Sunday, 16 October 2011

Back On Duty

For what ever reason I decided to play COD again.
I got a little bored of Call of Duty Black OPs so ditched it for MAG,  which is a truely awesome game.

I like to vary things a bit, so after whoring MAG for a while I moved onto Crysis 2 (courtessy of Love Film)  and after a brief sojourn on Resistance 3  I am back in the COD franchise and to the game I feel is the best (so far) namely Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2.

Initially I left Black Ops  because I got a bit frustrated (bad day and crap games) plus I had been wanting to try out MAG.  The rest of the LMS (Last Men Standing) had not been overly struck with MAG whilst playing the beta but, in typical style I ignored their advise and started playing it.  Historically the games I prefer are usually the ones the clan don't (Warhawk ,Resistance 2,Battlefield Bad Company 2 par example). MAG is an awesome game,  hard to get into but once you do its rewarding and the teamwork, leadership and class based approach are refreshing after playing COD for a while.

Crysis 2 single played got me hooked and the multiplayer with the suit perks were a break but, as a rental disc and impending Resistance 3 I had to send it back.

Resistance 3 whilst superb and a great end to the franchise,  I felt some of the aspects of Resistance 2 that I liked had been sacrificed in order to appease some more of the estranged Resistance Fall of Man players.  Still awesome and fun to play but something called me back to Modern Warfare 2.  The thing that struck me on my return was the speed,  its noticeably quicker than Resistance 3 and 'lo I am hooked again.

Still Battlefield 3 is coming soon not too mention a copy of Killzone 3 I have lying around unopened so I sense another sojourn approaching.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Blogger iPhone App

Wow finally an iPhone app for Blogger!
I mean seriously, how long did that take?

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Crazy Bass - Bill "Buddha" Dickens

For the next part in my Crazy Bass series I'd like to introduce you to Bill "Buddha" Dickens.
Bill is well know for speed funk slapping and the use of 7, 9 and 11 string custom basses.  He is also the creator of the "Buddha band" which he puts around the fret board capo style to stop the strings from creating to much noise at the speed he plays.

For my money,  whilst he is impressive his style falls into the OTT category.  I've been watching his videos for years now and whilst I can watch other funk slap masters such as Louis Johnson for hours I find Buddha to be hard to watch after a while.  Still given the remit of this series of mine he is certainly talented, certainly a crazy bass player and the possessor of some crazy basses.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Crazy Bass - Michael Mannering

To start off my crazy bass / bass player posts I'm picking Michael Manring.
Only recently discovered this guy, enchanting and intriguing bass style, to describe it would be constantly retuning whilst playing.

Just watch and you'll see what I mean.

Michael explaining the Zon Hyper bass.  Fascinating stuff

I little bit of slapping an plucking Manring style

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Four String Warrior

The life of a bass player is often met with resistance, surprise and lack of understanding from our six string brethren.  Bass playing is a very different beast from that of the guitar don't let the similarity of the instrument confuse you. ….oh and no the absence of those extra two strings on a standard bass does not mean it is easier to play!

As a bass enthusiast I spend a fair amount of time YouTubing (from the verb to YouTube)
I'm going to shed some light on the some of the more interesting bass players and basses in upcoming posts.

Friday, 26 August 2011

iMac back and healthy!

Woohoo all back and working nicely.

Another new LCD screen (without dead pixels this time),  also purchased  Apple Care and 40% off even though I was out of warranty  so now I have 2 years of support :)

Once again a big thankyou to the people at Apple Store Reading.  Very helpful.

Now,  when am I going to get time to edit all the movies I have lined up?

Monday, 15 August 2011

iTunes account authorised to my pre tech support iMac

Grr getting my iMac ready for it's next trip to the Apple store.

I think this time I'll de-authorise my iTunes account  so that I don't lose another of my quota of computers I can link it too.

Not a major problem but, somewhat of an irritation.

In a similar way to the way that Windows asks you to re register when it detects a significant hardware change  iTunes recognises that it's not the same computer you previously used your account with. annoyingly they only let you hook it up with 5 machines.

You'd have thought the tech support people might have taken care of that for me given they decided to change the damn mother board.

So anyone know how to deauthorise an iTunes account from a machine that no longer exists?

Time to consult the mighty G I think.

More iMac probs.

Further problems with my iMac! found some dead pixels on my replaced LCD screen.

Quite possibly not spotted by the tech support people as they didn't bother to clean off their grubby finger prints from the glass. (ever heard of quality of work or even pvc gloves?)

Despite several attempts I've not managed to get them all off, not very good quality of service.  The geniuses at the Apple store were really embarrassed at the state it had been left in when I went to pick it up last week.  Clearly this is not the service they expect from the repair people either!

Amusingly I did a search for reconditioned iMacs and found one identical to mine reconditioned for about the same price as the repair work which additionally came with 12 month warranty and the option to purchase Apple Care. Needless to say I shall be using this as ammunition to get a bit more than the crappy 90 day warranty I have been given on the repair work.  My confidence in the not only the build quality but the quality of the repair work has shaken my faith in Apple, I will definitely be demanding compensation.

Bad for the people at the Reading Apple Store, they have been very helpful and it truely isnt their fault but, they are on the front line.

Sadly I am facing further time apart from my beloved iMac :(

Friday, 12 August 2011

iMac back from surgery

The last 2 weeks have been stressful,  I have been without my iMac. Its amazing how much I missed it and how much my other half's laptop didnt quite fill the void of Mac lovelyness.

So, whats happened?

Well in short my iMac went in for major surgery to replace the LCD screen.  Actually no,  that was the original prognosis (that I was

a little sceptical about) what was actually replaced was both the LCD screen and the logic board. In short I pretty much have a new iMac.

Whilst I am really happy to get my iMac back I am worried now. My confidence in the build quality has been shaken somewhat.

At this point I should give a big thank you to the guys at Apple Store Reading as they were most helpful and actually wiped the cost of the repair (my iMac was a couple of months out of warranty). I was really happy when they wiped the reapair bill  and even more pleased when I saw that they had also replaced the motherboard.  The actual total repair cost was £1058 so you can imagine how happy I was!

The problem.

After about 13/14 months of usage I notice a dark patch of lines creaping across the screen, initially I thought it was dust but, after cleaning the glass and the front of the LCD it became apparant the problem was inside the LCD.

It would seem that one or two problems had occured.
  1. The LCD screen had not been correctly sealed (and dust had got in)
  2. The LCD had overheated for some reason and had deteriorated.

From the looks of the repair it seems that something had been faulty on the mother board, parts of it had overheated and warped the LCD.

Hopefully my iMac will be fine now but, I have to say that whilst my Apple have shone in terms of their customer service I'm now uber paranoid about the temperatiure the machine is running at.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Olympic Tickets Fail

So today marks a year before the start of the London 2012 Olympics,  lots of documentaries on TV about the building of the site and preparations.  All very interesting and I love a bit of Olympics me  but, all this is just serving to wind me up....why?  well because I didn't manage to get any blinking tickets.  Come to think of it, out of all the people that I know that applied for tickets I only know 1 person who managed to get any (even then only for beach volley ball). 

This bugs me,  I mean whilst I didn't think I would get tickets for either the opening or closing ceremonies,  I had hoped for tickets to the stadium for one of the minor track and field days  and was really crossing my fingers that I'd get some velodrome tickets.


I hope its like when buying concert tickets when they have sold out but all of a sudden closer to the event more become available.

At the very least I hope they have an area near the Olympic village where they will show the games.  I know I can watch at home but I want to get some of the atmosphere.

I can take some solace in the fact that I can at least stand by the road for the road cycling / time trial events.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Google Brain - A potential future product?

I love my Google products and the whole creativity that seems to surround the company I really admire. The 80/20% rule where their employees spend 20% of their time working on personal projects and new ideas is a great idea and its fruit can be seen by looking at Labs. 
I heavily use GMail and Google Reader which are both labs graduates.  The product I am waiting for which I think would be right up Googles alleyway is Google Brain.

Let me elaborate.....

As part of my BSc (Hons) Computer Science at Portsmouth Uni I undertook modules in AI,Intelligent Systems and Theoretical Computer Science  a topic that cropped up in these courses is the whole notion of AI, Heuristics, Mind and Machine.  One little annecdote I remember from one of those lessons is the idea that "the essential problem with the human brain is not one of storage but the lack of a good index".  You see as humans go we are very good an knowing what we know  but, not knowing it.

Think about it...... how many times have you struggled to remember something ...."oh its on the tip of my tongue" or perhaps when your out and about you see something that triggers a nugget o knowledge you learnt at school or maybe your on holiday and a bit of your school lesson French springs to mind.

Given Googles prime business of searching and how well it can search the web, shops, text in books, images etc...  now expand that a little.....  what about searching that massive depth of knowledge that you have with a search engine?

We can scan brain activity now  so its down to determining the APIs.
So how long do we reckon?  Lets be generous...20 years?

As I said on Twitter the other day...given sufficient renumeration I'd happily help out?

Monday, 27 June 2011

Learning to not be afraid of switching off Auto.

Ever since I got my Sony DSC W200  compact camera I have really got into taking pictures.  So when said trusty compact decided to give up the ghost I decided to treat myself to a DSLR.  Along came my Canon 550D (including 30 quid cash back -which was a bonus), it was love at first sight.  The camera is great and took equally great pictures  but, one thing bugged reliance on Auto,  that lovely green icon setting which does everything for you.  For me I just felt that the relationship with my camera could not reach the deep and meaningful level untill I ventured into those other settings....manual, Av, Tv etc....

Vaguely aware of such terms as Aperture, F Stops and ISO and that they contributed to taking a picture that is as far as it went.  I resolved to lose my fear of these terms and go on a beginners photography course.
Lo! and behold GroupOn  came to my rescue offering a Beginners course for £29 at a local photography studio!

So I happily paid, booked and attended a 4 hour Saturday afternoon course at Cherry Red Studios in Camberley.  Aimed at Beginners (though equally handy for those more experienced) the course was led by an enthusiastic photographer who clearly explained all those mysterious terms us Auto junkies are scared off.  The course followed a format but, was very much student led and much time was taken to help us all out individually with our various questions and different cameras.  As the weather was good we also ventured outside to practice and test out some of the techniques we had learnt.

I can now say that whilst I am not a master of all those strange settings, I am not afraid to work with them and have resolved to not use automatic.

So, a big thank you to Cherry Red  and in particular Chantal Storrs-Barbor for opening my eyes to the wonderful world of non-Auto photography.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Belated Happy Star Wars Day

Wishing you all a belated happy Star Wars day and a very merry May the 4th be with you!

I hope that you all celebrated by doing something Star Wars related.  Actually due to the double bank holidays I had quite for got the day  but,  by chance Love Film had sent me Star Wars Force Unleashed 2 and had started to play it.

Sigh,  having to play single player games rather that whoring the multiplayer side of things like I normally is just not as much fun but, hey ho!  surely it cant be that long now?  Come on Sony fix the damn PSN.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Olympic tickets

Well we've been registered for over a year and got the email about applying for tickets a couple of weeks before hand but, we still left it to the last min to apply!

The tickets we applied for were for the

  • Opening & closing ceremony (gotta try right!) 
  • Track cycling (Men's Omnium 4km Individual Pursuit
    Women's Sprint Qualifying)
  • Track cycling (Men's Keirin First Round
    Women's Omnium 3km Individual Pursuit
    Men's Keirin First Round Repechages)
  • Athletics (Men's Shot Put Qualifying Rounds - Groups A & B
    Women's Heptathlon 100m Hurdles
    Women's Triple Jump Qualifying Rounds - Groups A & B
    Women's 100m Classification Heats
    Men's 400m Hurdles Round 1
    Women's Heptathlon High Jump - Groups A & B
    Men's Hammer Throw Qualifying Round - Group A
    Women's 400m Round 1
    Men's Hammer Throw Qualifying Round - Group B
    Men's 3000m Steeplechase Round 1)
  • Athletics(Men's Decathlon 110m Hurdles
    Women's High Jump Qualifying Round - Groups A & B
    Men's Decathlon Discus Throw - Group A
    Men's Decathlon Discus Throw - Group B
    Men's 4 x 400m Relay Round 1
    Men's Decathlon Pole Vault - Groups A & B)

According to the news the tickets are massively oversubscribed so I really hope we get something but I guess we will have to wait.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

PS3 Hard drive installed

Blimey,  how easy was that!

The longest part was the actual backup and restore.

Flip off the flap at the side of the PS3, unscrew the screw with the arrow pointing to it, pull the HD & cradle out, unscrew cable attaching screws, pop in new HD, screw in the screws, slot it back it and boom thats it!

Thats the easiest hardware install I have ever done.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Upgrading my PS3 hard drive.

For whatever reason this has been on my list of things to do for  over a year and I have just not got arround to doing it.  Stupid thing is I have a 340gb laptop hard drive just sitting in a drawer waiting for me.

So,  supposed to be pretty easy and only takes 10 mins or so.

Basically,  I'll use my WD elements external HD (the one that hasn't died that isn't being used as a time machine backup drive)  to backup my PS3.  Following that I think I just have to open the HD bay, pop out the existing 60gb drive,  pop the new one in then restore my system from the backup.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy.  So lets get on an do it then….

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Kapow Comic Con pt 2

Continuing my Kapow experience we attended a couple of the panels.  I think given more time I would have liked to have attended the Thor movie panel plus obviously it would have been nice to actually get in for the Marshal Law one but, never mind.

First panel was the Breaking into Comics the Marvel way which despite the lack of CB Cebulski was still a fascinating insight into breaking into comics in general.

The 2nd panel we attended was the Kapow Surprise Panel which was given by Noel Clarke,  who was a most interesting and enthusiastic bloke and throughly enjoyable panel.  We were all left trying to work out which former Dark Horse IP he had just got the rights to film.

My experience of Kapow was a great one,  some problems which I had expected to face were a bit of inexperience in terms of organisation and some issues with queue for panels which despite the confusion was negated by the fact that the panel areas were very sizeable.  Couple of things they could definitely improve on were simple ones:

  • If you are going to have a panel, raise the panel area up so people further back than the first 5 rows can actually see the panel guests
  • If you are going to have a large screen behind the panel guests  why not actually have it displaying a camera feed of the people talking as opposed to just the event logo!!
  • Allow for more room to queue for the panels and the signing areas
  • Perhaps have a larger less narrow area for the stands and perhaps next time scale it up a little bit so there can be more stall holders

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed the day and am looking forward to Kapow Comic Con 2012  being even bigger and better.

Kapow Comic Con pt 1

Bit of a late blog entry for this but, last Saturday I was in attendance and the 1st Kapow Comic Con.  The premise behind Kapow was to bring something of the SDCC and the other big US comic cons to the UK. Whilst we have some of our own shows such as MCM which is more gaming and Anime orientated and Memorabilia which is more …well memorabilia,  we do not have a proper London centric comparison to the US experience.

My experience of comic gatherings has been somewhat limited despite collecting for many many years.  Previous experiences have been a few Birmingham comic marts and the 2006 Bot Con  (yes it is a Transformers convention,  but myself and my mate went to meet one of our fave comic artists Mr Geoff Senior ->Who didnt show :( ).  So all in all this was pretty new for me.

Our plan was to go on the first day, show our support for comics in the UK, checkout the con, buy some merch/back issues and attend some of the panels plus avoiding the main cosplay day. (lol).  We aimed to get to the convention for the 10am Marshal Law panel (both being avid ML fans)…..first problem, bloody engineering works, we ended up taking a convuluted route to the Con but, still we got their with a bit of time to spare……enter the 2nd problem……the queue.  Despite being open at 9am  the queue was still huge  so by the time we got in we  were 26 mins late for the ML panel.

Not the best start to the event but, we were pleasently surprise by the venue and the setup.  The Business Design Centre has a slightly unusual layout with the main area of the Con above some central retail units  but, the stall holders were pretty good with alot of the major London stores there plus the stores we buy from on ebay.  In addition to this a 2000AD and Marvel/Panini stand to one side.  grrrr this was how my first money disapeared!  my first score was something of an impulse buy. When I looked through vol 1 of the ABC Warriors Volgon War in nice hardback format  I was so taken I bought the first 3 volumes.  (I'll probably talk more about that trade hardback in a later post).  

My next purchase was from the Marvel / Panini (oh how we all mis a proper Marvel UK) in the shape of the 2nd and 3rd trades of the excellent Captain Britain & MI-13  series. I was fortunate enough to meet the writer, the super nice bloke that is Paul Cornell later on in the day, sporting a beard grown for charity I made sure to tell him how great CB & MI13 was and to ask for some more please!
Paul Cornell

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

LINQ + Stored Procedure Optional Parameters

Whilst fixing a bug today I came across a nuance of LINQ.

One of our internal notification emails was failing to send emails to the relevent box.
Checking the error logs led me to discover it was failing on the CCAddress field.
Now,  this field is optional in the procedure  but, from the looks of it rather than it being null it was being set to "" (empty string).

A while back I had added a method to our Email.cs business object.  Simple enough a method to SendEmail using an existing stored procedure which adds all the data to the relevent  queue table.  I could simply have used LINQ to add another queue item but, to maintain consistency  I chose to simply call the procedure's data access object.

Apparantly  when you create your data access layer  the objects created dont take into account the fact that parameters can be optional.

Eventually thanks to the solution I found here :

I found the solution here:

Basically you have to create an overload for the SP LINQ call.  No problem and easily done but, shouldnt this be create with the data objects automatically?

It's somewhat annoying, I mean this is hardly an unusual circumstance is it?

Friday, 4 March 2011

Arrrgh errata

Now I could of course claim I was testing you but the pure and simple fact is I got it wrong.

Whilst I was declaring
<code>FileInfo TheFile = new FileInfo(logoPath);</code>

I was actually then doing

Instead of

Perhaps this is a lesson to not blog about coding on a Friday afternoon.

Hope it made you chuckle.

System.IO.FileInfo - Delete a file

Just something I stumbled across today.
Why if you are creating an instance of the System.IO.FileInfo class do you then also have to supply the file path if you want to call the Delete method?

FileInfo TheFile = new FileInfo(logoPath);
if (TheFile.Exists)


Now let me quote the class summary for you

Provides instance methods for the creation, copying, deletion, moving, and opening of files, and aids in the creation of System.IO.FileStream objects.

I beg to differ!

Whilst the methods are instance (in the sense they are not declared as static)  but surely having to supply the path when you call Delete is a contradiction.

Curiously though I notice that the Delete method

public override void Delete();

Does not actually specify a parameter.

So where does it come from?
Have I missed something?

Monday, 14 February 2011

A bass case - Classical Thump

I have been given another piece of Victor Wooten magic to practice.  Now,  I like Victor Wooten but, I find his stuff quite hard to play (on account of him being one of the best bassists in the world).  Generally his work is heavy with percussive fills and little extra slaps and left hand mutes. So in principle the bass line is straight forward but made complex by the superb technique.

Previously I have attempted to learn "You can't hold no groove if you ain't got no pocket" which I just didn't practice enough to get it technique wise.  So I had mixed emotions when presented with the sheet/tab music for "Classical Thump" I have resolved to really work at this as it shows some great style and is generally rather cool.

So here's a rather old (check out the 'tache and hat) Wooten clip on YouTube to give you an idea.

Now you see what I mean?

OK,  the key as with everything bass wise as I have come to appreciate more and more is to break things down.

I'll follow up with another post on how I break it down.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Destined to fail - Software development pessimism

It may be slightly pessimistic to say but, are professional software developers and programmers on a futile path to failure?

Its inevitable that an application will fail in some way,  and thus an unwritten rule of software development.

There will always be bugs.

As a professional solution developer for about a decade now I've developed a thick skin to the bugs, yes it's annoying but, necessary and frankly I should be thankful that perfection is impossible thus ensuring more work.

But it does lead me to ask a couple of key questions.

  1. How can we reduce bugs?
  2. What is the measure of a successful application?

1. From my experience the key incubators for software, solution, application bugs can be attributed to the following factors.

  • Poor requirements gathering / problem analysis 
  • Incomplete specification
  • Scope / spec creep
  • Unrealistic time frames
  • Inadequate testing

2. I would argue that this maybe slightly harder to quantify  but I think it is a good start to consider the following markers.

  • A satisfied customer
    • Makes their task easier
    • Impresses them
    • They enjoy using it
  • Repeat business
    • Could it do this as well?
  • Customer recommendations

I don't profess to be an expert but my experience as highlighted some areas  but what do you think?

So, what is the measure of a successful application?

Monday, 7 February 2011

The best way to learn something is to teach it to someone else.

I'd like to share something.
One crucial thing I have learnt throughout my academic and professional career.
It's very simple but effective.

The best way to learn something is to teach it to someone else

Frequently I've found if there is no one about or no-one that really gives a monkeys about what your studying (propositional calculus any one?) you can teach it to some imaginary person.

With that in mind:
I've been playing bass for a few years now and love to play.  I don't think I am very good and I largely play for my own fun.  However I'm going to blog from time to time on what I am practicing.  Hopefully blogging will help me to learn and understand.
So thanks in advance for being attentive students.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

I don't have a website

Right then new blog eh?  so what does my first posts title mean?

As a profession solution developer, analyst, programmer who's medium is the web I feel my stance had to be explained.

Well in a nutshell I don't have a website, I used to,  full of useless info about what music I liked, a cheesy picture of me (rarity considering my web presence is normal accompanied by an IK + avatar) hell, it even had frames!  But what was the point?  okay there were a couple of items of useful content namely a few university essays (even got referenced by a Dr at Swedish university) but largely it was rubbish, looked rubbish and guess what contained rubbish.

Website 2.0 (with a much cooler design but, still with frames *sigh*)  was moderately better but, chiefly still full of rubbish.  I got bored and let it lapse and then decided to take a stand against the "oh look at my homepage" mentality and thus as I had nothing to contribute my resolve was to not further clutter the world wide web.

However, for several years now I have been a keen Tweeter, so to break with the 140 character limit I have decided to take my blathering and blithering blog wards.  Nope, I am definitely not following the blog trend (after all the blog is the new homepage is it not?) I feel the need to share my thoughts in the form of a semi public dairy nay blog.

So that's me.