Saturday, January 26, 2013

Transformers/Star Trek

Friday and Saturday evenings this week I have spent watching the recent big budget Transformers movies. The special effects are something pretty special it has to be said. That goes for both films. The second movie, Dark of the Moon, however feels like it has the pacing wrong. It started okay but the second half lost its way I think. I managed to watch it all the way through but it was a bit of a struggle. Of course, having Rosie Huntington-Whitely and Megan Fox as leading ladies helps keep the interest going too, but I'd take the first film over the second every time.
The other film I watched last night was Star Trek Nemesis. It wasn't as good as I was hoping for. I can't exactly put my finger on it but sometimes the transition from TV to film feels wrong. I've always enjoyed Star Trek as made for TV episodes. The films have been okay but not what I would favour. Anyway, it's been good watching these films even if I thought the pacing was off.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

New York

I love this little song by Stephen Fretwell

Lost In Music

A few drinks and then listening to my favourite music = great times :-)

'nuff said!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Week of wonder

It seems like a strange title for a post I know. It was all that came to my mind whilst I was typing. This week so far has seemed a little bit strange. The snowy weather, the schools being closed and my family having time off whilst I've had to work.
I've decided that our family PC needs a Windows reinstall. It's slowly been getting slower and I think it needs a change. I've backed up most of the data, just a few things to do and then I can start over. It takes a bit of planning to do a Windows reinstall, that is if you don't want to lose any data. Personal files are stored in different places by different applications, not all in My Documents. Some apps store files that are used in strange places. I'll also need to have the license keys of software I have downloaded. Sometimes it involves digging around in my email folders to retrieve account details. Yup, there is more to the business of a reinstall than meets the eye.
The rest of this week looks set to be a busy one. I'll perform the reinstall at the weekend. I've yet to decide whether to upgrade to Windows 8, that's my other decision of the week: do I get back to a manufacturer install of Windows 7 and create a clean restore point. Or do I get back to the manufacturer install of Windows 7 and then upgrade to Windows 8 on the top of that? And then reinstall my applications on Windows 8? Is there any point moving to Windows 8? Has anybody out there used it? What did you think? I'm interested in hearing about your experience.

Sunday, January 20, 2013


well, the weekend started for my children at about 11am on Friday. we received a text to tell us that their school was closing due to the snow. I was working from home so popped out to go get them. I took their Wellington boots because at the time of their leaving it was dry and cold. Certainly different to that after a couple hours of snow. It is surprising how fast the snow covers the ground. It's been snowing most of the weekend and is now quite deep.
I bought a plastic sledge for the kids on Saturday, I was wondering if they would get to use it but the snow has continued to fall. My daughter was out with it early this morning playing with her friend, while my son went round to his friend's house to play Mine craft and Skylanders.
I'm grateful that I don't have to travel by car to do my job. It doesn't look as though the snow is going to be leaving us very quickly. The weather is going to be below freezing all week.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Magic the gathering

Like father like son they say. I have been looking into this card trading game and it seems to offer quite a lot of possibilities. I think it might be something that my son would enjoy in a couple of years when he grows out of some of the things he currently obsesses about, like Lego and Pokemon and possibly Skylanders (when it arrives in our house this week).
I like the artwork on the cards and the fact that there are thousands of cards that make the game very strategic. I would like to play it with fellow casual players, there are game nights where you can go and play but I think if I turned up I'd find I'm in the wrong demographic and that would make me uncomfortable. So I doubt I'll ever play it outside my own home. I don't know, I could be wrong about this.
The game is built around owning and maintaining a deck of cards. The cards contain creatures and spells that you can use to reduce your opponent's life to zero, each player starts a game with 20 life points. The back of the card is always the same but the front is where the artwork and information for playing is. I was never a role playing game guy, so this world is slightly alien to me and it may not survive long to sustain my interest. However, I'm going to see how this develops and give it a chance.
Card back

Example of a card front

Monday, January 14, 2013

New enthusiasm

My son's passions usually involve some element of collecting, usually at our expense! He's decided to spend the gift money he got from family members and friends on a game and figures called Skylanders Giants. I don't know anything about it but from what I can tell by taking a quick look it is based around a videogame and the collection of expensive figurines. For a ten year old boy with an imagination it is probably everything he needs to get excited, his friends have it apparently and when the talk in the school playground is about something that sounds cool it is only natural to want in. Here's an article about Skylander's Giants if you want to read further.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Let me down gently

It's very cold here in the UK at the moment. Snow has been forecast and I think some has fallen on the higher ground, none where I live as yet. Our house takes a while to warm up and the heating is not really set for this cold temperature, so it tends to shut off before the house is comfortable in every room. We have had to use portable oil radiators to keep some rooms warm without resorting to having the full heating system on. It means we stay warm and have to stay together. At least until the times when the heating system starts up again.

After doing the house cleaning hores this morning, we decided to go on a family bike ride. I pumped the tyres up, as I usually have to, because it's been a few weeks since we took the bikes out for a ride. They were okay, to be fair, just not as hard as I like them so I added some more air pressure into each tyre to make them more solid.  We decided to ride along by the canal on the towpath, we like to look at the canal barges and imagine ourselves living on a boat. My children think it would be exciting, I'm less keen! About halfway through the ride, just as we decided to turn back my wife heard a pop, pulled over and as I pulled up alongside I could hear the fateful hissing. First time she has had a puncture since we bought the bikes a couple of years ago, so not bad average really but it does happen. Unfortunately, we had no repair kit to fix the problem so she pushed it home with us walking and riding at her speed.
My face and hands were really cold (even through thick gloves) and my nose was a bit drippy. We got home and the smell of the food cooking in the slow cooker was delightful. We'll be eating that stew very shortly and I for one and looking forward to it. Just what we need in this cold weather to warm us up.

Postscript: The stew was lovely, really yummy!!

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Tech News

I see in tonight's news that Jessops the camera shop has gone into administration. I've been a customer of that chain a few times in my past. Back in the day before smartphones all had cameras on them. I think the mobile phone market has largely replaced the point and shoot camera one. It's a sad but true fact. Why didn't they see this coming and change their business strategy?

I think 2013 is going to be a good year for consumer electronics. I was given a Google Nexus 7 tablet computer for Christmas by my wife. It's great for browsing the web and reading digital magazines and books. She knows I love gadgets. This year I am expecting some news about the next generation of video game consoles. I have an Xbox360 so I am looking forward to what the Xbox720 will be like, if that's what they're going to call it. My son has already started asking for a laptop for next Christmas. He has so many problems writing with his hand that I think it might be beneficial for him. My wallet does groan at the thought of it though.

I was wondering whether to upgrade out home PC to Windows 8. This is at an offer price during January and I don't know what to do for the best. Our Windows 7 machine isn't that old but is starting to slow down, I think a change might be a good thing for it.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

2013 Has Arrived

Happy New Year to all of my readers! I hope you had a good Christmas Holiday 2012. A new year is with us now and the celebrations of last night are behind us. How did you spend your New Year's Eve? I was with my family the whole time.
I cooked a beef stew with suet dumplings for our evening meal, using up some leftovers from the week. My wife bought us a slow cooker in the sales just after Christmas and we're keen to try cooking a new variety of meals with it. I hadn't made dumplings before but my mother in-law said they were very good, which is high praise as she is a great cook herself. So we ate and then immediately after we went out and drove to the cinema to go and see High Society, another classic film they decided to put on. The cinema we go to is wonderful, it has very comfortable seats and in the lobby there is a bar and sofas and all sorts of books about film. The owner walks on to the stage before the main film is shown and says a few things. This time he said it was a good film for a New Year's Eve (I guess because of the Champagne!) and that it was a good 35mm print this time around, apparently the last time they got the film it was quite badly scratched and the colour was a bit washed out. My mother in-law said that it was a much better colour than even the DVD she has. With modern films you don't see scratches or colour fades, it's easy to forget things like that. I don't know how modern films are projected, perhaps they aren't even on film like they used to be. I'll have to look that up after this post!

The film was great, I've seen it before but it's much better seeing it on a big screen. It was a good way to spend the first part of the evening. After that we drove home and had a few drinks and some pizza, some sticky chicken skewers and a big heap of sausage rolls I heated up in the oven when we got home. My wife and I were in bed watching Final Destination 2 after that, pausing to watch the London fireworks on TV at midnight. I thought the fireworks were fantastic and not long after that we went to sleep.

Christmas cold

It's been quite a surreal Christmas this year for me. I had a sore throat on my first day of holiday and it gradually got worse and turned into a full blown cold, peaking on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. So I've spent most of the week on pills feeling slightly "out of body" and "woolly headed". This cold seems to be lodged at the moment and not moving out, so I think it'll be with me for at least another week.