15 Dec

Slipped the Leash – 13 December 2017

This morning, Scamp and her sister were off into town. I had a chance to slip the leash.

Ended up doing a bit of sketching and pastel drawing, but nothing serious enough to be considered for public viewing. I also made some yogurt, repaired a bit of the kitchen ceiling and finished off an iron-on transfer for a tee shirt.  Eventually, after lunch I went for a walk in St Mo’s and just missed the last of the good light. What I did find was a quadricopter drone stuck up a tree. After a bit of work energetically throwing chunks of branches at it, it finally dropped to earth. It really was in a sorry state, but it did have a camera and after a bit of examination, I extracted the micro SD card. Like the rest of the drone it was fairly well corroded, but with some careful scraping with a scalpel, the contacts were clean enough to download the video of its last flight, all 2.5minutes of it. It’s not the best resolution, but it does show the dangers of flying too close to tall pine trees!

My one decent photo from the day and my PoD was entitled “Slipped the Leash” on Flickr. Quite fitting.

Tonight Scamp, Jackie and I drove down to Bombay Dreams for dinner with June and Ian. Our combo starter was enormous and while others less used to the size of the restaurant’s portions were eating their way through it, Scamp and I were more careful. Mains were also their usual size and just as tasty as always. Entertainment was provided by the two twin waiters. One serious, the other telling jokes with such a deadpan expression you wondered if it was a joke at all. All this while snow was falling outside. This was the first expedition in the snow in the Juke and it performed perfectly. It even climbed the hill to the house without a single grumble. Nice car.

Jackie heads to Embra tomorrow and depending on the weather we may go to Stirling.

15 Dec

George – 30 November 2017

Today I was what Billy Connolly called “George, my faithful roadie.”

Scamp had a gig in Cumbernauld and had to take the keyboard, stand, music stand, music and assorted bits and pieces. Although they will, and often have fitted in the micra, I decided to drive and use the extra space of the Juke. Amazingly good planning by the Nissan designers ensured that when you fold down the rear 1/3 seat, the keyboard slides in perfectly because the seat folds level with the boot lid. Such good thinking. When we got to the venue there was a space that I’d never have attempted parking in before, but with the magic of the parking camera it was simplicity itself. Unfortunately when I drove them back from the gig I found that the headlight was fogged halfway up the lens. Not what you expect in a new car. I phoned the garage on another matter and asked about the fogged light. The bloke I spoke to in servicing seemed nonplussed by that and started to explain to me what condensation was. More like condescension than condensation. I cut him short and explained that I did know what condensation was, but I wanted to know why I was getting it in my car. He told me that a lot of Nissan cars had that. He didn’t say suffered from that, but I heard the ghost of that phrase under his breath. He even said that his MERCEDES had it. Scamp then mouthed “My Nissan doesn’t have it”. He eventually gave up trying to baffle me with science and impress me that he could afford a Merc and suggested I bring it in so they could ‘have a look at it’. Probably that’s all they will do. They will look at it for a while and see if it will do anything, then tell me there’s nothing wrong with it. I’ve been to garages before. I’ve even survived Arnold Clark. I’m not going to be put off by Western Nissan.

On the way home from the gig, I was watching the sky as there was a lovely sunset building. We took a detour round the back of Condorrat and Mollinsburn to the top of the Whin Edge Brae and got some pretty looking silhouettes with the sunset in the background. That made PoD.

Tomorrow looks cold and clear again and I’ve got coffee booked with Val and Fred. May go floor lamp hunting in the morning. That’s Scamp and me, not Fred, Val and me, just incase you were confused there!

15 Dec

So Suite – 28 November 2017

Up early this morning. Phone rang at 7.14am to announce the imminent arrival of our new two piece suite.

The driver said he’d be arriving in about 15 minutes and just before 7.30am the gigantic lorry made its slow approach up the hill. Less than 30 minutes later, the two seater and three seater settees were in place and the van was gone to its next destination. I thought we had had an early rise until the bloke in charge told me his day starts at 5.30am. Those are just numbers and letters. That time doesn’t really exist. The new suite is quite different from the old one. Bigger than we had imagined it and quite solid feeling. Not uncomfortably so, but firm, yes, that’s the best way to describe it, firm.

Now that we were up, it seemed a good idea to get on with the day and get stuff done. Scamp had a skirt to take back to M&S and I had a head full of hair that needed controlling The hair, not the head, you understand. To solve both problems we drove in to Glasgow and went our separate ways, agreeing to meet up later in Cafe Nero. My haircut took longer than anticipated because the barber (the one from Larky) was telling me all sorts of tall tales of girlfriends, attempted murder and suicide pacts. Haircuts are such an education in this old-fashioned barbers shop. Sometimes it’s politics, sometimes it’s tall tales, some times it’s just plain nonsense. It’s always entertaining.

When I eventually took my leave with the shearing done, I hurried up Sausage Roll Street to meet Scamp who had texted me to say she was waiting in Nero. After downing my coffee we made our way back to the car and then stopped off at Office World, an awful name for what used to be that Aladdin’s cave that used to be Staples. I was (still) looking for a printer. I didn’t see any of the photo printers that wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg for ink, but I did see an Epson that used bottles of ink. It looked like a good deal, but I wasn’t sure how good the photo quality would be. If it didn’t produce the quality I was looking for, it would certainly be much more economical than the HP that Scamp was using for her printing needs. We decided to look into it.

After lunch I had a look at the reviews and it seemed that it could indeed produce fairly decent quality photo printouts and the economy aspect was just as good as it seemed. We decided to go for it and found it was available in Argos. Quick trip to Bishopbriggs and brought the big box home in the Juke. I must say it’s a great car for carrying big boxes because you just slide them onto the raised bed in the back, not into the hold, so to speak. Even easier to get them out again. I came back the scenic route and that’s where today’s PoD came from. Half an hour of setting up and we were good to go. Text prints well and so, to my surprise do photos. Success. Of course, more testing and tweaking is necessary before I’ll be 100% sure (if I’m ever 100% sure!)

Out dancing tonight and the new(ish) move tonight was Hlar. I think it’s short for Hilarious. It’s the one where the leader balances on one foot while the follower drags him round in a circle. Don’t attempt it on a carpet, or on solid floor with ‘sticky’ shoes.

Came home and tested the new settee. It’s growing on me. Also, it smells New!

Tomorrow, taking stuff to the dump, that’s all that’s planned. Life will find a way to fill in the spaces.

15 Dec

Printers and Mr Grey – 26 November 2017

It was another sub zero morning, but unlike recent days, it soon clouded over and the temperature rose … a bit.

After lunch we drove to Bishopbriggs to look for a photo printer at Currys superstore. They did have a few, but although they had one on show that was on my short leet, they didn’t have any for sale. The usual message of “It’s out of stock, but we can get it for you in two or three days”. Maybe I’ll have better luck in Argos tomorrow. Got so fed up I even went to ASDA to see if they had anything worth while – they didn’t.

When we came home I prepared tonight’s dinner, my dinner, that is which was Shin of Beef. Stuck it in the oven and went out for an hour in the fading light to see what was worth photographing in St Mo’s. Not a lot as it turned out. Spooked Mr Grey who flew around the pond and then settled back on the boardwalk, almost where he had taken off from. He posed there for a while which was very kind of him, otherwise I wouldn’t have a PoD. I’d intended going out for an hour or so, but had forgotten my hat and gloves and the light was really failing now, so I made my way home after half an hour.

Watched an immensely boring final F1 GP of the year. Had dinner, and yes, the shin of beef was lovely. Watched Susan Calman’s sarcastic and very funny exit from Strictly. My, what exciting lives we lead.

Tomorrow the new suite gets delivered so we have to get to bed early tonight. Our four hour delivery slot is from 7am until 11am!

15 Dec

Follow the yellow brick road – 24 October 2017

Today we went to Ikea, where you have to follow the ‘yellow brick road’ round the store, except …

Actually, the yellow brick road with the arrows painted on the floor has been modernised, updated and illuminated.  Now its a light that projects an arrow on the floor.  How enterprising.  I found it less intimidating.  I could stand under the projector and the arrow disappeared.  That meant I was free to go wherever I pleased, without being condemned to go where the arrow pointed, because I was controlling the arrow!!  Excellent.  We just browsed the ground floor of the store because we were looking for a floor lamp.  We didn’t find one that Scamp liked.  I got a frame for the pastel picture and tonight I cut a mat and framed it.  It’s hanging behind me now, but it’s a bit dark in this corner and I think I might move it.

When we came out of Ikea at Braehead, Scamp wanted to go for a cup of coffee, so me being a bit flash, typed Costa into the satnav and sure enough it showed all the nearby Costas.  Off we went following the directions.  Only, it took us down a filter lane at a roundabout, then promptly changed its mind and decided we should have gone straight ahead.  Worse still, the filter lane became the slip road on to the motorway, taking us back into Glasgow.  After much swearing and harrumphing by me, we settled on going to  the Costa at Robroyston instead.  Much easier to navigate.  Possibly the worst part of the whole escapade was that I KNEW where the Costa was, I was just following the sat nav to see if it knew an alternative route.  I’ll be more circumspect when taking its instructions in future.

Back home I started looking for a website where I’d used a Java powered page that worked out optimal rebates for a picture mat.  That’s the edge bits round the aperture that you see the picture through.  I found the references to the page, but apparently the page itself has disappeared.  Every link gave an error 404 (not found).  Gave up eventually and took some useful information from a picture framers forum, then started to write my own program in Excel.  Mine only uses metric sizes, although I did see one written for Excel where you could put in sizes down to 1/16th inch accuracy.  I’m still not sure how the writer managed to code the conversion to decimal inches and then back again to fractions for the output.  Too much work.  I remember working out sizes  of bolt groups for steelwork using feet and inches and being so relived when we went over to the metric system.  Anyway, I got it working and it produces a decent mat.

After the mammoth calculations in Excel, I went out to St Mo’s to clear my head and try to get some photos.  It had been a decidedly wet drive in through Glasgow in the morning, and a dry and bright drive home, but by the time I went out for a walk it was just our usual dull.  Today’s photo I liked because of the twists and turns in the dried weed, but the ISO was 1000!

Yes, I did open the box.  I’m sure you knew I would Hazy. Like I said in the description of the sketch on Flickr:

*I opened the box, and inside was a thin slab of black glass with a silver rim. Amazingly this slab of glass can bring me pictures from all around the world and allow me to speak to people thousands of miles away. I call it black magic!*

When I look back on it, it’s been a busy day.  Most days are now we’re retired.  When did we ever have the time to work, or to put it another way, what did we have to give up to allow us to work?

Tomorrow the weather should be better than today.  We may go out and take pieces!

 

15 Dec

An Old Friend Returns – 13 October 2017

There’s not much to be said about the morning. It rained and it was windy, then it rained again.

Tried to copy a folder of videos from the MBP (Mac Book Pro) to the iMac. It was doing it over WiFi and reported that it would take about an hour. Videos are notoriously large files and there were a lot of them, around fifty at last count. In fact there were more like a hundred because I converted the MOVs to MP4s to make them more portable and ensure they would play in the majority of platforms. Anyway, I decided that an hour was far too long, so I stopped the transfer and used a portable hard disk to copy the files from the MBP. Then it was a simple job to unplug the portable HD and re-plug it to the iMac. There were two partitions on the portable HD and I should issue a warning that there’s a fair amount of Technospeak in this part of the blog. If you don’t want to hear all the geek stuff, maybe you should move down to the but that says “SAFE NOW!” Anyway, now the lightweights are gone, here’s where we talk about the ‘techy’ stuff and this is where things go awry.
The HD was partitioned into two parts. Part 1 was mainly for photos backup and Part 2 was for general use. Both partitions were formatted to NTFS. Now Macs can read NTFS, but natively,they can’t write to it. When I plugged the HD into the iMac it could only read the photos part and I’d copies the files to the other part and it wasn’t showing up. It wasn’t mounted that’s why. I ejected it and plugged it back in to the MBP and it read as normal. I checked it using Disk Utility and it showed up as ok. Ejected it again and plugged it back into the iMac. Still no go. Now I said that Macs can’t natively write to NTFS, but I use a wee app by Paragon that allows the Mac to write to an NTFS disk. It also has a disk checker, so I used it to check said HD. It told me it was dirty. That’s computerspeak for something’s screwed up here. It tried then to repair the damage, but after about ten minutes had got nowhere. This needed the big guns. Ejected the disk and went upstairs to where the PCs live and powered up the laptop, then attached the HD. Yes, it loaded, but only after a lot of clicks and whines. Went into a DOS command prompt and tried to run CHKDSK which is the program that CHecKs the DiSK. Unfortunately you can’t simply do that. You need to go to the Elevated Command Prompt as an Administrator. Typical american idea. Yes, you can buy a gun, or two, or three over the counter, but you have to be Administrator to fix your own disk on your own machine! Finally typed in the command CHKDSK G: /F, pressed enter and five minutes later the job was done. Ejected the disk and re-connected it just to check, and everything was fine and dandy. Ejected it again and took it down to the iMac where it loaded as if nothing had happened. The files copied in just under 6 minutes. The entire process from cancelling the WiFi transfer had taken just short of two hours.
The moral of the story is: If it’s working, don’t mess around with it.

SAFE NOW!

After the disk copying fiasco we had lunch and while Scamp was blowing up a storm on the clarinet, I slipped out to St Mo’s where I spotted the spider, the caterpillar, the chestnuts (although they were arranged tastefully first) and finally I chanced upon Mr Grey. I think it was Mr Grey my grey heron adversary in St Mo’s, but this one looked a bit thinner and smaller than Mr Grey. Maybe it’s Son of Mr Grey. I got a few photos of him before he made his exit down to the other end of the pond. I must say at this point, the photos on the retina screen look amazing. It totally transforms the editing process when you can see the detail so clearly.

Today’s sketch was of Mambo No 5, my trusty iPhone 5s. I think it deserved a photo after all the hard work its done and the hours of music its played. I even took the photo of the drawing with it, as I always do with sketches.

Now I’m off to bed. I’ve got a wee tickle in the back of my throat. Probably caught some nasty cold germs from all the sniffling passengers on the train yesterday. Looks like more rain tomorrow. Don’t have any plans, but may go somewhere for lunch.

15 Dec

The Journey starts here – 10 October 2017

Last night I emailed the help line at Journey about exporting my journal from Day One and importing into Journey. This morning I got a sample .zip file to try to import. I tried it and it worked. It was just a file with some text and a few pics, but it proved to me that the import dialog worked. I tried exporting about ten days of Day One and then importing. That worked too. Tried a month and that worked. Tried six months and that didn’t. Tried four months (a third of a year, easy to slice up) and that worked. Spent the rest of the morning chopping up my journal into four month pieces, exporting them from Day One and importing them into Journey. It took some time and it wasn’t helped by the fact that Virgin were working on the fibre line so access was sporadic. However, it’s now done and it looks like the Journey has begun.

We went to the leisure centre before lunch and hit the sweet spot in the pool, just after 1pm when all the spa punters have gone to stuff their faces in the restaurant. We almost had the pool to ourselves. I was there trying to ease my aching back, so although I swam for a wee while, I lounged in the jacuzzi and steam room for longer than I exercised. Maybe next time It’ll be the other way round. Heard that the leisure centre and presumably the hotel too has been sold. That will probably mean the fees for the leisure centre will increase soon.

After lunch I went for a walk over to St Mo’s in the rain. I didn’t expect to get much, and I wasn’t disappointed. What I did get was a few shots of the Cladonia lichens after I’d given my knees a workout crouching down to get them. Thanks to the really good sensor on the D7000 the ISO 8000 didn’t create too much digital noise.

Tonight’s sketch is of my wee Cotman watercolour box that usually lives in my camera bag with my sketchbook, just in case I need to add some colour to a sketch.

Coffee with Fred and Val tomorrow and the weather looks wet!

15 Dec

Another day of installations – 9 October 2017

Spent the morning working with Lightroom and what someone called ”all the tracery of freeware and shareware programs that run in the background”. It’s never the big programs that take the time to load. It’s not the data either, it’s all the little apps that sit in your menu bar or start menu. They are the ones that cause all the problems. I’ve got twelve sitting on mine as I write and I’m sure others have a lot more. That took me to lunchtime.

After a piece with brie, apple and honey on brown bread that I was introduced to last week, I packed my bag and headed for the gym, while Gems appeared. As I was driving to the leisure centre, I thought that I should maybe make better use of my Monday time, so I changed direction to Haggs and from there to the Forth & Clyde canal and got a couple of photos taken. I also nearly got a sketch done of Bridge No12, then the rain came and I had to take shelter in the car until the rain abated. Sketch finished I drove home feeling less fit, but happy that I’d made a better use of my limited time.

Out to Salsa after dinner and this time it was a bit of a drag. I think it was the choice of moves that failed to interest me and for once I found myself clock-watching until the end of the class.

Still having problems getting a suitable replacement for the ageing and now barely supported Day One. Journey is looking like the front runner just now, but nobody could say it was the most user friendly app.

No plans for tomorrow. Maybe less computer stuff.

15 Dec

It was still there in the morning – 8 October 2017

Yes, Santa hadn’t taken it back during the night and I hadn’t dreamed it either. There is was sitting on the table where I’d left it.

It was another day of backbreaking work adjusting, cajoling and a fair amount of swearing as anyone who knows me will testify to. Strangely, also a lot of talking to myself. Maybe that’s because I’m the only one who has the slightest clue what I’m doing. Most things are working now and the backbreaking, which was due to me stretching across the laptop in front of me to see what the iMac was telling me, has subsided a bit now that I’ve repositioned the monitor at a decent distance and angle.

Scamp is keeping an eye on me as is the wee man in the Fitbit on my wrist, getting me to take their advice and walk around a bit every hour. It’s difficult though, with this marvellous piece of equipment just sitting there in front of me. To that end, we drove down The Green this morning and went for an autumn walk. There’s a big chestnut tree near where we park and I was lucky enough to find a chessy as we used to call them when I was wee. This one was just breaking out of its shell. I stuck it in my pocket with the idea that if nothing else, it would make a PoD. As it happened, it was a view down the Clyde from behind the Glasgow Uni boathouse that got PoD. I liked the leading lines in the pic of the wee man and seagulls or to give them their Dundee name, shitehawks are always a good subject. The chessy as you will have noted became Inktober sketch number 8.

I worked for another hour or so after we came back, installing more stuff and swearing even more. For a break I went for a walk around St Mo’s before dinner, but the light was poor by that time and I didn’t get much.

That was about it. Sat for an hour or more afterwards working through the photos and being even more amazed at the quality of that screen.

Tomorrow I think I’ll go to the gym for a gentle workout and then sit in the steam room for half an hour. If I can drag myself away from the iMac.

15 Dec

Living the Dream – 7 October 2017

Today we drove in to Glasgow. Parked in the JL carpark and walked down Bucky Street and said to the bloke in the Apple shop. We’ll have that one, please. That was about 1.30pm. From then until now I have been re-installing software and marvelling at the fact that all of it is, whisper it, LEGAL!

It’s an iMac 21” with a 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i5, 8Gig Ram and a 1TB Fusion drive. It ways almost a ton, or so it seemed when I was lugging this big white box up Bucky Street. The retina screen is simply superb. I’m over the moon.

That’s as much as you’re getting tonight, because I’m knackered.

Good Night. More nonsense tomorrow.