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I bet you were expecting pumpkin photos

Yeah.

Me too.

On Sunday night I started with a scratchy throat. I went into work, even though I'm a believer in people not spreading their germs all around the workplace. Why? I don't mix, socialise, etc. So the only place I'm really likely to have got the lurgy is from work. And I have three potential candidates, all of whom were clearly unwell, all of whom were coughing with no masks.

By Monday... let's just say that I came home on Monday. I did something, don't remember what, and then I decided "hell with this" and went to bed. Like, 8pm. No dinner, nothing.

Slept until six when the alarm went off.

Rinse and repeat for Tuesday. Halloween? Samhain? Sorry, about the closest I got was watching "Totally Killer", an odd time-travel story starring whats-her-name from the Netflix Sabrina series.

On Wednesday, thankfully, a day off. I went to the church. Oh my god, it was plague central. And not a mask in sight. Either people learned nothing from Covid, or the congregation is so fed up of the shitshow that passes for reality these days that they're only too eager to find out if there's an up there and a down there.
Oh, wait, they're Catholic. So for them there's also a take a ticket and wait in line forever.

For my part, I took a mask but I didn't need it. While I can and do cough, it's not a big thing. This is mostly gunked up head with a side order of dizzy. Plus I've discovered a really weird hack that makes the coughing stop, especially those times when an irritation causes a cough which irritates which causes a cough which...

Early Thursday morning, like 3am or something, I woke up feeling like I was covered in sweat and bouncing from cold to boiling hot. I wasn't dizzy, so I got up and made a tea. I think that point is what mom would call "the fever breaking"... not that I was aware that I had a fever.

Thursday and Friday were difficult days at work. Lots of absences, stuff had started to pile up, and, well... more days when I'm not doing my stuff because I'm doing other stuff.

I'm not 'right', but I feel better. This is definitely the recovery phase now. Once I've finished writing all this and upload it, I'm going to go make myself a cheeseburger. Then I think I'll sit in bed to eat it while idly scrolling through the list of movies to watch, until I'm too tired to watch any.

Still, I figured that whatever I got would hit hard because the last time I got smacked down by a bug was the nasty one that stole a week just before Covid kicked off.
Oh, don't worry, it's not a premonition for Covid 2.0, that time I had vertigo to the point where I was practically falling out of the sky while lying in bed and between the confusion and the hallucinations, stuck in bed was probably the best place for me.
This time? I just felt like death lightly browned on one side. Which is normal, I'm a guy and it's been scientifically proven that for us Y-chromosome people, flus and bugs and such hit harder. So there. ☺

Anyway, here's the pumpkin. I didn't hollow it out. You either put the light inside on the night of the 31st, or you don't bother. (note to self: does the spirit world know about leap years?)

Pumpkin
Pumpkin.

I was aiming for a snarky "Oh, dude, no. Just no." expression. Which given the current weather seems to be appropriate.

 

The terrible storm

Listening on the radio to people saying how they've never seen anything like it.

I have.

October 1987.

Google it.

Fair enough, massive widescale flooding wasn't such a thing back in those days. The fact that it seems to happen so much now is possibly down to a dereliction of duty regarding waterway management and allowing homes to be built on flood plains. However, I'll tell you, in the course of one night vast swathes of the British countryside were destroyed. Near my boarding school was a big old forest. Those of us who sucked at football used to get sent to run a circuit through it every PE lesson.
I would, offhand, estimate that maybe - if I'm being generous - a mere fifth of it was still standing. The rest? Devastation. Trees not so much blown over as torn out of the ground and thrown by angry trolls.
I used to go for walks in the forest on Saturdays after school (firstly, this was back in the eighties when free range children were still a thing; and secondly if I wanted to avoid being prey for paedophiles then out alone in the deep dark woods was arguably much safer than inside the school building). I didn't go for walks after the storm. It was just too damn depressing. What used to be dark and secluded and... well... woodslike... was left after the passage of the tractors and diggers used to clean up the mess looking like a disused quarry. Muddy barren land, completely open. They had been planting saplings, but I knew - even as a child - that I'd be long dead before it ever looked the way I remembered it.
I'm just sad that I never thought to take photographs. I guess we have a habit of taking our environment for granted, until one day it changes and no matter how much we might wish, it'll never be the same.

I've just had a look on Google Maps. The forest is recovering (it's been 36 years...), but looking at the photos it's nowhere near as dense as it used to be.

 

Redmi Note 12 Pro

I fear that this is the way the world is going, that even the standard built-in apps (such as File Manager) will briefly pause what you're doing in order to advertise some crap that you're not interested in (often a mindless game). A curse on all their houses.

Setting up the phone was... interesting. I plugged the USB cable into my previous Xiaomi phone, found my OTG adaptor (one wasn't supplied here) and plugged that and the other end of the cable into this new phone.
Google then started an app on both sides that allowed for data to be copied. So I copied my music collection and some of the apps that I use most frequently.

The music copied fine. The apps... seemed to have sort of vanished. Which wasn't a great start.

Now, along the way Xiaomi offered to install a load of mindless shovelware (Candy Crust, Royal Match, etc etc). Now, I don't know if I succumbed to a dark pattern or if it just ignored my choice, but it began installing that crap anyway.
Even worse, it uses some undocumented back door into Google's app store so while it was quite willing to tell me "3 of 19 applications installed", it was quite unwilling to show me these applications or allow me any control over the installation process. The only apps it would show me were the ones I had picked and installed myself.
I found the only way to abort this was to call up the Recents, go into the Play Store settings, and wipe all data (not just the cache). This made it forget that it had been instructed to download all that rubbish.

MIUI looks and feels mostly the same, once you've turned it back to the classic mode with slide up app drawer. The default is to pile your home screens full of all the installed apps, which is the sort of ugly mess that my first Android phone did well over a decade ago. I suppose it suits people with no clue and no attention span, but still, for those of us that like to put icons of things in certain places...
When it comes to widgets, MIUI is trying hard to push it's own glossy crap with "Recommended themes" and "Popular videos". Sorry, but I find the fact that I can paste a popular video onto the home screen to be, well, horrific.
If you want the standard selection of widgets, you need to scroll most of the way down the list to find "Apps with multiple widgets", tap on "All", and at the bottom of the screen tap on "Android widgets". Then you can see the widgets offered by non-Mi apps. That's really harder than it should have been.

In terms of tech, it's an octo-core MediaTek Dimensity 1080. This means there are 6 Cortex-A55 cores running at up to 2GHz, and two Cortex-A78 cores that can run up to 2.6GHz. Normal idle speeds are 500MHz and 650MHz respectively. And, of course, these days it's a 64 bit OS.
The GPU is a Mali-G68 MC4 driving a 6.67" OLED panel with a resolution of 1080×2400 refreshed at 120Hz. The pixel density is 394dpi. In terms of size and resolution, it's pretty much the same as the IPS LCD on the older Mi 10T. Aida64 doesn't say anything about GPU speed.

Memory is 6MB RAM and 128GB of Flash, though that's more like 104GB once you include the OS (10.14GB) and "storage necessary for system operation" (8.93GB), and - bizarrely - 2GB reserved for "Memory extension". This is basically implementing swap memory. Who the hell implements swap memory on a flash based storage? It's nonsense. I've just turned it off and rebooted.
MIUI 14 is based on Android 12, this in this device has the security update of 2023/07/01. There is a slightly later update (to August 2023, note it's now November!) and this "Android security patch" is around 4.5GB, so clearly it is more than just a patch much of a patch given its mammoth size. I'm looking in the Download app (after a brief advert!) and it's telling me that my download is being received at 749kB/s. Yeah, I'll leave you to figure out how one gets that sort of speed from a three megabit ADSL link. I reckon somewhere in the ballpark of four hours.

This model only supports one SIM, though annoyingly Android's SIM status doesn't give any indication of this, simply reporting that SIM 2 isn't set. Phones these days don't tend to support µSD cards when they have 128GB onboard, however making a comeback here is the 3.5mm audio socket.
Internally, the usual global positioning, Bluetooth, WiFi 2.4/5GHz, tilt/turn/position/movement sensors, the obligatory torch, and (as with the previous Xiaomi), an IR emitter that I find useful for controlling stuff.

I'm not going to run benchmarks. I don't care. Whether it can run complicated mathematical equations faster or slower than other devices bears little resemblance to how it feels in use. It's responsive enough. The prime problem I'm having is that the wall here has absorbed a lot of dampness from the massive amounts of rain we've had recently. This makes it something of a barrier against WiFi signals. While I don't think this phone is going to win any awards for being able to hang on to a weak WiFi signal, the other phones I have were also suffering.
I've just bought myself a second Vonets WAP-11G 300. I think I'll hang this up by the fusebox so it can pick up signals from the Livebox and beam them through the bedroom door, which ought to be much less of an impediment than the metre thick wall. I do have a little media sharer device sitting there, but the thing drops connections so much it is next to useless.
I've just factory reset it and reconfigured everything. Let's see if this is any improvement?

Now for the screen.

Screenshot from Hollyblood
Screenshot from Hollyblood (Netflix).

Vibrant colours. Deep blacks with pleasing whites. A good level of contrast so the images are vivid rather than washed out. No obvious flicker. It's quite a nice screen to watch movies on.
I know it won't last forever - that's what the 'O' in OLED means. However for now, since it's new, it works and it works well.

If we macro in, we can see the pixel arrangement.

Close-up of screen
Close-up of screen.

It looks as if it might be some sort of diamond matrix (possibly RGGB) with additional white (so, RGGBW?). Suffice to say even short-sighted me doesn't see the pixels.

This leaves only one thing... the cameras. As with the previous phone, there are three cameras. A regular semi-wide, a very wide, and a macro.
The main camera can take photos up to 50 megapixels. In normal use the photos (with full width or 20:9 selected) are 4096×1840 (so about 7½ megapixels). For more traditional (4:3) aspect images the camera will do 4096×3072 (about 13 megapixels), though that aspect just looks a bit weird to me now. It's a shame photobooths don't support doing wide aspect images (especially as the photo paper is on a roll), but then 150×100mm photo paper is, what, 3:2 aspect? That doesn't match digital cameras either. It's a bit of a mess, really.

The 50 megapixel mode is a special mode that outputs images that are 8196×6144 pixels. Judging by the blurring of a barcode on a photo I just took, I suspect this is using interpolation to try to double up the actual hardware resolution of the camera (which isn't 50 megapixels). How well it works will depend upon the image, though I can't help that maybe it's a bit of a gimmick?

Here's a photo taken with the 5.59mm (equivalent focal length of 24mm) main camera.

There's supposed to be a dam/waterfall here
There's supposed to be a dam/waterfall here.

In terms of video: 720p at 30fps, 1080p at 30 or 60fps, and 4K (or 2160p) at 30fps; able to record in H.264 or H.265. The 720p and 1080p/30fps options include software image stabilising. 60fps/4K not tested.

Colours seem okay, and there's a pro mode for fiddling with stuff. It supports the usual range of long exposure options, including the ability to make star trails. The imager pixels are apparently 1.0µm which should offer greater night shots, but again this wasn't tested. Well, I lie, I took a photo outside in the dark with just a few stars visible. Cameras these days are pretty good, but not as good as our eyes...so the result was the obvious rectangle of black. ☺

The next camera is the ultrawide. 1.66mm (eq. focal length 16mm), and offering images that are 3264×1472 (4.8 megapixels at 20:9; or 3246×2448/8mpix full frame), this can bring a lot more into view, albeit with some distortion. Here's a photo from the exact same place as before.

Wide angle view
Seeing more doesn't always make a better photo.

When recording video, the wide angle camera only supports 720p/1080p at 30fps.

The final camera is the macro camera. This one can only record video at 720p 30fps as full frame it's only 1600×1200 (1.9 megapixels), or a somewhat less impressive 1600×720 (1.15mpix) when used in 20:9 full width aspect. To put this into context, the Mi 10T does full width macros that are 2560×1152. So the macro imager provided in the Redmi Note 12 Pro is a bit of a toy. 1600×1200 is what one gets out of an ESP32 camera!

Here's an example.

Oh, hello!
Oh, hello!

 

I rather imagine this is a phone aimed at young people who want an affordable way to waste their lives playing dumb games. A phone that isn't a flagship, isn't trying to be a flagship, but doesn't totally suck. It is responsive and the display is nice. Since I wasn't expecting to be buying a phone and I didn't really need one (*) and I'm only really planning on using it for Netflix......well, that's good enough for me.

* - disclaimer: if I renew my 24 month phone contract without a new phone, or if I just keep it going without tacit renewal, the price does not change. So I might as well benefit from the offer to get a cut-price partially subsidised phone. Yes, I know full well that the rest of the price is rolled into the contract, but as I hope I've made clear, I'm paying that whether I get a phone or not. So might as well attempt to come out a little less behind, right?

 

The obligatory political observation

At first I thought it would be interesting to see in the next election how many older people (traditionally Tory voters (but not exclusively, not every pensioner is a delusional twat!)) would continue voting for the True Blue party, their double chins shuddering as they mumble something incoherent about "getting Brexit done" even though, by then, it'll be seven or eight years since the referendum.

Why? Because the Covid enquiry. Particularly the part where far too many ministers felt that "let the crusties die" was the appropriate response. Sure, we can have long discussions about whether the things that took place were correct, and what damage the lockdowns inflicted upon the country, but one thing that a government is supposed to do is to support its citizens. When it takes the attitude of essentially sacrificing a demographic, well, that's not good.

Then, sadly, I went and looked at the Daily Mail. And... endless articles about that bloke from Friends who just died, something about Nadine Dorries' new book, how That Bitch In The Home Office wants to stop charities handing out tents to homeless people (how about it, Cruella, how about finding them places to stay? too much like compassion?), and - of course - a lot of undying support for Israel and mocking the UN for daring to suggest that a proportional response to an attack by Hamas might not involve the deaths of nearly four thousand children (as appears to be the case right now). As for the Covid enquiry? Silence.

Well, what I've seen so far demonstrates a group of self-interested heartless people who are about as caring as Braverman and about as competent as Truss. Maybe that's why the pro-Tory media isn't reporting on it?
I note that there's no Jonathan Pie video reporting on any of this. I bet even he'd have a hard job, given that his recent videos haven't been so much satire as simply exploding at the hopeless stupid mess that a former superpower has got itself into.

Speaking of hopeless stupid messes, it looks as if Labour is getting itself tied up in knots over the Israel/Gaza situation. Which suggests that Labour is essentially unfit to govern. Is there anti-semitism here? Dunno, but we'll argue with ourselves for a few years to find out. What's our position on Gaza? Dunno, but we'll argue with ourselves for a few years to find out. What consitutes "female" in the 2020s? Dunno, but we'll argue with ourselves for a few years to find out.
What they need is a leader and a coherent shadow cabinet that is united in how they think, and discuss things like this in private in order to present a united front. That way they seem like a competent alternative to the excess and mismanagement of the Tories. Instead, we've had the massive dereliction of duty where Labour preferred to argue amongst themselves whether or not Jeremy Corbyn was any good rather than make any attempt to tone down the Brexit rhetoric. Even now they're pointedly refusing to acknowledge the elephant in the room. Maybe it's shame, given that they effectively sat on their arses and let the Tories screw this one up? And now? Oh look, more bloody squabbling.

So, then, a Labour party that can't agree on their own policies and a Labour party that doesn't seem to know what policies it wants beyond "not the Tories" and a right wing press that is pointedly downplaying or just omitting mention of the scandalous details of the Covid enquiry...

...it's nonsense like that that'll see us though another five years of Tory mismanagement.

I would dispair, but I have my own worries, like exactly what sort of government France will elect soon. The right wing is strong here, but then traditionally right wings are strong because they promise the moon on a stick, blame the foreigners, and say that giving them power will make everything better; and people are so fed up with the way things are that they don't bother to try to think rationally any more.

For example - the place I work. Lots of interim workers. They're almost all Romanians. Now, is this because of a massive influx of eastern Europeans stealing French jobs (as I'm sure the right would say) or is it because the French just aren't falling over themselves to do hard, often boring, work for what's basically minimum wage? Many of us feel undervalued, underpaid, and underappreciated. Is it any wonder people just decide not to bother coming to work there any more? That, right there, that's what the problem is. Not random foreigners "stealing" jobs. There are loads of jobs available. But, there are loads of jobs that will only offer the bare minimum necessary to be legal, which means that for people with ambitions in life, or maybe just liking to start a family, those sorts of jobs are inadequate. They'll make you a wage slave, nothing more. The reason why the Roms like those sorts of jobs is that they can work there a few months, then move on someplace else to do a different job elsewhere. They'll have that experience, but also the freedom of not being stuck in a rut. And, for what it's worth, the company took on the interim agency to find these people exactly because their recruitment drive (so-called "job dating") pretty much fell flat. People, these days, maybe they're entitled, but they're like "You want me to be here at five in the morning to stand here for seven hours putting the proverbial cherry on top of the proverbial cake and all for minimum? Yeah, okay boomer, bye bye."

However, when those whose eyes shudder with madness get up and stand behind the pulpit, it's just so much easier to scream "foreigners!" in much the same way that people once screamed "witches!". All that remains to be seen is how many people get duped. Thanks, no doubt, to unrestricted social media and international meddling, there are no longer any moderate parties worth a damn. It's all so extreme now. You're a Commie or you're a Nazi, there's no in-between any more. No place for discussion, no place for compromise.
And that worries me.

 

 

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jgh, 5th November 2023, 00:56
The difference this year to the storm of 1987 is that we've had rain and rain and rain and rain and rain and rain and rain and rain continuously. 1987 was overnight and done, here it's not been raining continuously for 23 days so far. I'm near the top of a hill. The 18 inch stone walls of my house are now so saturated the inside is damp. My tenant had water creeping over the top of their window frame, I've had it crawling under my door, the timber portico over my shop is falling apart, my garden shed has literally *dissolved*. The lawn has turned into a bog. It's not storm or flood damage, it's just continuous relentless rain.
jgh, 5th November 2023, 13:36
Dammit, that should, of course, say: has *now* been raining....
Anon, 5th November 2023, 13:57
Rick - what the hell were you doing in a church? And how did you not spontaniously combust?
David Pilling, 5th November 2023, 14:43
Rick - best wishes for getting rid of the lurgy. 
 
All the rest is too problematical e.g. Boris set out to kill the crusties, but the young were the biggest losers - just shows how incompetent he was. 
 
Biggest weather events here 1977, 1999, 2005, 2021. Outside this area no one will remember or care. 
 
I recall being on a railway station in Manchester in 1987, people coming off trains were saying it was so bad in the South. Felt happy it was not here and went home for my tea. 
Rob, 5th November 2023, 14:55
Glad to see you made it through the sickness. I was getting worried at the silence!  
 
I remember 1987.. I was living in North London at the time, and had a meeting in, um, Slough I think. Woke up, turned on radio, got nothing. Turned on TV, no signal. A bit of retuning found me a weak signal that told me that no, the world hadn't ended, it was just a storm. Walked to the tube station, dodging multiple downed trees, to find no trains running, so went back home and phoned the client to say I couldn't make it. They were not surprised! 
 
This time, living near Manchester, I've seen very little exceptional weather! We get sheltered by the Pennines, I've always been told. It's been a bit wet recently, yes, but no worse than usual, and no wind to speak of. I did get soaked watching the (council organised display) fireworks last night though. Forecast on my phone was no rain so didn't put my big coat on :(
Rick, 5th November 2023, 16:34
Anon: I'm not a Satanist, I can handle being inside a church. Neither it nor I burst into flames. 
 
Why was I there? I promised mom that I would attend the All Saints Day service and put flowers on her grave. What kind of son would I be if I couldn't manage one hour(ish) out of an entire year? 
 
David - yeah, it was REALLY bad in the south... 
 
Rob - ah, yes, the fifth of November. Been decades since I've attended a bonfire. It's a British thing, so no fireworks over here. I do wonder how many effigies of Rishi Sunak there might have been this year? 
Anon, 5th November 2023, 20:09
Rick - that's fair enough. It's like the last time I was in a church (and amazingly I didn't burst into flames either) was when a close friend had her first-born christened back in 2008. She wanted me to do some decent photos. 
 
And the time before that was when my friend got married in 2007 (subsequently divorced). 
 
Oh, wait. Technically I went into a church in 2021. It wasn't being used for religious purposes though, because of COVID restrictions still being in place they had to use a large space for the polling station at the local elections. The usual venues weren't suitable, so they set up the polling station at the local church. 
 
(I think I voted Lib Dem, although to be fair this was before the Tories started monumentally screwing things up, at that point it was just a partial screw-up.) 
 
I remember 1987 too. Sevenoaks in Kent became "three oaks". And the wall at the end of our garden blew down. 
 
I didn't go to a firework display in the end. As luck would have it, there was one less than half a mile away, which was clearly visible from my bedroom window. As my house is on the side of a hill, I probably got a better view than people who'd paid to see it.

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