ASUS Eee PC action shot

For nearly a week now I have been exclusively using an Eee PC. I promised an action shot and here it is:

ASUS Eee PC - action shot

Using this device I have went about all my regular activities, even a bit of web development.

The biggest hindrance I've found has been using a screen resolution lower than what I'm accustomed to and I'm not too keen on the button strip below the trackpad but I have gotten used to the keyboard to an extent though would certainly benefit from smaller hands ;)

Enough negativity, buy one today!

Neuromancer re-re-revisited

NeuromancerI was having a quick look through some second-hand books last weekend and happened across a copy of Neuromancer by William Gibson, the “father of cyber-punk”. I had to have it and this marked the third time I’ve purchased a copy of this seminal work.

I started into it on the bus home yesterday and it still seems fresh. Neuromancer is one of the very few books I’ve read more than once and I’ve enjoyed it every time, so much so I’ve lost track of the exact number of times I’ve read it.

I’m a huge Gibson fan and can’t wait to get a copy of his latest book, Spook Country :)

Nerves of chocolate

My brother got married at the weekend and as part of the preparations we had to transport the wedding cake from my uncle’s bakery to Lusty Beg island, where the reception was held: a distance of 10.6 miles, according to Google.

Due to the size and weight of the cake it was decided that I would hold it on my lap while my brother drove, here’s an action shot:

Tim's wedding cake

At every twist and turn in the road my nerves were jangled and by the end of the journey Tim had sweat stains under his arms. The aroma coming from the cake had my taste buds watering in anticipation.

Forget crisps, sweets, pizza and all other junk foods: chocolate is the one thing that I feel is worth abandoning a strict, clean diet for ;) My brother Tim is also a huge chocolate fan and hence decided against a traditional fruit cake.

It tasted as good as it looks, compliments go out to my uncle Leslie!

I made this

I can’t believe it, but I actually took the time out yesterday to make this. Here’s what it’s meant to look like:

Paper Wallet - Original
..and here’s my effort:

Paper Wallet - My Effort

It is safe to say I drank too much coffee yesterday ;)

The pot crack’d

It was Sunday morning and I went through my usual routine: I got up, flicked on the coffee machine which I had filled with water and ground coffee the night before and went to the bathroom. I decided to get back into my bed for a bit and whilst I was lying there I heard a cracking sound. I feared the worst, thinking: “please not my precious caffeine preparation paraphernalia” and sure enough the black goodness was weeping from the pot and sizzling on the hotplate. Poor photography aside, here’s the fallen soldier:

Cracked - old coffee pot

My brother and his fiancee presented me with the machine Christmas before last, my love of the stuff being what it is, so it had seen well over a year of practically daily use. Not wanting to disrupt my morning routine for the next day I decided to head down to Argos after a swim to pick up a replacement. Here’s the new machine on its maiden run:

Cracked - the replacement coffee machine

For a good while I’ve been thinking about getting a more “professional” filter machine so I decided not to spend big and the model I choose was inexpensive yet fits my needs precisely, fitting in well with the remainder of my coffee equipment. It truly is an obsession :)

New Workspace

Here a quick snap of my new workspace:

New Workspace

You can see my MacBook and the second display with the site I’m current working on along with my lunch and ubiquitous coffee mug…

Now With Filter Coffee!

Coffee time came around this morning at 11am just like it always does, but when I got to the kitchen there was no sign of the usual paraphernalia. I was placed in a moral dilemma: do I selfishly get busy with the 1 mug french press or dive into the catering-sized drum of Nescafe Original Blend? Thankfully, before I had to make my mind up, the green light was given for the purchase of some new equipment, so Phil and myself picked up some funds from petty cash and hit the Argos around the corner.

We had money to burn and the need for something shiny. The laminated book of dreams was consulted and we decided on a Morphy Richards “Cafe Matlino filter machine; the product number was written down and handed to the girl behind the counter, money changed hands and we awaited our new piece of kit. Within a few brief minutes the prize was ours and we headed back to the office, unpacked the machine and set it up for a water-only brew to cleanse the system. Here’s an action shot from the first pot of coffee produced:

New Filter Coffee Machine

The machine has an array of esoteric buttons, lights and displays which the documentation insists are used to have the brewing process instigated at a predestined time. Personally I prefer the technique prescribed by Terry Tate, Office Linebacker: “yo’ kill the joe yo’ make some mo’!” Namely, having a pot of black gold available at all times during the day. Already my mind is filled with ideas along the lines of the infamous Trojan Room coffee machine, the granddaddy of all web-cams.

As an interesting end note, when I was checking out the Argos site I discovered a potential for Cross Site Scripting, look at the breadcrumb trail on this page!

Secret Santa

Secret Santa - Paul Singing And Strumming It’s that time of the year again and is customary at the VDA we had our Secret Santa jollifications this morning. Once again, Paul proved himself man enough to fill the big guy’s boots and surprised us all by making his entrance with a guitar and serenading us with a rendition of Slade’s Merry Xmas Everybody. Good show old chap!

Next up was the main event: the distribution of gifts, yee ha! About a fortnight ago the names of all participating staff (yes, some choose not to partake in the festivities, humbug!) were put into a hat and we each drew one. I only got my act together yesterday but got creative with the wrapping and printed out a couple of full page images of neurons within the neocortex from the Blue Brain Project, thanks Google Images!

Upon receipt of a copy of Huxley’s Brave New World Sinead instantly guessed I was her Secret Santa and she is either an accomplished actress or she genuinely liked it, result! I was handed this ominous looking package:

Secret Santa - All Wrapped Up

I couldn’t even guess at what it was and when I opened it this was awaiting me:

Secret Santa - Unwrapped

How appropriate! And by the power of Java here is an action shot of my new paraphernalia:

Secret Santa - By The Power Of Java! Also included in the set were some cinnamon sticks, a mini grater and some “French Vanilla” coffee powder: I forgot completely about the cinnamon when I was getting the Joe, but might well give it a go later. I don’t know about the coffee powder though, I only resort to instant when I can’t get the real thing. All in all a very thoughtful gift given my reputation about the office as a coffee fiend. Phil on the other hand got an edible posing pouch…

Bulk Powders

In my time honored tradition of bulk purchasing I placed an order with, which arrived last week. I refrained from documenting it at the time as I’ve only just had the opportunity to sample the produce and here is what was waiting for me at reception last Tuesday:

Bulk Powders - Box Unopened

I’d been meaning to start buying my supplements online for a while but I wasn’t going to be saving much going for brand name products, especially when delivery costs were factored in. I scoured through and compared the online retailers I found discussed there and decided on the aforementioned site which specialises in no-frills, bulk orders:

Bulk Powders - Box Opened

As you can see, the goods came packaged in food-grade buckets, with the contents described via an ink-jet printed label:

Bulk Powders - Dextrose and Flavour Systems

My main objective was to find a cheaper source for whey: I’d been buying my protein powder locally and I knew from reading various forums that there had to be a cheaper solution. A 2.27 Kg tub of Instant Whey was costing me £34.95 approximately every 6 weeks, so I was pleased to find a 5 Kg bucket of unflavoured whey for only £24.99:

Bulk Powders - Unflavoured Whey

My breakfast/pre-workout smoothie has contained this stuff for the past 2 mornings and I’ve had no complaints. Along with the whey and the dextrose, I ordered a couple of “flavouring systems,” chocolate and strawberry cream. I put a minuscule amount of the strawberry cream powder into into my post-swim shake and was rewarded with a pink-hued liquid which was actually quite tasty! When it comes to food, flavour isn’t particularly important to me, so I suspect that I could get away without adding flavouring to my shakes but it’s good to have the option if need be.

Post and packing was a pain to the wallet at £10.99, but the saving far out-weighed this cost and is unfortunately unavoidable when buying online and my only gripe with the company is that they have been out of stock of fish oil capsules for the past while. I’m pleased with the purchase and I suspect I’ll be ordering from again!