Why I don’t bother using Torrent sites anymore.

A few years ago I discovered the world of torrenting, first of all through p2p sites like Limewire and Kazaa and then later Pirate Bay and the utorrent app. Back then I was very new to the internet and I had an old second hand PC with just a 4GB hard drive, I also had a dial up internet and would wait several hours for just one or two mp3’s. and even then you couldn’t be sure that the file would contain what it said on the tin.

Well I got my fingers bitten once when Limewire, my own raging hormones and naievety led me to download what I was led to believe was a naked picture of the lovely Gates McFadden aka Doctor Crusher. However, when I opened up the file, my computer just went crazy and opened up several windows of hardcore porn and then it shut down and I was never able to start that PC ever again. I lost all my data (in hindsight, I know a lot more now and would probably be able to recover at least some of it.)

My next PC I was a little more cautious. I never used p2p sites but did use Pirate Bay regularly. I built up a nice collection of music and I used to be able to catch up with TV shows that my friends In the States had seen over six months ago. Granted, I knew it was illegal but my argument was that if TV studios and channels couldn’t get their act together in showing these programmes within just a couple of weeks of each other, then I thought it was fair for me to find them for myself. I mean, if you are a member of a forums where people like to talk about BSG, Lost or any other Geeky show, then that immediatly puts us Brits at a disadvantage.

Lately though things have improved greatly. Now we get shows like Lost, 24, BSG, Fringe and others within just a couple of weeks of original broadcast in the States. Likewise, I believe shows like Doctor Who and Torchwood will be showing on BBC America within a few weeks of being broadcast over here.

Also the same applies to movies (probably even more so). Who here has bought DVD’s from some dodgy bloke in the street? You buy this disc of the film that is still being shown at the cinema and you ultimately end up disappointed in the quality. Either the picture is crap, the sound isn’t synced up or you see people getting up and going to the loo. And the film ends abruptly with no credits.

The good news however is that most movies are now released within 3-4 months of cinema release. Now I don’t mind waiting that long at all and if you pre-order from Amazon, you can get the DVD’s for almost half the recommended price. Gone are the days where you’d have to wait nearly a year to watch these movies at home.

So, since my favourite shows have started coming over here soon after the States, and since I only have to wait a few months for DVD releases, I really see no reason to use Torrent sites for these things, and you never even get a decent quality movie on Pirate Bay ( mostly they are handy-cam recordings). Come to think of it, I can’t remember the last time I saw a chinese guy selling DVD’s on the streets. Is this because the Police are cracking down on it or is it because the quality is shit and if you wait a few months you can buy a pucker movie?

Now I’m not totally innocent and I do have some torrented music, but this was downloaded many months ago and I stopped once the major ISP’s in this country said they were going to clamp down on such action, so I guess that’s another reason not to use torrent sites anymore. But my main reason as I stated before is that shows are going out to a worldwide audience much quicker than they used to.


The Longest Bout Of Man Flu Ever.

So back in mid November,  I wrote a post about having a long overdue week off work only to be hit by the same bug that was affecting my kids.

Normally, most of us go through some kind of heavy cold or even the Flu at the start of Winter, apparently it’s the body’s way of preparing for the long winter months ahead,  so I expect to feel like shit for a few days but it then goes away and will sometimes come back at the start of  Spring for another round. But his year it’s been totally different.

Since back in November, this bloody bug has stayed in this house seemingly fading and then coming back and making you feel awful again. All four of us in our house have been affected by this thing, indeed my little girl has really suffered with her ears and today I had to take her to out of hours Doctors where a burst eardrum was diagnosed. She has been given anti-biotics to fight the infection and the Doctor said he was very surprised that she hadn’t been seen by a professional before today. Apparently a burst eardrum comes after the infection has built up and then has nowhere else to go but through that thin membrane. She had shown no obvious signs of pain until yesterday and when we saw the discharge on her hot water bottle this morning, we decided to take her in.

So, we’re all suffering and I wrote this post to see if this is common this year. Five bloody weeks I’ve felt like crap and the family also. I have never experienced something like this and I could get some sort of consolation if others were going through this and that it wasn’t down to my house being a bug infested mess.

So come on guys, try to make me feel better whilst I go and prepare another Beechams.

The Importance Of Close Friends

I don’t get to go out on the town with the lads these days as much as I should. Our collective bunch of guys have known each other for over fifteen years with a few of us going back twenty. Back in those halcyon days things were less complicated, no mortgages to worry about and no family to sap our very limited incomes. We had just about finished college and it was our mission to go out into the streets of Brighton and drink, dance and chat up the girls (with varying results). Partying most days of the week was not a problem back then and we always promised that we would stay in touch and keep up our social lives as much as we could.

But that was many moons ago and we have all grown up and had families, now we have responsibilities. Mortgages, council tax,  never-ending fuel price rises and exorbitant food costs now take up our hard earned cash leaving very little disposable income, and even if we could afford to hit the town every week I just don’t have the longevity or passion for such punishment. How many of us family men look forward to just chilling out at home at the weekend with a couple of tinnies and a good movie? When I hear my work colleagues planning their weekend, I just smile inwardly, reminisce for awhile and then look forward to settling in like an old boy complete with slippers. So when the opportunity comes around for a vintage boys night out with the old crew I always look forward to it, and that’s exactly what happened last night. For weeks I have been communicating to and fro with my buddies via Facebook and Email to get us all out together before Christmas and it was a pretty good turn out.

So we all meet up at our first port of call, no doubt noticing how we have all put on a couple of pounds (except the Ramdog), gained a few wrinkles (even the Ramdog) and lost a little more hair (no comment) except for me who went out with a freshly shaved Slaphead, and straight away we slipped back to our old comfortable ways as if we were a regular Friday night crew. But instead of chatting up the poor unsuspecting young ladies (that’s what I call them these days) our conversations were about our children, outgoings, the current economic crisis, and talking about the “good old days”.

Then at around 11pm, myself and my longest serving mate decided that we had had enough and, happily sozzled, we said our goodbyes (you know the routine, big bear hugs and lots of man love and promises of getting out more) and walked over Shoreham footbridge gassing on about how we’d had such a great time, we waited ten minutes for a Taxi in the freezing cold and I got home around midnight, just a little drunk and having a bloody good night out.

So I guess I’m writing this post to say how luck I am. I spent my formative years with this fantastic group of  friends and they are all so very dear to me, and even though we don’t see each other as often as we should, when we do its just like old times and I cherish every night out. So if any of these chaps ever read this post, I bloody love you all and thanks for a superb night out.

One phone call to Orange saved me £120 for the year.

We are all aware that we are in a difficult time financially and many of us need to cut costs in places if we can. Having recently watched “The Gadget Show” and their research on ISPs and who gave the best value for money, I decided to look into it for myself.

I have been with Orange broadband since it was Freeserve many years ago and have never had a problem with either connection speed or reliability so I didn’t think I was going to do much better now. My existing plan costs £20 per month for upto 8mb and a 40GB monthly allowance, now I know I’m not getting anywhere near the 8mb but I have no major worries and this connection speed allows me to do pretty much anything I want.

So I checked out Sky and 02 because apparently they had the best deals (according to The Gadget Show) and the deals were okay. Sky promised upto 16mb per sec (but not in my area) amd the price was pretty damn good actually,  but they wanted to charge a set up fee and I’d then have to go through the whole Mac no. thingy, and all the set up for a new router and they also really wanted me to leave BT and take their line. Now that I wasn’t sure about so I made my excuses and hung up.

I decided to give Orange themselves a call and I’m glad I did. I explained to the very helpful and knowledgable Dan, that I had seen better deals elsewhere and that being a “valued long term customer”, could he do anything to convince me to stay with Orange? Straight away he told me that If I stayed with them for another year, they would give me six months free broadband starting form today. And even better, If I rang them again in another year, they would do the same thing. Now this isn’t the first time Orange have done this for me, I had the same plan last year so I wonder just how exclusive these offers are.

But the main point of this post is.. If I hadn’t made that one call that only took five minutes (thats another bonus, I was through almost immediately) I have no doubt that they wouldn’t have called me. In these days of strife and minding our pennies, most of these companies want your business, and If you’ve been with them for a while, I reckon they’d bend over backwards to keep your custom. So go on, make that call. What have you got to lose. Good luck

Right then…. SKy TV next me thinks

Trekkies are damn fine people.

Despite feeling really crappy this morning, my spirits were lifted when not only did my lovely missus make me breakfast and a fine cup of tea, but also, while I was checking my Emails, my pukey little girl toddled up to me with a parcel in her hand.

I knew exactly what this was, this was a CD from my Geeky friend in Aberdeen in Washington, Rick Moyer. Now Rick is somewhat of a musical genius who surprises us every week on the Treks In Sci-Fi pod-cast with a song that he has specifically written for that particular show. Every week he comes up with the goods and Rico and all his listeners enjoy this section as much as the rest of the show. Indeed, Rico often states that the show wouldn’t be complete with a “Father and Son review” well I think the same can be said for Ricks little ditty’s.

Rick has compiles a CD of festive songs for the Christmas holidays. He has taken 14 classic Christmas songs and added his own lyrics centered around Star Trek. The result is a very enjoyable and amusing 40 minutes of joy. I was feeling horrible this morning but Rick has cheered me up somewhat and I’m currently going through the list of tunes, and with titles like “Jean-Luc The bald head Captain” and “I’ll be home on Voyager”, I know I’ll be smiling for the rest of the day.

Rick my Friend, thank you very much indeed. This was such a lovely thought and I know you must have had fun making it. Thank you for counting me as one of your Trek buddies from the forums and I really appreciate you sending it across the pond.

The CD was imported onto my itunes within 10 minutes of opening it and has been added to my Christmas playlist, I know it will raise a few eyebrows when my non-believing friends hear it, but even they won’t be able to deny the talent that is Rick Moyer. Thanks again my friend. Peace and long life.

All ye stay away from this house

Last night was a really bad night for me. I had trouble falling asleep and then awoke at about 3am with my face in horrible pain. It seemed my sinuses were completly blocked and I couldn’t breath through my nose and breathing through my mouth was just drying up my throat compounding my already persistent cough.

After an hour of tossing and turning and generally feeling sorry for myself, I had to come downstairs, take a couple of pills and then fill ahot water bottle. The only way to feel any comfort was to rest the bottle on my face and then finally drift off into fitful sleep.

I was then woken by the kids at around 6.30 who both decided to climb into our bed and then breath more germs onto me. A little later, I was woken to my little girl throwing up on the bed, no warning, just shot bolt upright and the contents of her stomach were next to me. I don’t do sick very well and I had to leave the bedroom while Sarah cleared up bless her.

So now my holiday is really turning into a bout of horribleness and It’s at times like these that i wish I hadn’t take a holiday because as Sarah said, my body probably realised I was going to relax and have a week off, let down its defences and then BANG it bloody well gets me. Oh well, as long as I don’t get the tummy bug, I’ll be okay.

A glorious week off work?

Today I started my first holiday in eighteen months (with the exception of Christmases and Easter), nothing planned just a week chilling out and doing nothing. However, at the same time as this is happening, my kids have decided to turn my house into a sick house. My little lad is currently a snot machine with a nasty chesty cough as is my little girl. She has also vomited this afternoon and wants nothing more than to stay snuggled up to me and drink warm tea. I myself have a nasty cough and frequent bouts of sneezing and I’m sure that staying in close proximity of these sick children will soon have me with my head down the toilet bowl and shivering with hot and cold sweats.

So, the first week off in over a year and a half, and it looks like it’s going to be spent indoors watchin crap TV or web surfing too much. Also, I haven’t had a day off work with illness in over three years, and when it does come, I’m already off work. That’ll be the law of sod then.