July 2011 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

Search Box Rebuilt (24th July 2011)

Quite some time ago, it seems Google Site Search stopped being free. My search box hasn’t worked since then. Tonight I rebuilt it using a Google Custom Search and now the results can be hosted on a page of my website. The whole thing depends on JavaScript and took some CSS kung-fu to look adequate.

Flight Simulator in Westfields (17th August 2011)

Fiona had bought me a Groupon voucher for this and we finally booked it. Left the flat before 9am and took the Tube right across London. The simulator was awesome, with LCD cockpit instruments and all the switches a real modern airliner has. The instructor was a cool guy, doing all the fiddly stuff for me so I just steered.

You get to choose where you take off from and where you land. I chose London City Airport to take off, which was spectacular. There was just enough runway to get airborne!

For the landing I chose Hong Kong for the famously difficult approach over the city. We started 10 miles out from the new artificial island, did a ‘touch and go’ on that runway. Reminded me of landing an F-14 Tomcat on an aircraft carrier in the fantastic MS-DOS game Top Gun: Fire at Will. Must find out if that game will run properly on a Windows XP machine!

The instructor was brilliant, advising me of the route and setting the instruments manually to help guide me. It takes a sharp right-hand turn to line up but there were lights in the air to help show the route. I landed us successfully on the runway so felt very pleased!

That was the end of the session but I think I got a bit of extra time as I was being such a keen student. (And a bit of a teacher’s pet!) The instructor signed a certificate which I packed in my lunchbox to avoid creased. We got a voucher for 50% off another session in the next 3 months, too!

Road Bicycles (17th August 2011)

We took a slightly different route back from my flight simulator session. While on the Tube we got chatting to a cyclist about street bicycles. A few easy searches at my PC and I find a simple blue road bike for under £50 on the Preloved website. This could be quite easy!

He recommended Bike Exchange to get a good 2nd-hand deal. Seem to be a lot of websites called that but none quite match. He did say it might not be online yet.

GTA1 Running on Windows XP (13th July 2011)

The version on Rockstar Classics does run adequately on this 2001 machine with Windows XP! 1024×768×16 fullscreen with frame rate limiter turned on and it’s fine. Yay!

This will allow me to check the original against the resurgent project to converted GTA1 cities to GTA2.

Dad’s Birthday (9th July 2011)

Guinea Pig babies have grown a lot! Mum will sell them to the pet shop in a week or so. Dad cooked a massive gammon bacon in the pressure cooker. It was delicious! I played quite a bit of Gran Turismo 2 and found some better setups by adjusting the spring rate settings.

Regent’s Park with Friends (8th August 2011)

Fiona invited 3 of her friends to Regent’s Park with us. We started at Fiona’s place and then tookh the Tube, missing our station once. Quite a lot of stairs for the couple who had a baby in a pram!

We shared a lovely pub lunch then played football and frisbee in a playing field. Walked through the beautiful formal gardens of the Inner Circle area.

Walked all the way back into Fitzrovia to find places to eat. I departed as we got near my road and I was heading out to visit my parents that evening.

London Job Ended (5th August 2011)

Almost exactly 2 years since I started making websites in an agency, I had my last day. The card was signed by many people. I received a little speech from the MD an gave a little speech. Two other people were leaving and experienced the ritutal before I wrapped things up.


Visited Family

To mark the occassion I returned to Fleet and caught up with the folks for a couple of days.

Tried to play football with Zoe at the local park but there were intermittent torrential downpours. When we had almost returned to the house I realised I had an umbrella. This useful fact had completely slipped my mind as I had never previously used an umbrella in Hampshire.

Mum made an outstanding roast pork dinner, as ever. It’s worth going back just for that!

Job Hunt

After my return I duely (or perhaps overduely!) updated Site Surgeon. Have re-engaged with my former networks and joined a handful of London recruitment agencies. Had lots of contact back from some of them. Monday 22nd August 2011 might be when I return to freelancing. This time it seems more likely to be getting embedded within companies, on their premises. Before that I used to freelance from home.