What’s behind Door #2?

Day two of the advent calendars.

Althea pulled Blue Raspberry Millions….which she proceeded to declare “I don’t like Blue Raspberry”….so she is 0 for 2 so far in Millions!

Elle’s candle was a white one. Theres apparently a key underneath the pyramid box. It’s called something with frost in it…meh!

Oh look…another Reese’s Cup…same as yesterday! 

 

And mine now.

Nice little Christmas pack of Haribo…the sweets were shaped like candles and trains etc.

And the cheesy treat was a Wensleydale with cranberries. Beautiful!

No joke though….

I am definitely winning the Advent calendar game here!

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Advent Calendars – Day 1

Merry Christmas everyone.

Welcome to the start of December and everyone’s favourite day. You have probably had the Advent Calendars in the house since around August and now it’s finally time to open up Door #1 on the run up to Christmas.

There are three of us in our house….we have five Advent Calendars. Althea has one. We have two each. The reason for this is simple. We got carried away. Back in September I saw a Reese’s advent calendar and anticipating massive shortages, and an unhappy wife, I paid over the odds to buy one before the price wars started and I could have probably picked one up for half the price. Either way…she had one

Staying with Elle, she came home from work with a Yankee Candle one too yesterday so that is also in the morning opening routine. 

Althea has a simple Millions one. How can this fail? She loves Millions right? More on that shortly…

Then onto me. Elle originally got me a Haribo one. I love Haribo, and the fact I would get to open a packet of them every day and snaffle them like a big kid was very appealing. Plus…it was the largest out of all the ones I could see! 


I ended up with a second one simply because someone made it.

Every now and then, someone, somewhere in the world, is elevated to genius status. It just takes that one idea to set the world on fire and cause a stir, getting people talking and making things fly off the shelf…and by God have they done it!

It’s a Cheese advent calendar. Just let that sink in for a moment….

Cheese.

Advent.

Calendar.

Made by “So Wrong It’s Mom” after unprecedented demand, ASDA were the first supermarket to stock this beast. 24 cheeses…a cheese a day! This was truly a Christmas Miracle!

So the anticipation began to build and now here we are on opening day. Lets see how each calendar fared on Day 1.

First up…Millions…

This one caused utter carnage…mainly because in the packaging, two small bags of millions were in the tray for today, not one. We realised that some had dropped out of the #10 door so wedged them back into the box…but they were the pink ones. Althea has seen them. She now has green ones in her hand….and, despite having never tasted them in her life…those words were spoken….”I don’t like them!”

Cue tears. Cue arguments about wanting the pink ones and then telling her she will have to wait 9 days for them (I didn’t have to tell her that but life is a hard, harsh lesson!)

In the end she ate some of them. So I would call it a minor success for the Millions.

Next up the Reese’s. Now, this is where I was unhappy. Check it out.

It’s clear that this is just going to be a box filled with 23 of the exact same thing. Nothing fancy, no song and dance. Not even a Christmas message on the inside of the door. Even the Millions one said “Christmas starts here” on the door.

Next up was Elle’s Yankee Candle one.

Again, no message on the inside. But the worst part of this was the candle. No indication as to the flavour. Was it a special Christmassy one, or just one that will have been laying around in the Yankee factory that they couldn’t shift throughout the year. Poor.

Onto the Haribo now. Pointless fact…Haribo is called that after Hans Riegel who set the company up in Bonne, Germany. Take the first two letters of his name and city and you get “Haribo”. 

And I certainly got Haribo! They were special Winterland Haribo. Well done guys! You nailed it!

But then…there was the cheese advent calendar. Here we go.

This calendar truly had everything. It opened up in a book-style so you could access the windows. Opening the window #1 I first noticed that we had a Joke…a bad one, but a joke none-the-less. I wonder what Cheese related comedy we will get in the next few days….

The Cheese was a Jarlsberg….and I will be honest, it wasn’t my favourite. Hopefully it will be a tastier one tomorrow!

Join us again tomorrow for Advent Calendar #2

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Molly’s Game

Molly's_Game

Based on the book of the same name, “Molly’s Game” is the true story of the life of Molly Bloom, a young Olympic skiing prospect, turned High-Stakes Poker Game Host, turned government target.

Molly, a beautiful young woman (played by Jessica Chastain) has a decent upbringing. She is close to achieving an Olympic dream when an accident pushes her away from the sport of mogul skiing and into a low budget existance before falling into a business run by Dean Keith, who also runs an underground Poker ring which he ropes Molly into hosting.

From there, Molly takes to the business like a Gambling addict with a stackful of chips and a favourable flop on the table. She is rubbing shoulders with A-List celebrities from Actors to sportsmen and holding her own in a world dominated by money and greed.

Early on in the film we see Molly’s house being raided in the middle of the night and her being indicted for running illegal games and making money from it. She explains she hasn’t been in the game for two years but has to find a lawyer pretty sharpish.

In steps Idris Elba’s spot on portrayal of Lawyer Charlie Jaffrey. He runs a tight ship and has his qualms about supporting Molly before being won over.

But it’s Chastain’s portrayal of Molly that carries the film. She looks amazing on screen, encompassing the high-class game she is involved in, whilst always remaining innocent too.

It’s hard to believe that all this happened in real life. I have not yet read the book but it is definitely on my list of “Must-reads” to get a deeper understanding of what happened.

I saw this film as part of Cineworld’s Unlimited Secret Screenings. The film is not released in the UK until January 1st but this preview screening was a great way to see a fantastic film in advance.

Check out the trailer here :

http://www.imdb.com/videoembed/vi1428994329

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Raspberry Pi Fight Stick Console Build pt2

Back on with this today.

Picked up a pack of 3M strong hanging strips from ASDA today. It’s basically like a form of velcro that holds really fast.

I wasn’t sure whether it would work but it would be worth a try for a couple of quid.

When I got home from work, the first thing to do was to strip the whole Fight Stick back to the core. When I did this, I realised that there was a whole section in the back corner which was redundant but something I could use with the space I needed. Luckily, that section came out.

Now I had some space to play with, it was a bit of playing around to see which position everything could be put into the casing.

In the end, it all worked with the Pi in the bottom half of it’s case, with one of the side panels attached. I attached the strips to the base and the outside of the case and pushed them together, keeping everything sturdy. A couple of screws to make sure the Pi didn’t come out of it’s half-case then everything was good to attempt to fit back together.

With wires everywhere it wasn’t easy to fit back in. Especially as the cable running from the Controller’s board to the Pi’s board was excessively long. A possibly shortening in the future.

Once everything was fit back together…it was time to test it and make sure everything worked. The way I positioned the Pi in the case was such that the power and the HDMI cables could be easily plugged in and out at any time. I have put the USB cables in already and they are fairly easy to be removed. These wires are for the Controller, a second controller (my Xbox One one) and a small bluetooth dongle for the bluetooth keyboard I have.

When I switched everything on, the Fight Stick wasn’t quite performing correctly and recognising a Left movement as an Up movement. So I had to take everything apart again and rearrange the wires that were causing a problem within the case. Once that was sorted, and everything was fixed back together…it was time to test….and it worked!

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So…still to do on the build :

  • Add a fan to the Pi for safety reasons.
  • Cover up the back panel and the newly formed top panel where the old switches were removed. Need to make sure there’s enough ventilation to let the warmer air escape.
  • Redesign the look of the whole stick :
    • Spraypaint the main body of it
    • Replace the image on the top.
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Raspberry Pi Fight Stick Console Build pt1

So I have branched out into the world of the Raspberry Pi. After a while hearing about these things, and never really thinking too much about them, this past weekend I saw one in action…game…changer!

I had to get aboard…so I took the plunge. Just £45 from Amazon for a Raspberry Pi starter kit complete with the Pi itself, an enclosure, and powerpack.

The Pi itself is pretty small but powerful. It’s packed with WiFi, Bluetooth, 4x USBs, HDMI and packaged with an operating system!

After putting the hardware together, everything was fairly easy to setup and run. I installed RetroPie so I could “acquire” some games and everything was working brilliantly. I enjoyed a nice little nostalgia trip back to the arcades I used to go into as a kid…although this time I didn’t need to shovel 10p after 10p into the slot…I was playing from the comfort of my own home, all controlled by my Xbox One controller connected by USB.

But then, following chats with Mark at work…a new plan formed.

Mark has spent a lot of time in the past competing in Street Fighter tournaments (not actual street fighting…more the Japanese fighting game we have all had a play on throughout the years).

Because of this, he had an old Fight Stick he no longer needed and was willing to donate it to the cause…the plan was formed.

Could I possibly mod a fight stick into a console ready to be used to plug and play anywhere? Could I, a guy who has never even attempted to build anything computer-y ever, manage to pull off a technical feat like this?

So today…it began!

So there it was, all modded up previously by someone else, sprayed and designed with Mark’s internet handle all over it, Chun-Li posing provocatively. But now this bad boy was mine.

So I got it home and took the whole thing apart. We had tested the controller in the office by plugging it into my phone and successfully making it work on a game on there so I was pretty confident it would work.

It didn’t.

Cue the panic!

Everything was wired up OK, the small LED lights on the board inside the controller were happily flashing away when connected to my phone…but connected to the Pi….nothing!

So I went into all the settings, tried installing drivers, tried detecting the Controller…nothing.

I was on a panicked Discord chat with Sam from the office (someone who owns a couple of Pi’s himself) but we couldn’t find the reason why!

Then I unplugged the USB cable that the XBox One controller was plugged into the Pi with and replaced with the Fight Stick…

And voila! We had lift off!

I tested it with a few games and it plays beautifully. Already in the middle of a nostalgia trip, I was back there even more with a controller straight out of an arcade cabinet!

Testing complete! The controller works!

Next up…putting the Pi into the Fight Stick and seeing whether I can get it all packed away nicely! 

Stay tuned…

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Faith in humans restored

So a few weeks ago, Althea was spotting a Finding Dory poster daily near our house. It was one of the Sky TV posters advertising movies.

One day, the poster disappeared. It was replaced with a generic Sky One poster. Cue a very upset 2 year old kicking and screaming and crying that “Dory’s gone!”.

So I emailed Sky TV’s marketing department and very cheekily asked whether they would have a copy of the poster in a regular size that I could possibly have.

Firstly I didn’t expect a reply, but then a lovely reply from a lady called Jenna came into my inbox. 

She wanted our address so she could send something.

Today the parcel turned up! It was packaged in a Paper box…so was quite large. When we opened it we couldn’t believe what she had sent.

Two large cuddly toys (priced at £19 apiece), a smaller cuddly toy, and a Hank that swims in water.

Such a lovely gesture. Althea was absolutely made up. It’s her 3rd birthday tomorrow and this was a lovely early present for her.

Thank you Sky TV

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Gains, Train and Automob-eels

Can I just start off by saying I think I might have excelled myself in the Headline stakes here – “Gains, Train and Automob-eels” might be my greatest moment. Lets see how everything fits together.

So Saturday started off, as explained in a previous blog, with putting 2.5lb on at Slimming World (“Gains”) which wasn’t ideal…but we had a good weekend to look forward to.

Set off for Birmingham around midday (Automobiles). Checked in the Ibis near the O2 Academy in Birmingham…the hotel can only be described as “the type of place where you get murdered!”. I was making light of it…but the OH (oh look I used blogger-speak) literally thought we were going to die in that hotel. I had to stop her wedging a door under all the handles when we were in there!

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We were in Birmingham to see Train (“Train” in the headline) at the O2 Academy…but first…Sushi!

I love a good bit of sushi, and in Birmingham is an all-you-can-eat Sushi & Grill restaurant called Kyoto Sushi and Grill that we had to try out.

It was only £22 each to have as much sushi as you want! And DAMN did we eat that sushi! We ended up having no less than 60….yes that’s not a type…SIXTY dishes between us. Bear in mind a “dish” is a single serving of something, so one piece of Sushi or three mini rolls etc.

It was so much fun…my favourite piece being the Eel (and there we complete the Headline “-eels”)

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Then it was onto Train at the Academy. I have seen them twice before but this was even better. We were fairly close, they sang all their best (and my favourite) songs and even better…after the show we were able to meet Pat by the stage door. Genuinely a lovely bloke.

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Oh…and we didn’t get murdered!

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