Avoiding Charity Muggers

Flaming Charity Muggers!!

My wife and I took a leisurely walk to Southampton wednesday to make the most of the nice weather.

We hadn’t been in the city centre five minutes before a charity mugger or “Chugger” jumped us demanding a minute of our time for some unnamed charity.

We hurried past mumbling “no thank you” and ran straight into another one, who was holding out a leaflet expecting us to grab it and use it as a tool to initiate communication.

After narrowly escaping that one, we trained our eyes into the middle distance scouting for others, hopefully sporting distinctive jackets and clipboards.

I resented being forced to scan the crowds around us for the ever present charity muggers, and we needed to zig zag down the street to avoid more of them.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand these people are just doing their jobs and I know that they are apparently performing a great service for their charity of choice, I just believe they shouldn’t be allowed to jump you in the street, pouring out guilt trips and demanding your bank details.

The fact that some of these people are on commission and so do not have the charity’s best interests at heart is another reason to dislike their tactics.

After a nice walk around town and a brief stop in the park to rest our legs, we made our way home where I cracked out my copy of Grand Theft Auto 5 and spent an hour trying to install it, failing miserably as the install option didn’t appear on the dashboard.

My wife suggested that maybe I could try running the install disc and see if it installs automatically, (which I didn’t do thinking I knew better).

Turns out that once again she was spot on and her suggestion that I tried as a last resort worked a charm and soon I was playing the game!.

I will definitely have to listen to her advice sooner in the future! the game was even better considering the fact that I didn’t have to pay for it thanks to some trade ins I made!.

Well, time to do some writing before I go back to the Xbox!.

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Family History Fun!

I finally dug out all my family history paperwork yesterday and boy was there a lot of it!.

Legacy Family Tree Homepage

Legacy Family Tree Homepage (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been researching on and off for years so every time i come back to it, i have to figure out exactly what it was i was doing last time.

I installed the very useful Legacy Family Tree 7.5 and opened up my family tree on the excellent Ancestry.co.uk and compared the two.

I have gone a lot further with Ancestry as it has a hints feature that helps you find and add new people to your tree, i just haven’t got around to syncing that with Legacy yet.

The only thing is to actually view the hints and records requires a subscription which I currently do not possess.  If I really make some progress this time, I may purchase a months access and see how it goes.

Legacy is a very powerful program and I have barely scratched the surface of what it can do, I use the built in help, but a printed manual would be easier to flick through to get to the part i need (but sadly that’s an extra $15 and the video tutorials are an extra $30 so I wont be buying them just yet.)

I will be sorting through all the paperwork over the next few days, sorting the digital records I have as well as the paper ones into family groups for easy reference instead of folders full of assorted Birth, Marriage and Death certificates.  I have seen a couple of videos on youtube about keeping records for genealogy research but I cannot recall which ones now.

I was recently annoyed when I received an email from Legacy telling me there was a new version out (Version 8) but when I downloaded and installed it, it prompted me for a customer ID, plugging that in didn’t work as this was a new program entirely and it wanted me to purchase it.

Needless to say, I uninstalled and will be sticking with 7.5 for now thank you!.

Well, better get back to the work, I have had a nice break by walking around the block with my beautiful wife enjoying the sunshine and re-installing some Xbox games (as we needed to switch Xbox’s before christmas keeping the old hard drive but the new Xbox wouldn’t pick up the installed games, requiring a delete and reinstall).

Wish me luck!

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Kerbal Chaos!

I have been recently watching career mode tutorial videos for the technically brilliant Kerbal Space Program by Scott Manley on YouTube.

I have finally taken the plunge and started a career game.

In KSP you are in charge of the Kerbal Space Program (funny that eh?) and can design and build a seemingly endless variety of spacecraft to launch into space!.

You can orbit planets and moons, land and complete scientific missions, build Space Stations and much more.

It is more a simulation than a game in my view (though it is really fun!) and there are thousands of mods available to augment the gameplay in a myriad of different ways.

It is still heavily in development with a complete “Sandbox” mode where you can design and build to your hearts content and a career mode where you unlock new technologies by conducting space flights and experiments to obtain science.

My first attempted flight was simply a capsule with a parachute attached, connected to a solid state rocket, which is as simple as it gets but I somehow screwed it up as it promptly took off, veered to one side, exploded killing my poor Kerbal astronaut and left the parachute sadly floating to the ground unattached to anything.

Frantically watching the first video again to hopefully see where I had failed, I tried again.

Using an actual engine this time rather than a rocket, it sat on the launch pad.  I pressed “Launch” and it made a noise and sat there mocking me doing nothing, turned out i had forgotten to open the throttle so no fuel was going to the engine.

Third time I attempted a launch, the parachute opened while my rocket was still on the launch pad and then the engine ignited sending my astronaut up into the atmosphere, where he eventually fell back to Kerbin and without a parachute he was killed on impact.

Finally, I got the stages right, opened the throttle, pressed launch and watched in triumph as my puny rocket soared into the heavens.

After having watched a few more videos, i tried to carry out an experiment to earn some science, sadly, I accidently clicked “EVA” and my brave astronaut leapt out of the falling space craft as it fell to earth below him…. yeah I guess you know how that ended too.

Well, I have learnt a lot during these tests and feel bold enough to try again!

Wish Me Luck!


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Spaghetti alla Bolognese

Spaghetti alla Bolognese (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, it’s official.

I am losing weight.

Before I went for a shower, I decided to weigh myself, a little under sixteen stone, so about half a stone loss in a few months since I stopped drinking.

I don’t know if that is the cause, but it must have some bearing on it as I have not been exercising as much as I should have.

My main exercise other than walking is bringing the shopping home on foot every two weeks (which my back does NOT thank me for!).

I haven’t been using Kinect recently due to issues with it not picking me up properly, but I should really try and use it more for the exercise it lets me do.

I also tried on some of my combat trousers which I had grown out of and now I can do them up! also tried on a pair of jeans that I bought but could not do up and they now fit!.

So, all in all I am quite pleased that I have proof I am finally losing weight, it’s not all in my head! ;-)

Now, I am writing this and preparing to make a start on tea, it’s my favourite Spaghetti Bolognese!.

We will probably be watching The X Files with dinner and if I have time, will have a quick session on Knights of the Old Republic or Kerbal Space Program (I haven’t decided yet!) followed by a milky hot chocolate before bed! wow, how action packed my life is! ;-)

See you next time!

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Alcohol Free-Dom

This image shows a red wine glass.

Since giving up alcohol for health reasons some fifteen weeks ago, I have been on the lookout for good alternatives.

I have been drinking a lot of flavoured, sparkling water from Asda, Sainsburys and Tesco’s which is just fine and gives me something to refresh myself during gaming sessions! :-)

However, occasionally I fancy something a little….more.

I found a surprisingly large collection of alcohol free drinks in major supermarkets just by looking hard.

After trying a few different things, I can heartily recommend Becks Blue from any major supermarket (and recently One-Stop) it tastes just like regular Becks, except it is alcohol free!.

I also like the Kopparberg mixed fruit and Cobra 0%.

I can also recommend the Red wine from Sainsbury’s it has a deep, refreshing taste and is indistinguishable from it’s more alcoholic brethren.

Also, Asda has a nice selection of Mocktails which are alcohol free cocktails (very nice!) and Sainsbury’s do a nice champagne which my wife and I had at our wedding (though why it never occurred to us to look at alcohol free drinks after this I don’t know!).

Recently, my wife ran across a website: The Alcohol Free Shop which has an astonishing range of drinks from wine and lagers, to spirits and cocktails.

While I cannot personally attest to the quality as I have not ordered from them yet (they are a little pricey) it is a perfect example of what alternatives are out there if you look hard enough.

One thing that particularly appeals to me is their selection of dark ales as I really do miss an occasional ale and this would be fantastic if they taste anywhere near as good as their alcoholic counterparts.

I hope this has been of some help to those of you who have given up (or are thinking of) giving up alcohol, I wish I had looked into the possibility of alcohol free alternatives much sooner, it would have made the early days a lot easier!

I wont rattle on about the health benefits of alcohol abstinence as many others do, i’m sure you are well aware of the risks associated with alcohol consumption so I don’t need to harp on it here!.

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More Planning!…

Well, recently I have been trying to distract myself from the ever present Depression by trying to get into my games.

I can play for longer than I could this time last year, but it is still a far cry from the old days when I could spend whole days and nights gaming!.

I am planning on applying for volunteer positions with a local farm and the local Police to give myself some structure as well as allotting time for writing, working on my BITC Paranormal Investigators course, Programming and Reading.

So far, it hasn’t been too effective as I find myself easily distracted, especially when I come up blank on what to write or something I don’t understand with Python! but I think this is the best way forward as it gets me back into the habit of working to a schedule.

I was recently ruthless with my games (see here) and have been trying to use Kinect more often for exercise (I know it doesn’t beat going outside but it’s better than nothing and saves me getting soaked in the rain!).

I still feel slightly silly using Kinect but it is pretty cool! I just hope it isn’t sending all those ridiculous videos of me playing and using voice commands to Microsoft for goodness knows what  nefarious purpose! ;-)

Well, I suppose I should get on with some writing or coursework!.

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A Return to Gaming!

Fallout: New Vegas box art

Fallout: New Vegas box art (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, it’s been a fair old while since my last post, so i thought it high time to write and update you all on what’s been happening in my world.

Just before Christmas, we had a run of appointments, from the Dentist’s to the Doctor’s and also a hospital appointment or two so my apologies for not writing!.

I recently had a Liver Biopsy which was a unique experience, my appointment was at 0800 but I got called in early thinking “Yay! this will be over in no time!” but there was a few hour wait until I was called in during which time I had to have another shower using this antibacterial soap in preparation for my procedure (which was strange showering in a hospital!).

Finally, I was called in and had to lie on the bed (with my book ‘The Founding‘ by Dan Abnett just in case there was another delay) while they wheeled me down to the right area (I felt so lazy being able to walk but they wanted me lying down!).

The worst thing was the injection of the anaesthetic, that stuff burns when it goes in until it kicks in and numbs the area!  The Doctor performing the procedure was brilliant, explaining what was going to happen at each step and it was all over in a few moments (I also got to see the sample they took before I was wheeled back!).

After an hour lying on my right side and having my stats checked regularly, I was wheeled back up to the ward where my wife Tracey was waiting patiently (with her book!) and even though I felt ready to leave right away, I had to stay in until about 1900 lying down to ensure there was no complications! good job I had my wife and my book to keep me busy!!.

All the nursing staff and the Doctor were fantastic, I really felt they cared about me and they were friendly and warm, and people say the NHS is bad! we don’t know how lucky we are to have such a system!.

Christmas was great, Tracey got me a model of the SSV Normandy SR1 from Mass Effect 1 which has pride of place on my desk and the Elder Scrolls Anthology containing Arena, Daggerfall, Morrowind GOTY, Oblivion GOTY and Skyrim GOTY.

Needless to say I am getting back into my games and the Elder Scrolls are my favourite universe! I even started using an Xbox controller in the PC to make it easier!.

I have also got into Flight Simulator X (with FS Flying School and REX Essentials) and have been putting a lot of time into Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas and Mass Effect 3 (even though I should be writing and doing my Paranormal Investigator course!).

College has been going really well, we have now finished Microsoft Word and Excel units (that last test was NOT fun! I hate nested IF statements and VLOOKUP!) and are going on to Publisher and Access if we have time, it’s great getting coffee in the Costa in the college as it is a fraction of the price it is outside and it’s really good coffee! helps keep me awake during the more complex parts when my eyes want to glaze over!.

We also sorted through all my games, getting rid of over fifty games (some I hadn’t looked at in years!) we traded them in at CEX in town (which took ages!) and got nearly £50 in vouchers which we spent on Kinect for the Xbox and a few Kinect games to get us started!.

Having a small lounge, we invested in the Zoom accessory for Kinect that is designed to get the Kinect to work in smaller rooms (It’s still not perfect but it is at least usable) and have been having fun with Kinect Sports (Yay Bowling!) and Your Shape 2012.

We finally finished watching all seven series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and are now watching The X-Files.

Well, time to go and do some Programming and maybe some writing, hope you all had a great Christmas!.

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