A Coffee at Breakfast for Clarity of Thought

Nine months without posting! I hear the drum roll of the blog executioner fed up with yet more wasted space on the Internet. It really is a discipline that you need to rigidly stick to. What’s the maxim of the author? Get up. Write 100 words before breakfast irrespective of how rubbish they are. Review them after breakfast and tidy them up. After 50 days you’ll have a 40,000-60,000 word novella give or take that’s not a first take.

Of course, you would need to be a bit of a morning person, or at the very least have a restful sleep leaving your mind free of cares at the start of the next day; in addition to being able to remember what it was you had to do that morning, other than make your kids porridge, put the cat out/let the cat in, put the washing on, tidy up, remember to get dressed …

Freelance work can take over a bit as the time you would spend mulling things over and trawling huge numbers of web pages tends to be taken up trying to work out why a piece of code you added isn’t working or which one of the WordPress plugins is causing the conflict. Organising your time is one option, so that you spend a certain amount of time on one thing and then switch to another. However, this is terribly difficult as once you get into a script or are re-designing a site you get carried away with it, and it feels like you’re writing a new book. The design of the code and the pages take over and taking a couple of hours over a 100×100 pixel icon is not unknown.

One of the easier things to do (for some I admit, not for others) is strip away the distractions, the email, the tweets, the urge to check for the latest news, the need to read that latest piece on HTML5, or watching the next episode Homeland/The Waking Dead/The Killing etc. Being self-centred does have its advantages at times.

So, where am I going in this rambling thread of a post. I guess it’s about admitting a certain amount of self-discipline is necessary to not only ensure you get through many of the things you want to do but also that urges to bash away for hours on a single thing do need to be checked at times.

And doing the latter can actually provide you with the fresh hours of an author fresh from their breakfast coffee.

Switching Broadband

This is a minefield. There are many companies offering many deals, many of which require considerable analysis to understand how much they cost. While not as impenetrable as the average gas/electricity provider, they do come a close second.

I hadn’t really bothered going through the data since signing up to an 18-month contract with Virgin Media. However, that came to an end last month and being on a 30-day notice rolling contract it makes sense to start seeing what benefit changing provider may bring.

Additionally, a fter having horrendous problems with VirginMedia over the last 8 weeks getting 0.28Mbps on the worst day, and spending well over 6 hours on the phone to them, I managed to get an engineer out who switched the router/modem. All’s well so far but the experience

Being of limited time, I’m not about to wade through price comparison sites and individual providers given. The former rarely tells me all the information I want and also normally servers to confuse, particularly when you don’t know if they have got all providers in there and whether any data is being presented in a less than fair way.

Provider’s sites would help but having spent 2 hours going through one it’s too much effort to go through many more in the same way, when generally the two main providers, BT and Virgin Media pretty much provide the best deals … for what I’m after anyway.

The requirements are simply:

  • 10-20Mbps
  • 40GB minimum usage
  • phone line
  • Standard TV or Freeview

So, I went through BT’s packages and worked out what the deals are. It looks like BT is £5 a month cheaper and with BT Infinity soon to be available in my area the 20Mbps+ speeds will soon be available.

This is taking advantage of the BT TV Essential and Evening & Weekend Calls package (£22/mo plus calls for first 4 months plus setup fee £36) and then moving to More Broadband and Calls with BT Infinity in January 2012 (£27/mo plus calls plus activation fee £25). This does require paying the phone line for the full 12 months (£120 instead of £166.90).

When I put this to Virgin Media their only response was essentially you’ll have to pay more to get the same level. Time to seriously consider jumping ship, unless of course BT horror stories put me off …

In praise of The Walking Dead

Back in about 1981 I went round to my neighbour’s house to watch a video. We didn’t have a video player at ours – just the standard four push-button TV, and yes, that means the four channels – and watching a video felt somewhat exotic. So, around I go. Excitedly, my next-door neighbour slots a video into the player and we settle back to watch Dawn of the Dead.

Now, being 9-10 years old and unused to watching anything scarier than Scooby-Doo the film imprinted a marked impression on me. One that remained every night for about 4 weeks, truth be told. The one scene that I can never shake from my memory is when the pilot is trapped in the lift and a zombie takes a chunk out of his neck as if biting into a large over-ripened apple. The whole film scared the hell out of me but I watched it through. I really thought zombies were real for the next month or so.

So, fast-forward 30 years and I’m back watching zombies for grown-ups. There are backstories to the characters. There’s a Lost like strangeness with characters dreaming the future (admittedly I only watched three episodes of Lost before I gave up). There are characters with flaws; characters with a backbone so rigid you could strap any number of poles to it and sail it down a river; rednecks spoiling for a fight; distant philosophical types who perch on caravans staring into the sky, or perhaps looking for zombies; and, of course, characters who get chunks bitten out of their necks, and arms, and legs. Hooray!!

I caught myself comparing this to the recent BBC sci-fi drama that was Outcasts, you remember, the one you watched right to the bitter end in the vain hope that it might at some point lift itself out of a scene from Doctor Who circa 1973 but left you feeling like you had asked for a piece of Black Forest Gateaux but got packet blancmange instead. I was left wondering why the BBC, for all its great taste and free money, isn’t able to spot the turkeys and then lets the gold dust slip through its fingers (think Mad Men series 5. Grrr! Some of us are still Sky-less.)

More zombies and daftness please. And don’t make it too serious. I might start having nightmares again.

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