Monday, 11 November 2019

For those who thought the European Union was like a United states but further east:

They have the Gallileo satellite system cock up.

There are many highly admirable things about the EU that makes it a very worthwhile organisation, but there's also a side to it that most of us would rather forget or pretend doesn't exist. It's not merely chaotic and confused, but also self-protecting and deliberately opaque instead of transparent.

Over the last few months I've been gradually drifting towards being more Euro-centric, but this kind of thing reminds me of why departure seemed a good idea originally before all the other faeces around Brexit became apparent. I guess the upside is that it's NOT like the United States of America, but it does seem to share a common problem of corruption.

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

blogger for Android has been updated

I *think* it works better - let's see. 

Can I post pictures from the phone?

This is what we have:
but this sounds like it should look beautiful:

Yup, looks like it works! 🙂

Monday, 4 November 2019

Trauma wasn't expected

I have a self-image that's a bit roughy-toughty: get damaged mountain biking & just carry on, bash myself - ditto, develop a large & bloody blister while hiking (in Morocco, that finally resolved a couple of weeks ago) - just keep going. etc.

I saw the dental hygienist this morning, and it left me traumatised. Head aching from the tension of holding my mouth open while she worked, not swallowing down the bloody goo & debris. Once outside the surgery my head was slightly spinning and very definitely wasn't happy, with the walk up to the car in the multistorey car park leaving me a bit gaspy and breathing hard. This isn't how I expect to be, and should be able to take a bit of minor medical pain in my stride.

Guess I'm getting old.

Self-driving cars

Apparently these are now a (partial) reality, despite so much expectation to the contrary.

Thank you Lauralea

Is what Chris said this morning. We remember that store cupboard.

Friday, 1 November 2019

Please don't do this.

Please don't become one of those 'religious nutjob' organisations, who give up critical thinking and basic integrity in order to promote their message.

Today I received an email message from our church stream advertising a 'bibleweek' (actually 5 days, hey ho - it's not all bad) that started with the following:

"When Joshua and the tribes encountered the commander of the Lord’s army it was in preparation to take a nation for Christ"
It's as though we're back to the old Sunday School joke about the answer to the teachers question - it may have floppy ears and a fluffy tail, but you know it's still Jesus. My ghast is completely fabbered - a couple of hours on, I can't believe anyone who had actually read the original passage to which this is connected could write that. I have politely emailed my astonishment to them, and if anything illuminating appears, will report it here.

On second thoughts, perhaps it was cleared by the leader of their huddle, so that's alright then.  [8¬O

I really wonder about this Christian faith business.

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Skinny Jogger

Just walked past some 'trousers' using the word loosely, bearing that title. "Not me then" I thought. 😉

Tesco have a 20% off deal on clothing and there are some nice jumpers, but I already have a drawer full. 🤔 🙁 😊

Monday, 21 October 2019

Just let the Macbook update

Dang, that thing is slow.

There was a time it seemed fine because software demands were quite small, whereas now they're relatively huge and getting huger (Yeah, I know that's not a word, but it's more fun than some other choices) and the poor old thing struggles & sweats.

The update download - it's too old to run Mojave, which the app store tried to suggest as an update - was more than 1GB, and the installation time is estimated at 13min. Curiously, I remember the first point update to OSX when I'd only had the machine a couple of months, and THAT was also 1GB, which was a real problem since we only had 2meg broadband, possibly not even that, and it took fully overnight to arrive.

It's presently got 8GB RAM and a 256GB SSD, but there's simply no substitute for a fast processor; I can hear the fans whistling away as I type this while it's working.

So now it's done one restart after 6 or 7 minutes whistling and there's now 11 minutes remaining. Where's that rolleyes smilie?

I'd been using it because we wanted to recover a facebook password for an account created in 2016 in order for Chris to follow Ben using an Android tablet. It never happened, but it's the only current facebook account we have now AFAIK, and she will now use it to generate an Instagram account so she can see the stuff he regularly posts there. Using OSX again is a little like laying down in a soft bed where a number of prickly things have been scattered: some of it feels really good, but there are aspects that make the overall experience unpleasant. The app store requiring you agree to updated Ts&Cs before doing the updates, presenting you with an enormously long piece of text and then requiring that you have read and accept them at the bottom when it's obvious that you couldn't reasonably do so was one. The keychain tool presenting hashed passwords instead of plain text was another (I'm sure it used to give plain text).

After I complained out loud about the terms & conditions Chris said I was always like that with the Mac. I'm just not an Apple person, and their complete arrogance sticks in my craw.

Update done eventually.

It's tempting to flog the Macbook, but I'm not sure it's worth it. The machine is a handy spare laptop, and even though the battery isn't up to much now, it's still useful portable computing for light stuff.

We bought Chris a new laptop just a few weeks back - a Lenovo C530 - and it's really nice. Light, fast (faster than this XPS, although that's not a surprise) and with a much better screen than the Mac. It was far from expensive, but feels really nicely made, with a clean, slim aluminium shell that fits together well. Spent a couple of days moving data over, installing applications and migrating accounts. On a Mac it would have been easier/faster using time machine, but OTOH this is a chance to de-clutter & re-organise stuff a bit. I also made sure there's wasn't another nested 'Chris stuff' folder that never got unpacked as has happened in the past, more-or-less putting everything back on the desktop where it had been.

Oh, and Office XP applications start in the blink of an eye. ;)

Eventually I'll need to upgrade the XPS, but for now it's still good.

Thursday, 17 October 2019

I hope this works

Tell me what's wrong with this page.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Is it age or difference?

So last week I signed up to Instagram.

Presumably the site is designed for ordinary people to use easily, but through the phone it's really clunky, awkward, un-intuitive. I feel a need to start using it, partly because Ben posts his pictures there, partly because I need to start using it to promote my pictures too.

Maybe it's better through a browser?

There have been 2 major social media sites that made little sense to me over the last 10 years, Instagram being one, Twitter the other. I hope Instagram gets better, and it should. Twitter feels like punching your self in the face repeatedly, and I cannot imagine why any sane person would use it.

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Sometimes it's nice to have a little confirmation.

Probably no-one will remember that I blogged about seeing a 'new Starwars movie' (I think it was The Force Awakens) and was somewhat appalled that how one half of the human race was portrayed.

It seems that I was not alone.

Thanks to Inky, whose blog I still read, I saw this Dilbert cartoon.

According to one source Scott Adams had seen the same film and it produced this response. We no longer expect women to be universally weak, stupid and incapable, so why should we tolerate seeing men in films that way? Misandry is no better than misogyny.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

The more life stays the same, the more it changes

I have 10min before leaving for a meeting off-site, and little concentration for other things.

I have become aware that the aging process - and other quirks of genetics & susceptibility - are affecting those I know of a similar age. A good friend has had prostate cancer and is now developing parkinsons: he is suffering the slings and arrows of hormone therapy for the first and trying to come to terms with the changes the second is making. Another good friend has an inherited respiratory condition that's causing his lungs to get gradually chewed away.

My voice seems to be changing - becoming sometimes husky, sometimes a bit squeaky. It's not a bad deal compared to either of my friends above, but it makes me even more reluctant to speak up at a time when personal confidence is not high.

It feels like I've been living the same way for a long time: same house, same wife, same career, same hobbies, same personal weaknesses and strengths. Yet despite my consistence things are changing gradually, yet irresistably.

Monday, 16 September 2019

What's wrong?

The sky has been a dull and unbroken grey all day, I've drunk little and been weeing loads. At least I'm not sweaty and sticky all the time.


Nice to be back in a country where you can throw paper down the loo, water from the tap is drinkable and the shower works predictably. Looking forward to a good steak and baked potatoes for dinner - tagine is off the menu.

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Down to our last couple of days.

Morocco is - not what I expected.

I reminds a lot of Moghul India, but interpreted through European culture. Certainly the culture feels much less different than India did, even though it's extremely different to the UK.

We've had the stink and crowds of the city, torrential rain in the Sahara desert, blistering sunshine while viewing roman ruins and a beautifully cool morning today in Essaouira. People have generally been extremely polite, friendly, kind, but also a little deceptive and today we saw a couple of English tourists with another man who spoke the local language assaulted by a shop keeper and his friends in the street (no idea what that was about). There was also a protest through the streets last night that we think was about local jobs and tourists causing problems, but can't be certain.

It's been a good trip.

I'd like to come back some time to do a photographic trip, but I'm just not sure. There's a tension bubbling away below the surface. Roadblocks with police checks are common, and on a journey of several hours it's not unusual to pass 4 or 5 - reminded us of Zimbabwe. There are some incredibly wealthy individuals and every restaurant and shop had a picture of the king hanging, yet many people are apparently extremely poor, possibly made worse by tourists attracting beggars.


This will also be a lasting memory of Morocco.

In polite circles it's referred to as adobe when used for buildings, but there have been times when buildings and countryside appeared to blend seamlessly. Roads sometimes disappeared under it. Streets were covered in it. Mud seemed to be everywhere. It's made images of villages being swept away by mudslides very real.

There's a lot to absorb and assimilate.

Saturday, 7 September 2019

1 week in.

OK, Morocco is fascinating, blending African and Arab cultures. For a photographer, there's a picture round every corner and the people seem friendly this far (we were given warnings in our welcome meeting about those who are not).

Each area and hotel has its own flaws and idiosyncrasies: in this one the taps drip, last one had no hot water & toilet didn't work in our room etc etc. Also you can't flush loo paper.

Having an interesting time.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

Keep taking the tablets

A couple of months back I bought a cheap refurbished windows tablet - about £90 - to use as a digital music storage device for church. 12" HD screen, detachable keyboard/screen cover, SD memory card slot to supplement the 64GB of internal storage. It's not exactly a fast performer, being pretty much on a par with the late 2008 Macbook, but it's about half the weight and the screen is really crisp.

Battery life is brilliant.

When new, the macbook would do 4 hours of word processing, or 2 1/2 hours with wifi on for internet. The Dell XPS was similar, although wifi use made almost no difference, but image processing drops life to 2 hours.

This thing gives me >10 hours of internet use.

Would the passengers of Easy Jet flight XYZ

Please go to Gate 5 for Decontrolling.

The unhappy sound of the airport moving passengers from a secure departure lounge back to the outside world. Gatwick North terminal hall is full of people and there is a queue that runs almost the length of the hall, presumably of cancelled Easy Jet passengers.

I'm grateful that at present our flight only appears to be 3 1/2 hours late.

Normally I would not post 'live' on holiday, but we've got friends living in the cottage while we are away, and it will be as secure as if we were there.

I suppose one of my biggest disappointments is

That there is no answer.

Everyone seems to have lots of answers when you're searching for faith: lots of scriptures that can point you in the right direction, encourage you to believe, re-assure you about how wonderful it all is.

What happens when you start to look a bit harder and become concerned it's a house of cards?

What happens when you start to look at a card and realise it's possibly not standing on anything?

I get that we need to use eyes of faith, I really do, but you need more than a wish to base that faith on. We know that 'reality' will let us down, and as Christians we live on the basis that the world is broken and failing. At the same time, the more I read the bible the more I read things that look like they have been made up, possibly for all the best reasons, but still made up.

And the thing that ticks me off most is that there is no answer.

Someone I knew a little - pastor of a church in Abingdon - had a heart attack and died the day I started writing this post.

A good friend's wife died of cancer a couple of years back, leaving a young family.

We may have some experience of this kind of thing too.

I'm fed up with the thinking that it's more important to reach out than to understand what we're offering.

Yesterday I bumped into the people who I now realise helped start me on this path of thought and theology. They had a thing about the people of Israel and the rock that went through the desert with them as described in 1 Cor 10 v3-4 - they believed that there was a physical rock that followed the Israelites through the desert, and that rock was Jesus in some other form.

I think it was that point that stopped me being a fundamentalist and instead started me searching to know what was true and what was just made up.

People like to make up stuff, not from malicious intent, but because they just want to have something to believe in that helps explain why the world is like it is and provides them something to believe in and bring hope and comfort. I'm NOT saying that Christianity is all a fiction, but that it has absorbed various peoples made up stuff along the way. At one time I would be cross about this corruption, but at the moment I'm just accepting it for the reasons above. Disappointing, frustrating, but nothing to burn someone at the stake over.

How do you know something is a fiction? It's hard to tell, but if people feel the need to defend their god by force of arms, anger and violence then that's a pretty strong clue they know it's not true. If god is really God, why would He need people to fight for him?

I've tried to stay quiet

About the bizarre 'buggers-muddle' to borrow an old English phrase, that has been Brexit.

For those who've not read the blurb that way & I'm an Austrian who has lived in the UK since 1 was 1 year old, so more than 57 years. Although I wish otherwise, my feeling is that Britain as a country will probably be socially stronger separate from EU, although it will likely hit people in their pockets and cause some severe hardship to the poorest. That's not the point though, and it would be much 'easier' for Britain to remain.

What is the point?

It's been a really odd journey to get to the point the british government is at today.

The first bit of stupidity was the referendum (not legally binding) that was set up with a poor set of choices and a failure to create a sensibly high threshold above which a popular vote to leave must reach in order for the vote to be meaningful. At least the PM who was responsible for such a situation 'fell on his sword', though I wonder if he should have been forced to stay in office until the whole mess was sorted out.

Perhaps such an obvious device as a threshold was ignored because the vote wasn't binding, except that it has been made so in political circles. The nature of politics is that those who fight through its mire are seeking any kind of weapon they can use, and this presented such a thing with a good sharp edge and a strong handle to swing it by.

The next bit of stupidity is what happened immediately afterwards.

In time of crisis political parties have often pulled together to work things out, thus I expected the 2 main parties to settle down and try to figure out the best way through. Not a bit of it. Apparently everyone in parliament decided they should do their own thing, and if not part of the presently ruling party then attempt to pull that party down, not helped by the newly selected PM deciding that she should call a general election, neatly losing most of the previous majority her party had.

So 3 years on Theresa May (probably a genuinely well intentioned woman, but apparently slightly inept politician) has been replaced by the less honest and distinctly wily Boris Johnson. He saw what had happened and decided enough silly-buggers had been played in parliament, therefore arranged things so that the UK would almost certainly be able to leave the EU with a no-deal hard Brexit - where we find ourselves now. I don't especially like what he's done, but admire the skill with which he's circumvented the efforts of those who were determined to just keep spinning out the who process with no possible chance of resolution.

I wrote the majority of this post a couple of days back.

We are presently sat in Gatport Airwick waiting for a plane.

Why mention this?

Our flight is delayed due, apparently, to industrial action* on the part of French air traffic control. The airport was relatively quiet when we got here at 9am, but at 11.35 it's full of people whose flights have been delayed. If you want a reason why Britain wants to leave the EU, never mind all the stories about darkies or polish plumbers taking jobs away, this is it. The British are different. The disease that allows people to sod-up the lives of others in arbitrary fashion has infected the UK a little, but it's still not really taken hold. In France it's the national pastime, and has been for generations. The Brits don't do corruption or green stuff like the Germans, graft and anarchy like the Italians and Greeks, laid-back lifestyle like the Spanish. On they whole they just try to mostly follow the rules without putting people out too much.

I can shrug my shoulders gallic style about the strike & delays, but this is the kind of thing that they see their European neighbours doing that hacks them off and makes them back Boris.

Is Brexit a good thing? I REALLY don't know, though I expect everyone will be a bit poorer as a result, at least in the short-medium term. I can see good reasons for both remaining and leaving, both come with a price and simply deciding to remain after all will come with a high price, not necessarily monetary, too.

Hope we don't have ANOTHER war here.

*Correction - apparently it was a computer failure, but my point remains and striking Frenchmen is sufficiently common, even normal, that it doesn't matter they were apparently working as usual on this occasion.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Happy 30th birthday

Hard to believe you could be 30 now, or would have been. Time has flown, I've aged since you've been gone.

What might have been? Would you have children now? A home? A husband? Would you have gone into nursing or discovered another area that drew your interest?

We'll never know now, the things that might have been, the future lost.

Miss you.

Friday, 2 August 2019

Just in case you wondered whether Facebook

was an organisation based on lies and deception, the answer is, as we expected all along.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Change is here to stay

Or if this is done properly then you won't be worrying about getting change. Watch out for crytpocurrencies becoming a big(ger) deal in the next 3-5 years.

Just be careful where you put your money (under the mattress may not be such a bad place - wish that's where I'd put my pension contributions)

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

This is the very last upgrade.... ever.

For my Dell XPS 15.


It started out with a 1TB HDD and a 32GB mSATA cache drive that, thanks to some clever software was able to store all the bits of Windows etc that were needed frequently and present them to the processor at SSD speeds. Performance out of the box was fantastic, making the 6 YO Macbook with SSD it replaced look like it was steam-powered.

Then came the photos, and it began running out of space on the HDD. In search of a little more performance and a little more space, the HDD was replaced with a 1TB Sandisk SSD and the 32GB mSATA card with a 256GB mSATA. This was excellent, with startup in under 20sec and was probably about the fastest it could ever be. It had a bit more space than might have been expected too, because I was able to do a fresh install of W10, ditching some of the cruft & unused applications, data remaining from the upgrade from W8 to W10 etc, and I gained more space than a simple mirroring of drives might have provided.

But as night follows day, so drive space fills up.

First off I ended up literally filling the 1TB drive to the last couple of GB with a combination of images and data, so it was swapped (with some disappointment) to a 2TB HDD, and there was a distinct performance hit, even though all the OS files were on the SSD boot drive. Then I realised that had filled up too, and I ended up deleting quite a lot of data & applications, plus during one of the W10 'upgrades' the drive had been further partitioned, wasting space.

More room was needed.

Now unfortunately mSATA drives are 'old tech', out of fashion and superceded by NVME spec drives. Prices were actually holding up better than newer, more consumer oriented drives. I'd been watching the price of obsolete 1TB mSATA drives for some time, afraid they were going to become unobtainable, unwilling to spend £150 on another drive. Then a few weeks back Amazon Italy (why Italy? who knows?) did a special deal offering Samsung 860 drives (the only remaining 1TB mSATA drives now available) for about £97, and while looking at the offer page clicked what I thought (really did) was the link for translating into GB Pounds, that was actually 'buy this in GB Pounds'.

So as a result of that happy accident I've just finished Doing a clean install of W10 build 1903, and having sorted out the various system framework drivers (Dell's good drivers are older than the generic versions Windows automatically installed that badly throttle the system, so wouldn't install automatically) etc it works really nicely. Finally did that + sort out emails last night.

So, a couple more years use, hopefully, by which time the machine will be 7, 8 years old and still fast and effective.

* If memory prices keep dropping then a 4TB storage SSD would be tempting. ;-)

Friday, 19 July 2019

went out for a walk this lunchtime*

I went out for a walk at lunchtime and found an elderly man sitting on the kerb by the side of the road absolutely crying his eyes out. "What ever is the matter?" I asked.

He sobbed "I'm 96 years old and I live in a lovely old manor house with beautiful landscaped gardens. I have a brand new Range Rover, two Ferraris and a classic Aston Martin; but best of all I have the most beautiful and loving wife... she's only 25, she has a wonderful figure and used to be a fashion model before we got married. She's also a Michelin Star winning chef and cooks me the most delicious and healthy meals every day. She can sing like an angel, she's so kind and funny, and we have the most amazing love life... and in addition to all that, twice a week she drives me to the local pub so I can have a few pints with my photography friends and talk camera kit and techniques all night."

I said "What on earth are you crying for then?" He sobbed "I've forgotten where I live!".

*Not really, it's been raining most of the day.

Friday, 12 July 2019

That's "Not OK Google"

You know all those fears we dismissed as paranoid delusions, that google WAS listening all the time despite assurances to the contrary.

Apparently they were at least partially correct after all.

I remember a time when some people using devices like this monitored packet traffic to be sure nothing was being sent back to base during normal conversations. It seems that just because you think they're out to monitor you, doesn't mean they aren't.

Wonder what GDPR will make of this?

Monday, 8 July 2019

Making asses of u and me.

A little snippet on The Register this morning about a company that assumed its data was backed up 'in the cloud'. Just remember, the backups are there for THEIR data, and not yours, if you're someone who stores all there stuff online for 'free'.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

At last, a film I want to see in the cinema

It seems someone has, in 21st century style, made a documentary of the Apollo 11 mission, editing together & restoring original footage. This might actually be worth paying to view on a big screen - I was almost 8 when it happened, and still remember the sense of excitement and the possibilities we might aspire to.

Later the capsule and some moon rock toured the UK. My grandfather took both my brother and I to the Biggin Hill airshow where, in a hangar, we were able to see them. the capsule seemed enormous, burnt black on the bottom. Much later I saw a re-entry capsule in the space centre at Houston, and was amazed at the incredibly tiny size - hard to imagine getting 3 men to live inside it for a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Would you buy a book from this vendor?

Or would you 'buy' any digital content?

Copyright, DRM and ownership are a 'knotty problem' to say the least, when it comes to stuff online. In the early days I took a fairly hard-line approach personally, trying to treat stuff that was obviously 'owned' as though it were property, even though it was available online without the actual owner suffering any loss if I acquired the digital content.

Then came Youtube, Google prime, music and video streaming, torrents, vodlocker etc. Copyright and ownership of digital content became psychologically blurred, even though the legal framework hadn't really changed.

But the thing that's really blurred the line for me is the issue over digital content that's been paid for.

We have a couple of Kobos - painfully slow digital book readers, the business was acquired by Rakuten a few years back - plus a Nook (Barnes and Noble) and a Kindle. The Nook went first, with the digital rights being sold to Sainsbury, who then lapsed the business completely - I have no idea if we can still read books on that. Around the dsame time we also became aware that Amazon did sometimes actually pull content from Kindles if they decided that you didn't have a right to carry on reading the stuff you'd paid for. Now it seems that Microsoft are removing access to any books bought through their service, giving limited refunds in some cases.

There are lots of reasons why the attitude of the public is changing towards digital content and ownership compared to the way physical goods and services are viewed, but I reckon a big driver is this feeling that you never actually own what you pay for. In some ways the software companies are recognising this too, with SAAS (software as a service) becoming more common, where you rent use of applications on a subscription basis, being locked into repeated payments to the developer. One could discuss the pros and cons of that, but my feeling is that it will reduce the barrier to acquiring digital content regardless of copyright.

Friday, 28 June 2019

What's in a name?

If you've ever been a fan of the iDevice then you'll probably know of Jony Ive, whose departure from Apple has been announced today. He's setting up his own company: LoveFrom.

Or is that LoveForm?

Every article I've read thus far has been written as if the new biz is called LoveFrom, but someone speaking on the radio this morning called it love form, which makes far more sense for a design business.

I wonder if we've just seen a moderate failure of software design from an over-enthusiastic spill chucker?


Not that my own output here couldn't use a bit of decent proof-reading sometimes. :-(