Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Almost a week in Carlisle...

What ho, blog. It's me, the author of this blog, writing again. I do that, every so often, you know.

I'm sitting in my house feeling very domestic, and kinda lonely.

House did I say? Yes indeed. It's a fair sized place, 3 bedrooms, dining room, kitchen, sitting room, bathroom, etc, etc. And only 2 of us living here at the mo. And my housemate is frequently gone, filming abroad or doing a bunch of conferences for "J John". I'll be helping with that from next week.

Anyway, I'm feeling very domestic as I just made meself a slightly over-large mexican meal, so feel kinda stuffed, and have done the washing up, and have a load of washing in the machine, making churney sorts of noises at me, as those machines have a want to do.

I've been here in Carlisle for about 6 days, and it's been a very random week. I arrived Tuesday evening, and this dutch bloke, one of my new colleagues, gave me a quick tour of 'the shed' where we work (an old bus hanger that they've taken over and have a bunch of OB-trucks (Outside Broadcast), busses, and so on and offices in.

My housemate, and most of the people who work in 'the shed' were out doing the first of these conferences for J John, and so were not around. So I was wandering around this house, making myself at home, buying fruit and stuff, in someone elses house, whom I'd never met. Weird feeling, to be sure!

Wednesday and Thursday we had a set of "fund raising training" seminars we had to attend, with the whole staff of our company here in Carlisle (quite a lot, about 30 or so), and a few others from other groups about the place. So that was lots of sitting around and classroom stuff, basically.

The conference people had got back very early Thursday morning, and were asleep most of the day, but then we met up that evening, and basically most of the single guys who work at the shed came and invaded our house, we cooked some pizza, and watched a stupid rubbish movie.

(If anyone offers to watch "You, me, and Dupree", don't. It's a waste of time, vulgar, and so totally down-the-line american comedy it's just not funny. Virtually no american comedies are really funny, but this one is just resoundingly boring. About the *only* redeeming feature, and this doesn't by any way redeem so far as to make it worth while, is that the young married couple don't get a divorce, decide at the end to stick togeather, and that their guy friend doesn't have sex with either of them. Bleh.)

Hey, the pizza was alright.

Friday was my first "real" work day, I got myself a tiny wee office, have a funky mac book pro to work on, with Final Cut Pro Studio on it, and was editing/top and tailing the footage from the J John conference, so we can make a DVD and sell this week's talk at next week's conference. This is apparently going to be one of my tasks while I'm here. Not too difficult, but took me waaaaay longer than it should have done. I guess I'm just out of practice, and trying to get my bearings in the office, and all. I'll get the footage from this week on Thursday, so hopefully can get this one finished a lot faster.

Saturday I set off very early on the train, and after 4 hours and a changeover in Glasgow got to Edinburgh about 10 am. There I met two of my old close ex-Doulos friends, and spent Saturday and Sunday hanging out with them, and seeing Edinburgh. One of them is working in Cardiff, and had flown up for a long weekend, and the other is studying at Uni. in Edinburgh. One of her friends was out for the weekend seeing his girlfriend, so I was able to stay in his room at the upstairs flat in this student accommodation.. Very nice! Small rooms, very Logos Hope cabin-ish, except 1 person and 1 tiny bathroom per "cabin". But really modern, clean, cool places. I kind of felt "wow, if this is what 1st year student accommodation is like, I'd kinda like to be a student!".

Then again, my housemate is out still, so I'm basically sitting here in my own complete house, which is also really nice, so I can't really complain or anything!

I'm also more likely to end up on Logos Hope, actually, which is pretty similar, cabinwise.

We met up with a few other ex-Doulos people, and also the Logos Hope advanced preparation "line-up" team for Edinburgh. We ate lunch together at a pub, and then my two friends and I went for icecream, and then wandered back to the train station, where I caught a train back to Carlisle at 18:45.

Strangely enough, the train back took about 1 hour. 4 hours to get to Edinburgh, 1 hour to get back, and the same price both ways. Funny British train systems!

Today, Monday, we went in to "The Office", which is where the rest of our company people in Carlisle - mostly admin, finance, and computer techies - who are not with the media group in "The Shed" work. There we had devotions, and then I met up with the Personnel bloke, who got me some money, and so on.

So. That's been my week. Pretty mixed up, so far, and also pretty relaxing. I'm sure once I get more involved in stuff, it'll get busier, but for now, it's quite chilled out.

We officially get whole week-ends off here! It's quite exciting, after the Doulos 6 day 50-something hour week. Again, of course, when it's very busy I'm sure I'll be working harder and longer, but hey, I'm enjoying it now. :-)

Just thinking about it, I've been travelling a lot, recently. Sunday I was in Edinburgh, the sunday before we spend most of the day in the Troodos Mountains of Cyprus, the Sunday before that we were in Cairo, and the Sunday before that I was in Famagusta in North Cyprus.. wow.

Anyway, so, I'm off to make some hot chocolate and cook a small apple pie I bought, so while I'm enjoying them, here are a few pictures from Edinburgh for you to enjoy. Scotland really is beautiful, and Edinburgh is a cool city. I hope I get a chance to go back there at least once before I head back to the ship.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

New Template up and running. Perhaps.

As well as the Cairo Curse, I'm also having to put up with the Curse of Being a Web Designer.

That is to say, never being happy to leave something well enough alone.

Anyway, on this machine the blog looks fairly happy now, using the new blogger template system, and some new stuff I'm playing with.

Some random geek knowledge for you:

The traditional/oldschool method of introducing new technologies/research,  or protocols for public use was to write an "RFC" or "Request For Comments".

Basically those were (usually) longish documents available online freely, waaay back even on ARPANET, and have shaped the internet as we know it today.

More information about RFCs can be found on the wikipedia.

What was the reason for this brief history lesson?

Well, none at all, really. Except that I would like to request comments on the new theme / style of this blog. Any comments?

(yes, I know the images are missing from the side-bar. I'll try and code a new sidebar image thingy tomorrow in perl or something so I can get the more modern pics too...)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Last week in Cyprus blues...

Well, we're back in Cyprus. Egypt was fun,  I like Cairo.  I don't like the Cairo Curse however.

The Cairo Curse is the euphamism for a local stomach bug which quite a few people seem to get.

I got it.  Woke at 4am on the day we were travelling back, and wished I hadn't.  Not a very pleasant day, all in all. Anyway, I'm mostly recovered, I guess. Still don't feel to wonderful, and realised today I leave Cyprus in 7 days.  So that means I have a heck of a lot of stuff to do.

So I started doing the ones I can manage without leaving my room, speaking, or walking too far.  Such as updating my blog to the new blogger template system... Alas, it's all going a bit pear-shaped right now, and as I have to finish making a slideshow for tonight (I'm doing a Doulos presentation thingy at the Anglican church "upper room", if anyone sees this and is interested, 7pm, all welcome....), and the template thingy didn't quite back up all as I wanted it to, it may take a bit longer for me to update to the new template than I hoped.

 So if the site looks a bit of a mess at the moment, I'll get it fixed and pretty for tomorrow.

I'll also blog about Egypt as well.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Preview of waterman video

OK, so here's the project I did yesterday and this morning for fun. I like keynote.

It'll be much better, the timing is rubbish, and audio isn't very good, and the graphics are in need of much work, but I'll be away for the next 4 days, so I'm sure the vast community of brummieatsea readers will tear it to pieces by the time I'm back.

(may or may not work. try again if it doesn't. Google video doesn't seem so reliable with this for some reason)

More photos, and not much time left

Dear readers,

I've found that blogger has kindly been putting my photos I upload here to the blog into a "Picasa Web Album.". Wasn't that kind of them? So, it's possible to look at all the pics in one place. Very spiffy.

The link is right here:
It also can do flash slideshows and all sorts. So I'll be playing with that. I need to update this blog design a bit anyway.  I also will try and write a perl script to make the picasa album appear as the old fliker one does in the sidebar ->.

I don't have much time left in Cyprus.  We're going as a family to Egypt this evening, for 4 days, and then after that I leave about 5 days later.  Kind of scary how fast time has flown.

Then it's off the UK for 2 months, then to Doulos.
Here's another couple of boat/sailing sketches. The one on the left could be a Wayfarer, but the one on the right is way bigger.

I've been trying to make a video about Doulos to show later this week (once I'm back from Egypt) to people, and will probably post some of that later on.

I'm not very happy with Apple right now..  I had to reinstall the computer *again*. That's like 7 times since I got back from Doulos. Why? Well, many of the times is not Apple's fault, it's true.  I did replace the hard-drive, with a bigger one. That was moderately monstrous. They really hide those hard-drives well inside the poor laptops. Virtually impossible to get out.  Anyway, the reason I had to this time was because I upgraded to Leopard, but alas, half my software doesn't work properly with it.  It's a much nicer OS than tiger (looks-wise, but also technology like Quick-View, Spaces, and so on.

The version of Garageband that came with my laptop (only 3 years ago) doesn't work with Leopard. I'm supposed to pay for the upgrade, which I've read may not work on this old a mac. This old?! Good grief.

Then Final Cut Express 4 doesn't capture video properly on Leopard.  It does about 3 mins, and then freezes.

Also Protools doesn't work (even though I don't have a copy, we were using it at the office for the show of Esther audio last month, and had to keep a Tiger machine around to use it...).


However, Apple Keynote is a very nice programme. I've used it to make some presentations, about Doulos, and now I'm actually working on an animation about the ship.  It's so basic, for animation. Almost too basic, I think I'm kind of pushing it's limits, but it works.  Once I'm done, I'll post the video here.

I really have so little time left, and so many ideas and projects I wish that I'd spent more time in.  Part of me feels really worried that I've wasted this time, and not used it as I could.  On the other hand, I have this other either lazy, or else wiser, part of me saying 

"There's *always* good projects about mate, and if you try to do all of them, all the time, you'll never get any of them done, and, you'll burn out.  This is the only time you'll get for just reading and reading and hanging out with your family and cats, so enjoy it."

Oh well. I need to start cleaning up my desk...

Saturday, April 05, 2008

I saw 2 ships come sailing in ...

I'd like to spend a few minutes waxing lyrical about ArtRage2.
This is one of the coolest programmes I've seen in a long time. It's a computer art / painting package, is relatively cheap ($25 USD), and very easy to use. Here are a few of my latest works:

Which is my dad and I sailing, on his boat. (Wayfarer, MK2). And...

I feel kinda homesick for the big ol' rust bucket named Doulos. Both from memory, (well, I did check the number on the sail for the wayfarer, and I did have to check where the name was painted on in relation to the Anchor (sad!), but other than that, no ref. photos or anything.)

Thursday, April 03, 2008

I was just up in Famagusta over night, meeting the Anglican church there who've been praying for me while I'm on Doulos. I'm slowly putting together a video about Cyprus, and so while there was able to get some photos and a bit of video footage which hopefully I can use.

Cyprus is beautiful. The Anglican church there meets in an old old church which has been in disrepair for quite a while, and now is actually a cultural centre for the university, or something like that. So there are plenty of old icons around.

We've been out sailing a few times now, it's great. The boat is pretty well amazing with all the new ropes and such we've put on it.

Here's a quick photo of the Out-haul on the mainsail (the yellow lines and tackle which pull the sail out along the boom, making it slightly wider, and the shape flatter, which can help to get ripples out of the sail, thus improving the shape, and speed, take a bit of power out of the sail in heavy winds, and so on.)

Dad's quite happy with it all, but alas last Saturday when we went out sailing, the waves were very big, and while coming back in we managed to damage the centreboard (the big wooden thing I spent time sanding and varnishing a few weeks back). So now we've taken that out again, and today I've added some glass-fibre filler stuff, and will try and finish it back to decent shape again by this Saturday. Yes, I did leave it a bit late.

Last Saturday's sailing was fun though. We and our sailing friends went out only for about an hour, and crossed pathes a few times while tacking, so when we did the first time, I put on my best piratey third-mate voice and roared "Port side cannon teams 1 3 and 5 fire a full broadside! Naaar!" and then the next time we crossed, they made cannonball flying and splashing noises, so just as they passed us, again I shouted "All torpedo tubes togeather, fire!"

So. There you go.

3 weeks until I'm back to work, for a while I'll be in the UK working at the office there doing mediary things, and learning stuff to bring back to the ship.

Still almost 3 months 'til I'm on Doulos again though.