Friday, 20 May 2011

up and down like the assyrian empire

So my weight went back down again this last weekend.

It wasn't quite enough to cancel out the gain I had, but any loss is good. I also think I had a bit of switch in mental attitude - having posted the numbers of what I'd lost and gotten used to what I now way, it doesn't feel as bad/poor as it did. I've also realised that I'm not that far from getting down into the sorts of weights where normal clothes will begin to fit me.

And speaking of clothes, I'm really desperate for some new stuff. I've been holding off because the idea of buying stuff and then having to buy the same stuff only a bit smaller in six months time and then buying it yet again six months after that is truly unappealing (and expensive sounding).

But it was my clothes that I think gave the game away at work.

My boss (who is that sort of person) asked me directly if I was loosing weight, so I had to fess up. I could hardly say no :/. And as he said, my clothes are "hanging" off me. He's also the sort of person that then went and told everybody.

I found the whole thing a little embarrassing. Not spectacularly so, but I'm never hugely comfortable about talking about that sort of personal stuff. I mean, there's some personal stuff I'm fine with discussing, but there's other stuff that I just don't like to talk about. And that extends outwards too - I'm not comfortable talking about those areas in other people's lives, even if they are.

I guess that makes me rather unusual - gossip and prurience is what keeps half the internet and all of the tabloid papers going.

This week I've been trying to increase my step count. I've been doing two laps around the industrial estate in the morning and then a slightly longer walk at lunch time. This has been successful, but if I want to take it any further it's clear I'll need to walk in the evenings, which may be difficult.

I actually didn't go for a walk last Sunday at all. This was because I'd washed the car on Saturday on top of walking, so I figured I'd done the exercise, but also, washing the car always involves lots of bending over which always leaves me with badly aching legs for a couple of days afterwards, because I've overstretched the ligaments.

I'm still breaking in my new walking shoes anyway, which will take a while, but hopefully they'll last me as long as the last pair I had like this.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

one tenth as good

Well, the phone line interwebnets stuff turned up on Tuesday, as planned. It was waiting on the doorstep when I got back, so I plugged it all in. I'm of sufficient nerd level that I was able to do all this without looking in any of the manuals that came with it.

Almost as soon as it was all plugged in and ready to rock, there was a call on the landline which turned out to be an SMS (a text message, basically - if you send them to regular phone lines it reads them out to you) telling me it was all activated. I therefore fired up my machine and windows 7 sorted its life out and set up a second network (I really am impressed with windows 7).

Obviously I immediately downloaded some porn. I figured this was appropriate, but mainly it was a way for me to check the real download speed. I mean I also used an online speed tester, but I figured a real-life download would be a good way to see how it did.

At the time I first connected it the download speed was around the 1meg area. To put that into perspective the cable line is a 10meg line, which was confirmed by the speed checker, which had an extra 0 on it.

However, when I tested it this morning the speed was double what it was last night, so around 2meg. It was mentioned that to start with the connection speed would be all over the place, presumably as it works out what settings give it a good balance between speed and quality.

With the cable broadband crapping out all the time due to torrents I've gotten way behind, so I figured I should start straight away. My usual practice is to do a trawl for new torrent twice a week and then set them going first thing in the morning. Unless the connection fails like it has recently, this usually means they're all downloaded by the time I get back.

What I was hoping to do was have two networks running at the same time. I've mentioned that I use my landlords cable, well that's done via a long Ethernet cable that runs across the loft from my place to his. That plugs into his router, which is connected to his broadband modem for the cable.

I actually connect this incoming cable to a (rather old) network switch that I then plug all my machines into, giving them all access to the cable. However, it does mean that I have to set the network as a public one, preventing me doing any file or printer sharing, so that my landlord doesn't have access.

But all of the machines I use are sufficiently new/capable that they actually have two network connections. What I was therefore hoping was that I could effectively run the landline broadband line "in parallel" - get a new switch (actually the BT hub thing appears to have multiple Ethernet ports, so I think it can act as a hub) and plug it up in the same way using the secondary LAN ports on all the machines. This then also gives me the opportunity to create my own network with sharings.

This didn't really work when I tried it in the small play about I had. I mean, I was able to have both networks there and running on a machine - the problem was that it defaulted to using the landline internet, instead of the cable internet. This was not ideal, because of course the landline is way slower than the cable, so I want the default to be the cable.

This may work. You can actually turn the BT hub thing off, so when I'm torrenting or if the cable has crapped out I can turn the hub on and it should use the landline cable as a preferential thing. Otherwise, if it's turned off (I'll have to test this bit out) it should use the cable internet. This would have the added advantage that (assuming I buy a new switch) my own network will still exist, just I'll use the fast internet via the cable.

What I'm trying to avoid is the need to swap physical cables about all the time. I've had that set-up before and it's a right royal pain in the arse.


I've mentioned before how I pre-write many of my blog posts. Well I wrote the above yesterday, having set the torrents going in the morning and seen everything working okay. When I got back all the torrents had finished, so all seemed well.

But this morning when I came to repeat the process (as I said, I've gotten a really big backlog of torrents) I couldn't connect to the internet at all. So I've had it less than 48 hours and already it's broken (or, I suspect, I've been cut off). Marvellous.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011


One of my favourite films of all time is Shawn of the Dead.

Shawn of the dead was given the genre classification by its makers as a rom-zom-com, or a romantic comedy with zombies. And it was definitely that - if you'd taken away the zombies you'd have still had a romantic comedy, although you'd have had to introduce a new peril to replace the zombies.

Zombieland is more like a zom-com-rom, in that it's much more like a comedy-horror film with a more secondary romantic element. In that sense it's more like Evil Dead with a romantic element woven in. I use the term "woven in", rather than, say, "bolted on" because it's quite deftly done.

It doesn't feel like the romance is added on, more that if it weren't there the film wouldn't suffer too badly. It could easily have been an odd-couple style buddie movie if it didn't have the romantic element.

Indeed, I think that's probably where its strength lies - the relationship between the two male characters ("Talihasee" and "Columbus") is definitely the highlight of the film.

The zombies are of the modern, fast moving variety. As a general rule I'm not so keen on the fast moving zombie, but I've gotten to the point where I'm so used to seeing them now that it isn't a major issue with me any more. Though to be fair, they're actually more like the infected from 28 days later - not so much the re-animated dead as people infected with a virus that turns them into drugged-up psycho cannibals.

What I would say, however, is there aren't that many real scares, despite the emphasis on the post-apocalyptic/zombie element. I mean, there are a couple of jumps and there's a reasonable amount of gore, but there's not so much in the way of suspenseful or terrifying moment.

There are a lot of good jokes, though - it's a very funny film and it's pitched at a level of humour I always enjoy, as it's of the subtle wisecracking variety. Although I like it a lot, I struggle to find a term to really describe it properly, though.

Then of course there's that cameo from (Is what I'm about to say a spoiler? He's not really credited on the film and it was meant to be something of a surprise, but I'm sure everybody knows by now, right?) Bill Murray, which is just as good as everyone says. Particularly if you're of an age where you're familiar with Murray's early comedy roles.

Although actually if I'm totally honest, there was a better cameo for me personally - they use Metallica's for whom the bell tolls across the (frankly brilliant) title sequence. There was actually quite a lot of good music use in the film, actually.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

all change

So late yesterday I finally got some messages through that my domains had all been transferred to the new registrar. I did some research on the interwebs and it seems to have taken a bit longer than is normal. I started the process last Monday and it's taken a full week to transfer, where most things seems to indicate it should only have taken three days.

I guess that's not a massively longer time, but it does add more behind one of the reasons I wanted to change - slow responsiveness. Also now that I can play with stuff properly on the control panel, I can see that the new host's user interface on the site is way easier to navigate and do stuff with.

I've also been investigating their hosting packages - like all hosts they offer different levels of stuff for different prices. They seems pretty good value, though obviously proof will be in the pudding - my last hosting was always cheap, but I wouldn't call them good value as it wasn't generally a pleasant and easy "relationship" (I'm struggling for a word to really cover it).

Today is also the day when, in theory, my landline broadband goes up. It was a bit of a pain to get it going, as I mentioned before. The basic problem is that although I knew the company I sued to have hosting with had been bought out by TalkTalk and they'd even changed their name to TalkTalk Business, it turns out they're still effectively run as a separate business and I had to contact them separately.

It took ages to work that out, but once I did getting the MAC was very quick. Though quite why they held on to it I'm not sure - I guess it costs money to get someone to properly release it.

I say it's the start day in theory, because I've not actually received the kit and they've sent me a couple of e-mails saying it could be midnight before it goes live. If I were without interwebs at all I think I'd be more anxious than I am.

Indeed, if I didn't have interwebs at all I think I'd be a bit annoyed and puzzled that it's taken about a week for it to all get sorted. I don't really know how complicated such things are, but this seems like a long time.

I should perhaps say I'm doing it with BT. Like any mega-huge corporation I'm sure there are the full range of good and bad experiences people have had with the, but this was just for convenience and ease. Obviously I've got a BT landline and it was just easy and fairly cheap to "flick the switch" on them giving me broadband too.

My plan is essentially to use it for torrents and as a back-up. It's guaranteed to be slower than the cable and it has a usage cap, but then the cable has a usage cap too. The real point is that for the past few weeks it's been obvious that it's my torrenting that's been killing the connection. In the last week I've deliberately not done any while I wait for the landline broadband and the cable internet hasn't been down once to my knowledge.

Monday, 16 May 2011

mad panic special

(My Thursday post about the websites and interweb seems to have reappeared - all very odd. My guess is they resorted to a back up or something.)

Wowser, what a horrible morning.

A bid needed to go away by 12 this morning and those can be a panic at the best of times, but this one was bonkers, as they'd given us a grand total of 3 working days to put together an entire ITT! That's totally insane - stuff that's marked urgent usually has at least a week turn-around time; 3 days for a full ITT is just plain unfair.

Of course everyone's in the same boat, but we're a small company. Big companies can obviously all on big numbers of people to veer and haul and do stuff, but that's obviously not a possibility for us. Luckily for me I was only peripherally involved, so I didn't loose my weekend.

Not that I was uninvolved, but my mad panic was this morning. The bid was via an electronic portal (uploading files, basically) and these are always horrible. I was responsible for putting together the final versions for upload and doing the actual upload.

It was a little nerve-wracking as the 12 'o'clock deadline rolled closer and closer and bits and pieces were still not quite finished. But we got it all uploaded and done in time.

My weekend itself was okay - nothing particularly exciting. One thing I did do was clean my car. I've not had much opportunity to clean it recently and what I though it was about time. I did it on the Saturday and the weather kept looking like it was about to piss down, but it held off while I was actually cleaning it.

The main thing I focused on was cleaning the inside (giving it a real good hoover out and wiping down the surfaces), the glass and the wheels. Obviously I also generally washed the car and the inside and alloy wheels are fairly obvious areas of attention, but the glass is also something I really needed to sort.

For some reason I find that most glass cleaners give very streaky results after a few weeks. Basically, dirt seems to slowly build up on the glass in the pattern of how the cleaner has dried. What I therefore do when I give the glass a proper clean is use a 'polish'. It smells quite a lot of turpentine and what you do is apply it and leave it to dry. Much like the polish you put on a car's metalwork it dries to leave a white chalk like substance that you then wipe off.

Although this is quite a lot of extra effort, the results are excellent - it gives a surface that remains streak free and completely "even" because the drying thing doesn't happen in the same way. It does also have the disadvantage of being quite expensive. In fact, actually all the stuff I use to clean my car is quite expensive, as I buy the Autoglym stuff.

It isn't cheap, but it really is good stuff.