Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Airline Screening Playset

The biggest departure from reality was that the passenger had a cheery smile on her face
The Airline Screening Playset

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Are they mad? Or is it me?

Using my Mac I can't download from Microsoft, because I'm not running a genuine copy of Microsoft Windows. Well, *_der_*. The Microsoft MSDN subscriber downloads I can understand, they use the completely ridiculous File Transfer Manager - some crappy "download manager" from 1999 given a tart up and stamped with the MS brand - to restrict access. My employer (who pays for the MSDN subscription) uses a Microsoft proxy server which the file manager won't go through [my irony detector is tingling] so I used to download things at home and burn them onto CD for work. This file transfer software won't work on a Mac of course.

Edit: this includes products like Virtual PC for Mac - you need to be using Windows within Virtual PC on a Mac in order to download Virtual PC on a Mac. As my MSDN subscription comes on DVD and my iBook doesn't have a DVD drive it is annoying not to be able to simply download the item, but as we can all observe the sky is still in place.

Well, if protecting Microsoft's market share was the purpose of this restriction, then it has kind of worked - I will have to keep a PC around still. Not that I am angling to get rid of it - I am looking forward to trying Microsoft Vista, and I read today that I will get the full AquaGlass experience as I have a fancy graphics card I bought to play Doom 3 twice, and I am itching to see how much they have ripped off from OSX. Have to solve the no-monitor-attached problem, though, I suppose. Still, Vista's not going to be out for a long time yet.

But then I was interested in the Vista User Experience guidelines - user interface and design recommendations for the new operating system. Not so fast! I am told: "You are not using Windows. Fuck Off" [paraphrased]

Again I have to use Windows before I can read about Windows? How do they ever expect to win any converts to this new recursive operating system of theirs??

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Even Christ Stumbled

I didn't think I'd care when George Best died - he was Man U, I'm not quite old enough to remember him playing - but I do. He was a fantastic player, and he was brave as fuck on the pitch as well as off. We won't see his like again, he was a man of his time. Waste of a liver though.

Friday, November 25, 2005

He's right, of course

The ID card debate in the U.K. is all about population control - it's about controlling immigration, not terrorism. It is unfortunate that the U.K. isn't having that debate properly.
Bruce Schneier
Perhaps because we are too well controlled already.

Going Postal

Don't bomb Al Jazeera! or his brother Kevin Jazzera.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Rachel North

A bomb was detonated on my London Underground carriage on 7/7/2005, killing 26 people behind me...
Read what she says about civil liberties.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Remote needs new batteries.

Meet Crypto Cat™ and Decipher Dog™

NSA 4 kids. Woh looc si taht!


I was coming home once on holiday with a stolen hotel towel, which was discovered by customs (I recall myself as wearing a stetson at the time, which was the fashion. In my house anyway)

The airport copper said something to me I have never forgotten:

I'll let you go, if you promise me something in return: if you ever see a copper getting his head kicked in, you'll help him [presumably by phoning for more police..]

So the police want to know what the public want? Here's my list.

  • Don't carry guns. Resist efforts to arm police. Make drawing a gun the last resort (let alone using one). Routinely suspend officers who draw their guns, let alone use them. Don't carry them at airports, train stations, party conferences, *anywhere*. Try and learn the lesson of Jean-Charles de Menezes, essentially by making sure it never happens again. Random executions of innocents makes us feel very uneasy.

  • Don't ask for internment [detaining suspects without trial] or similar police state powers. Resist any attempts to impose such injustices. If your suspects don't confess after a fortnight, why should they after three months? Do you think they might get bored? Or are we going to take up torture, like the US?

  • Don't try to scare us with this "threat" crap. We're not Americans, we grew up with terrorism and bombs and carnage and "don't-go-up-west-to-do-your-XMAS-shopping-cos-the-IRA-are-going-to-bomb-Oxford-Street" which we heard every fucking year in life.

  • The role of the police is not, and never has been, to fight terrorism. That's the job of CI5 or MI6. Try catching criminals, you seem to find that hard enough anyway.. We won't blame you when terrorist actions occur now, any more than we blamed you for Guildford, Birmingham etc. While I'm at it - please make a point to aim in future to try and convict the actual perpetrators of the crime, instead of some people who simply match an ethnic profile.

  • Oppose ID cards.

Simply, you need to champion the rights of the public, and to minimise the powers of the Force (how aptly named..) to the minumum needed to do the job we pay you to do. Then we might grow to trust you again.

See, it's not just about how we the public define you the police - it's really about how you define yourselves. Do you [like John Self in Money on reading 1984], see yourselves as "ambitious young corporals in the Thought Police" or do you see yourselves as the guardians of public liberty? I wonder.

And while I'm on the subject, I justify the title of this post with memories of Orgreave and the Battle of the Beanfields. Bastards. And I still think Ian Blair should resign.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Don't feed the monkeys

"Protect the airspace and homeland" with the Sky Posse. Idiots.

out-geeking rangor

Hide files in TinyURLs with TinyDisk.

Edit: From the faq:

Q: This damn thing doesn't work on large files! #@%& You!
A: Did you not read the manual? Man I wish I could punch you in the face over TCP/IP!
he says what we're all feeling..

There were 150 of us living in a shoebox in t' middle o' road

If you're after an Oculas then look no further - have to have a Mac keyboard fitted, mind.

Friday, November 04, 2005

The Asian earthquake that didn't result in a Tsunami

Eid is a time for giving to charity, DEC is the place to do it. Given the choice between saving lives and not saving lives, what can you do?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Have you got news for me?

Jon "My Ace Blog" and Shirley got tickets for tonight's recording (at the ITV London Studios on Upper Ground, SE1) of Have I Got News For You [a topical TV program featuring the current Funniest Living Englishman, Mr Paul Merton] and were kind enough to invite us to go with them. The tickets are free but they overissue them to ensure a full house..

The London orbital was jammed anti-clockwise (we dropped LO off with her Aunt Margaret & Family who live a couple of junctions clockwise) so we had to detour through the shithole I grew up in, which was as jammed with traffic as it's been every day for the last 30 years. Gripped with loathing, I followed the signs like a drone instead of striking out and looking for a clearer route.

Still, we got in in the end, and London was just totally rammed full of traffic, as if giant hydraulic presses were forcing cars where it seemed no more cars could go. As if that wasn't bad enough, I was discombobulated and missed a couple of turns. At one point I turned right when I should have gone straight on and had to redrive some of the Mitcham one-way system - not a big deal, but another delay. I remarked something like "Sorry about that one more minute of delay more but in the scheme of things it won't make any difference".

We got to the ITV London Studios at door opening time, seven o'clock - we had planned to arrive at six, everone else got there at five by the sound of it - and joined the end of the long queue. Some poeple joined the end after us, but they were queuing to see Parkinson, and scuttled off. At that point, we were warned that we may not get in by an employee of the production company who had counted the queue. The thing is, you never know, you _might_ get in.. maybe some people in the queue would change their mind, leave their tickets at home, feel ill, spontaneously combust.. and then some poeple joined the queue after us, a dozen or so, so we felt better.

We queued for about half an hour, until 7.30 came which is No Further Admittance time. We weren't in, but we were close. At this point we were next to the bronze cast handprints of ITV's A-list - Davina McCall and Beck's mum's old boyfriend Des Lynam (_big_ hands) were the one's I've heard of.

We were at the very very front of the queue, our noses pressed to the glass of ITV's warm cheesy lustrousness, when the bad news eventually came that they were full. The compensating good news was to follow rapidly - we would receive priority tickets "with a dot on" for a forthcoming recording, which means none of this queuing lark, straight to the front and into the best seats. It was a relief to be told that the last seats available have extremely limited views - "You'd only see Paul Merton [FLE] walk on and you'd see him walk off, you're better off watching it on TV".

We went to a cavernous diagonal Pizza Express across the road. We did recall the Mitchum redrive incident, but everyone was kind enough to represent it as the difference between seeing the recording while separated singly through the audience wherever the view was worst, versus going back to London in a couple of weeks time and seeing it from the best seats, with no queuing. If we drive again - the studios are close to Blackfriars, which is easily accessible by train from Brighton - I can take my car, which is currently having a new cylinder head gasket fitted. That should be much more comfy for the overall journey, Becky's is a town car, albeit one with a rocket for an engine.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Today we are all Seagulls

Environmental campaigners claimed the stadium would ruin the views for the 32 million visitors who walk across the Downs each year.
Brighton stadium given go-ahead
I know Falmer (the site of Brighton's new football stadium) well: I attended one of the two universities contained within the village, both of which have thousands of students, sports pitches, accommodation - and there's a massive Racquet club in one of the as well..
The Esporta Brighton Health and Racquet Club situated on the Falmer Campus was opened in November 1998. With three pools, 10 indoor tennis courts, a large fitness suite, squash courts and an activity studio – this is one of the South East’s premier leisure facilities.
Esporta Brighton Health and Racquet Club, Falmer

Another thing about Falmer is that I drive every day to work on the bypass [A27] that goes throught the middle of the village. Falmer is after all on or just outside Brighton city limits (one of the reasons it's taken so long - Falmer is in East Sussex) - it's hardly the "Gateway to the Downs".
Eventually it was time to drop down to the A27. There I left the South Downs Way and walked along the noisy highway for two miles until I reached Falmer rail station and the train back to Hove.
A South Downs Way Story - Southease to Falmer

I don't see 32 million people walking alongside the A27. I don't see 32 million people when I'm up at the [other] Falmer sports centre playing squash.. I don't see 32 million people in either university. These environmental campaigners are lying, by the evidence of my own eyes.

The other reason it's taken this long is that old class thing, because it's nasty old football after all. Well, I'm looking forward to the very proud day when I can take my children to Falmer to see the Brighton Aces. Thank you John Prescott, thank you very much.

Monday, October 17, 2005


I fail 9/10 of the weblog usability top ten design mistakes. A choice quote:

Having a weblog address ending in etc. will soon be the equivalent of having an email address or a Geocities website: the mark of a naïve beginner who shouldn't be taken too seriously.

Friday, October 14, 2005

But how did they know..?

Hit ENTER. It will now ask for your password. If you don't know it, it is probably "bovinity."

Even down to the trailing full-stop. Any suggestions for a replacement?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Remove post?

Google's Remove Result feature allows blocking entire domains from search results. Sounds useful for blocking those annoying sites which always respond to queries somehow.. personalised search must be enabled (ie Google account required) - note this records your search history, although you can stop it from doing so.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Evey time I use my browser's back button on our bank's website I get this message and have to log in again:

The browser's navigation functions and keyboard shortcuts have been disabled for security reasons and because the internet banking service has been designed to be more accessible to all customers, including those with disabilities.
Oh, really. I'm sure your disabled customers thank you for breaking the navigation metaphor used by every other web page and then providing a hopelessly inadequate internal navigation system with gems like:
clicking on 'back' will take you to your 'home' page
That's the back button on the web page, not the browser of course. They also have links that aren't visibly cued as links, a failure of accessibility and just bad design. Still, my cheque has cleared ;-)

Friday, October 07, 2005

Thanks for that

The Guardian does a weekly tv guide/review/listings on saturdays. This week's issue describes Brighton as "somewhere people go to drink wheat beer and dress like Australians". Says more about the man than the place if you ask me (I'm guessing that 'Rohn' is a male name)

Thursday, October 06, 2005


Fancy working for Microsoft? Read this first.

No one touched my balls

I stood on an airport concourse for fifteen minutes with my wife and baby daughter the other day so we could queue to be photographed for use between the landing gate and baggage collection: a distance which would be a hundred yards in any well-designed airport (about half a mile at Gatwick, then). Then I had to report a lost bag and was whisked back airside with only my printed ticket email for identification. Hmm. Still, if I ever get to go to a football game again at least I won't have to put up with this indignity.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Uh... this is awkward

I can't get my G4 to recognise my Apple Pro Keyboard's layout - it thinks, for example, that the @ symbol is above the 2, when in fact it is of course "

Edit: it's a Danish keyboard...

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Katzen's humus

1.5 cups raw chickpeas, soaked and boiled, drained and mashed
3 cloves garlic, mashed
Dash of tamari [a Japanese soya sauce, very pure]
Juice of 2 lemons
3/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup packed chopped parsley
black pepper, dash cayenne, salt if you like it.
1/4 cup minced spring onions

Prepare chickpeas, add other ingredients, chill.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Doesn't WFM any more.

I'm losing interest in much of this blog. It's too one-way, and too identifiable.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Ich bin ein guardianer

I've been reading the Guardian since 1978 - tomorrow it changes size from broadsheet to berliner. Go Guardian!

Edit: WTF has happened to Doonesbury??
Edit2: it's back next week. Thank Ian "I remember when he was the office boy" Katz for the hiatus.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Cookbooks #2 - Moosewood #1

I have a precious but completely fucked original edition of the Moosewood Kitchen by Mollie Katzen. This is my version of the tabouli (tabbouleh) recipe: 1 cup = 1 ordinary (ie half pint) mug, in my kitchen anyway: whatever you use, be consistent. Serves a bunch of people.

Combine 1 cup dry bulghar wheat, 1½ cups boiling water, and 1 level teaspoon salt in a bowl, cover or clingfilm, leave for 20 minutes. Stir (there shouldn't be much or any liquid left)

Add ¼ cup olive oil, ¼ cup lemon &/or lime juice (more lemon results in a sharper dish), garlic as you wish (please see the comments) and half a teaspoon of dried mint. Mix, and cover again. Pop in the fridge for at least a few hours: overnight is fine.

A while before serving, add a bunch of spring onions, chopped with some of the green included, some finely chopped tomatoes, and as much parsley as you can manage. Katzen suggests 1 packed cup of chopped parsley.. If you've used a lot of garlic you need to use lots of parsley. Add black pepper, and more salt of needed.

You can add all sorts of other things: chopped peppers, grated carrot, chopped olives (yuk), cubed cucumber. My favourite addition is feta cheese, though. Mmm.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Internet Explorer safe at last

Yes, even connected to a network. IE7 (beta 1) can be started with the -extoff switch to open with no add-ons or activex. Now if only that was the default..

Here's a screen shot - note the dark grey square new tab button in the middle. The button between the location and search bars goes one step further than Safari's equivalent - it trebles up as Go, Stop and Refresh.

Each tab gets it's own menu and toolbar set, I'd be surprised if that was in the final release, unless you could make customised settings the default for each tab (maybe you can, I didn't try)

I was checking to see if it still messed up the borders on a site and yes it still does, but this list makes me think it's probably fixed by now.

Comment scum

I have to stop comments for unregistered users as they're being stuffed by spammers. Edit: now I've had to use the "word picture" thing as I was then spammed by registered user spammers, what a complete pain they are, bloody spammers. First they killed email, now they're killing blogs.
Edit 2: Now anyone can post again, if they can read the word picture thing. Previously though:

I've set up an account if you can't be arsed to register one: username stuartdcomments password wordsofwisdom. Sigh. I don't know why I stick with blogger. Probably because all the alternatives are about as bad, I've used a few. "I should write my own" ROFL


Pasta is down so I will have to bore you with this: evaluate this code in the JavaScript console to restart Firefox.


Sunday, August 28, 2005

It's a team performance stupid

To the tune of "Tube Disasters" by Flux Of Pink Indians

I love Andrew Flintoff
I want to marry an Andrew Flintoff
I want another one like the last one
Cos I live for Andrew Flintoff yeah

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Anthony Delano Walker RIP

Excuse me, but am I on the right planet?

Time for work judo, as all the systems me 'n' Rangor have written have suddenly deemed doubledoubleplusplusungood by the Ministry Of Transmogrification: they (and consequently we) are to be replaced forthwith. Unequivocally. Aegis (the general name for the application suite) is to be extirpated, root and branch. Discarded like a soggy old goatskin.

Aegis, fittingly in this context, is a rare rhyme for egregious.

Work judo is like regular judo: use your opponent's power against them: divert their attacks, dilute their resolve, undermine their foundations. I was only a green belt at regular judo: maybe blue, I seem to remember the sensei having pity on me. Maybe not. Judo also teaches you to fall without hurting yourself: that might be more useful.

The title of this post is a slight alteration of part of the public signature used by a Mr J Dyson on some lists I lurk on. He is the only person ever to have two hits in my signature file, and the other is my all time favourite:

Next time, let's screw it up my way first

Friday, August 19, 2005


Mo Mowlem and Robin Cook would've probably lived longer if they hadn't been politicians: it's a tough job. They were both dedicated and effective public servants, and I hope the next generation of Labour politicians is at least half as capable and principled and determined as them. It seems far too much to expect the newbies to equal let alone surpass their measure, as it is the sum of their accomplishment we remember them for: they both stood firm through the bad times and the good, while staying true to themselves when it counted. Hail and farewell.

Bits of a post or a post of a bit

I broke the scissor-cross on my "y" key yesterday, and the "u" key came off (Mac keyboards use a scissor-cross mechanism to minimise key travel) - I can get replacement keys, but I can't seem to fit the scissor back over the lower hook - any tips?

I've been accused of cowardice myself recently

Breathing while black

I think we can all understand that the police who shot Jean Charles de Menezes were scared and panicing, their procedures had fallen apart, and that they made a terrible mistake. It seems clear that the protocol they were acting under are fundamentally flawed, but then we don't know the details of the shoot-to-kill policy (not the first time this has been adopted by a UK government - I remember John Stalker's enquiry into executions in Belfast) - let's just hope no terrorists have ever been train drivers and used a dead-man's-handle, and that none of them are old enough to remember when war films had a standard sequence involving the hero holding two hand-grenades with the pins pulled defying the villains to shoot him.

Sir Ian Blair should resign. I appreciate he has stuck up for his officers, but this is now a big enough failing of procedure and protocol to warrant it - it's effectively a random execution by the Met of someone they think is vaguely suspicious. When I hear in the news about the security plans for the Labour party conference involving large numbers of armed police I feel like saying we'll all stay in for the duration. I don't want me or anyone else to be executed just because the police fuck up again.

And then, and this is worst of all, they have lied about it and tried to cover it up: when you cover up an honest mistake, it turns into a dishonest act. Jean Charles' memory and family deserves better: after the Met executed him, they tried to portray him as a suicide bomber: that is a despicable act of cowardice, a disgrace. RESIGN!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

New Marx Please

Capitalism, hate it or loathe it - you can't help but admire it sometimes.


Sunday, August 14, 2005

Lucky bleeders, lucky bleeders

Found a programming language consisting entirely of whitespace (tabs, spaces, and line feeds). This is some of their example code:

Although this is of course a fully functional language, I liked the subtlety of this joke:
Whitespace is a particularly useful language for spies. Imagine you have a top secret program that you don't want anyone to see. What do you do? Simply print it out and delete the file, ready to type in at a later date. Nobody will know that your blank piece of paper is actually vital computer code!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Brighton Elm

The local TV news tonight reported that Brighton has one of only two elm tree populations left - of course the news item was prompted because a diseased tree in Preston Park was being photogenically cut down. Still, there must be at least some possibility they are right (they may have omitted such qualifiers as "in Sussex" or "in Britain", who knows.)

Thursday, August 04, 2005

ID me #2 - your papers please

I've been thinking for a while about biometric ID cards.

It doesn't matter what biometric is chosen, there are people who simply cannot authenticate by the method chosen. A man with no eyes cannot take an iris identification test: a woman with no hands cannot take a fingerprint test. The managers among you might say "Do Both!" but let's suppose there's someone out there with no eyes and no hands, Mr Double-Hamza. He still needs to authenticate himself. How is the ID infrastructure to cope? Are people with no eyes and no hands to be issued certificates allowing them to bypass security checks? You're the security guard, I have dark sunglasses, hooks and long sleeves, and a certificate. Are you going to question my certificate? Are you going to shine a torch into my eyes to see if my retina shrinks, are you going to tug on my hooks? Of course, in reality there would only be one biometric not two, which increases the number of poeple who can't authenticate.

I can hardly conceive that anyone reading this could ever have criminal intentions, but identities will become hugely valuable commodities if ID cards become reality. Buy now!

One fundamental question is whether we see ourselves as people or as data - at the moment, we are people about who the government 'has data': some here, some there, most right and some wrong. A precept of the ID scheme is that the government will have to establish a central database of it's subjects (not even a citizen in your own country) and when there's a central database people start thinking about it as the primary source of information. You become a datum in a database, then you have to prove your identity ("authenticate as a registered user" if you like) before you can make any transactions, or pass through a barrier to a station or a stadium or school.

This is always a conceptual error. Databases (or at least useful ones) represent a subset of attributes of something real: decisions made about those real entities need to be made about their actual properties and not what might be stored in the database. A database of CDs has titles, artist, and tracks. It doesn't store when you first listened to them or why you used to listen to one of them all the time, which ones you secretly hate, any of a hundred billion other possible human attributes. The database has a few token properties which make it useful as a lookup device once you have decided what to put on, but while you are deciding what CD to play you look at the discs and decide what to play using the non-database human attibutes like who is with you, what mood you are in, what the weather is like: the valuable information is in the relationship between you and your CDs, not in the CD database.

I recognize there may be value in a imperfect implementation of a national database to the government but I don't believe that means there's any value in it for us (and it will cost us a packet). I don't really mind so much being part of a national catalogue, it's the "your papers please" aspect that bothers me, as in the title of this post. (Have you heard the Gestapo joke.. no, this isn't the time)

Of course, we'll be all right - it will be the most vulnerable in society will suffer the most difficulties with authority from ID cards - people with mental health problems or who are learning disabled, asylum seekers, Romanies, travellers, anarchists, punks, crazies, runners, serial name-changers. How can you keep track of people who don't want to be kept-track-of? How do they expect to be able to keep track of all this information anyway? You come immediately right up against inherent limitations of software - because a computer isn't always right, it just always produces the same answer.

I looked at some of the problems involving matching people before: even after the huge push to get everyone's details right you're going to need a big staff of smart people to make the decisions about who is who but now calls herself whatever, and you're going to need them forever. Computer systems never make decisions: the decisions are made in advance by the person who specifies how the computer system is going to behave, and the programmer implements these decisions in the program. When the end user types in the parameters, the little wheels whirr and click until the required answer is output by the tiny computer-things (sorry to get all technical there).

Yes, I suppose some of these are edge cases, but that's where the fun is to be had. When authentication breaks, what do we fall back on? What happens when criminals exploit that fallback? Can whole organisations be disrupted with tar on an iris scanner? Will they pay to avoid it happening again? What if it happens every week?

Also, if information can be accessed legitimately, it can and will be accessed illegitimately. How much will it cost to illicitly trace ex-wives, estranged families, absconded business partners, or hated bullies? If everyone has a tracked identity, everyone can be found, for a price.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The new old thing

So, I've been using a new version of Internet Explorer on Virtual PC. I installed Internet Explorer 7 the other day (I have a MSDN subscription at work) - but that isn't it, I haven't even tried it yet. No, I installed my old copy of Windows NT 4 workstation yesterday for the first time since 1999. What a palaver that installation is.. fortunately the CD is bootable as I have no floppy drive anymore of course. So, NT build 1381 includes Internet Explorer 2, which is sort-of a browser. It definitely has issues with HTTP: won't connect to Apache sites, HTTP downloads simply don't work. It has no support for CSS or JavaScript (as I can see) or anything developed after 1995. I'm fairly sure I never used IE2 back in the days (see passim) Wonderful! Like stepping back in time. Check out evolt, they have some even older versions too.

I was after the final service pack update (SP6) for NT - that would allow me to access my local disks (there's an addon for Virtual PC which allows the hosted operating systems to swap data with the host but it requires SP6. In fact, very few programs will install on NT without at least SP3) But I couldn't download it from any web sites. Internet Explorer 2 is a working FTP client though, so I went to and downloaded Firefox 1.0.6 installer - but it wouldn't install. Started, but silently exited. I got the zip version, but I couldn't get WinZip by FTP, and no HTTP downloads were working, and I can't access my local disks. I considered uploading WinZip to a temp ftp locatgion, but my network card is dropping the connection and throwing 4202 TCP/IP errors or somesuch, giving me no chance of making the upload (128k is my upload - I am lucky to get 10k per second)

So I got Mozilla 1.0.2 via FTP: - installed and works perfectly. I don't want to upgrade the install now, I am enjoying the nostalgia of old software. I have a Windows NT Server disc at work (and I've grown my Virtual PC partition) so I think I might install that so I can run Internet Information Server 2!

Sunday, July 31, 2005


God said to Abraham "Kill me a son!"
Abe said "Man, you must be putting me on?"
God said "No!"
Abe said "What??"
God said "You can do what you want Abe but, uh, the next time you see me coming: you'd better run.."
Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited

What a terrible month July was - the bombs killing so many innocent people. Then the second wave of bombers: that day, it seemed for a second like news from a stale cache, when the lack of explosive impact became clear, though, I started thinking about other desired outcomes for the attackers - specifically misdirection with criminal motivation. I imagine a few people in places like Hatton Gardens thought the same and, like me, felt bad when it turned out to be incompetent explosives instead. (1)

Then Jean Charles de Menezes was executed for running away from the police. (2) Now there is the news of the Niger famine, the pictures of starving and dying children that the news organisations know wll prompt us (parents anyway) to donate from well-fed guilt. (3)

The only positive was the IRA ending their armed campaign. They could hardly bomb London again now, though, could they?

You wonder what it takes for people to bomb their own - or, alternatively, what it takes to see your own as the enemy. But then there's the murder of Anthony Walker - I just don't know what to think. I might say "brew a million human beings and one of them will be truly evil" but it's one thing saying it and another seeing it. It looks like I'm grossly understating the figures, as well.

In local news, seven people were arrested in Brighton last night in terrorism related yada.

(1) If you were a criminal mastermind planning something like a diamond robbery, you might consider the option of bribing a moody imam to recruit some idiots to fake some explosions to distract the Met from your heist. Or - much more likely - your screenplay..

(2) It used to be Met policy that any firearms police who actually discharged a round - let alone unloaded eight rounds into a helpless prone person's head - was immediately removed from armed duty. Not as a punishment, not even as a precaution, but as a protocol: the armed officers were trained not to use their guns if there was any alternative. They probably don't do that anymore though.

(3) Imagine being the news producer who has to tell an appeal that No, their famine isn't newsworthy enough to be on the news. No media exposure, no donations, more dead children.

Regret nothing

I am usually proud of my mobile's antiquity and uselessness but I wish I could get this Crazy Frog tamagotchi: I'm surprised no-one connected tamagotchis and mobiles before, the identical screen size should have been a clue. [Edit - I am wrong, of course - Becky has bought an old Samsung 800 which has a "pet" game]

I still sometimes play the Viz "Queen Mum Tamagotchi" for laughs - you feeds her swans and gin, and give her the heimlich when she chokes. Hilarious, but no longer available from Viz - let me know if you want a copy. I have never made her survive more than half a lunchbreak anyway (eventually too many swans get stuck in her throat)

Friday, July 22, 2005

ID me

I once did a match between a database of ~25,000 people to one of ~250,000 - the smaller being more-or-less a subset of the larger. It was a few years ago, but I remember being stuck with nearly a thousand cases where my matching rules had failed, and I wasn't being very strict: I expect a match on surname, first initial, date of birth and title/gender would have been enough for that match (you need title or gender because of "John and Jane Smith - twins, resident at same address, known by initial only").

When you do these kind of matches, you end up with two distinct but closely related problems:

  • Two records which appear to be two different people in fact relate to one person
  • Two records which appear to be the same person in fact relate to two different people
There can be more than two of course, and these ambiguous or even fictitious (clerks get bored, people lie) records may be in the same database or different - nobody's data is perfect.

I registered my disapproval of the concept of ID cards the other day, I aimed on a whim to be the 10,000th person but missed because I hadn't sussed I had to register to confirm the pledge via an email address and gmail was being very slow. If you secretly wanted to sign up but were too pussy, you can still contribute.

Anyway, after I had done the automated match I had to sit and go through the list of partial matches, deciding who was who and who wasn't. It's a decision only a human being can make (as a programmer I say that advisedly) and they need as much information as they have or can get to make the best possible match. For an ID card that might mean knowing who you call or email, or where you've been, or who you know - to make the distinction the analyst is using all the information she has to decide who you are. As long as you're happy with that.

Windows tip # 1

Alt-tab toggles between applications. I never realised this, I used to use alt-tab back when you'd only have a couple of programs open at a time, but more or less gave up when Windows 95 implemented the taskbar and computers were capable of running a dozen apps or more. I thought that you just used it to tick along the list of applications until you come to the one you need: and, more or less, that's what it does, except it does a very clever thing after that.

I don't know what criteria Windows uses to order the list it offers, but it doesn't really matter: after you have navigated to the new app, it puts where you came from next in the list. That means that no matter how many alt-tab-tab-tab-tabs it took you to get you where you are, it only takes one alt-tab to get back where you were, and so suddenly you're toggling between applications as it does the clever thing again, so now you can alt-tab between the two apps. The same applies to command-tab on Mac OS, unsurprisingly.

From a usability point of view this is a neat feature - at least, once you know it's there it's very useful. But there's no discoverability except accident, so that makes it effectively a useless feature. There's no guarantee I will remember it next week, though obviously writing it down helps :-). Try it: when it's what you need, it's exactly what you want, or is it the other way round..

I found it out from trawling through the Joel on software archives. Always something for a developer there, even if it's just something to disagree with. But he used to work for Microsoft, so finding out about a feature from someone who used to work at the company who produces the product doesn't count as real discoverability in my ibook.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Broadcast news

This blog is now being broadcasted into space, so a big human hello to all my new alien readers. I hope my old alien readers don't get jealous..

Friday, July 15, 2005


I submitted a 'sight' (mmm) to Google Sightseeing - a bizarre landscape in the north of Alaska - just beautiful and very weird, which I think looks more like a painting than a map. As you zoom in it just gets weirder: like a mandelbrot set detail is revealed at each level. The whole area is bizarre, the ground looks to have been stretched so thin holes have been torn through. Oh, and on the left hand side is a Lizard Lake. I found the spot totally by accident using this implementation of Google maps, it was where I clicked before I understood the interface. Perhaps it's the middle of the world?

Then I found this and I poked about on Wikipedia and Google: the lump on the left of Alaska - containing the crimson mountains - is called "Seward's Peninsula". The area ref1 map the red mountains are called the Kigluaik Mountains tourist info (maybe can use vitty lie go (vitiligo) card to secure travel to cold holiday destination??)

the weather there - hmm.

this explained by photos - Parts of the Arctic tundra take on a golden brown color in the summer..?

Biggest town is on the south coast of the lump and called Nome. There's no place like Nome, ha ha..

Seward was the man who bought Alaska from Russia (it is an exclave - not physically contiguous with the other North American states) for seven million dollars many years ago. Alaska was regarded as "Seward's Folly" for some time. Must remember to go and check facts vs memory..

Friday, July 01, 2005

Cookbooks #1 - Delia

I have a copy of Delia Smith's Cookery Course Part One (1978, accompanied the BBC televisions series of the same name) and one of the recipes I use from it is for pizza dough. It's striking that even then Delia felt the need to explain what a pizza was:

One of the nicest ways of eating bread is as a 'pizza' - freshly-baked bread dough with delicious fillings melting and bubbling on top
Let's not dwell on how a filling could be on top of anything, and instead remember the times: olive oil was for clearing out your ears, peppers were for foreigners, avocadowhato, rocket was for going to the moon. We used to make nutritious food out of what we had: now we have everything and make nothing, and all the processed food we buy is made of poisons and held together by glue. If you can buy local and fresh, that's the best food you can get.

How to fold a tshirt

By my Hara! I have finally seen the video of how to fold a tshirt. Itchy hoko! Genius.. can't wait to try it.

[Edit] You should see my pathetic attempts! ~Comical.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Reminder: Don't Ever Open Your PC

This is so I don't forget and break it.

I got fed up with arsing around behind my computer so I got a PCI card/front-panel combo firewire and USB2 thing for the iPod, Beck's shuffle, cameras etc. I managed to get it in, but I almost had to stretch the internal wires than connect the panel to the PCI card: as I got it clicked into place and my arm was pulling out, I had exactly half an inch of clearance.

This means I can't now open the box without first shoving my arm in, disconnecting the clips that hold the panel in, and removing the panel. Then I can open the box.

I might wait until Daisy is a bit older and get her to help me. I've no more reason to go in the box now, as it won't take more than 512MB of RAM (thanks a million, Dell, I won't be buying from you again @ £813.99 or any other price) and is thus rapidly becoming useless for any serious work, especially now I am using Virtual PC a lot (it's instructive to use Windows 98 and VFP6 for a change, a reminder of how much things have improved)

Edit: Not only does the front panel no longer work, all the Apple hardware in the house refuses to connect to the PC now they've realised there's a Mac they can connect to. Ho hum..


I was thinking about when Microsoft suddenly decided to "get with" the internet, and Internet Explorer was born, and I found a couple of things about ActiveX that I bet you didn't know and I'd forgotten: it was briefly available for Macintosh and Unix..
Anyway, the best ActiveX documents from Microsoft are archived: What Is ActiveX and Activating The Internet - this was their vision (Edited 20060116 :: these documents have reappeared in the MSDN archive now: there's also a crossplatform activex MSDN faq frozen in time and the wonderful Developing Exciting Content and Applications for the Internet and Intranets.)

Before ActiveX, Web content was static, 2-dimensional text and graphics. With ActiveX, Web sites come alive using multimedia effects, interactive objects, and sophisticated applications that create a user experience comparable to that of high-quality CD-ROM titles
CD-ROM titles?? What the fuck are they? Anyway, the intent is clear. They used to say things like
Active Web Content with Impact will attract and retain users.
(What a lot of Capital Letters!)
ActiveX technology activates the Web by populating pages with interactive objects, all based on a common standard and therefore able to work together
Quite ironic, really. You can see where they were going, but it was a bad choice for a mechanism of internet domination, and it's Impact (sorry, it's catching) has hurt a lot more users than it's helped. They found HTML too boring, and anyway, you don't need expensive developer products to create HTML and Microsoft are of course in the developer product business (though Foxpro developers aren't the best people to ask about that) and you don't want to use Visual Studio to write HTML (you really don't..).
Organizations that publish Web sites can use ActiveX technologies to create a customized experience for each visitor to their site. By capturing preferences from each Web visitor, companies can create individual profiles and tailor their content so that each user receives only the information of interest to him or her.
Also known as web sites spying on users and stealing their data. People were more naive back then I suppose.
Looking at these documents, you can see the future of the internet unfolding - an actual source of the phrase "[with ActiveX] you can begin to fully leverage the power of the Internet" is Deploying ActiveX Controls on the Web with the Internet Component Download, which might as well have been called "how to ruin the internet".

Edit: to be fair, as a developer, I use activex controls in apps when appropriate. When the requirements dictate a Windows Explorer interface, you don't want to write your own treeview and listviews (those are the folder list and the item lists) you use the activex controls: they're just another COM control, one with a UI. Rangor is "Mr Treeview" BTW! But in a browser, under the control of a website somewhere? No thanks.. except for my annual virus scan of course. (I use trendmicro, they do a .exe version if you're totally averse to ActiveX). I used to use Windows Update, but it rejects me now because I have the Automatic Updates and Background Transfer services disabled. Yes, I can't manually update because I don't automatically update. For me, the point to note here is that I tust the trendmicro program - the virus scan - to look at everything running on my machine, looks at every file and registry key, and have the option of deleting things it thinks I won't like. I want to give those capabilities to a virus scanner, but I definitely don't want to give those capabilities to "some website".

I remember when as tyro developers me and Rangor (and BB) used to get invited to these Microsoft events, they were coming out of the other side of the Windows 95 launch (an easy sell - who would want to stick with Windows 3) and then went straight into selling Bill's take on the internet, so I guess they were short on attendees. I invariably fell asleep (in full twitch mode) during BG's keynote, as he was leveraging the rich potential of the English language to talk vaguely exhortative boring bollocks. People like us didn't necessarily have access to the internet then: PCs were expensive, internet access was by no means free then either. The first computer I bought cost £200: I got from a friend of RobH's, who was a landlady who had been renting a room to a junkie, who of course ripped her off. She got him back, and part of the settlement was the computer, a semi-jerry-built 66MHz that had been stolen from some company in the first place, as a poke about showed. Anyway, I wandered up the road and spent £87 on an OEM copy of Windows 95, got a Pace modulator/demodulator and an internet account with Demon for £10 a month. (I had to pay for my phone calls too, of course).

We didn't have internet access at work until much later, but we used to get a "pack" at the Microsoft events, and sometimes this included beta versions of upcoming software. One of these included a beta version of Internet Explorer 4, and on install it tuned out that the program included a replacement shell for Windows. Now this was quite a big deal, as the shell handles all user interaction with the PC: here was a whole desktop upgrade, which included the wonders of single-clicking an item to execute it instead of double-clicking. Take about doubling your productivity! Well, we liked it. A lot of people don't, and it has to be said the "lasso" paradigm has it's failings. Sometimes you just want to select an object, and a click executes it instead. I think they should have used a modifier key to allow click to select. So there we were, installing a browser to get an operating system upgrade when we didn't even have internet access (or any HTML documents) to use it on. Anyway! I am boring myself now.

Rangor will definitely want me to mention the time we went along to a Microsoft jolly and got a "Developer Preview" edition of IE4. It was a spiffy black colour, but it destroyed any PC it was installed on. As reinstalling was then still an incredibly tedious business of feeding floppy after floppy into the maw, we stopped after two or three attempts, rechristened it Internet Explorer Martian Edition, cut the CD in half and kept half each as a reminder of what bad code can do. Stuck to our monitors with glue.

I'll finish with one last choice snippet about ActiveX:
[It] can make browsing more enjoyable by providing toolbars, stock tickers, video, animated content, and more. These programs can, however, malfunction or give you content you don’t want. In some cases, these programs can be used to collect information from your computer in ways you might not approve of, possibly damage data on your computer, install software on your computer without your consent, or allow someone else to control your computer remotely.

Who is the mystery author determined to rubbish ActiveX? This is from the IE6 help file..

Friday, June 24, 2005

OK, I give up.

So, who can tell me these things about my iBook:

  1. Where is the delete key? Or, what modifier turns backspace into delete?

  2. Why don't the extras (pg up, home etc) on the arrow keys ever work? Or, what modifier makes them work, as it isn't the one that's the same shade of gray (fn)?

  3. Is "Apple" the same as "Command" or is this another Alt/Options type thing?

  4. I'm finding it hard to figure out what key combos I need for "select words" and "select lines". Is there an easy way of remembering?

  5. Why does F10 shrink my screen?

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Uptown babies don't cry

Ten million children under the age of five die each year, the majority from preventable diseases and malnutrition.

Edit: I found it difficult to comprehend the number 'ten million': at first I though it must be wrong. It's 30,000 each day, more or less, or if you prefer roughly the population of London or two Scotlands. Now I imagine myself walking through a London populated entirely by dead children under five: every year, the city is totally refilled with dead children, who died because they are poor and we are rich.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

One generation ago # 2 - swearing

Back in the late sixties and early seventies when I was a kid, Bloody was the second worst swearword, and Fuck was the worst: Cunt was totally off the radar. God or Jesus Christ were blasphemous, along with the associated Hell and Damn. If you said "Bleedin' heck" - admittedly not likely in those more genteel pre-Minder days - you would get a clout, as bleeding means bloody, which is swearing and heck means hell, which is blasphemous and together it makes Bloody Hell which was about as strong as day-to-day swearing went. Everybody knew all the derivations of euphemisms in a way that seems meaningless now - Darn from damn, Gor Blimey from god blind me : perhaps these still hold more currency in the US, given The Simpsons as a measure: Bart's parents scold him for comparatively mild oathing. Not to mention the hysteria when Janet Jackson got her tit out. Imagine if it was her brother MJ!

Anyway, back then the only times I heard my parents swear was when they called other drivers or politicians "shits": it was quite a strong insult then, I suppose it is now if a little out of fashion. Obviously they did swear, everyone did (maybe some of the hyper-repressed of Surrey where I grew up didn't) but they kept it from their kids. A challenge I am facing now: I actually enjoy calling someone a "B" or saying "Oh Sugar". I find it very satisfying is when I am with Daisy and we alternate Oh, SUGAR (after I say it first :-). If you hear me after I lose at pool, though, I am an accomplished swearer: when I was child, my swearword teachers were Sven Hasselt, William S Burroughs, and Harold Robbins. My favourite kind of swearing involves using that most flexible of words, fuck, in as many different consecutive guises (you fucking fuck fucker type of thing)

When the Sex Pistols swore at Bill Grundy (one of my personal favourite memories) they were part of a long honourable line of people prepared to challenge taboos by swearing in the media - Snoopy vs. The Red Baron by The Royal Guardsmen [1966] celebrated "The Bloody Red Baron of Germany" ("Ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty or more"), Supertramp with "Bloody Well Right" (from Crime Of The Century, Ken Tynan who was the first person to say "Fuck" on the television, Bob Geldof saying "give us yer fucking money" during Live Aid. Because it was a taboo, hearing (or even reading) swearing was huge fun for kids: when it left taboo-space and invaded civil society, that deep nervous taboo-breaking humour was eroded away until it disappeared.
I find the constant swearing on the television hugely annoying. Swearing is no longer serving it's purpose: the point of it was always emphasis. When it's got to the point where nothing else will do, you dig into your swear-bag and pull out the first fucker you find: what you are saying is "I don't care [if there's a taboo against swearing] or [YOU don't like it] because [I am PISSED OFF] [or shocked, or insert-emotion-here]". (Did you know Piss used to be swearing, as did Crap? Cock and Dick were, even Bum was borderline)

Now take taking-the-lords-name-in-vain - there's nothing like it to express extreme surprise. From Jesus Christ Almighty! (as they used to say) to Christ On A Rubber Crutch! (as I have been known to say) there's no equivalent for instant surprise in English. Fuck Me! tries but doesn't quite cut it, it always suggests a more reflective reaction ("Well, fuck me") rather than the instinctive CHRIST!

Being an atheist is a bit of a hindrance here. I'd like to have a way of expressing shocked surprise that doesn't involve invoking or offending a God I don't believe in. But now I'm not sure I am an atheist ever since I found out you can be a Buddhist and not believe in god. Unfortunately I make a very poor Buddhist as I am not even a vegetarian, although I do try to step over ants (I hate ants) and not kill bugs generally.

When you swear constantly, the effectiveness is lost: it's not funny any more, because there is no taboo being rattled, it's not shocking, and there's no element of emphasis as it's every-other-bloody-word. It's a load of B!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

mickle mackle

I had to switch the scrollbar arrows to appear at the top and bottom of the scrollbar rather than at the bottom

Edit: I have switched them back.

I like the way Finder smiles at me: I miss the smile when I use Windows.

Hey! There's an apple key on the right-hand side of the space bar! I just doubled my productivity.

What's the frying-pan key called?


Listening to The Birthday Party Live 1981/82 on the way home tonight reminded me that I finally saw Nick Cave - who currently resides in Hove, actually - sitting outside one of the beach huts on the seafront with friends or family a month or so ago. I pointed Daisy towards him so I had a pretext for looking that way for a minute, but he saw through my not-so-transparent subterfuge, I think.

Friday, June 03, 2005


A year ago, I listened to CDs using Windows Media Player: I bought a MP3 encoder from Cyberlink systems to rip them, in a bundle with a DVD player that mostly didn't work. Never buy software! Software should be free! (I reserve the right to change my mind later.)

Then Microsoft released Windows Media Player 10, with integrated online stores. Every time I started the program, it connected to Napster and Court TV: nothing I did stopped it from connecting on startup. WMP is actually a great tool for organising music - the way you can drag and drop genres onto other genres (when you disagree with an album's bizarre classification) and also drag and drop artists onto artists (when they can't agree on a spelling) - but it's rubbish for listening to music through. Rangor swears by musicsnatch pukebox, but it has to be free software for me.

So I downloaded iTunes. Rangor pointed me towards it, and when work blocked access to iTunes downloads he found I could get it from - Steve Jobs should buy him a pint of Guinness: for my birthday that year I got an iPod from Becky. For her birthday this year, she got an iPod shuffle from me. This is typed on my 'new' iBook G3 (500Mhz 12") which I just got from eBay.. 384MB of memory and an airport card installed, which means I don't have to buy anything extra and I am well chuffed. It's well worth waiting a week or month on eBay for a bargain to come your way: the secret on this one I think was that it ended at 10.45 on a Friday night.

I last had an Apple computer in the house in 1979 or so: would have been a II. It didn't really work out for me then - a lack of games, probably - but I am liking it now, liking it a lot. I always liked BSD, too. Sometimes the Apple-S in the menu throws me baqck to that summer like Proust's madeleines.

Survival tips for 4x4 owners

How not to kill yourself with a 4x4. The rest of us just jump out the way..

Thursday, May 26, 2005

UberGeeks Only

Das Keyboard I think I want one. No, I think I need one (and my shameful secret is - I can't touchtype..)

Thursday, May 05, 2005

State of the nation

The pace of social change is so slow to as be imperceptible - like the way glass shrinks [PDF] - and so people deny that it actually happens. "Above the glass transition temperature, glass shrinks quickly as it’s cooled, like a liquid. Below the glass transition temperature, glass shrinks slowly as it’s cooled, like a solid.". There's a metaphor there.. how can we achieve our transition temperature?

Anyway, over a generation you can quite clearly see social change, if you look carefully: it's very encouraging, but you have to accept the pace is glacial.

What you can't do is turn the clock back: the world has changed in the last 25 years, and if you don't see that then you're going to get things wrong.

Anyway again, now I'm going downstairs to see who won the election. I was pleased in a way to see the Tory party come out as outright racists - Smethwick 1964 comes to mind - as it allows us to count those who still think "they" aren't as good as "us". Let's see.

Enjoy this if you read it because I will without doubt or regret delete it tomorrow.

One generation ago # 1 - banks

I've had a sequence running through my head recently about how "things ain't like what they used to be". I think the reason I have this blog - and the reason I post to it - is to get these things out of my head to make room for new things that I'm not bored of.

Anyway, #1 in this sequence is banks. Counting one generation as 25 years (I believe that is the standard) this was the deal:

You had a bank account, and a cheque book. Cheque cards hadn't been invented, there were no holes-in-the-wall to get money from, and not many people had a credit card (my dad did, he had to reclaim expenses: he used to have a Diners Club card among others: I've never seen another since.)

You had a branch, and at that branch you could withdraw money. You went in, gave them a cheque: they compare the signature with the file and if they like it (and you have enough money in your account which is held in a ledger) they give you the money.

If you're in a branch of your bank which isn't your own - there is no question of using another bank - then the branch phones your branch, authenticates you I-don't-know-how, and gives you the money. Or not. Or they make you speak to the branch. Of course, they charged for this - £10 at least, a lot more money then - and you had to actually wait for someone on the other end to pick up the phone, find your file, authenticate you I-don't-know-how, and authorise the withdrawal based on your account balance.

You could make "an arrangement" with another branch - and potentially a branch of another bank if there were any affiliated with yours. I had a bank account in 1979 with the Bank Of Scotland (my father's branch, which I think at the time was Waterloo Street, Glasgow) but "an arrangement" with Barclays in Epsom: I suppose they had a signature on file and would phone the bank for withdrawls of more than £10 or so (to confirm my account balance) but I wouldn't be charged for the call. I'd have to wait.

By the way - I no longer have an account with the Bank Of Scotland. We parted company, shall we say, mutually. Certainly unequivocally.

Not me guv

Did my annual virus scan the other day and was very surprised to see a positive for something called ByteVerify - nothing to worry about, move along.

Don't watch this space

I have had a strange compulsion recently that tomorrow will see Prime Minister Howard presented to Queen Camilla: thankfully the election will be over with anyway.

It's always instructive to remember at these times that people get the government they deserve: you know what to do, get out and vote. If you can't stand any of the candidates, write that on the ballot paper - otherwise how would they know? If you can't be arsed to vote - see above.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

DRM considered harmful

Cory Doctorow talks to Microsoft about DRM:

"The same thing happened to a lot of people I know who used to rip their CDs to WMA. You guys sold them software that produced smaller, better-sounding rips than the MP3 rippers, but you also fixed it so that the songs you ripped were device-locked to their PCs. What that meant is that when they backed up their music to another hard-drive and reinstalled their OS (something that the spyware and malware wars has made more common than ever), they discovered that after they restored their music that they could no longer play it. The player saw the new OS as a different machine, and locked them out of their own music. There is no market demand for this 'feature.' None of your customers want you to make expensive modifications to your products that make backing up and restoring even harder. And there is no moment when your customers will be less forgiving than the moment that they are recovering from catastrophic technology failures."

He goes on to describe how the same thing happens with iTunes when you buy a new Mac every year. There's a pretty PDF version here

Monday, April 25, 2005

More h2g2

Book The First. The other four are there too, just use your favourite URL number-bumper.

The Guerrilla Guide to Interviewing

The Guerrilla Guide to Interviewing - call it possible future reference material..

Friday, April 22, 2005


A record I've got - scroll down for the promotional giveaway metal cock which, alas, I didn't get in Woolworths.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Get Perpendicular

Why? Because Hitachi say so.. and I say watch the video and then decide. Plug your headphones in for this one.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Firefox 1.0.x zip build

Where, oh where will I find the one true zip..


Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Wallet clearout

These are my notes from the top 10 of the Top 100 cartoons:

In case you didn't see it, Tom & Jerry were second, and The Simpsons were first. You might disagree about the order but they share this one crucial characteristic: the early series were so very much better than the later ones..

When I was a kid, I used to look out for Fred Quimby's name in the credits - that usually guaranteed "Classic" T&J, not that later rubbish (why did Tom have to talk, why oh why..)

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Actually useful for once

Google now allows searches for up to 32 words instead of 10

Friday, March 18, 2005

Dean again

Dean Edwards on why IE7 can't support CSS2.

Edit: now it occurs to me they could just use Tasman.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Gone monthly

Now this isn't JALD anymore and there's Google search to look at the archives I've
gone for a monthly archive. It'll take a while for Google to index the archive pages, though.

If anyone's interested, this is what you have to put in your template to strip the navbar down to search only:

/* Lose bits of navbar I don't like */
/* Lose logo div */
#b-navbar, #b-logo
display:none !important;
/* Lose it's contained img */
#b-logo img
display:none !important;
/* Other stuff */
#b-more, #b-getorpost, #b-next, #b-this, #b-blogthis
display:none !important;

It goes in the top of the template with the other CSS rules.

Friday, March 04, 2005


So I thought, well, I can never get into Blogger in the evenings so I will set up the email address posting thing and post by emailing to that.

Doesn't work. Had to post manually.

My heart feels like an alligator

Goodbye Hunter S Thompson

As the ultra-perspicacious Weaver asked right away - what would Doonesbury do about
Duke? Seems like many asked, and the answer is that Duke is no longer
Thompson. Well, noone is, now, but they
both were once
. Tom
Wolfe's obit
is OK.
Me, I don't know - but Carl Fussell of Mpls, MN wrote

Thompson hated you almost as much as he hated Duke. If you had any restraint you'd stop insulting him with the gross parody and ditch Duke. The man killed himself for God's sake. Show some class.

Title from Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas: a book I can't recommended highly enough..

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Good griefers!

More from Microsoft:

Known as griefers, snerts, cheese players, twinks, or just plain cyberbullies, chances are that a kid near you has been bothered by one of these ne'er-do-wells...
10 tips for dealing with game cyberbullies and griefers

Edit: More on snerts.

Friday, February 25, 2005

In case you had trouble with the previous entry..

From Microsoft: A parent's primer to computer slang: understand how your kids communicate online to help protect them. If your kids are this 1337 tehn it's you who needs protection m3th1nkz.. does anyone really do that anymore anyway?

Just Goog L33T

Googleet - Google translated into hacker language. See also Googelmer..

Springfield Is For Gay Lovers Of Marriage

dot com - very little content though.

Edit: see also dorks-gone-wild, What Badgers Eat, and Sexy Slumber Party. I haven't seen any of these episodes. A blast from the past is Mr X's site.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Aligning controls in the IDE

IDEs allow you to group controls and set layouts - align left edges, align top edges etc. But, if a controls are within different containers, they can't be aligned. The form is a container, so if you have a textbox in a container you can't align it to a textbox on the form. In fact, you can't usually select two controls which aren't in the same container, which is probably the cause of the problem.

So the controls need to be aligned manually - you can add together the various borderwidths and control positions to arrive at a figure, or do it by eye. The former is too much trouble, and the latter is problematic as the controls will be separated by formspace.

I was swearing about this the other day when Robin gave me an answer: he suggested moving the control to be aligned until it overlaps with the target control, after which it is trivial to visually align the controls, at which point the aligned control can be returned to it's proper position on the form using the arrow keys or the appropriate positioning properties.

A Google 419

At least that's what it looks like..

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

New words [1] - Soap Creep

Soap Creep
It starts with just watching EastEnders: then you watch a bit of Corrie because EastEnders is so depressing, and Hollyoaks doesn't count, but the next thing you know you're scheduling in Emmerdale, spending your weekend afternoons catching up with the omnibi, and taping those ridiculous Australian afternoon soaps. CF Scope Creep.

An easy mistake to make

We went to see The Producers last week - on Holocaust Memorial Day: at least Mel Brooks is Jewish.

I never thought I would go to a West End musical, and I probably never will again, even though it was a brilliant show. Go if you can, just choose a more propitious day than I did.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

What could it do?

Does Picasa 2 really have an "I'm feeling lucky" button as suggested by the screenshot? Interesting branding by Google. I will try it tomorrow.

"Where fame meets food"

Supper With The Stars. Linda Lusardi, The Hamiltons, Go West, the list goes on, and on.. The Brotherhood of Man "will entertain [!] you with a rendition of their hits after dinner" and so have "Special Requirements: Floor space (8 x 5 feet) in which to perform [and] 3 electrical sockets (for their instruments)". There are icons in each "star"'s profile indicating what they will and won't do, the key is here. If you want a dead comedian's dog to come to dinner, you could consider Schorbitz maybe?

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Tsu nasty man

The heart-warming story of a rescued Thai dolphin.

Ace's Generic Walk-Thru For Every Game You've Ever Played

You start in a small room. Outside the door are two guards, talking with each other. It's best if you completely ignore them, because they're voiced by horrible actors and their script is shit, written by game designers who think they're "funny." Usually it's something like "Yeah, I've been meaning to check out that new T-88 Cloudhopper." Your gaming experience will be enhanced if you just immediately walk out the door and shoot them in their stupid fucking faces. They will offer no resistance.
The rest