Category Archives: Life

This will be Blogs about general Life.

It’s the thought that matters!

A Little over a year ago I was randomly talking to my brother one evening, my brother is in a band (this is important). My mother had announced a few months before that she was getting married to my now step father. I am completely useless when it comes to thinking of gifts for people, and don’t expect a card from me, I should really sort this out.

Anyway, upon this conversation, my brother (Oly) and I were talking about the fact that his band were going to be playing at the wedding, in a slightly joking way, he said I should join them and play the trombone. Now, for those that don’t know, I played the trombone for around 6 months, when I was 9. I was now 28, I was never really very good at it then, partly due to not being able to afford a trombone of my own, and was therefore using a school one, which wasn’t the best, partly because the neighbours would complain the second I started practising, (lets face it, it’s not a quiet instrument!). but, nevertheless, I figured, why not. If I can’t play by the time the wedding comes, I’ll find something else, otherwise I had an excellent wedding present! So, I decided there and then to order a trombone, I now have the money to do this kinda stuff. I was still at my mothers when I ordered and the trombone arrived the next day at my office.

Great, I now have a trombone, not a cheap thing to buy on a whim, and I have little clue about how to play it, I know how to make a noise, but where the notes are, I have no idea! Then I remembered that while clearing my grand mothers house, there was 2 “Learning trombone” books, I dug them out and had a bit of a read, tried a few things, but I have no idea what it was sounding like on the other side of the horn. At this point I decided to search the internet for a tutor. I came across Kevin Shanklin, Sent him a message and arranged a meeting, from this point I had 1 lesson a week, at my office (after working hours). The reason for this was that I lived in a flat, and I’m pretty sure my neighbours would have been screaming! Kevin was a fantastic teacher. From the get-go, I explained what I wanted to achieve, This was not me learning how to play the trombone, but more me learning to play a few songs as best I can, in around 6 months. I had a list of 6 songs, of which I was going to play 3, We went through the songs, The Saxophone player from my brothers band created me some score sheets to follow, and Kevin & I went through the songs. We picked one song to learn, and then moved on to the next, by the end of the 3rd month, I was mostly confident that I could play a couple of songs relatively well.

Then my brother called me up, apparently half of his band (who were at university) wouldn’t be at the wedding, because they had to me in Amsterdam as part of their course, well, this spanner was more than an inconvenience, his Sax player, and drummer were both going to be out, that’s OK, he has a backup drummer, but no, he’s also going to be in Amsterdam! Thinking on his feet, he called up our father, who is also a drummer, explained the situation, and we now have a drummer for the evening, only, he knows none of the songs. This changed a lot of things, and some of the songs I had been learning were going to be dropped.

Along side this, I had never played with the band, there wasn’t much point in the early days. but with just over a month to go, I still hadn’t! I arranged to go down to the Isle of Wight for a weekend, spend some time with Da Band, and see how it goes, well, it went OK, and we agreed on 2 songs, one I had practised since day one, and another I had never played, we have 3 weeks until the wedding at this point. Most of the band were out in other places, not that that really made a difference, given that they weren’t going to be at the gig anyway, so it was just Oly on guitar, Bob on the trumpet and myself on the trombone. we spent the best part of a day just going through the one song I had never played and by the end of the day it was going OK.

So, 3 weeks to the wedding, 2 songs to learn as best I can, I decided I would now practice every night at home, and if the neighbours complain I’ll tell them why I’m doing it and hopefully they’ll go away. I made sure I stopped playing by 7:30PM, I knew one of my neighbours had a young child, I didn’t want to be responsible for waking him up!

Now at the wedding, my mother had absolutely no idea that I would be playing with The Ohmz, she did, however, know that my father would be on the drums, this one had to be told, really.

After the second song, my brother announced that I should come up and join them, they have a trombone and at some point I played it, we made some jokes about me not playing since I was 9, but hey I’ve had a couple of beers, let’s give it a shot.

shocked_mum

As you can see, My mother was pretty shocked at this fact, and then we played after a few more jokes about me not being able to play, a few bum notes just to play to the jokes, why not. After this song, I left the stage explaining that’s all I knew, I let the band do their thing for the evening until the encore, when everyone shouted for more, as is only polite, Oly said he’d only play one more if I joined them. Again we made jokes about me only knowing the one song, and eventually got up and played the encore.

Had I played the songs with the band prior to actually getting up on stage and doing so, it could have been a lot better, if I had also been learning for more than 6 months, it could have been better. That said, it could have been a LOT worse!

Here’s a clip from the encore, I was nervous as hell, even after the beer (that probably didn’t help, either).

Heat waves and computers

I am one of these people that really enjoys the weather of +30 degrees that we’ve been having recently, however today I’m not enjoying it so much. Though it’s not been a great day in terms of organisation on my part, anyway.

So first off, I got up late, by around 45 Minutes, although this didn’t make me late for work, I didn’t arrive when I would normally do so to check everything is running OK before anyone else arrives. When I did arrive, as I walked past the server room I noticed the system fans were unusually loud. I open the door and get hit by around 45 degrees of heat that had been stuffed in there over night, great, this is going to be a wonderful day. Yes we have AirCon, Yes it had died in the night, No I didn’t monitor the temperature (and have no way of monitoring the aircon). I did however, get some odd SMS messages about services flapping this morning, which at the time I just passed off as one of those oddities, that is, until I got to the office.

First things first, get as many of the servers shutdown as we can without stopping everyone from working (this actually turned out to be all of them other than the VOIP Server and switches). With fans all around the server room high up blowing air out of the room and low down pulling air in, windows and doors open around the office it started to cool a little. Unfortunately the aircon maintenance company are busy fixing other peoples aircon units, and don’t know if they’ll get out today or tomorrow, so I need to think what to do with all these servers, I can’t run them in this heat.

Temporary Server stack

Temporary Server stack

Well, There we go, the office boardroom to the rescue, with 2 aircon units in here I stacked the servers up – there’s old Ethernet cables between each server to allow air between them. This is our mail server, and 3 virtual servers, plus our monitoring server (the tower). 2 switches one for internal, one for external, and we’re running again. our file storage is still in the server room and the temperature is at about 31C now and still cooling.

First of all I’m glad I didn’t have to move all the servers, that would have been a huge pain. I am however, glad that we always keep a cold-swap switch in the office, this saved me a lot of time and annoyance. You’ll also notice an Arduino near the keyboard, This has a temperature sensor on it and is wired into the monitoring server and will SMS me if the temperature gets too high. There’s also one of these in the server room, now.

Lesson for today – Monitor your server room temperature, Seriousely!

According to the PDU graphs, the AMPS climbed rapidly from around 8:30PM last night, So I would guess this is when the fans in the systems decided it’s too hot so started turning up more and more.

Here’s a nice graph to show how the temperature has dropped since I put the temperature monitoring in the server room, note the start of this graph is 5 hours after we had been cooling the room with fans, doors & windows. The limiting factor for the server room is 1 door and no windows…

Temp GraphKeep cool people, don’t let the heat get to you, or your devices!

 

PC Doctor Dave

So, My girlfriend and myself are in the process of moving in together, which is great. My girlfriend runs her own business which does Graphic design, Web design, Web development and App development (Mostly iOS). As she has recently moved from the Isle of Wight, we wanted to get her business listed around the local areas to Pewsey to promote that she is there. The local website is run by a company that repair computers and “do web sites” (shiver). This is not a good thing if you’re in a similar business around Pewsey.

Gemma tries to fill out the form on the site for the listings and this fails, oh dear… next up she tries emailing the address on the website, and that bounces.. hm. O.K. email the maintainer of the site(PC Doctor Dave), the email goes through, Excellent! or so we thought until about 3 hours later when he responded…  Gemma was told that she could not be listed on the site, because she is in direct competition with him…. oh dear, well that’s not good.

By the time I got home from work, Gemma was not in a great mood with this, so I pointed out that there is law against that, the Competition Act 1998, Now, we didn’t want to put Gemmas business in jeopardy, so I come to the rescue. Today I sent an email for listings for Hosting, Web development, Network installation and PC Repair, This is even more in competition with what he does, as I also repair PCs. Fast forward a couple of hours and I get a response, telling me No, I’m not listing you because you’re in competition with me… Great, so not just a grudge against a single person, just anyone that might be a threat to his business. I have responded to PC Doctor Dave pointing him to the 3 sections of the Competition Act 1998 that I could be bothered to find that he is in breach of, there’s probably more of them, but I think 3 will do as a first pass.

I am currently awaiting response from PC Doctor Dave, I have given him until close of business tomorrow to respond before I forward the email to the Office of fair trading and to our local MP in Pewsey. We’ll see which option he chooses.

Website Blocking (copyright infringement)

This is a subject that boils my blood everytime it comes up. Why do they not get it.

Thank you to Ofcom who have actually stated: ‘ It’s not about technology, technology can always be circumvented. It’s about incentives, we put the technologist back in the box and started to look at why people do it. It’s about how you change the incentive structure, It’s not a technological thing.’ Absolutely spot on.

Now, I have in the past downloaded movies, music & TV Shows, and I will continue to do this out of ease. Let me put it this way. for me to download a film legally, I have a couple of options, in which I can watch the film only once (or a set number of times) – let’s not get started on the fact that most of them that do this don’t even work on my operating system of choice [Linux]. This is also expensive, costing about 50% of actually buying a DVD or Bluray, so, why not do that, and watch as many times as I want? well, I don’t want to goto the shop, I have fast Internet, I can download a bluray in fairly short time (faster than going to the shop, buying it and coming home). Now, let’s look at P2P or even other methods that might not be legal. there’s a single page where I can go to find the movies, the music and the TV Shows, which is a huge benefit, now this could be split into 3 different pages / sites / whatever. sticking with Movies, we have a page for those, I can see very easily which ones are popular (how many people downloaded it), which ones are new (generally they’re dated) and I probably already have an idea as to what I want to watch. One click and I’m done an hour or 2 later, I can watch the film. in some instances, I can watch the film while it’s being downloaded too, just to make life even easier.

The quote from an audience member from Warner argued; just because it’s hard to enforce the law didn’t mean you shouldn’t try to enforce it.

Well, they can arrest me, they can take me to court, they can sue me, but let me say one thing before they try, I buy a LOT of movies, should they try this, then what incentive do I have to ever hand my money to them ever again? I used to download a LOT of music, and equally I purchased a LOT of music, too. since I stopped downloading it, I don’t buy it either. my collection has just stopped some years ago and hasn’t been updated since. so, they’re not getting any money of me anymore, but it’s ok, because I’m not downloading any, either.

I’m not saying that it was right to download the music, but me downloading 5 tracks for every 30 I purchased is surely better than purchasing none, right? and now with movies the same is happening.

Warner, Sony and all you other movie producers, are you listening? I will HAPPILY pay money every month to LEGALLY download your movies. without protection on them so I can only watch them a set number of times. I download movies because it’s convenient, it’s on my system ready to watch on my TV, I don’t have to go buy a disk, I don’t have to wait days for a disk to arrive from purchasing online. Instead of trying to STOP people from downloading movies, why not LET them download movies from your own sources, this means the person downloading knows the movie is what it says, it also means YOU make more money (that’s what it’s all about, right) make it easy, make it convenient people will do it. piss people off, we’ll take our money else where. it’s not the downloaders that are losing you money it’s your own head-up-your-own-arse way of thinking. stop doing it, there is money to be made, open your eyes and you’ll see it.

End of rant – work to be done!

Changing Banks

Well, I’ll be changing banks in the next couple of weeks, and maybe this is a good thing.

Let me explain what the final straw was. A friend & I were in town, I needed to go and change my address to my new address, so I handed my friend my card, and told him the address. he went into the bank, and came out 5 minutes later with the address changed.

OK, So it didn’t quite happen like that, I went into the bank, and I changed it, however, anyone could have done it, to any address. I handed over my card, I told the clerk I wanted to change my address, told them what the address is, and that was it. They did not ask me to confirm my old address, they did not ask me to enter the PIN for my card on the machine, they didn’t ask for me to confirm my name, D.O.B. they didn’t ask for any proof of the new address at all, No driving license or passport. So they did not confirm in any way what-so-ever that I was in-fact the legal holder of said card.

On their web-site under changing address, there’s a form which you fill in, and take to your branch – well, I didn’t do this, apparently that would be too much effort, and as I just proved, you don’t need it, anyway. here’s what the site says: “Please don’t forget to sign the form as we can’t carry out your request without a signature.  We use the signature to verify your identity against signatures we hold for you. Please take along one government issued document and one additional supporting document to confirm your details.  Please refer to the personal information and your identity leaflet for details of which documents are acceptable.”

None of this was followed at all in the local branch, I’m absolutely amazed that I managed to change my details, without any form of ID, and nothing with the new or old address’s on. If anyone can suggest a bank to use, at this point my ears are open. – This bank was the Halifax, by the way – at top of town in Basingstoke, Opposite the Sony Centre.

Slacking off

Well, I know I’ve been slacking again, here’s the thing, summer is approaching, we’ve had really nice weather I have new hobbies and also a girlfriend, all of these things keep me rather busy.

So, firstly work, that’s definitely been keeping me busy, but all is well there, and I don’t think there is much I would change about it. well, other than buying more toys, that’s always fun!

As for the new hobby, I have taken up ice skating, no not the namby-pamby dancing, more freestyle, it’s good exercise, this incidentally is where I met the girl I am now seeing.

I still fly most weekends, I have bought myself a blitz avro, this is the roles royce of helicopters. I’m scared to throw it around too much, but it really is a dream to fly. It’s smooth, accurate and does exactly what I tell it to. I’m also throwing my raptor around a lot more, to the extent that parts are wearing out quickly, and I caught the ground while doing tick-tocks, oh well, that was only around £40 and was incredibly fun.

Oh yeah, I also bought a new phone, I bought a HTC desire HD. Running cyanogenmod, and really like it. This also means I can update my blog while the girlfriend is trying on clothes while out shopping (yes that really is what I’m doing). I think it also makes phone-calls, but really, who does that these days?

Anyway, I will try and update my blogs more often, I’ve been meaning to for a while, but laziness is bliss (as is ignorance).

Apologies for any odd random words, I’m doing this on my phone between telling the girlfriend she looks good.  :)

A Great Day Flying

Today was a very good day, though the weather was somewhat cold, it was probably the most fun I’ve had at the airfield in a while (probably since the summer vanished). First of all, the Road on the way was… well… Interesting…

dscf1378

getting up the slope wasn’t hard, we were in Chris’s 4×4, it didn’t even think about it… Then the airfield was somewhat snowy too, having got all my stuff out of the car, it was just a sea of white with some stuff in the middle…

DSCF1379

Still, we got the BBQ running, and off for a flight, my first flight was OK, but my landing wasn’t. after getting one skid on the bit we had compacted, and the other skid on the bit we hadn’t, it decided to sink into the ground at an interesting angle. I didn’t take off from here…

DSCF1389

My second to last flight of the day, was the first time I had flown with other aircraft in the air (I don’t yet have my A-Cert), The other helicopter was close at times, but he had to be, as this is why…

That’s right, the other helicopter was filming me hovering, despite hovering being frowned upon on the main strip, there was only us two flying, so that’s ok, and I wasn’t going to start throwing it around the air and expecting Scott to keep up with the camera (and I don’t have the confidence to, of course).

and my final flight of the day before my fingers fell off due to the cold, was short, mostly because I couldn’t quite see how much fuel I had left, I didn’t know how much battery I had left, and on top of all that, I was getting somewhat cold. However, it was also filmed (Thanks again Scott).

On the plus side, I was dressed for the weather, which is more than I could say about some people in this weather.

It's a bit cold...

After that, I decided to pack up, but before I headed of, I did have to film Chris try and do some touch-and-go’s with his FunJet. of which, it didn’t quite end how he wish, but it did give us alot of enjoyment. Here’s the footage of thos, I hope it makes you laugh as much as it did us.

First, some successful touch & go’s;

(I know it says Part 3, but actually it was first)

Then, what happened next….

and the results of it…

It has to be said, I do enjoy weekends like this, I hope yours was just as entertaining.

Problem after problem…

So far, I have not crashed my Nitro Helicopter, The Nexus, due to anything I have done. Which is good. However, there has been problem after problem with it, I’ve had the switch malfunction for the radio electrics, I’ve had the tail rotor pitch rod snap, I’ve had the servo on my elevator malfunction, I’ve had an engine problem that resulted in getting through 4 glow plugs in 2 weeks, and today I had the data cable to my Pitch servo break in flight.

Fortunately, today’s incident I had done 2 figure 8′s, an I had just come in to a hover over the ‘heli-pad’ (this is a clear ‘H’ in all the snow that I had created with the shovel) I was about to land when the wire broke, and fortunately, because the servo still had power, it went into fail-safe (moves the servo into 0 position) and it thumped to the ground. I was only a foot off the ground at the time so no further damage was caused.

Here’s a picture of the broken wire
servo wire

I guess it’s good that all the “crashes” have been due to faults, but it does take a kick out of your confidence when things like this happen. Still. It’s all fixed (replaced the servo) and ready to go again, but as there’s just over an hour of daylight remaining, I’ll just leave it until tomorrow. Hopefully these problems will become less and less, I’ve had some nice flights with this one recently, and hope I get many more in before it’s killed off.

A bit of weather

I think it’s safe to say there has recently been a bit of weather, but why does the country grind to a halt! I spent 40 minutes this evening watching a neighbour trying to get his car out, I did not go and help, because I have no time for lack of common sense. You have a rear wheel drive BMW, you haven’t attempted to shovel any snow atall and it’s higher than the underside of your car, go figure. I spent 15 minutes shovelling the drive-way this morning, and about 3 seconds getting the car out. I still made it to work.

However, Thanks to all the people that took the advice to not venture out in the weather, you all left the roads clear for me. My shovel was used for my car once, and that was in the foot of snow at the office. other than that it was used for other people (they were all in the same carpark, and one of them was in a 4×4).

I also spent an hour this evening clearing part of the road, the part infront of my house. if everyone did this, the entire road would be clear very quickly, stop waiting for the council to clear it up, pick up a shovel and do something about it!

well, rant over. now, go enjoy the snow, and if you can’t get to the office – and do shovel snow and then feel the need to sit down, have a look here: http://revk.www.me.uk/2010/01/what-cant-get-to-office.html

Jason

Happy new year!

Well, I just thought I’d wish anyone that reads this a happy new year. Another year is over, and we have only 2 years until the end of the world if you believe the media, so lets make the most of it, it’s time to let your hair down and do everything you promised yourself you would do last year.

2009 has definitely been a bumpy one with a falling out with a very good friend at the beginning of the year it really did get off to a bad start, we are  however talking again, this took alot of work, but I completely understand why we fell out (and it really was mostly my fault), now we are speaking again, I would do anything in the world to keep it up.

I hope you all fun and joys in the next year, you never know, maybe, just maybe, this will be the year for me to celebrate Christmas…. I do have most of the year to decide if I’m celebrating it, though. :-)

J