Thursday, December 31, 2009

New year resolution

How many people have you given dignity this Christmas? It's a rhetorical, so I'm leaving it there.

Welcome to 2010

The end of the festive season is drawing near. All passengers wishing to catch the bus back to Jan 2009, please disembark now, before the next stop. An educational year, but not one I want to live through again, no sir!
About 69 desperate journal entries were posted, all just musings that define the year's highs and lows as you would expect.
At this point 2010 can only get better, will it hold crazy new-years resolutions. Will drug or drink-induced homicides stop? As per last year, loosing weight will be in order, keeping the chin up is also called for, and at any rate, promises to be different to 2009.

Happy new Year

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Words as Tools

The warning letter given me by my littlest angel.
"dad is not allowed
in my bedroom
in the morning"

Please excuse the grammar, but that is literacy at 5 years for you. Better than most, once we teach him the direction of the tummy facing for 'b' and 'd', he will be writing up the magna carta. For those who do not know what this kind of letter is, this is the Magna Carta according to Gregory. I just love it :-)

I think this writ was a response to my harsh words ejecting the aforementioned denizen from the parental bedroom. I found it stuck on our door, I also hope this means we can use words much more in the future.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Blog clean-up

Having decided to work a bit on my networking skills, here is another of the series of auto-posts. Auto-posts are detected by looking at the post-time, the minutes are set to 00, and I type them up, and trigger them usually a day or two hence, to post when I'm nicely warm in bed sleeping.

I've also added more widgets to my blog - but have a question now about audience and focus.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Boxing day meaning

It turns out that the origins of boxing day are lost in the mists so to speak, this is only interesting because where I lived, the name got changed to Day of Goodwill, in order to remove the colonial connotation attached to the holiday.
Because the history has been lost in the British observance , its particularly cunning to bring up the topic of how we treat our history. It's honestly moot, because even the origins of festival days 'adopted' by the christian faith seem to be lacking in effectiveness at bringing their point across.

For a long time I thought public holidays (called bank holidays in the UK after the abolishing of the slave trade) were just ways to get extra holidays, and undercut a countries GDP in a secret communist plot to make people believe they were getting a day off for free. That was a long time ago, a long time ago. I went on for a while to the idea that holidays were productivity devices, intended to make people work even harder in the run-up. It works well for projects that need to get out of the door sometimes. But my healthy paranoia has been proven unfounded time and again. It's just a in which day to recover from our own indulgences.

Twas the night before Christmas

And all through the house, not a creature was stirring. not even a mouse...

It is probably the most exciting time of year for children. this year was pretty good because it has been snowing up to Christmas, the snow has all melted now, but that does not change the white Christmas feel. In fact I'm not sure a frost feast-day is all that great a deal. before someone comes out in Grinch mode, we will just clarify, it's Scrooge mode this year, although the boys are not that hard done by in the end. This year there is just not a 'big-ticket' present under the tree for each of them.

I have gotten out quite cheaply too, all I have is a Mr Men coffee mug - appropriately it's the Mr grumpy character. I hope that's not a predestination.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Passport processing times (RSA)

I got the following email this morning - still waiting for my fresh South African passport to come back. We need to renew soon, so may as well get it done now before the rush on British Citizenship applications begins. You got to apply early, it looks like it normally takes 2-4 months, and 6 on the outside.

23 DECEMBER - 8.45 – 12h45
29-30 DECEMBER - 8.45 – 12h45

Still enjoying reading the study guide for the "Life in the UK" test :-). It's pretty much Hobson's choice I hear - whatever that means.

It's obligatory to have images in blog posts, so here is one blast from the past - in South Africa.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pray for Schools

Wouldn’t it be great if every local school was a prayed for school!

Pray for schools is an evening to encourage such a vision! So whether your a parent, student, or staff member. Church, children, or youth leader, please join Christian Resources Into Schools, Ely Diocese, Scripture Union, WCCYM and Cambridge & District YFC for a special night of inspiration.
Pray for Schools - Friday 22nd January 2010

For those who are in the area:
St Bede’s School
Birdwood Road,
7.45-9.15pm (Coffee from 7.30pm)

3 web based resources to ignite and inspire:
Bible engagement -
School clubs and groups –
Sunday groups –

Software download statistics

My download report for the last 2 weeks, looks impressive, but what does it mean?
Report for - Modbus - PLC Simulator

Report for - DIP Switch

I will have to come back in a month's time and compare.
Statistics are gathered from these 2 URLs on a 3rd-party download site called BrotherSoft. (nope, not related to Broederbond)
I need to turn this all into a marketing window.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Iced in for Xmas?

Tomorrow we will decide if we are going to be traveling on Christmas day. Looks pretty poorly, it snowed 5 days ago, and there is no sign of this stuff melting away. More cold weather, and some sleet already falling tonite means more slippery conditions.

On a lighter note, 2010 may be a good year :-)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

What matters now

Free e-book, download it here off Seth's blog .
OK, so you are selling me another free book, I think without even asking the question I am asking more. So I'll share a bit about Dignity (this was my TFTD a week ago by some co-incidence), nothing spooky going on.
"Dignity is more important than wealth. It’s going
to be a long, long time before we can make
everyone on earth wealthy, but we can help people
find dignity this year (right now if we choose to)."

Go ahead, download it, I dare you to rush this.

Brrrr it's cold outside

OK, can someone remind me, why I came to live in this icy cold place?

The snow is very powdery as you can see here. Not wet enough to roll up into a snowman without a whole lot of effort.

It's unusual to get snow before Christmas, if at all until Feb, but it has been pretty much fun.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009





Wheel blockage:

Yep, it's blocked with mud we think:

Aaah, the happy biker:

Disappointed that I missed out on all the fun this time - good stuff!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Do not Click

I'm warning you, do not click here . But if you do (you should) you only have to click once, on the entire site it's the internet, but without carpel-tunnel syndrome Yay!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Software Engineering

I once was given a theoretical challenge, write a software engine, that can write software to interface with other system on it's own through learning. A kind of AI but not AI, instead at the end it must write it's own new program. Yes, it is possible if you had enough time for a process to connect up to another process, and try through brute force to start sharing data; finally saving the result as a new program. It's conceivable only because computers are good at repetitive tasks, so long as a human starts both ends off with a fighting chance and there are some rules in place, it should work?

Well the problem was a bit more complicated than that, but I nonetheless went off to consider this problem. Firstly with fear because if it could be done, software developers would start putting themselves out of work, but eventually once convinced it could not be done, I relaxed a little. Well this was a long time ago, perhaps a few decades hence I could re-formulate the same original question properly and on paper (I won't now because that would loose IP), and ask it again.

Engineering is full of questions and solutions that just do not quite work at the time. How many new technologies enabling their completion do there need to be?

Rest in Peace

Life is fragile, we get reminded of this all the time. Every few years, someone I knew passes on to the next life, it's not a light moment at all. Paul Geng was always energetic, the communicator, and the do'er. He will be missed by more than a few. At least he did not leave things over till tomorrow, that much I know. Go, in peace.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Cateye Cycling gear trouble

The following was sent email to Cateye global service:

I am writing to complain about the H34 bracket. I bought a really brilliant light, and then battled to install the bracket. I latter ordered another smaller light for my wife's bike, this time the bracket went on a bit better. BUT, you can never get it tight enough to stop the light slipping about without using a bit of persuasion - and then you can not get it off again without a lot of effort. The tightening nut turns, but it's really tight now and I cannot move it to over to the other handlebar to make space for my cycle computer. The light is great, but the bracket is below par, I'm ordering a replacement bracket for now - can the engineers please improve this part.

Let us see if they can fix it before next winter....
(update : I got a response from the local and end distributor - I've attached the one here)


Thank you for your e-mail regarding the H-34 Flex Tight Bracket.

Please be assured that we will pass your comments onto the R & D department at Cateye for their consideration in future product development.

Kind regards

Sarah Zarrouk

Customer Services Manager


Product failure is particularly interesting to me as an engineer. I know things go wrong because some aspect of the environment is un-expected, it's not easy to predict how what you build will be used. But I think this means we are going to at least see some consideration of the problem, anyone else have similar jibes?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Windows Live and Hotmail

I have sent a comment to the Windows live team, because I have been missing mails.

I am loosing emails because they are getting filtered out as spam, what can I do?
I am also forwarding mails from websites to my hotmail as a convenience, but if I never get any of them, I cannot know people are trying to reach me. My junk folder is 'empty' too, is hotmail just deleting my spam automatically?

Anyway, this is not the only bit of hotmail that annoys me, can I get some feedback, and get my lost mails back. Please.

Is anyone else out there having similar junk/spam questions? I mean my GMail account hold around 50 junk mails for 30 days, so even 2 mails per day is reasonable. But Hotmail is totally spam-free, also contact-free. I had a similar issue with Yahoo 3 years ago, and they lost their advertising revenue space because of being blocked regularly, a similar, but not similar problem to my current one.

Come on Microsoft, if Tiger can do it, you can too!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Is your password strong enough?

Data from the recent hotmail phishing attack dumps show that some people still use passwords like '12345678' and 'password'. So where does that put netizens with more than a dozen different logins? All that one can do is write them all down on a piece of paper in a script too small for the cleaning lady to read (she did miss that spot under your chair non?), and incinerate it every month when you make up a new list.

Just because your data is not worth much no longer means someone will not take it away without a second thought in a bot-net attack using mall ware installed on our PC last night when you downloaded that handy little video converter or viewer.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Programmer for Hire

  • Cambridge, UK - experienced software engineer
  • Available immediately
  • For details, see my online CV

Hats and tipping

Today is a thing about hats, hats are a passion for some, but for me, a hat is a literary device.
My first hat device is almost 4 years old now, it's called "throwing your hat across". The bestway to cross a river with no bridge is to throw your hat across first. It guarantees you have a solid motive for crossing, and although appearing foolish it is a kind of contract too.

We could get all technical about the hat, but motive is the means, and motive is something we can trust in (our legal system appears to do so at times). Oh Tipping,... yes I got another tip today - I think I will spend it all on registering an internet domain, part of my next venture into the wild world of open-source.
If you think suddenly he's insane, please visit , and click on the donate button - either that or send me a new hat, mine is getting soggy.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Webs links and more spiders

or is that crawlies - Web-crawlers are crawling your website right now. Are you able to control what they see? Probably not, but I'm going to give those crawlers a few extra places to go

I've been promised an Editors Pick on Brothersoft, they are a pretty neat and tidy downloads site, with a good navigation system. So please click on the button above.
Do not click on this link, its here just for the crawlers.

Tomatoes on Toasties

My Recipe
1 slice of toast - butter/grease is optional
around half a tomato per slice of toast

- Grab a warm slice of toast
- Butter it lightly
- Thinly slice the tomato over the toast
- Sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon sugar
Make a cuppa and consume, it's so yummy, you will be making two.

I've tried it on brown/wholemeal bread, if you do, you might consider a tiny sprinkle of ground pepper instead.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Milk Tart and Koeksisters

Aaah, the plaited jobs with lots of syrup.
Thanks to Christa Pretorius for this recipe

Duifie se melktert
2 k meel
1 eier
1/2 k suiker
1/2 k margarien
2 t bakpoeier
knippie sout
Room margarien, suiker en eier. Sif meel, bakpoeeier en sout saam. Knie deur en rol uit. Sit in tertpanne. Bak ligbruin en bere tot nodig.
4 k melk
3 eiers
2 1/2 e meel
sout na smaak
2 1/2 e maizena
3 e margarien
3/4 k suiker
Kook en berei voor. Eierwitte word laaste ingegooi. Gooi in voorafgebakte kors. Moenie weer bak nie. Strooi pypkaneel oor.

4 K meel
2 eiergele
2 t margarien
2 t bakpoeier
1 glas melk
knippie sout
Meng al die droe bestandele. Voeg eiers en melk by. Knie vir 20min. Rol uit, sny repies en vleg. Bak in diep olie en druk in stroop.
8 K suiker
knippie kremetart 4 k water
bietjie gemmer of suurlemoensap
Kook vir 10min saam.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Color your world

Here's a brave new product for a brave new world. I think we are always being told be brave, be bold and to "stand up for yourself". I wonder where that puts the meek?

All things in this world exist in balance, everyone has their own balance, now children can learn theirs too.

Go on, relive your childhood today.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

black thief in my yard

the thief breaking in...
Yep, he's carrying something I think.
Definitely a nut!
And the black squirrel is gone

Spam phone call

A female voice says " have won a trip to the Caribbean.
If you would like to hear more about your holiday, please press 1"

If you do, it just rings with no answer.

The number source is 0019515455076 - and we seem to get one every now and again (every few weeks) barring un-disclosed ID callers (I set this up recently) has definitely dropped the number of idiot calls we get. BTW, registering with the TPS is a waste of time.

[edit] The number to call is 1471, in order to hear who it was that called you up last [/edit]
Another junk call this (4-Dec) morning 02031891150, caller just hangs up immediately.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Call now!

24th November 2009
0871 6268804
Calls cost 10p on a BT Landline (other networks may vary)
From 9am until Midnight
Vote up to 10 times on both
fixed line and mobile phones

Monday, November 23, 2009

Passengers worse than dogs

Motor passengers were today treated worse than dogs, it's unclear why sanitation, and security was withheld for 4 hours when trapped on the M10 on Sunday afternoon.

Anyway, I think you get the idea, caught in a tailback that took an our to get out of, and 3 hours totally stationary with no information, no loos, and hence missing the plane at Heathrow by about 40 minutes.
I started out at 12:30, leaving 2 hours, with an hour and a bit to spare, to get there at around 4pm. M25 expeditions (it really is an expedition using this bit of gravel-way) have proved they can have 2 hour delays, and since I use it about 10 times a year, I get caught in a delay at least twice a year. I vipped myself (no that's not an english word) this time though, the customer experience was totally crap, I was treated worse than a bloddy dog. I am unsure of why people put up with this crap, probably because many other civil services are just as dismal.

Anyway I have started out to write to the Highways agency to find out why incident scenes are so dangerous. I'm not suggesting portable toilets get dropped off, just that people with problems get some kind of help. Hey I feel sorry for anyone ho got killed on the motorway, don't get me wrong. I also know that the boy-racers who cause the problems also get out of these accidents unscathed most of the time.

I know many people who turn even a 1 hour stint on the M25 into a "great trek", because it is concievable to get stuck for 5 hours. This has to stop.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ladybird, ladybird fly away home

What do you call a cluster of ladybugs?

This little group of 8 (two of them are rather dark) were found above the front door, where it's pretty cold. I don't know what they are surviving on, or are they simply resting here for a few days out of the way? The question about the 2 darker ones is probably the most interresting, any clues? They are alive, I gently dislodged one and it waddled off begrudgingly.

This is my test-victim, as you can see he is not dead at all, and giving me the 1000-yard stare after being rudely woken up. I feel bad about shifting these diligent predators outdoors, but it's probably better that way.

- A Ladybird fact sheet .
- Ladybirds do hibernate .
- How to make a bug motel - this is something I think we have seen again and again to death, but this time it's a tiny hotel that the kids can help make at home.

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sanity for sale

Maclaren are recalling childrens strollers in the US after more than a dozen children had their findertips removed. A mum over here in the UK is rightly angry, and I sympathize fully. But then again I can only wonder how many children have had function loss after getting a whole knuckle trapped in a door jamb - child-friendly and many public places now have hinge covers fitted for this reason.

The world is a dangerous place, but right now the greatest risk to my mental health stems from being jobless because of some ass-covering bankers and accountants.

Redundancy/Jobseeker SPAM

We do have a job offer available for you in response to your initial inquiry in reference 
to the job search directory in USA, CANADA and AUSTRALIA, which we have not been
able to process completely since we do not have a Book Keeper/Payment personnel in these region.

We have decided to recruit payment employee online, hence we will be needing a representative
to process our payments in your region. if interested please do supply the following order of requirement
as it appear below:

CONTACT ADDRESS (not p.o box)



Whatever will they think of next? I see people slipping into believing tricksters harvesting info all of the time. Businesses need to cough up on data protection all around the globe or else this kind of crap is going to get lots of people hurt.

... Conrad thinks Blair needs to learn how to use a 32-bit computer.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Job Wanted

Posted my VC online Web 2.0 style this evening.

It's amazing what you can do when you suddenly have time on your hands.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Website update due

This is a test, if you can click on the image to the left, then you are in the right place.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Resistance is really futile

That is if you name is David Nutt .
But, if you are made of ABS plastic, then it looks like it could be hours and hours of fun, 'you shall be assimilated'.

Friday, October 30, 2009

So long and thanks for all the fish

Today was my last day gainfully employed... for an unknown interval it would appear. I thought this subject-line would be an friendly goodbye, but it appears it was a bit too accurate. I've gone from Angry to disappointed, and just grumpy and nervous. Don't ask how to get grumpy and nervous all at once, I just am. Now I'm disappointed all over again.

Synopsis :,_and_Thanks_for_All_the_Fish
Buy the book :

It's gonna be a chilly weekend in the UK, so we are going to huddle together and watch more telly.

Friday, October 16, 2009

First Donation

I have recieved my first donation (hence the picture in the post before this one) from Melvin Philips on an Open-Source project I published ages ago.
So it's not that I'm turning to drink, I am just celebrating 3 years of open-source contribs.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Programming STDERR

It's frustrating when you want to get something to work, and nobody's solution fits. I had already gotten quite far on a problem and had it almost done when I found this neat solution to the problem of piping error messages sent to STDERR to a file on MSDN.

I needed to either write a huge perl-script(and without a debugger that's a cramp) or reidirect the stderr and stdout from a static code analysis tool called splint so that I can gather statistics on any dodgy lines of 'C' code.
Why a beer? Well that's a celebration of a slight change in the wind. Where it will go is probably nowhere, but it's a change nonetheless.

Returning to the redirecting of standard error and pipes, the downside it the default pipe-buffer size, in fact although you can easily increase the pipe buffer size, we all know a huge buffer is in-efficient. You see, unlesss you can empty a smaller buffer in the background while the child-process is filling it, the child will get blocked if it tries to overflow the buffer. A very bad thing, normally solved by spawning a thread to process and empty things while you wait for the child to terminate. I hate and love threads, so forgoing a complex solution, I solved this by simply waiting 100ms for the child to terminate, and then emptying the stream buffer in between by polling using WaitForProcess(). It appears to solve the problem, but exactly how?.... because someone has to close the stream in order to detect the end and not get blocked yourself in the parent waiting for a read on a dead stream?
As it so happens, the parent can happily close it's copy of the redirected stream handle and then keep reading from the duplicate knowing all will unblock when the child terminates (because the handle closes in the child when it does so). Problem solved.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

It often looks too far away to even work

It was said Goliath could throw his spear half the length of a football field, so that's probably how far David was from him. Furthermore, Goliath had body armour protecting him from head to toe, except for a small opening between his eyes and his forehead. That's what David aimed for.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

black thief in my yard

Black squirrel entering the back-yard over the fence....

Yep, he's carrying something there.
They are easy to photograph up close (contrary to some reports) and I soon got within 3 meters of this one because black squirrels are more aggressive than their gray cousins. The black colour is actually caused by melanin, coming from a dominant gene.

Zoom in and you can see, it's a nut!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

It is possible to fall off

Solid proof that it is possible to fall off. To be sure that's not all I have fallen off recently.

In other unrelated news, I have fallen off the social ladder by staring at unemployment. This is the first time ever for me that things are not my own choice; so how do we take it? I suppose we could talk about hope, we could talk about prayer, we could talk about humility.
Maybe all it means is time to clear out the closets, air the loft and start anew. Bad thing happen to bad people, bad thing happen to good people, even to great people. God lets sh%t happen all the time, I mean He let stuff like life and intelligence and self-awareness happen. He let random subatomic particles happen too, I don't do that stuff at all tho.
Time to get the shovel out and find work because I expect I have only got a few more weeks of real motivating work still to do. I hope it's not so, but due to the lack of respect held by some people in suits, I now shall have a chance to get to the loft.

Hey if that was glum!
My mum is coming to stay with me next month. maybe I will let her hold the camera, which I so closely guard every time we go out so as not to monopolize every photographic composition. (grin)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

999 and Facebook Apps

The sticker that means my house could blow up due to a gas leak on 10/10/10 and it would be my fault.

FaceBook Flood
Do you have millions of friends on facebook? I find I am staying in contact with a lot of people I would never have, and in so far it creates a way of publicly meeting with folk I know - but Facebook Apps (the advertising/Commercial side of FB) are invading my time, every day I have to brown-down at least one person by ignoring a request to install a virtual vaccum-cleaner or aquarium. Every home needs a vacuum cleaner, but it's like ice cream, fun - but not achieving anything more than a environment to chat a little longer.
So if I dont' respond to your Pokes, Bloody Marys or Bacarat, it's because I'm busy cleaning up a desert island oil-slick, not offense meant nor taken.