28/06/2011

Sick…

by Rob on

Well, the last weekend wasn’t that nice as the one before.

It all started somewhere around last Wednesday when I suddenly was confronted with a terrible pain in my right side. It turned out that I got a bruised rib and I am still wondering how I ever did get it. I couldn’t blame Marion, because she wasn’t around :).
I was told that it is not very hard to get a bruised rib. Sneezing, sitting or laying in a wrong position can be enough. Anyway, it is painful and it will take some time to heal.

But it seems that was not enough. I was also for some days suffering from a constipation, which is normally nothing serious and happens to a lot of people. But it should not last too long!
Thursday evening the area of stomach really started to hurt. My bowels felt if they were filled with stones. And along a rather high fever came along.

So basically I stayed from Thursday evening to Monday in bed. That meant I really felt bad, because normally I dislike to be so much in bed. But there also the reason why people haven’t seen me on Facebook, Skype, MSN, Twitter or whatever. My mind really wasn’t after spending time behind the computer.

By now the pains in stomach are mostly gone and everything down there starts to work more or less again (I will spare you the details). The fever is less, but it is still there. I had to promise Marion that I must be a complete day without any fever at all before going to work again. And to be honest, she has a point there. As said, the fever is not gone yet, but I am getting there.

Well, this weekend did not went the way Marion and I had planned. We had very nice ideas for this weekend because we hadn’t seen each other for 2 weeks. We had plans for a nice dinner out…. making a nice walk on the beach or in the dunes… and more of that kind of things. As told, things went a bit different.
But I was really glad Marion was here this weekend. I know how you fell when you are really sick and no one is around you. So I am really grateful for all the sweet care of Marion this weekend.

We will make up for everything during the next weekend… and after that: Scotland! I am really looking forward to that.


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So far a nice weekend

by Rob on

Even though Marion is not around this weekend (the poor girl has to work), it has been a rather nice weekend so far.

Last Friday it started after work with a company BBQ. This time no photo’s. In the morning half way to the train station to travel to my work, I discovered that I forgot my camera. Didn’t had time enough to go back home to pick it up.

Anyway, the BBQ was at the “Paviljoen Zeezicht” at the town of IJmuiden. Nicely at the beach, so the sea was in sight. Although I live now more then a year rather close to the sea, it is still something I love to see.
Sadly the weather was not very good. Lots of rain and cloudy, but I have to admit that I saw the sun once or twice… for a moment ;).
There was a nice group of people, but I realized that the company has grown a lot since I joined. Many new faces.

The food that was served was not bad, but a bit too salty in my opinion (it was more a buffer then a BBQ, but that was okay with me). They served some pretty nice beers though. I enjoyed myself throughout the evening with some nice glasses of “Leffe Blond”.
Some of us (me included) spend a part of the evening playing some card games. And why not? We were there to enjoy ourselves and we did.

At a certain time people started to leave (there was a bus going back to the company for those had their cars parked thee for instance). I belonged to group that was left over (what else is new :P). We sat outside a bit more a chatted and laughed some more.
Mic was kind enough to bring Tom and me back to Heemskerk (Tom and I were both by public transport). So I invited them to my home to have something to drink. Both like a good whisky a lot. So I was happy I could serve them a nice Bowmore (single malt, 12 years). I had another beer because I had a feeling it would not be wise to drink whisky after all the beers I had.

All with all, it was pretty late when I went to bed.

Saturday, Hans (also a colleague of mine) helped me to bring away some old junk. His car can pull a trailer. So I rented one and it was just one ride to bring it all away to the refuse dump. It was not really a lot, but it was occupying space that I could use otherwise very well.
In return I could help Hans with some computer problems he had. Being able to help each other out is a nice thing to do.

After Hans left I could do something I was planning already for a long time. Since I bought my new media centre, I was not able to use my Popcorn Hour not anymore, which means that I couldn’t stream media (movies, music, photographs) that is stored somewhere on my small network to media centre to watch/listen to it (not only my own local network as a matter of fact, but also from the Internet… which is just a network of networks :) ). This problem was caused by the fact that at location in my apartment where the media centre and TV stands I only have one network-connection. And the new BlueRay player uses now that network-connection to connect to the Internet.
Sure, solution is simple. Place a switch next to the Media Centre and you have more network-connections available. That is exactly what I did and now I have the 4 network-connection there. So I linked up my Popcorn Hour again and I can stream my favourite radio-stations from the Internet again (or play any other media from my network or the Internet).
I just realized that I may have to buy a new router as well. My current router has one WIFI connection and only Marion normally used that when she uses her laptop at my home. But my new iPhone uses that WIFI connection as well when I am home… Luckily those routers are not that expensive.

Just skip the technical part above if it doesn’t interest you. Just know that I am rather happy with the computer, audio and video stuff that I have currently :)

I changed something else in my house Saturday of which I think it is pretty cool. I installed a projection clock on top of the cabinets in the kitchen, so it projects the clock on the wall of the kitchen. I think it is pretty awesome.
It uses LED’s for the projection beam, so it is not using a lot of electricity. But still I will buy an time-clock so it switches automatically off during the nights and when I am to work. The clock itself runs on batteries and will not be effected by this.

This morning I will clean my house a bit, do some laundry and such. But for the most I will take it easy.

As said, a nice weekend so far….


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The Asian Link

by Rob on

Yesterday on Facebook I made a remark about the Asian_Link towards my friend Sue Matthews (from the US). Marion asked me later on what this Asian_Link was. I explained it to her, but thought that it would also be a nice subject for an article here on my weblog.

When we talk these days about electronic communication most likely the first thing we may think of is the Internet. The Internet has taken a very important place in the world of today. We communicate by sending mails to each other. We use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many other social networks. We buy and sell over the Internet. Many companies are active on and through the Internet. I think we can say that the Internet has become mighty important.

Before the Internet became so popular as it is today, there was another worldwide network called Fidonet.

Fidonet worked completely different as the Internet. It was based of a network of BBS’s (Bulletin Board System) all around the world maintained mostly by private individuals.
Such a BBS was a more or less advanced computer where you could dial into with your modem. Most BBS’s had a collection of files (tools, games, pictures, whatever) you could download to you local computer. There were BBS’s were could play games on.

All great and nice, but for many BBS’s there was more to it. They were part of Fidonet, which was an international network of electronic BBS’s which enabled the transfer of email and files.

For the more technical interested among us, there is very nice article about this on Wikepedia.

Because the mail and files were passed on from BBS to BBS and so, it all was less direct as the Internet was. It could take a day or two before your mail arrived on it’s destination, but still for its time it all was pretty cool.

All you needed to do was sign up with a local BBS and install some software. For instance Frontdoor exchange mail with a BBS. Fastecho to process the incoming and outgoing mail. GoldED as mail-editor. Just examples, because there was a lot of Fidonet software available.

Just as on the Internet you could send private messages to other users of Fidonet. This was called Netmail. If you had a very urgent private message, you could sent it directly to the BBS where the users for who the mail was meant. This was called Crashmail… but it meant that your modem would dial directly that BBS. If that BBS was in another country it would be an international phone call.

There were also public area where everyone could read and post. These area’s were called Echomail. Some of the Echomail were limited to a country other were international. The subjects these Echomail area’s were dedicated was almost limitless.

In the beginning when the Internet started to become popular the exchange of mail and files were done by protocols as FTP and UUCP, which was a lot cheaper as calling out with modem.

But with its advantages the Internet pushed Fidonet more and more aside. Fidonet is still out there, but it has lost its greatness. Many BBS were taken down. People moved to the Internet. Anyway it was great to have been part of it…

Yes, I was very active on Fidonet. Specially in one Echomail area called The Asian_Link. The goal of this are was gain a better understand for Asia. But this target was a bit lost and The Asian_Link had grown into a wonder area where people from all over the world exchanged mail with each other.
For some time I have been one of the European moderators of the Asian_Link (yes, such an area needed a bit of guidance). The Asian_Link was a pretty good experience. I learned a lot from other people of The Asian_Link. And it all gave me often something to laugh about.
Through the Asian_Link I got to know great people from all over the world. People like Sue Matthews, Klaus Nitsche, Marcia & Tania Charbert, Zak, Georg Kahpunkt, Matthias Diehl and many others.

It is good to have been part of it all….

(Credit picture: Fidonet)


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Well, today more then one subject in a single post. No need to make three separate postings :)

Yesterday someone claimed on MSN that I mostly likely during this weekend, while Marion is not here, I would live on fast food and microwave stuff. I missed this remark because I had an interesting conversation with someone else. But this person could not have been more wrong…

Yesterday I made a very nice lasagne for myself. As Marion doesn’t like lasagne too much, this was the opportunity to make it. It was a good lasagne with meatloaf (beef), Mushrooms, paprika, zucchini and brie.
Tonight I will make something simple. I will make sateh from tenderloin (“varkenshaas”), own made sateh sauce, yellow rice with garden peas and a fresh salad.
For tomorrow I have chicken fillet. You can do anything with those. But I think I will marinade them and bake them in the oven. Some baked potatoes and salad. Done.

Sure, no very fancy things. And I will not make a nice decorated dish, but eat it while watching tv. But it is far from fast food.

The other thing I wanted to tell about are glasses. People around me (home and work as example) must have noticed that I started to get some problems with reading small stuff. Specially when I am tired and with bad light conditions. Yes, I have reached the age that my eye (luckily) slowly start to function a little less. Normally watching is no problem. But reading books and watching computer monitors started to become harder, specially for longer times. So for a while I have been using these cheap “reading glasses”. They helped, but are no real solution because they are not really made for your eyes.
So some weeks ago I visited an optician. He checked my eyes and “computer/reading” glasses would be made for me. Now this optician has an offer that when you buy glasses, you can get a free set of glasses (of the same price). I did go for a set of sunglasses…. Well, here they are…

But to these glasses are the proof that women cost you money, even when it is not spend on them :). When I did visit the optician, Marion went along with me.
Even for the frame of the computer/reading glasses I had to try out hundreds of models before she was satisfied. But as a good boyfriend I did let this come over me as she will have to watch me with those glasses and I believe they were not very much of influence on the price.
But the sunglasses.. the nice thing is that the sunglasses have exactly the same properties as the set of computer/reading glasses and that makes them even more expensive. So for the frame there is less money available to stay within the range of the price of the other set of glasses. So I selected a simple frame for it. But with that Marion didn’t agree. She “decided” that I needed a good and fitting frame to it. And so I ended up with true Ray-Ban sunglasses… and those were just a little bit more expensive.

(For those who didn’t notice it… I am making fun here. If I really didn’t want that frame, I would have said no and Marion would have accepted that without any discussion. But it is so nice to play the underdog :P)

And well, as last addition to this posting…

This afternoon it was nice weather. So I took my bicycle and made a nice ride. On my way home I passed by castle Assumburg and read on a big billboard that since yesterday the gardens of the castle were open to visit. That was an opportunity I could not let pass by and it was well worth it. Here some of the pictures I made during my visit there…


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Duke Nukem

by Rob on

The first time I ever heard about Duke Nukem must have been around 1993 or something like that. It was when someone pointed out to me that I could download the gam from the Apogee BBS…

Duke Nukem is kinda like Rambo, but Duke Nukem has a way better sense of humour.

That first game of Duke Nukem was a so called “platform game”. Duke runs and jumps around all kind of platforms killing monsters and enemies. In the first games Duke Nukem has to stop Dr. Proton who wants to take over the world.
These games were already fun to play.

After some episodes as platform game, Duke Nukem 3D was launched.

First of all the biggest change was of course from a platform game to a 3D orientated game. Also the graphics were a lot better and where rather for that time.
In this game Duke really got is humour… and the ladies game around.

It was fun to play the game. I could always laugh about the macho behaviour of Duke.
And there was something complete something to the game… multiplay, which means that you could play with more persons together over a network of over the Internet. Many many hour I have done this…

They told all the time that they were working on a sequel on the Duke Nukem series. But time after time it was delayed and delayed again and many more times delayed…. until 14 years later, Duke Nukem Forever was delivered today to my house…

Over the years I have bought rather some computer-games, but I never before bought a collectors-edition. But because all the great and enjoyable hours in the past that I had with Duke Nukem I bought this time the collectors-edition: Duke Nukem Forever, Balls of Steel-edition.

Of course this collection-edition comes, apart of the game of course, with some nice goodies. And an unique numbered certificate…

The other items added to this collectors-edition are a statue of Duke, a book about the history, legacy & legend of Duke Nukem Forever (very nice!), a comic book, a sticker, a set to make a paper Duke, some greeting cards, a set of dices, a set of coins and a set of playing cards.

If I keep this set all together and in good condition it may be even worth something in a few years.

The game itself…

The graphics are maybe not of the latest techniques, but more then acceptable (here the reason why I prefer games on a PC with a good graphics cards, the graphics will be better then on a XBox or PS3… I know that not everyone will agree on this, but this is what I think and have experienced).
On the highest difficulty then game is challenging, on the lowest enjoyable. The normal monsters are easily to handle, the boss monsters can cause some problems (specially when you want to find out the special tricks to handle them).
The humour is still great. The macho remarks of Duke are hilarious. Maybe not always really women-friendly, but everyone understand that this is just all about fun.

There are some small puzzles throughout the game, but no real brain breakers.

I really like the multiplay option of Duke Nukem Forever. All well-known multi-players like Death Match, Team Match, Capture the Flag and King of The Hill are there. But all with a nice Duke-twist… Duke Match, Duke Team Match, Capture the Babe and Hail to the King.
Voice and such are all build in. When people host there own server lag can be a problem, but that is not something new as well.

What is very nice is it the “My Digs” part….

In “My Digs” you can walk through Duke’s Mansion. The higher your level gets in multi-player the more items will be unlocked in the mansion… Well, items? Items and babes with at times very naughty suggestions…

Yes, I like Duke Nukem Forever… It will fill many evenings throughout the week and weekend like this one when Marion is not here.


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Katie Melua

by Rob on

Last year December Katie Melua would come to The Netherlands to perform here. I had tickets for that performance. But sadly Katie became sick. The show was cancelled and moved to another date.

The new date was yesterday… and as I had chosen to keep the tickets (and not have them repaid) yesterday was the day.

In December it was the idea that Marion and I would go together. But we already knew for some time that Marion would not be able to be there yesterday. It was Marion her own idea to ask Sanne to come along.
Sanne was really happy with the invitation and was happy that she could make it.
When Sanne’s nephew heard that she would be going to Katie Melua, he asked if he and a friend would be welcome to come along. As I already knew both of them, that was no problem to me. They managed to get also tickets, so all was set.

Yesterday I left early from work and went in the direction of the Heineken Music Hall in Amsterdam. I was way in time in Amsterdam. It was not long after that Laurens and Peter (the nephew and his friend) joined me there. While we were waiting for Sanne we went something to drink close by.

In time Sanne joined us and the waiting for the performance of Katie started. But we were not bored for a moment. We had lot of fun and laughed a lot.

Around 20:00 the show started. The supporting act was by an Israelite artist (who’s name I forgot) how made very nice show with sounds effects, but it was not what we were waiting for.

Finally the time was there… Katie and her band walked up on the stage…

Woaaa…. what a performance. Katie has a great voice… a great guitar player… and a sight to see. Yes, she is really a beauty.

I know quite a lot of artists who are better in the studio then on stage. I also know artists who are in the studio and on stage great. But in my opinion Katie belongs to the few who are better on stage then in the studio. And as Peter remarked correctly.. in the studio she is even already great.

Katie sang her older songs as her newer songs. There is really a change in style, but not necessary a bad one.

As so often with that kind of things, time flies and before you know it is all over. Out side we talked a bit more and agreed that we had a wonderful evening together.

Laurens and Peter went on there way home. Sanne was very tired and it would have been very irresponsible to let her drive all the way to Haaksbergen like this. So I offered her to sleep at my place (and keep your mind out of the gutter. Sanne is a very good friend of mine who slept more often at my place. She is a welcome and trusted quest and friend).

Once at my place, Sanne and I sat, drank something together and ended up in a long but very good conversation. And it was around 3:30 before we went to sleep, which was maybe not the most clever thing for me to do as I had to work the next day. Ah well, as the Dutch saying tell… in the evening a man, in the morning a man. And it was it all worth… a very nice evening spend.


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Herbs

by Rob on

Last year I had some herbs growing on my balcony. It was a very good success and I used them often for the cooking I do. Nothing beats fresh herbs.

This year I wanted to do the same again, but through all that happened I just hadn’t the time to buy the herbs I wanted. And today I suddenly wanted to do and I am so happy that there some shops are open on Sundays!

Currently there are thyme, oregano, celery, parsley, rosemary and chive. It would be nice to have also dill and bascilicum, but that can wait for now.

I think that in 2 weeks or so that the plants are accommodated enough so that they can be used for cooking.

As said before, nothing beats fresh herbs!


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About Madurodam and the Kuhrhaus

by Rob on

One of things Marion and I still wanted to visit was Madurodam in the city of Den Haag. For those who are not familiar with Madurodam… Madurodam is large open air collection of all kind well known Dutch buildings and vehicles rebuilt on a scale of 1:25.

It looked like to become a very nice warm day, so early in the morning we went on our way in the direction of The Hague (or “Den Haag” or “‘s-Gravenhagen” as it is called in Dutch). Before we knew it we were standing before the gates of Madurodam and as we bought our tickets online we were very fast inside.

It was already rather busy, but not too busy. I have been years ago at Madurodam before, but not much memories of that time. Specially no good ones (it was with my ex).
But now all was good. The weather was great (maybe even a bit too warm). The company was wonderful. The surrounding were great. Who can ask for more?

Of course something like Madurodam is for someone with a camera a paradise. And I must say that today I really loved my 18-200mm lens. It is perfect for things like this.
And Marion didn’t mind that at some moments I was really focussed on my camera. She knows how I liked to get the best out of my camera. And we had a great time trying to recognize all the structures without consulting the catalogue.

I was happy to hear suddenly the sound of one of the best rock-bands we have here in The Netherlands… The Golden Earring. And just looking behind me showed me The Golden Earrings giving a concert on a scale of 1:25 :)

One moment was very special… I saw a miniature of a watermill. And I remarked that I thought that a watermill with double wheels was unique in The Netherlands, specially with a third wheel to a second building?
Marion nodded and looked into the catalogue and laughed as she explained to me that miniature I was looking at was the Oostendorper watermill of Haaksbergen (the town were I grew up and that is why I knew about this unique watermill).

And here the real thing…

For lunch we had some very nice pancakes at the restaurant of Madurodam. Marion had a plain one with apple butter (“appelstroop”) and I had one with bacon and cheese.

As we were very close to it, Marion suggested to visit the Kuhrhaus in Scheveningen. As I had never been there before I agreed. And I also knew that Marion would enjoy the shops there very much. So another reason to go there.

The shops were indeed very nice. Not only Marion enjoyed herself there, I did also. Many shops there of very different kinds. Something for everyone.

But the beaches I didn’t like at all. Way too busy for me. Beaches are nice for me when there a lot less people there. Luckily Marion agreed with me. So we stayed away from the beaches.

I heard many great stories about the pier of Scheveningen, but that was really a disappointment. It is old, badly maintained. And to be honest, the views over the sea are the best thing it offers.

Anyway, we had a wonderful dinner in the “Kurzaal Restaurant” and we were lucky to get easily a place there. It was really good and not even that expensive.

We discussed that it would maybe very nice to spend any time one or two nights at the Kuhrhaus Hotel. Would be special. There… another thing to our “to do-list”.

And here, another great day spend :)

 

(Credit photo’s: Rob)


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Suske & Wiske again

by Rob on

I have written before about the fact that I am collecting “Suske & Wiske” books. For that don’t know, “Suske & Wiske” are a comic series made in Belgium, but which are popular in many countries these days.

To be honest, since my move to Heemskerk I have not done much with my “Suske & Wiske” collection. But the bookshelf full with those red/orange comic books cannot be ignored forever :).

My problems was and is, that when I want to buy a new or second hand “Suske & Wiske”-book that I am not sure if I don’t have it already.
For that reason I bought a small database application for my old Nokia E71 phone. In that database I created a table with all the books of “Suske & Wiske” that I already had. So I could always check that list.
But every time there was new software available for the Nokia E71 the license of the database program was gone when the new Nokia software was installed. I had to contact the maker of the database program for a new license key. A real annoyance. So after time I stopped using the program.

But now I have my iPhone and I was convinced that there would be a nice database program for my new phone. And I was right, I found a nice one. “HanDBase” is called. It has many nice features as that it can communicate directly with MS Access, but I will not use that. I will use its own desktop front end.
There I can design the tables I want, fill them with the right information and synchronise it to my iPhone by Wifi. Works really great.

So I gathered somewhere from the Internet a list with all the “Suske & Wiske” albums that we released. I converted it to a text file and imported it to HanDBase desktop. To the new table I added a Yes/No field to indicated if I have that album or not. And I added a memo-field for remarks as some books I have are damaged or it are special promotion releases.

Forget the technical grab. Only thing that counts is that I can get new “Suske & Wiske” albums again without being afraid to buy albums that I already have.

Currently I have about 153 albums of the 316. So I have 50% of all released albums. My goal for this year to get at least 200 albums. Sure, some of the older albums might be hard to get… but anyway…. EBay and “Marktplaats”, here I come again :)


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