Monthly Archives: January 2005

Bloglines Online Newsfeed Love Action

I’ve become quite a fan of the online newsfeed tool Bloglines. As the name suggests, it collates together newsfeeds, blogs, and other RSS-syndicated content into one handy page, with no need to install anything. In fact all that’s required is to register, subscribe to some feeds, and pop back each day (or whenever) to see what’s new. And because it’s all web-based, you can do it from wherever you are, home, work, wherever.

As a taster, here is my blogroll, that is, the sites I’ve subscribed to. A long and varied bunch. You should note that not all of them update regularly, especially ‘Exhibit B’, whatever the hell that is…*

But just in case I do start pulling my socks up, you can subscribe to this site on your Bloglines account by clicking here.

And if you already have a newsreader, and you’d like the RSS-compatible feed, here you are. Enjoy!

*[edit: ‘Exhibit B’ was the old name for this site, but no longer. See here for an explanation of the name]

Gotta Watch ‘Em All!

We’ve been getting movies through online DVD rental gaff Lovefilm. Not a good start – our letterbox is so small a lazy postman can’t get a DVD in a slipcase through. Luckily, Downstairs Ted (for it is he) intercepted and dropped it by. Our first rental was 2010.

Now I know what you’re thinking, but while we’re getting all these movies, why not get ones that you have a tiny desire to see again, if only for the phrase, “My God, it’s full of stars!”.

Anyway, I didn’t mean for it to be sent first. It ended up at #20 in our rental queue. But it was sent first, which either meant that they didn’t have copies of Kill Bill Vol. 2, Election, Spirited Away, or Contamination, or more likely that I clicked on it first, and straight away they sent it to me. Admirable in a way. Since then we’ve had no trouble. Movie after movie after movie… never a break!

As for the letterbox problem, we need a new front door anyway – a more burglar-proof one. We’re going for the monolithic 10 Downing Street style, and it will have a sodding great letterbox. No more trips to the P.O. Depot for us, queuing next to the fish market on a Saturday morning. Yum.

And now on BBC Radio Four, the shipping forecast…

Trying vainly to get to sleep wouldn’t be the same without the strains of ‘Sailing By‘ at 00:45 on UK BBC Radio 4, followed by the Shipping Forecast. This string of numbers and names is sometimes soporific, sometimes annoying, and sometimes, it manages to be quite evocative.

ukship3

Click below to see more information (or a vaguely related link) about each area. All links open in a new window.

Viking, North Utsire, South Utsire, Forties, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne, Dogger, Fisher, German Bight, Humber, Thames, Dover, Wight, Portland, Plymouth, Biscay, Trafalgar, FitzRoy, Sole, Lundy, Fastnet, Irish Sea, Shannon, Rockall, Malin, Hebrides, Bailey, Fair Isle, Faeroes, Southeast Iceland

Some other sites concerned with the map…

You Will Feel The Need To Vomit

OK, so the possibility of nuclear destruction our friend the atom, slow or fast, is bad enough, but how about the possibility of sonic destruction?

Hawkwind discussed it in their chilling classic, Sonic Attack. Well, I say ‘discussed’, I actually mean recited a tract of Moorcock apocalyptic barminess over a backing of overdriven synth noodlings and feedback. Effective in headphones, while lying on the floor in the dark, brain stewing in acid, or so I’m told…

The US military have long had an interest in so-called ‘non-lethal’ acoustic weapons. But some people believe other research looked into, shall we say, non-non-lethal applications. But they’re just nutters and crackpots surely?

Perhaps not. During that wellspring of negative creativity, The Cold War, accidental discoveries were made which brought the possibility of a functional, and truly terrifying, sonic weapon into range. French scientist Vladimir Gavreau’s experiments nearly killed him and his fellow researchers, the ‘infrasound’ of about 7Hz produced by their apparatus coming close to destroying their bodies from within.

As well as the physiological effects of unusual sound, the psychological effects should not be ignored. I used to share a house with a couple of girls when I was at college. Sound good? It wasn’t. One of them had the CD single of ‘Dreams’ by eye-hiding cod-soul warbler Gabrielle. It was the only CD she owned, and she set it to repeat. And repeat. In those weeks, I knew how Manuel Noriega felt.

And finally, what about the subconcious? What about the sentient? What about a sound, or a piece of music, that wants to live? That wants to propagate itself, through whatever channels it can, before becoming the only sound in existence? Impossible, you say. Nonsense, you sneer. Well, laugh now, because The Human League’s The Black Hit Of Space is waiting in your record collection…

“I knew I had to escape. But every time I tried to flee, the record was in front of me.”

Thanks Guys

Poland has just saved the EU from a major public policy debacle.
Sign the Thank You letter below!

Thank you, Poland!

Thank you, Poland!

Secession Or Expulsion?

I mean, OK, I’m not a political blogger, and I don’t want to be. There’s plenty of other people to do that. But I just have to share this. With the 2004 US Presidential Election result making me dig out my copy of ‘Protect and Survive’, I just want to share this, because it makes the situation over there very clear.

BUSH USA is predominantly white; devoutly Christian (mostly Protestant); openly, vigorously heterosexual; an open land of single-family homes and ranches; economically sound (except for a few farms), but not drunk with cyberworld business development, and mainly English-speaking, with a predilection for respectfully uttering “yes, ma’am” and “yes, sir.”

GORE/KERRY USA is ethnically diverse; multi-religious, irreligious or nastily antireligious; more sexually liberated (if not in actual practice, certainly in attitude); awash with condo canyons and other high-end real estate bordered by sprawling, squalid public housing or neglected private homes, decidedly short of middle-class neighborhoods; both high tech and oddly primitive in its commerce; very artsy, and Babelesque, with abnormally loud speakers.

See? It’s all so simple.

from here via here

Creating Gantt Charts in Microsoft Excel – Part 1: The Basics

Here’s a handy trick. If you need to create a simple Gantt chart to illustrate a point, and you don’t have Microsoft Project or similar software, you can create Gantt charts that are attractive and easily updated in Microsoft Excel. For an example, check out
the official website of Carlton Dramatic Society, which I run ran for several years.

Here’s how. The key points are using a Stacked Bar Chart to represent the data, and tricking the chart into showing the correct scale. This tutorial uses Excel 2000.

  1. Start a new workbook in Excel. In a blank sheet, enter your task data in 3 columns; Task Name, Start Date, and Duration in Days. See Table 1 below for an example.
  2. Select all the entered data, and select Insert>Chart. Select the Stacked Bar Chart type, and click Next.
  3. Ensure the Series are selected to come from Columns, then click the Series tab.
  4. There should be 2 data series, with the following attributes;
    Start Date: Name=$B$1, Values=$B$2:$B$4,
    Duration in Days: Name=$C$1, Values=$C$2:$C$4
    The X Axis labels should be: $A$2:$A$4. If this is all OK, click Next.
  5. Now we set up various options. On the Titles tab, you can enter captions for the Title and axes. Switch off the Legend. Click Next.
  6. Select where you want the chart to appear, and click Finish. Your chart should appear. Now for some tweaking.
  7. Click on the vertical axis (X axis in this case). Right-click and select Format Axis. On the Scale tab, tick ‘Categories in reverse order’ and click OK. This makes the Tasks appear in order.
  8. Now here’s a clever bit. Right-click on the horizontal (Y) axis, and select Format Axis. On the Scale tab, in the Minimum box, enter your project start date (it will recognize the format). Try and make it a Monday. Leave all the others Automatic – it should work OK. Click OK.
  9. Double-click on the left-hand part of one of the bars. This will open the Format Data Series dialogue for the ‘Start Date’ series. Give the bar ‘Fill=None’, and a dotted border (or no border). Click OK.
  10. You should now have something that looks like Figure 1 below.

This is a simple Gantt chart, and the beauty is, you can alter your dates and Task names, and see the changes in the chart straight away. When adding tasks, just make sure you change the data series ranges.

Table of example data below.

A B C
1 Start Date Duration in Days
2 Task 1 07/01/05 3
3 Task 2 10/01/05 23
4 Task 3 14/01/05 4

Figure 1: Example Gantt Chart
gantt_example_fig1

My Bloglines Blogroll

10 x 10 PHP – the news in pictures

10×10

Our Friend The Atom

This place is not a place of honor.

No highly esteemed deed is commemorated here.

Nothing valued is here.

This place is a message and part of a system of messages.

Pay attention to it!

Sending this message was important to us.

We considered ourselves to be a powerful culture.

I grew up in a time when ghost stories around the campfire had been replaced by stories of how, “right, if you’re in the bath when the bombs drop, the water will boil around you and your eyes will melt before you die, my brother told me”.

I guess that’s why I’m fascinated by this stuff now. Plus another 4 years of that idiot Bush, thanks to hordes of God-fearing Christians preferring Armageddon to (gasp!) liberalism.

Nuclear research gave us some wonderful problems, and there were some amazing suggestions for solutions. How do you discourage people 10,000 years in the future from digging up your waste dump? Here’s how.

Why limit nuclear weapons to a simple explosion? Why not have an autonomous nuclear-powered missile fly back and forth 1000ft over your enemy at Mach 3, dropping nuclear bombs, trailing radioactive exhaust dust, destroying buildings with it’s sonic booms and finally crashing into them? That’s what I call an efficient use of materials.

[edit: see also here]

But how do you protect the public from all this? Easy. Tell them to hide under the table.

Fat lot of good that would do.

Happy New Year!