Friday, 29 February 2008


For the last two weeks I have been busy decorating, transforming the orange/green (don't ask) colour schemed kitchen and adjacent 'breakfast' room. The kitchen is finished apart from putting up a shelf and a second coat of gloss on the radiator. It was wallpapered but has now been painted a lovely shade of Dulux 'Sultan' The wallpaper was hiding a multitude of holes and patches so I had to do some filling of holes, sanding and then had to apply two coats of base coat to make it suitable for painting.

The breakfast room is a little more work, it will be wallpapered again and I have had to repair the ceiling due to a water leak last year. Yesterday I spent several hours painting all the woodwork, doors, skirting boards and radiators with ubiquitous white gloss paint.

Why is gloss paint such a horrible experience? It is difficult to clean up after using it and worse of all it smells, oh it smells. Despite having windows open the whole house stinks of the stuff.
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Thursday, 28 February 2008

I am tired today


I woke up this morning feeling absolutely shattered. I am more tired than I did last night. When I did retire to bed I wasn't really tired, but as my wife has to get up early to go to work I did it to minimise disturbing her. I did go to sleep but found myself waking several times during the night, thankfully this time it wasn't due to earthquakes.

Despite my stress levels dropping since becoming semi-retired and having a nice new bed my sleeping patterns are becoming worrying as I seem to be struggling to sleep more and more. I am currently taking Citalopram and a number of side effects are insomnia and other sleep disorders. But I have been taking them for a while now so would have expected any side effects to have shown up before now, perhaps a trip to the GP is called for.

Interestingly I have also noticed that I have started to dream again and have had some rather vivid episodes lately, last night I was being chased across a huge concrete expanse beneath Tower Bridge by a pack of rabid corgis.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

UK's biggest quake in 25 years



Preliminary report from the British Geological Survey

27 February 2008
England hit by Earthquake
The British Geological Survey (BGS) recorded an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.2 (ML) on the Richter scale near Market Rasen, Lincolnshire at 00:56 GMT. The BGS has been inundated with calls from the public, media and emergency services throughout England.

DATE : 27 February 2008
LAT/LONG : 53.42° North / 0.35° West
GRID REF : 509.4 kmE / 392.7 kmN
DEPTH : 5.0 km
MAGNITUDE : 5.2 Richter Scale (ML)
LOCALITY : Market Rasen, Lincolnshire

The epicentre is approximately 4 km north of Market Rasen and reports suggest that the earthquake has been felt widely across England, with reports of damage to chimneys in the epicentral area. Earthquakes of this size occur in the mainland UK roughly every 30 years, although are more common in offshore areas. This is the largest earthquake in the UK since the magnitude 5.4 ML Lleyn Peninsula earthquake in 1984, which was widely felt across England and Wales.
Seismologist Dr Brian Baptie of the British Geological Survey said:
“The is a significant earthquake for the UK and will have been widely felt across England and Wales”.

The BGS records approximately 200 earthquakes in the UK each year on its monitoring stations. Approximately 25 earthquakes in the UK are felt by people each year.

The full press release can be downloaded here

That was an interesting night luckily there appears to be very little damage and casualties. This is the 3rd tremor I have felt in the UK during my lifetime, the others being the big one in 1984, and I vividly remember this one as some book shelves fell down where I was working.

I am kicking myself because I purchased a copy of Electronic Sensors for the Evil Genius book a few months back and had the intention of building a seismograph. There was also plans for another seismograph project in the October 2007 of Everyday Practical Electronics Magazine but the world is full of good intentions!

It was 4.7 - 5.0 on the Richter Scale

The earthquake is officially a 4.7 - 5.0 depending where you check

Reports at
GFZ Potsdam
EMSC European-Mediterranean Seismology Centre
USGS United States Geological Survey

The British Geological Survey Seismology site appears to be suffering overload at the moment

It was an earthquake

It has been confirmed it was an earthquake (just seen it on Sky TV news) and all the uk seismology websites appear to be down at the moment


Just been woken from a deep sleep by a weird sound (thought it was something rattling the roof) turns out it looks like an earthquake just hit...

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Well we met Jake but it didn't go too well!

As I posted earlier we popped along to see Jake and he seemed a really nice little friendly dog, unfortunately when it came to meeting Charlie and Boris he turned into a terrible terrier! I think he got a bit nervous, being on the lead didn't help, and he decided to give Charlie a little nip to his tail! So it was back to the cage for poor old Jake.

We met another sweet little dog Gizmo but I haven't given up on Jake just yet! We are making a return visit on Saturday so the wife can see him and the plan is to take him for a small walk and meet the boys on neutral ground to see how they get on.

Going to see this little chap today


Meet Jake, this little fellow is currently resident at the Mill Rescue centre and is looking for a new home and I might just be able to oblige. Today I am taking Boris and Charlie for an Agility training session. One the way back we are dropping in to meet Jake and the people at the rescue home.

Monday, 25 February 2008

More Douglas Coupland Novels - "The Gum Thief" and "Hey, Nostradamus!"


Just had a nice cup of tea and finished reading The Gum Thief the latest novel by Douglas Coupland. My interest in Coupland's work was triggered by the JPod TV series and the original novel I recently read.

I found JPod to be very accessible probably due to the technology based subject matter but this book was a little more work. I suspect I have got out of the habit of reading and when I have read in the past it tends to be the usual sci-fi or horror genre.

Never the less, The Gum Thief is filled with clever observations and Coupland's sense of humor. The plot, and there isn't one really is about an overweight 20 something Goth girl (Bethany) who develops an unlikely friendship with an alcoholic, aspiring author (Roger) when she finds his journal and starts corresponding with him. Roger is a mid-40's burnout working a customer service job at a Staples. He is divorced, still in shock from the death of one of his children, and trying to find meaning in a life that's over half gone.

The book is made up entirely of documents written by the characters in the novel including Roger's journal entries, his novel in progress "Glove Pond", letters, creative writing essays, and email messages. Something called an epistolary novel I have since discovered. Bethany and later on her mother DeeDee convince Roger to finish "Glove Pond" which is frankly terrible, and initially I found these parts difficult to read, but perseverance paid off.

The Gum Thief is a work about growing older and coping with life when things don't turn out the way you planned. It is also about loneliness and isolation and highlights the way that people can often express ourselves more openly with strangers or on the written page.

Whether I would recommend this book I am not sure, but I did find it a worthwhile read.

Interestingly design house Crush Inc have created a series of video projects based on the book that appear on Coupland's own website.


The other Coupland book in my local library was "Hey, Nostradamus!" which I finished reading on Saturday, my wife has commented on my rediscovered love of books. I have not watched much TV of late, probably a reaction to losing the satellite TV. Actually enjoying sitting reading, listening to music and drinking the odd class of whisky in the evening.

Hey Nostadamus! is apparently Coupland's most critically acclaimed work. First published in 2003 the novel comprises of four first-person narratives, each from the perspective of a character directly or indirectly impacted by a fictional 1988 school shooting in suburban Vancouver. The novel touches on many issues, including adolescent love, sex, religion and grief. For a plot summation I suggest you read the wikipedia entry.

I found the first narrative, which described the actual shooting from the viewpoint of Cheryl one of the victims, the most engaging but must admit I found the other sections a bit hard-going and not very enjoyable. I did contemplate giving up and re-reading it at a later date.

I think I will give Coupland a rest for now and will hunt out a copy of Microserfs to read in the future.

Saturday Night - Toby Carvery


After the upsetting events of last week it was nice to put them to the back of the mind over the weekend. It would have been my Dad's birthday last Wednesday and since he passed away we have celebrated his life by having a family evening out. So on Saturday evening we went to the Toby Carvery on the Broadway in Walsall.

Before that I took my Mum down to the cemetery to place some flowers on his stone. My mother commented how dreary cemeteries look this time of the year and she is right. It seemed deserted and the trees are simple skeletons of wood devoid of leaves and many of the graves were decorated by brown dead, rotting flowers and wreaths from Christmas. Thankfully in a few weeks it will be a bit more colourful as people come with flowers for Mothering Sunday.

Back to the meal out, I can recommend the Toby Carvery for £5 (before 6pm, we got there a few minutes before!) you can have a hearty meal You can choose from one or all of three roasts: Beef, Honey glazed gammon and turkey. Then you help yourself to as much freshly steamed and roasted vegetables, home-cooked Yorkshire puddings and sauces and gravies. You can even go back for more Yorkshires, stuffing and vegetables. We also had starters, which cost extra, but five adults were completely stuffed for less than £10 a head.

Thanks to my brother for paying!

pictured at one of our previous visits

Friday, 22 February 2008

Lunchtime drinks at the Castle Barge

Lunchtime drinks at the Castle Barge and the chance for Mark and Adrian to play the fruit machines, me I decided to get another round in. Two pints of Cocker Hoop on a empty stomach and I am feeling hungry, think I will spend the afternoon reading and listening to music.
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Who Moved My Blackberry


Just finished my latest book, courtesy of Nottinghamshire Libraries, Who Moved My Blackberry is an interesting novel. The story is told from the viewpoint of the main character, Martin Lukes, in the form of email messages to his boss, his secretary, his wife, his son, his career coach and his best friend.

The character of Martin Lukes was first introduced by Lucy Kellaway in her column for the Financial Times. Her column has poked fun at management fads and jargon and celebrated the ups and downs of office life.

I have never read the Financial Times, or read Kellaway's column and I admit the geeky reason I picked up the book in the library was because it had the word Blackberry on it.

Martin Lukes (listed as the co-author), is a forty-something middle manager striving to break into the top ranks of corporate life. He is viciously ambitious, he thinks he's great fun, he thinks he's got a terrific sense of humour, he is desperately un-PC and is absolutely clueless about his shortcomings.

It took me a while to get into the style of writing, and I have never actually experienced the business environment described, but it was worth the effort as it is very funny.

You can read an excerpt here.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Insanity Works

I have decided that Please Ignore will concentrate on my observations of life, culture and society and have forked off the technical stuff to my new blog at InsanityWorks I hope to expand the InsanityWorks site in the future as my main portal, to include my projects and homebrew electronic and software experiments.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Dad would have been 73 today


Today my Dad would have been 73. Sadly he passed away in 2003 after a long fight with cancer. My Dad was always larger than life and his death has left a huge hole in our lives.

My Dad spent over 40 years working for Garringtons Ltd in Darlaston in the Black Country, Garringtons was for many years the largest producer of forgings in Europe.They produced all kinds of stampings at the large factory that grew on the site. Over 100,000 tons were produced annually for aircraft, shipbuilding, railways, agricultural implements, mining equipment, and road vehicles.

I have been digging through some old photographs and negatives and found these pictures taken sometime in the last 1950's - early 1960's (I have been unable to make out the year from the calender in the background). The one above shows my Dad working in his 'office' sometime after he had been promoted into a foreman role, he was so good and enjoyed his job that he never left the factory floor. I remember the respect he had from his co-workers and at his funeral was humbled by the number that made the effort to attend, despite their advancing years.


When I was young I would sometimes go down to meet Dad coming out of work and it really was like visiting Hell. Through the mesh 'windows' you could see the glowing metal, feel the heat, smell the fumes and dust. But it was the noise that was frightening, it was deafening as the forgers hammered out their products. Dad paid heavily for his career, he became almost deaf and suffered tinnitus due to the lack of H&S regulations in the earlier years.

When the factory was in operation Willenhall Road would vibrate as the large stamping machines operated. The thumping noise from the machines could be heard some distance away. People living in the nearby houses got so used to this that they felt very uncomfortable during the summer break when the works closed for a fortnight.

Sadly Garringtons has long gone and so has most of Darlaston and the heavy industry has disappeared a victim of the 1980s, but I did find this excellent history of the factories that were the lifeblood of the area.

Garringtons Logo

The Garringtons Limited Logo above shows a proud lion holding a forged crank shaft and piston rod. My Dad would always say proudly whenever we saw a Land Rover or Range Rover on the road that his factory had made those parts. He once went on a corporate visit to Land Rover and his trip around their off-road testing course in those vehicles was an anecdote he would regularly regale us with.

Making mum feel safe

Yesterday I visited my mother following her recent ordeal. As you would expect aged 74 she is feeling a little vulnerable. I paid a visit to the local DIY superstore and purchased a few security products. Then I spent the rest of the day fitting them.

Most importantly I have installed a decent door chain which should prevent anyone from forcing entry when she opens the door. I have also installed a rudimentary alarm system and a cctv camera. So hopefully this will deter any would be thieves.

I also stressed to her the need to follow the simple advice "If in doubt keep them out!"


Tuesday, 19 February 2008



The second film review in as many days!

I awoke really early this morning, 3:30am to be precise, a combination of an early night a glass or two of Caol Ila and a troubled mind considering the events of yesterday.

So I went down stairs put the kettle on for a nice cup of Yorkshire tea, and fired up xbmc on my xbos to watch one of my recent downloads. I had spotted Spiral in the newsgroups the other day and after checking the imdb entry decide it sound interesting enough, especially as some one had commented "Office Space meets Hitchcock" However after viewing the only similarity to Office Space is the main character works in a office in a cubicle.

Spiral is in fact a well-acted, intense thriller about a lonely, troubled and delusional young man who is haunted by powerful inner demons. The main character of Mason, played by Joel Moore is a telephone salesperson working for a large insurance company. Mason is detached from the rest of society, he speaks to no one other than his customers and is plagued by debilitating episodes of anxiety, panic and confusion with disturbing flashbacks of a former girlfriend.

His boss (Zachary Levi), and his only friend, is a confident, arrogant womaniser who knows the circumstances of Mason's tragic past. Mason meets a young female co-worker Amber (played by the beautiful Amber Tamblyn) They meet on a bench outside the office one lunchtime because neither of them want to be in the canteen, Mason is uncomfortable around people and Amber because she doesn't like the furniture.

Amber notices Mason's sketch book and learns that he is a talented painter. Amber slowly gets Mason to open up by forcing him to engage in conversation and she begins modelling for him. Slowly a tentative romance blossoms between them and Masons confidence grows with Amber's encouragement. However Mason's feelings of dread and paranoia are never far away.

The cinematography in Spiral is outstanding. Sudden, vivid images from Mason's mind leave the viewer in no doubt as to the level of turmoil and terror he suffers. Mason's grey drab cubicle workspace, and the gloominess of the city and it's seemingly constant rain is contrasted by the rich colours in Mason's artistic world with Amber's beauty and personality shining through.

I watched the film wearing headphones and the sound editing and mixing are stunning, the sounds and effects during the flashbacks and Mason's panic attacks gave me goose bumps. The jazz score is worthy of mention as it is integral to the story. I did a bit of research and it seems the producers of the film assembled a jazz band to literally just play along with the movie, recording everything they did, and that’s how the score came to be.

I won't say any more about the story as it would spoil the plot, if you want a few more reviews check the imdb page.


Monday, 18 February 2008

My Web 2.0 Makeover!


I am still mega angry over my mum's robbery and it has taken the shine off today's retail therapy event.

It's been over 4 years since I brought myself some new spectacles and they were quite frankly falling apart, so been off and got myself some new ones! I took advantage of Boots' 2-for-1 offer so in addition to the boring/obligatory wire framed ones I opted for a pair of web2.0 designer styled ones!

What do you think?

Thats me talking to my mum on the phone at least she has cheered up a little now.

My mum has just been robbed!

Words cannot express the anger I feel at the moment, my younger brother has just telephoned me apparently my mum has just been robbed!

Details are sketchy at the moment but it seems someone came to the door posing as someone to read the gas meter and then as she opened the door kicked it in sending her flying backwards to land on the stairs and then grabbed her handbag and fled.

Seems this pond scum managed to get away with keys, bank and credit cards and some money. I just hope he overdoses on what ever drugs he buys with it.

My mum used to have a large German Sheppard dog for company who sadly was put to sleep a few years back after suffering an epileptic fit which it wouldn't come out of. Perhaps I should get her a replacement!


The police are currently with her along with the soco but they are probably just pissing in the wind.



This weekend I found time to watch Control which tells the sex, drugs and rock'n'roll story of Ian Curtis, the lead singer of post-punk band Joy Division, who committed suicide in 1980 at the age of 23.

The story is told in sombre monochrome and is the directorial debut of the Dutch photographer and graphic artist Anton Corbijn. Corbijn has explained in several interviews why he chose to use black and white. He argues that the collective memory of Joy Division really is in black and white. "All of the photographers who shot Joy Division at the time made black and white photographs and the band themselves expressed their music in black and white sleeves. My own impression of England at that time, in the late ‘70s, was a very grey country. For all these reasons, I thought it was accurate to make it like this."

My own personal memories of the late '70s is more brown and orange captured on Kodachrome, but many people still had black and white televisions and it does add some kitchen sink realism to the real life drama being told.

Joy Division largely past me by when I was a lad and I only discovered them following the success of New Order who rose phoenix like from the ashes of this tragedy.

The film is a fairly minimalist account of Curtis' life (played by Sam Riley). He was an intelligent, dreamy working-class lad growing up in Macclesfield. He shows a talent as a poet and his ambitions and hopes became focused on a pursuit of art and literature, eventually culminating in music. Curtis had many influences such as the writers Allen Ginsberg, Joseph Conrad and by the musicians David Bowie and Iggy Pop, these are shown by passing shots of his book shelves and posters in his bedroom.

Only 19, he falls in love and marries a local girl, Deborah (played by the wonderful Samantha Morton) he earns his living as a clerk at an employment exchange. Despite it being a potentially mundane job he is shown to be a caring thoughtful individual in a number of scenes, one involving a mentally disadvantaged, but charming boy and one powerful encounter with a female job-seeker who has an epileptic fit in his office (going on to inspire his song 'She's Lost Control')

Curtis goes on to join the band that would become Joy Division after meeting his three fellow group members at a gig in Manchester. There is very little sense of fun or elation in the band's success, first playing locally and then touring after being signed by Tony Wilson's Factory Records label it is depicted as a dreary existence lived in a haze of booze and drugs.

Curtis discovers he also suffers from epilepsy a condition that steadily gets worse and unfortunately at the time was treated with a trial and error cocktail of debilitating drugs which compound his growing detachment and depression.

Following the birth of their baby Natalie the marriage begins to break-up, Curtis' depression increases and the combination of the marital problems, an affair with a beautiful Belgian journalist Annik Honoré, his epilepsy and an increasing fear of public performance lead almost inevitably to his suicide.

Curtis kills himself shortly after recovering from a seizure after downing a bottle of scotch while watching Werner Herzog's depressing movie Stroszek on television and listening to Iggy Pop's, The Idiot.

While the story may be depressing, the film is a visual and audible feast, the monochrome cinematography is some of the best I have seen and the clever use of music and Joy Division's own songs add depth and understanding to the story, for instance the segment using "Love Will Tear Us Apart" (the lyrics are perceived to reflect the problems in Curtis' marriage) is sublime.

The film has been criticised by some for being a bit thin and lacking in explanation of Curtis' mental state but personally I feel it is better for not trying to second guess his state of mind. If anyone should know what drove Ian Curtis to suicide it would be his wife Deborah and the film is based on her own book Touching from a distance and she is one of the producers of the film.

I recommend anyone to watch it.

Patronising Sign No 263

This particularly patronising sign greeted anyone using the gents toilet at a local equestrian centre. If they really aim to please then I would ask why the toilet lacked paper either for wiping or drying your hands and no hot water!

These signs your idea of sophistication and social commentary? Like to spend your holidays shopping in Blackpool gift shops? Then pop along to Laughter Revolution as you might expect it's done in flash and has a particularly irritating introduction splash screen.

Also it occurred to me that there are container ships traversing the oceans of this world loaded up with this sort of rubbish made by some poor souls in China. The quicker Gaia gets her act together and wipes out the human race the better.

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Tuesday, 12 February 2008

I hate Incredimail!


I am old enough to remember when sending HTML formatted email was considered a serious crime, unfortunately it is now it is an accepted practice in the online world. However I am still of the opinion that it is still evil and so are other people.

If you really want to send a message that cannot be conveyed in plain text, then send it as an attached document in your format of preference.

I am pragmatic enough to accept it's use is now widespread and there is nothing I can do to prevent it but I don't accept the fact I have to tolerate the horror that is IncrediMail.

This hideous piece of software seemingly beloved of AOL users, tacks on a huge animated GIF on the end of every mail they send, as well as ridiculous animated versions of emoticons.

Free animations for your email - by IncrediMail!

It proudly announces and to the right of this text is a button labelled click here despite the entire animated image being a link. Further along we come to the animated cartoon elephant! This obviously brain-damaged pachyderm continually raising and lowering his trunk, mouth agape in a ridiculous smile. All that is missing is an animated droplet of drool out of the corner of it's mouth.

If you are the sort of person who thinks stone cladding on a Georgian red-brick terrace house adds value and putting gnomes in your garden and having black and white painted cartwheels fixed to the side of your house scream sophistication then you should really pop along to their website

Sunday, 10 February 2008

JPod - Douglas Coupland


It has been a long time since I have sat and earnestly read a book but I rediscovered this delight over the weekend. The book in question being JPod by Douglas Coupland.

I discovered Coupland and JPod via the current CBS television series which I spotted in the torrent lists. I haven't read any of Coupland's books before but he appears to be something of an artist and commentator on modern culture and JPod carries on this tradition.

JPod the book is a satirical take on current geek-culture, be it the geek-culture of a few years ago, a life-time in todays technically advancing world. To plagiarise the wikipedia entry
Set in 2005, it concerns a group of video game programmers whose last names all begin with "J". They live and work in a development "pod", which they refer to as the "jPod", within a company that Coupland has described as "resembles, but legally no way is Electronic Arts", located in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. As in Coupland's other novels, the characters can be said to face issues that define their era.

The novel is presented in the form of diary entries maintained on a computer by the narrator, similar to a previous novel from Coupland, Microserfs (1995). In fact, JPod can be seen as "a 21st-century sibling" to this novel, in the "Google age". Microserfs centred on a group of friends working for Microsoft who started up their own company.

I can highly recommend it, it is funny, poignant and clever.

For some much more worthy and clever reviews I suggest you check out the links on Metacritic

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Red Sky In The Morning



Opened the bedroom curtains this morning to a glorious sunrise, not sure why there is the marked colour difference between the two pictures. As with everything looks can be deceiving

A red sunrise reflects the dust particles of a system that has just passed from the west. This indicates that a storm system may be moving to the east. If the morning sky is a deep fiery red, it means a high water content in the atmosphere. So, rain is on its way.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Bad weather closes Newark market


I almost forgot to post this picture I took last Friday (1st February 2008). Taken with my Motorola L6 phone it shows the empty market square in Newark. Seems the high winds experience that day were too much for the council's health and safety officiers and they feared market stalls taking off so cancelled the market.

I walked in early to get my fruit and vegetables as I do every week and was somewhat bemused along with everyone else to see the empty square. I had to go ask the bored looking gentleman in the yellow jacket to ask him what was going on, to be honest it was blowing a gale and could understand the issues. One drawback was I had to go to Waitrose to buy some outrageously expensive and frankly awful quality fruit and veg to tied me over the weekend. As well as the price I was also shocked about how little of it came from the UK.

Tomorrow I am off to try the monthly farmer's market for the first time. I have never been able to before because of work. May take some pictures and report back.

Oh Shiny! - Artec T1 Digital TV USB Adapter


This is my latest technology purchase an Artec, T1 Digital USB TV adapter. I was in Lincoln on Saturday and popped into PC World and spotted this tatty looking box, it had been shrink wrapped with a label pointing out it was a customer return and missing the driver disk, but for £12 I thought it was a risk. I have a computer with an old PCI Hauppauge analogue TV card but it isn't capable of picking up the DVB digital TV channels. The government is in the process of turning off all the analogue TV services by 2012 so needed to be prepared, well thats my excuse!

The basic description from the website

"The Artec USB Digital TV Box provides a portable digital TV setup box that allows you to enjoy a crystal digital TV signal at home, in the office or on the road using your laptop, even whilst traveling in the car or train. Quick installation though USB - no external power adapter required.
Provides not only a real-time digital terrestrial TV signal but real-time recording of digital TV programs, letting you keep the movies or sports matches onto your computer's laptop. You can even schedule recording so you don't miss what you want to watch while you are away.

- Supports DVB Protocol
- Digital Terrestrial and Radio Program Recording
- Real-Time Digital Video Recording
- Schedule Digital Video Recording
- Still Frame Capture
- Screen OSD
- Channels Auto Scan 6/7/8 MHz
- Channel List
- Remote Control

- Input Terminal: 75 Ohm Din
- Receiving Frequency: 48.25 ~ 863.25 MHz Tuning Range"
Opened up the box and everything looked good, all seemed to be there, minus the driver disk.


Came with a little bag so you can protect it if you take it away with a laptop it also had leads, remote control and an antenna.


The antenna has a magnetic base but the previous owner had obvious been a little clumsy and snapped off the mast, but to be honest I think you would be better off with a damp piece of string.


The box itself, about the size of a cigarette packet, connected up to USB and external antenna with power applied.


It was trivial to find the driver and application software on the Artec website and to install, but the installer seems to be in a different language (suspect Taiwanese) so just kept clicking what I assumed was the NEXT>> button!

Well it works, it stuttered initially and pictures were out of sync with the sound but discovered that was due to it updating the EPG, once that had been completed it seemed fine. Can pause, rewind live tv and can record both TV and Radio programs using a scheduler. The few tests I have done have shown no glitches or break-up.

After doing a little hunting around it seems it can be driven by some other apparently better software, so may try that out on one of the other computers I have lying around, I will post any details on here.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

You got a workplace jerk?

This is a subject close to my heart at the moment, well when I say close it is more like a painful sliver of Kryptonite embedded in my chest, but I digress, The McKinsey Quarterly has an interesting article about workplace jerks and their effect on a company, it is also available as downloadable audio file and well worth a listen, here are a few choice quotes;
Researchers who write about psychological abuse in the workplace define it as “the sustained display of hostile verbal and non-verbal behaviour, excluding physical contact.” At least for me, that definition doesn’t quite capture the emotional wallop these creeps pack. The workplace jerk definition I use is this: do people feel oppressed, humiliated, de-energized, or belittled after talking to an alleged jerk? In particular, do they feel worse about themselves?

... there is a business case against tolerating nasty and demeaning people. Companies that put up with jerks not only can have more difficulty recruiting and retaining the best and brightest talent but are also prone to higher client churn, damaged reputations, and diminished investor confidence. Innovation and creativity may suffer, and cooperation could be impaired, both within and outside the organization—no small matter in an increasingly networked world.

... bad things happen when the bullies win using personal attacks, disrespect, and intimidation. When that happens, only the loudest and strongest voices get heard; there is no diversity of views; communication is poor, tension high, and productivity low; and people first resign themselves to living with the nastiness—and then resign from the company.
The McKinsey Quarterly is the the business journal of McKinsey & Company a world renowed business and management consultancy firm. It may not be an obvious choice as a website for a "techy nerd" to browse but does occasionally have some interesting articles, for instance that have an interview with Mozilla's Mitchell Baker about open source innovation as companies are now reaching beyond their old boundaries to find and develop ideas.