Friday, 29 February 2008

Weird touch pad behaviour

I took my Asus Eeepc into the Blenz to play with while I had my coffee. But I could not control the cursor with my touch pad. I think someone has found a way to hack into the wireless connection.

I thought at first it was simply interference from other users - but there was only one other that I could see and I talked to him very pleasantly and he was not touching his mouse while my cursor was "going crazy"

Anyone had a similar experience?

It is not a hardware issue: as soon as I got home, it was back to normal again.

Thursday, 28 February 2008

The true cost of war

Bush's Iraqi adventure will cost America - just America - a conservatively estimated $3 trillion. The rest of the world, including Britain, will probably account for about the same amount again
And of course the US administration has been deliberately lying about the amount it is actually spending. And has been for years. And will try to dismiss this new book.
The second criticism - which we admit - was that we only look at the costs, not the benefits. Now, we couldn't see any benefits. From our point of view we weren't sure what those were.


It was worth reading the whole thing. And then wondering why this sort of spending is seen as necessary when it could have paid for
8 million housing units, or 15 million public school teachers, or healthcare for 530 million children for a year, or scholarships to university for 43 million students. Three trillion could have fixed America's social security problem for half a century. America, says Stiglitz, is currently spending $5bn a year in Africa, and worrying about being outflanked by China there: "Five billion is roughly 10 days' fighting, so you get a new metric of thinking about everything."

Blogger endangers young mens' lives

Prince Harry has been secretly serving in Afghanistan with British troops since December, it emerged today.

The news of his operational posting leaked out following the breakdown of a news blackout agreement with the media when the story was posted on the US-based Drudge Report website.

Unbelievably Drudge seems to think it has done something praiseworthy - and so does Channel 4 News. They are both wrong. It is not important that there be general knowledge of the whereabouts of someone who is inevitably a prime target. I am not a monarchist. I also do not support the current mission in Afghanistan, and I wish that we could get our troops home soon, and out of harm's way. I do not think we can defeat the Taliban this way.

I do not support them either, but it is not up to us to dictate how the Afghans organise themselves. Any more than we would want them to tell us how to behave. And various invaders and imperialists have been trying to control this area for centuries with a singular lack of success.

Clearly, if the Taliban could kill or injure Cornet Harry Wales, that would be for them some kind of major media victory. All Drudge has done is play into their hands. I cannot think of a single reason why that is a matter for satisfaction anywhere on our side. He's back home now, which I am sure is a relief to the men who served alongside him also put at risk by this blogger's idiocy

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

European commission fines Microsoft record £680m

About $1.4bn


Today I was going try to put Ubuntu onto a flash card to see what it looks like on the notebook. I must really really hate Moicrosoft to put myself throug this. Have you seen the LiveUsbPendrivePersistent wiki page? Talk about a challenge

I found from the bottom of that page another way to do that looked easier. I strongly recommend using cut and paste to copy the commands into the terminal. I now have all I should on the pen drive - all except lilo which means it will not boot.

I wonder how long I will keep at this before I give up

I am 59 - bang!

b 27 Feb 1949

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Hey Dirty Old Men Need Love Too

Sex between man, 40, and girl, 15, ruled not criminal
He didn't have position of trust or authority over her, judge says
Robert Koopmans, Kamloops Daily News
Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2008
I think he is wrong. Of course, I did not sit through the trial and hear all the evidence. And no doubt the girl was very convincing - but then she would be, wouldn't she.

I have a nasty feeling too that old men - like judges - have a hard time remaining objective in cases like this, and I cannot help but wonder if the judge identified too closely with the accused. But I am also a father. And if I found out that my daughter had had a relationship with a man who had been her coach in any activity, I would be outraged too. And if his age were 19 or 49 I would be equally angry.

Authority maybe not, but trust absolutely. Would you let your teenaged daughter be put into a position like this with a man you could not trust? Was the trust of these parents abused - you betcha!

The precedent this decision sets is appalling. For many male coaches do have authority over young girls. They get to decide who bats first, who gets the ice time, who goes on the field trip, who goes on the overnight camp out.

I trust that this case will go to appeal

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Northern Voice

I have just spent two days at a conference on blogging - which means it must be about the most well documented event I have ever attended. Lots of live bloggers, loads of flickr photos. Quite overwhelming really. I have all kinds of follow up to do.

I was interviewed by Chris Heuer and that is now on Utterz

My EeePC attracted some attention but was by no means the only one there. Though I suspect I was the only one with the basic black, no camera, small chip, small battery, as delivered version. I saw one that had been upgraded and reloaded with Ubuntu - another that had the Linux taken off and XP installed. AND it had a nice leather cover so it looked like a Moleskin - but it must have got very hot. So maybe I am unique in liking the cheap, easy to use straight out of the box, no need to modify basic version. And a newer more powerful one with a bigger screen is expected any day now.

Lots of stickers (see above) and badges, quite a few business cards.

If you missed it, plan to go next year and book early. Maybe next time they will have decent coffee, enough food for lunch and somewhere to hang your coat up. But these are minor quibbles. Excellent presentations today from Matt Mullenweg, Marc Canter, Dave Olson and Alex Waterhouse Hayward.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Lunar eclipse

It is currently cloudy over Richmond - the eclipse was visible now and again but no pictures from me I am afraid - but thousands on flickr

And now a neat time lapse video

The 2007 True Stella Awards

Issued February 2008

(Click here to confirm these are legitimate.)

#3: Sentry Insurance Company. The company provided worker's compensation insurance for a Wisconsin "Meals on Wheels" program. Delivering a meal, a MoW volunteer (who was allegedly not even wearing boots) slipped and fell on a participant's driveway that had been cleared of snow, and Sentry had to pay to care for her resulting injuries. Sentry wanted its money back, so it sued the 81-year-old homeowner getting the Meals on Wheels service. It could have simply filed for "subrogation" from her homeowner's insurance company, but by naming her in the action, it dragged an old lady into court, reinforcing the image of insurance companies as concerned only about the bottom line, not "protecting" policyholders from loss.

#2: The family of Robert Hornbeck. Hornbeck volunteered for the Army and served a stint in Iraq. After getting home, he got drunk, wandered into a hotel's service area (passing "DANGER" warning signs), crawled into an air conditioning unit, and was severely cut when the machinery activated. Unable to care for himself due to his drunkenness, he bled to death. A tragedy, to be sure, but one solely caused by a supposedly responsible adult with military training. Despite his irresponsible behavior -- and his perhaps criminal trespassing -- Hornbeck's family sued the hotel for $10 million, as if it's reasonably foreseeable that some drunk fool would ignore warning signs and climb into its heavy duty machinery to sleep off his bender.

But those pale compared to...

The winner of the 2007 True Stella Award: Roy L. Pearson Jr. The 57-year-old Administrative Law Judge from Washington DC claims that a dry cleaner lost a pair of his pants, so he sued the mom-and-pop business for $65,462,500. That's right: more than $65 million for one pair of pants. Representing himself, Judge Pearson cried in court over the loss of his pants, whining that there certainly isn't a more compelling case in the District archives. But the Superior Court judge wasn't moved: he called the case "vexatious litigation", scolded Judge Pearson for his "bad faith", and awarded damages to the dry cleaners. But Pearson didn't take no for an answer: he's appealing the decision. And he has plenty of time on his hands, since he was dismissed from his job. Last we heard, Pearson's appeal is still pending.

©2007 by Randy Cassingham, Reprinted with permission.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

$50m price-fixing suit filed against Canadian chocolate makers

The suit names Nestle, Hershey, Cadbury and Mars.

I hope it gets somewhere. BUT the stuff they make is "candy" not chocolate. And if we had any consumer protection legislation worth anything they would not be allowed to sell it as chocolate. Because it isn't.

Real chocolate contains cocoa. And the better makers have started to identify the percentage of cocoa in their products. Not these four. They have been palming people off with chocolate flavoured substitutes for many years. The stuff Hershey makes is not even edible, in my view. There is something fundamentally wrong with it. Sour milk I think.

Once you have tried the real stuff you will not want anything these companies make. Look for Lindt, Guylian - and even "Western Family" the Save On Foods own brand, which has a Swiss 72% cocoa dark chocolate which is very nice and quite cheap too.

Disc Drive is Dead

Please no

They cannot do this to me. How will I get through M-F 15-18 now?

send feedback at

Sunday, 17 February 2008

An income for all Canadians

A guaranteed income program would lift more than 1.5 million people out of poverty
Feb 17, 2008 04:30 AM
Reginald Stackhouse

Some ideas are rejected in the public forum not because they have been tried and found wanting but because they have been found challenging and not tried.

One of them is a proposal that can really make poverty history in this country – no, not by increasing any or all of our existing social programs.

Just the opposite.

They will be replaced by a basic income policy, a.k.a. guaranteed annual income or negative income tax. It will provide all Canadians with an annual income, regardless of what other income they enjoy, earned or unearned.

Gone will be all forms of welfare under whatever euphemism they are disguised. Instead, monthly payments will be made to all of us.

Sounds crazy? Or just the opposite – too good to be true?

Reg Stackhouse, a former Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament, is principal emeritus and research professor at Wycliffe College, University of Toronto.

Friday, 15 February 2008

"Venus" By Lucas Cranach the Elder Is Too Overtly Sexy For Transport for London

Lucas Cranach the Elder, Venus, 1532, Oil and tempera on red beechwood, 37.7 x 24.5 cm. Stadel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, Inv. Nr. 1125. Photo © : Jochen Beyer, Village-Neuf.

I will respect the photographer's copyright - though quite how someone can claim to own the rights to pictures of people dead for nearly 500 years beats me.
Transport for London has refused to display a poster of the “Venus” painting by German artist Lucas Cranach the Elder stating it was overtly sexual. This painting is one of the 70 works that will be on view at the Royal Academy of Arts on March 8 in London. According to the academy, Transport for London would only display the image if the bottom half was cropped out.

Academy spokeswoman Jennifer Francis said, “I think it is because she's totally nude as opposed to say she's topless. We're shocked. We wouldn't have put a poster design forward if we thought it was offensive."

Actually it reminded me of that old Muppets joke

"Hey look, the comedian's a bear"

"No, he's anot, he's awearing aneck atie!"

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Love in a Backward World

I very nearly posted this to my other blog. After all it is shot on a pedestrianised street and demonstrates the value of chairs and and tables on the sidewalk.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

10 Ways YOU Can Fight Fascism Around the World

I have absolutely no idea who this guy is

I merely Stumbled Upon his web page

And I Saw That It Was Good

and inwardly digest

The Swing to Obama

It really doesn't matter what I think as I don't have a vote in the US. Up until now I have been inclined towards Hilary - because I think a woman for president is important. I do not think that colour should be, but I recognize that it is. But what has influenced me today is the following quote I found while stumbling
“When I am this party’s nominee, my opponent will not be able to say that I voted for the war in Iraq; or that I gave George Bush the benefit of the doubt on Iran; or that I supported Bush-Cheney policies of not talking to leaders that we don’t like. And he will not be able to say that I wavered on something as fundamental as whether or not it is ok for America to torture — because it is never ok… I will end the war in Iraq… I will close Guantanamo. I will restore habeas corpus. I will finish the fight against Al Qaeda. And I will lead the world to combat the common threats of the 21st century: nuclear weapons and terrorism; climate change and poverty; genocide and disease. And I will send once more a message to those yearning faces beyond our shores that says, “You matter to us. Your future is our future. And our moment is now.”

my source is

I just wish he had provided a source for the quote

Thinking about it, I wondered if Bill went off track because of an issue he could not talk to Hilary about - his infidelity. Which, by the way, was nobody else's business but the three people involved.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Sugar-free sweeteners may not help in weight-loss strategy

A study has shown that rats fed saccharin instead of sugar get fatter.

"The data clearly indicate that consuming a food sweetened with no-calorie saccharin can lead to greater body-weight gain and adiposity (fat tissue) than would consuming the same food sweetened with a high-calorie sugar,"

A second study revealed that the rats fed yogurt sweetened with saccharin were eating more chow.

When people are told to reduce the number of calories they eat, an easy fix is to replace the sugar. Because in a calorie controlled diet you do not want "empty calories". Weight loss on this regime is based on the mechanical view of metabolism that calories in must be less than calories out. So less fuel (energy in) and more excercise (energy out) must lead to weight loss over time.

Except that we are far more complex creatures than this simple model - and that is the reason that most people who have tried them find that diets don't work. Which is why there is huge and highly profitable weight loss industry.

Sunday, 10 February 2008


Blogging about blogging

I probably spend to much time in front of my computer at home. I have a sore shoulder which I think comes from sitting with my hand on the mouse making small movements. Repetitive strain injury. So the new notebook is being tried out at the library. The palmOne wifi cards I bought have both stopped working. But anyway did not really produce an adequate working environment.

So this post is really about my ability to blog from a wifi hotspot at the library.


Knowledge Network last night had a National Geographic Special called "Skin"

A search of the National Geographic web site shows that it was probably a repackaging of other material. The search term skin produced a two hour special on the human body and series of programs called "Taboo" that covered some other ground.

The take home messages that I got (and I do not want to discuss scarification or tatoos) were that we all need touch. This was demonstrated by a study which showed how bringing in elderly women to the special care baby unit to massage premature babies improved the health of both babies and women. For no-one wants to touch old ladies, and without the opportunity to touch and be touched they both fail to thrive. My only observation is old men need this too.

And Spencer Tunnick was covered too. And also showed that complete strangers who can be persuaded to take off their clothes and lie around in a random pile in asexual contact with each other find the experience so good they don't want to get up and put their clothes back on. So the mantra "I just want to be held" is worth listening to chaps. Just take your clothes off first.

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Just becuase I like it

New Lap Top EeePC

Picked this up yesterday at Powersonic.

I had heard about a small cheap laptop with Linux pre-installed, so when I saw the ad in the HUB I had to get one. My attempts to get wi-fi cards to work in my Palm were very unsatisfactory, and the experience of watching others live blogging was salutory.

So far I am quite pleased. Really easy to get started - turn it on, hit "Enter", follow the prompts. Wi-fi set up also very straight forward. The biggest issue was finding a space on a power bar for the transformer/rectifier for the router's power. Tiny screen of course, but wide format, and very clear. Battery life seems to be around 2 hours with the screen bright and the network running. I didn't need sound on. It does get surprisingly hot. Reminds me of the old ZX1, which some claimed made great toast.

For around $400 plus tax not a bad way to start mobile computing. "Add or remove programs" - the button that says that it what it does actually just gets updates. You need to be able to open a terminal and then use the Linux Command Shell. Navigation is made problematic as LInux shell does not cope with the space in My Documents where downloads go by default. And it turns out that there is a right click even though it looks like one button. Pressing the right end of the bar produced more options than pressing the left end.

Friday, 8 February 2008

B.C. planning to license home inspectors

Long overdue. I wonder why now? Some minister get stiffed on a leaky condo maybe?

What I do not understand is why they do not bring in the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors