Archive for June, 2004

‘A big disappointment’

Thursday, June 24th, 2004

So says Michael Owen. I’m sure Andy will blog the last hour’s events better than I. Sad.

Good grief

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2004

SWMBO and the sprogs like to watch Who Wants to be a Millionaire, whilst I’d rather crawl over broken glass. Having recently grabbed the Who Wants to be a Millionaire Junior board game second hand off the net, they sat down to play it this evening. I made myself scarce and jumped on the PC to read mail, blogs and newsgroups, whilst answering a few calls on my mobile phone. I grabbed the fourth call in an hour – and heard sprog number three say “Hi, it’s Chris Tarrant here from Who Wants to be a Millionaire….”. Yes, that’s right. SWMBO was using me as her ‘Phone-A-Friend’…from the house phone…in the living room 15 feet away. Is it any wonder all you folks out there are my best friends?

for geek and non-geek friends…

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2004

If anyone one of my regular correspondents is interested in a certain popular beta doing the rounds, let me know.

A personal thank you to Bill Bryson

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2004

I have always liked Bill Bryson’s books, enjoying his easy style and ready wit, and often suspected that I’d like the man in person should I ever bump into him. Whilst that remains highly unlikely, I am more convinced than ever that I’d like him. As the parent of a child who continues to undergo testing and treatment at Great Ormond Street Hospital, my eye was caught by today’s announcement that Bryson has donated a recent £10,000 science writing award to the charity which helps the hospital and it’s research facility, the Institute of Child Health. Bryson won the Aventis award for his popular science book A Short History Of Nearly Everything. Upon hearing of Bryson’s intentions, Aventis matched his donation and the money will now go towards a new gene therapy unit at the IoCH. Our family continue to benefit from the efforts of the doctors, nurses, researchers and staff at GOSH and the IoCH to push the boundaries of child medicine and increase the understanding of genetic disorders. For helping continue that work, my thanks to Bill Bryson and Aventis.

England 4 – Croatia spanked

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2004

Reading the teleprinter (remember World Of Sport?) on last night’s match, my resident pundit Andy writes:

“OK, we knew what the result had to be after the national anthems. The only anthem more dirge-like than our own.

A commendable performance. However once again there were weak moments and performances.

The first Croatian goal? Set-piece, cough. A decent keeper would have been on top of that and would have held it. The second Croatian goal? More or less a set-piece. I hate to have to agree with Peter Reid on account of his being a scouser and all, but that back post was more open than a Off License in Keighley. Michael Owen was his usual self though. Good to know that our prized striker is always a yard shorter than the previous time. I had visions of him being sat in the crowd by the end of the game. Which is where he should be.

I was more impressed with the Croatian keeper than James which is going some seeing he let in four goals.

Rooney though? Rooney? Say it with me now. ROONEY. You knew both his were going in. The man may be a scouser but Jesus H son of a Biscuit Christ, there is hope in this life.

I’d have personally prefered Greece (cough, Ronaldo, cough) but Portugal will do.

One last bit of punditry. Nice shades Posh.”

I have family in Keighley.

Gmail Tips

Monday, June 21st, 2004

It seems that Gmail has brought out the creative streak in a good few beta users, with a rash of handy tips being posted in the forums and on websites. I have got with the program way too late to be amongst those posting but many revolve around clever use of Gmail’s label and filter features to ‘enhance’ functionality. A couple that I have found useful so far are below along with links to some others.

How to save a draft email for later use
1. Create a label called Draft.
2. Create a filter that labels an incoming email as ‘Draft’ when it reads both the From and To addresses as having my gmail address. By checking the ‘Skip The Inbox’ (Archive mail) option, your drafts will not show up in you Inbox but simply await use in the archive.
3. Now you can write your drafts and, when you wish to save them for later use, simply send the message to your own gmail address. When it arrives, it will be labelled as “Draft”.
4. To access a draft previously saved in this way, simply click on the ‘Draft’ label in the lefthand pane of the main view (or elsewhere) to see all your draft mails.
c/o enbguy – Gmails forum

How to keep notes/records in Gmail
1. Create a contact called ‘Notes’ with the email address of
2. Create a label called Notes.
3. Create a filter that adds the ‘Notes’ label to any incoming email addressed to Again, by checking the ‘Skip The Inbox’ (Archive mail) option, your ‘Notes’ mails will not show up in you Inbox but simply await use in the archive.
4. To file a note from another email account (or have a friend do so), simply send the information in a mail to with a suitable subject title to help recall.
5. To file a note from your own gmail account, simply compose the note with a suitable subject title to help recall and select the Notes contact with the created in step 1 before sending to yourself.
6. To access a note mail previously saved in this way, simply click on the ‘Notes’ label in the lefthand pane of the main view (or elsewhere) to see all your Notes.

More on filtering with the plus (+) command can be found on the Gmail Gems blog linked below.

c/o Jim – Jim’s Tips

More of the same can be found at BLADAM and the very sorted Gmail Gems which has an Atom RSS feed as well.

Metblog is coming to town

Monday, June 21st, 2004

After successful launches in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco, Metroblogging is heading across the Atlantic and up the Thames to London.

Metroblogging is a collaborative blogging venture launched by Sean Bonner and Jason Defillippo and based on the successful formula used at The stated aim of each city-based metblog that comes online is to cover everything from ‘event listings to general rants, photos to reviews’ offering both local and remote readers a ‘hyper-local look at what’s going on in the city’ and where a ‘group of regional bloggers give each site a new perspective on daily life. Less calendar listing, more friendly advice’. Sean and Jason are seasoned veterans of online projects and are responsible for some of the more notable successes amongst the plethora of dot com disasters. European bloggers might be more familiar with some of the company these guys keep, like Chris Pirillo of LockerGnome fame and the actor-turned-blogger-turned-writer Wil Wheaton.

Why am I mentioning all this? It might have a little something to do with the fact that Sean rather rashly signed me up to write for the London edition – I’ll post when it goes live.

England’s National Dish…

Monday, June 21st, 2004

…is curry, according to some sources. I have just rustled up and eaten a cracker of a fish curry to prepare for the match and Andy’s punditry, so I thought I would share it with the world. It tasted really good despite the fact that most of the ingredients were scrag ends which I found lurking at the back of the fridge and freezer. As I used the cheapest own brand frozen cod fillets and a chuck of haddock of indeterminate age, I can only assume that it would taste better with fresh ingredients.

Ingredients for two
2 tablespoons any old cooking oil
1 medium onion finely chopped
½ red pepper finely chopped
½ green pepper finely chopped
1 tsp chili pepper finely chopped/paste
2 tablespoons curry powder (Rajah Mild Madras used)
200g tub creme fraiche
3/4lb cod fillets, cut into 1 inch cubes*
1 clove of garlic finely chopped/paste
salt and pepper to taste
dried dill and coriander to taste

Heat oil in a frying pan or saucepan over medium heat.
Cook onion, red chili and peppers and stir until tender – about 5 minutes.
Mix in curry powder and continue to cook and stir 2 to 5 minutes.
Blend creme fraiche and herbs into the mixture and simmer until thickened.
Mix in cod cooking 3 to 5 minutes, until cooked.
Season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

Serve on a bed of plain basmati rice sprinkled with hot paprika powder and fresh green herb of choice. Nice with Guinness.

The Gmail privacy issue – my €0.02

Sunday, June 20th, 2004

Given the plethora of opinions on the subject – like those of the broadly welcoming Tim O’Reilly and the largely naive ‘gmail-is-too-creepy’ folks over at Public Information Research Inc. I will keep this brief.

If you have major privacy issues, you perhaps shouldn’t be using email. At all. Ever. Or the internet. Or a debit card. Or a library. Or a health service.

Common or garden email is by definition insecure, not particularly private and leaves bits of your life all over the place. Just run a traceroute to your mail server and count the hops to get there. What makes me hoot is that the PIR Inc. folks above have thrown up a whole anti-scary advertising-supported web-based email site with the obligatory ‘About Us’ page…with a Yahoo email address! That’s Yahoo. Who’ve just increased their mailbox size to compete with Gmail. And also scan email. And also target advertising on their Group emails. And display this message:

I rest my case.

As for me, I think it looks nicer than many GUIs, has some good features which I’ll use and some I probably won’t. More than likely, I’ll use it for maillist/forum stuff and the like as does my friend Pocket Goddess, who has written a fair and balanced appraisal of the service here.

The antidote to Henry James

Sunday, June 20th, 2004

Both SWMBO and I read a great deal, most often in bed at the end of the day – read into that what you will – and last night was no exception. As usual, whilst she read Alexander McCall Smith’s The Full Cupboard of Life, SWMBO had flung her bookmark somewhere on the duvet where it would scratch my arm annoyingly as I turned the pages of my own tome which I now realise, spookily enough, is The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by the same author. Grabbing said bookmark, I glanced at what was written thereon:

“Summer afternoon – the two most beautiful words in the English language”. ~
Henry James

To which I can only reply:

“Well, you have never been struck down with streaming eyes and constant sneezing that accompanied the worst hayfever attack of your bloody life after brief visit to Hampstead Heath, matey”.

Seriously, can anyone out there enlighten me as to why I can be completely unaffected by hayfever one year and absolutely hammered by it the next?