Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Free 'Phone

Visiting a friend in Switzerland (let's not talk about the fun I had getting there - at least, not yet!), he sold me on using Skype - aka VoIP.
Upon my return, I signed up at the Skype website
It's brilliant! Even though the website suggests a minimum of W2K or XP (it does run on Mac's and Linux machines as well), it runs well enough on my W98 system.
Sound quality is good and, if you have broadband connection, calls to other Skype users are free! The rates to non-Skype users are highly competitive too.
I know, this is starting to sound like a plug - but I can't (at the moment) recommend it highly enough...

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Wednesday, August 04, 2004


It's been an interesting couple of weeks, it has to be said. (well, it doesn't have to be said, but if I didn't say it, I'd have nothing to put in my blog!)

First, the living room radiator sprung a leak. Thsi is the second radiator to go in the living room in about 6 years - luckily I have no carpet on the floor, or I probably wouldn't have noticed it as quickly as I did (I got up from an evening of TV zombiedom and noticed a puddle. As I am house trained, and I wasn't doggysitting at the time, it was either a leak from upstairs or a leak from the radiator. Gee Whiz Sherlock!)

A little praise for British Gas, who service my central heating. I noticed the leak at around half past midnight. I mopped up what I could, shut off the radiator and put a bown under the leak (once I had found it) this took about 15 minutes, so it was 00:45 or so when I called the emergency hotline. It was answered within a couple of rings, the chap who answered was helpful and polite, and arranged for another chap to come and have a look the next day. You're expecting me to say I had to wait in all day for the service chap, but I didn't - he was there at 9am and arranged for a replacement to be delivered and installed the following week (last Friday, in fact) The only thing left is the old radiator, which someone is apparently going to collect from the front of the house...

The weeknd after the leak, I visited a friend in Sandy, and was given the 2 most recent paperbacks by Alexander McCall Smith (The Kalahari Typing School for Men and The Full Cupboard of Life - both in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series) which was unexpected! Both great reads, gentle humour, and if you haven't already read the first three volumes, I'd recommend that you do so.
I get back from Sandy and find yet more books - another friend had sent me some stuff hje thought I'd enjoy (so far, he's right!)

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Jennings' End

Jennings was, as usual, not entirely concentrating on what Mr Wilkins was saying, and so it came as no surprise to anyone that when, as might have been predicted in advance, the teacher asked a question, Jennings didn't have a clue.
Mr Wilkins had built up quite a head of steam, and was about to let rip (the "I - I - I - Corwumph" was on his lips) when the classroom door opened, and in walked the Headmaster. "I have an announcement to make" he said, in solemn tones. "Mr Buckeridge, who did so much to bring this school to it's current prominence, has sadly passed away. Linbury Court will, therefore, be closing it's doors for the last time, and all pupils will be sent home."
A thoroughly deflated Mr Wilkins dismissed the class. As he passed into the corridor, Jennings asked his friend Darbishire, "Well, what happens now? Mr Buckeridge was the only thing that kept this school going."
"We'll be sent to another school, I suppose" replied Darbishire. "As my father sometimes says..."
Jennings didn't bother listening to what the Reverend Darbishire sometimes said; it wasn't important. What was important was that there was to be no more Linbury Court.
"Goodbye, Mr Buckeridge" he thought, "and thanks."

Anthony Buckeridge 1912-2004 RIP

Monday, June 28, 2004

Radio Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

Now I have broadband up and running (a doddle!) I can now listen properly to BBC7.
BBC7 is one of the new 'digital' stations operated by the BBC, and is available on DAB, Freeview and via the internet.
streaming audio is available on the websites for each of the different 'Digital' stations, but on a dial-up connection, this isn't really practical (the streaming is via RealMedia and it keeps buffering the stream, leading to silence!)
The big advantage on the BBC 7 website is the "Listen Again" feature - there is a page devoted to an entire day's schedule, and you can listen whenever you like up to 6 days after original broadcast - if you have a fast internet connection, this works rather well, and the sound quality is pretty good (at least, it is through my PC speakers!)
Most of the other digital BBC stations are devoted to music, but BBC7 is the 'Archive' station, and is full to the brim with old BBC drama, comedy and book readings - the rule being, as long as it has been repeated on the analogue station of origin, or was last broadcast more than three years ago, it can appear on BBC7 (subject to the usual licensing issues)
For an old-fashioned spoken word radio fan such as myself, the station is a godsend - Round The Horne, The Goons, Hancock, The Masterson Inheritance, I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again, Sherlock Holmes, Discworld adaptations, all are (or have been, or will be!) broadcast on BBC7. (No news breaks or advertising either, though there are sometimes some lengthy 'trails' for other BBC7 programmes)
If you have digital, check it out; if you have broadband, try out the BBC7 website

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Sticking a thumb out again

Yes! At Last! At the end of last year (2003) news circulated about a new "Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy" radio series that had been created by Dirk Maggs, and based on the third of the Douglas Adams books, "Life, The Universe and Everything" - there was even a suggested broadcast date of February 2004. Then, all went quiet. (Apparently there were licensing issues, presumably something to do with the film version that made bigger headlines at the time!)
Well, now there is good news - the BBC has announced on their website (and via newspaper items this morning) that the "Third Phase" will be broadcast in six parts from Tuesday 21st September 2004 at 6:30pm (UK time)- more details at The Official BBC Radio 4 Hitch Hiker announcement page
Including a 4.5 minute 'trailer' (sounds good!) and a video - which I cannot watch yet, but will do so on Friday when the broadband will hopefully be up and running!

Make sure you know where your towel is.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Things are probably getting faster

Well, I finally bit the bullet and signed up for broadband (DSL) internet access; assuming nothing goes wrong, and that it is as easy to set up as BT claims, I should be experiencing the wonders of fast internet access next weekend.
The main reason I held off for so long was the price; it's still quite pricey even now (BT Broadband, without email or webspace, it £27 per month) but the Surftime dial-up I'm using at present has been getting slower and slower, and the broadband option is only about £13 more a month.
Note the 'about' in that last sentence - I had to do a lot of digging to get to that figure; nowhere on the BT site could I find what would have been of most use to me, a price comparison table (surely they can do one? They know how much they charge for Surftime, and they must still have links to the BT Yahoo side of things to get their monthly subscription costs!)
At least I don't have to pay extra for connection or the modem - and I should, apparently, also get a voucher for a free flight to Europe or the USA! I could do with a holiday.
Anyway, here's to fast surfing (though, knowing my luck, the minute I connect up, someone will drop the price for newbies...)

Friday, June 04, 2004

Gardening Left

I'm not a happy, green fingered son of the soil. I know what a plant is and I vaguely remember something about osmisis and photosynthesis from school, but that's it. My sister is the gardener, and she occasionally comes over to prune/hack etc.
She did so last weekend. 13 sacks of garden 'waste' later, and I have something that is a lot less like a jungle - at the house end, that is. The shed end is still a bit wild, and will need to be tackeled at some point.
The thing is, when househunting all those years ago (I bought at the top of the LAST property boom...) the ONE thing I insisted on was a decentlt sized garden; this one is about 60' long, and (for an ex-council house) is huge!

The point of this entry? None at all. I just wanted to put down something about the garden. And to mention that, as a result of the hard work put in by my sister, I can now see all sorts of insects and animals I wouldn't have noticed before - such as the damsel flies, the frogs and (I think) toads, the woodlice (I like the look of woodlice!) and the orangy-brown slug with the forked 'tail'.
Au Res.,

Monday, May 24, 2004

Richard Biggs - a nice bloke

I heard at the weekend that Richard Biggs, probably best known for his performances in "Babylon 5" as "Dr. Franklin" passed away at the age of 43.
I only met him at conventions, so cannot in any way claim to have known him well, but from what I saw of him suggested that he was, indeed, 'a nice bloke'.
Not that anyone from his family or friends will probably read this, but I offer my deepest sympathies to them for their loss.
Apparently, some of his friends and former colleagues are working on something to help his family - as and when details of this are available, I'll post them here.
In the meantime, there is a tribute page on the The Gallactic Gateway
Au Res.,

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Oh No, Not Another Blog...

Given that practically everyone with internet access has probably got a blog of some sort somewhere, I don't suppose my setting up a new one will be of interest to anyone at all - but here it is anyway.

I'll post whenever something I consider interesting happens - I'm not political (that is to say, I have a slight interest in politics, but not enough to pass on my opinions to the waiting world!) and more often than not I'll be moaning about postal deliveries, or bad behaviour or TV, but as there probably won't be anyone reading anyway, it doesn't really matter!

Just in case you HAVE stumbled on this blog before I've had time to post anything else, here is a brief run down on the stuff I'll probably cover - Books (anything from E.F.Benson, Bill Bryson and Agatha Christie to Terry Pratchett, Tom Holt, P.G.Wodehouse - I like books and have rather a lot of them still waiting to be read...), Humour, music (which is varied), the Royal Mail (currently going through 'Interesting Times'!) and anything else that catches my eye.
Au Res.,