Monthly Archives: October 2010

October 2010 Round-up

What’s that? Another month over already? They do seem to be flying by these days, which is either a sign of me getting old or a distortion in the space-time continuum. Most likely the latter, as the former is quite inconceivable. So there.


Oh dear. This hasn’t been going at all well this month:

October 1: 229.8 pounds (16 stone 5.8 pounds, 104.2 kg)
October 31: 232.2 pounds (16 stone 8.2 pounds, 105.3 kg)

Difference: A not really negligible rise of 2.4 pounds (1.1 kg)


This has been a bit variable. I managed to stay away from the sausage rolls for nearly a whole week, and even had a week without so much as a drop of wine. Which is why this month’s rise wasn’t a couple of pounds more than it was…


Err, yeah. I really need to do some of that.


After a slow start to the month, including a couple of weeks where I ended up doing the whole week’s “daily” reports in one day, I picked up a bit, giving a total (including this report) of 55 posts, which is slightly up on last month, and a lot more than the same month last year.


I’ve got a week off now, and I plan to have at least a couple of days out. And I might even catch up on the car park demolition job, including getting some new pictures of the remarkably clear site.

USB Typewriter

Now here’s a sublimely silly concept. Convert an old manual typewriter[1] into a keyboard that can be used with iPads and other devices.

Watch the video then click the link for more details. You can even order one from the site, but they seem a wee bit expensive….

USB Typewriter

[1] Note for younger readers: this was a kind of early word-processing device with an integrated printer. While its editing facilities were limited, its ability to work without power or data connections made it very popular.

Now that’s really evil

Like a lot of people, I am often annoyed by “captchas”, those ludicrous things where you have to squint sideways at some wildly distorted text and attempt to decipher it and type it into a box to “prove” that you’re an actual human rather than a spambot. Given that AI systems can defeat most captcha systems, and seriously determined spammers employ cheap labour to manually decode the filthy things, they end up being nothing more than an annoyance to legitimate users. Like other attempts to solve behavioural problems with technology (copy protection, software activation, DRM, Windows Bloody Genuine Complete Disadvantage[1]), it does nothing to stop the actual offenders and simply serves to annoy legitimate users. Unlike AI-driven spambots, I find some captcha systems singularly difficult to interpret, and I’d be much happier if people stopped using them.

But it seems it could get worse rather than better. If there’s one thing more irritating that captchas, it’s aggressively in your face adverts on websites. I don’t mean banner ads, or contextual adverts of the Google variety, so much as floating ads that take over the page if you accidentally move your mouse pointer over the wrong point. Or those damn silly fake loading page ads that appear before showing you the page you’ve asked for.

So, what’s the worst thing you can think of? Yes! It’s video bloody ads with the bloody captcha embedded in them, so you have to watch the advert to see the floating text to type into the box so you can register with the site, or post a comment, or whatever the photon it was you went to the site for in the first place.

New Scientist reports that this particularly loathsome scheme is being offered by a Canadian company called NuCaptcha[3].

Any site using this might as well put a big sign up reading  We hate our customers. I’d have to be really desperate to log on to a site to put up with this kind of nonsense. In general, I’d be more inclined to go elsewhere.

Captcha adverts capture your attention – tech – 20 October 2010 – New Scientist.

[1] Seriously. I don’t so much mind Microsoft treating its customers as criminals until they can prove otherwise, as them popping up damn silly messages telling me that the hoop -jumping they make me do[2] is for my own benefit.
[2] Product activation, repeatedly having to prove that a licensed Windows installation is legitimate, etc, etc…
[3] See the New Scientist article if you want a link to them. I prefer not to directly link to anything so horrible

Weight and Stuff Report – 30 October 2010

Bother. Back up today.

The Saturday picture is the tower of a singularly stylish London church:

St Georges, Bloomsbury

St Georges, Bloomsbury

Superb church designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor

St George’s, Bloomsbury is just around the corner from the British Museum.

Weight and Stuff Report – 29 October 2010

Down another chunk today, taking me back to where I was before last Friday, so that’s more or less OK.

I walked in as far as Gateshead today. The plan was to get into town and do a bit of shopping before work, but by the time I got there it was too late to bother. So I might as well have walked all the way.

And I now have a week off.[1] Some days out and a bit of walking should be involved. Details as and when they happen. Probably.

Today’s picture is of something no mad scientist or slightly loopy geek should be without:

It's Alive!

It's Alive!

No mad scientist (or slightly eccentric photographer) should be without one. Sadly, this one no longer works, so I need a new one.

I spent quite a while getting the exposure just right on that. Sadly, the plasma ball no longer works, so I’ll have to get a new one at some point…

[1] :bouncy: :bouncy: :yes: :drool:

Better watch out for that…

First, today’s bit of fun from xkcd:

xkcd: Glass

xkcd: Glass

OK, you’ve read that and the hover text by now, right? This reminded me of some wise words:

There is a theory which states that if anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.

There is another theory which states that this has already happened.[1]

So you’d better watch out with that Higgs Boson, right?

[1] Douglas Adams, from the preface to The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. From my signed first edition, to be precise. Which I’m quite baffled to find is now thirty years old, which is ridiculous, as it would make me quite old. Oh. Bother. :duh:

Weight and Stuff Report – 28 October 2010

Aaaand down again today. Still got a way to go to get back to where I was before last weekend, though. I’ve been a good boy[1] though – no visits to Gregg’s at all so far this week, and I haven’t had so much as a wee glass of wine since last Friday.

Today’s picture is of Newcastle’s Black Gate, one of the remnants of the castle. The name comes from a person who once owned it rather than its colour, which as you’ll notice, isn’t particularly black.

The Black Gate

The Black Gate

[1] For arbitrary values of “good” and indeed “boy”

Weight and Stuff Report – 27 October 2010

Just a teeny rise today,  but more of a random fluctuation than anything else, I’m sure.

Today’s picture is of some London landmarks:



The Gherkin behind the Tower of London, seen from Tower Bridge

This is the view through Tower Bridge, over the Tower of London to the Gherkin. A nice mixture of structures, I thought.


A nice one from xkcd today. As usual, click the picture to see the whole thing, and make sure you read the hover text.



Oh, and I can’t mention Starlight without a bit of Muse: