This weekend, I indulged in the popular pastime of "formatting the hard disk and reinstalling the operating system". The machine in question had been accruing cruft for about 6 years, so it was probably about time, although the act was finally prompted by some particularly inadvisable malware tinkering.

As I went through the usual setting of options, installation of important software, and disabling of the usual irritants (if I have a "recycle bin", then I really don't need a confirmation dialogue every time I delete something), my mind returned to the question of exactly how much time it takes to turn a fresh install into something usable. Even just installing all the service packs and 'critical updates' takes several hours and half a dozen reboots.

Which in turn made me think of the new US President. As far as I can tell from the news reports, he has been reconfiguring his country. Enabling the FOIA that was disabled by the previous user; removing the Guantanamo extension, and so on. Wonder how long all that will take.

More misplaced messages

Please claim these if they are yours:


Great speaking with you today again, and I look forward to reviewing your resume and speaking with you more in depth on Friday. Have a great week.

and also

DR. Cody:

No I didn't -- and don't call me cody.


Academic Spammer

More spam continues to pour in from professional Spammer Nikos Mastorakis. You can always tell real serious spam from the casual mailing list junk, because it addresses you by name, and makes weaselly suggestions, like "We would like to add you as an invited speaker". These people are the sleaziest, lowest of the low. I wish they would all get lost. I have tried to unsubscribe, as usual, and will see if it has any effect whatsoever.

More misdirected mail

Further dispatches from my Inbox:

"Hello Ms.Cyndy ,

I am a new graduate student in the department of Electrical Engineering. I have been advised to meet Dr.Tamal Bose by Cynthia Hopkins. I would like to discuss about my courses and research prospects. So in this regard i would like to have an appointment with him. Any time on thursday and friday would be fine with me.

Thank you

And also:

Re: I have sent you an e-card
> To view the card please click the following link:
> http://www.ecards.co.uk/display_Ecard.php?ecard=2_KmZcb3E56Kw7

Thanks for my card lovey. I have sent a picture of Clare and Eva.

Hi love hope you are having a good day. mads has gone to her swimming lesson with your Mum. She is good at swimming, especially jumping in. She likes to try and get the teacher wet who is standing on the side!

see you tomorrow Cxx

And also:

Hi Gra
Hope all ok with you and that you are having a good week.

We are all trying hard to keep warm - had to scrape the car this afternoon - and it ws only 3.30 - shows how flippin freezing it is!!!!!
Haven't got any gossip - Emily is pondering what to do for her birthday - so far we've only had about 12 million conversations about it!!!!
Take care
Love Julia XXXX

Also on the subject of the weather:

Dear Graham,

I'm just getting ready to come and visit you. It's very cold and grey here, hope it's sunnier in Harrow.

I went shopping with Susan yesterday in Bury St. Edmund's, but managed NOT to buy anything. I was too cold to look.

Looking forward to seeing you soon.
Lots of Love
Mum and Dad,

All fascinating, eh?


Narked Video

I mentioned the new VOD system on Continental 757s before I left, and I got another chance to have a go on it on the return trip. It was an even more surreal experience second time around. This time it only crashed once (requiring about ten minutes for a reboot), and when it did crash I was only a few minutes into the start of a film, so could recover fairly easily. But this time the choice of movies was even more odd and arbitrary. So odd that I took the effort to write them down. The 19 (what, 19? Surely that is too many for any human to contemplate?) film choices were:
  1. Bachelor Mother (1939)
  2. Bottle Shock (2008)
  3. Fred Claus (2007)
  4. Ghost Town (2008)
  5. Happy Feet (2006)
  6. Ocean's Eleven (1960)
  7. The House Bunny (2008)
  8. The Mummy 3: Dragon Emperor (2008)
  9. Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants 2 (2008)
  10. The Women (2008)
  11. Austin Powers 3 (2002)
  12. Bullitt (1968)
  13. Catch Me If You Can (2002)
  14. It's a wonderful life (1946)
  15. Philadelphia (1993)
  16. Rebel without a cause (1955)
  17. Spiderman (2002)
  18. Spiderman 2 (2004)
  19. Walk the line (2005)
It's hard to put a finger on, but there's something truly odd about this list. It's a balance of recent dreck, mediocre movies and some older movies. But whose idea was it to put "Rebel without a cause" on the list? Why begin the list with a nearly 70 year old rom-com that no-one's ever heard of? I found the whole experience quite odd and baffling.

Obligatory End of Year Wrap Up Post

In 2008, I wasn't organized enough to keep a list of which books I read as I did in 2007, but it was probably rather less than 50. But, thanks to Netflix, I am able to easily recover a list of which films made it through my rather idiosyncratic random selection system again. So here they are, along with my sardonic short reviews:

  1. Man on Wire: not to be confused with Man on Fire.
  2. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer: Completely unmemorable
  3. Porco Rosso: You'll believe a pig can fly!
  4. The Yes Men: Pranksters take down the WTO
  5. Kevin Smith 2: Evening Harder: Disc 1: Diminishing returns
  6. Man on Fire: not to be confused with Man on Wire
  7. Wishful Thinking: irredeemable weak rom-com
  8. A Few Good Men: the truth hurts
  9. Helvetica: You'll believe a font can love!
  10. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: can't get you out of my head
  11. The Cat's Meow: the truth Hearst
  12. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End: and don't come back
  13. Collateral: Damaged thriller
  14. Adaptation: A proper Charlie
  15. Chasing Amy: If you seek Amy?
  16. Quadrophenia: Where do the Who live?
  17. The Sting: Call the police!
  18. Blade: Good clean Vampire fun
  19. The Cheap Detective: The Falk Guy
  20. Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic: Same jokes, different order
  21. Steamboy: Steam punk
  22. The Collected Shorts of Jan Svankmajer: Eat my shorts!
  23. Ralph Nader: An Unreasonable Man: You'll believe a man can lose an election
  24. Howl's Moving Castle: More Miyazaki Madness
  25. King Kong: Gorilla goes Ape
  26. D.E.B.S.: Oddly positioned lesbian love story
  27. The Godfather: not the head you want to be given
  28. Sketches of Frank Gehry: mind the sharp edges
  29. All the President's Men: the truth brings down the pres
  30. Street Fight: dirty politics in Newark
  31. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: best fillibuster in movie history
  32. North by Northwest: crop-duster
  33. Lost in Translation: Come again?
  34. Ocean's Twelve: A sequel too far
  35. Van Helsing: Mindless action
  36. Maxed Out: apparently we're borrowing too much
  37. Why We Fight: to feed the military-industrial complex
  38. Silent Running: psychopath murders crew in space
  39. Starter for Ten: UBris hubris


It took me a couple of listens before I noticed the rather staggeringly puerile single entendre in Britney's "If You Seek Amy". I must be getting older. I suppose it's destined to remain an album track, unless someone decides to edit it into something else ("If see ukulele", maybe?). You can listen to it care of YouTube, and enjoy the almost witless user comments. Bet Kevin Smith is wishing he'd called his film "Seeking Amy" instead, though.