Sep 26 2010

Mum has arrived :) Free sauna …

Category: TweetsChrisM @ 7:42 pm

Mum has arrived 🙂 Free sauna now offered on Turkish Airlines!( to have her here&looking 4ward 2seeing rest of family @ Xmas

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Sep 24 2010

She Did Eat Some Of It!

Category: Anna's PhotosChrisM @ 3:48 pm

The 20th of March 2010 saw Anna enjoying a chocolate dessert in Clydach with somewhat predictable results!
Four more posts will see us reach Anna’s photos where she is back in Kazakhstan, and I’m set the somewhat arbitrary deadline of publishing them before Mum gets here to Astana, early Sunday morning. I also have quite a few Kazakhstan based posts to write, but I’ll catch up with Anna’s UK photos first.

Happy Anna Happily Eating

Happy Anna Happily Eating

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Sep 22 2010

Tracking Thieves

Category: In The MediaChrisM @ 8:57 am

I came across a piece online titled “My Relentless Pursuit Of The Guy Who Robbed Me”, and thought you might like to read it as well. When reading this article, just click on the continue reading after the first five paragraphs.
It reminded me of an incident a couple of years ago when Mum was buying something on e-bay for her and John’s wedding. One set did not turn up, despite having been paid for, and the seller seeming legitimate. As time was counting down, Mum was understandably starting to stress out about it.
Starting with a name and e-bay account, I decided to see what I could discover about the person, who’s excuses were starting to sound pretty phoney, and I hoped to at least name and shame the person if they didn’t sort things out ASAP. In the end, I found their home phone number, the names of their family members, the address, parish council they served on, their workplace and boss’s direct number, and a couple of other little things.
Eventually, armed with enough information to ensure we had the right person, and multiple avenues of approach re. turning up the communication of our displeasure a few notches, a friendly local policeman had words with the e-bay seller, and within a day or two, all the goods turned up! Pure coincidence, I’m sure. I don’t know if I could have started randomly calling parish councillors anyway, but her boss wouldn’t have phased me 🙂

My thanks to Matt Mullenweg (the creator of WordPress) for the heads up on this story.

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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.

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Aug 10 2010

At Assorti with for a meal wit…

Category: Anna's Photos,Eating Out,TweetsChrisM @ 7:36 pm

At Assorti with for a meal with Anna and Irina. Our anniversary today. Nine years! Ira’s Mum’s birthday tomorrow.

Irina And Anna At Assorti - Anniversary Meal

The pizza was lovely, the portion size of the fluorescent green garlic bread was very generous, however it could have done with a bit more actual garlic flavour to it. They have a high chair there, and the service is very good. Here ends the compressed review of the Assorti restaurant in the top floor of Mega, Astana 🙂

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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.

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Jul 27 2010

Portable Presents

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 2:20 am

Once I’ve finished writing these posts, and at least drafted a fair few more of Anna’s photos and video entries, I need to make sure I look through the list of laptops that are currently available from local retailers. Irina still seems reasonably happy with hers, and I can’t justify buying one for myself, but someone in Irina’s family has a birthday soon. Actually as she doesn’t read English, and probably knows already what she is getting, I can reveal it is Ira’s Mum. She doesn’t want a full size desktop-replacement laptop, nor something from the limited range of netbooks that you can find in Kazakhstan. She would like something reasonably powerful, not too heavy to cart around, and it will mainly be used to access the internet and manipulate her photos, as she doesn’t get much time usually to go all the way to the top floor and use the normal PC in our bedroom. I have a basic idea of what to aim for, but I need to check which technologies have made it here to Astana, and aren’t overpriced either.

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Jul 26 2010

Stairy Prisoner

Category: Anna's PhotosChrisM @ 10:40 pm

One of the few advantages with living in a flat when you have a baby is that you don’t need to worry about stair gates. I don’t know if you can get them easily here in Kazakhstan, but as soon as Anna was mobile and willing and able to start clambering up a step or two back in Britain, Mum got one. This turned into a great attraction for Anna who wanted to know how to open it. Despite a lot of vigorous shaking, pulling and drafting in Gwen for her expertise, Anna didn’t manage to make it up the stairs. So, here with the final shots taken on the 5th of March, Irina had noticed that Anna was looking quite cute up the stairs at her, so she grabbed the camera. I think it was Irina on the stairs, it might have been me?

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Jul 26 2010

Lakeside Bird Watching

Category: Anna's PhotosChrisM @ 9:28 pm

Just a little more than a fortnight since the last post with photos of Anna. Which reminds me, I need to check if is still picking these up automatically, and whether the plugin used will work when I upgrade her blog to WordPress 3.0. Anyway, this photo was taken in the same place and at the same time as the last video published on this blog – the 4th of March 2010. You’ll have to forgive me if I maybe skip putting 2010 for the rest of the posts today, and if you are new to this blog, and wonder why the date is included, I want Anna’s site to eventually be something we can show to her and say, look, five years ago today, this is how you looked, and what you were doing 🙂
So, over by the lake that was in the camp site Mum and John were previously at, here we have John and Anna looking at the birds. Anna seems to be momentarily distracted by something land based, but in general she does seem to like watching animals in the wild 🙂

Anna And John By A Lake With Some Birds

Anna And John By A Lake With Some Birds

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Jul 09 2010

Feeding The Ducks At A Lake

Category: Anna's VideosChrisM @ 6:38 pm

Mum and John currently were spending a lot of time at a camping site, as it is a lot closer to Mum’s work, and the scenery was beautiful. Before they took the caravan there, they wanted to check a few sites in the locality, so John, Irina, Anna and I went to check out different locations, and at one of them there was a big lake with ducks and geese. The video was shot on the 4th of March. Since then they’ve had cows invade the area, as local chavs were breaking down fences so they could ride their mopeds and other hair dryer impersonating two-wheeled transport around the lake.

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