Please vote on May 6th

I don’t often make public political statements, and saying “please vote on may 6th” probably isn’t one really.   However, it is vitally important that you, the enfranchised public, get off your apathetic arses and make it to the polling station this coming May 6th.

According to this information almost 4 people in 10 eligible to vote chose not to bother to do so. Oh there will be a few spoiled ballots in there but most of that 40% will simply have not bothered.  That’s shocking.

I do feel Australia has this nearly right.  It’s compulsory to vote there.  You can turn up and spoil your ballot, I understand drawing pictures of penises on the form is common, but the point is that you do show up, or you get a fine.  It’s not much, personally I’d be quite happy with the penalty for not voting without good reason is having your right to vote removed thus making my vote worth that tiny bit more, but it’s better than what we have now.

Why turn up just to spoil your ballot?  Well if the result of the election show that 40% voted “none of the above” then that’s a clear message to the politicians that their policies and performance are not appealing to a significant proportion of voters. Maybe it’ll make them wonder why we’re not interested in supporting them.

Another reason you should vote is not to get a candidate in, but to keep a candidate out.  The BNP got power not so much because people voted them in, but because people didn’t vote against them.  We do not need the BNP in this country. Where you have a BNP candidate standing, and you have no preference, voting for anyone else is better than you not voting at all.

Me?  I’ll be voting Liberal Democrat this year, as I have done in every election I have been able to take part in.  I don’t think Nick Clegg is the best LibDem leader ever, I also do think him doing well in the leadership debate was nearly inevitable.  Only a complete cock-up could have done anything but boost the LibDem’s cause.  If I felt either a Labour or Conservative government were really able to sort things out, I’d be voting them in.  I have lived my entire life under either a Conservative or Labour government, things are not going all that well.  No-one voted for our current Prime Minister. Can the LibDems really do any worse?

You may not think it matters who you vote for, I would disagree. But really, really, it does matter that you do vote.

Please vote on May 6th.

Restoring a teak garden table

Last weekend I started cleaning up the garden. First job was to break out the pressure washer and remove 6 months of bio-film from the patio, shed and fences. Then we unpacked the our large teak table and were dismayed to find that it had not fared well under cover.

The wood was covered with watermarks and had various genera of stuff living on it, including large areas of black mildew. This was not a cheap table, so I started researching about how to go about saving it.

Firstly, I just left it to dry out. After 3 to 4 days of airing I was relieved to see most of the watermarks had vanished. Next I took a small hand sander, found the finest grade sandpaper I could and went over the entire table lightly, taking off just the very top layer of the surface along with most of the crud that was clinging to it.

Next I washed the table down, removing as much of the dust as possible and left it to dry out completely.

Looking around the shelves at my local DIY store, I found this stuff which is apparently highly dangerous to just about everything living, if the dire warnings on the back of the pack are to be heeded. Sounded perfect 🙂

Painting this stuff onto the teak immediately brought back the colour and the grain of the wood and was soaked up like the table was a sponge. I kept repainting until the stuff stayed on the surface rather than being immediately absorbed.

Left overnight, all the excess was drawn into the wood, leaving it feeling slightly waxy and beautifully textured. Picture here.

Perhaps not the most interesting thing I’ve ever written here, but will hopefully be useful information for people with a similar problem.

Game review: Just Cause 2

Just Cause 2 is a game that has been on my “buy it as soon as it’s released” list since its initial announcement.  Finally we were going to get the seamless large-area free-roaming game that developer after developer has promised and, usually, failed to deliver.  The last best attempt was perhaps Far Cry 2 which did an admirable job, but JC2 manages so much more.

Before I get into the praise-singing, could I take a moment of your time to tell you the one thing that has irritated me about JC2?  Thank you:  Steam’s pricing.  I like Steam, really.  JC2 on Steam retails for £29.99. A physical box containing JC2 costs £24.99 from Tesco.  Tell me, @steam_games, how can it possibly cost more to deliver a game over Steam online than to deal with a physical product?

So I did what I usually do, bought the box set and downloaded the “no DVD” crack.  When will you chimps learn?

If you liked Far Cry 2 at all then you are going to just love JC2.  It’s all that’s promised in terms of free roaming adventure and when you’re bored with exploring you can deign to follow the storyline.  Graphically it’s utterly beautiful though even my fairly high end games machine struggled when I ramped all the settings up to maximum.

The controls are a tiny bit fiddly and driving vehicles with the keyboard is very imprecise.  This is especially a problem when flying the jet aircraft.  There is support for using an Xbox controller but, crazily, there’s no support for using a regular joystick making a number of the aircraft-based missions decidedly tricky and much less fun than they could be.

Weapon choice is a bit limited and, teethgrindingly, there’s no ammo purchases.  You can pick up ammo from departed enemies, if they had the same weapon as you, but your black market dealer will only sell you a whole new weapon with ammo, not just the ammo itself.  For some of the missions this becomes expensive but is somewhat mitigated by you being able to pick up certain turret weapons which inherit infinite ammo.  The drawback here is that your movement is severely limited when wielding these puppies.

One of the touted features of the game is the double grapple: attach anything to anything.   This works less well than it seems it should.   Attempting to attach aircraft together seems to work poorly, for example.

Overall, you should buy this game.  It’s fun, it’s fast paced, it’s big and it’s beautiful. What are you waiting for?

I am so with this whole Web 2.0 thing

So after about 3 years of blogging, and nearly a year of being on Twitter, I thought I’d attempt to drag my blog kicking and screaming into 5 years ago.

My old Blosxom powered blog is still around for posterity, and because I’ve not yet figured out how to unscrew all the links after importing the whole lot into WordPress, will probably be around for a little while yet.

Welcome to the future!