Monthly Archives: February 2010


According to the “News”, we should all be approaching revolution by now, as the worst snow storm ever recorded plunges us all into dark misery. It has been snowing all day, but none has settled (even on the massive piles of snow which remain from the last storm). We even had to work at home today to avoid the return of snowmageddon and all day got to watch the perpetual snow, and its perpetual inability to do any more damage than very light summer rain.

So I’ve been working at home, which is the same as working in the office except that I get to have a bird on my shoulder, watch The Sweeney, and end up working later than normal. We also got a short lie-in, and a moment of panic when we discovered our cable and Internet were cut off. This only took an hour to resolve tho and, despite that, I still think Comcast are an enormous set of bastards…sorry Matt.

A good friend gave me a copy of A People’s History of the United States: 1492 to Present, which is a really good guide for helping people who live in North America to feel guilty, ashamed and angry; it certainly has that effect on me anyway. Obviously the people who should read it, won’t. But the more depressing it is to read the history of genocide, enslavement, and torture of native Americans, Africans and the poor of any colour, the more difficult it becomes to feel like progress hasn’t been made over the last few hundred years. The general feelings of despair, disappointment, and anger I feel normally when listening to the “News”, especially when it describes what all of those deluded tards in the “teabag movement” are banging on about , seem a bit silly compared to the state of the U.S. in the late 17th century. There used to be a slave code, explaining how slaves (and “servants” AKA slaves) should be punished for trying to rebel. The “Puritans” considered the act of massacring entire villages of native-Americans as positively Godly. There was also cannibalism amongst the poor – another thing that doesn’t get mentioned too often in history textbooks.

Whatever Obama turns out to be, the fact he was elected is something I will forever remember as being one of the most wonderfully significant events in modern history. It reminded me that getting depressed and cynical doesn’t help – we have to try to change things! For lazy bastards like myself, that’s difficult to acknowledge.

Philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point however is to change it

Karl Marx – Theses on Feuerbach.

Alternatively, just make sure you enjoy the nice times – not everyone is privileged to have such a luxury.

Quote from Dylan Thomas

It’s probably not a good sign when two concurrent blog posts consist of quotations, but my brain’s been heavily bogged down with the languages of C, PHP and Python recently, so the English has to be borrowed. This is from Dylan Thomas’ “The Doctor and the Devils” (a copy of which I picked up in the Sally Army for about ten bob). It reminds me of the currently amassing army of ignorance commonly referred to as the teabaggers.

To think, then, is to enter into a perilous country, colder of welcome than the polar wastes, darker than a Scottish Sunday, where the hand of the unthinker is always raised against you, where the wild animals, who go by such names as Envy, Hypocrisy, and Tradition, are notoriously carnivorous, and where the parasites rule.
To think is dangerous. The majority of men have found it easier to writhe their way into the parasitical bureaucracy, or to droop into the slack ranks if the ruled. I beg you all to devote your lives to danger; I pledge you to adventure; I command you to experiment.

Net oddity

Something queer is afoot and it’s making me nervous.
[This is a geeky post – you have been warned]
Unfortunately, for legal reasons, it can’t be discussed frankly, or in great depth in public, but hopefully you’ll get the idea.

There exist private, free to use, on-line services owned, run, and patronised by enthusiasts. They’re not pornographic or unsavoury in any way, but there are some who consider it illegal. These people are wrong, but they have friends in high places.

Recently one of these services has started to receive reports from its patrons claiming that it was broken. For the owners of the service, everything seemed to work fine, but a large enough subsection of their clients have been complaining, and they’ve started to take it seriously. The initial analysis revealed it to be a “routing problem” rather than anything to do with their software.

As you can probably guess, I’m one of the afflicted. Today I joined the IRC chat and left shortly afterwards. It’s difficult to explain why, and I’m not going to bother trying. But one good thing did happen: another irritated user contacted me privately and we shared our collective information. He or she (who knows or cares) had already been though the same exploratory processes I had intended to pursue, and had discovered a workaround. I tried his/her trick and it worked! We got chatting and established the cause of the problem and then speculated as to who were responsible. In doing so, we became aware that we were both on the same wavelength, and swapped a few subtle hints as to how we could be contacted in the future. Then, after a bunch of bitching about the admins of the “on-line service” we were trying to use, we went off to continue our research.

Here are the end-of-day results:

  1. This is not a “routing issue” or a problem with a network, it’s deliberate.
  2. The on-line service is being targeted by either an ISP, or a law enforcement agency that has power over ISPs.
  3. It’s not a DDOS attack – some fool even suggested that “4-chan were responsible”…
  4. The site realised that they were being nobbled by an ISP and so switched a bunch of IP addresses as “a workaround”; obviously they weren’t concerned enough to wonder about the identity of the agency responsible. I would be!
  5. Me and my new colleague managed to work out a better way to avoid the issues, but decided to keep schtum about it – the little powermongers who run the service are quite incapable of accepting suggestions from underlings.

Get crypting people.


Snow PigeonWe’ve had a few flakes of snow drop around here recently. Giving you an idea of how much snow we’ve had is extremely difficult to convey; after the last 30″s on Saturday I’ve given up trying to remember how much we’ve had in total. And then last night, just as we’d managed to dig ourselves out enough to lead fairly normal lives, it started snowing again. It’s still snowing. It will continue to snow until midnight.
It feels like we’re victims of a big, white, cold, siege.

One of the best things about being a computer programmer is that nowadays there’s almost no need to be physically in the office, so you can easily work from home. One of the worst things is that you easily can work from home, so even if you can’t leave the house because of the insane amount of snow, you can still work. Snow days are no longer holidays. But Michele is off, and so she managed to build a beautiful pigeon-shaped snowman^H^H^Hbird.

However, thanks to the hopelessly inadequate electricity supply to my office’s business park, we can no longer login to any of our office gear. Also, the chances of anyone being able to get into the office to fix things is very small considering that “they’ve taken the roads in” (as Mrs Doyle would say).

So we’re patiently sitting around in our warm cosy house, with a large supply of food, and awaiting the major power cut that will cause mass panic and civil disorder.

Still, it’s nice to know we have witnessed a record being broken. I just hope that we don’t end up witnessing any other records being broken.

My long lost brother

The feelings engendered by an intelligent person articulating a complex point of view that you agree with can be very powerful. For example, watching Stephen Fry articulate opinions that reflect my own, in a manner that I could never attempt to emulate, cheers me up. Obviously I’ve never met Mr Fry (even though my mother’s love for him clearly renders him my brother) but he is so righteous.

Thanks Mr F.