Oh hey, it’s 2016

How did that happen then?

So, I think I missed my year in review thing for 2014, and I’ve felt a bit sad about that. But hey. Instead of worrying about it more, here is my 2015 in review, since 2016 has arrived.

A few days ago we were sat with our friends seeing in the New Year and talking about how hard 2015 was. Everyone I know seems to have had a tough 2015. It certainly felt that way from my personal perspective.

They were commenting that they sent their application in to move to the US in January. Having checked, we started dinking with the paperwork in January… And getting the house actually ready for sale. I spent most of the actual year just decorating. Decorating and finishing The List. It’s weird to think that the last year has largely been spent just in stasis. What is weird though is that actually? actually? Actually… we sent our application in in May. Those first 5 months of faffing and getting all of our ducks in some kind of row-based-organisation may have made the process feel painfully long, but they paid off. Because we’ve arrived and many things have aligned.

Although I’ll grant, I still have no job.

So whilst it feels like 2015 was really, really stressful stasis, most of that stress (as is so often the case with me) was self inflicted. Some of it was shite like the NCLEX exam which it turned out was not quite the disaster predicted. And whilst I’ve been looking at posts for something other than decorating, I’m finding that that part of my perception is right, I did mainly spend the year decorating. We did do some fun stuff though. Beyond the decorating, I did manage to cram in some more fun tasks – like building the greenshed. I also spent an inordinate amount of time on my 1920s/30’s bike that is currently traversing the ocean.

Some of the highlights of the year were in London. We spent a lot of time, relatively, visiting various museums in London. We hit up a fabulous Daphne Oram exhibit at the Science Museum, and also saw an utterly amazing Cosmonaut exhibition. And we saw a phenominal exhibition at the V&A called The Fabric of India (which I don’t seem to have written about weirdly).

We also had one of the most stunning holidays we’ve been on, dragging the Prius thousands of miles through Norway – a place which I’d wanted to visit for a very, very long time. Especially since I’ve a friend over there and had wanted to see her in her natural stomping grounds. And understand why she said it was so incredible. We didn’t quite make it all the way up to see her, but I do understand now. It’s just stunning.

What has been less fun and continues to be a bit of a pain is that my laptop broke… It still spontaneously reboots and now the battery (its second in its 8 year life) is dead. I’m trying to decide what the future holds for it. I’m loathe to replace something that, broadly speaking, does most of what I need. But a retina/infinity/ultrahighres display is really tempting. Of course, at the moment, not having a job means that ‘plugging it in all the time’ is pretty much the answer.

I did have some tech successes though. The media server was upgraded and although for a while it became a pain in the ass, it eventually got sorted and turned into a nice piece of kit. When it arrives in the US it’ll need a new power-supply though, as the current one is only 240 volt. Grr. The RiscPC has been repaired – with much help from John. Sadly the original mainboard is beyond salvage having been doused liberally in battery gunk.

Also with help from John, the Squeezebox2 was resurrected, adding more exciting kit to our Logitech Squeezebox collection. Much loved and completely unsupported now…

And of course… Rebecca returned to the road. Again. Briefly. She’s now in a shipping container crossing the ocean. Or something like that… hopefully she’ll be here soon, along with the rest of our stuff. At least, that which fitted in the container.

And all of that leads us into 2016, where we’re considering building a house, starting a business, and are currently planning to move somewhere neither of us have ever lived before. Which’ll be an exciting first for us.

And I’m starting this year in my trademark soothing fashion. With a driver’s exam. Woot.

Random Awesome

So, there I was in the garage trying (unsuccessfully) to find the puncture repair kit.

Or at least, I found the old kit – but it’s lacking any of the rubber softening gunk, and I couldn’t find the new kit that’s around ‘somewhere’.

So after the rain had let up I made my way back to the house, hopped in the car and headed across town – deciding to support a small shop and grab some coffee at the same time. I thought if I must endure hideous traffic, I might as well join errands together.

So I went to Fred Baker cycles, who I’ve not been to before… the one time I’d tried before, they were closed. This time they were open, and there they had the new-style puncture repair stuff. Which is unnerving and modern and doesn’t involve putting vulcanising stuff on, waiting for it to go goey, then sticking a patch on, then covering it in chalk. Oh no. Just rough the rubber and stick the pad on, then wait a bit.

Anyhow, on a spur of the moment thing (‘cos it’s always useful to know) I asked if they had rod-brake brakes. Which they did. In stock. Lots of ’em. Not as cheap as the ones I get online – and seemingly the same grotty quality, but there they were.

Then I asked “You don’t happen to have any experience of rebuilding BSA 3 speed hubs, do you?” which has become my standard bike shop question. I expected the usual “You mean Sturmey Archer? Of course we do”… which is wrong, because they’re different and completely incompatible.

But no; he just nodded in response to the question. I confirmed that I meant the BSA ones, not the Sturmeys, and he commented on how they differed, and explained that it was usually easier to replace them with the Sturmeys, but it was certainly something he could do. And that he could look at it and see if it was repairable (for a small examination fee).

And so… my lovely bicycle (Molly) shall have to make a pilgrimage across Bristol in the not too distant future and there’s a faint hope I might get a 3 speed bicycle. Which’d be awfully exciting. And a hell of a lot easier than shipping one wheel off to some random company.

So yay.

S’not completely stopped me.

One of the many things I despise about allergy season is the tiredness. This is at least partially down to the fact that normally I’d have a lie-in after night-shifts. Not a long one, but a bit of one. And I’d usually sleep until about 8. Unfortunately, in allergy season, not only do I not sleep well, but I wake up around 6:30 feeling sickly. And can’t get back to sleep because I need to take drugs and get upright.

Beyond the irritation of, well, irritation to eyes and nasal passages, it’s irritating because whilst it doesn’t stop me doing things completely, it seems to erode my competence, it also really attacks my patience… and it leads me to want to just sit on the sofa going blurgh.

However, irritating allergies notwithstanding, I’ve managed a fair bit today.

First up I managed to head out and collect a package that turned out to be the HD ‘sports camera’ for our trip to Norway. Which has arrived much more rapidly than expected and looks to work except…the microSD? I’d not actually ordered that yet. So I ordered that today. I also, whilst I was out, picked up a new tip for my soldering iron. Well, technically I picked up tips for both soldering irons, the ‘precision’ one of my dad’s and the ‘not precision’ one of mine. I also did errands, for double plus adulting.

A few days back I managed to put the new socket surrounds on the wall in the kitchen:


I filled and masked it all, and today started hurling paint at the trim. Two more coats and that bit’ll be done… leaving only some little bits of trim in the main kitchen area. That wall looks like it should end up being much neater – the sockets have been hanging out of the wall quite long enough.

I need to move the fridge to get to some of left over bits of trim though, so that’ll be fun. But it may mean I finally get around to turning the door on the fridge ’round so it opens the right way. Heh.

Painting done I nipped out to collect my bike which had gone off to be repaired after the back brake broke. They’ve fixed the brake, but upsettingly, as I mentioned earlier the cable for the rear hub-gear is broken, meaning it’s currently sat out of gear, which makes it ‘tricky’ to use. I’ve ordered a Sturmey-Archer clone cable, which I then just have to work out how to make fit. I have an idea, but it’s not ideal…

I also spread slug pellets around the garden which is AWESOME. We currently have all the berries.


Which I should go out and pick, although I’m feeling a bit ropey right now (see: allergies).

I also rang the company that’s meant to be assessing my transcripts – I checked and they were delivered on the 8th of June – but it still showed the status as ‘waiting for required documents’. Having rung them it can take up to a month for items to start being processed. ARGH.

I am really worried that the potential job will have gone before I even get near a registration.

Anyhow. Lunch was a Hart’s affair, obviously, then I moved on to assembling John’s 7 segment LED display:


My soldering, even with the new iron which actually has a tip that’s tip-y and not chisel-y (I’ve been using the same tip that my dad had on there for…ever), is no-where near as neat as John’s. It’s not terrible, by any means. But it’s not beautiful, but I guess I don’t do it that much.



Ta Da!

If it works, I’ll show you. Of course, to find out if it works will require the Arduino Uno that Kathryn gave me for Xmas, so I’ve opened up the packaging and… downloaded the software.

I also assembled the synthesizer kit that Kathryn gave me for Xmas and had a wee play with it. I think, however, it wants a new battery. As opposed to the one that came out of the garage smoke alarm because it was dead (note to self: buy more 9v batteries).

Anyhow, so I was sat with the Arduino in my lap, and the software on the mac, and, for reasons which remain elusive, my allergies kicked into overdrive and I had to give up. After a festival of sneezing and me finally giving in and throwing the eye-drops in before I eroded the surface of my eye through rubbing, I have given in to sitting because, in all honesty, I feel cack from the allergies and I think I’ve done enough for the day.

In other news, yesterday my Mac died and refused to come on until it’d had the battery removed. Its worrying decent into notworkitude appears to be continuing. My deal with myself is that I might, when I’ve paid off the credit card, consider buying a new (recon/B-grade) laptop. It will not be another apple. Irritating though it is to be the proud owner of Office-for-mac and Photoshop-for-mac, I’m just a bit done with the walled garden. Also, it’s not just-working anymore. If it’s not just-working, what’s the point in paying extra?

The oddness of the bathrooom

So, for the past 2 years we’ve not really had a full bathroom. Yes, technically, it has met the criteria for being a bathroom. It has a bath, a toilet, and a sink. Indeed, I think that bar maybe the odd day, it’s been fully functioning.

However, it’s not had a floor for most of the time that we’ve lived here, and nor, since the plastering was done, has it had wall coverings. Indeed, it’s generally been a bit unpleasant to be in.

Since completing the bathroom, it’s had this odd ‘does that belong here’ sensation that it brings up in my head. When I get to the top of the stairs (and it doesn’t help that the upstairs hall is entirely filled with tools) the bathroom feels finished, and very nice, and the top of the stairs is…although it’s actually more or less finished (minus the skirting) it’s just got that ‘unfinished’ feel. It feels strange. It does, in my head at least, feel like the bathroom is an entirely separate entity from the house. Of course, it will settle down and mentally merge. I’m getting more used to it. I’m getting used to the toilet paper being on a holder on the wall. I’m happily used to getting into the shower (oh, showers, how I’ve missed thee).

But it still feels quite odd to have a finished bathroom.

In other news, the GT550 is sold and awaiting a trip to its new owner.

Working hard or hardly working?

So, I had mentally scheduled (indeed I’d actually scheduled) today to work on RebeccaMog. Having sucked it up and accepted that we’re not going to have her EVified before we go to Nova Scotia, she needs to be made roadworthy again and today’s plan was to strip out the diff. However, you may be aware that it’s snowed here. It’s snowed, and the temperature is indicated to be -1 (“feels like -3”). Given that the gas cylinder in the heater ran out a while back and this would involve significant lying on the floor I decided that discretion was the better part of valour*. There’s also the factor of the GT550. It is on e-bay and will hopefully be whisked off by the next time I have a couple of days off so there should be some more space in the garage to work, which will be nice. Although I’m really going to miss having a motorbike. It’s one of those things that’s become part of my identity and not having the bike is kinda weird. Dyke with a bike, only no bike**. Meh.

Anyhow, so, that not being on the list, the vacuum was instantly filled by many other little jobs. So I spent some time (quite a lot of time, really) fixing the old Dead Bug Jumping podcast. Whilst I couldn’t find a speed changing plugin for Ardour, I could find one for Audacity. And while Audacity feels very…basic…now, after Ardour, and I spent quite a lot of time going “Argh” as things work differently in each application, Dead Bug Jumping now sports a complete set of updated podcast episodes with the first track playing at some approximation of the right speed. It is only an approximation – but given the variability of gramophone playback, I’m not too worried. The new episodes are recorded at a stroboscopically checked 78rpm, so that shouldn’t be a problem again.

That essentially took up the morning, but I did take a moment to put our meter readings on our utility supplier’s billing page, and then saw a ‘how do you compare’ kind of thing. And if you’ll forgive me a moment’s smugness:

Mmm, smug much?

Mmm, smug much?

Now, it’s not wholly accurate, because our last months reading was much higher than expected (although, to be fair, it’s been sodding freezing, and our heating is struggling to keep pace (one heater down, missing internal doors, it’s all not good for it). But I’m quite pleased about that. We’re doing quite well. Combine that with our reduced car usage (Kathryn commutes in it once a week) and my fairly committed cycling to work (although the cycling through the snow probably suggests I should be committed, rather than am committed), local food shopping, and habit of buying most things second hand and so on, and I’m feeling that for once we’re actually starting to do our bit. There’s much more that we could and should do, but until we get moved and settled, I don’t feel this is a bad place to be.

This is obviously the appropriate moment to segue directly into my consumerism. Heh. So, I am weak. Whatever… ;)

No, seriously. The Superpad III has continued it’s previously unsullied run of disappointment, continuing to be crap and randomly not working very well. I have to say it’s the worst piece of tech I’ve ever owned, and I really, really, really wish I could have found a solution that used the (now sold) iPaq. But the plan was (at least in my head) to pick up a slimp3:


I’ve even had logitech’s Squeezebox Server running on the music server in the optimistic hope it might attract a slimp3 to the house. Now, I’d given in and started considering that maybe a Squeezebox 1 would do. It is no-where near as pretty as the slimp3, but it would work, and it would mean I could free up that end of the book shelf, and get rid of some trailing wires, and also flog off the Superpad. All a win.

I’ve been trying to win one on e-bay to no avail, really, and then I came across this. Which is disappointing. See, logitech, you nearly had me. I may well still pick one up, because I’m not relying on it for internet radio, and obsolete technology’s pretty much par for the course in our house. But for once I was nearly sucked into a modern device. Granted, I reckoned the first iteration, long discontinued, was the one I wanted. But Logitech have handily saved me from that slippery slope.

Anyhow, most of the day has been spent doing paperwork. I’ve reapplied (for the third time) for the tax relief allowed to nurses (and a reclaim for the past 6 years (working up to 7)). You’re only normally allowed to claim for 5 years, but since I applied in 2008, and in 2009, and in both cases they lost the form, I’ve stated that I still want my tax reclaim to go back to 2006. I’d put it off so long because it means actually trawling through bank statement after bank statement – although I realised after a bit that my subscription to the Emergency Nursing journal, whist it changes price, it only changes once a year, so I only needed to find the cost for each year. And then having checked my UNISON subs, and found they’re the same in the first year as they are now (bargain!), I just stuck the same amount in for each year. That, therefore, did not take near as long as I thought it would (although there was still a fair amount of trawling). Also, thankfully, it turns out the NMC registration price has apparently remained unchanged every year. Which surprised me, because I thought it had gone up. But the website I found said ‘same price every year, back to 1996, when there was a massive price hike. So that all made life simpler. Of course, then I had to have 4 stabs at writing a letter to say what I wanted which didn’t say “I got heartily sick of pissing around trying to get you to contact me on a day when I was at home, since you refused to give me a direct dial number and would only do a ‘we will ring back within a few days’ thing”.

I managed to get it down to faintly irritated with an apology for being slightly irritated. Which I thought wasn’t too bad.

So that’s now in an envelope awaiting the tender ministrations of the post office.

I’ve also faxed various documents to Canada (to WES). I don’t know if you’re allowed to fax documents to them, but it seemed a bit pointless to mail them photocopies. I can do it if they want, but hey. It doesn’t say you can’t fax them.

I also sent the NMC more money, because I love them so. Or alternatively because they wanted more money to send things to Nova Scotia. As I suspected the “we’ll send it to multiple places’ only applies if you do them all at the same time. Feh. Feh, I say.

All in all, it’s been a wildly dull day, really. And now I’m sat ripping CDs again, before cooking dinner. I’ve managed to make myself feel that faint unwell that comes from spending the entire day inside looking at a computer with a fire going. And then I’m back at work more than normal this week (this is one of the make-up-shift weeks for the slight under-hours I do by working 12 hour shifts). Which is why I’d put off starting the hall until this week is done, because after Sunday I should have enough days off to get the hallway finished. Which would be really a very nice treat.

* or calor, given that it’s a calor gas heater….
** Unless we include the 1930’s pushbike collection, which brings to mind an entirely different dykey image.

Days off

Days off still feel a bit of an oddity. I allowed myself a break between the slog of the bathroom and starting the hallway, because I thought this is probably good for my sanity. In it I’ve cleaned the house, I’ve moved the website (wordpress used to be in a subdirectory, it’s now not) and upgraded wordpress (and applied a new theme, which I’m not sure about at the moment, but is the theme that I’m trying. It’s a suck-it-and-see approach*). I’ve listed my Kawasaki GT-550 on e-bay (*whimper*). I’ve been to Two Day Coffee and got more coffee. I’ve been to Maplin and got possibly the worst power tool I’ve ever owned – a battery dremel clone (and been slightly stunned to find that it’s got an AC-adaptor**, rather than a DC adaptor, which means I’ll have to look at the guts of the charger to see if I can take it to Canada. The only reason I got it, rather than any other Dremel clone, is I thought it would be useful to take to Canada. I didn’t get an actual Dremel because Kathryn already owns one, so spending twice as much on something that duplicates what we’ve already got, not handy. Although, as we’ve already considered, probably vastly better quality).

I’ve worked on the clock*** (which I’m going to continue doing after this) and I’ve tried to rejoin the nursing agency. I’ve written some more of the next episode of Dead Bug Jumping, and I’ve installed and started to toy with a new media server. I’ve ripped another 10 CDs and done 3 loads of laundry (and am pondering a fourth).

I’m not quite sure I’ve got the hang of this ‘Days off’ concept.

* The result of which may be that it sucks. I’ve got through four themes so far today.
** Which outputs 6volts at 50hz. What’s up with that? I’m assuming that, somewhere in the guts of the hideous plastic base object, there’s a rectifier.
*** Which is for-why I bought the dremel clone. Because the new clock mechanism doesn’t fit in the space previously occupied by the old clock mechanism.

For some reason I’m knackered.

Completely, totally exhausted. No idea why. One minute I was peachy keen, the next I felt like kipping on the sofa. I’m resisting, because it almost invariably makes me feel worse. It has been a fairly busy and productive day though, which might explain it.

So, the items on today’s list were: Replace the leaking ballcock washer, gluing the back of the bookcase back together* and making an iphone/ ipod to valve radio cable.

Having watched yesterday’s Rachel Maddow show over breakfast, and enjoyed the Pro-Obamaness**** I diassembled the 1930s ballcock and ‘simply undid’ the piston*****. It actually did come apart with less force than I thought might be required (although I was suspecting that it would need to be replaced entirely, so that’s not saying a lot). The rubber of the washer was fairly brick like and slightly crumbly, so the fact it was working as well as it was is quite surprising. Slipping the washer into my pocket I wandered down to the garage sporting my bike gear with the intention of going straight out to get the bits and bobs I required from the plumbing place and the very depressing Maplin.

Having had a bit of a mental debate about the issue of how to glue the bits of wood making the back up back together, I realised that really, I’m going to have to do that in the house. It’s a bit of a bugger, because it means that some of the drilling is going to have to happen in the house. But then, taking that into account, I realised that that timing was a bit of an issue and threw the first coat of varnish on the wood before taking my motorbike outside and dropping it.


See, we live in a nice house which backs onto a lane. The land outside our garage is gravelled, because our builders dumped the excess gravel on there. This is good, because prior to that it was just mud. I stood the bike on the gravel, locked the garage doors, started her up (she ran a bit roughly, probably because she’s not been used much recently) and hopped on. Up with the kickstand and pootle forward. Only the engine then attempted to stall. Pulling the clutch in, the bike came back to a stop, but now I was badly placed and the bike was starting to camber over. I stuck my leg out to stop the bike and the gravel took the bike rightward and my leg leftward. I tried to hold it up with my arms and force of will, but the fact was it wasn’t happening. The bike landed on it’s left side snapping the end off the clutch lever (argh). It also, I realised, weighs the same as a thousand suns.

A very nice biker who happened to be walking his dog kindly offered his help (I’d tried twice and realised I had no hope of getting the bike up, he arrived whilst I was in the midst of that second attempt at a lift). Between us we got it back onto it’s centre stand. I think from now on I’ll walk it out to the tarmac stretch before riding, because that was no fun. We had a bit of a chat before he went, he used to have a GT550, and commented on what a lovely bike it is, and also how insanely heavy they are compared to modern bikes. Which is kinda funny, because I thought it was just me thinking it weighed a ton, but no. Anyhow…

Having got the bike back up and running (it’s only the very end of the clutch lever that’s snapped, thankfully) I hopped on to go and be depressed by Maplins. Maplins, as we know, is painfully depressing, because I remember going in there and them actually stocking components. Still, they had what I required – a reasonable stereo socket, and a switch (for what was my mum’s broken bread maker), and I had the idea that a 4mm plug might fit in at least one of the connectors on the valve amplifier (I think I want a 3mm banana plug, but they’re very pricey) – so I got a couple of them. Despite costing more than e-bay I decided to pick up a pair of ‘helping hands’ too, although to be honest, they’re not the best ones I’ve ever tried. Nice heavy base, but finicky to set up. I then stopped at Graham and picked up the washer…

And arriving home threw the varnish on everything shelf related.

Reassembly of the toilet cistern proved to be a doddle, assuming it doesn’t start leaking in the near future. I’ve got 10 washers, anyhow (came in packs of 10). And then I sat down, watched Red Dwarf and made this:

Stereo to mono valve radio cable

It just all fits inside the metal case I got (I went for the metal one because I’ve had any number of stereo sockets with plastic screw together sleeves that have disintegrated). A quick check demonstrates that it works perfectly. The ‘Gram’ socket on our Bush VHF 61 does indeed work beautifully. Now I just need to make the iPhone base adaptor that looks like it’s made of bakelite and we’ll be good :)

I also took the opportunity of being in a fixy mood to repair the breadmaker my mum gave us. I don’t think anything in particular has changed with our other one, but the faulty display has led to enough failed loaves of bread, so I fixed my mum’s… Unfortunately, I made an unwarranted assumption. When I looked at it I assumed (without taking it apart) that it used nasty cheap membrane switches, because it looks like it does. So I thought, ‘sod that’ and bought a push-to-make switch. It turns out that actually, it had dinky little sub-micro switches actuated by pushrods and the plastic surface that looks like membrane switches is just a plastic surface. Still, since it’s pretty ancient I decided I wasn’t too concerned about looks, and also couldn’t be bothered to go and deal with Maplins again. A few minutes work, and a couple of little flyleads later we have a ‘Start button’ that looks more enthusiastic:


That done I went and did some more varnishing.

Yes, my entire life the past few days has been cutting or varnishing or sanding.

Then as I meandered up the garden I was suddenly hit by a wave of tiredness. An awesome wave of tiredness from which I’ve not yet recovered. I’ve been sat curled on the sofa dinking on the internet for the last couple of hours apart from… trying on my new leather jacket.

It’s pretty rare that I get clothing of a decent brand. This is because in general I’m limited to whatever’s in my size in charity shops, and I’ve broad shoulders and long arms which means that whilst the majority of me is one size, finding jumpers and jackets that fit is a fracking nightmare. However, I’ve been faintly trying to locate a leather jacket for a while, but given my ethics it had to be a second hand jacket, because one shouldn’t be killing animals for leather, and then taking that leather and using a sweatshop to make the jacket. That’s my opinion. But I’m also not wealthy, so getting new clothes that are ethically made requires either that I have very few clothes or that I get them from charity shops, or at least second hand.

Having vaguely poked at charity shops, then upped it to a fairly concerted effort to find one, including looking in vintage shops, I decided to poke at e-bay. And there it was, a Press and Bastyan jacket. Now, I’ve less idea who these people are than most, because my idea of following fashion is to watch Big Bang Theory and see if I can get teeshirts that match. However, I looked at the prices and I thought, hell, it might be decent quality. I stuck a bid on for a tenner (meaning the thing would cost 15 quid) and didn’t think too much more about it. The nice ‘you’ve won this item’ e-mail arrived, and I then assumed that it’d not fit.

It arrived today. It does fit, and it is, indeed really a very nice leather jacket. It’s not exactly what I originally went looking for, but I’m really quite pleased with it. So there we go. Now I just need to develop the ability to care deeply about clothing and I reckon I could look quite good. I suspect, however, that’s not going to be coming in the near future.

* So, yesterday Nikki kindly gave me a lift to B&Q to get the second sheet of spruce ply. Sadly, their stock was much smaller than it had been, and to be honest, a lot scabbier. It’s not intended to be furniture grade, and much of it was poorly filled with streaks of nastyness. The one I selected in the end also has scabby filled bits, but it was the best of the top few. I got it cut to size and we wandered out to Nikki’s Leaf (since Chester is not moving until we get a new strut). We tried a few angles, but were prevented by the narrowness of the rear door from getting it in**. I thought it was bendier than it is (it’s not really very bendy at all), and so having attempted every orientation of I took it back into the store and had it cut in half. It is, of course, now, 3 mm narrower than it was intended to be. Which is a bit of a bugger, but not as much of a bugger as the massive error I’ve made***.

** I can picture my dad’s rant now; he very politely destroyed every point that a Vauxhall salesperson had about why the then new Vectra was better than his few year-old Cavalier was. The only reason we were debating it is my dad had been made redundant, and whilst he still had a massive GM discount he thought it might be worth replacing the car. Having decided the Vectra was even worse than the Cavalier (which was not really as good as the Mk II Escort, but wasn’t nearly so rusty) he decided that he’d rather keep the Cav, which went on to do nearly quarter of a million miles before we sold it.

*** So, I thought there was more space around the bookcase than there actually was. So when I made the plinth, I made it a bit bigger than the case itself, to make it look nice. Like a proper bookcase, I thought. I just went and measured the gap (yes, you can all say “shouldn’t you have done that first”, but honestly, I thought it was bigger’n that) and will need to trim the ends off my plinth. Not a lot, but the nice end pieces I made? They’re going to be coming off tomorrow :(

**** Whilst I have a multitude of reservations about Obama, the choice between Obama and Romney was, to me at least, do you want someone who seems to be very competent, even if his record on civil liberties is no where near where you’d like it to be, or would you like an incompetent pathological liar. I’m sorry, but I wouldn’t object to Romney near as much if he actually stood by any position long enough to question him on it. Or admitted that he’d changed his mind. But he appears unaware of the fact that we now have the awesome technology to play back tape of him, and see what he said before and compare it to his random new position. Ah well, all done now :)

***** Whenever someone says ‘simply undo’ or ‘with a light tap’ you know that it’s bollocks, don’t you. You know that you’re going to be using molegrips and monkey wrenches or club hammers and your sharpest chisel and all the force you can muster.


So, today in a spate of productivity I summarised 4 papers ready for inclusion in my dissertation (2 more to go); I updated the ‘Superpad 2’* to the hacked firmware courtesy of Tim, I think. This has made it work better, be a bit faster, have functioning marketplace support (although irritatingly, I still can’t install a working VNC server on it). I’m faintly hoping for the Ubuntu Linux distro to be installable on it in the not too distant future. I might do a little video review of it at some point (I keep threatening that).

Here's hoping I've not instigated a bricking.

It does now work ‘sufficiently’ that I’ll consider using it as an audio player, properly, until a Slimp3 finds its way into my grubby little mitts. It also has a much prettier start up swooshing android logo going on. That, actually, is probably the most exciting thing. The keyboard’s better, it’s rooted. But despite the fact I can now install paid apps, the free one (slow though it is) is sufficient for the moment. I’ll consider the pay-for uPnP client if I get sick of the freebie one.

I collected a garden wood chipper, which I got from gumtree, which should mean we can clear the patch of garden that’s been covered with dead wood since…err…let’s not discuss that too much.

But most excitingly, I made this happen:

It did settle down after a few minutes, and I then bought some insurance, booked an MOT and a service, and am trying to decide whether to install a GPS/Alarm on it. I’m guessing that GT550s are still reasonably stealable. This sudden enthusiasm is partially because Kathryn informed me that if she’s not used her bike gear within the next 6 months, she’ll have to sell it/give it away. So it’s vitally important that I get back riding :)

* BarelyAdequatePad2

Less plan, more replan

So, I had good intentions for today. I thought I’d wash, get dressed, and work. Take a brief break to run some batteries to the metal recycling with Nikki and her handily available review Renault ZE (she asked for a real world test suggestion, I thought running the half ton of batteries to the scrap metal merchants was an excellent suggestion – incidentally, the ZE did this job without a hitch and actually, seems like quite a neat EV – more my taste than the leaf (in the wholeheartedly practical vehicle sense)), but basically set aside today as a Dissertation Day.

Annnyhow. So that battery lugging bit went quite well, but battling with Scopus was frustrating and…long. Scopus is a database, for those of you who don’t know, and actually it’s just because each database has its own search grammar and trying to take one search across to another database just doesn’t work, so there’s lots of tweaking to make it work that makes the whole job frustrating. But unlike Ovid which is old and painful, Scopus is actually fairly intuitive, and it was just tedious tweaking the search to work right.

After a while though, I got that sorted and worked my way through the hits. The plan then was rinse-and-repeat for Web Of Knowlege (that being the last database I need to re-search) but it’s been informing me, helpfully, that:

“Thank you for using Web of Knowledge
A system error has occurred.”

Which impedes my ability to search somewhat. So instead I decided to tackle another thing from the to-do list. The final tweaks to Kathryn’s Bicycle. Now it has brakes (at least working, could do with a bit more tweaking) and gears (all 3 actually seem to be working), and I’ve fitted the replacement cotter pin (to replace the one I munged fairly dramatically). So I shall maybe take it for a quick test ride on Wednesday :)

And for all being such lovely people, here’s a picyture.


I also discovered today that ripping to MKVs from blurays is all very well, if your media player can handle them. It turns out that the VMP74 can’t. So the poor old media server is now tasked with transcoding them to MP4 / M4Vs, which it can manage at about 6 frames per second.

She riiiiides. Sorta.

So, a while back, some of you may recall that I bought and brought home a rusting heap.


The plan was to get a bike for Kathryn, but my fondness for things ancient and solid overwhelmed my common sense (not difficult). And I was somewhat optimistic about the state of the bike when I bought it from ebay. To be honest, when I got there I thought ‘oh arse’. But unless someone’s description is misleading I’ve always felt that once you’ve bought it, you’ve bought it. So I heaved the rusty heap into the car and drove home.

And then there was the misquote. See, I asked for a quote for a wheel rebuild and was misinformed about how much it would cost, and looking at the bike I realised that actually, it was fairly solid. Lots of surface rust, complete and total destruction of the chromework (impervious to water my ass), but the frame itself was pretty good. And having slathered the poor beast in penetrating oil, the brakes freed up and quickly came back to life. I started to contemplate what would be required to fix it.

….and make it look less shit.

Continue reading “She riiiiides. Sorta.”