Sunday, 15 October 2017

Your Location Is Currently In Use

Periodically a little icon appears in the system tray in the bottom right corner of the screen on my desktop Windows-running PC. It's a little circle with a blue square in the middle, and when you hover your mouse pointer over it a little bit pop up appears, saying "Your location is currently in use".

I don't mind my location being used (at least for the software that I've allowed to use my location) but I'm always faintly surprised when it appears - this is on my desktop PC, which has been in the same location for about five years, assuming you don't get into the technicalities of it now being two floors lower than it used to.

Now, let's talk ankles.

Mine, and of course the nasty bruise I wanted to show off has faded. Feel free to give me sympathy anyway.

I have a weird ankle.

Periodically, it just gives way, it somehow bends sideways and before you know it I'm heading for the ground at speed. I believe (although memory could be fooling me) that it particularly worsened as a result of one evening I was playing football, and I decided to try hopping over the ball whilst tapping it with my foot to control it, and instead stood on the ball and fell over. Anyway, it does now and again just fail to ankle.

And it seems to have a mind of its own, and do it when it's particularly embarrassing or inconvenient. From memory I can particularly recall it failing:

  • In the supermarket while bagging groceries
  • While running down an alley dragging a sofa
  • On my neighbours footpath on the way to pick a parcel up

The most recent event I was walking through the grounds of my sons school after picking him up, so as you can imagine there was a good dozen or so other parents with children who were there to watch me plant my face into the ground., so I couldn't even let loose my favoured series of swear words and instead had to go "Whoops! Oh dear, silly daddy should have been looking where he was going!"

Funnily enough, it seems to hurt less overall if I just take the fall rather than try to stop myself falling, perhaps the time is better spent preparing for the fall rather than trying to rectify the ankle position or something.

While I'm blogging, I should point out for any cross stitchers my wife currently has not one, not two, but three competitions on the go - do check out her latest flosstube video for details!

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Bookshops, Books, and their Awesomeness


Today apparently it's Bookshop Day (so Twitter tells me, anyway), which gives me a perfect opportunity to blog about one of my favourite things - books!

I've always loved reading. Being a geek, as a kid I would not only read the huge pile of Peanuts cartoon books my parents had in the house, but then went on to count how many times various characters appeared in the books and then create graphs based on the data (spoiler - Snoopy wins. By far.)

Robin Hood's Bay, which is one of my families' favourite places to visit (do check out the video from the holiday I and my dad had there), used to have a brilliant bookshop called the Chapel bookshop - large, with various rooms, nooks and crannies, you could easily spend hours there hunting through dusty piles of books that quite possibly hadn't been read by anyone for years. The downside of Amazon (and I am a big user of Amazon, it is great for getting stuff you need) is that it tells you what is most popular, the bestsellers, and the things that you typically like, but doesn't necessarily show you things that you wouldn't normally consider.

Several times I've seriously considered buying a Kindle, because logically it makes perfect sense. Rather than having, as we do currently, a couple of walls in the house full of books, I can store them all on one easy to carry e-reader that I can take and use anywhere. But there's just something about the physical presence of a book, the weight of it in your hand, flipping pages, sticking a bookmark (or in my case a scrap of paper) in to track your position. Plus the cost difference between an e-book and a paper book isn't big enough for me to justify buying a Kindle.

And, of course, there's so many books that you can't get on a Kindle. For example, I happen to own a hardback copy of "Hello Sailor" by former Python Eric Idle, a quite rude and slightly bizarre story which doesn't make a great deal of sense but is funny nevertheless. From the 1970s, there's almost no chance of that appearing as an e-book any time soon.

Take a look at a sample of my books:

Hello Sailor is at the end on the right. Told you I had it.

There's a lot of science fiction and what you might consider to be typically geeky books there, but I've found, particularly as I work on writing my own books, the value and enjoyment of reading different genres. A good example of this is Adele Archer's International Relations trilogy, the first of which to be quite honest I only bought because I'm a big fan of Adele's blog.  I found myself engrossed in the story, and was surprised at how my emotions were affected by the story - getting angry at one of the lead characters part way through at their actions!

Right now I'm reading "Laura's Handmade Life", a novel which I probably wouldn't have ever considered reading before experiencing Adele's work, and all I can say is, to me, it makes sense to try new things, whether it be some crazy and exciting new hobby, or simply reading a book that you wouldn't normally try.


So, it's Bookshop Day. This seems like a good reason for you to pop out and support your local book store.  Off you go then :)

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Spain


As a rule I dislike blogging about anything too serious. If I don't have a sufficient grasp of the information about a topic I would generally endeavour to avoid giving my opinion.

But...

I'll be totally honest, the first I became aware of the referendum in the Catalonian part of Spain was today, when it started trending on Twitter.

If you're not aware, the referendum, called for by the regional Catalonian parliament, is for independence of the region, and allegedly if the vote is successful then within a matter of days the region will declare itself to be independent of Spain.

Big. Disruptive. A massive concern to the Spanish government, I'm sure. The referendum has been arranged and pushed on with even without the agreement of the national government, there are questions over its accuracy, and it has even been classed as illegal.

So whatever result comes out of it, there's grounds for arguing that the referendum is not valid.

But...

The Spanish governments response to this referendum has been to use police forces to disrupt the referendum, seizing voting materials, and arresting key people charged with organising the referendum.

And today, they have used those forces to directly disrupt the vote, using force. Hundreds of citizens have been injured by the police. There has even been the bizarre sight of regional firefighters being attacked by the police for trying to prevent them from entering polling locations.

Regardless of whether the referendum was legal or not, we are talking about a country using its police forces to injure people attempting to vote - not people dealing drugs, not murdering people, not abducting children, not even committing fraud. A country having its people beaten for administering a vote.

Imagine if that happened in your own country. Would that be acceptable?

I recognise that in other countries there has been similar events to this, and even worse disgraces. But that should not mean that what is happening in Spain is acceptable.

The initial reactions from some of those bodies that could put pressure on Spain has not been encouraging.  I have taken the opportunity to write to my representatives in the UK parliament, and to sign a number of online petitions.

Wherever you are in the world, I do think that it is valuable to protest these actions. It is not acceptable in the modern world for a government to act in this way.

Do contact your democratic representative, and below are a couple of petitions that you may wish to sign:

Worldwide petition - "For freedom and the rule of law in Catalonia" on change.org (it is in French but it's one of the most signed petitions so I've linked to it) - https://www.change.org/p/la-catalogne-doit-voter

UK only petition - "To condemn the repression of democracy and freedom of speech in Catalonia" - https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/200914

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Nowt to Blog About...


I don't remember taking this photo...

It's been ages since I blogged. Far too long. But, I don't have anything to blog about. Or so I think, anyway. Let's try just writing whatever comes in to my head...

So things have been alright lately, busy but good. My dad and I went to Robin Hoods Bay last weekend - Robin Hoods Bay is a lovely little fishing village in North Yorkshire that we try to visit every year (last year we managed a short break, thanks in no small part to the Robin Hoods Bay Roadtrip campaign!). I'm not sure what it is about the place, but it just makes you feel relaxed and at ease with the world.

Outside the Laurel my dad enjoys a highly visible pint.

TV-wise I'm enjoying The Great British Bake Off (I have to say, Noel Fielding is far better than I anticipated), and AAAAAAAAAAAAAASDJKHASDFHAFHFHFHFHAIOAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My wife just dealt with a spot on my leg.

Where was I? Oh yes, I also enjoyed the return of Strictly Come Dancing - I'm a big Susan Calman fan so it's great to see her dance.

And now I'm enjoying an alcohol free beer - it's my last wheat beer, which I do really like the taste of, so it's being enjoyed!

Cheers!

Hopefully I'll have something earth shattering and profound to blog about in a day or two, but for now these rambles are all I have. See you again soon :)

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Suspicions (warning - contains swearing...)

Today's blog is focussed upon the bathroom.

First, I discovered when fumbling for the wrong bottle that the Harpic bleach has been located immediately next to the mouthwash - which I generally use at the start and end of each day, and, it is important to note, when I'm not wearing my glasses.

I'm sure it's a coincidence how this happened about a week after I received my pension forecast, which included details of how much money my wife would receive if I died in service...

Secondly, I do like to offer something educational now and again.  I would like to offer forth the following new word, complete with definition:

Fuckin'Towel /ˈfʌkɪŋtaʊəl/
NOUN

1     A thick, soft and absorbent textile used for drying oneself which is not in the vicinity of the shower. The potential user only becomes aware of this when already in the shower.

Examples of usage: "I've got soap in my eyes! Where's the Fuckin'Towel?", or "I forgot to check before I got in the bloody shower... there's no Fuckin'Towel!"

It's almost as though these posts are inspired by real life

(As an aside, why do we still say "I've got soap in my eyes" - does anyone still use soap in a shower/bath context? Shower gel is by far the most prominent body cleanser in our house, soap has been restricted to hands only)

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Big Bus Day


So today I didn't have anything in particular planned (which is generally the way I like life!), and I did a bit of a Google to see what was on in Hull today. Turned out to be "Big Bus Day" at Hull's Streetlife Museum of Transport so we went and checked it out.

It was pretty awesome as there was loads of extra buses to look at and go inside, there was the EYMS Brass Band playing inside the museum who are really good, and there was even some free bus trips which was very cool. My son loves going on buses and trains so he loved it!

Hull

More Hull

Inside a goods wagon inside the museum

We were a little cheeky, going on the bus rides twice (once before the museum and once after) but the second time it was getting quiet anyway so I didn't feel too guilty.  We also found a new museum that we haven't been to before so will be checking that out too another day.

Me trying to have a nap on my sons lap. Didn't go to plan.

I must include in this post for any Kindle reading aficionados that "International Relations" by Adele Archer is free for download this weekend - it's well worth a read, I've over time bought the trilogy of books (you don't need to buy the whole trilogy to enjoy the first book though) and they're all really good.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Broken Dream

Happy Saturday!

I'm really sad to say that my dream is broken.

I think my son dropped it.

The dream light isn't the only thing that's broken, I also discovered that the iPad charger cable was broken this morning. Now, I actually prepared for this several months ago, by buying three reinforced iPad cables from the internet that would be handy replacements when for previous ones died (they break fairly regularly in our house).

Of course, now that I need them, I haven't got a clue where the three cables are.  So I had to go out and buy a new one.  As an aside, a bit of a tip for most of the shops near me - it might be worth opening your shop on Saturdays, that's when a lot of people aren't at work and come buying stuff! It's a pain, I know, I don't want to work on the weekend either, but if you're trying to get people to come to your local shop rather than go to the supermarket, you need to be open when they want you.

On the plus side, my son and I went to the circus this afternoon!  Neither of us have been to a circus before, and I have to say that it was great fun, I think both of us liked the acrobats most, but it was all good, I'd definitely go back.


Hopefully I'll get some writing done this weekend, most of my spare time I'm channelling into a novel I'm writing at the minute. I hope you're having a good weekend, and do drop a message in the comments as to what you're up to!

PS - Happy Beard Day! Unfortunately I had a shave the other day, so here's one I made earlier...

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

On The Road...


So, I was driving the other day, and passed a lorry, which I noted with interest advertised the company (who owned the lorry I presume) as being the worlds' leader in wet wipe technology. I must say that I'm fascinated to think what their daily routine would be.  I can only imagine hundreds upon hundreds of people in white coats dipping tissues in buckets with varying amounts of water in, rubbing the tissue on a carefully and precisely created stain, reviewing the success, or otherwise, of removing the stain, and noting the results on a clipboard - which I further assume would be either "too wet", "too dry", or, and this is the one that they're trying to attain, "just right".


On the same road, I saw a caravan model that was called "Pursuit".  I desperately want one of these, and I would use it to create a television series about a police officer that would disrupt his weekend holidays by listening in to police radio frequencies and taking part in car chases. Naturally the series would be called "In Pursuit".

I do enjoy a drive.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

AstroNest - Nest of the Best!

AstroNest: The Beginning is a mobile space strategy/combat game by AN Games, a company of games developers in Korea.

In a nutshell, you run your own task force of combat space ships, built and supported by a number of colonised planets, in an effort to win the war between the Federation of Terra and the Alliance of Neos. I won't talk about the lore in the game, suffice to say there is some, but mainly it's all about getting the best ships to fight other ships.

Here's the main screen where all the stuff happens

The game has a good mixture of management and combat, neither being too complicated whilst being detailed enough to make you give some thought as to how you want your fleets of ships to form.

Do you want fleets purely composed of small but fast moving destroyers that can take the battle to the enemy? Or perhaps larger ships loaded with missiles that can sit at the back and pound away?  Or do you prefer a mixture?

Tactics such as fleet formations also come into play, allowing you to arrange your ships to get certain bonuses.

Also key are heroes.
I'm convinced that the two guys are related. Or are maybe identical twins and one of them has been time travelling.

Heroes are put in charge of your planets, and of your fleets. You have to get the best heroes for their speciality - there's no point putting a combat expert in charge of managing the gold resource on your home planet, just as an economist doesn't want to be giving orders on the flagship of a cruiser fleet.  Heroes gain experience over time, and also be improved by training or by what are called "Trons", accessories that give them further improvements.


Your planets have various facilities that support your fleets, such as providing gold and mineral that pretty much pays for everything else, energy to allow your fleets to grow in number, and research to improve your ships and heroes.

There's more complexity to the game, but that can be picked up if you go into detail.

Of course the thing I've not talked about yet is the combat.

Here we go! For black & white viewers, my ships are on the left.

For all you muck about setting up your fleets, when you hit that button to fight, it's all taken out of your hands and you have to helplessly watch as your ships either destroy the enemy or get blown apart. Happily however losing your entire task force doesn't actually make any difference, all those ships magically appear again afterwards, ready for another go.

Uh oh... missiles incoming...

Time for revenge!

And that's how it is done!

As with any free-to-play game there are built in restrictions to slow down your play (which can be overridden with the application of cold, hard cash) but to be honest I haven't found any problems with playing it for free so far - although it should be noted that I'm only level 20 out of 100, so my feelings may change. Nevertheless, it's a pleasure to play a free game which doesn't have adverts crawling all over it, and which navigates that difficult path for mobile games of being playable on a small screen yet complex enough to remain entertaining.

I also liked the tutorial built into the game - unlike most tutorials whilst it gives you clear pointers as to what to press and what to do, you're not actually bound into doing exactly what it says. Once or twice I actually found better options than what the tutorial was suggesting for me, and it was flexible enough to let me carry out those better options instead of making me stick with whatever it wanted.

AstroNest: The Beginning is available on both Apple and Android devices, if you do give it a try feel free to send me a friend request (I'm on server Sirius, name Thog (#352945) and I'm on the side of the Alliance of Neos)


TOTS 100 - UK Parent Blogs
familyholidays.co.uk
Paperblog BlogCatalog