davegodfrey: South Park Me. (Default)
So I get back from a lovely holiday to Istanbul and Cappadoccia, with only a minor delay at the airport because my indefinite leave to remain is on a passport I've not seen in 10 years (although my parents do still have it), so of course I'm not on their computer system, and didn't think to take it with me. Fortunately the nice lady allowed me back in the country, but they're very good at making it sound like they're doing you a favour, and its all your fault for not leaving the country often enough, and its your fault for wanting to leave the country. I mean, how dare you have dual nationality, and not go abroad very often...

And I get home and the computer decides it can't find the network its plugged into, even if it will read emails. So a virus search and destroy later I decide to repair windows. Which of course leads to the next clusterfuck. Windows won't accept my activation code. The automated telephone  system doesn't work, none of the supposed work-arounds that relate to IE6 being a pile of crap don't work, nothing. I manage to get through to a technical support bod, who basically says your code has been used on too many computers so its probably counterfeit, report it. Which I'm pretty sure is bollocks because I'm looking at the disc and all the holograms seem absolutely fine. If its a copy, its a really effing good one, and besides I got it from one of the reputable shops in TCR. So I fill out the form anyway, but there's no way they'll send me a replacement disk, because I don't have a receipt for four year-old software.

I have often found that it pays to ask more than once, as the first person you talk to will often be completely wrong. Such as for instance the bizarreness with Natwest and Virgin Media a few years back. The second guy gets me to restart windows, makes no mention of the block on my code, and sees that it doesn't work, so he forwards it to a technical bod. Said technical bod does the logging into your computer thing that they do and finds that its the "System Builder OEM" version, for which he will charge £60 to do anything to. Stuff that I thinks, I can get a copy of Windows 7 for about that (oh, how wrong I was).

So a trip to Tottenham Court Road, where I discover that Micro Anvika have gone down the swanny, and no-one sells Windows 7 other than as the OEM system builder version- which, surprisingly enough I don't want to buy, in case I have the same problems X years down the line. PC World, despite listing it on their website don't sell it anymore. So I'll be picking up a copy in-store having bought it online. And its costs about twice what MS wanted to charge to fix bloody XP. Still, at least I've got something they'll still be supporting this time next year.

However, Nikon stopped supporting their film scanners back when Vista came out, and don't have a driver for 64-bit OS's, or indeed any version of Windows after Vista. Their proposed solution is to fork out another £80-£100 for third party software. Which is pretty bloody stupid really. Especially when it turns out that there's at least two free work-arounds that exist, one of which certainly means you can use their own software, and Epson are still supporting my flatbed that's about the same age.

Its almost enough to make me give up and run Linux. Except I'd almost always be getting it to pretend to be windows. Which rather defeats the object...
davegodfrey: South Park Me. (Default)
Is it me or are banks crap?

I mean really, really crap. And incompetent. Really incompetent. And somehow at the root of it, it all becomes your fault. This week my banking has turned into a complete farce. Sometime in November I registered for online banking, but as is the way with these things I never actually used it since then. I don't think I can even recall the passwords. (This is a long running problem I have with almost all computers). But anyhow, around this time I stopped receiving bank statements for this account.

Last week my card expired. I have not been sent a new one. I pop into Branch A, which is convenient for work. Money is withdrawn and they have a look at my account. There's some kind of block placed on the account, so that they won't send any post to the address I've given. They can't get anything sent to them (which would be convenient), but they can get the new card sent to Branch B, where my account is actually located, and I can pick it up "in two to five days".

Monday rolls around - four working days later - and off I go to visit Branch B (taking time out of work to do so I might add). The card is not there, and "it takes five to seven days to arrive". Fair enough, I think, so I leave my number so they can call me when it arrives.

Friday now, and still no card. So I phone the bank. Only I don't. I actually phone the support centre because I dial the wrong number, but they say they'll call the bank and pass on my message. I decide to try a different number, get the same people, and leave no message. Several hours later I've heard nothing, and as I'm going to need some cash for the weekend, and beyond try the branch number again- if they've got the card I'll get it. If not I'll go to the cashier up the road.

Its not the branch, its the call centre people. And I can't speak to the branch. However they give me the very useful information that "We don't send cards to branches for security reasons". Oh, because Branch A said they could only send it to Branch B? What's happened? It turns out that Branch B did indeed receive my card. But destroyed it because they don't send cards to branches for security reasons. So why did Branch A do this? "I don't know, which branch was this? We'll send them a note..."

The upshot of this is that I send them a letter confirming that I live in place X, and I'll get my card. In the post. To address X.

Revenge is a dish best served in letters from someone's boss.

I'll let you know how things go with the screws, but I think someone's pissed off with being ignored by their supplier....
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Oh cock.

Nov. 29th, 2009 06:15 pm
davegodfrey: South Park Me. (Default)
I've broken my nice Steampunk keyboard. :( Yesterday I finally got sick of the brown tape I'd wrapped around the cable and decided to replace it by threading it through a bootlace with the middle bit removed. This is a trick I've seen on several builds, and I rather like it. Unfortunately cutting it is easy. Reconnecting is not. I cut far too close to the board, and through various errors ended up removing part of the PCB with the soldering iron. Now I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure that's fatal.

Ho-hum I think, off to Maplin for a new £5 keyboard, swap the cables around, and this time I'll use glue and string, and not be so ambitious. Turns out they don't sell the keyboard any more. Cheapest one they have is £10, never mind, I'll get it and it'll be fine. It is of course too much to expect that I'll be able to reuse the original frame, but I have found a replacement. Unfortunately its actually worse to type on. The keys are really nasty and squishy, and even more inconveniently the squishy membrane bit is made of individual bits. I've already lost one opening up the back to take a look! And the long keys have these metal bits which probably help pring them back up, but after being cut down actually stop the key springing back!

Has someone seen the Steampunk genre and decided to make their products as awkward to mod as possible? Still the board itself is black, which at least cuts down on painting all the key-stems, and the plastic is a little flimsier, which means I can pull things apart with pliers, rather than dremelling everything.

Frankly the most annoying part of the whole thing is having to get a replacement lining for the key-trays. I'm out of the leatherette I got for next to nowt, and can't reuse it as the holes I've cut are the wrong shape and in the wrong place.
davegodfrey: Flying Spaghetti Monster : Touched by his noodly appendage (FSM)
Remember Michael Medved? The chap who thought that slavery "wasn't so bad" and that the Native Americans weren't the victims of genocide?

He's at it again folks. This time, America is awesome because of its DNA. According to Peter C. Whybrow "immigrants to the United States and their descendents seemed to possess a distinctive makeup of their “dopamine receptor system – the pathway in the brain that figures centrally in boldness and novelty seeking.”" John D. Gartner adds that the laissez-faire capitalism with minimal or ineffectual governmental controls "sustains the influence of immigrant genetics."

On its own this is stupid. It's a classic example of when evolutionary psychology runs away with itself and gets it completely wrong. I don't know exactly how a particular version of your dopamine receptors controls preferring to move to a different continent to dying of famine, but I'm fairly sure the psychiatrists (or does he mean psychologists?) don't either. But this is Medved. The stupid doesn't stop there.

"The idea of a distinctive, unifying, risk-taking American DNA might also help to explain our most persistent and painful racial divide – between the progeny of every immigrant nationality that chose to come here, and the one significant group that exercised no choice in making their journey to the U.S."

Now I wonder which group he's talking about here? But its not all doom and gloom. There have been 3 million immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean to help mitigate the effect of the descendants of all those unselected people. Dare I mention the problems involving Native Americans? And what of the issues facing the Hispanics? A good proportion of their ancestors came from Spain, so its not as if they should be lacking in the "immigrant gene".

Medved's point, when he finally gets to it in the last paragraph, is that imposing a European-style welfare state "not only contradicts our proudest political and economic traditions, but the new revelations about American DNA suggest that such ill-starred schemes may go against our very nature."

Yeah. Because society is genetic. The Inca's? Predisposed to ridiculous amounts of polygamy, human sacrifice, and not using the wheel.

ETA: (Hat tip to Pharyngula again. Some of the comments are worth reading too. (Cue lots of people [including Americans] pointing out that by this logic Canada, India and New Zealand shouldn't have welfare states, or the alternative hypothesis- America is full of cowards who didn't want to stay and sort out their problems so legged it.)
davegodfrey: Hello Cthulhu! (Cthulhu!)
Jerry O'Connell has a sense of humour, and clearly agrees with the rest of the world's opinion of Tom Cruise as a total bloody loony.

His video is here, and for background research this is Tom Cruise's seriously creepy original. Apparently when he drives past an accident "he knows he's the only one who can truly help". Does releasing your thetans automatically give you training in field medicine? When I sign up do you give me a free set of the jaws of life? Oh and Tom people are turning to you to laugh. They don't want advice.

I was amused. then I watched the video. Now I'm scared.

As a totally irrelevant aside Jerry O'Connell is married to Mystique. Lucky git. ;)
davegodfrey: Flying Spaghetti Monster : Touched by his noodly appendage (FSM)
Via [profile] maureenlycaon
Michael Medved. I've never heard of him until now. Frankly I wish I hadn't. He was a film critic. Now he blogs. Its nauseating. Sadlyno has an article on a recent entry, dissecting it far more eleoquently than I can. Basically Medved says that slavery wasn't that bad because:

1. SLAVERY WAS AN ANCIENT AND UNIVERSAL INSTITUTION, NOT A DISTINCTIVELY AMERICAN INNOVATION.

So the greeks did it. So what? And France and the UK had banned it on home soil before the founding of the US anyway.

2. SLAVERY EXISTED ONLY BRIEFLY, AND IN LIMITED LOCALES, IN THE HISTORY OF THE REPUBLIC – INVOLVING ONLY A TINY PERCENTAGE OF THE ANCESTORS OF TODAY’S AMERICANS.

In the history of the republic perhaps. In the history of the colonies? Rather longer I venture. And the majority of African-Americans have slaves as their ancestors. 

3. THOUGH BRUTAL, SLAVERY WASN’T GENOCIDAL: LIVE SLAVES WERE VALUABLE BUT DEAD CAPTIVES BROUGHT NO PROFIT.

Er? One of the commenters on SadlyNo points to this painting, "The Slave Ship" by JMW Turner. Says it all really. And as slaves were cargo the traders could claim on the insurance. Profitsss all  round.

"Perhaps the most horrifying aspect of these voyages involves the fact that no slave traders wanted to see this level of deadly suffering: they benefited only from delivering (and selling) live slaves, not from tossing corpses into the ocean."

WHAT?!!!!!????????!!!???!?!?!?! Did I just mention the insurance? Did you look at the pretty picture?

(Sadly No interrupts their blog for puppies. I suggest you look at Ugly Overload. They have cute centipedes.)

4. IT’S NOT TRUE THAT THE U.S. BECAME A WEALTHY NATION THROUGH THE ABUSE OF SLAVE LABOR: THE MOST PROSPEROUS STATES IN THE COUNTRY WERE THOSE THAT FIRST FREED THEIR SLAVES.

Actually the slave owning states were one of the most wealthy at the time beacuse of the Triangle Trade. And the ones that freed their slaves were industrialised. Places producing raw materials tend not to be massively wealthy anyway.

5. WHILE AMERICA DESERVES NO UNIQUE BLAME FOR THE EXISTENCE OF SLAVERY, THE UNITED STATES MERITS SPECIAL CREDIT FOR ITS RAPID ABOLITION.

Except that the US needed a civil war before slavery could be stopped, and the UK didn't, over 30 years earlier. Plenty of other places had banned slavery long before the US did it. (But at least they did it before Saudi Arabia in 1960! So that's all right then.)

6. THERE IS NO REASON TO BELIEVE THAT TODAY’S AFRICAN-AMERICANS WOULD BE BETTER OFF IF THEIR ANCESTORS HAD REMAINED BEHIND IN AFRICA. 

True. But their ancestors being transported would have. Slavery is wrong. Just because 200 years down the line your descendants have a walkman and nice shoes doesn't make it right here and now (or there and then.)

Then again it turns out the the man has form. After all the Native Americans weren't the victims of genocide.

Best of all Pharyngula notes that Medved is now a fellow of the Discovery Institute! Are they trying to discredit themselves? Its almost as if we don't need to bother any more.
davegodfrey: Marvin: ...and me with a terrible pain in all the diodes down my left hand side... (Marvin)

Ok so having had my bag nicked (cf last entry), I get a phone call from Duncan who has (quite understandably) panicked and signed himself into a bedsit for the next year. As he had two weeks to sort out a house for four from Birmingham I really can't blame him. And its not as if I could really help- I'm up to my eyes in dissertation tweaking. (Two weeks to go on that too! eek!).

I then pass this on to Fluff (he's on myspace rather than lj), and discover that he's not likely to be moving in to London until at least January at the earliest. (Again he's got perfectly valid reasons y'know like lack of funds and having a social life largely based round ex-school mates).

The upshot of this is that the Dartford escape committee is slightly buggered up. I really, really don't want to be in Dartford at Christmas. But I do want to live with Fluff, and I'd rather not shack up with a bunch of randoms.

To quote [livejournal.com profile] innerbrat   

     *flails wildly*

However.

I have just got back from the Goodwood Revival, where many photos were taken of old cars driving fast and being REALLY NOISY!!!

I saw a race with about eight Ford GT40s, and a Ferrari 250 (mmm 250...) Gerhard Berger was on a 1959 500cc motorbike, Sir Stirling Moss and Tiff Needell wizzing about in Ford Cortinas, racing Rowan Atkinson who got a BMW. Tony Jardine nearly beat a Mustang in a Mini Cooper in the same race!

And then they brought out the old cars... You know, from when the only way to get a decent amount of power was to stick a huge engine in a car- they had a 24 litre 1923 Napier-Bentley. And I think I fell in love with the little three wheeled Morgans.

And the Jaguar C-type that won LeMans in (iirc) 1953!

Must stop now, am rambling... Probably still high on fumes! :)

davegodfrey: South Park Me. (Default)
This happens...

Me- I got the batteries you wanted

Parentals- Oh thank you.

Me- That'll be £5. And your no claims bonus.

That's right folks. Some fucker nicked my bag from outside the pub. While there's about ten of us standing around.

In response to the meme... In my bag there included...

Stephen Jay Gould's last book of essays
Arch Enemy's "Anthems of Rebellion" -the ltd edition one with the audio DVD
Hammerfall's "Renegade"
Zyklon's "World ov Worms"

He who steals my bag gets the fright of their fucking life
davegodfrey: South Park Me. (Dave Godfrey)

So I fell asleep on the train coming home on friday.

 long journey home... )


And then I go to work the next day. Needless to say on Saturday I was exhausted. Ho-hum. Such is life.

IB. The thynge you wanted has been got.

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