Monday, February 26, 2007

Huzzah! :D

Back in early January, the Microsoft UK Developer Launch Event of Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007 occurred. This was a few weeks ahead of the "public" launch.

I had been pondering for some time leading up to the launch about what to do regarding purchasing these products. There are some very nifty-looking new features in both - Office especially interests me. Basically, Microsoft has been adding features in to Word for years and years, but they've stuck with the same menus & toolbars for probably about 15 years now, too.
When they put out surveys to find out what features people want in Microsoft Office 2007, you know what they found out? The most asked-for features were already in there, but people didn't know it!

So, Microsoft have concentrated this release of Office not on adding features or improving existing ones, so much as actually making all of the existing features easier to find and use.

I thought this looked pretty interesting, and wondered at the best way to (legally ;) ) obtain the software. I was once an "MSDN" subscriber, which is where Microsoft send you all their new software for a year... But that costs around £1800, and I didn't really want to spend that much money on it.

Something caught my eye in the e-mails about the UK Developer Launch Event though... An online competition would be held to win free copies of Windows and Office. Hello! ;)

So, come the day, the competition was to answer some questions, and the first 1000 people would win copies of Windows and Office (there were two competitions, and you could enter either or both).

The questions weren't technical about the products, and instead were questions about the "Keynote Speeches" on the day of the launch. The meant watching the online webcasts of however many hours of speeches there were in order to find out the answers.

Or, a sneaky person might just download the PowerPoint presentations and get the answers from those instead. [He says, attempting to look innocent]

Well, somehow, I did manage to watch all those hours of webcasts and get my answers in within about 20minutes of the competition opening. (Ok, ok, I admit it, I looked at the PowerPoint presentations ;) )
I'm not sure how many other people did that, given it was a "first 1000 correct entries win", and the competition ran for 30 days. I wonder what the numbers are :)

Dear Monkfish


We're very pleased to tell you that you were one of the first 1000 people to qualify for a free copy of Windows Vista Ultimate by taking part in our UK Developer Launch event online.

Dear Monkfish


We're very pleased to tell you that you were one of the first 1000 people to qualify for a free copy of Microsoft Office 2007 Professional by taking part in our UK Developer Launch event online.

Huzzah! :)

According to, that's £693.98 worth of software :D

Which was nice. ;)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

My Hands Are Numb

But I got some cool pics this morning :) (IMO :-P )

Woke up a couple of times in the night, the last time at 6am (and hey, it was still dark outside, so that's night). Decided to go for a walk.

All taken on my phone I'm afraid, as I don't have a proper camera at the moment.

Will post some pics up now, try to do more later :) The images and titles are not intentionally suggestive of anything btw, just what I felt the picture made me think of - I didn't take the pictures to assign those names specifically, or anything. (Thought I'd point that out in case anyone wondered ;) )

Now... I think I might go back to bed for a bit ;)
(Some fifteen hours later...) Ok, all of them posted now :)

I wouldn't usually think to go for a walk at that sort of time. But I figured... Not like I need to worry if I haven't shaved or my hair's in a bit of a state... Not many people about ;) And I'd already woken up once or twice and felt tired but not sleepy... Looking outside, I thought... It'll be light soon. Will be cool to go see it outside before it gets light ;) I'm up at that sort of time so very very rarely ;)

My shoes came back muddy though ;)

Never Forget Where You Came From

Someone's Whole World

(Yes, I do believe it is an egg ;) )
('Ee, look at me, giving B&W a try, how arty ;) )

Last One In's An Ugly Duckling!

(Dianne, you may also spot your "Lady in Red" in this one ;) )




Thursday, February 22, 2007

On This Day...

This time last year, I made this post:
The question I cannot answer:

Does it feel wrong because I am unable to commit, or am I unable to commit because it feels wrong?

It was my third blog post. Significantly though, it became my first post to receive a comment! Gosh, how EXCITING! :)

Thank you, Dianne :)

All of a sudden, I wasn't just randomly airing my thoughts, I knew I was talking *to* someone. It's too early to tell even now, but I do wonder if that chance online 'encounter' may have spun my life off in a different direction.

As for my wife and I, it is our first anniversary nine days from now.

I'm not sure I have any particular thoughts on that at this time.

As for my original question that I was unable to answer a year ago? Well, I was going to chicken out from answering it now too, but thinking on it, I don't need to.

It did feel wrong, and that was why I felt I did not want to commit (further) to it, not because.

The question I need to answer now is whether I feel there is any hope left that it may ever feel "not wrong".
Looking over the evidence of the past years, I must admit it does not seem likely, but I am not yet at a stage whereby I am able to answer this question yet.

When I last spoke to Mrs M I told her this.

She asked, "And if I said now *I* want it to be over, how would you feel?"

"Surprised," I said. I said didn't really feel anything else.

"No relief? Or disappointment?"

"No, not really. Just surprise."

"Well... there's still hope then," she said.

Hmm. :)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A Blow-By-Blow Account

08:39 - And so it begins. (A Kosh impression there ;) ). Ok, my alarm goes off really quite some time before this - in fact, this is the time I should be LEAVING the house. But I didn't sleep well last night, so getting up was a struggle ;) That's right... It was about this time I finally made it out of bed. Hey, and within 30mins I was dressed, shaved, and at work. Not BAD going, even if I was still 10mins late ;)
12:30 - I buy a sausage & BBQ sauce bagutte from the sandwich van, thinking I don't want to faff around making my own sandwich this lunchtime. I don't often buy a sandwich or anything from the van, but I have to say, there's one thing that always strikes me about the current girl that drives the van. When she's serving anyone, she always smiles. And not a "I don't want to be here but I've been told to smile so I'm going to smile" smile, but she actually manages to look happy! For what must be a fairly dull job (especially by this end of the round, where she gets on average 0-2 people come buy something), I think that's pretty impressive :)
12:55 - I head back home, as I've been told my slot is 13:00-15:00 (it takes 10-15mins to get home, but they aren't actually going to arrive at 13:00, of course ;) ). "What's that?" I hear asked, "What slot's that then?"
13:40 - It has arrived!

13:50 - I have half my baguette, some crisps, a drink, and head back to work.
17:39 - Left work. Remarkably early for me ;)
19:01 - I begin the "deboxing" process.
19:15 - I get a drink
19:20 - The "deboxing" process has been completed! I come on to blog my horrendously exciting blow-by-blow account, and grab the other half of my bagutte from lunch out the fridge :)

20:00 - I head back again, having spent too long playing about on my computer ;)

20:15 - Have completed a quick vacuum to get all the bits up of the packaging off the floor, before there's a big thing in the way ;) I begin reading the instructions.

Oh boy, am I ever pleased I don't have a "Thi Bed", or I'd need two people "yo" assemble it!
Seriously, this is POOR. How companies can produce literature of this standard, I do not know. It really should not be acceptable. This isn't even a simple line in the middle of a paragraph that we're talking about here. This is an underlined warning in capitals. How did nobody spot that!?
Also, there is only one of me ;)
*sigh* back I go :)

01:00 - Oops! I almost forgot to come update this! :) lol :) Best add the rest of it back in... :)

20:50 - It had all four sides and stood on its own :) I swore a bit more at the instructions for continuing to be bollocks ;) (I knew what they meant, but it's the principal! :) )

22:00 - Had added the support bar down the middle and laid the slats on top. Was wondering what the two things left over were which weren't mentioned in the instructions. Realised eventually they were feet that were supposed to be attached to the support bar. Thanks for that! Piss poor instructions! [roll eyes] Seriously, I thought at the start "I'll make sure to follow the instructions or I'll end up doing something stupid!" - that was my biggest mistake ;)

22:30 - Had attached the feet to the support bar (which meant faffing around raising the bed [it was either that or disassemble half of it again] so I could screw them in) and screwed slats in place. Between 9pm and 10pm, I had also spent some time checking for screw holes for the slats (there was material over the wood, I thought that there may have been holes under the material - eventually decided - nope, just screw 'em!)

23:00 - Finished! Had to faff around trying to work out how to get my mattress from behind the bed (it arrived last week, so I have been on a proper mattress for the last week) and into it ;) Oh, I did have a few random breaks throughout the evening as well, so it's not all been a constant struggle :) (Was actually pretty easy overall - easiesr than I had been expecting - thought it was more work last time, but that was a good few years ago :) )

Anyway, all that time invested, and here's what I came out with! :)

Wait, no, now, that's not right, is it ;)

Let me try again...

Vrooom vrooom vrooooom! :)

Oh, ok... Anyone who actually believed that for a minute... Go and stand in the corner of the room and try to look ashamed of yourself.

Oi! I can hear you snickering! Bloody cheek. :)

Honestly. Some people ;)

There we go :)

01:30 - I'm off to bed! :) (Well... I think... I haven't actually laid on it yet... ;) )

Monday, February 19, 2007

Lightbulb Moments

I actually wrote this post about three-four weeks ago. I got slightly distracted though and forgot to post it. I think I was planning on reviewing/proofing it but got side-tracked, and then with other things happening etc. I sort of forgot about it a bit ;)

Sorry I seem to have gone a bit quiet recently. Not sure why exactly :) As usual, I've still been reading other blogs even if I've not necessarily got around to commenting as much recently (e.g. Some of Northern Monkey's recent ones about her handbag and Valentine's Day made me laugh :) ).

Anyway, here it is :)

I came home one evening earlier this week and turned on the light in the hall. I walked through to the living room, turned on the light there, only for the lights in both the hall and the living room to turn off. After a moment's confusion ("Why is it so dark? Did I forget to turn on the lights in the hall?"), I realised that neither the hall light nor the living room light worked. Further investigation revealed that the bedroom lights also did not work, however the kitchen and bathroom lights did. I guessed something had tripped the main fuse, reset it, and found one bulb in the living room had gone.

Later that same evening, the bulb in the bedroom also blew.

But that's not what this post is about. This is the yang to my earlier ying, the flip side of the coin, the counterweight.

Friday last week was one of those really shit days where it seems like everything that can go wrong, does go wrong. I was tired and exhausted, I felt crappy (I didn't even have a beer with me lunch ;) ), pissed off at myself by the fact that I hadn't been doing nearly enough work in weeks if not months (even considering the current circumstances), irritated that I had started 'losing' my evenings at home (things were untidy and/or messy at home), stressed at needing to arrange a meeting with a client to demonstrate what I'd been working on for weeks (and it should have been at least demonstrable weeks ago)... And then on top of that, due to a bizarre computer error in combination with the 'style' of thing I had been working on (unusually few backups), I ended up losing a few days worth of work on the thing I wanted to demonstrate! (Fortunately, I eventually remembered I had taken it home to do some work on at some point, and was able to restore the files from here - but for a couple of hours, it just reeeally wasn't what I had needed at that point)

I ended up having a damn good think about everything come the evening. At work, I've been very, very concious for a long time now that I have been doing a poor job (I want no comments or sympathy about this - regardless of anything else, I know I should have been doing better). I mean the thing is, I actually like my work and my job. I enjoy doing it. I've just not been able to focus.

I've annoyed with myself about this, because I know that I can be one of the best, most useful and productive people at the company. I have knowledge in some technical areas that far surpasses that of my colleagues, I learn quickly, and I take an interest in everything the company does, even if I am not directly involved. This makes me valuable at every stage of the process, from the design, through development and implementation, and then support. You would be surprised how many programmers do not know anything about computers, because they simply aren't interested.

I know I sound like I'm blowing my own trumpet a lot here and saying "I'm fantastic!", and to an extent, I am... Or at least, I was. I would say that in life, there are a lot of areas where I am "poor" to "below average". My ability with computers balances some of that out, and I recognised it early on. At the moment, the fact that I know there have been some days where I have really worked for perhaps half an hour in the whole day, and I know exactly how far I *should* have gone, just serves to irritate me more.

As others have said recently... I've lost my mojo.

On top of that, I realised that over the last few weeks, I've not really been doing anything in the evenings. My first month or so, I was really having fun... Cooking, cleaning, going for walks, playing a spot of a computer game, watching a film, going shopping, browsing beds or furniture... Recently, I'd got to the point where whilst I was still cooking (as opposed to just a microwave meal), it was usually 10pm by the time I had eaten, and I had no idea where the evening had gone. I think that at least some of that was spent pissing about on t'Internet for too long.

I also thought about my wife and our relationship. Or, even a relationship with anyone... I think I just need to forget about anything for a bit. Seek even more uncertainty than that I already had. Just to let go of anything I want to hold on to, to any degree, and be alone. Just... look inside to myself for a bit, really find out who and where I am.

I think (and hope) that a lot of these realisations served as somewhat of a kick up the arse :)

Work this week has been a bit of an uphill struggle. I'm not magically back at 100% yet (I am typing this at work now, for one thing...), but I think I've had an overall improvement in focus/concentration, and consequently overall output.

So, I've started on the blackjacks, am working towards the fruit salads, and perhaps after that will come the mojo ;)

(For those not in the know; Blackjacks, Fruit Salads and Mojos are all sweets - in ye olden days, mum would sometimes give me 10 pence to spend on some sweets at the newsagents or postoffice, and those were all in the 0.5p-2p sort of category :) )

Thursday, February 08, 2007

At Least I Tried

Despite living relatively close to work, there is a great big hill inbetween me and it :)

I came back home ;)

Shame, I was actually awake and out early this morning! Woke up like 40mins before my alarm goes off feeling relatively awake (surprising, given I ended up not even going to bed until 2:30am), had a nice warm shower :) Took time de-snowing my car :) I got all the snow off, rather than just that on the windows - I don't want it to be constantly falling on them as I am driving now, do I! :)

When I made it to the bottom of the big hill and pondered what to do next, I decided not to walk as I wasn't really in the right clothing. I decided not to try driving a completely different way immediately, as there had already been a fair bit of slipping and sliding about. "I'll work from home then," I thought ;)

Update, 14:00
Just got back in from my second attempt. Pffffffheeeeew, I am knackered. Left the car in a silly position (facing down a slope, and going forwards isn't an option), and was able to move it, ooh, at least a few inches from there. And back. ;)

And to think, I loaded up with spare clothes and hiking boots for that! ;)

Bah. :)

Update, 14:10
lol... Ok, so, I just read back what I wrote. "I am knackered" - "was able to move the car at least a few inches". I feel I should point out I don't have a Flintstones style car which works on pedal power ;) So much as wearing big heavy clothing and trying to figure out what is preventing you from going further backwards and attempting to dig out ice and snow from around where I wanted to go was the knackering bit ;) Not helped by the fact that I had thought, "I'll wait until I get to work to have some lunch". Hmmm, I think the big chunky soup I've had for a while is due to be eaten now ;)

Shame my bread is at work. And worse still... I've only got enough milk left for one more cup of tea! :-O

Update, 21:20
Whilst it was only a minute's walk away, I have now returned my car to its home parking space ;)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

It Was a Funny Old Week

It started getting "funny" on the Wednesday. I spent a good hour doing some intensive worrying around lunchtime, before the thing I had worried about then turned into something that left me chuckling all afternoon. Things got stranger there on in...
That evening, I was doing my weekly shop. I was doing my weekly shop that particular evening, because Mrs M and I had arranged a few days earlier that she would be coming over to mine on Thursday evening for a meal.

I was in a pretty cheery mood walking around the supermarket, and I must have spent at least thirty minutes trying to work out exactly what it was that I wanted to cook the following day, and how much effort I wanted to put into it. I eventually decided on a fresh bit of Scottish Salmon, fine runner beans (were they runner beans? I can't remember. Maybe broad beans? Fine broad beans? That doesn't sound right - anyway, something long and thin and beany), sugarsnap peas, and new potatoes, in a white wine sauce. Ok, the sauce was just out of a packet, but I still think I did fairly well ;)

For something sweet afterwards, meringue nests with summer fruits (guess what? they were frozen ;) ) and extra thick double cream.

So, I was pretty pleased. I'd worked out what I wanted to do, and bought all I needed. Wanted to give my place a bit of a tidy, but other than that, everything was well in hand. Oh, also, I bought a red table cloth to throw over my "box table" to swish it up a bit ;)

Later that evening, I was checking my blog stats (I'm not a 100% compulsive stats checker. Sometimes, a whole hour will pass without me checking! ;) ), when something caught my eye. I didn't quite click what it was that caught my eye at first, but after a few more clicks, it didn't so much as hit me, so much as whack me repeatedly around the head until I was concussed.

For you see, my stats revealed that Mrs M had infact been looking at my blog.

This came as quite a surprise, given that I had never actually given Mrs M the information to locate my blog.

You may remember that, when I first told Mrs M about my blog, that I had given her the choice as to whether she wished to read it. At that time, she felt it sensible to not do so. Later, after the decision had been made that I wanted to move out, she asked whether she might be able to read it after all. This, she had said, was so that she might hopefully better understand what I was unhappy about such that she might change. I did not feel that my blog could tell her anything she did not already know, and by then, given what I knew was facing me, I simply did not want her to read it. I wanted my "support" for the road ahead of me, and I did not want to have to worry or think at all about what I wrote in terms of how it may get interpretted.

So, I was pretty surprised, upset, and slightly betrayed that she had somehow found it now and looked at it.

Recently, I had started to get to the point where I felt more relaxed over everything in general. It wasn't constantly looming over me quite so much, and I felt more 'content' in general. But Thursday of course, I spent feeling a little tense, pissed off, angry, annoyed, upset, etc.
A lot of energy left me, and I wasn't sure I could really be bothered to cook all that I had bought anymore. "Perhaps," I thought,

"I'll just throw a pizza and some potato wedges in the oven instead."

The evening came, and Mrs M arrived at 6:30 as we had agreed. I had decided not to bring up the fact that I knew she had looked at my blog. I felt that I would give her every possible opportunity to tell me, and, as it's no easy thing to admit, and there was no point I could fairly drop it into conversation without having potentially 'interrupted' her from telling me.

I did summon up the energy to cook all that I had bought, as I had planned, although of course the whole night I had all of this on my mind. Various things, including mentions of my blog or something related to it came up 'in passing' throughout the night's conversation (some mentioned by me, some by her).

Before long, the whole night had been and gone (Well, I say "whole night" - she left a little after 9), and everything that would be said had been said. Mrs M left and headed home.

That she had looked at my blog did not get a mention.

I was so disappointed. I had hoped she would tell me.

The first thing I did at that point was to phone my sister. I knew that Mrs M was going over to my parents house for the coming weekend, and that she had mentioned that she had spoken to my sister the night before. Had my sister let slip by accident? Had Mrs M asked her? A million possibilities had swirled through my head, but my sister seemed the most likely connection between my blog and Mrs M.
It came to as much of a surprise to my sister as it had done to me. My sister had not talked to her about it at all.

I pondered which course of action to take next:
1. To put up a blog post aimed at Mrs M
2. To ring her.
3. To go visit her now.

By the time I had a ramble about most/all of this at the poor person who happened to have hopped onto Messenger at around this point, I had already pretty much made up my mind to go for option 3, so they were left in suspense as to the outcome of my little situation ;)

I might ask her the next time I speak with her, but I do wonder what must have gone through her mind when she opened her front door and

I was standing there. A part of her must have been so happy, so hopeful, so pleased.

"Oh! What are you doing here?"

I did not beat about the bush.

"Well. I thought you might like to tell me what's going on."

She looked confused.

"I notice that you looked at my blog last night."

You have to laugh, really. The very moment I finished saying that, the phone rang. You couldn't have timed it better if you'd tried.

It was her parents. It took her a couple of minutes to 'get rid' of them.

Well, long story short ("Too late!" I hear, cried from all around), she had actually seen me on my blog before I had even left. She had remembered the name of it, and she had looked at it once before in December (I actually do remember noticing someone that matched her computer/our ISP before, because it's an unusual combination - I must have not clicked how MUCH alike it was).

To be honest, having known about it for that long, I think she's done a bloody good job to have only looked at it on those two occasions.

She just wanted to know if I had any more of an idea as to what I wanted than I had already said, and hoped she might learn something by reading here. I've already tried to be honest with her though, and tell her things I knew she wouldn't like. If she wanted to know more, I said, she should have just asked more.

She loves me. She knows that she wants for us to move into a bigger house together, have children, and spend the rest of her life with me, happily ever after.

I don't know.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Splash One Blogey

Oh well, another day, another blog disappears.

There will be no more tongue slippage for the time being, as Dianne has chosen to drop her blog, "A Slip of the Tongue".

It's been AGES since I've gone zooshing outwards for a random blog to read, but if this continues, I may have to ;) I think there's enough of a community around at the moment that whenever you do fancy being 'adventurous', you only have to click to someone else's blog and pick one of their "read" list that I never seem to get around to looking at random ones :)

Anyway, so long as Dianne keeps me updated with any gossip she has, I don't mind ;) Ok then, Dianne? I expect a regular dose of at least one piece of gossip per week, or else! ;)

Meanwhile, I have two or three posts that I've been meaning to, well, post, myself ;)

I actually wrote most of two a couple of weeks ago but never got around to finishing them. The last couple of days have been 'interesting' too, so I may summarise at least some of that.

I'll get around to it. At some point. Probably. Perhaps. Maybe. With a bit of good luck and a following wind... ;)