Using tech skills for hobbyist stuff

Before I started on the TechUP course, I was already into a lot of hobbyist tech stuff, as I’ve always found it interesting – and given that I spend pretty much my whole life in front of computer screens, I like to be able to solve problems myself when things don’t work as expected. This is part of the reason I jumped at the chance to do a proper software dev course.

Nevertheless, you would think that after five months of studying, I would be ready to run screaming away from tech stuff for a while. However, this is not at all the case. I am desperate to get back to my techy hobbies, as I’ve had absolutely no time to work on them for months! I won’t jump into anything with a deadline such as game comps and jams, as I do need a month or two off from *stress* after the course is finished, but I’m so excited to get back to playing with both hardware and software in a purely fun way – especially as I’m keen to utilise my new skills learnt on the course for some of my hobby projects.

This is also partly inspired by the fact that Dad arrived with some tools to revitalise my old dead laptop this morning (he and Mum are in town for his birthday today). Dad’s laptop-revitalising tools almost always consist of a Linux installation disk and a flash drive, and today was no exception. We were able to access my files as they were left when Windows stopped booting, so I have been able to back them up in their less jumbled state. This will be really helpful when getting everything properly organised on the new laptop.

I don’t need Windows on the old laptop any more, so once I’ve copied all my files, I’ll be installing Linux instead. However, I am developing quite a pile of old laptops upstairs with various builds of Linux put on them by Dad after they died as Windows machines, and I’m never going to need absolutely all of them as spare laptops. As such, I want to have a think about how they can be better repurposed. One of the many possibilities for the magical month of March (something I never thought I’d say about March) that will be here very soon.

Good hours and bad hours

That is the way I think about coding and programming, generally. Good hours are hours where I know what I’m doing. Bad hours are more numerous, and generally feature lots of frustrating dead-end Googling to try and fix problems I’m having, meaning that I feel like I’m wasting my time to some extent.

We’re in the sharp end of the TechUP course, and I’m spending lots of bad hours trying to work out how to do things that I feel should be straightforward. This has mostly been caused by the laptop-hopping I’ve been doing over the last couple of weeks, as I’m having to keep reinstalling things and dealing with different computers’ idiosyncrasies. It doesn’t feel like time is on my side as a result.

Nevertheless, this current hour is a good hour, because all the problems I’ve been having with my work today have been solved. It’s nice to finish the day with no outstanding issues! It’s also an important part of the learning process, frustrating as it can be sometimes.

RIP laptop

My laptop has died. RIP Rio* (2017-2022). I spent all day today trying to recover it, but unfortunately it seems the situation was terminal. Despite its tendency to shut down suddenly without warning when I was in the middle of an important Word document, I will miss it and its quirks.

I am really glad I’m in the habit of backing up all my files to memory stick every night, meaning I didn’t lose anything important. Unfortunately, I am also the type of person who has approximately 1,537 tabs open at any one time in Chrome, all carefully organised into groups. I rely very heavily on the setup of these tabs as I’m always doing thousands of different things, and I have realised too late that on Rio I did not have Chrome set up to sync tabs to other devices. I will not make that mistake again.

Until I manage to get a new laptop, I will be on Geth’s spare one. He doesn’t use it much so hopefully it will hold out for the interim!

*It was named after the Duran Duran song. Obviously. Don’t know what I’ll call my next one!

Recovering slowly

Just a mile for my run this morning…

…though I then ended up walking six miles trying to find a shop that would repair my phone screen! Going to try and take it a bit easier the rest of the week.

(I’ve also added my big long video about my challenge to yesterday’s blog if you’ve not seen it already!)

I’m still not feeling 100% – I can’t concentrate and feel pretty fatigued in general – so I think I need a few more days of catching up with sleep. Hoping to be back to normal by the weekend.

One more walk tomorrow to pick up my repaired phone, and then I think I’ll finally be able to settle down and get some rest!

Autumn tree
A lovely autumn tree from my walk today.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Nick Heyward – ‘Take That Situation’
Foo Fighters – ‘Times Like These’

The other side

I’ve done a long video about yesterday’s running challenge…

(though you’ll have to wait till tomorrow for the video, as it’s soooo long it’s taking forever to upload to YouTube!)

(UPDATE: here it is!)

…and I honestly didn’t expect to feel quite so flat today. The whole thing was incredibly intense and I think it’s going to take me a good few days to recover both physically and mentally. I’ll blog about it once I’ve had some time to reflect, in about a week or so.

I expected I’d sleep all day today but I was awake at 7:45am – probably for the best as some urgent day job work had come in, and I was able to get it done nice and quickly. I didn’t intend to do my daily run until the evening as I thought my legs would be too sore, but by mid-afternoon I was climbing the walls and just wanted to get out there. My legs complained a lot, but surprisingly I managed my usual pace, pretty much. I had to find a new mile-ish route as I couldn’t face the usual one after doing it 24 times yesterday!

Tomorrow I’m heading to Timpsons first thing, as a slight bit of misadventure during the 24-hour challenge meant that my phone screen got smashed and I need to get it fixed. Other than that, I think I’m just going to try and enjoy some free time, as it looks like I might actually have some this week!

A picture from just before the challenge started, when I was still marginally sane.

Today’s earworm playlist:

U2 – ‘Elevation’
Idina Menzel – ‘Into The Unknown’

Trying to have a quieter day

Another mile today…

…and hopefully I’ll get back to my slightly longer midweek run tomorrow.

Today has mostly been a quiet day of catching up with all the admin I neglected during the last week of the jam, with a bonus technical difficulty in trying to get all my WhatsApp chats off my old phone and onto my new one. I rarely use WhatsApp but I like to have an archive. Anyway, it’s all sorted now.

Looking forward to playing some more game jam entries tonight!

Rainbow Metro sign
A picture from over the weekend – I’ve not been on the Metro since before lockdown, but it was nice to see the rainbows on the signs as I walked past the station.

Today’s earworm playlist:

ACE+ – ‘Mechonis Field’
Alison Moyet – ‘Is This Love?’

Cleaner, cosier, comfier

Just a mile for this morning’s run…

…as I had various other things to do. Looking forward to some longer runs later in the week.

It was a bit of an odd weekend as I was trying to keep myself from feeling too down about the fact that if not for the coronavirus situation, I would have been in London running the marathon. By and large, I managed to distract myself with videogames, and I did a couple of short, fast runs to test out my pace a bit. I also spent most of yesterday trying to solve technical issues, as our SteamLink box was playing up again. I’ve told Geth that we have to keep an eye on it by turning it on every day, which provides lots of excuses for videogaming this week!

I’ve also managed to get a really good clean of the house done. I’d been neglecting it a bit, because I usually base my cleaning schedule around when we’re expecting company… and obviously we’ve not had any recently. However, I’ve spent the last couple of days getting on with it, and the house feels a lot nicer now.

I’ve got a small amount of day job work lined up for this week, which is great, and I’ve got several more housework-type tasks to get on with as well. I also want to finish my graphics for my next adventure game before the end of Camp NaNo on Thursday, so I’ve got plenty things to be getting on with! It’s nice, though, because it provides a bit of structure to the day. I’d obviously love it if I could just sit and play videogames the whole time, but I think I’d probably lose track of days and nights as a result! Oh, for those student summers when I’d regularly be playing until 7am and it didn’t matter…

I’m still getting a good few hours in every evening though, and I find I’ve got time for lots of reading and TV-watching too, so if I ignore the general world situation, life is quite relaxed at the moment!

Tikiboo Run London tights
Yesterday, I wore what should have been my race kit. I’m looking forward to taking these special London-themed Tikiboos out for some longer runs to make sure that they will hold up during the marathon.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Tomohito Nishiura – ‘Froenborg’
Yasunori Mitsuda – ‘Elysium, In The Blue Sky’
Abba – ‘I Have A Dream’

Technical difficulties

I went for a slower recovery run today…

…because I did a longer run yesterday, and am planning to do another one tomorrow, so I needed a sort-of ‘rest’ day today. It was really sunny, and the blossom round here is beautiful at the moment, so I stopped to take a lot of pictures.

I’ve spent most of today updating my gaming PC and trying to set up the SteamLink Hardware that my friend Sharpy got me as a birthday gift a few years back. We’ve just about got it working but not quite – we need an extra keyboard and mouse so that the PC doesn’t get disgruntled about its lack of input controls while we’re using the peripherals for the SteamLink box. Geth has ordered a set to be delivered tomorrow (he is extremely keen to play XCOM 2 on the big TV screen), so fingers crossed it should all be running smoothly by tomorrow evening.

A blog admin note: I’m going to be trying something different this week. I’ll be doing my usual diary posts on Monday to Friday (along with my usual Phone Box Thursday post), but for next weekend’s posts, I’m going to catch up with some of the review posts I’ve been meaning to do for months, post a couple of links to my running videos over the weekend, and then do a big diary update on the Monday. This serves a twofold purpose: it enables me to get my main weekend posts done in advance; and it means that I can finally start doing my review posts again (I’ve only really had the time to do one post per day recently, which is why my reviews haven’t been getting done). I’m looking forward to getting some posts out about gigs and parkruns and races again!

I’ll be videogaming as usual this evening, though obviously not on the SteamLink box just yet.

Dark blossom
The ‘second’ blossom tree in our garden (the one that blossoms later, with darker blossom) is doing really nicely now.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Cast of The Little Mermaid – ‘Daughters Of Triton’
Kylie Minogue – ‘I Should Be So Lucky’
Nobuo Uematsu – ‘Mako Reactor’
Nobuo Uematsu – ‘Let The Battles Begin!’


After my midweek run…

…Mum and Dad came round again, and Dad and I had another go at the old laptops. Putting Linux on them was a little more complicated than expected, so Dad is going to take them home and keep experimenting.

We did however manage to get a couple of things put up in the downstairs bathroom that I’d been meaning to do for two years. Every little helps!

We also had a lovely meal out with cousins Douglas and Freya at our favourite tapería in town. As such, I won’t be going to Slimming World weigh-in tomorrow – might make it to the Friday session but we’ll see! I need to digest a lot of tatties first 🙂

Bathroom decor
Like the rest of the house, it still looks very beige and boring, but it’s nice to have the cabinet and mirror up.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Vera van Heeringen – ‘Riverside House’
Jason Donovan – ‘Too Many Broken Hearts’
David Bowie – ‘Ashes To Ashes’
Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber – ‘I Don’t Care’
Animotion – ‘Obsession’
FM-84 and Ollie Wride – ‘Running In The Night’

And a bonus track that Geth was humming earlier:

Nena – ’99 Red Balloons’

Cabin fever

I’ve tried to have a ‘not doing anything’ day (i.e. just mindless internet browsing and so on) today in order to try and recover from my cold. Not doing anything, it turns out, just makes me feel frustrated and bored, like I’ve wasted the day. I’ve got a show at the Sage Gateshead to go to tomorrow afternoon, and although I will have to wrap up warm, I think I’m going to feel a bit better for getting out.

Also, there’s a loose connection in my laptop mouse, and it keeps beeping every five seconds to inform me that it’s either just connected or disconnected. Time to order a new one, I think. In the meantime, I’ve just given up and turned my laptop volume off.

Big Kahuna glass
Not an OOTD: Geth was given some Kona Brewery beers as an early Christmas present from a colleague, so he dug out his souvenir Big Kahuna glass from the time we went to Hawaii. It’s making me long for tropical islands and sunshine, which is NOT the way I usually feel in December when I’m excited about Christmas coming up! I’ve been researching some traditional Hawaiian ukulele music as a result.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Gary Glitter – ‘Another Rock ‘N’ Roll Christmas’*
Kuana Torres Kahele, James Ford Murphy and Napua Greig-Nakasone – ‘Someone To Lava’
Coldplay – ‘Christmas Lights’
Bananarama – ‘Really Saying Something’

*Yes, it’s STILL in my head.