Saturday, 31 October 2009

We're back from our mini break in Pembrokeshire :)

Ok it's not Tuscany, but I hear Tuscany has really gone downhill recently, they are getting the wrong sort going there on holiday apparently ..... However ..... :) .....Pembrokeshire, I would recommend.... we had a blast..... literally.... but what can you expect when you go at the end of October on the very tip of West Wales ? with a nice bracing breeze off the 51st parallel ;¬)

It wasn't too bad actually the first day was pretty warm at least 17C..... so we went visiting Little Haven first .... which I recommend it's a truly beautiful seaside town, very reminiscent of a Cornwall village...but be warned it seems to have more pubs than houses !!! ;¬)  then onto and past Newgale beach which is lovely in it's desolation and finally we arrived at  St David's Cathedral, on the way back I even drove past my old regiment in Brawdy.... unfortunately both Andrea and I forgot to take the camera with us, so all we have are memories and they are pretty damn hard to post on a blog... so you'll just have to take my word for it, that it was a lovely day out... we settled down for the night, Freya dropped off to sleep rather quickly and we marinated ourselves in two rather nice bottles of Rioja :) .....

The next day we decided on either Manor Park which is the place Anna Ryder Richardson of "Changing Rooms" fame has set up in Pembrokeshire OR Milford Haven itself.... After much holding up of fingers to the icy and wet blast from the Atlantic ......the rain decided on Milford Haven, and Freya had a great time looking at the baby seals in the seal hospital right on the quay side there. They basically run the whole place on charity donations, and rescue seals which have been separated from their mothers in the rough weather... they had six in when we visited and were expecting more after this weekend of rough weather.....we topped off the day with some bowling, because the weather really wasn't up there with dragging a two year old around... we eventually called it a day and GPS'd our way back to where we were staying along the high hedged roads of Pembrokeshire :)

Over all it was a very relaxing couple of days, and was a nice change to get away from the daily grind
we will definitely be going again .... well why not... it's on our doorstep.....literally :)

The only other thing of note is that our Toshiba DVD Divx player bit the dust whilst we were on our break.... I opened it up and wondered why they used such a big box for so little  and sparse electronics... a spring has fallen out of the read head return pressure sensor... effectively it's lost the ability to know where it is on the DVD... which is pretty bad news for a DVD player.... so it just mashes it's read head against the return bar and flashes it's laser ineffectually at a blank piece of DVD real estate......but fair do's  it's played about 10 disc's all told .... you begin to wonder just how long they want them to last .... they'll be giving DVD players away with the films you buy next... talk about shoddy electronics... my wristwatch has more electronics packed in it than that Toshiba... "Oiiii Tosh Gotta Toshiba."... erm no I was silly enough to use it more than 10 times !!!!

Oh and we came back to a house which was intact and not in smouldering ashes... so I guess the Xbox-boy did good eh ?

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Duran Duran & Weston Super Mare

Well half of the kids have been shipped off to darkest Devon to stay with their Dad, but you know it's not going to go smoothly when the first thing that happened was when "Duran Duran" decided to cough and die with a flooded engine.... it does this every now and again, because I suspect the fuel pump gets a bit enthusiastic at times and gives a whole weeks worth of petrol into the engine in one go....the rest of the time it doesn't give enough... but hey ho... you can't have it both ways can you ?

Anyway to cut a very long story short I eventually breathed life into it's pistons and off Andrea went into the Welsh moistness that is October... no sooner had I got in than the phone rang and it was Andrea's ex husband ringing to say his car (unknown 80's group) had coughed and died just outside Weston Super Mare and that he was ringing the AA to get them to fix it.... obviously he doesn't have the same sized hammer that I do ;¬)

anyway I can just imagine Andrea's visage when her ex rings with the glorious news.... ooops

I feel this is going to put off our mini break in Pembrokeshire .. but we'll get there at some point of that I'm sure.... the only worrying thing is the Xbox boy .... just a couple of points really......

A) he's staying at home
B) he has to get himself up for work every morning
C) he has to get himself up for work every morning
D) he has to get himself up for work every morning
E) his girlfriend is staying over

somewhere in that mix is a disaster waiting to happen.... but he's nearly 18 it's about time he took a bit of responsibility on his shoulders ... it's just a case of lighting the blue touch paper and seeing if he fizzles like an out of date firework.... or lights up the sky with surprises....(I'll get the sandbag.....)


Thursday, 22 October 2009

So proud !!! :)

Andrea's half marathon time :)

She did really well :)

The BNP's Nick Griffin's impending airing on BBC television

There has been a lot of debate about this subject the packets have been flying all over the internet regarding it. First off the BNP have upset the military by using iconography of great British achievements such as the "Spitfire" and struggles that our nation has faced and won through.... the irony is that the BNP are closer to Nazi's than most people realise......

which in turn has upset the top brass. They aren't too happy about the BNP trying to bask in the glory of days gone by......even if it is through a wrongly perceived association and nothing more......

BUT then to add insult to injury they have been invited onto "Question Time" at the BBC.... I can see the BBC's point of view on this that they have to be impartial and they are right in making their decision.... but the decision isn't really in their hands.... The government (pah) should decide if a Fascist and openly racist party should get any airtime....fascism and racism are never acceptable even if they are elected by the voting public.... and Nick Griffin's attempt to alter the perception of his party by allowing ethnic groups into his party is laughable..... first off who in their right mind would consider joining the BNP if they were non caucasian or non British (as they put it), and indeed who in their right mind belonging to an ethnic minority or not would want to join a party that has such disgusting ideals ? opening up the party to the very people they revile proves nothing, except dotting the legal I's and crossing the legal T's...

Personally I think the BNP should be given the same air time as any other party, if only to expose their sinister and racist views to the wider public, because the only public reaction to such obvious hate and revulsion is to marginalise their political standing.... Of course the BNP will always have some kind of following because there are people out there who are so narrow minded and set in their ways to even consider the wider view or the feelings and rights of other people and they will remain that way .....lost in their own ignorance and misplaced fear, I fear..... but that's why we fought the last war to free the world of fascism's grip on some societies, which we succeeded in doing but at great cost.... the flip side of that coin is that in a free and democratic society there is room for everybody even fascists and racists, the trick is in not letting them have any power or the right to exercise their views in public..... EVER !!

I remember once whilst I was serving in Germany my then wife and I had to go to the NAAFI, so I parked up the car nearby and we had to walk through a large crowd to get there, I didn't think anything of it, but once we had finished shopping and we were on our way back we noticed the streets were wet, which was pretty strange for mid summer in Germany, we found out later that we had walked through a pro neo-nazi rally/demonstration and it had been dispersed with water cannon !!! another 10 or so minutes and we would have been in that !! The only other time I noticed a slight tinge of Nazi like tendencies was when a friend called Paddy McGaughy (my ex should remember and I decided to stop off for a pint at a lovely gastatte in the woods, we walked in, in our uniform and you know that sinking feeling when you walk into a place and everything goes quiet.... almost along the lines of a western saloon when the honky tonk piano player stops playing and dives for cover ? Well we could see exactly why.... plastered all over the walls were portraits of Himmler, Hitler, Arian figures and yes even swastika's .... needless to say we didn't stop very long and neither did we think we would be served...... ahhhh memories .... ;¬)

addendum :-

I've just seen Nick Griffin being hammered on "Question Time" on a BBC leaked video .....just as I thought the man has no scruples or honour and has the morals of a dog ....

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Only four days left !!!

Until British Summer Time officially ends !! mind you with the rate the leaves are dropping off the trees around these parts it ended weeks ago. It's not been a very spectacular summer, we could count on one hand the days in which we had unbroken sunshine.... Global warming it isn't, Global dampening more like... I've read with interest the articles about global warming and how we are entering the beginning of the end and the next stage is the "tipping point" after which there is no going back. I had to laugh at the drowning puppies advert the government placed where a father is reading a CO2 story to his daughter while she is all snuggled up in bed, you can imagine all the 5 and 6 year old's turning lights off to "stop the puppies drowning".... but I guess I wasn't the demographic they were aiming the advert at.... They may as well have said "all the sweet shops will have to close down because they will be underwater" that probably would have hit home harder.... it's a confusing time for kids, they are getting bombarded with "eco issues" what with recycling and CO2 emissions and retreating ice caps.... and although I'm not against cutting back on what we as a nation and species squander in the form of energy, the whole thing seems a little desperate.... The thing is for every eco climate scientist there is another one saying the precise opposite... I've got to be honest here my personal opinion is that yes humans have polluted the planet, but I think it would be very big headed of us to think that because of our industrious nature we're on the verge of collapsing mother Earth's fragile weather systems. There have been far more cataclysmic events in Earth's history which have released phenomenal amounts of pollutants into the atmosphere and oh look ... we are still here.....

The scientists are looking at very recent data such as retreating ice caps, and CO2 concentrations but historical data shows that retreating ice caps are nothing new, and high CO2 concentrations are nothing new either...

But back to the ice caps, historically every 70 or 80 years they retreat then start to come back, it's on the record in black and white on ship's logs taken from Whaling ships and other ocean going vessels ......granted one of the major impacts of this cycle, would be if the Ocean Conveyor current switched off but the Ocean Conveyor has stopped flowing in the past - 8,200 years ago and 12,700 years ago - in an event associated with the start of an ice age. (yes our planet has had ice ages before !!! it's true...) 

but lets explode the "if the polar ice caps melt we'll all drown" myth .....melting sea ice will not have an impact on sea levels as it already displaces its own weight in water, you can test that theory yourself by filling up a glass with ice cubes and pouring hot water on them to a fixed level... come back 20 minutes later and low and behold the ice has melted but the water level hasn't changed ...... but why pay attention to hard provable science, when the world is running around like chickens with their heads cut off saying when the ice caps melt we'll drown all the puppies.... I think not

(ice melting from land masses will effect sea levels, but the major ice sheets which  are already in the sea won't... just to clarify ;¬) )

Monday, 19 October 2009

Helping with homework and Afghanistan

I've been helping my step daughter with one Robert Browning poem
 and one Wilfred Owen poem and their translation  or what the poet was trying to say into more modern English, it's been a while since I've read any Robert Browning but I've enjoyed putting my ten penneth worth in .... it certainly exercises the grey cells putting things into context and turning a poem which at first glance seems distant and boring into something lively and real.... I've got to admit I'm not particularly a Robert Browning fan, but it's interesting eeking out the meaning behind the poems :) Wilfred Owen however strikes a chord with me ......

The only other thing of note besides making raspberry jelly with grapes with Freya today..... was a rather amusing email from a military recruitment agency head hunting for somebody with IT LAN/WAN skills and also with a military background preferably Royal Signals.... they are looking for somebody to head up the technical WAN/LAN side working with the Royal Signals under the ISAF comms group in Kabul.... it pays handsomely at £278 a day (yes that's over £8000 a month salary it's a daily rate so 30 days) .... and they stipulate it's "unarmed" however it comes with accommodation,food, free flights and insurance.... you have to wonder if it's a tad dangerous at £8000 a month salary....(hmmmmmmm.... I wonder who I would be replacing and did he fly back to Brize Norton in a box ...or several boxes ...?)

After all reconfiguring a Cisco router or re-installing a Windows Server isn't "that" fraught with might drop a server on your finger whilst moving  it, or slice your hand open on a badly machined bit of metal work but that's about it really......

So that only leaves bombs, bullets and IED's.... I've never actually managed an Ethernet network under fire... and to be honest with you it's not up there with swimming with dolphins or spending a night with Angelina Jolie whilst Brad Pitt films on location across the other side of the world.... I did however "think" about it for a short while.... over £8000 a month is VERY tempting but £8000 a month and being brown bread is pretty  much completely UNattractive from a life point of view ;¬) ... and lets face it, you don't get any medals for increasing bandwidth on a WAN in Afghanistan... you just end up being broadcast all over the news as some unfortunate/greedy civilian who is much shorter than when he flew out there and has no need of a hat...or has inherited air conditioning of the skull courtesy of a Russian made 7.62mm round or worse.....

So basically no amount of money would tempt me out there.... I guess I'm simply not greedy .... or stupid enough...  bravery doesn't come into it ...... bravery is going out there on a soldiers pay, which kind of makes the whole thing rather obscene really.... in two months I would have earned an average infantry soldiers entire yearly pay......without so much as putting my life on the line in comparison .......makes you think doesn't it.... the  military are willing to pay obscene amounts of money for civilian contractors but not the men who put their lives on the line out there on a daily basis  ?

The contract is initially for 6 months but has the possibility of stretching to two and a half years, that's 912 days @ £278 a day, which comes to just over 1/4 of a million for just over 2 years work......and I doubt if I had decided to go for the position that I would have been the only IT comms/security specialist out there ......

Thursday, 15 October 2009

I think my daughter is trying to give me a heart attack

I had just taken off my man pinny,  you know the ones with ladies bosoms and a thong on, and had literally just turned off the hoover after doing my Freddy Mercury impression .....when I noticed that it was all quiet in the kitchen where I had left Freya in her high seat, so I called out her name answer... called again as I was moving rather quickly towards the kitchen .... still no answer...... there she was having pulled her chair across the kitchen and was in the process of jabbing a butter knife (metal) into the toaster....

To say my heart skipped several beats, I promptly tripped over myself and in the style of Edmund Blackadder in the final series and in the final scene ... and in just as much slow motion mouthing "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO"  I launched myself towards her and removed the offending butter knife from her inquisitive and busy hands.... I smacked the back of her hand to let her know how upset I was at her and she promptly burst into tears..... to be honest I'd rather her be afraid of going near the toaster because of how angry I would get rather than her finding out the hard way .... and 240v through such a small body wouldn't do it much good... anyway after a couple of minutes I calmed down ... and so did she...... I guess it's just one of those phases kids go through where they have to experiment with everything .... I suppose it's no worse than when I was a kid ....I was about five years old I think and my Dad was fixing an old valve radio on the kitchen table, soldering iron out, meter etc ... I was fascinated, he wandered off to get something but told me not to touch the radio or the soldering iron... I didn't touch the soldering iron I knew about those having been burnt by one.... the radio however proved too tempting and I touched one of the components and was promptly thrown across the room.... after dusting myself off I sat back on my chair with tears in my eyes holding my sore hand... my Dad came back in the room noticed me sniffling and said with a chuckle... "you touched the radio didn't you ?" "yes" I said ...."That'll teach you to listen...." .... it did

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Cute fwuffy (but dead) squirrels

Or one at least that I had to put out of it's misery, it had obviously been smacked by a car which passes our quiet country lane of a road and it ran into our yard for sanctuary, by the looks of it it had been smacked pretty hard and was screaming in agony.... I've never heard a Squirrel scream before and to be frank I don't want to hear another one scream either... it's the most piercing cry.... it was running around in circles with it's front paws and it's back legs were just dragging quite obviously deeply distressed and badly injured... I left it for a while thinking maybe it's just had the stuffing knocked out of it, I thought it may recover but then it promptly lay down still screaming in agony... so I did the only thing I could in that situation and put it out of it's misery with my air rifle... I was quite glad when the screaming had stopped to be honest....he/she was almost certainly going to die but I didn't see the point in letting it suffer unnecessarily ....on inspection of its body it looked like it's back had been broken by the impact of the car..... poor thing....I know some of you are going to say Grey Squirrels are simply pests, but to be honest it's been quite funny watching him steal all the hazelnuts in the hedgerows around our house and bounding across the lawn(s).... ahh well I'm sure another one will muscle in on the territory around here there are rich pickings on the hazelnut front.... lets hope the next one has more road sense ??? 

Monday, 12 October 2009

Dying laptops and being a marathon runners widow

Well my ex girlfriend dropped by with her sorry drunken laptop.... it's sitting next to me now in a cardboard box ........£600 of laptop wiped out with one glass of wine !! ... I tried to recover the data off the hard drive but Cara-Lyn had done a sterling job in destroying it... Anyway she invested in a new laptop a very nice HP/Compaq wide screen laptop the only down side was that it came pre-installed with Vista Home Premium.... I personally have never liked Vista in any shape or form, it's clunky and too dependant on flashy looking graphics with it's GUI which makes it sluggish to respond in comparison to my preferred Operating systems such as Linux and yes even Windows XP... She left almost happy .... at least she had a working laptop .... but sent me an email the other day saying her new laptop had killed itself .... yes her new laptop died a death also, the hard drive died on her.... she took it back to PC-World and they fixed it by giving her a new one...(you've got to laugh)..... mind you 65% of all computer failures happen within the first week.... so no surprises there....

Andrea is busily preparing for the Cardiff half marathon next weekend, she is running it with her friend Niki, they've booked a hotel in Cardiff because driving down there, finding a parking space.... then going on the half marathon would just be too much hassle.... I don't blame her actually, I'd probably do the same.....She's hoping for a sub 2 hour half marathon.... I've a sneaking suspicion she will do it at least 10 minutes under a 2 hour marathon.... but we shall see :)

She is also trying to raise money for her pledge amount towards Asthma UK all tied in with her running the London Virgin Marathon ......she got up at 6am this weekend to do a car boot sale with all proceeds to go towards Asthma UK, she raised a grand total of £28 !! so if any of you people who read my blog feel like supporting something worthwhile go here and drop some cash in the collecting tin :)

I don't think there are any online donations as of yet because the website hasn't been up that long, but it will certainly raise a smile if somebody does sponsor her, and it will make all the hard work and dedication she has been putting in over the months feel all the more satisfying... :)

I'm really proud of Andrea... does it show ? ;¬)

Saturday, 10 October 2009

The benefits of using OpenDNS

There are a lot of programs out there which monitor and block unsavoury websites, most of them cost a fair bit of money, but OpenDNS is different because it's not only free to use, but it gives unparalleled control over what your kids get up to online.

For those of you not familiar with what DNS is, it's basically how the internet translates our human readable web addresses into something that the internet can understand .... that being IP addresses, when you type in into your browser or whatever you are using.... that is translated to an IP number at the DNS server in this case (try it !!) then sent to your PC for use... and it is with this number that your browser is directed and eventually shows the google search page.... simple eh ? .... you could browse the internet by putting in the IP numbers of the website you want to visit but remembering every website by it's number unless you are some kind of memory man/woman is pretty unwieldy for most mortal humans......

Now things start to go wrong when DNS fails, sometimes that can happen at your ISP and any requests for translation into an IP addresses (a DNS request) are either rejected or ignored because the server(s) aren't responding or down.... your request for Google simply evaporates into thin air, or in this case the ether !!

That said, this is how OpenDNS works instead of directing you to the asked for web page (IP address) your request is directed  to a web page which says why that web page is blocked. The really brilliant thing about OpenDNS is that you can specify what type of things you want blocked  for instance :-


You simply tick the subject matter you don't want on your internet connection and OpenDNS does the rest for you, OpenDNS is driven by user input so if enough people complain about a website then it's put into the appropriate category automatically for you. You can also see system statistics about top domains visited etc, the best way to install it is to set your router to use the OpenDNS DNS servers which are and Once installed you create an account at and start controlling what flows into your network. if you are particularly worried about P2P filesharing you can block that and your network will never receive another MP3 file.... like all things it's not 100% efficient, but it's up there in the very high 90%'s which is usually more than enough to stop the average teenager as they will probably give up after the 20th rejection and move onto something more savoury.....I have tested it thoroughly and can assure you if say you wanted to block MSN or Social Networking then MSN or any website based around social networking is completely blocked, you can't even use MSN web messenger or any of the clones out there... they simply don't work.... which is great for banning stroppy teenagers off the net and effectively ending their social lives for the predetermined punishment time allotted by you  ;¬)

OpenDNS also quickens your internet connection response times because it utilises caching.... bringing you your web pages from it's own servers where it can.... you can also create your own shortcuts whereby you can enter a shorter name for say, such as G or g and all you have to type into your browser is g or G and it will take you there :) all in all a brilliant FREE tool :) at the moment I just use it to cut down on the adware and phishing scams that seem to be drowning the internet.....

Friday, 9 October 2009

Feathered Dinosaurs.....

It seems in China they have unearthed a series of fossils which date further back than "Archaeopteryx" and clearly shows well formed feathers that dates back 150 million years, which is a good 10 million years before old Archi arrived on the scene. This of course upsets the apple cart on the tree of life where palaeontologists thought that Archaeopteryx was the earliest reptile with feathers..... I have no doubt that feathers arrived earlier than this latest fluffy dinosaur, but because creating a fossil takes specific things to happen for an animal to be preserved in this way it ie/ tripping over in a shallow river bed after eating too many fermenting fruits then banging their heads and consequently drowning in the shallow water and being covered with sediment... ;¬) it may be a long time before we unearth an older example.... but this has happened before where markers have been moved backwards and forwards.....when something new has been discovered...... it's not inconceivable that some of the larger carnivorous dinosaurs produced cute fluffy chicks... only later turning into massive meat grinders ;¬)

Personally I'm waiting for the God killer fossil(s) something which turns Christianity on it's head and effectively re-writes creation as nothing more than a man made story.... for that I'll buy pop corn and sit and watch the fireworks from afar ;¬)

Monday, 5 October 2009

Nothing overly exciting to report today.....

Although I did give Xbox boy a lesson in cooking, in preparation for his university days, when I explained that being able to cook would mean more money in his pocket to drink beer instead of wasting it on incessant takeaways and pot noodles.... He seemed to agree with that :) Mind you I say university days, a few months ago it was the Royal Marines, then the Royal Signals and before that it was a games designer.... to be honest I don't think he even knows himself what he wants to do.... Well I do but sitting in front of the computer/xbox isn't going to happen on my shift! ! he's currently looking for a job, well he doesn't have much choice about it really because that's all he can look for on the internet because everything else is banned through OpenDNS on the router between the hours of 9am and 5pm :)

Cruel I know but much better than him hastily trying to close a website or clumsily switch between windows when he should be looking for a job when I walk into the kids lounge :) The kids probably hate the fact that I can manipulate the computers in this house as easily as they pick their noses... but it cuts down on so much shouting...."Get off that bloody computer NOW!!!" simply doesn't happen in this house.... Once or twice they've tried to circumvent the security and scripts and policies I've installed, but any attempts are monitored 24/7 by the computer and if so much as a byte is changed or even a time stamp......they get sent an immediate shutdown .... makes trying to kill the security a lonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnng winded affair.... plus it self heals after every reboot... so kind of pointless :)

The only other thing of note is that I made some cakes with Freya this afternoon .....she really does like cooking and beats a mean egg although she does refer to cakes as Kikes or Kike, the hardest part is stopping her from scooping great wads of cake mixture out and eating it......she spent the greater part of the cake making episode saying "NUMMY, NUMMY.....KIKE !!" she really is a little darling and has the wickedest sense of humour.... She definitely got her good looks from her mother but unfortunately her warped sense of humour from her Dad, her latest madness is shouting "I .....LOVE......BANANAS" from her cot when she is put to bed, she really is an endless conveyor belt of nuttiness and has us in stitches quite often.... it's her 2nd birthday soon on the 23rd of October .... and Rhiannon's as well ... I still miss them both quite badly especially around times like this.... :( Ah well .....

Ohhh now this is funny(ish) for me not for her....... my ex girlfriend Caralyn is coming down to see me, well not specifically to see me, she had a bit of a mishap with her all singing and dancing laptop which I supplied to her last year.... she was watching the TV with a glass of red wine in her hand with the laptop on her lap relaxing a bit..... and yes you've guessed it she flinched and promptly dumped a full glass of wine onto her laptop keyboard.....Now Caralyn's wine glasses are a little bit bigger than red fire buckets...needless to say it blue screened.... (shock horror) ... she then rang me up after attempting to dry it with a hair dryer....(blonde mistake number one) I immediately told her to tip the laptop upside down and remove the battery.... I should have been more specific and said "remove the battery AND the power cable" (you've guessed it ....blonde mistake number two) needless to say as she was talking to me about what could be done....and I was just saying "ohhhh that's expensive and tutting...." when it started smoking quite badly.... I had to laugh because she made a squeak and literally threw the laptop across the room and shouted "MY LAPTOP IS ON FIRE !!!" I couldn't help it and had to say to her that was the worst rendition of a Kings of Leon song I had ever heard....she fell about laughing...which is no mean feat to make somebody laugh with their smoking laptop by their side......

Anyway the upshot is she has bought a new laptop and wants me to transfer all her data across to her new laptop..... I'm hoping the old hard drive isn't as pissed as a fart or it will be a wasted journey, but she is combining it with a visit to her Nan and Aunt who live locally (small world eh ?) so probably won't be a "completely" wasted journey should I not be able to administer paracetamol to the hard drive ;¬) we shall see.