Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year, New Fortunes ?

It's almost here - the year that the doomsayers and believers in daft superstition* didn't think would come ...

That's right - 2013 is just around the corner, or ... for those of you reading where it's already gone after midnight :

Happy New Year !

*(not all superstition is daft, I have lots of them for cricket. Oh wait, those superstitions are daft too)

I'm hoping that next year is going to be better :

Dryer - we lost a huge amount of cricket this year
Less leaky - I think there's been progress this week with that darn skin condition
Less alone - goes without saying ;-)
Freer - that skin condition again putting limits on what I do
Musical - I still have lots of music to listen to, hopefully I'll keep finding new stuff
New - I get bored very quickly when I fall into routine

The skin thing does seem to be improving, now that I'm back in my own conditions. They're not perfect. On the upside, the skin seems to be improving. On the downside, I get watery eyes. Perhaps I should be using that vacuum cleaner some more ;-). What is happening is that while I'm focusing just on me, I'm avoiding spending the cash. I have a few techie targets, all of which either need me to be in or need me to go fetch them :

Switching to an iPhone - I'm after a 64GB iPhone but don't want to pay £269 plus contract for the privilege of having an iPhone 5. 3-Mobile have 64GB iPhone 4s's on their website but they're "out of stock". I suspect they shouldn't be listed.

Steering Wheel - looks like this will need to be a mail order thing as the local shops (including Novatech) don't want to sell me one. Which needs me being in to accept delivery. There is an option near Coventry (for a pickup on the way past as I go to the parents place) but they're asking for more money to pick up in store than it would be to deliver, which is f**k*ng crazy.

(I don't swear much on here cos I keep it in reserve for when it's really meant - so many people swear as a matter of course, where do they go when they need to emphasize ?)

Powerline networking - I was hoping these would come on sale so I can network my AV kit. To be honest, I've not looked. Perhaps a sale run on Wednesday on my last day of leave before heading back to work. Also, one of the drivers was the interruptions I was getting to my audio streaming. That's not happened since I stealthed the wifi.

However, when you look at it how many of the above are truly essential ? To be honest, none. Although my Android phone is becoming an embarassment.

Any New Year's Resolutions ?

One but it refers to gaming ... I have a huge collection of games now. It's grown over this last few months due to sales. The resolution will be to look again at those games and try to finish a few of them. Because I play the games to relax, I go back to the same ones over and over again. That means I don't have to think to work out how to beat the new game. But that does mean I don't get the value out of all the sales and all the impulse buys.

What games though ?

Currently it's XCom Enemy Unknown - the new one. It's not perfect, it has a bunch of bugs in it. But it definitely has potential as a game, even if it's not finished yet. That's a bit sad, because I'd be more curious about getting the downloadable content if the bugs were fixed. I've not seen many serious ones to be honest. I'm on the last mission now of a play through on "Normal" difficulty after "Classic" difficulty kicked my butt. I've reloaded a couple of times but that's it.

All of the XCom games (including the old ones) are games that run for a long time. That means if a soldier is injured in a battle, they may not be around for the next. If they die, you lose them forever. What happened in the Classic game is that I kept losing my best people, which makes the next missions harder and harder.

Next on the list is Fallout New Vegas, which SteamGirl got me for Xmas (in return for me getting her Mass Effect 2). I also have Borderlands 2, F1 2012, all the D&D games off GoG, Dungeons of Dredmor, Far Cry 3 and a few that I've had for longer (Rage, Torchlight & Torchlight 2, Machinarium and more). Oh and Alpha Centauri and HoMM3 are likely to get bought on GoG very soon ...

Must finish some of those games off :-)

I kinda miss the multiplayer ones. The interaction mainly if not the gameplay. WoW's gameplay was ok, what made me stick around in that one was the people. For so long it was the Mercs, until that guild collapsed in on itself (games can do strange things to people). And then it was Violence Reborn, although a lot of the originals stopped playing. (including the legendary Sandra!)

Wonder if Alex and DT still sing on Mumble ...

Talking of singing - I'm listening to Coexist, the latest album by The XX. There's no real standout tracks on there but it's a great chilled out listen. Definitely enjoying it.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Back again

Hobbit tomorrow.

It's been a bit different this christmas ... Been off to the parents place for a few days so I've been a bit quiet. We don't do the presents thing any more for a few reasons :

It can be quite stressful finding That Right Present and ...
... We've usually bought what we wanted anyway.

(Unless it's me waiting for the right sale to come along).

It's been a bit weird too. We've all got health problems and those are all different. I'll only talk here about mine though. Some things stay on the other side of that privacy wall. Personally, I think I've learned another allergy but it could well be coincidence. I'm still not free of the need to gunk up yet. It seems like the damage repairs to like 90% healthy and then worsens again. I'll see what it's like over the next week with me back in my own patterns of treatment, eating and living.

What else ?

It has been really good to see the people again, although my temperament has been suffering from constant itchiness and the need to leave the itchiness alone lest I develop into Bad Stuff. Part of that temperament issue is needing to find someone I can trust to talk about the health problems mentioned above.

iPhone will be on the way soon :-) I've got sick of my Android phone being unreliable and Apple are apparently selling the iPhone 4s in 64GB again. My music library is now too big for a 32GB ... I'd like an iPhone 5 but the entry fee for one of those is £200 more. It's just a phone ...

How come that library has got so big ?

Lots of soundtracks ... Been collecting those lately. One thing about Good Old Games is that they throw in all sorts of stuff with the games they sell. Things like pdf's of the manuals, artwork and the soundtracks. Yep, these games are from the time when proper paper books came in the boxes. Yesterday saw a massive D&D game sale, which I just had to go for :

Baldur's Gate 1 + 2 - enjoyed but never finished
Icewind Dale 1 + 2 - never tried
Neverwinter Nights - played to death
Planescape Torment - never tried, has massive reputation
And a couple more fillers

All of the above have massive soundtracks for download. Now I just need to time to a) listen to the soundtracks and b) play through the games.

Steam's sale is going on still too - with a bit of gift giving happening there too. Steamgirl has helped keep me sane over the past year or so by making me laugh at stuff, she's a Mass Effect fan but didn't have the second game on PC, so a copy went her way for Xmas. In return, I'll be playing through Fallout New Vegas at some point :-).

Driving conditions have actually been ok, although Christmas Eve got a bit hairy at times with rain not clearing from the roads sufficiently.

Quite tired now though, so I'll leave it there.

Hope you had good Christmasses and I'll wish you a Happy New Year :-) May 2013 be better than 2012 ...

Friday, December 21, 2012

End of ... wait ... still here !

Today's been hugely hyped ...

Yes !

It's finally here !

Steam Winter Sale !

Wait - you were expecting something different weren't you ? Muahahaha. I think my wallet may have been safer if the end of the world had happened today.

That said though, there's huge numbers of weather warnings out for the UK for tomorrow. Good job I'm not travelling until Sunday then isn't it ? The weather warnings are for heaps of rain, which causes its own problems (there's a few potential flood zones to go through) but not nearly as many as snow does.

The whole country would literally ground to a halt if the snow came. It's not looking likely, temperatures are in that zone :
Cold enough to want to wear a jumper
Warm enough to make you warm in the jumper

I'm happily in a jumper at the moment, although I am having to watch out so I don't damage myself more. The skin thing is definitely improving ... but it's so incredibly easy to set back the healing and do more damage. But enough of that ...

Been chilling out this week. Been catching up on some of the recorded telly, although there's still enough recorded that I need to watch a little more to make room for Xmas telly. I'm surprised actually, all I'm recording over Xmas Day and Boxing Day is Strictly Come Dancing, Doctor Who and Full Metal Jousting repeats.

Still lots of music listening to do. I have the Puss In Boots soundtrack on at the moment and the album after that will be the excellently atmospheric soundtrack to Deus Ex Human Revolution. (Not forgetting Paramore's Brand New Eyes).

I've been watching a fair few of the Yogscast livestreams too. They've been raising money to send charity bees over to Africa. They're mixed, they can be hilarious but some of them are not worth watching at all. It's about playing games with commentary that amuses the audience, some of them just happen to be saying stuff as they bury themselves in the game. I can recognise that as I do it myself, when I'm tunnelled into WoW raiding (and this is one of the reasons I stopped) I'll tighten my focus such that everything outside of the raiding is tuned out.

Mall today - I'm not getting or giving that much in the way of presents these days (boo hiss) but I do still get the cards. So today was a quick trip to the Mall to get cards, have a bacon sarnie (and coffee!) and get stuck in the traffic.

Almost saw Hobbit - but that'll keep. It's going to be in the cinema for a little while and I'd much rather see it with friends than go on my own.

Not been playing that many games to be honest. Because my brain's been a bit fried, I've fallen back to the games I find more relaxing. I've worked out Moo2 and Settlers IV, I could play them in my sleep. I don't win all the time but that's partly due to randomness (Moo2) and the pooter messing up my plans (Settlers IV has many bugs). I still find them relaxing to play though.

However ... I still have a playthrough of the Mass Effect trilogy in the early stages plus a Deus Ex Human Revolution run going. But there's many more in the collection that I'd like to put a bit of time into : Far Cry 3, F1 2012, Torchlight & Torchlight II and a couple more ...

Trouble with the Steam sales is that they look incredibly tempting with their 75% off things ... But then after I get them, it'll get maybe 1 hour or 2 and that might be it. There is one common factor though - value.

I'm always very keenly aware of Value For Money. It's why I avoid the first person shooter online games, it's why I'm avoiding getting the latest WoW expansion. I'd love to get the game Spore ... but it's several years old and only has 50% off it's original price of £30. That's shockingly bad value for money. I'm tempted by Borderlands 2 but they've been pouring out downloadable content for that which I don't consider good value. To get the full game, you'd need to spend £50 (down to £35 with discount) with DLC.

That's very meh.

But - I will spend some cash in this Steam Sale period. I've already picked up Dungeons of Dredmor, which at under £2 is a fairly amusing little dungeon crawler. If you like the Munchkin card game, you'll like this one. I have Torchlight 2 in the cart ... and I'm hoping the older D&D games appear for cheaper than just 50% off in the GOG sale.

We shall see.

Just cos I'm not getting or receiving pressies doesn't mean I can't get myself some ?


PS Tonight's Yogscast livestream isn't being particularly good. I see more Dungeons of Dredmor in the very near future ...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Squirrel !

Come to think of it, can't remember when I last had anything nutty ...

Monday, December 17, 2012

And relax ...

Started my winter break :-)

Really needed it. I could feel the energy reserves being at absolute minimum. Kinda like running past where the fumes ran out. That's the point where I have to watch what I'm doing quite carefully, or absent minded gaps and errors start appearing in what I do.

(if I miss ay n's out, it's cos this keyboard needs some attention!)

I've needed it for other reasons too. Like hopefully more progress with the skin thing.

It's getting better - honest :-) I'm closer and closer to getting back to that healthy pasty white shade of geek. I have to maintain the discipline though because interfering with the bad patches puts the healing back. The bad patches are steadily subsiding but I'm not completely free of the need to use the gunk yet. Not needing to get ready to go to work where I'm spending far too many hour sat in a chair is helping. And not because it means I can use that gunk when things get a little leaky.

Actually, gaming here is not exactly ideal. The sit&game posture puts the wrong kind of pressure on my bum, which is one of those bad patches. But - it is improving to the point where I'm actively thinking about preparations for next year's cricket. I'll need a couple of things ticked off there - can't wear a helmet right now because of my ears and I'll be looking to pick up something to protect my skin for when I'm diving around (which is likely to be a bad idea cos I'll probably cook with it on !)

I'm not going to be lounging around the house all day though. Will be raiding Tescos for shopping later. I'm down to just one apple, so I'm needing supplies. I suspect the Crazies will be heading off to see The Hobbit at some point this week too (cabin fever may see me heading off to the Mall for it myself!).

What have been up to so far ?

Lots of cricket watching. At least, that was the plan ... It's actually ended up in me fast forwarding through most of the play between India and England. One reason I like cricket is because it's a game where at any point, anything can happen. Batsmen will score, chances will happen, wickets will be taken. In a one-day game, even a ball with no score is an event. Game changing things will happen all the time.

At least, that's the plan. This latest game has been one of the worst games I can remember, nothing has been happening in this game of much consequence. This India vs England series will be remembered as 3 good games followed by one mindnumbingly tedious game. The kindest description would be "tortuous" and that's coming from a cricket nut.

There's also been :

Strictly Come Dancing semifinal. Been really enjoying it this year, it's the first year I've watched it all the way through instead of catching it when at my parents' place for the weekend. It's down to just 4 now, with Lisa Reilly being voted out over the weekend. She's an example for everyone to look up to, she's a big girl but oh so nimble. The show's been blessed this year with a lot of genuinely good dancers and Lisa's been no exception there.

Looking forward to the final :-) I'd like little Dani to win but I think it'll be Kimberley. Any of them really could win it.

Sports Personality. I occasionally watch this yearly event. Bradley Wiggins won it this year, which I'm ok with. He has a personality, whereas the previous winner Mark Cavendish ... doesn't.

Gaming :-) Yeah, it's a little unhealthy right now but there's a few different aspects of "Health" that need to be looked after. So while it's bad for my skin, going back to those familiar classic games gives my mind the relaxation it's needing right now. Over the weekend, it was Master of Orion 2 (Endless Space = bit naff) and last night I started off yet another run in Deus Ex Human Revolution. I'll have to try and resist the urge to do a Perfection run through DXHR, as that can take lots of time ...

I picked up Far Cry 3 as well and am very curious as to what will be in the Good Old Games and Steam Sales. The Steam sale hasn't started yet and I haven't seen anything I really want yet in the GOG sale. That may change if the D&D games appear for cheaper. That steering wheel has stayed unordered too, although if Xmas travel plans work out, there's a store near Coventry that's on my route ...

Music. It wouldn't be the same without me listening to a tonne of music. I still have over 400 tracks in the library (mostly soundtracks) that I haven't listened to yet. Next album up is from David Bowie with the one after that being the Red Sonja (classic film) soundtrack.

And I see that scroll bar getting to the point where it tells me I'm Wall Of Texting !

Time for a little bit more Deus Ex, followed by a run to Tescos. It should spookily be around the time for dinner and they've had a Dominos replace the Shiny Chippie that was there before. I won't be going to Tescos just yet - it's chucking it down out there ...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Not a Christmas music post

Ok, by now you'll all be throwing things when you hear the jingling bells of Christmas music ?

I don't blame you. A lot of Xmas music starts well but gets corrupted by the latest person to try making a fast buck out of old classics.

However ... I do have some Xmas music in the library ... And those albums are awesome in their own ways. Hmm. This wasn't supposed to be an Xmas music post but I can't resist doing the old Youtube linky thing to :

Hey Santa ! By Hannah Peel. Sadly Youtube don't seem to have this one but it's on and Spotify.

Abba's Happy New Year. I heard someone in HMV tonight trying to sing along to this one. Hopefully I'm doing a better job at the moment ;-)

Think I've run out of the choice Xmas music there though. I have Xmas albums from Joan Baez and Elaine Paige which are both excellent to listen to. The Joan Baez album is very pure choral style, the Elaine Paige is more show style.

What else have I been listening to lately that has stuck in my head all day ?

Well - today it was the turn of Tracy Chapman's Material World. She's a great singer in her own way. She's different from the crowd, so she's not really mainstream like all the female singers who clone others. But - different is good. I only have her first album and Crossroads ... may have to pick up some more. Great voice, used very well.

At the moment, it's the Songs For Polarbears album by Snow Patrol. It's from their earlier days when they were still Indie/Alternative with interesting rough edges in their music. They've gone a mainstream (and boring) now though. My pick of this album is Fifteen Minutes Old. Not their best album, bit of quantity over quality.

Next album up (after a bunch of semi-random tracks) is the soundtrack to Indie Game The Movie. I've been picking up a lot of soundtracks lately. Some of them, like the FTL soundtrack, work really well as music to listen to. Others, like the Retro City Rampage soundtrack, are good as individual tracks but have you reaching for the Skip Track button when you have them coming through as an album. Hopefully Indie Game the Movie will work well as a soundtrack.

I listen to a bit of classical music too, last album/collection to go through was the Planets Suite by Holst. This one has been borrowed from hugely to donate music to pieces like the Rugby World Cup (World In Union is Jupiter with words I believe). There's also the unmistakeable Mars. Curious how the dead planet Mars got tagged as War, whereas the absolute hell which is Venus got tagged as Peace.

Talking of classical - what makes Christmas if not the annual Star Wars movie ? The soundtrack to Return of the Jedi got listened to earlier this week. Classic tunes.

But it tends to stay in the background. Unlike the enchanting Norah Jones, who's Feels Like Home got listened to at the weekend. Here's In The Morning, it's a track where I'm not sure I want to sing along to or if I should just listen to that voice. She's one of very few artists who I'll pay full price for getting albums more quickly (still not got the latest Garbage)

And there's more too. I loved River City People when I was at school but something turned me away from Texas (perhaps I thought that voice was being enhanced ...). Which is a shame, as I found out when I picked up their greatest hits album. I'm hoping for snow but I've been so cold lately that I'd welcome a bit of Summer Sun.

I think it's time to close up now. And after hearing Rythian and Zoey do a rendition of Baby It's Cold Outside, I feel the need to listen to the Tom Jones & Cerys Matthews version to banish it from memory ...

I hope you don't get inflicted with too much horrific music over the next month !

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It's beginning to feel a lot like ...

It's effectively just 2 more working days until I start a fairly lengthy Xmas break :-)

Gosh - I need it. I've been hanging lately. It's been a rough year this year :

Lots of emotional turmoil (I pick up on what other people are feeling)
Stress upon stress at work (the prime reason for which is gone now)
This damn infection (so many "it's gone !!!" "and it's back")
A change of diet which went critically wrong
And lots more (getting older)

It's the infection that's really hit hard this year. While it subsided enough for it to be a bad idea for me to play cricket this summer (which I did anyway), it never really went away. Instead, it came back and very quickly became much worse than just dodgy skin on my legs. Couple that with confidence at an (almost!) all time low and you've got rough times.

I am a hell of a lot better than I was just a couple of months ago but ... it's draining. And it's having other effects associated with that Getting Older thing.

At this point, I should say - this has been a fairly (I've done longer) long day - up at 6.30am, driving 250 miles in the day in testing (ice and fog) conditions. Yes, I've done longer days and longer drives (Scotland trips started earlier and finished later) but - there's that Getting Older thing again.

Things have been improving :

Emotional turmoil - I've made my peace with this. And the reasons for it are not going to appear here ;-)
Stress at work - the main reason's gone :-) Still lots to do though and more responsibility over the next few months. Gonna be crazy when we come back in the New Year.
Infection - I think the infection has gone but it's taking a while to fix the damage
Diet - since I dropped the orange juice, I've noticed a bunch of symptoms go away. I need to kick the biscuit habit though or I'll not have my speed available come summer.
Getting older - my legs hate me. Cramps, twinges, bits that don't want to stay where they should be
(stop sniggering! - lol)

Instead of being over a fairly significant portion of me, the infection seems to be gone and the leftover damage is limited to only a few patches now. And those are getting smaller. I just need to keep up the discipline of not tearing at stuff that's itchy. Leaving it alone = healing. Tearing at it = sets the healing back.

No need to go back to the doctor's place right now, at least for the infection thing. Shoulder and hip might need attention though. One problem at a time. Hopefully over the Xmas break, the chilling out at home and other places will see some more of those leftover patches disappear.

Yeah - really looking forward to a few weeks of chilling out, punctuated by a few Xmas visits to family and friends that are now just like family.

2 more working days to go though. Tomorrow is half a day cos of work Xmas party (I don't think I'll blog that though) in the afternoon. Thursday will be a full day. Friday will be me escaping whenever I've cleared away all that needs to be done before I disappear.

However ! Today had definite compensations and boosts.

There's a stunningly beautiful woman who works at one of our other offices. Intelligent too. To have someone that beautiful favour you with a winning smile as soon as she spots you ? Makes me grin :-) Definitely. She's disappearing off to the USA for 3 years though to become a housewife (hubby gets a job but it's a waste of the brain she has)

Anyway - she let me know today :
a) surprise at hearing that I'd not been well this past year. I've been hiding the symptoms under sleeves and nervous hyperactivity while on duty visits. And the "Pete's the herald of the Zombie Apocalypse" thing erupted very quickly and the signs of it on my face disappeared fairly quickly too.
b) that I knew my stuff. That pulled out a "wow" from me, cos since jumping across into the new project I've been trying to keep up with all the stuff that's going on. It's quite a complicated project. It's not just "Deliver Something Big in a few years", it's "Deliver lots of stuff over X years". It's quite a long running project.

Always good when people who you barely know express confidence in your abilities. Funny - I think I have a better reputation with those who don't know me much than those who come into contact with me more.

Perhaps some of that propaganda I put out about myself is getting believed ... Most of the time when I give the impression of being Typical Geek-Around-House, I'm kidding to get chuckles. Or people are believing in a false impressions caused by when I'm kidding about stuff or it's junk being spread by other people.

It was pretty awesome though to have that confidence shown earlier. Gives me a big lift. Lots of people seem to think I do Stuff the Right Way. And that's very important to me.

It's been a rough year. But it's almost behind me now. 2013 will be a better one :-)

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Nutter on the Bus

I've been noticing something very alarming over the past couple of weeks.

To start with - have a peek at this bit of comedy gold from the one and only Jasper Carrott.

I've been getting that too. Although with me, it's when the bus is at that half full stage where all the rows of seats have 1 person in them. Nobody sits next to strangers on the bus if they can help it - all those elbows and things. What seems to be happening is that when there's no more empty rows, when the next young(ish) lady gets on the bus and looks for a seat she'll see the empty one next to me and make a beeline for it.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining !

I'm just not used to it. Most of the women who know me seem to start running as soon as they see me nowadays. In the opposite direction. /sob. (lol)

I think they're seeing me as some kind of Anti Nutter. Like the logic is "let's sit by the smart looking guy in the suit instead of the hobo with the music blasting out of his ears".

Thankfully I get on the bus reasonably early so I can usually get a seat to my own, avoiding the nutters that we do get. There doesn't seem to be many of those, although there was Noisy Kiddie yesterday and Bad Taste Girls the day before.

I kinda like being the Anti Nutter, it's another sign that I'm looking better than just over a month ago when people would have pointed and shouted : "ZOMBIE". (Still not healed yet, still needing a bit of help from the gunk)

Here's more Carrott.

What am I up to at the moment ? Currently waiting for the Yogscast charity stream to start up again. The Yogscast are a group now (they've grown) of gamers who put out well made and quite entertaining content on Youtube. It's mostly Minecraft but they put in other games too. My favourite is Hannah aka Yogscast2 who was doing the stream last night.

What can I say ? At the moment I'm enjoying watching a slightly nutty but rather amusing bunch of people playing games more than I'm enjoying playing the games myself.

Oh and it's also a good excuse to keep trying to reduce the amount of unlistened to music I have in the library by errrrr .... listening to lots of music. Down to 489 tracks now (been adding a lot lately). Currently playing : soundtrack to the latest XCom game. Must play that one more ...

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

In training .... kinda

I caught myself today actively thinking of playing cricket again.

Now then. That's a sign of a step forward ...

Yes, I am getting to that age when "I'm getting too old for this" is definitely in mind when it comes to running around like a mad thing but - I like running round like a mad thing !

True - I'm not fixed yet but it definitely feels like it's getting closer. I'll be shivering away doing the full treatment thing tomorrow night but I've gotten away with only limited gunkings. I'm not quite there yet but my body seems to be closing in on being able to do its own healing now.

That tells me a few things :

The infection must be gone and it's down to repairs now
Discipline is good - half the reason it's taking so long to heal is that self inflicted wounds thing
Healthy eating is bad - or at least drinking healthy with the orange juice
You sleep heavier when you don't have to think of posture while asleep

Yep. Not fixed yet but instead of, to borrow a science fiction term, being at say 70% hull integrity I'm now up to 95% or better. Not 100% yet but the healed parts of my skin feel very smooth and it's been at least a month since I've felt that sandpaper texture on my hands at work.

At the moment, cricket is out of the question. Any little damage that happens isn't repairing too quick, although in general I'm heading back to that pasty white geek normal texture. With the commitment (translation - all enthusiasm, little skill) I put in on the cricket field, I wouldn't repair the damage I'd do to myself and would put the healing backwards.

But by the time summer comes along ? Hopefully I'll be back to full health by then with no more setbacks.

What will help me out considerably with the fitness is this car parking fiasco thing ...

Not taking the car in to work is irritating, sure. It means a lack of flexibility. Shopping is either heavily rationed (to fit in my bag) at the start of the week or it waits until Thursday when I have the boot of the car. It'll be Thursday this week, there's enough apples to last until then. That's weird innit ? Me having "No Apples Left = Shopping is Urgent" as a flag.

However. Taking the bus gets me using my legs a lot more. On the cricket field, my legs are my biggest asset (and possibly worst enemy too!). If I get my weight down again (it's gone up half a stone, which is still a stone less than when I started the diet) then those legs give me huge amounts of power and speed. I got used to being the quickest person on the team, which is why losing that speed due to being overweight got to me.

Where all the walking does me good is conditioning. Muscles like to do work. They get used to repetitions. More reps lead to being able to do even more reps. It makes for sturdiness and resistance to injury. One way my legs work against me is that small damage like a minicramp will hamper the whole leg. Conditioning is aimed at increasing the resistance to that damage.

The way I got the leg power I have was by doing a paper round. It was a free paper going to every house, so taking a bike would have been silly. I carried a big bag of newspapers around and walked as fast as possible. And I can walk darn quick. Those legs used to let me push start a car on my own (with someone in the driver's seat to do the necessary)

Hopefully the walks to the bus will get those legs back in shape. And maybe ... After a few weeks perhaps I should up the ante by putting weights into that bag ?

Picture Luke Skywalker with Yoda on his back.

Hey ! A mentor or someone to make getting into better shape worth it would be awesome too. Although they'll hopefully not be wrinkled, green or on a planet devoid of technology.

Cos I like my toys.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Endless ... Beyond

What do those have in common ? Space !

I've always dreamed of being an astronaut. I've probably been born maybe 20-30 years too early, although we should really have been having colonies on the Moon or even Mars by now if we'd followed the essential dream instead of being held back by election chasing politicians.

Why do I say "essential" dream ?

We have an awesome planet to live on. But we have to recognise that it's limited. Sooner or later, the resources will run out. One of those idiot politicians will press the wrong button and unleash something. An asteroid could come our way. All doom & gloom stuff like that.

The answer to the first point is - there's huge amounts of resources out in space. We just have to go out and get them. A single asteroid can have more minerals than the average continent plus it's easier to extract them. And colonies out there remove the "All Our Eggs In One Basket" factor where we could survive as a species even if that global killer asteroid came along.

But it's not just that which fed my astronaut dream. It was the potential to get out there and do something new. Go places no one else had been. Be part of something bigger. Escape the surly existence on Earth.

So I've always been interested in space and everything associated with it.

I've indulged that twice over the last couple of days. Firstly by checking out a game called Endless Space. I was addicted to the space strategy game Master Of Orion 2 (Moo2) for years (still am) but it's very dated now.

I've been hoping for a modern equivalent for donkeys years now and being consistently frustrated by what comes out on sale. They're either too fixed in scope (Imperium Galactica 1 and 2), too rigid in what they offer or just plain broken (Moo3). The latest off the line is called Endless Space, which has a lot going for it. There seems to be some decent mechanics in there. It's got decent depth. I get the feeling it's a game I could get very interested in. However ...

The documentation is appalling. There are game concepts which are barely touched on in the tutorials and the appalling excuse for a manual. With Moo2, there was a full description of the technology tree in the manual and in game. You find out how to exploit game concepts purely by accident here.
Combat happens too quickly and there's that finding things out by accident factor again. In the early days, you need time to evaluate your options, even just to figure out what they are. Endless Space doesn't allow that, which is a sin compounded by that awful documentation.

Combat doesn't need to be on an insanely fast timer, especially when the rest of the game is at chilled out "wait til I'm done" turn based.

There's lack of variation here. I was bored after just a few hours of essentially watching the game play itself.

Yeah. I guess I'm still looking for that Moo2 replacement. Pax Imperia got close but that game was an incredible grind ...

What was tonight's entertainment ? One of those series that was way too shortlived for what it deserved was a bit of magic called Space Above And Beyond.

This was space scifi set in a near future Earth where we'd just started going out to the stars to colonise the planets. Just as a powerful and very hostile alien race figured out we were there ... The series is centred around the US Marine Corps 58th squadron aka the Wild Cards and the pilots which make up that squadron. The series was blessed with characters that worked very well with each other. The characters made it interesting.

The effects were pretty decent too. It was made in the era of models and cheap effects but it looked great. It easily beat the expensive effects on show in Star Trek Next Generation and didn't have the canned repetition of the original Battlestar Galactica. I think the space sequences were probably better than the CGI effects in the newest Battlestar series. I'll get back to you on that one.

I watched the pilot again tonight (after waiting a decade for a Region 2 dvd release) and it instantly reminded me of why I'd been eagerly waiting to watch this one again. It was originally shown late on a Friday night on BBC2 and I can remember trying to get home from uni or whichever work placement I was on to watch it. It definitely had me caught and this was when sci fi was in its telly Golden Age where it was up against shows like the Star Treks, Babylon 5, Farscape with Stargate coming too.

One funny thing though. I thought the battle at the end of the pilot was much longer ...

Must be some weird time dilation thing.

Anyway - Endless Space = bit pants. Space Above And Beyond = timeless classic (although it suffered from bad scripts).

Friday, November 30, 2012

Movie watch : Puss In Boots

Just finished watching one of the more characterful and charming movies of last year :

I reckon this was one of the more underrated movies of last year. It was a bit lacking in plot and you could see the twist coming from a mile off but ...

It never forgot something that's absolutely critical :

It entertained. Oh yes. It definitely entertained.

It didn't have that much but it definitely had fun coming out of every second of its set piece sequences, led by the main two characters :
Soundtrack's good too. It's mainly by Graham Hancock but there's a couple of tracks in there by Rodrigo y Gabriela which have caught my attention. Here's a link to one of those called Hanuman. Think I might be going collecting ...

Oh, here's a memory coming back - I think my toes were tapping all the way through this one when the Crazies saw it in the cinema.

If you haven't seen it yet, buy it !!!!! And then save it for when you're feeling low, it's guaranteed to cheer you up.

And ... how could I go without :
ooooooooOOOOOOO ??


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Old game, new game

I've had my attention well and truly caught by something on Kickstarter. But a little history first.

When I was little, there was one game that I played above all others. It was called Elite and was a truly groundbreaking achievement. Here's a wiki link to more about it but the short summary is :

Free roaming space combat game
A game engine which was a thing of beauty
Not just 1 big galaxy to play in but 8
Unparalleled depth (for the time)
And a far off goal to head for - be one of the Elite

I have to admit, I wasn't so addicted that I got a pilot to Elite status which shows how much grinding you would need to do to get that. Elite status was determined by a hidden kill count score, which went from Harmless and Mostly Harmless all the way up to the final 3 ratings : Dangerous, Deadly and Elite. I gave up the grind typically at Deadly. To get Elite, you'd need to get 25 x 256 combat kills. (Lots!) A certain other game called Revs was getting my attention instead.

For the time, it was a truly awesome game that's never really been matched to this day. There's been efforts but nothing as engaging as that early stellar achievement.

From the same stable came the two Frontier games. This translated the original game into our known galaxy. We could take off from London and fly to the base on the Moon or Mars. It had a wholly Newtonian physics engine - This Is Not A Good Thing. The best thing about the original was the combat, the worst thing about the sequels is that the combat was either jousting at silly speeds or restricted to space around starbases.

The sequels were also infested by bugs. Many bugs. To be honest, they were unplayable garbage. But they did have lots of potential and when they worked, they were gorgeous (for the time!).

We've also seen the Freelancer game come to PC. This was a game I played through a few times. It's another fairly open world space combat game and had a pretty decent storyline backing it up. But - it wasn't a truly open world game, due to the hefty Plot Hammers that chased you around the systems it was set in.

The one hope for space combat games lately has been the X Beyond The Frontier series.

These did pretty well but ... they seemed to be missing something. I could recognise how good the game was but I knew that to progress in it, I'd need to become industrialist as well as space cowboy. I'd need to set up and babysit a network of space stations to build what I needed to beat the games.

I didn't want to be space industrialist. I wanted to be space captain, cowboy, pirate.

What's next ?

Well - the thing that caught my eye the other night was something called Elite : Dangerous on Kickstarter. It's by the same fella responsible for the first Elite games and it seems quite promising in contrast to my impression of Star Citizen, also on Kickstarter. I don't know why but the hype alarm dinged for Star Citizen, possibly due to the Freelancer "open world promised, didn't happen" effect.

If you have a look at that Kickstarter link, you'll see tiers of rewards for pledges made. I'm looking at the £45 tier which would give me :
£5 - get a decal : meh.
£10 - get newsletter and updates : meh
£15 - reserve your commander name : meh
£20 - get a digital copy in March 2014 (ish) : yey ! finally something of value
£30 - get digital copy : oops, one for when the early pledger £20 tier runs out
£35 - get digital copy of the sequel to the Dark Wheel novella : interesting ...
£40 - have your name included in the NPC random name database
£45 - get the digital soundtrack

The really interesting stuff starts at £40. I'd put my actual surname in there for that in expectation of seeing a Non Player Character agent with my surname. That's like Bounty Agent Pete Sleepy (sub actual name) wants you to do stuff. How cool is that ? And my surname is unusual enough to enhance that coolness factor.

And I like having soundtracks which would make me put in that extra £5. Tempted by another £5 for beta access but I've always found beta access underwhelming and spoiling for the release game.

Any higher than that is where it starts getting silly.

Yeah - very curious about this particular kickstarter campaign. I'm not going to sink cash into it tonight but I'll keep an eye on it. It's currently at almost £600k pledged out of a target of £1.25m with 38 days to go.

Monday, November 26, 2012

On the buses

I wrote something yesterday about being forced out of the car and on to the buses ...

To be honest, I didn't like yesterday's post. Too much whinging.

And to be honest again, this isn't the first time I've been forced out of the car for an extended period. There was a period a couple of years ago where broken bits on my last car led to 3 weeks on the bus. Oh - if you're in the market for another car, don't go to Carcraft. As well as insanely high interest rates, I got suckered into buying one of those warranties that doesn't actually cover anything. That 3 weeks was due to Carcraft incompetence at fixing the poorly car.

So - bus this morning saw me getting out of the house a little earlier (10 minutes or so) than usual, although I'd like to be a little earlier than that still. After a little wait for the bus, I was in work at about usual time (my pattern is 9 to 5, although I can vary that as need be). So I didn't actually lose much time.

I object to the cost though, £4 for an all day ticket, which works out to just over 50p a mile (3.6miles door to office by the bus route). That's only slightly less than my current car costs to run all in and that car is almost new. It's a ridiculous amount of money and that's before you think of the lack of freedom and convenience that comes with being tied to the bus.

The affordability question goes further with public transport in general. Not only does that bus trip cost 4x per mile than my (admittedly economical) car does on petrol alone, other public transport is also excessive on cost. The last time I took the train for a London work trip, it cost the organisation £200. We have to get clearance from team leaders for that level of travel expense. In my car, it costs the organisation £60 on 25p a mile. Incidentally, we've been on 25p a mile for the past 15 years with no consideration for exponentially rising petrol/diesel cost but that's another point entirely.

So yeah - my main objection to public transport is the excessive cost.

The convenience for me isn't too bad. I live very close to one of the bus routes which has 3 buses I can use. And they come reasonably often.

I thought on the way back that a Kindle or similar device could be handy, although the trip isn't actually that long. That thought came from seeing someone else use a Kindle for the entire 5 minutes he was on the bus. (There was worse, another couple were on the bus for precisely 2 stops - why not walk ?)

Home time trip was good - After clocking out from work at just about 5.05, I was home just before 6pm. And that's with a Sainsburys and chippie run on the way back.

Just in time to have the "will I, won't I ?" temptation again for the Total War games !

Steam Sale at the moment. Which means lots of games with lots of insane discounts.

I've been reasonably reserved so far. I've not bought as many games as I could have done. The latest games are :

Endless Space - space grand strategy. Early look = promising but big learning curve
Star Wars KOTOR 2 - loved KOTOR 1, avoided KOTOR 2 due to bugs. But those have been sorted out by fans.
Transformers War For Cybertron - curious about this one, courtesy of Totalbiscuit videos. I was also a Transformers nut before the Michael Bay abominations came out.
Trine - which I'm a little annoyed about because it advertised a soundtrack with it. It does have the soundtrack ... but it's awkward to get to.
F1 2012 arrived before the sale. I had a look last night and ... my joystick isn't really suited to it. The stiffness around the centre point is a bit too high and the flightstick configuration doesn't have the precision of a wheel.

I have been fairly restrained :-) Other games on the list were : Borderlands 2, Total War series (I'm wary due to the developer not really finishing any of their games), Torchlight 2 and a couple of others.

But - I'm not playing games nearly as much as I used to, so getting them on speculation or because they have a reputation for being an awesome game is a bit of a waste.

Closing time ! Spotted this story on BBC : "Seeing someone scratch an itch makes you itchy too". That puts me in trouble if I see anyone scratching !

PS The bus will have hidden benefits. I benefit from natural fitness which sees me get away with not much preparation for cricket. But the walking to and from the bus will have great benefit in getting my legs conditioned again.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Moody Movember

Been quiet again lately.

My brain has been doing its usual thing of thinking about all sorts of things, usually at random but when it comes to seeing and clicking that "new post" button, it hasn't quite happened.

I think I'm still in a hide mode, where I'm thinking more of recovering than anything else. But it's not just that. I possibly suffer a little from Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is one where the turn of the season switches something in your mind towards "It's dark out there, you should be sleeping." There's a bit more to SAD than that but that's the basic premise of it. I'm quite tired right now and in need of a break :

Been fighting this skin thing for a while and it grinds you down
Breaks from work not giving me much benefit
Treatment sometimes being worse than illness
And that tendency to SAD

Does that read a bit like "Sleepypete needs a hug" ? Per'aps.

I do feel very much worn down but that's mostly from not recovering from what ended up being a nasty situation at work. You expect your bosses to take an interest in what you're doing and to steer you in the direction they think you should go in. But when that steering becomes outright interference and later direct sabotage of what your stated objectives are, that's when the stress level starts to ramp up.

What I do depends on a steady flow of information. And what this particular individual was doing was to systematically remove me from the meetings where I could get that information. His last act of doing that came directly after hearing one of the other people at his level pass on a "Pete really helped me out in that meeting" with me then being immediately removed from attending the next review. I saw my role in that particular review as support, feeding information to the people who needed it, while drawing in information to discuss with others who were not a part of that review. I'd not be totally quiet though, I'd be reporting on a few of the defects that were our organisation's responsibility.

And sabotage like that had been steadily increasing over his period in post (note I do not say "in control" there).

There's a lot of distinct styles associated with meetings. There's the type that have to be constantly saying things. It doesn't have to make sense, it doesn't have to be related to the subject actually under discussion. But they have to be seen as actively involved in the discussion. That's the Long Screwdriver type that cause huge amounts of interference and damage in projects.

I'm a much quieter person. I will listen hard to everything going on in a meeting and will be actively collating all that information together. I'll make judgment calls as to whether I need to pass something on to people outside the meeting. And that often happens because meetings can't involve everyone because they're a time sink.

I'll talk when I need to, not because the Long Screwdriver instinct says I should be.

The problem comes when the Long Screwdriver person's behaviour gets reinforced by apparent progress made when they're around. They don't seem to realise that we'd have been getting on with it anyway and we'd have got on with it better without their interference.

Case in point - several problems we're tackling now have their roots years ago when a collection of these Seen And Definitely Heard people were involved. (There's been quite a number of them)

This all sounds like a rant doesn't it ?

There's a definite separation between Professional Behaviour and how people actually are.

The big target of the rant above is actually a great person. He inspired a certain kind of loyalty, despite all the interference. A long time ago I worked directly for one of the other people I've vaguely referred to above and would defend him without question. I saw his workload back then, the documents he worked from and I'm not surprised deeply significant critical details were missed out (because the source documents were misleading). But I know how hard they worked and could see how much effort they put in to getting things right. His only fault was to not get his helper (me!) involved when he was getting overwhelmed.

That's one thing I'm struggling with at the moment - summoning the energy to put in. And I think that's showing with the tendency not to hit that "create post" button here. I'm ok at work when I'm powered by Coffee, Crunchies and Pepsi Max but the crash comes at home. (Not needed the Crunchie & Pepsi Max for a while!)

I'm still battling the skin thing, although it's hugely better than it was a month ago. I'm nearly clear on all parts of my body, with the red inflamed bits steadily receding. There's still a few holdout bits but the treatment gel stuff is very effective with those. However, I'm having to balance treatment with looking after the rest of me - hip hates me right now.

This weekend has been a chilled out one, filled with sport. Yesterday saw As-Live coverage of the cricket from India, it starts at 4am and finishes at 11am so the hours are hostile for watching it in the week. But it's ok for a weekend. Follow that yesterday with England v South Africa rugby and then the Grand Prix qualifying. Today it's As-Live cricket again, which will finish neatly before the Grand Prix starts. I'll be able to watch a little of the build up too.

There's also Strictly Come Dancing too, hopefully Michael & Natalie will keep going, although I suspect they'll be in the dance off. There's a lot of great dancers in Strictly this year, any of the ones left in now could win the whole thing, it's that open.

I'll close out with Movember - I had a head start here because my face was a bit torn up by the spreading infected excema. I cut the beard but kept the 'tache for Movember. It's a fairly decent one too, maybe I'll grab a picture :-)

But - I promise - in a week, it's gone. Lol. It's annoying and is getting in the way.

And I suspect that promise to remove it will come as great relief to all who know me.

Right ! Back to the cricket and firstly, enough munchies to see me through a few hours where I'll want to touch as little as possible. And then - more gunky treatment ... (Cross fingers I stay warm!)

PS I'm on the busses to get into work next week, which is due to more of those Long Screwdriver people ... We have a huge site where I work but. The Long Screwdriver mob are insisting on squeezing more people into it than can fit so they can close other sites. That's in terms of how many desks we have for them as well as car parking space. Yet no one of sufficient seniority has raised their flag to say "What the hell are you playing at ?". They just accept the squeeze as normal business. Instead of going "Ok, we'll make this happen by abusing our workforce" it should be "There is no more room on this site, stop squeezing more in". We're expected to cope with about 75% of the room needed to fit everyone in. It doesn't work. And they wonder why the workforce keeps giving the senior management votes of no confidence in the yearly surveys ...

Monday, November 19, 2012

Stepping forward, stepping back

(Yep - I know I've used that title recently, different theme this time - honest !)

Noticed a trend with technology ?

We seem to be taking as many steps backwards as we are taking steps forward with our tech.

Yes. Our toys do more than they did years ago. However ... they're also far less reliable and don't always work the way they're supposed to. Another issue is expectation. We expect the technology we buy to live up to its claims.

I can think of a few big examples. The biggest is software ... It used to be that software driven items would arrive in a fully tested and ready for market state. As the complexity of the software increases, so does the potential for error in that software. Especially now, as instead of effectively being hand crafted, our software is built by automated compilation systems. If the compiler has an error, that error infests the final compiled software.

And that brings me to amusing example 1 of today : Bad news for any Android people looking to book in Xmas ... That's an example of one of those software errors that we didn't see much of. But because the internet opens the possibility of fixing the errors that should never have been exposed to the public, that increases the likelihood of those errors being allowed to slip through testing.

Testing is nowhere near as comprehensive as it should be these days. It doesn't help when the underlying operating system is just plain broken. (Vista, WinME ?) Oh - what happened at that link ? A basic software error meant that one of the people contact apps couldn't understand the month December. That's right folks, Google cancelled Christmas.

It's a simple error but one that I can't remember seeing much of before the ability to easily patch meant that proper quality control became unaffordable.

It's not just Android though, my suspicion of Windows phones is being justified ...

You know how people used to joke that if anything went wrong with Windows, the cure would be to restart it ? Well - that's transferring to their attempt at making a smartphone too ... If you have a look in that Register story, it tells of phones rebooting at random. There's a term for that, rooted in the Sales of Goods Act - "not fit for purpose".

Yet it's becoming standard that we accept stuff that's just not finished.

To keep the balance, it's not just Windows that's bad. One big reason I'm looking at iPhones is because my Android mobile is not the 100% stable thing that it should be. And I know I'd be inheriting a few bugs with the iPhone. Anyone remember the antenna problems with an iPhone that meant that if you held it in your left hand, you'd short out the antenna ? Apple aren't the best either ...

I dunno. It's just annoying that defective items are becoming the accepted norm. Our toys do more but at the cost of complication and ever increasing gremlins.

In other news ...

That steering wheel acquisition is getting closer. I was in Curiosity Only mode until last night. When I spotted F1 2012 on offer on Steam ... Couldn't resist. So I now have a racing game and no wheel to play it with. I have a decent joystick but that's best on flight stuff, not so good with cars.

And it wouldn't be a Sleepypete 2012 post without something on health ... People are telling me I'm looking significantly better than I was a few weeks ago. I guess that's true :-) 3 weeks ago I was pretty bad. Now the skin thing is mostly cleared up.

Went away this weekend just gone to see the parents for the birthday weekend. Met someone who's likely to effectively be the little Brother-Out-Law. Sister's been going out with someone for a bit over a year now, a fella who has a son. I think of them both as brothers now, having met the son this weekend. Good kid and he has a brain that means I can talk to him on a fairly equal level because he'll understand or figure out the techie or mechanical stuff. Awesome.

Decent weekend but it's told me one thing - I am improving but not sufficiently improved yet to be healing on my own. There's a few patches that were coming back. They responded well to a gunking last night though :-)

Prospects are still looking good, I just have to maintain the discipline to do that gunking. Which also means pain because it involves sitting in positions which my right hip doesn't like ...

PS One last techie thing which I'm hoping won't strike now ... Virgin media still has broken Youtube ! Seems to be spreading into iPlayer too. Watching Strictly off iPlayer yesterday evening was ... frustrating.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Targeting : Pasty White

Birthday yesterday. Yey !

Perhaps. I'm definitely feeling older on the inside these days, although I try and hide that as much as possible.

So - what did I do ? Went to work as usual. There's two different ways people approach work on their birthday. Some come in, some take it as time off. I prefer to come in so I can grin at people. I much prefer being around other people than being on my own.

Ok - so how does that tie in with living on my own so much ? Yawn. I get by with keeping up with what's coming over Facebook, not so much blogging these days, by watching the amusing gaming related videos, by trying to make people laugh over online chat. (I kinda miss the WoW chat, there's some amazing characters there)

It wasn't all work yesterday though. I had the follow up appointment at the doctors. I have to say, the experience has improved since the first visit :

Visit 1 - waited over an hour past the appointment time. Saw bloke doctor. Meh. Sure, I'll look at a male athlete's body and think it's attractive but my thoughts are mainly "How can I be like that ?"

Visit 2 - waited a while again, saw lady doctor. Impression ? Brain the size of a planet but a little disconnected from reality. As in didn't quite perceive the universe the way the rest of us do. Cute from that certain point of view though.

(I'm sure there's a few people who think much the same of me)

Visit 3 - shorter wait, more normal lady doctor. The sort of person who would look stunning if they made the effort. Better drugs too, they cleared out the infection although there's still damage to repair.

Visit 4 (yesterday) - shorter wait again, different doctor again. Total - KNOCKOUT. Wow. She had the sort of looks that would have nightclub bouncers letting her not just bypass the queue, they'd be paying her to go in. Oh and she was chuckling at my vague attempts at humour too.

Yep. I believe I managed to remain rational and intelligent in the face of all that beauty.

Prognosis ? Recovering steadily. Doc didn't think I needed any drugs this time (reckon the infection has been dealt with) but she was worried about the remaining bits of me that are still angry looking. So I'll keep doing the Hide & Treatment thing until I'm all pasty white again like a proper geek should be.

Keep that Yellow Face away. It burns.

So my birthday evening was spent watching stuff on the telly while hiding in my main room trying not to get the gunk I'm treating the damage with on anything.

That sounds pretty bad doesn't it ?

Yes. From a certain point of view. However. I look back to a fortnight ago and remember all the damage I had then. I remember how wretched existence was getting. I remember having to remove work outfits as soon as possible when getting home. I remember trying to keep the ickiness of the infection under control. I remember trying to keep it hidden while at work and to avoid it affecting my performance there.

And then I think - I'm now far more healthy than I was then. I'm getting the most important birthday present anybody can get - my health.

And that's far more valuable than anything monetary or material. Although hugs would be awesome too.

Cakes tomorrow ! I have a visit to the contractor's place but on the way back, cakes will be acquired for work.

PS I also have to thank everyone who's been giving me support (or just treating me normally) when I've been down.
PS2 Trolling contractors is far too amusing.

Monday, November 12, 2012

(Not) Spending cash again

Apologies in advance cos this is gonna be a scattergun post :-)

Headed up to the Mall again tonight. Just ... felt the urge to wander. Plus there's a kinda novelty back to it now.

I'm not totally healed up yet but I'm hugely improved from where I was just 2 weeks ago. That's best summed up as "wretched". The thing that was consistently dominating my thoughts was "must get home, must get the self-treatment done". I'll spare you the icky details but heading out for a Mall run was the farthest thing from my mind. I missed a few leaving do-s in town (including the original Finance Angel's one) because my skin condition was quite frankly, embarassing.

Most medical conditions can be hidden away. People either fight through exhaustion, mask depression, conceal illness or isolate their sneezes at home. Skin conditions are different. There's an intense feeling of embarassment associated with it. It's out there on the surface to be seen by all. With me, it was under my right eye and on my ears. It was also on my arms and legs. A skin thing is something that makes you want to hide away, not due to fear of infecting people but due to knowing how icky it is.

Waaaaait - Post Derailment Alarm triggered !

Things have much improved now, to the point where I can quite happily head off to the Mall on a whim for a wander.

It's kinda dangerous though, because I haven't bought myself much yet for my birthday. Ok, so I did pick up the Space Above And Beyond series from (ultra low price - had to). I've not bought anything major though.

One big thing from tonight : "Smile and the world will smile back at you"

I've been having pretty ladies smile at me. Not sure why. Perhaps it's because I look like a human again and not someone you see on those disease outbreak movies. I caught one of the girls in HMV looking at me (she was on till and bored cos no-one was buying anything) and sending a smile my way. So she got the Big Grin (tm) when I spotted her.

Been getting lots of opportunities tonight to use that Big Grin. Wonder if it's down to what's working out as a Wolf Man look. My hair's about as long it has been right now, plus I've joined in with the Movember thing.

Maybe I should keep the moustache ? :-) :-) :-)

Hey - spending money. I have 2 big items on my I Want List at the moment :

iPhone 5 - I'm definitely thinking about pensioning off my current phone and the iPhone 5 is very tempting. Especially as I'm already locked into iTunes. But ... £269 up front and £15 more a month than my current contract ... not so tempting.

Steering wheel for PC - This is being held off at the moment more from people not wanting to sell me one than it is from me procrastinating too much. With these, you have to spend a certain amount or what you buy breaks within a couple of months. But ... the various techie shops at the Mall don't appear to want to sell the next tier up. I may get one eventually, although I don't actually have anything to race with one yet.

I feel the Need For Speed again. Forza scratched that itch for a while but the Xbox360 platform is getting very archaic now.

So - spending big cash tonight : resisted. But - it was good to escape the house for a little while tonight, although I'd kinda like to have tagged along with someone with the excuse of buying them dinner. There's stuff I need to buy but I just don't think of looking in the places that sell the stuff I need to buy.

Doctor's again tomorrow - I'm not completely healed yet but things are improving. I'll be curious to see what she says.

PS I did buy something at the Mall tonight, collection cd's from Texas and Johnny Cash have arrived :-)

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Wheely Obsession

I feel I have one of those "must buy widget" obsessions coming on again.

What is it this time ?

A steering wheel. Yes ! A steering wheel. This particular obsession started after watching a Youtube video by the Yogscast, where they were trying out Forza Horizon (racing game). There's a bit of history to it as well :

In the BBC micro era, I was addicted to a game called Revs. It was a Formula 3 car simulator which was groundbreaking. It dates back to when computers were archaic compared to what they can do now. If I emulated a BBC on a modern PC, it would barely register on the cpu need. I believe Revs became the foundation for the first F1 games on PC.

One of the things distracting me at uni as Need For Speed Hot Pursuit 3, which could get some quite hilarious crashes going. It offered a decent challenge. I didn't think so much of the Porsche game though or the first Colin McRae rally game.

Games a far more complex these days though, with the simulation going as far as modelling how the wheels go up and down with the suspension. And all sorts of other crazy stuff like that.

When I bought an Xbox a couple of years ago, the game that caught my attention most was Forza 3 (the Xbox's signature racing game). Dead Space and Halo 2 were boring next to PC shooters and Final Fantasy XIII was a tad meh. But I definitely enjoyed Forza. The controller works well with it, using two analogue triggers for brake and throttle and a joystick for steering.

But - it's missing something ...

The building obsession is with finding a cost effective steering wheel. And I think it's going to be a PC steering wheel because it'll be easier to attach it to my desk than to have it on my lap in front of the telly. Plus the PC is far more powerful than the Xbox 360.

There's a few things to think about though :

Robustness. It's pointless and frustrating to spend money on something for it to break in a few months. And most of the affordable wheels seem really bad for robustness.
Price. Think I may have to go as high as £70 to get on the bottom rung of acceptable robustness.
Fit. Not sure if this is relevant now, as wheels have been around long enough that they've evolved into the ideal.

So there you have it - Value For Money and Robustness > features.

Will I indulge this obsession ? Maybe. It'll depend on availability as well. I'd likely have to special order a wheel in order to get to a minimum acceptable level. And it'll depend on being able to get a suitable game to play it on too. I've not actually used my new joystick that much, mainly because I haven't got a good enough game to take advantage of it. (Need to check out Planetside 2 still).

Need to get healthy as well though. The health has improved, people think I look early 30s again plus most of the patches have recovered. There's still quite a few bad patches though and my ears have definitely not recovered yet. I need to figure out how I can leave them alone more to recover. And I'm back at the doctor's place on Tuesday too.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Boom ! Recovery

I've been writing a lot lately about the infection that had hold of my legs and various bits of the rest of me ...

Hopefully that little segment of my life is coming to a close :-)

Since the doctor trip on Wednesday there's been some quite dramatic improvement. I'm not clear of signs of inflammation yet but it's getting so close that I'll soon have difficulty picking places to put the medicine cream. It's improved that much and that's coming from it affecting maybe 20-30% of me.

I hadn't said exactly how much it had affected me had I ? Well, as well as the big patches on my legs being joined by patches around my elbows, the infection had spread to my hip, ribs area, bum, ears, a patch under my eye. Probably about 20-30% of me, some bits worse than others.

But it's now considerably better. I'm hoping that when I next see the doctor in 9 days, I can walk into her office with a big grin and show completely healed legs and arms. But I'm not counting my chickens just yet, it's improved before and then come right back. Hopefully I've identified why with thinking that I'm allergic to a few things :

Orange Juice - think I have a citrus allergy which was setting off bad breathing and the excema.
White bread - I can mostly avoid this because brown bread seems fine. Pizza's a problem but as long as I keep that in moderation I'll be fine :-)
Office - dry air is promoting the excema I think. Can't do much about that except try and get moisture in to me.

So yeah - I'm hoping this little chapter is coming to a close so I can concentrate on getting things done and moving forward again :-) I've let a lot of things drift lately because I've had my whole essence focused on trying to get healthy again.


We had our annual Crazie Fireworks combined with birthdays last night, hosted by the BionicDwarf. I'll hopefully get this house in order for a bit of hosting soon, that's another thing put on hold by the infection.

I have to say, Sainsburys rockets are much better than Tescos rockets although we did get one "interesting" rocket which hangfired. And we had one of the mortar boxes decide to start shooting sideways.

Great little display though, CK, BD and I chipped in with £270 worth of fireworks which gave us just over half an hour of :

Cracking fireworks too.

We followed that with pizza (yey!) and a couple of movies after handing out of a decent selection of birthday presents. Tis birthday season at the moment, with BD, CQ and mine coming in quick succession. Mine's not until the 13th (born on a Wednesday). Oh - movies, I'm watching one of my new ones at the moment : Beastmaster. Old classic.

After that - Strictly results. Yep. I watch Strictly Come Dancing. First year watching it as a regular and I'm quite enjoying it.

And with that admission (coinciding with the dinner gong from the kitchen), time to sign off with the shreds of leftover dignity :-)

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Something old, something new, something different

I've managed to almost get everything in the library listened to :-)

There's a full 1.6 days of new stuff in the library, or so iTunes tells me. Maybe I kinda went a little overboard in acquiring all those soundtracks ...

It's not all soundtracks though - here's some of what came in :

Tori Amos - Abnormally Attracted To Sin. Not bad, kinda more of the same. Tori Amos is a very talented singer songwriter and also extremely prolific. Being prolific isn't always a good thing, as it can mean that too much of the not so good stuff gets unleashed. Abnormally Attracted to Sin is better than American Doll Posse but isn't as good as some of her best material. Still worth a look though.

Smash Mouth - All Star Greatest Hits. Lol :-) This is fun. Again, nothing classic here although the I'm A Believer cover excels.

Alone In The Dark soundtracks - I grabbed all three of these games in a cutprice ultra bargain deal at Good Old Games.Com. IIRC it was about $3 for all three. We weren't convinced about AITD 2 but the first game kept us busy at uni for months before we had it cracked. This was in the dim and distant days before Wiki captured all the walkthroughs and before the Internet and Google really took off so it was tougher to find hints and tips. It's from when Hint Telephone Lines could make money.

I'm listening to the AITD3 soundtrack at the moment and it's ... got character :-) Liking it.

Morcheeba's Charango - Morcheeba are pretty different to what I usually listen to. They'll be different to what most people listen to. But that's mainly because they put a lot of variation into their albums. Charango is no different and there's a good selection of good tracks here. Check them out, there's a good chance they'll have something you like.

Fallout soundtrack - another from, this time I saw a "sign up and get this game free!" So I did. The Fallout games have always had their own unique character charm to them. They're set in a Post Apocalyptic alternate reality Earth where those kitsch 70s ads hung around way past their time. It lets them put a certain degree of very dark humour into their games to offset the post apocalyptic thing.

Faster Than Light soundtrack - this one is available on Bandcamp from Ben Prunty music. Game soundtracks have a specific job to do - they set and reinforce the mood and then submerge under the game to become subliminal. The Mass Effect and Deus Ex HR soundtracks are very good at doing that and this one is the same. Will be looking out for more from Ben Prunty in the future.

The White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan. Another very different pop group. I first listened to their Elephant album. Different is definitely good when it comes to music, it sets groups apart from mainstream tat and gets them noticed. I've definitely noticed The White Stripes and will be looking for more, they're worth it. This album appeared courtesy of Head doing offers :-)

Bat For Lashes - The Haunted Man. It's good. There's some decent tracks here but not as many stand out tracks as on her previous albums. I've yet to listen to it as a pure album though, maybe in the next few days when I get round to it.

Independence War soundtracks. These are another couple of game soundtracks picked up for peanuts from One thing about GoG is that you get lots of freebies with the game. Things like pdf copies of the manuals (when game manuals were worth having), pictures of material like spellbooks and best of all - soundtracks. Oh ! I-War 1 + 2 - two games that unfortunately for them came around at the same time as when the X-Wing games were going strong and which therefore didn't get the chance they deserved.

Last Night Of The Proms. I'm a Prom fan, I try and watch every year's Last Night if I can. I like music and this is as uplifting as it comes. Perhaps this recording isn't as good as most though, I suspect it was the one where the organisers went "We're recording this, keep it quiet" and therefore missed the whole Audience Participation thing where the off-time audience additions make the whole show.

Lisa Hannigan - Passenger and Sea Sew. Oh. Character. This girl has it. Lisa Hannigan had the misfortune to emerge at the same time as Little Boots, who at the time was on a mission and was blowing away all the competition. Yet here was delicate and very precious Lisa Hannigan coming along with that unique and deliberately fragile voice. Little Boots doesn't hold my attention as much now but Lisa Hannigan singing I Don't Know ? You may have heard that one so here's a different link : What'll I do ?

Very glad I gave Lisa Hannigan a second look courtesy of some cheap Amazon deals :-)

Oh dear. I seem to have been distracted into listening to as many Lisa Hannigan videos off Youtube as I can find. Time to close and maybe leave room for a Part 2 of new stuff :-)

But before I go :

Something old - Red Dwarf's back. Not quite sure what I think, the concept is extremely tired now and overdone canned audience laughter detracts from the comedy value.

Something new - watched the first couple of episodes of Arrow tonight. Not convinced I'll stick with this one, it has great TV actors in it but the concept is weak ...

Something different - watched the first episode of Elementary. This one has more of a future than Arrow I think, if the networks stick with it. But ... concept has been overdone, there's about 4 different Sherlock Holmes going on at the moment - the BBC one, Elementary, the films and the really bad ones we see on the movie channels occasionally.

PS I think they gave me Strong pills this time. They've certainly had a very fast and decisive effect. Need to figure out something to have with the ones I'll have tomorrow morning ... (6 little pills with food that masks a nasty aftertaste)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

And to the doctor's again ...

Yep. After having yes/no's last night, I paid them a visit today.

Doctor's worried too ... She got me to make a repeat appointment in a fortnight. Gotta say, I was worried too after what the legs were looking like this morning (I'm saying nothing here in case people are reading in lunch break).

Result ?

More pills, even more pills, more cream and ... even more cream. And I need to be using the moisturiser more too.

It seems to be having an effect already though :-)

I've had a bunch of the pills, used the cream once, had a shower and ... my legs still look very angry with me (they deserve to to be honest) but my arms look improved already. Fingers crossed that I improve over the next few days, at least enough to wear long sleeves ?

Why long sleeves do I hear you ask ?

Normally at the weekend, at the moment at least, I'd be hibernating inside trying to take it easy cos of this skin thing. This weekend ?


It's birthday season at the moment. Bionicdwarf's was last week, Craziequeen's is in a few days and mine's in a fortnight. Mine means cakes for people at work on the Monday or Wednesday, I can't bring them in on my actual birthday because that's when the next doctor appointment is.

We're celebrating by making lots of things explode over the weekend. I have the presents wrapped but still need to acquire the fun stuff. Setting off the loud bangs involves being outside though, hence hoping to be able to wear those long sleeves so I don't completely freeze.

Oh it also means Pizza. YEY !

PS I've also had to activate word verification for comments, which is a huge shame. Over the past couple of days, someone's been trying to sell stuff by slamming lots of spam comments in. I won't tolerate that and neither will Google (they canned the first account before I could report it). But they appear to be able to get around Google's spam detection (dunno how, the comments have been near identical). If I have to enable comment moderation, this will be why.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Brr - season's changed

It's definitely got a lot colder over the last half week or so.

I'm really noticing the cold snap come in. My current state of health is a lot to do with that for a few good reasons :

I think fighting bugs keeps me warm. Kinda like there maybe being a good side to being ill. The fever means you have your own little internal personal electric heater. I think the antibiotics have cleared out all the bugs though (definitely judging by my ankles being bony again).

It's definitely colder - the car is telling me the temperature is down below 10 degrees C often, last week it was 13-18 degrees C. In work, there are little thermo reactive strips in strategic places on the pillars. Those typically read 27 degrees C (ish - they're not exactly precise!), today they were reading 23.

Most important is that skin condition, it's meaning I can't wear long sleeves right now (although I possibly could have for second half of today - improvement !). I'm actively considering wearing a t-shirt under my shirt tomorrow as a kind of vest. I've not done that since school !

Getting really cold at the moment from having to leave certain bits of skin exposed to help them heal. I've turned the heating up at home (and have the PC doing work for SETI etc) but can't do much of that at work. Spookily enough, I think the atmospherics at work are actually helping me at the moment. It tends to be quite a dry atmosphere and that drying out seems to be helping the healing.

I know someone who used to be on the same project as me who'd feel cold on a hot day, she must be absolutely freezing at the moment. Hope she's ok. Not spotted her for ages, which is a shame cos that Sunshine smile she has brightens up the day.

I'm sparing a thought though for people across the Pond.

It's just cold over here at the moment, we're not having to contend with snow (yet) or other adverse weather. Yet there's Superstorm Sandy battering the Eastern parts of the USA. The USA is pretty huge, for a storm to be battering so much of it says a lot about how spectacular a storm it is.

Nature is a truly awesome power.

And I'll leave it there - hope the storm over the sea doesn't have too many lasting effects.

Oh - I'm in a quandary at the moment as to whether to go see the Doctor again. I had genuine improvement today after a scary (messy) evening yesterday. Let's just say the cream probably made things worse. What I need to do is leave things alone long enough for them to get quality healing. As for the Doctor today, let's just say GB's healthcare may be a lot cheaper than other countries but it's definitely not as accessible as it could be.

But it's a lot more accessible than a few places I could mention right now !

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Worst ... films ... Ever !


One thing people won't tell you about Skyfall is the truly excessive amount of advertising (and trailers) that we were subjected to before the film started. During those ... Bionicdwarf, Cyberkitten and I were talking Worst Films Ever. Not quite sure which trailer or advert started us off on that to be honest but we knew a good idea for a blog post when we saw it.

So here goes ... Films that were so Bad they should never have been made. But seeing as they were, all copies need to be gathered up and cremated for the good of humanity.

Firstly - Anything. ANYTHING that Uwe Boll had a hand in.

He's a German film individual that goes from game to game, turning good games into incredibly bad films. They truly have to be seen to believe how bad they are. Although I wouldn't wish seeing an Uwe Boll film on anyone. That said, Bloodrayne wasn't too bad although Bloodrayne 2 was a horrible mess without the any of attributes that made the first watchable.

Star Trek Nemesis. Star Trek was still going before this film came out. Voyager was still running and Enterprise was just starting to look promising. However. Nemesis came out, with an awful script that had all humour removed. The humour was there (it was in the book) but all trace of it was surgically removed from the theatrical presentation. Nemesis killed Trek so bady that they had to start up the franchise in an alternate reality.

Anything "mockbuster". You know what these are ... It's where they take a successful film and remake it with a subtly different name. Battle Of Los Angeles (i.e. not Battle: Los Angeles) is one of these but there's been others made, including the Terminators, Transmorphers, Transformers and a few others. Watch for them, avoid them. FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR SANITY !!!!!


What's next ? Starship Troopers 2. The first and third Starship Troopers films are fairly ok. They're very watchable, although they take the original Heinlein book into an extremely right wing direction. Must watch the animated series again, shame they didn't get the chance to finish it. However, I shall definitely not watch Starship Troopers 2 again.

Twilight. Ok, this wasn't actually too bad but as a vampire movie fan, I should have been wanting to watch the rest. Must be something about Kristen Stewart. I don't think I've ever seen someone as good looking be so unwatchable.

Snow White & The Huntsman. Not too bad a film, just not nearly as entertaining as Mirror Mirror and it suffers from the Kristen Stewart effect.

Total Recall (the new one). Another in a long line of films that are very well made but ... WHY ? Why remake a B-movie, with the only script inspiration being to take away the Mars aspect ? The original made more sense. There was no real need to redo this one.

Limitless. Again, well made movie, I just really didn't like the Drugs Make Winners message.

I think that's enough for now. Last one - Mars Attacks. However, this one while it was bad, was so hilarious with it that I feel I need to watch it again soon :-)

PS Healthcheck. Think I'm improving. Ear's not so bad and I think I'm steadily getting my arms back. Skin feels good too :-) Fingers crossed - I'll be able to wear long sleeves again by the end of this week.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Skyfall Friday

Saw the new Bond film today :-)

Believe the hype. Instead of being mostly joke as some Bond films have been, there's a seriously good action thriller here. It keeps you guessing as it goes from action sequence to action sequence.

I suspect I'll see something new in it when I watch it again. I'm a Bond film fan but don't actually own many of them (just Casino Royale). I reckon I'll be watching the bluray of this one repeatedly. They've done a good job with this one.

"Too much information" starts here ...

Think my condition is improving. But ever so slowly. I'm not leaking as much :-) I've managed to leave my bad ear alone since Wednesday night, so it must be still healing. The rest of me is similar, although my arms feel like they're on fire at the moment. The skin there is very dry and cracked. But it's healing too and not leaking.

Just gotta look after it and protect it while I'm awake and while I'm sleeping. That's probably something people don't think about ... You move about while you sleep. What happens if you roll over on to an ear that's not happy and damage it ? Will you set the healing back on your limbs because you've unconsciously dragged half healed bits over the bedsheets or the quilt ?

Having to think of things like that so I don't set the healing backwards overnight.

I think I'm doing ok with it. We'll see how it goes over the weekend. Gotta say, the sleeveless cricket top I bought has been a godsend, as wearing that means the sleeves aren't putting that healing back.

There is some definite healing going on, the bits of my legs that originally went bad last year are pretty much back to normal now. It's just other bits of my legs which are having bother.

Think I figured something out today too :

Pizza = good - HURRAH !!!!!
White bread = bad - meh.

I've not reacted to the pizza for early dinner but did start to wheeze after munching the results of the Fryday morning Bacon Sarnie run. I'm learning :-).

I suspect I'll need to see the doctor again soon but - healing is happening. It's just happening slowly and I'm having to try hard to ignore the temptation to go scratchy-scratchy.

Fingers crossed for an easy weekend :-)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Counting Blessings

I've been hitting some massive lows lately.

I'm well and truly fed up with the skin condition I've got ... I want it gone. It is truly just a skin deep problem, although a fair few people at work have let me know they're worried for me with it. But even though it is just skin deep, it has effects that run a lot deeper.

It's very distracting. And that goes for my mind making up false symptoms. Some of those make me very itchy, which ends up causing me to make the problem worse.
I get signs that it's getting better ... and then it gets worse again. That's crushing.
I think I've figured out a cause of the problem, I shift how I live ... and then the problem comes back again.

I was having trouble at work on Monday, although I tried to hide that as far as possible. Part of that was lack of sleep, although I think I've figured that one out now. But most of it was seeing improvement after the Doc visit end in disappointment as my week off went on.

I think the last couple of changes (laying off the OJ and taking antihistamines) have made a difference but it's awful, awful slow. And my skin is still very sensitive.

Ok, ok, that's enough about my troubles. How about those blessings ?

What's let me turn the corner this week from massive depression to more up & at 'em is a few very good friends.

You know who you are ! You've been awesome to chat to over the last few days.

That's where I count myself very lucky. There's the work colleagues who I've been lucky to count as friends for years, the ones in my work-not work circle (CK & CQ!), there's the canteen people who look out for me and someone who keeps an eye on me through Steamchat.

They've been helping me keep going through these medical issues. And it's hugely appreciated.

PS If I'm still leaking next week, I'll go see the doc's again. Honest.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Techie matters - when speed matters not

I've felt a whinge coming on for a little while now.

I've been with the same ISP since I moved into my current house. That's like almost 11 years now. (Yep. Long time!). It started out as Telewest Blueyonder before they got hit by mergers, joining NTL to become part of the Branson Virgin Media empire.

To be fair, the service isn't bad. I started with a 512kbit/s connection way back. That's been steadily upgraded over the years and is now up at a genuine 20Mbits per second of download. And it gives that speed too on downloads. The upload has improved too and is now double that original 512Kbits/s download (original upload 128Kbit/s, it's now 1Mbit/s).

Techie talk aside - that's quicker than my first laptop could send information across wires to the computer next door to it. It's quick enough to download the latest Bat For Lashes album in about a minute (it's 120MB on iTunes).


It's evidently not fast enough to play Youtube videos in high definition. That's deeply MEH, especially as seeing off buffering was one of the themes of recent Virgin Media advertising. What happens is that when you try to play a fairly recent (as in made in the last day or so), you'll be able to see a few minutes of video and then you get Whirly Wheel silence as you are forced to wait for the next chunk of video to load.

I tried to keep up with watching the Felix Baumgartner highskydive. Just one problem - whirly wheel silence just took over totally and it was a total waste of time and effort.

It's not the hardware here. I can play BBC iPlayer just fine. The old hardware was happily handling 3 concurrent streams of BBC iPlayer Olympics in HD. I picked up a new freebie modem/router which will hopefully see that 20MBits/s get upgraded to 30MBits/s soon. That's not sorted the problem.

What apparently is causing the problem is a local proxy server in the Virgin Media network. What happens there is that you're not playing the video back from a Youtube server, it's playing from a Virgin Media server which is intercepting the calls to play the video. And it can't keep up.

Again - deeply, truly - Meh.

It's great to have a massive pipe to get the data through. The problem comes in because of something in the way (which shouldn't be there) taking the data supply back to a trickle. I'd much rather have, say, 5Mbits/s and HD playback than rarely used 20Mbit/s and no HD playback.

Don't get me wrong - this is not a matter of keeping up with something being streamed live, it's that poxy proxy server being unable to chuck the video data out fast enough. I suspect with the Baumgartner jump (streamed from Youtube), it was a matter of not being able to send the video data to many viewers.

Hopefully it's something that will get sorted out soon. But I have my doubts because it appears to be bad hardware and bad decisions in the Virginmedia network itself. Proxy servers are Bad News.

Ok - time to end the whinge ...

I've stuck with Virginmedia this long because the service has given near 100% availability. It's almost unheard of for the connection to go down. Sure, bandwidth throttling is annoying but even when that kicks in the connection is faster than the typical ADSL line.

And it was nice to get a shiny new wifi modem router (most capable piece of kit in my network right now), all for free. But it would be even nicer if I didn't have to click the Youtube videos back to 480p (which works ok) within a minute or five of starting to watch every single video.