Friday, 31 December 2010

So Long 2010

Well, its new years eve, I'm about to get started on a marathon cooking effort for tonights grand New Years Eve Curry party and Hogmanay night so this may the last chance I have to update in 2010.

Been quite a year all told...Its easy to focus on the negative side of things, the cancer being a major downer which dominated so much of it, but its also been an exciting year for change and new things happening.
We have a new home, our jobs are secure and still fun. Holland continues to surprise us with its warmth and friendliness, lots of new friends, new guitars, a new car, new toys and new experiences. We've had ups and downs like every other year.

But on balance its been a year of development for us all, something to build on for the future. I'm looking forward to 2011, I want to put aside the downers of 2010 and get on with things now.

Happy New Year

Lang may yer lum reek!


Monday, 27 December 2010

New Ipod 4

Since our Ipods got stolen we've been a bit lost.. I do like my Ipad for working on and doing cool things with but I missed my Ipod for music and other stuff.

So while in town to top up our video collection (now we have our projector working properly upstairs) we went to the apples store and got shiny new Ipds 32GB.

Some cool new features there, though the camera is pretty pants, it does have a nice hi res screen and the video chat feature looks promising.


Saturday, 25 December 2010

On Drums, with my collegues doing other bits ;)

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!


Friday, 24 December 2010

hmmm I'm not a brickie

The little wall I built to hold the satellite dishes.....fell down...though I must say I would do quite well as a satellite dish fixer to wall person, as the dishes are still very much attached.

Probably just not enough mortar, or summit, but I'll have to wait for better weather before I try to build a "better" wall.


Thursday, 23 December 2010

Last day at work

Today is the last day at work..students are all busy doing their final 2 hours of working class so I am updating now since I may not have time later.

Really looking forward to the holidays, though have not yet done my Xmas shopping, I will pop ino town today.
I do have some marking to catch up on, but a give me a few days of R&R and I'll get that out of the way.

Trip to the docs earlier today was...well I got a bit annoyed with Bina, who came along, seeming to take a pop at me in front of the doc, but managed to keep things together..being aware that my emotional responses are not normal gives me a degree of control over them, but still it narked me, as did being referred to in the 3rd person when I was sat right there. It turned out to be quite stressful but, I didn't lose it, and no one was injured. ;)

Repeat script and a reccomendation to use the tranqs if I feel agitated or under stress...hmm hate being medicated but we'll see. More guitar playing and walking also given as doctors orders..Harvey might enjoy the 2nd of those.

I think the upcoming rest will do me more good than the meds, I have an incredibly light work load when we come back so that will give me time to get into some PS3 coding which I have been really looking forward to but not had enough free time to get right into. As a result our PS3 console course at the moment is quite basic, being the 1st time we've done it. I want to explore more on what the machine can do and see how it goes.

Must also make another attempt to fix the satellite dish up we can get some decent Xmas TV.


Sunday, 19 December 2010

Satellite Dishes and Rod Hull

Been up on the roof most of today fitting the dishes we need to use our Freeview boxes...quite frustrating. I built a small and very rough wall, 3 courses on a base of flagstones onto which I fixed the 2 support arms. Drilled through the windows at a suitable place, fed cable in with no issues, and hooked them up.

1 LNB on the dish does not seem to work..hmmm need to investigate, one seemd to provide awesome power 75-80%, but 0%quality, regardless of where it was pointing. I can't find my good quality compass, and the supplied tin disk does not really cut it. sorted me out with direction but angle up/down is harder. For some time I was mistaken in thinking that the angle had to be 27deg on the dish..infact its about 2degs...oh.

Anway, by the time I figured it out and got things close to where they should be, we had a major snowfall and the quality is 0 its going to have to wait for another clear day.

Damn frustrating job this dish installing, but we did get a glimpse of what to look forward to when we hit 45% quality at one point and up popped a load of channels...soon to be lost...but tomorrow we may get lucky.

At least I managed to avoid doing a header of the slippy roof, like our old Emu loving friend.


Friday, 17 December 2010

its my birthday and I'll cry if I want to...

After all I have got a bad case of depression.

no alcohol allowed

time to start smoking hash I think?


Thursday, 16 December 2010

Please Mr Gibson sir....can I have some switches?

Finding replacement parts for my damaged Dark Fire is proving tricky, the volume knob is no problem, but the pickup/piezo blend switch is a specialist item specific to the DF..and Gibson don't sell them to retail.


But...they are looking to see if it is possible to let me have them as a courtesy...I really hope so, otherwise I will have to get Leroy's(henceforth to be known as Leroy the destroyer) insurance to buy me a new DF, all becuase of 1 small replaceble part!!


happy pills

Doctor agrees, I am in the middle of a depression and he wants to crack out the medication. Prozac no less, straight onto the happy pills for me!! Councilling comes later, seems they want the meds to work 1st which is ok.

Gotta go back weekly till the pills kick in in a month or so, and see how things are.

Sigh all feels a bit meh...anticlimatic....but ok it needs doing, I said that way back at the start, as soon as you recognise it get it dealt with, part of the problem with depression is it stops you from dealing with it...and everything else.

step 1 taken.

Oh....and he recommends I do things that I enjoy as much as play my really..Doctors my guitar ;)..but keep off the computer for non work reasons...hmmm yea makes sense I suppose.

Deleting Supreme Commander 2 now (tbh its a bad game but I was using it to escape)

Better get on with some marking now.


Wednesday, 15 December 2010

where me buy this?


bahhh heeeeere's Johnny

Saturdays incident has started of a chain of events where everyone is sulking at each other and not talking or even being able to stay in the same room together. The spare room is seeing some action!

Its all crazy shit, I just don't know how to handle it..I try to make small efforts and get rebuffed, and then do the same myself.
Its all pretty childish with us defending our positions to the death, yet the consequenses are very serious, she's already talking of moving out to give us a break...I tried to say I didn't want that but she's not me, or I don't think she is, or.

I give up.

In amongst all this I am now 100% certain that the depression I suffered from waaaay back when I started this blog is well and truly back....well duh!

No doubt triggered by the cancer and building the last 6 months, but whatever the reason while I have some control of it, it needs dealing with. It won't be long before I can't deal with the other issues that are piling up on me if its not stopped.

I hover between anger and despair, with occasional fuckit, lets charge ahead, and staring into space wondering how to snap back, pondering the ever present face pain, pondering growing old age and death as a possibility of the cancer, pondering the point of it all and so gets a bit deep and frankly silly when written down (which is of course why I write it down to help me see that)'ll get worse if I don't deal with it now...I don't want to end up curled up on the floor again.
And yes it probably is part of the reason Bina and I are fighting, I just can't see the wood for the trees right now, actually the trees are a bit blurry at the moment too.
I'm functioning ok at work, more or less, but marking seems like such a chore its taking me forever to do...and it ndeeds doing or I'm going to have problems since it never goes away, it just accumulates.

Appointment made to see my doctor tomorrow, actually to meet my doctor, since despite all the recent medical stuff I never bothered to go see my GP, poor buggers probably been getting letters and updates from the hospital filling up a filing cabinit in his office and he's never even seen me. Now I'm going to go dump a load of "I think I'm going slightly mad" shit on his lap....going to be interesting.

Bina passed her 1st MBA exam with a highest possible grade, A with Distinction. I never doubted it! It would have been nice to celebrate it..but wasn't to be.

Edit, Interesting point...Quite a lot of people I know read this now...when I started it it was intended to be a cathartic process, and a way to keep family and friends uptodate...But it was largely unread and anonymous, as long as the readers were largely distant, unnamed and not sat accross from me at any time it was easy to document things, even painful personal things...

Now though its that wee bit harder, I know some of you, quite a lot of you in fact, I'm writing personal shit, detailing painful stuff and people I work, drink, play with are getting insights into my psyche I don't know that I want them to have.....
But.....somehow it needs to be done, it needs to be documented, to continue the catharsis and to give me a means of self reflection and perspective on what's going on. I hope it does not colour anyone's view of me in daily life though...


Sunday, 12 December 2010

Fed up

I'm fed up, no really, just totally pissed off, fed up, fucked off and not in the bloody mood for anything at all, everything is getting on top of me, I feel ill, tired and cranky, and I'm just not dealing with shit I should be dealing with.

Sounds familiar..

I'm also furious that when it comes to conflict, the 1 person I am supposed to be able to trust and have my back, does'nt. That sucks, and makes everything else seem 1000 times worse.

Jodie was asked to take the dog out while I was getting ready to go out with her to see her mums latest am-dram thing in Dordrecht..We had a train to catch, though we had plenty of time, but to save some while I was dressing the last job of the evening was to take the dog out for 2 mins so he would not be bursting all night. So I asked her to do it.

She didn't, she made a big fuss about it which eventually resulted in me shouting at her to just do what I'd asked. She didn't...she decided instead to take umbrage at my getting annoyed at her and walked out...without the dog of she managed to avoid the thing I asked her to do, something she does a lot, which pisses me of so much.

I then took the dog out, which had to be done, and seeing Jodie at the end of the block, heading to the station shouted that she was on her own and I would not be paying for her fare or the meal we had planned. There was no way I was going to let that behavour go lightly, and I was going to let her deal with the consquences of her actions on her own.

I walked the dog, and then walked to the station myself, caught the train to Dordrecht fully expecting to have Jodie there waiting to see what to do next, which as far as I was concerend was to head home and think about what she had done, cos I was not interested in spending time with her.

But no, I get a text from Bina, she's going to pick Jodie up, and take her there!! So knowing full well her mum was busy prepping for a performace, the selfish little madam calls mummy to come get her and there's no consequences to her actions at all.

Dis fucking gusting.

I am appalled, and furious about this, so I decided I wasn't going to spend the night fuming in a social setting and went home, straight to bed as it happens, as I had been feeling poorly all day anyway and this just added to it.

This morning of course, its all my fault....Bina, decides that there's 2 sides to this story and she's going to believe Jodie.

Incredible. There's so much wrong with this that I can't even put it into words, so of course we end up shouting which makes it my fault even more becuase I'm bad tempered and irrational and unwilling to see any view but my own.

I really fucking hate this, there is no other view, Jodie was disrespectful, lazy and selfish, and I tried to deal with that simply using exclusion as a consequece of her actions...yet mummy rides in to the rescue, without even checking with me, totally undermines me, and sees it as all my fault.

No...its not that I am unwilling to see any view but my own, its not that I'm always right, and its not that I get angry when things piss me off, its simple.

At least it is to me....but I can't make that point because the 1 person who is supposed to see my side of things, take a stand with me, and work with me to raise OUR child, isn't capable of seeing that there are indeed 2 sides to the story, but its not something parents are supposed to have any problem choosing.

Why am I posting this here...why not...she's gone off Shopping with Jodie....yeaaah Jodie gets to have a fun day out with mum, while Brian sits in the dog house.

Really fucking disgusting, and there will be some changes, becuase this is not bloody on.


Friday, 10 December 2010

The difference is...

After a couple of years teaching, I have now finally worked out the easiest way to tell if someone is destined to be a programmer or not.

Its not that they get frustrated if they don't understand..thats actually a good sign.
Its not that they ask really dumb obvious questions, thats also actually a good sign.
Its not that they over complicate code...also a good sign.
Its not that they don't know the correct syntax but try to write it in terms they all the above, a good sign of a working mind trying to understand something.

Its when they don't even try to work out whats gone wrong and expect you to tell them.

That sucks, they are not programmers.

I joke with my students about a universal law of programming...

Brian's 1st law of self fuckery. Which states ;-

"If your code is doing something other than you expected it to fucked up."

There are actually currently 3 Brian's Laws of Self Fuckery
the 2nd is

Brian's 2nd law of Self Fuckery.....

"Is the same as the 1st."

This is to emphasise the importance and factual truth of the 1st law.
The 3d law is ;-

"If you are using someone elses working code in your program and it does not do what it did on someone elses fucked up."

Yes they are funny, and I may be sailing close to the wind by stating the f word in a class setting, but there's truth in this, I am trying to make people realise that they control what they write, its in their hands, if it does not do what it should do, they made a mistake, its not the computer, its not the language its not even the teacher..its them....if they fuck up..they have to try to find it...programmers, or those destitned to be programers do try to find out!

These 3 laws are self evident and quite provable (though Flash, (ahaaaah..saviour o the universe), does bend the laws a little due to it being totally crap) So its amazing that no matter how many times I explain these laws, students still should work but it doesn't. Others however say, its "still" not doing what it should

I actually don't mind those kind of students..they are trying at least. But the ones who stop dead in their tracks at the 1st sign of an error, then wait till 10 mins before the end of a class to admit, they don't know what to do, worry me.

They won't make it. I should be sad about that, but I'm not..they're not trying, they have 2 hours to put their hand up and say, Brian, what does this mean...but they don't, they sit there for 2 hours with a syntax error, and rather than try to find it they stress out or check out facebook but never actually try to understand the problem.

Teaching is fun, 95% of the time, but that 5% when people are not paying any attention to what you tell them, then doing nothing, and asking you to do it for them when they clearly are not not fun.

I'm lucky that there are not too many students like this, almost all mine are trying and I never ever critisise those who make an attempt...but those who are just waiting till I put something on screen they can copy....sorry really are wasting your time...and mine!!

ahhh....feels good to rant sometimes.


Thursday, 9 December 2010

THE most sickening sound in the world

Is a much cherished Gibson Dark Fire, hitting the ground face down.

Went for a jam with some students last night, I took a turn on drums and let one of them, an experienced guitarist have a play with my DF....yup..he dropped it...quite accidently of course, the strap slipped, ironic as the DF has strap locks, though they don't actually work on mine. ( Bad QC at Gibson there)

His face when it fell was almost worth the cost of the repairs. A new pickup selector switch and a volume knob..


My own face must have also been quite a sight, as I sat there for several seconds trying hard to do a Sapphire and Steel style time reversal.

Ah major damage done, the broken parts should be easy enough to replace, if I can find a source.

Was a horrible moment though, for all concerned.


Sunday, 5 December 2010

Turned out nice again

The cold snap has relented with rain washing away the snow and temps rising to a quite respectable 2 or 3 degrees.

I gave my presentation on the trip to Liverpool on Friday, it went down really well, with funnies and information wrapped up into an hours de-brief. All hail the Dave Gorman school of presentations.

Some of us went for an end of week drink and dinner to cap it off. I was very pleased to hear that so many people enjoyed it and found it informative.

Its not common practice at our place to do a de-brief after a trip to a conference or event, which I found odd and not very helpful. Hopefully the success of this presentation will encourage others to let us know what they get up to when they go off on their jollies. The Glorious and Beloved Leader that is Frank, seemed to think it should be standard practice now.

Facebook is now full of pics of me in various drunken states dressed as a monk while at Ken's 50th Birthday party, which had a Priests and Prossies theme...unable to find a suitable prossie costume, I opted for a monk complete with tonsured wig and my Ipad in its leather binder, acting as a Bible playing Gregorian chants as I made a big entrance to..3 people. :D Bina was in her usual Friday night home with the Beukens outfit :) More people turned up later and a good night was had.

The Late night resulted in a serious case of oversleeping today though, did not wake up till after 4pm...even by my weekend sleep standards that's pretty over the top. Not sure I'll get to bed very early as a result. I must pick up the script for the sleeping tablets the doctor gave me at my last checkup.

We have 2 weeks now till the Christmas break, I am looking forward to it a lot I must admit, our 1st Christmas and New Year in our new home. It'll be fun.


Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Snow/Sleep/Lack of.

1st Snows hit Breda on Monday, not much thankfully but a nice light dusting that has frozen hard.

Early winters mean chances of a hard winter are high..might be a chance to try out my skating skills then!!

Can't sleep again...its 4.26 and I've been reading/marking and other stuff to avoid boredom but the insomnia is pretty bad..never mind, look on the plus side, only 3 more sleeps till Christmas (via several facebook friends)

Going to head off to bed now and see how long it takes to get to sleep, fortunately I have not got an early start tomorrow but I do have a full day of classes, must try not to yawn..or at least what passes for a yawn these days.


Saturday, 27 November 2010

Avoid the Adelphi

Just got back from the UK, my collegue Jeremiah and I were over for a meeting with Sony and also to attend the Develop Liverpool conference.

I'll be filling in my work collegues on the good stuff that happened over there and indeed some of the bad stuff but it was an interesting trip.

It started off on Tuesday morning with me falling down the stairs, not something I reccomend when you get past a certain age and are carrying a few extra kilos, I banged my backside on every step after slipping on the top one. Fortunately I didn't really hurt myself beyond a bit of carpet burn, but it was a taste of what was to come.

Got to the train station and the machine would not take any of my damn cards, 4 of the buggers, so Jeremiah had to do the honours there.

Finally get on the train, only to be told as it left Breda that it was only able to go 2 stops ahead due to some "incident" on the line which they hoped would be clear by 9pm..not much use when we had to catch a connecting train at 6-40.
"Incident" btw probably means a jumper..The Dutch train system is the preferred method of suicide here in Holland, given there are no cliffs to jump from..its rather common sadly.
So after the train stops in Lage Zwaluwe, a middle of nowhere station, which is not even a town/villiage as such, we discovered there was no connecting bus...Lucky for us, there was 1 taxi which we rushed to..despite noting as we walked/trotted down the crossing bridge, the rather congested motorway we knew we had to travel on.

No one seemed to have thought of using the taxi, everyone else being quite content to wait till 9 in the middle of nowhere for the trains to get fixed, but we had a flight to catch and so we started a stop start motorway trip to Dordrecht where the line was running again.

Though since neither of us had any cash on us, in preperation for our use of UK pounds, the trip to Dordrecht ended with me hunting down a cash machine, a mile away from the station it seemed.

Up and down several stairs later, we squeezed ourselves into the next train heading to Rotterdam, and I do mean squeezed, we were now well and truly into commuter rush hour, and despite having 1st class tickets, it was every passenger for themselves when it came to occupying a precious 6 inches square of standing room. Didn't help either that it was a stoptrein, ie one that stops...every bloody stop and has more people squeezing on.

But we made it to Rotterdam, missing our intended hi speed train, by now we were about an hour late. But we did manage to get on another hi speed and worked out that if we were very lucky, we would get there with 30 mins to spare.

We got there with about 25 mins to spare.
Checked in, machine told us bording had already started and to go to the desk, which we confirmed with the lady standing around helping people....Unfortunatly the desk was hidden behind a queue of people checking in for some holiday bound flight, so we had to try to cut in...which we did, with a few grumbles..But still we could not get to the desk so someone could help us. Eventually..bearing in mind the standing around lady was fully aware of our rush..the standing around lady, told us to go to the service desk at the end of the check in desk...grrr..who in turn told us to go to the service desk further down the lobby, grrrr...where 3 nice KLM ladies were helping a group of 4 Irishmen with their presumably also imminent flights to Dublin...I say 3 ladies who were helping, I should of course say 1 lady helping and the other 2 chatting to themselves while looking at their comptuer screens...they were'nt actually doing much helping at all...despite us turning up and looking stressed and rushed with less than 15 mins till departure.

Finaly the Dublin mob sorted, the 1 helpful lady, asked what we wanted..and we explained we'd been sent to check in urgently on the flight to Liverpool..At which point the 2 unhelpful ladies suddenly aquired a state of awareness and chipped in that it was impossible due to their being a bus to the plane which was now loading.
grrr grrr

and another grrr for good measure.

We tried at least...but walked away dejected...We were told to go to the KLM desk to try and re-book our flight so off we went.

Needless to say on a day of repeated dissapointment, our flight was not re-bookable, since the travel agent had rejected the 7 euro fee which would allow booking. We'd have to buy another ticket, at 275euro's.....each.

Since the flight was not leaving till 1 we decided to see what Easyjet had to offer.

A trip to terminal 2 and a hunt around found the Easyjet desk where we were indeed able to order flights for a plane leaving in 40 mins for 120odd euros.
yipeee...we booked, got on, no hassles.

Finally some progress.. we jetted of to Liverpool on a totally unremarkable flight.

Taxi from the airport to the Adelphi hotel...which I just remembered is the subject of this long rambling post...but I think the headline says enough..its a dive, old, cold and well past its prime. It is in the centre of town which is handy, but its a really poor hotel and not worth its high costs...I won't be going there again anytime soon.

It was however the scene of our next dissapointment, as I get a phone call waking me early on Wednesday morning from the travel agents, noting that we did not get on the flight to Liverpool. I explained the train/missed/easyjet story, and was told, oh..ok, but you do know your flight back is now cancelled!!

No I bloody well did not know as I started to fume at the poor chap on the line, who's company had saved 7 euro's by not taking the re-bookable flight option. It seems it is standard procedure on 2 way trips that if you dont' get the outbound flight they cancel the inbound...this despite us being at the KLM desk and telling them we'd try to use another flight.
We'd need to book return flights home..and did we want them to do that......grrrrrr

So while the meeting and conference themselves were worthwhile and useful, though most of the presentations at the conference were pretty dull, the actual travel sheannigans were not fun, the hotel was not fun, and I can't say I enjoyed my trip to the even had 2 guitar shops accross the street, that I never had time to look in...hmmmm maybe I will stay there again next time, so long as I can make sure I can get some time to shop ;)


Sunday, 21 November 2010

not totally dead

A whole week and nothing posted...not much to report really, some interesting things at work, which is mega busy at the moment, I have revamped one of my courses due to the fact that last year the students hated it, (artists hate having to do coding they much prefer to do art!!) and as a result I have way more work to do, as indeed do they, so they now have to keep focused.

I also have a shed load of marking to complete which is always a slow process for me, and finally update some grades from last year that never got posted for various, I can't be arsed I think I'm dying sort of reasons...or just bad bad work managment.

I've got most of next week "off" though, since I'm heading over to Liverpool for a Sony event to launch the PS3 edu program which we are part of as initiates to the scheme, as well as Develop Liverpool converence which will be my 1st chance to meet up with old industry collegues and mates since leaving the UK. Its not going to be totally fun, I have to try to raise the IGAD profile while I am there and see if I can persuade some people to pay us a visit and check us out, but it will be good to be back in geek country.

If anyone here reads this and is going, drop me a line we'll try to have a beer somewhere and ponder how to fix the industry and other things that get discussed at game conference bars.

Guitar practice has been a little sparce this week, I've not added to my amazing Muse riff skills, but I will soon. We'll be doing one of our famous, "thats just noise", jams again soon and I want to get the whole song in my fingers by then.

I am proud of myself too, I managed to keep my GAS (guitar aquisition syndrome) in check on 2 occasions this month. A beautiful Breedlove C25 pro going for about 60% of list price. And, something I wanted for a couple of years a Moondog, only the Spirit model not the much lusted after Grand Auditorium, but still....pretty.

The Breedlove will come again one day, its a big company and they make a lot of them.

The Moondog though is a rarity, though in this case not really as its not an original...I must explain.
All Moondogs were made by a Chinese co-operative and sold by a guy called Tim, he was based in Wales and owned the Moondog brand, he imported them in bulk, chucked out the rubbish ones! He would carefully set them up, added electronics and ensure good quality control. But the trouble with Chinese guitars is they are very random on quality, so he could not keep up a steady line of guitars that met the standard and eventually he went under.
If you can find an original "Welsh" Moondog they are amazing and stunning value for money. But the ones now being sold are the same Chinese companies trying to keep sales going using the name and patterns with a few upgrades...some are great, others are ...meh...This one was a "new" Chinese one, but the seller said it was top quality...All the same...lovely as it is, I passed. I want to try to find an original Tim's Moondog Grand Auditorium. Martin/Gibson quality, for under 500quid (2nd hand 300-400)...they do pop up from time to time but people tend to keep them, for good reason.


Friday, 12 November 2010

I can play....

The bass riff to Muse's Hysteria....very very happy

Took 3 days of very very intense practice to get it up to speed and force my fingers into it, but it's there.....its actually quite an easy riff for a guitarist, but I never claimed to be any good ;)

Why am I doing a bass riff?

ermm....becuase Its a great riff and as it plays pretty much all the way through the song its a greate candidate to use on a loop pedal to play along to. I am going to have a mess about with my Zoom GX2.u to see if I can work out the pitch drop system to make it sound really bassy on the DF, then loop it, then drop back to normal pitch to play the guitar parts.

Ermm I still have to learn the solo though, that's going to be at least another 3 days....4, ok 5 days or a bit more...


Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Coding is fun again

I'm busy working on a bunch of things at the moment, fixing students coding assignments, planning next blocks courses and most fun, coding on OokiBlocks which will be my next commecial game (publishers willing).

Its proving to be a lot of fun getting my coding head back on after 7-8 months or so not having much interest.

I've been doing school work coding but nothing that stretched me so its nice to be back into a project. I put it on the back burner when the cancer thing kicked in and have been building myself up to get back into it again.

I find that I don't really have the obsession I used to have for coding and very much tend to work in bursts, but this is a fun project which has involved several of my students in some level and game design so its important to get it done and out there for their sake and let them see that good ideas do get coded sometimes.

Fixing the 1st years work is quite challenging though, its amazing how much students deviate from the lessons I give them, some in clever and imaginative ways, they even in class?? But its good to give them a bit of a boost in the right direction.
I find the balance of showing them and doing it for them to be great fun and a source of great mischief for me, though its not always appreciated by "some" students. But those who get it, realise they have to do the work to move forward..those who don't...well....we'll have to wait and see if they really want to be game programmers or producers who claim credit for everyone elses work ;)

One thing I am not so comfortable with is my new Flash coding course for artists, it didn't go down too well last year, so I am re-working it to be more focused this year...I find flash very dull and boring though so its hard to set the level right to enthuse them...most really don't want to do it, but its part of the course so I have to make it good, hard, fun and informative..who knows perhaps I can persuade one or 2 of them to cross over from the dark side and switch to "proper" coding. ;)


Wednesday, 3 November 2010

We're no 1 ;)

IGAD, the dept of NHTV where I work, has just had its official accreditation process.
Lots of interviews, intense examination of our processes, and scrutity of the work we do. Quite a rollercoaster few months which saw managers chainsmoking (well he always does that) and people stressing about dotted t's and crossed i's or something.

We came through it with flying colours, not just that but, we achieved a very rare "excellent" standard in several catagories, including quality of staff.

That puts us way up the top of the list as far as Dutch HBO (technical/vocational) courses are concerned and way out in fron of the other Game related courses in the Netherlands.

I always knew this was a great place to work, I am very proud of the staff, students and managers who contributed to making IGAD the best game development course in Holland, if not Europe...we need to get that message out there.

yeeaaaahhh for us!


Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Dark Fire is....

What can I say, yes it is amazing and awesome and all those other superlatives and I a have not even scratched the surface, but...yes there is a but. What the hell is going on at Gibson QC? There are so many minor details that are wrong here, the switches are sticky and noisy, the tuner CPU cover is loose and comes off with a tug, the tail piece is waaaaaay too high as is the bridge, though thats partly to avoid a string contact on metal which shorts out the electrics. I hear also that the electronics may not be up to par, but I'm not that far down the learning curve to tell yet.

She's a mighty beast all right but can't help but wonder how much better she would be if she were made 10 years ago rather than 10 months. Gibson seem to have lost the plot a bit, selling high end guitars with sloppy control does not bode well for them. Fortunatly none of the issues I have found so far are unresolvable, but if those electronics do go south it's going to be a pain to repair.....

Oh that sounds like I am being very negative about something I spent so much on, no not really, there are just silly little issues there I do not expect to find when you spend so much on a guitar. Gibson always had a reputation for quality and it seems to have gone in the last few years as they have hit various well documented issues. I'm also realisic, the DF is an electronic, techy experiment, and as with everythng high tech it will become old hat soon, (indeed the new FirebirdX has just been anounced with even more toys onboard..but its uglyand absurdly expensive). I hope that I can find the real guitar inside all the tech that makes it worth keeping as a playing instrument rather than a technical curiosity for years to come.

That said though...I love it, not quite as much as Lucille, but certainly a close and exciting 2nd place. She looks great, sounds amazing and feels fantastic. I am sure I will be spending a lot of time getting to know what she can do.


Sunday, 31 October 2010

Home again.

Back home after a week in the burglaries to report, Attic playroom is almost finished, and house guests have left food and pressies.....can't complain ;)

I picked up a couple of freesat systems complete with dishes to get full UK channels set up on lounge and Jodies room. Need to go get a bundle of cable and a bloody big ladder, but will try to have that up this week.

1st things 1st..its good to be home!

Feet up for a bit then plug in the mighty Dark Fire and see what she can do!!!


Monday, 25 October 2010

Surprising lack of insomnia.

We're back in the UK for a week, staying at Bina's mum's who is fussing around us ;)
Crossing was a bit rough and I had trouble sleeping, though caught up with a long lie in the next day..and an even longer lie in the day after, with an EARLY night. Most unusual, but quite welcome.

Bradford is...Bradford, its all dank and dirty, full of people wearing sweatpants and cheap/fake bling looking stoned or lost.
We were shopping today and it really was quite depressing to see so many closed shops and To-Let/Sale signs up.
The people, all wandering around looking for bargains in the many pound shops that blight Bradfords once impressive shopping centre, all seemed to look the same, depending on race and colour. Chav's abound, shady teens with too much bling and fake designer clothes. I can't believe how many people, mostly asian princesses, have all opted for 1 particular look, long fringe over one eye. Groups of people all wearing the same hanging around in cliques and gangs..its all a bit strange having come from the very cosmopolitain and indivudal styles around Breda.

Stranger even was the number of full face veils on display. I remember when there was some controversy about Jack Straw MP asking a constituent to remove her veil when she spoke to him, it really hit the headlines at the time and made people sit up and take notice of this odd and to my mind sad practice. The consensus was that it was a minority of women who did this...I guess that minority are mostly based in just 3 hours walking around town I counted over 20 women wearing full cover robes and full veil. I really do wonder if and when this crazy non islamic and medievil practice will ever be cast away....religion...funny, dangerous shit!

Driving in a left hand drive car is proving to be odd..I ended up on the wrong side of the road one time when I went to town, fortunatly there was nothing coming the other way, this time :D

Picked up a nice strap for my DF, with a Simpson theme, but other than that shopping was a it dull for me..Bina and Jodie got to pig out in Primark though.


Monday, 18 October 2010

More Insomnia issues

I really am going to have to do something about this...its 2-30am and I have to be up at 8-30....not good.

I have been able to keep myself busy with some work at least which is proving to be great fun, both student related and my own pet projects. My students are getting ready for their final lecture tomorrow and have homework assignments to finish up. A few of them hit a major speed bump when I was trying to explain the use of pointers via linked I've had to help them move forward, which has meant debugging a lot of, sometimes strange, though.

Without that I'd probably be down stairs watching late night TV, avoiding the silly dutch soft porn adverts in the middle of My name is Earl, or drinking..often both.

I find I tend to think too much when I'm awake so late...not always happy or easy thoughts...Life is good, don't get me wrong, but in the quiet times when you're alone with just your own thoughts, doubts and fears come back to you, especially when you try to yawn and the pain of doing so reminds you that things are not 100% normal..I'd kill to be able to yawn again, I really would. I am thinking of taking up jogging....dont you dare laugh! To see if it might help...but I dunno, I hate excersise and even if I did it once or twice I'd get bored pretty quite.

Anyway..I had a bit more of a tidy in the shed today, clearing things away onto more new shelves I got from Ikea today (never...I mean never..go to Ikea on a Koop Zondag, (shopping Sunday). I'll soon be able to have my work station ready to do a bit of scale model building in there.

The upstairs play room is out of bounds at the moment, we have our builder friend Xavier in, boxing off the stairway entrance to it so it can be a closed room. Better soundproofing and better privacy for people staying over. I'm hoping the soundproofing works on 2 levels..I want to play guitars without headphones and not have Bina shouting up the stairs when I'm only on level 2.
But mostly so that when Jodie has her friends over, I don't have to listen to girlish giggling until the wee small hours cos the room has no door or walls before the stairs.

Felt good this weekend too, not having to struggle with that VAL course I was "trying" to do. I will have to see if I can find a few good books on teaching methods and didactic stills in general and try the more traditional approach....called learning.


Friday, 15 October 2010

drummer boy me.

I re-instated the monthly jam sessions yesterday, 4 of us turned up, and my collegue Oliver turned up too for a while, he plays a mean guitar and did some vocals on a very loud verion of was all a bit of a mess but great fun with little spots of musicality from time to time.

Overall a great time was had, I was even given a short lesson in how to play drums and managed to maintain a regular beat on bass and snare after 10 mins or so.

Was an awesome night.


Thursday, 14 October 2010

Nope thats it.

Attended another group meeting day, and it was very instructive, not as far as didacctics are concerned but. I discovered pretty much everyone else hated the system, and that it is really geared towards promoting itself rather than teaching any specific didactic skills....Hearing others feel exactly the same as me has made me stop vacillating, I am drafting an email to explain why I want to quit the course and get on to something more traditional with an actual teacher doing some actual teaching.

so are several fan...go!!!


Wednesday, 13 October 2010


Is a very odd word...but I am vacillating on this didactics course, I'm still coming up against frustration and lack of information, as well as dealing with a limited number of people within the group who seem more intent on showing how clever they are without demonstrating or sharing any actual knowledge of the subject we're supposed to be "learning". Trouble is this limited number seem to be the only ones actually contributing.

There's no doubt my patience levels are still considerably reduced post April27 but my ability to learn and soak up information is as strong as ever, when its directed, which just is not happening here! So I'm getting frustrated and angry at the time and effort that is being wasted. I can't participate on cue in a discussion when I can barely speak the language never mind understand the subject under discussion. That's what this feels like,

Apparently there are alternative learning methods available, so am going to see about those next week. I have one more "meeting" tomorrow with this course, which I will try to sit through but I don't feel postitive at all about this learning method at all so best I quietly leave and find a method I am comfortable with as soon as possible.


Saturday, 9 October 2010

hurumph & Hungover

Had a housewarming party last night..loads of guests and much drink drunk and nibbles nibbled. Went to bed very wobbly after several tequila's....woke up with a belting hangover.

Decided not to quit the didactics course just yet...going to get some coaching help from a colleague and Bina....well see if I'm just stoopid or if it really is impossibly hard.


Tuesday, 5 October 2010


I dunno, maybe I'm just thick, or stuck in an old fashioned rut, but I still can't get a grip on this VAL teaching system, direct questions asking for a pointer to reading material are being met with responses like, search the library, use google, use specialist education libraries and the clincher, its up to me to decide what is and is not relevent, and still missing the point that I am unable by virtue of ignorance of the subject, to make any kind of rational decision on what is and is not relevent materia

I've resigned, its just getting me more and more frustrated which in turn is making me feel very negative about the whole process...which may or may not be justified, I don't know.

I do know the system is confusing when there is no expert in the field who can direct students to useful and relevent information, and the website portal is one of the most unintuitive and clumsy portals I've ever seen.

I'll see if there is another more traditional expert led course availble I can go on to improve my didactic skills. But VAL...not for me.



Well perhaps not totally yet, but certainly the 1st of several death knells ringing in Dr Tim Langdell's IP trolling ears.

Its a big document and I've done an imbed here, but it might be easier to go read it at this location

Just brilliant 23 pages of awseomeness, its a very clearly written and damming legal judgment refusing a request to stop EA selling their Mirrors Edge game and several comments on Langdells clear and obvious fraudulent submissions and lies to the US Tradmark board which he's been using to support his semi-legal blackmail of any small company who happen to use the word Edge in some way in their game.

He's managed to scare a few companies into giving in to him but I've been a staunch supporter of those companies who have stood up to him..eventually resulting in EA stepping up and swatting him away like the shit feeding blowfly he is.

There's still more court action in the works, but there's also a very real chance Dr Langdell will now find himself facing criminal charges for his frauds and lies and spend some quality time with a large hairy man he'll have to call Daddy in a US prison.

We can but hope.


One more thing will do it.

After a bit of a conflab with my fellow VAL students its clear I'm not the only one that is very confused by this training program. So I decided to have a word with the work co-ordinator of the programme and explain my frustration with it. She is going to raise the matter with various people to see if it can be tailored to suit..

My main issue stems from the lack of base knowledge many of the participants have and with no expert to guide us to relevent information we're scrabbling around.

Asking for help just seems to be an impossible task. Even today it seems I put some feedback on a project, but didn't put it in the right place. The online co-ordinators response was...does anyone know where it should go?

Now this approach works well in a real class, (especially with primary school children...yes I do consider it a bit patronising) but now I have to wait till people log in and wait till someone can be bothered to tell me the answer..until then it is clear I've made a mistake of some kind but won't know how to correct it until someone in the group tells me.

Why can't the co-ordinator just tell me, even a simple private email while still leaving the question open.

I am getting very fed up now. I think its only going to take one more frustration to tip me over the edge and walk away.

EDIT...the on-line coordinator sent me a message telling me to post my comments in another section..I looked at that section...and the comments were posted there automatically....rolls eyes.


Sunday, 3 October 2010

lovely day to study

It's a lovey day outside, warm sunshine and dry. Which is just as well for those poor buggers doing the Breda half marathon thing today, which has closed the town centre.

Bina went to the UK to do one of her exams for her Masters, as expected she feels she did ok, she always frets over these things but she is actually brilliant at any kind of self learning.

I on the other hand am not! I'm doing a course on didactical skills for work, and frankly I am totally flummoxed. The course is based on a concept called Virtual Action Learning. A training concept being pushed by one particular company which my work seems to have bought into.

While I am totally familiar with the concept of action learning (peer based share learning to raise the standard basically), it seems to me that this Virtual Action Learning is an utter nonsense, few of us know exactly what is needed and without an expert to direct us we're all scrabbling around trying to figure out what we're supposed to study...The search for the information being deemed as important as the absorbtion of the information.
Peer based share learning relies on having people know what they are talking about and explaining gaps in others knowledge, but when you have no basic foundation skills/knowledge available to you it seems prety much impossible to relate to what the others are talking about or what te assignments are asking you to do.

One assignment in particular was find and report on relevent the hell do you find "relevent" documentaion on a subject you know nothing about, I can certainly find documents but "relevent", how the hell would I know? Bit like asking a blind man to describe colour.

...I am not getting it, and I'm a hairs breadth from speaking to the work organizer and jacking it in. I have tried very hard to understand it, but when the answer to what am I supposed to do, comes back as, thats for you to find out, it totally leaves me cold.

I'll give it another week or so, but if I don't start to get a handle on this I am just going to end up as a disruptive influence on the group, which isn't what I want.


Friday, 1 October 2010

uggg and re-arrangments

Roti Express are a kind of surinamese curry delivery place, 1st one I had there I loved, 2nd one was ok...I just ordered a 3rd and it really didn't appeal, I couldn't finish it, going to leave it for later in case I get peckish.

I'm going to do a bit of rearranging of my amps and stuff upstairs. We had friends over at the weekend, and Martin who plays some mean guitar pointed out some issues with the way I have my pedals hooked up, and he's quite right of course. I am trying to feed them all in line to keep them hooked but it causes problems and you can hear vaious electronic hums from different pedals, I need to have 3 set ups..
1) clean right into the Marshall, with the Wah on the effects loop, miked to the mixer, I have a 2 channel Marshall, so can set my own overdrive on the amps own pedal. This gives me a range of sounds depending on the guitar going in.
2) via the multi fx pedal then into the clean tranny amp/mixer to get special effects and other amp modelling features.
3) acoustics in via the VL4 then into the mixer/tranny amp

The tranny amp is a small 30w cheetah, aside from an echo effect its extremely clean and does not distort the sound you feed it, so it can take a modified sound from the multi pedals and do its thing.

The Acoustics can also go through the tranny via an acoustic multi pedal, but I'll also have the VL4 which likes to keep its sound fx for itself..but will have a play.
That'll stop some of the bleed and signal clip we noticed and keep the electrics well squeely/grungy or whatever, and the acoustics nice and clean.

Need to get a few more cables though and another mic or 2 to feed the output into the mixer.

I think that's it now, I should be able to start making some recordings, not expecting much of course but being able to use the kit I have will be a big deal ;)


Monday, 27 September 2010

picking up where we left off

Harvey is in the dog house...we've barely spoken to him all day, and he knows he's cocked up somehow...but not quite sure how.

We've changed all the house locks, and Bina was able to get the car ignition system won't stop anyone getting into the car with the key but it will stop them driving off. The garage also very kindly put in a new stereo system to replace the nicked one (well they nicked the facia which was removed from the car and brought in) for almost nothing..

All told forked out about 320euro's to get things back to normal.

twats...and I lost my Ipod with all my lovley music and stuff, had to spend the morning changing all my passwords which were probably on the pod too, at least all the mail's were.

We're safe and secure now though, the whole thing happened becuase we were careless with locking up. That won't ever happen again.

As for Harvey...I'm giving serious thought to replacing him with an attack hamster, which will probably be more effective. Stupid dog barks at leaves flying past the windows, when friends come to the door, even if we come to the door...can't believe he didn't react this time. Annoyingly I heard the door open, but dismissed it as probably the neighbours since a certain mutt was not barking his head off.

oh well...lesson learned, move on.

I was going to blog about the great sunday dinner I cooked yesterday as a thank you to those who had helped us move in and settle, plus a few hangers on ;). The meal was awesome, I was really pleased everyone enjoyed it and as usual there were lots of suprised faces when such nice dishes were served up and tasted as good as they looked. I havn't felt like cooking in a long time so it was nice to do that, and not have any major cock ups...apart from the whipping cream splitting, when I was making they had clotted cream raspbery shortbreads instead.
I had to improvise a bit though on a trip to the supermarket but never the less I made

Goats cheese brie and caramalised red onion with basil in a crisp smoked ham case with a puff pastry cheese parcel top, on a bed of creamed leeks and a side of butter tossed Chantrelle mushrooms

Slow Roasted Leg(s) of overnight marinated lamb (lemon, thyme, rosemary,sage) , with roast herb potatoes, boiled potatoes, home made rich yorkshire puds and roasted pumpkin and carrots served with stock/dressing made gravy.

Shortbread biscuit base with crunchy whipped cream (add crushed biscuits before serving), topped with fresh raspberrys and clotted cream, drizzeled with reduced Raspberry syrup (seeds in).

For 8 people and it all went smoothly, only thing I didnt make myself was the puff pastry, I always buy ready made squares and the biscuits for the crunchy cream.

I wasn't totally happy with the starter, the ham which was used to line individual cake holes in a 6 hole tin as if it was pastry, crisped up nicely in the tin ok but it stuck fast during cooking. So I had to prise it out with a spoon which made it lose its shape a bit, but I managed to disguise that on the creamed leek base...
Next time..grease the tin. Oh and the puff didn't rise as much as I wanted (maybe I should make my own), but everyone loved it...and while they were eating it I was able to get my yorshire puds on, which were fantastic and puffed right up.

The clotted, rather than whipped cream was actually a fantastic accident, I'll have to see if I can do that every time (basically I let the cream get warm before I whipped it)

Was a really great meal and a really great day with friends.


But he always barks!!!

Our little dog Harvey goes nuts when anyone comes to the door or window.

Every time!

Except last night when we had burglers, it seems he slept right through that...

Dammit, our little idyl has been tarnished a little by some local scrots. Our fault....well mine really, I didn't check the door/gate was locked before bed and they just came in and helped themselves to a few disposable items..Ipods, phones, car radio facia,old video camera, DS, maybe a couple of other thing's we'll discover as we go.

They also took a small tub we keep our keys in, so now we have to go and change the car and house locks as soon as possible. That will be more costly than the items pocketed.

Annoyingly I heard the door opening last night, after 3....thought that was odd...but ignored it becuase Harvey didn't bark.



Thursday, 23 September 2010

Back to the UK....

Got an ok from the boss to have my 1st ever oversea's conference...shame its in the UK, I was hoping for Vegas, or Toyko, but instead I am going to be in Liverpool of all places :D in November :(

Its all part of a presentation and conference thats happening for 2 days with our Sony Education program, as we're one of the 1st members we get to go and show off anything we've done by then. After that, there's a bit of good old fashioned geek fest game confence, Develop Liverpool, where I am sure I'll bump into a lot of old friends and collegues, propping up the bar's I am sure.

I might also get a chance to pop to Lyon for a couple of days also in November for Game Connection...not quite so geeky but a good chance to shmooze and increase our visibility in the industry...oh if you think industry geeks can really should see how industry bosses handle a bar..its a sight to behold.

Quite like the idea of jetsetting around again even if its only Europe.


Friday, 17 September 2010

Pig in Shit

My little corner of the attic playroom


Personality tests...

I had to take a personality test today as part of a course I am doing....what a load of balls... here's part of it.

Note especially the anchor thing...I mean...seriously..I am a games coder, I do boring repetitive task as a matter of course and have so far worked on nearly 70 projects in my professional career to completion...Thats my job, something I take seriously and am well known for my ability to see things through.

Makes you wonder really, if it can get such a basic aspect of my personality so fundamentally and demonstrably wrong, how can you take any of the other assessments of my personality as accurate.. It also suggests I am not a risk taker because I have no entrepreneurial aspirations...It fails to take into account that I have had a successful business in the past and have already been there done than and frankly lost interest in it, also having cancer makes life a little more focused on the important things..

We all like to read nice things about ourselves, and its a fact most people will recognise faults in themselves if someone points it out, whether its true or not...but the idea that an on-line test could "accurately" provide some kind of insight into the kind of person you are is nonsense..

In this case, the test was part of an education course to provide some kind of self reflection, I don't know exactly how its going to be used to forward the course but I am going to point how just how demonstrably flawed it is when it is discussed.

But there are companies who make serious hiring decisions based on things like this....I honestly think you'd be better off examining the entrails of a goat than looking at rubbish like this.


Sunday, 12 September 2010

Normality is cool

Had an awsome and busy week at work with the students, no tiredness or speech issues got in the way, and it was great to be back at it after 4 months. I know my bosses were a teeny bit worried I had come back too soon but those fears were soon dispelled.

As the summer finally draws to a close we need to try now to arrange for our housewarming party before autumn really kicks in, ideally including a BBQ, though looking out the window at the rain, that may be less possible than I'd like, but booze and party nibbles followed by some poker should be quite possible.

Been out a few times with our new collegues, some eating and drinking has been getting done to help them find their way around and all seem to be enjoying Breda's delights.

Home wise, Bina and I had a bit of a snit at the start of the week, which resulted in a couple of days sulking,...ah well. Sorted in the end....(she was wrong of course ;) )

Got to do a bit more tidying up upstairs, I now have an almost complete recording studio up there, kinda bizzare given the fact I can barely play and certainly can't sing or rap, but its all good fun, so long as I don't expose my efforts to any poor unsuspecting listners..I tend to mess about when everyone is out. I'm going to put my guitars up on the wall after the work is done to make a bit more space up there.

We have still not heard back from our builder about the boxing off of the door area in the attic which will make it a bit more sound proof. Seems he's busy on a current job for a collegue and dealing with a new baby. I will need to chase him.


Sunday, 5 September 2010

Loving my Ipad, but hating Itunes

People go on and on about how much they hate Itunes...personally its never bothered me in the slightest. Fire it up, buy stuff or import a CD and there you go...runs on your ipod/iphone as expected.

Then I bought an Ipad...which I have to say is a fantastically geeky gadget that I am going to really enjoy doing some coding on when my PSP thing is finished.

Because I bought it in HollandI set it up with my address and credit card details for the app store and itunes...and was all ready to get started when it refused to let me install any apps complaining my card details and post code were invalid..??
Oh ok a bit of investigation later showed I still had the territory set to UK and was therefore expecting a UK postcode and card.

Ok so into the settings, chance the location to NL and voila...everything goes in fine...except of course now I only have access to the Dutch Itunes store in Dutch..

NOTE to in a location does not automatically mean you speak the language!!!!!


Saturday, 4 September 2010

slightly less rich, cos I'm stupid

I paid for my dark fire with a paypal transfer..pretty standard way to do business on ebay of course, but I didn't realise that when doing certain types of transfers which result in lower can't use the credit card.

So...I accidently dented my bank account rather than my planned credit card/pay over a few months. I believe the correct term for this is...doh!!

So in some ways it was just as well I got that bonus this month or I'd have been paying for lunch with the credit card due to lack of cash.

The Dark Fire has arrived at mums though and even she was impressed when the chap opened it up to show her...this is a women who when shown my Gibosn Lucille, said it was very nice...very nice...the sexiest thing ever made with wood and strings by mans hands...very nice!!! So she is hard to please, but thought the DF was top class. Am sure Bina will think the same?

Still need to shift the Explorer though, I have a few people interested, just have to work out some kind of payment plan.

Its been a good week at work, I'm not quite properly organised yet, but I am almost on top of things. The paperwork before classes is a pain but nearly there now..just got to polish up my slides and read a bit of reference material and I'm good to go.

2 weeks in and classes start on Monday, I can't wait I am really excited to meet all the new 1st years, and be reunited with my new 3rd years as we start doing console coding in our new secure console room..going to be a busy but fun week.


Wednesday, 1 September 2010

I'm still rich

It wasn't a mistake, it was a bonus for having an outstanding evaluation this last year, which I am totally overwhelmed by. I knew my evaluation was good and that my managers were happy with my work, but I did not know it came with a cash bonus.

I love this place....I love this job, and it seems people are loving the way I do awesomely cool is this? In all my years working in the Games Industry it was a never ending struggle for recognition and cash, and when I finally decide to backout of it, I get both...damn I wish I'd come here 10 years ago.

Better not tell Bina, she'll be wanting to spend it on a holiday or something....oops.


Sunday, 29 August 2010


Theres a crack in the heel of the neck in my Breedlove 12 string...oh dammit...Thats the 1st time i've had it out since we moved so I guess its possible something happened then.

It does not appear to be unstable and may only be a varnish/surface crack, but it is still a crack, I'll take it to a luthier and see if its a problem...dammit...

I think the household insurance will actually cover this, but I'm dam annoyed at the fact its possibly damaged


Kicked out, so make the most of it.

Bina had a girly dinner party, so I was tactfully requested to leave the building. Which is fine, as me and a few other colleagues from work had agreed to go out for a few drinks anyway..Sadly...for them, they cried off, and I ended up on my lonesome for a few hours before the 1 brave soul and his partner were able to meet up.

Time then to indulge in one of my favourite things....eating

I went to Ganache in town, its a really nice fine dining restaurant, but with no Michelin stars it's affordable. The food is always amazing, wonderfully presented and changes every week so you never quite know what your are going to be able to get. I love trying their surprise 5 course menu where its the chefs job to impress you.

Of course I don't normally do this on my own but I was hungry and had time to kill so off I went. this week was apparently restaurant week in Breda so the menu was 3 courses with a choice of meat/fish for starter and mains. All good stuff even if I have no idea what the whole restaurant week is and why it resulted in a reduced menu on this visit.

The waitress spoke perfect English, with a Dublin accent after 3 years there she told me, and offered me a selection of wines with each course, after my prosecco to get things started, I thought why not.

I ordered, Roast smoked duck starter, with a veal main course. The dessert was a ginger biscuit crusted amaretto ice cream and a raspberry sauce.

I had a really fantastic but slightly sad meal...mainly because my sense of taste and ability to move food around my mouth are still not quite 100%, excessive chewing is a little painful too.

The looks and smell was amazing, but its hard to really get the flavour when you can only put a tiny morsel into your mouth on one side....ah well its getting better so I can't complain.

The wines though...hmm I liked the starter wine, a Syrah with lots of nice earthy flavours and dryness to cut through the smokey duck, but the Medoc that came with the veal was too heavy, as was the 10 year old port sauce, but it was tasty...the dessert wine though, a Semmion/Sauvingon blanc blend, was wrong, with the bitter ginger biscuit crust and heavy amaretto flavour of the ice cream a sweeter wine might have been better...

oh hark at me the food/wine critic?

I topped it off with a fine expensive brandy and staggered out of the restaurant more than a little tipsy, which forced me to stick to coffee when I met up with my colleague and his partner for drinks the time the Martell finally got into my system I was quite pissed.

Aside from a few steak restaurants, this was my first "fancy" meal since the op and its nice to get back to normal again, even if I can't shove it down my gob like I used to..I can at least take some inspiration from the meal to do some more cooking again, which I've not really done much of, again since the op....hmmm

Making Roast Lamb for dinner today....ahh theres a story there too...I went to Ken Markt in town, which is a turkish store, to buy a shoulder of lamb after seeing a great recipe on BBC Saturday kitchen. But when I got to the counter they had none on show but they did have a single Lamb Shank...Now slow braised lamb shanks is one of my favourite dishes, so I asked them in my terrible dutch if they had 2 more of those shanks....twee lams bout..after a bit of a translation issue I made it clear(???) I wanted 2 lams off the butcher goes into the back and brings back a whole sheep...ermmm...and proceeds to chop off the back legs and holds them up for me quoting 60 euros....

At this point I realised I had actually asked for 2 Lambs Legs...whole legs...oops.. I was about to correct him when I though..bugger it, we love lamb, and it is hard to come by here, and this shop was selling a whole rear end of a sheep for 60euros...I can make a few roasts and also cut some up for curries and stews to last a month.

So I brought home a bunch of meat, and also some lemons and onions to slow roast at least some if it for Sunday dinner.

A bit of home Butchery later..I have my 2 lamb shanks for later slow braising, a few chunks of cubed lamb for curries, 4 roast joints and plenty of meat on the bones to make stock for some hearty broths...when I can find pearl barley that is.

Not bad for 60 euros..I spent more than that on my meal at Ganache.

Time to start getting my cooking mojo well as my other mojos which ran away screaming when I was ill :)


Thursday, 26 August 2010

I'm Rich!!!!!

But I suspect its only a mistake, I seem to have been overpaid by a fair margain and have had to 'fess up to the company to see how to resolve it...ahhh well...maybe they'll let me keep it ;) (positive thoughts Brian, positive thoughts, maybe its a bonus for ummm.....comic relief?)

Work is proving to be a great thing, yes I get a bit tired from it after the excitemet of the 1st day but it is really great to be back. I have been getting my head round setting up our new PS3 dev kits which of course is really strange. Fortunately I myself won't be teaching much on the PS3 this block so we have time to get it all set up and ready before the stdents are let loose.
We are setting up a dedicated secure room for all our consoles and networking them so that we can be sure the kits are not messed with or used for things we do not allow.

This of course is the Sony edu program, Nintendo and Microsoft don't have education programs and in Nintendo's case usually cite "security" issues as the reason they won't allow us to teach with their kits.

Its a problem I have raised several times and will probably continue to raise, but I think its important. We can't teach console coding to students without actual consoles.
Sony's initiative to allow universities to have dev kits is a sound and sensible decision which they should be thanked for. Nintendo, who I have always had a soft spot for with their easy to code machines, should join in...maybe one day.


Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Back to work :D

Back to work today, a good full day, it was awesome and I had a ball being back with the team again.

During the holidays we also had our new Sony PS2 and PS3 dev kits delivered so I got to open up a couple of boxes and tinker away, was waaaayyy cool.


Sunday, 22 August 2010

Hello & Goodbye

Hello to this stunning little beauty

Yup a Gibson Dark of only 4000 made worldwide, part of Gibsons experiment with new electronics and auto tuning which eventually culminated in the disgusting Dusk Tiger. But the Dark fire is something of a work of art I have to say. I wanted one for quite some time but they are pricey and don't come up for sale often at all in Europe. The do show up sometimes in the US ebay but the thought of buying another expensive guitar (like Lucille),waiting months then getting hit with a huge customs bill did not appeal.

I won't say what I paid for it, but it was a really good price as its in immaculate, played at home condition with only 1 owner from new. The seller has agreed to wait till I can shuffle some money around before delivering it to my mums house, since they live in the same town and I'll pick it up next time I am over.

Sadly though, I have to say goodbye to at least one of my other Gibsons to fund this, the Explorer and/or the Les Paul studio. I have interest in the Explorer though so will see if I can shift that 1st, nice as it is, its not really my style of guitar and it needs a better home.



I thought I was in Holland but I'm actually in somnia.


bored...thankfully I still have so I can catch up on the terrible X factor auditions.

But that wee zimbabwean girl with the scots accent fom her 5 years in sconny botland, was something
There was also a strange moment with that odd G&S couple....the girl could clearly sing really well, but her friend was a total waste of could he be so deluded, and more important how come she never once said to him you can't it like this, like this........people are wierd....especially on reality pop shows eh!


Wednesday, 18 August 2010

building up to the return

We go back to work next week, around 2 weeks before our students arrive to give us time to prep our courses and get all our paperwork and other academic stuff set up and ready.

Theres a few issues with my schedule at the moment, I seem to be teaching some extra classes I am not supposed to, and also I have no work at home day which is usually allocated for marking and prep, but I am sure this will be resolved before we start.

I am really excited about getting back to work. I've popped back a few times to the office before the summer break, but have not really done anything in anger since just before my operation in April.

It's been too long to be idle. I don't object to having days off, but being physically or mentally restricted from doing much really does get very boring very soon. The few bits of DIY and unpacking I've been doing have kept me busy but its not the same as dealing with a class of students.

A few people have urged me not to rush back to work, but I'm sorry I really must, it is important to me to get back to doing something I enjoy and regain the normality that cancer has taken away from me.

Every day I am getting a bit fitter, and the discomfort levels are reducing. I can't quite speak at classroom volumes for prolonged periods but that just means I need to make my presentation slides a bit more interesting and explanitory. I'm sure in 2-3 weeks I'll have my tongue and voice back to something usable.

I really am excited about the new academic year, a whole new group of eager students with some occasionally brilliant insights into their career paths and of course the total dreamers who are convinced they will have a Ferrari next year while being quite happy to let their software be sold for free.

hehe, I love my job, getting to prick the balloons of these dreamers and at the same time see talents blossom in very short periods of time. I suppose I should go do some coding ;)


Saturday, 14 August 2010

10 years and 1 day

Yesterday, was the anniversary of the 1st time I met Bina, 10 year ago.

I wish I had been able to take her out for a romantic candle lit dinner to celebrate the event but sore mouth and tiredness from the treatment and meds made it all a bit impractical so we spent the day together, and attempted to spend a romantic evening watching for the persied meteors..which were obscured by clouds and have also resulted in Bina catching a chill...not the greatest 10 year anniversary ever..but I will make it up to her when my health and time allow.

Its been an incredible 10 years, a few low points of course as you have in most relationships, the worst caused us to split up for a year, which had the effect of making me face up to the fact I was a pretty hopeless human being without the stability that comes from being part of a true partnership.

Bina is my other half in so any ways, a calming steady voice when I want to rush in, and a force for change when things aren't right. hmmm this isn't sounding all that romantic is it? This is also where Bina is my opposite, able to express her feelings for me in ways that make it sound like she is describing someone totally different to the fat, grumpy, middle aged foul mouthed scotsman who's feeling a bit worn out and sorry for himself. She makes me feel like Brad Pitt....only smarter.

I don't know any other way to describe her except she is the 1 person in my life, who has made me feel good when I feel bad, made me feel confident when I've felt insecure, made me laugh when I was sad and for 10 years, 10 whole years...with probably much needed years break, has found me to be a funny wonderful person and made me feel truly loved.
In truth, she's the most wonderful beautiful warm person who has ever come into my life. whatever ups and downs our life has for us now I can't imagine ever being without her. I know how horrible that was. I don't deserve her, I really don't. I am nothing without her and I love her with all my heart and soul even if I have no adequate way to ever express that.

I'd like to sign up for 10 more years please with an option for 50 more.


Thursday, 12 August 2010

Garden furniture and cosy cardies

I know I am getting older, but I somehow never realised how much older I was getting. Having once again joined the ranks of the owner occupiers of the world, I am starting to look at the world differently.

Like, hmm lets get some nice garden furniture to make best use of what's left of summer. buying garden furniture?? I am getting old...All thats left now is for me to stock up on cardigans to wear while outside sat on the wicker chairs we we just bought at a local store......I did manage to haggle him down a bit though.

I must offset this tendency towards old age and retirement thinking, by buying the biggest most sophisticated BBQ I can find. I've seen a few of those gas ones with mega burners o them...oh yes...that'll do nicely.


Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Flatulence has returned

I am very proud to report, that after a short and noticable break, flatulence has once again become part of my life.

I'd like to thank all those responsible for giving me back this gift to humanity, and of course to you dear reader for bothering to read this far.

Actually this is a side effect of my reducing my morphine doses and my bowels starting to fire up again. But where there's a fart, there life, so lets rejoice in that rather pungent tang while we can.


Monday, 9 August 2010

Internet, oh how I've missed you

Strictly speaking we've not really been without, there was an unsecured signal available in the area, we think from the local car dealership at the end of our street. It was weak and we could only see a bar or so when sat up in the attic holding our laptops at just the right angle, but we certainly didn't go without.
Not quite as bad as the Southpark internet is gone episode.
But now we have our own back, as well as our landline phone, so we can get our PC's, macs, and ipods all synced up again anywhere in the is good again, 20MB internet is an absolute joy when you have it.

I'll be downloading more aeroplane porn in no time.

The house is really starting to take shape now, more and more boxes have been cleared, the attic has had a couple of tidy ups and my guitars and recording gadgets now have their own special corner. I am missing several pedals and things which were in a drawer before we moved..but they've been transferred somehow and will be in a box somewhere.
My DIY efforts were not entirely successful, I simply could not drill the holes in the ceiling needed to fit the lights in the study, so we'll have to stick with lamps in there for now until I work out a solution. But the attic has light now, and soon the shed will too.

We have to get hold of some garden furniture soon, to make full use of our patio area while summer is still here, and also some shelving for the shed and attic. There's a cool outlet shop round the corner selling garden furniture and so on, but only open on weekends, so we'll pop round there this weekend.
A few more trips to Ikea are also on the cards, for a 2nd sofa for downstairs and cheap cheap cheap shelves to put my model collection in some kind of order in the shed.

I am planning to turn upstairs into a home cinema area with a large electric screen at one end of the room, but the only supplier I had lined up wants 150quid to ship to The Netherlands. Thats too much, so I'll try to locate someone in Holland or nearby, its a low priority task.

There's still some issues with our old apartment to deal with due to our collegue not taking it, the landlord has issued an ultimatum to clear it out by the 16th August or he'll fine us €1500. But we've had a word with them and they are extending the deadline till the 1st Sept, which hopefully will allow us to find another collegue who wants to take it on, or get the 1st collegue to go in and rip up the carpets and dispose of them.

Nothing very comedic happening here as you can tell, its all busy busy busy getting things unpacke and placed and seeing how things go as we settle in. We're starting to find lots of nice things we like, the afternoon sun on our balcony for example, and things we don't like, like the over abundance of mosquitoes. But overall we're really enjoying settling in.

Bina has agreed to let me have the study for the most part, and she will use some attic space for her work, unless myself or Jodie are up there disturbing her, so that seems a good compromise.

Went to the bank today to inform them of our change of address and sort out some credit cards and other essential things we need now we're officially settled in Holland.

Everything is looking good....mind you, I'm still stoned on Morphine, so its probably all really shit and I just don't care ;)


Sunday, 8 August 2010

DIY sucks

I just realised why my brothers house is always so well maintained. It's cos he's really good at DIY.
I however am not,never have been and thats why I have spent the last hour and all my enegry reserves trying to drill a 1/8" wide hole into the ceiling to mount the lights in the study. I have of course failed, since I need a hole at least 1 inch deep in which to place the rawl plugs...but I have managed to do about 1/4"....Not good, especially when you consider I have 3 more of these holes to drill.

I can't blame my tools, I bought a good cordless powerdrill with a hammer action and a full set of brand name bits, including masonery bits. But the bloody ceiling apears to be concrete re-enforced with diamond.. Man its hard work. Especially stood on step ladders holding a heavy drill up.

I am having to take a break and doing a quick google to see if I am missing a trick here...Perhaps I am. One DIY site suggests drilling pilot holes. So I will see if I can drill a smaller pilot hole any easier.

Some rooms I don't have to do any drilling, it all depends on the way the light fits. A few of them screw directly into the lighting wire casing with no trouble but some require extra support and those need drilling. If I can't get the 4 holes drilled in the study I shall have a go at the halls and attic before heading out to fit the light in the shed.

Once thats done though I think thats the hard stuff sorted. I have to dismantle, move and reassemble an Ikea shelving unit in the attic, then its up to the pro's to come in and fit a couple of walls to complete things.

Oh internet is still not on yet, I misread the text they sent, it should be on on Monday.

Anyway, better crack on, I hate DIY...wish my brother was here, he'd have it done in minutes.


Saturday, 7 August 2010

1 week on.

Having one of my late nights due to sore mouth, so been watching TV and doing a bit of internetting on my still leeched signal. We should have our own internet back on line tomorrow so no need to pop upstairs to get a 1 bar signal.

Funny how dependent we all get on the internet these days. I've even been getting into, I don't know why either, I am hoping its a fad that will fade quite soon.

Well its been a week, and I am starting to settle into the new house...mind you I have been mildly stoned the whole week and its hard to dislike anything when you're stoned :D

A small problem did crop up with the transfer of our apartment to our new collegue, who despite saying he wanted the apartment and us arranging with the landlord for him to take it, he decided when he saw it, that he didn't want it and opted for an identical, but empty apartment upstairs!!!!!
I didn't think our wallpaper was that bad, but meh!!

Not normally an issue you might think. except for the strange way things are done here in Holland, our apartment needed to be empty when we left or we had to have an arrangment in place with the new tennant to buy our stuff which we had agreed to leave.
Since our new collegue changed his mind at the last minute we no longer have a guarantee that the next tennant in our place is going to want our carpets and stuff. Even more annoying is the fact that we had to turn another home hunting collegue down becuase I promised this collegue the apartment as he asked 1st.

Oh its all a pain and complex, and might end up costing us a lot of money, but we'll have to just wait and see. There's a lot of bad shit that could happen but equally it might all work out just fine. Waiting and seeing is something I am getting quite used to now, so there's no point getting stressed out over worst case...if I did that I'd be in a helluva state with the potential worst cases I am facing.

While I am not at all happy at being put in this situation, the new collegue is equally upset about the hassle he's caused and we'll just have to try to sort it out as best we can.....might mean no more guitars for a while I suppose...oh..see there's always a silver lining.

The new house is really nice, but we do seem to be located in the middle of mosquito central, we've been getting bitten to buggery since we moved in..well I have at least. I've bought some of those plug in repellent gadgets to see if that helps, and will try to locate some of those citronel candles.
Course it could also be fleas, the last owners had a big old dog, and it might be his old guests trying to find some food....Harvey has been scratching a lot too, so maybe we need to wait for his frontline infected blood to kill them all and see what happens.

Bina and I stayed up till 2am last night, hoping to catch a rare glimpse of the Northern lights which were possibly going to be seen this far south due to some increased solar activity this week..We stood out on our balcony and looked to the skys for quite some time....then I got bored and went to bed. No lights unfortunatly despite the intense solar flares the last few days. All the same, its nice to have a balcony. I'll try to be a bit more romantic when less stoned.

Today was also my last RT treatment, as detailed on my cancer blog. So that also means a new routine to my days, no more having to work around my daily appointments. I've been warned to expect continued pain and increased bouts of tiredness over the next few weeks as part of the treatment after effects, but I think the only thing I care about is getting the painless use of my tongue back...Tiredness can always be cured with sleep or coffee :D

The Ovation guitar arrived today from the US, very nice indeed, though I am a teeny bit ticked off that its a Korean made one and not a US one...Part of the main reason I bought it was to get hold of one of the final US made ones, now that the US factory is being either closed or reduced...In fairness the ebay listing never stated US or Korean so its my fault for not checking, but it is a really sweet guitar and it will bring a lot of pleasure. I've always wanted an Ovation ever since I remember seeing Joan Armatrading play one back in the 70's/80's.
An attempt to purchase a silent classical guitar really cheap seems to have stalled though, the ebay seller is not responding to my requests to send me an invoice that includes the cost of shipping the The idea why, but if they don't do it I can't pay for it, and that deal looks like it will fold.

And finally, since I am starting to get tired. Our wonderful piece of art has attracted its 1st admirer. One of our neigbours popped round today and was checking it out. Bina was well pleased.
We have been speaking to the Artist about producing a personalised version of the updated 2010 image including a picture of us and our new house, he's happy to do that, so we are really pleased that we can get a 1 off piece of cool art that is totally personal to us. As soon as Jodie gets back from her holiday to her dads we're going to have a picture taken of the 4 of us (Harvey is part of the family) in front of our new home and then get that image included in a special Breda 2010 cool is that?

ok time for bed, this post is long enough.


Tuesday, 3 August 2010

wow....thats....ermmm hard??

I got my Ziggo box hooked up and yes its got a lot more english channels on it and the quality of the pic is much better than standard'll be cool to watch Spongebob Squarepants again in English :D (one of my guilty pleasures)

What I was surprised by though was the number of apparently free porn channels that come with the basic system. I certainly didn't order them..honest.

And when I say porn channels, I mean PORN channels, real hardcore stuff...real, real are things I did not know were possible, between men and women and men and men and men and...hang on is that a man or a woman???


I better see if I can work out how to do the parental lock on those, if not for Jodie then at least for the mothers-in-law when they come to visit..don't want them thinking we look at that stuff..often.


Monday, 2 August 2010

we moved

Move went well though took much longer than we expected, the new house is taking time to get into shape but 1 room at a time we are putting in the lights and furnishings to make it right.

No internet yet, but I am leeching some bandwidth from someones unsecured network for now to check mail and make a few posts.

Ours should be online by the 7th, maybe sooner.

I ordered a Ziggo cable TV box before we moved in, looks like I didn't need to as the basic channels already seem to be in place, but not to worry, it gives us a few more english channels while we try to sort out a satallite system.

Will update when I can, but 1st the study needs to be sorted.


Thursday, 29 July 2010

Big Move

Big move happens on Friday, exciting times, Bina's been organising everything to death in her usual way and getting stressed out. I've been a chocolate fireguard most of the time, between being too tired to give a damn and too stoned to know what to do; I've not been pulling my weight. But it looks like the combined efforts of Bina, Jodie and me, in that order, have finally pulled it off.

Pretty much everything is in boxes and ready to go, van's booked and our friend oscar is going to do the driving and new house is empty and ready for us to move in.

Going to be sad to leave this place, it has been a good home, and of course our 1st "home" here in Holland.
But exciting times ahead, a new home, a new start and with a bit of luck an end to the cancer crap.

Internet may not be available for a few days after our move so not sure if I'll be updating for a while.

But where there's a will there's usually a group of greedy money grabbing relatives.....or summit.


Monday, 26 July 2010

heart still ruling head.

We found a 2009 version and indeed a 2010 version but we are not so keen on the 2010 becuase he superimposed the famous Valasquez painting over the image, see here it didn't work for me. We contacted the artist directly and he's happy to supply us with a 2009 version at much less than we paid the gallery.

We're debating whether to have it as a standard framed print or as an interesting idea he suggested of printed on metal and covered in liquid glass....we have no idea what that is,but he is going to send us an example to let us consider it.

eh by eck, this art lark is quite good fun i can feel the sophistimication levels rising daily :D


Saturday, 24 July 2010

heart rules head

We bought it.

There was a twist, The internet pic was the 2009 edition of his work, it appears he updates it every year, and includes new landmarks and things he missed before.. Ours is a 2006 edition, which has some missing details, especially some of the modern art and the new Must See cinema.

That does not detract at all from the beauty of the work though, and now I am going to try to hunt out a 2010 version to buy and make it a comparison piece :D


Art that moves you

Bina and I are agonising over a decision to buy a piece of art thats on display at a local art shop..we're agonising because its stunningly beautiful and also quite expensive...not Picasso expensive but nearly a grand is a lot for us.

What do you think? Though looking at it on computer is just no substitute for viewing the real thing, it is stunning and large, over a metre wide, its a limited edition of 15, fancy digital collage of photographic images of the landmarks around Breda mixed brilliantly with period sketches and drawings. The more you look at it the more you recognise pieces of the town, from the imposing old Church to some of the wacky modern art.

there's a more detailed zoom in view available here

We're going to sleep on it and see if its still available tomorrow, Bina tried to haggle over the price but the lady in the shop would not budge as she has others interested..if thats true, we need to make a decision tomorrow.

hmmm hmmm hmmmm I suppose it makes more sense than buying a guitar ;) And it would really look fantastic in our new home, a fantastic representation of our new city.

We'll see if hearts overrule heads in the morning, or if fate will make the choice for is when we wander past the shop tomorrow.