Weblog entries for January 2003


The weather outside is frightful

Snow! In London! For the second time in a month!

The first time it happened, everyone instantly regressed to being 10 years old again. I can't remember the last time it snowed that much. It was brilliant. Everyone cheered up.

This time around, everyone has reverted to their usual cynical London selves, and we're all whining about the Northern Line being disrupted. It's quite a relief to get back to normal really. :-)


They couldn't organise a bunfight in Kipling's

Three weeks ago, I bought a FireWire card for my computer from those lovely people at Dabs. Which was nice.

A week later, they sent me a printer. It's quite a nice one: it's by Epson and it does colour printing as well as being a scanner and copier. The only problem is that I didn't order it.

The first thing I did was check with my bank to see if I'd been charged for it. This didn't seem to be the case, so I had a good laugh at Dabs' expense and sent them an email asking whether they'd like to come and get it.

Three weeks later, and they have finally got around to giving me a returns code, so I can arrange for it to be collected at my convenience, at no charge to me. The only problem is that their online collections process thinks I want to return the FireWire card, because naturally they have no record of me ordering the printer.

And so the saga continues. This is still quite amusing, but I'm sure I'll eventually tire of having to explain things over and over again. Anyone want a printer?


My patience is tested

Regular readers of my web site will be aware that Matthew has embarked on a Dave Gorman-like test of the Actimel Challenge. I mentioned to him the other day that he really needed a control subject to compare his results with. As if to prove me right, here is the perfect example of what not drinking Actimel can do to you.

This morning I attempted to buy a new travelcard from the machine at Stockwell, but April Fool's Day seems to have come early to London Underground and it swallowed my card.

I had to stand there for ten minutes while two members of staff tried to free it, and then to add insult to injury the machine was declared out of service and I had to queue up at the ticket office window to get a ticket.

Needless to say this has not put me in the best of moods for the day. Clearly, the fault lies with Actimel. I'd suggest boycotting them, but I fear it would do more harm than good.


You've got to admire the arrive from Malbranque there, Clive

A supporter's guide to clapping at football matches.

The No-Clapper

Used on those all-too-frequent occasions when you are about to reflexively start a Three-Clapper (q.v.) because a player looks sure to pull off an impressive feat, but in fact fails to do so. The hands remain poised next to each other before either agonisingly clawing the face or simply returning to their previous position. Can be accompanied by a Groaner (q.v.).

The One-Clapper

This is most often used when a Three-Clapper would be more appropriate, but part way through the clapping process, your brain is thrown out of gear by the sudden realisation that you can't quite believe that player was capable of doing that.

The Two-Clapper

Rarely used, except in those situations where the temperature is extremely low and to perform a Three-Clapper would be to disturb the stationary warmer air beneath your clothing to an uncomfortably chilly extent.

The Three-Clapper

The most common form of applause. Used when a player performs a certain skill well; dummying past a defender, a particularly good tackle, etc. The Three-Clapper is usually used in preference to a Four-Clapper because play has continued and it is important to retain clarity over which event you were clapping in appreciation of.

The Round of Applause

The Round is appropriate on occasions when the team wins a corner, or defends a set-piece well. Generally used when the ball goes out of play and there is more time available than normal, on which occasions a Three-Clapper would suffice.

The Groaner

A groan or 'ooooh' used to signify a near miss which, if it had gone in, would surely have merited Goal of the Week on The Premiership, not to mention being spoken of only in hushed tones among supporters for the next 30 years.

The Gasper

A gasp or sudden intake of breath which accompanies a free kick from an opposing player whistling mere inches past the goalpost. The Gasper is the precise opposite to the Groaner, being as it is an expression of positive relief, rather than negative disappointment.


Traffic speeds are now below 10mph

A couple of months ago, workmen put up a Congestion Charge sign at the end of St John Street. I checked the map, which shows that Pentonville Road and City Road are not in the zone, but St John Street is. Ironically, of the four roads which meet at Angel (Upper Street being the other) St John Street is easily the least busy, but it will be the one in the charging zone.

Today as I walked up to get some lunch, there were two workmen marking a rectangular area on the road at the end of St John Street, and on my way back they were using a blowtorch to fix a large CC logo onto the tarmac. Charging starts in just over six weeks, so it looks as though all they need are some CCTV cameras and they're done.

I read recently that some companies, including BT and Royal Mail, asked for exemption from the charge. Good on the GLC for denying their request. The Royal Mail are now claiming that they will have to make some deliveries within the zone on foot rather than by van.

But isn't that the whole point of the charge? I thought the aim was to discourage unnecessary journeys into central London in order that, for those people who have to use the roads, London is less congested.

Opponents of the scheme claim that it will merely displace the congestion to roads outside the zone. I'm not sure this is a problem. In order to get to central London, cars would have to travel on those same neighbouring roads anyway. If unnecessary car journeys are being reduced, there will therefore be fewer cars on these roads.

Vehicles wishing to get across London are more likely to be using the orbital routes already, which again means no extra cars on those roads. Roads away from the centre of town are precisely where the traffic should be encouraged to go. If I had to get from, say, Kings Cross to Clapham, even before the congestion charge is introduced, I would prefer to give the centre of town a wide berth precisely because it is congested.

The closer to the centre of London you go, the narrower the streets become, and therefore less suited to heavy traffic. Diverting traffic away from these streets and onto larger roads further away is the only sensible option.


The first day back is always the worst

So far, my day has gone more or less like this:

  1. Have the 'what did you get for Christmas' conversation with Jamie
  2. Drink tea
  3. Have the 'what did you get for Christmas' conversation with Neetu
  4. Read email
  5. Write an SMS
  6. Read various news websites
  7. Check email (no new messages)
  8. Have the 'what did you get for Christmas' conversation with Rich
  9. Check out new version of code, resolve 2 small conflicts
  10. Check email (no new messages)
  11. Compile and run code, note that everything still works
  12. Read various news websites
  13. Have the 'what did you get for Christmas' conversation with Toby
  14. Check email (no new messages)
  15. Read various news websites
  16. Eat lunch
  17. Accidentally break X due to a change I made in XF86Config in December
  18. Get X working
  19. Check email (still no new messages)
  20. Water Simon's plant
  21. Read various news websites
  22. Check in a dozen or so lines of code
  23. Check the bugs list
  24. Install new version of MySQL
  25. Check email (still no new messages)
  26. Read various news websites
  27. Read various news websites
  28. Read various news websites
  29. Start writing a weblog entry

…which brings you right up to date. Thrilling, isn't it? Still another hour to go. I'm a developer, get me out of here.

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