One of my photos

Kindness of strangers

October 30th, 2017 · Posted by Skuds in Life

With all the doom, gloom, mayhem, and atrocity in the world at the moment It is worth pointing out that not everybody is bad.

Last week our boy lost his wallet in the leisure park. He only realised when he was sat down to eat with his kids and assumed he dropped it in the arcade, perhaps putting it on top of a machine, but a search of the bowling alley and arcade turned up nothing. He called the bank to get his debit card cancelled and wrote of the forty quid of cash.

Fast forward a day and he gets a call from Santander. They have somebody who has brought his wallet into the bank, but they can’t touch it because it has cash in it, which seems a bit strange. What happened was that somebody found the wallet, but the only ID in there had an out-of-date address on it. They went to that address in Broadfield, twice, to try and give the wallet back, but when it was obvious our boy didn’t live there, they went to the police station, where they couldn’t or wouldn’t help. After all that, they tried the bank that issued the debit card as a last resort.

So Jayne rushed the boy into town where he was reunited with his wallet. All the cash was still in it, and the finder would not take anything as a thank you, despite the amount of effort he went to. He just asked our atheist son to pray for him and didn’t even give his name so all we know is that he is a muslim who works at the leisure park.

I’m sure the Daily Mail would take this as yet another example of foreigners not integrating into our culture and treating it as a £40 bonus, but we were all very chuffed.

Oh, and the wallet was not in the bowling alley but outside, very probably dropped when he popped outside for a smoke so maybe it is just another example of how smoking is bad for you.

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The car in front

September 13th, 2017 · Posted by Skuds in Life

I think I remember that there used to be a series of adverts with the punchline “the car in front is a Toyota”.

Yesterday I drove about 250 miles, mostly on motorways, which is about 250 miles more than I would normally drive in a day and I realised that the old adverts were actually pretty true. Most times the car in front was a Toyota. To be precise it was a Toyota Yaris and the reason it was in front was because it was doing 60mph in the third lane and it was impossible to get past it.

I hope they reprise the adverts but change them to “the car in front is a bloody Yaris. Again.”

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Accident waiting to happen

September 11th, 2017 · Posted by Skuds in Life

I am starting to think that Jayne and I are both a bit accident prone. Just recently I have concussed myself on a kitchen cupboard door and stabbed myself with a fork while washing up.  I have also taken chunks out of my leg twice manouevering my bicycle around the house. And I don’t want to think about how many times I have electrocuted myself. I lost count after the first few times. Meanwhile Jayne’s latest acheivement was to fall down the stairs yesterday. The second time she has done that while I have been with her.

Fortunately this did not involve a trip to A&E like the last time. On top of everything else we had to put up with the fact that every time they had her alone, the staff kept telling Jayne that they do have a domestic violence unit and now that I know that is their approach I find it very hard to not look guilty if I take her into hospital.

All I can say is that one sound that is guaranteed to get you flying out of bed a lot earlier than intended on a Saturday morning is <BUMP> “fuck!” <BUMP> “fuck!!” <BUMP>”fuck!!! <THUD> <MOAN>. I should have recorded it as a ringtone for my alarm because it got me moving a lot more effectively than any of the other sounds I have tried.

I was quite relieved that it was just a swollen ankle, because it sounded a lot worse.

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The wheels on the casegoround and round

September 9th, 2017 · Posted by Skuds in Life

Ryanair got in the news again this week (BBC) and for a change I think I sort of agree with one of their policies. Sort of.

Basically they want passengers to check wheeled suitcases into the hold rather than have them in the cabin. I have never flown with Ryanair, but I have been on Easyjet enough to get thoroughly fed up with the amount of crap that people seem to think they just can’t do without for a few hours. As far as I am concerned you take hand luggage with you and, by definition, if it has wheels on it then its not hand luggage.

Mind you, I am not so sure about the exception for priority boarding customers. Priority boarding must be one of the biggest cons because as far as I can see there is no limit to how many people can pay that extra. I have seen Easyjet flights where nearly everybody was a priority boarding customer so effectively they were back where they started.

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Three little words

September 2nd, 2017 · Posted by Skuds in Life, Technology

I am finding the website endlesslessly fascinating, especially the map part of it.

Basically it is a concept for a geolocation system. The whole world is overlaid with a grid of 3-metre squares and each square has a unique name made up from a combination of three randomly-assigned words. The idea is to have a uique identifier for any place so that even somebody in a favela without officially recognised or designated streets can have an address. It is also supposed to be easier to remember and communicate than map grid references. [Read more →]

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Nothing new

September 2nd, 2017 · Posted by Skuds in Life, Work

The other day at work I was really chuffed for a couple of hours. Chuffed because I came up with a phrase that I was really pleased with. Only a couple of hours because I Googled my newly-coined term and found that it was not so new after all, and several places were already using it.

I don’t think it is necessarily getting harder to come up with completely new ideas, but it is getting a lot easier to discover that your new ideas are only new to you.

The term I came up with was ‘organisational jenga’. I was referring to a situation where we had somehow allowed everybody in one part of the department to leave before lining up any replacements and then managed to get most of the rest of the department to all go on holiday at the same time. I siad that we were playing a game of organisational jenga, where management keep pulling blocks/people out to see how far they can go before the tower/company collapses. It is always good to vent a little bit.

It turns out that quite a few training companies use the term organisational jenga for team building games that are supposed to show how an organisation’s many parts are all inter-dependent and removing one can adversely affect all the others and the totality of the structure.

Mind you, its a good name for a band.

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August 30th, 2017 · Posted by Skuds in Life

Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory

I just finished reading a book called Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory. The paperback is out in May 2018 but it is available in hardback or for the Kindle now.

There are two things that you can put in a book description to make me run a mile. If the description starts with “One woman’s journey..” I will normally stop reading straight away. The other red flag for me is any suggestion of telling the story of a family across the generations.

Well this book is the story of a family across three generations, but it turned out to be a great read. [Read more →]

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Random nostalgia

August 30th, 2017 · Posted by Skuds in Technology

Today I remembered, for no particular reason, Serif PagePlus. With the benefit of hindsight I think it may be my favourite bit of software ever. At the time it was truly remarkable. It seemed to do just about all the things that high end DTP software would do, or at least all the things a normal person would want to do, and it cost peanuts. It ran on a 386 or 286, or whatever primitive PC I had back in those days and it came with a whole disc full of extra fonts. [Read more →]

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Mind the gap

August 25th, 2017 · Posted by Skuds in Music, Technology

Most of the famous gaps in Spotify’s library have now been filled, with Pink Floyd, the Beatles, Kraftwerk, Pink Floyd, Metallica all becoming available with a lot of publicity, and the Prince back catalogue reappearing after his death. I think Jay-Z is largly unavailable because he has his own rival streaming service, and a few artists like Taylor Swift and Adele may or may not be missing but I noticed a few other unusual gaps, and I know I have gone on about this before.

Slade is the biggest and most frustrating gap that I know of, but yesterday iI fancied listening to Alberto y Los Trios Paranoias and they are completely missing. Not a single track on there.

What other black holes are there in the Spotify library?

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Radio 6 Music

August 21st, 2017 · Posted by Skuds in Music

I tend to leave my car radio and bedside radio tuned to Absolute Radio 70s, but Radio 6 Music was the real reason I wanted to have DAB available to me. Well, that and Planet Rock.

The main reason why I do not have R6M on when I want to sleep is also the reason why I like it. The sheer unpredictability of it. Tune in and you can never be quite sure whether you will be hearing thrash metal, jazz, folk or anything in between. Tune in Absolute Radio 70s and you know you have a 50% chance they will be playing More Than A Feeling by Boston.

That is the sort of predictability you probably need when you are sleeping. All of this is because the other day I decided to just listen to the radio for a while. Not while reading a book, doing the crossword or checking Twitter; just listen to the radio. So I put on Radio 6 Music and the first two tracks played were Captain Beefheart, followed by Abba. Is there another channel that would dare to do that?

It would have been a better story if Radio 6 had been playing Boston when I turned it on, as I am sure they do sometimes.

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