Eurocon – Extended Play

Firstly, I should point out once again that the Eurocon is held in the Netherlands so local time while we were there (I’m home now) was 1 hour ahead of UK time. My server is set to publish times based on the UK so while that last comment said it was 3am when ‘Flower’ kicked us out of the con room it was actually 4am and there were still around 15 of us talking in groups.

After that I chatted with Shuzon before sleeping, fellow Parrot and cage-mate for the weekend (poor him). Another interesting hour as he told me about how to make beer (though I still couldn’t do it). Shuzon is our ‘Brewer from Bavaria’ having studied it at university and then having his own ‘micro-brewery’ making mostly pilsner. Now days he is retraining to be a waiter. Now, at this point you may be thinking like me “how hard can it be to be a waiter?”. Well, it takes 3 years of training but you wont find him just pulling pints (erm, ok, based on previous photos from this Eurocon it’s clearly VERY hard for me to pull pints). His course covers a wide range of things from the back office paper work, food preparation, cooking the perfect meal at a customers table (flambee without burning the customers). It also covers the most difficult of all waiters tasks, correctly taking an order when 5 people order at once, speaking a language that for you is not your first, second or third language. So pretty much a degree then.

Anyway, back to the title. Remember the old arcade games where if you got so far you’d get “Extended Play”? Well, I had a plan. I was only at the Eurocon because of a sick parrot; Flubby. Now, it turns out flubby lives about 2 hours south of where the Con was held so by checking my driving times I worked out I could get to his house and still drive another 4 hours back to reach the ferry in time. The plan was set, I checked with the other parrots to make sure it wouldn’t likely be a problem to just turn up on his door step. Kculon was staying with Flubby after the con – he’s from America and combined Eurocon with part a European tour with his wife. Gath was driving KC to Flubby’s house on his way home. So with everyone agreed it would be good, the plan was set – “Operation Flubby”, or “let’s have a Parrot Con”, because Shuzon then decided he could change his route home if I could drop him off at the nearest station after our surprise visit. I thought I was being nice by visiting, on the drive down to Flubby’s house Shuzon casually mentioned that from Flubby’s house the train will take 4 hours longer but he wouldn’t get another chance to say hello for another year at least so it was worthwhile.

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On arrival I made the mistake of trying to speak German. Not good. “Ich bin Kanga und ich haben dienen Meditzen”. I’m sure the grammar as well as the spelling is wrong – please fix it flubby like I get to fix your English spellings. Anyway, when he eventually realised it was kanga he appeared more than surprised enough to make it worthwhile. Especially since Gath and Kculon had been there for a while already and hadn’t let it slip that I was coming too. Meditzen referred to the Spitfire Beer I had brought for him (a small thank you for letting me go in his place while he was ill), along with a little book of funny adverts for the beer. Meeting flubby reminded me of that song “Isn’t it Ironic”, i forget who by. Not because meeting him was ironic but because of the words of the song that go “It’s like meeting the man of your dreams, then meeting his beautiful wife”, Flubby being only a voice to me in all the time I’ve known him and Suzanna, being his wife.

So, we had a mini parrot con, Kanga, Flubby, Kculon, Gath, Shuzon, Suzanna (Flubby’s wife), Arianne (Gath’s girlfriend), Pam (Kculon’s wife, apparently a mean guitar player so maybe we’ll have a parrot theme tune soon!), and Flubby’s children, Alexander and …. , sheesh, 28 hours later and I can’t remember, was it Felix?

This should really be my last post on the Eurocon so I’ll try to remember the other great moments and answer some earlier questions I wrote.

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Another good time we had; All of us flying together a big mission. All of us means over 30 players. We took B24 bombers from a field and flew a long mission to bomb a target on the far side of the map. Each bomber has 2 wingmen, so that was 90 or so bombers taking off and flying together. One of the problems of having so many players up together is that the computers have to work so much harder generating the graphics. I hear that Krod had a frame rate of 2 frames per second. Normally a monitor should display 60 frames per second! My PC will normally make 50 to 60 frames per second but you can see from the screenshot my rate dropped to 22FPS.

You may remember earlier I pondered over the power usage and data rate to the internet for so many players is one small room, or large room in this case. -bijl-, one of the organisers enlightened me just before I left. The internet connection was a regular ADSL line, 3mb down, 512kb up. To me that’s impressive! 40 players were using that 512kb up for Teamspeak (a radio channel we can all talk to each other over), the game connections, any other uploading/downloading, everything. Consider that UK ADSL providers suggest their connections are suitable for ‘up to 5 PC’s’ in an office, and we had 40 doing very internet intensive stuff. It shows to me how well the games are written to transfer all the information they need over such a small line.

Onto power. The reason the event was limited to 40 players is they did some calculations on how many watts are used by a PC, monitor and worked out that the safe maximum was 40 – even though the hotel had more rooms, it didn’t have any more power points that could handle more load. I asked how many power points they had us all connected to via extension leads. The answer. 3. 40 PC’s, 40 screens, 1 local server , 1 huge network switch, 1 not so huge network switch, 1 ADSL router, that’s at least 80 devices not counting some joysticks that need power, the projector, the fridges (for the drinks of course), all running off 3 connections to the hotel power. Don’t try this at home folks!

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The hotel was actually a converted monastry from what I could work out. The rooms were small but did have a shower and toilet. The monastry bit comes from some black and white pictures in one coridor showing photos of monks in front of the building, and statue of jesus on the cross in the courtyard. The food was very good, a selection of foods provided for dinner and no one went hungry.

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We weren’t the only ones in the hotel. There were a group of singers practicing in a nearby room as well as several large families. It looked like a great base for a family holiday, the large garden was full of climbing frames and slides and there was also a large field. Next year (if I get to go) I’ll take some bats and balls for a game of rounders.

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This time last week I didn’t know I’d be going to the Eurocon. The first Eurocon photo was taken on a ferry. Book, Coffee, Laptop. Let’s play spot the difference with a return photo; Book, Coffee, Laptop, ahh, I can see the difference, an original Eurocon 2008 ‘Dead Parrot Con’ ID badge :-).