Bog Roll ::

It's Not Magic, It's Work!

29 Dec 2008

Back At Work

I'm back at work today. Not very exciting, just providing cover in case something goes wrong. In the mean time I'm catching up on all the low level stuff that gets forgotten when there is high priority work to be done. Not very interesting but useful...

27 Dec 2008

New Acer One

Flash Gordon Savour of the World wants us to borrow and spend our way out of the debt created problems that the UK is currently in. I've done my best to avoid spending, waiting for the much predicted "deflation" to kick in and send prices into a downward spiral to oblivion - so far I've not noticed only inflation in the things that matter and some mild disflation in tat and other non-essentials.

My antique Dell notebook really is reaching the end of it's useful life, 10 years is good going for a Dell. I don't need a full sized notebook really - I never did in the first place, but a netbook may come in handy. The Acer One is a nice device and Amazon are flogging them for £170, which isn't bad - it's better than the £225 that CeX are selling second hand units for in town.

So far I don't see much discounting in the stuff I want, just trivial tat that people could easily live without. I'll probably hold on as long as I can, no point in throwing money away if there is a real bargain to be had..!

26 Dec 2008

Yule-Tide Greetings

Hoping everyone had a smasshing Yule-tide!

23 Dec 2008

QM2 Is Now Live

We've been running with the QM2 project now for a few days and it's been going mostly quite well. There have been a few stability issues with Windows but other than that it's been a positive experience. Yesterday the line assembled a pump using the old method and the staff complained quite a bit - they very much prefer the new style after using it for only a few days.

Another win for Perl and open-source!

20 Dec 2008


I normally read RSS feeds from the live bookmark feature built into Iceweasel/Firefox. It's simple and it works well. This week I thought I try using a stand-alone feed reader to see what difference it makes. I run KDE so I used a KDE flavoured RSS reader and selected Akregator for the trial.

Installation was trivial and simple: sudo aptitude install akregator and all the bits required were downloaded and installed (not much in my case). I set up a few feeds and played around - seems okay. I set up all the feeds I currently have in Iceweasel and added a few more that I don't currently have.

I like the fact that in minimises into the background and periodically updates, which allows me to quickly browse the news rather than the more pro-active style of a browser interface. Each has their advantage but I like the fact that I don't need to have Iceweasel running, akregator internally calls Konqueror if a web browser is required.

Yesterday, I downloaded a book from a blog entry and realised I have KGet installed - I install stuff then forget about it.... Akregator and Konqueror are integrated and automatically use KGet for smart background downloading, Iceweasel does not. However if you install the flashgot add-on you can use KGet, Aria2 or anything else from Iceweasel - most useful.

18 Dec 2008

Unintended Consequences

The "Quality" project has now been live for almost a week at work. It has been a really interesting project and though there have been challenges, I've come through with a solution that I'm mostly happy with.

One of the nice unexpected outcomes has been that throughput on the line has risen by 15% now that staff are not writing numbers down and instead using bar-code scanners or interfacing the test equipment directly with SAP. This means that they can do what they are paid and trained for - build product - rather than filling out endless forms.

One of the less good outcomes was a report I wrote sometime ago for a different part of the business started to produce strange results. The reason was that there was a subtle bug in my report that no one noticed before but the new data in the system exposed. Thankfully it was a one line change to a SELECT statement and it's all fixed now.

It's been one of the best projects I've worked on at work for ages, partially because it's been a "multi-disciplinary" project that I'm best suited to, being a generalist rather than a specialist, it's had a large Perl element and it's been actually fun to do with good people to work with.

Fluffy Wuffy Bunny Rabbits

In a move to be more positive, there will be no cynical post on here for a few days, no rants, and no spleen venting!

The QM project at work has gone in this week, there have been a few inevitable issues, but overall it's actually gone in on time, to spec and to budget! Not bad going given that overall most project fail in at least one of the three constraints.

I've now got a few oddments left over before the Yuletide which isn't bad, then new projects all start in the new year!

17 Dec 2008

1st Class Passengers

Have you ever noticed that when a 1st class passenger on a commuter train or a manager at work uses a computer how their posture and expressions change? They look like they are sitting on a pineapple, the pained look on their faces as they try to understand what they are looking at and strange unnaturally body posture is most peculiar.

This could be because they are running unintelligible Microsoft products that they probably haven't be trained to use, and notebook ergonomics are poor even if you can touch type properly. Add to that they probably should be wearing reading glasses and the reflection on the high gloss screen would drive anyone mad, it's hardly surprising that they look so miserable.

14 Dec 2008

Small is Beautiful

Microsoft must be in trouble when the Economist is recommending Linux over Windows on a new netbook: Rational consumer: Small is beautiful. Netbook sales are probably a fad and Microsoft will adapt but it is another cut of the thousands required to bleed the monopolistic monster dry. With any luck they will waste another pile of cash on buying and destroying Yahoo!

LUG Meeting

Yesterday was a joint LUG meeting between Hants LUG and Surrey LUG at the University of Surrey in Guildford. It was an awful day with pouring rain and pretty atrocious conditions for any one brave enough to venture outside. However quite a few people battled through and we had a reasonable attendance.

I gave my Desktop Adapted for Dad talk (again) and Michael Judd talked about the Adempiere.

At the meeting Adrian mooted the idea of a slightly bigger one day event that the local LUGs and related groups could possibly stage. As I recently said it is possible but not trivial to arrange an event on little or no budget that is a great success, where something on a grander scale is not necessarily all that successful, see London Perl Workshop 2008. I don't really fancy organising something this very minute but it's something to think about...

10 Dec 2008


For days bright green adverts at Basingstoke station with the work Oohgle on them have been bugging me. It looks like Google except google don't do advertising. A quick Google search brings back various blogs discussing it and a paid ad (which I ignored). Google interestingly thought I should have typed Oogle...

09 Dec 2008

£6 Million per Hour

According to The Torygraph, property investors are losing wealth at a rate of £6 million per hour in the UK, as commercial and residential property prices normalise after the decade long bubble that has just burst. As rents fall through the flour at the same time and the massive over supply of property of all kinds sinks in, they can't even rent out their property for the long haul to tough out the current conditions.

Our previous landlady having tarted the house up but failing to sell it has now put in back on the rental market. When we were evicted there were fewer than half a dozen properties to rent in our village, now six months later there are more than two dozen. I think she may find the rental market just as tough as the sale market...

03 Dec 2008

I am not a PC - I am a free man

Microsoft think their customers are PCs and not people. It's stupid and annoying, most of the people in the adverts probably wouldn't know Windows from Mac from Linux from Office!

I am not a PC - I am a free man and I chose to run Linux on my PC...