Dyslexic Cryptic Crossword Compiler

Archive for the category “Thoughts”

Breaking Things

Last Friday there was a big(ish) story in the BBC and Media about the convicted paedophile who is requesting his laptop – complete with ‘non-obscene’ images of one of his victims. Dorset Police were quoted in the story as saying it would be ‘unlawful’ to delete/remove those images from the laptop, because they’re not technically obscene or showing nudity.

Now, aside from the fact that there’s something so blatantly wrong with this entire process (and why wasn’t the laptop just removed/destroyed as part of the evidence and ‘proceeds of crime’ bollocks?) then surely this is a perfect opportunity for a tragic IT-related ‘accident’?

Make sure it’s believable, could happen, and is feasible, and it’d be the devil’s own job to prove anything.

For example, a liquid spillage. Or leaving the machine next to – I don’t know – some kind of large magnet. Maybe the metal scanner in a doorway. Or just mis-filed in such a way that a) it can’t be found or b) it got destroyed. Lost property, IT security, avoidance of possibility for divulging person information.

There are many, many ways in which this could’ve never been an issue. The mis-filing and “sorry, can’t find it” would be easiest (and probably hardest to be disproved) but any of them would work nicely.  It’s more of a problem now, because they’ve admitted that a) it exists and b) it’s currently in an OK state. Ooops.


Maybe I’m more aware of it this week, with Death of the Mau, but on my drive to and from work I’ve noticed a lot more dead animals by the roadside this week.

Uncommonly, the great majority seem to be badgers (of varying sizes and ages) which I always find very sad.  At least these are on dual-carriageways, rather than the completely-intact bodies I sometimes see on the edge of other roads. (I’m never quite convinced that these aren’t actually from farmers/people gassing them, and using the roads as a convenient excuse/reason for dead badger, and disposal thereof. But I’m horrifically cynical)

In my opinion it’s always sad to see dead badgers – they’re awesome creatures – but particularly seeing younger ones depresses me.

I suppose it’s that time though, with semi-mature ones making way for new litters and exploring the world, and also post-winter-sleep. (I know they don’t ‘hibernate’ as such, but they certainly appear to slow down significantly over winter)  All the same, you’d hope that a driver would notice a bloody big black-and-white creature lumbering across a dual-carriageway. (I know they don’t, because they have issues noticing other cars, let alone animals. But still, we can hope)


Shelterwood Field Notes notebooksOne of my loves is – as sad as it sounds – stationery. Pens, Inks, and particularly note-pads of various types. I use them a lot in my work, taking notes, keeping track of ideas and projects. Well, that’s how I justify things, anyway.

Recently I’ve been getting savage temptations from a company called Bureau Direct, who have a huge range of everything I love using. I’ve been impressed by their service, their range, and the speed and efficiency of their service. Sadly, their weekly promotional email is like temptation itself.

The most recent addition to my collection arrived over the weekend – a pack of three limited-edition “Field Notes” notebooks called “Shelterwood“.

They’ve managed to get a fine layer of American Cherry wood as the cover – I have *no* idea how they’ve managed it, but they have. The covers are still flexible, but they’re a razor-thin laminate of ‘proper wood’. Naturally, all the covers are different (as you’d expect from wood) and they’re ace. The books aren’t as big as I’d thought they might be – about A6, I’d guess – but that’s fine, and makes them different from my normal notepad-size too.

It turns out that Field Notes do these limited editions on a regular basis – I suspect I may end up with more…

Not Extending

Six weeks in to my new contract, discussions are starting to happen about whether the contract will extend or not.

For the first time in quite a long time, I’m not planning to extend this one – I’ll be happy to finish it and go elsewhere.

Usually I’m good with sticking around, as I generally enjoy the work I’m doing. Here I’m happier to move on – the work’s OK, the people are OKish, but the overall atmosphere just isn’t one I want to continue working in if I can possibly help it.

Since I started, three other developers have left. I’ve been here six weeks, and I’m now the most senior developer on-site. There’s no indication that they’re bothered by this, or that they plan to recruit anyone else. Any contract extensions will be on a ‘monthly rolling’ basis – meaning that as soon as I’ve got one sorted, I need to start getting the next one done. It’s all budgetary bullshit. There’s no willingness to commit to anything longer, no organisation, no preparation.

And that’s going to get them left with a bundle of managers, and no-one actually doing the work.

It’s not the fault of my own team. It’s an institutional issue, something that goes to the core of the management structure, finance department and so on – and it appears that no-one has ever stood up and asked why things are like this, or complained that it leads to loss of talent, knowledge and skills. (Or maybe they have, and then not been renewed themselves – that wouldn’t surprise me)

Once I’m gone, it may be that in a couple of months I look back and think “I wish I’d stuck with it” – but I can’t see that being the case. I think I’ll be better off without the hassle, and I suspect that sticking around here will be more hassle than it’s ever going to be worth to have it as a long-term job on the CV.

And that’s why I think I won’t be extending this contract.


Travel Time

Over the past year, much has been made of the HS2 train route, and how it’ll improve transport links in the UK. It’s absolute balls, as most common sense would tell you.  Mind you, what *would* be useful would be a route going across the country, rather than up-and-down it.

An example…

My current contract is in Cambridge, and I live near Milton Keynes. Road-wise it’s an OK run, takes me 45-60 minutes each way.

But by public transport? Oy, fuck me, what a nightmare. For fun, I had a look.

Milton Keynes -> Cambridge isn’t a direct route (because there’s no ‘across’ rail line) Instead, I’d have to go :

  • From Milton Keynes into London Euston
  • From Euston to Kings Cross
  • From King’s Cross to Cambridge.

Now that is madness – it’d be 3 hours in the morning, and at least two on the way home. (Weirdly, trains seem to run better on the return journey)

And then you get to the real madness. The price. Because it’s a ‘via-London’ route, and at ‘peak time’ the cost was always going to be high. But it turns out that a day return comes to £73.70. Yep, just under seventy five quid. Per day. I don’t pay that for a week’s fuel.

And if you think I’m lying – here’s the screenshot from Trainline.com…



Over on Twitter this morning, I saw this image, a behind-the-scenes photo from Pirates of the Caribbean, showing the actors in their motion-capture suits, that allows CGI stuff to be added afterwards and move the same way the actor does.

Pirates of the CaribbeanNow what interested me the most was that the entire outfit – clothing etc. – was also all applied in CGI. And that had never actually occurred to me. I got that the various faces/tentacles/prosthetics were applied by CGI, but for some reason I’d never clicked that the clothing was all computer-generated as well.

Ain’t progress grand?

Reducing The Impact

While – as per yesterday’s minorly ranty post – I’m not epically green, eco, and wanky about ‘saving the planet’, I do believe in lessening one’s impact where possible.

  • I’m not the kind of hand-wringing apologist wanker who’ll replace an existing working vehicle with an electric car, or a hybrid. I’d rather use my old one ’til it dies and needs to be scrapped/recycled.
  • I recycle what I can, but not obsessively for every separated bit of packaging. Some things just go in the bin. Life’s too fucking short.
  • I don’t chuck away loads of unused food, and all that.
  • The only reason I use more than one bin-bag a week is because of the cat’s litter tray.
  • I’m fucking shit at reducing my annual mileage – mainly due to commuting. Although those longer commutes do (allegedly) help maintain engine efficiency, so *shrug*
  • I *try* to use public transport when it’s reasonable/feasible. It’s just that for a lot of things, it’s neither reasonable to do so, nor feasible.
  • I don’t leave lights/TVs on etc when I’m not using them.

In short, I try to lessen my impact. I’m not perfect, but nor am I obsessively green.

All told, it seems to be a pretty sensible perspective, and generally pretty well balanced.

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