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.