Sunday, December 27, 2009

No good deed

Just got back from seeing Andy and Emily. Had a bit of an eventful journey, I offered to drop Andy's sister off as Boxing day buses arn't the best. Unfortunately her road turned out to be rather so icy that when I tried to turn round I ended up stuck on the ice. Fortunately as the temperature is above zero I was able to melt it with several kettles of hot water.

I was an interesting evening, we ate cheese and pigs in blankets while setting up the Play station 3 which Andy and Emily got themselves for Christmas. After setting it up, downloading a massive update for the Playstation and installing Batman Arkham Asylum. its a really good game though seemed a lot of prelude before the actual game began.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Playing catch in the snow


Playing catch in the snow
Originally uploaded by j0hncooke

Storm enjoying catch on a snowy Woodford community centre

Oh Sailor

Christmas day, the first I have had in the UK for two years, the last two I celebrated on the slopes of France. Today it was my parents, and grandmother for a full turkey dinner with all the trimmings; roast potatoes, parsnips, gravy cranberry sauce, peas swede, carrots, stuffing, and sausage wrapped in bacon. It was incredibly tasty, especially my dads home-made chestnut and bacon stuffing, mmm.

After lunch I took Storm out for a walk, its so nice seeing him. It has been just under a year since he came to live with my parents. Strange how things change, my parents would never have gone out and got a dog, never mind one so large as Storm. Growing up we had cats, but after the last one died they didn' make any moves to get another pet. Yet thanks to a mix of circumstance Storm came to live with us and he is great. I have really enjoyed spending time with him, going on walks. I have missed him greatly since moving out. I would in some ways have like to bring him with me here, but given I have to work during the day I don't think it would have been fair on him.

This evening I have nothing to do really I am just chilling out and chatting to Kath online.
I went out to celebrate Christmas Eve in Bramhall with Nick, Ian Bruce and Sambo. We started in the New Victoria pub. They have basically given the Orange Tree a facelift and re-nanmed it as a pub, I quite enjoyed it we had a good chat and a laugh trying to make Nick feel ill recounting stories of peoples injuries. Sambo kicked it off telling us that he had helped a girl home after she feel over on the ice (the high-heels and intoxication level didn't help) landing on her face.
We had tickets to Beluga, stopping for a swift drink at Nappa on route. Beluga was dead though they didn't even bother to check the tickets. Sambo rather jokingly asked for a refund and in the spirit of Christmas the bar manager gave us all a refund :) It was so quite there were almost more staff than customers, and around 12 the doorman announced that they were closing early.
Bruce gave us a lift home and I finished the evening watching the Matrix Revolution and drinking G & T. Near the end of the film I started hearing weird noises outside, banging and scraping. My neighbours across the road were clearing ice off the drive to try and get their car on it. They tried for about 15 - 20 minutes before giving up and parking on the road (where there was plenty of space!) who knows why they felt the need to take sure measures when in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Folding Chair

It was nice to have a day off totally work free. I was planning to sleep in late but was woken by an excited Kath. The flowers I sent her for Christmas had arrived at 7, it was a little surprise for her and she was very happy which was great. As I was up I decded to do some cleaning in the kitchen then going out to Wilmslow to have a browse around. In the afternoon I went round to my parents house and took Storm out for a walk, I miss him was nice to have a game of catch on the snowy ground.
I made a spicy Bolognese style sauce which was the first thing I have made with my dad actually agreed tasted good, I guess I must be getting a bit better at this cooking lark.
I am going out tonight with Nick, Ian and Bruce. We have decided to try the new Pub in Bramhall, should be a fun evening.

Happy Christmas Everyone!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Avatar

I went to see Avatar tonight with Bruce. It is a visually stunning film, the first I have seen in 3D. It really wowed me, the alien landscape of the planet Pandora, the forests were incredible eery and simply stunning. Certainly Avatar brings CGI to a totally new level, in a way George Lucas tried [and failed] with the Star Wars prequels.

Unfortunately I found the plot somewhat formulaic, basically it seemed to me to be the last Samurai set in an alien landscape with added themes of love and the typical Hollywood ending. Why is it no matter what the weapons, or creatures every battle has to end mano-a-mano? As soon as I saw the Colonel I knew it had to end up in a showdown between them.

The movie opens at the funeral of the brother of the main protagonist who is recruited by a company to go in his brothers place. His brother was an Avatar pilot, basically he controls an alien creature in an effort to learn more about them. The aliens the Na'vi are humanoid, Aboriginals who have a symbiotic relationship with the forest they live in. Unfortunately the company has detected an ore steam underneath the Na'vi's home and well how are a bunch of blue aliens to stand in the ay of progress. The protagonist Jake is sent in Avatar form and manages to bond with the daughter of the clan leader before long though he starts to question his humanity and becomes more and more bonded with the Na'vi eventually united all the tribes and leading a revolt against the humans.

Overall I have seen these themes from Avatar so many times, and while the film is enjoyable and dazzles the sense it could have done so much more. That said James Cameron is certainly a slick and accomplished director its well directed if a bit long and it simply has to be watched for the amazing visuals and it has all the turn mind of feel good moments you could ever want from a Hollywood blockbuster.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Enjoy the silence

The one big problem I have post move in is a severe lack of money. Over a year of working being paid a four day week yet while renovating a house have decimated my savings and eaten into all my accounts so now I am pretty much broke. On paper I have more than I started out with (including of course a lovely home) unfortunately I have hit a cashflow crisis.

I have been job hunting for the last few months and yesterday was offered two jobs yesterday unfortunately neither of them are really suitable. The first sound like an amazing job only slight problem after 6 months the job was moving to Telford. Not really commutable and not a place I have a desire to move to. The second job would be a bit of a gamble, and no extra money in the short term so little point in moving and losing my job security.

It had been a bit of an emotional day, my parents invited me round to eat with them, and test out their new oven. We had a nice dinner together, and I gave storm some attention, I really miss him.

I came back to my place, alone chatted to Kath online she helped cheer me up a bit pointing out all the good things I have achieved this year. Working on the house, changing things in my life, moving out.

Kath also gave me an itinerary for my Polish excursion.
Arrive around 9pm on 29th spend the evening watching a film and having a rest
30th A short tour around the city and in the evening we'll go out somewhere
31st New year's eve in company of my friends in [her friend] Carolines hometown
1st Get back and chill out
2nd Head for Gdansk so we could spend a day and a half in there hopefully

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Killing in the name of

I have ben really busy of late, I've had so many things to write about but somehow have been to busy / tired / lazy to blog. Hopefully I can get back into the habit.

My parents came for a meal tonight. I prepared a chicken curry with vegetables. I thought that it would be really nice, and it was mostly unfortunately I was a bit rushed and cooked got it  bit wrong though the potatoes were a little overcooked.

Its pretty strange living alone after all these years there are great things the freedom is awesome. The last couple of weeks I had Kath staying with me. We had a wonderful time together, I was very sad to say goodbye to her to the Airport yesterday. Fortunately it wont be long until we see each other again as I am heading to Poland for the New Year.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Graduate premium

According to the BBC an average graduate will earn only £100,000 more than non graduates over their working lives. Given the cost of going to University leaves the average student £20,000 in debt it does beg the question are degrees really worth it?
For one reason or another I was a bit of an underachiever at University and my degree failed to open the doors I expected and I am still repaying the debt. Looking at how well some of my friends have got on without going to university I do wonder whether I would have done better to have gone directly into the workplace.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I am really grateful for all the lovely birthday messages, really nice to hear from people.

I had a great day mostly spent at my house frantically trying to get everything ready for the carpet fitters (due today). I managed to get spotlights installed on the Landing. Bought some replacement UPVC from the excellent (and Cheap) Scott Plas and cleared some of the crap out of the garage. So a pretty successful day all in all.

In the evening I went out for a meal and a few drinks with Phil, Caroline and Bruce. We went to the Kantipur in Stockport where I enjoyed the spicy ginger and a few pints of cobra. Then off into Cheadle for a nightcap.

I had a bit of a hangover this morning which was a pain as I had to head to the house at 6.30am in order to get a coat of paint on the spare room before work (and the carpet fitter).

Monday, November 23, 2009

Howl

It has been a while since I last written. I now have a huge amount of half written blogs I am not sure if they will ever be finished. The last few months have been a blur however the end of the house project is in sight, barring acts of god next weekend I will move in.

First off I wanted to thank a few people who have really helped me a lot in various ways without which the whole job would have taken a lot longer.

First and foremost my Dad. He has worked tirelessly and done an amazing job decorating and helping me with my house. I couldn't have done anywhere near as good a job without him; even though we have driven each other crazy at times.

Secondly Bruce, who has been a huge help with my wiring, and other jobs.

Nick has been a constant help. He helped me find the place originally, helped me deal with the estate agents, did a marvellous job on the floors and kitchen and other building jobs. He has done loads of work well above and beyond what he charged me for and has been great.

Danny came and helped me today doing a sterling effort laying the tiles in my bathroom, its really a top notch job which I am extremely pleased with.

In recent weeks Kath has been a constant support for me when I have been feeling down and worried about the way the project has been going she has helped me to put things into perspective and basically helped me get through it.

Finally a host of others came and helped out, including Jo, Holly, Andy Gilmore, Phil, and Martina. I really appreciate everyone's efforts I hope I can repay the favours someday..

The last few days have been typically hectic. Starting on Thursday I took a couple of days off as I needed to prepare and I knew Nick and Danny would be arriving Sunday. Before they came I needed to finish a number of jobs.

I had decided I was unhappy with the lighting in the hall and landing so I decided to replace them with halogen spotlights. In one of the DIY paradoxes it seems Haolgen spotlights require a 65mm hole, but the only holesaws available are 64mm. Sometimes 1mm doesn't make too big a difference, when cutting a hole for spots it does! So in practise I cut a nice neat 64mm hole then enlarge with a file.

I also realised I had made a slight mistake with the shaver socket in the bathroom, I had to rewire it on a spur fused at 3amps. It required more floorboards up, and some undoing of the plastering.

Friday I took a break from decorating to go get a new TV for my grandma. She hasnt found the digital switchover very easily the idea of have a digi box and a tv is a bit beyond her. Plus failing eyesight and little buttons on the digibox remote have led to constant trouble. So I took her to comet having found that they had a Panasonic on offer. Panasonic remote controls have nice big chunky buttons ideal for her. So she now has a 42inch LCD tv with built in Digibox. My dad and I lugged it back to her house.

Saturday we had booked in a LAN party so I spent Friday night getting servers ready with Bruce. We have turned an old PC into a fileserver using Freenas. It took all night to copy all the data off the old fileshare onto the new server but it meant in future the games would not be compromised by people moving data around.

Before the Lan I needed to do a few jobs at my house including getting the sensor for the hall lights working. I decided to switch them on via a movement sensor. Unfortunately the instructions were impossible for me to follow, Bruce however put his engineering training to good use and managed to get it wired in.

The LAN went really well, there were less people than last time and that meant I actually got to play a few games this time! Jo had a sale of a load of surplus PC equipment from Dawsons. I think it turned out well for everyone he got rid of the gear and we got some good bargains.

Today was a crazy day, I had Danny tiling the bathroom floor. Nick putting in new skirting board in the spare bedroom. While I tried to get a few bits and pieces done. Later Bruce arrived and we got the Ariel lead sorted out, he even somehow managed to poke some cables under the floor to neaten it up. I don'lt know how he managed it but I was very impressed!

So I am nearly ready, one room to decorate, some spotlights to put in on the landing. Carpets coming on Thursday, Blinds on Friday and move in / Party on Saturday, another hectic week ahead.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Funny how music can invoke strong memories. I was just taking a break and listening to music on Spotify. I saw the Depeche Mode singles collection 86-89.

Immediately I was transported back to my youth, going to the dodgy disco as the community centre with my neighbours and cousin, so long ago now. I had not thought about these moments for many years, I am not even in contact with my neighbours Jenny and Matt or my cousin anymore. People can have such a strong impact on us, and yet its all transitory, they come and go so better enjoy their presence in the now. I look back and somehow I don't feel that was the same person. I guess my impending birthday is making me reminisce about the past.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

This is it

I went to see the Michael Jackson film This is it with Ian, Nick Faye Charlotte and Faye's sister Leah. I caught up with them at the Cinema bar at Parrs Wood. As I saw them all sitting together I really missed Kath would have been nice to have her there.

The film started a little bit too cheesy for me. With the dancers introductions and I thought I was in for a typically rose tinted history. Fortunately the rest of the film was nothing like that at all. Rather we were treated to footage of the warm ups for all the songs, run thorough of art direction and Jackson and the various performers onstage.

To be fair later in the film you realise how closely and how hard these people worked with Jackson, the admiration felt real.

Mostly Jackson was walking through the actions and resting his voice but occasionally like on "Billy Jean" and "I Just Can't Stop Loving You"
The setups for the show look simply amazing he stage props and video productions were lavish. The video for Smooth Criminal looked awesome Jackson the smooth criminal being chased by Humphrey Bogart.
The update Thriller in 3D had some awesome effects, it would have been really something viewed in 3D.

Jackson came across as being obsessed in producing an incredible show, despite his age and any physical ailments he was able to dance and sing.
As I was walking out of the cinema I got this overriding feeling, a sense of missing out on something. A sense of loss which had such potential to be a great show, a sceptical was snatched away.

Afterwards Nick and Charlotte went for some food, Ian Faye and Leah had to wait for a lift (in hindsight I should have offered them one oops) so we went for a quick drink and a chat in Frankie and Bennies. I was telling them the fun I had trying to explain to Faye's dad how to get his cable connection working, on the phone without being able to see the screen :D

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Metropolis

"There can be no understanding between the hands and the brain unless the heart acts as mediator"

I just watched Metropolis for the first time. I must say I found it awesome, released in 1927 as a silent film it is a product of a different era. However the effect have a certain charm, and the cinematography and use of the art deco is really wonderful.

The film concentrates on a deeply divided society living in the fictional Metrolpolis. While the workers toiling in 10 hour shirt, in the depths of the city, labouring to control the machines, above ground the thinkers / planners enjoy the lap of luxury. Until the intervention of Maria brings some of the children from down below to the paradise gardens at the top. The son of the leader Freder of the city is disturbed and ventures to see the heart of the city. Thus begins a chain of events where he ends up seeing Maria deliver a revolutionary speech about the tower of babel and how a Mediator will come to bring the 'head' and the 'hands', "THE MEDIATOR BETWEEN THE HEAD AND HANDS MUST BE THE HEART!"

I couldn't help but think of the modern day parallels, I was thinking of 1984, Blade Runner, and the Radiohead song Palo Alto, only more dystopian.

I sat watching the film with some honey toast and a hot tody in an attempt to try and drive away my cough before Martin and Charollottes wedding on Saturday.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Windows 7

My copy of Windows 7 arrived this morning, I managed to get an advances copy for £40 which I think is pretty good value for a full Licence.

Friday, October 09, 2009

At The Zoo

Kath arrived yesterday [Thursday]. We were pretty tired so we just rented a film (Red Cliff) and relaxed.
Friday we wanted to do something we ended up going to go to Chester Zoo. I haven't been since I was a really young kid so it was a bit of an adventure. I somehow got collared into paying an extra "donation" on the way in. Once inside we saw the elephant pen, then toured round the whole Zoo. Favorites included the Bat house, a dark dank place full of bats. I also loved the bears, especially the firefox and the Aquarium were all great.

There are some photos on my flikr feed here

Elephant

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Gomorrah

I had a really trying day today, one that I cant really talk about to the internet. By the time I got home this evening I was really tried and stressed I went for a walk with storm and got extremely wet. I decided the best way to relax was with a film and a few beers. Ironically the cheapest was Becks the people who annoyed me by getting spotify to push a playlist on me. However it was the cheapest premium lager in Tesco Cheadle so hey ho.
I rented a film called Gomorrah about the Italian mob. Its a bit a of a strange film following several disconnected stories, its well acted and scary portrayal of the mob linking into every aspect of society. Its quiet a shocking film in a documentary style, some stunning backdrops and clever cinematography, but from the opening you certainly get the feeling life is cheap.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Spotify Pushes Ad Sponsored Playlist

I opened spotify this morning to find I had a new playlist,  to Ladyhawke - music inspired art. Now I understand spotify is ad supported but and while I have nothign against the ads between the songs I do find this rather annoying. I do create my own playlists, I don't really appriciate having some ad sponsored list forced upon me.

Adaptive Predictive Dialler

For anyone who has spent time trying to get their stored procedure working with an Adaptive Predictive dialler and seen the error "IDispatch error #3105 80040e21 ODBC driver does not support the requested protocol", check the execute permissions on the stored procedure. By default database users on SQL 2005 do not have execute permissions.


Execute permissions are added either using GRANT or via the management console, drill into the database, expand programability, then expand stored procedures, right click your procedure select properties. Choose permissions, add type the name of hte database user then check the grant column for permission execute.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Magnet

Full disclosure this is the third time I have tried to write this it appears the new blogger editor doesn't like me very much. I feel a bit like Ellen Feiss

Saturday was Martin's stag do. It kicked off with a BBQ at Martins house. Endo brought the food Simon did the cooking. There were burgers, sausages, chicken and some wonderful pork chops which Endo had marinated, a total meat feast not a spot of salad in sight :)

Martin showed off his home improvements, the house has changed a lot since I last saw it, there is plaster on the walls and the garage is pretty funky, complete with painted red floor a buggy lift!

We stood and chatted, there was Charlottes brother Loz, Simon, Endo, Steve Mellor, Adam, Jim, Phil, Martin O, Bruce, Myself and of course Martin in attendance.

After the barbeque Simon and Endo had arranged go karting. We went to a go karting track up in Buxton, on the same industrial estate as the Health and Safety Institute. It was running 45 minutes late, so we loitered played with the dogs. We had been booked in for two sessions, but as there were so many of us we ad to split into two groups. Each session lasted something like 20 laps although we got more like 25 which for £20 was an absolute bargain.

Bruce, Phil, Steve Mellor Martin O and myself were in the second group. Young Martin took everything really seriously bringing his own protective gear. He was the fastest on the track during both sessions. During the first session I was fighting hard to get past Bruce, when I spun slightly only to have Phil drive straight into the side of my kart actually writing it off!

After each session we were handed a slip of paper which recorded the cars time, number of lap's fastest lap and various other details which you could argue over. I had to change cars so needless to say I finished last in the first session. Unsurprisingly petrol head Adam was the fastest in the first session. Thanks to the delay and having a job in London Phil's brother Jim had to leave straight after his first session. During the second session I managed to be a lot faster though unable to keep up with Martin O I managed to come second.

After the go karting the plan was to go back get changed and go out for a curry in Poynton. Unfortunately Martin realised at this point that his wallet and keys were in Jim's car. Fortunately Jim had driven home and taken a train to London so we were able to stop by his house and get his girlfriend Jules to let us retrieve his possessions. Thanks to the delays at the track then having to get Martins wallet, not to mention the road closure everything was running a bit late. Fortunately a phone call to the restaurant confirmed it was fine to be an hour late.

The meal was at the Deeba, Phil Bruce and I arrived first and the manager ushered us to a rather large table upstairs, totally alone. In fact needed have worried as the Deeba wasn't busy at all. The curry was pretty tasty, we joked and drank Simon tormented Loz. Thanks to Martin's discount card it was pretty cheap too coming in at £16 + tip each.

After the meal we decamped to the Farmers Arms, Martin had booked part of the pub and as we arrived, despite the fact we were running late, part of the pub was indeed sectioned off for a party. So we waltzed upstairs found a table and started drinking. After a few minutes a rather drunk young lad started mouthing off about how it was his party. We later found out that he had also booked this part of the pub for his going away party. He is a solider about to fly out to Afghanistan. He actually calmed down later and we were chatting, I think he thought we were a bunch of soft lads. He was especially disgusted that Martin was having his stag part a month in advance of his wedding.

The rest of the evening vanished in a haze of alcohol I remember ogling some of the girls at the soldiers' party and drinking a lot. I think I also knocked over Bruce's Vodka, oops. He didn't rush off to buy another though!
Adam and Endo were trying to convince everyone to decamp to Manchester to go and join in the Fresher's week party, but I think Martin wanted to stay close to home.

We ended up walking back to Martins, during which I remember a drunken Loz jumping on me causing me to lose the button holding my trousers together; I really need to get on a diet!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Undisclosed Desires

I had the Friday as day off to do some work on the house; as it is Martins stag do tomorrow the weekend might be something of a write off.

I spent the morning trying to remove the old paint from the stair rail, its particularly difficult because the surface area is small and there are several layers of paint to remove. The base coat is this horrilbe green stuff which melts and smears when burned even the chemical remover doesn't take it off easily.

On the plus side I have managed to choose some wallpaper for the hall stairs and landing. I am planning a feature wall on the longest drop (on the stairs) witht he rest white anagylpta. This will help cover the terrible state of the walls and as there is very little natural light the reflect the light better.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Starálfur

I just returned my digi box because I got tired pressing yellow to get rid of the message asking me to retune. Thanks to the digital switchover. The switchover in the Granada take place in two stages. The first on 04th November 2009 at which point BBC2 goes all digital, the second full switchover takes place on 2nd December 2009, at which point you will need to have a set top box, digital tv, sky digital or NTL connection to receive a television service in the Granada region. So plenty of time before I need to retune the box but unfortunately the BBC seem to have added an irritating popup reminded requiring me to press the yellow button to make it disappear. I rather reminded me of the most hated Microsoft update which prompted every 15 minute until you relented and restarted the computer.

The switchover means more channel space being freed up, indeed there are a new bunch of channels already, including a Russian News channel Russia Today. I looked them up on wikipeadia basically it is funded by the Russia State media company, I guess their attempt at the BBC world service.

While I was googling Russia Today I found that the Japanese state broadcaster NHK has an English language channel, and website complete with some free Japanese tutorials awesome!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ironic

Like something from Final Destination after escaping from a lift a devout Catholic man is crushed to death by a church alter.

White Bathroom :)

 
Posted by Picasa
Much as I enjoyed the nicotine stained yellow on the ceiling and grey purple colours, I think white looks a lot better :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

End of an era

I just read that Woodford Aerospace will be closing down in 2012. I have found memories of the Woodford Air-show as a child, I remember getting so excited watching all the plains, I remember one year there were two soviet pilots in the village shop buying chocolate, they were flying the rather awesome Beriev Mermaid. The last air-show took place in 2000, repeated years of bad weather and the increasing cost of using the site, such a shame.

My Great uncle worked for Avro / BA for years, if he were alive I am sure he would be much saddened by the news.

BAe have spent the last few years busily relocating to the United States in order to get more of the US defence spending, I guess it was inevitable that Woodford days were numbered.

"free" is not always the primary selling point

IT World have an interesting discussion about why users choose paid for propritary software over free. I must say I agree with the points about features and polish being major turn off especially for people who just want to get things done not spend hours tnkering with configuration options. Not sure I agree about the Gimp though, for the last few years its seems more and more of a credible alternative to the ruinously expensive photoshop.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Airbag

According to this article in the Telegraph computer engineers are the most likely to make an insurance claim following a car crash, yikes!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Vertigo

Phil and I were given some tickets for Alton towers, a friend had got free tickets courtesy of the Sun newspaper. He wasn't able to go and let us have the tickets instead.

I woke up with a terrible hangover having gone out for drinks last night with Ian Faye and Nick. I had to delay leaving for Alton Towers until I was able to make myself more human.

Even after breakfast and a long long shower I was still feeling pretty awful, but I decided not to pass up the trip. It has been over 10 years since I last went to Alton Towers, so I have ridden on Nemesis but not Oblivion.

Oblivion


This was the first ride of the day, as we saw on the monitors that the wait time was zero Minutes. Oblivion is a vertical drop roller coaster, you go up then stop for a few heart stopping moments before plunging 60 meters straight down into a black pit. It was quite an adrenaline booster, and woke me up from my hangover. Its over pretty quickly but you do get a couple of seconds where there is a feeling of weightlessness, oh and top tip keep you head back.

Rita Queen of Speed


We queued for 30 minutes to get on Rita, and looking at the coaster I didn't imagine it was going to be anything special, I was very wrong! The initial acceleration was quite simply phenomenal. There is about 4.7g of force during the acceleration is simple breathtaking, I was actually tingling when I got off the ride.

At this point Phil and I went for lunch opting to eat at the Rita bar and grill; the restaurants have certainly improved from the drab hot dog vendors I remember to proper bar & restaurants, even branded outlets like KFC and Berger King. Phil had a ribs and chicken combo while I had a cheese and bacon burger. My burger was tasty but Phil really made the right choice he let me try some of the spicy chicken which was really delicious.

We came back for another go on Rita before leaving the park, it was my favourite of the ride, the feeling of speed is just amazing.

Air


This is an interesting ride in which you are effectively laid forward and fly over the ground. While not as fast as Rita or even Nemesis you are only a couple of meters off the ground which. The flight is so close and fast to the ground that the feeling of danger and speed is more intense than the actual physical sensation of the g force. The rider is treated to views of the open sky followed by a flipping down to earth seemingly careering into a wall only to fly over it, very well done.

Nemesis


I had bad memories of Nemesis from my last visit to Alton Towers. I had queued for about 2.5 hours on a hot day and the ride was over in seconds. Going on it again I realised that my feelings were clouded by the wait, this time it was less then 30 minutes, and its a great ride, the loop low over the water is very impressive. Though I did find one bit of the ride batted my head between the harness a bit.

To finish we had a go on the spinball wizzard a smaller coaster but an d interesting one in which 4 people sit in opposing quarters of a car. The car can spin round as you go round the rollercoaster creating some pretty strange sensations as you whizz around the track not really knowing which way you will turn. As there was still no wait time we walked back onto Oblivion for one last thrill before leaving the park.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Farmville

Seems like Zynga are taking over Facebook at the moment, my feed seems to be full of people wanting me to join the Mafia or to start a farm. According to the Zynga blog FarmVille surpassed 11 million daily active users. That is some pretty amazing usage statistics. I had dismissed these games as a fad but it seems some people take it really seriously, check out Pablo Paniagua' in depth analysis of the investment returns of different trees.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Until It Breaks

Today I had several helpers at my house. As usual my dad came to help me, and I started in the mornign painting the bathroom. Now the yellow nicotine stain is covered it started to look better already.

Next Bruce arrived with his cable tester and wand (basically as device you can attach to one end of a cable then use the wand to find the other end). We traced out the first six sockets, discovering in the process we managed to get the backs on upside down!

In the afternoon Andy Gilmore arrived to help do some painting. Originally he had planned to arrive about lunchtime but a night on the tiles had left him a little worse for wear. I gave him the grand tour then set him to work putting another coat on the bathroom. I started glossing some bits in the hallway, including the doors to the garage and kitchen.

Bruce suggested that we went to see Inglorious Bastards and as Andy was up for that too we went back to my parents house to get changed and have some food before Bruce picked us up. I was slightly worried about Storm, whether he would like Andy, fortunately after having a sniff he decided that he was OK. We even took him for a short walk.

My parents made a pasta dinner, with asparigus spears and cougettes. It was pretty tasty and I was hungry after the days decorating.

Inglorious Bastards played out like an old school spaghetti western, indeed the first Chapter is called once upon a time in Nazi occupied France. It marks a real return to form. It still the over the top violence and reference but somehow here it works better, I thought only the Mike Myers scene was really overplayed. Brad pit plays the over the top American with aplomb. There are a load of wonderful quotable lines and film references, ending the film with the understated line "this is my greatest masterpiece".

Dance Little Liar

The last week has been fantastically busy, I feel washed out and very glad its weekend. Tonight I went round to Phil's to drink beer and watch TV on his incredible TV room. There wasnt much on Sky so we ended up watching Last Samurai, which I think was Tom Cruises last decent film. It is loosely based on the events of the Satsuma Rebellion. The film much like Braveheart pit the Brave and noble Samuri against the Government forces, who are evil and corrupted by forign influences. This totally ignores the real history in which the Samurai were fighting to retain the feudal system which benefited them. Initially brought about by the arrival of the Americans, who humiliatingly defeated the Japanese; who due to an extended period of isolation failed to have modern weaponry. A rapid period of modernisation followed including the formation of a conscription based army (using the Franco - German model). After which the Samurai found themselves no longer in a privileged position. Yes there was government corruption but more than anything this was a class war which really proved the feudal system was a failure.

I walked home from Phil house, it was the most magical night, there was a brilliant nearly full moon so I took a short cut across the fields, bathed in moonlight. It was pretty nice except for the grass being wet.

Friday, September 04, 2009

419 goes YouTube

The classic Nigerian email scams gets all web 2.0. The Register has full covereage.
This is pure comedy genius

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Fabulous World of Jules Verne - Part 1 - Karel Zeman

Wired is running a series of best sci fi films (pre and post star wars) this one caught my eye, its a Czeck film looks pretty surreal

Proxy Auto configuration

I found a site which details away to have dhcp server out an address for a Proxy Automatic configuration.

It isnt a standard ICP Dhcp option but can be added with the following

#Create a new option
option local-pac-server code 252 = text;
#Pointer to the PAC file
option local-pac-server "http://www.example.com/wpad.dat";

Monday, August 31, 2009

Dance Little Liar

Friday I went out at lunch time to have a walk and some fresh air. Not good to sit in the basement all day. I cant help wondering what is going on with the world, Macclesfield seems to be full of mobile phone shops all the major networks plus at least one independent.

I bought the new Arctic Monkeys album from the little independent music store in Macclesfield, they are lucky to still have somewhere that sell music. I was in Altrincham a few weeks ago and the only place that sells music was Tesco, and they basically don't stock much beyond the charts.

I quite like Humbug, they have recorded something which sounds unmistakable Arctic Monkeys but also is a little different. I could hear the Queens of the Stone age influence in places. I think it is a grower album rather than an instant hit like Favourite Worst Nightmare.

On the way back to work the heavens opened, I was absolutely soaked by the time I got back to the office. I have to sit there dripping wet for the afternoon :( I did however finally manage to get the project I had been struggling with to completion before I left.

Friday night I went round to Phil we got some beers and rented a couple of films. New Town Killers in which a Glasgow youth has to survive one night whilst hunted by two sharp suited but brutal financiers. It was actually a pretty good film like a take on "the game". We also watched a trashy Steven Seagal film, "the plot" of which involved zombies / undead, Seagal came riding to the rescue, mindless but watch-able, after 6 or 7 beers.

Strangely enough Saturday night (after a log of painting) I also ended up at Phil's this time watching True Blue. Its a TV series from American, the premise of which is the Vampires have come out and live amongst people. This allows all sorts of racial and social issues to be explored. We watched the first two episodes and was really hooked.

Bruce was telling me today that a mutual friend of ours who used to be an open source evangelist now works for Microsoft! Which reminded me of a story about Microsoft destroying the culture of one of the games companies they bought. I wonder if the imminent take over of the company I work for will change the culture, I kind of hope so just not in the Microsoft way.

I spent the weekend painting my bathroom from nicotine stained magnolia to bright white, looks pretty nice if I do say so myself. I ended up just painting it white, which is a lot nicer than the nicotine stained magnolia colour on the walls or the weird purple grey colour round the window.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Humbug

Had a lan party on Saturday, only the second one this year the last one was held in January. I expected it to be busy, however I wasn't expected a pose of new players to arrive 45 minutes before the start time! We ended up having 22 players, which was pretty manic in Quake III. It was great as it enabled a several different games to be run with enough players. It was pretty hectic for us though, the pizza order was huge, 17 pizzas, 3 1/4 pounder burgers and 8 chips.

Phil got to show off his new 3D setup, and one of the new guys won CS 30 0.

Nick turned up later in the evening to collect some money off Martin, I think he was quite surprised how busy it was. Ian came in too and he was surprised to find me behind the bar, so surprised he took a photo!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

ID Cards fail

I have never been a fan of the ID card scheme. I think its an expensive and ineffective solution, that despite assurances wont solve the age of problems of fraud criminality and bureaucratic mistakes, indeed someones already managed to clone the cards in 12 minutes. The Register seems to agree so do the Banks, even retailers think twice.

Obviously if the cards themselves are prone to fraud, and ineffective methods of proving our identities the government and the IPS really has other ideas Really its not the card they are interested in but in producing mega databases of everone which can be used in all mannor of ways. I really think that this will mostly impact normal people criminals will simply used cloned cards and never have a real identity.

I certainly will not be registering or queuing up to get one once the scheme goes live in Manchester (which is one of the Trial areas).

Thursday, August 13, 2009

He's A Pirate

One of my friends works for a security company, I think he should be driving one of these!

Options include, flag holders and gun case with compartments for 2 machine guns, awesome stuff.

Monday, August 10, 2009

iPhony

Saw this in Wired magazine, as ever US centric but most of the reasons have meritc nonethless

Robots

People who work on production lines have for a number of years had their jobs replaced by robots. Now even if you work in a resurant watch out!

The Register has a story about a Japanese resturant where the Miso Raimen is prepared by two industrial robots.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

1983

I have just watched the third and final part of Channel 4 Red Riding trilogy. Its been a dark ride through corruption with artistic licence intermingling facts into the stories. It has been a weird series I have had to read up on the Wikipedia site to try and piece what was real and separate the truth from fiction.

I spent the day practising my carpentry skills fitting a new lock. It was required for my house insurance the all the locks complied to a standard. The garage door was an old two lever lock whereas everything should 5 a 5 lever mortice. The never lock was slightly bigger so I had to chisel out bits of door and door frame, in order to horseshoe in the lock and striking plate. I also did a few other bits wood varnishing my step and

It was a really nice day, I took storm for a really long walk to the Woodford Recreation ground, leisurely walking across and playing catch. I passed by both Ian and his Brother Jono as I was walking. Jono seemed a bit worked up, apparently he had some sort of argument with his neighbour. Ian looked tired he was busy unloading his van.

Next doors young son Mackenzie came round to see my mum and Storm. Storm worried me a bit he is normally very calm with him but tonight I got the feeling he was getting angry. I wish I knew more about how to control him.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

One year on

I just realised today is the 8th of August. One year since the start of the Beijing Olympics and coincidentally one year since I got the keys to my house. Given I still don&39;t live there this is somewhat of a sore point.
Today I went and burned some more paint off the bathroom door and surround. I also managed to finish painting the garage walls white. It looks pretty good and reflects the light a lot better now, so the garage is brighter and a nicer space.

I have found the balance between the perfectionism my dad suffers from and doing things half arsed.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Every Day Is Exactly the Same

"I belive I can see the future, Cause I repeat the same routine". Trent Reznor's lyrics pretty much entirly summing up my life at the moment. Work and decorating are pretty much my routine at the moment. Broken only by walking the dog and drinking a few bottles of peroni.

Fortunately there is some light on the horizon. My friend Kath is coming to visit me next weekend. I am taking a long weekend off no work just time for some R&R. I would like to go visit the Banksy exhibit at Bristol museam, but I am not sure if I can be bothered to drive down there yet.

Harry Patch (In Memory Of)

I wanted to write something about the death of Harry Patch. The Today program had an excellent obituary including his interview in 2005 where he basically recounted the real horror of war. Its really worth a listen. My grandfather fought in the first world war so hearing someone describe the conditions he would have experience is quite shocking. So shocking in fact that Patch himself never spoke about the experience until after his 100th birthday. I never met met Granddad but from what my dad has told me he never said much about the war, my great Aunt told me it changed him as a person, I am glad I don't have to fight.

Thom York was so moved by the interview that he wrote a song in memory. Its available on waste for only £1 with all profits going to the British Legion. The song itself is a haunting tune, the lyrics all taken from Patches own words arranged with some incredible string work. On its own it would be an interesting song, its just all the more poignant now.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Tyre swing

Friday night I had to do so work until late setting up email for a client.

After another weekend of working on the house, I managed to strip the door to the garage, and paint 3/4 of the garage walls. It looks a lot cleaner and brighter now, and the smell that used to permeate has now dissipated. All it took was getting rid of the old carpets, cleaning and stripping back all the paint.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hurricane drunk

I have found it hard to blog recently, I feel incredibly angry and empty. Some days I feel numb, like I am just going through the motions. Work has been difficult awful, some days I just want to scream, or walk through the office pumping round after round into colleagues and coworkers

I feel like recently my life has been categorised by a series of mistakes. Each somehow worse or compounding the last. Somehow aged 29 I have ended up at a stagnant. I feel trapped, going nowhere but every move I make to try and change things rebounds and drags me further into the void.

So far in the last few months I have managed to alienate people, get back into the same debt problems I worked so hard to get away from. I thought I would feel better to buy a house and move out. Unfortunately it seems to be an epic fail, nearly a year on and I still have so much to do to it just to make the place livable. On the bright side I have nearly finished decorating the bedroom leaving *only* the hall stairs and landing and bathroom to decorate; so maybe not too much longer. It does all look good too, while my dad drives me nearly to the point of insanity with his rigid attention to detail, it does provide good (if a little slow) results.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Wii Sport Resort

Having got up early to do an upgrade (I really love a 7am golive :S) I left work at slightly earlier at 5. Unfortunately there were more than a few spanners to my plan. On my way home from Macclesfield I try and avoid the traffic by taking a number of country a/b roads this evening as I go close to Mottram hall I had to take a 15 minute pause while a herd of cattle was corralled across the road.

Whilst in the queue I missed two phone calls, one from my boss to basically berate the lack of progress, which I felt was totally unfair given I had got up so early in order to get the project moving and it wasn't me who was holding things up.

I arrived home to find a parcel from Amazon. It was the copy of Wii Sports Resort (Wii) with Wii MotionPlus Accessory which I had ordered some time ago, about 6 months I think!

I took it round to Andy and Emilie's apartment to try out the new games. Some were great; I enjoyed Archery, Ping Pong and swordplay, even though Emily kicked my ass. Some of the games were a little weird, like the advertising feature that is Frisbee dog. The attention to detail in the games and the range and diversity of games is much greater than in Wii Sports. I like the island setting and the way you can fly round the island and see all the game locations. I didn't like some of the games but there are more than enough there to keep interest for a while. I also had a problem that I needed to recalibrate my Wii Motion Plus quite frequently.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The loneliness of a tower crane driver

Saw two weird and wonderful stories while on lunch break which I thought I would share.

Reuters has a story about a German man who Man tries to fix airbed,and end up blowing up his apartment.

The Register has a tail of why it is not a good idea to sniff petrol then goad police.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Paparazzi

I took some action regarding my lack over a computer and sent a letter to Aria threatening commencement of legal action. I had underestimated how letters have more power to get things moving than phonecalls and finally I have a new motherboard and can put my PC back together, hurrah!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Jo Berger held a barbecue today to celebrate his birthday early this week. I picked up Phil and we headed to Levenshulme. Despite the sun shining earlier in the day while I painted my garage, when I picked up Phil it was pouring down, really tropical monsoon weather. I actually parked as close to Phil's front door as I could to avoid it. So it was with some trepidation we set off to Jo's.

Fortunately for once nature was on our side, driving 20 minutes driving towards Manchester and we were in a totally different micro climate. No rain, not exactly azure blue sky, but certainly nicer weather.

I had some home-made beef burgers which I sprinkled a bit of chilli into, they proved to be a hit with Phil and Jo. Phil spent most of the day talking to an Australian friend of Jo's. They appeared to enjoy each others company.

I had chosen to drive so I watched everyone enjoy a few drinks while I chatted and ate lots of sausages (beef no pork at this house). Later on we were treated to a tour of the new allotment. Its much better than the old plot with lots of mature trees on it. I even ate some berrys off the tree, yummy.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

21 Guns

So far I have spent my week off working on the house, threatening legal action against Aria and worrying about money. My motherboard died and Aria are refusing to replace it, despite it being inside the warranty. I have written them increasingly strongly worded letters, so far to no avail. I would certainly recommend against using this company, their customer service is terrible.

I feel disconnected from people at the moment, I'm also sick and tired of peoples advice. There are two camps, people who tell me I should get as much done beofre moving in because hte mess / hassell is increased when Im living there, and thos that tell me I wont get it done until I move in. Seeing the amount of mess made each time I start a job, I have thus far sided with the former group.

Today I spent some time burning off paint, interspersed with doing some with some gardening to bring the plants under control.  After a while stripping the paint the fumes tend to get pretty strong, not to mention the heat. I am sporting two burns already, that will teach me for being careless. I also sealed part of the garage floor. Around where I intend to site the washing machine. I  found a can of floor paint in the garage, I am unsure where it came from, answers on a postcard.

I was feeling down a long time before Steve died, but now I feel empty, and pretty frustrated. Work has been negatively impacted by the financial crisis as well as losing Steve. That together with the stress of doing up the house means I am very hard to get on with.

Monday, June 22, 2009

eet

Today was the first day of my holidays. I got to look and smile at y work email full of dilemmas which would normally stress me out in the full knowledge that just for the moment its not MY problem :D

I spent the day working on my house, no surprises, found a really cheap place to buy bits of plastic, called scot plas in Stockport. I bought a 5 meter length (I only needed 2 meters but 5 was all they sold) to cover part of the window near my kitchen sink, it only cost £3!

I also bought a doorbell which proved a complete arse to fit, I spent most of the afternoon fitting it but eventually my dad and I got it done. We got home around 7 just time for me to walk the dog before dinner.

Phil had a van for a job tomorrow, so he called and offered to drop off a spare bit of carpet his parents didn't want. I also convinced him to help me move the bbq that has been sat outside the front of my parents house since next door but two moved away. After verything was transported we headed to the unicorn for a couple of pints. During which we tossed around the idea of holding another lan party next month.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Walcott

I have a week off work, bliss! To celebrate I got my hair cut then went to work on my house. I managed to talk Jo and Holly into coming over to help me out. In fairness I did help Jo move several tons of top soils when he moved into his house, ad I made a couple of appearances helping Together with my dada we were able to make load of progress stripping the walls.
By the time we left a significant portion of the halls stairs and landing had been cleared. I wish I could make such progress everytime.
I fell out with my dad because he decided to use the smallest brush known to man to paint, and despite the fact is a place no-one will see and its was already painted to redo a cupboard in the study. I appreciate the help but at the same tie i want to move in and not everwhere has to be done to such a high standard. This is afterall a mid terrace house not a palace.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Gah

Stupid stupid stupid computers! Already having been forced to use an old pc thanks to the early demise of my motherboard (which Aria refuse to honour the warranty on). Now the damn hard drive in my spare pc has gone pop so I have only my 6 year old Apple powerbook and my works laptop to use. Neither is good for games ;(

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tambourine man

Today was Steve's funeral. Quiet a few if us went to pay our respects. It was a Catholic service in Prestwich, it was a very traditional service. There were a lot of people there, his family had come from as far away as Australia to be part of the proceedings. It was amazing how much of a family resemblance there was. His son Peter is like a carbon copy of his father. Dawn, the girl who helped try and give Steve CPR came to the funeral with her husband, she seemed very upset by the proceedings.

Following the funeral we headed to the crematorium, Steve's nephew gave an excellent eulogy full of good messages from his family and colleagues. He had some excellent song choices, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan and The rolling Stones. His nephew delivered a great eulogy recounting Steve's sense of humour, spirit and personality.

After the cremation we went back to the family house after the cremation it was a bit awkward really, I don't think any of us knew any of the family apart from Martin. Actually I particularly felt shell shocked. Mercifully the others felt the same so we did not stay too long.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Fire

I got absolutely soaked walking storm this evening. I could hear thunder went I left the house but I thought that I might be quick enough to avoid it. At lunch time I had been for a walk into Macclesfield, it was really hot and sunny, strange a few hours later I was stood in the community centre freezing being pelted with hailstone. Its didn't seem to bother Storm though he enjoyed playing catch in spite of the bad weather.

I watched a film call career girls. It was really a film about not much, it charted the lives of two girls who met at college. In a series of flashback you saw the shared experiences that bound two very different people together. I quiet enjoyed it as a causal watch. Filmed in 1997 it made me feel somewhat nostalgic for my own youth long lost somewhere in the late 90s.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

eet

Bruce and I decided to forgo the sunshine and disappear into Urbis to see the Video Game Nation. Jon Hare the man behind Sensible software was giving a talk. The website said it started at 12 so we mooched down to Manchester arriving with 15 minutes to spare. In typical British fashion no-one at Urbis knew where to go, and do bear in mind that Urbis is fairly small. We were initially directed to the exhibition, only Jon Hares talk was in a different room and we were told that we had to go to the shop to buy a ticket. The girl in the shop had no idea what we were talking about and had to call on the radio to find out. She sold us the tickets but was unsure of the room to we headed to the cafe. Apparently we could have just gone there in the first place, they were even selling tickets on the door, however the talk was postponed until 2pm.
To kill time we walked around the exhibition. It was pretty interesting, it reminded me of retro games but with more explanation.
I especially like the Beneath the steel exhibit a wall full of scenes from the game. I hadnt realised how important the UK and Manchester were in the computer games arena especially in the 80s and 90s. Ocean software one of the biggest publishers lived on Deansgate, people did amazing things with the Spectrum, C64, Amiga, yet somehow the IBM PC revolution killed a lot of that home grown innovation.

Jon Hare gave a talk at 2pm, it was really interesting to hear about Sensible Software. Apparently of all the games they did Mega-lo-menia was his favorite achievement, it always brings back memories for me of Phils old house Squarefield, the Amiga and washing cars.

Jon Hare explained how they [Sensible Software] were a small team working on stuff they enjoyed in a fun atmosphere, I was so jealous! After his talk there was a sensible soccer, which actually saw him lose in the final. Ill hopefully be going again to VideoGame nation to see David Brabham creator of Elite and Frontier one of my all time favorite games.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Happiness is overrated

I'm sat at my desk enjoying a bottle of Peroni, listening to The Airborne Toxic Event, and ruminating on life. They [Airborne Toxic Event] have a couple of songs that completely encapsulate moments in my life. I have been the guy in Sometime around midnight, and felt like Happiness is overrated. While I am starting to feel normal again, I am still in a dark place. There was a while when I just felt numb, I could see his dead face every time I closed my eyes fortunately that is no longer the case.

Today I went to my house and did the usual Saturday DIY, its nice to get back into it. There still seems to be so much to do though.

Last night I went round to Bruce's. I had a terrible day at work, I am really not coping very well at the moment a lot of things are getting on top of me. Unfortunately I took this hope with me and ended up having an argument with my parents. By the time I arrived at Bruce's I felt sullen and withdrawn. Nina made dinner, spicy beef Fajitas and cheese covered nachos. It was a very tasty and I managed to relax a little. We watched the Tison documentary film, I had forgotten how awesome and ferocious a boxer he was before the rate conviction and the ear biting incidents.

While watching the film I played with their kittens and relaxed, it was nice just not to have any email answer for a few minutes. After Tison we started watching Britons hardest, it was real trash TV so I elected to head to bed.

This evening I went for a drink at the Unicorn with Bruce and Phil. The place was nearly empty. I cant imagine how they turn a profit with such slim pickings. The sign on the bar made me laugh, as well as a soup of the day they do a sausage of the day :D

Monday, June 08, 2009

Shoot the runner

I tried to pack a lot into the weekend, just to keep busy try not to dwell too much on last weeks events.

On Saturday night I went to Oasis with Phil Bruce and Nina. I had got Bruce and Phil tickets for their birthdays. In reality I wasn't really in the mood for a concert I still felt pretty numb. Nina elected to drive but as the area around Heaton
Park was closed we parked in the centre and caught the metro in.

They has a cup return policy at the bar. Each cup returned was worth 10p. Phil became the cup collection king. We got several free beers and a free pizza simply by dint of picking up cups, at one point he returned 70.

We eneded up quite far back Bruce and Nina dont realy like to get into the action and well I certinaly wasnt in the mood to be jostled by thousands of fans. The bands were all really good and mercifully the rain held off. I enjoyed singing along to the old Oasis it reminded me of happy days at school.

Andy and Emily were also at the gig and in a strange twist we met each other on the walk back to the town centre. I was spoking to Emily she had all these great stories about America and handing in her assignment while I was all drunken and dark about my week, oh dear.

Sunday night I went round to Bruces for a curry. We watched slumdog millionaire, I can see why it was so popular. Just the right mix of happyness sweet but not sacarine.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Wonder

Today was one of the most surreal of my life. After yesterdays events I was actually afraid to go into the office. They say you go through stages of grief this morning I hit denial, I saw Steve's car in the car park, took me a few minutes to process it was left overnight. My next stage was anger, a customer was hassling me and basically lost it. I should have put it off, I thought working would help.

Walking into the office was weird, the buttons from Steve shirt littered the floor. Tony arrived before me, everyone I spoke to was sad about it some of the guys have known Steve for 25 years. I found it hard to concentrate on anything really, work was more of a token gesture, I kept trying not to remember his face, terrible and swollen. The image haunts me I spoke to colleges about some of the good memories, I think its better to try and focus on that.

Dawn the women who helped us give him first aid looked terrible, we had a quick chat I tried to remind her that we did everything possible we could.

I got home, took the dog for a walk to the polling centre along with my neighbours son and my mum. We took turned to mind the dog while voting, cant believe how big the form was, 13 choices!

It was Bruce's birthday today, so he Nina and myself went out to catch the New Terminator film. It was pretty good much better than number 3 (it pretty much forgets that film existed). The only thing that let it down for me was the abysmal sugar coated scene near the end.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Unfortunately I received a phone call from my boss which confirmed Steve had in died. I'd like to pass my condolences to his wife and children, he will be sorely missed. As both a great programmer and a really nice guy, who worked hard but was also so good natured and easy going, Steve Rest in peace.

Terrible

At 4.40 a guy I work with, have worked with for several years collapsed in front of my eyes. It was so sudden, he made a noise dropped to the floor and started to turn blue. I called an ambulance while some people from the office attempted to put him into the recovery position but his breathing was erratic and his skin was swollen the wrong colour. The paramedics arrive within 5 minutes and they asked us to leave while they attempted to revive him.
I felt shocked, my hands were shacking, I made a phone call to head office to get details of his next of kin for the paramedics.
Twenty minutes later they cleared out, one of the team told us it looked bad essentially he was dead, they hadn't been unable to revive him, efforts would continue at the hospital. I hold out the hope that they will be able to help him, but I the picture of how terrible he looked out of my mind.
I got a lift home, now I feel terrible I've never witnessed anything like it, was so shocking. He had been fine all day we even went together to get a sandwich, I still cannot believe it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Don't leave me

I have been amusing myself tonight coding and listening to songs from my youth thanks to Spotify. Just in case it has passed you by Spotify is a 100% legal way to listen to music on demand. It is advertising supported but at the moment sends out less than commercial Radio like say Key 103, and you get to be the DJ. Basically you search choose and album and listen, every couple of songs there is an advert its easy to use, and has pretty much every album I can thing of to search for including the Rex the Dog remix of The Knifes Heartbeats.

This evening I caught up with the Green Day early albums, then tuned into the Smashing Pumpkins. I forgot how angst ridden the early Green Day was, and its certainly been way too long since i heard Today, and Bullet with Butterfly Wings.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Free Coldplay

You can download a free live Coldplay album "Left Right Left" here

Tracklisting

  1. Glass of water

  2. 42

  3. Clocks

  4. Strawberry Swing

  5. The Hardest Part / Postcards From Far Away

  6. Viva La Vida

  7. Death Will Never Conquer

  8. Fix You

  9. Death And All His Friends

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Viva La Gloria

Friday night I went out for a few drinks with Gilly and Nick. Nick wasnt staying out to late as he and Charlotte were going on a holiday to London the next day.

Phil and Bruce came and join us and I managed to convince them to join me on Saturday doing some stripping. Fortunately the only things that were bare at the end were the walls. We managed to get the whole master bedroom freed from the wallpaper which was great going. I hope to move in sometime next month, a few more days like this, I wonder what Jo and Holly are upto next week...

I dont really see much of Martin these days like me he is busy with his house and work. It was his birthday earlier this month to to celebrate we took a visit to the Chinese buffet in Stockport. I ate a lot of Chinese food, for a buffet it was actually very tasty. I especially liked the Peppered Steak. Phil ate his own body weight in duck, and everyone else seem to enjoy themselves.

After the meal we went to Cobdens, which was awful, blasting out tinny loud music. Adam Steph and Young Martin beat a hasty retreat. I chatted to Martin about his wedding apparently I am invited hurrah, Char told me she read this blog which is scary in itself. Nina suggested we moved to thier house.
Martin had never been to the Tonge residence before, he was fasinated with the Echoing bridge nearby. We all chatted and discussed the various thing we were upto on our houses, well until my eyes and belly felt so heavy I needed to sleep.

Before leaving Nina and Bruce gave Phil and I a picture from their wedding of us with Bruce which was really nice :)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Skype Numerology: Squirrel

Skype Numerology: Squirrel

Last Night On Earth

Another weekend, another birthday party; This time is was Nina playing host to celebrate her 26th.

I had spent the day at my house filling cracks cleaning and removing wall paper. My Dad gave me a crash course in the art of filling holes. I was pretty tired by the time I got to Bruce house.

Holly and Joe were there, we had a catch up about Danny's party last week. Bruce was attempting to make Pizza bases in the kitchen, something in the oven smelt very nice. Nina had made two lasagne's one vegetarian and one with meat. They were both very tasty. To go with that was pizza and salad, I enjoyed it very much.

Bruce, Holly and I compared work we had been doing on our houses and the allotment. It was interesting to be stood in the kitchen and see the work that had gone into making it good.

It was the first time I saw Jane and Lindsey the bridesmaids from Nina&39;s wedding I had seen them. Phil didn't seem too impressed that Jane brought her boyfriend along.


It was my turn to drink, and so I did. Too much in fact I had a stinking hangover all day. I felt incredibly depressed it was all couples (except Phil and I) and I thought to myself that I am missing out. Kasia doesn&39;t want to meet my friends which is upsetting to me as they are important to me. I am sure she would have enjoyed it too.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

21st Century Breakdown

Friday night, Danny has planned a theme Party to celebrate his 28th Birthday. The evenings theme was to be a Chav. I improvised a little, but most people made a really big effort, I was most impressed with Woller and Danny.

I elected to drive and managed to arrive at the same time as Ian. We were stood outside listening to the neighbours while Ian unloaded his wine and ice. I had a big fall out with Kasia so I didn't feel like drinking in case I got too depressed.

Jen had made a load of food, which sat on the table looking tasty. We weren't allowed to eat just yet. Instead Danny give me a tour of the house, which is quite a nice terraced affair.

I caught up with Paul, Saskia, Joe Holly and Woller, the atmosphere was really good everyone having a great laugh. The food was served and I must say Jen had done a great job, it was all very tasty. I especially enjoyed the spicy chips and curry :)

We talked we drank (I stuck to soft drinks) I spent a lot of time in the kitchen and outside. At one point a slightly drunk Jo managed to knock a shelf down. The offending shelf was pretty poorly constructed only really for decoration I think not to hold any weight. Despite his intoxication level Danny ran off grabbed a tool-case and his drill and set about fixing the shelf. Judging by the shine it seemed like it was a little used tool, I didn't mention that while using the bigger screws he omitted to counter sink the holes. It was a funny scene dressed in Chav wielding a drill.

Paul was excited about his new album and video he filmed. He also was making me incredibility jealous with picture from Abbey Road studio where his CD was being mastered.

By midnight pretty much everyone was drunken except me Michelle and Holly. Ian was especially drunken at one point falling over and held up by Holly. The party split between people playing singstar in the living room and people drinking and chatting in the kitchen. I offered an opening service for bottles of Lambrini, and chatted to people until my eyes started to feel heavy.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Red Tulip


Red Tulip
Originally uploaded by j0hncooke

The only red tulip in my mums bag of 'mixed' bulbs, it bloomed for one day before storm crushed it flopping down after chasing a ball

Sleepwalking

All writers have different style of writing some have bursts of energy some discipline themselves, Hemingway was said to write 500 words a day. Not that I would put myself in the same sort of bracket, indeed blogging is all about indisapline and autobiography. However it has been an age since I made a post, I keep thinking of things I want to write about but always at the wrong time, life somehow takes over and drains my energy away. This evening though I was talking to Martin, its been ages since I saw him in the flesh, but we had a really good catch up. I told him about Storm and he told me how he nearly had John Terrys boxer puppy. After our conversatoin I thought I should make the effort and write something, because its something I enjoy, a release.

Looks like the neighbours dog has moved in here. I went for a few drinks with Bruce on Saturday night, I awoke at about 4am needing a glass of water and nearly tripped over Storm who was fast asleep outside my room. Talking to my dad on Sunday it turned out my dad was woken up about 2 by Storm trying to get in he was cold and tired having been left out, he has been at our house since. I really enjoy this time of year, the flowers blooming Cherry blossom everywhere, it really great walking around with Storm taking it all in.

I spent Saturday mostly working, I had to try and get something done over the weekend, it ended up being a bit of a disaster, but the bad stuff didn't materialise until people started to use the site today [Monday].

Sunday, I spent most of the day migrating servers for work. Punctuated by Bruce and Nina coming over. They had been shopping at Woodford Garden centre. We took storm for a walk around the Community centre then as Nina had never been to my house we popped in to take a look. She even started to peel off some of the wallpaper, I handed her a scraper and got some mileage out of the situation. Nick turned up while we chatting to do some more work on the skirting boards.

After chatting for a while I extricated myself Nina and Bruce so that Nick could get on with the job. I hope my neighbours weren't too annoyed by the noise. It looks a lot more house like now the kitchen is in (minus a splashbacks and some other snagging) not so much more to do now. My main stumbling block at the moment it trying to get everything paid for, my savings are going and the work situation means I am somewhat struggling at the moment.

House aside, I walked Storm again then headed to the pub with Phil for a quiet drink. Julie was chatting to us for a while about a fancy dress party she had been too, Phil and I were checking out the pictures on Facebook while we supped our drinks.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Everyone's at It

Tuesday I went to see Kasia, we had a wonderful evening together and it made me wish we could spend more time together.
Today was another bad day, a microcosm of my life. My car went for a service, it need new brakes, a new timing belt sigh more expense. The gas guy came to plumb in the gas to my hobs, he took hours to connect, complained there was no room even though he moved the pipe himself and charged my £l65. That is additional to the £35 he charged me to move 3 centimetres last week. All in all £110's to extend one pipe less than 20centimetres, sigh.
In the afternoon I got a really fun phone call form the people I bought the kitchen off. Apparently they messed up and I owe them another £200. I took real issue with this as I paid them in good faith. They rung me before sending the kitchen out and asked me for payment, I gave the girl my credit card details and as far as I was concerned made a full and final payment. I thought they were basically trying it on to ask for any more money after the fact. Nick similarly knocked them back and I think they will basically give up. I felt bad to start with, then I realised how much they messed me about delivering the wrong things, and that I am small bean compared to the mega kitchen Phil's Parents bought.
I managed to cheer myself up after work walking storm, he is never upset. A little dog attacked him while we were playing catch but he hardly seemed to notice, just wanting me to throw the ball so he could run round some more. Such boundless optimism despite all the troubles in his life.
This evening I got two phone calls from friend who wanted advise, I just about managed to give it to them without going crazy, it was a close run thing though.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Glass

I had to take my parents and gran to John Lewis. My grans microwave had blown up (she has a knack of destroying them somehow), this is a problem as she uses it to do most of her cooking. So off to John Lewis where she bought a new Panasonic. Its a pretty nifty one as microwaves go, it can actually sense the gasses coming off the food and adjust the output accordingly. I used some vouchers to buy a kettle a pan and a frying pan for the house, was kind of strange to be buying my own appliances, I have always shared.

It was a glorious day today, I took the dog for a long walk in the sunshine playing catch at Woodford Rec for ages, until he got tired and decided a better game was tug of war with the rope pull, he virtually destroyed it!

My mums friend came over to see her and somehow convinced me to show her my house. Nick was there finishing some boxing in on the kitchen, she seemed to like it. I feel like its getting close, but at the same time there is a huge list of jobs left to do, and I am feeling pretty skint right now. I am sure Ill manage to find a way to get there though, I feel optimistic today.

I'm off to Bramhall to meet Gilly Nick and Phil.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Moon and moon

I had quite a nice week, though busy. My company has moved to a new office which means I now have to travel all the way to Macclesfield.

Tuesday Night I went to see Bat for Lashes at the Ritz. Martina had asked me to buy the tickets while she was away in Birmingham, it was to be the start of her new tour to promote her new album so we were treated to the new songs. It was a really nice concert despite some technical problems with the piano.

Wednesday I went to Halifax for a business meeting, there has certainly been a lot of work to come of way because of it, which should in time help with the cashflow crises.

Everyone seems to be switching to Twitter at the moment, but I am far too verbose to be able to fit anything reasonable into 140 characters, so when I have the time I am going to keep it real with blogger :)

Sunday, April 05, 2009

A Different Way

Its Sunday already another week and more importantly weekend has thundered by. I spent Saturday putting back the floor boards, all but 3 are back down. I have used over three hundred screws over the last couple of weekends putting them down. Just like everything with the house it wasn't just a simple proposition of laying them back down. Im many cases I had to build noggins to hold up the boards. I felt like I was back at technology class at Bramhall High chiselling out bits of wood sawing and plaining. It was hard work but very satisfying to see it laid back down.

Saturday evening Phil and I went round to Bruce and Nina's, to watch a movie. He had a copy of the new X-Men film. It was an unfinished version the effects and some camera shots were not finished, but that paled into insignificance compared to the thinness of the plot.

Today I spent most of the day outside. It was a great day, the sun was out so I agreed to do some things at my parents house for a change. I mowed the lawn, then refelted some of the shed roof where the wind had blown off the felt. My neighbours dog was happy to see us vaulting over the hedge and watching me work. I took him for a walk after lunch to Woodford recreation gronud. He is so happy and easily pleased its impossible to be unhappy spending time with him. I think he has basically adopted us as we pay him attention. He often sits outside our front door waiting for me or my mum.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Non-Entity

Well the good news at this point is part of my kitchen is installed, and because of Howdens screw up I managed to get a draw unit for the price of a cabinet. Unfortunately there have been a number of setbacks, the most painful is that a gas pipe is right in the middle of where two units meet. This means Ill have to get a gas engineer out to move it then get the kitchen fitting finished then get the gas engineer back to connect the gas hob. Also due to another minor screw up the sockets on one side of the kitchen were a few cm to the wrong side ;( Not much I can do about it unfortunately just got to get the people back rejig things and hope it all looks nice in the end.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

You Know What You Are?

For some time Faye has been organising a surprise party for Ian. So Saturday morning at twenty to nine he was greeted by Nick, Phil, Bruce, Dave, Sambo and myself. He seemed somewhat dumbfounded when Faye told him we were all there to take him paintballing.

Faye production lined Bacon butties and cups of tea for us all, while Ian sort of stood still trying to piece together what just happened. After the tasty bacon barm, we hit the road to Elland near Huddersfield for the paintball session.

We went in two cars, Phils sat nav took us to the wrong place, so we were a little late. Arriving at the venue I was shicked to see so many people. Teams were chosen on the basis of the arrival number, I was 65! That put me on the same team as Ian, Nick, and Sam. Were donned our boiler suits and loaded up on paint, there were also all sorts of armaments. Paint grenades, smoke bomb and flashbangs were on sale. I just stuck to pain, wish I had bought a pair of gloves like Bruce and Phil though.

The first game was attack defend, it was pretty hectic with so many people. The place was not organised the same way as the one I had been to for Bruces stag do. In fact they just seemed to want us to run off as many paintballs as possible, and no wonder at £ 30 for 500 balls.

Bruce must have been glad that we werent like the stag party there, on the VIP game were the object is to protect the VIP, the Stags friends (and team mates) unloaded 100 paintballs a piece from close range. He was writhing on the floor in agony, and nearly throwing up with the pain.

I got shot a lot, like to run in death or glory style but at one point during the second attack defend (waste as much paint as possible session) I got trapped and shot a lot, my back and shoulders are covered in bruises.

I did have one inspirational moment, when during the second VIP game I used a kid as a human shield I managed to tag a couple of players. While the kid got shot to pieces I was safe, bad John.

There was a second surprise for Ian, a Party at Fayes house. He knew nothing after the paintball other than he Faye Nick and Charlotte were having a meal. We all went home to change, and met back at Fayes before 8.30, cars hidden around the corner so Ian wouldn't suspect. We were all waiting in the kitchen when they arrived, Ian forgot his keys, so Faye answered the door and led him into the kitchen, he was surprised by everyone. Opening the door to be confronted by the Rocky sound track and his friend all screaming "Surprise!"

Danny had prepared a really good music selection for the evening, which served as a soundtrack to the party. I mingled, chatted to Bruce, Nina, Holly, Paul, Righni, Faye, Michelle, Ian, Holly, Jo and Gilly amongst others. I drank and dances and generally everyone seemed to have a great time.

Nick and Charlotte were looking very couple like, Nick seems happier than I have seen in a while, though I hope he maintains some sort of balance and doesnt try and rush things too much.

Holly was in a great mood too we were discussing ways to keep optimistic about long term projects where it can be hard to see the work done compared with the tasks ahead. Paul was on usual form drawing everyone attention, though he wasn't most popular with Ian and Faye when he decided to bed down in their room :D

Fayes parents are an inspiration, they have such a good sense of fun and ha obviously helped Faye a lot with the food. The food was really tasty, a choice of curry or lasagne, I had the curry and found it very enjoyable. I was actually bowled over by the effort that Faye had put into the whole party especially keeping totally on the QT from Ian, very impressive work. It made me wonder if Ian ever popped the question how well organised their wedding would be.

As always however the better the evening the more painful the next day. I felt like I was hit by a freight train, my body ached from all the painball hits and alcohol consumption. The morning was a a right off, this afternoon I just about made it to the house to put a couple of floor board back and do some preparation for the kitchen installation.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I stand corrected

It was Alison Brook's birthday yesterday, so myself Ian and Nick headed round to her house for a bit of a party. Strolling through the front door we were confronted by a load of twenty something lads who were all high, drunk or both (it was around 8.45pm when we arrived). No I realise I was a bit crazy when I was younger but a couple of them seems very scary. There was one tall bloke absolutely off his face walking round his nose covered in white power, which I assume wasn't icing sugar from the cake. We stood and talked in the lounge Al was buzzing around Finlay had snaffled some boze and was drunkenly lolling about the room. I felt really uncomfortable and chatting to Nick and Ian they felt the same. Chantell was there she looked out of place afraid of the hoodies in the kitchen. We got chatting to one of Alison's ex work colleagues Louise and he friend Ruth, who also felt a bit intimidated by the guys in the kitchen.

Apart from the bad vibes in the kitchen Nick was keen to get away and see Charlotte his new beau. We headed out to Wilmslow, Ruth and Louise joined us. Grabing some cash we made our way past the bouncers, one of whom appeared to be starting an altercation with a reveler. Eventually we made it into revolution, Faye Charlotte and Matt were having a good time. Nick headed straight for Charlotte, that was pretty much the last I spoke to him except for a brief visit to the bar, he couldn't wait to get back to her, she must be pretty nice. Hopefully one day Ill get to find out for myself what she is like. Ironically later in the week Nick asked me what I thought of her, I replied the truth I have never had a chance to speak to her!

I spent most of the evening drinking and chatting to Louise and Ruth who were really good company. I did talk to Faye a little and Ian but mostly I would have felt like a complete third wheel if it hadn't been for them. I enjoyed Revolution, though it was a little pricey and the bar staff were pretty clueless, there was a generally good vibe.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Sometimes playing catch with a doggy can be dangerous! Yesterday I was playing catch with my neighbours dog storm. I wasn't really paying attention and I managed to rebound a solid rubber ball straight into my face with enough force to mark my face and the sharp edge of my glasses cut into my eyebrow.

I was very tired at the point having been working at the house. It has been going pretty well recently, I have made really good progress finishing the wiring. Nearly all the sockets have cable to them and I made the bathroom an equipotential zone. This sounds really complicated, but actually its pretty simple. Electricity always flows between areas of different potential, e.g. a mains socket is 220v ground is effectively zero so grab hold of a live cable and while standing in a pool of water and that 220volt flows through you to ground. However by wiring everything metallic together and earthing it all the metal has the same potential so even if something became energised all the other bits of metal would have the same potential thus the electricity shouldn't flow; in fact at this point the circuit protection should kick in.

One side effect of all the wiring is reaching under, floors in the loft and round walls is that I am covered in little cuts and scraps, in fact after reaching under to thread a cable I look like I have been self harming!

While I was doing the afternoon session Paul and his new girlfriend Saskia popped round to visit the house. On balance it might not have made the best first impression, with all the dust mess and my dad and I in our scruffiest clothes. She seemed a nice girl and it was great to see Paul, an unfortunately brief time though before they had to get off to meet someone else on there grand tour. Hopefully I can pop to London to see them soon.

In the evening I was really tired, Phil suggested a film and as its relatively cheap and there are a few things I want to see we ran down to Didsbury to catch watchmen. Unfortunately it seemed like everyone wanted to go to the movies! Didsbury was full and so was the Trafford Centre we ended up getting a few cans and watching "How to lose friends and alienate people" instead.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Plastic Meadows

Two weird things, first thing Phil sent me a link to Horizon (2008-2009 - 6. What's the Problem with Nudity?). Nothing weird about that, until of course a few minutes in I realise why he sent it, not so I can see naked bodies but because someone we both know is in the program. It was very, very surreal and voyeuristic to watch.

Second weird, well not really weird by certainly sad.
on a different note I installed the new Skype (Version 4.0). I found the interface horrible! Fortunately Phil told me that you can us the 4th button on the top to separates them. Overall though I found the The interfaces just so different and less intuitive. I just wonder why on earth they would change a decent format to a convoluted one? I thought at first the I was just too familiar with the current interface, but Kasia and Phil both said similar things. Kasia called it Chaotic, and Phil confusing.

This evening I put the finishing touches to a website hopefully it will go live later this week. I am pleased that I am reaching the end.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Hacked

In my professional career I have had systems I worked with compromised several times. Unfortunately its much harder to defend than attack. Today I uncovered a rouge program on one of the work servers. Tomorrow I will be doing some analysis of when where and how it happened.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

One Day Like This

I haven't posted for a while, I would like to say these is an earth shatteringly important or interesting reason for my blogs stagnation. The real reason is lack of interesting diversions. There was Fayes birthday last Wednesday, which was a nice evening.
Yesterday was the most interesting day in a long time though. It was the first time in a little while that I have felt really alive. Kasia came up from York, I picked her up from Stockport Station and we headed into Manchester. Our firs destination was the Chinese Arts centre. Kaisa had seen it on a website and was exited to see it. As it turned out it is quiet a small gallery only one exhibition was open. A display of people and their drugs. It was interesting but only too a short time to peruse.

The shop seemed bigger than the actual gallery, but the teas were great and the nik naks lovely. As it only took 30 minutes to go round I suggested we visited Urbis, I had never been there before so it was a new experience for us both. We looked at the Emory Douglas and the art of revolutions. As minister for culture in the Black Panther Party he was involved in the chain reaction the empowered Africa Americans to the point where American now has a black president. It was chilling to see how only just over a generation ago blacks were lynched with impunity.

The other exhibition at Urbis was titled Reality Hack: Hidden Manchester. It was a series of photographs by experimental photographer, Andrew Paul Brooks. He has managed to capture scenes from Urban explorers, and from alternative rooftop views. My favourites were of the eerie underground shelters and the picture from the town composing the Angels with the modern cityscape.

After our art tours we went to see my house. I think she appreciated the progress but was a little shocked at how much there was left to do. We ate fish and chips and cuddled on the sofas. After which then headed out to the Trafford centre.

I wanted to get some new jeans but after trying on a few pairs I realised that I have put on quiet a lot of weight in the last 6 months. Working on the house has meant I haven't been working out at the gym. I am going to have to do a lot of running and exercise once the house is finished. I bought the Elbow album "The Seldom Seen Kid" to listen to on the drive to York. I am really enjoying it, I must admit its a grower the first time Martina played it to me I really did not think it was my kind of thing.

We visited the new bit of the Trafford centre which has home furnishings, but didn't end up buying anything.

I spent the night in York, we were both really tired after the driving and visiting but it was a really great day. I was very glad to do something none work and one house, they are really pretty much dominating my life at the moment.