Archive for April, 2006

A room with a wet view

Im back in Leeds. Weather is terrible. The journey up wasn’t too bad until we got about 15 miles outside Leeds, then it started raining – hard. It hasn’t stopped since. It would therefore appear that summer, while trying to arrive in Hertfordshire (and failing somewhat) it hasn’t even tried in Leeds. Ah well, there is time enough I suppose.

As for being back, its strange. I know other people will be around somewhere, but my flat is empty, and no one is around. I also see very few cars in the car parks and little noise. On the plus side this means I will have to stretch my legs and walk to town or campus to find civilisation (its healthy), and will also be able to get plenty of work done in my room without being disturbed.

Oh, and now I’m back on my Linux box, I can confirm that life without Linux isn’t worth living 🙂

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Back to Leeds

Yes, it has already come to that time when I leave the vale of Hertfordshire (I resisited the temptation to use the cliched “sunny vale” there – nothing could be further from the truth right now!) to go back to Leeds where my course, much work, revision and of course more pressing code awaits me.

Its been a really nice stay down south, but I’m looking forward to getting back. Despite the work, all the people I know in Leeds are great, and I don’t think I can stand too many more key-strokes on a windows machine…. That and there’s some great soul just around the corner when Marlena Shaw plays at the Wardrobe. Damn I’m lucky living so close to that club 🙂

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Happy Easter

Just a quick posting to wish everyone a happy Easter, and if you have given up anything for lent, I hope you enjoy now not having to give said thing up and of course well done because you have more staying power than I do. Someone suggested to me all those weeks ago that I give up blogging and my forums. It was only when I stopped laughing 5 minutes later that I realised they had been serious and I had probably offended them in somewhat of a minor way at the very least, after all they were probably right on the count that I do, by my own admission, spend far too much time on the net. Needless to say, I didn’t give anything up – even something more minor like chocolate, or heaven forbid, tea.

I haven’t got any chocolate so far today though, and its nearly midday, so I guess he who makes no sacrifice gets their just reward. Have a good day y’all 🙂

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Lack of cinema

I realised the other day that despite my love of going to the pictures, I haven’t been into a cinema since November last year. This is despite the fact that there have been loads of films that have come out subsiquetly that I would really have liked to go and see.

It sounds like a sad case, but its because I have no one to go with. Now before you all e-mail me with messages of comfort or abandon me for being a loner, hear me out. Its not for lack of friends or people to go out with in general. I can always find people to go drinking with and even going to jazz concerts etc. with, but it would seem that the cinema is either somewhere you take your girlfriend too or go with a big crowd of people before hitting the bars on a Friday night without much thought to the movie you are watching or even keeping the noise down for others in the theatre. Not being in either of those two categories, I seem to have been missing out on a lot of good film, which is a shame.

I have decided that the time has come to start going on my own rather than missing out if I can’t get anyone to come along. I can’t stand missing out on good movies any longer just for the sake of having someone to go with, after all, whats to stop me joining friends in the pub after who don’t want to go to the movies?

This is a “I want your opinions” posting. Do you go to the cinema on your own? If you don’t, would you consider it? If you do, do you like doing it or prefer not to? Post your opinions and views in the comments section 🙂

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RouterTech goes live

Today was a momentous day in the world of online networking help and support. A project I have been working on with online friends for the last couple of months has gone online to the public for the first time.

Its called RouterTech, and is a “technical support site for all things networking”. Head on over there to see what its all about. The gist of it and some screen shots are below though.

  • Technical guides for routers and other home/business networking hardware
  • FAQs for all things to do with networking, from VOIP to Switches, from Routers to Firewalls.
  • Fully fledged forum frequented by networking experts willing to help you out for free.
  • New firmware, developed by a dedicated team of programmers, to make your existing hardware work better and enable better features
  • A great community where you can meet and chat to people from all walks of life about anything technical or non-technical in the free chat forums
  • Regular announcements and polls about whats happening in the networking world to keep you up to date.
  • The option for equipment manufacturers to send the team their hardware so RouterTech can expand it’s wealth of knowledge and hence the support it can provide
  • Software to help you trouble-shoot your network
  • A whole load more.

Now for some screen-shots for those who like the eye-candy…

RouterTech Forums RouterTech Homepage RouterTech Article RouterTech Merchandise

This has been a really fun project to be a part of, and I hope it will grow to become a busy, useful and fun online technical community. Please take the time to link to us, visit us, and tell your friends. If you know someone with a networking issue let them know where they can get help, and if you know a lot about networking, why not come on over and help out people who are stuck. Both experienced techies and complete newcomers are very welcome 🙂

Click here to visit RouterTech!

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Calling online friends

I got a call on skype the other night from someone I have been on the same forum as for 3 or so years now. Its almost strange to put a voice to an online alias, but it is something that is quite refreshing; after all it doesn’t happen all that often. I have always operated the policy of keeping my contact details on my website for all who want to use them, and have the same “life” online as off, but not everyone is like that, and you usually end up building very different kinds of relationships with people online to how you would with the same people face to face.

Sadly this can mean that the first time you speak to or meet up with someone you have known for some time online signals the beginning of the end in terms of your friendship.

I know a large number of people through the internet line, and for anyone of those people reading this, you are all great people and you’ve always been there when I’ve needed you and I value your online company a lot. I have been very lucky with respect to taking online friendships further though; lately I have seen pictures of and spoken to people I know online more and more. One of the most notable additions to my “speak to online” list has been the team I am a part of on RouterTech. Chatting on MSN with these guys has been great, and I hope it will continue – it has really added something to the feeling of community on the forums. Not only that but I haven’t had any of the negative experiences that I know can happen from trying to get to know people more that you only know at present through text on a screen.

Although I didn’t intend this post to be a shout out to online friends, I would like to thank all the folks I know online for being really great friends and I hope to continue talking to / working with you all for some time to come 🙂

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Incognito at Jazz Cafe

Incognito LiveOn Tuesday 12th April I went to the Jazz Cafe in London to see Incognito, the Jazz Funk band known by many, play live. I went along with a good friend of mine who often goes to gigs with me, James Goodhead, and a friend from St. Albans and his girlfriend.

For those who haven’t been to the Jazz Cafe before it is worth me giving a brief overview of the atmosphere created there, especially when its packed out with a good act playing. You can also check their website out on the link in the sidebar. There are two bars, one goes almost all the way accross the venue, and separates a comfortable seating area from the stage and dancefloor, on the other side of which there is another small bar for when things get packed and you cannot get to the main one easily. The main bar has no separating wall however, so you have a great view of the stage from the seating area. Above the dance floor and stage there is a restaurant enabling diners to take in the atmosphere as well as a meal. This is one of my favorite venues, and I heartily recommend it to anyone who fancies some jazz while in London.

To the gig in question then, well what a night it was. We arrived early at around 7 as soon as the doors opened to make sure we got some seats and got a few drinks in before 9 when the music kicked off. There was no warm-up group, Incognito came straight onto the stage, and they needed no introduction – their first number was one of those smooth but funky tunes, which soon has your foot tapping to the beat and your mind feeling the funk. I affectionately term this feeling the funk “getting you”, lol

Before introducing themselves they did two other numbers, one a famous vocal, and the other a well known instrumental. When the lead finally said “We are incognito” the well oiled crowd were definitely up to here some good words and some more great music. Most introductions at gigs are a bit dry, but this one was a bit special. It was clearly not rehersed; they spoke about their influences from the 70s and how members of the band had snuck into gigs as kids. It all rang true for me, and when the introduced the lead singer of the 1970’s band FBI to sing with them, it made the night that little bit more special and even more enjoyable.

There is something about Incognito’s music that really grips at the soul of the jazz lover, the ease of which the music seeps out into the crowd, and yet the intensity with which the audeince picks up its effects is really something quite unique. Despite having one of my favorite drinks in hand I soon felt compelled to down it and head onto the dancefloor with great haste. Once there, I not only had the richness of the sound, variety of great vocalists and guitar riffs that would have made even Hendrix turn his head but the sheer volume of the sound going right through you. I know your bones dont really shake, even at this proximity to the music, but thats what it felt like – truely marvellous.

The band then paid tribute the Maysa Leak; a singer who had been with the band for several years, since branched out on her own and released her first solo album and someone I admire very much. The musicians were now warming to the crowd themselves, and everyone was getting so much more adventurous. Solos cropped up all the time, all of which made you whoop and cheer as you thought they couldn’t get any better then suddenly did. On fire on the night was the drummer, bass guitarist, guitarist and the trumpeter – all of whome did amazing solos.

Most bands at the majority of gigs go off at the end of the night, only to be shouted back onto the stage for an encore. Its almost a cliche. Incognito did the opposite. Right when you thought they were going to go off and get shouted back, they got all the musicians and singers back on stage to do one huge 14 minute long finale, with loads of solos and much funkyness, it was a truely awesome finish. Then to top it all off they did a great thankyou to the crowd for packing out the opening night, and then all left the stage to a classic by Bob Marley saying tha music brings people together. I’m sure I’m not the first to agree 100%.

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Tomb Raider Legend Woes

I got a few moments yesterday evening to install and have a quick go at the demo of Tomb Raider Legend. I was hoping to be blown away by the game (especially after its re-make, stunning promo screen shots and considerably less hype prior to release than AOD) and spured into buying the latest in Lara Croft goodness.

Unfortunately I have to say the result was not good. The game loaded fine, and I was impressed with the menus, good design, better than AOD, not the old ring style, but hey, we can live with that. Got the controls configured to my liking (as close the age old controls as I could), and started playing. The cut scene at the start was great and the voices were pretty cool. Lara also looked really good, much more life-like and a good improvement on past games.

So where is the problem I hear you asking? The answer is the controls. My only real gripe with AOD was how difficult it was to control Lara, and the fact you couldn’t explore too much, and it was too obvious about where to go and what to do. These problems still exist in Tomb Raider Legend unfortunately. Crystal Dynamics didn’t listen to Tomb Raider fans. To coin the phrase posted on the Tomb Raider forums; It’s Lara Croft, but it’s not Tomb Raider.

Lara was always very precise, able to go places where she didn’t need to if the player wanted to, able to walk, run, sprint at will in any direction, and TURN SLOWLY. One tap of the right arrow key sent Lara tunring by 90 degrees or more in Legend. Walk doesn’t exist anymore, look doesn’t exist anymore. Its crazy; you create beatuful scenary with your graphics team and then you don’t provide the player with a camera that can be positioned to take it in properly, except when looking through a target. It nearly made me cry – so much potential, thrown away due to poor controls once again. There were crys of needing a game pad to play on the forums and it would be better, but I’m not interested. The first Tomb Raider was good because you were in control. The game has always been linear, but with the option to go wrong, slow (if you wanted to) and explore the levels finding answers.

As a long term fan of Tomb Raider, I’m not even going to buy the game and complain about it. Id rather just stick with level editor and the amazing group of people coding superb levels for it, and have done with it. At least you are in control of Lara then and still have pretty good graphics to enjoy. For me, Tomb Raider never was and never will be a first person shooter with the occasional shot of Lara on camera. Now they have made it like this, I will be saving my money and speaking very little about the disaster that has materialised for the second game in a row. RIP Tomb Raider.

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Back from the boat

Well, I’m back from my stay on Burnaby, tired and covered in anti-foul, but she is ready (just about) to be launched next week for the start of the new sailing season. It was really nice to be working down there in the sunshine, and to get her looking so nice in the end (see pics here). It was cold at night though, and sleeping on board with no heating and only a sleeping bag is not for the faint hearted!

Unfortunatly I am hurtling ever more quickly towards my end of year exams, but with these comes the long summer vacation afterwards, during which I hope to spend many a happy trip out sailing Burnaby. As ever, I will post up pictures of all my trips, and especially any nice shots I capture in the early morning / late evening.

I had my first taste of real summer weather today as I felt the slight breeze and sun warm my back and neck as I polished the hull, and its nice to know that more such nice weather will be gracing us all very soon. Much as I love coding at my computer when its cold outside, there are few things better in the summer months than sitting back in the cockpit of the boat, feeling the wind on your face, the sun on your back and the light spray as she chomps though the swell – bring on the summer 🙂

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Work on Burnaby

Work on Burnaby

Every year Burnaby needs a few maintainance tasks performed on her. These pictures show the finished result before she went back into the water.

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