Sunday, August 18, 2019

Cricket and Ships

Not quite sure what I've been getting up to over the last week or so !

Wait. I know ... Lots of cricket watching mixed with lots of internet spaceships. England narrowly drew today against the Aussies with a very scary fast bowler emerging on the scene.
There we go. Perfect pic for the thumbnail.

It's been a while since I actually played the cricket but I still have a few of the memories. Perhaps mental scars even. I definitely didn't enjoy seeing Steve Smith hit yesterday by what was nearly literally a death ball. Because he turned his head away*, the ball missed the area that the helmet protects and got him on the side of the neck probably close to the vital weak spot that caused the death of Phil Hughes a couple of years ago.

*This is most certainly NOT a criticism of Steve Smith, more a recognition of human behaviour. I suspect that we'll all break from training and conditioning after being hit in the head by a cricket ball once and unconsciously attempt to avoid the blow by turning the head away when it's actually better to look right at the ball and let the helmet or grill take the blow. But that rational thought definitely doesn't come into play the second time you're hit in the head by a cricket ball.

I've actually been hit in the noggin three times by a cricket ball. The first was the Nose Job, which was nasty (and scary in after thought) enough considering I wasn't wearing a helmet. The second was a similar incident, where the ball hit the grill at the side of the helmet where it attaches. I can remember batting out the innings in dangerous conditions (with a dangerous fast bowler in the opposition who mangled the keeper's fingers too), anchoring our side to a comfy win, watching the guys at the other end bash runs. And then I was nearly sick in the changing room after the game.

I rarely actually get that kind of sick, unless there's alcohol involved ... in which case watch out.

(My third hit on the head saw it hit me in the gob, doesn't count though as an avoidance or not incident though because the circumstances meant that I barely saw it until OUCH).

But yeah, having that kind of injury and the aftermath of it does something to your mindset and I was relieved that after having Nose Job 2 to straighten my nose, I got the chance to bat again before the end of the season and put the potential psychological demons to bed.

One thing I'll say though to conclude this part of the post though, if someone you know has had a head injury, keep an eye on them. They probably don't know whether it's affecting them more than they realise, I certainly didn't realise how badly Nose Job 1 affected my memory until years later. And my memory is still affected 16 years later.

Spaceships time !

Last time saw my ship blasting off from an icy planet with blue canyons ...
I've since been to some rather rugged locations;
Had some close encounters with spaceborne organisms. (As always, click for bigger with these).
Generally racing around the galaxy partly powered by the boosts off Neutron Stars like this one. There is a cost here though, the last 40,000 light years were blighted by having to periodically wait for "FSD Malfunction" to sort itself out.
There was an occasional stop to look back at the full glory of the galaxy. This was while nearing Magellan's Star at the Eastern edge of our galaxy.
Another rugged planetary location. The screenshot is titled "Next stop Edge of Galaxy" (.jpg). Spoiler ... I didn't actually get there because there wasn't a suitable route though. In Elite, the ships get around by making hyperspace hops from star to star but there is a limit to how far the hops can be. In Chrissa's New Potato, I could go 62 light years in a hop. In my current ship, it's more like 22 with cargo, or 28 without. More on the new ship later.
Ship was getting as tatty on the outside as the hyperdrive was getting on the inside, so it was well past time to head home. While peeking at the local nebulae of course.
Also nebula. And a little bit of far off civilisation. A quick stop off for repairs (and fresh paint) and we're off again.
Finding spooky locations in space ....
And a crashed ship in the same system. But ...
It became time for the Potato to be retired to a very special hangar. That's Jameson Memorial in the background, which is only accessible in game to pilots who have gained an Elite ranking and I'm there for Exploration now.
That's the Black Sheep, which is an Imperial Clipper ship which will be put to work in the service of the Federation. I have a weird sense of humour sometimes.
Last one for today. That's the Black Sheep closing in on an engineer base to get some shield modifications in.

Other thing before I close ... I mentioned a zombie hard disc in the last post ! It's still going. Had to reboot Meltdown due to a Windows Update and the ancient zombie drive came back for more. Tough little beastie.

Happy travels, fly safe.

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Speed ! For Science ....

I had a daft idea today to do a little bit of FOR SCIENCE !
It's not going to be that bad. Honest.

The daft thought came up when we were talking about hard discs on one of the Discords. NOOO ! DON'T GO ! Please stay. I shall add photos of cute animals at inappropriate places.
An old one but a good one. Nah, this question got me wondering how fast the various beasties are now. I have 4x hard discs in Meltdown now ...

It boots off a Crucial M2 500GB SSD with 90 running hours on the clock now.
(Addon - that's not right. This system has been up for a continuous 13 days or 312 hours and it's had more time on than that since the build)
The last machine ran off a Crucial 250GB SSD which racked up 6258 hours.
Most of my data lives on a Western Digital 1.5TB conventional drive which has clocked up 61,626 hours.
The golden oldie is a Samsung 250GB conventional drive with ... 91,482 running hours.
That's a lot of hours. (3,811 days or 544 weeks or 10.5 years of running time).

Yep. I leave my machines on a lot but they're usually doing more Science ! in that time with the BOINC grid computing applications that help out alien signal research, medical research, astronomy and climate research.

The video I was watching has finished, so I can check out how those drives do ...
Samsung 250GB drive first - this one is ancient so it shouldn't do so good.
Read and Write speeds are both about 70MB/sec. (B for bytes, b for bits, there are 8 bits in a byte)
Input Output Per Second (IOPS) tests gave around 0.7 to 0.4 MB/s on its meter.
(I neglected to take a screenshot at the appropriate time - oops!)

Poor thing probably shouldn't be getting benchmarked these days.
Not quite dead yet though.

(Update - erm. It might be. Oops. Drive is no longer responding ! It's done this before though and came back and I have all of the data that I want off it.)

The Western Digital drive is actually about the same !
A little bit quicker on Read and Write and whereas the Samsung didn't register on the Write side, there we are. That's not actually IOPS with that 0.886, apparently it did 216.3 IOPS on that last write test and 81.8 IOPS on the read test.

Why are the two conventional drives similar ? Firstly, the Samsung drive was a performance drive in its day and the Western Digital was more of an eco friendly green variant of their drives. So it's understandable from that direction why they're so close. They're also similar technology and quite possibly, limited by the interface.

How do the SSDs do ? That's a Solid State Device drive which instead of storing the 1s and 0s as different magnetic poles on glass platters laced with chemicals, they store the data in memory.
Erm. Quite. This is the 250GB SSD that's wired up through a better type SATA cable (think it's shielded better) but still goes through the same interface protocols as the conventional drives.

But it's a whopping 6.5 times faster on raw read speed, 4.7 times faster on raw writes and 314 times faster on the Q8T8 and Q32T1 read test.

The IOPS for the last two tests were 7556.9 IOPS for the read test and 23,425.5 IOPS for the write test. The fastest was 54,041.6 IOPS for the 4KiB Q8T8 test. These are so much faster because instead of an arm physically traversing across the platter to find the data, the system just asks for the data to be read from the memory.
Can we go quicker ? Let's see. I'm doing these tests blind by the way but I kinda knew what to expect.

Here's the last one :
I thought there might be a bit more between the two SSDs to be honest there ? On the whole, a little bit quicker on top of SUPERSPEED. I'm not that bothered about it being quicker than that.

The detail numbers are 10,390.6 IOPS on the 42.56 Read and 23,504 IPS on the 96.26 Write. The fastest was 57,770.3 IOPS on the 236.6 test. It's not going as quick as the spec says it should by quite a long way (1900MB/s read, 950MB/s write, 90,000 IOPS read, 220,000 IOPS write) so I might need to do a little investigating as to why there. (It's probably set to use the wrong interface type). The drive was getting a little toasty though (63 degrees C according to one app) so I might not actually want it to go much quicker.

One thing I did notice through these tests is that the SSD read tests were pushing the processor. The Ryzen 5 3600 that I have has 6 cores capable of running 12 threads simultaneously. The read tests were maxing out one of those threads, so that might be affecting what the drive can do. It might be going beyond what the rest of the system can provide.

It's nice having hard figures though to back up that "SSDs are so much better than older style hard discs" thing !

Why does it matter though ? What's the significance of the numbers ? When it comes to raw MB/sec, not much in my opinion. We're rarely copying massive amounts of data around the system.

What we do most often is pull in lots of little bits of data. Accessing a font. Accessing configuration files. Accessing all the little pictures that make up icons and buttons. Pulling up all of the other little bits and pieces that Windows seems to need. SSDs excel at doing that ... older hard discs, not so much.

And I better leave it there !

Ok. One last cute animal pic :
Wait. Not cute animal. Still worth posting.
I have popcorn. Cya !

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Randomish Thoughts

I feel the need for a random thoughts post ...

One random thought lately was about Advent and what I'll do this year. This one was triggered by waking up and seeing the collection of little Lego things from last year :
There is a lot of it and I'm not sure if I have the space for it all any more ! I do enjoy the Advent format though so I think I'll still do something adventy in December. Probably something like those calendars that have a suitable picture behind all of the doors. I did something similar a few years ago :
I definitely enjoyed that sequence (here's a link to the posts from that December). Something similar may happen this year.

And yes. I have no shame for talking about Xmassy stuff before it's even Autumn.

And I have been told off already for talking about Xmassy stuff this early in the year.

Currently watching a Rebel Galaxy Outlaw stream by the one and only FuzzyFreaks (who is lovely and I'd recommend her streams - adult levels of swearing though !). An interesting game. It's another space shooty combat game, pretty much all about the combat. Which is why I won't get it ... Fuzzy's having fun with it though. There's an absolute tonne of great music in it too. What I do want to go is go back into the original game, Rebel Galaxy which I drifted away from when I played it before.

Rebel Galaxy - you had battlewagons to fly around in;
Rebel Galaxy Outlaw - you're flying a combat fighter;
Different scale. Outlaw is more around the Elite scale, which is another reason I won't switch over to it. I'm too invested in the Elites. I'm attempting to be more careful with the games I acquire because I just don't play probably half of them. I could spend that on Lego ! That I have little space for. May need to spend money on storage and chucking out of boxes.
The latest leg of the long journey home (don't buy that game, it had a nice concept but shockingly bad execution) saw me find a planet mostly ice but with blue canyons.
Nice. I've had a couple of evenings off Elite though because that long exploration run is feeling grindy. Only about 180,000 light years to go which works out to a minimum of 3,000 jumps. I'm good with sessions of about 120 jumps on weekdays and push it longer on weekends. I'll be cheating though by taking shortcuts via the neutron star highway.

I enjoy watching the streams too and I only have so many screens to watch things on. (Telly, laptop, 1x desktop screen).

Fuzzy is currently drawing something crazy on screen - in Elite, you buy the paint jobs through the Frontier store. In Rebel Galaxy Outlaw, you can paint your own ships. And apparently, there may be an option to have them 3d printed for you.

Random shift - cricket didn't happen last week but it looks like Jofra Archer is going to be a more than ample stand in for Jimmy Anderson who turned out lame last week. Apparently he got runs too ... which is a complete surprise after seeing what he was like batting in the World Cup !

Hopefully that'll let England bounce back in the next game. I have Kia Super League women's T20 on at the moment and it's half time. No idea who's going to win yet, which just adds to why you'd want to watch it.
Oh dear Lord, Fuzzy just drew a half naked man to adorn her spaceship. Oh dear.

Any more random thoughts ? It's happily a little cooler now, not quite as oppressively hot as it did get over the last few weeks.

I think the rest of tonight's going to be more chill out. I'll see you on the other side ....
NOOOOO ! Need the cookies !

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Mission Meltdown

Hmm. Where did I leave it last week ?

It's got a little cooler this week. Bit more livable. It was a bit damp yesterday though but that's ok.

Meltdown is working pretty well now. It has its updated Windows licence (if your Windows isn't activated, it puts watermarks on all your screenshots. Couldn't have that) and I picked up the new cooler too. It's a bit of a monster ...
4D looks suitably impressed with the size of the box. The idea is that the bigger the cooler, the more fins and surface area it has and the heat dissipates away more quickly if there is more surface area. The fans are also a factor, with CFM being the unit of interest. Bigger 120mm fans like on there have more surface area again and more radial velocity at the outsides, so (Too Science Didn't Read) they can push more air through as well. And because they're more effective, the bigger fans can be run slower which means less noise.

So ... monster cooler means everything is cooler, everything is quieter. Win ! But I haven't fitted it yet mainly because ... effort. (It's a pretty big job to replace a cpu cooler) And also because the AMD Wraith Stealth cooler that comes with the processor is ultra quiet. As in silent ... I can barely hear it even when there are no other active noise sources and even there, I may well be hearing the case fan or the power supply fan.

Because I'm not running the machine hard yet, like it will be when it gets colder and I turn the Science Sums back on, it doesn't need that better cooling.

So far, I've been doing more internet spaceship piloting, more motorsport managing and I'm having another look at Battletech's massive Roguetech mod.
That little fella is my crazy pirate melee mech. A little fella but effective when he gets in close. Hasn't acquired a name yet, I'm naming the mechs when I reconfigure them. So far there is the Fires of Elysium and a Clint class mech got named Rise of Eastwood.

Battletech ran just about on the old machine, I had to run it off the SSD in order to get acceptable performance in the basic campaign. The bigger Roguetech mod was unplayable, probably because it was wanting to take up 10GB+ of memory and Pumpkin only had 8GB. It was apparently barely touching the processor load actually, which may be a sign of how poorly optimised it is. Great game, poor implementations.

Motorsport Manager doesn't feel any different ... but it shouldn't really, it's not a game that relies on or gets advantage of better PC performance past a certain point.

Elite feels smoother. I've reached the edge of the galaxy ...
That's an earlier shot and I've turned up the anti-aliasing a little since then. (Anti-aliasing attempts to make lines less jagged).
I may have found some tea down there ...
Time to enter The Abyss. There are differences in the density of stars in the galaxy. In the centre, the stars are so dense that before the route planner was substantially upgraded, the planner would crash the game client if you tried to plan beyond about 300 light years (too many options to check). Out in the Abyss, ships with lower jump ranges have to go around. Mine is very long range but even there, the path goes wiggly and shorter jumps need to be taken.

Here's the travel map so far :
It's quite a distance travelled there ! More to go. The plan is to head back in a semicircle. Soon.
I found another couple of close binary stars on the way in, always good for a screenshot. This one is definitely with the improved anti-aliasing but I'm not sure that'll be apparent there.
That's where I've parked up until I go back in. That's at Beagle Point, looking back at the Milky Way from the edge of the galaxy. There are stars on the map further out but because they're beyond the jump ranges, they're unreachable.

One thing you do notice when upgrading like this are the shortcomings of the other machines. I really notice that at work but it's not really the fault of the laptops we have. They're actually pretty solid machines and would make me consider getting HP laptops as well (business grade, as their domestic grade is rubbish). The big problem with the work machines is the infrastructure, especially the Microsoft side. Too many slowdowns seem to come from the laptops having to check elsewhere even for the simplest of operations like changing to bold. They'll pause when opening the dialogue for formatting a cell in Excel.

It's pretty sad that the Microsoft applications have got that bad. They really need to be better than that, or have a rethink on how much they're communicating with the servers.

But I'm not thinking about that at home.

Soon ... Deus Ex Mankind Divided or Prey ! Am knackered though and still a bit worn out mentally and those games need a bit more mental energy than I'm willing to put in at the moment.

Soon :-D

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Melting Meltdown

Gosh, it's hot this week. As in really hot.
Yep. Hot. I think I picked the perfect week to take some annual leave, although maybe not the right week to build a new computer ... It's been a bit toasty for doing more than loafing about drinking lots of water.

But still, new bits arrived on Tuesday after a little bit of Cardiff wandering on Monday. Let's actually talk about Cardiff first. I like Cardiff, there's lots to look at including a few curious book caves. The following appeared and escaped with me :
Orson Scott Card - Ender's Game
CJ Cherryh - Chanor's Venture
Michael Crichton - Jurassic Park
Larry Niven - Tales of Known Space
David Brin - Existence

A few in there that I know should be really good, a few which are speculative. I still need to finish 2312 ... and you know that more will appear during a Book Barn raid in a few weeks.

I also went a little mad acquiring albums with albums from Aurora, Mike Oldfield (x2), Tori Amos, Vangelis, Jade Bird and Lorde appearing. Also sherbets and bonbons. Cardiff is a good place.

Computer ? Here we go. This'll include an honest critique on some of the bits that appeared, because I will immediately replace one and may well replace another as well.
That's the box, a Bitfenix Nova case and is the candidate to maybe be replaced. A box swap is a big job though so inertia may help it survive. Why don't I like it ? It only extracted a light blood sacrifice (a cut about 3mm long, nothing) but it's just too small and doesn't off enough space for fans or for air to escape. We'll come back to that later.

There was also a small distortion in the corner where the power supply fits in, which must have been the result of a fairly major dinting in the factory and should have made it a quality control reject.
That's the inside of a very empty box ... It's just about big enough. The mainboard goes in the top and there's a fan there to extract hot air. The power supply goes in bottom left ....
There we go. Corsair make good power supplies.

(Disclosure note - there is no sponsorship of any kind here !)
That's the motherboard, which everything fits into. It's an Asrock board, following the Asrock board that did pretty well for me in my last machine.

The ports are at the top left, the little square at the top is where the processor goes and the 4x sockets to the top right is where the memory goes. The longer slot in the middle is where a graphics card will go. Everything else plugs in around the edge, including disc drives and the lights on the case.
That's the processor installed under the stock AMD cooler and the 2x sticks of memory are there too. The label saying "Crucial" in the lower right is a 500GB (actually 470GB) M2 SSD hard disc and then there's the back plate laying loose on top of it all.

You get 2x sticks of memory instead of one (cheaper) big one because the machines are capable are using double the bandwidth of just one stick, which makes them faster.
And that's the gubbins in the box. And actually the last proper picture in this series too. The hard discs go over to the right and graphics in the middle. One of the tricks is to manage those power supply cables such that they don't block the airflow and I couldn't really tuck them somewhere out of the way in this box.

This all actually took a hell of a lot more time than the builds usually do ! It was incredibly hot on Tuesday. Literal sweat dripping and other nonsense like that. It should get a bit cooler from tomorrow.

The next thing to do is to connect the leads and switch the power on and ....

Uhoh. No screen. My keyboard is a little awkward so after plugging in its other USB plug (it has two), I reboot and find "Windows did not start up correctly" followed by the dreaded Blue Screen Of Death.

Oh crikey no, that's really bad news.
Zombie PC. Actually not that bad though because the machine was attempting to boot off the most ancient hard disc which was from 2x machines ago, instead of the Windows 10 older SSD. It fired up nicely after switching the boot order around to the correct hard disc.

What was worrying though was the temperature. I'm pretty certain that I have the cooler installed correctly but ....
That's the readout from a hardware monitoring desktop gadget from Addgadgets that I find really useful, getting its data from Core Temp. A steady 53 degrees C on idle is far too hot for comfort, even in these temperatures. You'll see the graphics card below hovering at 35 degrees C. It's not in any danger of melting down, the machine has survived a quick SETI (Milkyway at Home) stress test topping out at 83 degrees C but that sawtooth pattern to the temperature is worrying. It really shouldn't be doing that and I think the machine was derating itself as well during that stress test. What it all means is that you won't get the full performance out of the machine, it's liable to crash when worked hard and you're unlikely to get the 8 years of life out of it that I got with the last build.

(This is why that hardware monitoring gadget is really handy - it lets you spot and diagnose issues like this, including if the horror of horrors happen - a failed fan).

The temperature is hovering between 53 and 66 degrees C at the moment but it was on a nice and steady (as in, a line and not a sawtooth) 73 while playing Motorsport Manager earlier.

So I'll be heading to the shops tomorrow when it's cooler to acquire a new ... cooler. I also need to get a new Windows licence because I've changed too many bits now. I'll still be able to use the other Windows licence in the old machine.

I haven't transferred over the bluray drive yet. I think that might be a dead'un although I need to verify that by finding an opportune evening to watch Rogue One.

How does it perform ? I used the 3d Mark benchmarks on the old machine before switching and on the more stressing Time Spy demo, the numbers went from 3500 wibbles to 4100 wibbles. I think that's graphics card limited. On the cpu test, the numbers went up from 2200 wibblies to a much shinier 7000 wibblies. The new machine has 6 cores up from 4 and can handle 12 threads, up from 4. it's also a little quicker in the GHz.

So - happy with the upgrade, although the heat and the dodgy cooler mean that I haven't gone into heavier gaming yet. I'll definitely replace the cooler and I'll think about replacing the box. The diminutive size of the box means I'm limited on those cooling options and I'm unconvinced that it will get sufficient airflow.

The name ?

If the old one was called Pumpkin after being built at Halloween, this one had to be Meltdown :-D.

Addendum time .... I've figured out the heat issue ... Check out this updated pic from this morning :
That's much more steady, including a steady idle where I turned the Milkyway At Home calcs off to see how quickly the temperature changes would happen. This is much better.

Fix - in the picture in the middle of the post, the Clock is 4199MHz where the mainboard had auto overclocking enabled and turned the wick up on the processor. When the overclocking is disabled and the processor is back to stock 3600MHz performance, the temperatures are just fine. The idle went up to a little bit high 45 degrees C but I'm ok with that considering ambient temperatures.

This is a bit silly and a black mark against Asrock ... The auto overclocking shouldn't be enabled by default, it makes things hot and shortens the life of the machine.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Resting, Internet Spaceships, Fancy Pooters, Annoyances

Hello everyone.

Week off for me this week. I'll go on so long and then need to get away from Stuff for a little while. That'll be people, work, having to get up in the morning, various stuff like that.
Oh and it's also a chance to listen to a lot of music, get stuff in that I wanted to have delivered, lots of general chill out. Maybe a few trips out and about, may that be in the virtual world or in the real world.

I haven't actually listened to all of the music on the laptop yet and that's approaching a year. I haven't bought much music over the last year, only about 500 tracks. There are 1850 tracks to go to listen to everything and I'm at tracks in the S albums. After listening to tracks individually, I'll queue up the albums and I'm in the O albums there. It's a reasonably systematic way of jumbling up what gets listened to. The next album up in the queue is Once I Was An Eagle by Laura Marling.

One reason for these occasional weeks off is to rest, recover and let some of the painful bits fix themselves up a bit. I'm having to be careful with certain games at the moment, because my wrist is threatening to go very painful ... First person games where you have to do fine aiming with the mouse seem to be the worst and I haven't played many of those for quite some time. WoW was bad for it too because that fine aiming would see me looking to press certain buttons on screen.

Oh - tracks from one album have been coming through at the moment, that's Scarlet and Other Stories by All About Eve and there are some great tracks in it, like Only One Reason.

Internet Spaceships may dominate, if that's Elite, Stellaris or something different when the PC upgrade arrives .....
That's the latest from EDSM star map and I'm now through the centre of the galaxy and heading way off to the left towards the farthest points you can navigate to from Earth. That got named as Beagle Point in game and is the next destination. I can now plot a route to it as well, with the route plotter being limited to just 20,000 light years. That was a great upgrade from the somewhat unreliable 1,000 light year limit it had when I first started playing.
I got me a new paint job ... A few Dragon Green stripes in there.
And that's Sagittarius A* at the centre of our galaxy from at least a light minute out. (Earth is just over 8 light minutes away from our Sun and Mercury is 3.5 light minutes out). The ring inside the black hole is actually light deflected from the Milky Way ribbon to the top right.

Astronomy is fascinating. And scary when it comes to super massive black holes that just happen to be the engine that makes our galaxy happen.

I'll hopefully get back to collecting some great screenshots soon (although there are more that haven't been posted yet). But I would like to go back to some of the games that I set on one side for a bit. Like Deus Ex Mankind Divided and Prey which were going beyond the capabilities of my computer as it was at the time.

New bits are on their way ... What'll be in the box ?
AMD Ryzen 5 3600. Latest modest processor from these guys and it's apparently better than Intel if you feed it with good memory.
X570 motherboard. Gotta have something to link it all together.
500GB M2 drive from Crucial. This'll be my 4th SSD from Crucial and they've done well so far. This upgrade was a bit too tempting.
32GB of DDR4-3200. This will be another 4x upgrade from the 8GB I have here. More memory always helps because the unused memory gets used to help the disc caching out.
New box ... and power supply. Because it's awkward to take a motherboard out when it's in.

I'll be transferring over a 1060 graphics card and my various hard discs. Oh and a bluray drive that may need to be replaced because I think it finally failed. I had to abandon watching Rogue One tonight because it was breaking up too much and I think it's actually been failing for a long time now because it was corrupting the imports of audio cds.

Oh and I'm happy with monitor, keyboard, mouse and speakers so those will transfer over too.

One thing that's annoyed me though is the attitude of my credit card company ... I ended up using my debit card to buy the bits too because they (Barclaycard - beware of them) flagged the transaction as potential fraud despite the order being placed at the same IP address as I use to do all the paying off of that card.

They did the same thing last year with the laptop.

Highly annoying. Oh and they did an automatic phone call thing at 10.00 this morning to clear the issue. 10.00 on a Sunday ? WHAT IS THIS HERESY.
Back to reality and better things.

I don't think the bits will arrive tomorrow because I ordered after they all went home on Saturday. May well find myself over in Cardiff again for munchies. And a wander. A wander that may well take me past :

Lego Shop
Music Shop
Sweet Shop
Market Book Stall
Cardiff Castle
(And I need to do a general shopping too)

Hopefully my back feels better this morning to allow me to do that. It was very stiff this morning. Perhaps because I left the window open last night on a cooler night than it has been. Oh and that 10.00am crawl and flop down the stairs for that call from the credit card people.

We shall see !