Bog Roll ::

It's Not Magic, It's Work!

29 Apr 2008

14 kg of Rhubarb Marmalade!

Over the weekend I made a mega batch of rhubarb marmalade, all told with rhubarb, oranges and sugar it came to over 14 kg of final product. It was so much it had to be done in two batches!

The method was as last year. Tonight I'll make some rhubarb and ginger jam.

When it's all done it will go on sale at Overton's 2008 Sheep Fair to raise money for the Overton Biodiversity Society.

23 Apr 2008


Arthur on the Debian Administration Site suggested using as a way of controlling backscatter. Looks interesting.

22 Apr 2008

Nothing Is Perfect

Today we spotted a three-bed bungalow with garden, garage and a proper dining room, kitchen and living room. It's on the market at £265k which is the dead zone above the £250k mark so it won't sell at that price, it will drop to £250k.

On paper it ticks every box, it's seems big enough, it still has a garden, it's not been wrecked by some idiot home improver and it's at a fair price (though it will be worth a lot less in 6-12 months), so there has to be a problem with it. This evening we went round to have a snoop around, the garden isn't as big as advertised (no surprise there) but it's instantly obvious what the problem is, even at 6:30pm the traffic thundering up and down the A34 just 0.5 km away is very noticeable...

20 Apr 2008

Email Backscatter

Some spotty little Herbert is forging my domain and I'm getting backscatter like mad at the moment. Killing spammers is too good for them...

Additionally people who are stupid enough to send backscatter emails deserve to be treated like spammers too.

19 Apr 2008

Safari for Windows

On my work Windows XP machine I've been tinkering with Apple's Safari browser. The page rendering looks very good, much better than other Windows applications including Microsoft's IE and Mozilla's Firefox. The user interface is a bit odd - though I'm sure it works well on a Mac.

The underlying rendering engine, "Web-Kit" is based on the open source "khtml" engine from the KDE browser Konqeror. Konqeror is commonly found on Linux/BSD systems running the KDE desktop system, where it works very well, if it does play second fiddle to Firefox. There are few differences in the engines and the user interfaces are miles apart, but both are very very standard compliant and very fast.

In speed terms it's hard to compare fairly, but IE comes rock bottom in most tasks, Firefox is normally faster but can get sluggish if you open too many tabs, but Safari/Konqeror and Opera normally vie for top spot in speed and they are all more standard compliant as well![1]

I must remember to use Konqeror a bit more often at home and Safari at work.

  1. To be honest a brick is more standard compliant than Microsoft's IE... Firefox isn't too bad version 3 will be much better.

Houses Are a Safe Investment?

Today I noticed I had an old newspaper from 2004 that was sitting in a drawer. In it there were adverts for the then new and very prestigious "Crown Heights" development in the centre of Basingstoke. A luxury two bed room apartment was a snip at only £215k and that figure already included various fees and incentives.

Today the same flats are now on the market for an asking price of only £150k and as we are now in a rapidly falling market, that means the actual sale price is likely to be more like £135k. Which means in just over 3 years if you had invested in "Crown Heights" your investment would now be worth £65-80k less or a loss of 30-37%.

17 Apr 2008

Another One Bites The Dust

It looks like another estate agent has shut shop in Basingstoke. They had only recently refurbished and rebranded their office too. Today's property pages are full of houses marked "no chain" and "new price". A neighbours house has come down £10k in asking since last week.

The UK has more unsecured debt that the rest of Europe, so while the politicians are talking things up, in reality the only way is down as the UK runs out of spendable cash...

14 Apr 2008

House Repossession

As the credit crunch intensifies and house prices drop through the floor along with our currency I'm starting to see more vacant houses on my way to and from work. The property pages advertise more and more properties that have "no chain" or "agent has keys".

Some houses are empty because the occupier has died, or the owner has given up on renting and is trying to cash their house in before prices really hit the bottom, but quite a lot are repossessions.

I feel sorry that someone is unable to pay their mortgage and has their house taken away from them but at the same time I've been living in rented accommodation for the past 10 years because I couldn't afford to buy a house near my job.

A conservative estimate puts UK house prices falling 10% per annum for the next two years. Various other bodies have suggested that a up to a 50% price reduction is required to bring house prices back in line with incomes. I don't mind how much they fall specifically but a sizeable reduction would cheer me up no end.

10 Apr 2008


Our landlady has decided to sell our home from under us, effectively we have been evicted. I can't blame her for wanting to cash out, but with house prices now in free fall I doubt she is going to get as much as she would have just 6 months ago.

We have been looking on and off for some time for a home to buy but prices have not been connected with reality for some time so we have been happy to rent a smaller/cheaper house that we would be have liked to buy and save our pennies instead.

Now we have to find somewhere to rent in a hurry and if the crash goes as people predict look to pick up a bargain in the next 6-18 months. It's a lot of messing about but if we are careful we could pick up a decent house for a sensible price and a tiny mortgage.

08 Apr 2008

Herisson => Lapin

I've replaced my home server Herisson with Lapin. Pretty much everything about the new server is an order of magnitude faster or larger, the disk is two orders of magnitude greater (though in practice less with mirroring enabled).

I now have Lapin partitioned up into the default system "Bleu" and several virtual machines "Noir" and "Rouge" for specific uses. The remote access works and I'm just waiting for Xen to trickle into Debian Lenny then I'll have KQemu, VirtualBox and Xen all at my disposal.

Today I finally copied the last files off Herisson and then splatted the disks by installing a fresh copy of Debian on top with a LVM2 layout that was quite different from what was their originally. Shortly thereafter he went off to a new home, where I hope it will prove as useful as it has here.

Herisson: Gone but not forgotten.

02 Apr 2008


A long time ago I wrote XML::RSS::Tools to solve a problem I faced. I no longer have the problem so the Perl module is now rather unloved. Interestingly the search terms: "RSS"; "XSL" and "XSLT" are the most popular terms for this server. I don't know who if anyone actually uses my code but people's search terms suggest some people have the same problem I once had.

Technorati Claim

I've had a Technorati profile for some time but never done much with it. As I'm updating stuff today here it is.


I've long known about social network site, I joined one once, got excited for 30 seconds and then got bored with the volume of mindless drivel. Some time ago I was invited by a colleague to join LinkedIn, which looks slightly less childlike and possibly more useful. Today I got round to filling the forms in and actually joining.

01 Apr 2008

OOXML... 3


Yet again Microsoft have been up to their dirty tricks. Bribing officials, stuffing ballot boxes and generally doing bad things to ram their broken joke of a file format through the ISO process. Alas it looks like money talks and they have bought enough organisations to buy themselves an ISO standard.

While it is nice that they have documented their file format technology, which is a lot more than can be said about their legacy formats, their documentation is next to useless and they don't even promise to stick to it, which given they are the only organisation with access to the hidden bits in the standard makes the standard unimplementable and utter useless. It's just not worth the thousands of pages it's written on.

We will shortly have a standard that can't be used, an utterly discredited and disgraced international standards body and Microsoft will still have you by the short and curlies - if you use their technology.