Oct 12 2010

NRJ visited by CIA!!

Category: Anna's PhotosChrisM @ 2:55 am

Just before we left Britain, Irina, Anna and I all went to see Nick, Roz, and the newly arrived Jack down in Cornwall. There are no photos here of Anna’s cousin as they prefer him to have some online privacy for now, but the following shot was taken in their house in between bouts of coo-ing and cuddling Jack a little. It felt really strange to see such a (comparatively) small baby again, though since that time Jack has made it quite clear that, physically at least, he’ll have no problems playing rugby in the future. Fingers crossed for our trip back to the UK this Christmas, and if we do make it, I’m hoping we’ll be able to cross paths. Anyway, enough of “Uncle” Chris, here is my brother Nick and me on the sofa.

Nick And Me

Nick And Me

Tags: , , , , ,


Oct 12 2010

Aiming For Quadlingual?

Category: PicturesChrisM @ 2:32 am

As regular readers/subscribers will know, this blog recently (finally) caught up with Anna’s photos and videos from our time back in Britain earlier this year. I think after another three or four posts, I’ll have cleared the backlog of all pictures taken during that time, not just Anna-based ones. From there, I can post the photos of Anna we have taken since April this year.
Anyway, just a quick explanation of why I’m holding a letter in this one… Despite Anna only just being over a year old at the time, the local authorities in Swansea had asked us to consider whether we wanted Anna to be educated in a Welsh-language or English-language school! To be honest, the thought hadn’t even crossed my mind at that point, though with her now starting playgroup/nursery a few times a week over here, I suppose our minds are slowly beginning to consider such topics.

Decisions - Welsh Or English Language School?

Decisions - Welsh Or English Language School?

Tags: ,


Sep 16 2010

Ony Vsur Derjit Kazakhstan Bezopasnom

Category: In The Media,Kazakhstan,VideosChrisM @ 2:11 am

I’ve attempted to spell out this post’s title in Latin characters, as the following Cyrillic characters will probably just appear as question marks still. ??? ??? ?????? ????????? ??????????.

First we have what appears to be a promotional video for the Kazakh navy, though it doesn’t actually exist yet. Hat tip to EurasiaNet for the video below and also this related article regarding orders for patrol boats and corvettes. I’ll just pretend I know what a corvette is for now 🙂 The Kazakh coast guard already exists on the Caspian sea, however a fully fledged navy would be able to sail further out, and obviously also be a visible deterrent to any ne’er do wells interested in Kazakh properties and installations.

I decided to check out the YouTube account that had uploaded this video, and found an interesting selection there.

Kazakh Special Forces – interesting that you only seem to see Kazakh faces there, I didn’t notice any Russians under the camo paint.

Here we have the Kazakh Presidential Guard, though the footage must be a little dated, as I believe that is Pope John Paul II being greeted around a minute into the clip, and our dearly beloved Glorious Leader President Nazarbayev looks a little younger at around the 3:45 mark. I’m not going to point out the ceremonies involved, especially as Britain has a similar set up with changing of the guard etc. in London. That said, I can’t help notice the Soviet style marching each time I watch this. I think this is from CCCP/USSR days, or do many other countries copy this style? There is a small section of non-ceremonial action at around 5:10.

If you have any military, specifically Air Force knowledge, I’d appreciate you taking a look at the follow clip. It is entitled “Kazakh Air Force strike the Manas Base”, but some of the footage (especially of the bombers taken from lower in the sky) seem to have been collected from other operations. Not as bad as one of the other videos on the channel that definitely had hollywood movie footage cut in to it. Anyway, feel free to leave an anonymous comment if you could clear up this query.

Finally, after all the military themed clips, we have a little b-boy action…

OK, I lied, I couldn’t leave you without this brilliant tribute to our most esteemed leader. I will not be writing anything negative about him here, nor publishing comments that contain insults, because of legal constraints in this country, and also due to the fact that there is nothing negative to write about him, his political party and the policies currently in force here. Obviously.
I should point out the use of the “Eye of the Tiger” could be misleading.
Face to face, out in the heat. Hangin’ tough, stayin’ hungry. They stack the odds ’til we take to the street….
You see you can not hold a protest on the street without applying for, and receiving the relevant permits. Perhaps we should alter the lyrics to ensure no Kazakh citizens are led astray?

Tags: , , , ,


Sep 15 2010

A Real Manager

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 8:19 pm

I was playing with PockeTwit yesterday, checking if all the features still worked OK, when I ran my saved search for tweets that mention Cheltenham. (For those that have only come to know me and this site since moving to Kazakhstan, I a lot of my childhood years in Cheltenham, after moving from Yeovil before secondary school.) Ignoring the tweets that were obviously for a Cheltenham in America (which apparently has a shopping mall that teenagers love to write about, and the residents there seem to think a local town is far inferior to their version of a Cheltenham), I came across some vacancies for customer service jobs, more specifically technical support manager. I favourited the tweet (I check twitter on my phone whilst having a smoke, and look up any interesting links on a PC later) just to see what the details were. It turned out the agency was based in Cheltenham, but the job was in London. The salary wasn’t too bad, and to my surprise I only lacked one essential skill, and ticked quite a few of the desired ones. I’m not sure right now if I’d want to be in a management role when we return to Britain (or if I’d be selected), but it was reassuring that there are jobs that pay a living wage or more that I could at least feasibly get an interview for!
[edit]
This post’s title refers to a point that was raised during the last English club I ran where locals reminded me that the title manager does not infer the same job responsibilities over here at all. You will most likely not be in charge of anyone, and can be quite junior within an organization and still be a “manager” in Russian.

Tags: , , , , , , ,


Sep 08 2010

How Often Is Too Often?

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 12:40 am

At some point in the future we will be moving back to Britain, and Anna will most likely not be at home all day by that point. This means that both Irina and I will be able to (ha, like we would have a financial choice 🙂 ) work, whether it be full time, part time or temp work. I have decided to try and plan ahead and check out the job scene within the IT sector in advance. I don’t know whether I hope for an engineering job (I used to work as a credit card terminal installer/repairer/staff trainer), technical support (most of my recent roles) or perhaps something a little different.
Being realistic, I suspect it will depend on where we live, and the positions available at the time. Anyway, having already signed up to LinkedIn (see my profile here), I thought it was time I start collating references, especially as a lot of my old bosses don’t work for the same company any more, and so I asked a few clients, colleagues and former employers to leave a comment there. Even Kate said something nice! I also decided to start looking at the different groups there, and was surprised to find quite a lot of “content” that appeared to be little more than spam, by a resume résumé resumé CV writing service company, on the IT Job Board group. I was wondering if any other members saw this in other groups and whether it was accepted as normal behaviour or not? I am not writing this question over there, because perhaps this frequency and topic of posting is considered normal? Anyway, if you don’t want to answer publicly, feel free to e-mail me (see the Contact Me section on this page), or send me a message at LinkedIn.

Tags: ,


Sep 07 2010

Plane Tickets

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 10:41 pm

I am pretty sure that this post will end up working my anti-spam plugins overtime, but I was wondering if anybody knew of where to get good Astana <> Britain tickets – price wise? Back in 2006 ChrisD managed to find a return flight that was ridiculously cheap, something silly like two to three hundred pounds. Whenever we go back to the UK for Christmas/have family or friends over, we try to find the cheapest deals going, but never really get very far. We obviously try Travelocity, Expedia and LastMinute , and then once we’ve found the cheapest flights, check the airline’s own website, in case there are special offers on. For a short while, Air Astana had a great deal on return flights (but only from Kazakhstan and back again, not vice versa) but that offer expired. Anyway, does anyone have a tip of where to look, or alternative approaches to consider? Mum will be here in Astana in a little over two weeks, so it would be too late to save her money, but we are hoping to go back to Wales around Christmas/New Year time, so if we need to book well in advance for savings, now would probably be a good time to check, I’m assuming.

Tags: , , , , , , ,


Sep 07 2010

Photos Sorted

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 8:21 pm

I have finished sorting the photos we have shot here in Kazakhstan since our return from Britain, and I’m about half way through cropping, resizing and minor tweaking as well. I hope to have them published on here soon, and as we will be going back to our flat tomorrow (we have been house and pet sitting for Irina’s parents whilst they were on holiday), I should be able to actually post more often.
The one problem with looking after Anna in a house, compared to a flat, is that she wants to go up and down between all the floors quite a lot, meaning even if I use Irina’s laptop instead of the main PC, I don’t get a lot of free time to post. Anyway, expect photos of Anna’s new custom built play house (no wooden swing sets needed), meals out, playing around and our trip to Petropavlovsk! I think I have spelled the city name correctly this time, I don’t fancy having to trawl through all my posts again after last time’s problems.
I have also uploaded all the videos to YouTube, though only 1/3 of the new ones have any sort of title or description yet. As there are still a few to post that were already uploaded from our UK trip, I’m not going to lose any sleep over these anonymous videos just yet.

Tags: , , , ,


Jul 28 2010

Flashing The Day Away!

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 10:50 pm

While Irina was not at home today, I spent most of my time flashing. Rather than calling the local authorities though, you should just nod and say “maladyets”.

The flashing consisted of SharpFin-ing (if it isn’t a verb, it should be) my Logik IR-100 internet radio, as well as my HTC TyTn II / Kaiser.

The internet radio has been unable to play BBC Radio on demand programs for more than a few minutes ever since April/May. Given that over here in Kazakhstan, the main reason I want the radio on is to catch up with UK based news programs and a little light comedy before falling asleep, the device was quickly losing any reason for using mains power up. I had wanted to apply a 3rd party update to the radio for a while, but whilst it was able to complete 95% of my requests without problem, I couldn’t justify risking bricking the thing. Not only is it no longer on sale back home, similar devices cost between two and five times as much, so had I cocked up and ended up with plastic box that did nothing, I’d have felt highly agrieved.
Now that the new linux components are installed and working OK, I can select different firmwares from Reciva (the company that runs the online access portal for it), play media files locally from a thumb drive, and even remotely administer it from my PC. There is only one (internal) USB socket on the motherboard, which is normally occupied by a caseless WiFi adaptor, however with a little brute force on a rear plastic grill, a USB hub that wasn’t used for anything important (only USB 1.1), and a few minutes re-checking procedures, Cygwin re-installation and telnetting, the radio has reprieved it’s binward journey. To get to this point, I did switch from Windows 7 to XP (problems with services blocking ports), at which point a different error appeared. Whilst fixing this DLL dependency problem, Anna decided to press the reset button the PC. When logging back in to XP, it appeared that the unscheduled reboot had caused a corrupt file. Luckily Vista saved the day (most likely the first and last time you’ll read that phrase without sarcasm on this blog.) Not only did the subterfuge of making the radio think my PC was a Reciva server, and so it could therefore accept my modifications, but it has proven the most stable and error free OS on my PC today. Obviously I didn’t actually boot into Ubuntu as I’m not comfy enough with it yet to try flashing other devices from it.
So, on to the second and slightly more fear-filled flashing incident today… my phone. As previously mentioned, the screen isn’t touchable in a few places due to a dodgy repair carried out by professionals back in Britain (need to contact them soon), and I was interested to find out what differences I could expect from the next phone we’re getting, which will have Windows Mobile 6.5, rather than 6.1. Given that I have a few backup phones that function perfectly well as phones, if not enterntainment/productivity enhnancing devices, I decided to take the plunge and see if I could hit two for two in terms of not killing lumps of plastic and silicon today. Skipping the usual routine of killing off processes in Windows to allow deeper access to the phone, I dumped the renamed ROM onto the microSD card, and told the phone to get on with it. No problems yet, though it is still very early days. The new interface is interesting, but I deliberately chose a light weight ROM with nearly all apps and bells and whistles removed. I’m slowly going through the process of reinstalling important apps (where simply re-creating shortcuts to the still present programs on the memory card won’t suffice), and I’ve not yet had to try and figure out how to text/call/live stream videos etc. in a rush, but I’m happy to know that the Touch Pro 2 from HTC will have this same OS version at it’s core, even if the interface will be bells and whistled to the hilt 🙂
Before I forget, welcome back home to Mum, John, Aunty Jean and Uncle Pete. Their well planned break took an early diversion, but more on that in the coming days.
Right, I’m off for now as I need to boot back into XP and re-sync contacts etc. from Outlook, so feel free to check out the rest of this page for a lot of photos and videos of Anna back when she was in Britain.

Tags: , , , , , ,


Jul 27 2010

Feeding The Ducks At The River In Evesham

Category: Anna's VideosChrisM @ 2:13 am

Copying the activities from a week before, here we are in Evesham (I’m reliabily informed by Wikipedia that some locals refer to their hometown as Asum??) feeding the ducks once more. The river Avon winds it’s way through a lot of Britain, and you can get to the area shown in the video by walking through the old Abbey grounds.
There are some tables near there, so if we ever visit Britain in the summer, we could probably take a picnic down there, and really give the ducks something to quack about with the breadcrumbs 🙂 However, the 12th of March isn’t really sun bathing season, so we fed the ducks and moved on.
BTW, I didn’t plan on putting Anna’s dummy in a pile of bird seed, the idea was for Anna to take a handful to feed the ducks, however Irina had just asked her to hand the dummy over, and when Anna saw a palm in front of her, just followed the request (ignoring the Mamma part).
Obviously we cleaned up the dummy at home before returning it into general circulation. Anna normally only has the dummy in as she falls asleep, but we take it when there will be long trips in the pushchair, as it works well as a temporary pacifier. Which is why the Americans call it that I suppose?
Also, I was hovering around Anna as 1) She was very close to the river bank and 2) I vividly remember a goose snapping at my fingers as a child and so, along with bees & wasps, I am convinced that they’ll attack Anna if I’m not there to protect her 🙂 Though Anna should probably know that once she is capable of running well, and flapping her arms in the air like Daddy does when he sees something black and yellow buzzing around, she might be best to assume I’ll stop pretending that I’m anything other than a big girl when it comes to bees and wasps. I’ll jump in front of a raging bull/speeding car/other dangerous thing I can’t think of right now, but once Anna learns to run, and wants to run away from bees/wasps, she may find her Dad joining her 🙂

Tags: , , , , , ,


Jul 27 2010

Cheltenham Visit

Category: Anna's Photos,FriendsChrisM @ 1:22 am

We did not have long in Cheltenham whilst we were in Britain, and as luck would have it, just before we left race week started, meaning travelling anywhere in the area could suddenly involve hundreds of cars on roads that were designed with about 1/10 of the traffic flow in mind. We did manage to meet up with a few people though, as you can see from the photo below, taken on the 11th of March. We were at Emma’s house and her daughter was a little star, playing with Anna and keeping her entertained 🙂

Emma And Ira With Families

Emma And Ira With Families

Tags: , , , ,


« Previous PageNext Page »