Now I've seen it all.

Jul 23, 2005 | | 0 comments |

Coming down 2100 south this afternoon, a guy on a new Yamaha R1 is cruising towards us. His sense of self preservation is malfunctioning so badly that not only is his helmet strapped to the back instead of on his head, but he's sitting upright using a cellphone whilst looking over his shoulder. On a motorbike.
I wanted to turn around, overtake him and jam on the brakes in front of him just to see what he'd do.....

It's too damn hot, and the mandatory draft is coming.

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Good golly. Yet another day at 40°C. It's too damn hot. If only there was some rain, or a breeze, or a draught.

As oppose to a mandatory draft which looks likely now that the Pentagon has pushed the draft age limit up from 35 to 42. Apparently, they're susprised that for the ninth straight month, the army has missed its recruiting goals, and has decided the reason isn't the Iraq Adventure, but rather that there aren't enough potential recruits because of the age 35 cap.

George's thought for friday.

Jul 22, 2005 | | 0 comments |

Jeebus !

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Chelsea Davis, US diver. Full-contact diving. Fortunately she wasn't injured other than a bloodied face from a laceration on her forehead.

Miserable lunch.

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I just had a miserable lunch. I came out of a complete waste of a meeting - an hour of my life I'll never get back, and thanks to the company's continued "down sizing" of the engineers, the cafeteria was totally empty. So I had lunch on my own :-(

Strong-arming the gamers.

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MMMmmm. Hot Coffee.....
This is excellent. A Dutch programmer released a mod last month for the PC version of GTA San Andreas which he called "Hot Coffee". Basically it unlocked a mini game where after a date, you could shag the woman rather than just hear the event from outside the building. Take Two Interactive, RockStar's parent company, was quick to blame the modder and disavow responsibility for the racy content. In a July 13 press release, the company claimed that "a determined group of hackers" had gone to "significant trouble to alter scenes in the official version of the game," a process that the company said involved disassembling, recompiling and "altering the game's source code."
You know where this is going don't you?
So next, the same guy tweaked and fiddled with a GameShark-like add-on for the Xbox and PS2 and wouldn't you know it - the exact same mini game was hidden on those versions too. Now given that you can't write patches for, or modify the code of PS2 and XBox games, the spotlight was cast back on to Take Two Interactive. How, it was asked, was it possible for this "determined group of hackers" to have gone to so much trouble that they'd managed to alter the game content of an unalterable console?
"Oh," said Take Two Interactive.

So on Wednesday, an investigation by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board concluded that Take Two was, in fact, responsible for the sex content, which was found in all three versions of San Andreas: the PC, Xbox and PlayStation2 discs. Wildenborg's Hot Coffee download merely made the scenes accessible - something he'd claimed all along.
The ESRB have re-rated GTA San Andreas from M to AO (Adults Only) and forced retailers to pull the game from their shelves. Take Two Interactive meanwhile have admitted that actually, the previous press release was a complete lie, and yes they did leave the mini game in there, but apparently it's not their fault. No, it's the gamers fault for modding the game. In fact they're so serious about it not being their fault that they're preparing law suits against Wildenborg (the modder) and the manufacturers of the GameShark and ActionReplay units.
Because obviously it's better to alienate the game-buying public than just admit you're wrong.

Bait-and-switch

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The London bombings and the Karl Rove thing are playing rather nicely into B*sh's hands right now given that he pushed to re-ratify the Patriot Act. They're nice distractions to keep people worried and scared so that nobody will notice. The house and senate voted the Patriot Act back in yesterday with some new provisions, yet it's 3rd-page news in the papers this morning.

London Transport police shot a guy on the underground today and killed him after he acted very suspiciously and actively threatened the police before trying to get away. The British Muslim council wasted no time in demanding to know why a man of "asian appearance" was shot and killed on the tube. ie, they pulled the race card instantly.

You know what? If the Pakis in England didn't freeload, didn't get free houses, actually started to pay tax, didn't play the race card at every opportunity and stopped treating England like Little Pakistan, I might have more time for this argument. But as it is, I'm inclined to say they deserve what's coming to them. You don't move wholesale to another country then fuck with it and try to make it like your own. Speak goddamn English and work to integrate into society. Don't whine and bitch about not getting Sikh and Muslim on to the school curriculum - it's fucking England. If you don't like it, fuck off back to Pakistan and stop treating England as a free ride.

Google Earth - cool.

Jul 21, 2005 | | 0 comments |

Cool. Google Earth have a photo dataset with our old house in Holland on the Zijdesingel....

And our house in Bracknell in England....

More bombs in London.

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4 more bombs have gone off today, two weeks to the day after the last attack. This time they were small - possibly even just detonation caps. I think whoever it is was using this as a test run to see if security had been stepped up. Proving it hasn't, I suspect a larger repeat could be in the wings. Either that or this was copycats.
Either way, Blah still insists that these attacks have nothing to do with the war in Iraq despite an MI5 report published this week which, after 2 years research, proves England is more at risk because of its involvement.

The BBC have of course called today's bombs an "incident" or an "alert", echoing back to the good old days of the IRA where if you heard "incident" on the radio, it meant "fucking big bomb".

It's interesting that the Spanish PM took his warning about Iraq seriously, but Blah didn't. It's all well and good saying that "policy will not be dictated by terrorists" but that won't last long if people keep getting bombs on to public transport systems and killing innocent members of the public.
Mind you, from a historical perspective, the IRA did that for years and the British government did nothing to stop it, so I guess as a member of the public in England now, you're considered expendable.

Bang goes freedom of the press.

Jul 20, 2005 | | 1 comments |

The Bush administration today opposed federal legislation to protect journalists from having to reveal confidential sources because it would create "serious impediments" to law enforcement and fighting terrorism. In other words, they support the jailing of reporters for concealing their sources.

Or to tell it like it is : B*sh has just outlawed freedom of the press.

At least this doesn't target bloggers though. So it's a case of damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you-don't. The shield law would have protected freedom of the press, but allowed bloggers to be prosecuted. No shield law means the press have been muffled and bloggers can continue to tell the truth.

Wall street don't like CostCo

Jul 19, 2005 | | 1 comments |

This was a funny story today : not everyone is happy with Costco's business strategy. Some Wall Street analysts assert that Sinegal (CostCo CEO) is overly generous not only to Costco's customers but to its workers as well.
Costco's average pay, for example, is $17 an hour, 42 percent higher than its fiercest rival, Wal-Mart's Sam's Club. And Costco's health plan makes those at many other retailers look Scroogish. This is the best part thought : analyst Bill Dreher of Deutsche Bank, complained last year that at Costco "it's better to be an employee or a customer than a shareholder."

Well fuck you, Bill, whoever you are. I doubt you'd noticed, but theoretically, companies are supposed to keep their employees happy as well as their customers. I bet Bill is one of those people who believes wholeheartedly that anything and everything should be sacrificed for him - the shareholder. Sadly Bill, there's too many greedy, narrow-minded bigots like yourself out there. CostCo is a shining example of how to do it right, not, as you seem to believe, how to do it wrong.

Speed cameras kill.

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years after leaving the UK and leaving one of my most popular websites - the Speedtrap Bible - behind me, the UK government have finally realised that what the Transport Research Laboratory and I had been saying since 1996 was true - speed isn't the primary cause of accidents, and speed cameras cause more accidents than they prevent.

The government have suspended the deployment of more speeds cameras pending the outcome of of a University College London probe into whether they actually save lives. Motorcycle News has revealed that road deaths have risen dramatically in those areas favoured with the most Gatsos. According to the MCN figures, Hertfordshire saw a 24% rise in speed camera numbers between 2003 and 2004. In the same period, road fatalities rose by 34% in the same area.
Likewise in Wiltshire, camera numbers went up 14%, and those killed went up 22%. In County Durham, meanwhile, a lone Gatso oversaw a 22% drop in fatalities. Oddly enough, the one gatso on its own was the only one actually at an accident black spot.

The national average increase for fatalities was 1.3%. Worse still - until 10 years ago, when the first cameras were introduced, fatalities were going down each year. Now they're going up. You do the maths.

In North Wales 56,247 speeding tickets were issued although this had little effect on safety; road deaths went up 18%.
The reason? Simple, and what I had on my website in 1996 : crashes are avoided by making a safe plan based on what you see. People get so distracted looking for cameras that it moves their attention away from hazards. The TRL - the government's own transport lab has been saying this for years, yet only now that its getting national press coverage is anyone taking notice.
It's been proven that vehicle-activated speed limit signs - the ones that flash a speed limit at you if you're going too fast - are three times more effective at slowing traffic down for accident hotspots. Yet until this week, the government persisted in putting more and more speed cameras out. Why? If the illuminated signs are more effective, why use cameras? Simple - money. I've maintained for a decade that speed cameras are revenue-earners. My site broke the story in 1996, and its never changed.
The knock-on effect of course is easy to see. Cameras will be banned and start to be removed and the police and local governments will start losing revenue they're used to getting now. So something else will go up in its place - petrol duty, council tax, parking fines - something will fill the void.

And people still get upset when we call Britain "Treasure Island".

Government bribery for kids to be good.

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This is priceless. Youth-related crime and antisocial behaviour is so bad back in England now that the government has decided to resort to bribery. They are going to pay teenagers not to be yobs after a trial in the West country was (apparently) a huge success. Children from poor families will get up to £12 a month in pocket money from the Government to spend on sports or cultural activities, or even high street shops. But they risk being stripped of the cash if they get mixed up in crime and anti-social behaviour.
This is a classic example of treating the symptoms of a problem, not the cause. The government is basically going to rewarding teenagers simply for behaving well, something they should do anyway. Something that should have been instilled into the kids by their parents. But oh no. Parental responsibility is all about having kids for child credits now then leaving them to fend for themselves. Manners and behaviour have gone by the wayside. Just plug them into a playstation and let the TV be the parent.
Original story.

Outlook is retarded.

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From bad to worse. Microsoft software just gets more retarded by the day. I had reason to open up an archive folder today and look in my older "sent items" folder.
When I did, Outlook helpfully gave me "received" and "sent from" columns. You know, for sent items, it seems pretty obvious to me that "sent from" is always going to be me, and it also seems pretty obvious that I'd rather know when the mail was sent, than when it was received. After all, it is the sent items folder.
Worse still, if I close the outlook file and re-open it, it resets the columns again (after forgetting where I last opened the file from and defaulting to some folder buried in "my documents" somewhere).
If I just close the file, then try to delete it off the disk, Outlook hasn't really closed it, but has kept it open, deleted the view and then locked the file, so now I need to exit outlook completely just to delete the damn file.

A goddamn 5 year old kid wouldn't make sofware this stupid!

Insanity

Jul 18, 2005 | | 0 comments |

This is just getting insane. We've laid off so many engineers that everyone is already doing triple-duty. Now with the massive attrition rate, we're being asked to do even more! I don't understand what is so hard to grasp about "laying off engineers means missed deadlines and less deliveries". Seems simple enough to me. Instead though, there seems to be this mindset that with 10% of the people, we can still manage 100% of the workload.
We are this close to going supernova.

It's the little things...

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Small things make me happy. I discovered how to do unicode characters in HTML today.
musical note : ♫
yin yang : ☯
cut here : ✂
telephone : ✆
apple : 
airport stop bar : ☳ - actually a trigram for "thunder" but it looks like a stop bar.

Some links for the HTML geeks :
http://www.theorem.ca/~mvcorks/cgi-bin/unicode.pl.cgi?start=2600&end=26FF
http://www.alanwood.net/unicode/#links

Aircraft, Ryan, Table.

Jul 17, 2005 | | 0 comments |

We took advantage of the 5°C dip in temperatures today and went up to the Hill AFB museum this morning for a look around. The museum is free and has some excellent exhibits, notably a B-1B that you can crawl around (sadly not inside). Took some great photos of some of the exhibits.
Ryan is back in Utah for a week and we met up with him at the museum then came back down to SLC for lunch and catch-up. We went to Fred Meyer and picked up a new table for the deck - one we'd seen a couple of weeks ago but couldn't get back in the car. Ryan was here in his dad's truck so we asked if he minded helping us get the table back. He didn't, so we did :-)
We also had some bad news today about a couple we've known for a while. It'll be an interesting wait to see how that transpires. The sad thing is that this event was foreshadowed in November last year :-(