Archive for February, 2007

For <lj user=”trawnapanda”>

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007

I thought you might get a kick out of one of my friends’ blogs, You have a lot in common…

Today’s Double-Entendre

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

Not a URL, but a quote from the News of the Weird:

In December in Jerusalem, Israel’s Green Leaf Party organized the first joint Israeli-Arab conference promoting the legalization of marijuana, which a party spokesman said would create a “common [cultural] identity” that could lead to peace.

I see. This explains a lot.

Someone has a lot of time on their hands…

Saturday, February 24th, 2007

…so they’ve produced this website, which appeals to the Latinist in me, but grates on the singer in me. Besides, whatever happened to “a language understanded of the people”? The link was buried in the paid ads in Private Eye.

That being said, I like this one:

Misit huc Magos Oriens:
stella tres nos ducit agens
rura rivos campum clivos
donaque transferens.


Natus est ad Bethlehem Rex:
aureus confirmet apex;
totus sine cuncto fine
pareat illi grex:

Numinosum offero tus:
noscitatur ture Deus;
ornent iuncti Summum cuncti
cum prece laudibus:

Ecce! myrrha acerbum olens,
umbras imminere docens!
Cruciatum immolatum
en lapis opprimens!

Iamque vindicatus ovat,
se victorem nuntiat;
angelorum terra chorum
laude reduplicat.

Presumably you can all make a stab at figuring out which hymn this is. He’s even preserved the internal rhyme in the third line of each stanza in the English version.

Macte virtute esto!

iMac, part II

Saturday, February 24th, 2007

When I got my new Dell and moved the old one into the kitchen for HWMBO, I had to quickly move the iMac, so I put it in the guest room upstairs. This was a pain, as I had no internet connection upstairs, and thus couldn’t use it for my iPod or anything else.

I bought a Linksys ethernet bridge last week, and hooked it up yesterday. After a few glitches (very bad manual writing as well as bad design of the installation program) I got it working. The iMac is now up there and connected. My iPod works with its copy of iTunes as well.

The final addition was hooking up the Dell speakers (that I didn’t care to use for my new computer because the old Aiwa system, two speakers that can be hung on the wall and a subwoofer were perfectly good) to the iMac. The sound is gorgeous!

Now I wouldn’t say that this will send me out running to buy a Mac Mini or anything. However, I’m quite pleased with it, and for a very low price (probably about GBP 200 overall, including the iMac itself, the added memory, the 80 GB hard disk, and the copy of OS X) I’ve gotten a very useful little computer. I shall be using it more often now.

The bad news is that the Dell laptop has developed a wheeze. I thought it was the fan, but the exhaust fans on the back are doing fine. If there’s a fan inside, perhaps it’s that. If not, it’s the hard disk noisily packing up. Crumbs!

A novel theory about the Primates Meeting in Tanzania

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

Is there any connection between the abysmal decisions made at the Primates Meeting in Tanzania and this news story?

I think we ought to be told.

Dolly, watch out!

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

For those who are ovinophiles, there is this website, purporting to be an ovine dating site. Unfortunately, when looking for the location of members, the only country allowed is New Zealand.

I think that there are several other places not too far from London that might benefit as well.

Hansen reports ingenious spam-content

Saturday, February 17th, 2007

Note that each line consists of:

  • A proper noun
  • A verb
  • An adjective
  • A noun of some sort (not proper)
  • Repeat once.

Shreveport intricates ill vintager Rodriguez coedits eager muckrake
Ponce researchs clear quadratic Tobin prickles heavy moccasin
Jolson eventuates salty fecklessness Salz commemorates smiling iceboat
Tanaka thinks wide sadist Woolongong cossets envious ancientness
Oedipus endeavors average sibilancy Tanaka overplans wonderful rememberer
Quakeress exeunts sour subsection Jamil ascertains distinct stringing
Cascades outwaits naughty usuriousness Atari euphemizes ancient sequence
Damien professs cold miler Crissie humiliates distinct overcoat
Shreveport legitimizes ashamed clamminess Smuts hopscotchs grubby osteopath
Woolongong reinforms chilly forbearance Glennis renegotiates chubby confidante
Hasbro predeceases rotten internist Brietta whales dirty viscosity
Shaina fags mute chiffonier Salz teeter-totters amused beefcake
Rodriguez aids elated brindle Tobin whets quaint sympathizer

Those phrases that amuse me are in bold. This type of spam-filler is new to me.

My job situation

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

I’ve been annoyed at my job situation. There is a cultural and organisational gap that is difficult to cross when you work for an Indian IT consultancy.

First, they are stingy with the pay and benefits. I am making about GBP 3,000 less than I was at Searchspace. Well, no problems with the money, of course, as I do not need it to live, just to live well. However, it does rankle a bit.

My boss is a procrastinator. He is always running behind, comes in late, never has time to have a proper discussion, and doesn’t exercise good judgment when it comes to assignments.

The consultancy itself is a mess. There is a lot of pointless bureaucracy, most of which is exercised through an online “system” that is like a patchwork quilt of the lowest quality, riddled with holes. It obviously grew from a small system into a behemoth, and was never designed or tested in its entirety. Trying to understand how to enter a timesheet is dire. Nothing else is easy to find or to do. But they are enormously proud of it.

They put inspirational wallpaper and screen savers on your computer, whether you want them or not. And cheesy is not the word for them. They are worse than cheesy. If you’ve seen those dis-inspirational office wall posters, you’ll get some of the flavour of it.

When you need information from someone, it is like pulling teeth to get it. They clutch it to their bosoms, feeling that if they let you in on the information you need to do your job, they’ve in some way lost something. The salespeople (who are responsible for selling testing consultancy) do not understand testing at all.

As a consultancy, the only metric they use is the percentage of utilisation of the consultants. If you are doing things that aren’t billable, but are useful and even necessary to the health of the consultancy, that doesn’t count. You are not pulling your weight. You are a drone. You will be reprimanded (even if you were not billable through no fault of your own).

So, last week, I got a call from an old chum of mine who is CEO of another testing and training consultancy, through which I’ve done a lot of my training work in the past. He was looking for someone to take a course this week, and of course I told him I was working full time and couldn’t take this one, but that I was looking around for a change.

He called again today and we’ll be having a coffee and a chat later this week or early next week. I like training, and I’m good at it (my pass rate is better than the average pass rate for the ISEB/ISTQB Foundation Certificate in Software Testing). There will also be consultancy involved, but I don’t think it’s far away or onerous–we’ll see.

I’ve only been at TCS for 5 months, and I feel somewhat annoyed that it isn’t working out, but my main mistake when I started looking for work again was this:

I didn’t use my networks!

So, remember that when you’re looking for work. Use your networks first. It may not pan out, but you never know.

Watch this space!

Love those wireless headphones, and our Valentine’s Day dinner

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

I got a pair of these for myself for Valentine’s Day.

They feel a bit strange on my head, and the iPod Nano base that comes with it does not fit my iPod Nano, but the sound is incredible. Plus, no more wires to fool around with. Just put the headphones and the base unit in touch with each other, put the headphones on, and let ‘er rip.

I would still use my noise cancelling headphones on an airplane or in another noisy situation, but the Logitech ones are the bee’s knees.

In other news, as yesterday was our anniversary (1st of the Civil Partnership, 9th of our relationship), we were going to go out to an Italian restaurant called Azzurro (which we went to and liked, but the reviews are somewhat spotty) but HWMBO had a recurrence of his cold, and was coughing up a storm. But we couldn’t cancel some of our guests, so in the end HWMBO stayed home and , Mark, Rob, and Ethel (Mark and Ethel were our witnesses at our Civil Partnership) went out to the Indian restaurant at the Elephant and Castle shopping centre.

gave us a lovely Spanish wall hanging showing two lovebirds, which was really thoughtful and will be framed soon (I hope) and hanging on the wall; Ethel and Mark and Rob gave us cards, and we then tucked into the Indian food.

I have discovered that the way to avoid feeling somewhat off after an Indian meal (for me) is simple: lay off the lime pickle. It must be putting my blood pressure up. I had mulligatawny soup, chicken jalfrezi, and some naan bread (the kind with the grated coconut on it, whose Indian name I forget) along with a litre of Cobra lager; mango kulfi for dessert and a bit of brandy on the house. I treated, as it was our party! Ethel is such a wonderful woman, a real “Cockney sparrow” who has lived in the neighbourhood all her life, had a wonderful marriage and great children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, and has an easy hearty laugh. I got her a box of Bailey’s Irish Cream chocolates (she’s partial to Bailey’s) and she was delighted.

Usually after an Indian meal I feel a bit bloated all evening; last night I felt great and slept like a baby. HWMBO stayed home from work today and I worked from home, so it was really restful.

For geeks only

Wednesday, February 14th, 2007

I know, I’m sad, and I’m not ashamed of it. I get Microsoft’s Technet newsletter, and this time around there was a link to an extremely interesting article on investigation of computer misuse. It gives a step-by-step checklist, with reference to software tools used, to investigate computer misuse. The fictional case study they give is of a person working in a company who brags about knowing the salaries of his co-workers. At the end of the investigation, you can tell exactly why this person got to see the file with the salaries in it and how the investigation progressed.

Just for good measure they throw in the fact that the person also had lots of porn pictures on his work computer.

Today’s BBC headline

Monday, February 12th, 2007

“New challenge for Thames swimmer”. Must be about the Primates Meeting in Tanzania and the convert from Roman Catholicism who is now the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.

Another CNN headline

Monday, February 12th, 2007

“Judge: Preserve Anna Nicole’s body”

I have two disturbing mental images. One is of a cabinet in which Anna Nicole, stuffed with straw, sits, a la Jeremy Bentham at University College London.

The other is of Mother Cabrini underneath the altar, enclosed in glass.

I shall lie awake nights worrying about this for a while.

And we won’t even mention Lenin.

There’ll always be a USA, British News department

Monday, February 12th, 2007

Here in the UK, the death of actor Ian Richardson was headlined in such ways as “House of Cards actor dead at 72”.

On CNN, it was headlined ‘Actor in “Grey Poupon” ad dead at 72’. (Ian Richardson appeared in ads for Grey Poupon Dijon mustard in the United States).

O tempora! O mores!

(Note that CNN did talk mostly about Richardson’s Urquhart portrayal in House of Cards in the actual article–there is hope yet!)

A prophetic voice

Sunday, February 11th, 2007

You may remember that two weeks ago I preached a sermon on the text “Give us this day our daily bread”, starting it with the old joke about the food tycoon who persuades the pope to change that phrase in the Lord’s Prayer for a fee.

The tycoon I used was Bernard Matthews, who wanted to jazz up his advertising by changing that phrase to “Give us this day our daily turkey”.

The news has been full of the stories about Bernard Matthews’s farm in Suffolk, which has been hit in the past week and a half with bird flu from Hungary and has been forced to cull almost 150,000 turkeys. Sales of turkey and poultry are down.

I believe that I should be ennobled as a prophet. I’m sure that Bernard is getting ready to visit the pope chequebook in hand.

Winter Wonderland

Thursday, February 8th, 2007

The subject of this entry is not one that I would be able to use very often here in London. Last night, and continuing this morning, we are having what the weather forecaster on Radio4 described as “the heaviest snowfall in England”. I can’t imagine having the heaviest snowfall in England here in London, but there you go.

I opened the back door, turned on the light, and took a picture of the backyard and the snowfall. I’m glad I don’t have to shovel it. I believe it’ll top out at about 2 inches so I’ll be working at home today as public transport will not be easy. Oh, and those of you from places where people sneer until you get a foot of snow or more, please do not comment on what wusses we are, or I’ll drop a house on you.

A melancholy anniversary

Wednesday, February 7th, 2007

Today is the first anniversary of my heart attack.

In a week, a happy anniversary.

In between, pensive.

Latest news from the BBC ticker

Tuesday, February 6th, 2007

“Human skin plays host to huge numbers of different bacteria, scientists discover.”

No shit, Sherlock. I knew that. I’m not even a scientist, nor do I play one on TV.

I suppose next they’ll be reporting the tragic death of poor Queen Anne.

A bit late for 2001, a Space Oddity^WOdyssey, but…

Tuesday, February 6th, 2007

this story just goes to show that no matter how good your selection process is, and how rigourous, sometimes people slip through who perhaps oughtn’t.

Clergy selection conferences, take note!

Today’s Pravda headline

Sunday, February 4th, 2007

“The US executes its citizens every 10 days”

I see. They must multiply relatively rapidly then…


Sunday, February 4th, 2007

A big day yesterday, very fraught from beginning to end.

In the morning I went on a short training session at the diocesan office to help prepare for my stint as a Companion in Ministry. A team of four people (three priests and me) will be assisting a parish not too far from here in making some changes and getting focussed on worship and engagement with their area. If I didn’t hate the term so much, I’d call it a “Fresh expression of church”. I knew two out of the three priests on my team, but none of those on the other team (which is going to another parish further East).

I enjoyed the day, and will find the new parish something of a personal challenge, as they are extremely Evangelical (in US-Episcopalian terms, very “low”): Eucharist three times a month (two Sundays it’s the major service, and there is one 1662 Prayer Book service on another Sunday), Family Service (whatever that is) twice a month, and Mattins once a month. They have an interesting patch of an interesting area, and if they play their cards right will be growing rapidly as their area regenerates.

I would say that if anyone wants to give a Powerpoint presentation, they should try to understand how to use the computer. When I came in the moderator and one of the attendees were trying to “fix” the computer. They were about to give up when I asked, innocently, “Have you put in the password?” (There was a BIOS password set, and they weren’t entering it.) So of course when the moderator had a bit of difficulty switching from the LCD display to the projector, I had to help him out there. I end up being the computer expert wherever I go.

But, some expert I was. I came home to find that my second copy of Microsoft Office had arrived. When I transferred everything to this computer, Office had come too, but of course without another license it was hopeless to continue. So I thought, blithely, “Just stick the new Office CD into the computer and reinstall.”

Oh, no!

I spent about 4 hours with the bloody thing. I got an error saying something like: “[program name]. This application has requested the Runtime to terminate it in an unusual way.” No matter what I tried, the damned thing wouldn’t go any further. I tried:

  • Deleting the Office files off the computer;
  • Deleting every reference to [program name] from the Registry (I used to be coy about slashing and burning things in the Registry; I’m not any more.);
  • Doing Google searches to try to find out what other people’s experiences had been, but couldn’t find many and the only one that seemed germane had a price tag attached (ie, I’d have to join a support website at US$12.95 a month to find out);
  • Repeatedly cleaning my Registry with several different tools;
  • Uninstalling Microsoft .NET 2.0.

I was effing and blinding and HWMBO, who is a gentle soul and still recovering from a nasty cold, was very upset. “You’re grumpy again!” he’d say, repeatedly. I tried not to swear, I really did. But Bill Gates made me do it.

Eventually, while trying to delete .NET 2.0, I found it to be repairing itself. Once it had repaired itself (not that I had broken it, mind you), the install went through cleanly.

So, although this is Friends-Only (in deference to the fact that the parish I’ll be serving in still doesn’t know we’ll be there), make a note of the solution–you too may need it someday.

Bangers and mash for dinner, homemade (of course), but the bangers weren’t very nice. Not that they were cheap, mind you, nor were they “off”, just not a nice taste. Unfortunately, they were one-half of a twofer offer, so there’s another packet of them in the freezer.

Then to bed, after an exhausting day. But, no!

The Nigerian neighbours (not clients of the mental health agency who support 4 of my neighbours, but those in the maisonnette [=US duplex apartment] across from me who pay market rents to assist in financing the aforesaid clients) decided to have a very loud party, at which they were playing African pop music at ear-shattering and sleep-defying levels. At 1 am I had had enough and discovered that (1) the police do not come out to loud parties unless there is disorder or underage drinking going on and you yourself have seen that, and (2) the noise pollution people from the council are overworked.

HWMBO had a difficult time sleeping and I was trying to help, but ended up not sleeping myself because of waiting for the noise pollution people. When the party was over and it was clear to me that it was over, I phoned them again and said they shouldn’t bother to turn up, as the noise was gone. I got ready for bed and turned off the light, and just then the doorbell rang.

You guessed it. The last piece of noise pollution was the council workers, ringing my doorbell. I told them that they were 10 minutes too late and that I’d rung their office to tell them that and not to turn up, but they left and said, over their shoulders, “So you’re not bothered about the noise, then?” I said, “Twenty minutes ago I was, but they’ve stopped. I did ring your office, as I was told, to say that the noise had stopped…”

I shall be phoning the housing association to tell them about the noise, in the slim chance that they might actually mention to the other tenants that having loud parties after, say, 11 pm is probably anti-social. Very slim chance indeed.

Today’s Calorific URL

Saturday, February 3rd, 2007

Thanks to , we now know not only the secret of the recipe of chiffon cake, but also the secret of its inventor. A riveting tale, and not fattening at all.

Today’s Computing ~URL

Friday, February 2nd, 2007

Thanks to a steer from ronslog, I find that Vista’s voice recognition system is a bit, well, madly designed. I originally wanted to write “badly designed”, but on reflection, madly says it all.

Today’s Gambling URL

Thursday, February 1st, 2007

If you run out of money while playing poker, there’s no end of things you could get your hands on with which to wager…

Today’s Great Marketing Ideas URL

Thursday, February 1st, 2007

If you see a box with blinking lights hanging around your neighbourhood, don’t worry, it’s not dangerous, it’s only a stupid great marketing idea. Almost as good as a radio contest to see who could sit on blocks of dry ice the longest or drink the most water without spending a penny…