Thanks, Lara!

I just finished Tomb Raider I. Yay me.

There was just one room I lacked the dexterity to get through, and had to cheat by downloading one of Stella’s savegames.

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New house update II

The electrician started work yesterday, and has taken up floorcoverings and started putting in sockets and replacing light fittings. I called around on my way home to have a quick look at what’s been done, and saw some of his discoveries in our house.

Concrete floorFirstly this concrete floor. We’d already seen this when we took up the carpet in the lounge. The first foot or so seemed a random floorboards and concrete mix. Why was there both? When we lifted more of the carpet it was obvious. The concrete shape is the original footprint of two fireplaces that were removed when the lounge/diner was knocked through. The house was completely remodelled inside. It was originally a front lounge, a kitchen/diner along the rear of the house side-to-side. The kitchen had a separate pantry, outside WC and a coal store under the stairs. The remodelling knocked the lounge and diner through, built a wall between the diner and kitchen, put the pantry and coal-store into the kitchen, and made an indoor loo, taking all the plumbing out of the outside WC and turning it into a cupboard. We just have to hope the chimneys and fireplaces upstairs are properly underpinned.

Space under floorThis is taken through the small hole you can see in the previous photo. There is about five feet of empty space under the floor, which explains why the floor feels so cold underfoot, and redoubles the need for underlay when we do get the carpetting done. There’s rather a lot of space under there.

Drawing under floorThe electrician has had to lift the laminate in the dining room. The floorcovering sits on lining paper, which had been illustrated by whoever put the floor down. A cartoon face and a tree with a fence and a gate.

Drawing under floor

Fireplace with tilesUpstairs now to the room that will be my office. Obviously, we knew about the upstairs fireplaces but wondered how you could use them, when the carpeting goes right under the grate? Lifting the carpet has revealed these original tiles, flush with the floorboards.

The house is definitely cold. I left an electronic max/min thermometer there 48 hours ago. When I turned up this evening, the heating was on full blast and had been for several hours, due to a mistake setting its clock. Thermometer read 16 deg C in the lounge, the warmest the house has been for the last 48 hours. Coldest temperature was 10. I already have an appointment with an insulation specialist. We’re going to need a heating inspecting too, I think.

Cold, cold!

Everyone’s blogging about how cold they feel. Me too. Damn that North Atlantic Oscillation.

I never used to feel the cold much — never wore jumpers, and slept with the windows open year round. I definitely need to stock up and get jumpers in my wardrobe for this winter.

Leaving the office this evening at just gone 10.30pm and my car was already completely frosted up. I’ve never had to scrape the ice off before. Last year was mild.

More amazing google

We were pleasantly surprised the other week when we found that googling a film title gave you easy to read information on when it was showing nearby.

Now we find Google can tell you all that, and a whole lot more, by text message too. See http://www.google.co.uk/sms for more information. Now you don’t have to text me when you’re stuck in a pub quiz, you can go straight to the horse’s mouth.

I tested it with the last q to arrive by text for those purposes, and it doesn’t appear that Google SMS knows who the transvestite in the Rocky Horror Show is after all. Maybe you’ll still have to text me.

Stumbled across the information about the SMS service whilst trying to find out if I could do something else easily / cheaply. I have now, thanks to eBay, got a sat nav GPS system for my mobile phone (Navicore). It has the capability of being a beacon, in a limited way — you can configure it to send a text message containing your co-ordinates at an interval you specify. It doesn’t appear to be able to send e-mails with the same information, which would be much more useful.

I was wondering if I could find something simple (hah!) that could receive text messages then plot where you’ve been on a map. Maybe even in real time over the internet. Then people wouldn’t have to text me to know where I was and what time I’d make it into the office. They’d know I was “stuck in traffic on the M1” (and not, in any way, still in bed).

Google Earth Plus seems to be able to take in GPS data, like a list of waypoints. I’m just not sure how I can get the text messages onto a computer without spending huge sums of money doing it.

This looks like it might be halfway there. I’m not sure my coding is up to it, and what’s Zope?

In the normal run of things, I don’t do a huge amount of travelling. There’s a finite amount of places I could be. It would have been far more interesting to have plotted my movements around France earlier in the year, for example.

Environmental meme tagging

Although I said recently I didn’t believe in tagging people with memes, I’m taking that back in aid of a good cause. And the chance to start my own meme.

Earlier, I gave a list of things on my desk that are plugged in. And earlier in the week, I was looking at signing up with a green electricity supplier that just happens to have an affinity programme with the Lib Dems.

Good-Energy mention on their website that mobile phone chargers that are left plugged in are using electricity even when you’re not charging your phone. We’ve all known for some time that it’s better to unplug your telly overnight than leave it on stand-by for the same reason: appliances using power they don’t need to. Saving power is saving yourself money in leccy bills and prevents some unneccessary carbon dioxide from being released.

So here’s my meme: what’s plugged in on your desk? What doesn’t need to be on all the time? Blog your answers, and then tell me you’re now switching things off if you weren’t before.

What’s on my desk:

13 things that need plugging in on my desk

  1. PC
  2. Monitor
  3. Old PC which still has some files on it I use occasionally
  4. KVM
  5. Laptop
  6. Modem
  7. Router
  8. Lamp
  9. Speakers
  10. Scanner
  11. Printer
  12. Answerphone
  13. Mobile charger

And splitting that up into what does need to be on all the time:

  1. PC (at least when I’ve left it busy downloading)
  2. Modem
  3. Router (for the other computers in the house and the downloading)
  4. Answerphone

and what can safely be turned off when I’m not actively at my desk:

  1. Monitor — can be off even if PC still on
  2. Old PC — only needs to be on when I’m actually using it
  3. KVM
  4. Laptop — doesn’t need to be permanently on charge
  5. Lamp
  6. Speakers
  7. Scanner
  8. Printer
  9. Mobile charger

I’m going to achieve this by switching the second list appliances to a separate, switchable plug-board. And I’m going to turn that off at night.

So, what are you going to do, Rob, Mike, Leigh & Kathryn (different blogs, same desk, I think), Stephen, Alan, John , Neil, St E, Nomad, Radders, Matt?

Oh, and this is a meme! Make your friends do it too!

How did you find me?

I’ve now been using MyBlogLog for barely a day and I’m already puzzled at how and why people come here.

In particular, it looks like some people have asked questions of Google, and come to me looking for answers, which they won’t have found. This feels frustrating. People have come to me in their hour of need and left empty handed. As a public service, here are the answers they should have had:

  • “What to do with jam-jars”
  • Easy answer to that one. Sterlise them with boiling water, or in a dishwasher. Put them in the oven GasMark 1 whilst making jam. Then, er, fill them with jam.

  • “No pressure in my homebrew”
  • Oh dear. I guess that means one of two things: either your pressure barrel isn’t airtight (did you remember to grease the seal?) or your homebrew isn’t fermenting. Which means it’s not, strictly speaking, homebrew.

    This reminds me that half of the barrel of beer I made nearly a year ago is still sitting undrunk and probably undrinkable in the cellar. And there’s no cellar in the new house. Can I make beer in the shed? Where will the wine go?

  • “long time no mail”
  • Oh dear. One of those dilemmas. Is there a technical problem or do your friends suddenly now hate you? Here’s some things you could try: Phone your friends and check for frostiness on the line. Check your e-mail using a different mail program (eg PopTray or SMB) or the website www.mailreader.com to see if your account at your ISP looks the same as it does in your regular program. Check your ISP’s service log to see if there was an outage on your mail server. If you run your own domain, have you done something stupid to your MX table?

  • “civilization iii serial three hour”
  • Actually mate, you’re probably better off not finding that serial number. Just think how much of your time Civ will waste when you do actually get it running.

    Can’t leave without mentioning:

  • The aforementioned “barrister strike blog”
  • Although we were talking about this in the pub last night, there’s nothing here specifically about that. Yes, it’s a blog. Yes, I mention the word strike occasionally. But the only previous mention of barrister before I got intrigued about my google hits was talking about the Lib Dem candidate in the Hartlepool by-election. And this despite having a good friend and former housemate who is one.