Thursday, December 31, 2009

That time of year again...

21:24: ...well someone's started the fireworks early.

After a day of looking after my nephew (not really a challenging task as it consists mostly of putting Zoo Tycoon on for him and leaving him to it for an hour or 12)...

23:09: Must stop getting distracted.
So yeah, after an uneventful day of tidying up, playing Walking Legs - scoring 9 flag captures to 0 (until my nephew randomly changed team on my behalf, giving the team I'd just left a chance to lose for a while) and scoring over 350 kills to the most skilled bot's 40ish - and generally keeping the little guy happy it seems to be a peaceful and quiet end to the year.
So 2009, what's happened in it.

I've bought plenty of camera stuff over the course of the year, I've settled well into what was at the start of the year, a new job, I've had the very unnerving experience of being completely offline for ten or so days, and my fitness has gone up and down, up and down, with my army application crawling along at a snail's pace.

There have been plenty of other things too, but if you want more detail you'll have to find it in my blogs further down the page.

Yeah, 2009, not a bad year, not a great year, but I've had much worse :-).
Let's hope 2010 is the year that changes everything. For the better!

So to all of you out there, in whatever time zone you currently happen to find yourself in, all the best for the coming of (or just past) midnight, and all the best for this/next year :-).
I'll be back after the clock strikes 12 :-).

Friday, December 25, 2009

Xmas Day!!!

01:18: Wow, that's the last of the pressies wrapped.

So where to start from...
Hmm, "this morning" (christmas Eve).

As the roads began to ice over, I got to sleep fairly late, in the expectation that I wouldn't be woken until the late morning, when we went to Morrisons after some of the snow had thawed.
Of course, this is me we're talking about, so I was completely unsurprised and surprisingly unbothered, to be woken up at 05:30 to check on the roads, to see whether the snow would pose a problem.

As it happened, apparently they would, as despite the fact that the odd car or van was zooming up and down the top road, after some discussion between my dad, my dad and my dad, w/he decided that it would be unsafe to go to Morrisons.

After the odd couple of arguments, mostly by me - a great big stickler for rigidly following christmas traditions (but no other traditions, odd, seems maybe christmas is the big rock of sanity in my life), I went downstairs to calm down, only to see that the light snow had in fact become extremely heavy over the course of the hour, and the light snow had now turned into several inches of settled lovely fluffy crunchy snow.

Eventually we headed off to the local shop, but midway changed our mind, with me being told that I was going to Morrisons in the next town.
Having not planned to be "going out", I didn't have my camera with me, which (at christmas, and especially on christmas eve which is a big family occasion), and I was horrified.

But as time passed, I calmed down in the cafe at the local Morrisons and within ten seconds of my ickle nephew turning up, I was in a cheery mood. Sure it wasn't "OUR" morrisons but we had fun shopping as a family.

I spent the rest of the day after returning, trying to get some sleep while my nephew played on my computer, alternating between "Walking Legs (Unreal Tournament 3)", and Zoo Tycoon. I spent a good 5 hours or so in that lovely warm fuzzy state where you're not asleep, but you're not awake either.

My ex-neighbour had come along with her kids, who once little, are now getting on towards 13 and 15. The dude kept my ickle nephew company, spending most of the day watching the lil guy playing Walking Legs, and trying to persuade everyone to let him install UT3 on his laptop.

I finally managed to grab a little sleep, only to be shouted awake with the news that Father christmas was about to turn up on his sleigh.
this he did, and the little guy managed to get a Flake Chocolate bar, while one of my mates wandered around handing out mince pies and buns, which was kind of awesome of him.

I even managed to get the little dude to help me sprinkle the reindeer food outside the front of the house.

Eventually though, time to go off to work, and the day started slowly.
I took about three deliveries all night, and was in a foul mood, until a lovely nice kind woman paid for a £23 order with a £10 and a £20, telling me to keep the change, which was kind of awesome of her.

The night improved as time went on, we sold out of stock pretty quickly, and closed about 9pm.
I was surprised to be told we could have a beer after we'd closed, and sure enough as we closed, one thing led to another, and before I knew it, an impromptu christmas party appeared in our restaurant. A few of us disappeared off to the local off licence/liqor store, and returned to hand around beers, and JD and cokes, drinking all of the above with great merriment.
We left work in a very cheerful mood.

I wandered home through the next estate, listening to lovely christmas music, drinking my lovely christmas beer, and looking at all the sparkly and shiny christmas lights outside the various houses.
On my way home I took a second detour through the local park, which was perfectly white and glistening with still-undisturbed snow. I tried my hand at making a snowball, and managed to come up with a nice shiny almost perfectly spherical snowball by the time I got back.

I stuck it on a fencepost outside the house.
Maybe it's still there.

I came in, helped myself to one of my mum's awesome quiches, swept up the reindeer food, and came up here. Since then I've been sat wrapping christmas presents, drinking christmas beer and looking forward to - what is now - the main part of what is now today.

I had a nice time the other day with my mum, wandering around Meadowhall looking for nice christmas presents, and while I'm not going to go into detail about it, I thought I'd mention it, entirely for my own benefit, so I can be reminded of it when I read this again.

One thing that I did wish - sort of - I'd bought as a present, was something from a model shop.
You'll remember I gave my brother a photo of the "Jedi Plane" (G-JEDI), well the shop was selling a perfectly detailed model of that very plane, right down to the awesome registration number.

Of course, my brother's desk is probably like mine. Filled with touchscreens, technology, and other alliterative awesomeness.

Still. I guess I'm gonna sit back and chill out for a bit. Got to be up at 8 to get the house ready for everyone :-).

But before I go, I'll take the opportunity to wish anyone reading this - particularly my awesome friends Lexi, McGee, Ryon if he's still around, David Whatsisface, and any others that are sitting about, an aesome and completely christmassy christmas.

Hope you all get lots of presents!

I'll update this as time goes on!

Bye for now :-).

23:00: Wow, what a day.

I woke up about 8am, and wandered downstairs ready to get the living room ready for christmas. Even as I set the place up, I noticed the distinctive shapes of the packaging of a few things i'd asked for for Xmas. Woo, I hadn't opened a single present and I already know that I'd been given two of the presents on my list, which was cool.

After half an hour of arsing about fetching presents from everywhere, and struggling to determine where everyone was going to sit, my sister and ickle nephew arrived.

Shortly after, my brother and his other half turned up, with our grandad, and after a short while, we were sat down and ready to start opening presents.

Time passed, and I did indeed open both my Eikon fingerprint reader, and my 52mm UV Filter.
I also asked for Eddie Izzard's "Stripped" tour on DVD, but was awesomely surprised to find myself opening a boxed set of all 7 of his tours on DVD (not including Live at the Ambassador's, which Eddie said would never ever be put on DVD).

One of the first presents I opened was a huge new lovely warm egyptian cotton duvet, bought by my sister, which is great because it's about time I upgraded my bed. Eventually, I opened my Terry's Chocolate Oranges (self-addressed-present) to people#'s considerable amusement which was awesome.

So from my personal presents receiving point of view, Christmas '09 was fantastic. I got a load of stuff including all but one of the items on my Xmas list (3 out of 4 items :P)

My grandad bought me a really cool jacket, that rather oddly, has a zip up the centre of both the front and the back. I can only assume that the jacket is available in different colours, and you are able to zip different coloured halves of each jacket together. My bro and his fiancee were responsible for the Eddie Izzard DVD, as well as some really cool beering stuff, including my very own personalised drinking tankard, personalised drinks coasters and personalised bottle opener.
My mum and dad got me a wide variety of stuff, including the aforementioned print reader, and photographic filter.
I also got some more stuff from Visibledust, in this case, an Arctic Butterfly electric sensor cleaner (which I've just learned from their site, seems to be horrifyingly expensive!!). I also got a load of books, from them including a couple which look quite funny, and my nephew/sister bought me some alcohol, and of course, a huge toblerone.
So yeah, from a purely selfish point of view a good day, but I was more involved than that.
The Bag I bought for my sister seems to have gone down quite well, and my mum seemed very fond of both her new earrings and her smelly candle stuff. I wanted to buy my brother's other-half a Black Eyed Peas album, but despite being shipped last week sometime, it still hasn't turned up. As a make-do IOU, I bought and wrapped up a can of "Black-eyed beans, in water, 350g" from Morrison's yesterday. Fortunately, the joke went down pretty well.
The most fantastic present given to anyone that day would seem to be Khet, a present from me to my brother. Turns out he'd seen it online, and having decided it was incredibly cool, spent a while trying to get it before christmas, to no avail (all places everywhere in the world sold out completely). I had the game sitting on top of my wardrobe waiting for the big day for maybe the last 5 or 6 months, at a guess, and I don't think I've ever seen him so happy to receive a present. So woo, seems it cheered both of us up. We played a couple of games after we cleared away the empty boxes and wrapping paper and stuff. My nephew also took to his new playmobil, and seems to like it loads which is pretty cool, but the lego which my brother bought him has taken center stage, which is also pretty cool. The lil guy's getting good at putting the models together now.

Christmas Dinner was great, my nephew didn't want his soup so I got 2 lots of soup and extra bread, which was great. The melon that preceded it was nice, and I had a nice meal afterwards of turkey and cranberry and whatnot.
Still haven't had any christmas pudding yet though!

Since then I've alternated between playing with my nephew, tidying up after him, playing with my new stuff, tidying up after myself, and generally collapsing slowly, as the accumulated sleep-debt of the last few days begins to catch up with me.

But despite the hazards and pitfalls and downright unpleasantness of early yesterday morning, today has been absolutely fantastic, and has gone extremely well.

Just before my nephew went, We let him in on a surprise I'd been keeping for him. Handing him a letter, I explained to him that the letter included a treasure map, and that if he found the treasure, he'd get to keep it.
After a short time, he found the treasure (itself made from a gold-painted box with gems, filled with a load of chocolate coins, a load of plastic coins, and a load of imitation pearls and jewellry and whatnot), as well as a note directing him to look elsewhere in the room. Once he found it, he opened it to find his Chipod.

Again, he seemed pleased with his latest acquisition.

Well, now I think I'm going to have a beer in my nice new beer mug thing, and I'm going to chill out and watch the latest Eddie Izzard DVD.

Have fun folks, hope you all had an awesome christmas :-).

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Fog Blog! (Xmas eve!!!)

Wow, the fog!!!

16:43: Having just been woken up with the warning "Father Christmas coming in 15 minutes!!!1!!1!11one" I've leapt out of bed to write this.
And so I am with my cute ickle nephew bounding around my bed for some reason, I'm going to perform the dual tasks of getting ready for work AND getting ready to take my ickle nephew out :-).

17:09: Well you've heard the phrase "christmas comes early", in this case it was true, with father christmas on his van outside before we got to the front door.
A brief spell in the foggy snowy coldness outside, listening to the happy christmas tunes from santa's sleigh, and my ickle nephew was given a miniature Flake chocolate bar :-).

Well, I'd best be getting ready to go to work, I'll write more after I get back.

Ciao!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Kerrist, it's cold!!!

"You're stating the obvious, hahahaha".

Shut up.
This is England, a country where earlier THIS YEAR, we had 4 inches of snow in february, and less than EIGHT weeks later, sweltered in 35C (95F) heat.

But Kerrist, it's been cold this weekend.

Last night was nothing special. I wandered off to work listening to happy christmas tunes, crunching through the already-melting snow.
and out I went, into the night, delivering here there and everywhere, slippety-sliding down hills, freezing my butt off, and getting (secretly) first angry, then frustrated, then bemused, then amused, as customer after customer looked out of their door at my frost-covered bike, at the little snow that remained, coming down, at me shivering my ass off, and somewhere in their mind the little light that lit up the button labelled "give this poor kid a tip" never really came on.

Four hours into a five hour shift - in the snow - on the ice - on a bike! - was when I got my first tip. Having mentioned to the woman that "you're the first person to say [keep the change] all night", she snorted and spat "some people just don't think".

"That's not for me to say" I said, professionally and politely.
"Not while I'm still being paid anyway". Which made her laugh.

I'm only human, and I'm allowed to show it. A big plus over my last job. Look - here's a video with some of my ex work colleagues in it.

I got home last night, to find my computer on standby (After I turned it off), and my room a general mess (after I cleaned it). Turned out my ickle lovable nephew had been in wanting to play Zoo Tycoon, and having been unable to find my mouse, had gone to search my room for it.
Must have been a shock when the cupboard door came off in his hand (it's been broken for a while).

Of course, I couldn't find my mouse either, and I was convinced the little guy had nicked it.
So gently, I woke him from his sleepyness and figured he'd be more co-operative if I could have him offering to help, rather than admitting his guilt.

"I think my computer mouse has run off, can you help me find it?"

So the little guy got dressed and looked around with me and we couldn't find it. Eventually I found it in my wardrobe, right where I left it.
Feeling guilty, I wrapped the little guy up in blankets, and hesat there, cheerily eating Milky Way Magic Stars while I showed him various exciting (to him) christmas videos, and then off to bed.

I got woken this morning, several times, by the little dude wanting to play the lego game.

Course I left the little guy to it. Eventually my dad seemed to take great pleasure in telling my that I had to get up and go out with her. Various arguments ensued, including the point at which my nephew was told he'd have to abandon the zoo game and go downstairs.

Nephew + Computer = happiness
Nephew + Computer - Computer = Instant tantrum.

Anyway, we had the usual family flobwallops (new word) and eventually we went out, but not before my ickle nephew turned up at the door wearing an awesome little "mummy's little helper" apron. Off to do some baking, they were.

And off we went, my sister and I, to town.
We managed to park up, bimble around the toy section, and then eventually escape from the... well, grannified, as my sister would put it, nexus of shopping that is John Lewis, in Sheffield city center.
Yep, we were surrounded left and right by junior call center managers with upwardly mobile ambitions, and even as we moved from floor to floor, you could see the glint in their eye that suggested that buying such and such a gift would move them from an expendable level of middle management, to a slightly more intimate, slightly less expendable, slightly less appropriate level of aspiring very-junior-senior-management....

No, the place wasn't quite like that, but still.

We wandered around the shops, where I satisfied another christmas tradition, by buying two Terry's Chocolate Orange - one normal one and one "snowball" (white chocolate) one.
While waiting to pay I dropped the "snowball" and in the process of trying to catch it, accidentally flung it at the woman in front of me.

Well, as she said, I was the first person to throw a snowball at her this christmas :-P.

One thing I also bought was quite cute - I bought a packet of "reindeer food". "Colourful crystals and oats". I've already got it figured out, the oats are to feed the reindeer, the crystals make them fly. I want to sprinkle it outside the front of the house with my ickle nephew on Christmas Eve.

I managed to get a few presents while I was in town, though I'm still wating for the playmobil spare parts I ordered to turn up. My sister still has no clue about what she wants for christmas, which is mildly worrying because it's the big day in four days' time.

I managed to get to work only 15 minutes late after leaving it a little late to set off home, and sodding hell did the weather turn foul. The night was fairly quiet to begin with, but over the next couple of hours, a little drizzle came down, which turned into flurries of nice lovely sleet, making me wet, and cold.
The water washed away the rest of the snow, ending a nice little part of Christmas.

I didn't do too badly for tips though, and came home in a cheery mood, relaxing with some beer.
I woke up early this afternoon, to look out of the window to see...

Snow! Lots of snow! Inches of it! It wasn't long before the first cars appeared, struggling to get into their driveways and whatnot. I was sent out to distribute the christmas cards to the local houses, and took the opportunity to wander round in the snow.
I don't think I've ever seen the place so quiet. I spent about 2 hours just wandering round the local (and not so local) streets, discovering alleyways and shortcuts to places I didn't even know existed. Eventually I decided to head back home, walking in snow for 2 hours being quite tiring and whatnot, but not before I tried to make a huge snowball in the local park (only to find that the snow is that powdery stuff that doesn't stick together very easily - not that this stopped the creators of any of the dozens of snowmen I saw while on my travels...

It started to snow, just as I got home.

So yep, I'm off to have a nap, and then I suspect I might go round for a wander in the snow again tomorrow :-).

Have fun :-).

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Chestnuts, Open Fires, and All

Meh. I hate colds.
It's been a bit of a poor fortnight, health wise.

One day I was changing my watch strap and managed to nearly slice the bloody end of my thumb off. A couple of days later I cut my finger on the same hand. THEN I got a mouth ulcer, THEN I got a cold. 51 weeks since my last one though so my health track record isn't THAT bad.

Why should you care? You shouldn't really, but I do. On the bright side, a cold is the worst thing to happen to me all year so I can't really complain :-).

Though it has been pretty crappy, what with the whole headachy sneezy congesty whatnotiness snotiness, which sounds like the name of a Roman general.

I went to a nice Christmas Do, last night. I apparently made myself popular enough with my colleagues at my last job, to be invited to their Christmas do, over a year since I left the company. Yay, go me.
The night was pretty nice though, the food was fantastic, the only hiccup was when I ran out of loose change and had to use plastic to order a beer, and since the minimum spend on card was £5, I had to get two beers instead. Hardly something to complain about.

I did spend £10 out of my tips jar though, so I woke up dutifully, earlier today - (really? I thought I could write blogs in my sleep - I should, they'd be interesting - thanks to eating a little bit of cheese each night before bed, some of my dreams are VERY interesting) - and proceeded to set off to the shops to withdraw £10 to put back in the jar. Cos I'm good at accounting like that, apparently.

I wandered out looking at what seemed to be a normal wintry/wintery (?) sunrise. And then grinned as I looked down the road, to see that the wintery sunrise actually occupied about an eighth of the sky - the part directly outside my window - and everywhere else was covered with very dark, very purposeful lead-grey clouds.

I wandered off to the shops and before I'd even got there, it started drizzling. And yet, noticing that this drizzle seemed sharper than usual, I glanced at a streetlight, to see illuminated around it, a flurry of the winter's first snow.

The snow got pretty heavy on the way back, though it seems to have died off temporarily. Still, put a smile on my face.

So what Christmassy stuff have I been up to?

Well I started my little alcoholic advent calendar (calendar with alcohol, not a calendar for alcoholics - I checked online, I exhibit one of the nine criteria required for being an alcoholic, so it's official, I don't have a drink issue :P) yesterday evening. I put the Whisky Cream and Kakao in the drinks cabinet, because I'm not going to touch them this year, on account of them being crap, which made it an eight-day countdown.

Today's drink was Ferro China, bottle number 3 apparently, which was vaguely pleasant and drinkable. Even as I finished the last drops I reflected that it wasn't as good as last year's blog made it out to be, but it was quite pleasant, and I probably wouldn't be getting any more, so I was mindful to enjoy what little I had.

I also took what I think is probably my best christmas photo ever. Again it's not so much about technical quality (though the exposure seems pretty sharp) as the content of the image, and I love the colours and the whole warm cozy christmas feeling of this one. The Living Room is purple because of the red lights from the wall lights and tree, mixing with the blue lights in the window. It seems others are getting into the christmas spirit, with my lovely friend Lexi secretly slinking off to drink Eggnog straight from the carton.

My bedroom turned out pretty well with christmas lights, and the rest of the decorations have finally gone up. The whole process was pretty painless, and I even decorated most of the big tree myself, which was a novelty.
One other thing I got up to was making a start on wrapping my Xmas presents. I've not wrapped the big playmobil presents yet because I'm waiting for a few spare parts to arrive from playmobil (£4.50ish for 9 parts, including postage - can't complain!). Once that's done, I'll get it wrapped and away.

Well, I'm off to exist for the rest of the day (which despite the snow earlier, is shaping up to be an extremely clear and bright - if extremely cold - day), and with some luck I won't miss The Bill tonight, as I have for the past three weeks. Hopefully my resurrected Ipaq (yes, this one "died" too, due to an EXTREMELY low battery - had to do a hard reset and lost all my contacts) will be able to remind me in time.

Finally, I'm going to "put" a christmas shout out to my mate McGee, if he still reads this. I haven't heard a lot from him recently, though despite his return to the UK, he's feeling a little down, so here's thinking of you bud, hope you got stuff sorted.

Have fun all :-).

Oh, as a tiny miniature christmas gift, here is a link to the Vicar of Dibley Christmas Special.

A lovely christmassy episode :-). Quite warm and fuzzy :-).

20:32 Update: Well, after a freezing day, with intermittent snowfall, we now have about a centimetre of snow on the roads, roofs, paths, trees, cars, and other assorted horizontal sky-facing surfaces of all manners. Thanks to the freezing cold, the paths AND the roads are also covered in ice, which means that the snow as it lands is now settling on anything it touches.

If this keeps up, we should be in for a white day tomorrow. Hopefully I won't get sent out on the scoots!

00:02 Update: Woop Woop! I've just been paid! Now I can sort out the rest of the Xmas pressies :-). And I can go to Princes Risborough, if I wanted to, which I don't, so I don't know why I mentioned it.
The snow's been coming down in varying degrees of severity and at one point was actually coming down pretty heavily.

Today's randomly selected Christmas countdown drink is the good old "Water from Penis Mountain". Well, it says "Amaro Monte Penice" but we all know what they meant :).

Miaow! Which is like ciao, but fluffier.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Merry 200th!!

15:43 So folks, this is the big 200, the 200th post on this blog. Crikey, I didn't realise I spent that much time writing the thing. Still...

I'm not going to waffle on about where the last 3 (or so) years have seen me, if you're that interested there's plenty of stuff that goes into all that in more depth than I could here, given my memory, or lack thereof, patience, and time. Needless to say, the blog's proven pretty valuable to me, if only because it allows me to sit and look back, through rose tinted spectacles, at various things that have happened, in the true "Haha I lost my job wasn't that funny. Hey, look at this I had to be victimised by a dentist for hours hehe that was fun" sort of way.

I'm not going to drink loads of celebration beer, because I did that the other day, and had quite an enjoyable time.

So what am I going to do instead? Well, I'm just about to get all the christmas gubbins down from the loft. So I'm gonna go get a drink, wait for my dad to get out of the way, and then get on with it.

16:52: Still haven't got on with it. Have spent the past hour and a half preparing my computer for a major backup. Gonna do a deep system virus scan too which should take until about 1am. Just backing up some stuff to CD and then off I go to do this christmassy stuff :-).

18:09: Well, that's the christmas decorations down. I think I've figured out which ones are mine, though even as I speak I'm struggling to find any signs of wear and tear (or stickyback velcro, which usually covers any possessions of mine that I might feel compelled to stick to nearby vertical surfaces) that my lights have (a couple of broken bulbs, nothing serious).

Fortunately for me, I'm amazed to see that my christmas candle arch works straight out of the box, with none of the burned-out bulbs that seem to plague christmas illuminations everywhere.

Still, I'll crack on and see if I've got what I think I've got, lights-wise.

18:21: that's the lights untangled, now to find some tape to stick em up. Oh, and a three-way socket.

19:46: After messing about for a long while, I managed to dig out a four-way socket that I thought I needed behind my desk. 40 interminable minutes later, I'd got the lights stuck up and arranged nicely, and they've just this second been switched on, for the first time. It feels more christmassy already. Now to tidy up after myself.

01:17: Well, I'm sitting here in my nice tidy room, looking forward to going to bed later.
The little christmas lights are twinkling away in their electrical type way, and shortly I'm going to be putting some supper in the microwave.

So what else has happened recently? Well, my sister and I decided to go shopping for christmas presents a couple of days ago, so off we went. We had a pretty good time, and took the time to participate in welcoming the Light Dragoons back from Afghanistan, as they marched through the town center, to cheers and applause.

I didn't really spend a great deal of money, I got a couple of christmas pressies (and a cool new razor), but that was about it.

I returned to find a card shoved through the door by the postman, saying that he'd called round while we were out, and that I'd have to collect my parcel.
The parcel, is an ebay auction that I won, for loads and loads of playmobil stuff for my ickle nephew.

We collected it the following morning, and went round Wentworth Garden Centre's playmobil section to see if there was any cool stuff there.
There was.
There always is.
But both of us are approaching being broke, about now, so it's debatable whether there's any more to buy, playmobil wise.

But hey, a look at the playmobil that arrived. I think it's fantastic. The little guy wanted an airport, he's getting an airport :-D.

On a related note, my dad has asked me to show him where to buy my christmas presents from, and says he'll buy them. Kinda spoils the surprise I guess, on the other hand, it's nice to know that they're on their way.

As for my christmas list, I'd show you. It's lovely handwritten calligraphy on parchment and it took me hours, but my mum has cleverly lost it. Meh.

Still, just for you, here is my christmas list:


Well, I'm off to make a cup of tea, and to get some spaghetti bologneise (and toast, yum).
Here is a slideshow of my nephew's awesome playmobil (the plane and helicopter are last year's xmas pressie - the rest is new :-D - remember as always, this blog is nephew-proof - restricted area, no nephews allowed! :-)



Oh and finally, here is another pressie I bought.
His name is "DeskTriceratops". I was thinking of starting a cult of personality based around him.
If a science fiction author can invent a religion from scratch, surely I can get people worshipping a plush dinosaur?

Over to you :-D.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Off out!

09:25: Right, despite a thoroughly filthy horrible wet and nasty night (during which I got completely soaked at work), and an even worse filthy horrible early morning with incredibly heavy rain that woke me up (though when I got back to sleep I did manage to have a really cool dream where I got to fly in the back fo a Hughes 500D), I hve woken up feeling slightly rested and quite cold, and apparently we're now off out, to good old Kelham Island :-).

Updates to follow :-).

01:19: Well, after a rainy start, the day brightened up, and turned into one of those lovely wintry days, bright blue sky, very bright sun, cold wind etc etc.
We met my nephew (sister, brothers fiancee etc) there, to my nephew's delight, and started looking round the various stalls and exhibits.
We wandered round looking at things, my nephew drew some lovely pictures and made a christmas cracker, and I took the opportunity to have "Soupandaroll" (all one word), which unfortunately came out of the soup container at about 356 degrees C and was still hot enough to burn my mouth several hours later.

There was a momentary blip when as with last year, we ended up splitting into two seperate groups, each unable to find the other, but by the time we got reunited, my nephew was ready to go on some fairground rides, which he did.

All in all, a nice family morning out, and was quite enjoyable :-). Now I've got to get some sleep and I'm going to go to this here christmas concert thing later on, which should be nice.

I've imported some of the photos, they'll all need procesing so I'll do that at some point . I'm going to have a nap and suchlike, I think :-).

Byeee

EDIT 03:25 8th December: Here's one photo - More may follow :-). Incidentally, I have uploaded the entire demonstration of the awesome Don Engine. You can see it here.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Gainsborough!

Part One: Prepiologue
(A cross between an epilogue and a prologue - it's a bridge between "today" and "tomorrow" (today ends when I go to bed and starts when I get up, regardless of what the clock might say).

Yay, it's that time of year again where we're looking forward to going to Gainsborough Old Hall, to look around the christmas market, to enjoy the mince pies, and to sample various curiosities such as chilli chocolate, and (probably) chips and sausage, with scandinavian cola.

But before I get to that, a word or two about "today".

I woke up, as it says, to what looked like a pretty crappy day. Unrested, cold, and in a grouchy/nervous mood. Said mood improved once I got into town to meet the rest of the lads, but nervousness didn't go away.

I didn't get red-one this time, instead being designated yellow four, which was fair enough. We did the heaves again, with the usual mix of performance ranging from swarthy 8 stone 16 year olds doing 8,9, maybe 10 heaves, and the ones who hadn't trained, failing to do a single heave. I scored three, which I wasn't happy with, but at least I passed that module and I know what to work on.

The Jerry Can Carry went pretty well. It didn't seem quite as hard as last time or the time before, and I ended up passing that with no problems. the younger lads, despite their light weight and relatively high fitness, as a side effect of that light weight, were somewhat lacking in physical strength, and as a group, they seemed to find this particular module harder than everyone else.

The run, as normal, wasn't particularly easy (especially because they shoved an extra 50 meters on the start), and wasn't particularly fun. My time wasn't awe-inspiring, at 11:25 (25 seconds slower than my best) but still secured me a pass. Said swarthy youngsters scored 8:30 and upwards, and the worst time was somewhere around 14 minutes.

The command tasks went okay, we all worked pretty well as part as a team. I didn't feel I "shone" as much as I did the first time I did them, but I did get my say in proceedings and since I figured out the fundamental secret to passing that particular challenge, I was pretty happy.

So all in all, a good day. Not the most awesome performance, but not poor by any means, and as far as I've been told, I should be looking at an acceptable pass. Which now, leaving time for further improvement, means I should be well on the way to passing at ADSC - the one that counts. There was plenty of humour, spirits were high even among the "deferred pass"ers (come back and do it again), and I made a few good mates, some of which, thanks to the magic of the internets, I'm able to keep in touch with, whether we ever meet again or not.

Looking out of the window, the day seems to have ended the way it started. Cold and drizzly.
Except now I've got a third pass under my belt, I'm much more cheerful, and much less stressed.

I'm looking forward to getting some sleep, so I think I'm off to do that now. I'll update the blog later today :-).

Have fun!

Part Two: Out and about


"Today" started pretty much the same as yesterday did, with fog and rain making its presence felt. We managed to get off in pretty good time.

Going through the local towns was interesting. I used to work in one in particular, and it was an eye opener to see the change - and lack of change - in the town. New buildings were being put up, loads of construction work going on, and yet, buildings I figured were not long for this world still stood quite happily, as they had done since before I ended up working in and around the place.

We carried on through the countryside, and eventually, despite the increasingly heavy rain, arrived at Gainsborough to find the place in fine shape, with good weather all around.

Not much to report as far as the hall itself is concerned. Everything was much the same as it always is, a nice christmassy day out. We bought a few craft-type items to grace the house come christmas time, and had our traditional mince pie and fruit punch in front of the fire. After a relatively quick look round the place, we were off out into the town, searching for Pork Crunch and Christmas Presents.

We managed to go to the retail development that I mentioned last time we went (nov '08) where we picked up a fantastic object:
A ball, exactly 4 inches across, fairly heavy for its size, (575 grams) filled with some kind of oil or something, suspended in which are maybe a teaspoon's worth of very incredibly fine (like flour) reflective metal particles.

The thing's a toy, shake it around and the powder swirls around in the fluid, giving the impression of swirling clouds within the ball. The thing looks like it's rolling even when you're holding it still in your hands. A cool present - so cool in fact that I'm trying to see where I can buy a second one for myself. [EDIT I spoke to my sister, asking if my ickle nephew would find a magical cloudy ball interesting. She agreed he would, but added that his interest would fade terminally after about ten minutes, after which time the ball would join the ranks of forsaken but heartfelt gifts under his bed. Meh. Well, on the plus side, at least I get to keep it. Yay.]

We popped into a local coffee shop for something to eat, where I had, I'm pleased to say, foreign Coca Cola (russian this time) as is traditional in Gainsborough. The food was pretty damn good though, the burger was tasty and the chips were pretty great :-).

After that, off to Tickhill Garden Centre, to look over the Christmas Decorations there, and then home. All in all, a nice christmassy day out :-).






Friday, November 27, 2009

Sodding about (or, "Nervousness")

Bloody hell it's 8:37. I want to be in bed at 9!

Right, it's that time of year again. I'm not going to make a big song and dance about it because I'm due for an early night shortly for reasons that will soon become apparent.

Wait for it.

Right.

NOW.
I'm off to Strensall again tomorrow - yay, go me, for a third time. Yep, I'm off on another day of running until I feel quite unwell, wandering about carrying sodding heavy jerry cans about, and worrying about whether I passed the course or not.

Excuse me for sounding flippant. The fact is, that this assessment is an important part of determining my physical and mental aptitude/suitability to join the army, and cos of a couple of issues, mostly my fault but one not-my-fault, I'm off to do it for a third time. Knowing what I'm in for doesn't make me feel any better. Surprisingly, neither does knowing that I've already passed twice. I don't know, the eternal pessimist, is me.
So wish me luck for that. With some luck, I won't need it.

In other news, I decided not to put computer neons on my christmas list, for the simple reason that I shelled out (£8, big deal) and bought some myself. Despite being attached to my computer with horrible crappy sticky pads that won't stick when you want to stick them on, and won't unstick when you want to take them off, I've managed to get three neon (cold cathode flourescent lights actually) tubes installed in my case, and it now looks really sparkly.

Look See?

One other important thing I've done (with some help) is finally get my wireless mouse working. It wouldn't hold a charge which really annoyed me cos I paid £70 for it, and like an idiot, instead of returning it, I shoved it in a cupboard expecting the problem to go away/expecting the cupboard to somehow fix it for me.
Not sure what we (me and my dad) did, but it's now charging properly and is now finally doing the job that I bought it to do.

Oh well, I hope everything goes well tomorrow, I really hope so.
If it does then I'm set for a great weekend. I'm off to gainsborough on sunday (read last christmas's blog if you're curious, I'll stick a hotlink [hyperlink? What the hell is a hotlink?] in when I have the time tomorrow) with my mum to do some christmas shopping, and that evening I'm off to a christmas concert. If I pass tomorrow's course, I'm going to buy lots of beer and celebrate in a very drunken fashion on monday evening. You may or may not get a blog entry of total crap out of me. Depends how drunkenly generous I'm feeling.

Eek. I don't want to go bed! The sooner I go bed, the sooner I go sleep and the sooner I go sleep, the sooner I wake up to have lots of sergeants and PTIs telling me to run faster and whatnot.

Oh well.
I'll be fine - I hope.

ciao!

Update: 06:53 the following day:

Well, that was probably the most unpleasant, most broken night's sleep I've ever had. I must have spent about 4 hours trying to fall asleep, and when I finally got close, something would wake me up again.

To top it off, I've woken up to a freezing cold room on a godforsaken dump of a cold and drizzly saturday morning, out of what was a relatively warm bed (cold and bloody uncomfortable, tonight of all nights, it seems actually), so I could be slightly more cheerful, but I don't think I can stretch to that at the moment.

Meh. Let's hope there's better news to come.

Have fun, I sure as hell won't! :P

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Lovely climate...

CHAPTER ONE (I guess) - XMAS PRESENTS

It was a dark and stormy mediocrity...

Well actually, I'm not sure whether it's a dark and stormy anything, and the only reason it's a mediocrity is because there's so much damn fog around that it's impossible to see further than the corner of the street. As for the storms, well, it's that horrible fine drizzle that doesn't so much fall as meander gently downwards, when the air currents conspire to let it through.

Fact is, it's fairly par for the course, given that we're two thirds of the way through November, and doesn't time fly, because last time I was up here going off on one, it was Halloween. I've not been around much, because nothing has really changed. Work, eat, sleep. Repeat for 3 weeks = my life.

More or less. One of the recent things that I've managed to do that I'm quite happy about, is start working my way down my nephew's Xmas pressie list. I've been working to stick loads of videos on the cheap horrible Chipod I bought for him, so he can now watch a variety of cartoons, home videos, and other little amusing clips and whatnot, as well as listen to some of his favourite tunes.

The lil dude also said he wanted some playmobil for xmas, and so, to go with his newly repaired (I bought some spares to replace the bits he lost, and now it looks good as new) playmobil airplane, I'd been looking at getting him various airport stuff, a little playmobil airport terminal, and whatnot (bugger, just spilled coffee)...

One thing that I'd promised I was going to buy him, on account of it being really cool, was the Playmobil Cargo Crew (an awesome little set with a load of things like movable stairs and baggage trolleys and cargo loaders and whatnot, to go with his airplane). Another was the little Airport "follow me" safety car, which I figured would be a cute extra. I managed to get both sets for a pretty good price, so I spent some of the difference on getting something else for him too :-).

So now, I've got my mum, my sister, my grandad and my brother's fiancee to buy for.

Have I thought about what I want for christmas? Sure I have. Not had a lot of luck though, can't think of many things I really want. Maybe some Case Neons or something like that, though I did find this natty USB Fingerprint reader (UPEK Eikon!), meaning I wouldn't have to sod about with passwords and usernames and whatnot. Looks cool, is really slinky, and lights up, which means it's ideal for my computer :-D.

[Grr at neighbour down the road, who has fitted a loud exhaust to his car, along with lots of engine tuning and whatnot, but still hasn't grasped that fitting bodywork from two seperate cars (making your car look like a damn zebra) looks crappy - don't get me wrong, the car sounds nice, and the new side-exit exhaust is cool, but damn dude, sort out the paintwork!]

CHAPTER TWO - AFTER DARK 2009

Ahem.

Back at the start of the month we took my ickle nephew to After Dark 2009, a huge fireworks event. After planning to go, even going so far as to try and find their cold weather clothes, my parents suddenly decided that because it wasn't bright sunshine (at 5pm) they weren't going. This is probably the first (of the next 20 years' worth of occurences) occasion of them citing ill health as an obstacle to doing something they don't want.
My ickle nephew was horrified, having been looking forward to going for ages, only to be told at the 11th hour that it wasn't happening. If I sound a bit "attitude-y" that's because I was pretty bloody angry about it too. To be honest, as I said at the time, I didn't even want to go, but the ickle man did, and that was what counted.

In the end, my sis and I ended up taking him ourselves while our parents sat at home under blankets complaining about tired bones and ill health and the slide into retirement and infirmity and whatnot.

We had a pretty nice time, the weather held off, though when the bonfire was lit, some kind of weird temperature inversion thingie (maybe, I dunno, I'm not a meteorologist) meant that when the smoke from the fire reached maybe 20 or 30 metres off the ground, it stopped rising and instead started spreading outwards like, I dunno, that big storm off ghostbusters 1 maybe. Looked pretty dramatic, and was kinda cool.

We wandered round the thing having burgers, bottles of coke,candy floss, chips and whatnot, putting our rubbish into bins (I think we're the only 3 people that did), trying to ignore the acts on the stage who with a couple of exceptions, were your generic manufactured chav-hop rappers from luton going on about how hard life is and stuff. But the crowd seemed to like em so I think the fact the music was crappy is more down to me than to the artists, not sure about that one. But hey who cares, it was fun, not a music critic show or whatever.

The lil dude went on various rides, ate his candy floss, became fascinated with a discarded (and partially deflated) inflatable football he found, and eventually we enjoyed a pretty cool fireworks display.
And then the crowd decided to go home. Yep, what must have been fifteen thousand people all moving in one direction, gives a whole new perspective on the phrase "I was swept along with them". Moving at 90 degrees across everyone else, when everyone else is 5000 times as many people as you are (three of us, remember), is kinda difficult. But eventually the place cleared out, and we sat around waiting for the car park to empty. A few more rides, another bottle of coke maybe, and off we went. But not before we bought the lil' dude a flashing LED laser sword (the generic flashing toys that people sell at such events). It was a good night :-).

CHAPTER THREE - OTHER STUFF

So what else have we been up to? Well, a while ago I reinstalled Zoo Tycoon 2 on my computer, figuring that my nephew would like it.
Unfortunately for me - and for him (when he has to stop playing he throws a tantrum - though he is slowly stopping this and learning to cope with being apart from his zoo) - he loves it so much he wants to play on it all zer time. All, zer, time.

So I've built a couple of zoos for the little guy, only to find that to my horror, since ZT2 is processor/ram dependent and not GPU dependent, when I build a huge huge zoo, my machine (which cost me over £1000 to build, 3 years after ZT2 was released) slows down! Regardless, my nephew loves creating his own zoos, though as you can imagine, he hasn't grasped the finer and more advanced points of, say, not putting an ankylosaurus (my favourite dinosaur, hehe) in with the aardvarks. Or a tyrannosaurus in with the meerkats, for example. As a result, a dozen of his zoos have fallen victim to the "Quit without save?" menu ;-).

One day he wandered in while I was playing UT3 (warning, BIG picture!) and he seems to think it's fantastic. Admittedly it's not the cuddliest game ever, but he's accepted that shooting at the opposing team only makes them go to sleep, as "they come back again" (respawn), so he's kinda made it more kid-friendly himself.
In any case, he doesn't do a lot of shooting, no, like any boy his age, he's more taken with the vehicles and the whole driving around side of things. His favourite vehicle is The Darkwalker, a vehicle that he has affectionately dubbed "Walking-legs".
So to go along with that, we also have the Fury (Flying-Legs), the Scavenger (Spinning-Legs) and the Nemesis (Sliding-Legs).

His favourite though, is the Scorpion (good quality picture not available) - a cool little buggy that features (to my nephew's obvious delight) "swords" that swing out from the front of the car.

He also loves what he calls "The Spy Gun" (sniper rifle), so called because it has a "spy telescope" on top :-).

So yeah. I still have reservations about letting him play on it, but since most of the time he doesn't get close enough to the other team to actually see any fighting, and instead flies around the map in the vehicles, shooting Redeemer missiles into nearby walls (with predictable results) and generally exploring the architecture, firing at inanimate objects, I'm content to let him stay with it.

My sister did suggest that I install something more child-friendly, so out from my software bin came Lemmings "now-works-on-windows-95!" and he loved it, up until level 6 when all the lemmings died and he started crying. So back we went, to Walking-Legs, which has since become his name for the entire game.

PS: ENVIRONMENTALISM IS A LOAD OF CACA - OFFICIAL:

Yes, one thing I forgot to mention is that some enterprising person broke into the computer network at the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit - a bunch of dudes responsible - ostensibly - for learning about the causes of climate change, and how best to combat it.

However, when the public read the 65mb of files, emails and PDFs that had been stolen from the network (and are readily available to download anywhere now), it became clear that not only were the guys at CRU not able to actually FIND ANY EVIDENCE OF GLOBAL WARMING, but had found THE OPPOSITE and WERE NOT HAPPY ABOUT THIS AT ALL.

Not only that, but among the files, were emails requesting that research members delete inconvenient or embarrasing emails, to prevent people using the FOI to examine them, complaints that people who hadn't been taken in by the man-made-climate-change cash cow were still allowed to criticise and judge their work, and general hand wringing and moaning about the fact that "if anyone finds out we HAVEN'T FOUND ANY EVIDENCE OF CLIMATE CHANGE, WE WILL LOSE OUR FUNDING". Or thereabouts.

SO THERE. TAKE YOUR GREEN TAXES, AND [CENSORED].

Sorry if I got a little fired up there. I've been a doom-and-gloom skeptic since governments first thought of the environment as a useful way to levy new taxes.

Daily Mail article on the leak
Telegraph article
The BBC make little mention of the contents of the files, and have drawn considerable criticism, for, well, being up the CRU's arse.

There are a smattering of pro-environmentalism websites out there that play the whole thing down, and various skeptic websites that play it up.

Without knowing the authenticity of the documents, and having read them, I can't say whether I believe the documents to be genuine or not (regardless of the CRU's assertions that some of them are - I wouldn't believe that bunch if they told me zebras were black and white). Regardless, it's nice to see people pause for thought, instead of furiously salivating over (very expensive/lucrative) ways to make their home "greener". Let's see what comes of it :-D.

PICTURES

My ickle Nephew even drew me a lovely picture of Walking Legs (and Flying Legs). Annotated by me, for those of you that aren't as good at recognising pictures as he is at drawing them ;-).

I'll also throw in another couple of pictures, free of charge. This will throw the formatting right out.

Crying out loud, tables are so basic, and still I can't add one to this thing :(.

Oh well, I'm off for a coffee. Bye!








Saturday, October 31, 2009

Clever Tricks, Awesome Treats

Minor note: I'd like to dedicate this post to Lexi, who has been in my thoughts in a fond (non-romantic) way all day :-))

First things first. That is, in quasi-reverse chronological order.

Happy Halloween, to all my American buddies, who are, I believe, busy preparing for/celebrating Halloween. Getting ready to have a cool time with beer, fireworks, costumes, music, and all sorts of cool stuff.

My mephew came round earlier to show me this year's halloween costume - he went out with a cute little Frankenstein costume. With a laser sword. Odd, but you know what kids are like.

Unfortunately, I had to go into work today, so I wasn't able to go round trick or treating with the little guy. But that didn't stop me having a fantastic night.

The day was grey, and turning greyer and spooker as the minutes passed. Many families had already spent lots of effort decorating their houses with posters, spooky pictures, simulated spiderwebs, animated skeletons and the ever-present pumpkins - some of which were really well made.

In a cheerful (and slightly apprehensive, to be honest - my job is driving, and though I consider myself to be a good rider (no serious accidents in 5 years - long may it continue), the idea of riding down streets packed with kids still made me uneasy) mood, I wandered off to work, with the appropriate mood music: Tune 1, Tune 2. Just to get me into the halloween spirit :D.

Work started as being absolutely dead, but fast became jam packed with orders and demands. Eventually I ended up venturing out into the halloween night, light in all parts, by the spooky (almost) full moon, the fireworks, and oddly this year, lots of peace lanterns.

I had a moment, when I was delivering to a housing estate nearby, and I had the hugest grin on my face, what was there was fantastic. Every single house, more or less, was decorated with loads of spiderwebs, posters, etc etc, and the pumpkins there were fantastic. Behind the sound of kids clamouring from one house to the next, the happy conversation between their parents, or the ever-present "trick or treat", was the ominous and creepy and yet fantastically brilliant sound of spooky music - pre-recorded screams, evil laughs, flapping of bats' wings, creaking doors etc, played by a dozen different houses to add atmosphere to the night, which again, was punctuated by the flash and bang of fireworks, and the smell of the smoke they made.

And kids, there were. Dozens of the little guys and girls in varying costumes, most carrying cute little pumpkin-buckets for their treats, or light-up skulls, or magic wands, swords, wizard's staves, or rubber bats, all followed closely by their parents, some of whom were in costumes themselves.

I guess the sight of so many people having fun at the same time, many of those having worked to make it even more fun for everyone else, well. I haven't been that cheerful for a good long while. I must be growing up. I wasn't even joining in, and yet, just watching these folks have a good time was enough to make me feel like I was doing it myself - enjoying halloween by proxy, if you like.

And plenty of places that I went to were the same. I ended up becoming involved, with customers offering me sweets and candy in leiu of monetary tips (I made a grand total of £1.05 tonight, AND a pocket full of haribo , lollipops and chocolate buttons), or kids clamouring at my arrival (pizza scooters seem to hold a special place in the heart of young kids, don't know why. Shame that it turns to resentment or aggression as they get older, but that's another story).

For my part, I'd snaffled a few lollipops on my way out the door, and I'd surrepticiously find out whether the kids that answered the door had been out trick-or-treating.
If their mums said anything along the lines of "we've not had the time" or "we've had homework to do", a lollipop would suddenly work its way into the lil' kid's possession.

I spose I can call it my little contribution :).

Everyone was in a good mood, the atmosphere was fantastic, and as the night wore on, the adults began to have their own fun. Crowds appearing outside pubs, dressed in a variety of costumes, including one bunch who had dressed as the Ghostbusters. Unfortunately, none of them were IC3, which was a shame cos one of the Ghostbusters (Ernie Hudson/Winston Zeddemore) is.
Not to worry, the relevant "ghostbuster" ended up wandering around in full blackface. Thankfully, Harry Connick Jr. was nowhere to be seen, or he'd have got stuck in embarrasing his country on his self-righteous behalf. The jackass is no more qualified to be the spokesman of a nation than I am. Though he did point out the differences in how far political correctness has got it's teeth into the UK/US compared to Aus and other countries.

This continued for hours, even as the smoke from all the fireworks descended like a fog (as it does), gving the night air a ghostly ethereal and very appropriately spooky atmosphere, and still the partying continued - hey, it's 25 past 11 here, the partying I guess is very very much alive in the clubs, who will no doubt be hosting their own halloween parties :D.

I ended up going home, after stopping and buying some beer, walking home to the sound of fireworks, and my earlier Halloween mood music :D. The surreal image of a police van on the corner with its occupants intently talking to witches, warlocks and demons was shrugged off as nothing more than an excess of Halloween spirit on their (the partygoers) part :-).

So now I'm here with my beer, music and whatnot.

PART TWO - OTHER STUFF

My card arrived yesterday. The bloody delivery guy woke me at 8am, and bleary-eyed I stumbled downstairs, wrapped in a bedsheet, and with my slippers on the wrong feet. And then the guy complained when I signed the wrong box on his form.
Bloody hell, I'd been asleep 60 seconds prior to this encounter!

But I had the card, and all thoughts of how tired I was went out of the window. [Skipping a load of unneccessary detail here] I very carefully inserted the card (though as it wouldn't go in without a fight, it wasn't as carefully as I would have liked), and powered the machine on.

Over a week of hopes was riding on this single piece of hardware. Over a week of swearing, shouting, feeling trapped in a room that - when my computer was running - was a room high in a tower, with windows onto the world in every wall, but had been turned into a dingy basement with nothing but bricks to look at ever since my computer went down, everything was riding on this card.

The bios flickered on the screen, artefact-free.
Replaced by a windows login screen.
In 1680x1050.

ARRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGH!!!!!!!!!! It works!!!
And it continues to work!

Within ten minutes, my sound drivers were installed, and I was back on the internet.

Good progress, and I accomplished in twenty minutes, with the right knowledge (anyone detect a pattern here) what I had failed to accomplish in ten days of trial and error.
So sue me. I'm not bloody psychic.

So what have I gained from ten days of swearing, shouting and generally feeling as if (a fairly major) part of my world had been turned upside-down?

I've gained 276mb of graphics memory - upgrading from 620 to 896mb.
I've gained 140gb of hard drive space, having fitted an IDE drive for the sole purpose of installing an OS on.
I've spent nearly £160.

But. My computer's ever only failed on me completely, once. And if £160 keeps it going for another two years, I'll consider it a small price to pay.

My documents are safe, everything is there. The drive is intact, and my memories are there waiting for me to dust them off again.

What else.

My nephew's lil christmas present turned up the same day my computer died. It seems to do its job surprisingly well. The interface is a bit jaggy, and it's impossible to convert videos to run on it, but hopefully I'll figure it out between now and Christmas.

FINALLY, I am celebrating (a few days late!) NASA's successful launch of Ares I-X. I firmly believed that it was going to be today, as it happens, they cheated and launched it a couple of days ago. Either way, the launch was a good success, which is pretty good. So ehy, let's get the beer in :D.

Here are some tunes for you to listen to. They're quite cheerful and quite nice.

Looks like American 80's music - it's not ;)
Rings a few twenty-year old bells.

Here are some sparkly pictures, in no particular order, that all have some degree of relevance to recent blog posts.

One of them is the wheel in Hyde Park, London. Another is the wheel in Sheffield. See the resemblance? ;-)

EDIT: 03:15AM My mom appeared through my door for the first time in over a week, with a big grin on her face.
To my pleasant surprise, she told me that it is good to hear my tica-taka-tacking on my keyboard again.
Yeah I guess I was a little silent while my computer was dead.

Still, it's nice to have people say nice things about you for a change :-).

And here finally, is a lovely Halloween tune for you.
And Another.

And finally who can forget the man himself!!!

Another episode!! :-D.

Only for the kids, these days!!! :-D.


:)

Not scary, as such, but magical all the same :).

Awesome :D.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

The light at the end of the tunnel...

Is not apparently to be found anywhere on my new graphics card.
For some reason, they didn't put one on it. What they did put on it, was 1.4 billion transistors, 216 processor cores, and 896mb of graphics memory.

CHAPTER 1.5 THE BORING COMPUTER BIT:

Well, I've made some progress with my computer, as you may have guessed. The SATA hard drives simply wouldn't talk to the BIOS, so I've taken them out, temporarily replacing them with an old 140Gb IDE drive from my old computer. See, this is why you should keep stuff around.

So I've now got an operating system, and a file/directory structure. My computer is now capable of saving files, accessing them, and moving them around. It can also run some programs, system stability permitting.
It sounds incredibly basic, but a few days ago, it wouldn't even try to load any files, or programs. Unable to see a hard drive, the computer just caught itself in an endless loop, POSTing again and again.

So where does my GPU come into all this?

Well, it seems that the system instability is caused... bla bla bla - I tried to explain what was wrong before realising that I still actually don't quite know.

My current graphics card is not happy, and it certainly isn't fully functional. With artefacts appearing all over the screen, the indicators point to it being physically damaged, whether by overcurrent, static discharge or other factors.
Windows, in its infinite wisdom, has decided that the device wasn't working at full spec, and has therefore disabled it completely (eh?), resulting in knock-on effects that seem to indicate that my monitor can't talk to my computer, because its only contact with the computer is a damaged piece of hardware.

AND NOW WE RETURN YOU TO YOUR REGULAR PROGRAMMING

Regardless of all the above stuff, I've ordered a replacement for my card, and hopefully it should be with me tomorrow. Hopefully it will fix the problem, and hopefully, after getting my computer working again tomorrow, I can spend saturday morning setting it up, copying my old files back to it, and spend saturday night having a beer or ten, listening to music, reading the news, watching TV Shack, chatting with my mates etc etc, on my own computer, for the first time in over a week.

So, what else have I been up to? Well, yesterday I went to town with my mum to look at Christmas presents. While admittedly, my computery problems have taken the edge off my enthusiasm for Christmas slightly, I'm sure this is only temporary, and indeed, we had a nice time yesterday browsing round the shops, looking at all sorts of lovely Christmas gifts I'm looking forward to buying - despite my budgetary problems - in the next 4-6 weeks.

Sheffield's skyline has changed since I last ventured there, with the addition of a huge wheel . Quite a familiar one too. In fact, if you compare the pictures (I'll upload yesterday's sometime when I've got my computer working again), you'll see that the wheel that now sits in Sheffield, is identical to the wheel that we saw in Hyde Park in London, last winter (EDIT: 19:18. The wheel is in fact identical to the wheel that sits in Hyde Park - it's owned by the same company and presumably is made to the same design as the other wheels owned by the company, which stand in several cities including Perth, Copenhagen and Ostsee-Reise. Amusingly, the wheel that I saw in operation in Hyde Park last december, is apparently due to open December 2009, according to the website - maybe they move it there every winter - sounds like a lot of work to me)!

So, all that aside, I guess I'll get on with tidying up, my room has suffered a bit, becoming filled with cables and all sorts of clothes and whatnot, so I guess it's time to fix it.

Oh well, off I go :-).

PS: We're going to do the Christmas Pudding tonight, so let's see if I can shoot some of my first Christmas 2009 videos tonight :-).

Monday, October 26, 2009

More Ballcocks...

Well, what to say.
My system is still crippled, I'm making (very!) slow headway, eliminating the problems that can reasonably be eliminated (Without having a whole extra computer to test things out on!) as time goes on.

Unfortunately, things haven't progressed as quickly as I'd like, and my awesome machine is still down for the count. My documents appear to be safe [grabs a load of chipboard - it'll have to do] but the system is still very opposed to the idea of running anything other than the command prompt.

Still, the more time passes, the closer it is until I get my system working again, I guess.

Meh, still not good.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ballcocks...

Well, the upgrade to the new OS didn't go as planned.

After sorting my display issues I spent some time installing some new software.
After a short but interminable time, my sister came to pick me up.

Yep, my lil nephew, in his quest to get his very own Karate suit, has decided to start Karate club. Cool, by the time he's my age, he'll be a black belt in kicking ass.

So I went along, took the little MP3 player WHICH ARRIVED TODAY (more when my computer isn't crippled) to show my sister, and off we went, sitting about while my nephew practiced being a superhero/did karate.

When I got back I took a few awesome photos, my nephew's first day in his new Karate Suit.
Unfortunately, the dreaded graphics problem reappeared, and even two frantic hours with a mate, screwing about with drivers and whatnot didn't fix the issue.
Just as I was about to reformat, the computer suddenly started again, perfectly, and smiling sweetly (again), my computer ushered me into 1680x1050 goodness.

Unfortunately this was short lived. Less than half an hour after settling in for a good night's internetting, my display suddenly turned into striped bars of random colour, and the computer restarted itself. And when it did, the crippled graphics were back.

I've since reformatted, reinstalled new drivers, it doesn't make a difference.
I was horrified to think (and convinced at one point) that my Graphics Card had given up the ghost, but now I'm not so sure.

Seems this OS is having teething problems, the same as all other new OSes do.

Shame that it's not likely to be sorted out in the near future.

Still, if my computer dies, it'd give me 8 hours extra per day to just live my life.
But I hope it doesn't. I've got things to do, yeah?

Laters...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Welcome to the 90s!

Okay, so having done a lot of stuff last night, reformatting and whatnot, I've learned a couple of things.
  • Just because an OS installs to F:\ doesn't mean that there aren't important files on C:\ that shouldn't be thrown in the recycle bin...
  • If you turn something off and on again enough times, things generally fix themselves. This may have been a secondary factor.
  • 16 (or whatever) million colours at 1680x1050 is something that only happens when your equipment is working properly.

I woke up eager to carry on with reinstalling everything, only to be met with the horrific vision of a 16 colour login screen. Confirming my worst fears, I logged in to be met with a 1990s 16 colour world, where not only was everything not displayed properly, but it was not displayed properly, in 640x480 16 colour. A scary vision, for a dude with an 8800GTS card humming away in his computer.

What did I do to fix it? I don't know. I reinstalled my GPU Drivers (which I've just noticed, with a sly laugh) have installed themselves to C:\Nvidia (one of the directories I deleted yesterday!) and restarted my computer. No better, still 16 colours. So I tried to download new monitor drivers, and instead almost ended up downloading some russian hacker's "automatic driver wizard" whatever program. I think I cancelled the install - difficult when the cancel button was displayed as a white button with white text on a white background, and shut down in disgust.

I did a full cold boot (from shutdown) and for some reason, the computer - I swear if computers could smile sweetly, this one did - booted up in full 1680x1050 glory.

So the answers to my new questions are:

  • With the OS on F:\, are the files on C:\ redundant and un-needed?: No, absolutely not. For some reason, my computer now wants to spread its important files across two partitions.
  • Is it irresponsible to delete things if you don't know what they do?: That depends. On the face of it, of course it bloody is. However, I was going to reformat the entire physical disk (but to my shame, still haven't found out how to do it!) so I figured that any and all files were ultimately redundant.
  • What are you going to do now: I'm going to cut my losses and stop fecking around. My system is now working properly *grabs hold of the nearest wooden object* so I'm going to leave all the important stuff as it is.

And eventually, when my bloody nephew's bloody parcel actually finally turns up, I'm going to crack on with getting that sorted for him. Assuming it doesn't actually get delivered on Christmas Day. Now that would be ironic.

In a really crappy way.

Have fun.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Early Bird... Well, 7:40ish

is currently sat on a TV antenna across the street, preening himself and bobbing his tail around like some kind of rear-mounted magic wand. I wonder if, like Dogbert, he signals at things by pointing to them with his tail...

As Dracula (portrayed by Leslie Nielsen) would say, "I cannot be up during the daytime, what is happening".

Yes, having happily gone to bed at 4am, with a predicted midday rise (day off), I was mildly (!) annoyed to be shouted to get up at 6:20am. And so, with that horrible dizzy/slightly nauseous/weak/gritty eyes feeling you get from prematurely interrupting a sleep cycle, I wandered downstairs to grab my tools, to assist my dad in retrieving the snapped-off end of his office key, from inside his office lock.

A bit of finesse (which is difficult when there's a domestic dispute going on right next to you; "taking a cold-bore shot in the heat of combat, is like a surgeon performing open-heart surgery, with a boxing match raging around him" - Richard Macowicz - Tehehe) later, and with the right tools, I managed to do in 2 minutes what ahem, other people, with the wrong tools, had not managed to do in 20.

So a bit of sodding around later, and that little drama was sorted, leaving me wide awake (ish), with the sun making its way above the horizon. The only sound was the traffic on the nearby motorway, over which my mind helpfully played a rather "quiet sunrise-y" tune (my god, what is going on with that woman's hair!!!) :-).

I must admit to feeling very slightly schitzophrenic at times (no not really! But you get what I mean) - My mind seems to be a helpful counterpart, with tis own opinions and whatnot. It's great being able to solicit advice from yourself. But hey, I guess everyone does that. I hope :-).

So now I'm up, I'm going to spend a little while sodding about with my computer and whatnot, preparing for in depth (but vaguely routine) maintenance.

Perhaps I shouldn't have drunk the cup of coffee my mum left as she toddled off out of the door.
One thing I did notice though, Christmas seems to be in full flow on QVC - Today is "craft day special" or something, and is filled with various christmassy things...

I've got to go now, got to sod about with computery things. I'm going to go back to bed later I guess (hard to go back to bed earlier!), and with some luck the doorbell will wake me as the postman delivers my long awaited parcel.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Gingerbread Men!

17:00: Well, my sister is over here, with her mobile hairdresser due to arrive shortly (for some reason, presumably so my mum can get her hair done at the same time), and my ickle nephew has turned up too.

And we've certainly got a lot to get through. He wants to make ickle halloween gingerbread men with me (he's pounding up the stairs at this very moment), wants to write his christmas list, and I'm gonna take him through ebay to see if there's anything he fancies for christmas :).

Back later!

18:32: We've been making biscuits for about 90 minutes, and now I'm helping the little guy write his name in sprinkles on one of them :D. Much finesse is required :D.
19:20: Despite finding out that the little dude has toddled off with the (brand new) aerial for my r/c helicopter remote control (which I am none too happy about but hey, I'm not gonna sulk about it) the little dude and I are now surfing ebay for Xmas pressie ideas :).

22:14: Right, give me some time to fix everything he's broken, tidy everything he's messed up, and generally wind down and take a deep breath and I'll be with you/me :-).

23:04: Right, everything's just about back to normal. The Demeter, my huge lego spaceship that I built for him, once suffering from a shattered forward hull has now been repaired. The wings have been completely rebuilt too since they were a little fiddly after weeks of repeated repairs :-).

Well, he turned up bearing ghost cookies (gingerbread men in the shape of flying ghosts), and for 90 minutes or so, we (he decorated them while I eventually got on with the washing up) had a great time decorating them, first with the bits included with the kit, then with a pack of marshmallows I found, and finally with some strawberry icing that I made, which despite having the consistency of silly putty and the musty cloyingly sweet taste that only pure icing sugar can provide, was described as "very nice" after I liberally spiked it with red food colouring and strawberry flavouring.

My ickle nephew of course, spent more time eating the icing than he did decorating the cookies, but in the end, we ended up with five yummy halloween cookies, including one which rather impressively bore his name, thanks to some finesse with some sprinkles and a pair of tweezers.

After the cookies were finished, (and I temporarily removed my watched items, including some presents from "my ebay"), the little dude and I went online searching for christmas presents that he might like. I guess no one will be surprised to hear that the little guy wanted this, that, those, these, some of them, and everything in between, but I was pleasantly reassured when he told me (without any prompting) that he wanted an ipod.

Now normally anyone buying presents would be horrified by this, as they're not the cheapest of things, but I noticed how much the little guy liked watching dilbert on my ipod, and had decided to get him something similar (but much cheaper) to watch videos on, for himself. I settled for a cheap chinese knockoff for several reasons to do with cost of purchase/possible replacement, and the convenient fact that at 5, until I explained it to him, he didn't know the difference between an Ipod and a phone, much less between an ipod and an ipod ripoff cunningly designed to look like an ipod. Hey if that sounds callous, look at it this way. I can put the £50 or maybe £60 that I've saved by getting one of those "works just like" chinese ones that I've been so careful to avoid in the past, that I can put that money now towards buying him something lese that he wants as well. If I'd have gone genuine, it would have been either or :-).

So we had a nice time, browsing lots of present shops online, looking at things it'd be nice to buy etc, while the little guy happily sang along with some of the christmas songs I'd put on to get him in the mood. It was nice, even if the lil guy did get hyper every now and then.
Enough about this I suppose, I'll let you get on with whatever you were getting on with. But first, some pictures :-).

Monday, October 05, 2009

October... complete with extra wildlife.

I woke up to the most homely smell, that of vegetables cooking downstairs. It puts me in mind of winter days, where the kitchen is the warmest room in the house, where the cold outside makes the windows steam up, and where Christmas is only a few weeks away. It's a nice smell, and it's making me hungry.

20:02: Well, after a lovely meal of gammon with vegetables, roast potatoes, onion sauce and gravy, I'm now looking forward to my yummy fruit trifle. Yay!

I've been doing more bouncing around ebay looking for cool pressies to buy people, and I've found a couple of interesting things. More about these later in the year I suppose.

So what else have I been up to? Bugger all really :-).

But I did have the strangest experience a couple of days ago.

Walking home from work on saturday, about 11pm, I'm there eating pizza and minding my own business, and I'm walking up the road, on the other side of which is a small square field, with a huge tree in the middle of it.

Under the tree I notice something watching me intently. Initially I think it's a cat, but as it wanders towards me, I can see by its tail that it's not. As I cross to the other side of the road The road was well lit with street lights, with just a narrow line of shadow cast by a telegraph (I guess they're called utility poles these days) pole.

The animal, stops in its tracks, pausing for a second, before (and I think this is fantastic) walking in a straight line following this 30cm wide shadow almost the way to me, on the basis that if he stays in the shadow, maybe I won't see him.

I'm amazed - it's the first time I've ever ever seen a fox - for that's what he is - up this close. They're normally pretty timid creatures, and I've only ever seen them before as a flash of tail as they run into the trees, or as a reflection of light in their eyes, just before they run off, but this guy is being bold as brass, slinking along furtively, but intentley, towards me :-).

I'm stood about watching the fox skulk around and I wonder if I can have a closer look at him. I think to myself;

"What do foxes eat?"
"Anything"
"But what do they like to eat"
"Meat"

So I grab some ham and pork off my pizza and gently so as not to startle the animal, place it on the ground, taking a few steps back. This guy furtively looks around, takesa a few steps towards it, has another quick glance, sniffs the meat and starts eating. All this maybe 3 or 4 meters from me!

I repeat this another couple of times, as the fox starts following me around. Eventually, he decides to wander across the road, and with a quick and final flash of his tail, he disappears over and behind a wall into somebody's garden :-).

what a beautiful creature though, and a completely weird experience.

Not my photo. I wish I had my camera with me, but I'm not going to carry it about on the off chance that I find something to take pictures of while I'm out and about.

Well, I'm gonna carry on searching for xmas presents and whatnot, so I guess I'll be in touch soon .

Have fun.