Saturday, October 22, 2016


hello there

every now and then, look you see, one is obliged to adopt the ways of the times. it would however be incorrect to assume that the current is a progression, for what is popular or the norm now could in fact be more of a regression than it is an advanced development.

this, to me, is true of all this "touch screen" portable wireless telephone business, or if you like mobile phones. for some reason the world has been, at large at the least, convinced that "touchscreen" devices are better than ones with buttons. they are not, and have only come in as a consequence of the erratic mind of one Steve Jobs not liking buttons. if touch screens really were all that brilliant, then everyone would have had a touchscreen monitor for their PC and embraced Windows 8.

anyway, the purpose of that rant was very much down to the fact that i required a new phone and, due to the widespread adoption of this "touchscreen" nonsense, i've had little choice but to get a button free one.

indeed that is my shiny (ish) new touchscreen phone next to my very much loved but now no longer possible to keep going blackberry phone. that's blackberry with buttons, of course.

what sort of phone have i got? an LG one which runs on something called "Android". the model number is the K8 i believe, at least that's what it says on the box. the price was rather good, and the reviews of it suggested it would do what i want it to. which is not much, but more than what my blackberry will be able to as of the end of this year.

the main thing that i want and need a phone to do is use that "WhatsApp" or however you say it messaging function. as it relies on data to send messages it is the cheapest and easiest way to stay in touch with friends and family around the world. that bloke who owns WhatsApp, him off of the face book thing, has however decided to terminate - with extreme prejudice - the ability to use it on blackberry devices as of New Year's Eve this very year. 

on top of this, my blackberry had somewhat come to an end of its natural lifespan. all too often it was cutting out and resetting when i was making calls or writing (as in properly typing) messages. time for a change, then, and so this LG K8 seemed to be the win. especially as the nice people at the shop gave me an unrequested but all the same very welcome 20% or so discount on what was already a reasonable fee.

beyond the keyboard one thing that i shall miss off of my blackberry was the wallpaper i had. here it is, then, preserved on this blog for however long blogs are allowed to exist on the internet. and considering this one has been going for some 11 or so years i would get quite upset if there was some sort of shelf life.

that is indeed the boys on a summer day in a field during a fine African summer. when? i would suggest late 2012. that's an Emirates blanket which young William has fashioned into a cape, and so it must be after we used that airline to come to England for a holiday so that my (considerably) better half and i could bear witness to The Stone Roses at Heaton Park.

rather than whining about all this touchscreen business and lamenting the loss of my blackberry i suppose i should try and post some helpful comments about the LG K8. this would be on the off chance of someone, for some reason, determining moi to be a valid source of such information.

will do, then, but first this.......

that's 5 blu ray discs i got off of HMV for a grand total of £30. something of an "accidental" investment. we, as a family, were in HMV for an entirely unrelated to blu ray reason when i spotted Videodrome as part of their offering for that number of discs at the price paid. i had a look around and, as you can see fairly clearly, i soon found four smart titles to buy with the one which caught my eye.

so, the LG K8. most splendid,.i have to say. whereas i have not used it for much beyond messaging, one impressive feature is the battery. not only can you take it out and change it for another one, it seems to last a fair while. i know Apple devices and i believe Samsung ones tend to need charging once a day as a minimum. i've not let it run down all the way, but so far it seems it will retain a charge for well over a day, possibly two.

what's the camera like? quite smart, i suppose. i think one side is a 5MP camera and the other side is a 3MP, but also one might be 8MP and the other 5MP. in either instance, the quality is quite smart, as you can hopefully sort of see in this, the very first picture what i took with it.

indeed, that is my (considerably) better half and i, and this was taken with the "face" camera, as in the one which is on the side of the phone where the display screen is. a 720p (or whatever) HD screen, which is 5" or five inch if you prefer in side.

the second picture what i took with it was with the back camera, or if you like the one on the outer, normally facing away from you side of the phone. it's the camera with the more MP on it, and the picture i took is this one, so that it may serve as a new wallpaper or background on my phone.

yes, indeed, a closer look at the magnificent Bowie portrait what my (considerably) better half did, to mention her for a third time in this post, for my birthday is the "lock" screen background wallpaper on my shiny new phone.

now then, the "biggie" in terms of my problems with all this touchscreen stuff. the ability to write messages without being able to actually type. the bigger screen area and the better "virtual keyboard" on this device means that i can do it a lot easier than on the Apple phone what Spiros gave me. this is splendid, but it's still not as easy to type a proper message on it as was the case with a proper keyboard.

hey ho, the world is not going back to actual keyboards on phones any time soon, i suppose, so i'd better just keep practising and get used to it all.

a, for scale, look at the new phone next to 20% of the blu ray discs i got off of HMV? sure.

yeah, that probably is my second favourite of the blu ray discs i got, just ever so slightly behind the magnificence of Videodrome.

well, there you have it. win if anyone out there was looking for info on the LG K8. i've had it going for a week or so now, and no regrets. just the obvious sadness at not being able to type properly.

anyway, more as and when it happens, as it were.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, October 21, 2016

choke on the cotton clouds

howdy pop pickers

well, well, look you see, a "locked in" sure win for the great Glastonbury guessing game proved to be incorrect. The Stone Roses, despite my comments earlier, are not playing Sunday or any day. someone off of the Eavis family has taken a time out to say neither they nor them theoretical Frenchies in helmets will appear in 2017.

saying it was an incorrect guess, however, seems to be not entirely accurate.......

word has it that The Stone Roses very much were lined up, and a verbal agreement in principle was all in place. and then along comes Isle of Wight festival, waving an offer of double the money and control over broadcast rights if The Stone Roses would be so kind as to make their appearance at their shindig done so on an exclusive basis.

money talks, ladies and gentlemen. whereas not all artists and musicians are as blatant as it as is the case with, say, Noel Gallagher, it's the reason they do it. when a musician - any musician - claims they are doing it "for the fans", it's on the tacit understanding that the fans will pay for it.

an interesting part of all of this is that, i think, the Eavis family have now issued as many denials of The Stone Roses playing the festival in the 2010s as John Squire issued denials that the band were to get back together in the 2000s. who knows what the 2020s will bring, then, other than perfect vision.

not having The Stone Roses simply robs Glastonbury of being the festival it thinks it is and likes to project itself as being. it shall remain all one big commercial corporate venture, then, with some nice, with it window dressing in the form of token gestures towards Amnesty International, Greenpeace, etc.

hey ho, nice one for whoever gets booked then, and hopefully it's someone that all them what have bought tickets will like.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

the good man who walked amongst us

dear friends and family around the world

whilst i'm always happy to share fun and interesting times had by my family and i (when they let me tag along) the general rule is, look you see, that i shy away from any more serious matters.

with this post i am torn between wishing to want a respect for privacy and having a sense of duty to let those who know me around the world know of our sad news. there are not too many words for me to add as such, just relaying the formal announcement in the press today.....

i shall miss my Gramps very much indeed. all of us shall. we are coping with what's happened and coming to terms with it, but now is not the time for much in the way of words from me.

thank you Dad for the wonderful picture sent along.

more words one day, maybe, but for now i just wanted to let those who had the pleasure of knowing this quite remarkable gentleman know the sad news.


be excellent to each other.

is there a time to walk for cover

greetings folks

well, it's that time again, look you see. now that the fuss and the furore about how it was "impossible" to get tickets, how the system crashed, etc has died down, we can all get on with every music fan's favourite game - guessing the Glastonbury headliners.

the great Glastonbury guessing game did, of course, only start after 2008, when the disastrous decision to book Jay Z as a headliner saw the event fail to sell out. after that, it was decided to keep the details of who was appearing a secret until l tickets were sold, so as to maintain the pretence that it was "really all about the event". this has been a master-stroke of marketing, as for some reason people now believe that they never revealed headliners before the ticket sales.

up to now the speculation about headliners for 2017 - the last Glastonbury until 2019 and quite likely the last at the current site - has been quite depressing. it's mostly been American acts suggested, with Kings of Leon, Lady Gaga and the Foo Fighters touted. all huge music acts, for sure, but it is supposed to be the pinnacle of English or if you like British music festivals.

one potential British act mentioned is Radiohead, and i would say that's a given. Depeche Mode have been mentioned, which would be awesome. otherwise, one strongly rumoured Sunday night headliner would be a surprise but also makes perfect sense......

yeah, that's how my passport was for ten years. you are not allowed to have cool pictures like that any more, it has to be all dull and formal.

so, word has it that The Stone Roses are a lock in for the Sunday night headline slot at Glastonbury 2017.

up to know i've always said this is unlikely. the reunited band have been reluctant to allow any of their performances be broadcast, and a "biggie" in signing up for Glastonbury is that you have to let the BBC broadcast some, if not all, of your set. i've always been of a view, then, that the band would only do Glastonbury if they felt the resurrected ways had run their course and they were content to call it a day, finally, once and for all.

perhaps that day has come, then. perhaps an awful lot more money than usual has been put on the table to secure them. there's nothing at all wrong with that if so. perhaps the report that their debut album proper, The Stone Roses, is to get another re-re-re-re-release the week after Glasto has prompted them to do some marketing. or perhaps the idea of being the last band ever to play the Pyramid stage as we now know it, signing off with I Am The Resurrection, was simply an opportunity not to be missed.

fantastic if it happens, then.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

21 / 210


as one gets older it really is the case, i have discovered, that the quite simple things in life make everything seem all better. this proved to be the case when, look you see, a dear friend brought me a most kind gift. an irresponsible, "bad for you", etc sort of gift, i confess, but the one thing in this world that i covet the most and yet find too costly to get for myself.

oh yes, Marlboro Red. the pinnacle of all that a cigarette can be, dear reader, for there is no finer one in this world. yes, sure, they are all bad, it's irresponsible to smoke, very bad for you, etc. these are not matters i shy away from and deny. everyone, however, has that one thing (at the least) which is bad for them, and this be mine.

throughout the years thus far i have had the delight of having some, of course, thanks to the kindness of Spiros. on the instances i have seen him in London he has made certain that i have not been able to move for them, which is wonderful.  and now another friend, sympathetic to my plight in not being able to have them on a frequent basis, has brought along these.

which friend?  well, it's not for me to reveal too much of their identity, for they work in quite a secretive emissary role. yes, i do know quite a few people whose specifics and movements can't be revealed, but please don't think my life is all that interesting; it's just the way it is from time to time. they know who they are, i know who they are, and they know how very grateful indeed what i am for these.

and these are, as you've probably ascertained yourself by looking at the pictures rather than my horrid writing, more than usual. whereas a "standard" carton of cigarettes would feature 200 (20 across 10 packets) here we have 210, which is 21 in each packet. so that's ten more than i would have optimistically hoped for a best, making this all the more a happy event.

for those unaware of the way it is in England - and presumably the whole of the UK - it's rare to get a traditional pack of 20 cigarettes any more. they sell them in packs of 17, 18 or 19. i suppose i could look the reason for this up, but speculation is more fin. i suspect, then, that it's to avoid a higher tax charge and thus keep the price as low as possible for us smokers.

this is borne out by how much Marlboro cost on the shelves here, for a pack of twenty of them these days is just slightly south of £10, as in you would only get pennies in coins of money as change off of a tenner.

how do they get 21 into a packet designed ostensibly to hold 20 as an optimum? good question. my suspicion was that the Marlboro in the packet would be smaller than standard. this proved not to be, as you can more or less see clearly in the comparison with a Sky Blue Benson & Hedges above. 

them B & H come in a pack of 17. that all changes next May, of course, unless the British government decides to abandon the change in light of that whole Brexit thing. as of next May, i think, cigarettes must be sold in a minimum packet of 20, have plain packaging, etc.

anyway, for those interested, here we go inside the pack of 21, so that you may see how they are organized and packaged. in a quite uniform way, i suppose.

you know what, up until now my feelings on Scottish Independence have been that it is for Scotland to decide what's best for them in the face of for and against arguments. Should the SNP get their wish, however - which is independence and membership of the EU - i say then go for it. the Scottish border is just slightly south of 120 miles away from me. boss if on the border they set up one of them "fags and booze" warehouse things, like what they have in Belgium. i'd take a monthly or fortnightly drive up to stock up at about half the price what they are here.

unless, of course, the Scottish government doesn't play ball and keeps the tax high. hope not, as my understanding is that Marlboro Red are as good as half price in Belgium; less in even more progressive nations across Europe.

another look at the 21 Marlboro Red packaging in Commodore 64 mode? absolutely. 

i'd like to think that this has been covered here, but just in case - yes, smoking is bad for you, no i do not wish to encourage anyone to do it and quite right i probably should be considering all this stopping / cutting down considerably business. i have every reason to suspect that will happen as and when all them changes come in. well, the "when" part would seem to be May 2017.

now that i think on, yesterday as i was enjoying a cigarette someone waved a pamphlet at me, suggesting i try one of them vaping / e-cigarette things. i just looked at them with a kindly "please go away" look about me, but i suppose i shall have to accept the next time.

for the here and now, then, a recent image of me enjoying one of those most splendid Marlboro Red. there are some of you who actually don't mind me - tolerate me, even - and so you will i trust be happy to see me happy.

indeed i am doing some interesting things with my hair at the moment. the hair care products and styling gels tend to gravitate towards a styling of their own choice rather than what i want. it seems that by the middle of any day my hair looks like how one of them off of a boss 70s band would have their hair. i am thinking of the likes of Boston, Chicago and of course Detective. might get some flares to go with the hair look.

anyway, let me go and cut into the Marlboro Red supply what i have. thank you very much indeed again, emissary like friend who brought them.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

bad headlines


soon, i fear, i might well have to give up on the idea of decent journalism once again being either a given or indeed a thing. alarm bells seem to continuously ring when i glance at the news, look you see, as clearly articles are getting "out there" which are written in an ill-informed way and apparently not edited or checked at all.

i don't think any of this stems from a particularly high standard that i may hold. it's more the case that, once, being a journalist was quite an achievement; a career reserved for the very best of best writers. care for quality of writing seems to have just fallen away.

it is with dismay i advise that the above, as you can probably make out, comes off of the BBC. whereas once the BBC was considered the pinnacle of broadcasting excellence, now they seem to be very much of a "this will do" mind.

my quarrel with the above? well, look at that first headline. whilst i confess i am not at all sure who Mark Gatiss is, i would suspect that several others - the Estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in particular - might take issue with the notion of him being declared the "creator" of Sherlock, as in Sherlock Holmes.

should that one be me being somewhat pedantic, alas the second is not. it is also a very serious and disturbing news article, and certainly not one which i would wish to make light of. which would make it all the more baffling why such poor journalism came into reporting.

the implication of the above headline is that Ched Evans was placed on trial and judged to be not guilty for an assault which occurred during another trial. i would suspect that what Metro (and yes i know they are not really a proper newspaper) was trying to report was that his retrial ended in a not guilty verdict being returned.

i do understand that the priority for newspapers in this day and age is to be "media outlets" which generate "revenue streams" rather than to report the actual news, but i find it hard to believe that the standards of writing and editing really don't matter that much any more.

or perhaps i should just stop reading the news. anyhow, rant over. for now.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

this is a functional item


i was out shopping earlier today, as i am so prone to do from time to time. well, don't we all?

if you're assuming that this post is to focus on something that i found whilst out shopping, you would indeed be correct in that assumption, look you see. i would, however, like to think that my most splendid find of the day today is of interest to a wider audience than usual.

oh yes indeed. if they look like Justin Bieber branded emery boards, that would be because they are as such and ha ha, nice one Blogger and Google - whereas Brexit flies through their spell checker thingie it assures me that there is no such word as Bieber.

am i one of them sort of people that gets called a, and let me check the spelling here myself, "Belieber"? kind of, in the sense of aren't we all? with One Direction apparently on an extended hiatus and all that Bros business only happening next year, one does need some sort of teen pop idol in their world, if only to reference in passing so that they may show themselves to be hip, with it and trendy.

what's that picture of? some fish that Spiros found to be quite exciting. he sent it on to me and i am not at all sure why, so i thought i had best put it here. he does like to use musings on my blog as a random code or means of contact for certain parties from time to time.

actually, looking at it, i think it's all do to the rainbow. from what i remember of a conversation he had with me, or at least attempted to as i wasn't really paying attention, from time to time when he wishes to meet a fellow gent for a short term yet mutually beneficial friendship, a rainbow is a sort of sign that chaps may use to indicate their willingness to do likewise. it all sounds like a forerunner to this current "tube chat" badge endeavour, which i gather has been a spectacular success.

back to the emery boards then, or if you prefer and you will indulge a little joke, back to Bieber. ha ha ha ha.indeed, see what i did with the literation or whatever there.

the branding of the emery boards themselves, as you can pretty much see above, gives every suggestion of indication that this product, or if you will products, are aimed all but exclusively at the lady type of girl customer. phrases such as "Bieber's Girl" and "Future Mrs Bieber" all suggest a lady is intended to use these, and is at odds with the current drive for absolutely nothing to be sexist or gender specific any more.

as you can see, the packaging makes it clear that these are very much real emery boards, in as far as it states that this is a functional item and not a toy.

will i, despite not being a lady of the girl variety (and f*** off Spiros before you say i am), be making use of these smart emery boards? yes, i suppose so, as and when i feel the need to emery my nails a bit.

it is quite peculiar that not more musicians endorse or otherwise licence their likeness to nail care products, i think. the whole think looks like a perfectly natural and valid marketing area to exploit. bravo to young Justin for grabbing this opportunity, i say.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, October 14, 2016

the terror war

hello there

it is always interesting, look you see, when people blame changes, developments and events on that which has not actually happened as of yet. there has been a quite spectacular display of this week, with the sensational nature of it of course enhanced by the ever keen to fan the flames of anything for a little while conduit that is "social media".

the short, actual news story - or non story, perhaps - was that a supplier and a grocer got into a bit of a debate about who should make the most profits, and as a consequence certain items from the supplier were either temporarily unavailable or in short supply. due to the dynamics of the relationship - both are, by and large, reliant on each other for any profit or even survival - this was resolved in days.

and yet it got played out all oh so dramatically. Tesco not carrying Unilever products because Unilever wished to increase prices by 10% "due to Brexit and the effect on the Pound Sterling" was the start of the end of society as we know it, dear reader, and a clear cut example of why Brexit is wrong.

because some of you like pictures, here's an advert i got mailed off of Poundland in the heat of the battle between Tesco and Unilever.

bravo Poundland for taking succinct advantage of the bad publicity surrounding a theoretical rival.

just a few random thoughts on all the fuss and nonsense, then.......with correct capitalisation......

* Brexit hasn't actually happened as such. Sure, it's going to happen, but it hasn't. Blaming anything on it is speculative at best. We will, in this regard, one day land a human on Mars. If you were to blame an asteroid hitting something or other now on the basis of that happening one day you'd get some peculiar looks.

* Aaah, but the Pound Sterling has crashed because Brexit will happen, and that's why. No. the Pound Sterling has crashed because of all them clever money and financial people who decided to, once again, place all of the coins of money eggs into one single basket. They bet wrong when they should have been preparing for any eventuality and not gambling.

* Glance, if you will, at the products above. If you look at the ingredients for most, a number come from within the UK itself. Others, in particular tea, come from countries who have a currency against which the Pound Sterling has not crashed. The 10% across the board increase due to "import costs" makes no sense.

and, well, you get the general idea.

with 24 hour rolling news coverage being a thing from multiple outlets, it is now the case - sadly - that every story must be sensationalised and made overtly dramatic so as that the provider may grab "market share" to secure advertising revenue.

and yes, i am guilty of perpetuating this non story by writing about it, so let me stop there.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

mostly mugs

ow do

if there was ever a case of me writing purely for the appreciated distraction value of doing so then this, look you see, this is so very much it. even the most passing of interest is, i suspect, going to be all the more accidental than usual, but one never knows. i just sort of throw all this out there, and wherever it may land so be it. but, if landing is happy, good.

the selection of something reasonably neutral to write about under the circumstances, or if you like circumstantially, brought me to mugs. i know that my array of mugs has over the year generated some interest here - if that continues here, well then so much the better.

the above would be our variant of "his n her" mugs, or indeed her and his ones, going on the order in which they appear. indeed they are Mr Men branded mugs.  are they particularly reflective of our traits and qualities? kind of. the one which is for my (considerably) better half is most decidedly purple, which is a colour that she has a preference for. also yes, from time to time she can be a bit naughty, i write thinking of certain newspaper related events and, indeed, a distressed petrol tanker driver.

mine? well, who isn't grumpy from time to time, i suppose. it would be quite flattering of my skills at grumpiness to say i should be so closely associated with the term, but also this mug was quite cheap. 99p, from what i remember, off of Tesco.

Pound World, as opposed to my usual Pound Land, is having a rich run of items which seem quite determined to secure my account on a more permanent basis than simply those occasions where time says that i must use them due to their proximity. here is a detail of the latest offering from them in this regard.

indeed it is a mug emblazoned, or branded, with that whole Game Of Thrones thing. no, there are no spelling errors on it that i have detected. quite surprising to see this branding going so cheap; normally an item licenced from this show costs around £10 as a starter.

a closer look at that later, but for now a treat for philately fans, in particular those who like the rudimentary processes followed by postal agencies decidedly south of the equator. or north, you know, if we've got which way around the world is all wrong. and sometimes i think we do.

that's some franked stamps right off of New Zealand, that is above. i quite like the effort they put into both the colourful stamps and the franking of sent items.

what's one of the best things you can drink out of a mug such as the ones shown here? well, that old gem of the English way of doing things dictates that it is builder's tea.

builder's tea is the name given to the tea preferred by tradesmen and other professionals. essentially it is tea brewed with a teabag in the mug, with manly, meant for men full cream milk in it, along with at least two teaspoons of hardcore sugar in it. this is not a drink for the weak or the cowardly, my friends.

yeah, that there is another look at the one Game Of Thrones mug what i got off of Pound World. the other just has Game Of Thrones written on it. this one has the "house colours" or logo, and i think motto, of them lot that here with the massive dragons is off. Targeranyainomochi or something like that. oh i see it says Targaryen on it, looking at the picture below.

but surely, you may well pose, the initial picture of Mr Men or if you like Mr Men and Little Miss mugs are not the limit of mugs what we have branded as such. no, they are not. here you go, along with a gander at that other dragon one. 

that rather smart - excellent, indeed - Mr Bump mug is off of New Zealand. i believe my sister selected it and my Mum transported it from me. as i am, and have been, somewhat accident prone, i would say that this is likely to be the Mr Men i would be most closely associated with in terms of characteristics.

anyway, with that out of my system, something of a break from writing i think. maybe. bet you i am back here on if not before the weekend.

until then, then,

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Boba Wrap

hello people

quite recently - as opposed to some unspecified date in the future, which would render this a fiction - i was tempted by yet more Boba Fett branded merchandise. this one did test my resolve in respect of throwing money at the character some, but my dedication did in fact win out.

yes. not one, not three and certainly not four, but two packets of "gift wrap", or if you like wrapping paper, emblazoned with Boba Fett off of Star Wars, along with other, lesser, minor characters.

i know that a fair few of you would like a closer look at Boba Fett as he appears on this wrapping paper without the distraction of the lesser, minor characters. here you go, then, a fairly distraction free look at this, the most latest appearance of the character on something i have bought. 

speaking of bought, just how much did i splash in respect of cash in the direction of Disney this time? 99p per packet of two sheets and two gift tags, representing an overall investment of £1.98, or if you like just 2p south of £2.

i purchased these packs as a direct consequence of them being reduced in price, as well as the obvious presence of Boba. they were marked as being £1.50 as a standard, so that's a 51p saving i made per packet. per packet of wrapping paper that, truth be told, i didn't particularly need or require.

that's one of the sheets unfolded for you. a "for scale" image, including an item which one might wrap in this paper, will be coming along later on in this blog. as in i did not do it earlier, so don't you be scrolling up looking for it, for it is not there.

it's not like having extra wrapping paper within the home is ever a waste, by the way. we have something of a stream of requirement for wrapping up gifts, presents and so forth. friends and family have birthdays, and it's always nice - when possible - to send a gift. so yeah, anyone who gets a present off of me in this wrapping and happens to have read this will know, more or less, what i spent on the paper.

a look at the Boba Fett segment of the paper in Commodore 64 mode? of course.

if one were going to give someone a gift what was wrapped in Star Wars paper it would make some semblance of sense to make that gift very much a Star Wars related item of merchandise. that, or a Star Trek something, just to cause mirth and pull a joke or prank that no one has probably every pulled before. to this end, then, at least the former rather than the latter, here's a boss Star Wars related gift for use with this wrapping paper.

yes, The Phantom Menace 2 DVD set. there is more or less universal agreement - both in respect of Star Wars and virtually all other film series or if you like franchises, that the first one is always the best. with this one being called Episode I, then, surely this must be the film that most if not all fans consider to be the best.

by my reckoning you could, with some tight margins, wrap four copies of The Phantom Menace up with each sheet of paper, so with two packets in each pack you could send about eight copies to people. this would for the most part make their world all the better, as they would be entertained by a fine film. two of them would be even more entertained than six, as they would also have one of the two tags that came with the set of wrapping paper.

it is indeed frustrating that they only give you two tags to use for gifts wrapped in the paper. i think the intention is that you use one sheet per gift, which would as i have illustrated above quite wasteful. if you were using this paper to wrap and give something that would normally need even less paper - a pen, for example, or similar sized item of stationery - you'd end up with many gifts to give an yet so few tags to announce them with.

the use of a minor, mostly background irrelevance character like Darth Vader is also annoying. why not put Boba Fett on this part, to make whatever gift you give look all the more awesome?

anyway, it's highly likely that even more Boba Fett stuff will be waved at me with a view to a parting of the coins of money in the near future. when that happens, no doubt i will feel a need to share such here.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, October 08, 2016

further pension fund mismanagement

hey there

indeed the title is true. sadly, look you see, a further effort of mine to secure or otherwise ensure a reasonable pension fund payout has ended in utter failure. this is despite the fact - and i do not rule out financial mis-selling in this respect - that i was encouraged or coerced to invest more into the pension fund scheme that i normally would.

how much more? the new pension investment portfolio costs 25% more than was the case the last time i purchased some unit trusts, or if you prefer it's now up to £2.50 from £2.00. that said, the returns on investment on offered are now substantially higher, although it seems they are also substantially more difficult to actually access.

this morning, as i dined on my breakfast of preference and enjoyed a particularly satisfactory cup of coffee, i elected to log in to my portfolio services account so that i could see confirmation of the principle payment being made to me. i had expected it to be approximately £137 million, which i feel should more or less cover my retirement plans.

there was, but of course, to be nothing but disappointment when i reviewed my account.

by virtue of the fact that there is a note advising of the intention of the pension fund people to pay out premiums north of £149 million on the next schedule payment date is, by default, and indication that they have elected to not pay them on the previously expected allocation day. it would be nice if they contacted you to instruct this prior to you seeing it on their account page, but no matter.

disappointment with my pension investment schemes is, but of course and alas, nothing new. all the way last year i documented my distress at an apparent raid on my pension fund, leaving me unable to contemplate retirement as of yet. it seems that this distress shall continue.

how far away was i from meeting the satisfactory requirements of a pension pay out in respect of the terms and conditions of the Euro Millions provident fund company? not close enough, apparently.

i'm not at all convinced that "lucky star" is an appropriate term of reference for a financial institution, but no matter as i only had one of the two required, or if you like 50%. i also only had 20% of the required similarities between my policy numbers and their allocated pay out calculation mechanism, or if you like "draw".

what are my options here in regards of accessing my pension from the Euro Millions investment company? well, it seems that they wish for me to pay another £2.50 for a policy, with the carrot teasing this being the slightly larger annuity they propose to issue to policy holders.

one of the great dilemmas about this - despite getting the sense that this is all an elaborate con - is that my funding might be diverted to pay the pension fund over to someone else. and not just anyone else, oh no. my contributions could well end up being part of a payout to a Frenchie, or a dirty Spaniard, or even perhaps a Greek peasant.

but yes, i probably shall reinvest.

despite remaining in poverty, i encourage you still, dear reader, to

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, October 06, 2016

the taper

hello people

if this post, look you see, reads a good deal worse and more convoluted than usual, that would be because it's disjointed. there's simply too much information and what have you for me to sit and write about all at once. do bear with me, then, and i trust it's of use, if not fascination, to someone somewhere.

for quite some time now, to get to the point, i've been toying if not tinkering with getting one of them boss devices that lets you convert negatives, slides and possibly 8mm film into a digital format. my (considerably) better half grew somewhat tired of my contemplations and dilly dallying on the subject. to this end, she forced my hand when a piece of equipment came along at a superb price, and so i now have one.

that is the EveDyo E10 Pro negative, slide and 8mm scanner. and that's a Led Zeppelin CD which cost me 98.5p next to it (but one for £1.99, get one free) next to it for scale. the scanner, which i fancy you are more concerned with the costing of, seems to usually sell for north of £150. when we saw it (slightly) south of £100, then, an opportunity was taken.

why was i so keen on this? it is not, after all, like i've ever expressed much interest in the world of photography and that. i suppose it's something of a lifelong fascination and engagement in taping and conversion. this would have all started when my Dad was, to my younger eyes and mind, magically able to make a tape off of a Queen record for me for my first walkman.

but, we will look at a history of the taper as we go on. for now, i would imagine that the more casual reader, or google enthusiast, is here solely to see the performance of this machine, or if you like device, to see if it is worth getting themselves, or just to see what it is all about. and if you are in a tres rush, this device is superb, even in my untrained hands.

right, scanning slides and negatives. other than the device, what one needs is some slides and some negatives. these are things what i happened to have, albeit in (at first) somewhat limited quantities.

the provenance of both? the negatives are off of The Stone Roses at Heaton Park, July 1 2012. the pictures were taken with one of them "disposable" cameras, and were developed by them off of Tesco at their theoretical "professional" photo lab. the negatives have been through at least two sets of x-ray equipment, which i gather is not so good for film - once when we headed back to SA after the gig, and then again (presumably) when they were shipped back home.

we will get to the provenance of the slides you see, dear reader, but as the next picture is off one of the negatives from The Stone Roses, let's take the time to see how the device works.

in short, quickly. you load the negative into the relevant holder (i think 5 types are provided), you slot it into the device, power up, select the type of negative and size, and et voila it appears on the screen on the device.

a really small-ish picture of it appears on the screen, as you can see. quite difficult to see any of the finer details, but you can see what it is and indeed carry out some "colour balance" adjustments, should you know what they are. that said, there is a cable you can plug into a TV or monitor so you can see it in a much larger size as you go.

once you've balanced and what have you, a couple of buttons are pressed and the new digital image off the negative are saved to either the internal memory of the device or to an SD card if you have put one in. on that note, it must be a pure HD card, an online guide says that a micro SD card in a convertor is likely to make this machine freeze.

and how does the digital image produced look? like this, it does, to be sure.

that's one of the first ones i did, then, and it is "raw". no editing, and certainly no messing about with the colour balance or any of the other stuff i don't quite understand yet. in those terms, then, this is, to me, perfectly satisfactory.

size and quality of the image? well, the picture file, a JPEG, is just slightly south of 3MB. in terms of resolution, quality, etc, the box says "22MP", whatever that means. someone on the web, however, has said that it is "14MP", whatever that is, but is "interlaced", whatever that means, to create a sense of it being the aforementioned 22MP. if that helps you out, great.

another taper story? sure. when i was in the mid-80s i was quite interested in the news, and so watched it. one night there was a segment on the dangers of something called "computer piracy". it showed you someone making copies of tape based computer games via a "tape to tape" deck on a stereo. such a thing had not occurred to me to do. i set about doing it at once, of course, but of course only with computer programs that i was legally entitled to make copies of, as breaking any sort of copyright in place would not be part of my character. no, no siree, law enforcement type, that's not how it is done.

onwards to slides on this new device, then, and the provenance of the slides that i have. but, dear reader, although it will be instant for you to read it, i shall only write it tomorrow. enough for this second session of updating this epic blog post.

provenance of the slides i had at my disposal to try? my Uncle. no, not that one, yes that one and hence no not the other one either. he had given them to me quite some time ago, and had assured me that i featured on the slides. at least that's what i think he said.

did i in fact feature? no, not quite. perhaps in a metaphorical way, maybe.

if you're looking at the above collage of works of art, and that is what we shall call it, dear reader, and thinking they all look like......that's because they are supposed to, i would expect. it turns out that these slides are from a midwife convention held in North America (possibly Canada) in the early 1990s, possibly late 92 or early 93.

for the technical details, no i made no special preparations or adjustments in respect of the above image. i just loaded the slide up, pressed "capture", and what you see is what i got. yeah, of course you can adjust the quality, colours and light - i just haven't worked out how. we will get to that in a bit, technical fans.

another look at the device in action with a negative? yeah, sure, and then i suppose i had best pepper this post with another look at my history of taping / converting.

the above picture does indeed come from when you think it does, but there's a closer look (as in how the scanned or captured image came out) just now.

after learning the art, for educational and non-copyright violating purposes, of tape to tape recording for computer games, it would seem in retrospect natural that i would explore other avenues of doing this with the technology of the day. connecting two video machines was to be the next stage, then, and one that i would like to think i mastered very well indeed.

more of that just now, but yes, eagle eyed types, the above does indeed show me scanning a negative off of the wedding day of my (considerably) half and i; a day what my (considerably) better half assures me was one of the happiest of my whole life.

and yes, dear reader, my (considerably) better half further assures me that i am, have always been and shall forever be very happily married. bless her for reminding me of this.

the above image came from a negative that was given to me by an Uncle - indeed yes that one, not the other one from the slides and no, not the other. it was a picture taken by my Gran who is sadly no longer with us, but who did come out to be an important part of celebrating our wedding.

so, yes, anyway. connecting two video machines. it worked a treat, it did, to be sure. but i was always mindful to make sure that i never, ever used this great power to make copies off of films or other recorded materials what had copyright on them. this was of course in particular true of any video rented off of petrol station at Marton Shops, which they have torn down and replaced with a dentist and a bookies.

phew, there's a long way to go with this blog post yet. anyway, for technical fans, or if you like people who want to know how you can scan negatives and slides perfectly, let's have a gander at the mysteries of the adjustments you can make before saving the scan of the negative or slide. 

right, back to writing this. now where were we. aaaah, yes, technical.......

the above is what the device presents you in terms of "fixing" the picture. no. i am not sure what EV means. R, G and B are, i believe, there to represent the Red, Green and Blue levels in a picture. you can adjust these - is that what's called hue and saturation and so forth? - before saving.

i have not really fiddled with these controls as yet as such. mostly that's down to time, but partially because i have had no training and experience in this. with respect to the latter, that's not really an issue. the very worst that happens is that i save a picture which is too red, green or blue, and i have to delete it and start again. hopefully one day soon i will have time to play, but for rough and ready, done in seconds work i can't complain with how they have come out thus far.

in order to get the most out of these settings i suspect that i shall need to hook the device up, via the cable provided, to my PC monitor or a television. the little screen on the device is good for a glance at what you're doing, but it strikes me that to be able to save in the best quality possible you really need to be looking at the biggest possible image of it.

now then, up to this point we've looked at the basics of what this device can do in terms of converting slides and negatives. any device, theoretically, should be able to do the above, with the difference being the cheaper the machine the lower quality. time for the device to face certain tests, or if you like trials, to show its worth.

what's the above? i know this could be like one of them pictures which shows a tape and a pencil and says "only kids who grew up in the 70s / 80s / 90s will understand this", but no. this is not a challenge. it is, as best i can describe, a "viewfinder". in the white end is a colour slide, whilst at the other, smaller end - the "business end" if you like, there's normally a bit of magnifying glass. you hold the white bit towards a source of light, right, and you may see the picture on the slide.

as the "business end" of this one happened to be broken, my uncle (the one off of the wedding picture negative giver) and i decided to elect to use this one as an experiment in scanning, for it was not possible to repair it and thus nothing would be lost if things went wrong.

i took the viewfinder home, then, and popped it open so that i may retrieve the slide from it.

provenance of the viewfinder? other than off of uncle? well, uncle says Butlins at Kent in 1980. i would trust him implicitly that this was the case. had i been called on to guess i would have said a couple of years earlier in the late 70s, but no matter.

with no way of knowing for certain who or what would be depicted on the slide, into the device it went, then, using the relevant slide holder (it appeared to fit into the one designed for 110 size) and on the machine went.

as you can pretty much clearly make out on the screen of the device above that's two people. some of you will not need this to be spoken, but it is in fact an image of my dearly missed, for they are so sadly no longer with us, grandparents. quite a happy day, then, that i was through this device able to obtain an image of them that had not been seen for some time.

a closer look at the image i scanned, as in the actual image i scanned? of course, here it is as it was produced by the device.

lovely picture. i do, however, need to work on all that EV stuff and colour balance to make it all look perfect.

in terms of all this saving and storage side, one does have to buy an SD card. i suspect i may have mentioned this earlier - totes sorry if i have, but i am not going back to look. the onboard memory can hold "about 40" images. with the size of each picture being around 3MB, then, although it does not say so i am guessing that it has a memory capacity in itself of 128MB.

please note it also requires a full on SD card, and not a "micro SD" card in an adapter, or if you like adaptor. the books says that if you use an adapter version it might cause the machine to freeze.

now, then. a true test or if you like trial for the device. the main motivational reason for purchasing this device above all other was the claim that it made about being able to convert 8mm and super 8mm film. i kind of assumed that his was a highly subjective and conditional claim, and i was proved right. but it does do what it says on the box. we will see.

as it happens i do indeed have access to a fair bit of 8mm footage, as shown above. also, as shown on this blog a while ago, maybe three or four years. it's 8mm footage filmed by my Dad with a camera, back in the days before a video camera was an actual thing. which means it is from the 70s.

the reason it came up on the blog before is that i have in fact already had this converted. it took some time and cost some considerable coin of money, but was all worthwhile. the prospect of being able to convert it myself, however was - as my fascination with taping and converting perhaps suggests - too tempting a prospect to ignore.

on we go, then, and first one is required to select "movie positive" for the type of thing that you are going to scan on the device.

let's get one thing clear - it does not claim to "convert" 8mm in the same way that you would convert a VHS to Beta, or vice versa. this is to say there's no means by which you can simply play the film reel and have it record as-is. there are some devices which do allow you to do this, but they are professional studio ones and tend to cost thousands, if not more. a telecine device and a video camera can do it, which would set you back slightly south of £2,000 (if you are lucky), but even then it's not going to be perfect.

why not? well, to get technical (ish), it is all to do with "fps", which is "frames per second". typically an 8mm film reel would run at 16 - 18 fps. great. a video camera, indeed a TV or video, would normally run at 24 fps, although this can be 25/26, depending on where you are in the world. simply projecting 8mm on a screen and filming it would, then, not work. well, it sort of does, but you get that "flicker" effect on the image, and the sense that it is sped up.

what this device claims to let you do is instead scan it in frame by frame. these scans can then be combined and made into a video, with something as basic as Windows Movie Maker being perfectly capable of doing it. there is of course a problem with this. well, a couple. three maybe.

firstly, it will get messy. i think each reel of 8mm i have is 50ft long, with one of them being 2 or 3 times that size. with no empty reel to spool it on to, and then rewind i guess, i will be awash in film reel.

this didn't stop me having a go with the start of a reel, of course. at which point i hit another issue.

yes, quite. what you can see on the screen there is an awful lot of black and only part of the image.

i loaded in the film exactly, or if you like precisely, how it said to in the book or guide or what have you, and it wasn't "capturing" the footage as it should. it looked like the problem of unspooling many feet of film was academic if not moot, then, as if i did i would not be able to capture the frames.

except of course i worked out a way around this, and behold, here's a capture from the 8mm film above as it perhaps should look.

provenance? as in what is it? why, that's a lion. i would suggest, then, that this reel is the one which my Dad took at Chester zoo, when i will have been about 2 or so. many years ago indeed.

how did i fix the problem i first experienced in trying to do this? quite simple really, i simply ignored the instructions in respect of where it said to put the 8mm film and fed it into the section designed for slides or negatives.

as you can see in the above, that shows the full image on the screen, at the least. and, at the least, as the images show, it is in fact viable to scan each and every frame of an 8mm reel in order to assemble it into a digitized movie. which leads us to the major problem with all of this.

time. time, ladies and gentlemen, time. if we go on the basis of lowest rate, 16 fps means that i would need to scan 16 frames to make 1 second of film. or 160 frames to make 10 seconds. and, well, so on, you get the idea. that is many, many hours of work. when you hear that they have "restored" a film frame by frame, i trust you will now have an even higher level of respect for just what exactly that has involved.

almost done with this rather long blog post on this device, then.

to give a run down then, my skills as the taper, or if you like the converter, stretch to the following with the equipment i have :

* negatives to digital image / printed photos
* slides to digital image / printed photos
* 8mm film image grams to digital image / printed photo
* VHS to DVD
* VHS C (video camera) to DVD
* audio tape cassette (no reel to reel) to digital file / CD

it has been suggested that i could probably set up a nice little part time operation with the above, as there are people out there that want it done, don't have or don't want to get the equipment and are happy to offer coins of money for it to be done. to this i say maybe.

a final 8mm shot, showing me wandering around Chester Zoo? sure, why not.

in respect of 8mm film, there are people out there who presumably have the very expensive pro equipment. they charge around £5 (plus postage) to convert one 50 ft reel. that's better than i could ever do.

at this stage i am really eager to play with my toy, but in no way do i feel that i can yet use it to a high quality level that i'd expect people to pay for my time to do it. perhaps one day, but today isn't that day.

that said, bringing the points above together, if any friend, family member, reader or avid google user has got here and said "i have some of that which i wouldn't mind converting", i'd be happy to do it for you. get in touch, we will arrange getting it to me.

aaaaaand......that's all. if you are looking at buying this device, or similar, for your own photos, slides, etc, then i hope i have given some helpful information over. if you've just read all of this for fun, thank you very much indeed for doing so.

the next blog post may be shorter.........

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!