Archive for ramblings

Happy New Year !!!

Posted in General with tags , on Thursday, 31 December 2009 by Deems

I know I won’t get a chance to do this later – so I’m preparing this post a few hours earlier.

Thanks to all my loyal readers, you know who you are, and also to the many people that visit my blog from far and wide. It’s been a good year, with many events (good and bad), let’s hope 2010 is even better, for everyone!

Have a blast and be safe!

H A P P Y   N E W    Y E A R ! ! !

Merry Christmas

Posted in Family, General with tags , , on Friday, 25 December 2009 by Deems

Spent the evening last night with family stuffing ourselves and kids opening presents. This afternoon is a repeat of yesterday with the other half of the family.

Here’s just a quick message to all of you hoping you and yours have a wonderful Christmas! Be safe!

Settlers of Catan

Posted in Games, General with tags , , , , , on Saturday, 12 December 2009 by Deems

Last night, after work, we dropped off the kids at my folks place and went through to friends of ours for a pizza and games evening. They had recently purchased a copy of Settlers of Catan and we were keen to have a go and see what all the fuss was about.

Here’s the description of the game from the official Catan website:

Players are recent immigrants to the newly populated island of Catan. Expand your colony through the building of settlements, roads, and villages by harvesting commodities from the land around you. Trade sheep, lumber, bricks and grain for a settlement, bricks and wood for a road, or try to complete other combinations for more advanced buildings, services and specials.

Trade with other players, or at local seaports to get resources you might lack. The first player to achieve 10 points from a combination of roads, settlements, and special cards wins.

I’d say it’s a somewhat similar to Risk (and maybe a little bit of Monopoly) but a lot more fun and even though there are a lot of rules and options during game play, a lot quicker too. We played two games last night that lasted between 60 and 90 minutes each.

And because of the board pieces (hexagonal map piece depicting a certain resource) being placed randomly to make up the map at the beginning of each game and randomly picking (by throwing a pair of dice) the starting person and direction, each game is very different from the previous one.

And example of such a map is like the one below:

The winner of the game is the first person to accumulate 10 points. Points are achieved by building settlements (1 point), cities (2 points) and getting various other special items like Development Cards that give you points, building the longest road (2 points) or having the strongest army (2 points). But don’t be fooled, just because you won a certain achievement that doesn’t mean it can’t be taken away from you by another player who betters your achievement.

What also makes the game interesting and different each time is the fact that resources (like wood, brick, ore, wheat and sheep) don’t ever have a fixed value to them and depending on which resources are most useful to you at the time will determine how you trade with other players. For example one game you’ll end up trading one for one of different resources and other times you might be willing to give up 2 or even 3 of a resource (or combination) for just one other resource from another player.

You also don’t have to wait to play until it’s your turn as every player gets to do a certain amount of things for every dice roll.

There’s a really nice interactive “How To Play” the Settlers of Catan board game that shows you what the game looks like and how to play it.

It’s an expensive board game so I suggest you play with a friend first to see whether or not you too enjoy the game before investing in your own copy (oh and there are various version and extension packs available too) or why not give it a go online against 2 virtual players.

Thanks for the invite guys – it was a great idea and a lot of fun – we’ll definitely have to do it again sometime soon.

Sorry Google, Chrome has been vindicated!

Posted in General, Technology with tags , , , , , , on Sunday, 22 November 2009 by Deems

Last week I ranted on about Google’s Chrome browser hanging my laptop and after non-use of Chrome the problem went away. Well, it seems that I had spoken too soon. The very next day my laptop hung again, and I had not used Chrome since before I wrote the blog post.

So, frustrated with the hanging, I did a little more digging and found out that there was a known problem with one of Microsoft’s Windows updates, MS09-065 (969947), which caused hanging of the OS (with mouse movement still working) for users with Nvidia and ATI video cards. Now, I know, it’s an XP problem but the update applies to Vista as well so I thought it might be exhibiting the same problems with Vista so I removed that update as well as the Nvidia driver update and re-applied the Nvidia driver update again.

It was a short-lived experience, as the problem returned.

So, I gave in and restored my laptop back to it’s clean, factory-install version of Vista and began rebuilding it again. Many, many long hours later and about 1.7GB of various windows updates later, it seems I have a usable laptop once again.

And yes, this post is being written and posted using Google Chrome, again my browser of choice!

Google Chrome – Brand Minus

Posted in General, Technology with tags , , , , , , on Wednesday, 18 November 2009 by Deems

For a long time now, actually since the very first release of Google Chrome, I’ve been an ambassador for how cool a browser it is and that it’s been my browser of choice ever since they released it. That is up until today when I realised Google Chrome has been the culprit of my Vista OS hanging (note, no BSOD). At first I thought it might have been a Windows Update or one of my other applications, however it always happened while I had Google Chrome also open.

Now, for over a year now I’ve never had any bad experiences with using Google Chrome (either with Windows XP or with Windows Vista). For the last couple of days I’ve explicity NOT used Google Chrome  and lo and behold, I no longer have to hard reboot my laptop anymore. And it seems I’m not alone – nor is it a recent occurance as others have had similar problems.

I guess I’ll have to monitor the news and forums feeds for a resolution before I used Google Chrome again – I sure am going to miss it until then!

Summer weather?

Posted in General with tags , , , on Sunday, 8 November 2009 by Deems

We’re into the second week of November now – which over here in Cape Town should mean we’re in full swing into Summer – but looking at the next 3 days forecast (including today) you’d think otherwise wouldn’t you?

I guess with some of the towns along the garden-route that might not have more than another month’s worth of water this will hopefully help them. The heavens really opened up last night!

Nov-week-weather

Still Alive

Posted in General with tags on Saturday, 24 October 2009 by Deems

Despite the lack of activity, from me, on my blog this month I am still alive. I’ve just been busy and distracted by a lot of things lately to focus on my blog.

My blog has, however, been busy with regard to incoming traffic and I appreciate all the visitors keeping it alive by reading my various posts, commenting and rating.

In between working hard, a death in the family, there’s also been a big change that’s been brewing.

A little over a year ago I was rambling on (one of my first few posts) about meeting the new company I would be joining. A lot has happened in that year, including an unfortunate retrenchment and the start of a new chapter in my career.

I’ve enjoyed my 5 months at the new company now but I’m the type of person that needs to focus on his strengths as I know with those I can add the most value. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve not just sat idly by the last 5 months – I’ve been busy – and I’ve learnt new things (yes, this old dog is never too old to learn new things) and I’ve shared my knowledge with others too, at the very least I hope that’s been the case.

Now I’m one that believes it’s never a good idea to go back to a company you’ve left since there’s usually a very compelling reason that made you leave that company. However, this is one case where it’s a little different. I didn’t leave the company but was forced into retrenchment due to the financial status of the company as well as the recession the world was facing. I didn’t hold it against them as they really had their hand forced and I enjoyed working there, the type of work I was doing and also just as importantly, all the people.

A couple weeks ago I was contacted by them and we’ve had discussions about the business and the future and my possible inclusion in their future. I’ve had the time to mull things over and have had to make yet another decision which not only affects my career but my family too. And I think in both cases, for the better.

I’ve decided to join them again, even though they’re operating under a new name, they’re still the same friendly people. So much so that I got the opportunity to join them yesterday for a team-building session. We all had the opportunity, after a scrumptious lamb-0n-the-spit lunch, to try our hand at lawn bowls. Let me be the first to say, lawn bowls is not as easy as you may think. There’s a definite skill involved and it definitely takes a while to get used rolling those balls. Everyone had a great time and enjoyed the atmosphere and occasion – I’d definitely like to try that again some time with some friends.

So yet another change, but looking forward to being part of the old gang again.