Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Book - Making Money (Terry Pratchett)

Just finished reading this (got it for £9.99 in a bookshop in town, which is decent for a hardback).

It's really good - if you liked "Going Postal", this one is great too, as it's another adventure for Moist von Lipwig, and also has cameos from other Ankh-Morpork favourites (even a few good lines for Vimes, which always makes me smile).

Top read.


According to the "largest ever UK study" on obesity (see here on the BBC news website), the general idea now seems to be to take away responsibility from the individuals.


To misquote Ricky Gervais from his "Fame" tour (which is utterly amazing, by the way - buy the DVD right now - NOW - NOW!! What are you waiting for??):

Uh. Why not just have TEN pie and chips a day, instead of ELEVEN??

It's NOT a disease!

Madrid, via Easyjet

Got back from Madrid on monday (friend's wedding). Really nice place - we stayed in the NH Hotel at Coslada, which was actually quite good - friendly staff, clean environment, excellent state of repair etc.

Madrid itself is brill - lots of nice places to eat and drink, nice and warm at this time of year, and lots of cool things to see in the city centre (and we went there on a Sunday, so I suspect its even better on a sensible day).

However. We got there (and back) with Easyjet. They shouldn't be called "Easy" Jet. They should be called something else, like "How hard can you possibly make it jet". Check-in was actually good, and the cabin crew were above average as well - but the praise ends there.

They don't allocate seats at check-in (which is why it is so quick and there are smaller queues), however, this turns boarding into what can only be called a "stampede". The guy handling it at Gatwick dealt with this by shouting and screaming at people - not ideal - although it worked. At Madrid, they didn't even try, and just let people push and shove to get through. Rubbish.

Oh, and on the way there, they ran out of proper food (e.g. manky sandwiches) by row 8. Not good on an Airbus 320.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Avoid passport control queues with IRIS

If you travel frequently in/out of the UK (via Heathrow/Gatwick), and don't always take luggage, then this may be of great interest to you.

Next time you fly, you can submit to an iris scan (well, a photo), which then allows you to use the "Fast Track" lane at border control - where a camera scans your face and eye, rather than the standard queue and passport examination.

When I came back into the country this weekend, there was no queue at the automated terminal - the one chap who I saw use it passed the huge queue which I was trapped in, and in a few seconds was back in the UK. I had to wait another 20 mins to get through.

Of course, I still had to wait for nearly an hour for my bags to show up, but thats a different story!

The Royal Maybe

Recently, a friend commented to me on difficulties which he has had with the Royal Mail - related to Amazon (but not through any fault of Amazon) - whereby various things he had ordered simply failed to arrive.

I thought this unusual.

I ordered something from Amazon.

Two weeks later - no sign of my package, or any attempt to deliver it.

We shall see how things progress!

David Cameron is.. well.. read for yourself

Excellent bit of commentary on the state of our country (and its politics), here. 'Nuff said.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Intel ProSET Windows 2003 SP2 - Redux

Further to this, advice from intel is:

For Windows* XP and Windows* 2003 Server:

  1. On the target system, click the Start menu and click Run.
  2. Type dcomcnfg in the text field and click OK. The Component Services Console Root window will open.
  3. In the left pane, double-click Component Services, Computers, My Computer, and DCOM Config.
  4. In either pane, right-click NCS2Prov and select Properties. The DCOM configuration properties window will open.
  5. In the NCS2Prov Properties window, click the Identify tab. Change the user account to "the launching user."
  6. Click OK to exit the NCS2Prov Properties window. Close the Component Services window.
This seems to resolve the issue (when viewing from remote desktop) far more elegantly.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Intel ProSET 12.2 on Windows 2003 SP2 - Solved

Aha. OK. A bit convoluted, but, the following worked:

Download latest proset drivers.
Run installer again and select "Remove".
Delete network cards and reboot.
Wait for windows to finish installing them with its own drivers (MS brand, not Intel).
Run installer again and install.

I now have configuration tabs, yay!

Intel ProSET 12.2 on Windows 2003 SP2

It seems that when using the intel proset drivers (v12.2, I believe) with one of their server cards (PRO/1000 MT Dual Port), under Windows 2003 Service Pack 2, it isn't possible to get into the tabs for advanced properties, e.g. Teaming, et al.

This makes setting up teamed network cards (and ultimately a multicast NLB cluster on top of these) quite tricky.

Bugger. Time to talk to Intel!

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Connecting to Windows 2003 via Remote Desktop (from XP) over a VPN

I'm attempting to include as many keywords as possible, so hopefully, should someone get themselves into the same situation I did, they will find this and be able to fix it!

Installed some Windows 2003 (SP2) servers - did the SP2 install remotely, with only VPN access. Discovered that despite "Remote Desktop" being enabled for administration, I was not able to log in remotely from my XP box - however, SOME servers in the same environment (remote, at the same facility) worked.

Turned out that on the suspect ones, the Windows Firewall / Internet Connection Sharing service was not started. Starting this service, or going into firewall configuration (control panel), clicking yes to start the service and disabling firewall is all that is required. Doh.

How stupid can a pedestrian be?

I saw something so ridiculous this morning that it really enraged me.

A school crossing patrol.

Helping adults accross the road.

At a (light controlled, push-button) pedestrian crossing.

At 9:20 am.

WHY? So the patrol-woman will slow down any cars that jump the red light, when they hit her??

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Its "ROAD safety", not "CAR safety"..


Why is it that when people get hurt on the roads, motorists always take the brunt of the blame? If pedestrians and cyclists DO NOT EVEN LOOK for danger before crossing, surely they should be educated too?

If I walk into a truck and get splattered, it's got to be partly my fault, hasn't it?

Luckily, I scan left/right when entering a junction, even when my light is green. Otherwise I would have utterly creamed a cyclist today when he declared "red lights are now green for me, 'cos I am a cyclist" and cut straight through a red light, across my nose, and turned right, going through another moving lane of traffic.

It should be legal to bump cyclists who ignore the rules of the road. Rules of the damn road, pedal boy! Not-rules-for-cars-on-the-road!

The guy in question works at ASDA in Portsmouth and is quite chubby (and was clearly on his way to work). I wonder if the message he's trying to send out is "ASDA: A thoughtless, rude, ignorant bunch of nobbers" .. ?

Saturday, 7 July 2007

Lack of Grumpiness

I just thought - given the title of my blog - that I should apologise for the lack of grumpiness of late.

Most of my energies in this direction have been spent otherwise because I have been ill - I haven't really been able to get a good run up at anger for a while.

That said, the company who manage the block of flats I live in are about to come in for a large serving. Last year they agreed to change the damaged mailboxes out the front. At the start of this year they agreed to move them inside and wire up a "trade" buzzer on the door.

I'm still waiting. It's really not hard. Six mailboxes. Four screws each. Thats what - twenty-four holes in the wall with rawl plugs and ten minutes with an electric screwdriver?

Oh well. Once the maintenance payments stop, I'm sure they'll hurry up. In the mean-time, avoid "DMA Chartered Surveyors" like the plague. They're pants.

Live Earth - Ironic?

Is it just me, or is there something ironic about watching a concert aimed at raising awareness of environmental issues / climate change, sat at home on your sofa, through your wide-screen, allegedly energy inefficient TV..?

I wonder how many people stayed at home tonight with the lights on, watching TV, when they would have gone out and done something different instead.

Ricky Gervais

We went to see Ricky Gervais live last night, and had surprisingly good seats in the centre stalls - just a few rows back from the stage.

Fantastic. Look out for Fame on DVD - it's brill. Notably "It's not a disease!" (obesity), various comments on M.E. and a comparison of "Old Testament God" versus "New Testament God".

Monday, 2 July 2007

... and back again

I'm back from my holiday. Of course, I think I forgot to say that I was going, which makes this whole post fairly pointless.

My holiday book was "Frank Skinner" by none other than - Frank Skinner.

Phenomenal. Littered with nob jokes, and truly laugh-out-loud funny. Buy it. Even if you don't like Frank that much before, you might after.

Monday, 18 June 2007

Three: We love music!

They might love music, but Three certainly do not love customer service.

My other half cancelled her three mobile approximately two years ago. A week ago she got a later stating that she owes them some money (a small sum - probably half a months line rental). Upon trying to complain about the fact that it took two years to ask for this cash - she was put on hold for an hour, with no end in sight.

It wasn't until I phoned up and made some noise including the magic words "OFCom" and "Trading standards" (and incidentally getting the agent on the other end to admit that three had probably made silent calls to our landline during their alleged attempts to contact her), that she finally got some answers.


Saturday, 2 June 2007

TestDriven.NET vs Microsoft

Before I start, please let me say that I am a Microsoft Developer and quite often, evangelist. I enjoy working with C# .NET, and find that it is an efficient and economical choice for many projects - not all, obviously.

I also support and strongly recommend Test-Driven-Development and Continuous Integration.

By far and wide the best tool I have found for this is TestDriven.NET. However, Microsoft have some issues with the fact that this plugin can be used with VS2005 Express, and haven't been entirely fair with the developer - they have - rather than explaining what they want him to do - simply released the evil flying monkies. Err. I mean lawyers.

See here for more info (the authors blog). If you don't already use TestDriven.NET, you may want to.

A mystery solved

Yesterday, I had an Upper GI Endoscopy (Gastroscopy).

Despite what you may read and imagine, this doesn't hurt. It isn't the most comfortable thing in the world, but it was an extremely expedient and efficient way to get a diagnosis.

I spent approximately two hours in a nice and clean NHS treatment center (privately run, but available to NHS patients), with friendly helpful staff (stark contrast to the NHS run hospital next door). At the end, the consultant confirmed that I have a small hiatus hernia and non-elusive reflux disorder.

It's just a shame it took >6 weeks to get to see him! At least I can stop worrying now.

The whole experience does make you think that perhaps the hardest job in the world might be "Sword Swallower", though..

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Maybe.. this week?

Well. What I thought was an appointment for an Endoscopy today was actually a consultation - at which I was pretty much told that I need an Endoscopy. Oddly, having had serious stomach trouble for 5-6 weeks, I knew that already.

Nevermind, appointment is now on Friday (ultrasound on Thursday). Maybe soon I can wrestle a diagnosis and some definitive treatment out of the NHS - and then..?


DG834G: Site to Site VPN

A friend/colleague and I have just set up a Site to Site VPN using a pair of Netgear DG834G routers. Surprisingly easy to accomplish (as long as you have the very latest firmware) - strongly recommended.

As soon as we twigged that one of the ADSL lines was a dynamic IP, and set up the other end accordingly - it all clicked into place.

Of course, it took longer to dismember his mangled DG834GT (from Sky Broadband) and dig out the necessary settings to log in via the G.. but hey. You can't have everything!

Thursday, 24 May 2007

It's not always the drivers fault..

Gah. A "quick" trip into a part of town I seldom visit was, yesterday, grossly delayed by the fact that a good sized portion of the city in which I live is now a 20mph zone.


The (primarily) Liberal Demo-prat council have deemed that this will reduce speeding, hence cutting accidents and lowering pedestrian injury rates.

It won't. People who are going to speed will still speed. The 30 zones weren't enforced - nor are the 20s. Pointless.

I stick to the speed limits almost all the time, and yet, have to avoid pedestrians who simply walk out in front of me, without even looking to see if there is any traffic coming, on a daily basis. What happened to the green cross code?

Maybe if Jay-Walking was an offence (and actually enforced), it would have more impact on pedestrian injury rates..

Thursday, 3 May 2007

Flips and Flops

In computing, "flop" is often used to mean "[fl]oating point [op]erations". The speed of computing systems can be measured in TeraFlops and so forth.

If this is the case, does that mean then, that we could call [str]ing [op]erations "strops"?

If so, would string operations performed by small children become TerrorStrops?

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Composite (Web) Controls and INamingContainer

When creating a .NET 2.0, composite, web control - if you wish to handle events within your control (e.g. table with a built in "next page" button), remember to implement INamingContainer.

There are no methods to implement - just the interface itself, which notifies the runtime that it should enable the control to handle events itself (rather than simply defining event handlers to bubble them out to listeners).

Failure to do so results in 3.5 hours of stupifying, pointless, wasted investigation.


Sunday, 29 April 2007

The Hogfather - Part One

Just watched the first part of the TV rendition of Terry Pratchett's Hogfather.

I was cynical about it.

I was wrong.

It's blummin marvelous.

Ho Ho Ho.

Saturday, 28 April 2007

Novatech - the fall from grace

I used to hold "Novatech", the computer/etc retailer in very high regard.

However, things change.

Today I ordered a keyboard and some blank DVD media for "Fast-Track" collection. I paid. Everything was in stock. I received an email telling me to come and pick up my order in 30 minutes time.

I drove there (luckily it isn't far or I would probably still be there, fuming).

The keyboard wasn't in stock.

"But.. your website said 'one in stock', and told me to come and collect it. This suggests that you have one."

"Yeah. We do. But its assigned to another order."

Bunch of nobbers.

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Gosh. Its been ages.

I haven't blogged anything for ages. Although if you actually read this, you might be grateful for that! It's not that nothing blogworthy has happened - its just that I've been busy and ill.

Avoid Gastric Acid Reflux. It's very nasty. Currently on my 2nd bout in the last six months, and have lost a stone in the last week - it DOES seem to be an efficient way to slim down!

According to today's Sun, Gordon Brown has admitted that he is no good at maths.

We could never have guessed.

His budgets are usually such logical masterpieces that.. oh.. no.. wait.. I meant deceptive masterpieces...

Wednesday, 31 January 2007

NCover and TestDriven.Net on Windows XP64

Just wanted to share this with any of you having the same pain.

If you are using TestDriven.NET and/or NCover on Win XP 64, and get this error in the event log:

.NET Runtime version 2.0.50727.42 - Failed to CoCreate profiler.

For more information, see Help and Support Center at

Along with "Failed to CoCreate Profiler" in the VS2005 output window, when trying to "Test with.. coverage", the best fix I have at the moment appears to be to set your test assembly (e.g. Project.Test, rather than the actual project itself) to be a 32bit assembly, via the Properties->Build section. This seems to be a bug in NCover, and will hopefully go away soon.

Tim Anderson talks a little about this here, and this link provides some more technical info.

Friday, 26 January 2007

They joys of local city councils

Yay. I have to deal with the council again.

I need to update my residents parking permit, because I have a new car. Currently I am paying £10 a week for 7-day temporary permits, and soon I won't be able to buy any more, because I will have exceeded my "quota" for this period.

Now that I've got my V5, I can do this. Of course, I don't know what else I need to take with me (e.g. do I need the new permit? I don't want a SECOND one, because I'd have to pay for that).

I'll phone and ask.

Of course not. They're only open when I'm at work, they have no answerphone and don't seem to be able to reply to their email. Sorry, I pay council tax for......? occasional rubbish collection?

Recruitment CONsultants

Let me be fair, before I begin - some Recruiment Consultants or Recruitment Agents are very good. When I last changed jobs, I dealt (in main) with three people from different agencies, and they were all excellent - "IT Talent" in particular were really, really good - the guy knew what he was talking about, called me about relevant positions I stood a good chance of getting, and so forth. Plus they found me my job.


Some are utter nobbers.

Got an email today asking if I want to be a UNIX Systems Administrator in London City, earning 30k. Had the rat-loving fart-faced mumble monkey bothered to even OPEN my CV, he would have found that I don't do UNIX, I'm a Programmer, not a SysAdmin, I live too far from London to commute there and finally, that I probably wouldn't get out of bed for the money. Unless I could work from my lounge.

I suspect he was also the source of my 4 screened, err, missed, calls today.

Monday, 8 January 2007

New Car!

Finally, something to be happy about. I've bought a new (well, new to me, anyway) car (Ford Fiesta), which I'm collecting tomorrow.

Of course, this means I now have to sell my old one - which needs an MOT first. It's booked in for Thursday, and typically, one of the back brakes has started making a noise not unlike "ggrrrhhhhrrrnnnnkkkkkrrrrrrrgggg", no less than ten minutes after I made the booking.


Sunday, 7 January 2007

Blog: IT Gears - Serving The Hackers Culture

Stumbled across quite a good techie blog (well, at least, it had a rant about IE7 on it, which I enjoyed reading) today. You can find it here.

Saturday, 6 January 2007

Why IE Sucks

I ran accross this blog today while trying to find out why on earth a web page was doing something odd in IE7 but not FireFox. Shockingly it seems to be a bug in IE.

That's never happened before.

Oh well. At least I found some good reading material on the way - and thus I thought I'd share it with you.

Friday, 5 January 2007

What shall we do with the lazy coder?

Perhaps more troublesome than the drunken sailor!

Wired news have an article here about how wonderful and fast PCs are going to become in 2007.

Lies. Well. OK. It's true, to a point. At least, it will be true until lazy coders fall into more bad habits and ruin the dream for everybody - again.

I remember when my PC had 32mb of RAM and a HDD measured in Megabytes, along with a CPU that was in the realms of 300mhz (and at the time - circa ten years ago, that was a pretty good system).

Now my PC is a dual core 2.2ghz, 2gb RAM system, and the total amount of storage available to me both locally and via my LAN is well over 1Tb. But if I want to do something simple, e.g. write a letter telling someone how much their poor service has infuriated me - I can't do it any faster.

It takes just as long, if not longer, to send an email now, as it did then.

Have you noticed that Outlook (note: I'm not Microsoft-Bashing, just using Outlook as an example) consumes upto 30-40mb of RAM? Thats more than most PCs had ten years ago.


Partly because we want everything to be nice and polished and happy-looking these days (this is a good thing, don't get me wrong - Windows 3.11 was butt-ugly, I'm much happier with XP), but its also partly because coders are much lazier.

They frequently use the tools/languages they know best, rather than the best ones for the job, and their test systems are normally top-spec machines, which they use for their development.

Personally I like to use my 800mhz VIA mini-pc for testing. If something runs quickly on there, it's definitely going to present a rapid user experience on a medium to high end machine.

Do you want to die?

Next time you cross the road, ask yourself this question:

Is today a good day to die?

If the answer is "no" then I suggest you use a crossing, or open your eyes and do not employ what appears to be a standard tactic for under-60s these days; The "I'll just walk blindly accross the road - the cars will stop for me" code, rather than the old favourite - Mr Green Cross.

One of these days, I won't stop.

Un-Civil Engineering

There is no other way to vent about this, other than to post here, therefore:

Dyer & Butler (a Civil Engineering firm) employ nobbers.

I know this because a van load have just driven past me and a number of other shoppers on the street, singing loudly out of the window of their corporately branded van (Y352ROT), generally shouting abuse, and behaving like idiots. The driver included. Quite how you steer a van (even slowly in traffic) while dancing to "I'm so excited" and waving both arms in the air I don't know.

The same [censored] also felt it was totally appropriate to stop in the middle of a pelican crossing to set down some of his passengers.

Twats, one and all.