Spring Cleaning

I spent a lot of the weekend clearing piles of old crap out of my study. I can’t remember the last time I gave it a good clean, but it was nice to be reminded of the colour of the carpet and to be reassured that there is still a wooden desk underneath the layers of paperwork.

One decision that I took was that I was going to throw away all of the old 3.5″ disks that I found. It’s been years since I used a floppy disk and I can’t see me needing them in the foreseeable future. The last time I bought a desktop computer it didn’t even come with a floppy disk drive as standard. That was an added extra. I gave it one last workout on Saturday though as I checked about fifty disks to see if they contained anything that I wanted to keep. The only useful thing I found (I say “useful”, but that’s probably an exaggeration) was a set of eight disks that contained a set of Disney graphics that I must have acquired somehow when I worked for their home video group.

I also found a number of disks that were labelled with various DOS version numbers and a complete set of Visual Basic Professional 4.0 which came on about ten disks. It gave me great pleasure to dispose of those. The only disks that I didn’t throw out were a copy of the original version of Doom (I remember three of us at Disney clubbing together to buy that) and the boxed set of The Lost Treasures of Infocom. This was partly just because of nostalgia, but also because in both cases the most important part of the game is a data file and there are interpreters for reading those data files available for many computing platforms. It appeals to me that I just need to hunt down a Z-Machine implementation and I’ll be able to play The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy on my Linux system.

I found one other set of software that I haven’t yet thrown away. I had largely forgotten about it, but in the second half of the 90s I wasn’t as committed to open source software as I now am and I spent quite a lot of money on Microsoft software. I found a big stack of installation CDs for things like Encarta, Cinemania and Money. I remember being very impressed by Encarta and Cinemania when they were released – I spent hours watching tiny jumpy clips from films when I first got hold of Cinemania. Of course the presence of things like Wikipedia and IMDB makes them a bit pointless these days. I have no idea if these 1990s products even run on modern versions of Windows, but I can’t help wondering if there’s a market in secondhand versions of this software. Let me know if you’re interested in hearing more about exactly which products I’ve got.


I’d never heard of “tombstoning” until yesterday. Apparently it’s an “extreme sport” and involves diving off rocks and cliffs into the sea. Sounds bloody stupid to me.

It seems that it’s also something of a craze in the town where I grew up.

A middle-aged man drowned and another was seriously injured when they jumped into the sea off a pier in Essex, in a stunt known as “tombstoning”.

The two men – both believed to be in their 40s – were found face-down in the sea by lifeboat crews after jumping off a pier at Clacton, Essex, on Saturday.

Man dies after ‘tombstoning’ jump

Natural selection in action.

Update: More details on the story. It seems that the man who died was a former soldier who had moved to Clacton to escape his drink problem. Not sure that was the brightest of moves. As long as I can remember, there’s always been a big drinking culture in Clacton.

Back Garden Fence

This isn’t really what you want to see first thing in the morning.

When I went to bed last night, this was a rather pretty tree stump and a garden fence that didn’t have a large hole burnt in it.

We’re trying to find out what happened. And trying not to think about what would have happened if the rain hadn’t have put the fire out.

Update:More details emerging and it’s not pretty.

We had a friend staying the night. He was out in the back garden having a cigarette after we had gone to bed. It looks like he didn’t stub it out properly. I’m not sure when this was.

At about 1:30 this morning, people were walking past our house and saw a raging inferno. They woke our neighbours who assumed it was started by vandals. Our neighbour got out his fire extinguisher, but the fire was too strong so they called out the fire brigade who put the fire out.

So it wasn’t a small blaze that was put out by the rain as we previously assumed. We were very nearly the people who burnt the whole street down.

And somehow we managed to sleep through it all.

The Day The World Turned Day-Glo

2012 Logo
2012 Logo

The new London 2012 Olympics logo looks like a car-crash. Which is, I suppose, somewhat appropriate. I can only assume that this was done deliberately to make the 2012 Olympics a laughing stock.

Hopefully someone from the IOC will see the logo, realise that we’re not taking this at all seriously and let some other city host the games instead of London.

Update: The BBC have published some alternative logos that have been sent in by readers. Can I just say that Sean Stayte (logo number 5) is a very naughty man. And that the editor who published that picture is either very naive or else has a keen grasp of internet memes.

Update: The dubious logo has been removed from that page. But the direct link still works.

Oh The Irony

From a recent BBC Have Your Say (as pointed out by spEak You’re bRanes).

don`t blame buisineeses for exploiting the cheap labour if the imigrants can`t be bothered to learn english they have pnly themselves to blame ,in any country if you want to succeed then the first rule is to learn their langusge, every one will exploit weekness weather in work or play ev eryone aim is to win sometimes by any means

[happyfrisk], northampton, United Kingdom

So, are we clear now? If you don’t bother to learn English then people will exploit you.

Actually, on re-reading it, I’m starting to wonder if it’s deliberate.

Relative Values

Of course, it’s terrible that Madeleine McCann remains missing over a week after she disappeared. And we’d all like to see her returned to her family as soon as possible.

But let’s not forget that Alan Johnston is also still missing. And he’s been missing a lot longer than Madeleine. For some reason you don’t hear about celebrities offering huge rewards for information on his whereabouts. Perhaps that only happens for photogenic children.

It was Maddy’s birthday yesterday. She was four. So today’s tabloids have photos of her all over their front pages. It’ll be Alan’s birthday on Thursday. He’ll be forty-five. Who wants to bet that any of Friday’s tabloids will all have him on the front page?

I’m not saying that people shouldn’t be doing all they can to find Maddy. I’m just saying that perhaps certain newpaper editors are letting emotions cloud their judgement.

Update: Oh look. I’m not the only person who thinks along these lines. I should read my Bloglines feeds before composing blog entries.

Ticket Touts

Like most of you, I despise ticket touts. I will never buy tickets from them or sell tickets to them. Today, the BBC has an interview with a 15 year old who has been making money by touting tickets on eBay. This is what he has to say for himself.

I’m 15 and I’m at school at the moment, so ticket touting seems to be the only way I can make a good income.

Can you see the flaw in his argument? He says that ticket touting is the only way he can make a good income. There seems to be a bit missing from that sentence. The bit where he says “… without actually getting off my arse and doing some work”. He seems to think that his laziness justifies ripping people off.

You can think it’s taking away the chance for genuine fans to get their tickets, but I’ve got to make my money and it’s better than being like most kids and going out causing trouble on the streets.

He’s got to make him money obviously. And he believes that this justifies ripping people off. It doesn’t of course. He’s just lazy. Youth of today… don’t know they’re born… in my day… spare the birch… conscription…

Oh look. I’ve come over all curmudgeonly. I’ll be writing letters to the editor next.

The Hole In The Wall

Two or three years ago we got some damp in the wall behind the desk in my study. It seemed to go away for a while and we learned to live with the dodgy looking patch where the wallpaper and some of the plaster had come away.

Over this long weekend, I decided that I was going to have a go at bringing some order to the chaos that is my study and part of that was going to be cleaning off the loose plaster and filling the holes with polyfiller.

That was the plan.

I moved everything away from the wall and started prodding gently at it to get rid of the loose plaster. But there was a lot more loose plaster than I expected. And I mean a lot more. And in about half an hour I was left with a couple of square metres of wall that had no plaster left at all. It was down to the bare brick. Which wasn’t good.

I’ve never plastered before. But it looks like I’ll be getting a crash course over the next few days.