Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Comic Cons And Hunting The Cosplayers

I think it's taken me a day or so to recover from the Comic Cons !
Many lovely sights were there, including the lady with the book above. Possibly the best costume we saw on the day.

I was over there with Cupid's Gift and I hope she had a really good day. She was definitely hunting down the cosplayers for pictures, although she was being incredibly shy with asking for the pics. (Haha, the shyness didn't last - pics are on my Facebook but I don't put pics of me or friends here).
In we go, past the gauntlet of Imperial Stormtroopers. They let us past, saying something about droids. Some people like the ones above ... not so lucky. But everyone knows stormtroopers can't hit anything so I'm sure they got away unscathed.
We spied a couple of warriors locked in mental combat, waiting for their opportunity to strike the deadly blow.
While others carried on the memory of those who came before us. Remember your veterans ! They sacrificed to make this a better world. The Sergeant there was doing his people proud.

(As always, click for bigger, these were taken from my proper camera with far more pixels than this screen can show !)
There were lots of people there, possibly too many for me !
They're still sizing each other up.
Could the lady with the book have them under some kind of spell ?
Definitely plenty of people to bedazzle, even at the early time that this pic was taken.
Including those taking a little time off from defending the galaxy from the overwhelming threat of the Reapers.
Perhaps they were looking for Shinies to take back to the Citadel ?
They did have help on hand, in the form of this majestic Imperial warrior standing perhaps 8 foot tall there in her armour. Serve the Emperor with all your heart and soul and it will give him the strength to stave off the forces of the ever insidious chaos threat.
Could they be protecting us from the Cat People ? Meow.
Definitely looking forward to the movie this lady will be in later this year (Suicide Squad).
And I wonder if this Bonnie Lady had her outfit inspired by the lovely Kaylee from Firefly ? One of the more beautiful outfits on display on Sunday. She was incredibly shy with it though.
There's one outfit I'm looking forward to wearing soon.
I wonder ... This fella has a movie coming soon too. I have high hopes for that one.

It did become time to leave though and we had a lovely meal at Westfield Wagamamas after (really heavy traffic to get there though !)
And I think they're still locked in that mental combat, waiting for the other to strike ...

Really enjoyed the day out over at Comic Con :-).

More soon ! Been playing with a new Tivo and ... my Internet Spaceship was destroyed. RIP IMV Min Maxer. I need suggestions for the name for the successor ship.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Steps Forward, Steps Back

This time tomorrow,
I'll be half asleep enjoying the start of a holiday week off !!! Hurrah. I feel quite beat up at the moment :

General tiredness - After the health issues of the last few years, I still haven't gotten all of my energy back. It's there in traces and occasional bouts of hyperactivity but on the whole, I find it tough to summon up the energy to do Stuff. I still battle through and do it but it does take the equivalent of the Big Electric Cattleprod to get me started.

Outsides that don't like me : this is really frustrating still. I've had this condition for ... 5 years now ? And even reading back in posts around 3 years old, I feel I've been on the cusp of recovery for all that time. But I never get wholly better. More in a bit.

Work stress - work's ok. But it's not the technical messing about with fancy bits of kit work that I'd like to be doing. There are other things causing stress which I can never write about here. The people, on the whole, are pretty good still and that's what's really important to me. I mirror the people around me, good people make me happy, bad people make me pick up on what makes them bad.

Insides that ... need some time to get better. Some bits are good, some bits are bad. I've had a few issues over the last little while (I am allergic to hayfever tablets if you can believe that) and they typically need management. That said, the symptom of the hayfever tablet sensitivity has gone (thankfully because it was go-to-doctor scary!). My muscles and bones will appreciate the downtime they'll have next week.

Outsides ?

I have been steadily improving over the last little while. I have recovered to the point where I think a few clear days or a clear week may see me finally fixed.

But ... I'm not getting that clear time.

It is pretty awesome to be back to the point where I can aggressively use the towel after having a shower, instead of being delicate to protect battered skin. Yep. You read that right, my skin has been that tortured. That's one of the cruel things about a skin condition like mine, like Psoriasis (which isn't what I have). Keeping it clean definitely helps ... because it gets rid of the bad stuff. But it can also make it worse as tortured skin can't handle the act of being cleaned ... or dried.

Apologies for being slightly graphic there - I don't like to expose what I've been living with. It's my struggle and I really shouldn't need help with it. To beat it, I need to have more self discipline to not aggravate the damage. The cause is with me and the fix is with me too. To bring other people in would ... not help much ? People know I've been struggling and that's enough, I don't need the special treatment, I do struggle with the energy but I can keep up with the workload.

Other people have it far worse than me. I can see the end of this fight, other people are locked into it.

And I have had a little help with it - someone lovely bought me that Aveeno moisturizer a while ago. I haven't been using it as much as I should really be but ... It has helped. Have slapped on a bit more tonight to see if it helps (it will).

My condition has slipped backwards again somewhat over the last week. It's a causality loop :

Itches begin.
I attack the itch.
Skin goes on fire from the consequence of me attacking the itch.

In engineering, we call it a positive feedback loop, where the reaction to a control input constantly increases and the system has more and more extreme responses to a stimuli and eventually breaks. I'm not broken any more but I do need to get that feedback back to negative feedback, where the stimuli (the itchies) are gradually damped down to zero. And then I'll be fixed.

It is good to be getting back to normality. I've been away from that for a long time but I am steadily seeing bits of me that were torn up, return to smoothness.

To better things !
But first - if you are struggling with something, remember a few important things :

We all struggle and it gets the better of us sometimes. And that's ok ! The bad thing to do is not recognise when things are getting the better of you and bottle it in. The way out of it is to clobber a friend, drag them off somewhere secluded, handcuff them to a chair and talk it out with them. If they're a good friend they'll listen (and maybe not call the cops after you let them go).

Friends will help. Or you wouldn't trust them as friends. I have a small number of awesome friends who know how to make me smile. I like to give a little back to the world by seeing if I can make other people smile.

Some friends will help just for hugs. Hugs are awesome.

Find something to look forward to (see below).

It's a fact of life that we can't deal with everything that life throws at us and it's ok to recognise that. We are not invincible or invulnerable. It's ok to have a little scream, cry or tantrum when life gives you onions. Or was it lemons. Or oranges. Oranges make me struggle to breathe.

The important thing is - keep fighting, keep struggling. Fight one battle at a time. Stay in the game. Positive Mental Attitude can be really tough to maintain, especially if your mind is battling against you (depressives will know what I mean there). But positive attitude is the best way out of a bad situation.

And it's ok to borrow a bit of positivity from friends.

That's me too !

I'm exhausted with one more day of work to go before a sleepy week off but I am really looking forward to Sunday. Because that'll be Comic Con with someone awesome.

It'll be a long day but her enthusiasm is infectious. You know I mentioned Mirroring people ? I'll catch that infectious enthusiasm and it'll make me really enjoy the day. She's a smart one that one and lots of other adjectives too. She brings out the better sides of me.

I'm looking forward to having a good wander around there too. I suspect a good few things will escape with me and the little lovely one.

Oh I also look forward to the messages that come in from various people too and there are few of those that let me be unguarded me.

LTK from work who is an absolute pro who I can discuss all sorts of things with the LTK.
CK who reminds me that not all people are dumb, he reminds me that Thinking Is Good. And I can talk games with him and Bionic Dwarf (and Luth too but he's been a bit preoccupied) and all sorts of other historical, philosophy and other subjects that would just bounce off your typical Chav. Oh wait, those thoughts would see a Chav a mile off and run away screaming (I dislike chavs).
Snow Queen who I still chat to occasionally (not enough!). Couldn't help today but it was good to borrow her knowledge today with something work related.
The Front Door people who I can have fun with, which lightens the strain of getting output from certain people (harder than getting blood out of the stone).


Looking forward to Comic Con. It'll be awesome.
Looking forward to sleep. It has been fleeting lately due to the allergies making me attack myself again.
Dunno about the Tivo box that arrives on Tuesday, I still need to clear 14 hours of recorded stuff before turning off my old TV box for the last time.
Ambivalent about missing the sport for Comic Con. Comic Con massively beats the sport :-).
Looking forward to establishing a Planetbase Pixel People base on the Storm planet. Love that game.
Looking forward to watching SpaceX's rokkit launch livestream tonight. Starts in 5 minutes from this line.
Looking forward to watching Le Mans and building the Lego Le Mans car, although there's a little negotiation to do because it clashes with Father's Day.
Looking forward to adding new music to the library, the last music I added was Enya's latest (meh) in April.

And looking forward to seeing some Likes and Hits and dare I suggest, a little feedback ? from this post :-)

I struggle to find the worth in what I post. I know people keep coming back to read new posts but I don't really know what they are thinking as they read. What would they like to see here ? I know I jump around a fair bit in topics.

Let me know !

I suspect my next post will be a Colour Of Comic Con post, although I am overdue another Alphabet of the Human Heart post.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sun ! Cricket ! It Happens ! Sometimes ...

See ?
Yep. Sunshine just trying to break through the clouds over yonder.

Thursday was the now traditional day out at Lords to watch the Interservices Twenty20 cricket matches. It's a tournament held at the home of cricket, Lords, that sees three games played over the day between RAF, Royal Navy and the Army. First up was a decent tight close game between RAF and Army and then the tournament format is that the losers stay on and the winners get a break.

Not quite sure what I'd think of having a break in games like that. Sure, it gives a chance to rest, recharge, get the munchies on board but you'd also stiffen up somewhat over the downtime.

Someone mention cricket ?
As always with these pics, click for bigger. All of these were taken with my proper camera which I get more and more impressed with the more I use it.
You can zoom in really close to the action and still get the sharpness in the pictures. This one sees the RAF keeper being pretty sharp, having taken one stumping already in the game.
This one saw a potential 3rd Umpire decision as the Army's player of the tournament had a disputed catch which I thought was a bump ball (bounced immediately after being hit). It was well held out near the boundary and the decision of OUT was eventually given. Army guy was not happy.
But dubious catching (seen it before in these games where the RAF get the benefit of dodgy catches) was to no avail and the Army win the first game in the last over. Closest game of the day.
On to game 2 with Lords welcoming the RAF into bat and the Navy on to the field. After a reasonably tight start, RAF commenced ultimate THWACKage with a score of over 200 being rattled up. The friendly pigeons in the crowd were looking for helmets.
There goes another one into the crowd.

Oh I should say - the camera techniques here involve nothing more than an instant camera (Ixus 265) being braced on my knee with the pictures posted on the day going via my phone. The Canon can broadcast its own wifi signal which the phone can connect to and either control the camera or pull off the images for onward posting. Nifty. And the camera didn't even budge off full battery despite the 80 pictures, while the iPhone battery died at around 3pm.

Navy couldn't live with the Thwackage and succumbed to a hefty defeat. Bring on the Army for the concluding game.
With the RAF boys going back to the 5* hotel for tea and medals.
Decent crowd in to, bringing the atmosphere. Lords was almost at its best as usual. Not all of the ground is open for these games, plus the Warner stand is being rebuilt and modernised at the moment. One of the four floodlights is currently down, plus the building site is out of bounds for us public people. I like Lords because you can walk all the way around the compound around the stands. It's an excellent cricket ground with great facilities. Wonder what the new Warner stand will be like when it's opened.
Navy had a bright start to this game but lost a few too many wickets in clusters and couldn't recover enough. A reasonable total of 129 was posted and then ...
Bash. That target was bashed into submission with a quarter of the Army's innings remaining. Player of the tournament finished with an admirable 88 not out in this game.

And then it was me heading off to Part 2 of the day. Long day this one. Let's see :
0700 - get on the road to Lords, target arrival time at the Underground station 0930. I happened to start late (misread the clock!) but still got there roughly at 0930. (It's when off-peak fares start).
1900 - depart Lords, head on the Underground to Westfield. I had a mission ...
2200ish - depart Westfield to the Underground station.
0100 - I think this is when I got home after a 2 hour drive shouting along to the music on the phone (it can charge up in the car) to help me stay awake.

The Westfield side trip was to solve one major problem I've had on the London trips - having adequate munchies to keep me awake and active. I've usually had to resort to service station munchies which are ... pure fuel and not particularly great fuel at that. Having a Wagamama's munchie was very much appreciated.

And will almost certainly* be repeated on Sunday after MCM Comic Con :-). Really looking forward to that especially as :

*almost certainly ? I'll have someone lovely along for Comic Con and she's a Wagamama's addict. Final decision on where we munch is up to her ... but I'm pretty certain it'll be Wagamama. There is a huge amount of choice though.

I should have really posted this on maybe Friday but I was pretty wiped out after the long day. I must get out more as, even though it was a long day, I shouldn't be as wiped out as I was then. Perhaps it's digging into the reserves so much, the reserves need time to recharge.

It was good seeing England win in the cricket again yesterday :-). Plus I've been on the Planetbase again ... I have 3 planets complete now out of the 4 and I'll pick a time over the holiday to do the fourth.

I was hoping I could get the Fast Colony achievements done but that wasn't to be this time. Something to do with meteors hitting domes with people in a bunch of times and an out-of-food speedbump hitting at about 80 people. I think I'll manage the fast colony achievements at some point though.

But not yet. Chill out time for me at the moment ahead of diving back into work next week. Oh and I need to clear my box of recorded stuff before a forced upgrade happens on that holiday week.

First though - Comic Con ! Looking forward to that, especially as it'll be the first time I'll have seen one lovely person since just before Xmas.

See you soon ! And enjoy what remains of your weekend. It didn't rain on Thursday but I think it's been making up for that. Bit damp out there at the moment ...

Monday, May 16, 2016

Basking in the light of the suns

There's been a few game related posts lately hasn't there ?

It started with someone lovely asking me a question along the lines of "So what games are you enjoying at the moment ?"

And I think that reminded me that I really do enjoy playing the games. I find them relaxing, enjoyable, interesting. Depends on the game of course. Something like the new Doom would stress me out with its high paced action. I have my eye on a new strategy game called Stellaris but I think that one would annoy me as soon as I ran into end game micromanagement and the various AI bugs it has.

(Will still most likely pick up Stellaris the first time it goes on sale).

Games should be for relaxing with or for fun. Or in the best of times, both fun and relaxation.

That's how I'm finding Elite, some of the time. Also Planetbase. The thing about modern games is that you have to learn their characteristics. They have much more complication built in because that's what modern machines can handle, it's expected from the players. I'm enjoying Planetbase as a space colony builder, much more than I did with Banished. I found Banished quite frustrating when your colony would just go into death spiral for very little reason. Planetbase is much simpler and its AI rules can be understood, warts and all.

Let me tell you about some of what I've been doing in Elite over the weekend ... But first !!! Pictures.
As always with these, click for bigger.

Aww look. The beast was sleeping in her hangar. There are a few ways to make the money in Elite and I'm needing a fair bit of cash to fit out the Beastie in the picture above. She's called Imperial Merchant Vessel Min Maxer. I had been running a much smaller ship which felt like a race car after flying the big ones. The littler one was all about dashing around the galaxy quickly trading small volumes of cargo.

Making the cash ?
Combat is one way - I'll do this later because I want to get to the maximum pilot ratings for combat, trading and exploration. But I'm not really in the spaceship game for lots of mindless shooting.
Exploration gets a reasonable amount of cash but it is slow. The fortnight trip to the centre of the galaxy and back netted I think around 20 million credits.
Trading rare goods is a decent option if you don't have much capital or cargo space. You can get profits of around 16,000 credits per tonne and upwards. But you do need to travel long distance to get the profits.
Running long range smuggling missions - this can get you loads of cash but ... if you get caught by the Rozzers, you lose all the reward.

And the last way, which I'm doing now, Space Trucker.

This is where the enjoyment comes in and the relaxation. As a wannabe astronaut in my early years, games like this, like Planetbase, like Take On Mars (be The Martian) when it's ready (not bought it yet but I know what it could be) really speak to that kiddie in me that wanted to be on a different planet.
It was feeling too long since a picture. There we go ! I grabbed this one because I couldn't believe how close the big companion planetoid was to the one that I was looking to land on. They were about the same size !!! Orbiting really closely too. Like, probably closer than our Earth and the Moon.

That's one thing about this game that keeps me coming back. All the new things. The sights. The sparkly objects in the skies :
There she is, basking in the light of Facece's sun, with the heat dissipators open over the stern section. Definitely a pretty ship in near silhouette;
And with this particular line of ships, they designed in some beautiful organic lines. This level of complexity of ship model wouldn't have been possible a few years ago. The suns are active as well, most of them rotate, many have streamers of solar flares erupting from the surface. There are black hole gravity distortion effects;
I can't remember which sun provided the redness there. There are some amazing graphical effects coming in there though. The Main Sequence of stellar objects is modelled, which brings in all the variation of stars, as well as the proto T Tauri stars and end stage stellar objects like white dwarf stars, neutron stars and black holes.

Astronomers definitely lucked out in being able to study some incredibly beautiful phenomena.

It does help that it's a really beautiful game. Perhaps a little empty ? I'll be curious about No Mans Sky when it comes out. That could have the gorgeous outer space graphics combined with lush landscapes on the planets. We'll see there.

Oh ? Those trading things ... I got frustrated with what I think might be a bit of a bug at the moment. The police are really good at scanning you right now, better than what I remember. So when the Rares Trading involved smuggling illegal items, they'd spot those even when I hid in the station. When I tried the Long Range Missions, I got spotted after the first drop off.

So I went back to the massive ship, which is trading 720tonnes (the Python carried 240 tonnes, the Asp 80 in long range smuggler mission spec) at a time. I have no guns though, so if anyone tries pirating me, I just run. The Cookie Cutter has the turning circle of an asteroid (could be worse, the big freighter has the turning circle of a small planet) but it's pretty nippy. It'll get nippier too when I upgrade it.

And there are so many upgrades to come. I'm 54 million credits away from a "Starter Spec", i.e. way below what I'd call a proper minimum spec. Lots of running away to do until then. I'm 287 million away from the top trading spec. That's maybe 287 trading runs ...

And I'll enjoy every one of them. Especially with the inflight snacks that Cookie SpaceWays promises :
Yep. I did the Cadbury Does Spaceships thing again :-).

Fly safe, drive safe, be safe. Enjoy yourself !

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Are your ears ready ? Eurovision

It's here again !
Yep. My twitter feed is going nuts at the moment. Oh - I've that picture before but it sums it up so well. I've used this one before too :
That sums up some of the entries pretty well too.

Eurovision is a curious thing ... and that's before you get to the nationalistic judging. It's a cultural thing we indulge in every year, a song contest where you have the occasional cracker mixed in with so-so songs, wannabe popstar songs who are just missing something, the toneless hacks, the weird, the attention seekers and the just plain bad.

But we still watch it (or I'll have it on for the songs and then put my own music on while the judging is happening).

If I remember right, Sweden's song won last year on the back of a very gimmicky stage show and a highly repetitive song. That's one of the themes, a mediocre song is buried underneath a boppy dance track or the gimmicky stage show.

You also have the curiosity of performances so bad they must be planned that way. (I don't think Sweden wanted to win it again this year).

Who do I like so far ? It's on song 12 by Poland so far and from what I've seen, Belgium and Bulgaria are fairly ok. (I'm not going nuts over them by any means).

Apart from Eurovision - I'm having a chilled out weekend after burning myself out somewhat in the week. I really need to curfew myself from the games because the Pixel People Planetbase game has a combination of Just One More Day ridiculous addictiveness combined with being supremely easy to play. You just tell your Pixel People what buildings to build and what to put in them and that's pretty much it. There's a little more interaction and the orders take some planning but ... that's it.

Actually makes for compelling gameplay as you see if your Pixel People can get through the latest disaster. So far on this planet, the Ice planet where you are dependent on wind power only, they've escaped* death from running out of air due to lack of power and they nearly ran into a food crisis ...

*(escaped - translation : after half the colony died at once due to running out of air, I reloaded an earlier save and then learned how to manage the power better).

Yeah - I'm putting the time in on this one and really enjoying building up the bases. On the Warm Out There Base :
I'm in that Job Done phase where the colony needs to grow to 300 people and I need one more technology. Job Done being where you have all 10 milestones for having the colony a certain size, for surviving, for having robots, all the techs, building daft monoliths, things like that.

But I have been playing it at daft times like 2am, 3am, even 4am. That's when you have to look in the mirror and ask "Am I addicted ?" and answer in the affirmative. And addictions are really bad things to have.

(We have a definite Boy Band wannabe on Eurovision at the moment - definitely not my type).

I've also been playing the Elites, as I tour around the galaxy trading in all sorts of rare goods. If you don't have much capital (and I started this run on 800k credits), then rares trading is really effective. Normal trading tends to net you around 500 to 1500 credits per tonne. In the Cutter, that will be far more effective with its 700t cargo hold. Rares trading gets you 16000 credits per tonne. It can get the balance built back up again fairly quick.

Oh - Croatian tailoring and dressmaking - there are ... no words suitable.

Elite ? I'm about 6 million up so far and just started the next run around the rares circuit. When I finish that run, I'm going to try out the Long Range Smuggling which supposedly gets you up to 20m-30m credits per hour. Not a bad boost !

But I may be having a break from the Elites because the rozzers caught me smuggling stuff and I didn't realise until a few systems away. They first give you a fine and if you don't pay the fine within a week, you get a galaxy wide bounty on your head. And then the cops and stations shoot you. That doesn't end well. So I'll keep my pilot in the station while the bounty is active.

Eurovision - I think Spain forgot to fill in the gaps in the lyrics in their song. Pretty lady, has a bit of a voice but needs to stop with the heavy breathing.

Where was I ?

Possibly enjoying the gaming a little too much. I was pretty wrecked yesterday after finishing work. I'll reserve my strength for when I need it but then go zonk when I don't need the strength. So I started switching off after walking out the door from work.

So nearly bought the Lego Le Mans car though. It's on offer for 20% off.

Oh - another Boy Band wannabe ! Seen an Ed Sheeran wannabe tonight too. Haven't seen anyone that I'd be interested in following up on though. There are usually one or two.

On another note though - telly cricket season starts very soon ! Awesome !

Yep. I heard that groan. It's just like the one from the last entry (didn't catch who ! Malta up next). (oh - it was Ukraine, terrible song, not the way to put a poolitical message across)

Time to disappear now into maybe more buzzing around the galaxy.

Oh scary ! Big Disembodied Head ! Phew. She got her body back. Not many more left now.
(picture is from story at the link)

Again with the flashing light show ! Georgia have actually gone for a song that you might hear on the radio. Shoulda finished it off though.

If you don't hear from me again, I'll have been reduced to a dribbling photosensitive puddle courtesy of the various light shows.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Cookie Cutter Cometh

I think I need a bigger Internet Spaceship hangar.

Or hanger too as I just nearly typo'd there. That's such a common typo !

But before I go off on one about typo's ...
Shiny. And with a boarding ramp beckoning ...

Hangar :
Is something you put aircraft in to protect them from the weather.

Hanger :
Is something planes hang from.

Haha ! Enough of silliness ! Internet Spaceships ?

The picture above was of a brand new ship for me. So new, I haven't taken it out of the station yet. (I need more in game cash to fit it out properly). But I did take it out of the hangar with the intention of Cadburyising it :
That's not the Cutter, it's an Imperial Clipper that I actually still have. It's in mothballs in one of the other space stations. It's so pretty I wanted to keep it instead of stripping it for parts when part exchanging it for the next ship.

Yep. Finally finished that rank / reputation grind I've probably mentioned here a few times. No more having the game open in the background, occasionally hitting the "donate money" button when it was available. Nah. I had a good little session flying around the place doing missions in the Python called "Michonne's Wagon". If I get another Python it'll be named after Guido van Rossum, the inventor of that programming language.

(Name comes from the HeyChrissa stream. Michonne is the main character in something she'll play soon and Wagon comes from what they keep calling me - I go by the name SleepyDwagonman there and they keep calling me the Wagonman ... haha ! And Michonne is said very similarly to Mission, which has been the prime purpose of the Python)

The Imperial Cutter is going to be called the IMV (Imperial Merchant Vessel) Min Maxer, unless I find a better name for her when I get more cash. My trading vessels have all been named with various cookie related themes and Min Maxer combines Cookie Cutter with how that phrase is applied to gaming. The Cookie Cutter build is designed for a purpose, to beat a specific opponent. It protects against the attacks and attacks the weak spots. It minimizes certain elements, maximizes others.

I will Cadbury-ise it (make it partly purple !) at some point but the base screenie I grabbed didn't have the right lighting. Here it is :
As the Imperials say, it needs to bask in superior lighting.

The problem with making it purple is being able to select the ship, instead of the surroundings. I may try again later, selecting the ship with rubber band lines instead of the similar colour selection tool.

One thing that hits you in these games is a definite feeling of "Ok, job done, what next ?". I probably won't go back to Planetbase after completing the 4 planets (almost complete on the 1st) and getting all of the achievements.

With Elite, the plan is to set off in another ship, the "Fly You Cookies Fly !". It is an Asp Explorer and I'm going to set off around the populated systems bubble trading all of the rare items. I'm going to try the long range smuggling route as well. I may even ... set off around the galaxy in the Fly ...

Picture ?
Shiny gold ship is shiny.

Oh and I'm also trying to stop myself buying yet another game. It's called Stellaris and it's in the space strategy genre that I've enjoyed playing for a very long time. The sad thing about the genre is that there hasn't been much to come out to beat the ancient Moo 2. This one does look promising though.

But I will resist.

I will fly my Internet Spaceship around the galaxy. I will build colonies for the Planetbase Pixel People. And only then, will I look at putting those two together with Stellaris.

Enjoy the rest of your weekends !

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Software Choices

This might be a bit geeky today and for that I humbly apologise ... But I do hope you see some similarities here with choices you're likely going to be making with your various electronic bits and pieces.

I might have to do a few choices soon with the various bits of software I use at home, due to ... a couple of things actually. So what do I use ?

I have 4 main computing devices, an iPhone 5, an iPad Mini 2, a desktop PC running Windows and a Macbook Air running MacOS X. It's a fairly decent mix, although the iPhone is starting to run into its forced obsolescence and I might need to look into alternatives soon. Translation - the home button isn't working as it should and the battery connector is ... pretty unreliable.

The catalyst for my choices is a couple of happy messages :

The Firefox web browser on my Macbook deciding it wasn't going to update any more. This is pretty serious because the web is a pretty toxic place now. If the vulnerabilities are present and unpatched, you can be hit by so-called "drive by downloads" where you visit a site and pick up malware Nasties without realising it. The malware is usually not part of the site you visit, it's usually coming from the third party advertising on the site. And in the worst case, they'll happily start encrypting your files without you realising. So it's good to have a browser that's protected.

My Macbook Air is from 2013 and I still have it running the software it came with, MacOS X 10.8.5 Mountain Lion. I've seen no compelling reason to move to a newer version and have many compelling reasons to stick with 10.8.5. Apple are definitely people for the forced software obsolescence to drive you into buying more of their kit. It's as if they think that your money should really belong to them and them alone.

It doesn't work like that Mr Apple, you have to give me a product that is compelling enough for me to buy and that I think will be around until something significantly better comes along.

My Macbook is still going very strong after 2.5 years, the battery life is still a guaranteed 12 hours under fairly normal usage and it does (most of!) what I want it to do. It runs iTunes 10.7 constantly (see below), it looks after my email and I use it for my web browsing. It's failed to run the games (Planetbase, Elite and Darkest Dungeon attempted) but I don't use it for the games, that's the desktop's job.

The iTunes 10.7 thing is crucial. I exclusively use it to run a method called "iTunes DJ" where I pick an album and a few tracks from rules I have and iTunes DJ will suggest more random tracks to fill the gaps. It works well for me and rotates me through the music library without me having to exert brain cells on too many choices. Keeping that iTunes DJ is non-negotiable and I won't be updating the software until it's back in iTunes. The newer versions of iTunes are an abomination to use anyway compared to 10.7.

Of course it means I can't update the Macbook to newer versions of MacOS and I can't update the iPhone to newer versions because it will then refuse to talk to the 10.7.

That's the forced obsolescence working again. And it's likely to get me swapping back to Android again when my phone breaks.

How about the desktop ?

My desktop PC is 4.5 years old now and is still going strong, having had 2 new graphics cards since it was built. Development of PC bits has slowed to a crawl and it means the current machines just keep on going. This gives the whole PC industry a massive problem. How do we get the consumers to keep buying the product ? Forced software obsolescence again.

Windows XP worked fairly well for a while but ... remember back. It was a cantankerous old beast that didn't work too well when it did work, it hated to accept new hardware and it would often decide a part of it was broken and you couldn't fix that without a reinstall. And then MS broke it when Vista came out by making a disastrous change to the disk access.

To show how much XP got worse, I used to run it on 64MB machines. After a while, it needed 512MB minimum, preferably 1GB. That's a ridiculous amount of bloating. And you would need a SSD to run it on to mask that disastrous change to the disk access.

Windows 7 actually works really well.

(Although it has always refused to talk to my camera - grr-mutter-grr)

But ... and here's the big butt. Windows 10 is out there in all of its flawed development and misguided concept glory. It's currently free up until the end of July where MS will start expecting quite a few £££ for it. MS just updated their malware (the one that comes in disguised as a security update) to push their shoddy upgrade again.

What will happen to Windows 7 after the free upgrade period finishes ? Expectations are that it will have its support blighted as MS shifts emphasis over to its Windows 10.

So how will I be tackling these various software issues ?

The desktop will go to Windows 10 at some point. Not just yet. But before I have to pay money for it. There's just too much risk that I get left with an unusable or poorly performing system.

Note - if you do go to Windows 10, make sure to disable as much of the telemetry/spyware that comes with it as you can. There's a lot there.

The Macbook will stay on MacOS X 10.8.5. There's just too much risk that I get left with an unusable or poorly performing system if I update it. (Yep, deliberate copying there !). The problem with the newer MacOS X versions is that I've heard too many stories about Macs becoming unusable due to irreversible changes being made to the software. I see tales that their disc access becomes incredibly slow or their battery life gets hammered.

The Macbook works really well for me at the moment, the only reason I have to update it is to get more games running on it and ... that's what the desktop is for.

But how about that web browsing ? I'm getting around that by checking out a program called Waterfox. It's based on the Firefox browser but I'm hoping it combats a couple of issues I have with Firefox :

Firefox has memory leaks which make it crash after a while.
Firefox updates were going to finish on the Macbook next year.

The iPhone will stay on iOS6 (and a bit) because then it'll stay talking to iTunes 10.7 on the Macbook. The iPad is on iOS8 (and a bit) at the moment, should really update it to iOS9. The iPad talks to iTunes 12 on the desktop. I only use the desktop iTunes for a backup and for getting music off cds and into the Macbook, that's more than enough time with the abomination that is iTunes 12 for me.

Lesson - before blindly hitting that "upgrade" button, make sure you know the implications of it. See if there are alternatives that let you avoid the downsides.

I think I've rabbited on long enough for now though ! How's me ?

Tired after the traveling last weekend. It's so worth it but it does knock me out for the rest of the week.
Relieved that my insides are behaving better now, they really weren't happy with me at the start of the week and I don't know why. Better now.
Hoping my back doesn't decide to betray me ! I injured it as a teenage bowler, which left a weakness that can be triggered by something as simple as leaning over and twisting. Ouch.
Happy that my outsides are genuinely recovering now. Not long left now until I can stop worrying about them.

And now chilling out to the World Endurance Car race now, gaming videos on the desktop, music on the laptop later and another HeyChrissa stream tonight playing one of my old favourite games, Mass Effect.

The weekend is a good time to rest, recharge, do some of those neglected chores (the washing is about to come out of the machine) and regain strength for the week ahead.

And the sun is shining too !

Hope you all have a great weekend.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Defending England From The Molehill Of Unusual Size

I was off to see the parents again this weekend !

And this fella :
Yep. Ben being tough to get pictures of again. He'll give you lots of fuss but if he sees a camera, he's usually off somewhere else or otherwise hiding. Unless ...
You attract his attention or his almost one tracked mind has cottoned on to potential treats ... He has his people well trained this one does. Here he is exerting his telepathic mind powers (he doesn't have them but he doesn't realise that) on my mum.

Oh ! Mum's birthday this week, hence the reason for the family having a little gathering. They're still doing ok. Getting older as we all do but apart from that, we're still all good. I have my worries about them ... but that's not for here.
Ben's getting older too, here he is giving us big GO TO BED! hints as we stayed up late to watch a Cilla Black documentary. That lady had an awesome voice.
And the next morning demonstrating yet again that if you want to get a DoggyBowl super clean, just add bacon. The pooch will do the rest.
After all, it is his just reward for valiantly protecting us from the evil window cleaner people. Here he was, singing the song of his people (think woofwoofwoof dubstep style) and with a tail wagging so fiercely, he may have been about to start levitating. Ben protects with love, his weapon is the fierceness of his slurping.
And when Molehills* Of Extraordinary Size appear and super mutant moles appear to threaten the motherland ...

*It isn't a molehill, it's a delivery of soil that is being steadily transferred to veg patches in the back garden.
... Puppy Patrol is on hand to monitor the situation. Don't worry, England is safe from the threat of Moles Of Enormity. As is the grass from the threat of sun burn. Yep. Guard duty is all the better when there are sunbeams to soak up.
Ah ha ! The excitement of when the People return from the shops. Anything for Ben ?
Of course there was. But all that excitement tuckers out the poor pooch, here he is making the zzz's by my feet and giving that paw a rest from the stress of bouncing.
But what's this ? Is there potential for meatscraps ? Must fire up the Puppy Power of Mind Control again to transfer meatscraps from plates to doggybowl.
Full up pup is happy pup.
There is always room for more scraps, although here he is having just been told he must wait a whole 5 minutes for the next adverts before more treats may appear. Puppy does not understand human time.
But the time does come ... and that half starved image of a pooch barely able to lift his head is instantly transformed into one who is in one moment, graciously waiting (he does too, he was very gracious in the accepting of the meatscraps) and in the next, BOING. I think there was more in that parcel than just a little ham ... (It's how they sneak his painkiller tablets in to him).
And then rest. Look into those eyes ... give the puppy treats ... you know that is the right thing to do.
And a little more sunbathing. England is still safe from the Mole. I think Ben caught the Jasper Carrot sketch and it gave him ideas ...
As well as regally surveying the front of the house, Ben is also the master of his own backward. Here he is saying "Yes, this is my domain, no you will not find the bones." See that little half smirk ? He's put those bones somewhere we will never find them ... Archaeologists in the future will look at them in wonder ... what creature could this collection of bones have been ?
All good things come to an end though and it was time to say farewell to the family, mum, dad and the pooch.

Until the next time !