We found this picture

The Billy Boys

We found this picture yesterday in the art centre of Syon House and Richard bought it and a frame for me as part of my birthday present. I hadn’t seen any of Jack Vettriano’s work before, and this picture really appealed to me. I was surprised to find out he is Scottish, as this picture really makes me think of the USA, probably because I associate the style of dress with gangsters. “The Billy Boys” is on display at Portland Gallery in London, and I feel that I may need to go and see the picture in the flesh (so to speak).


I’ve just finished reading an e-book, one of only two that money has been spent on. I’ve read quite a few classics from memoware.com (available free of charge). The first book I read which was only digitally released was “Jagged Greenstone” by Loren Teague (get it here). Whilst the story, from what I recall, was possibly a little weak, I found the experience of reading it on the visor a pleasant one.

The book I’ve just finished,
“Presumption of Guilt” by Jay Abramson, was not such a good experience. I like the whole e-publishing idea. I think it’s a good way to get published, and a good way to test the waters with a story. However, I do not think that it is an excuse for poor spelling, poor grammar and missing words. “Presumption of Guilt” is littered with them. This distracted from the whole experience for me, and I feel that the $6 that my friend paid to buy this book for me could have been better spent.

I am not going to let this unpleasant experience stop me from reading more books in this way. But, I might be more careful in how I choose them. (Pdabookstore.com allow you, in most cases, to download a free excerpt, normally a chapter or so). I don’t think digital publishing should do away with the quality elelment. If money is being paid for an e-book, then I want it to be of the same quality as if I was paying for printed media. The odd mistake is understandable, even bestsellers have those, but the amount of errors in this indicated that it had never even been proof-read.

Ironically, “Presumption of Guilt” is actually a pretty good story, lots of twists and turns, possibly a little bit slow in places but overall pretty good. It’s a shame that I don’t feel that I could ever recommend it because of the grammar and spelling errors.

My grammar may not be perfect, but I’m not charging you $6 to read this 🙂

Yesterday completed my notice

Most of the NS web team

Yesterday I completed my notice period and left my job at New Scientist. I’ve been working with them since the site launched on 5 October 1995. So, it’s going to be odd, but I needed to find something else to do and move out of London. Not sure what that will be. Hopefully I won’t miss the people, because I’m going to try to stay in touch 🙂

Thanks for the send off guys! And the geek toys! There are more photos.

It always disappointing when

Tank crossing road sign

It’s always disappointing when you see a different road sign, but then don’t see the thing
you’re being warned against — rock slide, flood, falling rocks… or tank crossing signs like this one, taken someplace around Salisbury Plain.
Still it’s good that we have the signs because if you were driving down a country road and turned a corner to find, without warning, a tank in the middle of the road you’d probably be surprised.


Lotus 340r front view

Wow! One of our web servers needed rebooting at the hosting place we use, and people had been trying to get out of doing it all afternoon, it’s normally such a hassle to go over there and do it. Then Jon (one of our Director’s) said we could take his car. So, we did. We took his Lotus 340r out for a spin to the hosting site, Tricky got to drive it, and I got to be the passenger saying “Wow” a lot. Cool car, really cool, impractical for London (no roof, no doors – those kind of things) but definitely well cool. He bought it around this time last year, and guess what, he has a website dedicated to it. There were 340 of them made, and his is number 157. Wow!

Lotus 340r side view

eat grass!

Nick and George share a meal

This is a photo of our technical director, Nick – he claims that his horses always look really happy when eating grass, so he thought he’d try it too. He had his own web site dedicated to his love of horses, so you can see for yourself all about his current two horses, Bertie and George (George is pictured above).

Foot and Mouth

Foot and Mouth did have an affect on our weekend but, it was less than during our recent weekend trip to Wales. We went to Stonehenge which was partially open (you could walk along the paved area and view the stones – something I’d never done before – but couldn’t get all the around the stones. The rest of the time we were on the coast (which it seems a lot of people chose to do – see Seaside boom as tourists shun countryside
), and walked from Milford on Sea to Hurst Castle and back again along a small peninsular which was a really great walk. I think it’s fair to say that it didn’t really affect us this trip.

We were listening to reports on the radio on Friday morning about other Countries opinions of how safe England was, it was frightening how misinformed some people are – for instance a US high school teacher who said that “you can touch the rump of a cow with no danger, but if you touch it’s hoof, you’re a gonna”. Other people were stressing about how they wouldn’t want to visit the UK at the moment because it’s so dangerous at the moment. There were some people interviewed who seemed to know what it was all about which was reassuring. There is a full report on the BBC News site.

Easter Weekend Hotels

We stayed in a couple of hotels over the weekend, the first was the Hermitage Hotel in Bournemouth (where some friends held their wedding reception on Saturday evening). The Hermitage was quite a nice hotel, although it appeared that we were staying on a floor that was in the process of being refurbished (the room was nicely furnished, but there was no real floor other than hardboard in the corridors). The second was the Passford House Hotel near Lymington (New Forest area). This was another hotel we found on the Johansens website (see our blog about Aberystwyth) and again it was a wonderful experience. The service was excellent, and the food was of a high quality too.

Disaster struck this morning

Disaster struck this morning. There I was hot-synching my Handspring visor, when it told me that it’s batteries needed changing. No problem I thought and got some nice new duracells for it. I took the old batteries out (some Nimh rechargables) and put the new Duracell Ultras in. As usual, this was done in the minimum amount of time possible to ensure that it didn’t reset. So, having put the new batteries in, I turned the visor on. No response. The screen just stayed blank and there was no power. Aaaggghhh. So, my next thing was to find another set of batteries and try those. Still no response. Eek! Panic! Panic! I decided to press the reset button to see if that made any difference, there was now life and I got the Palm OS screen over and over and over again. The last chance was to take the batteries out altogether and let it “chill” for a while. This worked. The visor was okay again. Odd, very odd. I reinstalled all the stuff and it now seems to be ok.

After a little bit of investigation on the web, it would appear that you need to tell your visor that you’re using Nimh batteries (which I hadn’t – oops!). I’m planning on downloading one of the apps like Battery Meter Hack from PalmGear as this allows you to specify the type of batteries you’re using.

Okay so left the

The crush of people waiting to get on an already full train
People in front of me desperately trying to find a space

Okay, so I left the house this morning, and got to Ealing Broadway to discover that the Central Line had a signal failure in central London and so was running a delayed service. They weren’t kidding – the first tube out was due to leave 15 minutes later and was only going as far as North Acton (2 stops along the line)

I put my usual “central line problems” plan into affect and went to join the huddle of people waiting for the mainline train service into Paddington. Oh joy! There were delays here too. The first train that arrived was already pretty full and only a handful of people managed to get on it. I joined the huddle determined to get on the next one. I did, and stood in the area near the doors – an area of around 18 square feet – with about 18 other people. Cosy! (I wonder whether there are any EU directives for transporting people, I know there are for transportng livestock).

After a few stops along the short journey we arrived at Paddington and I followed the herd down to the Underground only to discover that the Circle line also had delays and an approximate 15 minute wait (ever felt like someone doesn’t want you to get in to work?). I was pretty fed up of hearing about delays by this stage so decided to try my luck on the Hammersmith and City line – this involved walking pretty much the length of Paddington just to get to the ticket barrier which wouldn’t let me through (the ticket barriers all record where you’ve been and I guess that with all my comings and goings this morning it had decided something suspicious was going on). Fortunately there was a London Underground guy around who let me through just in time to get on a tube heading East to Farringdon.

There were no further delays to my journey, but unsurprisingly the tube was again very full. I arrived at work fairly exhausted already, and I can’t help wondering why the “privilege” of being delayed and crushed costs me £86.10 per month.