The Blog of Zakspade

September 2017 Archive
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Out of the Mouths of Babes
Saturday 30 September, 2017
A recent conversation with a four-year-old child went thus:

Child: ‘What do you call a man with a rubber toe?’

Me: ‘I don’t know.’

Child: ‘Roberto.’

I feel that is a child with a bright future.

It crossed my mind that perhaps I ought to canvass a few under-fives to see if I can come up with anything to cure AIDs, stop war, make Brexit as painless as possible, and develop faster-than-light travel so we can meet Little Green Men all over the universe.

 
The Dark Side
Friday 29 September, 2017
Near where I live, a car owner insists on parking their car on the pavement overnight. A recent conversation with them went something like this:

‘Why do you park your car on the pavement and block it for mothers with buggies and wheelchair users?’

‘I want to keep my car out of the road because this is a corner.’

‘Why do you park your car on a corner?’

‘I don’t park it on a corner: I park it under a streetlamp which just happens to be on a corner.’

I suppose the logic is there - except the car is there all day those weeks when he is working on a nightshift.

However, recently the streetlamp in question became faulty and has been dark for the last couple of weeks. The car is now parked on the dark side of a tight bend blocking a footpath that is now effectively in pitch-black darkness at night because the car is shielding it from weak light from lamps further along the street.

The person who parks their car there is more of a pillock than a parker, it appears, and it seems the local authorities seem to agree because they issued a ticket after a formal complaint was lodged with them.

Mind you, he only started to park further up the road after the third ticket was issued.

A couple of things to note:

Rather than just moaning about lazy car parking blocking footpaths; make a formal complaint,

AND

Local authorities are quicker to come out and issue revenue-raising parking tickets than they are at fixing faulty streetlamps that eat into maintenance budgets.

 
Warp Speed, Captain!
Thursday 28 September, 2017
Speed cameras are sometimes considered a pox on Society, and without doubt, they merely paper over the cracks known as; not enough police officers.

However, contrary to popular belief, the placement of such heinous technology believed to have been invented solely to extract payment from motorists, requires quite a bit of bureaucracy to be waded through before a brightly painted box on a stick appears.

Not so the speed indicator sign.

You know the things: they display a smiley or glum face depending on whether you are travelling under or over the proscribed speed limit; or the sign that stays off unless you go over said proscription but then flashes into life and displays the speed that you probably already know is what you ought to be travelling at, or below.

The former irks me a darn sight more than actual speed, sorry, safety cameras do because - in my humble opinion - they merely flag up an attention-grabbing notification at innocent and law-abiding drivers instead of leaving them to get on with watching the road conditions so as to remain safe drivers.

The latter come across as merely patronising, at best. The driver who is in a hurry to get their next disappointment will just ignore them.

However, near where I live is one of the latter road signs and it is set up so that everyone gets a chance to see it flash into action. Depending on the weather, it will remind you that the 30mph speed limit on that stretch of road can be experienced anywhere between 25mph and 40mph.

My worry is that if speed (again, my apologies), safety cameras trigger and record a speed over the limit for a particular piece of road while the driver is travelling significantly slower, then what hope do the innocent and conscientious drivers have regarding avoidance of the unofficial driving tax levied by successive governments since they realised the ease by which motorists can be relieved of money?

 
Not the Theatre
Wednesday 27 September, 2017
A funny thing happened on the way home the other night.

As I approached a busy mini-roundabout in town, I noted no one was preparing to turn across me so I made to continue and the car approaching from directly ahead swung around the roundabout nearly taking the front off my car.

While I was willing to place a large amount of money behind the belief he had not indicated, I was not certain enough to have backed it up with my life, so I ended up miffed but unsure whether my annoyance was directed at the other car driver or myself.

Due to his about face he was now in front of me and I followed him up the road. At the next mini-roundabout he didn’t give any indication as to his intentions as he negotiated it, although to be fair, there was no one other than myself following him. Accordingly, I felt unable to use the fact to convince myself that he had not indicated at the previous roundabout when I had been forced to brake violently to avoid him.

At the next roundabout - without any warning or indication - he decided to again reverse his direction by swinging about the painted island in the middle of a three-way junction. Unfortunately for him this time there was another car present other than me and it ploughed into him.

Karma can be such a bitch at times, but I went home that night with a clear conscience, light heart, and faint smirk on my face...

 
Constant Cuffing
Tuesday 26 September, 2017
I have a cold and decided to try and get some sleep downstairs away from the rest of the household.

It was the constant cuffing from my wife over my constant coughing that persuaded me.

 
Tired but Pleased
Monday 25 September, 2017
It was nearly 1am when something woke me. I was aware of the time because the first thing I did was reach for my phone and login to the webcam downstairs to see if the dogs were awake.

They were all squeezed onto the one bed and apparently asleep. I lay there wide awake convinced something was responsible, but what could it have been?

Or was it still there?

The central heating pump was running. That wasn’t something unusual because my domestic system heats water according to a pattern known only to the gods so as to ensure hot water is always available no matter what timing is set by mere mortals. However, as I strained to listen, I could hear a slight irregularity in the tone.

Now I was wide awake and unable to be otherwise. As it continued I recalled a time when the boiler failed to respond to a demand from the water temperature sensor. The result back then was tepid water in the morning because the boiler had remained off while the rest of the system circulated the hot-becoming-cooler water about the system during the night. As I seem to recall, that morning was frosty and there was talk about snow falling later in the day - so the timing wasn’t too good.

So up I got in order to investigate. On went my dressing gown and as I passed the airing cupboard I listened to the pump in action and satisfied myself that the fluctuation in the sound wasn’t my imagination, before going downstairs to check the boiler.

First the dogs wanted to be let out. That took a while as they were confused by the timing of my appearance. Then I tried to ascertain the status of the boiler through the little LED flashing merrily. I was unable to read the label attached next to it because the stupid thing was on the wall at the perfect height for someone seven feet tall. I was becoming ratty - not good when something is potentially playing up.

I went out to the garage and fetched some steps so as to get up higher and have a better look. It turned out that the label had nothing to say on the subject of LEDs and the fact added to my rattiness.

Next the Internet was to be used to find a manual that would tell me what the LED was indicating. Joy, the Internet connection into the house was down. I looked about me for something to throw through a window but as my phone came to my hand, I realised I could use it as a wifi access point and get online with my laptop.

Within minutes I found the information I was seeking and I returned to the boiler and followed the steps outlined and within a few more minutes all was well.

Had my irritability evaporated? Hardly; what idiot decided that a green flashing LED was to indicate a failed ‘call for heat’ whereas an orange was a sign that it had been successful?

I returned to bed happy I was going to have hot water to wash in later, but annoyed at the fact that morons walk amongst us.

 
Travelling on the Superhighway
Sunday 24 September, 2017
There I was, walking along the road struggling to check the progress of a local football team in League One via a sports website on my smartphone, when I saw it coming towards me.

Normally I take little notice of them precisely because I am usually walking through personal choice, but this one was different and I broke off from my frustrated attempt to determine the team's fate as I read the promotional flashes across the front of the bus heading in my direction.

At that precise point on my walk home signal strength to my phone was a little patchy and it was taking an age to load the sought after information, so what I was seeing almost stopped me dead.

‘Free wifi and USB charging on this bus.’

The idea of plugging the small device in my hand into a USB port to boost the fast dwindling battery life, while at the same time connecting to wifi so as to load the webpages containing the information I was looking for, was suddenly very attractive.

Unfortunately the bus was going in the wrong direction, I wasn’t at a bus stop, and I didn’t have any money for the fare. Besides, I haven’t travelled on a bus for a great many years and I wasn’t sure what the protocol is surrounding the process of flagging them down is these days.

If I want to travel aboard one I need a ticket. Do I stop a bus and buy one, or is that an ice cream van?

Hang on, I don’t mean buy an ice cream van to use as payment to afford me passage on a bus. That would be silly, but if it gave me free wifi and USB charging then I’d consider it.

Without doubt, bus companies are looking to attract more of us as fare paying customers. It is a pity that they don’t just lower the cost rather than adding perks no one really needs - unless walking along the road desperately trying to overcome the crap signal on their smartphones while trying to surf the Internet...

 
Missing as a Form of Art?
Saturday 23 September, 2017
 
 
Who Goes There?
Friday 22 September, 2017
Today’s Blog has been brought to you courtesy of a great number of passwords.

First I logged onto my computer and that was followed by me supplying a password to access my work folders where I keep my writing projects.

Next is another logon as I use a dedicated computer to manage my online presence. Once the Blog has been transferred to the webpage editor I then log into my webspace and upload the content to my website.

That is only four, but each is long and complicated in order to ensure they cannot be guessed. While it might be tempting to use one password over multiple login identities, if one is compromised then whoever discovers it then has the password for every other account I run.

That means having to know a total of 52 characters made up of letters (upper and lowercase), numbers and special characters just in order to be able to have many millions of readers in the cyber world see my words.

Hmm.

Then there is the fact of my email, bank and Facebook accounts. Between them they account for another 42 letters, numbers and special characters. Logging into the computer network where I am employed adds another 12 to the count bringing the total for a normal day to a string of 106 keys to be pressed in a particular order.

I had a trawl through my passwords list in my head and reckoned the total length of all the passwords I require to cover all eventualities in my modern-day life runs to approximately 1,300 characters in length.

None of them are ‘password.’

I now have a headache.

 
The Small Town
Thursday 21 September, 2017
On my walk into work each day I never fail to see someone I know. It is one of the benefits of having moved to a small town.

On the downside is the fact that if I wish to indulge in a little road rage, whoever I shake a fist at, or mouth unkind words, will be a relative of someone I know, a next-door neighbour of a work colleague, or something else with a good deal less than the six degrees of separation said to exist between everyone in the world.

The claim that no one is more than six steps away from any given person when considering a ‘friend of a friend’ statement was originally made by Frigyes Karinthy in 1929 and become more widely known in the 1990 play of that name written by John Guare. The game ‘Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon’ came from the concept. The idea is to link any actor to Kevin Bacon through no more than six connections: two actors are connected if they have appeared in a film or commercial together. Google makes it possible to search for any given actor's 'Bacon Number' through their search engine thus: [actor’s name] bacon number.

Whatever the merits of the idea, it is certainly true that flicking the bird to an errant car driver can be fraught with diplomatic risk in my home town.

A benefit is running for a bus.

I was a little slow getting ready for work the other day and was forced to trot to work so as to not be late. On the way I approached a bus stop from which a bus was just departing. The driver flashed his headlights at me and stopped in order to let me alight.

Time was not my friend so I needed to keep up my pace, but I raised a hand and gave him a ‘thumbs up’ followed by the time-honoured hand waggle of the person who is declining an extra portion of cake.

For certain that would never have happened in the town from where I came.

As it happened, the bus was going in the wrong direction, but it left me with a good feeling on my jog into work that day.

 
Subscribe!
Wednesday 20 September, 2017
Imagine you are looking to buy a car.

After browsing through lots of marketing material you settle on the luxury of a sporty little number that claims 0-62mph of less than five seconds; a top speed of over 150mph; and a fuel consumption of 55mpg.

For this you pay £30k and take delivery of something you view as being a worthwhile buy.

After trying to drive it more than a mile from your home and the engine conking out every time, you contact the manufacturer to claim it is a shoddy bit of kit.

‘Ah, you need to subscribe to our coffee-making service, sir.’

‘I don’t bloody well drink coffee,’ you reply, wondering what the heck that has to do with anything.

‘No, you don’t understand, sir. You need to pay us one thousand pounds per month for a coffee service otherwise the car engine management system will cease to function whenever you travel more than a mile from your house.’

‘A thousand pounds a month! That’s outrageous! All your sales literature claims how bloody fantastic your car is and says absolutely nothing about anyone buying it having to purchase a thousand pounds a month coffee-making subscription, I don’t even like coffee!’

‘That’s as it may be, sir, but you have to take out the subscription or the engine management system will remain locked so as to become disabled once the limit of travel has been reached.’

‘No, that is not acceptable - you will be hearing from Trading Standards.’

A very silly tale, I hear you mutter, before adding, it couldn’t happen in the Real World.

Well, try buying Microsoft Office 2016 for the Mac. You pay over £200 for the fully-laden version with Outlook and find that some of the functionality is locked unless you take out an Office 365 subscription for around a further £80 a year.

Having bought the full suite you are held to ransom until you pay even more money for something you don’t want because you have bought the product already.

My head hurts, but if I knew whose idea it was to operate this scam, it would be their head that hurts - and much worse than mine.

 
Why is 'Blue Whale' hysteria gripping India?
Tuesday 19 September, 2017
I like to keep abreast of the news around the world, but the mornings give me so little time, all I can do is scan the headlines.

Today’s Blog title is one such headline and it makes me wonder if it is a candidate for stating the bleeding obvious.

While the cow may be considered sacred in India, the whale - blue, pink, green, or any colour you can imagine - is not. Consequently, approaching one in the middle of the road is a little daunting. Whereas a cow can be rounded, a whale is decidedly bigger and capable of blocking a road in a much more comprehensive manner.

The result is total disruption of Indian Society as it struggles to cope with such impediments.

Why wouldn’t their appearance cause consternation?

 
Whatever Happened to...?
Monday 18 September, 2017
Some years ago I started off what was to be a regular item with that title in a publication I was being paid to edit. The intention was that I would ‘seed’ the series with an initial contribution based on something well-known in the area and readers would then flood the office with queries that would provide further topics.

I wrote about the average speed cameras erected at great expense on a short stretch of road coming off a very busy roundabout and questioned where they and their massive gantries went after the trial period during which they had cost the local Council Tax payer a packet.

The massive structures were stupidly and ineffectively sited - I wrote that I hoped it would be something addressed by questioning the career prospects of whoever signed off on their installation and thought it okay to spend upwards of £65k of the local council’s budget on the installation of something that had zero value through being so ill placed.

Yes, it produced feedback from local people, but purely on the piece and every response was devoid of any questions over the disappearance of anything else once seen or experienced but now gone.

In fact, the amount of ire raised by the matter did flood the office, but it did so without actually providing anything by way of future subjects.

The idea died.

And that is what happened to Whatever Happened to...?

 
Who'd Have Thunk it?
Sunday 17 September, 2017
Maybe Ada Lovelace.

I’ll leave that to those of you with a certain bent to work that one out.

 
Seriously?
Saturday 16 September, 2017
As I walked out of the hospital, I was greeted by the sight of an unkempt young man. He was talking to some nicotine addicts who were puffing away outside the front door so as to avoid smoking inside the building, thereby adhering to the law of the land if ignoring the notice above their head not to smoke on the hospital grounds.

His speech was slurred as if he were drunk. His appearance was that of someone who had slept in a bush overnight. The smell that came from him strongly suggested that it was multiple nights.

While the puffers puffed, he was hunting about their feet as he explained the art of searching for dog ends. As he did so he nonchalantly explained that he wasn’t actually drunk but still high on drugs and hoping to offset his ‘coming down’ by ‘filling up on smokes.’

His attempts to engage bystanders in conversation didn’t appear to be going too well as he scavenged about their feet. However, there was little chance that he was going to be able to lash out at those that he might have viewed as being rude to him if he become annoyed for he was handcuffed to a large police officer.

Yes, a low-life waster riding for free on the back of society had come into contact with the legal system and seemed to be in need of treatment paid for by the collection of taxes; the payment of which was probably unknown to him if he smoked recycled cigarettes and partook in illicit and untaxed substances.

But I was dumbfounded at the sight of the compliant police officer being towed about as the vaguely human mess on legs hunted for his quarry.

 
The Circular Reference
Friday 15 September, 2017
On this day in 1997 - exactly thirty years ago - the domain google.com was registered by what was to be Google, founded in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

Being aware of this anniversary I set about writing this Blog entry but I wanted to double-check the details.

So I Googled the facts.

There's something odd in there but I cannot quite determine what.

 
Tomorrow
Thursday 14 September, 2017
Unfortunately time is something that we have less control over than we might wish. It passes at a rate that we cannot alter in our normal lives and is impossible to reverse, but imagine if we did have the power to manipulate it to better suit us.

The answer might have been found but I would not claim to be the discoverer in case the authorities come along and take me into 'protective custody' in order to protect themselves.

Tomorrow's Blog entry has been written and I will be starting it soon. Once it is has been finished I will begin today's entry once I have completed the entry for yesterday.

Now I ought to stop because the police are banging on my front door. Now I am stopping because the police are banging on my front door. I have stopped because the police are banging on my front door.

There is a banging on my front door. I'm not here: I never was.

 
Today
Wednesday 13 September, 2017
I have a busy day ahead of me. Technology is a wonderful thing and it promises to save time and effort, but it also means more tasks can be recorded and pop up in a form that pesters me.

Overall technology has decreased my spare time as opposed to increasing it.

In the Old Days I would have gone to work, returned home afterwards, had something to eat, and then retired to bed after watching the TV news. Within moments of my head hitting my pillow I would remember things I was supposed to have done during the day.

The following day I would do the same and the list of things I meant to do would be added to and my mind would be occupied with it as I drifted off to sleep.

Angst, but overall life was so much better back then.

These days nothing goes unforgotten. As long as it is inputted into my electronic calendar, there will be chirrups, beeps, bells and ringing to badger me into attending to things so that I can sleep more peacefully at night.

The problem is that I still find myself thinking of tasks not done, but these days it is about having forgotten to have entered them into the device that annoys the heck out of me and all those within earshot.

 
Yesterday
Tuesday 12 September, 2017
Matt Munro had a hit with the song Yesterday in 1965, 52 years ago.

Hardly yesterday, but a title is a title.

I mention it is because today is here so there must have been a yesterday. However, I cannot recall a blessed thing I did after around midday.

Either I hit the bottle early or I died. That said, I can’t find any empty bottles and I just skinned a shin against the coffee table beside an easy chair as I reached over to check for evidence of boozing. I suspect that if I were a spectre then it wouldn’t hurt, but it bloody well does.

So I conclude I am not dead and I can find no trace of an alcohol-related cause for my inability to recall the events of yesterday.

Ah, I was born before Matt Munro’s success with the song; that must be it.

 
Vocation Revisited
Monday 11 September, 2017
Interesting feedback generated by my Blog entry yesterday:

Sometimes we are not aloud [sic] enough proper time to make deliveries so we have to park as close to delivery addresses as we can.

Said van is parked there every day outside the owner’s house.

To the label twat should be added illiterate, although if I were the person who tried to defend his style of parking, maybe I’d use the term illegitimate - either might do...

 
Vocation
Sunday 10 September, 2017
On the surface, he seemed to be just a van driver, but this man was something special.

Some might say that all he had to do was keep his eyes open and ensure that he and his vehicle had to be places by certain times; getting there without hitting road users or pedestrians, but he was obviously more than just someone who wore a watch and had a driving licence.

No, he had real style and an innate ability to achieve things no other mortal being could be capable of: he had parked on a pavement without totally blocking it but had ensured it was impossible to use, nonetheless.

While it was an amazing personal achievement, I feel it only right that his method be shared with others so that it may be repeated. That way more of the Poor who are forced to walk rather than drive on pedestrian footpaths could enjoy the skill shown by the wizard driver.

His technique was simple in that he combined a number of elements together in a manner that gave his van a greater presence than its size might otherwise have suggested - he parked half on the pavement, adjacent to a lamppost so that anyone who tried to use the footpath had to jink between it and the door mirror that jutted out.

While that is a ploy employed by many an ignorant and lazy parker, he added an aspect that left me full of wonder: he chose a lamppost that had a big dog poo spread around its base having been trodden in previously.

It was plainly impossible to perform the required movements to get by without stepping in the mess left by a dog walked by someone as spectacularly selfish as the van driver.

By taking two simple acts of arsehole behaviour and bringing them together so perfectly he had managed to leave a gap that was just enough for a lithe, fit person to negotiate, yet at the same time he had created an opening that was in reality a trap that, if noticed, would dissuade any attempt to pass.

The man was a genius and I take my hat off to him, or I would have had I been wearing one. Instead, I will just settle for the application of the label upon him of twat.

 
The Sign of Three
Saturday 9 September, 2017
Walking, thinking, looking, getting nearer to work, and then I noticed it.

Parked on a driveway I was passing was a people carrier. One of those things one buys when sports cars cannot manage the girlfriend/wife and three kids. Inside across the back seat were a child seat and a baby carrier. Of greater interest to me was the fact that a rear wheel only had three bolts and a hole where another could be inserted.

Knocking on the door of the house seemed wise. Many might claim they would have done so in order to alert the owner to potential disaster in case any of the remaining bolts were loose. The avoidance of the possible loss or injury of the driver, spouse, three kids, baby, Auntie Mabel, and assorted small furry pets would be a worthwhile cause.

Or maybe it was the fact that if I had carried on to work without taking a moment to mention it I would have spent the rest of the day wondering.

No reply. No activity. So I knocked louder. This time a dog barked and came to the door. It didn’t sound very big but it was determined to let me know it was there. However, despite the barking being added to my second very loud knock, there was still no reply.

I wandered over to the capacious family lorry and placed my hand upon the bonnet. It was warm, and as Sherlock Holmes might have done, I deduced that the vehicle had been recently used; thereby suggesting that telling the owner might be a jolly good idea.

A third knocking on the front door ensued and all it seemed to do was drive the canine fiend on the other side of the door into a frenzy of madness. I imagined it bouncing off the walls; its eyes wide open and teeth bared as it sought my blood.

Whatever was happening on the other side of the door, it wasn’t the movement of someone coming to answer my knocking, so I gave up and set off once again to work.

I looked at the wheel that had caused my disquiet in the first place and as I carried on I saw that the other rear wheel was also missing a bolt.

Rather than return to the house I decided that it probably just a sign to me for the day. Something significant was going to happen in connection with the number three.

Perhaps it was a sign, but not of anything other than the fact that I really ought to consider carrying a pen and paper when I walk to work so I can shove notes through letterboxes whenever I am bothered by missing wheel fastenings...

 
Status
Friday 8 September, 2017
I live in a market town. It is not a huge place. My walk to work in the centre is just over a mile, and that is because I live out on the edge of the place.

Given that only 14-and-a-half people live here and that we don’t yet have electricity, gas or sewerage, and the Internet is where the ladies put their hair overnight, why do I pass so many learner drivers on my daily commute?

Despite the out-in-the-sticks air, cars seem to be quite important here. The biggest impediment to obstacle-free driving of the driver under instruction is another driver being taught how to avoid hitting things. I smile when I see a driving school car being blocked by another containing a student positioning themselves so as to reverse park. It turns to a grin when the car waiting to reverse is baulked by another driver under tutelage.

Then there is my observation of the HGV learner drivers who thunder up the major road along which I walk towards the centre of town: the one with a 7.5 tonne weight limit clearly marked at each end; meaning more student drivers, but this time being directed by dozy instructors incapable of reading road signs.

Then there are the cars towing trailers emblazoned with the names of driving schools offering instruction in towing trailers.

Oh the fun and joy I get to experience in my short walk each day!

Did I mention that I live in a small market town? Perhaps the fact that is seems to be the learner driver capital of the UK means it might be upgraded to city status, thereby joining the ranks of the exalted domiciliary conurbations of our fair isle?

 
The Liar's Award
Thursday 7 September, 2017
My local paper published the winner of the Liar’s Award this week. They didn’t label it as such: I guess they are acting on the advice of their lawyers and leaving it to readers to work it out themselves.

They printed a piece about a certain stretch of road in the area that has cars parked along each side 24/7. Said road provides delivery access to a large retail store and needs to be clear for huge articulated lorries. In addition, a flats complex is accessed by the same road and it is probably a good idea for things like fire engines to have the ability to get near the building if there were to be an emergency.

These are things that never enter the heads of those who park there.

The authority who are responsible for the enforcement of the parking restrictions along that road have been criticised lately because they seem unwilling to issue tickets to those appear too ignorant to take heed of the fact that they are endangering the lives of flat-dwellers and potentially threatening shoppers with shortages of toilet rolls.

Their response?

They cannot issue tickets until the double yellow lines have been repaired (council-speak for ‘repainted’).

Fair point - except the only reason the lines cannot be seen by motorists is that they are obscured by cars parked on them.

 
Fortune Cookies
Wednesday 6 September, 2017
I have received tens of thousands of emails suggesting that I monetise this Blog and make my fortune.

The web stats for the site show my readership is in the hundreds rather than thousands, but I suppose it is possible that someone might be dedicated enough to send the same email over and over.

Or not.

I regularly receive emails of a negatively critical nature over various entries and on the odd occasion something positive lands in my Inbox. Thus far I have been lucky and not attracted much by way of spam. The emails from the nice men who want me to invest in horse racing or roulette wheels are probably genuine and I lose sleep over my lack of enthusiasm in their offers and thereby my failure to enrich them in a financial manner.

The many emails suggesting I could maximise the earning potential of my Blog through web advertising invite me to partake in their services regarding the black art of SEO. Their reasoning is that driving more traffic (readers) my way will increase my value in terms of advertising worth and therefore lead to increased revenue.

The temptation is great. Were I to rebuild the website on which this Blog resides I could incorporate advertisements aimed at you, the readers, and I would very probably realise a healthy income. All I need do is convince prospective advertisers that I can offer them decent exposure (oo-er).

I’m sat here imagining the wealth poised to land in my lap. If I pitch my prices right then I may well enter the ranks of those who have Made It.

If I can convince an advertiser to pay me £250 a month to get their name out to my readership, then they would be paying less than £1 per target, and if each reader bought something from them, that would be great.

What I need to do is convince them that the spammers also read my words and may well be interested in touting advertisers’ wares worldwide.

 
Keeping Blog Entries Short is Good
Tuesday 5 September, 2017
So they are quicker to read.
 
Keyboard Shortcuts
Monday 4 September, 2017
Some are dainty and tiny, while others are bulky and huge.

Whatever their size, it is a fact that cats never consider taking shortcuts and will traipse right across them in a straight line.

 
The Elephant in the Room
Sunday 3 September, 2017
It is interesting that the US-sources I used to determine the origins of the phrase never agreed on the date it was coined; varying between 1955 and 1959, but they all seemed to be in agreement that it originated in the US.

That would probably come as a surprise to Ivan Krylov who in 1814 wrote, The Inquisitive Man. In it he told of a man who goes to a museum and notices all sorts of tiny things, but fails to notice an elephant.

He was born in Moscow, 1769 and died in St. Petersburg, Russian Empire, 1844, aged 75. There is no evidence that he travelled to the United States during his lifetime. Also, given the date of his death it seems unlikely he secretly wrote for any US publications in the 1950s.

When it comes to elephants, the fact that the Internet is rather devoid of reliable information seems to be hugely pachydermic.

 
Never Blindly Rely on Technology
Saturday 2 September, 2017
I have spent many years in IT. During that time I have come to realise that the world only thinks it works.

What really happens is that techies spend a great deal of time and effort ensuring a continued provision of service despite kit failing, becoming confused, or just plain giving up. The way those professionals earn their money is by anticipating failures and putting into place systems that lend invisibility to problems that arise.

It is one of the primary reasons that those who work in the industry never trust devices presented to them in a non-IT environment. It is because they know just how often hi-tech stuff falls over, and without caring and knowledgeable hands being there to ensure recovery, how they will remain fallen.

If one looks at the numbers it begins to make sense. The larger those numbers, the bigger the likelihood of overall failure. For instance: multiple hard drives are used in servers in what is known as a RAID (redundant array of independent disks). The idea is that they can be set up so that if one of them should fail, then there are no immediate worries as the data is duplicated on, or recoverable across, otherwise redundant disks, thus remaining available to the user. However, the very fact that multiple drives are used means failure within such a RAID is more common!

Anyone who has worked with servers will tell you there is a healthy market for replacement hard drives. They fail a lot more frequently than you might imagine. The thing is that users who access what is stored upon them don't get to notice those failures.

Deep joy.

These days I work in a less stressful environment, but you might think that I retain an understanding of the nature of the beast, however you would be wrong. Rather than just simply writing and proofreading what appears up here on my Blog, I write it on one machine before it ends up in a different application elsewhere on my home (Windows) network before then being exported over to a web authoring application residing within a virtual environment upon a Mac. Once there I switch to a different virtual machine to upload those words from within the Mac as it were a Windows machine.

Ah, multiple steps; each with an opportunity for something to go wrong, with the probability of overall failure increased by the very sum of those steps. To cap it all is the fact that I consider the copy finished and comprehensively proofread at the starting point. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, there appear to be disagreements between various computer environments over the grammar with words and phrases being altered, but because I do not proofread the final product (the webpage) some very odd things are creeping through.

It has taken a while but I think I may have pinned it down to a particular import just ahead of the final upload. However, not being a simple mismatch between something like US/British English, it is proving to be rather more difficult to determine precisely why and how it is playing up. So the simple solution is to proofread the final version just before handing it off to be uploaded.

That would be the sensible thing, but as recent events have proved, I am not being very good about adhering to my own advice: never blindly rely on technology.

 
Sixty-Seven
Friday 1 September, 2017
Wood Green to Aldergate: a journey that will allow you to enjoy some of the sights of London.

The first to note is the placement of a couple of primary schools near Black Boy Lane - their location carefully planned so as to have liberals up in arms and organise marches to have the road renamed so as to protect the young minds of the pupils.

As the fever in your head destroys your brain cells, you pass a number of bus stops before reaching Stoke Newington Station where you could disembark to join either the London Overground or National Rail services, if you were not overcome by the offensiveness of the road naming in the area through which you have thus far travelled.

Not to worry if you are still overwhelmed by anger at the name and unable to think straight enough to have your legs work, for a few stops along is Stoke Newington Police Station where you can pop in and waste the time of a number of police officers by haranguing them over their lack of drive to go down there and remove what is plainly an offensive road sign that causes racial disharmony. If you feel particularly feisty you could then launch into a tirade against them and suggest their inaction is down to institutional racism within their force. If you fancy a longer break from your bus journey you might like to question the parentage of their officers.

However, if the mists rise from your mind before you attain incarceration, you can travel on some more along the route and pick up those same rail services at Dalston Kingsland Station, or just a couple further along; Dalston Junction Station.

Not to worry if you are over eager to get off at either stop as further along is St Leonard's Hospital where you can attend their wonderfully equipped A&E department where hours of fun and excitement await you. Or I think you can - the hospital doesn’t make public whether they have an A&E department. That may or may not have something to do with the fact they seem to have attracted a huge number of online comments regarding staff rudeness and lack of communication to visitors and patients. Maybe it is part of the training handed down by the upper echelons that also seem to wish to withhold the information on whether the hospital operates an A&E department? I cannot say for sure but so as to become bogged down with the query, we can rejoin our bus and move along.

Hop off at the Geffrye Museum a few stops along and unwind by viewing the grounds and interior of the house. Think of how the other half used to live and be thankful you were not part of the lower half during that time.

Eventually Shoreditch High Street Station comes along and you can again leave the cosy environs of your bus to travel across London via the London Overground or further afield by rail to the wonderful towns and cities that exist in our nation, if not the minds of those who run it.

If you want to explore dark, urine-polluted tunnels, then hang on a few more stops and you can disembark at Aldgate East Station where you can join the District and Hammersmith or City Underground lines.

For the brave and sleepy, just stay put and enjoy the antics of the cleaners as they work around you at Aldgate Bus Station; the end of your journey along bus route 67.

Or if you can’t be bothered to travel far, then on this day you could merely stand on any street corner and play the spot-the-new-cars game by looking out for number plates with ‘67’ on them.