Bog Roll ::

It's Not Magic, It's Work!

28 Sep 2006

Microsoft Exchange

I don't like Microsoft products. In my humble opinion most of them are over priced, most of them are buggy, and most of them are unreliable or positively dangerous. I don't believe that all Microsoft products have all these attributes, some of them aren't that bad in some respects, I'd happily buy a Microsoft mouse for example.

I reserve special hatred for Exchange/Outlook and Internet Explorer. I've already ranted at the pain and suffering caused by IE in the past, and as I no longer have to deal with it on a day to day basis anymore I don't care about it. I do have to work with Outlook/Exchange though, as this "product of Satan" is our corporate email standard.

Recently out Exchange server was "upgraded". This entailed replacing one over large Wintel PC, with an even larger one. The poor desktop people then had to log into each PC and manually rebuild the Outlook profiles. As a result we had several days of continuous email outage, and I have to use two computers now, as my normal PC wont send email, so I'm temporarily using a second to run Outlook until Microsoft can fix it...

For a multi-billion dollar corporation I find it sad and pathetic that our email is now so unreliable since the upgrade that third parties are now printing emails off and posting them via Royal Mail or fax to ensure that they arrive...


27 Sep 2006

Summer Holiday '06

Day 10

Today we cycled to Penmarc'h. On the tip of the coast there is a most impressive and beautiful lighthouse - Phare d'Eckmühl. The location isn't as impressive as many of the British lighthouses, it's just at the edge of town, but architecturally it's very impressive. You can see it clearly from Google Maps.

Day 11

Today we cycled to the Ile-Tudy, which isn't an island any more. Didn't do much else, spent a a few hours on a very big, pretty and mostly empty beach watching the world go by. In the evening, family came to visit and we went out for dinner in Pont-l'Abbé.

Day 12

No bike today! We drove to the fishing port of Guilvinec. It's a very busy and active place, with a fancy fish market that has a very good visitors centre and if you time it right, guided visits.


Home Server

Next year I may eventually break down and buy a new home server. The current antique Compaq is starting to feel a little slow at building web pages and it didn't have enough disk space to start with.

The next version of Debian will be out by then, so installing "Etch" on it will be good timing. Apparently the Vista debacle will mean a lot of cheap hardware after the Xmas season - which is predicted to be a buyers market, and things will only get better for buyers in the new year.


24 Sep 2006

More Damson Jam/Jelly

Making damson jelly is much easier than making jam. It's also pitiful yield - you throw away a lot of fruit pulp. Damsons also have an lot of pectin in them, so don't do what I did and boil them too long, or it sets like concrete. 1 Kg of juice and 1 kg of sugar filled 3.5x390g jam jars.

This afternoon we went to a friends and picked a 2.5 kg of Bramley apples. I washed the last 2 kg of damsons and added 1 kg of semi-cleaned apples (including cores and skin but not any rotten bits). I put both fruits into a pan and boiled with 1 l of water to a mushy pulp. I then coarsely filtered out the skin, core and seeds, and put the pulp back into the (cleaned) jam pan. To the 2 kg of pulp I added 2 kg of sugar and boiled up to the setting point. This almost filled 10x390 g jam jars.

Of the three methods stoning damsons is labour intensive, but it's a nice jam. Making jelly is easier but you waste a lot of pulp. The middle method of making a pulp and then filtering out the coarse bulk gives you better yields than a jelly alone and but it's obviously not as clear as a true jelly.


22 Sep 2006

Damson Jam

Today I completed my first batch of damson jam using the French jamming method. De-stoning damsons is very time consuming, so this method may be more appropriate for larger plums. Anyhow, 2 kg of de-stoned fruit and 2 kg of sugar filled 10x390 g jam jars.

At the moment I'm filtering damson pulp to make jelly tomorrow, it is going to be a lower yield but it is a much simpler method for dealing with damsons.


21 Sep 2006

Jamming Plums

There are several methods of jamming plums. Today we started on the French method. It's a bit labour intensive with Damsons but it is supposed to make the best plum jam.

French Method

  • Wash the fruit
  • Remove the stones
  • Mix the fruit in a container with an equal weight of sugar
  • Leave fruit in the sugar for 12 hours to a day
  • Tip the mixture into a jamming pan and bring to the boil
  • Watch out prunes stick easily and can burn
  • Continue to boil until you reach the jamming point ~15-20min
  • Pot while hot into sterile jars

English Method

  • Wash the fruit
  • Put the fruit in a jamming pan with water
  • Heat until simmering, remove the stones as they float to the top
  • Add the sugar and bring back to the boil
  • Watch out prunes stick easily and can burn
  • Continue to boil until you reach the jamming point ~15-20min
  • Pot while hot into sterile jars

Ratios as you want, but try fruit:sugar:water 1.5:2.25:1.

Hedgerow Jelly

  • Wash the fruit*
  • Put your fruit in a pan with some water, heat and mash up
  • Filter fruit mush through a jelly bag slowly overnight
  • Add sugar 1:1 with juices and bring to boil in a jam pan
  • Continue to boil until you reach the jamming point ~15-20min
  • Pot while hot into sterile jars

* You can mix with other fruits such as elderberry, raspberry, rose hips, apples, blackberry or rowanberries.


20 Sep 2006

Plum Jam

On holiday I discovered the joys of Reins-Claude/Greengage (Prunus domestica 'Reine Claude') jam. On returning home I commented I would like to get hold of a few kilos of greengages to try and make my own to some friends over dinner.

Today a friend dropped off about 4kg of damsons (Prunus domestica var. insititia) - a smaller tarter variety of plum, so I'll have a go at jamming them later this week.


19 Sep 2006

Saving Money...

To please Wall Street our CFO has promised to cut back on spending and save the investors money. As a result, budgets have been trimmed and superfluous expenditure has been curtailed.

All the spending cuts have eaten into capital budgets and all sorts of projects are running on thin-air. Our share price has been lacklustre, so all these cuts make sense, even if they are making doing the day to day job harder.

Today we were all given a set of A5 notepads that had our own names printed on every page - in case we forget what we are called? I don't use note paper, I keep important notes in a book until they are transfered to a wiki or formal documentation, and all my scratch notes go onto the back of used A4 paper - the pile of which seems to forever grow larger. This must be some new meaning of saving money that I'm not familiar with.


Summer Holiday '06

Day 09

On a Sunday pretty much everything is closed, so we didn't do any shopping or touristy thing today. We decided to go and see a Pardon. It was a long bike ride through some very strange dry mist to this small village on the edge of the sea. When we got there, no one was in traditional Breton clothing, and it was very religious and boring so we left.

We tried to buy a crêpe in the village, but the service was so poor we left before placing our order. We cycled home in the failing light and had dinner in the tent instead.


17 Sep 2006

Summer Holiday '06

Day 06

Packed up the tent, strapped the bikes on the car and drove to Pont L'Abbeé. Finding the campsite took a while as michelin.fr put it in the totally wrong place. Anyhow after some messing about we found it by accident, as it was the end of the season we were pretty much the only people there. The site has a huge chestnut tree which is just visible on maps.google.com. In you ever want need a campsite in that part of the world Camping Les Châtaigniers is worth checking.

Day 07

We started the day by walking into town to hunt for a hotel for visiting relatives. In the afternoon we cycled to Sainte-Marine to check out the hotels there.

Day 08

Though it started nice, in the afternoon poured with rain. It was predicted, so instead of cycling to Quimper we went in the car. The city is very pretty, it has a wonkey cathedral with a 5% bend in the middle. After going about town we stopped off at Carrefour, the Armor-Lux factory shop and Decathlon on the way home.


Bandwidth Thieves

Some little twerps are stealing my bandwidth. One is some "kewel" French teenager on MySpace and the other is some Italian phpBB web site. They will be punished, I've just not decided what to do yet.


13 Sep 2006

Summer Holiday '06

Day 03

Today was a walking day, so we walked along the river Goyen to Pont-Croix a pretty fortified mediaeval town an hours walk from Audierne. It was a gloriously sunny day and an interesting walk along the river bank.

Day 04

A bit of a damp start so we didn't get out of the tent until lunch time. After lunch it picked up and we went for a bike ride to see the famous "Réserve Naturelle du Goulien Cap Sizun". The sea bird sanctuary is on a pretty piece of coast and is protected from development. Other than one or two seagulls we saw mostly pigeons and jackdaws. August evidently isn't the season for seabirds.

On the bike ride back we passed some impressive wind-turbines before entering appropriately named the village of Quatre Vents (Four Winds).

Day 05

We cycled to the coastal town of Douarnenez home of French sardine fishing and the Breton Kouign amann cake. It was a bit of a dull start to the day but warmed up after lunch. The port is the home of the excellent Port musée de Douarnenez, a fantastic boat museum - really well worth a visit. An unusable web site though so I've not bothered linking to it.


Summer Holiday '06

Day 01 (cont')

We went south from Audierne to have a look at a restored barrow and a small fishing harbour and beach. We found a large lizard in a bush growing on a sand dune.

Day 02

We biked to France's Lands End "Pointe du Raz" on Cap-Sizun. A gloriously sunny day and well worth the bike ride and the walk round the point. On the way back we stopped off in a local buicuiterie and got some Breton Palet biscuits.


11 Sep 2006

Summer Holiday '06

I just came back from my summer holiday in Brittany. As I didn't take any Internet connected device with me, these holiday entries are retrospective.

Day 00

We drove to Plymouth via the A303/A30. This road combination can only have been designed by an evil genius. It alternates between modern dual-carriage-ways, antique dual-carriage-ways and narrow twisty country lanes. The road is very heavily loaded with slow farm traffic, local and strategic traffic and an enormous number of slow moving car-caravan combinations.

We took the Brittany Ferries Pont L'Abbé ferry to Rosko (Roscoff). Unlike the rest of the fleet the Pont L'Abbé, is an antique second hand ferry and no way near as nice as the rest of the fleet. As a result we arrived partially rested and slightly stirred...

Day 01

We drove to our first campsite via the well built and maintained French road system. The first campsite suggested we go to our alternate site, because of a nearby fair ground, so we switched to our alternate. We pitched the tent and then went foraging for food.