Tag: TV

Random Thoughts

I love my Apple products. But leaving my laptop charger in a hotel, with an official replacement costing £65, does make me consider cheaper alternatives. Thankfully, the hotel staff found it and are posting it to me.

I’m almost 40.

I need to make time to get back out jogging again.

A few months ago, Spotify and I finally “clicked” and whilst I won’t ever fully invest in it (it’s a closed system, I can’t export my playlists for one thing), it is very handy for ‘whims’ and random silly playlists. It desperately needs playlist folders though.

I can’t remember the last time I watched ‘live’ TV that wasn’t sport, and even then that hardly happens.

I haven’t read a book in over a month.

I haven’t weight myself for a couple of weeks.

I have been taking stock of everything I have and realising I’m very lucky, and very happy.

With my birthday approaching I’ve been told not to buy myself anything. It’s only with this stipulation in place I realise just how much money I spend (waste?) on ‘stuff’. I really need to buckle down.

In saying that, I did just buy a mahoosive big bean bag

I think I need to be planning things months in advance now, weeks just ain’t cutting it.

Still loving my new car.

iTunes / Airplay issues – FIXED

“It just works”, they said.

“Except when it doesn’t” they didn’t say.

What follows is a bit of a rambling post about random playback issues I’ve experienced when using iTunes to stream music to an Airplay. Simply put, for no reason I can fathom, iTunes playback across Airplay will stop. The track is still playing in iTunes but there is no sound passed to Airplay. Searching for this issue has helped me narrow it down to the problem being iTunes, beyond that I’m stuck.

Read on for some lessons learned…

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Partridges and Pear trees

Here in the UK, there is no escaping the fact that Christmas is approaching. On TV the adverts have started, the store shelves are being stocked, and in the office talk is turning to who might make a fool of themselves at the Christmas party.

It’s also about this time of year I start dropping hints in the hope that I don’t end up with yet another reindeer sweater…

So, in keeping with the Christmas spirit of giving, and to save you all some time and effort, here’s a few suggestions that you could, perhaps, print out and leave sitting around for a loved one to happen upon, or email to a sibling with a subject line of “Buy me something from this list and nothing else!!”

Hopefully some of the above suggestions will save you from yet another pair of slippers…

Note: Most of the above links go through an affiliate account, so I get a few pence if you actually purchase the item.

I am Apple

Well, I’ve finally done it. I’ve ditched my Windows PC and bought a MacBook Air so all my PC tech is now Apple.

Am I a fanboy? Possibly. But for me it’s more about things working easily, and I’m not really into hacking stuff these days so the fact I can plugin an Airport Express in and instantly I can bounce music to a nice beefy set of speakers across the room, or fire up a video on either my MacBook, iPhone or iPad and bounce it to Apple TV to watch on my big screen… well it’s simple, easy and works. For me.

I don’t feel “locked in”, I still use a hybrid service for things like email and calendaring (Google), and I don’t use many of the default Apple apps (Sssshhhh I have Microsoft Office installed on my MacBook!). It all just works for what I want to do, I will continue to tweak things like that but I’m very happy that things are just working (I won’t mention the failed hard drive in my NAS box the other day..).

I’m very aware it’s materialistic but I’d argue that having a simple, reliable system for entertainment, is good for me. It lets me relax and as I don’t watch to all that much TV, being able to bounce 6Music round my flat is a just wonderful. I no longer spend frustrating hours trying to get something ‘simple’ to work and whilst I don’t ‘hack’ things all that much these days it’s still nice to not have that stress in my life.

Faff

I cannot be bothered with faff.

This is one personality trait that has definitely changed as I’ve gotten older, or perhaps it’s just a reaction to the years I spent indulging my ‘gadget-geek’ and allowing myself to think that jumping through 5 hoops to get a simple task done was “OK”.

My mindset these days is very much that technology is there to serve me. If something starts getting in my road I’ll work around it, or replace it completely, ruthlessly.

I’m about to talk about a technology company which I know some people don’t like, but bear with me.

I have an iPhone, an iPad, Apple TV and an internet connected Samsung TV. The bulk of my content consumption happens through those devices. I have a desktop PC, running Windows 7, which is where all of my content creation occurs. More of my time is spent consuming content so I recently bought a NAS drive to allow me to remove the desktop PC (and it’s large hard drive) as a middleman.

I can now watch movies on my TV that I created (ripped from bought copies) on my desktop PC as they now live on my NAS drive. I can view photos the same way.

I can also browse and play music from my NAS drive using my iPhone, or iPad. Unfortunately I can’t hear it.

My plan was to use an Airport Express, connected wirelessly to the NAS box, with audio out to a dedicated set of speakers. I have an old (“g” standard) Airport Express and bought some new speakers (AudioEngine 2).

Alas, the plan is failing and whilst I’m still not sure why, it’s getting the Airport Express setup that is causing the problems. That might be down to the Airport Express itself, or the Windows box, or even the router (a Thomson box supplied by O2). I’ve tried every set of instructions I can find but still nothing.

What are my options now? I could buy a newer Airport Express in the hope that works easily, or I could buy Airplay enabled speakers and be done with that extra step.

Too much faff ya see. If it had just worked I wouldn’t even be moaning about it here.

Rug

New Rug

I’ll happily admit that whilst I might not be the best at it, I do love a bit of interior design. As such I’ve been trying to find a rug to ‘fit’ my living room.

The main highlight colour of my living room is red, with some red striped cushions (from Next) and a red TV unit (a hacked Lack unit from IKEA) and this is hopefully completed by walnut woods and the brown leather of my sofa. I think it works, which is all that really matters. I might add in a couple of red lamps soon too…

I know, get me!

I’ve still to replace the coffee table, a tricky choice as it’s a piece of furniture that will be central in the room, but the new rug has already brought things together nicely.

The rug came from an online store called Not on the High Street which, I warn you now, will throw up all sorts of wonderful things you will want to buy all sourced from small British businesses.

Disclosure: I received the rug for free in return for this blog post. Regardless, I’ve already got my eye on some other bits and bobs on the website, it’s well worth a look!

Which way now?

I’ve been a wee bit ill the past couple of weeks, what started as a cold soon moved to my chest and, thanks to a bad chest/lung infection a few years ago, floored me for about a week.

Last night I thought I’d get back into the exercise habit, nothing too strenuous mind, and after 15 mins of jumping around infront of the TV (XBox Kinect: Your Shape Fitness Evolved) I was flat out on my back and hauling for air. May not be quite ready for the gym…

I’m determined to get my bike out again soon though, it’s been too long, and whilst I don’t mind the gym I much prefer actually doing something. I may soon be joining the guys at work for a game of basketball but I’m still a bit wary since the last time I played I broke my foot.

In other news, me and 4 of my mates are off to the Singapore Grand Prix in September!! Tickets, flights and hotels are all booked. WWAAAAHHHOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

On a related note, it’s amazing how much childish fun that can be had making up humorous ‘references’ as we transferred monies back and forth. Do banks check these things? Do their computer systems flag any words? If an amount was transferred to a bank account as ‘Return for Thai Bride’… that’s not dodgy is it?

Aside from that, not a whole lot else going on. but life remains good.

Onwards and upwards!

Glastonbury

I’ve finally been to Glastonbury.

No more can I sit at home, on my comfy sofa, in a dry place with clean toilets, watching the highlights and think that I’d like to go there some day, that it must be an ‘experience’ and that I’m missing out on something.

Been there, done it, got the t-shirt.

“What was it like?” I hear you ask (ok, probably not, but you should know by now that I a) make this shit up b) hear voices in my head c) like to put additional thoughts into parentheses for no good reason).

It was amazing, scary, exciting, huge, wet, loud, crowded, fun, exhilarating, exhausting, sunny and slightly surreal.

We were staying off-site in the Tangerine Fields campsite. I don’t do “slumming it” and this gave us both a clean pitch with plenty of room, decent toilets, hot showers and access to the car. Highly recommended, especially after seeing the chaos of the main campsites and the state they were in after a day of rain.

Arriving on Wednesday morning, after staying at Wookey Hole the night before, we were soon at the car park, parked up and trudging through the gathering gloom towards the campsite. The rain had started by then, a light drizzle, which soon became a down pour so we holed up in the tent for a while until the worst of it passed. Thankfully the sun came back out and so we got sorted and headed down to the festival site.

The next couple of days were spent wandering around the festival site itself trying to get our bearings. No mean feat given both the size of the place and the deepening levels of mud. Away from the main stages/tents there is a whole host of different acts and areas to explore. If we managed to see half of them I think we were doing well but I doubt we even managed that (some of them weren’t open, to be fair).

Glastonbury is huge, seriously large and for a few days of the year, about the size of a small town. I’d guess that on a nice dry day with no-one about it would still take about an hour to traverse, add in some hills, lots of people milling about and after a few hours we were completely knackered. Not a huge problem when there are so many places to stop for a seat and a refreshing pint of cider but it’s the scale of the place isn’t really something you get from the TV coverage.

Would I go again? Yes, I think I would. I’d try and make more time to enjoy the other areas, get off the beaten path a bit more, and will be much better prepared for the weather (from showers, to torrential rain on Friday through to heatstroke inducing sunshine on Sunday!). The vibe of the place is what makes it unique for me. I’ve been to T in the Park and, whilst it’s partly down to the audience, that felt a lot more like a big edgy crowd, with the security and staff acting accordingly. At Glastonbury everything was so much more relaxed and friendly, the policemen were walking about wearing silly sunglasses, and everyone seemed to be much more at ease and just there to chill out and have fun. There were no angry drunks to be found and those that were drunk were either profusely apologeticly as they stumbled about or fast asleep.

And then, of course, there was the music. More on that soon.

Home is…

It’s over six months since I moved into my flat, and it’s only now starting to feel like home.

For a while I was using the old sofa (old as in age, and as in ‘pre-divorce’) but I now have my own sofa and chairs. I have art on the walls, bookcases, lamps and, once I get a couple of plants and some curtain-like things it will really start to feel like mine.

Except it’s not mine, it’s rented. But aside from that… it’s mine. Right?

I’m still scouring shops for a coffee table, and think I might need a rug to really pull things together but I’m in no rush.

I’ve been reasonably smart with my purchases, determined not to buy things for the sake of it and to make sure that anything I buy now could fit somewhere else. My living room is huge, it was what attracted me to the flat, but I won’t be there forever so I need to keep that in mind and make sure the same furniture will squeeze into a smaller space.

Interestingly, it’s this very desire to keep things ‘small’ that has me, once again, pondering whether to ditch my home PC and get a laptop instead. Regardless of that decision, I need to get more storage space (new camera + shooting in RAW = rapidly filling hard drive) and so it seems sensible to get a network storage device first, and then I can make a decision on desktop vs laptop later.

Part of that thinking also found me clicking the BUY button and ordering a certain, well known, tablet computer. It’s called an iPad and, given that the bulk of my use of the computer is centred around consumption and social networking, it gives me a much more mobile system. My TV can handle media files so it will be interesting how my use of my desktop changes as it will mainly only REALLY be needed for doing website development work (something that could easily be done on a laptop, a nice Air-ey one perhaps?).

What has really surprised me is how much enjoyment I’ve taken from pulling together a room, but that’s maybe because I can’t change much in the kitchen, the bedroom only really needs some art on the walls as it’s not really got space for much other than the bed and some chests of drawers, and the spare room is, for now, a bit of a dumping ground. I have plans for the spare room too but I’m keen to keep it sparse, functional and not to rely on the space too much, again, when I move in the future, it might be somewhere smaller.

Turns out I’m quite house proud, and I’m really enjoying trawling shops (online and off) for decorations.

I really REALLY wish I’d bought that letterpress lamp base when I saw it though…

One step at a time

The flat is slowly taking shape. I’ve a few furniture purchases to make, several bookcases (white, although I may paint the backgrounds) and some bedroom furniture which will include two red bedside tables and a yet to be decided colour of chests of drawers (built-in wardrobes FTW!), a small bookcase/unit for the hall, a TV unit and possibly a low unit or two for under the windows in the living room.

Aside from that I need to buy frames.

I need some frames

I seem to have purchased a few prints/letterpress art and have nothing to put them in. I’m also not sure what will go where yet and don’t really want to decide until I get the bookcases into the living room and shuffle things about. I keep toying with getting some random frames, rather than getting all of them in one style but I don’t think I’m quite ready for that yet, my minimal and simplistic aesthetics probably won’t allow me.

Time will tell.