Tag Archives: fail

2016 – a year in review

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This review of my year is somewhat coarse and uncouth. I apologise if any of the following language causes offence. I’ve tried to be creative with it rather than write what I really think! It’s just, well, it’s just been one of those years, hasn’t it?

I usually try to find a suitable header image for these reviews. The best idea I came up with was an image of 2016 being flushed down a toilet, just as a big fat hairy arse was pooping 2017 into it. It sort of sums up my feelings. Yes, this year has been a bit of stinker to say the least. 2017, though, is set to be a real honker. An “I’d leave that about 20 minutes before you go in” sort of year. That’s why I’ve put a picture of Billy-puss there instead.

So, 2016. What have you got to say for yourself?

The World

It’s very easy to be a bit of a grump about the state of things, I think. I keep looking for something positive. I’m sure there are one or two diamond chips lurking in the overall shower of shit that was 2016, but I’m buggered if I can spot them.

The new year set the trend with the somewhat unexpected death of David Bowie in January. It seemed to go downhill from there, frankly. When you come to look at it calmly, though, the quantity of celebrity deaths in 2016 isn’t really all that much different to previous years. It just seems worse, I think, because there’s a cohort of actors, musicians and so on, that has reached that kind of age where they will tend to drop of the perch. It becomes more acute when you’ve lived with these people as part of your life, even if only vicariously or tangentially. Their work, of course, lives on.

The Middle East remains an utter mess. As I type this, a final act in Syria is potentially beginning, but I don’t wish to comment in depth. Bombings and shootings in Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, and whatever you do don’t mention Yemen… No one source of “news” can give a clear picture of the maelstrom, and picking shreds of truth from the endless frothing onslaught is all but impossible. At every turn, claim and counterclaim, and everyone is currently blaming the Russians. Odd, that, since last year it was the Chinese.

We turn to the United States of America… Actually, no, let’s not. They’ve made their bed. We’d have suffered whichever side had claimed the presidency, and we’ve got enough of a pickle of our own to sort out.

The environment seems to be collapsing faster than Sterling against the US dollar. Despite the evidence before their very eyes, unbelievers still insist there is no such thing as anthropogenic global warming. I’ve given up. We might just as well give up and let it all crash and burn. Perhaps then they’ll listen, when it’s all too late to do anything. Actually, I think we passed that point about twenty years back, just when we were beginning to realise something was badly amiss. It’s your grandchildren I feel sorry for. I don’t have any kids, so I don’t waste any time worrying about their non-existent futures.

Sheesh! Is there a sane country left on this planet‽ Would you be surprised if I told you I was at the point of applying to emigrate to Iceland? Seriously. The only problem is I wouldn’t have a job there, Best Beloved wouldn’t like the climate, and working as a modelmaker in an overseas territory when my client base is mostly here in the UK would be a bit silly. Oh well, another door slams, as they say. Chalk up another opportunity I failed to grab as it sailed by. The story of my life.

Blighty

Sodding Brexit. Seriously, sod it and all who sail in her. What a fiasco. Even if we end up not leaving the EU—and some polls seem to indicate a sufficient number of leave voters have since changed their minds, such that it could swing that way—something deeply fundamental at the core of the United Kingdom has been utterly broken. Brexit, apparently, means Brexit, whatever the hell that word salad is supposed to mean. Possibly with red, white and blue, but it means Brexit. That’s the level of foresight and planning our inglorious leaders have on the matter. I find it hard to look at anyone these days and trust them with anything. What must it be like for other EU nationals living here, let alone people with deeper skin tones? You know who I blame for it?

The sodding Tories, and especially that moon-faced arse-gibbon David Cameron. Frightened by the UKIP tendency, he called the referendum, failed to make it binding as he fully expected the Remain campaign would win it with ease, then flounced off to his millions when it all went tits up. Arrogant shit, leaving the rest of us in the same. If we could find him, he should be dragged back and his nose rubbed in the mess he’s made!

After a couple of nights of the long knives, Theresa May reached the top of the Conservative Party greasy pole. What’s rather worrying is she’s shown little aptitude for the job, which isn’t altogether surprising as she wasn’t exactly employee of the month in her previous one. I don’t suppose it’ll be long before we get to choose more self-aggrandising wastes of oxygen and space to occupy the crumbling ruin of the Palace of Westminster. The Labour Party weren’t any better, either. Bunch of tossers. A leader is elected with a massive popular mandate, but the MPs don’t like him so they try to run another leadership campaign to oust him. The original leader is returned with an even larger mandate. What the actual blue-faced f@c# did they expect would happen‽ Honestly, what a bunch of moronic no-hopers. Meanwhile, the Tories run rampant, tearing the country to shreds with no real opposition. You couldn’t make this up.

Having decided by the slimmest of margins, of those that actually bothered to vote in the damned EU referendum that is, that the “will of the people” was we should leave the European Union, Mrs May placed Boris Johnson, Liam Fox and David Davis in charge. The Three Stooges, only with less intelligence and foresight. God help us all. Oh, I forgot, there is no god. Sorry. Looks like we are on our own.

That other bad smell, Nigel Farage (that’s pronounced as “farridge” round here), simply won’t go away. Having resigned from the Kippers’ leadership, he found himself back in it again almost immediately when the woman elected to run things found white middle-aged blokes don’t like women telling them what to do. Shades of General Election 2015. Now he’s found a properly loony white middle-aged bloke to run things, Farage is off again. Mr Froggy-Would-A-Wooing-Go has recently been crawling up the tailpipe of the Orange One in Trumpland. I wish he’d crawl up there and stay, and good riddance. I wish to no longer see his leering visage on my television screen, thank you.

What a nasty, vicious, small-minded place this once great country has become. Perhaps it’s always been that way, but the pretty wrapping paper covered it up. Who knows. Whatever, it’s a darker place now than it was this time last year, and it was no Blackpool illuminations back then either.

We had some pretty good weather during the summer, so that was nice. The autumn was pretty spectacular, too. I failed to get out my camera gear, though. Another positive note was the release of a new ELO album. The summer was only marred by the old biddie in Buck House turning 90. Woo-bloody-hoo! Oh, and the Rio Olympics. To be fair, Team GB did quite well. Good luck to ’em.

Domestic

At home it’s been a year of ups and downs. On my work front, it’s like it’s never ending. I closed my order book for 2017, and will tentatively take on new commissions for 2018 some time during next year. It’s feels good to be in demand, but my pace of work is painfully slow at times. Still, the bank balance is well into the black, which is a nice place to be.

We said goodbye to our old Sophie-puss in May. Her health had been on a downturn for a while, but bearing in mind she was close to 20 years old, she didn’t do too badly. We went off to be chosen again as soon as we could, and Billy-puss has made himself properly at home now. It’s almost like he was meant to be here.

Best Beloved’s health has been up, down, up, and sideways. He’s not too bad, overall, considering what’s wrong with him. As I type this review, we’re both in the last stages of recovering from a really nasty bout of some cold virus or other. I have never felt so ill. It killed appetites, meaning we’ve been missing out on meals, leading to overall weakness. Today is the first day we’ve felt almost human. I don’t want another dose of that, thank you very much indeed.

In other news, we had a new back door and window fitted. We’d been planning to do that for about a decade. We then lashed out on a new air source heat pump heating system. Theoretically, it will save us money on our utility bills. While it’s not perfect, and doesn’t really heat the whole house floor area as one would expect, it’s doing okay and we look to be on track to make some savings as predicted. Our gas consumption is now down to a tiny amount, as we still need to make hot water for washing and so on, but we’re looking at alternatives to that. Our energy supplier recently announced that they sourced all their electricity from renewable and low carbon sources, which is nice, and our monthly payments have been reduced based on our usage. I call that winning.

So we end the year on a generally positive personal note. I know there is still a lot of good out there, and there’s still a lot of beauty in the world, but you have to admit it’s becoming pretty hard to put on a happy face for any length of time. Let me end my drivel by wishing you and your families the very best compliments of the season, and let us hope that 2017 turns out to be not as bad as it looks like it might be. See you in the new year!

L’Atomo di Forza, ė morte

L'Atomo

It had to happen eventually. There have been some reliability issues surrounding my little red motor car of late. Despite a faultless journey from Kent to Somerset and back via Dorset the other week, a day out to a model railway get-together in Buckinghamshire proved too much.

Essentially, despite precautions, l’Atomo did a boiling kettle impression on the M25 near Godstone. He had to be hauled home rather ignominiously on the back of a lorry. Currently, he sits, looking rather forlorn, on our drive. I don’t want to try and drive him again, for fear of repeating the damage that cost me so much a few years back, so I will have to call a mechanic who can visit here—hopefully to give an honest opinion about the likelihood of repairs.

Ironically, we had planned a replacement car purchase later in the year. Whether l’Atomo can be fixed or not, he’s due for retirement. The latest escapade has kind of forced our hand, so today I have been trawling the various sales sites for likely vehicles. In an odd kind of way, I quite enjoy car shopping. Let’s just hope we can find a good, reliable, comfortable successor to My First Fiat™.

Danger! Idiot at work!

I’ve been mucking around with the internet for more years than I care to recall, yet I have never fully got my head round the clockwork and gubbins that makes this informational wonder actually work.

Yes, I learned enough about how to access the back office stuff, and where to put certain files, but I have never felt in the slightest bit comfortable rummaging around in the internal workings of an FTP server. Here’s a classic example: web forms. I have developed a complete aversion to creating forms on web sites. I think I’ve only ever managed to make one form work reasonably, and that was some time in the 1990s using a standard ISP-supplied script.

Now, take this blog thing. WordPress is one of the most popular and expandable blogging platforms out there. It’s used by millions of people every day. Usually, I visit the home page, see a new update is flagged for a plugin I’ve installed, hit the dashboard and click “update”.  Things go wibbly-wobbly for a few heart-stopping seconds, and then it’s all fine again.

Except today.

I don’t use many plugins, to be honest. There’s a spam-catcher, and something that links the blog to my account on RebelMouse (I still haven’t the faintest idea what RebelMouse is all about. I noticed it appearing in Flickr stats, and wondered what it was. I found myself an “early adopter” of something that appears to aggregate tweets and blog posts in an easily accessible form. No, I haven’t a clue, either.) I also had a WordPress plugin called Jetpack. It adds all kinds of useful bits and bobs to the standard blog, and up until today it had been working happily. I’ve even updated it a few times.

Except today.

New update to Jetpack! I clicked through to the dashboard, checked out the update, clicked “Go!”. And waited.

As I said, usually a few seconds elapse and everything is back in the room. Today, it breaks. Today, “maintenance mode” becomes the norm. Seconds turn to minutes, and before things turn geological I decide to pull the plug. But how do you do that? The site in is maintenance mode. Argh!

Anyway, some helpful friends pointed me in the right direction. Sadly, it seems I’m the one with the problem download, and despite deleting the old plugin, and playing around with the others to see if they are clashing, Jetpack is borked.

So, no fancy bits for a while. I’ll try again another day. I need one of those folding boards you get where cleaners have been at work, but reading “Danger! Idiot at work!”

I’ll never understand

I don’t understand WordPress. My brain is unable to encompass what WordPress does.

Yesterday I set up a page to let me aggregate information about my model work. I came back to the page today in order to see what else I can do with it.

All I can do is edit it. Um, so, um, how do I, like, you know, add new posts to the page? I thought that was what it was for.

Wrong. Page deleted.

I’m getting too old for this internet stuff.

When disaster strikes

It’s been a bad week for technology at Snaptophobic Towers. Our “standby” MacBook Pro developed a fault with its logic board, which meant it failed to boot and went straight to a kernel panic. On a recommendation, we took it to an authorised Apple repair agent in Kingston upon Thames, and it’s hoped the machine will be fixed for a reasonable price and back with us again pretty soon. (The failed machine is used by Best Beloved, and so has everything set up for someone who has difficulties with sight, so it would be handy to have it back again.)

Having been out on a shoot today, I returned and set about backing up the RAW files to my backup drives before I imported them Aperture. I have a pair of matched 500GB external drives, Archive A and Archive B, and I literally manually copy from the CF card to each drive in turn. Once the copies have been made, the drives are unmounted and powered down. The reason for making backup copies this way to try to eliminate the risk of data corruption that might occur copying from one drive to another: each copy process is from the original card image. With two matched drives—not in a RAID configuration, I may add—if one goes down, at least the other ought to remain, at least until I can source replacements.

Anyway, I powered the drives up, but only Archive B mounted to the Mac’s desktop. I’d been having some odd issues with Archive A, which ought to have warned me this was likely to occur eventually. I launched Disk Utility to see if it appeared in the drives list. It did, but only the drive itself. The partition was greyed out.

I unmounted the drive through Disk Utility, and tried connecting it with a different socket. Same problem, and the same again when connected with USB. Running First Aid reported some errors on the catalogue, so I let the repair process run its course. All came back as passed, but the drive partition still refused to mount. I ran First Aid a couple of times, but no joy.

At this point, I was resigned to the drive having failed completely in some way. I tried taking the drive out of the case and connecting with a caddy system to see if it would mount that way. Nope. Not playing. Putting it back in the case, I considered my options. Both drives were nearing capacity, and I was planning on purchasing two new drives to start a fresh archive. The old archives were to be stored, preferably one of them off-site. With one working archive drive, I thought perhaps it was time to bring that purchase forward.

Meanwhile, with nothing to lose on the “broken” drive, I decided to try erasing and reformatting it. Would you believe it? The drive mounted as normal after this. It lives to die another day. I’ve set about copying the Archive B over to the reformatted Archive A, but I am still going to replace them both with new units. Having checked out the prices of 500GB external drives, I realised it would be more sensible, not to say economical, to purchase replacement internal units and re-use the old cases. The old internal units can be safely stored off-site, and I can restart the archive on the “new” drives.

The moral of this tale is, I suppose, if you use electronic media to store valuable data in any form, back it up. There is a saying you should back everything up three times, on three different forms of media, and in three different places. That’s not always practical, so I try to do the best I can. I like to think my system of two identical drives, plus my Aperture libraries, gives me some measure of reassurance. The sad fact is, though, that any hard drive is living on borrowed time. Drives will fail, it’s just a case of when, and making sure you have backups of your data so you can restore things and not lose anything.

I can’t see it.

Where

Our landlines went down yesterday. It seems our whole estate, possibly even further afield, has been affected. Last time this happened it turned out to be a false fire alarm at the local exchange, but it could easily be a cable theft locally now. Happily, as we have cable internet, I was able to log the fault with BT via their web site. 

I’ve highlighted a part of the text in the screengrab from the fault page, because try as I might I simply cannot find the “keeping you up to date” section of the site. Perhaps the relevant link was expunged in the makeover the site’s had, but the fault reporting engine hasn’t been brought up to date yet.

(I know BT Care have a Twitter account—@BTCare—and I tweeted about the dilemma last night including them in the conversation. They’ve been in touch via Twitter, which is nice.)

The last time our phones went down, I reported the fault via my mobile. We were updated via text messages on the repair process, which was nice. The problem is, I can’t find a way to add my mobile number to our BT account in order for BT to contact us about the fault. All they have at the moment is email. I suppose I could call them on my mobile anyway, as I have a fault log number, but that would be cheating! 

BBC News – Sittingbourne ‘Carnaval’ error signs to be changed

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“Pam Griggs, from the association, said the signs would be replaced or changed.”

She added: “People will either think we are stupid and we can’t spell or they will have a good laugh.”

No, Pam, you were right on the first count. Does nobody proof read anything any more? Words, literally, fail me.

BBC News – UK economy suffers 0.5% contraction

But Chancellor George Osborne said the government would not change its austerity programme.

“These are obviously disappointing numbers, but the ONS has made it very clear that the fall in GDP was driven by the terrible weather in December,” he said in a statement.

“There is no question of changing a fiscal plan that has established international credibility on the back of one very cold month. That would plunge Britain back into a financial crisis. We will not be blown off course by bad weather.”

We’ll see.