Monthly Archives: February 2013

February 2013 Round-up

As the shortest month of the year drifts off into obscurity, it’s once again time for the exciting monthly wossname


February 1: 220.7 pounds (15 stone 10.7 pounds, 100.1 kg)
February 28: 219.6 pounds (15 stone 9.6 pounds, 99.6 kg)

That’s a drop of just over a pound, or about half a kilogram, which is much the same as last month.  At least it’s consistent…


This has been variable, with the odd pasty-type thingy sneaking in some lunchtimes.


There was a distinct lack of walking to or from work this month, but I did get a moderate bit of exercise during my Bristol/Wales trip. Should do more of that, really.


Another quiet month on the posting front, with this report bringing the total to a remarkably sane 40.


Did I mention I got a new computer:bouncy:

Weight and Stuff Report – 28 February 2013

Another small rise today. At lunchtime, I had a walk to Northumberland Street where I took some pictures I’d been asked to provide. More on that later, if they’re used..

Today’s picture is another bit of Bristol street art. I like this a lot.

Jukebox Chimera Beast

Jukebox Chimera Beast

Camera: iPhone 4S
Aperture: ƒ/2.4
Shutter speed: 1/60s
Focal length: 4.28mm
ISO: 64
Taken: 13 February, 2013
Location: 51° 27.39′ 0″ N 2° 35.68′ 0″ W

Weight and Stuff Report – 27 February 2013

Hmm, up again today, as the oscillation goes on…

I had a bit of a walk at lunchtime, which involved meeting this character:

Iron Man (beware of imitations)

Iron Man (beware of imitations)

Camera: iPhone 4S
Aperture: ƒ/2.4
Shutter speed: 1/1100s
Focal length: 4.28mm
ISO: 50
Taken: 27 February, 2013
Location: 54° 58.2′ 0″ N 1° 37.1′ 0″ W

iMac 27″ 3.4GHz i7

Having briefly mentioned this last week, I suppose it’s time I went into a bit more detail about my new improved computing environment. I bought my first iMac in June 2009, and it served me well for a long time, especially after having its RAM upgraded to what seemed like a quite large 8GB. As with any computer, I’ve had the occasional issue, but overall it’s been stable and reliable and has generally melted into the background and let me get on with stuff.

But in the last six months or so, I noticed a distinct slowdown. Well, I don’t think it was so much the iMac getting slower as the things I was asking it to do getting bigger and more complex. Starting Lightroom was taking what seemed like ages, for instance. I even resorted to splitting my catalog into smaller ones, which did speed things up, but removed the convenience of being able to work on photographs from any time since 2006. Another problem was loading my weight tracking spreadsheet in Excel, which was getting distinctly grungy.

As the machine already had as much memory as it could take, and I didn’t really want to perform the more serious surgery involved in replacing the hard disk, and well, it was getting on a bit, the time had really come to consider a replacement. Ideally, something a bit whizzier, which should last me at least as long. And ideally, available soon enough for the first iMac to still have a moderate resale value.

So when the latest iMac models were announced, I was interested. There are numerous reviews and comments around about the extreme slimness of the cases, the less reflective screens and so on, so I’ll pass over those more obvious details. What I wanted was a major performance boost, and that was definitely on offer. Nicely zippy processors, and in the case of the larger iMac, a maximum RAM configuration of 32GB. But what seriously interested me was Apple’s take on hybrid SSD/HDD storage, which they call a Fusion drive. Basically, you get a 1TB or 3TB hard drive with a smaller solid state drive linked to it. This appears as a single drive, which the user doesn’t have to think about. Instead, the operating system does some nifty stuff which involves putting frequently used applications and data on the SSD fro maximum performance. This sounded interesting, and I knew I wanted one.

Anyway, after some dithering, and despite a quoted lead time of three to four weeks when I made my decision, I ordered a build to order model direct from Apple. I went for the 3TB Fusion drive on the grounds that I was getting to the point where I’d have so little free space on the old machine’s 1TB HDD that I’d have to start shuffling data around, which I prefer to avoid. I also specified one of the whizzier graphics cards. But I went for the minimum 8GB RAM, as Apple still like to charge silly prices for memory. Instead, I ordered a 32GB kit from Crucial, who have always been my preferred memory supplier.

I then settled down to wait. I had an estimated delivery window of 20-28 February, so I wasn’t seriously expecting it to arrive until this week. I did wonder if I should revise my expectations when I got a dispatch notification on February 14, but as that estimated delivery on 25 February, I decided not to hold my breath. I was therefore pleasantly surprised when it was actually delivered last week, a day earlier than the earliest originally estimated date. By a totally random coincidence, the extra RAM arrived the same day, which was convenient.

The previous iMac came in a box that was just about manageable. As I recall, I walked along Grey Street and caught the bus[1] home with it. But this was just a wee bit bigger, which made that seem like a bad idea, so I got a taxi home[2].

After unboxing the computer, and freeing up some desk space and an ethernet cable, I plugged it in and gave ti a quick test. First impressions were pretty good, so I shut down and installed the new memory – this involves pressing a little button located where the mains lead goes in[3], which makes a little hatch pop out. Inside the hatch are a couple of levers, which can be used to swing out the four memory slots. Two were occupied by the standard 8GB RAM, which I removed and then filled all the slots with my new Crucial RAM. Once those were properly seated, and the iMac plugged back in, this was the happy result:



Then came the moderately boring bit of copying my music library over the network and letting iTunes sort itself out. While that was going on, I set up my email accounts, which was the usual simple task, as quite intelligently recognised my domains as using Gmail and configured the server settings for me. Then came the really fun job: importing my photographs into Lightroom. I decided to revert to a single catalog, as the split thingy I’d done on the old machine was purely to get around the limitations of the hardware. I used Lightroom’s “Import from another Catalog” function, which ensures all the metadata comes across. As I had eight of the things to import, this took a while, but I was able to do other things while the computer did its stuff, so that wasn’t a problem.

I finished off installing software and copying data, took a final updated backup of the old iMac, then  connected the 20″ secondary display. It’s a funny thing, but when I bought my first 20″ display, it seemed huge. Now it looks, well, tiny:

Big and small screens

Big and small screens

Camera: BlackBerry 9780

Anyway, everything is now nicely set up, and I’m actually using the new iMac, which leads to my first impressions thingy. OK, this thing is fast. The Fusion drive magic does appear to work. Lightroom, which used to take minutes to get to a usable state, now loads and is ready for work in about seven seconds. Excel, which used to take what seemed like forever to load my only moderately large weight record spreadsheet, now takes hardly any time at all.  Photoshop CS6 is similarly quick.

Nice kit, does what I was hoping for.

[1] I always have things delivered to work, much easier than missing deliveries, having to rearrange them, etc
[2] Not something I do often
[3] So it’s physically impossible to open the memory hatch with the machine powered on

David Bowie does it again

Last month, David Bowie surprised almost everybody by releasing a new single. The surprise was at least as much from the fact that the new song was as good as it was as the fact that it existed at all, at a point when most people had assumed that Bowie had lapsed into a dignified retirement. The even bigger surprise was that the album is getting some very good reviews from people who’ve had the chance to hear it before the rest of us[1], and I’m most definitely looking forward to hearing it in a couple of weeks.

So it probably shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to learn that he’s put out another single, with the same amount of warning as the previous one. The video shows David and Tilda Swinton as a quite respectable couple having trouble with their new neighbours, one of whom looks entirely like a young David Bowie…

[1] Dear music journalists, please don’t take it personally when I say that I hate you all

Weight and Stuff Report – 26 February 2013

Up a bit today, but not all that much, so maybe yesterday’s low wasn’t a one-off weird wossname. It was another day of not having the thinginess to walk far at lunchtime, so the step count is moderately low again.

Today’s picture was taken by a colleague[1] at last Friday’s pizza and drinkies after work. It’s that rare thing on this site, a picture of me. Enjoy it, there won’t be many more of them!



Camera: FinePix X100
Aperture: ƒ/11
Shutter speed: 1/30s
Focal length: 23mm
ISO: 3200
Taken: 22 February, 2013

[1] Taken with my Fuji X100

Jake Bugg – Seen It All

I mentioned the excellent Jake Bugg last October, and his album still sounds pretty damn good to me. What sounds particularly good is that Seen It All, a track I particularly like, has been released as a single, and has had a proper video made. Jake makes no more than a fleeting appearance in this mini film which stars Michael Socha, who’s been in various movies, but is best known to me from Being Human. At first sight, the action doesn’t seem to have much to do with the song, but keep watching right to the end, and the link will become clear…

Weight and Stuff Report – 25 February 2013

OK, that’s a very odd drop of over three pounds today. I suspect random wossnameness.

Getting that new computer[1] inspired me to rearrange the desk a bit. I got a basic monitor stand, which is serving two purposes: lifting my second screen to a similar level to the iMac, and providing a tidy place to tuck the Mac Mini and its external hard drive. This in turn allowed me to move the iMac’s external backup drive and so create a load of space. This picture is a bit rubbish, as I used my work phone to take it. I did that because I wanted all my actual cameras[2] in the shot.



Camera: BlackBerry 9780
Location: 54° 56′ 25.14″ N 1° 37′ 12.72″ W

[1] Review thingy coming soonish
[2] Including the iPhone and the iPad Mini

Weight and Stuff Report – 24 February 2013

Down a bit today, which must be pure randomness. I stayed in all day, as I has to get the washing done.

Your picture for today is my brother Geoff[1] in duplicate.



Camera: FinePix X100
Aperture: ƒ/8
Shutter speed: 1/80s
Focal length: 23mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 15 February, 2013

[1] Hi Geoff :wave:

Ian McNabb – Head Like a Rock (Expanded Edition)

Having done a good job of reissuing the Icicle Works CDs, those nice people at Cherry Red have now made a start on Ian McNabb’s solo career. This was his second solo album, noted for being nominated for the Mercury Prize, and featuring Ralph Molina and Billy Talbot, members of the extremely loud Crazy Horse, best known for being Neil Young’s backing band when he’s in serious rock mode.

The original album has been remastered, and there’s a second CD which includes the extra tracks from the singles. So, nothing altogether new, but there are some nice notes inside about how the collaboration came about. Ian apparently wasn’t all that keen on going to the US to record with American musicians, so dropped in the suggestion that he’d do it if he could work with Crazy Horse. Now those guys are not noted for working with other people who aren’t actually Neil Young, so he was expecting that not to happen. But they heard his songs, then agreed to meet him. And the rest is rock and roll…

The songs include the autobiographical Fire Inside My Soul:

My dad died when I was 20, I didn’t cry but it tore me up inside
I got a band and wrote some music, Wasn’t bad and we went on a long ride
Started out in Sausolito, They said “You talk just like the Beatles”
Listening to the Flying Burritos, Made a call to my mother
Got a great big hit, And a fire inside my soul

then there’s the uplifting You Must Be Prepared to Dream, and much more.

These are some of Ian’s best-known and loved songs, and it’s a good opportunity to get to hear them again. The bonus CD includes some solo version of Icicle Works songs such as When it all Comes Down, the slightly bonkers I Stood Before St Peter and the ubiquitous Love is a Wonderful Colour.

Well worth a listen or ten, and just the thing to put you in the mood for Ian’s forthcoming Eclectic Warrior album, due quite soon now…