So, your Sandisk Sansa MP3 player is quiet…

Cor, two posts in two days. I’m really spoiling you. Well, actually, this is mainly just information for others who have experienced the same problem as me, or are thinking of getting one of these. This is the one I have, it’s listed as the “Sandisk Sansa Clip Zip”, and it looks a little like this…

8754001871_625cc42695_o

Well, in fact it looks a lot like this, because that’s actually it. Now, I bought it a couple of weeks ago, and have suffered with the device having very, very little volume. I happened to be in may favourite chatroom, when Marko (who has posted a few comments on here too) mentioned, in passing that he had one.

[20:18:42] [Marko] I remember showing my mum and dad my little sansa clip mp3 player
[20:19:19] [Scribbler] Haha, I’ve just got one of those sansa clips
[20:21:38] [Scribbler] I need something to make it louder
[20:21:44] [Marko] louder?!
[20:21:52] [Marko] did you set the region to “world”
[20:22:10] [Marko] if you have it set to europe, it’ll be quiet
[20:22:15] [Marko] due to EU regulations

Well, I rushed downstairs as fast as my milky-white legs could carry me. I remember it asking me the region, but thought that was just for the radio, which I’ll probably never use anyway. I negotiated the menu and couldn’t find an option for that. However, I did a factory reset on it (Settings > System Settings > Restore), and got the option for “Europe” and “Rest of World”.

Naturally, I selected RoW, and found out I could then crack the volume up until ELEVEN. Problem solved, and I shall have a happy bus journey listening to “Crap From the Past” until my ears bleed.

EDIT: If, by some chance, you’ve picked one of these up in 2018, Rockbox is available which is a firmware replacement for the Clip Zip. You can pick it up here as long as you don’t mind a bit of tinkering and/or potential bricking.

The Steam Easter Indie sale. My purchases.

EDIT MARCH 2017: No doubt there’ll be a steam sale in the next month or so, and in the off-chance someone finds this during the same, here’s my update on what I still think of these games…

So, for a few more days, Steam are having what they’re calling their “Indie” sale. These are games what are written by individuals, or small independent companies. My love for them dates back to the days where another word for them was “public domain”. and the games were on the Amiga. I would save up what little pocket money I had, and rush down to the now defunct “Peak Computers” in York Road. to pick up 3.5″ floppies, with some of the latest “PD” games on them.

Fast forward almost 20 years, and my love for the independent developer has not died, and as this is a sale, I thought I’d buy a few. I’m brassic for the next 5 weeks, so this couldn’t have came at a worse time, but I’ve still picked up a couple up.

First up… “Thomas Was Alone”, in the sale for £2.99.

This obviously comes out of the “Less Is More” stable of graphics, and this is not necessarily a bad thing. Movement is fluid, as you’d expect from 4-sided polygons, music is perfectly acceptable, but the highlight of the game is strangely the narration, and the fact that each block has its own story. Narration is provided by Danny Wallace, someone who I have actually heard of. As with all of these types of games, you’ll think you’re stuck on a level, then get fed up and quit, only for you to sit there for the next 20 minutes, staring at your desktop, working out how to do this. You eventually have an idea, you load it straight back up, you complete the level, and the circle of life is complete.

MARCH 2017: I don’t really play this one anymore. It’d been a good 18 months since I last gave it a blast, but I do remember getting into it slightly. Probably worth getting if it appears cheaper.

Hokay… next up… “Garry’s Mod”, which set me back a whopping £1.49

I… I just don’t get it. It seems insanely popular, but I just can’t seem to be able to do anything at all with it, and where’s the fun in that? I spawned some balloons, which I popped. Some crows and seagulls, which I shot. A table, which I threw about a bit, and that’s practically been it. Maybe I’m just reading too much into a sandbox game which is many years old, but I can’t see the point in it? Is there any point? There’s even Steam achievements that claim “2 hours of your life wasted”. Maybe I’m just too old for this shit? See, now if I was 4 when this game was released, the little-me would have embraced it with open arms. The 33-years-old me keeps thinking “Well, I really could be doing the pots right now. Or getting myself a life”. naaah, the latter will never happen.

Well, I really hated this one, as I couldn’t get anything to work as it was supposed to. Currently uninstalled, and I don’t geel any great need to ever go back to it.

And so… onto “Super Hexagon”…

Well, this one set me back a silly amount of money. 67p. to put that into context, a can of coke out of the vendy at “Newest Employment Palace” sets me back 70p. therefore, if I can get 30 seconds worth of enjoyment out of this game, then it’s been worth it. And you, know what, I haven’t managed to get any more than what’s stated above – 24 seconds! Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily! It is very, very difficult. For me, anyway. If you’ve got the hand-eye co-ordination of a nettle, you’re going to struggle with this. And that’s its beauty, as strange as it may seem.

You control a pointer on the screen, which you rotate by the cursor keys, and you have to avoid hitting the bright lines. Seems simple enough, except the screen is constantly spinning, and the playfield is spinning in the opposite direction. The screen pulsates to the sound of the music, and everything gets faster, at more of an angle the further you get into it. I’d say, the average game length for me is 12 seconds. It’s something I can’t describe in text.

Before I loaded it up tonight to get the screenshots, I was going to put it in the “This is shit” pile, but then I broke my record by a few seconds, then a few seconds more, and those small time differences actually gave me a sense of achievement. Last time I felt that good after 20 seconds of action, I was [insert sexually explicit joke here]

MARCH 2017: Worth every single penny of what I paid. I decided to tackle the hardest levels first, then work back, as it made the easy levels so much simpler. Up to about 75 seconds on the easy level now. Get it, if it reappears.

Last, but not least, “Puddle”.

I do like my physics games. I’d put them up there with driving games as one of my favourite types of game. the premise is simple. you control fluid, you tell it where to go by rotating the game screen using the cursor keys. The more fluid you get to the exit, the better your score. If fluid leaves the screen, for instance, it gets caught somewhere, and it disappears off the top of the board, you lose it. Each level requires you to finish with a certain amount of fluid. Go below this, and it’s game over. Naturally, there are also obstacles that will evaporate fluid, making it just that little more tricky.

There’s plenty of worlds to explore, and the graphics are the best out of the bunch I’ve purchased of the last couple of days. Despite it being pretty much a physics engine simulation, it just feels too linear. You can only turn the board to a certain angle, which invariably leaves you with large smatterings of stuff everywhere, which naturally disappears off the top of the screen. I might just be in the early stages of the game. I don’t know if I can be bothered getting much further.

MARCH 2017: Got bored of this one really easily too. Not for me, I’m afraid.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Get these while they’re hot. Or cheap.

THE BINDING OF ISAAC

Have I mentioned this before? If not, get it. Now. 99p. This game is huge, yet you’ll actually struggle to see much of it. Think “Atic Atac”, but with poo jokes and random maps. I bought this ages ago, and have never been able to take screenshots from it. Odd.

MARCH 2017: Yeeeeeeah, it’s still OK I suppose. I could never get anywhere wit it, and it gets repetitive very quickly, even though the maps are different each time.

10,000,000

I would love this, but it falls into the all-too-obvious trap of getting easier and easier the more you play it. It’s not that you actually get better, it’s that the items you unlock just make the game easier. I’ve not played it for a while though, as I know I’m literally a couple of playthroughs off getting 10,000,000 points to complete the game (hence its name). I’d completely write it off, if it wasn;’t for the fact one of the tunes in the game is remarkably similar to “Monday“, one of my favourite Amiga chiptunes of all time. Also, this one, known as “intro33.mod“>. I’m posting it here, as it’s taken me 20 years to find out its actual name. I just knew it as the jolly little tune that played when I inserted my Project X disk, with its blue handwritten label, and the “Future Zone” logo emblazoned on the disk shutter. I digress.

MARCH 2017: I still really enjoy this game, and thankfully it’s still available on Steam, so if there’s a similar sale in 2017, I’d recommend getting it..

I was going to put a couple more in, but there’s no point. All I have to say is that everyone on the planet, whether, to mis-quote Johnny Mathis, you’re white, brown, yellow, it doesn’t matter. you just have to own Audiosurf, Chime or Beat Hazard.

Writer’s block. It doesn’t come any tougher than this!

Well, OK. I can’t exactly class what I do on this blog as writing, but I’m doing it anyway. It seems over the last few months, the part of my brain that converts the thoughts in my head into “words” (some of them, admittedly made up), and then down my arms, to the fingers, finally onto the inky blackness of my keyboard, has been playing up. I’ve had loads to write about despite the fact I’ve been on the dole, but every time I sit and start typing, I get about three lines down, the whole thing turns to shit, and I end up with yet another barely-started entry in my “drafts” folder, helplessly waiting for the precise moment that the mixture of caffeine, sugar, and quite possibly alcohol, finally kick that part of my brain into gear, and the words cascade into this blog, like some weird form of UTF-8 diarrhoeah.

So, let’s start off by stating the obvious. Both of the people who read this, have found out through Facebook that I do indeed have a new job. It starts tomorrow, and yes, I’m as shocked as anyone.

That’s the last I’ll say on it for now, as you should know what I’m like, for my infamous “splots”. Basically, this is the sound of my arse imploding, after I get overly paranoid about what I say on here, and that my place of employment may very well be spying on me.

I don’t know what I’m bothered about, if I’m honest. It’s been a fact for centuries, that nobody actually reads a blog, and instead they just stop off to look at the purdy pictures. And that just goes to prove that in the world of social media, the humble blog doesn’t really have anything to say anymore. You’re probably not reading this now, you’re just looking for the next photo, so I could go on from here and literally slag off every employer I’ve ever worked for, however, that would leave me without references, and that would be a bad thing.

So, admittedly, it’s been since January since I last updated this site properly. I do apologise. February was pretty much a write-off. I had a chest infection that laid me up on the couch for a good long while. Pretty much the entire month, if I’m honest.

I really can’t be arsed with a timeline of what I’ve been up to, places I’ve visited, that type of stuff. That’s what I have Twitter for. I can, however say that I’ve been trying to further my education. Back when I initially signed on, I bumped into an old security guard who worked at Employment Palace. He informed me of a cabling course running in the grounds of HUFC. Hartlepool United Footba… etc. A trip to the job centre later confirmed me as being on the course…

Unfortunately, due to the job, I’m not actually able to complete the course, and this was pretty much the “fear” all along. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to finish, as I didn’t plan to be on the dole for 12 weeks. Still, I’ve left with some skills I never had before. Not many people can say they’ve done this…

This is 100 core cable, routed into 100 RJ45 sockets for voice communication. Or something. My brain's not really switched on at the moment.
This is 100 core cable, routed into 100 RJ45 sockets for voice communication. Or something. My brain’s not really switched on at the moment.

… and know exactly what each strand of wire does. The downside is now, that my head is full of absolutely useless anagrams which I’ll probably never use again. “We Ride Big Yellow Vans” and “Be On Guard By Six”. both refer to how you terminate 20-core cabling, and the colours of it. It was all genuinely interesting, even though I am usually shit at anything practical. for someone who could barely wire a plug, building a working RJ45 ethernet cable has got to be one of my proudest moments to date. Well, OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but yeah, still proud.

so, that course took up 12 hours of my week up. I have also been converting some of my old audio tapes to digital format. I can’t remember if I mentioned I picked up a USB tape deck a few months back. Well, I did, and it’s pretty awesome. It was spurred on, once again, by Chad. I’d got a bit drunk the other night and headed off to Youube. During my time there, I’d discovered that the demo version of one of my favourite albums, “Bridge of Spies” by T’Pau, not only had been released, it was on Spotify. Oh my word! Off I went to Facebook, to show my approval of this…

Me: I’ve just found a demo version of “Bridge of Spies”. The first album I ever owned, despite it being on a C90, supplied by Chad Phillips. Recorded 2 years before the album’s release. Every single track is a demo version. I’m up to track 3 on spotify, I must own this.

Chad: I have no memory of ever owning, copying for you or listening to this album. How do you remember all this?

Me: I literally grew up with this tape. As strange as it sounds, it’s one of the most important pieces of plastic in my life. Remember when my Speccy broke, and you (or your parents) donated the C16 to the “keep Jamie happy” fund? I listened to this tape over and over again while games loaded. Probably something to do with the C16 having its own tape deck. The other side of the tape was even more important to me, with such classics on it as Status Quo’s “In The Army Now”, and Samantha Fox’s “I Surrender (To the spirit of the night)”.

I briefly wittered on about this very tape and album, back in 2008, which is when I first started to digitise my tape collection. Sadly, I have no idea what I did it, but I can at least provide an image of the tape.

Er, anyway, enough about that tape, as there’s been some classic finds… a 30 second clip of the afore-mentioned Chad, remixing the “Why Don’t you…?” theme, involving exchanging Y-fronts for boxers…

Another, slightly more harrowing recording, is one I have absolutely no information on, except I’m on it, and I was possibly in school, in IT class. I was going to post an actual MP3 file of it, but it didn’t seem right, seeing as I don’t know who else is on there, so here’s a transcript.

Person 1: Get off my computer NOW!
Person 2: Hey, Leave him alone!
Person 1: Get off me computer y’ daft cunt, what did you do that for?
Me: Get off! Because I fucking did
Person 1: Did that hurt?
Me: Oh yeah, it did fully.
[recording stops]

Again, I have no idea why this 15-second recording exists, but it certainly leaves more questions than answers. I was never the most popular kid at school, so was I being bullied? Did I record this just to get evidence? Or was I being a twat, and had sabotaged Person 1’s computer in order to gauge a reaction so I could record it for comedy purposes? why did I have access to a tape recorder in school anyway? The rest of the tape doesn’t provide any other clues. It’s all just music I’d taped off records.

I have yet to sift through them in any great detail, but when I do, I shall post some finding on here. And I might also keep you updated about the job.

Expires: Jul 19, 2017

Well, I’ve just bought myself a Collectorz Connect account. that means I’ll shortly be putting my music database online PROPERLY, and it’ll probably be around for many years to come. Unless, like all internet-based services, is that it’ll die a complete death long before then.

I’ve been using a piece of software to manage my music collection for some time now, and I’ve made a few half-arsed attempts to get the damn thing online. These have been mainly down to the difficulty of the “export” feature of the software. It outputs HTML files, which aren’t easily searchable, aren’t exactly beautiful, and weren’t the ideal option. Uploading involved exporting to a directory, creating a tarball of the files, uploading to the server, untaring via a shell, and hoping, nay praying I managed to get the command right. If I didn’t, it would usually mean I’d overwrite a file somewhere on the site. There was a time I managed to create an 80Mb HTML file of complete garbage by doing this. Not ideal.

Therefore, I hope this is a better solution.

It’s not ideal, as I don’t host it myself, but this solution will last until 2017. That means it’ll probably outlive this site, the majority of my music collection, and the amount of times I’ve been in and out of the doctors and/or hospital in 2012, it’ll probably outlive me. Er, on the plus side, it takes me one click to update the database, and I still have the ability to share just that little bit more about my favourite music, even if both of my readers couldn’t actually care less.

Feel free to browse the collection here:-

http://connect.collectorz.com/users/scribbler/music/view

No doubt that’ll replace the “Collection” link in the sidebar, if and when I can be bothered to do it.

Those damned onion rings…

For those of you who see me as a bit of a miser, someone who would drop a penny and have it hit me on the back of the head, you’d be surprised to learn that I’ve spent a “considerable” amount of money over the last couple of days. Plans were made a couple of weeks ago, by Dick Brown, to go out on the lash on Thursday, 3rd March. This involved also getting me some new clobber. I’m not the most fashionable of people. If it’s not folded up on a shelf in Matalan / Primark, I just don’t bother with it. I’m too old to be “trendy”. Mr. Brown offered to meet me the day before, and offer me his infinite wisdom when it comes to all things fashion…

I could hardly wait. Jamie S came to the rescue, and announced that he was going to the Metro Centre with another one of my “work colleagues”, Davvi, and that we were more than happy to tag along. I think my exact words were “Woohoo!”

Everything was arranged, including the times to get picked up, even down to the budget I was willing to spend. I had a sneaking suspicion that Mr. Brown was going to drop out, so I dropped some bait on Twitter after I’d gotten in from work…

Waiting for @thedickbrown a.k.a. Gok Brown to work his designer magic. 6:29 AM Mar 2nd via web

Sure enough, when it came to getting picked up at approximately 1PM, I was broken the ‘bad’ news, that he had indeed dropped out….

On a scale of 1-10, @thedickbrown is a pussy. 

I’d like to say I was surprised. I really wasn’t. That means, there were three of us left. Me, Jamie S and Davvi. Therefore, we left Hartlepool, sans Barney-Rubble-With-A-Beard, and headed up the A19/A1 to the CENTRE OF METROS!

So, there we were. In the North East’s largest shopping centre, ready to buy clothes for the night out of awseomeness arranged by Dick Brown. Where was our first stop? Yes, you’re entirely correct – a record shop named “That’s Entertainment”. And I’ll tell you something, it’s absolutely superb. It’s where all of the old CDs go to die. Nowhere else on this planet has a shelf full of “The Awards 1989”. I’m quite sure it’s the first time I’ve ever walked into a shop and almost lost the entire contents of a testicle. Needless to say I spent ~£25, and walked out with a bag of CDs that would weigh me down for the rest of the day. I didn’t even touch the DVD section.

The time I spent in there was disputed. Jamie S claims I spent an hour in there. I reckon it was shorter, as I would have spent a hell of a lot more.

The clothes shopping began, and I entered shops I normally wouldn’t dream of going into. The reason for this, was every pricetag appeared to be 10 times more than I was willing to pay. Take the jeans for example. Maybe I’m missing a trick, or just not getting the joke, but why buy “distressed” jeans? As in the ones purposely ripped / faded? The more I try to get my head around it, the more I think that they’re so scruffy, I couldn’t even wear them to work. Why would I want to spend £80 on them? I’ve got jeans that I wouldn’t even leave out for the poly-bag

An amusing episode occured in Foot Locker. Jamie S saw some shoes. They weren’t bad to be honest. Black and yellow “Penguin” things. He goes off to the counter… and after a hell of a lot of rummaging, it turned out they only had the left shoe in stock. Oh, my *sides*. I must admit, that’s happened to me before in shoe shops, but it still remains a mystery how / why it can happen.

After many hours of shopping, all three of us were hungry and dehydrated. Unfortunately, my suggestion of heading to the indian restaurant (which I didn’t know existed, until I smelt it, and instantly lost the contents of my other testicle) was rejected, meaning we had to go to a “normal” place. I’d heard good things about Frankie + Benny’s, as in nice food. Unfortunately, nobody told me about the price.

The beer was £3.10 a glass. I’m not sure if this is a record for what I’d paid, but I wasn’t too bothered. You’re in the middle of a shopping centre. I just wanted my throat wetting. The cost of the starters / main course were reasonable, I suppose, but the mistake *I* made was when the waiter asked… “Would you like some onion rings?” The room fell silent. I’m sure there were people gesturing me to say ‘no’ on other tables, but I must have interpreted it as a bout of wind. Surely they were complimental. I can’t think of anything cheaper to make. Yes, I ordered the onion rings. Some guy, three tables away just shook his head. The look of disappointment on the other two’s faces made me think instantly that something had gone south.

The meal came. I went for the steak, medium, well-done. It arrived, and it was delicious. The onion rings weren’t far behind. there were literally 7 of them. Davvi had one, and found them too spicy. I must admit, after one bite, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Unfortunately, the bill was next, after we’d gorged ourselves.

I’m not too bothered about everything else, however, the onion rings were… £3.55. No, I’m not shitting you. Three pounds, fifty-five pence. For 7. OK, they were the best onion rings I’d ever had, but that’s not the point. They must have saw me coming. (insert ejaculation joke here).

I didn’t mention that I did actually find some decent clothes in this whole trip. I also found a new jacket, and £3 Primark plimmies to top off the look. It can’t have all been expensive…

Our new defecation station!

I do apologise for being a bit quiet since returning from Blackpool. Unfortunately, I was struck down with manflu. I have struggled on with the aid of Lemsip and several toilet rolls, and now the only lingering ailment is a chest that likes to fill itself up with green mucus every morning, meaning that I sound like a broken motorbike every time I get out of bed. I’d also like to apologise to the people who I may have infected with the afore mentioned plague. Considering I didn’t step foot outside of Mercuryvapour Towers for 6 days, I don’t think that would be many people.

Something that happened before I went to Blackpool was the installation of an “upgraded facility”. Regular viewers will remember that Mercuryvapour Towers boasts two toilets, however, the downstairs bog has been pretty much out of order since the 90s. It “worked”, but had to be flushed by the use of a bucket, as the cistern had completely gave in, and had to be sealed off. Fast forward to Winter 2011, and swollen pipes.

Now, as you can gather, the mention of toilets and swollen pipes usually means that I’ve had a rather vicious vindaloo the previous evening. Fortunately, this was not the case, however, the destruction was equally as bad, causing an entire toilet to be “written off”. The previously sealed pipes delivering water to the cistern froze, and split, causing a water leak, all over the concrete floor of the toilet, meaning the off-shot was little more than a large rectangular puddle. Grrr.

Several attempts were made to stem the flow of Hydrogen Dioxide, sadly, none of them came to fruition, and before you could say “Noah’s Ark”, Daddykins was on the phone booking a plumber. I assumed he was just going to get someone out to repair the broken pipe. This wasn’t the case, however, as he’d also ordered a new toilet to be fitted. Hurrah! I’d hinted that an extra working bog would be beneficial, after the “Lidl” incident several months ago. If you don’t know what this is, think yourselves lucky, all I’ll say is that “backups are important”…

I suppose you’d want to see what it looks like….

I’m not going to excuse the colour of the walls, or the flaking paint. This “room” has been unused since the mid 1990s. Repainting the walls and laying a carpet in there would be completely pointless. The only reason I’ve posted the photo is to show ‘Chad’, our resident troll (who oddly maintains silence in any blog post I mention him in), that the spirit of the Bangermobile is still alive and kicking.

Either way, I wasn’t around for the bog fitting. I had just finished work, and therefore went to bed. I do know, however, the plumber got soaked suring the fitting, as the main water valve couldn’t be turned off for whatever reason.

It cost a lot less than I was expecting, and now we have two shitters. This is good news, should we ever expect guests. I can stink out the off-shot as much as I like. Nobody would ever want to go into the back garden!