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Viewing the 1999 solar eclipse in the UK

Viewing the 1999 solar eclipse in the UK

So back in 1999, one part of the UK was gripped with total solar eclipse fever – that part being Cornwall.

Since I’ve been a boy, I’ve always wanted to “see” a total solar eclipse. So I had to pay £150 (a lot of money for a young adult on his second job) to go on the “Eclipse Express” – in reality, a slow train that took 6 hours to get to Cornwall from London, and had to leave at 0300.

So thus I arrived in Cornwall without much money and no sleep at 0830 – only to realise it was very very cloudy and we couldn’t really see anything at all.

Nevertheless we made our way to a local park that overlooked the sea and watched the sea and clouds as it got darker, and darker, and darker. Birds stopped twittering, it got colder and the bloody street lights came on. In the distance we could see the sun reflected in the sea as it got darker. Then it was all over, and I had to kill time in Cornwall before the train back. In hindsight, I should have just stayed in the pub.

Still, the next major US total eclipse is in 2024 …

Manage Access inconsistencies with Microsoft and Office365

Manage Access inconsistencies with Microsoft and Office365

In my day job, as a SharePoint and Office365 consultant, I now find that I keep having to revise previously-issued advice because Microsoft keep changing the code and what the user is expected to do, without actually telling anyone.

On Friday, we saw that the Manage Access function for documents wasn’t quite working, because it wouldn’t tell you who you had given access to:

So we had to revise our documentation, because it was a fairly useless feature. No point trying to figure out who you’re sharing a document with if you can’t actually see the names.

Fast-forward to Monday morning, and it’s changed so you *can* see who you’ve shared a document with.

Nice change, Microsoft, but you could have just released that function when it was working to begin with…

Problems with the new Jackie Chan & Pierce Brosnan “The Foreigner” movie

Problems with the new Jackie Chan & Pierce Brosnan “The Foreigner” movie

So, at long last, the trailer for the Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan movie, “The Foreigner” (directed by the man who made Goldeneye and Casino Royale) has been unveiled.

As a YouTube commentator wagged, it’s like an Asian Taken!

From the trailer, it looks pretty cool with at least one classic Jackie Chan move remixed, but a couple of things strike me:

– The film is famous for having blown up a London bus on a Sunday afternoon in Lambeth Bridge, alarming a lot of people nearby who didn’t realise it was a film stunt. Given all the effort they went into filming that stunt, it’s surprising it’s not in the trailer. Instead, it’s a more generic urban bombing that appears in the trailer. Maybe they decided to drop that sequence?

– This is probably just me, but I’m just not ready to see Pierce Brosnan playing the bad admin guy.

What do you think?

Lost in music

Lost in music

These days, what with my busy hectic lifestyle (of working and parenting and erm…), I don’t really have time to keep up with cultural trends, and whatnot. We barely manage to go to the cinema to see a non-kids film once a year, and that’s a birthday treat that costs £100 once you factor in babysitting costs. So most of popular culture tends to pass me by.

Then thanks to BBC Radio One‘s Big Weekend, I stumbled upon Tilted by Christine and the Queens (released in the UK in 2016). The silkiest bit of French electro-pop I’ve heard since Desireless’s Voyage Voyage and pretty much everything about it is awesome. The simple but stark video, the dance moves, the insistent beat and you can’t ever really beat having a foreign language whispered seductively into your ears. Even the slightly bizarre English lyrics (“I’m doing my face With magic marker”) can’t stop it just being absolutely amazing.

Then I got a bit obsessed with the track. I played it ten times in a day. I spent a morning devouring wikipedia and Spotify while simultaneously getting butterflies in my stomach… which was dead annoying when I realised I had to give a work presentation later. With that dance move running through my head throughout.

Any hoodles, it’s awesome. Give it a listen.

Swapping Lego Trading cards?

Swapping Lego Trading cards?

If, like us, your household has been sucked into endlessly shopping at Sainsbury’s in an attempt to get more golden Lego trading cards, then you’ll also have amassed a huge collection of duplicates.

In case you want to swap one of your duplicates, for one of our duplicates, then here’s our list of Lego trading card duplicates. Please comment below if you want to do a swap!

The Search for Doctor Who Magazine

The Search for Doctor Who Magazine

In our drive to reduce our possessions and be able to see things like walls and floors in our tiny 2-bed flat, it was gently pointed out to me that I might want to consider getting rid of my precious collection of Doctor Who Magazines. Which have been left to rest covered in dust in a distant corner of the living room.

However, unable to countenance such a vile piece of vandalism without at least the possibility of reading them again someday, I looked on the Internet to see if any kind souls had digitised them.

And lo and behold, a Russian site has PDF copies of what appears to be every single edition of Doctor Who Magazine to the end of 2016! Perfecto!

Except, foolishly, I wasn’t browsing in incognito mode. Thus by the end of the day, every banner advert was kindly telling me that I could find Hot! Russian! Ladies! through their website. I wonder what their stance on the UNIT dating controversy would be…

Next step: to tackle the six boxes of Empire magazine which have been preserved in a distant cupboard…

(It should be noted that I haven’t seen a new episode of Doctor Who for two years… The delights of Hell Bent taunt me still…)

How to get your TVPad4 to play Hong Kong TV channels

How to get your TVPad4 to play Hong Kong TV channels

Like me, you may one day be filled with the need to access Hong Kong TV channels via the Internet, and figure that buying a TVPad 4 is the best way to go about it.

But then when you hook it up to the Internet and your TV, you’ll see … this …


and wonder how on earth to get it to do what you bought it for. Especially if you don’t read Chinese.

Alas, I don’t read Chinese either but have figured out (through some handy friends!) the following:

if you imagine the grid of 9 icons like a telephone keypad ie:


7 is Live TV from Hong Kong (featuring TVB, ATV and CCTV channels)
8 is TV from Hong Kong with a 12-hour delay
3 is playback of live TV channels, channels for 3 days
2 is Hong Kong TV, a relative newcomer to television in Hong Kong
1 is on-demand TV
4 is on-demand movies

But do explore the other icons on the other screens. There’s YouTube and some movies apps that let you watch English-language Hollywood movies.

(Thanks to the folks at Facebook’s British-born-Chinese forum for their help!)

Why do games take so long to update?!

Why do games take so long to update?!

Back in the day, I remembered when games would take at least five minutes to load via cassette on my little 8-bit computer, and I distinctly remember maintaining a list of how long each game would take to load because … well, even then I’d prefer to maintain lists of things. Mind you, back then, I had all the time in the world.

Fast forward about thirty years, and after a fun-but-tiring day of running around with The Kid, I wanted to settle down with a little Grand Theft Auto V action. It had already been installed, so surely it was just a case of putting the disc in, and playing, right?

Err…. no. The dreaded auto-update screen popped up – one you can’t get out of. So I thought “Fine, it needs a quick update, it won’t take long…”

TWO HOURS LATER, and it had finally updated. Just in time for me to go to bed.

And game companies wonder why gaming on the iPad is so appealing to most demographics…

Discussing the end of the world…

Discussing the end of the world…

I used to devour apocalyptic literature – I read a lot of it as a kid, watched many a movie about the end of the world, and even wrote essays about it at University. Back then, it never used to phase me or scare me as a topic – I’d have a kind of horrified fascination with it, and during the height of the Cold War, the End could potentially be no more than four minutes away for the United Kingdom.
Fast forward to now, though, and I’m living in West London and a married father to a kid who really couldn’t even begin to fend for himself for another seven years… so oddly that puts a totally different spin on things. I’m not so much horribly fascinated by “black” topics so much as just horrified and actively repelled by them – so that’s another thing that changes in the transition to fatherhood…
Review of Chipex – a simple three-step car paint touch-up system

Review of Chipex – a simple three-step car paint touch-up system

As you can imagine, living and driving in London does mean your car will get the odd scratch, and my basic hatchback is no exception:

The scratches on my car before the paint was added

Fortunately, Chipex offered to let me test their simple three-step car paint touch-up system, and despite being an utter novice when it comes to car maintenance and care, I thought I’d give it a try.

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