Thursday, January 19, 2017

Decisions ... and perhaps a little wandering

I have a decision to make ...

Soon ! At the weekend perhaps even. And it could lead to .... more decisions ....

So - what is it ?
Shiny ? More shiny ?

The car gets serviced at the weekend, which will put me in the showroom about 6 months before the finance period on my current car finishes. Which means .... the sales people will really want me to acquire another new car.

What do I think of the IS300h I have now ? It's an awesome car. There are only a couple of things I would criticize with it :

The boot is pretty big but it's no hatchback. The car is a saloon style which means no really big things to go in there. It has a split folding rear seat but it's far from the flat folding arrangement that made the CT boot into a cavern.

The other thing is the seats, my back doesn't really get on well with the seats. I can still do the 3 hour to and from my parents without needing a break but my back has been stiffening up more of late and I'm pretty sure the car seats have something to do with that.

What are the options ?

Time for another pic :
That's my last car, which was another really good car. It was my introduction to Lexus and Hybrids and it was a pretty good introduction. Their customer service is excellent and I saw that across two garages, the one in Cheltenham and the one in Lincoln. You are made to feel much more welcome than what I'm used to, more welcome than the sheep dip approach other garages have.

The CT was an excellent car but it was a bit slow for me. The thing about the hybrids is that they will give you exactly what you ask for. Ask to go quick, it'll give you everything its got. Settle into a cruise and it's chill out time. Pootle along in traffic and it'll decide whether or not the engine should be on. But there is a limit there and the CT just didn't have enough power for me.

The IS is definitely more pokey. The CT does the 60mph thing in 10 seconds, the IS does it in 8. That's a bit more like my style.

There are faster hybrids too. Let's see ... the GS450h (bigger car, bigger engine and motors) goes to 60 in 5.9 seconds and it will do that every time you ask it to do that. A conventional car is limited by how you are as a driver, how you handle those clutch and gear changes. The bigger car is also less economical and costs more. It has much more power than I'm interested in having available. I'd miss the economy and cheaper insurance while not using the extra speed much.

One alternative is the GS300h. It uses the same engine and motors as my IS300h, it's just bigger and has more toys. This means it's also slower and thirstier. But ... those toys !!!! Intriguing. It's not actually that much bigger too. 3cm wider and 20cm longer, although that is that little bit much bigger than a car which I already find to be on the upper end of Big for what I like to drive around in. And Park. The IS would be difficult to park, although the camera turns parking into child's play.

They also have a sporty coupe with ... the same mechanicals as my car. That's the RC300h. Not sure about this one. It's pretty much the same car but slightly slower and less economical.

Everything else Lexus have is either too expensive or not really what I want. My sister has one of their NX smaller SUVs but ... too big for me.

I'll see what they have on offer but you can probably tell ... I'm very tempted.

We'll see what appears at the weekend. I'd like to be off the treadmill of a new car every 3 years. Yep. It's good to have New Shinies but ... it does cost. And I'd like to be able to start putting money aside for a boat.

I also have a bad back though and the facelifted cars have better seats. We shall see.
Toot Toot !

Oh ! Before I go. The garage trip is likely to lead to a wander around the Cheltenham town too. It's a good place. And it's a sign that my outsides are finally deciding to heal up. There's still a fair bit of damage to heal up but ... getting ever closer. Close enough that I don't have too many concerns about wandering around the town centre for a few hours.

I just hope I have the energy !

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Testing ... Testing ...

Is this thing still on ?

Apologies for not posting that much lately. I don't think there's any special reason for not posting much, outside of getting distracted in the evenings with streams to watch and feeling drained after throwing all I have into work during the day.

It doesn't leave that much coherent mental effort left for post writing.

But first ... a thumbnail pic is required ! We have had snow again ...
But it melted before we could make decent snowmen out of it. That's the Bristolian edition snowman, which I spotted on someone's Facebook yesterday. I can't take credit for the idea (or the potholes) but it did get lots of laughs from many people yesterday.

We got a dusting of snow here. Enough to make untreated roads and pavements turn dangerous. I used the Snow Mode on the car for only the second ever time ... What's snow mode ? It cuts back the power available to the motors and engine to prevent wheelspin and allow forward motion. I don't know whether it has something in there to stop you sliding when turning corners ... best not to trust that kind of thing to electronics anyway. It does things like stop the usual forward motion that you get from an automatic naturally when you take your foot off the brake. Effective too, the traction control lights only came on once during the trip into work.

I've been on the games too. Somewhat ... I'm watching two streamers regularly now. Heychrissa still but now Radderss also (links on the right). I'd also watch EnterElysium plus Totalbiscuit but not the regular podcast type content. It's enjoyable but ... time ? Not enough time.

Yep. It's good to relax, chill out and actually get involved with the content being watched. Youtube videos are disconnected from the community. They're usually recorded several days before release, so anything happening on screen is set. You can't give a reaction in or a little help on a Youtube video and the commenters are usually those that feel compelled to tell the world that they are more important than the content creator, often in a nasty way.

No - I'm drawn more to the streamers and streamer communities where it's much more interactive. A comment in chat will attract comment, chuckles and that feedback which is what I crave. Putting a comment into chat and seeing it get happy reactions ? Awesome.

Oh and it also gives me ideas to unleash the creative side of my personality that usually struggles for ideas. I like making Stuff ... I just find it difficult to come up with the inspiration for the project. Here's a before :
A first comedy edit for the Purple Chocolate Company Edition :
And ...
Radderss Edition to match a hair colour that starts blue and goes green. (Could do with a lighter blue aft but ... you work with what you have).

I've gone back into that ship now and it is ...
Shiny ! That's the first of the spaceship skins I bought over the Xmas period. Looks spectacular doesn't it.

I've also been enjoying a game called Motorsport Manager, although I am in a pretty grindy phase in that. The objective is to take the bottom team and have them win the championship and I'm doing that in two phases. 1st phase, build the infrastructure, the headquarters, the foundation. 2nd phase, win everything, destroy the competition, see their broken engines driven before us and hear the lamentation of their fans. (Bit of a Conan moment, I do apologise). But in phase 1, it is a Manor racing situation where my cars are several seconds a lap slower than everyone else. You get given time though in this scenario to let the plans develop. I'll be back in there later for a little more.

Back to the real world though - I've been blighted somewhat by pain over the last week or so.

I might have mentioned a poorly neck - that hasn't actually fixed, although it has become more tolerable. Until yesterday that is when the other side of the neck decided to join in too.

It's probably my sleep pattern and position, which is being affected by the condition of my outsides. They're improving !!! Slowly. And I can still set that healing back by over aggressively looking after the damage.

But it is getting there. Slowly. But I am seeing parts of me that were pretty damaged and problematic get reclaimed to proper good skin again.

About time !

PS Other news :
Rogue One - go see it.
Earth Final Conflict and Haven - am enjoying watching these. I missed out the first time.
Passengers - go see it. It won't be what you expected, more romance movie than scifi.
Assassins Creed - deleting it from my memory. Avoid !

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Weird Stuff You Think About When Attempting To Sleep

Sleeplessness is a bit of a bane of my life at the moment.

I can be yawning away in the evenings and be on the verge of sleep ... until the time comes to actually go to bed. Then I'll still be yawning away but ... not going to sleep.
Tis frustrating.

But my brain will also fire off in all sorts of random directions while I'm trying to shut it down for sleep. What are the daft ideas coming out of it lately ? I can't remember most of it because the ideas tend to evaporate by the time I wake up but ...
Lego Star Destroyer.

Yep. My brain was attempting to design a Lego Star Destroyer. You can still acquire Lego Star Destroyers but a medium size one (I think the microfighter one is a bit too ickle) would be £70 minimum on Ebay. A proper size one would be £200+. Mad.

I reckon I could design one out of bits. I think the Lego Millennium Falcon would give me pointers for things like the off horizontal wedge that dominates the Star Destroyer design.

Yep. Brain was giving me lots of ideas last night. I may even remember them at some point. Here goes :
Hinge pair pieces that let you make angles;
The angles would make the iconic wedge design;
Technic pins to put bits together;
More angle bits to create areas like the engines at the back stern;
I know how I'd do the shield domes and the energizer dome.

What is the source for this idea ?
There we go. Apologies for the blurriness on some of those. It's something like 1 pic for each bag of bits for the Falcon and shows it coming together. Lego is a bit of a discovery project as you see it slowly coming together.

The finished article looks great.


Yep. Feels good. What's next ? Most likely, a Metal Earth R2D2 which has intimidated me since I received it for my birthday. My first attempt at Metal Earth was an XWing which didn't go so well. Too fiddly.

There were other things bouncing around in my head too. The other night it was some kind of Hunger Games inspired montage where an orphan girl-lady-child was sitting on her bench in the bunker watching the situation steadily disintegrate around her. Conditions getting worse, things like plentiful water going to shortages and rationing due to policies from the politicians. The politicians made the ice miners into scapegoats and they're the ones who made the water available. I suspect the Hunger Games aspect came from remembering the movies that the actress in Passengers (Jennifer Lawrence) previously starred in.

Odd dream. Possibly inspired by the constant thought that's going into the impending writing of book.

I'm pretty sure I know what that book will be now. It'll be a scifi universe thing where a group of colonists have to escape their home planet in a rush, before that home planet annihilates itself in a civil war. There will be a huge amount in there that borrows from what we're seeing in the world at the moment.

There's a lot of struggle happening. A lot of it is down to the crowd and herd instinct making people go down some very dark paths. Intolerance making things difficult for those who are seen as being something different.

This story would start out as people attempting to escape that before it explodes.

Kinda wish we could do that with our current world ?

Writing the thoughts into a book would be a bit like escaping that world by making up a new one.

Last ramble for tonight - I watched Passengers last night. It was a great evening, I really enjoyed the movie and the company. The movie drew out a tear or two as well. Great story, dodgy scifi ... but scifi that worked in supporting the story. One of the central aspects is a decision ... which I won't spoil. I'd like to think I'd have made the opposite choice, although you don't know what madness will do to you.

No. I'd have written. I would have made up a person to write for and ... wrote to her. Bit like this blog !

It's a great film. Best film I've watched this year so far. Oh wait ... it's the 4th of Jan ! It's the only film I've watched so far this year !

Hopefully my brain will behave itself a bit better tonight and let me sleep more.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Thoughts about ... all kinds of spoilering

Ok,

So that episode of Sherlock was, as a very good friend likes to say, emotional. But I better not say why cos ... you know ... spoilers.

The thought got into me to talk a little about spoilers. Partly where I see them, partly what I do to avoid them. (Oh and I'll say a little about holiday Sleepy too). But first ...

Happy new year !
May you have an excellent 2017. And definitely a better year than most people's 2016's seem to have been. My 2016 was mixed I think. I'm in a better situation now than I was in at the start of the year. I still have the problems with my outsides which I hoped would have been fixed by now. The condition seems to be constantly evolving. But more about that in a bit.

Spoilers first. All the spoilers.

I've gone kind of out of my way a couple of times recently to try and get the maximum enjoyment out of a few things by not getting spoiled as to what's going to happen. There's things like :

Rogue One - seeing that as early as feasible because I just knew it was going to be spoiled. As it happens, for this and The Force Awakens last year, spoilers were fairly easy to avoid. For me at least, I was seeing reports of malicious comments coming in to the internet personalities which were detailed spoilers. I can avoid that but the internet personality people can't. It's no wonder some of them turn reclusive.

I just finished watching Sherlock and there is massive spoiler potential in that. A reasonable episode I thought, although it was really dragging in its first half hour. It warmed up though. The author tends to be a bit too impressed with his own cleverness sometimes, we see that in Doctor Who as well.

With the cricket, I try and watch that as live. If it starts in our early morning, like an India tour typically starting play at 3.30am our time, then I'll record the weekend's play and watch it time delayed. I enjoy having it on more there, where I don't know what's going to happen.

(And then I get bored and fast forward until Important Things actually happen)

It's a sense of not wanting to know what's going to happen, before it occurs. We enjoy the surprise more if we don't know exactly what's coming.

The ending of Rogue One was definitely unexpected. Well. Part of it was expected, part different. I was very curious though, because I've played through a similar story to what was happening in Rogue One through the X Wing game. Or rather, I played a little of X Wing (it was a very tough game, unfair daft missions meant I gave up when the enjoyment evaporated). That game is set around the same time, in the lead up to Star Wars A New Hope and part of it involves how the Rebels get the Death Star plans.

The game is still available on GoG if you really want to slog through it but ... that timeline is wholly gone now and there are far better space games out there.

And I am still silly tempted by this space ship skin :
Shiny.

PS Go see Rogue One. It's an excellent movie. And they got the excitement going for it supremely well, hyping it up through the trailers without giving away too much of what would be happening in the movie. Good job.

Contrast that to a certain Terminator movie, which gave away a critical plot point in the trailers and ... in the animation reel in the menus of the bluray/dvd. The people responsible for that need to have every major movie spoiled as they go in. Or similar punishments like being forced to watch BBC. (I suffered through the last bit of the new Open All Hours ... it was a pale shadow of what Ronnie Barker created).

This holiday has been a fairly chilled out one. Some repairs have happened, some damage has occurred. Same old story huh .... Gaming has happened, perhaps a bit too much gaming. I've done another couple of stay up all night events ... One was planned and involved pizza. Because I don't seem to be able to have pizza at the moment without a sleepless night due to acid attacks. If I don't go to sleep, I can cope with the acid better. (It is much more unpleasant if I'm lying down).

The other one involved Stellaris ... the space strategy game. At 4am this morning and still going strong it didn't seem worth going to sleep. Besides, there was a big metal mystery globe examining a black hole and I wanted to know what it was up to. And the latest race is pretty mean. They've got a sufficient lead now to allow them to go to a total war mode now, steamrollering the galaxy before them.

How am I doing though ?

I'm learning more about my external condition. I don't think I can use the Aveeno any more, which is a shame because it seemed to be helping out a fair bit. My outsides are still dry but that's a consequence of how much damage I have. With the Aveeno moisturiser, it dampens but also leaves behind something which I don't think is helping.

Oh well. It did really well for a time and I have a back up plan, next time I go shopping I'll pick up some Eurax ... another special moisturiser that I've heard good things about from multiple sources.

And my outsides seem to be trying to heal themselves on their own now. I just have to figure out how to protect them for long enough for them to fix up. And not redamage them ...

That's the real trick though. I'm used to going : IMPERFECTION .... DESTROY !!! Which just leads to the damage lasting longer and getting worse as I attack bad bits. It does feel as if it is trying to fix though, which is a welcome change. May that continue ...

And I'm rambling ...

Spoilers are bad. Try to avoid giving them out because you'll wreck someone's enjoyment if you do. And it's not funny. Far too many people on the internet have the wrong idea of what's funny. Something funny to one person can completely crush another. Or it just may kill off a series. I read all of David Weber's Honorverse books up until the last, which I didn't finish. I actually spoiled myself on the wiki pages ... which broke all motivation to read the 1200 page book. May have saved myself some pain there.

May you have an excellent 2017. Hopefully I finally fix up !

Something I saw earlier (A Facebook nametest site thing) said I'd find the object of my dreams at London Excel arena. There happens to be a boat show there next week ... Not narrowboats though. Barges are off the table (water?) there.

I have lots of new music to listen to ... A bit of raiding happened while I was at my parents house (old stuff, still good). And donating a bit to the Yogscast jingle jam got me a bunch of awful games which happen to have some promising soundtracks. I doubt whether I'll ever install the games (except to raid the soundtracks) but I've been enjoying some odd music from them.

And I'm looking forward to watching Passengers on Tuesday too.

Not long until we go back to work !! It'll be a fortnight off for me but it's absolutely flown by. I don't feel quite ready to go back yet. Not bored enough yet. Or is that me not feeling the bored due to having been awake for over 36 hours now.

Could be.

Post and zzzzzz !!!! Nite all, have a great new year with much enjoyment that isn't spoiled for you.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Puppy, Shiny, Family .... Munchie ?

I'm back now after going up norf to visit the mum and dad and ...
Puppy !

Rather old aged puppy now. He has his own emote now :
(pic is blocky because it's blown up severely from the 112x112 you have to use for the emote)

It's heyOAP (old aged puppy) on the Discord server that I keep an eye on. Cos it's a gamer community with a bunch of good people. That one was a classic Ben pose as he was enjoying himself bouncing around the garden. I made the pic above for the server to replace an emote they like using ... which has issues with copyright. No such worries with that pic, the copyright is mine ! Or perhaps the parents on behalf of BenPup.

He's getting on a bit now. He still has a fair bit of his old bounciness but that is moderated by continuing pain from his paw, quite possibly stuff going wrong with his insides and a need to disappear off for sleeps. But that personality is still in there and we'll remember the Ben long after he's gone. Just as the fam remembers Goldie and Scruff.
They're only here for part of our lives but we are there for all of theirs. Or at least as long as they are with us. Ben, Goldie and Scruff were all rescue dogs who we took in after a few years of their lives. They're only here for part of our time but they definitely leave their mark.
They give us fun with their play;
They give us their unconditional love. (Usually in conjunction with how much food is on offer !)
And they protect us as well. Here is Ben keeping an eye on what's occurring in the back garden. He'll check out the front of the house too, especially with the lamp post which is a bit of a local check in board for the local doggies.

I don't think Ben has that much longer with us, although I see it as a bonus that he's had much more time with us than I thought he would. He's a very old dog now, more asleep than bouncy.

It is great to see the family again though, even for the shorter times I can manage with them before my outsides decide to be uncooperative again. They need to be kept clean, including getting rid of the debris from them healing but ... too much attention makes them worse. I'm still improving on the whole though, it's just that a few days away from the house doing stuff like wear socks all of the time (bad ankles - remember) takes its own toll.

But it is getting there.
As was the puppy in his excitement watching us having the Christmas dinners.

We don't do the presents particularly any more, although the dad did get copies of the Neil Diamond and Status Quo albums that appeared in the library over the weekend. Somehow, there are almost 300 new tracks still to listen to in the music library. Ok, a massive proportion of that is from game soundtracks ... I'm still on the hunt for an album by Lisa Hannigan that hasn't come down in price enough yet.

I also have another keyboard ... It's a Steelseries Apex M800. It's a mechanical keyboard, which means that instead of an array of pimples in a membrane keyboard, it has proper key switches. It's a much looser feel than my last keyboard, which felt very stiff. I didn't really get on well with that one. Erm ... it's actually a £150 keyboard, so I'm hoping for high quality from it. I didn't pay £150, there was £70 off in the sale plus I got another £50 off through a voucher that was about to expire.

Happy times. It does feel good under the fingers too (although one finger is held up a bit by having a plaster on it.) And it has lights that follow what I'm doing too. I'd take a picture but the light change on keypress decays to normal before I can get the camera ready.

It's good to be back for some rest, relaxation, recuperation and general lazing about. I have a week now before heading back. There will be much video watching and computer game playing in that week ... Let's see :

Internet spaceships with the Elite piloting;
Not-so-Internet spaceships with the Stellaris strategy;
Supersoldier hijinks in the Deus Ex's;
Otherworldly factory building;
Motorsport managing;
What else ... maybe a bit of sail boat shenanigans too.

Must get back into the books too.
And sleeps too. I should note there that no Ben's were woken up when taking these pictures. He can hear the camera shutter noise the phone makes and it wakes him up. So I'm either taking the pic from the other side of the room or being very careful.

He does get copious amounts of fuss though in return for these pics :-).

And he got the leftover pigs in blankets from Xmas/Boxing Day dinner. We shouldn't really give him stuff like that (because it makes him ignore his proper doggie formulated dinner) but ... that face.
How could you resist the Gaze of Pup ?

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas Break Time !

Got some time off now.
It feels like it has been a long year but it's also a year that has flown by.

Me ? I feel really tired now but I think I'm also getting more of my own potential back. A few years ago, when the illness with my outsides was at its height, I felt like my capacity was down to maybe 30-40%. Now, I'm getting back up to the 80s. Still not back to how I should be but much closer. A lot of that has been down to :

Generally improving, although that's got up and downs to it;
A better situation at work;
Figuring out what I enjoy and what I haven't been enjoying so much.

With my outsides, it feels like it has moved on again. A few years ago, I had a raging infection inside me that wasn't going to kill me but it was exerting its own ravages on me. Now the damage is restricted to a few stubborn areas that are refusing to heal up correctly. I'm still my own worst enemy there as I'll attack the half healed areas, causing more damage to them.

But it is on the whole, improving. I wanted to be clear of the damage by this Xmas but ... it's going to need a bit more time. Hopefully the Xmas break will give it a chance to clear up some more. It feels like a very long road back but ... at its height, this problem affected more than 50% of my outsides and I can still remember knees so swollen it was painful to walk. Hell, my kneecaps were disappearing under the swelling.

I do apologise for the gory details !

Work has improved, although I am still a little too far away from the engineering and too close to stuff dealing with Change. I won't go into that any further though. It's Work Stuff.

And with the enjoying thing, I stopped trying to keep up with Information Overload and focused back on less. There simply aren't enough hours in the day to waste some on what you aren't actually enjoying.

Be ruthless with your time !!! If you aren't enjoying something in your spare time, cut it out. Do something you do enjoy !

(But pls keep reading! Haha)

If you feel like things are getting too much for you, it's ok to step back and take it easy for a while. Perhaps talk to someone about it and see if they can share the load. I suspect you will find someone who will be overjoyed that you trust them with your problems and they'll be super chuffed that you went to them (in particular) for help. Because going to someone for help is a sign that you trust them and saying "I trust you" is one of the biggest compliments I think someone can give.

So what have I been enjoying ?
The new Star Wars movie is a cracker. The story is actually pretty good this time around and the characters fit in there well. It's a much grittier story than what we usually see in the Star Wars universe. I've seen it twice now and will probably buy it early on bluray instead of waiting. Unless I find an excuse to wait like what I'm doing with Star Trek Beyond. I still have a few Star Trek movies to go before I watch Beyond again.

Xmas movies - I have Where Eagles Dare, Zootropolis and The Jungle Book (new one) lined up to record. But only because the timings work out. I have the latest Hitman movie recorded too, must watch that some time.

Gaming wise, I have gone back into the Stellaris time sink game again ... It's a great space strategy game ! It has its flaws and bugs but I can work around those. My latest race is one that is designed to live anywhere and spread across the galaxy. It's also peaceful, which is an odd style for me to play in this game. But it's just getting to the point where I can invite people into a Federation and from there, I think I can incorporate them into my empire.

I got the Factorio game past the early stage too, there is still a little more to do before the factory ends up being self sustaining but I should be able to take that one through to one of the hard mode achievements. After maybe .... 20 more hours of gameplay. Ok. It may take a while.
And then there's the Internet Spaceship game. I can see me enjoying moseying around the galaxy in that over the next week or so.

I don't think I'll be buying the Chrome paint job in the pic above. The cosmetic stuff in Elite seems a bit of a waste to me. You only really see it when you're in the Debug Camera mode (i.e. not very much to be able to justify £3 for a paint job). Current targets in Elite are :

Slowly make more money;
Mission run to get the rank up;
Join in with trading community goals;
Generally chill out.

And I've been able to keep to that pretty much. I did lose another ship though, I tried to take on too much combat with my medium sized Asp ship before getting used to the new guns it has. The result was a broken canopy and running out of air ... just as I emerged from the warp drive trip to the station. So close. Hopefully it won't take too long for a ranking up mission to appear too.

What else in terms of the games ? The Steam Sale probably starts tonight ... in just over an hour. I can definitely see More Game being added to the library. Especially if they have interesting soundtracks with them.

AI Wars is another space strategy which I should have checked out a few years ago. Add that to the Factorio, Elite, Stellaris and the Deus Ex game which frustrated me with crashes. Lots of games.

And music too - I wonder how much I'll listen to over the next few weeks.

I suspect more than just new games and music will appear too over the next week or so. This keyboard has been ... ok. But I don't feel like I really get on well with it. Plus it can be pretty difficult to lock in for the touchtyping when the room gets dark. I have been eyeing up mechanical keyboards, although these are expensive. I kinda wish I could still find an older clicky keyboard that I had. I have no clue where that one is now, which is a shame cos it was a great keyboard.

I've gone through a fair few PC peripherals over the last few years. For me, a keyboard has to dance under your fingers and not feel as if it is slowing you down. I'm a pretty fast typer too so a keyboard that slows me down gets irritating fast. This one feels a little stiff, which is odd because I usually bash keyboards into submission after a while. That's not intentional, it just seems to happen. (I type a lot)

Getting hungry too ...

While going to places like the pizza shop have had a bad effect on me (the cheese leads to acid), I had a happy trip to the local Harvester again on the Monday night before shopping. Actually after shopping, which is a really bad idea because shopping while hungry ? You buy more junk. Anyway, after feeling grotty for most of Monday, I felt human again after that Harvester meal.

Good food is good for you in more than just banishing hunger. Says he who only had popcorn and junk yesterday. Oops. That's Stellaris again, it will lock me in to playing it to the point where I forget to have any dinner and forget to go to bed too.

And with that ... I better skip away again.

If I don't post again before the day, have a great Xmas people ! Or alternate holiday. I hope you do get a break !

And go see Rogue One too. It's a cracking movie. I'm hoping that Passengers is equally as good, I'm looking forward to watching that one soon too.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

5 to go

I'm exhausted !

Even more exhausted than I can remember being before.
I'm quite looking forward to the Christmas break. I feel as if I'm past the end of my endurance again. That's a little false though, because I'll be up again and will throw myself back into the work again tomorrow.

I'll do that. I'll throw all my energies into the work during the day, stagger home and not have much left for me. That's fairly usual to be honest. It's why I've taken to chilling out watching other people play games via streams, instead of playing the games myself.

It was fun playing through the XCom 2 story though. I had seen it before from watching videos ... but there is a closer connection when you're the one pointing the soldiers in the directions to go. When you customise your soldiers to include friends. They did a good job with the XCom reboot games, the first iteration in the 90s were a bit too much. They had annoyances in the gameplay that interfered with continuity and fun. The new games have a similar sense of ULTIMATE TERROR induced by the possibility of your people getting sudden death at any moment, especially if you advance too quickly into exposed positions. And they're quicker to play through too.

Plus the games can be a kind of escape from this nasty real world we find ourselves in. Like :

Avoiding seeing politicians appear on the telly (I have the news on mute at the moment)
Escaping into a nomadic life among the stars, wandering around trading and exploring
Building on new worlds, new places

And all the rest of it. (Am tired, inspiration is lacking).

That's something actually. The inspiration thing. I'm a little sad that the person who I rewrote the song for last week (American Pie, Kim Edition) apparently never looked at the song. I like to have feedback for what I do and you can't get feedback if the person never even looks ! That's really sad. But I expect it now from that particular person. That won't stop me writing stuff inspired by stuff she's said though.

Enough of the anti-stuff ! I hope that person comes out ok, from the little I've seen on the recent videos, she's pretty messed up at the moment and that's not something you wish on anybody. You have to pick your battles though and I much prefer to talk to a different few people.

The big reason why I still keep this blog going is to stretch myself by writing thoughts down. By allowing my mind to go to new places, do new things. One day, it's a meme. Another, telling people about the games. The next, doing something completely new like rewriting a song. Never done that before.

But even if it's a blog written for me, I do still like it when other people have a look. When people give me feedback like telling me that I've written a great post. When friends ask me about what I've written. When someone on the gaming discord sees the song and tells the discord (chat) server that they enjoyed singing the song to themselves.

Yep. I got a big kick out of that last one.

I get the warm fuzzy YEY feelings whenever someone comments or otherwise reacts to what I write.

So, it's not just for me. I'll listen to people around me and some posts are born from reacting to questions or what people have done around me. Attempting to pull out the positives when I can.

Cos those positives are what I look to be around. There's a lot of Bad in our world at the moment. You'd be forgiven for thinking that the world has gone mad at the moment. The book that's in my head at the moment may end up being a bit of a satire, as a reaction to what's been going on in the world. I try and avoid talking about that here, you see too much of it on the news and I doubt whether you really want it here too.

Where was I ?

I do like stretching what I can do by trying to write about different things.
I like reacting to what other people say or do.
Pizza the evening after fish was a Really Bad Idea.

Am tired now, got 5 working days to go before I disappear off on Xmas leave. But I am looking forward to that leave, it should be a good chance to get a little more repairing in, definitely a chance to regain some energy. I crashed really hard in town last week ... definitely stayed out a little too long. We have our work Xmas Munchie on Thursday, I can't see me staying too long after. Too exhausted.

I'm looking forward to seeing Rogue One too. As someone who has followed the Star Wars since a boy, this one definitely has my interest. I think I'm more intrigued by Passengers though, which comes a week after.

Lots to look forward to. Hopefully some of that will be sleep tonight ! Last night was a bit of a disaster for trying to sleep. Pizza led to lots of acid, it was pretty unpleasant trying to get to sleep with that. I do occasionally listen to the protests of my body to stuff like that. I think it was a combination of fish on Sunday, which tends to make me bloated, combined with pizza which causes the acid. Not a good combination for me apparently.

May the Xmas break be restful and filled with lots of quality sleep ! And games too. Because I have a backlog of games which intrigue me and doubtless, more will be added to the collection in the Xmas sales ....

Hope you all have restful Xmas breaks too.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Songs, old songs, new songs

I've been doing something new ....
Nope. Not that. Although I have started building my Lego Millennium Falcon.

Nah. As the post title says, I've been rewriting the occasional song. Just two so far but ... who knows where inspiration might lead at some point. I'm not an instinctively creative person. My creative bent tends to be restricted to modifying things that other people have done. Seeing good aspects and improving on them, translating potential amusement in my head to things I hope other people appreciate. It's one reason why I keep up with the writing here, so I can develop that sense of making new things.

It does mean I have a huge amount of respect for people who are creative like that. I'd like to be more like them.

Songs ?

Songs. This all started a month or so ago when I rewrote 12 Days of Christmas for a Twitch streamer that I've been enjoying watching over the past year. That'd be Heychrissa (see link over on the right) who has a community so good, I signed up to join in. I've even subscribed. People as good, as lovely, as quality with the streaming as this need to be encouraged so they stick around and do more. And one way of doing that is by joining in with positivity and even ... a subscription. Because if people can't afford to do things that YOU love, in this case streaming video games, then they're forced to go off and get a different job. And we lose that source of enjoyment. More about that in a bit.

The first song for today is 12 Days of Chrissa. I think the idea for this came from her community talking about potential Christmas songs for our Queen of Saltiness Chrissa to sing for Xmas. Her anxieties mean we won't see that (I think !) but the warm comments I got from posting it made my day. Here it is ! 12 Days of Christmas is a very long song with all the verses, so here is just the end one :
On the Twelth day of Chrissa my true love sent to me
Twelve chatters chatting
Eleven beams beaming
Ten kids a-DEREing
Nine Gifs of dancing
Eight Subs a-subbing
Seven hours of streaming
Six games a month
Five Du Hasts !
Four awkward faces
Three tea cups
Two awesome mods
and a Lady on the Twitch screen
There are some very in-jokes which only those in the community may understand but we liked it. Perhaps a bit too in-jokey for full release perhaps.

This next one is the new one. The Kim of the Yogscast who I used to write a fair bit about posted a video saying how she is giving up the youtubes. I haven't watched much that Kim has come out with lately (had to be more selective with what I watch, not enough time to watch the amount I used to ...) but I do remember some old series, like The Last Of Us, very fondly. Those old videos laid bare a wonderful, lovely soul who was sharing a certain degree of magic over the interwebs.

Kim asked on the Twitters today "Are there any particular videos we'd like to see on her channel before she pirouettes off in to the sunset next year". Youtube is becoming more and more hostile to content creators at the moment, to the point where people are abandoning it in favour of the Twitch streaming service. Good on 'em, I hope they succeed (see above comment about supporting good people making nice things !). People should be able to do what they enjoy doing.

That comment made me instantly think of her Xmas video from a few years ago "So This Is Yogscast", which I thought was absolutely magic. And it got me thinking ... what if she made another one ?

Here is ... American Pie, Kim edition. Try not to weep like I nearly did when writing certain bits !
A long, long time ago,
I can still remember how new videos
Used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people like
And maybe they'd be happy for a while
But recently, it made me shiver
With every video I'd put up here
Bad words in the feedback
I couldn't take one more crack
I can't remember if I cried when I
Read about youtube gone bad
But something touched me deep inside
The day the videos
Died

So bye, bye this here Youtubing life
Did my doodles of the noodles but the noodles were gone
And them good old subs were asking to twitch you cry ?
Singing this'll be the day that I fly
This'll be the day that I fly

Did you trust the youtube line
That said create, upload and online
If the Google tells you so ?
Now do you believe in subs and likes?
Will new vid views see some upspikes?
And can you teach me how to smile, again?

Well, you know that I'm going to twitch
Cause youtube is being a bitch
A better platform for you
A place to truly be you
I was a pretty bouncin' youtube gal
With a flower in my hair and your fluxy pal
But I knew I was out of luck
The day the video died

So bye, bye this here Youtubing life
Did my doodles of the noodles but the noodles were gone
And them good old subs were asking to twitch you cry ?
Singing this'll be the day that I fly
This'll be the day that I fly

I saw a place where people play
And I asked chat happy things to say ?
Then chat said, we love you Kim,
I went back to that old youtube
Where I'd put the videos years before
But the stats said the videos wouldn't pay

And in the comments, the people cried
The watchers sighed and the likes all dried
But not a word was spoken
The view counts all are broken

But now this song, it must end
For Nano, Kim and the Fluxy Friend
They caught the last flight to new ground
The day I turned streamer

So bye, bye this here Youtubing life
Did my doodles of the noodles but the noodles were gone
And them good old subs were asking to twitch you cry ?
Singing this'll be the day that I fly
This'll be the day that I fly
Hope you like.

One last comment - songs should make you feel. Videos should make you feel ! I'm noticing this more and more. It feels like my emotions are opening up again after being somewhat closed down through my school years. I still suppress a fair bit but ... the feels definitely come out more.

Whether it's blubbing in the cinema to Interstellar, always having a tear at certain parts of Bolt and ... almost abandoning the American Pie rewrite due to it almost bringing out a tear or two again.

And I'm not afraid to admit it !!! Having feelings is good. It shows you're alive.
Even if they do lead to an imminent need for cuddles.

PS Addon message for Radderss - found you via the Yogs Jingle Jam, thought you were amazing on that. A great character in a lovely person. Looking forward to watching you more ! But am holding off until you're through the Mass Effect (too much stuff to see, watched ME1, 2, 3 last year again with Chrissa !). If you'd like a song rewrite, let me know, give me ideas, will see what I can do :-).
PPS For anyone else reading this, check out Radderss. Link on the right in the Lovely Gaming People list. I'm rather enjoying listening in to a stream at the moment.

PPPS Check out Jean Michel Jarre : Calibrations : (link to original video)
Calibration!

Human; Not Human
Turian; No Turian
Love; Not Love
Calibration!

Archangel; Not Archangel
Garrus; No Garrus
Normandy; No Normandy
Calibration!

Calibration!

Rave; No Cat Rave
Extranet; No Extranet
Future; No Future
Reaper Invasion!

EDI; No, No EDI
Probe; No, No, No Probe
Uranus; No, No, No Uranus
Calibration!

Choice; No Choice
Paragon; No, No Paragon
Renegade; No, No, No Renegade
Garrus; No, No Garrus

Calibration!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

How much tech ...

I saw someone ask a question today which got me pondering : "If money were no object, what would your ideal PC look like ?"

Let's see. Mine would actually be a couple, similar to what I do already. One can give all of its performance to games, the other can do everything else like the music, limited web streaming, lots of web browsing and the email. I don't even have email configured on my desktop !
But first ... it's that time of year again. Christmas avatar is here ! Quite a good dragon that one I think.

Yep. I run two computers at the same time, with the phone and iPad there as well. It wasn't planned that way, I'd have run with just a desktop until I figured out how portable laptops could be. I had a laptop left behind when an ex-partner left and didn't want to waste it. A small iTunes library from then has subsequently grown rather massive and migrated across 3 more laptops since then. And I can take the laptop and music library with me when I go places. I wouldn't want to be without the music. It's great actually, I occasionally buy cds and import them via the desktop ... and then never use them again. Instead of breaking them out, I can carry many hundreds of albums on the laptop.

So at the moment, my ideal computing setup involves :

A laptop - which can run iTunes. If I were to buy today, I'd get another ultrabook style laptop. This time it would be from PCSpecialist, as the typical ones from PC World seem sub-spec and heavy. Apple are at that point where if they change any further, they will be impossibly anti-consumer. I think Apple are there already to be honest.
A desktop - to run the games. I also use the desktop to watch video, watch streams and general internet browsing. And for the occasional picture edit via Gimp 2, plus I'm tapping this post out on it.

A note about tapping the keys - I wrote about getting a new keyboard ... perhaps 1 year ago. I have to be honest and say it's a bit of a disappointment, the keys still work well but they've gone a bit stiff. Also, the lettering that was dark to begin with is rubbing away. It's getting rather difficult to locate the reference spots. I have my eyes on mechanical keyboards again, they seem to be dropping in price which is slightly odd because Brexit has led to general price increases.

A money-no-object choice wouldn't change much there. Let's see :

Laptop - stays ultrabook for lightness of weight and portability. Most laptops have far more power than is required for videos, webs and music streaming and I always find it a bit cruel to try gaming on them.
Desktop - would gain a bit but the basics would stay the same - good screen, good keyboard, good mouse. It would just have more spectacular bits inside. A better processor and graphics card. Multiple hard drives. Perhaps a second screen.

Data security is pretty important. But I wouldn't look at putting encryption on, that usually just gets in the way of performance and for home machines, I consider the lock on the front door to be adequate data security.

Quite.


Data integrity is far more important. I'd pay a lot more attention to this if I were on the computer professionally, like if I was streaming or making the youtube gaming videos. I'd want multiple hard discs to put everything on but I wouldn't use the RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Drives) method, where it duplicates data across multiple drives. That way tends to use the drives identically and if you have identical drives, it stands to reason that they would fail at the same time. You'd still lose all your data. Nope. I'd have the multiple drives for performance but I'd put a totally separate back up system in too. That way, if something goes bang in the work PC, it doesn't break the backup too.
I've had data loss a few times, it tends to be a bit traumatic.

But that's computers in my current situation. The laptop and desktop combination works well there. But ... I do have that plan to go live on a boat and the set up would want to be different there. The desktop would need to be hidden somewhere and I'd ideally want it doing the movies too and probably streamed telly services.

Which means ...

A Projector. Great for saving space, along with a drop down screen and speakers hidden in strategic places for giving surround sound in the movies.

I did also have a pondering for the ship's computer having a touchscreen. This could still be a possibility but more for controlling boat systems. The original touchscreen idea was for putting recipes up where I could see them in the galley.

Yep. If I move to the boat, I'd want to learn how to cook proper. I know ... ambitious. And I think the touchscreen would work well if your hands were busy with cooking stuff. But ... thinking about it more, perhaps an iPad would be even better. Easier to wipe down for sure and if you're cooking, mucky fingers will be on that touchscreen.

A ship's computer would want to be more modest, as power comes at a premium when you're away from the mains. I'd look to have the barge roof covered with as many solar panels as would be sensible but even then, the power input is limited and other system share that power. Like the fridge ... Cooking and heating is gas, so that's not a problem there.

But ... we all know what that ship's computer should look like.
That's Gerty-3000 from the movie Moon. Excellent movie, must watch it again. It was about a lone astronaut running a Helium-3 mining operation on the moon, with just the computer to talk to. And the computer displayed those emotes to give emotional context to what it was saying.

Not Gerty ? Then perhaps :
Perfect.

Oh and ...
Clever kitty.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Under The Steamroller Again

Yep.

Feeling somewhat like I've been run over by a steam roller again. Yep, this will be a whingey post for a bit but bear with it. I find it's good to explain the problems I'm having so I can sort them out in my own head. Although I do still think it sounds a bit whiny. But that's just me thinking that I shouldn't let my problems feel like they're getting the better of me.
Yeah, I'm pretty wiped out at the moment and hanging in there for the weekend to come. I've built enough flexi up that I can disappear at around about lunchtime, although I'll hang on in case I'm needed (I might be for one of the meetings!).

Plan A was to disappear into town to have a wander around the market and to perhaps, chill out in the afternoon to the film Arrival. (It's a scifi mystery thriller type movie, people think it's good). That's going to change to Plan B though because I am feeling the tireds, plus I suspect it'll be mayhem in town tomorrow with the Black Friday tradition that we're inheriting from the USA. I dunno there, I think typical Brit Reserve is taking over there a little. We got very excited over Black Friday a couple of years ago, not so much lately. The retailers have been spreading things out so it's not all on the day.

No - film can wait and I'll have the chill outs after hanging on for the week. It's always good to go up norf to see the mum, dad, Ben-pup and sister and one or both of the Double D boys. But it does wipe me out, especially going into a week full of work.

Weekend plans include :
Quite possibly zzzz's on Friday afternoon while Stuff is on the telly. Stuff is likely to be the first 3 episodes of an old classic, Earth Final Conflict.
A little XCom2 perhaps ? I haven't gone back into that since the last session over a week ago. Corgi guns need to happen ... Yep.
More games will be acquired ... The various online game selling people have sales on and I have stuff in the basket already. (More in a bit).
Cricket ! India host England in the Third Test, starting on Saturday. I'll have this on the telly, time delayed, while I watch the Grand Prix coverage on my desktop.
Bit of Star Trek - I've been enjoying watching the Star Trek films again. I'm watching all of them, up to and including Beyond. Star Trek has always been very good, even at its least good. Tonight's was Final Frontier, which was one of the least good Trek films. Still good, just no Wrath of Khan.

Anything more ? On and off nattering to people on the texts and the Facebooks and the Discords. Possibly even Twitter too. I occasionally get acknowledgements on the Twitters and that's always good to see.

I just distracted myself with looking up Pink Floyd's Ummagumma album. I had that years ago and it has some of the good 60s Pink Floyd on it. The inspiration for that was seeing a 60s collection of theirs at Sainsburys earlier. Curious ... but not enough to buy it. I suspect some music may get liberated from various online stores soon.

Birthday stuff is all in now. I've acquired the first seasons of Dark Matter and Killjoys, which are excellent new scifi. These, along with Fallen Skies, are the best scifi on telly from the past few years. Cheers CK ! I have a Metal Earth R2D2 as well which I look forward to building with some .... trepidation perhaps. Metal Earth kit is shiny but does take a certain bit of manual dexterity which I don't think I have in my tired state. And the "Man Cave" sign has to go up on the fridge door too where people would see it when they come into the house.

It'll be a chilled out weekend. It'll be the first chance in a couple of weeks to regain some energy and for my poorly ankles to recover some more. They're actually doing reasonably well and are coping with the demands of walking around at work and for the bus .... but they're not actually fixing. A quiet weekend will do them good if I leave them alone for long enough.

Games ?

I have 1 game and 3 bits of DLC in the steam basket at the moment .... The game is "A Good Snowman Is Hard To Build", a charming little puzzler that I've had my eye on for a while now. The DLC is for AI War, a strategy game I should really have had a good look at by now. I think the reason I didn't is because I picked it up when I was feeling particularly poorly and not wanting to play many games at all. Time it got another look because it's one that should grab my attention.

I've been checking out another called Distant Universe, another space strategy game. I need to know more about that. Is it worth getting. Definitely is it worth £22.50 on sale. There will be another sale over Xmas, so I can wait for this one.

This is where the Youtube videos come in really handy, you can evaluate whether you will enjoy a game and get the value out of it. It's a shame that Youtube game content is starting to die off, as it gets harder and less rewarding for content creators to bring us videos. A lot of them are going to Twitch streaming, which is a pity because ... livestreams. You can only really watch one at a time, they're all cannibalizing their audiences. Whereas I'll put Youtube videos in a slow mode and catch up later, you can't really do that with most streams, so the streams get sacrificed because you just don't have the time to watch them.

Time is pretty precious too ... It is really good being able to chill out to the HeyChrissa streams. She has a certain rapport with chat, although a couple of the people in chat should really keep their fingers away from the keyboard. They have that sense where they seem to have to prove something ... and go about it in offensive ways. They are tolerated because they have been with the community for a while but ... chat goes quiet when they are loud. I ignore them and the chat when they're being rowdy.

I suspect sleep will be coming after I've finished the current round of videos. Haha, at probably midnight as per usual. At least I won't be waiting at the bus stop for ages tomorrow.

We're cursed with a company called First Bus aka Worst Bus in Bristol. They essentially have a monopoly, which they've been abusing lately. Some buses don't come at all, most buses are late. This is partly the fault of the Metrobus works, which will have very little actual benefit for the harm they have inflicted on traffic patterns and the general look of the neighbourhood. I bet the new local flats are really annoyed at losing their very little bit of isolation room between them and a busy main road. Road noise is not nice to live with. I'm ok because I'm on a cul-de-sac, although our road gets abused by people working in local shops.

Yeah, they have some excuses due to Metrobus but this in no way excuses certain services being apparently cancelled (not saying which, it gives too much location info away !). That's more whining though.

Looking forward to :
Building a Millennium Falcon.
Getting into the games.
Catching up on some great telly.
England winning in the cricket (cough).
Another go at Metal Earth with R2.
SLEEP !
Lots of music - it's the Working Girl album by Little Boots at the moment. Boppyhappy.
Nite !