One of my photos

In the McThick of it

May 31st, 2015 · Posted by Skuds in Politics

The SNP sitting in the Commons.

The SNP sitting in the Commons.

Since they had their spectacular success in the recent general election, the SNP have supplied two very potent images.

One was when they all turned up for the Queen’s speech wearing matching floral buttonholes and the other was the debate where theygreatly outnumbered all the other parties.

That second one was strange because the chamber is almost empty and yet they are all squeezed together in the section they have settled in, despite there being plenty of room for them to spread out if they wanted to.

Both of these images, especially the second one, just made me imagine that all the SNP MPs actually live together in one giant house, and do everything en masse. Surely it is only a matter of time before somebody does a The Thick Of It-style sitcom anout the SNP and if they do I think it should have the surreal flavour of the old Vic & Bob sketches about Slade, where they all shared one house.

I have this mental image of all 56 of them going to the supermarket together to stock up the kitchen, having a big yellow double-decker to ferry them to and from Parliament, and either phoning Dominos to order 56 pizzas (with extra toppings for Salmond’s) or trying to book a table for 56 at the local Bella Pasta.

If somebody at Channel 4 does not commission such a programme then there is something very wrong with the world.

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Pop Quiz

May 21st, 2015 · Posted by Skuds in Music

A quick question. Here is a quote from Music Week in 1973

Peter and Mary were almost pushed off stage; girls fainted in the traditional fashion, floodlights and coppers’ helmets were knocked over – and you could hardly hear XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX singing for the fans’ frenzied screaming.

What is XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX replacing?

Hint: you know the first thing you thought of? It isn’t them.

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But I did go to Specsavers!

May 19th, 2015 · Posted by Skuds in Life

Came home from shopping the other day and only then noticed that I had picked up a tub of mango pieces (which I am not keen on) instead of pineapple (which I am very keen on).

And this is a couple of weeks after going to Specsavers!

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Technology nil, Skuds 2

May 19th, 2015 · Posted by Skuds in Technology

I got my user ID and password for the Town Hall network today, so I popped in after work and got myself all set up so I can now get to the emails from home. That is going to make everything a lot easier from now on. I think I got to it in the nick of time, before the backlog built up too much. Only 44 emails since the account was set up the other day.

When I got home I had a much tougher challenge – sorting out Jayne’s World of Warcraft account. What made it even more fun is the fact that I have never played the game. The situation was that the program that apparently runs everything,, would not run. The Blizzard support people had said it might be a US version and it would be best to uninstall it and re-install the EU version so I tried to do that and soon ended up in a real vicious circle.

The program would not uninstall. An error message said that applying the patches to bring it up-to-date first would enable the uninstall. Already it was sounding a bit strange – upgrading software just so I can delete it. I tried, but the upgrade failed, saying there was something wrong and that the best solution would be to uninstall the whole thing. Catch-22!

I tried everything that Blizzard suggested and still no joy. I had basically given up, but noticed that AV had been turned off, and was out-of-date anyway. I downloaded some new AV software, installed it, and straightaway it detected some threats and removed them. Nothing too serious, just some adware crap. On a hunch I put back all the system settings I had changed and rebooted the PC, after which everything was fine and World of Warcraft was back in working order. As a bonus, there are a lot fewer pop-up adverts in Firefox now.

Yet again, having the lucky touch seems to trump technological knowledge :)

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Not lost in translation

May 19th, 2015 · Posted by Skuds in Life

Reader on the 6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent

Reader on the 6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent

As I have mentioned before, one of my favourite things is to get hold of pre-publication proofs of new books, especially if they are well-written and a pleasure to read. Last week I read just such a book – The Reader on the 6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent.

Apart from anything I think the writer deserves a prize for having the most French name imaginable.

One of the best aspects of the book is the unpredictability of the story, which is something I always like. For me it has the sort of feel that the film Being John Malkovich has, where everything is just a little bit quirky. The difference is that everything in this book is at least possible.

Because a large part of the enjoyment depends on those little surprises, I won’t spoil the pleasure for anybody else by giving any of them away, except for the starting premise. [Read more →]

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Electile dysfunction

May 9th, 2015 · Posted by Skuds in Politics

The last day or so went by in a bit of a blur, with frantic last-minute campaigning, the election day stuff itself and then the two election counts and a disrupted sleep cycle. As I am not any sort of political expert, there is zero chance of me composing a reasoned and erudite essay about what happened, so instead I’ll just spew out a few random thoughts and observations from the whole circus, probably not even in chronological order. [Read more →]

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Tactical voting

May 5th, 2015 · Posted by Skuds in Politics

Sky News were talking about websites that facilitate vote-swapping for people wanting to vote tactically this year, like VoteSwap and Swap My Vote.  I have been lucky in that I have never lived anywhere that tactical voting would have applied for me, Labour has always been 1st or 2nd so a pro-Labour vote is the same as an anti-Tory one, so I never had to decide whether to vote with my head or my heart.

The amazing thing is that people up and down the country are doing all these calculations, second-guessing what others in their constituency will do and what people in the rest of the country might do and yet when there was a referendum on AV, which would have solved all that, politicians were telling us that it would be ‘too complicated’ for the public to understand.

Sounds to me like AV is easier to understand than what people are actually doing.

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Back from the dead

April 10th, 2015 · Posted by Skuds in Life, Technology

It has been an exciting day today for various reasons – the council published the lists of candidates for next month’s elections, I picked up my new glasses so I can read the list, and I managed to give the kiss of life to my Nexus 7 tablet. [Read more →]

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Mystic Ivy

March 6th, 2015 · Posted by Skuds in Life

Today we went out to Essex for our second funeral of the week. This time it was Auntie Ivy. In terms of strict biology she was not actually my auntie, but on the other hand she was because she was sort of everybody’s auntie, having had 105 years to accumulate honorory nephews and neices.

Despite her remarkable age, I think we were still all a little surprised that she died. At one of her birthday parties she said to me “who would have thought I would get to 104?” and I told her that when we went to her 103rd birthday party we thought there was a fairly good chance. Thats the way statistics work, once she reached 103 she was more likely to reach 104 than I was, and when she reached 104 she was more likely to reach 105, and when she reached 105 there didn’t seem to be any reason why she wouldn’t reach 106.

So why ‘Mystic Ivy’? Nothing supernatural about it. When she started slowing down a bit in the 1990′s Ivy became more reliant on her walking stick, and she was foever calling out “where’s me stick?” and so a nickname was born.

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I’m not a racist but…

February 28th, 2015 · Posted by Skuds in Life

…I think my mobile phone might be a little racist, even if only inadvertantly.

I was adding somebody called Gurinder to the contacts on my phone and it auto-corrected it to “Grinder”. Seriously though, why on Earth should auto-correct be enabled on fields for names?

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