The Haunted House

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Fighting Midgets

This is just too funny not to share. Not only does it contain your typical Jerry Springer morons, they are midgets and they kick/flap the crap out of each other. :-)


Sunday, November 12, 2006

One Arm Bandit

A while ago When down the pub Amanda was playing on a fruit machine (as she usually does) and I joked that it would be cheaper to go and buy a fruit machine for home. Little did I know that Amanda would actually go and do this.

It's not one of the annoying bright loud ones from the pub though. Yesterday her first fruit machine turned up. It dates from the 1950's and was used as a promotional game for the BDR Tram company in Bristol. That's all the history we have on it at present, but Amanda is trying to find out more about it's origins.

The mechanics in the machine have been restored by an expert and the machine plays as if it was new. The machine is quite unique in that the fruits are stacked vertically and not horizontally as you may be used too. And it is apparently for this reason that the machine never really took off, so that makes it quite rare.

It is quite interesting playing it with the main door open. It's surprising how complex the innards are but it sounds really good. Soon I'll get a recording of the machine and post a link on here. The machine is totally mechanical, and the only electricity required is to light the lamps in the machine to light up the fruits.

To play the game you need a load of old sixpence's, so Amanda maganed to get a load from ebay very cheaply. All we need now is a decent stand for it. This will need to be very sturdy as the machine weighs a ton.


Saturday, November 11, 2006

Microsoft TechEd 2006 in Barcelona

For the past week I have been at a Microsoft developers conference in Barcelona, Spain. The conference is run my Microsoft to enable software developers to get ahead of their game in current and new Microsoft technologies.

On Monday I met the 6 others from Egg who were going to the conference in the morning and we drove down to Stanstead Airport to get out flight. We arrived at the hotel quite late. We stayed at the Vincci Condal Mar which was about a mile from the conference centre.

The hotel was strange. The area in which it was situated could only be described as 'the ghetto'. It was a very rough looking and dodgy area, yet next to all the run down buildings was this big posh hotel. After checking into our rooms we met in the bar and then walked to the local shopping / resturant centre 'the Diagonal Mar' hoping to find a resturant that was still open.

Unfortuantely the resturants had just started closing so we was unable to get a table. We was really hungry by this point and ended up going to a local petrol garage. Unfortunately none of us could speak spanish and the guy behind the window at the station couldn't speak any engligh, so trying to buy 3 large bags of doritos, 3 boxes of orios and 2 large bottles of coke prooved to be really hard. In the end, the poor guy was running around the shop whilst we shouted 'Left' 'Right' 'Yes' at him. I was hilarous looking back at it. After we aquired our feast we went back to the hotel to tuck into crisps and biscuits.

The next morning we met for breakfast at 7.30am and then walked to the conference at the CCIB to register before the keynote speech. The keynote started at 9.15 and went on for about an hour. Once this had finished we all went off to our first lecture. The lectures were very interesting (well I thought so), but a week of intense coding lectures really tires you out

By the end of the 2nd day we were all mentally and physically exhausted, but we heard learnt a lot of interesting stuff. On thursday we decided to take the afternoon off as there wasn't any relevent lectures to go to, so Me, Lee, and Faisal decided to go back to the hotel, drop of our stuff and get the Metro into the city for a little sightseeing.

When we registered at the conference our id badge pack contained a 10 trip travel card so we made full use of these for our sightseeing trip. We got the train to Jaume station and spent a while getting our bearings. Once we knew were was was going we headed to the cathedral Santa Maria Del Mar.

The buildings in Barcelona are pretty amazing, lots of gothic and gaudi architecture.

It took us about 30 minutes to find the cathedral, in the end we just looked at the direction buses were traveling in, and used them as a way to navigate around.

The cathedral was quite spectacular, unfortunately its front was covered in scaffholding so you couldn't get the full effect, but it still looked very impressive.

It was free to go in, but they ideally wanted 4 euro donations, so after paying the donation I took a little look around.

Just outside the cathedral there was a small market selling antiques and other old stuff. We had a look around here plus some typical tacky tourist shops and then started to make our way to see some of the gaudi buildings.

The gaudi buildings were quite bizzare. You could go inside for a tour but there was a bit of a queue and seeing as this was our only chance during the trip to look around the city we didn't go in but carried walking up the road.

We stopped at a little shopping centre wich had a lot of designer shops. It's quite easy to get lost in some of these shopping centers as they were layed out like little rat runs.

Once we had seen enough of the gaudi buildings we started walking back to the cathedral to do a little present buying before going back to the hotel on the metro.

One shop we found sold lots of funny spannish hats. Naturally I had to try one on and get a photo, although I don't think the shop keeper was too impressed as he kept on following us around. He must have though we were going to steal stuff.

Seeing as we was staying in the ghetto there was alot of grafetti on the walls. Some of it was your usual yob style tagging, but some of it looked quite good. I particularly thought the picture of the dog below was quite good. Even though it had lots of prostitute stickers over it with their phone numbers on. :-)

When we got back to the hotel we went up to the roof to get some photos of the city with the sun setting.

There was some large windows on the roof were you could see the large orb like lights flowing down to reception. I took the oportunity to ge a little arty and get some strange photos.

Once back to the rooms we had an hour to relax, get showers and ready to meet the others in the bar. For dinner we decided to get the metro back into the city and find a resturant.

We found a really nice tapas bar and parked our selves there for a while. The food was really nice. I think we ordered a little too much, but it was very good. Once we had finished there we went for a walk around the area. The city looked really good at night and we walked down La Rambla to the coast.

There was a fair bit of street entertainment. But the one thing we saw that was very impressive were these artists making space/luna landscape paintings with spray paint. We spent a while looking at these people making their paintings. The finished results were very very good.

I would have liked to buy one of the paintings but it would be been very hard to get them home without damaging them.

On Friday we went back to the conference for our last full day of lectures. We also had a chance to go around the exhibition some more to look at products from different software vendors and get as much 'free shit' as we could.

There are 2 basic rules of conference exhibitions. If you are an exhibitor, to get people to look at your products you have to give away tacky crap like t-shirts, pens, keyrings ect. And if you are a delegate you have to try try and collect as much of this as possible. At Egg, pens and stationary are a precious comodity as getting stationry is harder than you might think. So we got as many pens etc as possible. Faisal really got into the spirit of things and was even pinching mouse mats from stands. Something we all had a go at later on :-)

Elsa was also on a roll. She even managed to get a pair of novelty boxer shorts for her boyfriend off one of the stands. Although the major gimmick of the day was stainless steel mouse keyrings with blue leds in the eyes. :-)

The conference finished at 4.30 and we got our bags from the cloakroom and got the coach back to the airport. We landed back at Stanstead around 10.30pm and found our minibus driver in the carpark for the long drive back to the office. We got back to Egg about 1 in the morning were we all went our seperate ways to go home and sleep.

The conference was really good. Both informative and good fun, although I have never been so exhausted in me life.