Thursday, January 31, 2008


One on the weird and beautiful things about life is peoples constant capacity to surprise. Psychologist an anthropologists can predict the behaviour of the masses, prediction a specific persons actual behaviour in life verges on the impossible.

There is a point to my assertion, today I discovered I lost another reader today, fortunately its not a sad event, in fact in this case it is in a roundabout way a happy one. I met Sarah for lunch and she warned informed me that she no longer read my blog. It was a weird feeling, hard to explain. I am glad and upset at the same time. Clearly I spoke to her in a way through the internet but it nicer to make friends in the real world.

It is interesting to me that while some people like to read about themselves, others prefer to read only when they know that they wont be a playing a starring role. Sarah isn't the only person that has told me they prefer not to read about themselves so much so that it stopped the reading the blog all together. Part of my wants to be read, but this blog has morphed a lot since the early days when it was just for me, I am a little more careful about what I say. I wouldn't say its constrained me much, but perhaps I think twice about shooting my mouth off preferring sometimes to wait until the dust has settled.

How far is the Rectory to the Bollin Fee in Wilmslow?

According to Google this is one of the top questions people tap into google to find Cookies World, so being a helpful fellow,
How far is the Rectory to the Bollin Fee in Wilmslow?
0.06 Miles, walk out the door of the Bollin Fee, Cross the main road at the traffic lights, carry on down station road, the Rectory is first on the left.

Monday, January 28, 2008


Despite my worst fears I managed to make it through the day. In fact it was a lot better than I hoped for. I still had a hard day, but I tried hard to be civil to everyone and make it a more pleasant atmosphere. It worked to an extent, it didn't stop people from dumping work and the blame for things on me, regardless of whether it was my fault or not. 

This evening I did some Japanese study with Phil, I am starting to improve, we both are. There is a long way to go yet neither of us can successfully build complicated sentences and I still haven't been able to memorise the list of adjective Emi gave to us. After studying we went to the pub, Phil had been to a diving pool session last night and it started us reminiscing about diving in Australia. I was sat there remembering what a great time it was, I really think I should go back, go scuba diving, surfing and carousing on the streets of Sydney.

Black hole sun

Its been a pretty enjoyable weekend, though through it all I have been dreading one thing Monday morning. More about that later though, the weekend started with a trip to the cinema.
Martina invited me to go and see a film called Drawing Restraint 9 at the corner house theater in Manchester. Its an art house film starring Bjork, she also did the score. There is a little dialog the "action" takes place mostly on a Japanese whaling ship. Its all a little strange, but basically Bjork and another guy make a ritualistic sacrifice to cleanse the ship, its fine though, as they end up transforming into whales. Martina found it nice, I was mostly nonplussed.
Saturday, I went to the gym, restarted my program because I haven't really been going regularly for a while. It was good to get back into it though I really felt a little out of shape.
In the evening I met up with Phil, Paul, Pippa and Ian. Paul and Pippa were up for the night. They stopped off on their way to Edinburgh. We all went for a curry together, it was a really nice meal, we chilled out had a chat and enjoyed each others company. After the meal we went to Graze in Bramhall for a few drinks. Ian's friend Gilly joined us. It wasn't very busy so we had a chat and shared a few jokes. All in all a very pleasant evening.
Paul wanted to get back to Wollers house where he was staying for the night before he got back. He and Michelle had headed to Manchester to watch a play, Oscar Wild. It struck me as a very unwoller thing to do. We just arrived back before them. They seemed to enjoy the play, Woller was in high spirits.
Today [Sunday], I lazed around the house, cleanout the fish then went for a swim (at the swimming baths not in the fish tank!). I expected to meet up with Phil in the afternoon but he seemed busy with something. I think he went diving this evening, I was a bit annoyed he didn#39;t invited me but I suppose he is busy with his martial arts friends these days.
This evening Martina invited me round along with her French friends. They were good fun we played some games and ate dinner, it was enjoyable but very different to my English friends, I wanted to say English chums in an Anton De Cannes Eurotrash accent but it dosn't really work in a blog.
Anyway its late and I am sat blogging when i should be in bed, but I feel pretty depressed about work. I just feel betrayed, I think I have worked really hard but instead of a pat on the back I get lots more stress and moved to the crappiest desk int the office. Its pretty petty I know, but then why I am treated worse than all the in house staff? Why am I constantly questioned about things and given a larger workload? I better go to bed or Ill be fit for nothing tomorrow, I think I am going to speak to my boss in the morning and have a moan, I mean I feel really demotivated right now and I think its completely undeserved.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Jigsaw Falling Into Place

The more I think about things the more I realise most everything in life is a balancing act. We all try to find the right mix for ourselves, some of us focus on careers some on happiness, either choice is really a mixture. Very few people are totally business focussed to the point of missing out on the important things in life like friends and family. Yet that is my point and point of view in one, perhaps I am tainted by my own balance to consider friend and family the top of my agenda to the detriment of career (amongst other things).
I have been thinking about balance a lot recently, I think possibly because a few things are going on which affect mine. My dads illness has made me feel more vulnerable, when I see me parents ill it brings home to me my ultimate mortality. Combined with this is a more uncertain world, work is no longer the fixed target changes in the market and companies mean I no longer have so much of a safety net. Finally searching for a house, and thinking about changing my life to do so has made me focus a lot. Reconciling the idea that I will be more limited in so many ways, certainly I won't be able to take so many holidays is quite scary, its even more scary that the many practical concerns like having to pay all the bills and look after myself.
I made some bad decisions recently, I need to take back control of a few things that I have let slide I think I still have time to change and adapt, find some new balances.
On a more positive note I had a really nice lunch today, I met up with Sarah. She someone who has always been on the periphery of my circle of friends. I am sad that I didn't spend more time and get to know her, she proved to be very good company hopefully it will be the first of many lunch time diversion. The catalyst for our meeting proved to be her change of jobs placing her working life into central Wilmslow. She posed me an interesting question which got me thinking about the blog / life balance. She wondered if it was weird when people who didnt know me very well knew about my life via this blog. It was the first couple of times it happened, and especially when Patrick walked up to me and started talking to me as if I had known him for ages. I got used to it though and over time could start to tell who were reading me. The odd thing I noticed was my closest friends with whom I spend the most time with were the least likely too read me. At first I was a little hurt but then I realised I spend half my life talking to them its no wonder then dont want to read my random chatter as well.
This evening I spent a few hours trying hard to help my dad out with some software he wants to put out on the internet see it anyone is interested. Its something he started over 10 years ago, he even came runner up in a DTi competition but has never quiet finished. I tried my best to do something and who knows perhaps its still got potential, I hope so its pretty clever (if you need to cut gears). We struggle to work together though, I guess t because we are family but neither of us has any patients with each other, whereas we would both give someone else a chane we are the first to jump down each others throats./ Fortunately we can still get things done, on occasion, with a following wind.
On a final note well done to my friend K for passing her driving theory test, hope you'll be terrorising the streets of York soon.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Racing rats

It has been a long day, I woke up early this morning because I had agreed to go to Yoga with Martina. I was a bit of a random experience, she invited me ages go to this special 3 hours session I got steadily more worried as the day approached.
I met Martina and her house mate at her house at 9.30. Her house mate is another German, though she is somewhat older than Martina. I think she fitted the group much better than either of us. There was a class of about 36 people, it was all girls expect for me and one other man.
Yoga actually turned out to be a lot of fun, but very hard work. The first section was stretches and poses, they really got a sweat on and stretched muscles I didn't know I enjoyed the stretches and exercises, I found the meditation and relaxation OK but a little boring. Either I am incapable of transcending the thoughtful mind or I just find it impossible to free myself from the corporal being. It was a very interesting experience though, I was a little sad when the class ended, I walked by with Martina to her place, then she started backing so I bailed.

I the evening I went out with Phil, Andy Gilmore, Emily and her friend K for a meal. We were going to order Chinese but Emily thought we should go out into the big bad world for a change. So we headed out to the Printworks. The Printworks complex is only 10 minutes walk away, unfortunately it was pouring down and as we choose pretty much the busiest time of day for eating. We wondered from place to place being told the wait was at least 30 minutes, not what 5 hungry people want to hear.
Eventually we decided Chiquito it had the shortest queue and a wonderful offer on buckets of Corona. The meal was really enjoyable I had Chicken skewers which were really tasty. Emily ordered something which arrived on a hot sizzling plate, it looked really tasty only she had to manoeuvre it around, unknown to her the oven glove affair had a hole in it so she ended up burning her thumb. She then had to eat the meal with her left hand (easy for me not so much for her). We did complain but all the response we got was a pot of sour cream which was claimed (and seemed to) be a good ointment for burns; Photos here.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Poison Dart

Today was my third day working on the so called new projects. I am finding it a little difficult to adjust to both new working practises and learn a new programming language. The trouble is just at a time when I want to prove myself, I am forced to work a lot slower because I am ploughing into uncharted territory. I often the same when I start something new, at first there is a sense of fun because its new different and therefore interesting. Then I start to realise that all the tricks I have built up need to be relearned, modified or even forgotten to achieve anything new (so downside if the so called paradigm shift). Therefore it takes forever to do a simple task the new way. Actually that is not quiet correct, I usually find some things are more simple others more complex. In time I am sure I will grow to understand and work more productively but for now I am getting steadily more frustrated by a lack of progress. My second problem s slightly more serious, I have been pretty much left to my own devices, somehow I am supposed to get to a point where I will be able to support a piece of software which I currently have only limited access to. I feel a little bit at sea, I am not sure how to proceed. For the moment I have a task I can plough ahead with. At least to an extent without being an expert on the other software.

Due to all this work related frustration my mood was not the greatest. I had arranged to meet Martina for dinner so she could show me her accommodation, and so she could blag a lift home from Northern Moor. Fortunately she is a reasonable (if vegetarian) cook. We listened to Radiohead radio 1 take over, which was mostly good though I wasn't a fan of at least some of Thom's choices. Her new abode is very nice, a room in a detached house in Bramhall.
I took home a huge pile of CD I have been instructed to listen too, its going to take me the a while to work though them. At least its something to do while constructing my property searches.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Some Might Say

I went to see the mortgage advisor tonight, it was a very depressing meeting totting up where I spent my money (mostly on going out and holidays) then being given the hard sell on a range of insurance products. I began to wonder whether I can actually afford to have any sort of life, I suppose I will just have to change my habits at least for a few years until.
It's all very depressing but the old I get and the more used to my lifestyle the hard the sacrifice will be so I suppose I really need to make the jump now.
The trouble is with all the goings on and work recently I have really lost touch with property searches, I will have to start afresh later this week.
I have Japanese class tomorrow, I haven't looked at my books for a while, I tried tonight but I felt too tired to take it all in. I hope its not too tricky a lesson tomorrow!

Monday, January 14, 2008


For a long while I have pondered and tried to find an elegant way to backup my co-located server. I tried and failed with Amanda and several home-brew scripts. I finally stumbled across boxbackup.
Boxbackup is a multi platform network backup device. One system acts a a server to which clients (windows mac linux bsd) can connect to and backup files.
Boxbackup uses libsync (think rsync) to only synchronise files that have changed. Also because there is both a server and client agent its should be more efficient than rsync alone.
Security is assured through the use of Tsig certificates. Certificates are used to encrypt the data transmission and secure files as they are transferred.

Server Setup

There are Debian packages available here Download
then install
dpkg -i boxbackup-server_0.10-1~bpo.1_i386.deb
The debian installer didnt work out very well for me so I manually ran. Replace server1.example.tld with the name of your server.
bbstored-config /etc/boxbackup server1.example.tld bbstored
Change directory
cd /etc/boxbackup/bbstored
Create a certificate authority
bbstored-certs ca init
Sign the server key
bbstored-certs ca sign-server server1.example.tld-csr.pem
copy the certificates into the bbstored directory
cp ca/servers/server1.example.tld-cert.pem .
copy the server cert
ca/roots/clientCA.pem .
My server is behind a NAT firewall so I had to open port 2100 and edit /etc/boxbackup/bbstored.conf from
ListenAddresses = inet:server1.example.tld
ListenAddresses = inet:
Create a client account, each client is identified with a unique hex code 75AB59D
bbstoreaccounts create 75AB59D 0 20480M 20480M
The numbers with M following are the soft and hard limits for the amount of space on the server to allow for backups.
Start the server
/etc/init.d/boxbackup-server start

Client Setup

Log into the client computer, download boxbackup-client

and install
dpkg -i boxbackup-client_0.10-1~bpo.1_i386.deb
You will be prompted to let Debian guide you, it didn't work for me. Change to the boxconfig directory
cd /etc/boxbackup/bbackupd
and run the config generator
bbackupd-config /etc/boxbackup/ lazy 75AB59D server1.example.tld /var/bbackupd /home /var/www

The final entries are the directories to backup.
Copy 75AB59D-csr.pem to the main server /etc/boxbackup/bbstored/ and sign with your server certificate.
bbstored-certs ca sign 75AB59D-csr.pem
This will create 2 files ca/roots/serverCA.pem and ca/ clients/75AB59D-cert.pem. Copy these to the client in /etc/boxbackup/bbackupd/
Start the client
/etc/init.d/boxbackup-client start
Check its running
grep bb /var/log/syslog
You should see something like

Jan 14 22:53:54 client bbackupd[3540]: Starting daemon (config: /etc/boxbackup/bbackupd.conf) (version 0.10)
Jan 14 22:53:55 client bbackupd[3540]: Beginning scan of local files
Jan 14 22:53:55 beta bbackupd[3540]: Opening connection to server server1.example.tld...
Jan 14 22:53:56 beta bbackupd[3540]: Connection made, login successful

Good Luck!

Planet Telex

I woke up coughing this morning felt really awful, the boozing last night only served to further dent my immune system.
I eventually managed to drink enough fluids to rehydrate myself and get back on track.
Endo had invited me around to his place. He and Jo have been living there for a while but he has been busy redecorating. Apparently I missed the worse of the chaos. Having left Wilmslow they now live near Warrington, so it was just a 30 minute blast down the M56 (and some weird little roads thank goodness for GPS) and I arrived in the Cul-de-sac they now call home. I must admit I was impressed with his handy work its going to look ace when its done. The 46 inch plasma fitted to the wall and all the associated gear tucked away under the stairs. He did have a bit of an issue though we hung the tv turned it on and attempted to change the channel then realised the magic eye was hidden behind the panel he just cemented into place. He had to act as a human remote control.
We chatted and played some Unreal 3, Jo made dinner a really tasty prawn curry. She asked if I liked hot food and I replied yes. Little did I realise this meant I would be eating whole raw chillies it was a bit of a surprise nearly taking my head off. Still very tasty meal.
I left after nine and was going to have an early night, but I got a message from Ian he and Nick were in the Thieves neck so I joined them for last orders. Nick looked dreadful apparently has been struck down with the vomiting bug and only just recovered. I thought he was supposed to be in Thailand with Brie, but from the sounds of it things had taken a turn for the worst. Both he and Ian were celebrating being single. Apparently Ian briefly refreshed his carnal relations with one of his ex's he decided not to continue, a wise move I feel. From my own experiences it never really worked out going over the same ground again, its better to lok forward rather than back, YMMV.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Ever decreasing circles

I had to work today, it was pretty frustrating not least because the work I was doing didnt go very well. After all the travelling and feeling Ill I felt very unhappy. Fortunately I had a very good evening to look forward to. It was her birthday, though in her words her ages is decreasing each year now ;)
She had arranged a table at the Alderley Edge bar and grill for 9.30, but we arrived around 8.30 to grab a few drinks beforehand. The place was absolutely packed, we had a fight on to get to the bar. Including one really rude guy who simply refused to move. Fortunately and despite pulling his neck during his grading Phil found a way to circumvent him. Unfortunately his behaviour foreshadowed the night ahead.
Joining us were Bruce, Nina, Michelle, and several girls from the stables. The stable girls arrived, in a big group with a few extra boyfriends and random people tagging a long, giving how busy the bar and grill was this meant no chance of us all getting a seat. There was some stressing and they they all disappeared. I though it was a pretty poor thing to do turn up on mass then all go leaving in the end 4 spare seats. They said they were going to eat at Est Est Est across the road where they would meet us later. By the time we got there they had left.
We stood in the doorway of the bar and grill waiting as people arrived feeling squashed but enjoying a drink and a chat. Some acquaintance of Becky's called Joe arrived, he just popped in for a drink, and I think to meet Christian. He was interesting to chat to.
When we finally got out table, with the 4 empty seats on the end we ordered. The menu was a mix of dishes I had Thai fish cake to start and Malayan Style Chicken for a main. The service was truly appalling, we had to almost beg to get drinks the time between courses was shockingly long, they forgot part of Becky's meal and the waiters ignored us when I was trying to attract their attention, even ignoring me shouting at them when they were stood only a few feet away.. They added 10% service charge to the bill but we decided there was no way we would pay it. It was a shame really as the actual food was really good.
After the meal Bruce and Nina left but we headed to Est Est Est for a few more drinks and to mingle with the others. Things worked out slightly differently though, the girls from the stables had already left us to it and Becky's boyfriend the infamous Christians similarly failed to make an appearance. Having already decided to skip the meal and go out with his friends by the time we finished out meal he had disappeared to Stoke. Apparently he invited Becky but she didn't seem in the mood to travel there. Personally I thought it was pretty harsh for him to avoid her birthday.
I had a really good evening and she seemed to very much enjoy herself so that was the main thing. She got a few nice presents ate some good food and drank with friend, that is about as much as you can hope for really. There are some pictures available online here.
I have decided against making Alderley Edge a regular spot though. This might sound like sour grapes but I met an awful lot of people I disliked intently. I guess the affluence makes people used to getting their own way, both the bar and grill and Est Est Est were full of arrogant people. I realise making and having money is nice but do you really have to act like so arrogantly?

Saturday, January 12, 2008


It took me over 6 hours to get back from Essex, journeying though the driving rain at times so bad it was difficult to the road. The worst part of the journey though was the final part down the M6 I had only 3 junctions to go but the traffic virtually stopped moving meaning a few miles took over an hour. I felt incredibly drained by it all and was really glad to arrive home.
Having had only a limited connection to the internet during the week I had a lot of Facebook pokes, messages and email (mostly junk) to catch up on. One of my Facebook messages was rather intriguing, an old acquaintance contacted me to say shes now working nearby to me. I think it will be very interesting to meet up, and always nice to renew old friendships.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Away inBasivegas

Due to some work commitments I am spending the majority of this week in Essex. They have put me in a travel lodge (every expense spared!) and I cant be bothered shelling out the exorbitant prices for without net access most of this week.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Ski Photos

Photos from skiingPhotos from skiing

Apple Mail Bug

I tried to open Mail on my Powerbook earlier and it imediatly errored telling me that I had run out of space in my home directory. This was clearly rubbish as finder showed I had 15GB of free space.
After googling a bit I found out that if you delete "Home/Library/Mail/Envelope Index" and open mail it automatically rebuilds the mail index, and fixes the problem.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Vodafone suck!

I have been full of a cold today, so I stayed at home in the warm and had a play around with a few things. I found out that my phone has some interesting applications. Including the ability to upload photos directly to the Flickr photo sharing page. I spent about 3 hours messing with my phone trying to get the photos I took to be uploaded directly to my blog. I tried lots of different settings but only after searching Flickrs N-Series site did I find that Vodafone block Flickr. They don't make that fact clear, even leaving behind the options to set up an account, unfortunately the communication always fails. I tried directly browsing on the mobile internet and couldn't get to either. I finally realised I have been messing about trying to make it work in vain, very frustrating!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Year

Thanks to the last minute trip to the Alps I hadn't managed to arrange anything to celebrate New Years eve. I spoke to a few people who had various plans, Paul invited me to London, Ian was already on his way. To be honest after all the travelling for skiing I didn't fancy it. I spoke to Jo B he was going round to his neighbours for a house party. Bruce and Nina were off out for a meal, Nick and Brie were away, Becky was busy so for a while I was thinking I would spend the night at home.

Fortunately Andy G saved me, inviting Phil and I to join him and Emily at their flat. We reasoned that it wasn't worth paying the New Years Eve tax to go out. Given that the infamous 5th Avenue wanted £15 for entry we decided to stay at the flat. Watched Jool's Holland, there were some good acts, Paul McCartney and Kyle were good, as was Kate Nash.

As the last few minutes of 2007 drained away we moved out onto the balcony. Andy's apartment is right in the heart of the city, so we were able to watch the fireworks exploding in nearly every direction. Someone was even firing rockets from the roof of the building opposite. We watched one rocket arc lazily exploding midway down the structure. Emily brought out some sparklers which we lit and played with as the firework displays burned themselves out.

We moved inside once the displays had finished we played on the Wii, drank beer and eat snacks. It was a fun evening, I enjoyed the company, the banter and atmosphere was nice and relaxed. After the partying in Deux Alps it was nice to relax. We played Guitar Hero and Wario Ware, both games were really fun. Wario Ware is load of little mini games, its pretty surreal especially the "Form Baton" descriptions.

It'ts not really cold but raining here, a grey day in Manchester. Not the most promising start to the year, I suppose it is winter though. Phil and I stayed at the flat in sleeping bags. We started the day by making a huge fry up, just the ticket to absorbed all of the Budweiser consumed in last nights celebrations. After that we had a go on the Wii, trying out Trauma centre. Its a bit of a weird game, very Japanese you get to try your hand at being a doctor.