Log on:
A Scran service

remix :: Friends blog

October 15, 2009

A postie's view of Royal Mail's problems

I've always found it hard to believe that mail volume had gone down, given the explosion of mail order & online auctions. Number of items, maybe, but certainly not weight or physical volume.

Also, privatisation and de-monopolisation has to be done the right way, or it's just asset stripping, and leaving the unprofitable but essential parts of the business still at public expense, but without the profitable parts of the business to offset them.

When I was little and lived on the continent, the postie had a trolley with large bags hanging off it, rather than a shoulder bag. I'm not sure if I've ever seen such a thing here, but I imagine it'd be far healthier for the workforce, and possibly allow workloads to be increased less destructively. Then again, the management probably wouldn't want the capital expenditure on trolleys. :D

Keywords: royal mail

Posted by Sven Edge | 0 comment(s)

October 04, 2009

The latest in my "Google didn't have the answer, but will in future" series.

Winamp recently added a jarringly ugly and pointless button to take you to AOL's page about the current track's artist. (Parent company sales/marketing types foisting something on the subsidiary, no doubt.) The Modern skin doesn't have an option to remove it the way the Bento skin apparently does. It can be done by editing the Skin's XML, though.

1) Open C:\Program Files\Winamp\Skins\Winamp Modern\xml\player-shade-group.xml in a text editor. Notepad will do. You might want to back up the file.
2) Find the <groupdef id="shadeticker" section.
3) Change x="40" to x="29" three times, and w="-44" to w="-33" twice.
4) Find the <groupdef id="shadetimer" section.
5) Comment out the nowplaying button and shadelinks script tags. (Add <!-- before the button tag, and --> after the script tag.)
6) In the timer entry immediately following, change x="18" to x="7".
7) Save, and restart Winamp.

Basically, you're hiding the button, and moving everything else left 11 pixels, assuming the units are pixels. The changes will probably get wiped out on upgrading Winamp, but ho hum.

Keywords: skin, winamp

Posted by Sven Edge | 0 comment(s)

August 24, 2009

XKCD - Tech Support Cheat Sheet

Keywords: xkcd

Posted by Sven Edge | 0 comment(s)

August 06, 2009

A case in point:

Keywords: databases, freedom

Posted by Sven Edge | 0 comment(s)

July 31, 2009

The NIR is the database behind ID cards, that could easily still exist without ID cards. Given endless lost government laptops and data, let alone the life altering effects of data entry mistakes, corrupt officials or hackers ("Sorry, the database says you're dead. Go away."), it's the larger problem behind the ID cards issue than just the bit of plastic.

While there's a certain irony in giving your name and address to campaign against a database of such information, a petition:

Keywords: freedom

Posted by Sven Edge | 0 comment(s)

July 23, 2009

The other night, I finally discovered Wordle for myself. Looking for a corpus of text to try it against, I thought of Scran. I pulled out the text of 1000 random records and pasted them into wordle. Amazingly, it didn't kill my browser.

Wordle image

More here.

With a bit of effort choosing font and colour scheme, it might be possible to make a nice poster, at least for in the office.

Keywords: scran, wordle

Posted by Sven Edge | 2 comment(s)

July 15, 2009

Somebody Youtubed us marching this weekend at the Willich Schutzenfest.  I'm in the front row, 2nd from the left.

PS.  The band rehearses on Monday nights in Edinburgh.  We are often looking for new brass, woodwind and percussion players and have instruments available for loan.  Contact Barry on 07949 589 796 or see our Facebook page if you're interested.

Keywords: brass, Central Band of the Royal British Legion Scotland, Germany, legion band, marching band, percussion, Willich Schutzenfest, woodwind

Posted by Kate O'Hara | 0 comment(s)

June 03, 2009

I don't understand it when people will follow fashionable practice, but get the basics wrong.

In this case, a site had gone to great lengths to avoid using HTML tables, in places where I'd consider them perfectly justified under the guidelines, but had managed to make a site that didn't render in IE6, didn't validate as *any* version of HTML, and was full of spelling mistakes.

Keywords: best practice, html

Posted by Sven Edge | 3 comment(s)

June 02, 2009

Would anyone care to offer their suggestions of good tracks to listen to when running/jogging/galumphing?  (I do the last one.)

I think "Human" by the Killers might be a beaut.

Keywords: jogging, running, songs

Posted by Kate O'Hara | 2 comment(s)

May 08, 2009

How long till RCAHMS staff get detained as terrorists? :D


Yet another example of the kind of world mindlessly following rules creates.

Posted by Sven Edge | 1 comment(s)

April 17, 2009

Another post for the benefit of Google and/or when the same happens in a few months and I've forgotten how to fix it. (Again. :)

One of our Linux servers was refusing to boot, just sitting at the aforementioned "Attempting boot from hard drive (C:)" message. Long story short, the GRUB bootloader needed to be reinstalled.

However, while booted into a rescue image, grub-install didn't solve the problem. It wrote the error "expr: non-numeric argument", but claimed not to have encountered any errors actually installing the bootloader. Rebooting showed that it hadn't fixed it.

It turns out that running grub's shell thingy instead works. e.g.
[root@hostname ~]# grub

GNU GRUB version 0.97 (640K lower / 3072K upper memory)

[ Minimal BASH-like line editing is supported. For the first word, TAB
lists possible command completions. Anywhere else TAB lists the possible
completions of a device/filename.]
grub> root (hd0,0)
root (hd0,0)
Filesystem type is ext2fs, partition type 0x83
grub> setup (hd0)
setup (hd0)
Checking if "/boot/grub/stage1" exists... no
Checking if "/grub/stage1" exists... yes
Checking if "/grub/stage2" exists... yes
Checking if "/grub/e2fs_stage1_5" exists... yes
Running "embed /grub/e2fs_stage1_5 (hd0)"... 23 sectors are embedded.
Running "install /grub/stage1 (hd0) (hd0)1+23 p (hd0,0)/grub/stage2 /grub/grub.conf"... succeeded
grub> quit
[root@hostname ~]#

Keywords: bios, boot, booting, bootloader, grub, hang

Posted by Sven Edge | 1 comment(s)


Keywords: links

Posted by Sven Edge | 2 comment(s)

April 09, 2009


Posted by Sven Edge | 0 comment(s)

March 27, 2009

This pleases me.  Could be used to develop mouse control I suppose.

Games at Miniclip.com - Doeo Doeo

Touch all of the Doeos quickly as you can.

Play this free game now!!

Keywords: Doeo, games, Miniclip

Posted by Kate O'Hara | 0 comment(s)

I'm interested and excited to see that teachers down South are threatening to boycott primary school SATS tests.


SATS testing seems to take place primarily for the purpose of publishing league tables.  League tables are presented to misinformed parents as a way of measuring the performance of schools (in fact they measure the performance of children and take no account of the differences which occur between children from different sorts of backgrounds).  Subsequently, well-meaning parents, typically the more financially and socially wealthy, are guided by league tables to choose schools where children are performing well, typically those attended by children from less deprived backgrounds.  Even discounting private education, this results in a two-tier system with an excluded underclass of schools, separated by an ever-widening gap from 'better performing' establishments.

For these reasons, I'm right behind the NAHT and the NUT on this one.

Keywords: league tables, NAHT, NUT, SATS testing

Posted by Kate O'Hara | 0 comment(s)

March 26, 2009

I can't remember the last time I blogged.  Actually, I've just looked back and it seems it was many months ago, and it was all about stuff that was annoying me.  So, instead, today I will share some things that are making me happy:

1. As of 5pm this afternoon, I'm off work on hols til a week on Monday!  Yahoo!  It's been a very long time since I've felt so in need of a holiday.  March has been insanely busy at work, with loads of different things going on - and I've been working a lot of nights.  So roll on 5pm!  I'm off down to Bristol to visit my cousin on Saturday, then we're off for a girlie holiday to Centreparcs at Longleat - which, I'm reliably informed, is great when it's outwith school holidays and weekend (nae weans) - which it will be!  I intend to swin, steam, sauna-it-up and, hopefully, enjoy a bit of nice weather, if we're lucky?

2. Since the last time we spoke (?) I have taken up running.  Stop laughing.  No, STOP laughing.  This is the truth.  I did a beginners' running course back in October (starts with running 30 second spurts, and builds up to 20 mins non stop after 8 weeks) and I now manage 30 minutes 3 times a week.  And, weirdly, I quite enjoy it.  So I'm off for a run in the sunshine after work today - although not looking forwward to braving that cold wind.

3.  I am an auntie! My sister's baby, Isla, was born back in January.  Being an aunt is pretty cool.  You get to do all the cuddling and fun stuff, but hand her back when she cries / poos / wees - and you can also just leave when you get bored Smile

4. I have discovered a few more good eateries.  Firstly, on the recommendation of Graham, I went to Sarti's in Glasgow a few weeks back and it was one of the nicest Italian meals I've had in a long time.  Mother India Cafe, here in Edinburgh, is a very welcome addition - I've raved and raved about the original MI in Glasgow - this is the Edinburgh branch, and it's bloomin' excellent.  Another Glasgow one: Grill on the Corner (amazing meat dishes).  The Roseleaf in Leith - fab Sunday brunch option.  And, this evening, I'm meeting the girls for dinner at the Tailend Fish Bar, on Leith Walk, which I haven't tried before, but which is apparently excellent.  It is run by the original owner of the famous Anstuther Fish Bar - arguably the best chippie in Scotland - so I'm expecting good things!

5. I have read some awesome books in the last couple of months.  One of the best was Bad Science by Ben Goldacre.  Amazing book all about psuedo science.  He has an excellent website:  http://www.badscience.net/  Other great books I've read lately include The Gargoyle and The Raw Shark Texts.

6. The Apprentice has started again - yay!

7. I have joined a very successful pub quiz team - with Andrew and Laura - and we often blow the competition at The Abbey on a Thursday night out of the water.

8. I have a gorgeous new green coat

9. I am much happier with Filemaker Pro these days.  We have come to an understanding - we don't like each other, but we'll do our best to get along, for the greater good...

10. I'm on holiday til a week on Monday - have I mentioned that already? Wink

Wow - how weird.  A whole blog posting without one moan...


Posted by Lesley | 4 comment(s)

Update: more here.

Posted by Sven Edge | 0 comment(s)

iBlogger is an iPhone application [NB only works on iPhone or iTouch.  The iTouch does not have  a camera] iBlogger allows you to blog straight from the phone and send pictures to your Scribble Blog and many other Blog Services.

First Download iBlogger for the App Store

The App will appear on your springboard screen. Click any graphic below to see a full size.


Tap to Launch


Initially you will see an empty area under Blogs [this screenshot shows it populated].  To add a new Blog, tap the +


Above shows the first set up screen.  Tap the MetaWeblog arrow >


Now type in your Scribble weblog address.  This one shown is for the user grahamt.  You will insert your own weblog identity.  The easiest way to get this URL is to log on to Scribble and go to your blog.  The address will be in your browser address bar.  Note it down and type here.



It may take a while for this screen to appear.  Now enter your Scribble username and password and Tap ADD ACCOUNT


All your recent Blogs Postings will download.  You can review them by tapping them. To Add a new Posting, Tap the +


The above screen is where you type in your blog.  The icons at the bottom allow you to add pictures and links.



Keywords: iblogger, iphone, mobile blogging, scribble

Posted by Graham Turnbull @ Scribble Hints and Tips | 0 comment(s)

March 10, 2009

I can hear it.  Ya dancer. 

Train Horns

Created by Train Horns

Keywords: deterrents against adolescent loitering, hearing, teenager audio test

Posted by Kate O'Hara | 0 comment(s)

March 02, 2009

Train Horns

Created by Train Horns

i'm over 25, and i thought my hearing was bad due to too much loud-music-in-earphones. apparently not for annoying noises.

Posted by Sven Edge | 1 comment(s)

How Google are getting images tagged to make for a better image search:


It's like a game, but with added altruistic fulfilment.

Keywords: Google, Google Image Labeller, tagging

Posted by Kate O'Hara | 0 comment(s)

February 20, 2009

  • Cover of "Air Babylon""Air Babylon" by Imogen Edward-Jones
    This is from the same stable as "Hotel Babylon" which was adapted for TV.  They are fascinating fictions made up of nuggets of truth donated by insiders in the relevant industry.  This one follows a day in the life of the airport manager of a low-cost airline, one hour at a time.  It's officialy unputdownable.  I'm holding off on reading another one from the series because of the required time commitment.  Read it for an out-loud laugh and jaw-dropping true stories, but don't read if you've ever been rude to a trolley dolly (and don't want to know what went in your coffee) or if you have anything pressing to do in the next 24 hours.

  • Cover of " Alone On A Wide, Wide Sea""Alone On A Wide, Wide Sea" by Michael Morpurgo
    I'm a great believer in judging contemporary books by their cover.  The individuals responsible seem so skilled at pinpointing a book's target audience and designing a cover irresistable to them that I can quite reliably find things I like from a quick scan of the available jackets.  (I love how, in my local library, they sort the books this way and it leads to different shades of rainbow - blacks and foil primary colours in the crime thrillers and lovely pastel pallets in the middle class shopaholic chick-lits.)  I think "Alone On A Wide, Wide Sea" is a children's book but I found it in a school staffroom and the cover told me I'd like it.  It's about a boy who is orphaned and transported to Australia in the years after the second world war.  It has some interesting points to make about children's rights, but mainly it's just a great story.

  • Cover of "On Chesil Beach""On Chesil Beach" by Ian McEwan
    Recently I have read and been utterly devastated by this book.  It's the story of Edward and Florence, an educated but entirely inexperienced couple, and what happens on their wedding night in a Dorset seaside hotel in the 1960s.  I won't go too far into it but it made me laugh and properly weep and took days to wear off.  It's about anxiety and expecation, pride and injury, and the overlapping vulnerabilities of men and women.  Most of all it's about communication and how decisions made in the heat of the moment can change a life forever.  I'm not joking when I say I think this book should be read by every man or woman who is in or ever might be in a relationship.

  • In progress:
    I have just started "The Raw Shark Texts" by Steven Hall as recommended by Lesley and am thoroughly fascinated.  Must go and read it right now...


Keywords: "Air Babylon", "Alone On A Wide, "On Chesil Beach", "The Raw Shark Texts", books, fiction, Ian McEwan, Imogen Edwards-Jones, Michael Morpurgo, novels, Steven Hall, Wide Sea"

Posted by Kate O'Hara | 2 comment(s)

February 16, 2009

I came across a strange crash that was preventing us from upgrading MySQL on some of our servers. Version 5.0.67 would fail to start at all, and give a meaningless "erm.. whoopsydaisy!" level-of-detail message in the error log.

It only happened on one type of machine making me wonder if it was some obscure hardware compatibility issue. However, it occurred to me that the other thing different about those machines compared with our others is that they do binary logging.

It turns out MySQL 5.0.67 doesn't like it when you delete old binary logs the straight forward way, with rm, as we did on a cron job to keep the drive from filling up. (It doesn't delete them automatically if the server is a master.) The *-bin.index file still had references to the removed binary log chunks. Editing out the missing ones made MySQL able to start again.

Ridiculously fragile behaviour and no error detection, but I'm not sure I can be bothered with having to paste all manner of config and someone snottily claiming it's not a bug and whatnot in order to report the bug. So as usual I've posted here for Google's benefit. :)

Apparently the "proper" way to bin your binlogs is this: http://dev.mysql.com/doc/refman/5.0/en/purge-binary-logs.htm

Keywords: 5.0.67, binary log, crash, mysql

Posted by Sven Edge | 1 comment(s)

February 02, 2009

Spend £50 million on a painting, and possibly more on a second one...


Look at them on Scran:


Keywords: saved for the nation

Posted by Sven Edge | 2 comment(s)

January 12, 2009

For compilation errors, see:


Keywords: compilation, compiling, fedora, rpmbuild, shibboleth

Posted by Sven Edge | 0 comment(s)

<< Back