Saturday, December 19, 2009

Those Damned Jihadies

Dexter for Jam

A friend of mine, 'the chef', makes excellent Cherry and Vanilla jam, but wants to watch my copy of season 4 of Dexter. I don't know what happened - it looks like someone got hold of the DVD and is holding out for jam by way of a ransom. Probably Jihadies...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Common Sense – a Eulogy

A wise friend of mine sent me this email and it was so full of truth that it screamed out to be shared with my blogging community. I know most times we try to share crafty things and lovely flowers and decorating tips, but once in a while I get up on my soapbox to say something I hope will be beneficial or at least make folks think about things differently. I take no credit for this article. This is a reprint from "The London Times" not sure of the published date. In light of the current affairs of our economy and our nation this should make us all think.

"Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, COMMON SENSE, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as: knowing when to come in out of the rain; why the early bird gets the worm; life isn't always fair, and maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple sound financial policies such as: don't spend more than you can earn and reliable strategies such as adults, not children are in charge.

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate, teens suspended from school for using mouth wash after lunch, and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.

It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student, but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses, and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home, and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little on her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust. His wife, Discretion, his daughter, Responsibility, his son Reason.

He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers; I Know My Rights: I Want It Now, Someone Else is To Blame, and I'm A Victim.

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.

I am choosing to send this out and you have my permission to copy it and do the same if you agree. If not and it offends you, delete me from your visit list. I have fond memories of Common Sense and miss him greatly.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Words Fail Me...

"Walt Disney World to become twin town of Swindon" ... no, really - see for yourself

Thanks to this gormless never-grown-up fantasy victim, every 8 year old in this town is now expecting the full "Little Princess" package trip to Disney World for christmas, and will consequently hate her father for the rest of her life for his failing to deliver on the never-promised...

Poor bastards!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


... the gap between my wit, and what passes for yours ...

Flu Shot? Not on Your Nelly...

Read what Bill Maher says about the Flu Shot.

Much of what's said here is US-centric (and I'm not maligning that - far from it), but there are definite parallels with what we see in the UK media - what's touted as the almost heretic dissent of not taking the flu shot, and the subsequent pillorying of those dissenters. The govt, media, and places of work are paranoid, but the truth of the matter is that no-one has died OF THE FLU, it's always been from a combination of flu and something else as well. It's not a killer pandemic - it's just flu... I'll take my shot when it's wiping out people in their thousands, but it's not even at dozens yet. Actually, strike that - I'm NOT going to take my shot. Ever. It arrived too quickly for me to have any faith in its efficacy, or in the safety of the contents. I've worked for a pharma-related company in the past, and I have never seen anything come to 'market' as quickly as this flu shot (even usual seasonals come a tad after the fact, IMHO).

Monday, November 16, 2009

I Hate You, or A recent eMail to a Friend

I hate you.

In true new-broom style, the new regime is either micro-managing or simply avoiding doing anything remotely like managing. Singling out AND alienating, all in one. Genius.

I moved desk last week, AGAIN (the 5th move in a year), but only 2 rows over, and am due to do it again next week; I'm going for 3 in 3 (in any case, I'm getting ever closer to the car park – this could be my 'out', though it's proving more difficult than the walls at Colditz).

The new regime has now made me Dept X's bitch (replacing Miss y), but they had HR tell me via email – I then had a 30 minute handover from Miss y. It's always a pleasure to be in close proximity to such a well-presented frontage, but 30mins to hand over a job of work for which she claims she was 'rushed off her feet'?! Unlike her, perhaps, it just doesn't stack up. Either she forgot a whole load of guff, and I'm in for a spit-roasting of the right royal variety, or she was really shit at her job. Contractors, eh!

I continue to apply for jobs that I know I can do, but that I also know that 400 other dweebs have also applied for (I suspect the fluffy shit about what I do now on my CV is letting me down – I may have to use the phrase "I will rok your wrld, mutha fukkas" on the front cover).

Perhaps on the lighter side of things, I sit 20 feet away from Paspartout, so I keep pulling faces and making inappropriate comments whenever I can (she pretends not to like the ass-grabs in the stair-well, but I know better!). Perhaps an HR Violation is the only way I'm ever going to get out of here.

In summary: I come to the office in the morning, I go home in the evening – pretty much everything in between disappears into an instantly forgettable fog.

I can't remember if I said or not … I hate you.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I went to pay my respects at yesterday's repatriation in Wootton Bassett. I've wanted to go, felt a certain push from within, for a while, and either I haven't been able to make the time, or have looked for one only to find that it was 'yesterday'.

I don't know if yesterday's was any different from the many others, not having anything to compare it to, but it was a sombre and dignified affair, attended by soldiers – old and new – and civilians alike, marred only by the presence of so many news wagons. I understand that it's newsworthy, I agree that it must be reported, but by all the networks? There was a lovely 'up yours, vulture' moment, when a cameraman, eager for the shot, stepped into the road, and was immediately asked to step back by a policeman. Apparently someone was blocking his shot and wouldn't move. The policeman said 'tough' (or perhaps something a little more diplomatic, if only as sympathetic). The obstructive gentleman in question, as the cameraman increased the height of his tripod, stood on his tiptoes from time to time – much to the cameraman's annoyance (he actually went to speak to the policeman – again, the policeman was appropriately sympathetic).

Why did I go? I'm not sure. I was in the service, albeit briefly, and I suppose I've always felt an affinity for all things military – ever since I was a child growing up on military bases; or perhaps I just wanted to stand up and be counted amongst those that recognise the sacrifice these boys have made. In any case, it just felt like the right thing to do.

I was surprised, oddly, to see how many old soldiers there were (an indication of how many there are), and it was interesting to see the way that the old soldiers mixed with the new – only the age gave away the separation, or perhaps it's that age is the only separation - with the bonds forged in service comes the adage "once a soldier, always a soldier". Of course, there was a large contingency of Grenadiers, and to see them, and others with them, snap to attention and salute their fallen comrades brought more than a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye. The sharpness with which they did it made me come to attention myself, and it's been a while. I know I will go again - we should continue to honour the fallen, our war dead.

Yesterday I saw many soldiers, many medals, many salutes, and more than a few tears.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Does Anyone Use Their Brain Anymore? (or, How HR Locked Me in a Stairwell)

I seriously wonder if the only qualification for working here isn't simply having once been a BIBIC out-patient.

I needed a new pass, or rather I need a picture (of yours truly) on my pass, but my current pass is an 'old' pass because it doesn't have my picture on it. Does anyone else see the endless possibilities of cyclic redundancy here? "I've arranged for you to pick up a new one from reception, I'll need to change the pass number on your record" … note distinct use of the future tense (I know, it's subtle; but concentrate – it'll come to you).

On my way to pick up my new pass from reception, I went via the back stairwell (a common practice, if a little 'frowned' upon, which requires a pass in order to exit), only to find that I couldn't exit said stairwell at the reception level, because my 'old' pass had already been deactivated. Now I'm embarrassed, because I'm in a stairwell I'm not supposed to use with no picture on a pass that doesn't work. I started to feel like a terrorist (because if I was a terrorist, I'd almost certainly never put my picture on a pass – it's erm, how I'd live my life in the shadows?). Needless to say, hails of derisive laughter (well, not quite – more like a disgruntled office worker tut or two) followed my non-terrorist tapping on the glass in the door of the stairwell I'm not supposed to use as I wafted my picture-less pass that doesn't work.

So now I have a 'new' pass, only it looks just like my 'old' pass because it doesn't have my picture on it! I'm just waiting for the next call in my continued spiral to hell that says I need a new pass because my old pass doesn't have my picture on it…

... I now of course have two pass cards - the new one for the access, but not the time-recording machine (or should that be "...dung machine"?), and the old one for the time recording but not the access. Seriously, there simply aren't enough beds at BIBIC to adequately express my disappointment...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My Job is Pointless, or How Many Cogs Does an Engine Really Need

I'm a tiny cog in a giant multi-million government-funded IT project (oh yes, another one of those – 2 years late and £120 million over budget, but that's a different story; later my darlings…) to roll out an Oracle ERP for the provision of back-office support to a group of govt owned organisations via a single Shared Services Centre (I do rather feel that I've given the game away, but on we trot)… A large, but equally ominously ignored/poorly-implemented/(insert an appropriately split infinitive here) element of such a massive project is Change Management, the mainstay of which is of course the Change Log. This is where I come in, or, perhaps more appropriately, where I don't.

Each release has, attached to it, a Build Manager who, one assumes, is responsible for various elements of, let's say … ooh, the build. A huge portion of that build is comprised of the Change Requests contained in the aforementioned Change Log (we have so many changes mostly because nobody thought to properly spec said ERP system from the outset). Unfortunately, due to the hiring protocols, the end result is that bodies are brought in to do a specific job and are then let go. During their tenure, they do just that – exactly what they were asked to do - and nothing more. Then, of course, once they've fudged the deliverables, they're off like a shot (government cheque in hand, jigging all the way to the hedge fund). It would therefore seem that having the build manager actually use or refer to in any way shape or form the Change Log is somehow beyond the given purview. Needless to say, once the dust has settled, questions will be asked of yours truly regarding what was deployed and what wasn't. This will be the third time that I've been placed in the seemingly unending toilet swirl of embarrassment of not being able to answer such questions. It seems that "I asked your overpaid Build Manager (contractor) to update me a number of times before he left – he singularly failed to do so" simply doesn't cut it as an answer…

"You don't know? What do you mean you don't know? I don't pay you not to know! That's what I pay Jenkins for, isn't Jenkins?"

"I don't know, sir"

"Good man, Jenkins"

It looks like I'm living proof that not all cogs in the engine are necessary. Until, of course, the smoke comes billowing out of its arse, and the transmission (along with the driver's reputation) lies smouldering on the carriageway…

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Power of Outrage

It started with a kiss… no (I'm doing it again), a tweet. The first I saw of it was a fairly subtle and obscure tweet from Stephen Fry (it could have been that I just couldn't see through the fog of intellectualism, but hey – that's why we love him so much) saying that someone somewhere had written something horrid. I was hooked, and the floodgates suddenly proceeded to open. Jan Moir (lascivious hack from that well-known breeding ground of all hacks, the Daily Mail) had penned a not only poorly-thought but particularly vitriolic (can I use lascivious again?) piece about Stephen Gately's death. This type of hack (there I go again) journalism - no, wait, it's anything but journalism – does the industry no credit whatsoever, and it's been wonderful watching the way the web has been able to convey the abject disgust felt by all and sundry.

Apart from all the sniping, sarcasm, and wonderful put-down humour, my favourite has to be the fact that the headline this Moir creature used started life as Nothing 'natural' and suddenly jumped to Strange and Lonely and Troubling in a heartbeat. Almost as quickly as most of us out here hope her career is ending…

I now see that someone has written what I want to but can't (the constant switching of active windows in an otherwise busy office is taking its toll on me being able to string a coherent paragraph together). This is terrific:

Monday, October 12, 2009

Just another weekend in France

"We're back!" I shouted, with undisguised glee. Well, I sent a text – not quite the same, I realise, but inside I felt like a small blond child... no, wait, that's not what I mean at all ... inside, I felt like I was leading the hoards of the underworld stomping up the garden path to the front door of an unsuspecting country, singing some long-forgotten old-time religion song. No wait, it wasn't that either...

I do love France; I just can't stand getting here. I'd rather spend an hour and a half in the Strictly Come Dancing audience, listening to Brucie in all his drivel-ridden glory, than travel via Ryanair ever again. Three hour drive to the airport, 4am start, adverts dropping like bombs on Belgrade, and a landing that should have earned the pilot the nickname of "walk away" (well hey, they say that any landing you can walk away from is a good one). And all for one quick weekend in the everything's-closed-cos-October's-out-of-season countryside of the Haute-Vienne! Seriously, you thought Sunday's in France were 'quiet'? Try a Sunday in October out in the rurals! Nope – the next weekend is going to be somewhere with a little more verve.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Win7 Free Upgrade? - it's a money-grabbing SCAM, is what it is...

... well, ok, so "scam" may be a bit harsh, but here's the thing. If you buy an eligible PC/Laptop between June 2009 and March 2010, with Vista on it, you're entitled to a free upgrade to Win7. Go check it out. I'll wait... OK, so you saw that, and we've established a fact. Good. Now try and get it ... get it "free", that is. I bought a Compaq laptop a couple of weeks ago, and over the last few days I've ended up in a bit of a flame-war with HP (they own Compaq) Customer Service over their £21.99 charge for the "free" upgrade. Yep - £21.99! It's a DVD data disc, no doubt with some fluffy paperwork telling you how you've just upgraded to a cool OS (i.e. this one might just actually work properly), but even so... I emailed them and asked how they justified charging £21.99 for something that is advertised everywhere as free.

Now, I understand that they are perfectly entitled to cover costs of shipping/handling - no problem, I'm comfortable with that, so I asked how come it cost this much to ship a DVD. They said that it comes directly from Microsoft in America (what - they couldn't burn a few thousand DVDs here in the UK?) via a "third party" (er, that would be the postal system). I went to the Royal Mail web site just to see how much it would cost to go the other way... In order to actually spend £21.99 sending something to the US, it would be the size of a small stack of glossy magazines, and weigh over a kilo. Oh, and I get insurance (£500) with that, too, along with a "sign-for" service. To anywhere in the US.

When you consider how many DVDs will ship, and how many instances of £21.99 that equates to, this is nothing short of profiteering. Now, I know some of you will be thinking "£21.99 for an OS? - Hey, that's pretty good value", and you'd be right to think that - I think that. I will, of course, shell out the bloody £21.99, but what sticks in my craw is the fact that it's being touted all over the tinterweb as a free upgrade. It's not, and this needs shouting from the rooftops (or at least in my kitchen, at my girlfriend, or anyone else who'll stick around for me long enough to rant at them).

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Swindon Samba

Yep - we have a Samba band - it's only a startup at the minute, and it's fair to say that the collective rythm/syncopation is a little on the under-developed side, but there we are:

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sunset Vigil
- by Staff Sergeant Andrew McFarlane

The news is spread far and wide
Another comrade has sadly died
A sunset vigil upon the sand
As a soldier leaves this foreign land

We stand alone, and yet as one
In the fading light of a setting sun
We've all gathered to say goodbye
To our fallen comrade who's set to fly

The eulogy's read about their life
Sometimes with words from pals or wife
We all know when the CO's done
What kind of soldier they'd become

The padre then calls us all to pray
The bugler has Last Post to play
The cannon roars and belches flame
We will recall, with pride, their name

A minute's silence stood in place
As tears roll down the hardest face
Deafening silence fills the air
With each of us in personal prayer

Reveille sounds and the parade is done
The hero remembered, forgotten by none
They leave to start the journey back
In a coffin draped in the Union Jack

Friday, July 17, 2009

FaceBook Breaches Canadian Law? So give them bogus gen...

FaceBook Breaches Canadian Law:

So, before you delete your FB account, change every piece of personal information about yourself - BoB, name, email tel#, everything. That should do it...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Spotify - you corruptable fascist bully-boys!

Now, let me start by saying that I'm a fan of Spotify - it lets me listen to music that I'm not interested in buying (I didn't download it, I didn't breach anyone's copyright). Like radio, but I'm in charge (haha! - take that, Moyles, you gibbering TWUNT).

I haven't used it (the Spotify "it", that is) in a couple of weeks, but all of a sudden I'm being played an advert for (from? what's most correct here? anyone?) British Gas. And, Mr Spall - you're a fucking sellout too, whilst we're on the subject (but that may be cause for a separate rant, at another time - perhaps in ten minutes time, unless my tea's ready by then!).

Where was I? Oh yes... I was a fan of Spotify - right up until I was FORCED to listen to said advert! Here's my point, as succinct as I can manage with a large Black Russian in me (oh god, did that really come out like that?!) -

Hasn't the 'net worked out that, as we're ALREADY PAYING for 'net access, we don't want to PAY AGAIN...?? We channel hop when the commercials play on the TV (or go get another beer, or "something less boring instead" for those that can remember that far back!), so what makes you think we want to put up with internet adverts (after all, that's what Firefox plug-ins are for)? Their answer? Subscribe to the "premium" service (premium? what are you adding in order to call it that?) for £10 a month - barely less than the TV licence - and I get a shit load more channels than ... er, ONE, for that.

Nope - I'm done - they can get bent.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Firefox Windows Authentication

To enable windows authentication on your domain.
1. Open Firefox
2. Navigate to the url about:config
3. Locate the following preference names and put as the value the comma separated values of the address roots.
Your value should look something like this: localhost,server1,server2,serverX

Thanks to Eric Wise for the original post ...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson died. So this is how it's been in the office today...

What’s the difference between Michael Jackson & Sir Alex Ferguson? Sir Alex will be playing Giggs this summer!

Problem with his heart you say? Yeah - he couldn't beat it...

I heard it was a hereditary condition, something to do with the Billy gene?

Michael Jackson didn’t die of a heart attack, he was on the children’s ward having a stroke...

Maybe we should blame it on the boogie!

We heard, as he's so full of plastic, he was going to be melted down and made into toys, so that children could now play with him, instead of the other way round.

Apparently the police found class A drugs in the bathroom, and class 4B in the bedroom...

No one really knows his "Time of Death" but reports are coming in that the Big hand was on the little hand…

To (mis)quote the great DunGeekin:
"I didn't like the man, and for me the gravity of the allegations against him outweighed even the greatness of his back catalogue. But his music was something special, and my sympathies go to his family. But don't expect people not to take the piss, though..."

Friday, May 15, 2009

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sir John Chisholm - Competing Chairs?

I read with interest George Monbiot's article, especially where he mentioned that the MRC (Medical Research Council, UK) is run by an arms manufacturer. This set me to digging, not least because I currently happen to be working at one of the Research Councils myself...

So, as it turns out, the chairman of the UK Medical Research Council, Sir John Chisholm, is also Chairman of Qinetiq.

Sir John's Declarations of Interest are listed here, but I leave you to draw your own conclusions as to how these two 'callings' marry up, especially in the current climate of moral turpitude (MPs expenses, et al). Of course, we all know it's just about the money...

Friday, March 6, 2009

Copy existing SQL Table structure into a new empty table..? Easy...

Here's the SQL Server thing: I want to copy an existing table's structure, but not the data.

Here's thefix:
FROM ExistingTable
where 0=1

... which will do exactly that! Nice. Thanks to Josh for that.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

SQL won't import from Excel? Truncation error? It's rubbish, that's what it is...

It sounds like the JET/Access driver is looking at a sample of the data in your spreadsheet and making an assumption on the data types from that. Because there are likely no rows with data > 256 chars (say) in the first x rows, it’s reading it as char(256). –i.e. It’s inferring data type and length from a sample of your source data, it’s not looking at the destination at this point.
In order to work around this then try the TypeGuessRows registry key as detailed in - which allows you to tweak the sample set the driver uses in trying to determine the data type/length. Setting it to zero is a broad brush, but it's an instant fix.
If that doesn’t work, then export from excel to CSV and use a SCHEMA.ini file to tell the Text driver explicitly what the data types/lengths are (see
A useful resource for this sort of stuff is, see the pages on Excel and text file connection strings/settings.
(Apologies to Dunc for publishing the fix as my own (ah, if only))

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Almost 39 years on, and the words of Bertand Russell continue to ring true...

The tragedy of the people of Palestine is that their country was "given" by a foreign power to another people for the creation of a new state. The result was that many hundreds of thousands of innocent people were made permanently homeless. With every new conflict their numbers increased. How much longer is the world willing to endure this spectacle of wanton cruelty? It is abundantly clear that the refugees have every right to the homeland from which they were driven, and the denial of this right is at the heart of the continuing conflict. No people anywhere in the world would accept being expelled en masse from their own country; how can anyone require the people of Palestine to accept a punishment which nobody else would tolerate? A permanent just settlement of the refugees in their homeland is an essential ingredient of any genuine settlement in the Middle East. We are frequently told that we must sympathise with Israel because of the suffering of the Jews in Europe at the hands of the Nazis. [...] What Israel is doing today cannot be condoned, and to invoke the horrors of the past to justify those of the present is gross hypocrisy.
Bertrand Russell, 31 January 1970