Friday, 13 May 2011

up, not down

Unfortunately, blogger seems to have broken yesterday, which means I'm posting this very late, but also seems to have eaten my post yesterday.

It was basically about how I'm getting rid of the hosting for my websites and transferring my domains to a new registrar. I'll eventually resurect at the least, but not for a while. It also mentioned how I'm going to be getting landline broadband as the cable I piggy-back has been really flakey lately. Actuyally, it was mostly saying about all the arse-painery these have either caused or been done in order to solve.

Anyway, on with today's scheduled post.

Dieting and exercise did not go well over my holiday.

In fact, they went so badly I came out of the holiday with a weigh in that was four pounds up on what it was when I went in.

This wasn't a surprising result, given the diet and walking problems, but it was disappointing. Last time I had an equivalent period of holiday was back in September, and I did loads of walking and only really let myself down by eating loads of junk food.

The difference was, in that previous holiday I was staying in a hotel (well, a travelodge job) so I had a much better control over what I did and was focused on doing the walks with fewer distractions. This holiday I was at home and so there was access to a myriad of distractions.

Of course I also ad my birthday in there, when I really let my hair down, so that was the most significant dietary slip. In that sense it wasn't as bad as when I pigged out on junk food last time, but then because I was doing far less walking, it clearly had a bigger impact.

I also found doing all that walking around where I live less enjoyable. Obviously I go for big walks at the weekend normally, but doing similar big walks every day got a bit boring. I think I should have driven to some other places and walked there, but then I was only just saying the other day how I didn't have enough time to do all the stuff I'd planned to - working out some different walks and driving to them and back would only have meant they would take longer.

I was also slightly hampered in that I bought some new walking shoes. These are actually a lot sturdier and therefore heavier than my last pair (which, presumably explains why the last pair started to fall apart in 6 months) and that's actually made walking the same distances a lot harder work. But then I guess that's good in a way.

But yeah, generally not good results for last week. And that's generally been my feeling about this period of weight loss since Christmas - it doesn't seem to have gone anywhere near as smoothly as it did last year. I think my desire flagged a bit and there were a lot more things getting in the way over this period. Maybe summer will bring better fortune?

The raw stats don't really back up my feeling, though. According to my spreadsheet, my net loss was a total of 28 pounds, or 2 stone, which is a good loss. It was a shorter period than last year, when I lost 35 pounds.

But then stats can lie - when I look at the numbers, the weird bump up and rapid fall away at Christmas effectively means it should be more like 42 pounds lost last year and 21 pounds lost this year - so 1 and a half stone.

Or another fact is that I've had two bits where I've actually gained weight this year and these add up to 7 pounds, so if I'd lost those then I'd have had a 35 pound loss across the period.

So I think my disappointment is justified. Don't get me wrong, I'm very pleased that I've lost a total of 63 pounds (or 4.5 stone) but I think I need to really take my diet and exercise seriously again if I'm not to loose heart. However, my next target is even more modest than my last one, in that I'd like to loose a further 1.5 stone by the lat August Bank Holiday.

The reason I've set this specific target is that 6 stone represents about half the total weight I need to loose and I actually kicked off my weight loss in August of last year. Also, I'm hoping that by setting a more sensible target if I'm able to beat it that can only be a good thing.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

fate of the websites

I've decided to cancel the current hosting for all of my websites.

There were a host (ho ho) of reasons for doing this.

Partly it was to save spending the money. None of the sites were hugely expensive, but given how little use I currently make of them it's like pissing money down the drain.

Another reason is that the company they were registered with and that provides the hosting was rubbish. I don't know that the new company I'm switching to will be any good, but it will be a clean break. Customer service was particularly poor at the old place.

Also, the hosting was of disparate types and accessed through different means and using different tools (despite all being the same company - another reason I'm not keen), which made things very confusing. This gives me a chance to consolidate it all into one place.

I'm going to kept all of the domain name registrations, which I've also transferred to this other registration place. I fully intend to revive at the very least, but not for a while - certainly I won't even think about it until I've finished the magazine scanning, which I see as my main hobby priority for the immediate future.

I'll probably see if I can't get the sites to redirect to my blogs, but I'm sure there'll be lots of feet dragging over the transfers and cancellations. Making it easier for customers might encourage them to change things, and then they'd loose your money!

I've also decided to get my own broadband again.

Piggybacking on my landlords cable is something of a double-edged sword.

The upside is that when it's running smoothly, it's super quick. I can get download speeds somewhere in the ballpark of 10meg, which is super groovy.

Unfortunately, the download cap is pretty stingy - when you've downloaded about a gig it throttles the connection back something chronic. Of course, from my point of view it's still pretty quick - going from 10 down to 2 is a big drop, but 2 is as quick as I've ever had using telephone landlines. So the net effect of this doesn't bother me too much.

What does cause me problems is that the connection regularly flakes out. I'm used to this of course - loosing synchronisation is quite common on landline broadband too (I was more surprised that you get it on cable too) - but the problem is that the modem and router are obviously in my landlords house.

So if he goes out or it's late at night or early in the morning, I have no internet. Also part of the reason he suggested me using it was because he hardly uses the internet, so even when he's in he may not notice. And I also feel I'm being a bit of a nuisance constantly knocking on his door just to ask him to reset the modem/router.

I have actually noticed just recently that when I set a bunch of torrents going the connection dies very quickly. I've in the habit of setting them going before I go to work and leaving them going until I come back, by which time they've finished. I'm not sure if this is some deliberate move by Virgin to cap me in another way or just coincidence, but it is rather suspicious.

And it also means I feel a bit guilty that I'm now regularly killing his internet. As such, my new plan is to get a fairly basic phone line broadband. I can use it for torrents if that is what's causing the problem and it also means I've got a back up.

Not that it proved simple either of course. Turns out that when I cancelled my landline broadband back in September last year they never properly released the line. And to make things more complicated, the ISP was bought out by Talk Talk, so I spent ages trying to find out who to talk too, let alone getting it sorted :/.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

resident evil afterlife

There have been a number of attempts at 3D in film.

In the past this tended to rely on people having to wear differently coloured glasses (typically blue and red). The film would have both versions on it in different colours, but the filters would filter out one colour for each eye, giving a composite image that when combined by the brain was 3D.

This technique tended to be quite unpleasant for long term usage as was demanded by a film. Although the different views received by the brain were a good representation of 3D, the different colours was the thing that made it unpleasant.

Another big disadvantage was for those of us who where glasses. Us specy-types would really struggle with having to wear the flimsy cardboard glasses in conjunction with our normal glasses.

The more recent attempts have also used glasses, but the actual techniques have been slightly different. They again rely on a filtering process, so that different images are presented to each eye, but in some systems they use polarization and others they use a physical filter that flicks between each eye.

Apparently this has more satisfying results, because there's not the problem different colours going to each eye. I say apparently because I've never seen a 3D film. The reason comes back to the glasses - the newer versions seem to involve bigger glasses that fit over the top of your real glasses and I really don't fancy that.

Why do I mention all this? Well, Afterlife was shot in 3D and it suffers from the classic problem all 3D movies have when you watch them in regular old 2D. See, in action films you've always tended to get heavily designed sequences. This is inevitable because things like stunts and fights needs careful planning.

Well, what tends to happen in 3D films is you get an extra layer of planning where things are also worked out in order to give maximum 3D impact. But when you watch in 2D this just gives you a weird "slowed down", plodding feel to the scene, which is never good in an action film.

The actual plot of afterlife is okay, though it continues the slightly disappointing creep the series has undergone from horror to the aforementioned action/adventure genre. Also, since I've not played any of the Resi games since the second one, there's a lot of bits where I get the feeling those familiar with the games will go "oh, that's the thingy monster" but for me they're just other monsters. The zombies also feel like a bit of an afterthought - they're there, and they do play a roll but mostly it's about other monsters and humans, since with humans you can have proper gun fights.

As a stand alone film I think it works better than the last one, extinction, which was kinda dumb, but I'm not sure I'd really recommend it to anyone unfamiliar with either the games or the previous films.

post holiday round up

Got a bit better sleep last night, though I'm still tired as I'm effectively running at a deficit, but I thought I should post about what I got up to over the last few weeks and during my holiday and that.

As is my usual way, I put together a gigantic to do list / schedule thing. And as is my usual way there was way too much on it.

Usually with these lists I make two errors. Firstly, I underestimate the time things will take, and so think I can cram in more on any given day than I can, but also I'll usually make some fundamental error that then scuppers everything. That big error in this case was not allowing enough time for 'fun'.

By that I mean generic entertainment of any kind, be it watching telly or going out with friends. For some reason I put enough stuff in the schedule to (more than) fill all the available time so when it came to it I didn't have that time available because I was busy enjoying myself, if you see what I mean.

One thing that did surprise me, though, was that over the Easter weekend I'd assigned to giving my bedsit a spring clean and I managed to do this in the time. Usually with these sorts of cleans they're a classic example of my underestimating the time, winding up taking way longer than I think. But no, actually I managed to fit it all in, no problems.

The same can't be said about my main objective for the holiday, which was to get all my 2010 anime magazines scanned. To be fair, this did start well, as I scanned a load of mags in the first couple of days. However, I basically filled up my hard drive as a result and that meant I had to spend quite a lot of time processing the scans (using photostitch to stick them together).

This did give me an opportunity to play with photostitch and I've worked out how to make it give good results when it runs up against a scan it makes an arse of. I also think I've managed to tweak my technique such that it makes an arse of far less to start with. The root cause seems to be that at the edges of the scanner the bending of the page causes a brightening and a distortion of the image. So, by trimming that away, it does a better job. However, you still have to maintain enough overlap for it to work, so it's a bit of a black art.

I also established that it will work perfectly well with jpgs and that I can save the initial scans as maximum quality jpgs, stick them together then save the result as high quality jpgs and the end result is indistinguishable from my purer original method.

Of course all these took time and with my other errors over time allocation I'm still a fair way short of scanning all the 2010 magazines. I've basically got 3 new types (which always has the most things to scan) and 4 animages (which is always the easiest to scan) and then 2010 is done.

Of course that then means I have to move onto 2011, but assuming I get the above done by the middle of the year that will mean I'm effectively two thirds of the way through my backlog. Which gives you an idea of just how big the backlog was.

Monday, 9 May 2011


I don't really suffer from insomnia.

Not as a proper condition like people know it, where the insomniac is plagued by an ongoing inability to sleep night after night.

I do, however, occasionally suffer with the odd night where I can't get to sleep. Sometimes it goes on for a couple of nights, but eventually my usual sleep routines will re-assert themselves. I think this is an occasional thing for most people.

I think it's probably more a symptom of stress or some other psychological effect. Certainly when I get a dose of it, as I did last night, the root cause seems to be an inability for my brain to 'shut off'.

Usually I'll lie there with stuff going around and around in my head, consciously aware that I need to clear and becalm my mind in order to get to sleep, but also unable to stop the whirlwind of thoughts that plague me.

The cause I would guess last night was my return to work today. I don't think it relates to any specific worry - I wasn't expecting anything specifically bad, troublesome or difficult to crop up, we're talking more an elevation of the general anxiety I carry about with me every day.

Which is why the thoughts I couldn't shut off weren't really about work. I think - it's a little difficult to recall what they specifically were now, but I remember thinking about the Turkish Grand Prix and also a lot about how I hadn't managed to do everything I'd set out to during holiday. I'll talk more about those later, I guess.

As a result of the insomnia, today I've obviously been rather tired. Generally speaking I'm one of those people who needs to get plenty of sleep or I feel awful all day. The weird thing I find though, is while I'm having the insomnia - lying there, thinking - I don't generally feel tired. The tiredness comes when I wake up after the short amount of sleep I do manage to get just before I wake up.

Normally, once I realise I'm having a bought of insomnia I usually get up for a bit and do something. This is never much more spectacular than read or, more often, bimble about on the web. I'll also usually make myself a cup of hot milk with a splash of honey.

It wouldn't surprise me if the official advice is that these are exactly what you're not supposed to do, but I find if I lie there continuing to fail to get to sleep I get increasingly annoyed and that makes it worse. If I get up for a bit and in some way try to draw a ling under the preceding hours I've found I sometimes then succeed in dropping off.

It wasn't wholly successful last night, but then I guess that's part of the nature of insomnia.