Category: Everything Else

Things I learned from a week playing MP3s on my phone

The default music app is crap. AIMP is unusable. Poweramp is better. Playerpro tbc.

Dynamic ‘Now playing’ list is not a standard feature.

Picking two albums and shuffling them together is apparently not a common use case.

Leaving the volume switch unlocked is genius and whoever thought of it should be given a medal from the stuff in my bag that keeps pressing it.

Shuffle doesn’t work in a standard way across players. Some playlists change to show the shuffled order. When set to loop, don’t expect the order to be re-shuffled when it gets to the end.

There are people out there who want to play everything in their music collection from start to finish (seriously, who are these weirdos?)

Album art is nice and utterly useless at the same time.

Displaying compilation albums in media libraries is still not a solved problem in 2016.

5 inch screens are far, far too big to use while walking without risking dropping them (* learnt in theory, not practice).

Proprietary playlist formats can do one.

I need to fix my Zen :(

Zen Micro with Harddisk Problem

Things I learnt by taking Facebook off my phone

70% of my news feed comes from people I met in the pub once or twice

Birthday Calendars are a thing

40 mins on a train is a sizable block of usable time when not staring at a constantly dropping Wifi signal.

Google app data sync

It really surprises me that in 2015 we still don’t have a decent backup/restore ability in stock Android. Google accounts now contain the option to sync “App data”, but there’s no clarity to the user for what exactly gets backed up. Whatever is included appears to be set on a developer-by-developer basis.

Having just factory-reset my Nexus after finally getting fed up with the awful performance on Lollipop (protip: updates aren’t always a good thing, and little support from the manufacturer would’ve been nice) I figured I’d take a look and see what made it across the re-sync.

Firstly, I had a lot of apps installed; 70-ish according to the dialog. Android gives you the option to pick and choose which ones you want to reinstall which is nice, but there’s still no indication of what’s going to come back with them.

I also kept everything on the SD card but only found data for 2 apps on there.

Data Kept:
Aldiko (even remembers where I was in the books)

Performance issues:
Kindle (this app hung on startup and was realllly slow. Restores from its own cloud storage)

No data kept:
Two Dots (losing a level 400 savefile was probably a good thing, time to call it a day on this one. The developer does mention saves can backup via Facebook but for privacy reasons I see no reason to let this app anywhere near it.)
Blendoku (has own backup mechanisim with save code)
Cat Goes Fishing
ComicRack (lost read/unread history)
Hashnote (opened with sync disabled, haven’t been able to convince it to pull down old data since. Also has manual backup options)
Mapfactor Navigator (there was a large folder on the SD card but nothing’s been picked up)

Fixing a Christmas Tree

There are many problems in this world that Google can solve. This, apparently, is not one of them.

While taking down my Christmas tree last year I was most dismayed when a whole layer of branches snapped off in my hand. Being 1am on twelth night at the time, I decided to pop it in the box and deal with it next year. Next year is… well, today.

Oh Noes Tree

I rather like trees. They’re like the little friend who pops over every year and stays in your living room. If it had a face, it would be full of smilies. It seems a shame to throw away a perfectly good decoration due to some shoddy plastic work.

So here I am, attempting to fix a Christmas tree. The individual branches are still intact, I just need some way to attach them to the central trunk. I have some 5mm aluminium wire left over from another project that I think will do the job. It’s bright pink. I need to get some duct tape though. Or green electrical tape.

Perhaps I am a little bit insane. I did consider this while sitting knee deep in dismantled branches.

I also need to figure out how to get a set of pink fairy lights on a curtain rail while still being able to actually use the curtains. For now, this remains a mystery.

Last Minute Day Out in London

Got up bright and not-so-early to go to London for a day of exploration and general getting-out-of-the-houseyness. You could say 9am isn’t that early but when you were up till 4am planning your trip at the last minute then yeah, 4 hours sleep does make 9am look a little bit bleurgh. Id’ve travelled earlier if the railcard’d let me; somewhat suprised that they’re not vaild until 10am on weekdays, kind of a pain when you’re travelling far but come to think of it I should’ve remembered from last time I travelled on a Friday.

So yes, first up was the Science Museum. I’ve been there before a few years back, but I only got there 1 hour before the doors closed so I decided to go back and finish it. Turns out, that might’ve been the interesting half and it was a little bit dull until I hit the section about the human brain and identity, that part was kinda cool.

It was another fantastically sunny day so I headed up to Hyde Park for lunch. Okay I never would’ve thought it would be hard to find a sandwich shop near a major tourist attraction but it took 15 minutes and 3 maps to land me at a tiny kiosk that did the job. It was an awesome day for it though, I sat on the grass by the river watching the swans, ducks and boats go by. In my quest for somewhere to sit I walked past the Diana Memorial Fountain, but time was pressing on so I didn’t go back for a proper look.

Getting totally lost in Covent Garden I ended up running facefirst into a Kidrobot store. I haven’t done the last vinyl yet but picked up a cute little cube dude in a teacup and another custom DIY job, this time a tiny zipper pull. Blindboxed, so you get either one of a multitude of cute little animals, a random lighting bolt, shuriken, or… well… a bright green poo.

Munny Zipper Pull - Green Poo

What the heck am I supposed to do with this?! (and why is it green?)
Oh I know, maybe I could polymer-clay its ass and turn it into an iced gem. Or a snail. Though it might be poor taste to make an iced gem out of poo. Note to self: don’t buy blindboxed assorted figures. Unless the assortment is just a colour change, that’s okay.

Also in Covent Garden I found a quirky little store selling all sorts of notebooks, erasers, cute things and the tiniest lego sets known to man.

Nanoblock Tiny Lego Set

I had to have one :) Those blocks are about the size of my thumbnail. The other sets had more pieces, but I liked this one because it’s blue.

I stopped by Forbidden Planet but I was all silly-thinged out by that point so I didn’t buy anything and headed on to the British Museum, slightly later than planned. Covent Garden seems like a great place to meander randomnly around, but any attempt at navigation is foiled by long, long roads that run in both directions from a single point. I swear I went down this one road 3 times until I finally got my bearings.

So the British Museum. I’ve never been to this one before, and it was *amazing*! So many things crammed in there from all over the world, most of them pretty damn huge. I spent ages wandering around the Assyrian section, walls lined top to bottom with engraved reliefs of all sorts of things.

Assyrian Relief

Nereid Monument

(I gotta say, HTC’s cameras could use some work. I took some more pictures but they didn’t come out much better. Second note to self: next time, take actual camera. :S)

I got there at 4pm worried that I’d not left enough time (or got this trip backwards), but lucky for me the place is open late on Fridays. If I’d realised there were free tours in the evening I would’ve joined one, but I missed that memo and wandered around the Greek, Egyptian and Enlightenment sections until 7pm, by which time I was getting a bit tired and decided to head back in search of dinner and a nice warm cup of tea.

The person next to me on the train home was knitting. I never did figure out what she was making.

Things and Things and More Things

Lets get this in order.

Two chapters and 4 exercises left in the Java textbook, kinda happy to get to nearly get to the end of it. Though it is all Swing GUI stuff and I always find that kinda tricky. Sooo many objects, so many lines, so many odd little settings and things to remember.

I made a wallet. It has constellations on.
Constellation ZIppy Wallet
Modified the Riko doll. I’m still not happy with it. It’s missing something but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

Diddy Riko Revisited

I’ve been watching too much anime. Then again, there’s nothing on so maybe that’s okay. With Game of Thrones coming back and some random thing on Channel 5 about fairytales, maybe that’ll change. I still need to finish Battlestar.

A wandering Timcanpy appeared. It was cute.

Timcanpy Plush

An amigurumi dragon stopped by to say hello too. He was resized, but he didn’t seem to mind. He now lves on my desk, amongst other things.

Cute Little Amigurumi Dragon

I got one of these, I thought they were cool:

Baby Angel Cat Qee - Blank

I need to design it. You can paint them with acrylics but seeing as I suck at painting I think paint marker-pens are the way to go.

A friend sent me one of these. It was also cool:

Tea Mug

The fish got new plants. The just-a-bundle-of-leaves fern was a little disappointing, but there’s some baby ones growing off it so maybe those will survive.

New Plants in Fishtank

Yeah… this is totally the wrong kind of camera for this.

I had a go with my new Studio pencils. Can’t say I’m used to them yet as the drawing I’m trying them out on is allllll black so half of the pencils are from a different range, but it’s nice to have so many shades of grey to work with.

Pencil Test - Allen Walker WIP

The polychromos are nice, they cover big areas well and the colours come out darker than the harder Derwents. But then, that’s not what I brought the Derwents for.

I’m on holiday at the moment. It’s nice to have time off work, finding places to go is somewhat difficult. I have plenty of things to do here but it kind of feels like killing time, and that’s no way to spend a holiday. I won’t sit indoors the whole time.

I need a new bag. I can’t find one I like. I considered making one, though I’m not sure where you get the thick kind of fabric that makes messenger bags work from. All I’ve found so far is cotton, and that stuff isn’t much good when it comes to handling book-weight.

Calendar Project: Complete

Squee I did it I did it I did it!

Calendar Project 2011 Art Summary Meme

I’ve come with all kinds of colourful New Year’s Resolutions to try and get me drawing again. Over on DeviantART this meme goes around every year where you fill in each box with the best drawing you did that month, and I found it pretty depressing looking at it for the past few years with lots of blank spaces I couldn’t fill. So I made a resolution that this year, I’d have a drawing for every month. I called it Calendar Project; unimaginative I know, but naming a drawing for each month made me keep track of which ones I’d done and which ones I hadn’t, and it worked brilliantly.

New Year’s resolutions usually only last until about March, so getting to the end of the year and actually finishing one is pretty cool. Sure there were a few moments when things didn’t go smoothly; August was a train wreck, October and November were never finished, June was late but hey, never mind. The point of the exercise was to get me drawing again and I think it’s done the job :)

Sunny Days and Sunshiney Rays

Oh dear.

It probably hasn’t escaped your attention that it’s been a bit quiet in here recently. I’ve spent the past 4 months working on large ongoing things… I suppose you could call them projects but they’re not really, not in the usual sense I’d use the word. Between all the reading and the studying there hasn’t been enough time for much else, which includes the kind of craft/ art related projects which usually end up on these pages. And thus, there have been no updates to this site either.

This bothers me. I built this site with the intention of displaying work in progress and all the things creative I’ve been up to. But after sinking 4 months into other things I’ve realised there’s far more to my life than pretty little trinkets. While they are all cutesy and fun I think it’s time I increased the scope of this blog to cover more than just things I’ve made or details of all the little things I did to get there. I feel there’s something missing, something human that doesn’t quite come across when you spend all your time just talking about beads and wire.

Time… it’s a funny thing. I’m writing form the far side of 2 long 4-day weekends, the kind where most people would plan days out, go away or spend time out in the sunshine with friends and family. But not me. Instead I’ve had 2 of the most productive weekends I’ve had all year. From the second came the new site layout you see before you now. Considering I’ve been putting it off since December, getting the whole thing illustrated and implemented in 2 days was a bit of a surprise. There’s still a lot of other structural changes to do, the gallery script needs a complete overhaul among other little tweaks but I think it’s best to spread those out into an ongoing thing rather than dedicating solid weeks to it. I’m glad I finally got it started.

For the next week I’ll be updating with a few large catchup posts of all the things I’ve been working on that didn’t quite make it on here at the time. Despite being busy I still have a few odd crafty bits and pieces I’ve made in between working on big important things, which will also get a post of their own. Because that’s just how I roll now.

New Toy!

Impulse buys aren’t usually my thing, I’m one of those people who’ll google something to death before picking out exactly which model I want, then turn the world upside-down comparing prices. They don’t normally have fun crafty things at work, but when an invoice landed on my desk with the following item on it I just had to wander down to the stockroom to take a look and I came back with one of these:

It's a Mini Sewing Machine

It’s… a tiny-ass sewing machine! I’d looked into these a couple of months back and met very mixed reviews. My Mum has a fantastic full size machine that I can use for larger projects, but anything small, silly or where I need to make it up as I go along I tend to do at home instead, by hand, and it takes days. This is where dinkymachine comes in; it’s not going to go to the moon and back, but it’s ideal for speeding up the lighter work where it isn’t worth commandeering a relatives kitchen table for an afternoon. With the added incentive of a staff discount I decided to give it a go.

You only realise how many fancy features a proper machine has when you try to use a simpler one that doesn’t have them. Simple things like how varying the pressure on the pedal doesn’t change the speed anymore. I thought it did a zigzag stitch too which it doesn’t; not sure where I got that idea from but never mind, it would’ve been a nice added bonus but it’s a stitch I’ve never been able to use anyway so I won’t miss it much.

I let it loose on the Leftover Companion Cube, a project I started months ago to use up some leftover fabric but never finished. Assembling the side panels by hand took one hour each, this thing did the job in 20 mins. I’ve hit a part that has 4 layers of felt now, and after 2 very tangly knots I’ve concluded that 4 layers of felt is a tad too thick for this machine to cope with, so I’ll have to handsew the next part and return to the machine when it’s done. But for the parts that weren’t ridiculously thick it did the job well enough :)

The one thing that really irked me about the machine is the top thread; the top bobbin is fixed to the machine, so you can’t take it off and swap it for a different colour thread (unlike the bottom one). Cue the somewhat bizarre tower of CD spindles, where the plastic lip on the top sticks up it stops the cotton reel falling off, and it works perfectly. Ta-da! Score one for geek-improvisation! (and -1 for odd manufacturing decisions).

It does the job I brought it for, but it won’t stop me taking suitable projects to the professional :)


So here we are. Welcome to my little corner of the Internet, a personal site playing host to a gallery of my various creative ventures and a blog of odd little bits and pieces I’m working on, be they creative, following instructions or just plain made up as I go along.

My intention is to use this blog as a log of work in progress shots and various bits and pieces to keep track of all the little things I spend my time making or doing. It may not make for a particularly interesting read, but… well we’ll see.

I’ll be kicking things off over the next few days with several things I’m currently halfway through, just to get things started. Some of them haven’t seen the light of day in quite some time but I feel some record of their existence would be nice.

So now that we’re live it’s time for you lot to tell me what I’ve broken. Go nuts :)