Monday, November 25, 2013

Not dead yet ...

Ok, that title's a bit dramatic.

I was just thinking that I've not posted anything since saying I'd picked up a tummy bug. Bugs down there are rare for me. If I do get them, they only last a day or so until the Nasties are out of my system.

I have two theories right now :

It's something I ate (definitely !) - chief subject is a flapjack
It's something I cook with (it fits cos I tend to cook with the same implements)

The Nasties should have been out of my system by now - they're not. Oh well. It's not too bad - you can probably guess the symptoms so I won't describe them here. (Someone at work today asked and he was definitely getting that "Too Much Information !!" look). They're not getting in the way of what I want to do.

I'm testing that second theory by having take out as much as I can this week and seeing what happens. If I recover, I'll bin the cooking implements and get some new ones.

Lesson - work the problem to get your answer. The plan will actually work out a little - chippie tonight. Chinese tomorrow (they have a day off on Monday's). KFC possibly Wednesday - I'm expecting to have to go to that Post Office pick up place again which will put me in the vicinity of the Mall. Something Different on Thursday (thinking about watching Hunger Games 2 - anyone join me ?)

We'll see how that goes.

Skin's giving mixed signals. I think the infection has pretty much gone but my arms haven't recovered as much as my legs have. The legs are doing pretty well actually but the arms are a bit too much in range when my guard's down when trying to get to sleep. But ... it's coming ...

Ok. Change of subject.

Watched the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special on Saturday. They've been hyping this mercilessly, so much that it was a relief when the show actually came around. Hype is a strange thing. It can give all sorts of expectations. The fans get all sorts of expectations. Star Wars had this in spades with the prequel sequels and a lot of the fans think they were failed by those prequel sequels. (I think they're decent action movies but crippled by Lucas's hamfisted treatment of his own universe)

Doctor Who ? Awesome. After just 5 minutes I'd navigated to the Amazon page to check out the bluray and I almost preordered it.

It was a pretty special show. It had everything, humour, drama, emotion, mystery, silliness. I thoroughly enjoyed it and the only reason I haven't preordered it is because BBC have a habit of not giving you bluray quality on blurays (Sherlock didn't have bluray quality sound, so I can't watch it without risking the sound skip problem). I'll get it when I can be assured of no frustration with the sound (picture doesn't mean much to me but sound ? crucial).

Matt Smith has been a very worthy Doctor. I've been watching Doctor Who since a babe and he's one of the best. That's always going to be the utterly mad Tom Baker but Matt Smith is right up there too. He can snap from one aspect of the Doctor's personality to another in a split second in a way that instantly grabs the attention.

He was supported by a couple of the better companions too in Rory Pond and Clara. Amy Pond started well but just ran out of good writing.

You're probably guessing that I'm a huge Doctor Who fan. You'd be right. It's consistently been good quality scifi (ok, the Sylvester McCoy times were cursed by awful writing) and it's always been entertaining. That's the key for me, stories on telly have to be entertaining. Things like Stargate Universe forgot that. The new Battlestar Galactica got lost in thinking it had a clever plan (it didn't, they started making it up as they went along).

I hope I keep things entertaining here. That's enough for tonight ! I'm going to watch the first episode of Britain By The Sea (oh look ! Pendennis Castle, home of Mr Cuddles !) and then it's back to Azeroth for my latest mage. She's searing the Searing Gorge tonight.

PS If there's any rumours that the 50th special almost did a Bolt on me and drew tears near the end, I'll utterly deny them. However, I will confirm there was an Oh My God during the epilogue.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Appetite - AWOL

Think I need to change one of my habits.

I don't suffer from the effects of bad food too often (the extra acid I make beats up the bugs I think) but it still happens sometimes ...

Before you start thinking "Too Much Information!", it's not been messy type food reaction. Phew ! But I have been feeling :

Extremely wiped out

Last night was pretty much a right off. I just watched videos (after watching Jack Reacher off the box - good but I ain't gonna buy it). Not feeling like I could raise the concentration to do gameplaying at the moment. It's different at work. I've been reserving my energy for work time and trying to chill out at home.

I'm a bit improved tonight, although that appetite is rather missing. I usually find my hunger demanding that I have a teacake in the morning, a lunch and something munchable in the afternoon. To be honest, the afternoon munchie is really just an excuse to get away from my desk for 5 minutes or so. There's a limit to how long people can concentrate and that 5 minutes away lets me reset my brain.

Anyway - no teacake, no afternoon munchie and the packet of cookies on my desk staring at me at the moment is unopened.

Yes ! Cookies ! Unopened ! I must be ill. Lol.

I think I'm coming to the end of this little phase of malingering though. I'm feeling a little better than yesterday evening although I still won't open the games up. I think it's come from a flapjack from yesterday. I have my doubts about those flapjacks. They may have more than flapjack in, the kind of stuff that's beaten you to it and is eating away at the flapjack already. Yep. Furries.

My condition's steadily improving in general actually. The signs of skin damage are steadily fading away, although I'm having to keep that discipline together because it's really easy to set the healing back. That's on the outside at least, on the inside the pain levels have been going up as my muscles declare their dislike of the cold.

Talking of the cold ... I need a scarf. That'll seal up my neck and hopefully keep my neck and back warmer while I'm waiting for the bus. My ears have been getting cold too. But ... no longer.

Mall trip tonight. I actually bought stuff too :

Laptop bag - actually a rucksack but it's a good idea to have bags that don't scream "Expensive Stuff Inside - Steal Me"
And ... The See Me From Space Hat

Yep. It is mine. And it'll keep my ears warm as well as being a beacon for traffic.

And there's a picture on Facebook too (it's staying there, no pictures of me here ! Too many nutters in internet to expose that to - they'd get ideas). Let's just say, it was dark yet the picture did not need the flash turned on ...

Yep. Feeling better tonight but still not feeling especially brilliant. Appetite is still a bit lacking but to be honest, that's not a bad thing. My weight has crept up to the point where I'm suffering from acid again. That's usually a sign that I need to lose weight. That'll help my bones and muscles too, they don't like it when I weigh too much.

Oh what I really shouldn't do tonight ...

It's the Ashes again ! It begins tonight with England playing Australia with the start time being 00.00 midnight GMT. There's a 2 hour session until the lunch break which, in a healthier condition, would have me tempted to watch until that lunch break.

I'll try to get to bed at a reasonable time. Honest ... Looking forward to showing the hat off at work tomorrow :-)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Weekend mayhem

Last weekend saw me taking a run up to the parents place for the birthdays.

It wasn't just my birthday last week, it's the sister's too. Our birthdays are 2 days apart (and a classified* number of years)

*(If I told you, you'd be ok but she'd hunt me down and kill me. Slowly.)

They're ok up there. The Family is full of people with active brains. We have to be doing Stuff all the time. Mum and Dad have been struggling a bit there since they retired but they're still finding things to keep them busy. (It's a big house with a bigger veggie garden than most people's allotments). Mum's doing better recently too, she's injured her arm quite badly and it's a difficult fix (bad muscles, bad tendons and both ganging up on the other).

Enter the Puppy.

The Family's always had dogs. We had a cat for a while too. Not sure what happened to Patch, it's been a few decades. The latest family pooch is Ben, who's been with us for a few years now. He's a Staffy with as good a temperament as you'd ever want in a dog. Possibly too chill because he won't do what Scruff did once - bark so loudly (think there was some foaming in there too) at the doorstoppers that "Go away or my dog will eat you" would have been very believable. Ben is a lot more placid than that.

I don't have a dog, there's not enough room here and I'd need to dog proof the back yard. Besides, the poor fella would be on his own all day and that's no way for a muttley to live.

New Puppy ? He's called Murph (short for Murphy 2) and he'll be a massive labrador when he grows up. He's only 21 weeks at the moment. Here he is :
That's a really sweet face isn't it ? There happened to be meat scraps involved ...

He's got massive paws, you can see how long that tail is and the legs are pretty long too. His body hasn't caught up yet, so he seems scrawny. When he gets his adult size, he'll be able to pull carts. Fast too. I'm wondering if his nickname should be Little Monster (for the size he'll grow to) or Missile.

Lovely dog, although Ben was having issues. Didn't know how to deal with the puppy. Hopefully when Murph comes next time, Ben will assert himself a bit more as Alpha Dog. Pooches need to do that, they need to establish their pecking order or the younger dogs will take too many liberties with the older dogs.

But yeah, I reckon he'll turn into a very sweet affectionate dog who keeps an eye on his people.

Weekends like that wipe me out though. I'm just about regaining enough energy to count as "Very Tired", so I'm looking forward to Xmas when I'll get a good chance to have a rest. Not just that, I've twisted my knee and I'm also nursing a minor ankle sprain. Add to that the usual stuff where my body dislikes the cold (fine when I'm moving, warming up is the issue !) and I'm looking for quiet time.

Not that long to go until Xmas.

Nothing's been mentioned yet but there will be another Crazie meet up where we can chill out in company. I'll head back to the parents for a few days too (likely to have a few visitors too). Wonder if something extraordinary will happen and I get to treat someone ? No likelihood of that at the moment sadly.

It's a chill out evening tonight too. Plan A was to head off to the Mall but traffic was bad (there will be other nights and I can pick and choose when I face that traffic).

There's a Bright Yellow See Me From Space Hat that's calling me. I need it.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Thinking : Connections ...

And why we can't have nice things.

This one's been triggered by something I spotted on the Register today. It's partly about some Sonos sound kit but mostly about connectivity.

We have great expectations these days, we like to be able to plug one piece of electronics into another and we expect them to work together. It used to be pretty easy, just plug a SCART lead into the dvd player or the video recorder and send it to the telly. And on things that didn't have the room for SCART, there was the yellow lead for picture and the red and white leads for audio.

It used to be simpler back then, we didn't have the expectations for things to work together. Now, we have a wonderful replacement for SCART that takes audio and video in the same lead. But ... it doesn't work that well.

My hifi is connected up along reasonably traditional lines - it has leads that go to the speakers and I hide them behind various Stuff. There's only one lead that runs across the floor (speaker lead). The rest map up as follows :

TV cable box to Telly (through 5 leads)
Telly to hifi (through 1 lead)
Xbox to hifi (through HDMI)
Bluray player to hifi (by HDMI again)
Hifi to telly (by HDMI)
Littlewhitebox to hifi (by 1 lead)

The reason everything possible hooks up via HDMI is because of Trust Issues - the money people in media made it so that the device sending the picture needs to be able to Trust the devices it's sending everything to or it will send a degraded picture. I have to use HDMI for the bluray or I don't get the best sound.

However ... it's not a particularly great connection. It's prone to bad equipment causing problems :

TV cable box can't send a stable picture by HDMI
Bluray player can't send stable sound with dvds

Yep. I have to use my Xbox as a dvd player. I think it's actually a problem with the hifi rather than the bluray player but it shows that the shiny new connection isn't as good as it should be. I think it's those Trust Issues getting in the way. I also have to start things up in a particular order or I get problems.

Where's this going ? Lol - I'm wondering that myself.

I'd like to be able to connect anything I have to everything else. And I'd like to do that without :

Interference (the audio streaming suffers from this)
Wires on the floor
Reliability issues.

It's a shame the Trust Issues happen. They're in there because piracy is so rampant these days that the money people demand protection is built in. That's why we can't have nice things. It's because there's a tonne of people out there who can afford shiny pcs and internet subscriptions but are too cheap to pay for dvds, cds and blurays. And in doing their pirating, they make things more expensive for the rest of us.

I'll close by saying what I would like to make in an ideal world. We'll assume the multimedia house has to be around other people. We'll have :

Network. I used to think an Ethernet socket with each power connector would be the thing to do. And you'd put the router as close to the phone as possible for a good connection. Then ? Wifi comes along and makes things easier. However ... wifi is very susceptible to interference and not just from other wifis. Now ? I'd use Powerline networking to hook everything up.

If ... you could send the video and audio around the network. (The Apple TV looks curious here) Apple's Airplay works pretty well for audio and I understand there's a few other potential methods out there too.

Airplay ? It's what the Airport Express does. It takes in wifi and sends out audio from iTunes or other stuff that knows about Airplay. It's a fantastic little device, easy to move from place to place. You just plug it in and it does its thing. Means I can take it up to my parents' place and use it like I do here.

Video - I think people overcomplicate this. They expect to squirt video around a network. Nah. Better to have a tame laptop and send the video that way. Or one of those little boxes that looks at the internet to stream things. To have it in the telly ? Madness. It rarely works properly and you have totally inadequate ways of finding what you want. It's bad enough to find things on my V+ box when you're navigating the On Demand area.

That's what I'd like - to have a simple way of hooking everything up that works time and time again. Powerline networking might be a good way but ... it would be handy if you could build it into things like laptop power supplies. Hook up the power ? Get network too. That would be great.

We're a long way off having that multimedia nirvana. Hopefully it won't be too long away but I think for now we'll have :

Lots of different boxes doing lots of different things
As many different leads as boxes
And still more conflicts where things don't play nicely together

And all because the pirates cause us to not be able to have Nice Things !

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Birthdays again


That time of year again. Time to get cakes for the team and lie outrageously about the age. I have to admit, I don't lie that outrageously about my age but I find it hilarious to get other people to lie about my age.

I managed to get 3 guesses out of people today, although 2 of them knew far too much about my history which made their guesses reasonably close :

Bloke colleague - 37 (because he knows that I was on a certain course at the end of last century)
MiniMegan - 35 (due to comments about me working on stuff last century)
IT Girl (different one) - 25

That last guess is freakin' awesome. And that's language of a colour I only use here for emphasis. Guessing that low is amazing.

I'm curious actually - those of you who come here on the Facebook feed and therefore have access to real pictures of me, take a guess ! Even it's above my real age, it'll make me laugh. And laughter is one of the best sources of medicine for the soul.

It's a sign actually of how I've improved over the past year. This time last year (actually October), I was struggling with chunks missing out of my ear lobes and zombie patches on my face. And that's just the visible signs that I couldn't hide. The skin problem erupted over a very short time from being just on my legs, to being over maybe 30-40% of me. It still affects a lot of me but I'm in far better condition on the outside than I was this time last year.

Not out of the woods just yet though.

But I am a lot better even than last week when I was getting squished under a depressive cycle. I guess flipping that "Do I care ?" switch about a particular person has made more difference than it should have done. I still think about her for a significant proportion of the day (cos I'm still worried about her, partly due to lack of info) but the emphasis has shifted.

Yeah - I worry about a bunch of people. I have a hyperactive mind that flips back and forward like a rocket assisted metronome. So what I worry about flips around a lot, from hoping CQ is ok, to agreeing with BK that banning dogs is stoopid, to keeping an eye on the Phillipines situation, hoping that my new friends in the PHO group are coping with our nasty illness.

What I would like to find is someone in particular to worry about. Nah. That's not right. To find someone in particular to find ways to amuse in as imaginative and varied ways as possible. To have a target for all sorts of subterfuge that goes into surprising people in nice ways. And someone to help me out as well in return.

I think you get the picture there. Someone to ease that loneliness. It seems like whenever I find that rare person with that potential, they're either involved with someone else, be totally oblivious to my presence or run away screaming (metaphorically) when I invite them to do Stuff.

What did I do today on birthday day ?

Work as usual today, although a little more relaxed than average. That's partly due to us having a team brief which, while informative, puts a hole in the middle of the day when you're not actually producing anything. They're highly beneficial and we'd miss them if they were stopped.

There's two schools of thought with working on birthdays. I like being around people, which is why I'll work on my birthday. I get to buy them cakes and have them guess my age. The cake buying and giving thing cheers me up. Although it's important to respect people's wishes with the cakes. It's not a good thing to keep on at people to "Have a cake !" when they're a certain figure and maintaining that figure doesn't allow for cake.

As someone who needs to stay below a certain weight in order to have Outrageous Speed, I can understand that. Although I'm not religious about the weight thing because I know I have a certain natural weight which my body self regulates.

After work ? I'd have liked to join the work people in town, there was a leaving drinks thing this evening. Sadly (lol!) though, I had to pick up parcels from the Post Office place and the only viable time was tonight. They only open late on a Wednesday.

That gave me a perfect excuse to see Gravity ... I had to avoid the nearer Vue cinema due to them not showing it in Non Gimmick mode. Yep, just 3d showings for Cribbs. Their loss. The Longwell Green Vue is far higher quality. It feels like its been looked after. It has brighter carpets, they've painted the walls. The projectors gave a sharp picture.

Yep. I'll go back there, although there's less support places (Cribbs has a proper Mall instead of scattered retail park shops) at Longwell Green.

That's another thing about having a cooperative partner to drag around. Tonight's dinner was MehDonalds. I'd have much preferred to have an actual meal in the pub there or maybe even the Frankie & Bennys.

I'd better close out soon cos I'm rambling :

Condition - much improved since last year
Mental state - greatly enhanced by hilariously low guesses of my age
Gravity - excellent film, drama level maintained throughout
Birthday wishes - had lots of them today.

Thanks everyone !

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Offensively yellow

So I thought yesterday - I'm feeling fairly ok, I need to watch the Thor movie before the Agents of Shield episode spoils it, traffic's good and I need some hi viz clothing.

So after getting home on the bus, off I pop to the local Cribbs Causeway Mall to check things out. That's :

Thor movie ! After a dry spell, I've watched two movies in the cinema recently. Last night was the turn of Thor and I have to say, enjoyable and pretty good. However, the showdown at the end was getting a little confusing.

The other movie was Ender's Game. Interesting movie. It's about a kiddie who's recruited to be a soldier in a genocidal war with aliens. The movie shows his development from raw recruit, up to fleet commander. It's a pretty decent movie too, I'll be definitely getting it on bluray when it arrives. However. Suspension of belief is required for a few things :

It's set roughly 50 years after Sometime Around Now. There's an incredible amount of technology developed in that time. Not just orbital stations, we're seeing starships and mind controlled drones. It's very hefty tech and I'm not convinced that 50 years is enough to develop and deploy that, even in a scenario where Earth is threatened with annihilation by an implacable alien enemy.

Two pretty good movies. I'm looking forward to Gravity now, which is almost out on release over here. Also on the horizon is Hunger Games 2, which I class as "interesting". They made an excellent job of getting as much out of a somewhat thin book as they could. And of course I'll be watching Hobbit 2, although that's more out of a kind of obligation than expecting to enjoy it. That sounds strange doesn't it ? The Peter Jackson movies are definitely Spectacle movies that kinda have to be seen. Avatar was like that too. But I won't wear the bluray out like I will with Iron Man.

High vis ?

I wear dark clothing to work. I don't have much that's light and even there, it's hidden under the jacket. So - the thought was, to keep me a little safer from the vaguaries of Bristol traffic, buy a little bit of high vis. I'm thinking straps to go over my jacket to make me a little more visible. I don't have to walk on the roads but I do have to cross them. And this is Bristol traffic we're talking about. They don't look, don't stop, definitely don't slow down and pay very little attention to crossings.

Aldi last week had nothing worth getting. Halfords last night had 3 items - waistcoat, jacket/coat and bobble hat. The waistcoat would be hidden under a jacket, so not worth it. The jacket/coat was so heavy that I'd cook after a minute wearing it (You could see me from space if I wore it though). The bobble hat was Very Bright, Very Yellow and Highly tempting. I could possibly even wear it over my current hat thinking about it.

Yeah, it can be a little dangerous and I don't bounce so much now.

Last night felt pretty good actually. I had proper Stompiness coming back in. That's a little strange. It's the confidence that comes from knowing you can move exactly as you want to be able to move. Otherwise awkward movements become fluid and coordinated.

There tends to need to be a few things coming together for me to feel like that :

Being in a good place in my head - yeah, I've been in better shape lately mentally since the post last week where I did that analysis of where I'm having difficulty. Posts like that help me figure out what's really going on and let me figure out how to address it.

But it's not just that. It's the people at work who keep me feeling valued.
It's seeing people from the old project, seeing someone's face light up as I tell how I mention her here.
(It makes her blush, which just enhances the sunshine effect).
It's putting a ghost or two to rest. That frees up a bit of future.

That last bit - it's from seeing what people really say and correlating it with what you've done, what you've offered and how people have behaved. Let's just say I'm happy with how I've been and out of patience with others. The answer to "Are they worth it ?" is now "No".

And that's a classification I hate to make.

Yeah. I'm getting to a condition where I can move on with Stuff, which includes a few things coming together :

Condition - I'm improving on the outside although I'm not counting my chickens just yet.
Confidence - that'll come, although I should look to find another place to work (been where I am too long).

And a few more things I can't think of at the moment. Stompiness felt good yesterday, although it didn't last too long. And that Yellow Hat Of Offensiveness ... may have to be bought. If only because of it being so bright the astronauts in the space station would be able to see it.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

It's at queue times like this ...

You ask yourself - "why didn't I start the login process before having my shower ?"


I'm currently waiting for 223 people ahead of me to get off the Silvermoon WoW server. It's actually moving fairly quickly. One thing about Silvermoon, it has shorter queues and they clear quicker than Draenor.

I'm active on 2 realms at the moment :

Draenor - is the new home of the Violence Reborn horde guild. These are the awesome people who gave me a new home after a lot of silliness kicked off in the guild I helped create, oh - 8 and a half years ago now. That showed what could happen when raiding and the politics around getting a bunch of people out every few nights to raid. The guild basically tore itself apart with the tensions between those who wanted progress and those who just wanted to enjoy the game.

I've gone from one end to the other. I wanted to see the content and be part of a team that kicked ass. Mind you, that was partly due to knowing who the raid leader was. Yep, she was pretty awesome and it's a genuine pleasure to have her as a friend.

Here's to you Overqueen ! It was never the same after you left for the BC beta.

The VR people are a bit more laidback, they don't mind too much that I got burned out completely from raiding and have no real interest in that end game stuff any more. I feel a bit guilty actually for spending more time on :

Silvermoon - is the home of the alliance guild I'm helping level. I've never really played much alliance. After a short dalliance with them in the early days, I was horde all the way. So there's a lot of levelling content that I've never seen.

That's where the game is for me, the journey up to maximum level. It's a different game after that, filled with repetition and lacking in interest. On the way there, you journey through 2 worlds and a bunch of continents with lots of stories along the way. I'm about to jump into adventures in the southern tip of Azeroth with my new mage. (Queue's almost done !)

But there are a few changes I'm displeased about in WoW.

They seem to be joining realms together on the quiet. I'm fairly ok with that when it comes to the auction houses. More players means there's more people to sell stuff. That means more competition, better availability and lower prices. That's great. But what isn't is the competition when you're out in the wild doing the adventures. There's far too much competition out there and I'm often seeing players from other realms getting to the baddies that I'm hunting down. They get in the way and make me take longer.

Guild invites. This is the new junkmail. On at least half the characters I've started, there have been unsolicited guild invites coming up even before the introductory cutscene.

This is silliness of the highest order.

It's like having 5 or 6 people knocking on your door every night inviting you to a rave. That's what guilds with no control on who joins them are like. They're noisy, filled with rabble and no place I want to be. If a guild wants to have people of the calibre of the average WoW player (it's very low, dregs of gaming society - trust me on that) without even a brief chat to see if they're polite (or even talk the language of the server), then I don't want to be a part of them.

That comes out as slightly ranty but I've seen what disruptive people can do to a guild. They'll troll the members just for fun. You can't trust anything they do or say. They'll clean out your guild bank. And all sorts of other nasty stuff. I don't know about Draenor but on The Maelstrom, there was a guild called something like "Cairne's Cows". If one of those turned up in a group, the rest of the members would leave. It was that bad. I used to arrange raid groups surreptitiously so that if we had to take one, there would be only one member of Chaos AD in the group. (That was a fella called Rana who was actually pretty good - the rest were disruptive liars).

WoW's got a bit more friendly to the solo player since then though. There's more facilities in there for getting into random groups but even then, you see the dregs of the player base causing problems for the rest. I've not used the facility too much (intentionally) but saw plenty of frustration in guild chat from those who did.

WoW's an awesome game in terms of content but the players really drag it down.

Mind you. There are some awesome players out there and I'll close out with a few :

The Legendary Sandra - who retired from the game a few years ago. She drew a comment of "I like this one, can we keep her ?" to Sarai the Overqueen during our first MC raid after a schism in the raid organisation.
Overqueen - I've mentioned her up top there. She had the hard task of keeping Guildlink on track, it was never the same after she got drawn into the BC beta.
The original Mercs - the ones from work I mean, not the people who came in afterwards, some of who were responsible for tearing the guild apart (and then buggering off to a raiding guild).
All of the VR people

And I'm looking forward to helping the new guild through its adventures.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Tone Challenge

Beware ... there's a Warcraft post coming soon. But, keep reading, it's not this one !

As I was leaving work tonight, I heard something I thought I'd never hear ... My phone, ringing in someone else's pocket. Ok. Not my phone exactly but the ring tone. I currently use the Ennio Morricone theme tune to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, which actually works rather well (if you customise it to remove the very quiet bit at the start).

But ... someone else has it now, so it's no longer unique and therefore I need a new one.

What shall it be ? I've got lots to choose from. The tracks I use come from the iTunes library which has only 11314 usable tracks in it. I need more. There's a few rules though :

It has to avoid resulting in the phone being put in a bucket. You know the type.
It has to be instantly recognisable. You know, a song you hear and immediately know what it is.
It has to start being loud immediately so you grab the phone before the answer thingy kicks in.
Cheesiness has to be avoided (see bucket comment but add water)

Wait ... what's this ? Another music post so soon ? Yey ! I like doing these. I'll do another one sometime "soon" which will have the amazing tracks that didn't make the Top 40 due to not having long enough in the library.

If I had a partner, the Alisha's Attic B side "Wonderful U" would be perfect, although some relationships I know turn into their other B side "When You Coming Home ?".

The Gorillaz track M1A1 would be an amazing ring tone. Hearing the "HELLOOOO IS THERE ANYONE THERE" ringing out across the floorplate would be highly amusing. At least for a short time before you raced across, not to answer it but to rescue it from the water bucket.

It takes a while to get started too, so you'd need that custom thingy. I use an app for that, which I won't name and therefore advertise because it annoyed the hell out of me by giving unwanted notifications saying "You haven't made a ring tone this week". Yeah. Cos I'm happy with the one I have.

Another couple that are worthy but take time starting are In The Round by The Cardigans (love that song) and In The Hall Of The Mountain King, which is part of Edvard Grieg's Peer Gynt. They're great pieces of music because they build gently ... but unsuitable to go on the phone for the exact same reason.

I've been thinking of a few good candidates :
Antmusic by Adam and the Ants - well recognisable and loud early start.
Expresso Love by Dire Straits - same with the good start before the vocals come in.
Black Velvet by one hit wonder Alannah Myles - instantly recognisable start again but it'll date you if you recognise it ;-)

I'd love to grab an Alisha's Attic, Hannah Peel, All About Eve (esp. Scarlet or The Pearl Fisherman) track for it but they fail the instant recognition test.

Classical is a good source to mine. Adagio For Strings by Barber is another one that's instantly recognisable but ... I associate it with the segment of the Homeworld game where it kicks off when you warp back home to hear radio chatter describing your home planet being turned to glass by orbital bombardment. However ... Mars by Gustav Holst is a good one, as is anything from Carnival of the Animals.

Another few good candidates :
Sk8r Boi by Avril Lavigne - great start but recognition test ?
Mercy by Duffy - very catchy
Sweet Dreams by the Eurythmics - could be, although I prefer the Bat For Lashes version
Tranvision Vamp's Baby I Don't Care - not sure what people would think of the primal scream that starts that one
River City People's version of California Dreamin'

TV shows ? Movies ? I flat refuse to use any of the Star Trek themes. Ha ! I know you thought I'd be tempted. Farscape is a good one, Thunderbirds !!! (bit too common). Firefly ? Awesome series.

Off the wall thought - I wonder if I could get a copy of the Bunbury's cricket song ? Wonder who would recognise that. Maybe as something that only comes up when people from cricket phone me. I know someone who uses the old BBC cricket theme.

I'd better close off there (and join the queue on the WoW server). I'm actually tempted to try something local (and highly nuts). Ooo arr ooo arrr.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Sleepy's Top ... 10 (and a few randoms)

Last post of the Top 40 !

But first a couple of semi random comments. This top 40 thing has marked the step from my old laptop and the Windows world and into the new world of Unix based Mac OS X and Apple laptops. I have to say, apart from the hole it's left in my wallet, it's a decision I'm very comfortable with. And there's a few reasons :

The cost thing isn't actually as big an issue as it used to be. My last laptop cost me £450 for a 17" Acer. Compare that to £1000ish for a Macbook. If you can buy 2 for the price of 1, there's a definite Value For Money issue. My Macbook Air cost about £960 with work discount, a comparable Windows spec would have been £821 from Pcspecialist. That's still a wide difference but not as much as it used to be. Plus you avoid the uncertainties over interface quality.

What is interface quality ? The keyboard and trackpad on the Macbook Air are super high quality. They're as sensitive as you'd want. No more, no less. It's what convinced me to change to Macbook actually. The keyboard, mouse/trackpad and screen are THE most important thing to consider when you're buying electronic Stuff.

Speed. I haven't tried any games on it yet to see how they run but general operation and use is free of all those mysterious pauses and holds that a Windows machine is subject to. It's so efficient, that when you hit the power button, 15 seconds later there will be a cluster of applications open and ready for action. And they'll all be complaining that they have no internet because the laptop has started up before the wifi has had a chance to negotiate. That doesn't happen in Windows. Not even on my desktop which has a similar SSD magic disc. There's no settling down time before things are usable.

It ain't Windows. Microsoft are steadily destroying their PC business by making their software ever more hostile and increasingly less efficient. Mac OS on the other hand is built upon solid computer engineering principles (Unix is a nifty, proven, well evolved system) and it has a well designed user interface on top. Yep. Takes getting used to but that's partly to drop the bad habits that Windows has embedded in people.

Ok ! The rest of the Top 40 (after waiting 5 minutes for the old laptop to fire up)

At 10 there is Paramore with Playing God. Their track The Only Exception from the same album is probably better but this is very high quality summing up the original Paramore before they lost a couple of members. It's from their excellent Brand New Eyes album.

9th most listened to is The Cardigans with I Need Some Fine Wine and You, You Need To Be Nicer. Gosh that's a mouthful. Warning - dark lyrics track (it's about wife/husband beating). Dark subject but it gets all those listens because it's on a great album, it has Nina Persson's voice interacting with the band.

8th is another Cardigans track and is my second favourite - 03.45am No Sleep. Another one that sounds sad but I prefer to go by Nina's interpretation that you've been up chatting with friends and you suddenly realise that the sun is starting to come up. I've had moments like that with the Swedes in the VR guild.

Number 7 is a teenage favourite - I Say Nothing by Voice Of The Beehive. These girls disappeared far too early.

6th in the list is from Edie Brickell's Ultimate Collection (you know - one of those greatest hits albums that a label puts out when an artist moves label). It's 1873, more sad subject but wonderfully sung with great accompaniment.

At 5 is Goldfrapp's Utopia. It's from their Felt Mountain album which is ... weird ... I believe this track is based on the film Metropolis with the lyrics suggesting links to the super computer in control of the city. Other people think it's fascist propaganda. Either way, it's an outstanding showcase for Alison Goldfrapp's voice.

4th is Dire Straits again with Expresso Love. This one gets the nod because of the interplay between guitar and piano which is another Dire Straits trademark. It wasn't just about the voice and guitar with them, they also slid in outstanding instrumental sections where the guitar and other instruments would hand off to each other.

Number 3 is the Biker Bunny Song. It's Bat For Lashes with What's A Girl To Do. It's from her first album, Fur And Gold. It's the track that my sister and I keep going back to cos of That Video. Definitely channelling a bit of Donnie Darko there. Great song from a quite distinctive and very powerful live performer. And because I think this girl is the best thing since Alisha's Attic, here's a bonus - Laura, you're more than a superstar.

Second is The Cardigans again with In The Round. This is also from Super Extra Gravity but what makes this one a bit different is that's a bit more carefree than their usual. Bit like a singer or dancer getting lost in the music from enjoying it so much. It has a melody line that immediately gets your head nodding and then it just builds ... With Nina Persson's lyrics providing the perfect counterpoint as usual.

And finally - the band that started my addiction with music off all those years ago. Back then, I'd have someone shouting "Turn That Down !" even though it could barely be heard outside the door. Now, my dad's favourite song is Apple Tree Man (which I won't link cos the video is very strange). Top song - Devil Woman covered by All About Eve, which is a little sad that it's there because songs like Scarlet, Martha's Harbour, Wishing The Hours Away, Blue Sonic Boy (old school Dr Who fans pay attention!) knock it hollow and that's just one amazing song off each album.

That's it - no more music posts for a while. Well - until I feel the urge again. I don't think many people click on the youtube links but I enjoy listening to the songs over again as I'm building the post up.

How's me ? I had someone let me know they were looking out for me last night, which makes all the difference. They let me talk gibberish at them for a while and it cheered me up a bit. I had a better day today. Cheers !

Monday, November 04, 2013

Feeling that pain again

There's a few times I put stuff here that I really don't want to post, partly because posting it acknowledges it ...

Pain levels are ramping up again ... It seems that as my skin condition improves (and it is, it's a hell of a lot better than it was even 1 month ago), the condition of my insides degrades. Actually, my outsides are now pretty much at the point where if I leave it alone enough (tougher than it sounds!), it may well heal on its own.

And at the moment, you're probably thinking - this is going to be a self pitying post listing all my problems. Which it is - but there's an ulterior motive ... Listing my problems helps me assimilate them, acknowledge them, tackle them and in the end, hopefully beat them.

So what are the problems at the moment ?

Number 1 - acid. I had a period a few years ago when I suffered quite badly from acid reflux. That seems to be coming back but it's fairly explainable. I can acknowledge the triggers and avoid most of them :
Cheese - no more take out pizza. Cheese is definitely consistently making me react. This one's fairly easy to address. Cut out the Dominos when I'm eating alone and save it for when I'm out with people.
Stress - not so easy. I really need to be looking elsewhere, especially with the main blocker (the skin condition) being on the mend. I've been where I am too long and what I'm doing now is less interesting than what I was doing a few years ago. (Not close enough to the tech).

Apart from that, it's grazing on certain things to keep my tummy busy. Give the acid something to work on. Speaking of that, I should really put the dinner on ...

Number 2 - physical state. It feels like some of my tendons are not wanting to be where they should be. Muscles are taking every opportunity to misbehave. Let's have a look at that :

Tendons - I've had a problem with my hips for a while now. It's damage from cricket most of all. I never really figured out a good way of warming up my groin muscles and all the turning and bending you do with cricket takes its toll after a while. This is affecting my hips and my back with the shoulder occasionally joining in too. Improvements in the skin condition will help there too, because instead of sitting on the floor (cos of treatment issues) I'll be more comfortable sitting on sofas and chairs. Hopefully when the repairs get closer to finishing, some of the mineral levels which must be out of whack at the moment will get back to normal. That's been my usual cause of cramp - things like salt imbalance.

But I may still need my hips looked at and I suspect I'll be one who gets hip replacements early. Possibly my knees too, because they've been complaining since the swelling has gone down. I think the swelling was actually keeping my knees intact !

So the solution to this one will be to not take quite so many liberties with how I throw myself around. I've already said I won't play cricket for one of my teams next year. If the other one folds, then I've played my last regular cricket. It still feels like I have some unfinished business there though, especially with the batting but I'd also like an authentic match conditions stumping.

What helped my back before was a couple of very lovely ladies who put my back together again after I hurt it. (Lovely ? Yeah, there was serious emotional trauma involved with them but - that healed in time, they healed my back much quicker saving me from pain of a different kind). I've not found a cooperative healer since then. Yeah, I could go find a physio and that would probably help out my hips too.

That touches on Number 3 ... Mental state

I've mentioned before that I'm touched by manic-depressive tendencies. Well, at the moment, the depressive tendencies are winning out over the manic tendencies that make me bouncy. And what makes this aspect of pain most difficult is that it's something you can rarely deal with on your own.

I really do miss not being around people. I've been hiding a little too long. Hopefully I can reverse that soon. But that's not really what I miss. It's being around special people who think I'm special too. You can feel alone in a crowd but if there's that one special person holding your arm ?

And that's one pain that I'm struggling to do something about. I've met a lot of special people over the years, there's still a few around who I think are special. But ... I've never found anyone where that special feeling is mutual.

Still looking ;-) My problems can be addressed though :

Acid - avoid cheese, keep the stress down
Muscles - be more careful, take in the fluids
Mental - bit more difficult

PS I hate having negative posts as the latest one on here - I must knock it off the top tomorrow with the conclusion of that Top 40 :-)