It’s Life, Jim…

Posted in Computers and the Web on August 31st, 2006 by Coffee

When I was looking around the other weekend for games to fill in an hour or two I came across FreeCiv. It’s a free version of the Civilization strategy games, and got a bit hooked. Unfortunately it was just a bit hard for me to see what was going on, and finding help and up to date guidance was a bit hit and miss.

So I ordered a copy of the latest commercial version, version IV, of the game. Cheap, from Amazon.

It does look a lot nicer, and has a lot more bells and whistles then FreeCiv, which is in no way surprising. FreeCiv seems very close in game play, but if I’m going to be staring at a game for as long as I suspect I will be with this, then I do want pretty!

The game itself is a strategy game where you have to grow a civilization (strangely enough) by carefully using resources, building military units, using diplomacy etc. Just like the real world. Kind of. You can play multiplayer over the net too, but I suspect I’ll be just playing the computer for a while until I get the hang of it all.

When a game comes with a 224 page manual, and it’s all in English, then you know things are a bit complicated! But I like that. Should keep me going though the winter, anyway!


More Upgrades…

Posted in Geeky Tech Stuff on August 25th, 2006 by Coffee

I finally gave in and upgraded my main Windows XP box to a bigger, faster system disk. When I first put that box together I thought that I was going to have heaps of space on a 15 odd Gig drive, and so I made the main system partition only 6 Gig big, and made another couple of partitions for data and other programmes.

Mistake. BIG mistake! HUGE!

I have no idea what fills up all the space, as I make sure I clean it out of all the stuff I can, but it’s always getting close to the limit now, and I think that disk is getting a bit old anyway, so both to be safe and to give me more room I thought I’d upgrade to something a bit bigger. Like another 250Gig drive. Just a small difference in space!

I thought that this could be a bit of a pain in the butt to do, as Windows seems to be a bit fussy about where things are etc, but in the end it was a breeze! I used a “live-cd” (a whole operating system that boots and runs off a cd) of gparted, which is a small Linux system soley geared towards disk partitioning actions. This meant I just had to copy the partitions across to the new drive, resize them, change the disks over in the box, removing the old one, reboot a couple of times, and hey-presto! New disk works fine!

And for a bonus, a fun bit of this was using a small business card CD for the first time. I’d been left a few but never really found a use for them, but the whole gparted image fits easily on one. I don’t think I’ll start carrying it around with me in my wallet, but it’s definitely part of my PC toolbox now.

A bit of a relief that it went fine, but also a bit of a bugger on a long weekend! How to fill in the rest of it!? I guess I’ll just have to break something just to fix it…. or spend the time pampering the other half – now that sounds like a plan! (Hmmmm. I think someone added something during the proof reading process….)

Second Wind.

Posted in Plants and Gardens on August 24th, 2006 by Coffee

Well, Megan, I found something other than a grumpy old man rant to post today (though that is still brewing, I think).

A while ago I thought the chilli plants had basically done their dash for the year. There seemed to be no more flowers appearing and so I suspected that once the chillis had all ripened on the plants they would have to be found, erm, another home in the big green bin (hope they don’t hear me say that!!)

But since we re-potted the smaller Ring of Fire plants into big new pots they’ve found a new lease of life, and started to flower again. The Habaneros still have lots of chillis, but no new flowers appearing.


All of this is still a bit of a mystery really. I’m still not sure just how long the plants are meant to flower for, how many chillis you get off a good plant, or how long the plants last. But I’ll take all the chillis I can get, while I can get them!

I know you can over-winter the plants, but I suspect they’d best be taking the dive to a better place and new ones started for next year. I’m looking forward to trying some of the other varieties I got at the chilli festival a bit earlier. I hope I have the same success with those as I’ve had with this year’s efforts!

Bored Games…

Posted in Computers and the Web on August 20th, 2006 by Coffee

It’s been pretty grotty out this weekend, so we’ve pretty much stayed in and tried to entertain ourselves. Not that easy! So I thought I’d dig around and try to find a couple of new computer games for the Linux to spend a few hours on.

Got a really nice surprise when I did though! Someone has made a multiplayer version of Scotland Yard for the PC called London Law! We used to play it all the time as kids, and it was nice to have another go at it, all without having to worry about where the counters were, etc. It seems to play absolutely the same as in my memory too.

The game is set up as a client/server game. One computer acts as a server, and others can connect as a client. In theory they can be anywehere as long as there is an internet connection. And it runs on all sorts of systems with a little bit of work setting things up. Windows, Linux, OS X, etc, etc.

The current version needs at least 2 people to play, but it looks like there is AI support being developed for future versions.

Kept us entertained for a couple of hours anyway!

Today’s Harvest

Posted in Food and Drink, Plants and Gardens on August 19th, 2006 by Coffee

Today was harvest day. Thought I’d better lighten the load on the plants by removing the ripe ones…  I think some will have to end up in the freezer, as I can’t see us using all of these in the next week!


Waiting, waiting, waiting….

Posted in Uncategorized on August 19th, 2006 by Coffee

Finally got around to putting in my application for UK citizenship on Thursday, with the help of the Nationality Checking Service at one of the local council offices.

Now I just have to wait and see how long it takes to work its way through the corridoors of the Home Office. Hopefully it will be quicker than the 5 month standard waiting time having had the help of the NCS.

I hope so. I’ll let you know.

Into the belly of the beast…

Posted in Geeky Tech Stuff on August 15th, 2006 by Coffee

Sometimes it’s nice to get your handy dirty, without getting them actually dirty. Tonight was “put new bits in a PC” night. Always a fun and rewarding time. As long as I’m home alone when I’m doing stuff like that! Being interrupted when things aren’t going well, and I’m trying to remember where 4 different cables are meant to go does not go down well!

I’d finally got sick of running out of space on my Linux desktop box, as I’d re-used an older small drive in there while I was “just playing” with Linux a while ago when I built that box. Now that that machine gets turned on far more often than the windows box, I thought I’d better add some more space. (By shifting the home directory to a new drive, for anyone geeky enoughto understand that!) But I thought I’d add it in a removable drawer so I can rip it out easily and…. Do something with it, I guess! Not that much harder than adding a normal drive, but a bit more fiddly.

And while I was planning to do all that I thought I’d fix the case fan that used to start up so loudly that you could hear it from downstairs. As sure sign that something is really not right! But I think that I could be on the start of a big long slippery slope because of that. The only fan that size that my usual supplier (i.e. the one that generally has enough is stock that I can get things delivered the next day and just get on with it) was one that had cute blue lights in it that make a nice glow up the wall now.

I know there is really no need for all sorts of lights in a PC, but I reckon they have to go faster if they have lights. A bit like a racing stripe on a car!

Luckily today everything went fine, the patient lived, and the box ended up better, faster (I wish), and more prurdy than before!

And, like usual when delving into the belly of a beast, I came away with a sense of satisfaction. And relief!

Chilli Chutney

Posted in Food and Drink on August 12th, 2006 by Coffee

Thought I’d try some chilli cooking today while it was raining and (relatively) cold outside. Today’s effort was mango and habanero chutney. I used the recipe from here, with double the chillis of course, but had to guess when to put the mangos in. They probably should have proof read the recipe first!


Tastes really good! And a big, big kick, which is nice.

Now I just have to wait to get some nice white fish to try it with.

Update: Looking at the photo on the site I realise that it might look like a big pot of sick. It doesn’t in real life, and really doesn’t taste like it, honest!!


Posted in Rants And Rambles on August 12th, 2006 by Coffee

Ok, this is it. A line has finally been crossed. I knew things were getting out of hand, and it seemed like every single TV programme had to have an “0900-Dial in and give us some money” aspect to it, but now it appears that they finally do have to…

The ITV NEWS has now had a 0900 competition during it! The NEWS! What the hell?!

I find this pretty damn disturbing. Somehow it just doesn’t seem right. It’s meant to be the news for goodness sake! Sigh.

But that reminds me. 0900 numbers have been in the newspaper lately for another reason. Well, the Metro at least. I’m sure that technically it counts as a newspaper.

Apparently there are some people really upset that they’d spent money on 0900 numbers to vote people off from Big Brother, only to find that they now have to spend more money though these numbers to stop the person that they’d voted off from coming back though some strange back door that the producers have thought up. There’s even talk of legal action over mis-selling the original 0900 numbers if they do come back.

Or something.

Can’t say I’ve really been that worried about it all.

All I can say is “get a life, and get over it, suckers!”

And actually, while I’m ranting, and on a related topic. The Metro seems to feel the need to have a “news item” about what happened the previous day in the Big Brother house. Look, either you watch the show, and you already know what happened, or you don’t watch it and really, really, really don’t care.

What the hell is the point!! Please give me some more real news. There has to be some around! And sack the journo who’s presumably made themselves a cushy job out of watching that shite all day to come up with a one inch “story”. They’ll be good for nothing now. Their brains must be mush!

I feel better now.

The Chilli Festival

Posted in Food and Drink, Plants and Gardens on August 5th, 2006 by Coffee

Having heard that it was on, it just wouldn’t have been right to miss it! The 2006 West Dean Gardens chilli festival!


The gardens themselves are down south from London, just out of Chichester. So we had a nice train ride through some countryside for a change, and then a bus ride though narrow country lanes. Makes a change from the tube every day! Probably took us about 2 and a bit hours to get there, but not a bad trip.

So what was there? A lot of people, all enjoying chilli related activity, and a heap of stalls with all sorts of chilli stuff, of course! Lots of sauces, hot (temperature and spice) food, plants, crockery, tea towels, cards etc., bands and beer and cider… And a lot of plants and seeds to buy. Managed to avoid buying too much though. Only came away with a lot of seeds for next year.


It was also nice to wander around the normal gardens though. There were massive vege gardens, glasshouses etc. to look as well as all the chillis. But it was all soooo dry! Brown bits of lawn, empty pools and ponds. All a bit sad, but not surprising given the extremely dry and hot summer!

Really nice sunny day out in the country. Good fun.