Archive: August 2012


Addicted to Fallout... again

I've long since had a fascination with nuclear weapons, specifically the effects on Earth (and the human race) should a nuclear war ever occur.

Obviously I'd much rather it didn't, but it is interesting to really think about just how well society as a whole would cope with mutually assured destruction.

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Restaurant Review: Bistro Jacques, Shrewsbury

The Shrewsbury Flower Show is in full swing, and Alex and I decided to take a brief trip into town to check out the crowds, have lunch and perhaps go for a bit of a walk while we were at it.

Unfortunately, the walk didn't really happen (we had to get back to the car before our parking ticket expired!) but lunch happened, and I'm really rather glad it did.

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Nostalgia Alert!

I'm currently in the process of putting as much of the extraneous possessions I've acquired over the years on to eBay.

One of these items is my old 32" television, which we definitely no longer need as we have an LG 37-incher in the living room and no real room for any other TVs anywhere else.

Unfortunately, the TV is quite old and doesn't have an in-built Freeview tuner, so without being paired with a set-top box it's not much use as a TV. This meant that to show it worked on the eBay listing, I had to come up with some other video source.

What better than my good old Sinclair Spectrum 48K? Yup, the one and only original squidgeboard:

So, I plugged it all in and set the TV searching for the channel the Speccy was using to send it's display to the TV. Once acquired, I set about writing a short Sinclair BASIC program to show off the TVs abilities (yeah, right...) which resulted in this picture:

The eBay listing was completed, and I continued about the rest of my Sunday afternoon business.

This involved a trip to Tesco, where I randomly stumbled upon a 3.5mm jack-to-jack lead on the floor. Curiously enough, I'd been thinking about getting one of these for a while to connect my iPhone up to my car stereos where Bluetooth wasn't available, but now I had another purpose in mind when I spotted it on the floor.

Spectrum games.

I mean, OK - you can fire up an emulator on your PC any day of the week and (thanks largely to World of Spectrum) play pretty much any Spectrum game you can think of there and then. However, nothing is quite like The Real Thing, is it?

The question now became, how to get the Spectrum game images (TZX files) into a format that the iPhone could play and that my Spectrum could understand.

Fortunately, I soon discovered a (frankly, brilliant) app in the App Store called Speccy Tape. It does exactly this - it takes a TZX file (also works with TAP files I think) and converts it to audio, plays it out of the headphone jack on the iPhone and the Spectrum loads the program from the audio.

The app description suggests that you need some form of amplifier to use it with a ZX Spectrum like mine, but I can happily report that no such device is needed with the iPhone 4 - you have to put the volume up to maximum, but it works brilliantly. As you can see:

That's pretty much my entire Sunday afternoon gone for a Burton, then.

Let's go, Mr. Driver!


Having a clear out...

It looks as if Alex and I will be moving house very shortly, we've put an application in for a new house to rent and assuming that's all approved we should be in within a month.

The new house doesn't have quite as big a driveway as the one we're in at the moment, but does have three very important features:

  1. A much, much, MUCH smaller garden.
  2. A carport.
  3. A garage.

The first one is excellent news, as mowing the lawns here is an exercise in frustration - there's so much grass that by the time you finish cutting one lawn the other lawns have grown so high you can't cut through it again!

The carport and garage are also good news, I can put the Celica in the garage and have the M5 and possibly Alex's Yaris out in the carport, if they'll both fit.

In anticipation of the move, I'm having a bit of a clear out. Almost anything that I don't need any more or is considered otherwise non-essential is going to end up on eBay, unless the suspected gains from it would render it pointless.

This includes the cars.

Now that I have the M5, I've decided that I really don't need all of the other cars. I don't think I could ever bring myself to get rid of the Celica though, so I've put the MR2 Turbo and MX-5 on eBay, with the BMW 735 to follow just as soon as I've picked it back up from the dealer in Harrogate that I collected the M5 from.

So, feel free to check in at my eBay selling page and see what goodies I'm getting rid of, you may just bag yourself a bargain...