Sunday 27 September 2020

Challenge Accepted

 During the height of lockdown I was working from home, I was bored and I was making a lot of video calls. I came to find it rude when the people I had to talk to had crappy audio on their computers and they had a lot of hum/buzz/echo/background noise or were hard to understand. During one meeting I said to my colleagues how much I liked talking to the gamers because they always have really good headsets. One of these guys explained that he was just wearing headphones as he didn't like a head-worn mic. From just outside frame he pulled a massive (presumable broadcast quality) mic on an anglepoise stand.

I used to run sound for various bands and have enough audio equipment scattered around the house to put on a small music festival. I said "Challenge accepted" and spent the night putting together a system of stands, mic and headphones that would look equally impressive for my meetings the next day.

These two flight cases contained most of what I needed.

This is a battery powered mic preamp to bring the level up to something that the computer could deal with. I didn't have enough space to use an actual mixing desk.

This is what I was talking on for my meetings the next day. The mic is actually a bass drum mic, but it deals with speech and (tenor) vocals very well. It's in a stand that's designed for the stage so it's far to heavy and sturdy to be convenient. The headphones, while excellent are also ear defenders so it is quite oppressive to put them on

Richard "telephony" B

Monday 21 September 2020


 I received this lovely message last week from a friend of mine. "Welcome to the joyless but effective world of South Korean motoring".

My old Citroen Nemo was written off following an accident and the insurance company took it away. My only other car is a loud and uncomfortable open top sports car, so shopping for a replacement was somewhat trying. I wanted to try an estate car, and ended up choosing a Hyundai i40. It's 8 years old, but even so, it's so low spec that it's laughable:

  • 16" wheels.
  • AM/FM Radio with CD player.
  • Leather gear knob.
  • Electric windows.
  • Adjustable wing mirrors.
  • Heated rear window.

That said, everything works (except the lock on the fuel door), it's smooth, quiet and easy to drive. It's also exceptionally boring.

Richard "Joyless but effective" B

Friday 11 September 2020


 This weekend I took my boss with me to a track day. I'm trying to make a favourable impression on him to improve my chances of getting a demotion.

It was an odd day. The driving was arranged in sessions with the same group of cars each time. There were several long stoppages, but all for breakdowns rather than crashes. A turbocharged Westfield (why such a thing exists I have no idea) made a loud bang and briefly produced a large orange ball of flame. It then span off the track dropping an entire sump of oil on a fast corner. When it was pushed back into the paddock large components were dangling from the engine bay and scraping along the tarmac.

I did my best to correct the ratio of breakdowns to crashes. Towards the end of the day we were told that we would get just one more 30 minute session, but that we would be allowed to make a driver change in the pit lane. I was in a well maintained and trustworthy car, but I needed to determine when I had been driving for 15 minutes. I don't know how long it takes to look down at one's watch, but when I looked up again I found that I was completely off line and heading off the track, full throttle, at about 80mph. I remedied the situation without incident, but I didn't impress my passenger.

Richard "No lap timing" B

Write Off

 My brother came to visit for the weekend and within an hour of picking him up at the station I had put him into quite a frightening car accident. I made a U-turn and the car behind hit me. It was hard enough that the sill is bent out of shape, the door will no longer close, and an airbag that I didn't know I had in the side of my seat went off and gave me a good thump in the elbow. At the moment I'm working with the insurance company to work out if we can write the car off without having to go through the indignity and expense of having a garage provide a quote to repair the damage.

To cheer ourselves up went out for a walk and accosted a young mother and her son. They were trying to fly a kite, but didn't know how. We re-attached the string (correctly), launched it, flew it for a while and then handed it back.

Richard "nosey weirdos" B