Saturday, October 31, 2015


I mentioned writing the other day didn't I ?
I feel there's a novel or few in me wanting to get out. Tomorrow sees the start of NaNoWriMo month or National Novel Writing Month. It's a challenge to write a 50,000 odd word novel inside a month. I have it on that list as something I want to do someday.

I have 2 modes of writing that I do normally. The first is this blog. I try for a conversational style, where I attempt to make each post a conversation between me as the writer and you as the reader. I try and anticipate the questions that you're asking as you read and to provide answers. I attempt to keep you engaged in the post, so you come back for the next one.

I hope I do ok in that, although I don't get much feedback on what I write. What feedback I do get is hugely appreciated. Whether it's a like on the Facebook, a chat about what I've written or a "Good post" "Great post" from some very lovely people. The April Fool post got a lot of chuckles when I showed it around the office.

The other form of writing is quite different. It's the report writing I'll do at work. This writing is far more formal and structured. It's Formal English far more than Conversational English. But at its heart again, I have to keep the reader engaged and I have to ensure they keep up with what I'm talking about. That means not diving immediately into the detail. It means warming up the audience before hitting them over the head with something very heavy.

Yep. Death By Powerpoint.

But yeah, I see too often where senior people have forgotten how to brief what they know to others who's buy in they need. I have a saying I live by : "If you cannot explain something in the simplest possible language, you do not truly understand it". Buzzwords are bad and turn off people's attention.

The key thing is knowing what level to talk at.

I read so many books and the better science fiction books share one major narrative theme. They will have a character central to the plot which will have very little idea of what's going on. Iain M Banks (RIP you are missed) did this multiple times in his Culture novels, where a non Culture person took up that position of reverse narrator. The character would have the situation explained to them and in doing so, the author was explaining to the reader what was going on.

Other authors like Terry Pratchett would refer to what you know of this world to make comment and humour in their writing.

That gets me back round to NaNoWriMo.

I'm not going to take part in it this month, I don't have a coherent enough idea of a novel which I would want to write. I have several ideas for a core theme of a book but here's what I think of them :

Post apocalyptic Earth - interesting but it's done loads. How can I make mine believable and different ?
Space scifi - this is the story I want to write. But ... how to make it interesting ? I think it would follow what I've been doing in Elite but ... that's a cathartic activity for me and I don't think anyone looking in on it would be interested.
Magic fantasy world.

And a couple of other themes. How come I don't think the space stuff would be interesting ? Firefly was a fantastic series and I think I would follow that analogue. Or there's the legendary Blakes 7, where they are fighting a guerilla war of survival against a despotic galactic Federation. Dark Matter is an interesting world developing, where the galactic situation is dominated by corporations rather than a government.

But that's other people's stories. Mine should be uniquely me and in a style that I think other people would read. And then come back to read later.

I've just finished reading Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke. He's an author who writes stories that could be quite interesting. Science that gets your attention. Drama that should hold the attention. However ... his lecturing style gets in the way of keeping you focused on the story. Other authors lose your focus in other ways, by having very complicated things going on which you can't keep up with.

That's where keeping it simple is a really good lesson to remember. I'm watching Doctor Who at the moment, there's a huge amount of backstory for that but the key to it is The Doctor, his companion and the TARDIS. And a bit of magic too. Star Trek was about the ship and the crew. Firefly was another ship and the crew with lots of magic coming in from the crime and misbehaving.

I think there are stories in me that are the equal or better of some I've read. But there is that factor of having a cracking beginning, a middle that holds your interest and an end that comes at the perfect time in the story. A lot of stories I read lose you in the middle or misjudge the ending. The conclusion is either rushed or it drags out too much.

Yep. No NaNoWriMo entry for me this year, although I am very curious to know what would happen if I started writing. Where would the story take me ? Would be it readable ? Could I end up being a JK ? Ha. Not likely. But I think I'd be better than even a legend like Arthur C. Clarke because I hope I'd hold the interest of the readers more than his books have done with me.

I need to read more to get more ideas. And not just fiction ! That post apocalyptic scenario idea has a protagonist and friends living on a boat, which would end up being just another character. That boat would translate across into a space situation as well. Just need to avoid getting lost in the details.

Because it should be about the story and the characters that live in that story.

I'll have a try at it someday, although as a wise little person once said "Do ... or do not. There is no try."

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Techie Hunting (and ... not Writing)

Thought I'd add a bit more about the techie hunting stuff today. But it won't all be about that. (Ed - ok, it was, will talk about writing things tomorrow maybe!)
It's coming near sales season which means bargains to take advantage of. I know some of you reading this will be looking to replace old techie stuff with shinier, faster, newer techie stuff. So what kind of thought process do I go through when I'm looking at things like keyboards, screens or laptops ?

Let's start with laptops because they cover the lot.

First up - ignore anything the shop points you at like Sort By Relevance, Sort By Bestseller. These are metrics invented by the shops to support them selling you the stuff that they want to sell, not what you want to buy. This is very important. You want to come away with something you will be happy with for years after. The shop is interested in throughput. If an item is clogging up the storeroom because no one wants to buy it, those will be the items that draw the biggest discounts. Try to avoid being seduced by the massive discounts, target instead what you want to buy.

I'll add there that it is worth looking out for the big end of line discounts that clear the stock room. I'm hugely happy with the router I bought a few months ago, it has been perfect so far and I don't have to do the unplug/plug in with my audio stuff I had to do before. That was an end of line item in Argos, a £90 router for £43. It just happened to be what I was looking for. If you can find those kinds of bargains, that's awesome.

For all you buy, remember that it is your money and you are duty bound to spend as little of it as possible to achieve your objective : getting something shiny that you'll be happy with for years.

Ok - laptops. What have I been looking at when scouting ?

Definitely not the spec, although I'll come back to that later because it is still important. But not critical because the specs on offer will be fairly indistinguishable between the competition at the various price points.

Will it last ? A couple of laptops ago, I had an HP laptop. I bought that partly because the HP laptop it was replacing was bombproof. It took a lot of punishment. And there was a massive discount on the new one ... (see above for warning ...).

Look out for build quality. That terrible HP laptop had bad alignment on the case, where the case was distorted. This is a massive warning sign that it has been built very cheaply. That's important because computers benefit from being built well. See later. Anyway, that HP started dying on 6 months because it ate something which slowly destroyed the processor fan. It finally carked it after just under a year and ... PC World had nerfed the Sales of Goods Act warranty down to 6 months. Naughty.

Will the trackpad hold together under continued use ? Will the keys fall off ? One reason I retired my first laptop is because the keys were breaking as well as the trackpad buttons.

Most important !!! How will you be interacting with it ? That'd be the keyboard and the trackpad. Look out for odd layouts, like my Macbook Air is missing the number pad but that's ok because it means the keys can be full size. If they'd added a number pad, it would have been awkward to type with. Tap out a few sentences on the keyboard, see how it feels. Does the activation travel and maximum travel fit with what you get on with ? I usually type something with lots of different letters. Here's an example from when I tried a nasty one :

"I am trying out this keyboard to see what it feels like and HOLY CARP IT IS NASTY".

Yep. Use caps too. Use that keyboard like you mean to type out an essay on it. Or is that just me with Wall of Text blog posts. Or if you're another way inclined and want to use it for games, look for robustness again. Backlights are handy too, I miss that on my new desktop keyboard. If you are buying a separate keyboard, check the features. This one does me very well because ... it's just a keyboard. It doesn't have the faffery that gaming keyboards have, which make it wider. This means I can plonk keyboard and flightstick on my desk side by side. Couldn't do that with a wider one ...

Trackpad - see how you get on with this as well. Where are the activation zones for clicks. One complaint with the new HP laptops was that left click was in the middle, I'm used to using bottom left of the pad for that. I would find that frustrating quickly. Also check out activation pressure and consistency. Do a few operations, including multitouch, to see how you find it. Me ? I was going through the operations to get to Display Advanced Settings, to find out the native screen resolution. There were enough operations there to check out clickiness as well as multitouch.

My last laptop was a big Acer Labs Aspire. I actually turned off multitouch on that because it basically just didn't work and got in the way. But it's a wonderful thing on a Macbook Air. But you are paying for that quality.

Screen ? I didn't think to check this on Monday but check the bezel. Is the screen recessed into a bezel or is it flush fitting like on a tablet or phone ? If it's recessed, you know where the dirt is going to go and you know how difficult it is to get out. Oh and I don't think touchscreens are a good way to go. Think fingerprints ...

I don't think I can put off talking specs for any longer ... Note that all the above is all physical stuff. The keyboard, trackpad and build quality will never be listed on the spec summary they give with the price tag. Yet these are the most important things to consider with things like laptops. If you aren't comfortable using it, then it's not the laptop for you.

Now for natter about the specs ...
I bet a lot of people share that thought when they look at the specs. Here be dragons. And not of the cute variety ...

Processor - go Intel. Avoid AMD. Intel chips run cooler. This means the machine won't overheat when you ask it to do something strenuous. My Acer with its AMD chip couldn't keep up playing videos because it would quickly cut its speed back so as to not cook itself. Cue jumpy, low res videos. I had a reasonably performing laptop, except when I wanted to use the performance. And then the performance would be taken away.

Processor number jargon gibberish. The better Intel chips have an i number and a generation tag. This desktop is an i5-2500K. The i5 means it's middle of the range. Avoid i7 because you don't get much value out of the extra money. The 2 in the 2500 means it is a 2nd generation Intel Core chip. My Macbook runs off an i5-4250U. The 4 means it is 4th generation. This is a VERY good thing for a laptop, try to avoid laptops of 3000 series and before. The 4 series is codenamed Haswell and Haswell laptops have literally double the battery life of the earlier chips. We're now seeing 6th generation Skylake processors appear. Ask Google what the processor code means, that U in the 4250U means it's a laptop chip that gives better battery life. The 2500K is an enthusiasts desktop chip.

Memory and storage - 3GB is enough for Windows 7 but it's the minimum. With the drive, if you have a choice between a 250GB (ish) Solid State Device machine and a 1TB conventional machine, choose the 250GB one. EVERY TIME. SSD machines are so much faster and smoother, the drive is the major limiting factor in performance. And you can always add in an external drive if you want to store loads of movies or other things like that.

That said ... gaming ... This takes a lot of space on a machine. But I wouldn't want to do any serious gaming on a laptop. It's a bit cruel on the laptop. And they're not really set up for gaming either, the screens are a bit small and at a bad angle.

But gaming does point to another bit of hardware - graphics. Unless you have any interest in playing fast moving graphics games on a laptop, avoid dedicated graphics ... like the plague. It's a detractor. The graphics hardware takes up valuable battery life and you won't get much benefit from it. For ordinary stuff, including watching videos, the graphics hardware in modern processors is just fine. That said, pushing the cricket from the internet to the telly is just about the limit of what my Macbook Air seems happy to handle.

I think I'm nearing my limit for what I should post here ... Time to sum up ? Look at :

Robustness - will it fall to bits
Keyboard and trackpad - can you work it ? Will it cause aggravation ?
Screen - is it clear, cleanable and consistent ? Can it keep up with rapid movement ?
Performance - is it smooth, responsive and how does it handle getting busy.
(might be tough to test in a shop unless you can stream 1080p video)
Meet the need - stick to a limit, don't go beyond that. I didn't need the extra processor and graphics performance of a Macbook Pro, so I saved the money.

And one last bit to close on - Research. Check out what you're going to buy before you buy it. I wouldn't necessarily buy from Amazon but their review area is chock full of what real people say about stuff. And I don't believe Amazon curate out the bad reviews ... Also ask Google questions. If you see a specification that you don't understand like "why is that IPS screen more money for the same size?", ask Google. You'll hopefully get answers that support the "Is it worth it ?" question.

It's your cash - be careful how you spend it !

Monday, October 26, 2015

Is Tired

An honest tired though.

First day back at work today after the week off and I found myself throwing myself back into it.
I think I'm mostly caught up with what's going on now, although there's more to do to get caught up with the situation, gotta get the work done as well as know what work there is to do.

But that said, I have a clearer picture now of some stuff we're doing than I had before. Now we need to implement it ... Normally we buy small numbers of Very Big Things. However, one of the projects I'm involved in is going to be buying a collection of Little Things. They all need to work together, so instead of doing what we did before - a requirements document to cover everything that then goes off to the contractor, we need to do something different. That requirements document will still be there, we'll own that and it'll be the picture of Everything. But the stuff that goes to contractors will be jigsaw puzzle pieces. We just need to make sure all the pieces make up the picture of Everything. No gaps and all fitting together nicely.

And that's just one thing to catch up with at work.

Tired now though. But that's because I wanted to be out of the house for a little bit longer and I had a bit of possible buying and definitely techie research to do. And then there's the peek in HMV for Stuff.

Stuff first - I rather liked the Laura Marling album I bought the other week and if I end up spending money in HMV soon, I'll get some more of her albums. There's another album going for £3. Oo eck - I better get the Amazon wish list updated before birthday time ... I'm also looking for blurays with San Andreas, Tomorrowland and Jurassic World being on my target list for stuff out recently.

They also have a full bluray set of James Bond films for £40 ... interesting. I have a very few Bond films on dvd (Goldeneye, Casino Royale, Tomorrow Never Dies and that one with the gorgeous Sophie Marceau which I should walk across the room to check its name instead of relying on a bad memory) (It's The World Is Not Enough). Pierce Brosnan was a pretty decent Bond, let down by some very ropey scripts. Daniel Craig is an excellent Bond supported by some fantastic scripts. Definitely looking forward to watching Spectre.

Yep. Stuff is wanted but I'm going to wait until it's cheaper.

Other stuff ? Techie research !

The parents are on the hunt for another laptop, which means I'm scouting stuff to see what's worth buying. Personally, I think the techie market is a great big AVOID right now. The hardware is the best it's ever been if implemented well but the software has gone massively downhill. Windows 7 is just about acceptable, although it does far too much. Windows 8/8.1 is garbage, Windows 10 feels slightly better from what I've seen in the shop but an Operating System should MOST CERTAINLY NOT be spying on you. It should be serving the user, not the writer of the software. If it is doing anything other than serving the user, it is not being as efficient as it should be.

And Windows has always been a security mess since they abandoned the heady enlightened days of the microkernel.
(Malwarebytes Anti Malware aka MBAM is a godsend).
MacOS X is just hanging in there as the better system to use, however its sponsors Apple have forgotten that they should be making software for the users. I'm unimpressed with what I hear about reliability issues when putting newer software into older Mac hardware. Like OSX updates and firmware updates that have bricked machines. The software on my Macbook Air is very close to Day 1 versions and I'm quite happy with that. The vulnerable software (Firefox browser) is updated, the stuff that Just Works is kept ... just working. I think the current or last (Yosemite) version of OS X is the one to stick at.

Apple have been outstanding but I do disagree with their belief that they are god.

If I need to change my own PC hardware, I'm highly likely to go back to something Linux based. That's a tough choice because you lose compatibility. But you do regain control of how the system looks and behaves. I'd need to have a good run with it before recommending it to people less familiar with techie stuff. That's a choice that's hopefully a few years off, the core of this machine is still going strong.

The graphics card is slowly dying though. Since the weather turned cold here, I've turned my PC into a heater again.

An electric heater will make a room warm by wasting energy. How about if you put that energy to good use instead of wasting it ? I've turned on the BOINC application for the desktop again. It's a program that takes all that unused processor time and puts it to good use. At the moment, this computer is running 1 instance of Rosetta (medical research), Pogs (science) and 2x Asteroids (sky search). And it's doing that without impacting at all on me doing Stuff.

(That said, it would be doing Seti alien hunting research but I turn that off when doing Stuff because it can interfere).

So having the computer doing BOINC research when I'm not gaming will keep the house warm just as well as an electric heater, plus it's Being Useful.

But ... I also used to run Milkyway@Home on it (more astronomy science) but that hasn't gone too well. All results are coming back invalid ... I suspect that's due to my dying graphics card but it could also be bad software. I've updated BOINC since I ran it before and that may have caused problems. That graphics card does have problems though. Massive texture corruption in Endless Legend (must have a look at that again) plus the dots that run rampant over the screen.

I may be changing back to AMD/ATI ... I've had a couple of nVidia cards (currently using a 760) but they're another company that push bad software on to unsuspecting users. I'll routinely run a version or two behind due to knowing their bleeding edge software has problems.

Yep. Brave choice is a R9 380, coward's choice is a nVidia 960. Both are about £150 which I don't really want to spend at the moment. The card I have has problems ... but it still puts Internet Spaceships on the screen.

Which is enough for now. There's a couple more games coming soon (No Mans Sky and Deus Ex Mankind Divided) which may need more power.

Enough techie talk ! Oh wait - laptop. I was going to recommend a HP laptop but ... really nasty touchpads on all of them. That's absolutely critical. Spec is irrelevant on a laptop, they're all pretty much the same there. If you're laptop hunting, only look and feel at 3 things : Screen, keyboard and trackpad. Those are the bits that make the difference. Everything else is largely irrelevant.

Haha ! There's my wisdom on laptops. Buy what you can interact with, it's what really swung it for me with the Macbook. Lovely keyboard, excellent trackpad, great user interface. Errrr ... but you pay for that and Apple have this idea that they control your machine.
And I wouldn't run that BOINC software on a laptop because ... hotness. Laptops aren't built for running full tilt 100% of the time.

Gosh - this is a long one. I feel better for the week off, although my knees currently hate me (they don't like the cold) and my body needs to wake itself up again. I'm pretty sure though that I made the right choice by ditching the antihistamines and the remaining bad spots are gradually healing.

Hurrah !

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Holiday musics

It's been ages since I did a music post !

Holiday time usually means listening to as much music as possible. Summer, not so much because the cricket is on and I'm listening to the commentary. Out of season though and it's all open season to listen to as much as possible.

(I need one of those in dwagon)

It's letting me catch up with stuff I've not listened to in over a year too. I have rules for lots of things (looking for rules to avoid making unnecessary decisions is something built into my personality). For the music, I'll switch between two playlists for picking out what albums come up next. I have an automatic playlist for "Longest Since Played", which has the 80 songs that are ... you guessed it. At the moment, those are going back to September last year ... Yep. Lots of music in the library to churn through and I love it all.

The other playlist is "Least Played", which lists those songs I haven't listened to much. That selects from the Z end of the alphabet first and it's picking up the J composers and artists that have only been listened to twice since I started using the Macbook for music. (That'd be almost 2 years). Only 3 days of music to listen to before that playlist gets to stuff only played 3 times. I do like variation in the music I listen to, although that does mean some of my favourite albums don't actually get much of a listen.

What's been playing ?

At the moment it's Gabrielle Aplin's new album, which is pretty good. I'll keep getting her stuff, she's got a pretty decent voice. I think it kinda submerges below the rest of the group in this album though, it's not quite as strong a voice album as English Rain.

Laura Marling's A Creature I Don't Know was a good pick up for £3. Don't Ask Me Why is one of a collection of lovely songs on this album. I'll definitely go looking for more from this singer.

I'm tempted by Carly Rae Jepsen too, after hearing part of I Really Like You in an episode of Castle today. There's a bold brashness there that makes you sit up, pay attention and start singing along. Love it. Album coming soon ...

What else has been filtering through ?

Due to how I did those first listens on the Macbook, the Longest Played is going through the L albums at the moment and one of the best is by Kate Bush. It's Lionheart, which is full of lovely fluffy soaring vocal songs like Wow.

Next up after Gabrielle Aplin is an All About Eve album, their Live and Electric at Union Chapel. I never saw them but you can tell from the albums that they were good live, led by those Julianne Regan vocals. She's always been one of the best with a distinctive voice doing full justice to songs like Martha's Harbour.

There's the Lily Was Here soundtrack. I used to use this cd as a set up album. Great music with the interplay between Candy Dulfer's saxophone and David A Stewart's guitar, with my using the tang of that guitar to set up my speakers just so. The setting where the guitar tang just started to ring out was perfect.

Into the J's and you have the John Williams soundtracks. I have the soundtracks for Episode 1 and the original films. The music ages far better than the films. I'm looking forward to the new Star Wars film, although I'm refusing to get on the hype bandwagon. That way leads to disappointment. Better to go in with no expectations and just enjoy the show. That's how I went into Phantom Menace and while the fanboys reviled that film, I enjoyed it. Soundtrack for Raiders of the Lost Ark is coming up too, there's a film that's still a classic now.

A singer I've been pleasantly surprised by is Kacey Musgraves and I've listened to her Pageant Material and Same Trailer, Different Park albums again this week. Check out High Time.

Going back to a golden oldie and there's George Harrison with his Let It Roll collection. Not many songs make me stop everything and listen but My Sweet Lord is definitely one of those. Another golden oldie is Bob Marley with his Legend album, Could You Be Loved ? I hope so.

Kasabian have been going through the playlist as well. Not what I usually listen to but they have a lot of character, which keeps me buying their stuff. Velociraptor has huge humour in it.
Not that kind of humour ...

I do like a bit of Avril Lavigne too, may she keep making music with lots of attitude like on Let Go with songs like Mobile.

The female vocalist trend continues with Gabriella Cilmi's Lessons to be Learned. Another good but not spectacular album. They push the song Sweet About Me way too much (bit like Moves Like Jagger), which distracts away from other great songs like Don't Want To Go To Bed Now.

Clannad have a heap of L albums, starting with Landmarks with the unforgettable Fado. Love that song. The also did the soundtrack for the Robin Of Sherwood series with Michael Praed (Legend) as well as the Lore album. There's a couple of good ones coming in M too with Magical Ring and Macalla. Another highly impressive voice leading this group with songs like Together We.

Katie Melua sneaks in with Pictures and there's even a little Kings Of Leon with Only By The Night. Not too sure about Kings of Leon but that's personal taste.

According to iTunes, I've managed to listen to 732 different songs so far since starting the holiday, although a good few of those (like the Gabrielle Aplin and Laura Marling) have been repeat listens. I'm missing the Cardigans. May queue up one of those albums out of order.

That's the other way I pick out what I listen to - if I go somewhere long distance in the car I usually let it pick out random tracks from a Best Of Library playlist but I'll sometimes pick out a few albums to listen to as well. I'm not going to London for Comic Con (maybe next time !) but if I were, I can see me picking out albums like Cardigans Super Extra Gravity or A Camp's self titled album. And then there's any number of old favourites like Kate Bush, newer music by The Veronicas, soothing road albums like Goldfrapp's Seventh Tree (going on a Road To Somewhere), amazing vocals of a Tori Amos album or happy poppy albums like Mindy Gledhill's Anchor.

Must check out Mindy Gledhill's forthcoming album.
Later !

PS Thoughts for a couple of people - a special little lady who I hope is going to get her mobility back tomorrow :-) and the mom of another special lady who's going into hospital as well tomorrow. Hope they both come out with great results.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Just Chillin'

I think the chilling out is going reasonably well.

I'm still quite sore, that comes from a body that's bounced off a few too many cricket pitches during my playing days. Cricket is how I started off this little break actually, I managed to tune in to the test match just as it exploded into ... something a lot more interesting than it had been.

That's the thing about cricket, it can totally change in the space of a couple of balls. The first 4 days of the game between Pakistan and England had been pretty turgid stuff. Bad enough that I didn't bother with Plan A, which was to record the day's play (starts at 7am) and watch it time delayed on the Saturday. But suddenly our new hope, legspinner Adil Rashid, starting taking wickets. And the game suddenly turned from bore draw into a frantic potential chase for an England win. And they gave it all their effort too. Another 20 minutes batting and it may have led to an unlikely victory.

Good on the lads. There's also the rugby still going ... I have to admit, the Rugby World Cups don't excite me that much. I'll watch all of England games and the Six Nations, because that's balanced rugby with sides I'm interested in following. But the world cups (football and cricket too) have too many unbalanced games where it is obvious who is going to win before the kick off and too many games I have no interest in. They're on the telly but the sound is muted while I keep an eye on other things, like the music on the hifi and the videos/game on the PC.

Music ? Next up is the soundtrack to Star Wars (the very first film). The films aren't exciting me as much as they used to but the music is still incredible. Ah ha ! Thumbnail pic time ...
I bet you can't have failed to notice the almighty hype that's going at the moment for a film coming out around Xmas ... I'll see that but hype tends to turn me off most stuff. If it can't sell itself, then is it any good ?

I'll see the new Star Wars film but I'll wait until closer to the date until I get my tickets. I'll freely admit that I think that Episode 3 may have been the strongest of the lot, although Return of The Jedi is still my favourite and not just for that outfit. You know the one I mean.

Oh there's that fanfare going ... For so long, I thought the movie studio fanfare before the opening story roll was part of the Star Wars soundtrack. It's a very strong soundtrack, one of John Williams' best and he was a master at them. His soundtrack for Indiana Jones is very strong too and I have that on my list of things to be watched very soon. I have to keep clearing stuff on the box though.

Lots of Deep Space 9 at the moment, this is actually the first time I've rewatched those. It's curious how memory works, I remember most of these episodes. It's before Nose Job 1, which scrambled a lot of my marbles, particularly in my memory. I don't remember things nearly as well since then. Interest level is pretty critical though and DS9 was on screens during that golden age of telly scifi. When 3 Star Trek series were running, followed by Enterprise. Stargate was in the middle of its run. Farscape was being ... disgusting ... and amusing. I think Firefly was having its chance too ?

We don't see nearly as much space scifi as we used to and that's a big shame. It's a genre that can go anywhere and do pretty much anything. The detective serials are fairly decent but ... one murder on those tends to blur into the next one. Their variation suffers.

I've been on the gaming too - this is a sight you really don't want to see as an Internet Spaceship Pilot Person :
That's the Mel and Sue, my Python after a fight with ... something a little bigger. You shoulda seen the other guy. Wasn't pretty. My ship is left there with 29% and a blown out canopy, I think I left the other guy on 10%. I maybe coulda got 'im ? I didn't hang around to find out. I was a few jumps away from safe harbour with a blown out cockpit and one of the game mechanics means you only have minutes to get to a hangar before all your air runs out. That picture is from when I was letting the docking computer plonk me on the outpost at the top and the air is getting a bit low in that.

Yep. I've been flying the internet spaceships again. I'm going to sell the Mel And Sue soon to get another Type 9 space truck. They're horrific to fly but they make the money a bit quicker, which will get me into the biggest ship a little sooner.

I kinda miss the old Star Wars Space Pilot games too, those have just come out again on and I will probably pick them up at some point. I loved Tie Fighter when it came out, I missed its predecessor, XWing, due to coming into PC ownership after it came out. Yep. I'll have another look at those when they go on offer. They're going for £6.60 at the moment on, which is a bit much for 20 year old games. It's great that they're available again and packaged to run on modern machines but ... wait for sales.

Sales mean you can buy more games ! Or stuff ! More stuff is good !

Erm. Maybe that should be ... sales mean you can spend less. But you're still spending, even if it's on sale. The key is to only spend that cash on things you want or need.

I'm close to deciding to spend money on another graphics card. My current one has a problem which I think is in the hardware somewhere. Here's an example :
See that weird dot pattern ?

That's from iPlayer, which is unwatchable full screen because of it (I cheat, I make the window full size and zoom in so it's full screen - no dots). The problem comes into Youtube videos but goes away when they go properly HD (the dots stay on iPlayer because BBC is a cheap ass organisation that doesn't send proper HD over the interwebs). I see the dots in games too, sometimes it's noticeable, most times it's shortlived or restricted to bits of the screen that don't matter. They may be on the hologram picture of the outpost in the Elite screenie. Endless Legend is unplayable, there's a different texture hopping problem on that but I think it's related.

The next graphics card may well see me jump back to the other side of the fence, to AMD. Computer stuff goes in cycles, sometimes one manufacturer is better than the others, then it flips. nVidia were strong for a while but have forgotten software quality again. That's why I switched to ATI (now AMD) before. It's tough to know where to go with PC stuff. Apple were amazing but they've forgotten the Software Is For Users since RIP Steve Jobs. Microsoft are now ... weird. I'm not too sure what I'll do when this PC expires and I'm definitely not letting Apple update any software on my Macbook Air. The new stuff isn't as compatible as it should be. This is part of a computer industry theme of making new software incompatible with older hardware. Boo hiss to that.

Anyway, aside from that - I've turned the BOINC science sums program back on again. That has the processor and graphics card going full power, which keeps the room warm. The seasons have turned here and it's suddenly got a lot colder. Almost Xmas and ... a) the Happy Cookie Place appearing with the German Market (can you tell that I'm looking forward to that ?) and b) Mini Eggs are available again after Xmas.

I do like my Mini Eggs.

I think I've rambled on a bit too much though. Got a few things to be looking forward to :

I think I'm a bit healthier. The damaged parts of me are I think improving very slowly. Still never going away though. My right arm is still a mess though. I need to leave the bad bits alone so they have a chance to heal. They're steadily getting more sturdy though.

I think ditching the hayfever tablets has had a positive and negative effect. I think they were helping my outsides but ... I'm pretty sure the side effects were doing damage. One of those is sleeplessness and I'm still figuring out how to go to sleep again. Part of the sleeplessness is down to the itch/scratch/itchmore fact of life.

That was probably too much info ?

Managed to avoid World of Warships, I was tempted by that one. I even have it installed. However, there's a massive grind involved with the games and ... they're based around repetitive matches that last around 15 minutes each. There's a grind in Elite but that you set your own story for that grind. One day it could be trading, one day combat, the next few weeks setting off to explore. You choose your path, the path is not dominated by that repetitive match framework.

More cricket starts on Thursday, which means tomorrow could well be an escape the house day.

I dunno. I'm feeling quite happily chilled out at the moment, although it would be great to :
Catch up with one person in particular (I think not though cos she's still in healing mode)
See more sunshine (will Blighty's weather cooperate ?)
Fill up on snacks again ...

Oh and there's a couple of Comic Cons next weekend too at London and Cardiff. I have to admit, I'm sketchy about doing another London Comic Con. I'm curious about the NinaSerina hairdo and whether that new fashion for brightly coloured hair dyes works as well in person as it does on screen. London is a very long day though. It's 2 hours car, 1 hour underground and lots of walking around that. Perhaps with company ? Cardiff is closer.

Feeling a bit less tired too. May that continue to improve, this week is supposed to be about the recharging of the batteries after all.

Ohh - big yawn. Time for more sleep. Soon. I can't remember the last time I went to bed before 11.30, let alone before 10pm. Not even on an early on the road day. If I did go to bed at that time, I wouldn't get sleep, although I may well be yawning my head off.

Weird right ? Yawn but no sleep. Brain hates me sometimes. I think Brain had a lot it wanted to get out too. It does like to converse with people, even if it's just over the medium of a post here.
Quite !

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Brain fried ... send cookies

One more day in work until a little break !
Yep. Time for a little break. The usual signs of me getting into mental fatigue is that I miss words out or occasional words get mixed with words that shouldn't be there. I see this when I look back on posts I've published or emails I send. Perhaps in texts I write !

Yep. Week off next week, it's me taking the opportunity to recharge a bit before the mayhem leading up to Xmas starts. I have plans ... Daft plans but still plans.

Definitely pizza tomorrow night, I picked up a copy of Mad Max Furiosa Road last night which is almost certainly going to accompany the pizza. That's another sign of tired ! MMFR was part of a 2 for £ deal and when a lovely lady asked me what the other one was earlier, I just could not remember. (I peeked, it's the rather decent Dawn of the Planet Of The Apes).

I also picked up the Indiana Jones movies too (all 4) and a copy of Laura Marling's A Creature I Don't Know. The Jones movies are something I've intended to pick up for a while now. I owned the box set of the first 3 on dvd, my dad had number 4. So I donated my dvd copies to my dad to complete his set with the intention of upgrading to the bluray box set "soon". Haha, they finally dropped to an acceptable price.

That's one daft thing about the shops ... They do 2 for £ deals, 3 for £20, 5 for £30 deals. You'll only go for those deals if you can pick out enough movies to make up the 3 or the 5. With me yesterday, I couldn't see anything really suitable to go with Furiosa Road. Why did I get Apes ? Erm ... I needed the loo. Oops. Never let yourself be rushed into buying things for the wrong reasons.

It's daft though - I can rarely pick out enough for the 3 for or 5 for deals. Yet if they just made them cost £6 each, my bluray collection would ... need another set of shelves. But with me not seeing enough for the 3/5 for, they stay on the shop shelves.

It's not just the movies though, Laura Marling was a speculative buy at £3 for that album. Plus I'll pick up a few more from Rudimental, Gabrielle Aplin and ... more that my brain is too fried to remember. Oh ! Yeah. Ellie Goulding has a new one coming out soon, as does Mindy Gledhill.

I'm getting sidetracked ...

Yeah ! Stuff while away. Need the boiler sorted out, that's been going on far too long and it's now struggling to give suitable amounts of hot water. Not so good. I like that feeling of nicely hot water on my back, it helps ease out some of the stiffness in the back and shoulders.

Catching up with the recorded stuff ! At the moment it's a couple of episodes of Castle. Not sure where that series is going. It's in its 7th series now. It's been very good but has it been going on too long ?

There's cricket on at the moment too, although it's the kind of cricket you leave on in the background all muted. I'll time-delay (start of play is 7am) watch a few days of it.

There's another Comic Con on in London on the weekend of Fri 23 to Sun 25. I'm curious about this, tempted to go. But ... it's way better in company and one lovely lady comic con addict is still struggling with a poorly ankle. That's not good if the trip involves walking into the halls (1+ mile from the underground station last time) and lots more walking. London Comic Con is an insanely long day compared to the one in Birmingham. Better to save it for when you're more ready for all the walking.

I'd go on the Friday when one of the best (naughtiest ?) laughs and wisest voices on youtube will be gracing the stands with her presence. I think one of the sweetest voices will be there too. (The laugh would belong to Kim and the voice to Hannah). I don't watch nearly as much gaming stuff on Youtube now but I still watch most of what Hannah and Kim come out with. It's just way better quality than what the men come out with. With the ladies, it's fun with a lot of professionalism behind it. The typical bloke youtuber just screams, carries on and acts like a child to the point where their voices will carry through walls to where more professional people are trying to record with the idiot voice being picked up on the other person's videos.

You can probably tell how my attitude differs between the various people on the youtubes.

It won't all be lazing about though. Need to make a dent in cleaning the house up and getting it all in order. It would be kinda nice to have visitors again sometime ... That was actually what kicked off the Mall run last night, having another peek around Wickes and B+Q for Stuff. One of those has another 50% off offer going on bathroom stuff again, the last one of those AND NEVER COMING AGAIN ! was in May. This latest version ends in November and you can bet there will be another after that.

Lesson for this post - buy stuff when it's convenient for you, not when the people wanting your money want you to buy.

That kinda sounds like the "Do what your enemy doesn't want you to do" quote doesn't it. I guess it applies ! The commercial people want your money, you should be looking to give them as little as you can get away with.

Right - mental energy flagging - be well people.
And there's a good chance that'll be me on Caturday.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Searching for a little inspiration

Or a little inspiring (person) ?

Been struggling lately.
There's physical fatigue combining with mental burn out as well. I've hopefully identified what was breaking me physically, my metabolism seems to be waking up again since I stopped having the hayfever tablets. I suspect it'll take a little while for those to go out of my system properly but I've felt a little more active and bouncy since given them up. Hopefully that's not just placebo effect.

The mental fatigue is partly bouncing around at work doing stuff, fighting a body that doesn't really want to bounce around. But it's also lack of sleep. I don't know how much sleep I got last night, not very much at all. Not for lack of trying either ! Or perhaps I was trying too hard to nod off. It's that thing again where you're yawning away yet cannot drop off.

Awkward yep.

Been struggling to find ideas for posts too ! There's one coming soon about the Volkswagen scandal. We keep hearing more about that and it's all bad. It looks like a heap of VW owners will have cars that are modified to give far fewer emissions but at the cost of performance and economy. Yet they will need those modifications in order to pass testing.

That's a good thing for everyone else (air quality in cities is high on the sneeze and teary eyes factor) but really bad for the owners of the cars.

What do I think about it being an owner of a low emissions hybrid car ?

Honestly, I really don't care very much about the CO2 or NOx emissions of my car. I care much more about the tangibles that cost me money or give me fun. That's the combination of high power, driveability and economy. My leg has become less painful now that it doesn't have to finely manage a clutch pedal, I get the WHOOSH ZOOM of overtaking and it's both the most powerful and best economy of any car I've owned. (Ok, the CT beats it in economy, but only just). This car cost £10 in road tax this year, my Focus would have cost £290 in road tax per year for a car that ate double the fuel and was steadily destroying my left leg.

That said, I do care about emissions as a whole - see comment about air pollution in cities. I don't think diesel cars are the answer, the fuel is inherently dirtier just as it is more economical due to having higher energy density (there's a chemistry reason for that). I don't think widespread hybrids are the answer either, although they are a godsend for city traffic. Battery cars ? Maybe for cities but they depend on you having a charging point.

Ooops - I didn't think this was going to be about cars. The car thing has been coming for a little while though.

Other stuff ? Been gaming a little, I'm maybe halfway through the Deus Ex HR playthrough. It's a decent game, still has my attention after a few full playthroughs. The Warcraft subscription has been binned, I got to a point where I would have to depend on other people to proceed and that opens you up to the cesspool that is multiplayer gaming with random people. And here I am considering having a peek at World Of Warships ... Oh and there's also Elite (Internet Spaceship Pilot Game), I had another toe dip into that one at the weekend. I'm back to trading. Sadly though, their servers have been very unstable lately since the latest patch went live.

World of Warships ? This is the latest from, I enjoyed playing their World of Tanks game until the grind got boring. The tank game saw 15 tanks vs 15 tanks, varying in size from light scouts, through heavy walls of metal, to self propelled artillery. Fun game, it got the adrenaline going too. The progression model is what hurts the game, around Tier IV (out of X) it takes a while to get through to the next tank. World of Warships is similar, except you're controlling World War 2 ships instead.

Curious. People who know more about me than I put here will guess why !

Oh my - just seen an ad for Mad Max Fury Road. I gotta get that film and watch it again. It's at full price though and I try to avoid getting films for too much cash. I have a backlog of films/series to watch, I can wait :-).

I'm hoping to see The Martian again. I'm still planning to have next week off, although I'm keeping a wary eye on work to see if anything will call me in. (It's options season where we see how much money we need to save, I'm a link in that chain but other people can do what I do). But watching The Martian again would be awesome. I want to get the book read again too to see what was missed from the film.

But it's not just the film watching that would be awesome, there's a special little inspiring person who I have a surprise package for. (Oops - I told her that a surprise package was coming, hopefully I haven't given away too much !)

That's the thing really. I may be fatigued both mentally and physically at the moment but. It's help from other people out there that keeps me going.

The natter with like minded colleagues.
Chatting with the work-ish group.
Messages from the wounded sky angel. May you heal up soon.

Hopefully it won't be almost a week again until the next post. I need ideas ! And Memes ! Memes are always good for ideas for posts. I did enjoy doing the Christmas pictures meme last year, that actually worked wonders in restructuring how I do posts. A little shorter and using lots of pictures to hopefully make people smile and to break up the wall of text.
Oh and the occasional borrowed joke too.

Be well people or ...
Only kidding with the lick thing. Hugs are way better than licks. Unless you are a short haird golden labrador with a rapier like tongue.
Lovely pooch. Another with the tail that often disappeared into a happy motion blur.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

The silence of the lemon merangues

Currently watching the grand final of Great British Bake Off.

It's one of those wonderfully British series, an elimination contest which starts with 12 contestants with one going home every week. They make three batches of cake (and other bakeries but ... cake is life) over the weekend and the tastiest, best baked, best presented cakes earn the bakers a place in the next week.

Grand Final tonight - my money's on Nadiya. Partly for what she bakes, mostly because she's a huge character.

All those cakes look so amazingly tasty too, even though half of them are way too healthy for me. Oh - it's inspired the latest avatar. Wonder if they'd accept a Dwagon Helper ?
Have gloves, will travel. I'd kinda like to learn how to bake again. Because baking leads to cookies. Cookies lead to happiness. And the Happy Cookie Place is back in a month :
Yum. Really looking forward to raiding that place again. It visits Bristol as part of the German Christmas Market. Who says it's a bad thing when the Christmas fever starts up in ... January ? Ok, this market appears in November, which is fairly ok. That's not as hugely early as some places. The Xmas stuff is up in John Lewis already ...

I could have gone off to see The Martian again with the work-ish friends but ... it would have involved heading home from work (to see if fresh cinema vouchers have arrived) and then off to the cinema place. This would have meant fighting through the worst of the traffic on both of those.

Traffic is really bad at the moment here. I have several alternate routes I can use between home and work, trouble is, most of them are off the list now because the roadworks are causing mayhem. I'm amazed we haven't had gridlock due to crashes yet. There are signs for the way people are supposed to negotiate the lane closures but ... this is Bristol. People don't read signs. Or indicate.

Aside - oh wow. We've just had the winner of the Bake Off and there are tears all round. Happy tears. Because the winner has come out of a bit of a shell to expose a huge talent at baking. Well done :-) (I'm being vague cos ... spoilers !!!)

Phew ! That distracted me away from horrid drivers. I've gone like :
(Tiny Bit Tired - another gap in the collection!)

I'm wondering what the cause of the gathering malaise I'm feeling is. I'm going to take the week after next off work to try and recover some energy. It's partly from burning too much mental energy, both in work and since I've been on the games again. A lot of it is from still not sleeping particularly well. I'm at a loss there, I can be yawning my head off at 11.30 but when I go to bed at 12.00, I'll still be yawning but my body won't sleep.

I have another theory there. I've been on the Acrivastine based hayfever tabled for ... more time than I can remember ! 2 of those a day, one before bed, one before doing stuff in the morning. They're 8 hour coverage pills, so that's decent coverage. Trouble is, I tend to build up a resistance to certain things. Previous hayfever tablets have seen me react badly to them. How ?

I'd have one before a game of cricket, to open up my lungs and help me breathe more easily. I used to have a quick recovery (untested now!) time with the running around but it depended on me being able to breathe efficiently. Hayfever type allergies tended to interfere with that ... plus there's the factor of your eyes tearing up when you're trying to bat. It's tough to dab eyes when wearing cricket gloves ! But I was also seeing side effects where instead of being power legs, my legs were weighing me down. It's like there was nothing in the tank. Lots of deadweight from supposedly power muscles. Apparently I was getting that side effect from the hayfever tablets (Citirizine based).

So I'm going to cut out the hayfever tablets and see what happens. I was taking them primarily to help out my outsides but I'm not sure they need the help any more. I'm also feeling like my legs are deadweight again, although that's partly down to the damage in my hips.

Stress too. Work's gone a bit silly at the moment for various reasons that I won't go into here. It does help having a "We're all in this together !" spirit, so those who share that help each other out. (There are some who are quite happy in their islands of misery but can't resist sharing)

So I'll step away for a week for a change of scene and a chance to recharge the batteries. I'll be heading out a few times over that week too. No Shauns to hunt but people to help out. I think a very good friend will be appreciating any help she can get with a house move and another lovely lady will be eager to escape the restrictions of recovering from that broken ankle.

That's the thing - I'm feeling extremely tired and stressed in general at the moment. But when those messages come in from friends, it really brightens my day and helps dispel the bad thoughts.

I'll be here in the evenings creaking away louder than the chair I'm sitting in but when those messages come in, I'll be jumping up with a big smile.

Friends are awesome. Family too. And that family includes the four legged friends too. Someone reminded me of that earlier today by peeking at one of last year's posts (Furry Friends at the link). I think the big sis would like me to write more about Murph and Ice too, her poochlings. I've met Murph when he was a pup, not met Ice yet. They're a bit too boisterous for Ben to handle. Because Ben would try and keep up with them and he's a bit old for that.

Talking of Ben, I think he'd hope that a special friend has her paw heal as well as his good paw did :
The good paw is the one on the right, he was born with genes that made his front paws curl in. That left paw is causing him real problems now but the right paw was broken in an argument with a vehicle. We adopted Ben when he was recovering from that and the right paw healed better than new. I've not visited Ben for a while, it'd be great to see the lovable old geezer and rub him behind his ears again.

I hope one special friend has as happy a result as that !
(The healing of the paw, not so sure she'd be too impressed with someone rubbing her behind her ears)

Sunday, October 04, 2015

A tale of two movies

Currently watching the ending bits of Avengers - Age Of Ultron.
For something so heavily hyped and with the excellence of prior movies in the sequence, I was expecting this one to be really good.

And it is a pretty decent movie too. However ... it's not nearly the best in its series. It's strange, the avengers movies don't seem to bear up that well to repeat viewings. I think I know why ...

There's more action in a couple of minutes than there were in the whole of The Martian. Yet I think The Martian is the film I'll keep going back to over the years. I'm definitely hoping people give me the excuse to watch it again numerous times over the next few weeks.

So what's missing?
It's the story at the centre of the movie.

So - let's compare ... Martian vs Avengers.

Action - there's just about enough in The Martian. Not too much, not too little. Also note that one of the disaster events in the book was missed out, it wouldn't have fit in with what they did with the ... spoilerdelete ... bit. On the other hand, there is the Avengers which has loads of explosions and ... when things were getting quiet again, time for another explosion to stop the audience falling asleep. I found it wsa too much.

Characters - there's very little in the Avengers, they're all pretty flat cartoon characters, although Hawkeye shows some signs of development. The Martian is all about the characters, at least its central character and how he comes to terms with his situation and stands up and deals with it. Even when things go wrong, especially when things go wrong.

Getting the feels - I've been noticing this more and more. Certain movies stir up the inner feelings that bring tears to the eyes. I'm not talking about the cringeworthy stuff. I'm talking about where you identify with what's happening with the characters and what they're going through. It's a sign that you're invested in the characters and their story when it evokes the feelings. That most definitely happens in the latter stages of The Martian. I never got it in the Avengers.

(I'm trying really hard to avoid the spoilers !)

Making you chuckle - The Avengers has a couple of ongoing themes running through it that are intended to make you laugh. They fall flat. The Martian has a slightly nutty central character who meets his situation with humour. That said, some of the humour is removed and some of the attempts by the screenwriters (illustrating the Hermes plan) really don't match up with the original writing.

Hollywood strikes, hollywood causes problems.

Hollywood also caused problems with some of the more human science in The Martian, there's far more in the book and (I haven't read any reviews yet) it makes some of what is glossed over, make sense. I dunno about you, I wouldn't want to be living in a driving seat for 50+ days. That's explained far better in the book and I really don't know why they would cut that.

I'll close with ...

Go see The Martian ! I hope you'll love it. But ... see it as a prelude to reading one of the best books I've read in recent years. It was a 2 and a half hour film but ... the bits missed out genuinely add to the story. There's that thing that all books share :

They are a conduit for your imagination. The better books will let you play out the story in your mind. Your brain fills in the gaps and brings it to life.
They convey feelings and thoughts like no film can.
You can put them down and come back. This is very important. It means the story plays out in its own time, rather than being limited to the time dictated by the dvd, bluray or sitting in the cinema time.

That last point is telling. The Martian film is very good but some of the bits they miss out mar the perfection of the science behind the fiction. The book is absolute perfection in its fiction.

Go read it !

PS I don't think I'll bother picking up the Avengers comics.
PPS The Avengers gag reel did make me chuckle. But not nearly as much as the one on Guardians Of The Galaxy which I must watch again soon.
PPPS I am Groot.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Bring Him Home !

So I watched Everest today.

It's a film about mountaineers on our highest mountain (except for K2) who successfully manage to reach the summit but ... drama ensues as the mountain is battered by a massive storm.
Nah. Kidding.

I watched The Martian today.
My advice ? If you have the slightest interest in science, if you like a good story, a bit of drama and of course, humour, this one has it all. It helps that the book is one of the best books I've read over the past few years. The science is top notch, the drama comes in through accidents that are totally plausible* and there are a lot of feels in here.

*(Interstellar was a great film but most of its drama was caused by people being diabolically stupid and, while the visual science was groundbreaking, the actual science was appalling.)

Here, a lot of the drama comes in through unintended mishaps, things going far too well (BOOM!) and real life physics having some fun.

Oh - go watch the book after you've read the film. (uhoh - mixed words. Getting mentally tired and probably need time off). The two have roughly the same story but they very definitely get the best out of both forms of media.

Film - great visuals in the scenery, plus it brings out the emotes of the characters. It paces the drama really well, the film feels just long enough and goes by fairly quickly. Ridley Scott does well here. I have mixed feelings about Ridley Scott, he's made some great films (Alien) and some turkeys (Prometheus). This matches his great direction with an incredible story.

Book - has more great stuff. The film is already 2 hours 20 minutes, which is getting on the long side. The film skips over a couple of detail parts in the book, which probably would have made it a 3 hour film. I don't think people really want those (despite what Peter Jackson and Chris Nolan think). The book can go into the deeper thoughts of the characters and explains things much better than the film. That's not to say that the film will lose you in the science, it's just fleshed out more in the book. A couple of minor plot points were missed off the film too.

I'm quite looking forward to reading the book again. I must finish Arthur C Clarke's Rendezvous With Rama so I'm not doing a book abandon. I know someone who I think would quite like to hear what I think of the Rama book ...

Yeah - I really enjoyed The Martian, although I am a bit of a space nut. Combing stuff that makes a space nut happy with engineering, survival stuff and great science makes me a very happy filmgoer. I'll definitely be getting this one when it comes out on bluray. AT FULL PRICE !!!!

And there's not many films I get at full price now, I have so much of a queue of films to watch that I can afford to wait until they go in the 2 for £25 or even better 5 for £30.

I'll go see it again in the movies too. Did I mention that it was getting me in the feels at certain points ? That seems to be happening more and more in films.

Other stuff ? I'm going to cancel the Warcrafty stuff. I bought 3 months of game time which will be enough for me to see all the stuff you can do with a single character. After that, it can get pretty grindy. That is, doing the same thing over and over again ad nauseum. Plus I've seen the signs of addiction coming in where you end up playing a game because you feel some sort of obligation to, instead of having fun with it.

I've been on another game instead ...
I'm getting close to where I can get that view, it's just under halfway into the game. In my previous playthroughs, I tended to reload saves way too often. Get seen when you're trying to sneak ? Reload. I'm keeping that to just when the hacking minigame has a bad result or if the chat sequences decide to go contrary.

I play through with the nonlethal style, knocking out bad guys instead of putting holes in them. You have to be sneaky for that to work. Why ? Partly cos it feels better, guard dudes have families ! But mostly because it gives you a very minor experience boost that may get you ever so slightly more powerful by the end of the game. And it's a tough game too ...

As I found when trying to bring a rocket launcher to a gunfight. Didn't work. I was shocked ! But - if you're fighting someone who has a big gatling gun for an arm, it helps to have rapid fire on your side. Not a rocket launcher which is far too easy to miss with and takes ages to reload.

Time to leg it - I'll be remembering watching The Martian while wondering if anyone is going to give me the excuse to watch it in the cinemas again ? Hopefully this time without the kiddies (who should have been in school) who didn't have the patience to sit through 15 minutes of film, let alone 2 hours +. No parents in sight and they seemed on the borderline of the 12A cert ...

That's one thing about watching movies at home, it costs about as much with bluray/dvd, you make your own food (and can therefore trust it more) and you have a pause button in the case of too many fizzy drinks.

PS Go watch The Martian.