Friday, 5 November 2010

The punter strikes back.

Working where I do at the moment - at the site of a major broadcaster - I occasionally have to visit offices occupied by some of the creative departments. One of them creates small props for TV shows.
Sometimes you really wish you were there when the person lit the first and only one of the stolen cigarettes!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Disable your Adblock!

Has anyone seen this page appear recently?

Surely the idea of pop-up and adblockers is to stop all of this happening. 

CPA Lead is a web advertising agency and to be honest, I think they've missed the point - as have some of their customers. I suspect that this is going to make matters worse for those customers who have taken this script and it will actually decrease the amount of traffic through their sites, rather than boost their customer's - and therefore CPAlead's own income.

Just as an experiment I disabled adblock on a page that presented this message, just to check out  the  ads on the page. Practically every ad on the page was for a company or a product that I'd not use because I can't get them where I live on this side of the planet. The only ads I did find that were remotely relevant were from Google - those at least were from companies in my own country.

Not sure this is a good company either. Looking through their blogs and the comments that people have left I get the distinct impression that as far as they're concerned there isn't a world outside of  North America(possibly even outside the USA). They are also very good a dodging the question.

I wonder what the writer of Adblock/Adblock Plus has to say about this?

Oh, by the way, you can get around it with AdBlockPlus.
  • As the page loads, go to the adblockPlus icon and select:"Disable on this page only".
  • Wait for the page to finish loading
  • de-select: "Disable on this page only".
You get to read the page AND not have to worry about pop-ups getting in the way or get that stupid message!

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

"Greening" IT

I've just been browsing through the latest crop of IT trade mags that drop onto my desk around this time of the month, and it never ceases to amaze me when I see headlines "Most efficient data centre to date".

Without exception every single story I have seen of late that has a picture attached, either an external shot of the building or an internal shot of one of the data halls, shows the damn thing has been built in a converted factory unit!

Whilst I will admit that there are a growing number of these that have some form of environmental containment, surely it's about time that people began to look at the buildings themselves and what can be included in the design and construction stage to lessen the need for the more expensive solutions.

And yes, I agree. If there's no option because your data hall has to be built inside an exisiting building with no hope of re-designing the structure, then containment is your only option.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

U-turn, or just a new set of paints.

So Channel 5 are back in with Canvas, Hmmm. did someone over in Murdockville not put up a very good case for staying out? Is the Sky not the limit any more?

I used to find it strange that anything the BBC did was immediately poo-poo'd or lambasted by RM and his crowd no matter what it was. These days, I just find it sad and predictable.

Monday, 12 July 2010


Canvassing Support.

Bertelsmann who own the UK's Channel 5 have pulled them out of the Project Canvas consortium, just when broadband was looking to be a serious competitor to DTT and DSAT for streaming output to the punter.

For those of you who want to know the consortium had the idea of another set-top box, this one dedicated to picking up streamed content on the web and letting you watch it on your TV. Considering that the only serious web-based competitor to this is Windows Media Edition, I thought this would be a winner.

One caveat on that though..... there's still over 10 million people who either don't have or don't want broadband, which may put a crimp on what the consortium are doing if it were delivered tomorrow, but as they are taking their timer and developing this slowly, I think Bertelmann are leaving the party too early.

via El-Reg

Crossed eyes forever!.

UBIsoft's UK marketing mogul Murray Pannell has gone out on a bit of a limb recently and said that there'll be a 3Dtv in every home by 2013.

Yeah,.... right,......

OK, I think he might seriously look at the current sales figures for HDtv - they still aren't great for either the sets or the set-top boxes. I honestly think he needs to rethink himself. I wouldn't even know where to find what the figures for those who still don't even have DTT, not a show-stopper, but still a significant number I would have thought.

via The Independent


I'd never heard of Martha Lane Fox until all the quango-culling happened when the Con-Lab coalition came to power after the last election. She was head of what was called the "Digital Public Service Unit": one of Gordo's last few inceptions before he and the Labour party lost their remit to govern. She's put herself forward as a sort of digital champion.

She's published a document which is both a masterpiece and a travesty of publishing. Her "Manifesto for a Networked Nation" is - if you can bear to read through it before your eyes give out with the ludicrous colour scheme and almost infinite changes in font - is a laudable aim. She has done her homework reasonably well, even if she is colour-blind. And don't think her website is any better: it fries the eyes as well.

via Digital Spy - which is far easier to read than her manifesto

Monday, 5 July 2010

Health News?

Oh dear, Here we go again.

Fat Police
When does political correctness become political stupidity? I think a recent case in Barnsley (U.K) is a good indication of this. The parents of an eleven year old boy who is 3 lbs (count them) over the guide weight for children his age and height have been sent a letter from their local PCT (Primary Care Trust) saying that he is obese! The child is fitter and more active than most children his age since he swims, cycles, and even dances on a very regular basis.

And what do these brain doners say in their defence? "We are following national guidelines." Yes you are aren't you. Blindly and without the use of your God-given intelligence.

Via The BBC

Solve the problem, not the symptoms.
Why are modern management graduates so good at missing the point? Another story picked by several different news agencies was that figures released recently show that the A&E departments of a number of  hospitals are getting busier and busier. This is causing over-crowding because of the fact that the A&E staff are keeping people in for observation for between 12 and 24 hours - just in case.

What do we have? Some idiot saying that if these people are not being kept in hospital for less than a day they shouldn't be there at all.

How does that saying go again? Oh yes "Lies, damn lies and statistics."

Via The BBC

Friday, 11 June 2010

Data Centre Headaches.

It's a bit of a pipe dream I know as I don't have any budget for this at all, but surely I'm not asking for the impossible or indeed the only person looking for something like this?

I'm looking after a few data centres and machin rooms at the moment and actually managing the power systems and environment needs automating badly! I have no remote monitoring of the power and I have some geriatric environmental monitoring systems that are seriously on their last legs.

What I need is a PDU to install in the racks that can give me:
  • 2 inputs
  • Static Switch between them.
  • 8 - 12 outputs 
  • Sequential start on each port
  • Remote operation of each output
  • Remote monitoring of each port
  • Environmental monitoring of Teperature and humidity.
  • Central management of the lot: e.g. stats gathering etc..
I keep looking but I never seem to find one that does everything, just a subset of what I've listed.

Friday, 28 May 2010

We don't care, we don't have to - we're the phone company!

Now I don't often slag off the bandwidth providers as I have to work with them so often, but this news story caught my eye this morning and I could only think of a hot, brown, semi-solid organic waste product. This was unfortunately also accompanied by a case of Deja Moo.

The village is rural, not remote. The nearest town is less than 7 miles away. There's no way you can make me believe that no-one in the town has broadband!!

£130,000 ($190,000) for a domestic broadband install? No, that's just a confidence trick.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Plenty to discuss..

Is it me or do these two look very alike - possibly even the same person?

Friday, 14 May 2010

Even journalists are human!

I got this one pointed out to me recently - It shows just how your average newsreader stays sane having to pass on the gloom, doom and despondency that news agencies make their living with. From personal experience - having worked in such an organisation this is mild and fairly good natured. I have seen an anchor who, the moment the transmission lights went off ran screaming from the studio and punched a hople in a partition wall in the make-up room.

I know an anchor that took advantage of not being seen below the waist and read a very sombre news item in black tie and jacket... and the filthiest pair of jeans you've seen in your life! Just a pity pocket video cameras didn't exist back then.

Visible Protests?

What ever you do, try not to work for a media or news company (or even their service cmpanies) if you want a quiet life. Working for one of our customers means occasionally having to walk past or - at worse - through a demonstration outside their offices. In the many, many years I've been going to this particular company's buildings only once has the protest I've encountered actually been aimed at the company itself. More often the only reason the protest is there is so the protestors give themselves a chance of getting their point aired to the general public.
The most recent one was a human rights issue with the current Iranian government. Having scanned all the media sources following the event, it appears the only people who noticed this group were the people actually trying to get passed them.

Collision Detection!

Why is everyone worried about CERN's monster accelertor? Don't they realise that there's enough antimatter being produced around the globe already? They're doing it State-side all the time. Quarks, strangeness and I remeber a third one - charm. Whatever happened to that? Maybe it only exists at budget time!

Friday, 7 May 2010

Oh what a circus, oh what a show....

.... paraphrasing Andrew Lloyd Webber.
As if the world hasn't realised, the U.K is going through the torture of it's General Election and is heading for what's called a "hung parliament": baiscally with none of the major parties having an overall majority.

I'm not a political; person as such, I leave that up to my wife who is outspoken to say the least: her beliefs being described as slightly to the right of Ghengis Khan. I make no comment myself. I will admit of being an avid watcher of the whole process of the Election due to the wonderful Circus is becomes over those weeks that lead up to the point where one or other of the party leaders heads off to Buckingham Palace to get the "Royal Assent".

The coverage from the national TV companies can be hilarious especially when life catches them on the hop and the headless chicken syndrome descends on the production team. Another humerous thing is the graphics and gymnastics some of the commentators come up with when trying to expalin the "current situation".

Leaving the jokes about "... having enough rope for all those necks!" in the first analysis this is not a good situation for the country, it doesn't make for a stable political situation. On further analysis it may be good for the Liberal Democrat party for a short length of time as they have enough members to acctually sway any vote in the House of Commons either for or against which ever of the larger parties becomes the Government.

In short I will be glued to the coverage for some time.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Discredited systems causing discrimination.

I suspect that this is the beginning of a new topic series here, as this is not the first of these I've come across, and I doubt seriously whether it will be the last! Not only that, but this is not the first time rank stupidity from the county of Shropshire has made it to the national media.

A boy of five has been labelled ".....clinically obese as his body mass index put him in the 99th percentile [for his age group]." The child is 3'10" (1.17m) tall and weighs 4st 2lbs (26.3kg), and if you look at the picture of him from the Daily Telegraph, I find it hard to believe anyone with a gramme of common sense would call this boy obese.

Well, as usual it appears that "common sense" is a mis-noma these days as they have used the modern version of the height/weight chart: the BMI Index, which doesn't take account of the body's density in any way therefore even most super-fit athletes come out as clinically obese!

Even the NHS give the guidance to their own nursing staff that: ".............the [BMI] system is to be taken as a guide only and should not be used for children or the severely overwieght."

For those of you who are wondering how it's done, the formula is simple, take the person's weight in kilos and divide this by the person's height in metres squared. If you work in Imperial measures, then its pounds  x 703 divided by height in inches squared: height versus weight. quid pro quo!

Monday, 15 March 2010

Small minded people

Whilst waiting at the checkouts........
Woman: "How dare you go around drunk with your family!"
Me: "At least if I was drunk - which I'm not, I'd be sober tomorrow... you'd still be ignorant!"
Woman: ".............."
Me: "I have MS. Deal with it!"
Applause from those around me.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Conspiracy Theorists forward!

I wasn't sure - as this is diabetes related - as to whether to post it here or on Diabetes Daily. I decided to post it here and link from DD as being the easiest option.

Someone posted - in jest - that Diabetes was unheard of before 1947.  Actually there is documentary evidence that the early Egyptian civilisation had recognised the symptoms; they just didn't know what it was and what caused it.

That aside, the gist of the thread was whether members believed there was a conspiracy going on that was preventing a cure for the disease. The concensus was that there was no knowledgeable one, which goes to prove one thing that I maintain: there's no such thing as a conspiracy, just blatant stupidity. I'd like to invent a word here to sum it up:
Stupiracy: Stupidity that appears to be a conspiracy, but borne out of ignorance.
Yes, there is a blatant stupiracy going on here and it's all down to that wonderful ideal:- profit. Obviously a lot of this comes from pure greed, but some of it - as I've intimated - is just pure ignorance.

The nub of the matter is that the governments of the world have a serious healthcare problem building due to the increase in the incidence of diabetes, especially what they term "type 2". They are all seriously worried as to how they are going to pay for this. My simple suggestion is:
tax the convenience food manufacturer's additives, especially high fructose corn syrup
Now here's why I say this.

Let's start with the root of the problem. The actual incidence of what is erroneously called by a lot of clinicians "type 2" has escalated quite alarmingly since WWII, and it cannot be put down purely to the improvement in diagnosis of the disease: the statistics far out way this as being the only factor. So what has changed since the late 1940's?


Now some of this rise can be blamed on the lifestyle changes that our modern world has given us: we are more sedentary, the degree of manual labour has decreased, cheap powered personal travel is extensively avbailable. But you cannot put it all down to this. The price of food has dropped overall, but not in terms of the healthier alternative, and don't get me wrong, I'm not going to go all the way out the other side and blame it all on what we call "fast food". What I'm blaming is the content of fast food / junk food / convenience food call it what you will, it comes preprepared and you just stick in the microwave for five minutes..

I cannot prove this personally: I'm not a research chemist, but it cannot be coincidental that instances of diabetes have increased with the increases of cheaper additives and ingredients being put into pre-prepared food. How do I come to this unscientific conclusion?   My wife has been allergic to apples since she was a child: they give her severe abdominal discomfort and at first it was thought that it was the high level of fructose within them that caused this. We could live with this, just buy pears and other hard fruit and we'll be OK. Then I did some more research. Pears and bananas actually have (weight for weight) more fructose in them so this obviously couldn't be the entire story.

Now comes the scary part. We started to notice that certain favourite "packet" and pre- prepared foods were starting to produce the same problem as apples and at first we couldn't work it out: we read the ingredients list looking for things like apples and cider and they just weren't there. Then we noticed that one particular item (a favourite biscuit) started to produce the problem that hadn't the week before and by chance we hadn't thrown away the old empty packaging. Comparing the ingredients list we instantly noticed the difference:
"high fructose-glucose syrup".
The older version of the product contained just "glucose syrup". We checked other products: they were the same.

More digging around the inter-web revealed what might be the problem: the ratio between fructose and glucose within the food! There are three main "versions" in common use within the food industry, all different "strengths" of the same thing: They are called HFCS42, HFCS55 and HFCS90. Now the name should give you a clue.

HFCS42 has actually got more glucose than fructose in it. a ration of about 1:1.1
HFCS55 is 55% fructose and 45% glucose: a ratio of about 1.2:1
Pears are about  66% fructose and 34% glucose: a ratio of about 1.5:1
Apples are about  70% fructose and about 30% glucose: a ratio of about 2:1
HFCS90 - the most common is 90% fructose to 10% glucose : an enormous ratio of 9:1!!!

Why do they use HFCS90? Well it's a simple calculation, the sweeter something is the less you have to put in, so the less you have to spend.

How this "ratio" causes the problem is someone else's research grant - I don't have the training. All I know is that as the number of products containing HFCS has increased so the number of these products in our shopping basket has decreased!

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Deja Vu or Deja Moo?

In the news today, Toyota are having engine management problems: the car's brakes don't seem to want to work sometimes. It seems I've heard this all before somewhere... way back around 1998 with the Ford Explorer and Ranger models here in the UK having cruise controls that suddenly set themselves to some ridiculously high speed and wouldn't let go of the throttle.

This is not the most worrying aspect of this "occurrence" as far as I'm concerned. What I find more worrying is the initial response from both manufacturers was exactly the same when the problems first became apparent:
"Problem? What problem? There's no problem!"
In the case of Ford, it had to take a couple of severe accidents that couldn't be attributed to either mechanical defect or "pilot error" for them to even begin to admit there was a problem, and to show how widespread that problem actually was, the recall is well over 4.5 million vehicles worldwide as of the end of 2009.

At least Toyota were willing to entertain the possibility of a problem existing or though why the customer facing parts of Toyota in both the US and UK say they knew nothing until very recently says a lot about the "never admit blame, even if it's true" culture in both countries. Come on guys, what's better; admit that you may have got it wrong or have the stigma of at least one very large lawsuit hanging over the company's profit forecast for a number of years.

As my wife often says to Customer Service departments: "Better safe than sued!"

Oh, the definition of Deja Moo: "having heard that bullshit somewhere before."

Monday, 1 February 2010

Breaking the life timer.

In the same week that one woman is cleared of murdering her daugher and another sentenced to nine years for helping to end her son's life, Sir Terry Pratchett has entered the debate over Euthanasia. For those of you who aren't familiar with Pterry's situation, he has a rare form of early-onset Alzheimer's disease which affects his communications skills: not something a talented author like him would wish for. He has called for the creation of tribunals to hear the pro's and con's for each case so that the relatives are not put in the same situation as the two women who are subjects of the news items linked to above. I will agree that there were slightly differing situations, but I cannot agree that Frances Inglis' case was wildly different from Kay Gilderdale's.

This is not the first time I have blogged on this subject: I made mention of it in September. when the case of Debbie Purdy a sufferer of MS (very similar to my own condition) came into the news.

What ever your own views, I say this: I am in agreement with the majority of people who think that this situation where someone has made the concious choice to end their lives risks putting their relatives in jail for helping them do it. In Frances Inglis' trial, the prosecution appears to have made her actions to appear malicious. I disagree the only malice shown here is by the system wishing to legally prolong the agony of a terminally ill person's life for no other reason than out-dated laws and the institutionalised mistrust of people's motives!

We do not permit the suffering of a seriously ill animal to be prolonged, why should we permit this cruelty to be exacted on our fellow humans?

Being in a somewhat similar position as Sir Terry; it may not be Alzheimer's, but it is still an incurable, degenerative disease which will eventually cripple me, I offer him,  Frances, Kay and their families my wholehearted emotional support.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Have we sealed our own fate?

A thought has occured to me recently, considering all the health problems I'm currently suffering. It is simply this:
Would I actually be alive if all the anomalies in my genetic code had been eliminated by the process of natural selection?
Think on this. The morbidities currently uppermost in the psyche of Man are exceptionally rare in any life form not having been messed around with by us: i.e. those that we haven't tried to manipulate in some way by breeding etc.. Those that do suffer from them get them by - for want of a better phrase - "secondary transfer", in other words because they can't escape our detritus.

I know there are evolutionary dead-ends out there: flora and fauna that have not changed in millions of years such as the Ginkgo biloba plant, crocs, caymen, gators and the like or everyone's favourite insect - the 'roach'. But the reason they haven't changed is that their family trees have hit the buffers, their adaptation is perfect for their little niche in what's left of this planet's eco-system.

I will not get into the "creationism" debate, it just isn't worth it. Suffice to say that if there is any indication of intelligent design, it certainly isn't homo-sapiens: we have just too many physical problems.

My point is this: I do not believe we have reached the pinnacle of our existence in terms of what we could become. By prolonging the life of people with genetically caused problems for so many centuries now, have we actually caused ourselves to stop evolving? If so, what could we have become?

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Random Thoughts No. 3

Why is it that dry cells come in packs of four yet most toys and gadgets use them in two’s three’s or fives!

Product marketers forward please – WE KNOW IT’S YOU!

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Tribute to an Ordinary Man

In Memoriam
Donald Daniel Simmonds
7th May 1931 - 13th December 2009
My father died on the 13th of December 2009: he finally succumbed to cancer at about 6.00am that morning. It was expected, just not this soon. If anything can be considered good about someone’s passing it is this: he never got to the point where either the cancer or the drugs could cause him any pain – physical or psychological.

Born 7th May 1931 in Fulham, South East London, he spent most of his childhood dodging the best the German Air force could throw at them. First a cub scout, then a scout, he and his contemporaries acted as the communications for the emergency services of the day, and as extra man-power for the LDVF and ARP, erecting table shelters in people’s houses. This was on top of a full day at school remember. He first met Mum in the scouts and guides (Her first name was Marion actually, but she preferred her middle name, June), who would later become his wife.

After school, came an apprenticeship with the North Thames Gas Company (Bad Smell and Smoke Company to the employees), and the re-acquaintance June.

WWII not having been over for that long, most if not all young men in the UK were still subject to National Service: Dad served in Klagenfurt; Austria, near the border with what was Yugoslavia. He fell in love with the country and the people and vowed he’d come and visit the place again. After National Service, it was back to work, and a change of direction, becoming an instrument maker for St. Thomas’ Hospital in Central London.
On 30th April 1955, Mum and Dad tied the knot at St. Mary-le-Park Church in Battersea, literally a stone’s throw from the Park, and three years later they were safely delivered of a son: yours truly.

By this time, Dad had taken on a new job as a service engineer for the fledgling service division of the BOC’s medical equipment division. Based at Brentford, his “patch” was most of South London, Kent, Surrey and Sussex: I remember the days when he would take me as company on the long trips to the furthest calls, including a nursing home in Brighton run by a group of Nuns. I always seem to make an impression on them as Dad told me of the frequent trips up and down the long corridors on a trolley pushed by a giggling group of novices!

While I was still young, Grand-dad Simmonds died of diabetic complications causing gangrene, and Dad inherited the four-story Victorian terraced house in Clapham where I spent most of my young life. The top two floors were given over to flats and two Tongan’s lived there. Daniel worked at John Lewis’ In Oxford Street and David worked at the Ritz. Tongans are an outgoing race and many times we were invited to “do’s” around London. Invariably we would end up back home with 20 or 30 of the community back at the house in Clapham with the food, drink and music flowing into the night.

Eventually, we had to move as the house was costing just too much to maintain as flats. We said a heart-felt goodbye to the Tongans and moved on. We settled in Surrey and stayed there until Dad became an instructor at the company’s training department in Harlow. We moved as a family to St. Margaret’s, near Stanstead Abbotts and immediately became actively involved with both the church and the Scouts and Guides in the area. It is amazing how quickly news travels in the Scout Association…. within two weeks of moving in, the District Commissioner for the area was on the door step welcoming us to the area.

Both Mum and Dad threw themselves into the life of the community and fund raising for various restoration jobs that the beautiful little Church in the village, becoming church wardens, and Dad becoming Crucifer and server at the Church.

Shortly after Dad retired, they decided to move on and settled in Hickling, a small village right on the Broads in Norfolk, again becoming actively involved with the community and St. Mary’s – the parish Church in Stalham – the nearest town, but as Dad put it ”….having a rest from the Scouts.”

In 1996 he became very ill very quickly, losing somewhere in the region of 70lbs in less than a few months. Diabetes had finally caught up with him. As usual, his attitude was, “OK, how do we cope with this and get back to normality?” It didn’t take long before Dad was Dad again.

We lost Mum in 2005, again to cancer – this time it was an un-diagnosed problem, not the cancer that eventually took her. Dad in his usual way outwardly took it in his stride, but you could see the pain of loss: suddenly being without someone you have been with for 50 years is not easy.

Even at this time last year the cancer still had not shown itself. Only at Easter was it noticeable that something was wrong, so wrong that he actually went to the doctors. His weight had started to drop again, losing his appetite and he was constantly tired. Initially the diagnosis was anaemia and he was sent for tests to try and find bleeding in his intestines: the classic way it hits someone of Dad’s age. After several sets of tests – including colonoscopy – they couldn’t find any bleeding, but he was still losing red blood cells. Regular transfusions kept him going and a CT scan was conducted. The results were clearly visible to see and the reason why he was anaemic was there for all to see.

The cancer had started out at the base of the oesophagus, where it splits into two for the lungs. It had finally spread to the lymph system and carried to the adrenal glands, and it was this that was causing the anaemia. It had been slowly spreading for quite some time: it was only Dad’s lifestyle and constitution that had hidden it for so long. It was now just a case of not IF but WHEN.

On the 2nd December, he had a fall at home as his legs were getting weak and was admitted to Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital. As he’d been preparing a meal when he fell, we as a family went up to try and get the house tidied up for when he came home. As I had to come back home for work, the last time I saw my father was the Sunday before he died.

My father wasn’t famous, he wasn’t one of these people that does something heroic, he was an ordinary man who could never turn away if someone needed help.

He had time for everyone.

He was slow to make friends, but he made them for life.

He was always ready to “muck in” and get his hands dirty. If you were stuck, he’d be there to help.

To the best of my knowledge he never held a grudge to any soul, living or dead, no matter what he thought of their character.

The one thing I will say about him is what he once said to me:- “Father by Birth, Friend by choice.”