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


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