Monday, December 24, 2007

FlickrUploadr [worse than the last version]You know tidying is going well when there starts being a "white A4" pile.

You know you may not be wholly young any more when you make a Wagner-based joke.

Yes, that was the world's most subtle and pathetic attempt at an apology; I have a backlog of six posts all in varying stages of unwrittenness and not much time to do anything with any of them (possibly due to spending an inordinate amount of time failing to upload pretty much anything to Flickr; at some point I'll remember I'm paying them). So, er, Merry Christmas everybody, and I'll just go back to sending the pictures in two by two through the power of email (or one by one again as the pile of Delivery Status Notifications builds ever more).

Oh, for those who have not yet seen: fun-ish.


Monday, December 17, 2007

Bonk[bang]Text received today at three oh six pee em:
How dare you?!

Message ends.

A. Quite easily. Now what the blue blazes are you talking about?
B. Huh?
C. Is that a question or a statement?! I know the Duke of Edinburgh uses three exclamation marks in a row (just as well /we/ don't call them bangs), but look how he turned out. Punctuation one at a time please. Unless shorthanding therefore.
D. Oh God, what do you think I've done now?

Except it's from someone who has taken umbrage before and who tends to require life on tenterhooks if it is to pass near him. The lack of blog posts recently has been partly borne of laziness, partly through feeling thoroughly uninspired, but also partly because those which get half-typed suddenly have to be examined for potential misunderstandings. Running everything through a suddenly invented Editorial Policy Board is not fun.

But I haven't yet published any of those potentially offensive posts (potentially offensive because they allude to his presence which seemingly is enough to offend him). And Gmail has nothing new, as does the blog's Hotmail, and both Facebook and Flickr are without recent activity from him. So I don't know what he's reacting to.

Or of course he sent it to the wrong person.

Edit: Cleared up now. So he does read what I write, hence eventually notices mocking provocations, which of course I cannot explain here being not quite that cruel.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

DSC_1585 - ArrowBuggeration.

Maths ought to be banned. And so to should probably Christmas.

Guess who wrote out cards list, with the usual "they're dead, she's dead, she's dead" that comes every year (you'd think I'd remember, but they've been at the top of the list since since time immemorial, although I'm not sure I can think of a blanket mailing list if I don't start with grandparents and she-who-wrote-her-name-in-the-pavement), counted up how many cards I needed, how many distinct designs were necessary and what was the minimum of each required. And then I went to buy them, cursing places that closed at four or halfpast, scurrying round, shuttling between shops to check prices (the place with the front door propped open to the frozen night and t-shirted staff charges significantly more for an identical pack than the place run by the woman who used to run that clothes shop; higher heating bills presumably), deciding on one pack from the cheaper shop, then getting there and noticing a pack of similar theme (I have problems buying cards; I refuse to countenance any with writing on the front, like all the people I send cards to too much send to plump for twee, be it chick-lit twee, nostalgic-twee or kiddywink-twee and refuse to pay that much for them), which is half the price but has two-thirds as many cards. It doesn't help that I start to wonder why I don't just cheat and get some suitably wintery photograph printed*. Who says Christmas cards can't also be Moo cards?

* Probably because I don't tend to encounter sun-daubed rime-laden landscapes. Half-scraped windscreens aren't quite so photogenic.

Anyway, so realising the cost-per-card disparity I bought the cheaper and better value pack, then adjourned to a different shop to try and find an acceptable design that was another variant on the same idea. I nearly bought one pack, before realising it was more expensive than the first and has far fewer cards in, so opt for its cheaper sibling, which is only just less than the pack already bought. And then I go smugly off, via the post office to check last dates (er, missed everywhere bar Western Europe already [sorry], but then they claim the last posting day for Paris et al is Wednesday 13th. So presumably that's February 2008, being the next one).

Of course once back and working out who gets what (I ought send out a questionnaire covering degree of religiosity, percent literal-mindedness, tendency to take umbrage and tolerance of fripperies) suddenly the truth announced itself unto me. Taking out the clusters of individual cards I realised I had 2 left of one design and 5 of another. I also had nine names left.

At which point I realise that in the quest for best value I'd somehow overlooked quantities. Blast. And cue emails. I did ponder handmade cards, but er, then I would have missed the very last posting date.

I knew I should have just Quentin-Blaked everyone.


Monday, December 10, 2007

DSC_7951 - Nugent's CornerAnd in this week's programme, we'll be discovering fire; millennia after everyone else. It's all Murdoch's fault.

No, really, it is. Hotmail had some Flash-based Sky banner that made my CPU go up to 100% and sit there. Yes, this is an old computer, but for some reason I've noticed a similar effect of Flash adverts within Firefox on far newer, more capacious computers. There's just something about the coding that hogs everything it can, meaning the computer doesn't function nearly as well as it should. Given the effect is so bad that typing within Hotmail becomes problematic (the lag is so great either the thought must stop or one is half a paragraph in before the string "they ==n" appears, which also disrupts thought) and trying to use Multimap is simply impossible; the ads load before the map tiles, so the maps tiles either never load, or half load in a jumble, which is none too useful. Am I alone in wondering how it came to pass that a site accepts so much advertising of a nature which impairs the function of the site that the site becomes all-adverts-no-function?

So what did I do? Finally get round to investigating ad-blockers. Yes, I know admitting to only doing this now makes me rather slow on the uptake and undermines my sneering stance on Stephen Fry's latest Guardian offering (abridged: Get Firefox to play with skins), but I've not really noticed they ads until now. About the only that seep through were those *clicks fingers trying to remember* (why do people, and by people I mean me, do that?) not Fry and Laurie, not Cosmo and Dibbs, oh blast, the Spac... er Peep Show people, you know, Put-Upon and Oddly-Quite-Cute, not Armstrong and Miller (does anybody watch that? And should I be worried that I can happy miss the first half of Ugly Betty by watching HIGNFY and not miss terribly much? I could probably miss the whole thing bar one Dulux ad and still understand the plot. Or should I be worried that the highlight of my evening tends to be flipping back for QI, and this on a Friday night?)... Anyway, Mitchell and Webb, who did those Mac ads that made you ponder Linux, they've crept in, though not very deeply in. The only others to break the surface are anything from Orange because I already have an Orange phone, so read it before realising it's not aimed at me, and those infuriating vocal smiley banners, which are trigger the FOAD-ometer (or for the more sensitive readers, the *O&D-ometer).

Continuing annoyance: remembering to go back and fish out the misspelt words from the custom dictionary (helpfully called persdict.dat) in Firefox, which one accidentally added because "Add to dictionary" sits right beneath the selection of correct words in the right click menu. Which muppet thought having what amounts to the overwrite button right next to the corrections would be a good idea? Of course to make it even better it only gets updated when Firefox closes and read when Firefox starts, so one has to remember to do it in the gap between. Of course by the time Firefox gets shut down the errant word has been completely forgotten, which may explain some of the contents of persdict on this computer. And yes, I lost an n in 'millennia'.

While wording, new word for the, er, post: Enfilade. From the French for 'skewer'. A linear feature, such as a shotgun arrangement of a suite of rooms forming a grand vista through all, or attack along the axis of an enemy position, so from the flanks.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

DSC_0781 - Fairy [Liquid] LightsRecently after much cajoling I met... and now comes the tricky part because he has no known pseudonym (except perhaps Arctic Kenny), and he's previously objected to the mingling of real-name and blog-name sites, due to their differing degrees of NSFF (think disco, 'we are'), which means I now have to christen him, although I suspect I've already done so, if only I could remember. So instead of devising something from defining characteristics ('obstreperousness' takes too long to type), I'll go with the simple and obvious, yet fairly Googleproof, Monsieur Cue.

So after weeks of negotiations, and widespread accusations of forgetfulness, we agreed to meet in a place of mutual inconvenience, a town whose verb of a name needed no explanation in The Meaning of Liff, the connotations of distasteful sexual practices and resultant swearing power of the word being grossly immanent. So we withered to Ducking, self-proclaimed centre of the Slurry Thrills.

I was late. He came after dusk. With a bike in tow. Which came in useful, by which I mean cumbersome, when we traipsed the streets of the town looking for a suitable cafe, or 'Starbucks-clone', which wasn't about to shut. Ducking is an odd town. Not only does it have the post office still in the post office, but it has a second further up the hill (and in the former the already unhelpful misery-guts of the staff make disparaging comments about people taking photographs of parcels they're about to post, so said person has proof of when it was posted). Add to this the old, and old-fashioned, wooden-shelved chemist and bow-windowed Dyas's, and the interruption of the general scheme by Domino's seems slightly cruel. It also seems to be the only town I've encountered where the number of chandelier shops is greater than the number of supermarkets, and yet the largest group is the barbershops. Oh, and there are sheep behind Sainsbury's.

Anyway, we re-explored the town together, with M. Cue expressing dismay that everywhere was shut or shutting (incidentally the library must be the busiest place in Ducking, as in nearly every shop passed the sole occupant was sitting reading). So after a perpetually encumbered perambulation we eventually returned to near the start of the tour and a pub with smoking bouncers, or possibly just customers, flanking the door.

After the usual "what're you having?" chaos, M. Cue frowns about the combined price of a beer and a coke while I dither about finding a seat. We settle when the pair on the leather furniture in the corner depart, so we move to more comfortable surroundings, beneath a mute wall of BBC News, who incidentally do an excellent line in text and visuals clashing subversively.

And then we talk, for many hours, on topics ranging from the economic impact of protectionism in the tomato puree tube cap manufacturing industry (as cribbed from what I cited as the Economist, then claimed was Prospect, now realise was probably the BBC Economics Editor's blog) to oral sexy with Zippy (there was a misunderstanding) and the rationalisation [memo to self: complete sentences at the time]. Oh, and biting the head off a clown (he deserved it for being so sinister).

During this time the pub became rammed and then empty again, and the second round was bought from the incredibly nervy barman (why's that jumpiness, perpetual awkwardness and desire to please far too familiar? I can think of several others like that, not including me) shortly before he went home leaving to pub to the care of a woman fixated on her boyfriend.

So other than talk, and drink too much Coke (running up the stairs to the loo my heart was impersonating an overloaded washing machine skittering across the kitchen floor), we didn't do much. And then walk back to respective stations, with him departing in movement and light, and me returning to one-an-hour-ism, and wall-less waiting rooms creeping out of the dark. When distant lights appeared deep in the pitch, I had to resist the urge to flag the train down like a bus, but then I was only person on the station, as I had been since the other way train had chugged through half-an-hour earlier in its plumes of fumes (yep, so remote that it has no third rail or overheads).

Speaking of plumes of fumes, the Guardian recently linked to this what-if ad. Fairly effective given 'out of sight, out of mind' definitely applies to energy and carbon conservation efforts. Faintly reminiscent of this Sony Bravia advert, which possibly is a bit ironic given the electron devouring* nature of the product... whereupon the author reads the back on the monitor in front of him and discovers that his maths is correct, the Samsung CRT thing currently showing this post is capable of using more energy that a 46" Sony Bravia. So I'm not sure if I can be on a high horse or not.

* Please note, no electrons were harmed in the making of electricity.

Except I worked out the wattage from voltage and the amps stated on the back. Except I used the UK standard of 240 V (or in EU-speak 230 V +/- 10%), which is listed on the back. But it is featured as the top end of the operational range, so 100 V could equally be accepted as the input. So unless the monitor is under half the brightness when operating in America (or the monitor handles electricity in a really cackhanded way) it can't possibly be running at my original calculation of 336 W because it simply wouldn't function at a lower voltage. Conversely it must be running at 100 V, so 140 W, because otherwise it couldn't run at only 100 V. So if the amperage stated on the back isn't the constant demand (otherwise the thing would have to be producing special 'dark' photons for the scary bits of films) but the maximum demand, intended to inform the user about which fuse they need in the plug, then that makes sense.

And part of me is having my usual worry that what I've said can't possibly be true, because it's based on maths, and I distrust maths because it's never been as obvious as all my teachers have claimed it to be.

140 W does sound much more sensible, as the other would be like having a third of basic electric heater in the room, rather than only someone doing a lot of strenuous activity. I can't check equivalents to make sure this is about right by looking at the nearest actual television as that has Rediffusion on the front and "Made in the United Kingdom" on the back so possibly pre-dates Mr Volta. Still works, apart from when it has to be turned upside-down and shaken.

But back to the ad, I quite like this mock one. But the enlivened Glasgow still wins.


PS. When testing for quirks having just increased the number of computer innards, do make sure the keyboard is unobstructed and that one's mobile phone, for instance, has not tumbled forward to lie upon the F1 key. I was starting to get concerned by the lack of mention on any help site of cascading help windows loading with each program. It was only after the toothcombing scans and repeated judicious use of Alt Control Delete that I noticed.

Still haven't figured out why new RAM should make the monitor fail to work on the first boot as the motherboard chirps twice, but then when reset boot fine with the new RAM, the only problem being the message about error logs is too short lived to be read.

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