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Friday, 27 March 2015

Straight to the Knees

So my knee's still not right.  It's been a couple of weeks so I went back to the doctor today with the expectation of maybe booking an MRI for a few days time.  What I got was something slightly different.

Oh boy.

So I'm going to get really technical here, so please bear with me.  There are a few squishy, fleshy pads knocking around the ol' nobblies and mine were either swollen, or there was swelling surrounding them.  That part was lost in translation, but I did just about manage to understand the swelling part.  Anyway, that's when he whipped out an eight foot comedy needle that required two nurses to carry it into the room.

Obviously that didn't happen, but an injection was required.  An injection to the knee.  While awake.  Let that just sink in.  Absolutely horrific.  It's also not a quick injection, presumably the added fluid isn't particularly natural and your systems need to adapt, slosh around a bit.  It's a pretty damned weird feeling because the knee is usually a fairly closed system and when you add several litres of unknown nonsense I imagine it's a bit of a shock.  The knee was pretty tight afterwards, I kept expecting a fountain of gore every step.  Mainly litres of water or whatever but some gore too.

Anyway, if this doesn't help over the weekend it'll be the MRI option.  I'm not a doctor but with a knee full of mysterious liquids, won't it be difficult to get a picture?  Maybe they'll have to stab deep into my knee again, this time to extract the lake they put in today.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Lensageddon

So I bought my camera a few years ago, which means it's nearly time for the new models to come out.  Nikon have already produced their camera in my range, or are very close to doing so.  Canon are going to release their stuff in a few months.  Obviously, this camera was a once in a lifetime purchase, I'll never be able to afford something as expensive or frivolous again so I've been looking at the lenses that currently make up their lineup.

I really want a big lens.  One of the 400mm pro lenses that get you shot in america because they think you're carrying a bazooka.  The kind of lens that comes with an aluminium case for lugging it around because it's too big for a normal bag.

Alas, two things stop me.  Firstly and least importantly, I wouldn't use the lenses that much.  Wicked interesting animal pictures, strange portraits and occasional oddities aside, I'd probably only ever haul it out a few times a year.  Then again having one of those in the wardrobe would probably get me out more frequently.

The second and more important reason is obvious.  They cost, even second hand, as much as a car.  The cheaper versions would suffice for me, probably anything above f4 (if you don't know what an f number is, it basically means that, should I have this lens, my penis is bigger than someone with an f5.6, but smaller than someone with an f2.8).  Second hand price doesn't drop that much once you get to a certain echelon of gear, so all of these are thousands of wonga, even if used.

So I started looking around for other types of lenses that were feasible within the next year or two, stuff that had a practical use for me.  I really like the idea of a 50mm, a prime that you can just walk around with and take some pictures.  The 50mm primes are cool because they're really fast and relatively small, which means you can hand hold them just fine and use available light, which means not toting around a flash or tripod.  As I have none of these things it's almost the ideal type of lens.  Unfortunately the good ones of this variety are pretty expensive too.

So I'm back to square one.  I came across some interesting macro options.  These are cool because they let you blow up small objects, making them fill a frame with things you might not otherwise see.  If you get a normal macro lens route you can take quite nice pictures of people, and you can get pretty darn close to small insects too.  This is a kind of photography I could get behind, and despite the relatively low prices of these lenses, you need a tripod and lighting setup, which inflates the price.  To get the really cool pictures you would look at something like this.

It magnifies everything up to five times which is great because it opens up a world of photography that you can indulge in anywhere.  Looking at everyday stuff blown up to be huge is fascinating, and with the setup required being relatively small, you'd just have a box in the corner of the room with all the gear you'd need to take a picture.  You could probably take some really interesting videos too.  I think that's my next project.  Save up for that particular lens, clear out a corner and set something like that up.

Thousands of pounds are impossible, a few hundred might not be.  Super saving powers go!

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Operation Fruits Go Go

So I'm going to try and grow some fruits this year.  As a cursory fan of enormous fruit and veg, I obviously went straight to melons, because they don't have the potential of, say, a pumpkin -  but they can still get big.  I think both those pictures are the same grower.

Anyway, the biggest oaks start with the smallest acorns.  Or something.

The two in the middle are spider plants, I'm trying to grow new ones because I had a couple of spare pot things.

I'm going for some strawberries too, but I'm still trying to figure out how to get all this lot in the sun outside.  The veranda is extremely thin and has a high wall, so it doesn't get much sunlight.  I'll have to find a table, or even better, steps.

Something to think mull over.



And a picture of, is that Putin?  Riding a weasel?  Riding a woodpecker?  Being chased by Gandalf?  And a stormtrooper?  The internet in a nutshell.



Friday, 20 March 2015

Stop Me if You've Heard This One Before

So I can't sleep.

I know, you've probably heard someone else on the internet talk about not being able to sleep.  You might even have seen it on here, shock and much gasping.

As such, I'm left wondering what to write about at four in the morning.

My knee still hurts.  Definitely going back to the doctor on Monday, I'll have to brow-beat an MRI out of him.

Cherry blossom season is once more speeding towards us.  The trees are starting to bud which means waiting a couple of weeks, I should imagine.

Terry Pratchett died.  The author of my favourite series, and probably my favourite book.  I've been staving off his most recent works because this way was inevitable, what with his illness, and I wanted to essentially main line the endings to all the threads he started decades ago.  My insignificant homage will be to tie his series up in as short a time as possible, leaving what I can remember of his older books to memory.  Actually that's a lie, I'll definitely re-read everything at some point in my life.

I've been writing a book since December.  It's about one quarter finished, which means at the current rate the first draft will be done in a year, the final copy in about a decade.  Refresh the page hourly for rip-roaring content updates about this.

Also, if you read this you're obliged to buy at least one copy when it's released (self publishing, woo!).  My stated aim is simple:  In my lifetime I want to sell a hundred books.  Whether that's ten books, ten sales each or one book with one hundred copies, I don't mind.  That's a fairly modest number right?  I think it's doable in a lifetime.  Anyway, you've got a year to save up a tenner.  Hop to it.  (Please.)

Monday, 16 March 2015

Needs More Fireworks

So a few weeks ago I went snowboarding.  The highlight was the small festival the area happened to hold when we arrived.

They must have heard about me.

Anyway, using a camera phone (because obviously I chose not to bring my camera the one time they had an event) I took some photos that you may have seen before, but I also shot some video.  The camera had the damndest time trying to figure out where to focus and this caused a fair number of problems when it came to putting a small compilation together.  Nothing was in focus.  The stuff that was in focus had a few unsupervised children screaming through them (a joy in person, too) so they were unusable.  The result was the following short video.  Despite the fact it was taken with a phone, the quality isn't bad (when it can decide to stop focussing on alpha centauri).


Tuesday, 10 March 2015

A Quick Look at the Daruma Market

So the prior post was about the pictures I took while at the market for Daruma (those plump looking red things).  This one is a really quick update to show you the video I made of my visit.  It's really quick, stupidly simple but quite indicative of the area, at least I think so.  Check it out here:


Sunday, 8 March 2015

Daruma Festival

So there was a daruma festival a week or so ago.  If you're wondering what a daruma is, here you go:


The idea is that you buy one, fill in an eyeball, make a wish or some kind of resolution for the coming year and then, when the wish is fulfilled, fill in the second eye.  I think you also burn or destroy the daruma once the year is up.


The vast majority are red, with white eyes and some writing on the front or back.  Occasionally you'll see gold or white ones; at this festival there were also blue ones but I've no idea what the differences are.


There was also this wooden statue in front of the main shrine, I have no idea what it was for but very few people approached it.  Those who did rubbed it, for luck perhaps?


The figure was very obviously worn, I wonder if it was more popular in the past or if there's a separate event dedicated to this deity (if it's a god at all).  Maybe it's just really old?


The obligatory incense bowl in front, every shrine that's big enough seems to have one of these.


Everyone was having something written on their daruma, once again I'm terrible at this kind of thing because I have no idea what it says.


The finished article.  Maybe this was last years model, hence both eyes being filled in?  Maybe I'll learn, one day.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Legs

So last Saturday was the first (maybe the second?) proper training session of the year.  We'd done a lot of fitness for a couple of weeks prior but the entire squad turned up for the official beginning.


We played a few different games, aimed at skills and fitness to try and get into the new season at a run.


It was surprisingly cold so I obviously went for short sleeves because I'm a fool.


I think I had my hands crossed for 90% of training to try and keep the extremities warm.


We also played a game of 7's against a local team, I scored 2 but my hamstrings are incredibly sore again - I need to start stretching, massaging and hot/colding once again.  This seems to crop up once every few months, achilles tendinitis perhaps?


A game of 7's right after training isn't exactly a great idea so I scored our only points before I limped off.


The first one was from the kickoff, I handed off a couple and ran as hard as I could, just about making the line ahead of their team.


This is from the kickoff, bad achilles and all.

The training went well, the fitness was okay, I just need to figure out how to buy a new pair of legs and I'll be good to go!

Sunday, 1 March 2015

SkiBoarding

So last weekend I went snowboarding for the first time in a long while.  It turns out that it's like riding a bike, you really can just jump back in and do it again.  There's a ton more technique in boarding though, so I wasn't quite as good as before - I think I've hit my ceiling with regards to snow based sports.


Disregarding ability, fun was had.  The Tsugaike place we went to was somewhat easy - there were only a couple of areas worth a red, and the black was only black because of the intense moguls.  Not that big lumpy blocks aren't worth a black mark, it's just that I prefer variety.


As with anywhere else in Japan, the views were spectacular.


I've only ever skii'ed in Japan and Europe so I can't speak for the whole world (obviously), but the asian mountainscape seems to be unique as far as I can tell.  They just extend forever in every direction.  Korea is the same in many regards, when flying over Korea all you can see is a sea of mountains.


This isn't the best view to show that, but it's a nice picture nonetheless.


These were taken on a phone camera, so I've not bothered to edit anything.  They seem to have come out relatively well though.


We were there during a festival period, for some reason they had this jump set up with dudes doing jumps and whatnot over it, performing tricks and whatnot.  No one managed a backflip although a couple tried it.  Ouch.


Despite the lack of backflips there were some amazing fireworks.  I'm editing the videos to make a quick compilation thing that'll be up sometime in the future, but they were unlike fireworks in England in almost every respect.  There were some enormous explosions, some triple layered fireworks (I've never seen anything explode, grow and change colour, then explode again) and a lot of really cool ground based stuff.


Trying to focus using a phone camera is a nightmare.  Who knows if any of these are going to come out.


They do a really good job of putting their fireworks to music, usually classical, (and with a short enough crappy 'pop,' music section that you don't want to leave immediately) always interesting.  They also layer their fireworks really well.


The Japanese firework game is superb - they're superb at the whole thing.


This is an example of the ground based stuff I was talking about.  They layer these in the same way as the sky based stuff.  English fireworks guys need to take a close look at the Japanese scene.


So as it was a festival, they cut a lot of little spaces like this into the snow.  Every hotel or store has their little area in front filled with mountains of snow, a great way to make a small display like this.


Another small cubby with a candle.  I wonder what the fire risk associated with this is?


The above was one of these.


A rather large hotel had a front that obviously bore the brunt of the snow clearers, but at least they get to have a fun little diplay like this out front during the season.


I tried a small steerable snow thingy for the first time.  They're pretty cool but the one I rode was incredibly slow; the runner were plastic with random flecks of metal sticking out of the runners, screws not fully placed and the worlds smallest steering wheel, none of which add up for speed or control.  If you lived in an area like this presumably you'd have your own and maintain it properly.

The festival itself was fairly low key except for the fireworks (which were dope, so to speak)  but well worth checking out if you're in the area.  We came across a couple of local kids digging in some of the displays (shown above) which was a nice little slice of life, showing how people in the area live.  Worth it!

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Like Riding a Fish in a Barrel

So I went snowboarding this weekend.  It's been a while so I thought I'd spend most of the time on my backside, but it turned out alright and after about an hour I was back around where I was a couple of years ago, minus matching gloves because I forgot where I put them last time.

The weather was great, sunglasses all the way.  The snow started out nice and fluffy, but after a bajillion snowboarders spent a few hours on it and the temperature didn't stay low enough, it became a bit mushy.  When we got on the bus to leave it started raining which means the next day was probably a lot worse, but by the end of Sunday the skiing was still okay.

There are some photographs and videos to come at a later date, hopefully.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

The Snow

So Tokyo has had a pathetic amount of snow recently, that is to say barely any.  Up in the mountains, however, they've had metres.  It looks like they've not had any particularly good snow this week, but last week they had a decent amount.  Maybe it's time to get the ol' snowboard out and truck around for a bit?

We'll see what the weather is like and have a go.

For the voyeuristic among you, here are the webcams for most of the Japanese resorts.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Mars Man

The Martian is an interesting book written by Andy Weir, focusing on a manned mission to Mars that, obviously, goes wrong.

This book is fairly technical with a whimsical character and that contrast makes the overall read enjoyable.  Anyone interested in learning the ins and outs of potential Mars colonisation need not apply because the technical aspect is couched within an internal logic that mirrors the real world while never trying to replicate it (the author often refers to actual chemical reactions and pieces of equipment that could conceivably be used on such a mission) while the action is typical fantasy (he luckily has everything he needs and doesn't die a thousand times in a thousand different horrific ways).

The details in the world are interesting, providing an insight into the kinds of thinking required of such a mission without bogging down in the excruciating minutiae of an actual excursion - this is where the book stands out.  There is enough research to justify the premise and carry the character through to the conclusion.

In many ways the story of the character is the weakest aspect, delivering on the journey aspect, but never deviating from a particularly structured step by step guide on how to survive within this fictional Mars environment.  This paint by numbers approach is common elsewhere, but is made readily apparent by the main character who exemplifies the less realistic aspects of the tale.  The character is a doofus.  He's not a relatable oaf nor is he particularly charming, he's just a walking talking physics robot who has a humour module bolted on halfway through the book, in order to make him more resemble a human.  In science fiction there are often cases where the 'science,' very much outweighs the 'fiction,' and this is one case where he has so little personality that I find it hard to remember anything about his particular journey.  I can't even remember the guys name.  This may seem like a minor slight in a world where ninety percent of books, TV and film have lead characters who may as well be called 'generic protagonist 1,' or 'minor villain X,' but if the primary motivation for a given reader is to follow a story, this hypothetical candidate is going to immediately put the book down.  As such, this book is for people who like police dramas, Sherlock Holmes and other media that follows an investigatory route.  It's is most definitely not for people who enjoy character development.  I'd go so far as to say if you need a character in your story with whom to relate don't read this.  He makes one or two pop culture references that were so wildly out of character with a pioneering space explorer, and the potential audience for this book, that I raised an eyebrow.  I actual raised my eyebrow!

Having just entirely written off the character and made the book sound horrible I will say I enjoyed it quite a lot.  The ways in which the main story dude (herein referred to as robot) solves the myriad problems that arise are interesting, as is the authors imagining of just how the mission will look if anyone does venture forth.  I'd never really contemplated the specifics of some of the gear they'd need, besides the basics of habitats and supplies, so this book is a mild introduction into such things.  The idea of a rover that can cover long distances and won't break down is obvious, but the imaginings of these parts is interesting as is the inclusion of a some of the more esoteric paraphernalia.  There are plenty of doodads to keep robot tinkering away, and plenty of pitfalls to overcome.  These aspects are the crux of the story.

Ignore the blurb about this being a story of a man overcoming odds, this is a story of fictional science, sciencing its merry way all around Mars.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

The Nearest and the Farthest

So Stephen Baxter is a name in science fiction.  I don't know what else he's written, but I'm sure I've heard the name before and so when I came across the books Proxima and Ultima I decided to check it out.

It's pretty good.

It's another book about travel through space with ships, this time using a mythical energy source that no one quite knows the source of, this sets up the interesting premise of a society sitting atop a technology that no one really knows the nature of, creating an undercurrent of tension throughout.  The political underpinning is far less interesting than the scientific, being a simple tale of rampant communism versus a typically positive rendition of capitalism.  The opportunity for an interesting reflection of current affairs was completely missed through an absolute lack of finesse.  The Chinese archetypes are portrayed in an entirely negative light, the western faction are completely opposite, world saving heroes.  It's unfortunate because he was obviously going for something that might resonate in current times but falling short.

Ham fisted depictions of the other aside, the science and the fiction are pretty damned good.  They forcibly relocate a large number of people in order to claim a world, giving impetus to half the story, while a scientific family researching their method of transport create the other half.  The tales of misfortune that arise from both sides underline the characters in a way that make them more interesting than, for example, the typical renditions of government.  The interesting characters leading parallel lives come together in ever more interesting ways as the first book gives way to the second.  In a shock twist everything comes together towards the end of the duology, linking the past events together nicely to form a satisfying conclusion without it being a childish, american style happy ending.

I may have forgotten to mention, but there are space Romans.

Yeah.

I've not read many books that could pull of as ridiculous a premise with a straight face, but this one manages to build a respectable enough story around the obviously outlandish so the result is one of plausibility despite itself.

You'll notice this isn't much of a review and that's because you should just go out an buy it.

Do it.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Revelation Space

So Revelation Space is a book that establishes the universe in which the similarly titled anthology is set.  I bought a digital copy of the collection which is well worth the asking price (if you can find it anywhere!) - I would guess it contains around a million words (no counting was done to verify this), most of which are worth reading.

The universe is well realised, which isn't surprising considering the breadth of work available in the collection, but it establishes itself with authority, it feels obvious that there is a plan in action and you are welcome to join in despite the obvious lack of a stated direction at the beginning.

The singular style ensures that once you've read and enjoyed the first, you are almost guaranteed to like the subsequent additions.  This also helps when jumping between time zones within the fiction itself as any character vagaries or lack of environmental definition are intentional, and importantly, known to be intentional by all involved.  Trust between author and reader is important in all work, doubly so in science fiction because both parties work together with the express aim of building into an unknown space; more so again in hard sci-fi because everything is set within the realms of current human understanding.  There are no warp engines with which story can be progressed, nor are there magical powers with which the day can be saved.  Any incongruity is a potentially insurmountable hurdle.

The pure 'future,' science is interesting enough, but the applications of current thinking are the most intriguing parts.  The melding (that's a pun, for those who might have read it) of the human and technological is well conceived, especially the use of the animal kingdom.  Other topics such as immortality and epidemic are less well handled, purely because these particular tropes are somewhat tired.  That isn't to say they're not interesting as applied to this universe, more that they take longer to reach virgin territory than, for example, the characterisation of the ships.

The plots within the collection stand alone despite sharing familiar characters and locations.  They are interwoven in interesting and unexpected ways, tending to shy from direct character sequels and taking a much longer term view of the universe than books in other genres.  While this approach is fairly standard for science fiction due to the mind boggling distances and time-spans space encompasses, it is still pleasing enough to see a nod and wink to former books and characters.  They are, however, somewhat blunt.  Instead of writing around interactions the author has chosen to outright include these ties without any allusion or mystery.  This is a bonus if you're not looking to add your own flavour, less so if you don't require everything spelled out.

Loss of humanity or the evolution of humanity is another well worn road that is tackled in particular detail within this compilation.  All the books think about the nature of a humanity capable of self modification with an interesting mix of interpretations in the manifold forms this might take.  This is one of the draws of this series, and I won't say much, except that the outcomes are fairly standard if you have read any genre books in the past - but the characters and characterisations are superb despite the obviousness of their foundations.

There are precious few books that truly innovate, that bring new ideas into the mainstream.  This is not one of those innovators, but what it does show is that tropes handled by less skilled writers are still valid in the hands of the more adept, and this author is most certainly among the adept.

The Revelation Space collection is not a transformative work, it is an excellent evolution of worn ideas.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Can't Sleep, Won't Sleep

So I'm told that being physically tired is a good way of ensuring you sleep.  Not necessarily sleep well, but sleep nonetheless.

I've inadvertently spent my entire life disproving this theory, and today is another example of this as I've just started going to the gym again after a months hiatus (off-season) and yet find myself with less than a normal persons amount of sleep.  How much less?  Well, exactly none.  After getting a couple of hours last night I've given up today, hoping that tomorrow will be better.  

Fingers crossed I can get to work alright tomorrow (what is actually today in real terms), get that shit done, then come home and just fall asleep on the sofa or something.

But, I hear exactly one of your cry, if you sleep during the day you'll mess up your sleep cycle!

Yes I reply, but if I don't sleep I'll die of headaches and/or total brain shutdown.  Also, my sleep is already messed up hence why I'm in this predicament in the first place.  I'd rather try and tackle this problem from a place of actually having slept at some point in the past, rather than where I currently stand.  Have you ever desperately kept yourself awake until 9pm only to find that your brain turns around and says "actually no, fuck you, no sleep tonight."

That's not fun, and it happens.

So basically it's another insomnia post.  Yay!

On the positive side when I was on holiday I didn't have many issues, it turns out that just getting up whenever your body says to and going to bed whenever you're tired is a really good way of getting enough sleep.

Who would have thought it.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Green Fingers

So I'm horrible at plants.  I am also horrible at animals.  I bought a spider plant a few months ago because I think it would be impossible to kill one of those - low and behold I was right.  Unfortunately I picked a really good place for it to go and it grew really big, outgrowing the pot I bought it in and sprouting roots and whatnot everywhere.

Obviously I had to buy a bigger pot, so I did, and now I have this:


They actually gave me 2 spider plants, so I split them up and put some mossy stuff between them.  I've not forgotten to water it yet, so I think they should be fine.  I bought the wrong kind of soil so I've got to change that; put a big wodge of real soil underneath the stuff that's currently in there.

Because there were so many roots wedged into the old pot (there was no soil left) I couldn't get it out.  I resorted to taking out my pen knife and cutting the damned things out, nearly chopping my fingers off in the process.  The knife came in handy for cutting the plants apart though, so I was going to need to risk life and limb at some point in order to get the desired effect.

Regardless of how long it takes to kill these things it turns out that you can grow something for a short time even if you are terrible at that kind of thing.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

I Think I'm Done With Chocolate Forever

I have officially become fed up with chocolate.

I have eaten so much lately that I fear my arteries are forever hardened, my veins forever clogged and my brain forever dulled.  Well moreso than before, at any rate.

I do this every year and honestly it seems to work pretty well for me.  Now is my current off-season and I can afford to get really fat and stupid, so that's what I do.  I'm not an angel when it comes to food during the season, but I don't overindulge and I certainly don't drink heavily - the upshot is that I consider myself fairly healthy (I even eat vegetables, to the shocked gasps in the peanut gallery).  The problem is that I eventually build up a resistance to this behavior and I crave the experience of eating far, far too much unhealthy stuff; which is what I do around this time of year as my own personal Christmas ritual.

So I did it again this year.

The result is my current big fat bloated belly and the aches I now harbor.

My training regimen starts for real next week, with a few light sessions building up to the real grunt work of trying to put on weight and get more explosive.  Luckily the fitness doesn't come into it for another month or so (but there's no way I'm going to neglect it completely, can you imagine how much it would suck to be forced into pre-season off the back of zero running?).

So that's about it for me currently.  Back at work.  The holiday was long but still too short.  Still have intentions of writing a million selling novel, after I invent a perpetual motion machine and earn infinite money from that, of course.

Hot News Flash:  Scientists are REALLY BAD at naming things.  CERN should have a specialist come in and talk to those fools, Jesus.

In other news, Happy New Year and all that.

Monday, 29 December 2014

New Years Recipe

So it's official, steam is the future.

I recently obtained a steamer of some kind, big enough to steam a chicken breast and all the vegetables.  It's the only way to cook potatoes (I really didn't eat many potatoes outside of England).  It's the best because you just turn it on and leave it, you don't have to worry about it boiling over or not being covered (so basically there's no difference between steaming and boiling).  It's good for just setting and forgetting which is perfect for me because I can't cook.

The one downside is that there's literally no flavour.  Spuds are so devoid of taste that they go with anything, but that's not exactly a boon for someone who can't cook.

The answer is simple, and is one that I've only reached today.

Before I unleash this recipe upon the world I must add that I'm making it now (I'm writing this while it boils away) and I haven't tasted it yet.  But here goes:

Boil or steam or fry your vegetables and chickens.  Or microwave them; whatever suits you best.  Put it on a plate in your preferred order.  Put cheese on top.  Wait, you're not finished yet.

Now add lots of marmite.

Done.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

A Merry Hacking!

So someone in Holland has tried to hack my Hotmail account.

Obviously, he's not actually in Holland (or he's a really bad hacker), but Hotmail detected the intrusion and told me someone from the Netherlands was trying to access my account.

This is nothing new; Hotmail gets hacked weekly by some botnet sending out e-mails about viagra (if you've ever wondered where all that spam you get comes from - hacked e-mail accounts!).  They're pretty good about fixing stuff, to be fair.  They won't jump all over the news and warn you, but they fix intrusion weaknesses quickly enough.

I've decided my password library needs an update.  If you use a-z 1-9 and all the other stuff on your keyboard and have an 8 character password there are 3025989069143040 possible combinations (roughly) (I think).

That's a lot of combinations, but computers are pretty quick so I've decided to upgrade my passwords and whatnot. The best way to make a password, jam on the keyboard! Write it down and after a few inputs you'll remember the combination. You need three or four passwords for all the things you do, so as a service to the internets, here you go:

password 1: eirgbp347b3iubi3g4igbs
password 2: 432982h2uifdwnhifbuwib
password 3: huisghsdfsdfaoujbfamn83
password4: asikudfb3671bsdhfbsdhfbv3

Now you don't even have to come up with your own passwords!

Nothing of importance was taken this time, but you never know.

Also merry christmas.

Monday, 22 December 2014

It's Nearly Christmas

Christmas rolls around again.  I've got a small pile of boxes in the corner, containing (hopefully) many kilo's of chocolate and/or marmite - we'll have to wait for the 25th to find out.  In case you were wondering what Christmas day in Japan looks like the following pictures have a handy guide.

The girlfriend is annoyed that I appropriated a bed sheet to cover her present (too big to wrap economically).  I don't think she gets the Christmas spirit.


There are one or two parcels knocking around on the left hand side that aren't in shot - I found that spreading your presents out makes them look more voluminous than just heaping them up.  Top money saving tips on this blog!  This year I'm expecting lots of shoes, because almost everything came in shoe boxes.  The reindeer wrapping paper is bright and sparkly enough that it had to be kept out of direct sunlight; it was causing an 80's disco lighting effect around the room which tends to be distracting outside of a nightclub.  

When packaging your presents in stripes, remember that vertical stripes makes you look taller and thinner, horizontal the opposite.  Therefore accentuate your natural body shape or some such nonsense.

As you can see in the bottom right, Dean and Deluca sent something this year, which was nice.  I'll have to send them something next year.

At this point, some of you may be noticing the lack of a Christmas Tree.  Do not despair.


This is a typical Japanese Christmas tree accompanying the traditional Japanese Orange Juice that is drunk during the holiday season.  Don't forget the traditional Japanese Playstation Controller, used at this time of year.  This troika create a Traditional Japanese Holiday Scene tm..  

So there you have it, a small look into the world of a Traditional Japanese Christmas.