Friday, November 23

The Holidays Are Coming

Yes indeed, with Christmas just around the corner, I can finally say it's starting to feel like Christmas, you may ask why. Well, that's simple, tonight for the first time I have seen the Coca Cola 'Holidays Are Coming' advert, as much as I dislike Coca Cola, I have to admit, that advert always gets me in the festive spirit. And just in case you're wondering what advert I mean, it's this one:

Thursday, November 8

What did you during the war Grandad?

ON the SFX forums a thread was started in the discussions forum about what your Grandad did during the war. This has been a very interesting thread, seeing the different stories, it reminded me of a school assignment I had once, to find out what a grandparent did during the war. For this, I asked my paternal grandfather, and had a very long account of his time in the Merchant Navy, alas, my memory being what it is, I can't really remember much of it now, apart from thinking how brave he must have been to go on this practically unarmed ships under constant threat of attack from u-boats and enemy warships. How scary it must have been at times, in the dark crossing the english channel, carrying essential supplies for the war effort.

I for one, will be remembering on Sunday at 11:00, all those who served and who serve today, all those who gave their lives defending this country and our values. I ask you to please spare a couple of minutes from your lives and pause to think of those men and women who have died for our freedom.

Tuesday, October 30

A bad week so far

At the weekend I developed a cold, and not feeling too well for most of sunday, decided to stay home from work Monday, so not really too good a start to the week.

This morning things went from bad to complete crap. Got myself up and ready as usual, left the flat to go get my bike only to find it has been stolen. Whoever has stolen it, has had to force the wall post/securing for bikes from the wall and they've taken this along with my bike (obviously I had a good lock as they've done this instead of just breaking the lock). So yeah, a real crap morning.

Spent some time on the phone to the police and then the insurance company, it looks as if the bike is covered, so hopefully will get something from that. As for the police, well there's probably little they can do, but will wait and see what the officer assigned my case says when they get in touch.

In the meantime, I've printed off a flyer to put up in the lobby of the flats where we live, hopefully someone saw or heard something over the weekend. At the very least it will act as a warning to the other people that use the storage room.

Tuesday, October 23

Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon

I switched to linux sometime ago, opting for the popular Ubuntu OS, version 6.10 (the 6.10 indicates year and month of release, so it October 2006) They have had a couple of updates since then, as they have a 6 month release cycle, but opted to stay with 6.10 as it worked reasonably well with my laptop, just a couple of problems, mainly to do with proprietary firmware/drivers. But with the release of 7.10 - Gutsy Gubbon, and some fancy new visuals I decided to upgrade.

As I was still on 6.10 I couldn’t just upgrade to 7.10 using the updates manager, so I downloaded the live cd iso, burned this to disk and gave it a try. This is when the graphics failed me, for whatever reason the main desktop screen wouldn’t appear, and instead I was left with a black/blank screen, thinking this was due to my laptop being to old to run the newer os, I went back and tried to upgrade to 7.04, but for whatever reason this didn’t work. After searching round the net I found others having similar problems, and the one suggestion that worked for me, was running the install from the “Safe graphics mode” on the live cd, this worked fine and after about half an hour last night I was up and running in Ubuntu 7.10.

Overall, it’s simply been tidied up, some smarter graphics/visual effects, and an improved way to install non-free firmware (Nvidia drivers). The first major improvement I’ve noticed is when using my 320gb external hard drive, in the older version I had to mount the drive manually using the terminal command, now with 7.10 it’s automatically detected, not only that, but 7.10 also gives me access to my Windows XP partition without me having to go through some long winded convoluted setting up (may be exaggerating there).

So far, I’ve got to say it’s well worth the upgrade, it’s looks nice and shiny, and simply works, something that I’ve never been able to say about XP, which still gives me no end of headaches. I think this report by Rupert Goodwins on Zdnet is pretty damn good, and to quote the guy:

“So here's the funny thing. I've used Windows since 1.0. I've lived through the bad times of Windows/386 and ME, and the good times of NT 3.51 and 2K. I know XP if not backwards, then with a degree of familiarity that only middle-aged co-dependents can afford each other. Along the way, I've dallied with many other operating systems on many other platforms - but never with Unix and only lately with Linux.

Then how come I'm so much more at home with Ubuntu than Vista? It boils down to one abiding impression: Ubuntu goes out of its way to get out of your way, even if it doesn't succeed all the time. Vista goes out of its way to be Vista and enforce the Vista way. You must conform regardless of the implications”

I think that about sums up Linux perfectly, it simply works, making life as easy and simple as possible.

Sunday, October 21

London Sunrise

This is one of the reasons I'm really enjoying cycling in London each day, the sunrise can be quite glorious some days.

Tuesday, October 9

We have a Wii

We have our Wii. It arrived last Friday, upon arrival C phoned me at work and simply said Wiiiiiiiiiii, of course it simply didn’t click and I thought she was just being silly, as usual, but then of course when she told me it had arrived I couldn’t wait to get home set it up and try it out. Which I did in short order after we’d done our shopping. Was nice and easy to set up and nicely straightforward to connect to the internet too. Of course we only had Wii Sports, which came with the console. But personally, I quite like the sports games provided, except for Baseball and Golf.

On Saturday we had my parents round for dinner, and decided we might as well have some fun with the Wii so had ourselves a mini bowling tournament, think even my parents enjoyed playing it, which is something as they don’t usually like “computer games”.

I think that’s part (a big part mind) of the attraction of the Wii, it’s something anyone can play and enjoy, even those who don’t like the more traditional adventure/action/driving games. It has something for everyone, and is something of a party piece.

Of course, I couldn’t resist buying another game other the weekend, Resident Evil 4, I simply love the Resi Evil series of games, and am loving this one too. There are a few other games I’d love to have, but they will have to go on my Christmas wish list (yes I’ve already started one of those).

Wednesday, September 12

New Toy(s)

With C’s mobile phone contract up with Orange it was time for a new phone, and we found an excellent deal on Phones 4 U. A Samsung U600 18 month contract with Orange, 14 months half price line rental plus a free Nintendo Wii. So of course we ordered it, and now I’m jealous, it’s such a wonderful looking phone, so shiny and slim, I did offer to let her have my Sony K800i, but she’s having none of it.

Well at least next month we should receive our free Wii, then I can beat her at Tennis and Bowling.


In a bid to save money, and partly due to the tube strikes of last week, I’ve started cycling in London. From Fenchurch Street Station to where I work. It surprised me just how quick it is to cycle the 2.5km (didn’t know how far it was myself, but that’s what the websites say). Taking around 15mins. This is some 10mins quicker than taking the bus, and if you include the 10mins you normally have to wait for a bus as well, actually cuts a good 15-20mins off my journey times. Add to this the fact that by cycling in central London, I will be saving around £800 in travel expenses a year, and everything seems great, not only will I be saving money, I’ll be improving my overall fitness.

However, now we come to the stumbling block, train companies do not/will not allow you take bikes on their trains during the rush hour, whilst I can understand this, surely it makes sense to have exceptions on 2 or 3 trains in the morning and evening rush hour. Though even worse is the train company I use, c2c, who make an exception in the morning rush hour, but not in the evening rush hour, that makes perfect sense, let people into London in the morning, but don’t let them home, well done people. These policies are in conflict with Transport For London and the Mayors office, both of whom are publicly trying to get more and more people to cycle, yet if they don’t consult with and put pressure on the train operators all their good work will count for nothing as no one will be able to get in or out of London during the rush hour. The only exceptions they do make are for folding bikes, but these can cost a small fortune for a decent one, and the only company that seems to make proper folding mountain/road bikes is Dahon, with prices starting from £330.