Thursday, March 23, 2017

What happened in London today ...


That was unexpected, the events in London today. I wasn't involved, nor I believe was anyone I know or am even loosely connected with.

It's an odd feeling. This one is so much closer to home than the events that hit France and Belgium. It's very much closer to home than the active terror campaigns that are the lead cause of the waves of immigrants and refugees looking to resettle in Europe.

The reactions to it are varied. There was almost some aggro today on one of the Discord chat servers due to the reaction of both me and a fella there who lives in the Ukraine. The "normal" reaction to events like this is shock, paralysis and a need to find out more information on the event. The shock is a normal reaction to knowing innocent lives have been lost.

What is different is how we react with that shock. Do we enter a paralysis, an incapacitation ? Or do we react by seeing what can be learned from the event. By asking the question - how do we make sure this does not happen to me or people I know.

The fella in the Ukraine has got used to a situation (due to the situation with Russia on the borders) where they are in a not very cold conflict. From what he says, it is almost at undeclared war status over there. He's half expecting to have to prepare to face Crazy Russians at his doorstep. So his reaction was pretty much "Shrug, this stuff happens every day over here". Fair enough ! But it nearly got him in deep trouble with the other people on that forum.

My own reaction is rather desensitized as well.

My early years were spent living in Northern Ireland in the late 70s, early 80s. It wasn't at the height of the Troubles but there was still active terrorism going on. The IRA led terror was continuing even into the 90s with the 1996 bombing of Manchester's Arndale shopping centre. Omagh was bombed in a particularly cynical and vicious attack in 1998. And that was a situation that had actually improved and settled down a bit from when I lived over there.

My mum had car tyres slashed and had been subject to attacks and near attacks while working in the hospitals and health centres. My dad doesn't talk about it too much but being placed in a factory on the Falls Road (a no go area to the wrong religion) was a big factor in us moving back to England.

Northern Ireland was still quite a dangerous place. I was in Lisburn when 2 bombs went off. I wasn't close, I don't think anyone was killed in either bomb although that's from around 35 years ago. We were caught up in several bomb threat evacuations as well.

The IRA had a certain code. They would phone in a warning of a bomb attack before it happened, although to satisfy that code the warning could be overly cryptic and too late for anything to be done about it. In the case of Omagh, there were two bombs. A first bomb drove everyone away from it to evacuation collection areas ... which was where the second bomb was.


All this terror. The world can be a genuinely scary place.

What do we do about it ?

We don't let them win. Definitely don't let them win.

If we change how we live, then they win. Don't let that happen. I was extremely concerned around last year's Comic Con because I thought that was going to be attacked. It is after all, a festival of Western (and Asian, which I think the Evil People see as Western as well) culture, with many young people clustered around. It's a high value target and, due to cosplays too, probably a soft place to attack.

Sad to say.

I think the relief of it not happening (I'd been hiding my concern from the person I was with, I didn't want her to pick up on me being worried) was why I drastically attacked my outsides after I got home. I survived the day but was shredded for most of the rest of the week. I had the week off but it was about the Thursday before I was starting to normalise.

That's the lesson I would like to pass on :

Be vigilant. But do not change your intentions for how you want to live your life. At no point did the thought "Do we still go to Comic Con ?" cross my mind. Same for the Lords trip (also a high value target considering who was playing) beforehand.

We'll be going to Comic Con again this year. It's too much fun to miss. Especially with the company. Same with the IST20 again at Lords.

I don't intent to change any of my plans due to the threat from Crazy Mad Evil People. But I will be more vigilant. Like this evening coming home from work, I walked on the other side of the street on the way out, the side that isn't nearly as vulnerable to being snatched into a van before you realise what's happening (this is a genuine threat).

There was a similar incident to today in Glasgow a few years back. An attack on an airport I used to use regularly. I'd been in there a few weeks before that attack and couldn't believe it when I saw it on the news. A group of (actually smart) idiots had driven a 4x4 up to the airport with the intention of burning down the terminal, trapping people inside by blocking the main exit. They hadn't considered the anti-ram bollards, which were more than a match for the 4x4. They didn't get in and the only damage was to the idiot crazy people and burn marks on the outside of the building.

We were flying in and out of that airport a few weeks later (it happened during Xmas leave, so a couple of weeks until we were back).

These things happen. It's by different people but there are still a lot of Crazy Evil People out there. The threat has moved from being mostly Northern Ireland groups to being global. We need to remember, we need to be more vigilant. But we must not let it paralyse us, must not let it demoralise us, must not let it affect our resolve to live our lives the way we choose.

And one last note for our communities and security forces too. There was an incident a few years ago in Bristol where a Crazy Evil Person was intending to bomb the Cabot Circus shopping area. The security people had their eye on him and stopped him but the real heroes were the Muslim community who sounded the alarm on the crazy person living among them.

I suspect we will see more of the anti-different movement that we're all victims of. People being uncomfortable about others around them wearing traditional garb (this distrust is really bad). More prejudice against the usual targets, those who are different. Don't fall into that trap. We're still more likely to be hit here by Crazy Irish Separatists than by people from Asia/Middle East and they look just the same as we do.

Be vigilant;
Don't let things like today change what you do;
Remember those who have been lost;
Avoid letting it break communities.

PS On a lighter note ... I have 3 April 1st Secret Projects for you this year. I hope you enjoy them ... I'm desperate to post them !!! This life should be about fun like what japes we can do for April 1st and what other ways we can brighten up people's lives, not about our reactions to Crazy Evil People.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

On the upgrade trail again

I'm needing (maybe!) to spend some of the money again.

Although tonight's spend was more of an essential spend rather than an optional spend.
There are 2 techie related things that I'm looking (or have) to change. One is the desktop computer, another is my house phone ...

The house phone has been eating the batteries. This seems to be a thing with cordless house phones. They'll work ok for a few years and then you get low battery warnings after 15-30 minutes of phone call. On Sunday, it was saying low battery after 15 minutes of being on hold at Esure.

(Esure have been fired, partly due to excessive durations of on hold, mostly because they cost £150 more than who I went with).

So I have a new house phone now after that 4th set of batteries died. I think I got the 3rd and 4th sets around Xmas time and the phone has gone through both since then. Ouch.

What's the other techie related thing ?
There is a new game incoming ...

One game series I have put a LOT of time into is the Mass Effect series. It's a trilogy where you play Commander Shepard, a space marine of the 22nd century who finds herself* on a crusade to save the galaxy from rampaging AI warships who invade every 50,000 years to purge the galaxy of technologically advanced life.

*(FemShep Best Shep. That Jennifer Hale voice brings the character and the games to life).

The next game, called Mass Effect Andromeda is nearly upon us and from what I've seen so far, it could be a lot of fun. I suspect though with the developer's recent form, that it might be incredibly padded though.

But ... it has 2 problems. One is price, I am certainly not prepared to drop £50 (or £42 with an online shop discount) on a game. That's ridiculous but sadly seems to be becoming a norm now due to far too many people who get caught up in the hype and allow the publishers to think that we consumers will accept higher prices.

The other problem is the minimum spec ... It calls for a minimum of i5-3570 processor, which is the next generation on from the i5-2500k that I have. It would also like more memory. My machine has 8GB, although far too much of that is used up on all the browser tabs I insist on keeping open on it.

This machine has done extremely well though. It was built in October 2011 (I had to look back really far for the post ! Here's a link) and the central parts of it have survived ok since then. Hmm ...

Except for : 1 power supply, 1 motherboard sound circuitry, 2 hard disc upgrades, 1 hard disc death, same hard disc mysteriously resurrecting, an operating systems and finally the death of 2.5 graphics cards.
So after an Intel based machine did so well for 5.5 years ? What am I looking at to replace it ?

You recognise Intel chips by their number. i3, i5 and i7 are cheap, good and performance versions. The 2500 is how good it is and how old it is. The 2000 is for 2nd generation Core, the 500 is for it being "almost best of the type". The latest Intel chips are 7000 series, or 7th generation. To be honest though, Intel hit somewhat of a wall with performance. Whereas before, my machines might last 18 months to 2 years before the market moved on to outclass it. Now ... I can still run the latest high performance stuff reasonably well, albeit with better graphics cards appearing every few years.

I don't really need to upgrade but .... that Mass Effect game is tempting.

What am I looking at for an upgrade ?

AMD have a new chip out called Ryzen. It's early days but it might be promising as an alternative to Intel. The chip I'd get isn't out yet though and I'll want to see many, many benchmark numbers before I switch back to AMD.

The new system would take a lot of parts from the old one and the specs would be :
Intel i5-7500 (ish) or AMD Ryzen 5.
16GB memory.
A suitable Asrock motherboard.
The nVidia 1060 graphics card that appeared a couple of months ago. (Time flies !)
Hard discs - 250GB SSD with Windows 10 on, 1.5TB and 250GB of normal drives.

The core upgrade would cost a little over £400, depending on how much the AMD Ryzen 5 comes out as. Only one of the good tech sites I follow has it listed and it has "Call For Prices" ...

Will I upgrade and get the game ? Maybe. Maybe not. I need data before I make a decision. The long life of that Intel chip has given me the luxury of being able to make the decision when I want to, instead of rushing into a poor decision.

Try to make decisions when you have all the data you can get.

That game does look rather shiny though.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Contemplating the cricket, counting the blessings

Before I kick off cataloguing what might look like a collection of whinges ...

I'm actually feeling not too bad now ! Ok. I'm needing the Easter break to come for a rest and recharge but I'm actually feeling as if I'm approaching the end of that dark tunnel now.

So even though I'm about to list a bunch of ouchies, this should all be seen as positives. Yeah. I ouch. You probably ouch too ! But we keep on going. We don't let it beat us. I gotta admit, there are days when I have retreated back home and hastily abandoned plans to head off somewhere after work. Even up to last week, where I abandoned a few scheduled trips out to top up the supplies because I wanted to tend to ailing outsides.

But ... pic !
There we go. Always need something appropriate for the thumbnail pic.

Yeah. I'm battered and feel my age. But I'm in better condition now than I have been in years and that tends to lead to daft thoughts like seeing about Running Very Fast again on the way back from the Chinese. There was a time when I had to be careful, as my legs were so swollen running would have made them bleed. Ouch.

Fast forward to now and ...

My feet and ankles actually survived a day today without the bandages on ! What felt weird actually is that I've gotten used to wearing effectively two layers of socks between my feet and my shoes. My shoes felt really loose. Must do them up more. Although .... I have always had thin feet and used to have trouble doing the laces up enough.

I feel as if I could run very fast again. I can definitely do the indefinite walking again now. I have a bad problem in my hips but that doesn't affect the Go Forward movement. It affects going sideways and I'll literally scream if I move the legs in the wrong direction but I have no pain or trouble when I'm up to speed. And the running very fast used the same kind of mechanics as the quick walking. The turning and running sideways which I need to do a lot in cricket ... that's another story !

One season, I played through it mostly injured. I had two major injuries that year. Quite early on, I must have torn a groin muscle that's an old injury that never healed properly. I kept niggling it again over the years. It didn't affect running very fast but .... I could barely turn or go sideways. That was frustrating. It started from bowling ... I added a bit more length to my run up to get more speed at delivery, which was too much for my hip. Oops. (Bowling involves putting the body through some stretched stress positions and it can cause a fair bit of damage).

The other injury that year was a suspected broken/cracked shin from a heavy impact in the field. Big ouchies and it led to my first and only retired hurt while batting (Oh wait - Nose Job 1 was the first retired hurt). To be honest, that retired hurt was more down to arms that could barely lift the bat any more and I just couldn't hit the ball far enough to score runs. But the trigger was being hit on the back of the same leg that had the heavy shin injury. I could ignore the pain before but not after the second hit in the wounded place.

That shin injury came back too ... When the troubles with my outsides started, I thought it was as a consequence of the shin injury. As in, ulceration brought on by blood vessels being destroyed under that shin impact. (This is one reason it went untreated for too long).

But I am starting to feel more like my old self again with the physical stuff. It's the little things that you hear, that you say, that you feel, that you do.
(Picture is from a site that apparently harvests and steals pictures so no credit. Unless you're an artist who's work you see there ! Will add credit gladly)

The thing I heard was surprise when I said I'd walked 4.5 miles home the other week. I just saw that as something I could do again now. When I did it, I managed to get my mind in the frame where I turn off thoughts of duration and just keep going at a pace that balanced energy going out with energy I could recover. (It's maybe 75% of my maximum speed, maybe less now). Going up Snowdon was a struggle, although that was more my minerals getting imbalanced (not enough water = cramp).

Yeah, my legs hated me when I cooled down from that walk but that's natural from muscles that haven't been used to their potential for a while. I could do that walk again. I don't walk in to work because it's more convenient to take that bus in and it's pretty quick at the moment.

I do look at other people and get inspiration from them.

Yeah, I've had a pretty rough few years but I think I'm coming out of that now. Other people are stuck with their conditions.

You have to count your blessings. Look to the positives instead of the negatives. (And I just remembered there a long running Alphabet of the Human Heart which I've left for far too long !). What do you have that makes you special ?

Everyone is special. Yes. You. You're special. You can do things no one else can in a way that no one else would. You are unique and that uniqueness is your gift to yourself and the world.

Just believe in yourself and you can make it happen.
Yep. You too.

Yeah. I struggle to start moving due to stiffness and pain that comes from having far too much fun running around a cricket field like a mad thing or from bouncing around a badminton court. Many people inspire me to ignore pain like that.

Depression is a gathering problem now. I know of a growing number of people who suffer from it. Yet they take stock, pick themselves up and keep on fighting. Sometimes they need to unburden how they're feeling by having a complain. If you feel you need to share a problem to help you deal with it, Go for it ! Good friends will be happy to help you out because they know you'll return the favour when they need help.

We all need help sometimes.
And people will be overjoyed that you were the one they chose to help them with what they'll see as a deep, dark trouble.

I will mention one person in particular though. That'd be Radderss (link on the right under the Twitch/Youtube section). She's a lovely young lady who is cursed with many, many health issues. We see her have to disappear at very short notice midstream to be ill. Yet she'll come back, put herself back together and be totally entertaining. And sweet.

She's been a good find this one, streamers of that quality are extremely rare. Most streamers don't engage with their audience or they are just annoying people that make me hit the X To Close button quickly. HeyChrissa is another excellent one. They don't go on that list on the right hand panel if I don't enjoy watching what they do.

It is inspirational to someone like me. My damage doesn't compare to the health woes of people who have registered disabilities. I still have all my limbs and senses and they still work pretty well. My outsides have been nasty and my insides have betrayed me too (RIP Pizza Binges!). But my own issues are minimal compared to some.

And that's people who keep on going, defeat their inner demons, find workarounds for their outer disabilities and LIVE.

That's a good way to live.

LIVE ! Today. Tomorrow. Enjoy the moment. Enjoy the day. But live. And live with a smile.
And ...
You can do it.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Weekend Wandomness

I think this counts as a good weekend !

I have apparently been healing a lot this weekend ... About time too if you ask me.
Not quite sure what I've been doing though. It's been a chilled out weekend starting with watching Logan on Friday afternoon. It's a great film. I've been watching a few films lately ... On Saturday last week, it was A Cure For Wellness which was a very curious film. It had its theme running through and you never quite know whether the central character is imagining what's going on or not. Oh and there was the now traditional smuggling in of the popcorn too.

Yep. Great company made last weekend's film outing great fun.

Logan was good too. The highlight of it is looking at what happens to faded heroes. I identify with that a fair bit. It's been a good long while since I've Run. And by Run ... I mean Run Very Fast. Don't worry, that's not a harbinger of me coming back to cricket. At least .... it probably isn't. We'll see.

That might give you a clue to what's been happening this weekend.

On Friday before Logan, I took the chance to pick up more of the Miracle Healing Gunk ... (aka HC45 hydrocortisone cream). I was on the last dregs of what I had left, having been very sparing with it over the past couple of months. I'd been using Eurax cream which seemed to be helping but open wounds on my feet and ankles just weren't healing. You have to be careful with this stuff, at least I have to be. Too much and it'll cause problems of its own. It seems that if I keep swapping around what I use, I get the good benefits.

Guess what ...

Yep. I'm going to brave going to work tomorrow without the bandages that I've been sporting lately. I'll take them with me in case I have to put them on again. The worst bits of my ankles were on the place where the seam of your shoes are. I've been wearing my work shoes a lot lately when going out. Normally I'd only wear them for work but because my trainers are much harsher on that ankle part, I haven't been able to wear them. Same for my boots, they press in on the bad bit and rip it up.

It feels weird. The progress over the weekend has been very encouraging (on Thursday, the left ankle was especially nasty although that sorted itself out even before the HC45 influence). Chinese was the choice on Friday after getting back from Logan and I could feel that urge to pin the ears back and go for Speed.
Not had that for a while.

It's a good feeling. Maybe cricket ? Maybe ? The reactions are shot and I'd need new glasses but I bet that muscle memory is still there. Wonder if the arm would support bowling. Last time I tried, none of the various bowling actions I have or their variations worked. But the arm has had a few years to heal ... or stiffen.

More random thoughts ?

I've had a few random thoughts bouncing around lately. The good ones tend to evaporate before I can write them down though.

Actually won the lottery yesterday ! No silly. Didn't win money, just a free lucky dip entry into Wednesday's draw. Curiously, it was on the "pick least often drawn" system. The other systems have got me nothing, although I don't actually enter the lottery too often. It would be good to have that boost to the coffers though.

I'm watching too much telly ... Too much Star Trek Voyager to rewatch ! Plus I'm watching Earth Final Conflict as a daily. (Which means I save up a few episodes and watch several in a stretch). There were a few things that I missed out on about 15 years ago when they were on first time and Earth Final Conflict was one of them. There is a tree in the back yard that blocks the satellite signal ... and these shows were on satellite ...

This weekend's gaming has been a bit of Stellaris again. I started up a game which looks like it will be a rock solid foundation for rolling over the galaxy. It's a fairly well modded game with expansions that won't work when the next patch comes ... That's the thing with mods on these games, it can take time after a patch before the mods are available again and some mods just don't get maintained.

I started another Motorsport Manager campaign as well ... This time it's with another weak team looking to build into a world beater. I'll be mercilessly exploiting the lower division this time in order to farm achievements ... When I press the button on going for performance, I fully expect the team to be a few seconds ahead by the time I go up the leagues.

Can't just play the motor racing game though. I want to go through XCom 2 again at some point, especially as I bought a couple of expansions for that which I haven't tried yet.

There's a saying I keep coming up with though :

"If you're not enjoying something, give it a break. Don't do it. Do something else."

I apply that to games most of all. Some games, I've sunk lots of time in and realised that ... I'm not actually having fun with this game. You want to continue to see what kind of story is in there but sometimes that story is far too much effort to unlock. Stellaris gets like that. Cosmonautica definitely gets like that.

Elite is a very pretty game but ... very shallow. Once you done one trading binge, exploring binge or combat binge, there isn't very much new in there. Perhaps later when they add more to it. Multiplayer isn't the answer. I should look at Rebel Galaxy again, I quite enjoyed that one. And then there is the temptation of Starbound and Stardew Valley.

Cricket can be a mixed bag. Some games, are over almost before they begin. Other games are far more balanced. I liked cricket because something different could happen with every ball and I could genuinely make a difference by being a Scary Person in the field, madly capering around, pouncing on the ball (and not knowing what to do with it when I got it - but the batsmen didn't know that).

Gosh. The diminishing scroll bar tells me this post is getting long ... time to close.

Gaming - is being fun. Or is it ? It's definitely being a time filler.
Healing - is very promising .... Hopefully this week at work doesn't do much damage. Not out of the woods yet though.
Energy levels - hmm ... could do better, although that might be to do with a Stellaris induced missing of dinner last night.


Back to listening to .... more Stellaris !!! Enter Elysium is doing a playthrough of the Star Trek total conversion for Stellaris and that mod looks pretty promising so far. The game engine seems well suited and they've done a good job with the mod.

PS One more wandomness ! I may need to upgrade the PC soon ... and I'm torn between looking at AMD's new processor and staying with Intel. The usual thing of : Intel expensive but better quality, AMD cheaper but dodgier ... that's turning around apparently with AMD's new chip. But ... they only have the flagship model out at the moment which is too expensive for me. Oh well.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

In case of writing block, find meme

I've been kinda stuck for things to write about lately. Or maybe not ... the ideas form in the head. Or rather, they half form and then evaporate before I get chance to turn them into something coherent.

Part of that is the usual Winter long haul between the Xmas break and the Easter break. I'm thinking of having my break before Easter again this year, that worked well last year.

But ... I'm procrastinating when there is memeing to be done ... Here goes !

✍ Tattoos...None. It does grate on me though when tattoo evangelists say that people without tattoos are weird. People who think they have the right to tell people what to do are weird.
šŸ˜· Surgeries...Just a nose job, to correct a broken nose. Before the operation, it was bent too far over for me to breathe through the nose properly ...
šŸ„ Broken bones... Ermm ... fingers, thumbs dislocated, shoulder dislocated, probable shin, stress in back (probable), nose, wrist, chip off my elbow.
šŸ”« Shot a gun...Multiple guns. Including a sniper rifle when recovering from that shoulder dislocation ... Worth it.
šŸ˜• Quit a job? Yes, although it was more mutual consent with the washing up.
✈️ Flown on a plane... Multiple times. Haven't flown an actual plane yet though.
šŸš™šŸ’Ø100+miles in a car... The trip to see the mum and dad is 180 miles, I'll do that in one go usually on the way back. Done 600 miles in a day once (I think).
šŸš Rode in a helicopter... Yes. And I confirm that the ground actively repels them.

⛑ Gone zip lining... Nope
šŸ¼ Watched someone give birth...Nope. Sounds scary.

šŸ˜Æ Watched someone die...I don't think so. There was one fella in Northern Ireland who didn't look very well ... us kids on the way out of school moved on extremely quickly.
šŸ Been to Canada... Never. Wouldn't discount the possibility though. Canada sounds like a good place.
šŸš‘ Ridden in an ambulance.. Not ... yet ...

šŸ¦ Visited America... Just the once. Would like to visit Orlando again although there are other places in America that would be good to go to.
šŸŒž Visited London... Multiple times. It'll soon be time for the annual pilgrimage to Lords for the IST20 cricket and to Comic Con too.
šŸ—» Climbed a mountain... Yes, Snowdon ! Although it's not really "climb", more like "walk". You could even take a train up there. Snowdon is where this fella came from :

šŸŽ‰ Gone to a Carnival or Parade... Carnivals yes, can't remember any parades though.
šŸŽ² Visited a casino... Nope. Not yet ...
šŸ” Eaten alone at a restaurant..... Previous answer from the person I grabbed this from (hello BK!) "Yes, many times. It's no big deal." Totally agree and you can get recognised for it too by the staff. Be recognised as someone who gives them due respect and you get better service.
šŸŽ¤ Sang Karaoke..Not yet ... Oh well there was that one time when the Swedish Ladies of the WoW guild got me singing along to them. That was a lovely evening. And the other time where I did a test recording for a potential 1000th Sleepy Sings post. That microphone has never been found ...
šŸ¶ Had a pet(s)... Not a pet where it was my responsibility to look after them but we did have the Scruff, the Goldie and lovely, lovely BenPup.
šŸŽæ Been downhill skiing... Not yet. This is on the bucket list.
šŸŽ¼ Ability to read music... I used to be able to. Could probably pick it up again quickly. But ... there's a massive difference between reading music and translating it into sound, be that in your head or through an instrument.
šŸšµ Rode a motorcycle... Nope. Curious though.
šŸ‡ Rode a horse... Yes. A very long time ago when we lived in Northern Ireland.
šŸ„ Stayed in a hospital... Previous answer : "Yes. It goes with the surgeries. Hell on earth." Totally agree. My nose job happened at the height of summer and it was incredibly warm on the ward. Even overnight ... No sleep that night.
šŸ• Slept outside... A few times. Camping gets you into excellent, clean air. It's been a while since I've done this.
šŸš— Driven a stick shift (or normal car here in the UK) - Used to. But I prefer the hybrid system now. The problem with stick shifts is the inaccuracies that come in from flaws in the gearbox or the loss of power from when the clutch is in. And the likelihood of bogging down if you change up too early. But I'm thinking of my last manual gear car there and that Focus was Nasty.
šŸš“ Ride in police car? No
šŸ˜‡ Grandkids... Haha ! Kids first. Am I too old already ?
šŸš¤ Driven a Boat...Not yet. But ... there is the Dream though. To own ... The Sleeping Dragon. It'll look like :

That's a Dutch Barge Luxemotor design. Definitely the dream. Probably more like a narrowboat.
šŸŒ Eaten Escargot... Nope. Not even curious about it.
šŸš¢ Been on cruise.. No, although we did use the ferry to cross between Ireland and England regularly.
⛽️ Run out of Petrol/Diesel.. Nope. Although I did manage to get 54.3 litres into a 55 litre tank once. Oops.
šŸ£ Eaten sushi... Nope. Curious but not too curious.
šŸ‘» Seen a Ghost... Dunno here. You do see odd things though sometimes.

Hurrah ! Meme complete. I do like memes.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Racing Season

I'm a big follower of the motor racing on the telly.

Ok. Actually just a moderate follower. A big follower or an addict would watch all of the racing, I just watch the Formula 1 and the World Endurance Championship. Not really enough time for watching more.

That pic just had to be the thumbnail for today. And while I'm thinking of turtles ... this site (at the link) is very dangerous. Do not click if credit cards are close to hand.

And I've been enjoying a game called Motorsport Manager too. I've ... ermmm ... gone past 148 hours in that game already. The current play through is seeing me build the worst team into the best team. I'll farm as many achievements as possible from this play (including the big one of winning the big title) before giving it a rest for a bit and moving on to something different.
Not with that team. That's the Dragon Race Team which just had to be the first team I chose. Graphics are up to the job, although admittedly they don't actually have to do that much.
That's what it looks like in the races as my pair of drivers were destroying all opposition in the middle league. It's a bit tougher for them this season in the top league but they should survive, build, get stronger and win. 3.5 seconds a lap to make up though (that's a lot).

If you're interested in motor racing management sims, I'd heavily recommend this. We've seen a drought of these games since the excellent Grand Prix Manager 1 and 2 from way back. There have been games of the type but they have been universally rubbish. That is until the mobile version of MM came along (I enjoyed this one on iOS) and now this PC version.

I like them. You have to make good decisions in order to win the races. Games should reward good play with good results. It seems pretty consistent with what it does too. And you can build that weak team into a world beater too. (Hire popular drivers, build the HQ up, get good facilities, don't get your parts banned ... make good decisions in the races) The opposition AI isn't dumb, it's actually quite reasonable and I don't think it cheats. It does make bad decisions with weather though which you can shamelessly exploit.

But this post isn't all about games.

The Formula 1 season started up again today with the first day of pre season testing. We won't learn much of consequence until the last test as they're finding out about the new designs and new rules before really pushing the performance. And in the case of two teams, getting let down by reliability issues which really .... shouldn't.

I don't really know who I'll be following this year. Previously it would be McLaren due to their brave choice of going to Honda for powerplants. This has not worked well ... Plus they had the boyish charm of the Jenson Button. With the changes in the off season though, I don't know who McLaren are any more. I still applaud their choice of going for something different for the power plant but ... the guts have been ripped out of the team. Not my team any more.

Mercedes is the boring choice, they've manipulated the rules (why not!) to favour their technically advanced solution. That rule book has been somewhat ripped up this year, it'll be good to see what happens. They also have Lewis Hamilton who has my vote for favourite F1 driver.

Of the other teams ... Red Bull are the most proficient technically but ... the drivers really put me off. Ricciardo with his Shooey is disgusting and an embarrassment to the sport. Verstappen is going to get someone seriously hurt. Ferrari have had a humbling time lately but they're the best competitors. The other Brit in the field, Jolyon Palmer was an embarrassment to his family and British racing drivers with his constant crashing last year. I'm amazed to see him back this year. The other Mercedes powered teams don't really have a chance in my view, the Mercedes car will always be better. That's why I applauded McLaren for going down a different route. The gamble hasn't paid off but it was their best chance of emerging from the herd.

World Endurance champs is something I'll keep watching too. That's these cars :
Not made of Lego though. Must look into seeing if I can turn that car into one of these :
The car on the right, not the spaceship dominating the scene. That's from the forthcoming Mass Effect Andromeda, which is being massively hyped by anyone who has played the previous Mass Effect trilogy which had 3 of the best games I've ever played.

World Endurance Champs is a more compelling sport to watch than Formula 1. There are only two teams at the top now (Porsche and Toyota) but they are incredibly evenly matched. You don't know who's going to win before the race. Compare that to Formula 1 and it was a shock if the Mercedes cars didn't run away from the field. And that even matching is continued down the field to the slower categories that race alongside the fastest LMP1 cars.

I think it's a shame that Formula 1 didn't dip into the supply of massively talented racing drivers from World Endurance Champs, where a bunch of drivers suddenly found themselves redundant after Audi pulled out. Yep. The Audi that used "We're coming home to Le Mans" on their adverts after abandoning the series. Poor show Audi.

The Formula 1 will be back testing tomorrow and I'll be curious to see how they do. You want all of the teams to be competitive, to make the races more interesting with the results a genuine surprise. It's been too long since Formula 1 has had that excitement of the random element.

Fingers crossed for excitement from the series !

And some developments coming for us in the road car area too ! The F1 and WEC LMP1s are both hybrid categories now, with motor generators going on brakes and the turbo in F1. The innovation there sees its way into our road cars. I'm not convinced the motor generator in the turbo has a road application, although it does eliminate the turbo lag as well as get a bit of energy recycled back in. The combustion chamber enhancement thing that hit F1 though, that could be handy in a road car.

The F1 and WEC systems are both quite different from the hybrid system in my car though. The race systems supplement the engine and feed a separate gearbox. In my car, the motors are the gearbox.

That's a little too complex for here though !
Hybrid cars with motor generator systems - are the future
Turbochargers with generators - not convinced for the road
Better engine designs - gimme
Smooth driving - love it
Racing - hoping for excitement.

And I'm pondering going to Silverstone for the WEC race this year. Not been yet.