Saturday, December 23, 2006
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
My last day in NAG after 7 Years, 2 Months and 20 Days.
My last day of free broadband at work with none at home.
My last day of having no money (it's been an expensive month and payday + bonus can't come quickly enough tomorrow).
My last chance to "borrow" some stationary.
My last chance to get the best of the Krispy Kremes.
My last chance to post the bloody Christmas Cards.
You get the idea!
Friday, December 15, 2006
So what has been keeping me busy?
Well I have caught up on some of my Sky+ backlog. I finished all the series of Spooks and am up to date with Torchwood.
Spooks is still my favourite thing on TV (well it isn't on any more, but you get my meaning) and Torchwood is a bit odd! I think I like it. It is a bit gruesome and I probably won't tire of the lesbian kisses for a while, but John Barrowman's lead character annoys the crap out of me! I hope we get some decent character based plotlines soon for him, as he is a bit too mysterious and gung-ho for my tastes - we need a few teasers to keep us going. The one teaser we got was something along the lines of "I need to talk to a certain Doctor I know about why I can't die". OK - great so we can hope for a cross-over with Doctor Who... except Russell T Davis (producer of both) has flatly denied that there will be any crossovers.
What else... Christmas shopping clearly! That is all done now. Although I need to get our Chrissie cards posted!
PC wise... I haven't had time to play NWN2 and haven't had an internet connection to play WoW on, so I actually have been trying Company of Heroes.
Hubert bought it for me for my birthday otherwise I would have ignored it. I gave up on RTS games after Red Alert but since this one fell into my lap for free I thought I would give it a go.
It's fun in small doses! The graphics are great and the mechanism of resource management works well enough that you can pretty much ignore it.
I have learned from my mistakes too. The computer cannot be beaten on more than 2 fronts at once (as the interface doesn't allow you to jump between your troops quickly enough to react to the enemy on 3 fronts). It is better to defend your key structures and then concentrate your attacks on one front at a time. Sure this takes much more time, but you take a hell of a lot fewer casualties. I suspect that as I progress through the game I won't have the luxury of taking my time, but for now the game has a fairly kind learning curve and doesn't punish you too much for ignorant mistakes!
Sure, I won't charge an MG emplacement again from the front! Stick one man in cover in front of it to draw fire and set the rest on flanking manoeuvers (remembering that grenades are your friends)!
Anyway I have some MI to create before lunch, so I'll write more later.
We also got their modded Netgear router and immediately changed all the default settings to something more appropriate! Imagine setting the SSID as SKYABCDE (ABCDE were 5 random numbers) - how uncooth! Also WEP encryption - this isn't the Dark Ages anymore!
I reckon I'll sell our £100 top of the range bit of kit. They still go for £75+ on EBay.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Well I have had the interview and I feel like I have been wrung through a mangle! I am well out of practice!
Hopefully I haven't blown it at stage 1!
Monday, December 11, 2006
Well to confirm some of the technical points I gave their Tech Support guys a ring.
The guy on the other end of the line was clueless.
He didn't know what a MAC address was, he didn't know that ADSL required a username and password... generally I have never talked to someone less capable on a technical helpdesk.
Only this could be worse (20 minutes of pain).
Anyway, I have kicked off the order process AGAIN. We should be up and running the weekend before Christmas! Unfortunately we'll be in York by then!
One little gem that isn't detailed anywhere in their technical info is that you MUST, MUST, MUST use their modem/router. The routers are hardwired with the ADSL username and password and the service is locked to the internal MAC address of the modem. Whilst I can simulate the latter on my £120 Netgear router, Sky won't give me the username and password to put into it and the "POS" they give away for free has been firmware modded to hide the logon details. This means I have an expensive, high speed and ergonimically friendly on the eyes piece of hardware which I cannot use (even as a backup).
I am rather annoyed with Sky at the moment, so I think I will stop phoning them until I calm down!
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
I checked and the phone was working fine, so the data component of the line was being tinkered with. Great I thought - BT are removing the broadband "tag" from the line. I guessed right.
Half an hour later the alarm decided that the line was OK again, so I phoned up Sky and was finally able to order a replacement broadband package.
All we have now is a 1-2 week wait for BT to tinker with the line again to get us reconnected!
The night out last thursday was enhanced by the Scottish law prohibitting smoking in public places.
I got back to the hotel and I didn't stink of fags, my room didn't stink of fags the next morning and my mouth didn't feel like I had been chain smoking (passively).
Roll on the English ban next August!
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
No real problems on the tube but the first train that pulled in was busy and the next train was just behind it so I waited. The next train was as good as empty.
In choosing a seat I would generally pick the one that makes it easiest for me to get off the train at St Paul's. After sitting down I suddenly though... hang on, I sat here the other day and ended up giving up my seat to a pregnant woman as it is near the entrance. So I shifted to a seat in the middle of the carriage where it would be tough to get off, but there was no chance of having to give up my seat!!!!
In the end a woman fainted at Chancery Lane and I was in no position to be expected to give up my seat as I was wedged in the middle of the carriage.
The level of cynicism that is creeping into me is scary!
Monday, December 04, 2006
Thursday, November 30, 2006
I spoke to BT Wholesale this morning and the line will be cleared down on Tuesday night allowing us to re-apply with Sky next wednesday.
Clearly I can blog from work but don't expect much activity from Rena for a while.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Monday, November 27, 2006
Is the women standing next to me 5 months pregnant or slightly podgy? Getting the wrong answer could be painful, but doing nothing makes you seem heartless.
Since I was standing I didn't have too much of a problem, as I just needed to not take a seat when once became available, but there have been times when I have been sat down and needed to keep my nose buried in my book, lest I catch their eye!
Thursday, November 23, 2006
I have been looking at buying a replacement radio for the Mazda and the number of decent setups that include a tape deck is becoming extremely small.
Now that the "iTrip" phenomenon is becoming legal I can forget about it and pick a decent DAB/FM/CD system.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
I got back home and to my normal bus stop pretty much on time and found it mobbed.
We have road works back up the bus line that are causing traffic chaos, so this is ther result.
Eventually three of my bus turned up, however the first one was packed (as you would expect), the second told everyone to get off and then turned around and headed back the other way and the third bus was therefore hugely over required.
I managed to squeeze on and we sat there for 5 minutes whilst the driver argued with the last guy to get on (he jumped on after the driver said the bus was full). Anyway we eventually get to Shepherd's Bush and into the Central Line...
The platform is full. The board shows the next three trains are due in 7, 12 and 18 minutes respectively (so much for one train every 2 minutes!).
I can see a very long commute stretching ahead of me (as the trains are normally quite full when they hit Shepherd's Bush). Deciding that there is enough time, I squeeze onto the out of town platform and station hop out to White City, where I dashed up and over the foot bridge just in time to catch the training heading back to the Bush.
Pretty full but still room to get on and back to the Bush we head. Well it was murder on that train! I reckon I was well on my way to being coooked. It was so packed that I could have lifted both my feet off the floor and not fallen over! Thank goodness I had skipped breakfast.
Well I am slowly cooling down and will start work when I don't feel quite so "icky".
Now this is normally something that you nod your head and assume they play the odd wedding or birthday party on a friday night and think nothing more about it.
Well Lee is the Bassist for To-Mera who are a bit like Evanescence and since he is a nice guy I suggest you check them out!
Monday, November 20, 2006
Saturday, November 18, 2006
So I managed to use some serious capital from Serena being a dirty stop-out (she passed her exams and is now a Fellow of the College of Emergency Medicine) and buggered off to see Casino Royale by myself.
The cinema was a little quiet (an early showing) so myself and three others settled down to a "bit of bond".
You can break Casino Royale down into three parts. The beginning is vintage Bond: Action, Girls, Fast Cars and some good Bond / M interplay (no Q in this film). The middle section is new ground for Bond, being all about characters (specifically Bond, Vesper and Le Chiffre) and works really well. I though Daniel Craig and Eva Green had real chemistry and that Mads Mikkelsen's bad guy routine was nicely vulnerable.
Finally we come to the last segment. Here we break the golden rule of films and novels... new characters with no back story just thrown into the mix. It doesn't work. The final set piece of action is no where near as good as the free running at the start of the film and the plot twists are telegraphed with big "TWIST COMING" signs.
There is some violence in the film and it deserves its 12A certificate. I would like to see a Director's Cut with the original 15 certificate version released on DVD.
Is there something for the ladies? Most definitely! I am seriously jealous of Daniel Craig's physique and the female characters are all strong enough to more than hold their own against Bond. The girls will love the torture sequence too (trust me).
I really enjoyed this film. Caterina Murino was excellent as Solange (as were most of the bit parts), although Ivana Milicevic as Le Chiffre's girlfriend Valenka should sue the art director and costume designer for making her look ugly!
The ending did spoil the whole package but I reckon that the franchise is heading back on track and I look forward to seeing what the producers can come up with for the next outing.
Overall I give the film 7/10. (9/10 if you leave before the last 1/2 hour!)
PS Gillian - please take Gareth to see this film! You will enjoy it and it will stop Gareth sending me abusive texts! Plus think of all the "chick flick" capital you will earn! There are lots of Jude Law films coming out soon!
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Before I started blogging I would spam all my friends' email inboxes with chatter on a daily basis, and just occassionally those who are slack at keeping in touch would drop a response that would trigger a conversation.
I have lost that with blogging. At least three of my old friends have gone quiet and I haven't heard from them in over three months.
I suppose I should email them but I don't feel like writing a life update email when all that is me is sprawled across these pages.
I caught up with one briefly on Messenger last night (purely at random)... Now I need to be good and keep in touch! As for the others... I actually rang a couple of the them a few months back and got the standard response... "Oh, I've been really busy... I'll contact you soon for a chat."
Maybe I need to look at myself - maybe they don't love me anymore?
I "need" to go and see Casino Royale as soon as possible.
Serena is working every weekend until Christmas with me looking after Lauren, so the only chance we have of going is on a week night.
Our only baby-sitter is not available at the moment, so I am left high and dry with the only choice being to catch it over Christmas.
I could go and see CR without Serena, but is my "wife faction" high enough to avoid recrimination / guilt? It's one hell of a dilemma!
You'll find out my decision based on when the review appears on this blog!
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Monday, November 13, 2006
Looking at the way Serena's job stands it looks like we will have to stay in London a bit longer than we hoped, before departing down under.
What this does mean though is that we will now be here long enough to make it worth our while to change a few of our contracts / mortgage etc (as we will still be around in 12 months time).
The biggest thing you may notice is that I am going to switch ISP, and associated with that we may loose Broadband for 3-4 weeks (hopefully less, but you can never tell).
Obviously I want to do this whilst I still have internet access at work, but it does mean that I won't be able to work from home and our blogging may fall behind a bit (certainly no photos or videos for a few weeks).
Just thought I would let you all know.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Serena and I want to invite you round for lunch and ideally we want to coincide the meal with Alex's birthday on the 2nd. However we can't plan it if you don't let us know when you are coming!
Plan B is to feed you all on the 31st, but we either way WE NEED TO KNOW SOON!
- Coffee (n.) the person upon whom one coughs.
- Flabbergasted (adj.) appalled over how much weight you have gained.
- Abdicate (v.) to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
- Esplanade (v.) to attempt an explanation while drunk.
- Willy-nilly (adj.) impotent.
- Negligent (adj.) describes a condition in which you absent-mindedly answer the door in your nightgown.
- Lymph (v.) to walk with a lisp.
- Gargoyle (n.) olive-flavoured mouthwash.
- Flatulence (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller.
- Balderdash (n.) a rapidly receding hairline.
- Testicle (n.) a humorous question on an exam.
- Rectitude (n.) the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.
- Pokemon (n) a Rastafarian proctologist.
- Oyster (n.) a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.
- Frisbeetarianism (n.) (back by popular demand): The belief that, when you die, your Soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.
- Circumvent (n.) an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.
The Washington Post's Style Invitational once again asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition. Here are this year's winners:
- Bozone (n.) The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
- Cashtration (n.) The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.
- Giraffiti (n) Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
- Sarchasm (n) The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.
- Inoculatte (v) To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
- Hipatitis (n) Terminal coolness.
- Osteopornosis (n) A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)
- Karmageddon (n) It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.
- Decafalon (n.) The gruelling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.
- Glibido (v) All talk and no action.
- Dopeler effect (n) The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
- Arachnoleptic fit (n.) The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.
- Beelzebug (n.) Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
- Caterpallor (n.) The colour you turn after finding half a grub in the fruit you're eating.
And the pick of the literature:
- Ignoranus (n): A person who's both stupid and an asshole.
I thought I would share the headlines with links!
Miracle Seeker in Jesus Plummet
The 'heart-attack' burger to die for (That one is for Sally)
Will anyone love me with my tiny penis?
Non-invisible bank robber caught
Jesus image appears on dog
Nude man has anal screwdriver
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Anyway, the latest Gatesism that has crossed my path has left me bewildered!
Each copy of Windows Vista will only install twice! Full Stop, No More! So if you bugger your system up more than once or decide to switch a few key components (mainly your motherboard) then you are in deep do-do! (And we ain't talking extinct flightless birds.)
Now Serena and I have been good citizens for quite a while now, owning three fully licenced copies of Windows XP. The laptop copies aren't an issue, as you aren't going to switch your hardware around much in there, so restoring from the original back-up disks is the way to go every time (followed by a 6 hour session of patching Windows).
Let me look at our desktop though:
So far that copy of Windows has been reinstalled 3 times. Once following a motherboard death, once just to clean up a slowing system and once following hard disk failure.
OK, assuming I was a really organised good boy then I would have taken a Ghost Image straight after the core install and patch and could have reverted to that image for two of the three reinstalls listed above without needing to "reinstall" windows. However if we suffer another motherboard death, then we would absolutely have to reinstall from the base disk, and if we were running Vista then Microsoft would not allow us to verify the install and download future updates as our number of installs had been exceeded.
Unlike Norton, who just reset the clock (so to speak) if you phone them up stating that you have been forced into a reinstall, I don't see Microsoft bending on this and it will make Vista a bloody nightmare to maintain in the long term. Surely in this modern day and age we don't need to start locking software down to a fixed number of installs in an attempt to stamp out piracy. If you read my rant on one of Gareth's DRM posts you will see that I am all in favour of games platforms like Steam and surely Microsoft are more than capable of setting up something similar for your Operating System and other applications.
Actually - how cool would that be... You install a really basic OS and connect to a website. It checks some details and then during a nice overnight session all your applications, drivers and whatever extra bits of OS you need would be downloaded onto the machine. No disk swapping, no 300 character licence keys and no incessant patching!
I don't like piracy. If I do use something "dodgy" and I like it then I will buy it and dump the dodgy copy. I consider that my right as a consumer to try before I buy!
Buying something that is critical to allow me to use everything else I have bought and to find that I can only use it twice is just plain wrong. Come on Microsoft - play nice!
OK - rant over and time for some humour!
Since I got up this morning, I have had the niggling feeling that something wasn't quite right.
I couldn't put my finger on it, but I have felt kind of distracted all day.
Anyway, I just discovered that I have had my pants on back to front since getting dressed in the dark!!!! At least the mystery is solved!
Monday, November 06, 2006
Anyway to keep you going how about a quiz.
I got 9/10 as I would hope!
I could tell instantly that I stepped out the door this morning that it was the 6th November... The faint odour of the previous two nights' bonfires was sat in the air under the blanket of fog.
We had some fairly impressive local firework displays, both official and back garden based, over the weekend and apart from the clown who was letting off fireworks close to midnight last night the entertainments have passed without much incident. A couple of loud bangs woke up Lauren, but she settled back down quickly, and the Acton display on Friday night fascinated her as we watched from her bedroom window.
Friday's lunchtime session with the image consultant was vaguely interesting... definitely much more there for the girls. I can't say I learned terribly much, as it was all pretty standard fair. I will be going out to buy some make-up though as apparently I am more likely to get paid up to 25% more if I bother to get made up for an interview as opposed to turning up without!
After a couple of weeks of testing the ground Lauren finally has started walking much more frequently without help. I managed to grab some footage on the video setting of our still camera and I stuck the 3 films on Google (and linked on the family blog).
I finally got to play a bit of Neverwinter Nights 2 as well. The reviews I have read are fairly spot on. It is a great game that plays somewhere between the original NWN and KotOR 2. I haven't progressed too far (Lev 6) but it is very pretty and manages to tax my PC so much in outdoor zones that I am going to have to crank the video options back somewhat. It plays like Baldur's Gate, in that you start out alone and pick up party members as you treck around. Max party size of 4 is a huge drawback though! I reckon that to play a character outside of the Holy Tetralogy (Fighter, Cleric, Wizard, Thief) will be quite taxing and you'll have to sacrifice some aspect of the game. BG 1 and 2 and the IWD games allowed you to have six characters, which allowed you to balance out a few odd choices. I'll see how the game progresses before I write much more. I hope the multiplayer works well.
This week is Serena's final exam week so hopefully she will relax a bit come Thursday night. I think a big restaurant blow out will be in order!
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Misters Butcher, Baker, Carpenter and Plumber are currently attending an annual convention. Nobody is currently, nor ever has been in the same profession as their name and no-one has had the same profession twice. Charlie has never been a carpenter and Mr. Butcher is now a plumber. Dave used to be a butcher, whereas Mr. Brian Baker never has. Mr. Plumber is not called Eddie and Mr. Carpenter did not used to be a butcher. Can you determine the full names of each of the attendees, along with their current and previous profession?
You may find this helpful: (don't say I'm not good to you)
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Serena has her final exams next week (and they are REALLY final if she passes them!).
I have been doing my examiner job, where I get one of her books and pretend to have a disease / ailment whilst she goes through the motions trying to come up with a diagnosis.
Last night was practicing the neurological exam of the legs and arms... By the end of it I could name all the nerve stems and dermatomes! (And so could Serena!)
Today I met my new lifestyle and career guru (I can't think of another way of describing him - he is helping me make myself as attractive as possible - job hunting wise). We had a one hour chat about me (always fun) and we did a bit of reality checking (i.e. the market is quiet so I may not walk into a job in January, however if I market myself right there is no reason why I couldn't earn £500 per day as a contractor). I feel energised!
Now people know that I am leaving I am getting really off the wall questions thrown at me about applications I worked on years ago (some before Sydney). Clearly knowing that if something went wrong I was still around was too much of a comfort blanket and people are having small kittens! It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside and allows me to get petty revenge on people I never got on with! :P
We had a nice meal at Pacific last night... Lauren enjoyed herself, either looking out of the window at the buses, eating chips off her own plate (and refusing to eat anything else until the ice cream arrived) or staring at the huge log fire as if mesmerised.
Congratulations to and fingers crossed for Alex who has agreed to sell his flat in Twickenham and has agreed to buy a new 2 bedroom house in Kingston upon Thames.
Streetmap of the new place here and an aerial piccie below.
His is next door to the place with the blue tarpaulin in the back garden!
Expandable version here.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Anyway, I popped to Boots yesterday and bought their own brand "Night Time Cough Syrup for 1-12 Year Olds" which is Pholcodine based and includes a decongestant.
It works REALLY well.
Lauren had a dose around 6 pm and slept soundly until 2.30 am this morning. We gave her a second dose and after about 30 minutes she was out like a light again and we didn't hear a peep out of her.
Now we just need to resist the urge to dose her when she is not unwell! (Kidding)
Friday, October 27, 2006
Think I've sorted the problem; human error rather than LiveWriter fault!
I've enjoyed using it (now that I've figured out how to post pictures and stuff); so thanks for Gareth for the suggestion. It's really easy to use and a lot less frustrating than trying to log into Blogger dashboard.
I'm looking forward to more Tools etc. for it once the full version comes out.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Our little Micra was scraped by some rude person in the Chiswick Sainsbury's car park (see post). This was despite the car being in a Parent and Child space (so having extra room on either side) and the car being within the designated space.
May have been blind as well as rude, then.
Anyway, as is often the case in London, it was a hit and run. The offender didn't even have the honesty to put a note on our windscreen to say sorry. It makes me mad. Another one of those things we have to put up with in this dirty, uncaring city.
(Slightly off topic: this guy falls over on the bus yesterday as I was coming home, as he was trying to get into a seat when the driver accelerated away. He apologised for falling over because he knocked two of us already sat down. I asked him if he was OK; the other person didn't even look up from her book. They guy just looked blankly at me as if he didn't know what to say back. Or maybe it was the laryngitis and he didn't hear me properly...but you get my drift. Kindness is not expected in London.)
Anyway, I phoned the insurance company and they arranged for their garage to pick up the car and to repair the damage. You've probably seen from the photos that whilst unfortunate, the damage is hardly major.
Can you believe that they estimate a completion date of 15th November? I was shocked to say the least. I hope that these dates are subject to revision!
Maybe it's just usual for some mechanics / engineers to wildly overestimate the time so that you'll be impressed when they finish early. Think of Scotty from Star Trek!
Fingers crossed that we'll have the Micra back before then, otherwise I'm going to have to get used to driving the big Mazda estate. Jase usually drives it as I don't really like big cars, but I guess it's about time I got used to it!
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
OK here are two Links:
HD Version and Normal Version.
Please don't watch the video all the way through... about 2 seconds will be enough to understand the rest of this post!
Now my experience tells me that the motion of the breasts in this video is NOT NATURAL. Some Japanese programmers need to seriously stop writing / playing games and get out there and observe more real people.
As my hero Absath puts it:
Taking all that into mind I give you today's comic!
Thanks to CAD.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
2. Experts Exchange, a knowledge base where programmers can exchange advice and views at
3. Looking for a pen? Look no further than Pen Island at
4. Need a therapist? Try Therapist Finder at
5. Then of course, there's the Italian-Power Generator company
6. And now, we have the Mole Station Native Nursery, based in New South
7. If you're looking for computer software, there's always
8. Welcome to the First Cumming Methodist Church. Their website is
9. Then, of course, there's these brainless art designers, and their whacky website:
10. Want to holiday in Lake Tahoe? Try their brochure website at
We currently get our 8 Meg broadband from UKOnline, part of the EasyNet group. Our exchange has their hardware so we are classified by BT as an LLU ADSL* user.
Sky bought EasyNet and are now offering Sky Broadband on the same hardware as UKOnline.
We pay £25 per month for our 8 Meg service.... Sky Broadband is £10 for 16 Meg - both are unlimited downloads.
So I phoned up UKOnline to get a MAC code to transfer the service (works the same as Mobile Phones) and they said it can't be done as both companies use the same hardware and BT gets confused!!!!
So I phoned Sky Broadband and they also blamed BT saying this wasn't an issue related just to EasyNet hardware, but anyone using LLU ADSL (as opposed to BT based ADSL).
So instead of taking 2 hours to transfer my Broadband using a MAC code, I have to fully cancel my UKOnline contract and wait 5 days for the line to be cleared down by BT, before then ordering Sky Broadband.
All in all I am guaranteed to be without broadband for 2 weeks minimum and maybe upwards of a month!!!!!
Looking at how we use the internet, we can't do it! Serena needs the internet for the next month for her exams and I use it for work every Friday. So that means it would be Christmas/New Year before we can even think about switching.
Since the Sky package is 12 months minimum and we plan move to Oz around October/November next year, I don't think I can be bothered switching providers given the extra hassle of cancelling early at the end.
I have never even seen anyone state that migrating from LLU ADSL is impossible without cancelling completely. So who is to blaim? Sky/UKOnline would seem to point the finger at BT.
I think I may have to find a high horse and go off crusading on this one as I am thoroughly dissatisfied and can't seem to find anyone to take the flack. Time to email a few computer mags "Help" pages to see if I can get some journalists in my corner!!!!
* LLU = Local Loop Unbundling - shows that you are not using BT ADSL Hardware.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Since I can't post the following in the comments properly it is posted here for Gillian and Gareth!
So I guess I shouldn't buy you this calendar as your Christmas prezzie?
GK - Would you prefer I got him this one or this one?
Or am I fighting a losing battle with this one?
First up lets talk about Brains! Or more specifically the Brain Warehouse, that I spotted in Shepherd's Bush about a month ago. It appeared and vanished within a couple of days so I never got any photos. It turns out that it was a film set for the Government's new series of Cannabis adverts. I wish I could have gotten a couple of photos though as it was a brilliant setup.
Hmmm, next... Da Vinci Code.
Well Serena's delayed birthday prezzie of a couple of DVDs turned up on Saturday, so we watched the Da Vinci Code yesterday afternoon. I have read the book twice and was a bit scepticle about the film. I have to say it is a very good yarn if you take it in its own right, but the book tells the story much better as there is more time to build the plot (the book is a slow burner, as opposed the hectic film). They also Hollywoodised the ending slightly, which was a shame. Definitely worth a watch whether you have read the book or not.
How about Sore Bums?
The plan for lunchtime today is to go to the Tate Modern and play on the new art exhibition - a set of huge slides. Apparently the pieces are a bit roughly welded together and give you a bit of bounce on the way down, so I may be sitting carefully later! Still I am fairly well padded in that region so I should be OK!
The new BBC version is actually quite entertaining. Maybe I was hoping for something more like the 1980's ITV version, with a nice mystical undertone, but nevermind. I think the BBC were expecting too much for it to be on a par with Dr Who, as the writing is not as strong, but there is potential in there if they choose to develop the characters a bit more. Generally it is Robin seeking glory and the Sheriff seeking the Ham of the Year award. Could do better, but worth a watch.
And finally U certificate movies...
I am always amazed how certification standards have changed down the years. Take a classic film like The Guns of Naverone which was on Channel 4 on Saturday - Certificate U. There is a lot of "Stealth Violence" in the film - cuttings of throats and blackjacking etc and the dialogue, whilst free of modern swear words is quite "strong" and "adult" in places. I reckon that it would get at least a PG certificate, if not a 12 if it was reclassified now. I am certain there are other films like this out there - The Black Hole (Scary) is the only one that leaps to mind right now, and maybe Clash of the Titans (very violent).
Friday, October 20, 2006
Unlike Gareth and Rena, I am not a Firefox all the way type of guy... there are bits about it that I love, but there there is something about it, that I can't quite put my finger on, that doesn't quite work in my eyes.
Well Microsoft finally release Internet Explorer 7 yesterday and I installed it last night. It still looks like a Microsoft product, but it has the bits of Firefox that I like thrown in (tabbed browsing etc), and even does them better.
Firefox 2 is due out of beta in a month or so and I have no doubt that it will appear on this PC as well, but for now I am back using IE over Firefox.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
A Pie and a Pint at lunchtime (London Beer is just too bad! I resorted to Guinness.)
Four cards in total (and numerous emails / text messages / blog comments).
A couple of "No Show" DVDs (much to Serena's embarrassment).
Pork Chops for dinner and finally taking the piss out of the idiot girls on Ladette to Lady (recorded from last week).
Clearly my 34th isn't a major milestone, but I still think my 30th was my best of recent years. Having been used to rain, wind and foggy weather on my birthday all my life, spending the day on the beach in Queensland soaking up the UV radiation and dodging jelly fish in the crystal blue waters was a definite plus! Follow that up with an outrageous shirt, cocktails and fine food and the day was complete!
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
I posted lunchtime yesterday and my post vanished into the ether for 12 hours, only to reappear when I logged in this morning!
Gareth's blog seems to have vanished. I guess he forgot to put 50p in the meter again!
James seems to be training people how to scramble eggs! I see this as a step forward from his perpetual studentship (Kidding mate!), although I didn't realise he knew how to cook!
How to make an egg survive a 2 story drop using just Newspaper, Card, a Carrier Bag full of String and Sticky Tape? I love these types of challenge.
How many of James' students will think outside the box and use the Carrier Bag as a parachute? People often overlook the "container" when presented with a load of items to use in this type of challenge.
We had a competition at school called the "Great Egg Race" (name nicked from a TV Show of the same theme). The idea being you had a bunch of rubbish and a challenge to complete within 2 hours. I always enjoyed it! Hell my team won when I captained it - thanks to James for a History Lesson!!!! (And he was working for a different team.)
Anyway, back to the plot (so to speak).
Another day on the helpdesk for me. I am writing up procedure as I go, which makes the work twice as dull.
When I get a spare 15 mins at home I have been playing the Battlefield 2142 demo. It is good fun (Like BF2), but you must, must, must find a server where people are prepared to play in teams otherwise it turns into a free-for-all nightmare.
Three cards made it on time (although I left before the postman this morning). Maybe being 34 isn't too bad.
Lunch at Smiths today I think!
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Serena pretty much covered off our weekend in her blog as well as plans for our Return to Oz.
So what can I ramble on about this week?
Well work is busy. Very busy in fact! Then I suspect that comes from 3 days off sick and the accompanying back-log that people expect you to catch-up on.
This week I am mainly supporting broadband.
So how do you explain to a technophobe that they need to upgrade a USB ADSL modem to am ADSL Modem/Router without using long words???? Most of the time I fob them off and tell them to ring their ISP for all the details of what they need to do. Back in the old days, ISPs refused to support routers, but nowadays you find they will help with almost anything technical. I did send one guy into PC World and he phoned me from the store to say they had laughed at him! I told him to stick two fingers up at them and go to Comet (which was next door). Sometimes I dispair at the level of customer service in this country.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Anyway, Lauren looked a lot better yesterday, whilst I continued to whimper on the sofa like the strapping bloke that I am, so I dragged myself out of my sick bed to take her to nursery this morning.
On the way home I stopped at Sainsbury's to pick up some essentials (milk, paracetamol, extra-soft toilet paper...)
When I cam back out to Serena's car (it has the better of our two car seats in it so I use it for school runs when possible) some bastard had pranged it:
I complained to the store manager and he sent a security guard to review the CCTV footage and then I headed off to the police station.
After much form filling, and a trip home to pick up my insurance details etc, the Police advised me to lean on Sainsbury's over the CCTV footage as they have a history of being "slow to produce" evidence! So back to the store manager I trotted and "leaned" on him.
The annoying bloke refused to let me review the CCTV footage myself and said he would contact me if his security staff had anything to report! I really wanted to witness this act if wanton destruction! I could feel my pants wanting to leap to the outside of my trousers and a cloak flapping in the wind!
Anyway, for a good 45 minutes I completely forgot how ill I am!
I am back home now and am going back to bed!
Monday, October 09, 2006
Minidisk... Waste of money! It was handy for about 6 months and then it was just too much hassle to use it. I suppose it could be used as a Dictophone as it has a microphone socket, but generally made obsolete by MP3.
DVD Recorder. We suffered VCR problems just before Christmas and our Sky+ was out of commission so I bought a DVD Recorder from ASDA. Now I didn't pay a huge amount of money for it and you generally get what you pay for, but ours is just crap! The menus are unfriendly. It is unreliable. It has a habit of corrupting disks that were working fine when you tried them last week and I can't get it to work with anything but rewritable disks (as it corrupts every DVD-R + or - that I have used in it). I can't even be bothered to EBay it! It's one redeeming feature is that it is small and multiregion, so I reckon it will end up in either the bedroom or kitchen as a DVD player.
PDAs. In theory my Dell Axim should be in use every day... But instead it sits on its charger at home and pings at me when someone's birthday gets close. It is too bulky to be used for the purpose I need it for... (address book / diary / plus other bits a bobs). I could even use it as a mobile media player (MP3 and MPG) but the in build audio device is shockingly bad that it just isn't worth it, and the battery life means that 30 minutes of video is your limit! I think I may invest in a decent smart phone, once whatever new job takes off, as it makes sense to me to have diary and address book linked to your phone. I'll let Gareth bamboozle me with smart phone science as that is one of his pet topics!!!! I'll also leave the mobile media player to a decent Laptop and MP3 player as they do the job so well!
What else... Hmmm... How about the switch over to Digital TV?
I think this is both needed and being handled disastrously.
The key points that no-one in power seems to have picked up are as follows:
1/ The majority of people in the UK will need an new aerial to get Digital TV, unless they seriously boost the signal. I am in a really good reception area and I still can't get freeview through our roof aerial. Your average granny is going to get ripped off if they don't get proper assistance!
2/ Going back to your average person on the street who never bothered with Sky/Cable TV (and I am thinking of my Mum here)... The concept of keeping your TV on one channel whilst you change channels on the Digibox will be new (even though they could have been doing that on their VCRs for years - but they just didn't). The fact that they won't be able to easily watch one programme and record another is also a factor and will be complicated even further if they need to either (a) leave the digibox on the correct channel whilst they are out or (b) remember to program the digibox to change channel! Don't even go there about trying to record Eastenders and Coronation street whilst they are away for 2 weeks! (With most digibox guides only being 7 days and not having a "series link" option.)
I really want to get my parents onto Digital TV, but I am lost at the best way of implementing this! (Don't even mention the old TV in the study that doesn't even have Scart sockets!) If I could get them on Sky I would but they aren't allow a dish on their house! Maybe in the loft?
Sigh... Rant over!
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Friday, October 06, 2006
Anyway Serena got an invite almost straight away and I shrugged my shoulders and was all manly with my "I didn't really expect to get an invite anyway"!
Well my invite came this morning and my Ego is feeling a lot better about itself!
It does throw up one small problem... The invite clearly states "No Hangers On" and "No Bags". I have had to email the High Commission to get permission for us to bring Lauren, her pushchair and her bag of goodies (Nappies, Milk etc). Once I hear back from them (they have a 24 Hour response SLA) then I will book my timeslot, either to coincide with Serena or to go before her (so she can look after Lauren and then we swap).
It also means I need to sort out my CV slightly sooner than I was intending, but Hey, my Ego is well pleased!
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Monday, October 02, 2006
Take for example this weekend's trip to Asda.
The place is like a bombsite at the moment as they are changing the layout and Sunday mornings seem to be a popular time for families to hit our local Asda superstore. I was popping over to buy some milk, bananas and nappies (the essentials)! The first incident was in the nappy aisle. Pampers were on a 2 packs for £16 offer and the area was a bit of a jumble. Seeing the offer I picked up the last 4 packs of Size 4's and dumped them in my trolley. Moments later a family started rooting through the size 3's and 5's looking for more size 4's (I was looking at juice bottles for Lauren) and the women came out with a colourful expression that meant "Oh dear they haven't got any #4's left!" The father then looked in my trolley at my 4 packs of #4's and I swear for a second I thought he was going to take them. He was a rather large bloke and if he had tried, there would have been little I could have done to stop him beyond shout and duck! I am sure he wouldn't, but I've been in London too long and the paranoia is starting to seep in.
Incident number two was at the checkout. The queues were long and I was standing in line with everyone else. Behind me I heard a manager tell and assistant to "Open Aisle 13", so I followed her down there. As I had a trolley to navigate with she got there well ahead of me and just as I joined the queue of one person, a lady from Aisle 14 rammed into the side of my trolley saying "You weren't thinking of pushing in front of me were you?". I bit my tongue! In the end I said "You seemed to be in the other queue, but I am a gentleman so feel free to go first." I added a nice edge of sarcasm which was lost on this lady (I forgot to say she was American)! She just replied "Why thank you!", which was as blatant an admission of guilt that I have ever heard (and she wasn't being sarcastic)!
The final London incident happened this morning at the bus stop. I am a bit knackered as Lauren has a nasty cough that kept us all awake, so I was pretty much on autopilot. A 266 pulled in (not my bus) so I stood back and watched a few people get off. The first person off deliberately kicked a loose can of Coke onto the road from the bus. After the hurly-burly cleared I notice the can was full and sealed and lodged under the bus's wheel. I took three steps back and watched with morbid fascination as the bus pulled away, the can exploded and soaked a poor woman's pink skirt in Coke. I don't know why I said nothing in warning... that isn't like me. I normally warn people about wet seats on the tube etc... Maybe I am just tired, or maybe it is the London "look after number one" attitude sinking into my bones.
All of the above is reinforcing Serena's and my opinion that we NEED to get out of this city. I can't see us staying here for more than a couple of years. If things don't work out for Serena we may head north of far south much, much sooner.
Hmmm... Maybe I am depressed? A cup of tea is needed!
Friday, September 29, 2006
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Monday, September 25, 2006
Thursday, September 21, 2006
This one is for Jase and Gareth!
Note to Jase: Further drooling over technology is suspended until suitable job(s) are secured!
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Nothing on the "entertainment" channels grabbed me, and I only lingered for a few minutes on the movie channels before coming bored.
We don't subscribe to Sky Sports any more (cost saving - the only person who watched it was Serena's Dad!) so the next channels I hit was the music ones.
I am not like Gareth in that I can't normally sit and watch MTV or VH1 (channels picked arbitrarily rather than based on knowledge of Gareth's viewing habits) so I was speed flicking and had to back up about six channels when something caught my eye....
Kerrang were dedicating a 30 minute slot to the "Meat", and so I kicked back and entertained Serena with my karaoke versions of various Bat out of Hell (1 and 2) tracks!
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
This is a good thing, as the photo shows how it currently appears. Leaves a lot to be desired! The BBC TV centre is close by. As an aside, we've been meaning to go down there to catch a show or be part of an audience...maybe some day when we have babysitters!
According to the Beeb, it will be really big and have a lot of the major retailers, as well as restaurants and cinema. And importantly, it will have car parking!
People were on the news to say that it will be a disaster for Oxford Street because it is so close and will pull shoppers away. Well, I for one won't be sorry. Oxford Street is a nightmare, especially on Saturday. You have to walk for miles to get between the shops you want, you're exposed to the elements, it's so crowded that you can't move (you're pushed along by the swell of people, rather than going in the direction you want) and at the end of the day you have to struggle on and off public transport with all your shopping, as there's no parking.
Imagine doing that with a one year old! In fact, no need to imagine, as I've not been able to go with Lauren in tow. The one time I've been to Oxford Street this past year, I had to leave Lauren at home with Jase, otherwise I could not have gone.
So I can't wait for the new shopping centre! Somewhere to shop without feeling hassled, we'll have a cinema and the general area will undoubtedly improve with this coming to the area (which means our house value will go up - yay!).
Roll on 2008!
Monday, September 18, 2006
Whether it is how we were brought up, or whether it was just well crafted I couldn't tell you, but we have really enjoyed this programme and were getting to the stage where we were shouting at the telly! (Especially when Siobhan beat Aoife in the semi-final.)
Justice was done in the end with Connie and Helena making the perfect last two and with Connie getting our vote for the Win! (Which she did!)
I found it strange that ITV were so threatened by this show... Football and other commitments meant that the BBC move it round the schedules nearly every week, and ITV dutifully moved the X-Factor audition show around to match minute for minute. I just don't see why they felt they needed to do that as X-Factor isn't even at a voting stage.
So what else has tickled my fancy recently?
As previously commented A Town Called Eureka on Sky has been good fun, and I am delighted that Spooks has returned for a new series. I am even more delighted as the Hallmark channel on Sky have just kicked off a rerun of Spooks Season 1, which I missed!
Friday, September 15, 2006
So I have the choice between Voluntary Severance or Redeployment.
The latter means you get stuck on a list of people with no jobs and get matched to a vacancy. You get very little say in what vacancy you get matched against, so I am not inclined to pick that option.
The former means I get a pay-off of approx half a year's salary (not certain on the tax implications) and need to find a new job.
Looks like I will out of work come November!
Thursday, September 14, 2006
I had to laugh reading you blog in more detail last night.
I love the piccie of James asleep. That is a view I have woken up to far too many times in my 33 years. I must dig out some of the older pics for you to laugh (I mean look) at.
I have also been watching A Town Called Eureka. It is great.
I am having a bad relationship with my PDA... I have decided that it doesn't love me anymore, so it sits on it charger looking forlorn whilst I leave it at home. I think I need an upgrade, but budgets do not permit.
Road signs being "girl friendly"... Hmm interesting. We talking about making them pink and furry? (Just Kidding).
Serena and getting lost used to be a regular occurrence when we moved to London (poor dear). For her birthday a few years back I was planning to buy her TomTom GPS System and whilst it was on back order she got horrendously lost and returned home in floods of tears. She demanded that this would not happen again and she didn't care how much it cost, she was buying SatNav. I was harsh and told her she couldn't buy it and proceeded to get a serious earful. In the end I brought my proposed surprise to an end and told her I had already bought one for her and was just waiting for it to be delivered. Again that triggered floods of tears (fortunately the good kind).
For those of you wanting to know more about James' Beau (or should that be Belle?) then I have added a permanent link to her Blog on the right.
I was checking my webmail, which has more stored on it than usual, as I haven't reinstalled Outlook yet following my disk death of last week. It uses Squirrel Mail which displays 15 mails per page and I am well onto 3 pages needing downloading.
I processed the new stuff, being my own spam filter - i.e. deleting all the Nationwide emails telling me to update my account details and those offering me improved sexual performance (how do they kn0w?). Once I was done filtering and reading the message I wanted to keep, I noticed I still had "1 New Message". A bit odd, so I refreshed and nothing appeared.
OK, I jumped to page two... nothing. I jumped to page 3 and BAM. A new piece of spam dated 2002!
I guarantee it hasn't been sat their for 4 years, and I find it unlikely that even Blueyonder's mail servers are that slow.
So what are the implications for the "semi-savvy" user.
They download their mail and delete the ones they don't recognise (being "savvy"). Outlook Express etc still tells them they have one new message, but they can't see it. (Thier inbox contains hundreds of read messages sorted by date - they don't tidy into folders / archive). Confused they decide to let Outlet Express show them the new message by clicking the "Next New" button. BAM... the spam messgage is opened by Outlook Express from the very bottom of their Inbox, where they never thought to look. Now that opening triggers all sorts of nasty things.
I haven't seen this before but it can't be that new an idea can it?
This gets weirder:
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
I was just catching up on some celebrity gossip over a Decaf Cappucino when I read the following interview with Kirsten Dunst, discussing her break up from Jake Gyllenhaal.
How much is she going to regret being quite so candid?
Jake and I couldn't last. He's a stay-at-home boy and I'm an out-on-the-town girl. We tried to spice things up - we had sex in cars, in the bathroom and even by the sea. The only place we didn't have the guts to try was in a walkway in a hotel because we thought we might get kicked out if we were caught.
At least Alex may be in with a shot!
Monday, September 11, 2006
Friday, September 08, 2006
This fortnight's CCL compo is a piece of piss!
Please don't disappoint me...
This fortnight's puzzle prize is a fantastic Cyber Acoustics A303 iPod Docking Speaker System that sound great in the home or on the road! They are ultra stylish and will impress and amaze your friends with pure audio quality! To win them all you have to do is solve our puzzle…
You’re driving a bus. At the first stop 9 people get on. At the second stop, 2 people get off and 12 get on. At the third stop, 6 get off and 8 people get on. At the fourth stop, 4 people get on (I think this is a typo and should read off) and 3 people get on. At the fifth top, 12 people get off and none get on. How many people are left on the bus?
As usual, answers on an email to email@example.com. Best of luck everyone!
PS No one I knew won the hat compo, but B was the correct answer!
Our main PC has been a bit flakey recently and crashed a few times whilst gaming and did the odd "funny boot".
To resolve the issue I decided to reinstall Norton System Works, which was always pretty good at tidying up after crashes.
Midway through the install the System Died and it isn't wanting to wake up.
I need to recover the Shared Docs folder, but beyond that the C drive can be wiped and started again....
Basically this is a bummer.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Just reading a couple of news sites made it perfectly clear that Sony was way behind in building the PS3 and wouldn't have enough (more than 5 million units needed) for a glocal release. Even more scary is that they may only manage 1 million units for November, which would mean the US would only get 500,000 or so (demand there was predicted to be 10 times that number).
However, does the delay mean that HD-DVD will get a head start over Blu-ray?
I had been predicting that Blu-ray would win the format war, solely on the back of the PS3.
Most consumers are smart enough to wait for the format war to settle down before buying new kit and I reckoned the Christmas rush for the PS3 and its built in Blu-ray player would result in a big enough market share to kill HD-DVD pretty quickly.
Even more weird is the concept that Blu-ray will win in Japan and the US, but Europe and Oz will pick HD-DVD. Not a problem for film distributors, as their content is localised anyway, but hardware manufacturers won't like it. In the end I expect that Blu-ray would be forced upon us by the Japan/US technology market.
Anyway, Sony has fumbled the ball and it remains to see if this could be their undoing.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Friday, September 01, 2006
The prize for this puzzle is a 1GB MP3-DJ Vivid. A stylish number from the guys at Genius. It integrates a MP3 digital audio decoder, FM tuner, flash memory, built-in microphone, and OLED display all in one. This really is a cracking prize for one lucky winner. Check it out here!
The competition is as follows:
You email your answers to: firstname.lastname@example.org
I have submitted my "correct" answer! :P
Thursday, August 31, 2006
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Blu-ray or HD-DVD?
OK, neither technology is really up and running yet here in the UK, but then again I am not ready to buy.
Come next spring I will be ready to buy and both formats should be up and shouting.
I don't remember the Betamax v VHS war as my parent's aren't early adopters where technology is concerned (they only just got a PC - one of our hand me downs), and the DVDR format war never really surfaced as dual-format players / recorders came out within months.
We bought an HD-TV back in February, as we needed a new telly, so future proofing seemed sensible. Having sold our Hi-Fi / Surround Sound system (too bulky), we are back to watching DVDs via a Scart lead with dodgy stereo sound. I reckon that the reduced quality and a lack of contiguous time (Lauren) has killed our passion for watching films.
My spring purchases were going to be along the following lines...
- HD Disk player.
- HDMI Switching Amp + 5.1 / 7.1 Speaker setup.
- SFF PC (to act as Media Centre).
Early reports on the Warner Bros HD releases (WB is the only studio atm who is releasing on both formats) is clearly pointing to HD-DVD being the better format.
I am not convinced that HD-DVD will win in the long run though. I think Sony will steal the market with the PS3 / Blu-ray combo.
PS3 will be the must have Christmas present this year, and I can see parents justifying the spend as the console will also act as a HD compatible film player.
Obviously Dual-format players will emerge eventually, but can I wait?
Actually do I care? Now that I have typed most of this article I am starting to think again.
Getting the Amp and the Media Centre PC is a sound investment. It will be cheaper to upgrade the PC with an HD player and I can by-pass the need for HDMI switching in the Amp, as I can hook the PC up via DVI and Optical (which is good enough for HD). That will leave the HDMI on the TV free for the Sky+ HD box (when they drop in price).
Serena and I also talked about adding a Wireless Network File server (which we can hide in a cupboard). It can be ugly and hidden and we can stick big Raid HDDs in it to free up space on the Media Centre / Laptops. Streaming of Video over a 54g Wireless LAN works perfectly well (I have proven that already between my desktop and laptop PCs). I reckon that building the file server will be a piece of piss, as all I need to do it recycle our current desktop machine "as is", but stick bigger hard disks in it. Once the system is built I can use windows networking tools to remotely administer it from a laptop, so we can get away without it needing a keyboard / mouse / monitor most of the time.
Anyway, I seem to be rambling again! But then this is my blog!
NB I don't see us buying a PS3 (before someone suggests it).