Not Yet Dead

Looking at the sad lack of posts on this here site, one could be forgiven for thinking that I have shuffled off this mortal coil.

But that’s not the case.

Things have been happening, I’ve just not bothered mentioning them here.

So what have I been up to?

Well, my garage had an attempted break-in – as I mentioned a couple of posts ago  and I have finally got round to ordering the new door, which should hopefully be fitted in a couple of weeks. I’m really hoping to be able to get my bike out before this mild weather disappears.  Talking of bikes, a couple of us are thinking of doing this years’ Ring Of Red … weather permitting, of course. Feel free to join us if you can. And if you want to.

The mutt continues to dominate the homestead, in as much as we dote on her like a new baby. She’s getting better all the time and is fairly obedient, but develops selective hearing sometimes when she sees another dog and wants to play. Anyone who remembers the video of Fenton will easily be able to visualise me chasing her across the fields, yelling at the top of my voice. Jesus Christ!

I went to the Hamfest up in Newark at the end of September. That was most enjoyable. And I showed great restraint in spending only a ton. Most of that went on a piece of kit called a Weak Signal Propagation Reporter, which transmits a very low power signal that can be picked up by other stations around the world and reported back, thereby giving an idea of how well your aerial is working.  It’s early days and I’ve only tested one of my antennas, but I must say that I’m quite chuffed with the results from my 20 metre antenna¦ which is just a piece of wire strung up in the loft. Especially considering the lack of sunspot activity at the moment.

And, despite it initially looking like it had all gone quite smoothly, since moving my site to a new host, I found that I’ve not been receiving email notifications for any comments that get left.  I cannot for the life of me figure out why, and neither can the Support Desk of my new provider. They have effectively admitted as much and have left it with me. I have spent hours Googling and trying different things, all to no avail. I’m sure that when I do figure it out, it’ll probably be a D’oh! moment, as it is bound to be something simple. Really simple. Bound to be.

And on top of that, the current Mrs Masher decided we should start watching Designated Survivor on Netflix  so there’s three hours gone each evening. Got to admit, it’s bloody good though.

So, there you go: all caught up.

Wasn’t worth the wait really, was it?

Hey! Guess what day it is tomorrow!

Yep, it’s that time of year again.

Twenty-eight days of posts.

Every time I do this self-imposed challenge, I think it’s going to be incredibly difficult, but ultimately, it generally turns out to be easier than I’d thought it would be.

Hopefully, this year will be the same because, at the moment, the task ahead of me looks nothing short of impossible.

I’ve tried to be clever (yes, I know that doesn’t suit me) and plan ahead a little: come up with a few ideas to write about.

So far, I have three.

Three.

It doesn’t bode well.

But I see that my usual compatriots haven’t let me down and are joining me once again during this period of nonsense. French Dave and Bren of The Valleys will be posting their very own rubbish during this time and I urge you strongly to support them (remember, we don’t do this for charity).

Since I started this back in nineteen filthy-lie – and now in it’s 11th year – the February Blogathon has become an internet sensation, attracting over one extra poster and sometimes commentors that can number up to half a dozen at any one time. Millions of people completely pass it by on a daily basis, making it their number one site to avoid each day.

Make sure you bookmark this page now… to avoid you stumbling on it by accident.

Pinchy Punchy

IWDIt’s the first day of the month…y.

And that’s the end of another Blogathon.

I’d like to say it gets easier each year. But it doesn’t.

On the other hand though, I don’t think it’s getting any harder, either ( a sign of age, methinks).

In fact, I found writing all twenty-nine posts to be relatively easy. I was quite regimented about it though, and made a point of sitting down each night to write the following day’s post. That’s why so many of them start with the words “Yesterday, I was…”

Once again, I’d like to thank Bren and Dave
for keeping me company throughout and for putting themselves through this pain – something they really don’t have to do.

I’d like to thank those who commented, for letting me know that there is at least a couple of people out there reading this drivel.

Also, a big thank you to me, for believing in me and not letting me give up when the going got tough.

I’ll go now, as this is starting to sound like an acceptance speech.

Blog meet!

shaking-handsI had a busy day yesterday.

I changed the ball valve in the water tank in the loft, as it was continually running. Not quickly, but enough to be annoying.

I also changed the valve in the toilet cistern, as that had stopped closing correctly and was causing the overflow to permanently drip.

I fixed the Sat Nav in the car. Not true actually. But I spent quite a while on it before figuring out what the problem was.

And I cleaned the car… because it needed doing. Not only do the birds in my tree drop their load on it, but so do the ones in the car park at work.

I went round my sister’s, as it was my niece’s birthday.

And then I met up with Dave -AKA Kennamatic – he of uptheworks fame. And what a splendid fellow he is!

We met in a pub in Harpenden and a very pleasant couple of hours passed, as we put the world to rights over a couple of pints of shandy and a packet of crisps.

Because that’s the way we roll.

Despite never having met before, we both knew each other pretty well, having read each other’s blogs for as long as I can remember. So, for me, it wasn’t like meeting a stranger, but rather a friend I’ve just never met.

But I do hope that we do so again, one day.

Oh, and his write up of this meeting is so much better than mine!

Oh dear

Well, it’s nearly February already (soon be Christmas) and, of course, that brings with it my self-imposed annual Blogathon thing.

This will be the tenth year that I have done this, and in that time it has become an internet sensation, with literally a couple of others joining me in the challenge each year.

Sometimes.

And as this year is a milestone tenth year, I thought I might do something different: have all the posts follow a theme or do each post in the nude. Or something.

But, I haven’t.

I’ve approached this year’s event, exactly the same as I have done for the past nine years – with no preparation whatsoever.

Well, it’s always worked out OK.

Sort of.

And of course, this year is a leap year, so you’ll be spoilt with a whole extra post.

And I’m pleased to say that Young Mr Jones has picked up the gauntlet and will be joining me throughout, with his own inimitable posts – each of which will financially benefit  a worthy cause. Top fellow!

At this late stage, I don’t know if anyone else will be joining us, but as usual, the blogathon is open to all.

Anyway, as with Bren, I apologise profusely for what you are about to read.

Good luck.

I’m back

Not that I’ve actually been away. But I just don’t seem to have found the time or inclination to write anything here. For ages.

I’ve been working in England for the past few weeks.  All of it, it seems.

From Carlisle in the north-west to Newcastle in the north-east to Bristol in the west and Great Yarmouth in the east… and lots of bits inbetween.

This week I shall be starting off in Canterbury in Kent and then onto… well, who knows where.

England, probably.

As you can gather, much of my time is spent on the road, travelling from site to site and I’ve stayed in more Premier Inns in the past weeks than Lenny Henry is ever likely to in his life.

Drive. Work. Drive. Sleep. Drive. Work. Drive. Sleep. Drive… well, you get the picture.  And of course, that doesn’t leave much time for blogging. It also doesn’t give much material to write about, hence the dearth of posts recently.

And so I’m going to make a bit more effort, I have decided, and post a bit more – even if I have nothing of interest to say – because I seem to have lost the writing habit and I want to get it back.

Prepare yourselves for drivel.

Pinch Punch…

pinchypunchyWell, that’s that over and done with. Phew!

It was hard going sometimes, but overall – as it usually is – I found it to be not too bad at all.

I’d like to thank Bren and Dave for accompanying me again and I’d like to thank you lot for reading this drivel wot I write.

Next year will be my tenth year of doing this self-inflicted, February pain… and that’s a sort of anniversary. As such, I was thinking I may do something to make it special. But I’m not sure what.

Maybe I’ll set a theme. Maybe I’ll write each post naked. Maybe I’ll invite some celebrity guests.

Most probably, I’ll do nothing. But, I’m always open to suggestions, so, ideas on a postcard please to:

I Haven’t Got A Bloody Clue
Masher Dot TV
Blogland
BL0 G3R

Thank you.

Well…

… here we are again: First of February.

Blimey, that sneaked up on me somewhat quicker than I expected!

Of course, it has now become a bit of a tradition on this blog – and on a couple of others, I’m pleased to say – that this day now marks the start of the February Blogathon, as is evidenced by my special February header at the top of this page.

To be honest, having done this for the past 8 years, I had considered not bothering this year, but then some bastard kind soul reminded me that it’s my duty to entertain the internets.

Apparently.

Anyway, I’ve just turned Ola over (and by that, I mean my signed Ola Jordan Calendar and not that I have just rolled her over onto her belly (oh, in your dreams, Masher, in your dreams – Ed.)) and can see that luckily it’s not a leap year. So that’s good: only 27 more posts to do.

Hurrah!

Hang on to your hats: it’s going to be a hell of a ride! *

*This isn’t necessarily true.
At all.

It’s been quiet around these parts of late

pingdom test vidaDunno what it is about this time of year, but my blogging mojo always seems to take a bit of a knock.

Having said that, there hasn’t been a great deal for me to write about. Not that that has ever stopped me before. Many a time I’ve managed to take the most mundane, un-newsworthy news item and bore the pants off you with it.

And it’s exactly the same today.

Something exciting though: I’ve changed my hosting provider.

OK, it’s probably not very exciting to you, but it is to me.

The mob I have been with for the past three years have been absolutely fine. No problems with them whatsoever.

Until last week, when they sent me a renewal notice.  “How much?!” I yelled at the three-figure sum printed at the bottom of the invoice in an unassuming and very mild-mannered font.

“Oh, and there’s VAT to be added too! Well, I ain’t fucking paying that much!” I said.

“Excuse my French”, I added, to no-one in particular.

And so, I went off in search of another provider. After much Googling and review reading I settled on a British company that had excellent reviews and offered a reasonable package for a very reasonable price.

All the back-end stuff has been completed over the past couple of days – they even did most of that for me as part of the service – and then, last night,  after some extensive testing, I pointed the domain toward their nameservers and went to bed.

I awoke this morning to find that everything seems to have gone swimmingly, with my site(s) and emails all transferring seamlessly onto their servers.

As a bonus, the site seems to load a bit quicker too. Well, it does to me. A possible benefit of being hosted on “cloudservers”, maybe?

Right, now all that’s in place, I’d better get writing again.

 

 

It’s been a while

typewriterThis humble website – or at least, a much earlier version of it – started way back in the year 2000.

I bought the .co.uk domain name in July of that year, a full six months after the death and destruction promised by Y2K, failed to produce even a damp squib.

Back then, having bought one,  I had no idea of what I actually wanted with a website, and so it became a mish-mash of jokes, stories, photographs and horrible colours that were painful on the eye.

I suppose the transformation to what it is now, started in early 2001 when I wrote my first blog post.  Back then, I didn’t use any proper blogging tools (I think Blogger.com was still in it’s infancy), and mainly wrote all the text in either Frontpage or as straight HTML.

This was all rather cumbersome and time-consuming, and so I revamped the site a short while later  (about 2003, I think), switching to the now very popular Blogger platform.

In late 2006, I sold the domain name to the BBC for a hefty sum and bought the .tv one that I currently use. It seemed appropriate to give the site another revamp and so I then switched to the more versatile – but more work required –  Wordpress platform, with the site going live in November of that year.

And that brings us up to today.

So, what is the actual point of this post?  I hear you ask. Well, I saw this on Troubled Diva’s site the other day and wondered whether I qualified. Unfortunately, I don’t, as most of my archives are MIA, although the waybackmachine does give access to some of my early pages such as this.

But, as far as I’m concerned, this means that I’m up there in the top 20 of the earliest UK bloggers who are still active.

That’s kinda worrying.

In a funk

It has been pointed out to me that this site is suffering from a paucity of recent posts.

This is something I am well aware of.

Problem is, I seem to have got myself into a bit of a can’t-be-arsed funk.

It started some weeks back: every year – for quite a while now – I have sent out, with my Christmas cards, one of those annoying round robin type newsletters… you know, the ones that people really hate. This year, I just couldn’t be bothered.  But then, I thought to myself “C’mon, you’ve done this for years now. You’ve set a precedent. People expect it of you now. It’ll be fine once you get going.”

And so I sat, in my hotel room, in front of my laptop and stared at it for ten minutes, before thinking “Nope, can’t be arsed”. Instead, I put the kettle on and watched another episode of Dad’s Army.

The same has happened with other things: I haven’t done any Geocaching for ages; I don’t feel my enthusiasm for amateur radio has actually dwindled, but I don’t seem to be playing with it so much at the moment and I have several electronic projects languishing in a state of semi-built-ness. The new kitchen – which I said I would get finished straight after Christmas – looks very similar to how it looked before the festive break.

And, of course, this blog has suffered commensurately.

Not looking good for February, is it?  At the moment, I think forward toward my self-imposed writing marathon, and all I feel is “Meh”.  I really can’t see it happening. But then, maybe I need to force myself to do it. Certainly, in past years, it has re-kindled my enjoyment of writing crap for you both to read.

We’ll see.

 

 

All change

I’ve done a bit of a revamp. As you can see.

If you remember, in the top left hand corner, I had a Polaroid image that would change each time you visited the site.

Well, about a week ago, apropos of nothing, it stopped working. And I couldn’t figure out why.  The images were in the correct folder and the code that drove the thing hadn’t changed and was still correct – as far as I could see… I’m no PHP expert – but it had just stopped.

Maybe my host had made some changes that now disallowed those type of scripts?

Either way, I realised that I’d had that same layout for the past five and a half years and perhaps it was time for a change, even though I really liked the old design.

I’ve opted for something quite simple and easy to maintain. I still need to play around with it and tweak it a bit, but overall I’m pretty pleased with it.

What d’ya fink?

La Blogathon Denoument

How remiss of me!

We are now well into March and the dark winter nights are seemingly far behind us. The lark is on the wing, snowdrops and daffodils are starting to appear and the first Jehovas of Spring have been round, knocking on my door.

So yes, here we are, well into the mad month of March (soon be Christmas) and I haven’t yet mentioned the February Blogathon – my own little self-imposed blogging marathon that I set myself each year, but in which I am now ably supported by some others.

So, how was it? Well, I think it went OK. Yes, I struggled with some posts – and I think it showed! – but all in all, it wasn’t too difficult. And it had the beneficial effect of getting my blogging juices flowing again – I have several ideas lined up at the moment. The current paucity of posts is purely down to me working away from home and having bugger all time and very little internet access at the moment.

I’d like to thank and congratulate both Bren and Graham for joining me in my quest and for making it look so easy. But, commiserations to Dave, who sadly fell half-way through, after such a promising start. However, his brilliant poem, right at the beginning, more than made up for it.

But also, thanks to you, my lovely readers (oh god, I’ve gone all Vanessa Feltz now – though it probably needs some alliteration to be truly Feltzian)… thanks to you, my er, radiant readers, for your comments. Writing this crap is hard enough, but knowing someone out there is actually reading it, worries me helps a lot.

And next year’s will be bigger and better than ever… if Dave can be arsed to see it through to the end! 🙂

Why, oh why, oh why…

(This probably works better if you read it in a Geordie accent)

It’s Day 1 in the Big Blogger house, and Masher is seated in front of his computer.

His chin rests in his hands as he stares at his computer screen, waiting for inspiration.

He hasn’t moved for two hours now and it looks like… no, no, wait, he’s started to slowly type something.

It’s a letter T, followed by an H and then an E. He’s typed the word THE.

And he’s quickly followed that up with LAST.

Oh, this is marvellous. It took him a long time to get going, but now he’s gone straight in with the definite article – a risky proposition some might say, but then he’s thrown caution to the wind and  dropped an adjective in there rather than following it up with a noun. Fantastic stuff.

T. I. M. E.

TIME. He’s written “THE LAST TIME”. And now… no, hold on, he’s stopped again… ahh, no man, he’s backspaced through it all and is once again staring at a blank screen. Bloody shame, he was going so well. His head is in his hands again.

Well, it looks like it’s going to be a long day – and maybe a long month – and so, whilst we wait, we’d like to take you over to this fantastic piece of prose written by Dave.

Blog-a-day – Pinch Punch…

… the first of the month.

No returns.

So, here we are at the start of another February blogathon. Unbelievably, this will be the sixth (maybe seventh, I’m not sure) year that I have done this.

For the past couple of years, my mate Graham has kept me company over at wrightweb. Which is nice.

This year though, we have two more bloggers joining us: Brennig and Dave. The blogathon has literally doubled in numbers this year!

I’m not sure what actually constitutes an internet phenomenon, but I think we may be close.

Now, I’m not sure about the others, but I can state quite categorically that – as per usual – I haven’t done any prep work for this year’s challenge. I have no posts stockpiled in readiness and only a few ideas as to what I can write here over the next 28 days.  So, be afraid.

Or, more likely, bored.

I see Dave has referred to the challenge as Masher’s Marathon. Of course, we all know that Marathon was Americanised many years ago.

However, I think calling it Masher’s Snickers would attract the wrong sort of reader.

It’s the end of the year, as we know it

Allegedly.

In order to celebrate the New Year and indeed, the new decade, I thought I’d have a revamp of the website.

I perused many different templates before deciding that I actually quite like the one I’ve got. So, I’ve just given it a bit of a facelift.

This latest version also supports widgets… should I ever decide that I want to install one. Or even find out what they are.

It’s still needs a bit of tweaking though. I’ll probably make it a New Year resolution to finish it before the end of 2010!

I’ve tested it in Internet Explorer 8 and the latest versions of Firefox, Opera, Chrome and Safari and all seems to work fine. In IE 6 though, for some reason the post body starts halfway down the page. I can’t be bothered to fix that though, so if you’re running an old version you’ll need to upgrade.

And I’ll take this opportunity to wish you both a Happy New Year.

Aaaaand… relax

Well, another monthly blogathon over.

That wasn’t too bad, was it?  Was it?   Oh, it was?  OK, I’ll try harder next year.

In truth, this year’s attempt didn’t seem as difficult as in previous years. Okay, some of my posts may not be going down in blogging history for literary excellence – oh, alright, none of the posts then – but I never really struggled for something to bore you with. And I didn’t even take a holiday half way through!

I’d like to thank Mick and Graham for taking the decision (off their own backs – no press-gang tactics from me) to join me in my challenge. Valiant efforts chaps. Well done.

Same time next year then.

Here we go again

Well, it’s now February: the month where I traditionally – well, for the last couple of years, at least – carry out my self-imposed challenge of posting a blog entry every day for the whole month.

You may have noticed the lack of posts from me over the past couple of weeks and some of you may even think that I have been saving myself up: storing interesting posts for use during my little marathon.  But that truly isn’t the case.  I just dried up. Nothing exciting to write about and nothing I could even be bothered to write about. It happens.

Of course, that doesn’t bode well for the next 27 days, does it?

You can probably expect some pretty banal entries.

Yes, even more than usual.

Whodaman?

In keeping with my New Year semi-resolution (I still haven’t done my tax return!), I have finally got round to updating my version of WordPress – the engine that powers this little voyeuristic look into my life.

WordPress have released many updates since I first installed it and I kept meaning to update it, but… well… in truth, I’ve been scared to. Having to backup the mysql database and then overwriting everything: [shudder]fraught with danger it is.

But it needed doing, so I thought there must be an easier way to do it. And there is. And it took me just five mins.

So, for you WordPress users out there (the rest of you may as well go make a cup of tea or something) here’s how I did it – just in case you’re interested.

Firstly, I downloaded the WordPress Database Backup plugin from Austin Matzko. Then installed and activated it.

Then I backed up my database… just in case.

Next, I downloaded the Instant Upgrade plugin by Alex Gunsche and installed and activated it.

When run, this marvellous little piece of software upgraded everything to the latest version in about 30 seconds flat!

True, there was a slight worry straight after, when all my posts had disappeared, but then WordPress itself updated the database and normality was returned.

Well, what counts for normal around here, was returned.

So, there you go: piece of pie.

Now, I keep thinking about updating my theme…

The way we were

Y’know what it’s like when you see old photo’s of yourself: “Arrgh! Look at my hair! Oh my God! That’s never me… in a cardigan!” Well, it can be the same with websites.

The WayBack Machine at Internet Archive has several copies of the Masher website stored on its servers, dating back to 2001. It’s interesting to see how the site slowly evolved into the award-winning site you see before you today.

This is the earliest snapshot it has of the site closest to it’s current format – i.e. when I decided to make blogging the main part of the site and all the rest secondary. I was surprised to see that I made the decision to go that way, as far back as 2003.

This one is from July 2001. With film reviews, weather forecasts and jokes, it was a far more eclectic site than what we have today. I liked it at the time, but looking back at it now, it was horrible. And a lot of work.

The WayBack Machine can sometimes be quite slow, and often has missing images, but it gives a reasonable representation of the web from way-back-when, and can often invoke feelings of nostalgia.

Or, in my case, nausea.

Normal service has been resumed

Well, here we are with the final post of this month… Blog-a-day month.

It’s strange, but as in recent years, although it’s a relief to get to the end of the month, it’s also quite difficult to stop posting. I have to force myself not to continue posting daily for the first week in March, and just go back to posting a few times a week.

If I didn’t – like Graham Norton – I’d suffer from over-exposure, and you’d both get bored and start reading elsewhere.

It’s possible to have too much of a good thing, y’know.

And as it’s a dull post, I’ll leave you with a little joke that keeps being emailed to me, so it must be funny:

A young woman had been taking golf lessons.

She had just started playing her first round of golf when she suffered a bee sting.

The pain was so intense that she decided to return to the clubhouse for help.

Her golf pro saw her come into the clubhouse and asked, “Why are you back so early? What’s wrong?”

“I was stung by a bee,” she said.

“Where,” he asked.

“Between the first and second hole,” she replied.

He nodded knowingly and said,

“Your stance is too wide.”

Downtime

OK, not much of a post, but I’m hoping you guys might be able to help me out a little.

Sometimes I find I am unable to access this site. It only lasts for a few minutes, but during that time all I get is a Page Unavailable message. Then it comes back, just like nothing has happened.

It happens randomly – I cannot pin it down to a time or anything. And it is very annoying.

I have been in touch with my hosting company, who deny that there is any problem. They say the issue would most likely be with my ISP (Virgin)… “possibly with it’s peering”… but I cannot see how that would be. I don’t seem to have this problem accessing any other sites. And it only seems to have started since I moved to this domain (I changed hosting companies at the same time).

So, I’d appreciate knowing if any of you have experienced similar problems with my site. A comment or an email giving a yay or nay would/could be very helpful.

Ta muchly.

Pinch punch

February already! Soon be Christmas.

Now, for some reason, a couple of years ago, I set myself the challenge of making a post to this site, everyday for the month of February. I managed it, but it really wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be, and I decided never to do it again.

So, last year, I did it again.

And guess what: I’m gonna have another go this year.

Already, I have no idea what I’m gonna write about. I’m already predicting that I’ll dry up less than two weeks in.

A post a day.
Every day.
Including weekends.
For the whole month.
And this year’s a Leap Year.

Oh God.

Felicitations

I’ve just realised that it’s been a year now that masher.tv/archive has been up and running.

Yay! Happy Birthday me. Er… it.

Consequently, it’s also been a year since the BBC bought my old masher.co.uk name and still they have done bugger all with it. Maybe they are still buried under the torrent of spam that it used to receive! Anyway, I’m sure that when they do finally get round to using it, the associated website will be somewhat marvellous. In true Beeb Beeb Ceeb style. I’m still intrigued to know what their plans for it are, though.

But, hark at me: a fine one to talk. Despite my promises a year ago, I haven’t updated this site with any of the old content.

I’ll get on to it straightaway.

But don’t hold your breath.

The Daily Post

Last year, on the old site, I set myself the task of posting an entry on the blog, everyday for the month of February. It wasn’t easy, I’ll readily admit.

And so this year, I have decided to do the same. I daresay, it will be even harder now that I’m unemployed and there isn’t much going on in my life. But I’ll give it a go anyway. I apologise now if it gets very dull. Very quickly.
I may even drag up a few posts from the old site and ‘recycle’ them, so there may be the occasional feeling of deja vu.

… in with the new

Blimey, it all happened a lot quicker than I was expecting.

Here’s the new site…. needs some work on it yet – I have plenty of tinkering to do.

Gotta try get my head round PHP now as most of this template is written in it.

I’ll be adding more pages, to get it back to how it was(ish), over the coming weeks… and I may yet change the layout altogether. We’ll see.

I’ve tried importing all my old posts, but it ain’t working. Oh well.

Gotta go now, I have a headache.