It’s the 20th Anniversary of!

Good grief, has it really been twenty years?

Back in 1996 I left UEA in Norwich early to pursue a career and ended up working for a company in Aylsham Road that specialised in building, selling, and repairing PCs. They took me on because I had experience with Linux as they wanted to set-up an ISP.  So I was charged with setting up the servers and infrastructure which would provide dial-up access to 400 customers and web hosting to a variety of local businesses and personal users.

On this day in 1997 I asked my boss if I could register my own domain for the purposes of testing stuff.  As we were members of Nominet, I used the automaton to generate the request and send it off as a PGP signed email. There were no fancy point and click web interfaces in those days!

In the twenty years since’s registration, I’ve changed jobs many times.  Moved home multiples times.  Got married.  Got divorced.  And I’ve been travelling a lot too.  A quarter of my adult lifetime.  And my domain has been with me in one form or another during all that time.  I’ve ran multiple email services (settling on G Suite – but known as Google Apps for Your Domain back in 2006), multiple web servers (Zeus, Apache, IIS, and nginx to name a few), different web hosting providers.  But I’ve always been a blogger.

I’ve used the WayBack machine to go back through some of my old web pages/blog posts.  Some of it WTF, some of it has me raging about this or that, and some of it deeply sad (when it came to IVF treatment).

Click on the images to enlarge.

I have had a love/hate (mainly hate) relationship with Windows Server ever since..
Here I was tinkering with FreeBSD and Linux. At the time I was running the Anglian Linux user Group web site/mailing lists too.
Moving houses .. and dedicated servers?
Unemployed just before getting married was awful – but thankfully it all turned out in the end. And this was the beginning of my journey into VFX..
I was still unemployed at the time, but I would find work (albeit I was taken advantage of) within a few weeks. Thankfully that job only lasted 5-6 weeks before I joined MPC.
Even when I was working in the VFX industry, I was thinking about web hosting..
Dealing with spammers was a bane both personally and professionally, and one of the reasons I switched to G Suite in 2006 rather than my own email services.

Sometime after that there are a number of posts about the ectopic pregnancy.  It was perhaps one of the most awful times in our lives and I’d really rather not post them here (although you can still read them on the WayBack machine).

It lead to a great deal of depression which I still struggle with today (though I don’t take medicine for it – I felt at the time that I don’t think the drugs that I was given did much anyway).  These days I deal with depression in a variety of ways – this blog (having an outlet to rant is great, though there are times I know I go overboard and have to tone things down a bit – thankfully my Dad reads everything and provides me feedback if I do!), the other is travelling – something I’m looking to do more of.  A bit difficult when one is single, but there are plenty of things I can still do.

It’s an ongoing struggle, but I seem to be winning for the most part.

Anyway, back to happier things.

When I went to the world premiere of Peter Jackson’s King Kong in New York. The ironic thing was that the associate producer of the film (who was there) came to work at MPC and it was only because I was wearing a souvenir t-shirt that I found this out.


When I went to Neil Gaiman’s private screening of a nearly compete version of Stardust. Not sure why I was having a rant at MPC, but it’d be a few months before I had quit and started working for Imagineer Systems.


That time when I went flying around filming interviews for a video for Imagineer Systems (and getting a valuable lesson on how to setting automatic gain control for microphones).


More filming for Imagineer. This time in New York.

So happy 20th birthday,  Here’s to the next 20 years (good grief, I’ll be 60 by that time!).

Vitality Insurance’s Apple Watch Offer fails to reliably read Apple Health data

Update: Having submitted Apple Health data from the past few months (via a series of screenshots) direct to Vitality by email, they added it to my account and the system now appears to be working by itself. However, it’s too little/too late because I’m going to pay the balance off manually and move over to Samsung Gear S3 + the Galaxy S8+.

Technology.  It can be such a pain in the gluteus maximus at times. And no more so when as an insurance company, you’re trying to innovate within the health insurance market by offering customers a heavily discounted Apple Watch in exchange for the user getting fitter (which means they’re less liable to make a claim).

For that very reason I sold my old Apple Watch and traded it in for the Vitality Apple Watch – a 42mm series 2 Nike model for £99.  I figured that an incentive like this would help me walk (including fast walking) more if I didn’t have to pay any more than I already had.

In terms of the watches, there is very little difference between the regular Apple Watch and the Nike branded model other than the straps and watch face, which I love.

Along with the Withings smart scales, I’ve been recording my steps within Apple Health and it’s been working just fine.  But I’ll be darned if I can get the Vitality app on my iPhone 7 Plus to read data from Apple Health so that they can track my progress and decide – if at all – I need to pay any further for the watch.

Things have got to the point where BBC News has picked up on the problem. The app tells me that it’s connected with Apple Health, but no data is ever exchanged between both apps.   You’re supposed to collect 10 points for connecting Apple Heath and the Vitality app, but nope.  Absolutely nothing.  Nada.  Kaput.

Vitality released an app update yesterday, but that did nothing.  So we may be in for a long wait before things start working properly.  I’ve already been in touch with Vitality about this, so they are aware that I’m having problems – as to what they’ll do with the payments remains to be seen.

As a side note, why is the Vitality main web site hosted in South Africa?  Member details appear to be stored within a datacentre based in Slough, however.  Very odd.  But at least my health data remains in the UK.  Hopefully.  I doubt my health data on the Watch or iPhone is shared with Apple in the US.  

The scales of justice!

I’m loving my new Withings wireless scales.  At £52 (bought in the sale – they’re now £89), they’re pretty pricey, but they get the job jobbed.

Over the past six days, I appear to be losing weight (2lbs!) despite trying eating different things to see how much they add or remove to the total each day. After an initial weigh-in last Saturday morning, the biggest gain was a Carluccio’s breakfast (magnifica) shortly afterwards (the biggest rise as seen below in the chart – but I was also wearing clothes at the time – each weigh-in occurs first thing in the morning after using the toilet and while I’m not wearing very much clothing).

After that, I started eating sensibly, or at least reasonably sensibly based around the Weight Watchers point scheme.  I’m still hacked off that there are no meetings near me that offer a time that’s suitable for somebody working a 37 hour week.   But hey-ho.

The slightly raised peaks are Domino’s pizza and a Chinese respectively.  Providing I stick to a sensible diet (I don’t have to cut out my morning coffees – now only taking the smallest size – and a daily chocolate bar at work is okay), things should progress nicely.  I’ve also cut out artificial sweetener.  I should reach my ideal weight by February 2018 according to the Withings app.

As for Apple Watch/Apple Health – I’m currently smashing my target roles and are raised the moving goal considerably, and will continue to do so as things progress with the weight loss.

Note: I have not assumed my identity as The Snail yet – too bloomin’ cold.

Happy New Year!

Hope everybody had a good holiday – it was mainly a very peaceful time, punctuated by three days of work which was much busier than I had anticipated (which convinced me that next year I won’t allow the rest of my team to all take their holidays at the same time).

Now we’re in 2017, I’ve resolved to lose the weight.  2016 was a year full of inactivity and stress.  So despite all the horrors of a new US president and all the other bad things happening in the world, I’m determined to remain positive and get a bit more trim.  So the lycra’s coming out, the trainers are being used as trainers, the fluorescent backpack bought, Weight Watchers subscription purchased, and Wi-Fi/Bluetooth connected scales are waiting to be used.

One thing that’s helping me along is that my work has switched health insurance to Vitality.  You’ve probably seen the TV adverts.  What’s different about this company is that they reward you for being active.  So much so I’m selling my own Apple Watch and taking out a new one, a Nike+ Apple Watch.  For £99, I get the watch and providing I remain active for the next two years, I pay nothing more.  Less activity means that I pay between £5 and £12.50 a month.  If that’s not an incentive, I don’t know what is.

And Vitality has provided a subscription to Weight Watchers for £30 for six months.  The only downside is that there are no meetings near me that I can make because they’re all held during the day.  Which is absolutely no darn good when you’re working.  Apparently, Weight Watchers offers an online meeting, but I can’t see how to do that, or whether it’s included in the subscription or not. That said, I’m already using their points system to stick within a daily limit.  I don’t think it’s going to be difficult.  I made various changes to my diet before Christmas, so a few more won’t hurt.  The key thing now is exercise.

In the long run (or in my case, speed walk – for a bulky bloke, I’m pretty fast), it’ll all be worth it.  I need to buy a tuxedo for my upcoming cruise, and I have half a year to lose the flab before splashing the cash.

So I will assume my secret identity as The Snail (which is what my ex-wife once told me I look like with the backpack and the leggings and everything) in the coming weeks to get fit.  I won’t be fighting crime, but I’ll sure as heck be fitter and better for it.

Now’s THAT’s magic!

As an early (yet late) birthday (the event is in June, birthday is in May) treat for next year, I’ve just bought a ticket for Penn & Teller’s 2017 UK tour – specifically at the Hammersmith Apollo.  I’ve been a big fan of magic, and of P&T’s for donkey years, but have never seen them live (and this is from somebody who has been to Las Vegas 3 times and never been any of the shows there).