Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Back after the break!

For some reason, I keep forgetting that I have a blog (or, to be accurate, several blogs). Most of my updates tend to go on Facebook.
I will try to change this, though it won't be easy - I have Facebook on all my devices, and posting to it is as simple as tapping an icon; updating my blog means logging onto Blogger and typing something (hopefully) interesting.  I'll try.  Especially as I have some interesting travel plans upcoming.

Anyway, what has happened in the couple of years since I last posted?  Well, I paid off my mortgage, so (officially) I am a house owner.  Took 25 years, and there were a few occasions when I thought I might not manage it, but here I am, not having moved house or mortgage provider, and the money was paid.

I've been travelling - Amsterdam and Ireland were my last trips, and my next one involves the Mid-West of America.  The Ireland trip was the second one I did last year - the first involved a certain amount of drinking in Wexford as a bunch of fellow pupils celebrated their collective 50th birthdays.  I got to stay in a really nice hotel, and saw the inside of more Irish pubs than usual.

My trading card podcast, UK CardCast, is on a break whilst I work on getting interviews for a new podcast project, Talking About; however, UKCC is coming back this month and there will be several episodes in the coming months spinning out of the US trip (which will, I hope, also fuel the new show!)

I've been getting more into taking pictures. I'm still using my Panasonic Lumix TS40 compact camera, because it does the job for me and is a lot more portable than a DSLR etc.

Still working - I actually got a 5 year service badge from my employer earlier this year - first time I've ever had anything to mark a period of service, so that's nice!

The tech gadgets have moved on apace - I now have an iPhone 5 (second hand from a friend), a 10" Android tablet (that was cheap in a local supermarket, and which I got cheaper because of things!) and,(most recently) an iPad Mini 4, which I'm pretending I'll use for editing podcast interviews in GarageBand, but which I'm mainly using for games and Facebook updates (though I have been using some of the Apple productivity software and it IS rather nice!)

Can#t think of anything else at the moment, so I'll close, but I really do plan on posting on a more regular basis from now on (not that anyone actually reads this!)  The next few posts will almost certainly be American themed...

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?

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Hello again, hello.

Happy New Year to anyone that actually reads this!  MY 2010 has started off well so far - it looks like my temporary job is going to be permanent (which is good for the mortgage); I've ordered a new TV (yes, I've finally entered the modern age of HD TV!) and I have three podcasts ticking over nicely.

I haven't thought about the garden yet - too cold, wet and dark at the moment.  I will be planting again this year, but I'm not sure what - the only thing I know is that I will definately be converting much of the lawn into veg (probably potatoes) and I won't be bothering with the maize I tried out last year.

Anyway, I hope that anyone who actually bothers to check in here from time to time has an excellent 2011, and I hope to be posting more regularly this year (though given my past record on this...)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Back in Business

I went through a bit of a bad patch in September/October; one that I'm coming through now.
The compand for which I had worked since 2000 went into insolvency at extremely short notice - in fact, I arrived at work after a dentist appointment one Monday morning and half an hour later was out of work (along with everyone else in the company)
Everything went on hold (apart, that is, from the new glasses which I had ordered whilst still employed and which I badly needed - luckily I had set aside the cost of the glasses and I qualified for all the various NHS vouchers so the costs were covered!) and for a while I did think I would not be able to do any more podcasts or work on other projecte.
Luckily, I was only out of work for a few weeks - I do now have another job that, I hope, will become something permanent.

In the meantime, I produced a 'book' - really a booklet, containing a couple of rarely seen out-of-copyright E.F.Benson short stories plus one of my own (a pastiche or piece of fan fiction set in the world of Mapp & Lucia) and it is currently available for sale at my E.F.Benson website online store
(or directly from my Cafe Press store HERE)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Fame at last! (well, sort of...)

I've been a fan of the Reduced Shakespeare Company since I saw a production of "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)" at the Criterion Theatre, Piccadilly, London some several years ago; I have the audio recordings, I have a DVD of "The Complete History of America (abridged)" and I hold out the hope that I might get to see one of their other productions one day, in some form or other.  In the meantime, I listen to their weekly podcast, which is entertaining, informative and, above all, short.  Ish.

Today, I downloaded the latest episode (189 to be precise) and listened to it on my way home from work - it's about the right length for the cycle ride home and as Austin Tichenor was doing the traditional closing bit, I got to my front door.  And then I heard my name.

The podcast always features what the RSC calls "A Random Shout Out"; as Tichenor always states, "No reason, it's just random".  The shout out is usually of someone who has signed up to the RSC newsletter, or joined their website forum, which I did some time ago.  I never actually expected to hear my name on the podcast though, and it felt good - especialyl as Mr Tichenor actually used the correct pronounciation (you would be surprised at how many variations people find to pronounce my name - I used to get quite shirty about it; in case anyone wants to know, it rhymes with "Lines" or "Vines" and not "Bins" or Tins"
Thank you to the RSC and to Mr Tichenor, for bringing a little light into my day!  (It doesn't take much!)

Moving on, I have now harvested a second batch of spuds from the garden, and I'm having some of them for my dinner tonight...