Riding the Flow

musings from the shire

Hitting the Town!

car_photo_211110_7[1] Birmingham is reasonably close, so I go there when I feel too much in the countryside and removed from civilization ;)

I’ve used to use trains in the past – and still use them from time to time. Still, with train journey is a little slower, mainly because you have to get to the station and wait for the train. Also, it’s slightly more expensive, at least comparing to my car.

So now I go mainly by car. First step was to find non-congested areas with free parking close to the centre – tricky, but wonderfully done (thanks, Google Earth spy sat shots ;) )

For now I am still evaluating possible alternate routes, since there are plenty, some being:

  • My GPS (bless it – otherwise I would be hopelessly lost after first wrong turn) keeps suggesting me the route that takes me through the south of the city. In theory, yes, this is the best. In practice – its 30-minute drive on single-lane narrow city street, continuously waiting at traffic lights and maneuvering between the parked cars and pedestrians.
  • Google Earth suggested going around on the east side partially via M6 and approaching from the north. This one is sound, and motorway and dual-carriageway mainly, but – there are currently repairs going on M6, so speed limit 40, non-surprisingly its quite congested and slow for a big stretch
  • Another route I still to try is “straight” approach, directly from my direction. It looks the best, but since none of maps suggested this route by default, I would suspect to be at least something with it ;)

I am making good use of city driving practice. Obviously, it’s quite a change from usual rural roads and tiny town streets. The biggest challenge is juggling between lanes on complex multi-layer junctions, especially when it’s not immediately obvious in which lane you have to be. And sometimes you have to plan the whole process 2 junctions ahead. Otherwise you’ll have to count on people generosity to let you switch lanes at the last moment in front of them in panicky fashion. Sorry, good drivers of Birmingham ;)

Funny animations :)

Pacman vs Mario Stumbled upon this site with hilarious clips showing “celebrity deathmatch”-like fights between various iconic fiction (and real) characters.


The site itself is in Russian, but don’t worry – you will be able to fully appreciate the humor of the flicks regardless of your native language :)

The curved surface of this dual-sided cutting board allow you to pick up the board easily and helps you guide chopped food into your pan.


And may I add, we all know how food tend to slide from cutting board in the completely wrong directions ;)

My main target was the service for good personal blogging – mainly to eliminate the need to IM all bits of personal news to all of my friends :) Therefore, some social networking feature were desired too , but they were second to blogging.

So, quick search turned out several most known candidates:

Looks like my next laptop!

Toshiba Qosmio X500


  • Intel® Core i7-720QM (2.8GHz, 6MB L2, 1333MHz FSB)
  • Up to 8GB DDR3 RAM (1066MHz)
  • Up to 1TB HDD (500GB 5400 rpm + 500GB 5400 rpm)
  • 18.4" Full HD TruBrite® LCD screen (1920 x 1080p)
  • 6x BD-RE optical drive (Blu-ray rewritable)
  • nVIDIA® GeForce® GTS 250MNV (1GB)
  • Integrated Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/Draft-N
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • 3x USB 2.0 Sleep-and-Charge ports
  • 1x USB Sleep-and-Charge/e-SATA combo port
  • 5-in-1 card reader

I would much more prefer 17-inch laptop, since 18.4 feels just tad too big – and I will have to find a new laptop backpack too. However on the upside this one looks a lot slimmer than prev-gen X200 and X300 (I have X200 now).

And no alternative to Toshiba brand for me – as far as I’ve seen, only Toshiba makes high-end laptops with truly superb speakers – they on par with proper "mini-theater” dedicated sets.

It gets quite cold in the mornings already. I have to start putting my car in the garage every time I come from work – otherwise following morning the car is completely covered in condensation, and windows start fogging as soon as your breath gets inside. The heater is almost no help – the car is very efficient and wastes so little heat, that heater starts producing warm air almost halfway on the way down to the office ;)

The garages in the UK are generally quite small (unless you live in the huge house)

Still, some people in our block of flats somehow manage to put huge sedans in this every evening. Some have to use open garage on the opposite side to get needed manoeuvre space ;)

Learning to CSS

Learning CSS and refreshing my HTML now – at least on the basic level to do decent job on the blog :)

CSS makes HTML truly clean & separates “visual” from “data” very well. Thanks to Blogger CSS customization you can tweak formatting with ease without changes to blog posts.

Well, to my surprise I’ve found that Microsoft Word <=> Blogger integration is virtually nonexistent. There was a Blogger for Word add-on from Google, but it was discontinued ages ago.

Why can not Windows Live Writer use Microsoft Office spell & grammar checker – I’ll never know (after all, Microsoft Outlook does). I guess, yet another example when they can not even share technologies within the same company. Welcome to the real world…

So, since I really want Word grammar checker, I now:

  1. write a bulk of the post in Word
  2. copy & paste it in Windows Live Writer
  3. do supplementary editing
  4. publish
  5. … it sucks :)

Still, searching around the Web turned out that this is really the best solution available for now...

Blogger has pretty good standalone web editor for blog posts. However, it lacks spellchecking. Also standalone editors a tad more responsive & feature-rich.

It seems that Windows Live Writer is a pretty good offline editor – also quite lightweight and integrates with Blogger.

Update: While I was writing this post, I’ve found that spellchecking is here, but, well, lacking. It’s only a spellchecking, and not comprehensive spell-and-grammar check as found in, say, Microsoft Word.

So I think my next try will be just to integrate Word ;)

Pictures from recent day hike to Malvern Hills – huge panoramic images, taken with Samsung Omnia i900 phone, stitched in free Hugin software. Shows how compositing can produce decent quality and wide angle photos even from mediocre cell phone camera.

Update: I just have noticed that most of these pictures have been accepted for Google Earth Panoramio layer!

South Peaks
Middle of the Ridge
North of the Ridge, Highest Point - "Worcestershire Beacon"

Just created a blog here :)
Not sure yet if I'll keep it yet though - currently in progress of investigation of several alternative solutions to try to figure out what is best for my needs.

Update: looks like I am here to stay, but I think I need to sleep it over ;) If everything goes well - (more) content is coming :)