Sunday, June 15, 2008


Sunbathing Bee


Saturday, June 14, 2008


Power LAN to the rescue

The Xbox 360 has for a while been pretty flakey keeping a connection going with Xbox Live. I'm pretty sure this has been down to the Xbox wireless network adapter I'm using (and been having trouble with).
I can't run a cable through to the part of the room where the TV is. Well, I can but it would involve lifting up carpets and drilling through walls which just is NOT going to happen. So I have decided to use the network that ALL houses come with - all houses that use electricity, anyway.
It must be twenty years ago now (when I was working at Morgan Crucible) that we in the IT department received a flyer extolling the virtues of networks that sent data over the copper wires used by the electricity that powered the computers. This seemed too weird and wonderful at the time so we didn't use it in the building.
Fast forward two decades and every home seems to have PCs with home LANs. The network of choice has been wireless to avoid dragging CAT5 Ethernet cablin round the house but there are a lot of places where wireless just doesn't do the trick. This is either because of thick walls or long distances between the wireless transmitter (usually downstairs where Broadband comes into the building) and the computer (in a bedroom upstairs somewhere).
So I've invested in a Devolo starter kit to join the Xbox to the Broadband router. What you need to do is plug a network cable in between your computer and one adapter to tell it to be friends with the other adapter. Seemed easy enough except my new Vista-running Dell laptop refused to see the adapter at the end of the cable. Had to borrow Samantha's old XP computer to be able to set up the network at all.
Once that was done I had to find some spare power sockets near the Broadband router and then by the TV - not easy even in a modern house where multiple power blocks are the order of the day. I also had to rearrange the plugs so that the fat adapter had small enough plugs next to it to get plugged in at all.
But it seems to be working fine now - the Xbox sure seems to be downloading content faster. Just need to see if it still randomly signs out of XBL.


Thursday, June 12, 2008


Pumps with a sense of humour

Nectar sent round a voucher pack recently that let me know that, if I bought 35 litres of fuel for the car this week, I would get a £5 M&S {whoop}. Luckily the tank was nearly empty so next time I went in to my local BP station, I filled up with diesel.
The LCD display whizzed away as the fuel poured into the tank until ... stopping at 34.98 litres. Ha, ha, very funny.
A few more efforts at getting millilitres past the sensor and I was dead in 35 litres. Marvellous.
At the till, the highly skilled member of staff knew nothing of the deal even though there was an inch-thick wad of leaflets about the offer on the counter in front of me. At first he tried to convince me that the leaflets were the vouchers. After checking with a supervisor, he was directed to the wad of vouchers on the till in front of him...
And what a voucher - expires end of June and can only be used if you spend £15 on food/drink/flowers/plants. Why did I bother?

Sunday, June 08, 2008


Strange clouds



Out in the garden...

A soldierfly, showing its lovely metallic sheen while sitting on a pear tree leaf

New season's rose



Summer is here

It seems a really long time since last summer so I'd forgotten what it was like. And the things you have to do, like gardening. So yesterday was a big offensive on everything green. The grass had its second cut of the year - before I started it was even longer than when I cut it for the first time a few weeks ago. Thankfully the grass only covers about 180 square metres (0.044 acres). For comparison, the centre circle of a football pitch is 260 square metres.

The hedges that were starting to block the paths were chopped back and a few holly tree branches felt the bite of the saw. Hidden away in the topiary (a.k.a. the round hedge) was a small Yellow Shell Moth.

According to, this is a common creature that grows up to an inch in wingspan and flies from June to August.

The flower beds in the back garden (and I use the term "flower beds" quite loosely) are becoming overwhelmed by a crawling blackberry plant. Calling something with long tendrils a bush doesn't seem quite right. And loads of grass so we can't actually see where the lawn ends and the beds begin.

A survey of the plants-in-pots has shown a high mortality rate - I know it has been raining quite a lot but it has also been dry in between and that was when we failed to supply water ourselves. A few rose bushes have turned to twigs and one of the 10-year-old horse chestnuts has given in, although it's twin a few pots along is covered in large leaves. The ash tree is fine, although that has a larger pot than the rest, but the sycamore looks sickly. This is strange as normally a sycamore is like a weed and grows everywhere as quick as you like.

The avocado struggles on, year after year, despite all the neglect I shower upon it. Admittedly it is a lot shorter than in recent years after being cooked inside the plastic greenhouse. I disposed of the greenhouse a few weeks ago as it was just becoming too full of holes - the plastic the manufacturers chose for the sheeting was almost as poor a quality as that used to connect the metal poles together. I now have several months to decide what to do before the frost returns - maybe the avocado will come back inside the house (providing it no longer has any bugs on it that crap on the floor).


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