • It is disproportionately large relative to the size of the thing its protecting.

This is the worst case ever made for anything. If you can imagine taking the spongy excrement of a camel and smearing the GP2X in that excrement you will not be into the land of metaphor, but reality.

Conclusion: The Future

The review is coming to and end. I have been working on it for two days and I feel we need a dramatic conclusion to keep you happy. The GP2X review equivalent of blowing up the Death Star or (come out) Kevin Spacey loosing his limp. Where should I go? Try to be funny and zany? Or serious and resolute?

I think all good reviews of portable gaming and media devices should end with a quote that encapsulates what has gone before. And so I will end with a quote that achieves just that. And yet achieves even more.... spreading not just the scope and flexibility of the GP2X but also its community and potential.

I will end with a quote from a Korean (Version 1.0) Shin-Jok play that translates as follows:

"In the cusp of your fingers you may hold the many worlds and many things until power fails and all is dark".

out of 5

GP2X Haiku Review

The device is here;

It is good and just and fast

Goobye world and life.

I am getting a GP2X

Tomorrow, I hope, I will be etting a GP2X.

I got one because I think there are some avenues for work we could use but also because, as a man who likes his gadget, I like the look of this thing.

It is a media/game consul that packs a lot of punch, is powered by Linix and runs on 2 AA batteries.

It was cheap. So cheap.

It may be a flop. It may really rock.

I dont know how big it is or hor heavy or fast or cool or uncool.

I will keep you posted.

Computer Reminisces 1982: My ZX81

This is the one that started it all for me. I was 11. It was Christmas or maybe a birthday. Now It was Christmas. For my birthday I got the 16k Ram expansion pack. So, a 1k machine... think back to that. I haven’t thought about it for years until now but 1k... that’s 1000 letters... is a tiny tiny amount of memory. I spent a few weeks copying programs from the books and magazines. They might take an hour to do and then maybe (for me at least) a day to debug... going through the code bit by bit. My bugs were all typos. I have made many mistakes in my life, most of them are typos.

I remember my dad spent a night typing up the program to play chess that he found in a magazine. Chess in 1k yikes (Here it is! I cant remember how it played but Deep Blue it wasn’t.

At some point I started writing my own programs. I did a game of Jaws where you had to get to "Cable Junction" while being chased by the eponymous shark. I don’t remember if it was good I am guessing it wasn’t. Then I made "Dogfight" the graphics of which were some kind of cross hairs in the middle of the screen, to make the enemy plane was this little collection of characters:


Pretty realistic, na?

"Fruit Machine" was the game I tried to get published. If I remember rightly you could print awesome graphical characters using special codes for things like a Spade, Heart, Diamond.... and these formed the heart of the game. With all the ingredients for excitement a game needs this was destined for great shakes.

I sent it off to a ZX81 magazine and waited for the reply. Aged 11 or came. I can remember really clearly opening the envelope from the publisher. It was a school day. To paraphrase it said something like:

"Dear Matthew, Like you, we may only have 1000 bytes to play with…but if you think we are going to publish that travesty of an excuse for home entertainment in our prestigious magazine you have another thing coming, sonny."

They were probably nicer than that but you get the drift.

Once I moved up in the world to 16,000 bytes (with the monolith of a plug-in expansion pack) the world was my oyster. With 16 Kilobytes I could.... well.... do more. I cant remember what though. It was a difference of kind not degree but it was not that tiny code and concept space that started me and thousands of others off. Once you got into that space and out of the binary straight jacket the world would never be the same.

(FYI This post is just under 2k.)

A Brief History of The Smiley

The origins of the Smiley can be traced back as far as the origins of humanity. The earliest recorded use of the smiley pictogram is in the 14, 000 year old cave paintings at Scredda, in the south of England.

Here we find one, admittedly rough, representation of the face. It appears to be placed in the sky, almost sun-like, and shedding its radiance over a herd of bull or cattle.

Thanks to Professor Canesten for permission to use this image

This is the only use of the Smiley until the Roman times, although both Linear C and Fang Dynasty writings have smileoid characters. During this time it was used to represent the deity Bacchus, even becoming an adornment of the High Priests and Priestesses of Bacchus. This symbolic relationship lasted until the prohibition of Bacchanalian worship by the Roman Senate, in BC186.

Following this prohibition the Smiley disappeared from history until the middle ages when it became the symbol, "heureux le visage", used by quality French mistresses. Even Molière, in l'École des Femmes (1662), has the protagonist ask:

"Quel visage heureux brille de son coeur et la musique la peint-elle des mots?"

From the 17th century onwards the Smiley makes an appearance in a variety of art and literature, from Cervantez to bawdy Great War ballads. But it is not until the 1960s that the Smiley has its first wide-culture resurgence since the Roman period.

In the 1960's the popularity of a group of drug using degenerates changed the world for a decade. These 'Longhairs' or 'Hippies' believed in Free Love, Free Drugs, Freedom and Peace. What represented Peace to them was the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and the symbol of the CND movement was nothing other than the Smiley.

Some Hippies or 'Longhairs' in what appears to be a rug shop.

The cold war ended at the end of the 1980s. Global multi-lateral nuclear disarmament finally occurred in 1990 and CND was disbanded a year later. These changes in the cultural landscape left the Smiley a bastard symbol in a world becoming ever more populated by the New Icons of Commerce. The Nike swoosh, the Coke-Cola double swirl and the Irn-Bru slash became the dominant, if unholy, trinity. Smiley was left out in the cold.

Out in the cold but not for long. 1991 saw the birth of a new phenomenon which soon swept the globe. A youth movement unlike anything seen before; illegal parties, clashes with the police, protest and rebellion. All of this to a soundtrack of heavy proto-dance music that forgave the few and rewarded the brave. The future would never be the same; Grunge was here.

The Grunge Movement was an explosion that began in London but engulfed the planet. If Grunge had a flagship then it was the band Nirvana and if that ship had a flag then on that flag was the Smiley. Still fighting, only now for Grunge and all that she stood for. Even though Grunge lasted only 2 long months its followers refused to let go of the style and motifs that had made it so popular... apart from, that is, the Smiley.

In its 14, 000 year life the Smiley has had ups and downs, reverence and rejection, but what of the future? What will the next 14, 000 years hold for this, perhaps the greatest of all pictograms?

In an age in which corporations use symbols like slogans, something as particularly human as the Smiley has a special place. It represents the longevity of the human spirit, the passions of the soul and that most sacred of all things mortal, the smile.

(Orginally published in differnt times)

My Spam is as Deeep as An Ocean

I don’t get that many comments to the Blog. This is due largely to the fact I don’t get many visitors. Out ere on a backwater of the world-wide-internet its quiet. Tranquil. Lazy digital days. But of late I have been getting lots of spam comments.

Its not the comments that I hate its that it clogs up my inbox and I cant call the messages from my own site spam so I am trapped. And thus… its goodbye anonymous freedom of speech. If you want to post comments from now on my dear listener, you must be logged in to blogger.

Wham. Spam. No Thank you Ma'am

I don’t hate spammers and their random thrusts

I don’t detest the message to visit a site…

… you know me or some just might.

I don’t mind them littering my floor.

They did it once and they did it some more.

I don’t mind that they hide out of reach

Or force my hand against freedom of speech.

But what really fails to keep the rain,

Is that their sites' are so mundane.

Opera Mini

I have never been much of a fan of the Opera Web browser – even way back when the internet was still in Black and White. Not for any reason…

But I have been trying the new Opera Mini for mobile phones and without doubt in my doubting mind, it is a tech design classic.

On the small screen of my Nokia 6230i it works a dream using a sharp tiny custom font, intuitive shortcut keys, fast loading , low bandwidth and great caching.

I can get into Gmail in seconds without having to enter any username and the bookmarking and history is just brilliant.

I also tried it on my Palm OS handheld… it worked as well and natch the screen is bigger… but really, who needs that.

As a guy who has been in the frey of the PDA/Handheld races for well over a decade it is this little java app on my mobile that to me signals the real end of the PDA.

Good work you scandies!