Wednesday, August 30, 2006

BAD Vista

I got one of the pre-RC1 builds of Vista (5536) as I have lost interest in it somewhat and a new build always sparks interest for a while.

I always seem to be running operating systems on inadequate hardware: Windows 95 on a laptop with 2MB of RAM, OS X 10.4 on my beloved G3 ibook (384MB RAM), Windows 2003 Server on a 1Ghz P3 with 512 MB.. and several builds of Vista in a virtual machine with 334 MB. As I have mentioned before (bloody dell) I can't have more than 512 MB in my PC without a new motherboard, which so isn't going to happen.

Anyway, this is the result. Vista RC1 requires 512 MB of RAM to install..

Notice that it's the Vista installation that requires 512 MB of RAM.

Edit: I thought I'd give it a go at work. I wasn't expecting an MS-DOS error from Longhorn Server.. to be fair this is a result of Virtual PC failing to handle the DVD, using Microsoft's Virtual CD program to mount the ISO works every time.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Spam scouts

If you have a blog and you are fighting the good fight against comment spammers, look out for bland and seemingly innocuous "nice site, thank you" comments from people with distinctive names you don't recognise: they could be spam scouts, where if this one innocent comment gets through then thousands more follow chock full of the usual links. A quick google (sorry Google) for the name or comment text will usually tell one way or the other: check if the same user always leaves the same comment.

Edit: here's the guy - Jeorge Lukasing

Friday, August 18, 2006

Brave bold Sir Robin

Went to see Robin in hospital today - he had an operation yesterday to stitch his heel together with meccano.. his tibia and fibula split it when he landed heavily after vaulting an obstacle two weeks ago today (the kind of event that introduces you to the Twilight Zone of youth: you can still see it, but it isn't there any more.)

He's bearing up - Robin is tough - but he's going to be laid up for a while.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Uri Grossman

"I once thought of teaching my son a private language, isolating him from the speaking world on purpose, lying to him from the moment of his birth so he would believe only in the language I gave him. And it would be a compassionate language. What I mean is, I wanted to take him by the hand and name everything he saw with words that would save him from the inevitable heartaches so that he wouldn't be able to comprehend the existence of, for instance, war. Or that people kill, or that this red here is blood. It's a kind of used-up idea, I know, but I love to imagine him crossing through life with an innocent trusting smile - the first truly enlightened child"
David Grossman
Uri Grossman was killed last Saturday by a anti-tank missile in southern Lebanon. [Source]

Fanboys and bombboys

More on Schneier (from his blog, the man can sure take a joke! (Edit: note that most of these jokes are cryptographic))
Edit: this is my favourite!

Most people use passwords. Some people use passphrases. Bruce Schneier uses an epic passpoem, detailing the life and works of seven mythical Norse heroes.
Vote for this fact

Anyway I found a bbc page detailing the court dates of the failed 21 July 2005 bombers, which are next month and seem long overdue. If they are guilty (and it sure looks that way but I believe the meaning of prejudice is 'pre-judgement') then send the bastards down. That will go a long way towards alleviating the unreality of the war against terrrrism and the scepticism of folks like me who see a straight-line correlation between "greater goverment and police powers needed" and "an increased terrrrist threat"

Hopefully we will see expedited prosecutions with regard to the latest threat, but frankly holding your breath looks high-risk enough..

PS - I highly recommend this post.

PPS - that post links to a University page regarding the use of 'Piranha solutions" (3:1 Sulphuric Acid and Hydrogen Peroxide, please read the instructions carefully :-) which contains this (possibly ironic?) gem:
3. As a reminder, open-toed shoes are not allowed when working in the lab and bare legs must be covered by wearing a full size bunny suit.

Piranha SOP


A collection of prison shivs - deadly weapons manufactured inside jail from everyday ingredients.


I was thinking about the rule where mothers had to taste their baby milk before being allowed to take it onto a plane.

Let's assume the baby milk is in fact liquid explosive. There are two possibilities (50-50 as my wife likes to call it):

a) The mother knows the bottle contains explosive: she's not going to be bothered about swallowing a bit, she's going to die soon anyway, along with the baby she's carrying. I hesitate after Rwanda and Beslan to say that a terrrist mother would never use a baby to do that, but I know it would be extremely rare.

b) The mother doesn't know the bottle contains explosives, she's going to get an awful shock.

There was an incident (referenced by Bruce Schneier discussing passenger profiling) where a boyfriend planted a bomb in his pregnant girlfriend's bag, but bombing your own baby or your child's baby? Human depravity could sink no lower. Even rarer. Plus someone has to on the plane to activate the explosive.

Great publicity though!

Anyway, couldn't this have been handled along with the other security questions?
Q) Has your luggage been out of your sight at all?
A) Well, it's been in the attic..

Q) Has anyone mixed any baby-milk for you today?
A) I can emphatically say they haven't.

I did note that the final allowance was a laptop bag and an iPod: handy for the executives whose inflated fares are the backbone of air travel, but shit for a mother with young children who hardly ever travels but needs to take a large bag of nappies, spare clothes, wipes, books, toys etc

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Basic Internet terminology

From Microsoft Knowledge Base Article 120687:

World Wide Web

A hypertext facility that essentially ties the Internet's many resources into a searchable web. If a certain word or phrase is highlighted on your screen, clicking it takes you to another site, file, or definition linked to that word.
The article also defines Archie, Veronica, Jughead, HGopher - all deader than dodos - and lists examples of browsers as Cello and Mosaic.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Awkward squad

Browsers are grumpy, gnomic beasts. None more than IE6 though: do you think I should be alarmed or relieved about this?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Moving purple dots

My new boss Tina sent me a bunch of optical illusions, this was the best one I hadn't seen before:

"Concentrate on the cross in the middle, after a while you will notice that this moving purple dot will turn green!

Look at the cross a bit longer and you‘ll notice that all dots except the green one will disappear."

ps - blogger image upload converts GIFs to PNGs seemingly which is why the image has been static for 24 hours

pps - if it isn't working and you've had a few drinks, try closing one eye ;-)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Capitalism at work

I hate capitalism with all my heart but this is so beautifully realised - make sure you drag the slider back and forth, how cool is that (ideally set the 'zoom' to 'max' - even the terminology is boss..)

If you find sliders soooo web 1.1 then just drag the chart dude..

Friday, August 04, 2006


Read this if you've got an iPod or you know someone who has. If you find copyright issues of interest, that is. Or you've bought music from iTunes and you'd rather not throw it away.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Lern yoursefl compooter sience

Robin The Bear laughs at me but I have become increasingly interested in the history of computing and computers and computer science itself. I've been reading an extensive history of Mac OS (that page links to a 3MB 100+ page PDF) and now I'm bookmarking 'bootstrapping a simple compiler from nothing' because it looks like learning fun.

I wonder what would have happened if I had chosen computer science over sociology when choosing my degree subject in 1983. Maybe I would have got rich in the dot-con but I would have shown the exact same lack of enthusiasm for reading computer science textbooks as I did for sociology textbooks, and maybe the same disinclination to pursue it afterwards. There's nothing like studying a subject to put you off it - like maths, which I considered as a degree subject for about minus 2 seconds despite it being my best subject at school.

The annoying thing about sociology was years of people saying "oh, you want to be a social worker then?" - yes, they both contain (a homonym of) the word "social". No, I don't plan to. As a long-time Social Services employee I can tell you that a sociology degree would not in any way provide any training towards a career in social work, and you need a CQSW anyway.

My outrageous niece Chloe - who has just scored a first from Ehdenburrer - got it right. Classics! Brilliant. Unless you collapse into academia there isn't the remotest possibility of a relevant job. And she got to go to Iran, lucky lucky.