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Today I did two loads of washing - I skipped doing it last week because the weather was so awful. It's on the rotary line drying, so I'll have to check for spiders and caterpillers.
The joy of having a machine with some intelligence is that you can select the 40°C programme and the water will be heated to 40°C, not "let's leave it for X minutes and hope for the best".

Water heated to exactly the desired temperature.

I then did some strimming. You aren't really supposed to make neighbour-unfriendly noise on a Sunday or public holiday (which is amusing as when I was growing up, the Bank Holiday Mondays were when the men used to drag out their Flymos), but the little electric strimmer isn't noisy, I didn't even bother with noise cancelling headphones.

I then sorted out my seeds.


On the left, rows 1 (top) and 2 are basil. Rows 3 and 4 are cayenne pepper. The bottom row, two chives on the left and one final cayenne on the right.
On the right, all fifteen are melons (Cantaloup/Charentais/Cavaillon style).

I have some things I want to do to Tea, but it's such a nice day I have taken the Android portable outside. I mean, why sit inside when I could be out here with spiders and wiggly things dropping out of the tree on me?


It's not all Cuckoo! great, though. Cuckoo! There may Cuckoo! be a somewhat Cuckoo! annoying avian Cuckoo! creature lurking Cuckoo! around here, Cuckoo! although Cuckoo! you would Cuckoo! never guess. Cuckoo!


Eurovision setup

The picture I took in a hurry last night was pretty rubbish. Here's one in the light of day.

Eurovision viewing setup.

I was browsing through the PDF user guide for the satellite receiver looking to see if it said anything about the USB port power capacity. No, it did not, it simply said the harddisc had to run at 5,400rpm minimum. Do harddiscs say such things these days? The cheap little thing I got claims to read at 120M/s and write at 103M/s; it supports USB 2 and USB 3 therefore it ought to be up to it.
I did catch, however, that the default record time when you press the REC button is two hours (unless you mash it more for longer). So it would have legitimately finished at the two hour mark and... I'm not sure why it is only showing 1½ hours? I know that the file extension is .mts and when it overruns what FAT can cope with, it makes a .mts1 file to continue. Perhaps this time it also had to make a .mts2 file and that's somehow become detached? I won't know until I pop the harddisc into my Windows box to see what is there.
Certainly, it suggests the simplest solution would be to split the recording into parts (easy to just press STOP and then REC during some trivial waffle).

It isn't mentioned in the user guide, but it looks like while in playback, pressing the BLUE key will pop up a prompt to allow me to jump to a specific point in the recording. That's useful to know.

Looking at their website, it looks like Metronic also released a Touchbox HD4. This would appear to have a different chipset (it saves to \ALIDVRS2 instead of \HBPVR). There are two USB ports on the device (one front, one back) and the UI is completely different. What I did notice was that the record scheduling asks for a start time and a duration. I think I prefer how mine does it, with the start and stop time as that makes it easier to tweak the values a little bit for schedule inaccuracies (like, why is CBBC persistently about 2-3 minutes late?).
In terms of other capabilities, it all seems to be about the same.



I heard a rumble, not like the whiny rumble of the planes that fly to the UK from Spain, or the deeper rumble of the biggies that fly across the ocean to the French overseas territories. No, this rumble was something else.
I grabbed my camera (not phone, I'd need optical zoom for this) and headed to locate the source. Unfortunately there were trees in the way and by the time I had made it to a clear spot, the cause of the noise had moved on a ways.

Still, maximum optical zoom and a dose of digital zoom on top got me a crappy but usable photo of the most improbable flying machine ever to grace the skies above my head. Sure, I've seen the Antonov, but that at least looked like a plane. This thing looks like exactly what its name suggests, a flying whale.

Airbus Beluga
A flying whale.


Fly screens

I was working an hour early on Monday (and Tuesday) to cover an absence. Unfortunately my dental appointment was still 6pm. So I walked around Lidl and got some cheap window nets, then I walked around Noz and got...

No idea what to do with it, but it spans five metres and it cost a euro. The sort of thing I can imagine if one needs, it would be for a very specific reason and hell to try to find on Amazon.
I got two.

Yesterday after work I went to set up the fly screens. I had purchased two magnetic-fastening ones (white, no other choice), and three velcro-strip fastening ones (two black, one white). I hadn't realised at the time that the velcro kit actually contained two screens.

Fly screen kits.

Now each screen is 150cm by 130cm (or 130 by 150 if you prefer). The basic idea is that you line the edges of the window with whatever the fastening method is, and then attach the screen accordingly.

In the case of the magnetic fixing, the screen comes pre-fitted with magnetic strips on two of the four sides. You need to measure out the screen, cut it a little larger, then fold the other two sides, inserting the strips to make a complete screen outlined in strip pieces.
That's the theory. The reality is that what you see pictured here is all you get for the magetic part.

This is NOT generous.

One magnetic strip is 1.3 metres, the other is 1.5 metres. Cool, I can outline two sides of my window and use that to match the two sides of the pre-fitted strips. You know, call me stupid if you like, but I really don't think that'll keep the flies out.

Thnkfully, I had already considered a backup plan with the velcro-fix screens. These came with a sticky strip of tiny little hooks that was 5.6 metres long. Exactly correct, as 150cm by 130cm requires 5.6 metres to go around it.

My windows open inwards, so the screens needed to be on the outside. It was interesting getting it to fit on the front window. It isn't perfect, there are small gaps, but it'll take an enterprising bug to wiggle its way in. Most bugs look for an easy route.

Out back, well, that's an ancient old window with flaky paint and moss and who knows what else. I had recently repainted the front windows so the sticky strip had something to stick to. But it was a different story around back.

So, of course, I cheated. I cut the sticky strip to fit to every single brick going up the sides of the window, and four strips across the top lintel. The idea is that if one should come unstuck, it hopefully won't lead to a domino effect that will unstick all of it. The bottom is just rolled up and tucked in place.

The screen around back.

I'm glad I got the black (sorry, "anthracite") screens, as they go sort of invisible when looking from inside. This is out the back window.

Looking out back.

And this is looking out front. The messy bit on the left is because I haven't yet cut it to fit.

Looking out front.

Yes, it's peaceful. ☺


Levity in British politics

This guy is Count Binface.

The undisputed master of Epic Poses.
Picture copyright unknown, grabbed from a Google search.

This character, a space warrior that's something like six thousand years old, was a legitimate candidate running for the Mayor of London.
Not only did he raise the necessary £10K to allow him to participate, but he even managed to garner 24,260 votes.
Yes, twenty four thousand Londoners voted for the guy with the plastic bin on his head.
Not only that, but Britain First (a fascist splinter group from the BNP, if such a thing can be imagined) only managed twenty thousand votes (20,519).

The nazis got beaten by satire.

You couldn't make this up, could you?



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jgh, 8th May 2024, 19:59
Sheesh, yes, Eurovision must be early this year. I'm only just recovered from dealing with the election and count last week, and still haven't finished typing up all the data... and people are watching Eurovision? I'm sure in previous years I had everything sorted and archived by the time Eurovision came around. 
At least as it was a "local" election, the count was Friday morning - but they'd moved it to 9am so I had to drag out at bed at 6:30 to get the 7:15 bus. 
David Pilling, 9th May 2024, 16:31
I would have said chives were perennial, something that comes back every year. And if not something you have to get a move on with. Might depend if you want to eat the bulbs, obvs if you eat the bulb it does not come back. 
Hey this is the internet, people can give profound advice regarding things they know nothing about. 
Rob, 12th May 2024, 21:43
Count Binface has reinstating teletext as a campaign promise. Makes him good in my book!

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