Wednesday, 19 October 2016
It doesn't really matter that much what phone I use, what car I drive or a bunch of other stuff, but they're good distractions for a while.
It's tempting to sign this post off as 'Marvin', so at least you know I still have a sense of humour.
Tuesday, 18 October 2016
In other news, the Microsoft Lumia 640 turned up today.
So it's a 5" phone (yikes) that feels slim, lighter than expected & neat. The back is a really good fit, but comes off OK without a fight, and although the phone doesn't have the presicion engineered feel of my carbon & metal RAZRi, it's still good. The Giffgaff SIM worked fine, since the phone is locked to O2 and Giffgaff share that network. Call quality is great, with pretty much landline quality from indoors on my settee, rather than having to go outside and STILL getting breakup - this is a PHONE phone, rather than a small tablet computer.
The screen is also nice, both in terms of clarity and of oleophobic coating to reduce smears, and the interface seems pleasantly fluid if quite unfamiliar, despite having Windows 8.1 (may have to migrate to W10 to stay current in the app store - give it a week). At this stage I'm not sold on the windows mobile experience, but there's the promise of good things to come if I persevere. There's also a 5200mAh external battery pack given away 'free' (but no charger - just a USB cable) with the phone, and fortunately I still have my Motorola charger. Hopefully battery life will be a couple of days at least.
In terms of storage there was just over 3Gb free from 8Gb basic memory, which is no worse than Android (no idea about iPhones, other than to hear 16Gb iPad owners complain about no useful space). There's all the kinds of tools you might expect to find if you were using a windows PC, which is handy in some ways, more complicated than it need be in others. My initial experience is that I don't actually like windows, but on a PC it just gets out of the way and lets me get on with life - hope this will be the same.
And I've 14 days to return it - one of the key reasons for buying online. Not that I expect to, but if I just can't get on with the interface then, in theory, there's a no-quibble guarantee they'll take it back.
But sofa so good.
Now, where's that micro-SD card that was supposed to arrive today?
Sunday, 16 October 2016
In the end it came down to a mix of low cost & size that made me go this way - £70 is a relatively small gamble for something I'm not sure about (Windows on a phone). The other options were a Moto G4 plus - great screen, nice camera, OK battery life, huge piece of plastic, Moto E3 - smaller & neater but laggy when actually *doing* stuff & not just flicking across desktops, iPhone 6 - much smaller and neater (IOS10 is enormously better than IOS6, which completely turned me off) but also relatively expensive and with poor battery life.
I'll report back whether the Lumia experience is good or bad later.
Saturday, 15 October 2016
The install took a couple of hours nstead of the usual 20min because I'b wated to partition the old drive to keep a usable windows install + data, and as the disc was a little fragmented there was a lot of file relocation going on. Also the codecs etc used for audio & movie playback weren't included on the disc for the first time I can remember, and they seemed to take about 20min to download even before the great disc shuffle had started. There were times when I wondered whether the install had failed, but there was data passing through the bus as illustrated by the light on the fron of the case, and I could feel the HDD writing when I touched the case.
One minor hiccup was having to instruct the sound card to switch outputs from the front headphone socket to the rear, using the command line and alsamixer command. I'd forgotten the need to do that last time, and it took a while to remember why sound was working.
This is planned to be a long term install, and I've been copying folders across from backup locations to the new desktop this morning, from where I'll use them. This PC used to be Ben's games machine (it's an old core 2 duo machine) and it struggles to run firefox these days, though Opera is pretty good. Likewise Chris's machine is about that age, grinding away with W10 now. She'soften frustrated because it always seems to want to download updates when she wants to use it. We may have to go to high speed broadband sooner rather than later.
Friday, 14 October 2016
That's not a problem.
The problem is that I'd like a phone similar to what I had: maybe a 4.5" to 4.7" screen with HD, similar 3-5 days with occasional use, slim and relatively pocketable, reasonable performance by current standards (an upgrade there!) decent mapping and navigation, reasonable camera.
Sadly, the market does not agree that this is a reasonable spec now. Everywhere it's phablets with screens as big as an E-Reader and 1 day battery life if I want anything with a reasonable specification. I've thought of joining the devil's ranks and buying an iPhone 5S or 6, but battery life is also less than ideal, performance somewhat lacking and that's a shed load of cash for last years (or the year or two before that) phone. And that's without having to cope with using Apple's most claustrophobic interface.
So I run in circles trying to decide what to do, not choosing anything because nothing is what works just right.
I've been looking at the Motorola G4 & G4 Plus: decent performance, great screen, good camera in the plus, fast charger (plus again) and not a bad price. But the thing is enormous, and even though it's not heavy, I couldn't imagine going for a run carrying one of those the way I did my RAZRi.
But then I keep coming back to a Lumia: cheap, smaller, but also with a reputation for unreliability and instability.
Then there's all those other phones out there.
And round we go in a circle again.
It's not like a lifelong commitment, but it IS a commitment for a couple of years, and one I want to get right.
Wednesday, 12 October 2016
It's like the last 35 years never happened, apparently.
Take the (silly) test here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/zyp8k7h
Sunday, 9 October 2016
Saturday, 8 October 2016
This morning I was pondering issues of faith, certainty and making rules. Rules have long been a part of Christianity, inherited nicely fro Judaism with a good stirring in of human nature. You know where you are with a rule - rules are solid and reliable, not leaving room for doubt.
So, having survived losing a child, we're now experiencing a young friend dying of cancer, slowly in front of her husband and children. It does some interesting things to faith, not seeing healing or recovery happen.
Of course I know the intellectual answers to situations like this, but they don't answer the emotional questions.
So we're in a state of some limbo, in many ways.
On a different note, the kitchen is now fitted, and I cooked our first meal there tonight after a day spent relocating, sorting and discarding much of our excess kit that's been accumulated over the years. Let me tell you that drawers are greatly over-rated when it comes to kitchen storage, because everything is HEAVY, and a 30kg limit isn't very much.
We've won some & lost some with this design. Space is arranged differently, and we have far more drawers than before, but very much less cupboard space. The built-in freezer is a little bigger, despite having only 3 trays & a pit in the bottom for freezing. The fridge is about the same, but with a slightly less convenient layout. Dishwasher seemes a couple of inches narrower (NOT expected) and runs fairly quietly, oven's wider and with less height.
Induction hob is a winner.
It's now official here - an electric hob can be as good as gas to cook on. Heating starts in moments instead of minutes, and when you turn off the heat, the heat goes off. We have a large non-stick frying pan that wouldn't get more than a little warm with the old halogen & ceramic hob, but tonight I fried on it for the first time. Also nice is that any spillages don't burn on, because then only thing getting heat from the hob is the pan.
We had a brief moment of frustration earlier, thinking the hob hadn't been connected, when in fact the touch controls required a finger pressed on the power on mark for a couple of seconds before starting. Once that was sussed then it was plain sailing, although the obviously electronic nature of the device is mildly dissappointing - touch controls everywhere, fans starting up when the power goes on etc. There's a lot to be said for simple kit, even though this works really well.
Wonder if it will last 26 years like the last one?
In the vein of replacing things, I'd wondered if we needed to replace the settees soon. Chris told me they weren't going anywhere because the place she normally sat had a Chris bottom hole shape in it. That caused considerable amusment between us.
I also need to replace my mobile phone. The RAZRi is nearly 4 years old, and has succumber to the fluctuating battery fault that got so many when they were upgraded to android 4.4. The old HTC Desire that was my first smartphone was still around, rooted by Ben & running Cyanogen Mildwild - managed to find a punched SIM card outer that would take my microSIM from the other phone & suddenly I'm back in business. Seems pretty slick considering the almost 6YO hardware.
We'll be moving Chris to a smartphone soon, from her old clamshell Nokia, and whatever she gets I'll probably also have for me so that I can help trouble-shoot for a while. I'd quite like a WinPho (probably a Microsoft 650) but tried a couple of budget androids this afternoon while shopping. I was quite surprised at how much better Android phones are now - when I last went looking, a Galaxy S3 was quite glitchy and not always smooth, while these were all pretty good.
Talking of moving stuff on, we came across Sarah's Virgin Mobile SIM card packaging this afternoon. She had her first phone about 14 years ago, and what a meal they made of selling you access to a mobile network then! Guess it was all part of selling the dream of mobile telephony at a time when everyone sat down to a PC. Now it all seems almost embarassingly obvious, but in those days a mobile was still somewhat special. And it wasn't even a long time ago.
We're both coughing well tonight - hope we can sleep. Chris has had a REALLY nasty cold this week and I may have just acquired her cough.
Sleep well internets.
Monday, 3 October 2016
Guess I shouldn't complain since at least we're getting some real scifi films made after such a long, dry period: Gravity, The Martian, Interstellar, Edge Of Tomorrow were all good and watchable, although Interstellar had a hokey weak ending. Now if only someone would make the Ringworld trilogy, and then the Known Space series, that would be great.
Today we 'celebrate' by having our kitchen torn out and living room filled with all the stuff that normally lives in the kitchen instead. Chris has a nasty cold, so I'm not sure whether we'll go down the microwave meals or dining out route tonight.
Yay us. ;-)
Tuesday, 27 September 2016
Friday, 23 September 2016
Went to bed, laid for an hour, got back up & finalised identifying kitchen appliances (yup, that's a fridge) for the refitted kitchen. Doing the redesign has been frustrating, with drawers only available in the width of units that we don't want or at different heights across different width units and too many faffy, fiddly factors.
We have a design that we can both agree on. Done. Probably.
Media is a funny thing.
One is that culture and interaction are being shaped by media consumption, to the point where as a non-TV watcher I am finding myself decreasingly able to connect with media presentations. Part of that is the generation Y concern for fluffy bunnies, inclusivity and the environment, but a much larger part is the manner of presentation. It feels all tense, urgent and yet the words and emotions used convey little of the meaning to me. It's a lot like sitting in a technical business meeting discussing quality standards for an area of business for which I have no knowledge or interest.
This was prompted by watching a bit of the latest version of Alpha videos last night. It just doesn't connect. But more than that, I'm finding the people that DO connect with that kind of thing being less and less able to communicate effectively to me.
Maybe the answer is to get a TV.
It feels like media is everywhere to be consumed.
That's not news at all, but what is different and increasingly so is the availability of copyright content EVERYWHERE to the point of blurring ownership to consumers.
I can watch videos on Amazon prime, streaming in DVD quality, and very nice it is too.
I watched 3 videos during our 10 hours of flying to Turkey and back.
I recently downloaded some TV programs from veoh that were unavailable from Youtube, and have found various sites that work as a streaming portal for almost every recent film one could wish for, and with no suggestion that one is breaking the law in the way that torrent users used to.
Apart from causing distress in the movie industry, it's going to be increasingly difficult for people to have a sense of copyright over digital content, if everywhere you go content is freely available whether a fee has been paid or not. I'm in several minds about the rightness or otherwise of all this because the rules governing this kind of content are relative and set by society, rather than clear and absolute, and the ground in this area is shifting. Curiously the BBC has changed the rules this month regarding streaming TV programs, and a license is now required to watch programs retrospectively. I wonder if this will help them or if the horse has not only bolted, but been caught, bought, sold & turned into glue. Never mind any stable doors.
Monday, 19 September 2016
Friday, 16 September 2016
I was going to say that this holiday has been conspicuous by the lack of forming friendships, but last year in Spain we didn't do so either except when re-connecting with our dear friends in Badajoz. Each time this trip we had just a couple of occasions to get to know people, like Juliette and Sanjiv at Ortakent or a couple of couples on the 2 day trip we've just completed to Ephesus & Pamukkale, and then we've gone separate ways. Interesting for me how one gets drawn to people, so with Juliette and Sanjiv, it turned out that they were Christians and there was an almost instant and natural connection, yet we didn't discover this until we said goodbye at the last minute.
Unlike many previous trips, I've not tried to blog this one through the time here, mostly because our room wasn't conducive to sitting down & writing and the wifi is a bit of a faff. We're actually sat out on our (tiny) balcony this morning because Chris had a tummy ache and we're just waiting in the cool for everything to be fine again. We'll probably head off to Golturkbuku in a while for a swim and lunch, before dinner tonight with Ben and some goodbyes.
Packing shouldn't be difficult - throw everything into the suitcases, carefully segregating clean & dirty (I have 2 un-worn tee shirts, a couple of pairs of pants (both European and American meaning) and lots of pairs of socks. Generally it's been too hot for socks, and I've been wearing an ancient pair of M&S leather deck shoes most of the time: loose enough to let air circulate, strong enough to walk around. Chris intentionally brought more than she could possibly wear in order to have options, so my few clean items will travel with her wardrobe.
Anyone interested in Ephesus?
Apparently there have been quite a few by roughly that name, but the Greco-Roman city is the one we all think of. It covers a very large area, and there's lots of ruins, but not too much in the way of really interesting buildings, and in all honesty, I'd call it disappointing after some of the places we've seen. The library of Celsus has spectacular frontage, the amphitheatre is colossal (seated 25,000) and the 'terraced houses' that are now under cover (extra fee to view) are probably the high point. There's some other interesting bits that haven't stuck in the mind especially, but those were the highlights. I keep comparing it with other places we've seen on this and other trips, and apart from sheer size, it isn't really that special *compared with* Pompeii, Herculaneum and Philippi. We've visited a couple of sites on our own this trip: Euromos and Iassos, that were smaller, but not much less interesting. On the second day of our 2 day trip, visiting Pamukkale and Heirapolis, the amphitheatre in Heirapolis was in much better condition (after re-assembly).
Generally archaeological sites in Turkey have been scruffier and with poor signage compared to other parts we've seen. TBH there's ruins everywhere, but they seem to consist of piles of shaped stones, tumbled and fallen, with little sense of what they once were. The region has suffered a lot of serious earthquakes, so perhaps that's entirely reasonable, but for a tourist it's less exciting. If you want exciting ruins then go to Italy or Greece (and most of the good stuff here has Greek origins, built on by the Romans anyway).
Chris is feeling better, so I think we're going to leave shortly. Later I'll do online-checkin & hopefully book some decent seats on the flights home.
Tuesday, 13 September 2016
Wonder if blogger for Android will work this time?
So we were ready for a nice early start, everything packed, only to find the carpark completely rammed and no way to get our car our. :-p
As with everything, the Turks have a very practical approach to motoring, but just like the car we saw on the main Bodrum highway, on its roof, it doesn't always work for everyone concerned.
Monday, 12 September 2016
We ate in a tiny place called Sheaniah's in Golturkbuku just round the coast from Torba, having already been there for lunch earlier in the week with Ben. According to the blurb on Google Turkbuku is normally crowded with film stars and athletes, and someone was trying to impress Chris (Christina) with having worked with Anthony Hopkins, failing sadly because she'd not heard of him. :-)
They were very friendly, even giving us turkish delight and cologne as part of their Bayram celebration for Eid, inviting us to see the house etc, though sadly we're unlikely to ever go back.
Friday, 9 September 2016
That post is presently 'publishing' from my phone, as it has been for the last 5 days, and written because we had actually seen someone wearing rocket powered boots, hovering over the Agean sea. It made other witty comments about activities going on that I've mostly forgotten now.
So we've been here for almost a week in the most westernised bit of Asia - Turkey is like India without the incredible grinding poverty, polytheism, respect for British things and iffy food. Considering how the nations of Greece and Turkey have their history and genetics woven so closely together, it's amazing that they should be so different. But even though the countryside is so very similar, Turkey *feels* quite different in a way that's hard to pin down. A few times, driving around, it's felt as though the scene unfolding in front of us had come from India and might have been something we'd see if we were travelling there.
Or it could be an over-active imagination.
We've travelled a bit now, with more journeys due soon to archaeological sites. Turkey certainly has a lot of ruins, though little of what we've seen so far has been handled sympathetically with the exception of the materials recovered from shipwrecks and displayed in Bodrum castle. Many of the sites have been plundered, sometimes for building materials in the case of the Halikarnassos Mausoleum, often for objects of antiquity to ship back to museums in Britain and other nations. So the Mausoleum is basically a hole in the ground with a small number of decorative artifacts strewn about, the remains of the great frieze presently being in the British Museum. The temple of Apollo at Didyma was much better, but there was much still missing. We will shortly try some of the less well known sites around Milus, Praen and Euromos.
It's been good to spend time with Ben, especially since he's taken the week off to be with us. His local knowledge has led us to a restaurant where one barbecues the food at the table, and another tonight at a place tucked away for locals, serving delicious grilled meats. Food at our hotel (we're half-board) has been patchy, with mediocre stuff some nights, nice stuff others, and eating out has given us a much more favourable view of Turkish cooking than otherwise. I am, however, slightly dodgy in the tummy, and wondering why.
Now - bedtime.
Tuesday, 30 August 2016
I'll throw no stones, but it should be making people stop in their tracks and ask "why is this happening in this nation?". To the best of my knowledge, few Americans have been killed as a result of foreign terrorists on American soil.
Saturday, 27 August 2016
Monday, 22 August 2016
Then, via the BBC I came across a blogpost suggesting that mediocrity was actually quite reasonable.
I have a suspicion that one appeals considerably more than the other. :-)
Felt sorry for the young chap, quite scuffed and bloody, and he came in, washed his wounds and I then took him to Banbury Horton hospital. His parents live in Yorkshire, so not exactly round the corner to look after him, and his GF was away, so again not able to provide help. He'd originally intended to ride back to Banbury, but was obviously concussed from the accident and not really in a condition to do so.
Thursday, 18 August 2016
Getting dell out for the work (next business day onsite) was a pain in the parts, having to go through online stuff first, then not being offered a number to call or a form that could be completed. Google sorted that, but I was quite cross by that point, but the chap in India with the temporary fake US accent was patient and polite. It was still better that Apple's return to base warranty, where you take stuff to the store an hour away, they demo that it doesn't work while telling you there's probably not a problem and then send stuff away on the proviso that you'll pay if they can't find a fault. If I ever bought another Mac at full price it would NOT be through Apple again.
Apparently this battery is starting to swell too. :-p
Tuesday, 16 August 2016
Sorry that's wrong.
The name was Eilidh. Apparently it's AyLee, like Hayley, but without the H.
Humans are a funny bunch, never sure whether they want to conform or stand out, and very often both at the same time. As an odd foreigner in the UK, I wish I felt less antipathy toward celtic pronunciations, or perhaps it's the German in me wanting to fight the illogicality of using letters to 'sound wrong' in a European language.
And now I've just remembered a couple of words in Swedish.
So what's logic got to do with language? :-)
Monday, 15 August 2016
Monday, 8 August 2016
I need to find a balance between doing the serious running that lets me do half-marathons while leaving me with pain and the sedentary lifestyle that's so pleasant but leaves me fat & gasping. There's the time factor too, and I feel less & less inclined to make effort except at those things where I can go mindlessly flat out, then stop & gasp a sort of recovery - working steadily is uncomfortable.
Aging bodies are curious, slightly disappointing things.
On a different note, we have a kitchen fitter coming over tonight to discuss changing things. I fitted the kitchen 26 years ago, and although it might last another 10 years, it's becoming scruffy and some things, including appliances, need replacing. So we've dived into the murky, complex world of the modern fitted kitchen, and as could be predicted, it's murky and complex. ;-)
Most staggering is the cost of worktops: >£1200 for 3 meters of Corian. >£2000 for 3 meters of walnut. On a forum discussing the cost of kitchens, one of the guys paid £5500 for 15 meters of granite worktop 10 years ago. I think we may be a little more economical than that, although I DO know various people that have had granite worktops fitted, but it's highly unlikely we'll be doing that!
The cost of the actual 'kitchen' - the units themselves - now seems trivial by comparison, and kitchens from the big suppliers all seem to be made to the same standard with similar construction methods almost regardless of pricepoint - certainly they all look incredibly similar. Gone are the nasty MFI doors (and many of them were quite nasty) but in their place are MDF mouldings, and the 'solid wood' doors also look more like they are made from MDF. Everything closes softly, drawers have sheet steel folded sides and every little nook, cranny and slot can have some kind of storage facility, that you could never imagine using, built in.
The connection with the first half of this post, is that I'm too achey now to want to kneel on the floor and fit a kitchen myself.