Thursday, 30 January 2014


Today I am doing my tax. It's a fairly straightforward business model, but even so it's a bit tedious. To make matters worse, I can't find much of the stuff I need. There should be an envelope full of reciepts. There should be my 2012/13 diary.

Bren pointed out that I'd done all the sums for our working tax credit back in June. All I had to do was find the old spreadsheet and I'd have all the information.

I got a new PC a couple of months back, but the old computer has just sat in here, gathering dust. I'd removed the sound card, but apart from that, it should have needed just the application of a power supply and monitor lead.

Instead, it gave a long sustained beep, and I could get no picture on the screen, not even the BIOS screen. I checked where the power cables were going inside the case. Both hard drives were connected to both a power supply and an IDE cable, but no matter how much I tried moving things around, taking bits off, putting bits on, I got absolutely no further.

Then I remembered I had bought an external connector. It connects IDE/SATA hard drives to a USB port. I could access my old hard drives using my new PC.

Unfortunately, to do this, you also have to provide power to the hard drive. The kit comes with a 4 pin connector (and about 2 inches of power lead) but there don't appear to be any spare sockets to plug this into in my new computer's drive bay.

The whole experience is compounded by an extremely cramped working environment.

This boring post reflects my life today.

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Friday, 17 January 2014

there and back again

It's been my day off. I had a plan of getting on a train with Bren, getting off at Shotton, and going on a bit of a bikeride. Last night she wasn't entirely enthusiastic, so I modified things, concentrating on the romance and relaxation of a train journey.

In my plans, we were on our way for 10am, and at Meols station shortly afterwards, picking up the Liverpool bound train that would drop us at Bidston in time for the Wrexham bound train at 35 minutes past the hour.

In fact we left just before 1pm. Tyres had to be pumped. Clothing had to be donned.

But the trip went exactly as I'd planned. We were on the train that closely connected to the Bidston to Wrexham DMU,  and had but a few minutes wait at the station.

In good time, the Wrexham train arrived, and we got on. We had a picturesque and pleasant journey out to Wrexham. It deposited us in due course at Wrexham Central station, and that's where the trouble began.

I hadn't made any plans except, "get train to Wrexham, do whatever, go home again"

You, dear reader may range from lifelong resident to occasional browser from Hawaii. Despite Wrexham being only 30 miles or so away, I tend towards the latter. And so does Bren.

Rudderless, we struck off in a random direction, but the lack of focus was causing some stress. After cycling for a while, we hit upon the plan of following signs towards tourist destinations. The nearest of these was something called King's Mill. We somehow managed to go straight past it, turned back and stumbled upon the mill, only to find that it was shut. January you see.

Plan B. Get something to eat.

We'd ridden past several pubs, but as we headed back towards the town centre, we found that they were all shut. In the end, we found ourselves in a...


Spent £15 on two return tickets to end up in an environment we could have encountered 2 niles from home.

Never mind. The menu was familiar. She had the curry. I had the veggie burger. We ate our food, and attempted to get back to the station. Unfortunately, we took something of a wrong turn, and ended up not at Wrexham Central, but at Wrexham General.

More stress. We knew roughly when the train was going to arrive, but not precisely, and not for the first time on this jaunt, we were a little lost.

We just about made the train. An hour's wait would have been our fate if we'd missed it.

We got back to Meols with just a little bit of dusk left, close to 5pm. The nights are drawing out.

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Tuesday, 14 January 2014

spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, baked beans, spam and spam.

My website contains a contact form. When someone contacts me through this form, it sends an email to my gmail account. From there, a filter recognises certain phrases, and forwards it to a company called textlocal, who then send it to my mobile phone. This allows me to respond very quickly, sometimes within seconds, to an enquiry.

One requirement I had was to include a straightforward bot trap. I wanted it to be simple for a human to read, but to weed out the majority of the inevitable bollocks that always seems to accompany the inclusion of such forms. The guy that did the site came up with something that fitted my requirements really well. It wasn't onerous for the end user to use, and it did almost eliminate automated enquiries.

From time to time, things don't seem to work as well, and for a few days I get spammed to buggery, then somehow it all stops again. It's particularly annoying because I use my phone as my alarm clock, so having false enquiries sent to me as text messages at irregular but frequent intervals throughout the night disturbs both me and Bren.

It's been happening for the last 24 hours. In that time I've received around 20 contacts, all of which are just gibberish.

Thing is, I don't get why they're doing this. At first I thought that when I checked the email, rather than mobile copy of the messages, there would be links somewhere to nefarious websites but there was no such thing. My second thought was that the contact form somehow stripped out any links that had been embedded, so I sent myself a test query, complete with a hyperlink. The link was forwarded along with the message, no problem.

So why do this? It just makes no sense.

For now, I've switched off the forwarding. Contact form enquiries still go to my email address, but no further, and I have to just check my mail several times a day to find if any of the messages I've recieved are genuine.

It would be useful if I could specify, amidst all the other options for filters in gmail, that filtering takes place between specified times. Other methods, such as tightening up the requirements of the contact form (a more difficult captcha, or some javascript insistence on a certain number of numerical only digits in the supplied phone number) might work to dissuade people from contacting me.

I'm hoping that this will stop in the next couple of days, or I will have to get in touch with the guy who did my site and arrange something to prevent them getting through. For now, I'm taking a small pleasure from envisioning the perpetrator, his face a mask of blood, as I smack his head repeatedly against the edge of my computer desk.

Driving School Enquiry - From: Akshay <9cwfhtpjorp""> Telephone: MUdXqYlAMb0 Message Body: It could help. Angel
 2:08 pm

Driving School Enquiry - From: Amardeep Telephone: GCeIcPSX2 Message Body: im far from
 1:17 pm

Driving School Enquiry - From: Bogdy Telephone: ghK315UcX Message Body: This site looks amazing!
 12:38 pm

Driving School Enquiry - From: Agustana Telephone: HaQyXVxqJAd Message Body: Hi Ester,
 12:08 pm

Driving School Enquiry - From: Oupa <11kffjdah72""> Telephone: MDBq7efUN Message Body: I just now shot many of
 12:00 pm

Driving School Enquiry - From: Lukman Telephone: g5yXHkua2iIX Message Body: sunny bray - i
 11:30 am

Driving School Enquiry - From: Nelly Telephone: whhWq3kb Message Body: Apaelpntry this is what
 11:22 am

Driving School Enquiry - From: Ahmed Telephone: qPqdGQQG Message Body: , before rermfos) and
 9:03 am

Driving School Enquiry - From: Ana Telephone: qAJbl7l1 Message Body: Hi! Thank you for this
8:55 am

Driving School Enquiry - From: Kevrel Telephone: nT7QErG9l Message Body: At last! Someone with real
7:39 am

Driving School Enquiry - From: Andrei Telephone: WzhgGN5FP Message Body: In terms of content,
7:31 am

Driving School Enquiry - From: Meiko Telephone: z8lDuLKr Message Body: Thought it woudnl't to give
5:17 am

Driving School Enquiry - From: Bassey Telephone: TQfNVY9GBtTj Message Body: Whoever wrote this,
1:44 am

Driving School Enquiry - From: Valinda Telephone: Q2RfohQQJFW Message Body: Your posting really
1:26 am

Driving School Enquiry - From: Nyvaeh Telephone: PvIizmgl8 Message Body: Great common sense here.
1:03 am

Driving School Enquiry - From: Robin Telephone: EJu7rmi5Yw Message Body: I am very interested in
10:49 pm

Driving School Enquiry - From: Max Telephone: lBmqWvZHTSeW Message Body: Enku antha manavanai mauttm
10:23 pm

Driving School Enquiry - From: Etta Telephone: m2F8ORXv Message Body: Great post with lots
Jan 14

Jan 14

Driving School Enquiry - From: Emi Telephone: bCMtHBev6d Message Body: This is crsatyl clear.
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Jan 14

Driving School Enquiry - From: Raul Telephone: e0Jaob3x Message Body: Lanelle - Nick is my cousin
Jan 14

Jan 14

Driving School Enquiry - From: Makailee Telephone: Ra20CLID Message Body: I actually found this more
Jan 14

Driving School Enquiry - From: Darrance <95jznjd3m""> Telephone: oZxVREhW Message Body: I'm out of league
Jan 14

Driving School Enquiry - From: Mousumi Telephone: H35kLBM8Q Message Body: steve fox - Wow,
Jan 14

Driving School Enquiry - From: test Telephone: test Message Body: tteesstt -- This mail is sent via
Jan 14

Driving School Enquiry - From: Gabriell Telephone: ayefBPyU4pD3 Message Body: Jeff Baird - Will
Jan 14

Driving School Enquiry - From: Red Telephone: saX6lxGergA Message Body: Ren - Hi neighbor! Your
Jan 14

Driving School Enquiry - From: Parrucchieri Telephone: kkjOpemdY Message Body: Matt Ruff -
Jan 14

Driving School Enquiry - From: Charlie Telephone: OfzUhDDzcg Message Body: , before rofmres)
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Driving School Enquiry - From: Bicha Telephone: siVGAEG24iY Message Body: I have some
Jan 14

Driving School Enquiry - From: Javeria Telephone: AoUIcpOBmAj6 Message Body: except the
Jan 14

Driving School Enquiry - From: Johnharry Telephone: 0JKAKi7Suq Message Body: Appreciate what
Jan 14

Driving School Enquiry - From: Mario Telephone: RCf0XJGb4 Message Body: Jason,They are not stupid
Jan 14

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Jan 14

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Wednesday, 8 January 2014

The day it rained forever

Strange times. I don't remember a winter without a single frost before.

A couple of years ago, I was losing half my work to ice and snow. Now I'm thinking of retraining as a canoeing instructor. Still, the monotonous patter of rain on the caravan roof (It seems to have been like this for hours/days/weeks/months) means I can do my job and earn money.

It's difficult to think of a more ecologically destructive role than teaching people how to drive, and I do admit to sometimes questioning myself over doing the job I do, and being aware of the impact Humanity is having on the world's systems.

There is a difference of course, between weather and climate, and it would be as wrong of me to point to the current exceptionally wet and mild winter as evidence of climate change as it is for people in the US to try to point to the current polar conditions as a rebuttal of "Global Warming" but what climate scientists in fact predict is more extreme weather, and current events certainly seem to big up their conclusions.

Still, to give up what I do because I understand the consequences seems pointless. There is no shortage of instructors out there.

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Tuesday, 7 January 2014

silica is cheaper than gallium

just a thought.

instead of using large areas of PV panelling to capture diffuse energy, why not use smaller areas of PV, and fit lenses somewhere above them to concentrate the energy on the panels?

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Thursday, 2 January 2014

Can't get there from here...

Well, several of the discussion boards I read feature the "world's poorest president".

He's almost universally acclaimed! Democrats (capital US "D") especially sing his praises from the rooftops.

Sad to say, dear reader, I've been pissing on their adulation with a simple question.

"If an independent politician stood, promising to behave in the same way as Mujica, would you vote for him (or her)" It's a bit of a thread stopper, truth be told. The obvious corrollary is "If you don't vote for such people, how are you ever going to get them elected"?

A decade or so ago, I remember Liberals saving their most vicious criticism, not for George Bush, but for Ralph Nader. How dare he do anything that might jeopardise their centre right party of choice from getting in!

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