Friday, 27 February 2015

Funny how small things please.

For example, this week I replaced the Lexmark C540n laser printer that sat on my desk with another Samsung laser (CLP360, if you care) because the cost of keeping the Lexmark going was stupid and occasionally it would fail to pick up paper properly, requiring furcling around and restarts.

But it's not just having a new printer that makes the difference - this thing takes up half the volume of the Lexmark. Suddenly there's more space, a feeling of not being hemmed in and a pleasant airiness to my right. The Lexie was a bit of a beast when I got it, and after opening the box I had one of those "lummie - what am I going to do with that?" moments. Print quality was a step up from the last Sammie printer (and is better than this one) which made me forgive the bulk somewhat, but its appetite for toner was voracious compared to how much printing I actually did, and after 3 years it must have cost more than double the original purchase price in toner. Over all I reckon this cost me fully twice as much to run as the last colour Samsung.

So good riddance - I won't be missing Lexie one bit.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Kill apathy!

Just received by email:

"Here are FIVE HABITS that kill apathy and keep us flourishing in all the in-between-moments of life.  Click here for more"

 Sorry, but I can't be bothered to visit your web site.

Expedia can be impressive.

For various reasons it seemed like a good idea to pop their app on the phone a while back, though as I described recently when trying to actually book travel. it caused some frustration. However having just had another look while idling away a time of waiting, I discovered our recently booked itinerary was available in all its glory. There is little to beat actually carrying printed copies of documents, but having the electronic versions available 'live' could be incredibly useful.

I'm also reminded of our trip to Italy some years back, where our hotel had closed and we needed to re-book mid-trip. This would have been so useful then, though I hope we don't need to do that again.

Monday, 23 February 2015

I'm starting to realise what a potentially marvellous tool for travel google maps can be.

In September we're off for a few days to Osuna in Andalucia, southern Spain, so it seemed like a good idea to have a small 'explore' in anticipation. When looking at a map of an area, clicking on the name of a town or place will draw one in close, offering the options of either seeing local photos or using streetview to expore the area in question. It already feels like I know the area a little, and much of the area looks lovely in a dry, rocky and hilly way.

Very much looking forward to this trip now.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Ain't never been there, they tell me it's nice.

Thanks Joe (Walsh).

Looking forward to a step into the unknown later this year. Well, another one anyway.

Better brush up on my Spanish - where are my friends Olga and Ana when I need them?

On a completely different note, I've just re-opened my Facebook account (and already remembered why I suspended it) in order to remain in contact with various friends. Blog visits increased from around 80/day to 500 in less than 12 hours. Curious, and nothing to do with living people, I'm sure.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Chris has a new set of wheels.

Strictly speaking she needed a new set of tyres all round.

Estimating conservatively, though I won't buy budget brands any more because they are more expensive, I expect tyres to be £65-£70 each = £260 minimum for all corners. However a couple of the present wheels have been dropped in pot holes and bashed to bits to the point where they won't stay sealed properly and tyres are always going soft.

And they look manky.

So from Ebay, 4 decent original alloy bettle wheels + a spare steel, all with good tyres for £180. They are presently sat in the boot of my car, waiting to go home & be fitted. *Hopefully* they are all as per the description and pictures, and will make passing the MOT test next month quite painless.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Signs of spring

From a little lens testing while dodging the raindrops on Saturday morning.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

It is a little disconcerting

Actually more than a little. I read the phone number from the advert, dialled up (we still call it dialling, even though phones don't have dials any more) and a pleasant sounding female voice said

"Hello, Vag Shack, how can I help".

It was hard to think what to say next for a moment.

Eventually I made my enquiry and she promised to email me later, though it's been a couple of hours now, and I'm wondering if the answer wasn't in my favour.

An explanation might be good now too, before I really start saying something that could get me in trouble. Chris's beetle needs new tyres and the old steel rims are badly bashed in so that they leak air around the tyre bead. I'm looking for a used set of alloys with decent tyres on and this company sells parts for Volkswagen Audi Group cars. The company name is, I'm sure, a deliberate bit of word play, and many young guys have been very amused to buy car bits from them.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Anyone ever find themselves looking at stuff on ebay?

I just did, ended up why I'm looking at junk I don't even want, really.

I guess it's like being mouth-hungry after you've had a good meal. I have more guitars than I could ever need, ditto amps, effects pedals and music-related stuff. A greater variety of lenses for the camera would be nice, but will have to remain on hold for now.

Why do we find shopping interesting, bargains compelling? People are weird.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Well, things are moving forward.

A while back I alluded to pressing a 'big red button': I've volunteered to work in Sierra Leone in the Ebola diagnostic lab. There's a training course at the beginning of March, and based on how that goes I may then get a place on one of the teams out there. We'll have to wait & see. My brother is already well ahead of me - he flies out next week to begin his tour of duty.

Despite all the scare stories surrounding ebola, I don't believe this to be especially dangerous - it will just involve handling samples in laboratory conditions. The worst aspects are likely to be the heat and requirement that volunteers do not have social contact (in case they get infected with something transmissible).

We'll see what happens - there's a fair chance I won't be selected & don't go, because I've not worked in this kind of containment regime for a long time and my background is immuno-diganostics using antibodies, rather than molecular-dignostics using DNA/RNA.

Friday, 6 February 2015

A revolution in the tablet user experience.

May I present the Bookbook:

This was too good not to post. :-)