Everybody needs good neighbours

Following a repossession and a long vacancy, the house next door has a new owner, who is doing it up. We share a drive and I bumped into him as he was unloading decorating stuff from his car. I’m not good at chit chat. “Hello” I said. “Hello” he said. “You own the house now?” I said. “Yes” he said. That was the point I realised I had completely run out of conversation. He stared with increasing panic at me while I frowned furiously, trying to think of something else to say. This continued for a while. My brain had seized up completely, locked at 100% CPU, trying to think of anything to say that wasn’t just fucking insane. Meanwhile, my facial muscles stayed the same in the absence of any further direction from further up the head. In the end he dived inside the house to escape the steady but vicious frowning that was being pointed in his direction.

The next day I was brewing up some beer in the garage with the door open. I was at the stage where you boil it with the hops, and I had a nice rolling boil going in my large stainless boiling pot. My boiler has various wires coming out for heaters, thermometers and the like, along with taps and attachments for chilling the liquid once the boil is done. I had my head immersed in the aromatic steam when I spied my neighbour walking from his house to his car. He spotted me and looked puzzled, so I thought I’d try to be friendly again. I was trying out a large friendly grin when it occurred to me that it might look a little odd that I was grinning at him with my head immersed in steam coming from some weird contraption with wires and pipes coming out of it. I couldn’t help it when my grin turned into a bit of a giggle, which must have added to whatever effect my steamy grinning was having on him because his quizzical expression turned to one of alarm and he almost ran to his car.

The day after that wasn’t any better for neighbourly relations. I was leaving for work in the car, just as his car appeared at the end of the drive, turning in from the main road. I stopped and started waving my arms about a bit, mouthing words to convey the message that it was perfectly OK for him to continue down the drive and I would reverse back into my parking space so he could get off the main road safely because I’m nice like that and not a dangerous maniac. I’m guessing that from his point of view, the dangerous maniac with the weird laboratory in his garage was annoyed that he was coming down the drive, getting shouty and angry. He reversed back on to the road at high speed in what was, quite frankly, a shockingly dangerous manoeuvre. I tried to catch his eye as we passed but he seemed to be hiding behind the steering wheel.

I haven’t seen him since and I’m not quite sure how to convince him that I am almost normal and really not that dangerous.

I’m so popular!

"We must invite Naich. He's so fucking sophisiticated."

Gosh, where do I start.  There are so many people want me to join their exclusive circles.  I had a letter from the Vice Chancellor of Cambridge University (or “Vicey”, as I call him), asking me – actually more like begging me to join him for a swanky reception with canapes and vino.  He used the excuse that it was for my 25 years service working at the uni, but come off it – who wouldn’t want the company of a badly dressed, slightly brain damaged electronics technician, staggering around guzzling wine and belching pastry fumes?

But even more exciting was my email invitation to join the Freemason Illuminati.  I didn’t even realise there was one until I got their mail!  They obviously like the cut of my gib and I was just thinking it was about time I heard from the shadowy evil secret rulers of the world.  If anyone would like any favours once I’ve joined the select elite, let me know.  This is what they sent.  It all seems totally legit.

Date: Sat, 17 Mar 2012 09:30:03 +1200
From: freemason illuminati <noreply@freemason.org>
Reply-To: order@illuminati.umail.net
To: yourorder@fi.org
Subject: we call

You are receiving this mail in regards of the freemason confraternity  of the
whole wide world (FCWWW).

You are moving well in what you are doing but in order to make it easier for
you, we have concluded for you to be a part of us as a member to sign your
life to us and have any thing you need.

Be it any thing in the whole wide world.

You can’t refuse us now for it’s too late.

Get back to us now for your Illuminati membership Order and also for you to
know more about the ancient ILLUMINATI FORUM and also the Orientation and
goals that we pursue.

Get back to acquire your goal now.

I can’t wait to set up some sort of super-villain style base on a Caribbean island.  I’ll need some sidekicks if anyone is interested.  You’ll have to improvise with the sinister weapons until I get set up properly.  I’ll see if I can get some sort of poisoned dart cigarette holder made up, or maybe a miniature gun in a mobile phone, but in the meantime you could use a brick in a sock to bludgeon people to death.

Cat 0 : Linux 1

I went to do some stuff on my PC the other day to find that the cat had been sleeping with her paw on the “Print Screen” button. This button starts up a program that takes a screenshot and brings up a window asking where you want to save it.

Holding down a key keeps repeating the keypress, so as long as the key is held down it’ll keep starting up new copies of the program, again and again and again, as fast as it can.   It is the PC equivalent of sitting stationary in your car with your foot firmly pressed down on the accelerator. The cat had been sitting like that for quite a long time.  Everything had ground to a halt and the status bar was just 1 pixel wide grey stripes. There was a black box on the screen where the last “take a screenshot” window had popped up but the poor PC didn’t have enough CPU left to actually fill it with anything.

The mouse was barely moving so there was no hope of actually using it to close the windows. It was time to use Geek powers and drop to the command line. I hit CTRL-ALT-F2 and waited for a while. Several seconds later the terminal came up and although it took a few seconds for each keypress to register, after a couple of minutes I was actually able to log in. An incantation of “ps -ef |wc -l” showed there were 3,600 processes running. Each screenshot capture takes 3 processes, so there were 1,200 screenshot programs running simultaneously. I gave it some Linux magic – “killall gnome-screenshot” and everything instantly sped up. I did some more killing and everything went back to normal – in fact there were no ill effects whatsoever and the computer worked fine for the rest of the day, with no need for a reboot or anything.

Jimbo once started up 140 text editors which barely slowed the PC down and Luna couldn’t kill it with 1,200 screenshot programs. Linux – impervious to cats and kids.

Update: It’s been pointed out that I should have used “pkill” rather than “killall”.  Killalling, while relatively harmless on a Linux box – a bit like trimming a dog’s claws, is the Unix equivalent of taking it out back and shooting it in the head with a rocket propelled grenade.

Not funny

Have a look at this story – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-12449643 Headline: “Million children ‘severely maltreated’, says NSPCC”.

Holy shit! “One in four people in the UK, aged between 18 and 24, claims to have experienced severe violence, sexual abuse or neglect as a child, says the children’s charity the NSPCC.”

Then you read the article and find out that the study which was about rape, attempted rape and physical abuse “also included ‘serious emotional neglect or lack of physical care or supervision’, which it defined as including ‘parents never or hardly ever asking their child who they were going out with or where or what they were doing’.”

Ah. That’s bad, but it’s not in the same league as rape or physical assault.

“This category also included children reporting that ‘the child’s family never let the child know they cared about them’.”

Again, not good but putting it in the same category as rape and physical assault? But maybe I’m cynical and it’s not the case that the vast majority of abuse was in this far lower category that just happened to be lumped into the ones that grab headlines? Let’s take a look at the report and see the actual numbers. Ah. The “report” seems to be mainly pictures of sad looking children, quotes of horrendous abuse and NSPCC logos. Not many numbers to work with.

This is why I don’t give money to the NSPCC – they use dodgy data to lobby and further their own cause. They use tabloid tactics to mislead people into a think-of-the-children panic based on scary headlines.

Every time I see bullshit like this it reminds me why I donate to Barnardos instead.

What now?

I feel I should write something but I lack inspiration. The first person to reply with a suggestion gets a blog entry written about it.

Changes to naich.net

Due to the ever increasing costs of hosting my web sites, I’m afraid I am going to have to start charging for the content on naich.net. This is not a decision I have taken lightly, but it is necessary in order to allow the continued production of the high qaulity articles you have come to expect.

So, from May 1st, a week’s subscription will cost £1.00, a month subscription £3.00 and £55.00 for a full year. I think you will agree that this is a small price to pay for my informed comments and unique perspective on the important matters.

Thank you.

A quick rant

My phone is a Samsung D900i and sometimes it annoys the fuck out of me.

If I want to change the display background, it pops up an “Are you sure?” box. Why? Oh no! If I get it wrong, I might have to change it again. On the other hand, when composing a text, if I hold down the button used for deleting single characters for 1 second, it wipes out everything I’ve written. No warning box, no “Are you sure?” – just splat and my carefully composed message is gone for ever. This happens to me a lot, usually near the end of a long text that has been difficult to compose, and I’m thinking hard about it and not noticing that I’m holding the button down while deleting the last word of my heart-felt… *pop* there it goes. Start again. Argh.

And then, once I’ve written and re-written my text, if I’m trying to send it from a dodgy reception area it gives me a prompt to try again or cancel.  Fair enough.  If I click cancel, it asks if I want to save it.  The soft button that was “Cancel” then becomes the “No” button for “Save?”.  Because when I can’t send a message due to poor reception I usually want to delete the fucker, rather than save it to send later, don’t I?  That one was easier to remember the 10th time it deleted my message with no fucking warning.

Still, at least it makes sure that I don’t accidentally change my background by mistake because that would be REALLY bad.

Carlsberg couldn’t give a fuck – and that’s official!

Well, it’s been two months since I first sent Carlsberg an email complaining
about their driver, who was delivering to the Revolution bar. He basically
challenged me to a fight when I asked him if he was aware that his lorry was
illegally parked in a dangerous position (email below). A month ago, I sent another
email, asking Carlsberg if their lack of response meant that they condoned
the actions of their driver. A single word in an email would have denied
it. Other than a confirmation that they had received the first email,
there’s been nothing from them to suggest that they don’t approve.

Maybe I should have gone over it?
Maybe I should have gone over it?

This morning, going down the same bit of road, there was the large Carlsberg
delivery lorry, parked jauntily on a bit of pavement and completely blocking
the contra-flow cycle lane. While the other cyclists swerved round him,
head on into the oncoming path of the traffic, I stopped to take a picture.
However he was just leaving and went past,  giving me a cheeky grin and a wave, while my phone camera was slowly chugging into operation. At least he didn’t run me over.

So no reply from Carlsberg, and their drivers are still happily breaking the
law and putting people’s lives at risk. The only conclusion I can draw from
this is that at best, Carlsberg don’t care about the behaviour of their
drivers or the people who’s lives they put at risk, or possibly, they
actually like their drivers to be abusive, dangerous and law-breaking.

So next time you are in the Revolution, drinking some Carlsberg carbonated
burping water, raise a glass to the driver who delivered it, a young man who
bravely risks other people’s lives and is quite happy to threaten people
because he can’t be arsed to walk the few extra steps from the loading bay
round the back.

Here’s another picture of the lorry parked in the same place, a while ago.

Or I could dig a tunnel under it
Or I could dig a tunnel under it

This is the original email I sent:

At 7.50am this morning (16/9/09), I passed a Carlsberg lorry parked in a mandatory contra-flow cycle lane in Downing Street, Cambridge, making a delivery to the Revolution Bar [1]. His parking was not only illegal but dangerous, forcing me or any other cyclist using the cycle lane into the main road and into the path of oncoming cars.

The driver was unloading from the back of the lorry, so I stopped and asked him if he knew he was parked illegally in a cycle lane. His reply was “Yes, I know. What are you going to do about it?”. It was a bit early in the morning for a fight with a delivery driver and I was late for work, so I left it at that.

The follow-up:

Hi. It’s been over a month since I made my initial complaint, and since I have not had a response from you (other than a brief email to say the
complaint had been passed on), can I assume that Carlsberg condones (as implied by your apparent inaction) the aggressive behaviour and the illegal and dangerous parking of their drivers?

Open up

If you apply for a job at Cambridge University, you’ll have to fill out a form from their HR department. Which is fine if you don’t mind printing out the PDF and filling it in by hand. To fill it in on a PC is a bit more difficult. The only other options are .doc and .rtf files, which don’t open properly in OpenOffice. In fact they don’t open properly on my copy of MS Office at work either.

So I re-created it on OpenOffice. Here is the PD17 form in an open format. I tidied up some of the more egregious mistakes from the original, but it’s still a bit grim, formatting-wise. It should be OK for editing and printing though, and at least you can open it in OpenOffice without it crashing down in 100% CPU flames.