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Tech stuff

We’re not jamming wifi for money – honest guv…


Marriott International and the American Hotel and Lodging Association are asking the F.C.C. to give hotels the green light to remotely disable the Wi-Fi devices that some travelers use to connect their laptops and tablet computers to the Internet through cellular services from companies like Verizon. This would force guests to buy the wireless Internet service provided by hotels.

In its petition, the hotel industry asks the commission to create an exception to rules that prohibit anyone from “willful or malicious interference” with wireless communications that are “licensed or authorized” by the government. The industry asserts that because Wi-Fi signals use unlicensed frequencies, they do not deserve the same protection as licensed services like cellphone networks. That is an absurd argument, since the government has authorized unlicensed Wi-Fi devices and networks. Other countries, like Britain, prohibit “deliberate interference” of wireless communications.

Brazen Attempts by Hotels to Block Wi-Fi

Yes, sure – I quite understand. The hotels are losing their profit margins because “tired and emotional” guests staying at their top hotel chains for conferences and business meetings are bypassing “Debby does Dallas episode 26″ – reasonably priced at $9.99 per shot (so to speak), in favour of finding unrestricted flavours of pornography over the wi-fi link.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are any number of ways that Marriot and others could have avoided this problem, such as installation of a “net nanny” software to block guests from accessing porn within their hotels, but while that would have been easily justified under the usual cry of “will somebody please think of the children”, it probably wouldn’t pass muster with those very adult executives, thus this rather draconian approach of attempting to block all WI-FI signals and then flogging ‘protected’ access at extortionate rates.

As someone who has lived in European and American hotels for months-on-end, this whole matter of charging for wifi has pissed me off time and again, to the point where during my 2008-2012 stay in a major hotel chain in Germany I basically said unless they provided a bundled wifi rate I would take my business elsewhere – despite it being “utterly impossible”, the sight of a guaranteed €3,000 per month about to walk out of the door soon changed their minds.

I Say It’s Spinach

So this is dedicated to Nick (and the first part of it is meant in the spirit of friendly teasing; no serious criticism intended). It was brought on by his response to the discussion on “Bibi to Obama,” but somehow it got so long and was so far O/T that I thought I really shouldn’t entirely derail that discussion. Hence the new posting. It happened like this….

Nick ended his passionate defense of the Israelis’ contributions to the Global Good by referring to their improvements in computer technology thus:

August 4, 2014 at 8:05 pm

Write a program once and… I have more computing power on my lap in this Lenovo S440 Thinkpad than probably existed in 1960 on the planet. The CPU was designed in Israel.

Never one to keep to the subject, I interjected the question,

Nick, one can actually program that sucker?

meaning the Lenovo Thinkpad, that is.

Nick responded to that:

August 5, 2014 at 8:12 pm

You don’t program a computer, you program a language. I know BASIC (I love BASIC – it’s great for five minute calculations and “sketching ideas”), Pascal, Fortran(!!!) and a few scripting type stuff like Javascript. And of course HTML and CSS but that’s not quite the same thing. I’m quite good in a limited sense – basically mathematics is my thing. I’ve been considering learning to write Android apps. I never could hack Machine Code and whilst I can write basic C, C++ defeated me. I just didn’t get the object-orientated paradigm. Part of the problem with learning C (and it’s descendants such as C++ and C# is the flexibility of syntax which means other folks programs can be unbelievably cryptic).

I adored that response, because I too am a HUGE fan of Fortran. Besides, it offered me an opportunity to issue a correction, a hobby of mine which, surprisingly, some people seem to find tiresome. Ah well, their loss…. :)

So I commenced, and the thing grew, and, well, here we are. Or here I am anyway. You, dear reader, may have gone on to washing your hair, or cleaning the groove in the patio door….

* * *
Nonsense, Mr. Mc[I-forget-the-rest] *g*. You program a computer IN a language. You USE a language to program a computer (in any given particular case). More correctly still, you write a program FOR (or to be RUN ON) a computer IN a language. I trust this clarifies the matter. *haughty sniff*

By the way, one does not write “machine code.” At least, not unless you mean writing in actual hex, or octal, or, to really get right down to it, binary. And it is insulting and fake elitism to talk about “writing code*” or saying something gaggingly sophomoric like “do they ship code on time.” Yes, I’m looking at you, Eric Raymond.

*Toward the end of my “career,” there developed a custom where System Engineers designed the layout of programs, including writing the specs; these were handed off to the “programmers,” who (I guess) drew up flow-charts and indicated where blocks of instructions (i.e. “code,” f’rgod’ssakes) would go, and passed those on to mere “coders,” who wrote out the actual instructions comprising the program. Division of labor, don’tcha see.

The upshot of that was that real programmers, now called “coders,” got a bad name as being the less-than-bright grunts of the data-processing hierarchy. I hope this dreadful faux-efficiency-system dropped dead long ago. Complete modularity in creative endeavors does not work.

But as to the main point. Basic rocks. No it is NOT a “toy”; it comes within hailing distance of Fortran. And Fortran IV-G or IV-H, awesome !!! is the only high-level language worth using professionally. Ahem. At the lower level, Assembler (for the S/360-370) and its cousins in the Assembly Language level, Autocoder for the 1401 and 7070 series, Map for the 7090-7094, so forth are the best of the best.

I LOVED Fortran and Assembly Languages, specifically Fortran IV and Assembler. You could get at the machine! You could tell it step by step exactly what to do, you could make it change its instructions, you could tell it to stop using valuable space for instructions and stick some data in there instead, and vice-versa. You could probably have told it to unplug itself, and then plug itself back in!

You sure couldn’t do that with COBOL. COBOL was for people who couldn’t be trusted to go messing about with the machine’s insides. Such things as “peek” and “poke,” even, could not be allowed to Business Types who probaby needed help tying their shoelaces.

I used to try to write COBOL in Fortran, just because of the whole logorrhea business. Thankfully I subsequently worked for an outfit that actually had programmers. Assembler, YUM.

Nick, do not feel like the Lone Ranger. I have messed about a bit with C and follow-ons, and as far as I can tell, the object of so-called OOP languages is to complify, complify, complify. The syntax would seem to defy any vaguely-human logic. Ostensibly these languages were developed so that any fool could read and understand at once any other fool’s program. Tchah! In any case, I was trying to correct an information deficit, as is my Nature, but not trying to put biscuits on the table, so lacking that incentive, in the end I treated the Book as the Koran was not treated by the boorish wardens at Guantánamo, and never looked back. :>))

. . .

Really, there’s nothing mysterious about the basic idea. In assembly languages and the next level of languages, Fortran, COBOL, whatever else qualifies, you have “routines,” which — and this is all as it was denominated in my day, back before the Silurian Epoch — meant the entirety of a program. Some portions of the program were dedicated to particular tasks and were distinct enough from other portions to be little mini-programs — “subroutines” — in their own right.

Somewhere along the way some bright language-designer or programmer (they once upon a time occupied the same physical body, can you imagine!) figured out that some of those subroutines were used often enough that it would be convenient to plunk them down, pre-fabricated, into his program. So he dreamed up a way to “call” the subroutine from within the main program. This little block of instructions that executed the “subroutine call” was incorporated into the main program with a special name or mock op-code of its own. IIRC, which I might not, in Fortran you just wrote “Call so-and-so” and then wrote a list of parameters the called subroutine would use.

Of course, you could get the exact same result by branching to the subroutine in the normal way, provided you knew where everything was (Assembly languages, Fortran). But the Subroutine Call was more elegant in a way, and when it was properly written at the assembly-language level (or IN Fortran FOR Fortran programs) you could use it pre-fab in any program into which it could be compiled. (Assembler subroutines for Assembler programs, Fortran subroutines for Fortran programs, even COBOL subroutines for COBOL programs, etc., though the subroutine itself might not be in the same language.)

Thus were developed Subroutine Libraries, which when you licensed whatever language and its compiler from whomever (by which I imagine I mean, chiefly, IBM) you could get the subroutine library as well, with all its useful pre-fab routines.

Then, some dingbat had the idea of obfuscating the basic logic of the pre-fabbed subroutines system by calling these subroutines “macros.” So now instead of having a subroutine call in a program, you used a “macro,” which as far as I could tell was just the same old thing under a new name.

Macros were used in Assembly languages, like Map and Assembler. I can’t remember if Autocoder had any macros or not. When we got our first Mac, a Mac Plus, it still had macros. In that case at least (and in Excel) one could write one’s own macros. But they were still just subroutines.

Now we have Object-Oriented Programming languages, OOPs. Indeed! In which, I gathered, the idea was to write programs by assembling blocks or “modules” of “code” (read, putting together various sets of subroutines) to accomplish the program’s results.

The syntax would appear to be a nightmare. Why go through all that when you can just haul out the ol’ Fortran, or the appropriate assembly language for the machine-cum-OS.

I say it’s spinach, and I say the hell with it.

Back in the land of the living…

I am with Sky for most everything – net, TV, landline… Now the modem/router has been “on the blink”* for sometime and finally joined the digital choir invisible on Saturday. So I’d got a TP-Link replacement. Top-notch piece of kit. Think fine – set it up – and all that – easy as falling off a log. Except I tried everything short consorting with wiser heads and virgin sacrifice**.

It turns out – and at no point did Sky or TP-Link make this clear that Skynet** only works with Sky modem/routers. And I’d spoken to Sky and they’d only told me to get a new gizmo – they didn’t tell me it had to be a Sky one! It was only later when my wife howled at them they said, “Er…” So had to buy one from them. I had originally thought they might replace their hardware buckshee but we seem these days to live in the land of negative customer loyalty. I mean they offer reduced deals for some months to new customers but if you have been with ‘em for years they couldn’t give a toss. I don’t like that. And they are all at it. BT, TalkTalk and all the rest of ‘em.

So, I’m back online. Thank the Gods of TCP/IP!

If anyone in the UK needs to buy a pretty high-spec wifi modem/router which is really nearly new then I am your man.

But being de-netted was dreadful. It was almost like being dead. It was like I kept on thinking things like, “There’s gotta be a solution online”. Then, “Oh bugger!”. It was like having a Speccy without a tape recorder. And it was really pissing me of because of my recent getting of a new laptop (8Gb Lenovo S440 with a Core i5 CPU). I was peeved.

*a techie term meaning roughly, “Circling the drain in the House of the Fucked”.

**Problem is round here there is no way to find three wise men and a virgin so no second-coming for us.

***For that is what I call it.

It’s important to have vision

Nasa's Warp Drive Concept Ship

This is NASA’s idea for a warp drive spaceship, capable of interstellar travel. It’s not a fantasy sci-fi ship but a concept based on the equations of Dr. Harold White—lead at NASA’s Eagleworks Advanced Propulsion Physics Laboratory—who also works in ion engines and plasma thrusters.

This is NASA’s new concept spaceship for warp drive interstellar travel

Although my preference is for the next stage of space exploration to be undertaken by private enterprises, there is still a place for the research of fundamental technologies which will underpin our journey beyond the solar system. The only question is should such research be undertaken under the aegis of NASA (a notoriously bureaucratic organisation) or independently at a private institution.

Given the enthusiasm with which wealthy entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk have entered the race for genuinely transformational technologies I think it is time that the dead hand of government was gradually removed from the space technology arena.

NASA Starts Work on Real Life Star Trek Warp Drive

Working at NASA Eagleworks—a skunkworks operation deep at NASA’s Johnson Space Center—Dr. White’s team is trying to find proof of those loopholes. They have “initiated an interferometer test bed that will try to generate and detect a microscopic instance of a little warp bubble” using an instrument called the White-Juday Warp Field Interferometer.

Home Build Hybrid Rocket Demo

Space Shuttle Launch

One of the inherent problems of space craft utilising Solid Rocket Booster technology (such as the now retired NASA space shuttle) is premature or alternately asymmetric ignition because unlike liquid propellants (hydrogen/oxygen, hydrogen peroxide, etc.), the burn cannot be controlled or shut off, an SRB will simply burn until there is no fuel left, it explodes or it self-destructs. In all of these scenarios catastrophic loss of both craft and any crew is almost guaranteed.


Android – I have no Desire for thee

A signal a signal my kingdom for a signalFurther to NickM’s post on his Android woes (of the current technology telecommunications variety rather than the future technology anthropomorphic electronic servant one), I was just going to post a comment, but it turned into a bit of a middle-aged-bloke-techno-rant.

Android vs Androids

However, since that is a perfectly valid perspective with a reasonable market share in the blogosphere, I thought I would upgrade it to a full-on blog post. I mean what the hell, it’s only electrons being shoved about isn’t it? – it’s not like they’ve got anything better to do – like holding together the structure of the universe…

So first-things-first, Sorry Nick, but I can’t help you with your problem, but it’s not because I don’t understand either the technology or your perspective (not that my knowledge of either necessarily helps your current predicament), because I have played a very, very minor role in developing the technology that you are currently afflicted with.

In between building hoppers for surface-to-air missile systems that couldn’t hit a barn door if they were holding the handle, I also worked on some of the 2G and 3G mobile phone technology at Marconi Electronic Systems as part of their military communications portfolio. I also sold part of a company based upon WAP and SMS-based message notification, so I’m not exactly clueless or even old-fashioned as far as both analogue and digital phone technology goes.

The problem is that the Motorola RAZRi you are holding in your hands is not really a mobile phone in the accepted sense. You might think it is, it might even be advertised as a mobile phone, but it fundamentally isn’t. What you are coveting in your palm is a piece of “Convergent Digital Technology

It is certainly the way of the future, along with James Tiberius Kirk , his toupée and the Tribbles, but it ain’t a part of the here-and-now.

Now don’t get be wrong, in actual fact it is a wonderful example of technological development, but it has been developed without any fundamental understanding of where it, or indeed the whole field of mobile communications is actually going.

Put simply, Nick’s Motorola RAZRi is about as close to a mobile phone as a Leopard 2A7+ tank is to the Trojan Horse.

One of these is not a Trojan horse

Now I may well be a cynical old sod, harking back to a technological antediluvian era which never really existed, but I tried out some of the 2nd generation Android technology with my last corporate mobile phone (an HTC Desire), back in 2011 and although it was very flashy in everything else, e-mail, contacts, storing data, mobile internet, games consoles, emulators, blah, blah, blah – it was fundamentally a shit mobile phone.

Half the time the call would either never pick up when I pressed “Accept” or if it did pick-up I couldn’t hear what the other party was saying anyway, or I got disconnected or it ran out of power or it just plain froze up on me or etc, etc, etc. You get the picture (unless its by MMS)

Now, I’m sure the technology and the reliability have moved on since 2011, but I was so fucked off with my initial experience of Android (and I expect iPhone’s are no better), that I decided there-and-then that my next phone would be a phone, not one of these fancy multimedia MTC gadgets, but just a phone – i.e. a 10-number keypad and two buttons, one to dial and one to hangup.

Since then I’ve been happy as Larry with a cheap, SIM-only, no contract, dual-SIM (Malaysian and European), battery-life-of-a-week Nokia 108 that I picked up in Penang for a groat (well 140 RM to be honest, but never-the-less cheap enough for me). It has a camera I’ve never used  and about the only accessory I have used on it is the Alarm Clock.

It works perfectly in Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Europe and I’ve never (to my knowledge) lost a call or misheard an address.

Maybe the technology has moved on since my failed experience in 2011, but I as a customer, certainly have. When Motorola invent a working teleportation device, let me know – but someone else can be the guinea pig – after all, I’ve read Stephen King’s “The Jaunt”.

Paranoid Android

So, Ray Kurzweil has joined Google (or Skynet) in an attempt to push AI into the Nexus 6 phase or something. I have some thoughts on all this but they are quite complicated and can wait.

Meanwhile back on Planet Nick I’ve got a problem with my Android phone.

I was trying to change my wallpaper to a nice photo I’d taken and got the error:

“Unfortunately, Google+ has stopped.”

My vague understanding is Google+ handles a lot of the multimedia type antics so this is bloody magic. This has happened apropos of nothing I can think of. I really haven’t messed around with the phone which I’ve only had about 3-4 months. It’s a Motorola RAZRi* on the Three network. It’s a nice phone and hasn’t been any hassle. I got it because it was cheap(ish), tough as hell (aluminium, Gorilla Glass, Kevlar) and has a one-touch from dead straight into camera which is cool because I wanted a snap-shot camera (lugging a DSLT and lenses etc being something I only do if I know there is something to photograph). It’s Android 4.1.2. The only app I have installed is Google Starmap and that was a while back and was seamless. It’s free and a pretty good app.

Now. I have tried clearing the cache and doing a hard reboot. I haven’t cleared the app data (I saw that suggested but I am loathe because I dunno what that deletes exactly though it’s about 800K so it can’t be too much). I guess I could always just yank the piccies to a computer and do a factory reset but I kinda want to understand what is going on and all that. And I’d have to put all my contacts in again…

Any help gratefully appreciated.

*i.e. a Google Motorola. Ask me Lenovo can’t get cracking soon enough.

Modern Life is Rubbish #2 of 10(-ish)

#2 – Facebook

I don’t have a problem with Facebook per-se. But I do have a specific issue.

Now consider my situation. I am 40 and lots of people I was at school with try and get in touch via Facebook. Now leaving aside the fact we largely haven’t seen each other in 20 years – leaving that aside for good reason what I despise about Facebook can be summed-up in a simple question, “How the fuck do you know who it is?”. Seriously. There are three mammoth probs here (all related).

First. The piccies are passport size – titchy. This is not easy if you ain’t seen the bugger for twenty years. One fella on my Facebook is bald as a coot but he wasn’t when I used to have a pint with him when we were 19. He also clearly took his avatar from the Skype-cam on his lappy in very poor lighting. Fortunately he has a moderately unusual name and no kids.

So why does those things matter? Because it is vastly easier to clock whether a Facebooker is the first person you ever properly kissed if they are a bloke and are therefore vastly less likely to have changed their name due to marriage(s) – alas due to my general heterosexuality this does not apply to me.

This happened to me a couple of years ago. J poked me. Right, I hadn’t seen here since we got our A-Level results in 1992, second, she had changed her hair-style (probs several times being a girl and all that), thirdly she had a scanned passport photo as an avatar but finally she’d got married and changed her surname yet (of course) kept her first name which should have been handy if it wasn’t a very common name.

So I replied to her poke (which is rude anyway) and she got very snotty with me when I asked if she was the same J from my class at school. Very snotty. Well, I’ve kissed girls from multiple continents since and she was nowt special. But what really annoyed me was she seemed to think I should automatically recognise someone I hadn’t seen for 20 years and only snogged once in 1988 as the result of a game of “spin the bottle”. And she was a Brosette at the time (note my point on hair).

There is another thing though. Apart from dreadful images (they don’t help) for obvious reasons (being 40 and all) a large number of folks I was at school with are married with kids. Now I mentioned the surname change but a hubby and kids? Look, nowt against it but within the space of a Facebook piccie 5 people and a dog and a changed surname means it could be anyone.

It narks me.


I have a Snapdo infection on Win Vista on my old Toshiba Tecra M9. I have tried all the spells in the book but it keeps on coming back. Essentially Windows installer just goes round and round when I nix the installed Snapdo and that has to be removed. I’m normally pretty good on this sort of stuff but this is a bastard and no mistake. Any ideas?

The main problem seems to be it just seizes when you try and do any of the sensible things. I couldn’t even get as far as trying to expunge it from the Reg.

And no, I have tons of stuff on this so “nuking it from orbit” is not an option.



PS If I ever catch the bastard behind this then it is a case of Mr Soldering-Iron meet Mr Urethra.

Magnifying Specs…

I’m in the market for a pair of them magnifying/ illuminating specs for digging inside computers. Any ideas? If it’s avail. on Amazon that’s grand for I have vouchers.

PS. I just bought a new smartphone from Three. They put it in a bag clearly marked “Three” or in Charver “Mug that guy”. It’s a Motorola RAZRi which suits me. Thanks to all the folks who commented. I have often posted on personal consumer choices here and always been astonished and humbled by how good you guys are. Central Manc-land was panda-fucking-monium this after.

I overheard this gem from some geezer in the Carphone Warehouse. He was trying to flog a high-end Sony to an middle-aged couple…

“Well, it’s waterproof so you can take pictures of yourself under the bath water mind that depends on what assets you have to photo”. I just left. They seemed to think it OK. Yup, the possibility to photograph sodden genitals on 4G and upload to facebook and see if anyone “likes”. Magic. That is precisely what this tech was invented for.

About 18 years ago I bought my first PC – a Elonex 386SX clocked at 16Mhz with 4 Meg of RAM and a 120Meg HD. This bugger has (if memory serves) !Gb of working RAM, a 2GHz Intel Atom chip and 5Gb of storage (which is upgradeable by micro SD). The computer cost GBP350 (inc monitor) second hand. The brand new phone cost GBP150. In some bizarre sense I am aware of this progress and it repels me that a salesman might even suggest this wondrous technological advance is great so that a middle-aged man might take sub-aqua pictures of his cock. That and the salesman just sounded a sleazy git.

No matter. The nice lady in the Three shop made no crass sexual comments, was helpful and friendly and I now have more computing power in my top-pocket than a Bond villain had in his volcano. And no I didn’t ask if they’d throw in a Mao suit and a Persian cat. Or the fit birds with up-does, specs, lab coats and clipboards. Ah, well, I guess World domination can wait. I have to clean the bathroom anyway.

Having said all that about my spanky new phone the trip in or out of town on Northern Rail was Asoka. Not for the first time I fare-dodged not through any desire to do but because I simply couldn’t buy a ticket. Having said that I felt Turd World – especially when I entered the bog which was veritably Greek in standards partly because any quantity of junk had been chucked down it because there were no bins. The Dame Judith was… Well, if you’d bottled that Tony Blair would be off the hook over Iraqi WMDs. It smelt like their had been a fucking cholera epidemic localised to one train khazi. It was unbe-fucking-believable. But if Northern Rail can’t be fecked to sell tickets (one wonders what their gubbmunt grunt is?) I can’t be fecked to buy them. Or more to the point I just simply couldn’t. And I had the money on the hip.

Christ almighty! It is dismal. There was no way I could have easily walked-out of the Three store with my phone without paying for it but Northern Rail… Put it this way, which company would you buy shares in?

Site down

Just to let you all know, the site disappearing over night had nothing to do with equipment failing.

Problem description:  While Australia slept the cat knocked the router off the shelf and the cable fell out.

Temporary solution:  Plug the cable back in and leave the router on the floor.

Long term solution:  Shoot cat.

Source of the problem


Optimus Prime?

I’m in the market for a phone…

Halt Nick here and return to a question I asked a bit back about gen-gapping. My wife tonight said something about reading a book on her phone. How far back would that have seemed like a statement of true oddness like scuba diving with a trombone?

Anyway, I need something cheap, nice(ish), and I don’t really care about the camera. And it has to be PAYG because I’ll be probed up the Gary Glitter by LGM before I sign-up to a 24 month contract for a phone. Just in principle.

Anyhows the LG Optimus L1 II seems to fit the bill. Any ideas?

I had to dig a bit (not much but you know we live in the century of instant gratification*) to get much beyond the blurb…

Stylish design. Rounded contours and easy lines combine to create a form that fits perfectly in your palm.

Quite bizarre how what is essentially a pocket computer with a radio can be described in almost exactly the same tones as a 1950s Hollywood starlet. I mean I’ve stuck my penis into a number of things but I draw the line at getting on the Universal Sexual Bus (yes, even USB3!). Anyway it has wifi. Anyone for teledildonics?. The Pimms shall also be virtual.

But is it OK? I just mean OK and is there anything else at around that price to consider? I like the sound of the Three 321 price-plan BTW. I simply don’t want to spent much on a phone because it’s just a phone and I am not the sort of wanker who queues all night to spend 709 quid on an iPhone5S. I do wonder about the mentality of someone with the thick-end of a grand spending the night on Oxford Street. I do wonder…

*I wish my physics extended to inventing the “time-travel bar” where you could get sex before buying a couple of cocktails. I’d make a fortune in payments to my defunct Northern Crock a/c. I’d need The Doctor’s note (and God knows how the tax would work) to access the funds mind. An accountant in a periwig would probs see most of it in Quatloos.

Politics in it’s old hat.

This started as a reply to Sam’s comment here.

Sam, you have a point. The older I get the more I realise that politically we are regressing to a bastardized-Victoriana that never really existed. How else would the largest ever proposed engineering project in British history be a railway that George and Robert Stephenson could envisage – literally – it’s George’s gauge metal rails of course. It’s also 50 billion quid jizzed up the wall

It was cutting edge when George and son were building the Rocket but that was nigh on 200 years from an MP idling on the track and getting mown-down by the Rocket to the first paying passenger getting on the “new” HS2. What happened to the Fairey Rotodyne? Political pignorance and bastarding fuckwittery is what happened. There were concerns over noise (Fairey had got it down to the sound of a tube train). The fact the US military wanted loads of ‘em was irrelevant. The fact there was significant commercial interest in a high-speed city to city VTOL aircraft matter nothing if it scared the horses. Literally. The Bellendius Maximus who first championed HS2 was (and is) Lord Adonis. Yes, it does sound like he should be a porn-star. Lord Andrew [which means "manly" BTW] Adonis looks like this…

What mental image do you have of a Lord Adonis? A sort of demi-god who traded blows with Hektor of Troy? Or that piss-poor wankenshaft? He wrote a scholarly history of the poll-tax.

Short version. I did more against that. I simply didn’t pay. Not because I objected nor because I knew it was wrong as such but because I knew I could get the feck away with it and those quids in my pocket were worth more to me than being in the pockets of the cuntcil. At the time, there was, as ever a C19th (perceived as) idea that the community charge was either right or wrong. I just didn’t want to pay. Yes, I was shellfish. I was the full lobster.

So I didn’t pay and they never got me. So, what’s my point? Well, possibly it is Ike’s about “guided missiles but unguided men”. No politricks this last fifty years has moved much beyond WWI. Anywhere.

Look at the lavish expense of HS2 and compare with the dismal spending on Skylon? The first is a C19th solution to a C21st problem and the second is an SSTO aerospace plane that would result in Bristol Filton being re-monikered “Bristol International Spaceport”. Now if that isn’t cooler than making the trip from London to Birmingham 15 minutes shorter I despair. I have been to Birmingham. It’s OK but space!

It is the chronic lack of imagination that gets me about politricks.

And put it this way… 50 billion quid in you or my pocket is much more likely to get us to Mars than any ammount in the poche of the taxman. And that will only get you to Brum.

Which is like OK and all but seriously nothing to write home about.

Birmingham – it’s OK I guess.

Just to clear everything up

CCinZ degraded somewhat in reliability and performance the last couple of years.


Starting upstream and moving down, We now have a new service provider providing three times the bandwidth, a new front end router, a new physical server running a new install of a new host operating system with three times the memory and five times the processing power. We have a new virtual server with four times the memory and three times the processing power, with a new and clean install of the latest FreeBSD, and a clean install of the latest release of WordPress.

And yesterday I installed a new backend router, behind the server, although that doesn’t affect you at all.


I will be mightily peeved if this system starts acting up any time soon.

Nokia fights back

I am not a fan of Microsoft on smartphones. I am more of a Samsung aficionado, my Galaxy Note II is simply the most useful device I have ever owned, and I will give it up only when it is prised from my cold dead hands…

However, is Nokia on to a winner here?

They have spent the last few years watching open mouthed as Apple and Samsung carved up their market dominance and walked off with it. I thought the Nokia tie up with Microsoft was a mistake, but what do I know?

I have just seen a couple of reviews of the new Lumia 1020, with a 41 megapixel camera sensor, and I am blown away.

Yep, 41 megapixels.

It will save a 38 Megapixel image, which will withstand 3x digital zoom while still retaining detail, and also save a 5 Megapixel image for sharing.

I don’t think this is an Apple beater, but, given how popular smartphone photography has become, I do think it is a Nokia saver.

Now, a Galaxy Note, with this resolution and optical zoom, would cement my love affair with Samsung for life. Be a bit bulky tho.


Sam Duncan suggested we have a look at this site for smartphone news. Good call.

For an overview of just how comprehensively Nokia have managed to trash their market lead I have read nothing better than this.

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