Texts from Last Night

(501) I'm finding myself talking like I'm texts from last night. That's possibly as a consequence of having read 100 pages of it.

Pirate Party UK

The Pirate party UK just became an official Political Party. This means they're able to raise money, be in elections, etc.

The name might be putting you off. However, they stand for three things (and don't worry, they don't want to run the country, they just want the people that do to think about these things):

  • Reform copyright and patent law
  • End the excessive surveillance of people by government
  • Ensure everyone has real freedom of speech

This particular Cat thinks they're pretty noble causes to take on. Perhaps you might want to check 'em out and decide for yourself...?

I am My Parents

I'm sorry to say, Cat fans, I have aged sufficiently to become my parents. The GF and I went to Carpet Right (In Brixton) and bought carpets for the new pad.

Actually, mucho kudos to Jason in there - he knew his way around hundreds of carpets, knew how to handle a slippery Cat, and worked the calculator with a certain panache rarely found these days. If you're in need of furry floors, head down and see him (and don't bother with those Allied Carpets - some of the allies have an unusually strong union, so don't feel the need to work at times you might find useful).

So we're getting some sort of Zanzibarbarian carpets delivered in a couple of weeks. I'm looking forward to getting them, but it's all a bit grown up, isn't it? I don't suppose they'll let me back in youth hostels now, will they?


I'm growing up... I exchanged contracts on a flat yesterday. That means that mid-July, I'll be a home owner (just around the corner from where I am now). The quantities of money that are involved are scary, but I'm really rather looking forward to it (not least because I'm moving in with the Mrs.).

Right now though, I'm trying to find an electrician. A friend suggested mybuilder.com, which so far has proved to be really rather good. Of course, I suppose it depends what the work is like when it gets done, but it does look like a good site and hopefully a good way to find a tradesman.

After that's done, I'm going to have to worry about the Cat5, 12 volt, wallpaper and paint and then getting my stuff shifted. It's gonna be a busy few weeks when we get there!

More Tube Strikes - A Solution?

Following on from this news about yet more tedious, forthcoming tube strikes I decided to Contact the Mayor (I have contacted TFL about this, but I'm not sure they really understood what I was going on about!).

Here's what I wrote:

Dear Mayor Johnson,

I see, with some regret, that yet again, the Tube unions feel the need to strike. It remains to be seen if this next strike goes ahead, but if it does, it will doubtless cause the usual levels of inconvenience to Londoners across the Captial. The cynic in me wonders if we have generally more Tube strikes as the ambient temperature goes up...?

That aside, I am writing to you with a more pragmatic intent. I have approached TFL about this, but suspect my request was not properly understood by whomever dealt with it. I would like you to arrange that I am fully trained as a Tube train driver (or other critical role that would be impacted by strike action). In return for this, I will volunteer my time to work that job function on strike days. It is my hope that I can do my part in keeping London working, even if there are those who would try to disrupt us.

I will also make this pledge to you: I make all reasonable efforts to resist joining any union, I will not require payment for my volunteered time on strike days, and, even though I am employed full-time, I will make all reasonable efforts to be available to you on strike days, such that you can gain maximum advantage from me for the expense you will make in training me.

I offer this as a single individual. However, I strongly suspect other Londoners may be willing to do the same thing. I would even go as far as to suggest some employers would prefer to see their staff arrive late, having helped their colleagues get to work, than not at all. It would take some 'selling', but it's possible employers may even help sponsor such an effort.

I will leave this matter in your hands. However, I would urge that you give it some serious thought. I generally deplore strikes such as these, and I'm sure other Londoners feel the same way. If I can help a few of them avoid the disruptions strikes cause, I'm sure that would be of surprising benefit to London as a whole.

Yours Sincerely,

I'll let you know what happens...!

Update June 21st: I've had a few utterly useless replies from the Mayor's office. The first was a long diatribe about how the Mayor doesn't like the strikes and how he's put on lots of buses and the like for the strike days. Since this didn't actually answer any of my questions, I asked again. Next reply said that I could apply to TFL to be a train driver (and gave me a link), so I tried again. Finally, I received a proper response saying that the Mayor doesn't deal with TFL operational matters directly, so I'd have to take it up with TFL. I'll give that another try...

The Cognitive Surplus

Looking for the Mouse (via Rivets) is an interesting thought.

Essentially, it suggests that our increased spare time has previously been used up passively by television. Since we now have computers, interactivity and the Internet, we're no longer satisfied by just watching - we want to take part in some way. The interesting statistic is that it would take as much 'brain time' to produce 100 Wikipedias from scratch as is used in 1% of all the television we watch.

It remains to be seen how we'll all use this spare time, our desire to participate, and to think. Once it's all happened, come and get me, as I'll be watching endless re-runs of Friends ;-)

Breaking Drupal Comments into Multiple Pages

I've taken the 'bold' step of breaking pages with dozens of comments into multiple pages. With Drupal, this is easy because it's just a setting in the admin screens. However, there's a problem because the 'Recent Comments' block (down on the left hand side) doesn't link to the right page.

A look at drupal.org reveals a number of patches, but none of them particularly good, and none actually making it into Drupal development. I've just created a 'patch', in the form of a theme template. It uses the Drupal cache system to save a bit of database work, which coupled with the Drupal Block Cache should see pretty decent performance. The theme template is attached to this page. Download it, and stick it in your theme's directory (rename the file to comment-block.tpl.php).

Sponsored 10K Run

I'm doing a sponsored 10K run for ACT. I'd really appreciate some help with the sponsorship, as so far I'm pretty much blagging my place and probably costing the charity more money than I'll make for them.

I should also point out that I'm a bit over-weight, haven't done any exercise in ages and have obviously not done the pre-requisite training. In the past, I could have popped a 10K out without really thinking about it, but at the moment, this is gonna hurt.

Strictly ITM

I was lucky enough to go to the ITM's annual conference gala dinner last week. It was, as you'd expect of the ITM, a fantastically well arranged affair, and of course sported the much anticipated... Strictly ITM dance competition.

There's a bit of a pre-event video here and here, but the main stuff is here:

Caroline & Julian
Fay & Dan
Jason & Lena
Kerrie & Jonathon
Richard & Camille
Paul & Hannah

Well done to all of them... didn't they do well? ;-)

The Marvels of Virtualisation

I had a bit of a geeky afternoon at work yesterday - I got a load of stuff moved from one computer to another. For the first time (for me) though, I used a VMWare Virtual Machine to do all of the transferring.

I've been using VMs for a while now on a knock-about desktop machine I have at werk (running Linux). I use the VMs so that I can try stuff out on the different operating systems and versions we have at work. I also run a few 'proof of concept' web tools for people internally too.

Moving this stuff from one machine to the next was incredibly easy. All I did was to create an empty VM on the target machine (with the same name as the one I wanted to move), and then copied the VM data files over the top of it. Easy!

I know, I know... the promise of VMs taking over the world is because of exactly this. However, I never really knew how incredibly cool VMs can be. I'll have to try dynamic starting/stopping next, and see how that goes ;-)

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