Wednesday 25 June 2014

Faith and expectation.

And having put a title I now don't want to write.

And when I started writing, the words I wanted to put didn't bring life, but reinforced a negative message. Which I shall not accept.

In many ways it's been a really good afternoon, putting together the maps and directions for our trip to Canada. That was a challenge in itself with one particular place requiring me to 'drive' 42km from Jasper along highway 16 with google maps to find the place we're staying.

The Macbook (my travel computer on this journey) has just finished updating, and I'm getting the Kindle app to download the latest books. Next will be to sync Kobo app and delete unwanted information from the drive to make space for photos.

I think that I shall leave the office shortly (and a little early) to go for a run so that I'm recovered in time for dinner, followed by packing. Going through clothes >24 hours ahead of departure is always a good plan to avoid panic.

Sorry things are quiet here.

That's just how it's going to be for now. The important things are still in process, and there's no will to talk about the trivia.

Monday 23 June 2014

So I've been doing a little route planning just now.

We shall shortly visit a friend who lives in a field (his expression!).

For someone who grew up in the greatest city on Earth (;-)) and lives in a 300 year old house just up the lane from a chapel that was recorded in the domesday book and where every local route, track, thicket and pond has been named, probably several times over, it is astonishing to look up a house by map reference.  Road names are highly descriptive: Township road 442, Range road 230, 231 etc, and with the highlight of Highway 822 running through the middle. Of course we have some long, straight roads here too, just like them, but they were built by the Romans......

I'm really looking forward to this time in a different place. I've a sense it's very different from the places we've been before, even if people are the same everywhere.

Thursday 19 June 2014

ALL Dell computers are called Dellboy round here. ;-)

Quick summary - glad I bought it, not perfect, an equivalent Macbook pro was not worth an additional £800.

So I'm getting used to windows land.

Having a Mac has made me lazy, dumb and careless, partially because OSX is so well set up that you don't have much fiddling to do when starting fresh, but significantly because there is so little of the annoyances you can fix that one loses a will to get under the bonnet and tinker.

The things I miss MOST about the Macbook is the really excellent trackpad, time machine backup software and less pastel colours in the OS interface (see above comment - I've been too lazy/sheep-like to even think about changing them). The trackpad on this *looks* like apple's track pad, in that it's the same size and rocks at the front edge to provide a positive click. However it's covered in black rubber-effect coating and just lacks reliable sensitivity, occasionally glitching or scrolling in jerks. When the 'forearm protection' setting was turned on originally it was bad to use, where as now it's just not as good as something that is best in class, but quite useable. The keyboard is also a little less good, but that might be because it's located further away from the front of the device.

Dell have included their own backup software, which I've yet to explore fully. Again, Time Machine is a remarkable product, and I'm hoping to get something with this that is useable, but with reduced convenience compared to TM (as long as it will do incremental backups and I can actually recover if I need to then that's all I need). It did allow me to create a USB drive to return the laptop to it's factory-fresh state, and that's a brilliant bonus to have when it doesn't come with installation media. Drive created and stored!

The pastel colours I am becoming use to - the ribbon menu was an unfamiliar blur to begin with, but with customisation (that I should know ALL ABOUT as a Linux/KDE user) it's become quite useful. The ribbon menus are definitely a backward step from a traditional menu system, but were designed for touch-screen control, so no surprise they're a bit of a backward step. Ribbon has also happened on the Mac, so even if I'd bought another Macbook I'd still have been stuck with the same old silliness, and I would have HAD to get a new version of Office because 2008 was not working properly under Mavericks.

So outside of that.

Most of the time it's a brilliant upgrade. A lot of stuff 'just works' like it 'just worked' on the Macbook, sometimes better. Networking is a great example, where I can see things on the network that were hidden with the Macbook. There's a shared printer in the next room, for example, that windows will automatically connect with and print to if I want. I also really appreciate that it will run several applications at once without getting its knickers in a twist, and it's nice to be able to watch DVDs or video clips online without the internal fans sounding like a hurricane. The only time it sweats is when creating smart previews under lightroom, where it's manipulating a lot of data and really causing the processors to run flat out for a period. But even then it will still manage other tasks, rather than slowing to a crawl. It did have a hiccup with a crashed application seizing control of the cursor, and that was fixable through the start page.

Battery life is a bit better than when I first bought the other Macbook. It will do around 4 hours of surfing with the wireless on, about 5 hours working in outlook, word and excel, and probably about 3 hours working in Lightroom. By comparison the Macbook would do about 3 hours surfing, about 4 hours with wireless off - wireless and especially bluetooth really hammered the battery - in office.

The screen is still a wow factor, while on the Macbook it was a disappointment, even at the beginning. Startup no longer feels astonishing, and I'd guess has slowed to around 15-20sec from a sub 10sec time on a virgin machine. I may replace the 30GB cache mSATA card with a proper SSD at some stage, reinstall from scratch for improved performance.

Anything else?

Updates. People get reallygripe about windows updates, but stuff for the OS only comes out once a week as a few meg, and is no trouble. I also get daily downloads for windows defender - which is great - who wouldn't want regular updates to virus definitions?

The start window is useful. I really don't mind hitting the windows key on my keboard to be taken over to the start page if I want to run an application not pinned to the taskbar. It's possibly less hassle than a conventional start menu, and certainly no worse.

Well the carbon fibre bottom of the case feels nicer against the legs when you first sit down with a cold machine compared to an ali case, and the sheer skinniness of it still surprises. The front speakers are also clear, loud and fuller sounding than any laptop I heard before. As long as it keeps up this good behaviour then I shall be very happy indeed.

This is my 3000th post.

Not that I want to say much particularly.

And although blogger records this as my 3000th post, not every post has actually made it through to publication*, sometimes because I'm not read to say that, and sometimes because you're not ready to read that.

Chris and I sometimes joke about things we might say on here - but you're DEFINITELY not read to read those things!

So for better or worse, this is post 3000.

*I've just remembered TBOTAM that was a temporary haven while this place got sorted out, so overall I've posted fully 3000 comments.

Wednesday 18 June 2014

What do you feel when you read?

This morning I read this article on the BBC website about a Christian Palestinian family who are being persecuted by Israel in an attempt to drive them from their land.

The article has been written with some spin (replicated in my opening statement) to provoke anti-Israeli feeling while showing the Palestinians as represented by this family as being essentially good, peaceful people. Clearly not all Israelis are rapacious, landgrabbing and evil, while clearly not all Palestinians are peace-loving, Christian and gentle. But it made me proud to be part of the same family as people like these, who continue without malice or violence and plotting to resist wickedness perpetrated by those who should stand for righteousness.

We had a discussion in housegroup last week, about the return of Jesus and Israel. I very seriously wonder if the present nation of Israel have disqualified themselves from the blessing of God through their treatment of the gentiles around them.

Monday 16 June 2014


Linux Lite 2.0, based on the latest LTS Ubuntu version (what ever number that is now).

I've been running Mint 17 with Mate on the little Philips laptop, and it's simply too demanding to run well on an old 1.6GHz dual core with 2Gb RAM. Which is crazy really, but hey ho (tempted to pop, say, windows XP on there). Mint also behaved a little odd with some of the hardware, whereas LLOS always did well.

46min left.


Installed. Twice as quick as Mint/Mate - it's fluid & doesn't keep pausing - and prints OK. bound to be some teething somewhere, but all seems good thus far.

Now.... bed.

That was the day that was.

To slightly corrupt a line from Alan Wicker.

Fathers day is my most un-favourite of days of the year. I can never lose the sense of failure as a father, of having lost a child, of feeling I've not done as well as I should with our son, and these days starting to feel old, tired and futile. God has been gracious to me, giving us children that we didn't raise, and one of the high points of the day was a text from one of our God daughters to wish me a happy fathers day.

My friend Randall posted an amazing picture of 4 generations of men in his family, each of whom led the people of God in their own generation and illustrating the heritage that he walks in. This is interesting for me, because the Austrian side I most naturally identify with had no such Christian heritage, yet the English sides have a strong line of leaders and preachers in the church, and it seems I have inherited some of that after all through my mum. My English grandfather would speak at a number of different churches covering quite a wide area, but by the time I might have known him as an adult he'd buried 2 wives and was not at all the person he had been. My own father has been dead more than 20 years too, and memories of him are more like photographs than videos these days.

It's a very mixed time emotionally, and mostly either neutral or not good. Right, maudlin time over for another year - on with something else.

Tuesday 10 June 2014

I've been borrowed.

Someone has used my home email address to spoof the 'from' address field in a spam/malware email, and I'm getting large numbers of bounced emails as a result.

I know it's not from an infected machine because it started while my usual computer that receives that address was offline for a few days, and I'm running Linux so none of the usual windows email tools will work. Tedious, but not hard to deal with. All the bounced are coming from German addresses, presumably that's why my address was selected, in order to look German, so at least it's unlikely anyone I know will be getting infected junk from 'me'. Just hope I don't end up blacklisted.

A little recent output.

I live in the country, so photograph what's around me.

The sun can do some magnificent things.

For new life there often needs to be a loss of beauty.

Where are you looking?

PoMo the bear - embrace the doubt.

From The Sacred Sandwich. Those who know me will appreciate the humour for me in this even more.

No bears were harmed in the making of this image.

Sunday 8 June 2014

Ever wanted to read a new Bill Watterson cartoon?

Y'know BW: the man who wrote & drew Calvin and Hobbes?

It seems he has just done a few small cartoons.

Friday 6 June 2014

Yay - my old Firefox is back.

FINALLY managed to import my Firefox profile from the Macbook into Windows, not helped by Apple's inclination to hide things that might be useful, and inconsistent behaviour (so it seemed) of the Finder when trying to find the hidden Library folder. Nuts.

Being without the various add ons I'd installed made me realise just how much adverts mess up the web, with even this (new Dell i7 based) machine being slowed at times because of streamed flash movies. Advertisers - your golden goose is dying a slow and unpleasant death.

In other news, my face is miserable. Forgot to bring analgesics with me today, and Ibuprofen has now worn off.


And my mouth feels/tastes horrible still, with the roof sore from the injections.

I've just re-read that - it's almost funny, me grumbling away - life could be SO much worse!

Thursday 5 June 2014

It wasn't the micky what got extracted.

Yesterday I had an upper left molar out, and while modern dental practice is excellent & relatively pain-free compared to how it used to be (I've had a fair few extractions before) it's left me feeling traumatised. Maybe I was tougher when I was younger?

Hopefully it will stop seeping blood/wound fluids today and the mouth will settle down around the injection sites. Injections used to be more painful than the extractions (but still a good trade-off) and often had longer lasting soreness.

Hopefully the aches & thick head will dissapate during the day.

Wednesday 4 June 2014

Do you ever?

Have something (many things) you want to say, open a page in which to write, then discover you don't want to say them after all?


Just evaluating Linux Mint running Mate as desktop environment as a possible alternative to openSUSE. None of my ordinary base units are working right now, so using that little Philips freevents laptop I picked up cheap a year ago to take to Africa. Thing is that it's fairly old now and not terribly quick/highly specified, so can struggle a bit, and the Mate desktop is meant to be lighter weight than Cinnamon. Mint is a little slower than LinuxLiteOS, but there were no problems getting the printer up & running whatsoever, which was really important since I've not been able to print here for a few weeks.

Just had an interesting time moving the menu panel across from the laptop screen to the external monitor - it was moved automatically when running from the live DVD, but not when running fully installed. alt-click & drag worked, but weird not to make it default to the default screen.

In a few min I'm going to start taking pictures of guitar-related stuff to flog. Chris observed we have too much, and I quite agree with her. It would be nice to release some cash too. So 8 pedals, 2 guitars, maybe an amp or 2 and a bass as well. It's all stuff I've used and enjoyed at various times, but aren't doing so now and can't see a need for it in the future, and maybe it's also a little of the anti-consumer in me coming to the surface.

Monday 2 June 2014

Is that out of focus?

Last week I sent back the Zeiss 16-80mm lens I'd bought the week before through ebay, because the front barrel was loose and flopping around. Only by a millimeter or so, but still loose enough to let me feel the 'clonk', through the camera body.

So this morning I put my old standard 50mm f1.7 lens back on & went to take some pictures in the garden before leaving for work. I just imported them into lightroom & after examining some at 100% magnification, began deleting them because they weren't sharp. After I reached the 3rd image I realised it wasn't the camera that had failed to focus, but that the 'standard' minolta lens was simply much less crisp than the Zeiss I'd returned, and I was binning the images because they simply weren't at the same standard I'd become used to.

Looks like it will need replacing like for like then.