Desktop IntelliPanel

September 10, 2008

I was looking for an 8 way extension lead for my desktop (I just have way too many things that need to be plugged in to the computer and the power  at the same time) when I came across this. It’s a neat device – when I turn the computer off, either completely or in standby mode, it shuts off the power to all the other sockets. When I turn the computer back on the sockets get their power back and everything comes back on. It’s also surge protected so has given me the sockets I need, it’ll save a bit of energy when the computer’s not running and it’s a bit quieter without all those fans running. Cool!

24 Hours Later…

September 3, 2008

A 9 on the last at Sand Martins results in a round of 99. That’s the 2nd time I’ve broken 100 in a week. This is a great result for me and I am really pleased. The 9 on the last could have been so much better, 122 yards to go after 2 shots but then a fat shot into a bunker, 2 to get out of the bunker, chipped out the back, duffed chip back…it felt like the wheels were well and truly coming off, but a 9 was good enough. Looking back on the round there were some great moments…a birdie on the 2nd, a big fading drive on the long par 5 resulting in a par, the chip out of long rough over a pond on 17 to set up a 4.

Sand Martins is a fabulous course. It’s like playing 2 different courses as the front and back nines are so different. The front 9 is like a parkland course. Smooth, wide fairways and you need to go a long way offline to find deep rough. The back 9 is like a links. Big mounds, deep bunkers, narrow fairways and rough that seems to swallow balls (my playing partner lost 2 ball that seemed to be no more than 2 yards into the rough). 2 par 5s separated by a par 3 over water make a tough closing set of holes as well especially when the wind is blowing.


September 3, 2008

This year my holiday with the boys was a little different; my girlfriend came along too. This wasn’t as straightforward as it might be as my ex insisted that she meet her before she got to go on holiday with the boys. The meeting seemed to go remarkably well by all accounts and we all headed up north to the North Yorkshire coast, Filey to be exact. We had a great week, my parents came to stay for a few days (2 nights turned into 3), I had the best birthday in years and the weather was mostly kind. The best bit by far was seeing how the 4 of us got on so well. No arguments, no shouting, just great fun and a lot of laughs. Nickelback’s Rockstar became the holiday sing-a-long song in the car and it was great to have something that was "ours". Staying in a caravan brought back lots of childhood memories as did scrambling around in the rock pools. The boys loved this aspect of it and were asking when they could go back as soon as we left. It’s really nice to see your kids enjoying the things you used to enjoy at their age and even better seeing them enjoy themselves outside, in the fresh air without a computer or PSP in sight. All in all it was a huge success. Can’t wait to do it again.

Duffing the last

September 2, 2008

After playing the magnificent course at Pitlochry with it’s stunning views, blind tees and greens and steep uphill climb for the first 3 holes I then played my best ever round at the local 18 hole course, finally breaking 100. Delighted is an understatement. Last night we played the local 9 hole course and despite not hitting the ball very well got round in a respectable score. Tonight was a different matter; still not striking the ball fantastically well but the 8s were staying off the card. Until the 9th. A 10. A bloody 10. A disastrous 10. A "why do I bother with this stupid bloody game" 10. It was still a reasonable score but a 10 really hurts and a 10 on the last hurts more than any other; there’s no next hole to try to make amends on, no next shot to put it behind you on. You just have to finish the round and write the 10 on the card…and go home.

New Golf Clubs

August 18, 2008

I’ve been "playing" for a couple of years now but don’t have a handicap. My beginners set had served me pretty well but I was in a bit of a rut. The more-than-occasional 9 on the score card was getting to me and I wasn’t enjoying playing as much as I had been. Then American Golf had an offer on a set of Mizuno MX-17 clubs. I tried them in the shop and they felt great. My girlfriend offered to pay some of the cost as a birthday present and I couldn’t wait to get them. As a final hurrah I played the local 9 hole course using just my old irons and did ok. Urged on by the new clubs I set myself a couple of goals for the rest of the summer. First to break 50 at least twice for 9 holes and to get a proper handicap. The first goal was achieved in under a week of having the Mizunos. I went from mid 50s to high 40s after 2 rounds.

I also bought a TaylorMade R7 Draw driver and a Wilson Deep Red rescue club. As of now I’m not hitting either particularly well and think this is mainly down to thinking about it too much. My old driver and rescue were never favourite clubs and I need to get my head game sorted as much as my hand position through contact.

Yesterday I played 18 holes with the new set for the first time and it was a disaster. My swing deserted me, I didn’t hit a single fairway for the first 9 holes and it was only my putting that saved me from complete embarrassment. Tonight I need to head to the range and see what I was doing so wrong. Instead of being downbeat I’m pretty optimistic that I can work it out and start swinging well again. I want to get out and play again and prove it.

Geek Week

July 23, 2008

It’s been one of those weeks where I seem to be in full geek mode. I’ve been playing around with the new iGoogle interface, upgraded my O2 Stellar to the new Windows Mobile 6.1 ROM, switched pretty much all my browsing to Firefox 3, been blown away by the image wall that is PicLens, swapped to Windows Live Writer as my  blogging tool and been controlling my phone from the desktop using MyMobileR (screen shot below). This last one is very cool – it’s like remote desktop for a Windows Mobile phone. Sending SMS, recording bank transactions, uploading photos onto Live Mesh is so much easier using a full size keyboard


BT update

July 12, 2008

Got home last night to find that both telephone line and broadband are back and working normally. A couple of hours later I get a text from BT… “BT Fault update. We are still working on this fault. We will update you again. Thank You”. As I said in my last post, when it comes to BT, don’t believe the text!

A week ago my phone line and broadband connection went down. I’d overheard someone in the local Sainsbury say that there was a problem in the area as it had affected the lottery machines so wasn’t too concerned as I figured BT would sort it out pretty soon. The following day I used to do a line test – it recorded a fault and opened a fault case with their system. Later that day I checked the fault online and saw that the initial tests suggested that the actual fault was inside my house and that they would be sending an engineer on the morning of the 9th to fix it. I arranged time off work for the 9th after muttering something along the lines of “how come it takes 5 days to send an engineer out”.

The morning of the 9th came, I got a text from BT to say that my fault would be fixed that day. All good so far. At 12:42, I figured the morning was over and called BT’s fault line. I got a nice automated message saying my fault would be fixed today and I could press 9 to speak to someone about progress. The subsequent call went something like this….

Me: I’m expecting an engineer to visit to fix my fault and no-one turned up this morning
BT: You don’t have an appointment for an engineer
Me: Yes I do. Your online system says that you need to send an engineer, that it would be this morning and I got a text to say my fault would be fixed today.
BT: We’d need access to your property so you need an appointment
Me: I know you need access. Your online system said that. That’s why I’ve taken the day off to be here.
BT: But you don’t have an appointment. I can make one for this afternoon between 1 and 5. You’re lucky to get one today, otherwise it would have been tomorrow.
Me: But your system told me that you’d need access and you’d be sending an engineer this morning.
BT: Not without an appointment
Me: My phone and broadband are down. I logged the fault from work. I used the online system to check on the fault and on the basis of what it told me I took the day off. If I hadn’t phoned you to find out why you hadn’t sent an engineer how would I have ever known that I needed an appointment?
BT: We’d have put a card through your door
Me: Who would?
BT: The engineer
Me: But I wouldn’t get an engineer until I had an appointment
BT: You have an appointment this afternoon.
Me: Thank you. Goodbye

I hung up cursing BT and waited for the engineer. Guess what? 5 o’clock came and went without any sign of an engineer. I called the fault line again. The automated system told me I had an appointment booked for between 1 and 6. Thinking I must have misheard the earlier conversation I gave them another hour. Still no engineer. I am by now livid that I’ve been at home all day and still have no phone line and no broadband connection. Another call to the fault line. This time the automated system tells me that they’re sorry but they appear to have missed the arranged appointment. No shit sherlock! I press 9 to speak to a person and get routed to a call centre in India. The line is lousy. They promise to call engineering, find out why they didn’t turn up and call me back. When they call back they tell me that the engineering office is now closed, there are no notes to say why they missed the appointment and can I call back in the morning to rearrange it. Let’s get this straight…they missed the appointment and I have to call them to rearrange it. My lividness went off the scale. Somehow I politely expressed my utter frustration in having to deal with BT to get this resolved. To her credit the person on the other end of the phone empathised with my anger but that’s the system.

This morning I called the fault line ready to rant. The guy who answered promised to look into it and call me back. When he did he explained that the problem was an area wide one. Someone had stolen some cables and 1200 people had been without phones and broadband for the last week. Most were now back on but 400 or so, including me, were still waiting but the replacement of the cable should be complete by Monday. He had no idea why an appointment was made for me as there would have been nothing the engineer could have done anyway. I thanked him for finally explaining what had happened. He apologised for leaving me sitting around at home the previous day for an engineer that was never going to come.

BT – you suck. Your staff are inept, your online systems are inaccurate which makes them useless and if cable was a viable option for me I would be dumping you and your lousy service in a heartbeat. If there was an area wide problem why couldn’t that have been made clear when I reported the initial fault? It would have prevented so much aggrevation.

If you have a problem with BT, call them and speak to a person and hope you get to the one that actually cares about what they do and will look into it. Don’t rely on their online systems as they’re rubbish, don’t believe the text messages they send you and if the engineer fails to turn up call them before 6.

Guitar Hero Aerosmith

July 8, 2008

It’s not had the greatest reviews in the world but I fancied a bit of a riff-fest so bought it anyway. It didn’t take long to finish it on medium difficulty (bought Saturday, finished Monday) with the biggest challenge being the duel with Joe Perry. The songs are mostly pretty good, didn’t know many of the Aerosmith ones but liked the vast majority of them and they are definitely fun to play. Late last night I thought I’d see how difficult the hard level is. All The Young Dudes is one of my all time favourite songs so it got the nod. All I can say is Wow! The ascending run in the solo is very very cool when you get it right. Using all 5 buttons on the Guitar controller is harder than it looks (I play a real Strat and am used to having to move my hand much further when changing positions – that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!) and it ramps up the fun level to “addictive”. I can see me losing a few nights just on this song. Thankfully my GF was watching me play so I think she knows what’s coming…

Stuff to do around the house…boring chores mostly…hoovering, recycling, paying bills etc. However, write them on a whiteboard as a list, and tick them off as they’re done results in a sense of achievement. I could have just had a mental list but writing them down is like a commitment, I will do them tonight. It works too