Friday 31 August 2018


Is the bloke who just sat next to me. 😣

Monday 27 August 2018

Thursday 23 August 2018

Looks like the new phone was actually the upgrade for Chris that I hoped.

Not only does it work well, but from first charge on Friday afternoon it went until Wednesday evening before recharging appreciably quicker than the Lumia, despite the battery being 4000mAh vs 2500mAh.

The one fly in the ointment has been that because it's running Android 8, that comes with more options & customisations, I've needed to turn off a lot more device tracking and data scraping stuff. So Google maps really REALLY wants you to photograph & rate locations nearby, tracking you all the while you're there. And they want you to do it so badly they'll keep sending requests that you do it until out of irritation you search through & find the off switches.

Wednesday 22 August 2018

Happy birthday darling.

Hard to believe 29 has come round so soon. I wonder whether you would have children yet, or have chosen a career? I'm sure we'd have been proud of you regardless.

Tuesday 21 August 2018

A little lunchtime reading on the BBC

And I came across this article on the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia.

Scan down to the bit below the picture of Dubcek near the bottom. While the downplaying of the Soviet invasion's negative points nicely illustrates the section heading about historical amnesia, the comment that "When the Soviets invaded, there was no napalm. There was no Agent Orange. Czech women were not forced to become prostitutes for Soviet troops," he went on, taking a swipe at America's war in Vietnam. is very telling.

How is it that when a 'Christian' nation becomes involved, situations are often worse than before. This behaviour is certainly not unique to the United States either, historically speaking, although the impression I have is that the relatively atheistic Europeans have done less of this in the last 50 years.

While we're on short grumbly posts

Driver of the lilac Nissan Pixo in front of me this morning - your vaping habit is..... not pleasant.

I would not have expected the sickly fumes to fill my car when we were driving at 55mph with a 30 yard gap between us. I can't imagine how noxious that vapour must be in your lungs.

Good morning world.

It's funny how one forgets things.

I keep saying how I'd like to go for a run, but just don't feel like it, so encouraged by my wife on Sunday afternoon I did actually run a little. All was well that evening and yesterday at work, but last night legs, joints etc were all grumpy and sleep was scarce. This is quite normal, but it's easy to forget it.

Owning a cat is like having a baby.

You have to keep clearing up faeces and vomit, and it cries piteously when nothing is wrong and it doesn't need any more food. At least it can be locked it the kitchen at night and it will tidy itself away at around 18-20ish years old.

Friday 17 August 2018

I’ve just started reading my first ever Braille horror story.

I think that something scary is about to happen…

I can just feel it...

Friday afternoon.

The replacement for Chris's Lumia phone arrived today - a Xiaomi Redmi* Note 5. Now we have the fun of setting up, trying to move WhatsApp and other data, photos etc. Guess I know how my evening is going to be spent. OneDrive may get used for some stuff, though I'm not sure how to get text messages across yet.


OK, so the phone is now set up & working. It's snappy, the screen is really good plus as a bonus it's running Android 8 and may possibly get 9 at some stage. In the hand it's nicely rounded, yet also surprisingly thin, which is something that the included jelly case doesn't spoil.

First thing was a major GUI update plus security patch, taking security to June this year same as my phone. There was some brief fun & games setting up Outlook, since just a few days before Chris has been forced to change passwords on outlook and, uncharacteristically, had failed to record or memorise the new PW, so we did a quick reset before her email etc account could be set up. Then we did fingerprints to unlock, which took a few goes, but works very effectively.

Further detailed set up took some time, since the OS gives many options for each application in different places, although it's great to be able to control permissions for individual apps, and I also tried to delete a fair bit of the cruft (first victim was facebook - wonder if it's left tracking malware** behind?). Getting contacts across was difficult at first despite instructing Outlook (the email, calendar and contacts manager on the previous phone) and google drive (from the earlier still Android) backup to sync with contacts. Eventually I was offered the option to import a vcard from each, rather than it happening automatically, and then went through the business of merging duplicated contacts (about 40 in all) before the address book was finally over and intact. 

Whatsapp went in & recognised her old account without trouble, and I installed a bunch of tools likely to be useful including HERE with off-line mapping for navigation without internet access, Open camera (phenominal image stabilisation using the phone gyro to stabilise video) plus various other bits & pieces.

Overall it seems a nice tool. I wish they had made something of this spec with a 5" or smaller bezelless format when I bought my phone a few months back - it feels quite laggy by comparison.

*I just noticed the spill chucker changed Redmi to Redmond. Amusing when it's Redmond that is being replaced.

** Yes - it's called Whatsapp.

Thursday 16 August 2018

Pertinent to my earlier post about google tracking your location

Is this article from El Reg.

Also as a matter of interest. I noticed that after I visited the site, without making any changes to settings, the blogger app stopped working on my phone, requiring me to enter my password, which was rejected as 'pattern unrecognised' each time. The phone had clearly remembered my google account settings (I could access gmail) and the only fix was to delete and re-install blogger.

I suspect this is probably a legitimate concern, both from a personal and governmental standpoint.

If you can't drive in the rain

then don't go out in your car.

Grey Toyota Aygo Go! model - I won't put the registration number - driving between 38mph and 51mph on the B4260 (speed limit 65mph). The really frustrating part was that they were continuously accelerating and decelerating, so driving was a case of on and off the accelerator, up and down the gears. In the 50 limit for the last couple of miles into Kidlington it was down to 31-41mph, and mostly high 30s.

It was raining, but only lightly, and since they were the car in front (stupid Toyota advert strapline proving to be true for all the wrong reasons) there was no issue with spray for them, so it really couldn't have been THAT difficult. Unfortunately there was an SUV, another car and then a lorry between the Aygo and my car, and there was never a long enough stretch of clear road to safely overtake what had become quite a strung-out series of vehicles.

Am I imagining this?

Well, when I first caught up with this group there were only 2 cars behind me, but after 5 or 6 miles the stream of headlights behind went back as far as the road allowed me to see, which was a good 1/4 mile and possibly more.


Wednesday 15 August 2018

It looks like privacy concerns may be the least of Australia's worries.

It seems they are capable of electing interesting people to parliament. I'll just park this without further comment.

Tuesday 14 August 2018

Which Bible Will You Choose? We've Got 'Just The One For You' In Eden's Big Bible Sale

I've been thinking a lot about the bible recently: it's authenticity, origins, reasons for being like it is and infallibility as 'the word of God'. While that particular discussion is probably one I'm unlikely to have outside my own head, there was something about the title of this email, posted above, that made me consider how disposable the bible is in modern Christianity. "Don't like that bit of theology? Well here's another translation that puts a different spin on the words".

I was also thinking about some of Paul's writings, how they came to us and why they were written, about whether he'd be as dogmatic about things now as he was then. It also occurred to me that, once I started analysing in a less God-focussed, more intellectual fashion then all sorts of things like women in leadership seem much more reasonable - essentially the further I am from God, the more sense they make.

I've made a big jump over the last decade, from being essentially fundamentalist but wanting to know the truth to viewing things with a far less faith-driven eye and being much more questioning. Is this good? Some would say so, but it's far from ideal, having neither the assurance of knowledge, nor the reassurance of faith.

Do you care whether your activity is tracked by google?

Peering out from under my tinfoil hat for a moment, I'm not *entirely* sure I do, not least is because the aggregated data from millions of android phone users like me is actually useful to those users as well as advertisers.

Ever wondered how google knows where traffic jams are located, or why sometimes routes get changed on the fly?

But at the same time I hate giving my personal data away, which is why I went through my Xiaomi phone when I first got it, turning off and disabling apps & tracking, access to contacts etc. When Chris's Redmi Note 5 arrives (her Lumia 650 is becoming unreliable and the battery only lasts a day or so) in the next few days we'll need to do the same for that.

If you want to check to see whether you've been bleeding data without knowingly allowing it then wander over here. iOS users - this may apply to you too, if you have ever used any services from Google. I was pleasantly surprised to find all my tracking settings switched off, probably thanks to being scrupulous with the Xiaomi, with the exception of youtube content which is useful occasionally (they suggest good videos far less often than one might expect, although there's recently been a run on Marina Sirtis comicon appearances that had me chuckling - she's a real Lundun gel wiv a right norf an sarf).

I almost wish my phone had a sandbox mode, for openly sharing stuff that doesn't matter like location when using maps, and a private mode that locks away contacts etc so that applications which demand access are unable to filch the stuff they have no business sharing (why does an audio recording app require access to contacts?)

And while we're mentioning phones, my Xiaomi 4X did a recent OS update at the end of last week that made it go all slow for a few days. It was getting to the point where I was going to see if there wasn't some way to step it back when suddenly it became all snappy again. Weird. I miss the better wireless performance of the Lumia 640, but I don't miss the apps that didn't work, laggy performance and short screen-on time. I suspect a large part of the excellent standby battery life of the Lumia was simply because the aerial system was very good, and the phone used much less power hunting for a weak and difficult signal. Other manufacturers might learn a lot from the Lumia people.

Australia is not going to be a good place to live

if you value personal privacy. As someone said in the comments "welcome to China".

Monday 13 August 2018

Where do you go to my lovely?

Isn't quite a correct title, but it does please me a little.

Thinking about the Bill Hybels thing, where do you go when you've fallen in a way that you can't hide and is pretty much guaranteed to bite your bum?

Or possibly worse, where do you go when you have serious doubts, as I do now, yet you are stuck in a leadership position (which I'm not, thankfully) upon which your career and income depends? Do you do the 'honest' thing and step down or do you keep going, hope faith comes back and try not to open your mouth in 'unfortunate' honesty to those around you.

A question I have for those who I've seen in their blogs appear to talk about how good it is to be in a place of doubt & and uncertainty while yet remaining Christians, possibly even leaders - how did you do it? If you can't bring more than someone else's words of assurance, should you even try to lead others?

Some of this comes from yesterday's church meeting where Gospel Bell played. It was a 'nice' CoE church with a warm and inclusive welcome. The vicar borrow bits from CoE and celtic traditions, plus wore a hat that fitted with English folk traditions of nature (and probably a bit of paganism) and it all felt very....... I dunno, meaningless I suppose. A construct designed to provide a mix of entertainment and some religious input, some affirmation, but hollow. I made it back to the meeting of the Banbury church we're part of for the last 15min where there was some fairly intense prayer & worship, and that felt odd too, although it did at least feel like there was something solid about it.

It may be because I'm not leading Chris into good spiritual places either, but I don't think the present format of church we are involved in builds us up. Or perhaps it's just me, although I suspect that's not all of the issue.

Sunday 12 August 2018

Here I am, sat in church

It feels a lot like when we were in Israel last year, with religions that weren't mine going on around me. As it is, I'm here to play with Gospel Bell at a fringe event run by the local church at the Fairport Cropredy festival. Being a 'wise virgin' I'm here early so as not to rush or scramble for a non-existant parking space.

The church interior is quite attractive, but this definitely feels like a 'not my church' type of place, and I think I can smell incense too

Thursday 9 August 2018

I'm a little sad to hear Bill Hybels has had to step down

It seems there's been some long-running sexual misconduct going on that eventually came out.

Little surprises me these days about people failing, although it's disappointing when they've been getting away with it for a long time, assuming the BBC is reporting accurately (which may not at all be the case - it's not exactly a paragon of virtue, impartiality and truthfulness any more). We're all human, but it can be hard to not be all too human.

Monday 6 August 2018

This had a certain salty appeal.

Not least because it's a little personally pointed.


Although AFAIK I don't have Alzeheimers, but both of us forget stuff these days. And I do find this kind of humour amusing.

I should probably also point out that the slightly eclectic, rambling words and pictures below were an attempt for me to re-live my childhood memories, visiting the Zoologiocal Society of London gardens at Regents part via canal boat. It was warm (30+ celsius) we got a bit tired and my blogging was less careful and descripive than it might have been.

Sunday 5 August 2018

We all have our foibles and weaknesses

But sometimes one finds something new. Like the chap opposite with a ' superdry' label dangling from his sunglasses. Said chap seems to move his head to make the label swing around.

Chris wondered if it were to counter a problem with flies, like the corks on a jolly swagman's hat.

No pictures, because.

Won't you take me back home (Slade)

On the bus again.

In transit.

Brownings pool.

Waiting for the bus.

In transit

Off to relive a memory

Saturday 4 August 2018

Another year older

I'm grateful the debt isn't mounting, however. Nice to have the wider family around for lunch.

Wednesday 1 August 2018

Must. Stay. Awake.

Spent 30min watching a tutorial on calculating root mean square values in excel, then applying it to some data. Followed that with another tutorial on calculating EC50 vales from sigmoidal curves, at which point I almost fell asleep.

We know how to have a high old time here. 😋