Archives for the month of: March, 2011


Taken at Apple Store


This post originally appeared here: Posterous
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Probably not a great choice for a date movie, but then that would depend on your date. The story of the futility of violence. Some solid performances, with just a couple of holes, but generally very well put together. Some excellent soundtrack, and some beautiful British scenery. 7 out of 10…. But in places 8.

PS: Connected to my favourite movie of all time via Jordan who’s played by David Thewlis who of course plays the video artist Knox Harrington.


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Getting there nicely…

  • Buying Paint for the ceiling in the en suite (needs a refresh). 
  • Buying a refill for the strimmer (failed miserably to acquire said strimmer nylon over the weekend so it’s been bumped to Monday). 
  • Buying a naff balloon with 21 written on it (for daughter obv.) 
  • Buying ingredients for a party cake (also for daughter). 
  • Taking cushion covers to have new zips installed (not sure this is even possible, but I’m sure if I can find the right place it will happen for a fee). 
  • Prepping and Painting ceiling. 
  • Mowing lawn. 
  • Edging lawn with freshly refilled strimmer. 
  • Wrapping birthday presents. 
  • Cleaning windows (needs doing since the window cleaner was fired a couple of months ago). 
  • Making Cake. 
  • Picking up Mrs G to go to the dentists.

The bits that are left over, can be pushed out to tomorrow…. oh… except for the birthday present wrapping.  D’oh.  That has to be done today!!!

 


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Another strange case of an invisible weekend. It beggars belief. One minute they’re here and within seconds they’re gone and Sunday night/Monday morning is upon us again. I’m not going to harp on about it though for this particular Monday is a days holiday. Sadly it won’t feel much like one. I have a list of jobs as long as your arm so my so-called day of rest will involve some or all of the following…

  • Buying Paint for the ceiling in the en suite (needs a refresh). 
  • Buying a refill for the strimmer (failed miserably to acquire said strimmer nylon over the weekend so it’s been bumped to Monday). 
  • Buying a naff balloon with 21 written on it (for daughter obv.) 
  • Buying ingredients for a party cake (also for daughter). 
  • Taking cushion covers to have new zips installed (not sure this is even possible, but I’m sure if I can find the right place it will happen for a fee). 
  • Prepping and Painting ceiling. 
  • Mowing lawn. 
  • Edging lawn with freshly refilled strimmer. 
  • Wrapping birthday presents. 
  • Cleaning windows (needs doing since the window cleaner was fired a couple of months ago). 
  • Making Cake. 
  • Picking up Mrs G to go to the dentists.

As a realist, I’m pretty sure that’s not all going to happen, but I’ll give it a go. Starting with prepping for painting and then cleaning windows. Shopping from about 9.45 through to about 11.45 probably. Then painting, mowing, wrapping and cake making through until 4.15. In amongst this stuff, I want to get a lookin at work too. It’s going to be close – and far to busy for a day off. But then, there’s no rest for the wicked.

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Hope your day is how you’d like it to be.


This post originally appeared here: Posterous
He definitely works for Starfleet….

Dilbert.com


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Today is going to involve a trip into Cheltenham with daughter while Mrs G has a visit to the hairdressers. If the weather holds out it should be a great way to spend a little time with the young ‘un during her run up to the ‘big day’. She has some items to exchange and of course I need to pick up a refill line for the strimmer.
 
One thing I haven’t done for a little while is have a good rant. Those that have been regular visitors here will know that on occasion I can get on my soap box and start getting all verbose about a subject. Part of the reason for having toned down of late is change. What with having had my cheese moved and attempting to teach pachyderms to dance I’ve been having a lot to take in and it’s tough to find time to put a stake in the ground and make time to carve up the elephant in the room. If you don’t know what that’s all about (and I pray that you don’t for your own sanity) then your levels of management bullsh!t understanding leave something to be desired. I can only look on in awe at Scobi’s abilities in this field. Just thought I’d run that up the flag pole to see who salutes. 🙂 There’s also a good one about rats in Rhododendron bushes, but I never really understood that at all.
 
Generally I’m actually quite quiet. I tend to be the person at the back of the room observing the noisy table bangers and getting my head around the scope of their ideas. I’m a thinker preferring to fit as many views as possible into the bigger picture to get an overall understanding of whatever the subject is rather than leaping in and sounding like a “bit of a d!ck”. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen – it does, and more often than I’d care to admit to, but as they say in the places where these things don’t worry them… “Meh” and “Whatever”
 
With that, let’s take a little trip to rantville. Having left it a while there are a multitude of subjects to choose from, including “Evaluating the value of evaluation”, “The cost of the Costa’s… And everything else”, “Why Fixing potholes on a Sunday means you can’t drive anywhere on a Monday” and the exceptionally explosive “How to behave when someone tells out and out lies about you in a document and then presents that amongst a wide group of colleagues as fact”- I’m sure you can hear the soft undertone of seething and bubbling blood. 

 
None of these are today’s subject though.  I’m interested in “Frozen Yogurt, Reduced Fat”
 
The BBC are reporting that council tax is being ‘frozen or reduced’ in a sort of yogurty fatty kind of way. Most council tax bills for homes in England will be frozen or reduced this year with the average bill for a Band D household remaining at £1,439. You can read the full article here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-12831277

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On the surface this is a good news story. All of us hard working tax payers have been doing our bit to fix the debt brought about by the overspend of the last the lot and we can take a little solace in the fact that our annual contribution to the local tea and biscuit club isn’t going up. 

What? Was I born yesterday?  Good old political misdirection (politicians? Magicians more like). While we’re all bust feeling smug about our zero percent increase, they’re all busy slashing services left right and centre. We might not be paying more, but we’re getting less, so in real terms its an increase. And it’s not a small increase either. Libraries closing are the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds of smaller nicks and cuts as well. For example, I learned this week that we will now have to pay an additional £36 to have our garden waste (Green bin, fortnightly – how fecking complicated can we make recycling?) collected.  What? Say that again?..
RESIDENTS in Gloucester will be charged to have their garden waste collected, council chiefs decided.

Households will be charged £36 a year for a green bin for the first time ever.

The city’s opposition Labour group claimed the move would see residents returning to “burning and flytipping rubbish”.

But that claim was rejected by the leader of the authority, Councillor Paul James (Con, Longlevens), who said: “The people of Gloucester are better than that.”

The decision was voted through at a meeting of full council yesterday despite angry opposition. Before now the service was free to all homes.

Leader of the Labour group Councillor Mark Hobbs (Moreland, Lab) said: “The uptake of green waste recycling is going to drop through the floor.

“People will go back to burning their rubbish, flytipping it and going back to put it in black bins.”

He added: “This is an absolute sham, and to ask people to start paying for this service is a disgrace.”

But his criticism was rejected by leaders of the Tory-led authority, which claimed one of five households will pay for the bins.

Councillor Steve Morgan, (Grange, Con) cabinet member for the environment, said: “It’s patently obvious this is going to be a difficult and unpopular decision to make, we are working on cautious estimates.

“The proposed take up, we imagine will be in the region of 20 per cent.”

Councillor Jermemy Hilton (Kingsholm, Lib Dem), said: “The other way we could fund this scheme is to increase council tax by 10 per cent.

“We need to cover a £4 million black hole in the council’s budget.” People signing up early will get an extra six months free, and will pay for one year but get 18 months worth of collections.

Anyone who gets council tax or housing benefits will be entitled a 50 per cent reduction.

Currently, the authority’s garden waste service serves 47,000 households in Gloucester.

It is at full capacity with four dedicated vehicles.

But when ongoing housing developments at Kingsway, Hempsted and other sites are fully occupied, it will be necessary to buy an extra vehicle.

That would cost taxpayers an extra £120,000 if the service remained free.

The council had made no budgetary provision for this, according to a report circulated before the meeting.

Councillors also agreed to charge for bulky waste, items such as fridges and sofas.

It will cost £24 for up to three items, and £8 for every additional item from then on.

The decision took place during a budget meeting, during which £3.9 million worth of cuts were being debated.

 

Just if you were wondering, a quick poke about on the councils website reveals the following facts  of note.

Housing plans

Kingsway: Approval for 2300 Dwellings

Hempstead: potential for 100 dwellings

Other: There’s a long list, but the most significant is Gloucester Quays with the potential for a further 1000 dwellings

This gives us a short term total of 4,400 homes. There is a much longer term plan which puts the numbers up significantly but most of it doesn’t have approval at present so it’s all pie in the sky and irrelevant for the time being. 

For the mathematically challenged among you (and I’m including e council in that) this gives us these numbers:

4,400 multiplied by £1,439 equals £6,331,600. Minus your poxy £120,000 to keep the service free and you’re left with a net increase of £6,211,600. You could use this to provide the other services your supposed to be providing for the new residents that you’ve moved in which thanks to your dodgy planning processes will all be living in tiny wall cupboards that you and the greedy developers like to think of as band D homes so that you can maximise your returns on them. 

I mean really. Is it me? IS IT ME!?.

And while we’re about it, a black hole is an astronomy term and as such has nothing to do with financial accounting. I think you need to get your story straight here girls. How did you manage to make ‘no budgetary provision’ for 4,400 dwellings that you approved ?

I do understand that running a council is a complex and expensive task. you have to get the right biscuits for a start! but come on!  This is just maths! You do know about maths don’t you?

I also note that a polling card for the forthcoming council elections has just fallen through my letterbox.

Oh goody.

 


This post originally appeared here: Posterous
The old blogging has been taking a bit of a back seat of late (not a good situation) and so to rectify that lapse, I present herewith “War and Peace”. So titled because not unlike Mr Tolstoy’s effort, it’s huge but sadly, that is where the similarity ends.  Apologies in advance.

To give you some semblance of what’s been happening, here’s the story so far….  or at least since the last entry of any detail.  Last friday was Gold Cup day, and Mrs G and I made an appearance.  We weren’t racing or riding but we were watching. You can read about that elsewhere.

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Since then there’s been the rest of a weekend and almost a whole week for stuff to have happened in.

Saturday was filled with a trip to town.  It’s daughter’s 21st birthday next week and Mrs G has settled on what she’s having.  I’m a little disappointed as I had other plans for her “special gift” but Mrs G has insisted that these go on hold. Given the tough time daughter’s had over the last 12 months, I suppose she’s right….  oh and if she’s reading this – of course, she’s absolutely correct and I agree whole heartedly with her decision.  I’ve put the idea on the back burner and if finances permit then perhaps daughter will get a nice surprise later in the year.

The mission to collect the said gift was made all that much harder by the fact that daughter decided to join us on our visit to the city – and so there was to-ing and fro-ing and ducking and diving so that the item was secreted away without daughters knowledge. No mean feat, and MI5 would be proud.

RE: The gift. Just to be clear….  this isn’t it:
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Saturday night was a fine Jamie O lasagne. It tasted great, but rather fell apart on dissection. I suspect the sauce needed further reduction before the baking process – but what do I know about cooking? other than how to read the book.

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Sunday being the day where stuff gets done around the house lent itself beautifully to a good sort out of the garden.  The weather was fine and dandy and actually felt like the proper first day of Spring. Bright sunshine allowed me to get the mower out and wave it about the lawn.  It’s a flymo, so rather than the coiffered cut of a Briggs & Stratton, it’s more like an all over number two – short and cropped and tidy if not elegant.

This is then followed by the beard trimmer and nasal hair remover of all lawn machinery – the strimmer – to go round the edges.  It’s a natty little Black & Decker with a self feeding strimmer line that extends itself as it inevitably gets worn away.  On this occasion it over extended itself and has in point of fact worn away completely. Being past 4pm at this stage of the game, a trip to B&Q (other DIY outlets are available) was out of the question – and so the nasal grass remains until I can crowbar in a retail opportunity.

Monday found me whizzing cross country in the roller skate to meet my mate the badman and another member of the crew to push forward the enormous boulder we’re hefting uphill.  Picture the dung beetle and there you have it.  It was a pleasure to spend time with the pair of them and they were both very generous and shared gifts with me.  The badman had some of his finest free range eggs from his very own chickens. An interesting mix of whites and blues and the odd very dark red / brown.

This reminds me – I must ask him what he’s been feeding them on…  presumably chalk, brick dust and something blue…   

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Our other colleague, Brenda, (I can’t apologise enough for want of a better name), treated me to a cold & flu, which has been slowly chipping away at my energy resources ever since.  This, in part, is some of the reason the blog hasn’t been happening. I’m just too damn ughhhgdfg.  A head full of mucus is no way to think, let alone be creative and write something that you won’t want to read.

I try not to talk about work too much in here, but as it’s a new role for me and as it’s particularly taxing at the moment I’m allowing myself a little lapse on the basis that a problem shared is a problem halved.  Not that it’s particularly a problem, as the badman pointed out, he and I are stood with our necks aching looking up an extremely steep and high learning curve. Those that are slightly longer in the tooth at this game have an opportunity to take full advantage of our naivety and on occasion one or two of them try to do just that.  You got to get up early in the morning to catch us country boys out though 🙂

Tuesday changed the perspective of the whole week though. Work was fine – we moved things forward and played with the spreadsheet from hell. What wasn’t so good was a phone call from Mrs G senior and news from the around Bradford (not the one up north, the one on the Avon canal). I have cousins out that way one of whom is married with the regulatory 2.4 kids and until the last couple of years all was well in their world.  Sadly his wife was diagnosed with cancer, and even though she’d fought it and had an all clear, it made a most unwelcome reappearance. On Tuesday evening she lost her battle and my heart broke for them.

The rest of the week paled into insignificance.

It’s Friday morning now though, and I do feel like I’ve turned a corner.  Loaded up on Lemsip (other cold & flu remedies are available) I’m ready for another crack at hard work safe in the knowledge that I’ve got 3 days off next week.  Two to celebrate daughter’s big day and one to celebrate my cousin’s wife’s life.

Obviously mixed emotions.

Stay safe and tell your loved one’s you love them.

This post originally appeared here: Posterous
Dilbert.com

Hmmm…. I do wish he’d warn me when he’s publishing my life (or lack thereof) in cartoon form.


This post originally appeared here: Posterous
A fascinating story is revealing itself via the management at play.com

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Not your ordinary security breach seems to have taken place, but not from their owned and managed systems, but from one of their providers systems…

Dear Customer,

As a follow up to the email we sent you last night, I would like to give you some further details. On Sunday the 20th of March some customers reported receiving a spam email to email addresses they only use for Play.com. We reacted immediately by informing all our customers of this potential security breach in order for them to take the necessary precautionary steps. 

We believe this issue may be related to some irregular activity that was identified in December 2010 at our email service provider, Silverpop. Investigations at the time showed no evidence that any of our customer email addresses had been downloaded. We would like to assure all our customers that the only information communicated to our email service provider was email addresses.  Play.com have taken all the necessary steps with Silverpop to ensure a security breach of this nature does not happen again.

We would also like to reassure our customers that all other personal information (i.e. credit cards, addresses, passwords, etc.) are kept in the very secure Play.com environment. Play.com has one of the most stringent internal standards of e-commerce security in the industry. This is audited and tested several times a year by leading internet security companies to ensure this high level of security is maintained. On behalf of Play.com, I would like to once again apologise to our customers for any inconvenience due to a potential increase in spam that may be caused by this issue . 

Best regards,

John

John Perkins
CEO
Play.com

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Confidentiality: This e-mail and any files transmitted with it are confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addressed. If you have received this e-mail in error please notify the sender immediately and delete this message from your computer without further action. Any dissemination, distribution or copying of this message or any files transmitted with it by an unauthorised recipient is strictly prohibited.
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Some interesting language going on there. “irregular activity” strikes me as an interesting turn of phrase and the fact that they’ve mentioned their third party by name on more than one occasion is also “of note” to my over paranoid eye.


Really makes me think about the safety or lack thereof in outsourcing or even the amount of trust we automatically place in third parties without a second thought.

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Especially for the Badman, the complete evil villain files as obtained from my friend at GCHQ, Mr James Bond. (Probably not meant to mention that, but he’s a regular visitor at the office as the burrow network under rabbit roundabout is directly connected via a tunnel to GCHQ, so he pops in when he’s on his way to Q Division – fascinating stuff and all very hush hush). Hopefully this dossier will help badman’s internal estate agent in the near future.

Without further ado….

1 Dr No: A Jamaican island protected by a “dragon”

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2 From Russia with Love: A heavily guarded yacht with Siamese fighting fish (especially if you have an evil kitty)

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3 Goldfinger: A schmelting verks in the swiss alps near Geneva equipped with an industrial laser.

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4 Thunderball: A beach front villa in the Bahamas, complete with shark infested swimming pool.

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5 You Only Live Twice: A hollowed out volcano somewhere near Japan

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6 On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: An allergy research center On top of a mountain in the Swiss Alps only accessible by helicopter

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7 Diamonds are Forever: The penthouse of a Las Vegas hotel and beneath the Nevada desert

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8 Live and Let Die: The back room of ‘The Fillet of Soul’ in New York, accessed via a rotating booth by the wall and an underground lair beneath a voodoo protected graveyard near New Orleans

9 The Man With The Golden Gun: An island off the coast of Phuket, Thailand with a sun ray laser thing in the top.

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10 The Spy who Loved Me: An underwater base that can float and sink at the touch of a button.

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11 Moonraker: A low earth orbit space station. Perfect for those of an off-earth arian persuasion.

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12 For Your Eyes Only: A cliff top monastery

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13 Octopussy: An island in a lake only reachable by boat powered by oarswomen.

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14 A View To A Kill: An airship, complete with staircase that becomes a slide to a trapdoor for disposing of enemies

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15 The Living Daylights: A museum to war in Tangiers

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16 Licence to kill: The Olympatec Meditation Institute. Makes a great cover for drug smugglers.

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17 Goldeneye: The Arecibo radio telescope

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18 Tomorrow Never Dies: A stealth catamaran which is perfect for an evil newspaper owner.

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19 The World is not Enough: A tiny island retreat in the bay of Istanbul, Turkey

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20 Die Another Day: A Clinic in Los Organos, Cuba

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21 Casino Royale: A retreat on the shores of Lake Garda

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22 Quantum of Solace: A hotel deep in the desert… Never can remember where this one is though.

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I’m sure there’s a residence in there to suit everyone. Happy shopping.


This post originally appeared here: Posterous