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Flying visit
Hullo blog! A few things to fill you in on how this fox has been keeping:
  • I've been with my current employer for six (count 'em) months, and am still thoroughly enjoying the job. This week, I have mostly been learning Ruby (surprisingly pleasant language - very OO) and putting together SSL servers in Apache.
  • In May I attended Confuzzled 2011 in the surprisingly warm city of Manchester. It was wonderful - my first-ever furry convention and an absolute joy to attend. I spent far too much money in the Dealer's Den, have some great art to show for it, got to meet plenty of nice furs and hang out with old acquaintances. And some of the suits...
  • My Vampires deck for the cash sink that is Magic: the Gathering has been performing quite well at my local Wednesday Night Magic. Now I'm trying to build a dragon-centric EDH deck, because I am quite, quite mad. (Though my choice of commander, Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund, is beastly enough to warrant it.)
  • I have a new home! I shall be moving into a nice little semi-detached house come the end of the month. This one is on a rolling lease, so with any luck, I shan't need to move again until I choose to. It'll be nice to have some permanence in that department.
  • I have a strange yet burning desire to buy an Xbox 360. Haven't the faintest clue why.

A parting of the ways
Last week, tfbaxxter and I had a heart-to-heart, and sadly, I decided we should part ways, and cease to be 'an item'. It wasn't an easy or a pleasant choice to make, and I've felt quite low this week having to live with this choice, knowing the hurt it's caused - both for myself and for him.

I do hope he can be happy, and that he'll forgive me for what I've done; and I know I'll always treasure the time we spent together, on and offline. I won't regret a moment of it. He's a very sweet, kind, generous and cute foxie, and I know that he'll make someone else as happy as I've been. If we were able to be together in person, I'm sure I'd drop everything to say yes. 

Fortunately, he wants us to stay friends if we can, which equally I'd love to. We'd known each other for at least two years before becoming boyfriends, and I'd grown fond of him long before we ever met in person, so losing him as a friend would have been too much to bear. I hope we can continue to talk and to enjoy each other's company, and know I'll always be happy to yap, no matter what. 

Hullo again, you little charmers. It's been a funny few months, hasn't it? I have rather neglected this little journal, which is a bad habit I really should rid myself of.

So! I've not been up to too much since last I posted, except for changing jobs again - yes, again - finding myself at a certain international publisher of magazines, who I won't name, but who should be fairly easy to track down given the city in which I live. I'm working in web deployment, updating code on the webservers for various tie-in websites, as well as doing some systems administration work and general geekery. (I'm writing slightly less hacky, and slightly more useful, Perl. Zounds.)

In the end I don't think I could have stayed at my previous employer for much longer, even if I hadn't been offered the job I've now changed to. The workload was growing with no signs of any training or help managing it, and I didn't really see myself remaining in that line of work for long - I could do it, but I do hope to become a sysadmin in the long run. I will forever be thankful for being able to have worked there, and as a first job out of university it was perfect, but equally I'm delighted to have started this new job, and am highly enjoying myself.

I'll be going to Confuzzled later this year, which I'm very excited about. My first actual furry convention is mere months away. Hopefully I'll enjoy it - I see few reasons why I'd not - and will make up for lost time with relish. (I've considered myself a fur since 2001, so have sat on the sidelines for quite a while...) More on that, of course, as it nears.

And I keep myself fairly busy of a Wednesday evening playing Magic: the Gathering in a pub. Like you do. I'm not the world's greatest by a long shot, and my deck and strategy are each full of holes, spurting water over the table before eventually sinking entirely. (Wait, what? - Ed) But it's fun, and friendly, and occasionally my Knights bring righteous death to all who oppose them.

And that's about all for now! Stay tuned to this frequency, but turn your radio off now to save batteries.

Anniversary the first
Today, it's mine and tfbaxxter 's first anniversary!  Having plucked up the courage to ask him early in the morning exactly a year ago, and been given the answer I'd so nervously hoped for, I love him just as much as I did back then and take every opportunity I can to tell him. We chat online nightly, either through instant messangers, Skype, or even the occasional telephone call (despite expensive international rates - though working for a VoIP firm has that neatly solved), and I do feel as if the day isn't complete without hearing how his went. I do wish I were able to see him in person more often - we've been fortunate enough to visit each other since becoming mated, but living in different countries, it's hard to do so for too long or with any regularity. I'd love to live with him, in Norway or here in Britain, but for now we share as much as we can online.

I said for our six-month anniversary that I couldn't try to sum up the reasons why I love him, but I'd like to give that a go:
  • Incredible kindness. From gentle words of encouragement and approval, to the lovely gifts he'd given me, everything he does always seems to be done with the utmost thought for me and for others.
  • A great sense of humour. We've many playful in-jokes and references which only we get, and frequently he has me cracking up at the keyboard from a throwaway line. I've many happy memories of us sharing jokes together online and in person, and frequently they take on such a life of their own that it would be impossible to explain why they're funny in the first place; one example would be how I can never quite think of the children's programme Dora The Explorer in quite the same way ever again.
  • Fiendish intelligence. My foxie's an educated young vulpine, with a Master's degree in philosophy! He's very well-read, and wonderfully clever - perhaps a trait I'm less keen on when he's tearing me apart in Magic: The Gathering.
  • Shared hobbies and interests! We've many joint interests, from a love of music (he even plays!) to video gaming and various pen-and-paper or tabletop games, and beyond. We frequently understand obscure references and namedropping, and can happily and freely share our obsessions. We don't have entirely identical preferences, but where would the fun be in that?
  • Tolerance and understanding. I have quite a few less-than-common interests, and he has never been offended or upset by any of them; even if he doesn't share them, he's never been unhappy that I've had them, which makes me feel most wanted and comfortable.
  • Sweet and loving affection, always having a surprise up his sleeve which makes me melt into a foxie puddle. For our anniversary, as well as sending me a lovely book, he had this picture commissioned (referencing our last holiday together, where many a piggyback was had), he surprised me and stunned me utterly with a lovely rose which sat awaiting my return from Bristol today.
  • The nicest hugs you will ever experience, ever.
  • Handsomeness, with a cute smile and a lovely body to cuddle into at night and wake up with, and one which (he types, blushing) makes me a very happy fox just to think of.
Tonight we'll be curling up in our respective beds for one of our movie dates, watching Disney's Enchanted together; and while I can't be in his lap, watching it while holding his paws, I'll be thinking of him throughout and wishing I were there.

Happy anniversary, Miles T.F. I love you, so much.

The new den
Did I tell you I was moving house?

Well, I've moved house. Having been faced with my landlord selling the present property, I wasted far too much time procrastinating and not hunting down a suitable replacement until the last minute. Still, I eventually found a tidy place not terribly far from where I was, and so over the past few weeks have been hefting my belongings between the two. Now I'm fully settled into the new pad, the first of five housemates to move in.

I've no net connection there are the moment, meaning I've taken to going through my DVD backlog. (First up: Blade Runner (the Final Cut). Oh yes.) Hopefully I should have a cable Internet connection set up by the weekend, and normal service will inevitably resume. For now, I'm enjoying being the only one about, and basking in the smell of fresh paint.
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Good job there, hardhat
Team Fortress 2, America's favourite war-themed hat simulator, has been available for the Mac for some time, but its performance has been rather lacking. This isn't really unique to TF2, to be fair - many games perform noticeably worse on Mac OS X than they do on Windows on the same hardware. While it's annoying to have to do so, for the moment to get my fix I've been rebooting into Windows XP through Boot Camp, which means I have to stop what I'm doing, restart, log in, start Steam, and start the game.

However, yesterday the enigmatically-titled Snow Leopard Graphics Update appeared in Software Update, promising fixes specifically for TF2. Low and behold, having applied it on my MacBook Pro and started up a quick TF2 offline practice session, it seems to have done the job! Before the update, playing with bots was an effective slideshow, while now I see stable 40fps+ framerates. Without bots, it should be even quicker, as they add significant CPU overhead and caused a noticeable drop in performance on Windows, too.

And there was much rejoicing.

 I've always been fond of using 'alternative' operating systems. Back in the very early 90's when I first became aware of computers, we had an Acorn Electron, an 8-bit 6502 machine with 32K of RAM and a cut-down version of the BBC Micro's operating system. Sticking with Acorn (my parents are teachers, and brought home machines from the schools where they worked), I was brought up using RISC OS and fell in love with its elegance, its intuitive UI, and the overall unquantifiable charm of the platform.

Later, as Acorn faltered and eventually imploded, we bought a PC, and I fell into the Windows set. I learnt to get along with that machine, but it wasn't quite the same; behind the façade of a modern OS there was still that creaking 16-bit DOS lurking underneath to trap the unwary. Most games of the day still ran in DOS, or ran better there, and Windows '95 was hardly the paragon of stability or ease-of-use. We progressed upwards through Windows '98 and to XP, and I became something of a Windows fan through persistence and a lack of exposure to anything else. I was aware of the Mac, but derided it purely out of ignorance.

Having shed my fear of the classic Mac OS after trying it through emulation, I set about re-familiarising myself with the OS market. I discovered Linux and fell in love with the UNIX philosophy, and bought myself a second-hand Acorn Risc PC and remembered why I'd had so much fun as a child as the familiar RISC OS desktop sprung into life. I follow, though don't use, Haiku (the open source BeOS clone) with interest, and wouldn't mind trying it at some point. I use Mac OS X as my platform of choice and use Fedora on my work desktop, flitting between each without a problem.

But for all my dalliances with other operating systems, one has consistently eluded me after all this time. The Amiga, the little computer that could, was immensely popular as a games platform in the UK in the early 90's, but I never knew anybody who had one; we were all Sega fanboys and the Mega Drive was king. I own an Amiga CD32 as part of my games collection, but purely as a games machine - I've never used it as a general-purpose computer.

But I'm drawn to it like a moth to a particularly alluring flame; it's the one that got away, the platform with so much potential and promise squandered by mismanagement and legal chicanery. Finally, after many years in limbo when it seemed as if it might finally die out altogether, there is hardware available and a new and (more) modern version of Amiga OS available, version 4.1. Perusing the most prominent Amiga dealer's website, I could buy myself a SAM440 motherboard, complete with 733MHz PowerPC CPU and a minimum of 512MB of RAM, for £379.95. Not the most powerful hardware around by modern standards, but more than enough for an OS which once ran on an 8MHz 68000 with 256K of RAM.

It's not expensive, per se, but it would still be a significant chunk of change to blow on what is effectively a whim, but I'm sorely tempted. It'd be fun to try a new platform, and I can already see myself using it as a workstation and to keep various things like a constant IRC session running. If the worst comes to the worst, I could always throw Fedora PPC on it...

Norwegian cruise report
This is a little overdue, but better late than never! As mentioned in my previous post, I spent the week of the 23rd of July on a cruise - my first ever - to beautiful Norway. In specific, we visited four towns/cities: Stavanger, Olden, Ålesund and Bergen, as well as spending the first and last days entirely at sea as we traversed the North Sea. Read on to find out how things went, and to discover whether I've gotten any more fluent since last I was there...

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Cruising Norway
Tomorrow at noon I set off for Southampton, to embark on a week-long cruise of Norway, in honour of my Grandma's 80th birthday. It was a surprise treat, and certainly a very pleasant one - plus it means I get to see tfbaxxter , if only for one day, when we disembark in Stavanger. I thoroughly enjoyed my last visit in August 2009, and while I'm still not particularly good with the language, am sure we'll be fine and will have a good time.

I've felt a tad unwell the past two days - I even took my first-ever sick day from work yesterday to recuperate, feeling thoroughly miserable and sorry for myself. I'm better - or at least, less worse - today, and so hopefully will be well on the road to recovery come tomorrow. The first day, at least, is spent entirely at sea, so if I do have to retire to bed for the duration, at least I won't miss anything crucial. Will have to roam the boat at some point, though, to see what the facilities are like. Never been on a boat bigger than a ferry before.

I shan't be taking my laptop or any other Internet-capable device with me ) I can honestly say I need some time away from huddling over a terminal. As such, I won't have much chance to talk to anyone or reply to e-mail. I may check in once or twice, as the cruise liner (the Oriana, incidentally) does have a cybercafé, but I can't guarantee a prompt response. Regular service will resume shortly.

Till then, I need to make sure I grab my passport and get through today at work with a peaky stomach. 

Double digits
As of today, tfbaxxter and I have been together for ten whole months! During that time, we've spoken online almost every day in some form or other, be it through instant messengers, e-mail, or voice over IP. (I work for a telecom company, which makes this even more economical, but we also use Skype, since it's free and readily available.) We've also met each other in person for the second time (as we met once before becoming boyfriends, with me visiting him in lovely Norway), when he came to stay for a week.

In addition, I hopefully will be able to see him again shortly. For my Grandma's 80th birthday, she's very kindly treated my family to a week-long cruise, which as luck would have it happens to be along the west coast of Norway. While my mate lives closer to Oslo, he's currently trying to see if he can stay with a friend in Stavanger where with any luck we'll get to spend the day together. I'm certainly looking forward to exploring the city with him, basking in his company, and perhaps - just perhaps - introducing him to my family.

We're nearing a year together, and it may seem trite, but I'm happily looking forward to many more years together. I do hope that someday we'll be able to be together in person, able to share our time and look forward to coming home to see each other; to do all sorts of everyday activities knowing that we have all the time in the world to do them. In the mean time, I find myself giddily awaiting each chance to see him in the flesh, knowing that even if it's just for one day, I get to spend that day with the person I love.

Happy anniversary, foxie! I'm thinking of you.