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Miscellaneous meanderings and myriad mumblings
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24th-Apr-2014 02:37 am - Still around, doing stuff
carwash
Having a doing evening, and decided to post on my infrequently used geekfest techiesnippets for some FreeBSD pokery. That led me to realise that I've neglected DW/LJ quite badly.

I do miss both DW/LJ and CIX, it's just that after it lost critical mass, Facebook and Twitter became the places to stay in touch (despite their faults). Please do feel free to add me on there.

Anyway, apologies for the long delay in adding [personal profile] jack and bugshaw to my journals, and I'll try and follow this a little more often.

Tonight was spent refereeing for Rainy City Roller Girls C Team, BLM - the Bet Lynch Mob. They are a lovely crowd and it's great to see everyone improve.

I'll be spending Saturday evening officiating at Dolly Rockit Rollers vs Tender Hooligans (RCRG B Team) , and (if it's on) Saturday morning training with the Knights of Oldham. You should come and cheer along this Saturday night, it'll be awesome :).

Roller derby is great, but it does tend to eat your life - another reason why I've been absent from here.

I will be changing some things, however. A recent quote I appreciated at the last weekend (attending the Nantwich Jazz and Blues festival for Blues and beer) was to the effect that it may be necessary to stop doing some of the things you'd quite like to do, so that you can do the things you really want to do.
things I've been doingCollapse )

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4th-Oct-2012 12:56 am - Roller Derby
carwash
As I mentioned a few months ago, I'd been to a couple of roller derby games and was just about to start training. Since then it's become a really quite serious part of my exercise regime and social life.

I've passed the point of commitment for a new hobby - that is to say, I've now bought my own pads and have skates on order. Next Monday I move up to the advanced class and people start hitting me rather more than they have been doing so far.

It's a bit of a misnomer to say I'm now advanced; that's an aim rather than my status. It's entirely true that my stance and performance at stops and falls has dramatically improved, but there's still a long way to go, my laterals (quick moving from side to side, i.e. round cones) and transitions (front to back skating) need a lot of work not to mention I've only just started blocking and coping with people blocking me.

I'm thoroughly enjoying this though. It's a lovely supportive community where everyone wants each other to do well.

I've also managed to quash a few body image issues. For running and cycling I've never had any real quibbles, but there was a degree of uncertainty over whether the fact my legs aren't straight (I have bandy legs; my knee bends to the side then my lower leg bends round) would cause an issue. I can't tell whether they're a factor affecting my performance in derby, but what I can say is that my ability to skate on my right leg is slowly improving, that I can happily stand on my right leg (without skates on, with skates on it's more tricky) and that whilst I am far from the best skater I'm probably not the worst..

So far as helping out in games goes, I need to master my transitions and work on rules before I can start refereeing (this is one of the moves that is more important to refs than players. Refs often have to go back and forth around the track, players don't.). In the meantime there are plenty of Non Skating Official (NSO) roles I can do that help in learning the rules, the team rosters and generally concentrating in a fairly complex environment.

I'm running the scoreboard at this weekend's event. Should hopefully be fun!

If you want to come along, or do skate training check out the Rainy City Roller Girls' website!

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3rd-Aug-2012 03:07 pm - Bicon 2012
carwash
yep, going again!

Whilst last year was pretty good, I'm hoping to enjoy it substantially more this year as a) Whilst work isn't awesome it's not as stressful as last year b) there are (hopefully) no impending deaths in the family this time and c) it won't be just after another fun but intense festival (Colne)

Plans are to chill out, help on reception a bit, maybe have a few snogs but I'm not looking to take on any new activism at this time - too many other things I want to do in the next year and I have to set a deadline for various existing plans..

Will have to see if I can arrange a last minute ball costume; nothing planned currently.

I'm in Merryweather 2, floor 3 for accommodation apparently. See some of you there!

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carwash
As the above says (badly, haven't mastered how to use a Cyrillic keyboard or charmap properly yet), I'm learning Russian in some idle moments/walking to work and suchlike.

Originally I was learning German, but decided that I'd prefer something that was spoken a little more widely. Of course, given that criteria, the obvious choices are Spanish or Chinese, but I didn't really fancy those. Additionally I fancied learning Cyrillic.

What I didn't realise is that learning Cyrillic is the relatively easy bit. Leaving aside the confusion between э and з, and that even with the pronunciation rules it doesn't seem to quite match up with the spoken course I have..

I didn't realise at the time that whilst various European languages (French, Spanish) are supposed to be reasonably easy to learn, Russian is ranked a level below Mandarin.. It also appears that there are not a wealth of English<->Russian dictionaries, but never mind - I don't have a time limit set for learning.

It's going slowly, but productively so far (languages are not one of my core skills). Pondering changing my operating systems over to Russian locale at some point so that I'm forced to read more text, coupled with a handy dictionary..

Next step is probably to find some online Russian radio stations to listen to in the background, and once my skills are considerably higher than now - reading some Russian or dual Russian/English books.

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17th-Jul-2012 08:26 am - orgy v4
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Oh look. [personal profile] tajasel has started up another darkroom orgy on Dreamwidth.. Could be fun ;)

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carwash
Updating now, because if I don't I'll never get around to it.. Have an Android phone now, though, so can spend a bit more time during train journeys etc catching up.

Anyway, exercise. Whilst some of you may be aware that I've been walking/hiking for a very long time and occasionally have days where I get away from it all (no electronics, at all) or walk long distances that could quite easily be achieved with paid for transport simply to remind me of the advantages and privileges of modern life, I also do other stuff.

There's mountain biking (or to be more accurate, off road biking). Around four years ago I decided to extend my repertoire of exercise for two main reasons - first that I have some excellent countryside mere minutes from my house, and second that frequent meals out and several pints of beer were taking a slow toll on my waistline. Biking worked well for this, and by doing long rides twice a week I lost around a stone in three months.

Since I got the bike I've been riding reasonably regularly, and have nipped to trails both at Gisburn Forest (Forest of Bowland) and Billage Woods (Blackburn). I am still very much an off road person rather than a mountain biker - going on the trails (raised platforms, steep drops and bends) involves a lot of braking and swearing, but it's generally enjoyable and I may improve over time.

I've also been kayaking for two years, with mixed success. On the bright side Bolton Canoe Club are lovely and helpful, but my skills are variable. It took two years to be able to roll the boat some of the time, and whilst I'm not too bad at manoeuvring I'm not really an adrenalin junkie and prefer to cover a fair bit of ground in the countryside. Kayaking in the UK is not ideal for this (Canada, New Zealand etc are a different matter).

Running has been sporadic - both because it has a somewhat higher pain to benefit ratio early on and also because if I want to run direct from home it involves a hill after a couple of minutes. I countered this with a new pair of running shoes and driving up the hill initially. I'm now at the stage where the uphills are substantially less difficult (I do not yet call them easy) and my speed is increasing. I'm not doing serious training - instead preferring to just get out there and occasionally push myself a bit harder. Still, one route over the moors (Spittlers Edge to Great Hill) has gone down from around 25 minutes to 21:56, and 17:48 on the way back (there's a very steep bit to start, which I tend to walk).

I'm rather hopeful that I can keep running a couple of times a week and maintain my fitness levels. Ideally this should be done in the morning, but whilst I admire greatly [personal profile] liv's ability to get up early for over the last year and go to the gym, I resent the discipline required to do this. There's also the fact that I'm getting a little older, there's a lot going on at work, and coupled with less than optimal bedtimes this equals some evening naps when I should be going directly out to exercise.

I am conscious, though, that I need to get a regular schedule sorted out, if I want to improve fitness levels and more importantly continue doing so as the nights draw in and motivation is much harder to find.

I have pondered doing a triathlon for my 40th birthday year, and still might manage it - although perhaps with kayaking rather than swimming. My swimming is somewhat subpar, but maybe I'll check out the locals baths sometime.

The result of this pondering is that I'm probably de-emphasizing kayaking in favour of skating[1]. Two friends skate for different teams - Rainy City Roller Girls and Manchester Roller Derby.

I hadn't skated on quads for a very long time (since I was about 8-10..) although I have done some inline skating a number of years ago. When S invited me to see a RCRG bout and come to a roller disco I thought it would be fun. Since then I've been to another disco and seen an inter team bout rather than people from the same team playing each other. The result? I start skate training tomorrow.

Everyone seems lovely, and I'm not doing too badly considering I have all of about 4 hours of experience on quads. Definitely improving at moving, much better at T stops, beginning to manage a plough stop and my falls have been at least semi controlled. Of course I can't actually play for RCRG (it's a women's team) but I can ref, and then decide if I also want to explore playing for the men's Manchester roller derby team.

Two teams within half an hour's drive, and also Europe's largest roller rink five miles away - that'll do nicely!

[1] Unfortunately kayaking and skating training are on the same day. This doesn't preclude me doing some weekend kayaking events occasionally

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14th-Jun-2012 12:42 am - Still here. Very Busy.
carwash
Here. Not dead. Update soon at some point including precisely what I'm busy with.

Whilst posting, you have just under 24 hours to buy Humble Bundle 5. The games on there aren't entirely to my taste (and it's ages since I've spent time playing games, other than at retro gaming nights), but Limbo is well worth a look, even if it's a bit sick in parts.

If you want to keep up with what I'm doing on a more regular basis, try Twitter or Facebook. I'm trying to cram in an awful lot at the moment and updating online isn't fitting into the time I have available.

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6th-Mar-2012 05:46 pm - easter - eastercon or blues?
carwash
tired. Busy. More soon

For the past few years ive been to the rather fab nantwich jazz and blues festival for good blues and beer.

Ive been pondering eastercon though but not entirely certain if im enough of a media fan to go. The website isnt entirely helpful either.

Oh dw/lj is it a) too late to book and b) should I go or stay with the blues? Any advice/info welcome!

I dont watch much tv other than doctor who these days, am not up to date with sarah jane or that crappy torchwood mini series and one night of board gaming a month is probably enough for me - although maybe with different games and people id do a bit more

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carwash
I have been, as usual busy - work is annoying and I've been out every night on the basis that it's good to get out there whilst there's interesting stuff to do (This coming week will be a bit quieter..).

I've been rather lax with DW/LJ because of this, and also because both have in general been a bit quiet themself. This'll only get worse if no-one ever posts, so I plan to do a weekly list of new and exciting things (skipping over regular drinkies with friends/things I usually do)

This 'week' will comprise the last three weeks, however :

Seen Mission Impossible : Ghost Protocol with Manchester Film Fans. Actually quite good, not too silly and Simon Pegg is for once reasonably amusing.

Saw, the weekend before, The Artist - great lighting, decent acting and a dash of humour. Understandably silent films aren't made these days, so when a decent (mostly silent) one comes along it's worth a look.

Went to a talk with Manchester Skeptics - Professor Jeff Forshaw talking about his Quantum Universe book and other things. Interesting and amusing - he's a knowledge yet blunt northerner.

Discovered, again, how much fun Warioware is with a bunch of other retro gamers.

Spent more than I intended to on the Steam sales, but all items were reasonably cheap (most expensive was Sonic Generations at 7 quid). Most pleasant surprise has been Rochard - a action puzzle game using a gravity/object manipulation tool. Has a demo, so can be checked out!

Completed LIMBO - continually inventive, even if some of the timing really is a tad too precise for my liking. Also almost finished Super Mario Land 2 - unimpressed that it's not too bad up until the last level which ramps up the difficulty considerably, has no save points and requires several deaths to learn what you can and cannot do..

Finished Pride and Prejudice. Starts off terribly witty, has moments of brilliance but an awful lot of less than exciting interfamily politics and an ending signposted pages in advance. I wouldn't call it bad, but it's not about to go to the top of my reading list. Also completed Christopher Brookmyre's Quite Ugly One Morning, which has confirmed to me I don't enjoy mystery thrillers where the identities of the protagists are known and it's generally clear that all will be okay in the end. It reminded me in a few ways of the Millennium trilogy, which definitely goes downhill after the first book..

Had the first New Years Day for a while that did not feature a hangover. This is definitely an improvement. Drink less, enjoy the next day more..

My Dad found and gave me the tape drive for my MSX - no longer having to use a custom lead and huge tape deck to play retro games. Eeee!

Wasted far too much time reading about a) canalboats (interesting, amusing, re-inforces the fact I don't think I'd ever want to live on one) and b) Amstrad PCWs

Drank Cassis Beer for the first time. It's a very interesting fruit beer, but expensive at £3-3.50 per bottle in the shops (&deity; knows what it'll be if I ever find it in a pub). With 25% blackcurrant juice in the beer, it's got a sweet but sharp taste with none of the sourness that blemishes the peach offering somewhat. Interesting!

Probably other stuff. Will add it in if I remember.

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9th-Nov-2011 06:19 pm - More ReplayExpo..
carwash
Saturday at ReplayExpo was awesome. Sunday was likewise damned good.

There were a number of amusing moments - seeing one of the people developing the spectrum emulation for the Chameleon FPGA based C64 emulator run Manic Miner and needing to be assured that yes, it really does sound that bad..

Played the latest Sonic Generations on XBox360 and was rather impressed at how the sense of speed had been preserved. Completing levels with the necessary number of rings can be tricky though.

Had an interesting chat with a guy that's used a very professional looking expansion module to an Atari 7800 to create new games - more colours, sprites and memory. Impressive!

It's also intriguing to see which machines have aged well, and which have not.

The Vectrex still rules. Most of the examples at Expo only had Minestorm installed, with another with Scramble. My favourite game is probably Space War though - stunning game. I suspect it's unlikely many other vector based consoles will exist.

The Megadrive with Sonic has aged better than the NES - it's still fast and colourful, whilst the Sam Coupé and Turbographx 16 impressed with their hardware. The Sam Coupé was pretty much a dead duck from the start, but its ports of Prince of Persia and Manic Miner do show what a custom chipset can do - achieving effectively 16 bit levels of performance. Elite on the Archimedes looked amazing although I couldn't remember all the keys.

Likewise, the Turbographx 16 is very able at throwing around large sprites. The only pity is that the game I tried wasn't particularly fun.

It was interesting to try the Enterprise which many people confused with an MSX. I can see why, as it's not dis-similar to an MSX2. Had a good long chat with the owner who brought in the Sam Coupé and Enterprise on the train journey back, especially about the fact emulation is never quite right, and that in the modern era of non CRT display devices, that games simply play differently, especially when designed to muck around with the CRT raster. Certainly, watching people play arcade Gradius it still seemed a bit different from the (mostly pretty good) emulation offered by MAME.

Some machines seemed to have aged badly, though, and I will probably be slated for saying that one of these is the Amiga, in my opinion. The hardware is very capable, but I've not seen much that's particularly standout recently. It seems to offer an uncomfortable space between the high end 8 bit computers and the older consoles. Perhaps I need to try an Amiga emulator again.

Portables are another area where things have radically improved. Having a Gameboy Advance here I can fairly firmly state that the best device for playing Gameboy games is a Gameboy Advance, or a Gamecube with a Gameboy Player attachment. Gameboys are good for playing Tetris and... Tetris. I never liked the Gameboy at the time (other than for Tetris), and still don't.

It beggers belief that in the same year the Tetris machineGameboy was released, the Atari Lynx came out with solid custom chips and a backlit LCD. For the next fourteen years practically all other handhelds lacked a backlight. The Gameboy color, PC Engine and Gameboy shown at the Expo were all but unusable.

On the bright side, I bought Crash Bandicoot XS and Super Mario Land 2 (Gameboy) - with the greyscales converted to colour and a decent backlit screen, it shows the games at the time really were much better than the faint smears bouncing around on the Gameboy..

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