Steelskin.net

Started a Tumblr Blog

23rd July 2014 - Category: Life,Web Design & Accessibility

It’s just for stuff I like on Tumblr, so no new content.
http://chrispynutt.tumblr.com/

More Adventures with Minolta

6th July 2013 - Category: Life,Photography

Went out Falkland way with the family. Had me ‘new’ Minolta 35-70mm F4, aka the Baby/Mini Beercan. Really wanted to see what the Macro option is like. These are just the photos taken in jpeg without post-processing. Really dreamy. They were taken in a garden centre. You can probably make out my Dad in the green shirt in the blur of bokeh. The other photos I took are for the family only, but they look really nice too. I am very happy with my £40 purchase. The lack of range doesn’t bother me at all. I will definitely be investing in some more Minolta lenses. Probably the Beercan to replace my old kit Minolta 70-210mm.

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I am still alive

7th May 2013 - Category: Life,Photography,Tech and Computers

I haven’t blogged in nearly 3 months. I don’t visit that often anymore and I am not sure what the value of this page is at the moment.

So on to the updates

Laptop

I purchased a Lenovo X61 from SCH Trade and I am rocking Linux Mint 14 KDE on it. It makes a good Netbook replacement. Core2 is fine for most surfing and email use. My one was £80 all in, £66 for the Laptop and £14 for the PSU. I would say that whilst very well designed the X61 uses, it doesn’t have a touch pad. For some people this a is a deal breaker.  For those of you that want something with a pad, try the X200 or X300. Again they will kick the pants off of any netbook and the newer models might even have the OEM Windows 7 Code on them.

Tablet

My tablet was on lend to my Sister and her BF to try. They liked it a lot, although single core and tablet mode isn’t that slick with Android 4.0. I would recommend that Android tablet buyers always buy dual core. That said they got a dual core IPS 7″ tablet for £80. The Allwinner and MTK chips are very cheap and powerful these days.

I also managed to semi-brick it by installing the V3 firmware when I have the V2. Simple reflash did it. Need to set up the spoof as a Samsung in order to get all my Apps. Guess Ainol isn’t a household name 😉

Car

The Mazda 3 is a very nice car, if you have a family. I am just a smidge bored by it. I am sure there are some truely dull cars out there. I think I might switch to something small and fun again. In the mean time I have a good car to rely on. Got a leaflet for a local scrape fixer, so might get that one on mine fixed before sale.

Gaming

Whilst Skyrim is still on the roster I am back out at Glasgow working and this leaves less time for PC gaming. I have started the Citadel DLC for ME3, which is nice, but someone really needs to fix those car models (yuck!). Bought some RPGs for my Android devices, one a dungeon crawler like the old faux-First Person ones by Westwood. Another is a JRPG by Kemco that was on sale for 99p. So far touch controls suck.

Camera

Well if I could get out of my funk, I might take some photos. The Alpha a330 isn’t going anywhere, I can’t be bothered to sell it. However if I ever go on a real holiday I will just buy a decent compact, lugging a DSLR around is no fun for me. So I end up without a camera to hand. My phone is good, but the autofocus is slower than Canon’s live view.

OS

Linux Mint is perfectly good as a day to day OS. KDE is odd, it always feels like an extra step to do everything. However I don’t feel patronized by it. I’ve read a few posts by David Revoy, he got me interested in Krita and Karbon, but my Laptop isn’t ideal to run those. Unlike Firefox, these are best run under Linux. The ports to Windows are not nearly as nice.

Avatar is so good, not that one

17th January 2013 - Category: Anime and Manga,Life

Avatar - Complete CollectionLets face it you didn’t really think I was going to promote James Cameron’s preachy space film. I am also not promoting the live action version of The Last Airbender, because even if it was okay it would still be one step away from the real thing.

Avatar: The Last Airbender. This is by far the highest quality American cartoon series I have ever seen. Batman: The Animated Series is for me a blue print for Batman. However Avatar seems to be one whole step up from that. Mainly due to a definable arc. Batman has excellent stand alone episodes and on a episode to episode basis is a match and some times betters Avatar. However Avatar is very consistent in quality and constantly impresses.

What doesn’t delight is the shoddiness of the UK transfer. The later discs are far better, but expect bad interlacing and jerky motion in the first handful of discs.

Give it a go and if you have kids old enough to get it, watch it with them.

I’m Chris Nutt, and This Is How I Work

6th January 2013 - Category: Life,Work

This is a response to my friend Bryan’s blog post, which in turn is in response to LifeHacker. Like Bryan I wouldn’t say I am an amazing success, in fact I would use my deficiencies as an example of what not to do.

Name: Chris Nutt

Location: Fife/Edinburgh Scotland

Occupation: Web/Graphic Designer

Current Computers: At work an i5 Dell Optiplex with a rubbishy 17” LCD recently upgraded to Windows 7 64-bit and Adobe Design Premium CS6. At home a custom built i7 920 system inside a Fractal Design Refine R2, 6GB ram, AMD 7950 3GB, 2TB & 500GB HDD, 96GB SSD and B-Grade NEC 2180UX.

Current Mobile Devices: Acer Cloudmobile (7” tablet out on lend)

Work: Lumpy

What’s your best time-saving trick?

Hack as little as possible and abstract as much as possible. Not a small scale solution, but once you have the mindset in place you will be horrified by hacking. Hacked fixes have a habit coming back to bite you. The half hour you save today can be 2 days wasted tomorrow.

What’s your favourite to-do list manager?

In life Tasks and at work I keep it stupidly simple and use flags in Outlook. The moment I read a task related email I flag it red. Large complex managers scare the hell out of me, I am not a person who copes well with stress, the more minimalist the manager the more comfortable I am.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

Photoshop, Adobe is one of the flakiest software developers known to man, but no matter how badly they hack something Photoshop just fricken works. Having said that I am very much considering moving a lot of my work to Fireworks.

TVsetupMy web designing setup is heavily focused on Firefox as a day to day browser it isn’t my first choice, but as a development browser I don’t think anything comes close. I extend Firefox with Firebug. Firefox and many other browsers offer similar functionality, but really I have found them all to not fit my work fully. I then use Total Validator and its Firefox plugin. Valid HTML is essential in cutting down unpredictability in the display of a website. Each browser can interpret vagueness in the HTML spec differently, but that is infinitely preferable to it just making a wild guess. Also invalid code can kick an entire document into quirks mode and then everything is squirrelly as hell. Why Total Validator though? LOCAL VALIDATION. I work largely on projects that are internal or initially internally developed. I can’t send code outside the building and in a recent case the code was partially created by JavaScript it didn’t exist in the source, but the DOM of the browser. In the screenshot above I have show how you can configure the TV plugin to launch TV and validate your generated code. Also I am big on accessibility. A large part of accessibility is abstraction of content from display, this is beneficial for a maintainable site and from an SEO perspective too. I also use additional FF plugins like Firesizer or accessibility toolbars as and when I need them.

I am not so fused about IDEs. I will happily use what is to hand. They must however do code highlighting and not screw with my code.

As an aside CSS validity is far further down my list, I prefer better organised CSS (always alphabetical properties, unless they have a browser prefix) and valid syntax to strict code validity.

I like Bryan also use the office suite, mainly Outlook, Word and PowerPoint. Getting half decent results from PowerPoint is oddly enjoyable. Then again that might be Stockholm Syndrome. InDesign is excellent, but I don’t use it so much these days. Illustrator is powerful, but also fucking awful. If Photoshop is sometime roughly cut diamond, Illustrator is a lump of coal constantly being recut. It is no worse and in some cases better than it’s current competition. However raw usability is still behind Freehand. The other Adobe apps are fine, Flash is just far to complicated and Dreamweaver gets 90% of it’s functions ignored and used as a glorified text editor.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?

At home George Formby grill, by that I mean my cheap Aldi George Forman a like that had completely removable plates and drip tray. It cooks bacon and toasties excellently. I wouldn’t want a ‘real’ one.

At work (and work from home) FUNC 1030 mouse mats. A low friction, high tracking surface can make very average mice track much better. I use the rough ball mouse side even with optical/laser mice. I have tried other mats, fabric mats, no mats and they all suck ass compared to the mats I have. I bought them 8 1/2 years ago from Alienware before they were owned by Dell. They were £8 each as apposed to £24 for unbranded. They have worn a bit, but still work excellently.

What’s your workspace like?

Flickr android app testWe moved office last year and got Steelcase chairs and desks, they are pretty nice. I keep most things off of my desk. I scrap most paper, bar notebooks the moment I don’t need them. At home really messy, but two Ikea hacked tables with kitchen wood block work tops and round desk legs. An old shelf keeps my PC from sitting on the carpet. I have a cheap Viking fake leather chair that has seen better days, with the seat being boosted with inset cushion as the old foam was compacted years ago. I am considering getting a new chair. Two potentials is on second hand Steelcase chair or an Alfa Romeo seat chair. I crush me elbows a lot which gives me shooting pains down my arms, so getting a chair with removable arms or no arms would be ideal for me.

What do you listen to while you work?

Music via PlayerPro on my Cloudmobile. I am really into Art of Trance at the moment. I have Wildlife on One and Voice of Earth second hand. Otherwise anything I like, prog rock, trance, gothic rock, jrock, electronic…

What’s your sleep routine like?

If I don’t keep to a regular pattern I don’t feel to good. Generally 10:30pm to 7:00am. I sleep a lot.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?

I would have said drinking tea, but I can’t have proper tea anymore Sad smile

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Err… Don’t Panic.

Any other interesting tidbits you’d like to share with readers?

Don’t play Skyrim your life will be over. If you must, mod it to hell.

TV Guide Question

12th December 2012 - Category: Life

OK any good suggestions for a TV Guide for Android? as I am home for winter holidays.

Just had to share

11th December 2012 - Category: Life

carl-sagan-youre-awesome

PosteRazor

13th September 2012 - Category: Life,Photography,Tech and Computers

I needed to blow up some plans for my dad tonight. He had an A3 with plans for a model engine car. He wanted it up around 2.33x the size. I used Paint.net to scan it in and titch the two A4 scans together and then after some searching I used PosteRazor to make a PDF with 16 A4 sheets with 3cm overlaps.

My Mazda 3

3rd June 2012 - Category: Life

ParkedFront LightsAwesome FocusingPretty Lights 1Pretty Lights 2

Finally bought a replacement for the Mazda 323F

Which Car Part 2

24th October 2011 - Category: Life

I went out and had a look at cars at the weekend.

Mazda RX8

I’ve always liked RX8s ever since I saw one in X Men 1. I think I still have photo’s of them from various angles in my wallpaper folder. This example is generally very nice, but as with all Mazdas I have seen the alloys are corroded. Lovely colour though and if it wasn’t for the drinking of fuel I’d get one in a heart beat. I just love the design of these, but I am not sure I could live with one.

Hyundai Coupe 2.0

This is a generally nice example, I have a thing for blue cars and this understated dark blue looks nice. Has some scratches around the door lock and some mold on the window sills. However it doesn’t have the rust around the petrol cap I have seen on other examples. Really quite nice.

BMW 316ti ES

I know BMW owners don’t have the best rep, certainly not 3 series owners. However my Dad’s mate Sandy has 3 and looks after them himself. He’s a really nice chap. Even this base model seems quite nicely appointed. Same size as the HC, shouldn’t be to bad for fuel being a 1.6.

Mazda MX5

I like Mazdas if I was to get a soft top like the MX5 I would buy an after market hard top so it can be driven in winter and that the soft top doesn’t get ripped by snow.

Ford Focus ST170

Looks 95% like a normal Focus, not ned-ed up at all. Nice on the interior, not amazing, really just a high spec Focus, rather than something super special. I was really tempted, but I realised how big the Focus felt.

Aftermath

A lot of nice cars. I still have an urge for something small and nimble, but it’s very hard to have a luxury-ish car and small at the same time. I prefer the seating height and position in the 323F to being up to high. The Focus felt a little odd because of this. If you are wondering where all the warm hatches are here is a round up. Lupo/Arosa Sport there aren’t any around, YarisT Sport don’t like the Yaris dash layout at all, Sport Ka I just don’t know. Also there is not Aygo T Sport and the Twingo GT is out of my price range.