Monday, April 28, 2008

Guilty ...

Ok - the World of Warcraft break didn't last all that long, although I've not gone back into the murky world of the politics that's on my old server. I'm on a different one now with all new characters. So that's most of what my weekend was, I reactivated on Thursday evening and have probably racked up a day and a half of real time play ... That's not particularly healthy but hopefully I'll be able to settle into a reasonable pattern there.

Oops ;-)

The badminton on Wednesday went a lot better than I thought it would, seems like the muscle memory is still there. Which would be a good thing if my body was still the shape it remembers ! I'm very similar in weight but inactivity has caused the muscles to decay a bit. That didn't stop me diving around the court like a mad thing though :-) I put in about 5 dives and a similar number of pirouette spin shots.

The wonderful thing was that my muscles behaved themselves this week and allowed me to get on with the game. In the first week, within 5-10 minutes they felt like they'd had lead injected into them. The sandbag around the middle wasn't really noticeable either. Good signs :-) Just like not having any real muscle soreness the next day was a very good sign. There is a lesson though :

1st week, I failed to warm up before starting, 2nd week I did warm up fully. 1st week I had lots of soreness, 2nd week I was clear of it. Lesson ?

The next stage will be the cricket season. Badminton can be a very energetic game and it's a good way for me to lead my way back in. Cricket's up another level though. Badminton's played in very controlled conditions whereas cricket is out on an open field with bumps, slippy bits and hollows. Not to mention people doing unspeakable things to a small leather cricket ball. My knees and hips aren't really up to that just yet. Will have to give it a few more weeks to see if they strengthen up. The timings are awkward too, most of the games are on Mondays and Wednesdays which are clashing with other things.

Things are looking up physically. Hopefully I'll be able to maintain it without breaking anything.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Ipaq TV on the air :-)

Firstly, please wish Dawn's Mom well, see here for more info.

No Thursday Thirteen this week, although I have one planned ... Not got my 13 myths to put in my 13 myths just yet, working on it :-)

Ipaq TV is on the air, which means I've been successful in :

Hooking up webcam to laptop - trivial :-)
Getting the streaming video thing going - almost trivial
(issues with getting the software from Microsoft)
Ipaq connected to network - hassle ... grr ... wifi ... grr
Ipaq looking at video stream - sorted :-)

I probably won't go for the 100% solution, which would be to make it available via the internet, I don't have a use for that plus I'd have to hook it up via my desktop, which isn't exactly reliable ...

Just one slight problem, which might put a downer on using IpaqTV to fix the Skydish ... I was testing it while watching a Dresden Files episode. The image came up ok but when I waved at the camera, nothing happened. And then I start hearing voices ... I'm not going nuts, it was Dresden Files voices. I listened a little harder and realised - "they said that a minute ago !"

And you've probably just realised what the problem might be ;-) (need to tinker with da buffers)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Monday, April 21, 2008

IpodFM - old hat, time for IpaqTV

I have a new Crazy Project lined up. It's aimed at fixing my Sky dish, which I think has been pushed back against the wall by the wind we've had. It's now about 20-30 degrees out of alignment. The aim of the new Crazy Project is to get the Sky dish pointing back in the right direction. I have 3 options there :

Option 1 - Get a Mate to help
This will involve me on a ladder outside moving the dish and a mate telling me when the signal strength and quality are nice and high again.

Option 2 - Compare against someone elses
There's a Skydish across the road that I could peek at to see what compass direction it's pointing in. One problem - I don't have a compass handy.

Option 3 - Ipaq TV
This would take a few steps to set up :
1 - Webcam connected to laptop again. Not used my webcam for ages.
2 - Laptop has streaming video software installed to get the webcam piccys on to the network.
3 - Ipaq (currently my satnav machine) gets connected to the wi-fi.
4 - Ipaq gets pointed to the video from the laptop.
5 - Telly and Skybox are set to the signal strength/quality page, webcam points at telly.
6 - I go up ladder with Ipaq and wiggle the dish until the meters are high again.

The telly is out of line of sight for where I'd be standing on the ladder, which is why I'd need a remote view of it ...

I'm discounting Option 1 cos it's just plain boring. Plus CK's away for a week so I'd have to pressgang a different person. Option 2 goes because it involves lurking suspiciously around someone else's Skydish and the dish next door to the one I have in mind is broken.

It has to be Option 3 really. That involves poking new pieces of software, crazy positioning of a webcam, abuse of 4 different pieces of electronics and precarious perching on a ladder. It's nuts enough that it just has to be done.

Pictures will follow if it works but not today - going out soon.

PS Pain free today for the first time since last Wednesday :-) Although my knees are still persuading me that it'll be a good idea for me to acquire new knee supports tomorrow.
PS2 Having the webcam wired in like that would let me view it over the internet if I chose to make that happen ...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Handyman Hunter

I'm up at my parents place this weekend, it's birthday weekend. My nan turned 90 yesterday and is still able to cause more chaos than a teenager :-) My mum gains another year next week.

Birthday munchies tonight, which will hopefully be good. We tend to hit two pubs pretty regularly when I'm here, one is in the local town, one is on the outskirts of Lincoln. The Sleaford pub is a drinking pub, not really one you'd want to eat in. The one in Lincoln suffers heavily from a lack of consistency, most of the time the food is good but there's usually one dinner sighted that's heading back into the kitchen due to complaints.

I usually mop up the little electronic jobs when I come back, which I don't mind doing. The burglar alarm has had a seeing to this morning, as it has been chirping away trying to tell us something. It can't get the message through properly though as its designers didn't bless it with too much intelligence ... Problem sorted though.

I'm still a little sore from the badminton on Wednesday, which is something earned by me being idle physically for a couple of years ... Not recommended ! May have to take up jogging around the block to keep my legs moving. It's all honest soreness, the only bit I was wary of was my knee which was really upset with me. However, since Friday I've been able to walk without thinking too much of keeping the knee straight so no new permanent damage there.

Ben greeted me last night by dragging his new toy in, he's now curled up in his bed having a little snooze. He tortures himself a bit does our Ben, I had some toast not so long ago but didn't let him have any.

We hunted cars on the way back from the lunchtime pub, I have a few more ideas of what to look for now. The next one will be :
Something Focus sized or smaller (not likely to be a Focus)
Decent engine - I like having a performance option
Cushiness toys
Not an MPV - I don't need something that big

Looking forward to the munchies tonight and to more badminton next week.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Turning back the clock

I started to break my lazy ways tonight, by appearing at the open badminton session that's available at work on Wednesdays. It's a 2 hour session and we have 4 courts available. We're hoping to have coaching again later in the year too. 2 hours is a bit more than I can handle at the moment, as I was quickly feeling the effects of having not done very much over the last couple of years.

Talk about slow ! I quickly felt like I had concrete injected into my legs and could barely jump cos of the ballast around my middle !

Verrry, very rusty. But :-) Having a pretty girl there meant there was someone to show off to, which always keeps me going when otherwise I'd look for a break. Going for a sidestep left caused my left knee to go "crunch", despite the knee supports I use nowadays. (They're more padding than support ;-) Saying "I better stop" after that crunch would have made turning up a bit pointless, so I kept on going. Besides, there was pretty girl on the other side of the net who would have had a disappointed expression on her face if I'd quit then. Can't have one of those appearing :-)

Showing off can be a motivator as well as a vanity thing :-)

The rust showed in the results, my side lost pretty much every game. I'm not too disappointed though, my muscles are complaining heavily now but have survived the night. I've not aggravated the shoulder injury and was feeling relatively free for playing the overhead shots (at medium to low power). It's a missed overhead shot that caused my shoulder problem in the first place.

The muscle memory was coming back near the end of the night, although the memory is expecting a me that's a couple of stone lighter with legs that are in far better shape. I still have the same size of leg but I get the feeling that half of what's there is deadweight instead of useful. That'll improve as I play more. The old saying is "can only improve from here !"

On to other stuff - I'm feeling human again and getting able to move my legs properly :-) Lactic acid build up doesn't do much for the mobility ...

I have the opening to my first story for the fiction blog outlined. It should be a fun setting, I'll have a bubbly girl as the central character, along with a big brute of a half orc who isn't as stupid as he looks. Let's just say the opening will have a god leching over bubblygirl who's in a haystack with someone ... Putting that "g" word in there (and the half orc) kinda gives it away that it'll be a D&D inspired fantasy setting. You can get away with almost as much in those as you can in sci-fi. I prefer sci-fi but it takes longer to explain things in those and I'm not ready for that just yet.

Stories coming soon :-) I have an outline for the first few chapters, including that haystack scene. Let's see where it goes from there ... She'll be avoiding haystacks by the way, a religious experience will settle her down a bit.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Busy doing not much

Seems like the times when we're most hectic are the times when we don't think we're actually achieving very much ... Weird.

Sometimes you can account for the lack of achievement, like Sunday when I spent most of the day buried in Master of Orion 2 :-) I'm completely unrepentent about that, it's an addiction that I feed every once in a while when I feel the need to trounce the AI. It's a decent game is Moo2 (short name), it's one of those rare sequels that is better than it's original in some way but different enough to make a sequel worth it. Often a game sequel is just the original game tweaked a little - replaced graphics, a new ability or two or beefed up AI. But they'll often follow the same formula as the original.

Moo2 is a kind of hybrid between a space game and a Civilisation derivative. Whereas Civ games usually give your units freedom of movement depending on whether they are land, sea or air, Moo2 allows them only to go between solar systems. Where Civ allows you to build cities anywhere, the Moo2 cities are built on planets. It works well, plus you get the ability to direct what they're building. That's the big problem with the last game in the series, Moo3 decouples the player from what the colonies are doing.

Anyway - I spent most of Sunday beating up the AI and finished my spell in that particular addiction at about 3.30am on Monday morning. It's a 1994 game that's still on my machine and it's simple enough to play that I'm thoroughly addicted to it. I'll fall under its spell every once in a while but I promise myself that after I've beaten it on Impossible (hardest level) on my easy and hard race, then I'll ignore it for a while. We'll see how long that lasts :-)

Yesterday was spent frantically getting the finance reporting done, or rather doing the finance reporting and then trying to get people to realise what the numbers mean. If they don't know where the numbers come from, they don't trust the results, same for if they don't understand what graphs may be telling them.

Monday night was with the D&D group getting into trouble with monsters and local barons. I managed to scare a ghost away which was good ... But bad at the same time because it took a decent magical sword away from us. Ah well :-) It's Ghost Rider now, before lots of clashing TV (recording) tonight.

Tomorrow could be interesting ... There's a badminton club at work that I'm fully intending to make a debut at in the evening. I've not played for a few years now and I'm drastically out of condition. Badminton's also how I bust my shoulder, so I limit the number of overhead shots I go for. Should be fun :-) I get the feeling I'll quickly turn into showing off, depending on who's there and how long my energy lasts :-)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A new project ?

Been thinking of doing a little writing for quite some time now. I have the blog here which gets little snippets of my life added to it every once in a while. However, real life seems rather mundane. I'd rather write about fun stuff, little bit of tension, some excitement and some fun with strong characters interacting with each other, which leads me to fiction.

The stories would have to be in another blog though ... I think I'd struggle to get one out every day and the flow would be disrupted if there was a Thursday Thirteen in the middle of the continuing adventures of Keela and the Gang. I reckon a Wordless Wednesday might fit though :-)

Thing is, what's daunting me about it is the world in which it would live. The best stories will be consistent with each other, which usually means a Plan that the reader doesn't see, except as directed by the author. Maybe a few short ones unconnected to a wider whole first. The D&D and Warhammer groups give very good material there, although you have to be careful of copyright because most role play adventures come from pre-prepared books.

Doctor Who at the moment - now there's an example of a series of short stories :-) I was impressed with Season 1 of the new Dr Who, it fit together its episodes fairly well, with various things getting set up as they went through. Dinner bell too ... time to rescue it before it turns to cinders.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday Fill-ins

This post coming to you via the Friday Fill Ins site :-) Been a weird week this one because I've been hit by bugs that should have knocked me flat over the first couple of days of it. I refused to knuckle under though, just kept on plowing on powered by coffee, pepsi max and mars bars. Think I'll need a decent bit of sleep tomorrow to catch up.

Anyway - time for that Friday Fill in :-)

1. I love springtime in the UK, means plenty of cricket to watch !
2. Toast and Bacon Sarnies are foods I love to eat for breakfast.
3. It seems I'm always searching for companionship and intelligent conversation
4. One last trip around the blogs is a great way to end the day.
5. I think I should get back in the habit of drinking orange juice, might keep the colds away !
6. More Pocket Dragons is what I've been craving lately.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to chilling out with music and muted golf commentators, tomorrow my plans include having a long restorative sleep :-) and Sunday, I want to maybe have a look at the fence panel and the satellite dish that's not too happy at the moment !

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - "Now and Then"

2 pictures today ... This is "then", a screenie from 1984 of a ship approaching a space station. It's from the Wikipedia entry for Elite.



This is "now", or more precisely a couple of weeks ago while I was moving stuff around.


Eve Trinity is pretty :-)

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Diana Verdict

Apologies in advance for any ranting I put in here :-) It's directed at old men and overenthusiastic press people.

We had the Diana coroner verdict announced yesterday and the conclusion they reached was "unlawfully killed due to 'gross negligence' of driver Henri Paul and the paparazzi." More from the BBC here ... It's confirmed a few things that we've known for over 10 years :

The driver of the car was driving under the influence of alcohol
The passengers were content to be driven by him
The only person to survive was the only one wearing a seatbelt
Paparazzi are ... ... ... ... ... ... swine.
(had to delete a few words from the paparazzi bit or I'd have broken my record for swearing in a post - insert nasty words and curses as you see fit)

I'm hoping that the verdict will put to bed the various conspiracy theories that surround Diana. The memories that we used to have of Diana surrounded the good things she got up to while she was alive. Those are steadily getting replaced by the stories that have cropped up since that crash. Even though I wasn't a Diana fan when she was around, any hostility I felt has well and truly been replaced by sympathy driven by how the conspiracy people are masking the good things.

There's a little more than the coroner's inquest at work with Diana though. There's also the two men who have taken grievous advantage of the confidence shown in them by our former Princess. To his credit, one of those two men has stayed quiet lately. The other one is helping to fuel the conspiracy theories, with the inquest judge telling the jury that it was "blindingly obvious" that he had lied to them.

It's not often I feel the need for a rant but the conspiracy theorists have drawn one out of me this time ... It's been over ten years since Diana died and the nation showed how much she was loved when it happened. The latest investigation to report confirmed what we already knew from the previous inquests.

Time to let the poor girl rest.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

See ? Snow ! :-)


But not too much of it any more. Thought I'd better capture the evidence before it all disappeared again. The car in the foreground is my faithful little puddycat, the snow doesn't show up very well on the silver but it's more visible on the windscreen. It's currently 10.20am here and the location of the houses means my car's in the shade. That's why it's probably the only car around with snow still on it :-)

Makes it a little more interesting in most of the winter for de-icing but that's where a front screen heater comes in very handy. It also means that in summer, I can sit in my car in the morning without having a burnt behind :-) That was the only disadvantage of the leather seats in my last car, they scorched your bum when they got hot. I've been back to cloth in this car though.

(addon - it's now 10.45am and that snow is all gone !)

Addon 2 - it's now 5pm and I got prompted to look out the window by an email from CK saying that the snow hadn't lasted long. This is the scene outside :


Poor Chronos, in his chair again wearing an absolutely disgusted expression on his face due to noticing me open my upstairs window again to take the piccy above that I'm calling "Snow Cat". Those little white streaks on the picture is snow, although it might need a clicky to make the picture large enough to see them.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Ooookay ...

Just spotted on Amazon while surfing the things they're recommending me :

Recommended for you : Electronics & Photo.

Item - DVD-R recordable spindle, 50 discs.
Recommended because you said you owned : Harry Turtledove's Colonisation Second Contact.

I could understand being recommended a DVD-R disc spindle if I'd done any PC hardware buying through Amazon but the only hardware I've acquired there is the Bluetooth gps receiver (still happy with that widget). I don't trust them all that much but I use Overclockers.co.uk for my PC hardware buying. They're cheap and have mostly given me good bits. What's Second Contact ? It's a book about aliens coming to Earth to take it over as a colony planet. There's no cd's in there ...

I wonder why Amazon can't think of anything to recommend for me on Garden & Outdoors or Kitchen & Home. Funny that ;-)

Back to House MD watching and thinking about whether I should eat something :-) That's one thing I get when I have bugs. It worked pretty well last time I got bugs bad enough to get me off work. I lost half a stone in 3 days ...

PS I am currently in a state of being a little irked. Partly because I'd like to pass on a link about something. Mostly because I can't pass on that link because work wouldn't like it. I may have to hide it somewhere :-) :-) :-)

Happy birthday CK :-)

It's CK's birthday very soon, so a bunch of the Crazies hit Preview Bar & Grill for lunch before heading off to do some bowling. It's the first Saturday of a school holiday time, so it was absolutely packed. The kind of packed where you're keeping as much of an eye on small people as you are on the pins ;-)

Being packed also means you're not so likely to get the balls you need, in our case CK, Bionicdwarf and me all like to have size 10 balls with large holes ... My hands aren't that big but I can't release a bowling ball properly unless the holes are right. I got my benchmark in both games by getting 116 in the first and 100 in the second. I use a size 10 ball because while I have the arm strength to use a 12, I'll not have much hope of keeping that going over a couple of games.

I don't bowl too often, so I'm usually relearning how to get the consistency going, so I'm quite happy with hitting my 100 benchmark this time. Even though in the second game, I needed a Spare and 9 to make the hundred ... Good start in that game but I had a period in the middle where I only got 2 pins down in a couple of frames. The problem in my shoulder doesn't affect 10 pin bowling, as the flaw there kicks in when my arm is pointing upwards. 10 pin bowling balls are a bit heavy for that and a cricket bowling action would get you evicted from a 10 pin alley due to scaring everyone with 100 yards :-)

Results :
Bionicdwarf coming out in front with a bit of Smirnoff Ice powered consistency
CK being 3rd in the first game and 2nd in the second
Me hitting my benchmarks but struggling for consistency
CQ doing her best but struggling due to poorly arm

Bowling's fun :-) And the waitress in Preview Bar & Grill was rather pretty too. However, I can see the time coming very soon where I need to hit the coffee again. There's another one of those bugs going round at work again, I have a feeling it may be my turn. Strong, milky coffee is great, because I make it strong enough to make my hair stand on end and smooth enough to ease a sore throat :-)

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Thursday Thirteen

Back to what's pretty much my roots again :-) Today is a chance to recalling some of the games I spent far too much time on in the past.


Thirteen Things about Classic Games


1.... First and Foremost - Elite ! The original computer space game. You're on your own with a beat up ship. No weapons to speak of and minimal equipment. Your aim - to shoot your way to the top ratings and to trade your way into all-shiny bits for your ship. Elite's gone through several versions and is about the only game I know to have a version for Every! computer platform and some consoles too.

2.... Pacman. Another really old classic. This one has the gift of being oh so simple to play and incredibly addictive.

3.... Civilisation. Simple in theory, epic in scale. However, it did get a little frustrating though when your tank army got held up by a spear toting savage. (One for the aliens in Harry Turtledove's Worldwar books!) This one has sprouted 3 sequels so far, with a multitude of other games also using the same game concept. It's always a sign of a top game when others copy it.

4.... Revs. Another BBC Micro game. This one wasn't the first racing game to hit a computer screen but it was probably the first to really go for accuracy. If you've heard of Geoff Crammond's Grand Prix series, then this is Geoff Crammond's GP Version Zero.

5.... Badminton. Hey ! You thought I was going to put 13 pooter games in here :-) Quick, fast, energetic but there's still a chance for the old git with a little bit of skill to put one over on the young 'uns. I haven't played enough of this game lately, I still love the game despite it being the reason why my right shoulder has pretty much disintegrated.

6.... Master of Orion 1 and 2. I've mentioned this one before and it got me the link to the Moo2 Blogspot site. Another pair of strategy games here, this time set in space. You start with just your homeworld and before the end you'll have a Star Empire sending ships across the galaxy through immense stargates. You'll have not just one Death Star but a fleet of them. You'll turn asteroids into planets and dead planets into garden paradises. In between defeating all enemies and crushing all resistance of course. Moo3 was a bit of a let down. It was much bigger but kinda missed the thing that makes a game Great.

7.... Pen and Paper Role Play Games. Lots of people go down the pub to have a laugh with their mates. I've never really been into that, I enjoy it more having a cleric or a mage or a mad warrior going down the pub in some fantasy place. And then there's the mysteries and the monster slaying too.

8.... World of Warcraft ... Up to level 60/70 ! Making an important distinction there as this is a game that changes utterly when you get to the maximum level. Before, it is most certainly the best game I've played. Full of content, variation and before a recent patch, well paced. However, when you get to the maximum level you're at the mercy of the other players around. It only takes a couple of people to turn a few hours play into severe hard work when it should be fun.

9.... Cricket. Another one where anyone can play it. The big skinny lanky bloke can bowl fast, the short chubby batsman makes the fielders run to the boundary. The whippet boy will terrorize from the close field. The youngster provides the energy and spirit that drives the rest on. Crafty guy will put the batsmen in a spin and the crotchety old git will be the rock that holds the batting together.

10.. UFO Enemy Unknown. Also known as X-Com. This one has you as the commander of an elite group charged with saving the world from alien incursions. It blended a real time portion where you had fighter aircraft to intercept UFOs with a take turns based portion where you sent in the boys (and girls) to give those aliens a jolly good kicking before stealing all their loot. This one spawned a clone of a sequel that I never played and an exceptional second sequel called X-Com Apocalypse. Apocalypse was a little different and a good evolution on the first. There was also X-Com Interceptor, same again but in space with light fighter craft and finally the ill-fated X-Com Enforcer.

11... Karting. I've had a chance to race in a few karting sessions and it's always a thrill. A kart is pretty much just a frame with a seat bolted to it, a lawnmower engine, a little steering and four wheels at the corners. The driver is connected to it through the seat of their pants and they'll feel every bump and every slip where the tyres are itching to go in a different question to the one you intended. Far more immediate than driving something with springs, plus it's competition and competition always gets me interested :-)

12... Mischief Running. Otherwise known as seeing whether you can get away with winding people up. Mischief because that's the fun part. Running because that's what you'll end up doing if you push it too far :-)

13... Microsoft's Windows games ! Many a lunchtime has been spent chilling out to Freecell, Spider, Solitaire and Minesweeper.




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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Back to werk

After my week and a bit skive, I've been back at work for a couple of days now.

Yesterday was a bit of a bust, we could get email but we didn't have access to the server that holds all of our data. And without data, there's not much you can actually achieve. Unless you can get to other servers with more data on them :-) We got our shared area back midway through the afternoon, so most of us were back in business. That would be the people who had gone through the recent server migration unscathed.

Today was more like it, although it ended up being one of those days where you're scurrying around doing lots of stuff except for what you intended to do :-) Which would be set up a heap of spreadsheets that will make my life easier over the next year as well as getting me the odd brownie point.

The week off seems to have done me some good :-) I was charging around yesterday with far more zip than I've had for months. Could have been something to do with the company I had on the way in from the car park. Miss L is always a wonderful person to talk to, although I tend to babble too much when I see her.

Hopefully the zip will last me for a while, as I'm already suffering the effects of the various injuries I live with. The most prominent is currently shinsplints. There's two areas where the shins can suffer, the first being where the bone gets weak. I get around that by trying to drink around a pint of milk a day for the calcium. The second is more complex, it's when the problem is in the lower leg muscles. I have rather over developed calf muscles, so the problem is probably due to the muscles that oppose the calves not being strong enough.

It's ignorable :-) And I think my walking style where I try and walk fast but quiet should ease it a bit.

Last thought and this is one shared yesterday with Miss L - it's really good to be in British Summer Time again. The light is just going here, at 7.30 in the evening. Dinner bell is going off, so I'm about to turn the room light on before settling down in front of Raiders of the Lost Ark with my dinner. And maybe some popcorn for the second half :-)