Archive for May, 2004

Odd noises

Sunday, May 30th, 2004

I don’t know. I go out to one little party, and wake up the following morning to discover the sounds of what appears to be someone moving into the flat next door. Nobody tells me anything around here.

Well, I assume they’re moving in. Either that, or they’re carrying heavy items up and down the stairs just for the craic. And now, I have to go to work. Bleh.

(oh, and Jez – please check if I’m still in bed, asleep, before going out and setting the alarm. Thanks 🙂


(1) It wasn’t anyone moving in; it was the previous owners moving all their stuff out because they’ve sold the flat to my landlady because they couldn’t manage to rent it out.

(2) I’m at work, and no-one else is here. I know it’s Sunday and all that, but I can’t help but feel that this is slightly unfair. Mind you, it does mean I can connect up these nice 7.1 speakers and crank up Everclear very, very loud indeed without any complaining.

Edit 2

Aha, some other people have turned up now. That makes me feel a bit better.

Handy hints

Tuesday, May 25th, 2004

Topic for this afternoon on Metahills has been “ways to improve your emails”. I’ve collected some of the more useful suggestions into a handy list for you. I hope it’s useful to you all: remember, on the internet, politeness is everything!

  • Remember, there’s no fundamental difference between capital and lowercase
  • Commas, may be used, liberally throughout a, sentence.
  • When revealing an exciting piece of information, make sure to use
    appropriate punctuation!!!!!!!???!!!?!!!?!!!!!!1111one
  • On a similar note: How do you punctuate questions again??!!?!??!!!!!!!!
  • An ellipsis should consist of two, four or more dots, and never three.
  • Apostrophes mean “Look out! There’s an s coming!”
  • There/Their/They’re may be used interchangeably. As can Your/You’re.
  • Poof reding is for oter peoplw
  • A simple rule: The more people you send it to, the larger the message
    needs to be.
  • Never say in the body of an email what you can say in a proprietary format
    document sent as an attachment.
  • When sending out emails to more than one recipient, remember to include
    all the recipients in the To: field. Nobody knows what Cc: means, anyway.
  • And remember – always reply to all, too!
  • Always use a generic or irrelevant subject line. Preferably entirely in
    capital letters.
  • Emails go faster if you mark them as urgent.
  • Remember, if you don’t get a reply to your first email, it probably didn’t
    get through. Send it repeatedly until you get a reply, every 10 minutes if
  • It can help to send a faxed copy, too.
  • And post it, just to make sure.
  • Don’t forget to phone to recipient, just to make sure they got it.
  • Everybody likes signatures that are longer than the text of the email.
  • If you think you haven’t written enough, increase the HTML font size
  • Ascii art is a great idea
  • Before, of course. >Should I reply before or after any quoted text?
  • Never crop quoted text – it’s important for context, especially if you’re
    simply agreeing with the original email.
  • If you want to talk about Euros in an e-mail, don’t just say “EUR”. Use a
    Euro symbol. When the mail system asks you how you want to get it to the
    recipient, choose any option you like – they won’t mind downloading the Early
    Egyptian Coptic font package to read your e-mail.
  • When you have an error message on your screen, don’t type the error into an
    email. Instead, take a screenshot, and paste that image into a word document
    for your IT support people
  • The From: field never lies.
  • Sometimes, you might be lucky enough to get a traced email sent by Microsoft – if you forward it to 20 of your friends, they will send you $20!
  • When starting a new message about something completely new, be sure to
    find an old email from the person you’re sending the message to, and make
    sure your new email has the old subject, and preferably some of the old
    content, too.
  • Don’t bother to set your real name in your email program. It’s obvious to
    everyone who is.
  • If you don’t know how to set your real name, see if any of your friends
    do. If they do, borrow their computer to send your message.
  • Everyone loves to receive an eCard, especially if they’ve got music and
    an animation!
  • Protect your privacy! If you give postal address or telephone number in an
    e-mail, make sure you send from country-neutral address and omit the nation
    name and dialcodes.
  • Why not join Plaxo?
  • Mass mailing everyone on the internet is not antisocial
  • Remember: The police always issue safety warnings be email, and never use
    the national or local media for such things, so be sure to forward on any of
    these warnings to everyone in your address book.
  • Never say in black and white what you can say in puce-on-orange italics.
  • Life is too short for english… use txt spk
  • If you want to point someone at a website, either e-mail them with a .url
    attachment, or embed the page in the body of your HTML e-mail. It is
    just about acceptable to attach the page as a .htm to your message. Never
    embed an anchor in your HTML e-mail or, worse, just state the URL in your
    flat-ASCII message body.
  • *Always* point people at a web page with the simple message “This is really
    cool!”. Elaborating, disambiguating, clarifying or contextualising will only
    serve to confuse the recipient.

(with thanks to Clive, dkscully, xhosa, echo, Ryan, Topper, and huggie)


Tuesday, May 25th, 2004

I’ve run out of ideas for books to read. I need suggestions. In the last few weeks, I’ve read the following:

Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre – an interesting read; often quite hard – and uncomfortable – going in places, but funny and ultimately uplifting (thankfully – I don’t think I’d have liked it half as much if the ending I’d expected had happened). The story of how a high-school shooting in the Barbeque Sauce capital of Texas gets pinned on the eponymous main character, and the events that occur as a result; it’s not something I’d normally have chosen to read, but worthwhile nonetheless, if you can work your way through the slightly annoying (over)use of deep south vernacular.

The Life of Pi by Yann Martel – A young indian boy is cast adrift on the Pacific ocean in a lifeboat with a zebra, a hyena, a female orang-utan and a Royal Bengal Tiger with an unusual name in a tale which is simultaneously brilliant, imaginative, unexpected and utterly unlike anything I’ve ever read before. One of the best books I’ve read in a very long time.

The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons by Dan Brown – I’ve lumped these two together because, basically, they’re the same book, just with a slightly different plot. Enjoyable, fast-paced conspiracy theory nonsense; literature it ain’t, but it’s good candy-floss for the brain.

Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco – recommended to me by a friend on the back of Angels and Demons. More Masonic/Illuminati conspiracy theory stuff, but rather better written than Brown’s efforts, much more complex, and much slower paced. The first few chapters are wilfully annoying and self-indulgent, but it settles down after a while into an enjoyable, thoughtful and slightly paranoiac read.

Things my Girlfriend and I have argued about by Mil Millington – I have to confess I found this slightly disappointing compared to his legendary webpage; the places where the book excels are the places where, basically, it’s retelling anecdotes from his Pel’s relationship – ie; the places where it’s like his webpage. That said, those bits formed a sufficiently large portion of the book for it to be enjoyable – it’s by no means a bad book, and it’s nice to have a relationship book written from the man’s perspective for once.

Countless Bill Bryson books – again, candy-floss for the brain, and, hey, everybody likes Bill Bryson.

I’ve already got The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time on my “to read” list, but what else should I be entertaining my brain with at the moment?

EDIT:Aha! – thanks, CliveGerald 🙂

All the way

Friday, May 21st, 2004

More pictures have surfaced, sadly, sickeningly – and unsurprisingly.

US defence officials say that in late 2002, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved a request by interrogators to use some techniques that went beyond normal military doctrine.
However, they add that the changes were later scaled back after objections from military lawyers.

Note that they say “scaled back”, not “revoked entirely”.

He returns

Thursday, May 20th, 2004

So, Andy Kaufman is the new Belle de Jour.

Amos Lee

Thursday, May 20th, 2004

He didn’t get us tickets for Norah Jones, and we had to pay six quid to see him at Matt and Phreds last night. But I’m not bitter, because, frankly, for the calibre of performer he is, six quid is a bargain.

Last night’s gig was a solo effort – just Amos, his guitar and the audience, the soulful, jazzy vibe of his recorded work giving way to a much more intimate, folky, bluesy feel without the backing of a full band. Comparisons to the new breed of jazz singers like Jamie Cullum and Norah Jones are almost inevitable (especially given his current stint on tour supporting the latter), but his sound leans much more towards the soul/blues end of the spectrum than those, with clear folk influences as well – Bob Dylan sits comfortably alongside Stevie Wonder and Al Green in his record collection.

On stage, he came across as nervous and somewhat shy, with a dry, self-deprecating (and on occasion, ever so slightly silly) sense of humour – but, at the same time, he played and sang with an effortless confidence and profiency which belied his quiet and reserved character: there was clearly no planned setlist for the gig, and he was happy to play whatever he felt fitted with the way the evening was going – whilst often unashamedly melancholy, he never strayed into self-indulgence, and he carried the audience with him wherever he decided to go.

It’s a shame, therefore, that the next time we see Lee in this country, he will almost certainly be playing to larger crowds in larger venues, where it will be much harder to achieve the level of intimacy and connection we saw at last night’s performance – as he said at one point in the evening, you can objectify a large audience as a single entity, but when you’re playing to a smaller crowd, you can see them as individuals, and you have to try and make that connection with each and every one of them – and it was that connection that made last night such a fantastic experience.

If you get the chance, therefore, to catch him on his brief solo tour of England, I recommend you make every effort to do so – if last night is anything to go by, it will be a night to remember. A full list of tour dates is available here.


Tuesday, May 18th, 2004

So, they sent me an electricity bill for £500, which I never saw, and which is somewhat larger than my usual bill. In this bill, they also changed my direct debit from £30 a month to £98 a month. Apparently. Because the first I knew about it was when I checked my bank statement just now and discovered a £98-shaped hole where there should have been a £30-shaped hole. I think it’s time to get in touch with my bank and see if these Direct Debit guarantees are worth the paper they’re printed on or not.


Monday, May 17th, 2004

Sail Sports in Cheshire do evening sailing. So, I’m strapping my board to the roof of the car tomorrow and going after work. Yay indeed.

Depressing is..

Monday, May 17th, 2004

…looking out of your office window after a windless weekend to see the trees merrily swaying backwards and forwards in a manner which just screams “today would be unbelievably perfect for windsurfing, you know”. Way to crush my spirit. The weather in this country is utterly useless.


Thursday, May 13th, 2004

The Mirror should probably take more care to vet the 3rd party newsfeeds on their front page in future.