It honestly never occurred to me that my site might be so badly-constructed as to cause this many problems. I’m being an enormous pain to my host, so am going to do some testing offline + different servers etc. to try and track down exactly what’s breaking.

Probably won’t be around for a bit, and if the site keeps crashing we’ll take it down entirely, but anybody interested can follow my twitter updates.

Materialism Ra!

Abi and I headed to the Peak District this morning with a guide book and walking boots. We hadn’t anticipated the skyrocketing temperature, and the 4 miles felt more like 8, but it was fun times. I was amused by the car park’s ‘ice cream van’, which appeared to be a guy who owned a white van, some stickers, a tub of Tesco’s Finest, flakes and a scoop.

We walked past a house with a belltower. A belltower! This is my new ambition. Or at least it’s added to the Ambitious List of Things to Own. Which now looks like this:

  • A cuckoo clock. A proper one made of wood. Mechanical rather than electronic.
  • A ship in a bottle. A big one. Must be a real ship, not a yacht or the QE2 or something. With painted sides, mermaid prow and (if at all possible) little men engaged in piratical endeavours. Alternatively, Kandor.
  • A working paper clock. This was on my list for a long time, and I now have one! It just doesn’t work yet.
  • A bezoar, because a) they’re cool and b) they gross people out. Preferably a Gaimanesque version from a girl with Rapunzel syndrome.
  • A Franklin-style armonica. I would obviously learn how to play it.
  • A dog.
  • A wunderkammer to contain said objects, except the dog because that’d be cruel and it might eat the bezoar. This can now be inside:
  • A house with a belltower. Imagine! I could ring the bell to bring the cats in, or whenever there was a particularly great episode of Lost, or if the local mosque was being too loud. I could set up the alternative quartlerly bell-ringing chimes, with snappy melodies from popular showtunes, or Suzanne Vega records. 

Man, I want a belltower.

P.S. You have no idea how close Mork and Mindy: The Board Game came to being on this list. I may yet edit the post.

Microsoft announce ad-supported version of Works

Microsoft makes most of its money from Windows and Office, and are under increasing pressure from competitors. Not for the OS: Linux is nowhere close to prime-time1, but there are plenty of Office competitors out there. Offline there’s OpenOffice.org, which emulates many of Word and Excel’s major features, while online are the simpler but incredibly easy-to-use Google Docs / Zoho, which are far superior to their offline counterparts when it comes to sharing, portability and backup.

So, Microsoft today announced its move: a free, ad-supported version of Microsoft Works. By the end of the year.

Works. You remember. The crappy word processor and spreadsheet that people use until they find that Word / Excel can’t actually read Works’ default file type. With adverts. Adverts. Who bought Works anyway? It was always bundled with new PCs, and any salesman worth his salary would flog an upgrade to Office.

I think the web 2.0 reaction is: weaaaaak. How about an online version of Word, with all the extra functionality it offers over Google Docs etc., that people pay £5 a month for? Or a cut-down version of Word itself? Or an ad-supported version of Office, for non-commercial use? Anything but Works.

  1. most recent problem: no networking, which turned out to be because I’d gone to the network dialog box via the menu system instead of the system tray icon. The same dialog box. Fixing it required editing text files. I rest my case []


I’m sure many are aware that Facebook can be diverting. It’s tempting to log on every hour and see what people are up to, but I try to resist until the evening, and am usually successful. Its applications have added to the timewasting potential, but nothing, nothing, comes close to the addiction that is Scrabulous. It’s ridiculous. I’m sure I could have been playing online Scrabble for years if I’d wanted, but I’ve never had the urge. Now I can’t stop. Facebook friends challenge me to a game, and I simply must play. I had to drag myself away from it this afternoon. I haven’t even won a game yet. I wish to complain that the dictionary doesn’t contain ‘alm’. This is all your fault, Nod.

Applying for jobs

Not to be too dramatic about it, but I have two financial crises on the horizon. Well, they used to be on the horizon, but have now climbed my neighbour’s fence and are currently drooling onto his dahlias. My fixed-rate mortgage is going to end in September, and it’s going to go up a lot. And come next February I’ll have a large tax bill to pay. I’ve been living fairly close to the edge for a while now and it’s been ok, but I haven’t a hope of coping if nothing changes, so it is therefore time for me to get a proper part-time job. Which is fine and will be a blessed relief. It’ll also give me a little extra capital, and it’ll be nice to buy books without feeling guilty.

I’ve applied for jobs at the local library before, and as it happens they recently announced two full-time vacancies. But, I can’t pull that off once my university course starts in whenever (I haven’t heard anything since the acceptance letter, which is getting worrying). Happily there are a couple of other options. Today I applied for insanely cool dream job. Really, it would be fantastic. I’ve no clue what my chances are, but if I have no luck I’ll apply for a part-time post at the local Jessops. I was going through all sorts of I’m-24-I-should-be-past-retail-work silliness for a while, but I now think it’d be a good job, particularly if I’m doing the photography degree at the same time. It’s within walking distance and I’d at least have some idea of what I’m talking about. And, you know, discounts 🙂

Ugly, ugly email disclaimers

What do you think of email disclaimers? The kind that say things like:

This confidential e-mail is for the addressee only. If received in error, do not retain/copy/disclose it without our consent. You must delete it immediately and return it to us. Please do not infer from this communication that we like you. We are not responsible for any damage caused by a virus or alteration by a third party after it is sent. Outgoing attachments are scanned prior to leaving our server but they are opened at your own risk and you are advised to scan incoming email for viruses before opening any attached files. Don’t think we won’t sue your ass. We give no guarantee that any communication is virus-free and accept no responsibility for virus contamination or other system loss or damage of any kind. Nothing you do is our fault. Nothing that happens is anything to do with us. Emails are not necessarily secure. Opinions held within this document and/or attachments are those of the author and not necessarily those of the company. We as a company operate under a groupthink principle, and no advice or help given by an individual is of any use whatsoever. We as a company take no responsibility for anything, but demand money nevertheless. Even this disclaimer is not to be trusted. It may have been altered by a third party. Any advice given herein should not be followed without consulting appropriate legal counsel.

I hate them. They repeat themselves, clog up inboxes, are normally all HTML, make email conversations ridiculously hard to follow, must take up insane amounts of bandwidth and have the air of businesswank. I also find them dubious. I send an email to the wrong person, and my telling them to delete it actually has any legal bearing? And surely there must be rules regarding the liability of a virus-laden email – does saying ‘it might have, but it’s nothing to do with me’ make any difference? I am not a lawyer, but that sounds dodgy. Research suggests that they’re advisable rather than legally binding, but nevertheless it seems OTT.

One of my clients has been told to put these ridiculous things in their emails, and it looks dreadful. I’ve recommended they put a link to disclaimer text hosted on their website. It’s still a bit of HTML, but far better than all that kak. Of course, nobody’s going to read it. But nobody reads it anyway, so what’s the difference? But maybe I’m wrong – any opinions?