Monday, 29 December 2008


No really..
I sneezed this morning, and as I did so I felt a popping on my left side below my ribs and the next thing I knew I was writhing around on the floor in agony. Must have pulled a muscle or something when I sneezed. Still very painful when I cough or sneeze, both of which are happening rather too much for fun.

Dammit...I'm ill I tell ya......nurse???




Sunday, 28 December 2008

chills, colds and no sun

We got home last night to chilly Bradford, I now have Bina's cold..thanks, and when we got back to her place it seems her niece had kindly been round and switched everything off.
Including the the place was bloody freezing, 12 hours later with the heating on all night its still chilly.

But even better, she switched off the Sky box at the all those nice Chrimbo progs we were going to watch when we got home....none recorded.

ah well at least most of them are on BBC Iplayer but Bina's mad about losing her Christmas eps of her soaps.. :D

Right off to the chemist for some proper cold meds then get some work done this week. Having no school to deal with will give me time to catch up on my DS project which I've been making some notes on during my break, want to try to get well ahead during this break. I only have a week's teaching to do when I get back then another 3 weeks to make a serious dent in the code.

Thats if this cold don't kill me first....hmm might be flu, I am a man after all and y'know how poorly we can be when we get sick.



Wednesday, 24 December 2008

chills, colds and sunburn

Hello from the sometimes sunny Canary Isles and the hotels extortionalty expensive internet kiosk so I have to make this short.
Bina has had a stinking cold for the 1st couple of days but she's starting to feel better now. The weather has been a chilly 18-22degress :D yeah I know, but becuase she feels so crap the slightest breeze has her reaching for a jumper.

But generally we've managed to find some sun in various places and as Bina is getting over her cold we're going futher afield and having a great time.

Typical pasty scot that I am, I turned bright pink at the 1st sight of a large round yellow hot thing in the sky and have repeated the process several times now resulting in a nice red shade which I am told will eitehr turn a nice shade of brown or a result in a nasty flaky effect..we'll see.

Hope you are all enjoying yur traditional chilly christmas's

I must go now, theres a sangria with my name on it.



Thursday, 18 December 2008

Another one down

Yup, yesterday(today) was my birthday, and I spent it largely by myself, but before you all go ahhh I do generally prefer it that an inveterate teen who refuses to grow up the passing of years gets harder every year. And I don't always react to it well. Its now got to the stage where saying I'm 39 is starting to stretch reasonable credibility, so I might have to go up a year.......or 2.

But on the plus side I've been helping to introduce Poker to my work colleges and organizing a pool of people who meet up at various homes and play friendly 5 euro games till chucking out time.

Last week we played at Dr Ken's place, which was good fun, Dino my collegue at IGAD won a fairly large amount of coinage from the good Doctor's change jar, on that occasion. Tonight though on my birthday we played at the bosses house, Frank, who supplied extra nibbles and beer.

I am glad to say I won and took home some folding money. Frank came 2nd, and Dino 3rd. Sadly Rob who was playing well and amassing a decent pot had to leave early and his chips were sacrificed to the bank. But I think we've managed to make several converts to the great game of Texas Hold em.

All in all a good birthday..But time for bed before my last classes of the year.

I will be heading over to the Uk on Friday for a night before going to the Canaries for a week, so probably won't be on here till after new year I'm planning a computer free week ;)

So for you few, you happy few, who dip in here from time to time, firstly , thank you for you patronage and comments. Secondly, may I wish you a Merry Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous new year.

have fun.


Monday, 15 December 2008

Free at last, Free at Last

Passport arrived eventually, and now that its sorted I have been able to book a week away in the Canaries over Christmas, with Bina, who I hope will enjoy a week on the company of yours truly.


House Arrest

Well it feels like it on 2 fronts

TNT tried to deliver my Passport on Thursday, but I was at the office so tried to re-arrange a re-delivery.
Unfortunately the tracking slip the driver left was unreadable, and looked like a 10 digit number instead of the 9 digits needed by the service centre to arrange for delivery.

I have the say the customer service desk were incredibly helpful, trying out multiple combinations of numbers before admitting defeat, then asked me to scan it in and send to them. Which of course I did, and the lady said she's re-arrange it for Friday once she got the scan.

So all day Friday, I'm in and waiting...nothing. Stuck there till 6 pm waiting for a package.

So again I call up the TNT hotline this time to get another even more helpful lady who also tries the various numbers approach before asking me to forward the scan to her....Which I did, and she asked me to hang on while she got it.

And here is the problem

I've obscured some of the numbers but to me that looks like 5 7 (or 3) squiggle....
and that squiggle was the problem I could not tell if that was 01 or 07 or what.

Anyway, thanks to Netty at TNT who got the scan within seconds of it being sent while I hung on the phone she recognized it as an 8...yes folks thats an 8. It seems in some parts of Holland they write the 8 I never knew that...and I still find it a little hard to accept, but at last problem solved.

So now its Monday and I'm sat in waiting for my passport to arrive. At least I am hoping its my passport and not a letter asking for further info/photos or something...that would be a real pain.

On the other front, I'm ill, wasn't able to get to sleep till 6am last night trotting to the loo most of the night...So stuck in, feeling crap and dog tired.

Nice start to the week...Still, 2 weeks Holidays starting next week :)


Friday, 12 December 2008


Thats my student fail rate in 1st year basic C++ programming, I was hoping for lower but a couple of silly "lack of attention" fails put the rate up. Its not bad at all, better than last year apparently but I really wanted to get below 20%.

Still I'm quite sure most of those who failed will pass the re-take and go on to handle the rest of the year with ease.

I'm very very proud of my students (I don't think they read this :) but I'm sure they know), some of them were absolute beginners when they came to NHTV and have developed into really promising game programmers. A few in particular are going to be superstars if they don't get too big headed along the way ;)

I get the same bunch again later in the year for some more advanced programming and I hope to continue to see them improve and develop as they have done.

There's something quite magical about watching people you teach suddenly develop their own thinking processes and start to understand what they are doing. I call it a lightbulb moment, I'm quite convinced that once you get to that moment, your job is pretty much done and programming is very easy indeed and my role is just to push them to developing their thought processes and expose them to new ideas.

Of course getting to that lightbulb moment can take a while, and often they start out as 5w Bulbs, but it doesn't take long once that switch has flicked to see a full 100W shining away.

You can't buy the sense of achievement you get when you have a class of 100W bulbs sitting in front of you all starting to believe they know more than you.
Then watch them lap up everything you throw at them as you desperately try to prove you still know a tiny bit more than them.

I love this job.


Sunday, 7 December 2008

Warning Scottish people look away, Tablet on display

I was trying to explain to one of my colleagues the other day what Tablet was and realized there's really just no way I can do that, its neither toffee nor fudge but something in between thats much sweeter than either. Its made by boiling loads of sugar with sugar enriched condensed milk and butter (unsugared)..hmm healthy. Afer boiling for 30mins or so, you take it of the heat, allow to cool then stir really hard for a minute or two so that it starts to form sugar crystals while still being liquid then you pour the setting mixture into a flat buttered (hmmm) tin before it sets in your pan. Then leave to cool and go hard.

At its best it should be hard enough to bite and crunch, but as soon as it hits the wetness of your mouth it dissolves into a sweet grainy mush that is guaranteed to give you tooth decay and put on 50lbs with one mouthful.

Its a very Scottish sweet that I've only occasionally seen outside of Sconny Botland and its also unusual because home made tablet is always preferred over the few commercial brands that you can find. You'll find it at galadays, and fairs and almost certainly your local shop will have an auld biddy that supplies them with a steady supply. This was crack for kids before we had drugs.

So as everyone is bringing sweets and biscuits to work, as part of the run up to Christmas (I think) I decided I'd take some tablet to work so they can try it for themselves. If you're Scottish...don't look, close the site now. You may find the urge to go make some for yourself too overwhelming.

I just hope I can stop nibbling it before I go to the office.

hmm one more won't hurt.


Warning Warning, a coding post

if (!coding && (weekend == true))
{ // better do some laundry

if (washer == empty)
if (ClothesInWasherBasket>0)
Printf("Bloody hell, didn't expect that)
Printf("Better have a look around just in case though!");


{ // washer must be full so...
Laundry = wet;

if (Laundry == dry) DotheIroningDude();



if ((rand(100) >=60) && DoWeHaveTime == true) MaybePlayAGame(OptionalDrinkLotsofBooze);

Anyway, quiet couple of days, been busy working away on my DS game engine, which need some extra physics added to it to improve its collision detection systems. I still haven't managed to get to Ikea but I promise I will soon, but a couple of good nights sleep have left me refreshed and felling a lot better so am cracking on with everything as fast as I can.

Working with Dino on a project and he has asked for these improvements which gives me an excuse to dive into code I wrote over a year ago and optimize and enhance it.


Thursday, 4 December 2008

its what time

right thats it for sure, after work I'm off to Ikea to get me some curtains. I went to bed at 11pm last night having had a coule of late nights doing some bug hunting. I finally found the bug yesterday, and was dog tired, so went to bed really quite knackereed and looking froward to a solid 8 hours.

So why the hell did I wake up at 3-30am and haven't been able to get back to sleep...arghhhh its the new street light it has to be.

might as well do a couple of hours work and see if I can get back to sleep after.


Wednesday, 3 December 2008


Am not going to get a motorbike.

Mum will be pleased at least....

As much as I want one, I just cant justify the cost of it against the benefit, I won't use it to get to work as its a short cycle distance, which I enjoy. And I can't honestly see it being practicle to ride down to Calais, pay for a chunnel spot then head up to bradford at the weekends.

Considering the overall cost of the bike, insurance, taxes, fuel, chunnel tickets etc. I might as well just get train and plane home a couple of times a month and I'll still be better off over the year.

bahh..We wants it we does...but we can'ts have it.


Monday, 1 December 2008

December already

So this is it, the mad run up to Christmas....where the hell did that year go? Has the Alzheimer's kicked in? Am I perhaps in that stage of my life where years become months, months become weeks and weeks become....what was I talking about?

Anyway..They have a big thing here on the 5th Sinta Klass Night(from which we get Santa Claus), but I don't really know what the protocol is for it. Is it a present day or just drinks and parties?

Certainly there's a lot of blacking up and spanking people under the guise of being Black Pete, Sinta's sidekick who punishes the naughty kids.

The PC brigade who banned gollies would be apoplectic over this strange custom here. Black face paint and gollie sales go through the roof this time of year in the indeed I would imagine do lawyers fees for sexual harassment, especially bottom spanking type litigation.

Anyway, its been a fun year so far, despite a bad start its picked up and gone from strength to strength. I'm really looking forward to my Christmas break in the UK though and a chance to start making those trips more regular.

But mustn't slacken up, still got a couple of weeks of work to get through.


Saturday, 29 November 2008

Poker weekend

I mentioned my poker friends before I think though not by name, Peter and Liz are the hosts, Peter a big loud very funny Dutchman, who loves to play poker and Liz his very funny wife, who is American. And being American and this being November, she held a slightly late thanksgiving dinner last night and invited half of Breda, including me, to the meal which was really nice and I have to thank her for the invite, which led to meeting a lot of fun new people.

Oh and a belated happy thanksgiving to any Americans reading I raised several glasses to the colonies on Thursday night when I was out on the town with Dino and Steve (also american).

As an aside to this, it seems that Turkey is not at all a common food here and the 2 turkeys that were served cost over €140....bloody hell.

But of course Poker was the dessert of the evening and the usual crew of, Peter, Liz, Berry, Dennis, Ronald and myself stayed on after the party to play a €50 game. which was easily one of the best games we've played so far, with the stack leads going all over the place as no one was really able to dominate and there were an incredible number of split pots, with me getting 2 in a row. Probability is a funny thing.

Anyway eventually Liz and Ronald were knocked out and by 3.30am the 4 remaining players were starting to wane a little, on roughly even stacks for the other three, but me running short stack for a quite while after an unexplainable rush of blood had me betting big against Berry and losing heavy. So things started to get a little reckless. But I managed to pull a big bet out of Dennis who didn't see an Ace flush coming and by the time we called it a night I was 3rd and finished on a profit of €38. Always good to walk away from a game with profit in your trousers.

Hopefully also I'll have tarnished that shark image a little as Peter and Berry took the bulk of the cash this time so I won't be quite the bogey man next game.

Strangely enough I'm off to play poker again tonight, this time at the Holland Casino, with Dino, who is something of a shark himself, though we've not played yet. It'll be interesting. He'd said he'd not played for some time when we were out so had to get him back in the saddle.

I haven't played in a casino for an age, and don't for a second expect to come out of that with a profit, but its only a €50 buy in so last nights game will basically subsidise tonight's, should be a fun night.


Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Insomnia, Indigestion and ISomething

I wish there was another "I" word I could say that afflicts me, iterative triples always add to the dramatic effect.

Anyway, last couple of nights I've had terrible trouble getting to sleep at night, despite being very tired. I think it has something to do with a new streetlight just outside my bedroom window.
Though I have blinds up in my bedroom, they don't totally stop the light flooding in. A trip to Ikea is clearly needed to get some heavy curtains so I can go back to my blacked out room..

I'm not what you can call a morning person, I'm usually up and awake till 2-3am most nights, no matter how early I get up. But that lack of sleep does build up and I like to have 12hour or more coma's at the weekend to make up for my weekly shortfalls.

This as you can imagine causes no end of issues when you live with someone who likes to be in bed at 10pm and wants to cuddle her man (eh B?) and goes shopping at the weekend. But since I'm here on my own, I've fallen back into that short weekday sleep, long weekend sleep pattern.

All good, until you get a bout of insomnia and its 4 or 5am before you get to sleep, and have get up at 8 to go to work..I may be able to get by ok on 5 or 6 hours but not 4 or less.

So the upshot of this somewhat meandering post, is that I was shattered when I got home from work today (had a great day though), and after a brief meeting with Steve to sort out some work related tasks I decided to instigate an almost unknown event.

I went to bed early around 9pm

I even got to sleep, dropped straight off.

Then got woken by the phone at 10.

Its not Bina's fault of course she didn't know I'd gone to bed, sorry hun I should have texted or something.
After not quite getting to the phone the 1st time it rang, it rang again a minute later, and I mumbled something about being in bed and hung up.

Of course...I was now awake....nothing worse than being woken when you're not quite in that deep sleep mode is there? So for the next hour or so I'm semi asleep, semi awake and unable to settle.

Sleep eventually came..for a few hours, when the 2nd of my constant lifetime afflictions reared its head. Indigestion!

Arrghhh. its now 2-43am, I've taken some Zantac to control my almost constant reflux (the main cause my my indigestion, along with an uncontrolled love of hot spicy good) and am waiting for it to take effect.

So while I'm doing that...I'll put this...probably my most boring post ever, up on the blog.

I'm tired though, so time to head back to bed and hopefully get a nice solid 5 hours ready for tomorrow's fun and games. :D


Sunday, 23 November 2008

1st Snow's of Winter

Well not quite, actually the 2nd, it was snowing a little yesterday but stopped after an hour or so and I didn't have my phone on me to take a pic. Today though its still falling and may well stay around according to the forcast. Going to be interesting if this keeps up to be cycling to work in the mornings. Lucky I bought some gloves and a scarf to keep warm.

And with that in mind it might be the wrong time to be looking at things like this

yup...that is a genuine US built Mk1 Honda VT1100c Shadow....a MK1?? omg I am in heaven. These bikes were built in the US 25 years or so ago as Harley beaters and proved very popular with so called California weekenders. They were never available in Europe (until later marks became popular) so they were occasionally imported as used machines, usually in excellent condition due to the California weather and the fact they were not really ridden that much.
The Mk1 eventually gave way to the stunning Mk2, with a slightly bigger engine, more chrome and a longer lower look. Which I first saw on the cover of a UK bike Mag, 10-15 years ago, I can't remember which, or exactly when, but I've wanted one of them ever since. A test drive on one totally sold me, but I just didn't have the funds at the time to indulge. This to me is my ultimate bike, especially as I'm getting a bit to fat to sit astride most modern sports bikes..I'm at that, "that looks comfy" stage in my biking life.

They are simply beautiful bikes, no where near as expensive as the Harleys they superficially resemble and also far more reliable. The Mk3's and 4's are also great machines but for me personally not quite as appealing as the 1's and 2.s

They are fairly rare in the UK, where cruisers are not as popular, but you can still find them, with good examples selling for £3-4K

Hollands obsession with Harleys means that big cruisers like this are far more common than they are in the UK, and being sensible people they also imported a fair number of Shadows so there's plenty around, and the relatively high numbers mean prices are competitive. Both these bikes pictured are for sale here for under €3000. Both are sub 30K mileage examples with regular servicing and covered storage meaning they are pretty much as good as they day they were made. They costs are low becuase they're not Hogs...but I'm not going to let a bit of brand snobbery stop me from enjoying a fantastic piece of bike building.

ohhhhh I am soooo tempted. I would love to cruise down to Calais on a big beast like these get on the chunnel then cruise up to Bradford at the weekend. Not sure its the most economic of the possible methods I'm looking into but it would certainly be the most enjoyable way to go home at weekends.

But...the snow....the snow...what to do...what to do.


undeserved rep?

The Dutch have a reputation for being blunt and direct, its not entierly undeserved though I think its more of a translation issue with their grammer. You get used to to the lack of preamble when they want something from you or are not willing to do something for you. It can sound direct, even rude but its just a different way of phrasing things.

They also have a repuation for sticky fingers, If its not nailed down the dutch will have it, bags,purses, phones, anything.
If its not nailed down they'll have it....Well, that's what I've been told, I really havn't seen a lot of evidence of this myself.

Until I went to the supermarket yesterday and parked my bike outside, when I came out 10 mins later, some scrot had snaffled the new battery light I'd fitted onto the handlebars, just snapped it off the mounting and legged it. first taste of crime..I feel violated.


Saturday, 22 November 2008

I had a dream.

What is it about dreams, they clearly make no sense sometimes yet there's a whole field of psychiatry out there that specializes in dreams.
I tend only to dream (or to be more accurate, remember my dreams) when there's a lot of drink involved

So last night, I was out with Steve from work, and a lot of drink was involved. After calling it a night around 3am (love this place :) ) I went straight to bed when I got in.

9am however I woke up after having the strangest dream I can recall..not a nightmare as such though it disturbed me so much I had to get up and go have a wakeup coffee.

So..I'm out somewhere with Bina, and we get back to a hotel room, where after a kiss goodnight, she goes to a separate adjoining bedroom, and we both settle down so sleep

"zo zis part is ferry interezting"
"Why zo, I mean so?"
"Zer is some feeling of zeperation beetween you und zis Bina"
"Yes I miss her a lot"
"Ja, zo continue pleeze"

As I'm dozing off to sleep, my brother (Hi're in my dreams, how's that for being famous) walks in the door, slightly inebriated. Without missing a beat I explain that Bina's in the other bed and he'll have to share my (thankfully king size bed)

"and tell me, haff you ever had any eroteek dreamz about your bruzzer before"
" it wasn't erotic, he just needed somewhere to sleep...and why are you interrupting my story"
"Zorry please go on"

So Col and I are dropping of, and in walks a attractive if a little large black lady, whos not only large in stature but large in life, with corn rows and strange 70's style white boots and tight skirt (too tight for someone that size if you get my meaning) and lacy top

"haff you ever zeen zis voman before, ze vun vit zee vhite bootees?"
"nope, never seen her, don't recognize any part of her at all"
"But she vos vearing vhite bootees, I vil make a note yes?"
"ok, now shut up so I can get to the disturbing part"

This lady then starts to complain that she's hungry, not sure if she was talking to me or Col but she starts hunting around the room for food, finds the usual complimentary biscuits near the kettle and scoffs them while looking out the window.

ok ok now is all odd, but heres the bit that bothered me.

She then notices something outside the window..And opens it and starts to climb outside. Her platform style 70's boots being totally unsuitable to the task. At this point I'm sort of a camera above the window looking out and I realize this hotel room is high VERY high up in the air; and she's dangling on a tiny ledge trying to reach over to a balcony where a chap is sitting having his breakfast sat on his deck chair in his white dressing gown.

"and do you recognize zis man"
"nope complete stranger, like the big black woman"

She reaches over and somehow manages to snaffle part of his continental breakfast of cheese and bread and stuffs it in her mouth while at the same time having some kind of muffled conversation with the chap who's not a happy bunny but does not really seem to prevent her helping herself.

She then tries to get back into the room, but just can't quite manage to find enough purchase in her platform boots on the tiny ledge and is incapable of hauling herself into the window which has somehow gone from being a step out window to being around chest height.

Now at this point I'm starting to get quite distressed, and never having been too keen on heights when awake, I'm starting to get images of this woman slipping and falling miles and miles to the ground, so I get out of bed somehow and reach over to try to help her.
Col is in bed and complaining about trying to sleep and not happy about the commotion.

I grab hold of her just as she starts to slip and of course we then end up with the classic guy holding strange large black women with tight skirt (but magnificent boobs from this angle I have to say) while she dangles miles in the air with her mouth full of cheese and bread and mumbling something incoherent.

"vhy vos it incoherent"
"The cheese and bread, were you not listening?
"Zorry I zink I dropped off"

So I'm of course not being the hunkiest chap in the world, I'm unable to haul this fairly large lady in to the window, but somehow I am able to keep hold of her, and noticing the guy in the dressing gown is still on his balcony (which seems to be a lot further away now) I start to swing her to him with the intent of getting him to somehow catch her and he casually signals, "ok yeah send her over", while remaining seated until I've got enough of a momentum going in the swing that she'll get there.

Ok so this all sounds very comedic and strange but I was getting more and more stressed as the window frame starts to crumble from the pressure of me trying to pull this large lady in and and.

And then I woke up....heart pounding and feeling quite unsettled and unable to get that last image of the dream out of my head, so I went to get some coffee.

"so what does it mean"
"I zink it goes back to your childhood, vos your muzzer black?"
"Oh, ok zen, vos your mozzer fat?"
"How about vhite bootees, did your mozzer vear vhites bootees?"
"Did you get zee ladee vif zee bootees number?"
"No, I have no idea who she is."
"Zen I haff nozzing, and our time is up, please can you go talk to zee man vith zee nice warm coat over zer?"
"Oh the hugging coat?"
"Ja, zats the vun."

So anyway, dreams are weird. I think trying to make sense of them is like trying to...make sense of something that makes no sense and was never really designed to ever make sense, ermm I'll get me coat.


Friday, 21 November 2008

hmmm thats going to hurt later

geek post......I thought I better warn you so you can skip past and wait for the next humorous installment of my life at a later date.

The clock forward issue was annoying much more severe than I expected. I use Code Warrior for all my Nintendo DS coding (hate the thing so much but theres not a lot of choice) so having it refuse to work due to a license infringement (its a free license the hell can you infringe it???) caused by a relativity simple and harmless error is a big deal and affects my day to day working.

Why a big deal, well the only official way to resolve the "system clock has been set back" infringement to reinstall your OS. ie a complete system re-install.

Not really an option, especially at the moment as I don't have a backup system here (its still in the UK) so a bit of snooping around as I said before resulted in finding rTouch which will set the modification dates to current time.
Problem is I seemed to also have a lot of creation date (set forward) files, not all of which were easy to delete.
Anyway to cut a rather long story short, as I have work to get on with. After deleting all the new created files (pretty much all due to my installing Maya when I had the clock a month ahead) I recursively touched every file on the C: Drive. Took hours, and when it was done I had some strange behavior from the PC, fonts missing and so on, but a simple re-start cured that. phew.

And now CW is working...yeah

But every file on my C:drive has the same modification date.......hmmmm you just know thats going to be bad later. We may find out how bad in a tearful posting next month. I really need to get get my backup systems sorted out, I rarely have to use them, like most people. but you just know that when something goes wrong, it happens when you don't have a backup.

Anyway...time to boot up CW and get on with some work.


Thursday, 20 November 2008

Christmas flights booked

Jet2 have started up a loyalty card scheme where you get a point per pound spent! Once you have 600 points you get free flights to lots of destinations. Of course Jet2 being Jet2, don't actually mention that the "free" flights means just the basic font page cost, you still have to pay all the taxes and baggage charges these annoying people charge which usually is the actaul cost of the while at 1st I thought, "what a good idea", after sleeping on it, they've really offered me nothing. But its still the easiest way to get home to see the family and take care of things in the UK so I'll grin and bear it for now.

Which reminds me...When I was booking my 1.99 flight, which then became 41.99 then 54.99 etc as each successive page added taxes, fuel charges, handling charges , luggage charges etc....Didn't the UK government make some kind of promise a while back to stop this silly practice of offering 99p flights which were in fact 70quid or more once the various addons that were compulsory were added? What exactly is the problem with giving the final price on the front page? (AND why does it cost 5euros or thereabouts to handle a debit card transaction...which I understand is actually free?)

Anyway..I now have my flights home and back booked for Christmas break. Am hopfuly also going to fit in a nice weekend before the break if I can get my passport back in time.

EDIT...I have figured out the benefit, though there is no sense whatsoever in using up your carefully saved 600points on a flight where the cost is 1.99 it does mean that can make use of the points to book short notice flights which tend to be charged at considerably higher rates. So I suppose in that sense its worth it. After a few flights home I can at least get to a position where if needed I can take a short notice trick home for 50quid or so, being the cost of the taxes etc....I still think its a rip off though when they don't just give you that actual cost of travel on the site.

As an aside, here's a warning for the coding geeks out there. While booking my flight I used my windows clock/calander to work out what dates I was free, and accidently set my PC's date to the 18th of December. Not realising I'd done this I proceeded to use my PC for a while and even install a copy of Maya for the project I'm doing as well as to help with college work. It didn't install since they gave me the wrong license file, but thats not the real story.
This morning when I tried to use Code Warrior (or cod worrier if you prefer) it refused to compile since the system clock had been changed...oops...ok I'll reset it..nope still refused.
Hmm uninstall Maya...nope.
Ok re-install CW, nope.
After hunting around in the Nintendo forums, it turns out I have to reset any file which has a forward time to current time....a quick search revealed......hundreds of them, mainly system files and temp files, but enough to get Codewarriors license handler to have a hissy fit.

Dammit...its not impossible to fix, there's a program called rTouch that can sort it for me, but I have to locate, and "touch" each advance file before I can get my mai PC up and running as a Nitro dev system again.

doh!..the dangers of setting your time wrong are worse than you think sometimes


Monday, 17 November 2008


Ok, so Apple have sorted out my developer status, and I got to the website that explained how to set up my ipod as a target machine.......its a 50 page doc...50!!! there's so much absurd back and forward, getting certificates, installing certificates, dumping phone images, adding team members....I'm positively disheartened by it all, it is making my brain spin.

Also the fact that my wireless mighty mouse is damaged in some way not helping. Danni said something about, does your mouse work when she was here..and strangly the next day I tried to use it it was being a bit strange mmmmm...rather than a nice easy click every press on the mouse is clunking down hard and is strangly hard to do...oh well, I suppose I can get a new one, though this one is not that old....might be able to sell it on eby...anyone need a clunky Mac Mouse?


Sunday, 16 November 2008

ohhhhhhh you just had to spoil it didn't you APPLE!!!!

So with spanking new Ipod Touch in hand...I attempted to activate my Iphone developer program (you can use an Ipod for development too). Paid for the program, received the activation code, clicked on the activation code.
logged in and got....

We are unable to activate your iPhone Developer Program membership because we are unable to successfully verify your identity. Please contact us and reference Enrollment ID# XXXXXXXXX for further assistance.


On the plus mac mini is happy to accept the 802.11/N format of my Sitecome router so it can also get data at 12MBs......that'll be handy next time I have to do a bloody major update of the Iphone SDK!


Faster Nudity

Geek post alert!!! you have been warned.

I have a 20MB Internet connection, but unless I use the wire directly into the supplied Tele2 router the best I can normally get from my 802.11/G 54Mbs wireless dongle on my PC(rubbish Belkin btw) its around 6MB @ 45-54Mbs connection. Like most things to do with broadband, your stated rate is seldom your ACTUAL RATE.

MB stands for Mega Bytes, (a byte is 8 bits) and is different from Mbs (Mega bits) ...though they should really be analogous they are not quite . A router can pass several Mbs but the fact is error checking and dropped bits will eat up a lot of that speed so in fact the MB (actual mega bytes of data that get to your PC) are always less than the stated Mbs rate. So basically, 54Megabit /8 to get Mega Bytes should be 6.75Mega bytes per second but you're not going to get exactly that much

Anyway around 6MB is pretty good, but with the wire (which downloads at a much faster rate) I can get 18MB (...much better by a multiple of 3...I want my multiple of 3.

Confused yet? I am, bottom line is that the bigger the number the faster the nudity downloads to your PC (to quote comic book guy)

So while browsing around Media Mart looking for a docking station for my new Ipod (more on this later...when I've stopped drooling over it) I cam across a bargain. A Sitecom 300N 802.11/n router with a potential 300Mbs rate. And a wireless dongle to drive it.

All this for under €70 so I had to buy it.

Set up was painless, I plugged the wire from the Tele2 router, into the Sitecom so that it could get the raw 20Mb speed supplied to it, I still have my 54Mbs network for my mac and laptops, but now I have a new 300Mbs network for any PC's with suitable receivers (the dongle)

I removed the rubbish Belkin which I've been cursing for months due to its reluctance to connect every morning, pressed a few sign on buttons and voila..I have a connection rate of 150Mbs and a download rate according to of 13Mbs.

Simplest connection to a new router I've ever had.

Much much better.
Though....I can't help wondering why do I not have 300Mbs connection rate hmmmm.


Friday, 14 November 2008

Joy, Bliss and more Joy

I have an Ipod Touch
I suffer no more
I am in a state of bliss

I also have a bugger of a hangover, having been out on the town last night till 2am and having one or 2 small beverages in a local drinking establishment (now thankfully smoke free again).During which much philosophical bullsh.... discussion was had on a range of topics based on our personal goals and desires.

And there was also some drinking. Actually..there was more than some drinking.

Which is why my head is banging today...But I have an Ipod Touch so I don't care :)

Oh an amazing thing also happed which is why I love this place so much. While indulging in a few drinks, the bars here allow you to run a tab till you are ready to go. So having decided around 2am to call it a night I went to the bar to pay my tab using my bank card only to discover that they didn't take plastic.
Of course in the UK, not having the cash to pay for your booze would have resulted in 2 large chaps by the door being signaled over to demonstrate the error of your ways, probably in a back alley or something.
But here....the barmaid just told me where the nearest cash machine was (10 mins away) and was not in the slightest bit bothered that I might have done a runner.

It's a small thing I suppose, but just how incredibly cool and laid back is that? I love this place, it rekindles your faith in human nature and leaves you at ease with the world.


Monday, 10 November 2008

Funniest email exchange ever

I saw this on TCE today and was laughing so hard I think I burst a rib..there may have been a gaseous emission or two as might have to zoom the image a bit to read it but it's worth the effort.


Thursday, 6 November 2008

Remember remember the ...something

Hah, they don't do bonfire night here, how strange.

No overpriced unsafe fireworks, no bangers thrown in letterboxes, no unofficial bonfires too close to houses that catch fire, no fire brigade on standby, no reports of kids maimed and scarred for life by mishandling kindling or being hurt at badly organized public events. No pets terrorized for hours at a time by constant loud bangs. No rancid smell of black powder hanging in the air. No hibernating hedgehogs or tortoises roasted. No exploding bonfires because of hidden aerosol cans. No gangs roaming the streets stealing flammable materials. No blackmailers in training, asking for pennies (really meaning pounds) for the guy. No filthy dark toffee and parkin that's actually inedible but you have to eat to keep the makers happy.

Nothing...just a nice peaceful quiet evening. These Dutch people don't know what their missing.


Monday, 3 November 2008

who's that tired old bastard?

My passport has run out so I had to go get some pics taken for the renewal application which apparently I have to send to Paris??

Anyway the photo machine was clearly faulty, I think it gave me someone else's pics, though they were in fact wearing my clothes? But who on earth was that sad tired old git who's head was clearly superimposed on my Adonis like torso. I mean it can't be just can't be!

For the geeks among you I'm typing this entry on my Mac Mini, using a new mac keyboard..the thin one with the button type keys....its actually quite nice, though take a wee bit of getting used to. Sadly however I seem to have a small issue with my mighty mouse, its sticking a bit if not clicked regularly...I'm wondering if something has got stuck inside it, but there's no way to take it apart to clean..might have to get another.


last of the toys

I had to leave all but one of my guitars over in the Uk ( I have too many really but I can't resist a nice looking/sounding guitar) so decided to buy a couple from ebay to give me something to tinker with over here. I brought my Roberts Skeleton over a while back but wanted to get my hands on an electric to wake the neighbours up ;)

I must say, I am very pleased with my purchases, which arrived today, I got a 12 string electro acoustic and a telecaster copy with an amp. And despite paying less than 100 for both, they are really rather good.

Both sound fantastic, much better than their price would suggest, though the 12 string is a little hard to pick due to string spacing, it sounds lovely when playing big ringing chords.

Here's a pic, of my incredibly cheap guitars. Total cost for all three is less than £100. The Roberts is actually the most expensive one, but for various reasons I got it for free so it really is a cheap set of guitars. I have paid a few pennies for the pedals though, especially the digiman loop pedal which really is a good tool to let you play your own backing tracks. I just need a chorus pedal to complete my set up and I'll be a happy bunny.


Sunday, 2 November 2008

Another New Toy

I like bread,though I'm fairly sure its the main cause of my oft commented on flatulence (though I've not commented nearly enough on here). And even though the bread here is fantastic I fancied making my own, so here we go..ta daaaaa

It was only €35 Euro's so a fun way to try home bread doubt like most gadgets it'll end up in the bottom of a cupboard when the novelty wears off.
But there was no recipe list with it..Normally when you buy a new cooking gadget they give you at least a few basic tips on how to use it..but not this. So I had to experiment myself.

The result

It wasn't bad actually...a bit too much butter in it, but I'll not put quite so much in next time, it was crusty and fluffy and airy..exactly how I like it...will need to go buy some whole grain cereal so I can impress myself even more before the novelty wears off.


Friday, 31 October 2008

Happy Halloween

And indeed it is here, cos they don't really celebrate it. None of that nasty commercialism you see in the UK (and US of course) and none of that horrible horrible trick or treat nonsense where young thugs in training discover and master the skills of extortion that will serve them so well in their later chav years.

Nope just a normal day..a few pumpkins outside doors of course....none like this though

At least there's no silly kids going around dressing up either...Though this is so cute

thanks to TCE for the images :)

Thursday, 30 October 2008


Came home to an empty flat today, 1st time in a week.

man...that is actually physically painful.

At least I have a lot of work to do to take my mind of things, got to get ready for the new term and a new project starting up soon, so lots and lots to do.


Wednesday, 29 October 2008

I'm so roonrree

After having a full house for several days, Bina and Jodie left on the 4-50pm train........sniff

Danni and Keiran have gone to bed to get ready for their early start to catch the train to Amsterdam tomorrow, so I'm sat here on my own for the 1st time in days.



Tuesday, 28 October 2008

A Full House

Bina and Jodie arrived on Friday night, Danni and Keiran on Sunday so I have a full house at the moment. All the effort doing the decorating and building has finally paid off. Everyone likes the decor and all say I've worked very hard (well Danni grunted which is just as good).

And FTW Bina made a nice hot home made curry last night with home made chapaties.

Life is good (if a bit crowded)


Thursday, 23 October 2008

Hectic week

Not a huge amount of info to report this week, its been rather busy trying to finish up the last bits of decorating and assembling the latest delivery of ikea furniture. There's now a nice foldable sofa bed in the spare room and I have a kinda wardrobe in the main bedroom now so can finally hang up clothes. A little bit more papering to do, but I don't think I'll manage to get the halls done in time, but I don't think that matters too much.

I have of course bought the all important full length mirror, with 3 women about to descend on the place fighting for hairdryers and so on the mirror was kinda important to prevent bloodshed.

Work has been really busy and also a little dissapointing this week. Its the last teaching week before study and exams for this block, and I think I tried to pass on too much final information to them in the last lesson which has resulted in some incomplete lectures and confused faces, so its not been as satisfying as other weeks. I hope they all do well with their final assignments, 1 or 2 will certainly fail badly, but others have come on leaps and bounds in the last 7 weeks and I'm hoping to see them sail through. I won't get the same group of students till the end of the year so it'll be interesting to see how they progress now that the "easy" classes are over.

must go...gotta do some marking today and also finish up a wall.


Friday, 17 October 2008

is that it?

That was my weeks holiday? Wow that flew by fast, I spent most of it sleeping, playing games and just chillin', with short bouts of decorating to avoid the boredom.

Hmmm this holiday lark is quite relaxing but certainly leaves you with lots of dead time, I'm just not used to that. For years and years I've occupied myuself with programming or game play (for research of course) to an almost obsessive level which isn't good for me. So now having to find something to do else is quite tricky...Yes I could just program again and I confess to a little bit this week, but spending all day in front of a screen is not what I want to do anymore.

I revisited my misspent youth playing pool with Steve from work. Which was fun. But I think my pool hustler days are long gone. Really it was an excuse to go out and drink...hmmm yes I can see that being a problem given my rapid increase in red win consumption of late.

Anyway Bina and the mob will be decending next week so am really looking forward to that and I'll try to avoid drinking to much :)


Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Lowering the tone

Yes today is the day I lower the tone. Like my fellow Scotsman before me, Billy Connolly who blazed a trail on the subject so that we can all freely talk about this, the time has come to talk about Billy alluded to before...We Scots have a slight aversion to jobbies being left in the loo.....but let's hear Billy 1st.

Ok so after that trip down memory lane, I want to talk about Dutch loos..or more exactly loos in pubs...For some reason every pub/club/hotel I've been in in Holland has these odd little loos. Which unlike other places and indeed my own flat, have a little shelf kind of arrangement with the pool at the front the idea being that the water washes over the little shelf and your jobbies are wheecked (to coin a phrase) off to the jobbie factory for processing at a later day.

Now consider that you're sat there, minding your own business doing what you do when sat on a loo, examining the posters on the pub toilet door, waiting for that reassuring plop, that tells you job (jobbie) done, time to wipe, flush and run before the bartender asks you to buy a drink for the free use of his loo.

Fair enough, we all get that...But when using one of these Dutch loo's, there is no reassuring plop, rather worried; you stand up and there awaiting your inspection is your poo; in its varying degree's of brownness proudly sat on the shelf awaiting the flush after inspection.

I don't get the Dutch have a thing about inspecting their poo? Do they award points for colour, consistancy, length, form etc...I mean..what?? What is the point of having your poo, land on a little shelf to greet you when you stand up.

Well thats not the end of my rant dear no, there's more I'm afraid. Having not had a lot of fibre in my diet of late, my poor jobbie was somewhat lacking in the consistency dept, so I probably would lose marks for that, but it certainly made up for it in quantity and varying shades of brown.

Not being Dutch however, I took my usual Scottish approach of flushing my jobbie away.......and it wouldn't go!! It was glued to the shelf!

This was 10 times worse than a floater, this was a sticker. And there were people outside waiting to use the loo, and as Billy has explained, no Scot will admit to ownership of a jobbie in a toilet, shelf or otherwise.

The lack of a suitable brush or other prodding instrument meant I had to just keep flushing, adding a bit of bog roll from time to time to aid purchase, but to no avail. 6 flushes and 6 refills later, my unprocessed jobbie factory material, refused to go. Time for LOAD of bog roll and wait for a full tank before flushing.

At last some movement, but it still took 3 more full flushes before my jobbie mound slide away under the clear cascade. (poetic eh!)

My conclusion to this is two fold...Dutch people have an unhealthy interest in poo, and the loos are not designed for fat Scotsmen who need a bit more roughage in their diet.


Monday, 13 October 2008

Monday....a lazy day

Not through choice though, had a shocking headache last night and no aspirin or paracetamol in the flat and no where to buy any, so wasn't able to get to sleep till 6am...then got woken at 9-30 by a delivery and went back to no I didn't have a drink yesterday

Headache has gone I'm pleased to say, and a trip to the shop has secured some asprin in case it happens again...Oh I do miss 24 hour shopping.

But the result is today is a lazing about day snoozing to catch up on sleep.

Weather here is fantastic today though, very warm and though not exactly sunny, its bright..Wonder if this will be the last warm day before Autumn really starts to bite


Saturday, 11 October 2008

A week off?

And time to get some work done...ermmm hang on thats not right?

Am going to get my spare room decorated in time for Bina,Jodie, Danni and Keiran's visit at the end of the month...Been prepping the walls for ages now so hopefully this is the last big push to get it all done.
I also have to nip to Ikea this week sometime after the paper is up and buy a bed though I'm thinking a futon is going to be more useful as the spare room is also my office and I won't really be having people to stay that often.

In programming news, it looks like my next project is moving towards a green light so will try to get a few days to myself to get my DS Dev kit set up again and start adding to my game engine in readiness for the work. Due to the fact I can't work full time on a project now I've asked some colleagues and even a few of my students if they want to help out so we can form a small loose team, which will be fun I think :)

But I mustn't count chickens, I've long since learned that until you get that 1st cheque in the bank a project is never certain. And this one could fade away at any point.


Wednesday, 8 October 2008

A good excuse to drink

At last a reason to have a celebratory drink instead of a sad old man on his own drinking to dull the pain drink...ermm not that I'm doing that you understand!

My most recent DS project, UbiSoft's How to pass your Driving Test has finally been given NOE approval, so it should be on the streets in November.

No really I just drink red wine for the taste.

Am really pleased about this, as it was a very nice fun simple project but the approval process took forever with Nintendo's usual approval process being somewhat swamped at the moment.

Then, rather than supply a list of defects or issues then sending back (which Ubi's QA really should have caught before submission), they have a tendancy to find one thing then send it back for a fix and resub. So the whole process can take a while.

It's not as if I'm drinking every night...well not a whole bottle.

This time it took 3 attempts...well 2 and 1 request to waive. But it took over 2 months to get final approval. Thats the longest I've had to wait for an approval in years and it was really annoying the hell out of me.

Its just a little pick me up after work, or dinner or whatever.

Thanks to the guys at Route One for hiring me for the gig and for their really quite excellent production and managment approach. Its nice to meet a company who deal with issues so calmly and easily, even the normally frustrating repeated submissions were handled with calm and manners not often seen in a developer chasing a tight deadline.

I mean you get a deposit back on the bottle right, so its like saving me money?

Right, time to set up the next project, there's a few in the air. But I have to be careful to choose the right one. Since I have considerably less time for development now I'm teaching. hopefully I can work with Route One again soon but they tend to need fast turn around times and I'm not sure I'll be able to manage that on 25-30 hours a week.

Oh its not that kind of bank, they don't pay for the bottles? Maybe I'll wait till the weekend before I have that drink.


28 years and still crap

That's how long I've been LEARNING to play the sense of rhythm, no feel, no co-ordination, nothing...2 party tunes and a load of chords.....28 years....But I keep trying and who knows, maybe next year it'll be 3 tunes.

I want to play like this

I never will....but then again...neither will anyone else...amazing!!


Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Nothing to report move along please

Nope, nothing new, aside from an annoying pimple on my bum getting aggravated by my bicycle seat....not want to know about that? No..ok then, probably wise.

Been a nice quiet weekend, spent most of the weekend snoozing....I'm enjoying this new working life style with this strange new "time off" concept.
Though with idle hands and mind, and less and less decorating to do I have noticed that I am drinking far too much....The flat is starting to fill up with empty wine bottles and even a couple of scotch bottles waiting to go to the bottle bank...Thats probably a little too much, so am going to limit myself to a bottle an hour from now'll be hard but I'm shure I can hic.

There's a weeks holidays next week, a chance to get all the last little bits of decorating sorted before the 2 parts of my family descend on my now seemingly quite small apartment (5 people in 3 rooms).

Still looking forward to it though, just so long as they don't drink all my booze.


Saturday, 4 October 2008

Enjoyed the craic but not the ciggies

My work collegue Dino discovered that the Dubliners were playing in Breda last night, and since I've not had a chance to take in any shows since I arrived here it seemed like a chance to get out and have a good evening.

I must admit I was well aware of the Dubliners music, since I basically love all kinds of music when played by proper musicians but was unaware of the fact that front man Ronnie Drew (he of the huge beard and gravel voice) had not only long since left the band, but had as recently as 6 weeks ago passed away.

So there was an air of tranquility and reflection in the concert that I hadn't really expected. But all the same, it was nice to see these grand old men of the Irish music scene doing their thing. I've attached a pic, but am sorry its so crap, I've just discovered my new phone does not have a zoom function...bah!!

Dino, Karena his g/f, and I then decided to have a few drinks to finish the evening and in what we thought was poetic reasoning decided to head to O' Mearas, the Irish bar in town. They planned on having a few Guiness's and as that is the only place I can get my usual pint tipple (cider) off we went.

But far from being awash with rowdy Irish music fans braving the drizzle after the concert, it was apparently full of ....smokers....yes SMOKERS...This was a shock considering that in Holland, smoking was banned a few months ago in public places.

Disheartened, but thirsty we decided to buy a drink and see how it felt,but our lungs having been smoke free for quite some time, were not too happy with the blue smog that surrounded us.

A conversation with the bar manager, herself puffing away happily at the bar, revealed that a number of the bars in the area had decided to club together and produce a kitty in the event that they get fined for breaking this rule and therefore felt they could protest enmasse against what they saw as an unfair restriction on their trade.

Personally as an ex smoker I've never really been one of those evangelist anti smokers, I quite like the scent of tobacco smoke in small doses (perhaps it reminds me of my youth :) )
But being enclosed in a small pub, the doors and windows closed to keep out the damp night air (or the city officials who police the no smoking ban??), was more than a little too much.

Counting around there seemed to be about 6-10 smokers in a pub filled with 70+ people......
So basically to satisfy a minority of miserable bastards (and I assume the manager) who couldn't be arsed to go outside the majority were having to suffer, though in typical Dutch, don't rock the boat, mindeset they were letting it slide.

Selfish gits...I hope the inspectors come soon...I know I will be making a point to find out where I should complain about it...I want to drink my cider in a smoke free environment.

We left our drinks and sought out a smoke free bar in town. The policy designed to attract more smokers to the bar had in fact turned away 3 thirsty non smokers, their loss!

We ended up at Dante's in the town square, a nice quiet cafe bar/art gallery place where despite the lack of cider a good night of drink and craic ended around 2am and I managed to cycle back home to await the inevitable hangover. I won't post pictures of how I look this morning...lets just say I'm a little fragile...and smell of fags.


Tuesday, 30 September 2008

its Alive, ALIVE

My PC certainly took quite a pounding, it has big dents in it, and the insides were banged all out of shape. Cables were loose and things are rattling around. Fortunatly once everything was pushed back into shape and some power was applied she coughed and spluttered back into life.

The Beast is back.


Dear GOD!!!!

Yes they arrived..battered, bruised and more bizzarly, opened (several times) and retaped (badly)
Even more worrying was watching the driver unload the boxes, clearly marked FRAGILE and "handle with extreme care" as he threw them down on to the trolly from his van...what the hell is wrong with these people?

I'm fairly certain there will be some damage, but will have to check it out later as I have to crack on with work.

NEVER will I use DPD again...


Monday, 29 September 2008

Transubstantiation is real

As a good catholic boy when I was a kid, I was indoctrinated into the faith in the usual ways, not least of which was the importance of my 1st communion. I absolutely believed in the catholic concept of Transubstantiation which basically means one thing turning into another (bread to the body of Christ and all that)
But as I grew up and developed my heathen and atheistic viewpoint. I rejected all that mumbo jumbo as so much religious twaddle.

So imagine my surprise today to discover that Transubstantiation is real and I have evidence to prove it.

yes indeed. With no more than a few days waiting and some cursing at local depot managers, 2 Parcels can mysteriously, indeed miraculously turn into 4 alloy wheels and 3 low profile tyres.

Hallelujah and other such words of rejoicing.

However despite this miraculous event, I must admit I'm not a happy bunny, and have asked the local DPD depot to reverse this undoubted miracle, so I can get my hands on some clean underwear....Besides I don't have a car that could use these wheels.

oh I should point out, the sarcasm on show here is hiding fury on a scale you probably can't far no one has been injured..but there's still time. They promise to reverse the miracle tomorrow.


Friday, 26 September 2008

oh bloody hell

How mad is this...

26 Sep 2008
Unable to Deliver, Address Query

26 Sep 2008
Out for Delivery

26 Sep 2008
Confirmed at Depot

25 Sep 2008
Unna Hub
International Hub - in Transit



The Boxes are finally in the Netherlands, according to todays tracking list. I also got a mail back from the courier company who suggested the reason they went to Austria was because there was no country on the Label
....hmm well I doubt very much Bina would not have written the country on the address she put on the box, but even if that was the case (I'll see when they arrive), the courier company actually supplied a shipping label, complete with bar code etc when they picked it up, and their confirmation mail to me clearly shows the full address including the country.

I think I'll do a bit of complaining and see if a refund is on offer...when they finally arrive. I'm dreading to see them after being passed around so many hubs and depots, they could be quite badly banged up.

fingers crossed though, today should be the day.


Thursday, 25 September 2008

Long way round

When I was over in the UK I packed a couple of large boxes to transport my main PC and also some gadgets, clothes, CD's Books etc. Two big boxes weighing around 30Kg each.

A quick hunt on ebay found a courier who could transport them to the Netherlands for a reasonable sum (40quid) and collection was arranged from Bina's house a few days later.

The service was 2-3 days, but as there was a weekend in the middle I was expecting them Tuesday ish.

Tuesday comes, Tuesday goes. but I did get an email asking for phone details of the delivery address (I had them sent to work so someone would be there to collect)

Anyway, its now Thursday, no calls and no parcels so I asked the courier company whats going in.

It seems my parcels are taking a quick tour of the EU as the tracking list they supplied shows

25 Sep 2008
Unna Hub
International Hub - in Transit

24 Sep 2008
Consolidation Scan

23 Sep 2008
Horsching (linz)
Returned to Sender, Address Query

22 Sep 2008
Horsching (linz)
Held By Depot - Address Query

22 Sep 2008
Horsching (linz)
Confirmed at Depot

19 Sep 2008
International Hub - In Transit

18 Sep 2008
International Hub - In Transit

18 Sep 2008
Sorted by offshore gateway

18 Sep 2008
Billing copy available

18 Sep 2008
Exported by international gateway, to DPD Group

18 Sep 2008
International Hub - In Transit

17 Sep 2008
Confirmed at Hub

17 Sep 2008
Forwarded to Aschaffenburg - Exports

17 Sep 2008
Parcel left depot

17 Sep 2008
Parcel label applied

17 Sep 2008
Parcel data entered

17 Sep 2008
Collected from sender

hmmmm That returned to sender comment has me worried. They are currently in Germany so no idea if they're going to get to the Netherlands today or end up back on a ferry to Bradford.



Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Got him

he'd gone out, so by sheer luck I spotted his car coming in, so went out to confront him, fortunatly he wasnt a huge body builder type, more a weedy hairdresser type, so I let rip and asked him why he ignored my notes, and was parking in my space. In full angry fat Scottish bloke mode which clearly scared the shit out of him.

He made some pathetic excuse that his space was too far away and someone else was in it, and it was a big garage etc...but I wasn't in the mood for crap like that, so made it clear he was not to park in my space again. He refused to give his name or flat number but he had an envelope in his hand and I could clearly see his address, so a mail has gone off to the landlord so he can remind him which space is allocated to him.

I do hope thats the end of it...we'll see, but unless he gets very brave quickly I think he'll avoid me like the plague from now on.


Got home to find him parked in another space...I doubt that's his either , which means the owner of that space will probably end up parking in mine...flaming musical parking spots.

Was rather hoping he'd be there so I can get my collegues car in place to force him to reveal himself...mind you he's done this before, and after a few days ended up back in my space so am sure we'll get him.

Also I suggeted to the landlord that someone was parking for free...sure enough they developed and interest in that, somone they can get money out of is more of a catch...

this could run and run.


Right, he's forced my hand

So its after lunch now and still no call, so I think we can assume he's going to retain his anonimity for a while longer since it allows him to continue with his free parking.

Landlord has got back to me and basically wants nothing to do with it, considers it a matter to be resolved between tenants. A point I would agree with if I could speak to the chap.

So, if he's there tonight I have a solution, a collegue from the university lives in the next street and is happy to park his car behind the Hyundai which of course will block him in (shame). That should force him to contact me and I won't let him out till he tells me where he lives.

Hopefully the situation can still be resolved in a reasonable way.


Damn he's quick

So my parking spot thief never called last night, I checked late last night and the note was still on his windscreen, meaning of course he'd parked up for the night and wasn't going to see the note.

Since I have a couple of parcels arriving at the office sometime today I made the extremly unusual decision (for me) to get up early and head to the office for 8am so I'd be there when they arrive. Also hoping that I could bump into our friend at the same time. Face to face conversations are usually the best way to prevent petty squables escalating I think

Sadly though, he'd already left at 7-45am but it was interesting to see the note was not lying on the floor this time, which means of course he's kept it and will hopefully call me today sometime to resolve this...I'm still looking for a wheel clamp though.


Monday, 22 September 2008

Cheeky bastard

One thing I like about my apartment is the extras that come with it, I have access to a communal locked bike shed, a large communal garden (still being worked on though), a huge downstairs storage area and a parking space. My parking space, my very own space, which I pay 80 euros a month for, number 9 is its number and its mine..all mine. ok...

'Course I don't have a car but it does mean if anyone comes to vist me they don't have to park on the street which they have to pay for. can imagine how annoyed I am that some cheeky twat has decided my parking space is the perfect place to park his Hyundai coupe.

Being a polite sort of chap, I let it go for a few days/weeks, till things settled down, but no...still parking there, or on occasion in another spot forcing the occupant of that spot to my spot.

Clearly a game of musical parking spaces is taking place here, someone does not have an allocated space and is making use of whatever he finds.

So I put a notice on the wall, in English at first, it got removed, later in Dutch, it also got removed. Hmmm

The Red Hyundai seems to be claiming squatters rights.

So last night I put a BIG sign on the wall, and also put a note on his windscreen informing him that the space was reserved and he was not to park there..
When I looked this afternoon the car was gone, and rather unNetherlands like, (they are a very tidy people) the note was on the floor.

Ok well at least I can be sure he read it.

So at 7pm when I come back from Ikea (had a nice dinner there) imagine how annoyed I am to see.....yup 1 red Hyundai happily occupying my space. Sign still in place in big Dutch Letters Geen Parkeren, ( No Parking obviously) and ignored.

Getting a bit silly now...I've put another note on the screen asking him to call me to resolve this...but somehow I suspect he wont....I left my number several times in case he wants to rent it from me (I don't really get any visitors so its dead money to me and renting it will be fine) and he's never bothered to call

Unfortunatly I don't know which flat he's in as we don't actually see cars enter the garage so its hard to find out where he is and go knock on his door.

I am very tempted to let his tyres down to attract his attention, but knowing my luck he'll be some 7ft blond body builder who likes beating people for excercise. But my patience is running pretty thin with this freeloader who's happily using a space I pay for.

This will no doubt be continued at a later date....hopefully I can spy wether or not he's a weedy little bloke into who's face I can kick some metaphorical sand....For the moment a formal complaint to tha landlord will have to do.

Hmm where can I buy a wheel clamp in Holland?


edit I checked...9 is my space, there's no room for doubt.

Nice Sights

Last month Breda held an anual balloon festival, Bina was over at the time and we had hoped to go see the balloons but crappy weather and errm bicycle malfunctions meant we never got to go.

Shame really since theres something strangly romantic about big bags of nylon being pumped full of super heated gasses then flying off on really!

Anyway I was on my way to the bins yesterday and as I stepped out my door onto the stairwell I saw 3 ballons floating directly overhead, which made me go ohhhh.. and run to get my camera.

Not the greatest pics, they had moved on a bit by the time I got the camera working. It looks a bit grey here, and it was actually a lovley day here, but it was still quite a sight to see these huge gas bags so close and hear the burners blowing as they passed overhead.

Bina's mad at me I think...she said I didn't mention her in the blog recently, which is true, because I was talking about other things. I think that distance relationships suffer a lot from that unwritten rule about "keep communicating with each other". But this blog is not intended as a means of communication between my girlfriend and me..We do that on the phone and msn most nights.

I think she's just tired because she's currently over in India teaching some PRINCE2 to a bunch of unsuspecting Indian business men.

Wonder what they'll make of her, I always thing of her as my dusky maiden, but I suppose she'll be a little pasty to them and have a funny english accent :)

Anyway, I do miss you, I do wish you were here, you do occupy my thoughts all the time and I hope you have a great time in India and get to see some nice sights. you go I mentioned you, and we can talk about it later when you tell me about your day.


Saturday, 20 September 2008

Undeserved notoriety

Now that I've been here a few months I'm starting to get to know people outside of work, and have made some new friends with an interest in poker (oh and booze..lets not understate the interest in booze)
Nothing serious you understand, just friendly games with a €50 buy in, €0.50 small blinds, winner takes all or cash in by 2am.

But I've unfortunaly gained a repuation as a bit of a card shark becuase I have cleaned up in both games after coming back from very short stacks.

Last night, in particular was a really good night as I was a little reckless to start with and lost my stake pretty quick, but after ingesting large amounts of red wine waiting for others to fall out of the game, I decided to borrow €20 and get back into the game.

I ended up the chip leader by a fair old margain and knocked out 3 of the 7 players and did serious damage to the remaining stacks. Returning the borrowed stake, I more than tripled my money.

You could of course say that it was all becuase they were drunk by then, but remember I was also drinking quite a bit..and in fact my playing improved as I got more and more pissed. All in all a good night out, I just hope my new friends don't take their ever more frequent joking references to "hustlers" too seriously :)

Looking forward to the next game, I wonder how long this beginners luck will hold out ;)

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Home sweet home.

Its amazing how things creep up on you and suddenly become so real you can't remember when they were'nt there before.

As I was travelling back to Breda on Monday, I kept thinking how nice it would be to get home....."Home" when did that happen. I spent a nice weekend at my old "home" but somehow it was just a place I stayed at, and now I'm home Breda

I guess this means I've settled in eh?

Going to be a nice week this week though, when I was over in the UK I got my monster beast of a PC all packed up and ready for shipment, though I had to leave 2 of the 3 monitors I normally use there. It'll still be nice to get the behmoth here and set up and get access to all my code utilities and records.

Also more importantly I packed the boxes with clothes, both as padding and because I needed to ship more clothes can only wash and wear the same 6 or 7 shirts and 3 pairs of jeans so often eh?

Having a good week at college though, I've started to introduce the students to the joys of actually writing games using some of the skills they've learned. So far they seem excited by it...Lets hope it carries on like that.


Sunday, 14 September 2008

3 down 49 to go

Well I know I missed out number 2 which was my 1st teaching week, but it was pretty good fun.
2nd week was a little less fun, I had to cover a very boring topic, (pointers in c++) which some of the advanced students found boring, but the noobs found a bit tricky...which was of course entirely the point.
I made them watch a terrible video I found on the net explaining pointers...bad as it is, it does indeed explain the concept really well so I will strap students into chairs and force them to watch it 15 times, every time I see an error in the way the use pointers from now on.
Next week though things should really start to get interesting, not so much standing in front of a power point presentation and a lot more getting things done and learning new things by doing them.

Anyway, am back in the UK for a couple of days, packing up some stuff ready to ship over to holland next week. I'm getting tired of not having access to my Main PC and all its tools and games as well as my music and a couple of jackets....I went over with 1 suitcase and could only pack 1 jacket..time for a change :D
(I have washed it...its not as if it smells....much)

Saw Danni and her fella yesterday and went for dinner which was really nice. Love the way she's becoming more outgoing and assertive (though not always in a good way do look at women from time to time in the streets...let it go??)

Probably going to pop over to my mums later if I get a chance but right now I'm hunting for a big sturdy box that can take my Main PC and it's 3 monitors and huge amounts of bubble wrap.

Whatever happened to tea chests? I remember them when I was a kid, used to be great for shipping stuff around, like ermmm tea.


Monday, 8 September 2008

They don't want my money?

I managed to work out the internet access to my dutch bank account yesterday using this cool gadget they give you to plug into your PC
Strange thing is there's no money going particular I notice my rent has not gone out...Thats a bit worrying. I'll have to give them a call and try to find out why the money has not gone. Am sure I filled out forms and such with account details which would allow monthly transfers.

Better get onto that now or I'll end up owing people a fortune without realising it..UK direct debits are so much easier.


Is there no end to my pain's taken several weeks and I've probably ignored it up till now, but I have finally found something I dislike about Holland.

The lack of customer service.

This of course could be entirely down to the intensive Apple staff training which causes Apple staff to feel they are above such things as basic customer service and the ability to fill out a form or make a phone call..But I think it might in fact be a Dutch thing.

I've cancelled the Iphone...
I've had enough. 4 times I went to that shop, made to stand around like a lemon, despite them knowing why I was there, and 3 times told that the only person who could deal with it, was ;

a) away on a training course
b) back in a couple of hours
c) was there a few minutes ago...

So I would leave my number and ask someone to call and update me, even if it was with no news I think a simple, update would have been nice.

Of course I was told yes that would be no problem. I never once received a call.
Yesterday, eventually I get to the relevant assistant manger (after being made to wait for 2 lots of 30 mins while he uselessly dealt with customer complaints and filled out forms (often twice as he was Cleary incompetent)) (programmers will notice the balanced brackets there...I was going to make a programmers joke and not close this bracket but only programmers would get it...and ermm I've explained it now so...)

Anyway, Rinus, for that was his name, cheerfully tells me how he's kept missing me as he was
a) on a training course
b) back in a couple of hours
c) had just nipped out.

"Yeah right ok, so why has no one called me to give me an update?"
blank looks
"ok ok, so what’s the deal with my Iphone now?"
"Still nothing from T-mobile, it might be another week or so."

now bear in mind dear reader (hi mum)..I was originally told 48 hours, then a week then no we're talking possibly a month...a get a contract for a mobile phone.

ARRGGHH At this point I remember seeing red...something about heads flying around, mouths with mac minis forcibly stuffed in them and people with Dutch accents begging for their miserable lives.

But after a few deep breaths, (its not considered polite to get angry in Holland) I said,
"Ok...that’s enough then, please cancel my order I'll work something else out. I can't keep wasting my time like this"
"yes it’s not good your time is very valuable" comes the reply in typical polite Dutch stating the obvious way and I walk out.

I stopped crying a few hours ago...the whiskey helped.


Thursday, 4 September 2008


Yup...still not heard from Ifactors about my Iphone....I shall have to pop in and see what's what.


Sunday, 31 August 2008

nearly done

So in between all these bouts of work and panda births, I've been doing more decorating and buying furniture (IKEA shares have soared thislast month I suspect)

And here's the proof

Quite a difference from when I moved in eh?
From This

To this

Then This

Need to get some art on the walls and a few trinkets for the shelves but its becoming home sweet home :)


Thursday, 28 August 2008




Wednesday, 27 August 2008

The stone age returns

Still no iphone.....I have resorted to...
I can't believe I'm typing this...I have resported to.
An appointment diary and pen.

oh god how I'm suffering.

Settling down and more material want woes

Been a busy few days, the initial whirlwind of information was pretty overwhelming but things are starting to settle down now. I am starting to focus on what I need to talk about next week and putting together the course work needed.

And the living room is finally papered and all the ikea furnure is all built

Starting to feel like home.


there's a fly in the ointment of my contentment
I'm not coping well with schedules, fairly simple thing I know but I've not really had to work to a schedule for some time so I've got a little out of the habit of keeping note of meetings and things.
So this finally gave me the incentive to go buy an Iphone so I can carry an organiser around with me at all times (ok ok I also want an Iphone real bad and they are cheap here)

Trouble is everywhere is sold out...So I tried an Apple store. "Yes we have them in stock"......hurrah
But...there had to be a but. I need to also get a contract with guessed it, there's a problem. The online system can't cope with ex pats, and so you have to send in the forms on a fax. Ok well 2 days turnaround is not so bad..thats what they told me.
2 days come and 2 days go and on the 3rd day I walk back into the Ifactors shop and ask what the hold up is. Trouble is the assistant manager has gone on a training course and has left word that it might take 2 weeks to process the T-mobile application.
I suffer


Saturday, 23 August 2008

1 down 51 to go.

So that was my 1st week in academia. Lots of new faces and names to remember, a load of educational chatter that had me staring blankly into peoples faces. The English names are not too bad, but I'm really struggling to remember a fraction of the Dutch ones.

I just hope my mouth wasn't open and drooling like a zombie when my brain overloaded and the saftey cut out kicked in.

I also have the wonderful notification that while still stuggling with this whirlwind of information and unfamiliar practices, that I have to prepare a years work for 3 (I think) courses for a week on Monday.

Oh and a schedule that dosen't seem to be quite finalised yet, since it has me in two places at once on Wednesday mornings. Hopefully that will get sorted soon, especially as there is an 8-30 start for 2nd year students on programming students.....up at 8-30? hmmmm I might just take a pillow to that class and catch up on my own sleep, cos there won't be many students there after the 1st week or 2.


Fortunatly I have finally managed to make sense of the university's online course plan system, so have been going through what was taught before and making notes on what I liked and didnt like about it. And having done that I've pulled a couple of books from the library which were used as refernce in the last couple of years.

Michael Dawsons excellent Beginning C++ Game programming is in there, though I've not seen much use of it in the course material, other than to cite a few examples, which is a shame as it really is an excellent book. I'll try to include a bit more of that to help the noobs along. If you want to learn to program in C++ I can't reccomend this book enough, it lays all the foundation work you'll ever need, so I'm pleased it's considered reccomended reading.

I'm a little torn in that as a new boy I don't want to be changing too much, but at the same time I don't feel too comfortable with the difficulty level that was set out as a start point in previous years. So I'm going to tinker a bit with the learning curve and lower it at the start, raising it in the middle and ending up at hopefully the same or better levels than previous years. I'm not confident enough to write an entire coruse but modifying whats there, adding some new stuff and removing some old stuff should produce the result I a majority of happy and progressing students.

My senior lecturer seems happy with this but wants to see my outline plan on Monday( so even less time) before I set it in stone. I guess so long as they achieve the required level of competecy at the end of the term, how I construct the learning curve should be up to me....I just have to remember I will have a fairly mixed bag of students and must try to keep them all interested regardless of their starting levels.

Of course I've no idea if the bulk of my class will be keen coding gods or, unwilling noobs. So I have to try to produce enough work to keep the keen coders happy while also producing simple enough explinations of what is being taught to get the noobs up to speed.

Welcome to education 101.

Students start arriving on Monday and will go through what I suppose is the equivilent of a rag week in the UK. I have the dubious honour of making my introductions to the entire new 1st year....

I must remember to buy some immodium and a cork when I go shopping this weekend.


Thursday, 21 August 2008

A desk.....I have a desk

Finally decided to build my nice Ikea desk and chair today so I can sit in the spare room and work away from TV and the ever welcoming fridge.

So some semblence of a working environment means I'm actually getting quite a lot done..dunno if its any good or not, but between bug fixes on my DS project and taking notes and making comments on my programming course, I've had a really productive day.

And just to top things electrical goods have finally much for the promised early morning delivery.

Oh I forgive them though...I have a Freezer, printer,dvd/hifi, microwave and TV at last....I can lounge around in style tonight.....well after I've put paper on the back wall.

oh thats interesting, I just noticed that this blog works on UK time....not that that means much, just thought it was interesting