Friday, 28 June 2013

british grand prix

It's the British Grand Prix this weekend.

As I understand it there are actually still quite a few tickets for sale.  This is relatively unusual for Silverstone as it normally sells out a good way ahead.  Indeed, from what my Dad was saying, apparently they have some seats left in the grandstands, which is very unusual.

I think one of the causes might be the weather last year.  We were fully in the grip of the almost constant deluge and Silverstone was quite bad - people getting bogged in the mud, etc.  Indeed, my Dad went last year and had to be towed out as his car had stuck.  This was on the practice day (Friday) and they pretty much sorted it out for the qualifying and race days, not least of all because most of the campers would be in-place by then.

However, I think with the weather having not been that spectacular this year it might have put some people off a bit.

Another issue is that the brits are basically nowhere.  The McLaren is clearly nowhere near competitive, which takes Lewis out of the running.  Paul Diresta and Max Chilton are in non-competitive teams and of course while Lewis and the Mercedes might pull of their trick of getting pole or at the top end I expect they won't simply reverse down the field again.

Now while I don't think it actively harms attendance, with none of the brits in contention it means the boost effect doesn't happen.

I'm hoping it will be good race.  Silverstone can vary in terms of racing quality - you get some good races and some dull ones.

The thing that often causes interest at Silverstone is the weather - the forecast seems to be all over the place recently, so I've no idea if it will rain.  I hope if it does then it happens during qualifying or the race proper as that will shake things up a bit.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

bloody wimbledon

Wimbledon started this week.

If memory serves the main singles part lasts two weeks?  I think there's then a couple of weeks of the other types of tournament - doubles, mainly, I think.

I'm not a massive fan of tennis.  I do find it odd that we are really only pay attention to it in Britain when it's being held in this country.  It's like, "we'll like your sport when it comes here, but not before and not after."

One advantage of this is that it means the BBC basically fills up with wimbledon coverage so I have less stuff to watch.  The flip-side to that is that if they extend the coverage then the programs I do want to watch get shifted around.

This obviously impacted by if we have anyone who's in with a vague chance of winning.  Andy Murray is about the best player with a genuine chance who's fallen into this category for a while.  I'm obviously referring to Murray as being "a Brit" in the traditional way we English do - if he's successful he's a Brit, if he's not, he's a Scot.

The post title, by the way, is a reference to one of my Dad's stock phrases.  He has a lot of stock phrases, one of which is "bloody wimbledon".  It has to be said in a miserable tone and at quite a low pitch to get the proper effect.

Another such phrases is "the derisories" for cricket.  This is a reference to the fact that when the opposition does well (gets a 4 or a 6 or what have you) then opposing side has to acknowledge the achievement, but doesn't really want to show any enthusiasm, so they clap, but it ends up sounding a bit like the derisive slow hand clap thing.

Anyway, point of the post is that summer is now upon us, so I'm hoping that the amount of stuff I want to watch will decline.  This will help me watch the stacks of recorded stuff I have as well as take some of the pressure off when I've also been trying to watch the anime.

I mentioned this before but I've been in a situation where I've had to watch a bonkers amount of stuff.  I'm going to do a proper update (or two!) to talk about them specifically, but this is the list:
  • eden of the east (series+both movies)
  • steins;gate (series + oav)
  • kimi ni todoke (series 1 & 2)
  • ride;back
  • bunny drop
  • baka and test (series 1 & 2 & oavs)
  • No. 6
  • Freezing
  • Heaven's Memo Pad
  • Majikoi Oh! Samurai Girls
Which I think if you do the maths is something like 70 hours of stuff (give or take).  No wonder I didn't have the time or energy to blog!

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

canadian grand prix

I guess I should start my catching up proper by mentioning the Canadian grand prix.

The Canadian is always a good race as there's plenty of places where overtaking is possible.  I find it kinda weird that when they (Tilka) are designing circuits they don't really seem to have analysed what allows cars to overtake.

So at Canada one of the key features is you get some reasonable straights followed by a tight, slow corner.  That means cars can get up close, in the slipstream on the corner and they have to get the corner just right or they might lock up and if they don't get it right the driver behind has the chance to pounce.

Tilka circuits you often seem to get one gigantic long straight.  Well you need decent straights, but after a point it becomes pointless because aero and engine limits means that once they're at top speed (which happens quick as they accelerate like a stabbed rat) then that's it.  It also then means there are loads of corners crammed in in the rest of the circuit, which just creates a train of cars.

Anyway, this year Canada was pretty good.  I have to confess it was a bit disappointing that Vettel managed to just shoot off past the Mercedes at the start and then was miles in front for the whole race.  Which isn't to say there wasn't plenty going on, it was just further down.

I still don't get the Mercedes - they can pump in a super quick lap in qualifying, but then it's like they turn the wick down for the race.  I mean, I appreciate they may be harder on their tyres so that would cause them problems after a while, but why does that mean they're slower at the start of the race too?

Unfortunately Canada was a little dampened for me as it was actually the day when Iain Banks died.  I didn't know that on the day, but when I found out on the Monday it kinda took the shine off and was a little distracting.

He actually did a few interviews for his new book (which, weirdly, features a character dying from cancer, but was started way before Banks found out he was too.  One of these was broadcast on the telly last week and they have since appeared in the press.  I guess they can't have been filmed long before he died and he did look - well, I wouldn't say bad, but tired and a bit thin, I guess; although obviously it's easy to project how you'd expect him to look into his appearance.

It's an odd feeling knowing someone who was essentially still producing top-class work that you really enjoy is now no longer going to do so.  The last time I recall it was when Kurt Cobain died - all the songs he would have written that now never would.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

why you no bloggy?

So I didn't really explain yesterday why I have been so long without blogging.

The basic reason was a bunch of things... :)

So first off I've been somewhat busy at work.  I mean, I'm not mega busy; I get bits of time where I'm not maxed.  However, I've been tending to use that time to sneakily watch anime on crunchyroll.

I did blog about how I'd watched a few of this season's shows and I've done some of that in the quieter bits at work.  Well they're not paying me very well, so there you go.

I have also watched some of this crunchyroll anime at home, so that's obviously eaten up some time I would usually use for writing the blogs.  However I've also been watching quite a lot of anime on Blu Ray and that takes up a whole lot more time.

And I mean a lot of time - I've watched several whole series (half and full seasons) and a half-season is about 4 hours or so.  The harsh reality is I've had to watch these shows because I needed the money from selling them on e-bay.  Previously I'd "gotten away" with this by ripping them, but I have no means of ripping Blu Ray.  Also while I do have some DVDs I could theoretically do this for Blu Ray you can get a bit more for and the DVDs I have left are ones I suspect I will want to add to my "permanent keepers" pile.

I've also been trying to keep up with the TV, rather than let it slide while I watched all this anime.  My PVR is still very full, but I've been actively keeping it below 60% by watching stuff at the weekends.

And then of course there's the fact I've been playing SimCity quite a bit.

The final big issue was this - .  In case the link doesn't work or dies, one of the sites I frequented posted up a message that, well, I'm not 100% sure quite what it meant.  It seems to be saying that the site is being put on hiatus, but could mean it's going to be switched off.

I won't go into the detail, but basically I had a lot of stuff I wanted to download from it, but if it was going to close that meant I had to do it sooner, rather than later.  I must have spent about 4 whole evenings and 1 weekend sorting through what I could actually download and then downloading it - I still ended up with about 60 images I couldn't get.

I mean, hopefully it's temporary and it will come back in some form, but if not I had to act.

So in summary the main issue has mainly been that I've spent my spare time doing other things, rather than writing blog posts.

There was also a bit of a side issue - Ian Banks died and I'm afraid this made me a bit depressed so I therefore wasn't really in the mood to blog for some of it either.

Monday, 24 June 2013

week of whinging (or not)

So I've basically not blogged in about 3 weeks.

There are a number of reasons for this and I thought I'd come back with a week of whinging about some or all of these, but I'd also thought I'd write them over the weekend and I didn't do that.  Instead I basically spent all weekend playing SimCity, so I'm not sure I'm quite going to be doing the whinge week.

I discovered some people on YouTube who have been posting some hints and tips that are actually helpful and I've started to understand the mechanics of the game a bit better.  This means it's much more playable, but it also starts to make me think that it's misnamed.  It doesn't simulate any sort of city I've ever seen.

I'll give you a very basic example - education and jobs.  So you can place a grade school when the game starts and later unlock a high school.  Now the names are obviously American, but given those names would you not expect that a grade school educates your Sims to one level and then a high school to another.  And the grade school is for young Sims and the high school for older Sims.  There's also a university and a community college - these must be for even older / working age Sims, right?

That's not how it works.

The grade school and high school are identical in their function - they take in uneducated "kid" agents and turn them into educated agents.  They then take this education back to their homes and cause the homes to become educated, which eventually causes them to have less garbage and more recycling and have solar panels for less power use, etc.  So the high school is basically just an upgraded grade school and having both in your city is counter-productive.

Every day at 6AM the kids flop from being educated to uneducated.  Throughout the day they will leave their houses and be transported to the school by buses (this is for schools) - there's no need for them to all arrive at the start of the day.  This can perpetuate for eternity - there's no sense in them growing up or becoming workers.

The community college and university do the same job with a slight tweak - the kids (now called students) have to make their own way there.  This may be via car or whatever public transport.  But again, having education facilities of different types is actually counter-productive - your schools rob students from the college/uni.

This has a particular danger in that colleges and unis also have an additional function.  As your students attend they generate "tech level".  This is a sort of weird fluid that flows out from your college/uni (like water or power) and feeds the buildings that use it.  A college gives you tech level 2 and uni tech level 3.

The problem therefore is that fi your students aren't getting to uni/college then your buildings that need tech level will be starved.  This may make them, for example, stop working (high tech industry), become inefficient (electronics buildings) or cause a meltdown (nuclear power) - hence the danger.

And of course this isn't how you would expect it all to work; but what makes it confusing and annoying in the game is that the messaging reflects how you might expect it to work (your universities turn your kids into workers or your workers into educated workers, perhaps?).  So you'll get a message to the effect of "not enough educated workers", but what it actually means is that not enough students are going to uni and your tech level "fluence" is not enough to fill up all the buildings, like your water might not be enough to fill up all the buildings.