Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Who am I voting for?

I took a poll at Who Should You Vote For and it came up with the following. I always thought of myself as Lib Dem, maybe Conservative as a backup option; this result shows Lib Dem's only 4 points behind Green for my ideal fit party. I would love to be able to vote Green and for them to be realistic hopes, but I also feel too strongly against their policy on some things so it has to be Lib Dem. Mainly, I was for the war in Iraq - I just hate how we got lied to, and I hate how the aftermath has been dealt with by everyone; plus I'm not 100% against foxhunting - my ploy would be to licence it, and require a fair effort to obtain a one-off licence - get the landowners to sign it off as well as the hunt participants, and place limits on how much/what is caught and maybe what happens to the catch.

Who Should You Vote For?

Who should I vote for?

Your expected outcome:
Liberal Democrat

Your actual outcome:

Labour -23     
     Conservative 11
     Liberal Democrat 33
     UK Independence Party 6
     Green 37

You should vote: Green

The Green Party, which is of course strong on environmental issues, takes a strong position on welfare issues, but was firmly against the war in Iraq. Other key concerns are cannabis, where the party takes a liberal line, and foxhunting, which unsurprisingly the Greens are firmly against.

Take the test at Who Should You Vote For

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

New Opera (v8)

It might be just coincidence, but I felt like checking the Opera web browser site today - something I do only rarely. By chance, they've just released version 8 of my favourite browser to the world yesterday (Windows and Linux versions, Mac version in beta) so of course I just had to go get it. I've been using it for a year or two (ish) now and although I occasionally switch to Firefox/IE (when in Windows) when I have to, if I could live in Opera I would.

For the majority of people reading this, I suspect you'll be using Internet Explorer, maybe Firefox. If it's IE, where have you been? Do you really like millions of windows open on your desktop, one per page? Everyone else has tabbed browsing. Opera does it well. Your browsing will be more secure with Opera (count the IE hack exploits). It has a relatively small market share but I don't understand why it isn't more popular. Ok, it's advert-supported but you can pay to remove those if they really take up too much screen space (and they don't use much). Firefox might render and work with more pages, but it's just so lacking in customisation and it's not as fast.

For Linux (KDE in particular) users, Konqueror is pretty fast and will render uncomplicated pages fine, but it does fall down on too many sites to become anyone's full-time browser.

Opera is multi-platform, fast, very customisable (find a toolbar button you don't want, or one you want elsewhere? change it. prefer to move back and forwards in your page history with the mouse? you can (guestures). got a key shortcut you want to use for anything? set it up.); and I also rather like their bookmark/history/search/transfers-list (like firefox's download manager) sidebar that you can bring up/shut down with F4 (or any key you change it to), it's search-as-you-type is great.

One of their big features (but not one I care about) is support for different devices - they make a version for your PDA/smart-phone, and for quite a few other types of computer too. It's also really easy to zoom in/out, and it zooms images too. Set up your own stylesheet for it to render pages with and it'll ignore the page's own, or combine them.

In short, it's great. If you've not given it a go before, why not take a look.

Download Opera

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

A word in your ear: phone headsets

So how do you save arm effort and/or neck strain while spending an inordinate number of hours talking to your mate on the phone (or listening to mp3s or the radio or whatever) and keeping it private?

Headphones are the answer, but the connection between them and your device is the problem if you involve style, required power, and comfort:

  1. Standard wired head/ear phones - they only stretch so far, with cable that can flap about or get snagged and pull the 'phones from your ears. The cable always gets tangled up taken off unless you pack them away carefully (that must be a universal law, like bread landing buttered side down).
  2. Bluetooth headset - you look like a twat, to be honest. Especially the over-the-ear style all-in-one kits. Fit and comfort are very important here if worn for long periods. The other option involving a separate box of tricks needs wires again, and while reducing the required length and need for wires draped around the body, still kind of negates the point (although looks better)..

Damn we need another option.

Mad Weekend

Last weekend was totally mad:

  • Friday - pub, drink, talk. Drank a little more than intended.
  • Saturday - attend a colleague's 40th birthday party. Also involved drinking.
  • Sunday - back at midnight after evening with a couple of friends playing the Harry Potter board game (based on cluedo). With an early Monday start that wasn't so great for my sleep.

I need another weekend to recover!

An Audience (for moi)

I started writing this blog partly for myself as a diary: I used to keep one regular as clockwork many years (2 decades-ish) ago, and it wasn't just a phase I went through - I've got about 5 notebooks full. But I also did it so family and friends too, if they were interested, could see what I'd been up to recently. I don't always remember everything worth telling on the phone to everybody, and some people I don't call so much have been surprised before when I've referred to things they hadn't a clue I'd done. Oh, and I suppose there's a bit of fame-seeking/wanting to be heard in the mix too (but not too much, I hope). But I really didn't expect to get any kind of readership, of any regularity whatsoever.

But it turns out someone has been quite interested. At least for a little while anyway. I'm sure they'll give up soon (or already have?) but I got a strange mail a while ago from someone that I really wasn't sure was real, but it turns out they were (I'm still hoping :-), and that I had someone who had read and looked at my site/blog over the course of more than one day! Wa-hoo!!!

Mmmm... Most people probably wouldn't bother blogging, or even mentioning, about having an audience (probably temporary)... of 1... (other than the irregular but intended audience).

PS: Hi, if you're still reading... Don't let me get too big-headed! :-)

Change of Name Deed: Archbishop to Pope

I have been watching the news about the new Pope Benedict, and wondering where each pope gets their name from. So in his "previous life" (as I've heard it referred to) as a Cardinal, he was Joseph Ratzinger; now he's Benedict XVI. So how does one become the other? Why is he not Pope Joseph? An item on the news indicated that he chose the name. So they all get to choose? Hypothesise: you become pope. What name do you choose? Could we ever have Pope Fred? Or do they have to be names of biblical figures? Or of a saint? Or does God "tell" him his new name? Can anyone explain how this works?

Did he have to go to a solicitor and get a change of name deed for it? Sorry, enough being silly.


Is that like Orienteering? Both involve wondering around the country trying to get a clue, and there's only one winner.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Astrology - true traits or gobbledygook?

I'm not a believer in using astrology to predict the future, but I do believe in the time of year you were born having an effect on your personality, or at least a tendency to influence. I think it's more likely to do with the seasons or other natural environmental factors than certain stars or planets, or maybe even the mother's pre-natal hormones; but it does seem to match up with character traits more often than chance would allow. Has anyone ever researched this?

It would be interesting to find out how astrology developed and whether there was any logic behind it or not. That might be rather hard to do, as the basic art/science (leave you to argue that one out) has been around for thousands of years - ever since the Greeks I think, maybe earlier.

There's other, personally observed evidence I could cite to corroborate the personality-traits part of this hypothesis. I know two Leo's quite well who show typical Leo-like personalities in many ways. Both come from completely different backgrounds, they know each other well but only in the last 10yrs or so. I can display quite strong Taurus features sometimes, but be non-typical at other times. I am right at one end of the date-range for Taurus though. Obviously if everyone acted exactly how their star-sign said they should everything would be way too boring and predictable, we'd all be using it to our advantage and people would get used/taken-advantage-of because of it. My brother is an Aries and I think that has some matches too... So is it all just fluke/my human brain being particularly good at seeing patterns that aren't there (as we're all wont to do), or is there more... (cue Twilight Zone theme music to fade)

Extensive use made of's Thesaurus earlier! Great tool when you know what you want but can't quite locate the exact word from memory.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

New Scrubs!

Anyone who can get E4 and is a fan of the wacky hospital-based sitcom Scrubs should know that it's just started a new series and is looking like it's going to be just as funny as the last one. I trhink this must be the third series at least now, and it's fairly well known but hasn't creeped into the general population anywhere near as much as say Friends, ER, or more recently Will & Grace.

It's great comedy, a edging towards slapstick in it's humour approach, most of it revolving around the relationships between the main characters and the situation part of it, their jobs. What's more Heather Graham's joined this series as a new doctor and I'm more than happy to watch her. Actually, it didn't have any major eye candy before - except when Tara Reid ran for a while as JD's girlfriend. Elliot's kinda cute but not in the typical hollywood fashion, and that character's a bit messed up psychologically too. Er... well I think most of them are a bit messed up to be honest, makes the humour so much easier; but you can still understand them even when they go past the normal empathy point.


Saturday, April 09, 2005

Local libraries on the net

Wow, this is a revelation. Well, maybe that's OTT but I just found out you can renew library books, check any requests, and get notified by email for any overdue renewals on the internet nowadays. Well, at least in Surrey. You need your card (with the number) and a PIN code you can get by request from the site or by popping into your library and asking. If you're in Surrey go to the Surrey County Council's website. Don't know about other counties but it's worth a try - google it or something, it might be www.<countyname>

Sunday, April 03, 2005

5280 Green Feet

I ended up watching The Green Mile (aaahh - get the post title now?) again tonight, as Film Four are having a freeview weekend. Didn't see all that many films on that I haven't seen before and was interested in - Birthday Girl was on while I was eating dinner/chatting with our visitors from Canada (landlord's friends) with Nicole Kidman & Ben Chapman; then somehow, I ended up watching the whole of The Green Mile again. Bloody good film, it's one that if you start watching it for any length of time you're just going to have to watch to the end no matter how much you tell yourself you've seen it before and, you know, it really is bedtime...

It gets very emotional, enough to bring a tear to your eye as you really care about the characters. Frank Darabont (director) has done a great job bringing the gravity of death row to the screen without being overdramatic. There are some quite graphical scenes of the executions in there, not comedic B-movie blood'n'guts but horrific scenes that make you think about this type of punishment and wonder how it was allowed. But the movie wouldn't carry as much weight without the shock factor and these thought-provoking images.It really brings it home.

Tom Hanks is great in it as you'd expect, and there are some good strong supporting roles particularly from Michael Clarke Duncan as John Coffey, the mysterious condemned man with a touch of magic about him. The story is based on a Stephen King novel which should tell you something of it's quality. That reminds me - must do some more reading. Bought Dreamcatcher today real cheap at a market - I can always BookCross it if I don't like it.

In short, if you're reading this and intrigued by the movie, and haven't seen it, I strongly recommend you go rent or maybe even buy it. Or trade in to get it at Xiddi.