April 2009 in the Life of Ben (Blog)

  1. January
  2. February
  3. March
  4. April
  5. May
  6. June
  7. July
  8. August
  9. September
  10. October
  11. November
  12. December

New Power Supply (29th April 2009)

The pictures are of the new innards of the upstairs PC. Previous setup looked much the same.

Power unit intake fan aligns with CPU exhaust. Case fan operates perpendicularly to them. A tight tangle of ribbon cables flow between the power lines. Looking down towards the cards at the bottom of the case. Motherboard covers entire far side of case. Wide view shows CPU is central with power supply above, various drives in front, various cards below and case fan behind. Close view of a power line jumping from DVD to CD to floppy drive. Hard drive uses a separate line.

Symptoms & Temporary Remedies

Online Guides

Getting the Replacement

Getting the Replacement


Report (2nd May 2009)

A good couple of days later and it’s been right as rain. Much quieter and immeasurably less annoying than the grinding of the old one!

Seems minutely quieter with the same type of noise as when the old one was running perfectly. The new one has 2 fans, one of which helps exhaust air away from the CPU. So I’m entirely pleased by it.

Palm Pre (28th April 2009)

(My response to Palm Pre CES Press Event, e-mailed to me by Fliss’s mum.)

Wow. This is how all companies should approach user interface design. Not just the likes of Palm and Apple!

Some moments are very reminiscent of the iPhone. Such as opening the photo gallery, looks just like the iPhone Apps list. And rotating the device to rotate the current view is the same.

Finding gestures which make sense across so many diverse activities is really impressive.

The politeness and compactness of the notification area is inspired. Windows XP has some things like that. The “balloon tips” which sprout from the system tray in the bottom-right corner and the status bar at the bottom of each application. But the Palm Pre demo did this so much more elegantly and thoroughly.

Gets a bit boring after about 45 minutes.

Mattias, the guy who presented the demo, reminds me of people I’ve met at web standards conferences. The younger generation of them, in particular.

Took me a week to make time for this. But I’m glad I did. c{:¬)

Cycling Crash! (24th April 2009)

Was trying to find Tundry Pond. You reach it by using a humpback bridge to cross Basingstoke Canal to the West of where I live. But I couldn’t remember where the bridge was.

Went to the wharf past Crookham Village, where there’s a banner-size tourist map. The towpath seemed closest to the pond after the Barley Mow Bridge. So I took the roads to there, joined the canal by the slipway and continued.

After going a long, long way I found the terrain less and less familiar. Eventually I went under a long, flat-arched concrete bridge with new-looking brick walls and towpath. This was clearly to far. I had missed the pond.

After a swig from my drinks bottle I turned around and headed home. The towpath was relatively busy but surprisingly few people are there any one time. Compared to most pavements it’s virtually deserted. Makes for a peaceful and reflective route.

Dropping In

I noticed a steep cutting several metres back from the towpath. It was well worn, so evidently people scramble up and down it. In retrospect I’m pretty sure they do this on foot.

The left half was like a steepening ridge and I would scamper up it on foot with pleasing agility. But the right was an almost sheer droop with some evil roots across it in places.

I tried riding my bike up the left part. Got about ¾ of the way up first try! After several more tries this seemed to be beginner’s luck. But I had one last go and equalled my personal best. With this I was satisified. I had proved to myself that my initial success was repeatable.

Carrying my bicycle to the top was somewhat challenging. I picked my footing carefully and managed it without slipping. Emboldened by this sequence of victories, I scoped out the right side.

It was steep. Oh boy, was it steep. Pretty high, too. In fact, it was just about enough of both to trigger that part of your brain which says: “Erm, you aren’t seriously thinking about doing that, are you?”

Well, I was. I considered sliding down it on foot. But something told me that if you’re gonna take a risk, you might as well make it a good’un. I now conclude that my balls were bigger than my brain at this moment.

I noticed a gap in the undergrowth approaching the lip of the drop. My outweighed brain figured this was from people cycling down it. So I lined myself up, psyched myself up and set my ride pedal up.

I pushed off and crawled towards the lip. As the front tyre went over I lifed off the saddle, straightened my arms and pushed my torso towards the rear of the bike. There was no turning back.

Crashing Hard

As the rear rolled over the lip, the bike pointed down the face of the drop. This was my first “uh-oh” moment because I was vertical. Yes, vertical!

You may be aware the gravity on Earth causes objects with mass to increase their downward speed by 10 metres per second each second. In layman’s terms, it makes flicking snot from a twangy stick look like a glacier taking a nap.

So as I plummeted down this drop, I had my second “uh-oh” moment. Longer and louder than the first. Indeed, it sort of blurred into the next one…

As the slope began to level out, I realised my feet had left the pedals and my rear wheel seemed to have left the ground. I slammed onto the frame of the bike, just behind the handlebars. Thankfully my male instincts jerked my pelvis over to the right, saving the things which had gotten me into this situation.

The rear wheel slammed back to the ground but I was now sat on the frame. My bicycle was, in effect, a unicycle without pedals. I don’t even know how to ride a unicycle with pedals.

I was really zipping along and the canal was barely 10 metres away. My offset position on the bike had made it lean to the left. It was veering towards a small tree. I was completely out of control. This was my third “uh-oh” moment.

Now on the flat, the surface changed from bare, dry earth into loose leaf cover. I was instinctively trying to steer left to get upright, so I could transfer my weight and brake to a controlled stop. But the front tyre had other ideas. It lost grip and slid out from under me, just like when they lose the front in MotoGP.

My left leg was now grinding across the ground, carrying much of my weight and that of the frame. My left hand was gripping the handlebar for dear life, which meant the end of the bar took the brunt of the force there. The front wheel was being tugged around by the handlebars but due to my forward position, this was forcing the rear of the tyre into the back of my lower right leg.

Suffice to say, there was a lot of speed and friction affecting me. What seemed like a long time later, I ground to a halt.

Damage Report

My left leg was sore. But the join between my left leg and my body was a really searing with pain.

I pushed the bike off me and lay on my back, eyes closed, legs bent at the knee. Just like a Tour de France rider after a bad fall. This seems to be the instinctive position of any cyclist who just got pwned by Physics.

After a solid couple of minutes, I realised no bones were broken. A casual observer might approximate the position I hobbled into as “standing”.

My left calve was scratched up like crazy. Using some of my drinks water, I washed off the worst of the dirt and blood. Also pulled some leaves out of my hair. I guess they were from the laying rather than the crashing.

Some mud was packed hard into my left brake lever, so I picked that out. It was an excuse to avoid moving around.

If you’ve ever seen Jackass or shows of that ilk, you’ll know the “grey man” look of a performer who just got hurt worse than they expected. It’s a strange mixture of:

Tail Between Legs

After a while the throbbing started to become bearable. I started wondering how to stick the landing. Stop on the lip? Lean back further? Hold the back brake?

(I can only equate this to Stockholm Syndrome. Like I was in love with the object which dominated me.)

Luckily my brain was now distinctly the bigger of the relevant organs. So I rode home. Gingerly.

Fired from Accessify Forum (24th April 2009)

Today the staff of Accessify Forum removed me from being a Moderator. They haven’t bothered announcing this or updating that topic. Nor did they ask the members what they wanted, although I expect this is it.

Allegedly I was “being objectionable” which could be said about anyone who has ever given any advice or opinion. Indeed, saying things which cause objections usually means you’ve found an interesting subject.

In GTA modding and website design, I’ve seen countless bad ways proliferate when the right ways are clear. People must stand up to the bogus, whizzbang, speculative techniques which cloud the subject and distract from the real solutions.

That’s what I do. That’s who I am. My general rule was to be, at a maximum, half the acidity of Joe Clark. Pretty sure I managed that.

Anyway, the rest of the staff were unanimous that I had to go. It’s their loss. Members were leaving long before I even registered, back in 2005. Roll on the death of accessibility by a thousand lousy but unchallenged techniques! c{¦¬/

Accessify is now Derelict

My gesture of leaving last year prompted the owner to resume moving Accessify Forum forwards. A few months later, the only actual work to come from this is:

There’s no chance of the forum getting it’s much-promised renovations. Even the tiny changes. Simply because I’m not there to do the actual work. Nobody else was going to do it, despite their promises. I’ve seen it all before. Go team!

In the words of Cartman: “Screw you guys, I’m goin’ home.”

Fliss Loves Me Not (15th April 2009)

I slept on the sofa and left the next day. This let us spend several hours together.

Asked Fliss to go out with me. Again.

She said no. Again.

I’m not sure if it’s me, though. Maybe there’s a past experience holding her back?

Family Day at the Seaside (9th April 2009)

Went to Boscombe beach with my parents.

The roads got really steep in the town as we got near to the seaside. So steep I was expecting hairpin turns and a pituresque gorge to suddenly appear. With BBC 2 motoring journalists zooming around in exotic supercars.

The local rotary club’s quarter marathon was being run. The finish line was just below the carpark.

We packed all 3 bicycles into the back of dad’s Ford Ranger Wildtrack. Stacked them on top of each other, all the handlebars down the cab end but alternating which side they went.

Overall, it was simply a lovely day out.

Fliss Thursday (9th April 2009)

Although my previous visit was just 3 days ago, it felt like we’d been apart for a while.

Warming Up

We start off a bit awkward and quiet, just catching up on minor events which had happened since last time. Started talking about economy; Fliss has seen redundancies and lots of people entering the store she works at asking for jobs. Having many strings to my financial bow means I’m somewhat protected, since I can move to other clients if places are tighteneing their purse strings.

We discussed whether history will repeat itself and whether it will be like the 1920’s Great Depression or more like the 1980’s recession. I think the latter since the conditions are more similar, so it’ll blow over after a while.

Fliss thinks our modern way of life will collapse at some point. I’m not sure. There are some good and clever people who work on this stuff.

Change of Subject

We started talking about what we have in common. This cheered us both up and warmed the atmosphere. Fliss let me ramble about how she compares to other people I’ve known. Described memories I have of them and we remembered past adventures we’ve had together.

This is probably the longest and deepest conversation I’ve had all year. Perhaps even since the last time Fliss and I were meeting regularly, back in 2007!

Weird Music

Fliss located for some interesting songs she had found online earlier in the week. One was called My Mouth is full of Drop-Kicking Astronauts and had a curious blend of:

Of course, Fliss and I tried to sing along. Perhaps “sing” isn’t the right word…it involved a lot of giggling and guffawing.

My Telephone & Me (9th April 2009)

Having seen the Memory Full message several times during the past week and cleared out lots of uninteresting message, I’ve decided to archive the remaining messages on my PC. To the phone’s credit, there first message does date back to 24th October 2006!

It is the Sharp GX15 my dad bought ages ago. For someone with a keen interest in better user interfaces it may seem odd to have a hand-me-down mobile. A model which is ancient history.

This phone genuinely fills the 119 daintily-size pages of the User Manual. The accompanying Quick Start Guide is a modest 9 pages. It is a straightforward product which can do a surprising amount.

Installing the Software

Found I don’t have the special cable to connect it to the PC. So now I have to search for an old cable. Might be one on eBay? Worth a look.

(Further documented by me in Installing the Sharp GX15 Software.)

New Cable (15th April 2009)

Bought on eBay at the end of last week, arrived today. Fits and works, although using the Sharp GX15 manager is a series of frustrations and confusions.

New Battery (20th April 2009)

Whilst browsing for cables I saw replacement batteries. I often put the phone into the red, so I figure it’s worth a shot. It arrived within a couple of days of ordering since it was during the week.

Fitted it the same day. It’s been idling on my desk since then. The battery status on the display has only just dropped down by a bar at 1am on 22nd April 2009.

Proven Success (1st May 2009)

The new battery is definitely lasting a lot longer than the old one.

Fliss on Monday (6th April 2009)

No matter how hard I try,
Every time I turn down your road,
I always get butterflies.
And the closer I get to you,
The faster they flutter.

Have you ever wondered,
Why I always come back?
It’s because I love you.
You make me feel such extremes of emotion:
I might hate you one minute,
But I always love you the next.

I love you, Flissy.
That’s the only explanation.

Improving GTA2 Game Hunter (6th April 2009)

After years of asking for it, Sektor sent me the source code for GTA2 Game Hunter on 23rd March 2009:

I've been planning to give you the code. I’m still making major changes, so for now it would just be for experimenting and personal use. The code is also a huge undocumented mess but I don’t see that changing anytime soon.


Since then I have been tidying up the user interface. No new features, just trying to make it nicer to use. I am calling it GTA2 Game Hunter BenMillard Edition (GHBM for short).

Sektor found, integrated or wrote from scratch all the difficult stuff. Ben Millard made a range of front-end changes to test usability ideas.

Public Announcements, Private Testing

Earlier today, Sektor clarified the status of my work.

Sektor:you can posts screenshots publically and talk about your work
BenMillard:yay :)
BenMillard:I'll write a blog entry about GHBM, with some screenies
BenMillard:GHBM is still a private release to trusted players
BenMillard:frankly I wouldn't want to make it public at this stage
BenMillard:not with that Autosize button up top

If you want to test GHBM, contact me. I’m BenMillard in GTA2 Game Hunter. I am not giving out the source code because it is Sektor’s project.


Public Release (28th December 2009)

Read the blog entry about its release or go to the new page for GHBM.