Tuesday, January 26, 2010

To Eve or not to Eve

Doh ! Another evening goes by where I didn't reactivate the Eve subscription. Guess I got kinda distracted tonight :

Think I got 4 Stargates out of the way and then it was tapping in a blog post on the techie zone about my Acer laptop, bought just before Xmas. (Linky!)

I had the response back from the petition I put in about my account getting hacked. CCPs reaction here is a little behind what I've heard of what happens with hacked Warcraft accounts. With WoW, the account gets the money given back and trashed items appear in the mail. You lose a little from the configurable items but not really that much. With Eve, it looks like I'll just get the money back. That's good from some points of view as a lot of the ships that were sold, I wasn't using anyway. But ... the price to Buy an item in Eve is almost always more than what you get from Selling, so I'll lose game cash from a couple of things :

Configurable items - will need to buy the configurable bit again
Buy/Sell difference.

My main Empire ("safe" space) ship was a Nighthawk, last time I looked they were 250 million to buy and 200 million to sell. So that's a 50 million cost there. Plus quite a few millions for the configurable items. I'll have to take stock when I go back in.

Can't really see why they couldn't dig in the backups to restore the character totally to an earlier time. Maybe it's a policy decision, maybe it's just too difficult to dive into backups. Smacks a bit of lack of effort on the part of the people running the game. I'll head back into Eve soon, it just seems a waste to reactivate at 11pm at night when I'm wondering what my bed time will be :-) And I've been managing to distract myself quite well lately ...

(Too much telly!)

Still don't know where I'll be working this time next month. Some of the support that was promised has failed to materialise. Maybe that's a hint to get a bit more proactive ?

It's affecting a few people and in curious ways too. I'm desperately trying not to show anything (show no weakness ethic) but I think the uncertainty stress is what's behind my stiff back flaring up. The back has been getting more distracting lately, sometimes to the point where it makes my thinking fuzzy. Constant low level pain does very strange things to the mind.

There's a contrast too with a couple of us. I'm not too bothered about being pushed out, as I know I've been on my project far too long. However, me, my boss and his boss are painfully aware that my tasks are ongoing essential tasks that cannot be neglected. So I've not fought the "post disestablished" thing because I knew it was time to move on but maybe it would have been better for the project if I'd dug the trench instead of escape tunnel ? The contrast comes with another person who's being pushed out, they're fighting to keep the post, not wanting to let go.

We have a few who are looking jealously at the people in my position cos they'd actually quite like to leave. Fewer people means the ones left behind pick up more work, which is tough to take when they're overworked already. Despite the image the media like to give us, we civil servants work damn hard. Same as any place, there's the lightweight waste of space passengers and the people who work themselves into early graves. One of my Mischief Campaigns is to keep a grin on one of those hard working people :-)

Uncertainty causes all sorts of stress. It's an unwelcome distraction that gets in the way of you focusing on what you were intending to do.

After the Norah Jones album on now (Feels Like Home - good album!) I'll be looking for sleep ... I'm needing the sleep to help me combat the stress. While I have the weight under control right now, I do tend to comfort eat. Had to stop myself from raiding even more chocolate earlier ...

The uncertainty stress is hitting another of my colleagues like that too. Stress about one thing tends to make you notice the "normal" stress things more. So with me, it brings out the soreness from my broken bits. With my colleague, the uncertainty stress is bringing out what she's most worried about, which is being bigger than she wants to be. Sleepypete's opinion ? She hasn't got a problem :-) The inner beauty still shines out just as much as it always has and she got a disbelieving look the other day with the weight thing.

And I've probably put enough in that last para to get me strapped in to a torture chamber (with "training room" sign on door) with the Equality and Diversity course locked into a machine.

The only way of really dealing with stress is to identify the cause. Without knowing that, you can't begin to identify how to beat the problem. And it has to be the root cause too, like my aches being down partly to the cold but mostly they're due to uncertainty stress. Or my foxy colleague getting conned into thinking she's bigger than she wants to be due to the stress of Big Change Coming.

There's a few more facets of stress I'm experiencing at the moment - uncertainty with the job is a big one but I also seem to have a clock chiming quite loudly at the moment with apparently not many options. Let's just say I have toys I'd like to share with someone special. (Hey ! Who sniggered ?! ;-) Trouble is I don't know who that special someone is yet.

Lol - and here comes yet another E-Harmony advert like some sort of hint ;-)

Erm - I started this post talking about whether I'd be getting back into an online game didn't I ... Oops !

PS Where did I leave the cookies ?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Are banks any use at all ?

This problem's partly of my own making but it's had me ranting anyway :-)

Monday night. I'm paying off the credit cards as I do every month. The first one goes through fine, I pay from the bank via a Maestro card as usual (fancy newer name for Switch). Then I go to my other card, which I only use online because I can't find its PIN. Cos of the Eve account hack a couple of weeks ago, I have new passwords ...

You can probably guess the start of the problem.

Yep - I'm currently locked out of the online banking that looks after one of my credit cards (I think it was a glitch in the security question). That should be a case of "not a problem - I'll just ring them up".

Nope. Nice try but not with Halifax ... They only accept payments over the phone from a couple of banks, neither of which I have an account with. Again, should be a case of "no problem, I'll send the money from my bank's online page".

Nope. My bank changed things a little while ago (unknown time because I never saw any warnings with this) so that to create a new payee online, you need a Widget to put a card in. And it takes 15 days for the Widget to be posted. Oh yeah, this is a bank that has the slogan "Helpful Banking".

So, what's the way forward to make sure I don't get a debt collection agency ringing up to chase me for about £70 ?

1 - I get back into Halifax's online thing. I'm hoping Royal Mail will exceed recent performance and get a letter through tomorrow that'll let me do just that. Problem solved.
2 - Wait for Helpful Banking to send me the authenticator widget. Not an option cos debt collection will poke me first.
3 - Use Helpful Banking's telephone service. Good option but I don't trust the person on the other end of the phone to accurately read in 34 numbers and that's just the ones to set up the Halifax payment.
4 - Back up plan. I like this one cos although it means I expend a couple of hours of flexi credit, I get to wander around Bristol doing some window shopping.

That's another beef with Halifax. They used to have a branch within 5 minutes walking of where I live, with a cash machine. Gotta admit, I only went in there once to try and sort out the PIN on the card, with the result of being told to go away cos they couldn't deal with it in there. (Poss due to me coming in 5 minutes before closing ????). That branch has gone now, taking the cash machine with it. So the closest Halifax to me is in the centre of Bristol. Option 4 would have me sharing a little angst with the people in the branch in Bristol.


I think I may be in a Firing state of mind. Amazon have lost my faith through the Watchmen saga, now it's the turn of Halifax. I have 2 credit cards, had 3 until recently with the 3rd being closed down through never being used. (Got grabbed by Credit Card Girl with Pretty Eyes when I had time on my hands)

This credit card thing has an upside though :-)

I don't use my house phone much. I had one of those Very strange coincidences though on Monday ... The lockout meant I went to ring up Halifax. So I pick up the phone, think "why battery dead ?" Then I think : "this phone is kinda warm". Before realising it was actually quite hot, with the melty sensation coming from behind the thick plastic cover of the battery compartment.

There's a pair of AAA rechargeables in my house phone that I suspect were close to doing a Mt Vesuvius.

So - lockout of credit card leads to saving money on not needing to replace the house phone :-) (which incidentally lives beside my surround sound amp) I have a feeling I'll be buying stuff on Friday though, so maybe not that much cash saved !

PS I suspect I'm not actually under that much time pressure, the payment I made almost 3 weeks ago may cover me.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Toys and Signs

Currently watching one of James May's Toy Stories, recorded from Xmas. (I know, I take a while to catch up with my telly!). It was recorded late, so I have the sign language lady off at the side.

It's the episode with the Lego House, where they're going to use 3 million Lego bricks to build something for James May to live in for a day. Everybody knows Lego, I even have it lying around the house adding to what can only loosely be called decoration :-)

That's my surround sound amp, which has lost me some hair over the last couple of weeks. 2 lights on there, "on" light is good, "stereo" light is bad. The XWing currently has the TIE in its gunsights, although that should probably be the other way around seeing as the last Star Wars film I watched was Empire Strikes Back, which ends with the Empire having the upper hand. Oh yeah, I sprinkled the dust specially for the picture.

Back to James May - it's been a pleasantly surprising series this one. I occasionally watch Top Gear, which is how James May came to the attention. He's always been a bit grumpy in that, overshadowed by the other two presenters. However, he sticks to his guns and is one of the three I have most respect for. The Toy Stories series is well worth watching :-)

It passes one of the most important tests for entertainment television : It's Fun.

And here's a link to the pictures on the Top Gear site.

What was that bit about sign language ?

The most important thing about humanity is our ability to communicate. (Hmm. What does it say about me when I admit I just hit a wall when trying to think of something profound to follow that ?) Yep - communication leads to understanding leads to community. Things are just Better when shared. Movies are more fun when you can talk them over after, you spot stuff you totally missed. Problems are easier when you can talk them through. Talking is the basis of song. Putting stuff on here lets me get the rattlings out of my head which would otherwise send me nuts.

And this is where I mention the Sign Language Lady. Initial thought as a person who has all senses intact is : "that looks weird". Which is the naive kiddie thought. That quickly dissipates when you watch more. What they've come up with is a brilliant system to allow communication when a disability gets in the way. It's clear, simple and is just as quick as vocal communication. Possibly even quicker because the sound actually takes longer than the gestures.

But it's not just the words that come across, Sign Language Lady and Sign Language Bloke are often Awesome at also passing on the emotion. Their translation adds in context that's not easy to put into words. They change the transcript from what could be a flat Wall Of Text into a presentation that also includes the feelings and expression.

There's a section where the designer spots a change the builder put in. "Winnie the Pooh's Poo" colour is how she puts it. And the disgust in her voice is plain on the face of Sign Language Lady. As is the sense of "Wow!" when they're entering the final house. And the "oo eck" as something is going to break. (And a "what are they like" look at the testing of the loo)

They look like they really enjoy their work, which is another sign for how communication makes our lives so much better. I'm actually watching Sign Language Lady as much as the programme, without any training the gestures are simple enough even for ignorant me to make sense of.

It just shows, when there's something stopping you do something you really want to do, there's usually a way around the problem. Magic !

To close, watching Sign Language Lady made me think back to something I saw in 2006. It was a 2 hour special called the Secret Policeman's Ball. To be bluntly honest, it was an utter disaster and we turned it off after only an hour. However, there were 4 minutes of magic hidden in there :

It's Natalie Imbruglia's Torn from 2006, with signage. (Youtube link)

I'm useless with languages so I can't tell if that is actually British Sign Language but it looked amazing on the night, so good I still remember it years later. Well worth a peek.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sleepypete 1 Technology 0

I win again ! This time though, I'm not sure if I should be shouting about it or keeping quiet about it.

Problem :

New blu-ray player looks great, sounds great. But it only sounds great in the front speakers with nothing coming through on the back ones.


Cue lots of peeking in manuals, peeking on forums, peeking on support sites. And a little bit of window shopping at new kit to do the sound. I reckon I was incredibly close to shelling out on the sound widgets too :-) Until tonight that is when I got curious enough to compare the old dvd player's picture to what the blu-ray player does with dvds.

What's the difference ? And this directly goes towards answering anybody's questions with regards to "Do I Really need to upgrade to a blu-ray player ?" :-) Dvd vs Blu-ray. I'm not convinced here, the blu-ray picture is sharper with more detail. However, the blu-ray player will also improve how the dvds look. I'm quite impressed with what's called "HDMI upscaling". It turns fuzzy locks into strands of hair, that's the kind of detail improvement you get. Not sure if you'd notice it if you weren't looking for it but the extra definition does help when compared to trying a 10 year old dvd player on a new LCD telly.

For one thing, the digital HDMI lead gives a sharper picture cos it uses a better variety of Wiggly Amp (techie term) to tell the telly what to show. My old player was limited to a picture cable that was a big cause of fuzziness. Devices are a lot better now too, instead of being "just good enough" to turn bits into colours it has plenty of extra time to clear the picture up.

Let's just say that a dvd movie like the newer Star Wars trilogy (and A New Hope too) look pretty darn good when played through the blu-ray player and telly combination. Using the old dvd player gives a bit of a blocky picture.

So - blu-ray's - MEH, not convinced they offer a significant improvement over dvd to be worth costing more. Blu ray player (and probably newer dvd players) - Me Likey the better picture.

Where was I ?

Ahhh - sound. I chuck Revenge of the Sith into the old dvd player after watching it all the way through last night. I'm peeking for the lightsaber fights near the end, the new kit seemed to be a lot more fluid (i.e. less jumpiness) than I remember. But ... what's this ? The rear speakers are oh so quiet ...


Thinking cap comes on and I start wondering why. I also switch to the Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, as the bit at the start with the missile flying in is fantastic for checking surround sound. Still no sound out of the back. So I look a little further.


This is where I realise I've been caught out with a laziness habit I've developed, related to listening to iTunes via my remote speakers instead of on laptops. My surround amp has 5 modes : "Music", "Movie", "Fourpoint", "Stereo" and "None". Music and Movie are a waste of time because they introduce messing around that does nothing for sound quality. Fourpoint is designed for PC gaming, where you have the PC sending 4 audio channels to the amp. Stereo is 2 channels only. "None" means it's taking the digital audio input that gets sent by the dvd player.

I'd been keeping the amp on "Stereo", thinking it would still be able to understand the more complex Dolby Digital. Oops. Never realised it also turned the surround sound signal into stereo as well, that comes via a different wire.

I've stopped banging my head on the wall now long enough to stop the neighbours getting worried and have been enjoying some of that "Sound's coming from all over the place!" surround sound goodness :-) Hopefully my long over due from Amazon Watchmen blu-ray will finally arrive in the next couple of days so I can test it with that.

So I now have 5.1 surround sound :-) And have incidentally saved myself at least £370 I now no longer need to spend. Yey ! But on the flipside, no new toys and the original problem was caused by me being a lazy idiot who assumed he knew more than he actually did.

I'll keep the money cos that'll work out to almost 925 teacakes and therefore enough cash to grin at the Little Canteen Girl at the start of every working day for over 3 years to come. And that's definitely something to look forward to :-)

End of the lesson - never assume you know everything, cos that assumption will be what catches you out making you look like an idiot.

PS Watchmen blu-ray. Ordered from Amazon Tuesday 29th. Supposedly dispatched Weds 30th. Outlander was ordered at the same time and arrived that weekend. Still nothing from Amazon, although they have refunded the first class postage fee. I reckon I'll be complaining at them again on Monday and Amazon are very close to being Blacklisted, which puts them on my Do Not Buy list. Plenty of competition out there hungry for business that will happily step in when someone lets you down.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Technology's looking for more cash ...

I think the technology is looking for me to spend a little more cash on it. I have the pictures all sorted out but the sound is taking a little more doing.

Actually, the physical stuff too - I still need to move the telly into what would be its final position. Need a volunteer to take my old one away first though I think :-) I reckon the physical stuff of playing games on the telly is doomed though, had a reaction today to a decent "research" session yesterday. Due to an accident quite a few years ago, I've been left with a dodgy shoulder (more info on link). The short form of what that means is that on bad days I have restricted blood flow in my right arm. That leads to a low level pain ache in the shoulder itself, stiffness and knock on effects down the arm. The worst of that is wrist and tendon RSI, feels sometimes like there's a bag of gravel and glass in my wrist when I move my hand.

Anyway - I was enjoying a pretty decent gaming session yesterday and I've been getting the reminders today that I should have been doing something more productive ;-)

Ok - that's enough whinge, what was the gaming like on the big telly ? It looks spectacular, having the gaming pics on a 32" screen running 1080p. To the credit of my (cheap!) Samsung series 530 telly, it handles the game images extremely well. With telly stuff, I can see a little bit of motion blur with cricketers swinging their arms around. I don't see that with the PC hooked up to it. World of Warcraft looks great on it and I can even read the text chat. I have trouble reading the button chat though (more below). Mass Effect looks spectacular. The picture is sharp (although Mass Effect's visuals are enhanced by a Fuzzi-Fier) and they keep up with the action.

I can have the keyboard, mouse (mice! I have 2 in telly gaming mode) and I also have sound coming over but it's not a particularly comfortable position. Leads going across the floor is something that would get me slapped if someone else lived here but it's not something I'm bothered about :-)

Yep - looks great, how does it affect playability ? This is where the telly gaming may be a bit doomed. Mass Effect plays well, it was intended to be on consoles as well as PC so part of its design has it being set up for tellies. Warcraft doesn't work so well, as the different screen size makes it tricky for me to track what's going on with the character. Tricky to describe it but I mentally map locations on screen and keyboard so I can be more precise and efficient with controlling the character. Attack of the Hard Core gamer ! So the gaming test didn't last long with WoW.

Doh - confession time, with my Eve account getting hacked (disappointed that I've heard nothing from the people who run that game) part of my password changing knee jerking was to change my Warcraft password. Which is when I noticed that they were offering me a 7 day free pass. So I had the chance to say hello to the VR mob again :-) They're a fun bunch to be around - that's the key to all Massive Multiplayer Online games, a good community makes the game transcend the single player experience. The VR people never forget they're in the game to have fun.

Of the two, Eve has the more stunning visuals. Warcraft is more accessible. Eve's changes are gradual, Warcraft's are cataclysmic. Eve has an immense learning curve but if you read around the game then knowledge, tactics and technique overcomes skill. Gear doesn't tend to have that much effect outside of gaming Rock Paper Scissors, which is intentional on the part of the game design. Warcraft is far easier to play but skill in that game tends to be in learning what buttons to press in what order. Outside of handling the scripting, there's not much in the way of tactics. Oh - the most important thing is that Eve is a persistent universe with the map being actively changed by its players, whereas the Warcraft universe is static with the only significant changes coming with expansion packs.

I'm a fan of both games but because I'm not heavily involved with the management of the communities I'm a part of (that's not a bad thing), I tend to drift in and out of Eve and WoW. When I was in the Mercs back on the Maelstrom, I played WoW far more than I ought due to feeling obliged to keep the guild going for its members. I don't have that pull in Eve or WoW. The WoW people definitely don't need it, their leadership has a great handle on what their guild needs to be. They have an excellent balance between Play Fun and Play Work. The Eve alliance has strong leadership as well but possibly a bit too strong. They have a direction they want the alliance to go in but they have issues with trusting people with knowledge of that direction.

Bit of a shame that my Eve account disappeared before I had a chance to see what it would have been like on the big screen. Thoughts - I think it would have handled it better than WoW because it's less of a twitch game. There's more thinking and planning in Eve than the button mashing of WoW. Chat text might have been a bit tiny though :-)

Uhoh. My "You're a rambling fool" alarm is going off.

Gaming on the telly - interesting and has lots of potential. The images look spectacular on the big screen. But I think it would tear my arm apart if I did too much of the telly gaming. It has me pondering buying stuff though, which gets me back to the original subject ...

See how I digress ? It's gotten me through 1.5 Stargate episodes so far !

Shopping list :
Surround sound amp cos I've given up with my current one - £270
Surround speakers cos mine aren't up to the job - £200
Stands - £50 minimum (probably more)
Cables - £50 minimum
Big Widescreen monitor for pooter

Not really researched the new monitor as it's far down the priority list. It'll probably only happen when my current monitor breaks, as I'm far more interested in better sound. My gaming addiction has been replaced by music and movies addictions ! But because it's expensive, I'll hang around for a bit and live with stereo.

Still sounds great, the Samsung looks great, shame my arm doesn't appreciate it !

Thursday, January 07, 2010

White out

Getting some extreme weather over here in Blighty :-)

We're getting away with it a bit where I live but that still means we have a couple of inches of snow lying on the ground. The snow started on Tuesday and came down heavily that evening. I had a severe dose of Cabin Fever, which ended up in me heading out to our local Mall.

That reminds me ... I bought a few cookies while I was there and one has survived. Not for long :-)

Had a good rummage up there, the Mall was far too crowded last week (I like being around people but overcrowding gets me nervous) for a comfortable peek. As well as the cookies, I brought back copies of Batman Begins and Dark Knight on Blu-Ray. Both excellent movies, although the Joker's insanity is not the most comfortable viewing.

Bah - I digress :-) (as usual !)

Headed out of the Mall as it was just starting to get dark. The footing was fairly ok, there didn't seem to be much ice. At least I didn't notice until I started driving :-) Wheelspin ... wheelspin and a bit more wheelspin. My current car is 170bhp driving the front two wheels, so it's not the easiest of things to keep traction with. I'm gaining a lot of appreciation for the electronic toys it has though :-)

Toy 1 - Snowflake light. Yellow snowflake means BRR, put gloves on (ice warning, temp's between 1 and 5 degrees C). Red snowflake means it's ... ... freezing (below 1 degree C)
Toy 2 - Anti-lock brakes. Seriously, I will not buy another car unless it comes with anti-lock brakes. They're the difference between hitting something and stopping short. There's a technique called Cadence Braking, where you pulse your foot on the brake pedal to get the wheels turning again so they can do useful braking. I've actually used it too. However, it's far better to leave it to an onboard computer as it's much more effective than a slow human.

Toy 3 - Traction Control. This is the biggie, I don't think I'd have gotten into work yesterday if it wasn't as effective. In my last car, this worked by touching the brakes on if a wheel was spinning. In my Focus, it works by limiting the power produced by the engine.

Huh ? What dat meen ?

It means that when I pulled away yesterday morning on a road coated with snow packed down smooth, the car accelerates gently away instead of going nowhere as spinning wheels polish the ice even more. True, there's wheelspin but then the brainz inside the car takes over to make the car push forward slowly. This is wheelspin on treated roads coming in second gear too ...

I mentioned above that I got away with the conditions a bit here, the cul-de-sac I live on is ungritted but is flat enough to be passable. You just have to take it very slowly and expect to slide. As I did when coming back in the evening, needing to drive around someone coming the other way. 4 wheel slidey time ... The rest of the urban roads are fine but we're anticipating major problems as the freezing cold conditions turn the snow to ice.

It's very dangerous out there, even with just a couple of inches. I'm seeing some amazing pictures on Sky news at the moment - telly's muted as I'm listening to iTunes. Cars upside down where they've slid over wall terraces, motorways that are car parks. I only have 5 miles to go to get to work and only 200 yards of that is ungritted.

How many people got into work ? Yesterday was my first day back after Xmas and we had about 1 in 7 people in, probably less. I'm picking 1 in 7 as my number cos the Newsies said that's how many didn't get into work. I reckon it was probably the other way around yesterday. A lot more made it in today and the roads were far busier.

Back in tomorrow - can't miss out on my first bacon sarnie for a fortnight.

Oh - last thing for this post. When I hit Tescos tonight I was doing a MutterMutterMutter while finding a car park spot ... People had left trolleys in the roadways, they'd just dumped them after putting their stuff in the car. This drew the inevitable "MUPPETS!" until I tried getting my shopping to the car. Let's just say that I found it easier to carry my empty trolley to the trolley hut instead of wheeling it over there :-)

Monday, January 04, 2010

Holidays almost done

Back to work for me on Wednesday. I'll have had a longer than usual break, with it lasting 12 working days in total spanning 3 weeks. It usually takes me less than a week to get horribly bored when I'm away from work but there's been enough going on to stop that happening this time :-)

There's been the excitement mentioned in the post below but I'm going to park that for now. I've not seen anything back from the Eve people yet to tell me if they take honest customers seriously. (Early days still)

Technology has been the key thing over this break :-) Starting with my old laptop choosing the first Sunday of the holiday to finally decide it also wanted time off. So that's money spending thing No 1 :-) The Acer is quite a decent laptop to be honest. I've seen 3 of them so far and the build quality is pretty good. Much better than my old HP, which felt a lot lighter (weaker) in its construction to the point of fit lines not matching up properly. I'd heavily criticise the touchpad on the Acer though, it's not nearly as good as the HP's touchpad.

I think it was the start of the break when I had to hide my wireless network's identifier. The sound on the streaming music would break up and after 10-15 minutes (or shorter) the sound would stop entirely. I suspect someone around here has the virus that takes over a PC's wifi, creating a "Free Public Wi-Fi" network which it then uses to spread. I've seen that a few times. What I think it was also doing was a brute force attempt to crack the encryption security on my own network. Hiding the identifier has made the problem go away.

Come to think of it - the "Free Public Wi-Fi" thing could be where the Nastie that stole my Eve account's info came from. The techie stuff says that laptops will try and connect to this if they don't have any better ideas, so it could be where the Nastie got in.

Hey ! Thought I'd parked that account stealing thing :-)

Xmas was up at the parents with the family there. I got me an Ipod upgrade, with the Ipod having a few interesting toys attached ... I now need an iPod sock to keep it unscratched. Had a few more bits of music appear in the library too - I'm now up to 3655 songs that would take 10.2 days to listen to. Of those, I've managed to listen to 1478 of them over the past 4 weeks. Will probably crack 1500 and maybe get close to 1600 by the time I go back to werk :-)

While up there, I put up my nan's new TV bracket, which has it attached to the wall. Not an experience I'm planning to repeat any time soon ! I don't think I need to in my current room anyway, although I do still need to move things around in here.

28th was the Crazies Xmas Part-ay, with Secret Santa. Was good to see the gang all there :-) I managed to recruit the help of our BionicDwarf to get my old telly shifted off its stand. I put the telly there myself a few years ago but I reckon in the process I busted something in my side which has killed my bowling action. Was well appreciated having the assist :-) Crazie Party - we watched Ice Age, Moon and Dogma, all 3 of those being excellent films. Must watch Ice Age again soon, not got Dogma yet.

New telly ! This arrived on the Tuesday 29th. It's a Samsung 32" LCD with the 1080p extra pixel and detail goodness. With my old telly being on the floor, I had the added incentive of needing to kick myself out of bed early in order to have a telly to watch the cricket on. I also picked up a Blu-ray disc player from Sony (going cheap at £100).

The blu-ray player is a prime example of how I sometimes lose out by not following my instincts. The little Instinct Voices were telling me on Boxing Day that I should pick one up when we were in the retail places in Lincoln. I thought I'd better leave it for when I was back down south - the result ? None left in the retail places in Bristol's Cribbs Causeway ! Cue a trip to Tesco Extra, which still had a few left. I reckon people scoured the Cribbs Mall and didn't think of checking the Tesco Extra nearer to where I live.

So I pick up two of the parts of my future Telly & Movie set up :-) The 3rd and 4th will be new speakers and amp, looks like I'll have to get those due to Trust Issues with the Blu-Ray player.

After enjoying the end of the 4th day in the cricket, it's time to test out the new stuff :-) Star Trek was the dvd chosen. It wasn't at its best at this point, as I had to wait until the next day for the better leads to arrive. Still looked pretty darn impressive though :-) The telly does a good job of filling in the gaps to turn standard definition into sharp higher definition.

Doh - there's actually far more about this on my Techie blog, so I probably shouldn't repeat it here. The first post (linked) is about the early bit of setup and introduces the PC stuff ... The second post (linked) covers what happens with better leads. It doesn't quite have the end of the story :

My MSN Messenger login uses the little status messages. I don't change this too often (inspiration failure) but the latest is "Technology 1 Sleepypete 3". Heh heh heh - the score at the moment is probably a tie ...

I have everything hooked up to the telly :-) But I'm having to use 5 leads instead of 1 for the cable TV box. Sound isn't as good as I'd like, I only get a stereo output on my current speakers. This is the Trust Issue with the Blu-Ray player, it can't get the info from my speakers that would assure it there's no copying going on so it just outputs in stereo. With my PC, stereo is an unexpected deficiency in the capability it offers. Still sounds very good and I don't currently have the room set up for surround sound anyway.

Let's say I'm not excited/disappointed about the sound enough to make me rush to Richer Sounds to get new amp & speakers :-)

I've watched one movie off Blu-Ray so far, Outlander. My good friend Cyberkitten has written a little bit about this one, spookily on the morning before I watched it again :-) Was as impressive off blu-ray at home as it was in the cinema. I'm still waiting for Watchmen, Amazon said they dispatched this at the same time as they sent Outlander but it's now 2 days later and it's not arrived yet. I've been losing faith lately with Amazon's ability to timely deliver. Ordered on Tuesday 29th with First Class postage, not seen it arrive yet. I'm possibly being a little optimistic seeing as it's holiday season but Novatech managed a next morning delivery on 2 leads also ordered on the 29th. I think I'll be checking out the competition when I next go dvd/music/blu-ray hunting.

We watched Avatar as well this week, that's a cracking movie well recommended.

Had one short session of gaming on the telly - that first link above to the Techie blog has what I needed to do to achieve this :-) Mass Effect looked spectacular on the big screen. Not sure how much I'll actually use the big screen for gaming though, as mouse & keyboard on lap on sofa doesn't strike me as a comfy gaming position !

I'm settling down in front of the cricket at the moment. England have a fight on their hands in this game, South Africa have runs on the board and the pitch has become a lot more bowler friendly ... Will be an intriguing game, looking forward to watching it over today and tomorrow :-)

Sunday, January 03, 2010


I been hacked. It's a strange feeling, kinda like being violated but it's probably worse than that because I don't know how far the hacking has gone. I know they've managed to get one username and password combination which means more have probably slipped out but I haven't seen any signs of that yet.

So what's actually happened ? Had a peek over at Evemon yesterday, it's a tool that monitors your Eve online characters while you're not actually in the game. Instead of the millions my character should have, it was reporting less than 1 million ... Question - is Evemon glitching again ? So I check it out in game, to find that my in game cash has been transferred away and a decent number of my ships have been sold.

It's not much fun playing Internet Spaceship Game if you have no ships to play with.

I've gone through the routine of scanning the machine, changing passwords, complaining to the people who run Eve. No joy yet, although I expect the Eve people are all off on weekends so I haven't expected to see much. Another wrinkle is that I've now cancelled the Eve account but because yesterday was the last day of the subscription, I can't track the progress of the complaint. Grr. Don't think I'll be back in Eve.

My other online stuff all looks to be fine but I've changed passwords to be sure. I came up with another fun one last night while trying to get to sleep. This one looks to have been a fairly well targeted attack, with only Eve being affected. My biggest suspicion is that a trojan was present on the out-of-the-box install of my new laptop, a couple of online forums concur with this.

Someone at work got an account hacked just before Xmas too (not Eve), I know she was upset about it as well. It's strange - when you realise you've been hacked you feel violated. It kicks in the paranoia because you don't know how far the attack has gone or how much information they've stolen. It's just occurring to me now that I should contact one of the credit card companies because one of my cards may have been compromised.

So there's the "how much has been compromised" paranoia, as well as "how did they get the username and password ?"

Hacking is something that is supposed to happen to other people ;-)

I hope I do see something back from the Eve people, as it'll mean they take each one of their customers seriously and value them in a way Blizzard have forgotten to. Mind you, saying that Blizzard are usually extremely good at getting hacked Warcraft characters back to how they should be. If anything, the Eve people should be very hot on it, they have far fewer people playing their game.

We shall see !

Last word on the hacking - if you have the slightest suspicion that something Nastie has gotten into your machine, try running MBAM. That stands for Malware Bytes Anti-Malware and it's one of the better tools out there for cleaning up any mess that's gotten through your security software. I'm still in a 60 day Trial period for McAfee, let's just say that when the trial expires McAfee will be removed from the machine never to return. (I'm waiting because that's when my Kaspersky licences run out and I'll update them all as a trio)

In the meantime, I'm chilling out in front of the cricket when I should have been 3.5 hours into an 8 hour roleplay game session. However, I didn't get any information on where I was supposed to go so I've not made the trip. I think the gamers tried to get me down there but attempting to pass on the information on the day is not really good enough, hence my mobile currently being OFF. We had a fiasco a couple of months ago where Plan A was to go to Place S, then we changed to go to Place P before finally heading to Place D. I've got no intention of repeating that ... especially as I think the other guys forget that I'm the only one who travels a decent distance.

So - downer post today, which is something I hate to have at the top of the blog. I'll knock it off tomorrow with something more about the technology stuff :-) But for today, I'm reflecting a crappy mood that needed an outlet. Pizza may be required tonight.