I saw this on Hugo’s blog, and thought I should have a look. The list is not repeated here, as I am one of those people causing the average to be down at six. Only one book on that list was read out of choice, and that was Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy. The other few were required reading at school.

There exists in me no inclination to read the others. If I am going to sit down and read, which does happen, then it will have to be something that educates me, not just entertaining, to make the effort worthwhile.

I am on Star Trek!

Well not me, but something that I worked on has appeared on Star Trek Enterprise. Last night, watching season 2 episode 9, “singularity”, there is a scene in the galley. In the background is the unmistakable shape of a Kenwood Major.

I few years ago, Kenwood was my employer. One of the last things I was working on before leaving them was a new control knob for the Kenwood Chef and Major range of food mixers. It was only a brief shot in the TV show, and even pausing and looking carefully, it is not all that clear, but I am certain that the control knob on the mixer used on the show is the same one I was working on.

Admittedly, it would have been much cooler to have some association with a warp core or photon torpedo. But how many of you can watch an episode of Star Trek and say, “I worked on that!”

Now where is my Klingon phrase book, I am off to a convention… 🙂

Should we drive on the right?

As I live in the UK, I am used to driving on the left. For a long time, I considered anybody who thought that was not a good idea to be silly. However, I may have changed my mind.

I little while ago, I travelled to France, and I hired a car for the week. I was a little worried that I would struggle to get used to driving on the other side of the road. Junctions such as roundabouts and cross roads did require a little thought to make sure I understood who has priority. Within a very short period, it felt very natural.

Initially, I assumed that I adapted because I am obviously very clever. 🙂 When I returned to the UK, I received a bit of a rude awakening. I found it much harder to get used to driving on the left again than I did to driving on the right. That was a shock to me, and first made me think that driving on the right is possibly more natural for a right handed person.

More recently, I have been riding my bicycle a lot more. Now, as we are in the UK, when I approach another bicycle on a cycle path, I will always stay to the left hand side, as for roads as it is good to be consistent. What surprises me is that so many other cyclists will automatically try and sty to the right. Why? With no defined law on an un-marked cycle way, people make up there own judgement, and it seems to me that most would want to stick to the right.

Which is best? Driving on the left or the right? Should the UK switch? Would it even be possible to switch?

When will we go metric?

A conversation at work reminded me of reading a report from a commons select comity of 1862. The best bit reads:-

For measures of capacity, we have 20 different bushels: we can scarcely tell what the hogshead means. For ale it is 54 gallons, for wine 63. Pipes of wine vary in many ways; each sort of wine seems to claim the privilege of a different sort of pipe. For measures of weight, we have about 10 different stones; a stone of wool at Darlington is 18 lbs.; a stone of flax at Downpatrick is 24 lbs.; a stone of flax at Belfast is only 16 3/4 lbs.; but it is also at Belfast 24 1/2 lbs., having in one place two values. The hundredweight may mean 100 lbs., 112 lbs., or 120 lbs. If you buy an ounce or pound of anything, you must inquire if it belongs to Dutch, troy, or avoirdupois weight.

I am glad that we have moved on from that situation, but why people still resist the move to a full metric system, I don’t know.

Apple: the good, the bad and the ugly.

My son has an 5th generation iPod. The other day he came in a little annoyed as the headphone socket had broken. When he checked the receipt, it was about five days past the twelve month warranty period. I suggested that he should go to the Apple store and see what they could do for him.

I went along for support, and to have a play with the latest toys. The good thing is that I do like the apply gear from an aesthetic point of view. They give a good impression of being well engineered products. The new metal cases are really cool. A quick play with the new iPod touch was fun. The interface worked well, and as a portable web browser, it was quite neat. That was all good.

For those who have not entered into an Apple store, and this was only my second time, it is not arranged like a conventional shop. The majority of the space is for product display, with lots of units setup and working to play with. At the back of the store is the rather cheesy named ‘Genius Bar’, where tech support can be had. To make a purchase, it would seem that you can talk to one of the assistants wearing a portable till in a holster. All very ‘Open Plan’.

When we got there, it was a bit busy. We spoke to one of the assistants, who then logged onto one of the demo computers, and made an appointment at the Genius Bar. Twenty minutes later, we were talking to one of the in store Genius’. He scanned the bar code from the original box and confirmed that it was now ten days since the warranty had run out. I was just about to get ready to start having a moan, when he added that as a general rule, if it is within fourteen days of the warranty running out, they will honor it. Result. That was good!

So far, from this experience, I should want to get some apple gear. But I can’t, for a number of reasons. I have often thought that I would like an iPod, but as I use Linux, there is no official support from Apple for this operating system. Until recently, it may have not been such a problem, as third party developers have provided a solution. Now with the latest range of products, it appears that Apple made a deliberate effort to raise the bar for these third part tools.

I know that one of the great features with Apple gear that it all just works together. For those that want the full Apple experience, this is great. Plug your iPod, iPhone or whatever into your Mac, and off you go. But for me, I don’t want Mac, nor do I want to run Windows. Therefore, I will only ever have a second rate experience with any Apple music player or other device. Having to rely on third part support is not good, it is bad, maybe even ugly.

April what?

Every year April 1st comes along. I take no notice and start reading Slashdot. Invariably I read a number of posts without even raising an eyebrow. I will even click on a few links to read the attached articles. Eventually the penny drops that what I am reading is a little too unusual, and then I realize that it is a hoax.

At this point I then have to go back and re-read all the posts so that I can check that they are all hoaxes. I have to do this to make sure that I don’t quote the story thinking that there was some truth in it. I was almost caught out this year by the Gmail Paper story. I only read the slashdot summary, and believed it. Although I did think, I bet it will only be available in the states.

Once I realized the date, I went back and read the actual story.

I like this type of humor.

Blogg Comment Spam – Be Gone!

Comment spam is a pain. When I first set up this blogg, I was really excited to see that I was getting some comments. Then I realised that it was all spam. Grrr!

There appears a number of methods of combating this. A captcha seems to be a fairly successful method, but does make creating a comment a bit harder, even if by not much. Another option is to add some java script that is not likely to be interpreted by the bots used by the spammers. This does mean that anybody adding a comment needs to use a java script enabled browser, but the user does not have to do anything more.

The solution that I have opted for is the latter. I will leave it to run for a little while, and see how it goes. Now all I need to do is add some content to this blogg that encourages people to actually submit a comment. Maybe I should just mention the Debian Mozilla debacle 🙂


While chatting to my brother, I decided to have a google for my screen name, stuphi. Google’s very helpfull spell check gave me this very helpfull sugestion:-