Thu, 11 May 2006
Herts LUG 20060510
The LUG has been suffering from poor attendance
of late and this was putting our residency at the community centre at risk as the normal
subs would not cover the cost. Nicolas
suggested that if enough people were prepared to club together and put in £15 each we could get
booked for the next 12 meetings. I think there were about 10 of us there, plus a couple were sending
cheques, so we are secure for now. Although the group used to meet in a pub before I joined,
it's much better to have a place where you can set up computers with internet access.
I introduced a new member to the group. I found Rob
as his site, like mine, has GeoURL data. The LUG site also gained this
feature recently. If you use Firefox, then you should look at
GeoURL Extension and/or
Greasemap to make use of GeoURL.
Malcolm volunteered to give an introduction to
the GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program). He had a bit of help from
others, but this was very educational for me as I had only used it in a very limited way for resizing
and cropping images. I shall be experimenting further in future.
I managed to gain at least one more signature on my GPG key. I hope to
gain more at future meetings. I'm way behind people I know of with hundreds of signatures, but it all helps
to build the Web of Trust.
This post includes some extra semantic detail in the form of XFN
tags on some links. These indicate how well I know the people. My friends list on my site already
has these, and the information is repeated in my FOAF file.
display all the relationships on a web page.
Mon, 08 May 2006
Half a Life
As I reach a certain significant age I get to thinking about how short-lived most
of our possesions are. I do have a few items that have been with me for around
half my life time.
- Gordon Smith GS2 guitar. My second electric.
- Clairol hairdryer. Actually this just died and has been replaced.
- Swiss Army knife. I've had mine since I was
14 or 15. Some of the tools are a bit damaged, but it's still useful.
- T-shirts. Getting a bit thin now and just used for rough, but I still have
some old Queen shirts.
- Sanyo portable stereo. Bought before I went off to poly and provided my
sounds for many years afterwards.
- Citizen watch. A post-degree gift. Getting a bit battered, but still keeps good time. One of these
days I may treat myself to a decent new watch.
There's probably a few other items that have hung around that long, but may just
be stored away somewhere. It seems that most electrical items are doing well to last
half as long as the above if that. As for computers, three years and some will
consider them redundant. Mine are slightly older than that.
Updated 8/5/06 to add watch
Wed, 03 May 2006
I know lots of other people have mentioned this, including the
but I still think there is a certain coolness about the fact that in
just over three hours it will be 01:02:03 on 04/05/06. I know it's just
numbers, but I like patterns. I'm not geeky enough to plan on staying
up to witness this moment.
And of course tomorrow is also Star Wars Day. May the 4th be with you.
Update on the telescope is that we all had a look at the moon this evening.
It's only a cresent at the moment, and it wasn't even fully dark, but we still
had a great close-up view of the craters. We even used the extra eyepiece to get
a closer view, but focusing got a bit tricky. I'm sure I haven't even got the
telescope properly mounted on the tripod as the fine adjusters are tricky to
use. Still, we are making progress.
Mon, 01 May 2006
Eye to the Telescope
album, a fine work. We recently acquired a
Newtonian reflector type
telescope. This should allow us a close-up view of the moon, stars and planets.
We just need to learn how to use it properly. It came without instructions,
so I am scouring the web for useful information.
How much we can observe from home may be limited by all the artificial light around us.
It's a struggle to even see the
Milky Way. I'm waiting for the moon
to be properly visible so we can check out the craters.
Thu, 20 Apr 2006
Fixed the Book List
Further to my previous
comment I managed to get the book list working properly with some help from the author,
Will Guaraldi. The main problem was that the documentation on
the wiki was out of line with the latest code. He's fixed that now. I've added a new item to my sidebar
to show my latest books and links to the full list.
Money to Burn
I saw my first £1 Litre of diesel this week. 100.9p at the Hendon Way BP.
I suspect they have been trying to delay going to triple digit pence, but had to give in. I filled up for a penny
less elsewhere. I could have got cheaper if I could have waited, but I was getting very low on fuel. I don't
generally drive further for cheaper fuel, but usually hang on if I know it's cheaper further along my
While I'm on the subject of prices, why do we have to have .9 or .99 prices everywhere? Are people really
fooled into thinking it's so much cheaper? For a TV to cost £499.99 rather than £500 is silly, but for a
magazine to cost £3.99 is a pain as you just end up with loads of pennies if you pay cash. If it's less than
1% of the price I just don't care about the odd penny. With fuel you are dealing with tenths of a penny.
I expect the argument will be that nobody wants to be first to make the change.
The fact that everything is priced at these artificial numbers shows how contrived pricing is. Prices are
rounded up to whatever it is though the market will bear. Some internet retailers are going against this
and pricing at the minimum they can sustain as they know people are using comparison sites to find the
lowest possible price. I buy most major items on-line these days in order to save a few quid and to avoid
having to trail around all the shops.
Tue, 18 Apr 2006
I've looked at a few options for recording what books I've read. I have registeed with some on-line
services such as LibraryThing
and Reader2. There is also
BookCrossing that can be used for similar
I've been writing reviews on this site for a while, but I wanted something I could control that
would apply a little more structure, whilst making it easier to provide Amazon links that will
benefit Gothic Mede Lower School if anyone uses them to buy
I am currently experimenting with a Pyblosxom plugin called
Booklist. This allows
you to compile a list of books in a text file and will generate a nice page like
this via a template file.
I'm using his example template for now and have not quite worked out how to get the Amazon link to
work, but I will investigate further. I've already updated the Python source code to get the book covers
from the European site rather than the US one.
I can see for miles
For most of my life I've had to wear glasses to compensate for my extreme
. This is not a problem
in my day to day life. I've worn contact lenses in the past for reasons of
looking better in my younger days and later for safety when practicing
, but have got out
of that habit lately. The time when glasses are really a pain is when I
am swimming. I can wear old glasses to allow me to see what is going on,
but these do no good underwater and can get dislodged.
Before our holiday I invested in some
(mine came from the local Boots)
that come in various strengths, mine being the maximum in the range. They have
transformed my swimming. I can now do proper breaststroke without losing my
glasses and have been attempting crawl with a few issues on the breathing. They also
allow me to see underwater and keep up with my daughter who likes to spend more
time under the water than on top. The goggles made my holiday more enjoyable by
allowing me to keep an eye on the kids whilst swimming and still have some fun.
Mon, 17 Apr 2006
Just spent a week with the whole family in sunny Spain. Flew out
, but they are not so cheap
if you have to travel during the easter school holiday. Stayed at a
courtesey of my parents. Nice enough place for chilling out and taking a swim.
We spent some time in the outdoor pool and on the beach.
I organised a couple of golf lessons for Tanya at
La Quinta. She enjoyed it and is
showing a disturbing tendency to want to take it further. What have I done?
We sampled some of the local culture when we dined in Marbella old town where
we saw their Semana Santa
procession. As they do this all through easter week every year you would think that
they would be better practiced at getting a large sculpture though the narrow
streets. This is not helped by the mess of telephone cables strung randomly between
buildings. Still, it was impressive, especially when the drum bands made the whole
We took a drive up to Ronda. This is
reached from the coast via 40km of the twistiest road I have ever driven, peaking at
over 1000m. The town itself is an impressive feat of architecture with houses clinging
to the sides of the ravine. We took a look around gardens of the Moorish King's House.
This includes a set of steps that take you all the way down to the river through the
cliff. My legs are still recovering from that.
We spent our final day in Malaga
doing touristy things like checking out the castle and cathedral then taking a ride
in a horse-drawn carriage.
We rented a Ford Fiesta from doyouspain.com. Reasonable
rates, but be prepared for a long queue at the airport as everyone likes a good deal.
Those of my friends and family with appropriate permissions can see some pictures on
Yesterday I was back at Secret Bass for some
drum therapy. Only five of us there, but we still managed to make a good racket.
Wed, 05 Apr 2006
Green Wing and other TV
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is back for a second series on Channel 4. If you haven't seen it I would describe it
as a combination of sketch show and slightly surreal sitcom. It's set in a hospital, but it's
all about the antics of the staff, rather than what they do to patients. It may be hard to follow
if you didn't catch the first series, but the site has an episode guide that may help.
I've not been watching much else on TV lately apart from the excellent
Mark Steel Lectures and the awesome
It's Not Easy Being Green on BBC2 is an interesting view of someone trying to establish
a more sustainable lifestyle, but so far most of what they are doing is not very
applicable to the average household. How many of us have a handy stream to run a waterwheel?
We try to do our bit by recycling and reducing energy usage, but things like having to have two
cars to get us to work are not so good.
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