Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Sleeping for a week ...

... Arising to write a few words.
That's a wonderful sleeping dragon isn't it ? (Picture credit - Sticky Beak Boutique and here's the link to the Amazon page that Google pointed me at)

Ok, so I haven't been asleep since Friday but I have been enjoying my week off work so far. And it's just a rumour that I've been indulging in a 5 day Stellaris bender ... Maybe.

There's been lots of music listened to now. Even with a Portishead album, Evanescence's Synthesis and a Sophie Ellis Bextor orchestral album appearing, I've listened to everything in the library now ! Need more new music. Got a few things in mind but music has gone overpriced and I like my bargains.

It hasn't been all Stellaris. There's been a little bit of the internet spaceships too :
That's the Strength of Atlas on approach to one of the planetary bases. I do like the amount of detail that is added to these bases.

I'm pretty sure it's all programmed in as part of a toolkit approach where the designers have a box of bits that when stuck together, comprise all of the bases ... but it looks fresh whenever you visit a new place. And especially the planetary bases.
And there's a toolkit for the space stations too. In this one, you dock inside the ball and the rest of for your imagination. I think this one had a habitation ring aft, up above the top of the picture, wider than the docking bay ball. If you landed on one of these and only spin gravity were available, you'd be in low gravity in the docking bay which would handily suit docking operations and make cargo handling much easier. Same mass, less apparent weight. And then you'd be in zero g in the spine, transiting up to the higher gravity habitation ring.
I found this as well, an unexpected interchange zone in the middle of the station. Never seen one of those before. It's lovely to see all that unexpected detail.

But anyway - Stellaris ... the latest game in the hunt for the achievements saw me going for the Authoritarian run, where you need 500 population units with at least 200 as slaves. Done that ... although I've gone away from the slavery approach now and emancipated everyone because there were serious problems keeping everyone happy.

There must be a morality thing in there somewhere. Which I'll completely ignore when I close out the game fully because there's another achievement "Keep at least 5 different species as livestock in your empire." On one hand, emancipation of the slaves. The other hand is fetching the dinner plate. I sense it'll be easier to get that achievement in this playthrough instead of the more obvious approach of bringing out the Nomnivorian Swarm (devouring horde) again. The Swarm hungers ... and eats quickly.

I've had deliveries this week too ! Today actually. I don't like to order stuff online unless I can be around for when the delivery happens. So Meltdown's components got acquired when I was last on leave and today, these turn up :

Portable bluray drive - I didn't transfer over the bluray drive from my previous desktop because I thought it was bust. And ... proven correct. There were some jitters and issues when I first fired it up (sound plays but screen goes black) but those mostly went away with a reinstall of the software. Still not perfect though, there were still skips happening. Must test more.

But I did manage to watch and enjoy Rogue One again. It's a cracking movie. I may well work my way through Eps 4 to 8 again before Rise of Skywalker comes out. I'm expecting that one to be absolute junk for story, as per eps 7 and 8 but I think it'll be another stunning spectacle of a movie.

Why do I say that ?
There was an Expanded Universe of books and games that built upon the original trilogy of Star Wars. The X Wing game in particular was a prequel to the first movie, A New Hope, with the Tie Fighter game picking up afterwards. I came to X Wing late and struggled with it (a different era of games which went to insane difficult to gate your progress) but I hugely enjoyed Tie Fighter.

There were many important and incredible books too. I'm thinking of the Michael Stackpole and Aaron Allston X Wing books and the Timothy Zahn books in particular. They expanded upon the worlds and galaxy introduced with the movies and added rich storytelling. I also enjoyed the Knights of the Old Republic (aka KOTOR) game, set 4,000 years before the movies and should really finish Kotor 2 at some point.

Anyway, all that rich story material was swept aside with the new movies which were stunning spectacles ... but really bad for whether or not they make any sense. Star Wars doesn't really make sense anyway but you'd like them to make a bit of an effort for it to.

That said, they make for an incredibly good spectacle and I really enjoyed watching The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.

And then there's Rogue One, which was a stunning movie. I suspect Rise of Skywalker will be a stunning conclusion to this epic series. Although .... George Lucas way back said there were going to be 14 episodes in the series. Hmm. At least I think he did.

What else appeared ?
Advent calendar is sorted :-D. I don't think the other packets will last until then somehow ...

PS Ever since I had my attention drawn to it, I can't not see the difference that makes the Star Destroyer in the picture above an old one ... On the tower between the two shield domes there is an additional bit of detail there. That makes it an Imperial class Mk1 Star Destroyer. The bit between the domes is different on the Mk2 Imperial Star Destroyer. And ... the latest trailer for Rise of Skywalker apparently is showing the older ships. Curious. Perhaps it's reuse of ancient models ? Probably a JJ Abrams special. But there might be something more to it.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Looking at those names again

Names of things have been popping into my head again ....

(picture credit -

It's partly out of curiosity for what the next Royal Navy ships will be called. I'm really curious about that !

The Royal Navy tends to go for catchy, shorter names like Dragon (like that one), Warspite, Hood, Cattistock, Glasgow, Albion, Ocean (now Atlântico), Lyme Bay, Richmond, Mersey, Grimsby. Names that fit a theme too, like Queen Elizabeth or Ark Royal for the really big ships. Tideforce is one of the new fleet tankers.

The River class ships currently coming in are named after ... you guessed it, rivers and the City class Type 26 start with Glasgow.

Other countries sometimes follow that theme, sometimes they go for names that come from people. Like the USN aircraft carriers being named after Presidents. The current class of Arleigh Burke destroyers are named after an Admiral who served during WW2 and the Korean War. (Here's his wiki page) The USN also have the Oliver Hazard Perry frigates and the Spruance class destroyers.

They are really grand fantastic sounding names. Even the Nathan James, from the series called The Last Ship. Another excellent name.

And that got me wondering about the names I used for the Internet Spaceships ... Before I do that bit though, I've just finished enjoying watching a Rythian XCom playthrough where he went by the commander's role and used the names of his Yogscast for the troops. Other video people use Patreon name lists and apply those names to the characters in their series.

Names definitely add a little something. A tighter connection with what's happening. When Fuzzy does a Rimworld stream, if my name gets adopted for one of the characters I'll watch that particular character a little more closely.

I'd been thinking about that for the internet spaceships, I even did use some first names for ships owned by my previous character. I used first names for people in my last XCom 2 run. I must open that game up again sometimes. Some games won't have names adopted ... I'll use modded in name lists for games like Stellaris but because there are whole fleets of ships, there isn't that same connection to the individual ships. At best, with games like Moo2 it was a name for the class of ship although I'm not sure if Moo2 supported the naming of individual ships.

Names are also unique. You could use them as a mark of respect for people in a kind of "I like you as a person and I'm going to remember you by applying your name to this thing I really value".

I have had fun with the Elite ship names too ... here's the latest one :
She is an Alliance Challenger ship called the "Old Aged Ben Pup", following a theme started with the sCRUFFY nEIGHBOURHOOD and Goldie Runner. I haven't actually taken that one out of the hangar yet, there's been a couple of community goals going which have been pretty profitable and I've been using the Strength of Atlas for those :
There we go, on landing approach to pick up more Synthetic Reagents to help fight a crop blight.

But while I've had fun with the ship names chosen, lending a friend's name to the ships adds something a little special feeling. And something like the "Admiral LTK" (switch real name for codename!) has an amazing ring to it. The "Commander Fuzzy", "Captain of Elysium" and the forthcoming "Commodore Tuesday" and "Admiral Maggie" from my current Elite character's list of ships have a great ring to them.
This was a good little ship and the Queen Skye would have been followed by the Queen Karen and Queen Jenny. I liked the Ice Road Trucker name themed ships too : Lisa Kelly, Alex Dewey, Art Burke and I'm not sure if I got to the Darrell Ward. I loved the show and hugely enjoyed seeing the stories of each year told through those wonderful characters.

(Addon cos I forgot it) One thing though ... because the ship names get posted here and this is a mostly anonymous blog, no real names ! Oh well :-D

Yep. Naming things after the people hugely adds something special. But please. Not this. Definitely not this :
Cya !

Saturday, October 12, 2019

To the Charts !

Hello everyone,

Just over a year ago, a new laptop arrived and one of the things that meant was .... listening to all of the music again ! I could copy over the library again but transferring over the stats would have been Interesting. Especially as I was switching over from Apple to Windows and the two systems have different ways of organising their files.
The picture that I'm gleefully borrowing there is from the always inspired TeeTurtle and here's the link to the t-shirt that you can get it on.

Music ! How long did it take ? Later. I use iTunes exclusively and the iTunes DJ feature (now long gone) to semi randomly line up what I'm listening to. The feature they replaced that with is utterly worthless and it does mean I have to stay on iTunes 10.7 and iOS 6 on my otherwise retired iPhone 5. It's actually why I retired that iPhone in favour of switching over to Android. What iTunes DJ does is say "I want at least 25 tracks in a playlist and when that goes below 25, add some more in." So I'll queue up albums, queue up stuff I haven't listened to much, queue up the best tracks again to space out the albums and then iTunes will fill in with more random stuff out of the library.

It's led to a nice way of getting through the library for me.

I'm listening via a Logitech Bluetooth adaptor that takes the audio from over the airwaves from the laptop and sends it to my hifi. There's no need to get expensive dedicated stuff from the likes of Sonos, you can easily and effectively use much cheaper adaptors to take advantage of the sound systems that you already have. The Logitech device has been very solid over the last 14 months, having taken over from an Apple device that expired the same week as I changed the laptops (or it could have been issues with Windows iTunes vs MacOS iTunes). I do have to power cycle it occasionally but that's maybe 5 times in a year and it's getting used A LOT. It's also excellent for sound quality and doesn't need a router reboot every week or so like the Apple device did.

(Declaration note - I bought it, devices not provided)

But ... you're here for the music right ? iTunes keeps a lot of stats for me which I use to help space out what I listen to and decide what's coming up next. I have just over 16,000 tracks in the library now and it's taken 14 months to get through all that lot and get it listened to. Sometimes multiple times too, as there are still 1500 tracks that I've only listened to once. I'll listen to individual tracks first and then listen to the albums a little while later.

Music ? In usual tradition, least listened to stuff first. In the tracks with 7 plays over the last 14 months, we start with :

Bear & Cat - Teslagrad theme. I didn't copy over that many of the gaming soundtracks to the new laptop but some were special. Distinctive. This is one where it comes on and you go "Wot dis ?"

From there you have the amazing voice of Tori Amos, who is in here a few times with tracks from The Beekeeper album. The track, The Beekeeper is one of those that tends to come out in those late evening sing along to youtube sessions but here's it's going to be Toast. Haven't had any buttered toast for too long.

We have film soundtracks in there too with Ron Goodwin music from Where Eagles Dare and Elmer Bernstein's The Great Escape (The Chase) plus Sheena Easton's For Your Eyes Only from James Bond. Curiously, the instance of Crockett's Theme from Miami Vice is not the one from the soundtrack ... Going back to Where Eagle's Dare, I'm reading Athabasca by the same author (Alastair MacLean) and it's sooooo good.

Back to voices and we have the wonderful :
Katie Melua with Blame It On The Moon from Call Off The Search;
Lily Allen with the brilliant Who'd Have Known from It's Not Me, It's You;
Kate Bush with Wuthering Heights from The Kick Inside;
Frank Sinatra kicking out I Get A Kick Out Of You;
And Siobhan Maher of River City People with Walking On Ice.

Moving back to songs like Road To Somewhere by Goldfrapp on the Seventh Tree album. This has been picked for the car a few times because it's a really chilled out album, which definitely helps on GB's roads at the moment ...

Talking of travelling, the one Cardigans song that has snuck into this Top 40 (and a bit) is Daddy's Car from the Life album. Great track.

There's a few not so perfect voices that still come out with amazing songs :
KT Tunstall with Saving My Face from the more rocky Drastic Fantastic album.
Duffy with Warwick Avenue. Another incredible track. She has a very unusual voice but when she gets a song that fits it, it's a piece of wonder.
George Harrison with My Sweet Lord.
Castle In The Clouds from Beverly Craven.

The last of the 7 plays are :
Eleanor Rigby from The Beatles. There may be more of these coming because this one is from the 1 album, which I haven't listened to all the way through yet. This one will always be a special song.
A collection from All About Eve but I'm saving them for the 8's.
For a little while, I went by the name Alisha's Addict due to adoring tracks like Barbarella from the Illumina album.
And then there's the pretty new Bat For Lashes aka Natasha Khan, with tracks like Prescilla and the very special Laura. I still need to pick up her latest album.

And the very last of the 7's is Agnes Obel with a track from Aventine, The Curse. I heard the track Close Watch from a sampler album and I'm now on 2 albums later. Well worth a listen if you haven't heard of this group before.

Into the 8's we have :
All About Eve ! With Apple Tree Man, which will always be a favourite for me. Here it is with a bonus Martha's Harbour too. Julianne Regan has one of the best voices I've heard.
Mindy Gledhill is in here with the lovely Cravy Love from the adorable Anchor album.
Roxanne from The Police.
An unusual one for me, Sex On Fire by Kings Of Leon.
A little bit of classical, with Holst's Mars from the Planets Suite.
Beware ... Christmas music with Elaine Paige's excellent version of the Coventry Carol and Chris Rea's Joys of Christmas.
And the last one of the 8's (there are more ... but only so much room in one post !) is one from one of the best albums there is, Go Your Own Way from Fleetwood Mac's Rumours.

And then there were the 9's :
I seem to collect music that has very dark lyrics inside, music that otherwise sounds wonderful but when you listen closely ... very dark. Caution warning on Dubstar's Not So Manic Now. This is incidentally why I'm very careful about linking tracks from The Cardigans !
Christmas is in here again with O Come, O Come Emmanuel sung by Joan Baez;
And then there's David Bowie in here with Golden Years. This was on one of the most charming sequences in A Knight's Tale, which I would thoroughly recommend watching if you've missed out so far.

Queen get in here with no other track than We Will Rock You and the last of the 9s is from the Arctic Monkeys with 505 from their brilliant Favourite Worse Nightmare track.

A great 14 months listening to music !

Monday, October 07, 2019

More Travels of Private Citizen Sleepy

This is a travel pics and not an Elite post !!!

Crikey. That's a new one. I had a tonne of flexi credit to burn, ahead of more long days this week and thought I could take advantage of it to do a little scouting ... So off over the border and bridge into Wales we go, towards :
Raglan Castle !

This is a castle that saw its peak in the 1640s, up until it found itself on the wrong side of Oliver Cromwell's army who destroyed the fortifications after capturing it. This one is a two part castle, with the main area off to the right of that pic and a stronghold keep with a moat over to the left.
Must have been a spectacular sight in its day. That area holds the main business area of the castle, with trade areas set up inside in the courtyard and kitchens off to the right.
There's that moat for the Keep. Also see off to the left where the walls were undermined, causing most of one side to collapse. Also see the drawbridge, I should be posting another one later, it's not a usual drawbridge.
And another one too. That's the internal moat from the gatehouse.
Anyway ! First room I enter past the drawbridge has .... BOOKS ! Truly a place of great civilisation.
May also contain T-Rexes. This was a cellar underneath the castle which had been closed off. I didn't climb all the stairs and go up all the steps, my legs went NOPE at a few of them and brain didn't argue.
That's a view of the main courtyard, with the kitchens off to the right.
Kitchen ! With stove set into the wall and also cunning drain holes.
Lovely views through the various passageways.
Some of the treasures inside included a Medieval Snack Warmer Device. The owner of the castle was an inventor and there are a small collection of curiosities inside the castle.
Including invisible stairs ! Never seen any of those before.
Nice view out the back. Those are the tops of some decently sized trees, so you can probably guess how much the valley behind the castle dips.
That's the remains of the Great Hall, including chair with devices for when the minstrel starts looking longingly at the bagpipes.
That's the outer courtyard, also very defensible with steep terraces leading away from it. As in, really steep with 6 feet high walls separating the levels.
Inner Courtyard, leading up to the Keep. The base for the fountain survives in the centre of the grassy area.
One of the residents popped in to say hello.
There's the drawbridge up into the Keep. This used to be in two parts. The wide part has been restored there but off to the right was a smaller drawbridge suitable for one person. Or one person to toss the dwarf on to the main drawbridge.
I found the treasure ! But look closer .... it's trapped ...
And that was that ! An enjoyable morning scooting around Raglan Castle. I'd recommend it. I went off season, so it was pretty quiet and peaceful.

Oh and there may have been a run into Cardiff later on where I found something shiny :
Wow. I kinda want one of these but at 113cm long, I have no idea where I'd put it.

May also have come away with many bonbons, kola kubes and sherbets.