I’ve been working on the railroad…

…railway, actually.  And it’s only a model one.

Anyways, about this time last year, I began working on a model railway.  Why?

It’s all that James May’s fault.  His “Toy Stories” series, especially the one about Hornby train sets, was a bit sort of inspiring.  Years ago, my father in law (a model railway enthusiast) gave us some OO gauge (the standard Hornby gauge) track and rolling stock and, following the James May programme, I got a bit out and rediscovered the joy of sticking a model loco on some track, adding a controller and making it go.  (Yes I know it’s a bit childish, but hey! it was surprisingly fun.

So, there was only one option: make my own.

The trouble is, OO gauge is actually quite big when you haven’t got tons of room.  However, N gauge, which is very roughly half OO, would be just the right size.  So, I got a starter track pack from Peco, a train (a class 91) and away we go!

Sort of.  Because, this is going to be a proper model railway, not just a train set.  So, first you have to build baseboards to fix the track onto.  So I got some wood and MDF from Wickes and B&Q and started to build them.  Trouble is, woodwork isn’t my strong point and while all the beginner’s books say “this shouldn’t be beyond anyone…” it is beyond me.  The baseboards are not well made, not square and a bit tatty.  Which apparently will make the running of the trains not so good… but it’s the best I could do.

Then, after leaving it for a few months, I actually did a bit more today and (fanfare please!) got some track laid… well, 2 points and a short straight.  Hurrah!  “Bodge Junction” (so called because pretty much everything will be a bodge job) is finally, properly underway.

Soon I’m going to have to start doing some wiring and (gulp!) soldering… here’s hoping!

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My poorly laptop…

…in fact, I think it’s more than poorly.

It was a freebie that I got with a mobile broadband deal, before they started giving away netbooks.  It’s installed with Windows Vista Basic (whoopee…) and I’ve been dual-booting with Ubuntu (with a brief dalliance with PCLinuxOS, which refused to recognise my network card).

Anyways, I’ve been buying Linux Format magazine recently and t’other month, they gave away Linux Mint on their cover DVD, which seems pretty good.  So, I decided to give it a go and install it, at the same time overwriting both my Ubuntu and Vista partitions (I don’t hate Vista as others do, but I’m not sure it’s suited to a 2ghz Celeron laptop).

It all seemed to go well at the start, but something went wrong.  I don’t know if the DVD was dicky or if my crashing into the laptop (I’d left on the floor) didn’t help, but either way it didn’t install properly.  After a while, it just sat there with the hard disk light on and the DVD clicking in the drive.  I tried rebooting (which I had to do by taking the battery out and putting it back in) and nothing.  Nada.

So, I have killed my laptop!  I hope that I’ll still be able to boot from a live CD/DVD of a distro (whether Mint or another one – haven’t decided yet) and resurrect it from there.  If not, then it’s either new hard drive for the laptop, or since my mobile broadband contract’s nearly up, see if I can get a better one on a new contract (shouldn’t be hard…).

Isn’t that a pip!