Sunday, December 31, 2017

And that's it for 2017

A good year I think.
And lots of treats yep to round it off with. Just around me there is loot from various places :

Green and Blacks mini-chocolates which I'm working my way through;
Half a bag of tasty strawberry bonbons - love these;
Half a bag of rock hard strawberry bonbons - not so much of a fan of these;
Remnants of dark chocolate digestives - won't last long;
3 blocks of pre-Brexit Toblerone - possibly my favourite chocolate;

And a few more treats too. They last a while because I've been doing better at rationing them out. (Should probably check my weight sometime - oops !)

A good year for me, although that's balanced by things going on with family at the moment which aren't for here. I am worried about them though.

The condition of my outsides has improved a lot and that's dominated my thoughts over the last few years. There's been significant improvement over the last few months, although it isn't actually fixed yet it does seem like it's moved into a healing mode. I have to help it out there though by .... not helping it out. It seems to have moved into a mode where it's getting better on its own, with interference making it worse.

Encouraging signs but still some way to go before I'm all better. I won't be playing cricket again any time soon though.

That's related to something I've come to realise over the past few weeks/months. I gave up the cricket due to a combination of two factors :

1 - My knees and outsides were too torn up to play and this got worse over the year or so after as well as my legs swelled up to scary levels.
2 - I thought my reactions had badly dulled with age ... but this looks like it was the after effects of a concussion that may have taken a few years to subside.

My first concussion was bad enough, it severely damaged my memory and I still feel the effects of that with slight difficulty in forming memories since then. I still have near perfect recall of events before then, although it does sometimes take a little effort to dredge up those memories. The second concussion affected my reactions though, adding a lag into what my brain was trying to do. That manifested in delayed reactions and I think it was affecting my judgment of speed while driving too.

It wasn't as far as me being unsafe (except on the cricket field) but it definitely shakes your personal confidence to know that something's very not right. Oh and even if my outsides do heal up in time for the season, my insides are now too battered to let me enjoy playing.

Haha, this was supposed to be a bit of a review of the year post, instead of a look back on stuff that's held me back. I think I have an appropriate picture :
Maybe not that one.
That's not it either although I think I have some nuts around.
There we go.

One reason this has been a much better year for me is the people around me. Confidence is up on last year and I need other people to give me that confidence. I am a critic of myself and it takes other people to remind me that I do have certain talents. Like the writing here, the writing of book that needs to happen sometime, the artist creative stuff where people seem to like the pictures I publish and modifications of pictures that I unleash on an unsuspecting world.


I've had a fun year on my own and while sharing that fun with other people. I've been shying away from the toxic ones and embracing those who are just amazing people. I'm being led by my own feelings instead of being dominated by others.

I'm happy with how things are going.

I will miss a few people though and there are too many of those to mention. (No it's actually because if I mention some, I will feel really guilty when I realise I've forgotten some very important people).

The important thing is though - have a great new year. May it be a fantastic prelude into an excellent 2018.

And I promise to post a little more too. After having some fallow weeks, I've enjoyed the daily nonsense that came out of the Advent posts. They were definitely complete randomness where I never knew what would emerge even 1 minute before I started typing but I enjoyed writing them hugely.

I need a similar meme for 2018 ....


Saturday, December 30, 2017

Sleep pattern ? What's one of those ?

I suspect a new discovery over the past few days is responsible for vastly disrupting my sleep pattern ...

Actually. Not suspect. Know. What is it ?
It's called Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms.

It's still playing through as I tap out this post. They're up to 693 trillion gold now with the next upgrade coming at 952 trillion gold. It isn't much of a game to be honest, which is a mystery as to why it's so addictive ! All you do is watch them bash the monsters, with Minsc the Ranger doing sterling service bashing at many monsters at a time and you tell them which upgrades to go for when and which heroes to have in the group to make sure you have all of the skills working together.

I don't know how long I'll stay with it but it has me hooked so far and I haven't resorted to the microtransactions yet. I had a dabble in Star Trek Timelines but that looks heavily dependent on microtransactions.

Games with microtransactions that I'm ok with :
The ones where it is not vital to progress that you give them money. You can shortcut the time needed in Idle Champions but the alternative is just to wait and let it play in the background while you do other things. Elite has microtransactions for paint packs and other addons ... these have zero bearing on progress, although they did open up one particular system to people who backed the game pre-release.

Games where I'm not ok with microtransactions :
Where the money unbalances progress in the game or gives people an unfair advantage. I felt ST Timelines was requiring the money just to play the basic game, to get around the issue of needing Chronitons to do anything with the game and those Chronitons needing time to build up. That's very wrong, although it does fit for occasional play Facebook or mobile type games where you have a little binge of play and then running out of credit means it's time to go away for a while.

I've never really got on with that type of game, I like my time management to be down to me instead of arbitrarily enforced by a game. Perhaps with my potential for addiction, the time management is a good thing. But I don't like it.

Besides, being stuck in a game for many hours on end is a bad thing, even if it's a background thing to things like watching the cricket, reading a book, watching videos or other activities.

Other games have the problem of you potentially being able to buy power within the game and get an unfair advantage that way. One reason I avoid Player vs Player type activities is because they are infested with sociopaths who can invest immense amounts of time (or money) into making their avatar as powerful as possible ... and these people will prey on those who just want a little fun in the games on their own terms.

I need to hit the sales as well at some point before going back to work on Thursday. Possibly Tuesday as I suspect the shops will be shut for New Years. I better check that before I repeat something from quite a few years ago !

I did wonder why I was the only person at the Mall that day ....

Thursday, December 28, 2017

In the books - Revenger

I really enjoyed reading this one.

It's called Revenger, the latest novel by Alastair Reynolds and the verdict ? After not getting on too well with his Chasm City, I'll be looking up more of his novels now.

It's a tale of a perhaps Firefly inspired solar system with space ships being a cross between what we'd expect and sailing ships of days long gone. With treasure hunting and piracy mixed in there as well.

Good book. I'd thoroughly recommend it. The central character is Fura Ness and as a young lady new to the ways of space and baubles and treasure hunting and piracy, she's a perfect narration character to draw you into a wonderful universe set up throughout the book.

You have technology ... but it's technology that's been handed down. Ancient works of art, death and tools for getting the people ahead in their travel through the world. Most of the technology is found on baubles, shielded worlds with ancient troves of goodies that are only open for short bursts of time, after which they close behind impenetrable barriers again.

It's 425 pages long and I'd quite happily still be reading it.

I think it'll be the first Expanse novel though. I should go book hunting at some point. I've intentionally avoided heading out over the past couple of days mostly to avoid the snow that came down. If you have no need to head out in wintry conditions, you shouldn't. The most important rule I've gone by is : Don't become the casualty. And heading out unnecessarily in conditions of snow and ice gives you a high chance of getting damage either to yourself or to what you're travelling in.

Oh and if you're on other people's transport (bus, train, air) there's the high chance of them deciding that they aren't going to be travelling ... in which case you're really stuck.

Nah. I may venture out tomorrow (I'm almost out of milk and have the pizza urge again ...) but I've been quite enjoying watching the cricket during the night and day too. Maybe pizza in the evening followed by Day 5 of the cricket up until lunch if I'm feeling ok and all day if I have the acid. The pattern at the moment is to start watching at 11.30, watch the pre-lunch session up until 1.30 and then head to bed and watch the rest in the morning.

It's been a good pattern.

But I've also been suffering from the insomnia again which makes me think of doing a reset in the form of an all nighter, which works out well in conjunction with pizza ...

We shall see !

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Day 27 and the After Advent

No Lego today sadly, although I am well overdue posting the results of a rather glorious build from a while ago.

That BB-8 is definitely tempting though. Very tempting.

I'm back home now and in probably the best time to travel back too. Here is the scene from about 2.30am last night :
(2.30am ? I have trouble sometimes cooling down after a long drive. My nerves and brain go on high alert watching out for all of the numpties who are about to do stupid things on the roads. The trick is to not be in the place where you end up being caught up in what they're doing).

That's maybe an inch of snow in a Bristol that rarely sees much snow, if any. The conditions travelling back were poor. Very heavy rain, continuously for the whole trip after getting to Leicester. It was a balmy 5 degrees C for the early part though, so it was coming down as rain instead of anything more slushy. It did touch 2 degrees C around Birmingham though.

I sense that if I'd attempted to travel today, then I'd have been turning around.

It's good to be home again, although it's also good to see the family again. We didn't get up to nearly as much as we usually would, due to ill health. And that's me too ! My outsides are much improved but there's still a fair way to go with them. It does help having lots of good munchies inside me though. I have pictures ... Which would probably upset all of the vegetarians who come here.

There's more going on there than I'd ever write here though.

Sad to hear about the Kate who was the subject of the Tips and Charity link up in the top right for a while. We lost Kate to breast cancer on Christmas Eve. I hope the kids will be ok. Kate was a lovely person.

I've been reading again ...

I've been meaning for ages to set up a second light in my main room, overlooking where I'm on the computer and where I'd be in my chair reading. After attempting to read in what my phone declared as 0 lux earlier (no detectable light) and just now as 2.0 lux, I figured it was time. That can't have been doing my eyes any good.

I do have a proper ceiling light in my room but it's never been the same since I switched it to a dimmer energy saving thing. With the extra light, I'm in a dazzling (hah yeah right) 80 lux if my head isn't in the way of the light.

Much better for reading Revenger by Alastair Reynolds, which I'm enjoying tremendously. I sense it's all going to come to a rapid conclusion but stories can be best if they're not drawn out. Some of the 500-600 page (or more!) novels feel stretched, this one is moving on at pace and I think I'll be acquiring more books from Mr Reynolds.

I still aim to hit 100 posts for the year ... I've been a bit lazy over most of this year. 3 more to go ! So that's .... Lego Star Destroyer, Lego BB-8 if that happens, music post ? I wonder what else.

Oh and that 2.30am was partly due to cricket watching too, which I totally intend to do again tonight :-D.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Happy Christmas everyone


Have a great day ! I'll be at the mum and dad's place still* but it's a good place to be.
*(The usual seasonal bugs, mum's maybe 10 days behind me in the progress of her cold and I'm still suffering a bit)

Yep. Hope you have a great day, stay warm :
Yep. They nearly escaped with me yesterday. And ...

Beware ...
Easter is coming.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Day 24 and definitely the droid you were looking for

Final day of the advent calendar ! What's in the box ...
Ok, the sleigh was yesterday but I think we found the driver.

It's a BB-8 ! With bobble hat ! And skis ! They definitely saved the best until last. And now I'm even more ... tempted? daftly curious? dangerously drawn to? the big Millennium Falcon.

The saving thing there is that the £650 Millennium Falcon is likely to be in short supply for a very long time. I must watch the build video again sometime soon.

I suspect the Lego kit that will escape at some point will be the big BB-8. I wonder if I have enough bits to make him a bobble hat as well.

I spotted something else that was close to disappearing with me from the local garden centre / farm shop place :
They're called Warmies and they're designed to work like hot water bottles, except they're solid inside and you heat them up in the microwave.

They have one in dragon form that may escape with me at some point. Maybe. We shall see !

I don't know if I'll keep up the post-a-day now that Advent is completed but we shall see. Xmas is going to be a quiet one this year. Illness has been catching up with us all so the trip to see the sister isn't happening now. (My back has decided it doesn't like me at the moment as well - grr).

A quiet Christmas is still a good Christmas though. It's a time to be around people who matter, to have a cosy relaxed time. And then you hopefully have a chance to see other friends as well afterwards too.

And maybe smuggle out Warmies for them.

Yep. To the online shop !

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Day 23 - the sleigh is warming up ...

At least, I think it's a sleigh ...
It's poised, ready to plough its way across the galaxy bringing presents and good cheer to all citizens, Rebel and Imperial alike.

Yep. Even smugglers.

I'm at the mum and dad's place now, we've settled in for a Xmas movie after a lovely dinner. What did we have ?
Yep. The ham was as tasty as it looks. Gert lush as they say in Bristol.

It's good to see the mum and dad again and we should be off to see the sister and her bloke and dogs tomorrow. More pictures then. If the internet cooperates. I'm a bit frustrated at the moment, this laptop is pretty good but there are a couple of flaws with it :

The keyboard is wonderful but is starting to struggle with age. It kinda needs a shake out to remove dust but ... where does the dust go ? It's a sealed case. There's only a way in for the dust and no easy way out.

The wifi is not good. I can get around this problem at home because (techie bit ...) 5 GHz wifi is perfect. 2.4GHz wifi is very poor. At home, I have different SSIDs for 2.4GHz and 5Ghz and the laptop never uses the 2.4GHz because I haven't told the laptop about it. But I can't split them out here like that. And the alternate solution of a Wifi USB widget has been nobbled by Apple who have deliberately stopped that 3rd party widget working.

The Macbook Air was a wonderful buy in 2013 but I won't be buying anything else from Apple due to their attitude on software ownership and how they don't believe in it. Nope. You're supposed to rebuy from them regularly when they obsolete your current kit that's still working perfectly well. Oh and they also have odd whims that are nothing to do with making the software better for users.

(It'll be a custom laptop probably from PC Specialist likely running a tbd flavour of Linux).

The film ? It's Battle of the Five Armies from the Hobbit sequence. A lot of spectacular, mindless action sequences sewn together by probably the last 20 odd pages of the book. A decent movie in its own way but .... too much battle, not enough story.

Still thinking about dinner the way this fella thinks about tennis balls :
Oh and tomorrow's final Advent pic is awesome.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Day 22 and we're walking ...

22nd Day of the Advent !

What's in the box ... what's in the BOX !
Aww ...

Cute little AT-ST walker. Needs to munch on some Ewoks to make him grow up big and strong. This makes me think of something I posted the other day ...
I've quite enjoyed the post a day format so far this month, although it is becoming a bit of a pull now to figure out stuff to say.

Perhaps that's partly down to being in the games instead of being around the people. People bring ideas, bring randomness that feed the ideas.

How is the game going ? I'm pretty sure this is a win now.
Mine are the Blood Red stain, spreading across the south side of the galaxy. I have a border to a Fallen Empire now, fighting those didn't go too well last time. The rest of the galaxy is banding together in an alliance in a vain attempt to stand against the Berserker horde. But that'll wait for a few days.

Back to the walkers !
I blew the dust off the big one especially. I have a mini AT-AT as well. Wouldn't mind having a decent sized AT-ST or AT-AT walker, although I'm not too keen on the new Last Jedi walker.

Back to watching Salvation for me ! It's a Netflix series about an asteroid threatening the Earth with extinction ... and our response. Intriguing ...

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Day 21 and a dedicated follower of Imperial Fashion

Another mini figure ! This time a definite follower of the fashion trend.

Black's in this year. I think he's either one of the engineer type people who run the consoles or he's a TIE fighter pilot.

Another easy day for me today. A few episodes of catch up telly in the morning and now I'm tapping this out while a few episodes of Salvation play in the background. In the middle, far too much excitement in the Stellaris game.

It's still fairly early days in that galaxy. It's getting into the early midgame where the wars are kicking off and federations are getting formed. The Purifiers are doing well so far (They should be, they demolished the opposition inside 50 years in the tiny galaxy game) but they have been taking a certain amount of losses which get rebuilt between wars.

What I didn't anticipate was the outcome of a decision made much earlier. As Fanatic Purifiers, the race views all creatures unlike itself as food. They take planets, they get the dinner plates out and eat the occupants. Perhaps like the Kzin in the Larry Niven Known Space universe.

It's a certain race style that adds its own advantages and some hefty disadvantages. The ships are better but the option to do diplomacy is totally removed. That's probably a bigger disadvantage than it seems, as it also means that all of the other races tend to gang together to stave off the big threat that is your race.

Ok ... what actually happened in that decision made earlier ?

Something they're steadily adding into the game is a series of random events. There's no guarantee that any of them appear in a game, in fact it's very unlikely. This time, it turned out that some of my race got modified and made smarter. Sounded great at the time ! And the change was rolled out to all of the planets in the Empire, except a couple of planets which were being colonised at the time.

But ... later on, another change got made to start the inhabitants of the Empire on their way to becoming Psionic. And they didn't like the inhabitants which had been made smarter ...

Oops. Half the Empire suddenly decides to eat the other half of the Empire.

It was a good lunch. And dinner.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Advent Day 20 and a speeder speeds across the ice

Day 20 !
I think it's a speeder !

I'm still having a real hankering for putting together a big lego set again. I like the building.

I'm watching the film Life at the moment, after breaking from Stellaris for some food. It's a scifi movie set in space, in the International Space Station, where the astronauts on board are checking out an alien life form that's been picked up by a space probe.

It didn't have a great reception when it first came out but I like to make my own mind up about films. So far it's .... ok. Not much more than that but we'll see how it develops.

The Stellaris game is developing nicely. I'm playing my Fanatic Purifiers again who have their own special challenge due to everyone hating them. With good reason too ... the Fanatic Purifiers are out to murder everyone. But they're also a spiritualistic kind of race, with the purpose of communing with Something beyond.

And the first war is coming very soon too ...

But not tonight. I'm going to attempt to keep to a fairly normal sleep schedule for the next few days, which means not speeding my brain up with gaming. Watching stuff is fine, playing stuff will mean I'm still playing the game behind my eyelids when I try to go to sleep.

And Life is building up too. Time to get the popcorn !

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Day 19 and creating the Xmas Dwagon

First up - Day 19 and what's in the Advent calendar !

Looks like a Tie Striker to chase the rebels away.

The Special Project I mentioned yesterday involves making a new avatar or two. What goes into these ? Lots of patience and photoshopping ... Here's the starting image :
Spot the use of an envelope to act as a constant colour backdrop (it's what I have to hand !) and a Nanoblock kit to raise the fella up a bit. In hindsight, a dotty object isn't the best idea but with liberal use of the Magic Selector (a thing that selects a block of colour), the Free Select Tool and the delete key, you can turn that into :
And you'll then want to trim the image down a fair bit and add an Alpha Channel to make the background transparent. This is the first layer of what I'm hoping to make.

Layers are very important. I'll have the fella above as the main layer and I'll add the rest as different layers. If you added everything on the same layer, then a mistake made would overwrite something you wanted to keep and then you're at the random mercies of the Undo button.

I want to add something from :
Yep. Dwagon's getting an Evil Cultist Snowmen jumper.

This isn't so much of a cut and paste on top ... I want to have it roughly matching the fella's top. Let's see ...
There we go. This image is two layers, source dwagon plus source Evil Cultist snowmen. The source Evil Cultist Snowmen layer will be deleted later. I just need something to be a source for the lovely Clone Stamp tool.
Part way done. Note the imperfections on the left hand side of the jumper as we look at it. Those will disappear later. I've missed a trick actually as there are a few bits of source image for the jumper that I'd like to make this a high quality effort. Bits of jumper trim, things like that.
A little bit of cutting, pasting, clone tooling and rotating and the sleeves are coming together. I'm not planning to do much more than that coverage.
I think it's almost there ? Don't you ? As well as finishing the sleeves, I've done a little bit of clicking with the Erase tool on various layers. The erase will only take away from the current layer, so with every click you expose more of the source picture underneath. Less jumper, more dwagon.

He could do with a scarf I think but that's probably beyond my photoshop skills. (Actually using the free tool GIMP).

I feel there should be a background. (It might appear overnight ... I've actually written most of this post on Monday!)

Oh and if you're thinking "That looks easy." You can do it too ! Go for it. GIMP is a free tool so all it needs is the hard bit of having an idea and a little patience. The undo button is there to get rid of mistakes and the zoom thing is there to make it easier.

Go for it !

Monday, December 18, 2017

Day 18 and a culprit emerges

I think Day 18 is showing us who shot up the space station ...
It's a Y Wing bomber ... lurking over the surface ...

Mall run for me tonight. I have a Special Project coming soon hopefully, if my creative skills are up to it. I actually have 2 Special Projects in mind and the one inspired the other.

We shall see what the result will be !

No help at the Mall tonight though. Bit disappointing actually ... The Bear workshop didn't seem to have much in the way of Xmas gear for bears. They had a little but ... not a great effort. I think they're missing out there.

My own Xmas jumper has been getting lots of admirers lately. People like the Evil Cultist Snowmen for some reason. Or is there a pattern in the flashing lights which is ... mesmerising them ...

No decent cards either, which was disappointing. I will see what the supermarket has to offer tomorrow evening. And then there's Bristol again as an ultimate fallback ! I know where there are good cards. Bit of a walk again maybe but that's ok. I need to go back in to return those destroyed shoes anyway.

I did get my sausage-inna-bun though. It's terrible for me but ... I like 'em. And there are more in the centre of Bristol !

Yep. Yet more motivation to head in there on Wednesday or Thursday.

Right - not much more of the Orville left. It's a fun start to what's been described as the eighth season of Star Trek Next Generation and I've been enjoying it so far.

And then ... what to have on in the background while I embark on the Special Projects ...

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Day 17 and Krennic's pilot is summoned for a rescue mission

Day 17 of Advent sees a hero arrive for an urgent mission :
Yesterday saw a shuttle arrive, today sees an officer of the Empire ready to be a keen pilot. What is his mission ? We shall see.

Feels odd at the moment. I think I'm partly in holiday mode, kicked off by a good afternoon in town on Friday. Only two more days at work to go until freedom for a little while. Looking forward to it ! (Although there is some stuff going on in the private side which has my thoughts but isn't going to be added here).

The current Elite storyline is progressing as well. We've seen the return of the Thargoids, an ancient alien menace. They were content for a while to just disable our ships and take a look before letting us go on our way again. More recently though, they've turned more aggressive and have started making a mess :
That's one of three stations that have been attacked and there are missions up to go and rescue as many people from them as can fit in your passenger cabins.

The damage is quite spectacular. If I'm feeling up to it (haven't yet and yesterday's session didn't last that long) then I'll make a video ...

It's even messier inside :
The station is in emergency mode, with lots of debris floating around inside (curiously rotating with the station but we'll not say too much about that). Also very hot in there so you have to be quick about getting in there and out again. It's a good little variation on what you can do in the game if you go looking for it.

Today has been mostly Motorsport Manager though. I've got my new team through a whole season now, possibly looking to get promoted this year but that'll need a bit of luck. It's kind of a rush to go up the division, as that lets me hire better drivers and designers. It also means my team won't fall too far behind the teams in that higher division.

I've been enjoying the two games over the weekend. Both Motorsport Manager as it takes a bit of thought and planning through the races to get your team winning (not just a good car) and in seeing new things in Elite.

Wonder if there is something interesting to discover in today's unveiling in the Humble bundle ...

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Advent Day 16 - Krennic is coming ...

Day 16 !
And it is the black Imperial shuttle of Director Krennic ...

If you haven't seen Rogue One yet, I'd thoroughly recommend it. That film definitely has its moments.

Gonna be a short one again because I'm still extremely tired and not really knowing what I'm doing yet (apart from chilling out and watching videos). Yesterday was fun though.

Not many more days left for work ! There is still stuff we have to do before the break but we've cleared off the Absolute Must Get Done stuff. Means we can make a head start on next year.

Yesterday was tiring though. Fun but tiring. Lots of walking on brand new shoes ! Definitely worth it though :-). We spent the afternoon wandering around a fair bit of Bristol city centre looking at shiny things. I think I'll be heading back there to hunt down Xmas cards.

Not today though. The rest of this evening is likely to be :

Lots of music to listen to.
Elite until I get tired. I'm going to do a rapid run over to an area attacked by aliens and do some rescuing.
More gaming videos. The ones queued up are for Stardew Valley, Stellaris and Factorio.

I have many Factorio videos lined up ...

Friday, December 15, 2017

Advent Day 15 and something mysterious in red

Day 15 !
What is it ? What could it be !

Hmm. Sometimes the answers come if you wait around a while. What do we see a little later ...
There we go. It's our Stormie again. He's finished fixing up the shooting range but his bosses aren't going to be happy until it's all shiny and clean again.

It's a cleaner/polisher thing !

If I get some energy up, I should follow Stormie's example and do some cleaning here. I am utterly exhausted though. I may sleep for the weekend ! Except there is cricket being recorded tonight and tomorrow night, so I'll wake up long enough to start the time delayed coverage and then that'll put me to sleep again.

Maybe some Elite Internet Spaceship piloting as well.

Later !

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Day 14 - a tooled up stormtrooper contemplates a challenging mission

Day 14 !

Another stormtrooper emerges. This one looks well geared up.
Where could they be sending him ? What threat has the Empire discerned ?

I think we know what it is. He is being sent into the domain of the :
Evil Cultist Snowmen.

Just look at them. Turn your back on them for a second and they'll steal the buttons off your shirt and the carrots off your plate.

Just look at the Happy one ! Far too happy. Definitely planning something.

Today was our work's Christmas do, which was good. Good food, good company, lovely wine (happily had help this time so I didn't have too much). I tend to disappear from these events fairly early these days though.

Watching Star Wars movies after seems to be becoming a tradition as well. It was unplanned last year with Rogue One, bit more planned this year with The Last Jedi.

What did I think of the film ? I'm not going to spoil, don't worry about that.

It keeps you wondering all the way through as to what direction it's going to go. Good film. Definitely enjoyed it. Whereas The Force Awakens was more about fan service and reawakening the franchise, this definitely marched the story on.

Spectacular action sequences, Leia being the heart as always and a tough character too. There's a new character brought in who is adorable, while other characters stir the emotions in different ways.

Great film. Will definitely see about finding an excuse to watch it again in the cinema.

Those snowmen though.

I think they have some form of mind control. It seems to be a very popular jumper. It was drawing all of the looks as I was walking through town today and a few comments too. The girls on the concession stand in the cinema loved it and wanted to know where I got it. I think the Evil Cultist Snowmen will be gathering an army of thralls to bear them.

In fact the voices are telling me I must wear this jumper tomorrow as well.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Day 13 - a lone speeder awaits

Day 13. Unlucky ? Maybe.

The latest door in the calendar held a speeder. A lone speeder.

What could it be waiting for ? Is there more to this scene ? Perhaps. Let's draw the camera back a bit.
It's the unlucky Stormtrooper again !

Has he been distracted by Ewoks while a Rebel jumps in and nicks his ride ? And what is the enigmatic wanderer doing back there.

Will we ever find out the purposes hidden behind that mask. How long will it stay a mystery ?

The luck has been a little odd today. And yesterday.

While I was walking home, I was feeling my shoes get ever worse ... Yep. The new ones that were acquired only a month ago. When I got home, had a look inside, discovered ... they are ex-shoes. The heels on both sides have been thoroughly destroyed. I don't think I give my shoes a particular pounding ... Yet they only lasted a month where I'd expect a few years.

I'm due to be in town on Friday so after enjoying meeting up with someone lovely there, I'll be hunting refunds and new shoes.

Today was the turn of electronic things ... And a little work but I keep work away from here. The score, if you could call it that was 4-1. 4 major tasks complete, 1 major task frustrated. I like to have it at the 5-0 end. Failing at anything is something I find annoying, especially when it isn't due to anything I've done. If I fail, I can own that failure and figure out how to not fail next time.

Electronics ? Beware the new Windows 10 update. Hey wait ! ALWAYS beware the new Windows update. This time it stopped BOINC from letting SETI and Milkyway run sums with my graphics card (it helps add heat to the room). And broke the sidebar gadgets ... again.

All hopefully fixed now, although I haven't opened any games since letting it update this evening.

Fingers crossed it's all ok ...

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Day 12 and you came in that thing ? You're braver than I thought

Day 12 and an old favourite !
I suspect it's the Falcon today due to a connection with a certain number of parsecs.

Parsecs are a measure of distance and the saying in Star Wars has already attracted a certain amount of ridicule because it's taken as a "The Falcon did this quickly !" thing. And a race is over a set distance isn't it ?

I'm on the non-ridicule side of the argument. They're talking about the Kessel Run, which is to a spice mining outpost that's near a cluster of black holes. To get through safely, you'd need to plot a circuitous course through all of the black holes. You couldn't go direct cos you'd get caught in the event horizons. But you could get close .... closer depending on how quick you were going and whether the engines gave the thrust to mass to let you escape.

So saying that a ship could do the run in less distance in this case is a valid boast.

Although saying that, I firmly believe that the writers of the boast know very little about why it might be a valid boast and were just thinking "Parsecs ! That sounds cool. We'll use it." A lot of Star Wars dialogue is insanely dumb like that.

But they do have cool ships and the Falcon is perhaps the coolest of the lot.

I now have 3x Falcons ... The tiny one above;
A slightly bigger one that indulges in extreme manoeuvres occasionally (not any more, the advent calendar door holding it there gave up the fight and let it fall). This one is my oldest Falcon.

And ....
A somewhat larger Falcon that I thoroughly enjoyed building.

There is another Falcon that isn't in my collection yet.

Did I say yet ? Hmm. I did say yet. Ominous ....

Anyone wanna get me this ? See something marvellous at the link. Yep. That would be particularly awesome.

I shall now go away and dream of the largest lego set.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Advent Day 11 - A Horse In a Land Not A Kingdom

What was that old saying ?
A horse ! A horse ! My kingdom for a horse !

I think he's in the wrong universe, unless he has an empire to give away.

I watched the Force Awakens again tonight. The two newest Star Wars films are amazing, in different ways. It's maybe the 5th time I've watched this one ? It's still an excellent film.

It starts out slowly, gently, steadily drawing the viewer back into the universe. You have the pilot, you have the stormtrooper, you have the scavenger. Gotta say I love the character of Rey. The basis of the character had its criticisms (mainly in the minds of backwards people who balk at a girl being able to do all that) but for me she makes sense.

The character is a scavenger, growing up amongst strange machines, unusual equipment and harsh conditions. So she's learned how to make starships work and how to look out for herself.

It's a great character.

Looking forwards to seeing more of the new Star Wars, possibly on Thursday if things work out in town.

One thing about the cinema, it is definitely far more plug n play than home entertainment can be. I may have to look more at upgrading the telly ... I have :

Samsung telly. Bit crude but still does the job with showing the pictures. Bit small though at I think 32", I'd like something bigger.
Panasonic bluray player. A very competent device.
Onkyo AV amplifier connecting them together and doing the sound.

I think the amplifier has had issues since I got it, or it could be the telly confusing the link between the three items. They all hook up via HDMI, which has trust issues ... All those copying pirates led to copy protection going into systems where it doesn't belong and I think the telly confuses that copy protection trust link. Anyway. It had trouble with those trust issues tonight but I fixed it with the simple thing of taking the lead out and putting it back in again.

The amp is happily playing music now that the film is finished. It makes excellent music. Can't remember when I bought it .... years ago ! It has definitely given its money's worth.

May all our devices do that !

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Day 10 - a figure in a snow covered wilderness

Day 10 sees a wanderer arrive.
Or is he travelling. Where is he headed ? Is it even a male wanderer under that garb and mask ? Does their species even have male and female ?

So many assumptions, so many questions.

It's snowing here at the moment. Actually coming down reasonably snowy but the ground is far too wet for it to stick. Could be an icy walk to the bus stop tomorrow and I'll have to make a sleepy assessment as to whether I walk over there in my boots or normal shoes. It's turning to something closer to icy rain at the moment. Not too good to be out in, it's weather to guarantee misery and wet.

My work shoes are fairly decent for grip on the soles, now that I've mostly worn them flat. That was odd ... when I got them, the grips were uneven, it felt like half the sole was a few millimeters different from the rest, which was leading to odd balancing being needed. Apart from that, I like these shoes. My ankles normally get shredded by new shoes, these have been ok and my ankles have been allowed to continue healing. There's still damage to repair though.

Today will be another day of chilling out and occasionally looking out the window to see if things have gone white yet. Other parts of the country have had serious snowfall. I've seen a pic of a place near where my sister lives and it's a traffic pile up on one of the major roads. It never usually gets that bad here.

But there is a group of intrepid sailors who are sailing into even worse conditions :
This is from the inshore leg as the fleet was leaving Cape Town this morning. Fairly close racing but I suspect they didn't want to get too crazy considering that they'll be heading for the Southern Ocean where there is no land mass to act as a break on the seas down there. Reports are of 12m waves, which will dwarf these racing yachts. And ...
That's where they're headed and that angry red circle of a weather depression will lead to very challenging conditions.

I'll be following the racing again and two boats in particular. Turn The Tide On Plastic (TTOP) is skippered by Dee Caffari who I was listening to for the start of the last Vendee Globe and she had a gift there of explaining everything that was going on in a style that made it easy for this novice to understand. And the other boat I'm following is Scallywag (SHKS) skippered by another Brit.

May the Brits rule the waves again !

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Advent Day 9 - Urgent delivery

Day 9 sees a transport arrive. Or go zoom.
Where is it headed I wonder ? What could it have seen ? Is it being chased by the Stormtrooper ?

A mystery of ages.

Today's post is a bit of a cautionary note ... If you see something appear on your computer like "YOUR MAC IS INFECTED CLICK HERE TO SORT!" ... don't click on any of the links on the page. They will likely infect your computer with something horrific.

Instead, note down stuff on the page if you think it'll do any good later, check the web address as well. If it's something sensible like Something.Apple.Com, then think about checking it out. And then don't.

I saw a web address of lots of numbers and then something (I can remember the letters but I'm not posting them here) and hit the back button on the machine. And then installed Malwarebytes and asked it to do a scan.

(No threats found happily)

I'll look into using one of my Bitdefender licences on there as well but I really want to avoid using Bitdefender. I'll definitely not be renewing the licence when it expires in half a year. Why ? Because I bought it in the hope of getting antivirus without having constant pop ups and entreatings to send money their way and .... after only about a month I was being asked to upgrade and it has interrupted what I've been doing several times since with more unwanted ads.

I'll send the money elsewhere next time around.

By the way, the site I clicked on was Statcounter and I think it was an advert that redirected the browser to the page with the infection warning. I've turned Adblock back on now for Statcounter. It won't be turned off again.

So by allowing an infected ad through, Statcounter have lost their ad revenue from me.
For giving me advertising popups, Bitdefender lose their business from me next year.

Be careful on the internet folks ! And don't panic if something unexpected happens.

There may be stormtroopers out there with guns and you might get shot while they're aiming at something completely different.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Advent Day 8 - Stormie has to do chores

Day 8 has arrived .... and I think we know why Stormie was so angry ...
His gun has been locked away in the Basket of Things That Fix Stuff and he has to fix all the damage to the shooting range before he gets it back.

Stormtroopers and their guns. No self control. Like people in bathrooms. How do they arrange things in those suits of armour anyway ? And ...
Darth Vader has a volcano lair ... Beware !

I can't remember where I got that photo. I have a funny feeling it's a good friend on that selfie and it's from their facebook. Great sense of humour to it anyway.

I'm hoping for a quiet start of the weekend to regain some energy before some fun on Sunday cruising round the Bristol Harbourside market. Should be good. Not many more working days now until Xmas leave begins ! I'm actually contemplating starting that a bit sooner but we shall see. Almost all of the tasks that need to be done this year are sorted, which means we'll get cracking on next year's stuff a bit earlier.

There will be some Motorsport Manager, my team has won its first race ... We won't win the championship this year, I'm still building the team up. But they'll hopefully be near the front consistently next year. 2 more races to go.

I will be flying amongst the distant stars in Elite ... it's a good chill out game.

And I have a game started in Stellaris too ...

Chill out commences imminently with Return of the Jedi !

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Day 7 - STORMIES !

Another mini figure today :
The stormtrooper stands. Arms, upraised.

What could have attracted his ire ? Are the arms raised in anger ? Or in a plea ? Could this be the stormtrooper who did not find the droids he was looking for ?
Did he have ex squadmates on the battlestation ? Family even ?
Could it be .... he is cursing his luck at his chosen career and just wants some sleep ?
No. I know what it is.
Stormie wants my pizza. Those arms are not raised in outrage, they are a sign of extreme hunger.

Yep. Pizza today. It was lush.