Robert Hampton

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September 2009

1st September 2009

Fruit and Nut

I’ve been pondering Macs again. The Mac Mini is available starting at £499, which is affordable enough, even when I consider the additional cost of some software (I would probably need to splash out 70 quid or so for the Mac version of MS Office, for example).

I’ve considered switching to Macs before. The first time I seriously thought about it was around the time Windows Vista was released. I was looking to replace my creaking PC and MacOS X looked preferable to Vista, which was getting a slating in the press. After careful consideration I eventually chickened out and went for a Dell PC, like a spineless corporate sheep.

So why did I reject the Mac? For the explanation, we have to go back to early 1993, when your humble webmaster was 10 years old. Having finally convinced my parents that my creaking Commodore 64 was not going to cut it, we set out to acquire a new computer. The one I settled on was the Acorn, because “that’s the one they use in schools”.

And so, I came home from the shop clutching an A3010 (the cheapest and nastiest of all Acorn’s models, fact fans), complete with 1 megabyte of RAM, floppy disc drive and a bundled copy of Zool (never got past level 2).

Read the rest of this post »

14th September 2009

BMI baby
Posted by at 1.28pm | It's My Life | 4 responses

I am officially fed up with being a fat bastard. I’ve just used the NHS BMI calculator which says I am overweight. Before anyone jumps in to point out the flaws in the Body Mass Index system, don’t bother — I am well aware of them. I am also aware of my own body, and I feel unhealthy. More importantly, there is a picture of me on the Mersey Tart site where I appear to have a life ring around my waist under my t-shirt.

It didn’t help that my birthday celebrations involved eating a lot of food in a restaurant, and that most of my presents were chocolate-related in some way (I also asked for Steve Appleton‘s debut album, but at £6.99 that was apparently a bit expensive). After a horrible loss of self-control yesterday, where I ate an entire box of chocolate orange segments in one go, I have now realised that something must be done.

(Incidentally, in the big box of Celebrations I received, there seemed to be about 100 Bountys and only six Galaxy Caramels. Where’s the justice?)

Previous attempts to lose weight have started well, but have always foundered after a couple of weeks. So I’m posting about it here in the hope that it will motivate me to make more of an effort, lest I be shamed by a public failure.

So, let’s get started. I currently weigh 90 kilograms – that’s when naked (and by the way, if you’re going to weigh yourself like this, don’t use the print-your-weight machine at Boots).

I think a reasonable target is to lose 12 kilograms by Christmas (bikini season — in Australia, anyway). That’s about 2 stone, if you’re old-fashioned and out-of-touch and using Imperial measurements.

So, I’m going to start eating more sensibly — no more deep fried crap, cut out desserts, reduce portion sizes, that sort of thing. I will also get my gym programme updated to be a bit more strenuous.

In the meantime, it would help if, instead of tutting and sighing and saying, “oh Rob, you’re not fat,” you used one of these suitable alternative greetings:-

  • “Your rotund figure calls to mind the ghost of Luciano Pavarotti”
  • “You should have “WIDE LOAD” tattooed on your buttocks, just like Homer in Simpsons episode 9F22!”
  • “I walked past the all-you-can-eat buffet place earlier today and noticed that they had ceased trading. Is that anything to do with you, or alternatively is it just another small business affected by the global credit crunch? I suspect the former!”

Stay tuned to find out what happens next — assuming I remember to post updates here, which is by no means guaranteed.

17th September 2009

New Tube
Posted by at 8.06pm | Trains | 4 responses

Londoners are up in arms about the new Tube map which has been redrawn to make it “less cluttered”. On that count it succeeds completely, largely thanks to tidying up the East London Line and getting rid of the little red dagger symbols that were sprinkled everywhere. Here’s a sample of before and after for you:-

Old Tube map

New Tube Map

The big change that has upset everyone is that the River Thames has disappeared. If it were a geographically accurate map this would be important, but it isn’t. As BBC blogger Mark Easton points out, the Tube map is designed for people who already know which station they’re going to and just need a simple diagram to know which lines to use. You don’t need to know where the river is for that.

So I think the new map is a huge improvement. It’s certainly better than the now permanently broken Merseyrail map, which after recent revisions has achieved the near impossible and made a simple network appear complicated.

Enjoy the new Tube map while you can, because Boris, with his keen eye for a bandwagon, has ordered the changes reversed.

21st September 2009

Worth the weight
Posted by at 1.05pm | It's My Life | 1 response

This morning I had to stand on the scales several times to confirm the measurement, because I just couldn’t believe it.

I now weigh 86kg. That’s a drop of 4kg (or just about half a stone in old money) from last week.

I’m actually really pleased about this, especially since we had a massive family barbecue at our house over the weekend where tempting food was waved in front of me at every turn.

The changes I’ve made haven’t been that drastic: reduce on portion sizes, cut out desserts, eliminate snacks between meals. All so obvious, and yet sooo effective.

I’m not satisfied yet though, and would still like to lose a bit more. So, it’s onward and upward! (inward?)

23rd September 2009

Free for all
Posted by at 10.47pm | It's My Life | No responses

In the last few weeks I’ve read about the outcry over punishing illegal filesharers; been asked for help setting up one of those DS addons that let you load up a memory card with pirated games; and heard people boasting about the “watch everything” Sky viewing card they got from a bloke in the pub.

I sometimes think I’m the only person left in the world who ever pays for anything. I feel like a chump, albeit one of high(ish) moral standing.

28th September 2009

Weight and See
Posted by at 1.02pm | It's My Life | 2 responses

Not as drastic a weight loss as last week. No amount of jiggling on the scales this morning could get them to go below 84.5kg.

To be honest I was a bit more lax than I could have been this week so I’m not too surprised that it’s only a small drop. But even a small loss of weight is better than none at all, so I’m still pleased. 🙂

30th September 2009

I’ve got something to put in you… it’s a Railcard, Railcard, Railcard
Posted by at 10.38pm | Trains | No responses

On Saturday I travelled to Hillside for the Friends of the 502 Group AGM taking place nearby. It was a happy occasion filled with positive vibes, but for me it was tinged with sadness because it was the last time I would ever use my 16-25 Railcard.


I first bought it when I was about 19 and itching for a ride on the Settle-Carlisle line. I’ve since used it for numerous trips to London, a circular trip round North Wales, the odd sojourn to York, a fabulous week of rail roving, more trips to London and another trip on the Settle-Carlisle line. OK, I’m not that imaginative.

I squeezed every last drop out of it by renewing it the day before my 26th birthday to get an extra year out of it. Still, all good things must come to an end, so it’s time to put this badly faded bit of thermal-printed card in my memory box (note to self: get memory box) and resign myself to paying full fare on the trains from now on. Unless I enrol as a mature student, which is unlikely to happen (I’m not mature, for one thing).

Goodbye old friend, I’ll miss you. Although I certainly won’t miss this dreadful picture of chubby teenaged me:

Young Person's Photocard