Monthly Archives: September 2006

After the storm

The end of September has arrived and with it a huge cloud of fresh-faced, excited, youthful, happy, optimistic, bastard students. The air is full of hormones and the neverending sound of joyful laughter – I can’t stand it.

On Sunday, while I was in the laundry, I heard a young couple chatting. I doubt they even liked each other but the fearful, nervous, excitement resulted in them both laughing at whatever the other one said in an almost maniacal way; no matter what the topic of conversation.
“It’s like some sort of erm…shop or something here isn’t it ?”
“Let’s go over there!”
“HAHAHHHAHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHAHAA! OK Yeah! Hey we could go in the garden!”

I like it all really – it’s just a bit of a reminder that another year has passed and we’re still in this poxy “temporary” flat…nice though it is in reality.

Work has slowly been building up towards a crescendo of stress. Today was another boss day where the bubble bursts…only to refill for a bigger bubble next week.

But at this time of night, listening to some crap music, and writing my blog whilst Michele and Humphrey sleep soundly in the next room, it all seems really mellow.

Marketing Psychosis

Unlike a bank, we give you free money and sex!In celebration of passing the 500 mark on this blog I went to Lewisham hospital this morning for a couple of biopsies – almost certainly nothing serious, I think the guy was more curious than anything else. Lewisham Hospital, or rather “Lewisham University Hospital Trust”, has, like every other former public body, succumbed to Marketing Psychosis; a curious disease that renders the sufferer incapable of distinguishing between reality and a TV advert. Throughout the clean and polished reception area are 5ft glossy banners, each depicting a loyal member of staff or a grateful patient, together with the caption “Choose Lewisham”…in one of those dreadfully tacky handwritingy typefaces.
Nobody chooses Lewisham Hospital do they ? Surely it depends where you collapse, get knocked-down, get stabbed, or where your GP sends you doesn’t it ? Maybe not! Next time I’m in need of hospitalisation, no matter where in the world I am, I’ll make sure to tell the paramedic that I “Choose Lewisham”. Perhaps they should introduce a loyalty card, that they can put little red stamps on every time you get wounded or referred there. They could have a little catalogue of products you can exchange your Lewisham points for, from Witch Hazel to an electric wheelchair.
nude lady waving 20 pound notes
Two injections and a few stitches later I was on the 136 heading back home. It seems that not just the hospital, but the whole of Lewisham has Marketing Psychosis – very contagious obviously. Barclays bank have given over their entire front window to a huge blue arrow and the words “The coolest people in the world walk through our doors”. And it would seem that it’s not the only example of grip-loss going on at Barclays. Maybe we should try and section the bank manager there ?
But the Pièce de résistance was adorning front of the, recently closed down, “Money Shop”. Closed down because it is relocating to larger premises – at least someone is benefitting from the poor and desperate in Lewisham. “The Money Shop” which is where you go to cash your magic cheques, even if you have no money in your bank account (for a ludicrously high fee, natch) is genuinely advertising itself using pictures of naked woman, waving fans of £20 notes at you! Look! Naked ladies! Free money! Come in! MONEY! NUDE LADIES! You couldn’t make it up….etc ad nausiam…

BTW – I wrote a huge and depressing chunk about aging and decrepitude, but I took it out – you don’t deserve to sit through that.

Belkin ? Bellend more like…

Despite my initial enthusiam for my last Belkin ADSL router the excitement soon turned sour and over the past year I’ve expended too much energy in swearing at it, resetting it and returning it to the shop.

So yesterday I decided to treat myself to a new router and got a web-price on a Linksys WAG54GS because:

  • I quite like linksys kit
  • Linksys is now owned by Cisco
  • It supposedly runs Linux which would make me feel a lot more comfortable about its reliability

It’s small, simple, worked perfectly out of the box, the firmware is GPL and freely available(!), and best of all it can even give you a shell!
To enable the shell you just go to http://192.168.x.y/setup.cgi?todo=debug
and then you can telnet in and get dumped into a nice busybox root shell.

It’s Linux! It’s got a nice file system, /proc full of fun stuff and the firewalling is iptables! Now, to most people this is not going to matter or be of the slightest interest, but to me this is not only essential – if I don’t have the source I don’t trust the software – but it makes me worryingly excited. If the web front end doesn’t do what you want, you can do it yourself!

As the kids say, “W00t!”

They really need different packaging for different target audiences. The package it came in is covered in pointless logos and vague marketing language like “SPEEDBOOSTER(tm)”, “125 Signal Rate”, “35% FASTER” which is clearly aimed at the regular dullard gamer kids who see bigger numbers as better. They need a separate package for geeks that is just plain white with a list of specs and a “runs Linux” banner. And then for the vast majority terrified home users who know nothing and just want to get on the net, a nice picture of Rolf Harris stroking a recuperating kitten.

Barbed Comment

Irwin, Yoda and Obi Wan KenobiNot since the death of the Di has there been such a huge global reaction as that to news of Steve Irwin’s stingray encounter. OK, no public flower madness and the TV schedule hasn’t been buggered up quite as much but for the last couple of days, every time I meet someone, the conversation invariably starts with “did you hear about Steve Irwin”, followed by a few “crikey” jokes.
But what really drove it home to me was the Internet reaction. My favourite way of wasting time is looking at the latest 30 pictures uploaded to Livejournal as, apart from anything else, it is a great weather vane of viral content. On the day Irwin died, each reload produced multiple pictures of him, either in one of his classic “Crikey” poses or photoshopped in some way: people are really quick off the mark with that stuff. By the mid morning (UK time) there were even animated GIFs of him with a stingray… Clearly he was a global phenomonen – possibly more than he knew. Funny old world; the constant news of massacres in the middle east seems like background noise to most people, but when an Australian, who spends his entire life taunting the most dangerous animals on the planet, gets killed by a dangerous animal, everybody’s interested.

For more stinging barbs, why not watch this rather excellent 5 minute rant from George Carlin on who really controls America. Bill Hicks would be proud.

New Democracy

From the excellent Spy Blog:

You might think that being arrested under the “thought crime” Terrorism Act 2000 section 58 Collection of information, and being held in Belmarsh prison for 9 months, until you face trial, is a bad enough ordeal.

What then, if you are found not guilty on all charges and are released, only to have a Control Order under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 slapped on you instead ?

Legalised Corruption: Part 1

Well done Thames Water! A rise in profits to


whilst pouring

894,000,000 litres

of water into the ground through leaky pipes every year. This calls for a celebration, and so they’ve decided to reward their work force by

sacking 25%

of them.

Normally, if you take public money and put it in your pocket, that’s called corruption. However, by simply calling it “privatisiation” and writing the cash you’ve stolen in an account ledger, not only are you perfectly legal but admired by all – especially by the little bastards in the government who want a slice of the cake when they “retire” from politics.