Month: January 2017


So, I didn’t meet last weeks goal of going running 3 times and doing my exercise DVDs twice. I did get part way there though, so its not a complete wipe out. I ran just over 3 miles twice, and I did one DVD.

Go me, I guess? The next goal is to build up on that next week. I’m not going to beat myself up on this week too much, since I feel that I got to over half way to the original goal. To celebrate, I am making cake.

Ok, that’s a lie. I’m not going to make cake to celebrate failing to meet my goal for last week. I’m making cake mainly because I want to make cake, and I don’t have any real reason to be making it beyond ‘I like cake’.

Adulting is hard because cake is delicious.

Last FM and Spotify blues

Once upon a time, I was a subscriber to Last FM. They had an awesome feature that would scan your current music library, and play recommended songs and artists that you haven’t listened to based upon what what music was in your library. You could tailor this by ‘liking’ or ‘disliking’ a song. The great thing about this is that you could listen to this all day long with few repeats, and it was very instrumental in many of my music purchases.

As someone who sits at work all day with my head phones on, this was an awesome way to find music I love that I hadn’t heard before. It was a golden time.

Then, due to reasons (not exactly sure what they are myself), Last FM moved away from a direct streaming of this service to picking up these songs from YouTube. Which just didn’t work due to the sheer number of people of varying degrees of talent covering otherwise awesome tunes, and the fact that the YouTube adverts would occasionally make the service crash. Due to the drop in quality, I rather sadly cancelled my subscription, and subscribed to Spotify instead. While Spotify is a great service, it is sadly lacking in the department of recommending awesomeness to me based upon what I like to listen to. The¬†closest I’ve found is the ‘Discover Weekly’ play list, which is a playlist of 30 songs that are built around music you have listened previously to on Spotify. Sadly, this can be usually be blown through in about 2 hours of listening.

So, while I do like the service Spotify provides, I do find it lacking in terms of how I like to listen to music. I now instead grab any songs I really like from the weekly playlist and bung it into my ‘Kick Arse Music’ playlist – which is the playlist I listen to in shuffle mode throughout the week. This playlist at time of typing this contains 247 songs, and is over 16 hours long.

Any way, the reason I’m writing this post is that this week, the Spotify Discover Weekly play list has actually delivered for the first time in a very long time, and I’ve spent all of the last 2 days listening to a band I’d never heard of before – The Vincent Black Shadow. My current favourite song is Don’t Make Me So Mad, and I’d recommend it to anyone who is a fan of something hard rocky that sounds similar to Gwen Stefani.

Also, I miss the old Last FM service still. It would be awesome if Spotify could just continually stream stuff I may like all day with few repeats like the old Last FM did. But for now, I’ll just keep playing my Kick Arse Music playlist, and cursing the shuffle feature that seems to stick with the same 30 songs every time until I add enough new songs that the music algorithm gets messed up.

Mobile Phone Sadness

Last year, I accidentally nuked my trusty windows phone. Along with my electronic cigarette.

I managed this feat of ineptitude by first plugging in my phone to a newer micro USB cable and mains plug. Finding it odd that my phone immediately rebooted itself after this, in my infinite wisdom I plugged in my electronic cigarette.

Yup, I am occasionally incredibly dumb.

A flash of blue light later, I soon after realised that what I had managed to do was fry the micro USB port on both my phone and my e cig. Meaning that I had lost the ability to charge the battery in both the phone and my e cig.


So, long story short – I was forced to get a new phone. Having endured years of sneers along the lines of ‘Oh, a windows phone?’, and ‘You should get a *proper* phone, like an Android one’, I but the bullet and got myself a Galaxy J3.

About all I have gained from this is a cheaper monthly bill (as I switched tariffs), and access to a greater selection of mobile applications. Everything else? Sorry, I find it lacking in comparison to my old Nokia Lumia.

I found the Windows UI easier to manage – though this is a small hurdle, and I very quickly picked up how to effectively use my new phone.

Other niggles – occasionally, my new phone just refuses to connect to a wireless network it already knows. Or to any. I have to reboot it to fix this.

The Microsoft Health app is constantly pinging my Microsoft Band now – resulting in the battery life of the band being half of what it used to be. I have gone from having to charge it once a day to twice.

I have had to install an application that cleans up all the junk left behind by normal phone usage. I never had this issue on my old Windows Phone.

The major issue I have is how the Android system manages its storage. Granted, a bit of research here would have had me buying a phone with more space on it.

Android has the concept of internal and external storage (so, phone and card). This would be fine. Except the Android OS is actually quite clunky. It insists on having applications on it that I have no use for – yet I’m not allowed to uninstall them. Like Microsoft Office mobile apps.

I am at a computer all day, every day. If I need to use any Office application, I will use my computer. Not my phone. I use dropbox, not one drive. Yet these applications are sitting there, taking up precious internal storage space, not being used, and not allowing me to uninstall them. I have 8GB of internal storage.

What would be nice is if I could move these to my 64GB SD card, along with any app I install. But no. I’m not allowed to do this either.

Even though I have jumped through various hoops to try and make all new down loads go to my rather under-utilised 64GB available storage, Android insists on downloading new content to the internal storage. Of which there is very little left. Only certain applications will allow themselves to be moved to the external storage.

To add insult to injury – any time an app that I have managed to get stored on my SD card updates, it gets moved back over to my internal storage without letting me know. I am now in the habit of checking my SD apps after every update to move them back to my external storage. And even better – I can only move one at a time. And even the small apps take an age to move over.

From reading around this, I need to do 3 things – have my phone running in developer mode, root the phone (and invalidate the warranty), and do a mixture of hacking it myself and installing an internal to external application just to have some control over where my applications will be stored.

This is ridiculous. I never had this problem with my Windows Phone (which also had very limited internal storage). It had ‘Storage Sense’ – which let you pick and choose what got stored where. Such a simple concept.

This level of not having control over my own device is also the text book reason for why I do not use Apple products.

So, to all the snobs out there who mocked my usage of my Windows phone, and that Android is a ‘proper’ phone in comparison. Just no. I’ve used both, from a point of no prejudice, and while the Windows phone apps are lacking in comparison – at least the Windows phone let me have a choice in what is installed on it, and where it is actually installed. Android – I am really unimpressed, and will likely be back to using a windows phone once the contract on this one has run out.

The bottom line is this – I haven’t been able to play Pokemon Go because I apparently lack the storage space due to needing/wanting the apps I have installed. Sad times ūüė¶

Last Years Disappointment

One thing I have been waiting for – ever since I first saw the Red Dwarf episode ‘Better Than Life’ – is Virtual Reality gaming. To give some scope of how long I have wanted this, that is well over half of my life.

In recent years, as technology starts to slowly poke at this, I have had to open myself to being disappointed. Not because the technology is lacking, but because I am physically not suited to it.

The first hint of this I got was the advent of 3D cinema. After about 10 minutes of attempting to watch anything in 3D, I develop a splitting headache, which all too soon becomes that pit of despair known as a migraine.

I figured that I was just unlucky, it was only cinema, and still held a vague hope that I could be alright when the shiny VR stuff becomes more widely available.

Then I got to play with an actual VR headset at a technology museum. It was a roller coaster simulator. I lasted about 3 minutes before my motion sickness became too much to ignore, and I was left feeling nauseous for about half an hour afterwards. I told myself that the technology isn’t all that developed yet, so I could still have hope that future offerings would work some magic that would mean I would not get motion sick.

As you can probably guess, that hasn’t happened. My Dad got the PS4 VR headset offering. I was nervous about giving it a go, but excited all the same. I had a play of a deep sea adventure.

It was stunning. It was thoroughly immersing. Incredible. And I could only take it for about 15 minutes  before the motion sickness started creeping up on me and I developed a splitting headache. I lasted longer than my previous attempt at a VR headset, but 15 minutes is not enough gaming time to fully experience what VR will offer in the future.

Gutted does not even cover how I feel about this. Given some of the issues surrounding the VR world, I can hope that in the years to come this can yet be solved. I know I’m not the only gamer who has encountered this. At the same time, I am now feeling a very genuine fear that I am about to be locked out of a future generation of gaming because I never grew out of my motion sickness (as I was assured by countless adults when I was a child that I would), and my head is prone to attempting to split open when a screen is in my face.

As first world problems go, this is fairly minor. But gaming has been a huge part of my life as long as I can remember – coming to the realisation that I may have to miss out in the future is unsettling and incredibly disappointing. Going forward, I’ll just have to keep hoping that these issues get solved by the people making the hardware, and console myself with the likes of Minecraft and Dark Souls.

Fitness Goals and Inherent Laziness

Last year, I got into the whole lunch time running thing. Then slacked off all through December, because Christmas.

I’m slowly starting to ramp up again. As in, I’ve been for a whole 3 runs this month.

I’m telling myself to up my game. I told myself that I was going for a run last night, but opted to sit under a blanket and watch videos on youtube. I was going to go for a run this morning, but decided it was cold. That said, today is not a total washout – the bloke has decided we should go climbing today after a successful wall climbing venture with the littles last weekend. Today, we’re taking a proper course so we can play on the rock climbing wall of choice without other adult supervision.

Given I slacked off all throughout December (both with the running and fitness DVD’s), venturing back into the world of getting fit hurts. My shoulders and arms are barely recovered from last weeks climbing venture. Granted, this¬†did in part include me dangling from the ceiling and relaxing. I have had to admit that my upper body strength is pretty appalling. So in that regard, this climbing malarkey should do me a world of good, or something like that.

My legs still hurt from running on Thursday. I know the more I do all this, the less it will hurt. However, sitting wrapped up in a warm house, eating cheese sticks with copious amounts of dip in front of the TV is far more appealing. It doesn’t make my muscles hurt. That said, looking at my pre-December run times versus my current run times provides a very stark contrast that I should feel more shame than I actually do over.

I can do better. I’m just being lazy. So, moving forward, I figured I should publicly set some goals. It may be the kick up the bottom I need to get back in to looking after myself properly.

Tomorrow, I will run. I will also run on at least 3 week days next week. I’ll do my DVDs at least twice next week. And I will do a full check in next Saturday¬†so I can be mocked if I fail to actually achieve these things. At this point, that should be enough incentive for me to get off my arse¬†and do things. So, dear readers – please do mock me should my efforts be lacking.

If I do manage to meet these goals for this week, I am rewarding myself with something unhealthy. Probably a Dominos pizza all to myself. Nom.