Bog Roll ::

It's Not Magic, It's Work!

29 May 2008

Why I Hate BT

I hate BT, they are the most useless of all the utilities I've ever had to deal with. They are lazy, sloppy and a virtual monopoly so they have no pressure to get get better.

Last week I asked them to move my land line from one property to another in the same village and hence on the same exchange. Even though it should take no more than 30 seconds to re-program an all digital exchange I was warned it could take up to 2 days. After three calls to complain that the move still hadn't happened yesterday they announced that there wasn't a phone line to move to so it would have to be an engineer visit some time next week.

The only good thing they managed to do was to waive the £130 connection fee. However I'll have gone 11 days without telephone and it will be another week after that before my ADSL line will be available.

In the past it took them over a fortnight to fix a broken line and even then they turned up unannounced on a Sunday morning to fix the phone, when the problem was in the street.

I Hate BT

27 May 2008

Move In!

On Saturday we moved into our "new" house. It's over 70 years younger than our previous house. Compared with the previous house the build quality is dreadful, it's smaller and the layout is stupid. The rent including garage is less than previous, so we can put up with things for a short while until house prices have sufficiently adjusted to make buying a house feasible.

We've sent a long list of initial snags of to the landlord's agent to fix. Leaking roof and radiators are one thing, I doubt they can fix "rooms to small" or "missing garden"...

Of the utilities, the gas and electric are sorted, the phone is still no active and we are now beyond the 2 day transfer that BT (one of my least favourite companies) promised. Until the phone is active I can't activate the ADSL..

22 May 2008

Microsoft to Support ODF before OXML

Microsoft announced that they will support ISO standards for Open Document Format (ODF) and PDF next year. Most open source software already supports ODF and PDF.

After bullying and bribery to get their so called "OOXML" (now called OXML) standard to be accepted by ISO, it now turns out they can't actually support it and it will be the version of Office that follows before they can support their own standard.

Typical, they refuse to participate in the development of a vendor neutral standard, refuse to support the standard when it's deployed, then develop their own incompatible "standard", bribe it through ISO, then it turns out they can support the real standard in their own products before they can support the one they developed based on their own product. Microsoft couldn't organise a proverbial in a brewery...

20 May 2008

Address Change

Today I wrote over a dozen letters to notify various organisations of our impending address change. It's a real pain in the bottom, and I'm probably only half way there - I've still got to deal with the utilities yet as the landlord's agent is picky about how we deal with that, and they have not yet sent instructions...

17 May 2008

A New House...

Today we visited a house for rent in the village. It's not perfect but it is in the right price range, it is in the village and it is available now. I've dropped my money off with the estate agent and assuming all goes well next week I put down a wad for the deposit and we move in next Saturday.

In the afternoon we had a look at a bungalow in the village. It has decent sized rooms and a passable garden. It has a hip roof so with care it would be possible to fit two smallish bedrooms up there. The rest of the building needs utterly gutting, all the rooms need redeploying and it needs all new plumbing, wiring and a new kitchen and bathroom. It is exactly what we want, the only problem is that the family want £375k for the place, which while theoretically possible is not money we are willing to spend on the place.

I think we will move into our new rental and wait and see what will happen. House prices are falling, the borough is down 10% to December 2007 and a further 6% down to the end of March 2008, by official land registry figures, so if the property has not sold in a month or so we would be tempted to put in an offer in the £200-250k range.

13 May 2008

Open SSL Glitch

Sometime ago the Debian team applied a patch to OpenSSL, in doing so they introduced a subtle bug that greatly weakens the strength of any key generated by the OpenSSL package, e.g. SSH or TLS/SSL keys.

Debian have corrected their bug but any cryptographic keys generated in the interim need to be replaced as they are unacceptably weak. A new version of OpenSSL is available from Debian and needs to be installed as a matter of urgency on any Debian Etch or later system. Once OpenSSL has been upgraded all keys need to be regenerated.

The details can be found on the Debian Security site DSA-1571-1. Users of any distro based on Debian such as Ubuntu, should also check to see if they are also affected.

12 May 2008

Stress = Mouth Ulcers

One thing is clear, when I'm under stress I get a mouth full of ulcers. What is strange is when I get ulcers when I didn't think I was stressed. At the moment I know I'm under stress at both work and home, this morning I noticed my first mouth ulcer. I know have several of the little beasts and I'll be liberal tonight with the foul-tasting Bonjela.

11 May 2008

May LUG Meet

Yesterday was the May Hants LUG. It went very well, a friend solved several problems, I learnt a bit more about X.509 certificates and picked up 30 CAcert points.

09 May 2008

Estate Agents Are Lazy Tossers

Earlier this week I sent an email to a local estate agent, admitidly with a poor local reputation, they never responded so I popped in to see them in person. They sent me an email to arrange a property viewing so I responded by email, today I got home to discover they left a message will waiting for me to confirm. Why do these people put forms and email addresses all over their web site if they don't bother or aren't able to read and reply to email...

07 May 2008

Throwing Windows XP In The Bin

Today we brought home a load of boxes from work. They use to have new Dell computers in them. Now that IT have deployed the computers, the shipping boxes are no longer required. As we are moving house shortly, a dozen good size decent boxes comes in most useful. The boxes all had original Windows XP/SP2 OEM disks in them, all of which went straight in the bin, though the Windows Genuine Advantage leaflets went into the recycling bin.

It's a strange feeling throwing unopened Windows disks in the bin. Even stranger when you consider at retail prices the cost of Windows XP is almost more than what work paid for the PCs from Dell...

06 May 2008

Browser Breakdown

Looking at the past fortnight on this site, it is interesting to see the browser breakdown.

BrowserVersionMarket Share (%)

If you lump them crudely by rendering engine family you get:

EngineMarket Share (%)
Mozilla Gecko53.72

This site is more pro-open source and the content is clearly more pro Linux that Microsoft but one of the most popular section is the stable site that is hosted here, which isn't technical at all. It's good to see more than just one browser, and it's good to see that MISE isn't the most popular!

Rhubarb and Ginger Jam (III)

Today we made 6.5 kg of rhubarb and ginger jam. We used the same recipe as originally rather than last years variant where you peel the rhubarb. Peeling the rhubarb before jamming it is the "Victorian" method which apparently tastes better. Leaving the "skin" of the rhubarb on does however change the colour of the jam from green to ruby red. I'm not sure it make much difference but not peeling makes the whole process quicker and easier, but you need pristine rhubarb.

04 May 2008


We asked our landlady what she wanted for the house we rent from her. Today I spoke with her. I had expected her to say £200k, which while wildly overpriced in the current market would be a sensible opening position. Instead she said £225k, which is utter insanity. While it is livable, the house needs a total refurbishment and a significant upgrade to the heating and insulation to make it comfortable in winter.

If you assume a 30-50% price correction[1] over the next 2-3 years, that means I would loose between £67.5-112.5k (excluding mortgage charges) compared with a £20.4-30.6k loss if we continue to rent at the current market rate. Even if we bought at £150k, we'd still loose up to £37.5k on the property, and that's before we spend anything on it to bring it up to a sensible standard.

We will be renting, it's just a case of deciding where and for how much. Once the price correction has taken place we will buy having saved even more by then, two more years of pain for a mortgage free life seems to be worth it.

  1. Over the past half century British house prices hover between three and four times the gross salary of their occupants, under three is considered "affordable" and over four is "expensive". At the moment we are between 6 and 10 times gross salary. I refuse to buy a house that costs more than 4 times my gross salary.

03 May 2008

Another One Ruined

This week we spotted another interesting house. It's a two-bed bungalow, in the village, with a reasonable though not large enough garden. It's internally in need of modernisation and with a loft conversion would be exactly the right size and it's even in a good location. The only problem is that it's valued as a building site - you could fit two 3 or 4 bed houses on the plot, so instead of being on the market at £200-250k it's on the market at £375k - which is too much for my poor bank account.

The only hope is that now the house price correction is in full swing, no horrid little developer is going to pay that much for it and if the price does drop then I'll be off to see my bank then the estate agent...