Monthly Archives: June 2009

June 2009 Round-up

What’s this? The year’s half over already? How did that happen? Well, let’s see what’s been happening in June:


June 1: 220 pounds (15 stone 10 pounds, 99.8 kg)
June 30: 220.8 pounds (15 stone 10.8 pounds, 100.2 kg)
Difference: A negligible rise of 0.8 pounds (0.4 kg), though there were some alarming higher weights this month


I’ve been doing badly, but I’ve made a start this week on cutting back at lunchtime. I think the secret is to make sure I get a really tasty sarnie, then I won’t feel deprived.


I keep meaning to walk to work, and indeed I may have done it once, but I still need the motivation button to be pressed.


Well, it’s been another busy one – including this post, the total will be 110, which is just a few short of last month’s total, and that month had a whole extra day, so there. I’ve also had a bit of work to do on Tiggercam.


Well, in the last few weeks, I got my finances sorted out, paid off the credit cards (and destroyed them, very important to do that) and managed to get a few new toys, which I’ve mentioned in other posts. I’ve had a few photo walks, including one with my new phone. More photography and stuff to come!

Moving up a Level

It’s hard to believe, but it’s nearly three years since I bought the Canon 30D, and I have to say it’s served me very well. I’ve had a lot of fun with it, it’s encouraged me to get out and about and go to various places, and has generally been a Good Thing.

But camera technology moves on, and although the 30D is still a damn fine camera, it lacks some of the features that newer models have, such as automagic sensor cleaning, auto ISO[1], not to mention newer processing circuits and more megapixels. Not that the pixel count is that important. Unless you’re planning to print your images at poster size, you can do quite nicely with anything from 5MP upwards. But then again, if you’ve got lots of pixels to play with, you can crop images down to just the bit you want people to see, and still have enough detail to make the picture worth looking at.

So, I have been thinking about it. I wasn’t bothered when Canon brought out the 40D, but the 50D did interest me as a potential upgrade – lots of nice refinements, it would use all the same lenses, and was only moderately expensive. But, and here’s the question, was it good enough to justify buying it as a replacement or as a new main camera, keeping the 30D as a “spare”? And I decided that it wasn’t really. Maybe in a while when the price came down a bit, or maybe when the 60D or 70D or whateverD came out?

But there was another possibility. A rather more expensive possibility, but one that would certainly encourage me to make an effort to do more with my pictures, and indeed to take more of them. When Canon announced the 5D MK II last year, I have to admit to drooling a bit. It comes with 21 of those megapixel thingies to the 30D’s 8. It has newer and more sophisticated image processing circuitry. It does that sensor cleaning thing. And it’s full-frame, which means that the sensor not only has more points on it, but it’s physically bigger, which reduces the electronic noise generated by too many points too close together[2]. Its built a little more robustly. Oh yeah, and it does full HD video as well.

The downsides, from my point of view, were the cost and the fact that some of my lenses, being designed for cameras with smaller sensors, can’t be used with the 5D. Luckily, my lovely macro lens and that dinky little f/1.8 50mm lens most certainly can be used with the big beast. In fact, the main loss would be the lens that came with the 30D – the 17-85mm image stabilised beastie. Now that’s a bit of a shame, as it’s a nice lens to keep on the camera, as its zoom range is pretty useful. On the other hand, it means I could leave that lens on the 30D, so it would always be ready for action.

And so I dithered for quite a while, before devising a Cunning Plan. What I would do was this: I’d start buying some better lenses, which I knew I’d need to take advantage of the 5D Mk II, but which would work perfectly well with the 30D. And I’d wait for the price of the 5D MK II to come down a wee bit more.

Well, I did a lot of reading and browsing, and came to the conclusion that the lens I’d really want as my “walk-around” lens was the 24-105mm L IS USM – the “L” indicating that it’s one of Canon’s superior quality lenses. Then came the “ouch” moment. Bought on its own, that lens sells for various prices around £900, which is a lot. It’s seriously expensive. But, and it’s an interesting but, if you buy a bundle of the 5D MK II with the lens, the price of the lens (based on the difference between the bundle price and the body-only price) is a much less scary £500.

So after a bit more dithering and looking….



It arrived today, and I took it out at lunchtime. The results of that will probably appear tomorrow, as it’s taken a while to install and update the Canon software[3], and I need to have some food soon.

[1] If you need to ask, you probably don’t really want to know. But it’s nice.
[2] That’s one reason why the results from small cameras and phones with too many pixels can be a bit disappointing
[3] One of the things I hadn’t got round to installing on the iMac

Weight Report – 30 June 2009

Up a teeny bit today, but not enough to get annoyed about.

I had a bit of a walk to the Quayside to take some pictures[1] at lunchtime, and once again I restricted my actual lunch to a single sarnie.[2]

[1] More on that later…
[2] Another very tasty artisan[3] baguette from Pret – Prosciutto ham, Italian cheese and tomato. Lovely
[3] Rough texture, very nice indeed

Weight Report – 29 June 2009

Well, that’s better. Quite a dramatic difference from yesterday’s figure.

Anyway, I took that business of getting a whisker over the scray 16 stone mark as a bit of a warning, and made a bit of a start: for lunch, I had one normal sized sandwich. No sausage rolls. Not even a footlong from Subway.

I had vaguely planned to walk to work, but even though I left the house on time, I didn’t quite manage it – my weak excuse was that it was a bit damp and I thought it might turn to proper rain, and I didn’t want to get too wet. I’ll try to do better tomorrow…

Best. Tetris. Ever.

OK, now I’m really impressed. I’ve played a lot of versions of Tetris over the years, from the classic monochrome GameBoy original, thorough a nifty 3D version on my old Atari ST[1] and assorted computer, console and mobile phone versions since then. But now I’ve found the niftiest yet. It’s simple enough – in the levels I’ve played so far, it’s classic Tetris as we know and love it, but it’s the controls that make it something special.

It’s an excellent example of an application that’s been designed to work on the iPhone. Tapping to the left or right of the descending piece rotates it. Moving to the left or right is a simple matter of sliding a finger in the appropriate direction. Moving downwards is done with a slide, and a quick drop is just a fast flick away. It really works remarkably well, and I was quite happy to pay £2.99 for it – it’s several million times more playable that the Java version I had on my Sony Ericsson phone, which I think might have been a wee bit more expensive.

[1] Yes, I am going back 20 years now…

Addiction Warning! (Or, Bejewelled 2 on iPhone)

Bejewelled is one of those classic games that can be dangerously addictive. It’s deceptively simple – all you have to do is switch coloured jewels around to make lines of three or more, but it has that “just one more game” factor. I believe someone or other described it as being like crack. Not having used crack, I couldn’t really judge, but I’ve enjoyed playing it on various computers and phones, and occasionally spent far to long at it now and then.

But all those versions pale into insignificance compared to the iPhone version. Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear. It’s standard Bejewelled, but perfectly designed for the touchscreen interface of the iPhone. No mice, no moving a cursor[1], just tap the jewel you need to move. Quite superb, and as near to perfect as a game can get. Well worth the £1.79 it costs from the App Store, and installs quite nicely over WiFi directly to the iPhone. Me like.

[1] Quite fiddly on joystick phones

Weight Report – 28 June 2009

Buggrit. Millennium hand and shrimp. MUTTER. That is it. Now I’m really going to have to kick myself into action and make some effort to do something about the weight situation.

Targets need to be set. Things need to be done. Walks need to be walked and sausage rolls need to be shunned with maximum shunnage.

Stand by for updates.

Robin Hood – Something Worth Fighting For – 2

Well, despite the BBC’s best efforts to hide it, I caught the last episode of this series of Robin hood last night, and it was, like the show in general, a silly thing with some good moments. You might recall that in last week’s episode, Robin, his unlikely ally Guy and the good people of Nottingham had captured the town, imprisoned temporary Sheriff Isabella, and had their celebrations interrupted by the delivery of a slightly dead Allan and the arrival of a much less dead than he was supposed to be Sheriff of Nottingham complete with army.[1]

Blamire, that delightfully sinister henchman from last week, who turned out to be henching[2] for the Proper Sheriff, and not Isabella as everyone[3] thought, organises a bit of a siege, complete with some quite nice trebuchets. But before the fun starts, proper form has to be followed, so Robin and Guy ride out under flag of truce to have a nice chat with the Sheriff, who indicates that he’d like to have his town back and to have Guy handed over to him[4]. Robin suggests that the Sheriff should go away and he and Guy go back to organise the defence of the walled town.

Blamire tests his fancy trebuchets with a nicely sub-orbital launch of a barrel full of what Tuck identifies as “Byzanitine Fire”, a nasty, sticky explosive mixture that causes a lot of damage. While the gang have a quick cremation for Allan, Guy goes to see his dear sister and, err, kindly gives her some poison so she can give herself a quick death when the time comes. I’m sure I’m not the only one who questioned the wisdom of giving a bottle of poison to someone as devious and murderous as Isabella, but Guy never was that bright…

While Kate slips away to get reinforcements from an army loyal to King Richard based at Loughborough, there’s a bit of friction when Archer admits that he was the Sheriff’s supplier of Byzantine Fire. Robin interrupts the bickering by organising a raid to do something about the trebuchets. Leaving Much behind to supervise defences, Robin, Guy, Tuck and Little John sneak out and fiddle with the hardware a bit. They were just in time, it seems, as Blamire immediately appears and orders that the attack should start immediately – none of that waiting till dawn business. Well, it seems the adjustments must have worked, because the trebuchets fire their burning barrels straight up in the air, and as what goes up generally does come down, the barrels drop straight on to their launchers, destroying them quite nicely. That would have been fine, but the Sheriff realises who must be to blame for breaking his toys, and Robin and his friends are quickly surrounded by soldiers. But that’s not a problem because Archer arrives, shoots a few arrows, and everyone gets back to the town, complete with a sample of Byzantine Fire for Tuck to analyse and synthesise[5].

While Isabella tries to persuade her guard to let her out of the dungeon, the attack begins. The town’s outer gates are soon breached, and the defenders fall back to the castle courtyard, shooting numerous arrows which just for once seem to be killing people. Down in the dungeon, the guard falls for Isabella’s persuasion and opens her cell. She rewards him by stabbing him with his own dagger, which is probably not quite what he was expecting to get.

Things aren’t going too well for the defenders, either. The Sheriff has captured Kate and has some news. Those reinforcements won’t be coming, as King Richard is being held to ransom by Leopold of Austria[6], and the army won’t fight if they’re not going to get paid. Much does a fancy rope trick to rescue Kate[7] and Robin gets a bit sulky before doing one of those big speeches about justice, freedom and getting killed for a good cause. In a desperate attempt to make him stop doing that, the Sheriff’s army attacks.

While the Sheriff and Blamire head for his not so secret tunnel, which Archer blocked last time, Tuck has managed to make his own Byzantine Fire, from some conveniently available ingredients. In a remarkably short space of time, he’s made loads of it. Huge barrels full of the stuff, all nicely stacked inside the castle.

Having lost the courtyard, the defenders fall back into the castle, where Guy sees Isabella sneaking around and heading to the secret tunnel, which she knows is blocked. Guy, smart boy that he is, follows her. While that’s going on, the Sheriff blows the tunnel with more of that handy Byzantine Fire and there’s a lovely reunion down in the tunnels, which naturally leads to a rather messy fight involving the Sheriff, Blamire, Isabella (who admits to have been working with the Sheriff), Guy, Archer and Robin.

Guy manages to get seriously sliced, and Robin gets a small cut from Isabella’s dagger, but as she’s used the poison her considerate brother gave her to coat the dagger, it’s a bit more serious than it seems. Yup, Robin is going to die, which amuses the Sheriff quite a lot.

A plan is hatched. All the defenders will leave the castle via the cellars, where they’ll hide while the Sheriff’s army comes through the tunnel. Once the army has come through, everyone will escape. Robin tells Archer to get on with that, while he cradles the dying Guy in his arms, and they both get a bit weepy over Marian[8] until Guy actually dies. Robin has a quick word with Tuck about his state of health, then goes off with Archer.

And so the good guys[9] get away, and the Sheriff gets his castle back. He hardly has time to be happy about that, or indeed to notice that the defenders all seem to have left when a weakening Robin fires one last burning arrow through the window which lands on a large barrel. As Archer helps Robin get away, the Sheriff realises what’s in the barrel.

And with a quite impressive explosion, the castle is destroyed, collapsing with such force that anyone in it would have to be crushed by falling masonry[10].

Then it’s off to the forest. Robin says his goodbyes to all his friends, telling Archer to make sure this doesn’t finish[11], then wanders off on his own to collapse, see a quick vision of Marian and die.

Which would have been as good a point to end as any, so naturally there was a bit more pontificating from Tuck about “Robin Hood goes on” and the old “We are Robin Hood” line got a revival.

And so there it is. Will there be another series? Will Archer return as Robin Hood 2.0? Will the Sheriff haul himself out of his ruined castle muttering about how he’d have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for those interfering outlaws? Does anyone actually care either way?

And that’s the problem. While it’s been enjoyable enough Saturday evening entertainment, it’s neither serious enough nor funny enough[12] to make me care if it comes back or not. If it comes back, I’m sure I’ll still watch, but if it doesn’t, I won’t really miss it[13].

But if the BBC are in any doubt about what to spend their money on, maybe they could take over Primeval, since apparently ITV haven’t got any money and aren’t going to commission another series. Now that show is one I will miss.

[1] And if you didn’t remember, you now now all you need to about that episode and you can spare yourself the ordeal of watching it :smile:
[2] Me? Make up words? As if!
[3] Especially Isabella
[4] He’s a wee bit annoyed that Guy tried to kill him, apparently
[5] OK, they didn’t go so far as to use those words, but they were implied!
[6] What?? Hold on – that’s historically accurate, more or less! That’s not supposed to happen in this show!!!
[7] Better not to ask. Really.
[8] Nice girl. Robin married her, Guy killed her.
[9] But not Guy
[10] Yeah. Right. I’m sure…
[11] Well, somebody’s got to do the hero bit…
[12] Though some of its more serious moments were very funny indeed
[13] I’ll just have to find something else to gently mock

Bleach Attack!

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. In an otherwise quite serious report about a predicted heatwave, BBC News managed to include this alarming subheading:

Errr, Flash?

Errr, Flash?

Attack of the killer bleach!!!! No doubt by the time anyone reads this, the offending heading will have had its spelling corrected, and the guilty party sent wherever the BBC sends people who have problems with the English language, but I’ve kept a screen capture, so there!

Update: Now there’s a surprise! The subhead now refers to “lightning” which seems a lot more likely.