Archive for November, 2005

Tour

Wednesday, November 30th, 2005

Remember how I mentioned yesterday that I’m working on an event this weekend?

It’s the Tour de Trigs1, an overnight 30-mile hike around the high spots of north Oxfordshire and Warwickshire. I’m doing the same job as last year, being the radio-operating person for one of the rescue teams. This is good, because they were fun to work with last year and I’m looking forward to seeing them again. It’s also bad, because it means that even though the event starts and finishes in Banbury, I don’t know where I’ll be at any time so I can’t arrange to meet up with the fabby JG and Ned.

I’m travelling there and back by train – last year I got an hour’s sleep between getting up on Saturday and getting home Sunday, ard I don’t really fancy driving in that tired a condition. Annoyingly, the train ticket is cheaper than the amount of diesel the Gruntmobile would use anyway.

So this evening is being spent running round like a loony sorting my kit out for the weekend. Now where did I put my thermal underwear?

1 Yes, I know it should be Tour des Trigs, but it isn’t. Tell the organisers.

Mad

Tuesday, November 29th, 2005

It’s all been a bit mad today.

I volunteered to help with an event this weekend, and having heard nothing had kind-of assumed I wasn’t needed. This evening my instructions came through, so I’ve been running round like a loony, buying train tickets and making sure batteries are charged and things. I’m also working on a church event this Thursday evening, so I’ve been trying to make sure I’m ready for that too.

It was on the news today, that the Catholic church have completed a report on policy relating to homosexual clergy: Their policy is going to be that non-practising homosexuals can be priests. Now I’m firmly from the loony end of the Anglican stream, so it doesn’t really concern me, but I bet the various pressure groups will have a field day protesting about that.

Which would be odd really, because it’s exactly in line with their policy requiring heterosexuals to be non-practising before they can be priests.

Monday

Monday, November 28th, 2005

As promised, I went to a meeting today. It was parrot.

Only those of you familiar with the swear filter in SimonG’s chatroom – which replaces rude swears with animal names – will totally understand that, but I’m sure the rest of you get the general idea. Even the free food wasn’t up to much, although I suppose it’s a good thing that I won’t have put on any weight today.

Still, no time has been lost, as the computer network – which failed last Thursday, is still down. I wish I worked for a big multinational, they don’t have problems like…

Oh, wait a minute, I DO work for a major multinational.

Busy

Sunday, November 27th, 2005

Today, I’ve:

  • Been to church, and served coffee to the assembled masses afterwards
  • Washed the Gruntmobile for the first time since August. It was filthy, and took three bottles of pressure wash shampoo
  • Written 73 Christmas cards
  • Started making the list of people I missed off the original Christmas card list
  • Found, and installed on the laptop, some software I’d been looking for
  • Felt tired

Tomorrow I’ll be grumpy, as I have a stupid all-day meeting to discuss elements of a project that may not happen, and which even if it does we don’t know enough about to discuss these elements in any degree of useful detail. Still, there’s a rumour there’ll be free food and coffee.

A Grand Day Out

Saturday, November 26th, 2005

You may have guessed from the title that I’ve had a nice day :-) . In fact, I’ve been caching with Rob and Miche, including finding my 400th cache! Then it was on to a pub for lunch, where we met up with some other caching chums.

It was a bit cold today – to the extent that if this day hadn’t been pre-arranged, I’d probably have stayed in bed this morning – but we had a great day and all was much fun. Photos to appear when I get them sorted :-D

So, today’s caches were:
St. Leonards Cache a nice easy one to start us off, only a couple of minutes from the parking place.
Let’s Get This Party Started (revisited), a bit of a trudge through a load of mud, and down a hill and back up again. A really nice hiding place, though, with good views.
Aelfsige’s Allure, the four hundredth! This one’s hidden in some woods near a pretty pond. We had a good thrash around looking for this, when I noticed that Rob and Miche had stopped searching – they’d found it, but thought I had to work a bit for my milestone cache! We also spotted a very tame robin: I hope there’ll be some pics sometime.
JAG 005, a nice easy one alongside a little lane.

I also picked up two travel bugs – Soloman the Simm Card and Gecko

Best

Friday, November 25th, 2005

George Best died today.

You couldn’t miss it really – when I got to the gym at five o’clock, it was the “breaking news” on Sky News – which is odd, because it had been on Wanadoo’s news page four hours earlier. It continued to be breaking news for the next forty minutes (I checked with the timer on the treadmill), when we had an eight minute break for other news, then it was back to the top story of the day – George.

I don’t want to minimise things – of course I feel sorry for George’s family in their loss – but one of the stories that was relegated to the “unimportant” slot was the latest in the hunt for those responsible for shooting two unarmed police officers (and murdering one of them). A bit of prioritising called for here.

Gottle’s Fashion Tips: No. 1

Thursday, November 24th, 2005

Don’t buy cheap reading glasses from magazine offers.

They were two pairs for the price of one – the other pair are even worse, they’ve got blue frames. I look like somebody’s grandma. And to add insult to injury, when I was in Tesco this morning I spotted that they’re selling Foster Grant reading glasses for a squid less that I paid for these.

Bah.

To Geek or Not to Geek

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2005


My computer geek score is greater than 54% of all people in the world! How do you compare? Click here to find out!

Wah! I’m sure that’s not true! The first question is “Do you think you are a Geek?” and I even said no to that!

Maybe admitting that I can write HTML was a mistake. Although I suspect most Geek points came from agreeing that Bill Gates is evil (but let’s be honest – what sentient being1 wouldn’t?). Anyway, anyone who’d seen how much I’ve been struggling with wireless-networking-related issues over the last week would agree that I’m no geek at all. I thought I had file sharing sussed last night – but sadly not :-(

1 Apart from Bill Gates’s mum, I suppose

Feeling Fuel-ish

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2005

According to an ad I just saw on the telly, about four hundred times a year, someone fills a diesel vehicle with petrol.

I’m surprised it’s as few as that, given that in my small circle of chums, I know three people – including me – who’ve done it. The most recent was the excellent SimonG, who was kind enough to entertain us all by blogging about it, but lets be honest – Simon DOES have a reputation for being just a little bit rubbish. A couple of years ago, my good chum Gill started a new job which involved driving a company vehicle, and soon filled it with petrol by mistake. Her boss had a good laugh about it and told her not to worry, loads of the staff there have done the same thing.

Back in the far-ago days of 1990, when I was a Scout Leader person, we had a mega-scout-camp down in Sussex, somewhere near the Kent border. Three troops – from London, Kent and Southampton – got together for a joint thingy, which included activities at venues far removed from the campsite. One morning – I’d guess it was about halfway through the week – I had to take a party to a reservoir miles away for sailing. Just before I left the site, my fellow leader Charles said…and I promise you these were his exact words…“Don’t forget the minibus needs petrol.

Well, what would you have done?

It was only when I presented the receipt to the camp treasurer – by coincidence, Charles – that he explained that “needing petrol” was just a figure of speech, and I should have realised he meant “fuel”.

So how come only four hundred people a year do it?

Another Book Review

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2005

So, the first blog pre-written on the PDA and wirelessly posted! Well, the first if you don’t count all those when I was staying in the Stratford hotel.

It’s just a shame really that I can’t remember what I was going to blog about, but never mind – you can have a book review instead. I’ve been working my way through a series of detective stories set in Derbyshire, by Stephen Booth, and at last I’ve reached the book in the series that was originally recommended, that started me on the literary odyssey. “The Dead Place” has a series of murders which may or may not be connected (I’m only partway through), but more importantly – and this is where the recommendation came from – near one of the murder scenes, the detectives stumble across a geocache, and obviously have to follow up all the people who’ve visited. The cache bits are well-written and researched, and the level of detail is good.

I hope one of the cachers isn’t the murderer.

Punnish-ment

Sunday, November 20th, 2005

While I was driving to a cache this afternoon, I spotted a van belonging to a firm of fork lift engineers. I can’t remember who the firm were, but their slogan was “The Best Trucks in the British Aisles”. At first I thought I’d spotted the Mummy and Daddy of all spelling mistakes, but then I remembered that in a big warehouse, the spaces between racks – where the fork lifts go up and down – are called aisles. A clever pun – but a shame it’d be lost on most of those who see it.

This afternoon’s cache was Das Stämmchen, a second attempt at one I tried for a couple of weeks ago. I thrashed around in the bushes for a while before phoning a chum who’d found it already, to ask for a hint. It wasn’t really cheating – the hint wasn’t much help, to be honest, as Tim told me “It’s at the thingy of the thingy” (he didn’t really say that, but I’m being careful not to give anything away), which I misinterpreted and looked at the thingy of the wrong thingy. Eventually – after I’d been joined by another cacher, “Bob26″, whom I’d never met before – I thought “I wonder if Tim meant this thingy over here?”. Sure enough, he had done, and I found the cache within seconds.

Mind you, Tim also suggested the approximate dimensions of the cache – and if that’s what he calls eighteen inches, June must have been very disappointed ;-)

Networkification

Saturday, November 19th, 2005

Bah

I’m sure I’ve said this before, but Windows is officially a pile of pooh. My attempts to further my networking have come up against Gates-induced trauma at almost every stage.

Still, never mind – I took my luvvly Mum for lunch at our favourite restaurant today, and in the course of our lunchificating we got to chatting to a nice chap on his own at the next table: He has high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes – like me – and he recently lost his spouse to cancer – like my Mum did – so we had plenty in common.

Then on the way home we stopped at Halfords, so I could buy some antifreeze and windscreen wash fluid, and while I was there, you’ll never guess what I saw. People were buying Ready-diluted windscreen wash. That’s right – they were paying good money for a plastic bottle containing eighty percent tap water! Now I’d be the first to admit to the occasional lazy tendency, but even I’m not too lazy to get water from the tap to fill up my windscreen washer bottle. They also sell ready-mixed antifreeze and water.

Then it was home to continue the exciting struggle to make the desktop and laptop file share with each other. I promise I’ll blog about something more interesting (like geocaching) soon.

Dilate

Friday, November 18th, 2005

Today, chums, I have mostly been dilated.

On occasion delighted, but mainly dilated. Don’t worry, I haven’t gone into labour or anything – although I’d be worth a few quid if I had – but I’ve had one of those horrible eye tests where they squirt stinging stuff in your eye, then take photos as you writhe in agony on the ground. Having been warned that I wouldn’t be able to drive for at least six hours after the test, I took the precaution of booking a day’s holiday from work, and it’s lucky I did – it’s not a very nice process. Anyway, camera-operating-lady took the photos, and stared at one of them in concern.

“Ooh dear, there’s something horrible in your right eye”
“A sort of fibrous growth running from one side to the other?
“Yes”
“I know. I was born with it.”

Anyway, results in about ten weeks, knowing the NHS. Meanwhile, for those bits of the day where I could see, I’ve been doing further work on wireless networkification. Everything now seems to be much as I wanted, with the exception of file sharing between PeeCees. Still, I got a copy of Networking for Dummies from the library this afternoon, so I’m sure I’ll have that sorted in no time.

Ooh, and on the subject of books, can anyone recommend a good guide to edible fungi?

Internet in a Cold Climate

Thursday, November 17th, 2005

Well that went better than I might have expected.

I went straight to Rockin’ Rob’s place from work last night – as you’ll know, my wireless networking bits had arrived, so I went to collect them. I’m now the proud owner of the wireless modem/hub/router which I blogged about last week, also a wireless card for the desktop PC and a wireless card for the lappytoppy. I’ve had a wireless card in the PDA for ages, so I didn’t need one for that…

Anyway, it took all evening (except the half hour when I stopped to watch Rough Science1), but before I went to bed I was simultaneously in Simon’s chatroom on the laptop and the desktop, and surfing the web on the PDA – the PDA won’t access the chatroom properly, but it never has, and I think that’s a feature of the chatroom software rather than anything I’m doing. WEP encryption is enabled, so hopefully I won’t be getting pizza-scoffing loons parked outside my house with laptops poncing my bandwidth2, and this morning, within seconds of waking up, I was surfing the net on the PDA while snuggled under the covers in my nice warm bed!

A job for the next few days is to get the router mounted on the wall in what is going to be its permanent location, which will also enable me to get rid of some of the trailing cables around the place – but that mention of my nice warm bed reminds me of a subject that has escaped bloggery so far.

Last Saturday, feeling the cold a bit, I turned the central heating on at Gottlegog Towers – or rather I didn’t. The gas jets roared into life and the hot water works OK, but from the central heating pump – nada. Tuesday saw the arrival of the gasman, who fixed the pump in about thirty seconds – apparently it was sluggardliness caused by the pump having been idle through the summer – and spent the next half hour attaching labels to everything saying “DANGER: This Appliance Must Not Be Used!!! Do Not Remove This Label!!! A Puppy Dog Will Die Every Time You Even Think About Using Your Central Heating!!!”3. Apparently, although the installation is perfectly safe at the moment (and he tested it to prove it), it could become dangerous if a dead pigeon fell down the chimney, so I can’t use any of it until a chimney cap has been fitted and a carbon monoxide detector installed. He’s coming to do that next Tuesday.

It was minus four in Southampton last night.

1 Kathy Sykes isn’t in this series. Don’t think I’ll bother to watch any more.
2 If anyone I know needs to park outside my house poncing bandwidth – ring the doorbell and come in, for goodness’ sake. I might even tell you the WEP key.
3 I may be exaggerating slightly.

Rubbish²

Wednesday, November 16th, 2005

How long does it take two rubbish blokes to debug a simple problem in some software?

Back in the days when I used Blogger blog software, it wasn’t unknown for a blog to be lost as Blogger crashed part way through, and those who still use Blogger tell me it is still common. That’s one of the reasons why, when I set Jenny up with her own blog, I gave her WordPress, partly because it’s what I use, so I could fault diagnose more easily, and partly because I didn’t want her to have the frustration of Blogger crashing.

As she discovered the other day, it is possible, under certain circumstances, for WordPress to do the same thing, so you can imagine how pleased I was to discover that a reputable software provider – Pizza Scoffing Loon Software Inc – had produced an add-on for WordPress that makes it easy to recover lost posts. I obtained a copy of the stuff, and set about installing it on my own WordPress, the theory being that having got some experience of it, I’d then have a week to put it on Jenny’s blog while she’s enjoying the sunshine on Faultyventilation.

In short, it didn’t work.

Luckily the software developer is available on MSN and between us we tweaked and fiddled, making minor updates to the software, trying and testing. It wasn’t helped by Jenny keeping ringing me to ask for advice on getting her kitten photos on line, but I’m sure you’ll agree the results are worth it. Every tweak was tested, and it resolutely failed to work.

To cut a long story short, eventually the talented young software author spotted that when I’d installed the patch, I’d carefully followed the instructions through to the end – and not done the last thing. Once we had that sorted, it was easy.

So the answer to the question, “How long does it take two rubbish blokes to debug a simple problem in some software?” is, about four hours.

Backup

Wednesday, November 16th, 2005

Something odd has happened with Jenny’s blog – as you’ll have noticed if you’ve tried to go there and look at the pictures of her new kittens.

To keep the important stuff available to the public – and in a cynical attempt to get my own site traffic up – here are the pics she posted of her new kittens last night. She hasn’t actually got them yet – the Cats Protection people have to do a home visit to make sure the house is suitable first – but they’ve got visiting rights!

The least cute one on the pics is Chris.


The two sisters together


Pickle – the adventurous one. Apparently her ears aren’t as big as they look in this pic.


Button. Jenny says she’s called Button because she’s “As cute as a…”. Chris says she’s named after UK F1 driving also-ran Jensen.

Wired

Tuesday, November 15th, 2005

I forgot to blog yesterday.

Actually, that’s a lie – I didn’t forget, but yesterday was a Hospital Radio day, and by the time I got in I was so knackered – and it was so late – that I couldn’t be ostriched to go through all the hassle of turning the PeeCee on, logging in, composing deathless prose etc etc.

Of course, once I’ve got my luvvly new wireless router sorted out, that won’t be a problem – I’ll compose quality bloggage on the PDA while I’m at the studios, then as soon as I’m home, just log in wirelessly and post. Of course, what all this is leading to is the fact that all the bits and bobs I need for wireless networky routifying have arrived at Rockin’ Rob’s house – but he was too late home from work this evening for me to go round when I finished work and collect it: In fact at the time of writing, he still isn’t home from work :-( .

Oh well – there’ll be other evenings: Meantime, it leaves me a free evening to SimonGify my blog software, in the hope of setting up auto-recovery for crashed blogs (Jenny will understand – she suffered from it the other night!)

Polite

Sunday, November 13th, 2005

As part of the afternoon’s caching activity, I was walking along the Test Way south of Stockbridge: This section of the path follows the route of an old railway line, and in places is quite narrow, so that if someone wants to pass, one of you has to step off the path.

I heard the three young ladies (ages 7 – 10-ish) approaching from behind on their bikes some time before they got to me, so was able to pick a good spot for stepping onto the verge to let them through. They were obviously well-brought-up girls, and were polite as they passed:
“Thank you”
“Thank you”
“Thank you”

Then they started to get competitive:

“Thank you even more”
“Thank you more than that”
“Thank you more than she said”

And as they disappeared into the distance they kept it going:

“Thank you more than that”
“Thank you more than anything in the whole world ever”
“Thank you more than anything in the universe”

The funny thing was, as they’d been coming up behind me, they’d been debating the merits of peppermint Aeros. One of them – I think it was the youngest – really didn’t like them, and didn’t even think they should be allowed to be made. I thought that was a bit over the top, myself, although it would be no bad thing if more people thought that way – then maybe my peppermint Aero which I had in the office fridge at work, clearly labelled “Paul’s diabetic emergency food” wouldn’t have been stolen.

Anyway, the afternoon’s caching started with Quantum Leap: The Treasure, a new cache by my chums Tim and June, and which they told me about at the firework party last weekend. I’d planned to go and get it last Sunday, but Jenny told me I wasn’t well, and the weather forecast was rubbish, so I shouldn’t be so flippin’ stupid. So I did it today instead. From there, I walked along the Test Way (but not the bit mentioned above) to The Cow Pat Cache, in the process finding the cow pat the cache was named after. Yeurch! Still, a paddle in the river soon cleaned my boots off. Finally, another section of the Test Way (which was the bit where I met the cycling ladies) brought me to Steampixies.

And then I stopped at the White Hart for a quick Diet Coke, and then I went home.

Double Feature

Saturday, November 12th, 2005

Long-term readers will know that I’ve had my current mobile phone for nearly a year and a half.

One of the amazingly useful features it has, is “call waiting”: If someone rings while I’m on a call, the phone rings, at much reduced volume, over the current call: I can then decide whether to put the current call on hold, make the new caller wait, or whatever. An amazingly useful feature for a busy, popular lad like me.

Today, after eighteen months, call waiting activated for the first time. I was waffling to one of my Hospital Radio chums (moaning about another of our Hospital Radio chums, but that’s beside the point), when Jenny phoned me: She had some exciting news (in fact so exciting that it deserves capitalisation…Exciting News…there we go), but I’ll leave that for her to blog about.

Anyway, at the time these two folks phoned me, I was on my way home from the New Forest, where I’d recovered the camera in my fabby Bloggers’ Bog cache, and gone on to find another cache, Smuggler’s SandWitch. So that was a nice day.

Gah

Friday, November 11th, 2005

Today I went to a work meeting, at which I discovered that a load of “facts” which I’d been given to do some work on, were actually “assumptions”. If any one of them turns out to be wrong, I’ve got to start the whole darned lot again :-( .

And on the way home, I stopped off and did a cache, History Cache: 1497. Then I went to the gym, and now my sinuses hurt again. Still, my Mum’s feeling better, so that’s good.

Automatic

Thursday, November 10th, 2005

Not, as you might think, a moan about my least-favourite feature on my fabby Gruntmobile – although it’s true I wouldn’t choose to have automatic transmission again.

Instead, a comment about my PDA: It has a charging cradle which I drop it into at night, and it charges the battery so it’s fresh and ready to go in the morning. The cradle is also connected to the PeeCee, so that they can connect together and update files and things, so that both the PeeCee and the PDA have the most recent version of the address book, calendar and so on. This happens automatically whenever the PeeCee is turned on and the PDA goes into the cradle.

Annoyingly, there’s also some kind of intermittent feature where sometimes, if I put the PDA in the charging cradle when the PeeCee isn’t turned on, it switches itself on so it can do the update routine. Of course, because Windows™ is a pile of poop, I can’t just turn the PC off as soon as it goes into its bootup routine – I have to wait for it to cycle up and sort itself out, just so it can shut down1. It didn’t used to do that, and it doesn’t do it all the time – I’ll have to have a dig around and see if I can find the cause.

In other news…
Sickness Stats: Felt rubbish most of yesterday, much better (and so far, little sinus pain) today.
Mum Stats: She had a rather unpleasant test last week, and was warned that she might get an infection as a result of the test. They were right.

1 In case you’re wondering, I run Windows™ at home because I need my home software to be compatible with what I use at work. If the day ever comes that I don’t need that, I’m scrapping all Gates-related products and following the Penguin.