September 2003 Archives
September 30, 2003
September 26, 2003
Hot-smoked dill salmon, miniature mixed game pie, Old Peculier and Blue Swaledale cheeses, sundried tomato-stuffed green olives, baked-today chunky bread, Earl Grey/Green Tea mustard, entertainingly rough South African Shiraz.
Fan-ruddy-tastic, I tell you. Bought at... wait for it... Tebay Service Station on the M6.
It's the only privately-owned motorway services in the UK. It's like all the other services, only with ducks, friendly staff who care, and one of the best delies around. Yes, the latter is a bit unexpected, but it turns out to be well worth the trip. It's one of the few things I'll miss about zipping up and down between Leeds and Glasgow.
September 25, 2003
...but possibly as late as Q5 or Q6.
I like the thinking here: redefine the environment so the problem disappears. It's the 'Green's Function' solution to scheduling.
September 24, 2003
Chris Heilman has (a.) added me to his blogroll, which surprises and flatters me and should by rights catapult this site if not into the A-list, at least into the D-list (though my Technorati rating still seems to be 'Level 1 Novice -3', harrumph), and - much more importantly - (b.) posted some delightful pictures of rocks. Click through, you'll see.
September 19, 2003
September 17, 2003
It's surprisingly hard to find a photogenic orange. Seriously, next time you're at the market, cast a critical eye over the citrus fruit; which would you pick to represent That Which Is Orangeness? Oranges are round and... uh... orange, right? Hardly, they're mostly a bit squiffy around the edges, and more-or-less yellowish. Big ones tend to be a little mottled, have surface blemishes, and the crown (or whatever the end is call) has often split, which isn't very attractive.
In my own admittedly limited sample, I found large satsumas to look much more like oranges than the oranges did. Smaller satsumas aren't really up to scratch, though, and they're usually somewhat oblate to boot.
As for why I seek orangelike oranges - it's Proposals time. Which means we're pitching for business. And... well, if you were writing a pitch for a quarter-million quids'-worth of business, you'd want a decent orange too, right?
Or maybe my life is a little weird. Sometimes it's hard to tell.
September 16, 2003
Just to fool me, my espresso thingy today emitted coffee through only the left nozzle. Oh, those whacky Italians. How we Laughed. And then How we Mopped Up.
See, the thing is, about a year ago there was a similar run of articles about how we don't read the letters of words, bur rather the overall shape of the word itself. That is: replace a bunch of words with just the outline transcribed by the ascenders and descenders, and you can still read the word - or at least, the sentence, if you have a run of such block outlines.
And both theories can't be right, can they? Couple with the fact that nobody seems able to pin down the 'rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy,' and I claim urban myth. Sorry. Nice idea, not taken in by it.
September 14, 2003
There's something slightly bizarre about doing the Last Night of the Proms as a link-up from the Albert Hall to Swansea, Belfast and Glasgow. Surely, all those sea shanties, waved crosses of St. George, and Union Flag boaters would incite riots around the nations and regions?
Nah, through a cunning ruse it seems each prom was a cavalcade of appropriate nationalist fervour; while London was bathing in Elgar, up in Glasgow we had a bit of a ceilidh. By the time Jerusalem was builded, the Scots were singing with the best of them. Which, as an Englishman, was pretty bizarre to be in the middle of.
Thus, a fun time had by all. Bravo BBC for turning an event that's always dangerously close to both jingoism and loony panto into something of a (genuinely national) party. Perhaps by next year the howl-round will be sorted, and the Glasgow promenaders will be able to hear the orchestra, hmm?
September 13, 2003
I've been a Demon customer for eight years. I call them about once a year on a support issue, less of late since I've been using NTL or ADSL broadband. Demon do a couple of twiddly bits I appreciate, and their support has previously been relatively good. And unlike, say, Nildram, at least they haven't dropped me in steaming piles of oozing goo, from a great height.
And then today, I called their helpdesk. I'm still on hold. Meanwhile, I'm trying to text-chat 'live' to their agents, which appears to be the preferred option. Since they're saving the chat session 'for quality-control purposes,' I don't see why I shouldn't too. Here goes;
[2:35] Jonathan: [intro to the effect of: Four months ago I received many, many emails, returned as 'undeliverable.' Changing my email password stopped them, which is either a coincidence or evidence to support the view that my mail account was compromised. The situation is now recurring.]
[2:40] Jonathan: Is there anybody there?
[2:45] Jonathan: [Tumbleweed rolls through the helpdesk room]
[2:47] Jonathan: Hello? Anyone?
[2:50] Jonathan: Help help, the virus is mutating. Now it's, like, *so* big! Arrghhh! It's got my leg! It's dragging me in! Help!
[2:52] Jonathan: Alternatively, help me with someone who appears to have compromised my mail account on your server. Thanks.
[2:56] Jonathan: I'm blogging this, by the way.
[2:58] Jonathan: [twiddles thumbs]
[3:00] Jonathan: Old Zen conundrum: If a tech support request goes unanswered, does it leave a job ticket?
[3:02] Jonathan: Oh, look! Another two bounced emails!
[3:05] Jonathan: Incidentally, why does the text chat window scroll the wrong way? It's mightily confusing. Or at least, it would be if there was anybody else in the chat session!
[3:06] Jonathan: What are Pipex like these days?
[3:08] Jonathan: That's more than half an hour. Forget it. I'll just let your mail servers gum up and get you blocked by other ISPs, that's fine. I don't use them anyway.
Stuff this for a lark. I'm off to look at my new flat.
...and other perambulating politicians. I'm particularly fond of Gwyneth Dunwoody crushing a car, though it doesn't quite fit the criteria.
Most pleasing, perhaps, is that only relatively few of the respondents were entirely po-faced about the matter. And of course, they're the ones left looking stupid.
[another find by my dad, of course.]
My first comment spam! That's got to move me up the weblog hierarchy, surely?
Hint to the poster: nobody reads this blog. Reminder to Martin: please don't post anonymously.
September 11, 2003
My solicitor just called to tell me that, apparently, I've bought a flat in Glasgow.
Oh. Gosh. I wasn't exactly... really? Which one?
It seems I have five weeks of financial mayhem, and then I'm in. As soon as I believe it, I'll doubtless be terribly excited. Right now I'm frantically trying to remember what the place looks like, since they've all blurred together rather.
I have a home.
Speaking of Metafilter: this thread from two years ago is worth re-reading. WTC attack, unfolding in comments in real time as we all tried to work out what was happening.
September 10, 2003
We are blog. You will be trivialised. Journalism is futile.
Welcome Vinay to the cadre of bloggers.
One of the dirty secrets of being a Mac user has been that Flash performance, frankly, sucks. No more. Today Macromedia's long-awaited Flash Player 7 finally came out of beta: get it here, install it, and enjoy about twice the speed you had yesterday.
What a relief, I tell you.
Sadly, the website of the Bryson Gore Appeciation Society doesn't appear to be in Google's mighty database. Indeed, only one sole remnent of the Cult of Gore appears to remain: here. Curious.
Nevertheless, it was a delight to catch up with him last night. Sometime, remind me to tell the story of the previous time I met Bryson: it bears repetition.
There's an extent to which the sniping at Media Studies courses is just another example of a bizarre combination under which Britain seems to labour: that of failing to value erudition, while simultaneously deriding the (perceived) stupid.
Certainly, I think it ludicrous to encourage Media Studies graduates to read Physics instead, when the former is more employable than the latter. Also, I've started seeing terrifically able, driven, inspirational, witty and knowledgeable Media Studies graduates - a far cry from the mostly sullen and - let's be blunt - thick mob who threw themselves on Monday's Guardian recruitment pages only a few years ago.
Sure, it is ludicrous that there are more students of television studies than there are people making the stuff. But to dismiss the entire subject on that basis is to be both a snob and an inverted-snob simultaneously. Which feat I admire, but hardly wish to repeat.
September 6, 2003
Ben Hammersley unwittingly sends me on my way to Leeds with a long-lasting chuckle, care of this piece about the end of the world, and John Peel.
No more stories from Afghanistan sadly - it's all pukka journalism now, with him getting paid and all - but the pictures are outstanding. Lovely, lovely portraits.
September 4, 2003
The other day, having pretty much run out of clean clothes - as one does - I was wearing an old College sports top. Not that I was any more of a sportsman at university than I am now: this was for a group that did crosswords while eating cakes, of a Sunday afternoon. It's a long story.
Anyway, a colleague asked what the coat of arms on the breast was for. I explained. 'Oh,' he observed, 'nothing Muslim, then?' - for the arms do indeed feature, prominently, a crescent. It's a curious crescent, on its back (as it were), and looking as much like a croissant as anything. My colleague wondered whether this arrangement could be interpreted as offensive. I hadn't considered that, and spent the rest of the day worried I'd committed some dreadful religious faux pas.
Then tonight, I had one of those sudden 'Hang on a...' moments, and invoked Google. As best I can tell, from sites like this, the crescent didn't come into common use in Islam until after 1453. My college's use predates this by a little over a century: it's taken from the arms of the founder, Bishop Bateman, who's family presumably used it considerably prior. So, no conflict at all.
Sometimes we forget the scale of our history.
It would be helpful, in an article about journalistic integrity, for the author to know the difference between elicit and illicit. One might think.
A litany of errors by BT that mirrors my own saga with Cable and Wireless (as was - AKA 'Cabal and Clueless'), of three years ago. At one point I called them from a phone they insisted (a.) wasn't theirs, (b.) wasn't in my name, and (c.) wasn't even connected... and then they billed me for the call anyway. There are still two set-top boxes in my flat they swear blind I can't possibly have, since these particular serial numbers are supposedly installed in other peoples' houses.
So, when I finally move into a new flat, are any telcos worth signing up with?
[Update: having commented on this entry, Alan's NTL account has been deleted. You couldn't make this up.]
September 3, 2003
The day after we interviewed Colin Prescot for Science Shack, the (paper)(hot air) balloon we were making collapsed during inflation. We managed to over-pressure the thing, and blew a seam at the top. Now it looks like exactly the same thing has happened to Colin's balloon, Qinetiq 1. Poor sods.
Credit to Qinetiq for voicing their continued support for the project. If you recall, the flight was due last summer but an appropriate weather window failed to materialise, so they've been on board for at least three years.
September 2, 2003
That's odd. Microsoft will allow a major supplier to deliver a PC configured without a bundled operating system. So long as it's Virtual PC for Mac, apparently - the 'standalone' package is a raw PC in software, on which you can install your choice of Windows, Linux, *BSD, Solaris, OPENSTEP, OS/2 Warp, etc etc.
Well, I think it's funny.
[chorus off: 'Geek!']
September 1, 2003
We moved offices on Friday, from the department being scattered all over the building to us all being together on the ground floor. Well, there's a 'core' office, and a 'production' office - the latter having about thirty desks, of which currently one is occupied. The one I'm at. The rest of the room is a total bomb-site, filing cabinets and chairs piled on top of each other, stack-boxes of papers as high as the Berlin Wall, that sort of thing. There's a chap in here drilling, and another painting, and somebody plumbing in PCs. Desks and drawers are strewn wildly.
It's like working in the CTU, around about hour seven of 24 season 2.
If, like me, you're waiting for the email from the Qinetiq 1 mailing list, letting you know when they're go for launch... it should have been sent out 2 days ago. Also, if you're waiting for the email from the press mailing list: ditto. Oops.
Anyway, they're go for launch. Good luck, chaps.
[one of my shows interviewed pilot Colin Prescott nearly 2 years ago: he's clearly barking, but also a classic adventurer-type. I'd very much like to see the venture succeed - it's up there with Thrust SSC and the X Prize for sheer balls.]