jbanana: Badly drawn banana (Default)
I work in London. This means that I might be blown to pieces by a terrorist. It hasn't happened yet.

What can I do? The country is on a high terror alert, but I still go to work. As I came into the building, I was asked to show my security pass for the first time today. But I'm still more likely to be killed crossing the street.

I'm puzzled by terrorism. What do bombers hope to achieve? Everyone carries on as if nothing happened, but with extra security checks. Nothing changes. The IRA, the Nazis, religious fundamentalists - none of them have thought this through.

Anyway, if I get killed in an attack, please blow a big raspberry at whoever did it (profanities are optional, but satisfying) and carry on as normal. Play 20th Century Boy at my funeral, and no religion please.
jbanana: Badly drawn banana (Default)
I got fed up with the font rendering in Vivaldi (shame - nice browser, but stuffed by upstream changes to Chromium).

I used to use SeaMonkey a lot, so I tried that again, and found that I could fix most of its annoyances. The addons I needed were:
  • Adblock Plus

  • Dorando keyconfig (the only way I could find to add a second key that also opens a tab was: "BrowserOpenTab();")

  • Ghostery

  • Mouse Gestures Suite

  • "Shift+LeftClick opens links in a new active tab" (delightfully named)

  • Speed Start

  • Tab Clicking Options (had to hack this one to make it work with the latest SeaMonkey, but only to change the compatibility labelling!)

  • True Full Screen

  • Undo Close Tab Button

  • British English Dictionary

There are still a few things bothering me:
  • Can't put tabs at the bottom

  • Single key shortcuts (can't stop pressing 6 to reset the zoom!)

  • Side bar pops up whenever I search from the right-click menu Edit: in the side bar, you can switch off the search tab!

  • Tab tiling (but I can work round that easily enough)
jbanana: Badly drawn banana (Default)
I prefer web mail, but I'm currently forced to use Outlook, a bizarre and Byzantine behemoth* that frustrates me if I try anything beyond "write message" and "read message". Worst of all is the search, which often doesn't find things that are definitely there, and doesn't understand "quotes means phrase search".

But I found how to make it work: obscure words. I have a long-running email chain with the word "putative" in the subject, and Outlook finds those messages easily and quickly. So when you send a new message, get your thesaurus out.

*Apologies about annoying alliteration.

Schools

Jul. 16th, 2015 10:54 am
jbanana: Badly drawn banana (Default)
TL/DR: people's ideas of why private education is better are mistaken, and the world would be better if it were abolished.

https://mulqueeny.wordpress.com/2013/01/13/myth-busting-state-schools-vs-private-schools/
https://chrishildrew.wordpress.com/2013/01/13/the-universal-panacea-the-number-one-shift-in-uk-education-i-wish-to-see-in-my-lifetime/

I'm counting this as a rant, even though I haven't said anything about what I think.
jbanana: Badly drawn banana (Default)
I mentioned that I don't like Eclipse. There's more. Today I tried to run a test class: right click, "run as JUnit test". It said
Class not found [my test class]
java.lang.ClassNotFoundException: [my test class]
Er, you can't find the thing that I just clicked on. WTF?

Happily I found out how to run a single test with Maven:
mvn -Dtest=[my test class]#[my test method] test
jbanana: Badly drawn banana (Default)
Lots of things are hard with one arm.

I fell off my bike (yes, again), broke my left arm, and I've been in plaster for a fortnight. There's only a few things I really can't do at all - shoe laces and cuffs seem impossible, and driving and bike riding are off-limits - but everything else gets done. I even found how to butter toast today, although it's cheating a bit because it uses the little strength I can exert with the fingers of my left hand.

But everything takes so long, and my right arm gets tired out, and my left arm gets stiff from disuse, and my neck hurts from the sling. I apologise to people everywhere who only have one arm, but I can't wait to get back to two.

The only upside is I've been taking paracetamol and codeine at night, which makes me sleep really well.
jbanana: Badly drawn banana (Default)
On my current project we're using Eclipse. As with all IDEs, it lets you do some things quite easily, but makes other things painfully hard.

Today's frustration was word wrap. All text editors should let you wrap long lines. Even Notepad can do this. Eclipse can't. Googling tells me that I have to install a plugin. Only after lots more googling do I find that you use the Help menu for that. WTF?
jbanana: Badly drawn banana (Default)
I've been writing Java code for 15 years (scary!) but there are still things to learn. Today I discovered you can't switch on a long, only an int. This is significant in the code I'm fixing because a certain type code is a long and we wouldn't want to be limited to Integer.MAX_VALUE types (2,147,483,647 of them)...

...except the actual number of types is 3.
jbanana: Badly drawn banana (Default)
As I said before, most people's votes are almost completely pointless, but a minority get to choose who's in charge. In part 2, I have UK maps: The seats which could decide the next election

Books

Jan. 17th, 2014 04:30 pm
jbanana: Badly drawn banana (Default)
I finished (eventually) reading Foucault's Pendulum, and I can't really recommend it. There are any number of interesting things in it, but also a huge quantity of the most tedious padding. Or perhaps I missed something.

Anyway, some things in the book are just annoying. I could give you a spoiler alert, but that would imply that you might read it. You needn't bother.
  • The village visited by one character in his childhood is referred to as *** but the next village up the hill is named. Every time I saw the three stars, I started inventing names for fictional Italian villages.
  • The narrator could have tried to save his friend from death-by-pendulum by convincing people that their conspiracy theory is invented, but instead he just watches him get killed and philosophises about it. He doesn't even think of doing something but decide against it.
  • The book is heavily sceptical about the occult, but there's a scene with ectoplasm that left me wondering why (after about 600 pages) we were suddenly supposed to suspend disbelief.
  • We're supposed to know any amount of arcane stuff - what Cabala is (usually spelled Kabbalah - oh, that thing that made Madonna tie string round herself!), and in particular the sephirot (no, me neither) - but some other things are explained at length - the history of the Templars is much less obscure, I'd have said.
All of this (and more) nonplussed me. I was also confused by a review quote on the back cover that said it was funny. No it isn't, even slightly. I am still amused, however, by the fact that my only point of reference to an esoteric religious group is from celebrity culture. Perhaps I can find out more about Rosicrucians from ONTD...

I'm now reading Is It Just Me? by Miranda Hart, which is something of a contrast.
jbanana: Badly drawn banana (Default)
Warning: this post about swear words contains swear words.

Swearing doesn't bother me at all, but I'd rather not offend people who are bothered by it. My quest to be inoffensive is made harder by the changes that take place in what's considered taboo. My children don't think that "crap" is swearing, but "shit" is; when I was young these were pretty equivalent. The word "bitch" as changed from an insult into a word so unspeakable that my children won't say it even if they're reporting what someone else said.

It gets difficult when other people remove letters in some words to protect my delicate eyes. Today I was reading a blog post which reported someone saying "Those worthless w****s" and I have no idea what was said (please swear in the comments if you can enlighten me). And are the stars in "d***" really there to protect me from the word "damn", or have I misunderstood? In the context, it mattered.

I was once on a walk with some kids to a waterfall. I was trying to get to the front to take some photos of them coming toward me, and I came up behind some girls. One said "Where is this fucking waterfall?" Then she saw me and looked appalled that I'd heard. I just smiled at her and carried on. Eventually we arrived and sat on the grass. I went over to her and said quietly "There's the fucking waterfall."

The story is only amusing because children especially shouldn't swear. Is the special children's rule just because they don't know when swearing might offend someone?

I'm tempted to re-write this post with swearing in every fucking sentence.
jbanana: Badly drawn banana (Default)
I wrote that I tipping is stupid and then I didn't think much about it. Then I read Jay Porter's blog posts about tipping. He's a restaurateur, and he thought tipping was stupid, so he stopped customers from doing it. Everything got better, and less sexist, and less racist, less everything-else-ist.

I feel so validated...
jbanana: Badly drawn banana (Default)
I don't want to dislike people. I make an effort to excuse people's faults, and to look for the positive in them.

Some people, though, I just can't stand. And one of the worst things about this is that I start to notice how the horrible people are like me. I have the traits that I despise in them.

Now I have ordinary loathing that I feel bad about, coupled with self loathing.

Gah! Time to wipe, er, that person (!) from my mind.
jbanana: Badly drawn banana (Default)
I thought that I was alone in thinking this, but apparently not:

http://www.esquire.com/blogs/food-for-men/why-tipping-should-be-illegal-15603180

Highlight: several US states made tipping illegal in the early 20th century. They chickened out in the 20s.

As far as I can recall, I've never tipped a taxi driver. "Thanks for the over-priced ride. Here's some more money." I've never tipped a hotel porter. "Thanks for carrying my bags an insignificant distance, in spite of the fact that I'd rather do it myself. What? That's not included in the enormous price of staying here?" I've never tipped a barman because no one does that here, and when I was a barman I was never offered a tip (except for an occasional offer of a drink for myself).
...federal law allows tips to be used to make up the difference between a server's salary and minimum wage, meaning they can make as little as $2 to $3 per hour from their restaurant employer.
Wow! I don't think that's the case here, but it explains why US restaurant tips are commonly twice the size of UK tips. And if we all stopped tipping, restaurants would have to pay people properly.
jbanana: Badly drawn banana (Default)
Back in February I tried out Ubuntu. I didn't stick with it because I couldn't get the integration with our work Exchange server to work. Today was a quiet day, so I thought I'd try again. Hmm, what password did I use?

So, unless I have a sudden memory event, I'll be deleting that later. Ho hum.

The only reason that I tried it in the first place was Wubi, a Windows installer that Just Works. But I read that they've removed it in the latest release, so I'll probably never try Ubuntu again. This is sad. I find Windows annoying and frustrating, and although I'm familiar with its quirks, I'd like to use something that's less hassle. But installing, configuring and understanding Ubuntu involved too much time and effort. I want to use an operating system, not fiddle with one.
jbanana: Badly drawn banana (Default)
Singing in the shower this morning, Ziggy Stardust popped into my head. Wow, the words are stupid!
Screwed up eyes and screwed down hairdo
Like some cat from Japan
WTF?
jbanana: Badly drawn banana (Default)
Microwave ovens promise so much but deliver so little. My food is scalding hot in some parts and barely warm in others. I had to stand and wait for several periods of 30 seconds to see if it had warmed up - no, restart the microwave.

If I'd put the food in a conventional oven, I'd have done something else for fifteen or twenty minutes, and everything would be fine.

Late breaking news: that mouthful was COLD.
jbanana: Badly drawn banana (Default)
Yesterday I kept the appointment I made with Apple. This time I knew that I was supposed to see someone at the top of the stairs first. A nice French man confirmed my appointment, took me to sit down, and went away. Everyone had a tag round their neck with their name and the job title "Genius".

I noticed my Frenchman saying to a female colleague that he had shouldn't be working. But soon he came back, saw the problem, and said that I could have a replacement iPod. That's good. He went away again.

I waited. I listened in on some other customers' woes. I waited. I wondered how far away the stock room was. I got out a book to read.

Eventually I saw the female colleague and asked her what had happened - she said she'd find out where he was. She came back, apologised for the waiting, and asked me to show her the problem. No further mention of the Frenchman. Yes, I could have a replacement, and yes, they had some in red, and she got one immediately from behind a counter just a few yards away, and apologised some more, and there's an extra 90 days warranty.

Outside there was a tent. There's a new iPhone in a few days, and some people love that stuff, so I assumed that someone was queueing already, which turned out to be true, but they were being sponsored for queueing.

I doubt if I'll ever go to an Apple shop again unless I have to.
jbanana: Badly drawn banana (Default)
We have a Mac mini. It's been fine, but it's getting old, so I looked at the price of a new one. Their web site says "from $599", with is about £370 - not too bad. Eventually I find the UK price: "from £529" - WTF? What's the extra £159 for?

Also it's not quite a lot bigger so it won't fit the space where the current one goes, and doesn't have a DVD drive.

Sigh.
jbanana: Badly drawn banana (Default)
EC has an ipod. It's not working, so I went to the Apple shop in Covent Garden the other evening.

There is no signage, no shelving, and no checkout, but there are tables with computers, and some staff in blue t-shirts. All the staff are busy talking to people. One blue t-shirt man is talking on some kind of radio mike, but I stand next to him for long enough that he asks me (only slightly testily) if I need help. I explain, and he points me upstairs to "technical support". There is no such thing, but there is a "genius bar", where all the people in blue t-shirts are busy talking to people. Again, I stand next to someone until they can ignore me no longer. He says I should see the man in the baseball cap for an appointment. I wonder how I was supposed to know that, but I get in the queue to see cap man. Eventually cap man's side kick turns up to help deal with the lengthening queue, and he says that they have to close early tonight because mumble mumble. He offers an appointment at the weekend, or during the day, but eventually grasps that weekday evenings are good for me, and so I'm going back on Monday.

Sigh.
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