Thursday, 29 May 2014

I can fix... my Chromebook

Wednesday 28th May 2014. 23:49

Today, I received delivery of the replacement screen for my chromebook that I ordered of ebay. That's rather swift delivery, bearing in mind I only ordered it Monday (I think).

So, £29.03, free postage and a 'how to' film on youtube and I now have a fully functional Chromebook again.

I did try installing Ubuntu onto it, so that I could get Celtx to work with it, and be able to use it when I don't have an internet connection (Celtx provide an in browser service call Celtx Edge, but of course this doesn't work when you don't have an internet connection).

I managed to install Ubuntu fine enough, it was just that I couldn't seem to get Celtx to install and load. I gave up in the end.

It may be that the Celtx isn't compatible with the version of Celtx I downloaded and installed (after following another 'how to' video on youtube), or it may be that there's something else I was doing wrong. Either way, I abandoned that idea. It's not like I'm away from an internet connection that often.

Celtx, the awesome script and novel writing tool.
I'm just creating other procrastinations, reasons to not write.

During my messing around, I did discover that the Novel writing part of Celtx now works on Celtx Edge. I don't think it did before.

Anyway. Helen came up last night. She was originally due to come up during the day, and we were going to meet in Cosham and have some food at a pub. Helen works from home as a travel agent, and this means that sometimes she can get delayed dealing with a client's booking.

Not like I'm in a position to criticise anyone else for working odd hours, or staying later than they have to.
UKIP at the local council and European elections, and how the other parties are fairing. What we both like, dislike and are frightened by in the recent turn of events.

When we weren't saying how worried we are by the fact that a lot of people seem to have voted for a party that they know nothing about, or have any understanding of their policies, and how this has historical links that do not bode well for society.

This got us making a jokey comparison about the whole in Europe / out of Europe debate, and how there is a stark irony about the Scottish Independence vote (due September this year), - wanting to leave one union in order to agree to rejoin another. In our normal way, we couldn't stay too serious too long.

We started to explore the idea of what would happen if Portsmouth decided to have a referendum on independence, on leaving the United Kingdom.

We ended up thrashing out some plot points, and a whole manifesto of policies of the party that would supposedly push for this.

The scarily funny thing seemed to be how plausible despite being completely ridiculous the whole concept and the policies were. Perhaps there'll be more on that later.

I'm sure I'll also want to put my two pence worth in about the rise of UKIP. Suffice to say so far, that I decided that I would do something about representing the kind of Britain I believe in by joining a political party. This is the first time I've ever done this, but do feel that I am naturally drawn to the common sense sort of policies of the Liberal Democrats. As is typical of me, I want the best of both worlds, left and right, because I do feel that we can't have a fair society if we do not have a strong economy, but that there is no point having a strong economy if our society isn't fair.

I do believe in people's strong responsibilities for the wider community and themselves, and society as a whole, and how they are the best at deciding and designing their life and their destiny. Personal freedom, and responsibility, duty go hand in hand. I also feel that unless we design our society to include and engage people, they won't be involved in politics.

Help those that need help, make decisions based on fact rather than with idealogical motivation. A society of tolerance, and freedoms - where there are more roads to travel than walls to keep people in - that's what I want.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Monday May 26th. 23:43.

Ever since I did my back  in, way back in March, I've slept in Chloe's room, knowing the bed is higher and has a softer mattress.

Because I'm off work most of this week, I have decided to try and move back into my own bedroom.

I want to move things around in my room, but I'll do that tomorrow. Gone are the days where I get the sudden impulse at half past eleven at night to redesign the layout in my room.

Moving on.

There's two different things that are building to climactic release, in public media. With seductive teasing taking part, there is much speculation going on.

Not making sense ?

Well, okay. The two highly anticipated events that I refer to are, the release of Apple's next generation iPhone (supposedly the iPhone 6) and the arrival of the new season of Dr Who.

Now there's two differing, or perhaps converging timescales in evidence here. The BBC released a teaser for the new season of Dr Who (Season 8) this week, in which they reveal that the series, complete with new Doctor, Peter Capaldi, will return in August.

The trailer is really the height of disappointment I think. It's fifteen seconds long, and a lot of that is the introduction and fade out sequence. There are no words. Just and image of the Doctor standing, silhouetted against and image of the Tardis' control room. To be honest, it's more of a teaser, of a proper teaser we're bound to see later on. It could quite easily have been knocked together from existing footage by a skilled and talented fan.

I can't help feeling that this is just the opening salvo in a campaign  increasingly wetting the appetite. It's only just begun.

Another campaign of appetite wetting, is the recent upsurge in TV advertising for Apple's current generation of iPhone (the 5c or 5s). They normally hit us with loads of advertising about how great their existing products are, encouraging those few people that haven't already, to go out and buy this technological marvel. This marvel that's so good, you just want it, need it. Crave it.

This encouragement, and reminding how amazing the current product is, normally precedes the release of a new product. New shiny amazing, magical technological marvel.

There are all sorts of rumours as to when it will be that Apple make the 'Iphone 6' announcement. It appears from the many websites on the subject, that the big day could be sometime between June 2nd and September.

There are lots of ideas, and even mocked up photos of what differing people THINK this new little wonder will incorporate. As ever, the nerds and the technowhores are getting rather wet over the idea. Me, I'm thinking that if the iPhone 6 comes out, then the iPhone 5s will get cheaper.

Right now, they're all just guessing. Will it have a curved screen ? Will it have a larger screen, or possibly come in two sizes ? Will it wash your dishes, tie your shoelaces and pick a girl or boyfriend for you ?

Here's a selection of some of the mockup pictures that have been uploaded.  The curved screen is an interesting suggestion,  a design style adopted by two other manufacturers of late. Personally I really like the rather retro looking iMac G3 look.

I have tempted by the adverts being shown lately, and have even popped into a Three store to have a try on one.

If I was going to weak enough, I would have to upgrade early. This would cost me £400 to buy out of my contract early. The alternatives to this are that I either buy a second hand phone on ebay, or that I just take out a new contract, and allow my existing one to run out.

My beloved teenage daughter has her fifteenth birthday in a couple of months. Fifteen !!! Eeeeek !! This means that her phone is due to upgrade soon. In fact this is due at the end of this month. She seems to think that I should get her an iPhone.

Yeah, right, like that's going to happen. Bearing in mind what happened to her last phone, as she's currently using my old phone (HTC Wildfire S). This was after I had already repaired the screen on her phone once, she broke it again. Teenagers eh ?

Monday, 19 May 2014

Funday Sunday

Sunday May 18th 22:00.

After a lazy, sit at computer, slouch half watching television kind of Saturday, today I've had a much more enjoyable day.

Despite the lingering fear and resentment about having to go to work tomorrow. It's been a great day.

I went to Steve's to do some filming for 'The Adventures of Stephen Brown'. It's the first time in about a month or two that I've been in any filming. Although I always nearly talk myself out of going, or get wound up about leaving the flat, I feel that it's worth while. I get to act again, and to spend some time with people.

After the filming was done, I played my quarter final match in the Beacon Pool tournament. This is the first time I have every gotten this far in the competition. I enter for fun every year, not expecting to do very well at all. Mostly I am not surprised or disappointed. I didn't win, however I had fun.

As it was a glorious day, and we'd spent five hours in a very, very, very hot studio, we played the pool match in the open air, in the sunshine. It was rather lovely.

It being early enough that I didn't have to rush off home, Steve and I then went to the Village Inn to grab a drink or two and to get some food.

And some food we did get. Having been salivating for the last hour about a beef  burger, we both decided to make the best of a roast dinner that someone else has to cook, and we don't have to clear up after. It was gorgeous. Mixed roast, beef and half a chicken. Very nice in deed.

We also did some planning for the final episode of 'The Adventures of Stephen Brown'. Spoilers kids. Spoilers.

A good Sunday indeed. Just to balance all the niceness, the cats left me two piles of sick to return to.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Time flies, and in a couple of hours, so will I

Gorgeous roast beef baguette with fried onions and gravy
I had thought that the early pickup of my return transfer was going to give me far too much time at the airport.

Too much time has turned into enough time to enjoy the most delicious roast beef baguette I have ever tasted. Melt in the mouth gorgeousness cut from the joint in front of me by a very capable and very hard working guy behind the counter. I was tempted to go for the Jersey beef burger and chips, but when I saw how big the burgers were and how many chips the guy was serving I thought there's no way I can down that along with the preflight jitters. 

As it is the weather doesn't look so rosey right now, and a couple of flights into the island have been delayed by the weather. 

How is it that the facilities in Jersey's airport departure terminal are better by far than the ones in Southampton (which I flew out from) ? 

It's worth coming here just to turn round and go back out to get at the lovely food available here. 

Making use of the free wifi while I wait. 

As with the other holiday posts, I will attach pictures when I get back home. (done 18:09 09/05/14)

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Last night in Jersey

Tomorrow is my last day in Jersey. I'm flying back to the UK tomorrow evening. Today was a very energetic day. 

One of the first things I'm going to do when I get back to my flat, after I put the kettle on, is to weigh myself. If I haven't lost weight this week I will not just be surprised I'll be fucking furious. Be warned. 

Today I decided to make the most of my last full day on the island and go on one of my 'I'm not lost, I'm exploring' ventures. This basically means heading off in one direction, either by foot or on by bike and seeing where the road takes me.  

Now in the uk, where I have access to free maps courtesy of GPS (as long as I have phone signal), it's not really possible to get truly lost. Here, well it is. It's not a dire panic because the locals speak English, but none the less there was a point this afternoon where I did stop a couple of times and get out the fee tourist map, to check reference points or clues. It doesn't have road names except for major roads, but my map reading skills are helpful. 

If I actually look at the map at the beginning it may have helped. When I started I negotiated the impossibly complicated one way systems of St Helier into the countryside.  You know, that's the place with all the green stuff, and animals. Without direction, by mid to late morning I was starting to think, 'ok, is there anything to see while I'm out this way'. Figuring that if I get back to the hotel and realise I was mere yards from some fanatstic attraction or sight that I would kick myself rather harshly. I kept seeing these signs for a wildlife park. That's nice. I thought. That sounds like it's worth a look. 

Every road I went down I was thinking there'd be some sign as to how far away this park was. But no. None of the signs gave any indication of how far away it was. At one point I rode about half a mile down one road, which I thought the sign had directed me down, only to give up and turn back when I realised I wasn't getting anywhere near close to this elusive bloody park. Did the thing even exist ? 

Eventually I did find it. I must have done a circuit right round the damn place. I'm sure if I look up on google earth I will discover that the park was 'just round the next corner' on that road I'd turned found on. 

I'd taken not one, not two, but three bottles of drink. I needed them. 

Anyway despite my moaning about getting there the park was more of a zoo, and well worth the trek, or maybe even getting a bus. After having cycled miles upon miles, I walked round filling up the memory card on my camera with lots of pictures. 

Zoos are funny places, it's always interesting to see different animals, but when you see the bored sorrowful faces of the Gorillas I feel ashamed and wrong, and wonder what's going through their minds, watching all these humans gawping, taking pictures. 

The human children playing in the play park didn't seem to be began in any differently to the other primates. 

I stopped for some lovely lunch at the wildlife park. Some beef pad Thai. When I'd spent a good couple of hours there, I decided it was time to head back in the direction of St Helier. Thankfully, leaving the park there were a couple of signs for cycle paths. A quick check, and double check of my map to figure out which one to take, and I was off in the right direction. 

As I cycled through ever remoter countryside I began to doubt this decision, and look for reassurance I was indeed on the right track. I'm male enough to not ask someone else for help, although there were moments that it got quite close, it's just that for most of the time I didn't see another soul. This got me to thinking, how much time before the sun goes down ? If anything happens to me, will anyone ever find me ? Panic wasn't setting in, but I was starting to wonder if I'd gone the right way. 

As it happened I passed the edge of a reservoir, checked my map, and found that not only was I in the right track, but that I was much closer to civilisation than I thought. The way back a much more direct route. 

The thought occurs to me that things only got stressful when I was trying to get somewhere, or started to sorry about the time being taken. Before all that I was rather content. Before I was trying to find the wildlife park I was exploring. Once I started trying to find it, I went from being exploring to lost. 

After a couple hours rest in the hotel (and returning the bike) I headed out again, on foot. Heading East. I'd headed West to St Aubin and Corbiere a couple of days before, so figured East was the way to go. Again there's something liberating about walking somewhere without an agenda, a place to be, by a certain time. 

Although I have to check out by ten tomorrow, the flight isn't until the evening, so I'll be able to leave my bag here until I'm picked up and taken to the airport. I think I may just get a bus somewhere tomorrow, see some other parts of the island. Maybe. See how it goes. 

It's a bitter sweet thing, leaving. I don't want to go back to 'real life', but I do miss home. I will be sad to leave Jersey though. Coming away has shown me who's easy it is to do, so there's nothing stopping me from going somewhere else. 

I guess I should down my drink and head off to start my packing. 

Sunday, 4 May 2014

I'm leaving .... on a jet plane.....

May 4th 2014. 00:21

I write this from my hotel room in Jersey. I'm up at this ungodly hour, because my sleep pattern is all out of whack.

I got up five A.M. today, to make sure that I had everything ready before I had to leave to get the train to the airport.

As it was, I'd rather allowed myself too much time. But better to be there and waiting, than arrive with too little time and be rushing around. As it was, at the time I arrived there was hardly anyone else there, and the bemused staff were very helpful although the ones in security check in don't seem to find it necessary to bring their smiles with them, or to explain things to sad, disoriented people who haven't flown for about twenty years.

Risking only a danish pastry as breakfast in the cafe, I awaited the plane, which arrived well enough, but we were delayed boarding, and left Southampton ten minutes late.

I was glad that I hadn't plumped for a full English breakfast, as the plane, a double propeller thing did kind of lurch about a bit, and the turns around take off and landing are a bit hair raising.

There was barely time to get comfortable, let a lone travel from one end of the plane to the other with the duty free trolley before it was time to get ready to land again.

Airports are funny places, everyone is really uber focused on making sure they don't miss their flight or paying attention to this announcement or that. Airports are just like train stations, where the method of transport evolved wings instead of wheels. (I know they didn't evolve. I know planes have wheels).

Dropped off at the hotel in a rather fancy looking car that was waiting for me at the airport. The hotel offered to look after my rucksack until the room was ready for checkin. This was a great thing, as I wasn't fancying lumbering around the streets of Jersey with a (just under) ten kilo bag on my back.

And wander I did. I think, over the space of about three hours I probably walked about three or four miles. Took in some sights, found a lovely beach or two, took lots of photos of some nice buildings (trying to be all artsy), stumbled across a boat show, which had a young teenage boy singing on his own on stage, just him and his guitar. He was rather good actually. Took in the opportunity to grab some food, and had a look round a Royal Navy ship that was docked for the occasion.

I came back to the hotel, checked in, and flaked in my room for a bit, watching a film about the early life of Winston Churchill. It was rather fascinating. I had a brief nap at some point, and this, along with the similar one I grabbed after coming back from a similar walk in the afternoon is why I'm not exactly ready to drop to sleep just yet.

It's been a great first day. Even with me being rather scared on the plane. I don't think I did too bad, considering I normally won't go on the kiddie rides they put outside the shops at Christmas for fear of being sick. Dodgems are normally about my limit. I think I can only tolerate them because I'm the one in control of the vehicle. With the plane, I most definitely wasn't. It was disconcerting to see and feel it moving about so much at times.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Fountain of delay.

May 1st 2014 12:10 Thursday.

I have a thing for fountain pens. I like to write with them, really can't stand writing with a ballpoint pen. This isn't any form of snobbery, I just prefer the feeling of writing this way. It usually draws comment from others, 'oh my god ! I haven't seen one of them since I was at school !' being the standard response.

There's the other thing that as the nib wears to write in the shape used by whomever uses the pen, I really do have to keep guard to prevent other people using any of my fountain pens - I have had to replace pens before where the nib has been ruined by someone else using it, and for me that's annoying. My pen is a very personal thing. There aren't that many times in the twenty-first century where we write things down on paper anymore. When I do, I love the tactile feel, the response, the feedback, the connection that a fountain pen provides to the written word, and to the paper itself. My writing also looks (to me) much better with a fountain pen than with a biro or other ballpoint.

It does make my written words stand out, and be different from other scribbles. It honestly isn't vanity. I just like it.

With all this in mind, I was looking at buying a new fountain pen at the beginning of April, I had looked at Ryman (from whom I had purchased pens before, and I had brought my desk), but had googled the pen I was considering buying from them, and discovered that I could save about 50% by purchasing the very same pen from another company online. That company was Nigel O'Hara.

A couple of days after placing my order, I received an email stating that they were awaiting a delivery from supplier, and that they would update me as soon as this progressed, and the item was passed to Royal Mail for delivery.

I have since had another email to let me know that they still don't have my pen, and will contact me later to advise when on its way.

Now, the first email I can accept, or understand. Sometimes, no matter how good you are at keeping inventory as a retailer, you can run out of stock. No one has a crystal ball. I can appreciate this.

However any company of any good should know when they are expecting the replacement order, or would have some fundamental reason why there is such a delay without timescale. IE. The factory was destroyed by fire / flooded etc.
Confirmation of Order April 1st. 

update April 6th
update April 12th

Response to complaint, May 1st. 

I have sent them a request for update, via their online support system from their website. I asked that if they cannot deliver the item within seven days, that I want them to cancel the order and refund any monies paid.

They promptly replied, saying that they were sorry for the delay and were working hard to minimise delays as the pen had been ordered in especially for me.

It's a standard fountain pen ! I haven't asked them to personalise it in any way. It's not made of gold, or crafted from the spittle of cuban maidens. It's a bloody fountain pen.
wonderful, but not my experience.

Some internet searching seems to show that customer frustration with excessive lead times for orders is not a new thing for this company. Despite their protestations on their site of their favoured seller status with various online retailers... I think the customer responses have it.

I am glad that my purchase was less than £20, had I actually spend hundreds of pounds on a watch or item of jewellery, for a special occasion I would be a lot more upset about this than I am now.