Wednesday Oct 31, 2007

Email Rules

Email can be such a poor way to communicate. I often write emails that are too terse and the people who receive them think that I am cross or that I am being deliberately rude. So I have decided I will now publish the rules by which I have lived for a while:

  • If I wish to convey that you are a fool I will use the phrase: “You are a fool”.

  • If I am bored of talking to you I will use the phrase: “I'm bored of talking to you”.

  • If you have upset me then I will use the phrase: “You have upset me”.

  • If I wish to upset you in an indeterminate way I will use the phrase: “I have a higher opinion of Conservative M.P.s than I have of you.”. Just trust me that will be an insult.

If you get an email from me that does not contain those phrases, but you are upset or insulted by it, then it is just my poor use of English. Please accept my apologies.

Monday Oct 08, 2007

CEC top tip

When you are in a presentation, put your phone on silent.

Saturday Oct 06, 2007

Yes Yes Yes

Oh Yes!

Nightmare in Vegas

It would seem that there is nowhere in Vagas where you can watch the England – Australia match live. Also the BBC can't do a live commentary to IP addresses that are not in the UK.

So instead I can enjoy the view from the window.

Note to self. Set up a proxy server on my home machine for future use.

We are down 6 – 10 at halftime and from what it says on the web we don't look like scoring a try.

It will make the second half come back better for those who can watch it.

Wednesday Sep 26, 2007

If your business is rubbish your customer service need not be.

And Brabantia's is not.

Our bin's lid broke. The bin is ~7 years old I have no proof of purchase (although they have not been being made for much longer then 7 years, I think) so I went to their web site to see if I could get a new one. I filled in the form telling them all this and waited for an email saying it was going to cost X and I would have to do Y to pay them.

No email but a few days later a large box containing a new lid. I notice the catch has a slightly new, more robust design.

As always a product defect handled well by the manufacturer has left me wanting to be their customer again and being prepared to say so.

Train to Luxembourg

Here I sit on the train from Brussels to Luxembourg with the decision to take the Eurostar rather than fly partially vindicated. It was certainly cheaper and so far, more convenient. A short train trip to Waterloo, catch the Eurostar, change at Brussels. Alas this will almost certainly be the last time I depart from Waterloo International as the service is moving to St Pancras which will mean a tube across London. So at least for me the 20 minutes it will knock of the journey time will be entirely lost by the extra time to get to St Pancras.

However using a laptop on the Eurostar was impossible, the lack of laptop power limits the working time to the life of the battery, which on this both not very long and the not very predictable. The battery indicator goes from 60% to 2% in one hop.


I am in internet withdrawal, the hotel only had prepaid WiFI access which since I had not pre paid was no good for me. Another case of expensive hotel (the cheap ones were full, honest) and yet the could not throw in an internet connection. I must remember to check these things next time, not that I really had a choice about the hotel.

If you are reading this I must have made it home....

Sunday Sep 23, 2007

Popular blog?

O.k. so what is going on with Here is the popular blogs list from yesterday:

So whose been messing with wget?

I'm not complaining though as this made me check the front page of today to see if the effect was continuing. It appears it is but for a different blog. Jyri Virkki's blog is now top with 18432 hits. His blog has a interesting presentation about Elliptic Curve Cryptography, ECC, about which I knew nothing until I read that.

Saturday Sep 15, 2007

Why Kitchen applicances should be networked.

I've managed to get the two clocks within 2 seconds of each other, which actually made taking this photo a pain, but it will take hours to improve on 2 seconds and to make matters worse there is a third clock that is not shown in the picture. I know that 2 second delay is going to drive me nuts. Luckily the oven and microwave have options to hide the clock but I would prefer not to.

What is clearly needed is for them to either network amongst themselves and run NTP to keep their clocks in sync or if an external network is available get the name of an NTP server from DHCP and use that. I suppose they will need a cheap, free operating system to embed to control it. OpenSolaris anyone?

So please can we have that? I'll ask NEFF and see what they say. It's just a shame that unless they can retrofit it we will not be able to take advantage of this in our new kitchen.

Sunday Aug 19, 2007

Holiday Reading

This holiday's books, in the order I read them. The first two were read in parallel.

  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. by R.K. Rowling

    Enough said. I read it to my son and we both thoroughly enjoyed it.

  • The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins

    This has been on my bookshelf for a while and I finally got enough time to read it. I'm sure plenty of people have written about this book. Evolution by natural selection explained in terms that someone who only studied Biology to O level (age 16) many years ago can easily understand.

  • The Hour by Michael Hutchinson

    A book about an attempt to break the hour cycling record. The hour is a very special record for cyclists. Ridden against the clock, obviously, on a track usually indoors. This is a very amusing book telling the story of Michael Hitchinson's attempt at The Hour.

  • Talk to the Snail by Stephen Clarke

    Light reading which should help an Englishman understand the French mostly it was just funny.

  • The Boy in the striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

    My partner's book group read this book and then my daughter's history teacher suggested that they read it, so I thought I would read it. Since we had the paper back the topic was not entirely obvious from the cover. Deeply depressing. Great book though.

  • The Last King of Scotland by Giles Foden

    The story of a Doctor caught up in the Idi Amin's rule of Uganda. Another rather depressing book again brought to me via my partners Book Club.

  • Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

    The last week of my holiday was spent with my Cousin who moved to France and the English translation of this was on a table, I read the blurb and so read the book. I really wish I could have read the book without having been enticed into it by the story of how the book was published. For that reason I won't mention that part of the story. However I would highly recommend this book don't read the blurb just read the book then read the blurb. It is the story of ordinary people during the fall of France and the occupation up until the Germans invaded Russia. The writing is fantastic.

Saturday Jul 21, 2007

I will never do that again.

The madness of queuing to buy the latest Harry Potter book at midnight.

I now have to Police the children so that the ones who have read it don't tell the ones who have not how it ends. That includes telling me as I will be reading it aloud to my youngest.

Tuesday Jul 10, 2007

Laptop Mass

Here is a question that comes up again and again and I was asked it yesterday:

As I add more data to my laptop will it get heavier?

You would expect the answer to be yes, but it is not that simple. Since most data is made up of ones and zeros the ones, which weigh more are balanced out by the zeros so in general you don't notice.

The exception to this is when you store a lot of dark photographs. Since these contain more ones these photographs increase the weight of the disk. This is a particular problem for astronomers since most of the pictures they take through their telescopes are taken at night their disks tend to be heavier. They refer to this as “dark matter” and is one of the explanations for the apparent mass of the Universe.

While many think that digital photographs will not fade, this is not true if they are stored on rotating disks. The centrifugal force tends to throw the ones to the outer parts of the disk so photographs in the centre of the disk will fade while those at the edges get darker.

Measuring the effect is hard. With some really sensitive scales you may be able to notice this on your laptop, but remember to remove the battery otherwise the effect is overwhelmed by the difference in weight depending on whether the battery is charged or uncharged.

So that has cleared that one up.

For more information see here.

Monday Jul 02, 2007

Smoking has left the building .... site

The most noticeable effect of the new smoking ban the England for me is that the builders now go to the front of the house for a fag1 break rather than lighting up in the half built extension.

1That is fag as in cigarette.

Sunday Jun 17, 2007

Camp Dads 2007

This weekend, being the weekend of Father's Day was the sixth annual Camp Dads trip. 14 Dads, 34 Children. Despite the weather this was the best Camp Dads ever. The usual format of the Beach on Saturday followed by Curry in the Camp Site, then on Sunday into the Forest (which due to the rain was less busy than previous years).

>All children returned undamaged however very tired. I on the other hand will be easy to spot due to my sun burnt nose. So I remembered to sun cream the children even though it was cloudy but forgot to do myself!

Friday May 25, 2007

Five things

Dan tagged me with the five things blog thing that is going around. So here are 5 things about me that you may not know about me:

  1. My first real job was as a Paper Boy delivering news papers. I did the job for five years every day before school, rain, snow or shine. I'm always inclined to ask people I interview what job they did as a teenager. Newspaper delivery scores highly.

  2. I sang in a Church Choir for 10 years as a child/teenager. This included an annual “Cathedral Course” where we went off to a different Cathedral for a week, well 10 days, 3 days preparing and 6 days singing with one day off, while the real choir was on holiday. I sang at: Lincoln, Norwich, Litchfield, York, St Albans, and Salisbury. Great music, fantastic social life and started me on the road to Atheism.

  3. For my first six years at Sun I did not cycle to work at all. In fact for a large amount of that time I did not cycle at all. The Company car almost got me. I have got better now though.

  4. My first adult bike was a four speed Moulton. (very similar to the Moulton Standard pictured on Wikipedia, it was even blue). It was distinctive, great for use on the Paper round but encouraged me to get more traditional five speed diamond framed “racer”.

  5. I don't really do chain letters which this is just the modern form. So I won't be tagging anyone else.

Tuesday May 15, 2007

Initial Thoughts on Chicago

I've travelled to the United States a lot, but nearly always to the same area. That being the San Francisco Bay area. Now for a change I am in Chicago, and no Dave I can't “prove” it using plazes which while fun and geeky I have problems with the idea that anyone would care.

Anyway my initial thoughts on Chicago:

  1. Watching the Blues Brothers entirely prepares you for using a Taxi here. Research based on a single trip from the Airport which well was interesting. Apparently the tyres on cars here really do squeal around every corner like they do in the movies. The trouble with this is that the other things that cars do in movies is explode if there is the slightest crash hence the Blues Brothers being a perfect preparation. None of the cars in the Blues Brothers exploded. We did not crash, I'm still not sure how.

  2. Don't trust the Doorman at the Hotel to mark on a map where you are. Unbelievably he did not seem to know beyond telling me which street I'm in.

  3. The Police use Segways. Really. If I had been quicker with the camera I would show you.

  4. I wish my Brompton I have on order had turned up in time to bring it. The ideal vehicle for escaping the Police.

  5. It's not that Windy, not yet anyway. It is however Pretty and they ain't got what we got...Sorry getting carried away.

Sunday Feb 11, 2007

The Riddler

Following Geoff I am the Riddler!

Your results:
You are Riddler

The Joker
Mr. Freeze
Green Goblin
Poison Ivy
Dr. Doom
Dark Phoenix
Lex Luthor
Riddle me that, riddle me this, who is obsessed with having a battle of wits??
Click here to take the Supervillain Personality Quiz

Friday Jan 26, 2007

UK statute Law On line

Dave has prompted me to post where you can actually find the definitive statue law or the U.K. on line.

It is here:

Interestingly, to me, searching for "road traffic act" in google still does not find it on the first page.

Thursday Jan 25, 2007


I'm currently in Zurich, attending a “Web 2.0” workshop. When I started blogging I took on board 2 bits of advice:

  1. Be interesting

  2. Write what you know about.

I don't really know about “Web 2.0” although I'm learning fast so I'm not going to write about “Web 2.0” so that I can at least say I have kept to one of the bits of advice. Although there are some interesting usage possibilities that we are exploring for tagging in particular.

I have learnt one thing while here. That is that Lenin spent a few months here and while he did he drank in the Odeon bar. Comrade Levy and I checked it out. Very nice but I bit bourgeois for any aspiring revolutionary I would have thought. Comrade Levy kept very quiet about the fact the Mussolini also drank there,


Thursday Jan 11, 2007

Five years

This morning we had a discussion at home about how it was five years to the day since we moved into our house. So much has changed the family has grown, my eldest was the same age when we moved in as my youngest is now.

Then this afternoon I read Robin's post. Five years is a long long time.

Typical man. The discussion we had was about being in the house for six years, not five. However the point of the post was that it made me think what a long time five years is.


Tuesday Jan 09, 2007

Nokia phone as a USB storage device

I can access my phone, a Nokia 6230i ,as a USB storage device on Solaris. All was required was to set reduced-cmd-support to true in /kernel/drv/scsa2usb.conf :

attribute-override-list =
        "vid=0x421 pid=0x429 reduced-cmd-support=true";

Next step is to see if I can get it to work with gnokii.



This is the old blog of Chris Gerhard. It has mostly moved to


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