Where Am I?

First, a big F.U. to public internet services that block port 22 so I can't check my email on them. And you call yourself a library.

Now, more for my benefit than anyone else's, my itinerary for the next fortnight:

Sat: Maidstone London Oxford
Sun: Oxford London Maidstone
Mon: Maidstone Cambridge Stansted Rome
Tue: Rome Elba
Weds - Fri: Elba
Sat: Elba Rome Stanstead London
Sun: London Maidstone
Mon: Maidstone
Tue: Maidstone Dorking
Wed: Dorking Gatwick Newark NJ

It might be possible to contact me somewhere along the way, although for the above reasons email not so good, so phone may be more reliable.


Search me (volume 97)

Quick splutter with regards to some recent interesting search queries, ranked in order of my personal private preference

#1 nob lolly
#2 george formby the wanker song
#3 bloggs killed google
#4 arsse plane
#5 pictures of sarah champion

That's all.

Are you dead yet?

A reminder to my dogged if dimwitted readership that I'm off on my travels to Yerp today, and hence will not be bothered about writing anything here if there's any way I can avoid it. So talk amongst yourselves, and if you are good, then maybe I'll see you in June.

Oh, and re: previous post, see also Gmailswap.com. About 5 pico seconds ahead of the meme there, I was.


I have no friends and neither does anyone I know

I was idly browsing eBay to see what the going rate is for a Gmail account. Turns out people are selling their invitations their for $10 to $40 a pop. Not a bad idea: you are part of the Internet mafia, with more free email accounts than you could possibly need, and the arrogant hipsters of Google Inc. aren't giving out their email accounts to just anyone, so you cash in, and start selling of those Gmail invitations that are flooding into your inbox. Neat, eh?

But in the course of this, I found an even more pathetic set of auctions: people selling invitations to Orkut. Yes, that's right folks: you can buy someone's fake, internet only friendship for the cut down price of a dollar-fifty. Doesn't that give you a warm fuzzy feeling inside, that the internet can bring people together, and connect them up in this way?


War stories

Speaking about the Daily Mirror fake photos scandal, army officials quoted in the guardian as saying:

"Brig Sheldon said "people's lives have been placed in jeopardy by what has proved to be nonsense".

Colonel David Black, a former commanding officer of the regiment, said: "It is time that the ego of one editor is measured against the life of a soldier. It is up to the readership, the board of directors and the shareholders to put pressure on to get an apology."

Um... hasn't anyone noticed that these photos were faked by people, presumably members of this regiment? Shouldn't they take some of the responsibility?

Interlude: this website is very confusing. There's a big billboard advertising it on my way to work. This is far too subtle for most people. It's right next to the billboard with my favourite advert: "Comfort Suites only $59 / night. 10% off with this ad". I'll try to take a picture some time.

Heard a US chappy on the radio this week talking about the trouble in Iraq. He said that the problems were being caused by "a disenfranchised minority".

Um, in case you haven't noticed, they don't seem to be having any elections in Iraq at the moment. So, technically, the entire country is disenfranchised...

Perhaps they should just have taken a leaf out of Las Vegas's book:
"What happens in Abu Ghraib, stays in Abu Ghraib"...

Why I hate bloggers

Bloggers are very arrogant, self-centered people who refuse to abide by social conventions. For example -- have you ever noticed how they always insist on top-posting?

Ich Bin, Du Bist

Walked past a magazine store, and was stopped in my tracks by the sight of a magazine cover emblazoned with a picture of the Hilton sisters and a rather stark message: "Die Hiltons"! (attempt to paste image here, although it will probably break in time:

Of course, it was a German magazine, but it still gave pause for thought.


My Bios won't flash

After a fairly frustrating time, I'm giving up with trying to reflash the bios on my mod chip, and think of some new way to get streaming media onto my TV. This is quite annoying, technology failing to live up to its potential even after being hit with a hammer (repeatedly).

So to distract myself from the shortcomings of electronics, I spent the weekend in the catskills with mysterious other. The Catskills are great, because if you repeat it over and over you find that you are saying "Kills Cats". There weren't actually any cats up there, though. Perhaps they had all been killed. Maybe Quentin Tarantarantarantarntino should have sponsored them to change their name to the Billskills for his new flim.

The main reason I'm posting, apart from to remind myself that I'm not dead, is to comment on the changes here at blogspot/blogger. Lots of people who use this website to write blogs have posted about these changes, which essentially mean that exactly the same empty content that they had before will look slightly different. One of the big changes is to automatically integrate a comments option on posts. Of course, I will not be enabling this. There is already a perfectly good comments mechanism for this non-blog: if you have some comment on any posting, then write it out on a post it note, and stick it to your monitor just below the relevant section. If you are sufficiently arrogant that you think the whole world needs to hear what you have to say about something I have written involving a bad pun and irritation about automatically flushing toilets, then invite them round to your house, and show them the posting with the comment post-it note underneath. If you think I must also witness your flailing, then you may peel off the post-it note and send it to me in an envelope. I will then look at this, laugh at your stupid waste of time, then crush the thing in my hand whilst grinning maniacly (to grin maniacly: eg, to assume the facial arrangement of Tony Blair, MP, PM, bah). What could be simpler?


That which does not kill you can still hurt

I've always been annoyed with the phrase "that which does not kill us makes us stronger" or similar. That simply isn't true. For example, consider being punched repeatedly in the face. This normally does not kill you, but does leave you in a considerably weakened state. I suppose that this is meant to refer to things like catching measles where, if you don't die from the measles, then after you recover then you are immune to catching measles again and hence are in some sense stronger. But this doesn't seem like a general principle, but rather a particular situation. And there aren't all that many situations like that.

One case where this might apply has occurred to me recently. I cycle to work along a fairly busy road, on which there has been ongoing building work for ages now. The road used to be quite pleasant to cycle along, because although it was quite busy, it had wide shoulders, so I could cycle along in these and let the traffic whizz past me in the main lanes. But recently, they have narrowed the road to do something strange to it, leaving room for only two lanes of traffic, with no shoulders. The first day after this happened, I was cycling along to one side of the road as usual, when an enormous lorry came thundering past with a few inches to spare, causing me to wobble, and almost come off the road into the adjacent hillside. After recovering my poise, I shook my fist at the departing truck [Ed: actually, he stuck his finger up and shouted that the driver enjoyed sex without a partner].

So, since then I have been adopting a more aggressive mode of travel: instead of cycling along the side of the road, giving the impression that it is possible to pass me, I cycle along in the middle of the lane as if to say "Don't fuck with me". Then, if some idiot does try to overtake, I do at least have a larger safety margin. But still, when you are chugging along at 10mph, and there's an enormous truck breathing down on you, it's certainly an incentive to pick up the speed and get along to the section of road where it widens again and the hulk can safely pass. Hence, I've been really exercising myself along these parts (about a mile or so). The upshot being, that if I don't end up being mangled to death under an eighteen-wheeler, then I will end up being stronger. But only in this case, and not in all other situations.


Hanging on the telephone...

This morning I have been enlivening my life by sticking around in telephone hell. Three simple tasks, all frustrated to greater or lesser extent by incompetency, bureaucracy, stupid rules, laziness, and automatic telephone systems.

1. Pay off old bill. Found out by inspection of a credit report that I had some outstanding charge from a gas company that my housemates had neglected to pay off while they were still living there (I moved out early). Resign self to paying the trifling amount. Attempt to pay off this amount. Get the phone call run around: call one number, get redirected to another number. Call them. They don't have the account any more, it was taken back. And so on. I want to give these people money. Is it really so hard for them to accept it? Still haven't managed to pay it off yet.

2. Get what I paid for. In March: order some computer gubbins. Package arrives, containing wrong (and cheaper) gubbins. After several weeks, finally get an RMA number and return the item. Now, call company repeatedly to try to get acknowledgement that they have some intention of sending the correct item. Get to sit through two minutes of recorded announcements and menus before being dropped into voicemail. Repeatedly. Yawn.

3. Try to get a driving licence. People repeatedly express amazement that I can live in New Jersey and don't drive. It turns out that it is bureaucratically impossible for me to get a licence here. In order to get a licence, I need to get a permit from the DMV. Of course, I'm not allowed to go to the local service center, because I am an alien, and therefore dangerous. So I call up to see if anyone in DMV central knows what I have to do (of course, the charming website has no information about any of this, but experience of friends tells me that I can't trust their lies). It turns out that you can't get a new licence if you have less than 1 year remaining on your visa. And, my visa is issued 1 year at a time. So in fact, it is not possible for me to break through this bureaucracy and get a permit, and hence not possible for me to drive in New Jersey, until I get a new visa with more than one year on it. Roll on the H1-B, I say.

I'm a baggage handler and I'm OK

In the course of dealing with the frankly abysmal Argentina Airlines (don't use them folks, the suck) in search of my lost luggage, I have found out the following about the life of a lost luggage agent:

  • They get in to work after 10am
  • They leave before 4.30pm
  • They take lunch between noon and 3pm
  • They are absolutely fucking useless at actually finding your lost bags

Sounds like not a bad job really -- all you have to do in the few scant hours that you are at work is to answer phone calls from irate customers, and explain that they haven't found your bags, and in some way intimate that it is the customers fault that the bags got lost, rather than the airlines. Also express surprise that anything of value was stored in the bags, as if to entrust anything more valuable than a set of old handkerchiefs to the baggage handlers was an act of supreme idiocy.

Anyway, this rant on the subject of lazy indolent and incompetent people is distracting me from my intending rant on the subject of toilets that flush. I don't know if you are familiar with this phenomenon, but there is a growing trend to fit toilets in public places with automatic flushing devices. That is, they have some sort of infrared device that detects when you aren't there any more, and they flush the device. This works fine on most urinals, but for some reason, they are also attached to water closets.

This is incredibly stupid and incredibly annoying. Picture the scene. You sit down, make yourself comfortable, lean forward a little in order to... and SWOOSH! the thing flushes itself. You tense up and jump up to avoid being soaked. This would be fine if this was a bidet, but this is a toilet. You settle back down again, but the whole experience has ruined your concentration and you are unable to, um, go about your business. And this happens every time. What is so wrong about letting the user indicate when they are done with the toilet? If you want to go all high-tech, then you could attach the control to the toilet door, so that it automatically flushes when the door is unlocked. But this stupid infra-red thing is broken, and doesn't work. I have taken to covering over the sensor with toilet roll before settling down, but this is no solution.

I'm also annoyed because it's taken me nearly a month to get an invite to Gmail, and I thought I was well connected to the interweb world. Dammit, I even host this thing on blogspot, what more do they want? I don't even need another email account (1 measly gigabyte? This machine has quarter of a terabyte of storage on it), it's just the prestige thing. The only reason for using it is that I can take up a prime piece of namespace by hogging a desirable account name (my first name followed by my initial, which has been my user id at a couple of other places), and thus deny this to any other google fanboys. I probably won't even look at the account except to see how much spam it starts getting without being advertised. Doesn't even work in my browser, the piece of trash... even yahoo mail works in my browser. Even hotmail works in my browser! Even AOL... actually, don't be stupid, of couse I wouldn't use AOL, and I would not let anyone who uses AOL use my computer, in case they drool on the keyboard.

A Lucid Post

Just enough time to slip a quick real post in between the usual trash, and hope no one notices. Almost six months to the day after starting my job hunt, I accepted a new job offer on Friday. This will keep me in New Jersey for some time to come, although I'll probably move since I don't really fancy the prospect of having to drive forty miles a day to the new place. Let alone the prospect of having to learn how to drive.

Since I intend to leave as little incriminating evidence on the web about my activities as possible, I won't name the company, but for those in the know, their logo has been described as looking like a coffee mug stain. That should be enough to go on now. Or else, maybe I should make an encrypted zip file with their details in and post it here. No, just email me if you want to know what on earth I'm talking about. OK, this is getting boring now, I'll shut up and try to resume normal service.


Bon Bon Mots

Soundtrack: Placebo's 'Nancy Boy', sung to the tune of "She Bangs The Drum" by the Stone Roses (now that's a pair you're unlikely to hear on ISIHAC).

Inappropriate sexual metaphor of the day: "Why buy the milk, when you can have the cow for free?".

Important life messages to follow later.