Three weeks in one page.

Seems like it’s been busy but not actually doing much. Often been finding myself browsing through Youtube videos at the moment or watching 80/90s movies I’ve recorded off TV (Mad Max, Lethal Weapon, 48 Hours and some others) not really doing much. So not much MWO or Portal.

I got MWO running, logged in and had no idea what was going on before I died. It’s still a hassle to be a solo player, especially when you can’t remember the key binds and the rest.  It’s also a pain to reboot all the time to swap OS.

School holidays came up, so I took my two girls to my sister’s property in rural NSW. Their first time on a farm and a chance for Mrs Mab to have 5 days relaxing on her own (considering I get to do that every week it’s only fair).

6 hours of driving and cold weather, but girls loved every minute. They especially loved the week old lamb that played chase almost non stop with them. Driving tractors, climbing trees, feeding ducks and horses. A great experience.

I also got a new push bike to get out there on the mountains. Dad found a great condition second hand (basically brand new) 2014 Giant Trance and brought it over for me. Just need the weather to clear up to test it out.

Took the Daytona home last time, and even managed a Putty ride while Dad minded the kids, so that was cool. Cool was a good word for the trip back in my leathers not my touring gear. Caught up to a mate on the same ride that night, just as he finished up being booked for speeding. Bummer.

Will get back into some stuff tomorrow I hope and have some more to write about.

 

I’m Moving.

Canberra Sunset

Canberra Sunset

It had to happen eventually, its the nature of my employment that we move occasionally. I’ve been pretty lucky managing to stay in Sydney for almost 10 years. But my luck has run out, and I’m being relocated to Canberra after Christmas.

On the plus side, its sort of a promotion and an unexpected positive career move. On the minus side, we are quite settled here in Sydney, with Miss 6 enjoying school and friends and Miss 3 in a nearby childcare. Mrs has been working steadily at her job too, and would like to stay. And then there’s the house we are currently building…..

So from a home situation, we’re a bit undecided what arrangements we might go ahead with as there is a strong desire to remain in Sydney, while I work in Canberra and commute home as often as I can.

Big strain on a family, living apart, but so is living somewhere we don’t like – not that Canberra is bad, it’s sort of my home town, but like I said, we’re pretty settled here.

So stay tuned as we decide which direction we head in.

Walking Memory Lane.

I was having a chat at work about old stereo gear and we got into talking about Walkmans.  I’ve had a Walkman pretty much my entire life since I first got one in 1982. A succession of them followed, mostly Sony, but also Aiwa (who Sony owned) totalling about five or six, slowly growing in features (like auto-reverse oh yeah!) and shrinking (the first was the size a good novel).

I moved onto Discmans in about 1993 I think and had about 3 different models. And eventually MD Walkman as well, of which I had 3 from about 1999 until I think 2003.

I was a bit curious so I dug about in my garage and found some of them.

sony-walkman-wm-ex5-nsy

Sony Anniversary Walkman WM-EX5

This is the EX5 which is the same as my own FX5. Turns out it was released as a 50th anniversary of the very beginnings of Sony. As far as I know, its nearly the last high end Walkman released before cassettes died. Mine should still work, but I’ve lost the internal rechargeable battery and have no cassettes to try out. It did come with a separate battery pack that takes a single AA. I have that. Anyone still got any cassettes around?

sony_mzn10_euro_big

Sony MZ-N10 NetMD Walkman

This is one of the last Mini Disc Walkmans released before that format died. It could connect to a computer and then download songs, exactly how your iPod works now. The Sony program was pretty annoying to use from memory. Mine still works fine, in fact I’m listening to it now :)

I did like MD’s. I had a small home stereo with MD and even my car ran MD as well. Thought they were a great, all the recording advantages of tapes without the “noise”. Smaller than a CD and didn’t skip. But no way I prefer them to solid state iPods now.

I can’t find any of my old Discman. I am pretty sure I let my sister use my last one after I had my first iPod. She would have destroyed it – she did that to any electronic device I gave her, including 3 Palm devices.

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Sony D-E706

This is pretty close to the model I had last. It survived a bicycle crash (without even stopping playing) when I was riding and hit by a bus (broke my arm). Limited by the size of the media of course.

Then MP3s, iPods (and Zune and Creative players etc) all started sweeping all of these other formats aside. So for me, it was a decade of Walkman followed by almost a decade of Discman. Then a bit of overlap with MD and since 2003 it’s been iPods.

My girls are going to think of CDs as I do of LPs. This weird music thing that my parents have a big collection of (I’m not getting into the whole better sound argument ok, I listen to MP3 that have been copied from CDs and probably changed format a couple of times with inevitable losses I’m fine with that).

What did you guys do before MP3?

New ISP

I’ve just connected with a new ISP, the main reason, I wasn’t happy with the performance available on my current one. They could only provide ADSL1 (up to 8Mbps) whereas the new provider could give me ADSL2 (up to 22Mbps).

Connections have gone through and it seems to have improved. Speedtest sites report about 16kbps (so about double). More importantly I was able to Skype my wife (who’s currently overseas) while the kids watched some YouTube. Without problems on either computer. Normally we’d have to turn off one or the other.

So pretty happy with that. And 50GB more download for the same price.

Random Trivia – Sherlock revisited

Here’s something random I just discovered. The BBC show Sherlock that I talked about here, Sherlock is played by Benedict Cumberbatch, who will appear shortly as the villain in the new Star Trek movie and plays the voice of Smaug (I think I said that in the other post), but Dr Watson, played by Martin Freeman, is none other than Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit, and was also Arthur Dent in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

It’s Elementary, Sherlock.

An interesting coincidence has occurred in my viewing. Recently I discovered the BBC short series “Sherlock”, a modern interpretation of the Sherlock stories. Produced as 2 (so far) series of three 90 minute episodes it has Sherlock doing his deduction work in modern day London. Dr Watson is a recovering (retired? reservist?) British Army doctor who has served in Afghanistan. Sherlock is played by Benedict Cumberbatch who we will see as the villain in the new Star Trek movie and is the voice of Smaug in The Hobbit. (Note, the original Dr Watson was also a British Army doctor who served in Afghanistan, as at the time of his novels, that’s where the wars had been in Sir Conan Doyle’s time…. 125 years later and the British Army and others are there again!)

sherlock Then, Channel Ten has started showing “Elementary”. This is a US produced show, with Sherlock doing his deduction work in modern day New York. This time Dr Watson, played by the lovely Lucy Liu, is a Doctor who has given up practicing, who acts as a live in buddy for recovering addicts (who have rich parents). Elementary is broadcast in the standard 45min episodes setup.

PILOTBoth shows are high quality productions, and both have their mysteries wrapped up by the time the credits roll. Sherlock however does have some story elements that carry through the episodes, something that is missing from Elementary. Sherlock also seems to use the original material as a basis for much of some of the episodes, cleverly rewritten to take place in the modern world. The Hound of the Baskervilles episode is a good example of this, quite different plot to the original, yet still the same. Elementary doesn’t seem to be using much of the source material, apart from the lead characters. However I’m certainly no Sherlock aficionado so could well be on the wrong track there.

I am enjoying both, but Sherlock is a level higher than Elementary. Elementary seems like the other shows, like Numb3rs, The Mentalist, Law & Order: Criminal Intent and other crime dramas, where a oddly smart person solves crimes for the police (or as one). While a bit eccentric and very smart, Holmes in Elementary seems not as far different from the other “genius” in the other shows. However Holmes in Sherlock seems to be operating in a totally different world from everyone else, with a level of intellect almost unfathomable.

The longer episodes also lend the BBC the ability to have more intricate puzzles and more twists than the shorter episodes. Carry over characters (Moriaty, Holmes’ brother Mycroft, the landlord, the medical tech) other than just the police contact, Holmes and Watson also let us get more attached to the other people in the Sherlock series.

Overall I enjoy both, and will keep watching them. However I hungrily await the next episode of Sherlock, whilst I watch Elementary when I don’t have higher priority shows to watch (like Sherlock, lol).

Sherlock has 2 series and is confirmed for a third.
Elementary has one series completed but I’m not sure if a second has been confirmed

Gizoogle…. (some language may offend)

Here’s something random I found..

Gizoogle.net   A website that among other things, can translate webpages into gangsta speak.  Here’s a sample from the Mechwarrior post I just made..

To mah crazy ass tha game was at its peak just before they removed knockdowns. From dat patch onwardz tha pimpers have steadily added complexitizzle without balizzle n’ have introduced bugs andz instabilitizzles tha fuck into partz of tha game dat was hittin dat shizzle fine. Even bugs dat should done been obvious from even a lil’ small-ass amount of play testin (the screw up wit missile damage when Artemis was introduced fo’ example) before bustin it on tha Beta servers…. one assumes they have they own internal test servers….. assumes…

 

ECM, by all accounts is straight-up messin wit tha game. It didn’t have ta be yo, but they’ve juiced it up a must have fo’ everyone, limitin yo’ mech chizzlez if you wanna have any real chizzle of bustin well up in a match. There is no reliable way fo’ big-ass mechs ta combat lil’ small-ass mechs without knockdowns (in tabletop you could even fall if you turned whilst hustlin, now you won’t fall if a mech charges tha fuck into you). They is havin a shitload of problems wit lag n’ rubber bandin (I remember mah duel wit a light I be thinkin I discussed up in another post).

Use in moderation :)

The Journey Begins – MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS… (or nuts)

If you haven’t seen The Hobbit, STOP READING NOW. I’m not certain I won’t have spoilers…

However, if you’ve read the book a bunch of times (or even seen LOTR) there really isn’t a lot of big PLOT spoilers to be spoiled.

The-Hobbit-HERO-2I really enjoyed the movie. Being that he’s made the book into three movies, it stopped about where I expected it too, being the completion of their escape from the Misty Mountains, but before their adventures in Mirkwood.

I watched it in 3D and the new framerate and to be honest, I didn’t think much of it – I mean it still doesn’t seem like either of those technologies significantly adds to the viewing pleasure.

The movie itself – as I said it was good. I already feel like you should watch this series before you watch LotR, but I’m not sure how that will hold up through the trilogy. One of the biggest things I noticed was the omens and portents of what is coming in LotR. They were eventually made clear (to us, not to the characters), however fans would pick up on them a lot earlier. For non fans, they do get explained, but a little later (so the fans can lord it over the others for about 30 mins). As the Lady Galadriel says “Something is moving in the dark and in the shadows.” Saruman already seems a little out of touch, or is he being duplicitous.

It had a lot of humour (but I noticed myself giggling a lot more than most in the cinema, so maybe it was just me) and was overall pretty well paced, with only a couple of moments of boredom. I have read some comments about the songs, but I quite enjoyed the action of “That’s what Bilbo Baggins hates”. 

Uninvited Guests

Uninvited Guests

Dwarves… Ever since reading The Hobbit (think I was about 8, as I know I read LotR later, when I was 10) I have been a huge fan of dwarves. In RPG and computer games, if given the choice I would play a Dwarf. I was always sad that both the LotR book and Jackson’s movies had such small parts for dwarves.

Thinking about it though it does make sense. Dwarves have never really engaged with the world, content as they are to mine and mind their own business. Sauron’s influence on the rings of power didn’t really work on the Dwarven Rings either, certainly not as he had hoped.

But, YAY, three movies of serious dwarf :)

It was a great movie, I can’t wait for the next two and then to watch them all in order….  Hey Lucas, maybe you should have got Jackson (or Tolkien) to pen Eps 1 to 3….

My Dad

This is way off topic… but I’m so proud of my dad.

He’s now 68 and today he’s just finished this bike race… the Whaka 100. Its a 100km single track mountain bike race held annually in Rotorua, NZ. It took him 9h 47m (he planned on 10h). I don’t think he won, even in his age group, but that doesn’t matter to me (or him I imagine).

I can’t guess how tired he is right now, but that’s an amazing thing to do. Awesome work dad :)

 

Random Review – Nike+ SportwatchGPS

The Nike+ SportwatchGPS in Blue (this is the one I have)

The last of these running related reviews is the Nike+ Sportwatch GPS. I mentioned at the end of the last review that I had purchased the watch and I’ve been running with it for about 3 or 4 weeks now.

It fits nicely on my wrist, but I recommend anyone with thick wrists try it on first as I am almost on the last hole, and I think my wrists are about average. Its light and comfortable, and not overly bulky. The face is easy to read, even in sunlight or when running.

Functionally as a watch its very basic. It has a clock and an alarm. Enough to use day to day, but if you plan on travelling or you expect multiple alarms you should look elsewhere. However as a running tracker I’ve found it performs great. The GPS reception is as competent as the iPhone that I was using, and because of that, the run tracking is very accurate.  As a fallback, the watch can also link to the Nike Shoe Sensor. It will also link to some heartrate monitors if you have one.

The display cycles through a list of useful stats, distance, time, clock, pace throughout the run. It can do intervals and laps either automatically or by slapping the screen. This slap needs to be quite firm, a simple press like a touch screen phone will not register. The slap is also used in the stopwatch mode to view lap times.

The USB connection at the end of the watchband (and the colour Jolt)

It connects via USB to your PC/Mac and special Nike+ software. The software pushes the workouts to the Nike+ website, charges the watch and also updates the GPS satellite data (the more recent this data, the faster the GPS lock). The software also lets you adjust settings on the watch (interval times, data display cycle). The USB plug is actually at the end of watch band under a little cover. A great idea that does mean that the strap can’t be replaced as you’ll sever the USB cable.

And this is currently my biggest concern for the longevity of the watch. The watch has a plasticy rubber strap, and in my experience as you take the watch on and off these kinds of bands eventually snap. Does this mean I’ll need a new watch in six months or a year? In its defence, its been many, many years since I owned a watch with such a band, perhaps they have improved.

The battery life isn’t anything like a normal watch (they can last years), I seem to get about a week out of it. I’m not sure how much of an effect going on an actual run affects this duration as GPS functionality is passive. So a week with three runs of about an hour each.

Overall I’m happy. I can ditch the iPhone again and run with my watch and the little Nano again. And its not bulky and odd looking for use in between runs. I recommend considering it, especially if you use the Nike+ website already.

(oh and it has a run reminder function, but I haven’t used it)