Sunday, December 31, 2006

Saddam Hussein Hanging

Not quite sure whether it was a good thing or a bad thing hanging Saddam, he did keep his country a bit more in check that the 'coalition forces'...

Anyway, for those that wish to see what looks like his actual hanging from someone's phone camera, this video is on Google Video.

It does actually show Saddam falling through the trap with the noose around his neck so beware.

Link to the video of Saddam Hussein's Hanging on Google Video

I didn't really notice this at the time, but the 'official' footage differs a little from this phone camera footage, in the fact that Saddam is being shouted at with jibes to 'go to hell' and he retaliates - far from the 'dignified' portrayal in the official video release.

More details can be found on this BBC news article about the differences with translations.

Here is a link to the boing boing thread about Saddam's Execution.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

British Airways on Google Earth

I thought this was a really novel use of Google Earth, advertising your flights, destinations and affiliate hotels by use of Google Earth. This encourages something I already do - check out your destinations on Google Earth before you go, whilst being able to see car hire locations, hotel locations and flight prices right there within Google Earth!

Find the Google Earth British Airways layer here

Friday, December 22, 2006

New Blogger Tools

Beta Blogger is now out of beta and now just Blogger. It comes with some new features such as tagging which I've wanted for a while - now you can obtain all my crap jokes with one click...

Still getting to grips with it, I've had to use one of the new templates or 'layouts' to get the label feature working, but I haven't yet figured out how to get it in the sidebar.

We'll see how it goes!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Fog at Luton Airport

Fog at Luton Airport
Originally uploaded by barry_williams.

I flew with work into and out of Luton Airport yesterday and managed to avoid the cancellations due to the fog. We only really noticed the fog just as we passed inside of the M25, on the way back the fog eventually crept into the airport about 2 hours before our flight left...

Our easyJet flight departed about 30 minutes late, but made up some time on the way which was good!

I've seen some severe fog before - particularly in Dover when sometimes you couldn't see more than a meter in front, but never in a built-up and inland area like central london!!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Terminator 2 Busts

Received an email from forbidden planet with what I think is probably the coolest thing they've ever sold. A life sized replica of the T-800 endoskeleton bust complete with electronic eyes and removable CPU chip. This can be yours for only £349.99. I don't think I'll be coughing up for one of these, but if I'd a spare £350 lying about I would!

To quote the article:

To celebrate the 15th Anniversary of this modern classic film, Sideshow Collectibles and Stan Winston Studios have partnered to create the T-800 Endoskeleton Life-Size Bust. For the first time ever, the Endoskeleton skull has been reproduced with complete authenticity to the film by the same artists that created the Endoskeleton for the film. The Endoskeleton Life-Size Bust features electronic function eyes, and a removable CPU microchip. The T-800 Endoskeleton Life-Size Bust is the perfect centerpiece for your T2 collection - don't miss your opportunity to order!

Link to Pre-order the Terminator 2 Bust

Friday, December 15, 2006

Best of 2006

My Best of 2006

A flickr! contact (letskyce) invited me to join a flickr! group called 'Pick Your Best 12 from 2006'. I think this is a great idea to use fd's Flickr Toys' Mosaic Maker to form a single image with your 12 best shots from 2006. I've created a flickr! set of my best pictures from 2006 and created a single mosaic of these pictures which is posted above and on flickr!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Rainbow Arch 'Filthy'

I was at this restaurant on the 8th April, didn't realise they shut the place down for a day a mere 3 weeks afterwards due to hygeine... afterwards it was shut for a week and now would seem to have been fined £18,000 for simply being 'filthy'.

I don't recall seeing mouse droppings on plates or dirty cutlery - mind I wasn't looking, I do recall receiving oranges after the meal as a pudding which I thought was different.

From the article:

We are grateful that the sheriff reflected the severity of the offence with the fine imposed.

Blimey! Not sure if I'll be heading back here in a hurry then!

Christmas Easter Egg

Flickr! has a cool 'Easter Egg' which allows you to draw a santa hat and beard as notes on any image on flickr! I've added a santa hat to one of my photos of Bruno and a photo of me (pictured).

All you need to do is add a note 'ho ho ho hat' for instant 'hatisfaction' or 'ho ho ho beard' for instant beardification!

Found this on BoingBoing

Monday, December 11, 2006

Palm Z22

My Palm Z22 crashed over the weekend never to return to life... The palm displayed a repeating pattern of coloured noise across the screen during usage, then again during a failed hotsync. My mac and palm were pretty much in sync so I don't think anything has been lost, but the Z22 never survived the second reset. There are 2 reset systems available - one a simple reboot and another is a complete refresh of the system, neither worked and the unit simply 'hangs' at the Palm Powered screen.

I purchased it in April at a Dixons Tax Free store and thought I'd take it along to one of the new stores. They were not particularly helpful, being totally obsessed with the charger - the Z22 charges over USB so you can use either a power charger or a USB lead but they really couldn't be bother to help (this was the Jamaica Street store in Glasgow). However, they did give me Palm's technical support number which I then called when I got home. Palm have agreed to fix it under warranty and I should get a repaired Z22 in the next 2 weeks.

If a bricks and mortar store really can't assist in after sales support with just a little more effort - why should I use them? There is now no difference between purchasing something at Amazon/Expansys and Currys/Comet other than price... That Treo 680 on Expansys is looking more and more appealing...

Friday, December 08, 2006

Just a Wii bit too slow...

I was reading about the New Nintendo Wii along with some action shots (numerous) on YouTube and I have to admit I started wanting this thing - it does look pretty sweet!

Then I discovered had an over supply and were selling them today between 3pm and 4pm. So on I went to Amazon's website and used the new automatic reload feature in Firefox to reload the page every 5 seconds. As fast as the 'add to shopping basket' button appeared I clicked - and waited, then waited a little more. Got through to the shopping basket to pay and then - 'Sorry, your item is no longer available, it has been saved in your shopping basket'. Arrggh!

Moral of the Story - Use 1-Click dammit! These things must have sold literally within a minute!

Oh well, impulse buying urge over. Saved me £179 too! Although that one on eBay for £200 is rather appealing :) must switch off, internet...

Friday Joke

Received this via a text message...

23 People have been found glued to the walls of a train station in Dublin. Police believe that Irish Muslims have set off the world's first 'No More Nails' bomb!

View this page for a more Christian version.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Weekend at Rowardennan

Champagne on Arrival
Originally uploaded by barry_williams.

Louise and I spent the last weekend (1st, 2nd and 3rd December) at the Rowardennan Hotel on the banks of Loch Lomond and foot of Ben Lomond. We were on an 'all inclusive' package to celebrate our first wedding anniversary together.

The hotel allowed us to take our dog Bruno at no additional cost and they were extremely accomodating for him! The food was lovely and so too was the champagne in our room on arrival and the open bar in the evenings!!

Despite the rain and wind (December in Scotland after all) the weekend was very enjoyable and we did do some short walks around the hotel including an hour up the West Highland Way and back again.

We both would highly recommend the Rowardennan Hotel, it is situated in a lovely area, the staff are very friendly and helpful, the food is lovely and the rooms are comfortable!

Thanks again to the staff at the hotel!

A flickr! set is available for a selection of the photos taken that weekend.

Loch Lomond Flickr! Set

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Use them while you can...

It looks like Russia has finally given in to the US and agreed to close down 'AllOfMP3' type websites. I'm not going to list any here, but if you use any, now would seem to be the time to use up any unused credit!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

UK Schools Bans WiFi Due To Health Concerns

(Via Slashdot)

I'm amazed at this, if you RTFA it basically talks about a "prestigious preparatory in Chichester, West Sussex" removing their WiFi network due to parental concern. In particular Vivienne Baron who's 10 year old grandson (Sebastian Baron) attends the school is demanded that the wireless network was removed and replaced with cabled system as the long term health concerns were unknown. I should hope that Vivienne hasn't used a mobile phone near Sebastian (lest he own one), nor god forbid, have a cordless phone system at home or (the horror) ever cooked a microwave meal.

To be fair - a school removed it's wireless network due to one of it's teachers (Michael Bevington) becoming ill:

I felt a steadily widening range of unpleasant effects whenever I was in the classroom,” he said. “First came a thick headache, then pains throughout the body, sudden flushes, pressure behind the eyes, sudden skin pains and burning sensations, along with bouts of nausea. Over the weekend, away from the classroom, I felt completely normal.

My wife is a teacher at a secondary school which doesn't have a wireless network and conversely her and her colleagues also usually feel somewhat more relaxed away from the classroom - they even have wireless networks at home!!

Link to the Times article
Link to the Slashdot posting

Friday, November 24, 2006

Amateur - Lasse Gjertsen

I found this YouTube video by accident through another blog advertising 'TinyTube'.

It is quite possibly the most creative video I have seen on YouTube. This guy claims not to play the drums, nor the piano - but he sure can edit a video! He has recorded himself hitting a couple of drums and pressing certain keys/chords on a piano and has timeline edited those clips to 'compose' or at least 'play' a particularly good piece of music.

Watch it!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Casino Royale (No Spoilers)

I had the pleasure in watching James Bond in Casino Royale last night at the Showcase Cinemas in Coatbridge. Interestingly I was able to buy the tickets at home - and print them which I thought was cool. This is the second movie I've watched in this cinema on opening night when it wasn't packed. The last was the Matrix (part 3) where Louise and I were 2 of about 5 in the entire theatre. For Casino Royale, the theatre was about 20% full. Annoyingly there was some idiot letting his kids run about riot - a couple of people told his kids to be quiet and sit down when the father started squaring up, eventually he (and kids) were removed by the staff. I think half the people watching the film were ready to lynch the guy if he hadn't been removed - ignorant moron.

Back to the movie; I was thoroughly impressed, definitely one of the best bond movies I can remember and I think Daniel Craig ranks right up there with the top two bonds (Connery and Brosnan) and I look forward to the next Daniel Craig bond film.

They've moved away somewhat from the gadgets and moved a lot more closely into the story which I thought was great. You can definitely see Bond transforming from a bit of a novice at the start into someone quite expert toward the end. I don't like to spoil anything so I won't reveal anything other than - yes it was Richard Branson appearing as a cameo.

Regardless if you're a bond fanatic or not - go and see it. Now!

Update - The Daily Telegraph has just been posted an article indicating Casino Royale has smashed box office records taking £1.7m yesterday!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

You know you snack too much when...

I've just received my Tesco Clubcard Vouchers and I have been given a coupon to receive 25 Extra Points when I buy - Doughnuts.

They've obviously realised that last quarters selection of vouchers for fresh fruit, vegetables and milk just didn't get used.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Remembrance Sunday

The Duke of York's School Dining Hall and Clocktower

It's wednesday now and I still haven't blogged about our weekend in Dover at my old school for the Remembrance Sunday parade, service and 'old boys' dinner.

Louise and I flew down on the Saturday and arrived at Heathrow in plenty of time to hire a car and I never realised how long it takes to drive from Heathrow to Dover (2 Hours). We arrived a little later than I expected, but with enough time to unpack the clothes for the dinner that night and get some water and snacks from the nearby Tescos. I was hoping to get to see the Rugby match, but alas we arrived hours to late for that...

We were staying in the same hotel as the old boys association dinner which was at the Ramada Hotel and quite conveniently located for the school. We were very impressed with the hotel, very clean, nice food and a free wireless network (which my Mylo couldn't connect to for some reason).

The dinner was being held in a marquee which sounded and looked quite ominous as it was outside, in November and the lights had just failed... After 15 minutes they got the lights working and everyone eventually found their seats! The marquee was surprisingly warm inside.

We were definitely the youngest at the old boys dinner, probably by about 15 years - but everyone made us feel extremely welcome and most were impressed we'd made the journey from Scotland for the weekend. Aubrey Sadler apparently had difficulty deciding which table to place us at since we were so young, in the end he placed on the headmasters table with a few other teachers whom I knew already and some members of the OBA. He couldn't have made a better choice and I thank him for that - all of us at the table exchanged stories all night! I was amazed at how the other members shared stories about people and things that were at the school even when I was there!! The headmaster became head of the school two years after I left and will be leaving the school shortly - it turns out he actually met his wife in Glasgow and worked at Glasgow Academy! The food was extremely nice and I would definitely go back again.

The OBA had put a band on for some dancing after the dinner which played well and we even got up for a couple of the songs!! After the dance, I had the opportunity of singing the school song 'Play up Dukies' which I had never heard before, the other old boys were stunned at this and helped me along with the song and I was given a copy of the lyrics to take away.

The last time I went for the Sunday parade was in 2002 when it was rained off, but the weather played in our favour and I joined the rest of the school along with other Old Boys for the first time since I left with Louise watching from the sidelines. We parade around the main square before marching to the war memorial for a short service to remember those soldiers who gave their lives fighting for their country.

The sunday service was well and I took great opportunity in singing the school hymn 'Sons of the Brave' which was very nearly banned in '94 when the girls started at the school.

After, I was able to walk around the school museum and some buildings showing Louise where I lived and studied during my time there, we then went for coffee where I yet again met up with the headmaster who wished us well for our journey. I also met up with my old housemaster who it turns out owns a house in El Chorro, Spain where Louise and I visited on a coach journey in October 2004. I mentioned our house in Olvera and he knew of the town as he'd driven past it from Jerez airport, he also informed me one of the School Commissioners also owns a house in Olvera!

We left the school a little later than we thought and were a little late in dropping off the hire car at Heathrow (no extra cost), but in plenty of time for our delayed flight back to Glasgow.

All in all, a good weekend!

Initial Zune Advertisement...

I don't think the linked to video from CNN is exactly what Microsoft had in mind for it's launch day media hype!

Basically the Zune is introduced discussed and immediately shot down when one of the anchors shows off her new iPod Shuffle.

Quite amusing to watch - you can almost feel the disappointment at Microsoft.

Zune on CNN Video

Friday, November 03, 2006

Flybe agrees to buy BA Connect

Whilst I'm not completely familiar with what is happening here - nor really too fussed (I like both Flybe and BA). I was impressed by how quickly the decision was apparently made... I received an email from BA indicating they proposed to sell the subsidiary to Flybe at 9.51 and then received an email from Flybe at 10.01 indicating Flybe had agreed to acquire it.

Fast decision making!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Microsoft sends a congratulation cake to Mozilla

I've just installed Firefox 2 (on my boot camp install - not yet on my mac) and I have to say it looks pretty cool. I like the improved tab support and the RSS integration - it now automatically subscribes RSS feeds to my bloglines account (similar to how IE 7 will). And on the IE note.... Microsoft apparently sent a cake to the Mozilla team in Mountain View, CA congratulating them on their release of Firefox 2!

This was originally found on a post from Boing Boing.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Something Going Cheap at the DVLA

This morning I had to visit the DVLA to obtain a temporary registration document for my vehicle; something I expected to be reasonably expensive to obtain. I called into the branch in Glasgow and quite unexpectedly walked straight to a desk(!) and then after explaining the situation to the person behind the counter proceeded to write out a temporary certificate, stamp it and charged me a mere £3.00!!! I'm amazed that the DVLA have an actual charge so low - I really was expecting £20 at the very least for this facility!!!

I think the person behind the counter found it quite funny! They joked I should take out a loan to cover the expense.

They even gave me a receipt, which I've posted here!!!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

640x480 Video on your iPod

When the new iPods were released (the 5.5G ones that is), I wasn't really too fussed about the increased brightness, the new 80gig version or the games - in fact I was more interested in the new software which allowed 640x480 videos to be played on the iPod. Turns out, the software update Apple provided does allow the earlier 5G iPods to play these higher resolution videos. Turns out if you put any 640x480 quicktime file in iTunes and then select 'convert for iPod', then the new video will be 640x480 - and playable on any 5G iPod... Whilst the screen is still only 320x240 - the video out to a TV is much better quality!!

On a mac, this is easy - just load any DivX movie in Quicktime, save as a .mov (doesn't transcode the video), import to iTunes and convert to iPod (does transcode video). Hopefully ffmpegx will support this soon - I believe VisualHub (iSquint's sister product) will export using the 'low complexity profile' required for the latest iPod software.

Friday, October 06, 2006

New Features in Leopard

Found this posting whilst browsing the web and found it quite interesting - he talks about the advertised features of Leopard which were unveiled a few weeks back, but he adds a couple of predictions one of which is spot on. He thinks one of the secret features was unveiled in the Keynote - Core Animation. He thinks it'll be at the core of most applications in Leopard to offer a 3D desktop - reminds me of the Java Desktop Sun wrote on Linux (Looking glass??). One of the items he talked about was flipping through your albums in itunes in a 3D interface - just like CoverFlow is now. Quicktime has some 3D elements in it as you can flick through the movies on the iTunes store in this way. Chris predicts it will be the backbone of the Finder being able to flick through your files and folders in a 3D way would be cool! Maybe Apple will recreate the Looking Glass feel by giving Expose a 3D element - flip through the open windows on your desktop...

An interesting read! I look forward to seeing what Mr J reveals in January! If Apple do release a 3D Finder and 3D Expose, then Vista will be just left behind; compared to Tiger, Vista is already looking quite dated!!!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Dr Stelios

Dr Stelios
Originally uploaded by indiekiduk.
Congratulations to Stelios - A long time friend from University who recently passed his PhD. Sorry I couldn't meet up for your drinks! I promise I'll make up for it! By the looks of it you had a great time!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Infinite Flickr (Take 2)

Originally uploaded by barry_williams.
My Previous entry was removed from the pool due to the entry beforehand being out of sync... So, take 2 is here and now I'm 358.

As before check out the !

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Infinite Flickr 359...

Infinite Flickr 359...
Originally uploaded by barry_williams.
I'm on 'Infinite Flickr' which is a really interesting idea for a flickr group where each used takes a photo of themselves in the same frame as two ore more previous entries in the flickr group. This creates a fantastic effect when viewed using the 'show' feature.

Check it out and use this link to view the slideshow!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Brought a smile to my face

I found this photo on Flickr! of christynewman's Boxer puppy Lilly who'd been left in too long. Thankfully my dog Bruno hasn't done anything like this, but the proud look of Lilly says it all - 'It wasn't me'.

I'd go nuts if Bruno had done this - but you need to find the funny side - glad christynewman took a photo because you can always look back and laugh at that side later...

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Wireless Woes

I've been having problems with my Netgear WG624T wireless router these last few months. The router has been 'randomly' dropping the entire wireless connection - perhaps both wire and cable were disappearing, but I'm not quite sure. Anyways, given lot's of advice from different people and forums I tried some experimenting - all of it failed. In particular, visiting the website would crash the router after three or four page loads.

Whilst I was in town, I thought I'd pop into Finnieston's branch of PC World to get some advice (since I bought the router from PC World). They said they couldn't see it being a problem with the router and actually suggested I run the router without a firewall to see if that helped.... The lady I spoke to (Rahana) agreed to exchange the router anyway so I went home and tried out my NTL cable connection without the router to see if 7DayShop would work, funnily enough it worked fine. So, 7DayShop works flakily with router and seemlessly without router...

I returned to PC World armed with my receipt and carefully packaged Netgear router, Rahana explained she'd spoken to her colleagues about the problem and none of them believed it could be the router but had "agreed to swap it anyway".

I purchased the router using the 'collect in-store' service so I bought it for £49.50. However the in store price today was £79.99, I couldn't decide to do a straight swap for the Netgear - keeping the possibility of flakey hardware, firmware or incompatibilities with my cable line, or going for the less expensive Linksys router (WRT64G). I decided to go for the less expensive model - but had to cough up an extra £10.49 because it's in-store price was £59.99. Annoyingly it's current web collect price is £35 but that doesn't matter...

When I got home, I installed the new Linksys router and it works - perfectly. Never mind, I'm happy I have a working wireless connection again!

Moral of the story - Never bet on the one without a Cisco sticker...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Apple Replacement Battery Program

My wife received her replacement battery yesterday! A mere 10 days after I entered the details on Apple's support website! So much for the 4 to 6 weeks!!!

The new battery is brand new (as noticed by the dulling of the iBook's white compared to the new battery) and is covered by a 90 day warranty as the iBook is now outside of it's warranty period.

The box included an addressed label to return the battery and a phone number to arrange collection.

I've scanned in the letter which accompanied and attached it below. Interestingly, Apple are making alternative shipping arrangements for those battery packs which have signs of overheating...

How painless can it be - Good Job Apple!

Apple's accompanying letter

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Simpsons vs Star Trek

I like this mash up between 'The Simpsons' theme tune and 'Star Trek' (TOS) theme tune. Very cleverly performed and the video is amusing to watch - the funnel guy is great!

Check it out on YouTube (Another Favorited Vid)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Continuing the theme of Air Travel...

Just read this article on the BBC about a drunk passenger on a flight from Dubai to Glasgow who was shouting and swearing onboard the flight and later claimed he was a terrorist - after he had landed at Glasgow.

As a result of this incident Sheriff Spy is quoted:
It seems to me that the question of alcohol in-flight is an issue which needs to be addressed in the current climate

This is utterly ridiculous, one man gets drunk and the other thousands of passengers who fly every day could lose their 'drinks privileges'. I quite enjoy a drink or two in flight and in fact my last flight our Steward mixed my wife and I up some Sangria because they didn't have any Spanish wine onboard!!

The government is already doing a pretty good job of making flying as mundane as possible - I no longer know if I'm even allowed my iPod onboard my easyjet flight in two weeks... now this jobsworth wants to make it worse!

Lidl and Air Berlin Team up (for a week)

Just read this article on the BBC News about Lidl selling low cost flights to Europe from Air Belin within it's stores! They'll be selling vouchers that cost £19 which can be exchanged for a £69 flight from Glasgow, Stansted, Manchester, Belfast and Bournemouth to many destinations in Europe!!

I don't agree with Dr Jonathan Reynolds (who is a director of the Oxford Institute of Retail Management and a Fellow in Retail Marketing at Templeton College, Oxford University):

It's a really positive development and makes low cost airline travel more accessible to budget-conscious consumers.

We shop at Lidl on a weekly basis, yet also afford to fly quite regularly, even saving BA miles as members of BA's Executive Club. I think it's about time people starting shedding their preconceptions of Lidl has a 'low cost' food store and realise how good the quality of their food is.

Ending my rant though. I think this is great! Not quite sure if we'll take advantage of it though as we're not planning for any holidays in the next 6 months.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Chipped Bins to 'Promote' Recycling

Just read an article on the BBC about Chipped Bins to promote recycling.
This article describes a new 'pay as you throw' system would charge residents by having an RFID chip in your bin and a set of scales on the bin lorry. Each resident would then be charged depending on how much household waste they throw out.

The article quotes Mr Bettison, chairman of the LGA's environment board:

Some people say 'what's in it for me?' Well, let's make it in their interest to recycle by helping them. In that way, we're encouraging them to recycle more

Sounds to me more like blackmail - if you don't recycle we'll just charge you... If they were offering a discount in council tax then I might agree, but rates are extortionate enough without an added 'tax' like this.

Just to put the United Kingdom into perspective, my holiday home in Spain has it's bins empty every day and I pay for the 'basura' separately to my rates, it's a staggering 62 euros a year. Why is it so much more to empty the bins once a week over here??

I can see locking bin lids being the next best seller at B&Q!

Friday, August 25, 2006

PIN Busting Part II

I refer to an earlier posting of mine where I tried out a technique to work out the PIN from a 'Hydalam' PIN mailer. These are the PIN advisory letters you get when you receive a new card from your bank. My credit card was subject to fraudulent activity so my wife and I both received new cards and a PIN reminder.

With a high resolution scan (9600 DPI) and 16 bit greyscale scan of the letter - it took me 5 minutes in photoshop to obtain my wife's full PIN without any tampering of the letter (I didn't try mine because the bank never changed the PINs so I'd know what it was). Unlike my last attempt where I got 2 numbers wrong - this time it was totally obvious what all four numbers were!

Suggest you change your PINs folks! Only if your letters been opened that is... Next time I might try through the envelope.....
Slo-Mo Home Depot

This is a really original video about a group of people who walk into a DIY store shopping in slow motion for 5 minutes, normal for 5 and then standing still for 5 minutes. It's incredible watching the other shoppers reactions - YouTube faved...

Apple Recalls Batteries

Originally read this on TUAW last night (Apple Recalls 1.1 million batteries). The TUAW story linked to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission's Press Release which listed the effected serial numbers. I found out my Wife's iBook's battery is one of those affected.

I couldn't get onto the support site last night, but first thing this morning I was able to. After adding the computer serial number and battery I was informed that both were elligible for a replacement battery - off to the next screen where I typed in my address details.

It should take about 4 to 6 weeks to get the replacement battery and once I do, I use the same packaging to send them the old battery using their pre-printed label!

I don't know what the Dell replacement battery experience is like - but certainly Apple's was as easy as it's software!! Mustn't leave good feedback tho' till it arrives - which is a while away at 4 to 6 weeks... I'll update when we get it!

Link to Apple's Battery Exchange Program

In relation to my previous blog entry - I'd better not take this iBook onboard a plane :)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Ryanair - Put the fun back into flying!

Ryanair have posted this image on their website exclaiming 'Put the fun back into flying!'

I find this quite amusing as it is true what Cory Doctorow says on his blog ( What would happen if a few terrorists jammed some explosives into their body cavities???

I am in full support of Ryanair's CEO Michael O'Leary threat to sue the government - it is utterly ridiculous that these measures have been put in place. They have removed a little more of our freedoms which is partially giving in to terrorism. To have John Reid MP on one side stating you cannot be dictated to by terrorists - yet on the other blatently giving in shows just how two faced a government can be!

Whilst I wouldn't normally post things like this on my blog - I'm fairly sure given the limited supplies you are now allowed on board someone could still cause some damage - think about what the water in the on-board toilet combined with the Li-Ion battery in your iPod/Camera/Phone can do...

Monday, August 21, 2006

Worlds greatest plugin

I discovered this plugin via TUAW. It scans all outgoing messages searching for common phrases referring to attached documents and flags up a reminder in the event you haven't attached anything. I'm quite adept at sending emails referring to attachments which either arrive a few seconds later in a separate email or worse after the recipient reminds me...

I'll certainly be installing this one!

Link to Attachment Scanner Plugin for

Link to TUAW article

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Plane collides with Fuel Tanker

Originally uploaded by thegeekguy.
At Tulsa, Oklahoma the ground crew managed to succesfully collide this plane with the fuel truck parked between the two planes. The planes left wing struck the tanker and the plane stopped where it was. This guy was watching and has posted all his photos on Flickr!

Looks to me like the fuel truck is in the wrong place as there isn't much room between the two planes, I don't know what the yellow line means between the plane and the truck - perhaps the plane was directed into a slot too small...

Monday, August 14, 2006


I've created a load of new photo sets (or albums) in Flickr! which now cover quite a lot of the photos I've taken over the last few years. The photos in the albums are a small subset of the total in Flickr! but allow you to navigate into the main images by using the tags or the date of the image taken.

I've added Louise and my recent trip to Spain fully tagged and added a complimenting album with the 'best of' photos.

All my sets can be found at the following URL.

Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Small Ads From The UK

Quite a funny posting I found on SnakeOil Lab's blog. Short descriptive and funny adverts found in the UK press have been displayed for all to enjoy.

Kinda reminds me of the Metro 'mail' section in Glasgow's free paper...

Link to article

Link to Snake Oil

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Scam the Scammer

This is quite a funny story between someone who was sent a '419' email (an email asking to help get funds out of Nigeria or similar).

He replied exclaiming he didn't have the time, but created a new story about how he could offer donations of between $25 and $100k based on quality of some artwork. The person replying used the name of 'Derek Trotter' and 'Rodney Trotter' in the scam.

He managed to scam a wooden carving of 'Trixie and Captain Cuddlepuss' from 'Creature Comforts' and a carving of a Commodore 64. Even managing to get the Nigerian scammer to pay the postage costs to get them here!

Very interesting read - I bet he enjoyed this!!

Found it originally on this Boing Boing article.
Link to actual site

Friday, June 23, 2006

Good News Everybody....

It would seem that Futurama might be resurrected for another 13 episodes on Comedy Central! This is brilliant news which I have been waiting for oh so long! I love Futurama and look forward to watching these new episodes.

I've been following the 'Can't Get Enough Futurama' blog for a while and they've been hinting at possible Futurama movie releases from Xmas 2007 which will be cool.

There isn't any press release on Comedy Central's website and 'Can't Get Enough Futurama' found out from a Reuters article. So this new is still rumour territory - but fingers crossed!

Frauded kids get to see England

I can't help but disagree with this. I am fairly sure that if I'd booked my tickets, flew out and discovered that I couldn't get to see a match, the most I would get back is the cost of the football match tickets. My travel insurance and credit card company would probably cover some of my costs.

I don't see why the government should step in with Fifa and BA to bail these kids out. I say let them experience the real world for once rather than strapping them into a pocket of improbability.

This would only be fair if the government decides to treat every person who has been frauded.

I can't help but think they wouldn't have done this if England hadn't gotten through. It wouldn't surprise me if they even get to meet the team and 'hang out with them' in Baden Baden.

Really the government doesn't give a rats ass about who goes to the football matches - this is all just some 'good PR'. The cameras will be all over the kids at the matches with the team and David Beckham and they'll have good fun, the best day of their lives, etc - and Tony Blair will reap the benefits of being a 'good guy'.

Absolutely pathetic.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

iPod Camera Connector with Memory Card Reader

I've been using Apple's iPod Camera Connector to transfer photos from my Canon EOS 300d camera and have been frustrated by the lack of speed of the transfer and the fact that a 1GB transfer kills the iPod battery before it's finished. I hoped that my memory card reader - a USB 2.0 generic memory card reader from Target in the States connects, but the iPod doesn't recognise any cards plugged in.

After much searching on the web, I found a list of compatible card readers cobbled together by a group of people trying readers out at random. Unfortunately it isn't clear how fast any of these devices are and this irritated me little as the best one I could find was a Belkin Card Reader (F5U249) on at £20. Even eBay was £20...

So I thought I'd just splash out and get one just to see if there was an improvement - even if it meant being able to use my camera whilst the images were downloading I thought it was worthwhile.

My first test was 108MB worth of images (71 photos) which I transferred from the Camera to the iPod using the Canon provided USB cable, the next test was using the same data on the same memory card, but this time from the Belkin memory card reader. Thankfully the Belkin was a clear winner in speed - saving seven minutes transfer time. The full times are below:

108MB (71 Photos)

  • From Camera - 12 mins 24 seconds

  • From Reader - 5 mins 24 seconds

Clearly the Belkin isn't operating at USB 2.0 speeds with the iPod, but most importantly, it's quicker.

Hope someone finds these stats quite useful as it would have definitely sold it for me if I'd known before.

Friday, June 16, 2006

TUAW on sharing iCal Calendars

All the methods mentioned by TUAW involve acquiring at least a GB or disk space from (albeit one of them free) an online supplier.

They didn't mention another (free) system which I use to share my calendar with my wife and her calendar with me. This is iCal Exchange. iCal Exchange is designed specifically for sharing calendars from iCal - I've used it now for 2 months and have found it very reliable and easy to use. You can even log in to your account on icalx and view your calendars using a web based calendar system, you cannot edit though as iCal doesn't support this.

iCal supports both public and private calendards - private calendars require a username and password to be supplied and I think you need to pay iCal Exchange some money for this service, but the public calendars are free.

Give it a try - it makes some sense if you don't want to use an online disk service like, jungle or .Mac - or hack your iCal with Scalp.

link to TUAW article
link to iCal Exchange

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Criss Angel And Half A Woman

This embedded video of a Blane like magician 'splits' a lady in two in some park. It is a bit spooky - No idea how he has done it...

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

My Old Student Residence...

It would seem that my old Student Halls of Residence (Maclay Halls) of Park Terrace in Glasgow is currently burning down...

I noticed a few months back the buildings were up for sale and the linked article from BBC News states that it is under renovation.

The following video clip is from YouTube:

Link to BBC News Article

BBC 'In Pictures' Photos

Flickr! Pictures

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Tony Blair to fly England Flag

Tony Blair has ordered the cross of St George to be flown above 10 Downing Street on England World Cup match days. I think this is wrong, Tony Blair is the prime minister of the United Kingdoms of Northern Ireland and Great Britain. Great Britain happening to be composed of Scotland, England and Wales in equal importance - and just for the record, TB was born in Edinburgh. I wouldn't expect, nor imagine, that the Prime Minister would fly a St Andrews cross if Scotland were playing, a Red Dragon for Wales - or God Forbid - The Red Hand of Ulster!

I think this is a severe error in Judgement as now I would expect a flag for each country to be flown for each of their match days - for example if Northern Ireland qualified in the next World Cup - what happens if Northern Ireland play England for example?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

My Wife's new Website

My wife's just created a brand new website from scratch using iWeb on her iBook. Louise has never created a website before and I am amazed at how straight forward she found it!

The website is all about Louise's favourite slabbery animal (not me) - the Boxer Dog! Louise has selected many of the best photographs of all of the Boxer's she has known and owned and placed them on the web for all to see!

Go check it out at!

Play music on iPod through on any (Windows) Computer

I've got an ipod with lot's of my music on it, but it is synced with Mac OS X on my iMac. The problem is... Unless I duplicate or sync my iTunes music library with my Boot Camp installation on Windows, I can't play the music on that iPod through the computer - I Don't want to add another set of speakers to my desk just for the iPod as my iMac has them built in. I tried using a cable to loop the iPod through the line-in, but that didn't work either...

After much searching I discovered a program called Pod Player from iPodSoft. This is a single Windows binary which is freeware and allows playback of all the music on your iPod - including protected AAC if you install iTunes and authorise the computer!! The winner (for me) is the ability to set star ratings and it updates play counts on your iPod so when you sync it back to iTunes it updates everything.

The program is a single binary so I could conceivably drop it on the iPod, so I whenever I mount the iPod I get the program - although, my iPod's HFS (mac formatted) so I'd need MediaFour's MacDrive installed on every computer to do this...

I have to admit the interface leaves something to be desired when compared with iTunes, but aesthetics aside, it does the job perfectly. It displays all the playlists on the iPod and the "browse" album, artist, genre system works super fast and in a similar way to iTunes. Once you've chosen playlist/album/artist/genre choices or ran a search (which is reasonably quick), the results are displayed in the song list. Unfortunately I'd prefer the song track number to be more visible - it's at the end of many columns of file sizes etc - and Pod Player doesn't retain customisations of this between loads. Besides that - it's now in regular use!!

Highly recommended!!

Link to iPodSoft's Pod Player

Monday, June 05, 2006

FIFA World Cup Clip

I'm not a fan of football at all. In all honesty I really can't see the attraction - but many people can't see the attraction in Formula 1 motor racing so I'm not one to judge. However it is amazing how rampant football fever can spread across the country. My parents-in-law have just arrived back from Bristol and were talking about how 30% of the cars have England flags draped across their cars - amazing stuff!

It also must make Lawyer companies a lot of money as one in particular has sent a pre-emptive cease and desist letter to one of my favourite blog sites, Boing Boing. The company (Baker & McKenzie LLP) has warned many sites including Boing Boing that they will be monitoring their websites to ensure that no FIFA World Clips get posted illegally - there is no chance of that happening as Boing Boing's post about the cease and desist letter states. In fact the editors at Boing Boing would rather stream a video clip of an unfolding napkin over a football clip. So, here we go then with the retort courtesy of youtube!!

FIFA World Cup Video Clip
Boing Boing exciting video post

Alternative Endings...

Not exactly cheery for a Monday morning, but none the less - The Daily Telegraph has an article today entitled "Alternative Endings" outlining the various ways you can be laid to rest. Quite interesting as I only thought burial and cremation were the only options - I think the swedish "freeze dried" method sounds quite interesting! Also quite concerning for cremation is the 16 percent of Britain's mercury emissions from dental fillings!!

Just thought I'd share...

Link to original article

Monday, May 29, 2006

Running iPhoto in Rosetta

I've just got my new iMac all set up just the way I like, except 1 thing... I use a plugin called iPhoto Keyword Assistant to tag all the photos I put into iPhoto. Unfortunately the maintainer still hasn't updated his plugin to a universal application so it will not run using the intel version of iPhoto. However I couldn't find a flag to tell iPhoto to open using Rosetta which would enable the plugin to run.

I found a fix courtesy of a number of searches on Google...

Open applications and select iPhoto, view the package contents and find the info.plist file, make a backup of this file on the desktop. You'll find an entry within this file as follows:


Delete this entry within the iPhoto package and save the file. Then go back to the applications folder and duplicate the iPhoto application. Call the duplicate 'iPhoto Rosetta' or something similar. Now if you 'get info' the 'iPhoto Rosetta' application and you should see the option to 'Open using Rosetta' check this and close the info box. Now open the original iPhoto application contents and copy the original info.plist file back into iPhoto.

You should now have two versions of iPhoto - one that runs in PowerPC mode and another running in native mode!

Photo Mosaic

I found this posting on the digital photography weblog of a fractal type animation which starts with a single photograph made up of hundreds of smaller photographs - you can zoom in on this ad infinitum as each of the smaller mosaics are also made up of the same batch of photographs.

Quite a neat post!

Link to digital photography blog posting
Link to photo mosaic

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Castle Guantanamo Bay (Wolfenstein)

Boing Boing has a post about a mod called Wolfengitmo for the original Wolfenstein which converts it into a Guantanamo Bay style arena. Instead of posters of Hitler and flags of the Nazi Swastika the prison is donned with flags of the United States of American and photos of George Dubya.

Not really playable as each player is bound from the start (so no punching) and no weapons - all you can do is run about collecting crosses and medpacks whilst being shot at from US Marines and mauled by guard dogs...

The original article has some of the screenshots and I like the touch of the health meter down the bottom having a bag over his head!!

Link to original article

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

64007 Wine Suggestion

Hardys are providing a text service in the UK to suggest types of wine with foods. Apparently only 1 in 10 people in the UK are confident suggesting a wine with their meal.

If you send the name of the meal such as "Red Thai Chicken Curry", hardys text system will automatically reply and suggest a suitable wine, it looks for keywords in your meal and rates them accordingly, for example chicken and chicken curry will have different wines and rates curry more important than chicken.

I've got a few wine books and I know for certain "Donner Kebab" is not in their combination examples, so I tried it as a test and received a suggestion of "Hardys VR Sauvignon Blanc" (and a request to drink responsibly). Quite impressive, although, I'm not intending to eat a kebab tonight with a nice bottle of white!!

You need to send your date of birth after your meal as this is to avoid people under the age of 18 using the service.

The number to text to is 64007.

Kennedy Space Centre

After arriving in Orlando on Sunday night I had an opportunity to spend Monday doing anything I liked around the area. So I opted to visit the Kennedy Space Centre. I went for the "Maximum Access" pass which allowed me on a bus tour which went much closer than the normal space centre tours. We were driven right up to the fence of the two LC39 launchpads, view the Shuttle landing runway and were allowed to walk about at the foot of the massive NASA Vehicle Assembly Building. The pass was valid for two days and also allowed access to the Astronaut museum just outside the KSC Visitor Centre.

Two days is a must, I could only visit for the Monday and missed many of the exhibits they had including the IMAX movies, the rocket garden tour and some of the other exhibits at the visitor centre. I also was unable to visit the Astronaut museum.

However, as the Flickr! set I've created shows - there was plenty to see in just one day! I thoroughly enjoyed myself on this trip and next time I'm in Florida with my wife we'll be going for two days!

Link to Kennedy Space Centre Flickr! Set


I've just finished tagging and uploading the photos I took on my recent trip to Florida. This time I went via Iceland so I can add a new country to my visited countries list. The company I flew with was Icelandair which is quite a nice airline, but they offer something very cool (well actually quite warm) for those flying from Glasgow on their way to the US.

The normal stopover from Glasgow to the US is about 4.5 hours in Keflavik airport, so they give those passengers the option of a free tour to either the Blue Lagoon (a nearby geothermal spa) or a whale watching tour if travelling during the summer. I didn't know what to expect at the Blue Lagoon, but it was amazing. I never took a dip as I hadn't packed a swimming costume (it was a business trip after all), but I did wander around the pool which was an awesome blue colour. Even more so that the sky and the pool actually looked tropical! If you look at the photos it's hard to believe that in the 1 hour I was there, it rained, hailed and blew gale force winds all at a temperature barely above zero!!

Link to the Blue Lagoon Flickr! Set

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Fastest Electric Car

Keeping with the Global Warming theme for today... Engadget has a post about the Writespeed X1 which is the worlds fastest electric car. It beats many of it's petrol counterparts including a Ferrari 360 Spyder and Porsche Carrera GT in a 0-60 drag race. It costs about $100,000 (£60,000) which isn't too bad relative to the Ferrari's £60k to £100k price tag.

Google Maps Hack to Show Sea Level Rises

Originally found this link on a posting on BoingBoing. It is an interactive map which shows you how what your countryside could look like with a selection of sea level rises from 1m to 14m. The image here shows central Glasgow with a sea level rise of 14m - it would seem I'm safe!

Neat site to have a look at!

Link to Glasgow at 14m depth

Monday, May 08, 2006

£1m Chip and PIN fraud discovered

As expected and predicted before the introduction of Chip and Pin, customers would be lulled into a false sense of security and be quite happy punching in their PIN number anywhere when requested. This is just what happened at Shell stations throughout the country!

Criminals posing as technicians are thought to have hidden devices that captured bank details and personal identification numbers (pins) in till terminals.

The customer hands over their card and it is swiped to obtain a copy of the magnetic data and then the customer is requested to enter their PIN. Once a new card has been created it may be used at any cash machine in the country - this should enable the criminals to obtain perhaps £500 a day from each card!

Cash machines can read either the Chip or the magnetic strip, but since many cards - mainly overseas cards - do not have a chip, they must be able to 'fall back' onto reading the strip.

My advice, only enter your PIN when your card has been inserted into a Chip reader, not when swiped by the cashier - or taken out of view.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

GPL 'Rip Off'

The linked discussion talks about a program for PalmOS which is GPLed (GNU General Public Licence) called PalmPDF. This is a modified version of XPDF and allows viewing of PDF files on Palm devices without Adobe's free client or Documents-to-Go.

The software is provided (for free) in source and binary forms on the author's homepage, however, recently someone based in Hong Kong has listed the program on Handango for $50. The author is quite miffed that someone else is benefitting financially, but according to the GPL - this is entirely allowed. In fact it would seem the GPL actively encourages this!! Many of the comments have suggested the author should have used a different licence and I agree.

The purpose of the GPL is free as in speech, not as in beer. The author could always sell it themselves but has chosen not to. Therefore someone (or many others) could choose to do so.

Link to the Free as in beer/speech version
Link to the Free as in speech version

Of course, the reseller (behind) Handango must provide the sourcecode on request and a licence with each sell to ensure they are above board with the GPL...

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Online Instant Play Games

I've just found out that some of the instant play games on the National Lottery's website which allow a choice to be made, don't in fact allow that choice. These games are a complete illusion and it does not matter in which order you choose to do things, the National Lottery's computer has already decided whether your ticket will win or not and what order numbers will appear in, regardless of your choice.

I discovered this by playing "Su-dosh-ku" and quitting the game before clicking "continue" at the end as I had realised I couldn't win anything. When I logged back in I could play the game again, thinking that this time I could play a different series of buttons so I could possibly win. I noticed that no matter how many times I played the game and no matter what buttons I played, the numbers were ALWAYS in the same order - 3,7,5,2,6,8. On the first attempt every button is a 3, second attempt every button is a 7 and so on.

Just in case you decide to play one of these "choice" games, it doesn't matter what choices you make, your fate has already been decided!!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Fun Lidl Game

Jumping Rabbit is a fun online flash game from Lidl's website - discovered by my wife, it is somewhat addictive...

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Chip and PIN, What a saving....

Computing is reporting that UK Banks have saved £60m in the last year due to the introduction of Chip and PIN. I've heard reports that UK fraud is approximately £500m per year and it will cost approximately £1bn to introduce the technology. Therefore my calculations suggest it should take about 15 years to recoup the cost of introducing Chip and PIN. To be fair, the actual saving should be slightly more since Chip and PIN was only made mandatory from 14th February, but with online and CNP (Cardholder Not Present) fraud increasing 21 percent from £151m to £183m during the same period it seems unlikely the costs will be recouped within a decade!

I'm fairly sure fraudsters will think of something weird and wonderfully new to take our money during this period of time, so my question is - is it worth it?

Personally I don't like the idea of typing my private number in front of the person hurriedly pushing his way to the front of the checkouts at Morrisons. So I don't think it was worth it!

Slashdot's Gone Pink

Clearly the editors at Slashdot have been overwhelmed by the "cuteness" of the images at Cute Overload... All of their stories are using a pink stylesheet and have OMG Ponies in the header...

Cute overload have responded to the /. effect by posting a "cute" picture of the Slashdot readers taken at an IBM stand - which to be fair is nothing in comparison to the small Pony posting shortly after!!!


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Partial Eclipse of Sun

Partial Eclipse of Sun
Originally uploaded by barry_williams.
Just read that there is a partial eclipse currently in progress viewable from the UK.

Armed with my Tripod, 300mm lens and SLR I sat on the pavement outside the house with a piece of paper to get the direction correct. The focus was set to infinity and I took about 15 pictures. This was definitely the best. The images taken at 1/4000 had a lot of lens flare, but this one at 1/1000 with 2 CDs in front of the lens to restrict the light seemed to work great!

The moon is due to pass in front of the sun from 10.45am to 12.25pm, covering nearly a fifth at its peak.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Found in Kelvingrove Park

Originally uploaded by Nickynoo.
It would seem that some of the people who were trapped in 'The Garage' attempted to make their way home too early...

It's snowing in Baillieston - Big Time!

Originally uploaded by barry_williams.
It's been snowing in Baillieston from about 1am now and as of this post is still doing so. Our boxer dog was quite amusing in the snow - wanting to play and roll in it...

It's about 5 inches deep everywhere with drifts of up to 2 feet!!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Friday Joke

Courtesy of

A couple, desperate to conceive a child, went to their priest and asked him to pray for them. "I'm going on a sabbatical to Rome," he replied, "and while I'm there, I'll light a candle for you."
When the priest returned three years later, he went to the couple's house and found the wife pregnant, busily attending to two sets of twins. Elated, the priest asked her where her husband was so that he could congratulate him.
"He's gone to Rome, to blow that candle out" came the hurried reply.

taH [a] tlhIngan

The title is Klingon for "Be a Klingon!". This (linked) BoingBoing posting links to a wired article about subdermal implants! These weird creations are only implanted by Tattoo artists whom cannot obtain Anesthetic so idiots electing for this treatment have to simply bear the pain... The surgical implement of choice for these Tattoo artists? A butter knife...

An uneasy Dr. Phil Haeck is quoted:
When an implant goes bad, it can require surgical correction, skin grafts, and still leave permanent disfigurement. If an implant site becomes infected, the tissue over the implant can die. "If it isn't done a perfectly sterile environment, the infection can be a disaster,"

This is ritualistic scarification in a different form. I can't imagine (a doctor) wanting to become involved in this area. This is a deviation in surgery that has no place for someone that has taken the Hippocratic Oath and wants to serve mankind.

So, if you want to become a Klingon and die with honour, go to America and get a subdermal implant from any good Tattoo shop!!!

To be fair, the Tattoo artist in the article "Emilo" has had formal training for this type of procedure. But this would seem to be the exception!

Read the original Wired article
Link to the BoingBoing post

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Visit to Yen's Teppanyaki Restaurant

Yen Teppanyaki - 24
Originally uploaded by barry_williams.
Over the weekend I went along to Yen at the North Rotunda in Glasgow. It was the same place I held my Stag party, but this time we went to the Teppenyaki restaurant downstairs. You are treated to an eight course meal which was very tasty and quite filling! You can choose two of the main courses - I opted for King Prawns and the Chicken, but there are quite a few different choices available on their menu, they'll let you choose your own combinations if you'd prefer.

The chef puts on a great show which was great fun to watch and he also let me know when he was going to do anything spectacular before hand so I could get my camera ready which was good of him!!

I've put my still photos online on Flickr! I've yet to work out where I can put the videos I also created...

Thoroughly enjoyable experience - I'd recommend this place!

Stuck in the middle with you...

Very interesting opinion article in today's Daily Telegraph

I had to pay £13 today for a prescription. Just after, I heard how one of my father-in-laws work colleagues (who is fully employed) was complaining about the fact he only gets two free sets of glasses a year from the NHS because of his benefits.

The article written by Alice Thomson was on today's Daily Telegraph Podcast and is a good read - so long as you're not rich or on benefits...

But those in the middle have to think before they procreate. How can they afford to have a second child, pay off the mortgage and save up for their pensions unless both parents work? Even if they manage to pay for the childcare and the ballet lessons, they will have to help with the university tuition fees (now £3,000 a year).

Link to the original Daily Telegraph Article.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Traffic Warden Tickets Neighbour.

This has to be one of the funniest stories I've heard. Basically a traffic warden kept giving his neighbour a parking fine, because his neighbour hadn't moved his car after the morning restrictions. On one occasion Mr Dove placed a ticket on Mr Parry's car at 8.31 - only 1 minute after the 8.30 restriction, presumably Mr Dove was "on his way" to work...

Mr Dove has been a pain in the backside. I would say he has given me more than 10 tickets. I got one just a minute into the restriction period.

Here is the link to the full article in the Daily Telegraph.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Friday Joke

Courtesy of

Three kids come down to the kitchen and sit around the breakfast table. The mother asks the oldest boy what he’d like to eat. "I’ll have some fuckin’ French toast," he says. The mother is outraged at his language, hits him, and sends him upstairs. She asks the middle child what he wants. "Well, I guess that leaves more fuckin’ French toast for me," he says. She is livid, smacks him, and sends him away. Finally she asks the youngest son what he wants for breakfast. "I don’t know," he says meekly, "but I definitely don’t want the fuckin’ French toast."

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

PIN Busting

This paper by Mike Bond Steven J. Murdoch and Jolyon Clulow from the Computer Laboratory at the University of Cambridge, was published a while back and even made it to the BBC News site. Steven was on my course at Glasgow.

Since I recently received one of the PIN letters using Hydalam's technology, I thought I'd have a go using Photoshop CS2. I scanned in the PIN section using my flat bed scanner at 2400dpi and 48 bit colour and saved as a TIFF, loaded in Photoshop and followed their instructions reasonably closely. The threshold I found was the most important function, Gaussian blur helped to make it more readable and a tweak of the levels producing quite amazing results. Whilst I didn't get the whole PIN I got 2 of the numbers correct, 1 was a similar glyph and the last was plain wrong.

I'm sure a few more attempts with the scanner and Photoshop and I would have probably got the whole number.

Interesting experiment and quite surprising that this was possible using a 50 pound scanner! bookmarks via spotlight!

Here's a posting from the download squad which allows you to search your bookmarks through spotlight. It seems quite integrated as a search for "palm" on my computer now reveals 46 entries under Bookmarks! Very simple to use and logs in when you boot up your mac. Combined with the firefox plugin and this spotlight plugin I no longer need to visit again (unless I'm on my XP machine).

I found this article originally from the TUAW here
The Download Squad article is here
And "delimport" is here

Anagram Underground Maps

Since the London Underground Map names were all made into anagrams a few weeks back, many more underground and train maps from around the world of been altered. It's Glasgow's turn now - I found it on Boing Boing and the image is below:

I particularly like Partick's Crap Kit!!


Friday, February 24, 2006

Friday Joke

I heard this joke courtesy of my father-in-law:

A top surgeon was braggin' in the pub about how he'd saved the hands of one of his patients that day. They'd lost all their fingers in an accident and they have now fully recovered as a concert pianist.

Well, that's not as good as my patient - he lost both his legs in an accident and now, after being reattached, he's a hundred meter medalist!!!

The third guy looks at the both of them and says they're nothing in comparison to what he'd done. A man was riding his horse down the railway tracks and a train, coming in the opposite direction, hit him leaving only the horses arse and a cowboy hat as the remains. The doctor proudly announces - he's now President of the United States!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

New RSS Feeds

I've got new RSS feeds for this site which now run through feedburner. Please resubscribe using either the big button on the front page in the "My Blog" section, or the following link:

Pirated DVD Advert

I purchased a DVD last night at Costco (Ocean's Twelve), not seen it yet and it was only £5 so I thought that was quite good!

The first thing that fell out after opening was the above leaflet telling me (below) not to purchase a pirated DVD... Before the movie starts I was also subjected to a five minute advert on why pirating is bad placing it on a par with stealing a car! I couldn't skip forward or back during the advert so I had to watch it...

I think a better tactic would be a thankyou note showering me in thanks for purchasing the DVD after the release date and not pirating it off the 'net. Not one forcing me to bin a paper advert, write a blog post and waste 5 minutes of my time.

It all just makes me want to buy another...

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Lost and Found Camera...

A lady on holiday in the US recently lost her Camera in Hawaii and reported it to the local Park Ranger. After returning home the Park Ranger called giving her the name and number of somebody who claims to have found her camera!

She called the number and identified the camera down to spare batteries, case and memory cards. However the person at the other end decided not to return the camera!! Apparently their nine year old son likes the camera so much they don't want to take it from him... "he was recently diagnosed with diabetes, and he's now convinced he has bad luck" so they don't want to give him more bad luck by taking the camera from him! To add salt to the wound they "had to spend a lot of money to get a charger and a memory card"!!

As far as I remember diabetes is far from a fatal disease, but a mere condition which people can quite happily live with for the whole of their lives - I don't see how teaching your kid that stealing is good and "finders keepers" balances this out.

The linked blog has all sorts of comments about whether she should name and shame the thieving couple.

It would seem the police won't do much in this case because it is between the US and Canada, so I think media attention and blog attention will be far more useful. I wouldn't post a name, but I would post a town the thieves live in, describe the camera in detail and contact their local press - get them to run a story on it.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Igor Pasternak has thought of a new type of cruise airliner which is essentially a dirigible which takes off and lands vertically, but contain all the facilities a traditional cruise sealiner would have.

It reminds me of Joe Haldeman's "The Forever War" where nuclear powered dirigibles constantly circle the earth with the general public embarking and disembarking the vessels as they wish.

Igor is hoping to get his Aeroscraft up in the air by 2010!


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Blair Rejects a Tax!!

Tony Blair's Taxathon would seem to have come to an end (at least for today anyway). He has rejected an additional tax "to put tax on" air travel to cut pollution. Presumably Tony Blair hasn't bought a ticket recently as my last flight cost more in tax than in travel...

According to the Daily Telegraph article, Tony Blair stated:

It would take a "fairly hefty whack" for people to cut back on flights, adding that it would be hard to sell such a move.


Thursday, February 02, 2006

An interesting read...

Particularly given the current situation in Gaza - and the their most interesting cartoon of the month:

Akhbar al-Khalij, January 29, 2006 (Bahrain)
As the Islamic world reacted with anger to caricatures of Muhammad in a Danish newspaper, this cartoon claimed the controversy was a result of “The Penetration of Zionism to Denmark.” The cheese, shaped like a Star of David, is labeled “Danish products.” The text on the far left reads, “Boycott it!”

Some links to related articles are below:

O Mohammed, Where Are Thou (Humour)?
Support Denmark
Free Speech
Depictions of Mohammed Throughout History

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Celebrity Big Brother

For those that haven't watch "Celebrity" Big Brother (like me) the last two contestants were Michael Barrymore and Chantelle(?). Chantelle won, but anyways on with the post - I found this posting [] quite funny!!