Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Forgetful Films

Seem to be having a bad run of films lately. Sometimes wonder how they can be made. Does the director not care? Or does the studio realise that it's going to be a stinker but carry on with it anyway to try to get the money back?

It's incredibly annoying to watch bad films but once I've started, I have to finish. Just in case.

I highly recommend that you avoid:

Around The World In 80 Days - If Richard Branson turns up in a cameo appearance then you know it's trouble. Absolutely awful in all respects.

Mindhunters - A bunch of soon-to-be FBI profilers on a final test but run around like panicking 5 year-olds. Slick film, rubbish script.

National Treasure - Mostly enjoyable but with huge plot holes and is vaguely familiar if you've read The Da Vinci Code.

On the other hand A Clockwork Orange was great. Wanted to see it for a long time, finally got around to it.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Cook out at el casa del canejas

If the picnic in the park on Saturday was an light, airy do, then the BBQ over at the Texas Ranger's place was full on Meaf extravaganza. No shots of the burgers, in fact no pics of anything while hello is playing up, but rest assured, they were big and they were Meafy. Even got threw some good ol' English bangers on to the barbie. Fantastic.

 Hurrah! I can upload pictures again. Still no burgers, but look at those glowing coals all ready to cook.

Backed up by some chit chat, Trainspotting soundtrack and bats dodging flak. Very nice pad up there in the hills. Not to difficult to get to, lots of space, peaceful and very very green. A huge forest is just a couple of mins walk down the road. I think I'm getting envious, but hopefully I'll quell it with more trips up there.

What a great way to spend a weekend.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Margit Sziget

 A slice of Margit Sziget (aka Margaret Island). Summer is here and the afternoon was well spent with friends playing frisbee and boules, drinking fröcs (wine spritzer) and nibbling at snacks.
Dug out my sandals and papucs (clogs/slippers) for the season and promptly covered my feet in blisters. Nice cool grass between my toes. Ahhh...... 

Saturday, May 28, 2005


Just installed Picasa to see what it does for my pictures. Trying out the "timeline" sorting but so far the most impressive is the quick and easy red-eye removal.

Of course the picture here shows a different type of red that you don't want to get rid off. Home-made wine down at the lady's Gran's place.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


At what point do you go from normally depressed (I guess it happens to everyone) to being clinically depressed, manically depressed and so one. Surely if it's all in your head, how can it be measured?

Isn't it just a case of how well you cope with different situations? Or is it really something going on in the mind. A chemical instability perhaps.

I tend to get down on Sundays, then it drags through Monday and then it's gone. Don't know why. It just happens. Seems to have stayed with me this week, but I'm sure it will go away. Odd that.

But before I let the subject die. What about insanity? How would you tell if you were insane or not? Again, I just don't understand how you quantify it. I can see how extreme insanity can be spotted but how does the person who it's affecting know? Only from other people telling them?

Surely if you are going insane, you must have once been okay and then started to go a bit loopy. If you can detect that yourself, then that's when the paranoia and worry would really set it. It'd be enough to drive you nuts.


Scafolding started turning up outside the building where I live. It seems that after about 3 years, they (we?) managed to get the cash to renovate the facade.

It's a great building, not too fancy but not too plain either. It's a corner building and a few years ago the building "committee" managed to scrape together enough money from the maintenance payments to do up one side of the building but not the other. 

 The plan was that the side facing the side street would be repaired while the one facing the main road wouldn't. The sneaky strategy was that if the governement was going to give a grant for the work then it would be more likely to do so if the crumbly side were more obvious and potentially embarrassing (and dangerous).

3 years is a fair time. Not sure if we got the grant or the maintenance payments now cover it but it's happening. Slowly. Saw a note next to the lift saying that it'll take about three months. I thought they'd be done in a few weeks but seeing as it's taken them 2 days to put scaffolding up to just the first floor, maybe they're being realistic.

One shiny new building coming soon.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Office Pantomime

I've noticed that when a colleague gives me bad news on a project I tend to say "Boo...." and of course, if there's a breakthrough then it's "Hurrah!".

I wonder where it's going to take me. When someone starts shouting in a conference call I propose to boo them off the line, similar to good old fashioned pantomime.

Perhaps when I'm next asked where the stats page has got to I'll pluck up the courage for an "It's behind you!!".


It's been quiet for the last week or so and I've been lumbering about in a state of "Why?" for the past few days. Maybe it's not "Why?" maybe it's just a state of "fed up". I'm sure it has something to do with summer coming on and the lovely lady enjoying her work-free days.

Work-free days definitely sounds good right now but there's always that faint promise of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. As I've got nearer to the end of the rainbow that pot has been moved a couple of times but the chance of being able to get out is enough to keep me going after it. Mind you, if it moves one more time, I don't think I'll be able to take it.

Or perhaps I just need a holiday.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


Every now and then a little voice tells me that I should buy a new car. I don't think I'm going crazy and I don't think it's a frittering spending spree coming on. Something has to be done.

Take a look at the beast that is the "Opi" (pronounced, "Oh-pee"). A fantastic car of it's time, just a shame that time was 21 years ago. No joke. In 1984, this 1.8l (115 bhp) sports coupe rolled out of the factory and teared about the German autobahns, before coming to rest in good old Budapest some 2 decades later. 

 More about Opi

Bought from the lovely lady's butcher-in-law at the beginning of 2004 for a grand price of 150,000 Ft, it's served us well (most of the time). Thing is, you can't get upset when it misbehaves, it can't help it. It's old now and can't keep control of all it's functions.

Why, just this weekend it embarrasingly wet itself on the family's drive. Not urine, not even something simple like water. Seems that the petrol tank was too full (how would I know, the fuel gauge doesn't work) and in the sunshine, everything expanded until it couldn't take anymore. At least it was brought to our attention in good time (petrol really does stink) and the solution was easy (park it facing downhill out of the sun).

This is just the latest in a line of mishaps our poor old Opi has gone through. First the lack of fuel gauge caused us to run dry (though really it was pouring down). The attempted starts on an empty tank was probably what made the computer (yes, 21 year old computer engine management, amazing!) burn out.

Other electrical problems involve the wires to the rear light clusters melting into the trim. Smelt terrible but it also meant I had no brake or indicator lights. Bit scary driving home that time.

The brakes siezed up after being parked on the street a while. After that one I learnt to keep it in gear to stop it rolling rather than applying the handbrake too hard (the handbrake doesn't really work that well anyway).

And that's just the stuff that stopped it going. I haven't mentioned the wobbly wheels (bad tracking - fixed) radio that pops out when you go over a bump. Or the bonnet release that snapped off in my hands so now there's just a thin wire to pull. Or the mess of wires hanging under the dashboard as they don't seem to fit anywhere else. Or the sunroof that can stand the sun but not the rain.

But to be honest, I don't mind. It gives it a bit of character and adds some adventure to every trip. It goes like stink and it's strangely reliable. After sitting in the snow for 6 weeks it started first time without any grumble.

I'll be genuinely sad to see it go but it must.

Back to home

Happy Tuesdays

Forgot about Monday this week and started straight away with Tuesday. Of course everyone else carried on as normal so I had plenty of catching up to do with the important reading of news.

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 Carrying on with the console theme from earlier. Sony released details of it's Playstation 3. General press snippets latched on to the spin of "twice the power of Xbox 360". Which is nice. I also trust they'll do more in the way of a pvr. But it's not coming out for ages, so I'll keep my hands in my pockets.

Nintendo's also been showing off a prototype of their Revolution but seeing as they're going for the "games only" experience, I'm not too bothered about it. Sorry Mario.

Back to home

Friday, May 13, 2005

Long Weekend

Off to the lovely lady's Gran's place down in Komlo on Saturday. Monday's a holiday so we're making the most of the long weekend.

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We'll drive down in the Opi, Saturday morning. Probably splash out on a matrica for the motorway. Come back on Monday afternoon and sit in a 3 hour jam as everyone else does the same.

It's always good to go down to Komlo. A fair bit of the lovely lady's family down that way with the Gran, father, uncles and aunts, cousins, nephews, the whole shabang. Plenty of open space with a real house and a real garden. Time to chill.

Back to home

Xbox Unboxed

Looks like the Xbox 360 aka the Xbox2 is finally here. Well, the specs anyway. Don't get me wrong, I think it's great, but I was hoping for a full-on game console cum entertainment centre cum vcr/pvr/tivo thingie.

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I like the playing of games but for me the real hook is the idea of streaming music or video using an easy-to-use on-screen (or maybe non-screen) display.

I'd also like to be able to record stuff off the tv / radio / net-broadcast. 2 out of 3 'aint bad and maybe the recording functionality is in there somewhere. Perhaps saving chunks to the small hard disk and then uploading (or streaming) it back to a PC.

I wonder if it's able to handle gathering / playing content from more than one PC. Might be nice.

Now waiting to see what Sony brings out for the PlayStation 3. Seeing as they've already got that pvr stuff in that weird (now defunct?) PSX, they should be able to squish it into a PS3 no problem.

Back to home


The lovely lady was out last night partying it up at an ex-colleague's leaving do. Ex-colleague as the lady quit herself back in February. Though strangely she keeps going back for more punishment at the beginning of each month to help them out.

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Should be all over now but can't tell until the next month rolls around. Mind you, her ex-people have a dvd of mine which I wouldn't mind getting back.

I came home late from work feeling knackered so just crashed out in front of oh, the computer. Watched Stuck On You. I found it good and funny, maybe I wasn't expecting much. Didn't feel like attempting another voip experiment with the folks back home. Sorry folks.

Back to home

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Where the streets have no streets

 Booked tickets on SkyEurope this morning. Off to Venice. Never been before and taking the lovely lady with me.

Just a long weekend, Friday to Monday at the beginning of July.

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SkyEuropes doing good deals right now. The flight to Venice for two people and including all the taxes etc came to 34,623 Ft which is less than a 100 quid. Now just have to find a place to stay.

They've bought some new Boeing 737s so they're also doing some even cheaper deals at 737 Ft, about 2 quid. You have to add on the taxes and fees but that's still damn cheap. Perhaps we'll have to get some more travelling under our belts.

It would be good to go back to the UK for a short break but there's also Athens, Copenhagen, Madrid etc on that list.

Hmmm.... where to go.....

Back to home

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

5x2 = ?

Got free tickets to a film tonight. Just got back from it. 5x2 was the name of this slightly arty-farty French film. French with Hungarian subtitles. Strangely I can cope with Hungarian subtitles in films if I don't concentrate too much. Thinking only makes it worse, which could be said for quite a few things I guess.

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Standard story about a relationship falling apart but was never really together from the start. To try and inject some extra thought, the film is split into 5 scenes (hence 5x2) but then each scene shown in reverse order.

Film had a couple of good thought provoking points but that's about it. The rest seemed to be too biased on how crappy the guy was.

Well, it was free.

Back to home

Lost in the Voip

 Living in Hungary and being the tight-arse I am, I'm keen to keep the phone bills down to the UK where I originally came from. There are a number of options but I'm most keen on the free stuff.

From what I see on the net, the options are the normal messengers of Yahoo, MSN, AOL/AIM. Plus the hyped up Skype.

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There's also Tele2 isn't free but it's dead easy, cheaper than the normal telecom and it uses a normal phone. All that needs to be done is dial 1502 before the normal number you'd dial. Quality can be good, can be choppy, but generally it feels like a proper telephone conversation. Been using this for most local and international calls but it's not whole lot cheaper internationally so I'm hoping to bring that price down even further.

I have logins for all of the main instant messengers and all of them now offer some sort of voice chat, webcam conferencing and even PC-2-Phone calls. So I thought I'd give them a try.

I sort of understand the hype with Skype but I think it's more to do with the fact that they "educated" the market and so everyone thinks they're the first or main provider of this stuff. From what I see it's the same functionality if not less than the other messengers. It has PC-2-Phone and PC-2-PC voice chat (no webcam). Now that we're living in the broadband internet age, I'd really like to see the people I'm talking to. Webcam would definitely be nice. Then there's the reports I have from others that have tried it range from "Okay-ish" to "Complete crap". So Skype is lower down on the list for me.

I'm a moderately sized fan of Yahoo Messenger and MSN Messenger. They offer a dead simple interface for normal text chat with an easy route up to voice chat and webcams. It seems they do PC-2-Phone as well but I prefer free to cheap.

Tried Yahoo back in January while away from home. It seemed to be good. I could voice-chat fine with the lovely lady but while the camera worked, it kept freezing up on me. I think that might have been more to my old laptop than the software or connection. Then tried again a few days ago to get in touch with the parents back in the UK. Perhaps this time the connection was dodgy but it was worse. Voices were distorted to a comical degree with one person sounding like a slurring baritone and another (male) like a high-pitched little girl. I'm half inclined to think it's a feature to protect the users' anonimity.

Oh well. I'll try it again I'm sure but also look into the MSN and AOL/AIM route. Netmeeting was also discussed but I think this is old tech now and has been replaced by MSN. Another thing to look into.

Probably more posts coming up about this as I carry on experimenting.

Back to home

Monday, May 09, 2005

The expanding post

Now the question is, "How do expanding posts work?".

I think I need expanding posts so that long items can be summarized on the main page and then the full article resides on it's own page. This means that when you go to the main page, you don't end up with a massive long snakey thing that just goes on and on.    Read more

This post contains some snazzy little code to try and do just that. So sorry if you're reading this properly. It's just a test. Another little beginning of blog experiment.

Now you can hit "Back" in your browser to get to the main page.

Opera - It 'aint begun till the fat lady hands over the tickets

This will sound like a rant, probably because it is.

My parents are coming into town in June. They love it here and are bringing a couple of their friends to see it for the first time. They'd like to go to the opera to see, well, an opera. Preferably one they've heard about. I've tried to buy opera tickets several times before on their previous visits. Each time ending up with crappy tickets, each time vowing to plan ahead, buy early and get seats that cost more than 1,000ft.

I learnt in March that they were coming over in June. I checked the Opera website and saw that Madame Butterfly / Pillangoasszony is playing. Even I've heard of that one, so I tried to buy tickets. Impossible they said, tickets for the month are only available at the beginning of the month before, so I'd have to wait until May to purchase. I was a bit sceptical as the last time I bought (at the beginning of the previous month) the nice man behind the desk told me that most of the tickets had been sold months in advance. Anyway, I waited a few weeks, called the ticket office and was told again that I could only buy from the beginning of May.

Budapest Opera House

Roll around May 2nd (May 1st being a Sunday and national holiday all in one) and I check online to see that I can now buy tickets, there's over a 100 available and they're in good places. Great! But it won't allow me to book online so I pop to the ticket office. I'm there in the actual opera house about 20 mins after they've opened. When I'm served, the lady tells me that there are just a handful of tickets left and they're all in the gods. I argue that the website tells me of lots of good places but she doesn't know anything about that. I bite the bullet and buy some crap seats. I'll try to get some good seats from somewhere else, and maybe give / throw these ones away. When I ask the lady how I can get good seats she says that they're all sold months in advance but not to individuals. Then she picks up the phone so perhaps I'll never find out how to get good tickets at the opera.

My conversation with the lady of the tickets was in Hungarian, but I'm pretty sure that we both fully understood each other.

So my question is, "How can you get decent tickets for the opera?"

Turns out that the "online reservation" feature from the ticket website was turned off. As I watched the number of available tickets go lower and lower, they had forgotten to switch on the feature for the beginning of the month. They switched it on and I booked the last decent 4 tickets (I hope. I still have to pick them up).

Consipiracy? Probably not, but hey, it's got to be easier than this.

Saturday, May 07, 2005


Oily, fatty, juicy and above all, very very Meafy.

A selection of kolbász at the end of the chain bridge, from May 1st celebrations.

Blogged Up?

Am I all blogged up or blocked up? This is the first post to see how everything looks and works. If this goes okay then I should be set.