Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Projects v 1.5

The netbook project is more-or-less done; I've upgraded the memory, battery and OS (It's now running Windows 7 Home Premium, which is a little more flexible than the previously installed Starter version). It also has OpenOffice and Adobe Photoshop CS2 (which Adobe were offering free!)

The bag project is taking a little longer, but that's fine - I don't want to rush it.  I've sewn a neoprene liner onto the Moquette, added the sides (also neoprene, from a bunch of tablet sleeves found in a local Pound store (everything priced at £1 or less!), and added one half of the magnetic clasp (the other half will be on the flap cover, which I'm working on now).  I'm still dithering about adding a strap to the thing; the sides are made of two pieces of neoprene stitched to the rest of the bag body, with the top open - originally, I though this would make a couple of useful side pockets, but now I'm wondering if I should get some strap webbing and glue/sew it into the pockets to make a shoulder strap...

In other news, I'm now on ello (@paulbines), having been invited by a friend.  Not sure what to make of it yet - it's only my first day on there.

I'm also working on my next trip - Memorabilia in November.  It's a huge collectors show, held at the Birmingham NEC, and it's usually a great opportunity to meet up with a lot of friends in the Non-Sport trading card community (including Harris Toser from Non-Sport Update magazine!)  A group of us are staying in Solihull for the weekend - watch out Solihull - a big bunch of geeks are heading your way!

Friday, September 19, 2014


I have been known to distract myself with projects.  Sometimes, (most often) they involve some form of technology; at other times, craft.
Well, now I have two linked projects that involve both.  A while ago, I received a 10.1" Netbook from my sister, who hadn't used it in three years and no longer needed it.  I'm a sucker for old computers, and I love taking them apart and rebuilding them.  Not much taking apart and rebuilding on the Netbook, mind you - I've taken apart larger laptops than this and they have always been deucedly fiddly to put back together.
This one, an Acer eMachines eM350, is a decent enough spec - Intel Atom N450, 1Gb RAM, 250Gb HD, Windows 7 Starter.  However, I can't leave it at that!  I've already replaced the 3 cell LiIon battery (the one it came with is dead - not entirely surprising, given that the last time it was used was 3 years ago!) with a 6 cell one, which should mean a longer use time once fully charged.  Next, I have to get around the Windows 7 User Password (which no-one can remember - I'm working on that, just as soon as the replacement power unit and cable arrive)  Afterwards, bump up the RAM to 2Gb (reasonably priced on Amazon and other websites), and see if Win7 Starter can be upgraded to something a little more flexible (No, not Win8!)  Trickier than you might think, given there is no Disc Drive (Though not impossible - I DO have an external DVD drive...)  Once all that is done, I should have a nice, extremely portable, laptop.
Portable brings me to the other, more crafty, project. A Laptop case.  Yes, I know you can buy them, but I have reasons for wanting to make one of my own.
When I was at the London Transport Museum Depot Open Weekend at Acton last week, I saw this Tube train car, with seating I vividly remember from when I worked and travelled in London in the 80's and 90's
 One of the stalls at the Depot was selling offcuts of the original material for £5 each - remnants of stuff used in the train cars - so I bought a piece:
The material is called "District" and was designed by Sir Micha Black in 1978. It's made of Moquette - a wool/polyester (mostly wool) mix that is particularly hardwearing, consisting of very short 'tufts'; if you ever travelled by Bus or Tube in the 1980's, you'd know this stuff!

It was only when I got it home that I realised it was almost the right size to cover a Netbook (It's slightly too narrow to sew together and then fit the Netbook, so I will have to sew something into the moquette, using it is the decorative outside.  Not worked out the finer details yet - I'll probably try to get a couple of cheap neoprene sleeves of the right size, stitch them together inside the Moquette, add some edging to the Moquette to prevent fraying, and some sort of clip or Velcro attachment for the flap.
Whatever I decide to do, it will still be a lot cheaper than the District Moquette Laptop Bag on the LT Museum website shop (£79, if you can't get the link to work!)

I'll update the blog when (if) I finish the bag.
In the meantime, here is a picture of a fridge magnet I made out of one of my other Acton Depot purchases - an enamelled London Transport "Fire Door" sign (£3 plus £1 for the self-adhesive magnetic strips!):

Friday, September 12, 2014

Hello again...

I honestly have no idea if anyone ever read this blog, (or, indeed, if they ever will again) but as I just remembered I had it, and as it has been over three years since I last posted on it, here goes...

Stuff has happened.  I went to the Philly Non-Sport Trading Card Show for the first time in 2011, thanks to a lot of very generous UK CardCast  podcast listeners; attended both the Olympics and Paralympics in 2012, had my picture taken with Austin Tichenor of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, returned to Vegas in 2013, got a much better digital camera and have continued to be able to pay the mortgage and hopefully will continue to do so until it is paid off in the middle of next year (2015) at which point, I hope to make a return visit to the aforementioned Philly show!

With the new camera, I have been taking a lot of pictures of interesting things seen above the ground floor - mostly in London, though there are pictures from other places.  I might repost some of them here.

The podcast, UK CardCast, continues - 2014 saw the 60th episode and I'm planning on keeping it going so I can cover Philly in person.

Now I've remembered this is here, I'm looking to update it more often.  Let's see if that happens, shall we?