Thursday, 31 March 2011

My Dream

I had the weirdest dream last night...

I dreamt I was in a field on the edge of a rocky cliff top, which was festooned with washing lines, each holding a brilliantly white sheets.... just before dawn.

As I walked through the white sheets the ground changed from rocks to paving stones, yellow sand stone ones... then I saw a man, in a white vest and like sailors deck trousers, all perfectly white... As I came right up behind him he turned his head to see who I was, and suddenly from behind him, behind a sheet rushed a man in black and grey, who stabbed and stabbed and stabbed the man in the white...

The man in black then fled and the man in white was crawling on his hands and knees, red staining his now tattered clothes which hung from his skinning limbs... he had white hair and bright blue eyes.. which now bulged with shock and were blood shot... but he crawled...

He crawled through the sheets moving in the wind, each time he touched a sheet it was stained vibrant red.

Then he got into the open moving air of the cliff top, and his hair was blowing in the wind... blood dripping from his finger-tips, he precariously stood, and watched the sun rise, to triumphant music playing... the blood dropping, his eyes weeping in the light of the new born day as he stared at the rising red orange and yellow.

And a voice said "This is your dawn".

Then he fell from the cliff.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Is it a Char, or a Car?

I've never been a huge fan of American English, it has annoyances, it imposed itself over the planet and it sometimes is plainly wrong... not that British (the Queens) English is better, but at least British English has a heritage it's not just changing for the sake of change...

And, one change for the sake of change, which I've come across this weekend, is pissing me off...  I'm a programmer, and one of the types of data one can operate with is character data... you can have strings of characters... characters are "char" in most programming languages... character... ch-ar-ac... char... char... like charcoal... like ch-ild... ch...

Yet this yank insists on calling them "CAR"... CAR STAR... for char*... ARGH.

I want to slap him.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Borland Turbo C++ Lite

So I was rummaging through some old diskettes... you know those plastic things about three and a half inches across, you remember them right?  Yeah, you got some in that box in the attic with a VHS tape and King Tut's Burial Mask...

Anyway, I found some of those, so I borrowed a USB floppy drive from work and guess what I found on the first one I put?

A real blast from the past:

Anyway, as I know Borland have released Turbo C++ into the public domain (but no-one can download the damn thing) and because this is a version distributed through a cover disk for promotional purposes here's a link to Turbo C++ for DOS as a download.

Friday, 11 March 2011

£22.19 for a brand new Samsung CLP-320

Don't worry, this isn't an advert... just worry, this is a bit of bragging.... I just ordered a brand new Samsung CLP-320 Colour Laser Printer...

And it only cost me £22.19.

How did I do this?  Well, I've actually been clearing a load of the shit out of my house and selling it on eBay and building up a little bit of cash in PayPal... And then I've only had to pay the difference of the original price from my PayPal balance.

I actually sold off a lot of my drumming books £30 of them, plus a £10 DVD just today to fund this little jitty... But, I've been wanting to be able to print a decent quality of document for ages...

And when something bugs me, oh boy does it bug me.

I've priced this thing up, read all the reviews, from the honest to the silly to the adoring ones... I event went to visit one in PCWorld today to see what it looks like and feels like and to open all the doors and twist all the knobs and slide all the slide-able bits.

All I need do now is clear up my desk and move my big PC back under the desk (it's been on top since I fitted my new "quieter fans")

As you can see there's a lot going on... 

Speaking of those fans, at some point over the next two days I'll get around to putting up my information and review.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

It's not racist, its...

It's not racist it's just shit... though it might very well say Zion, because it certainly doesn't say 2012.

30% slower than broadband!!! WOOOT

Let me first phrase this post with 'I hate the technology writing on the BBC at present, the work they are doing is shoddy, misleading and sometimes just down right wrong' and this post is about just such an occasion.  I flicked into the BBC News site and into the Technology section this morning, as I normally do and was greeted with an instantly miss-leading headline banner:

"Home wi-fi '30% slower' than fixed broadband"

No shit wi-fi is slower than a physical wire!  This is so miss-leading its untrue, wi-fi by its nature is slower than a physical connection, especially in noisy office and domestic environments.  Heck in my street there are 5 wireless networks all on channel 4 alone!  (Guys in the New Brinsley area, please god move to other channels... but not the ones I'm on!).

But the BBC saying this, is plain scaremongering.  But I persevered and read on, and what the article is actually saying is that there is a "30% drop-off compared to the speed coming into the home [compared to the speed advertised by the broadband provider]".  Now, that is news worthy, it needs tackling, it needs pointing out to Ofcom.  But, the BBC headline completely leads the user away from that, with their pretty picture of a girl laying on the floor, without wires, using wi-fi to surf the net on her laptop.

The article then goes onto to shove its foot further down its own gullet with quote "people are voting with their feet and trading speed for the benefits of mobility" - Iain Wood, Epitiro.  That is a strong argument, people are trading the speed of their connection for the freedom of mobility.  Fair enough.

I know, and I'm sure you know, that what Iain means is that the wi-fi technology is intrinsically slower than the wired variety, therefore when they use wi-fi they are accepting wi-fi speeds, even if they know they have a 20mbit connection they know they only have a 10mbit wi-fi router (standard wireless-G routers are approximately 10mbits and are usually less when in a noisy environment).

Iain, I'm sure, is not saying this is knowing skulduggery by the ISP's [broadband providers] as the BBC are intimating with this article!  And indeed he goes onto explain the difference between the wireless speed and poor signal, and the broadband speed.  But instead of saying "they are different" they use the bullshit word "the disconnect between"... (gah, I hate this bullshit).

What is basically being explained, for those of you not in the know, is.  If you are paying for a big large download speed from your internet provider, and you are then plugging this into a Wireless-G router, you are simply not making all your pipe space reach your network.  I'd recommend you look at buying a Wireless-N class router, which provide much more space on the airwaves for your broadband bandwidth to be served in a bubble around your home.  However, beware, you don't just need a newer router, you also need each device on your network to be Wireless-N also.  If you are still using a laptop, or desktop PC, with just a wireless-G card, it will only suck wireless-G amounts of bandwidth out of the Wireless-N bubble your router provides.

And all this is totally different to the speed the ISP is actually giving.  If you are paying a premium for a large pipe, say 20mbits and are only using wireless you may never know your actual provided speed.  So, take your PC or laptop physically to where the broadband comes into your home and plug directly into the router with a wire.

The wire should then give you a much clearer idea of the actual speed you are getting.  You can search the internet for speed tests, one I use can be found here.  If you then take three or four traces of the speed of your connection, one early in the day, one mid-afternoon, one early evening and one late at night and find that the speed is consistently lower than that which you are paying for pick up the phone and complain.

Now, when you speak to your ISP they may use a term "ISDN" to you, or "PSTN" these two gangs of letter basically mean that "your broadband goes over telephone cables at some point" and telephone cables; bless 'em; are not designed or quiet enough for decent transmission of broadband data.  As such, you may find you're told you are "too far from the exchange" for a better speed.  This means that there is so long a physical wire from your home to the telephone exchange that your signal is too noisy and dirty to give you the full speed you are paying for.  In these cases you can bug the likes BT for some of their new longer range broadband technology.  Or you can look to go to a different supplier who give a solid copper wire direct to your door, such as Virgin Media.

Another fobbing off technique providers use is to tell you that they provide a fair usage quota, so that at busy times of the day, such as the early evening, they slow down connections so as to even out their bandwidth their end.  This is usually deep down in the small print of their contracts.  However, if you've had your broadband since before 2005 you can challenge this contractual item, as they usually didn't mention it when you took your service out with them!  Basically they imposed fair use quota's and speed limits after the explosive growth of the take up of broadband.  And usually your contract tells you nothing about it.  As such you are entitled to the service as advertised, or a refund.

If anyone in the Nottingham or north western Nottinghamshire area wants some help understanding their wireless set up feel free to drop me a line, for a small fee (or just a cup of tea) I can see what your set up is like and maybe explain how you might benefit from upgrades to your wireless for gaming, watching video or downloading.

And for god-sake, don't be sucked in by the piss poor reporting of technology from the BBC.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

It Floats... It must Float...

So, I recently got through reading Professor Colin Pillinger's biographical account of his trial and tribulation in getting the Beagle2 Probe built and out to Mars on the back of the Mars Express mission by the European Space Agency (ESA).  I recommend the read, I really do, it's a great roll through the foothills of the frustrations he encountered and his f**k you all attitude to get the job done... something which has been sorely missed from the overall field of human space exploration since the Apollo Programme was axed in the early 1970's.  And what's more, Professor Pillinger made all his efforts under a big British flag... its not often we can say "we did that", but Professor Pillinger can.

His book is called "My Life On Mars: The Beagle 2 Diaries" ISBN: 978-0-9506597-3-2, if you can't get it from Amazon I'd recommend trying the British Interplanetary Society as a source.

But this blog post is not directly to do with my evening reading habits, its actually about a character who cropped to me as part of the Beagle 2 mission, a chap whom works for ESA (back then) and still seems to be working for them now.  His attitude has somewhat changed since Beagle 2, but thanks to Professor Pillinger I know how full of shit this guy is.

I'm talking about the so called Professor (read that as "dipshit") David Southwood.  He is the ubiquitous flotsam to which the blog post title refers, and from the read of Professor Pillinger's book I think I'm somewhat in a position to say, this guy is a knob, a class A variety Knobber.  The kind of person whom if they worked anywhere near me would be burned in effigy nightly to relieve the stress they cause...

And what has me shocked is this... look at this image...

(c)2011 - BBC - The Sky At Night

That is a still from my BBC iPlayer window which I have had playing away merrily next to me, and I have been watching the momentous 700th episode of "The Sky At Night".  Yet suddenly up pops the topic of exploring Mars, of getting out of this hiatus of stopping manned exploration of the solar system, and low and behold here comes Professor *cough*dipshit*cough* Southwood... and he's only saying he's right behind exploring Mars...

I then flick through the pages of Professor Pillingers book to read "The really bad guys from ESA: David 'call me anytime' Southwood,".

Now, in the programme shown Southwood (I can't be bothered to call him Prof no more, he may as well just accept if I ever see him in person he's going to get heckled) is only going on about exploring Mars "I want to see us explore Mars"... Really?  Really Dave?  Do you?  Then why did you throw every spanner in your bag into the cogs and gears of the Beagle 2 mission?  Why did you stir the shit?

Dave was saying on the show that he is part of the joint ESA/NASA accord to explore Mars, which makes sense as in the book he was going on and on about NASA this and NASA that, too bad it was often found to be putting words in to their mouth for them (NASA that is) when they'd said no such thing.  And then when NASA were ever checked on Dave's commentary for them they (NASA) usually said the opposite.

And I was just amazed that having read the book this guy appeared on the special 700th episode of "The Sky At Night"... I do hope one of the many host/co-hosts there, who are very learned people, had read Professor Pillingers book and gave Southwood what for before he left the studio...

However, I was even more amazed to realize that Southwood still works for ESA... I'm glad to see the UK's 260 odd million quid contribution to ESA for 2011 is being spent on such *cough* quality staff.

And it just backs up the old adage, that even shit can float.

Monday, 7 March 2011


So, I'm really rather busy, I've been doing lots of programming, my lady is not very well and I'm just taking 15 minutes break with a cup of coffee while working from home... so, think yourselves blessed that I've come to say hello at all.

I'm happy to announce a new upgrade for my computer is in the post to me, I've bought a bunch of "silent" case fans... for anyone wanting to make their PC quieter I recommend looking into quieter ones... I've had to go with 120mm ones (not larger quieter ones) as my case will only take 3 or 4 120 mm fans... but I've gone with three which are marketed as only producing 14dB of audible noise at 1000 rpm.

People wonder whether fans shift enough air through their box, but at the end of the day, unless you clad your PC in polythene you're going to hear everything its up to... so, lets see where these puppies take me.

I've also started a fund, for myself, to purchase Visual Studio 2010... I'm using the express edition at home, and I'm using the professional version at work, and I love it... it's got LOTS of bugs - for example every now and then a project [unchanged] will cease to compile or link... this cures itself if you stop pressing anything on the computer let it have a rest and then rebuild/rebuild all... Which is just so fucking annoying.

Oh, I did last week have 3 days off work, but I spent nearly the whole time looking after my lady... but on the wednesday I did install and play through 45%-ish of the Crysis single player game again... I like it... I decided to play it on Delta difficulty (the top) and to challenge myself to go start over again if I died, only basically going from cut scene to cut scene...

I soon found however that the game has some bugs... not least of which is on this graphics card it refused to go into wide screen mode... it used to on my dual 8800 GTX SLi Core 2 Quad machine... but on this Core i7 950 dual 480 GT SLi system it just sits there saying "No".

I'll get back to you all soon with more information about the fans and their sound result...

For now though, enjoy: