Jan 232015
 

In early December 2014 I bought a new lathe, an Axminster AT1628VS. I was then asked to very quickly make two small items as Christmas presents. A small goblet and a box for some silver “straws” (for playing “the short straw”). I have no photos of the completed box but this is the goblet:
zebra wood goblet

Made in Zebra wood, it stands around three inches tall and has a captive ring.

These two commissions meant that I couldn’t remove the old lathe and install the new one as quickly as I would like.
Having (finally) got the new lathe set up between Christmas and New Year:

lathe

I then spent a few days re-designing the rest of the workshop to get my grinder, band saw and bench sander in and usable.

Since then I have managed to turn a total of two items. The first was a snowman, which was an exercise in form rather than a finished piece, getting used to the lathe and skills building with the skew chisel.

snowman

I think the ratio for size overall is OK but either the body needs to be marginally wider or the head thinner (while keeping the hat the same size). The hat on the final version will be blackened with India ink. Whether the glitter stays or not is a different matter. Not sure yet.

The other was a Sierra pen blank that I glued up a number of months ago but never got round to turning.

capenfinish

The blank is (I think) burr walnut and the inclusions have been filled with brass powder and superglue. The finish is 8 layers of superglue. I haven’t sanded it at the time of writing, but so far it’s the best CA finish I have done and I am certainly learning that less is more when applying the CA to the towel to put on the blank!

I will post again when the pen is finished – assuming I don’t screw it completely and end up sanding it off and finishing with friction polish! I really want to crack this CA finish lark!

My next project will be a small oak bowl, ebonised and cast with a pewter ring, an advancement on this piece:

bowl1

bowl2

Which is my favourite bowl so far.

More soon…

Before I go though, check out https://adventuresinturning.wordpress.com – Tom updates regularly and writes great posts!

Jan 232015
 

There’s a fair amount of tech news this week that I fear I just cannot let slide.

Three categories:

  • Winner
  • Loser
  • Wannabes.

Three stories:

  • Tim Cook (Apple) gets a pay rise
  • Blackberry asking for help developing apps
  • Microsoft giving away Windows 10

Can you put the three in the same categories I have? We’ll see:

Winner

Tim Cook. His base salary has gone up to $2m from $1.4m. And, why shouldn’t it? It’s money that Apple has earned. I have no doubt that there will be the critics suggesting that charge less for their products, but why should they? They have proven time and again that consumers are prepared to pay the premium for the product so why should Apple charge less for it?

It’s also his first pay increase in four years. Ok, his total remuneration package was over $9m last year, but if Apple want to reward good performance, good for them!

Loser

Blackberry. Seriously. They are claiming that developers should be “obliged to make their apps available on Blackberry handsets”. They are (according to reports) suggesting that developers and other handset manufacturers were discriminating against Blackberry by not making the apps.

Is this company really that delusional that they would expect Apple to share iMessage with them? iMessage is only available on Apple devices. Another example was Netflix.

Surely it’s up to the developer whether they develop for a particular platform or not? For Blackberry to write to the US Congress demanding that developers are forced to write for the BB platform is simply Dagenham – three stops past barking.

It’s no wonder that Blackberry is in the pan (not just heading for it), is it?

Wannabe

That obviously leaves Microsoft as the wannabe.

They wannabe liked, but with the farce that is Windows 8.1 (yes, I have used it quite extensively, evaluating it for a number of tasks), they may well be clutching at straws.

Congratulations on joining every other OS developer in the world by giving away an update for free, but only for the first year and only if you already own Win 7, 8, 8.1 or Windows Phone. Windows XP does not qualify.

Apple have done this for years with phones and desktops, Google does it for Android, most the linux distros (Ubuntu, Suse, Mint etc) are free, so it’s nothing new.

For Microsoft to do it suggests two possibilities:

  1. They realised how big of a cock-up Windows 8 is and are making reparations.
  2. They are trying to come across as the big friendly OS company.

I would go with 1 as there’s never a time when Microsoft will be seen as friendly. We might as well call Putin our best buddy…

Oh, but they are bringing Cortana (and a “magical moment” with the Hololens headset) to the PC. Whoop-de-f******-do.

Me? I am quite happy as a sheep thanks.

Jan 152015
 

I watch lots of instructional YouTube videos, woodturning, Geocaching, electronics etc. America is the largest producer of instructional videos in the English language, and for the most part the videos are great, well produced and informative. Heck, without YouTube I would still be bashing bits of wood together to make them round. However, I have a couple of quick points:

  • You don’t have to “go ahead and” do something all the frigging time. I have just watched a 12 minute video on turning a deer antler pen. The guy presenting said “go ahead and” 14 times. Yep, more than once per minute.
  • Height is pronounced “height”, not “heighth” or “heigth”. These aren’t even real words. Here is a useful link on pronunciation.
  • It’s a burr, not a burl.
  • It’s a bush, not a bushing.

Ok, the last two can be put down to language differences and pronunciation (like the hard “ch” that Americans use in “chassis”), but the first two are just bloody annoying. Please, for the sake of all things human, stop it!

And breathe….

Jan 142015
 

I stopped smoking in April and started “vaping”. You know the e-cigarettes? Lots of people say “well, you haven’t really given up have you?!”

I can’t be bothered with that argument any more. I feel better, my bank balance is better and, still surprising me – I can smell better.

Unfortunately, the improved sense of smell means that I can smell when other people have smoked. Unfortunately (and I will never mention this to smokers in person) the smell almost makes me gag.

Did I smell that bad?? Really?? I am so sorry!

As a smoker you don’t realise how noxious the smell is. It’s around you all the time so you just get used to it. I suppose it’s like working in a sewage works, after a while you just don’t notice.

9 months since I gave up now, the intention is to stop vaping by April. Hopefully.

I am aware that the long terms effects of vaping aren’t known, it just hasn’t been around that long. Studies (sponsored by opponents of vaping and eCigarettes (aka “the dogooders”)) suggest there’s still formaldehyde produced by vaping. What they don’t mention is that it’s “trace” amounts and then it is only produced when vaping at 90 watts and above. Let’s put that in perspective: standard incandescent light bulbs would typically run at 40 to 60 watts. Yes, it’s the same measurement.

Me? I generally vape at nine watts. Ten on a bad day. I am trying to reduce that and have already changed from 18mg nicotine to 8mg nicotine in my e-liquid. Getting there!

Nov 192014
 

DTG: 20 July 1969 @ 20:18 UTC.

Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin set the first lunar lander on the moon.

DTG: 18 November 2014 @ time irrelevant

BBC News reports that a British led consortium is looking for Ā£500m in crowdfunding to set a robotic probe on the moon in ten years time.


See the differences above? 45 years ago men walked on the moon. Now the scientists are looking for donations to put a box on the moon. Yep, donations. Via KickStarter.

Will the mission go as well as Philae? 30 years planning, 10 years travelling and 55 hours 4 minutes on the comet before it died. Possibly temporarily, I admit, but more likely it’s dead.

Don’t get me wrong here, landing on the comet is a fantastic achievement, but was it worth it for two days? That’s like me flying to Australia for a cyanide pill.

All the money raised by the project will go to funding the mission, and any money left over will be put into a charitable trust whose proceeds will be spent on future space exploration. Mr Iron described it as “a Wellcome Trust for space exploration”.

I am glad about that, what else were you gonna do, develop a new line in pink fluff with the spare money?

Credit to JFK for the title

Nov 182014
 

I am sat in the waiting room of the dentist, waiting for the first of five appointments for a new denture.

Opposite me is a well dressed lady. She has dolly style shoes with a gold attachment, a scarf around her neck and rings on all her fingers. Best bit is the sunglasses on her head that slip while she pretends to read the magazine in her lap. No doubt she is trying to look intelligent as well as posh. The roundness of her face makes her look like the slitheen mayor of Cardiff.

Being where I am, I have to wonder if she is posh, or just pretending. If she had lots of money she wouldn’t be sat on this dentist. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with the surgery, indeed this is one of the best NHS dentists I have ever been to. The fact remains that this location isn’t exactly Harley Street.

Am I being judgemental? Possibly. But this started with a wondering of what she would think of me. Slouched in the seat, head leaning against the wall, jeans and trainers and my work fleece, staring at my smartphone. I bet she thinks I am on Facebook or something. I don’t exactly look the pillar of the community.

I did have this day dream that she speaks down to me in some snotty manner expecting me to bow before her. Instead I stand tall and simply say something like “and yet you dare to judge me simply on the way I am dressed, knowing nothing about me.”

But that’s exactly what I am doing right now isn’t it. Judging someone I don’t know simply on the way they are dressed without knowing a thing about her.

Her daughter is quite the little chubster though…

Oct 132014
 

A report from the BBC suggests that EE think 80% of the TV that people watch is the free-to-air programming.

Firstly, it’s entering a market which is not at all short of choice. Roughly 60% of households now subscribe to some kind of pay-TV service from the likes of BskyB, Virgin Media and BT Vision. But even in these households, EE’s chief executive Olaf Swantee told us, they spend 80% of their time watching free-to-air TV.

When I get home from work the TV is either already on, or I switch it on to “vegetate” for a bit and unwind. During that time I will flick to (generally) the Discovery Channels. How It’s Made, Moonshiners, or re-re-re-repeats of Wheeler Dealers are the consumption of choice.

If we are sat of an evening (which will happen more now that the darker nights, autumn and then winter are arriving) it will generally be one of the Premium Sky Channels to watch the latest of the American dramas – The Strain, Perception, Raising Hope (?) etc, or back to Discovery. At the very worst we’ll reach for the remote and watch something that we have previously recorded.

I really can’t say that (apart from Dr Who, which is mandatory in my house – sometimes three or four times per episode) we watch much on the free-to-air channels.

This is just more proof to me that EE are barking up the wrong tree. They need to be concentrating on their core business – mobile telephony – and getting that to an acceptable standard rather than try and break into an already flooded market. Anyone remember Giff Gaff???

EE are trying to plug a gap where there isn’t a hole and ignoring the gaping one in the quality of their telephone business. Signal is still very poor in some (even urban) areas and I can show you flat spots in major cities such as Portsmouth, Southampton and Winchester. We had to provide a broadband EE device for one of my associates just so that he could get a mobile phone signal at home in Winchester. It didn’t work.

So, come on EE, forget what you’re trying to do and sort the stuff you’re supposed to be doing already.

Oct 092014
 

One of those quick vents. I see lots of people saying things like “It’s my OCD kicking in” or “I have OCD”. I don’t doubt for a second that there are millions around the world that suffer with OCD, I doubt that it’s the average person.

One guy on a forum I am on said “The switch is wobbly. It works perfectly but it’s probably my OCD kicking in.”

Hmm. Wikipedia* says this about OCD:

Obsessiveā€“compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce uneasiness, apprehension, fear or worry (obsessions), repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing the associated anxiety (compulsions), or a combination of such obsessions and compulsions…. Symptoms of the disorder include excessive washing or cleaning, repeated checking, extreme hoarding, preoccupation with sexual, violent or religious thoughts, relationship-related obsessions, aversion to particular numbers and nervous rituals such as opening and closing a door a certain number of times before entering or leaving a room. These symptoms are time-consuming, might result in loss of relationships with others, and often cause severe emotional and financial distress.

Please. don’t blame OCD for you thinking you have a problem with something, just accept you’re a fussy bugger and get it dealt with.

*Yes, I am aware that Wikipedia is considered the root of all evil and should not be quoted in scientific research. I am not a scientist, this isn’t research, it’s a rant and I like Wikipedia. Do you ever read the homepage? I do, daily, because there’s all sorts of useless facts that fascinate me.

Oct 072014
 

On the latest UK Geocaching Podcast (released tonight!) we discuss a suggestion from Bingo The Bounty Hunter.

The suggestion was to give Cache Owners the ability to give a “like” or “favourite” for cache logs that they consider to be “good”.

Although we discussed this in the show I can’t stop thinking about it. I think it’s a great idea. Those Geocachers that make the effort, recognise how much effort goes into hiding a geocache and give a great log could get “karma” from the CO. The content of the log would be up to the CO’s judgement, it could be a good or funny story, a long description of how the finder got on with the adventure, or it could be a cacher offering constructive advice on how to improve the hide (yes, it does happen!)

The big thing for me is that COs would only be able to “like” or “favourite” a log. No “Dislike” or marking down of a log that they don’t like.

Have a listen to the show when it’s released, we would really like to hear what you guys think of this idea.

Oct 052014
 

I was finally in the middle of updating my iPad to iOS 8 last night. I am still not sure it was a good idea, time will tell.

I was settled in at the computer to watch the re-scheduled GeoSnippits Reboot Podcast, giving Miss Amy some hassle on Facebook when, somehow, it was decided that Mark (Oh Beep!) and I would be guesting on the show. Quite how it happened I am not really sure, but, the show started and then a few minutes in we were on air!

Mildly nervous at this point – I had only been “on air” once when Mark and I (at 20 seconds notice) decided to record episode 3 of the Chasing Smilies Podcast live. Oh yeah, we started a new podcast! Chasing Smilies is all (well, mostly) about Geocaching, but it’s a show for the grown ups. We don’t worry about the occasional expletive and if things go a little awry, meh. Recording gets done, chop the start and the finish, add some music and away we go.

So, back to GSRP. IT WAS A BLAST! Mark had to disappear early but I was there until the end of the recording. Thanks Mr Andy and Miss Amy for allowing me to be part of your awesome show!