Monday, July 29, 2013

Back to work (and other things)

First day back on the job today.

I'm not healed yet (not by a long way to be honest) but I'm in better condition than I was early last week. I'm managing to leave some of the really bad bits alone (but still harassing others) and they're responding by being a little bit tougher. It's still really easy to break the discipline and set the healing back, although the bad bits are recovering better too when I do attack them.

But work's not all about me wondering whether or not I need to hide bits of me away.

I was hoping I'd get a chance to give a Big Grin (tm) to someone special today but she's still not feeling well. Not back yet. Grinning at the canteen girls just isn't the same as the challenge of trying to invent something suitably daft to make someone smart smile.

Today was actually pretty good, the first day back is always a catch up day and I think I've caught up fairly quick. Tomorrow's job will be to start to analyse one of our key documents to see how we need to update and refine it. But today was more pain free than I've had for a while. I still have pain issues but the hip seemed ok.

Happy days.

I was feeling good enough to do a Mall run as well tonight, although I did have ulterior motives :

Replacing worn out trousers,
Grabbing more cash

And I happened to walk out of there with 5 more blu-ray movies (Willow, ET, John Carter, Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter and Real Steel) and puzzlement about one of the Russians who work at the KFC asking how I was.

Oh - games ... There's a youtuber out there called Totalbiscuit. He's dangerous. I blame him for me buying the new Shadowrun Returns game. It's actually pretty good, it's an isometric* role playing game that concentrates on story over complication. I've been impressed with it so far, although it's starting to outlive the boredom factor.

*(isometric - flat 2d world but projected on screen as fake 3d. Like if you put a picture on a coffee table and then looked at the picture from the side and above)

The look of the game works pretty well and harkens back to the old days of computer role playing games. Modern games make the mistake of making everything 3d and rendered on the fly. That's good from a feature point of view but doesn't work so well from a game point of view.

Baldur's Gate - was an isometric 2d like Shadowrun Returns. Sold like hot cakes. Predrawn backgrounds made it look sharp.
Neverwinter Nights - was fully 3d but in the isometric style. Just didn't look as good as Baldur's Gate, it wasn't as popular.
Neverwinter Nights 2 - fully 3d set up like a shooter. Ugh. Nasty. I didn't like this one at all.

Compare that opinion of 3d to the telly and movie world and ... They're moving away from 3d as well. Audiences see it as a gimmick which just doesn't add anything of value. And when we look at Shadowrun Returns, it's gone back to old style 2d on predrawn backgrounds and ... it looks good plus you can concentrate on enjoying the story instead of fighting the game.

What else have I been playing ?

I discovered World of Tanks over the weekend ... I've known about this one for a while but hadn't tried it. Opinion ? I'm really impressed. I'm hooked already. But I want to save talking about this one for another post.

And as a close :
That was the latest Kerbal Space Programme attempt. Yes. It's an abomination. And the first attempt at a launch saw it blow over in the wind and snap in the middle ... Oops.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Random holiday stuff

Been trying to chill out and generally get into better condition than I have been ...

I've not been out the house since leaving work last Friday. There's been a couple of reasons for that, the biggest being England winning in the Ashes again :-) 2-0 up with 3 games to play. Hopefully at Old Trafford in Manchester, they'll get the third win to secure the series victory.

To be honest, that was the plan, to chill out and repair - I think I'll need to head out tomorrow though because I ran out of cornettos tonight.

Yep. There's a new critical thingy that determines when I go shopping ... The recent heatwave has a lot to do with that though. It's made me rediscover a taste for minty cornettos. Popcorn is actually going away from that list of critical thingys because I can't find the best kind any more (Tesco have stopped selling it in favour of stuff that's just not as good).

Thinking about a centre of Bristol run soon though, one thing I watched last weekend was the early stage of the Eve Alliance Tournament (online spaceships game) and the incidental music being played in the breaks included two tracks that attracted the attention : Addicted by Waldeck and Booty Swing by Parov Stelar. They're both similar to Caro Emerald and I think I could quite happily listen to them. They're cost prohibitive on Amazon though (above £10 for a cd) so I've not bought them yet. There's more places to hunt them in Bristol.

When I do head out though, I want to be reasonably sure I won't leak too much. The heat hasn't helped there (spectacular thunderstorm out the window a couple of nights ago). It seems like when one leak closes down, another leak will start up again. But I think it's slowly repairing. I need to try and get to the doctor's though tomorrow or Friday because I think I've adjusted to what I have been using and it's now hindering.

But I don't want to talk about the skin condition. It helps to distract away from it so :

Gaming - I collected a few more games over the sale period :
Dishounored - a steampunk stealth game where if you go killcrazy, bad things happen. Should be good.
Blood Bowl Chaos League - American Football with bloodthirsty orcs, elves and demons
Football Manager 2013 - don't ask ;-)
Europa Universalis III - black hole depth war sim (I found a code and will probably not actually play it)

The latest Steam sale was actually a bit disappointing. I only ran for 11 days and the scope seemed a bit limited compared to what we've seen before.

I was hoping to have a look at World of Tanks too but the invite code I have for that expired long ago. Meh. I've enjoyed Blood Bowl, although it has a habit of doing things like have your guys fail to pick up the ball on every turn of an 8 turn half, only for the enemies to pick it up on the first attempt.

Kerbal Space Program is due another look too because it just got updated.

There's one field of rocketry which we've never attempted, the Single Stage To Orbit. This is where you have a true spaceplane which can achieve a true orbit without dropping anything off. The retired space shuttle doesn't count there because it has separate boosters and a separate fuel tank which need to come off before it can come back. We've looked at it, with lifting body prototypes like the X-33. But we've never been able to combine fuel, airframe and engine to make it viable. The Skylon concept is very promising there.

It's something I'd like to try in Kerbal Space Program, especially as I haven't built any planes in that yet. I'd also like to try flying without that cheaty autopilot mod and I'd like to take a rocket to one of the other planets.

I'm also getting closer to acquiring another laptop ... I'm not buying yet because there doesn't seem anything out there that meets the requirements at a suitable price. But one of the Dell Inspiron 15 R SE laptops looks very curious :

Good - it's about the right size, has enough memory and has a 1080p screen.
Bad - £530 is above what I want to pay.

And I don't know enough about Dell consumer laptops to say whether it would still work after 6 months or if I'd have another HP piece of awfulness on my hands. (And I do believe work is changing from reliable Dell machines to HP - uhoh). HP used to be very good, my first printer and first laptop were rock solid. But then a politician got in charge and ... my next printer broke early and my second laptop was dying inside 6 months. On the other hand, Acer have been very reliable. We've had two failures : a terminal software breakage on my dad's (which we could have repaired by taking it back to factory restore) and a power socket failure on my mum's netbook.

That's something else I'll look at in Bristol, laptop selling people. But I think the laptop is on hold for  another few months until the next generation comes through. I suspect the time to buy was a month or so ago.

I'll close out there.

I'm a bit better than I was last week. I've had some sleep (although not much over the last couple of days) and the leaks are closing up quicker. The week seems to be flashing by actually. Oh - I've been listening to lots of music too.

PS Also been avoiding wall to wall news coverage. Yep. It's good news and watching the Changing of the Guard yesterday had me fascinated but. Wall to wall fixation on a single story is unnecessary ... Understandable in some cases but not this one, I'd welcome it in the winter though when we're crying out for intel on whether the snow will stop us getting where we want to go and our news people consistently let us down there.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Still warrrrrm

Still very warm over here.

Started my summer break today :-) It's only a week, much more than that tends to leave me bored and eager to get back in to things.

I'm hoping to get some healing in this week. It's been delayed but the new shoes have conspired with the skin condition to have my ankles get damage ... And not wearing socks for a few days will give those patches a chance to recover without the disruption that socks cause.

And to be honest, these are days for staying indoors in the shade and not wearing much ... (apologies for any mental images you may have been inflicted with there !) :
(click for readability)

That's Metcheck's prediction for the next few days. Hot today, hot tomorrow, oppressive with chance of rain on Monday and potential light storm on Tuesday. When the weather does break, it's going to be spectacular ...

Heat does two things to air - it gives it energy plus it allows it to carry more moisture. What can happen is that hot air moves over the sea and draws up water vapour. Because it's hot, it can carry lots of water vapour. When that air moves over land, hills make it cool down and as it cools, it can hold less water vapour. If "Water vapour held" is more than "Potential held", it falls as rain. That's why you get hill fog.

But what causes the most spectacular stuff is where you have a body of hot, wet air hitting a cold front (the edge of a body of cold air). The hot air bounces up and over the cold air and cools as it rises.

The result ? Tall, dark nasty looking clouds with a high potential of thunder and lightning. All that energy has to go somewhere.

The real world result - time to hide for a couple of days while it's hot. It just so happens that :

Cricket is on the telly,
Open championship golf is playing on iPlayer on the desktop

Two big events. I'll not be too interested in the golf today (the important stuff happens tomorrow) but I'll listen because of that "story" thing you get in sport. In the cricket, Joe Root's in at the moment and I'm hoping he can answer the critics with a big score.

But ... Cricket + Golf = Recipe for sleep or eyeballs being torn out.

I have plenty of book in reserve.

PS None of those books are in meteorology, although I hope I remembered something from Geography lessons of 20 years ago !

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Meeeeelltinnnggg ...

Remember I had a mini whinge the other day about the heat ?

We're in the middle of a heat wave at the moment in Blighty. The temperatures aren't as say, Mediterranean or Middle East but we tend to suffer more here when the temperatures go outside the bounds of what we're used to.

Because we're not hot all the time, or freezing all the time, we have to design everything to both. Our bodies get used to both conditions too. One bit of craziness from the news was that homes upgraded with green grants to help insulate them in the winter are near uninhabitable now in the summer. They've gone so far towards being good for the winter that they're deadly in the summer.

This house doesn't really do well at either, it's cold in the winter and traps heat in the summer.

I could do something about the winter chill by getting double glazing but to be honest, it's not great for either summer or winter but both ends balance out. I have an issue where if I left my ground floor window open, I'd definitely get visitors of the feline variety. If I got double glazing, it would trap even more heat.

With regards the skin condition, it's both a good and a bad.

The worst patches don't appreciate anything touching them. So the hot weather is giving me a chance to indulge those bad patches without me getting too cold. (Don't try to picture it ! I wouldn't wish that image on anybody !). And the bad patches are, on the whole, gradually retreating.

The bad is when I have to go out in the heat. The sweat is damaging the half healed bits. That's why I'm really appreciating being allowed back in the car park, air con is good, 40 degrees C on the bus = nasty.

I do however, have an answer for that too. Be lazy ! Ok, lazy is probably not the right word, it's more like doing everything more slowly. Not charging around everywhere. Drinking plenty of fluids.

That's working a bit, although I have been limping around today because lack of fluids lead to cramp. Meh.

I'm not playing any cricket at the moment. There's been opportunities to play but the outside of my right knee is still too torn up to permit me using knee pads. The outside damage level is too high right now to risk it.

I'm looking forward to next week's skiving week :-) It's been a couple of months since I had a break so I've started flagging again. There's still a few fairly critical things I need to knock out though before I can clear off on Friday :

Updating and issuing an early draft of a comprehensive test plan (it's grown 20 pages to 110 since I started messing with it)
Updating one "how much we doing now" acceptance summary
And making another "how much is left" acceptance summary

We're getting to the end of the old project's first phase (end of an era!) and I'll be getting more involved in it again soon. We need to see just how much work is needed to be done though before it can be all signed off as Job Done.

And looking back on it, it can only be considered as (cue up da Wurzel accent) : Proper Job.

We've made some awesome bits of kit, with me trying to harvest all the good ideas from how we did it for the new project so it doesn't get forgotten. It's so far in the future that I'll either be running the whole programme or someone else will do the meaty bits I'm preparing them for now.

See ? I think my heat management is working :-) I've stayed a bit cooler and it's allowed my brain to go racing off and Do Useful Stuff.

I'm not expecting to do much next week, I'll make a start on cleaning the house up for one. To be honest, I don't Need to go anywhere next week (trip to Lexus garage is needed) but I'd come running if the right person/people asked. Always willing to lend a friendly ear for people who need to talk through stuff. Not going to buy a laptop just yet, it seems more and more like they're waiting for the new generation to come through.

Meeellltinggggg ... But managing :-).

Monday, July 15, 2013

That Inner Geek

Another one from the Facebook feed :

Made me laugh :-)

I've been indulging that Inner Geek a bit lately. Not as much as it could have done but still a little too much here lately ...

Aside - Oh my - the Ashes highlights from 2005 are on and they just showed one of the England players get hit on the head. Instant bad memory flash there ... This time it was a ball that bounced more than expected and the batsman pulled his head out of the way when he aborted the shot. The ball missed the helmet ... and hit him below his ear. Ouch. My memory is from when I got hit in the same area, except I didn't move my head so much (less time cos it was an edge).

It's the scary when the difference between marbles being rattled so much that the batsman didn't last long (England guy was out very soon after) and me being able to shake it off enough to bat through the remainder of the game isn't much of a difference. It was about 1 inch in this case. So if I'd been a bit better in my evasive move, I may have been knocked out instead of taking it on the helmet.

Scary ...

Back to the Geek !

I've done a few Kerbal programme posts lately ... I like doing those. It lets me remember the hilarity that comes from watching a rocket launch with trepidation and wondering how long the rocket will survive before it pancakes itself. But ... writing the text doesn't carry that through particularly well.

If you're interested in rockets, there's still a few hours of Kerbal Space Programme being on sale on Steam and I'd heartily recommend it. It's not finished and has a lot of holes in its physics engine but ... games are supposed to be fun and this one can be hilarious.

I don't think I'll be doing many more KSP picture posts - although tell me if you enjoyed them, give me a challenge or an idea for something to do in the game and I'll give it a crack. Feedback is good :-) I like doing the music posts too but I don't know how many people click the links to watch the videos.

Talking of music - next up on the iTunes is ... Wurzels ! Seriously ! And then some Edie Brickell (Volcano) as the next album tomorrow night.

Today was a good day. And I think I've found something I have to avoid for a while :

Minstrels !!! NOOOO !!!!! Minstrels are life for early morning driving sessions (even when you forget the pack you bought for the drive - doh). But after having a couple of packets last week, my knees and some other bits flared up again. Oops. I suspect the carnuba wax shells as that shares a commonality with Pick N Mix.

Yep. Flared up followed by steady improvement. Condition's been "not bad" today. I've had a couple of bad bits but the visible bad spots have been under control. And that does good things for the confidence.

What else does wonders for the confidence ?

People giving you a wanted feeling. Definitely got that from this afternoon's meeting. The old project is struggling really badly now to get the people it needs to finish the job. It's nearly all done for the delivery step and is mostly in support now. But there's still some work needed to finish off the delivery.

And the people looking after delivery seem to want me around. It's a good feeling, although the pressure is there to justify that trust. Oh and at the same time I'm harvesting processy type knowledge to help out the new project.

Last bit - Pacific Rim = awesome.

It's the best Big Robot Movie this year. What's that ? It's the only big robot movie this year ? Might be true. That doesn't stop it being pretty awesome. Definitely enjoyed it.

PS I lied about the last bit - wanna give a wave to a special little lady, I'd have let you know about Pacific Rim but didn't know if it was your type of film ...
PS2 If there's one music video link you click on from here, make it this one. Classic !

Friday, July 12, 2013

Fauxrianne 6 part 2 ...

After having another Kerbal Space Fail with the first attempt, I just had to give this one another go.

The rocket was pretty much as before, although the bottom end may have had minor differences (didn't save the first - oops)

Launch !
Going up nice and stable. Too stable ?

Fast forwarding a bit, this is where I think I have enough height to escape the atmosphere, so it's time to take stock and set up the orbit. The blue line is the projected path, with the "Ap" showing what the highest point would be. The idea is to time the maneouvre around that highest point, because that's when it's most efficient. The yellow dotty line is the projection after making the manoeuvre.
And during the manoeuvre. The idea is to aim for the blue symbol in the nav ball. It takes a lot of effort to make an orbit though, that 1668m/s is approaching 1/2 of the fuel tank.

And into orbit :
Ok. Still a bit wonky orbit but nonetheless, it's a valid orbit that doesn't touch the atmosphere but the highest point was about 280,000km. Oops. Not circular as intended. Quite eccentric indeed.

I still had about a third of a tank of fuel left after getting the orbit, so there would have been potential for adjusting that orbit. But ... I need Jebediah for the next mission, so it was time to bring him home.
Hark at him looking at that sunrise. He's loving it.

Anyway. Jebediah, home safe and waiting for the next one. And I got it done during teatime in the cricket (well, teatime plus a bit).

PS Steam Summer Sale started yesterday. My credit card wants to hide.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Fauxrianne 6

I'll often read the astronomy and rocket related stories that hit the news and this one about Arianne 6 was no exception. (Register Link)

Arianne 5's a good, powerful rocket but costs a bit too much per launch to compete with the new pretenders coming in from the private market. Arianne 6 is less ambitious in terms of what it can carry but should be much cheaper. That's because it's using solid rockets more than liquid rockets.

Too much tech already !

Solid = cheap & simple
Liquid = higher power but more complex and expensive

So while Arianne 5 did its stuff with a solid first stage with the second and third being liquid, Arianne 6 will do it by having solid first and second stages with the third being liquid.

My instant thought ? Gotta try this in Kerbal Space Program. I bet there's tonnes of Fauxrianne 6 videos coming right now ... I thought about seeing if I could prep one but to be honest, it's too darn hot right now to investigate all I'd need to do to set up recording and investigate publishing one for the first time.

Gratuitous hangar shot :
Yes. It looks like a certain appendage again. Rockets have a habit of doing that. Give thanks that I put the side boosters on front to back on that shadow instead of right to left.

The box at the top is Kerbal Engineer which tells you how fast and how far your rocket is likely to go. You need a Thrust to Weight ratio of above 1, or the rocket doesn't get off the ground. 2.6 and 2.4 for the first stages looked promising.

What's the staging ?
1st stage - 3x solid BACC boosters
2nd stage - 1x solid BACC booster
3rd stage - the thinner fuel tank plus the nuclear engine
(chosen because it's the same diameter as the boosters)
Oh and a parachute at the top.

Launch time - early stages ? Promising :
Decent speed at a low height and it was going straight up.

But wait ... this is Kerbal Space Program :
Something went horribly wrong. The rocket was too heavy and was slowing down (possibly because of a decoupler being in the way) and was sliding out of control ... Oops. Once a solid rocket is lit, it's max power all the way baby. No stopping it once it's sparking.

I actually got it under control again but had to junk that rogue second stage :
And under control at an acceptable speed again :
I didn't think there was much point in continuing from here, the nuclear engine goes forever but isn't too powerful. I may have been able to get the rocket out of the atmosphere but probably not into orbit. So it's over to the last stage which is the parachute :
I hope the first flight of Arianne 6 goes much better than my first flight with Fauxrianne 6 !!!

And look at Jebediah in those screenies. Loving it all the way up, all the way sideways, all the way down and that definitely looks like a dreaming of next time "ahhhh" in the last one.

PS Click screenies for bigger, they will hopefully give 1080p goodness with a big enough window :-)

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Quality reporting

There's a few constants in this world :

Massive complaining when it's cold,
Bad driving in Bristol,
Massive complaining when it's warm,
And shockingly bad reporting from the news agencies.

If you ever find yourself believing anything the news people say, remember this pic :
Yep. I'm raiding Facebook again.

Oh and women aren't just people too, they're their own special brand of awesome. And I'm including the (possible Russian honeypot hunter) young lady who was part of a pack of UWE people heading into Sainsburys. Why the mention ? Well, she spotted me before crossing the road bits into Sainsburys, the eyes caught and I got a "Hi" and a wave on her way past.

Me being in disbelief of course for getting attention from a pretty young lady.

It's highly unlikely that I'll see this particular pretty young lady again but it put a huge smile on my face as I was on the bus on the way back. Coulda been the hat actually. After feeling my brains baking yesterday under my dark green hat, today was day 1 of the Ashes hat :
I like my hats. They hide my hair, which misbehaves literally at the drop of a errrm ... hat.

Back on topic back on topic !

Yeah. Our news people aren't that interested in telling the truth. What makes it worse is that if they don't know something, the "expert" correspondents will just make something up. I occasionally see stuff on the news that's directly related to the field I work in. And I'll often get the urge to throw something at the telly because of how wrong they get it. I've seen the expert guessing thing a few times. It's not just lies, it can be very dangerous lies.

Remember with the news that they're interested in their bottom line. The cash. The circulation. And sometimes the best way to do that is to make news. Like finding something with a bit of controversy and pulling at just the right thread to get the most attention.

I'm going into a bit of dark place there though, so :

Three cheers for Virginia Wade ! Our last winner at Wimbledon and unlike the other, within living memory for me at least. Although I didn't know much about it seeing as I was 2 years old at the time.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Girl ? Friday

Spotted this earlier :

Made me chuckle.

It's been an awkward Monday today. It didn't start too well cos ... you guessed it, I was washing those metaphorical cats again. Oops.

And the heat ! We're more hardened to the cold over here and we don't adjust at all well when the heat lamp in the sky gets turned on. And it's been really hot today, uncomfortably hot in the office. We have thermal strip thingys on the pillars in the office and some of them today were reading 29 degrees C inside. That's not healthy ...

I dunno how much water I drank today (lots!) but I don't think I quite drank enough.

Talk about Friday ... I'm dreaming about Thursday !

The place I'm visiting has far better conditions inside than our offices plus ... no bus. I get to sit in my car for a lot of the day basking in the air con. On the other hand, our buses are built for the winter. They have 2 slit windows near the front for ventilation, that's it. It was quite possibly 35 degrees plus in there. Possibly more. My pooter is saying the cpu and graphics are at 38 degrees C at idle (which is probably around room temp) and it felt warmer on that bus.

Meh. Enough with the complaining !

Yep. Thursday should be good. And now today's out the way, only 9 more working days until I can get some R&R annual leave in. Hopefully I can heal up some more. Some bits of me are completely fixed (no more Zombie Patches on my face), some are getting there. But I may need to see the doctor again to see what can be done about the holdouts.

You've probably been wondering where the subject heading comes from ?

I'm a big fan of Robert Heinlein novels. The guy was capable of novels of stunningly brilliant quality (although there are bad ones in there too like Farnham's Freehold) and one of them was called Friday. This book had everything. Everything ! And this was just the first couple of chapters. The rest of the book examined what it meant for the lead character, Friday, to be an artificial person living in a world hostile to the thought of that. And it's a tough book for our heroine too.

And ... ~wibble~ Isa Guha is interviewing someone in the cricket. She's an Ashes winner, she knows what she's talking about.

Yeah - Friday. Best day of the week, even with it being a teacake free day in the canteen. And one hell of a book too. Not the first Heinlein book I'd recommend someone read (Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, Starship Troopers first) but it's definitely one of the good ones.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Sporty days (not all about sport though)

Sport's dominating at the moment :-)

We've had the conclusion of Wimblydon, a couple of Grand Prix, Le Mans 24 hours a couple of weeks ago and we're rushing headlong into another Ashes campaign. Plus a Lions rugby tour down under. (I follow Six Nations rugby but Lions tours seem a bit artificial somehow)

Oh ! I have some time off coming soon too ! It'll be in a couple of weeks and hopefully the heat will be more manageable by them. Don't get me wrong, I like a bit of sun. (And it's weird having to shade the eyes in the shower!) But I overheat very easily.

Sun = good. Heat = bad. Global warming ? Yeah, I think they're right there but I don't think the temperature will get appreciably hotter, I think instead the Earth will adjust by turning that warming into energy that drives the atmosphere more and we're seeing that in the more intense storms we're getting.

Doh. That was a bit of an aside wasn't it. See ? I do pay attention to the world sometimes !

Although I'm more concerned with a few of the people in it than I am of the world itself. Yep. Got my eye on a few of you and I hope you'll be ok.

Anyway - sporty stuff. I watch a lot of sport. But I also apply a lot of quality control to what I select for watching. Like avoiding the Lions rugby. I don't watch all cricket, I'm selective. Like there's a West Indies game on at the moment, I'm not interested in that.

Another aside (based on what's on the news right now). Charles Saatchi is a crazy man. To mistreat (allegedly!) and give up someone as beautiful and with the character of Nigella Lawson ? Nuts. I don't watch her shows much but when I do, I'm entranced by one of the hottest people on telly.

(I think this post qualifies for the scattergun label now, don't you ?)

Yet another aside - news is showing the Boeing 777 crash story. Comments - it's a credit to whatever worked right that only two have died (may it stay as two!) but you have to ask questions of "how ?". My first thought was that it was another sign of why the Dreamliner shouldn't be flying but I'm wrong there, 777 is not the ill fated Dreamliner.

Back to topic - motor racing. This is very much a mixed bag to be honest.

The Le Mans 24 hour is interesting due to its uniqueness. Here we have 200mph cars racing solid for a full 24 hours. It's an incredible event. But to watch it for the full 24 hours ? I wouldn't wish that on anyone ! I did enjoy watching the selection of it that I did watch though.

Grand Prix racing is a curiosity too. It's better when we have our favourites doing well. I'm only 99% (ok, less than that) keen on it right now because the McLarens are struggling. I like the Brits to do well in all sport I watch. Formula 1 is only interesting because of the incidents that are happening right now. The actual racing isn't great. Some tracks are better than others. Some tracks are less interesting than watching paint dry. Like the Nurburgring today, Monaco from a while ago and soon Hungary.

Oh it's also interesting for Suzi Perry. Did I mention that going gaga about ladies with long dark hair thing ? (see above ref Nigella Lawson). Highlights are a good way around the dead time but I feel more connected with sporty stuff when I see the whole thing. There's a kind of story to the game or race that you don't get with highlights.

Oh but what was exciting - tennis.

I exercise the quality control here too. It's very easy to get burned out on a sport. Especially if it's as repetitive as baseball (sorry baseball fans it doesn't have the "ball can go anywhere" of cricket) or tennis.

But we did have 2 incredible games over the weekend. I wasn't sure who to support in the ladies final but when hearing there was someone with strange habits and who falls asleep at random times, yep. That's the one I'm supporting. And she's the one who won too. No such issues with wondering who to support in the men's final.

Well done Ms Bartoli and Mr Murray ! Thoroughly enjoyed those games.

Back to work tomorrow, although I'll be looking forward to the Ashes starting on Wednesday and you can bet the commentary will be on in the car on Thursday afternoon when I'll be driving back.

How's my own cricket coming on ? Haven't played for a while. That's partly been down to lack of opportunity (rain, empty teams, full teams) but there's am outside chance of a game on Thursday. Wait - I said I was travelling ... There's a chance I'd be back in time but I've told both captains it's a "play if I get there in time". I wouldn't want to play to be honest as there's zero chance I'd be able to prepare myself.

Physically, I could play. But that's me refusing to acknowledge why I shouldn't as per usual. My skin is much improved, although my arms still look like I've been washing cats. My legs are super improved, they're still damaged but that damage is repairing itself. The reason my arms are still bad is because my discipline has been weak and I've been "helping" them too much.

I can ignore the damage to my arms though, enough to play at least. What I can't ignore is the damage to my hip, there's damage inside and outside. It's an old groin injury that's been aggravated by reinjuring it a couple of years ago, plus it hasn't appreciated the sitting on floor that I've been obliged to do because of treating the skin condition.

So yeah - improving. Looking forward to the Ashes. Definitely looking forward to that time off to chill out.

Oh and hugely looking forward to the promise of cakes that came with a certain very special person's Facebook post from Friday :-).

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Long days, good days

And I'm now looking forward to a few days of chilling out (after work finishes tomorrow of course!)

Wednesday saw the craziemob heading off to see Despicable Me 2. If you've not seen the first Despicable Me yet, you've missed out. It's a very funny, if rather silly, movie. Despicable Me 2 is more of the same but better in pretty much every way. I think one reason is because all of the character introduction was in the first movie.

More minions !
There's been a couple of really good movies this year. I'd rate Oblivion and Star Trek Into Darkness incredibly highly. Highly enough that I'll be looking to buy the blurays early. I may preorder Despicable Me 2. It's that good.

My movie of the year so far.

Don't tell anyone (bad for my image) but I had tears in my eyes by the end. Tears of laughter. In fact, it was so good, I'd happily see it again if the right person asked.

So for today.

Today was a travelling day ... meetings down in Portsmouth. I don't mind the travelling. It's not so much the meetings you go to, more the business you can do around the meetings. Being personally present is much better than conversing over email or messenger. Purely text methods (even the phone) don't allow you to see what's going on behind the words. I can convey honesty much better in person than on messages.

And when you don't have much to tell, then it's good to have a method of conveying that as honestly as you can.

Oh and it also lets me talk about stuff off the record. Emails have a habit of travelling further than you intended them to. But enough about that. Today's side business (yesterday's was the infrastructure guy) was talking to the support lady.

Support is a massive deal where I am. Or it should be ... For most major organisations, it's not the cost to buy which is most significant. Sure, it's big but it's not nearly as big as the whole life support cost. We try to keep the support cost down where I can. You can easily put too much attention into the "buy" and end up with something that costs silly money to run. Whereas, if you'd paid attention to the "support", you could save enough to let you have better shinies (upgrades!!!!) later.

So keeping the support lady on side is very important. It does help that she's : highly intelligent, very cute and in possession of long dark hair. You know, the type I go gaga about. Seriously though, when we do the bits and pieces that set up the support plans, this little lady will help turn it from best guess into something supremely polished with everything considered and nothing out of place.

I know someone else who does that and she also fits that type. There's a rare intelligence behind those twinkling eyes and I miss having the chance to natter or just see if I can get the boost that comes with seeing a smile light up that face. It's things like visiting one team, seeing someone who has switched to that team from the old team and wishing you had the excuse to visit the old team where this lady works.

Where was I ? Working relationships are very important. I like to work in the background. There's people who make a lot of noise about how they work. That sometimes has benefits, except when they flit from hot topic to next hot topic, without actually achieving anything except for annoying everyone. Unlike today and yesterday where I quietly give the important people a personal update to let them know why I've been quiet. And in return, I'll get Stuff from them that'll help my work no end. There's still a few more people I need to chat to though. Maybe next week.

Today's long day was finished off with a trip to Lexus in Cheltenham, where they were having a launch party for the new IS300h.

Opinion ? Very shiny. My CT beats all the cars my family's owned, which includes things like Granada Ghia's, Senators, Mercs and a few more decent marques as well as those. And the new IS is better again than the CT. It's got some seriously shiny bits to it and it'll be very tempting to switch to one.

But not just yet. Cos of a moratorium on pay rises, I'm going to be looking for a payment holiday from car loans so Plan A is that my CT is with me for at least 5 years.

So the next car is for another time.

For now - instead of cars, I'll be thinking of a real someone and hoping that she comes through her current trials and tribulations with the same carefree joyous spirit that made her the heart of my last team.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Not buying laptops

Buying other things !

I had to get petrol in the car ahead of doing a trip on Thursday (52.6mpg on the last fill up !) so off I toddle to the Mall. Ostensensibly, to do more research for laptop buying but mostly because I wanted to take advantage of light traffic, low pain levels and skin that's actually fairly intact today.

Yep. I'm going to buy a new laptop sooner or later. The one I have at the moment struggles a bit too much with playing HD quality video, which wouldn't be a problem if the on-demand video players gave the option to play in lower quality. So to avoid me having to hide behind the sofa (where the TV remote doesn't have the reach to allow advert skipping), I'm looking at replacing that laptop.

There's a few must haves with it :

Resolution of at least 900 lines. I like having lots of stuff on my screens and the normal 15.6" resolution of 1368x768 is too small. No point in having a laptop with the grunt to play HD video if it doesn't have the display to play HD video. Oh and it also puts more lines in the iTunes window.

Intel processor. AMD and Intel are still relatively similar in terms of performance but AMD do it by pushing the boundaries. Intel chips run cooler, so you can push them harder for longer. My house is quite warm right now which means the cpu in my desktop is running at 62 degrees C at full load with the fan turned down a little. My previous AMD powered machine would need the fan running at full speed (with noticeable noise) and would be 10 degrees hotter in colder conditions. I'd actually shut down the SETI BOINC stuff over the summer so it wouldn't cook.

And an Acer machine because we've had a long history with Acer laptops and they've done us well.

Oh and I don't want to spend a ridiculous amount of cash on it too. I don't need an ultrathin laptop and would probably knock one over and break it.

The other requirements are fairly loose :
15.6" at least, 17" preferred
At least 6GB RAM
SSD hard disc (preferably as a second drive)
Windows 7 instead of 8
These are all optional to be honest, although 4GB is an absolute minimum.

To be honest, I think I'm going to give up looking for a little while. I reckon I've waited just a bit too long to get one of the remaining Windows 7 laptops. I'd be curious about getting a clean laptop and putting Ubuntu Linux on it but would need assurance that iTunes 10.7 (iTunes 11 is getting nowhere near my machines - spit) would run on it.

There's a new Intel chip (Haswell 4th generation) coming soon too, which is a) causing a lull in what's being sold and b) will shake up the market when it arrives.

So what did I buy apart from petrol ?
Sorry. Had to be done.

Oh and a few more bits and pieces showed up :
Tintin's original adventures on dvd (because the bluray is overpriced and has the soundtrack type which will drive me mental with silent blips)
Legend (Tom Cruise and Mia Sara adventure)
Jurassic Park trilogy

That should keep me amused for a while. If it weren't T20 season on telly :-) That's it for today.

Enjoy your evenings !