Another Cousin

Today has been busy, busy, busy. I have finished my Christmas shopping, helped Grandma move into her new bungalow and have gained *another* cousin, congratulations Aunty Kazzy on your beautiful baby boy! The best part is that I kind of suggested the name, Alfie!

This is a flash animation which discusses the future of the media in a fictional form set in the year 2014. Artistically I love the style of this piece and as long as you remember it’s *meant* to be fictional, it’s very interesting too! Something about it reminds me of the Animatrix, not sure why.

Three nights in a row

Currently my body and bank balance are having a hard time recovering from three nights in a row going out for meals.

Friday was Laura’s staff do in Spalding where we found the warehouse where they store all the OAPs overnight.
Saturday night was the BGS ICT department and quiz team Christmas do in Hacconby in a pub which now has two less Guinness posters than it had previously… Much drunkenness.
Sunday was my staff do in Greetham which was hilarious. Anything that wasn’t nailed down became a projectile, including balloons, paper, paper aeroplanes, gifts from crackers and truffles. I’m not sure the non-vcc guests really appreciated us though. Especially the man in the moustache with the amusing dance who became the target for our paper aeroplane competition. I hit him.

The rain outside looks distinctly snow-like. Now, off I go to negotiate the ice rink between here and lauperr‘s in my car.

RIP Fahrbot

May you rest in peace
My 12 inch iBook, Fahrbot, died today. He slipped away quietly after a system crash and refused to boot despite ressucitation efforts with a Firewire drive and a disk image. He did show signs of a pulse after a PRAM reset and exhaustive imaging, but was pronounced dead at approximately 3:00pm with a blank blue expression on his face.

Inspectors out in force
I was in town earlier and in both Woolworths and Blockbuster there were inspectors checking the shelves had been arranged properly for Christmas. I guess they get smart psychologists like lauperr to draw them out a plan then everyone has to follow it.

Sod’s Law
Why does everything always break when the Network Manager isn’t in?

Unconditional Offer
Someone once told me I would never get an Unconditional offer to University. I may have cheated slightly, but I proved them wrong. CSE, UEA, and in time for Christmas.

Piracy is the root of *all* evil

I was interested to find out that not only does Piracy fund terrorism but it also goes towards drug trafficing and illegal immigration now as well! The things you learn in Blockbuster! It’s only a matter of time before Piracy is linked to global warming and the spread of the AIDS virus.

Is it sad to play hide and seek with your girlfriend, in cars, in a village? Come to think of it, that probably contributes to global warming…

Why do all the christmas lights go out when one bulb breaks? isn’t it about time people figured out parallel circuits?

Bug report to Epson

At work we have several Epson Photo R300 printers. If you put compatible cartridges in them rather than genuine (expensive) Epson cartridges it reminds you of this fact *every* time you print. It does this in the form of a ‘nagware’ dialogue box which asks you if you’re sure you want to print because your printout might look “different” to what it would look like with a genuine epson cartridge.

I was feeling particularly evil so decided to give Epson a call. I navigated through their lengthy phone system to narrow down my query and was put on hold for around 15 minutes. Someone eventually answered and asked how they could help.

Me: I’ve got an error message in my Epson Software and I wondered if there’s a bug fix you can send me
EpsonGuy: What is the error message?
(I read out the error message in its complete form, very clearly.)
EpsonGuy: [pause]
EpsonGuy: Have you tried re-installing the printer since you got this error?
Me: Erm… no. But I doubt it will really help.
EpsonGuy: All I can suggest is that you buy an Epson cartridge as the current one isn’t working correctly.
Me: So you don’t have a bug fix? Surely one of your software guys could stop this message coming up?
EpsonGuy: I’m afraid there’s nothing we can do, the cartridge isn’t communicating with the printer properly so it thinks it isn’t an Epson cartridge.
Me: That’s because it isn’t an Epson cartridge. I think as an adult and computer user I am quite capable of deciding whether to install an Epson cartridge or a cheaper compatible.
EpsonGuy: I completely agree Sir.

Hmm. Well I insisted that my complaint was noted down so that Epson could be made aware that nagging their customers to the point of irritating them and affecting their productivity is not the best way to promote their brand.

I felt a little sorry for the guy on the other end of the phone though 😛

Google Suggest

Google has a new BETA feature called Google Suggest. It’s a bit of JavaScript with some very clever algorithms sitting behind it which autocompletes your search terms based on previous searches stored in the Google database. Seems like a useful feature but I would have thought it has large overheads on their servers.

Amusingly all obscene words are filtered out (they must be, “sex” doesn’t autocomplete!).

I wondered if it would autocomplete my name and if it had stored anything someone may have searched for including my name! It came up with my name, but on its own. I was suprised to find that Googling for my name these days points you to my homepage as the first result. I’ve been a little freaked out at how many of my general Google searches have had results pointing to my homepage recently actually. I must be a very narrow minded person 🙂

Music Recording Software

I’ve been playing with music recording software today, including failing to get Ardour to run under Ubuntu, apparently it can’t connect to the Jack server. I really wish I could find time to record some of my songs and write some new ones, my musical side has been badly negelected this year.

The Great British Music Debate 2004

Yesterday I mentioned that BBC Radio 2 had been talking about my comments on Wednesday night, but I only found out on Thursday morning at work whilst “listening again” on the BBC web site. Here’s the whole story…

The 2 hour Great British Music Debate 2004 was aired on BBC Radio 2 on Wednesday night. I sent an email to the panelists asking about Copyright law and the Internet. I also asked about the regulation of Peer to Peer file sharing.
I’ve transcribed it from the listen again feature on the BBC web site which runs for a week after transmission and can be found on this page

I can provide an mp3 of the show upon request.

My question was as follows. (Please note that this wasn’t the exact wording, I didn’t save my question at the time.)


I would like to ask the panelists, do they think that digital media and the Internet, which mean the cost of duplication of music is almost zero, have rendered archaic Copyright law obsolete? Are more liberal licenses like Creative Commons which offer greater freedoms the future of the music industry?

Could Peer to Peer file sharing networks be regulated by the music industry as a broadcast medium like radio, rather than them suing potential customers for using them?

Below is the response. Unfortunately Creative Commons wasn’t mentioned and I’m not sure if the question I was really asking got answered, but this is what I got.


Read More…

A surreal kind of day

There was something odd about today, but I can’t quite pin it down.

Everything seemed very quiet at work and the phone didn’t ring until about 2:30 which is very odd indeed. I found out that they were talking about me (or rather my comments) on BBC Radio 2 last night, which was odd.

On the way home everyone seemed to have forgotten how to drive (That’s probably not that odd). There was an elderly woman driving a metro who stalled at the worst junction/train crossing/centre of mayhem I drive through each day. She then stalled it again. Then she waited a bit before flooring it and I’ve never seen a wheel spin quite like it. Then I got stuck behind a vehicle (two separate cars actually) travelling at 40mph all the way home.

Boy is it cold in here.

Putting my foot in it

Must learn to keep my mouth shut

I’ve taken responsibility over updating a “what’s on” web page at work with updates about every month and I’ve been given the FTP login details by the company who currently looks after the site. I was browsing through the webspace with a couple of collegues and I found that the entire website was contained in one folder in the web root called “NewFiles” which contained all of the HTML files (probably a hundred or so) with no subdirectories or obvious naming convention. The archived news was in individual HTML files scattered around the place, the pages contain odd bits of broken javascript and the site only really works in Internet Explorer. The web page was now several months out of date and it needed some recent content. Pictures are missing and badly arranged.

I pootled over to the gallery.

Me: Hi [Arts Officer], have you got the new “what’s on” leaflet for the gallery? I want to update the web site and I need some new content because it’s all way out of date.
Arts Officer: No, not yet. *Looks vaguely over my shoulder*
Me: So it’s not been printed?
Arts Officer: No not yet. But I’ve got some text about the exhibition in January.
Me: OK, could you email it to me?  I’m not sure where to start really, I’ve just been looking at the web space and the organisation is a complete shambles, there’s no structure to anything at all and the pages are a mess.
Arts Officer: Right. Ben, this is [name of woman standing behind me] from [name of company who currently looks after the web site].
Me: Ah.
Woman: Thank you for just insulting my Father’s work. I’m afraid we can’t charge very much for your web site so it’s very low down on our list of priorities.

I explained that I hadn’t meant to cause any offence and I completely understood that it wasn’t their top priority (I didn’t, we pay them enough! They don’t even have a web site of their own). But that from an organisational point of view it’s a nightmare, there’s no structure in it at all. It also has the problem that the menu doesn’t work in Safari (the main browser we use) or Firefox (the main browser I use). To that she replied:

“Yes, but I find a lot of web sites don’t work in Safari. Don’t You?”

Oh why did you have to go and say that? I tried to explain, in the politest possible way that this was more likely down to web design than the browser itself, that the web sites probably aren’t following web standards. Just because something works in Internet Explorer doesn’t mean it will work for everyone.

“Well I suppose that’s a lesson we should learn. Perhaps you should learn to think before you speak.”

I have to admit, she has a point. She then made signs of leaving, having had the final word, so I apologised again as she walked off.

When she’d gone I curled up in the corner and nearly died with embarassment. The Arts Officer reassured me, saying that yes it was unfortunate but that she thought we had both dealt with it in a positive and professional way.

In other news

Teaching our children it’s wrong to share
Perhaps someone from Creative Commons could go along and teach them a different lesson…

SCO web site is defaced
Very subtle, very amusing, but doesn’t really help the case at all. Not to be condoned.
Meanwhile SCO is merrily selling its first Linux licenses in the UK What is it they’re selling exactly?

NASA throws lump of metal at a comet
Apparently for scientific reasons.