Archive for the ‘Weird stuff I noticed’ Category

Head Scratching Moment

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that I’ve been managing the website for the drama group.

When PF (whom I love very much) and I first started putting the site together, we wrote the first couple of pages in Word, saving it as HTML. We soon stopped doing that and wrote the rest of the site in Wordpad, but sorting out those initial pages stayed on the “to do” list: pages generated in Word have about ten million lines of surplus code that don’t seem to do anything very much, but we weren’t close to the storage limit of the web host so it wasn’t urgent.

Then yesterday, I had to change one of the Word-generated pages: It was only taking out the picture that was there and replacing it with another, and took me a few seconds, and when I spoke to PF later on the phone I told her I’d done it.

”No you haven’t” she told me, ”the old picture is still there”. After some debate she called in another member and got him to have a look and see what he could see. He saw the new picture, same as I did.

”Ask him what browser he’s using”, I suggested, in a moment of inspiration.”Firefox”, came the reply.

So, the site resolves correctly on Firefox, which he and I are using, but not in MSIE, which PF was using. To test my rapidly-developing theory, I opened MSIE on my machine, and sure enough I was looking at the old version of the site as well.

No, I haven’t uninstalled MSIE from my machine – I keep it for testing website compatibility, and it’s a shame I hadn’t used it before uploading…

To cut a long story short (too late!), MSIE doesn’t resolve properly with websites generated from MS Word. I solved the problem by stripping out all those millions of lines of surplus code that I mentioned back in the second paragraph, at least one of which obviously was doing something – it was telling the browser to ignore the (IMG) tag in the HTML and display a different picture instead.

The moral of this tale, my bunnies, is that if you have to write a website, do it properly, using a simple text editor from scratch. It takes a bit longer, especially if you’re converting a file that’s already been written in Word, but at least it’ll work, and you’ll understand what the lines of code are doing.


Thursday, June 24th, 2010

You really were going to get the Lord Young rant today…but then he went and spoiled my fun by saying something sensible. I can’t prove it because the forum where I found it is down for maintenance, and although I’m sure it was in the Daily Telegraph, I can’t find it on their website anywhere.

The gist of his comments was that the problem with Health and Safety seems to be peoples’ perception of it, rather than the law and practice itself. Which of course is what this blog, and most of the rest of the Health and Safety profession has been saying all along.

We’re not out of the woods yet, and he’s still saying some incredibly daft things – earlier this week he was quoted in The Scotsman as saying “”Every piece of electrical equipment in an office has to be checked every five years. There are risk-assessment officers all over the place. It’s nonsense.” (see link). Yes, it’s nonsense – I thought I’d seen most of the Health and Safety myths going round, but this every five years is a new one even to me. And of course, this very blog debunked ages ago, the idea that there’s any legal specified frequency for electrical testing (see link and follow the link within that for even more info). As did the Health and Safety Executive in their Myth of the Month web page (see the July 2007 myth).

So since my blood pressure remains dangerously normal on the “Lord Young” front, I thought I’d share this with you. And note to Purple Fred (whom I love very much) – don’t worry, I’m not really going to cook it. I’d love to try a tiny slice, though…

Missed Opportunity

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

I spotted a brilliant “oops” photo the other day.

I was reading some online news about a speech the new Home Secretary had made, and the picture of Theresa May illustrating the story was one of those which MPs’ press advisers are supposed to prevent. Have a look at the picture illustrating this news story.

The picture I found – and really wish I’d saved so I could share it with you now – was an uncropped version of that. She’s standing in front of a poster showing what was then the Conservative party slogan, “Now for Change”

Except the way the picture was framed, and the way she was standing, makes it look like the slogan says “Now for Hang”.

Unfortunately by the time I came to blog about the picture, someone at the website where I found the story had realised what they’d done, and withdrawn the picture – the story is now unillustrated. So the moral of this story is – if you see a picture that makes you laugh, grab it straight away!

I’ll blog about what a great weekend I had tomorrow.

Patently Genius

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Me and Rob had a BRILLIANT idea the other night.

If you’re not familiar with the periodic table, go and have a look here. I’ve always thought the periodic table beautiful, taking the chaos of what some would consider a random universe, and describing it in perfect order.

The trouble is, it’s a bit difficult to learn, and a basic knowledge of where everything in the periodic table goes is essential for A level chemistry students, or at least it was in my day. They probably get to take a printout of it into their exams nowadays. Anyway, have you noticed – as we did – how the table layout looks a bit like a larger version of a keyboard?

Now these days, everyone knows that the top row of a keyboard is QWERTYUIOP, and a reasonable number of regular users will have meorised ASDFGHJKL as the second. So wouldn’t it be fab – and make life easier for the chemists – if someone designed a computer keyboard that was the same as the periodic table? Then everyone would quickly memorise the table layout, and as an added bonus you’d have all those extra keys to play with. Just think, you could describe this entry as RuBBiSH in two fewer keystrokes than normal.

Anyone know the phone number of the patent office?

You Only Live Twice

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

I did a London cache this evening which requires, not only that you find and log the cache, but that you include in your log a “Doctor, doctor” joke. My own effort was a bit feeble, but original – and if the cache owner has to read it, so do you:

Doctor, doctor, I
Can only express myself
in Haiku: Please help!

Wait your turn, young man.
These folk are just the same, so
queue, and form three lines.

And before anyone (Stu) says it, I know the pure Japanese form of Haiku does the 5/7/5 structure in a single line – but it’s an English joke so you get the English Haiku form!

I did another cache which was much easier and only required finding and logging :-)

Oh, and five points to anyone who can tell me (without recourse to Google), the relevance of today’s title. Sally-J gets the points automatically ‘cos I know she’ll know!


Thursday, March 18th, 2010

…on the train:
“My Dad crashed his plane”
“Was he on the ground?”
“After he finished crashing, he was”


Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

There’s something about train travel that’s been puzzling me…

When the train pulls into the station, the guard opens the nearest door to him, gets out and looks up and down the platform. When he’s satisfied, he unlocks all the other doors and the people can get on and off.

The thing is…what’s he looking for? I can understand him checking before he shuts the doors, to make sure he’s not shutting anyone’s leg in or something, but unless he’s looking out for Ghengis Khan and his ravening hordes about to invade the train, I can’t see what he’s checking for before he opens them.

Peter Hedgehog – I look to you for sensible suggestions. And everyone else – I’m relying on you for some daft ones.

In other news, PF (whom I love very much) and I have been working on the website for her amateur dramatic group. It’s still nowhere near ready, but there is at least a holding page there now with a bit of information. So in an attempt to start the page moving up the Google ranking, why not click on this link and see what we’ve done so far. In fact, why not click on it lots of times?

Hedging your Bets

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

I spotted this in London t’other day…


Apart from it being a shame to hide perfectly good scaffolding, I’d say they’re on to a pretty safe thing there: There must have been something that happened in 1966 that doesn’t happen this year, so they can just say that was what they were referring to…

Or have I missed the point?

Something Missing

Monday, December 14th, 2009

Standing in the bus queue outside Southampton station t’other night, we were joined by a young man – mid-twenties-ish – walking with crutches. He got on the same bus as me, and was joined in his seat by a talkative elderly gent who engaged him in conversation.

From their conversation we learned that the young man had attended university in Southampton, and had graduated last year: He had to move to Kent, because that was where his work was, but his girlfriend is still here in Southampton and that’s why he’s back for a few days.

At that point his phone rang.
“Hello, yes, I’m on the bus at the moment”

“I’m not sure where this one goes…It might go up alongside…oh you know, that parade of shops in, um, oh, that road”

“Or it might turn right and go along…that road that goes…oh, you know…”

“Where am I? Hang on…going along towards, oh you know, the road where the furniture shop is”

The phone call finished, the chatty old chap asked former student what he studied at Southampton Uni.


Oh how we chuckled.

Home, Home on the Range

Monday, October 5th, 2009

My luvvly new car, the sainted Evie, has a number of features that I’m not really accustomed to. One of those is a clutch and gear lever, but we’ll draw a veil over that for now, and concentrate on the range meter.

If you’ve never seen one of these, it’s part of the dashboard, and combines the amount of fuel in the tank, with the average consumption, to give the distance you’ll be able to drive before refilling. It’s quite useful – I’d never have left Hertfordshire yesterday without filling up, were it not for the friendly “226 miles fuel remaining” notification.

It can be a bit confusing though – it works from the current average fuel consumption, which of course is better at some times than others. Which has the effect that you start your journey, having done some “round the town” driving, with 226 miles left, and after 20 miles on the motorway you’ve still got 226 miles left.

I love technology!

Yellow Peril

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

Those of you who drive regularly will probably have experienced average speed cameras by now. They’re big yellow cameras up a pole at the start and finish of motorway road works, and often partway through as well. They recognise your number plate and time how long it takes you to get through the temporary speed limit, and if you’ve done it in too short a time, you get a nice little fine in the post, and points on your licence. Apparently these devices are known as “Yellow Vultures”.

Coming home from the Far North1 this evening, I passed through three sets of road works, each guarded by yellow vultures – and being the only one awake in the car, I started to have one of my “when I rule the world” musings…

So, when I rule the world, you’ll be able to register a credit card with the authority that runs the yellow vultures: If you exceed the speed limit when there’s work going on, the fine automatically gets charged to your card…however, if you stick to the speed limit at a time when there isn’t actually any work being done, you get the cost of a day’s road tax refunded to your card. Given that it seems that road work only gets done for a couple of hours a day, five days a week and never within two weeks either side of a bank holiday, most drivers could get their whole road tax back over the course of a year.

Alternatively, of course, all that money going back into the taxpayers’ pockets, and therefore being unavailable to pay MP’s dodgy expenses2 might inspire someone in authority to see that the roadworkers actually get on and get the bloody roadworks finished. Either way, motorists win.

Amazingly, I seem to have had a flight of fancy which is less bizarre that the Prime Munster’s latest wheeze.

1 Hertfordshire
2 Or mine, come to that…


Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

I spotted this today at one of our regional offices. Thank goodness it was in a communal area that the landlord is responsible for, not in our bit.


But you have to wonder what…if anything…was in the mind of the service engineer. “Hmm, it’s failed. Mustn’t forget to put FAILED on the label. And now I’ll just put it back on the hook and not tell anyone…”

Key Question

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

Now here’s a question that I bet one of my clever readers will be able to answer.

Most nouns are able to take an indefinite article: An egg, a train, a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, and so on. And then there are some nouns that don’t take an indefinite article: you don’t have a milk, or a lightning, or a water. It looks like this rule applies where you need another noun in front – not just a number – to quantify the noun: a bottle of milk, a bolt of lightning, two glasses of water.

This train of thought was started by a conversation with a security chapess about some stuff she was sending us, basically a more secure version of a PGP key. It’s a form of recording media similar to a USB memory stick, with a HUGE hexadecimal number on it, and she referred to this big number as “key”. Not a key, or the key, just “key”. And I thought that I’d never heard “key” used as a…

And then I realised that I don’t know the name of this type of noun that can’t take an indefinite article, or even if it has a name.

So the question is – does this type of noun have a name? And if so, what is it?

Pull t’Other One

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

Apparently, the mobile phone / internet providers T-Mobile and Orange are to merge (for anyone who hasn’t heard, this isn’t a joke, it’s a real news story).

One suggestion for the name of the merged company would mean that you could surf t’Internet via t’Orange.

Well I thought it was funny.

In the Beginning

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Greetings chums.

Since I last updated you, we’ve had two Medical Team barbecues, treated some patients – including some with symptoms suggesting Swine Flu – and consumed 11 packets of chocolate biscuits and seven million gallons of coffee (I blame the doctors for that). On a personal note, I managed to get off site this afternoon and found two geocaches:
Path to Cannards Grave
The One With the Sunset

I’ve also had a personal revelation – I know revelation doesn’t normally go with “In the Beginning”, but there we are: I’m allergic to yoghurt. It doesn’t make me turn green, or my head explode, or anything like that – but let’s just say it doesn’t remain in my stomach for very long. I’ve had this since I was old enough to eat yoghurt.

Needless to say, it’s a while since I’ve knowingly had yoghurt – about thirty eight years, if I remember right, but I’ve eaten it in curries, where I assumed the non-explosiveness was due to the fact it had been cooked. And then yesterday, I had a dessert which I thought had some funny-tasting Angel Delight on it, but turned out to be vanilla flavoured yoghurt. Again, no reappearance of either the yoghurt or anything else I’d eaten.

So I did an experiment today: I bought a peach-flavoured yoghurt from the shop on site, and with the loo ready to receive, and a bucket on my knee, sat in my caravan and ate it. That was ten hours ago and it hasn’t yet made a reappearance, so perhaps it’s fair to say I can now be a yoghurt eater.

Which makes buying healthy-ish desserts much easier.


Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

Remember a few weeks back I was staying in a posh hotel, and I showed you the sign on the inside of the safe, warning of a suffocation risk?

I was back there again last night, and this morning spotted this in the conference suite – which seems to sum up everything that’s wrong with management speak.



Mind you, we also spotted this on the menu…



Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

I spent last night in a hotel in the West Midlands.

I was delivering one of my world-renowned Health and Safety training sessions in the hotel this morning, y’see, so they put me up there last night. It was pretty nice – although a twenty-five quid taxi ride from anywhere – and in my explorings I found a safe in the wardrobe. It was a pretty standard hotel room safe, about the size of a shoe box with a set-it-yourself combination and a set of simple instructions. I took a photo to show you…


But hang on…lets have a closer look at those instructions…


Now I may be guilty of a lack of imagination here…but under what circumstances can a shoebox-sized safe present a suffocation risk?

It’s Not Fair…

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

…that I’ve had the tune of that darned Lily Allen song going round and round in my head for the last three days now. I don’t even like it…in fact I can’t think of anything by Lily Allen that I do like.

I wonder if it’s really true that you get earwormed by music you don’t like more often than music you do, or if it just seems that way? One way or t’other, it gives me a chance to recount the excellent musical insult I heard the other day: Bill Bailey, in his Remarkable Guide to the Orchestra was talking about the stage musical version of Mama Mia, which he generally didn’t think much of, and described as “Like being hit on the head with a piece of Ikea furniture…it hurts, but you have to admire the workmanship!”.

M’darling Purple Fred wants to go and see Mama Mia. Oh boy.

Worse Science

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

I’ve commented before on the rubbishness of Southampton’s local “newspaper”, the Southern Daily Echo.

And on the day I mentioned that I was reading “Bad Science” (i.e. yesterday), they neatly illustrated both their own rubbishness and the dangers of bad science reporting. Have a look at this story. So, our schools are filled with “deadly asbestos”, are they? So are most buildings dating from before the mid-nineties. Perhaps someone should tell the Echo that the schools’ central heating is driven by explosive gas (which is also an asphyxiant), and the electrical cables are stuffed to bursting with killer volts.

Even more worrying is the quote from “one leading teaching union” that “children’s lives are at risk until all asbestos is removed from schools”. The fact that the union isn’t named makes me think it’s a quote the Echo has invented, and I certainly hope so – the idea that the people responsible for the next generation’s education could come up with something so inaccurate and alarmist is the scariest part of the whole thing. We expect lazy research and hyperbole from Echo journos – but teachers are supposed to be clever (although there are stories in “Bad Science” that give the lie to that, as well).

Asbestos fibres floating free in air are dangerous: if inhaled they’re small enough to breach the body’s natural defences and penetrate to the lungs, where they can cause mesothelioma. Asbestos containing materials (ACMs) such as asbestos cement – which is almost certainly the form most of the asbestos in school buildings takes – are safe as long as they’re undamaged, and the safest thing to do is leave them in place, and inspect regularly to make sure they’re undamaged. Even if they are damaged, it’s far safer to repair and re-seal than remove.

Still, I don’t suppose that would sell many papers.


Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

Michael Martin, Speaker of the House of Commons, is resigning over the MP’s expenses furore.

While there’s little doubt that he hasn’t handled the situation well, I do find it a bit strange that the MPs themselves have been the ones demanding his resignation. It seems to me a little bit like “We’ve been naughty – you didn’t stop us – you must be punished”

The lunatics are truly running the asylum now.


Friday, May 15th, 2009

So – to the National Health and Safety Expo at the NEC. I scored a geocache just outside the NEC…

Sidetracked – Birmingham International

…spotted some amusing spelling mistakes such as this one…


(there was also a book called “Affective Health and Safety Management”, but as the author and publisher were standing proudly next to it, I thought photographing their smelling pistake might be seen as taking the mickey).

I did get a pic of this rather ill-thought-out trademark, though.


I even spoke to some interesting people and scored some worthwhile freebies – including a book that normally retails for thirty quid!