Sunday, December 26, 2010

In Sleep

Christmas Day I went round to my parents. I decided to walk, it was quiet refreshing in the snow and cold.

The walk takes about 50 minutes though there is the rather steep climb of Deanwater hill at the end. I as I crossed the bridge over the river Bollin, looking down the River was frozen over. I had never seen it Freeze before, but such has been the cold snap this year it was.

My parents did the full works of turkey, roast potatoes, roast parsnips home made chestnut stuffing, pigs in blankets, home made gravy, all very tasty.

After dinner I sat and watched TV with Storm, resting my rather overfull belly. I watch Casablanca a black and white classic. It is actually a very good film with some incredible characters and lines.

After that I headed home, had a few beers and watched from Paris with love. An enjoyable action film with John Travolta as an asskicking secret agent. Normally this is not the sort of film I would enjoy but as a brain off enjoyable film that didn't take itself too seriously.

Over And Out

Last Christmas Eve I went out to Bramhall and it was a bit of a disaster as the poor weather saw very few people turn out to Beluga in Bramhall.

This year we decided to go to the Governors House in Cheadle Hulme. Bruce picked me Nick and Ian up and we arrived about 8. The place was packed, several deep at the bar. Joe and Holly were already there nestled in a quiet corner. The only place we could all find to sit together was in the front room unfortunately there was a band setting up there. We started chatting catching up while more people arrived. The queue for the bar became 30 minutes. Bruce told me not only couldn't you get to the bar once there it was almost impossible to get back through the crush of people.

Then the band started up. Now firstly the were incredibly loud. So loud we were virtually unable to speak to one another. The band themselves weren't bad, however the choice of music was a little odd. I like Pink Floyd but I am not sure that they are the right sort of music for a Christmas Eve party. Most songs people requested were denied instead we were treated to a series of rather self indulgent (for the band) power ballad type songs. So unable to get to the bar or hold a decent conversation there evening got pretty old fairly quickly. By 11.30 we and (most other people near the band not that it gave them a hint left).

I hope we don't have some sort of Christmas Eve curse doomed to have rubbish Christmas eves! Next up of New Year, Kath will be here then so I want us to do something enjoyable, not sure what though, would welcome ideas!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Pieces of what

Feeling a bit rough today, fortunately working from home so able to cope. I went out last night for a few drinks at the Magnet in Stockport. Due to its high level of Chav Scum I wouldn't normally entertain drinking Stockport, however this place is pretty special. They had a very nice Christmas, called Champagne Christmas Ale

They had a excellent range of beers on tap, it was a friendly place. They also do a nice line in Pork pies :)

I had been invited out to meet up with some friends back from my school days. Was really a fun evening catching up and reminiscing about old times.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Do You Want It All ?

Who knew condensing combination boilers were at risk from frozen condensate pipes? I woke up in the morning to a freezing cold house, the temperature outside was sub zero. There was water dripping from the bottom of my boiler (Valliant Ecotec), and a message on screen error F.28. I looked up in the manual and the error meant that the burner could not ignite. At this point I had visions of very expensive parts, assuming of course I could get anyone to come out at all.

I had Cocoa booked in to see the vet at 9.30. She needed her booster vaccinations and a general checkup. Her last vet was in Altrincham, and though her was very good it was very stressful to take her so so far stuck in a cat carrier. So this time we went to a more local place, in Handforth. Cocoa is a house cat so I was told I probably wouldn't have to treat her for fleas. Unfortunately it appear this is not the case as the vet found signs that she has managed to pick them up from somewhere.

So by 10am I had a broken boiler and fleas! Given the time of year and the poor weather all the plumbers I called were busy. I was starting to worry I would never find anyone, however I managed to find someone. I called up a local plumbers merchants and got a few numbers from them. So I finally got a plumber and after a few minutes they worked out the problem. The pipe that carries the condensate outside was frozen backing up water into the burning chamber. A few minutes with a blow torch heating was restored. I'll know what to look for next time, and I have already lagged the pipes to try and stop them freezing again.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Chilli Freak

Patents on software are something I have argued against for a long time. Apart from stifling innovation. Copywrite protect developers while patents grant a monopoloy sometimes on vary spurious grounds for 20 years. I also appears that only large companies are able to enforce patents anyway. The register has this article patents do not protect small firms/.

Civilisation 5 Patch now out

Firaxis is launching a massive patch for Civ 5 which addresses a lot of the criticisms about he clueless AI. This patch list has so many fixes but one of my personal favourites is
"New “Angry Genghis” loading screen (replaces the “fluffy-bunny Genghis” loading screen)."

There are also some fixes to reduce the memory footprint so hopefully that will stop the game from crashing later on (something which has all but stopped me playing.

Some commentary on Ars Technica here

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hannibal

Ever needed a fake number but worried about making one up that is actually somebodies real number? Ofcom has the answer, a list of Telephone Numbers for use in TV and Radio drama programmes

Friday, December 10, 2010

The lighthouse

Yesterday was full of unexpected surprised. I got two presents, Kath bough me a new sports bag. My old one was literally falling to bits, I have been uysing it since I was in high school. She got me a nice new Puma one, I really like can't wait to try it out at the gym tonight.

I also got a second parcel from Lulu. She sent me a CD with photos form her wedding and a cap from the Shanghai expo. I didn't have a chance to check out the photo yet so more on them later.

Not sure where this year has gone too, seems to have gone by so quickly, already nearly Christmas. Fortunately thanks to the internet I have already bought all but a few presents.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Dry and Dusty

Ars Technica have an interesting look of the effect of cognitive dissonance . For those not familiar cognitive dissonance is the state of mind where you hold two conflicting views on a subject. This can be anything from buyers remorse after an expensive purchase, you wanted it but are then guilty. The study had people in an MRI scan while rating items then having them compare items with the same ratings. All goes to show the brain is a strange and complex beast.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Old Stone

Just in case you were worried about getting sued after clearing the snow away from your drive, the government have helpfully produced a best practice guide
There's no law stopping you from clearing snow and ice on the pavement outside your home or from public spaces. It's unlikely you'll be sued or held legally responsible for any injuries on the path if you have cleared it carefully. Follow the snow code when clearing snow and ice safely.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Profiler for Mono

Saw a great blog about writing a profiler for Mono. I would love to use something like this to profile our software. One day I will.

Tumble and fall

I read this article on Ars Technica. It made me think how much the world has changed even in my lifetime. When I was young the big fear seem to be drugs. The media was obsessed with "drug fiends" junkies who would prey on normal society do anything to get their fix. There was the myth of the first time being free as if dealers were lurking around giving out drugs like candy.

Somewhere in the last decade thought the fiend focus seems to have shifted. Nowadays the big fear is that somehow paedophiles are lurking ready to pounce on young children. This has caused all sort of reactions from the banning of parents being able to video tape their children in the school nativity play, to children being prevented from playing outside. Most of these fears are irrational, the chance of a child being snatched away are infinitely small especially compared against the risks of say crossing the road. Plus locking use all away in hermetically sealed boxes actually stops children developing the skills to deal with risky situations.

I hope when I am a parent I am able to be rational, judge the real risks and not live my life in fear that some unknown force is going to get me. Obviously there are risks in life. Would I be the person I am if I was more conservative as a child? I used to play in the fields, had a rope swing over a pond which was deep dirty and dangerous, I feel in and it could have gone the wrong way, but it didn't nor does it for the majority.

Safe without

I finished Wolf Hall last night. At 650 pages it is a bit of an epic, but well worth it. The author Hilary Mantle has managed to take a well known piece of history Henry XIII wives and put a new spin on it. The main character (though there are a lot of characters in the novel) is Thomas Cromwell. She manages to turn what could be very dull historical moments like Parliament sessions into dramatic and interesting scenes. Building a portrayal of 16th century England which is accessible and interesting. Opening with his childhood, abusive father and trip overseas. Then switching to Thomas as a 40 year old in the service of Cardinal Wolsey. Thomas stays loyal to Wolsey despite his fall from grace after failing to obtain a annulment of Henry XIII and Catherine of Aragon.

I found it to be a page turner and was sad in a way to reach the end. I can certainly understand why it won the man booker price in 2009.

There are much better reviews than I could write by the Gaurdian and Telegraph

Friday, November 26, 2010

Coffee and a sweet treat to think better?

Caffeine and glucose combined improves the efficiency of brain activity

According to this piece on ScienceDaily (2010-11-24) The combination of caffeine and glucose can improve the efficiency of brain activity, according to a recent study in which functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to identify the neural substrate for the combined effects of these two substances.

All the more reason for a coffee and a cake :)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Golden Platitudes

It is my birthday today and I have been greeted by lots of lovely Facebook messages. I guess with site like Facebook it is getting more simpler to remember when peoples birthdays are. Still it ways a pleasure to get lots of nice messages so thanks everyone!

Bit worried about Kath today she has some stomach bug, wish I could go and make her feel better.

I got really angry with work today, there are some problems and unfortunately I took it out on someone else which is always a bad idea. I will have to apologise next time I see them.

Currently fighting a weird issue with NHibernate, for some reason it refuses to save my IDictinoary child objects. It Saves other things correctly just not IDictionaries, very odd. I even bit the built and tried upgrading to a later version which caused a few breaking changes. At least through the magic of Spotify I have been able to listen to the Manics all day to take the edge off.

Kind of glad I didn't stay up for the start of the Ashes last night, like my colleague I gave up after Andrew Strauss was out after the third ball.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Crystal Castles - Not In Love ft. Robert Smith


Crystal Castles - Not In Love ft. Robert Smith

Chromatic

I woke up this morning to the news that North Korea had shelled South Korea. I remember reading a long time ago about the Korean war and how devastating it was. The use of incendiary bombs, and a scored earth policy levelling most of the North and parts of the South. There is a good article on History News Network. Surprising the almost casual use of Napalm and even the consideration of using Nuclear weapons to destroy Chinese forces and create a radioactive divide between Korea and China.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Do You Want It All ?

Sunday Morning and I feel achy, my knees are sore and my back is killing me. Would like to say I was at some crazy rock concert jumping around like a mad man. Instead I spent most of yesterday in my loft crawling about wearing googles and a facemask while laying insulation. So hopefully the house will be warmer now.

I used two different types of insulation, some mineral wool I bought a while back and the other recycled plastic bottles. Having used both I would say the plastic bottles are lass itchy but way more of a pain. Harder to cut and more elastic so as soon at the roll is out of the plastic is expands quickly unfurling itself.

Hopefully it will be worth it. Being the cost of the materials was about £40's it shouldn't be difficult to recoup the costs.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Skype on Fedora 14

I was getting an error after installing Skype "Failed to execute child process “skype” (No such file or directory)". Fortunately a quick google search lead me to the answer here

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Suburbs

Tuesday

Kath Has been in the UK Since Tuesday and here is a blog of our adventures together. I picked her up from Liverpool airport Tuesday night. It was a cold evening, colder in the UK than in Poland. It is always a great feeling to see her waiting for me. By the time we got back from Liverpool it was getting late so we got ourselves fish and chips from the big fish which is an awesome chippy.

Wednesday

Unfortunately I couldn't get any time off at the moment so I had to head into work. Kath walked into Handforth at lunch time and we went to Konak Cafe. I had a tuna melt panini while Kath had a Club sandwich. Both were very tasty but I think the club sandwich was a bit special.
In the evening we had planned to meet Nick, but he had come down with a bad cold so instead we went shopping. The plan was to make a nice pie have a couple of beers and enjoy each others company. However on returning one of the beer bottles managed to escape through the bottom of the shopping bag, exploding beer and glass all over the kitchen. It also chipped one of the floors tiles which was very annoying. Fortunately after the clear up and consumption of the remaining beer (and pie) we were able to laugh about it, in fact it was a very giggly evening, triumph from catastrophe.

Thursday

My parents invited us for dinner. They made beef bourguignon which was very tasty. I showed Kath what my dad and I had bee upto converting my old room into an office. It looks really good now the bookcases are all built. Just need my dad to start moving all his stuff in.
Had a lovely evening with them, and storm doggy.

Friday

We decided to meet up with Andy Gilmore in Manchester. Taking the train was an experience, it was late by nearly 30 minutes, which is actually longer than the journey time to Manchester. It started to feel a bit cold stood on the platform. There were mostly young lads in groups ready for a night out. By the smell of it there was a lot more than tobacco was being consumed in the train shelter :D
We finally made it into the city and started walking to meet Andy on Market street there seemed to be an endless crowd of people all going in the opposite direction. It was amazing I had never seen so many people. Fighting the crowd we finally met Andy near boots, apparently the crowd was due to Joe McElderry switching on the Christmas lights.
After all the delays we were all getting pretty hungry so Andy suggested Sam's Chop House. It was pretty busy but we managed to get a table after a 20 minute wait. I had never been before and I was mightily impressed. Descending the stairs into a warm friendly pub setting. The food was hearty, tasty food and excellent service. I had a steak, Andy Steak and Kidney pudding and Kath tried the sausage and mash. I really enjoyed it. Andy had some big news for us, he has a new job which is going to involve a move. Seems like an amazing opportunity for him so I wish him all the best thought I will miss meeting up with him, despite the fact we dont do it often enough. After the meal we had another drink in the Ape and Apple before leaving Andy to catch the train home. Being slightly early for the train we had a nightcap in the balcony bar before catching the train, which was bang on time.

Saturday

Given we had enjoyed such a good evening there we decided to take spend the Day out in Manchester.
Kath wanted to go to Primark as it it cheap even compared to Polish prices. Unfortunately the rest of the world seemed to have decided the same thing the queues were immense. In spite of the crowds Kath managed to find some pretty tops and some lovely underwear.
This earned me enough brownie points that she offered to buy lunch. We headed to the print works and decided to try the food at Papa G's. A kind of Greek Cypriot restaurant they did a lovely line in cooked meat and bread. Service was rapid and the food was edible, thought I felt like it is basically an up-market kebab house.
After lunch we walked around bit then went into M&S o I could buy a few shirts for work, no Christmas shopping yet.
We did a lot of walking I tried to show Kath a bit of Manchester, from the Gardens to St Annes square, the Town hall Lincoln Square. Then a tour round Manchester Art Gallery.
Amazingly during our wonder, I bumped into an old friend, James Kay someone I have not seen in something like ten years. Strangely enough I had only been talking about him the night before as I just ordered Goldeneye for the Wii a game we used to play obsessively in my college days. Strange as it was to bump into him at least he lives in Manchester, the next people we meet were fresh up from London Paul, Saskia and Andy Fletcher were also in the Art Gallery as we walked in. They had come up to see Andy as it was his birthday.
I must make an admission despite living in Manchester all my life I had never been round the gallery before. So it was very interesting. I liked to see the Painting by Edwin Landseer done before casting the bronzes which sit at Nelsons column in London. You can certainly see how wealthy the Manchester corporation was to amass such a collection. I thought it was interesting the ornate way the works are framed with placards at the bottom.
After walking around the various galleries we started to feel tired to headed home stopping off at Cafe Nero for a Chai Latte before taking the train home.
I made us dinner while Kath packed (and was kind enough to do some ironing for me isn't she wonderful!). Dinner was spicy prawn and garlic stir fry with rice noodles. I think it is one of my better dishes, we both enjoyed it.
I felt very sad in the evening knowing I would soon have to crop Kath off at the airport and revert back to my solitary existence. We stay pretty close while she is in Poland, talking often by text phone and the internet, but nothing quite matches the intimacy of being physically close, holding her in my arms.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Cannot log into SQL Server following SSL certificate installation

I managed to lock myself out of sql server on one of our servers. I got the following error on login with the following error "A connection was successfully established with the server, but then an error occurred during the pre-login handshake"

After a lot of googling I finally found that the issue was that I had installed a self signed certificate using the Windows 2003 resource kit. Due to the fact SQL server uses ssl certificates to secure the login my certificate had broken my ability to log in.

Following the steps listed in this Microsoft Knowledge base article fixed the problem. Essentially stop sql server, removed the certificates regenerate (ensuring to use the identifier as listed in IIS manger on the S parameter of selfssl e.g. C:\Program Files\IIS Resources\SelfSSL>selfssl.exe /N:CN=YOURSEVER /K:1024 /V:7
/S:1899305700 /P:443) then restart sqlserver.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Crayon

According to the Guardian Musical releases from the show Glee have now managed to beat one of the Beatles records. The fictional high-school glee club has amassed 75 top 100 singles, trouncing the Beatles'; record of 71.

Given for a moment Glee is all about releasing cover after cover of previous hits songs (including two penned by Lennon and McCartney). What does this say about our changing music, and indeed cultural habits. Have spectacle shows like Glee and the X Factor taken over from the business of actually producing music for good or is this just a passing phase?

Free Ebook Programming Windows phone 7

Charles Petzold author of the definitive programming Windows books has a free ebook on programming for the new Windows Phone 7. You can download it here

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rest My Chemistry

I got my dad to switch to three, after giving him an IPhone 3G for his birthday. I recommend that he switch to Three from Orange as they have very good offers on data tariffs; he was mostly interested on having email on the move. Apparently it is not only me recommending Three mobile network, according to the register they have just been named the best network in a YouGov Poll.

Lets get some anecdotal evidence, to any Orange users reading this, are you happy with your network?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Like this like that

For anyone in the market for the an iphone 4 the website topcashback* promises £100 back for contracts taken through e2save. This works for Orange, TMobile, Vodafone and O2 but unfortunately not for Three who currently have the cheapest iphone 4 deal (yes I know officially Tesco have a cheaper one but finding one seems to be as difficult as locating the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!).

Moneysavingexpert have a great comparison of the iphone deals here

Personally I really want one, but like the government I am going through my own personal deficit reduction so taking on a new contract is out for the time being.

NB this is a referral link which means I get a kickback if you sign upto the topcashback site.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Vuvuzela

Interesting article on why the Royal Navy must cut down on total ship in order to build two aircraft carriers

On a related but less important pondering, to me it is one of the curiosity of CIV that plans cant obliterate shipping.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Notepad++ Compile

I saw this tutorial to set up the compiler and allow Notepad++ to compile files using csc http://www.dreamincode.net/forums/blog/334/entry-1946-codetalk/ (link is now dead you can view on waybackmachine).


Sunday, October 03, 2010

Machete

Yesterday I spent the day finishing off a wiring job. One leftover thing I had never finished was to rewire the lights my bedrooms. I needed to do this before I can add extra insulation to the loft (which I would like to get done before winter sets in). It was a fiddly job spent in the dirty and dark loft, awkwardly trying to balance on bits of wood so as not to fall through the ceiling. I was glad to finally get it done though another job off the list.

In the evening I went round to Bruce, we played the F1 games for the Playstation 3. I found it like a lot of modern racing games the realism has detracted from the fun in playing the game. After a few rounds we decided to watch a film, Bruce chose Machete. A Robert Rodriguez film, it s a sort of Mexploitation tale of a Mexican Federale who after losing his family find himself embroiled in a complex plot. This is a gory action with ultra violence, linked to a question about immigration parodying the stupidity of people on both sides of the debate.

It was a little over the top for more tastes, but not terrible, avoid if you don't like gore though!

Civ V

Finally managed to start playing Sid Meier's Civilization V, so far its excellent. Civilization V is the latest incarnation of the Civilization series. I have been playing since getting hooked on Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri Complete (PC). SMAC followed Civ two coming before Civ III, and it hooked me. Phil and I used to play for hours, famously we once played until 4am and he had to work the next day (I had university I think I did make it to lectures somehow).

The graphics are greatly improved, the world map looks great. They have streamlined the whole game, removing the spying and religion features. Personally I think that this really helps make the game simpler and more fun. To get you going Advisors pop up to help make recommendations on their areas. The main thrust of the game remains the same however, starting from a lone city in 4000BC build up our Civilization into an great power.

One of the biggest improvements is the battle options. The unit counts are reduced to a more sensible one per tile, so no more stupid 20 unit stacks crushing your cities. Units cost more so it more important to keep hold of them upgrade them. Tactics now seem to be favored over swamping enemies with units.

There is one new feature, city states. These are computer controlled cities which can be interacted with in a variety of ways, befriending, trading or attacking.

The only issue that I have had so far is the games stability. I rally enjoyed Civ IV I wasnt sure how they could improve it, but they have managed to tweak the game in all sorts of wyas to make it a simpler and more fun experience while still maintaining the essence of what makes Civ uch a good series. If you like god games this is one of the best!

That would be something

I have just finished reading White Noise  a book which according to the reviews is either modern classic or dreadful. Personally speaking I would rate it good, not great nor dreadful. White Noise was published in the 80s so is a story very much of its time. It focuses on Jack Gladney a lecturer on Hilter Studies, his family life. Its a very black comedy using satire to deconstruct many aspects of modern life. If anything some of the comments are even more cutting now in an age of Facebook and Twitter the in 1980s pre mobile phone revolution.

Gladney has a tangled family life, a collegue / friend who lectures in car crashes, yet is terrified by his own mortality.

I enjoyed the story, I also enjoyed reminiscing about the 80's, I could certainly relate to some of the scenes of family interaction, though not the multiple marriages fortunately my parents are still together. It is weird to think of a time before mobile phones, before the internet dominated. Now if I don't know something I ca look it up in minutes, growing up I had to spend hours in the library researching.  I wonder what is coming next?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Dream is collapsing

Went to see Bruce and Nina last night, they invited me around for dinner. She made a chicken curry, it was not bad little

After dinner we watched TV culminating in watching the Mixed marshal arts final with Alex Reid versus Tom Watson. I expected Kaite Prices partner to get his pretty boy ass kicked in good style. In actual fact he put in an incredible fight, trading blow for blow and absorbing huge amounts of punishment. I really enjoyed it, not sure if I preferred it to boxing, but still was good savage fun.

I have to work again today, so off now back to the office.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Save Me

It is Saturday, at home a have a brand new copy of Civ 5 ready to be played. Instead I sit alone in an almost empty office, trying to hit a deadline. t least with no colleagues I can listen to some music on Spotify and eat junk tasty food from the Bakery next door.
The good news is work is progressing well so with luck I will have something ready for Monday morning.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Reminder

I have never been much of a fan of PayPal, they act like a bank but are not regulated as one. As I needed to download the latest version of Tortoise SVN I read this on the news page. Its seems that Pay Pal arbitrarily suspended the projects donation account for very tenuous reasons. They weren't very forthcoming when he protested. Not only that but they froze the ability to access the money in the account. A terrible way to act, imagine if the Pay Pal account were the main source of funding for the project and no money could be access for 180 days. That might very well be the death knell for some industries.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

(It's not war) Just the end of love

My old room has now been transferred into an office for my dad. We ordered a load of stuff from Ikea, it should be a very nice office for my dad. It has been a bit strange helping him plan it out given how long I lived there.

A work colleague gave me a motherboard he no longer wanted so I have replaced one of my old servers, It is now nearly silent, much better to work in the same room with. I also ordered him a new Dell Vostro, was on offer came with a monitor and free delivery. No way I could build a machine at that level for the same sort of money.

I went to the gym this afternoon, saw Becky in there she was looking healthy, whereas I was a hot sweaty mess trying to burn off a few calories on the cross trainer.

I went round to see Phil last night, he had arrived back from his holiday in Sharm El Sheikh. Sounds like a lovely holiday. We played a few games on his PlayStation 3, Street Fighter IV and Burn out. It was a really relaxed evening, just the ticket after a hard days painting and decorating.

istat

I have been using the wonderful istatpro app on my Apple for yearrs. It give a very detailed output of what the system is doing. I found out that they produce an istat server for Linux> Coupled with the iphone app it is a great way to monitor the servers.
There is a great excellent on installing it here

Friday, September 17, 2010

Windows XP Fonts

I work a lot using terminals (which look like the old DOS prompt) I have found the best font to display console output is a monospaced font Consolas. It is also very good for displaying code this was what it has been developed for. Consolas is included in Windows Vista and Windows 7 but not XP. I have found out that these can be downloaded from Microsoft. Download and install the setup and you will have consolas available.

It is part of Microsoft's clear type family and bundled with Office 2007.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

We used to wait

Turned the tables yesterday, rather than my dad help me decorate my house, I went to paint my old room. He wants to turn it into a office for himself.
Last week I was up on the roof painting on roof sealent. It is a fetching silver colour now and hopefully should keep the rain out for a few more years.
Given the amount of help my parents have given my renovating my house I owe them a lot of help. Was slightly odd painting my old room erasing the memory of me living there, but what could I expect? That they kept it as a shrine to me, no!
So my dad and I painted, Storm came to help but manage only to get paint on himself then wander round the house leaving white dog prints. Fortunately I noticed quickly and was able to clean them up.
We went on a visit to Ikea in the afternoon. I wanted my dad to think about the furniture.

As a treat for helping my parents invited me to a roast beef dinner. It was so tasty, the beef joint was succulent and flavored, and my mums gravy, yum!

Afterward I headed round to Bruce's. We watched kick Ass which I thought was an awesome and very knowing take on the superhero genre. There were so many nods to other films, like the Matirx and Kill Bill if was a real film geeks film, so I loved it!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Crystalised

Today I should be the proud owner of the latest piece of Ienvy, unfortunately things it didn't work out that way. On Sunday I got really annoyed with my old phone and decided rather on a whim to  head to the Trafford Centre to buy an IPhone. I decided on the 3 network due to a rather good deal on international costs which would enable me to chat to Kath on her home phone. They also allow Skype.

I headed to the shop because as the website informed me that it was only able to purchase in store. In an impulsive mood I rang to confirm they had one in stock, and headed to the Trafford Centre. Time was somewhat of the essence as it was nearly 5 and the place closed at 6. I called ahead to confirm this and was told they were in stock and all I would need is my passport.

So I headed to the store, presented myself bank card and passport to the women then. Answered loads of questions. Then a pause, the credit check had been referred. Not a problem I thought I can afford £30 / month. I guessed that as a recent victim of identity fraud they might want to check some things. They did, only they couldnt today. So I left empty handed. The store assistant promised to ring me the next day...

Yesterday I sat alone in the office, as my colleague is on holiday. I called at lunch time and was fobbed off, so I called again at 3 and actually managed to speak to the right assistant. She gave me a different number to ring; this got me through to a call centre where the operator seemed to find it difficult not to refer to me in the third person, "Can I have the customers name?". - I thought what my name? "I am the customer, my name is John Cooke", "Thank you sir, may I have the customers address?"

Several minutes and a lot of security questions later I was told I had been authorised. I rang the girl back and she said "great just pop in this evening and pick up your phone, hanging up on me before I managed to say anything.


So for the second evening in a row I wondered into the Trafford Centre, the women waived to me and beaconed me over. I sat down she put an IPhone in front of me, she asked for my debit card, and my passport. Crap I forgot it, I took it out of my pocket to buy a flight to Poland. She did see it yesterday, using my password details to fill in the forms. Couldn't we skip that bit? Apparently not, at this point I gave up. My identity hasn't changed since yesterday, and had already confirmed the credit bit, I guess the universe doesn't want me to own an IPhone. I left the store empty-handed.

I arrived home to find my passport on my desk, and Kath trying to console me pointed out I could buy it on-line from three. I was so annoyed though I decided against it and headed to bed.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Watch out for rockets

Reading many reviews I have long felt that Diesels are in fact more greener than hybrid or electric cars and it would appears that there is some evidence that unless your power happens to come from renewable then the best thing for the environment would be to buy a modern diesel.

I can talk

Bit of an epic weekend. Starting early on Friday, I took the day off so I could pick Kath up from the airport. Mercifully I was sparred the trip to Doncaster this time only having to venture as far as Liverpool. the flight was a little delayed, I waited in the Morrisons superstore, it's about 1/2 a mile form John Lennon. I mention this only because of what happened while I was waiting. About at 7.30 am, the superstore was closed except for the petrol station. A car pulled up next to mine, a young girl and boy got out, moved onto the back seat and promptly went to sleep. I thought it was pretty odd considering the car park was mostly empty that they would choose to pull up right next to my car, maybe it is some narcoleptic form of dogging?

Kath was really tired after the journey, so we had a relaxed morning. Then headed to the garden centre to speak to the aquarium section see if I could find a cure for the algae plaguing my fishtank. It was a really helpful trip the guy there was very knowledgeable and gave me several ideas to get it  under control. We enjoyed a coffee in the coffee shop then headed to Decathlon to buy sleeping bags for the party at Paul dad's place.

Saturday Ian picked us up, I didn't even realise until he prompted that he had a new car. How observant! In fairness its very similar though nicer with body coloured bumpers. Iain had also been to Decatholon and was sporting a net 2" popup tent. I had borrowed a tent of Bruce, it wasnt a two second erection, but it did go up pretty quickly.

Paul's dads house was suitably impressive. A converted Mill / Farm complete with a waterwheel extensive grounds and an annexe. The spread was impressive too, the garages converted into a stage and with a marquee ample space for the party goers.  There was beer, wine and cider aplenty too, not to mention the simply amazing food. Simple but tasty joints of beef and pork coupled with very nice French rolls, and some cheeses. The beef in particular was exquisite, I am getting hungry just thinking about it.

We sat and chatted, Paul's ex Leamington day flatmate and his wife. He persuaded the weaker minded amongst us to sample a Marlboro light, setting up a smokers corner. He also had an interesting form of logic regarding health risks. Claiming to be worried about the dangers of the potential for asbestos in some art-ex he removed from a ceiling. Compared to the dangers of smoking, I thought it was a pretty outside risk!

There was a band playing for the first part of the evening they were pretty good, was mostly covers though. Later in the evening Paul got up and did a set, his songs were great, though he seemed to forget the words during his cover of Lady Gaga. Jo joked the words didn't matter "its all gag gaga blah blah"! Apparently he did another set later on, by which time though Kath and I had decided to retire to bed. We were having a nice chat with Jo, Holly Ian and Chris with Paul coming and going while chatting and mingling.

I woke up in the morning to find Louise sat outside he tent surveying the remnants of a food platter, seemingly the foxes had enjoyed the cheese too. Apparently Ian had fallen asleep in her tent after she told him her fears about the foxes.

Kath and I felt fine having gone to bed fairly reasonable, Ian looked like death, fortunately breakfast was provided sausage bread rolls, egg and beans, lovely. It did us all the power of good to have some good stodge to soak up the alcohol.

Paul gave me two CD, apparently he is dissolving some of his CD collection in preparation for moving in with Saskia. Was very nice of him to think of me.

Ian had to leave early but Kath and I loitered on, Paul having arranged for us, Saskia, Jo and Holly to go for lunch at a local pub, the Fox and Hound. The Fox and Hounds was a very traditional English pub.  I loved it felt like a relaxed place, and seeing the food being dished out to people made my mouth water. I had a really nice meal, Belly pork, it was very tasty. I also tried Saskia's risotto and Kaths Sichuan beef all were very tasty.  It was a great end to a lovely weekend, excellent idea from Paul. It was great that Kath met Paul and Saskia, and my friends. I am also really glad that she heard Paul play now she might understand better why I think he is so talented.

Banking Error

Tomorrow morning is re-mortgage day, hopefully its a fresh start financially. To facilitate the transition I needed to transfer from money. Attempting to log into my account I received a message to tell me I was locked out of internet banking, I was sure that I put in the correct password, a password I had been using it since 1997, I use it so often that it is ingrained in my muscle memory.
I called the support number reset my password, the women told me to try it while I was on the line, I am glad she asked. Opening a new session I tried it out and wasn't able to log in. At this point I got transferred to another operator. He asked whether I had reused the password, I had at which point he told me after 99 uses the account get locked and a simple reset is not enough to get it working again. He reset my date of birth to today's date and I had to get my password, log in again. This time it worked, and once more change of password and reset of date of birth and I could access it again. I guess in 10 more years I will have to do the same again!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet

The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet

Bye bye foursquare?

Looks like Facebook has decided to squash Foursquare. This article in wired touts the new Facebook check in service which lets Facebook users check into places, not unlike foursquare. The fact that it will be available to facebooks 500 million users will I expect mean an end in growth for Foursquare unless it can quickly respond with some new features not available with Connect.

Monday, August 16, 2010

First State

The Register has an article stating that Virgin Media are touting the idea of writing to customers found to be part of botnets. I think this is an excellent idea. One of my servers was attacked by a botnet and I reported it to 6 networks, all but one never even replied to my abuse reports. No wonder bot nets can get so huge if administrators do not do anything to halt the spread.

Local Foreigner

As George Lucas announces Star War will be re-released on Blue Ray I ask myself do I need another copy? As a child the star wars films were my favourite. I nearly wore out the original VHS copies, and when the special editions were released I bought the box set. Then when the DVD editions were released I bought them too. Since then the new films came out and have somewhat damaged my enthusiasm for the entire project. Given I hope to soon upgrade my home entertainment somewhat from the old Sony CRT TV of my parents to something a bit more modern getting a blue ray player is certainly on the agenda. I guess I will end up buying them in the end just to enjoy watching the X-wings fly around in High Definition.

I spoke to Martin in the week, Marks stag do clashes with Paul's party so unfortunately I wont be able to go. Its a real pig to miss it would have really enjoyed it. Especially as the wedding has moved meaning Kath and I wont be attending. I mentioned to Martin that we missed the Slayradio gathering, we went to the first one (that listeners attended)  in 2005, would like to go back there one day.

On a related retro note I saw this floppy disk holder on deviant art It is jus tthe job for holding all those retro games, I think its really nicely done

Monday, August 09, 2010

Man Research

Ever wonder why we have strict gun laws? Look no further than this idiot to see why

Sunday, August 08, 2010

The Captain

Today marked 2 years to the day since I completed on my house purchase. I lot has changed in that time, the biggest thing for me was meeting my girlfriend Kath. Though she lives in Poland and I am in the UK somehow we have managed to see enough of each other to have a meaningful relationship.
We have just spend the last two weeks together, during which time we have managed to visit Sheffield, Liverpool, and Wales.

Sheffield
I picked Kath up from Doncaster airport on Saturday 24th July. From Doncaster we headed for Sheffield, walking round enjoying the Winter Gardens. We arrived in Sheffield at about 8.30 to find a line of teenagers (mostly girls) queuing up for some concert going on in the city. First stop was breakfast at Cafe Nero where we enjoyed a nice coffee and a Panini. Fulling full we had a wonder thought the Winter Gardens, then wondered around the city to the Cathedral.

We drove back taking the scenic route via snake pass.

Liverpool
Liverpool  has a special place for Kath and I. It was the first place we went together after I picked Kath up from the airport. We had a really good time there looking around, was just as Liverpool one opened.

There was a Picasso exhibition at Tate Liverpool we wanted to see so we headed to Liverpool. We arrived around lunch time so started with a  meal at Haha bar and grill in the Albert Docks.
Then a short stroll around the Dock before heading into the Tate for the exhibition. The Gallery was really good mainly focussing on the influences of the war and cold war. I never realised that Picasso was a committed communist and peace activist. When visiting the Picasso museum in Barcelona these items were oddly omitted. Its really worth the entry price if you are in Liverpool.

After the gallery we took a walk to see the three graces, took some nice photos. I managed to get a couple of Kath sunning herself, it made her laugh then we took a few silly pictures. We then strolled to Liverpool one. Its a really nice shopping centre I like the blend of open and green space, much preferable to the Trafford Centre.

Having browsed some shops we took a walk to the Cathedral via China Town. We were having trouble finding the Cathedral which is a bit crazy given its absolutely enormous. They were closing up as we walked in but we managed to have a quick look by heading in the exit ;) Its certainly a very impressive structure. Walking back via St James Gardens we stopped for a coffee where we were treated to a cheeky pigeon trying to steal food!

Beginning Polish

Kath (and her Polish friends) have been trying to teach me some Polish phrases.

Yes
Tak

No
Nie

GOOD DAY
dzień dobry

GOOD NIGHT
dobranoc

BEAUTIFUL KATH
piękna Kasia

HUG ME
przytul mnie

PLEASE
proszę

THANK YOU
dziękuję

WOMAN! beer!
kobieto piwo!

woman blowjob
KOBIETO LODA!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Skeletons

I inherited my home phone number from someone else and despite going onto telephone preference (and having the number for 8 months I regularly get calls for the previous owner. Today I got home to find not a message but a text message waiting, it read "Just to tell you Pat has died"! I would hate to think what sort of person decides text messages are the best way to break such bad news. I felt like calling back, but perhaps they are grieving so maybe best not.

Today hasn't been the best day for me, I am in the process of re-mortgaging and I got a call to inform me that my house was not valued high enough to make the 75% loan to value (which gets the best rate). So now I need to either find another £2850 (£2000 to make up the difference and £850 fee) or take a hit on the interest rate. On a positive moment it still means my house is worth a lot more than I paid for it, just not enough more.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

FUTURE SOUL SONG

I have seen two films recently. First one was up in the air a film about corporate downsizer Ryan Bingham [George Clooney], a man who spends his entire life commuting between companies where his only job is to tell people they are no longer required. Enjoying the Freedom of his job Ryan has no ties to the real world, spending as little time as possible in his tiny lonely apartment. A new employee at the company, and his sisters weeding threatens to change him forever.

Kath and I watched the film simultaneously so we could talk about it later.  I really enjoyed the journey of Ryan allowing some people into his single serving life.

Last night I went to the Cinema with Martina to watch Inception. Harking back to the the age old idea idea that watching a film is like a shared dream Nolan attempts to pull the viewer deeper into a dream state. A slick film, delving deep into our ideas of reality. At the end of the 90s there were a number of films along these lines including the Matrix, Existenz Dark City and the 13th Floor. Inception adds a new twist in that Dom Cobb [Leonardo DiCaprio] is a memory thief, creating dream spaces in order to enter targets minds and steal they memories. Sort of like Johnny Mnemonic who actually joins into the memory stream.

Martina made an excellent point that Nolan is a very literal director. A lot of the dialogue exists seemingly to explain to the viewer exactly what is happening. I felt that Ariadne character seems to exist as a foil to allow Cobb to explain himself. The use of the elevator where Cobb's secrets were stored in the basement was also a bit predictable. Actually I found it very hard to hear the dialogue because the pounding oppressive music. I found that the visuals were stunning, the action sequences impeccably complex and I walked out of the cinema with a head full of questions about the film.

Post 1000

I have been slightly intimidated by this post, one thousand times I have sat tapping away on my computer thinking about life, love, the future and the past. I dont think I have ever put so much effort over such a long period into anything else. Starting with my journal on Slashdot in 2002 then moving to blogger it marks 9 years of writing.

This blog charts some biggest highs, crashing back to earth, late night drunken rants. At times I have written things that have literally caused relationships to break down, and strained friendships to breaking point. You might ask why carry on with something that can cause so much pain. I suppose the answer is somewhere in between the catharsis I get from the release of putting my thoughts on paper and the ego trip of publishing something, even if it is only a blog.

Next week Kath is arriving for two weeks. I cannot wait to see her again, we are going to Wales for a few days to get away from it all. I will be amazing to spend time together, its a very difficult time we spend apart. Using phone calls and skype to bridge the gap is good, but nothing like the real thing.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

C.R.E.A.M

I needed to get a webpage to focus on the first field, without knowing what the first field would be, I found this website. It neatly shows how to focus on the first field in a form using a simple piece of JQuery, awesome!

Crimewave

Talking of Fightclub there was an interesting article in the Independent. Starting out as a rebuttal that men are a dying species Christina Patterson goes on to describe a "whole sub-species of men that nobody wants". I wonder if they would make good space monkeys?

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

France 24 Mistake

France 24 Breaking news, actually Netherlands secured a spot in the 2010 World Cup final with a 3-2 victory over Uruguay not Spain, wonder what match the reporter was watching?

Flashback

Yesterday morning when I arrived at work there were some guys putting up new sign-age on the an empty unit in the paddock. When I left the office to go home there was a film crew outside filming the unit. I assumed that it was for some sort of advertising. This morning however the unit is once again empty, the only signs of its use were part of a logo sill taped over one of the signs. I wonder what it was filmed for?

I have been reading the novel Fight Club Having loved the film I finally thought I would get around to reading the book, only 11 years on :D In many ways I am disappointed by the book. The film basically distilled the ideas presented by the book, taking some of the best lines of dialogue and the main scenes. However the two play out in very different ways, in the book the narrator is far more involved in the various acts of Project Mayhem which I think lessen the eventual realisation the he is in fact the same person as Tyler Durden.


Also of note, check out the different packaging for the versions of the film. the original DVD features both Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, though Nortan is very much in the background. Whereas the updated Blue Ray release features only Edward Norton.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Breeze

Last week was unusually hectic work wise so I had a little bit of a chill out over the weekend. Starting Friday night Phil came round, and we played some Call of Duty Modern Warefare 2. I was actually hopeless but we managed to get a few promotions.

Saturday I got out in the garden, cut down a couple of trees and removed some of the vegetation at the back of the garden. I filled my green bin and had a boot load for the tip. Still load to do though. In the evening I headed round to Bruce's for a BBQ. After which we watched a couple of films, an older one rise of the footsoldier. It is a kind of strange film which follows the life of East end football hooligan type Carlton Leech, then becomes a who dunnit of the gangland execution of Pat Tate, Tony Tucker. After that we watched Harry Brown, another British film about crime. Michael Caine plays a retired marine who goes on a train of retribution following the death of his wife and violent murder of his only remaining friend. I found it very similar to Clint Eastwood's Grand Torino, only in the Eastwood film the conclusion is more satisfying, and I would almost say less Hollywood than Harry Brown.

Sunday I went to help Jo and Holly on the allotment. A couple of hours of weeding left me feeling tired and covered in cuts from brambles. It was quite good fun though, and by the time I left you could really appreciate the difference in the vegetation. Lots less weeds around the trees. Holly suggested going for aday out while Kath is over, which hopefully we can arrange, maybe a day out in Castleton if the weather holds.

I went for a swim then chatted to Kath for a for hours before bed. We are both excited that she will soon be here again.

10 Years of .Net

Sometimes news announcements make me feel old, I still think of .net as shiny and new, but its now been around for 10 years!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Rest my chemistry

I have worked on and looked after systems for over a decade, in that time I have seen many security breaches. They have ranged from serious taking out an entire school network for a couple of days, to defacement on a webpage. Each time different factors took their toll.

The most recent attack was against the lan party website. A vulnerability in the content management system E107 allowed an attacker to upload a script file to my site. A file "fwriteq.php" a modified version of a php example file. When a remote attack to request the page using a specific URL the page outputted a huge amount of junk traffic towards an IP address given in the request string.

The weird thing about it was that it created UDP datagrams. In response I cleaned up the site and altered the firewall to block outgoing traffic of type UDP on port 80 as this is invariably junk.

I went through the logs and found the command and control IP which were sending in the requests for traffic and then emailed the abuse contact. BT owned 2 of them and I received no response (another reason not to recommend them). One of them was a linode box, they replied and asked for more details which I sent on to them.

Monday, June 28, 2010

One Day

It has been a very tiring weekend. The weather was phenomenal, warm sunny and dry. Saturday I had a job to do, the partition fence is mostly rotten. Speaking to my neighbours they offered to split the cost if I would go and get the panels. 6'x5' Fence panels wont fit into a Ford Focus, fortunately I know a man with a van, Nick. He took me in the week to Stax where the cheapest panels cost £15 + Vat. There were pre treated but in a very light stain, so I decided to coat them in Cuprinol Shed & Fence Preserver in Acorn Brown. I spent the morning painting the panels the plan being for my dad to help me slot them into place. This should have been easy at the [concrete] fence posts were a standard width. Unfortunately one of the posts has moved a little so the first panel I tried to place didn't fit and I ended up scratching my leg on a rose while trying to position it. We slotted in the other panels and tried in vane to move the concrete post, I tried pushing, hitting it the a hammer but it was solid.

In the end after many hours I called Nick and once again he came and helped me out. He sawed 15mm off the edge, no mean feet given the amount of wood at the edge. It was a bit tight but we manhandled it into place, hurrah!
As it was getting late I invited Nick to share a dinner of stir fry. We sat in the garden enjoying the evening air chatting about life, enjoying a beer.

Sunday I invited my parents and Grandma around for a barbecue. Before they arrived I had to do some work though releasing some new software for the website. It took the majority of the morning, I had just enough time to quickly hoover and start preparing for my parents. I prepared a salad with rocket, pepper and tomato. Then grilled some burgers, chicken and sausage on the barbecue. It was all very tasty, after the food my gran did he usual trick of taking over the TV. So songs of praise won out against the England match. Probably best given the drubbing they received.

Mum and I played with Cocoa, brushing out her knots. I don't think she knew what to do with herself in the heat.

In the evening I went for a swim to cool down, then watched the first episode of the new Top Gear. Then I finished off the go live following the results of testing.

I went to bed feeling tired, but took the receiver and talked to Kath. Not quite the same as falling asleep together, but lovely to hear her voice before falling asleep.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Problem with Cisco Connect

I had difficult connecting to a site using Windows VPN on a machine which also had  the Cisco VPN Client. They wouldn't play ball together at all. I had been connecting by going into Windows Service manager and stopping the "Cisco Systems, Inc. VPN Service" this enabled me to connect to my Windows site. I finally stumbled upon the answer! Right click on the Cisco client in the windows task bar and disable the option "Stateful Firewall Always on". After doing so I can be connected to both either VPN (or even both at the same time).

X-rayted pin-up calendar

Saw this on The Register quite amazing lengths to go for advertising I hope it wasn't all one model getting zapped.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The law is an ass

This story on the BBC website about a Scottish women jailed for 5 years for the possession of a prohibited weapon. The weapon a Czech-made pistol dating back to about 1927 was a spoil of war brought home by her grandfather. There was no ammunition and no suspicion that she intended to use the item as anything other than an artefact, so how are the public protected by her 5 year incarceration? Suerly a fine, or a suspended sentance would be far more appropriate. Unfortunately the sentence is a mandated one so the judge had little latitude to allow leniency, to me it make s mockery of the legal system. Surely this sort of law is intended to put away gang members not Grandmothers. She will spend the same amount of time in prison as the guidelines suggest for a rapist.
Stories like this make me very nervous about the politicisation of the judicial service, what we need is balance examining cases in detail not putting in place mandatory sentences which lead to useless prison sentences.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

I'll hold my breath

Friday night went to give blood after work. First time I have managed to make a donation for about a year. It was difficult while I worked in Macclesfield, much easier now the office has moved to Handforth. As part of the donation I was asked if I would consider being a platelet donor. Apparently A type blood has a great antigen in for platelets, I agreed so they took an extra sample.

After the donation I chilled out for a bit then got picked up by Nick. We went firstly to the Governors picking up  Gilly and Big Col en route. We had a good chat in the governors, about holidays, hangovers and girlfriends. Then Nick went off to pick up Ian; he arrived by train in Stockport after doing a job in London. He has really been working out, it has been a while since I last saw him, and the transformation was quite stark. I wish I could do that sort of training, but with work and looking after the house and cat I can only manage a few times a week not enough to get to that sort of physique.

Time was up at The Governors at 12 so we headed to the Penny Black for another couple of pints. I have never been in there before. I was full of young guys I felt a little bit old! However it was cheap so can't complain too strongly.

I must have drunk a lot because I had the hangover from hell Saturday morning. I basically could barely function all morning just sat around drank coffee and juice playing computer games. Phil popped round about 2, I was still rough, he gave me a media sender so I can hook up a TV in my bedroom. Would be nice to be able to veg out to TV some days. He got a spare set for a job so I got them, awesome! I just need a controller so I can change channel on the Virgin box remotely, oh and another TV!

Today I did some gardening, cut the hedge, and pulled out some weeds. I even got a few more plants, its starting to look a bit more garden like, rather than a big mess. Still got a huge task of sorting out the back of the garden at some point. I also need a new fencing panel as my neighbours were none too impressed about Cocoa frolicking in their garden.

I went to the gym to finish up the weekend, next to make dinner and get though some of the ironing pile, I guess I am living the dream!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Turn It Up

I went to the gym for a swim this evening. I had a secondary motive, while there yesterday I managed to leave my ipod. The battery died while I was working out and not having any pockets I put it into the drinks holder. Unfortunately I forgot it, and in all honesty didn't expect to see it again. I was pleasantly surprised when the girl on reception handed it to me; I guess I should have some faith in human nature afterall.

I saw Martin and Martin at the gym yesterday working out. Its kind of the only place I see them these days, there and the lan. Strange really I used to see a lot of Martin but these days I hardly know him at all. Weird how people move in and out of your life, not so long ago I thought that Kasia was my future, then that fell apart, then I met Kath and she changed everything. For the first time there was someone who supported me, and somehow we seem better together than apart, and even though the distance between  us is great we couldn't be closer in spirit.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Obstacle 1

Three not worthy events already today, firstly last night I helped Paul put the new wordpress based version of his website live. I set him up with wordpress so he could have more control over publishing the website content and so far he seems very happy. I have helped out with a few tweaks to get him up and running. I really like what he has done, feels a lot more like a his own site now.

Secondly the new iphone has finally been officially announced, should arrive here June 24th. Apple have simultaneously been able to made it thinner, faster, improve the screen and battery life and keep it looking fresh. The new screen look incredible giving over 300dpi it will be difficult to see the pixels! Awesome, I must have one!

Finally and not important for the same reasons, I got a phone call from MBNA to ask if I had made a credit card application. I haven't, so that means some fraudster decided to use my details. Not very nice to be used in that way.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Radar detector

The heat meant it was hard to sleep, then the cat decided to join us. So after the lack of sleep we decided to have a lazy morning.

We made a lovely breakfast of croissants and strawberry's with yoghurt; it looked so tasty spread out on the table that Kath took a photography and posted it to her Facebook. It was very tasty :)

After relaxing and playing with Cocoa we went out to Wilmslow garden centre and bought my mum a hanging basket. Unfortunately she was out when we popped into my parents, so I hung it out the back ready for her return. My dad was working on my old room, he is going to turn it into a home office.

Bruce was hosting a BBQ in the evening, picking up Phil on route we headed round. It had been a glorious day, but the evening started to cloud over. Mercifully the rain held off until after we had finished. As usual with a Bruce bbq there was plenty of food, Nina had made a salad and a birthday cake for Bruce. Stephen was in attendance too, Lindsey and Trevor didn't make it as she had bad hay fever.

Bruce lit up, the coals he bought from Costco burned incredibly powerfully, so powerfully in fact that the wooden side table on the BBQ split! I burned the first wave of food to a crisp not able to find a cooler place on the grill. I was more successful with the other meat, the lamb kebabs, chicken and second round of sausages turning out really well.

After the burgers assorted meats it was time for the cake. Nina had made a lovely coffee cake, it was really tasty. Then the rain started to come down so we hot footed it inside to shelter and have a coffee before heading home.

Kath and I had a sit on the sofa to aid digestion and spend the final few hours together before I had to drive her to the airport and back to Poland again. It has been an amazing weekend as awesome the time we spend together is so special.

Atlas

I managed to persuade Kath to come  and help me do some shopping. I needed to get some summer clothes and I am no good at shopping. We went to John Lewis as I had a voucher to use up. I ended up getting some light trousers, some casual shorts and a nice new shirt. Shopping is much more palatable when done with Kath.

After our adventures shopping we got back to our house and eat a chicken salad. Kath had prepared, it was really tasty with mushrooms, pepper, and rocket.

The plan for the evening was to go to the Stockport beer festival as part of Phil and Bruces' 30th birthday celebations. Kath and I took the train to Stockport narrowly avoiding a downpour as we walked into Edgely park the heavens opened. Phil and Caroline arrived a few minutes afterwards their brolly dripping.  We met up by the entrance grabbed a couple of beers then went out to the stand. Sitting chatting and drinking. I bought myself and Kath half pint glasses so we could enjoy as many different beers.

Phil was sporting a very nice new jacket his mum and sister got for him. I had got him a case of Hahn premium an Australian beer we loved while out in Australia.  According to Beers of Europe they no longer export it and I bought one of the last batch they have. Caroline had also bought Phil an Australian themed basket of goods (including Bundaberg ginger beer, and Timtams) so he can have a real Australian themed evening.

I tried a variety of different beers from the oddly tasty espresso beer to Ginger Tom, some were good some were bad not many were memorable. It was a really enjoyable evening though sat outside drinking and chatting. Joe and Holly turned up as did a few of their friends who I know from the lan bash.

Toward the end of the evening while I was buying a drink Kath got caught by a group of guys. There was a Polish labourer and an English guy who by all accounts was married to a Pole. He wanted to practise his Polish the Polish guy couldn't believe Kath had come to the UK for me.

The beer festival wound up at 11, good think really most of the kegs were running dry. To finish the evening we headed to the Kantipur for a curry. I had the spicy ginger, it was as usual very good. The garlic narn was a little too garlic for my liking though being covered with shards of garlic.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Crazy People

It seems that the idiom that the average Englishman is one rant away from rage. I got back to my car after doing some shopping at Sainsburys Cheadle Hulme.

I was inside the lines of the parking box, it was actually the other car who was right upto the edge. I had no issue getting out of the car;but given the high fat content of the shopping. Which included burgers, rolls ice cream I am guessing that the author was pretty fat.

Common People

I picked Kath up from Doncaster airport at 7.45 yesterday. I took me nearly two hours to get there as I got stuck behind a truck, I kinda wish that the M67 went where it was suppose to go.
We were hungry and as Doncaster is essentially an industrial park with some houses attached; we decided to take an impromptu trip to Sheffield.
I stopped at one of the many park and ride places Nunnery Square and paid £4 to park and for the tram ticket. Once on the tram I found that the ticket didn't cover Kath so it was another £1.40 each way for her. Next time I would recommend parking in one of the many city centre car parks because to me the park and ride represented very poor value for a day trip.
Once in Sheffield centre though the picture started to get more rosy. They have extensively gentrified the centre. We had a wonder round, enjoyed a coffee at Cafe Nero. There was an food festival on but it was a little too hot for watching. Instead we walked to the Cathedral had another coffee outside a little cafe, was a beautiful scene under the blue ski next to the Cathedral.
Walking back into the centre went through the winter gardens, have a browse round the galleries inside. I really enjoyed the digital art exhibition, Kath liked the collection of knifes and implements made in Sheffield over time.
We had lunch al fresco in the centre at Ha Ha bar and grill. I have a fish, Kath had a chicken burger, at £6 it was very good value.
 We drove home over the snake pass, on such a summer day the views were stunning.
My parents treated us to dinner, there was a early diner promotion on at the La Quila. It has been a few years since we have been there, it used to be a popular vibrant place, but this evening there were hardly anybody in. The offer were poppadoms, a choice of starters, and a choice of any standard curry for £8.99. the starters were a choice of either sheek kebab, samosa, onion bargy or shami kebab. I tried the shami kebab is was very tasty. For the main curry Kath and I had a lamb madrass, my parents both had chicken jalfresi.
The madrass sauce was tasty and hot, but the lamb was rather fatty and chewy. I would have been upset to pay full price, certainly I feel the place has gone downhill a lot.
After the meal my parents went home and Kath and I sat outside in the garden enjoying the warm evening, drink a beer, was a great day together.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Homeopathy; what's the harm?

Quite a lot by the looks of it. I intensely stand pseudo science "alternative solutions". Generally I find them an alternative to commend sense and logic.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Wish I stayed

Dropped off Kath at the airport this morning. It is always so difficult to say goodbye.

She arrived on Friday, I picked her up at 7.30am from the airport. We headed straight for my house so Kath could meet Cocoa. Fortunately they got on really well together. Kath was enchanted with Cocoa, describing the was she walked around the house as enchanting and elegant.

We went to Waitrose to get in some shopping, I was planning to make a nice meal for us. Initially I found a recipe for Spaghetti with hot-smoked salmon, rocket & capers. However while shopping we decided to make a few changes, adding bacon and prawn and substituting the spaghetti for linguine. I served it with garlic bread and an Italian style tomato, mozzarella salad drizzled with Olive oil. We also had a bottle of Boschendal Shiraz, it was very tasty.

After the meal we relaxed on the sofa and watched An Education. It was an reasonable film, about a young girl in the 1960 who ambitions to goto Oxford are nearly dashed. It was well acted and written upto the ending seemed a little hurried and open.

Kath and I went for a wonder around Wilmslow in the afternoon. Popping into a few shops enjoying the sunshine. We had a coffee and a sandwich in Cafe Nero, was very tasty. We also took a stop into Wilmslow garden centre to get a present for Nina. We decide to buy her a Bonsai plant as they looked very pretty. I got myself another Catius to the one Holy bought me company.

Last night we headed out for a meal with Nina, Bruce, Phil and Caroline; To celebrate Nina&39;s upcoming birthday on Monday. Nina chose Bellinis in Cheadle. We started off with an a mix of garlic bread, Calamaris rings, ribs, mushrooms. For my main meal I had a steak stuffed with mozzarella and Parma ham with a creamy sauce. It was very taste, and filling. I would recommend the restaurant for the food, the actual place is a bit cramped and noisy, not somewhere for an intimate dinner but great for a party with friends like this was excellent.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Thursday, April 29, 2010

How many hungry weasels could your body feed?

How many hungry weasels could your body feed?

Created by Oatmeal

Pretty little ditty

I am sat watching the leaders debate with my new pet. On Friday I got a call from my mum, it went along the lines of, "you want a cat to keep you company don't you". Just under a week later and I now live with Coco, a long haired Persian cat. She is actually a really nice kitty, she follows me around the house sitting next to me while I watch TV. Sometimes she even sits on my lap while I use my computer. He previous owners had several cats and they didn't get along with Coco. She prefers to be the only cat, so now she lives here with me. I think I have seen more of my mum in the last few days than since I moved out, she likes to come round to pet the kitty.

Not only do I have a new cat but I also started restocking my fish tank. I got a shoal of Zebra Danio a small hardy fish that should help get the tank started off. I am planning to have quite a lot of small colourful fish. I wanted to get some Neons and Tetras but they prefer a mature tank, so I need to build up to them slowly.

Tomorrow I am off to Poland to see Kath I cant wait to see her again.

I hate Steam :@

It was the lan yesterday, and I had decided that it would be nice to play Modern Warfare 2. As I am pretty cheap I saw a copy on Amazon marketplace £15 cheaper than brand new so I thought why not. I have bought games in the past once they are installed who cares if it was new or not.

However once again steam ruined things for me. Steam is an on-line game delivery service and it seems the distributors Activision choose Steam as the security mechanism. Steam requires the internet to work correctly, which causes problem at the lans were we don't have an internet connection. It used to be insurmountable but as internet dongles become more prevalent there are ways around it.

On installing the game I was asked to enter the code I did so, it was rejected as a duplicate. OK I thought well there must be a reset process, so I looked it up. I had to send the invoice and a scan of the code (printed on the manual) with my Steam ID written above. I did all this only to be told by steam they did not support used games suppliers. So in a stroke steam have killed the used game market, at least for steam game, nice.

Fortunately after contacting the Amazon seller I managed to get a refund.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Dinner WIth Becky

Wednesday night Becky invited my round to her completed house to have a peek and eat some dinner.

I walked round, as my dad has borrowed my car due to having managed to get a contracting job.

I walked the quickest route which took me from the suburbia of Handforth through the rather incongruous for Wilmslow council estate. Emerging back to suburbia with the gated community of the Villas.

Her house is a small mews set on The Villas estate, I never realised how far back the state went and I was ready for something to eat by the time I made it there. I had a good luck round, she had decorated it in her own style, extravagant. I was most taken by the bedroom with its mirrored furniture. Overall a nice tidy place, I think it suits her well

She made a dinner of Thai curry and fragrant rice, it was very tasty. We had a long chat afterwards it was all very sociable and relaxing.

I walked home this time around the main road avoiding the Colshaw estate.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Caller ID

I just got a call on my mobile phone, I looked at the caller, and hit the ring silently option so it would go to voicemail. Reminded me how much we take changes in technology for granted. I was already thinking about this as last night I watched Electric dreams. Basically a family lived a decade in a week having to live as people would in the 80s. They were given similar technology. Was funny to see the son playing with a BBC Mirco typing in code, reminded me of my youth.

Ten years ago I didn't have a mobile phone, ten years before that my parents had an old rotary dial phone funny how things change, would never have imagined being able to see who was calling me.

Also curious is the fact its a glorious day outside but all flights in the UK are grounded because of volcanic ash in the atmosphere.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

8-Bit Trip

Swedish band, Rymdreglage, spent more than 1,500 hours moving Lego bricks for its third music video, 8-Bit Trip. This hypnotic video is a beautiful homage to old-school C64 games and 8-bit music.

Friday, April 09, 2010

The Bucket

I spoke to Kath on the phone last night, I was nearly falling asleep but it was great to hear her voice. I really miss her already, its going to be a long few weeks before I visit her in Poland.
Apparently we will meet up with her friends and either go looking at the sights of Warsaw or head off on her friends Mike's sail boat, either sounds nice I can hardly wait.

After I hung up I went to finish the washing up and I saw a fox idly walking through my neighbours garden, basking in the star light. I stepped outside to take a peek. It didn't run away at first but lingered on the driveway. Pretty surreal moment.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Input Out

I stopped subscribing to the Economist a year ago, a lack of time (and money), meant I wasnt really getting any value out the subscription. Since then every so often they send me a copy of intelligent life, which is a nice magazine, though I would not buy it (unless someone hands me a big pay rise).

There were afew stories which caught my eye, first was the history of news. The permese is we live in a post news age where news escencially propogates across television and the internet, repackages by various sites. Where PR agents and publisists essencially procuce the news news. An example of this is Newsbeat on Radio one which is so short it escencially a few sounsd bites, or single view of news.

I find it all very depressing that we seem to have shrugged off journalism in favor of sensationalism and populism. Everytime I log into my hotmail account I get to see the joys of MSN, view the awful slide shows of the X best / worsed cars / dressed / some other fad.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

On Some Faraway Beach

Had to work yesterday which was something of a pain. Our American developer was over in the UK so we met in a meeting room at the Britannia hotel in Offerton. I had been dreading it but it was actually a very productive and useful day. Our ex developer joined us to go over some work, being in the same room was very helpful.
Afterwards we went to the pub so Martin could catch the West Ham game, I stayed for the first half, but wanted to get back to watch the Rugby.
England were at times exciting to watch scoring the only try. Unfortunately as usual they were ill disciplined and gave away stupid penalties. Ending in a frustrating 12-10 loss to France crowning them as a Gran Slam winners.
Phil and Caroline came round for a drink and a chat. The had been out for an Italian meal in Poynton, sounded very nice.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Pi Day

Yesterday was Pi Day (at least if you write the date in American format MM DD YYYY) 3142010. In celebration Martina invited me round for dinner, and some of her apple pie. It was very tasty.
Pi Pie

We chatted a lot about searching for jobs, the dishonesty of recruitment consultants, and the general insanity of the job market.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

isn't that worth fighting for, isn't that worth dying for

I had a night of films this evening. Starting with a release from last year I watched Pandorum. It is a tense psychological thriller set on board a spaceship. I liked the idea, of the characters waking up with no memories. The cinematography was brilliant, but the pacing was a bit off the characters running to save the ship from nuclear disaster.

Next up was the 2003 release, Matrix Reloaded. Rather like the Phantom Menace, I couldn't wait to see it when I did though I walked out disappointed. I forgot how ridiculous the Freeway scene was. It is amazing was so over the top, I cant imagine even David Cameron would actually build several miles of Freeway at several million per mile just to create a scene.

I remember reading a review after the Matrix said the directors saw Charlies Angels. They believed that it copied the Matrix so much, it made them wan to make a film which couldn't be copied. Which they did really no one has tried to do bullet time on such a scale as say the scene where Neo does battle with the Frenchman's henchmen. I guess it was that overambition that lets the Matrix sequels down. There were so many ideas and they tried to explore so many of them that ultimately you end up with unintelligible scenes like Neo meeting the Architect.

The final film of the evening was from the end of the 90's ExistenZ. One thing I really notice now when I see a film from the 90 is that unlike today the actors look a bit more like people rather than looking like the spend their lives in the gym. ExistenZ explores the ideas of alternate realities, how our reality is defined by our mind. The Matrix tried the same thing but I think David Cronenberg takes it to the depths.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Zeppelin

Finally got the my blog ported to blogger website. It has been a bit of a journey, I still need to upgrade the template and change a few more settings. You might also notice that the URL has changes from http://www.johncooke.info/blog to http://blog.johncooke.info Thats he way blogger want it to be set up.

Had a few issued with the feeds over the few days, just in case anyone subscribes via RSS the feed name has changed so please update your settings.

For now I am staying with blogger I want to see what I can get out of it, and switching to wordpress presented a while different set of problems.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Beautiful day without you

As you might have notices blog has moved (for the time being) to blogger.com so I now have the wonderful (sic) blogsearch and next button displayed at the top, cheers google. I am debating whether to switch to a self hosted Wordpress installation or not, the URL shouldn't change again though.

Not much been happening recently, I am something of a cash flow crisis at the moment, have to watch every penny until I can get things turned around, of lots of nights spent at home, or at the gym.

Kath has arranged to make the journey here over Easter. I cant wait to see her again, we speak everyday on Skype or the phone but it is a pale imitation to being with her. I usually send her pictures of my dinner so she can ensure I am taking care of myself. Fortunately my culinary skills have improved greatly since I moved out. She has become one of the most important and precious things in my life, the pain of separation is well worth the moment we spend together.

Workwise I have been working hard, did a massive update on works website last night which actually appears to have worked quite well, hurrah. I despair at my company though, how so much effort can give so little return, and the same mistakes can be allowed to be repeated just boggles my mind.

I cant believe how petty some people out there are, in the last couple of months evertime I put out my paper recycling bag for collection, when I return home the bag is gone. Now I can believe once that it blew away, but this week there wasn't any wind on Wednesday. Which means either one of my neighbours thinks its funny to steal or, or worse they are so weak minded that they think its better to steal than contact the council. Newsflash, one phonecall to the rather nice sounding lady at the council office and they will give you a new one, they are already costed into the council tax bill FFS!