Fun And Hobbies

The things that I enjoy above all else are mundane but entirely fascinating to me. I recently made my first foray in to the world of Conventions, specifically, Science Fiction conventions. I was fortunate enough to attend Redemption 05, a convention for fans of Blake's 7 and Babylon5. If you've read anything on these pages, you'll see it's appeal for me. What can I say? It was fabulous. The programme was packed with fascinating events, there were great guests and everyone was really friendly. You would not have had to be a huge SF fan to enjoy it, it was a blast. You can see my poor rather pictures here.

I was lucky enough to own an old river cruiser which lived on the Lee river North of Enfield. She was a 24 foot Eastwood with a petrol engine, but she made my family and I very happy. We only went for short cruises up and down the river, none of us being able seaman, but we loved the sights, sounds, and even smells the river has to offer.Sadly, after my father passed away I was unable to give the boat the maintenance she required and she was sold in May 2003.


Enjoying a lazy day on the river

Another great passion of mine is Computing and gadgets. I have a particular love of digital imaging systems, owning several digital camera (Sony A700, Sony A200 (Both Sony’s are DSLRs) Olympus C8080WZ, a Nikon CoolPix 990 and a CoolPix 4500) as well as a budget HD camcorder (CanonLegria HFM307 or something like that) and a loaned (Thanks Mike!) Dazzle MPEG 2 encoder. I run a network at home which consists of 1 Dell Power Edge 840 quadcore Xeon Server, five assorted desktops and a few laptops. The multi player games of Age of Empires and Neverwinter Nights 1 + 2 are legendary around here :-) In the last eight years or so, we have also greatly benefited from a broadband connection, intermittently supplied by Virgin Media. Its actually a  lot more stable and reliable since they replaced the cable outside my house.

I dabble with all sorts of weird and wonderful bits of software on my home systems in order to train myself for my work. My work roles rarely coincide with my personal interests in the IT field, so I use my machines at home to satisfy my curiosity and need to learn new things. A couple of projects I have found interesting lately were setting up an ESX Farm and setting up windows media streaming services which enabled me to hook up my web cam to broadcast to the internet.

Down to the beach at Wells

I enjoy traveling around the U.K. and have been to many beautiful places. Places close to my heart include Wells - Next - The - Sea in Norfolk, Barmouth in Wales, most of the west coast of Scotland in particular the Isle Of Skye. These wonderful locations give me something interesting to take pictures of, and I just love the scenery, as different as it is, in all those places and many more besides.

In 2002 the family were holidaying on Skye. We had a cottage booked for two weeks in August, and many of the pictures we took appear here on one page or another.

The current favorite game is Bioware's Neverwinter Nights. Being an old pen and paper version addict of Dungeons and Dragons, I saw a great deal of potential in this game and awaited its release eagerly. It arrived and sucked me in deep. I have finished the single player game and I've finished both the add-on's for it. Hordes of the Underdark was particularly good, adding another 20 levels to your personal character development :-) The game has its faults (it's was buggy and unstable, path finding is poor, bit heavy on the hack and slash) but it overcomes these faults by being just superb and highly immersive. Andy and Luke have been caught by it too and it is not unknown for us to play all night through. I prefer the 9 hour sessions through the day at the weekend myself :-) We manage at least one multiplayer game together a week even adding Teamspeak to let us chat and co-ordinate attacks. Wicked fun, and a recipe for matrimonial problems. Freelancer was another game that made me play it till I'd finished it. I loved Elite back in the day, and this is the modern version and Oh, does it kick arse! Beautiful to look at too. If you were a fan of Elite, check out Oolite. Just superb and free too.

My latest, greatest toy is Microsoft's Xbox 360 which I have to say is just stunning. It takes all the pain out of gaming online. Superb High Definition graphics, astonishing 5.1 surround sound, Arcade quality and beyond games in your living room and a huge price tag. Current favourite games are PGR4 and 3 and Conan. I'll get in to Mass Effect when I have some time on my hands. If you're thinking about it, stop thinking and go and buy one today. More fun than should be legal and a real relationship tester :-)

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