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Oz Comic Con 2014: Popping the Cherry

Hello, my name is Shaun and I am a closet comic book fan. Why is that, maybe because I took an immediate shining to imagery, chasing stuff by Jim Lee, Michael Turner, John Romita Jr, Frank Miller, Greg Horn, Joe Quesada or Bryan Hitch to name a few. A lot of that was mainly due to aesthetics, the comic was usually a good read because top talent more often than not is paired with great writers like Mark Millar or Jeph Loeb but I reveled in the beauty of the frames and intricate detail the penciller puts into each scene, they were never lazy or ambiguous, always fully realising shots of a moment in time.
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Google Cardboard: Virtual reality and changing our way to work and play

I am a fan of immersion in gaming and movies and whatever else is an experience you can have without actually being in danger or within grasp of the elements etc. I wrote an article some while back about ASMR and how binaural ASMR recorded with 3D stereoscopic mics make for a surreal yet relaxing experience. Now to visuals, the battle for your loungeroom wall is an epic one and with the latest from the big brands vying to blow you away with their 4K resolutions on massive screens. Even though I am a fan of many inches… of screen real estate you still can’t sit that close to the screen and when you sit where you usually sit the whole affair is not much larger in perspective than my Macbook is sitting on my lap. This whole screen size thing is going to get silly, soon enough they’ll paint your wall with some liquid screen stuff hooked into a media controller and you will watch the wall. That or you will be able to purchase rolled up LED/LCD wallpaper that when applied to any surface or framed will be the screen. Basically really big TVs with virtually limitless possibilities with screen size and application.

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Wise men and their two-wheeled implements

It all started with a test message from a longtime friend “Want to go for a ride?” received at 11:05am on a Saturday. If the message had originated with a comely friend who didn’t own a bike then this message would have meant something different but alas it did not.

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I thought to myself all I have done so far is get up at a stately 10:10am and brushed my teeth picked up some fruit and thought “eeeeuuuch” never again have apple just after brushing. There was the text highlighted in yellow because texts from everyone are yellow and my texts in the conversation are blue on the Samsung Galaxy S4. And like the colour so did my outlook on the rest of the day look, much brighter and all the better for it (because contrast from black text to yellow backgrou- ok this isn’t the point).
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Experimental Kitchen: Nigiri Sushi

I like loads of different kinds of food. I hanker after a good burger, drool over juicy steaks, go all hedonist with tasty dumplings, jump amazing heights for really good bacon, do your washing and cleaning too for divine cheeses. I also absolutely love sushi so whenever I need a fallback for something other than sushi I just go get some sushi because no matter the time of day and to give me the most realistic illusion of healthy eating I simply pop down to my local sushi shop and buy a bunch of sashimi, salmon sushi, nigiri of different sorts and pop the old anti-histamine and have some soft shell crab if they have it. When I’m on trips for the office I like to eat like this because it’s familiar and reminds me of home, as well as sating my love of simplicity.

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Dumplings!

Usually I get creative with titles but this time around there is nothing much to say except “Dumplings!” because what more could you want when the meal itself is made up mainly of these smallish parcels of crispy, juicy meaty delightfulness. For the uninformed the humble dumpling is a wheat based pastry dough flattened to the size of a coaster that is carefully enclosed around a filling made of chicken or pork mince with egg, chinese cabbage or pak-choi (literally white vegetable) some salt and pepper. Really the whole idea is quite simple however the execution requires time to make the lot and then to cook it properly. We could embellish our dumplings with other fancy stuff like shiitake mushrooms or prawns or some fancier vegetables and maybe spices however basic flavours are best as you can vary the amount of ginger and dipping sauce you put on top to change the flavour to suit. Continue reading

Virtual Insanity – Oculus Rift, reasons I want one

Virtual Reality has been the stuff of Hollywood dreams since the 70’s way before any sort of good method to track head movement or believable CGI was available yet the idea was there that we could experience a world reserved for fantasy. If you have been anywhere near the gaming industry recently you would have heard of Oculus and their intelligent yet reasonably priced VR headset called the Rift. Continue reading

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Dawn Drivers: Waking up to the smell of octane

Waking up early is something I envision doing when I am well into my fifties and intent on going for a walk to stave off the belly fat. Currently I may have the same issue however I am not waking up early because of laziness. That stops when a private event comes around with the boys and girls from Zen Garage, I kind of skip laziness and go straight to stress… about whether my car is going to be enough to hang with these dudes and their highly modified and very defectable rides.

Strong mocha in belly and I am on the M4 motorway hurtling towards the darkness beyond my windshield, music playing at a medium level with the windows up to stave off the chilly early morning air, it’s 4:55am and I can’t remember the last time I was awake around this time… on a Saturday. Listening intently to my GPS guide and before long I have turned up to a nondescript street in what I think is Leichhardt though I wouldn’t know because this place is alien to me and I don’t know what the fastest way to the cop shop is. I turn into a dark driveway and notice the headlights shining on a far wall at the end of the drive “Zen Garage” it says and instantly I feel relieved, I found the place!

People and their shiny, low and fast tonne and a bit chunks of metal, carbon fibre and polycarbonate turn up. I really felt for the residents of Leichhardt that morning.

After what seemed like 30 minutes the rest of the crew arrived and I got to walk around the garage plus say “hai” to Sergio and his team. I noted a sign that urged respect for neighbours by not playing loud music or revving the engine or doing burnouts… seriously. Around 6am we all headed to the cars and started on the convoy through Leichhardt to Glebe and to the Harbour Bridge revving hard in confined spaces and generally keeping only the most basic semblance of control in high octane guzzling fun-time machines.

As for what happened next you don’t need me your humble narrator, rather pictures that illustrate the moments much better than witty banter:

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Waiting at the servo almost immediately after leaving HQ. Time to admire the cars coming for this epic journey

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Sergio’s Skyline, dropped lower than a worms winkie

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This Odyssey belongs to the Klumps

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E30 bimmers are a personal favourite, lovely wheels too

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Getting going. 6am and degenerates like us make quick moves

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Spit bridge for a quick gather up of the rest of the crew, nice cars abound

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Fiat with great stance and a tin opener taken to it. It’s Turbo charged.. you know.

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Ok Ok the Focus isn’t exactly low but it is fast and looks like a rally car.. right!?

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In good company

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That E30 again. My grandpa had a similar vintage 735i in the same colour

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This Maloo was loud as in apocalyptically loud.

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Great scene

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Cool S2000, seems to be the business

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Running to Kuringai

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A common sight, you overtake and then a Skyline comes raging past

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Great car

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Not sure if that is legal… aww heck who cares when it looks that good. Full roll cage and everything.

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Feels like a touge run in Japan, really just a 2-way in Northern Sydney

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Much fuel was burned for the cause that day

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Lake side and loving it.

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At the end of the run, cars ticking cool. The Focus did admirably

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Seems right at home with this lot… I think

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A beautiful view to end a great run

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Serenity… I will be back for sure

Thanks to the guys at All Stars and Zen Garage for a great morning, I crashed hard after this and slept for ages after getting home safe. See you next time.

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GTA Online: Car Review

Hi everyone, it’s been a while since I have posted something so I thought it’d be best if I stopped this laziness and since I haven’t bleated on about GTA in quite some time, why not say something about it. (Throughout this article I am going to assume you play GTA V. If you don’t, read on for silly musings, if you do then you are with fine company.)

I am still waiting with anticipation for Rockstar to release GTA V on the PC and after so long I have padded myself out quite nicely in Los Santos and I am kind of dreading doing it all again from the beginning on PC (Rockstar, please allow cross platform save or at least a transfer function). I have been there, done that and got most of the best stuff, the experience really is all about the mighty dollar. You buy a new bunch of duds and next month a new pack comes out with a raft of new goodies for you to buy, Rockstar is pandering to the consumer in all of us. Most of the time I buy stuff my character doesn’t even need like recently a set of top hats which look pretty silly on a female character cost me $5,000 a pop plus a new super car setting me back $500,000 which after modifications to make it better and faster (same thing right?) probably put the bill at $800,000, all said and done I spent $1.5 million on the lot.

Oh Shaun, you are a wasteful chap playing a female character with a wardrobe to rival Paris Hilton’s and a garage that could make Jay Leno weak at the knees, in Los Santos aren’t you… yes and no. Where there is no waste is in that garage because I love cars of most shapes and sizes, that much everyone except you knows already. What appeals to me is more vehicular temple with shiny floors and lighting like an art gallery all for slick and sexy sports and super cars than edwardian mansion overlooking the dales with a modest shed to house the carts. And so the diatribe about cars begins as I have spent a fair bit of my life here in this virtual toy box and when you do this many burnouts along with much opposite lock on stretches of beautiful sun drenched tarmac you begin to form an opinion.

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Jay who?

If you just started playing you might be poor, very poor as your bank account is in $100s and you do not have anywhere to remain safe from the hoards of crazy and maligned players who look for people like you to kill. That isn’t fair nor fun but you persist because you’ve had a look at your online web browser on your in-game phone and seen websites like southernsanandreassuperautos.com or legendarymotorsport.net and they have many shiny cars that you want so let me help you there:

Let’s start with things you probably want now because they’re new from “The Business Update” as in only this week could you actually begin to purchase them, all of us who have been playing since GTA V came out had to wait with you too:

Grotti Turismo R

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Looks fast, goes quite fast and scrapes alot

You fancy yourself a little well off after playing that one larger paying mission over-and-over again and now you have in excess of 1.5 million in your GTA$ account, you need the most expensive of the newly released cars to give you the thrills. Yes it is exciting and stylish and you will get looks from everyone when you drive it with some caveats. Firstly everyone has been saving up for it so at the moment it is like any new fangled thing, it’s getting around. Secondly it’s actually not that fast, I drove this thing on the highway and at full chat to find I was passing cars like they were stuck in reasonable traffic and not like they were parked, this is depressing.

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For the less fortunate this is the view they will need to remain comfortable with, until the next bumpy corner that is.

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She’s looks good but with a nose like that it only means trouble as soon as the road isn’t glass smooth

Handling wise it turns in quite nicely however it has a tendency to break traction at the rear under slightly bumpy conditions and in terms of predictability it’s as good as the weather service which means in the game of keeping it mint while you doddle about, many points are lost (style and man ones included). If you, like me mince about a lot parking it on the high street waiting for the gasps and nice comments from toffs about your car, then you can appreciate the sleekness of this car as it looks good. Bring the very low bodywork near a kerb however and you find that the Turismo R is not like other cars which hop up the kerb, this one grinds it’s skirts so you park up too close and you end up with a great big gash in the lower part of your fender making you look incompetent. The other part of the problem is the nose is so long and low that exiting your apartment or LSCustoms comes with scratch marks on the nose, now everyone is laughing at your and their misfortunes.

I feel Rockstar is kind of making a joke of all those of us with enough cash, properly introducing us to the world of exclusive hypercars, all their foibles and the knobs who buy them, touché.

Dinka Jester

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No spoiler, looks sleek and mean in a funny way, like leering at an enemy, for which you have many.

Everyone thought this would be the coming of the Supra to our pixel rich world, they were wrong because instead we got the next NSX, and we are better for it. A properly modern design that for us in real life, isn’t even obtainable yet unless you are Tony Stark. Initial impressions are that this car is small and tight in a good way where they seem to use only what is needed to make the car and make it look fast. Short front and back overhangs and mid engine supercar looks seem to suggest the Jester punches above it’s weight.
For the car mod fans (really, who isn’t in this game) there are a raft of aggressive parts to make your Jester your own although I did notice that going ‘up’ in the cost brackets when choosing parts for this car doesn’t necessarily end with a good looking car as they have given you the chance to make  it look pretty much like a hill climbing racer and therefore beneficial to you like a large wart is right on the nose.

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The Jester mucking about at night with super dark tint, surely this car isn’t legal like that.

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Nice behind

Driving around and you notice immediately that the engine note is far too coarse for a car like this, though with time you appreciate it as the car is quite aggressive in acceleration. Handling is sharp with a tendency towards understeer however some handbrake and opposite lock (oh look at me) and you can slide about like a hero. I haven’t had the chance to take the car to an event like “Drift King” to really shake down the handling characteristics when oversteering but the AWD platform seems to be quite docile, easy even to drive unlike the odd 9F and it’s AWD chassis that has a tendency to want to put you in a wall wherever possible (maybe I am not very good with that car).
Bonus points need to be awarded for not being the first choice of the cashed up nutters yet shining through as the surprise package and so desirable it too like the Turismo R, looks good in the more fashionable districts. Put tasteful mods on this one with some nice wheels and maybe skip the roll cage (I put the race components on) to be uber understated cool.

Grotti Carbonizzare

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Well-proportioned but something is amiss with that front.

This is a car that has been around since the beginning and yet it is worth a mention as my late bloomer choice. I didn’t want to like this car, it looked like a Japanese sports car front and a pretty italian coachbuild in the back with a lovely roofline. Though I spent many hours staring at the back of most cars when I drive them I knew the front of the Carbonizzare wasn’t quite right and in that way it put me off.
Rewind to 2 months ago and I, like many of the other players had 500+ million dollars and nothing to do except kill things so I bought one and fully specified it until it was scary. By now I had gone through each car available and where some things were right, many experiments in car modification went wrong, for this car though it went right.
The Carbonizzare is a front engined rear drive Italian sports car sporting a high-revving V8 and I put everything that was available on it except custom tyres as the high-revving nature seemed to suggest it could drift, which it does very well. The Carbonizzare’s engine is the real party piece as it bounces off the rev limiter while you slide sideways, it’s a joy on the twisty stuff.

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Drop top mode, basking in the afternoon light.

Styling is still a little suspect with the oddity that is the front but folding origami hard top roof up or down the car is quite good looking, pretty even when you consider the curves that make the rear. Not that it really matters because you will be having too much fun executing smooth effortless drifts from street to street after which you can park it and admire… from the rear.

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With a bum like that…

More mentions:

Entity XF – Buy it, probably the best handling supercar and the second most expensive after the Adder (yuck and can’t handle ice cream in a bowl). Everyone who knows… buys the Entity for precision and performance.

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On it’s way to another race. All this car seems to do is race.

Coquette – The Corvette look alike and a little bit prettier than the real thing, it has GT racing modifications that don’t go off the handle and can really stick it to all the Sports class cars. It was my first choice for a sports car and I would do it again. Has a detachable roof so you can cruise around like a poseur or stick the carbon roof back on and race like a mad man. It has some sudden traction breakaway issues as the chassis is stiff but for the money it’s a great car that looks the business.

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Looking fine in gold. All my cars have a backstory like why she owns one and what it was for. This is an ex-racer, I say no more.

Stinger GT – If you collect then maybe you want something you can admire like poetry in motion yet standing still. Ok that’s nonsense because you want something expensive you can show off to your friends so why not drop $875K on a Ferrari 250 GTO doppelgänger? Handling characteristics are sharp… for a car from the 60s. You will also find it oversteers whenever the accelerator is depressed but it doesn’t matter when money looks this good. Opt out of getting whitewalls to spoil the look and make it properly classic, this one below uses lowrider wire spoke wheels to make it look right (original wheels are the size of bottletops).

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Pretty much all this car is great for is looking fantastic. God agreed and shone a ray of light to seal his approval.

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The economy of space

I was on a flight recently with a colleague as flying happens a fair bit to me these days, I just can’t help it as it’s my job.

We were going on a reasonable interstate hop home to Sydney and it was a Friday evening when everyone has the same idea as us so as that goes we were packed in… and the Perth Glory football team were there too so I was in esteemed company. One great big pack of people from all walks of life including as it seems the kind that are oblivious to self or outward perception to others. No I am not talking about the footballers.

I like to think I am reasonable in my calculation of my outward self to you and everyone else in my immediate vicinity mainly because I try very hard to not look like a prat. This is sometimes tainted by me cursing myself softly with my outside voice when I do something stupid in public, the action followed by some begrudging moan followed then by a small exclamation of an expletive that causes eyes to be averted and maybe a stifled giggle… from me. You may be reading this now and thinking that I am not all here, you might be right however for the next part I am sane, I promise.

Back to the plane and all I want is to get my dinner service with one of those little cans of apple fizzy drink and some extra crackers with cheese please but first to get to my seat and make sure my bag is in the overhead locker. It all goes to plan because I am early and there aren’t that many people on board yet and I know with the flight like this  it will be full so the last ones to get on will have trouble with the lockers because everyone would have taken the space up. You, mister last-to-arrive-because-the-cabbie-took-his-time-with-the-lights should have planned ahead.

So I wait patiently and my screen isn’t turning on and in general troubleshooting as you do in the tech industry you moan about how it’s all broken all while pressing the attendant button over and over again, no wait you be scientific and ask your neighbour if theirs is working, and it is, so then you moan that oh no I am going to be bored all of the flight long. You stop moaning because that is childish and a new passenger has arrived rather late into the waiting game, he is sporting a fancy tie and a sharp suit. He stops ahead of you and you assume correctly that he is sitting in front of your colleague as that is the last seat available. Now he scrunches his suit jacket up (it couldn’t have been that expensive then and I am terrible at picking who made what suit) and then stuffs it into the overhead locker followed by shoving his bags in too. Over an over slams the locker cover until a much gentler looking human who happens to be a steward deftly repacks and then proceeds to close the locker with 60% of their fingers on the one hand. Forethought is wonderful, such amazing.

Ok so you’ve had a bad day, you can’t tell width from height and the lockers are a pain in the arse but maybe sitting down and taking a load off might help. And so sitting with force isn’t exactly what I had in mind for relaxation. I don’t know about you but I like to try my best to be slight in situations like this, sometimes my 180cm frame doesn’t allow that but when I am here in this squishy plane with you I am going to try be as unobtrusive as possible. As life goes I don’t know you well and I don’t want to be in your airspace nor have you sniffing my hair and figuring out if I eat enough vegetables or not (answer: not). So when your fellow passenger in front is doing what they can to a) make it seem like an MMA match is happening right there and you can’t see anyone but by god you can tell one of the fighters has the other one in a hold and is slamming them against the seat and…b) recline like their life depended on it, you just wonder why take all this frustration out on the seat, just sit and be because surely you use less energy when you are still. Just watching it happen and not be directly affected still made me uncomfortable but my colleague survived the ordeal and is proof that you aren’t killed to certain death when the rays of the infotainment screen in front are just 5.5cm from your face… for 3 hours. Also by an astonishing feat he watched shows on his laptop while it was mostly closed owing to the fact that advanced yoga moves were involved.

Everyone on the plane is there to share the space and none more so than the economy fliers because they/we have much better things to do with the extra 3-4k we save by breathing in other people’s sweat. Maybe think about how everyone else feels next time and then just don’t do it and I will assure you the world will be a happier, just as smelly place.

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Astro A38: Short update with pictures of where I am now

This travelling has positives and one of them is figuring out how well noise-cancelling works in an aeroplane where you need it most. I had the first run with the new Astro A38s yesterday on board an Airbus A330 and I can safely say that noise cancelling works so Yay! I don’t know if there is a button to turn noise cancelling on or off so I assume the function is just on all the time because it works.

Most of this isn't audible, great view though so long as the sun isn't right in your eyes

Most of this isn’t audible, great view though so long as the sun isn’t right in your eyes

Subjective testing says to me that around 80% of noise is cut, that is the white noise from the wind and engines outside of the plane to the point where the worst of external droning is reduced to just faint wind sound. I think my old Bose QC3s used to cut nearly all constant droning sounds so this is a failing however at 1/5 the price, not so bad eh? Once the music is on play that wind noise is not really an issue anymore which is brilliant as I can then forget I am on a loud plane and instead feel like I am in my own insulated private cabin where the only interruptions come from cabin crew and even then its a good thing because they bring lovely treats or food.

One downside I can see happens to be it’s trump card in most situations and that is the wireless capability because I use Audiotechnica ANC 33iS headphones with handy airline adapter to listen to movies and TV shows. You can’t jack in to the plane seat to watch the movie with wireless headphones that don’t have a jack for the possibility of connecting to some wired source that doesn’t have bluetooth. Ah well I still pack both because compulsive.

Now please sit back and enjoy pictures… so lovlie!

Office 1

Lucky enough to work out of a place with a view. This is Perth’s concert hall on St. Georges Terrace

Swan River

This is the other view out to the Swan River, not bad just pity about all the buildings in the way

Karaage

Had chicken karaage for lunch on the first day at a really tucked away subterranean japanese restaurant called Jun. It felt authentic as it was kind of small like I imagine Tokyo restaurants are. AUD 11.80 for all the food here which isn’t half bad!