Design Miscellaneous Personal

Apple – you suck!

iPhone 3G SI REFUSE to fall into the iphone 3G S coveting trap…My 3G bought less than 2 months ago is doing me just fine.

It keeps my hands warm when its cold…I get home at a sensible time as the battery life is limited, meaning more good sleep…I edit in my head instead of relying on copy & paste, which translates in a spareness and conciseness of communication… and really, pictures are so much better than video…and who really needs 32GB on a fricking phone? That’s like those people that carry round a massive bunch of keys and don’t know what more than 5 of them are for. Magnetic internal compass? – that’s just silly. Next you’ll say that it has a whistle and an army knife. Oh it does? Well poo poo to you, I can get that for my 3G.

I am FINE with my phone. Just fine. Stop talking about it now please. SHUSH. I mean it. Lalalalallalallalalalalalallaalalallalalala


chicken hutch!

I am now the proud owner of a chicken ‘ark’ – it’s a triangular framed hutch witha run incorporated. It’s very low on the ground and needs serious reinforcements, so its definitely a ‘starter’ home for my future chickens. Apparently ark is accessible and attractive to foxes who caused the end of two groups of chickens. I got the chicken ark from some lovely people that I gave paving slabs to. I gave paving slabs to them for their shed. We got in touch through freecycle.  And I love freecycle. Ah the magical connections…

after an attempt to deconstruct the ark and put the pieces in my car, that failed, I went round with a hand truck. chicken ark huge and heavy and awkward. hand truck tiny. Only one of me, unaided. hot sweltering day. It was not far, and I managed it without too many mishaps, but would like not to have to do that ever again.


Passion Flowering

The First one’s out! Let the explosion begin.


Musing on telephone robots

RobotTo get good service, you need to have a relationship with people, not the company. The company does not have a conscience. People do. You need to disrupt the system a little, reconnect, stay alert, and stay human.

I hate call systems and queues. An attempted simulacrum of human interaction, complete with friendly casual phrases, run by switches and audio files. Non-standard overrides and controls. ‘Representative’ is not in my vernacular. ‘human’ is, ‘person’ is. I want to speak to a person please. Sometimes ‘0’ will get you a human, and sometimes it’s ‘*’ or ‘#’.

Sometimes keypresses outside of the given choices make the robot operator very slowly and pedantically say “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that. Please choose from the following options…”. Sometimes it causes the robot operator to hang up, or moved back a level in the process. Most of the time you have to start everything all again.

I realize that call queues and multiple choice filtering is a sensible way to deal with the high volume of calls, and often the subject of calls can be classified easily. Is this about billing? Change of address? Problems on the line? Fine. How about moving the action to the beginning of the sentence, and being less chatty and verbose? And I need to be able to skip the ‘special notice’ if this is a repeat call.

I am not fully comprehending your options. I am not listening to your special notice. I am just getting annoyed. Shush now. Put me through to a human please and I will try not to scream.

My time is important to me, as my money is very important to you.

I wish I found this article on telephone queues and auto-answering earlier.

More than me phoning robots, I hate it when robots phone me. By law, you have to give permission for companies to cold-call you (Why would you even do that???). I had not. Perhaps the person that had my number before somehow had given the world permission. As it’s now MY number, I have the right to withdraw…right?

By law, when a representative of a company, be it human or robot, phones you, they must provide company contact details.

By law, if you have registered with TPS, its illegal for a company to phone you.

If you’ve not given permission, and you’ve registered with TPS, you can report the company that phones you.

The problem is that if they have not provided company and contact details you cannot report them!

I had an incredibly circular conversation with a lady in a call centre who was phoning me on behalf of a company, CallValue. She didn’t have an address or number for CallValue. She also did not have a manager or supervisor. She also could not tell me the address of her company. It was all very odd. And annoying.


Just for Today…

A little bit of happy hippy dippiness as it’s Friday. I am a lapsed hippy dippy.

lily The secret method of inviting blessings, the spiritual medicine of many illnesses

Just for today:

Don’t get angry

Don’t worry

Be grateful

Work hard

Be kind to others

Mornings and evenings sit in the gassho position and repeat these words out loud and in your heart

For the improvement of mind and body

Shôfuku no hihô, Manbyo no rei yaku

Kyo dake wa:

Okoru na

Shinpai su na

Kansha shite

Gyo wo hage me

Hito ni shinsetsu ni

Asa you gassho shite kokoro ni neji kuchi ni tonaeyo

Shin shin kaizen

By Mikao Usui – Founder of the Usui Reiki method (translation from


Mike Smithson of, please stop spamming my site comments

Mike Smithson


Nice to hear that you can make $5000+ a month just by posting links to Google! Very enterprising of you. I was  also thrilled to hear about your month-long vacation with your brittle angry wife and your whiney child.  Of course I am extrapolating, and it’s doubtful that that is you in the photo. And your name is probably not Mike Smithson. But it’s nice to give that personal touch, right?

When my cash comes through from Nigeria (any day now) I’ll purchase your booklet. I hope you can wait til then!

Please stop spamming my site. I know you think that by playing the numbers game ONE of your comments will get through, but I assure you, I read all comments before approval, as I don’t get many.

Well I do, but they are all from you.

Miscellaneous Personal Technology

Cambridge Gee Knights!

headless chickenOK Cambridge Geek Nights. will be there tonight at the Maypole at 7:30pm. I am excited to meet the people that have strange and wonderful ideas and have the will and brains to follow through – what I think of as Geeks. I.e. not the kind of geeks that bite heads off chickens.

  • Two 15-minute presentations: One of the speakers will be Gareth Rushgrove, Django/Python developer & web geek, with a second speaker to be announced soon
  • A few (2-3) lightning talks: These are short 5 minute sessions to share something you use/do/love/hate
  • Plenty of time to socialise and get to know your fellow Cambridge geeks
  • Oh and there will be beer!
Philosophy Politics

White Flour? White Flowers? Wife Power?

lady2My friend Si told me about some recent interactions with a BNP supporter on a local networking and events site here in Cambridge, We’re All Neighbours. Most of the regulars of the site were being quite tolerant and reasonable, and engaged him in discussion. Si said that this was problem, as reasoned debate gave credence to the point of view, and gave them a platform to express themselves. As ultimately the BNP is a group of racist pricks with little tolerance for other cultures, giving them a platform on a community site might not be the best thing to do. Anyway, everyone got a little upset, and Si ridiculed the BNP member as compensating for his teeny tiny member.

Anyway this got me thinking, what’s the best way to deal with situations where rational arguments don’t work? If you are a touchy-feely everyone-deserves-to-be-heard type of person, do you have to keep respectful and patient? Is it perhaps better to ridicule those that engage in hate speech? I mean, you aren’t going to convince them that their point of view is blinkered, simple and nasty, so you might as well make them look silly and sweaty. Is it ok to skip about lightly, poking fun, while they get angrier and angrier?

Clown Power!
Clown Power versus White Power in Knoxville Tennessee

Ah, so here is the point of synchronicity. A friend of mine just posted this article on her Facebook wall about a 2007 KKK march in Knoxville Tennessee that was disrupted by CLOWNS.

“White Power!” the Nazi’s shouted, “White Flour?” the clowns yelled back running in circles throwing flour in the air and raising separate letters which spelt “White Flour”.

“White Power!” the Nazi’s angrily shouted once more, “White flowers?” the clowns cheers and threw white flowers in the air and danced about merrily.

“White Power!” the Nazi’s tried once again in a doomed and somewhat funny attempt to clarify their message, “ohhhhhh!” the clowns yelled “Tight Shower!” and held a solar shower in the air and all tried to crowd under to get clean as per the Klan’s directions.

At this point several of the Nazi’s and Klan members began clutching their hearts as if they were about to have a heart attack. Their beady eyes bulged, and the veins in their tiny narrow foreheads beat in rage. One last time they screamed “White Power!”

The clown women thought they finally understood what the Klan was trying to say. “Ohhhhh…” the women clowns said. “Now we understand…”, “WIFE POWER!” they lifted the letters up in the air, grabbed the nearest male clowns and lifted them in their arms and ran about merrily chanting “WIFE POWER! WIFE POWER! WIFE POWER!”

I liked this very much. Clowning for good.

Economics Philosophy Politics

Markets and morality

Professor Michael Sandel Reith Lectures 2009
Professor Michael Sandel Reith Lectures 2009

I am listening to the 2009 Reith Lectures – the prospects of a new politics of the common good. How do you create a better society? Kudos to my Ma who sent me this link, following on from a very interesting discussion last night.

A New Citizenship – Professor Michael Sandel

Conventional economic reasoning would suggest that if you want to create a certain behaviour, you create an incentive for that behaviour. Self interest is the name of the game; you either give a reward good behaviour, or you set a fine for bad. Makes sense? The problem is that what starts off as an incentive quickly becomes the norm. Market incentives quickly crowd out other norms, such as social norms of morality.

A child that is given a dollar to read a book quickly sees reading not of value to him or her, but a way to make money. A parent that is fined for picking up their child from school late will start treating the fine as a fee payable to the teacher for looking after their child. In the wider world, the carbon emission trading scheme of the Kyoto protocol was designed to reduce emissions. Unfortunately, some of the worst polluters and environmentally negligent nations are some of the richest, and can easily buy their way out of their obligations.

This is really a fascinating listen. I am looking forward to the next lecture, but quite depressed by what I am finding out.

The Trap – Adam Curtis

Adam Curtis has made a television series on a similar theme, The Trap, how attempts to engineer and regulate society through economics have weird and terrible consequences.

Game theory is a dangerous and broken model for human interaction; a system driven by suspicion and self- interest does result in an equilibrium, but at what cost?


Chicky Boom Boom

I got a women’s clothing catalog today with not only sizes but levels of curvyness. ‘Curvy’, ‘really curvy’, and ‘super curvy’.
Ah, I think I might enjoy shopping at Bravissimo…cos I have me curves.


You’ve got to respect a clothing line that does not obscure the main assets in its print or online materials with words such as breasts, bust, chest or other. No no, they are ‘boobs’. And they are so prettily framed and presented and ruched.