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March 31st, 2005

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01:02 am - Ten-spot with 40% extra free!
1. A friend recently searched for my name on Froogle, as one might do, and found something old, something new, something borrowed and something Not Safe For Work (towards the bottom, but these things may change). One of these things is not like the others...

2. I do find it strange that This Week In Chess can publish a picture of the crucial page of mad chess legend Bobby Fischer's passport. I would be amused if someone were to make lots of fake Bobby Fischer Icelandic passports and send them to 419 scammers who might try to use them to get into the United States only to be taken into custody at the border.

3. Britain's sports councils, including Sport England, currently recognise 112 activities as sports. However, their definition of sport requires the activity to involve "physical skills, physical effort, and physical challenge", which is rather sad. I have no objection to them recognising darts and indeed the only mystery is why it should have taken them so long to recognise that as a very fine sport. (Instead, I will quibble at the suggestion that hot air ballooning is a sport.) I do find their physical focus sadly blinkered, though.

4. When installing new software and given choice of, say, Standard and Advanced installations, does anyone else pop their head into the Advanced option to see how an installation can be Advanced before retreating and accepting the Standard defaults, or is that just me?

5. Anyone in Britain planning a 5/5/5 party to celebrate at least one election (and possibly a birthday)? Preferably a neutral or left-leaning event, preferably one where I would be at least adequately welcome...

6. This might be a repeat-o-blog, but I did enjoy reading about the plans for Superlink, a transport scheme through London akin to a bigger, better version of Crossrail (er, Crossrail 1). The names behind it are impressive but I have no clue whether their sums work or not. I am treating it as transport fan fiction unless there's reason to believe there's more to it.

7. The Oxford University Invariant Society was a Candidate For Speedy Deletion! ...from Wikipedia. Someone did write an article under that title, but it consisted of an academic reference to a book about invariants with no obvious relevance to the society. (It was slightly weird.) There could be a good Wikipedia article written about the Invariant Society - for instance, who are its famous former members? (Not as in LJ-famous...)

8. There's a persistent rumour about that Google may be working on some sort of networked operating system so that you can perform most common Office-style and Internet use tasks, independent of which computer in the world you're using as a terminal, without having to load and maintain more than a very basic OS locally per computer. It is well-known that Google employees may dedicate 20% of their work weeks to work-related projects of their own choosing; while I think speculation that this is Google's intention is solely speculation, I would be very surprised if there weren't at least one Google employee who has seen this speculation and is working on it - but that the speculation has driven the activity, rather than the other way around.

9. Do Dell make good computers? I am not very impressed with them as a company because they don't seem very straightforward about selling you things at the best price they are prepared to offer. You can get relatively good deals by typing in "E-Value" codes from their adverts and unbundling the additional extras (eg service contracts) to get back down to the advertised machine at the advertised price, but this doesn't fill me with confidence that I have seen the best possible E-Value code and so am getting my money's worth. Some of their service contracts also look very far from going the extra mile in the customer's direction, too.

10. Conversely, I will speak up in favour of ACE Computer Components / K. D. Computers of 38 Borough Road, Middlesbrough, who were able to sell me a very basic old AGP video card for my heavily-crash-prone desktop PC that was making the beeeeeeeeep-bip-bip "change your video card" POST beep code and so failing to boot. Cost: £8. How do they afford such low prices? By not having a web site, evidently. Hurrah.

11. The stating the obvious department would like to speak up in favour of firewalls; the no-charge Zone Alarm software is actually very easy to use, unlike my fear-driven expectation. Can I justify not having run a firewall in the past? No, not really.

12. While I'm not a habitual fan of what I thought to be categorised as rap music, though I believe is considered hip-hop these days, I did enjoy this .mov format music video of what a rap-based DDR-style game might look like.

13. 18-year-old starts commercial airline to fly Oxford-Cambridge, two 8-seater plane flights per direction per day, with scope for expansion. Well, the 18-year-old's company is only responsible for "route selection, development and marketing" and the 18-year-old is learning to be a pilot, but it's got a gimmick and it's got as good a shot as any. I await the Oxford - Teesside route but am not holding my breath.

14. McDonalds have been trialling "freshly-made deli sandwiches" here recently, though nobody in London or in a service station half-way between claimed to know anything about them (or to honour the voucher that came through the door for a free sandwich) so I suspect the trial is at best regional, possibly more local than that. I had a free Chicken Tikka sandwich, which comes with lettuce, tomato, cucumber and raita dressing. It was adequate but unexciting; not a patch on, say, Subway, let alone the local £1 sandwich bars. (Hungry Jack's may have folded, but a very similar clone called Slice has emerged in an old HJ location. Their experiment with tortilla wraps is over and the pick-and-have-mixed-for-you salad topping range has five ingredients rather than eight, but it's still a winner in my book.)

There are seven sandwiches in the range; the prices varied from £2.59 to £2.99, so compete against the Premieres rather than the regular burgers, but £1.99 day-of-the-week specials are offered at the Middlesbrough town centre branch and they're starting to bundle small ("medium") soft drinks in too. Mine was relatively healthy at 388 calories, 5g fat, 1g saturated fat; Sweet Chilli Chicken is both battered and covered with sugary gloop so its 600 calories come from a storming 85g of carbs, but the real star is Cheese, Ham and Pepperoni (translation: fat, fat and protein, more fat and more protein) which at 639 calories, 31g fat, 13g saturated fat and almost 6g of salt makes the Big Mac look positively healthy. However, hey, it includes lettuce and tomatoes, so it's got to be good for you, eh?
Current Mood: productiveclearer

(11 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:March 30th, 2005 04:57 pm (UTC)
I use ZoneAlarm. Highly recommended, especially because it's free.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
Date:March 31st, 2005 12:32 am (UTC)
The paid version of ZA is a bit better.
[User Picture]
Date:March 31st, 2005 12:35 am (UTC)
Re Dells, we buy hundreds here and they're mostly OK hardwarewise. Of course we get a deal because of the volume. The ones we can get as individual purchases to sell on are usually more expensive than the offers in the newspapers etc. Saw a Dell Latitude 505 laptop yesterday that fell to bits when SP2 was installed - and it was running XP Pro, not Home. But it had various bits of software that might have been conflicting with something, somewhere, somehow.
[User Picture]
Date:March 31st, 2005 01:12 am (UTC)
There will be birthday parties on and around 5/5/5. You will be invited.

Further trivial details like time, date, location and election-viewing (I predict anticlimax) are all up for negotiation, so get the one-man Dickson idea factory working.
[User Picture]
Date:March 31st, 2005 01:43 am (UTC)
Re: #1
Froogling my name gives something absolutely not work-safe as the second product! (Again, I am thankful for having my own office, far from prying eyes...)

However, I have now discovered English Flower Essences as alternative remedies and I am rather amused to find that holly is apparently a rememdy for anger based specifically on hatred, suspicion, envy or jealousy. "Holly helps overcome the feeling of an absence of love, and the remedy works to encourage generosity of spirit and openness towards others feeling compassion, love and inner harmony within yourself." I am a love catalyst!
Date:March 31st, 2005 08:24 am (UTC)
Dell's service has been exemplary in my (admittedly limited) experience
Date:March 31st, 2005 10:12 am (UTC)
I would be amused if someone were to make lots of fake Bobby Fischer Icelandic passports and send them to 419 scammers who might try to use them to get into the United States only to be taken into custody at the border.

Of course, this pre-supposes that the passport checks in the departing country didn't pick up the mild aroma of haddock around the document. Somehow, "arrested at Djuma airport" doesn't have *quite* the same ring as "nabbed at Jay Effkay."

I will quibble at the suggestion that hot air ballooning is a sport.

Have you ever been ballooning? I suggest that the physical skill is in the correct manipulation of the burners to achieve the right height; in that respect, it's not a million miles from yachting.

Superlink... it's actually quite close to the original (c. 1990) concept of Crossrail, with extra routes towards Milton Keynes. Most of the running outside central London takes place on existing lines, the "only" new investment would be the tunnel through London (hugely expensive) and connections thereto (cheap by comparison). The group makes valid points about the cross-London route, too.

I'm going to treat it as a useful what-can-be-done experiment, though the concept of a cross-platform change at Watford (or Milton-Keynes) for a direct train to the city would be a big grab for that line.

As for firewalls, my personal preference is for Kerio firewall, though I have a suspicion that it's beginning to bog down my computer's other working. Maybe a hardware firewall is the way to go...
[User Picture]
Date:March 31st, 2005 10:21 am (UTC)
Dell makes fine computers and their service is superb. (I haven't had to use it often, because their computers tend to last forever - don't ask me how old my current one is; it's embarassing - but it's nice to know that I'm in good hands if I need anything.)
[User Picture]
Date:March 31st, 2005 02:21 pm (UTC)
Invariant Wikistub created! Your turn now...
[User Picture]
Date:March 31st, 2005 03:36 pm (UTC)
I always look at the Advanced options, even if I never change any settings.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
Date:April 4th, 2005 07:44 am (UTC)
Welcome! I don't tend to write about the area very much, but stay as long as you like, and don't worry about deFriending me if you decide I'm not to your taste after all. :-)

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