Monday, January 31, 2011

Pre Raid checklist

Let's see :

Dinner eaten - check
In game munchie stockpile - got plenty
In game booster stockpile - got enough
Out of game munchie stockpile - sorted by Tesco trip
Home in time to not rush - extraordinarily yes
Chair hit with hammer - yes
Drinkies - sorted
Uninterrupted time ? - hope so
Internet connection - seems fine
Tactics read - yes but I know I'll forget before raid time

I know I'm forgetting something ...

Oh - better disappear to disconnect phone from wall and turn the mobile off.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Just finished : Titanicus

Scratch off another one for the A to Z :-)

This time it was Titanicus by Dan Abnett. It's set in the Warhammer 40k universe but whereas the others go for a mere mortal scale with flesh and bone and superhuman enhancement, this one looks into the world of the Titan. These are 80 meter tall machines along the lines of the war machines in HG Wells' War of the Worlds. Except the War of the Worlds machines would be not fit to lace up the boots (or tighten its nuts) of one of these monsters.

And it's not just a couple of these monster machines, the initial pages tells of 174 that have arrived on the hive world of Orestes for pillage, murder and all those other things that come with an insane army that worships evil gods of Murder, Disease, Pleasure and Change.

At 600 pages, it's a fairly medium length book that keeps the action going through vignette engagements early on that bring home the mismatch between God Machine and mere mortal soldier. Later on, the Imperial relief forces arrive and start their Execution (campaign to take on those 174 engines). Weaved in, there is plenty here that shows the perspective of the Mechanicus (the engineers of the Imperium) and how the rest of the Imperium sees them. They all seem like good well adjusted people too, which is definitely not the impression you get from reading of the Space Marines.

We even have a little bit of intrigue coming in too, although I was left a little nonplussed by the reason for that. Seemed a bit like padding that distracted from the other heroes that grace the pages here.

I tend to judge a book by how quickly I run through it and I got through these 600 pages quite quickly. It's good stuff and essential reading for anyone who's interested in the Warhammer 40k universe. The action defocuses at times but then again, that also brings across a sense of how the Engine people see it as they have to cope with the imperfect conditions of the battlefield.

Will I read it again at some point ? Quite possibly, although it's not right at the high standards of a Heinlein or Niven book.

Would I recommend it ? People who haven't had the Warhammer 40k introduction, go for another 40k book so you're not lost in all the Imperium, Mechanicus, Magistratum, Astartes etcetcetc terms.

If you already know what the four terms in the last paragraph mean, you need to read this book. Nuff said. Now, what's next ?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Return of the Blip

Something that's caused me a lot of frustration over the last few months is the new sound system.

Don't get me wrong - the sound quality out of it is awesome. It's been a massive upgrade over what I had before. There's just one small issue - when watching dvd's, there will at random intervals be a break in sound for about a second or so.

So - what do I know ?

Music plays back 100% fine. This comes in through an optical fibre link via network streaming. I'll have this going for many hours at a run, which proves there's nothing wrong with the main circuits of the amplifier. I.e. it's not an overheating thing.
Blu ray discs (I believe) play back just fine. And they look and sound awesome. Lossless DTS Master Audio is as good as it's going to get. The sound field makes 2d feel like 3d.

I say believe there because I can't remember (not) hearing the audio silence blip. Much more research required there I think.

Where's it going wrong ? I firmly believe now it's a dvd only problem. It's been happening over multiple discs, like several Babylon 5 dvds, Titan AE, Attack of the Clones. The list goes on and I don't believe there's a link as the quality of the material is both at the high end and the low end.

High end - Attack of the Clones is as high quality a dvd (in terms of production) as it's going to get.
Low end - Babylon 5 was a decent series but the quality of transfer to dvd is very, very patchy (more below)

What have I tried lately ?

New firmware in the blu-ray drive. Firmware is the instructions that's buried in most electronics. It's the electronics that Make Things Go. I'd been holding off on this because I didn't want the new firmware to cause more trouble but I've finally bitten the bullet.
Reset to factory settings. It's always worth a shot.
A Plan B. This means using a different cable to take the sound. Tried it - the quality difference is noticeable though. Sound through HDMI is crystal clear, whereas sound through the old style link seems muffled somehow.
Disabling all the Clever Stuff. This is the fanciness that turns on the TV or amp with the blu-ray player. However, one possible cause is "HDMI handshake" problems, where the blu-ray player and amp have an argument over what they can both do. Result - a second or so of confusion.

Next in mind is to use my Xbox360 as a dvd player. That will send the picture & sound via HDMI, the path that doesn't work so well with the blu-ray player. This will prove once and for all whether the problem is in the amp or the player. I reckon it's the player having issues with dvd, seeing as I believe blu-ray discs are ok.

I'm currently testing things out by watching a few Babylon 5 episodes, which brings me back to that More Later.

The script and story quality is very good with Babylon 5. The CGI was years ahead of its time and still comes over pretty well on a High Def screen. It's very crude by the standards of today's telly and definitely today's games but still looks good. What's surprising is the quality of the live action camera scenes. Most of the scenes are sharp but there's a few where the high def shows up a huge amount of noise in the transfer. Things like the noise turning up as background snow in the image and sound that's "not quite right". It's definitely Babylon 5 because I don't see it in anything else.

Ahhh - more research required. Which means more watching of Babylon 5 episodes, hoping that the new firmware has cleaned up the sound. If not, the next steps are :

Watching a few episodes with the lesser quality audio
Watching episodes via the Xbox
Researching which 3d capable blu-ray player to buy

I hear growling noises ... Time for munchies !

PS I could comment on "blip count so far" but my superstitious side is telling me that as soon as I do, the blips will start up again.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Surviving with a little help

There's a quote by the late Robert Heinlein (and by lots of others too) :

"What a wonderful world it is that has girls in it"

I'm struggling at the moment, through the after effects of things like new shoes, the cold and the various long term niggles that I carry around with me. I try to keep my shoes going as long as I can, because I know that when I do change, there will be a few weeks where they will dig holes in the back of my feet (achilles area). Gets a bit sore and distracting. I have other niggles too, like the continuing saga of the audio blips on the amp ... (they're still happening but I have progress and an idea).

So - struggling on the whole but surviving with a little help. Where's the help coming from ? Well, I wanted to give a special mention to the online people, which brings me back to that quote ...

When I'm in Warcraft, there's often calls of "Ice - come on Mumble". "Ice" is my nickname to the Warcraft people, short for Iceangel. Mumble is the voice chat software we use when people in the guild are doing things together. Usually that's instanced dungeons where 5 of us will team up to spank the bad guys. Or there's just generally kicking back and having a natter.

I've been very lucky in that when the guild on The Maelstrom server broke up, I was welcomed into the Violence Reborn guild as they moved to a different server. The core of VR is Swedish although, as is the norm for online game guilds, it has turned truly multinational. We're all Horde out for a good time. We also stick by each other, which can be tough when you start getting involved with the wider WoW community (think toys escaping from prams). We have fun with our mistakes, whereas people picked up at random just leg it or get an "it's not my fault, must be your's" attitude which isn't helpful.

The blokes in the guild tend to be fairly quiet (although if you start talking WoW Theory, they turn Juggernaut), it's the ladies who make the guild what it is. It starts with the Swedish accents. But it's mainly the free spirited, uninhibited Wanna Have Fun attitude they bring in. They don't take things too seriously, never forgetting that it's a game and games are supposed to be Fun.

They'll quite happily drag the boys along with them too. There's two cases recently where I had the privilege to be included :

Instance run with Shidra and Alex. Alex was being a bit quiet, this was the Shidra show. There was me, trying to learn the place we were in and the rest of the group were nattering away as if they were wanting to get the words out before rationing came in. And it was insane too. I started grinning early and by the end of the activities, I couldn't help myself, the Cheshire Cat Grin and laughter was threatening to turn my noggin into a Flip Top Head.

The other one is just the other night, which starts with an "Alex is singing on Mumble" in guild chat. Gotta check that out, so I join the voice comms server. Within minutes, I'm grinning from ear to ear again and laughing along with the rest of 'em. And that "drag the boys along with them" thing ? Yep. Couldn't help myself, I joined in late with the singing too. And my mic headset is so dusty from disuse, I have to get Rentokil out to fight off the Dust Bunnies before I let it near my head.

A little laughter is good for the soul, so you can probably imagine the boost that comes from being involved in this select group of people.

The Mercs had one or two ladies around too, although they tended not to stay too long. I suspect they didn't want to stay around because of some of the drama the guild had (some of which was centred around me !). Caira was pretty special though, would love to know how Caira & Auraka are doing now.

It's not just in game though. It's the people on Facebook and the people at work. I still seem to be a favourite of the Canteen Girls (although that has implications on my waistline). I've been lucky with work as well as with the VR people, it's a pressure project but we all pull together to get through the work and solve the problems. There's one of us who's trying to give up smoking at the moment ... I'm passing on tubes of mints (I keep 'em to moderate excess stomach acid) to help her beat the cravings. She's probably through half my supply by now but if it helps liberate her from smoking, it'll be so Worth It.

Wait ... Why am I still writing this blog post when I could be in game seeing what the VR Girls are up to ? Cya !

PS English is the second language for a lot of the VR people, they tend to talk in Swedish in places like Facebook. Which is where Google Translate comes in ... It doesn't translate everything but it does a great job. Oh - and even though it's a second language, their English is far better than some of what I read and hear from people born and raised in this country ...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Just finished with : Red Mars

I think I have a new trend starting - abandoning books ...

But that's happened twice now over the last couple of months. I think my fixation with David Weber has been broken by a certain Jack Campbell. On the one hand, you have David Weber who is occasionally brilliant with well structured and decently paced books. However, there's also the David Weber who buries the good stuff in his books in a mire of non-interesting, non-important filler. I gave up on Shadow of Saganami after 300 pages out of a 1000 and I don't think I'll go back to it.

That's one danger of spoilers actually. The giving up with it was born partly out of looking at the sneak preview chapter at the back which is taken from the next book and then me looking up some of that in wiki. Because of that, I have a synopsis of this book and the next, without having to wade through the filler. After 300 pages, nothing had really happened.

On the other hand, there's the Jack Campbell set of 6 books which I raced my way through. They're about 350 pages in each, all structured around Big Fleet action happening in a star system as the Lost Fleet is making its way through. And by Big Fleet, there's several hundred warships in this Lost Fleet. These books keep it simple and the filler is kept to an absolute minimum. Combined with the star system based action, that means the pacing is excellent. Hopefully there will be more to come from this one.

Hey ! How about this Red Mars book ?

It's part of a trilogy of about 5 parts (where've we heard that before ?) by Kim Stanley Robinson. You can tell there's a huge amount of research gone into this trilogy in the engineering and planetology detail that forms its core. There's a lot of good stuff here and it hangs together well with the "could this work ?" feeling always being positive. However ... a good story has a beginning, a middle and an end. Occasionally a bit of the middle gets shunted to the start to kick start the beginning.

What KSR forgets is that End thing. Red Mars ends with an excellent cliff hanger and from what I remember of Green Mars, that ends well too. The last book is a major disappointment though, as it's a collection of travelogues inside the KSR Mars solar system. There's no real End here, although you could say that's the point in a Life Goes On kind of way. However, it feels like the trilogy could have finished after 2.5 books as the last is mostly filler with the Actual Story Detector reading negative all the way.

Anyway, I've given up on this one because :
a) I've read it before (and enjoyed it)
b) There's better Mars books (will read the Ben Bova one again sometime)
c) I could see the travelogue signs creeping into Red Mars

There's the conflict between wanting to know what happens in it and not particularly wanting the tedium of finding out. That's one reason I read a few books in between attempting a Turtledove WorldWar book. I'll put this one in the A to Z but it may well get replaced by something like Return To Mars or something else beginning with R.

Next book is Titanicus by Dan Abnett, where the God Machines walk on Orestes. It'll be the second book I've read by Dan Abnett but whereas the first was centred around the humble Imperial Guard, this one tackles the opposite end of the scale where you have huge war engines 100m tall striding across the battlefield.

I started it last night and am already well over a hundred pages in.

Right - I have a job to do and it'll involve raiding a village under attack to recover supplies.
Will Raid For :
Mini Eggs
Or to listen to the Hot Swedish Girls.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sleepypete 1 Headlight 0

Busyish evening tonight.

I've known since last Thursday that I had a duff headlight, thanks to the only Brizzle driver to let me know with a flash of his lights. But I've not really had a good opportunity to get it fixed until tonight. So the plan is hatched :

Nip over to the Mall.
Have a peek in Bristol Honda at their CR-Z car
Acquire a headlight bulb from Halfords
Have a rummage in the shops

The snow around here has turned into lots of dampness (I could hear the rain over Suzanne Vega's 99.9 degrees F album) so another Cunning Plan (tm) gets hatched.

And yes - the person who just went "OH NO !" and hid at the mention of a Sleepypete Cunning Plan, I heard you and I have my eye on you.

Not that cunning actually. More a means of getting a headlight bulb changed where there's decent light and something over my head. That's right, the downstairs car park at the Mall. Sheltered from the wind too, as close to garage conditions as I'm likely to get. Headlight changing is boring so I'm not going to say much about it, let's just say that many of the swear words in common use today were invented during jobs like this.

Modern car engineering can be summed up as :
1 - Everything is crammed in to save space
2 - Things are designed to stay put
3 - Things are not supposed to be removed
4 - Owners should not question "£10 for part, £50 to fit" bills

2 and 3 combined to make changing simple stuff an exercise in frustration as you're putting it back together. Add in number 1 in that list and you have a recipe for bruises. Still, the Focus is much easier to work on than the Puma. I'm very glad none of the bulbs blew on the Puma as I didn't have a clue how to get in to where it kept its bulbs.

Next car ? I have the nagging feeling that the Focus is at the top of its Long Slippery Downhill. You know, the time when something mechanical has been running perfectly until ... And then the problems start piling up. The signal this time has been the inlet manifold last year, which took the car off the road for about 3 weeks before it was fixed. It's done about 62k miles so I should have at least another couple of years out of it. Definitely another few months because there's still a loan outstanding on it.

Meh - rambling again. The Honda CR-Z is looking like the favourite at the moment ... My favoured cars tend to be those that fit around the driver like a glove. They'll subtly let the driver know what's going to happen before it does and will obey their every command with the minimum of fuss. The Puma was great for this, a taut, light chassis and responsive engine made for a leather glove of a car. The Focus has more power but is also heavier ... Think boxing glove ... (Nah - that's unfair, think batting glove)

The Honda looks fairly promising and would definitely satisfy the geekiness being a hybrid. The nagging drawbacks though are :

Underpowered - 0 to 60 is quoted as 10 secs. I'm used to better.
(Puma was 9 secs, my Focus is 8)
Chunky - good for that "glove" feeling but ...
Cramped - I didn't get the chance to look in the boot but I reckon it'll fail the golf club test*
Would entail that "just driven off the forecourt" 50% loss of value

*Golf Club Test : Can you fit a golf bag in without having the back seats down. I've not had my golf clubs out for years but I still think it's a good test. When I was looking at the Mazda RX-8, it got vetoed because it would have been downright evil to get a cricket bag out of ... (Let alone shopping or tellies)

Oh - any trip to the Mall usually ends up as an excuse to wander around there for a while hunting bargains. (And shoes, although I ended up disappointed there AGAIN). It does cost less to buy things like blu-rays and music online but there's something about hunting through looking to see what's on offer. I much prefer scanning shelves to clicking "next" a hundred times on A N Other online shop.

Iron Man 1 and Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr version) escaped from a shop today. Iron Man's a blu-ray upgrade, as I know someone who's wanting to pick it up on dvd ...

So - headlight fixed, potential next car checked out (jury's out). Now chilling out to music, listening to a few randoms before Queen's A Night At The Opera (the album where Bohemian Rhapsody is not the best track ...) comes on :-) Since zeroing the play counts, iTunes seems to be turning into a fan of :

Iron Maiden, Little Boots, Chris Rea, Gloria Estefan, Murray Gold ... Must weave some Kate Bush, Alisha's Attic and Goldfrapp into that mix.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Blip blip blip - ARG !

Looks like an old problem could be back :

Sound issues ...

The link is what I wrote about it before but the summary is that every few minutes (at worst), there'd be a blip of a second or less where the soundtrack on a dvd would go silent through the new kit.

Thought I'd cracked it by switching to a couple of good HDMI cables but it seems to be back. Ho hum. I suspect it's me fixing another connectivity issue that's resurrected this one, so I'll be managing 2 evils :

1 - silent blips in soundtrack
2 - headscratching over how to get blu-ray player to talk to amp to talk to telly.

The combination will occasionally refuse to connect blu-ray player to amplifier and I suspect fixing that (amp getting confused over which inputs to use) has caused this one. I've done some tweakin' with the software setups and I'm now doing the evaluation thing again, listening out for those silent blips. 1 Babylon 5 episode so far and no blips. Good sign.

Telly off air (except the Ashes !) has been very bare of stuff to watch lately, so I've fallen back on rewatching some old stuff. The 1990s saw some absolutely brilliant episodic sci-fi come to the telly, some of which was so good it got ripped off and retreaded into things like Star Trek. (Deep Space 9 continually ripped off Babylon 5 stories and arcs).

The current catch up is Babylon 5, which spanned 5 series and a heap of TV movies. There was an attempt at a spin off, called B5 Crusade which got killed off due to the networks being numpties. Too much interference and when they didn't get their own way, B5 Crusade was killed off just as it was starting to ramp up.

Anyway ... Babylon 5. It's about a space station named after the series, which is a melting pot for all of the various races inhabiting the universe the series is set in. It's blessed with a series of strong characters and there's enough scope in the writing to inject snippets of humour into the interactions between those characters. It was made between 1994 and 1998 on a shoestring budget, so there wasn't the ability to use Star Trek quality visuals in the programme. In the early days, it was a farm of Amiga computers generating all the images. Saying that though, what they do with the visuals is startlingly impressive.

Low tech can beat high tech if you know what you're doing.

And they definitely knew what they were doing. B5 was the first sci fi series to have a Grand Plan covering what they intended to put on screen. It was originally scheduled to run 5 series (110 episodes), however the networks interfered and the main storyline got squished into 4.

Right - one of the better episodes of season 1 is ramping up so I'll get back to "evaluating" :-) Babylon 5 : second best scifi series of the past few decades. I'd be watching the best (Farscape) if my sister didn't have some of its dvds !

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

A to Z on books

A couple of years ago, I tried one of the challenges that wings it's way around the blogosphere. It was an A to Z on books challenge and a fairly tough one, looking for 52 books to read in a year. Here's how I did.

I got about half way through both the A to Z on authors and A to Z on titles. Figured it would be fun to try again this year, although I'm going to make it easier by just going for 26 books, with the A to Z being titles and authors. One book every fortnight should be doable with the cricket and gaming providing big distractions :-)

I'll keep this post as a running tally, with the labels helping me keep track. I'm through 3 books already :

A - for (Dan) Abnett - First And Only (added Jan)
B - for (Jim) Butcher - Storm Front (added Feb)
C -
D - for (Aaron) Dembski-Bowden - Helsreach (added Feb)
E - for Exiles Trilogy by Ben Bova (added May)
F - for Feersum Endjinn by Iain M Banks (added Jan)
G - for Ghostmaker by Dan Abnett (added May)
H - for (Simon) Hughes - A Lot of Hard Yakka (added Jan)
I - for Inversions by Iain M Banks (added April)
J -
K -
L -
M -
N -
O -
P -
Q -
R - for Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson (partial in Jan)
S - for Surface Detail by Iain M Banks (added June)
T - for Titanicus by Dan Abnett (added Jan)
U - for (HMS) Ulysses by Alistair MacLean (added May)
V -
W - for (Chris) Wraight, author of Battle of the Fang (added September)
X -
Y - for (Charles) Yu, author of How To Survive In A Science Fictional Universe (added August)
Z -

The Iain M Banks book was fairly tough to get through, mainly cos I didn't really know when it was going to get good. It meandered badly through the early stages and finished itself off in an awful rush. Not his best. Hopefully Surface Detail will be better, I'll be looking to pick that up when it comes out in paperback later in the year.

First And Only is from an omnibus book called The Founding by Dan Abnett. It's set in the brutal Warhammer 40k universe and tells the story of an Imperial Guard regiment that just escaped when it's world was taken by Chaos. I was impressed enough with this one that after finishing the first book inside, I've ordered a couple more from Amazon after being disappointed with the appallingly low stock at Waterstones.

(The high street retailers will certainly fail if they don't stock what we want to buy)

I've been involved in the cricket world since I was about 13, so reading A Lot Of Hard Yakka by Simon Hughes was a very curious look into the world of professional cricket although the meat of it was from 10 years before I started playing. Fun to see the parallels between the professional world and the amateur world I played in, I have a feeling I played in better facilities than they occasionally did. I could definitely identify with the self doubts and the confidence issues expressed in the book. Every sportsman will suffer confidence crises and there's a certain level of negative feedback implicit in that. Low confidence and doubts make your run up less sure or your reactions slower, which makes it far more difficult to land the ball on the spot or to whack it to the boundary.

It's not a diary of match results, you can get that from Wisden. It's a very interesting look into the mindset and life of professional sportsmen and written far more intelligently than what people lured into getting the average footballer's life story (ages 18 to 23 with the speed they come out nowadays) will get.

Next on the list is Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars. I read this one a few years ago but I'm stubbornly reading it again. I'll probably only read the first of the trilogy as this is by far the best. And there's a fair bit of planetary and astronautic engineering in there that always gets me interested.

I'll add in more books as I go (and probably move a few around too!). Hoping to hit 26 this year :-)

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy new year everyone

Another year gone, kinda surprised I've not posted for a fortnight. One excuse is that I was away for Xmas ...

Rumours of travel problems over here have been fairly exaggerated, although I wouldn't have been saying that had I travelled a day before I did. I went up to my parents place for a few days over Xmas, travelling up on the Thursday and coming back on the Monday. I think I got away with it, as the roads were clear with minimal hold ups. If I'd gone the day before, I'd have run into the aftermath of heavy snowfall that morning which would have got me stuck within an hour's driving.

So much for the snow ... On the roads at least. On the way up, it was cold enough that the washer jets on the car weren't working which got to be a problem after about an hour's driving ... Which gets me off the motorway and into Birmingham services. It was like a different world - going from a clear motorway to what can only be described as a disaster area was quite jarring. Queues to get into the car park suggested what was ahead, snow was still in all the parking bays, the access routes hadn't been gritted and people were just looping through the car park to go elsewhere. That's what I did, although I did jump out to scrub the windscreen so I could see.

I think I benefitted :-) I stopped at the next services (where the car park had been cleared) and got caught by the Starbucks ... One pizza (small one) sized giant cookie and a massive hot chocolate later and I'm ready to hit the road again.

Felt strange driving listening to cd's again. I've gotten used to iPodFM over the past few years, where I just set the little box to shuffle and let it go. I'd forgotten the whole management of cd's thing and quickly remembered that they should be put somewhere they can't slide. Oh yes - even before getting to the motorway, I'd had a cd frisbie incident. I'd gone to cd's because I was listening out for traffic info which I can't get via iPodFM.

Traffic was slow, going there and coming back but I still did the 180 mile trip in under 4 hours each way. Which ain't bad. I'm ok with slow traffic, I just switch into a "cruise" mindset which is much less stressful than the alternate which would have me eagle eyed for the passing opportunities. On most roads, those chances aren't there and in a long line of traffic just lead to shuffling the order a bit with no time gained.

(I still hate slow people but I've learned the futility of looking for gaps that won't gain you anything except high risk)

Xmas was a little different this year, not much present buying going on around me this year. Which isn't as terrible as it sounds, because I also avoided all the "what do they really want ?" rushing around the shops when everyone else is doing the same thing. And if there's one thing that unsettles me more than Slow People it's Too Many People. I like being around people but if my awareness level is being hopped up by there being too many around to do a threat evaluation (pickpockets & the like) then it'll be wearing.

We had a smaller Crazie Gathering this year, which was effectively a housewarming for the Bionic Dwarf. Cosy, relaxed evening with pizza and 3 good movies. 1 of those was mine (Alice in Wonderland), 1 of which will be bought soon (How to Train Your Dragon) and 1 which I won't buy but enjoyed anyway (Son of Rambow)

Not done much shopping over the break, although I'll hopefully hit the shops some time next week to find any of those interesting bargains. Already got a couple on the list like a third Kasabian album and How To Train Your Dragon but I'll have an open mind for more like Up In The Air, which got watched today. I'll only buy films that I've already checked out and a movie channel sub is a decent way of trying before buying. There's hits and misses, like Up In The Air is a hit while Megafault was a waste of 90 minutes.

I had been thinking of upgrading my desktop PC over the holiday but have shelved that because prices haven't budged lately. My sister did the upgrading thing instead :-) Her laptop's in for repairs and because of the delay, a netbook appeared. Pre-buy misgivings were that the netbook wouldn't get used after the proper laptop came back but I have a feeling that the laptop will be the one gathering dust.

Other stuff - back to work at either the end of this week or the 10th. iTunes library has had the playcount zeroed so I get a fresh listen to everything in it. Snow was here and has all gone, melted away by persistent drizzle (I prefer the brightness of light reflected off snow and ice). Gaming is seeing heavy Warcraft and Settlers IV activity with none of the Steam offers proving sufficiently tempting. The offers are good but the games are not.

2010 was an interesting year, with me plowing head first into a different job in the same project. It saw me go back on the cricket field (the shoulder is mostly back to normal). I had a few upgrades appear with the toys collection but still noone to share them with.

2010 wasn't bad but I'm hoping for better from 2011 :-)