Wednesday 1 December 2004
As has just been pointed out in conversation between my wife and her sister, you can tell that Graybo has been very busy because he has written hardly anything at his website.
Thanks to the help already mentioned, the back of the decorating is definitely broken. Needless to say, we collective feel like our backs are broken too.
Top discovery of the week: the local pub (walking distance door-to-door: ninety seconds if you drag your feet, but not named here because Hels doesn’t want the whereabouts of our new abode revealed at the site) does a mean curry night on Tuesdays – two curries for £8.50 is not bad at all, and they are very tasty and generously proportioned.
Year of the blog
Of course, some of us have been doing this blog thing for quite a while now.
Friday 3 December 2004
…to Tim. [cough hack wheeze]ty three today.
Monday 6 December 2004
Home is where the blog is
I’m sitting in our conservatory, happily blogging in a wireless stylee. I’ve not tested it yet, but I reckon I’ll be able to log into my wireless LAN in the pub. Then I’ll be really happy.
Life is gradually settling down in Graybo Towers. We’ve repainted the lounge, stairway and both bedrooms. The house has been furnished cheaply but stylishly. The new sexy sofas have been ordered and will be delivered in the new year. We’ve got countless jobs still to do on our new home, but we’re getting there. We are both very tired, but we’ve been helped a lot by our family, and we finally managed to relax in our new home this evening – meatballs in tomato sauce, a bottle of Vinho Verde from our trip earlier this year to Lisboa and some lovely music – all by candlelight on our new table. All this coupled with waking up this morning to the view of the horses in the field across the road as well as the peace and solitude of our rural retreat. It feels like our home.
Wednesday 8 December 2004
I’ve found a downside to our new home. Whilst our neighbour’s dog’s kennel is well within range of my WiFi, he doesn’t seem to have appreciated the fact. Instead of spending his time looking at the latest doggy fashions on his pooch-friendly laptop, he sits barking. A lot.
In all seriousness, his owners chain him to his kennel when they leave in the morning, and the poor little fella sits there barking for an hour or so until he settles down. I don’t think it’s very fair on the dog – his kennel doesn’t look overly warm or comfortable, and he’s on his own for a large part of the day.
So, what should I do? Get some doggies treats to give to him to keep him quiet? Speak to the neighbours about it? Or call the RSPCA inspector out?
Left-handers better in fights. I’m left-handed, and don’t mind admitting that I fight like a girl.
Wireless print server
I spent a bit of time looking around the web for a wireless print server yesterday. As I regularly use two different printers (a laser for bulk work, and a colour inkjet for printing plant pictures), I wanted a server that would drive them both. Only Belkin do one with this capability (every other server I looked at would support only one printer), but nearly every site I looked at was out of stock. I ended up at Transparent Communications of Aberdare, who offered the server at a reasonable price (more expensive than Amazon, about the same as Dabs) but actually had one in stock. It arrived this morning.
I’ve just installed it. The driver version supplied on the CD failed to work, but it was quick and easy to get the latest version from the Belkin site, and I’m now up-and-running, printing documents from anywhere in the house. Or pub.
Remarkably, this is classified as "work".
There is a bug in versions of WordPress above 1.2 which could result in you or a user unintentionally (or intentionally) causing your site to crash. There is a simple fix here. I think it has been sufficiently well-publicised now that we need not be secretive about it – just tell any WP users that you know that they need to implement the fix as soon as possible.
Thursday 9 December 2004
There is a party for UK webloggers in London this Saturday. I will be there. H may be there too, although she is off work sick today, so may not be.
World’s smallest post office
Today I went to our local post office. I can’t say too much about it, as I’m still trying to live up to Hels’s ambition of keeping the location of the New House™ from being revealed on this site. But I can say that our local post office, a mere hundred yards from here, is open only two afternoons a week and has just one counter.
I asked what services were available here – "Well, anything that involves posting letters really." What about parcels? "Oh yeh, I do parcels. But not special delivery ones. Just ordinary parcels." Tax discs? Passport forms? "Nope. Just letters. You’ll need to drive to the next village for that. And you need to get your post here an hour and a half before I shut, else it won’t go until the next time I’m open."
I went on to say that I was concerned that such a local amenity might close from under-use, and that I’d try to use it for my business as much as I could. "Oh no, this won’t close. All the while I’m still alive and prepared to come here and do it, it’ll be here. That won’t be for a few years yet. What happens after that, well, that’s anyone’s guess."
I like this place.
On the main church in Taormina, right at the top of the façade, there is a skull and crossbones. Catholic pirates?
Speedy Santa – almost certainly easier with a mouse than with a touchpad.
Friday 10 December 2004
I was disappointed by this article. I was hoping that the monkeys might be trained to repair my car more cheaply than the staff at the local garage. Mind you, they could already be trained monkeys anyway, by the look of them.
It looks like I won’t be able to get to tomorrow’s bloggers’ party after all. H is ill, with the consequence that she won’t be able to come along and drive me back from the railway station (12 miles away). The alternative, a late-night taxi, doesn’t bear consideration. Bah!
Saturday 11 December 2004
So, whilst I may not be at the bloggers’ party tonight, I can live up to one other blogging tradition – yes, at long last, a post about kittens! I just know that this is going to make Vaughan jealous.
This week, we went down to the RSPCA cat rehoming centre at Hastings and put our name down for these two "poor little fellas". They’re going to make it, Rolf.
This one has been named Monty by us.
He’s completely mad, a total livewire. He’s bound to wreck the place.
This one has yet to be given a name.
She’s much more quiet and retiring, in marked contrast to Monty. We reckon that, once we have her here, a name will come to us.
The RSPCA will send out a visitor to check that we’re ok to own cats, but since we’ve already passed the test with another animal rehoming charity within the last week, we’re confident that it will just be a formality. In fact, we’re so confident that we went out and purchased kitten food, a litter tray, litter, a new cat flap (now fitted), a scratching post, a basket, a carrier and assorted toys today.
This is going to be fun.
Sunday 12 December 2004
Today, for the first time in my life, I made and baked a loaf of bread*. And very good it was too, even if I say so myself.
Mini Pool 2
Monday 13 December 2004
Warning! May waste your time
Top Dog World War 1 game. I can see Lord Percy playing this all afternoon.
Hmm. For some reason, WordPress seems to have stopped notifying me when new comments are posted here. I’ve checked all the admin settings, and it is all set to notify me at my usual address. I’ve also checked my spam settings to ensure that the emails are not being killed. Any ideas?
I’ve started so I’ll finish
Remember the MasterMind board game with the little coloured pegs? Online version.
Pass the parcel
Following the recent posting of pictures of the kittens, there has been some discussion of the best name for our little girl cat, since the boy will be named Monty. Rommel appears to be sticking, although Hels doesn’t think we can call a girl-cat Rommel. So, as a compromise, our friend Kathy has suggested Rommelle.
Which I think is great.
Tuesday 14 December 2004
I feel a trip to Millau coming on.
Name the cat!
Just one vote per day, kiddies!
Wednesday 15 December 2004
The latest on the cat name poll (scroll down a bit to vote) is that Nipples is in the lead (oh dear), with Sprout and Rommel following in second and third. I’ll keep the poll going until Friday, when I’ll declare a winner. However, at the moment I feel the approaching force of the wifely veto if Nipples wins.
Devil you know?
So, at last, Blunkett has resigned, though only for a few minor misdemeanours and not because of his policies and practices.
What worries me though is that the even less attractive political lardarse, Charles Clarke, is tipped to be his replacement. Firepan and fire? Would we be better with the devil we know? (Probably not, but who can tell?)
Interesting to see that the PM persists in supporting Blunkett. I would have felt that this was the time to be putting some distance between Number 10 and the outgoing Home Secretary. Blair has been hanging on to Blunkett desperately during the past couple of weeks, as he is one of his few remaining supporters in the fight against the Brownites. Now, however, we see that Blunkett has become incredibly unpopular with the backbenchers and the rest of the cabinet – to such an extent that the Chief Whip hurled a copy of his autobiography across the Commons chamber (though that says as much about her as it does about him) – and, as such, it can not be doing the PM any good at all to be continuing to support him. The question is, will this encourage the Brownites to move on the PM before or after an election?
Thursday 16 December 2004
Don’t forget to vote
Scroll down or click here.
I singeth not, ’tis blasphemous
Making Fiends 14 in which Vendetta gets the last laugh.
Not a dry eye
I reckon I’m not the only person with a weblog who got all misty eyed during the Peel tribute on Radio 1 this evening. And not too cloying – well done Aunty.
And what’s really good is that we’ve now got a few hours of Peel-inspired music choices on R1 (hopefully without too much chatter) – perhaps the last time we’ll get to hear anything quite like it on national radio.
Holy poop on a stick
Friday 17 December 2004
Cat name vote-o
I’m going to declare a winner on the cat name poll this evening, so hurry and vote now! Currently Sprout and Nipples are battling it out (ack! bizarre mental picture!) for first place, with Rommel trailing badly.
I fear it’s all irrelevant anyway, as the wifely veto is being called into play. Bah!
Well, the public has spoken and given a clear verdict in the cat naming poll. As it turns out, Rommel’s campaign was ill-fated. Sprout lead a late surge once the wind was up. But, ultimately, Nipples were way out front.
So, the decision is made. She’s (probably) going to be called Treacle. This means that every time we get home we can say
Today, we had a power failure that lasted seven hours. Thankfully, the alarm didn’t go off and the food in the freezer seems to have stayed frozen. I guess that’s the price one pays for living in the middle of nowhere, with power supplied via overhead cables and one of those farm transformers on a pole.
It also means that having surge protection is pretty much essential. I suspect that if this becomes a regular problem, PFE may procure a small generator.
Saturday 18 December 2004
We’ve just been visited by the lady from the RSPCA. She’s given us stern advice on the placing of litter trays, ensuring the toilet lid is left down (can apparently lead to very unamusing consequences with inquisitive kittens) and the importance of having poor Monty’s bits cut off as soon as they are big enough to cut off.
The upshot of it all is that we can now go and fetch our kittens, hopefully before Christmas. Hurrah!
UPDATE: they’ll be ready for collection on Wednesday at lunch time.
Monday 20 December 2004
Hels and I have been looking for a better guard to surround our wood-burning stove in the living room. At the moment we have a rather attractive guard that, whilst functional, could certainly not be described as kitten-proof. The DIY stores only stock very small ones (we need one about 75cm/30ins high, 60cm/24ins wide and 15cm/6ins deep), and hardly any that have a top as well as sides. I finally found a "nursery guard" in a local fireplace shop, much more functional than decorative, and feel I did a good job of not laughing out loud when the lady told me that it was more than £60!
Anyone got any idea where we could find something? We really only want something inexpensive, as we plan to start using the ornate one again as soon as the kittens are grown-up enough to be stove-aware.
Rats leaving a sinking ship?
Tuesday 21 December 2004
Nordic Chill, ja!
As a splendid housewarming gift, SIL and her husband purchased a Sony DVD player for us. So, last night, Hels brought home I, Robot from the video shop next to her office. However, the picture kept changing from colour to black and white and back again. We checked the connections (first using a SCART cable and then switching to the triple-coax lineout) and still the problem persisted. Hopefully, it’s not a problem with the machine, as that would truly be a pain.
I’ve just signed up for BTOpenZone WiFi roaming. The question is, if I’m off in some far-flung place and need to find a hotspot, how do I do it? I’ve looked at the online directories and signed up for Hotspot Hotel which seems to be one of the best. However, that’s no good to me if I’m in Amsterdam and haven’t a clue where my nearest hotspot is so that I can log in and look up hotspots!
What I really need is a hotspot directory that I can access from my mobile phone. I’ve seen a few American ones and BT Openzone run a SMS-based service that covers their hotspots in the UK. Has anyone got any recommendations for international SMS or WAP-based directories?
Thanks to Jo for tipping me off about the excellent London News Review Cat Blog – compulsory reading that provides the first excuse in ages to update the regular reading list in the sidebar.
Everyone seems to be caught up in Best Ofs and Top 100s at the moment. Not one to be left out, and lacking ideas for original content at the moment, I felt that it was time to have some Best Bits of …grayblog… 2004, just in time for this site’s fifth Christmas.
Best Game of 2004
Top Dog – originally posted 13 December. Without doubt, the game that I played most this year.
Best Amusing Link (not game) of 2004
Making Fiends – episode 11- originally posted 13 September. The Making Fiends series has been consistently brilliant, and this was probably the best of them all.
Favourite Political Rant of 2004
Howard’s Wrong Way – originally posted 6 October. Apart from the Boris bit at the end, I think most of what I said still holds true (in fact, the Boris bit actually illustrates what I said about trust).
Best photograph of 2004
Tempted as I was by this one, I eventually decided on this one instead:
- originally posted 4 November 2004. This picture has lots of memories for us both. I’m going to try and take more photos for this site in 2005.
Best cat named after me
Graybo the Cat at Uborka.
Any suggestions for other categories?
Wednesday 22 December 2004
I’ve just had a note from Amazon to say that the gift I ordered for Secret Santa will not be despatched in time for Christmas, and that I’ve been awarded a £5 gift token as compensation.
This is interesting, as five days ago I had a note to say that it had already been sent. This means one of the following must be true:
- the gift has been despatched and yet I’m £5 to the good
- the gift has been despatched, I’m £5 to the good and the recipient is going to get a second one which they can then sell, although my credit card may be debited twice
- the gift has not been despatched, the recipient will think they’ve been ripped-off by their Secret Santa and I’m £5 to the good
- the Amazon system is totally borked and yet I’m £5 to the good
We shall have to wait and see.
There will be pictures at some point, though not before Treacle has gained enough confidence to come out from under the bed. Actually, as I sit here typing this, I can hear Monty running around upstairs, exploring, playing and wrecking. If only some of his confidence would rub off on her!
Thursday 23 December 2004
To the driver of the white Astra van that passed me at around 60mph in the 40mph zone on the A27 at Lancing.
Would you like to explain your driving style to the teenage girl, tears streaming down her face, who was tying flowers to the railings by the pedestrian crossing? You know – the crossing with the big Sussex Police notices asking for witnesses to a "Vehicle/Pedestrian Collision" that occured there at 2.10pm on Tuesday.
Or are you simply on a mission to ruin another family’s Christmas?
Compare and contrast
Tobby, with instructions in Japanese.
Friday 24 December 2004
The Captain has NO need for biscuits
‘Twas the night before Christmas…
…and all through the house,
not a creature was stirring…
…especially the kittens, because they were asleep on the clean laundry. Grr (but bless ‘em – they’re the best Christmas presents EVER).
Whatever your faith or belief, Hels, the kittens and I all wish you a peaceful and happy holiday.
Sunday 26 December 2004
I can’t eat any more.
Hels and I are trying to comprehend the scale of today’s enormous tsunami in south-east Asia. Having recently read Simon Winchester’s excellent book on Krakatoa, and drawing on my slightly hazy recollections of O and A level geography (plate tectonics and all that), I can understand the science of it all and realise that there is no divine intervention here or yuletide symbolism – merely some enormous movements of the Earth’s crust and some terrible misfortune for anyone that happens to be in the way.
Hels said to me that we are fortunate not to live in a part of the world where this sort of thing might occur. To which I might reply that I’m glad that we live a fair distance inland, protected from the open sea by a good range of hills (though some believe the threat to be over-stated), and it has happened before (although a 2 metre surge may seem small, it can be funnelled in estuaries and harbours and become far more dangerous).
I’ve just received a traffic warning from 34sp – it seems that I’ve had more than 9GB of traffic this month compared with my limit of 3GB, and so should expect a bill for about £9. Hmm.
Would backing up my databases in two formats (two enormous files) have caused this? Previously, my traffic had been around 2GB and increasing by about 10% per month.
EDIT: looks like the Santy C worm. I’m working on a block.
FURTHER EDIT: this site is under attack. If you use WP or any other PHP script, you need to protect NOW. Go here.
YET FURTHER EDIT: I’ve implemented the .htaccess edit recommended by "thepete" in the forum linked above. I’ll monitor it tomorrow and see what has happened. I think that WP has blocked all the bot requests but has served a lot of 404s. I also seem to have been serving an enormous number of 404s to bots that have been looking through my old MT archive files (so, if you have links to my old MT generated pages, they will no longer work as they have been purged). I’ll keep you posted.
EDIT THE FOURTH: the edit of the .htaccess file has not worked. I’ve had more than 2GB of bandwidth eaten last night. So I’ve added some lines to the top of my index.php file as recommended in the first post in the forum thread linked to above. I’m really keen to fix this, as every GB of bandwidth costs me £1.50 and the money is being eaten at a frightening rate, so any suggestions are welcome! I’ll report back on the success or otherwise of the latest change.
EDIT THE FIFTH: the latest attempt seems to have worked completely, and my bandwidth consumption has dropped dramatically. Hurrah!
Tuesday 28 December 2004
The worm that turned
Well, I seem to have conquered the worm, with no new problems with it. I do still seem to be eating bandwidth though, and I’m not sure why – 0.9GB since yesterday tea-time compared with around 2.5GB for a whole month recently. So I’ve set robots.txt to prevent bots from looking for files that no longer exist (thereby creating an unwanted 404), although I can’t believe that that is the whole problem.
Thank goodness I checked my Hotmail and picked up on the warning from 34sp that I’d exceeded my bandwidth allowance, otherwise the bill would be spiralling out of control by now. There must be other people who haven’t checked their mail over the Christmas period who will be in for a shock when they next log in.
Tsunami aid blog
Thursday 30 December 2004
Disasters Emergency Committee. Apparently, their website has been struggling with traffic, so you may find it easier to donate by telephone on 0870 60 60 900. Alternatively, all the high street banks are accepting donations.
Thought: will the people in Darfur and elsewhere be forgotten in all this?
Why has our PM continued his holiday in light of the events in the Indian Ocean?
Friday 31 December 2004
I’m sure that this story was first reported about a week ago on local television. Either way, you have to admire the determination of someone to hide from the law inside a sofa. (Eastbourne Today posted the story on December 23rd – come on BBC, that’s rubbish!).
Oh blimey! There are only a few hours to go, most of which will be spent in the pub next door, and I haven’t written my end of year review yet! OK, time pressures mean it’ll be bullet points:
- Highlights, in roughly chronological order:
- my trip to Saumur
- birthday trip to Lisboa
- the grand tour of the low countries
- selling my flat
- finally getting to live full-time with Hels
- the grand tour of Germany
- getting married! (obviously!)
- the honeymoon in Sicily
- getting our own home in Ruralville
- not selling Hels’s flat
- generally not having enough money or time for all the things we want to do
- ummm… that’s about it really
All in all, 2004 has been excellent. PFE continues to plod along, family are healthy and happy (mostly!) and I married the perfect girl for me. You can’t ask for much more than that really.
Happy New Year to you. Come back to the same place this time next year for another exciting annual review!