Tuesday, 24 September 2013

I wonder if other guys with responsibility feel the same?

As though you can never get it right for everyone, no matter what you do? And even if you're trying to walk with integrity, both for God & others, it's like there's lose-lose situations not entirely of your own making.

How nice it would be to get it right, all of the time for everyone.

Finally got my plate washer sorted

That's the bit of kit I was talking about yesterday. Makes me think of Rodney Copperbottom's father, reading the title back again.

Took the case apart again this morning for a proper evaluation inside, and it seemed it good nick apart from a bolt being loose. Looked it over afterward and found an electrical integrity check label dated apparently 1986. No wonder it looks dated. But it works OK now, in a slightly faffy fashion as befits stuff that was designed before the era of decent computer control and by a company who new how to make things work well, but not how to make them smart and tidy.

Instructions are still available online (I am SO grateful) and I've learned how to program it, more or less, but with a 1 line display that can manage about 12 characters, it's like trying to paint your hallway through the letterbox.

Now I just have to find room for it (and the other kit that's arriving over the next couple of weeks).

But this week is very strange.

I was working so hard last week: work stuff, church stuff etc that on Friday after I passed over the final set of results it felt like I was on holiday. Really. And these last 2 days I've been doing odds & ends, catching up, not focussing. Tomorrow I commence the clean-up operation to rack up all the samples from the previous 2 weeks for storage, then write up the results. Maybe I'll even manage some lab work of my own by the end of the week.

Monday, 23 September 2013

I've been quite content not to buy stuff recently.

So why do I want to go on a spree right now? Very curious.

In case you wonder: I'd quite like to try a tablet computer, mostly so I can have something to read in bed without the light on (the Kobo is e-ink, and a phone is too small) and in the hope Chris will pick it up out of curiosity and learn to use Android a little so we can one day think about a phone with a little more functionality built in. There have been some silly-cheap offers and I've even had a couple in the 'shopping basket' before shutting the site down.

And there are some tiny effects pedals that sound a little different from what I have and would make organising the pedal board a lot easier.

I don't need any of this stuff. I DO NEED to buy some plane tickets soon, but I don't need more toys.

OTOH it's been nice to not go shopping this weekend, and instead to eat meat from the freezer etc.

Anyway, back to cleaning up some manky, dirty used equipment in the lab.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Have you ever noticed

How written prayers seem to feel the need to approach communication with God like a cross between an instruction manual and an essay on medieval philosophy? What ever happened to a simple 'thanks God'.

It's a slow morning, sermon prep is not inspirational today and I'm terribly afraid of saying the same things over again.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

I do believe.

That intro could mean so many, many things. However in this particular case, I just meant to say that I seem to have run out of the adrenaline that's been keeping me going the last couple of days, and I'm ready for a nap now. The down side is, now the flap seems to have passed, keeping going at the ordinary level stuff.

Monday, 16 September 2013

I'm working hard to stay away from Justdeleteme.com

I'd like to ditch facebook & Google+, but they're too immediately useful, particualarly as FB is the main source of info about Ben as he drives across the US.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Talking of financial things :p

Chris's beetle needs a new drivers side rear window mechanism. Cost is about the same as a weeks holiday for 2 somewhere warm or one person to fly to Canada. Nuts. Don't believe people who tell you VWs are better made or more reliable than other 'lesser' makes.

Also looking at buying more lab kit, but reading the small print in descriptions is so important, and I've just managed to not buy something that seemed like a good deal - except replacing the missing parts would more than double the cost.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Ding dong the witch is dead.

To borrow a phrase: I've finally closed my paypal account.

Paypal seemed great in the beginning, really convenient, helpful on both sides. Then fees started increasing and all the regulatory stuff came in, and finally I exceeded a total of £1600 or so passing through the account and requests for information became REALLY intrusive.

So I ignored it.

But tonight I received an email advising me about some changes to Ts & Cs, and following these through I found it was possible to close my account. Not, of course, until I had entered additional personal information to remove the limitation that had been placed on it, but once that was done and half a dozen "Do you really want to close your account?" windows and "Paypal is really useful - are you SURE you want to close your account" windows it finally accepted that I did and, in theory, closed the account.

Beware zombie PP accounts!

I understand the need for banks to track people, but if I have the choice between one bank and another then I'll pick the one in the nearest high street every time, because there are real people I can go and talk with in there. Online banking is wonderfully convenient, and as far as I'm concerned, utterly insecure and dangerous. The last crisis demonstrated how shonky and insecure the traditional banks were too, but give me a physical presence and long track record of survival every time over 'virtual' arrangement.

This reminds me of another phrase: In God we trust, all others pay cash.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Eat up your left-overs

One of the odd things about Ben being away is that we have LOADS of left-overs. There was a time when I'd have happily just eaten his portion too - and got away with it - but these days I try to contain the otherwise inevitable growth, and have controlled my appetite.

I don't know if it will make us more economical or not, but it's certainly making food go a long way. Yesterday evening we ate the leftover jacket potatoes from the bring & share at the chapel: Chris wasn't hungry and I didn't really mind re-heated potties & Tuna. I do feel like I owe myself a good meal though, and it's going to have to be steak tomorrow night, I reckon, probably with pasta and green pesto.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Do you ever wonder about people's business models?

Just looking up flights to Canada for July 2014, came across the most incredible bargain - if you don't mind suffering a little. Turkish Airways through Skyscanner, £329 return London to Vancouver. The catch is that it's Turkish Airways, therefore routed through Istanbul. An outbound from Gatwick, return to Heathrow.

Amazing price, incredibly daft route.

I love tech - I hate tech, part trois.

The church laptop is now running Pear Linux 7 on my spare Western 320Gb HDD. Best of all, songpro (the presentation software for words) installed with only modest fiddling & runs fine (crisper than before if anything) under WINE simulating W7. The data from the old HDD is being migrated across as  type at the stunning transfer rate of 1Mb/sec. That's a 5 hour transfer for 18Gb then.

Out of slight laziness I popped the western drive straight in, booted up and then updated the OS. It's a little naughty because the drive is encrypted, and the machine will only read the drive if you enter the password first. Also it means that the drive can only be read after booting - it cannot be removed and data recovered (like I'm reading the original Windows disc) so if it falls over then that's the end if it isn't backed up.

It might discourage oiks from borrowing the machine though.

Running Pear on this machine gives me an interesting change to compare the interface with W7 that was still in use Thursday. I'd say pear offers a much less mungy, pastel coloured and indistinct interface than W7. It's a little too OSX these days for may taste (not that you could mistake the 2) but it's crisper and clearer to use.


Major fail. When connected to an projector the graphics settings would only allow the laptop monitor to be mirrored or to make the external display the main display - no presentation facility. Then starting Songpro with the projector mirrored caused a blank background (so no control of audio playback).


Welcome back Windows.

Friday, 6 September 2013

OK, this IS an IT blog ATM.

You may not be paranoid, but this browser looks interesting.

A question I'm starting to ask myself is "what would I do differently on the internet if I knew the world was watching?". Mostly the answer is "the same as I do now". Which then begs the question about whether privacy actually matters at all, and in many ways it doesn't.

Loaves and fishes?

Last night at church I had a time of worship all planned, songs queued up etc on the laptop, only for it to refuse to start.

August has been a pretty horrible month for me, spiritually really, lots of steps backwards, few forwards, just hanging on wondering how to keep going and do the stuff I needed to do. So with little expectation I sat down at dinner, asked God to give me something for the evening and just thought I heard Psalm 24 and 32. Read through, OK, some good stuff there, but where does it go from this?

So the meeting last night started with a prayer, then I read Ps 32 and said a few words before throwing things open to the rest of the few gathered. And God just multiplied it. We got almost an hour's discussion & bible study from a few verses, and the good bit was that I needed to really say very little.

Sure, facilitating this kind of thing is part of my gifting, but y'know, I've lead plenty of things that didn't seem anointed and fell flat in 2 min. I'll take this as the grace of God, where He built on the little I could bring, rather than a tour de force by a slightly numpty Toni with a busted computer.

p.s. I mis-spelled the title of this to begin with: Loves and fishes.

I love tech - I hate tech part deux, or how adverts nearly killed my computer.

Followers will know of my struggles with the Mac, poor software design, slow performance etc etc. It was a ridiculous situation where I had a dual-core 2GHz computer with 4Gb RAM and an SSD sweating over a few pages of The Register in Firefox, yet it would regularly bog down to the point where scrolling was a case of rolling the wheel or clicking & dragging, then waiting 15-20 sec before the page would move. From memory Opera also struggled similarly on some pages, though not others, but FF is my browser of choice. Safari - why would I want to use that?

Last week, while browsing the Harmony Central forum (which as small banner ads top & bottom) I rediscovered console-hell for the first time in a decade. For those who didn't use the internet until relatively recently, in the late 90s/early 2000s pr0n sites would run a little bit of javascript that would cause new windows to pop up from a host page that one might have landed on inadvertently. It was the days when we were mostly sweet and innocent, and those looking for the Oil Of Ulay cosmetics site (dailyfacial.com IIRC to tie in with their currect advertising program) were greeted with something entirely else if they used dailyfacials.com (WARNING - I have NO idea where either of those addresses go now, and it's probably nowhere good!). It was all a big hoot, this similar naming of websites (the White House home page was similarly affected) and the sole solution would be to exit the browser as quickly as one could, then re-start browsing from scratch, trying to stay away from the troublesome address.

Within a short time, if you were Firefox/Mozilla/Netscape or Opera, or much longer if you were Microsoft, you created a control that blocked pop up windows and Robert was pater's brother when next you made an error of judgement.

Now I ALWAYS run with pop-up blocking enables, though I notice that it doesn't always stop some sites with surveys and comments for blogs. However one of the ads from HC started opening new pages immediately, with focus on the new page, and then started playing audio, telling me about how I could get my finances in order (could be worse, but let's not go there) and each new page started the spiel in a new place, so it wasn't even in synch.

I cannot be that unusual, that I use FF on a Mac, so I have to wonder what these people were on? I'd rather burn down their business than take advice from them now.

So this afternoon I decided to follow up a couple of links from the weekly summary of The Register, and it's back to the stupid situation again of pages not scrolling, cooling fans running flat out etc etc, and it got me thinking. Is this ridiculous load on my computer down to the ads being served? Now I've made a deliberate policy of not filtering ads generally on web pages, because someone has to pay to run the sites I enjoy, and I don't really want the whole of the www becoming subscription-only, so I tolerate some advertising normally.

Anyway, off to Mozilla add-ons page, adblock edge (that removes even 'good' adverts) installed, following up their suggested pages to add further blocking options, close & re-open browser, open 6 pages from el Reg.

The fans stay quiet, scrolling remains responsive.

OK, so basically what I appear to have established is that ads served to my computer through the web pages I visited loaded it so hard that it simply became buried and couldn't cope. That. Is. Crazy. Don't people know the story of the golden goose?

So it's great that the macbook can still cope after all, but this situation is simply nuts. Maybe all the ads were flash-based (I know the ones on photobucket have been) and OSX simply can't cope with flash, but people have been detecting browser and OS for more than a decade. Surely it's not beyond the realms of competence to not serve flash-based ads to a Mac, if ads can be tailored to previous browsing history (suddenly everyone wants to offer me holidays in Canada).

I guess it's just a mix of greed and meanness. Looks like ads will stay blocked from now on.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Do not keep dropping laptops.

I love tech - I hate tech. Yeah, right.

The laptop we use for words and music at the chapel took at tumble this evening before we left home, went BSD but restarted a couple of times without trouble. Get to church, nada. Boot to recovery, step back & recover, nothing. Data is probably still present, so can recover, but no OS.

Looks like a reinstall is coming up shortly. Wonder if the original Windows 7 disc is available, or if it's all on a hidden partition that's now unusable? Looks like it could become a Linux laptop soon otherwise, and we'll use Lyricue for presentation. Maybe. Or songpro under WINE.

Guess I know where my 'spare' 320Gb HDD is going now.

I love tech - I hate tech

And this is true on many levels, as you'll know if you've read the blog much. I also struggle to control my internet appetite, and that's becoming a tolerate-hate relationship, but that wasn't what I was going to post about.

It seems that Barns and Nobel have dropped the price of their colour tablets to the point where they're actually great value - the 7" Nook HD is now pretty much the same price a Kobo E-Reader was 15 months ago at £79 for the 8GB version and the HD+ 9" is £129.

Thing is, our cash burn has been quite high these last months, with birthdays, holidays, replacement shower cabin, winter logs (hopefully happening shortly) and me just buying a few odds and ends for the pedalboard I've nearly finished building. So i see something like this, start wasting time, reading reviews, wondering 'what if' and then realising I don't need it. At all. Of course if someone would like to buy my little Twinhead H12Y laptop that might change, but for now I have as many computers and gadgets as I need, and absolutely no good reason to acquire more tech gear.

The replacement smartphone bought back in the spring was interesting as a mobile computing device, but I DO NOT want to live my connected life through a 4.3" window, no matter how high the resolution.

I love tech, but I also hate it.

We buy the stuff then 2 years, 4 years, 6 years later we have a pile of stuff laying round that cost loads, is worth nothing, but can't be thrown away because we sense it has some residual value even though it is effectively worthless. My old computer from 2 builds back is an example:

It still runs, I have windows 2000 and XP installed on different hard drives and I can play my old Mechwarrior games on it. But even though I don't do that, I still don't want to get rid of it. If I recall correctly it has an AMD Athlon XP1600 processor, a couple of Gb of RAM and a (then) decent graphics card. The silly lighting units have failed (and they prevented it booting for a while) but otherwise it's as fully functional as an 8-9 year old computer could be.

But I don't want to throw it away.

It's successor, that I build in 2007 and also resides upstairs, is again a fully functional computer (I should probably put LinuxliteOS on it, since that runs so well on the Twinhead lappy) but just a bit sluggish running recent web browsers. Heck, this Macbook, now nearly 5 years old and subject to multiple upgrades gets horribly sluggish when asked to run any web pages in Firefox that have graphics on them, or for that matter it just lags behind simply typing text into this blogger window, but I'm not replacing that yet - view this in the context of a friend with a Dell laptop bought at the same time, never reinstalled Windows Vista and it crawls now.

The present machine was donated because the power supply fried, and it was an otherwise decently spec'd machine, but that's been around 2 years (so it's 3 years old) and is starting to creak a little (maybe it's time to try LLOS on it?).

I love tech, love playing with stuff, learning stuff, whiling away endless hours fiddling with stuff. But it has become a burden, and I don't yet see a good way to release myself without simply ditching everything and just walking away except for business use. And that's not ideal because we will be effectively cutting all communications with so many people we know and care about.

I love tech, but it's such a demanding master that I hate tech.

And I watched a lot of people apparently spend all their waking lives on the internet, posting stuff one way or another. How has it affected them, I wonder? Many have cut back, barely post now. I wonder if that's the answer, and this aspect of all good things must be ended?

To rephrase a scripture "‘No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and the internet". The question only remains, does one HAVE to abandon or is control possible? Drawing the parallel the answer should be control, but can we put the monster back in its cage or is it easier to just eject it?

I should stay off here more.

The blog gets more hits when i don't post for a week than when I put fresh content up every day.


Are people coming over just to check their RSS feed is working?

Monday, 2 September 2013

So Olivia and Tom finally tied the knot!

I was going to say 'got knotted' but y'know, that's the kind of pun I always make.

This is one of my faves:

The rest can be found here.