Tuesday 1 February 2005
You are my friendetta
Ivan Noble, RIP
An ordinary man who, through his openness and honesty, touched many people.
Treacle (the) tart
It’s all very quiet in the house. For the first time since the before Christmas, there are no cats here. Both are at the veterinary surgery, undergoing their operations. I particularly did not enjoy signing the consent form – the paragraph about the owner understanding the risks inherent with the use of anaesthetic on animals does little to reassure, even when they are there for such routine surgery.
…for the extended outage here this morning. 34SP were upgrading the server and it seems to have taken longer than planned. Normal service resumed now though.
For those that read this site using an RSS feed, I’ve added a padding to the title line as I had heard from the Uborkans that the three full stops at the beginning of my title were breaking the feed in some readers. I’d be grateful if someone could let me know if this makes any difference. I’m rather fond of my three full stops (not really a proper ellipsis), so I don’t really want to remove them. However, if it continues to be a problem, I may replace them with a couple of …s.
The media circus surrounding the Michael Jackson child abuse trial seems completely alien to those of us who are never likely to be caught up in such scenes. It seems that the child abuse allegations are, at the moment at least, secondary to the stardom and fame of the defendant. Either way, Peter Bowes’ quasi-blog™ on the court case is worth reading and provides a lighter view of events.
Confused of Ruralville
I’ve just got very confused. Has anyone told Mr Blogadoon that it’s 2005?
The kittens are home, shaved in places and running around as if they haven’t had major surgery today. Which is good, I think.
Wednesday 2 February 2005
Kilroy was ‘ere
Kilroy-Silk launches Veritas political party. The Daily Mail in party political form?
Strangely, I think that they could poll quite a few votes in the next election. Which is a shame.
Thursday 3 February 2005
For all you news addicts out there – keep up with global events in graphic form, updated every twenty minutes.
Basketball type game with groovy sounds.
Let there be light (at the end of tunnel)
Joy at Graybo Towers this evening as news comes in that, subject to references, H’s flat has been let. Of course, this means that muggins has to go and fix the leaky washing machine fitting pdq. Gah. But yay!
Friday 4 February 2005
FeuerFrei Movie. w00t!
Palantir – simple, yet addictive game.
G7: ambitious or overblown?
Saturday 5 February 2005
Dig for victory
This morning, if the weather holds, I’ll be digging a new border in the back garden, incorporating four bags of well-rotted manure from a local farm and then transplanting a Euonymus bush and a couple of lupins. Heady stuff, but the first steps towards making the garden into the sort of place you would expect to be the garden of the director of a company allied to horticulture. There may be photos.
Sunday 6 February 2005
Pathetic motorways. The inner geek slips out – I actually find this site quite interesting.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll just go and find my anorak, thermos, notepad and glasses held together with sticky tape.
I’m having comments spam problems again (anyone who reads my comments RSS output will have noticed them). So I’m using this WP plugin to prevent proven proxies from posting comments, and also to check for links in comments to known websites that sell or advertise the things that are usually promoted in the comment spams. I’ll let you know how I get on.
Note new border, created by first removing the turf, then deeply digging it, followed by incorporation of considerable quantities of well rotted farmyard manure and spent potting compost. Finally the willow tree was heavily pruned and the Euonymus and three lupins were planted.
The soil is rather heavy, a slightly greyish clay. Not the most exciting stuff and probably the sort that would put off a new gardener (or lead to fairly dismal results if they didn’t have some guidance as to how to treat it), but with the addition of plenty of humus and some grit (I’m going to nab some from the parents) I know that it can make an excellent garden soil that will permit a fairly wide range of plants to grow. I’ve not done a pH test, but judging by the presence of Rhododendrons in the neighbourhood, it must be fairly acidic. Not good news for bearded Irises, but an opportunity to play with some Japanese types and one or two of the more esoteric species.
Thankfully, I had some help:
Treacle came out too, but spent most of her time looking for mice under the shed.
Monday 7 February 2005
For WordPress fans – the new plug-in seems to be working. I’ve had no new spam comments (since I reported the spammer that was spamming this site – they did not seem to be on the blacklist) and no reports of false positives. Yay!
Tuesday 8 February 2005
Well, I have my new composter – purchased for £15 under a local council initiative to encourage home recycling, and complete with a free kitchen scraps bucket with lid. How handy.
The composter is now in position behind the shed, and I’ve put in three or four buckets full of garden waste, leaves, spent compost and a few twigs to open it up a bit. I’m not above "cheating" at this compost malarkey, so I’ll nip down to the farm later and invest the princely sum of £1 in a sack of farm manure to shove in there – it’ll hasten the rotting process by increasing the temperature in the bin, as well as providing nitrogen for the hungry little pathogens busy breaking down all the lignin in the leaves and stems.
From now on it is just a case of being disciplined and making sure that all kitchen vegetable matter goes in, as well as a medium amount of grass cuttings (too much will ruin the structure and turn it into horrid slime) and any other garden trimmings and waste (not too much woody stuff as it takes too long to rot, but some as it helps keep it open and allows air to those pathogens). I’ve set myself the challenge of showing that it is cheap and easy to make decent garden compost (not to mention environment-friendly) – in fact, I intend to prove it so conclusively that Gordon is convinced of the merits and starts his own in order to convert his sticky clay garden into something more usable (he’ll need grit too, but I’m not going to start a quarry just to prove a point – a builders’ merchants will do the job better).
In the news today:
- Army discipline pilot for using helicopter to deliver pizza to girlfriend – I particularly like the nameless BBC wag who has added the line "The Ministry of Defence spokesman did not confirm what toppings were on the pizza".
- Britain welcomes home Dame Ellen. A fantastic achievement, undoubtedly. But is the government hoping to achieve some mileage and share in the glory by announcing the honour so quickly?
- Tooth brushing cuts the risk of heart disease according to new research. Or, on the other hand, poor dental care is an indicator of people who generally do not look after their own health, and these people are more vulnerable to heart disease.
- Observations of evolving planetary system made using Spitzer orbiting telescope, news coming on the same day that we learn that NASA plans to bring down Hubble. So much science to be done, yet no money to keep the tools of research available.
- McGhee keen for Seagulls to focus – too right, and with a goal difference of -13, they need a few wins to be really sure of staying up.
Monty is currently trying to set a land speed record for cats whilst simultaneously running through the cat flap. I think he may be sponsored by CatMate to carry out destructive testing.
And I’m sure that there is cat snot smeared all over it where he pushes his face against it.
Thursday 10 February 2005
…on the following subjects:
- IKEA idiocy
- The Freedom of Information Act
- low slung trousers in the State of Virginia
- Charles and Camilla
- Tory plans for the police
…and possibly much more. But I’m a bit busy at the moment, so the ranting juices are on hold for now.
But get in quick! Send your replies to my anticipated rant in the comments NOW!
Amazon RSS feed
Some of you might have seen the header graphic for this site that features Treacle. There is now one featuring Monty. Go on – waste your day hitting refresh until it shows up.
Somebody probably should have stopped him.
Friday 11 February 2005
New Amon Tobin. I need more pennies, as there are about a gazillion CDs that I need to buy at the moment.
Saturday 12 February 2005
Boy exploserous laser
Team Laser Explosion are back!
Monday 14 February 2005
A different world
Inside the mind of an autistic savant. Utterly fascinating.
In a reversal of the usual stereotypical rôles, I’ve spent much of the afternoon cleaning the house and preparing a (hopefully) wonderful meal for my spouse, whilst she slaves away over a hot keyboard in her office. Safe in the knowledge that she has now left work, I can reveal that I’m preparing a steak in ale casserole, with roasted shallots, mashed sweet potatoes, carrots and peas, which will be accompanied by one of the "special" bottles of wine from the rack. I’ve also baked a spicy fruit loaf.
I’m not a big one for buying ostentatious gifts or excessive cards for Valentine’s Day, but I think it is good to be extra romantic and make an extra effort every now and then. This is our first V Day as marrieds, so we both think it is a good thing to do something special. Such a shame that it falls on a weekday – which is why we’re scooting off to France for the weekend (tying the trip in with a visit to a trade show – so PFE can subsidise the trip).
Whether you are coupled or not, by choice or by circumstance, I reckon February 14th is the perfect opportunity to crack open a decent bottle of red – and that’s just what I’m about to do.
Tuesday 15 February 2005
Top tips for small business people
Being downright rude to your customers will not encourage them to place repeat business with you. Additionally, acting in a condescending manner will also lower their opinion of you. Furthermore, when telling porkies to them, it pays to be sure that they are not in a position to know that you are exaggerating.
(Yes, I’m slightly pissed off with a service provider at the moment).
Top tips for larger businesses
Check the accuracy of your statements. Also, check your prices when you claim to offer own brand goods at prices that are lower than branded items.
For example, yesterday I purchased a windscreen wiper blade for Hels’s car from a well-known retailer of car components. The in-store guide and the packaging both claimed that the blade I selected was the correct one for her car. The part was priced at £8.49.
When I attempted to fit the blade this morning, I found that the fitting on the blade was not compatible with that on the armature. Furthermore, the blade supplied was four inches too long. That is not a small margin of error.
This afternoon I went to a dealer of branded parts for Hels’s car. The very helpful proprietor of the firm was able to provide me with exactly the right component – a genuine original component in a box branded with the car manufacturer’s logo – and didn’t need recourse to parts manuals or computers. The charge was £6.93. Therein lies a lesson.
When I returned the incorrect part to the well-known retailer, the member of staff neither apologised for the inconvenience, nor could he believe that it was the incorrect part. After all, his computer told him that it was the right one, so therefore it must be true.
Pass the HP sauce
Did you know that it is National Chip Week? Well you do now. So, to celebrate, H and I are off to the pub tonight for a curry.
Or have we missed the point?
UPDATE: apparently we’re staying in and having cod. More updates as events warrant.
Wednesday 16 February 2005
Monty 1 – Local Mouse Population 0. Following on from the delivery of a succession of individual feathers over recent days, I suppose that I shouldn’t be surprised that Monty has finally succeeded in catching something, even though I have always felt that Treacle was going to be the better hunter.
I just wish he’d finish it off rather than beating the creature into submission by hurling it around the conservatory. I’m not sure that he actually knows how to kill them – maybe his mother never had the chance to show him.
Cocteau Twins reunion concert
Browser wars – new skirmish
IE7 in development – official. Not much information at the moment, and this announcement has clearly been spurred by the rapid success of Firefox. As a seasoned IE user (heck, I used IE back when everyone thought that Netscape 3 was the mutt’s nuts) who also has Firefox on my machine, I’d ask a few questions:
- is this going to be a new build or a tarting up of IE6? I suspect the latter.
- will it have better standards support and compliance? I suspect so, but whether it will have enough to match the other browsers in the market, given that they will also be improving their offering between now and the launch of IE7, is another matter.
- how long will we have to wait? At least a year, I reckon.
- will there be changes to the user interface? For all its faults (no need to list them here), IE has an interface that is easy to learn for any computer novice that has become familiar with any other component of the MS Office suite – and, let’s face it, that’s just about anyone who has ever used a PC. Whilst new features would be welcome, in many ways I hope that they don’t change it too much – the transition from IE5 to IE6 was pretty much seamless.
I guess we will just have to wait and see.
WP1.5 is out. Fetch! (though upgrade with care, kiddies! Back up first!)
UPDATE: follow the upgrade instructions if you’re going from 1.2 to 1.5. I plan to play with this after the weekend, as tonight I must get ready for a journey to France.
Thursday 17 February 2005
…I’m off to France. see you next week.
Tuesday 22 February 2005
We’re back after a day in Angers and two days in Honfleur, a change being as good as a rest.
When we got home in the small hours of the morning, I picked my way up the lanes of Ruralville with around two inches of snow on the ground, heavy snow falling, my wife asleep in the passenger seat and two kittens in the carrier in the back – a combination of things that tends to make you drive with care.
This morning, I had to travel up to Nearbyton in order to visit the local council. The snow was hanging on the trees and looked absolutely stunning. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera with me and now a combination of warmer temperatures and strong wind has rather spoiled the effect – but it was good whilst it lasted.
Busy busy this week, so expect quiet.
I’m slightly speechless at the sheer idiocy of this latest pea-brained proposal for the honours system from HMG. Aside from the market in fake honours badges that would spring up overnight, do we really want to reward those who make an outstanding contribution to our nation and society (if that is what an honour is intended to mark) with something akin to a boy scout badge of merit??
Kottke goes pro
Kottke quits his job and attempts to pay his way in the world with his blog. I think he’s completely mad. After all, who will pay good money for kitten pictures?
I’m not sure that this is going to change anything in the blogosphere – put simply, there are plenty of blogs out there that offer high quality content (note that I don’t include myself in that category) and do not make a charge for it. Also, there are plenty of non-blog sources of the sort of technical and opinion pieces that Jason writes – some of which are paid-for but many of which are free. Since Jason is not making any compulsory charges for his content, the question has to be whether people will pay enough voluntary contributions to him for him to keep writing without any other means of support, and the answer to that will depend on just how much people value his particular take on the issues with which he concerns himself. I admire his nerve but don’t fancy his chances. Plenty of other people ask for donations to help keep their sites going, but I don’t see many people that actually get much income that way.
And speaking of donations:
EDIT: Jason has an RSS feed. He distributes his content widely and for free. I’m still not getting why people are going to pay enough for him to share his opinions without any other work. Mind you, film critics do that all the time.
Save Our Sauce
Lea and Perrins products not affected by food safety scare – so go buy a bottle!
Wednesday 23 February 2005
Ruralville in winter
Hels has to go on a course in London today, so I took her up to the railway station in Nearbyton to get the once-per-hour service to the Big City. As usual, we were a bit tardy in getting going this morning, so I decided not to drive the long way round on the gritted roads, but instead to take the direct route and pick my way along the back lanes of Ruralville. With some snow overnight and heavy snow falling, the steep hills were best described as "interesting", particularly when we got to the bottom of one hill and found a couple of sheep and a goat in the road. In spite of that, I was able to deliver Hels to the station with a few minutes to spare.
The kittens are fascinated by the snow, although Treacle prefers to look at it rather than go out in it. If they stand still long enough, I’ll try and get a picture. I may also take a picture or two of the local woods when I go out later.
Thursday 24 February 2005
With the snow melting rapidly yesterday and more heavy snow forecast for this morning, I decided to wait until today to nip out and take pretty snow-in-Ruralville pictures. And what happens? Rain. Pah.
TUC releases results of survey into unpaid overtime. The self-employed aren’t mentioned, of course. But, after all, the self-employed "love" their jobs, and that is why they do them.
(Actually, I do love my job, but that isn’t the point. My point is that the self-employed are not unionised, which is obviously a good thing, but it means that issues that affect the self-employed are rarely considered by unions or government).
Proposals to ban the swastika in the EU have been dropped – common sense prevails.
Everyone Poops – well, I do anyway. Do you?
Friday 25 February 2005
Lunar Mouse 2
Hels on the walls of the Chateau d’Angers.
For Lord Percy – a bunch of seagulls on the harbour wall at Honfleur, all facing the same way save for one that is facing the other way and appears to have no head. Raawwk!
Saturday 26 February 2005
A photo with a mile
From the Statue of Liberty to the Golden Gate Bridge – one photo for every mile.
I’ve long believed that the Telegraph has the best sports coverage of the daily newspapers in this country, but I think that the Indy is fast improving. I particularly enjoy the Inside Football columns, as they invariably deal with issues at the sharp end of competitive football, and not the glamour of the Premiership. See today’s article on Brentford.
Also worth reading: Adrian Chiles’s column, even if there is a West Brom bias.
There is also a good article by Will Self on Ellen MacArthur, but it is part of the Indy’s paid-for content. Go find it if you’ve already paid up (I haven’t).
Third "gorilla breast" woman sues. The mental picture…
Monday 28 February 2005
The Cat Came Back
Look at me!
I’m cute. You are powerless to resist.
What is it with people at the moment? Our neighbours aren’t speaking to us, or so it seems, because we have done something (about which I can not speak here) with the best intentions, and it seems that only the local outcast agrees with us. At this rate, we’ll be outcasts too. Meanwhile, one of my clients called me up this afternoon and we had an absolutely extraordinary half-hour telephone conversation in which we seemed to spend a lot of time going nowhere. He seems incapable of realising that I might be a little annoyed that he has not returned some paperwork for seven months in spite of several reminders and seems to try to put the blame on me. This in spite of the fact that the paperwork is sitting on his desk! And when I pointed out that I would be easily satisfied by means of him putting his signature to the papers and sending them back to me, he proceeded to throw all of his toys out of the pram and have a little tantrum. Most revealing was the point when I said that we appeared to be going around in circles with our conversation and he said "yes, but I am going around them the other way". I think that spoke volumes. But then he is Dutch, so I suppose we should forgive him something (not sure what, and no offence to any of our Dutch reader).
A different perspective?
Have a look at the second photo in this news story. The caption suggests that the protestors are on a ledge at a height of 50 feet. Now, using the policeman and the railings to give some idea of the actual height, and judging by the fact that it is only on the first floor of the admittedly high-ceilinged Foreign Office, I reckon that ledge is only 35 feet or thereabouts. Pedant, moi?
- US raps Russia and Saudi Arabia over the knuckles on human rights. One in the eye for Chomsky? I guess only if the Americans really mean what they say.
- Entire Lebanese government resigns after protests. Somehow I can’t imagine HMG resigning if ever there were massive protests in the UK. Oh. Yeh. There have been massive protests. Hmm.
- Virgin GlobalFlyer set for take off. Rather him than me.
- Clarke retreats on house arrest in a half-hearted way, whilst thumbing nose to Parliament. As is often the case, I agreed with what the other Clarke had to say (I mean Ken, of course – as quoted on Channel 4 News).
- McGhee wants Brighton to finish with 50 or 51 points – 6 or 7 points from 11 matches. Not an impossible task, particularly with matches against Coventry and Rotherham still to be played – but I have to say that I’m not too keen on some of the other fixtures between now and the end of the season.