Other Bits

I bet you miss the warm glow of gaslight, too.

Now there's been a ban on the import and manufacture of 100W incandescent light bulbs, some people are stockpiling boxfuls of them. Apparently the new CFL bulbs aren't bright enough, and don't look pretty.

Silly, silly people.

Are you the same people who, after getting their crate of incandescent lamps home, will then proceed to install one in a light fitting, proudly proclaim "that EU ain't gonna make me use those new-fangled electrickermajiggies, what with their billionth of a glimmer loss of brightness!" and then hang a hulking great lampshade on it?

I know there's a dimmer problem. The new bulbs don't work with existing dimmer switches. This should change soon, though. Also, I would question why you need a dimmer in the first place. Surely you're either in the room (light on) or not (light off)?

Okay. Did your housebuilder helpfully install light fittings that only have enough room for bulb-shaped bulbs? Fine, stockpile away for now until the fittings get replaced. Do you suffer from a medical condition aggravated by fluorescent lights? Fair enough. Do you have a dozen different incandescent bulbs dotted around the room in out-of-the-way hard-to-see places? No excuse. It's a wonder any light even gets to where it's needed in your house. Get rid of them all. The job can quite easily be done with one decent CFL dangling from the ceiling. Perhaps if you didn't clutter up your rooms with pointless light-precluding junk you wouldn't need hundred-watt bulbs in the first place.


The 2p was the hardest to get.

And barely a year after they first came into circulation.

The fight scenes were easy, though.

Cheating. A bit.

Lesser-known games of the nineties...

Prince of Peugeot

He thought it was a clever way of beating the time limit, but he forgot about those collapsing floorboards. To make matters worse, the Grand Vizier has conjured away his AA membership card.

I could never get past the first level without it breaking down, anyway.

Who do you think you are kidding, Mr Griffin?

This b3ta post sums it up.

Sunday: Anti-EU, anti-immigration and anti-pretty-much-everyone-who-isn't-white head thug of the BNP, Nick Griffin, wins a seat in the European Parliament.

Tuesday: Group of anti-BNP protesters decide that the rule about demonstrations having to be peaceful doesn't apply to them.

I'm sure plenty of us would like to pelt the racist idiot with eggs and hit his car with placards, but all you'd be doing is giving him more publicity and more ammunition for his claims that he's being persecuted. Difficult though it is to take up a position which might be seen as defending this man, the fact is that in this case he was the one conducting a peaceful press conference, and the protesters were the ones who resorted to violence. What happened to peaceful demonstration? Leaflet campaigns? Investigative journalism? Not voting for the prat?

Anyway, Griffin used the situation to full advantage in his interview with the BBC, even going so far as to accuse the government of organising the violence, and the Home Office of instructing the police not to intervene. Of particular note is where he rebuffs suggestions that he had links with Oswald Mosley by pointing out that he was, in fact, a member of the National Front.

Oh. Well, that's all right, then...


This happened. Most of the website is gone for now, including the Daily Mail Headlineinator, Spleen Spleen Sploul, and the article comments. I'll restore stuff I've still got as and when.

Without let or hindrance

"... the police are searching for these four men, spotted near a photo booth at the time of the incident."

The public are warned not to approach this man. Not because he's dangerous, but he might rant at you about plants.

It's that time of the decade again where I get to part with £72 for a purple book with a laminated page in it. They haven't quite got to the point where they store DNA on them yet. There's no "spit here" or "please bleed on the dotted line" or "kindly ejaculate in the space provided, ensuring you keep within the box".

Why does the Identity and Passport Service require you to send in two identical photographs, anyway? I understand there might have been a reason for that about forty years ago, when they stuck one photo on your passport with a dab of glue and kept the other one in what must have been the world's largest filing cabinet. But now they digitise them, you'd think they could just make as many copies as they liked.

Comparing with my old passport, it seems I needn't have bothered taking a new photograph if only I'd thought, back in 1999, to take a second one shortly after having received an electric shock.

Then and now. No, that's not the same shirt.

Binary Money

I have too much change.

Coins in piles of powers of two

Dwarf Fortress

If you're one of those people who, when you were about six, designed imaginary multiple-level castles and towers with secret passages, hiding places, complicated traps and levers that operate drawbridges, the game Dwarf Fortress is worth a look.

At first glance, it looks like nethack. It uses text characters to represent objects and creatures, and the world is randomly generated, but it is there that the similarity with nethack ends.

Your task is to manage your dwarves in building a fortress to protect them from harm. This means carving out huge underground complexes with everything they'll need, like bedrooms, dining areas, and store rooms. It also means defending your fortress from invaders by, say, forging a menacing steel spike — no, make that ten menacing steel spikes — and attaching them to weapon traps with which you litter the narrow corridor into your fortress.

It's not the sort of game you can simply pick up and start playing, though. Its learning curve is about as steep as some of the cliff faces in your automatically-generated dwarvish world, so you might want to read this tutorial before diving in head first like a dwarf who's just spotted a well. Also, bear in mind the software is only an alpha release, so the user interface isn't as intuitive as it ought to be.

All that aside, it's still a good enough game that I've spent most of the last week and a half playing it. Not many games are so addictive that when you close your eyes at the end of the day you still see little coloured face symbols jumping around on the inside of your eyelids. If you play it too much you start dreaming about your fortress. Then you wake up with a start in the middle of the night thinking "Of course! What about a ramp down into a loading bay for the merchants?"

Okay, that's probably just me. But still, it's a fun game.

Additional: art student in "finds interesting use for a Skoda" shock. I maintain, however, that that's a Felicia, not a Fabia.

Get A Move On, London

At work yesterday, I was browsing the news as I do every lunchtime. I almost choked on my sandwich when I came across this.

That's right. You know all those people who do their best to get in your way while walking at half your speed? The group of people who expand to fill the width of the corridor, aisle, pavement, or whatever route along which they're making a bad job of proceeding? The ones who are oblivious to everyone around them trying to get past? Well, they pretend to be oblivious, but they know exactly where you are and what you're trying to do — how else can they possibly lurch into your path with such accuracy at the exact moment you try to overtake?

Well, they seem to have suspended their hobby of hogging space-time for long enough to form some sort of common interest group. It's called "Slow Down London", and they're all going to congregate on Waterloo Bridge a week on Friday and get in the way of everyone there.

Okay, so it's a sort of demonstration. Fair enough. You don't have to agree with what they say, but you have to defend their right to say it. It might even have its benefits — assuming a reasonable proportion of London's slow walkers go on this walk, at least it gets them off the streets and concentrates the problem onto one bridge that everyone can remember in advance to avoid.

Now, they've every right to walk slowly across a bridge and take in the scenery, but I would have expected them not to make the elementary mistake of organising the event for the exact same time that the rest of the capital needs to use the bridge to get somewhere. After all, that's what it's for. No such luck - they're doing it in the Friday evening peak. This doesn't look like a simple oversight, either. Their events programme (pdf) even describes it as "a very sloooooow walk at rush hour".

Surely they can't be doing it deliberately? Ah, wait. Note the lack of a comma in their name; it betrays all. It's not "Slow Down, London", it's "Slow Down London". That missing comma is the difference between a friendly admonishment and a call for direct action to forcibly decelerate an entire city.

It's difficult enough without people doing this sort of thing on purpose. When it's quicker to turn round and use another aisle to navigate the supermarket than it is to wait for the idiot ambling along with room for precisely three-quarters of a person to overtake on either side, or when you're walking down the street and you have to sell a dummy to a fellow pedestrian in order to get past, there's been some sort of hitherto unnoticed but now perceivable damage somewhere to society. It's not Capture the Flag, people! It doesn't matter if the person behind you gets to their destination before you do. Being overtaken is not any sort of insult (at least it had better not be, says the Skoda driver). It's just that the overtaker was walking quicker than you and would like to continue doing so. They're not trying to walk into you or otherwise annoy you. In fact, they're trying to do just the opposite, which is made a lot harder when you oscillate left and right randomly like you're playing High Street Space Invaders.

Slow and fast walkers can coexist peacefully. Take the escalators on the London Underground. Some people wanted to walk down them, some wanted to stand. Both are fine. But the standers got in the way of the walkers. So somebody came up with the ingenious convention that standers stand on the right-hand side of the escalator so all the walkers can file down the left. It works. As it happens, I often use the stairs. Slow walkers on the escalator usually make the stairs quicker.

Perhaps there should be a rival movement, "Get A Move On, London". A bunch of people all shuffling behind the throng of slow walkers on Waterloo Bridge, loudly tutting and looking at their watches, campaigning for pavements to be divided into lanes. It works for motorways. Why not pavements?