Sunday, 28 June 2015


Time to be a bit creative, even though last month was a bumper month with the bonus and tax rebate, there was also a couple of very big bills that needed paying, and I seem to have gone a bit mad with gadgets and toys...damn you paypal and your delayed payment system which still need paying.

I'm broke, before we even start the month off., might even go into the red in a few days...fortunately I have plenty of food in the freezer, and some spending cash in my wallet, but I've got to tread carefully this month and not waste a single cent on anything I don't need.

Its also about time I sold off some old things like my old projector and other odds and ends lying raise a bit of cash.

With the summer holidays round the corner I can relax a bit, no need to be spending 5euros a day on bad canteen food. (I really really must get into a habit of taking lunch with me)
Its at times like this I really appreciate the mid month tax rebate from the mortgage that provides a bit of extra spending money but its still 2 weeks away, so the freezer, which is full of nice frozen curry, mince and tatties and a few other nice things will be emptied by then.

I will pop out and use the last of my cash to buy some mince and chicken to make a few more 1 pot dishes to freeze, so I won't be starving.

I've been trying to get hold of a bit of freelance work again, last year I had several gigs all lined up but couldn't get them to commit, and Sony's killing of their really nice PSM system has put paid to one especially nice gig that I had in progress.

The Z80 project has now been dragging on far too long too, its time to put in a full time push and finish it... I have let it slide far too much, due to pressures of work, and serious miscalculation of how bloody awkward it is to do anything significant in any kind of timescale.
Its been a very educational process for me as a coder, to step back 20-30 years and realise how hard it all was then, I genuinely had forgotten...yes we did a lot of games then but we had libs and tools to make it easier. We've lost all those.
I dunno if I want to do any more, I think my enthusiasm has been damaged by the constant stop start progress, but perhaps it might be a better idea to write some proper tools for it to make development easier....its a tiny market when all said and done, but an apparently loyal I should consider it if I can churn them out fast enough.


Thursday, 25 June 2015

3.13 and still awake, so marking

I have pretty much got all but a couple of awkward things marked now...just in time for another influx of assignments tomorrow...fortunately its not going to be more than a days work.

I'd rather be in bed asleep, but the satisfaction of finally getting on top of my grades is keeping me going...maybe that's the cause of the insomnia?

This academic year has been a busy one for me, not quite sure why, normally I get at least 1 reasonably quite block, but its been 4 blocks of madness, doing 1st and 2nd year beginner programmers as well as some advanced stuff...

We change to a new system next year, with a cumulative marking system, so these long sessions should be a thing of the past... Even if the whole thing goes pear shaped and needs fixing that 1 single feature is something to preserve..

It wont of course, a lot of smart people are planning all these changes, there' will be a few hiccups, but we'll get it sorted, and I can look forward to being more productive as a coder, and enjoying working with projects from my students.

Next year will be a good one, I'm sure of it.


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Redemption maybe?

I worked out how to open the fuse cover on the monitor has indeed blown..That may be a good sign, if the fuse blew before anything else, which of course it is designed to do,  it may still be serviceable...
Even better news the fuse box contained a SPARE.....brilliant..

I'll just pop it in, plug it in and....oh no....won't get caught with that again..

I've ordered a cheap step down transformer from ebay, no point buying an expensive one if it turns out that I did fry the inside. Hopefully this will work...and I won't have to go spending another 130 euros on a monitor......

In other news...oh god I'm knackered, 3 days of constant marking, and helping students when in the office, plus a long meeting...and I still have at least 1 days marking to do...then ...more to come....I hate marking. I had a few hours break for band practice, but just done another couple of hours..and off to bed, hopefully the insomnia that has bothered me the last few weels won't get in the way of a good 7 hours..



Friday, 19 June 2015

How can you be soooo Stupid.

I can't believe what I did actually started a few weeks ago, when I ordered a small and very portable personal monitor as part of our new audio set up for the band.
I had tried to order it vie Thomann in Germany, my favourite on line supplier of all things music...but they ran out just as I was ordering and the order was refused.grrr

So I scanned around and found another supplier, in the US..but shipped to EU with prices in Euro's...only 12 euros more, so I thought ok....and ordered it.

It arrived yesterday, and indeed it is exactly as ordered, the same as bandmate Richard got (he must have got the last one from Thomann).

It had a US power cable to a 3 pin kettle lead, but no worries have loads of kettle leads with EU plugs...(why didn't the bell ring at this point)

So I get hold of one, plug it in, and the blue light comes on...and immediately goes off....with a pop sound.
Arrhhh,,,,why didn't I check the voltage..this isn't identical to the Thomann one ...IT'S A US ONE...its 110v...

Despite almost every single EU device being dual voltage and auto or sometimes manual switching, US gear is nearly always fixed to 110v... I blew it up feeding it good old EU 220v.

I can't send it grrrrrrrrrr.... It might be fixable, but even if it is I'd need to buy a step down transformer to get it to work...not worth the effort....sooooooo stupid.
I checked the website to see if it stated that it was US voltage, and yes there was a little banner (which I missed somehow) that stated they were all US config....... I somehow missed it.
The moral.....don't be a dickhead...


Thursday, 18 June 2015

Free power

I very much doubt it, but according to my monitoring meter, during the day when there is decent sunshine, and I'm just sat watching tv...I'm using no energy... or at least not enough to register.
Making a brew or turning on  the PC (now with triple monitors) does bump up the usage to measurable levels but its pretty clear my panels are paying their way so far.. 4 -5 years from now I'll be loaded ;)

Am almost on my last legs now, crawling to the end of the year, one more marking splurge then I can drown myself in a bottle or 50 and stay unshowered and soiled for 6 weeks holiday...can't wait.

I won't though, not for more than a week at least.  I plan to get some videos made using some new gear I've acquired over the last several months, but not had the time to really get into. I'm especially loving a new ribbon Mic I bought (actually I bought 2, a cheap one and a not so cheap one but still budget) These things actually make me sound quite nice when singing....well... we'll see when I do the recordings.

My last couple of recording efforts as well as our disaster gig in Breda, seriously knocked my confidence for singing...its only the application of toys and effects that is bringing me back into it..I just hope the results are worth posting.

 I also have to get some time to play and learn how to use my Launchpads with Ableton Live. In fact lots of little toys I have bought this year have so far been on the shelf waiting for time to play. I'll have to remedy that.

2 more weeks of "teaching", and 4 of marking....then free....freeeeeee.....freeeeeeee


Monday, 8 June 2015

Start counting the cash

Well the pennies at least. My panels are up on the roof and clamped down to their frames, pointing south.

They are quite heavy but I still think I need to weigh them down with some sandbags/concrete... I'll do that in a day or 2.

There's room for a couple more up there but I'll stick to these 2x250w jobs and see how it goes.

I really have no idea if this is going to generate much income but I like the idea that I am cutting some of my power usage and putting a bit back into the grid...if it works. There's no way to actually tell..My meter seems to be showing a slight drop in power usage but sub 100w's if the figures are to be believed, but its so variable its impossible to tell.

I have to have a new meter fitted on Thursday and maybe that will give me some idea of the feedback into the grid..


Saturday, 6 June 2015

Why do we post things on blogs an twitter?

I'm very active on Facebook, mainly as a source of amusement, information and occasional rants.....I kinda like Facebook, I probably post too often but its rare that I have full blown blow outs on there...unless very very drunk. or someone is just outright mad or wrong....its the OCD in me that has trouble letting go I think.
I make a point of only including people I actually know on FB, with a few exceptions that relate to work or special interests, its only my actual friends who are on there. The ones who know when I'm being a dick and don't mind telling me.

Here I post blogs as a form of therapy, originally to monitor my moods in case of depression, but more  now just to keep a record of things for friends and family that I am not in regular touch with.. .I look back on many of the posts myself sometimes wincing, sometimes with sadness and often with joy.
I have such a bad memory that many times I read things back and its all new to me maybe a sign of senility....but its still nice to know the last 7 years of so of ups and downs as well as level flying have been noted for the future.

But twitter leaves me cold, I simply do not get seems to  me that the vast majority of tweets, are made by people pontificating,  or boasting about their current activity....  There's an endless race to collect followers by being more and more interesting or more and more controversial, and in someway that number of followers makes you important.
 Its basically just a massive ego wank fest....listen to me..I'm saying something important, re-tweet for the world to get the pleasure of it all too...

I have to use it, some work colleagues release info on it and I have to keep in touch with things...but man....its a pile of wank.
Nothing your average person posts or says is even remotely important to anyone except themselves and those around them...kidding yourself that your truncated utterances have any relevance to the "twitterverse" is just delusional nonsense.... I hope I never get that deluded.

Today I tweeted that I have got my panels ready to mount.... WHY THE FUCK would anyone care??

I suspect I will quickly be removing myself from my 56 followers pretty soon for another prolong period of twitter indifference.


Friday, 5 June 2015

Panel delays and new sounds

I cricked my back trying to lift a panel to fit the converters to it...nothing major, but enough to make me think twice about fitting them till its healed. Also the weather until today has been wet and windy, so not ideal roof weather... this weekend though we'll be up
 and plugging it all in.It seems I do need to have my meter changed to get full advantage of the possible rebates and that's being organised now.

Its rather galling that as we approach what is going to be the hottest brightest weekend of the year I still have no panels up...but soon...soon.

In other news, I bought a new mic, I wanted to get hold of a proper tube mic on ebay but my efforts to get one at my kind of budget failed (came very close but got sniped so often) so I opted for something else, a budget ribbon mic, these are old style mics which are not ideal for performance but great in I'm told....and I wanted to see what they sounded like without breaking the bank, since high end versions can cost many hundreds (as can high end tubes)
I have to say I am mega impressed with this, 60euros , less than the cost of my budget condenser mic but the sound from this thing seems so much softer and rounder.. I've only listened to it through headphones so far but I'll do some recordings soon and maybe get some confidence back into my singing.
It does indeed give a warmer and thicker sound, but for me more importantly I don't need to force my voice or sing loud, it pics up even the quietest vocals in its pickup zone...really sweet.

I do hope when I record something and listen back I don't get as upset as I did last time I tried to do some singing tests....I never claim to be a singer, but I hate when I sing something thinking its nice and listen back to a drowning cat.