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AARGH MICROSOFT SUPPORT!!!

"This article applies to a different operating system than the one you are using. Article content that may not be relevant to you is disabled."

No kidding. How about an option to re-enable the disabled content, just in case I'm using another computer to fix the broken one? No? So the answer seems to be to fix the broken PC then use it to read the article that tells me how to fix it.
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And my tummy looks comfortable enough.

Digging.

Apr. 15th, 2011 02:05 pm
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Oh god, now we're doing earthworks. I hate digging. And of course, being at the bottom of the gully, our land is about a foot of topsoil and the rest heavy clay.

I'm going to be so sore tomorrow.
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Brian's dad is staying for a couple of weeks. It's great to spend some time with him and see the dynamic between them, but it's left me exhausted. As someone who is ever so slightly OCD the frequent changes of plans is definitely harshing my calm.

Luckily I can hide in the workshop from time to time. Yesterday I got around to installing the sweet Alpine amp (4x35W + 1x70W) into the van- no more annoying CD head unit, all audio comes straight from my phone and sounds so much better. Possibly helped by the 15" sub I stealthed into one of the rear storage bins.

Today we're off up north to Paihia and Waitangi, the birthplace of modern New Zealand. Kiwis get in free, tourists have to pay $25. Sounds fair to me ;-)
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Mmm Livejournal.

"Discover a global community of friends who share your unique passions and interests"

Not so unique then?
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Kinter 500W 2-channel amplifier! Only $35! Awesome!

Except... how do you get 500W out of 0.5A at 12V? Isn't that more like 3W x2? Surprise surprise- opening up my new, cheap, tiny amp reveals a Sanyo LA4508 integrated amplifier- 8.5W x2 at 24V, closer to 3W x2 at the indicated 12V.

Now, I never expected 500W. Not even 500W peak (there's just no room in the tiny box for the capacitors) but given that the advertiser claimed a real rating of 30W x2 RMS, I think I have grounds for returning it.

Let's see how good the retailer is.
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I'm not handling this well at all. Dear universe: please stop fucking with people I love.

Our dear, sweet Jeff Corich passed away at home last night. Morris called to let me know before I saw it on the internets, which was very kind.

Jeff was the very first person I met in the city (though I'd spent a few days in Napa with the boys). He showed Boof and I around the city in his white Mustang- down Lombard st, up to the good Golden Gate lookout point, and all around the Castro. He arranged dinner for us all and made sure we met all the right gays.

3 months later I returned to SF and Jeff was in a wheelchair- hard to understand, harder to move, and eating through a feeding tube. We caused mayhem. I made him laugh while eating, and the food shot out of the tube and onto the ceiling, as well as all over us. I got the wheelchair wheels stuck in trolley tracks. We went to Starbucks and he had his first coffee in a while- which made him ornery. I dragged (wheeled?) him to Moviebears, where he was treated like the beloved star he was.

In the following years I always enjoyed time with Jeff. We had long (short, but slow) walks in Dolores park. Jeff showed me how to use public transit. We bought dildos that looked much smaller in the shop. We were bitches to Greg at Starbears. Good times.

Every time I've been to San Francisco, I've visited Jeff. And every time I've remembered why I liked him so much. He was genuinely caring and sweet and it shone through, even in his darkest days, when he was most frustrated with himself.

Wonderful people like Jeff don't come along every day, and we've just lost one of the best.

Rest well, Jeff. Oh and keep Beast company, ok?
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September 2005 was my first ever visit to San Francisco. I found I liked Napa and Grass Valley, but the city was a bit busy, impersonal, intense and scary. I think I even hid in my hotel room one day while Matt went out sightseeing and being a dirty poof.

Then Beast came along, and showed me the joy and beauty to be found in San Francisco. From the back of his bike (when I wasn't scrambling to hold on as we accelerated madly at the Treasure Island onramp- naughty Beast!) we saw the reservoirs, beaches, downtown streets, Berkeley, and all the other wonderful sights the city had to offer. We visited bars that had seemed daunting when on my own, but with Beast there I got to see the love and community that I'd been missing. He introduced me to dirty bikers and soggy Rainbows, and rather than being intimidated I felt comfortable.

Looking back at my journal from that time, I see that I was about ready to foolishly write off the US as too big, too intimidating, too impersonal. Not the sort of place I would ever enjoy or fit in. Without Beast's time and care I would likely have gone back to holidaying in Australia, Thailand, Europe, and never have taken the time to get to explore the US. I would certainly not have spent 3 years of wonderful summers exploring, living with Robbie and Fish, riding a bike around the left coast, enjoying Badger with all the dodgy Rainbows, and taking the time to get to know the US.

I likely wouldn't have developed the courage or wisdom to pursue a relationship with my wonderful but woefully US-resident Brian.

It all stems from that first time Beast opened my eyes to the real city. My understanding of what makes San Francisco so beautiful is always going to be bound up with thoughts of him.

I figured I would sort all this out in my head and tell Greg next time I saw him, but sent it in an email yesterday, just in case. Jon read it to Greg in the hospital, and last night we got the dreaded email.

Greg Garcia, our wonderful Beast, passed away peacefully at 2am, surrounded by loving family. Nothing will be quite the same without his happy chuckle and easy smile, and San Francisco is a poorer place without him.
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Oh dear. I'm reading LJ and looking for the 'Like' button.

I'm going to hell.
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Jim Starr's application to use his new all-terrain wheelchair has been declined by the UK's DVLA.

This article in the Daily Mail has more pictures... err, I mean, sums up this injustice.

I wouldn't decline him anything! WOOF!
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So I'm replacing the radiator in the van- after replacing everything else on teh engine, it's only natural that the one part I didn't replace would fail spectacularly. In doing so I also noticed (Here we go... I can hear Brian rolling his eyes) some other things that were less than ideal. Like the hanging out exhaust manifold stud:



which made me very sad. So it was out with the mighty stud extractor (ooh-err!)



and a new set of studs is on its way from Wellington. MIght as well replace them all...

The gaskets on the inlet ducting were slightly sub-optimal too. Something to do with twice the boost level Mr Mitsubishi intended, I suspect. Whatever the reason, they had exploded all about the engine compartment and were leaking boost. Out with the evil silicone form-a-gasket!




Notice, though, that I'm using gasket paper as spacers to hold the joint apart until the silicone is set, and then I'll remove the paper and clamp the joint down. Keeps the silicone under compression and makes for a much stronger seal. Hopefully enough to cope with 20psi.

The other thing I've been working on is bathroom shelves, though that's taken a while longer, seeing as I had to wait for the varnish to dry.




Almost finished, just need to fill the gaps between shelves and wall (the wall isn't perfectly square, so I'm procrastinating on that one)
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Since leaving the AA to sort out some odds and ends, I've been busier than ever. Good busy though, at my own pace. (Which Brian seems to think is a bit manic).

Bear New Zealand is approaching rapidly, and there's a million things to organise. This year I might even remember to make the damn sash!

I've also been building furniture for the bathroom, working on the van, and various other around the house type stuff.

It's nice to have time to do all the work. Now just to make it pay...
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Daft Punk love the original Tron movie, so much so that their latest
music video is an all-out 127min homage to it, complete with their
trademark stunning visuals, intricately choreographed action
sequences, and the barest bones of a plot to justify the 2-hour
duration.

And what a pinched, mean, scrawny narrative it is: SonOfFlynn must
find Flynn, rescue Flynn, and escape the Grid, while evading the
clutches of a rubber Jeff Bridges. Inexplicably there is also a plan
to take over the world, a one-dimensional love interest, and a cute
puppy, none of which have any material bearing on the story.

It's not the plot we're here for, though, is it.

The Grid environment is unrelentingly gorgeous. Dark glossy surfaces
and pristine whites, slashed with neon blue and fanta orange create a
sugar-rush visual for the soaring orchestral score, cascading synth
and gritty beats.

Too much of the epileptic eye candy would rot your brain, but
Tron:Legacy is niceley damped by moments of wholesome acting and
kludgy narrative. From the beginning when an awkward voiceover takes
the edge off the heady overture, to the end where the character who
has never seen the sun rides outside *with her eyes closed*, the nasty
reality of making a Hollywood film keeps the audience from getting too
carried away in the shiny fantasy and hypnotic beats.

As a film, then, Tron:Legacy falls disappointingly flat. But as a
masterful, absurd, 2-hour Daft Punk music video, it is nothing short
of awesome.
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It must be christmas- Wing is back, and she's been hitting the festive spirits hard.

AA advice

Dec. 6th, 2010 10:32 am
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There's an article on the AA website today about buying a used vehicle. It's generally a common sense guide, nothing too out of the ordinary, but the entire article is sabotaged by a couple of simple errors:

-Peugeots. Apparently they're good if you want a small diesel vehicle. And yes, Peugeot's diesel engines are pretty good, but unfortunately to get one you have to buy the rest of the Peugeot too. Which means you're buying a lifetime of random electrical failures and unidentified plastic components rolling around in the footwell.

-BMW 3-series compact. According to the article they're "well worth a look", but they forgot to mention that the reason for looking is so that you know what to avoid. *NEVER* buy a BMW compact. They have the silly plastic water pumps that fall apart, they have low trim and spec levels, and they're based on the heavy old E36 chassis. The later E46 shape are as expensive to maintain as the sedan, and fall apart just as readily.

-Electronics in Singaporean imports. Avoid totally? Well, apart from avoiding ANY Mercedes from 1992-2006, you only need to avoid German vehicles manufactured between 1993 and 1997. That's when the government had the clever idea that wiring insualtion should be biodegradable. Not an issue in a cold, dry country, but not so great in hot, humid Singapore.

Unfortunately there's no byline on the article, so i'm not sure of it's pedigree. One thing's for sure though, it's got the breakdown call centre laughing...
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It's christmaas tree time! The sparkle of lights, the wrapped presents underneath, the smell of pine on Digit's breath from where he's been chewing the tree...

No that we've bought our tree yet. We're currently making do with Brian's plastic tree, which is more akin to a green toothbrush than anything that grows in nature.

Brian's doing planning to Frankenstien his 110v christmas lights to make them work on 240v, but is a little nervous about cutting them up first. I offered to help but all he could say was "Cut the green wire!" which wasn't very helpful.

Funky

Nov. 29th, 2010 12:03 pm
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I've been in a bit of a funk lately, possibly due to the working week getting me down, plus the post-winter aches in my fingers and knees.

I had a good day yesterday though, finished work at 4pm and, rather than having a nap, Brian and I tinkered in the workshop- Brian fitting the router to the router table, I making progress on the camperisation of the Delica.

Slow progress. Precision fitting flat panels of MDF into an old van made of wobbly steel is a bit time consuming, and I haven't made it any easier by specifying that it must all be mounted to friction-fit brackets for quick and easy removal. It also gets more complicated as it progresses, as I think of better ways to do everything. (Like "Wouldn't it be neat if the rear aircon could be operated from in bed, for a nice breeze while you sleep. Hmm. Better mount the controls above the bed platform" and "The sunroof needs a flyscreen over it for sleeping with the top open" and "if I reshape this panel i can use the rear aircon as an impromtu hot/coolbox" and "I think the rear door should have a mirror ball mounted in it, for impromptu discos")

Nothing wrong with impromptu discos.

PArts!

Oct. 28th, 2010 03:21 pm
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The one-toothed Japanese grandmother who was chewing my oil pump drive sleeve out of a block of cast iron has finally finished. My mission for tomorrow morning is to get the engine in the van running, and move the damn thing out of the garage.

This will make me happy. It will probably make Brian much happier.
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I just spent a delicious 5 hours modifying my wee Sony Vaio C1-MT, installing a USB hub, WiFi card and Bluetooth card internally. This involved soldering wrapping wire to pads so tiny I had to use a microscope to make sure I wasn't bridging any.

And the damn thing works! The internal WiFi card, having no outside antenna, gets fairly poor reception, but it works fine for around the house. The bluetooth connects to the PCMCIA bluetooth mouse without drama, and the whole thing is a couple of pounds lighter thanks to removing various unneccesary circuit boards (Memory stick reader, anyone?) and the old hard drive (replaced with a CF card).

It even runs snappily, thanks to puppy Linux.

I was so pleased with myself I celebrated by ordering a new Macbook Air. (Thanks Wulf!!)
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The ongoing saga of the Van is becoming a bit tiresome- the essential engine part that's coming from Japan is now only 1 week away, whereas 2 weeks ago it was 2 weeks away. It's a little frustrating and if I hadn't already paid for the part I would be at the wreckers buying a second hand one. Maybe.

Still, I'm getting a chance to restore all the ugly, faded, scratched interior panels. The wonders of naugahyde and contact adhesive- it's going to be relatively beautiful, for a 20-year old van.
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