The Blog of Zakspade

October 2017 Archive
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Today is the Day
Tuesday 31 October, 2017
Today is that day we celebrate every year.

Today is that day which marks an event that affects us all; whether we are Believers, or not.

Today is that day we all take special note.

Today is that day when the Christmas Period officially starts in the world of retail.

 
The Sound of Breaking Glass
Monday 30 October, 2017
It was just short of forty years ago that Nick Lowe wrote a song that has remained on and off with me to this day and it was only yesterday that it came to my mind with great force.

I love the sound of breaking glass

I suppose the sound has it merits.

Deep into the night

The timing could mean so many different things. Being woken in the early hours by the sound downstairs is going to cause a different response than if you hear it at a restaurant.

I love the sound of its condition

Certainly the applause that usually follows it when at a pub, suggests that many people share that love.

Flying all around

But that bit is never good.

Have you ever had to clear up after dropping an empty wine glass onto a stone floor? First the big and obvious pieces are carefully picked up. Then the smaller pieces are collected together with a dustpan and brush before the vacuum cleaner comes out and all evidence of the violent demise of the wine glass is sucked up.

It is after the area has been painstakingly cleared of remnants of the breakage that more splinters are found. It seems that it not only flies apart upon contact with the ground, but it develops the ability to hide itself from even the most intensive search.

The kitchen is declared off-limits while the whole place is once again examined. After another determination that it is clear, a hand is gently wiped across the tiles which, when held to the light, is covered by a sparkly residue. Out comes the vacuum cleaner once more and another noise generation session entails.

Having dogs, there is a very strong need to ensure tongues and shards do not come together, as they surely will, given that they know that the kitchen floor is where food is most likely to be accidentally dropped.

I do not like the sound of broken glass.

 
Dinnertime
Sunday 29 October, 2017
At 02:00 hours, earlier this morning, British Summer Time came to an end and our island went back on to Greenwich Meantime. So if you remembered to set your clocks before going to bed last night then you will have gained an hour’s sleep.

As a consequence your brain will be better capable of dealing with whatever complex or erudite concepts I engage upon this morning.

If you forgot to set your clocks accordingly, then you will have wondered why today’s entry was late being posted. And will be kicking yourself in a sleepy way.

Thankfully, civilised countries that employ Daylight Saving Time (DST) all change their clocks at the same time so that we do not have to trouble ourselves over suddenly altered time differences. Obviously those countries at lower latitudes have no use for DST as the difference between day and night varies less and less as one approaches the Equator.

Judging by the above paragraph it may be surmised that the United States of America is not civilised. They change their clocks next weekend because the concept of DST was their idea back in 1784 when Benjamin Franklin suggested that Parisians could save on candle usage by getting out of bed earlier in the mornings. It appears to have been a comedic dig at the French rather than a serious suggestion, but it could be the reason the US feels the need to apply DST at a different time to many of their major trading partners.

However, in 1895 New Zealand scientist George Hudson presented a paper to the Wellington Philosophical Society, in which he proposed a 2-hour shift forward in October and a 2-hour shift back in March (southern hemisphere). There was interest in the idea, but it was never followed through.

In 1905, British builder William Willett suggested setting the clocks ahead in April, and switching them back in September.

I’m not sure if that explains why the US state of Arizona does not use DST whatsoever. It means that a state within the US - already subject to time zone placement within a large nation - effectively places itself in another time zone for around half the year. Nice, but is gets better: none of the Indian reservations, partly or wholly, within Arizona observe DST.

Yes, the phase you are looking for does indeed include the words, dog’s dinner.

 
Horses in Houses
Saturday 28 October, 2017
I was going to write something about horses in houses. Then it occurred to me that houses in horses would be very silly and nonsensical and therefore the former would be obvious.

Consequently, no one needs to know that a horse in a house is a sensible and rational thing, and so I will refrain from writing anything more on the matter.

 
Checking
Friday 27 October, 2017
Yesterday a leaflet dropped through my front door. It said, ‘Properties in your XXn nXX postcode have risen 15% since 2009.’ It went on to explain how selling my house right now, through a particular estate agent would be a fantastic idea.

It was quite a bold claim, so I set about checking it out.

When I looked it up, it turned out that nine properties in my postcode have been sold in the period 1 January, 2009 up to yesterday. Therefore one might expect that the 15% figure arrived at would be based upon the values of those properties.

Not one had been sold more than once in that same time. Therefore it would be impossible to compare like with like; being akin to saying, ‘I have two oranges in one pocket and three apples in the other, consequently I play the violin.’

It looks like estate agents suffer from the same mental disorder that afflicts so many tabloid newspaper journalists in terms of facts and truth...

 
The Three Amigos
Thursday 26 October, 2017
As I approached the shop at lunchtime, a white BMW swung across the road without warning causing a pedestrian to jump out of the way as it was deftly parked upon the footpath. Clearly the driver wished to be as close as possible to their ultimate destination so as to avoid wearing out their legs.

I watched two women in their 30s get out of the vehicle and quickly make their way inside as if seeking to avoid the heavy rain falling from the blue, cloudless sky. Both were wearing clothing in cerise pink that was so bright as to cause burns on the back of the eyeballs of anyone foolish enough to look at them for more than three seconds.

The colour wasn’t what caught and captivated the eye. No, the first woman was wearing a fluffy bathrobe with matching bedroom slippers, while the other wore the pyjamas that obviously formed a set with the robe.

As I waited patiently in the long queue for the sub post office counter, they bustled about searching for the ATM. Their success was indicated by beeps as they keyed in their PIN.

‘Aw, feck! It won’t give me my eight hundred fecking pounds!’ exclaimed the female in the dressing gown in a loud and sharp Irish brogue.

‘Get it from the fecking counter,’ said the woman wearing the fetching retina-searing pyjamas as she glared at those of us waiting in the line as if weighing up the probability of bypassing us all unchallenged.

‘Aye, get it from the fecker at the counter,’ said a third woman in her 40s who had joined the two night-time attired creatures; her accent matching them. Her own apparel seemed to be hers alone as she wore a matching silk-like dressing gown and pyjamas combination.

Due to the number of people wishing to access the services of the counter, both positions were open. As I unloaded my parcels to be sent off around the world, I was treated to the joys of the transaction being made by the fluffiest woman.

The teller explained that they had to wait for a delay timer to open the safe in order to access the required amount.

‘Aw, what the feck? Now he’s making me wait fer me fecking money!’ she loudly announced in an accusatory manner.

A discrete beep announced the opening of the secure container as I completed my own business and I looked back as I walked away.

‘Jesus, about fecking time!’ bellowed the busty pink object, ‘No one should be forced to wait fer their own fecking money like that!’

Leaving the shop I walked back the way I had come and past the white BMW on the footpath. Now I could understand the desire to park as they had: they needed to be as close as possible so as to allow them to maintain a low profile as they nipped in and back out without drawing attention to themselves.

 
Insomnia
Wednesday 25 October, 2017
Can’t sleep? Read on.

Usage of the word ‘insomnia’ dates to the early 1600s. It comes from the Latin insomnis which is derived from in (the Latin form of negation meaning ‘not’) and somnus meaning ‘sleep.’ It became the more modern form ‘insomnia’ sometime in the mid-1700s.

If you suffer from it then you will be seeking a way to avoid it. Do not fret, a solution is nigh!

Simply read and commit this text to memory. Make sure you learn it so as to be word-perfect when later questioned.

This is one of my more somnolent Blog entries.

 
WINE
Tuesday 24 October, 2017
It is capable of inducing a headache during use rather than the morning after, but when it is good, it is really good.

The PC version of Return to Castle Wolfenstein, full-screen on a Mac with all the fancy visuals stuff turned on - amazing.

I’m still testing it to see just how good it is as I’ve only ever used it before under Linux, but so far I am very impressed.

What is WINE?

I could go into all sorts of techno-babble that would have everyone yawning (even me - it’s still early), but I thought I’d stick to what W-I-N-E stands for: WINE Is Not an Emulator.

Really, it’s all anyone needs to know at this time in the morning.

 
GSoD
Monday 23 October, 2017
Over many years I have witnessed what is known as the Blue Screen of Death (BSoD).

When Microsoft’s baby, known as Windows, gave up the struggle to keep things together, it would seek relief by dumping the user out and displaying a screen headed by an error code which more or less said, ‘You are stuffed!’

With more modern incarnations of Windows, by default the BSoD would only fleetingly be seen as it would herald the rebooting of the computer; unless one were to have delved into System Properties, then Startup and Recovery, to configure it so that the computer would not automatically reboot, making it possible to view the BSoD in all its glory and note down the error condition that had led to the unfortunate expression of Window’s torment.

In the past, Apple users laughed with contempt at how Windows victims became familiar with the view as they found themselves unceremoniously thrown out on their ears. Microsoft’s decision in the 90s to have the computer automatically reboot was claimed to be a way to get it back up and running without the user having to press the power switch.

The idea was that remote servers did not need someone to be despatched in order to power cycle them. It makes perfect sense - but desktop systems as well? No, it is clearly just a way to keep the BSoD while hiding it away from the eyes of mere mortals in order to allay the joke enjoyed by Windows devotees and non-fans alike.

So imagine my surprise when I was faced with similar when my Mac rebooted without warning the other day.

A different operating system naturally means a different colour, so rather than blue, it was grey. The GSoD had come to me and whacked me about the head as forcefully as the BSoD had in the past.

Apart from the colour difference, there was something else that made it more interesting, in a way: within the acres of code ‘explaining’ the error condition it stated that it was as a result of a ‘kernel panic’ - which has to be the coolest operating system failure description on the planet.

 
The Youth of Today
Sunday 22 October, 2017
I was walking towards home alongside a busy road. The path was not unduly narrow, but the three people walking towards me were line abreast and showed no signs of doing anything other than occupying the whole width of the footpath.

As we met, I stopped as the road was too busy to consider stepping into; besides, I was walking with my back to the traffic and it seemed foolish to even consider the idea.

The three facing me had a choice: elbow me out of the way and into the road, or walk around me. With the number of witnesses about, they decided not to push me into the traffic; instead opting to move around me with undisguised ill grace

The word, 'Twat,' was uttered, and another loudly intoned, 'The fucker could so easily of just stepped aside,' followed by the third and loudest voice, 'Some people are just wankers.'

I stood watching them walk on as they once again took up the full breadth of the pavement. One turned and looked back and me and yelled, 'Cunt!'

I can hear you, one and all, decrying the youth of today.

However, the three middle-aged women were probably too old to be labelled as such.

 
The Five Minute Job
Saturday 21 October, 2017
I bought one of those USB-equipped power outlet plates to swap out with a normal double-fronted wall socket.

Armed with a suitable screwdriver I went to the consumer board to kill the power to the downstairs sockets only to find it had to be both upstairs and downstairs.

That added a little bit of time to the job as I had to power off additional devices properly. Once done, I headed back down to do the deed.

Off came the original plate and the wire routing carefully noted before disconnection. Then I offered up the new socket face.

From left-to-right the replacement was earth, neutral, live whereas the original was the opposite way around - and the existing wires in the wall cavity box had been cut to precisely reach their previous destinations.

This required more tools as I set about modifying the positions and routing of the wiring within the wall so as to allow me to be able to connect everything up correctly. It must not be forgotten that because it was a ring circuit there were nine wires in total to connect to the three points on the back plate.

A trip to the shed was required to acquire the necessary tools, and after spending 30 minutes struggling with the existing layout of cables, another trip to the shed was required so as to source additional materials.

Once sorted, I discovered that the ‘live’ clamp screw was overly tight and that I needed a different screwdriver than originally planned, and the other wires already fastened had to be released because I needed to be able to obtain the essential angle required to ensure a good solid purchase on the head of the grub screw.

This meant that the other wires were incredibly fiddly to both route and secure, but it was the only way given that the ‘live’ fixing had to be the first, rather than the logistically desired last, to be attached.

Once done, the plate was eased back into the housing and the screws to fasten it securely in place were inserted. Then it became apparent that due to the design of the replacement, they were barely long enough, meaning a struggle to line them up because everything had to be so close to the wall in order that they gained purchase that I was unable to see the lugs into which they were to be screwed.

More joy.

Back to the consumer board to switch the household power sockets back on. No bang meant that I was free to check all worked. The power sockets were fine, but the USB cable I had to hand didn’t fit the electronic device I intended to use to check for charging, so another trip upstairs was required. Eventually, I was able to make sure the USB ports did as they were supposed to and I set about powering up all the things I had powered down at the start.

Then, because of the extra time taken, I needed to reset the central heating clock.

The extra tools used were replaced in the shed.

The vacuum cleaner came out to clear up the mess made because of the debris that came out of the wall due to my having to root around and reposition the electrics.

The five minute job had taken two hours.

 
OpenGL
Friday 20 October, 2017
After much messing about, I have managed to get a Windows XP virtual machine to run on a Mac using virtualisation software in order to load some old games I have about the place.

Actually, getting it to run was easy. What took up my time was configuring it just so, in terms of storage space and so on.

All done now, so I can get on and do things, except the emulator emulates everything fine other than the OpenGL required to be present by the very games I wish to resurrect.

Ah, OpenGL - that takes me back.

The result is that everything I have done thus far is for nothing. Well, not totally nothing - I now can run a full screen copy of Windows XP for no reason whatsoever.

Cool!

 
Brain Fade
Thursday 19 October, 2017
I’ve just checked my email before settling down to write today’s Blog entry and an interesting missive is sitting in my Inbox about my post yesterday, Hands Free.

I’m going to suppose that the sender is one of those people who is addicted to using a mobile phone because their communication berated me for not appreciating the fact that there are times when drivers need to be able to use them and that there can be no argument supporting a ban on their use at the wheel.

It was very polite and went on to say how they enjoyed reading my Blog before repeating that I had got it badly wrong when I threw my lot in with the misguided who think that talking on a mobile phone detracts from a driver’s ability to maintain control.

Mmm, okay.

Maybe they have a point: some drivers might have a pressing need to be able to use their phones. I used to think that said drivers could pull over to a safe spot and legally use their little devices, but it seems that is not enough to satisfy the craving felt by some.

The other day I witnessed a driver writing a text who was so focused upon beating the autocorrect that he was oblivious to my taking photographs of him and his car. He had pulled over off the main road so as to be out of the stream of traffic.

However, he had stopped on the corner of a busy junction. Yes, he had turned on his warning lights so as to make everyone aware that he was a hazard, but he seemed to think that causing a traffic jam as cars struggled to get past him was okay just as long as those lights continued to flash.

The sound proofing of his vehicle was very good because he didn’t once look up from the phone in his hands as irate road users blocked by him vented their frustration and fury by sounding their horns at him repeatedly.

Still, at least he would have been able to tell a police officer that he hadn’t really parked dangerously as his engine was still running so he was merely paused.

I believe I may have found evidence that electromagnetic energy from mobile phones is damaging the brains of users. Normally it is not a problem - the energy dissipates on the wind, but when in a vehicle, it appears that that same energy is trapped and concentrated, thereby destroying the ability of the individual to think cogently.

To put it simply: mobile phones seem to turn some drivers into first class morons, Mr Unsigned of Northern England.

 
Hands Free
Wednesday 18 October, 2017
Yes, I understand there is an argument for and against mobile phone usage at the wheel of a vehicle.

Some say those who text while driving should have their thumbs amputated. Others maintain that those advocating such punishment are merely inadequate persons unable to satisfy their sexual partners through their own lack of digital dexterity.

Personally I’m against anything that takes the focus of the driver away from the road; that extends to smoking while driving.

Ah, that raised a few eyebrows and hackles, but note that I never said anything about banning smoking in cars - no, just the act of smoking while in charge of a vehicle.

How a smoker can argue that dropping a lit cigarette while approaching others on the road is not a distraction, I cannot fathom. Is anyone out there really going to tell me that a burning object falling into a lap, or onto car upholstery, is going to be ignored when approaching a junction or other hazard?

I didn’t think so.

So imagine my chagrin when I saw a driver approaching me as I was about to step out onto a clearly visible pedestrian crossing and he was busy trying to light a fag with a Zippo lighter.

Interesting combination: cigarette, naked flame, lighter fluid, moron.

Did he stop? Of course not - getting that cigarette lit was far more important than stopping for me or the woman with the buggy.

 
Yes, But...
Tuesday 17 October, 2017
It is something we all see every day: lazy and ignorant parking by those who know they will not be ticketed because our local authorities do not employ people to police the problem.

The reason cited is that it costs money to employ individuals to help control the issue.

Very noble, and we can look forward to shits continuing to park across dropped kerbs, bus stops, main throughways during rush hours, outside school gates and just about anywhere they like, while councils across the nation bleat on about how it is not cost effective to maintain the infrastructure required to sort the issue.

Meanwhile, private enterprise seems to think otherwise. For years the public have moaned as cowboy parking control enforcement officers clamped and extorted money from drivers. In a great many cases the transgressions of the driver were real but the battle against the bully boy clampers was fought by highlighting those cases where entrapment was used to further increase their profits.

Question: why did the process of parking control attract so many ‘crooked’ individuals? Answer: there was an awful lot of money to be made from the act.

So here is the problem as I see it: parking enforcement is a financially lucrative activity, but local councils claim it is not and therefore we witness knobs dumping cars wherever they wish, based on the claim that they have parked. Given that the ‘criminal element’ is drawn to easy pickings and money, it is hard to escape the thought that councils are lying.

What is the cause? Can it be that setting up the infrastructure means work for someone? Could it be that the label, lazy and ignorant, should be applied to high up council officers rather than drivers?

It could be that by removing those places that attract illegal reckless and dangerous parking those same authorities would be forced to provide alternative legal parking areas - and that would cost money (although, it has to be said, private car parks make money and profit, so the same argument very probably applies).

If anyone has the answer, please address your ideas on a postcard to your local council and try to avoid using expletives.

 
Crystals and Fossils
Monday 16 October, 2017
Although it is probably a sweeping statement, it does tend to be older people who place great store by the healing and health benefits of certain types of crystals.

Take Shungite: it protects against electrical magnetic energy (EMF). It was first identified as part of a deposit mined near Shunga village, in Karelia, Russia, from where it gets its name. Scientists wearing tinfoil hats are still currently researching the full potential of this magical mineral.

Due to its ability to protect us from EMF, a piece of Shungite next to computers or worn on your body, acts as a shield and will keep you safe from death-dealing WiFi. In addition, Shungite helps to absorb negative energy and pollutants. Consequently you will be safe from everything the modern world can throw at you.

Of all the magical healing crystals out there, Shungite has to be the finest and most useful.

What is it? Well, it is at least 98% carbon with the remainder being made up of pseudo-scientific BS that appeals to those with a propensity towards believing that the UN have had success in persuading the OED to relist the word 'gullible' under 'Z' in all future editions of their dictionary.

One thing to be aware of, though: if it were to have the properties ascribed to it, then you can forget ever getting a signal on your mobile phone or downloading your favourite porn over a WiFi link - not that older people ever do either of those things in the first place.

Shungite - a crystal for fossils.

 
Will the Real Jim Carrey Please Stand Up
Sunday 15 October, 2017
In a recent interview, Jim Carrey detailed his love of cars and his ownership of a number of American classics. His list included a 345bhp, 1969 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am that he bought as a non-runner which he lovingly renovated.

During the rebuild he removed a front wheel and re-engineered the other, along with the steering linkage and suspension, in order to move it to the centre, front of the car, along with the replacement of the metal bodywork with a fibreglass version.

He then set about reducing the power output to that of an asthmatic hamster.

He was very proud of this achievement and he wished it to be known that if he never received another film part he would dedicate his life to turning American muscle-cars into copies of Reliant Robins.

Then I woke up.

It was so real that at first I wondered if I had woken thinking about something I had watched on television the night before, but as the sleepiness cleared from my brain, the surreal aspect came to the fore and I came to realise that it had been a strange dream; other parts of which that had not come back to me, yet.

I tried to recall the rest of it and then the ‘fact’ of Jim Carrey recording a cover of the Beatles 1967 song, I Am the Walrus came to my mind.

I’m not sure what I was thinking when I went to bed last night, but whatever it was generated an interesting dream.

A quick check online to make sure of the correct spelling of Carrey revealed that in 1998 Jim Carrey did indeed record a cover of I Am the Walrus - under the direction of George Martin. I watched a video of the session and noted that he proved to be a rather able vocalist.

I feel that the rest of today is going to be difficult...

 
Trees
Saturday 14 October, 2017
Sometimes it doesn’t pay to think harder to overcome a tricky situation. A conundrum can be over thought and merely bog the thinker down in a mire of their own creation.

For instance, I had recently been battling an issue whereby the creation of a fresh virtual machine was proving impossible because of certain hardware constraints forced upon me by host. The reason for the need for the fresh build as opposed to the adoption of a cloned version of an existing client was the fact of the requirement for a 10GB volume size: those I already have are a mere 5GB in size.

I played with this for a while; reading various documents of a technical nature and laborious testing of ideas and theories, before finally determining what it was that was stopping me. Eventually I gave up on being able to have what I wanted without resorting to a clumsy and crude workaround: that of creating the desire virtual computer on a PC elsewhere in the house and then copying it across to the troublesome host computer and running it from there.

It would have required me to cart a lot of stuff about from my little cubby-hole where I write and do things in computerese, but it was possible, if untested, although the existence of other images that worked suggested it would provide a working solution.

I had a moan over social media and someone asked about running a second drive of the required size off an existing, working virtual machine.

Simple, straightforward, quick, and done by the time I sat down later in the day to write this Blog entry.

Yet I had greatly taxed my brain cells before the non-tech person made the suggestion that gave me the answer to my problem.

Sometimes one cannot see the wood for the trees.

 
Upgrade?
Friday 13 October, 2017
My usual writing tool is Word 2007. It is old but it allows me to use italic, bold, underline, set the size of the margins, and look up the exact definitions of words, along with a thesaurus so that I might avoid using the same word over and over and over in order, therefore not overusing words over the course of a written piece.

As I was preparing to write something sat at a PC with Office 2016 installed I expected it to struggle to match my requirements; simple as they are.

Why?

Well, I have Office 2016 running on a Mac and it is an extremely poor piece of software. Frankly it doesn’t come anywhere near my Office 2007 for the PC and is as buggy as a very buggy thing. So the PC version of 2016 was not promising much.

Oh, how wrong I was - it was worse.

It tripped me up when it showed its lack of online thesaurus.

How silly of me to think Office 2016 was an improvement on Office 2007.

 
Free the Monkeys
Thursday 12 October, 2017
If I am out and about and I wish to sit down with my laptop and write something, I look for offers of free wifi.

If it isn’t available then I just tether my mobile phone and access the Internet through it.

My reason for preferring to use the wifi provided by whatever establishment I find myself within is simple: I wish to ensure I keep my data use via my phone service provider below the contract limit. I would rather not have any nasty surprises towards the end of the month.

And so it was that I sat down in a certain fast food establishment last night after buying a drink which I intended to nurse carefully for the next hour while I tapped away on the keyboard of my laptop. Having powered up and logged in, I set about connecting to the ‘free’ wifi provided.

It was moments after connecting that I discovered that ‘free’ means different things to different people. My mobile number was requested before I would be allowed to join the ‘free’ wifi network.

Now, to me that is not free. Something advertised as free to me means it is given without the requirement for payment. That payment might be currency, goods, services or favour, but whatever form it takes, the element of payment means the thing being offered is not free.

No worries, I thought, I’ll just shove in a dummy number and move on.

Except they send a text to the provided number with a numeric string to allow registration on the network.

I queried the process with an employee who seemed unaware that wifi was even offered. We will call him Mr Monkey 1. I asked to speak with someone who did know and I was referred on to a colleague who knew of the provision but not how it was offered. He attracted the moniker Mr Monkey 2 in my mind.

By now I was annoyed and felt a mission coming over me, so I asked to speak to a manager.

I am aware that such establishments pay an extra handful of peanuts to a monkey and label them as a manager. In the old days, a manager was the person at, or near, the top: even a toilet attendant is a Bathroom Manager.

He basically repeated back to me what I had just experienced and told me, ‘that is the way it is.’ When I suggested that it was merely a way to harvest mobile numbers he decided the extra peanuts made it worth his while defending his employer’s stance by denying it and telling me that it was the most direct way.

When I told him he was wrong and the most direct way was to include the details on the computer till generated slip that acted both as a receipt and order verification, he invited me to write to his head office and outline my displeasure.

I bet you think I labelled him Mr Monkey 3 in my head…

 
Wrong Trousers
Wednesday 11 October, 2017
Seems like a school local to me has a new Head who wishes to make a mark. She has issued notices to quite a few parents telling them their daughters are wearing skirts made of the wrong material.

Yes.

Apparently none are leather.

I note that (at the moment) it is only skirts affected. That leaves me wondering when she will extend the directive to trousers. After all, we wouldn't want the new Head accused of sexism, would we?

 
Imagine My Surprise!
Tuesday 10 October, 2017
Having recently become rather exposed to The World According to Apple, I was preparing for battles involving Macs refusing to communicate with PCs and Android devices. My background is PCs and their infrastructure with respect to networking and file systems.

So far all the gadgets in my household have played nicely together.

My software library is predominately PC oriented, so it makes sense for me to make sure I always have a PC-compatible device available. For instance, I own a copy of Adobe CS3 for PC but not Apple. I happen to find it very useful, if a little long in the tooth, and I am loath to junk it.

So virtual PCs exist upon the iMac but - and this is the cool bit - they all get a slice of the action over the network as devices in their own right. Not only that but the iMac sees what I want it to see, and the devices I want to be able to access the iMac, do so as per my permissions.

It gets better - if I want to access my iMac when out of the house I can do so either via my Android phone or any PC with Internet access, via secure accounts. Or I can access any of the aforementioned virtual PCs - either directly or via the iMac hosting them.

I have just managed to have the iPads see the iMac and the PCs. It was surprisingly simple, but not as simple as printing from an iPad to the laser printer sitting on the home network. The process of getting it to work went like this: decide to print a document; select a printer visible to the iPad; print the document via it.

That the sum total of the effort involved.

Imagine my surprise!

 
Amen
Monday 9 October, 2017
Although, for the title to be grammatically correct, it ought to be some men.
 
Delivery Drones
Sunday 8 October, 2017
The street was narrow. Cars were only able to take turns to travel its length due to one side being used for on-street parking.

A man from a well-known facilitator of retail was making a delivery.

Said man was careful to park in the one free parking slot and leave his hazard warning lights on, presumably to alert those trying to get by that his car was there temporarily or carrying highly explosive Christmas crackers - I’m not sure which.

It struck me that if his employer were to actually carry out their PR-stunt claim that they were working on making deliveries using drones flying betwixt the depot and the customer, then there would be nowhere to land other than a section of the road usually in non-stop use.

However, I may have a solution.

If they continue to employ the delivery driver who took great care to park in the vacant parking spot and alert others to the fact through his use of flashing lights, then the road would no longer be in use.

How come?

Well, he may have lined his car up with a parking slot and even partly inserted it before turning on those warning lights and walking up the road to the household written on the parcel, but he made zero attempt to get nearer than two metres from the kerb. He managed to occupy the parking space and block the road - and all with a single vehicle.

If the aforementioned facilitator of retail would like me to name them and further promote their clever ways, they can message me via the contact page elsewhere on this Blog. From there we can discuss terms and payment.

That said, they might actually want to distance themselves from such activities on the grounds that they do not countenance such gross stupidity on the part of their delivery drivers. In which case would they like to contact me in the same manner so as to pay me not to mention their name?

 
The English Way
Saturday 7 October, 2017
It can’t be in the genes - there isn’t an English bone or strand of DNA in my body. However, when it comes to queuing, no one would know.

I wished to post a parcel and approached the sub-PO counter intending to wait for the woman there to finish her transaction. I was there a little while before someone entered the shop and picked up a newspaper. They took it to the unmanned till just down from where I stood.

His queue sprung into being when another person bearing an item joined him.

The woman with the multiple parcels, having ensured they would be scattered far and wide through the postal system, paid and left. The counter-clerk looked at the queue of two people and said to me, ‘I’ll be with you just as soon as I attend to these gentlemen.’

‘No, you will attend to those who entered the shop after me, after me.’

She looked at me, them, then shrugged an apology at the man at the head of the micro-queue, and then processed my parcel.

Golly, I felt bad, but I guess if it isn’t genetic then it must be something else that was controlling my psyche right at that moment.

Whatever it was, I felt awkward enough about it afterwards to be sure it isn’t a deep-rooted quality and I shall always be able to maintain I am not truly English.

 
Apples
Friday 6 October, 2017
Those of London extraction may well think this is going to be about stairs.

It might. Then again, it might not. While I tend to attract stares, I don’t have a thing for stairs.

Or, if of a technical bent, it may well mean expensive mobile phones, tablets and computers.

No, scrub that, they are not for technical people - only those who are technically people…

 
The Comb Over
Thursday 5 October, 2017
This is something I cannot discuss or write a Blog about lest I be accused of sexism.

If I were to go into detail, my web hosting company would be forced to accede to the deluge of complaints that would certainly ensure from women who generally fail to possess enough of the all-important hormone that leads to the classic man-pattern baldness that lends itself so well to the practise.

 
Online Banking
Wednesday 4 October, 2017
Do you remember the time when it took a phone call to discover whether you were solvent or in need of financial rescue?

Or before those days; when you would need to travel into town and visit your bank branch?

Then there was the era of the Bank Manager; a period when they were real managers of money who wielded proper power. They were the person you needed to speak to in order that you might establish precisely how close you were to jumping off a bridge. And you needed to make an appointment back then.

Then came online banking with its 24/7 access to allow those with a propensity towards suicide to pick a moment more attuned to their sense of drama.

The promise of banking via the Internet was that we would be able to see our wealth whenever we want and unfettered by silly rules. Instead, these days it has the potential to ruin a life regardless of the amount at stake.

In the old days, the request by a spouse to check a bank balance could be satisfied once all impediments to an answer were overcome. In the Modern World in which we live, said request requires an answer before the kettle has boiled.

In the former case, delays were just things that had to be overcome. In the latter, delays lead to hair-loss, thrown objects, and divorce papers being served. And modern delays don’t have the same duration as before: they might only be a few hours, but that is long enough to lead someone’s hand to a breadknife.

Life is too fast these days. There was a time when ‘email’ meant a misspelling of a description of a man called Eric, Edward, Ethan, or similar. There was a time when Spam meant simple sandwiches. There was time when a hard drive was the journey from London to Cornwall. There was a time when memory was thinking of a time less manic.

Maybe I… no, maybe not. My online bank balance tells me I can’t afford a remote island somewhere far away.

 
Why Use Two Wheels When One Will Do?
Tuesday 3 October, 2017
As a kid I rode the wheels off my bicycle: I crashed it; I bashed it; I trashed it.

On the occasions when it was working as designed, I pulled wheelies on it.

Wheelies were a bit of a 'manly' thing to be seen doing. Managing to hoist the front wheel and travel a distance without it touching down was something considered to be 'quite the thing.'

Naturally, the greater the distance, the greater the kudos.

Cheats used to pester their parents into buying them a Raleigh Chopper - a bicycle with a small front wheel and a propensity towards wheelies (or at least the Mark One did) - and they would show off their prowess to the 11-year-old girls who hung about with the 'lads.'

Suddenly, this 'rite of passage' seems to have returned. Boys in their early teens seem to be mono-wheeling all over the town, but it seems different to when I was a lad.

The reasons for my supposing things were changed from when I set out to impress my mates eluded me until I was driving my car.

When I was out and about as a youngster, wowing onlookers with my abilities, I usually did so on grass or pavements. The latest incarnation of this spectacle seems to be running hand in glove with overt stupidity which thankfully seems to be of a nature as to ensure that the perpetrators will not be contributing to the human gene pool in the future and thereby weakening it.

Only someone with a death wish would wish to ride a bicycle on one wheel down a road with cars. But that is nothing compared to the 'bravery' of numskulls who pick rush hour in the evenings to show off their amazing skills. However, even they are trumped by the Neanderthals who ride with the front wheel pointing skywards as they cross busy roundabouts the wrong way.

The latter - unable to comprehend how close they are approaching the cessation of life - compound their folly by swearing at drivers who, by wild braking, manage to avoid killing them. Some of said drivers are burly HGV pilots who would probably wrap the underutilised front wheel about the necks of the reckless fools were it not for the fact that they are constrained from doing so due to an unreasonably tight driving schedule assigned to them by their bosses and tachographs.

Yes, back in my day, riding skills as a youngster could be turned into riding skills of a more adult nature because we eventually achieved adulthood.

 
Quis Custodiet ipsos Custodes?
Monday 2 October, 2017
For reasons that will become obvious, I have decided to omit any details that might cause it to be possible to identify places, people or authorities.

A friend of mine was stopped and breathalysed in 2015 in a northern UK city. Apparently the roadside result was pretty damning and he was arrested and, after a wait during which an audience had gathered, another police vehicle eventually turned up to cart him back to the police station.

Once at the nameless police station he was asked to again provide a breath specimen on a large, non-portable device, which he did and the thing spewed out the results on a slip of paper. Then there was some urgent murmuring followed by a request for either a urine specimen, or permission for blood to be taken. Not being adverse to needles, he opted to allow blood to be drawn.

After being kept in a cell overnight he was taken to an interview room and told that the results of the second breath test had not revealed any trace of alcohol, hence the blood test which also indicated no alcohol present, and consequently he was free to go and would be taken to collect his possessions and leave custody, this time.

He told me that his comment upon hearing those words was something akin to, ‘I see you are as big a shite as the faulty breathalyser test that had me arrested in the first place.’

After a discussion with a colleague the officer told him that would be held for resisting arrest and he was returned to a cell from where he was later taken to a magistrate to be arraigned and bailed to appear at a later date.

Having never imbibed alcohol in his life he was incredulous he was on bail for resisting arrest after calling into question the competence of those who had managed to parade him in front of friends and strangers, and would likely cause him to have to answer to his employer for his behaviour. So he decided to employ a proper lawyer as opposed to the ‘barely awake stuffed monkey’ who had originally been appointed for him.

When the case was heard it was determined that he had been falsely arrested and detained. It turned out that upon being asked to provide a roadside breath test he had been questioned as to whether he was under a doctor and/or taking any prescribed medication - which he was not. However, he was fighting off a cold because while he was coughing he was effectively locked out from his job as a skilled and respected surgeon, and so he had been using throat lozenges - in his case, Strepsils, which he had been eating like sweets.

Very specifically the judge focused upon the fact that the officers who performed the original breath test did not step outside the proscribed text, in keeping with their training, relating to listing possible things that might affect such a test - and over-the-counter products such as cough medicine, mouth wash, or throat lozenges can do exactly that. He pointed out that the force was therefore negligent and he also found that paperwork supporting the assertion that the defendant had been charged with resisting arrest from the outset had been altered.

He has just been awarded £38k for wrongful arrest and false imprisonment but despite even the courts finding that the police were 100% wrong in the first place, the police authority managed to string things out for over two years and even then managed to force my friend agree to a non-disclosure clause.

And now you see why this Blog entry is light on specifics…

 
Will That Man Please Stand Up
Sunday 1 October, 2017
Hmm, last Friday I wrote about a dork who gave a pretty lame excuse for parking like a complete prat.

Well, it seems that parking in an ignorant fashion has it supporters. I received a fair bit of feedback over that piece - more than I felt it might - and it has to be said that every single email made the same point, albeit with varying levels of applied grammar and apparent intelligence.

They all seemed to boil down to this statement:

We car drivers pay a lot of ‘car tax’ so we will park wherever we like because we have paid enough for the privilege to do so.

All referred to ‘car tax’ as if it conferred some sort of rights upon those who pay it. While it had its roots in a Road Fund dedicated to the creation and upkeep of the national road infrastructure, it was formally removed from that position in 1955 by the Miscellaneous Financial Provisions Act of that year.

So I thank those of you who took the time to berate me over something you have no understanding of, and I now see why it took three parking tickets before Mr Prat stopped parking his car on a dark corner.