A Hard Day's Work

Spent the day applying paint to surfaces. Garage doors, garden fences, metal railings, next door neighbours children etc etc.

Actually we feel terrible about the last one. And it wasn't Megan's fault. Some idiot (i.e. me) left the lid of the paint tin in a very exposed postion. So while we were carefully telling her not to touch the nasty, just painted, railings, she was able to catch her coat on the tin lid. Her mum was very understanding, and apparently it has washed off. And we are going to give her an easter egg. So we hope it will sort itself out at the end.
Just what you want after a hard day at work.

So. Are you a panther?

Got an Orange brochure today. I pick these up as a way of keeping track of what is happening in the mobile phone business (Orange are a mobile phone provider in the UK) . Orange have changed the way they describe their service plans. In the old days they use to have "light user", "heavy user", "business user" and the like. But that was too simple. Now they have Dolphins, Raccoons, Canaries and Panthers. What tosh.

As far as I can remember, raccoons are those nasty furry things that raid your dustbins and bite you. And as for how a dolphin can even hold a mobile phone, let alone dial a number, that is completely beyond me.

The thing that really gets up my nose is the fact that a bunch of "creative" types will have been paid a huge sum of money to come up with this rubbish. I can imagine the meeting:

Creative Drone 1: "What about a stoat?"
Creative Drone 2: "How so?"
Creative Drone 1:" Doesn't use the text much, but enjoys rabbiting"
Creative Drone 2:"Probably not the image we are looking for"
Creative Drone 1:"Elephant?"
Creative Drone 2"Go on"
Creative Drone1:"Doesn't need a phone with a very large memory"
..and so on. All at five hundred pounds an hour.

As a little test, here is the description of the plan, all you have to do is tell me which animal it is:

"If you want no-nonsense basics and see your phone as a tool not a toy, **** is for you."

So, what is it?

No more big eyes

I've got my new proper working glasses now. They have replaced the "bug eyed" ones that I used to have to wear. I'm glad I've got rid of them, as they were scaring people who dropped by my office when I was in the middle of using the computer. The new ones look remarkably like my "proper" glasses, which means that I've taken to wearing them by mistake as I wander off down the corridor. It is only when I'm around 100 feet from my office that I realise that I can only see things that are exactly 18 inches away from my nose, and that everything else is a pleasantly coloured blur. I then have to navigate my way back crashing into walls and doors as I do so. Wonderful.

Actually, wearing more than one pair of glasses is actually quite useful. When you get asked a hard question by a student you can do something like:

Say "Well.....". Take off glasses thoughtfully, clean them, put them back in the case, take out other pair of glasses, clean them even more thoughtfully and carefully, put them on, stare intently at the computer screen for a few seconds and press a few keys. Tthen take off close up glases, put on normal glasses, turn to face student and continue "....that all depends."

Writers Block

In a vain (in both senses of the word - but not the medical one) attempt to promote my literary prowess I've started a new section of my new robmiles.com web presence dedicated to my writings. It presently just contains a full version of my seminal "The Little Brown Ikea Pencil of Doom" and a work in progress of Trip Hazard. If enough people comment on the stuff there I might write some more. Provided you say nice things.

Pub Nite Prius Capers

Pub nite tonight. A chance to sit around and solve the problems of the universe. And create a few new ones. I explained my scheme for messing with people's heads using a Toyota Prius. This is a car which has a drive mechanism which allows it to be powered by an electric motor and so move along virtually silently.

Now you know how when a car passes you at speed it goes EEEEEEAAAAAWWWWW as the doppler effect makes it first sound high pitched as it comes towards you and then low pitched as it whizzes away? Well, I want to mount a speaker on a silent Prius that goes WWWWWAAAAAEEEEE as it goes past. So to the person it is passing the car just seems to go AAAAAAAAAAAAAA. (are you getting this). I was kind of wondering if people would actually notice that the car sounds more like a flying saucer than a real car.

Ian and Pete were mildly taken with the concept once I had got the idea accross. But not so taken as to buy a Prius and try it. If any (or either) of my readers gets round to doing this I'd love to know the result.

Imogene Heap Quite Literally Rocks

If you are a serious student of my blog (and who isn't) you will have heard me go on about Imogene Heap. Lots. If you have not bought or downloaded her album "Speak for Yourself" then shame on you (but also your loss). Anyhoo, some time back I found that she was playing in York, just down the road. Tickets at only ten pounds a pop? Take the whole family. So I did.

We started the evening with a meal in Pizza Hut. Once we had found one that could be persuaded to serve us. The first one was too busy to let us in. The second one let us in grudgingly. They all seemed surprised by the number of people who wanted to eat tea at tea time. Perhaps they should advertise less. The good news is that they were recruiting new staff. The part we were in was the holding pen for applicants who were sat forlornly formulating a satisfactory response to the question "Why do you want to work at Pizza Hut?". Actually, we thought of one or two good answers. But none that would actually get us a job... The meal deal we had entitled us to a free trip to the "Ice Cream Factory"....


What can I say? I'm off chocolate for Lent. And no, I didn't actually manage to eat all this.

On the way to the venue the sky started doing interesting things:


I thought pictures like this were always faked. But this isn't. Honest.

And then in to the concert.


Like we will be needing those...

Just about everyone at the concert was a fraction of my age. And not a big fraction either. It kind of took me back to school disco days. Anyhoo, they were all fans too, from the way that they responded to the particular track announcements.

The evening kicked off with a set by Zoe Keating. I'd have loved to have heard her under slightly quieter circumstances. The noise of the people at the bar kind of got in the way of her cello playing, but what I did here was lovely. Another one to watch I think. Owing to being trapped on a sofa, I didn't actually managed to get a picture of her playing, but you can find out more here.

Then, at around 9:30, just as advertised, Imogene Heap took to the stage. By gum she was good. I've heard sets before where the singer doesn't have the "live voice" or the backing to sound right. She did. Stuff I've heard before and stuff I haven't sounded splendid.

In blue

In deep blue

In deeply trippy

In red.

Then it was off back down the A1079 (the most evil road in the known universe) and home to bed. Thanks for a great evening Ms. Heap. It was wonderful to hear such a good performer who seemed to be enjoying doing her stuff in front of a live audience. Here's to the next tour. We'll be there.

Telly History

The telly in the kitchen has failed. It sort of works, but the picture comes and goes, along with the sound, in a way that we are pretty sure is not how the program maker intended. Antiques Roadshow with strobe effects. I think not.

So it was off down to the big shops to get a replacement. Two things struck me. Glass tellys are now so passe. If you want to buy a cheap, glass, TV you are sent into a sort of ghetto area of the store. They put them next to the Video Cassette recorders. Nuff said.

The second thing that struck me was how cheap these things are. When I was a youngster a TV was a pretty substantial investment. Even my first little black and white portable, which allowed me to watch Nationwide and Tomorrows World in glorious greyscale, was such an expense that I had to take out a three month loan to pay for it.

Nowadays a little telly costs around the price of a video game, certainly less than some boxed sets of DVDs. Strange.

Anyhoo, we selected a cheap little number from a company I've not heard too many bad things about and toddled home to plug it in.

No Fun

I am now very old. So old that I can go on about the good old days. Summers were warmer. Beer was cheaper. The music was more tuneful. (or at least it had one). And April 1st was a fun day. The papers were full of stunts and spoofs. People put effort into being funny and there were some very good pranks. Nowadays there is nothing. I went through the paper and found very little of note. The funny bits were actually more boring than the real news. There was something close to an attempt at humour on the local radio, but it was more likely to start a riot than actually make anyone laugh. In fact the best stuff was nerdy coding stuff you can find here.

I'm wondering if the world is becomming a more serious place, or if I am losing my sense of humour. Perhaps in these strife ridden, energy strapped, over mortgaged, days there is just less to laugh at. I mean, apart from the wonderful Thin Ice and the new season of Green Wing there is pretty much nothing out there on telly.

Oh well, I think I'll listen to some Goons tapes...

Kicking out Andy, and other acts of rudeness

Kicked Andy out of my office today. Didn't quite shout, but I was quite brusque. There was no problem as such, except that if he had come another pace into the room he would have seen the three laptops that we were going to present him and the other Imagine Cup team members with later in the day. I'm not sure whether he would have put two and two together, but I kicked him out anyway. I felt rather bad about this at the time, but since he ended the day up a rather nice HP laptop I reckon that he will forgive me.

Then, at the quiz night somebody asked me for their grades for the programming work. I didn't actually mark that one, so I said that I couldn't help - perhaps more forcefully than I should have.

I must be careful when I feel a bit tired that I don't actually upset people any more than I do when I'm wide awake. It has been a somewhat exhausting week. Hopefully I will be back on fully polite form for Monday.

Marking Time

I've been marking again today. It is great fun to take a look at the kind of stuff that the students come up with. Sometimes the code is neat, other times it can be scary. Having said that, these are first year coders, some of whom have not programmed before - so getting the code to work is good enough for me at the moment. Style will come later.

Diners and Meetings

After the fun and frivolity of last night it was up with the lark so that we could be on the way to Doncaster at 6:45. Just to get to a meeting. The good news was that we rolled up at the diner for breakfast just as it was opening.


Then it was on to Doncaster where we had a good meeting (one were we actually sorted things out and made some plans) and then back to Hull.

This one is for you Rory, if you ever make it this far off the beaten track....