Friday 23 May 2008


Bookmark and Share
Posted by Picasa

Hard Drive

Just what I need!
I just bought a second hand notebook computer, a bargain in the Police lost property auction. It works fine, but the hard drive is decidedly trivial in capacity....
I'm going to fillet the old drive, and transplant a 250 Gb 2.5" Western Digital drive into its place. The WD drive is, when I look at it, a tiny engineering marvel, only 2 and a half inches across, yet it spins at 5400 rpm, and stores 25,600 times as much as the drive pictured.
Oh. And it costs less than a tank of diesel.

Bookmark and Share

Monday 19 May 2008

Volvo Hot-Rod

This one, I found originally on a site whose owner is unabashedly curmudgeonly.
He posts a load of good stuff, and some I don't care for at all.
He pretty much hates most of his readership, so when it rises above a certain level, he abandons the blog and sets up again with a different name and url.
Usually he gives a few cryptic clues, but that's all.

So no link to him here.

Here's a gem. Scandinavian clean cool lines, nice bit of work.
Ah! Found out more.

"Volvo has shaken off its sensible image to celebrate 80 years of car making with the arrival of the Hot Rod Jakob. This low-slung two-seater roadster is loosely based on the Swedish firm's original OV4 model, which was nicknamed Jakob in the 1920s.

The Hot Rod Jakob's style is in keeping with the original, though the hot rod is shorter and much lower. It also uses the latest technology for its chassis - which is made from carbon fibre - and the engine is Volvo's latest T5 converted to run on eco-friendly ethanol to give 265bhp.

There's a strong mix of classic Volvo parts throughout the Hot Rod Jakob. The steering comes from a 1960's P1800 coupé and some of the braking system was taken from a 140 model from the same decade. There's also a 1990's 940's five-speed gearbox to transmit power to the rear wheels.

There are also plenty of specially made items for the Hot Rod Jakob, including the wheels that have been machined out of aluminium to look like the original's wooden-spoked wheels.

The Hot Rod Jakob was created by Leif Tufvesson and his company Caresto, which has built other one-off Volvo show cars. He says: "We wanted to challenge the usual perceptions of Volvo and show that it's perfectly possible to balance modern design with classic Volvo and hot rod traditions."

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday 14 May 2008

Watch out, Homeland Security....

Henry Koerner. Office of War Information poster, no. 63. 1943. 28 x 20.

Neighbours a bit chubby?
Report them, they may be hoarding fats for some unspecified reason. Call the free number and have them picked up them as soon as possible.
Be vigilant. Watch out for unlicensed liposuctionists. They may be plotting the downfall of our society.
Take waste fats to your friendly local Meat Dealer. The Meat Dealer will turn them into explosives in a government authorised process. Your lard is vital for the nation's safety.

Stop Press:-Donate your excess ankle-fat.
"People admire dainty ankles"

Housewives and butchers all over the country were mobilized to collect cooking fats for conversion to explosive ingredients.

One pound of waste fat equalled 1/10 of a pound of glycerine.

1/10 pound of glycerine equalled 1/5 of a pound of nitroglycerine.

1/5 of a pound of nitroglycerine equalled 1/3 pound of gunpowder.

1/5 of a pound of nitroglycerine equalled ½ pound of dynamite.

Posted by Picasa

The Avenging Narwhal.

"With four magical tusks, and three adorable animals to impale."

Seal, check, Penguin, check, Koala..... Koala?
Posted by Picasa

Secma All Terrain

Posted by Picasa

Okay. I want to play.



The ragged sound quality of the opening bars is on the vinyl record, and on the CD too, so maybe it's meant to be like that. It is NOT corruption of the MP3 file.
This file wouldn't work in's player, must be because its of marathon length.
I'm expecting some of you to hate it absolutely, I never set anything to autoplay, for that reason.
The player is from
They will host all manner of files, and this little player can be had with up to twenty tracks on the playlist.
They also host slideshow presentations, which you can compile and set to music. Pretty neat.

Monday 12 May 2008

Big Eyed Beans from Venus:- Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band 1972

Distant cousins, there’s a limited supply.
And we’re down to the dozens, and this is why:
Big Eyed Beans from Venus! Oh my, oh my.

Boys and girls,
Earth people around the circle,
Mixtures of man alive.
Big eyed beans from Venus,
Don’t let anything get in between us.

Beam in on me baby,
and we’ll beam together
I know we always been together,
but there’s more.

Mister Zoot Horn Rollo, hit that long lunar note,
and let it float.

Men let your wallets flop out,
and women open your purses,
Cause a man or a woman without a big eyed bean from Venus
Is suffering with the worstest of curses
Yeah, you’re suffering, with the worstest of curses.

Put ‘em out in the sun, and when the night come
You don’t have to go out and get ‘em
They’ll glow with you
They’ll go with you
They’ll show with you
Ain’t no losers
Cause they’re on the right track
Cause they’re on the right track
You can be on the right track, woman,
Of course, of course

Ain’t no SNAFU, no fol-de-rol

Check these out, Big eyed beans from Venus
Oh, let a few out, let ‘em pass in between us

Distant cousins, there’s a limited supply.
And we’re down to the dozens, and this is why…

Don’t let anything get in between us!
Big eyed beans from Venus
Big eyed beans from Venus.

Burlesque:- Family

Eggs And Sausage(In A Cadillac With Susan Michelson)

'Nighthawks , Edward Hopper, 1942

A. Non Mouse, on a comment, said that Tom Wait's gravelly, late-night voice for some reason, put her in mind of the paintings of Edward Hopper. I agree, he fits right in, and so he does.
Hoppers most well known painting was called Nighthawks, Here it is.
Tom Waits made an album of that name, a live recording in a smoky bar, Here's the lyrics from one track. One of the things I most like about Waits is that he is a painter with words. artists such as The Eagles, Rod Stewart, Bruce Springsteen, all have had hits with his songs, but when sung by him they take on a totally different atmosphere.
I could see the characters in Hopper's nighthawks as, at half past three in the morning, having earlier been in some turbulent, grey smoke, basement club, desultory dancing, tired now, it's a long way home.

"I was always eh, kinda wont to like consider myself kind of a pioneer of the palate, a restaurateur if you will. I've wined, dined, sipped and supped in some of the most demonstrably beamer epitomable bistros in the Los Angles metropolitan region. Yeah, I've had strange looking patty melts at Norms. I've had dangerous veal cutlets at the Copper Penny. Well what you get is a breaded Salisbury steak in a shake-n-bake and topped with a provocative sauce of Velveeta and uh, half-n-half. Smothered with Campbell's tomato soup. See I have kinda of a uh...well I order my veal cutlet, Christ it left the plate and it walked down to the end of the counter. Waitress, ? she's wearing those rhinestone glasses with the little pearl thing clipped on the sweater. My veal cutlet come down, tried to beat the shit out of my cup of coffee. Coffee just wasn't strong enough to defend itself."

Nighthawks at the diner
Emma's forty-niner
There's a rendezvous of strangers
Around the coffee urn tonight
All the gypsy hacks and the insomniacs
Now the paper's been read
Now the waitress said

Eggs and sausage and a side of toast
Coffee and a roll, hash browns over easy
Chile in a bowl with burgers and fries
What kind of pie?

It's a graveyard charade it's a late shift masquerade
And it's two for a quarter, dime for a dance
Woolworth rhinestone diamond earrings and a sideway's glance
Now the register rings
Now the waitress sings

Eggs and sausage and a side of toast
Coffee and a roll, hash browns over easy
Chile in a bowl with burgers and fries
What kind of pie?

The classified section offers no direction
It's a cold caffeine in a nicotine cloud
Now the touch of your fingers
Lingers burning in my memory
I've been eighty-sixed from your scheme
Now I'm in a melodramatic nocturnal scene
Now I'm a refugee from a disconcerted affair
Now the lead pipe morning fall
Now the waitress call

Eggs and sausage, now a side of toast
Coffee and a roll, hash browns over easy
Chile in a bowl with burgers and fries
And now what kind of pie?
À la mode if you will
Just come in and join the crowd
Have some time to kill
See I just come in to join the crowd
Have some time to kill
Just come in to join the crowd
Cause I have some time to kill

Sunday 11 May 2008

Tom Waits

(contains a pretty thorough biography)
"Here is a beautiful song performed by the great Tom Waits.
Thomas Alan Waits (born in 1949) is an American singer-songwriter, composer, and actor. Waits has a distinctive voice (a gravelly sound reminiscent of Howlin' Wolf, a booming, feral bark, or a strained, nearly shrieking falsetto), described by one critic as sounding "like it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months and then taken outside and run over with a car." With this trademark growl, his incorporation of pre-rock styles such as blues, jazz, and Vaudeville (he embraces a number of styles largely ignored in pop music, including primal blues, cabaret stylings, rumbas, theatrical approaches in the style of Kurt Weill, tango music, early country music and European folk music), and experimental tendencies verging on industrial music, Waits has built up a distinctive musical persona. Waits has also worked as a composer for movies and musical plays and as a supporting actor in films, including "The Fisher King", Bram Stoker's "Dracula", and "Short Cuts". He has been nominated for an Academy Award for his soundtrack work.
Lyrically, Waits' songs are known for atmospheric portrayals of bizarre, seedy characters and places, although he has also shown a penchant for more conventional ballads. He has a cult following and has influenced subsequent songwriters, despite having little radio or music video support. His songs are best known to the general public in the form of cover versions by more visible artists — for example "Jersey Girl" performed by Bruce Springsteen, "Downtown Train" performed by Rod Stewart, and "Ol' '55" performed by the Eagles. Although Waits' albums have met with mixed commercial success in his native United States, they have occasionally achieved gold album sales status in other countries. He has been nominated for a number of major music awards, and has won Grammy Awards for two albums.
Enjoy Tom Waits' unique style!"

All the Italicised stuff is out of the sidebar of this video on Youtube. i didn't write it, but I agree with it.
And I like the images used as background to the music.

Maglev Train+Liquid Nitrogen Cooled Ceramic Magnet


Xulrunner.exe:- Tom Tom Update Borks My Satnav.

Yep.. Rashbre's right. "Xulrunner"
does sound like a scary robot...

Oh yes. Xulrunner.exe.
You see, I'd planned to be somewhere else right now. Where?
oh, never mind. Point is, I thought I'd hook my TomTom One gps/satnav up to the computer, make sure it was fully charged, and check out the route and how long it would take to get to my destination. Easy, ha?
This was at a little past midnight, by the way.
So of course, TomTom home starts up, looks for updates... downloads a gps quickfix, basically an update of satellite data, then it says... there is a new version of Tom Tom home... would you like to install it now?
Yes, I know, more savvy people, i can see you shaking your heads wisely and backing away from me, as if I have the plague. And you're right. Without writing my will, donning body armour, or taking any other sensible precautions, i hit that "yes" button. Fuckwit!
As you have, by now surmised, it did not go well.
As in. Computer froze.. processor working at 100%.
As in... Kill process. As in swear a lot.
Oh. A dialogue box. Xulrunner.exe failed to start with error -0, if problem persists please re-install from........
I did. Several times. I tried to restore my computer to an earlier date, everything. TomTom home is a vile, broken programme. It does not work. what's worse? it borked my TomTom one.
And all the attempts to get it to work?
well, my TomTom backups are gone. Just gone. The company's support pages are diabolical, a mess, and no help at all. So of course, I googled the problem. It seems there are a vast army of lost souls who have battled the same problem. "tomtom xulrunner" gets 1,580 hits.
And there have been problems for a long time.
Yet TomToms own helppages have no search results for Xulrunner.exe. I wonder why?
Their humans don't work weekends.
So I gave up a little before four this morning.
I've found no solutions. Turn off bluetooth, said one TomTom reply to one forum complaner. Well I have no Bluetooth enabled.
Since I got it?
A year ago?
Well when it works, it's great.
However. From new it had a habit of freezing. Turns out that's a common problem too. I'd got it almost how I wanted it. I'd got used to its quirky faults. Like the fact that although I live in northern England, if I choose in the help menus, nearest Police station, it thinks the nearest police station to me is 126 miles away, across the Irish Sea, in Northern Ireland. As is the nearest pharmacy. Yet it can tell me my nearest doctor is about 800 yards away, at the end of this road.
Its battery life away from a power source is poor. It is slow to locate satellites from start-up. It keeps telling me that reception is poor, am I in a building? Even in the open air.
Yes, I'm aware the TomTom one, regional is the cheapy, entry level device, it doesn't play youtube videos or store my entire music collection, it will not show me the latest blockbuster movies.
I just want it to navigate. That's all. And it did that pretty well until TomTom released a screwed up update of their computer interface. And screwed up my device.
Am I mad about it. Hell yes!
Be warned.

Don't Buy TomTom!!!!
Google them first. Find out what their users experience is. And how hard it is to get anything fixed.
If I end up ditching this damn thing you can be sure its replacement won't be from the same company.

Update. After a lot more hours, I've finally got it running. Gettingpast the xulrunner block lead to another brick wall.
removing all traces of tomtom from my computer, seeking out all those scattered files (like the ones in My Docs/user/documents/applications/etc... wiping every one. Reformatting the sd card in the device.... installing fron the original disk, oh, that was only the start of the battle, Of course, when I got it running, it could not see the internet, and refused to connect, then it couldn't access the device at all....
hours. Hours.
And no help from Tomtom, just lots of trawling other people's problems, mostly not directly compatible with mine, but a few helpful pointers. a lot of people quoted the answers given them by TT, which were often accompanied by outbursts of frustration, because those answers did not address the problem. Or they were the classics of any stumped helpdesker "have you tried turning it off, then back on again?" "Have you tried rebooting your computer?"
So yes. I did my installs in safe mode with everything not vital to my computer shut down. Even all the usb devices, printers, scanners, everything physically disconnected.
Only 'C' drive powered up...

Well done Tom Tom. This TomTom Home software rivals Sonyericsson's PC suite for the most bugfilled software I have ever struggled to coax into a semblance of usability.
It's so far from being ready for general use, I'm amazed the company survives.
Yes, I'll agree, TomTom devices, when they're working, are amongst the best. I hear that other makes continue working. Reliably.
And the next time you decide to release a new version, please keep earlier versions live, so at least there's the option of staying with one that works.
Shall I bill you for ten hours?

Tuesday 6 May 2008

Saturday 3 May 2008

Whalesong -right now!

Right now.... In my ears. Live. These whales are singing right now, this minute...
I hooked up to a live feed from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research's marine laboratory in the Antarctic.

Neumayer Station, Ekström Shelf Ice, Atka Bay, north-eastern Weddell Sea.
position: 70°39'S, 008°15'

I started it a few hours ago, forgot about it, there were just random ambient noises, rumbles and creaks, watery sounds.
But! just a moment ago, that haunting sound. Whalespeak. In my room.
Sometimes you hear the icebergs calve. Loud. Right now it's gone pretty quiet again.