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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Mark Charsley's LiveJournal:

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Saturday, June 25th, 2016
10:19 pm
One last flickering hope
There's still a slim hope. The referendum wasn't legally binding: the House of Commons still need to vote to exit the EU.

Please write to your MP (e.g. with https://www.writetothem.com ), especially if
a) your area voted to remain (use http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-32810887 to find out), in which case your could argue that your MP should prioritise the views of their constituents, over the views of the country and/or
b) your MP is pro-EU (use http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-35616946 to find out) in which case they might be persuaded to vote with their conscience.
Friday, May 6th, 2016
7:37 pm
All these unwanted Windows 10 installations...
Our two reamining windows 7 hold out machines have nothing except a little notification in the system tray. There's never been any nag screens while presenting weather on TV, or forced installations while livestreaming a computer game over the internet (although to be fair, there been no weather presenting or livestreaming at all).

Have I somehow gained the respect of Microsoft itself or... no. Please no. Please tell me that people aren't still regularly using admin user accounts on windows?
Monday, October 19th, 2015
10:03 pm
The last few years' work is finally coming together
Did have a long post detailing our travails over the last 3 years, but livejournal just ate it.

So tl;dr we've finally bought a house (in Horsham with lovely garden, good schools nearby) after selling our house in Epping (poor garden, awful secondary schools nearby) a few months ago. Need to replace bathroom and kitchen before we move in, so we're still going to be in the flat we've been renting for the last year (due to primary-school related reasons) until at least Christmas.

Sorry for being rubbish and not seeing virtually any of you for almost 3 years, but various combinations of
a) baby/toddler/almost pre-schooler
b) needing a tidy house with no-one in it most weekends for over a year
c) living in a flat with no spare rooms
really weren't compatible with a social life :-(

Hopefully start seeing people again and showing off lovely new house in 2016...

It's been a hideously expensive few years, but it's finally beginning to pay off.
Saturday, February 21st, 2015
10:38 pm
Frank: dunno what I expected but it wasn't this
Watched Frank on the way to work last week. I don't know much about Frank Sidebottom other than bugshaw used to like him, and the album of his I copied for her a couple of decades ago didn't appeal to my 19-year-old taste. But he was a comedian as well as a musician, so I expected Frank to be amusing: probably in a wacky, "look at his silly head mask" taking the mick out of the 90's sort of way.

Instead I got a mildly depressing story that can be roughly summed up as "trying to use mentally ill people's coping strategies to achieve commercial success is unlikely to end well".
Thursday, December 25th, 2014
12:33 pm
Merry Christmas everybody!
Sorry we've been crap with Christmas cards this year, but moving house/flat kind of ate our time. We'll send out our new address in a couple of days when they're less likely to be lost in a deluge of happy Christmas posts like this :-)
Sunday, October 5th, 2014
8:50 am
Last night's doctor who was a flippin' embarrassment.
As sielis said, "that was worse than Spock's Brain". I'm struggling to think of anything I've seen or read where the science was worse.
Monday, July 28th, 2014
10:08 pm
A game of thrones
Having heard that the tv series is going to soon overtake the books, I've started watching the former. If I'm going to be spoilered by a bunch of teevee watchers, I may as well jkoin them.

Got to a few bits (e.g. commander Mormont being whatsisface's father) and thought "I don't remember that". Then I tried working out how long it had been since I actually read the earlier books. The earliest record amazon has of my ordering it was a feast for crows in 2005. And I'd read the earlier books before that came out. So yes, I suppose I should expect to have the odd plot point or two fade away after a decade or more...
Wednesday, February 12th, 2014
6:44 pm
so why wouldn't this work?
12 May 2014

Dear Microsoft

12 years ago I bought an os from you, which has been plagued by a never ending series of security problems. I've given you plenty of time to fix the problems, but 12 years on I read in the press that there some more problems have shown up, and you have given up trying to fix them. As one of the fundamental aspects of an is us to stop random computers on the internet from stealing my data, I have no choice but to view your os as not fit for purpose, and I would like a full refund.

Yours faithfully

Friday, January 31st, 2014
7:05 pm
My tax affairs are not complicated. All my income is PAYE, I receive no interest from investments (thanks to an offset mortgage). I have a few P11D expenses, and a few charity payments: both just breaking into the 3-figure range. You would have thus thought that my tax return would be simple (it is) and that any corrections would be no more than a hundred quid or so.

No this time last year I had to find 3 grand in a hurry: 12 quid above the "we'll take it out your tax code limit. Thank god for offset mortgages. This year I got 2 grand back. How can accountants (whose sole purpose is to make sure the right amount if tax gets paid) be so bad at their jobs. You don't get train drivers dropping you off at Glasgow when they were meant to be taking you to Edinburgh. You don't get surgeons removing a hand when they were meant to be taking off a finger.

Admittedly quantlab did outsource their uk payroll to a bunch of lowest-bid monkeys, but by all accounts Google's not much better.
Friday, December 20th, 2013
10:51 pm
10 games that stayed with me
See my Google+ post

Not quite sure how to split my posts between LJ and G+, or whether at least for public posts, there's an automatic way to do it. For the time being this style post will have to do...
Saturday, November 30th, 2013
8:02 am
Got a joke after 35 years
It finally occurred to me the other day that when Basil Brush referred to "dirty Gerty from number thirty", it's possible that he wasn't referring to a lack of personal hygiene...
Thursday, October 24th, 2013
6:48 pm
please welcome Faye Harriet Charsley
2013 - 17lb 14oz. Mum and baby doing fine.
Monday, October 21st, 2013
8:11 pm
I don't know whether to curse our luck or bless it
tl;dr our boiler died

Sielis thought the boiler smelt funny, so we called in the Gas Board to check. No gas or CO leak in the room, but it wasn't burning at all cleanly (and they reckon there was plenty of CO going up the chimney), and it was cut off. Thinking about it, it had been a few years since anyone had looked at it. So we're having a new boiler put in: 2+ grand that we didn't really want to pay. Annoyingly the old boiler was so ludicrously inefficient, that the new one will probably pay for itself in a few years, but we're not intending to be here that long. Still it might help sell the house I suppose.

So boo for unexpected expenses, but yay for
- not dying of CO poisoning
- the weather being surprisingly mild for October
- this happening before the baby arrives
- this happening when the rainy day fund had built up to a level to cope with the shock

This post brought to you by the "Get your boiler serviced regularly!" marketing board.
Friday, August 16th, 2013
6:42 pm
oh crap
There's a chap at work who's the spitting image of an acquaintance at college. Doing the maths it's just possible that the chap could be the acquaintance's son. I feel old.
Saturday, August 10th, 2013
9:50 pm
Nessun Dorma (in our house, in November at any rate)
It occurred to me that we never actually got around to telling most folks, what with one thing and another, so... Arianne's gaining a sibling in early November.
Wednesday, August 7th, 2013
10:29 pm
I had my first cornetto today
When they first came out in this country, they cost more than my entire weekly income (I was about 7). Over the years they've come down in relative price until they're now a free snack I can get from the company freezer. So I finally had one.

Quite frankly if I'd spent my entire weekly income on one at any point in my life, I'd have been bitterly disappointed.
Wednesday, July 24th, 2013
8:11 pm
A plague on both your houses
UP until recently we've been quite happy with our monthly internet related outgoings. A friends and family rate with O2 broadband thanks to Nick and a good package on lovefilm giving us all the DVDs, BluRays and console games we needed.

THe at the beginning of the month it went wrong: O2 (in the process of being sold to Sky) cocked up their routing so that Lovefilm streaming (a direct competitor to Sky) stopped working. It took a fair amount of time on both helplines to admit that there was a problem and that it was between O2 and Lovefilm. While they sepnt 2 weeks fixing it, I was told
a) my friends and family rate with O2 had expired and I would start paying more next month and
b) lovefilm were stopping their games rental business.

So we're now happily with BT Infinity and blockbuster.
Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013
10:25 pm
The Internship
WE had a office-event today seeing The Internship - an utterly formulaic "arrogant clever good looking team being beaten by a team of underdogs" movie. It was at least funnier than the trailer had led me to expect. While some aspects were a little inaccurate:
- I'm almost certain that we don't treat internships as stupid Apprentice-style contests
- we certainly don't have helplines telling people how to use gmail
the offices they show are real google offices - albeit in a specially choosing the most photogenic spots kind of way. Much like Inspector Morse spent more time around Christchurch and Magdelen than he did around say St. Catherines.

So if you're bored or in desperate need of some mild laughs, then watch the film and see the sort of place where I work now. But quite frankly unless you're desperate, I'd advise waiting for the DVD

While on the subject of films, here's a potted review based on my transatlantic flight's viewing:
- A good day to Die Hard. Bloody awful: McClane and his son single-handedly save the world from Russian nuclear terrorists. A complete waste of 2 hours
- Hansel and Gretel. Very adequate: two leathered-up siblings with gadgets fight witches in Middle Ages. Nthing wrong with it, but nothing really right either
- Jack Reacher. Quite a good who-dunnnit, if you can live with the anti-government, anti-tax Mary Jane "Isn't he wonderful? He doesn't pay taxes you know." main character
- Cloud Atlas. Very pretty, with storylines spread over centuries but is a bit on the "full of sound and fury, signifiying nothing" side. It wasn't nearly as profound as I suspect it thought it was.
- Django Unchained: fairly violent, occasionally very funny and saturated with the N word. Definitely worth watching.
Tuesday, June 18th, 2013
8:36 pm
Playing the 'shocks
After playing Bioshock Infinite, I thought it would be interesting to play through the other 'shocks:
- Bioshock. Stil readily available albeit as a surprisingly unreduced price
- System Shock 2 (newly available on gog.com)
- System Shock 1 (free at http://www.systemshock.org)

Bioshock 1 still cuts the mustard graphically. SS2 requires a fair amount of mods to look even half-decent. SS1 looks so crap that you will probably only be able to play it if you possess the rose-tinted spectacles of nostalgia

It is amazing how many aspects of the games have been there since the beginning (19 years ago). And its noticeable that BSI is the most different

- In SS1, as stuff you just had to destroy to unlock doors. Nothing bad happened if they see you
- in SS2, summoned hordes of bad-guys if they saw you for more than a few seconds. Could be disabled by hacking a security terminal nearby
- in BS, summoned hordes of bad-guys if they saw you for more than a few seconds. Could be disabled by pulling a disable switch nearby.
- not in BSI

Audio logs
- Pretty much identical in all 4 games

Game setting
- SS1 emerge into a world that has gone horribly wrong while you were in a healing coma. Bad guy regularly threatens you over loudspeakers
- SS2 emerge into a world that has gone horribly wrong while you were in a healing coma. Two opposing bad guys regularly threaten you and each other over loudspeakers. Bit of a plot-twist about 1/3 of the way through
- BS emerge into a world that has gone horribly wrong while you were on the surface. Two opposing bad guys regularly threaten you and each other over loudspeakers. Very impressive plot-twist about 2/3 of the way through
- BSI emerge into a lovely - if you're a white rich male - world, and cause it to go horrible wrong. Bad guy regularly threatens you over loudspeakers. Plot goes very weird right at the end, with a twist tangled up inside.

Alternate ammo
- In all games other than BSI

Psi powers / plasmids / vigors
- In all games other than SS1

Mini games to hack things/pick locks etc
- In all games other than BSI

Devices to bring you back from the dead - in exchange for money
- In all games other than BSI (which had Anna do it or a weird other-wordly room)

Turrets that could be hacked to attack enemies
- In SS2 and BS.
- Not in SS1 or BSI

- not in SS1 or BSI.
- in SS2 and BS
8:01 pm
3 days after I put my new job up on linkedin and I'm already beating off recruiters with a stick. I've been here for 2.5 weeks: even if I was working for EA, that's not long enough to tell you don't like the job. And it's not as if any company would think "hey, he left google after 3 weeks. Sounds like just the sort of reliable chap we're looking for"?

Oh and a tip for any other recruiters out there: it doesn't look good if you start with "You don't know me, but I've worked before with Bob Smith", when the only Smith I know is called Bill.
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