The days immediately following Christmas are almost always a blur, after the excitement and preparation for Christmas day. First up was my birthday on boxing day, a day which is traditionally spent entertaining friends and family with little room left for an actual birthday celebration. I enjoy spending time with different people, but it would be nice to have a distinct birthday further away from the festive period. I did get to watch Guardians of the Galaxy though, which is always a plus. Guardians of the Galaxy has one of the best soundtracks of any film I have seen in a long time, with a mixture of pop classics and atmospheric orchestral arrangements – music plays a central role in the story and how it is delivered.
The Great Hike
My days have been spent eating Christmas leftovers and tinkering with gadgets, and the odd venture into the Great Outdoors. Personally, I don’t see what’s so great about it! I kid, of course, but it has been bitterly cold over the last week and not particularly enticing. So cold, in fact, that we decided to journey into the Mourne mountains and conquer Slieve Meelmore. The walk started out like any other, but soon became more extreme than expected. The path is steep enough to start with, but add ice and gale force winds into the mix and it makes for an interesting experience. My hands were aching and any exposed part of my face was freezing cold, but we powered on to the top. What a view! I have never seen the mountains like that before – truly a spectacle to behold. Some of the views were straight out of China, as if we were looking at the Great Wall. It started as an ordinary walk, but certainly didn’t end that way. It also highlighted my severe lack of fitness – I really need to get out more! Cycling to North Belfast is not that much exercise, as the presence of pedestrians limits your speed significantly.
Weather Time, with a slice of Pi
Dad’s present this year was a weather station from Maplin, and has proven to be a more than capable time vampire to date. The setup was simple, and in no time at all we were getting readings of wind speed and direction, temperature, precipitation, and air pressure. Of course I couldn’t leave it there, no, that would have been too easy. The station has a USB output, so the information from the sensors can be collected on a computer and uploaded to a weather website such as Weather Underground (Wunderground, to those in the know). As is always the case, things are never that simple. I managed to get the station uploading data after a few hours messing around, but then the issue arose of a server. I had been running it on my laptop which was doing an excellent job with the aid of Cumulus, a weather recording program, but it makes for an inefficient and expensive server. The answer came in the form of everyone’s favourite fruit-based dessert…the Raspberry Pi! The machine of endless tinkering. It was gathering dust as a media centre, having been superseded by Netflix on the PS3, and begging to be put to use.
I spent a good part of last night and this morning trying to get the damn thing set-up, but as one issue is solved, another arises to take its place. I had a slight stroke of genius and managed to power the Raspberry Pi off the router, avoiding the need for a discrete power supply, but that is as far as I have gone. I’m planning to use it as a combined print and weather server when it is finally configured, but it could be some time before I forgive it for being so obnoxious. My knowledge and skills regarding the Pi are extremely limited, and it could be a while before it is up and going as I hope. I love the versatility of the Raspberry Pi, but I am too inexperienced with Linux to make the best use of the hardware and software. It is a genius piece of kit, though.
Metal Gear Rising: Ridiculous
Of course ridiculous isn’t the subtitle, but it should be. Revengeance is as ridiculous, but less accurate. I’m running out of time for this entry and I don’t feel as though I can do Metal Gear Rising justice in this small space, but I will say this, it is thoroughly enjoyable. And horrendous at the same time. There is no hand-holding where the game is involved – you are thrown in at the deep end after about thirty seconds of tutorial and expected to have mastered kenjutsu in that tiny space of time. It took 40 minutes of humiliation by Monsoon, a cyborg who can disassemble and reassemble himself at will, for me to learn the combat system. This was about three hours into the game and I hadn’t even figured it out! The parry and counter system is key to the gameplay, and is unlike any other. There’s plenty more to talk about, so stay tuned for the next post. I didn’t get talking about my tablet either! It’s still great, and I made a case to protect it…ah yes, that was another time sink.