January 26, 2003


A guestbook entry from the ominously dubbed 'Rafe the Destroyer' scared up a little site modification this weekend. Thanks to the miracle of stylesheets you can do this.


For most people this will make absolutely no sense whatsoever. If you are one of those people I'll refer you to this entry for some background on Louise the disappearing orange. I've been meaning to put in some custom tools in for a while, and this seemed as good an opportunity as any. I've got some more styles up my sleeve, some of them a little more adventurous and a lot less garish, so keep an eye on the 'hamster stylee' menu.

Back to default style

January 24, 2003

Porn to go

I let this article slip under my nose earlier this week: Lately it seems like the adult industry is acting as the dark saviour of technology. When Napster went under, one of the first hopes to resurrect it was an adult entertainment company. Now it seems that the mobile networks (yes, mobiles again) are expecting porn to generate them 2.5 billion a year by 2006 and make those 3G licenses all worthwhile.

Doubtful. Phones are just not the right medium for porn. Sure they're discreet and you can hide them quickly if you hear the boss coming, but look at it this way: At least if you were (hypothetically speaking...) browsing online naughtiness on a train with a laptop it'd be big and flat enough cover up any, ahem, evidence of your activities to those not within sight of your monitor. Mobiles are way too small - who's going to risk that embarrassment while waiting for a bus?

Pitch Black

Night Blindness: Children may develop a 'profound fear of the dark' because they have difficulty seeing with the lights off.

Well, yeah.

January 22, 2003

Scientists clone cat. Sort of.

Wired reports that American scientists have managed to clone their first cat. I'm sure this isn't going to bother the Raelians, who are already hammering out their first batch of human clones. But this would be good news for pet lovers with a pet who's lost or sick, or who died and happened to leave some spare DNA hanging around.

According to her creators, the inventively named 'Cc' is a perfectly healthy genetic clone of her 'mother', Rainbow. Only, she has a different colour coat, different build and behaves nothing at all like the donor kitty. In fact, "You'd have to be told they were cloned in order to know". Forgive my scepticism, but, riiiiiiiight.

So why did they do it? I have a theory: Think government. Think CIA. It's like that movie 'Twins', with unpronounceable Arnie and Danny DeVito, where they make two test tube babies, but keep one a secret. See, what you won't read about is 'Bcc', the other experiment to produce an evil, genetically modified super-cat for domestic surveillance in criminal's homes, or covert-ops in India or...something.

OK, I admit it doesn't sound that scary, until you think about it: like the article says, 'scientists so far have been unable to clone a canine'. They can't do dogs yet! So how would anyone fight them? What the hell would we do if an army of crazed mega-moggies turned up in London intent on destroying the country's yarn industry and eating all our Whiskas? Makes you think...

January 20, 2003

On the evolution of buggies

This weekend I discovered that you can't buy buggies or prams anymore. Gone are the days when babies just needed a way to get around, and we used to think of prams as a cart for transporting your infant from A to B. These days it's just not that simple. These days, you need a Travel System.

In the 21st century babies have become like the hub of an intricate social network, and like a computer network you need to have the infrastructure in place well in advance of the delivery date. It has to be versatile, expandable, functional and robust. So you make a list, and after hours of careful scoping, proof-of concept exercises and user acceptance testing you finally find the travel system that's right for your needs.

But that's not the end. Once the kit arrives you still have to install it: A seemingly simple task, only no-one knows how to use any of the hardware because the manuals are completely incomprehensible and the person who bought the gear in the first place is out of the office (something about labour? I don't know...).

And then there's all the patches, add-ons and accessories that you have to add to keep things running smoothly after delivery: the carry pack, the changing station, the safety gates, the cosy-toe system(!?)... It's all about the systems. You'd think you need a computing qualification just to look after a child soon.

In case you were wondering, this is how I'm coming to terms with being a soon-to-be uncle. I've really gotta get some time off work!

January 13, 2003


Quiet here lately. Sorry, I blame work. So much to do etc... I'll be back soon, and believe me, you'll know about it.

Oh yes...

January 09, 2003

It's getting to you...

Spam. It get's everywhere. Snail-mail spam, email spam, SMS spam. I'm dreading the day that we wind up with MMS spam. If it's anything like the stuff that winds up in your email inbox I'd be afraid to take my phone out of my pocket anymore.

So it's with great scepticism that I greet Bill Gates' announcement of the smart watch. Soon we'll be able to get all sorts of 'useful information' through our watches wherever we can pick up an FM signal. It's only a matter of time before someone starts to abuse a new way of reaching us with commercial noise.

Now, I can't speak for everyone, but I think most people who could afford a smart watch probably already have a mobile phone. What with text messages and mobile internet becoming cheaper faster and more widely adopted, mobile phones are becoming almost as ubiquitous as wrist watches, so we can get to what we need on the move already, and I for one hate being told the same thing twice. But will it catch on? I'm thinking no, but I'm willing to be proved wrong: it does sound like a fun toy.

January 07, 2003


A very big thankyou to everyone who called, texted and emailed yesterday to wish me a happy birthday. It means a lot to know that so many people remembered. Those of you who know how much I love Italian can probably guess what I had for dinner last night, surrounded by an assortment of friends and family. It was wonderful. Thankyou all.

January 06, 2003

Another Year

Once again my resale value dropped a little further this morning, as today I'm a year older than I was yesterday. On paper anyway. In reality of course I've only aged a day

A little disturbed by the fact that Excite's word of the day is 'inimical', meaning hostile or unfriendly. I won't read too much into it: I suppose we can't have nice words everyday can we? Besides, I'm sure they were directing it at someone else with a birthday today. I can't be the only one?

January 03, 2003

Timing and tea

Today I have mostly been drinkin' tea. Mostly. This is because of my resolution to learn to make a decent cuppa. I shall explain...

One of the reasons that I drink so much coffee is that I cannot make tea. Actually that's a lie. I can make tea, but it doesn't normally taste like tea, it tastes like something that rhymes with tea. Coffee is easy: one spoonful, stir, done. But tea, now that requires skill and timing.

My first successes with tea came many years ago, using a technique adapted from an Eddie Izzard sketch about toasters and their lying turny buttons. The deceptive knob on a toaster means that the user has to hover near the toaster and judge the ideal amount of time required to achieve the desired level of brown-ness. The same applies to tea, and as I hovered one day with a watchful eye on the teapot (just as a precaution, in case it tried to boil again) I began to pace around the kitchen in circles. It wasn't long before I realised that the perfect cup of tea lie exactly 32 laps of the kitchen away from placing the bag in the pot, and so every time my mother asked me to make a cup of tea, I had to trundle about the kitchen for a few minutes. But that was acceptable, as long as the tea didn't look like pus.

However, my technique was foiled by two events. First came the growth spurt that my mother had been promising me throughout puberty, which meant that I could walk faster and consequently 32 laps became insufficent for the tea to properly circulate. And then, motivated in part my the thinning lino on the kitchen floor, my parents decided to move to a house with a bigger kitchen. Well, that just screwed everything up. I spent two years trying to make decent tea in that kitchen, and was almost there when left to go to university. Faced with the option of looking like a prat pacing around the kitchen in front of half the rugby team or drinking instant coffee, which would you choose? My journey toward the dark side had begun.

And when I say dark, I mean black, because the fridges in E block were pants and the milk constantly off, and even when it wasn't some cheeky bugger would half-inch it! So followed three years of insomnia and no tastebuds.

This year I will endevour to learn to make good tea without having to move. It's going to be tough, so I shall begin with Tetley's English Breakfast (because that's what we have at work) and advance steadily until one day I can manage Darjeeling or Lapsang Souchong (preferably without having to refer to the boxes to spell them).

And that's why tea is like a toaster, why I can't make it and probably why I can't get up in the morning. I say, that was rather long. Think I'll have a jam sandwich and decide where to go out this evening. It's FRIDAY!

January 01, 2003

Happy New Year!!!

Wishing everyone health and happiness for 2003, not to mention a speedy recovery from whatever you were up to last night!

And guess what? I still sang the wrong words to 'Auld Lang Syne'. I suppose its traditional.