A Grim North

Musings from a northerner living in the deep south…

Archive for the ‘General Meh’ Category

Reflections and Resolutions

Posted by Alan on January 1, 2012

Goodbye 2011, hello world 2012 style. Reflecting, I am sad to see the back of 2011 – it’s been a hell of a year.

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Cold Geese

Posted by Alan on January 2, 2011

A short video from the Christmas holiday – these are Canada Geese by Cowm Park Reservoir.

Isn’t Canada meant to be really cold?

So WHY ARE THESE GEESE SHIVERING?!

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2010 – the end is nigh

Posted by Alan on December 31, 2010

So this is it? Another year draws to a close and a fresh one starts. 2010 has been a mixed year for me – looking back it seems almost as if I was stood still in a whirlwind (apologies for the blatant hyperbole).  Quite a lot of stuff happened – some of it seems so much further away in time than reality! This blog is almost 2 years old now and is a little more diverse than it was on day one.  Important events? Well, probably changing jobs slightly in April and rediscovering cycling as a useful form of transit just after the Cycle Hire scheme went live, the latter resulting in some reduction in mass so that I am no longer classified as obese by BMI – hurrah!

Highlights? There’s a few, which means it’s time for a python-esque list…

Resolutions? Maybe not.

However, 2011 will probably be a massive year of change.  The cuts are coming – who knows whether what role there will be for me at work this time next year, so it’s probably a good year to be motivated and get stuff done.  That said, having become an irregular cyclist in 2010 I do plan to become a regular cyclist and see if I can get my mass down < 75kg before the summer solstice. I’m going to have a second crack at the Bogle on foot and actually train (a bit). Much more photography to be done – I’ve vaguely learned what the buttons and numbers mean and how to use them. Next step, figure out how to point it at things in a more interesting way and figure out the best way of presenting the results.

Oxo Tower

My favourite shot of 2010 - The Oxo Tower & South Bank at night

So, time to raise a glass and get on with it…!

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Bright Lights

Posted by Alan on December 12, 2010

Euston Tap

The bright lights of London - Euston Tap

It’s been another busy week as the inevitable party chaos of Christmas descends – thus time for a pythonesque list of things done.

Monday was Ruth’s birthday but she was working a long day in the hospital so I prepared instead by hitting Oxford St, bringing back a surprise (nowhere to hide presents in our flat!) and having a proper beef & ale stew waiting on the table for when she got home.

On Tuesday Dan popped up in London – fancy a beer? The Gunmakers and Euston Tap provided plenty of entertainment in the form of quality beer.

By Wednesday it was time to take Ruth out for a proper birthday dinner. Queue Queens steakhouse. It was very good though sadly not very full. Could be a symptom of limited promotion – their own website simply states ‘coming soon’ and you’ve no idea about what treats lie in store until you arrive.

Thursday saw a work xmas do where after some great food at Kym’s of Pimlico we decamped to the excellent Cask.

On Friday, Ruth was back at work.  This left me free to go check out Mason & Taylor in Shoreditch and then write about it. And then leg it to the Euston Tap / Bree Louise to catch up with another work party.

And thus that left the weekend for R&R. Well, best get onto the Sunday chores…

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Snow cycling

Posted by Alan on December 4, 2010

Long Load

No cycling for me during the snow!

With the recent weather, I’ve seen loads of blog posts about cycling in the snow. I did nothing of the sort – not really because of the snow but more because I was busy at Pigs Ear 2010 and the Arcade Fire gig at the O2. However, anecdotally it seems that the snow hasn’t put the borisbikers off in town. Whilst I didn’t have any gloves I wasn’t going to fight that cold wind…

Arcade Fire was quite cool. A good show with some great music but the O2 really is so impersonal and corporate I’m not sure I’d go again. Up in level 4 most people seemed to care more about getting a pint of fizzy piss mass produced lager and a hotdog that in the band. Given how steep the banking and the distance away from the stage that’s hardly surprising. I guess I need to start paying attention to new bands again and get out to the smaller venues…and it was worth setting my expectations low beforehand – having seen Arcade Fire once before I wasn’t too fussed about actually seeing the people!

Glastonbury Sunset

Entirely gratuitous - a shot from Glastonbury 2007 whilst waiting for Arcade Fire

Lastly this week the London Assembly has produced it’s first report on the cycle hire scheme and superhighways.  Called Pedal Power, there’s some serious questions for the Mayor, as well as some general observations – cycle hire works for people as it’s inexpensive and flexible, cycle superhighways doesn’t really work for people as it’s just another bit of paint on the road. Maybe some segregation might work better? Just an idea…

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Taking the plunge with the penguin

Posted by Alan on October 29, 2010

A little while ago I finally took the plunge and purged Windows XP from my netbook. As an IT nerd, I have had experience with Linux in the past, but never got past the tinkering for fun stage.  This time, I’m actually using it for real. So, what do you get? First up a pretty normal looking desktop:

 

Ubuntu Desktop

Ubuntu Desktop

 

Some stuff is in new places (such as close/minimise/etc – all in the Apple Mac style top right) and but generally it’s not very scary menu browse to application system. The biggest difference is the software centre – it’s a place where you can pick up free apps to use. There’s quite a few covering many things.

 

Software Centre

Ubuntu Software Centre

 

Wander outside of the software centre to find applications and it’s a very much more scary place though. Still, for general use the software centre does the job nicely. So in terms of apps out of the box, there’s a standard set covering word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, email, internet browsing and social networking.

 

Social networking client

 

Personally I tend not to use gwibber as my social networking client – it’s a little clunky and by default only refreshes every 5 minutes.  Still, it does integrate into the OS itself meaning any updates are subtle when minimised and once setup you get single sign on.  The office type applications are much like Office 2003 – not very scary, but less familiar now that I use the MS ribbon interface all day work!

 

Word Processor

 

Browsing the internet with Firefox is pretty much the same as it is under Windows.

 

Firefox - Web Browsing

 

As you might expect, the OS does include some image integration – it’s easy to pick out photos etc through it.

 

Pictures - as per windows XP

 

Overall it’s really good.  The wireless connects instantly and holds its connection well. Even my o2 dongle works. Best of all it’s free! These screenshots are all from Ubuntu 10.04 – but 10.10 is available now which has some minor enhancements. The most noticeable being that they changed the font – pretty irrelevant really! I have found it really helpful that Thunderbird 3.1 is part of the software centre – local calendars are the way forwards – especially if you have keep a close eye on your schedule.

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A spotify playlist to cut to

Posted by Alan on October 9, 2010

Been another busy week here… I still haven’t managed to finish writing about the cycling holiday or the million and one things on my to do list. Oh well, if I haven’t done it yet it obviously can’t be that important!

It’s been ages since I forced a mix tape on anyone either. So here we go, a playlist to cut to.

2010-10 Cuts cuts cuts

John Cooper – ‘Ouses, ‘ouses, ‘ouses
Seth Lakeman – Poor Man’s Heaven
The xx – Infinity
Dan Le Sac – Letter From God To Man
Guillemots – Get Over It
iLiKETRAiNS – Stainless Steel

Enjoy.

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Irony and crap cycling

Posted by Alan on August 13, 2010

Last night on the way down the orient to see them win an award (don’t worry… beer not football related!) I spotted this in Bakers Arms, Leyton.

Chicken shop

Chicken shop

Now just zoom in on the window in the top right.

A diet clinic?

A diet clinic?

Really now?

I also spotted this excellent (not) cycling facility:

More crap cycling in Waltham Forest - bollard blocking cycle stand

More crap cycling in Waltham Forest

Yeah, it’s all good in East 17. There are two more narrowboat posts to finish…coming soon…

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Carter’s Steam Fair

Posted by Alan on June 28, 2010

Given a sunny Sunday, what else to do but lounge in the park? Well… why not find a park with an Edwardian amusement arcade as well?

Steam powered pirate ships

Steam powered pirates

Helicopter Race

Helicopter Race - almost as good as England's race to victory!!

So after all that excitement, why not take in a bit of proper English cuisine – candy floss!

Dentist recommend flossing daily...

After that…well lie about in the park and do nothing.  When we did eventually go look at the football in the nearest pub, England were already being beaten. Quietly drinking our pints in a corner, we escaped before the end to make sure that we didn’t get beaten too! – but only back to the park for a picnic and a little more doing nothing. Brilliant. Wish more weekends could be like that.

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The D-SLR

Posted by Alan on October 6, 2009

Put a tweet out earlier re: D-SLRs and have had a great response so far.

So… I should probably explain a little more:

Looking for some kind of starter kit, i.e.

  • camera body
  • lenses
  • memory card
  • bag
  • spare battery

Budget will probably be around £600 (is this reasonable?).

I’ve no preference to make (yet) but I have used a 35mm SLR before so I am vaguely familiar with most of the buttons and terminology…! For the next couple of weeks at least, there is a Jessops around the corner from the office so I can go try stuff at lunch.

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