listening to:

Tuesday, January 29

Missing, presumed dead

Enron code of ethics handbooks on sale at eBay.

- posted at 6:53:24 PM :: feedback

Sunday, January 27

Did you notice? Did you? Did you?

I've moved. Or, rather, danhon.com and all its rather nebulous extremities have moved, in a less-than lock-stock manner from Chris's humble t1 enhanced abode to these bods. Which means, unfortunately, that I've had to cut a lot out of the site. Like the four hundred odd meg of gallery that no longer exists. Ho hum.

Fear not, though! I'm hard--well, not hard, only idly, really--at work putting together a whole new gallery that will only show off the best bits from the old gallery (this will always depend on what you thought the "best bits" were, but it's my call really, isn't it?) fashioned from twigs, bits of scavenged sticky backed plastic and the odd limb of a Blue Peter Presenter.

Oh, and something else. Caz may be on holiday, but the CazBall may be making return. Within the next four months or so. So they just might both return at the same time. You can never tell with these things, really, but there you go. Just look out.

- posted at 9:30:31 PM :: feedback

Saturday, January 26

Not what it appears to be

Some people might think that the Harry Potter Adult Diary would be something completely different.

- posted at 3:57:37 PM :: feedback

Friday, January 25

Is it just me...

Or does Tom look like a smug Tony Blair in his 1993 "Travelling around Europe" picture?

- posted at 10:37:46 AM :: feedback

Bag on a stick

He's done it.

- posted at 1:16:05 AM :: feedback

Tuesday, January 22

Passenger pans airline after toilet ordeal

Via BBC News: A plane passenger is giving bottom marks to an airline - after getting sealed to a toilet seat for more than two hours during a trans-Atlantic flight.

- posted at 2:29:51 PM :: feedback

Sunday, January 20

Funny

Geek humour: Verity Stob's Downwards and Backwards with Dotdotdot (and an index of her columns.

- posted at 5:32:13 PM :: feedback

Everyone else is covering it, so why can't we?

So the Washington Post thinks that AOL is going to buy Red Hat. Or, at the least, they're slightly interested in buying Red Hat.

I really do hope that Bill has thought of this. AOL have a great line in a subscription service that millions of people use, all over the world. What's more, they seem to be very happy with it. AOL's demographic couldn't care less whether they're using the latest operating system or whether their browser is w3c spec compliant, because, for all intents and purposes, the internet is everything that the AOL walled garden (admittedly, not exactly a walled garden, but at the same time not exactly a roaming expanse of IP addresses and TCP/IP ports) provides them. Email? It just works. Chat? Buckets of it. Discussion rooms? Been there, done that. Instant messaging? Take your pick from AOL Instant Messenger and Mirabilis's now-abysmal yet multiplying-like-some-kind-of-sick-virus ICQ.

Microsoft, on the other hand, is desperately trying to move towards some kind of subscription-based revenue: there's only so much you can do to software to make it the latest and greatest (apart, of course, from spending a whole lot of money on marketing to persuade your customers that your latest release is the latest and greatest), when, for most people, Windows 98SE and Office 2000, or even Office 97, is still "good enough". Their attempts seem to be failing, though.

What to do, then? One of Microsoft's prongs of attack is .NET, that, apart from privacy, security and architectural concerns aside, does seem to promise wonderful things. Whether the technical side is able to keep up with the promises of marketing, however, remains to be seen: meanwhile, Microsoft offers its Passport authentication service, whose one big win so far is being tied into MSN properties and Hotmail. It remains to be seen whether other companies will entrust Microsoft to run their authentication services for them.

.NET, though, comes with Microsoft's stab at being everybody's intermediary: .NET My Services, the much more consumer-friendly name for the Hailstorm project. Microsoft, the world's friendliest developer, will help you push your information right into your consumer in a frenzy of consistency. That's got to be good, right?

At the other end of the spectrum (or, perhaps, at exactly the very same end), blunders the corporate monolith that is AOL-Time Warner, the ultimate embodiment of cross-media synergies that would make any executive squirm in her seat.

So, imagine this: AOL-TW buys Red Hat. They create a hideous cross-breed distribution of Linux that boots seamlessly off a CD (or even will install itself on your computer). This distribution comes complete with digital rights management software, finally realising the media giant's wet dream of offering content over the network that you can't copy, you can't steal and you damn well have to pay for. Oh, wait, there's more: if you're using an AOL-over-broadband connection, they'll offer to store your files for you: an AOL workspace that you can access anywhere, because, remember, AOL Anywhere would much rather be AOL Everywhere. Did I mention that all of this was a subscription based service? No more one-off charges that force continual upgrading? No?

"So what?" proclaim the die-hard open source advocates. AOL-TW will be obligated to release the source to whatever they produce. Well, yes, they will. But you can bet if there's any way to tie in what they produce to their subscription model, it'll be tied. Then superglued. Then oxy-acetylene welded. Microsoft, see, doesn't have any content that we want to consume. Hotmail? Oh, please. Slate? You've got to be kidding. MSN? Try again.

Oh, this will be fun to watch...

- posted at 3:38:56 PM :: feedback

Saturday, January 19

Step into the light so I can see you

A fair number of things have been happening in the past month or so: college has bumbled on methodically, to the extent that myself and my friends on the LPC course are passing the jaded stage and entering the resigned-acceptance stage. None of it seems particularly taxing. We've submitted two pieces of coursework, two pieces of "assessed" (read: sat in a stuffy room for three hours in silence, accompanied by lever arch files of notes and textbooks) coursework and sat through around ninety minutes of business accounts, in which we were expected to produce a set of final accounts. Of course, we weren't able to use any shredders, as Arthur Andersen might have done.

An aside: we were told at the beginning of our business accounts classes the only reason it's a part of the LPC (the LPC being regulated by the Law Society) is because those pesky accountants are muscling in on our legal practice. So, reasoned the Law Society, we must fight back. So there's no real legal reason why we had to learn business accounts: ultimately, as our tutor told us, we had to do it because somebody else said so.

On the paying-the-bills side of things, I've been slogging through my current set of contract work, which has been entertaining to say the least. A side effect of which is that I've finally been able to think about buying a laptop without collapsing due to the unbelievable amounts of debt that such a purchase would warrant.

For a while, I'd managed to narrow it down to a dead heat between a sexy-yet-conventional Sony Vaio number and an Apple PowerBook G4. Needless to say, when I finally saw the two side-by-side in a handy local John Lewis department store, the Vaio was more or less out of the running and I was busy flitting around the web trying to find the best deals possible on sleek titanium clad laptops.

Wonderful as Apple are, they're not exactly renowned for producing affordable, cheap products. You're supposed to justify the increased cost, on the other hand, due to the superior build quality, the excellent product design and the general knowledge that, on the face of it, the user experience should more or less rock in comparison with Microsoft's latest XP effort.

Well, I'm using Windows XP Pro. I also use Windows 2000. I'm about as familiar with those operating systems as a fish is familar with using its gills to extract oxygen from water, it's not as if I'm in dire need of a more friendly computer. On the other hand, Mac OS X (and in particular, version 10.1), is rather stunning in comparison to Windows XP: not only does it look gorgeous (to someone who has a noticeable penchant for the colour blue, the Aqua interface is nothing short of genuis), but it's got a BSD underpinning that means the geeky side of me gets to play with Apache, mySQL, Perl, PHP and any number of other open source delights whilst at the same time being able to use what's possibly the best version of Microsoft Office out there.

Which is why, after around fifteen years of using PCs and their associated Microsoft operating systems, I'm finally going to become true to the assertion that I'm OS agnostic. Apple make computers to die for: the Titanium PowerBook, whilst having its fair share of problems (even the latest December combo drive revision still has below-average 802.11b reception with the built in Airport card, the sheet-titanium case still seems slightly flimsy to some, too) is an undeniably gorgeous laptop. It's thin. It's only an inch thick. It has a slot-loading drive. And not only to Apple make computers to die for, I really have no reason to stay with Intel and Microsoft other than the sheer force of tradition and inertia. Most of my work nowadays is accomplished in simple text editors, Photoshop-alike packages and Microsoft Office, both of which are available on each platform. Do I play games anymore? No, not really.

Thank God, then, that Apple UK has an educational discount that cuts around 10% off their online list price. If it weren't for that, then even the cheapest Titanium PowerBook would have been hard to justify. Actually, scratch that: it's still hard to justify. I've spent the last month or so reading pretty much everything there is to read on the web about these machines, amassed a horrendous pile of bookmarks and short of spending half an hour sat down with one just playing with it, there's not much more that I can do to assuage the fear involved in spending a hell of a lot of money on a 2.4kg piece of hardware.

- posted at 11:07:30 PM :: feedback

Monday, January 14

Service announcement

New buttons on the left hand side (nabbed from A List Apart) for those who were complaining that the font sized used was too small. Now feel free to bump it up to 14pt to ease those eyes of yours.

- posted at 5:41:30 PM :: feedback

Saturday, January 12

Norfolk revisited

Not much like Brideshead, really, but sometimes you really have to just take what you're offered. Last time I wrote, I promised that I'd write a little about the Boiler Room. Now, nearly three weeks after the dreaded incident, I feel it's time to tell my story.

When we arrived at the barn, the farmer and his wife showed us around--the farmer took the boys out to the boiler room to do manly things and, well, boil water, set things on fire, hunt for food, that kind of thing. The girls, on the other hand, were taken aside by the farmer's wife to be shown the kitchen in which, presumably, they were taught the secret ways of washing up, cooking green things and advanced use of things to wipe other things with.

This was, of course, amusing to the nth degree and it became a running in-joke to enforce stereotypes as much as possible over the next few days (oh what wacky lives ex-students live). Thus it became tradition that only Men were allowed to go to the Boiler Room, which had instantly acquired mythical status (the room that makes things hot, the room that is many miles away, the room of many mysteries and so on).

Surprisingly (or rather unoriginally, as you might choose to believe), at the same time as the Boiler Room myth was being developed, we stumbled upon the Myth of the Scary Axe Murderer who would prey upon twenty somethings who had decided to go and stay in an isolated converted Barn in the middle (or edge) of Norfolk) to celebrate New Year.

Normally, this kind of teasing about axe murderers would be quite fun were it not for the fact that the four girls had slightly more excitable imaginations than you'd expect and were thus, bluntly, easily scared shitless by the merest suggestion of a manic man with straggly hair standing outside the front door.

And thus began the inevitable mingling of the Boiler Room Myth and the Scary Axe Murderer Myth: one cold and dark night, in the deepest depths of Norfolk--near Cromer, actually--, did the girls suggest that someone wander out to the Boiler Room and see if they could get the central heating to do something more akin to its description. Like heat centrally, really, when what it had been doing up until that point was vaguely pump some semblance of warmth out in selective regions (lesson: never let a lawyer pick a fight with a central heating system). One of the Johns and Chirag wandered out for the long trek out to the Boiler Room (just past the front door), leaving the four girls, myself and the Other John.

Time passed.

More time passed.

Evilly, John and myself started to voice concerns for the Boiler Room expedition's safety. Why, we wondered, were they taking so long? It wasn't very far... but on the other hand, there wasn't a lock on the Boiler Room door. Anyone could have sneaked up on them. With a pickaxe. Or a cudgel. Or a rock. They could've been knocked unconscious.

At this point, the remaining John came up with quite possibly the best-fitting line anyone could deliver:

"I'll just go and check," he said.

There was an uproarious outrage. Don't check, the girls pleaded, you'll be killed by the rampaging axe murderer. John and Chirag are dead for certain now. John, however, was resolute, and ventured out to the Boiler Room.

Time passed.

Even more time passed. I idly wondered out loud exactly what the rampaging axe murderer might have done to John, John and Chirag.

"Maybe I should go and check...," I ventured. This, again, was met with a stern command to do nothing of the sort and that to leave the girls alone in the house with a potential axe murderer on the loose was tantamount to negligence.

At this point, the well-positioned Johns and Chirag had managed to coordinate the loudest, most violent combined banging on all of the ground floor windows at the same time, resulting in a scream from the four girls that was deafening at best, and probably resulted in long-term psychiatric and physical damage to the structure of the barn at worst.

That, I tell you, was funny. Although probably moreso if you were there at the time.

- posted at 3:29:09 PM :: feedback

Text message theatre

Today's random text message:

"mmm... straws... long thin tubes of plastic... stripey ones, too... bet you would *love* some of those... :)"

- posted at 3:28:47 PM :: feedback

We *heart* Google

... because they've thoughtly provided a new interface to my gallery.

- posted at 2:41:20 PM :: feedback

Sunday, January 6

Hasty interruption

I was going to write a little more about the new year shennanigans (I really do have to apologise for having used that word), but I just finished a day's worth of film-binging. Analyze This and Quills on DVD (links and schtuff over in the Popcorn area), which were respectively funny and slightly disturbing. Well, Analyze This was funny in the default "Look, there's Billy Crystal, sometimes saying the same things and sometimes sounding just like Harry from When Harry..." sense, but also rather amusingly because of Lisa Kudrow's rather surprise appearance as, well, Phoebe from Friends. Silly dappy girl.

Quills, on the other hand, started rather amusingly ("Look, there's Kate Winslet! And France has become somewhere in south London!"), and then just went a bit sick and bonkers at the end. Joaquin Phoenix proved yet again that he can look geekily sinister no matter what part he's playing (even as a man in a dress he still exuded some kind of bizarre "Aaah! That man's mentally imbalanced! No good will come of him!" reaction"), whilst Michael Caine played a right royal bastard. Only he wasn't royal. Well, not really. He was just evil. Like most people in the film, really.

And so on to Beauty and the Beast (cue Barry Norman impression with an "And why not..."). Or, more accurately, and IMAX re-release, which I'm reliably informed possesed not only cleaned up animation ("Digitally enhanced!"), but also an extra song to boot ("Lyrically enhanced!"--I'd love to see a lyrically remastered musical version of most films, really, if only for the comic potential).

There's something weird about seeing Disney on a screen the size of around four double decker busses. I suppose it's the fact that you're getting Disney sentimentality rammed down your throat in some kind of Clockwork Orange-style treatment, only this time you've voluntarily paid, your eyes aren't being held open with a variety of medical instruments and no one's squirting eyedrops at you every thirty seconds. Not that eyedrops would've been much use, really--who wouldn't cry when inflicted with such gargantuan Disney? In spite of that, and any dislike for women talking to small animals and skipping gaily in meadows, Beauty... was actually bearable, if only because of the songs and the fact that there was more anthropomorphisation than you could shake a French candlestick at.

- posted at 1:23:08 AM :: feedback

Thursday, January 3

It's a rollover

I went to Norfolk for a few days to celebrate new year with some friends from university. There were eight of us there in a converted barn at the end of a dirt track. Snow everywhere. Toasty warm, too, and wonderfully still and quiet.

The exodus began on Saturday--I picked up John at around half nine in the morning and we headed off down the motorway for what should've been a five-odd hour drive via Kettering (to pick up 'tother John from the station) and Cambridge (for lunch). Everything was going more or less swimmingly (or, to be accurate, everything was more or less going like a 90 mile an hour speeding fish in open seas), we arrived in Kettering and Cambridge earlier than we expected and would've been the first to arrive at Cromer.

Note the would've in the above sentence. As we told the girls in the other car heading up from London, it wasn't really a race, it was just that if we got to the barn first, we would have just been exhibiting our superior driving and navigating skills. So, of course, when we were busy zipping down the A14 out of Cambridge and getting ready to approach the speed of light around Norfolk, we were quite put out when we were greeted by a few miles of metal sculpture in the form of several hundred not-quite-immobile-cars.

Bluntly, traffic jams suck. Accidents suck. Fuel tankers that putter along and then inexplicably catch fire and explode, requiring wholesale road resurfacing suck. It was at this point, whilst lolling in the driver's seat with John in the back practically passed out from boredom and John in the front exhibiting more and more frustration at Liverpool's performance against West Ham, that a man wearing a railtrack jacket zipped down the between the two lanes on a motorbike.

Three lights switched on in the car at that moment: between us, we were desperate for a coffee, a bag of crisps and maybe some sandwiches. What if some enterprising soul used all the wonderful realtime traffic data we have now to mobilise a fleet of pizza-delivery guys who, well, delivered not only pizza from their magic keep-things-hot bags, but coffee and snacks, too? And delivered them to bored drivers stuck in traffic jams?

They'd make a killing, that's what.

Anyway. We lost the race. Good job it wasn't a race, but we managed to make up around twenty minutes of time and arrived at the barn ten minutes after the girls did.

When I feel like writing more, you'll probably hear about what happened when the boys went out to the boiler room...

- posted at 5:11:47 PM :: feedback

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