Friday, January 25, 2008

The Mouse

This cheeky little bugger just ran across the living room floor while I was working on my laptop... Had an interesting few minutes catching it, the bloody things are fast.

After a text-book double take, when it realised I was there, it disappeared under a settee. When I lifted this up I was treated to a contemptuous "Is that in the rules? Are you allowed to do that?" look... Clearly this mouse was one up on the usual run of the mill rodent. After that we had a chase up and down the curtains, behind radiators and under various cupboards before I finally outsmarted it (a close run thing) by setting up my electronic mouse trap in one part of the room and then going and making a lot of noise in another... I swear there was a very pissed-off sounding "Squeak!" a second or so after the trap clicked shut.

Suppose I'd better evict it then. Another trip down to the village churchyard in the middle of the night, soon the locals are going to start talking...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Rat

Take one cuddly toy rat, as shown above, and tie it to the kitchen door with fine fishing wire arranged so that when She Who Must Be Obeyed opens the door it will 'run' across a work top in front of her.

Set this up before you go to sleep and you are practically guaranteed to wake up to the sound of screaming.

Of course, it could be your own if you wake up when the contents of the washing up bowl are thrown over you. And it seemed like such a good idea at the time...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

China trade

So, on the day that the rags start shouting recession the idiot in charge of the country states that boosting trade with China will create tens of thousands of UK jobs. That means tens of thousands more people employed selling goods made in China, presumably.

Does it take much intelligence to understand how utterly fucking useless those jobs are and how fast they'll disappear when the oil finally runs out and the pound crashes?

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Today Richard demonstrated he can't even blow up a capacitor properly.

"We're going to blow up a capacitor, want to watch?"

Now, anyone else would ask "why?" at this point, but experience suggests that I wouldn't like the answer, so after due consideration I downed tools and followed him. A very alert observer might have noticed the pause.

In his room he'd already attached wires to the capacitor, which was potted inside a box as part of some device or other. I suppose the idea was to see how safe the device was if this capacitor ever decided to explode in normal use, but as I say, I didn't ask.

A power supply was attached, connected backwards across the poor cap and switched on. Cue rapid exit from room... The power supply quickly ramped up to about 4 volts and about 3 amps.

"Twelve watts? It's not going to last long" I opined, from the doorway.

"About... now, I'd expect" I ventured, after several seconds had passed with no visible result.

"Any time now..."


After about a minute at 12W I wandered in and wound up the supply up to full power, which was about 20W. People started to cower...

A minute or so passes, with nothing visible happening.

"Twenty watts? I don't believe it..."

I wander over to the device and feel it - it's distinctly warm... No smoke, but I do start to smell a rat - "You did disconnect the cap from the rest of the circuit, didn't you?"


Gah... Bloody capacitor's probably laughing itself silly while the rest of the circuit dumps all the power.

Wrong end of the shtick?

The loonies otherwise known as Scientologists appear to have a strange idea of promotion, given that Tom Cruise's promotional video is not supposed to be seen by anyone outside the church... Hmmm.

You can understand why they'd want their ridiculous ideas suppressed though.

Absurdity here

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Health and safety

I've just been told some H&S flunkie thinks that my office is dangerous because I'm using extension leads and have too many plugs connected to a single socket.

Sighing, I point out that it's test gear and the whole lot only takes a couple of amps.

"Aha! But what if the cleaner comes along and plugs a vacuum cleaner in as well?"

I point out that it would need an extra two and a half vacuum cleaners to get up to 13 amps. Or a vacuum cleaner and an electric kettle, or... but no - it's pointless trying to use reason in these circumstances.

"Doesn't matter. You can plug lots of thirteen amp plugs into that extension, and overload it"

I point out that it doesn't actually fucking well matter (I've skipped a bit; I'd reached very pissed off by this point) what you plug in to the damned thing because it's only got a thirteen amp fuse in the plug at the end, so the worst you could do with an overload, however unlikely, would be to blow the fuse. That's what fuses are for, for fuck's sake. That's why we have them... But no, this doesn't work either:

"All those wires constitute a trip hazard"

"Huh? It's under a fucking desk, who's going to trip over it? Pinoccio? The seven dwarfs?"

"Anyone could fall over it after the cleaner has pulled it out to plug their vacuum cleaner in..."

From there on it degenerated. Because of this fucking moron and his H&S nazi friends it is no longer possible to use extension cables in an office - not because of any real danger, but because of some inane set of pseudo-scentific rules dreampt up by some innumerate and illogical pillocks somewhere, which cannot be disputed... What the hell is the world coming to?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Olde Highscore tables

While rummaging through old files I came across the highscore tables for the last mainstream game I designed (back in 1986?)... Could anyone not have read this and realised I'd had enough of writing games?

I see children with vacant stares
I thought I heard them say . . .
Don't think sorry's easily said
The price of infamy , the edge of insanity
Talking 'bout stupid things
She is dancing away from you now
Take me for a fool if you feel that's right
Or a whipping boy , someone to despise
Please don't look at me this way

It's coming for me thro' the trees
And you may ask yourself
Wonder why . . what makes me rise so high
Surely you know-the chance has gone by
And my spirit is crying for leaving

We're not scared to lose it all
Security gone to the wall
Future dreams we have to realise
A thousand critics hands
Won't keep us from the things we plan
While we cling to the Things we prize
And do you feel scared - I do
But I won't stop and falter
And if we threw it all away
Things can only get better
Treating this as though it was
The last , the final game
Get to christmas and feel no regret
It may take a little time
A lonely path , an uphill climb
Success or failure cannot alter us

[And this text was hidden from the user in memory but followed on]

Oh well , excuse me , I have some ageing & dying to be getting on with.

Global warming

Just about every time I've looked at the news for the last few years there have been scenes of excitable foreign types burning something. Flags, cars, buildings, effigies, churches, people... No wonder we suffer from global warming.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Smoking gun

One of my amplifiers has blown up... Sob.

Quite possibly the best audio power amplifier in the world one minute, a 50V DC power supply the next... Thank the gods I have electrostatic speakers with DC blocking capacitors inside 'em or Jan would have found herself in the front garden beating off one of the cones.

Gah. I blame Bielzibabe - if it wasn't for him poking his fingers into everything I would have to put the amplifiers into a cupboard, and they wouldn't overheat.

Teach me to wind the bias current up for winter, I suppose...

Van Manisong

I was moved by an incident a while back to pen an ode to the white van man:

(With apologies to Carly Simon)

You drove onto the motorway
Like it was a parking lot
You immediately made for the outside lane
As if you'd reserved a spot

You had one eye in the mirror
But god alone knows why
Nothing you see there alters your driving
Alters your driving and...

Driving a van
You probably think that lane's reserved for you
Driving a van
I'll bet you think that lane's reserved for you
Don't you? Don't you?

You'd have had me several years ago
When I was still quite naive
Well I've learned since then you haven't a clue
And that you will always weave

Perhaps you'd give way to the ones you love
only none of them are real
Ignoring our screams
You were drinking some coffee
Drinking some coffee and....

Driving a van
You probably think that lane's reserved for you
Driving a van
I'll bet you think that lane's reserved for you
Don't you? Don't you?

Well somehow you must have passed a driving test
Perhaps you took a gun?
And now you race your van on the public roads
Endangering us for fun

Well, you're in the wrong lane all of the time
And like as not you're right
Up the arse of
The poor sod in front
Poor sod in front, and...

Driving a van
You probably think the road's reserved for you
Driving a van
I'll bet you think the road's reserved for you
Don't you? Don't you?

However, someone called Felix Dennis, in a book titled 'When Jack Sued Jill: Nursery Rhymes or Modern Times' has done it rather better:

(To the tune of Old King Cole)

White Van Man has a very white van
And a very white van has he,
Except for the dents and the rust by the vents
And some very rude graf-ee-teeeee.

He drives in his van as fast as he can
And he neither hears nor sees,
He clings to his phone like a dog with a bone
While he steers with one of his kneeeees.
He picks his nose while the tailback grows
And yacks to his front seat crew,
But a fool so rash as to honk or flash
Will receive his fingers twooooo.

Oh, White Van Man has a very wide clan
Who profess no Highway Code,
They'll shunt your rear and yell in your ear
As they U-turn in the roooooad.
He stamps on his brakes when he overtakes
As he cuts up you and me,
For White Van Man has a very white van...
And a very white van has heeeee!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Software challenge?

While watching scrapheap challenge it occurred to me that we should do a software version so that programmers wouldn't feel left out.

Something along the lines of having them trawl the web for scraps of obsolete and buggy source code, then bodging these poorly-understood fragments together to make a flakey application that can be made to do something badly after only an hour of tinkering, and which is then thrown away as useless.

We could call it "programming"...

Friday, January 04, 2008

Who watches the watches?

Richard has just, in passing, mentioned that his watch claims to have 27 jewels.

"We're paying him too much"

"We're paying him?"


"Hang on, it can't have 27 jewels"

"Why ze 'ell not?"

"Well, they're bearings aren't they? One at each end of a shaft? How the hell does it manage to have an odd number of the damned things?"

Richard is currently attacking the poor thing with a screwdriver...

He'd be better off clicking here...

Artificial sarcasm

It used to be the custom for mathematicians, philosophers and the like to encode their ideas and discoveries as cryptic anagrams so they could later supply the original text to establish their priority.

Today I was idly reading part of Wikipedia and was amused, and very nearly annoyed to discover a couple of places where other people were being given credit for inventing things that I'd done years before... One example was syntax highlighting in text editors, the others were in a similar vein [1]. Well, my development tools still do one or two useful things that programmers haven't yet thought of and it struck me that I really ought to get the olde anagram generator out and encode the ideas so that I can use them in my dotage to support claims of "Idiots - I was doing that forty years ago!" and suchlike profoundly unhelpful but satisfying remarks.

Unfortunately the first anagram it came up with started "Oh dear me, holier-than-thou..." (that's not the complete wording, no point decoding it) which I took as a hint and abandoned the whole enterprise.

But what the hell - here's one for you all to be going on with. Decode this and untold millions of programmers will bang their heads on their desks with cries of "Why the fuck didn't anyone else think of that?"

"Oh dear me! Damnation, the stealthier acuteness"

Mind you, it's probably easier to just get me pissed and ask nicely.

[1] Of course, I could just edit the entries in Wikipedia, but somehow changing them to "Actually, Design Design invented this in..." seems a little bit too sad. Besides, who's to say we were the first? Good ideas that give a commercial advantage are not openly discussed. The whole idea's intrinsically flawed and offensive.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The big bang?

While explaining some cosmology to my daughter:

"You have to understand that most of the astronomers involved were men. It was probably quite a small bang really"...