Thursday, July 02, 2015

Moar music or ... what is the sister missing ?

Can't believe it's around a month since I did a music post and even that was Eurovision inspired.

Bit tired at the moment and struggling for inspiration (not been sleeping much this week despite trying and the warmth leeches the energy away) but the random neurons have been firing again :

Sister's found the blog after just over 1000 posts and 10 years (with an 18 month gap). It's not that I've been keeping it secret, I just didn't tell anyone in the family. I know, I know, splitting hairs and all that.

She'd also like me to say a little about the two pooches they have there. There's :
Murph, captured there as a totally adorable gangly growing puppy with huge long legs and head attached to an ickle body. There was about to be bacon raining from the sky from my dad (left), hence the attentiveness. It was obvious then he was going to grow into a very handsome fella but he needed a friend. Enter Icey :

I hear that Icey's quite an affectionate pooch with a very active guard dog instinct. It'll be good to meet her some day. And look at Murphster there posing for the camera. "I don't always lounge on their sofa but when I do ..."

One of the things we usually do when we meet up is compare libraries. We share similar music tastes, me and the sister, although it's not identical. More like a big overlap in the middle. So while I like female vocals above most everything else, the big sis will go for people like Muse who I find a bit samey. Yep. Heretic reporting in. We'll often give each other ideas which result in us buying music we wouldn't have thought of getting before. With me, that's been Goldfrapp, Bat For Lashes, KT Tunstall and a few more like that.

But we haven't had chance to do that compare for ages. So the idea - what's she missing out on ? Here's a selection (and I may add in youtube links later after ... tired)

Kacey Musgrave - Same Trailer, Different Park. Interesting voice, nice songs. Not listened to the album proper yet (bit new), highlight is Keep It To Yourself.
Queen - Flash Gordon. Haha, very cheesy film, soundtrack matches it perfectly. One of Queen's best albums.
Zero 7- The Garden. Big sis put me on to these people. You have Sia's vocals, she's an unusual one. It's a fragile voice but so beautiful. Not listened to this album yet and I'm looking forward to it. May pick out a favourite when I do.
Massive Attack - Protection. I've had Unfinished Sympathy for a while which is amazing but have just recently been reminded about these guys by our Snow Queen who posted a link to (what was it ?) I think Teardrop. Soooo gorgeous a track with combination of piano and that ethereal voice.
Massive Attack (again !) - Mezzanine. This one is way better than Protection with Teardrop. I'll keep collecting Massive Attack albums when they get cheap.

Portishead - Third. Not their best, they must have been running out of ideas by this stage. Listenable but not as emotionally cutting as their earlier work.
Melody Gardot - Worrisome Heart. Gorgeous album that's a collection of tracks that work together. Recommended. Highlight is Love Me Like A River Does.
You+Me - Rose Avenue. Not bad, a good recommendation from our BrumPixie but it didn't really grab me that much. Maybe on more listens ?
Lucy Spraggan - We Are. Surprised that this one didn't grab me either after the brilliance that was Join The Club. Too much attention from the non-music people ?
Pretenders - 5 albums ! Lots of good stuff here but to be honest, get their singles collection. You won't miss much from the rest of the albums. And I have to listen to Brass In Pocket again.

Madonna's Rebel Heart didn't really grab me that much either - highlight is Ghost Town. I guess I'm measuring Madonna's albums by the exceptional Confessions On A Dance Floor and Ray Of Light.
Siouxsie and the Banshees - Spellbound. She has a reputation this one but is it deserved ? Not sure.
Plastiscines - About Love and Lp1. About Love has the stellar track Barcelona. It's worth buying just for that :-). Perhaps mediocre outside that.
The Veronicas - The Veronicas (the newest album). Another cracker from the Aussie ladies. Highlights are Let Me Out, Teenage Millionaire and More Like Me but ... I need an excuse to listen to the stunning Untouched again.

We're getting back to March now ... Yep. I've bought a fair bit ! But I try to get all my music cheap :-).

The Clash are an example with their Singles. Think Sainsburys had this for maybe £3. You know the Clash, Rocking that Kasbah.
Ed Sheeran is one I'll keep an eye on. His + album was a great start, hoping for more from X, although I'll wait for that to go cheap again.
The Staves are another group I'm keeping an eye on, their If I Was is still in that best seller selection. And it's a good album too with tracks like Don't You Call Me Any More and Let Me Down.

That's probably enough music for now ! Before I get to the Elvis collection that appeared ...
Or that. But that album appeared in the collection way back and I think the sister has deleted the copy I think I snuck on to her laptop. And then burned the hard disc.

PS Minions film - enjoyable, felt like it was missing something. Possibly judging it by the standards of the outstanding Despicable Me 2. Lots of laughs.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

The ABCs

I have that feeling of wanting to write something tonight but ... the heatwave we're having in Blighty at the moment is driving away most rational thought.

There are plenty of irrational thoughts happening (as a few people found out over the messenger service today !) and I think I managed to reserve some sensibility for the work stuff. Some at least.
I think someone's done that in the sky. It's darn toasty out there. Even toastier on the bus which is a bit like an oven at the moment.

ABCs ? I saw this one late last week on the Facebook and I can never resist a good meme like this. The answers won't all be the same as then but ... here we go !

A- Age: 6. Oh wait, you wanted my physical age and not the mental age ?
B- Biggest Fear: Isolation and being ignored. That sense of reaching out to people and not getting any response.
C- Current Time: 20.11 UK British (it's actually) Summer Time.
D- Drink you last had: Diet Pepsi with TONNES of ice. And no Mentos this time.
E- Easiest Person To Talk to: Everyone. For an introvert, I seem to be able to get people talking quite easily, although I do have a bad habit of turning the conversation round to focus on me. It should be about both.
F- Favourite Song: There's lots but the one that's stuck in my head for a few days is Dear Prudence from Across The Universe but that's because I'd not heard I Wanna Hold Your Hand for a while. There's also 03.45am No Sleep by The Cardigans, Cupid's Gift got treated to Wonderful You by Alisha's Attic and then there's Moon and Moon by Bat For Lashes.
G- Grossest Memory: My outsides for perhaps the last 5 years. They're trying to heal up now though.
H- Hometown: Bristol now but for a long time it was a not so little village in Lincolnshire.
I- In love with: Oh there's a question :-) There's a little lady out there who I hope knows that I really, really like her.
J- Jealous Of: Such a petty emotion. I try and avoid it. You can be jealous of those who have more, those who have what you want, those who have what you had. But ... do you really deserve what they have ? Were you the one to earn it ? I think that's the true root of jealousy. Ok, I'll admit to being jealous to people who have air conditioning in their homes.
K- Killed Someone? Yep. You will never find the body. Or the pixels that made up the body.
L- Longest Relationship: It must have been 15 years with a lovely Muttley called Scruff. Here's the old man again.
M- Middle Name: Bob, short for ... erm, not Kate.
N- Number of Siblings: now 1, it was 2.
O- One Wish: to have 2 siblings again.
P- Person who you last called: I can't remember, last one I messaged was SQ to check if she's ok. Last conversation with a friend was LTK over the messenger. Last phone call was with the boss (cos he's down south today) and last person I phoned was the mum and dad.
Q- Question you're always asked: Hayfever ? After I've blown out the windows by sneezing.
R- Reason to smile: Other people smiling at me and the memory of hugs. Last hug ? Cupid's Gift :-)
S- Song you last sang: Singing along to I Wanna Hold Your Hand.
T- Time you woke up: Hmm. Maybe 7am which was a bit earlier than I wanted to.
U- Underwear Colour: Blue.
V- Vacation Destination: Sometime soon I want to have a narrowboat holiday to check out whether living on one would be a realistic proposition. Also want to go to Le Mans for the race weekend and maybe even Spa for the Grand Prix, although Grand Prix racing isn't particularly great at the moment.
W- Worst Habit: Not doing me chores.
X- X-rays you've had: Several - left wrist was my first broken bone. Can't remember if Nose Job 1 had an X-ray. Barium meal to check out the acid problem (they found nothing, suspected cause - fat + stress)
Y- Your favorite food: PIZZA !!!
Z- Zodiac Sign: Scorpio. They of the sting in the tail.

A few shoutouts to finish with ?

Get well soon little lady who's off work at the moment !
Hello sister - welcome to the blog :-)
A big hand for LTK who's given me so much encouragement over the last few months.
And a big hug for someone who I hope is enjoying her time off in London this week.

Stay frosty ! If you can. And ... if you see anyone suffering from the heat :
Help them out (that includes pets that idiots have left in car-ovens too)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Thematic Photographic - Straight Lines

Ok, I'm a little late with this one (oops).

Not done these for a little too long actually ! It's a meme from Carmi Levy's excellent blog (linky) and the post for (erm) last week's Thematic Photographic is here at this link.

I rarely get good ideas for joining in with the Thematic Photographic but I was feeling wobbly in the sun at the bus stop this morning and a rare idea popped into a head that's usually still waking up at this point.

Straight lines ?
All the straight lines !

It was hot enough this morning that it was genuinely uncomfortable standing on the sunny side of the stop, I was having to lean up against the wall in the shade. But it was fairly ok on the bus and when I was walking from stop to work, that was ok too. Bit nasty on the bus on the way home though. Hopefully they'll allow me into the car park again soon because ... air con.

Air con is cool. Erm. Lovely. Sorry about the really bad pun.

Anyway ... Straight lines ! Lots in the wall, many in the bus shelter structure and the road is kinda straight too. Plus there's those shadows. There are straight lines everywhere we look. And ... a bonus ! Early Suzanne Vega song and didn't she start well ?

Yeah. It's gotten hot here and it's going to get warmer too. Nowhere near as dangerously hot as in places like Pakistan are suffering at the moment but still warmer than we're accustomed to here. I'm feeling it in slightly ill feelings when I eat and in gathering lightheadedness. I can deal with the light headed bit by drinking more cold things. And I'm highly likely at some point to raid the Costa that's sprung up just outside our work for an iced mocha.

But tonight it was ... let's just grab a little quote from what was appearing on Facebook tonight.
The Harvester waitresses are starting to recognise me ...
What could this mean ?
Uhoh. In my defence, one of them used to work where I do and was one of the canteen mob. They're a good mob down there and they know me fairly well from me legging it down there just before they close.
The sundae is coming ... THE SUNDAE IS COMING ...
Yes. The heat may be affecting me.
Yep. It's not about the shopping. It's about that sundae. I just happened to have a load of empty cupboards that needed stuff putting in them.

And 8 Mini Cornettos came away from the supermarket with me too. Oops.
Oh well.

One last pic before I put my head into an ice helmet. This one's from a conversation that was happening at work and I've been looking for an excuse to spring it on you :
I shall remember that the next time a Hot Lady comes up to me and asks for help. (And that "hot" is in no way a comment on her appearance, although she possessed that beauty that all women have. She was just looking for where the cold water is after being in a baking meeting room - honest).

Hope you're not too hot where you are. Warmth is good but we do like it to be a comfortable level of warm.

PS Shoutout to a little lady who I've thought of as a little-big sis for 15 years ... Feel better soon little lady !

Monday, June 29, 2015

Could it be ?

Let's see :

Wimbledon's on the telly.
I've been leaving the rain hat at home in favour of :
The Mexican* sunhat
Dumping the ever present jumper all day after getting to my desk
Feeling it was too hot for a coffee on Friday, instead having an Iced Mocha (there will be more)
Dresses getting shorter
Temperatures getting hotter (and hotter to come too)

It must be ... (don't say it too loud) ... summer ? Don't worry, this is Britain. There will be a thundercloud around the corner to return us to reality.

* Mexican sunhat ? This is a present from the sister and her bloke after they had a holiday over in Mexico. It even has a "Made In Mexico" label on it. I like this hat, although it's strangely about the same weight as my rainhat. It has the advantage of more ventilation and I will definitely enjoy wearing it over the summer.

Cheers sis ! It fulfils (someone else's) dreams :
That's a solid lifelong dream. Hats are awesome.

Yep. Half watching Wimbledon at the moment, as most Brits do with the sport of tennis for perhaps 2 weeks in every year. We tend to ignore it at all other times of the year. It's a good sport, the winner is almost always the better, stronger, fitter player. As in, the one who has worked hardest to deserve the win. And that should be applauded always.

Me ? My various frailties meant I could rarely train, because physical training tended to take the edge off my advantages. I did a series of circuit training last century (yep - I can say stuff like that with real meaning !) and all it did was take the edge off my extreme speed. I gained no actual fitness from it. Where training did benefit me was where I got the repetitions right. So with the cricket :

Being the first one to bowl in the nets and the last one to finish
Getting out in that back garden and hitting the balls I bounced off the wall
And walking wherever possible to get the miles into my legs.

That's something actually. Last week, I was struggling with a bad back that was increasing in pain levels and stiffness. My walking speed was down due to the back being too stiff to really stride out.

Then there was Thursday and huge amounts of positive energy coming from a darling little lady.

Friday morning ? Pain almost gone. Saturday ? Pain gone. Today ? Almost back to the full stride on the first testing of the skeleton since Friday.

Good times. I have to say too though, there's another lady who's been helping me out with making me feel a million dollars (pounds ?) by keeping up with the daft messages and pictures that I'll send her way. My biggest fear is the fear of being isolated and all sorts of people sending me messages help dispel that fear of isolation that leads to my personality shrivelling up into its own dark place.

But I have a few very good friends who remind me that I can be a Good Human Being. At least some of the time.
Just ask the door to door salesmen who DARE to knock on the door trying to shame me into buying their shoddy wares.

Just kidding. But I did get chuckles from two people today for the Coffee and a Donut pic. You know the one I mean.

Right - back to the tennis and wishing on our Brit girl who is locked in a massive struggle in the second set of her match.

And I think when I resupply at the supermarket tomorrow, I shall have to indulge in a cooling sundae. Yep. Arm will be twisted.

Last thought on the summer heat :
Or tea. That goes for tea too. Cya !

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Walking with Dinosaurs ?

Had a great night Thursday evening.

I don't get many chances to see Cupid's Gift but we managed to be in the same place at the same time on Thursday to watch Jurassic World. It was pretty close to her birthday too, so there were a couple of extra thingys in my bag. An Easter Egg too ! (Yes it was in date).

I must have chosen good things because I got hugs.

Hugs are awesome.

Movie ?

If you watched Jurassic Park, this is slightly different. It's in an established park and there's all the chance to do things Bigger ! Better ! With More Teeth ! We see a few old friends come back in with the dinosaurs. None of the original cast are involved, although there is a nice nod to the late great Richard Attenborough.

It follows the usual formula of having a few kids go off into danger they are completely unaware of (haha - where would plots come from if you couldn't do this ?). It sets up the various protagonists (human and dino) without those introductions outstaying their welcome. The action builds steadily into a massively spectacular and boneshaking climax. You feel for the characters (especially the dinos)

Almost the film of the year. (There's a few too many daft plot things in there for it to be a genuine film of the year). Definitely one of the best this year so far. My advice, watch Jurassic Park again first as a warmup. But don't watch JP2 or JP3 as these were poor and may discourage you from seeing what is a quite excellent movie.
Yep. Go see it.

Of course me enjoying the movie could have partly been down to the company ;-)

We get on really well me and CG. There are the text messages that bounce between us that always have me breaking out into that silly grin (no matter my mood before!) when I see/hear one come in. When we see each other, we'll talk until we literally have to be required to be elsewhere. On Thursday, the place we ate our after dinner movie (Coal's Bar - yum) was shutting. Yep. Last people there.

I was home before midnight, honest, after dropping off this lovely lady at her home. And not even knowing that I'd be at war with our work's IT would dispel that happy mood. Although I did wear this as a statement of what I thought of the pooters we're forced to slave over :
Mine is in purple. Purple rocks. And that definitely sums up my attitude when I have to walk away from the machine before it gets drop tested from our 2nd floor office window.

It would have been the dinosaur picture (modelled by avatar dwagon) but that was in the wash (oops, bad planning !).
Oh - I did a probably bad thing yesterday. I blame work's canteen for not having any decent meat for the sandwiches which forced me to go to the Mall for lunch. Yep. Forced. Honest.

I did manage to resist the Thorntons temptation (this is really, really tough) but ... somehow an iPad Mini 2 walked out of PC World with me. Oops. I've been investigating getting one of these for ages now, for the iOS games as well as using it for eBooks. I need to read more, it's bad that I've gotten out of the habit.

And now I'm (slightly) hooked on the Fallout Shelter game. It's a freebie to promote Fallout 4, which I am curious about but definitely won't get on release. The developer/publisher, Bethesda, have a well established reputation for making games that get an immensely popular reputation but aren't actually that great. Gameplay is everything in games and the Bethesda systems tend to be a little bit flawed. Plus we've seen a string of high profile games have disastrous releases lately, some of them (Assassins Creed Unity from Ubisoft) still don't work right and Batman Arkham Knight has been pulled from sale because it was so badly broken.

Advice - save your money and let other people do the real world testing on stuff. It's a timid attitude but we're not all loaded, are we ? Save your money until you're assured that it's worth spending. Bravery is an applaudable characteristic but does have its cost. And it's silly being brave over buying stuff, save the bravery for when it'll help people. Or is that heroism.

I'm having this strange urge for pizza plus my tummy is telling me it needs something inside it so I'd better go but :

Evenings out with Pretty Ladies are awesome
(My back agrees, it started releasing yesterday and it's pretty much pain free today - that's what a happy attitude can do !)
Be wary when you get bombarded with shiny offers
Trust other consumers over the advertising and sales people
Dinosaur movies can still be incredible.
And I've cleared enough cable recording box space to let me watch Interstellar tonight.

Now looking forward to Minions, the next Terminator movie and seeing Pretty Lady again.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

On those adverts ...

Someone posted a picture the other day which ... I had a look, I had a read and I thought ... Yep. That's absolutely spot on.

Here we go :
Hopefully that reads ok on a click !

Advertising is all pervasive these days. It seems like 90% of what comes through the door is junkmail. A lot of my email is ... advert junkmail. When you look at a website, you're assaulted by adverts that (unless you've got an adblocker) force you to wait until the advert loads before you can read the site.

There's another excellent Heinlein quote :
Do not confuse "duty" with what other people expect of you; they are utterly different. Duty is a debt you owe to yourself to fulfill obligations you have assumed voluntarily. Paying that debt can entail anything from years of patient work to instant willingness to die. Difficult it may be, but the reward is self-respect.
But there is no reward at all for doing what other people expect of you, and to do so is not merely difficult, but impossible. It is easier to deal with a footpad than it is to deal with a leech who wants "just a few minutes of your time, please - this won't take long." Time is your total capital, and the minutes of your life are painfully few. If you allow yourself to fall into the vice of agreeing with to such requests, they quickly snowball to the point where these parasites will use up 100 percent of your time - and squawk for more!
So learn to say No - and to be rude about it when necessary.
Otherwise you will not have time to carry out your duty, or to do your own work, and certainly no time for love and happiness. The termites will nibble away your life and leave none of it for you.
(This rule does not mean that you must not do a favor for a friend, or even a stranger. But let the choice be yours. Don't do it because it is "expected" of you.)
Be wary of those that demand ever increasing amounts of your time. Although if those people bring you joy ? I vote for joy.

With telly stuff, I rarely watch things live. I'm usually watching stuff recorded where I can fast forward past the incessant adverts. Unless the telly company are incompetent and don't schedule their shows properly. For the last episode of Agents of Shield, Channel 4 started it maybe 50 minutes late (I didn't keep watching after fast forwarding through 20 minutes of the end of In Bruges) and I had to watch it off their awful on demand service.

Some on demand services are ok. Some are terribly inefficient (Channel 5's used to overheat my last laptop). Some are really good and don't cause you any overhead past logging in (there are no extra ads on Sky Sports service, just those on the broadcast). Some are ridiculously obnoxious.

Channel 4's demanded that I disabled my adblocker and wasted quite possibly 25 minutes of my time over the course of a 40 minute episode. That's a few minutes before it started, 4 minutes for every break and more time wasted when their ad server couldn't keep up.

COME ON ! Adverts are useless if they cause annoyance instead of interest. And I am one of those people who will actively avoid a product (even if it's a good one) if I've been annoyed by the people selling it. Or I'll buy the same thing from someone else.

(My hd came from Novatech who had a slightly higher unit price than the rest - however the rest charged extra for delivery and had poor interfaces on their websites).

I do get that there's a certain necessity to advertising. Our content costs money to produce and advertising is one source of funding for that content. It's why we get seasons of shows like X Factor, Strictly, BGT and all the other phone vote shows, the votes help to fund the content.

But if you do the phone vote thing, I applaud you. That's your choice.
I'll be watching Jurassic World tomorrow, which will have probably 30 minutes of adverts and trailers before the show. The adverts will be ignored by either nattering or catching up on phone stuff. The trailers I don't mind, because they let you know about upcoming Good Things (or upcoming Bad Things like half the horror films out there). I would have avoided Tomorrowland as Disney-Meh and Mad Max as Too-Crazy-For-Me but ...

Tomorrowland - interesting trailer, cute film, very enjoyable
Mad Max - EPIC trailer, totally nuts, mindblowing film

And then there's the Interstellar trailer which had me : OMG I HAVE TO SEE THIS.

Some adverts are good. Some are really awful.

I've thought about activating the monetization here a few times because of the junk hits I get. These pages get typically 50 hits a day for maybe 1500 a month. It's a little elevated again this month, I may get 2000 hits due to those junk hits ... By that, I mean the patterns I see where there will be maybe 15 hits in a minute, perhaps a second. Sometimes the junk hits number 100 in a minute. That happens. I call those Junk Hits because that cannot be a real reader ! So I ponder the monetization as a response to the bots.

In amongst those junk hits are you lovely, lovely regular reader people. The Android-Chromes. The iDevice people. The ones who come here via Twitter or Facebook. The Win-IE8 people from a certain address I won't mention. The ones who keep coming back for more.
I think of it as a special little virtual hug every time I see one of those familar patterns on the hit logs. I can't decipher who it is. Google, Statcounter and the defunct sitemeter don't give me enough information there. But my brain always goes "Hey ! That's SQ !" or "That's Pixie !" "That's CG !" "That's LTK !" I could go on but you get the idea. I think it's awesome that so many wonderful people (you too CK !) care enough to keep an eye on me and how I'm doing.

What message would it send if adverts started appearing ? How would I feel if one of those special people got their device infected with something horrible due to something that a 3rd party advertising person put on here ?

Terrible. So the adverts stay away. Besides, the bots are probably all using adblockers so I wouldn't get any monetization from them anyway.

That brings me to my last point. One mantra of the web is "be careful where you browse to" (for there be nasties infecting your system). Well, with all pervasive adverts, even if you browse to a well known site (and I always use the Daily Mail example, not that I read that site) you may get caught by the not so well known site that serves up tainted content.

The internet is dangerous. Harmful effects come from tainted pictures (not just the porn!), anything Adobe has anything to do with, hell even certain text messages can break phones.

Be careful out there.

It's just really, really sad that advertisement people not only suck up our time, they make our lives tougher too.

Stay safe !

Monday, June 22, 2015

Life of Ben

I went back to see my mum and dad this weekend just gone.

I don't see them enough because it's a bit of a trek to do the 180 miles and I'm not quite as spring chickeny as I used to be (case in point - my back hates me right now). But it is good to make the trip up there to see them. And Ben the Staffy.

Ben's a real character. He's a lovely little(ish) dog. He'll give a good bark when he gets excited but he's extremely quick to go to a state of "Hey, this person is ok. Let's give 'em a slurp."
Ben will very quickly take a cue from mum and dad. If they act ok to a person, Ben will check them out, give them a slurp (he doesn't actually slurp too much now) and see if they'll give him a bit of fuss. He does like people does Ben, although he does show a bit of a neurotic tendency. He's getting old though, so not too much fussing and bouncing before he'll flake out. We don't bring my sister's dogs to mum and dad's place either now, they're a bit too young and boisterous for the old fella waving his stick at them.

Except Ben wouldn't be waving his stick, he's way too nice an individual for that.
This is Ben at the door to the kitchen. Behind that door were bacon smells and Ben was attempting to use his telekinetic powers to get the door to magically open. (No whining, just an intent stare at the door). And ...
Mind powers ! They work ! Bacon appeared ! (Which I ate - and felt guilty all the time due to pooch telepathic powers)

Here he is again with the "you don't want that meat scrap". He's actually eyeing up my dad's lap there for a cheeky scout of the table. He'll jump up on a lap and then have a crafty 360 degree scan of the table. But he'll only do that once. This is what he is worshipping :
Poor pooch to be tortured by such lovely smells. He will supervise the cooking too :
We don't think Ben has that long left. Maybe another year or two. His paw is managed with pain pills but his heart is getting weak too.

We'll miss him, he's a lovely dog and adores his people. We've been very lucky to have three dogs like that, Scruff, Goldie and Ben are all amazing in their own individual ways. Ben has a few years left him in yet I hope.

They're not pets, they're part of the family.

PS The rest of the family is good too. I might be the worst off right now with a bad back and the outsides !
Back - I have a nasty feeling getting too fat and having trousers that are too small is putting pressure on my old lumbar area injury. So I've bought some bigger trousers today and will try and maintain a neutral posture to help it.
Outsides - are genuinely improving still. But it'll take maybe a month overall for all the damage to clear and I can do damage in seconds that undoes that. Discipline required.
But on the whole - improving.

Good weekend was had. How about your weekend ? A good week too with potentially Mr Holmes on Wednesday (think I'll give this a miss to be honest) and Jurassic World on Thursday. Looking forward to that hugely.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Touched by disaster

That's a weird title I hear you say ...

My brain is the type that tends to have random thoughts firing off completely at ... random. Tonight's random brain cell firing was from a chat on the bus on the way home, we were talking about cars ...

How's that connected to disaster ? Valid question. Very valid question. The random neurons went from the circumstances of the car to more general thoughts.

How often have you been affected by a genuine disaster ? I can think of 3 times for me offhand and there's a few where disasters happened nearby but didn't directly affect me. The UK is pretty lucky for that, our land is geologically stable so no earthquakes, we rarely get affected by megawinds and our coasts are fairly well protected from freak waves.

First up is the one that touched everybody - September 11th 2001. I was over here at a design review when that happened. Some of the chief execs for the company hosting the review were on one of the planes. 2001 affected everyone, it genuinely changed the world. I don't think it changed the paranoia level of most of our intelligence agencies but it did give them justifications (excuses ?) for steadily increasing intrusiveness.

The second was the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 which is more widely known for what happened with the Fukushima nuclear plant*. Amongst the problems caused by the earthquake was widespread damage to Japan's industrial infrastructure. This included their automobile factories. This is about the time I was looking to change my Focus to something resembling a good car and the Toyota Prius, Honda CR-Z and Lexus CT were on my list, quickly being narrowed down to the Lexus for its quality.

*(This will be a tragedy for the planet because the good engineering was not recognised, the bad engineering caused knock on problems and set back the cause of nuclear power. What is the least polluting, outside of the low volumes of waste, source of power ? Nuclear).

Earthquake vs car ? They couldn't build them fast enough to keep up with the demand. There had been too much damage to the infrastructure. New CTs were taking ? 3 months to deliver ? I think. Used CTs were rare and almost full price for 6 month old cars. Compare that to now and Lexus seem quite desperate for me to think about having another IS. The infrastructure has been rebuilt and supply has caught up to demand. And I'm seeing a fair few CTs and IS's around, very few CR-Z (it's a nasty, ugly attempt and fails at being a sports coupe) and not many Prius.

The last time is the floods that affected Thailand. Where are most of the hard disc factories ? They were underwater in Bangkok at about the time I was looking to build Pumpkin. The result was that instead of umming and ahhing over whether to get a SSD drive for Pumpkin, it forced my decision because I was unable to buy a conventional drive at an affordable price.

Translation - I had to use a little fast disc with an old big disc from the last machine instead of a new big slow one. And I was able to catch up later.

Yep. I haven't been at all badly affected by disasters, although I've seen their effects from afar. I don't like to talk about things like disasters too much, you see way too much of that from the news media and it's far better informed (cough - Fox - cough) than what I'll know about.

But I do work with people who occasionally get dispatched off to help with disaster relief and I think that's awesome. It's them using the tools we give them for an incredibly positive purpose.

You might be thinking - how about the floods ? how about the hurricane ? We heard about the infamous Michael Fish hurricane report and the aftermath but it missed us completely. The Somerset flooding of a couple of years ago was fairly close to where I live but I didn't see any of it, outside of seeing waterlogged fields by the side of the motorways.

I've been lucky to avoid any real nasty effects from disasters. Being inconvenienced with buying stuff is of zero significance next to the real trauma and loss suffered by those caught up in natural disasters.

Looking back (in the pre-publish check that always misses typos and wrong words !), Chernobyl happened when I was 11. Can't remember how we adjusted to that but we were very nervously watching the news for the spread of the fallout cloud, with the news telling us about how it would contaminate the milk supply for decades to come.

Over to you, have you been involved in a natural disaster ? (Outside of bedrooms and unkempt gardens) Can you talk about what happened ?
I hope you weren't too seriously affected !

Cya and hope for good times.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Bring on the entertainments

The hype train is going nuts at the moment ...

It's E3 time, which is where the Entertainment industry tries to get you all very excited about the stuff they're coming out with. For me, it's the games. It's all about ... Buy our stuff. Preorder our stuff before we deliver. Kickstart our stuff.

But it's mostly about the getting you excited about stuff they want you to buy.
Bit like this post. I have no clue what's coming !

Yeah. The entertainment industry these days want our money. All our money. And they aren't that bothered about giving us all the product we want or all the product they promised. A big thing in the games industry at the moment is Downloadable Content (DLC), where they'll sell you the base game and then expect you to buy lots more bits and pieces for it. Flight Sim X is on Steam sale at the moment, you could buy it for £4 (I'm interested) with discount. All of the DLC (with discount) would set you back £177.

Crikey !

And you'd also be looking to spend £100+ on a flightstick and throttle to get the most out of that. I have a flightstick and throttle, I think it's essential for Elite. But I only spent £45 on mine (don't buy the Cyborg Fly5, it's trash, breaks early and the middle deadzone makes it awkward to use). My Thrustmaster Hotas X is a good bit of kit, I'm glad I ditched the Fly5 for it.

Where's this going ? I dunno ! I forgot. Oops.
So all this hype.

Try to resist. Trust your judgment, not the shiny promises made my the marketing men. Figure out whether you can trust your sources. They may be taking incentives to promote the good while ignoring the horrid (I put no credibility in games mags, they continually promote awful buggy rubbish)

Personally, I never buy stuff when it comes out. The exception is the new Elite and the WoW expansions when I was still playing. Why wait ? Because you'll see the opinions of others, there are rarely important spoilers and discounts are usually not too far around the corner.

Why pay full price when a bit of patience will save you cash ?

Who do I trust for opinions ? I watch youtube people like Totalbiscuit, Jesse Cox, Hannah and Kim of Yogscast. TB gives dangerous first impressions videos, his enthusiasm for gaming is very catchy and I've bought a few games on his recommendation (that I've subsequently barely played!) because he made them look awesome. Similarly, TB and Jesse will usually not hold back if they see flaws in a game. That's valuable honesty. I'm not so sure about other youtube people, the impressions they give for games sometimes ignores the terrible elements of those games.

But I still love watching Hannah and Kim stuff, they're the two Yogscast people who I still regularly watch, the interest has waned from the rest. They either play games I have no interest in or they've ... just gone terribly boring, puerile or childish and most of all, only funny in their own minds. But they still have big audiences so their target audience must like them.

Mentioning audience ...

I used to think of this blog as a bit of a guilty secret, based on the reactions of people when I told them about it. Think of the Heinlein quote "writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards." I like that quote.

Recently, when I mention the blog or send links to post, I've been seeing people tell me it's a really cool thing that I'm doing with it.

That's the lovely lady who keeps telling me the posts are great posts. (All feedback appreciated, good feedback sends me wibbly)
There's our new finance angel (and she is an angel, with a look that gets more action from us than the cattleprod that we knew her predecessor had hidden away for us)
And everyone else who keeps coming back.

I see the hits coming in on the hidden hit counters and think it's awesome that people are stopping by to have a look. It moves this away from being that guilty secret to ... hey ! maybe I'm entertaining someone, getting them to think about stuff or just getting a chuckle or a smile.

If I do get chuckles or smiles, that's a major win in my book.

Ramble Detector ALERT !

Watched Mad Max last night - awesome film. The promise from the trailers is fully realised. It's an epic thumping of the senses but also has a bit of story, lots of attitude and some pretty decent characters too. Thoroughly enjoyed this one.
Back to work - and it was 3 days before a teacake was on offer. I may have faded away.
(Except I'm nowhere near fading away right now, need to lose weight again !)
An amazing lady's birthday is coming soon, hopefully she'll let me get her something shiny.
I should be doing my hard disc upgrade while the cricket's on ! After this.
I'm trying not to rant about cyclists with attitude problems who ride on pavements and/or ignore cycle paths.
Steam and GoG summer sales are threatening my wallet but I have mostly resisted so far (the old classic Homeworld and I'll buy Creeper World too)
And Lexus summer sale is being curious too. Only had this car for 17 months and they want me in the next one already !

Last bit - don't succumb to hype !
Although saying that, I fully intend to not miss out on Jurassic World. Cya !

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Back to work ...

Hmm - that time again.
I wish.

Back to work tomorrow after a week off that I sorely needed.
That was me before I disappeared for my week off. I'm still feeling tired now but that's mostly down to the latest attempt to watch the whole of the Le Mans 24 hour race. I didn't, I gave up at 3am and started watching again at about 9.30am.

I've improved over this last week. I haven't done much, which was mostly the point. It was a rest and recover week to hopefully get some of my older strength back. The problem with my outsides has taken its toll in more ways than you'd think, plus work has been more stressful than ever lately due to :

Too much being expected of too few people (isn't this a universal constant ?);
Destructive IT changes (isn't IT supposed to work for you instead of get in the way ?);

Actually, that's just two reasons for work being stressful, although that too much work thing is a fact. I'm currently covering 2 gapped posts as well as the work I'm supposed to be doing. And it looks like the fella who was in one of those posts before retiring did almost nothing. I'm discovering all the gaps. We'll get help for those gaps soon but ... the straw's already broke and I need to find somewhere else in the organisation to work. Too many people are feeling that, which just compounds the problem.

Enough about work ! There's still a few hours of holiday left ...
Still, work has its benefits. There's a few awesome people I work with, although they're not all on the same site, we still keep in touch and help each other out. There's a nucleus of people with a can-do attitude. They're good to be around or be in contact with. I know one of them has led to a rise in the rate that I post stuff here. A few work people know about this blog but not many work people regularly look. One special lady does keep an eye on me though and I think that's awesome.
Yep. I mean it.

That goes for another very special little lady who keeps me amused with oft-crazy-always-funny text messages. Miss ya, not seen you for too long !

Ok, what have I been up to outside of sleeping and popcorn munching ?

I started off a trip (in game) to the centre of the galaxy in that there internet spaceship game. I'm back in the populated zones now though. The game hasn't been as stable as we'd like since the Powerplay metagame expansion came out and one thing that's broke is the Star-Nav (like a satnav except it navigates by stars, not satellites). You used to be able to plan routes up to 1000ly distance, which made it easier to plot a course to the centre of the galaxy (27,000 light years). I was lucky to plot distances beyond 130ly today though when completing the return trip.

Yep. Back in the populated areas now, I think I'll dabble in that metagame thingy for a bit if I do the internet spaceship gaming thing. I did 3000ly out, 2600ly coming back (return trip was more of a straight line) and the ship was only 12% broken. Hmm - that doesn't actually bode too well there, as if you multiply up the distance and wear by 10, then ship gonna break or get paper thin and very likely to break.

Been watching lots of cricket ! Both on the telly and for reals. Thursday saw the annual pilgrimage over to Lords for the Interservices T20 tournament in aid of our service people. That's a worthy cause always worth supporting, they've had a hard time lately what with Gulf War 2 and Afghanistan.

Wednesday saw me head off to Cheltenham because the car wanted to say hello to the dealer again (a "maintenance required soon" alert hadn't been reset). That gave me the excuse to wander around and hunt for shinies.

Coulda got more shinies to be honest.

One thing I did notice on Wednesday evening (after watching San Andreas - ok amusing but not great) was that the bounce seemed to be coming back. That's awesome. I was also bouncing round Lords on Thursday too.

That's encouraging. I have various parts of me that are pretty broken now (back, hips) but I've seen progress with my outsides, they seem to be genuinely trying to heal now although it's still a case of steps forward, steps back. Energy levels seemed to be recovering :-)

We'll see how that goes over the next week back at work. I suspect it won't be long until I start itching to throw the desktop out the window. On that ... I have something coming soon, which will be the second major upgrade this desktop PC will have had (the other was a graphics card). It's done well to only need 2 upgrades in 3.5 years.

Oops. I almost talked work again. Must stop that.

Enjoy the rest of your evenings !