Snowmageddon: Beast from the East

So, we had a tiny bit of snow this week. 

For the most part, it wasn’t all bad, though I did have to work from home for two days because buses went missing in Woking (well, rather they broke down) and trains weren’t directly stopping at Wimbledon and were also highly delayed.

Woking High Street, Thursday 1st March. Waiting for the bus to take me back home because none of the regular trains was running, and stopping services were highly delayed.
The naughty chair.

The worst day, however, was Friday.  I had to go in because company Windows laptops do not configure themselves.  I’d like to take this opportunity to say to Microsoft that their feature update system is just terrible.  When I got the brand new laptop on Tuesday, the first thing it did was offer the feature update.  2 hours into updating, it got stuck at 89%.  I couldn’t leave the laptop running overnight, so I had to stick it in sleep mode.

Microsoft’s Windows 10 feature update is just terrible.

I managed to get into the office on Friday – in fact, getting in was just brilliant because the schools in the area had closed and the bus and train I usually take arrived dead on time.

So I opened the laptop’s lid and after an hour, it got to 94% and that’s when I decided enough was enough and rebooted.  Then Windows Update completed failed.  Having sorted that out (which is a substantial pain in the arse), I tried again – only to encounter this:

Ruddy Windows feature update!

However, in the background, the system was preparing the 1709 feature update.   But four hours later, having got to 94% and staying there, and with South Western Railway announcing that they were shutting services early, I cancelled the whole lot.  I upgraded Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Pro, installed all the software needed and got it to join the company domain.  That’s another thing that annoys the living heck out of me – you have to pay Microsoft at least £100 for the privilege of connecting a Windows client to a domain now.

Having set-up the laptop and got it all ready to go on the desk that it’ll be used, I left work early to try and catch a train home.  Severe delays galore.  I looked at the possibility of Ubering or Getting (Gett, an app for black taxis) home – but at around £100 – no thanks.  Eventually, a train heading to Guildford came along, so I got on that and changed at Surbiton where – luckily – a train to Alton was waiting – so I jumped on that (and got a seat!) and got back to Woking.

As I didn’t have much to eat at home, I contemplated just buying enough stuff at Marks & Spencers Food at the train station, but there just wasn’t enough there to keep things going, so I took a taxi (since my bus app that tracks the progress of buses wasn’t showing the number I regular take) all the way to the local Sainsbury’s (which I would have ordered a delivery from, except their website had nothing available until Monday due to bad weather).  I was lucky to get a taxi since many drivers weren’t available as they were staying at home due to the bad weather.

Despite the weather and reports of “panic buying”, the local Sainsburys was remarkably quiet and had plenty of food.

I managed to do my shopping and waiting for the local bus which, it turns out, was running.  Except after waiting 30 minutes, I discovered on the bus company’s website that it wasn’t able to get down the road I needed to get off.  So I Ubered a taxi (£5) which came and got me after a 15-minute wait.  While we were leaving Sainsbury’s, a car had broken down just by the roundabout and had to be pushed to one side.

Meanwhile, during the day, my former colleagues at Memset were coping pretty well with the weather:

 

Top Gear, here I come..

(Top image: rehearsal for a stunt sequence from Kingsman: The Secret Service at Dunsfold Park – the sequel’s stunts were shot at Longcross instead!)

After an initial false start in getting tickets to Top Gear many, many months ago when the revamped series first started airing, I’ve finally secured a ticket to be in the audience for a studio recording of the current series later next month.  Who will the celebrity guest be?  Will the Stig spontaneously combust?  Who knows!?!

Time off work has been arranged.  I just need to get up to Dunsfold Park.  The irony of all this is that one ideally needs a car, and I don’t drive, thus I’ll be getting there and back in a taxi.

It’d be nice if they’d let me check in by the studio as I could say a quick hello to the neighbours, my former employers Memset Ltd.  But apparently I have to go across the other side of the estate to check in, then get a bus with fellow audience members to the studio, and vice versa when the filming stops.

An anthology book for the modern age: Martyn’s Tales of the Bloody Stupid

I’m kicking around the idea of writing a series of short stories, all of them rather silly, but all fantastical in scope.  Think of it as a sillier, stupider version of Black Mirror.  This is what I have so far.  Might need a proof reader if I take this further as, you’ll probably have guessed, I’m terrible at it.

Pandora’s Gogglebox

After the film and television industry destroys itself in the Hollywood Guild Wars of the 22nd century (in which the DGA, WGA, SGA and other acronyms ending in “GA” fought to a bloody death with the big film & TV studios which were all eventually owned by internet service providers and web hosting companies), a surviving computer technician working with advanced AI develops a simple black box (resplendent with a 200ft aerial) that connects to the cloud to generate any story the consumer wants to watch.  No actors, no directors, no writers – the whole thing is generated photo-realistically in the cloud and delivered to your black box (with it’s aerial which doubles up as a washing line).  No TV required (most electronic manufacturers – principally those that made TVs, radios and DVD/Blu-Ray players – were all blown up in the Hollywood Guild Wars) – you just touch the box and the images and sound are beamed into your brain!

Yet something sinister is happening behind the scenes back in Hollywood (version 3 – version 1 was Los Angeles, version 2 was Vancouver, Canada, and version 3 is now based in the remotest part of Siberia due to efficient tax breaks).

The Pied Pooper of Tower Hamlets

The year is 2045 and the human immune system is straining against new outbreaks of bugs and bacteria.  Antibiotics are now all but useless.  If you’re not wearing a mask when you’re out and about, and if you don’t wash your hands after going to the toilet, this is a federal crime.

An office worker at a company in Tower Hamlets that makes novelty toys for Christmas crackers accidentally forgets to wash his hands after using the toilet.  He’s immediately flagged up as a potential “chemical weapon” and has to go on the run away from the authorities.  The penalty for spreading germs – death!

Close Encounters of The Third Line Support

The latest and greatest operating system has just been released!  It’s got ALL the features that everybody wants and needs.  It puts Windows and MacOS to shame. And the best thing is, it’s free, and runs on ANYTHING.  But nobody knows anything about the company behind it all – the mysterious Fugnugget-Centauri Technologies, run by the enigmatic Mr.  Guff.

Archibald Codswallop, a student straight out of university, applies to work for Fugnugget-Centauri and lands a call centre job, only to discover that it’s going to be a very long commute to work each day – they’re based on a small planet in the Alpha Centauri star system.  When Archibald discovers the truth about Earth’s technology over the past 70 years or so, it will shock you.  SHOCK YOU!  *SHOCK*

The Faeries of the M4 Motorway Cafe

The Green Man walked this Earth long before us.  But he did so with his best buddy, Oberon, King of the Sidhe, who had just divorced his wife Titania and married his on-off girlfriend, Gaia.  The faerie kingdom wasn’t entirely happy with these events, being the stuck up so-and-sos that they are.  So a renegade group left the kingdom and set-up shop in the world of the humans.  What a shock it was! But over the centuries they slowly learned to live a human lifestyle – except as they were practically immortal with magical powers, they could pretty much do whatever they pleased.

But all this didn’t make Robin Goodfellow terribly happy.  The first couple of centuries were plenty fun, but as the ability to torment the humans came so easily to him, he grew bored.  So in the 1980s, he and his family decided to open a restaurant – in one of the service areas along the M4.  And all was good until one day, one of his fellow renegade fairies turned up with a very intriguing proposal – overthrow Oberon and the Faerie kingdom itself.

D’OHplication issues

Apologies for some duplication of posts in the RSS feeds of late – I’ve been moving this blog and a few other sites from Memset to Digital Ocean (nothing wrong with Memset by the way, I just prefer to be a bit more neutral going forwards – I may even change providers yet again in the future, but for now DO will do for me) and – rather embarrassingly – mucked up the WordPress database transfer.

So I’ve had to restore from a backup (see my rclone tutorial for a quick and easy way of backing up your sites – cPanel or otherwise – to remote cloud storage).