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.

Parallel lives

Taking a break this evening from the old photos and returning to the here and now. Hogmanay, like the rest of 2020, feels a bit confusing and bittersweet. I think 2021 will eventually be better, but it will take some time, so I certainly don’t feel like celebrating tonight. Just a quiet evening at home with BBC Scotland on TV.

It’s my first ever New Year away from Scotland and so this year I had to learn to make Dad’s famous Hogmanay pizza for myself and Geth. Through the magic of video chat, Dad was able to help me with the dough, and on the whole it turned out really well. I hope I’m equally lucky with the Lancashire hotpot for New Year’s Day tomorrow.

Hogmanay pizza
Fish pizza for Geth, veggie for me.

I completed my first year of running every day this morning! A year ago, I noticed that Smashrun did a special virtual badge for running every day during a leap year, which was what motivated me to start my run streak. Today, I finally got the badge, and a bonus one to boot:

Smashrun badge
Smashrun badge

I’ve spent a large part of the year trying not to think about the Parallel Universe Where Coronavirus Didn’t Happen: the races, the gigs, the trips abroad, the time with family and friends. But there are other parallel universes that are a lot less happy – ones I only narrowly avoided due to sheer dumb luck, or the grace of God, or whatever you want to call it. The parallel universe where I hadn’t started a run streak on the first of January, and as a result didn’t run at all after March because I had no race-related motivation. The parallel universe where I hadn’t quit drinking, and ended up drinking more and more as a result of lockdown and stress. The parallel universe where loved ones weren’t able to stay safe this year.

I didn’t end up in the best timeline, not in the slightest. But I also didn’t end up in the worst. I survived, and I have hope. Bring on 2021. Even if I kind of wish we could just skip the first half of it.

Today’s earworm playlist:

The Proclaimers – ‘The Joyful Kilmarnock Blues’
Travis – ‘The Last Laugh Of The Laughter’

Slowly improving the habitat

A recovery mile this morning…

…and then Mum and Dad popped in again so that we could finish off the last few jobs in the bathrooms. Towel rings now installed! Dad has also taken our old laptops home with him for further Linux experimentation.

I’ve spent the afternoon getting on with admin (and daydreaming about further home improvements). Back to work tomorrow.

Towel ring
The sheer beige intensity of my bathroom photos has me itching to repaint the downstairs one in some really bright, funky colour. Like purple, or possibly tropical mango. I might see what’s on offer in the paint section next time I’m at a hardware shop.

Today’s earworm playlist:

The Midnight – ‘Crystalline’
Justin Timberlake – ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling’


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’

Computer management

After my Tuesday recovery mile…

…Mum and Dad arrived (it’s Dad’s birthday today). Dad and I then spent the afternoon experimenting with a couple of old laptops that Geth and I want to put Linux on, as Windows 7 is slow and less supported these days. It looks like we’ll be able to get that finished tomorrow hopefully!

We then went out to the Redhouse in Newcastle for Dad’s birthday meal out. I hadn’t been there for more than three years, since before I started Slimming World, because I have no idea how many syns are in one of their pies! Just have to estimate it this week… The pies are amazing though.

More house-sorting to do (and nice food to eat) tomorrow.

Pies at the Redhouse
Pie-eating at the Redhouse! Photo from Dad.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Bill Conti – ‘Gonna Fly Now’
Justin Timberlake – ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling’
The Midnight – ‘Collateral’

Winter wandering

After getting some more DIY stuff done with Dad this morning (extractor fan installed! lightbulbs completed! car lights and tyres checked!) I headed into town with Mum and Dad for a walk. We had some lunch at the Christmas market and went to see Fenwick’s Christmas window (a Newcastle tradition), then had a wander over the bridges into Gateshead and back.

Another nice evening meal tonight! Back on plan tomorrow prior to Slimming World weigh-in on Friday.

Outside Fenwick's Christmas window
Not an OOTD: Mum and Dad outside Fenwick’s Christmas window. This year’s theme is Charlie & The Chocolate Factory.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Duran Duran – ‘Winter Marches On’

Lights up

Mum and Dad were round today, which meant I was able to draw on Dad’s DIY expertise for some of the house jobs I’ve not got round to recently! We now have a lot of replaced lightbulbs (Geth and I had been living in a mostly-dark house for a while) and are working towards a replaced extractor fan (it was delivered a couple of months ago but we’ve not got round to installing it till now).

In the evening we went for tapas at El Torero in central Newcastle, which was up to its usual high standard.

Will be finishing off the DIY and doing a bit of shopping tomorrow!

1980s brass light fixture
Not an OOTD: let there be light! I love these brass light fixtures and it’s nice to have working bulbs in them again 🙂

Today’s earworm playlist:

Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman – ‘Somethin’ Stupid’
Duran Duran – ‘Winter Marches On’
Kuana Torres Kahele, James Ford Murphy and Napua Greig-Nakasone – ‘Someone To Lava’
Ellie Goulding – ‘Lights’
Roxette – ‘Listen To Your Heart’*

*RIP Marie Fredriksson 🙁