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Showing posts from 2005

George's thought for New Year.

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What's wrong with people?

I swear people are so stupid, so arrogant, so inconsiderate these days it's getting depressing. For example we were in Barnes & Noble today at the overpriced coffee stand, and these two women at the table next to us got up, having made a complete mess, and left a huge pile of books on the table, and just walked off. What the hell? Are they so inconsiderate that they won't put the books back? They'll walk around the store and pick them all up, but then after having their cup of overpriced coffee they'll walk off an leave them for someone else to clear up. What happened to common decency? Too much trouble to drag their lazy asses back to the proper shelves I suppose.
Then at Albertsons - not one but two women drifted into the gigantic painted yellow "NO PARKING" area, and parked, got out and walked into the store. Apparently so stupid they can't read, or so inconsiderate of everyone else that they would prefer to park where they want no matter how much …

Christmas is over - time for Valentine's day.

So Christmas is over and ShopKo and Albertsons have their Valentine's day displays up today, with cards, gifts, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and everything.
It's not even frickin 2006 yet! Give me a break! I wonder if the Easter merchandising will start on February 15th ?

George's thought for Christmas

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Lunarpages DoS attack.

My website has gone down - all of it. I called the Lunarpages helpdesk and they've got a pre-recorded message on there. Apparently their backbone servers are undergoing a massive denial-of-service attack which has towed a ton of their websites down.

At long last

Beatport finally had an update yesterday and a couple more trance tracks I was looking for turned up, notably Who's Watching / No-one's watching by Armin Van Buuren. Several other sites have had this for a while, but Beatport are the first to put the Remy and Roland Klinkenberg remix up for sale.
♫♫N'ka n'ka n'ka n'ka tss n'ka n'ka n'ka n'ka tss.....♫♫

♫Close your eyes♫

Armin's ASOT episode 227 from last week is about the best one he's done in the last couple of months. He's intro'd a new track called Close Your Eyes by Robert Nickson featuring Elsa Hill. Suh-weet. The volume in my headphones is currently way the heck too loud for my own good.

True American Excess

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I witnessed something this morning which illustrated the excesses of the average American. I was at the Subaru garage getting the car serviced when this couple came in complaining that their 2005 Outback had started smelling funny a couple of weeks ago. Long story short : the coolant temperature light had come on when she'd been driving and she didn't know what it was, so did nothing. As a result, the coolant pump had welded itself to the engine block because the bearings had gone, so it was no longer pumping coolant. Once it had welded itself in place, it stopped rotating, so the timing belt was skidding around it instead of turning it. The engine had been running incredibly hot - no coolant - and it's probably only because the weather hasn't been above freezing for three weeks that she didn't blow up the engine completely. Subaru reckoned in the ballpark of $4,000 to fix it - new engine basically. And this is what just made me gasp in disbelief. She turned to her…

Looking at the world through B*sh coloured glasses.

This is priceless. From a news conference on the NSA spying scandal:
"My personal opinion is, it was a shameful act for someone to disclose this very important program in a time of war. The fact that we're discussing this program is helping the enemy."

Honestly I laughed for nearly a whole minute straight when I read that. It's a fine example of B*sh's complete ineptitude. We're not at war. He never made a declaration of war and neither did anyone else. So that's either a lie or a misunderstanding - both of which he's known for. And discussing this program helps the enemy? I laughed so hard 7up came out of my nose. Please, someone - anyone - post a comment and tell me how this helps "the enemy". Does B*sh really presuppose that anyone with a nefarious agenda doesn't know about Echelon? Does he really believe that they'll be using tappable lines of communication? The man is so detached from reality it makes it even more disturbing that …

Snow + cat + neighbour.

So Dory finally came in last night after my mum and dad had gone to bed and curled up on the bed with us, which she hasn't done for months. Every time she heard someone else get up though she went out and we had to get up and get her back in.
It snowed a lot overnight - about 15cm so I got to break out the snowblower this morning and do the driveway and sidewalk. I finally met our new neighbour over the street too - she was out in her pyjamas manually (side note : total hottie) shovelling snow so I offered to help. Apparently they used to live in Montana so she said they're used to it. Russ was out with his blower too and we've cleared enough away between us that the next time the snow ploughs come down the street, they'll nicely fill in the gap with a solid mountain of ice.

Dory's gone...

We picked up my parents from the airport yesterday afternoon and as soon as we got home, Dory (our cat) shot out of the house and wouldn't come in. We managed to get her in last night but only by picking her up and carrying her in. Today she took off as soon as the cat flap was open and we've only seen her at the bottom of the garden. Now its started snowing and she's not even coming to the bottom of the garden when we call. She's not been in or used her litter box or had any food since this morning. I'm worried sick that she's going to leave us.

Questar Gas are raping us blind

$135.48!
That's my gas bill this month. Same month last year, when the price of a barrel of oil was nearly identical? $87.51.
It even shows it on my bill in decatherms per day - last year 0.33, this year 0.34
But the cost per day has shot up from $2.92 to $4.67
They're profiteering, obviously. We've got a frickin oil refinery on our doorstep - if I stood on the roof of my house I could see the flames from the refinery stacks. Yet we have petrol over $2 a gallon and natural gas at record highs.
If the price of oil is the same, then it can only be one thing : corporate greed, as promoted and backed by B*sh.
This is all because Jon Huntsman fired the consumer protection guy - Roger Ball - for fighting too hard for the consumer. Result? Nearly double the price for utilities thanks to a closed-door meeting with the division of "consumer protection" and Questar.

A wrap up of this week in Bushworld.

B*sh approved and allowed the NSA to spy on his own citizens without cause and without court orders. What a shocker. There was another world leader who did the same thing some time ago. Around 1939.
The NYTimes broke this story today and confirmed that worse still, White House asked it not to publish the article, "arguing that it could jeopardize continuing investigations and alert would-be terrorists that they might be under scrutiny."
Wow. Spying on its own citizens and suppressing the media, all in one day. I'm impressed!
B*sh of course won't confirm or deny this (his words) "can't discuss specifics because it would compromise our ability to protect the people". Excuse my French but that's bollocks
A 1978 law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, makes it illegal to spy on U.S. citizens in the United States without court approval. It's Americans spying on Americans. Why does that sound so familiar. Oh yes. Tom Ridge in his July 2002 speech …

Indicate, THEN brake.

How frickin' difficult can it be to remember to indicate before slamming on the brakes when driving? Not once, not twice, but three times this morning I was caught out by stupid Utah drivers jamming on their brakes in commuter traffic, bringing an entire lane of traffic to a stop then indicating and turning. Employing a little brain power, common sense and courtesy by indicating first would have allowed the rest of the traffic to make provision for them turning off. But no - best to just nearly cause an accident by stopping suddenly for no reason. The third of the three wasn't even at the proper turning, and naturally wasn't even on the proper side of the road. Once they'd figured out they were at the wrong turning, they accelerated again in the same lane, then drifted across three lanes to the left (no indicators of course) nearly running into two cars and a motorbike, and turned left (across traffic) (with no indicators) (without looking) nearly causing a fourth acci…

George's thought for friday

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Xbollox 360 "flacid" in Japan

One of Microsoft's published goals with the Xbollox360 was to capture and take over the Japanese gaming market. This weekend marked the beginning of that onslaught. Feverish queues of eager Japanese gamers snapped up 62,135 machines over the weekend. Or to put it into perspective, only 39% of the 159,000 units that were shipped to stores.
Believe it or not, this launches the Xbollox360 off to an even slower start than the original Xbollox in Japan. The original black space heater shifted nearly double the number in its first couple of days - 123,000 units.
So I guess their quest for the Japanese market has fallen flat on its face - more so than the original launch.

Which is terribly funny.

Roll on the PS3.

Ice skating in hell.

Hell has officially frozen over:
"President" B*sh today accepted responsibility for going to war in Iraq based on faulty intelligence. "It is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong. As president I am responsible for the decision to go into Iraq."
At least he's finally accepted responsibility. Now if he'd just stop blaming "faulty intelligence" and admit that he's a warmonger, we'd be getting somewhere. After all, it was B*sh who decided to invade before the weapons inspectors could finish their jobs, and thus by ignoring the weapons inspectors, he proved he was ignoring intelligence. The actual intelligence was not faulty at all, but he still feels he has to blame someone other than himself.
Of course this admission of guilt has nothing to do with trying to bolster his numbers before next year's mid-terms.

B*sh gives first indication of how much he values human life.

In a press conference today, B*sh admitted that possibly 30,000 Iraqi civilians had died since the beginning of operation Iraqi freedom, or whatever the current moniker is. He shrugged it off as if it was nothing important, as if it was just an everyday occurance. As if, in fact, he wasn't responsible for it. So he's admitted that because of America's invasion of Iraq, 30,000 civilians have died as a direct result. And shrugged it off.
Let's just say that a little more loudly :
Bush has admitted America's involvement in Iraq has cost 30,000 civilian lives.
Quick history lesson for you, and a little bit of maths. Conservatively, Saddam Hussein is said to be responsible for the deaths of 500,000 Iraqis during his 20 year regime. By the numbers, lets say 25,000 a year. B*sh is responsible for the death of 30,000 Iraqis in slightly under 3 years, lets say 10,000 a year. Ok the B*sh apologists will say "2 and a half times less than Hussein" but that's not the…

Armin nails it - and hides it.

I let my rip of Armin Van Buuren's "Shivers" overrun today - never listened to the whole CD before - always stopped after the last track. But I let it run on and at 70 minutes and 4 seconds is one of the best renditions of Jerusalem I've ever heard, and I'm not religious by any stretch of the imagination. Quite how I'm not sure but the bass pipes sound as if you're standing in an actual cathedral. I didn't know CD's or MP3s could capture that much range.
Nicely done Armin - and well hidden.

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?

And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark Satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till …

Keeping up the fear.

The government's mouthpiece (CNN) took only 42 words to mention terrorism as the possible cause of the oil refinery explosion in Buncefield back in England today. The BBC website doesn't mention it at all. In fact, most reports on non-American websites attribute it to an accident, despite generating the largest peacetime explosion in Europe. Most American websites, on the other hand, mention the "T" word in the opening paragraph. They all eventually get around to it being an accident, but the mere fact that they mention terrorism is indicative of what a stranglehold the Whitehouse has on the press over here. Any opportunity to keep the population scared.

CNN - 1st paragraph.
ABC News - 3rd paragraph.
Fox News - Entire 5th paragraph, and tying in Al Qaeda too - impressive.
CBS News - 2nd paragraph.

BBC news - no mention of terrorism.
ITV news - no mention of terrorism.
Sky news - no mention of terrorism.

And so on and so forth.

A new breed of virus - phishvirus ?

I've discovered a new technique being used by virus writers and fallen prey to it. A phish-type email, but for software. I'll explain ...

The problem started when I got an email telling me the latest version of Winzip was available. Turns out to have been a phish-type email. I clicked the link and it took me to a website that looked just like the Winzip site, I downloaded the software and installed it. The site was in fact a spoof and the software packaged did nothing other than riddled my system with virii and trojans as well as install the free trial version of winzip. Interestingly none of AdAware, AdWatch, Microsoft Antispyware, Norton and McAffee detected anything being installed. I kept getting winlogon.exe application errors and eventually traced it to a file called msupdate32.dll, and then when I went looking, the can was open and the worms were everywhere. Literally.

I had manually remove these files, sometimes with the aid of a program called moveonboot, and manually s…

Microfuckingsoft Word

Day after day after day I have to put up with nothing but crap from Microsoft. Today I've spent over half an hour trying to insert a numbered chapter into a document. I can't do it. Every time I refresh all the fields in the document, it thinks the body text of the new paragraph is part of the table of contents, and it thinks that heading number 40 comes between heading numbers 41 and 43. I don't get it. MS Word is so fucking counterintuitive and unproductive it's a miracle anyone ever gets anything done in it.
How do I simply get the fucking thing to count from 41 to 42 and not include the text as a heading?
Why do I have to waste my time with this shit?

Could it get any worse for Sony?

After all the bad publicity for Sony in the last couple of weeks with XCP, would you believe they've been caught red-handed again?
Now they're recalling 5.7million CDs which they published with MediaMax5 on them - another piece of spyware, which although not as malicious, still leaves PCs wide open with gaping security holes.
The obvious question then is this: given that these things have been found on a number of different Somy BMG CDs, just how many technologies have they tried to employ, and how many other CDs are out there with stuff on that we've not discovered yet?

The googlepenny drops.

I just checked my gmail and saw a new notifier on the side of my screen for something they're now testing called GoogleTalk. The penny dropped. That's why Google have been buying up dark lines all over the country. They're going to start their own network and go into VOIP telephony! Clever. Very clever.

Bang bang, you're dead.

Some guy learned an important lesson about joking about bombs on aircraft today - don't. He used threatening language on an American Airlines 757 and then claimed he had a bomb. When confronted by the onboard air marshall, he refused to comply, ran down the aisle of the plane and reached into his bag. These are not the actions of someone wanting to live long. The air marshall shot him and he died at the scene. No explosives were found. Someone travelling with him said he was mentally ill and hadn't taken his medication. Okay fine, how was anyone else supposed to know that? And even then, you simply do not joke about shit like that in an aircraft, mentally ill or not. And frankly, having made that "joke" you don't run away from a gun-wielding air marshall who is instructing you to get down.
I'm sure the facts surrounding what happened will come to light in the next week, but on initial inspection I say "well done air marshall" and "tough luck dea…

The Google 767

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Instead of settling for a much smaller jet like Gulfstream as personal airplane, the Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page have bought a used Boeing 767 from Qantas for about $15m (much less than a new Gulfstream). The plane is now undergoing refurbishment in Texas somewhere to carry 50 passengers as a bizjet.
As much as I'd like to believe this is the actual plane, it's got to be a photoshop. It's a good one but it's let down by the "O" around each window. The Boeing 767-200 has a lot more windows than that in real life. Besides which this looks more like a 767-400 - it's too long. Close but no cigar.

Deep Freeze

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Ready for this? It's -14.7°C this morning. With a minus. Apparently that's warm compared to how cold its going to get tonight ....

It snowed like a sonofabitch last night though. The snow was drifting most of the afternoon but at about 15:00 it came on hard, right in time for the evening commute. I was installing my new hard drive and discovered the "gotcha" which is that they included everything except the SATA power cable so I had to go out and get one. By the time I went out it was mor(m)ons on ice big-time. There were SUVs up on the kerb, on their sides, on their roofs, ploughed into concrete pillars, in the sides of trucks - it was SUV carnage. Notably I didn't see one car-related accident - they were all SUVs. But then if people are stupid enough to buy and drive one, then they're stupid enough to believe an SUV is a safe vehicle in the snow. Makes me laugh.

Anyhoo, this morning, the crisp -14°C air has given us a fantastic view across the valley from the…

Good deal from CompUSA

I ran out of hard drive space on my PC at home this weekend so went looking for a new drive to add in to it. CompUSA had a killer offer but none in, until today. A 200Gb Maxtor serial ATA drive with a Maxtor interface card in the box for $99 after rebates. The kit was $149 with $20 off in-store and another $30 in rebates. And they've made the rebate process easier than ever. You can now go to their e-rebates website and put in all the info off the register receipt, then they match up their inventory and till receipts with your data, process the rebate and send a cheque. You don't even need to cut out the UPC any more and send it in the mail. Suh-weet.

Blammo. And I witness yet another accident.

Apparently one of my jobs in life is to be witness to car accidents. I've seen 4 since we moved to Utah and given statements to the police on all of them. Add one more today. We were on our way back from getting lunch and going north at the intersection of 2700S and 1300E the woman in the red minivan in front of us sailed through a red light and straight into the side of a white sedan, right in front of us. No brake lights, no slowing down. Just full tilt through the lights. I parked up and put my hazard lights on and went to see if the old guy in the car was okay. Fortunately he had side airbags so that saved him from mashing his head against the B pillar. The police, fire and ambulance turned up and I had to give a statement.
The woman was so ditzy it was unnerving. She actually said to me "I noticed the lights were red as I drove through them and thought 'why are the lights red?'"

?!?!?!?!?!!!!!!?!?!?!!!!!!! What the FUCK woman? You noticed the lights were red a…

Finally the TSA have employed a braincell.

From December 22nd, the TSA is going to stop treating people like criminals if they're carring scissors, small blades or wrenches. Those are three of the things which are being taken off the "banned" list. This is A Good Thing because it means they'll be able to spend more time looking for stuff which might be dangerous, and less time arresting people for no reason.
Of course the news agencies got hold of some knee-jerk scared white woman for a quote. The BBC's was one of the best:
"When weapons are allowed back on board an aircraft, the pilots will be able to land the plane safely but the aisles will be running with blood," said Corey Caldwell, a spokeswoman for the Association of Flight Attendants.
Apparently Corey Caldwell isn't too bothered about the axe, the emergency tool, the three oxygen cylinders, the defibrilator, the toilet door handles, the seatback table legs, the aluminium strips in the overhead bins or any of the other multitude of objec…

Xbox 360 in "not as good as PS2 shocker".

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Several game sites have now concluded the following:
(1) if you don't have HDTV, the Xbox 360 is a waste of money
(2) in some cases, the PS2 does a better job of graphics for the same game.
Case in point, King Kong. On the left, the PS2 screenshots, where Jack Black looks like Jack Black, and the girl looks quite attractive. On the right, the Xbox 360 screenshots where Jack Black looks like a pitt bull licking piss off a stinging nettle, and the woman looks like she's done 10 rounds with Mike Tyson (in the ring boxing our out of the ring being slapped around, your choice).
This raises another interesting question : why are the game houses remodelling 3D items for the Xbox 360? The same models are used on the Xbox, PS2 and Gamecube. Why change for the 360? Is there something in the hardware that makes life difficult for the programmers?
Roll on the PS3.
(photos shamelessly copied from Wired.com article, but straightened up in Photoshop)

B*sh in it for the long-haul or the popularity?

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B*sh was on TV this morning yakking about something, but one phrase stuck out. He said "We will not settle for anything less than absolute victory in Iraq."
Guess he's in it for the long haul then. Because he's never going to win that mess. More likely, of course, he's going to bail out slowly to try to boost the popularity of him and the Republicans in time for next year's mid-term elections.

2005 anthems.

Keeping up with your trance anthems? Reading my blog regularly? Tell me my blogger reader, where do these lyrics come from then? Drop me a line in the comments.


Won't you stay tonight?
Let the truth shine bright
Where can love be found?
If your heart won't feel

Memories
Emotions that we share
Teardrops
Signing my face

How could it end this way?
Don't leave me, love me
Just a little bit longer..................


Or if you want another track, try:


Ooooh she's so special
Ooooh so fucking special

On and on and on she cries to men
On and on she makes me feel so special
She's a devil in disguise
She's a golddigger

Holy Snot!

Life imitates art. Remember how unfeasible the surgical operation was in Face/Off? Not any more....
BBC story.

Mealy-mouthing in Washington.

You know things are going badly when one of the Four Horsemen starts quibbling about the definition of a word. Rumsfeld today decided that the insurgents in Iraq should no longer be referred to as 'insurgents' because he says it gives them too much legitimacy. (I'm sure they care about legitimacy).
Suggested alternatives are "the terrorists", "the enemies of the government", "anti-Iraqi forces", "Enemies of the legitimate Iraqi government", "foreign terrorists", "Saddam loyalists", "Sunni Arab rejectionists", "criminals" and plain old "people that do it for money."
That last one is my favourite. Because obviously people who blow themselves up are doing it for the money. I mean what else are they going to use to buy their Gucci when they're a smouldering collection of hundreds of pieces of burning flesh?

Donald mate - it doesn't matter what you call them. Changing the words used t…

Cyber monday eh?

So if we're to believe the news last night, "Cyber Monday" is historically the biggest online shopping day of the year.
Except that the term "Cyber monday" was dreamed up by a marketing bod at shop.com just over 8 days ago. And if by "biggest" day they mean "12th biggest", then yes, it's the "biggest" day in online shopping. And if by "historically" they mean "since Nov 21st 2005" then yes, it is "historically" the "biggest" day in online shopping.
Business week story
That explains why I'd never heard of it before. It's marketing bollocks.

Amazon is broken, pt. 2.

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Continuing the theme from a couple of weeks ago, I was surprised to find this recommendation on my amazon page today, based on a rating I gave to Finding Nemo. Maybe it thought I was Fisting Nemo. Or Fisting Norman Lamont (there's a good old reference if you're English and remember the old music awards on C4).

Kicking Microsoft whilst they're down.

Because I love to kick Microsoft whenever I can, I thought this was a nice little story today. A new study by Nielsen Entertainment shows that the PS3 has more going for it than anyone expected, most of all Microsoft. Desperate to get a chunk of the gaming market, Microsoft rushed their Xbox 360 to market complete with flaws and crashes. Sadly for them, the Neilsen study has shown that over 50% of gamers aren't buying the Xbox 360, instead choosing to wait for the PS3 before making a decision.
This feat is enormous for Sony, considering there hasn’t been any official announcements or advertising. Consequently it's terrible news for Microsoft who believed that being first would win them the business. It's going to be a classic case of second mouse to the trap getting the cheese. Sony can bide their time safe in the knowledge that when the PS3 is released, it's going to whip Microsoft's ass.

Yes, winter is upon us.

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Three days of snowing later, and winter is definitely upon us. The mountains look nice and white, as do the rooftops. And you can tell it's winter because of the number of SUVs on their roofs and sides, flipped over on the side of the road. It was like mor(m)ons on ice this morning. It seems that just as with the first snowfall every year, Utahns have forgotten how to drive in the stuff. I suppose it's only natural though. There's only snow on the ground for 5 months of the year - it's not like they should be able to remember :-)

Fan-tastic.

Great. High fuel prices mean more people are switching to hybrids. And you know what B*sh wants to do now? You can guess can't you. Go on. Yes you can.
The US Chamber of Commerce is suggesting the federal government tax hybrids and other fuel-efficient cars. The chamber says the federal Highway Trust Fund is running out of money to maintain the nation's highways, and that Congress needs to consider new sources of revenue. Chamber leaders also are suggesting billing drivers for miles driven. The study also recommends the federal gas tax of about 18 cents a gallon be indexed for inflation. Proponents say drivers should have to pay their fair share to fill potholes and fix bridges, regardless of how much or what kind of fuel they use.

Way to go. That is such a retarded idea I just can't comment any further other than to say the US Chamber of Commerce needs to get its head out of its collective arse and do exactly the opposite of that suggestion. If anything they need to give t…

And so to winter?

It's started raining. The weather bods (even the plastic toy on KUTV) reckon we're in for snow tomorrow through to monday, with another storm wednesday and another on friday. We could be waking up with a light dusting of snow in the valley in the morning, or a foot of snow. We'll see. And if we still have power, I'll blog :-)

Black friday. Why?

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and today was the usual Black Friday. I think this is a peculiarly American thing because some people started queuing last night for the sales today. Stores opened at 6am and people started fighting in some stores trying to get deals. We were in Best Buy getting a couple of DVDs in the afternoon and it was a total zoo. Anyone would think they were giving stuff away or something. It was insane. Why people all shop on the same day I don't know - all the sale items will be there tomorrow, and sunday. Why 6am today?
And some people were spending an unbelievable amount of money. One guy in the line in front of me had two DVD players, a camcorder, a digital camera, two PDAs and a stack of DVDs probably 20 deep on his cart. All these items were the same price today that they'll be tomorrow, and on sunday, and in the pre-Christmas sale, the Christmas sale and the post-Christmas sale. It's stupid. These people need their heads examining.

Something every American should be scared shitless to read.

Deborah Davis' website
Read it. And if you're pro-B*sh, please remember that this happened on your watch, and your chosen "president" is the man who signed into law the Patriot Act which could be used to do this to everyone, anytime, any place, for no reason. If you can read that website and still not see B*sh for the dictator he is, or understand the rights and freedoms he's eroding from your country, you should be ashamed of yourself.

George's thought for Thanksgiving.

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Xbox 360 news just gets worse by the day.

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iSupply.com have done a breakdown on the Xbox components, now that the machines are actually available. The news is much worse than Microsoft would like us to believe.

The materials inside the XBox360 cost Microsoft $564 before assembly. Semiconductors alone account for $340. The IBM-designed chip at the center of the console costs about $106. The Seagate hard drive costs $53, and the Samsung memory chips $65. The console sells at retail for $399, meaning a loss of $165 per unit just in parts. ie. it doesn't include labour costs. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. There's more than just the console in the box - the power supply, cables, and controllers add another $55, pushing the loss per unit to $220. And these prices include the assumption that Microsoft are getting discounted prices on their components. Now take into account the actual cost of assembly, labour, the case manufacturing, switchgear, smaller items (like screws to hold it all together) and packaging and…

XBox 360 launched with a whimper.

So it's finally here. The news last night had reporters on-site at the lengthy midnight queues around the city. And then we heard the news. Our local BestBuy store - one of two serving about 2 million people, had - wait for it - 45 units to sell. The local SprawlMart had only 14. The next closest SprawlMart had 8, and between them, the 4 closest GameStops had 11. So for basically the whole of the north of Utah, there are 78 Xbox 360s to go around. Not quite the massive fanfare we'd been led to believe.
On top of that I watched G4's XBox360 special last night and I have to agree with the fat black bloke with a bad rastafarian hair job - given the videos Microsoft showed, I'm considerably underwhelmed by their idea of "next generation". Frankly it looks no different to the Xbox. A bit of a letdown for a box with as much power as it supposedly has. I guess the embedded Windoze OS is taking up all the memory and processor power. Or something. Either way, Call of …

A games console with a GUI?

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Riiiiiiiiiiiiggghhhhhht.
XBox 360 comes with a truly Gatesian interface, and by Gatesian I mean bloated and unnecessary. Who the hell puts a GUI on a games console? Well apparently Microsoft does.
Put the disc in, play.
How much easier should it be than that? Well if you believe these screenshots, it's damn near impossible to actually play a game.
And that irritating bowed image effect you're seeing isn't the result of crappy photography. The interface actually looks like that. I'm not sure but I think those doughnut shapes that look like the deflection amp in the TV has gone actually move and pulsate too.
I feel nauseous just looking at the still images.
And if you can believe this (and being Microsoft, you probably can) I read a preview today that said the Xbox 360 wireless controllers suffered from lag. Nice.

"Help us SonyWan, you're our only hope."

From the "that's too funny" file...

Remember the DRM problem Sony had in the last couple of weeks, where it installed spyware and rootkits onto PCs when you tried to play their CDs?
Get this :
That whole incident can be made to look even more stupid by the knowledge that the DRM technology can be defeated easily. The user can simply apply a fingernail-sized piece of opaque tape to the outer edge of the CD, rendering session 2 - which contains the self-loading DRM software, unreadable. The PC then treats the CD as an ordinary single-session music CD, and all CD ripping programs will continue to work as usual.

Worse still (for Sony at least), even without the tape, your common or garden CD ripper software would still readily duplicate the copy-protected disc in its entirety, complete with session 2.

So all that hassle, 568,000 infected networks, millions of machines open to rootkit problems, antivirus companies and Microsoft having to write removal tools, and all because of what? Because of our old friend the RIAA. There'…

New themes for spam this week.

From my spamfilter this morning, the weekend's new themes for spam are:
- safe spray-on tan
- people trying to give me watches as a gift
- lots of people trying to sell fake hoodia supplements
And one person who apparently is so desperate to get hold of me that she's sent 18 emails from 18 different addresses with 18 different phone numbers. Gosh. It must be important.

Also this weekend I saw the latest drug-company-fabricated medical condition. RLS - Restless Leg Syndrome. I kid you not. Some company is trying to make us believe that the reason we don't sleep at night is because our legs wander around without command. Apparently this is a recognised medical condition too. In fact it's such a recognised medical condition that the first fifty hits on google are all either direct or indirect marketing for Neurosil - this new wonder drug which will cure this invented condition. It is such a massive medical problem that apparently none of the actual medical websites have manage…

Geocaching

We spent the day Geocaching today. First time out and we found all but two of the caches using my old Garmin GPSIII. Given its tendency to drift even when you're standing still, that's not bad. I've ordered a travelbug to put in one of our local caches with the intent on trying to get it out of the country.

The state of the dollar.

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I saw this on a friend's blog today. It came from a Russian magazine and succinctly describes what the Euro has done to the Dollar recently.


This is so wrong...

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...on so many levels.....but its so damn funny.

Excuse the abysmal picture quality - it came from a cameraphone.



Speaking of funny, or tragic, not sure which - the litiguous country in which I live has reached a new low. Lawyers have won a $61M settlement against Ford for a case where a Ford Explorer rolled and killed the driver and passenger - both 17 year old boys. Not so weird, you might think, until you realise the reason the SUV rolled was (apart from it being an SUV) because the driver was asleep. (Forbes Story). So now, if we're to believe this lawyer, cars are supposed to steer themselves whilst the drivers are asleep.
America desperately needs an anti-frivolous-lawsuit ammendment.

XBox 360 - Microsoft is desperate.

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With the launch of the Xbox360 just around the corner, I thought it was time to have a bit of a data dump of some facts and figures that the mainstream press are neatly circumventing.

Fact: We all know there's two versions of the package. The $300 crippleware version, and the $400 "actual" version. (the $300 version has no hard drive and so is basically totally useless).

Fact: Microsoft finally got to the bottom of the backward-compatibility issue, in about the most Microsoft-esque method you can imagine. Of the 800-odd Xbox titles, only 213 of them will work on the Xbox 360. BUT, a software emulator is required for each original Xbox game, which means you need the hard drive for these games to work, which means you need the $400 version of the package. So lets say you have 10 XBox games. That means you need to download and install 10 emulators, one for each game, before they'll run. And that fact that they run through an emulator means they'll be slower and buggi…

Chilly, but excellent biking weather.

It's a chilly -2°C outside this morning, and the R1150GS is so much more noticably powerful than it is when the weather is up in the low 40's (C, of course).
Great ride into work.

GodDamn Windows!

What the Hell is wrong with Windows? Apart from the billion other problems it has as the world's widest-spread and worst-developed operating system, it's the little things that fuck me off, like file association.
Three weeks ago Microsoft forced an Office update which hijacked my HTML file association and changed it to Internet Explorer. Using every trick in the book I cannot get that file association and icon back to Firefox. Now, fucking Adobe Illustrator - just the sample 30-day trial - has hijacked the file association for FLT - the standard format for all our 3D models. Now my PC thinks these files are Illustrator filter files. Again, I cannot get the file association back, or the icon.
What the FUCK is wrong with you software developers. LEAVE OUR FILE ASSOCIATIONS THE FUCK ALONE!!!!! We don't want your stupid software to just obliterate all our custom settings because some moron in your company thinks it's a good thing to do. No - just give us the option when we i…

Sofa so good.

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Wheeeeee. The new sofa finally arrived today. Colour is good, size is good. Comfort is goooooooood.

Alias - cool music, not-so-cool guy.

We're catching up on all the episodes of Alias that we've got stashed on the DVR at the moment. Can't say I'm too impressed with the new male lead. He just doesn't fit in. The new female clothes horse is easy on the eyes but one of the things that impressed me the most was how progressive they've got with the music. Last night we watched the 4th or 5th episode where Sydney is in the casino gambling and the music track was "Come On" by Andy Hunter. Suh-weet.

Amazon.com is broken.

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Sometimes when I'm surfing Amazon's "recommended items" pages, I just have to say "what the.....?"

Whilst I appreciate crotchless panties, especially when modelled correctly as per their thumbnail image, how on earth did Amazon make the connection between the PSP puzzle game "Lumines" and crotchless panties? Do they somehow believe that because I play videogames, I also have a penchant for collecting ladies underwear?

George's thought for friday.

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The number of people killed in the WTC attacks was 2749. The tally of American lives lost in Iraq because of B*sh's lies currently stands at 2059. In 690 dead American's time, who is going to ask the question Is the Iraq war worth killing more Americans than the original WTC attack?

Geocaching

I stumbled upon a website today whilst looking for info on GPS receivers, which seems like it might be quite a laugh. Geocaching.com is a worldwide GPS-based scavenger hunt of sorts. The idea is simple. You create a cache with something in it and include a log book, then hide it somewhere and post the GPS coordinates on this site. Other people can then try to find it. When they do, they sign the logbook, take something out and/or add something to the cache, then put it back for others to find.
There are "hitchikers" which are items which travel from one place to another. For example you can place something in your cache and put a note on it telling the next finder to move it somewhere else. When they find your cache, they take it and place it in the next one that they find, and so on and so forth. Some items have been around the world already.
I think I might try to find one of the local ones this weekend for a laugh.

Enrique Iglesias has a tiny dick ?

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This just makes me laugh and cry at the same time. I'm not sure I believe it totally but more than one source is reporting that Enrique Iglesias really said this:
"The next product I'm going to put my name on is extra-small condoms. I can never find extra-small condoms and I know it's really embarrassing for people."

Let's review. Enrique is porking Anna Kournikova - one of the hottest women in sports. He's the hearthrob of thousands if not millions of women all over the world. And he's just declared that he has an extra-small willy?
From a marketing standpoint that's bad, because buying extra small condoms with a guys face on the wrapper doesn't make it any less embarrassing. It actually makes things much much worse.
From a context point of view, you'd hope this quote was radically out of context. No bloke - especially a Latin bloke - would ever volunteer information about his novelty sized johnson unless he's got a grapefruit sized tumor…

Chopper Chris pt.2

Ah yes - I forgot to follow up on the helicopter check ride. Well it was a bit of a wash because of my fine athletic physique. They have two types of helicopter there - Robinson R22 and R44s. The R22 has a seat crush weight of 108kg, and being the fine 118kg specimen of a man that I am, that wasn't going to work. The R44 has a much higher crush weight but they only have one of those and it was out with an instructor at the time. The school has had a lot of interest recently and they're looking to get a Schwiezer for their collection, which also has a high crush weight. When they get that in, or when they have a slot on the R44, they're going to call me to carry on. I did spend a lot of time talking to them about the various requirements, licenses, job prospects etc, and the bottom line seems to be that if I decide to go through with it, I'll be very happy but very poor.
In the meantime I need to shed 10kg.....

B*sh the spendthrift.

Here's an amazing-but-true fact for you. "President" B*sh has borrowed more money from foreign governments and banks than the previous 42 presidents combined.

Don't believe me ?

It's the treasury department's own numbers. According to them, from 1776-2000 (the first 224 years of U.S. history), 42 U.S. presidents borrowed a combined total of $1.01 trillion from foreign governments and financial institutions.
In the past four years alone, B*sh has borrowed $1.05 trillion. Impressive. Even more so when you consider that the previous 224 years include two World Wars, the Vietnam Defeat and the original Gulf War, as well as military actions in Bosnia. It also included the Great Depression and 1987's Black Monday.

Where, oh where, pray tell, has that money gone ?

The Republic of America

A friend of mine pointed out something I'd never really understood yesterday. The difference between a democracy and a republic. In a democracy, everyone basically gets their vote for all aspects of government and everyone's voice is heard. In a republic, everyone gets their vote for all local aspects of government, but in doing so they elect a representative to go the federal government and then trust that this person will vote favourably.
In other words, whilst it may seem like you have a say in what goes on, it's only at the most local level. Once you've got to the point of electing an official to represent you, it's no longer a democracy.
With that in mind, with proportional representation in America and MPs in England, neither country is a democracy. They're republics. So the next time someone spouts off about our "heros" fighting for freedom and democracy, you have two reasons to disagree. Firstly, obviously, they're not fighting for your free…

French riots spreading?

Copycat rioters have torched vehicles in Germany and Belgium tonight, probably trying to leverage the news coverage of events in France. If the government there don't do something dramatic, and quick, their rioting could spill over into other countries proper. I don't see much coverage of it in the US press yet - after all it's only been two weeks and it doesn't directly involve the US. But they should be watching it very carefully. If people are hijacking muslim faith as an excuse to riot in France, how long will it be before some lunatics do the same here? Wars have started for less than this.
And the crazy thing is they're rioting for nothing. Two African kids were caught stealing car parts, they ran from the police and tried to hide in an electricity substation where they electrocuted themselves. Now why are people rioting because of that?
The answer is that it's not because of that but it's using that event as a catalyst to release pent-up anger and frus…

Stop......Demotime.

Can't touch this :-)
We're burning the candle at both ends at the moment putting the finishing touches on a bunch of kickass demos which are needed at the end of this week. As usual the crunch has turned up a bunch of bugs in the software, but what we've got so far looks awesome. I'd like to see the competition come up with anything even half as good with their stupid little PC-based solutions.

B*sh the liar, part 4,553,267

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Liar, liar, liar. We know B*sh can't speak a single word without lying, so why does he persist? Photo evidence would seem to suggest that indeed America does pursue torture. But today B*sh told us all that "we do not torture".
Well I'm glad he cleared that up for us.

Why imperial?

I swear to God I'm a complete retard when it comes to using the imperial system. Why people can't use metric is a mystery to me. It's what's taught in all the schools now.
Bloody imperial tape measures and straightedges meant it took me four (yes, four) attempts to hang a mirror today. What the bloody hell is 7/64 ? Or 3/8? The problem was that I was looking at an imperial ruler but mentally registering the divisions in between the inches in tenths - like metric. Of course in imperial those little marks are at 1/8 and 1/16 of an inch, not 1/10.
At least the three pairs of wrong holes are covered up by the mirror. :-(

George's thought for friday.

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Armin Van Buuren on XM !!

Armin Van Buuren has struck a deal to have his State Of Trance show broadcast on XM Satellite radio!
If I couldn't get the downloads each week, I'd be down to BestBuy and picking up an XM system for that alone......

Panic! Everyone panic!

Another outbreak of Bird flu hits Asia! Absolutely nobody infected and zero people dead! PANIC!

Of course 10,000 Americans die each year of the regular flu, compared to - what - 62 people on the entire planet who've died of avian flu this year?

Yeah, panic. That'll do you good.

The word is "Christmas" damnit!

This whole political correctness thing has to stop, right now.
Lambeth council, in south London, has started advertising it's Christmas lights festivities as "Winter Lights" and "Celebration Lights" for fear of offending other faiths.

No. Just stop it. It's not "seasonal festivities", it's not "winter celebration", it's not "december festival". The goddamn word is Christmas.

If you're going to get all PC and stop calling it Christmas, then you should also get equally politically correct about some other festivities:
Ramadan needs to be renamed "The voluntary fasting of that other faith".
Hannukah needs to be renamed "The eight-day feast of the Jews".

See how stupid that looks? Good. F*ck the other faiths. We don't have problems with them using their holiday names, so if they're the ones who have a problem with the word "Christmas" then they're the ones that can f*ck off back to th…

Chopper Chris ?

I've always fancied myself as a helicopter pilot. Part of the grand plan when we moved to America was to save up some cash and find a training school. Problem was that the nearest one turned out to be over 800 miles away.

But now we've got a new helicopter training school (Upper Limit Aviation) at Salt Lake City airport. I gave them a call today and I'm going on a check ride on thursday evening to see if I have the aptitude to pilot a helicopter....

Life in the UK

I learned today that the government back in England is launching a citizenship test for foreigners who want to become British. If you want the passport, then you'll have to read a book entitled "Life in the UK", and you'll have to sit a 45-minute test on society, history and culture based on the contents of that book. Apart from this being yet another way Blair is turning England into the next US State, the content of the book is dangerously skewed.

Life in the UK says that to be British you should Respect laws, the elected political structures, traditional values of mutual tolerance and respect for rights and mutual concern. Nice idea but the sentiment would be that much more valuable if the political structures weren't all corrupt and if they government had any mutual concern for its citizens.

Life in the UK tells you that (seriously) if you spill someone's pint in a pub, you should offer to buy them another. It makes no mention of the fact that you'll li…

That's odd.

I've noticed a change in the behaviour of one of the higher-ups in the company in the last couple of weeks. For 4 years he's always parked his shiny car in the same parking space, way the heck away from everyone else in the company. For the last 7 or 8 days, he's been parking in with the peons. I can't figure out why.

In other news, it is incredibly difficult to cancel a credit card over here. I just tried cancelling one of my Amex cards and after the 35 minutes on hold, I got the hard sell from "Gabe" who told me I was a valued customer and they could waive the fee for the next year and so on and so forth. They couldn't accept that I simply didn't need the card any more. I'm actually not sure it's been cancelled - we got to the point where I convinced him to cancel the account and he just cut me off. Their attitude was enough to dissuade me from any offers they could throw my way to keep the card. The longer I stayed on the phone with him, the…

There's a reason it's drying to a different colour.

Two buckets of paint, both white on the outside, both with a dab of colour on the lid. One is a shade darker than the other, but the bucket is under the lightbulb in the storage hole. Mix that one up, slap it on the wall. Mmm. Looks a bit dark but I'm sure it'll lighten up as it dries.
Or not.
Back to the storage hole and out with the second bucket.
Ah.
So that's why it's drying to be a different colour. The actual colour I want is in the other bucket which was in the shadow and looked darker.

Bollocks.

Hope the light colour is thick enough to cover up the dark colour.

I love the 80's 3D

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VH1 have hit paydirt as far as I'm concerned. They're on their third "I love the 80's" series. It's spurred me to put Winamp on "random" and let it loose on the 4.6Gb of 80's music I have lingering on my hard drive.

♫Hope I live to tell the secrets I have learned
'Till then it will burn inside of me....♫

Of course from my perspective, you can't beat Frankie Goes To Hollywood.
Sadly though, Frankie Says....No More. :-(

Continuing memory lane.

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Thinking even more about the last couple of days posts, I got to thinking about a game I typed in from a copy of Acorn User in January 1984 called The Train Game. It was dead simple, but highly addictive. It generated a random track at the beginning of each game and gave you 5 trains. You had to control the points in front of each train to get them to the required stations to take on and offload passengers and freight. The whole thing ran in 2D and used text-based characters to represent everything. Skip to 2001 onwards and here I am making add-ons for Microsoft Train simulator. It does rather look like 13-15 were the key ages for me in determining what I was going to end up doing when I was "grown up."

The fun thing in finding this out was posting to a BBC users group on the web. I described the game and mentioned that it was in a copy of Acorn User magazine. Within an hour I had three replies telling me it was the January 1984 issue, along with links to disk images of the g…

BBC Micro days - predecessor to a 3d flight simulation career.

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Yesterday's retro entry got me thinking about old computers. In 1982, after the Videopac, we got a BBC Micro model B - yes - the one with 32Kb of memory. For those of you who aren't old enough to remember, that's Kb, not Mb. The "A" version only had 16Kb of memory. The BBC Micro was totally programmable in BASIC and an underworld of magazines came out to support it. The one I remember most is Beebug which came out once a month. It was very low-tech, all done on a typewriter. Each month had a feature project which you could type in. That's right - they printed out the code and you could type it in and run it yourself. If you were lucky enough to have an attached 128Kb floppy drive, you could save the program to disk too!

I google'd Beebug and discovered the 8Bit-site has scans of the covers of every one of them (check here). Now THAT is a memory-jogger. A few in particular stick out in my mind.

I remember volume 2 issue 2 which had the code in for a game cal…

Keeping people scared.

Baggage screeners apparently found bomb components in a carry-on piece of luggage at San Diego arport today. The report was very firm on this:
A department spokesman said the screeners found "all components of an IED" (improvised explosive device) in a piece of luggage at around 7:45 a.m. They then evacuated the commuter terminal of the airport and bomb specialists began to investigate.
Great story - it got people nice and scared - people panicked and everything.

The truth? They found a child's toy and some "organic matter" - probably vegetables. But the Homeland Security stuffed shirt was absolutely adamant that they'd found all the components of an IED.

Like, retro, man.

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Don't ask why, but when I was minding my own business in the men's room today I suddenly remembered an old videogame console we used to own when I was 8. In 1978 we bought a Philips Videopac G7000 game. It was the dogs bollocks, I can tell you. It plugged into the TV through the UHF aerial cable, had two controllers and a keyboard built in to the console itself. It ran cartridge-based games. I can also for some bizarre reason remember the names of some of the games we had. They were all numbered and came in cardboard fold-open boxes.
Jumping Acrobats (33) was the predecessor to knockout where you jumped these 16-pixel blokes on a see-saw to knock blocks out from above them. Munchkin (38) was a PacMan clone. Golf (10) was the be-all and end-all of electronic golf games in 1978. Satellite Attack (34) was an asteroids knock-off. And Electronic Billiards (35) pulled off a piece of mastery; because the game only had 16 colours, none of which were brown, it used red for the brown bal…

Seymour Butz

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We went to Bob's 50th birthday party last night, which because its so close to halloween, he asked for everyone to come in fancy dress. It was brilliant. Paula and I went as Mr Incredible and Elastigirl. One guy went as an iPod. Austin Powers was there along with a monk, Beauty and the Beast, Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. Mark went as a plug and his wife went as a socket. There was a pirate, Zorro, a she-Devil and a marine. Bob and his wife were Mr & Mrs Seymour Butz, with the appropriate amount of highly enhanced backside and belly sticking out of their costumes. They'd also gone to a huge amount of expense and effort decorating the house with tons of halloween stuff.
The most embarrassing part of it all was driving there all made up :-)
Meanwhile, I'm getting ready for the annual scare-the-crap-out-of-the-kids night - or Halloween as some people call it. I've had it with just giving away candy so this year I'm doing the same as last but with an i…

Spam updates

On October 26th last year, I blogged about the sum total of spam I'd had to date. I felt a little update would be amusing.
According to the spam, I now own 521 Rolex replicas, 88 Luis Vuitton handbags, $122.1bn in Nigerian cash and have a 4.4mile long penis. I also have 608 mortgages totalling some $180,302,200, 22,400 years supply of Viagra, a stash of porn tall enough to reach mars, and 73 hours of video of "Busty young amateurs". On top of that I'm lucky enough to own part of 201 timeshares, have been on a staggering 47,205 blind dates, and have a humidor stuffed to the rafters with over 65,000 Cuban cigars.
Those are updates from last year. New for the previous 12 months, I apparently now have had 244 holidays with free airline tickets, dated 801 "fuckbuddies" in my local area and received hot stock advice on 529 different companies. I own enough Prozac, Valium, Cialis and Viagra to start a drug dealership. I have been specially selected in 356 online pro…

It's called "Reap what you sow".

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Ford are busy learning an important lesson : reap what you sow.
You see the production of their new mid-range Fusion family sedan has had to be halted because one of their suppliers is having difficulty supplying parts. Collins & Aikman Corp. provides instrument panels, door panels and trunk systems for the Fusion. The problem is that they are in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. How did they get there? Because Ford lowballed them on parts supply costs.
Otherwise known as Karma, or Yin and Yang.
Trying to find an image on the Ford Fusion website is a chore. It's suffering one of the worst attacks of Mystery Meat navigation in the history of the internet. But I slogged on to see what all the fuss was about.
Looks promising....

Nice lines....

Stylish, even?....

Holy shiat! I think I just threw up a little bit in my mouth. After the fantastic-looking 2005 Mustang, Ford apparently fired that designer and had the Fusion scribbled out by one of their talentless, blind monkeys. Would you j…

The cellphone disease.

Someone asked me today for my cellphone number. I replied "Well I've got one but its never turned on unless we're using it to call out."
The response was "oh, why?" but the tone of voice was as if to say "I'm sorry to hear you've got cancer".
I don't get it. It's becoming a social stigma. If you don't have a cellphone, people treat you like you're somehow diseased, as if there's something hideously wrong with you.
Here's a newsflash : from my perspective, if you can't live without your cellphone and simply must speak on it everywhere you can, then you are the one with the disease - there's something wrong with you, not me. Apart from the fact that you're irradiating your brain at close quarters every time you use it, I'd like to know how you can't live without a piece of technology which until 10 years ago really wasn't available to the public.

End of days my arse.

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Okay this has got to stop. When a big organisation like MSNBC starts reporting on the End Of Days, (see here) you know something is wrong.
It seems that a rash of disasters in the last year (earthquakes, tsunamis etc) have got religious groups devoted to watching for the End Times whipped up into an absolute frenzy. These people look at every news event through a biblical lens, which magnifies the smallest detail out of all proportion.
The most commonly cited biblical passage describing the beginning of the end has now turned up on MSNBC. "nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes," and "And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring."

Come on people - settle down. Remember that first and foremost, the Bible is a story - a work of fiction - a collection of fables and yarns whic…

20¢

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Makes me laugh. Amex have billed me for 20¢. Seriously. It cost them 37¢ to mail the bill to me, and it had 4 sheets of paper and a flyer in it, so it actually probably cost them closer to 80¢ to bill me for 20¢....

Of Tubbers and Wilma

We spoke with Terri last night - still no sign of Tubbers. I think we all know he's gone now. She used a turn of phrase which was fairly upsetting - she said she was worried that someone might have hit him with their car, stopped, gone back and seen it was a cat and then "just thrown him away". That's horrible to think someone might have treated their pet as simply trash :(

Meanwhile Wilma picked up overnight from a cat2 to a cat5 hurricane with the lowest pressure ever recorded - 884mb. It has developed a "pinhole eye" which apparently is an eye which is really small compared to the "normal" hurricane. Like a figure skater pulling her arms in whilst spinning, a tight pinhole eye in a hurricane means very high rotational wind speed. They reckon 175mph already.

The worrying thing is it's not even got to the warm water in the gulf of mexico yet, and the high winds from the southwest are almost certainly going to turn this one towards Tampa. If it&…

Cheney out, Rice in?

You sometimes you think things are bad, but couldn't possibly get any worse? Rumour has it that Dick Cheney is about to step down and be replaced with (wait for it) Vice President Condosleeza Rice.
I'm sorry.
I think I just threw up a little bit in my mouth.

That raises the very grim spectre of Rice running for President in 2008. Which could make for an extremely interesting presidential race, especially if the other candidate is Hillary Clinton.....

This cement brought to you by PC Laptops?

I know I live in the country where advertisers believe that carpet-bombing the public with commercials works (note to advertisers : it doesn't), but this morning I saw something new which actually took me by surprise. A cement truck with a pair of adverts on the mixing barrel. As the barrel rotated, so the adverts came into view. (These were for a local laptop company). It's all very well, but the barrel is circular which means that as the ads rotated to the other side, they were upside down.
It was all a bit bizarre.

Splish splash.

Almost everything in our house seems to have been put in with future modification and remodelling in mind. And everything seems to be built to standard. The guy who built the house knew what he was doing. Which is why it was a surprise to me that he didn't put cutoff valves on the downstairs bathroom sink. So I dutifully got a mini pipe cutter, and after discovering the pipes were non-standard half-inch outer diameter copper, managed to get some compression fittings and set to work. Well the first compression fitting worked fine, but the valve I tried to screw on to it leaked like a sieve. So one lash-up later, we had water on in the house overnight until I could get to my favourite plumbing supply shop this morning. There I got two different compression fittings and two new valves. The first one again went on fine, the valve went on, no leaks. Sweet. The second one leaked and leaked and leaked. Down the wall, into the electrical socket, which then started buzzing. So I kicked off…

Exploding tyres in Nascar is fine, apparently.

This is interesting. Kevin Harvick called on NASCAR to halt Saturday night's race at Lowe's Motor Speedway after a rash of exploding tyres. A smooth, sleek surface at the raceway was the result of the track developers using a grinding process on the asphalt twice as a temporary fix until it could be repaved. It resulted in speeds that proved too fast for the tires Goodyear provided. The race was interrupted by a record-breaking 15 cautions, 12 of which were for exploding tyres.
The drivers were pissed off. The TV crews were pissed off. The teams were pissed off, and the spectators were pissed off. Yet they all accepted it for what it was.
Think back then to the F1 race at Indy this year, where for exactly those reasons, the Michelin teams retired before the race. Rather than risk exploding tyres, they opted not to race. Yet there, the spectators whinged and moaned and got their money back.
So from this we can deduct that's okay for NASCAR to have exploding tyres and stop a ra…