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Sun 28th May 2006 @ 23:30 2006: Schumacher - Disgraceful

The Stewards are left with no alternative but to conclude that the driver deliberately stopped his car on the circuit in the last few minutes of Qualifying at a time which he had thus far set the fastest lap time

That is to say - Schumacher had got provisional Pole Position, but Alonso (and possibly others) were set to beat his time. At the end of the qualifying session, as everyone was completing their final laps to get the best time, Michael Schumacher made a mistake which meant that his car was in the path of the other drivers, who therefore could not improve their times. (Indeed, it caused a Yellow Flag, which meant that drivers must slow down.

Schumacher has had incidents with Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve, and of course the Austrian incident with Barrichello a few years ago.

Just a few quotes that ITV managed to get into their coverage - the entire grid was unanimous on the verdict.

"Extraordinary he didn't stuff it into the barriers at all ... he parked it without having to damage the car - it was quite an extraordinary incident
- Martin Whitchurch, McLaren CEO F1

"Absolutely no way it could have been an error. He parked the car in the middle of the road"
- Keke Rosberg, 1982 World Champion

"I was very disappointed" ... "In 1997 he was racing against Stewart Grand Prix; he spun at Cale de Halage within 10 laps of the end of the race in the rain. he didn't stall the car then because he was going to lose the race. And he continued and it was a much more dangerous set of
circumstances than it was at Rascasse yesterday."
- Jackie Stewart

"We don't believe that's the right decision, I think it creates a dangerous precendent because now every error of the driver can be questioned"
- Luca Colajanni, Ferrari team spokesman

In my opinion, Schumacher has put the entire sport into disrepute, and although I am no fan of his, he has had an incredible career and has now, in what is likely to be his final year in Formula One, cast a shadow over all his previous achievements.


Fri 26th 2006 May: Bottled Water

Last Friday (19th May)'s The Now Show included the following dialogue between two hypothetical aliens encountering planet Earth:

Alien 1: They had it in the taps
Alien 2: I know and they still bought it in little bottles
Alien 1: I know they were idiots - hahahahaha
Alien 2: Maybe the water in the taps wasnt good for them
Alien 1: No, you are wrong Zob (that is why I blasted u with the twonk ray). The water in the taps had to be of a drinkable standard - it was the law.
Alien 2: You are right. And yet still they paid for it to be brought to them in little bottles.
Alien 1: Marketing - hahahaha
Alien 2: Marketing, yes. This is amusing. Marketing - hahahaha
Alien 1: Here, buy this
Alien 2: I already have this
Alien 1: "Marketing"
Alien 2: Okay then, I'll buy it
Alien 1: I have laughed so hard I have accidentally passed what passes for alien wee-wee
Alien 2: Put it in a bottle, you could sell it to the humans
Both: hahahahaha

In a followup from this piece of class, I can only offer this photo (select to enlarge). As the resolution doesn't show all the detail, this is "Tesco Kids Ashbrook mountain spring water", with a checkbox by "Suitable for lunchboxes", and the text "English still natural mineral water".

However, they are not going overboard - they have a few caveats to be aware of: "Cap not suitable for children under 36 months as it contains small parts".

They are kind enough to offer a serving suggestion: "Serve chilled." - wow, I would never have thought of that one, thanks. I was thinking of converting it to steam.

The Now Show also had the quote (from when Posh and Becks apparently couldn't find anywhere to keep their thrones a few years ago): "People who live in crass houses shouldn't stow thrones" - pun, satire and spoonerism in one line!

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Wed 24th 2006 May: Java still not "Free" or "Open Source"

Stallman has provided a very clear and simple summary of the Sun "release" of Java. Personally, I have not looked into it in too much detail, but what Stallman says here sounds (even more than usually) simple, consistent and coherent.

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Wed 24th 2006 May: Windows Vista - more delays?

It looks like Vista could slip further beyond its current date of Jan 07... Ballmer said that they are discussing "early January, late January, February. We are on track for shipping early in the year".

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Tue 23rd 2006 May: Information vs. Knowledge

Andrew Orlowski has an interesting article on El Reg:

It starts out pretty slowly, with Orlowski doing his usual cynical stuff, but the final para of page one gets to the nub:

It isn't really a row about identity, or even books, but about reading and learning. Kelly is confident that skim-reading gobbets of facts is better. In this, he's simply repeating one of the technology utopians most basic mistakes, which is to confuse information - which we have in abundance, and which clearly isn't making us smarter or more understanding - for knowledge. You've seen this mistake made many times, most recently with Wikipedia.

Unfortunately, Orlwoski goes downhill in the second section. This particular quote seemed worth... erm, quoting, though.

Tell me again what the social benefit of blogging is?

Orlowski says something; I quote it (to a far smaller audience); the benefit to the world is ................. ?

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Tue 23rd 2006 May: Tracking added

I'm not sure of the word, so I made one up... "tracking".

I need to add a '"watch / unwatch" this post' feature, but for now, if you have posted a reply, then you will get an email when there is a new post to the thread.

If you want to be unsubscribed, then... er, well, there aren't many people on the list right now - just email me and I'll make sure that you are not listed.

Long-term, I suppose that we need an option of subscribing to ("watching") a thread when posting, along with unsubscribing when not interested.

At the same time, I strongly suspect that if an account (and corresponding email) wasn't necessary, then this would not get hugely spammed, being a bespoke solution, then I should also be working out systems of anonymous postings. Anon + Subscription doesn't compute, so Anon posters are effectively a single poster with no email address - just a slightly special case.


Sun 21st 2006 May: Spammers fight back

Saw this on BlueSecurity, who offered BlueFrog software which would automatically hit a spam-promoted company's website with an opt-out message (they had nearly half a million customers, so the idea is that the spam-promoted firm see the error of their ways (more likely than a spammer seeing the error of their ways) and stop using spammers for their promotions)

The spammers fought back - apparently BlueSecurity offer a "feature" whereby a list can be cleansed of BlueFrog subscribers - the "grep -v" of which would naturally provide a list of subscribers (not smart, BlueFrog). So the spammers started hitting the subscribers with messages saying that BlueSecurity/BlueFrog was illegal, and it all started getting quite interesting from then on .... It's a 4-page article, and whilst it only starts getting interesting on pages 3 and 4, you need to read the first two pages first.

It reminds me of Cliff Stoll's "Cuckoo's Egg" book, in that an awful lot of pretty clever elimination of red-herrings had to be done to find out what was actually happening, and what was causing the domain to apparently drop off the internet.

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Sat 20th 2006 May: Lordi win the Eurovision Song Contest

GWAR / Slipnot-styled Finnish metal band Lordi won this year's Eurovision Song Contest with their wonderful song, "Hard Rock Hallelujah" ... Eurovision gets more bizarre every year!


Wed 17th 2006 May: Google Web Toolkit

Google have released a Google AJAX Toolkit - a framework to help you build AJAX applications. It includes some proprietary binary-only stuff, but it does do some pretty cool stuff.. the Kitchen Sink example shows all items in the toolkit.

Slashdot are discussing it.

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Mon 15th 2006 May: SEO Competition

It seems that an SEO site,, arranged a competition back in January: Become the top hit on Google for a nonexistant search term: v7ndotcom elursrebmem (you will notice that this translates as " members rule") won the prize, against more than 4 million entries on Google.

Part of me wants to praise the achievement (and the competition overall, for not taking over any existing namespace, but making up a new search term for the competition); another part of me feels like these guys are just showing off their ability to skew search results for the rest of us.

What do you think?

I guess that's just another item on my "TODO" list: Add a voting option to this ere bloggy thing :-(

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Mon 15th 2006 May: Decimal to Binary

I got my degree at the Uni of Herts; the token mad-scientist professor there was known as Boggle... it seems that he's got an interesting way of working out the binary equivalent of a decimal - for example:

To convert 87 to binary:


The trick here is that (working right to left) you keep halving the number (round down if odd) until you get to 1, and then mark any odd numbers as "1", and any even numbers as "0". This gives you 1010111, or 87.

Maybe this is widely known, but this strikes me as a new and interesting way of looking at it.


Sun 14th 2006 May: The WishList needs some RSS (or does it?)

I plan to have a single "" login, but I'm to disorganised to sort it out.

I've tied-in the wishlist and urandom login IDs, but it's not exactly integration.

So here's a thought: I had no idea that Andy had a new WishList. Therefore, the WishList should create some new RSS.... However, most of our friends and family aren't in the habit of subscribing to RSS feeds.

I suppose the WishList stuff could have an RSS feed in its default announce email; when I create a new WishList account, I can tell people of the RSS feed. When I add items to any WishList, or create a new WishList, I can add items to the RSS feed.

I reckon that being three categories, really:
(a) Get a WishList account: Create an RSS feed ("Bob has a Wish List")

(b) Create a new WishList: Update the RSS feed ("Bob has a Christmas WishList")

(c) This, in turn, would lead to subscribers getting updates ("Bob's Birthday WishList included 'The Curious Incident...' - this is now marked as 'Reserved'")

Or am I just getting intoxicated on this whole RSS thingy?

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Sun 14th 2006 May: RSS Tidied Up

The RSS has been tidied up, should provide more features, and work a little bit better than before. When (oh go on then, let's say "if") you have problems with it, just give me a shout ;-)


Sun 14th 2006 May: More RSS games

More games with RSS... I admit that I haven't ever tried an RSS reader other than Mozilla Thunderbird, which obligingly loads the referred page.

So now I've got Liferea, which seems to require HTML in the RSS <description> tag, so here goes; this one should be HTMLified.

This could get interesting; I want stuff like links (such as the one above to Liferea) to be treated properly; I also want line-breaks converted to BR tags (thanks, "nl2br()"), but I also want stuff like bold text or italic text to be displayed appropriately, also. Let's see what happens ...


Sun 14th 2006 May: Playing games with RSS

With a little help from, we should now have a bit more detail to the RSS:

Global Unique ID / Permalink flag

Of course, the last change I made the other day took 9 updates to actually get working, so I'm sure this won't work really ;-)

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Fri 12th 2006 May: With a little handwaving ...

So everything is now as it should be, and anybody who actually subscribes to this feed will now be fully educated as to how inept I really am ;-)

On the one hand, I don't make any claims to be any kind of "Web 2.0 Badger" but at least I've been honest - I could have deleted the dodgy posts, but I'm - oh wait, this is another bad thing - I'm too lazy to even delete my own mistakes!

So, it's a fair cop guv, I can even break LAMP. New challenges are welcome: If you can think of something more straightforward than a LAMP system which I could break, please send emails to the obvious address ;-)


Fri 12th 2006 May: 6 + 3?!?

So, after six test runs on the dev box, surely 3 test runs on the live box is the limit???

No, I don't have the file permissions set up exactly the same on the two systems :-(

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Fri 12th 2006 May: Ahem

And sure enough, here comes the next post... the webserver doesn't run as me ;-)

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Fri 12th 2006 May: Spanish Grand Prix

As the Spanish Grand Prix looms this weekend, let's all join together in getting overexcited when Jenson Button puts in an impressive display in Saturday's qualifying session only to finish out of the points (if at all) on Sunday. ;-(

And no, this post isn't at all an excuse to check the new code to automate creation of the RSS feed - er, but if it doesn't work, expect another post coming soon ;-)

Anyway, that's enough smileys for one post...

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Fri 12th 2006 May: Keyboard for touch-typists

Das Keyboard - a totally black keyboard. No, not what you're thinking; it's totally black.

... Slashdot featured it (and, of course, in fine Slashdot tradition, it was a duplicate).

As Nigel Tufnell famously said: "None more black"

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Thu 11th 2006 May: Welcome to the Scene

The Scene was plugged on Slashdot (and, I'm sure elsewhere) when it was launched back in March 2005. It's still running, and episode 20 is out today. I watched a few episodes when it was launched, with the assumption that it's RIAA propaganda, telling the kiddies that if you upload movies then you will end up in jail - whilst episode 18(?) was a fly-on-the-wall meeting within the FBI, there have been no real consequences so far; It's created by the Jun group, a marketing organisation, so presumably somebody is paying them to "virally market" some point or other. I still don't know what, though - teenagers into downloading movies don't seem likely to keep attention on a 20 (so far) episode series over the course of 14 months and counting.

I'm sure we'll get to the point in the end - in the meantime, it's an interesting format, just looking at peoples' desktops as they chat on IRC (occasionally email) with an inset video clip of their face as they read and type. They seem to be getting a bit stuck with this restriction; a few times the characters have made phone calls, but there has only once to date been more than one person in the room, and the camera angle never changes during the episode.

The spoof site ran for a while; I'm not sure that those college students really understood the point, either - in fact, the main guy seems to have graduated now. However, they do understand the scene far better than I do (an old fart of 33, I know nothing).

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Sat 6th 2006 May: Calculate Download Times

A few times recently, I've wanted to work out how long it would take to download a certain sized file over a given link to the internet... I would have thought that there'd be tons of these things, but I've just had another look, and found a decent (and actually pretty simple) javascript calculator, with all the appropriate caveats about real-life expectations ... and the website claims to run on FBAMP (??) - FreeBSD/Apache/MySQL/Perl!

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Fri 5th 2006 May: Naval Comms

The Royal Naval Communications Chiefs' Association's website is It's nice to see that the navy comms chiefs take security seriously.

(Thanks for the link,!)

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Wed 3rd 2006 May: Dodgy Spreadsheets

The Register are reporting that the likelihood of a spreadsheet being buggy is between 78%-98%

Given that spreadsheet formulae are generally written by non-programmers, this seems rather optimistic.

I have seen a number of spreadsheets with very complex, interlinking formulae, all written by non-programmers, lacking the programming credentials required to create such code... it is a good point, and quite well made.

Many people daily use Excel as a programming language, without the benefit of any programming abilities. If anything, it is surprising that The Register only provided one example (albeit a $1bn example) of a major cost associated with spreadsheet bugs.

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Mon 1st 2006 May: Snooker

Ebdon - so close to making a comeback. Graeme Dott looked like he was losing his great 15-7 lead, but he managed to win the World Championship. Peter Ebdon put up a fantastic fight, making a really good comeback, but his opponent's lead was too strong. To give him credit, he did acknowledge Peter's skill; Ebdon also acknowledged that Graeme "thoroughy deserved it".

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