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Stuff Blogs

 

Articles about stuff that I've come across and generally find amusing.

(This page showing the last 10 entries. To see all Stuff blogs go to Stuff Blog Archives)

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They Said It Couldn't Happen

(Posted 18:43:15 on 2nd May 2020)
In the midst of all this chaos caused by COVID-19 a bond was formed. No, stronger than a bond. A loyalty, a trust, an understanding .... a unit. Forged as one, a team of geriatric gamers took on the millennial kids of today and triumphed. The old bulls walked down the hill and had their feast of all the heffers. The likes of which have never been seen before. Well maybe once if the know the quote below:

“In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them....maybe you can hire The A-Team.”

The statistics are terrible, but the tag line if the banner is all that matters. Luke, Paul and I hid our way to victory. My aim was absolutely terrible at the end, but it wasn't helped with the ping spamming to tell me where the target was or the constant cries of “get him Jamie, he's here, get him, get him ...”
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I even went as far as to record a clip of the win which, honestly, highlights exactly how bad we are. There was only one person left against the three of us. I have no idea what Paul did, he just seemed to die. Luke was trying to creep in and walked straight at him seeming to face tank his shots. I crept round to get an angle and whiffed every shot in my first mag. I got lucky that I could use my ability to run off then use a battery on gold shields.

Full HD Video (Right click and save as)



Just to prove that my aim isn't completely terrible, here's a couple of other wins - the first one I had and one that happened just after Paul and Luke left. Both of these with random strangers that weren't yelling in my ear.

Full HD Video (Right click and save as)



Full HD Video (Right click and save as)

 

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Racing Numbers

(Posted 22:02:13 on 31st May 2019)
I had to register a number for my car this weekend. Obviously I went with 42 and I ordered some magnetic numbers to put on my car. The other organization I go with provides numbers. Anyway, my numbers have arrived and I now have the fastest fridge in Walnut Creek.
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Where'd all the space go?

(Posted 18:47:18 on 21st April 2019)
OK, so I got this message in the picture below, that I jokingly attributed to Russian hackers trying to adjust the vote after I exposed them.
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(Presidential translation: The device wot allows you to watch porn online done fucked up bigly).

This issue by itself isn't that big of a deal as I have rather a lot of spare disks lying around. Long story, but right now I feel I could back up Amazon Web Services, Azure and Google Cloud combined if needed. The problem was that when I booted into the computer it was running crazy slow. The disk that was compromised was the one that this EBR website is running on and that my TV records to. A while back I'd got a message that the C drive was out of space and moved the large stuff off. (The website takes up about 300GB of space because there are some very large video and music files sitting at the back of it).

A quick look showed that the C drive only had 3k of space left. Now there's no way that I'd created another 300GB of files as I don't use that computer. There aren't many directories on the C drive, so I looked at the properties of each of them, added up the disk space use and it came to something like 300-400GB. Problem as the disk drive is 1TB. Where's the other 600GB or so not being reported.

Quick search of the old world wide web and there's a gazillion articles telling you your hard disk is broken, run chkdsk. Or that you've got a virus, buy this software and the world will be a happy place. So I ran chkdsk ... nothing. Booted computer in safe mode and ran virus checker .... nothing. Finally found some website suggesting that it might be Windows Modules Installer service that is used by the system to compress log files.

Well, turns out that the culprit was indeed Bill Gates himself. Apparently this is a known issue that Microsoft haven't bothered to fix. I'm guessing it doesn't affect too many people or they just take their computer to the computer shop to be fixed and get charged a lot of money by someone who just has to do the following:

1. Stop Windows Modules Installer. Goto services (type in services.msc), find it in the list and stop it.
2. Use explorer to goto C:/windows/logs/cbs and either delete or move the files out of that folder (if you feel you might need them ... unlikely)
3. Use explorer to got C:/windows/temp and delete cab* which are the temporary log files that were created and never deleted.

So, here's the thing. When you click on c:/windows/temp for the first time, it asks you if you want to allow access to the directory. Until that point, it appears it's not included the contents of that directory when you look at the properties of c:/windows, hence the total storage taken by the sub directories not equaling the total being shown on the properties of the C drive.

Now, here's the staggering thing. I deleted almost 800GB of cab* temp files. Explorer wouldn't load the directory, so I just used DOS to go there. I did run a directory listing first ... mistake ... there was about 40,000 files in there and that took forever to run. I ended up just typing del cab* and getting rid of everything that way. Seems to have worked and we're back in business!
 

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Off Road Trails

(Posted 19:35:29 on 23rd November 2018)
Alright, so I decided to give the truck a chance to see what it can do to make a change from taking the car out. Thought I'd try a bit of off roading. Now, the fires have closed most places either because of what's going on or the danger of starting a fire. Other places warned of there being too many people at Thanksgiving and that they would turn folks away. So, I searched and found some sites that do off road trails. Now, first thing I'm going to say is that these sites are totally full of misinformation. It's actually crazy how bad the information is. Right, so let's start at the beginning. Figured I'd head south to Monterrey area and stay there. Worst case scenario I could take William to the Acquarium. There were two trails listed. First was designated as easy. Second as moderate. The easy one had a lot of conflicting information including that the trail was on private land. The second one seemed more legit so headed there. Nope - it's private land. Was supposed to be a loop trail from highway 1 up into the mountains and back round again. We started at the northern most part and you can't drive anywhere on it given the gate and warning signs. Then headed to the southern part of it and first found the road Nacimiento-Fergusson Road. This is a fairly normal small road that's paved. There are a few rock falls on it, but nothing to worry about. There was a review that someone had posted of having done the drive in a car. Well, they may have done that part of the drive in a car, but not the trail. The target is the coast ridge road which, as the name suggests, is a trail that runs the ridge of the mountain. We headed north to start with which is where the trail sites say to drive and you can get 5-10 miles up it and then you reach a trail head for hiking. The trail head is blocked with posts to prevent vehicles from going further. Someone had noted this in their review, but I hadn't read that one. Anyway, that's a fun drive into the mountain with great scenery, but you kind of feel annoyed that it's a there and back as opposed to driving a loop. Once back to the Nacimiento-Fergusson Road, decided to try the South Coast Ridge Road (as opposed to North). This works great and the map below shows a loop that works (obviously completing the loop on highway 1. Highlighted is just the off road bit.

ORRoute.jpg

Double click to see in Google Maps



Couple of additional notes. There's a bit that looks like it cuts through from the Coast Ridge Road to Plaskett. It does, but it goes through private land and you will hit a gate and have to reverse up and turn around. Interestingly, at time of writing, the white squarish bits inside the green of the forest represent the private land and you can see where you get stopped. It's annoyingly for just a small bit, but I guess they don't want folks driving through.

I wish I'd taken photos as the views are great, albeit that we were in clouds for a lot of it, but we also had some amazing views. The issue was really not knowing where I was going and if we could get out at the other end, it seemed to make sense to just press forward.

I didn't track where we went, but looking at the map, it seems like the North Coast Road goes higher to about 3900 ft at the furthest point you can drive. The South Coast Road seems to go to 3200 feet in places and it looks like you're generally going up and down 500 feet as you drive along. The drive itself isn't that difficult. There's a couple of spots where you need the four wheel drive and ground clearance to get over rocks, but the majority of it is relatively easy going.

Interesting sign as you get onto the road telling you that you need 4WD and a note that AWD is not 4WD. Would be interesting to see someone go up in their car. As I said, you'd actually get up most places, but you'd end up beached in others.
 

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Net Neutrality

(Posted 12:48:43 on 12th July 2017)
There is little, if no, political bias on this site and there is no intention to change that. I do, however, fully support Net Neutrality and respect all the companies that have come together today to protest against internet control.

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Net Neutrality isn't just a US problem. If control of the internet is given to companies in the US, others will follow. “Title II” of the Communications Act provides legal foundation for net neutrality. Without it, Internet Service Providers will be able to block, charge or slow down sites that you visit. The internet exists to allow freedom of speech and expression. The internet should be somewhere you go to find and see what you want. Not what a company wants you to see!

Battle For The Net
 

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Disneyland

(Posted 18:59:21 on 3rd December 2016)
So I took the plunge and went to Disneyland for the Thanksgiving holiday with William. I have to be honest, I was a bit worried that I wouldn't like it. I mean, I'm kind of done with all the roller coasters having ridden them in my youth. I was worried that the crowds would annoy me ... and they did, but it wasn't too bad that it ruined the holiday.

I only took 3 photos during the trip. I've still not turned into one of the sad muppets that needs to document their life on facebook or other social media. That's probably a rant for another day about the shit that people post online. Anyway, I hired myself a scooter so that I could get round the park and that was definitely the right decision. I probably would have been able to walk from one side to the other, but that would have taken all day and William employed the scatter method to his ride selection. Rather than doing what most people do and going to one of the areas in the park, going on the rides you want and move along, we just went back and forth all over the place.

Alright, so first question - what's better than California Screamin'? California Screamin' in the rain!
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So this was on the last day. We knew it was going to rain. I'd been sensible enough to look at the forecast before we went on the trip and brought rain coats with us. Initially it was forecast to rain around 11:00, but that slipped on the day to around 3:00 in the afternoon. I can't actually remember what time it decided to rain, but we'd just split from Mike, Sue, Michaela and Johnny to have another go on the big roller coaster. They were a little more timid with their rides. It started to rain while we were in the queue for the ride and by the time we got on it, the heavens opened. We were either the last car or the last but one before they shut the ride down. I said to William that we got to do something not many people will ever do as it doesn't rain there very often and the ride shuts down when it does, but we rode California Screamin' in the rain. The girls behind us seemed to be enjoying it as well.

Talking of rain though, something I'd not really thought about, but when it rains, you generally just wear a jacket and that keeps you mostly dry. When you're on a mobility scooter, couple of things. First, if you left it to get on a ride, you had to sit in a puddle when you came back as water had collected on the seat. Second, that seating position that you ride the scooter leaves the bottom half of your body exposed. That, plus the fact that when you rode the damn thing the wheels were flicking up water into your genitals, I think I got the wettest I've ever got. I had to get my suitcase and change my jeans in the toilet at the hotel before we headed out.

OK, so thinking about it, the massive 3 photos I took were all taken on the last day. This photo was taken a little early (yes, the weather changed that quickly) in the queue for cars. Somewhat amused by the Butte Gas, obviously pronouncing it Butt Gas which I'm sure is the intention.

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That was by far the longest queue we went in. The ride had broken down the previous day when we had an early pass into that park, so we had to queue with the rest of them when it finally opened. All the fast passes were gone more or less as soon as the ride re-opened.

Finally, the last ride of the trip. Yes, we were already soaked, so it made sense to finish with Splash Mountain.

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EastBayRag Police Department

(Posted 17:25:20 on 2nd July 2016)
The global phenomenon that is EastBayRag has become some big, surpassing Microsoft, Google and Apple combined that it's time to start its own Police Department. As crazy as it seems that something that started as one man's dreams has become so big and so popular that it needs its own law enforcement, but that's just the way it is.

What more proof can you need of such expansion than the arrival of the police barriers. The barriers that will be used to barrier off anything that needs barriering off.

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The Final Countdown

(Posted 16:47:26 on 2nd July 2016)
EastBayRag has started counting down! A timer has appeared on the home page. What's that all about then? Who knows? But maybe, just maybe it's something important. One thing's for sure - you've got a long time to figure it out as it's quite a long countdown.
 

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Your tax dollars/pounds hard at work

(Posted 22:45:41 on 29th May 2016)
It never ceases to amaze me how inefficient government agencies are and their complete disregard for money. It doesn't really matter which country you're in, it's the same the world over. Complete bureaucratic bullshit!

OK, so this particular issue that's got me riled relates to the UK government. To be specific Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC). I received an email from HMRC telling me that there was a message for me on my online account. I had signed up for the green option, so would no longer get letters in the mail (something I've done with pretty much everything I can). OK, so go to the website and try to log on. Interesting, they've implemented secondary security where it sends a code to the mobile phone you have on file. Click the button, wait and ....... nothing happens.

OK, so what do you do now? Well, click the help link and it tells you to call the help desk and if you provide them with your social security number and the phone number on file, they will get you access. I tried to call the help desk and got the message “we are unable to help you at this time ... click”. Not even a queue, just straight disconnected.

Not to be deterred by a failure through the second avenue, I thought I'd try a third and sent them an email asking how I was to access the account given that I was not being sent an authorization code and when I called the help desk, nobody answered and it just disconnected. The email came back saying I needed to phone the help desk and have my National Security number with me to validate my identity. So basically some intern didn't bother to read the actual message and just cut and paste the default message. So no help there!

I tried to call a few more times and still no queue, too busy.

I'm not entirely sure why, but I tried to log in again and it sent me a code. Great! Party Time! No. I entered the code and then a message comes up "Unable to validate your identity". Please contact the help desk. Are you fucking serious?

I finally got through to the help desk today some weeks later. The IT help desk said there's nothing they can do about my issue, it's a new system they don't control and they don't know why the website is telling people to contact the help desk. They told me to call the tax office and ask them what to do as they could access my messages and let me know if there was anything critical.

I called the tax office and they said they were unable to help me and I needed to contact the IT help desk. For fucks sake! Talk about the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. The woman on this help desk at the tax office said she was cross with the woman on the other help desk for passing me off to them. She also said that because I lived overseas I couldn't file my taxes online. I pointed out that I'd been filing my taxes online since the option had been available and that the IRS mandates that I do them online being an overseas taxpayer. This seemed confusing to her, but after she researched it, she did indeed note that I had managed to process my tax return online. Unfortunately, however, she is not able to help me and has told me to call the IT help desk again.

I can only imagine the billions of pounds the government has spent on this online processing in order to have something setup that doesn't work. And the amount of money they are paying for people to sit on help desks and provide absolutely no support whatsoever.

As it stands, I have HMRC sending me urgent messages to an inbox I can't access and mandating that I complete my tax returns online on a system I can't log onto. You would have thought they'd do everything they could to take money from me to pay the morons they employ!
 

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Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

(Posted 20:02:03 on 15th May 2016)
The season is over and I still can't believe it. Not only did Leicester win the Premier League, but they absolutely dominated it. It's crazy to think that we had a chance of winning, but winning by 10 points is ridiculous. If the odds on us winning the title were 5000/1, can you imagine what the odds would have been on us winning by 10 points.

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Nope .... it's not a fantasy. I keep looking and yes, we did indeed win the league!
 

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