Me and the boy.

Tyler’s helping me do work.

A somewhat rare selfie.

Totally not rare.

#pottering

I built a miniature Grand Piano this morning!

Big cuddles from a little dude this morning.

Will you just eat your lunch, Tyler!

www.youtube.com/watch

This douchebag. #parking

Little surprises waiting for Ellie in the tree!

Tyler, out.

Family Christmas Picture Time-lapse (2014) - Our photo in the making!

www.youtube.com/watch

We’re doing a family photo this year! Merry Christmas!!⛄️⛄️❄️❄️

First actual ride this morning, thought I’d take it slow. #cycling

Prepping for my 2014 PC Build

I’ve invested pretty heavily in an increasingly slender and lightweight range of Macbooks for a long time now. From the pre-unibody days of the Plastic Macbook to the Haswell based 2013 Macbook Air that I’m running today. They’ve always served me incredibly well, and for the forseeable future will remain my goto; both for work and for the heavier use that my iPad just isn’t capable of supporting.

Prior to running the majority of my life from my wonderful Air, I actually lived without a personal computer for a couple of years (Partially a philosophical debate I was having with myself around the amount of time I spent on a computer and slightly depicted by my nomadic lifestle of the time). If I look back to the last time I built my own machine from scratch Pentium 4 was brand new (considered top of the line) and the choice for componenents, periperals and even cases was pretty limited.

In the years since I last built a machine my requirements have changed rather a lot, as has the budget I might have for such a build. But with that said, I have a very specific couple of use cases in mind for the build I’m about to undertake, and have set myself a rather modest budget for the task at hand. Whilst I adore my Macbook for everything from general web browsing to the more complex daily tasks my job brings to the table, there were a few major points driving my decision to build a machine.

The ability to increase storage space

I have a fast growing collection of RAW photographs and the 128GB storage of my MBA just isn’t enough. I don’t plan on building a homeserver, but the ability to expand my storage later on is really important - As is redundancy!

It would need to be small, light and quiet

The most recent PC I had was really for gaming moreso than anything else, but unfortunately due to it’s size, I had to dismantle and get rid of it during the move back to the UK. Given we have plans to move again in the near future, I want to make sure I don’t come across the same problems as last time - The ideal way to solve this is with a Micro ATX form factor case that is easily packed or stowed. Alongside my requirements for a small machine, one of my primary uses for this will be as an HTPC (Home theatre PC), and so I need to make sure it’s not sat in the background of a tense movie scene, whirring away.

Finally, it would need to be somewhat future proof

I don’t want to find myself in a years time having to upgrade the motherboard and CPU just to keep up with higher performing graphics cards. I want the option to upgrade on a whim, but also want to make sure I’m not lagging behind should I choose to stick with my current set up.

With all that in mind, and a large amount of research behind me - Below is my inital build plan for a £600 build, though this could well change as I go. I’m hoping to spend the next few weeks getting these parts together, and once I’m ready to start the build I’ll work on a build log with any challenges I faced along the way!

My Build

Machine Specs

  • Case: Bitfenix Phenom mATX (£64.99)
  • Power Supply: Corsair CX 430W Modular (£33.08)
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-H97M-D3H (£64.00)
  • CPU: Intel Core i5-4440 3.10GHz (£129.99)
  • CPU Cooler: Silverstone SST-NT07-1156 (£18.95)
  • Memory: Kingston 8GB HyperX LoVo (£70.64)
  • Graphics Card: GeForce GTX 760 ITX (£167.99)
  • Main Storage: WD 1TB Caviar Blue (£39.38)
  • SSD: Kingston 120GB (£0.00) - I already own this drive
    Subtotal: £570.07

Peripherals

  • Monitor: Dell S2340L 23" Widescreen LED (£140.00)
  • Keyboard: Coolermaster Storm (£72.89)
  • Mouse: Razer Deathadder (£47.99)
    Subtotal: £260.88
    Total: £830.95

Alternative Budgets

When looking to build a PC, the very first things you have to decide on are the main use of the PC and the budget you’re willing to allocate to the whole project. I knew ahead of time the budget I had and that I’d be looking to put togther a home theatre PC that could handle some light gaming - That made putting my parts list together fairly straight forward. If however you’re unsure, I put together an extra couple of build specs at different price points to give an idea where to start.

Lower Budget

For those with a lower budget, consider the following. This is still aimed at running the set up as an HTPC, perhaps some light gaming, too - But you’ll be running at a lower FPS on the whole across most games.

Pros: ATX motherboard allows for more storage expansion.
Cons: Lacks built-in wi-fi, utilises a lower spec graphics card, lower spec CPU, no additional CPU cooling, running only on HDD as opposed to SSD.

  • Case: Bitfenix Phenom (£69.95)
  • PSU: Corsair CX 430W (£33.08)
  • Motherboard: Asus H81M-K (£225.97)
  • CPU: Intel Core i5-4440K 3.1GHz (Haswell) (Bundled with Motherboard)
  • Memory: TeamGroup Elite Black 8GB (Bundled with Motherboard)
  • Graphics Card: SAPPHIRE AMD R9 280 (£129.99)
  • Storage: WD 1TB Black (£55.99)
    Total: £495.37

Higher Budget

Still with the same use case in mind, this build takes advantage of a higher spec parts and is slightly more future-proof than my inital build spec.

Pros: Higher spec CPU, ITX sized graphics card, Faster HDD, Higher rated PSU, Space for watercooling expansion
Cons: Limited storage expansion

  • Case: Bitfenix Phenom (£69.95)
  • PSU: Corsair AX 760W (£129.95)
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte H97N-WIFI (£94.99)
  • CPU: Intel Core i7-4790K 4.00GHz (Devil’s Canyon) (£249.95)
  • CPU Cooler: Silverstone SST-NT07-1156 CPU-Cooler (£18.95)
  • Memory: Kingston 8GB HyperX LoVo (£70.64)
  • Graphics Card: Gigabyte GeForce GTX 970 "Mini-ITX" (£289.99)
  • Storage: WD 1TB Black (£55.99)
  • Storage: Kingston 240GB V300 (£75.00)
    Total: £1,055.41

I Quit Smoking and Learned a Few Things

I guess I’m not entirely proud of the fact that I’ve been a smoker for a good long while — 9 years to be exact. For a long time now I’ve wanted to quit, I knew that quitting was the right thing to do, but I somehow always convinced myself that it would be easier to not bother. There was seemingly always a reason not to, but I finally made the decision to quit (just over a month ago) and since then I’ve noticed some bizarre changes in my life, things I’d not really anticipated and was genuinely shocked by.

Taste

I have drunk coffee for years and in all that time I have only ever ordered my drink one way; Black, no sugar. I absolutely adored the bitter taste and as time went on I found that I was looking for more flavor, a lighter roast and different infusions of taste. At point I dare say, I even began drinking too much coffee and really had to scale back my intake so as to not make myself ill. It had been a long-lasting love affair, but within about two weeks of my quitting smoking, I found that I just couldn’t stand the bitter, dry-mouth inducing taste of my (previously essential) coffee.

For the first couple of weeks I really had to stray away from coffee — Instead I found myself reaching for a cup of tea, which for a short time sufficed, but was just not the same. I’ve since managed to build myself back up to the strong flavours I was used to, but it certainly doesn’t seem the same as before.

That said, it’s not all bad on the taste front! Since quitting smoking, food has never tasted so good. Everything is sweeter, spicier, and more flavoursome than before. My family recently moved to a healthier diet and it couldn’t have happened at a better time. Never before have I found such enjoyment from the flavours of food.

Smell

Another changed I noticed (And this is probably to be expected in most cases) is that I just cannot stand the smell of cigarette smoke anymore. To clarify, the smell associated with someone else breathing smoke has always been utterly vile, but I guess over time I’d learned to enjoy the smell of a lit cigarette. Now however I find myself offended on a fairly consistent basis, by the ghostly odor of smoke.

Battery Life

What I think to be the most unexpected side-effect of my quitting smoking though, something I could never have imagined would have been the case, and now affects me day to day, is the length of time my phone batter now lasts! Historically I would take my phone off charge around 6:30am and usually by around dinner time I’d be looking to get my phone plugged in for the evening top-up. Granted my phone’s battery life has declined significantly as my reliance on the device has increased, through software updates and functionality changes this had been something I’d learned to accept.

Now it seems, taking my phone off charge first thing in the morning, I find myself not having to charge my phone until the following morning! That’s usually not the case though — I’ve become accustomed to charging my phone each evening and for the foreseeable future that ritual will stand.

I guess the amount of time I spent standing outside, smoking a cigarette and flicking through apps on my phone must have consumed about 50% of my phone’s battery life — Absolutely shocking.

I’d love to know if anyone else who has quit smoking noticed anything out of the ordinary in their day to day life?

charleighbest:

I love my veggies! Sprouts are definitely a firm favourite. There is Broccoli in there too, but it’s hiding. 

Healthy eating ftw.

garden-of-vegan:

Teriyaki Peanut Tofu with Stir-Fried Veggies & Brown Rice {via ilovevegan.com}

visitheworld:

Grassy path leading down the hills to the reservoir, Malvern Hills / England (by flash of light).

Today, our son was born.

Tyler James Clarke.

It was absolutely spectacular.

The Birth of Our Son

Today was an incredibly special day.

Our son (expected 10/5/14) decided to join us early, and was welcomed in to the world with open arms and unending love. Now for some well deserved rest from work and the opportunity to spend time with the newest member of our beautiful family.

Bridge Road, Richmond