Thursday, November 30, 2006

New Nokia

Just got my upgrade, to a Nokia N73. Not had a symbian-based S60 phone before, and I knew it was going to be a bit slower having played with one in a shop.

The contacts synchronisation and upload from my old phone via bluetooth was very cool though. I was thinking it would take messing around with a program on the PC to bulk copy them over (via a bluetooth usb adaptor), on Linux I would have used gnokii with a script or gammu/wammu or something; but on exploring the phone I saw a "Transfer" application in the Tools menu. I ran it, and from the explanatory text it looked like it could do what I wanted. So I turned the bluetooth on to discoverable in my old phone (a Nokia 6230), chose it in the N73's list when it came up, and it did it's thing. All my contacts, memos, todo's, and diary entries were nicely synchronised with my new phone. Quite quickly too. Very easy, quite cool.

Loving the 3.2Mpix resolution on the camera, although it does take quite a while to start-up which is annoying if you want to catch a moment or take a quick snap then move on and haven't got the camera running already. But quite a nice interface, and the buttons on the side are very handy. Well, maybe too handy sometimes - it's easy to press the "Gallery" button when on a call and switch to the last image you viewed or the image browser - for me at least, but maybe it has to do with being left-handed and holding it up to my right ear? (so the thumb is placed over the button nicely)


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Tube Cat

There was a cat on the tube on the way in this morning. It got off at Elephant and Castle. His owner was there too, someone sparked up a conversation with her and she said it was probably the most travelled cat in the country - it's been to Ireland, Scotland, all over.

Are cats(/pets) even allowed on the tube? There was definitely a bit of a wet cat smell in that area of the carriage.


Monday, September 25, 2006


I decided to upgrade my work desktop PC to Ubuntu's Dapper Drake release over the weekend - left it going from an ssh login from home. I'd been meaning to do it for ages but work kept getting in the way, so I decided as I was around the flat for a few hours cleaning, why not just leave it running and do the large downloads over the weekend when it won't matter to the company.

Dapper Drake has been out since June, and having seen how many updates were still being made to fix problems, I had avoided it for a few weeks; but now it seemed stable enough and the teething problems looked like they'd mostly been ironed out.

I only had two problems post ugprade:

  1. I couldn't log in graphically via the gnome (gdm) login screen.
    Ok, a pretty serious problem, but only the one.. ssh remote login or via the text virtual terminals (eg. via Ctrl+Alt+F1) worked just fine but it just behaved like I'd got the password wrong but without any errors or pause. I knew I could type it ok, so I did a google and checked the logs for the Xserver, syslog, and auth (in /var/log).
    I had this odd error:

    Execution of PostLogin script returned > 0. Aborting.

    It had been working fine before, and I'd completely forgotten Synergy had an entry in the script to restart it as the user after the as-root version on startup. I couldn't see why it would fail, unless some libraries had broken in the upgrade or been removed or changed configuration; but I disabled synergy and lo and behold, it worked! I could log in again. I tried rebuilding synergy before running it again, but it seemed to not need new binaries installing (from what I could catch of the speedily-flying-by build output).

  2. My sudo sessions weren't being reset as they used to. This problem was due to a customisation I'd made to the last one involving /etc/sudoers and using fcron and sudo -k to manage my sudo session timeouts every day rather than the default-installed anacron (which clash according to the package dependencies). That was easily fixed once I realised it had removed fcron in favour of anacron again.

So now I have a fully working Dapper that looks just - well, dapper! (excuse the pun). No config appears broken yet, but it did mess with my window titlebar - the colours. It's got rounded edges, looks a little cuter.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Cycling Commuter

Ever since I moved up to London I had wondered if cycling to work was a realistic possibility. My landlord had said he thought it might take around 45minutes to get into the city. Which isn't far off what it takes via the tube door-to-door, if I walk to the station (10mins). I haven't really been doing enough exercise since I moved, the walk to the tube isn't long enough to count and I haven't got round to playing badminton again regularly.

Yesterday I took the plunge, as my travelcard had just expired it provided a good opportunity to try it out and save some money at the same time. I quite enjoyed it. Well, the cycling outside the city anyway. Once you get over London Bridge it's not so nice; solid traffic, more fumes and traffic dust/pollution (huh - fat use the congestion charge is). I haven't had any big worries about getting run over yet; I've been keeping my eyes open and looking behind me plenty as I move around/vehicles come up on me in busy areas.

I bust my old helmet last year by accidentally dropping a car wheel on it (a lightweight alloy one too!). Shows how little you can trust the polystyrene affairs for any real clash with something larger than yourself, but they should be ok for basic knock/falling off protection. So I went shopping yesterday at lunchtime to the Evan's cycles at London Bridge and got a new one. I'd not really found any I was that keen on at the local Halfords a few weeks ago when I went to look.

I decided to do it again today and I think I enjoyed it even more, as I knew how long it was going to take I didn't push myself so hard. I left a bit earlier and there were some almost pleasant moments on the more southern part of the journey on the A3, particularly around Clapham Common. Yesterday I didn't know if the estimate was wildly out or not so I made more of an effort; although I didn't take the fastest route through the city, so it ended up taking the same time today.

We will see how long I keep it up for; it's easiy enough to buy another travelcard if I get too annoyed or the weather starts being regularly unpleasant enough.


Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Non-computer-programmers: look away now. Python is a programming language as well as a snake.

I've been getting to know Python over the last few months, and I just love how easy some things are in it, being a truely object-oriented and pretty dynamically-typed scripting language. For instance, to turn a string (or list or tuple) of letters that are codes for particular words into a comma-separated list of the longer format:

codes = "DBC" # for example mappingdict = {'A':'Alpha', 'B':'Bravo', 'C':'Charlie', 'D':'Delta', 'E':'Echo'} print ",".join(map(mappingdict.get, codes)) Will print "Delta,Bravo,Charlie". How easy is that! Tags: rave

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Last TotP

What an excuse for a cheap clips program. What happened to the live performances. They might as well have called it "Top 40 TotP moments" and stuck it on C4 (sorry C4).


Friday, July 28, 2006

Fast-food ban

KFC, Burger King, McDonalds - the offenders. I decided 2 or 3 years ago that I was going to stop using them, and I've stuck to it pretty well. I once went into a McD's 'cos I was desparate to find a toilet and felt guilty, and was a bit hungry so I got some regular fries. But that's it.

Why? I've heard the stories about what people have found in their burgers, and you know it's junk food anyway and not particularly healthy. I have known people who've worked at these places and heard stories that makes me wonder about the hygiene at a few of the outlets. I don't abhor burgers or chips, although I don't have them that often (I do like them lots actually); but no more from any of the aforementioned places.


Thursday, July 27, 2006

Techie Talks

I went to Techu Katchu, now to be called "Ask Later" (for copyright reasons) on Wednesday with a mate. It was a last-minute thing after work, I got a call asking if I was doing anything and wanted to come out for a more intellectual evening than sitting in the pub. Although there was a fair bit of that after too....

Talks can get boring if they're too long. So the rules were: 20 seconds per slide, and generally around 5-7 minutes long per talk. There were several people that had come along to do one, not to sell anything or promote stuff; just to talk 'cos they fancied doing it, or maybe as practice for other talks they might do in bigger arenas. I thought public talking was supposed to be scary stuff! Mind you, there wasn't a very full theatre so the audience was about 20-30 (guess).

They were all generally technical talks, but you can't go into too much detail with such short talks so we didn't get to any one subject inside-out. The subjects varied from bad/odd things wrong with the world (the most political talk of the evening) to how to automatically solve Sudokus in newspapers using a scanner and some image recognition software in Ruby.


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Beware - Contains Fish

Careful! If you pick up a pack of Salmon (from Sainsbury's, say) - don't forget that it contains fish. So says the allergy advice on the back of a pack of Salmon fillets I bought today. I kid you not. The world has gone mad. Well, more mad than it was, anyway.


Saturday, June 17, 2006

Online Friends

Getting to know someone online is all well and safe, and can pave the way for a good real-life friendship; but meeting them face to face for the first time is quite different. It's almost like you've been told about this person by a friend who knows them well, but you can still feel a little remote at the initial stage of real life meeting. It's not even the same as getting to know them by chatting on the phone first, 'cos you can still project quite a lot of personality and feeling into a telephone conversation.


Thursday, June 08, 2006

Fast Dogs

I've gone to the dogs now. Greyhounds to be precise. Went out to the Wimbledon stadium to go watch some races and bet on a few the night before last, and I didn't win anything. My mate won on about 3 races, but only cos he was fairly flexible in his bets and didn't win much each time.

Of course, the two times I didn't bet but knew what I would have bet on, the dogs came home and I could have won a bit - not sure how much a forecast (betting which dog will come 1st and 2nd in that order) would have got me but I could have got one if I'd bothered to start betting a bit earlier. We're not talking much money, but it was annoying.

Some trivia: I remember hearing somewhere that greyhounds are actually incredibly fast off-the-line, and can be doing 40mph within a few bounds - even faster than cheetah's over the early steps. Cheetah's of course are faster and can keep up the acceleration for longer. But still impressive.

A fun night anyway. Although the mobile reception was rather messed up with a massive amount of steel around in the stadium.


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

I'm not dead

I just haven't thought of anything to post about that I've remembered when I have been home or in the mood to log on and write about. I'm sure I'll think of something as soon as I've posted this though... Typical.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

No space

Lots of people have the group of friends that they forward funnies to that they get via SMS text or email. Well here's one that really (just today) happened to a customer calling one of the support guys at our office.

His keyboard broke two years ago, leaving him with no Space bar. He first created a login and signed on to our site three years ago. We have an automatic login (via cookies/whatever) so regular users don't need to re-enter their password every day from the same PC, as many sites do. So this user hasn't needed to retype his password ever since he first logged on. He had an issue today, so rung our support department; who told him to clear his cache and retry. It fixed the problem; but only after he'd failed to log on because he couldn't type a space into the login form.

For god's sake; a new keyboard is 5-10quid unless you want a flash one. I really can't believe he's got away using email, posting any content at all without his Space key for two whole years.

The temporary fix was to find a space elsewhere and copy and paste it in with his mouse or the Edit menu. I've had times in Windows 95/98 when the drivers have messed up or some program has got itself in a twist and I've had to copy and paste text to be able to do something before I could restart it; but for two years! Oh my god!


Tuesday, April 25, 2006


I'm 30. What a great weekend it was too. Handily, it fell on the Saturday and I was out partying until at least chuck-out time at 2am. Got back home at 3, slept til 2.30pm and awoke with a bit of a hangover (was the spirits that did it, I'm sure! Nothing to do with the pints I sank! Honest!).

I was such a party animal I didn't open my presents or cards til Sunday at about 4pm. I hadn't been at my flat since Friday morning anyway so I wouldn't have been able to pick the cards up.

It's been a pretty awesome and very social month (and rather expensive - ouch), in fact I haven't watched anywhere near as many films as I would do normally (only 3-4ish so far I think). I need to recover next month (financially, for one thing).


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

I'm all booked up.

Knowing my titles, you'd think I meant I'd been reading lots. But no, it's me being busy every weekend this month that's inspired this post.

Last weekend I was out every day: Friday with a mate after work (meal,pub in Camden); Saturday clubbing and made a new friend and had lots of fun - didn't return to my flat until Monday evening (don't worry, I didn't skip work). It was a bloody great weekend.

Next weekend I'm going to a party in Nottingham.

Weekend after that is Easter and I shall be helping a mate move into a flat and seeing the family.

After that is my 30th birthday, I expect to be out lots.

At the end of the month I'm partying again, out for the majority of the weekend I suspect.

Anyone got any tips on how to cope? :-)


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Active ADSL

Hurrah! I'm ADSL'd up again at the new flat. 2MB line, may even go up to somewhere nearer 8Mb once the new BT IP-Max streams are migrated over. Those come online at the end of this month (March), although some people have had them to beta test for a while.

I've been slightly clever with the initials of the post title, as I went with Andrews and Arnold ISP (AA, get it?) and I chose them mainly because they're a techies ISP.

Yes, my email address will be changing. Some people already have it, if you know my gmail account that's the one I've been passing on for temporary use (although hopefully it's a permanent fixture). I will be writing to anyone in my address-book with the updated details sometime soon-ish, I'm not going to be silly and tempt spam already but you can have the new domain:

That's for the blog. It's got it's own subdomain now. Nice. You may not recognise the last sections of the name: is a new-ish type of domain intended for personal use. I always thought it was a bit wrong to be using for people's personal domains and now they've finally seen sense and created Of course the millions of existing's won't go away. I like anyway - a real pity was already gone (and - that would have worked pretty well too, as well as jgarner or just garner or a shortening - any I liked had gone, oh well).

There's nothing on the site yet as I write, but the blog will be published there in the next week or two (maybe even to a "blog" subdomain?) and I'll start migrating over the rest of the site (or the bits I care about), so please get ready to upgrade your bookmarks. I'll leave the old Demon one on redirect for a while when it does disappear until the account is cancelled anyway, just warning you to expect a change.

Techy chat ahead: The user interface for managing the new AA account has a kind-of hacked together look about it, and as though it has been written for people who'd almost rather do it on the command-line, but it allows you to do so much should you wish: IP6 direct to your box, multiple IPs, setting up reverse DNS records, altering MX records, subdomains, and plenty more; all without calling them up and making a special request or paying extra (although you pay if you want any more domains). No proxying or NAT translation occurs through their end. Almost like paying for a separate domain hosting service.

It was a fight between them and Zen Internet at the end, who have user reviews, reliability and speed test results that seem too good to be true and customer support that does a decent job too. Anyone else not needing real techy services direct from their ISP and willing to pay a bit extra for the better quality service, they look like a great provider. You do get what you pay for with ISPs...

I had started to lose faith in Demon internet over the last few years and while not enough to make the effort to move away, they're not nearly as good as they used to be when I first signed up to them over 7 years ago when I finished university and needed a connection (job hunting would have been so much harder without it). That was around the time everyone and their dog were offering free internet accounts with web and email, I suspect not many of those are still around (freeserve being a notable exception, although they're called wanado now).

Demon are one of the few that (for consumer money without going to a business-type account) have 24hr support. I'm generally using my internet connection late at night, and in fact I wouldn't care if they made it cheaper by dropping office-hours support...
If there's a problem over the weekend or late night, and if I really need something, I don't want to have to be stuck. They were and still are more expensive (for the better products with static IPs etc. anyway) but I was happy to pay that for good service and good (UK-based) support who knew what they were on about. Unfortunately, in the last 3 years or so - since they were bought by Thus Plc I think - farmed the support abroad (I guess - full of non-native English speakers anyway), not kept up the service levels I was used to (the odd failure to connect 1st time every now and then started happening), and when I tried the 24hr support the other day (2am-ish) it was a dead line.

So we'll see how AA ISP do. I'll be able to have more fun setting up webpages and dynamic stuff on them anyway, Demon was a bit limiting - 1 counter script and that was it. I almost got round to hosting them on my firewall box that was connected nearly 24/7, in fact sometimes there was a box serving (err.. nothing apart from a graphic or two) but I didn't sort it out properly and wouldn't have wanted to spend too much time maintaining it or keeping it available 100%. Plus the rather poor upload bandwidth (288kbit/s, standard ADSL upload linkspeed unless you're on the newer 8Mb-capable lines) wasn't all that nice. Good enough for low-usage mainly-text pages, but not that great.

Anyway, look forward to more blog posts now I can get at more easily from home.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Public Service Announcement: Be Safe & Secure Online

Came across this Get Safe Online website via a link at my bank's site, and any page providing good,sensible information and simple tips on securing your PC deserves a plug in my opinion. This post goes out mainly to the non-techies, hopefully all the computer geeks reading this will already know the stuff on there (fairly basic).

No matter who you are, if you spend any time on the 'net, it applies to you. Same as you don't drive a car (legally) without learning how not to crash and kill yourself/others, you shouldn't really (nowadays especially) be let loose on an open unprotected computer on the internet without any knowledge of the risks you're putting yourself at. Non-computer-literate people assign far too much trust to computers with their personal information until they're made more wary (hopefully not through a bad experience).


Thursday, February 16, 2006

Cable spaghetti

You know what I mean, anyone with a PC or any level of separates hi-fi. Here's what was left behind my desk once I'd pulled it to bits for moving and unplugged my PC, network cable, and wires to and from the hi-fi in the other corner of the room. It was probably almost as bad behind the hi-fi and a completely separate dish of cable spaghetti between components, power cables, network cables from the PC travelling past, aerials/SCARTs, and so on.

[Cable Spaghetti] Tags:

Friday, February 10, 2006

A bumpy ride

Bumpy? Because it took a while to get (my) flat. Groan. Sorry.

I'm now living in my new flat, and have just about enough of things like food, things to wash with and so on (day to day stuff) to survive til the weekend. That's when I pick up the rest and drive it up here, while taking some empty boxes back so one of my old housemates can use them (he's moving out too).

The original move-in-date was planned for 2nd Feb, but due to my bank being crap, I was still waiting them to process a check on me my landlord needed to do to validate an insurance policy he has. The bank(HSBC) kept telling me it would be 1-2 more days while losing my authorisation form, saying they'd call back and failing to, and taking way longer than 1-2 days. I'm seriously considering changing banks because of this (and my mate also having had many problems with them a few years ago before he moved), but to do so during a house move would, I suspect, be suicidal and asking for a nightmare.

I finally moved on the 8th and brought my car up last weekend (11th), making use of space to bring a few more things up. I've sorted a parking permit out so I don't need to pay £1.20/hr in the machines during the day.


Monday, January 30, 2006

Wildlife Photography

British Gas again held their Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition last year and I've been to see the exhibition one previous year and almost entered it too. I went this year on the 20th January, a Friday evening. Until this month they were doing special evenings courtesy of Time-Out, so I could fit it in after work instead of waiting for a free weekend. They were open til 9pm I think, I had a ticket booked for 7.30. The entries didn't seem as good as the first time I went several years ago, but it sounded like they were better than another year when my mate went and wasn't very impressed at all.

My favourite shots were... (to be filled in/commented on later)


Sunday, January 29, 2006


Hurrah, I found a flat. It's a 1-bed (not a share), in London, zone 3 and less than 10 minutes walk from a sub-30-minute journey in to the tube closest to work (if the notorious tube line it's on is running well). Also not so many minutes away from Clapham Junction, which just happens to be the busiest station in England (still?) and a gateway to a tonne of places in the south from Portsmouth, Guildford, and Southampton to the edges of Kent. So it's well equipped transport-wise, and I'm right on the edge of a common so it's not devoid of green bits or trees.

All quite cheaply too, comparatively; the flat has some oddities and isn't GCH (yet - but the landlord might have plans to later in the year) although it does have a gas fire. Very spacious compared to another one I saw at the same price, although further away from the station (that one would have been 2-3mins walk away).

I move in very soon and I've been very busy packing, organising things for the new flat and planning stuff.


Thursday, January 19, 2006

Paved with Gold?

1578: Martin Frobisher c1539-1594 brought pyrite rocks (aka "fool's gold") back to London, thinking they were gold. You may well have seen pyrite for sale in those touristy gift shops that sell bits of glittering rock. Of course, being worthless, they had to find some use for them: they were then put to use to pave London streets; henceforth the saying that the streets of London are paved with gold. Allegedly (thanks google, and some canadian site).

A lot of those stones probably don't exist anymore, and London isn't anywhere near as out of reach and glamourous to you or I as it once was - ever since the advent of cheap train travel and the motor vehicle. But an awful lot of people still work and live there and I've become one of them. The 'working' part, so far anyway. The living part I've yet to do. In fact I've yet to live anywhere inside a town/city. Closest I came was my 2nd year at university, when we were on the outskirts of Canterbury. It's always been villages or suburbs outside the towns themselves.

But to get the commute-time down I have basically two options.

  1. live somewhat closer and overground-rail in every day - not all that far from what I'm doing now, but the trip is longer than I want to suffer long-term (dunno how my dad does it year in year out with a similar journey length); or
  2. Move right in, tube/night-bus distance.

Obviously the closer in, the more expensive (for the same quality of housing/locality) so you have to pick a point on that scale, and cross-reference it to a line of the area's aspirations/trendiness that you're happy with.

When I first started I didn't have a clue what I wanted - I had an idea of the general geographic location and pretty rough budget constraints, but I don't know London. I don't know it at all outside of the center in fact. Just from trips across it via the tube - when you don't see it anyway, and museum/tourist-attraction visits as a kid/school-trips. I didn't know where to start. So google came in for some heavy usage, and I pulled in all the resources I could - colleagues at work who'd lived in areas, some luckily having moved around a lot, even an ex-estate-agent (so he rescued himself - you know the stereotype/reputation... sorry.. :-) friends, odd trips I've taken to random parts of London after work some evenings, ...

Some useful links I found or already knew of (maybe you can better these but they gave me a start):

  • miles faster - a postcode overview map (without names on damnit), about shopping areas, and some other less-useful things for the task at hand
  • Up My Street - gives you locality info such as what the bars are like, transport, crime, population distribution, general reviews and comments on the area by the people who live there. Also some discussion boards (forums).


If you want to know why I haven't been posting as much in the last couple of weeks or generally around in the evenings on instant-messenger so much, it's cos I've been energetically flathunting around London. Time has come to get serious about moving closer to work and cutting down that 1hr+ commute each way, I feel I've settled into the job enough and I've wanted a place of my own for a few years.

I'd write more but as you can tell from the post-time it's very late (early); I just woke from snoozing and felt like writing something so you all didn't miss me too much... (yeah right...)

Stay tuned for a (currently in-draft) tips-and-pitfalls style report (I'll try and remember to link to it from here too).

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Internet Vs. Life

blog news:I read a couple of studies last year about how people experience higher rates of depression and social isolation for the first year or two of having internet access at home. After that, they report being happier and more social than they ever were before, because they found the right balance of online and offline time.
(from Sex Drive Daily blog, one I just discovered via another big slashdot-esque site)

Very interesting. I'd agree. I definitely spend more time going out now than I used to when I first had the internet at home, purely as a result of socialising online on forums, chatrooms etc. Switching to broadband two years ago boosted it too, but more because of the indirect effects (not feeling I needed to make the most of my time online due to flat-rate charging) than the speed improvements. Pages arriving quicker just means I'm happier to use it and I leave the computer on longer so less start-up time. It becomes more integrated into my home life. Dial-up seemed to make me spend more time online to be honest, unless that's just my impression.

There is a down-side to having the internet (mostly meaning "the web") so easily on-tap - you tend to forget about other sources of information or assume they'll be harder to access or slower. It isn't always the case. There are still many cases where other sources can be better - you can't beat hardcopy (whether printouts, books or otherwise) for quantity reading still or the ability to scan-read. Full-size screens are too unwieldy and anything less doesn't provide enough display real estate. Compare to a book for it's purpose.

PS: I'll try and tag posts like this with "discussion" unless anyone has a better/more commonly used tag to suggest.


Monday, January 09, 2006

Spectrum of Customer Service

Experienced the whole spectrum of customer service (and shops) on Sunday. From a badly laid out, very hard to browse, too full shop with staff who weren't easy to understand and didn't really want you to look at all their stock (ok, you had to excuse a non-original English speaker). I kid you not. The manager (I suspect) tried to pry me away from looking at one section which was taking me a while (because it was too packed with items and not very clearly laid out, oh and I couldn't get to half of them to move them and see what other (quite different items) were directly behind them on the "rack" - hook, anyway), to try and direct me to look further back in the shop which was equally packed out and uninviting. Barely room to swing the proverbial cat. It was almost like his personal collection he wanted to show off instead of a shop, but things had prices on (well, some did). So I had a quick browse and left. He had another floor but didn't make it clear that we couldn't go down to see stuff, it was just for staff - apparently I was supposed to know what they had down there with - what - my X-ray vision? - and ask to see it, where upon his assistant would bring it up.

At the other end of the Spectrum (sorry, no Sinclair references in this particular post) was a really helpful, polite, knowledgable assistant in a different shop not all that many doors further up on Camden high street (towards the stables). He knew the product ranges, he was being a salesman of course but not pushy; and offered pros and cons and not-in-the-product-labelling information that I wouldn't have known otherwise. Thankyou so much for making my experience there very pleasant; it's places like that where you're more than happy to go back to even if they're a few percent more than the competition. Not that they always are either, so you can win on both fronts. Places you'll go the extra few tube stops for, places worth taking time out to visit again if you just happen to be in the area on a completely unrelated mission. If I'd remembered the name of the place I'd have mentioned it... Doh!


Monday, January 02, 2006

Sennheiser HD515

My main Christmas gift (see the post title) arrived in the post after I got back from visiting the family. Most of my other gifts were food, actually. Most of that was chocolate. Nice, but there's a lot left still and I'm sure it won't help my waistline (although maybe it needs it :-) I'm a slim 32/34 at the moment). Including a couple of boxes of Green & Black's too - good choice, folks. Thanks :-) The other non-edible items were Neuromancer, made rather famous now as inspiration-provider to the Wachowski brothers for The Matrix trilogy, and Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman - a collection of short tories. I've read one which was a little odd in some ways but I wanted to finish reading.

It was a usual Christmas with the family, nice to catch up with them again and speak to my brother in Canada as I haven't phoned since they moved out there.

The Sennheiser HD515 headphones arrived last Thursday, and of course as with any other new addition to the audio chain I wanted to hear how they sounded with the music I love and to find tracks to challenge and test them with. So I spent a couple of hours listening to favourite tracks, tracks with lots of or very deep bass, tracks with complex multiple layers to test separation (eg. some of my classical pieces or rock/electro-funk anthems that do the job well). They sound pretty good. Every speaker has it's own sound of course. They are "open" speakers but as they will mainly be used for in-bedroom listening late at night they don't need to be completely quiet on the outside. I've never heard "open" headphones before actually. I've only owned ear buds (from cheapo free ones to some better Sony's I had for a while til the cable got too stretched/twisted); a capable but unremarkable set of over-the-ear ones I had originally; and my last Panasonic's (£30 at the time) which I liked if only 'cos I'd not heard anything better.

They are better than I imagined. There's good detail, a warm and reverby bass sound that goes well with some music but may be a little too much for others. They certainly don't want for more bass. Having said that, I wonder if these 'phones are good enough that they need breaking in, like my Mission M74's (if I remember the model number rightly) that I have as my main stereo speakers in the room. Maybe I should wait longer before making my mind up as they've only had three or four hours play so far. The Missions are a lot more punchy without losing any delicacy and I like the sound very much, but I did spend a few hundred on them so they damn well ought to be good.

I've also tried a swap with a work colleague who has a nicer pair of Senn's, to see what even more money would have got me. It was then that I noticed the more even mid-range and his stuck out most by announcing an instrument in Vivaldi's 4 seasons that I didn't hear very clearly with mine. I enjoyed the sound of his (I forget the model no.), but I didn't particularly wish I'd had them instead of mine and the (list) price would probably have been edging towards twice what mine were.


Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy new year

Happy New Year

Hope you all had a good one, didn't get too drunk (or recovered/will recover ok if you did), and had fun at least. Wishing you a merry Christmas too (it's still Christmas til 5th January)

I did. Christmas with family, New Year with friends back at home. Almost considered going clubbing or to a pub but preferred the option that left me with people I knew I could have a good eveninig wth rather than chancing meeting people I knew or may have enjoyed the company of at my local or some place in London