One of my favourite haunts for “tech stuff” is closing its doors very soon. In fact, assuming I finish and publish this post on 21st May, it’ll be “today”.
I’m not sure where to start with this post I’m sorry to see it go. I’ve bought so much stuff here over the years. My desk drawer is full of those little screwdrivers they sell at the counter, because they’re so cheap, and I’m always losing the little bits out of them, and whenever any work needs doing on my PC, I’m searching all over for *that* Philips bit that’ll undo that weird screw holding something in place.
My condolences go out to the staff, and the poor bugger who had to put this up in the window, sealing his fate. Rather like what happened to me back in 2012 when I (and my colleagues at the time) saw other people doing our work.
On a side note, there are absolutely no bargains to be had. There a re a couple of “50% Off” bins near the counter, containing weird shaped fluorescent tubes and ink cartridges, but nothing of any relevance.
I did intend to type a whole long rambling post about what I’ve bought in there over the years, but, quite frankly, I can’t be bothered. Any chain of stores that thinks it’s reasonable to charge £25 for a CD wallet doesn’t deserve my custom. There, I said it.
EDIT: As promised, and seeing as I’m at Teesside Park right now, snaffling free Wi-Fi, here it is. All closed down
I’m sure you’re all wondering what progress I’ve made on getting my Amigas back up and running. Well, I can’t find the power supplies, so that’s not happening at the moment.
Something I’ve found very strange though is that the little rubber feet on the A600 have literally turned to a sticky white liquid, leaving a residue on everything they touch (oh, grow up!).
Take this really rare and expensive “Sandpiper’s Greatest Hits” record for example.
That’s not paint. That’s actual;ly the result of leaving the A600 on it for a small amount of time. So, is this a common thing with these feet? Due to their now squishy and incredibly sticky nature, it’s not possible to remove them cleanly. I don’t think the A1200 is affected.
Anybody know if replacements are available? And the best way to remove them without getting sticky white stuff everywhere? (I knew a lady who wanted a book on double entendres, so I gave her one.)
Ah, it’s not the first time I’ve ripped off a Simpsons quote for a blog title, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. I’m feeling a bit of a commoner today. I’ve been out and bought tickets to one of those footballing match things. You know, where grown men go around and kick a bag of air around for 90 minutes, whilst slack-jawed on-lookers shout things like “poppycock” at the referee, and question the poor man’s eyesight. Suddenly we’re all opticians, are we?
Of course, I jest, but it does seem a bit odd for me to actually plan in advance to go to a football match. It’s something that’s only happened three times before (we won 1-0 against Brentford in the 1991-92 season), lost against Oxford in… some other season, and lost 5-1 to Newcastle United in a friendly. So, I’ve got a 2-1 loss record on seeing Hartlepool play. It’s not looking good.
You see, the reason I bought the tickets, is that it’s a pivotal time for the club, and the town as a whole (not discounting the tickets were only a fiver). The match is Hartlepool V Doncaster, and it’s pivotal for both clubs, and the mathematics goes something like this…
If Hartlepool win, and Newport lose, Hartlepool stay in the league. If Doncaster win and Plymouth lose, they become League Two champions. In three days time, Hartlepool might be out of the English football league for the first time in their entire history. There’s been some squeaky bum moments in recent years, but I think this is the greatest yet.
Now, don’t quote me on this (bit hard, seeing as this is a blog), but I have a sneaking suspicion it could finish the once proud club off if the worst were to happen. Imagine if they go down to the conference, the club would be worth less, yet the area of land that the ground stands on is prime real estate, and with only a large car park behind it, a leisure centre well past its use-by date, and a great little pub, I can see the land being sold off to developers, and the whole area being yet another great big retail park. Which is something the town is crying out for, he says sarcastically.
So, Saturday evening could see a load of grown men cry. In fact I cried today, after they charged me £1.50 surcharge for using my credit card to buy the tickets. Robbing gits.
Ahhh. Summer’s here at last. Well, no it’s not, because I saw a gritter on my way to work this morning, but the past weekend certainly felt like summer. A warm spell in an otherwise cold month.
But what was I doing in Manchester, I hear absolutely nobody ask? Well, I’m sure I’ve talked about the ol’ #speccy meetups in here before, where once a year, a few of us from the afore-mentioned IRC channel and the World Of Spectrum forums meet up, and have a few pints and a bit of a chinwag. Well, this time, it was going to be in Manchester.
I’d prepared for this *well* in advance, and by that, I mean I somehow managed to book a train and a hotel without getting the whole thing completely mixed up, and ending up booking a room in Manchester, New Hampshire, and the train heading off into the middle of the sea. Or something. Still, a little of me had a feeling this trip was going to be doomed to failure.
Marko, the main organiser, who has commented a few times on here (probably about the meets, I can’t remember), unfortunately pulled out and couldn’t go, so I was left in a bit of a situation. I didn’t have any contact details for anyone else going, other than Facebook. So, I pictured myself getting there, not actually knowing what anybody looks like, and spending the entire night on my own. Well, that is, if I was going to get there at all.
Wednesday came, I was in the snooker place, batting some balls about when I received a text…
“You aware of Northern rail strikes on Saturday? ”
As the white ball shot off the table, it became clear I wasn’t aware. This threw all sorts of spanners in the works. The Transpennine trains were running normally. Northern Rail trains weren’t.
Saturday was also Grand National day, and although getting to Thornaby for 08:32 wasn’t a problem (I bribed Daddykins into giving me a lift), there was no telling how packed the train was going to be. I was worrying the night before about finding my seat, and finding a random Boro chav sprawled out across it. that is, if I could even get on the train for the crowds.
I needn’t have worried. Maybe the news of the rail strike caused most people to stay in bed or make alternative arrangements. Maybe most people were just still hungover. Dunno. I just knew I had my seat, and the rest of the journey would be a breeze.
The guy say next to me got off at York, so I had a window seat for the rest of the journey, and the next two hours were spent watching England’s green and pleasant land roll past.
I arrive in Manchester, and there was two hours before I could check into the hotel. There was only one thing for it… LET’S GO BARGAIN HUNTING! RECORD SHOPPING!
As I mentioned before, I’ve been to Manchester a couple of times, and I know that Piccadilly is a good spot for vinyl. I knew of at least 3 shops…. the Vinyl Exchange, which is probably the biggest of the three. Piccadilly Records, which just sells new stuff, and it’s really up my alley, plus another one, which I can’t remember the name of.
Unfortunately, despite spending some time in all three, I came up empty. All seemed a bit expensive, and to be honest, considering how warm it was, I didn’t really want to carry many heavy records with me anyway. Plus, I had put some time away on the Sunday, to go back and have a better look.
I checked the time, and it was time to check into the hotel. On my way down, a board caught my eye, advertising the “Vinyl Resting Place”, in a rather “hipster” location known as Afflecks. It was on the top floor, and the more I went in to the place, the less I felt like I fitted in. It was one of those places you go to have a tattoo, buy black lipstick, or some type of… oh, I can’t describe it. I just know that in this maze of little shops was a place selling vinyl.
Eventually, I found it., and started rummaging through the boxes. There was some stuff, that on another day, I might have purchased, but even at 3 for £1, I almost didn’t get anything.
In the corner was a box of 12″ singles, and I managed to pick three out of there….
“Played A-Live” by Safri Duo, “Let there Be Light” – dance version by Mike Oldfield, and “Angel’s Symphony” by RAF. The latter of the three I used to have as a CD single, but it went for an absolute fortune on ebay. I’m not going to sell this one though as it’s a good little tune.
those, surprisingly were going to be my only 3 music purchases of the weekend. And, on that note, I checked into the hotel!
After a slight rest, and to allow my phone battery time to charge, I headed off to the meet. The stop for most of the night was “The Moon Under Water” on Deansgate, which from what I heard, claims to be the biggest pub in England. It used to be an old cinema, so yes, it was pretty big. I’m sure I’ve been in bigger though.
Of course, this was Grand National Saturday, and, as tradition would have it, I watched it in a pub, making this the 28th Grand national in a row that I’ve watched.
Beer flowed nicely, and after grub was consumed, we headed to another place. I couldn’t remember the name of the place, but my handy “google Timeline” thing tells me it was “the Ape and Apple”. I liked this place. Not crowded, and we could all talk. The night started winding down at about 11, as everyone was going home. I waddled back to the hotel, and that was me asleep until 9:30 the next morning.
Sunday was obviously the shortest day of the two, but I still found time to walk to the record shops for one last look… aaand, they were all closed. Bugger.
Since I was up this way, I thought I’d take in one last “tourist attraction”, and it’s where you’ve reading this from now.
This is Turner St, Manchester. The home of 34SP, fine purveyors of website stuff, and my money flows down this road every month to keep mercuryvapour.co.uk afloat. Well, I actually doubt that the servers are hosted here, but it’s where the staff are.
Unfortunately, I’d entirely misjudged where it was, and it turns out it’s just to the right of this photo, out of shot. But look how close it is to that pub, though.
And, that was my lot. I’d studied the train timetable long and hard (oo-er), and thought I knew the train times. Well, this was incorrect. I’d reached the station and found that there was only a 20-minute wait until Thornaby.
“The person who cannot be named” had offered to pick me up from Thornaby station, which means I didn’t have to travel back to Hartlepool. Overall, a good weekend. And I’ll be back in Manchester in a weeks’ time.
Today, I saved the life of my Amiga 1200. And I’m slightly relieved.
I’ve typed on here several times about my love of the Amiga 1200, the computer I received on Xmas Day 1993. But what do I mean about saving its life? I removed the battery. Yep, that’s it. I took the battery out. “Hang on”, says both of the Amiga aficionados reading this, “The Amiga didn’t have a battery”. Well, mine did, because I bought a memory expansion which also shipped with a real-time clock, and obviously, a battery backup for it.
Back in 2007, I dragged my Amiga out for a quick play, to see if a problem with the video circuitry had fixed itself in the 10 years it had been in storage. Unsurprisingly, it hadn’t and my screen was still just a jumbled mess. OH WELL. Back in the cupboard it went.
Years went by, and that cupboard fell pretty much out of action. Certain room reorganisations, and knowing there wasn’t much stuff in that particular cupboard meant it wasn’t really accessible anymore. But my Amiga was safe in storage.
Fast forward to 2013. Dave Jones, aka EEVBlog, posted a video about an old Archimedes computer he’d been sent. The video was going great, until he’d opened it up and found that the RTC battery had leaked, completely eating away at most of the circuitry, including the ROM sockets and keyboard connections, turning the machine into a beautiful, yet pricey paperweight. My heart sank. I knew my Amiga had what looked like the same battery, and although that machine was older, it wasn’t MUCH older, and the clock battery in my Amiga hadn’t been changed since I installed the expansion board in 1995, pushing it up to 22 years. That thing must have been a goner.
I spoke to Daddykins about something random, and I mentioned about my Amiga and leaking batteries. I was surprised to find the cupboard now slightly more accessible. Enough to squeeze an arm in, and pull out an Amiga, anyway. Maybe he’d realised I was right, and the little Miggy was worth saving!
I precariously opened the underside door on the machine to see what grotty state the board was in…. Aaand.
Not a speck of corrosion. And yes, I’d taken the battery out before I’d taken this, but it was still in there, and came out perfectly shiny.
So, my Amiga might live to fight another day. If I can get that graphics issue fixed.
I have much more to say about this fantastic machine, so stay tuned for some more inane rambling shortly… Bet you can’t wait.