Tuesday, 30 October 2012

OK feedback time

Assuming anyone as well as from Fern and my brother actually reads this blog. What's lousy & needs changing? Is there anything that's good enough to pursue further?


Is the number of this post.

I wonder if the blog is working again, comments available (they seemed to be for earlier posts EXCEPT the first post after I updated).

Still not been able to move time & date stamps from above to below posts, but we're getting there. All the links should be updated and working, a couple of dead/inactive links have been deleted and there's a little movement where blogs simply aren't updated much. More hacking about later to make the new format fit a bit better.

Curiously enough I was just comparing the old format in my minds eye with what I've seen of Windows 8, and reckon the simplicity of that flat layout isn't far off.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Well, here's something I hacked together.

It turns out my last saved temple *on my home computer* dates from 2008, hence goofy links (gummy worm pizza anyone?) and my Macbook isn't to hand (I KNOW there's a recent saved template there from September).

Fiddle about guys, see if you can break anything.

Tomorrow I may review the blogposts on TBOTAM with a view to copying across anything appearing worthwhile.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

TBOTAM - Life in transit

I have created a new blog - http://tbotam.blogspot.co.uk/ - as a temporary place to post while I sort out The Blog Of The Ancient Mariner.

Comments work, it looks a little reminiscent of this place, but it's got that 'new car' smell to it. Wander over, say 'hi' and try the upholstery. Sometime I'll get round to fixing up this place. If I can be disciplined then I'll cross-post so that both have the same content, but don't count on it.

See you there.


Sunday, 21 October 2012

Pear Linux 6 - Bartlett

So I gave in and upgraded to PL6 Bartlett.

It's pretty good with a few teething issues so far. Lighter and quicker than PL4 Comice that I ran previously, there's a few cosmetic tweaks in the menu bars, plus Dockey (the dock application) has been replaced with plank because of it's very low overhead. Plank is much less refined, but does have a much lower overhead. All round it's been sped up generally, and apart from start up it feels quick zippy.
Problems? Well it wouldn't play DVDs to begin, all down to libdvdcss. The library containing a version of libdvdcss was installed, but didn't seem to be working (even though it had worked in PL4). Downloading libdvdcss2 fixed that, though playback glitches with a very brief pause about every 7-10min. Also mouse scrolling was reversed by default (like Apple's un-natural scrolling that I understand was a feature of Lion and ML) and the switch to undo that 'feature' wasn't obvious (hidden in pear tweaks applet). the appstore was also temperamental, sometimes falling over if 'pushed' a little.

Is anything new?

There are native apps for facebook, G+ and twather. Never thought I'd care, but it's nice to have 2 less tabs to keep open or hunt for in firefox, and although they aren't the greatest interfaces, it's still less effort than firing up a browser & then hunting down the page.

Also in the appstore was Calibre, which is a program for importing and converting ebooks between different formats, loading them onto readers etc. I've not tried it yet, but those who use it consider it essential for ebook reader owners, and since we both have Kobos it should be handy.

Worth mentioning that icons and text etc have been crisped up a little, each iteration making linux better and better as an operating system. It's not that icons or fonts are a really big deal, but having a crisp, well defined display takes a degree of strain out of use and generally helps the user to settle and work more efficiently. Maybe it's because I spend more time in from of non-windows computers these days, but I don't find W7 especially nice to use, though XP is still pretty much the benchmark in efficiency and user-friendliness. I would be happy to use pear Linux as my everyday OS now, and that is a huge step forward compared to 2 years ago.

So if you're a windows user and want something that has a Mac-ish look and feel, but runs lighter & quicker and with fewer design flaws (and less features, granted) PL is only an 850Mb download away.

32 bit (as I'm running now) and 64 bit (as I'll download & migrate to shortly) here: http://pearlinux.fr/download/

Hitting 50? Better put the brakes on.

When I was younger I remember seeing various 'old fellers' on bikes. Ken at Reg Barnett's bike shop & De Laune CC in Peckham was over 70 and still riding around (slowly) when I was 15. On my return to cycling in about '99 I was reasonably sure that I'd be able to keep going for another 10 years or a little more, probably up to the age of 50.

Now I'm 51.

There's a side of me that's wanted to go riding still, but I've come to realise that it's all too much effort for not enough fun and enjoyment. If I can't go fast, do silly things & come through relatively undamaged, generally lark about and have fun on a bike then I'm not interested. Over the last 3 years I've made several attempts to re-start cycling, each one ending after a few weeks due to illness or, in the case of this last time, several broken bones. The first ride after recovering had me drop the front wheel down a (concealed) hole and go over the bars again, though without injury. My right calf also still has 4 teardrop-shape scars from catching a chain ring earlier this year.

So I'm seriously considering giving up properly, since I can't seem to get started properly any more. Wonder if I'm being told something?

And TBH I don't have significant amounts of free time or energy now. To keep riding I need best part of every Saturday, preferably with occasional serious week nights out too. There's no way I can manage that, and I already feel torn between the need to be at a men's group and the need for one day of the week where I don't have to be up early to do stuff for the church or work.

So I've pretty much come to the conclusion that my cycling days are over. My bikes both need some attention too, and I don't want to spend £150+ having shock absorbers serviced, plus trying to get new bushes etc and the cost of a new machine is out of the question.

Time to close another chapter of my life then. Maybe I'll ride again if I make it to retirement?

Monday, 15 October 2012

Are you offended?

No, because I choose not to take offence (however I am wounded, because you are a friend).

Now, how should we view the wounds of a friend, if the wounding was actually from them? Worth considering, especially as many will wound - if they can - who are quite distinctly not friends.

Many things to think about. Wish I slept better.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

It's 11.30am Thursday 11th October and here is the news.

We seem to be experiencing accidents recently.

A couple of weeks back we had someone lose control of their car while driving down the hill outside our house, coming to rest part-way into our garden having hit the wall by our gate. The car was quite drivable, but we now have an extra 'rockery' feature from the pile of stones that remain from the wall, plus a permanently open gate. It's not a real problem except for the hassle of getting quotes for the re-build (and no-one wants to give quotes for an insurance job they might not get) and the stress of having to deal with it (thank you my love).

And then Monday Chris borrowed my car so she could take my mother to the hospital (the wheelchair won't easily fit in the beetle) and was rear-ended by someone not paying attention. To add insult to injury, it also meant that the boot could not be opened, negating the purpose of having that car, and the car itself could not be locked because the central locking detected that the boot lid wasn't shut. So again, for her more hassle calling insurance companies, repair & hire centres* etc.

And we've both been coldey this week too, me worse, but none the less neither great. Sleep is less than ideal (partly self-inflicted, but an aspect of having a cold is that my body won't relax and my mind doesn't rest) so I'd rather like to go back & re-start our time from when we came back from France!

The good news is that Ben passed his full motorcycle test this week, and is now driving a Yamaha Fazer 600 instead of having to cycle to work. For non-brits, the test is in 4 parts, with an initial computer based assessment, then compulsory basic training (CBT - you have to demonstrate basic handling skills on a 125 before being allowed on the road) followed by 2 practical riding examinations. Riding conditions in the UK are very demanding due to the density of population & traffic, and much more hazardous than the happy days when I could sling a leg over a 100mph motorcycle on my 17th birthday. We're both hoping and praying that he won't bin it while he's still acquiring riding skills and familiarity over the next couple of weeks (nor afterward).

Ben is not immune though, and received a couple of speeding tickets yesterday in the post from his holiday time in France back in August. Wonder if I'll get some too?

More good news is that I finally got the Rayburn (kitchen range-type cooker & heating unit) running again last weekend. When I'd shut it down in the spring it was running fine, but trying to start it in September was unsuccessful, with it running briefly and then producing clouds of oily smoke. I'd known there were some issues and sent it away to be serviced/repaired (which they did to the tune of £341) but the same pattern of behaviour was repeated when it was refitted. Further investigation showed the section of the rayburn transferring hot gasses to the chimney to be full of soot, thus preventing it running. D'oh. We removed almost a carrier-bag full of soot and it then ran fine. Makes a huge difference to have a source of background heat in the house.

That's pretty much it.

*Hire centres:
I have a courtesy car while the pug is being repaired: a brand new Ford Fiesta, with just 120 miles on the clock. Interesting to compare it with the Peugeot 206+ I had in France a few weeks back. It may be the newness, but it's much harder to drive smoothly than the 206, with brakes being 'sticky' and steering somewhat twitchy. It might be better for hammering round corners and it certainly *looks* sporty by comparison, with smoother lines and a low roof. However the low roof means that I hit my head getting in! The interior is 'nice Ford' and has more gadgets and visually exciting stuff than a typical Peugeot of a similar level, but also looks more 'video gameish' and faffy. A less than impressive aspect was the lump of black material under the clearcoat on the drivers side rear pillar - if this car were mine and brand new then it might well have gone back for that - not good! Over all, on one days driving, this is not a car I'd choose to buy unless it were on looks alone.

The guys at the hire centre were really nice dealing with us, and it's heartwarming to receive pleasant customer service in an industry not particularly noted for it.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Tonight I'm a little sad.

I had a friend, or rather friends, because at one time a couple we knew well took their family out to France, feeling they had been called there.

Cut a long story short, my friend met someone else on the internet while he was going through a difficult time with the church and in other ways, and decided that was the end of things. His stance became increasingly angry and bitter, taking a stronger and more offensive anti-Christian (and sometimes other faiths too) stance in his facebook posts. There was less and less good and more and more that was barbed and designed to wound.

Tonight, I expressed how I felt, how he'd become eaten up with hatred, how the friend I once ate with and made music with had gone.

At least being de-friended when the friend you once had no longer exists doesn't hurt.

I mourn the loss of the man I knew. Of the husband he once was, the father, the friend, the leader. Life can never be the same for him, never to know the purity of a first and only partner, of children growing in an unbroken family.

So he was all to blame then?

I don't know. Nothing is ever straightforward in marriage, but sometimes you can ride the feelings like surfing on the crest of a wave, while other times you just have to swim against the current of feelings to stay still. But in the end, a marriage will stay together as long as both parties choose it to, and will fall apart when that ceases. No marriage will ever fail without deliberate sin, and if one party has chosen that path, there's little one can do to stop them unless they want to be stopped.

I'll still miss him, but not as much as his family will miss the man he once was.

I'm evaluating/testing Pearlinux 6

And I have to say that it makes this system feel like I've just added an SSD.

It's WAY quicker than my SSD-equipped Macbook, running off a relatively slow WD 320Gb 2.5" drive.

This install is just an alpha version, but if they can keep the speed up (and there's a lot to suggest it can be done) then this will be a very worthwhile upgrade. I'm genuinely impressed.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

I have a generous wife.

And a new Kobo reader as an anniversary gift.


At least we won't be competing for hers now.


Thursday, 4 October 2012

Somehow, someone managed to publish a comment

I'd love to know how they managed it, since I can't see comments at all!

It was on the 'do you ever watch' post.

Thanks Johanna.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

31 years ain't shabby.

If you'll forgive the colloquialism.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Do you ever watch

and wonder whether you're seeing someone quietly (or otherwise) lose their marbles as they blog?

And if you did, would you try to help them (as if you even could) or just keep looking from the sideline, wondering without ever knowing if the online life they posted was their best or worst expression of how things really were. Hard to tell if someone is really a loony or just trying to be radical in their own way.

Lets hope it's only the latter, and assume I simply don't know them very well.