Sunday, 16 December 2018

Festivities Begin

 Traditionally, the celebration of Christmas is a 12 day affair starting on Christmas Eve.  Today we went up the road to Little Moreton Hall for a Tudor style pre-Christmas performance by Piva.  Yesterdays event was cancelled due to heavy winds and rain, but today was a different story.
 The jester was a key part of the entertainment with a string of well devised verbal jokes and trick performances of an exceptionally entertaining nature.
In fact he was as popular as the star performers, attracting and involving a large crowd for some hilarious moments of joy.

In the main hall, Piva were performing some of their well tried and tested routines, with some new hands on board.
This style of music is guaranteed to get us in a seasonal mood and with some audience participation, this is always different from the CD experience.
The rooms were decked out with seasonal Tudor treats - a sugar table with cakes, buns, jellies and delights was a costly thing in those days.
In the Hall, the refectory table was groaning with savoury dishes, pies, breads, eggs, and other finery.  It is good to see such historically connected foods and decorations.
Little Morton will be closing for electrical re-wiring over the winter.  This is the last event of the year.

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Comparing computers

Just for interest, I have taken screen images from my two computers to show the difference between the two versions of X-Plane on each machine.  I have not done this before.
The white and red Piper J3 Cub is on my Pentium i3 computer with 4 processors and a 1MB graphic card.  The yellow Piper J3 Cub is on my Pentium  i7 computer with 12 processors and a 16MB graphic card.
The initial start is at the same airport,  The older computer has 1 screen, so the view is set quite wide for the white and red aircraft.  This sim is running in real time.  The newer machine has 3 screens, though only the middle screen is shown in this screenshot.  The sim is running in zulu-time worldwide (That is GMT fixed time for air traffic which ignores time zones).
At the end of the grass runway, the difference in angle of view on the simulator is very noticeable.  The extra patch in the top left corner of the new machine is a frame rate counter to show how fast or efficiently the simulator is processing the screen images.  That is because I am running this program in test mode to identify potential issues and errors in the software.  The older computer is running a stable version of X-Plane.
The final screenshots are above the airfield.  The display is very similar on both computers and the aircraft handle equally well.
The main difference is that with the older processor, boot up takes about 12 minutes, whilst the newer computer will boot up the program in 2 minutes.

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Improving my computer.

For some years I have been using an old TV for a main computer monitor. This has never been satisfactory since the full screen was always cropped at the edges, but I was used to this.
I have treated myself to a new (but inexpensive) monitor for my machine and it is amazing the difference it makes.  The screen is a perfect fit.
This computer is a Windows 10 machine with an Intel i3 processor and a small graphics card.  It is not fast, but it does all that I expect of it.  I use it for web browsing, photo editing and simulated airport design amongst other things.  It is also used for updating websites and blogs and I have 4 different flight simulators on this system, including X-Plane 11.26 which is the latest stable version of the sim.

The Windows machine is a difficult beast to work with, as updates tend to happen at random and can upset many of my chosen settings. I do get frustrated with the complexity and lack of control of the software on this computer.

My other computer is a 3 monitor Linux Mint "Tara" machine with an Intel i7 processor and a whacking big graphics card.  It is a clean machine with the X-Plane 11.30 flight simulator loaded.  I use this computer for flying my simulated aircraft and using my airport designs.  The system is set to respond like a real aircraft and I prefer flying my Diamond DA40 with its "Glass Cockpit" and Garmin 1000 system aboard. 

The Linux machine is fine.  It updates when I ask it to and nothing will run on it unless I have given permission.  I can install the support software that I need, when I need it. The utility file names and locations are up to me and are unique to my computer, so this makes it a safe and easy machine to use.  It does require a degree of computer coding skills, but there is a very helpful Linux community out there who are willing to lend a helping hand. Oh! and all of the software is password locked.

My laptop is also a Windows 10 machine and I only use it infrequently (once in a couple of months).  It takes 2  hours or more to update every time I switch it on, which is a nuisance.  Microsoft is not a good system for the specialist user.

Thursday, 1 November 2018


 Today we were presented with a box of windfall apples by our friend Robert.  They are always a challenge to prepare, so we sorted them into good and bad bowls.  The bad ones want processing quickly to prevent further decay, the good ones can wait a few days.
 Apart from a few very bad apples, which went straight into the bin, most were in very good condition for windfalls.  Peeled and chopped with a little lemon juice to prevent browning, we soon sorted the bad bowl.
 Care needs to be taken to remove the brown bruised bits to avoid a bitter taste. Only 2 apples showed signs of insect larvae burrows, which was very good.
Bagged and into the freezer, there apples will last a year - that is unless Rosie turns them into Jam or Pies.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

WW1 at Trentham

Today was a venture into the past.  Trentham gardens were hosting a World  War 1 thank you day in collaboration with the First World War Thank You wall. WWII tanks replicas and an ambulance were there as well at a motorbike group from the British Legion. There was a military band a "George Formby" performance and "Winston Churchill" made a brief appearance (at least he was in the first world war).
I was quite amused by the Spitfire flypast, which was a very entertaining event.
The more interesting event for me was the flypast of an Aeronca L-16a which operated as a spotter plane in the Korean War for the USAAF.  This aircraft found its way to the UK and was registered G-BEAF to fly as a civil aircraft.  It had been decaying in a hangar for 25 years and a recent restoration started in 2016 has put it back into flying order.

Friday, 19 October 2018

Out looking at birds

 On our recent visit to the local Wildlife Trust Reserve at Wolesley, I spotted these Honey Fungus fruiting bodies on a dead log. They had almost carpeted the top of the log. There seems to be a lot of fungi about this year.
 Just a short way away were these Shaggy Pholiata.  They are often found around the bases of trees.
 Nearby was some kind of Dung Fungus.  I do not know which one this is, but it appears at a site where Geese and Ducks roost a lot.
 Spotted a Wren hunting for insects in a nearby bush.
Then along came a Greenfinch.  These birds are much less common than they used to be.
On the way home we stopped at the Canalside farm shop and saw some Shaggy Ink Caps in the car park.  They are edible, but also on a cafĂ© car park.

Saturday, 6 October 2018

The Trees are Out

 Tidying the garden was the order of the day.  All of the old plants have now been removed from the greenhouse and cuttings made of choice plants.  I have also germinated several trays of grass seed to extend the lawns at a later date.
 Two semicircular beds have been dug over the last few days to enhance the old tired straight bed at the side of the top lawn.  They are now nearly finished.
 I engaged Alex Mizen, tree surgeon, to remove 3 of the Leylandii at the top of the garden.  This has opened out the prospect and provided more light for the raised beds.  It's good to see professionals at work.
 It is surprising how much Leylandii you can get in the back of a truck!
The stumps were a bit of a trial.  The end one was left tall and pulled down using a block and chain pulley and a bit of brute force.  These trees were buried at the base by a mound of builders rubble and earth.  The next job is to level the ground and recover the holly hedge that has grown out at an angle under the Leylandii.  Glad to be rid of these trees.