Thursday, October 24, 2013

Leaving St Albans

Tomorrow will be our final day as residents of St Albans.

Four years isn't a long time to know this former Roman town, and we are still discovering new things to like about this city. But we thought it was time to move on. We have outgrown our one bedroom flat and we wanted a 'forever' home. As house prices in St Albans are notoriously high, getting a house here would mean compromising on location. It would not satisfy our needs as a 21st century inhabitant - the need to be close to a railway station. Don't get us wrong, St Albans is a beautiful dormitory town, which only downside is it is served by First Capital Connect, the mother of all ghastly railway companies. But it doesn't help that we were always city kids, so life in the suburbs isn't quite for us, yet.

We have grown to love the many South Asian restaurants such as Mumtaj, Bengal Club, Koh-i-Noor and Veer Dhara, the fantastic new restaurant Number 23, Soko Coffee who operates outside the railway station in her coffee scooter, the mobile Pudding Stop (whose owner appeared on BBC's GB Bake Off), Dixie's Cupcakery (who appeared on BBC's The Apprentice - much to the chagrined of local people here, but whatever), our two favourite Thai restaurants north of London, Pin Petch and Bua Thai, and numerous Italian eateries here (bar Jamie Oliver).

Verulamium Park, once the site of an ancient Roman city of the same name, is a favourite of ours. Not only does the park host one of the oldest pubs in Britain, Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, it is also beautiful what with the number of Roman ruins dotted around and mix of fields and trees. We know London has an abundance parks, but Verulamium is quality. But we won't be missing walking up Holywell Hill!

However one thing is certain, we would not hesitate to moving back to St Albans if and when the time is right. We made many friends here, from good neighbours to amazing twitter chaps of all kinds. So you never know.

Right I better post this before our internet access is cut off. See you on the other side of the river!)

So long, and thanks for all the fish!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Monkey business

This is a monkey
Football isn't something I write about, but this isn't about football. This is more of an observation on how our media reacts to none worthy news. Recently England's football manager made a joke or rallying cry using monkeys in space (because NASA sends monkeys to space) or something. I don't know. All I know is the word monkey was used and media people are furious about this 'gaffe' which isn't really a gaffe.

Remember, these are the same media people who likes to poke fun at said manager's speech impediment. (classy)

What I am certain of however is monkey is the description of a primate who mainly lives in trees eating bananas. You know, that animal thing who looks a bit like us, only a bit more furry and has a tail. Yeah, we kinda evolved from them.

So what do you think of when someone says monkey? Well I think of a monkey, the animal. You see, I grew up in a town where monkeys would frequently raid our mango tree.
3D sucks. Also, racists!
I also think of the monkey king, Sun Wukong, a Chinese folklore god-thing who also happens to be cheeky monkey who likes to beat the crap out of anything (according to a comic I read). This monkey general also happens to be the main inspiration to Son Goku, the character from Dragon Ball who has a tail and grows into a monkey beast during full moon, also known as the greatest comic book hero of all eternity. Take that Superman.

You know what I do not associate monkeys with? Black people. So whenever I tell a story involving monkeys (which I hardly ever do), I never meant to offend people, and 99% of the time people aren't offended. Because people I know are sensible folks who would never associate monkeys with people of certain races.

But you know who associates black people with monkeys? Journalists and 'anti racism' organisations who writes about racism whenever monkeys are mentioned. Like this guy.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Meridian Explorer review

Meridian is a Cambridge based audio company known in the audiophile circle as a good trusted brand when it comes to sound quality. Their products are on the upper end of the market and, as all their products are designed and manufactured in the UK, therefore comes at a premium. The Meridian Explorer is a product aimed at cornering the slightly lower end of the market, and to a different segment of audio lovers.

The pocket size USB DAC is designed for those who mainly listen to music using computers. It is a growing segment of the audio market. Long gone when you need a PC size amp and book shelf speaker in order to enjoy good audio quality. The Explorer in intended to do two things. It is designed first to bypass a typical PC's soundcard (which are normall inadequate), routing the digital file through the USB onto the Explorer's on board Texas Instrument DAC. This by itself will almost always make a difference for the better. The second thing the Explorer does is up sample the audio file.

A CD and MP3 file typically contains audio tracks in 16-bit resolution and 44.1kHz sampling, which is adequate for majority of music listeners. However to some, this isn't enough. You can find albums encoded in 24/192, but these are rare and expensive. The Meridian Explorer on the other hand is designed to take these 16/44 files and resample them. This isn't quite the same as buying audio files encoded in native 24/192, and is similar to buying a Blu-Ray player that is capable of up sampling a 1080p source for playback onto a 4K monitor.