Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Mommas Little Lad Is Growing Up

I know I only posted Monday but the weekend was a big development in the whole buying a house / mortgage situation. I have had a few people ask about it so may as well write what happened to fill everyone in.

Everything has happened so quickly. Lara and I had 3 days off together a couple of weeks ago with the intention of popping into a few estate agents and seeing what was out there, maybe even take a look at a few in our time off. Lara was going to the Spurs game on the Saturday so I headed to a few in the local area to see what I could find out. How backwards is that?? She goes to the football and I go looking around Estate Agents looking for available properties. Haha. So after picking up details on around 25 properties we sat down that evening and looked through to see if any caught our eye. At one of the agents they had 3 apartments that looked pretty nice and we could look at them one after the other, so we arranged to take a look at those early on Monday morning. We saw a new built 2 bed apartment that was large enough but the shape of it was like they had a drawing competition at pre school. There were awkward corners here and there so you would never get any furniture to fit. Nice but not nice enough. No Go! The second was a place in the town centre. Once again a 2 bed apartment, this place was massive! The lounge was large the bedrooms were nice and large and the kitchen was adequate too. The one drawback, only 1 parking space! Not a major issue if you live in the sticks, but in the middle of a town centre with ticket happy traffic wardens it was an issue that we just couldn’t be bothered to deal with. No Go. Shame. The third place was another 2 bed apartment (there’s a pattern here) in a little village. It was spacious, fairly new and had tonnes of storage space, even a loft that we didn’t realise it had on first viewing. The area was lovely, the views out of the window were beautiful and there was just a nice feel to the whole thing. We looked a couple of other places but our minds always seemed to go back to that one. After a second look we decided that we really liked the 3rd one we saw. The next days in the words of Murray Walker – Go Go Go! We made an offer on the place. 5 minutes later in what seemed like the blink of an eye we had our answer. Errrrm….No! Haha. Offers batted back and forth until we made one that made him think for nearly a week, we’re in! Offer accepted and now the fun starts! You Beauty! I haven’t had many feelings like the one I had when they accepted the offer, I was buzzing. Not only had we got a place, but it was the one we wanted. Sure we could have looked at more places, but we found one that was ideal very early on, we looked a little more but why keep trying?

Before all this I couldn’t tell you anything about a mortgage, I was a complete amateur. Lara was on the same level too so we were both making the biggest purchase of our lives with no idea of how to go about it. Fixed rate, Variable, Trackers….Errrr What?? Then there is the legal side of things, Solicitors, Life Insurance, Contents Insurance, Stamp Duty and a whole array of bills that are going to come at us. It is going to be a long few weeks. We had a little advice from a couple of people just before we started looking and decided to go with a mortgage broker that someone we knew was using. We seemed to get lucky with this too, using a guy called Andy that has been excellent so far. He would go through everything with us making sure we knew every detail, explaining things to us in simple terms without being condescending. It was exactly what we needed. By the end of our near 2 hour long meeting with Andy we knew our stuff, sorted our life insurance, contents insurance and solicitors. Bingo Bango Bongo. The mortgage application has been sent off and we are waiting to hear how that comes out over the next day or two. I was always the one drawing blank looks as people talked about which mortgage is best and why, the rates going up and down the different advantages of each type, I didn’t have a clue. Now Lara and G are up on the lingo and in full swing of the biggest purchase any normal person makes in their life.

I’m sure there will be some downs, surely its inevitable, but so far we have had a smooth ride – Im hoping it stays this way throughout and doesn’t turn into a white knuckle rollercoaster. Next step I guess is looking at what furniture we like and trying to sort out how to look for what service providers to use for things. Im sure Sky + HD is the most essential and important purchase any couple can make. Hehe!

Pray for me!!!


Monday, 23 November 2009

The One Where I'm Geeky

Well here we are back again, and so quickly too.

I figured that the first one was just an introduction into things so may as well get straight into it. The latest things taking my time up are…..

Twitter – Highly simple and highly addictive!

I avoided this like the plague for a very long time. I didn’t need another social site cluttering up my time and providing me with distractions at work to get me into trouble. I know a lot of my friends aren’t on it or have no interest in being on it, a lot of them don’t even know what it’s about. But a couple of months ago I thought why not, let’s check out what all the fuss is about. So I signed up, created my basic profile and gave myself a name - @fuzzycoyote – the same as my Xbox Live handle. I’m not entirely sure how the whole FuzzyCoyote thing came about in the first place on Xbox but I like it. Twitter is such a simple process, you basically post what you are doing or up to in 140 characters or less. Sounds boring, or that’s what I thought. Where it gets interesting and addictive is by ‘following’ people, a process where you basically subscribe to someone updates or ‘tweets’ to see what they are up to (in effect, it’s a form of stalking but without being a mentalist). What’s really the selling point and why it has become such a success is that you can follow famous people. Personally I follow Jimmy Carr, Chris Moyles, Jenson Button, Russell Brand, Shaquille O’Neal a couple of others and even Barack Obama!! Jimmy Carr is hilarious to follow and often posts comedy pictures of his doings. With famous people there are inevitably fakes but once again Twitter counters this with verified profiles, so you know that the person you are following is actually who they say they are.

There are a number of clients and applications that can be used for Twitter – Tweetdeck, Twitterrific or SimplyTweet to name just a few. I personally use Twitterrific as its got everything you need to get to grips with it as a beginner and everything you could want once you become more seasoned.

I would recommend this to everyone as it’s not highly involved, doesn’t take up even a quarter as much time as you would imagine and it is very very enjoyable.

The Microsoft Xbox Update

On Tuesday (17th Nov) Microsoft rolled out an update that gives you Facebook, Twitter, Zune and Last.FM on your Xbox 360. Facebook is very basic, you can update your status and check out the news feed, look at photos and other sorts of things. You can’t change too much but you can see who is on your friends list that also has a profile on Xbox Live, very handy. I wouldn’t say it was great, I would be hard pushed to say it was good, it is adequate, you can do the very basics. I’m sure that there will be some form of update on this in the future including such things as posting photos of you playing games to Facebook or being able to access the client ‘in-game’ as currently you have to exit everything you are doing and use it separately. But for now, its ok.

Twitter on Xbox is great, the beauty is in the simplicity. As I stated above, Twitter is very uncomplicated and in being so it doesn’t need bells and whistles to do what it sets out to do. You can see tweets by the people you are following and tweet yourself with ease. The only downfall is the same as the Facebook client where you are unable to access at the same time as playing. We will see where this goes but its great so far.

Zune is probably my favourite of the 4 new things bought out. You can stream or download movies directly to your Xbox and watch in full HD if desired. How you go about this is by ‘renting’ the movie from a list of thousands by using Microsoft points purchased through your Xbox profile. If you are streaming it playback will start instantly and you have the option to watch it as many times as you want for 24 hours. Then there is the option to download the film where you will have the right to wait up to 14 days before watching and you then have the same watch as many times in 24 hours option. What makes this more than just a video viewer and becomes social is you can create or join a party to watch films simultaneously with friends online and even view a mini theatre where you can see your Xbox Avatars and make them show actions. I actually tried this out last night with my cousin Martin and it was pretty damn good. We watched Fast & Furious which was pretty decent too. It’s a switch off your mind and just watch movie but all in all good. The experience of the Zune player was on first impression excellent. Watching at the same time as someone in a totally different place while talking on a headset worked really well and the movie for the most part seemed to be playing on each TV within a second of each other, the party host can even pause, rewind and forward the movie which is reflected on all screens. The quality of the streaming was excellent and for 360M$ points (£3.06) it wasn’t exactly pocket damaging. What I did think was awful however is that each person in the party has to pay the points to watch the movie. I think it would be far better and far more useable if you paid the price BETWEEN you, reducing the cost for each person and pushing the idea ‘the more social the better’. It is for this reason that it wont become a regular thing for me but should anything change then the system they have set up for everything works and works well.

Last.FM is basically a radio client where you can search for artists, listen to genres and basically have access to millions of songs to listen to for free. Its easy to search for an artist and even has pictures that slideshow in the background while you are listening. Last.FM even remembers what you listen to and recommends new artists based on your preferences, a bit like Genius on iTunes. There is also a Last.FM application for the iPhone that I downloaded yesterday after Martin told me about it which does the same thing. I don’t know how this has skipped under my radar for so long. Its fantastic and best of all – Free!

Well, my first proper blog has been a very geeky affair, I will try to make things a bit more universal in future but these are the recent things I have been using so they are fresh in the noggin. That’s about all I can think of right now. Mortgage OVERLOAD at the moment - info to come, eeeeek!

I’m Gone like cake around a fat kid!


The One With The Average Introduction

Well………Bonjour World!!

Hmmmm……..I use the term World lightly – In all honesty it’s probably Hello Mum.

As this is the first blog I suppose I should start by introducing myself to people who don’t know me. My name is Graham and put things quite simply, I’m just your average guy. Im known as a lot of things, Graham, Grazy, Shanners, G, Crumps and even FuzzyCoyote for all you fellow geeks with Xbox Live and Twitter (@FuzzyCoyote if you want to follow me). Nothing could really define me I guess, but that’s what I’m hoping will make this interesting. I don’t have a particular field that I excel in or a complete knowledge of a certain element. I haven’t done any courses in writing so this isn’t going to confuse you, I can just tell it like it is and pretty much how it will be for 95% of the people that will be reading this, your honest everyday people.

So where to start? Well I have family, friends and a girlfriend that are definitely above average. I know everyone say it but you couldn’t ask for a better group of people to immerse your day to day life with. The family side of things is at all times eventful, I have a large family and there is always something going on, but I’m sure that will crop up from time to time in future writings. My best mate Joe who would just about do anything for me, Mr Competitive, we always have the deepest friendly rivalry and I hope that gets portrayed in this too. Then there is the Lady, Lara, just about everything you could ever wish for. She loves football, more importantly Tottenham (cue at least 50% of people to stop reading now), which is a complete bonus but when you dream of the person you hope you could end up with you never actually think it would happen, luckily for me mine did. But enough of the gag worthy love and good feeling for now - What is going on and what am I going to do?

The most major thing going on right now in my little World is that Lara and I have just had an offer accepted on house. It is a 2 bedroom apartment in Maulden, Bedfordshire. I guess that will be the main thing to document over the coming weeks, how things are progressing and the stages we are at. We only started looking last Monday, we went to see a few places and put in an offer on this one on the Tuesday. Offers were batted back and forth until we managed to get a deal this Tuesday. I have never been so chuffed. First things first we are heading to sort out some Mortgage stuff on Saturday so here’s hoping all goes well. I have heard that buying a house is one of the most stressful things you can do in your life, I have to say so far it has been fairly stress free. Although I have been called Mr Horizontal before where I’m so laid back about pretty much everything. The guy we are buying from took a while to get back on our last offer so the anticipation was always quite high but other than that it has been fairly straight forward. I guess the fun begins now. That’s about all on that front for the time being but who knows what roads we will take in the next month or two.

I don’t entirely know what I am going to review, post or link to in my blog, but what I hope is that it will be a good read and interesting to see how just your run of the mill person is affected by everyday things.

Just a quick side note – This is for you Joe to keep a permanent record of our FIFA 10 progress and show everyone just how competitive things can be.

Grazy – 3 Wins

Joe – 0 Wins

We don’t get to play all that much but seriously, you will not see a man happier on a games console than if he manages to beat me. It just means that much to both of us. Lol.

I don’t want to make this first blog too long, it’s basically an intro into me and my goings on. The second blog will follow fairly quickly with a few reviews and things like that I guess. Should I do review requests? Yeah I think I will. So if you would like me to do or watch something, play something, eat somewhere or such things like check out websites or apps on the iPhone then let me know and I will do my best to see what can be done. What I don’t think I will do is make this a history lesson, I’m going to try and look at new things rather than say do a film review on something that came out 1 month ago or before as it could get very long and very boring. I think that’s best don’t you?

So for now……. On your mark, get set, start missing me.!