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A quick shout out

Anyone remember Cass Brown of Cancergiggles fame? The guy who wrote this? Oh, and an entertaining little tome entitled ‘Mountains are easy‘.

We Shouldn’t be here

According to today’s regulators and bureaucrats, those of us who were kids in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s probably shouldn’t have survived.

Our baby cots were covered with brightly coloured lead-based paint which was promptly chewed and licked.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, or latches on doors or cabinets and it was fine to play with pans.

When we rode our bikes, we wore no helmets, just plimsolls and fluorescent ‘clackers’ on our wheels and hardly any brakes. We popped wheelies, fell off and lost skin in the process.

As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags. Riding in the front passenger seat was a treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle – tasted the same.

We ate dripping sandwiches, bread and butter pudding and drank fizzy pop with sugar in it, but we were never overweight because we were always outside playing.

We shared one drink with four friends, from one bottle or can and no one actually died from this.

We would spend hours building go-carts out of scraps and then went top speed down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into stinging nettles a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back before it got dark. No one was able to reach us all day and no one minded.

We did not have Playstations or X-Boxes, no video games at all. No 99 channels on TV, no videotape movies, no surround sound, no mobile phones, no personal computers, no Internet chat rooms. We had friends – we went outside and found them.

We played football and cricket, and sometimes that ball could really hurt.

We fell out of trees, got cut and broke bones and teeth, and there were no lawsuits. They were accidents. We learned not to do the same thing again.

We had fights, punching each other hard, getting black and blue – we learned to get over it.

We walked miles to friend’s homes.

We made up games with sticks and tennis balls and ate live stuff, and although we were told it would happen, rarely were eyes poked out, nor did the live stuff live inside us forever.

We rode bikes in packs of 7 and wore our coats by only the hood.

Our actions were our own. Consequences were expected.

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law. Imagine that!

This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers and problem solvers and inventors, ever. The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all.

Cass, who died just after Christmas 2006, was an inspiration to a lot of people. Especially some of us veterans. You might even call him a godfather of blogging. Anyone else remember the man? Blog-City, the platform he wrote on (So much for the Internet being ‘Forever’) is now defunct, but some of his wit and wisdom may be found using the Wayback machine or similar.

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Excuse me for a minute or two.

The new job I’ve taken on is one of those you really really hate after a while. Not because it’s that difficult, just that I have to interact with smug NPC bureaucrats who have to follow their obstructive rules ‘cos it more than their job’s worth to meet me half way. I don’t get this kind of dumb insolence dealing with the private sector.

Between them and my employers asking me to do the highly improbable, I’m having a real ‘Dave’ kind of a day.

Sixteen hours later…

Early yesterday afternoon my Windows 10 laptop informed me that there was yet another ‘upgrade’ for my machine and that it was going to nag and nag until I let it do what the Micro-Serfs wanted it to. In the early hours of the morning, some time around five thirty AM it finished ‘upgrading’ and to be quite honest I can’t tell the difference. Apart from some losses of functionality, like losing the zoom function on my webcam, for which I have since installed some proprietary software. Stuff that actually works and is stable. Unlike Windows 10.

Now here’s the thing; I started my working life in IT configuring and sorting out Windows based kit back in the early 90’s and I can safely say with my hand on my heart that I have never had to upgrade computers this often and take so long to do it. Even back in the early days when all upgrades had to be done manually, but never this often. It seems that never a month goes by that the ‘upgrade’ warning comes on and your machine is essentially unusable for four to five hours. This time sixteen hours elapsed between me heaving a heavy sigh, clicking on the ‘Upgrade and restart’ option and going off to read a modestly long book, water the deck garden, dead head the roses, clean my kitchen, watch a couple of YouTube documentaries, get most of a nights sleep and make some sausage rolls for tea this afternoon. Which left me another six hours to play with before the ‘upgrade’ finished its last reboot. I could have cloned ten hard drives in that six hours using Ghost, working sequentially and starting over on a fresh hard drive that needed formatting and wiping first.

It’s the longest I’ve ever spent upgrading a machine. To ‘upgrade’ three apps? Not to mention that my laptop feels like it’s running almost twenty percent slower than before the upgrade. Now I would go down the Linux route if I could find a version that would work with my laptops wi-fi card. Don’t even get me started on Apple, over-priced, data-slurping S.O.B’s. So I’ll be switching off the ‘upgrades’ using the tips and tricks listed in the video below.

The upside is that for my next laptop, I will definitely be looking at one which will function properly with a Linux build and KDE desktop. Windows will not be a purchasing option. Which is a pity. They’ve had a couple of really good platforms; Windows 2000 (SP4) and Windows 7. The rest have been, in varying degrees, total kak. I will be a Windows user no longer.

Site Admin

Work has scaled down to the point where I’ve signed off on all my allotted tasks, finished all the associated administrative duties and set up for the next round, which doesn’t really get going for a while. So I thought I’d spend a little time updating the blog and getting rid of stuff I don’t want. There was a currency widget that wasn’t working right, which I may replace, also the notes about Facebook and Twitter. Since I don’t use (and have great distaste for) either platform I removed both text and links at the bottom of each post.

A number of non-Scriblerus blogs which have not been active for a long time (over two years) or have gone completely dark have been removed from the right hand sidebar. I think I’ve updated the rest to keep up with their authors current activities. Any discrepancies, let me know.

Snow drama

We’ve just had a dump of snow that has come and gone. Probably at least twice what the UK has had during it’s latest ‘Snowpocalypse’. For example, on Sunday Mrs S and I were driving across to the south west of the Island and big white flakes were coming down like nobody’s business, hitting the ground then disappearing. But then we’re geared up for it over here, all weather tyres and every other car is an AWD or a 4×4. Some AWD’s being more equal than others. The Winter tyre change is just something you do every year. Those with only traction on one axle tend to have a spare set of Winter wheels ready for driving. There’s none of this nonsense with ‘The wrong kind of snow’ either. We get the same kind of cold wet and heavy type of stuff as the UK, and the occasional six inch fall is treated with insouciance. Anything more, well, road clearing is mostly done by local contractors who have their own chainsaws for clearing fallen trees. On rural roads they don’t wait for the Council workers to get out of bed, the problem’s in front of you buddy, you fix it. Likewise, airports and suchlike keep running no matter what. It takes a fall of over a six inches (All right, fifteen point two four centimetres) within twenty four hours to come anywhere close to shutting those down.

Today there’s no snow left except for the odd north facing slope or compacted pile of dirty ice shunted over into a sheltered corner, slowly melting in the rain. Business as usual. No drama. Only a month or so away from Spring. Even then we’ve had serious snow in April, over two feet on one occasion, which was my first encounter with the term ‘snow day’. There’s even been the odd strinkling in June around the 49th parallel. But that’s weather in the northwestern Pacific rim for you. And we’re about the same latitude as Bordeaux, France.

Not that it matters, it’s all Milankovich cycles, Solar irradiance and changes in albedo anyway.

Apart from the cold outside, Windows 10 is screwing with my wireless keyboard and mouse setup. Both started playing up out of the blue two days ago. Tried fixing with the Logitech receiving package, but no improvement. Windows 10 is truly shite. Every update brings new fuckups. I haven’t had this much messing around with an operating system since MS-DOS, which at least had the benefit of being a stable platform. Windows 10 with the latest upgrade is a buggy, unreliable pile of crap. Mostly because I’ve had to go digging through Device Manager to reconfigure the power management settings after this last fucking update. Not just in one, but all devices, from USB hubs to Mice and Keyboards.

From an ex-support technicians perspective, there were only two versions of Windows that were any good. Windows 2000 because with service pack 4 it was almost bulletproof and Windows 7, because it was the last Windows package to do what the bloody hell it was told, and not allow some Microserf to remotely mess around with your well-configured systems. It’s why I used to switch off the latest update until the tech forums reported all clear. XP was barely tolerable, Vista was utter crap and 8.1, well, best avoided if you want my advice. 10 is a complete abortion. The ‘Home’ edition worst of all.

What scrolls my knurd is the constant basic system changes every time a new bell and whistle becomes available. I spend time and energy setting up my laptop to do exactly what I want, when I want it to. I don’t want the fucking thing to keep second guessing me. Firstly it’s annoying, secondly it’s time wasting, and thirdly it’s completely patronising. It’s got to the point that if old Spoonbanger petulantly did drop a nuke on the good old US of A, I’d bloody cheer if ground zero was Microsoft.

Update: on the topic of driving in adverse conditions, I’ve always wondered why, given Northwestern Europes propensity for cold wet weather, that most vehicle retailers don’t simply spend a couple of extra hundred bucks on all weather rubber for their vehicles. The Ice / Mud ‘All Season’ rating would seem to be the most sensible choice, rather than trust to less grippy compounds which are only really effective above 7 Celsius. Not that there’s much advantage because Summer rubber doesn’t add to the grip if you spend half your time (Like the majority of UK drivers) in heavy traffic commutes.

For a personal anecdote, our Geolander G95’s hold the tarmac nicely in all conditions (Tried and tested) from temperatures in the high 30’s Celsius, heavy snow to intense downpours and packed ice. The rear tyres are due to be replaced with a new pair at 130,000KM (80,000 miles) this September. Still with 1mm remaining on the ‘safe’ tread. Wondering which make is best for your shiny tin box? Start here with a 2017 survey.

All of the above is rather academic really, if as JuliaM puts it so succinctly in the comments, “No machine is worth much if the meatsack behind the wheel hasn’t bothered to RTFM!”

Unclean

“Unclean! Unclean!” Chortled Mrs S.
“Thank you dear.” I responded tersely. She knows I don’t respond well to false sympathy.

I’ve picked up a rather painful but not completely debilitating type of virus infection which means I currently have a bad case of spots before the ankle. Which has led to me popping painkillers like they were sweeties in order to stay half way sane and functional. For which the occasional bit of light relief is required from the late great comedy team of Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe a.k.a The Goons.

Just in case I’m infectious have exiled myself to the spare bedroom. I’d laugh, only that hurts even more. Bugger. Hi-ho. I console myself with the old stoic country axiom; what cannot be cured must be endured. These things last around two weeks maximum if you take care, so I’ve another eight or nine days to go. Note to self; lay in extra Ibuprofen.

Anyway, if my Doctor calls about my set of tests from last week to tell me, “Bill, you’re sick.”
I can reply, “Tell me something I don’t already know. I caught it when I went to get those routine tests you ordered.” Although this dose of the dreaded Lurgi won’t show up in those test results. Infections in the incubation stage are hard to spot.

So if I’m a bit slower than usual answering or approving comments, don’t worry. They’re on my to do list. Or my to don’t list. Whatever. Catch you on the flip side.

All this and it’s started snowing.

Off the grid

Presently not posting as much because of work. One particular job has turned into a serious mission because before my hiring other people had gotten really sloppy. So at present it’s down to your working fingers to fix all their cock-ups and fit in some practical workarounds. Working wonders and shitting miracles to meet deadlines which heretofore have gone whooshing by like they were summer breezes. A lot of expostulations are being wrung from my lips like: “Oh, FFS!” or “Seriously!” as I dig through the layers of half baked buggeration, trying to clear their Augean Stables. Fortunately I do not have to do this the hard way like Hercules as I have the equivalent of a Bobcat mini excavator. Still takes up my evening time so I’m effectively working over twelve hour days. Which should give my sole remaining reader an idea of my work environment. This situation will continue until the contract ends in two weeks and I step out of the office and onto a plane. Or at least until I wrassle this hyar ‘Gator back down to a manageable place in it’s particular swamp. Oh what the hell, the money’s not bad.

So what has happened out in the big wide world while I’ve been busy? This whole transgender thingy looks like degenerating onto wholesale institutionalised child abuse. Especially if you live within the remit of the Victorian Department of Work and Education in Australia. Apparently one particularly poisonous piece has been written in policy since September 2017. Effectively giving the ‘Educators’ guidance that in the event of a minor (under 18) stating that they’re a bit fuzzy about what sex they should be and their parent(s) disagree, the Department will intervene and institute procedures which will lead to the prolonged torture of Gender reassignment surgery against the parents express wishes. Here’s the money quote from their ‘Diversity’ policy section on ‘parental guidelines’.

There may be circumstances in which students wish or need to undertake gender transition without the consent of their parent/s (or carer/s), and/or without consulting medical practitioners.

God help the families who fall into this trap. Bureaucrats can whisk their kid away and put and under age child through a life changing medical procedure? As a parent I could fully understand if some local authority busybodies did that to someone’s child and the affronted parent subsequently hunted the Bureaucrats down and cut them to dogmeat. If such a case came to trial and I was on the jury I’d insist on a verdict of Justifiable homicide or not guilty. Mutilation (Which is what gender reassignment surgery really is) of under age children as a matter of public policy? That’s insane. Wait until the afflicted hit that age of majority and are legally capable of making such a decision. Then do it on their own dime if they really, really want to. Not taxpayer dollar. Why? Because it’s an elective ‘treatment’.

Such a policy is misguided also because if these children come back a few years later, deciding that their surgery was a mistake, the resulting lawsuits will fall on the public purse. And who pays for these cock-ups? The taxpayer. This is why it’s a bad idea to make these things public policy. Even real TG’s and TV’s think it’s stupid because they simply want what we all want. To be left alone to get on with their own lives. Which should be an engraved in solid bedrock human right. To be left in peace so long as they do no physical harm to others and to have no physical harm done to them.

As I’m finding out unravelling the mess of my current contract, part of which is rewriting committee written procedures (No! OMG! NO!) so they actually make sense and trying not to shout at fluff-brained time wasters in video meetings. Especially about their arbitrary decision not to have a system of purchase orders to track their invoicing (WTF!). It’s a lot to get through in two weeks. But I will finish because my tickets are booked and I’m getting on that flight no matter what. At close of play a week on Friday my computer goes off, my cell phone goes off and I’m winging my way to the fabled land of Oz where I may find amusements to take my mind off the stupidity of the world.

I may be off the grid for a while, I may find time to post something. Who knows?

TTFN

Chromium malware

Chromium malwareThose accursed eHippies at Google have done it again (may they be consigned to eternal hell fire). Today they have wasted my time (On Victoria Day!) whilst I got rid of a browser I never consciously installed that did not show up in my Windows 7 machines Control Panel. Furthermore, it had no Uninstall option and kept on trying to set itself up in my default programs settings, as well as plugging into my machines microphone. I had to spend two and a half working hours digging through the registry on my machine to get rid of this insidious tentacular pest known as Chromium.

Let me explain; two days ago I found a Google browser called ‘Chromium‘ appearing every time I rebooted my machine. “Funny.” I thought. “I didn’t install that.” I looked for it in my startup folder. Not there. I hunted through my programs list to uninstall and couldn’t find it, yet this piece of zombie malware kept popping up every time I booted my machine. Even stealing program settings from other browsers, which I hadn’t asked it to do. Even if I’d installed the crappy thing in the first place. Diving once more into the tech forums for a couple of hours, I came across a whole host of others so afflicted over the last twelve months. Each with their own cure. Each equally annoyed. So it wasn’t just me then?

In the end I had to edit my machines registry key by key, which I don’t like having to do, deleting a total of over twenty six (I lost count after that) specific keys before I got rid of the wretched thing. It’s bad enough that you have to defend against hackers, crackers and every kind of demented 13 year old who thinks it’s funny to fuck other people around by spreading viruses and malware into their machines without so-called ‘reputable’ companies putting in their own sneakware that changes your machines settings without permission, as well as activating functions you deactivated for very good reason.

After trawling through my laptops various log files I eventually found out where this egregious pile-of-shit code had come from, piggybacking in on a shareware application that I downloaded and then uninstalled after finding it wasn’t up to snuff. Got the shareware via a reputable source as well, which kind of blindsided me.

But I’m damned sure I never asked for it.

Tap room 500 error

As a one time denizen of the Raccoon Arms comment threads, I pop back occasionally to see if Petunia Winegum has finished with his remodel to make it ‘The Tap Room’. Despite multiple cache flushes I was getting a maintenance page, but now I’m getting a 500 Error.

Anyone out there know what’s happening?

Update: Now it’s back to ‘The Tap Room is down’ again.  How very curious.

Monday 11th January:  Database error.

Orange skies

This morning the sky over Victoria is a pale pastel orange. Is this the result of ‘Global warming’? No. It is the result of that recent Coronal Mass Ejection from the sun? Is it the harbinger of a really big thunderstorm? No and no. Apparently it’s good old seasonal wildfires in all those jolly wonderful trees, where the smoke has risen and mixed with the clouds and is refracting the sunlight in that part of the spectrum. When it has been visible, the sun has been a hot pink spot.

Sheer HellWhere is all this smoke coming from? Well, according to wildfires today, a good deal is coming from upcountry Alberta and Saskatchewan. Possibly from fires to the East of Vancouver and West of Seattle. Which feels a bit strange because the last few days have been nearly clear blue skies with nary a surcease of shade. There’s also a mountainside on fire up island but someone else is getting our second hand smoke….. Pass me a beer, will ya?

So much for smoking bans.

Beep bloody boop bolleaux

I like WordPress, I really do. As a blog platform it works, or should I rather say worked. I know it’s free and the mildly customisable templates are free, the widgets are not as adaptable as other blog platforms, but that’s by the by. I like the anti-spam and IP blocking features which help keep the trolls at bay. All that was needed was to engage one’s intellect a little, and it’s a solid piece of kit. Which in my book is high praise. The only thing that is scrolling my knurd at the moment is the way it’s defaulting to this bloody silly ‘Beep, beep, boop’ post editor.

FFS! Who decided that a lower function, less intuitive, far slower to load post editor was a good idea. I mean, seriously guys. It dumbs down the whole platform and has me wondering aloud if there’s something better than WordPress out there. Blogger was once a decent platform until it became too hidebound, too vulnerable. There’s Tumblr and Pinterest of course, but neither fit my needs as a small time billy no mates of the blogosphere. Ghost might be a good idea, but it’s not really free. The software is, but the hosting isn’t.

There’s a bunch of others which I’ll be investigating over the next week or so. Or WordPress could ditch the ‘beep,boop, bloody beep’ crap and let everyone use the classic interface which loads cleanly and without kitsch. Not that I expect anyone to be listening, but it would be nice if they dropped the cutesy nonsense, which frankly chums, is a bit too girly for my liking.

Banned?

No book zoneI was loading up my eReader today with freebie books to read while Mrs S and I are visiting and digesting the Cite de Lumiere and was directed to a download site called http://www.manybooks.net. While perusing these web pages, I found my eye taken by a ‘banned books’ category.

Being eternally curious, I decided to take a quick look at the contents of the ‘banned’ pages to see what salaciousness was contained therein. Well let me tell you chums, I was shocked. Shocked, offended and scandalised to my very core. And also not a little disappointed. Apart from not having a copy of the 1951 epic “Racially pure Nazi BDSM Anal Virgin Porn Queens from planet 9”, by the Paraguayan Science Fiction colossus M Bormann*, a rare but worthy classic where every third word in the dialogue is sexually pejorative, all that I found were things like “Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain, “Common Sense” by Tom Paine and that dull collectivist treatise “Das Kapital” by one of the Marx brothers (Harpo possibly, I’m not sure). Should they have been banned? And upon whose say-so? See for yourselves.

* Bormann, originally a German politician of the 1930’s and 40’s, never got over the poor reviews of his work; was later heard to muse “Maybe I shouldn’t have made the heroine so Jewish”

Man down

Yes, Captain Ranty is gone. Last heard of on his Twitter feed 6th March 2015. The augury was not good. Now via Henry Crun and JuliaM we have the news of his passing. No whys or wherefores, just R.I.P. Colin Grainger.

Despite our differences, I always held Ranty in high regard. His blog sent a lot of traffic my way, and for that I’m grateful. We’ve corresponded privately on various matters from time to time and I actually developed a genuine liking for the man. For no matter what you think of his views, the one thing he didn’t lack was integrity. For sheer bull headed stubbornness, he never minded taking the biscuit, sometimes the entire lemon meringue. He was an entertaining fellow and regrettably this has become an alas-poor-Yorick post. There were too few of his calibre in this world and I know we’ve all got to go sometime, but not without a bit of serious kicking and screaming in the process, eh?

Now please Death, no more of our friends and favoured ones for a while, yes? There’s been too much dying of late, and frankly I need a break.

atque in perpetuum frater ave atque vale

Comments reactivated.

Back by unpopular demand

Well I’ve caved in to apathy. The Archive blog ‘Walking the Streets‘ is back up for public viewing. Shonky HTML and all. Some links might work, most probably won’t. Too many friends have moved on, been sabotaged, given up blogging, leaving the old pile a lumbering Frankenstein of a thing, hardly worth repair; keloid scarring on the HTML and everything. Some code has had to be amputated, other fragments left inoperable. Don’t even try viewing on your smartphone.

Not gone

Just another bloody funeral to deal with. I will be off this particular grid for a while, but may pop up in comments elsewhere.
I atent dead