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Sunday, 30 August 2015

Uptown fucked

Manga shop hiding in plain sight
We decided to do something crazy and get a cheap wireless router, and look around uptown while I'm at it.  Duly done its decided to knacker my entire network so that only my phones work now.  It's stuck on not recognising anything so this seems to be me fucked.  On the other hand I seem to be getting the hang of the maze we call Soho, with me finally getting my bearings and finding not just the new arcade but the manga shop as well.  There were a few other things that caught my eye too.

They had a hairdressers in Lexington Street that had a working SNES in the window (running Mario Kart) and some dummy heads made up to look like Princess Peach, Toad and Mario.
Fucking hell its expensive too.

Finally grabbed the new Aphex Twin Ep, Midi Pipe etc etc is probably the best track there with Oberheim Blacet a close second.

Edit. I've done a system restore and fixed some links now everything is working

Sunday, 23 August 2015


This is a bit of a post script to the Agave reports I did earlier.  This is currently putting up a flower spike in Kew's Princess of Wales glasshouse so much so that they had to remove the roof panel to let it out.  It first came to my attention on Kew's own webpage, along with bits and pieces via Facebook as well that their Titan Arum was in bud as well.  Decided on a field trip down there, armed with the big phone to see if I could spot them and of course grab photos.  One out of two wasn't bad, didn't see the Titan Arum but the Dasylirion was a great spot. Also saw a few other things in flower such as a Dyckia and a Grey Squirrel that got trapped in a bin which was great fun.

Dasylirion Flower Spike
Dasylirion  Main Body
Top of the flower spike
   Its a native of the Southern U.S and Mexico where it seems to have a long tradition of being used for making alcoholic drinks and as a fire making instrument (indeed I first saw this through a Ray Mears trek in the Sonora, on TV).  It doesn't really flower in the UK as its not really grown much (probably being due to it not being cold hardy and also massive size) and its rare to see it bloom, I'll try and add links when its fully in bloom and I remember.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Stuff missing from Android.

Or stuff that they should bundle in with Android but don't.  If you are lucky enough to have an Android phone / tablet that isn't overburdened with bloatware you'll know how basic and spartan the actual Android experience is.  If you've ever used Chrome from Google then you'll probably have the same stuff, a few basic things like G Mail, Youtube, Translate, Google Drive and the much loathed and widely shunned Google plus. Add in a link to the Appstore, plus the usual camera, phone / text apps and whatever your manufacturer deems is essential but isn't, and that is it.

Of course its up to you to add more relevant stuff but coming from a blackbastard (berry honestly its that horrible) and iThing environment, its surprising how little there is on there.  So here is a few things they should bundle with the stock android experience in no particular order.

Total Commander.

Available for the PC as well, this is a file manager and so much more.  If you have files on an SD Card and want to transfer them over (such as APK. files) or wish to play music without bothering with Google music you can.  Of course it does much more than that but this is what I use it for. You can poke through your file system and manage files on your system, something sorely missing from the main android experience. So many uses and such fun to do.

Amazon Appstore.

My blackbastard never had access to this only blackbastard world, but if you ever had a Kindle later blackbastard phone or Fire phone / Stick this is what you use to buy and manage apps.  For some reason Google have banned it (i'm guessing competition) but its pretty easy to install and that.  You'll need an Amazon account to make use of this but its easy to make and they regularly have free app days so you can get a lot of free stuff you'd normally pay for.

Adblock Plus.

Ever tried to surf the web with a billion ads, they add nothing to the whole surfing experience and can be actively dangerous.  I've used an adblocker for ages back in dial up days when pages would load quicker with less stuff to render and later on to block ads from Youtube and the web.  I don't have this on my phone yet but there will come a time when I will add it such is its usefulness.  Said to block ads in games as well but don't know if it does.

An Antivirus Suite.

Something that isn't actually banned but with android malware and stuff being widespread I would consider this being something they should have added. I know its just like PC stuff where you get a hideous Norton or McAfee antivirus that is a cunt to uninstall, but android is so much more insecure than the other networks that I consider a good antivirus protection a right not an option.

I'll consider some stuff that should be on iPhone for a later blog entry (I'm running an iPhone 4 so these may have been fixed but I doubt it).

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Agave reporting and worse.

This was going to be a nice little post about some stuff iTunes does that Google Play doesn't as well as further differences, but then something came up to do that.  (short version you can download programs from the app store on PC and sync them to your phone, tab, ipod thus saving data).

It's a big cactus rant coming up so be warned.  There are two stories doing the rounds at the moment both have succumbed to ill informed journalism of the highest order.

The first is a few months old now but I bookmarked it because I knew I'd have a use for it.

Somerset Pensioner pricks hand on Pachypodium spines and suffers quite a bit of discomfort.

Actually quite a lot to be honest reading the article again and if you know your succulents, which this is, you'll know that its a Pachypodium Lamerei also known as a Madagascar Palm.  Its a member of the Apocynaceae rather than the Palmaceae, definitely not a cactus of any shape or form.  Oleander and Desert Rose are also part of that family which are also massively toxic too.  My only consolation to the old lady involved is that if she ever wants it repotted again, is to take a long strip of newspaper and wrap it round the plant as a collar, and grab both free ends, so you can manipulate it that way.

Predictably it didn't get reported anywhere quite as good as this in the national press.  The Daily Mail where I read this first, adds a couple of bizarre things about it being a dangerous alien species and linking it to the Giant Hogweed allergy outbreak which it is neither.  There is also a bit about giving it away which doesn't appear in the main story which is a shame as it has the most wonderful white flowers.

Pachypodium Lamerei Flower.

I wasn't quite expecting the next story, but its also fits in with the general non fact checking and sloppy reporting when it comes to succulents and such.

The main story concerns the flowering of an Agave Americana at the Italianate Greenhouse in Ramsgate, and really impressive it is too, with a good 2 meters or so poking out of the roof hatch. 

For some reason its been labelled as rare, which it isn't, there's millions of them dotted about the Mediterranean, and the Canary Islands and its often seen on clifftops and at the side of the various Autopistas going to the resorts.  Put it this way I always seem to get a picture of them either in flower or showing some imposing leaves in every holiday I've been on.   Its uncommon  to see them flower here but isn't unheard of and apart from the Edinburgh Botanic gardens, there are many documented cases of them flowering here in the UK.   

Looking through back issues of the Cactusworld journal I've come across several news articles about people flowering their Agaves, including a Victoria Reginae up in Grimsby and an Agave Salmiana flowering for the third time down in Devon (of course from different offsets). Its uncommon but not unheard of and in both cases the plants where around the 45 to 50 year old mark, nowhere near a century, which is about the age of the plant in Ramsgate.  

 The main press have reported this variously there is a quite frankly, marvelous piece in the Daily Telegraph which gives you some facts about the park and Agaves as well.  The Mail expands on this but makes a few errors about it being rare and cold vulnerable, (its not just doesn't like the wet like all succulents) apart from that its redeemed by the comments which are genuinely interesting for once.  

I'll add a few things which was cool that may happen to their specimen that I've seen in the wild.  It may attract ants, as Agave Nectar is used as a poncey sugar substitute, I saw this in Menorca, with quite a column going up and down the main flower spike.  It may offset from the flowers itself, I managed to bring home an offset that I knocked off myself from one such holiday, and finally it maybe used as a mooring stake for a small boat, which is what I saw in Corfu. 

Sunday, 2 August 2015

More on Phones.

For some reason I've managed to go from having a phone that wasn't my own to owning two phones in the space of a week.  I found lying around on the grass, an iphone 4 and while its hardly cutting edge, talking it over with the guys at work (who showed us how to do stuff) it seems that its still pretty good and also gives me a crucial snapshot into the Apple way of doing things.

Stuff I like so far is that whoever owned it before had the decency to get it unlocked to any network and this is how it should be for all phones, not dependent on one carrier.  Also its pretty intuitive on how to do stuff, with a big physical button to go exit programs and that, and after a bit of a struggle got myself an "app store"  login.  Finally the little tray that your sim card sits in and is accessible with a pin, is part of the overall good design work Apple stuff generally has.

Then the downsides kick in, you have to partner up a credit / debit card if you want to download anything.  I haven't found a way for it just to accept iTunes vouchers only and decline the rest or just install whatever the apple equivalent of APKs are, at least Google let you install stuff from other sources which is pretty cool.  If they let you divest all payment to iTunes cards only it would to be honest, cut out some of the horror stories of paying thousands for items in F2P bollocks like Candy Crush.

Even worse, some stuff are of course verboten on Apples draconian walled garden.  Doing a search for emulation stuff brought up a few links to a few other app stores like Cydia and another one which seems to be just for Emulation stuff.  Largely its those dodgy Movie HD type streaming stuff, anything torrent related and emulation, especially if it allows you to supply your own roms.

Finally you don't get any SD card support so you can't expand storage from what your phone has.  There are ways around this of course such as using Dropbox or any other online file locker to keep hold of content.  Plus as its synced to your PC, it cuts out Apple's horrific iTunes software (less so on mac).  Also battery life is of course appalling with it literally ticking down every minute you're on line so certain games that rely on a server connection are pretty much out.