Archive for September, 2007

I was tagged by Jack on the grounds that I’ve “not done a meme for a while”.

Total Number of Books Owned

According to my LibrayThing profile, 858. I know I have at least one more to add to that list and I’d also need to subtract the 27 tagged as !borrowed or !sold. So 832. Minimum, as there may be more hiding somewhere that I haven’t added yet.

Last Book Bought

A couple of out of print role playing games from eBay. Last ‘real’ book would appear to be Clarissa Oakes by Patrick O’Brian which I found in a bookshop in Amsterdam and made Lettice buy because I’d only just bought something else there and the shop assistant was a bit on the scary side.

Last Book Read

I finished re-reading Human Nature this morning. I’ve been wanting to refresh my memory since the TV version came out. The book is bloodier and does a better job of creating the historical context. However it does have a number of elements that are really superfluous and which the TV version correctly ignored.

Five books that mean a lot to me

In reverse chronological order in my life:

  1. Life by Richard Fortey

    I bought this whilst on holiday in Tennessee visiting and so it reminds me of a great time as well as being a great book. Fortey takes a look at the history of life on Earth from the moment if started to the dawn of human history. Richard Dawkins did the same trip backwards in The Ancestor’s Tale but for me Fortey’s book is more engaging.

  2. Ships of the Star Fleet, Volume One

    Very, very geeky. But as well as being one of the best Treknical fandom works ever it’s also the first book I bought online.

  3. Thieves’ World

    I could have listed several works of fantasy or science fiction that I read during my adolesence – The Lord of the Rings, Dune, the Pern novels and The Colour of Magic prime amongst them, but this collection of low fantasy stories set in a seedy city at the arse end of an empire is the one that stuck in my mind the most.

  4. The Warlock of Firetop Mountain

    I was the pefect age for this when it was first published. And from this book sprung my interest in RPGs and wargames. It has a lot to answer for.

  5. Read About Me and the Yellow-Eyed Monster

    A childhood treat – a book with me and my family and my friends in it.

Four People You’re Tagging With This Meme


“It was a mix of dark humour and horror

The CD I made didn’t work on the player at the crematorium.

So the drag queen came on to Ave Maria rather than Get The Party Started.”

I worry that I may look like this a lot of the time...

I know own three SLRs. As well as a Canon AE1 that I bought with a student loan to replace an older model that failed to survive a fall, I have a Canon EOS 100 and, as of yesterday, a Canon EOS 10D. The last two are inherited from my father who has an even more impressive collection of hardware (I suspect that being a Canon fan is an inherited trait).

The 10D is a digital camera, my first. Yes, I’ve finally joined the twenty-first century (well sort of – my MP3 player is broken, I don’t see the point of Twitter, and I still hate mobile phones and hardly ever use mine). Though, from the look of the self-portrait over there, I belong in distinctly more paleolithic times.

Via Pharyngula, I really hope this is a spoof1 but Marry Our Daughter has to be seen to be believed.

1. The Testimonials page more than edges me towards that opinion2.

2. See also Snopes.


السعودية تبني سوراً بمليار دولار على الحدود العراقية; الخل يساعد في الكشف المبكر عن سرطان عنق الرحم

I love getting spam in random languages. I also love cutting and pasting rtl into an editor. You never know what DEL, BACKSPACE or the cursor keys will do.

Oh, and I love seeing how well people’s RSS readers cope…

For the second time I got an invite to do a YouGov survey, only to discover after a couple of questions that it was about the work of my employer.

Oh well. 50p is 50p and I did ‘fess up in the free text answers.

Dreadful first half. Much more promising in the second half.

Why is the South Africa match on ITV1 and the Wales and Scotland matches on ITV4? I don’t think I’ve ever watched ITv4 before, the reception is, predictably, only adequate. (I live very close to the Crystal Palace transmitter, is my dreadful digital reception due to interference from analogue signals? In other words will things get better or worse when they switch the analogue signal off?)

Oh, and need to get a clue. System requirements to watch the match online are:

  • Windows
  • Internet Explorer
  • Flash 8
  • Windows Media Player 9

I have all that, but why should I need to use IE and WMP when I have far superior alternatives? This is 2007 and insisting that people use a precise combination of four proprietary technologies is so last century…

Do ITV actually want anyone to watch the Rugby?

There’s a film about to open (on my birthday as it happens) called Shoot ’Em Up and the posters for it have infested bus stops all over London. And everytime I see them something niggles me. The problem is that the posters, indeed all art for the film that I’ve seen, use a left single quotation mark in place of the apostrophe .

(Yes, anyone who examines the code of this page will see that the only way to produce a typographically correct apostrophe on the WWW is to use the right single quotation mark character – it’s a long and messy story and I won’t go into it now except to note that the typographically incorrect but now traditional ‘apostrophe’ ' is now recommended for SEO because that’s what people are able to type into search forms.)

So I’ve managed to have two weeks off work and not make a single blog post. Okay I was out of the country and off the www for three days but still, it’s shocking.

Have I turned into one of those bloggers who only posts to talk about how they’re not posting? Oh dear.

Things I’d like to write

  • A collection of the things I discovered during the site redesign project – mostly new (to me) IE bugs and Ajax gotchas and XSLT moans. This is started and every so often I open up the draft and a stare at it a bit.
  • The tutorial on HTML tables in the CSS age that I mentioned mumble months back.
  • All about my holidays – Lettice and I have managed long weekends in Dublin, Dover (don’t mock, the castle is amazing) and Amsterdam (see below) this summer but I’ve hardly said a word about what we got up to.
  • My continuing investigation of social networking sites. I’ve reviewed Bebo and Friendster and have Orkut, Yahoo 360 and probably a few others to come. (I’m not doing MySpace and FaceBook beacuse I was already members there and it wouldn’t be a like-for-like comparison). Also something about Rapleaf/Upscoop.
  • Um ….
  • … the rest of this list…

Some quickies

The world cup starts today. Wales don’t really stand a chance. Fingers crossed that they don’t fuck up the group matches and finish second behind Australia. Then it’s England or more likely South Africa and that’s probably that.

I’m not sure about the new White Stripes album.

I fixed the broken shower. This makes me feel all manly and capable and productive. :-)

Amsterdam has a ridiculous number of shoe shops – be aware of this fact if you plan to take your wife or girlfriend there. Also, as everyone speaks English there are a number of English language bookshops and even the Dutch ones have English sections, and apart from Waterstones (which presumably is supplied and priced like a UK branch) the prices are good.

Speaking of books, I attended the launch for Stuffed and Starved by my old university mate Raj.

A war between an authoritarian government and a set of independent planets. The central government wins. Our heroes were amongst the fighters on the independent side. Meanwhile a remote planet is devastated by a chemical that causes the population to become wildly violent. Not actually a summary of the background to Serenity but actually the background to the old roleplaying game Living Steel that I picked up from eBay recently.

Oh, I’m flogging some stuff on eBay. Only Star Wars miniatures at the moment but I hope to list a few books and vids plus some other miniatures over the weekend.