Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Whingey time

I wasn't going to add in a post today because :

I'm super tired;
It was going to be a whinge;
And I hate doing whingey posts.

It was originally going to be a whinge about advertising but I read this post (Link) about the issues affecting my current Warcraft server and the words in there that said Blizzard were deleting negative posts kinda broke the straw.

Ok - 2 issues today and I'll save the gaming one until later.

First one is advertising ...

I had another one of those spam emails today. "Can we post on your website ?". No. I'm responsible for what goes here and I have to stand by what appears here. I posted years ago about taking my guild's website off the links list (when I was guild master at the time - this is the Mercenaries guild) because their website didn't have the basic tools added that stopped spam. And we had a massive amount of spam, most of it pointing people to porn sites.

I don't have a problem with people indulging in porn. It can be amusing, instructive? and occasionally hilarious. What I do have a problem with is the potential for my page to be flagged for adult content. I don't know what the consequences are but I doubt they're good ... On the interwebs, you're not just responsible for your own page, you're responsible for what you link people to.

Oh and there's also the tendency on places like Youtube for the adverts to be so much louder than the video you're wanting to be watching. I don't want people getting inflicted with annoying popups or offensive adverts. I definitely don't want people getting drive-by viruses from advertising, like how a certain national newspaper got caught (Register link).

I will mention people here, like Lexus (yey!), Ford (ok), Vauxhall (previously yey!, now very meh), Apple (cautious yey), Microsoft (may their UI designers burn in hell) and whichever supermarket I went to last. But that's just my opinion and I'm usually giving the bad as well as the good. I aim to give a balanced opinion, advertising is anything but. As I said on Facebook earlier, the prospect of adding unbalanced advertising lies here turns my stomach. And if you advertise, that gives someone editorial control over you ("we didn't like that post, take it down or no advert paycheck"). Not gonna happen.

(This is why I try not to post while tired !)

So no advertising - cos I hate it enough to want to avoid inflicting it on others. I don't need the paltry money it brings (although extra cash is always nice).

Gaming ?

I tried logging into the Warcraft servers last night (gave up immediately because of a very early start today) and had more of a go today. No joy. I play on the Draenor Europe server which is currently having a few issues. Over the last couple of weeks I've experienced enough disconnects to convince me that group work is a bad idea.

It's an online MULTIPLAYER game ! Group work is what you're supposed to do on it !

I'd consider starting off a character on another server but I'm honestly too tired tonight (more below). Tonight's attempt at Warcraft was abysmal - it took about 5 attempts to log in, I did one of those group work things (being disconnected before and after) but took the hint when it completely froze up (couldn't select a character to log in with) afterwards. Tonight would not be a Warcraft night.

This is another sign actually - addiction makes you more sensitive about these things. If you're tearing hair out about a game being unavailable, it's time to do something different. I'm half-watching the round of Youtube videos behind this post and after those, I'll be reading books while listening to music.

Wait - this post is mainly anti-censorship. The place people go to complain about their online service being unavailable is the forums for the service. Those forums are typically controlled by the providers and they don't like criticism, it tends to get deleted. So - this post is partly about giving those dissatisfied people a voice. We should get game credit for this current debacle but I doubt we will, Blizzard doesn't do that. CCP do with Eve but not Blizzard.

We have similar dissatisfaction at work with the IT. It goes down more often than it should (we should have >99% availability, we don't) and we're subject to stupid limits on the amount of data we can store. On top of that, we're forced to use Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server as our primary system. It's not fit for purpose as that and forces us to hold off on making new files. It prevents us being as efficient as we should be.

In both the case of Warcraft and work, we have the right to be highly annoyed because we're paying an inordinate amount of money for a service that isn't up to the job. It isn't delivering. We are not getting our value.

But that's enough about work. I try to keep the anti-work stuff at a minimum. I work with some great people but we are handicapped by the ultimate management, the support groups (aiming my rifle at the IT here) and idiots who inflict policy on people without understanding the implications.

Closing off now ...

Today was actually a really good day, I'm just overtired now because it was also a very long day. Up at about 6am, to get a bus at 6.30am to catch a coach at 7.30am. I live under 3 miles away from work, yet I have to allow an hour to get in due to policies inflicted upon us - that's silly.

Wait - good day. I saw shinies !

It is pretty good to see what we work on. We're a bit disconnected from the reality when we're stuck in the office. We deal with massive pieces of kit filled with complex machinery that all interconnects. We don't get an appreciation of how it all interweaves, with that being the most accurate term when you're looking at :
HVAC, network, power, low pressure water, high pressure water, chilled water and all the other services coming in too.

It's mindbending putting all that together and making it all work efficiently.

And quite possibly that's why I enjoy working with the big toys I work with. But it wouldn't be the same without the people who are part of the teams putting it all together and the people who use it after we hand it over to them.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Water, water everywhere

I think I've used that title before somewhere ... Mind you, in almost 900 posts I'm bound to have repeated a few !

There's a massive storm coming through the UK at the moment and we've been in the firing line. Ok, it's not the hurricane force or tropical cyclone type that does so much damage in other countries but it's been a big deal for us. It's a little more than the average UK rainstorm that we get.

This morning ? Fine while waiting for the bus but as soon as I got off, the heavens opened and I was being the drowned rat by the time I got to my desk. Coming home, I got caught in a brief shower on my way to the bus stop but it wasn't as bad as in the morning.

Except ... Massive flashes, a couple of forky lightnings and three huge rumblings. No - I wasn't hungry, the canteen had cookies today. A good thing too cos I visited Sainsburys. No cookies means shopping while hungry (never advisable) means more shopping than will fit in the bag.

Yeah - bit damp. But I can live with damp, although I'd prefer to have my steel umbrella (da car) on my way into work. Add "increased potential of colds and flu" to the results of the discrimination by postcode policy.

How am I doing ? I'm not suffering from any colds (yet - and I wouldn't notice if I did anyway cos I sneeze so much !). My condition is actually improving daily. My skin is repairing nicely and this is a few days after the drugs ran out. It's not fixed properly yet but it's definitely encouraging. I've not used any of the moisturiser I got given, I've not actually needed it because the only dryness has been around the bits that are still damaged. And this is comparing to fingers that felt like sandpaper last year.

Back to the weather - it's going to be an interesting few days ... (of the Interesting Times curse type interesting). Trains have been suspended, the local bridges got closed. By the way I can hear it raining, I suspect there may be flooding problems.

And there's the dinner bell ringing ... Picture time ! Spotted these today :
Add floods to zombie with that apocalypse thing.
Oh hell - I'm doomed.
We made some truly beautiful machines back in the day before science took over and made them look weird. Mind you, some of them were also awesomely powerful machines of destruction too (the Vulcan was designed to obliterate cities).

And finally :
I know the answer ... to the riddle ;-)

Friday, October 25, 2013

When a Cunning Plan gets Mad

Not angry mad mind you, just nutty mad.

Warning - there's even more techie talk in this post ...

Ok, so since switching the network around I've had 2 evenings where there's been no interruption in the audio streaming. Result ! However ... It means my old laptop and my printer can no longer see the network. There's solutions to both :

I have a new widget for the old laptop which will let it connect.
I can plug the printer in to the desktop and access it through that.

However (again!) ... There is another solution. A plan that goes past Cunning into Mad Scientist territory. And ... I already have the bits to make it work.

Right now, I have a wifi network transmitting at 5GHz. It works, it's away from the interference. But it means my old kit (laptop and printer) can't see the network because they can only work at 2.4GHz.

The solution (and Cunning part of the plan) - to have a second device that transmits at 2.4GHz. In effect, having two independent networks going.

But - it gets better. Why not give the jammer something to jam while happily sending you want on a frequency it can't see ? My wifi network is currently called "Aquarius" (don't ask - I must have been watching something Greek or mythological and it sounded good at the time). What I could do is set things up as follows :

Internet router transmits on "Hahacantfindme" at 5GHz
(I'd pick something else like Athena)
Laptop sends its audio through that.
Old router plugs into the internet router and transmits on "Aquarius" at 2.4GHz.
I.e. you give the jammer what it expects to see.
And my old laptop and printer can get back on the network through Aquarius.

Everybody's happy, including the jammer because it has something to jam. Owner of the jammer on the other hand ? I can see them going "Hey ! How come the music isn't breaking up like it did before ?" Muahaha.

There is another solution that does the same thing - Apple do a device called the Time Machine which does data backup duties. It can also extend wifi networks, just like what the 2nd router plan above would do. It is a couple of hundred £££ though, so perhaps an accessory too far.

I hope if anything this post has illustrated one thing :

It is dangerous to give techies too much gear to play with. They get daft ideas of how to use it.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thoughts of movement

Ok, so I'm watching the Strictly come dancing midweek show at the moment and my "how things work" eye is being caught by how they're moving.

On the dance show, it's all about movement with :

And a little bit of power

Whenever I see people do things, I'm always thinking of whether I can adopt what they're doing to make what I do better. That's how I learned how to sprint, although it caught me out when it sent my bowling completely wonky for a game. (I'd listened to commentators and a small change made the ball move in the air the other way to what I normally did).

I'll never be a great dancer. I make things up as I go along a bit too much. I'm reactive when I move. (I dodge well). When I try, I'm usually trying to ape what other people are doing which leads to an uncoordinated mess.

What I do have though is power and precision. When I hand things to people, it's usually such a gentle handover that they don't realise they have the object I've passed to them. As I've said before though, that power can work against me because it can take that extra fraction of a second to get the legs moving.

Elegance ? Yeah, it looks good but it tends to be extra flourish that can get you in trouble. (Like today when I nearly tripped over my own feet doing a spin-dodge!) With the cricket, I'd tend to try and work out any flourish, it slows you down. Quick, precise movements are what you need. That's why sportspeople tend to look wooden on programmes like Strictly.

I've put a reasonable amount of thought into how I move. Mostly, the interest is in protecting my body against itself. I can walk extremely quickly but it tends to grind my knees away. I can walk even quicker but that breaks the ligaments in my knees. I can run super fast - but without knee pads it feels like it's making my knees explode.

That thought on movement has led to me adopting a walking style that tries to minimise how much sideways movement goes through my knees. It's precise enough with the footfalls that I can go near silent with the right shoes. That's not about sneaking up on people (although that can have hilarious results), if you make noise that's energy that's not going into getting you where you're going.

The protection thing goes into other movements - because my muscles are so sensitive at the moment that I have to be very careful to not make moves that will send me into cramp or unhook the damaged bit in my back. (Hopefully that'll get better !)

So for me - it's about learning how to move to protect my body from legs that got too powerful and to avoid causing further damage to the damage I already carry.

For other people - I can't but help notice how some people move. Some look trained, some look absolutely totally natural. The natural ones can be dangerously compelling to watch. Why dangerous ? Lol - cos standing there with the slackjawed expression can lead to a damn good slappin'.

And I'm a) running out of things to say and b) written a lot already.

I'll be trying to :
Stay being efficient and precise in my movements
(cos it helps me in other ways)
Continue confusing people who are taking things off me
Keep looking for moves I can adopt
And attempting to avoid those slappings

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sleepy's Top 40 Part 2

But first ... the Cunning Plan.

I have a disappointment with the new Macbook. It's more susceptible to the network interference that means my audio streaming breaks up. This is the way my network is built :

Internet comes in to the modem router. I'm on cable internet so my options there are a little limited. I have the Virgin Media Superhub, which has served me well so far.
Desktop - is connected to the superhub by a wire for best performance in games.
Macbook - connects to the superhub over wifi
Airport Express - also connects via wifi and sends audio to my hifi

The wifi used to operate on the old 802.11g (don't worry about the arcane stuff) at a frequency of 2.4GHz. Every wifi device should support that, it's the oldest protocol. Trouble is, that means every devices uses it so in built up areas there can be lots of interference. To make matters worse, other electronic wireless devices (phones, baby monitors) use the frequency band making even more interference. And it's the interference which breaks the audio streaming, making me a Sad Panda.

I actually have 2 Panda's but I've barely played them, I've concentrated on Seraphice the mage instead. (Slight longitudinal shift into Warcraft!)

The Cunning Plan has involved me throwing hardware at the problem. My old laptop and Airport Express device had old wifi and couldn't support the newer 802.11n (again, don't worry about the arcane stuff). The new Macbook has far Shinier Wifi. So - cunning plan - set up the devices so they avoid the interference.

That's the plan at least. I'll wait and see if my new Littlewhitebox (the Airport Express) device that arrived today sorts out the problem. If it doesn't ... I'll throw more money at it by investing in Powerline networking. So instead of the audio being broadcast over the air, it'll partly go over the mains cable. Hopefully I won't need to go that far.

Top 40 !!!!

It's numbers 11 to 20 today :

At 20 - Dire Straits - Your Latest Trick. This one is from the classic Brothers In Arms album and somehow I've listened to it more than the other amazing tracks (Ride Across The River, Brothers In Arms). Why do I like Dire Straits ? Cos Knopfler's guitar work is incredible and his voice makes mine sound good.

19 - The Cardigans - Holy Love. This one is from their Super Extra Gravity album which will see another couple of tracks appear in the Top 10. It's one hell of an album, there's outstanding track after outstanding track on it, although I wouldn't recommend depressive people listen to it. The tracks are amazing but they deal with some Heavy Stuff. Ok, this one isn't quite as good as the rest ;-)

18 - The Cardigans - For What It's Worth. This is from the iTunes Original collection. There aren't many iTunes collection albums (I have the Norah Jones one too). They're greatest hits albums again, so I wouldn't recommend them for that because you probably have the tracks already. However, the Originals albums add in interviews with the band in between each track which, in my opinion, makes them worth getting again. This track was originally from the excellent Long Gone Before Daylight album.

Why do I like the Cardigans ? It's not just about the voice, which has that clipped but perfect Swedish accent. No, it's about the band as well. Instead of being in the background, quietly supporting, they're in the foreground being as active a part in the song as the singer.

17 - Bjork's Violently Happy. Cos I love you. Bjork burst on to the scene with this one and she's been brightening up pop music since then. It's been an infinitely more interesting genre with Bjork around, she's utterly unique and half the time you're wondering what weirdness she'll come up next. Gloriously different. And ... that's no way to treat a teddy bear !

16 - Alisha's Attic - Affected By You Not. This one's a B-side so no youtube video. One thing I love about Alisha's Attic is how prolific they were. They only released 3 studio albums plus one which was available only on Ebay. However, each single came with multiple original tracks as B-sides and they are typically incredible. Some are better than the album tracks (I was disappointed with The House We Built). Here's one I could find - AA are definitely Too Far Forgotten.

15 - Adam & The Ants - Kings of the Wild Frontier. There's only one Adam Ant. Some would say that's a good thing (see above about Bjork being more interesting). I don't think many groups used dominant drums as much as Adam and the Ants.

14 - Abba - Hasta Manana. There's so many super sweet Abba tracks that could have been on this list but Hasta Manana found its way to the list. Yep. I like Abba and I'm proud of that. Just give them a listen and you will too. Although I'd recommend skipping the Mamma Mia film. You do Not want to be exposed to Pierce Brosnan attempting to sing. It will be with you for life.

13 - Battle Without Honour or Humanity. This one's from the Kill Bill soundtrack again. Instantly recognisable.

12 - U2 - I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. This is the Rattle and Hum version and ... strangely appropriate cos I haven't either. I'm not a huge U2 fan (they're too political and their politics are the nonsensical rantings of those with too much money) but they do make excellent music. But like Tom Cruise and movies, off screen he's an absolute turd but on screen ? He makes some excellent movies.

11 - Roberta Flack - Killing Me Softly With His Song. Sometimes the old ones are the best. This one shows the new girls how it should be done.

Ok - that's enough for now :-) The Top 10 will come in the next few days :-)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What's in a name ?

Someone noticed the reference to the Pretty Contractor Lady which I snuck into yesterday's post :-).

So I thought - I've used a lot of codenames for people over the years, let's give some of them a mention again. Almost all of them have been awesome friends and colleagues over the years, they deserve their mention again.

So - Pretty Contractor Lady ! Name born out of lack of inspiration for describing this awesome lady. She's one of the acceptance girls who worked over at our Prime Contractor's place. My last project had 6 major milestones. Massive milestones. This lady was instrumental in getting the acceptance work done which saw us through not 1 but 5 of those major milestones. Not just a pretty face but a consummate professional who stuck at it producing high quality work despite us not being the best behaved customer at times.

And she was helped out by Ms Warpath (don't make her angry! nah - she's great and that's not a particularly apt name) and the Scottish Go To Girls (definitely an apt name). We've been blessed with having outstanding people on the project and it's a shame they're gradually bleeding away to the Next Big Thing.

Back home we have the Apprentice, who is so much more than that. She got the name Apprentice because when she joined us, I was trying to pass on as much information and process as I could in a very short time before I got redeployed. And she keeps the boys on the job like a boss too.

There's another name - The Boss never had staff. (We occasionally think of staff as an infection, to be avoided wherever possible). But her empathy had everyone coming for advice. Why "The Boss" ? Cos she told the team leader what he was doing every day. The Team Leader was God. And The Boss was the one telling God what he was doing. There's also "Actual Boss" too.

And now I've mentioned the old team ...

Snow Queen ! That name came from how enchanting she was at one of the Xmas parties. At the same time, there were ads for an adaptation where the Snow Queen steals the heart of the bell boy. I actually feel a bit bad about this one because the Snow Queen adaptation was nigh on unwatchable with the core character being narcissistic and evil, which is the complete opposite of our Snow Queen. We had to leave her behind when our team got rearranged and we miss her terribly. Not just for her indomitable character (yes that's you ! you've just forgotten !) but she's another one who is a consummate professional. There's the wrong way, the right way and the perfect SQ way.

And she worked with :
Ms Sunshine - who would walk into a room with a round face framed by sun yellow blonde hair, it would be like the sun walking in and making everything brighter.
Wild Thing - who made a daft comment during one of the team moves which got picked up on by me and Diablo. And yes, the natural unconscious grace she possesses could have turned our bones to water (line nicked from which book ?)
Diablo ? We had a double act going. Both techies, both a little nuts. His nuttiness has been worn off a bit too much by promotion. Anyway, we had pictures on our "who are we?" tallies. Mine was an angel smiley, his was a demon smiley. The demon smiley got spotted by the French teacher consultant we had and El Diablo was born.

We still have the Finance Angels working for us. There's two of these, both utterly charming (and angelic). The original name got coined because Angel E is one of those people who is unfazed by anything. She was very hard to tease because it just didn't register. She's one of those beautiful people who can't recognise badness. But, again, it's not how they are which earns the respect, it's their professionalism.

Noticing a theme there ? We've been blessed with the services of some highly professional and highly skilled people. It's that which gets the respect, not the looks. In fact, something I've observed over many years is that the ladies who have the looks tend to spoil their own image by being hostile and unfriendly.

There's a bunch of other names that appear here, most of which are chosen by other people. Names like Craziequeen, Cyberkitten, Aginoth, BionicDwarf, Ravenwolf, RCA. All fantastic friends (ok, one on that list isn't a friend of us any more but she was!)

Oh ! I almost forgot a few others.

The Little Canteen Girl was great fun while she was here. She's now disappeared to have kiddies so isn't around to sneak extra turkey into my sandwiches.
There were the Axe Girls who tormented me and Diablo when they walked past our desks on their way home. Imagine a pair of meerkats popping up and us both going sigh.
Superspy - cos his name matched someone in the movies. He's retired now. I spotted him ages ago and he looked the same but lighter, freer, healthier.
Miss F - who listened when I needed a friend to sort out some threads that were getting heavily knotted in my head.
Miss L - who gave me an example that I needed to pull myself out of a deep hole.
Bright Young Thing - who had me utterly besotted at one point but who disappeared out of my life with no thread to follow.

There's far more people out there who have earned a mention - I tend to struggle for inspiration though. The thing with a codename is that it has to be usable. It has to be positive. It has to be something that doesn't get me sued or sacked for discrimination. That's another reason I'm uncomfortable with one or two of them ... Partly cos one reminds me of one of my nicknames over the years:

Snowman - yep. I had dandruff ;-)
Alisha's Addict - used this for a while, it was a joke on me finding everything I could that was produced by Alisha's Attic
Sleepypete - to distinguish me from the other Pete in the gaming group. I got off lightly, he was PGS or Power Gaming Scumbag :-)
Keela - after my Eve character, it came from a randomly made D&D character which I liked.
Ice or Iceangel - after my Warcraft character

And - last but definitely not least - I am Dwagon Guy.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Monday randomness

Random thoughts today :-)

There was a science experiment in the work kitchen today. And I know what you're thinking but ... It wasn't me ! Honest ! Actually, I didn't believe that Scotch Eggs could grow furry, I thought they were fairly inert. I reckon they were left behind by someone who's now left the team.

It's a curious thought actually ... whatever was growing on those eggs is similar to the drugs I'm taking at the moment. It was one of those wonderful accidents that brought us Penicillin.

I still have a few days of drugs left and I'm hoping that the improvement in my skin keeps going. I have to avoid damaging my arms any more though. Thinking of damage though, my legs are so much better and it was great today to have full power available in them again. Not that I used it but I did push reasonably hard on the walk from the bus to work (it was raining!). It was good while it lasted, the reason I didn't have that full power available last week was a tight hamstring which is a side effect of how I damaged my back. Oh and a month or so ago, I couldn't use power in my legs because it would literally split the skin.

Oh the bus ... It's ok having the stress avoidance of the bus. I get on, turn off my sense of time and avoid the stress of coping with Bristol traffic. However ... it takes literally 1 hour to get from bus stop to desk. That's to go just under 3 miles as the crow flies. Not acceptable ... I'll be getting out the door early tomorrow to make a 9am meeting.

Since getting the Macbook, I've been enjoying listening to the library again with a fresh ear. I've managed to listen to 616 tracks so far (1.4 days worth so Itunes tells me) but that's just a tiny dent in the library. I'd like to get more music and have my eye on singers like Lucy Spraggan. However ... I refuse to spend £8 on an album speculatively. It seems a little sad that music prices are set high and stay high. I and others would buy that album immediately if it were available for £5. Same with the Rachel Sermanni album. It was worth the high cost but you can't really justify spending that much on someone new. And the cost stayed high months after the initial release.

I firmly believe more revenue would be gained if prices were dropped to "bargain" prices. Even if it's like occasional quick sales. Some minority items just stay at high prices long after people stopped buying them.

Talking of music. One disappointment with the Macbook is that it's more susceptible to interference on the wifi. However. I have a Cunning Plan. In a couple of days, I'll pick up a new Apple Airport Express. This is a device which accepts audio being streamed over a network and sends it to a hifi. Magic and it works effectively. Except ... when there's someone nearby with a jammer.

I haven't got the pic handy but the jammer was giving a signal strength of about 0dB. My own router was giving about -40dB, neighbourhood routers were about -80dB. So this jammer was producing a signal far stronger than my own router, through walls. I hate to think of what it's doing to the people who own it. Perhaps it's a baby monitor (which operate in the same frequency and are anything but cooperative).

Oh - the Cunning Plan - the new Airport Express will let me shift to a different frequency band which should avoid the interference. It's a necessary buy anyway because my current one is too old for the software to recognise. (I'm buying it on Ebay for half the price it is in the shop).

I've made a note about Xmas stuff and can't figure out why ... It'll be in the shops soon. Oh I remember ! Xmas munchies are popular this year. I'll be at one with the wider team, one with the project, one with the old project's acceptance people (will the Pretty Contractor Lady return ?) and there will be a Crazie gathering too.

I've been comparing Microsoft and Apple more. They both have their disasters, there's actually two reported this week. Microsoft have seriously dropped the ball again with Windows 8.1. Apple have a problem with the hard discs in the last generation of Macbook Air and the reason I stumped up for Applecare is because they have issues with display screens.

I'm getting to be more of a fan of Apple now. They make genuinely usable software and the hardware backs it up too. There is that price premium though. However, it's good to see a genuine minority alternative survive when the big boy in the game tends to knock the little boy out of the market. Especially when the big boy's products are as bad as they are at the moment.

Talking of stuff that's a disappointment ... I've followed gaming for as long as I can remember. There's highlights and there's lowlights. One that caught my eye over the weekend was called Dark Matter, it's a survival game set on a spaceship. Right up my alley you'd think. However ... word is it's not finished. Ouch. Glad I didn't leap and buy it. We see that a lot at the moment, products being unleashed on the market before they're ready and the product is effectively left like that. We've even seen that on big names like Championship Manager 3, Windows 95 and a bunch of others.

That's enough randomness for now. Except. I still need to find a TV guide application for the Macbook. I have a workaround but it's clunky. I can install the TV guide on my desktop and look at it via a web browser running on the Macbook. Or I could install a virtual machine on the Macbook and run the TV guide app through that. That's clunkier (and would involve running cursed Microsoft software).

Any recommendations for a TV guide application ? I used Digiguide but it doesn't have a Mac version.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Reflecting on +1 year

People have been mentioning the annual Movember thing again ...

It's making me remember back just one year. Last year, I had a head start on the whole Movember thing. Because my skin condition had pretty much torn up one side of my jawline, I hadn't shaved for a fortnight on the run in. So I had something starting to grow ready for the start of Movember.

It was about this time last year that I gave up protesting and sought treatment, which made a good start on repairing the damage. And there was a lot of damage all over. I can't remember the precise details but I can remember getting through the cricket season last year pretty much intact. It was the rainy conditions that drew participation last year to a close, whereas this year it was my knee getting torn up. I think it was the diet change that initiated the condition getting much, much worse. Instead of it being just on my legs, it spread to arms, shoulders, back, bum, hips, face, ears and more of my legs.

Yep. Lots of damage and I was probably underestimating things (as I do) when I reckon it affected over 30% of me.

The condition now is so much better, although I'm not counting my chickens just yet. And I have to keep exerting that discipline (I'm not doing so good at it actually) to stop worrying the bad bits cos that makes them much worse.

Oh, as well as diet, there was a definite stress trigger as end of summer last year was one of the most stressful periods at work that I can remember. There's two that come close but not actually this bad. Or are they ? One of those periods had me actively considering driving the car off the road at high speed and what stopped me was what family would think. (This is from a long time ago and before I had a bunch of friends in Bristol I can go to for support).

Incidentally, this is one reason why I'm sensitive about people I know who are struggling. Cos I've been there, know how it feels and would do anything I could to help them away from that very dark place.

I wonder if that incident is why I'm so uptight about workplace discrimination ? Because discrimination was at the heart of why I was so low in that bad time.

But enough of that. Too much depression posting makes me start to get low and I don't want that. What I do want to do is think about going forward.

I wouldn't pass myself ready (on the outside) to run around just yet. There's still damage on my arms and the skin is very easily made worse. So when I'd throw myself around and get cuts and scrapes, there's a good chance those will hang around for a while. However :

Ears - are now perfect, outside of the soreness I've always got where my glasses rub.
Face - no Zombiepatch ! And I can shave properly. Still doing Movember this year, although as usual for me and charity - awareness only because I feel bad taking money from people for doing nothing.
Bum - smoooooth.
Hips - there's still some damage but it's almost mended.
Arms - hopefully under control, they're my worst bit and the "hopefully" comes from knowing I'm still being helped by drugs.
Legs - are almost perfect again. Again, smoooth where a few months ago I could split the skin by running.

So - still some damage but it's repairing nicely. I even have a perverse wish to show off those legs again. Although preferably when they're in pasty-white mode because they still like to go red occasionally.

And now I'm thinking of a way to close !

I'm improving but there's a sense of loneliness that being addicted to WoW (again) can't cover. Now that I'm more intact, I think on a subconscious level I'd like to be getting out more again. There's a few chances for that coming up with work but I'd kinda like something more intimate. That's one of my inhibitions though. Or is it knowing who I'd like to treat to a dinner and a movie but being scared of the answer if I asked ?

And on that exposure of stuff strangely more candid for my norm, time to run back into that addiction !

See you later in the week for more of that Top 40. At the moment, the random track of choice is Queen's Radio Ga Ga. Always an anthem worth listening to.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Sleepy's Top 40

I'm starting to make a dent in listening to all that 11,000 track library again, although it's going to take Ages ! to listen to it all again. (I've listened to just 399 of them so far and am having a Strictly break because I just had one of those WoW sessions where it goes dark outside without you noticing).

So what were the ones I listened to most of all on the old library ?

Before I kick off, bear in mind that some of the newer discoveries (Rachel Sermanni, Hannah Peel) and releases (Arctic Monkeys AM, Bat For Lashes Haunted Man) have a handicap because they haven't been in the library as long as the Cardigans, Alisha's Attic and All About Eves.

As per usual, I'm putting the occasional link in (I may do this later, I have 20 minutes before the dinner bell goes ! And smoke alarms are not my friend) and it'll be to Youtube videos. As per tradition, they're in reverse order. It's 40 to 21 today (cos top 40 would be a Monsta!) :

40 - The xx - Stars. The xx burst on the scene a couple of years ago and were an immediate hit. They're good but hopefully they'll find another direction to go because they were also very samey.
39 - Weird Al - Star Trekkin'. Can't forget that video with the Pizza-Enterprise.
38 - Tori Amos - I Can't See New York. This has to be one of my most favourite songs of all time.
37 - T'Pau - Taking Time Out. This is from their Rage album. Not bad. But not quite China In Your Hand.
36 - Snow Patrol - Set Down Your Glass. Another who were in danger of getting samey but they keep coming up with something new.

35 - Simon and Garfunkel - The Sound of Silence. Come on ! You know this one, it'd be in anyone's Top 40 if they thought of it :-)
34 - Shivaree - Goodnight Moon. This one's from the Kill Bill soundtrack, which is brimfull of classic tracks.
33 - River City People - Home and Dry. This one closes out their brilliant first album.
32 - Paramore - The Only Exception. Flowing, bouncing melody, lyrics you would die to have sung to you.
31 - Doctor's Theme from Series 4 - I've been a lifelong Doctor Who fan and the music from Murray Gold since the return has been stellar.

30 - Michelle Shocked - Vx Fx Dx. Love the humour in this one and it's backed up by Michelle Shocked's distinctive voice.
29 - Fossiles - Carnival of the Animals. This whole album is full of music that's been robbed for many adverts and bits of incidental music and this one puts that picture of skeletons dancing into the head.
28 - Lene Marlin - Unforgiveable Sinner. Not her best but it's the one that started it off. It's from her first album, it shows off her voice in a modern enough track to pull the attention. Ms Marlin is on my list of people I buy albums for immediately ... and there's not many on that list.
27 - Katie Melua - Nine Million Bicycles. I honestly prefer Shy Boy but this track has that soft melody and perfect voice that I love to croak along to.
26 - Forever Autumn from War of the Worlds, sung by Justin Haywood. Singing like this doesn't come along every day. And it comes at a place in the War of the Worlds that makes it all the more poignant. I'm avoiding the new generation of WotW but this original takes some beating.

(and oh no ! I'm running out of adjectives !)

25 - Goldfrapp - Eat Yourself. After hearing their cover of It's Not Over Yet, this is from the Seventh Tree album. Goldfrapp either do soft or disco and their soft is absolutely gorgeous. This is their soft at their best. Almost ...
24 - Goldfrapp - Road to Somewhere. There's a lot of incredible tracks on Road to Somewhere (still their best album) and this is the pick of the lot. I feel an early listen coming on.
23 - Edie Brickell - One Last Time. Edie's been around for a very long time, this is one of the more recent. She's been consistently interesting to listen to over her whole career, this is no exception.
22 - Edie Brickell - Lost in the Moment. And going back to nearer the start, this track stands out because it tells a story as it goes through. True, it's a sad story but so oh so beautifully sung.
21 - Duffy - I'm Scared. Sadly Duffy seems to be burning out early. She's got a strange, distinctive voice, it matches this song extremely well.

That's it for now, dinner bell is about to go off, shortly followed by the smoke alarm.

Wait ... where's the Cardigans, the Alisha's Attic, the Kate Bush and the All About Eve ? That'll start in Parts 2 and 3 ;-) Along with a few more too.

PS I may revisit and add Youtube links later when I have more time ...

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Feeling the need to ...

Accessorise !

First blog post on the new Macbook :-)

I thought I'd say a few things about the migration process. I have to be honest and say that in some ways, it's actually easier than going from one Windows PC to another Windows PC. As part of the first time setup, there's a Migration Tool that runs which can grab all of your info from your old machine and will copy it across to the new one. So, all my documents and pictures have come across without me having to do much. My email accounts are set up, although they needed the passwords putting back in (this is not a Bad Thing).

I'm quietly impressed with Firefox too, it has a facility called Firefox Sync which transfers bookmarks, history and addons across to any other machine. So I'm back to a reasonably familiar browser and tab set up (VR forum, Blogger, Facebook!) and the others that I look through like once a day (Register, Tomshardware and a few others) are there through the history.

One thing about the Migration wizard however - it takes time (can be lots of hours) and you only get the option to do it once (it may still be available, not gone looking !). It's worth preparing ahead of time, deleting stuff you don't want from the old machine before you start the process.

The Macbook (which desperately needs a name to join Nighthawk and Pumpkin) was pretty good about be taking off Itunes 11 and replacing it with the superior iTunes 10.7 (the removal of DJ was a crime). I'm just finishing off transferring the library (yep - it's taken a couple of evenings!) using a feature called Homeshare. If you've not used it before, this is an exceptional tool built into iTunes that allows you to back up your library simply.

Applications wise, I have no complaints. There's a built in Mail client which appears superior to the very weak Windows equivalent (the Windows one was cripple-ware). And MS Office will not be touching this system, even though I can still get it cheap from work. Don't know what's happening there, we got an announcement a couple of weeks ago saying that the arrangement was coming to a close, that we were no longer permitted to use it and could we kindly uninstall it ? (Ha ! Likely ? Not) But anyway, MS Office turned into an unusable piece of trash a few versions ago and has been digging downwards since. I'll look at an opensource alternative.

Keyboard ... Hmm. It's an Ultrabook, which means it's missing a bunch of keys. Apple also use just one button, there's supposed to be a context menu like the right-click but I've not intentionally found how to get it yet. For the context commands, it's off you go to the menus and that means a lot of mouse movement which can be bad for an RSI sufferer. Things like page-up/page-down and using the cursors to move and select word by word are different and take some getting used to.

It's early days so far but I'm definitely appreciating the change. It's a lot more responsive, which has a lot to do with the SSD hard disc that it's built on. These devices will speed up any machine because they remove all the wait time.

Hold on.

Accessories ????

I need 'em.

My old laptop travelled in a fairly big bag that could hold its 17", 4.5kg frame. If I put the Macbook in there, it'll rattle and disappear into the void. However ... I will also need space for :
Airport Express (want to upgrade)
HDMI cable - need an adaptor
Monitor cable - need an adaptor
Audio cable - to plug into the Airport Express
Power cable - 12 hours battery life is great but it's not infinite
Cables for iPhone and iPod Nano

I also need to play with apps. I've made a little selection which I will need to check out but any ideas ? Drop in a comment :-)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Plunge taken, shininess arrived, Sleepy play ?


Finally done it - instead of hanging around for a refurb model to appear I've taken the plunge and spent the cash.

What's the Shininess ?

It's a Macbook Air 13.3" model with the 256GB hard disc. I'm not mentioning the cost (cos it's enough for me to hope I'll not be buying any more pooter hardware for 5 years) but I will give a special mention to my darling Snow Queen who pointed me towards the work discount. Works in store too :-)

The real catalyst is being banned from taking my car into the car park at work again. Yep. Banned from work due to discrimination by post code. I live 2.86 miles away (in a straight line, it's 4 miles walking) from work, which is just inside a 3 mile exclusion zone. Why am I banned ? Because the Powers That Be have allowed too many people to be squeezed into the site. It's not just the parking, it's the desk allocation too. We simply don't have enough space on the site. So I'm a subject of workplace discrimination.

(This is why I don't say who I work for, so I can bitch about them when I really need to !)

Anyway - not actually that big a deal, as I have a very valid bus route that I can use instead of the car which :
1 - means I'm not stressing out driving in Bristol traffic (it turns the hair white)
2 - keeps my legs in better condition inside
The drawback - loss of flexibility and it's £4 a day.

Shinies !!!

I can't play with it yet. It's busy transferring data across from my old laptop. I've been a bit silly there as I've told it to copy all of the downloads folder. I should have deleted a bunch of stuff there before the copy.

After that, I'll be cracking open iTunes and copying across the old library. All 11,000 tracks and 60+GB of it ... That might be tomorrow's job as :
The migration is currently saying 4 hours 23 minutes to go
I ... need ... more ... sleep ... (actually had a good sleep last night but have a lot of catching up to do)
I'm anticipating needing to "downgrade" back to iTunes 10.7 in order to get iTunes DJ back.

Isn't it funny ? I could have easily slept in the car on the way back from Birmingham on Saturday but when I tried sleep after reaching my bed ? Nope. I ended up rewriting one of our key documents in my head (do I remember what ? Hell no - that's not the way it works) and adding new scratches on top of the old ones. Slept much better last night.

I'll let people know about how the migration works when I get to play. Be prepared for a few "Getting used to the Mac" segments of posts ;-). Oh - I'm also going to re-rate that whole library too, which will be curious. How long before I can listen to the whole thing ? MONTHS ! Lol.

Hopefully it'll finish before I retreat for sleep tonight.

What's left for tonight ?

I'm going to resist the WoW addiction. Too much of that and it'll kill my shoulder and my wrist. And my wrist is already suffering enough with the work posture (tried a vertical mouse, nice but it didn't fix the problem - it's the angling that causes the damage, trackpads are ok but not big enough at work). I'm in my woolly fingerless gloves already - they're great, the woolly is thick enough to support the wrist and also keeps it warm.

Lovely. Well recommended, just don't whatever you do buy ones with the attached pouch. The pouch is no use for storage and ridiculously gets in the way.

I'm watching the Youtube vids instead :-) Totalbiscuit's news roundup at the moment followed by Scott Manley blowing up Kerbals. Yep. Chill out time. No Azeroth time. Please. That game is ridiculously addictive. I do need to log on my old Bashara sometime soon though so she can retire wielding her legendary hammer.

I've been mostly enjoying my time back in Warcraft. Sure, the Icecrown questing was boring (it just dragged on far too long) but I raced through Hyjal (two highish level zones) and I'm chuckling through Uldum (land of the eternal cutscene ... with pyramids) on I think my 4th time through it. It's a shame Warcraft is a game of two halves, there's some awesome content in there that you tend to see Just Once while levelling and then never again. The other half is the repetitive, fiddly, uninteresting raid content at maximum level that turned me off.

Must ... avoid ... Azeroth ... temptation ...

3 Hours 26 minutes remaining ! (I've not spent that long tapping, it's just speeding up)

PS I'm going to do some music posts too from the old laptop - a top 40 of what I ended up listening to most.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Hot under the collar

Had a day out yesterday.

It was the latest in a series of PHO meet ups, this time in Birmingham at the Great Barr Hotel. It's a chance for people suffering our particular condition to catch up with how we've all been doing. And it's a good bunch to catch up with too.

I won't mention too many of them (inspiration for codenames and all that !) but it was great to meet them. And our organiser is even more gorgeous in real life than the photo's suggest. What photo's don't capture well is the vital spark a person possesses ... let's just say that if someone had managed to slip her the Red Bull (other energy drinks ... may have similar effects) as threatened, the results could have been highly amusing ;-).

Oh - what was amusing ... Oh myyyy.

As well as the meal (which scored high marks, I was genuinely sad to finish it), there was a tribute act called Forgery ... This is kind of a double act, with a bloke and lady taking turns to do songs from Michael Buble, Beyonce, Robbie Williams and Rihanna. They don't sing together so not a true double act, just one after the other. Really enjoyed that.

(Although, as happens way too often - way too loud, our poor Rihonce had her voice distorted horribly by the audio and it took some of the gloss off a great voice and performance).

Shall I say that our Rihonce was definitely into a bit of audience participation ? I have to admit, I put a little possibly cruel comment on FB which I need to mention - when she came out, I thought she was one of those girls who you throw cheeseburgers at to get them healthy. Think - tall, very thin, verrrrry long legs. And - as I was about to find out : a very healthy sized bum.

Yep. I was the audience participation.

And I enjoyed every second. Well - after figuring out what was going on. (I can be a bit slow). Oh and I milked it for all I could think of too :-)

About the size thing - I don't have a problem with people being overweight. Britain is a land of (relative) plenty, we should have enough to adequately feed ourselves. Although I don't like it when people are so big that they're causing themselves health problems. Where I do have a problem is where people seem half starved. Eating disorders are a serious problem, they cause so many issues all coming from a desire to conform with a body image which is unnatural.

Curves are awesome. Bony is not. And the jibes that push girls into starving themselves are the height of cruelty.

Anyway - the cheeseburger comment was a bit cruel on our Rihonce. Yep. Thin - but built on a tall frame which made her look thinner than she actually was. I'll have that image in my mind for quite some time :-).

Actually - there's another image I'd like to have retained, it's from the end of project dinner that we had last year and it's of the girls in that last project in their party gear. I'm usually good at remembering pictures but that dinner came 1 day after I got my marbles scrambled again by a bump on the head by a cricket ball, so those memories are damaged.

Thoroughly enjoyed it last night and I'll be back for more at the next one. I didn't join in with the dancing for a couple of reasons :

I'm hopeless at dancing - my power legs are a curse there. I can dodge and react but getting them to behave with timing ? LOL. It takes too much to get them moving to have any chance of being in sync or time.
And I was suffering on the inside too - My outsides have improved over the last couple of days since the latest doctor visit but my insides are still compromised by my levels being all askew. Basically, if I look too long off to the side or twist too much, there's a big chance of something going bang and me going OW.
I also have a few too many inhibitions for my liking that I'll need to dump at some point.

I'm hoping that sorts itself out. Can't close without mentioning the raffle - I think my prize (the Pendennis Dwagon) was the Most Wanted and he's gone to a good home. I won a tin of Roses which will keep me going for a little while :-).

Oh - I also have a new nickname that I like and am going to keep. In true Robert Downey Jr film style :

I am Dwagon Man.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013


I'm torn at the moment.

When I make a decision to do something, I like to dive in head first and execute it. Ok, I may procrastinate a little more and hunt out the best deal but I do like to make the change when it's time to do so.

The latest is the laptop ... (says he writing this post with 7.3lbs, 3.3kg of laptop between knees and tummy - it could be a short post).

I've decided what I want to do, it's the execution that's going to be frustrating now. I know what laptop I'll get :

Macbook Air, 13.3", 256GB drive, latest generation. That's what I want, it meets the spec I'm interested in and the hard disc is big enough to hold my iTunes library with tonnes of space left over. Not convinced that a 128GB drive would have enough room left after the library (which is now 11169 tracks, 62GB).

The frustration now is how I want to buy it. I.e. spending the minimum possible to get what I want. I have a number of options :

Buy refurbished - this depends on stock and would cost £959.
Yes - that's a lot of money ! But I target having this puppy for 5 years at least.
Buy different - a Macbook Pro costs more for less capability. Not an option.
Buy from a reseller - they're cheaper but they're last generation. Meh.
Use the work discount - cost £1060.
(Refurb wins there)
Go by the Apple Store price - £1129.

You can probably tell that I'd like to go by the refurbished price and guess what - there was one on sale until ... Monday night. Why did I hold off before making the decision ? Because I was booked in for a tyre change appointment on Tuesday evening and didn't want the deliveries to clash.

Ho hum. Procrastination sometimes doesn't pay.

A Windows laptop is still a possible alternative. However ... none of the ones at PC World meet an acceptable spec (either they're Windows 8 or the screens/keyboard don't measure up). A potential gamble would be PCSpecialist.com, although that's a gamble because I've never used them before so I have no idea as to their quality. But :

A spec equivalent to the Macbook Air would be a 13.3" Optimus V :
Intel i5-4200, 8GB RAM (more but Windows needs it), 240GB SSD - £833

What I would buy - 15" Cosmos II :
IPS* 1080p screen, Intel i5-4200, 8GB, 500B hybrid HD - £761

*If you're buying a monitor and have a choice, go for an IPS screen. I dunno what the acronym stands for (I'm techie but I read stuff, pick up the key points and forget the acronyms) but IPS screens are the best on the market. And considering that the screen is how you interact with the laptop, it's the most vital thing out there.

Both of those are with Windows 7. However, you're still stuck with Microsoft software there and an uncertain keyboard, trackpad and screen. I tried out the Macbook keyboard and my fingers definitely appreciated the feel.

So - I'm torn.

I WANT SHINIES !!!!! NOW !!!! (lol)

But - I don't actually have to buy it now. I can wait. Which is what I will do. The thing that makes things cost more is rushing into things and being hasty.

Although if you don't act with enough speed, you can miss out on a good thing. I've done that a few times in the past ... and I'm not talking about computers ;-) Mind you, I've also rushed in and scared people off.

Let's see ... WoW is queueing, this Body of Proof episode is almost done ... time to close !

Monday, October 07, 2013

On the verge of ...

The credit card is going to hate me by the end of the week.

I have two expensive things (technically 3) on the extraordinary shopping list ... The first is actually quite mundane. The car needs new front tyres. One disadvantage to having a relatively high performance car is that the bits cost a lot and for the tyres, it's £100 a corner.

It could be more but I'm avoiding the big name people in favour of Hankook, who score well on the economy, wet driving and noise thingys. Do I believe the economy, wet driving and noise thingys ? Nope - but in the absence of better info, they're all I have to go on. I've never used Hankook before, I'm curious as to how they work out. Hopefully better than Continental, which have been universally useless in all the cars that I've owned which have had those inflicted upon them.

Before the next bit - how about me ?

My legs are in far better shape now. They're actually normalising ... I know ... that's taken a lot of time. My arms on the other hand (oops - didn't mean that pun but it was inevitable) need me to leave them alone more so they can heal. It's just so easy to damage bits. And I'm not mentioning the two places that I really want to have healing happen on them.

I've been warcrafting again. A little too much to be honest. I have a feeling that the swelling in my legs was actually protecting the joints - lol. Warcraft hits me in the wrist and shoulder because I tunnel into it a little too much. That's not to say I wouldn't get safe (easier now that you can fly) and have a good natter to someone if messages popped up but if left to my own devices, I'll easily sink 3-4 hours into it straight. That's not really healthy and I've been using iTunes and dinner times as a marker for breaks. Plus I'm getting better at recognizing the signs of being in the game too long and take breaks.

I think after the initial rush wears off, I'll get back to normal again but I have sunk an obscene amount of my spare home time into it over the past week. And I've a) enjoyed it, b) been glad to be back in the guild (they're a good bunch) and c) the tunneling has given my fingers something to do which does not involve self damage.

So what's this thing that's going to break the credit card if it's more than the tyres ?

I'm going to make the jump to Macbooks ...

Every time I do a blog post on this laptop, I'm reminded about how bad the keyboard has got. I'm continually going back over to retype where random key didn't get recognied. See what I mean ? That's acually light for what it tends to miss ;-). But it's not just the keyboard, it's been suffering for power too although that could be the Firefox web browser and Flash being horribly inefficient. So it's time for the laptop to be traded in for something different.

It'll be a Macbook because I've had enough of Microsoft software (it's been steadily getting more and more hostile) and Windows laptops don't offer a spec I like at a price I'm prepared to pay. So I'm jumping ship to something that will be very shiny indeed. It'll be a bit of an effort migrating though :

Screen size - the resolution is similar but I'll be going from 17" down to 13.3". However ... it'll also be about a quarter of the weight. And with me occasionally tapping out a blog post with the laptop on my knees, that'll be appreciated.
Itunes - I might be able to copy over my library and keep the data but to be honest, I'm quite tempted to reset it all anyway. Of course it'll take me literally 6 months to re-rate all the music again but there we go :-). I wonder how long it would be before I'd start seeing repeat tracks.
Digiguide - is the one piece of Windows software that I use that I would miss from the laptop. But to be honest, it's a tv guide application and there are ways around it being gone.
Interface - my fingers dance on the keyboard. Tis nice.

But the rest of it - Skype (which I rarely use now since Microsoft forced us off the perfectly good Messenger), web browsing, email is done equally good or better on the Mac. And for the stuff that doesn't play nicely with Mac, I have my desktop. I'm not likely to put many games on the Macbook, gaming on a laptop is somewhat cruel for the laptop.

The one I'll get will be a 13.3" Macbook Air with a 256 GB hard disc. I'll be going for a refurb model for £££ off the price. It's still a lot of money but I'm hoping that it'll last long enough to wear out in ... a longer time than this laptop at least (almost 4 years)

We shall see !

I'm almost done with catchup on the Youtube videos so it's time to join that Draenor Warcraft queue again ...

Friday, October 04, 2013

Distraction ? Therapy

I've reactivated the Warcraft ...

I dunno. I'd convinced myself that I wasn't going to go back in and the only thing that's really changed that is the price of the expansion going down. It is still one of the best games out there though, from a pure gameplay point of view. There's an immense amount of content in there.

One sad thing is that they've dumbed it down so much and sped up the progression so much that individual characters are almost forced to skip parts of the content because they race past its relevance so quickly. When that happens, the character gets minimal experience and there's no challenge. You can have multiple characters, so that's not as big an issue as it could be.

Yep. Back in Warcraft. It's partly medicinal, for my skin problem (honest - it just happens to work out that way). A lot of the cause for my skin issues is self inflicted. Idle hands can't resist scratching and making it worse. Warcraft gets me in a tightly focused mode where I can zone out and zone in to the game. So instead of my fingers attacking my arms and leg, they're tapping the keys.

There's a couple of other changes I've made too to manage the condition and it's having a good positive effect. It's a hell of a lot better than it was a few weeks ago.

It's still a long way from healed but it's getting there. My legs are definitely less angry with me although it's not all done yet. It's something I'm going to need to continually work on. I'm also hoping it doesn't come back now that I've finished the latest round of drugs.

It has had an impact though. I think it's fairly well trashed this laptop. The keyboard is getting less and less responsive. The next machine is going to be a Macbook Air for a number of reasons :

Windows laptops come with Windows 8 (ok, I could get one from Novatech or PCSpecialist with Windows 7 but that's hassle) and Windows 8 is an abomination
All Microsoft software lately seems to be an abomination actually, it's only through mass protest that the Xbox One had all its u-turns on spec. I think someone told Microsoft that if they'd followed through on the original plan, the market share would have been something like 10 to 1 in favour of the Playstation 4.
Windows laptops don't have acceptable specs. They're either last generation processors (or older!) and it cost £600 to get a 17" with a decent screen. The prices of Windows laptops have steadily gone up, making them less economic to acquire.

Ok - that's the anti-Microsoft ... I've also eliminated Linux as a choice because it doesn't allow support (it can be done but I'd expect problems) for iTunes and the hardware support would be patchy at best. I'd get a Macbook Air 13.3" with a 256GB hard disc and it has a number of advantages :

The keyboard and trackpad felt lush when I tried tapping out a sentence on one. I suffer from wrist problems too, so when it's harder to type, it literally hurts.
The Macbook Air has the latest generation Intel cpu, which is a serious amount of power.
It has a solid state device drive - it's tough to say why these are good but you would notice the difference
Proper hardware support - ok it may be locked down but it has a development team looking out for the bugs, the alternative is Linux which can only be described as anarchic with its development
Unix based so (allegedly - I don't believe the claim here) no virus or malware trouble
Proper legacy operating system support - Microsoft don't want you to have this, Apple make it easy

Am I going to buy one now ? I have to admit, since I noticed an evening delivery option it's got a lot more tempting. That means I could abuse the flexi a little, get home from work early and in time for the delivery. Daytime deliveries are far more awkward to manage.

However. The golden rule of buying anything is - don't rush into it. I could get a refurb Macbook for 15% off but I get the feeling there may be more offers around the corner ...

We shall see ! It'll definitely feel weird transferring over from Windows to Mac but to be honest, Microsoft only have themselves to blame for an inevitable loss in market share as people like me migrate to other platforms (Mac, PS4, Linux) due to the Microsoft offerings being hostile to the people who are forced to buy them through a lack of competition.