Friday, 23 January 2015

Intentionally deaf

I expect that being genuinely deaf is quite a burden to those with the condition.  I do have some hearing loss and tinnitus, but not enough to warrant a hearing aid, and aside from a few minor difficulties, I get by just fine.

However, there are times when being intentionally deaf is a (private) joy.  Last year I splashed out on Bose noise cancelling earphones.
If you've not experienced the 'noise cancelling' property, do go test some - it's rather amazing. Even when they're not connected to any particular source, the reduction in background noise is wonderful.  They are really useful for eliminating (most) of the background noise on a long haul flight (it was for this reason they were originally purchased).

Aside from time on a large cigar tube at 35,000ft, these earphones are really handy for being intentionally deaf.

I do this most often when sloping off to the pub for a lunchtime pint, alone, works laptop at my side.  Earphones in, power on.... ah, far quieter.... then crank up the music of the moment.
Privacy in a pubic place.  Priceless.

Thursday, 15 January 2015


Just noticed this story over at the BBC:
Production is set to start on a remodelled version of the ZX Spectrum, which will come pre-installed with 1,000 classic game titles.
Whoa... A Spectrum? Really? Beats messing around at car boot sales, tape drives etc.  But, it's not a full blown Speccy.  Shame.

I quite like the idea of getting something old and 'classic' but making it internet connected.
Imagine surfing the web (text mode, obviously) on a Spectrum.  Or opening your super powerful laptop to be greeted with this:

I'd immediately punch in SYS 64738.  If you know what that does, then GeekPoints+ to you.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Dog meets snow

Isla is now 7 months old, and this is her first winter.  She's surprisingly hardy and even when the temperature is hovering around zero centigrade, she's keen to jump in the river - perhaps the Springer in her?

Last nights brief snow flurry was fun, mostly to watch the big mad hound jumping up into the air to catch the snowflakes as they fell.

This morning, our walk was equally amusing.  Isla bounced around all over the place, eating snow as she went.  I haven't told her the golden rule of snow yet, that is, don't eat yellow snow.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Personal Scrum

I've been aware of 'scrum' and 'agile' for a while; partially down to some experience of software development, partially because my current firm claims to be 'agile' but is still going through the adoption process.
A very useful, and free, tool that works well for scrum is Trello.  So much so, I've been running a personal scrum board for some time; so far, so good.

Trello works in the browser and also has mobile apps for iOS & Android; oh, and the basic (and very functional) account is free.

If you have any kind of list to manage, give it a go.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Countdown to the election

It seems only a short while ago that we were all heading towards a general election.  But, that was nearly five years ago.
The election mania hasn't yet started, but it won't be long before the news is nothing but election this, party political broadcast that, debates, hype & hysteria.

I recall the fun that came from candidates fielded by the Monster Raving Looney Party, and not least, their rather entertaining policy statements.  Here's a few from their website:

  • We will reduce the national debt by selling the castles back to the French. (Buyer dismantles)
  • We propose the removal of funding for weather prediction as they seem to get it wrong most of the time anyway. This money would then be redirected into an extensive scientific research scheme to find out what actually came first, the chicken or the egg?
  • The options on the Referendum ballot on our membership of the EU to
  • read–
    • a) In
    • b) Out
    • c) Shake it all about
There have been a few MRLP suggestions that actually became law (via wikipedia):

The OMRLP are distinguished by having a deliberately bizarre manifesto, which contains things that seem to be impossible or too absurd to implement – usually to highlight what they see as real-life absurdities. 
Despite its satirical nature, some of the things that have featured in Loony manifestos have become law, such as being able to vote at 18, "passports for pets", and all-day pub openings

Anyhoo, when the electioneering starts, remember that there is still humour in politics, somewhere.

Sunday, 11 January 2015


A re-post of what I posted to Instagram on August 23rd, 2014.

MUSIC. At times of stress music always provides a space to escape, to think, to relax.
A private safe place. 
My go to track is Hybrid's Stereo 8 remix of Orbital/One perfect sunrise. It's seen me through ten years of hard times, doubt, confusion and fear. 
Track playing. 
Repeat set. 

As I've already posted this link a few days ago.... here is another.... 

... and the original...

I'll start a series of "boring music you probably don't want to hear" shortly... :)

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Petrol vs Electric

Back in 2013 I had two cars - Golf GTI Edition 30 and Land Rover Discovery.  Both cars needed money spending on them; the Golf was at 110k miles and needed some planned but expensive maintenance work, and the Land Rover, at 15 years old, needed lots of things fixing and replacing.
I couldn't afford both and had to choose which one I loved more.  So, the Golf was sold.
In its place I picked up a Citroen C2 VTR, a car intended to do running about and the 222 round trip commute to the office once each week.
In the 603 days I've owned the car, I've logged the figures for each time I've filled up (odometer reading, litres of fuel added, cost of the fuel and price per litre) - yes, I'm a geek and I like the numbers.  I can feel happy that I can come up with numbers like these:

  • Total spent on fuel - £5,725.91
  • Miles covered - 35919
  • Best/avg/worst MPG - 45.38/37.80/31.27


In 2014, fuel has cost me £2,923.  Not a huge amount (not least, compared to what it would cost to do the same miles in the Land Rover), but still, a decent chunk of hard earned cash.

I have frequently pondered whether buying and running an electric car would be "better".  Electric cars need to be charged (vs filled with petrol/diesel) but the cost in tiny.  On the other hand, buying an electric car is at least ten times more than I paid for the Citroen.

Would buying an electric car compare with running the Citroen?

In terms of running costs, then yes, easily.  Charging an electric vehicle ("EV") would be simple using pence of household electricity from the home supply.
According to
A full charge will cost approximately £2 to £3 and will give a typical range of 100 miles. Driving 100 miles in a petrol or diesel car will cost around £12 to £18 in fuel. The cost savings will be greatest when owners have access to an overnight low rate electricity tariff.
So my petrol cost of £2,923 for 2014 (at £3 per full charge) would provide 974 full charges, or, just over 97 thousand miles.  Whoa.
Looking at it the other way round, the 19,004 miles I covered in 2014 would cost around £570 in electricity - 80% saving.

Deducting £507 from £2923 leaves £2,416.  If I add in other costs for the Citreon, such as servicing and road fund license (aka "road tax"), I'd estimate around £500; would £2,916 be enough to buy or lease an EV? Let's assume it's a three year thing - £8,748.
No, not for a new vehicle.  Personal Contract Hire get closer, as the monthly payments would comes in at less than £2,416 / 12.  Bu the deposit is a killer, so not an option.

What about used? Close, but not close enough.  The cheapest vehicles I can find are still over £10k. That's before trying to pull together £10k up front (rather than over three years).

Hey ho.  As much as I like the idea of an EV, it's not going to happen.  At least, not yet.