Category Archives: BLOG

Upgrading My computer

Upgrading my computer over the past week has been fun, annoying yet eventually rewarding.

Regular complications

I have been on Windows Vista since July 2009, which by any ones standard is far too long. It was using up 2GB worth of my RAM before anything else was even running, that alongside my 6GB RAM meant i rarely had enough virtual memory.

I purchased 2GB of Kingston Hyper X RAM to go with the rest of my RAM upping me up to 8GB, this should help things out no end.

Charles, the PC repair man, came round to my house whilst i was at work, to install the SSD drive and windows 7. He completely wiped my external hard drive as to not confuse the vista operating system on there, which is what i wanted as it had a lot of garbage on there. Unfortunately however, i hadn’t backed up everything as i had once thought, it turns out my pictures file was completely wiped with no back-up. This really is something which i will never let happen again, 4 years worth of pictures gone in a second.

The SSD card didn’t come with a cable either, so Charles smartly decided to use the CD-DRIVE cable instead, disabling it until a new cable was ordered.

Anyway, the installation went 100% fine, the SSD works, the cable was ordered, everything is looking A-OK.

Besides the problems with sleep, and the fact my computer still doesn’t turn off properly that is, that really does suck, but i don’t know what i can do about it :s.

Needless to say my computer is looking fantastic, in game graphics are literally more incredible then i could’ve ever hoped for, here is a screenshot from Mass Effect 2 for you to look at!mass effect screenshot

There are no frames dropped, everything is on the highest setting, my computer just runs nicely, i am one happy bunny at the moment!!!

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Charles Fixing/Breaking/Fixing My Computer – Part 2

Following my computer being fixed/broken/fixed i decided i would use my computer and play games on it and stuff.

To my delight it’s been working great, even better than when i first got it! I have subsequently ordered a new Solid State Drive (SSD) and Windows 7, just so i am not stuck in 2009 with the rest of the things that are out-dated, as well as 2 more GB’s of RAM to up my total to 8GB.

I turned off my PC and went to work. I returned home to find my PC was still on however, this confused me, and led me to make a most excellent discovery.

My computer is now magic. This is all thanks to Charles!

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Charles Fixing/Breaking/Fixing My Computer

It’s Friday afternoon and i decide that my CPU has taken enough battering over the recent weeks, and upon further investigation realised it was reaching temperatures around 76 degrees(Celsius) idle and peaking over 100 degrees when it was made to do something, which in turn made my computer start to fail. Charles said he was free after work on the Friday evening, we were going to the 8 (or 9) showing of Oblivion at Cineworld so we had a couple of hours to take the computer apart and de-dust it. (de_dust it?)

I whack the television on and put my feet up, after all, i don’t know what i’m doing! Charles certainly looked like he knew if nothing else until that was he took the CPU fan out. The fan had a very delicate mechanism where forced entry would snap the pieces which would eventually hold it in place, which had happened when Charles managed to get his heavy hands in it. Which meant it would never go back in and stay.. which meant a new CPU was required.

‘Computer components are surprisingly strong’. Charles Saddler 12/4/13 – Moments before snapping the clips.

 

We decided to call it a night after that, go to the cinema and address the situation in the morning.

 

So it’s 10.30am Saturday morning. I literally never see this hour of day anymore, so i presume it’s being without a computer for the night which has allowed me to sleep for once, who knows. But anyway, Charles arrived at mine and we decided to drive to Chesterfield and get a new fan. Which fan should i get i wondered? Charles offered to pay £20 for the CPU fan as he had kind of broken it, which was extremely generous of him, but the generosity of driving to Chesterfield for me should’ve been enough in itself! It turned out though the best thing to do would be to get a water-cooler for the CPU as it would be future proof for my next chip, motherboard, thing. So that was £60 and Charles said he’d go halves on it.. like a complete lad! If anything i’m really glad he broke it.

The rest of the day was spent putting it together, which was no mean feat because we ended up going in to Matlock for some super glue we didn’t need at all, and 3 computer start ups which said the CPU was overheating.

Charles eventually got everything back together, and it all works perfectly with the new CPU water cooler, which is nice! it also idles at 35 degrees which is pretty cool in fairness!

 

Thanks Charles!! LAD.

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Donkey Kong Live Stream – Part 5

So today was a great day for streaming. I had a whole hours worth of streaming, completely fine, internet was great, people were watching, and it was fantastic! I just so wish i could do this with games such as Starcraft 2 and Counter Strike: Global Offensive. I’d be rate famous by now if my internet was better. I literally have no other option other than to move house.

Plan 1 –

Win the lottery and move to America and stream a lot. All the time.

Plan 2 –

Move to Sheffield with Charles, maybe Jack as well. Internet will be pretty fast then, but i’m not sure if i could afford rent & bills as i would have to look for a new job.

Plan 3 –

Move but someone pay my bills. Then i will make EoD videos, make pro streaming videos of FIFA, pacman, everything possible. I will be famous.

Here is the stream i did earlier tonight, it is pretty entertaining, i swear far too many times though so apologies for that! and the sound is poor in the middle!

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Live Streaming – Part 4

Here is part one of my streaming session last night.

Here is part 2 which i did today.

Everything is uploaded to youTube now and the links work! Hope to post more videos and fix the sound stuff soon so i dont sound so bad!! (just turn it down a little)

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Live Streaming – Part 3

So it took me in to the early hours of this morning, but streaming seems to be ok.

I turned off the camera mic and focused on in game sounds only and that, although lacks interactivity, has massively helped the audio for the stream. That being said I do want to talk to the ever growing audience during the stream.

This led me to my greatest conquest ever. I shall begin the story at the start, on my 18th birthday nearly 4 years ago.

I was able to have a gaming PC for my 18th birthday. At the time it was fantastic, the i7 processor, a £300 graphics card, 6gb of RAM (which at the time was incredible). Needless to say everything was going great!

I decided it would be about time to start gaming again then, of course that is why I got it! I tried plugging the headset in and off I went. No sound coming out of the headset microphone? And no sound from the headset? Ok, maybe the front ports on my PC may be broken. So I decided to try the back ones. The headset started working, but the microphone still wasn’t doing anything. I went in to settings and there was literally no bar indicating any sound coming out. This angered me a lot, and also frustrated me tonnes. I knew it wasn’t my webcam microphone over-riding it because it literally just wasn’t being recognised at all.

microphone

4 years later, having used only the webcam microphone, with the worst sound quality ever. (see Alan Partridge sketch on Youtube.com/wraggy1234 for example of the worst sound quality you’ve ever heard)

I had since been back to look at it, also had Dan and Liam look at it briefly at i44, but again the same result, they were left scratching their heads wondering what was going on. I managed to get it working last night however, for the first time since I have had my computer.

It turns out we had been plugging it in the wrong port. There is a 3rd microphone port and this one works. Excellent, we are now officially the biggest idiots ever. Me being king idiot of course.

Needless to say the stream sound has definitely improved in terms of the microphone, if you go on www.twitch.tv/joshuawragg you’ll be able to see the difference between one of the latest streams to one of the older streams.

On a separate note I had clicked to upload to YouTube (after all that was the main reason I decided to switch to twitchtv from justintv, but apparently it doesn’t want to work for whatever reason). I’m not sure if there is a delay on it or something but it just isn’t appearing whatsoever, which is gay. Perhaps in an update I will be able to tell you it has worked and everything is fantastic, but I am not 100% if I will ever be able to do this.

I also tried to stream StarCraft 2 Heart Of The Swarm today, but unfortunately there were problems a plenty with this. Basically it didn’t want to have anything to do with this. There was a watchable picture, but every 2 seconds it would freeze for a little bit. Which is clearly unwatchable. So that counts StarCraft 2 out still. Which is so frustrating, because I would be playing that so much should it work! The still image makes it look worse than i first remember. It’s only until about half way through a game does it begin to pause, the first part of it runs semi-smooth.

hots image

At least the microphone works, and we are 100% convinced the Matlock internet connection is possibly one of the worst in the country.

Live Streaming is still a distant dream for these big games at the moment for me. I haven’t even looked in to the possibility of making money off the stream yet either, but my friend Jamie has suggested i play some old games, such as the classic DiscWorld, this way it can be interactive with chat and we can all go and explore together. I have thought of pokemon as being a good one to stream as well. That would be fun too!

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Live Streaming – Part 2

Managed to get the stream working ok. Some of the settings are slightly dodgy though. By that i mean my webcam has literally the worst microphone on it. But my plugged in microphone on my headset has never worked, not for this headset or any other because the port is broken, meaning only usb connections are accepted, which majorly sucks.

The video quality is exceptionally poor also, however once you are in game it doesn’t look that bad, Mario moves pretty freely and doesn’t seem to drop many frames at all.

I decided to change from my justin.tv/raidenstarcraft to my new streaming site twitch.tv/joshuawragg this was due to the inability to upload youtube videos from the justin.tv site even though it had everything activated, the upload button was nowhere to be seen. The overall feel of twitch.tv is also much nicer on the eyes.comparrison

 

Old on the left, new on the right.

So yeah, from now on my broadcasts will be done from http://www.twitch.tv/joshuawragg and i will be uploading my streams on to YouTube and i hope to get a decent following! See you all on the other side!

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Live-Streaming

Following my Insomnia48 trip i have been desperate to live stream me playing FIFA, or record me playing FIFA on to my Hard-drive.

My internet isn’t great though unfortunately, in fact i think Matlock has one of the worst internet connections in the world. As a test however i’m going to be playing the original Donkey Kong trying to beat my high score of 90,000. The quality isn’t great, in fact it looks pretty poor, but there isn’t much frame rate dropping and it has become quite watchable!

http://www.twitch.tv/raidenstarcraft is where i will be playing donkey kong! Rate nice.

UPDATE

After 12 minutes of streaming my computer blue screened, upon restarting it said it had overheated… i think that is that then for live streaming.

UPDATE 2

I managed to restart and get 50 minutes of gameplay in. I’m struggling on finding a way to upload it to youtube however, i’m supposed to have a ‘upload to youtube’ button, but im really struggling to find it.

http://justin.tv/raidenstarcraft/c/2111895

That is the link to it. It doesn’t want to embed on the website though so you will have to leave the page to watch it. Technology is really grinding me today! -.-

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Insomnia 48, Day 2

I woke up at 7.30 from my alarm, which is surprising because I usually miss my alarm at home. Maybe subconsciously I knew that I would have to be awake! We met at the bus stop at about 8.30, and literally there was so so much snow. I have never been away from home/uni when the snow has come down so heavily it’d be impossible to pack up and go home. The mini-bus shuttle service was better this morning though, I don’t know why this was, new driver? Less snow on the road? Well either way I didn’t feel like a crash was around every corner this time.

(Jack wearing just his t-shirt to go and get some camera equipment..)

Upon arrival me and Jack set too on eating. I had last nights left over pizza (this was left in the hot sweaty main hall all night). I forgot to mention in my last post I had a pizza. Basically we got given 3 food tokens as we were members of staff, 1 token got you a chicken wrap, 2 tokes was the equivalent of a 9″ pizza, and 3 could get you a 12″ pizza. I decided to spend all of my food tokens on the very first night, as you do! Which meant I had to buy everything else I wanted to eat. Needless to say I didn’t eat much for the rest of my stay. (it’s expensive ok!).

9am hit and we were back at the FIFA area, watching Dave and Aubs set up the fifa area. I sat down on the streaming PC and turned it on. Where I was met with error after error in relation to everything working. It was working fine yesterday what on earth has gone wrong today? Apparently everything. But that was mostly because everything had been turned off at the switch.. one of the HDMI cables was faulty, and because there was a last minute cable alteration by the technicians to change the video output going out of the speakers which made FIFA and the casting sound awful. But this was fixed (not by me mind).

Eventually there was a massive rush to get the Canon 600d’s working through the PC so we could engage in interviews off those cameras. I tried downloading the software for the 600’d so we could use them as a webcam (i’d done this at home so I knew it worked) but alas the pc didn’t want to know anything about it. Rubbish piece of equipment I say / would happily have it as it was worth twice as much as mine, but let’s just ignore that small irrelevancy ! So Jack told Dave the interview situation, that there would be no live broadcast of interviews through the ‘nice’ cameras, instead the solution was to take players to one side after a game and give them a cheeky interview, then let them get back on there way. Did I mention this was 30 minutes before the days event was supposed to start? No? well it happened 30 minutes before the tournament was kicking off. Dave probably hated me and Jack by now as mostly everything which could’ve gone wrong did go wrong, the whole reason why we were there was to make sure it was as smooth as possible. It was going about as smoothly as a hedgehog.

After all though, me and Jack said from the beginning we were there to do some filming, that’s all we had planned to do before we had gotten to the event, so in our defence we were always going to be useless at the rest of the stuff. The filming though. Yes finally!

Ok the filming didn’t go great.

Here is a list of reasons why the filming didn’t go as smoothly / as brilliantly as possible. I have done a bullet pointed list for your eyes so it reads easier.

  • The lighting was poor: You would’ve thought that with the whole area designated to us we would’ve thought about getting some additional lighting. Say like the StarCraft 2 area. They knew they were filming, so had some massive lights hanging from the ceiling, and some free standing lights. Something which benefits the camera greatly is strong lighting. Yes the players are probably going to be annoyed by it, and if you go to a TV studio and sit facing the lights you’re literally blinded by them. Alas we had poor lighting, and everything we shot was semi-grainy and lacking in full colours and good quality. This is not to be confused with unusable footage. That brings me on to my next bullet point nicely though.
  • Unusable footage e.g Interviews: We had this new RODE microphone which was awesome and the sound was so much better than the in built microphone. Bearing in mind we are in the worlds most echoey hall ever, you can literally hear all the sounds bounce off the walls, the p.a system constantly blasting out from other. The RODE microphone performed really well. That was when we turned it on. It spent half of it’s life turned off, which is annoying because it’s such an easy thing to remember, but when everything Is battery powered, and you are using something for the first time, that on top of having to be ready really quickly for something, both me and Jack missed out a few interviews by having a no sound recording. Useless I know, but it’s just one of those things! The interviews we did have were decent, although the microphone was attached to the camera, so we were reliant on the player speaking louder than usual (which for camera shy FIFA players isn’t likely)

Key ways around this for future:

Have more batteries so we can just leave the microphone in the setting ON.

Buy an extension cable so the microphone can be used as more of a handheld thing. You know, like proper interviews.

Remember that we are film makers and that we have an obligation to film things correctly.

  • Possibly try and get better cameras.
  • Have some order to the filming, we ended up just filming random shots of everything, some files were 6 seconds, some were 4 minutes. This makes for really difficult editing situations.
  • variety of shots limited, although this was due to un-invasive camera work.

So yeah, that’s what went not 100% to plan.

That being said we had great fun on the Saturday afternoon. Literally loads of fun, we were chatting with all of the players, following the live bracket, helping with the stream, helping with the administrative tasks set for us, helping choose which games should be shown live. Adjusting audio levels on the sound board, and for the stream. Literally think of a job and me and Jack helped with it.

We were finished by about 6pm and were able to go back to our seats, eat and do some editing. This sounds great, and an early night is surely to ensue you’d think! Well think again, this is Insomnia after all!

On our way to get some pizza some guy approached us wearing a big rucksack and carrying a keyboard. He looked me in the eye and started speaking to me. ‘Either of you two interesting in buying some gaming equipment?’ – Funnily enough I was, I hadn’t had a new keyboard since I started playing Counter Strike Source, and I got it for Christmas when I was 15. I thought at the time it was an average keyboard, but it had since lasted me ages and it was something I didn’t really want to part ways with, although for the last 2 years i’d been looking for something new, something which could take my many hours of gaming and many hours of typing! Everything was like £100+ though, and it was something I didn’t really feel comfortable buying for 3 figures. ‘Yes I am, i’m after a new keyboard though’, I replied. He took the keyboard(which was boxed so that’s why I didn’t realise it was a keyboard straight away) and held it out in front of me. ‘Here we go, it’s a brand new Razor one my team won, but want me to sell because they want the money, it’s worth £90 but i’m selling it for £60.’ Hmmmm what’s the catch I thought, who just sells a brand new keyboard, not faulty, with £30 off.. GEEKS OF COURSE! I instantly bought it and have not looked back since. It shines up all kinds of colours and looks wonderful. Right place at the right time!

We put all of the footage on to the computer, and used Jacks massive external hard-drive. I would’ve used my new (specifically bought for the event) portable 1TB hard-drive for everything which would’ve made everything so much easier, but I had left it at the University accommodation… Standard. But yeah, we uploaded everything off the SD cards, and proceeded to download all of the live stream footage from twitch.tv/sweetpatchtv using keepvid.com. We didn’t realise however that the footage would be saved as .flv files. Which, even though we were using Adobe software with the Premiere Pro, it apparently doesn’t recognise flash files. It doesn’t recognise it in media converter either which is useless. So that meant finding a .flv->mp4 (or a recognisable file type) converter, which appeared to take forever, and once everything had finally been converted it was 9pm. Then the editing was finally allowed to begin!

the editing itself was fun because it was nice to use in-game footage and interlace that with the footage we had done. It’s something i’d not really played about with before, using game footage before and I found it really interesting. Me and Jack switched positions regularly, deciding we would do a linear edit of the streamed games, inter-cut with funky cool shots throughout the day in the main gaming area. We used the cut tool on the EA sports logo throughout which we found to look extremely helpful between transitions.

By the time we had done it was 1am, we uploaded it to the SweetpatchTV Youtube channel and this is what the final result was.

For once I am extremely proud of this video. Not only was it an extremely fast turnaround the quality is great and it has increased my experience with Adobe Premiere. The more times you use something the better you get at it. Apparently if you spend over 10,000 hours doing something you become a master at it! I have not spent 10,000 hours using Premiere Pro.

We were unlucky with our timing waiting for the shuttle mini-bus this time and we were out in the cold at 2am for about 35 minutes before one arrived. Which meant less sleep, so when that 7.30 alarm sounds it will not be a welcome one at all !

Saturday was fantastic, and although i’m used to being a part of the massive pub quiz, gaming all the time and hanging around with my friends, it felt as though I was doing something just as fun. It was at this moment I realised that Insomnia is only possible for me to have such a great time when I attend thanks to the hard work and effort by the staff and volunteers at every stall which makes it such a fantastic event, and for me to be a part of that silent un-thanked group of people is satisfying enough in itself.

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Insomnia 48. Day 1

At Insomnia 47 I posted about entering the FIFA 1v1 Tournament. I won the 1v1 ‘fun’ tournament and came runners up in the 2v2 on following day. Although they were warm-up tournaments and don’t hold a lot of credibility, I still felt like it was an accomplishment in itself!

(Me shaking hands with Dave Witts upon winning the FIFA fun cup, I beat his son 2-1 in the final so he probably forced that smile. I will be working for /with him this event though!)

After the event me and Jack approached Dave Witts, the organiser of the event and the man who runs SweetpatchTV, offering our video making services. He was quick to reply and sound enthusiastic about our approach, which was extremely pleasing to say the least. We managed to work out a new plan for the FIFA tournament for i48 which involved a crowd seating area and a main casting desk with a PA system alongside what was the main gaming area for the rest of the tournament. In production value terms this in itself was already a massive step up to what insomnia 47 was like. Graphics were suggested, and conversations were passed back and forth between myself and Dave during the build up to i48, and in no time it was here.

It had given snow at midnight on the Thursday, meaning Friday driving would be terrible, so Jack decided he wanted to drive down late Thursday afternoon, we stay in a hotel overnight, then we are there ready for Friday morning with no snow worries whatsoever. Which proved a good thing because the snow became increasingly worse on our drive over, and after 2 hours of driving we found ourselves in a rather large amount of snow. Jack is an excellent driver though and handled the conditions well.

We stayed in the International Centre hotel for £65 between us for one night. Which in the circumstances was an excellent deal, and although we could’ve signed in to the uni accommodation, we didn’t actually know where that was.. And with it being so snowy by the time of arrival it was a journey too much and what we saw as unnecessary hassle. We put on the TV and went to sleep. Housekeeping came in at about 8 in the morning shouting housekeeping.. to which neither of us responded too, until Jack said, ‘Hello?’ but they didn’t reply, so we went back to sleep. Before our alarm call at 9, which meant the day was starting early!

When we first got there we were welcomed by the loud speaker system the main hall usually blasts out, and although it was only my 4th LAN event, it had that same sense of familiarity which I love. I recognised people from the last event, faces that is, it’s the same core group that seem to turn up every time, despite the weather! It makes me wonder what they do in their lives outside of LAN. Myself I try hard to create video content and be productive when time allows. Do they stay at home all the time? Do they have really good tech jobs? I think it’s the latter. People do have a misguided view on some geeks, that they stay at home in their mums basements and that is the end of it. When in reality there are some of the brightest people in the country attended these events. None more so than the Multiplay technicians, who blew me and Jack away with their intelligence and ability to think on the spot and get a problem sorted with the minimum amount of time, effort and fuss possible. Literally every problem, big or small (There were a lot of big problems, the main one being, how is it possible to have the Xbox hooked up to the tv, the pc and be projected on to another TV, whilst at the same time have the sound go through the large PA type speakers and be streamed live online which has the sounds from in game as well as the microphones. Literally I was clueless when this problem was posed to me. We needed help. Although now I can honestly say I respect what these guys do an incredible amount, because problem solving when technology is involved is a very difficult task. Inputs/Outputs, different cables, connecters, splitters. It’s all in my head ready for the next time I need it. And by I that I mean, I still have little idea as to what actually went on, but it was nice to look like I knew what I was doing for those short 5 or so hours whilst everything was being sorted out. There were literally always new problems coming up, if one camera was plugged in it would crash the pc. The Canon 600d’s would not connect to the PC without the correct software, which was impossible to get. The cameras themselves overheat so this is an extremely bad way to have a live picture. That being said we tried everything, but alas we couldn’t get it to work.

(The Streaming area, although full with cables was finally set up and looking good)

I was allowed to enter the 1v1 fun cup, which is what I won at the last event. As the reigning champion I thought I stood a good chance of doing well this time round as well, however the prize was £100 so that instantly attracted a better standard of player, and that coupled with my absence from playing for over 2 months, my 5-1 battering and elimination was humbling and just. That being said when I was at my best and playing well I don’t think I would’ve been able to beat the guy I lost too, he was really quite good, but didn’t make it to the final or anything, which again shows how good the competition was in the fun cup.

We then tried to do some interviews which failed again on the new pc. It was saying it had no audio, or it was extremely quiet. We thought it’d perhaps be the Rode microphone we had just bought, and we had turned the sound off. But we tried it on both of our pc’s (the windows and MAC) and it worked fine as both. We even exported the video as a .mp4 file instead of a .MOV to see if it would accept that but it didn’t seem to want to know. The technicians didn’t have an answer to this which was upsetting as this was our main reason for coming. To do interviews which could be streamed! Anyway, we went back to our desks scratching our heads, but it was about 7pm by this point and the long day had tired us both out. We sat and played 2 games of StarCraft, watched a little bit of Jerry Springer and decided we were way too tired to game, especially when our alarms were set for 7.30am. We had a bit of a treck to get back to the Uni Accommodation however as we had still never been. We went to the car to pick up our bags and saw outside. It was so snowy and cold, literally freezing. There was a van waiting outside the event hall who said he was going to the accommodation, although we knew it would be the slipperiest ride ever, and with that both me and Jack got in to the mini-bus. It was probably one of the most nervous I’ve been on the roads as every corners was a skid or a wheel spin, I gave a worried look to Jack about half way through, he looked pretty calm in fairness almost accepting his fate. Once we arrived, we thanked the driver who was a very nice man indeed and wished us a good time for the rest of our stay. You’d like to think that this is the end of what happened on this day, but no the story doesn’t quite end here!

So we go to check in at Wolverhampton Uni, Telford campus. We were given card keys as well as normal keys, My hands were bright pink and I was shaking pretty dramatically. It was frightfully cold. I stood for about 5 minutes in the cold trying to get my key to work but the door just kept turning red and wouldn’t let me in. By this point I couldn’t feel my fingers, I did call jack to see if he would come down and help me with my key, because I didn’t know whether I was doing it right or not or just being stupid because I was so tired. The security guard then came at about the same time as Jack appeared. He said laughing, ‘We’ve been watching you on the CCTV, you’re not supposed to do it like that, you’re supposed to just hold it until it turns green.’ He tried the door and it instantly failed. His laugh went as he confirmed the card was broken and it infact wasn’t my fault. But at least I got in to my room ok! It was really warm inside and I couldn’t wait to get in to bed. The next day surely must be better.. surely?

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