Retrovision day 3 – the chillout

And so it ends… Day three of Retrovision. The day where everyone sits in the lower part of the bar away from the flashing lights and loud noises, slowly coming to terms with the world again. Tradition dictates there be a Pictochat session, which always causes a certain amount of confusion by the “normals” in the room. There’s nothing stranger than six people hunched over their DSs prodding the screen in silence then suddenly breaking out into hysterics in unison. The Borg have nothing on us lot I tell you.

The sunday roast was good, as was the “survivor’s” curry in the evening. And the lockin in the pub was quite nice too 😉

Yes, the timestamps on these entries are a bit weird. It’s really Monday and I’m … retro-filling my diary to maintain Blog365 coherence. Normally I’d just write one long post and blabber on at length in that, but this way seems better. I know when I did stuff now.

Retrovision day 2

And so to day two. A day of much fun and surprises.

Surprise one being that I won several things in the raffle. Yes, the Vectrex is mine 🙂 As is a Wiistle (a whistle shaped like a wiimote) and a universal telly remote.

And then… well… the second surprise… Thanks you lot 😀 Much appreciated.

Additionally Amy has acquired a Compaq Presario PC, and Devlin (who was also crammed into my car)  has managed to win an Amiga 500 in the raffle and was given a Megadrive. I have no idea how any of this is going to fit into my car since it was full getting here. Car Tetris may happen in the carpark on Monday.

But really, you people who conspired against me, thanks 🙂

Retrovision day 1

Today, after a slow and slightly loopy day at school I finally managed to escape and head off to Oxford. Being the last day of this half term, my kids were rather excitable. I had two rolling around on the floor being idiots, and another decided it’d be fun to escape just before the end of school. Just what I need when I’m ready to escape for the weekend; half an hour of running around and writing bits of paper to chase up pointless silly incidents.

Anyway, eventually I had my car packed and was off to Doncaster station to collect Amy and two of our friends to trek off to Oxford for the yearly Llamasoft-flavoured forum meeting known as Retrovision. I won’t explain what a “retrovision” is, the website should be enough, as should this thread on our forum.

We arrived a tad later than the guesthouse people thought… err about 5 hours later, they thought we were arriving mid afternoon, not at seven PM. This meant there was no key and nobody to let us in. A quick phonecall to the owners and we were told our room number and that if we could find someone else from our group they could let us in and our room was open. This wasn’t so hard to do, the pub we were staying in (the rather good Folly Bridge Inn on Abingdon Road) being across the road, a whole thirty second walk away. Now to park the car…

Oxford doesn’t like cars that don’t belong to local people. This is fine in concept, since who does want hoardes of bloody tourists cluttering the streets with their cars, preventing you from parking yours outside your house. However, there needs to be more thought given to weekend visitors with bags, who are staying in guest houses – of which Oxford has hundreds. Really, I have a suitcase and two bags, how am I supposed to get that onto public transport easily? And the Park and Ride is great idea, but not if I can’t leave my car there for more than a day.

Fortunately I found the only free space in the pub’s carpark… and it’s mine for the whole weekend.

Friday nights at Retrovision are mostly test runs of everything – the games, the projectors, the pub’s ability to serve beer and food, and the thin-ness of the guesthouse walls. It appears that talking to each other pisses off people in other rooms. Well sorry, we’ll just use telepathy then!

Skrrrrr-beee! Skkrrrrrr-beeeee!

I decided to unearth my ZX Spectrums and see if any of them still work. I have three;

  • A 48k Spectrum
  • A 16k Spectrum
  • A 128k Spectrum +3

The Spectrum +3’s diskdrive drivebelt had perished, but I repaired it with another from eBay. Unfortunately the tape/sound connector had broken and I don’t think the repair we did has been successful. The Spectrum can hear the sound, but doesn’t recognise it as being loading data.

The 16k Spectrum has trouble producing a stable image,  and when loading anything produces the amusing

M: Ramtop no good

error message meaning “hey! You can’t fit 48k of data into my 16k of RAM”. I had much more luck with my 48k Spectrum though. It doesn’t give a stable image with sound, but if I mute the TV the Spectrum’s internal beeper works fine and the image is as clear as an RF modulated signal can be.

The 16 year old tapes I was using; a mixture of Your Sinclair, Crash and “Spectrum Games Compilation” that had been sat in my cousin’s garage for years. Some of them were mine from when I was younger 🙂 Tape loading success was about 10%, so about right for a Spectrum then 😉

Need to work out a neat way to cable the whole lot up. I don’t fancy the idea of leaving 20 year old power supplies plugged into the mains without supervision.