Thursday, July 30, 2009

Chilli Fiesta

I've been in a meeting in West Dean most of the day, I have to take the Bomber to judo for 6pm, and people are coming round for dinner later.

Hence I am rushed, and the only observation I have time to share is that I am tempted by West Dean's Chilli Fiesta on the weekend after next.

I've a little capiscum in the garden myself. I wonder if I will succumb to chilli, chillie, or chili envy?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The inenarrable godhead of delight?

I was too young for Reptilicus, but I read in Empire magazine this morning that Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus is to get a theatrical release in the UK.

I haven't been so excited since Beerfest.

So what does the future hold for this franchise-in-the-making? To get the answer, we went straight to one of the film's human stars, 80's icon Deborah Gibson.

"I haven't seen the final edit, but we did do a version that leaves the door open for a potential sequel," Gibson revealed. "Because God knows what else is in the ocean. I thought maybe a seahorse? Maybe a 500-foot lobster would be good. But yes, there is the potential for a sequel, and I would absolutely love it."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

SMS Twitter (and all who sail aboard her)

From the Twitter Blog yesterday:
Full, two-way interaction with Twitter over SMS is now available for everyone who uses O2, the largest mobile operator in the UK. There are no extra fees associated with Twittering over SMS on the 02 network—standard or in bundle rates apply for updating your account and receiving tweets over SMS is free so Tweet your heart out!

To Twitter over SMS with your iPhone or any other mobile, head over to your
account settings and activate your device. The Twitter shortcode in the UK is 86444 if you want to save it in your address book. Twitter started with a strong focus on texting and we continue to provide SMS access around the world.
I'll have to have a play about with that later. Purely professional you understand.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The road from Heaven to Hereford

Apparently, hat tip Kali, there is an article about Wales in the current edition of "Mental Floss".

Linda Rodriguez reports that "in Wales, teens loiter in castles, men outrun horses, and reality TV shows are about coal miners. Wales may be a part of the U.K., but it's got a culture all its own."

That, frankly doesn't begin to cover it. See The Bank Manager and the Holy Grail: Travels in the Weirder Reaches of Wales -
Here is the story of Kaiser Wilhelm's holiday in a small Welsh spa town shortly before the outbreak of the Great War, and of the Welsh waxwork museum largely peopled by countless effigies of Prince Philip discarded by Madame Tussaud's. There is the true story of how a project to ensure the survival of the Welsh language came to involve the translation of pornographic novels, and the equally true story of how Kurt Cobain came to meet Courtney Love - in the one nightclub in Newport, South Wales. And there is the utterly baffling tale of how the Holy Grail temporarily came to be in the safe keeping of the manager of Lloyds Bank in Aberystwyth.
That said, a free LLAP Goch lesson to anyone who can get me the Mental Floss missive.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

La Dolce Vita

"The Lord accepts all and as the Lord said: "I have come for sinners not the just,'" a Cappuccin friar at the shrine near Foggia in southern Italy, told La Repubblica
In Italy, this means "mildly contrite Silvio Berlusconi woos the church with a nod and a wink."

In England, it plays as "Church tells worshippers to give special treatment to overweight or bald people."

"Vive le difference!" say I, affecting mercurial, non-sequiturial French, but God knows no-one ever accused Anglicans of having style.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Lillian Boutté

On the music scene for more than 30 years Lillian is a monument to Jazz, Gospel and R&B. She has performed and recorded with a myriad of legendary musicians including Harry 'Sweets' Edison, Dr. John, Professor Longhair, Clark Terry and our own Humphrey Lyttleton. Named "New Orleans Musical Ambassador" in 1986, she was only the second jazz legend in the city's history to be accorded this honour - the first being Louis Armstrong.

Lillian Boutté was on at AbbeyFest last night. Very cool indeed.

You can listen to her on Spotify.

Friday, July 24, 2009


The Bomber having conceived a taste for Indian confectionery we picked up some jalebi at Royal Sweets in (the none-more-Asian) Tooting on the way to judo last night (for consumption afterwards).

Here's the run down from Wikipedia:
Jalebi or zalebi (Urdu: جلیبی, Hindi: जलेबी, Punjabi: ਜਲੇਬੀ jalebī; Bengali: জিলাপী jilapi; Persian: زولبیا zoolbiah) is a South Asian fried sweet. It is made by deep-frying batter in a kind of pretzel shape then soaked in syrup. Zlebia is a Middle Eastern and North African sweet introduced during Muslim rule of South Asia and its local name is Jalebi as Z is replaced by J in most Indian languages.
In India it is served as the Celebration Sweet of India especially during the national holidays like Independence Day and Republic Day in the government offices, defence and other organisations. Similarly, Jalebi is one of the most popular sweets in Pakistan. Jalebi is also sometimes spelt as "Jalibi".
The Persian word for Jalebi is "zoolbiah." In Egypt, Lebanon and Syria it is known as "zalabia" (sometimes spelt as "zalabiya"). In the Maldives it is known by the name "zilēbi". This sweet is called "jeri" in Nepal, a word derived from jangiri, and the Mogul Emperor Jahangir.
In Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia this sweet is known as Zlebia or Zlabia.
"To see the world in a grain of sand."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Worm that Turned

Parliament has spoken:
The range of news programmes for English-language speakers in Wales is under serious threat and key decisions about future programming must be made, says a report published today by the Welsh Affairs Committee.
I find the notion of English as some sort of threatened minority language hilarious.

We're all victims now I suppose.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Another list

the worst are full of passionate intensity.
Lord Mandelson (see rants passim) now sits on the following Cabinet committees:
  • National Economic Council
  • Better Regulation
  • Democratic Renewal Council
  • Domestic Policy Council (which he deputy chairs)
  • Domestic Affairs
  • Borders and Migration
  • Communities and Equalities
  • Food
  • Families, Children and Young People
  • Health and Wellbeing
  • Justice and Crime
  • Local Government and the Regions (which he chairs)
  • Public Engagement and the Delivery of Services
  • Life Chances
  • Talent and Enterprise
  • Economic Development
  • Environment and Energy
  • Housing, Planning and Regeneration
  • Olympic and Paralympic Games
  • Productivity, Skills and Employment
  • Constitution
  • National Security, International Relations and Development
  • Europe
  • Overseas and Defence
  • Africa
  • Afghanistan and Pakistan
  • Trade
  • Protective Security and Resilience
  • Public Services and Public Expenditure
  • Public Sector Pay and Pensions
  • Pandemic Influenza Planning
  • Post Office Network (which he chairs)
  • Flood planning
  • PM's ad hoc Committee on International Climate Change
  • PM's ad hoc International Climate Change Negotiations

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


The BBC is starting to show 'Desperate Romantics' tonight. A "throbbing" bodice ripper about the Pre-Raphaelites.

In an unhappily synchronicitous development I've learned that our local 'De Morgan Centre for the Study of 19th Century Art and Society' is closing down on Saturday.

I'll have to try and get along to see it some time this week, giddy social whirl notwithstanding.

I remember Mark, the antique furniture restorer, recommending it to me a couple of years ago.

The story of 'Mark and the quarter of a million pound commode' will have to wait for another day.

Monday, July 20, 2009

100 Essential Skills for Geeks

Chicks will dig it if you (hat tip Simon B) can:

  1. Properly secure a wireless router.

  2. Crack the WEP key on a wireless router.

  3. Leech Wifi from your neighbor.

  4. Screw with Wifi leeches.

  5. Setup and use a VPN.

  6. Work from home or a coffee shop as effectively as you do at the office.

  7. Wire your own home with Ethernet cable.

  8. Turn a web camera into security camera.

  9. Use your 3G phone as a Wi-Fi access point.

  10. Understand what “There’s no Place Like” means.

  11. Identify key-loggers.

  12. Properly connect a TV, Tivo, XBox, Wii, and Apple TV so they all work together with the one remote.

  13. Program a universal remote.

  14. Swap out the battery on your iPod/iPhone.

  15. Benchmark Your Computer

  16. Identify all computer components on sight.

  17. Know which parts to order from, and how to assemble them into a working PC.

  18. Troubleshoot any computer/gadget problem, over the phone.

  19. Use any piece of technology intuitively, without instruction or prior knowledge.

  20. How to irrecoverably protect data.

  21. Recover data from a dead hard drive.

  22. Share a printer between a Mac and a PC on a network.

  23. Install a Linux distribution. (Hint: Ubuntu 9.04 is easier than installing Windows)

  24. Remove a virus from a computer.

  25. Dual (or more) boot a computer.

  26. Boot a computer off a thumb drive.

  27. Boot a computer off a network drive.

  28. Replace or repair a laptop keyboard.

  29. Run more than two monitors on a single computer.

  30. Successfully disassemble and reassemble a laptop.

  31. Know at least 10 software easter eggs off the top of your head.

  32. Bypass a computer password on all major operating systems. Windows, Mac, Linux

  33. Carrying a computer cleaning arsenal on your USB drive.

  34. Bypass content filters on public computers.

  35. Protect your privacy when using a public computer.

  36. Surf the web anonymously from home.

  37. Buy a domain, configure bind, apache, MySQL, php, and Wordpress without Googling a how-to.

  38. Basic *nix command shell knowledge with the ability to edit and save a file with vi.

  39. Create a web site using vi.

  40. Transcode a DVD to play on a portable device.

  41. Hide a file in an image using steganography.

  42. Knowing the answer to life, the universe and everything.

  43. Share a single keyboard and mouse between multiple computers without a KVM switch.

  44. Google obscure facts in under 3 searches. Bonus point if you can use I Feel Lucky.

  45. Build amazing structures with LEGO and invent a compelling back story for the creation.

  46. Understand that it is LEGO, not Lego, Legos, or Lego’s.

  47. Build a two story house out of LEGO, in monochrome, with a balcony.

  48. Construct a costume for you or your kid out of scraps, duct tape, paper mâché, and imagination.

  49. Be able to pick a lock.

  50. Determine the combination of a Master combination padlock in under 10 minutes.

  51. Assemble IKEA furniture without looking at the instructions. Bonus point if you don’t have to backtrack.

  52. Use a digital SLR in full manual mode.

  53. Do cool things to Altoids tins.

  54. Be able to construct paper craft versions of space ships.

  55. Origami! Bonus point for duct tape origami. (Ductigami)

  56. Fix anything with duct tape, chewing gum and wire.

  57. Knowing how to avoid being eaten by a grue.

  58. Know what a grue is.

  59. Understand where XYZZY came from, and have used it.

  60. Play any SNES game on your computer through an emulator.

  61. Burn the rope.

  62. Know the Konami code, and where to use it.

  63. Whistle, hum, or play on an iPhone, the Cantina song.

  64. Learning to play the theme songs to the kids favorite TV shows.

  65. Solve a Rubik’s Cube.

  66. Calculate THAC0.

  67. Know the difference between skills and traits.

  68. Explain special relativity in terms an eight-year-old can grasp.

  69. Recite pi to 10 places or more.

  70. Be able to calculate tip and split the check, all in your head.

  71. Explain that the colours in a rainbow are roygbiv.

  72. Understand the electromagnetic spectrum - xray, uv, visible, infrared, microwave, radio.

  73. Know the difference between radiation and radioactive contamination.

  74. Understand basic electronics components like resistors, capacitors, inductors and transistors.

  75. Solder a circuit while bottle feeding an infant. (lead free solder please.)

  76. The meaning of technical acronyms.

  77. The coffee dash, blindfolded (or blurry eyed). Coffee <brew> [cream] [sugar]. In under a minute.

  78. Build a fighting robot.

  79. Program a fighting robot.

  80. Build a failsafe into a fighting robot so it doesn’t kill you.

  81. Be able to trace the Fellowship’s journey on a map of Middle Earth.

  82. Know all the names of the Dwarves in The Hobbit.

  83. Understand the difference between a comic book and a graphic novel.

  84. Know where your towel is and why it is important.

  85. Re-enact the parrot sketch.

  86. Know the words to The Lumberjack Song.

  87. Reciting key scenes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

  88. Be able to recite at least one Geek Movie word for word.

  89. Know what the 8th Chevron does on a Stargate and how much power is required to get a lock.

  90. Be able to explain why it’s important that Han shot first.

  91. Know why it is just wrong for Luke and Leia to kiss.

  92. Stop talking Star Wars long enough to get laid.

  93. The ability to name actors, characters and plotlines from the majority of sci-fi movies produced since 1968.

  94. Cite Mythbusters when debunking a myth or urban legend.

  95. Sleep with a Cricket bat next to your bed.

  96. Have a documented plan on what to do during a zombie or robot uprising.

  97. Identify evil alternate universe versions of friends, family, co-workers or self.

  98. Be able to convince TSA that the electronic parts you are carrying are really not a threat to passengers.

  99. Talk about things that aren’t tech related.

  100. Get something on the front page of Digg.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Three years on from wondering at the number of Brazilians on Colliers Wood, we have Brazilian friends. And so it came to pass that we met up with them yesterday in Abbey Mills at the stall selling pastels and guarana juice.

According to the vendors, the crisp rectangular fried pastry that is Brazil's pastel was introduced by Japanese immigrants and evolved into its present form when that tradition collided with Italian fillings and flavours.

I love all this cosmopolitan mingling. As I noted before, "the first esoteric fact that I ever learned on the World Wide Web was that tempura came from the Portuguese influence on Japanese food ."

The Bomber's pastel with pizza filling was educational.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Have a brainy weekend with Richard Feynman courtesy of Bill Gates.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The School of Life

A website stumbler-upon (rather than a graduate of) The School of Life thinks it me to a tee.

Shall we give it a whirl?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Action to the word

Action to the Word Theatre Company's Romeo and Juliet takes William Shakespeare's masterpiece and drags it into the 21st century in a promenade performance that will see the audience moving with the cast throughout Merton Abbey Mills.
We saw it last night and it was brilliant. You can still catch it tonight, Saturday or Sunday, but not tomorrow because the jazz is on.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Applying principles from Heston B's Family Food the other night, I determined slowly to roast a chicken, turn the oven off at bedtime and then retrieve a perfect fowl in the morning.

Unfortunately I forgot and left it on, so I woke to a house pervaded by a perfectly foul acrid smell and a carbonised chicken.

Seeking freshness I tried Abbey Mills' Luminscents (whence previously I had not ventured) and was recommended may chang oil.

Apparently you can vapourise it by dropping a little onto the bottom of a warmed oven or by spreading a drip on a light bulb, but I bought a pillar oil burner.

I tried it out last night and it worked a treat.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Adventures of Mr Thake

In 1924, writer JB Morton adopted the name Beachcomber and began a humorous column in the Daily Express which was to run for more than 50 years.

Reading about the odd lives of Beachcomber's characters – whether they were nonsensical, puritanical, pompous or simply insane – became part of the ritual of breakfast throughout the land.

A typical example of Beachcomber's gift for creating what GK Chesterton described as "a huge thunderous wind of elemental and essential laughter," is Mr Thake.

Out of print since the Thirties, The Adventures Of Mr Thake is a collection of letters to Beachcomber read for this BBC Radio 4 series by actor Leslie Phillips. The character, Oswald Bletisloe Hattersley Thake, was depicted as an upper-class twit. Described affectionately as "a caricature of his nation", Thake never quite understands what is happening to him, or why.

Pause for 15 minutes at 3:30pm for the next three days to get your dose from the talking-type wireless. If you can't I am sure will take the strain for a later listen.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Dad Longworth

Karl Malden (see icons passim) died earlier this month. I prized him greatly for his work with Marlon Brando in A Streetcare Named Desire and On The Waterfront.

He also appeared in One-Eyed Jacks, the only film Brando ever directed. I've never seen it, but I found it yesterday on YouTube, free and official at

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Chap Olympiad 2009

I went to the India Landscape and the British Museum yesterday, and was a bit underwhelmed to be perfectly frank.

Drowning my sorrows in the boozer I noticed two girls dressed up in what looked like 1940s schmutter. One was costumed along the the lines of Rosie the Riveter, while the other had gone in a higher maintenance Rita Hayworth direction.

When I enquired, they told me that they had just been to the Chap Olympics, and that although the competitions in "Three-Trousered Limbo, Moustache Wrestling, Quill Throwing, Umbrella Jousting and Bounders" were finished the evening promised a "live swing band, several burlesque turns and a man impersonating a Spitfire."

Unfortunately the postprandial dip occasioned by refuelling at the Italian Kitchen (as well as a keen professional interest in strong continental lager) seemed to have impaired my sense of directions and I couldn't find it.

There is always next year I suppose.

Jim Shannon was there, and you can see his photos on

Friday, July 10, 2009

Radio Me

AbbeyFest jazz begins tonight. As I have been sproggling for a while now the soundtrack in the office from downing tools until the live music starts will be Radio Me.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

One from the coal face

Myself: We've been running the auction site for years and the SSL key is still only 512. When renewing the certificate on IIS, how can I increase my CSR key size in IIS 6 without removing my existing certificate?

Prodnose: When you renew a certificate the CSR that is created will retain all of the exact details that were set when the certificate was first set up. This includes the key size of the certificate. You can't remove the existing certificate using IIS and recreate the CSR details using the Certificate Wizard because that action will take your website down on port 443 during this process.

Myself: Well we can't do that then. Analysis please Mr. Data.

Prodnose: You could create a 'dummy' website in IIS. This website can be a blank default. Once this has been done, you will then need to create a new CSR for that 'dummy' website, allowing you to change the key size. When you receive your certificate file, install it onto the dummy website as normal. You can now assign the certificate from the dummy website to the production website with no downtime. Once you have done this, you can simply delete the 'dummy' website.

Myself: Make it so.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Blanket Coverage

As for yesterday's Michael Jackson hoopla, I offer you "ersatz": being a usually artificial and inferior substitute or imitation.

Useful synonyms include faux and knock off.

You may also consider "The President's Speech" from The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks, 1985, about a ward of aphasiacs and agnosiacs listening to and laughing at a speech given by an unnamed actor-president, "the old Charmer," presumably Ronald Reagan. For, 'one can lie with the mouth,' Nietzsche writes, 'but with the accompanying grimace one nevertheless tells the truth.'

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Keep Reading

As chaos reigns in Kashgar, I remember from reading 'The New Great Game' (extract) that China's Xingxang province has a border with Afghanistan.

It seems that a significant spark of the trouble was a bust up between ethnic Han Chinese and Uighur migrant workers in Guangdong.

Guangdong! That's Canton (as in Cantonese) down by Hong Kong. It's an outrageous distance away from Xingxang.

The world is more complicated than the tabloids would have us believe, so we need to keep reading and thinking for ourselves.

Monday, July 06, 2009


I came across TweetCraft on the Twitter blog.
TweetCraft is an in-game Twitter client for World of Warcraft. TweetCraft can:
  • Send/receive Tweets in-game (Immediate sending reloads your UI)
  • Queue Tweets to send when it's more convenient for you
  • Upload in-game screenshots using TwitPic
  • AutoTweet when you log in, enter an instance or get an achievement
  • Extensible so that AddOn authors can register messages or events to AutoTweet
The Bomber is always chatting to me about his WoW achievements, mostly to my utter bewilderment. This could be a good way for us to keep in touch about his progess, old WoW plugin hands that we are.

This 'Coding for Fun' article on how it works is worth reading as well in light of our own Twitter API development.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

National Fishing Week

The Bomber and I fished the Wandle yesterday. We saw a lot of fish (including a giant carp) even if we didn't catch any.

I always thought of angling as rather a solitary pastime, but yesterday was very social. All sorts of passersby stopped to shoot the breeze, ask how we were doing and tell their own stories of rod and reel.

(It seems we just missed National Fishing Week - )

Saturday, July 04, 2009

I Am Jack's Raging Bile Duct

As the tidewater recedes, Fight Club is coming into relief as one of the very best films of the 90s.

This, however, does not mean it is a good idea to wake up on a weekend morning, quaff the warm remnants of last night's lager, crack open a fresh Stella and start watching Tyler, Marla and company in your dressing gown.

That said, I have found the principles of the Fight Club drinking game widely applicable to life in general.

Take a shot:

1. If someone starts (yourself included) starts musing about death
2. Whenever "bitch tits" are mentioned
3. Anytime someone mentions "the first rule"
4. Whenever someone says "Tyler Durden"
5. At the mention of the names "Rupert", "Cornelius", or "Travis"

Which reminds me, Clancy Martin. You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You're the same decaying organic matter as everything else .

Friday, July 03, 2009

1st Mon

The Bomber got his first mon grading at judo last night and is a pleased as punch.

I was shooting the breeze with Darren while Ben was getting changed, and asked him why there was a Brazilian flag on the wall of the dojo. He said that the club had some sort of relationship with a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu club and that he'd been training in BJJ himself that morning.

There's really a lot of cross discipline work going on. He told me that one of the seniors is boxing at the Roger Gracie Vie Academy as well as doing judo. That's the same place where Johnny - Ben's Kru - is the muay Thai instructor.

Round and round and round it goes.

Prodnose: Goodness me, there's a lot of testosterone in here today.
Myself: I guess so. Did I tell you that Adam is fighting in Thailand on Saturday?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Coo What a Scorcher!

BBC: The Met Office has raised its heatwave alert level in parts of England, as hot and humid conditions look set to continue until Friday.

London and the South East are now on Level 3 of four, with temperatures set to reach at least 32C (89.6F)
Myself: Oh Fiona! This heat. I can't stand it any longer. This interminable heat is enough to drive a man out of his mind.

Fiona: Steady Charles- you're losing your grip.

Myself: I can't stand it any longer! I can't! (SHOUTS) I can't!


Myself: (SUDDENLY CALM) Thank you Fiona. I deserved that. Oh darling Fiona!

Betty Marsden: Oh darling Charles.

Myself: Oh darling darling Fiona

Betty Marsden: Oh darling darling darling Charles!

Myself: Holding you like this I feel something I don't quite understand.

Betty Marsden: I don't quite understand it either. And yet, I sense it, somehow.

Myself: I somehow sense it too.

Betty Marsden: I'm glad you sense it. It makes it better- for both of us somehow- knowing.

Myself: I know

Betty Marsden: I know you know

Myself: I know you know I know.

Betty Marsden: Yes. I know. Oh Charles- what's wrong?

Myself: Oh I don't know. It's just this damned heat. Oh Fiona, how I hate having to meet you furtively like this. Suppose someone were to find us out?

Betty Marsden: Who would ever think of looking for us here? In this damp, steamy hell. Charles - there's someone there - crouching behind that Palm Tree - see, there - that small, swarthy man in a loin cloth. Look he's coming over.

Myself: It's all right Fiona. I'll handle him. I speak his language you know. All right- what do you want you grinning devil?

Prodnose: (FOR IT IS HE) Governor's respects sir, but he says ladies aren't allowed in the Turkish Bath.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Spare the rod

The Bomber claims to have become an accomplished angler in Florida, even cooking and consuming some of his catch after getting the bug down in Wales in 2006.

We were talking to a guy fishing on the Wandle on Sunday. All you have to do is buy a license from the Post Office and you're away.

That should be this weekend's project.

Argos will have to take the strain for tackle, as his last rod (I kid you not) "burned down".