Wow. It's been a long time since I have visited here. It truly is amazing how quickly life can change when, well, your life changes. Since the last time I visited, I've gotten married, moved twice, bought a house, had 3 jobs, gained a cat and a dog (bringing the household total to 5 animals, 2 adults). I've also acquired 626 messages in my Message Inbox, ignored a whole swath of Secret Santa senders and recipients (and even missed a whole season of which gwenllian apparantly ROCKED THE HOUSE with!) and have completely ignored my desire to contribute. Oh, and I switched to Linux (because it tastes good!)

I have, however, gained many new skills, and have aspirations of noding again, creating some nifty new clients (once I figure out what new clients have already been created), actually noding who got what, and finally making it to level 4.

In some ways, being gone was a lot like being away from family. You miss some people, you forget about the lessons of others, and you finaly let the politics die. You are fresh, renewed, and dying to get back up to speed.

Thanks for your patience, for not threatning me for not keeping up the Secret Santa node, and for not changing. At least, not as far as I can see yet.


The evil multiface of death

Those of you out there who have glanced, even casually, at my writeup list may have noticed a larger than average fixation with the humble ZX Spectrum. Indeed, I've owned many a spectrum in my time. The first, I got in 1983, when I was but five years old. It was a rubber-keyed 48k number and one of my closest friends for a few years; then it stopped working. The bloke at the shop informed me that the "Z80 chip has blown." In retrospect, of course, this was almost certainly bollocks, but it did lead to my Mum & Dad getting me a new one. The best speccy ever made: the ZX Spectrum 128+.

Anyway, I don't want to bore you with the details of the other ones. I'll gloss over by saying that car boot sales and friends' clearing out of lofts provided many of them. Now, however, only one of them still works -- a ZX Spectrum +2A -- and the reason for this is a combination of my own utter stupidity and absent-mindedness, and the afforementioned Multiface of Death.

A multiface, you see, is a cool box of tricks that can be attached to the back of a speccy and enables you to do cool stuff like save the current state of the machine, mess about with the memory and the Z80's registers and... well, go and read the node if you're interested. Needless to say, I wanted one. But, being a poor sap I could never afford one. My days went multifaceless until one fatefull day, I stumbled into one at a car boot sale. Maybe I was too eager. Maybe the sudden thunderclap as I picked up the box i n my shaking hand should have been a sign, but undaunted I offered the bloke behind the trestle table a couple of pounds squid and skipped home full of glee.

I hurriedly slotted the demonic device into the edge connector on the back of one of my speccies and expectantly flicked the power switch....


Now that is not, for those not aquainted with the ways of Sinclair computers, the noise a speccy makes when sparked into life. Nor is the solid black screen I was presented with a normal sort of display for a spectrum warming itself up. Of course, this wasn't altogether unexpected; it wouldn't be the first time I'd bought something from a car boot sale that didn't work. With a somewhat heavy heart, I unplugged my, seemingly useless, new purchase and turned on my rubbery friend anew....


Shit. That's right. The evil multiface of death had reduced my spectrum to a simple machine that goes boop.

Of course, you'd expect the story to end more-or-less here; possibly with some sort of a punchline involving my tossing the offending peripheral into the dustbin, or possible jumping on it or destroying it in some suitable violent manner. Alas, my only action was to chuck it into the 'box-with-all-my-speccy-gear-in-it' and, slowly, its existance slipped from my memory.

Later on I managed to get myself a working multiface; a recently-aquired friend noticed my sinclair fetish and, rather generously, gave me all the spectrum-related equipment he'd had in the back of his cupboard under the stairs for years. I had happy times with it; saving games to microdrive, poking around in code and so on. As time went by, however, my spectrum use dwindled as linux became it replacement and the 'box-of-speccy-stuff' slowly got burried farther under other boxes of stuff.

The evil multiface of death however, had not given up its quest. Whilst in the box, it had managed to make itself identical in every way to its perfectly-functional twin and worked its way to the top of the box ready for the next time I decided to dig it all out for a game of Lords of Chaos. Out comes the box, the speccy's plugged in, turned on and...


And a second spectrum had become useful only for propping up a wonky table leg. So, of course, I burned the disgusting device this time, yes? No. Why? I have no idea.

At this point in the story my memory fails my slightly, but I am almost completely certain that there is one more time in which the evil multiface of death had had its wicked way on a happy 8-bit. Possibly regressive hypnotherapy would uncover the details, but I'm sure, if it did happen, it would be the same ritual of plugging it in, the same expectation and the same...


So, I sit here now, having once more set up a speccy (the sole-working +2A). I'm played Lords of Chaos, I've played Chaos, I've played Jet Set Willy and am considering a quick go on Manic Miner; but staring at me, at the bottom of the box, are a pair of completely identical multifaces ready for me to tinker with. One, who knows which, is the multiface from the dark side. There is no way of knowing without plugging one in at random. Now, which one shall I pick....


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