Archive for December, 2009

Happy New Year!

1208854_new_years_calendar_2No, I’m not here, but I’m forward thinking which means whilst you read this, I’m probably either drinking at a party, out and about (it’s two years today since I proposed to my now wife) or asleep at home.  Either which way, I’m not on my mac.

So what’s your new years resolution?  Mine is one of blogging and sustainability.  I’m going to make a lot of effort to make my life more green, especially with the forthcoming purchase of a new house (unless something changes over the next month) and the DIY renovations I’ll be making.   I’m going to make more effort to evolve the blog too.  Just you wait…

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Xbox, not really a self-sufficient post

imagesThis is neither a self-sufficiency post or a green post.

I don’t tend to play a lot of computer games any more.  My main gaming age was between the years of 8-16.  After that I started going out, meeting girls etc though I still did a bit of gaming at university, but it was social gaming, it was the years of the LAN (local area network) and now these days with high speed broadband access we’ve moved into the WAN gaming years – that’s Xbox live and the playstation equivilant.

As an ex-computer scientist (got the degree as proof) I loathe computers.  It’s a bit like if your mother catches you smoking and makes you smoke a whole packet (I’ve never smoked, but this is a metaphor).  I like computers, so where should my education take me but into computing, or more specific computer science.  It killed my love of computer games really, but recently Modern Warefare 2 came out, and my wife now claims to be a MW2 widow.

It’s a short lived fad I know, because I’ll loose interest like I usually do in games like this, but what has really got my goat and what this post is all about is problems.  I bought a console because I didn’t want problems.  I wanted to switch on a dedicated device, it would run, open the game, let me kill a few friends and then I can switch it off and watch some TV.  Which it has done rather sucessfully for a number of weeks.

Until now.

Now when I’m playing Mw2 at my first startup the game crashes outright when searching for a random game against random people.  I then reset (this is a repeatable error) and this time round I can connect to other random people.  Except my friends I want to play.  The ones I don’t want to play still work fine…

Xbox live support have so far had me testing my network connection (yes I’ve done that), check my ports (yes I do know what a network port is, I have a computer science degree dontcha know) then it _must_ be my network connection (no, it works the same on other peoples connection).  So last but not least I’m removing my online profile and reinstating it.   The problem persists and I ran out of time.  Aparently now it’s not my problem but all my friends problems! So they’ve got to delete their profile and reinstate it if they want to play me!  So I’ve asked nicely if they’ll do that and a couple will.  Hurrah.  But I bet it doesn’t change the problem.

My next issue is to completely delete my profile and reinstating it back where I started over a month ago.  That would annoy me beyond compare and quite frankly I’d never buy another xbox product ever again, so here’s hoping they can transfer my progress if it comes to that.  I’ll update this post just in case someone else is experiencing problems.

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1187307_summer_wine Yet again it seems the temperance movement are back biting at drinkers heals.  Ignore the fact we are massively over taxed on alcohol and currently we’ve got people whinging about how cheap a unit of alcohol is.

Alcohol problems are a big issue we shouldn’t ignore, but increasing prices don’t ever seem to have achieved anything apart from line the pockets of the government.

Apparently the old argument of giving children alcohol is bad.  This is not as clear cut as it sounds.  Give two situations 1.) little Johnny sitting down for a sunday lunch with a small glass of wine 2.) little Johnnys parents giving him a pack of alcopops and letting him go down the local park.

Ignoring the issue of responsible drinking, which is responsible parenting?  The root cause is not the drink, but the parenting and not the price of cheap alcohol.  Granted the issues in the south are not the same as those up north and it’ll be impossible to make one law for all, but the point is normalising kids to alcohol removes the mystery and stops them from overdoing it later in life.  It worked for my friends and I, but when the kids at university who’d never had the opportunity to have a drink at home were let off the leash, they were the first comotose on the floor and their friends (not far off it) were the ones who’d never seen a paraletic student and were the first on the phone to the ambulances that were needlessly called out.

Pricing alcohol has historically never had the required effect, it takes a social attitude change which is long term – not a quick fix to line the governments pockets.

Meanwhile my homebrew gets cheaper…

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Nothing like a bit of consumerism to get the blood pumping.  Of course in reality this has a lot to do with Gaming Theory – which I was reminded about last night by QI.  How does the charts work in gaming theory, well compare the music industry to the tobacco industry, granted one product allegidly gives you lung cancer, the other just persues you for damages in intellectual property for filesharing.  Both of which are guarenteed to give you a bad day.   But to answer my own question, each music promoter has to push equally hard spending hard cash to make sure their artist is in the top 40, be that through childrens TV, the now defunt TOTP, magazines etc, or x-factor.  They can’t stop because if they do, the other person takes home the bacon.  If they all stopped, everyone would have equal chance of business.  Sort of.

Then some group of internet people get fed up with listening to repackaged barf and decide to protest.  The promoter doesn’t really loose out here because Sony BMG still gets the same (if not increased) revenue, the artist will still get the same cash and less of this pretty much undeserved self hyped fame.  In the meantime Rage Against the Machine will get a bit more promotion hopefully helping yet another generation pick up the political torch.

And mostly, it’ll continue to annoy Simon Cowell.

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Refitting the kitchen

Apologies for my absence, but I’ve recently had a hernia operation which has kept me from doing anything of substance.  So it’s about time I focus more on the site.

Foam backed wallpaper.  Novamura.  God I hate that stuff.  Our kitchen was obviously wallpapered with love and attention.  It was seemingly cut perfectly to fit round window frames, boilers, even behind the fixed pipes and radiators.

Novamura was marketed in the 70’s as pasting the wall not the paper – its thickness and polystyrene backing meant it didn’t shrink once put on and there is various rumours that you could peel it back off and wash it in a washing machine.

Give it to a small child and they’d instantly stick their nails in it which it would never recover from. 

Three days later, we’ve almost managed to exterminate it from our kitchen.  It seems it works best for us if you steam it a bit so that it shrinks and becomes a little tougher and you can then peel it off in 2″ sections.  It’s horrible.

Most green kitchen ideas use the idea of sustainability and ask you to hand over cold hard cash.  It’s green profiteering.  We’re going down the route of removing the rubbish from our flat and reusing it, whilst using things like the cupboard shells stay in place and are freshened with a 2nd hand set of stylish reused cupboard fronts from ebay.  The taps will be refurbished and sold on ebay and given modern 2nd hand ones.   The cycle of reuse continues.

The Novamura will however end up in a landfill site.  The toxic chemicals in it and the wallpaper paste make it impossible to use in any other way and it was badly damaged and peeling off the walls, so I couldn’t leave it there evermore…

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