Football Manager Addiction!

Football Manager was named in 35 divorce cases in the UK.

Having played a fair few hours of it over the last couple of weeks I can see why.

I am not a huge follower of football and will be the first to put my hand up and admit I know next to nothing about football strategy and tactics (though I have printed out a few guides and read a lot of articles to increase my knowledge somewhat).  I understand they have streamlined  the game and improved vastly upon it since my last foray into Football Manager (2012) and I have found this version (2014) to be a lot simpler and more intuitive than the last one I played (I know it’s all a matter of opinion but I am getting on with this version better than 2010 or 2012 somehow).  Even though I am not a huge football fanatic, I still find this game highly addictive and think about it even when i’m not playing it and planning for my next session!.

I am playing as Eastleigh.  Not because I am a Spitfire’s fan as such (I am an Aston Villa fan) but because I wanted to jump into a hardcore challenge of playing as a Sunday league footballer managing a lower league club rather than play as my favourite club with millions of pounds to spend and lots of Prima donna players! (though when I have learnt a lot more I will definitely try it!).

I am an Xbox 360 owner and have quite the library, yet, I am finding it difficult to tear myself away from the PC and either FM2014 or Crusader Kings II (for which I recently bought the newest expansion Charlemagne and can also highly recommend though it is also maddeningly addictive!).  We also have TV shows and films on the Sky box unwatched, waiting patiently for me to put down my mouse and go watch them.

Things are significantly better now compared to this time last year, when I was in the depths of Depression and couldn’t focus on watching or playing anything, and since then, the loss of my Mom and my wife’s surgery and subsequent recovery at home (which is coming along really well now, she recently managed to walk home from the dentist’s [which is about 1.5 miles] after a check up the other day!) have been the main things on my mind. 

Today we went into Southampton and managed to just get what we came for, no more or less, went in, grabbed what we needed, had a bite to eat and came home.  When we used to hang around, go to CEX and GAME and then have a drink or two before coming home.  Now it’s time for a nice cuppa (I have recently developed a taste for exotic teas such as Lapsang Suchong, Ceylon, Earl Grey and Darjeeling) and to jump back into FM2014 and see what I can do to improve our promotion chances!.


Games, Glorious Games!

Well, it has been a long time since my last post.

I think it is for a variety of reasons, chiefly being the fact that I am now well and truly back into my games and spend time on them when I should be writing.

I have definitely turned into a steam addict and my game collection grows by the week (though now Tracey has given me an allowance each fortnight!).

Lately, I have been mainly playing Crusader Kings II (where I am trying my hardest to become the King of Ireland [unsuccessfully] as YouTube recommends to new players), X2:The Threat (I am making my annual attempt at an X:Marathon where I start with X:Beyond the Frontier and progress through X:Tension, X2:The Threat, X3:Reunion and X3:Terran Conflict building my empire before finally getting my hands on X3: Albion Prelude and finally X:Rebirth if my PC can handle it).

Also unsuccessful, as X:Beyond the Frontier is just so hard, leading me to skip it and jump straight to X2:The Threat (I know!, I know! cheating!) but there is so much in the X universe to do and each successive game makes it bigger and infinitely more complex! seriously, go out and buy it, you won’t be disappointed! especially if you’re a fan of science-fiction 4X games and you can even ignore the storyline and just enjoy the sandbox.

Wow, just reread what i wrote and I really came off sounding like I was being paid by Egosoft to plug their game! (i’m not by the way) just a huge fan!.

I have also been playing Football Manager 2014 (which I got for next to nothing thanks to a GAME voucher from last Christmas and a GAME sale!) trying to take a lower-league team into the championships (though I am still learning the ropes!).

I have also been playing a lot of Minecraft with Tracey (we have set up a new server, that’s our third and so far we have done a lot better than any of our previous servers).                   Tracey sorts out the farming and animal husbandry, while keeping away the Creepers and Zombies while I do the mining deep underground looking for those elusive Diamonds while Skeletons and Lava do their best to kill me!.

We also occasionally go on excursions for supplies and shelter in little hidey holes when night falls and face off against all the zombies trying to get in!.

I have also been dabbling with video creation again but haven’t been pleased with any results so far but I will keep trying and hope to post something worthwhile soon.             We have also begun our annual tradition of watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer again before moving onto the graphic novels and have lots of our TV series coming back around now so plenty to keep us entertained.

I felt really old last weekend when my baby sister turned sixteen! we went over to see her celebrate her big day and it made me miss our mom even more that she couldn’t be there in person to see her come of age.

We would have been back at Totton College as students by now, but the Computer Programming course we had enrolled on was cancelled due to insufficient numbers.  Well, I think I have rattled on long enough about what I have been doing since my last post so I will end now and devote my entire attention to Buffy!.

A Relaxing Weekend?

Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy

Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just got in from a rather hot walk up to the big Tesco’s up the road.

Tracey made the whole trip there and back without stopping which is a huge achievement at this stage of her recovery.

Now we are both sat down with a cold drink and I thought it would be a good time to write.

Yesterday, we had to make another trip to Southampton, firstly to return a cheap pair of speakers we bought for Tracey’s computer, and secondly to return a game (Stardrive) that we bought from CEX and turned out to be a Steam game that had already been activated.

CEX were great, they refunded me straight away and the voucher went towards… (and I am almost ashamed to say this)  LEGO Star Wars The Original Trilogy.

In my defence, I am trying to get more games that both Tracey and I can play together and we are both Star Wars and Lego fans and the games came recommended so thought it was worth a try!.

Tracey also found a second hand copy of Star Wars Empire At War which I had missed even though I was looking for it as I had bought it years ago and really enjoyed it and wanted to see what the multiplayer was like (brilliant by the way!).

We took the cheap PC World speakers back as they did not work on either of our machines and were promptly issued a full refund which almost paid for the next speakers up which were branded and worked fine.

So the last few days have been quite tiring for both me and Tracey and we intend to go nowhere over the weekend and enjoy our multiplayer games!.

I have also recently been toying with creating my own videos for YouTube and to that end have been testing out some different software namely:

Bandicam, Virtual Dub, LightWorks, SUPER Converter and Audacity.

As you can imagine, being a complete and total newbie to all this and wanting to stick with free or trial software if and until I decide to get into videos properly then I can think about upgrading to fully featured software (or maybe even sticking with the free software if it does all I need it too!).

So who knows? there may be videos coming to this site soon! (though please don’t hold your breath just in case it doesn’t work out!).


The End of an Era

Well, that is college over for now until we start the Computer Programming course in September (when we get around to enrolling anyway!).

We came so close to finishing our final MS Access test but due to some unexpected issues, we had to come in the week after to finish it.

It was a sad goodbye to our tutor Nina, as we have been with her for two ITQ courses now and sadly Totton College currently do not offer the ITQ3 which we would gladly have enrolled on and had her teach us for level one, two and three!.

I would have had this post out earlier but, there were some computer issues which needed a careful application of Smart Defrag, Ccleaner and Malware Bytes to sort out first.

If your computer is running slow, chances are it either needs defragging or has malware (or even both!) I didn’t have any malware, but did need a defrag.  I can strongly recommend these three programs to help keep your PC in top shape.

Tracey is still recovering well and is walking further and faster without the aid of the wheelchair (though we still use it for longer trips when she needs it).

I have been doing a lot of modding of some of my favourite games recently, now I have heavily modded Skyrim, Oblivion, Morrowind, Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas and if I think about it, I will do more posts or possibly videos on each game and the mods I have installed and how to install them.

Well, it is now time for me to go and do some Python and some more writing before sitting down to play a few games with Tracey.  So far we have Stronghold, Rome Total War, Wesnoth and Might & Magic V to try out as well as a handful of Xbox games.

Wish me luck!



Totton College Taxi Drama

We had an interesting phone call the other day from our tutor Nina at Totton College.

English: Totton College Totton College from th...

English: Totton College Totton College from the Calmore Road entrance. Formerly Totton Grammar School which opened in 1955, the College was opened in 1969. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Her and another member of staff, Kirsty had been talking and felt bad that we walked home the week before (and pushing that wheelchair from the college home was very tiring!) and had arranged for a Taxi to pick us up and drop us home for the last few weeks of our ITQ course!.

I was lost for words! I had no idea the college could even offer such a service, and the fact that these two members of staff thought about it and made it happen for us to make our travelling to and from college a hell of a lot easier just blew me away!.

We took a risk and decided not to take the wheelchair as Tracey would only need to walk around the college, but as it turned out we had underestimated the stairs and realised that next week we would be taking the chair anyway!.

It was such a strange feeling sitting in a taxi to and from college like royalty where we are used to walking and it made us both feel a little lazy but my goodness wasn’t it easier and a lot quicker! we usually don’t get home until gone 2200 but we were home a little after 2100.

So if you are reading this Totton college:

Thank you from us both! you have made us both smile and really made it a lot easier for us to complete our course! we look forward to studying with you again in September! (though Tracey will be more mobile by then hopefully!).

Well, time for me to do a spot of Python before going back to modding my Bethesda games (Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim, Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas) and I will shortly get a post up telling all about this new exciting hobby!.


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Totton College Open Evening

Tutoring Center

Tutoring Center (Photo credit: Tulane Public Relations)

We went into Totton College on Wednesday in an effort to complete the Microsoft Access

module of our ITQ level 2.

Sadly, we didn’t quite finish it but we needed to wait around for an hour for the open evening to start.

Fortunately, there is a Costa selling student priced coffee which kept us busy until the Tutors began filing into the cafeteria and taking their places.

Thanks to the newly released prospectus advertising all manner of exciting courses, we had narrowed it down to a small list that we were interested in:

Computer Programming – This featured as a primary objective during my previous brainstorming session. It uses VB.Net but still should be useful to me.

Web Design – Only a leisure course but interesting, sadly the tutor wasn’t there to talk to.

Forensic Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Criminology – only short leisure courses but sound really interesting and could help me to decide if a career in Psychology is for me.

Hairdressing – One for Tracey, something she has wanted to do for years but due to Southampton City College‘s history with bullying and apathy has put her off studying there.

We spoke to all the relevant tutors in a roundabout way, being shunted between the front desk, and table to table.

Most people seem to have only had one or two courses in mind so we were definitely testing their skills!.

These courses also would be discounted if we are in receipt of certain benefits come the enrolment!.

It’s a shame they did not have any Health & Safety courses available as that is another primary objective discovered during my brainstorming session which would have come in helpful for my employment prospects.

There is always the ever present possibility of online courses too for many of the subjects I am interested in, though costs will vary between free and expensive.

Well, time to go back to Python and see how much I have forgotten!.




Brainstorming Bonanza!

I’ve had a lot of stuff rattling around my head the last few months especially with the recent loss of my mother and the hospitalisation of my wife.

It’s been crossing my mind to get all these thoughts, plans and ideas out on paper and last night I did exactly that.

With Tracey’s help, I brainstormed for an hour or two and got out all those ideas and plans that had been bugging me.

I ended up with a whole sheet of A4 then broken down further into another three sheets going into more detail on each main theme (courses, employment and hobbies).

It felt good to get it all out and free up my mind for other stuff.

I highly recommend this technique to anyone with an excess of thoughts and ideas, get it down on paper, it will clarify things and help you figure out which avenue to focus on.

I now know to focus on a Health & Safety course first which will help my job prospects in Catering, Cleaning and Retail (seeing how important the health and safety knowledge is to these three sectors) while focusing my hobbies around programming and writing.

That is the first step, then I will need to find work in one of the above sectors and hope to acquire on the job training on a relevant course to improve my prospects even further.

Well that is the plan anyway! who knows what is actually around the corner that may change all that! but as of right now, that is where I will be focussing my efforts.

Now to go back to Python and try to remember what I was doing last time!.