Where's my genie then?

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Water water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.

Finally my internet woes have been solved. In the comfort of my own rented accommodation I can browse the web with nearly no hinderance. Our PIPEX ADSL connection has been finalised so we have a very ample 1Mbps connection to the life blood of this technological world. And to add to that we're also using a nice wireless ADSL modem/router which marries very nicely with Paul's laptop and it's inbuilt wireless network card. I felt all giddy getting the modem out of the box and setting it up to connect even though the dsl wasn't ready at that point. We settled on the Netgear DG834G (Paul may berrate me for telling you the make and model for security reasons since it's part of his new job, but I don't think there's any malicious hackers out there right? I think you'll have a hard time finding my IP address too), almost exactly the same as I have back in Australia. There is a subtle difference, this one has been dubbed version 2. A more obvious difference is also apparent as this "v2" is white and quite a bit smaller than its silver counterpart. Funtionally it is the same, but I think it has slightly updated hardware and can be firmware upgraded to support up to 24Mbps DSL connections. It's working very well and WPA was a breeze to set up. If anyone out there is using wireless networking, I strongly recommend using WPA encryption/authentication over WEP. WEP has been proven to be hackable by a 3 year old. Well, not quite proven, but I did hear stories. At any rate, WPA-PSK should be widely usable and with a long passphrase (over 40 characters, remember to mix in numbers and symbols) it is very hard to break. Computationally sound. Enough technical rambling.

It was an anxious wait for the next two days as I hopefully tried to see if we had line sync (meaning the telephone exchange had activated the dsl transfers and we only needed an account with an ISP). Today I opened the letterbox as Paul and I came home from a Christmas meal with Mark and Lara to find our 3 free line filters (which we didn't need, but they were free) and the all important account information. Now that we're all set as far as the internet goes, I'm sitting here without a water supply. This shocking revelation came to me when Paul said "Joe, we've got no water". While I did believe him, it's a strange compulsion that I think everyone has to actually try it out yourself. So I did that and waited for the implications to sink in. Strangely I thought, "this gives me a chance to try the showers at work." Now about this time we started thinking why the water was cut off. The real estate agent said they would arrange notifying utility companies that we're the new tenants and get the bills all set up. We hadn't received any new bills except from BT, but that was due to our own labours which I'm sure I've written about enough already. Now I can only hope that the 4 workers standing around the front of the house have something to do with our loss of water and even more so that it is only temporary. If repairs needed to be done, I guess midnight would be a safe time to shut off the water as everyone's asleep right? Not quite, but I won't hold it against them. In any event, for me tomorrow will be contain a series of no doubt entertaining phone calls to utility companies explaining how I need to have a new account, I don't know the current suppliers and trying to explain how our address doesn't really exist. I swear our landlord just made it up and no one else knows it exists. I need my rest now, good night all and to all a good night

For those who won't read this again until after christmas, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Final Fantasy

Just saw this trailer (got it from Redemption in a Blog), looks really good. One of my favourite Final Fantasy's was number VII, but I got on the Square-Enix bandwagon rather late and I think that was the first of the series I played. Sure getting all the Materia was a bitch (never did master Knights of the Round, but at least got it) and the Summon's animations were long (not compared to MGS cut scenes and I won't even talk about the codec conversations) but it was a great RPG. I know I fought Sepiroth in his true form at the end (he has this "world's end" attack or something which has an animation of a Super Nova's wake riping through the universe, destroying planets, then it hits your characters and does about 100 points of damage. Rather piss weak but I guess it lost all it's steam from travelling several light years. The animation seems to be real-time too because I watched it for ages) but I can't quite remember if I beat him. I wanted to beat Ruby Weapon and Emerald Weapon and was gathering and mastering the materia to fight them, but never found the time to do it. And I'm sure I beat Omega Weapon. The Final Fantasy games are a real time sink, like Civilization (I just started playing Civ 3 and now there's gaps of several hours which I don't recall but I later realise were spent playing it) and I daren't play them anymore even though FFX looked super cool (that one's really bad because it has multiple versions of the same game (FFX:Yuna) so it'll triple the play time. I'm almost 100% sure I'll get World of Warcraft and stop playing Diablo II (which I've been playing since it came out, but had to keep starting from the beginning. Only now I've got some characters that can survive the hardest difficulty) but I have reservations about how much time I'll waste on that. I'll just claim that it's better than watching TV.

Also on that blog is Homer using a tabbed browser. I vote that it's Mozilla. Yah for the Simpsons, even if they have lost a lot of quality. They should make more Futurama episodes, they're fantastic!

And lastly, for anyone who's interested, I've started doing some Nonograms, also called Griddlers. I've registered on the latter site which lets me do all of their griddlers, triddlers and multi-griddlers. I was actually looking for those logic puzzles that read like "Five brothers live on the same street in different coloured adjacent houses. Each has a different pet and different beverages. John lives in a red house. Tim doesn't like birds. etc. etc." but these are almost the same. The end result is some kind of picture but there's some logical deductions in it which is what I was really after. I encourage anyone to have a go, it's kinda fun (in a Minesweeper sort of way, which is a great game by the way)

It only hurts when I laugh

Or try to walk, sit down, stand up ... anything involving moving really

Actually it's not that bad today, but yesterday was rather painful. All self induced unfortunately, but they're only muscle aches. You see on Monday Paul and I actually made it to a volleyball training with Polonia. We also watched them play the London Docklands team on Sunday so we could gauge their skill level. I'd put them at around our state league level, probably not as good as the AVL but not by much. That means that even if they didn't have 14 people on the team, I still wouldn't be playing with them. Not that I mind, I really want to train more than play for now and actually getting to the training session proved that. I've been sedantry for far too long, Paul figured that it'd be about 4 months since we last played serious volleyball. And apart from the occasional jog we've been on and the incidental exercise that comes from not having a car we haven't been exercising at all. From that we jumped into an "easy" training for the end of the year. It was a rude shock to both of our bodies, but we made it through and got a little praise as well. We haven't lost all of our skills but we're far from our prime too. My hope for the next few months is to improve on my consistency at the basic skills while working on fitness outside of volleyball with running and kettlebells(!)

So after all the limping yesterday I'm very close to having all my banking set up. Just phone banking and internet banking to go and I should be getting my details for that soon. Since I'm using a Lloyds World Wide Services account, I should be able to move money back into an Australian account fairly easily. At the moment I'm trying to organise my finances for a ski trip, yah I'm going skiing! At least if I don't have to "bail" (as the cool kids say) on the trip due to being skint. Just now I'm thinking I'll be ok, but I've misjudged how much I'd be taxed since I'm used to employer superannuation contributions instead of National insurance being taxed from your wages. Really I should be thinking about it as a Total Annual Package, but I liked the deluded life. I'm really quite excited about the ski trip and I hope I don't have to cancel. I've decided I'll go snowboarding so I can get to use all my M4d Skillz that I got from playing SSX (new version is coming out for PS2,XBox and Gamecube also on GBA and N-Gage. PSP is strangely missing out of that list, speaking of which it looks really good, I may have to get one, PlayAsia sells them or maybe just takes pre-orders). But seriously, I'm thinking of going to an artificial slope around here and take one of their "Learn to Snowboard in a Day" courses. Should be really fun and I like to think that learning to snowboard will be eaiser than skiing. If Nick Lachey can do it (Jessica Simpson's husband), then it must be pretty easy to pick up.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Ring, Ring, Why don't you give me a call?


Finally getting another post up, but this one is different, very different. You see, I'm writing this from the comfort of my own home :). Yes the BT man has left no more than 30 minutes ago after setting up our new line. It should have been as simple as telling BT we're the new residents, but since our flat was newly renovated and turned into 2 flats (it was a 2 storey house before) we got the short end of the stick and needed a new phone connection. All the wiring was there so it was an easy job for the BT guy, he even suggested we may not have to pay the exorbitant fee of £75. So as the final check I've connected to the internet to do some leisurely browsing. Ahhhh, that's better.

Paul and I were worried that we'd have to wait a long time before getting a phone line here, in fact we had our initial booking with BT for the 10th Dec. Since my work is a little less particular about when I arrive in the mornings, I was going to hang around to let the technician work. Then I found out that work was having a Christmas "party" on the same day. Not actually a party (hence the quotes), more like one of those corporate team building exercise things. We're told that we're not going there for team building but it will be a good chance for all the old employees to meet the new employees since the company has doubled in size in a few months. It sounds pretty good actually, we get to drive dune buggies, do clay pigeon shooting (with laser sights, not real ammo, the whole company was upset) and blow up a bomb. The point is that I wouldn't be able to stay at the house and neither could Paul so I had to change the appointment. I phoned BT about midday to do that and was told the next available appointment was on the 14th! Groan. I said I'd phone back, emailed Paul to see if he could make it instead, which he couldn't, so called BT again later in the afternoon. To my surprise Saturday had just become available (I was calling on Friday, how's that for last minute) and that just about takes us to now, with me using the dial-up plan we got when we were staying with Mark.

So with the phone line installed almost all of the problems with the flat have been ironed out. There has been a bit of a problem with getting it all working, we really would have liked it to be all fine before we moved in, and it has been nearly a month since we told the agent (who do say they're not managing the property so they don't really have much to do with it. They probably should have checked some of this before accepting to put it on the market though) and the landlord. Given that amount of time, I suppose the landlord should have been able to get it all fixed and I can see that it's really stressing Paul out. There's some reason to be upset about it but I don't think it's a big deal and that aggravates Paul as well I think. I'm probably too passive about the whole thing but I really don't mind it taking a little bit longer. Nothing was essential, just convienences so I don't want to cause myself unnecessary stress.

I wanted to see some local Volleyball and maybe even practice with a team around Ealing, so I looked up London Volleyball and found a nearby team, Polonia!. Last Monday I convinced Paul to walk down to where we thought they were training to see how good they were. It was a fruitless endeavour, if we did go to the right school either we could not find the gym or they chose not to train that night. Chances are we were at the totally wrong place. Games should be played on the weekend so maybe we (or just me) will try again. I'm still trying to do running regularly with the program that Paul found, some "Couch to 3km run in 2 months" but it shows me how much work I really need to do.

Got to cut this one short, we're out shopping, probably to get a new cordless phone. ADSL will come very soon, I'll make sure of that.