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Monday 28 November 2005

Name my gaff! [Lurks]

In just a matter of a few weeks, I hope to be finally rid of London town and have moved to a bungalow in a secluded part of the south coast. There's a funny old tradition down in these parts and that's to give your place a name so it's not just a number. The surrounding places have cutesy sea-related names but I don't necessarily see why one must keep with tradition although obviously anything outlandish might be a little difficult to make fly with the missus :-)
WoW related themes might be a bit of a laugh and I'm partitial to Stormwind Cottage so far, Darkshore also having been mentioned (Southshore seems more appropriate) much as I'd obviously like to call the place Blackwing Lair. :-)
Any further suggestions?

Monday 21 November 2005

Geek Novels [Spiny]

The Guardian as the top 20 geek novels.

Odd that there's no fantasy & I've only read 7 of the 20. Anyone got a full house?

Friday 18 November 2005

Clearing the air [Lurks]

In recent years there's been a trend in the developed world to ban smoking in public places. Close to home Ireland set the pace with a blanket ban in public places including bars. Even famously unhealthy Scotland has introduced a blanket ban to come into effect early next year.
Not so in the UK, with our famously pandering government creating hideous legislation that would allow exemptions and enough legal wormholes that might have been exploited to gain faster-than-light travel. In the end more or less everyone declared over complex and unworkable. At present this weirdy partial ban looks set to be introduced in mid 2007 in the UK. Here's an explanation of who is doing what.
The exemptions include private clubs, which I suppose is fine by me, and pubs that don't serve food. The latter really pisses me off because I've wanted a ban in all pubs since forever. Ordinarily sensible human beings for some reason, I fail to be able to explain, will fire up cigarettes in pubs and fill the place with a noxious cloud of smoke that stings the eyes and, for me being as asthematic, makes breathing difficult the next day. Worse still, of course, people have to work there. This 'no smoking at the bar' shit you have in London right now is fucking absurd.
The problem is the leisure industry has whinged that when they ban smoking, people go to the place that allows smoking and their sales go down. That's right, because a small preportion of cancer-lovers will drag themselves and their friends into the cancer-friendly establishment. The only solution is a total ban. Then everyone's sales are the same. Surely it makes sense, I mean even Ireland worked it out and they know a thing or two about pubs.
Naturally our government cannot be trusted to simply do the right thing, eventually it transpires that the UK leisure industry has seen the light and declared their support for an outright ban. Thank Christ, common sense prevails!
Now the health community and the hospitality industry are both calling for an outright ban. Surely the government will act.
What's your view?

Wednesday 16 November 2005

Social virus webshites [Beej]

Never sign up for Ringo.
That's my advice to you. It's social virus dot com bollocks, one of the many webshites like Plaxo and so on that offers to manage your contact list and your friends online.
So why not Ringo? Well it's simple - I had a bad trip. If you accept an invitation or sign up for the thing, it'll ask for your GMail or Hotmail or MSN password. And then what? Well it e-mails everyone in your address book and everyone you have ever e-mailed to ask them to join Ringo. I've just had an interesting experience where someone at work... let's call the colleague A.Woman... signed up for Ringo using a shared work e-mail account... and now every client and everyone in the whole bloody company has received Ringo spam. gnnnnnnnnnghaaaargh*&%!$£*&"%
Need to "manage" your "friends"? Here's my advice - get a mobile phone or learn to use your e-mail client.

Tuesday 15 November 2005

Evil Empire [Spiny]

The story of Sony's badly judged embarrasment of a DRM solution that exposed their customers PCs to bad haxxor people continues to run & run. Not only does Sony's uninstaller make the situation worse but it turns out their software contains portions of our best loved piece of open source, LAME. Even the warped humour present in 'teh crosshatch' couldn't have painted a funnier picture. In other news non other than the Times front page has them as the #1 bad guy aiming to spoil your Christmas! With well known publications such as Wired calling for a Sony boycott maybee it's time to hand their PR director a katana and some Wikipedia linkage :)

Monday 14 November 2005

Christmas Gifts For Men [Spiro]

Whilst reading the Sunday Times I came across this artical:
A doctor is experimenting with a radical new Contraceptive treatment - electric shocks to the testicles. Dr Sava Bojovic, a fertility expert in Novi Banocvi, Serbia, says the small shock makes men temporarily infertile. "We attach electrodes to either side of the testicles and send low currents flowing through them," he explains. "This stuns the sperm, effectively putting them to sleep for up to 10 days." He hopes to have a small, battery-powered shocker ready by Christmas.
Now I'm not a complete wuss, but the thought of having to shock myself once every ten days make my legs cross and clench. Does he honestly think people will buy it? I think not, there are plenty of other methods that are totally painless.
So, Dear Santa,
Please, Please don't bring me a Bollock Shocker for Christmas.
Made me think there must be a whole list of things on the market that you really wouldn't want as a present. So come on chaps, what would you hate to find in your stocking?

Thursday 10 November 2005

Energy Crisis? [Slim]

I've been thinking quite a lot recently about how the next 25 years will pan out. We've seen some pretty compelling evidence that societies obsession with growth isn't really a sustainable plan long term unless we have some pretty major breakthroughs. Already global demand for fossil fuels has ramped up dramatically despite the price going the same way, with demand from emerging economies adding to the traditional industrailised nations already heavy needs.
So today the bbc says the follow:"Up to the year 2050, fossil fuels will remain the dominant energy source - there really is no alternative,"
Basically there's nothing really to replace fossil fuels, and our nuc plants are to be shelved too with no new ones planned. The article seems to assume fossil fuels will still be cheap and plentify by 2050. If they're not, we're basically fucked, and this is without taking any theories of global warming into account.
There's not really much we can do individually. If there is an impending oil crisis, we need action from governments, and action fast. We need oil to be priced to restrict demand and control it's use to the important areas like food production, drugs and medicine, etc and not wasted in vast quanties on shopping trips to Hong Kong. But of course the capitalism growth model doesn't allow this, if any country taxes oil to restrict consumpion it will become uncompetitive, nobodys going to price themselves out of the global market in this way.
There's other views on this point of course, some folks believe we'll have some breakthroughs to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, some say it won't run out that fast. Some say the only solution is the collapse of society with global famine to reduce the human race back to a survivable and sustainable number. Either way, it'd be nice to have some sort of contingancy planning and long term decision making up front, given the scale of the problem, don't you think?
I've friends who's recently got married in South Africa, they flew their immediate family and mates down there from the UK, and then jetted off somewhere else very hot and distant after that. The total wedding probably consumed enough oil to fuel 100 odd cars for a year. I can't help thinking that we're going to look back on this flippent waste of resource with a big chunk of regret in a few years time.

Wednesday 9 November 2005

ma mobi! [Shedir]

My mobile. It's quite a personal thing now, how it's setup probably tells a lot about you.
I'm sorta bored with my 6230 now. Main gripe is nokia's obsession with 5 caller groups. Why not just allow a 'tone per person if you want and tones for groups if you can't be arsed.
The Ericsson phones I had allowed you to have a tone per person, about the best thing they did IMO.
Anyway, who's got what on their phones?
Wifey - I bet you look good on the dance floor, Arctic Monkeys (well spotted Am)

Mates - Take me out, Franz Ferdinand

Work - I'm on my way, Proclaimers (even I ended up with "we gotta get out of this place" by the animals. Especially since I knocked back the chance to get out)

celtic - The Willy Maley song, celtic FC.

EED - I predict a riot, Kaiser Chiefs
sms txt alert - cisco beep beep from 24
So what about you got on your personal communicator and how sad does that make you?

Tuesday 1 November 2005

Telecrapper 2000 [Spiny]

Readers, readers; readers. We all love PCs don't we? Tell you what though, what ever reason you love your PC, that's not the best reason. How do I know? Well, my friends, I found that reason, here.

This ladies & gents is the Telecrapper 2000. A little bit of funky wiring to your phone and a small computer program. All it does is use the caller ID function of your phone to decide whether to pick up or not. If the program picks up the call, it just waits for a pause in the conversation from the caller & play the next wav file a sequence. Can you guess where this is heading?...Ever had a call from double glazing sales?* There's some fine examples on the site, but Example 5 had me in stitches, someone even did a flash version here.

Hats off to Richard Campbell of the rather exelent Mondays podcast for tracking this one down.

* Best response to double glazing goes to Mrs Spiny:
Ring Ring
"Hello, this is ??? glazing here, may I interest you in some windows?"
"No thanks, we've already got lots of windows!"