Archive for December, 2005

Funny sign

Friday, December 30th, 2005

In the Elephant and Castle shopping centre, there is a stall selling glass and crystal knick-knacks. The sign on the corner of the table reads:

Easy to break.
We will show you!

Didn’t see any broken glass around, though.

Posting from an iMac

Friday, December 30th, 2005

A few days ago I wrote about upgrading my iMac from 32 MB memory to 384 MB, and from 6 GB hard disk to 80 GB. Now I’ve installed OS X, and am doing my first post from the iMac. It’s quite an eye-opener. I haven’t yet taken advantage of the many features that people say the Mac offers. However, some observations might be in order:

1) The installation, while relatively simple, is not intuitive. OS X told me that it couldn’t install on the 80 GB hard disk because it had to be in the first 8 GB of the disk. All well and good; why then didn’t it offer to partition the disk for me appropriately and then continue with the install? Instead I had to struggle with a disk utility that was itself not particularly intuitive. That over, I had to reboot yet again in order to start the install anew as the program refused resolutely to recognise that the disk had been partitioned.

2) That being said, once the installation happened the machine fully configured the Ethernet connection for me; no struggling as with OS 8 and OS 9.

3) Wonder of wonders, it has now found the printer on my PC. However, it still won’t print through it. Another mystery for another day.

4) Instead of the horrible round green Apple mouse, I not only put a Microsoft optical mouse on the machine, I was able to download software that allows it to be left/right hand configured. The scroll wheel works.

Does this mean that I’ll become a Mac-head and toss all the PCs out? I don’t think so. However, it’s always nice to have a new toy with which to play. Now I have one, and it’s exciting. WL can now surf Chinese websites from the kitchen table with full rendering of the Chinese characters.

ISEB Practitioner Course in Software Testing

Tuesday, December 27th, 2005

I have had the Foundation Certificate for three years now, and of course I am a certified tutor for that particular course. I just invested nearly GBP 600 in a self-study CD-ROM for the Practitioner’s Certificate, the next step up. I’m hoping that I can complete this in time for the March examination. If not, then for the June one. Getting this certificate would mean increased income, as you must hold the Practitioner’s Certificate to be a tutor for that course.

I got 9 out of 10 right on the review of the Foundation material, so perhaps I’m off to a good start. The Practitioner’s exam is essay questions, not multiple choice; there will be lots more work to do on that and I may take most of February and devote it to studying that material.

I will update the blog with my progress occasionally.

Oh, Christ, it’s snowing

Tuesday, December 27th, 2005

We don’t get snow very often in London, but it’s snowing heavily at the moment. Being 2 degrees (C) outside, it won’t stick, but I still detest snow.

Update: It was over in a few minutes, and the snow didn’t really stick. Hurray!

I’m going to cooperate in some viral marketing…

Tuesday, December 27th, 2005

…but here is an ingenious little piece of Flash that fits right in with the season.

Hint: Click on the computer screen on the last page of the show.

From rupaul’s blog comes…

Monday, December 26th, 2005

this. I gather it’s some sort of TV reality show. Boy, was it real! I think that some astrology or solstice party might help her unwind.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 25th, 2005

As usual, I’m beat on Christmas evening; having Midnight Mass, then Christmas day Mass, then cooking, always leaves me exhausted. The Queen was suitably tasteful this afternoon, talking of the “annus horribilis” we’ve just had (no, she didn’t use those words) and reminding us of our duty toward those who have suffered in the last year. The Christmas ham was very good (if I do say so myself), and all four of us are suitably stuffed and waiting for squash pie a bit later.

So, Merry Christmas to you all (well, Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish friends and a very happy day to everyone else), and I hope you’ve all had a good day.

To those who are feeling down, hugs and much love from London to you all.

Update: The Times of London, today, referred to the Queen’s talking about 2005 as an “annus horribilis”. So I wasn’t the only one who made the connection, I guess.

I’ve heard of “eating your words”, but this?

Saturday, December 24th, 2005

Some Taiwanese women put theirs in a very private place, on vibrate, then ask their bf’s to call them occasionally. However, this story from the BBC takes the, er, cake.

HWMBO bought me a gift yesterday…

Saturday, December 24th, 2005

…The Digital Photography Handbook. A great gift (that I had been contemplating buying for myself) and one that will help in buying a new camera and learning how to use it professionally.

However, today’s Blondie comic hits close to home!

The Sun is so <b>very</b> tasteful

Thursday, December 22nd, 2005

Need I say more?

I wouldn’t wrap fish in the Sun.

An incredibly moving story

Tuesday, December 20th, 2005

You may have heard that the first same-sex couple to form a civil partnership in England will not be Elton John and David Furnish, but was a couple one of whom was terminally ill and who died the next day; their ceremony was advanced because of his illness. Here is their story.

You’ll never think of Bing in relation to “White Christmas” again

Tuesday, December 20th, 2005

…especially if you listen to this.

A hymn for today

Tuesday, December 20th, 2005

…got this in Integrity Lightspeed, and wanted to share.


O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
A wall is laid where tourists stayed,
And people can’t go by.
And in thy dark streets shineth
No cheerful Christmas light;
The grief and fears of five sad years
Are met in thee tonight.

How silently, how silently
The world regards it all,
As now thy heart is torn apart
By Israel’s ghetto wall.
They terrorise a people –
A war crime and a sin;
Their winding “fence” can make no sense;
Revenge can still get in.

O ye who now rule Bethlehem,
Cast down the iron cage,
The walls of hate that separate
And harden and enrage;
The land grab and apartheid –
This violence must cease,
If there’s to be a land that’s free,
A Bethlehem at peace.

We’ve set the date

Tuesday, December 20th, 2005

…and it’s Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2006. After a day minching around Central London, going to the Barbican Centre for an exhibition, and then having a princely lunch at Subway, we took the number 12 bus to Camberwell and kept our appointment with the registrar. The building is a Grade II listed structure (I suppose it might have been St. Giles’s Rectory or something of the sort, but I can’t say for certain) but the waiting room is so modern that the registrar has to come out with the hand-held chip and pin machine because the slots in the glass window at reception are too small to pass the machine through.

We saw the registrar, first together, then separately, while she took down our details. The notices will be up for the next two weeks, and then we’ll be free to form our Civil Partnership. We won’t be having a ceremony, just signing the register, but we’ll take our witnesses out to lunch afterwards. And that will be that!

Wish us luck!

I bought an iMac…

Monday, December 19th, 2005

…for £80, and discovered that it was not only one of the earliest models, but also deficient in the memory and hard disk categories: only 32 MB RAM and 6GB hard disk. So, I bought, in quick succession:

  • 512 MB RAM, which I discovered was too much for this computer, so I returned it;
  • 128 MB RAM, for one of the memory slots;
  • 256 MB RAM, for the other memory slot; and
  • an 80 GB hard disk drive.
  • Then, of course, there was the hassle of actually putting the stuff in the computer. For someone who is familiar with Intel PCs, fooling with the inside of an Apple iMac is something like doing a cholcystectomy through a keyhole slit in a patient with one hand tied behind your back and no light with which to see inside the patient. Well, maybe not that bad…

  • First you have to open the case, unplug three cables, and take out the motherboard/CDRom drive/Hard disk drive assembly.
  • Next, you have to take the daughter card off the motherboard, take out the original memory, and fit the two new memory boards.
  • Then, you have to take the motherboard itself off the assembly. This is fiddly, including unplugging 5 cables and taking the side panel off.
  • Then, take out the CD Rom drive.
  • Then, remove the old hard drive and the jig that holds it in place.
  • Put in the new hard drive, screw it into the jig, and put the jig back.
  • Reverse everything else and put the whole thing back together again.
  • Plug the computer back in, turn it on, put in a CD-Rom with MAC OS 9.2 on it, and pray.
  • I luckily had some help in the form of printed-out instructions on a website devoted to souping up your iMac. I was astonished when it worked, first time! The CD-Rom drive (the absolute original one with the tray rather than the slot opening) is a bit off-centre, and sometimes has to be coaxed into opening, but the computer booted up, OS 9.2 installed first time, and the computer now works! Hurrah!

    Our friend Win from Australia (former flatmate, great guy, was here on a 2-year tourist working visa) is going to send us a G3 tower via a friend of his who’s visiting in January. Then we’ll be a full Mac operation here. I will probably use it as a server to deal with the mountains of spam and the attacks that are constantly annoying us in PC-land.

    Now to get it connected to the Internet.

    Update! While the computer connects fine to the internet, I now find that it won’t run OS X and, of course, everything now available for the Mac is supposed to run OS X. I shall find out more about this later on from my friend Rob, who is a Mac-a-holic.

    Mean spirited Western Isles registrars refuse to conduct civil partnership ceremonies

    Monday, December 19th, 2005

    Full story is here; don’t know how long the link will stay up so be quick about it!

    Jack Carroll, denizen of <i>soc.motss</i>, on President Bush

    Monday, December 19th, 2005

    Americans got the worst president they have ever had, and they got him at a very perilous time in history. A religious nut, a lush in denial, a spoiled playboy, a chronic liar, and a know-it-all who knows very little…and my personal feelings are that probably most Americans would vote for someone as bad or worse again if the packaging were appealing.

    A masterful summary of the Disaster-in-Chief.

    A very accurate webquiz

    Friday, December 16th, 2005

    …because it said that I’m a New Yorker!


















    What state should you live in?
    created with

    My btinternet email is down

    Friday, December 16th, 2005

    I am really pissed off: my email has been down since last night. Not only do I get no POP feed, but I can’t log in to the website to look at it. In addition, Yahoo! email (which runs btinternet email) seems to be down as well.

    Good grief. I hope that they’re saving it somewhere and not bouncing it back. If they are, I’m switching ISPs.

    10:00 am UPDATE: It’s now back, as always. No explanation of where it was while it was gone. Something to do with magic, I suppose.

    My Christmas is most like…

    Friday, December 16th, 2005
    Your Christmas is Most Like: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

    You can’t really get into the Christmas spirit…
    But it usually gets to you by the end of the holiday.
    What Movie Is Your Christmas Most Like?

    Somehow I thought this would be the case.

    Bareback…er…Brokeback Mountain

    Wednesday, December 14th, 2005

    There has been some discussion in soc.motss about misreading the title of Ang Lee’s new movie Brokeback Mountain. However, as usual, Overheard in New York is right up with the latest trends.

    Today’s avian URL…

    Tuesday, December 13th, 2005

    …thanks to Towleroad, is here. Do watch out; it’s duck migration season now, at least in the Northern Hemisphere.

    Today’s Holiday URL

    Tuesday, December 13th, 2005

    …with thanks to . Get your jollies with the Snow Globe.

    The things one does for friends

    Monday, December 12th, 2005

    My friend Alex is an actor who does whatever he can to keep body and soul together. He did an ad for ntl in which he was one of three breakdancers. ntl, unfortunately, did not give him a DVD copy of the ad, and Alex does not have a tv. So, he asked me to tape the ad. “It comes up every 10 minutes or so on channel 666 on Sky.” Now, the number “666” should have been a tipoff. I have put it on now for three days straight in the evening. The channel is a series of rolling ads for ntl broadband services. There are three inane actors who do little skits about getting broadband (they must not have worked in years to have stooped so low) and I have only seen Alex’s commercial once, when I didn’t have the VCR on. I am rapidly losing my mind. I could just record 3 hours and hope that the ad comes on, but in 2.5 hours yesterday not a peep of it.

    Alex really owes me now. He’ll have to visit me in Broadmoor (most famous mental hospital in the UK) if this keeps up.

    UPDATE! Got it taped this morning (Tuesday). Thank God! I may not have to go to Broadmoor after all.

    Perhaps your granny will knit you one…

    Thursday, December 8th, 2005

    …thanks to the Annals of Improbable Research, you get to see one, here.

    How hath the mighty fallen!

    Thursday, December 8th, 2005

    Remember him? The little guy? He’s shilling for a loan agency, here, but watch out for the ‘flash if you don’t like that kind of thing.

    Salina, KS 8th grade final exam

    Thursday, December 8th, 2005

    …from 1895! Salina, KS Journal.

    Would you pass?

    The Christmas Party

    Thursday, December 8th, 2005

    With the recent innovation of changing “Christmas” into “Holiday” to accomodate everyone, it was inevitable that some humour would result.

    The Christmas Party!
    FROM: Pauline Lewis, Human Resources Director
    TO: All Employees
    DATE: 4th November 2004
    RE: Christmas Party

    I’m happy to inform you that the company Christmas Party will take place on December 23rd, starting at noon in the private function room at the Grill House. There will be a cash bar and plenty of drinks! We’ll have a small band playing traditional carols … please feel free to sing along. And don’t be surprised if the MD shows up dressed as Santa Claus! A Christmas tree will be lit at 1.00p.m. Exchange of gifts among employees can be done at that time, however, no gift should be over $10.00 to make the giving of gifts easy for everyone’s pockets. This gathering is only for employees! The MD will make a special announcement at the Party.

    Merry Christmas to you and your Family.


    FROM: Pauline Lewis, Human Resources Director
    TO: All Employees
    DATE: 5th November 2004
    RE: Holiday Party

    In no way was yesterday’s memo intended to exclude our Jewish employees. We recognize that Chanukah is an important holiday, which often coincides with Christmas, though unfortunately not this year. However, from now on we’re calling it our ‘Holiday Party.’ The same policy applies to any other employees who are not Christians. There will be no Christmas tree or Christmas carols sung. We will have other types of music for your enjoyment.

    Happy now?

    Happy Holidays to you and your family,


    FROM: Pauline Lewis, Human Resources Director
    TO: All Employees
    DATE: 6th November 2004
    RE: Holiday Party

    Regarding the note I received from a member of Alcoholics Anonymous requesting a non-drinking table … you didn’t sign your name. I’m happy to accommodate this request, but if I put a sign on a table that reads, “AA Only,” you wouldn’t be anonymous anymore!!!! How am I supposed to handle this? Somebody? Forget about the gift exchange; no gift exchange allowed now since the Union Officials feel that $10.00 is too much money and Management believe $10.00 is a little cheap. NO GIFT EXCHANGE WILL BE ALLOWED.


    FROM: Pauline Lewis, Human Resources Director
    TO: All Employees
    DATE: 7th November 2004
    RE: Holiday Party

    What a diverse group we are! I had no idea that December 20th begins the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which forbids eating and drinking during daylight hours. There goes the party! Seriously, we can appreciate how a luncheon at this time of year does not accommodate our Muslim employees’ beliefs, perhaps the Grill House can hold off on serving your meal until the end of the party-or else package everything up for you to take home in a little foil doggy bag. Will that work?

    Meanwhile, I’ve arranged for members of Weight Watchers to sit farthest from the dessert buffet and pregnant women will get the table closest to the toilets, Gays are allowed to sit with each other, Lesbians do not have to sit with gay men, each will have their own table. Yes, there will be flower arrangements for the gay men’s table too. To the person asking permission to cross dress-no cross dressing allowed. We will have booster seats for short people. Low fat food will be available for those on a diet. We cannot control the salt used in the food we suggest those people with high blood pressure taste the food first. There will be fresh fruits as dessert for Diabetics, the restaurant cannot supply “No Sugar” desserts. Sorry! Did I miss anything?!?!?!?!?!


    FROM: Pauline Lewis, Human Resources Director
    TO: All F****** Employees
    DATE: 8 November 2004
    RE: The ******** Holiday Party.

    Vegetarian pricks I’ve had it with you people !!! We’re going to keep this party at the Grill House whether you like it or not, so you can sit quietly at the table furthest from the “grill of death,” as you so quaintly put it, you’ll get your f****** salad bar, including organic tomatoes. But you know tomatoes have feeling too. They scream when you slice them. I’ve heard them scream. I’m hearing them scream right NOW!! I hope you all have a rotten holiday, drink and drive and die!

    The Bitch from HELL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    FROM: John Bishop – Acting Human Resources Director
    DATE: 9th November 2004
    RE: Pauline Lewis and Holiday Party

    I’m sure I speak for all of us in wishing Pauline Lewis a speedy recovery, and I’ll continue to forward your cards to her. In the meantime, the Management has decided to cancel our Holiday Party and instead, give everyone the afternoon of the 23rd December off with full pay.


    I’ve been naughty this year…

    Tuesday, December 6th, 2005
    Dear Santa…

    Dear Santa,

    This year I’ve been busy!

    In June I gave a Dutch Oven (-10 points). Last month I set ‘s puppy on fire (-66 points). Last Tuesday I had a shoot-out with rival gang lords on the 5 near LA (-76 points). In May I pulled ‘s hair (-5 points). In April I broke ‘s X-Box (-12 points).

    Overall, I’ve been naughty (-169 points). For Christmas I deserve a lump of coal!


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